Disclaimer: Don't own 'Phantom' or any of the characters (damn) Although if I did I would be very happy as it would mean I was no longer a penniless student.
Author's Note: I got the idea for this after I started studying fairy tales in Creative Writing. Taken from 'Beauty and the Beast' (La Belle et la Bête) by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, (1756). Not the Disney version, although this would also work well as you could put Raoul as Gaston! (Oh that's a funny image. Imagine Raoul singing that song in the pub…) A lot of the prose and dialogue is taken directly from Beaumont's story, tweaked to fit Phantom. Enjoy!
Beauty – Christine
Beast – Erik
Beauty's Father – represented by Raoul
Beauty's Sisters – represented by the Corps de Ballet and Carlotta
Beauty's Brothers – represented by Meg and Madame Giry
Once upon a time in the upper levels of the Paris Opera House there dwelt Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny and the woman he hoped to marry, Christine Daaé. They lived with several other members of the Opera chorus – the diva, Carlotta, and the corps de ballet, who looked down on Christine because she could sing and dance far more elegantly than they, and the ballet mistress Madame Giry and her daughter Meg, who both loved Christine like a sister.
The Opera House had once been a place of art and beauty where the Ladies and Gentlemen of the Upper Classes would gather to watch productions such as the great successes of 'Hannibal' and 'Il Muto'. Now, however, it had fallen into disrepair. Raoul was its patron, but he too had become poor when the managers had left. Just a few of the cast members had remained in the Opera House, having nowhere else to go. They sang and danced everyday to try and piece together an opera to perform.
One day, when Christine's sweet singing had made Carlotta particularly bitter, Raoul announced that he had to venture to the Opera House's lower levels, as the little group had no coal for the fires. Some of the corps de ballet had heard stories that great riches lay in the vaults across the underground lake. Some had heard that it was a hideous monster. Every single girl thought Raoul was very brave to offer to go down there.
"Will you bring us back dresses, laces, furs and all kinds of baubles?" the ballet girls asked, crowding around him.
He promised to bring back all that he could. When he asked Christine what she would like she replied simply, "You are so kind to think of me. Can you bring me a candlestick if you find one, for I have not one here?"
It was not that she was anxious to have a candlestick, but she thought that it would make Carlotta and the corps de ballet look bad if she asked for nothing. They would have said that she was asking for nothing in order to make herself look good.
Raoul made his way down the levels of the Opera House. Christine, Madame Giry and Meg waved him off. He wandered about the dark, damp corridors of the under levels until he had to admit to being hopelessly lost. After three days he felt weak with hunger and despair and nearly fainted with joy when he saw a light at the end of one of the tunnels. He walked quickly towards it and came to the vast underground lake that the ballet girls had talked about. A boat waited at the shore for him, and he stepped in and poled across to the other side. Several candelabra were the source of the light he had seen in the tunnel.
He had come to a large underground room furnished richly. Two bags of coal stood against a wall, and on the small table a single place was set for supper. Raoul, although his stomach rumbled with hunger, was a gentleman, and gentlemen did not eat other people's suppers. He waited a long time, but nobody came. At last he ate the supper himself. Feeling daring, he walked around the room and found a bed chamber. As he was quite exhausted from three days of drifting through the labyrinth of corridors, he lay down and fell asleep.
When he woke he found breakfast set out on the table. Eating it, he thought that some kind being must live underneath the Opera House who had taken pity on him. He also found a map of his way out of the lower levels. Before he set out to go he remembered that Christine had asked for a candlestick, and picked one up from the table. He heard footsteps approaching quickly and he turned to see a tall figure dressed in black. What shocked Raoul the most was his face. One side was the visage of a normal man, the other was horribly deformed.
"You are very ungrateful," he said angrily, "I have saved your life by sheltering you in my lair, and you repay me by stealing my candles, my only source of light. You will have to pay for your offence. I'm going to give you exactly a quarter of an hour to beg god's forgiveness."
Raoul fell to his knees and pleaded, "My liege, pardon me. I did not think I would be offending you by taking a candle for my friend, who asked me to bring her one."
"I am not called 'my liege', my name is Phantom," he corrected, "I don't like flattery, and I prefer that people say what they think. So don't try to move me with your compliments. But you said you have some friends. I am prepared to forgive you if one of your friends consents to die in your place. Don't argue with me. Just go. If your friends refuse to die for you, swear you will return in three days."
Raoul was not about to sacrifice any of the group upstairs to this hideous man, but he thought, 'At least I will have the pleasure of embracing Christine one last time.'
He swore he would return, and the Phantom told him he could leave whenever he wished.
"But I don't want you to leave empty-handed," he added, "Return to the room in which you slept. There you will find a large empty chest. You can fill it up with the things I overheard your friends asking for, and I will deliver it to your room." The Phantom withdrew.
Raoul thought to himself, 'If I must die I will at least have the consolation of leaving something for poor Christine and the ballet girls to live on.'
He returned to the bed chamber and filled the chest with dresses, laces, furs and baubles as well as several gold coins. After picking up the map from the table he left the lair with a sadness equal to the joy he had felt on entering it. With the help of the map he was shortly back in the upper levels of the Opera House.
The others gathered around him, but instead of responding to their greetings he burst into tears. In his hand he was holding the candlestick he had brought for Christine. He gave it to her and said, "Christine, take this candle. It has cost me dearly."
Raoul told them about the woeful events that had befallen him. Upon hearing this all but Madame Giry and Meg uttered loud cries and said derogatory things to Christine, who was not crying.
"See what the pride of this little creature has brought down on us!" Carlotta cried, "Why didn't she ask for fine clothes the way we did? No, she wanted to get all the attention. She's responsible for the Vicomte's death, and she's not even shedding a tear!"
"That would be quite pointless," Christine replied, "Why should I shed tears about Raoul when he is not going to die? Since the Phantom is willing to accept one of us I am prepared to risk all his fury. I feel fortunate to be able to sacrifice myself for him since I will have the pleasure of saving my childhood friend and proving my feelings of tenderness for him."
"No, Christine," said Raoul, "You won't die. I will go back to the Phantom. I don't have the least hope of killing him. I am moved by the goodness of your heart, but I refuse to risk your life. I don't regret losing some years for your sake."
"Rest assured Raoul," said Christine, "that you will not go to the lair without me. You can't keep me from following you. I'm not all that attached to life, and I would rather be killed by the Phantom than die of the grief which your loss would cause me."
It was no use arguing with Christine. She was determined to go to the lair. Carlotta was delighted, for the virtues of the younger girl had filled her with a good deal of envy. Raoul was so preoccupied by the sad prospect of losing Christine that he forgot about the chest he had filled with riches. But as soon as he settled down to sleep he was astonished to find it beside his bed. He decided not to tell Carlotta or the ballet girls that he had come into good fortune, for they would want to move to a house in a nicer part of Paris and he was determined to remain in the Opera House. He did confide his secret to Christine, who told him that a gentleman had come during his absence and wanted to marry Carlotta. Christine begged Raoul to let her marry. She was so kind that she still thought well of Carlotta and forgave all the evil she had done her.
When Christine left with Raoul, Carlotta and the ballet girls rubbed their eyes with an onion in order to draw tears. But Madame Giry and Meg cried real tears, as did Raoul. Only Christine did not cry at all, because she did not want to make everyone even more sad.
When they reached the lair they found the table was set for two places. Raoul did not have the stomach to eat, but Christine, forcing herself to appear calm sat down and served them both. "You see Raoul," she said while forcing a laugh, "the Phantom wants to fatten me up before eating me, since he paid so dearly for me."
After they had dined they heard footsteps approaching. Raoul tearfully bid adieu to poor Christine, for he knew it was the Phantom. Christine could not help but tremble at the sight of this horrible figure, but she tried as hard as she could to stay calm. The Phantom asked her if she had come of her own free will and, trembling, she replied that she had.
"You are very kind," said the Phantom, "and I am very grateful to you. As for you, my good man, get out of here by tomorrow morning and don't think of coming back here ever again. Goodbye Christine."
"Goodbye Phantom," she replied. He disappeared into the shadows.
"Oh Christine," cried Raoul, embracing her, "I am half dead with fear. Believe me, you have to let me stay."
"No, Raoul," Christine said firmly, "You must go tomorrow morning and leave me to the mercy of heaven. Heaven may still take pity on me."
They both went to bed thinking that they would not be able to sleep all night long, but they had hardly gotten into their beds when their eyes closed. While she was sleeping, Christine saw a woman who said to her, "I am pleased with your kind heart, Christine. The good deed you have done in saving Raoul's life will not go unrewarded."
Upon waking, Christine recounted this dream to Raoul. While it comforted him a little, it did not keep him from crying when he had to leave her. After he had left, Christine sat down at the table and began to cry as well. But since she was courageous, she put herself in destiny's hands and resolved not to bemoan her fate during the short time she had left to live. Convinced that the Phantom planned to kill her that very evening, she decided to walk around the lair while awaiting her fate. She could not help but admire the rich furnishings, and was very surprised to find a door upon which was written, 'Christine's Room'. She opened the door hastily and was dazzled by the radiant beauty of that room. She was especially impressed by a huge bookcase and various music books.
"Someone does not want me to get bored!" she said softly. Then she realised, "If I had only one hour to live here, no-one would have made such a fuss about the room." This thought lifted her spirits.
At noon, Christine found the table set and, during her meal, she heard beautiful music, even though she could not see a soul. That evening, as she was about to sit down at the table, she heard the Phantom walking towards her, and she could not help but tremble.
"Christine," said the Phantom, "will you let me watch you dine?"
"You are my master," said Christine.
"No, you are the only mistress here," replied the Phantom, "If I bother you, order me to go and I will leave at once. Tell me, don't you find me very ugly?"
"Yes I do," said Christine, "I don't know how to lie. But I do think that you are very kind."
"You are right," said the Phantom, "Go ahead and eat, Christine, and try not to be bored in your home, for everything here is yours, and I would be upset if you were not happy."
"You are very kind," said Christine, "I swear to you that I am completely pleased with your good heart. When I think of it, you no longer seem ugly to me."
"Oh of course," the Phantom replied, "I have a kind heart, but I am still a monster."
"There are certainly men more monstrous than you," said Christine, "I like you better, even with your looks, than men who hide their false, corrupt and ungrateful hearts behind charming manners."
"I am very much obliged."
Christine ate with good appetite. She no longer dreaded the Phantom, but she thought that she would die of fright when he said, "Christine, would you be my wife?"
It took her a moment to get to the point of answering. She was afraid to provoke the monster by refusing him. Trembling she said to him, "No, Phantom."
At that moment, the poor monster sighed deeply. Christine felt better soon, however, because the Phantom, turning to look at her from time to time, left the room and said adieu in a sad voice. Finding herself alone, Christine felt great compassion for the poor Phantom. "Alas," she said, "it is too bad that he is so ugly, for he is so kind."
Christine spent three peaceful months underneath the Opera House. Every evening the Phantom paid her a visit and, while she was eating, entertained her with good plain talk, though not with what the world would call wit. Sometimes he would play the organ, and they would sing together. He had a voice that Christine found enchanting, and he much admired her. Each day Christine discovered new good qualities in the Phantom. Once she began seeing him every day, she became accustomed to his ugliness, and, far from fearing his arrival, she often looked at her watch to see if it was nine o'clock yet. The Phantom never failed to appear at that hour. He had revealed to her that his real name was Erik, and that he had been known as the Phantom by others who had seen fit to name him for his ghostly wanderings.
There was only one thing that still bothered her. Erik, before leaving, always asked her if she wanted to be his wife, and he seemed deeply wounded when she refused.
One day she said to him, "You are making me feel upset, Erik. I would like to be able to marry you, but I am far too candid to allow you to believe that that could ever happen. I will always be your friend. Try to be satisfied with that."
"I will have to," Erik replied, "I don't flatter myself, and I know that I am horrible looking, but I love you very much. However, I am very happy that you want to stay here. Promise me that you will never leave."
Christine blushed at these words. She felt confident enough in her friendship with Erik to ask to see her friends. She had been hoping to return to the upper levels again. The lair was comfortable and Erik kept her in good company during the evening, but the days were sometimes lonely. She yearned to see Madame Giry, Meg and Raoul. "I can promise you that I will never leave you," she said to Erik, "But right now I am so longing to see my friends again that I would die of grief if you were to deny me this wish."
"I would rather die myself than cause you pain," said Erik, "I will take you back to your friends. Stay there, and your poor Erik will die of grief."
"No," Christine said, bursting into tears, "I love you too much to be the cause of your death. I promise to return in a week. Let me stay with them for just a week."
"I will take you there tomorrow morning," said Erik, "But don't forget your promise. All you have to do is tap three times on the large mirror in your dressing room when you want to return. Goodnight, Christine."
As was his habit, Erik sighed deeply after speaking, and Christine went to bed feeling very sad to see him so dejected. The next morning, Erik appeared wearing a cloak and a white half mask. "Come, Christine," he said, "I will take you to the upper levels."
They crossed the lake, walked up many stairs, and along a narrow damp corridor before coming to a window into Christine's dressing room. Erik pulled it aside and Christine stepped through. "I will come back in a week," she said.
"I will be patient," Erik replied, "Goodbye Christine."
He slid the glass back, and Christine saw that it appeared as a mirror. She left the room and hurried to the backstage area where she knew she would find her friends.
Madame Giry, Meg and Raoul uttered loud cries of joy when they saw her. But Carlotta looked mortified to see her looking so happy. She herself had become bored of the lack of attention she received. Her fiancé Ubaldo Piangi, who was also an opera singer, was tired of trying to deal with his strong-headed wife-to-be, and often ignored her.
Raoul had missed Christine so much that after her week had gone by he asked her to marry him at once. She replied that she couldn't, because she had promised never to leave Erik, the Phantom. Raoul did not realise the strict promise she had made to stay only a week, and thought to himself, 'If I can keep Christine here a little longer, perhaps she will realise she loves me and not the Phantom.'
Christine agreed to stay another four or five days, but at the same time she felt guilty about the grief she was causing poor Erik, whom she loved with all her heart and missed seeing. On the tenth night she spent in the upper levels, she dreamed that she was back beneath the Opera House when she saw Erik lying on the floor, nearly dead and reproaching her for her ingratitude. Christine woke up with a start and began crying.
"Aren't I terrible," she said, "for causing grief to someone who has done so much to please me? Is it his fault that he is ugly? He is kind. That's worth more than anything else. Why haven't I wanted to marry him? I would be more than happy with him than Carlotta is with Piangi. It is neither good looks nor great wit that makes a woman happy with her husband, but character, virtue and kindness, and Erik has all those good qualities. I may not be in love with him, but I feel respect, friendship and gratitude toward him. If I made him unhappy, my lack of appreciation would make me feel guilty for the rest of my life."
With these words, Christine got up, dressed, wrote a few lines to Madame Giry to explain why she was leaving and walked towards her dressing room. Raoul appeared in front of her. "Where are you going, Christine?"
"I am returning to Erik. I believe he has become ill."
"And what if I should grow ill in your absence? Would you come back to me?"
"I cannot answer that, Raoul," Christine said.
"Why do you not want to marry me? Am I not more handsome than Erik?"
"Yes, you are," Christine replied, "But I made a promise to Erik that I cannot break. I have grown to love him despite his ugliness."
"Please don't leave, Christine," Raoul said, "I could make you love me I know. Remember our childhood together and how close we were. Was all that a lie?"
"No, of course not. I do love you, Raoul, but I feel it as friendship toward a brother rather than a husband."
Raoul shook his head, "I'm afraid I don't understand why you prefer Erik to me. Don't go."
"Erik is ill, I have to go back and see that he is alright," Christine said.
"How do you know he is ill?"
"I saw him in my dreams."
Raoul laughed, "Dreams are fiction, Christine."
"Perhaps," she sighed, "but I must make sure."
"I will make a deal with you then," Raoul said, "If you are correct and Erik is ill, stay with him. If I was right and he is well, promise me you will come back and marry me."
Christine was so sure her dream was true she agreed. Then she went into her dressing room and knocked three times on the mirror. She waited a little but there was no answer. Feeling worried she slid the mirror aside and made her way back to the lair on her own. Luckily she did not get lost. When she reached the underground lake there was no boat to take her across. She waded in, for the lake was not deep, and walked. When she reached the shore the lair was in darkness. The first thing she did was light the candles. When she could see, she looked around for Erik, but could not find him. She went to her room and changed into a dry dress and decided to wait until nine o'clock as usual. But the clock struck nine in vain. Erik was nowhere in sight.
Christine feared that she might be responsible for his death. She explored the lair further, crying out loud. She was in a state of despair. After having searched everywhere she remembered how Erik was called the Phantom, and decided to search for hidden passages.
To her delight she found one behind a mirror, and followed it through to a richly furnished room, Erik's bed chamber. She found poor Erik stretched out unconscious, and she was sure that he was dead. Feeling no revulsion at his looks, she threw herself on him and, realising that his heart was still beating, she got some water from the underground lake and threw it on him. Erik opened his eyes and told Christine, "You forgot your promise. The thought of having lost you made me decide to starve myself. But now I will die happy, for I have the pleasure of seeing you one more time."
"No, my dear Erik, you will not die," said Christine, "You will live and become my husband. From this moment on, I give you my hand in marriage, and I swear that I belong only to you. Alas, I thought that I felt only friendship for you, but the grief I am feeling makes me realise that I can't live without you."
Scarcely had she uttered these words, when Erik seemed to revive a little. When she had nursed him back to full health he took her back to the upper levels, where she joyfully told her friends the happy news.
"But Christine," Meg said, taking her aside, "He is so ugly."
"Is he?" Christine asked, "I do not see it."