AN:Christine has recently become the lead soprano for The Opéra Populaire for which she has her Angel of Music to thank. Will she finally meet this mysterious man? Will the return of an old friend cause a rift between the Angel and his pupil? What will Christine do when two of the most important men in her life don't get along?
Maybe not the best summary for the story, but I tried. It's your typical rift between Phantom and Man. Please read, the story it better than its summary. It follows ALW cannon mostly, but diverts a bit, and I pulled from multiple Phantom stories; some in subtle ways.
"Christine…Christine." I barely registered the sound of Meg's voice when I heard it…Him…calling out to me again.
"Christine," he called out my name softly. I was trying to figure out where his voice was coming from when Meg started talking again, this time getting my full attention.
"I knew you could sing, but I didn't know you could sing like that! Where did that come from? More importantly, why have you been hiding it this long? You were perfect tonight! I wish I could learn from the great Maestro that taught you. Who is he?"
Looking around the room, I told her, "My father used to tell me of this…this Angel. An Angel of Music, he called it. I've been dreaming for him ever since Father first spoke of him. And now, when I sing, I feel him." I paused for a moment, hesitating on whether or not I should tell her what I had heard. I grabbed her gently and looking into her eyes continued, "He's here, Meg, he called me just now…only I don't know from where. He's always with me, but I never see him."
"Christine," she started shaking her head slightly, "there's no one here. I'm sure the man is so great he seems like an angel, but he's not one. You must be dreaming this voice." Seeing me start to protest, she continued, "Why are you acting this way? Telling me you've never seen the person tutoring you, and that this angel is in the room with us. If you don't want me to know who he is, that is fine. He can be your secret."
"He is here, I swear it, Meg! He's here…I heard him…I…heard him," I sat down in my chair, slightly confused, still trying to shake the initial chill I always get when he calls my name.
"Christine, are you alright?" she asked, worry starting to show in her face. She put her hands back over mine, the worry deepening, "You look pale and you're freezing!"
"I'm scared, Meg. I never know where he is…he's just a ghost…a phantom. He talks to me when no one else is around, but I never know where the voice is coming from. I've been learning from him that way for months, but I'm still frightened every time he speaks to me. I wish I knew who he was…" I had lost focus again. I'd been doing that recently, unless I was in my lessons, then I was more attentive than I'd ever been in my life. My Angel of Music, as I called him, had a very enchanting and entrancing voice. When he sang I felt as if I was floating, flying far away from every thing bad in this world. I felt safe, protected, warm…and loved. I slowly found myself falling in love with this unknown man. I tried to stop it. Who wants to be in love with someone they aren't even sure existed? That's part of the reason I was scared. What if I was making it all up in my mind? I couldn't tell Meg about that though, she'd think I'd gone mad. I wanted to find out who this man was before I said anything else to her.
The banging of a cane startled me back into reality. "Meg! You are supposed to be practicing with the others! Go!" Madame Giry, Meg's mother, entered my room. She was never a good person to cross, and for a moment I thought I was in trouble as well.
"Christine, you were beautiful tonight. Your teacher will be very pleased."
"I'm sure he will, Madame," after a pause I asked, "Is there something I can help you with?"
"I just came to deliver this note," she replied, handing me a slip of paper.
"Thank you." She walked from the room as I turned to read it, "Little Lotte…red scarf?" I was confused. While trying to make sense of the note, there was a knock on my door, "Come in," I called. I was contemplating the note and removing my accessories from the performance, so I wasn't paying attention to who had walked in.
"Christine Daaé, have you forgotten your red scarf?" It was a man speaking, a voice I vaguely recognized.
"Pardon, Monsieur?" I looked up confused.
"After all the trouble I went through! I was barely fourteen and soaked to the skin!"
I knew I recognized that voice! "Because you had run into the sea after my scarf! Oh, Raoul! It is you!" I exclaimed.
"Yes," he laughed. Then he started singing, "'Little Lotte, let her mind wander. Little Lotte thought, 'Am I fonder of dolls or of goblins or of shoes?'"
"You remember that too!" I smiled at him.
"'Or of riddles or frocks?'" he continued.
"Those picnics in the attic," I reminisced as he sang still.
"'Or of chocolates?'"
"Father playing the violin..."
"As we read to each other dark stories of the north," he finally spoke, remembering with me.
"'No, What I loved best,' Lottie Said, 'was when I'm asleep in my bed.
And the Angel of Music sings songs in my head,'" I sang, and then he joined me, "'The Angel of Music sings songs in my head.'"
"Raoul," I told him, turning fully to look him in the eyes, "my father used to tell me that when he was in heaven, he would send the Angel of Music to me. He's dead now, and I know I've been visited by the Angel…I know it!"
"There is no doubt you have. The way you sang tonight, I would say the Angel was right there with you the whole time," he gave me a small smile. Then he grabbed my hands and pulled me from my chair, "Now come. We are going to supper."
I pulled away, slightly panicked, "No. Raoul. The Angel is strict, I can't go."
He looked at me, puzzled, "I will not keep you out late. Come on. Get dressed. I will go get my hat and call for my carriage and we will go."
"No, Raoul. I'm not leaving. Maybe another time but not tonight." I knew when Raoul set his mind to something there was no changing it, but I had to try. I was scared of what would happen if I broke one of the Angel's rules. He didn't have many, but once, when I did break one on accident, he scared me half to death…that and he almost quit on me. I couldn't have that happening. I just couldn't.
"Christine, it is not up for discussion. I am taking you out and we are celebrating your debut. Now dress. I will be back shortly," he turned and left me standing there, another reply on my lips. I looked around the room, knowing what was coming.
"THAT INSOLENT BOY! HE THINKS HE CAN TAKE YOU AWAY FROM ME! TONIGHT OF ALL NIGHTS! I HELPED YOU GET HERE! NOT. HIM!"
"Angel, I'm sorry. He means no harm. He just doesn't understand. Please forgive him and me, I should have kept telling him no. I'm not going to go with him, I never planned on it." I talked to the walls, the ceiling, the floor, everywhere, not knowing where his voice was coming from.
"I know, Christine. I know. I am sorry for shouting. I just get upset when people don't listen to you! You told him no, and he kept pushing! He should've listened the first time!" he paused in his speaking. I thought maybe he had left me, but then he continued, almost shyly, "Christine?"
"Why did you tell him that I was the reason you could not go with him? You know very well that I would not have minded…well that is not true, I wanted to spend this momentous night with you, but you have never seen me, and I'm just your teacher, you could have left with him. I would have understood," he said, and then mumbled, "in time."
"I never back out on a promise. I thought maybe saying you wouldn't allow it would make him leave, but I don't think he believes you are a real person. And you do have rules, and you don't like them broken. I just thought maybe keeping promises was a rule of yours, and I wanted to follow it." I told him sincerely. I honestly did want to spend the night talking to him. We usually don't chat, but the couple of times it has happened were amazing. I could talk to him all day for the rest of my life and never bore of him. I thought it was a great way to spend my night celebrating my success.
"Can…can I ask you a question, Angel?" I whispered.
"Yes," came the reply.
"Why won't you let me see you? You always refuse to show yourself to me. I would love to be able to talk to you face to face. As my debut gift please come to me. Let me see you, so we can speak in person," I pleaded. It had been too long. I needed to finally know what he looked like. I wanted to put a face to that beautiful voice, that beautiful man. Yes, he may have had some temper issues, but they weren't too bad. He was a wonderful person, temper or not, and I finally had to know him.
"I guess it has been long enough," he sighed. "Go to your mirror, and you shall see me."
I walked over to my mirror and looked. All I could see was my reflection, and then suddenly there was a man standing beside me. I looked next to me, but he wasn't there…he was in the mirror. I looked back at it, studying him. He was taller than me, wearing a tuxedo and a black cape with the hood pulled up. The most striking feature was a white mask covering the right side of his face.
The mirror opened and I could see him even better. His eyes were a beautiful gold with specks of blue, and his skin was pale. He reached out his hand to me and I took it, gasping slightly at how cold his touch was. Hearing my gasp he went to pull his hand away, but I tightened my grip, stopping him. He looked from our hands directly into my eyes, shock in his expression, but before I could do anything else there was a knocking on my door.
My Angel glanced behind me, anger starting to show; he shut the mirror and pulled me, running, down a pathway deep under the Opera House. I kept glancing around me, mesmerized by the place. Eventually we came to the edge of a lake, to which there was a small boat docked. He gently helped me into it, and then climbed in himself and started rowing us across the vast underground wonder.
The lake seemed to never end. We rowed in silence for what seemed like ages until I heard him humming a familiar tune. It's not one he had ever sung to me during our lessons, but I heard it follow me where I went, as well as in my dreams.
"What are you humming?" I asked, turning from staring at the lake to looking up at my Angel.
He quickly stopped humming and without looking back at me answered, "It's nothing."
"I've heard it before…almost all the time it seems. I dream that song," I told him. His reaction when I asked him about it was suspicious. I knew I'd heard the song before, so that made me inquire again, "What is it? Because there is no way this is a coincidence."
"It's just a little something I wrote. I do not know how you know it as I have never shared it with anyone…maybe it just sounds similar to something you already know," he insisted.
"No. I know I've never heard that before last week. I could understand possibly hearing it around the Opera House, I'm very aware of your voice when I'm here," I blushed as I revealed that secret, but before he could react I continued, "but I know I've heard it when I'm at home…when I sleep," I chose then to look up. I caught him glance away with a look of guilt, embarrassment, and horror. It then occurred to me. "You've followed me home before haven't you?! And watched me sleep?! Why?" I asked slightly horrified, but part of me couldn't help but love that he did that. I'd been having a rough time being alone recently and ever since I heard that song I've felt better, so part of me was grateful…even though it was creepy that he'd been following me.
"I…I'm sorry, Christine. I just…I noticed you have not been yourself recently. The first couple of times I followed you were to make sure you were fine. Then one time I got caught at your apartment. Too many people were out and I could not get back here safely, so I snuck in and hid. You had fallen asleep by the time I was ready to leave, and as I was going I heard you whimpering and tossing in your sleep. I was scared you would wake up and find me there! I did not know what else to do…so I started singing. It was a song I had intended to show you anyway, but after I saw the effect it had on you, I felt that I should keep it to myself a little longer. I kept following you because I knew you could not sleep well, and when I sang to you, you relaxed and slept peacefully. I just wanted to make sure that you were alright, I never meant any harm." He looked so worried and scared by the time he finished that even if I wanted to be I wouldn't be able to be mad at him.
"It's fine. Really. You did help me a lot. If it weren't for you I probably would have never made it through those nights. So thank you, really," I looked up into his eyes to make sure he understood I meant it. I saw him visibly relax and it was then I noticed we had stopped. I turned back towards the front of the boat and saw one of the most beautiful places ever. It wasn't really a house, but more so a large island in the lake that was ornately decorated. There were beautiful royal purple curtains that made a makeshift roof and walls. The main room had an organ and a desk with papers all over it, from what I could tell compositions of the Angel's. All I could see from the boat were three other 'rooms', one of which the curtain 'door' leading to it was open. I could see a grand piano in it along with a bed. Before I could look closer at any of the others my Angel was climbing out of the boat and offering me his hand. I took it and climbed out.
"Welcome to my humble abode," he said nervously. "I know it's not much, but it works for me."
I saw a small smile grace his lips and then disappear quickly, "Let me show you around. This is my work area; I do most of my composing with the organ. To the left is my bedroom. I do not sleep much, but I like being in there, that is why there is a piano in it. I usually spend my time playing or writing music. Over to the right is my kitchen and next to that is the washroom. Behind the Organ are my library and a few spare rooms. I do not use them much. Like I said, I like to spend my time either at my organ, piano, or desk."
"It's a lot bigger than it seems, and it's very beautiful. I love the ambience of the place, and how the candles give it a beautiful glow, much better than oil lamps," I replied as I looked around.
I turned to face my Angel and caught him staring at me. "What is it?" I asked curiously, reaching up to touch my face and hair making sure nothing was wrong with either of them.
"You just…you look beautiful in the candle light," he answered me softly.
I blushed, "Thank you."
We stood in silence for a few minutes, neither of us knowing what to say. Occasionally I would catch him glancing at me, but only because I was trying to get a glimpse of him.
I finally broke the silence, "May I ask you something?"
He nodded, "of course."
"What's your name?"
He chuckled, "Erik. Erik Destler."
"Erik," I repeated softly, "I like that name. It suits you. Why did you laugh at my question?"
He paled, more so than he already was, "I…I thought you were going to ask about something else."
"My…my mask," he said in barely a whisper.
"Oh. I am curious about it, but I would never ask or force you to talk about it if you don't want to, and I'd never make you take it off," I told him sincerely.
"I…I want to tell you about it. You should know," he looked up at me.
I nodded and gave him a small smile as encouragement to continue.
Erik took a deep breath and started, "When I was young my mother abandoned me. She could not bear to look at my face," he gave a bitter laugh, "some carnival people picked me up and put me in their show. 'Come see the devil child!' they would yell. When people got to me, I was forced to remove my makeshift mask and show my face to the crowds, if I did not, I was beaten. I could hear them all, same thing night after night. People would get sick at the sight of my face, others would scream, some ran away, and then there were the people who said despicable things to me as if it were my fault or I somehow chose to have this face. I cried myself to sleep every night. The only thing that kept me going was my music and my passion for designing magnificent places. Everything got worse after they learned I could do those things. One night a man took me away from them and forced me to design buildings for him. He would beat me until I gave him what he wanted. I was only fourteen at the time," he paused.
I was on the brink of tears when he looked up at me, "Oh, Christine. I'm sorry. I can stop. It's a horrible story anyway."
"No. No, keep going. I want to hear it all," I wiped away my tears.
"Right," he sighed, looking away, and continued, "when that man was done with me he left me in the street. I found my way back to the carnival and they took me back in. Even though it was a horrible place to be, I at least got fed and had a place to sleep at night. One night a lady found me. She felt so bad for me that she helped me escape and brought me here. I was seventeen then. I have been here ever since."
"That's….that's horrible. I'm so sorry," I had tears streaming down my face. I wanted to hold him and never let go. "No one should have to live like this, especially after they have been through all of that."
"It's fine really. It is the best situation I have ever been in. I have a steady income 'Haunting' the place as the people up top say. A few harmless tricks here and there and people will do amazing things to make them stop."
"You…you're the Opera Ghost?" I asked shocked.
"The one and only," Erik replied with a smirk. It quickly went away though once he realized I still had a horrified expression on my face, "I never have and never will hurt anyone though, if that is what you are worried about. I make sure that everything I do is harmless. Some of the things being blamed on me are not my fault. It is just easier to say I did it than to admit they messed up."
I was still wary, but replied, "You'll never hurt anyone?"
"Never. I promise," he answered sincerely. "Do you want me to stop with the shenanigans? Because I can if it would make you feel better."
"Please. There could be an accident and I don't want anyone hurt, and I don't want them to have an excuse to try and find you. If you heard what they already say about the Phantom you would know how serious they are about hunting down the ghost if anyone is hurt badly." I really was worried about him. On more than one occasion they have almost formed a mob and searched the Opera House from top to bottom. I could only imagine how bad it would be if they found Erik. I shook that thought from my head.
"I will, for you," Erik smiled at me.
"Thank you," I smiled back.
"Now. I want to properly sing you that song. I did write it for you after all," he flushed slightly as he led me to the piano. "Ready?" he asked as he got settled on the bench.
"Ready," I replied with a nod. I stood next to his shoulder, watching his hands move across the keys as he played the intro. By the time he started singing I had moved to the other end of the piano to watch him as he sang.
"Nighttime sharpens, heightens each sensation.
Darkness stirs and wakes imagination.
Silently the senses abandon their defenses."From the moment he started singing I relaxed. His voice had a mesmerizing quality that calmed me in an instant.
"Slowly, gently, night unfurls its splendor.
Grasp it, sense it tremulous and tender."I felt as if I was floating. The more he sang, the lighter I felt. I found myself doing whatever he said in the song.
"Turn your face away from the garish light of day.
Turn your thoughts away from cold unfeeling light,
And listen to the music of the night." All I could seem to do was listen. I couldn't move. The beauty of his voice and the music paralyzed me.
"Close your eyes and surrender to your darkest dreams,
Purge your thoughts of the life you knew before.
Close your eyes, let your spirit start to soar.
And you'll live, as you've never lived before." I was in a trance. With my eyes closed, I melted into the song even more. Doing anything and everything it asked.
"Softly, deftly, music shall surround you.
Hear it, feel it, closing in around you.
Open up your mind, let your fantasies unwind,
In this darkness which you know you cannot fight.
The darkness of the music of the night." I opened up my eyes to see Erik get up from the piano and walk towards where I was standing.
I followed him around the room with my eyes as he continued,
"Let your mind start a journey through a strange new world,
Leave all thoughts of the world you knew before.
Let your soul take you where you long to be.
Only then can you belong to me." My knees buckled and I started to fall to the ground. Suddenly there were strong arms holding me up. I melted into his embrace.
"Floating, falling, sweet intoxication.
Touch me, trust me, savor each sensation.
Let the dream begin, let your darker side give in,
To the power of the music that I write.
The power of the music of the night," He sang softly into my ear. I was so overcome by the effect his voice had on me that my legs completely gave out on me. The next thing I knew I was being swept off my feet and carried over to the bed. I was set down gently and covered up.
Leaning over me my Angel sang in almost a whisper,
"You alone can make my song take flight.
Help me make the music of the night." Those were the last words I heard before I drifted off to sleep.