A/N: I was going to submit this to a writing contest ("The First Line"), but missed the deadline due to stupidity. sigh Oh, well.

Hamlet has been my obsession for over 10 years, and I was blessed enough to be able to study abroad in Stratford-upon-Avon when I was in college. Ophelia has been of particular fascination to me (suicide or accident?), and this is just a one-shot of her thoughts right before she kills herself.

The Song of Darkness

The inside was dark. Most crypts usually were, but that one . . . that one seemed all the more so for his absence.

"He is dead and gone, lady." The little ditty runs through my mind as I weave the long purples and daisies into a lovely crown.

He always hated darkness, and it was bad enough to see him in that plain box. But to think they should lay him in the cold ground—he, advisor to the King! A noble! Something in my heart died that day as I watched them shovel the earth o'er my father, sealing him inside a darkness no sun could pierce. Such hasty rites profaned his soul, and yet the King—the King whom my father had faithfully served—cared not a whit, barely deigning to glance upon him as he was so unjustly used!

As dark as Elsinore's crypt was, he should have been buried there alongside the noblest of Danes. But he wasn't, and no one would tell me aught of the matter.

Oh, I'd heard the rumors, the hushed whispers and prayers offered to the air after I'd passed by. I lost my wits the day my father died, or so they say. Nonsense. Perhaps I mourn him overmuch, but in light of how poorly he was interred, shouldn't someone? But no one seems to share my sorrow. Not the King. Certainly not the Queen. And Hamlet…

'Tis said that Hamlet had, in his madness, killed my father, and for that reason was sent to England in hopes it would cure him. But I am no fool, no matter how simple a girl they take me for. I saw how Hamlet looked at the King when he thought no one was watching him, especially on the evening of the play. A saner man was not to be found in all of Denmark, and the hatred in his eyes as he looked at the King rivaled the love I found in them when he took me in his arms.

Ah, those sweet arms…those warm lips. How I miss him! I know in my heart I shall never see him again. Should I mourn him? Should I mourn what he took from me, even though I willingly gave it? We'd pledged ourselves to each other. He'd given me tokens of his affection to seal his promise. I'd given my own token in return.

"Quoth she, 'Before you tumbled me...'"

I haven't been able to get that tune out of my head for days now, but I try to ignore it and concentrate instead on the unfinished crown in my lap. The only crown I shall ever wear will be one of my own making. He is gone now. Our pledge will never be fulfilled. And he never even said farewell.

'Tis said he left in haste. 'Tis rumored that Hamlet mistook my father for the King when he thrust that sword through the tapestry—though that is one rumor not even the most brazen of courtiers or servants dare breathe too loudly. Of course, everyone knows it is those most hushed of rumors which bear the greatest truth.

It was not for neglected tribute or to regain his wits that Hamlet was sent away.

I see now, in reflection, that it was misfortune that placed my father where the King should have been. He, who seemed so noble, turned treacherous in the end, betraying the man of whose faithfulness he was so unworthy! Of course, one can't rightly come out and call the King of Denmark a traitor, but a flower tells its own tale, and the violets alone that I would not offer him should have been telling enough for any sensible man. But he seemed not to take its meaning, and I have to wonder which one of us has truly lost his wits.

The truth has finally settled on me, or, perhaps, I've simply accepted it at last: I've been abandoned—by everyone.

Everyone, except the naiads.

I hear them speaking to me in the brook below, inviting me to come closer, to come home. They've been talking to me for days now. Their voices are musical, alluring. Strange, that I never heard them before my father died. Stranger still, that I should be kin to them. And yet, did not Hamlet himself term me a nymph? Perhaps he knew all along. Perhaps they all knew, and just didn't have the strength to tell me. Perhaps they could not bear to part with me.

But now they have parted with me, and from me, and what is thus left for me now? A father dead . . . a lover exiled . . . a faithless monarchy . . . a brother bent on revenge. I could never hear them for all that was around me, but now—now that nothing remains, their songs resound in my ears. They are calling me to themselves, and I long to go.

I lay aside my flower crown, hanging it on a nearby branch. Flowers reveal what the soul has not the strength to confess, though people rarely understand their messages. How else was I to speak, though? But it doesn't matter anymore, for the naiads beckon me closer. I lean over the brook, seeking their faces. Suddenly, they are there, and with open arms, they draw me into their element. The waters close over me, welcoming me with their embrace. There's a peace here, among these naiads, these sisters of mine. Their song washes over me, sweeping me into a darkness even my father would welcome.