Title: Violins in the Dark
Pairings: past and pre Merlin/Arthur
Characters: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: “It sounds like you’re strangling a cat,” Arthur says after he first hears Merlin play. But Merlin can hear the awe and the pride in the ghost’s voice, so he doesn’t stop moving his bow.
Warnings: angst, fluff, reincarnation, blind Merlin, ghost Arthur
Word Count: 990
Prompt: whispers in the night
Author’s Notes: A standalone. But this is also the sequel to “Sing Me a Lullaby” (no more after this.) This is for bunnysworld who wrote two awesome sequels to her drabble in the last prompt and who wanted to know what happens to Merlin and Arthur in their next life. Man, this 6th prompt is amazing.
It’s an old hospital and Merlin isn’t allowed to play there, at least, that’s what Uncle Gaius says. But Merlin goes there anyways, because it’s so bright against his mind in a world where his eyes see nothing. The magic helps him, guides him and tells him what things look like.
The hospital is the brightest place that his magic shows him.
So he goes.
He has always been in darkness, since the day he was born.
He has never minded the dark, despite what his mother and uncle think. He ‘sees’ in a different way, with his magic, the glow of every living creature, the brilliant hues they give off when they are sad or feeling alone. He can hear the music as the colours hum.
Some people are pianos, fluid and smooth or chaotic and banging. Others are flutes, calming and breathing or shrill and frozen. Gaius is an oboe while his mother has always been a harp. His friend Gwen is a flute and Lancelot is a grand piano. Will is percussion, loud and steady.
They sound lonely sometimes.
But when they’re with people they love, they sound stronger in the dark.
Merlin wonders what he sounds like and if his soul ever sings to another violin (because he thinks he must be one, it’s the instrument he plays) as he hears whispers in the night, and hears flashes of a song that is so familiar...
“You shouldn’t be here,” says a voice.
“Who’s there?” Merlin asks, his voice echoing in the abandoned hallways.
There is a pause.
“Can’t you see me?”
“No,” Merlin replies nonchalantly. “I’m blind.”
There is a hushed sort of silence, the stillness of mourning.
“...I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t be,” He grins. “I’m used to it and it’s not so bad. It’s weird. Usually my magic lets me see everything. But you’re faint, sort of washed away. Are you a ghost?”
Another pause. And then a chuckle. It’s rich and beautiful, filling the gaps in his aching accompaniment.
“Sort of. I’m Arthur.”
He hears a faint sound from the sort-of ghost’s soul, but it is too quiet for him to hear.
“I’m Merlin,” he says, hoping to coax the music from his new friend’s heart.
To his delight, there is a lovely trill of strings.
Arthur is wonderful. He listens to everything Merlin says and has the loveliest music around his person. He seems to expand and grow in sound whenever Merlin visits and so Merlin keeps sneaking out to see him.
“It sounds like you’re strangling a cat,” Arthur says after he first hears Merlin play. But Merlin can hear the awe and the pride in the ghost’s voice, so he doesn’t stop moving his bow.
Merlin’s violin is creating its own arches and triplets against the surging song that is Arthur’s soul and Merlin hopes that deep down Arthur can hear it and Arthur will know that he’s playing for them both.
“...Why are you here?” In this place, in an abandoned hospital. “Aren’t you lonely?” And Merlin feels a pang, as if he has had this conversation before.
Aren’t you lonely?
He hears Arthur’s soul dwindle into a mournful chord, the static of the violin strings.
“...I’m waiting, Merlin. I’m always waiting.”
Not for the first time, Merlin wishes that he could lean in and touch his friend’s hand, wants to do more than that, as the years past by.
But he doesn’t and Arthur seems to avoid brushing against him with a cautiousness that Merlin fears means rejection. And so they are still in the dusty waiting room, one listening to the silence, the other to the sad tune that makes him want to cry.
Remember, Merlin hears in his dreams.
“Once upon a time, there was a mad king...”
He coughs up blood in the morning, but the pain cannot cloud the euphoria in his mind as he rushes out the door.
“Arthur! Arthur, where are you, Arthur!” Merlin slams right into the ghost’s chest and revels in the sensation of simple touch, he throws his arms around his prince and basks in the memory and the reality.
“Merlin?” is the panicked reply. “What is that? Is it... blood all over your shirt? What happened?”
“I knew you once, didn’t I? And I died. I died so many times... they overlap in my mind... and now this time, I...”
“You’re dying again, aren’t you? Leaving me behind again too early...”
His violin is screeching; almost tone deaf in grief and Merlin clings to him.
“No, no, I won’t leave you this time, I swear...”
But his prince is trembling, his music screaming out, “But you will leave. You always leave and I...”
Merlin slams their lips together, tasting what he can of the ghost’s mouth, remembering the long abstained taste.
When he pulls back, he can feel his eyes glowing, the magic rolling off of him in waves. And in the middle of it, is Arthur, whose hand is shaking when he feels the beating of not one heart, but two.
Once upon a time there was a prince, cursed to haunt the grounds on which he died for the sins of his father, the mad king. The eternal prince was forced to watch his other half, weakened from the attempt to save the prince’s soul, be reborn again and again.
It would have continued for one thousand lifetimes.
But the warlock made another deal.
Seven lifetimes ended too soon, with pain and agony at its passing, one sacrifice of sight, and his magic would return at full might.
Fate said yes.
And with his magic, the warlock restored his prince’s mortal heart in one kiss.
It’s the hospital’s reopening and two figures stand together on the rooftop, hands intertwined.
If you listen, you can hear a duet of joyful violins, playing in the skies.