IF LOVE WERE A FLOWER
Summary: After the Phantom set Christine free and sent her away with Raoul, he is forced to flee with the help of the Girys. It is not a LND story, I just take the same characters and setting, but it is definitely something completely of my own. This is what I would have written if ALW had asked me for a plot for a sequel.
Meg Giry had always been a nosy girl, especially when she was told not to go somewhere because it was dangerous. The more dangerous something might be, the more likely she would be found exactly there. That was why she had gone with the policemen and members of the staff of the Opera to find the Phantom and rescue Christine and Raoul. It was Madame Giry who had shown the way, first to Raoul, then, when he didn't return, to the police as well. Of course Antoinette Giry had told her daughter Meg to stay away, but in the dark with so many people around she couldn't see that Meg was just coming along.
They found no one. Not Raoul, not Christine and certainly not the Phantom. The policemen had a hard time preventing the mob from wrecking havoc in the lair where the Phantom had lived for years. Whatever they found there, it was evidence and secured for further use in the court trial. It was France at the end of the 19th century and not some uncivilized banana republic so the police would have to seize the man and hand him over to the court so he would stand trial for his crimes - they wouldn't allow the mob to lynch him, no matter what he had done.
But there was no Phantom. The policemen herded everyone out of the building and told them to come to the police station to testify the next day. No one was to enter the building for they had to search for the dangerous man and they had to keep civilians out of danger, if possible. They were still ready to shoot for they knew just how dangerous this Phantom was.
The search not successful. Not the first night, not the next day. He had vanished as if he had never existed. Raoul de Chagny and Christine Daae showed up, both shaken and pale, both a little bruised, but nothing serious. After being examined by a doctor they were send home.
The policemen doubled their efforts to find the Phantom. They called in every man because they knew the first days were critical - if the Phantom escaped from Paris, it might be even harder to find him. They searched the catacombs and the sewers with hounds and of course searched the flats of everyone who was suspected to be an accomplice, like Madame Giry and Christine Daae, but no Phantom was to be found.
One might have thought that a man with such a severe deformity would not be able to go unnoticed, but he did exactly that, he vanished without a trace. The police was sure he would show up sometimes, he needed food, he needed water and he would have to rest sometimes - either he would show up or someone would bring him supplies and then they would catch him. It was all in vain, the deformed man was nowhere to be seen and after two weeks they lessened their efforts for it was suspected that he might already be dead. Of course he was still the most wanted criminal and drawings of his deformed face - which were not really accurate for the witness statements differed, the only thing they all agreed was that he was horribly disfigured - were sent to every police station and every border post and even to the custom offices just in case he would be caught trying to leave France.
One night Madame Giry told her daughter to be silent, whatever would happen next, she had to be utterly silent and prepared for a shock. Then she left the flat. Meg wondered why her mother had warned her like this, after all Meg had been through, after all she had seen, she thought herself hardened and nothing would make her scream in terror again.
Hours later Madame Giry returned to their flat but not alone. At her side was a figure, hunched, covered in an old, ragged blanket. The stench that emanated from that figure was overpowering, Meg couldn't stop herself from holding her nose. The person was barefooted despite the cold day in spring and his feet were covered in some stinking mud.
"Meg, bring him some water and bread," Madame Giry told her daughter. Meg went to the kitchen to fetch a glass of water and a piece of bread, wondering why her mother brought a stinking beggar to their home.
The young girl went back to their livingroom with the bread and the glass in her hand, holding it out for the beggar to take, keeping herself as far away from him as possible. The man shifted, obviously lifting his head to see what the girl had in her hands. Suddenly Meg saw his eyes wide and hungry on her hands, then his hands shot out from under the blanket, which fell to the floor as he moved with incredible speed towards the frightened girl. Meg gasped in horror as she recognized the deformed face - the Phantom! He greedily grabbed the bread and the glass of water with his hands which were almost as dirty as his feet, he emptied the glass and let it fall to the floor where it shattered as he took the bread with both hands bolting down the bread without caring for the dirt on his hands.
"Hush, Meg, it is alright, calm down, everything alright," Antoinette took her daughter who was paralyzed with panic in her arms and tried to comfort her.
"Alright? Nothing is alright! What..." Meg cried out hysterically but her mother covered her mouth with her hand.
"Everything is alright!" Antoinette stated in a voice that left no doubt that Meg had to shut up now. When Meg nodded, her eyes still wide with terror, her mother let go of the shaking girl and turned to the gruesome figure who was now sitting on the floor.
"More," he whispered, his voice nothing like the wonderful singer he was but a raspy whisper.
"No," Antoinette decided, "If you eat and drink too fast you'll only make yourself sick. We do not want that, do we?" She talked to him as if he were a frightened little boy and he obediently shook his head. Meg noticed that he was trembling with cold, no wonder, soaked as he was with that stinking water and mud. "Meg, go and prepare a hot bath for him!" she ordered. Meg obeyed, glad that she didn't have to be in the same room with the monster any longer.
Preparing a bath in the night meant she had to heat the boiler with a coal fire, then let the hot water and some cold water into the bathtub. It took some time until the bath was ready.
When Meg went back to the livingroom to announce that the bath was ready she saw her mother kneeling at the floor, holding the trembling man who sat next to her with her left arm around his shoulders, with her right hand she held a small bucket for him. He was retching terribly. "You should have listened to me," Antoinette said gently, "Try to breathe to calm yourself. Yes, that's good."
"The bath..." Meg squeaked.
"Thank you. Erik? You are cold as ice, we need to get you warmed up. Can you stand up?"
Erik? Who was Erik? Meg saw the man struggling to get to his feet, her mother supporting him, ignoring that the mud soiled her dress now. She helped him to go to the bathroom and asked worriedly: "Can I leave you alone now? Can you do that alone?"
He nodded. Erik didn't even know how he felt then, every cell in his body ached and he didn't know if there was any part of his body that did not hurt. But he would not have a woman helping him to undress, he was still able to do that alone. Antoinette left the bathroom and closed the door.
Erik took off his ruined clothing with much difficulty. His hands were so cold, he couldn't control his fingers properly, but the clothing was already ruined anyways so he simply tore it apart when necessary. He had hoped to sink slowly in the hot water in the bathtub but he slipped and landed on his back with a splash. Without noticing just how much water had spilled he hissed in pain, the water was hot, not too hot but his body was so cold the really pleasant warmth of the water felt like searing fire. If he could he would have gotten out of the bathtub again, but his muscles already relaxed in the much needed warmth and his eyes fells shut.
"Why do we help him?" Meg asked, her voice still high-pitched in her panic.
Antoinette sighed. "Meg, please, calm down. We have to, because... because... no one else does."
"That is no reason. We ought to call the police!" Meg argued, "He murdered Buquet, he murdered Piangi, he terrorized us all - why do we help him, mother?"
Antoinette started to clean up the livingroom. She wanted the stinking mud out of her flat as soon as possible. "Meg, child, you don't understand..."
"Then tell me, mother, so I can understand!" Meg demanded.
"I guess I can't hide it from you any longer. Meg, Erik is... you know he's a genius. He's such a great man."
"He's the most wanted criminal!" Meg snapped.
"He saved my life!" Antoinette replied angrily, "And now I have to repay him."
"He saved you? How? You never told me anything!" Meg complained.
Antoinette sighed. "You know that the old opera house burned down in an inferno that lasted 27 hours. I was there, I was a ballerina. I fell and broke my knee, that ended my career permanently, but if he hadn't carried me out of the burning theater I would have died that night. Do you understand now why I can't abandon him?"
Meg nodded. Her mother was repaying a debt. But she still did not like it and she was horribly scared of the Phantom.
When Erik failed to show up after two hours Antoinette decided to knock at the bathroom and call him. When he still didn't react in any way she tried the door which was not locked to her surprise. Erik was still in the bathtub, the water had long since grown cold and was of a brownish colour like tea with milk, but the smell was awful despite the bath salts she had put in it.
"Erik? Erik, wake up! You can't die here!" Antoinette exclaimed horrified at the thought he had died in her bathtub. As she reached out to shake him, his eyes snapped open and he bolted, but slipped again and fell back into the water. His hands came up to cover his face in shock as he saw Antoinette's face hovering over him and remembered he was lying in a bathtub after a moment of disorientation. Only then did he remember that other parts of his body needed to be covered even more than his face, but when he lowered his hands he found Antoinette had already left the bathroom and closed the door behind her.
"Er... I left towels on the stool and a nightshirt," she called out to him, her voice shaking.
Erik climbed out of the bathtub and used the towels to dry himself. He was trembling with cold and could not decide if this was a nightmare or reality. His limbs felt so very heavy, his vision was blurred and he could barely move at all. He needed to lie down or he would soon fall and hurt himself. Erik was not happy to find that the nightshirt was obviously one of Antoinette Giry's own nightshirts, it was made for a woman. It would be too large on her, but to him it was a too short and a bit too tight at the shoulders, but he had no choice - the only other clothing available were the torn rags he had when he arrived there. The very same clothing he had worn when he had been forced to crawl through the sewers, trying to hide from the police and their dogs. The mere thought of having to put that on forced him to gag but he somehow managed not to throw up what little he had in his stomach. Instinctively he knew that he needed every precious drop of water and bite of food he had.
"Why can't he go away? Mama, we have done enough. I don't want him here, I'm scared!" Meg complained.
Before Antoinette could answer the door opened and the dreaded monster, the Phantom who had terrorized the Opera for years, joined them in the livingroom. Meg stared at him. The dreaded Phantom was dressed in one of her mother's pink nightshirts. Meg was splitting her sides laughing. The dreaded Phantom of the Opera was wearing a pink old-fashioned women's nightshirt. She couldn't stop laughing, not even as her mother told her to stop and pinched her.
"I apologize for my daughter's behavior..." Antoinette said helplessly, afraid what Erik would do now.
He did nothing, he just sat down on the floor before the chimney and curled into a ball, shivering with cold, his teeth chattering. Before Madame Giry could fetch a blanket, he fell asleep and toppled sideways to the floor. Antoinette covered him with the blanket and carefully put a pillow under his head. Erik did not wake up. Then she grabbed her hysterically laughing daughter by the arm and dragged her out of the room.
It would be a long night, Antoinette mused, for cleaning up the bathroom alone would take hours - and she couldn't count on Meg helping her, the girl was still laughing so hard, she could no longer stand upright.