We Kissed and Said Goodnight @astriferoussprite
We Kissed and Said Goodnight Cross-posted from AO3. Ok, I know I like my stories happier, but I don't know, this just came over me and I had to get it out of my system before it made me even sadder....... anyways, uh, enjoy? Title taken from "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" by Vera Lynn for EXTRA tears.

They say that the Halcyon Hotel is haunted.

It’s not particularly surprising; here in Old London, with its ancient buildings and grim history, death is a dime a dozen, a close friend of every street corner and brick-lined alleyway. It would be more surprising if the old hotel wasn’t haunted by at least a ghost or two. But it's different, they say; most of the Halcyon’s phantom fellows are more recent additions to the guestbook. They’re young ghosts, modern ghosts. War ghosts.

You hear the staff talk about them late at night, after the last dinner guest has retreated to the safety of their rooms and the rest of the world has gone to sleep. The younger ones speak in hushed voices, looking around as if fearing being caught sharing idle gossip; the more senior workers sound as if they’re merely catching up with an old friend, chatting idly about their spectral acquaintances with a cigarette balanced between their weathered fingers. The old head of housekeeping claims that the last time she was in the royal suite, she heard a man scream in the bedroom; the time before that, he sounded like he was begging a woman named Priscilla for something she would never grant him. Room 308 sometimes smells of old blood and damp newspaper when the weather’s foul; they say a Nazi spy was murdered there a long time ago, and he demands to be remembered by all who cross his path. That room is now only ever booked in the most critical of room shortages and most housekeepers make sure to properly cross themselves before entering. But no spot in the old venue is more haunted, they all say, than the grand ballroom on the first floor.

The hotel, whispers the head bartender one night, was hit by a bomb during the peak of the Blitz. The entire ballroom lounge had been completely blown to bits, killing many of its occupants—and the entire band. Allegedly, the bomb had detonated right in the middle of their set; it’s impressive if anyone could make it out alive.

“They’re still upset about it,” she says over a glass of beer late one night. “Well, probably. At least that would explain it.”

“Explain what?”

She raises a neatly sculpted eyebrow. “The occurrences,” she says, taking another sip. “Just you wait until you’re here on a slow night, kid. I’ve heard jazz music when the radio’s off, and some woman laughing in an empty room…” Her eyes flit over to the old grand piano on the stage. “Sometimes, that piano plays itself.”


“Swear to God, kid. The keys just move by themselves…” Another sip. “At least he’s a good pianist. I’d quit on the spot if he wasn’t even any good.”


“Sonny Sullivan, the old bandleader. Back in the forties.”

“The one that died in—”

“The blast, exactly.”

At that, she heads back to the bar; her shift, unlike yours, won’t be over for another few hours. You bid your farewell, sling your pack over your shoulder, and make your way back out the old hotel.

It’s not that you don’t believe in ghosts, per se; you just haven’t seen any yet. Oh, sure, you’ve felt the drafts, saw the doors slam, heard the music in an empty room—but those could easily be handwaved away as architectural faults. Sometimes the windows don’t close properly or the wires get all crossed; everything can have a practical explanation. You’re not going to place your bets that it was something as frivolous as ghosts before you can really see it for yourself.

That certain night, the night we met…

You freeze.

“Hello?” you call out.

The mystery singing woman doesn’t answer you; she just keeps on singing in a sweet, husky voice. “There was magic abroad in the air…

You don’t know who the hell would be singing Vera Lynn at this hour of night, let alone without answering you, but it’s starting to freak you out just the tiniest bit. “Hello? Who’s there?”

There were angels dining at the Ritz,” she answers in perfect pitch, “and a nightingale sang in Berkeley Square…

There’s no one behind you when you check; the street is completely deserted save for yourself and that angelic, disembodied voice, still finishing up that verse. When she stops, you’re greeted not with silence, but with the song weaving back in, gentle instrumentals and all. And when you turn to look ahead of you, nothing can prepare you for the sight in front of you.

As Vera Lynn warbles on about romance and the streets of town, a young couple is slow dancing right there on the pavement—she in a slinky golden gown, he in a sharp tuxedo. Their eyes are locked, their bodies close, their faces bright with love. You almost shout out, try to warn them—but then you see the faint trickle of blood on her temple, the gash in his chest, and their feet hovering a few inches off the ground.

The streetlights flicker, if ever so briefly, and as the song fades out, so, too, do they.

You stand there for a moment, just staring out into the empty street where they were dancing just a second ago.

“Ghosts, huh?” you whisper to yourself, your breath fogging up in the cool night air.

Then, you adjust the pack over your shoulder and continue on your way home, still humming that old song.

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