Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with the Gaston Leroux estate, nor do I pretend to be. Please don't sue me.
Author's Note: This is my second Phantom of the Opera fic. It is, again, starring Meg, though this time I threw some Erik in there for you. If he is at all out of character, by all means let me know. Set at no specific time, so place it at any period of time you see fit. Please review!
Conversations with Vacant Chairs
Meg Giry was quite a daring girl. As such, she was more often than not the first to accept a dare given by another girl on an idle day when they were not needed at rehearsal. The other girls admired her for it, and Meg enjoyed the attention. So it was not odd at all that today, when Reyer was only working with leads in rehearsal, Meg had accepted a dare to not only wander the corridors all alone, but to sit in the Opera Ghost's box for five whole minutes. Hardly odd at all. In fact, the other girls expected it of her. Meg had an image to protect.
So now, three minutes after accepting the dare, Meg found herself walking quickly down the hall, careful not to be caught by her mother or any other stray adult as she wound her way to Box Five. Stealthily she crept along, looking over her shoulder every few seconds or so, making sure that she was not being followed. Meg had insisted that she did not need accompaniment from any of the other girls, assuring them that she was honorable and would not skive off going to the box and merely wander around for five minutes to fool them. Now, however, she wished she had accepted Jammes' offer to go with her and wait outside, if only so that Meg would not feel so alone right now. But no, her pride had gotten the better of her in the dressing room, and she had insisted that she go alone.
"Little fool," she berated herself. "Now look what you've gotten yourself into."
At last, Meg reached her destination. She wasn't sure if she was glad or upset to now be standing outside of the ghost's box, slipping a pin out of her hair in order to pick the lock.
Upon doing so, Meg placed her white hand on the knob and turned it, wincing as the door creaked loudly. Carefully and as quietly as the wretched door would allow, she slipped inside and shut the door behind her.
Meg knelt down on the floor when she realized that any one of the leads or Reyer could look up from the stage and see her creeping around in a private box. She waited, crouching on the scarlet carpet with bated breath, listening to make sure that she had caused no interruptions. Upon hearing no halt in Reyer's strict procedure, Meg quietly righted herself and stood, half-concealed from the stage by a large pillar. Meg took a deep breath and began to count the seconds.
Below, Carlotta had begun to thunder out her aria with such force and fierce vibrato that Meg felt she might fall over. Instead, she opted for covering her ears, so ghastly was the sound. She supposed she would never understand what made a good soprano. God only knew that this Opera did not contain one.
Just as she began to drop her hands from her aching ears, she heard a voice that was not coming from the stage, but from the chair to her right, in the front row of the box. Meg's face blanched, and had she not been frightened down to her toes, which seemed glued to the spot, she would have fled the box entirely.
"I can see that you feel the same as I do in regards to the vocal styling of our resident diva," it said conversationally.
Then the Voice began to laugh in a way that sent chills all the way to Meg's bones. Her heart was beating at an abnormal pace, and Meg placed a hand over it in a vain attempt to quiet the frantic organ. The Voice continued to laugh, and Meg vaguely realized that it was not laughing at Carlotta, but at her.
Terrified and shaking like a scared rabbit, Meg dared to test her own voice. "Who is that?" Her voice was no more than a trembling whisper and her knees felt suddenly weak, as if speaking those three words had caused her tremendous strain-- which, in all honesty, they had.
The Voice had stopped laughing, and Meg thought for a minute that it would not answer her. But then, with a softness that startled her, it replied: "Why, surely you know the Opera Ghost when you hear him, don't you, little Giry?"
Meg stared at the seat that the Voice seemed to come from, her eyes glazing over. "The Opera Ghost," she repeated hoarsely. "Is it really you?"
"Mais oui, little Giry. I would expect that you of all people would know that it is indeed I. You and your little friend Jammes seem to be so keen to catch me in the corridors, or in your dressing rooms. In fact, is not your entire purpose of being here in my box to catch a glimpse of me?"
Meg opened and closed her mouth like a fish for a few moments, words seeming to have escaped her. She could swear that at that moment, if the Ghost had a body, it would be shaking with laughter.
"I-I," she began to stutter. "I suppose it is. I-it was a dare to come h-here. I was s-supposed to stay here for f-five minutes. I'm s-sorry if I've disturbed you. I-I'll leave now--"
"No," the Ghost interrupted her, "there is no reason for you to leave. I was in fact getting ready to depart soon myself. As you have discovered, one's eardrums do not agree with vast amounts of Carlotta's wailing."
Despite herself, Meg snickered. Realizing she had done so, she clamped a hand over her mouth, as though to laugh in the presence of the Ghost was alike to uttering a curse word.
"You are shocked that a ghost can possess a sense of humor?" Meg thought that if the Ghost had a face, it would be raising an inquisitive brow.
"Well, in all honesty, yes I am." Meg felt faintly rude, though she couldn't explain why. "It's just that the girls and I have seen you about, and you seem to be so somber and sullen that it seems strange that you jest like everyone else. I didn't think that ghosts could be amusing."
She heard him laugh again, that low, rumbling chuckle. It gave her chills.
"I can assure you that there is plenty to jest about in this House."
"You mean besides Carlotta?" She asked, and he laughed again. For some reason, she liked hearing that laugh, even though it was somewhat frightening.
"As a matter of fact, I find the corps de ballet rather amusing," he said, and Meg imagined that if the Ghost had eyes, they would be pegging her with a stare.
"Really? And what is it about us that is so humorous?" Though she tried to ignore it, Meg was starting to feel that she was about to be insulted.
"Well, in regards to your actual dancing, if you care to call it that," the Ghost began, "Your little friend Lisette prances like a limping mare; Janette could not do a clean pirouette to save her life, and believe me, I've had half a mind to test the theory--" Meg gasped, "-- I haven't though, as you can see; Marie can leap no more than five inches off the floor; and little Jammes dances like a calf in a field." A heavy silence rang after the Ghost had finished his critique, and it seemed that even the singers on the stage had stopped rehearsal in order to be insulted along with Meg.
Meg took a deep breath and asked what she was sure the Ghost had refrained from stating in order to spare his present company's feelings: "And what of myself, monsieur?"
She though she heard the Ghost sigh. "Little Giry, I find your dancing to be the most pleasing to watch out of all the little girls in pink. Although this is not saying much, it is certainly not something to complain about." Meg imagined that if the Ghost had lips, they might be attempting to smile kindly.
"Merci, monsieur," Meg said, feeling as though that may have been the closest anyone had ever come to receiving a compliment from a critical spirit.
"De rien, mademoiselle."
For a while, Meg stood in what might have been called companionable silence with the Ghost, even though she still felt apprehensive. Carlotta had finished her aria, and Reyer had begun to plunk out the notes for the understudy, some quiet girl named Daae, or some such thing. As Meg stood watching the quiet girl get the evil eye from Carlotta, a thought occurred to her.
"What brings you to your box at this time of day, monsieur?" She asked the Ghost. "Do you simply enjoy witnessing rehearsals?"
Although she couldn't be sure, Meg thought she heard the Ghost give a wistful sigh.
"Yes, little Giry. I simply enjoy watching the progressions of the performances to make sure things are going well."
Curiosity compelled her. "Do you think things are going well?"
The Ghost gave a dark laugh. "Only in the cases of some."
Meg wasn't sure she understood what that meant, but decided not to press further.
After another long, heavy silence in which she imagined that the Ghost watched the rehearsal with a critical (though invisible) eye, Meg was startled out of a reverie by the Ghost's soft voice.
"I do believe it has been a bit longer than five minutes, little Giry. Surely your friends have begun to worry about you?"
"Oh!" Meg had almost forgotten that she was there because of a dare. "You're quite right, monsieur. I best be going."
"Well, Meg Giry, it was very nice speaking with you." Meg imagined that if the Ghost had legs, they would be straightening to stand for her.
Feeling slightly foolish, Meg gave a small curtsy. "It was quite nice talking with you, monsieur. From now on I shall try not to make up foolish stories about your being a ghoul." Meg smiled, hoping the Ghost caught her light tone.
A delighted laugh was her answer. "Yes, do try to restrain yourself, little Giry. And while you're at it, tell the other girls what I said about their dancing."
Meg's smile widened. "I shall." Turning, she placed her hand on the doorknob. "Au revoir, monsieur."
"Au revoir, mademoiselle."
Meg slipped out of the box and closed the door. Reaching down, she locked the door using her hairpin and set off down the hall.
The dressing room was a scene of organized chaos when Meg re-entered after her journey to Box Five. She was bombarded at once with what felt like two dozen frantic questions, the ballet girls crowding around her as if she were a holy relic.
Jammes pushed her way to the front and grasped Meg's hand tightly in hers.
"Oh, Meg, where have you been? You've been gone for nearly ten minutes! We only agreed on five!"
"I have?" Meg was surprised. It hadn't felt like that long at all.
"Yes! Oh, Meg, do tell us what happened!"
A chorus of agreements followed Jammes' plea, and the girls crowded closer together in a tight circle.
Meg looked from one face to another, and knew that they were all expecting a new horror story about bleeding walls or wicked disembodied laughter or some other frightening phenomenon. Meg felt torn. She had told the Ghost that she would not start any more rumors about him, but what else was she to do? Her public expected it of her, if one could call ten or eleven ballet girls a public. Besides, wouldn't it be much more appropriate if her real encounter with the Ghost stayed with her and her alone?
Making up her mind, Meg launched into a brilliantly improvised tale about menacing whispers coming from the walls and shadows of demons flashing across the stage.
Although her audience would never know the true tale of her stay in Box Five, they thrilled to her imaginary one, and Meg congratulated herself on her impressive genius.
And anyway, who would be interested in hearing stories about conversations with vacant chairs?
Author's Note: Like it? Hate it? Tell me. :)