Written to "Learn to be Lonely", which is off the Phantom of the Opera movie soundtrack. Sung by Minnie Driver. Spoilers, though, so you have been warned.


Child of the wilderness
Born into emptiness
Learn to be lonely
Learn to find your world in darkness

Erik was scared. It wasn't the dark that scared him. Oh, no. He had lived in the filthy cage in darkness for weeks at times, and fear of the dark was not instilled in him, no matter how that evil "owner" of his tried to.

He was afraid that little girl, that kind girl who had led him here, would betray him. Or, worse, be forced to speak. Hadn't she separated from the group of similarly-dressed girls? Would they miss her? No doubt someone would ask her where she was, and if grilled hard enough, she would tell all...and he would be at risk of capture and even death.

Who will be there for you?
Comfort and care for you?
Learn to be lonely
Learn to be a one companion

The cellars were dark and cold. He didn't mind. He explored the stonework, discovered a lake there. He had tried swimming across it, but it was autumn and the water was cold. Too cold to swim bare-chested and in rags, like he was now.

He clutched his broken figure. His "owner" had broken it, caused such indescribable rage in Erik that he had taken the rope and strangled him. His belly was bruised and hurt from where the lashings had struck. "Devil's Child" indeed.

Erik was deeply ashamed of his face. His "owner" had made it no secret that his mother had sold him at birth. It hurt to know that even his own mother would have hated him enough to sell him away.

Never dreamed, out in the world
There are arms to hold you
You've always known
Your heart was on its own

He heard footsteps. They echoed loudly in the large, empty chamber and Erik braced himself to attack anyone other than the girl. The girl...did she have a name? He would have to ask.

"Erik?" a soft voice called out. The echoes faded into the darkness. "Erik, are you there?"

Antoinette Jean LeBlanc was very quiet as she went down into the cellars of the Opera House. If Mistress Bauedelaire discovered her, she was doomed.

Antoinette clutched the bundle of clothes close to her small frame. Even at age twelve, she was small, a little smaller than the rest of the ballet "rats", as that nasty Joseph Buquet called them. She raised the candle high, trying to cast its light around the vast cavern. She shivered through her thin coat.

"Erik?" she called out, barely daring to speak above a whisper. "Erik, are you there?"

She looked around for the small figure. There was movement in the shadows, and suddenly Erik stood in front of her. Antoinette nearly fainted. How did he move so fast?

"Erik," she whispered, giving him the bundle of clothes. "I have your things. Your mask is inside...be careful, it can be broken."

Sneaking out of the Opera house had been simple enough. Getting into the gypsy's fair undetected had been more difficult. Eventually, though, she had managed it and grabbed Erik's things. They had been exactly where he had told them they were.

So left in your loneliness
Child of the wilderness
Learn to be lonely
Learn how to love life
That is lived alone

Erik was moved. Why was this girl helping him?

He turned away from her, showing her his back. She winced at the lash masks on them. Pulling off the rags that covered his shameful face, Erik quickly put the mask on.

This was the only thing he had left of his mother. His 'owner' had told him it was the only thing he had been dressed in when he had been sold. Erik turned, and blinked in the candlelight.

Antoinette gasped. He looked so different in that clay mask...he was actually rather handsome, she realised, the part of his face that wasn't disfigured.

They stood like that for a while, before Erik finally spoke. "Do...do you have a name?"

Antoinette tried to smile, even though she was afraid of the rats and snakes and other whatnot that ran about in the cellars. "My name is Antoinette." The candlelight highlighted Erik's face rather well, and he looked almost...skeletal.

Erik knew she was afraid of him. Not afraid enough to not have helped him, of course, but still afraid of him. He was sad, but he understood her fear. He was lonely, but lonely could be good. No-one could hurt you.

Learn to be lonely
Life can be lived
Life can be loved
Alone

Every night, little Antoinette would visit him, bringing food, drink, clothes, and anything else he needed, that she could get. Erik was very thankful. As she studied ballet, he learned how to play the organ by peeping during rehearsals.

As they grew up, Erik felt lonelier and lonelier. She spent less and less time with him, even though he knew she cared for him like a sister would a brother. Eventually, she married Jules Giry. He was there at the wedding, hidden in the shadows. Then Meg was born, and he came to visit in secret.

Years had pulled the two friends apart. And, for a long time, Erik the travelling freak show, the Devil's child, was left without a friend.