Ch 1 – Da Capo
A/N: This chapter is titled "Da Capo" - "from the beginning" - because Erik is sitting down years after the events in this chapter to recall the very beginning of his interaction with Christine.
There is an old legend I once heard, one of the few things I care to recall from my childhood, about nightingales in human form.
Every century, a pair is born: one male and one female. Only two in all the world. They sing like angels and give much pleasure to others, but are doomed to wander the world with no mate unless they find each other. And what chance can there be of that? Some creatures are meant to walk the earth alone.
And so, although their lives are filled with beauty of their own creation, they sing, and sorrow, and despair, and die. But for that one impossible chance of meeting.
I clung to that fable, although I have purposely forgotten anything else from that time. Music has always seemed the one thing worth living for; the one light in the endless darkness of my existence. I wanted to meet this female nightingale, wherever she might be.
The first time I saw her, I had not the fable in mind. She was a tiny thing when Antoinette brought her to the Opera House – pale and scrawny; all eyes and hair. She was silent and stoic during the days, but cried during the nights. I watched her. The sorrows of others had never moved me, but hers did. Here was another small thing, abandoned by fate and left with no family, as I had been. And she, like I, had been drawn into the world of the Paris Opera House.
I didn't like to see her cry. I began to sing to her at night so that she would not. I never let her see me. I never let anyone see me save the one person who knew I was there, and that was rarely.
She liked my voice, this tiny one. She talked to me. She called me "angel". It was very strange. No one had ever called me a name that meant anything good.
I was careless with her, at first. She interested me, but she was just one of a number of things that held my interest. I would get to exploring tunnels, or building something; teaching myself more about music, or watching the stables; all in secret, and forget about the ballet school for days at a time.
The first time this happened, I was gone from her for a week. When I thought of her again and went to look at her, she was sorrowful. She asked what she had done wrong to make me abandon her.
I was dumbstruck. I don't think I had felt remorse at all in those days about anything until she came. She wasn't just a toy to play with; she was a creature something like myself. She was aware of me, and when I was gone, she noticed.
She actually missed me.
I had the power to hurt something…but the desire not to.
This was new.
Even Antoinette didn't pay close attention to me. She was busy with her own life, as was I with what served for mine. Antoinette was aware of my presence, but largely unconcerned. Every few weeks I would make some sign that I still existed, and she accepted this. We spoke rarely, and only when there was some reason to.
But I paid close attention to Christine after that. I learned her name. I remembered. In those days, I was the one with a thousand things to do, while she had only her dancing and me to think about. I mattered to her; at least my singing did, and that was enough. She told no one about me, probably fearing laughter from the other ballet girls if she spoke of visits from an angel.
I continued to watch her. She must have been no more than seven. I was thirteen years her senior, a vast chasm at that age. I felt I could have been her father. I wanted to be her father. I wanted something to belong to me; another living thing. I wanted to keep her as a pet, and I wanted to be her family.
I still had not heard her sing. That would not happen for years. As far as I knew, she had no voice – she simply liked mine.
We didn't talk much; I had no experience of conversation. I sang, and she listened. I sang to prevent her from crying, for the purely selfish reason that it pleased me; that I could do so, and that she let me.
And so it began.