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April Ficlet: The Opera House (Merlin)

To kick off my month of ficlets written from the daily prompts at [community profile] daily_prompt , we start with a photography prompt and a very depressing Merlin ficlet that ends rather abruptly.


The Opera House
Merlin, post-finale, 697 words.

Merlin watched the architecture of Albion change over the years. Whenever something particularly new and grand was built, Merlin would wander through it – he wasn’t sure why, perhaps curiosity, perhaps boredom, perhaps it was a masochistic way to remind himself just how much time had passed, how much the world had changed, since he last saw his King.

The new opera house was not yet open to the public. The current king would attend the grand opening in a week’s time, and it would be the first time anyone but the architect, craftsmen, and performers would see the inside. For now, the performers were in dress rehearsal. No doubt nervous and excited to show their talents to the King, nobility, and high officials that would be in attendance at the opening.

No place was barred from Merlin. He walked in the front door and people paid him no mind, because he wished them to pay him no mind. He ran his hand over the finely carved walls, the delicate paintwork, the smooth marble of the staircase banister. This is what kings did these days; they built opulent monuments to display their prosperity and the wealth of their capitals. Meanwhile, Merlin knew of children who were sick from starvation only a twenty minute walk away.

Merlin thought of the gleaming white towers of Camelot. In comparison to this structure, they had been simple, though he could remember how impressed he was when he had first arrived from Ealdor.  Still, for all its beauty, Camelot had been largely utilitarian, as Merlin came to know. Its high white walls a barricade to invading armies, its citadel a stronghold into which they had to retreat more than once, and its high towers housed the archers that kept enemies at bay.

‘You’d hate this, Arthur,’ Merlin thought, ‘this gaudy tribute to opulence – this useless fortress. Come back, Arthur, the King wastes his money on trinkets... very large trinkets, but trinkets still.’

Merlin followed the twisting staircases towards the royal box.  The outing would be one of the very few times the people would actually see their king. He mostly kept himself shut away in his palace – another ostentatious offering to the gods of gold and silver. When he did travel into the city, it was inside a carriage, the shudders pulled closed against the dirty populace, the inside lined with red velvet. When the king arrived to the opera house next week, he would make his way to the royal box where a cushioned throne awaited him... a cushioned throne that Merlin now lowered himself into.

On the stage, the performers were talking, Merlin paid them no mind. He leaned forward to gaze out into the theatre, which was as ornate as the foyer, hallways, and staircases that led to it.

‘Do you think this king has ever slept on the floor of a peasant’s house?’ Merlin asked Arthur. ‘Do you think he ever slept on a bedroll in the forest under the stars? Do you think he’s ever eaten rabbits cooked over a fire by his manservant? I bet he thinks it below him, that no great king would... but he is wrong, Arthur.’

Suddenly, the hall quieted, and then a single voice filled the cavernous room. Merlin’s attention was riveted to the stage and the young woman who stood there. Merlin thought that there must be some magic in her, for such a powerful voice to come out of such a small body.

He couldn’t understand the words, yet his heart knew the song – for she sang of a lost love, long departed. She sang of loneliness, of hopelessness, of a broken heart.  Merlin suddenly thought the grand building too small to contain such emotion; it must be spilling out into the street, over the roads, into the rivers, out to the ocean... for it was Merlin’s heart that she sang of, Merlin’s love, and Merlin’s loneliness.

‘Not such a useless building after all, is it, Merlin?’

‘I’ll bring you here,’ Merlin promised, ‘if it still stands when you return.’

Merlin left before the song came to a close, already knowing that he would never set foot in the building again.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 2nd, 2013 06:29 am (UTC)
And that king would crap his pants. ;)
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 2nd, 2013 06:39 am (UTC)
Indeed! It would be glorious. ;)
Apr. 2nd, 2013 09:20 pm (UTC)
I forgot you were doing this! I like this. It reminds me of part of a LotR fanfic I once read (in fact, the only LotR fanfic I have ever read).
Apr. 2nd, 2013 09:26 pm (UTC)

In tangential related news: I'm going to be reading the LotR for the first time ever this month! I have been spoiled for the story since I was eight, but I figured that if I died without actually reading it myself, I'd regret it.
Apr. 2nd, 2013 09:27 pm (UTC)

I really really hope you enjoy it. And then you talk to me about it mmkay? :P
Apr. 2nd, 2013 09:30 pm (UTC)
Definitely! ;)
Apr. 2nd, 2013 09:34 pm (UTC)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )