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fic: Chanson Triste

Title: Chanson Triste
Fandom: Sherlock
Rating: PG
Length: 603 words
Content notes: No warnings apply
Author notes: part of my Sleeping Beauty series, but can be read as a standalone. Fill for the language/translation square on my trope_bingo card.
Summary: Anthea's love of French is one of the things Ella can't share.



Ella knows she ought to be studying the programme notes, or at least reading the translations of the song lyrics, because she'll be lost once the lights go down. She's never understood why they print the words so small if they're going to dim the lights so you can't read them. But she's too busy studying the audience; it's always interesting to see what a different venue offers by way of people-watching.

She's heard the Wigmore Hall referred to as God's waiting-room, and it's true that a significant proportion of the audience must be in their seventies and upwards. But there are quite a lot of young ones too, chattering excitedly or waving to their friends. Music students, perhaps: Anthea had explained how rare an opportunity this was.

A composer so obsessed with perfection that he'd destroyed most of the songs he wrote. Even so, Anthea said, you never get to hear all of them live; it's always the same two or three. And tonight they're getting the complete works, from start to finish. Seventeen songs, two singers and a pianist.

Ella can hear Anthea murmuring the lyrics to herself as they wait for the performers to appear. Her love of French is one of the things Ella can't share. Persian poetry, unexpectedly, turned out to be one of the things they had in common, but Ella got turned off French at school by a teacher she hated. She knows it was a childish reaction, and she's worked to overcome it, but she's never quite caught up with Anthea's passion for French verse.

The jealousy she knows is there about Anthea's ex-lover doesn't help either.

She's never asked about what happened in France, and Anthea doesn't talk about it. Ella doesn't even know the man's name; Anthea refers to him as the writer, on the rare occasions when she mentions him at all. There was a bad weekend when the phone in Anthea's flat kept ringing, though she didn't answer it after the first time. She'd changed her number after that, or Mycroft had changed it for her, and the man hadn't troubled them again. Ella sometimes thinks regretfully that it would be nice to go to Paris with Anthea, but if that ever happens it'll be a long way down the line.

So an evening of French song wouldn't have been her first choice. But she likes this mezzo, who's usually in trousers - she was a wonderful Octavian in Rosenkavalier, and then the cross-dressed lead in one of those Handel operas Ella can never keep distinct in her head. Written for a castrato, weren't they? Bloody violence and pain in the service of beauty.

Ella wonders what the other songs were like, the ones Henri Duparc destroyed. She's seen that so often in her clients' stories - the rejection and destruction of what they could have had because it doesn't reach some imaginary standard of perfection. Seen it in their relationships, too: the refusal of ordinary love. The need to elevate the beloved to a god or goddess, and the rage when their deity turns out to be only human after all.

What she and Anthea have isn't perfect, but it's good enough, in the best sense of the term. If they never have Paris, they'll still have this, and other evenings like it. Ella glances at Anthea and sees her cheeks are wet with tears. She feels it too, the welling up of emotion as the woman's voice and the piano blend in that passionate outpouring of love and longing, a music so sublime in its sadness that it communicates beyond words.


***

Title from the song of the same name by Henri Duparc.





Also posted at http://fengirl88.dreamwidth.org/149387.html with comment count unavailable comments.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
thesmallhobbit
May. 5th, 2014 09:57 pm (UTC)
We were talking about how destructive the need to attain perfection can be today, so seeing Ella's acceptance of the "good enough" is a lovely affirmation of my thoughts.
fengirl88
May. 5th, 2014 11:12 pm (UTC)
thank you - I'm very glad the fic affirmed your thoughts!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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