Slave of Passion


"Philippe, we will be late!" Raoul smoothed his hair back and slipped his cloak around his shoulders, sighing. "Christine is singing tonight, and I promised her I would speak with her before the performance!"

"Calm yourself, brother," Philippe purred, taking his top hat from the coat tree by the door. "We are an hour early. It will takes us twenty minutes to arrive at the Opera House, and give you the rest of the hour to talk with your lover. Do not be hasty. We will make it in time."

Raoul threw a white scarf around his brother's neck, adjusting it and helping him into his coat. "Christine has been in peril. Peril of the mind. She has not been herself, if you haven't noticed."

"I think it's all a big joke," Philippe grumbled, taking up his walking stick. "It's just a ploy to get herself more attention, that's all."

"Mind yourself," Raoul snapped, opening the door and stepping outside into the chilly night air. "Christine is having a rough time, you know that. Her father died, and she's trying to maintain a living working as a chorus girl. Be nice to her, Philippe, even if you don't like her."

"Yes, because she's your lover," Philippe sighed, stepping into the carriage and holding out his hand for his brother. "I know, Raoul. I'll be good."

"I'm glad." Pulling on his gloves, the youngest of the two gave orders to the coachman and they were off. Their conversation continued in jest and laughter until they arrived safely at the opera house, Philippe helping his brother out of the carriage and walking in with him, arm in arm. They were greeted by gentlemen and ladies, regulars and newcomers to the opera, all praising them on how splendid they looked that particular evening and how nice the weather was. Raoul had no patience to linger and speak with the people mingling there, though. He politely excused himself once he saw an open chance and made for the dressing rooms.

Once getting past the guard and coming upon Christine's door, he couldn't help but listen through the wood at her voice wafting through the air. The door was, unfortunately, locked, so he had to settle for listening at the door. There was a pause, and Raoul opened his mouth to call her name, and instead he heard a male voice speaking her name instead. Raoul blinked in surprise. "Surely you haven't taken a lover on the side," he murmured, nodding his head to a passing group of giggling dancers. Once they were gone, he pressed his ear to the door and strained to hear the conversation beyond.

"Christine. you are ready for tonight. You will take them aback with awe. You will be singing tonight's leading role. Carlotta. has fallen ill."

"Oh, Angel, surely you are mistaken! I cannot sing the lead tonight. I am faint with fright!"

"You will be fine, my dear. Trust me. Trust your Angel. I know what's best for you, and this is what should be done for you. You will sing to bring them to their feet! They will love you at first note, as they have done many times before."

"As you say, Angel. Oh, don't leave! Please don't leave me now!"

"I must go, Christine. Do not answer the door, do not talk to the one standing outside. He will only distract you. I do not want you to be distracted, not now. I will watch you sing tonight. Sing for me, as you always do."

"I will, Angel. Farewell."

"Farewell, my Christine."

And then there was silence. Raoul's eyes narrowed. Who was that in there? He had to know!

"Christine? It's me, Raoul. I've come to speak with you, as you've bid me to."

He heard a faint gasp and rustling around, and he righted himself for the door to open. Christine, decked in her street clothes, stood in the doorway, her large eyes wide and scared. "Raoul! You mustn't be here!"

"Who was that in your room, Christine? Is there anyone in there?"

"No, there is no one. I'm afraid I can't speak to you, Raoul. We'll have to wait until after the show. Please, please go." She did nothing but push him away, looking behind her into her empty room as she did so. "Go, now! I will meet you after the performance, I promise you this, Raoul."

Raoul clasped his lover's hand and kissed her fingers softly before nodding. "I will leave. But I hold you true to your word."

"Yes, now please, go!"

He sighed, turned, and made for his box where he knew Philippe would be waiting. How peculiar, the way Christine was acting. Whoever had spoken to her had frightened her into obeying like a slave, though the voice he had heard was gentle. and male. A man. Who could he be? He searched his mind. A friend? No, not the way Christine had addressed and spoken to him. A teacher, then. She had referred to him as 'angel'. But he would have seen the teacher in her room. There was not a another person he had glimpsed when Christine opened the door. Who could it have been?

"Ah, there you are," Philippe said, patting the chair beside him. "Come, sit down. You look distraught." Blue eyes searched brown, and Philippe frowned. "What happened with Christine? I thought you would be there talking with her."

Raoul removed his cloak and draped it over the chair along with his top hat, which he laid on the banister. "I was going to, but she was busy. She worries me, brother. She gets more and more mysterious with every passing minute."

"Don't dwell on it," offered the older sibling. "Relax and enjoy the show, you'll see her afterwards."

"Yes, I suppose so," Raoul said, eyes searching the house. His eyes fell upon the ever-empty Box Five, and he frowned. "Box Five is always empty. I wonder who it's reserved for?"

"Who knows," Philippe muttered, tugging off his gloves. "It's been that way since the opening of this opera house. It is curious, yes, but."

"I'm going to sit in Box Five," Raoul announced, standing with a flourish and taking up his cloak and hat. He was immediately jerked down by a rough hand, his eyes locked with those of his brother.

"Are you insane?" he hissed. "No one is allowed to sit there, unless you want to deal with death! It's rumoured that that box is the Phantom's. You will not go there while I'm alive. When I'm dead, you can meddle with his affairs all you want. But no, Raoul. You will sit here and that's final."

Raoul snarled, snatching his arm away from Philippe's grasp. "I am going to find out about this 'Phantom' right now. If you do not want to come, that is fine. I will go alone. Now, if you'll excuse me," he said, standing once again and making for the curtain, "I have an opera to see."

"It was nice being your brother," came Philippe's sigh. "Tell me, after your remains are found, would you rather be sewn back together or buried as is?"

"I will return," Raoul said with an air of confidence. "And I will tell you my tale, if you are willing to hear."

With that, Raoul left the box and made for Box Five, dread growing in his heart as he grew closer with each step. Phantom of the Opera. Hmph! Not an old tale such as that would scare him away! Raoul paused and turned around. Yes it would. He heard rumours of how avid a killer the Phantom was, and he certainly didn't want to end up on the wrong side of the pistol. He stopped and stood tall. No. He was going to go and sit in Box Five and overcome this. Yes. He was a Vicomte de Changy. He could do this.

Taking a deep breath, Raoul turned back around and strode until he reached Box Five. Lifting the curtain away, he stepped in and sat down in a chair. So far so good. As the lights lowered, Mame Giry peeked into the box, and, seeing Raoul, gasped. "Monsieur! You shouldn't be in here! He will be very displeased!"

"I am here to meet the Phantom of the Opera," Raoul said the most steady voice he could manage. "I will wait here for him, if I must."

"Then you are awaiting death. Return to your own box now, sir, and he may show you mercy."

"Perhaps. But now, madam, I will wait here. Thank you."

Mame Giry sighed and stepped away, shaking her head. The Vicomte was good man. why would he incur such a wrath?

The lights lowered and the opera began. Everything seemed to be well for Raoul until he felt a chill run down his spine and suddenly he found himself on the floor, staring up into piercing yellow eyes and a white mask. The man standing over him was tall and lean, a few strands of hair hanging over his mask in a veil. Raoul, paralyzed in fear, could only stare. The top half of the man's face was covered with a white mask and a sword was dangerously close to his neck, a firm foot planted atop his chest. Raoul opened his mouth to make a noise, any noise, but was cut off by a cold touch of metal against his throat.

"Who are you and what are you doing here, in my box?" came the angered, silky voice of the Phantom, his narrowed yellow eyes boring into Raoul's frightened orbs. Raoul was about to reply, when the Phantom continued. "Ah. you are the Vicomte de Changy. Christine's. friend. Raoul, is that your name? Well, it's a pleasure to meet you, after all the things I've heard her gush about you. What brings you to my box, dear sir? Did you wish to die?"

That voice. that voice. and those eyes! Raoul closed his mouth and stared back into the Phantom's eyes, lost in the yellow orbs. The Phantom removed the sword from his throat and pulled Raoul to his feet by the front of his clothes, glaring at him, eye level. "Well? I expect you to answer. It is polite to answer a question once it is asked of you."

His voice. Raoul was lost to the harsh, satin touch of his smooth voice, and fumbled for words. "I wanted to meet you," he replied without an ounce of confidence, having trouble trying to maintain his own strong demeanor. He was failing miserably, as the Phantom only bared his teeth and threw him to the floor.

"Meet me? You have met me now, Raoul. What do you think? Should I kill you, or should I let you go? You have invaded my space and my privacy. It is only customary that you would leave now. I'm giving you the chance to flee, Raoul. I would take this time to get to your feet and *leave*."

Raoul nodded and frantically scrambled to his feet, scurrying out of the box and running straight for his brother's box, slowing down only to sit and pant softly once he reached his destination. Philippe smirked and patted Raoul's knee, leaning over to whisper, "What did I tell you, Raoul?"

"You were right," Raoul panted, swallowing and looking down at the stage. "I'm never going back."

//I'm going back,// he thought to himself, eyebrows furrowing. //His voice is beautiful. it was he who I heard in Christine's room! He is the Angel! But his voice. ai, his voice. I have never heard such beauty.// Raoul blinked. //Am I mad? He gave me the chance to flee, and I want to return? What is this talk, Raoul? Surely some sort of madness has gotten to you.//

He heard nothing of the performance. He didn't see Christine. He never heard her. All the time, Raoul's eyes kept flicking to Box Five, and every time he reprimanded himself for being such a fool. What was this he was feeling? He could never forget that voice. The Phantom had a sultry. sensual voice, and for once Raoul began to doubt himself. Then he made his decision. As intermission neared, he had made up his mind. He was not going to see Christine.

He was going back to Box Five.