Disclaimer: Christine Daaé, Mamma Valérius, and the voice all belong to Gaston Leroux. But this story is obviously not how his story goes. Which is the general idea, really.


The Voice


When Christine heard the voice on that first day, she thought it was someone singing in a nearby room. Her own dressing-room was a long way from anyone else's, and so it naturally intrigued her that someone should be singing so close by. She ventured outside ever so quietly, so as not to disturb the owner of the voice.

Peering into the hall and the rooms closest to her own, she was quite dismayed to find no-one there. With a frown, she began to head back to her own room again, when the most extraordinary thought occurred to her.

While she had been walking up and down the hallway, all this time, the voice had remained right where it was in relation to herself! It surrounded her from all sides, never growing louder or softer. It was as though she were being followed.

She paused for a moment, listening, and whirled around, hoping to catch the prankster by surprise. No-one was there.

"Hello?" she said softly into the air, but no sound was afforded her in reply save the continuous singing of that astonishingly beautiful voice. "Who's there?" she asked, already knowing that no-one would answer.

The voice continued singing.

Christine's skin prickled, and she began to feel distinctly uneasy. Without another word, she fled to her room and locked the door. But the voice followed her in anyway.

"Just tell me who you are," she pleaded, but the voice did no such thing. It kept singing in those unearthly tones, and she listened, growing more and more perplexed by the minute. Questions such as "who" and "where" flitted through her mind, but it was only when she stumbled across "why" that she began to feel a prick of fear.

She did not want to think about "why."

Methodically gathering her things from around the room, she escaped the Opéra. Rehearsals for the day were over anyway; no-one would miss her.

That night, she had two glasses of wine with her supper instead of one.

-o-

The next day, she went to rehearsal with Mamma Valérius' confident words ringing in her ears: "It's the Angel of Music, child! Don't you see? He has come at last!"

Her guardian, so certain that what she said was true, had embraced Christine as though bestowing a blessing on her – and Christine, not eager to cast doubt into the gentle old lady's mind, had merely smiled and remained silent at the suggestion.

Angel of Music indeed. She had stopped believing in such things a long time ago.

Nevertheless, when after rehearsal she heard the voice again, the old lady's words came back to her. And she supposed, as she listened to the sublime tone and gently hypnotic rhythm of the song that surrounded her, that if a voice could indeed be heaven-sent, this was surely what it would sound like.

And so she asked the voice, quietly enough that no passerby should be able to overhear the words, "Are you the Angel of Music?"

The song faded, and for a passing moment all was silent. Then, in infinitely gentle tones, the voice replied, "Yes, child, I am."

The first thing that Christine felt was relief. "Then why did you not simply say so!" she cried, nearly laughing with the release of her agitation.

The voice, still surrounding her as it spoke, replied, "I did not wish to frighten you."

But as the word "frighten" resonated in her ears, Christine frowned, remembering her previous misgivings concerning the "where" and "why" of the voice.

"Where are you?" she inquired.

"I am all around you," said the voice mysteriously. "I am with you wherever you go."

Christine was not entirely sure that she liked this idea. Nevertheless, she accepted the response for the time being and moved on to her next question: "Why are you here?"

"Why!" repeated the voice, now booming majestically around her. "Why else would I come, child, but to grant you the gift of perfect music?"

"Ah," said Christine slowly. This was perfectly in keeping with what she knew of the Angel of Music.

The Angel of Music.

The name repeated itself in her mind, and she frowned.

The Angel of Music was a myth, a story told to small children in order to keep them quiet and give them a reason to be good. Children who put their dolls away at night would, for instance, stand a much better chance of hearing the Angel than those who did not. And the Angel would not dream of visiting a child who ate more sweets than she was allowed.

"Are you really the Angel?" said Christine doubtfully, and for a moment the air around her was chillingly silent.

The voice came again, icy as the wind off the winter sea. "Do you dare doubt me?" it said.

"No," said Christine automatically, fearing that the owner of the voice, angel or not, might do her harm should she voice her suspicion. "It's only…"

She trailed off, and the voice spoke again: "It's only that you are wary of what you cannot see?"

She furrowed her brow, detecting a sly undertone to the voice's words.

"You must learn not to doubt what you know in your heart to be true," said the voice. "Search your heart, Christine. You will realize that your Angel has come to you at last."

Christine obediently began searching, closing her eyes in order to concentrate. But no matter how hard she tried to believe, her heart told her three things with unwavering confidence:

First: that the Angel of Music was a myth.

Second: that she, Christine, was not a superstitious person.

And last: that there was a voice, and a man's voice at that, speaking to her from inside her own dressing-room.

Rising from her chair, she looked wildly around the room. "Show yourself!" she demanded. "If you are an angel, let me see you."

The voice laughed: a beautiful sound that made her heart jump. "Your eyes may deceive you, Christine. Do not trust them. If you truly believe in me, you do not need to see."

"If you are truly an angel," she countered, "you do not need to hide!"

She caught a movement out of the corner of her eye, and she turned, half expecting to see a winged figure, radiating light and speaking in that sublime voice. But all she saw was herself, reflected in the mirror on the far wall of her room. She frowned at the image.

"Show yourself," she said again, and watched in the mirror as her mouth formed the words.

But the voice remained silent. She could not help but wonder, for a brief moment, if she had imagined it – for it suddenly felt as though the voice had never been there at all.

"I know there is someone here, though you have hidden yourself," she said. "I demand that you show yourself at once."

The song began infinitely softly, so softly that at first she wondered whether or not it was really there. But as she strained to listen, it grew in both volume and intensity, wrapping itself around her like a shroud.

She felt her heart begin to pound as the voice grew almost deafening. And even as she covered her ears, the voice continued to sing, breaking through the flimsy barriers of her hands and echoing inside her head.

"Stop!" she cried. "Stop at once!"

And when the voice only grew louder, she fled the room. The voice stayed with her as she ran down the hall, but finally faded as she reached the area where all the other dressing-rooms were situated.

Heart still pounding, Christine stopped to catch her breath. No-one was about; as usual, she was the last to leave for the night.

No, not the last, she reminded herself. There was still someone there. A man, who had been watching her in her dressing-room. Speaking and singing to her. Expecting her to trust him. Posing as the Angel of Music, of all things.

Suddenly, Christine's eyes narrowed. No, he had not been posing as the Angel of Music. It had been she who suggested that particular identity for him! Certainly, he had played along after she'd said the words, but… only after.

Someone was spying on her. Of this she was now certain. Well, she would not go back tonight – or perhaps ever, save to collect her things and remove them from the room. And that, she resolved, she would not do without the aid of at least one other person.

She felt oddly sorry that she would not hear that angelic voice again but, beautiful or not, it belonged to a man about whose intentions she was highly doubtful; and she, an unmarried orphan, could not afford to place her trust in disembodied voices.

With a new determination in her step, Christine left the Opéra for the night. On the morrow she would request – and then demand, if necessary – a change in the location of her room. She would tell the managers of the voice she had heard, and she would suggest that the man and his hiding-place be found at once, to prevent him from associating further with the young girls of the company.

And she would tell Mamma Valérius that she had only been dreaming the voice. The Angel of Music, after all, did not exist except in fairy tales.