DoctorPhantom: Les Mis/Phantom of the Opera one-shot story! Enjoy, review, hope you like! :)
PS: I do not own Les Miserables nor do I own Phantom of the Opera!
He walked amongst the shadows, keeping the hat adjusted so that the brim covered the white mask he wore. The opera house-his opera house-had been burned to the ground by that mob-the same that he had fled from. At least Christine had escaped safely with that Vicomte of hers….
Erik's heart ached when he thought of the image of his Christine with that Vicomte Raoul de Chagny. It was what she had chosen. Still-he could feel the lingering touch of her lips upon his-the first kiss he had ever received in his life. Even his poor mother had refused him love.
"It is a nice night, isn't it, Marius?"
He paused, hearing a woman's voice. He receded farther into the shadows. He had not expected anyone to be out so late-all of the city should be in bed, yet here a young woman was. She seemed to be talking to someone-someone only she could see. This "Marius".
She sighed as he saw her approach. She seemed-sad.
"I suppose it's quiet, given the circumstances." She paused. "The barricades are supposed to be built tomorrow, and you're going to go chase down that Cosette of yours, leaving me all alone, aren't you? What to do? I had wished that you would stay here-with me-but now that doesn't seem real, does it? You love her, and not me." She saw him and gave a start. "Hello, monsieur. I-didn't expect to see anyone else here."
"The expectation is the same for myself as well." He eyed her. "Do you have a name, mademoiselle?"
"Eponine. And you?"
"Erik. I am called Erik." His eyes narrowed. "I believe I have seen you before, wandering the streets. You often walk with those schoolboys, don't you? The ones planning the revolution?"
"Yes." She nodded. "I'm friends with them."
"And this Marius you speak so fondly of?"
Eponine blushed. "You heard me, didn't you, monsieur? I know it's only my imagination! I just-wanted someone to talk to-to make the nights feel less lonely."
"And you do not have a family to go home to at night?"
"I do," she hesitated. "I'd rather not mention them, monsieur. You may not see me the same way you do if I were to mention them."
"They must be horrible to you if you wish to spend your nights alone wandering the streets rather than return to your own home."
"Eponine!" a harsh voice shouted.
She flinched in response. "You should go, monsieur!" she insisted. "Please, just go. Before he sees who you are."
"I am not so easily frightened."
"Please." She shoved him further into the shadows, glancing over her shoulder. "Just go!"
He retreated further until she had believed him gone. He watched as a drunk man approached, grabbing Eponine by the arm.
"There you are, my girl!" the man shouted at her. "Out all night again, eh? Well you can start by making yourself useful at earning some money!"
"Yes, papa," she whispered, allowing herself to be dragged along by him.
Erik paused, knowing that he should continue on his way to avoid being seen and reported, yet something about the situation captivated him to follow. Was it the harsh treatment of her father? The way she had been so concerned for him? Or was it the fact that she knew how he felt? To love someone neither of them could ever have?
He sighed, following her on silent feet, darting through the shadows to avoid being seen. Eponine was no Christine-that much was certain. Her hair was darker and her features were much more plainer. Nothing would cause her to stand out from a crowd-other than the ragged dress she wore that was desperately in need of repairs.
They came to an old home and the door was thrown open. Another man greeted them and money exchanged hands as Eponine was ushered inside, the door closing behind her. So...her father was desperate enough for money that he was willing to sell his own daughter as a prostitute? It was no wonder she didn't wish to go home if that was her fate each and every night.
He walked the streets of Paris, having donned an outfit and cloak that would allow him to blend in with the others. He paused, seeing the students gathered at the funeral procession for General Lamarque. A boy caught his eye and he made his way over to him, putting his hand on the shoulder.
She turned in surprise, and he recognized the face as belonging to Eponine, dressed in a boy's clothing, her hair hidden up in her hat.
"What are you doing here dressed like that?" he asked.
She blinked. "Monsieur Erik? Is that you? Why are you wearing that mask?"
"Never mind that. What are you doing here?"
"I'm planning on helping any way I can."
"That is a suicide mission! You'll die, Eponine. The army has guns and weapons far superior to that these boys here have managed to get together! Why would you wish to die?"
She sighed. "Cosette is leaving France. Marius-he is staying here-to help fight. He will die here, I know that, monsieur, but perhaps this way-we can finally be together-even if it is in death. I don't expect you to know or understand, but this is what I've chosen."
He sighed, recalling the day Christine had run off with the Vicomte. He had been prepared to do whatever it took to have her be with him-to have her choose between him and the Vicomte.
"You don't have to die, Eponine."
"What else do I have if I don't have Marius?"
Cries rose up and she turned, vanishing into the crowd of boys as they stormed the funeral, taking charge. Erik stood back, searching for any sign of her. The armed guards rode toward them, brandishing their guns. He took cover from the sudden gunfire with the others, ducking into an alley, hoping that Eponine hadn't been struck down.
The barricade! He made his way to where they had been planning to build the barricade. He searched the frantic crowd, hunting for her. Perhaps there was still time to drag her away from all this.
"Eponine!" a voice shouted. "What are you doing here?"
He saw her, face-to-face with a handsome young boy.
"I wanted to help, Marius!" she replied. "I know I don't look like much, but I can still do something to help!"
"Help? Of course!" He dug in his pocket and pulled out a piece of paper. "Here! You know where Cosette lives! Take this letter to her, Eponine. For me. Please."
She hesitated and then nodded, turning to leave.
"Stay away from all this, 'Ponine," Marius muttered. "You'll at least be safe if you stay away."
He followed her to a house where she handed a letter off to the man who answered the door. She turned to walk back down the streets and sighed, coming to a bridge.
"I know you're there, Monsieur Erik."
He swallowed and stepped out of his hiding place. "Forgive me for following like that. Curiosity and old habits."
"Why did you follow me? Ever since we first met, you've been following me."
"I suppose there is something that draws me to you." He frowned, leaning on the bridge next to her, gazing out over the water. He could still hear them-Christine and Raoul-as they left, their voices a distant echo in his mind….
"What could possibly draw you to me?"
"You're a young girl running around with a bunch of schoolboys. You refuse to go home because of what awaits you when you arrive. And here you are delivering a letter, only to gladly return to a barricade where you will most certainly die."
"I've told you before: it's the only way I can be with Marius. I don't think you'd ever understand, though."
She turned to go and he sighed. "Her name was Christine."
"Christine Daae. She left with the Vicomte de Chagny."
"I was prepared to die as well as you if it meant that I could never have her."
"What happened? I mean: you're alive now, aren't you?"
"I exist. I have no family. No home. No friends. I'm alone. I had planned on leaving this place, yet those boys started up the barricades and now I remain trapped here with her memory haunting me. So yes. I do understand, Eponine." He sighed. "I suppose a part of me is still waiting for her...dreaming that she'd change her mind one day…."
"Why do you wear that mask, Monsieur Erik? Did something happen to your face?"
"This happens to be the face that a mother shunned."
"I wish my parents shunned me. Instead all they do is rob everyone."
"I take it you don't approve?"
"Not very much."
"Then why not run away? Go someplace else?"
"But where could I go to? I don't have any way to earn a living. And besides: I can't leave Marius behind! I still love him even if he is to die here! I can't let him die alone…." Her voice trailed off. "What's going on?"
He turned to follow her as they ran toward the barricade. He grabbed her arm, pulling her into the shadows with him as they crouched behind some crates in an alley.
"The soldiers are storming the barricade," he hissed.
"I have to-"
He grabbed her arm. "No! Run out there and you'll get shot!"
"I have to do something!"
A man climbed up on the barricade, holding a barrel in his hand and a torch along with it. The soldiers pointed their guns at him, aiming to fire….
"Marius!" She broke free of his grip and ran toward him.
"Eponine!" Erik shouted.
He watched as she ran toward the barricade, grabbing hold of a soldier's gun, turning the barrel toward herself to protect Marius….
He ran toward her, catching her as she fell, easing her to the ground to rest her head on his lap. He pressed his hand against her wound, doing his best to stop the bleeding, knowing that it wouldn't be enough….
"What are you doing, Monsieur Erik?" she asked. "It won't work."
"You said you couldn't let him die alone. Why should you be the exception to that?"
"Get back or I'll blow the barricade!" Marius shouted above them.
"Do it and take yourself with it!" the soldier dared.
"And myself with it."
"Back!" the soldier yelled. "All of you! Get back! Retreat!"
"Marius? Is he alright?" she asked.
"Yes. They're retreating." He sighed and gently moved her hair away from her face as drops began to fall. "The wound's bad, but if you hang on a bit longer, you'll be able to see him. You saved him, you know. If you hadn't done anything, it would've been him lying here instead of you."
"Monsieur Erik? Do you think Christine is happy with Raoul?"
"As much as I would rather have her not be with him, I would still want her happy," he admitted.
"Do you think Marius and Cosette will be happy together?"
"Yes," he answered despite not knowing the truth himself. She deserved to die knowing that much. "But I think that he will still remember you. I know I will."
She smiled. "You know something, Monsieur Erik? I don't even feel any pain at all." She reached up and gently held his hand. "Thank you."
"What have I ever done for you to be deserving of such a thing?"
"You understood." Her eyes closed. "And I think by doing so, I was finally happy to have someone understand."
Her head fell back as her skin grew cold. A shadow passed over him and he looked up to see Marius, shaking his head in response to the silent question of whether or not she still lived.
"Did you know her?" Marius asked.
"Briefly." He swallowed. "She didn't feel any pain."
"Good." He nodded. "There might be an extra gun we can spare if you'd like to help…."
Erik shook his head and stood, carrying her in his arms. "I'll have to decline. I'd rather not fight with a gun. I owe it to her to put her to rest. Then I'll be moving on elsewhere. Time for me to be going."
Marius nodded in understanding as he walked past.
"You would do well to remember her, Marius," he advised "And perhaps you should get yourself out of here as well while you still can. Live out your life with the woman you love instead of throwing it away here."
"I can't just leave them. Especially now. I might as well honor her memory by continuing the fight."
He sighed and walked away from them, hoping that Marius would still be able to see his beloved again at the end of all this….
It was time he left the opera house and the phantom and Christine and Raoul behind. They weighed heavy on his heart, but he could still treasure them in memory.
He looked at her as he walked. She had been happy to have someone understand. To finally be at peace knowing that she wasn't alone in the world…. To not die alone…..
"That's the problem, isn't it?" he murmured. "Erik is cursed to be alone. He will die alone. No family, no friends, no Christine. Perhaps he shall visit you when the time comes."
Months passed since the schoolboys dared to build a barricade and fight in the streets of Paris. All but one perished during those days of fighting.
When Marius danced with his new bride, though, he could swear he saw the glimpse of a man in a mask standing at the edge of the crowd. It was a brief glimpse, and the man had vanished before he could approach.
It was only a few days after the wedding did some wandering passerby come upon an unmarked stone outside the city. A man wearing a strange white mask had collapsed near that stone and died.
Marius was the only one who had come along with the rest of the crowd asked to identify the man. He knew him only as Eponine's friend-the one who had comforted her in her final moments.
A happy couple had arrived as well to see the body. The man looked with pity and the wife held a hand up to her mouth in shock as they recognized the man.
He never knew who they were or how they knew the man. It had only been one night long ago that they had spoken. He hadn't even known the man's name.
But he had said that Eponine had left this world without any pain. That was good. He liked to think that it was in part due to his presence in those last moments.
He silently thanked him as he walked back home to return to Cosette. He had remembered Eponine every day after the barricade along with his other friends who had lost their lives. She had been his friend, had been the person to unite him with Cosette, had been brave in her final moments….
He did live up to his word to remember her. To remember his friend. To imagine her in a better and happier place than she had lived before.
"Monsieur Erik?" Eponine smiled and tugged on his arm, pointing to the two people.
He followed her gaze, seeing the man look at where he lay with pity. The woman held her hand up to her mouth in shock.
"Christine," he whispered.
"She remembered you. And I think they're happy together, wouldn't you agree?" She turned to go. "No use in lingering here. No point in doing so."
"Yes, Monsieur Erik?"
"I think I was wrong before. When I said I was alone."
"In what way?"
"I'd like to think that I had a friend once. For one night, I had a friend who understood."