The Second Coming

Chapter 1

The papers called it the "wedding of the century". The nobility called it a "delicious scandal." As for the groomsman and ushers and guests, they looked forward to freely-given wine and a glimpse of the "sensational soprano who stole the Viscount's heart". Indeed, it seemed that everyone had formulated an excellent opinion of the wedding of Raoul de Changy and Christine Daae--everyone, that is, except the bride's closest friend and maid of honor.

Blonde, bewildered, and clad in a gown of pale blue silk, Megan Giry stood on the altar steps and watched her friend pledge undying loyalty and love to the wrong man. Her beautiful blue eyes were fixed on the pair, and she could not help but feel a wrongness in the situation. Certainly, the Viscount loved Ms. Daae, and she him, but this marriage, this binding of bodies and souls, seemed hollow and lacking. There was no spark of passion in Christine's eyes when she said her vows, no lilting tone that betrayed her inner joy at this union. Instead, Christine was all soft smiles and gentle blushes, her voice but a breathy whisper. It made Meg sick to her stomach.

How could her friend, who'd experienced the fiery ardor of the Opera Ghost, who'd been given his gift of passionate song, choose a life devoid of music? The Viscount, or rather, the Viscount's family, had made it abundantly clear the Raoul's young wife would not set foot on the Opera stage for the rest of her life. It was bad enough that the Viscount was marrying a common chorus girl; they would not allow Ms. Daae to further their shame by pursing a career as an Opera diva.

The strangest part of the situation was that Christine did not seem to mind her now permanent separation from the Opera. Ever since Meg had met her, young Christine had spoken of nothing but singing and her dream to be a prima donna. She had wanted to tour Europe, with people lining up everywhere to hear but a single dulcet tone escape from her lungs. In fact, Christine had taken to singing most of her conversations with Meg, and this had lead into the two of them performing lovely duets as they had chattered and gossiped. But all that had changed after the infamous performance of Don Juan Triumphant!.

Meg was insatiably curious--it was one of her greatest faults, and no matter how she tried, she could not resist the urge to be in the know. So naturally, the relationship between Christine and the mysterious Phantom had intrigued her, and she simply could not rest until she was privy to all the intimate details. Christine had been reluctant at first, but ultimately her need for a confidante prevailed, and Meg was soon acquainted with the particulars of the whole incredible affair.

To say that she was overwhelmed by Christine's confession would be an understatement. Her thoughts had been a chaotic mix of emotions--enchantment, fear, doubt, envy, and most powerful of all, longing. She longed to experience music as Christine had, longed to have such a dark, powerful man coax her voice into ranges she'd only dreamt of. When the Phantom had sung his lines from "The Point of No Return", Meg had fancied that it wasn't his voice emitting from his throat, but rather his very soul. She had watched from the side of the stage, entranced, feeling as thought she'd been swept off her feet and was swiftly plunging down into the darkest desires of the human heart. The spell continued on, even after Christine revealed the Phantom's hideous features for all to see. Meg could not understand why women were screaming in horror, why the French police were rushing the stage, and why Christine was backing away from her glorious Angle of Music. The Phantom was beyond the shallow constraints of physical beauty--couldn't Christine see how his soul glowed gold and white with love for her? He truly was marvelous, a black-haired seraph sent to selflessly lavish his gift of divine song upon the budding opera star. And when the Phantom had finally fled the stage with Christine in tow, the only thing Meg had felt was a terrible emptiness at the loss of his presence.

She had followed the mob down into underground depths of the Opera, hoping to catch just a glimpse of him before he escaped his furious pursuers. Meg had no doubt that he would escape--the ghost was far too clever to be caught by the likes of Raoul or similar. But by the time they reached his glorious underground home, it was too late. The Angel of Music had gone, back to the heaven or hell from whence he came. While the others pilfered the lair, she had searched for only one thing. His mask, white and strikingly simple in design, lay out on an ornate wooden bench. Meg had snatched it quickly, concealing it in the voluminous folds of her shirt to avoid any unwanted questions. She secreted it back to her room, and only then did she allow herself to truly look at it.

With trembling fingers, she'd traced the inside of the mask, noting the ridges and dips that marked his deformity. How would it feel to wear such a thing? Christine had told her that the Phantom kept his mask on at all times, that he himself condemned his hideous face. It was not right that a man should be scorned for something he'd no control over, but for the man to scorn himself was to much to bear. She had wept for him--wept for his deformity, for his self-hatred, and for the loss of the only love he had ever known. Christine had left him for the Viscount, the rich, handsome, shallow Viscount, and in so doing, had confirmed her own weakness. Christine was undeserving of her Angel's love, and Meg gritted her teeth when she thought of such a gift falling to so unworthy a recipient. Ms. Daae had had the promise of a love and passion that every woman dreamt of, and she had thrown it away in favor of a golden carriage and a high born husband.

Meg sighed. She was too harsh upon her friend. Christine was her oldest companion, and she loved her as a sister. Perhaps it was better this way, for now at least Christine could have the kind of security and stability she had craved since her father's early death. She and Raoul would make a lovely pair, attend every ball, and have a brood of beautiful, empty-headed children.

As the couple descended the stairs, now lawfully man and wife, Meg's eyes teared imperceptibly. Try as she might to be happy for her friend, a single thought kept running through her head.

Oh Christine, how you have betrayed him.