Author's note: This story is experimental, so please don't take it too seriously. It isn't strictly a humour fic, but I hope you will find parts of it funny. It's about how Erik might view his celebrity status if he was a real person (an immortal one, at that.), and how the approach of the new Phantom movie affects his privacy and his everyday life (This sounds totally bizarre, I know, but please bear with me.).

Oh, and one more thing: This story is not my way of expressing my views about the Phantom movie, so anything I do say about it should not be taken seriously. Although I do mention the names of real people (Andrew Lloyd Webber, Joel Schumacher, etc), they will not feature as actual characters in my story, so hopefully it won't offend anybody.

Disclaimer: I do not own the Phantom of the Opera. Erik's character is mainly taken from ALW and Gaston Leroux, and Nadir's character from Leroux and Susan Kay.

I hope you enjoy this story! (fingers crossed!).

The Price of Fame

Chapter One: In Which the Author of this Singular Work Informs the Reader of How, Not for the First Time, Erik is Severely Traumatised by The Eurovision Song Contest.

It began on the evening of the Eurovision Song Contest. The Phantom of the Opera was sitting in his comfortable armchair, gazing at the television screen in anticipation. His hand trembled against his glass of bourbon.

'Perhaps things will be better this year,' he thought, with uncharacteristic optimism. He was to be disappointed.

The music began, the lead singer opened her mouth, and the Phantom's glass shattered in the stone fireplace. Half a second later he was crawling around the floor in agony, his hands over his ears, desperately seeking the magic piece of plastic which would turn off the TV and free him from this torment.

It was nowhere to be found.

He crawled over to the coffee table and began to fling musical scores out of the way in desperation. It had to be there somewhere!

The singing, meanwhile, reached a discordant crescendo, and the Phantom was flung back against the wall, knocking over his crystal decanter as he went. It shattered, and he cursed loudly.

'Erik?' A familiar voice suddenly rose above the terrible din. 'Erik, are you there?'

Nadir! Saints be praised! The Phantom stumbled towards his front door, and drew back the bolts with clumsy, shaking fingers. He looked into the eyes of his friend, gave a little whimper, and flung his arms around him.

The Daroga detached himself from Erik's desperate embrace and looked at him in concern.

'Erik, what's the matter? You look like you've seen a ghost!'

The Phantom was too shaken to say anything legible. 'Euro-Euro-help-me-' he gasped faintly, and collapsed at Nadir's feet.

Nadir was a little perplexed, to say the least. Erik was usually so strong and brave. In all the years he had known him, Nadir had only seen the Phantom reduced to this state by two things. One was that pretty little soprano called Christine, the other was-

'Erik,' he said, looking down at the muffled black bundle sternly. 'Have you been watching the Eurovision Song Contest again?'

Erik looked up at Nadir with large, frightened eyes. 'I might have been. Nadir, please turn off the TV.'

Nadir opened the door to Erik's drawing room, and the wall of sound hit him with incredible force, throwing him back against the wall. Erik reached out and grasped his ankle.

'Nadir-' he gasped, weakly. 'My dear friend - run - save yourself - don't sacrifice your life for my sake-'

Nadir pulled himself together and turned towards the door with a determined expression.

'No,' he said, bravely. 'I'm going in!' And he charged into the room.

'My God, Nadir, be careful!' Erik cried, crawling after him. He entered the room just in time to see Nadir press a large black button on the TV. Silence fell, and Erik collapsed into his chair with a deep sigh.

'Oh, Nadir, what would I do without you? I thought you needed the, you know, the magic plastic thing to turn off the TV.'

'You mean the remote.'

'The remote! That's it! Oh God, Nadir, why do I put myself through this torture every year?'

Nadir thought for a moment. 'Because you love music, because you enjoy looking for new talent, or simply because you're mad?'

'Hmmmm, the third reason, I think. Please sit down, Nadir. Did you want to see me about something?'

The Daroga nodded, and reached into his pocket. He produced a crumpled piece of paper and handed it to the Phantom.

'I thought you ought to see this.' It was a newspaper clipping.

Erik balanced his spectacles on the bridge of his mask and began to read:

Phantom of Cinema

Musical composer and impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber has bought back the film rights to his hit musical, 'The Phantom of the Opera,' from Warner Brothers. The film, which is yet to be cast, will now be directed by Joel Schumacher and produced by The Really Useful Group. Filming is due to begin next autumn and a preliminary release date has been set for December 2004.

Erik closed his eyes in despair. 'Oh, no,' he sighed. 'I thought all this had blown over ages ago. Is it really true?'

Nadir nodded. 'It sounds pretty final. I read on the internet that they've ordered the chandelier. That's always a bad sign.'

Erik gazed down at the article on his lap. 'Nadir, this is dated three months ago! Why didn't you tell me sooner?'

Nadir looked embarrassed. 'I didn't know how you would react. I thought you might be upset.'

'Damn right I'm upset!'

'And - I was waiting for confirmation -'

'Confirmation? They've ordered the chandelier, for heaven's sake! How much confirmation do you need?'

'I was waiting for them to announce the casting-'


Nadir trembled. Erik, so traumatised by the Eurovision Song Contest only moments before, was now dangerously close to one of his blind rages. He handed the angry Phantom another piece of paper.

'Here's the cast list as it now stands.'

Erik quickly scanned the page, then proceeded to tear it into shreds.

'I can't let this happen, Nadir.'

'Oh, come now, Erik. The cast's not that bad!'

'It isn't the cast I'm worried about - it's the publicity.'

'Why? You love publicity. You -' Nadir broke off when he saw Erik's embarrassed expression. In the heat of the moment he had forgotten the events of the past few years. 'Oh, I'm sorry. It slipped my mind.'

'That's alright, Nadir. I'm getting tired. I think I'll have an early night.'

Nadir got the message. He paused in the doorway, and looked back at his friend. 'Erik, please don't dwell on it. Everything will turn out alright in the end. The managers will understand.'

Erik did not reply, and Nadir left him alone.

Erik crawled into bed in a state of great anger and misery. The truth was that he, the powerful, romantic, omnipotent Phantom of the Opera, was actually starting to feel rather scared.

He snuggled down beneath the sheets and thought about his career - and all the publicity which went with it.

It had all started with Gaston Leroux, of course. Up until the spring of 1910, Erik had lived a solitary life in the cellars of the Opera House, struggling to come to terms with his grief at the loss of his beloved Christine. He had almost managed to put the past behind him when that curious little man had knocked on his door. How he had managed to find his subterranean home Erik did not know. He often suspected Nadir had something to do with it. He had been angry at first, but had finally granted Leroux's request for an interview. After all, it might do him good to get it all off his chest -

For three months, Leroux, under Erik's supervision, had worked on a novel entitled 'Le Fantome de l'Opera.' Pure fabrication, most of it - but it was interesting fabrication. The sort of fabrication that would SELL. The book was published, and Leroux and Erik shared its modest takings. And then they had parted, and the novel faded into obscurity. Erik went back to leading his solitary life, and nothing troubled him for thirteen years.

In 1924, Leroux had turned up again out of the blue, along with a producer from Universal Studios. Would Erik please let them make a film version of his fascinating story? They had a director, a screenwriter, and a wonderful cast lined up, they said. The film would make thousands, they said. 'The Phantom of the Opera' would be a household name, they said. Erik had been rather flattered. 'All right,' he said.

For a solitary Gothic monster who wished to enjoy his immortality in peace, this had been a huge mistake. But Erik hadn't realised this back then. He was starstruck, and he felt happier and more alive than he had since Christine had been with him. He basked in the glow of the movie's success and watched happily as swarms of people rushed to cinemas across America. The producer launched a ridiculous range of Phantom-inspired merchandise. There were Phantom sweets, Phantom slippers, Phantom beauty cream, Phantom chandelier alarms, and the money kept rolling in. Everyone knew who the Phantom was.

Throughout the twentieth century, Erik's story had been adapted in many different ways. Films, ballets, plays, musicals - and Erik, although he was ashamed to admit it now, had loved every minute. None of the versions were as commercially successful as the original motion picture, but they enjoyed modest success. Erik had gone along to the premieres with delight, smiled and waved at his admirers, and made a tidy profit, while still managing to enjoy his normal, ghostly existence. Until the aforementioned famous composer had come along, that is -

In 1986, a huge, multi-million pound musical version of Erik's story opened in London's West End. Erik had gone along to a preview and had enjoyed the show, but he could never have anticipated its success. The audiences loved it, and it rapidly became one of the top shows in London. It opened on Broadway in 1988, and went on to tour the world. Audiences flocked to see it, and it inspired a huge range of spin-offs: movies, fanfiction, novels, more musicals - the like of which had never been seen before. Erik had, he realised, become a phenomenon. It was now 2003, and the musical was still playing to packed houses throughout the world.

Erik had been pleased by the musical's success, but it had heralded the arrival of a most curious phenomenon. The Phantom Phan.

Erik shuddered. The Phantom Phans had caused both his rise to stardom and, as far as the Opera House's managers were concerned, his downfall.

Erik, to his vast surprise, had woken up one morning to find that he had become an unlikely sex symbol. He had millions of admirers, who loved him for his seductive singing voice, his dark, angst-ridden personality, and his eccentric, romantic appearance. They wrote stories about him, devoted entire websites to him, and visited his Opera House simply to see where the legendary Phantom was rumoured to dwell.

Erik had loved the attention at first. For the first time in his life, he had actually felt attractive, and, above all, loved. He went to first and last nights of his show decked out in the finest silk and velvet, and the royalty payments he received from the show's producer had allowed him to refurbish his lair. He bought a TV, a microwave, a sound system, a DVD player and a karaoke machine - everything which a young, sexy, high-flying Phantom could possibly want. Nadir, meanwhile, had become his unofficial manager, signing contracts with producers, handling his financial affairs, and bringing him his phanmail by the sack full. (He was also the only person who knew how to operate the microwave, so over the years he had become indispensable to Erik.)

And then it had all started to go wrong. As the musical had grown in popularity, more and more Phantom Phans had started to flock to the Opera House, in the hope of meeting the mysterious Phantom. Most were well behaved, but an increasingly large number had started to creep down to the cellars without permission from the staff. A few times recently they had come dangerously close to discovering Erik's lair. The managers, who had at first loved the publicity of harbouring a famous Gothic monster in their cellar, were growing tired of the whole affair. Erik was a benevolent being -well, usually. Sometimes, at least - but the managers did not know this. They feared that one of the Phans would meet with a serious 'accident,' and that would lead to too much publicity by far!

Several years previous to the current time, Nadir had delivered a letter to Erik from the managers, which expressed their anger at the unprecedented invasion of their Opera House. They issued Erik with an ultimatum: if he did not keep out of the public eye from now on, the Phantom would be forced to leave the Opera House.

Erik turned over in bed with a deep sigh. He had managed to keep a low profile for some time now, and the number of Phans visiting the Opera House had not increased. Now the film was being made, however, the Phantom of the Opera would once again be everywhere. On TV screens, on cinema screens, in 'making of' documentaries, in books, everywhere. They might even produce action figures! Erik groaned. He was heading towards what would probably be his greatest hour of fame, and there was nothing he could do to prevent it. He was certain that, as soon as the managers heard news of the film, they would be knocking on his door and issuing him with an eviction order.

Erik sighed again, and silently bid farewell to both his underground home and his peace of mind, before sleep mercifully delivered him from his tortured thoughts.

Author's note: Thanks for reading! Please review! Oh, and for those of you (mainly those in America, I should think) who are not familiar with the Eurovision Song Contest, here is a brief explanation of what happens in it. Basically, every country in Europe (apart from those who scored the lowest number of points the year before) enter a song into the competition. Some songs are good, some are dreadful, and some are downright bizarre. Each country gives a certain number of points to the countries whose songs they like most, and the country with the most points wins.

In other words, just imagine a music show which Erik would not watch in a million years. It has to be seen to be believed.