Hello! Welcome to my story. I have no idea when/if I will be updating this (except presumably when my annoying muse decides to keep me up writing all night), but I thought I would post it anyway. Hope you enjoy! Cheers!

Under normal circumstances, Erik would have screamed and rushed at her. As it was however, he forcefully silenced himself and held back the anger that was in his heart. He suddenly realized that it wasn't just anger. What would Christine say if I killed her friend? he asked himself. Her name did not help his strained self-control.

With a quiet half-sob, he watched as Meg Giry picked up his mask and looked at it intently, fearfully. His mask. It was the only thing that remained to him. He felt himself clenching and unclenching his hands. If she takes that mask then I'll have nothing left. Nothing. Without his meaning to, his hand crept to his shattered face and then he jerked it away in disgust. He hated his face. He knew that he had held nothing but hate for too long, but that didn't change anything. The world had never held anything but hate for him and he both feared and despised it.

What he did not know was that most of his troubled came from his lack of contact with the world he hated so much. Erik had never learned what it was to have a casual conversation. He didn't really know how to carry on any conversation which was why he almost always adopted a scornful and overbearing nature when he spoke to hide his discomfiture. More importantly, however, he had never had to learn to control his temper.

Even in his mind, warped as it was by loneliness and solitude, he was sometimes baffled and alarmed by his own temper. It could flare up at the littlest things and then he would stride around, breaking and destroying. When he had cooled down, however, he was often in fear of himself.

It was this fear, the fear of the beast he really was, that was the worst thing of all.


-One Year Previously-

Christine Daaé walked up the ornate steps of the Opera Populaire. The door was huge and gilded, its gold curlicues gleamed in the morning sun. A porter pulled open the heavy-looking door and she entered, staring around her with curious eyes.

The girl, who looked to be about nineteen, was a petite figure with an elfin face and a graceful way of moving that was a result of hours spent training as a dancer. Her slight form was wrapped in a dark cloak against the chilly spring wind, but the hood was pushed back, revealing what appeared to be an untamable mass of curls. It was obvious that their owner had tried to force them into something resembling a bun, but several pieces had escaped from the ribbon and were blowing around her face. It was a young face. The curls that framed it and the saucy tilt of the brows gave it a somewhat roguish look, but the dark eyes looked deep and thoughtful as she studied her surroundings.

As she stood there, alone apart from the doorman who might as well have been a doorpost, Christine was suddenly overcome by the sensation that she was being watched. The hair on the back of her neck stood up and she spun quickly around, but no one was in sight.

"Mademoiselle Daaé?"

Christine spun back around and then breathed a sigh of relief as she saw that the person who was now approaching her was a middle-aged woman. Her once-black hair was streaked with grey and she carried with her that aura of confidence and authority that immediately marked her as someone not to be trifled with. She came forward and offered her hand.

"You are Christine Daaé, our newest dancer, correct? I am Madame Giry, the dancing mistress."

"Pleased to make your acquaintance, madam," the girl's voice was soft and low, well-bred, but not pretentious. "I am so glad to be here."

"Indeed," the ballet mistress looked a trifle unimpressed by the profession of pleasure and gestured towards the stairs. "This way, mademoiselle."

They began walking, Madame Giry keeping up a constant flow of instructions and comments regarding the way the theater was run. Christine found that she was having a difficult time focusing on the older woman's words. She couldn't shake the feeling that she was being watched and the fact that they were walking down a corridor lined with the doors to other passages didn't help alleviate the feeling of unseen scrutiny that was haunting her. She glanced around nervously.

"…And the performers' restrooms and the quick change areas are down that hallway. That's one the best ways to get to the stage from the warmup rooms. They are over down this passage." Madame Giry turned to the right into one of the passages and then opened the first door on the left. She entered first holding the door open for Christine to follow.

The girl hesitated and at that moment, she could have sworn that she heard a slight movement from the passage she had just left, though she had been sure it was empty when they left it not ten seconds before. Instinct overcame propriety and she spun quickly around.

"Is something troubling you, child?"

Christine tuned to look at the older woman, her eyes wide and dark with fear. Madame Giry was looking at her shrewdly as though she guess the thoughts that were running though the girl's mind.

"I thought I heard something," she explained quickly.

"Ah, I'm sure it was just one of the other performers," Giry replied brusquely. "Come."

After one more look over her shoulder, Christine did as she was told, but Giry's assurance didn't comfort her.