Oh, how my blood boils beneath my skin. How dare he - who calls himself Prince of Denmark! - come unto me and declare my grief, my love to be no more than an act? How dare he, who loves no one save himself, proclaim to hold my dear sister closer to his heart than I to mine own?

Who is this man - who so shortly after grieving the loss of a father carelessly slew mine - to declare my sorrows false?

Is it false of me to mourn the ones I love?

The sheer hypocrisy of this prince - who for all his royalty acts as nothing but a petulant child - has ignited an anger deep within me. It is so hot it burns me to the core and I fear that this madness will like fire consume my very soul if I let it.

And so I will allow this anger, this hatred to fuel my thirst for vengeance. I must, for what son am I should I not find my father avenged? To refute this duty would make me no more honorable than that dreaded Hamlet, who though four months past was his father slain has yet to lift a single finger in revenge. His every action is nothing but an act, the world set up for him as his stage; he plays at much but accomplishes nothing.

Revenge is a confession of pain, and though the evidence of our convictions is laid bare before us Hamlet finds within himself the audacity to call my desired retribution a lie.

My hands are trembling, violently so, and I will them to stop but to no effect. My breath comes in pants, but I cannot not achieve the necessary level of calm to abate it. It seems that among everything else even this smallest betrayal of self spurs on my rage; has this devil not stolen from me already? Was my family not enough, must he now have my control as well? All I have left is my physical self, and control of even that is slipping through my fingers. Damn him!

By God, how I want to make him pay. If I do not truly mourn, then he does not yet know the meaning of the word! But I can change that. Yes, I can show this Dane what it means to grieve; the absolute agony of having your heart torn open again and again and again, until there is nothing left but pain and suffering and loneliness. And by God, I will make Hamlet hurt as I have, will make him understand what he has made me understand. I will make him miserable before I -

Before I what?

Before nothing.

We were friends once. Brothers even.

Where did it all go wrong? Since when does this passion inside me burn with hatred instead of love?

There is a sea of questions swirling through my mind, and I fear I am lost in it.

Why, why did Hamlet take it upon himself to question the validity of my grief? Surely he has no reason to doubt my affections for my dear Ophelia, and for my father as well? For what reason must he deny me the right to mourn for my kin?

Am I not an honorable son? Heaven forbid Hamlet actually believes my thirst for revenge is nothing but a sham. The very idea is preposterous, and yet.

In my heart of hearts, I am beginning to doubt myself.

My love and grief for Ophelia are true, of this there is no argument. So why have I allowed such questions, both Hamlet's and mine own, to get under my skin to such an extent as this? Surely I am not insecure enough to be so easily distracted. Surely! And yet I must confound it all, because of this along with all else I have grown skeptical.

It seems I have been robbed of my convictions as well, for now I begin to doubt even my own anger.

It is undeniable Hamlet's words have rattled the very core of my emotions, but now I fear the rage his accusations have provoked within me has been thoroughly misdirected. Perhaps I have spectacularly mistaken the source of my ire. Perhaps it is not the falsity of his claims that have me so incensed, but rather that - and I am loathe to say this - deep in my heart, Hamlet's words ring true.

What an infuriating and terrifying thought that is.

My love for Ophelia is genuine, even in my current disposition I am certain of this. Hamlet's claims have sent me into a burning turmoil, but I am beginning to think that my indignation is not the result of my affections for my sister being called into question. Rather, it is simply that they were called into question at all. It would seem that criticizing the authenticity of my devotions strikes quite the chord in me; I have my suspicions as to why this is, yet I still pray I am wrong. And while to my great relief I doubt Hamlet knows how close he came to the truth, I am horrified by my own apparent ignorance. I have been so utterly, ashamedly blind, about myself of all things!

It is ludicrously ironic that by making false claims Hamlet might have revealed to me an inkling of truth.

Perhaps I am this defensive of my need for vengeance because, despite having so eagerly convinced myself otherwise, the grounds on which I based my retribution were not entirely genuine. It would be exactly as Hamlet insisted, had this nothing to do with the loss of my dear Ophelia. The inaccuracy lies not in the accusation, but in the orientation; I do have false sorrows, but they are not the ones bestowed unto me by my grief for my sister. It is my compulsion to avenge my father that, having been put to the test, no longer seems genuine to me, no matter the angle on which I look at it.

This realization may just tear me apart.

My eagerness to leave Denmark in favour of my studies is something I have never thought much of. However, reflecting upon my actions it seems to me as though I was only running away. Running from what? My father? Nonsense! But now that the idea has entered my mind, it refuses to leave me be. Though I cannot deny that I have always had a rather bitter temperament, I never thought that was anymore than me being who I am.. It is no small secret that my emotions are felt with some intensity - I've been known to cause degree of drama since me and Ophelia were but children - so I never questioned my anger at the world. But now? Oh, God.

Perhaps I have been the hypocrite all along.

All my life I have played the role of the honorable son. I've obeyed my father, loved my sister, never let any man get the better of me and bring my family shame. Here is a script written for me the day I was born that I have followed perfectly, a role in which I so deeply immersed myself that I started to believe the lines on the page were written by my own hand.

I have heard it said that if you tell a lie enough times you start to believe it.

The pieces of this puzzle are fitting into place, and the picture they make is a harsh realization that I do not know how to handle.

I have been playing this role for so long that I no longer know who the man behind the act is. I have never done anything out of love, never acted on what moved me to do so, no! Hamlet was right, that bastard.

The honorable son I believed myself to be is nothing more than a character, instilled into my mind as a child by fear of my father and fear of God; he is not I. He never was.

My love for Ophelia is true, but that is all. I have nothing in my heart for the concept of family, for the burden of our name that has been placed upon my shoulders. I see now why I loved France so much; this burden could not follow me there, but I am there no longer.

Hamlet's words hold true; my desire for revenge is naught but an act. He is the hero of this story, the one who speaks the truth. And I?

I am the villain.

This epiphany leaves a hollow coldness in the pit of my stomach, all traces of warmth gone. I feel guilt, yes, but I cannot take back my actions. A duel has already been set, a new stage in which Hamlet and I are to be the players, the King the playmaker. I cannot take back my actions, but now I know what it is I want. I can take my life back in my hands, refuse the part I no longer wish to play. Now I will write my own script.

If I am the villain Hamlet is the hero, and in no good story does the hero not prevail; for now my actions are my own, and I will fail with honor rather than succeed by fraud.

As Hamlet lifted the cloth from my eyes, I must in turn tell him the truth before I die. It is indeed too late to save either of us, but perhaps there is still time to find redemption. For me and Hamlet both. . Even though truth enlightens the mind, it does not always bring happiness to the heart. Ophelia is still dead and I still mourn. This duel is all I have left. I have done nothing good in my life, but perhaps in death I can redeem myself.

Who we are never changes but who we think we are does, and now that I know what it is I want I might finally do something right.

I think Ophelia would be proud.

A/N: phew! i haven't written anything in years, and this was put together back during my angsty edgy high school days; i was very angry kid and it definitely translates. still, this is one of my proudest pieces of writing to date. laertes' character is one that i think has a lot of depth with potential to be played quite well on the stage, so here's a little bit of good ol' introspection to explore that. feedback would be greatly appreciated!