A French playwright is seeking to Opera Populairé hoping they will act out her play. From the darkness the phantom watched this stranger's long-term ambition unfold before his eyes… Recovery is the easy part, taking the first step will be crucial: Written in blood, sealed with a rose.

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Disclaimer: I do not own the razzle, dazzle of the Phantom of the Opera. Enjoy the story!

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Chapter 4: "Questioning our existence."

Célestine sat, leaning against the couch as the sky outside darkened, the stars starting to appear with all their shinning glory. It was a peaceful night in the city. A couple of rustling men and women were trying to find their way home before they were completely cloaked in darkness and the poorly lit lanterns and the pale moonlight will be their only source of light.

A team of construction workers and engineers from New York City, America have decided to tackle the dangerous task of fixing Opera Populairé. Finding them was easy as pie, but convincing them was the hard part.

At first, they wrote a big fat "no" on a letter they had sent her after she had requested their help and promised to pay them abundantly after they've finished their tasks. They'll even be given food and boarding while they're here. After a few more persuasion letters, they said yes if she promised to find a way to keep the ghosts away from them. Célestine crossed her heart that she would.

They'll be here in a couple of weeks.

The playwright turned her head towards the large mirror. There were no cracks or partition. It looked as if it was sealed shut, preventing her to go through it. Célestine turned to the ballet master, asking her if she would tell the tales of the Phantom. Mme. Giry looked at her as if she had grown another head and refused to tell her any stories.

The days at the opera house seem to crawl slower with each passing day. Célestine has been here for well over a month. She kept herself busy by reading over the script, humming some of the songs Reyer have composed.

Singing them was a disaster. The rats would squeal so loudly when she tried to sing and run away to their homes. She chuckled at the thought.

Meg busted through the door gave the playwright quite a fright.

The ballerina apologized politely, closing the door behind her. Meg was the closest thing Célestine has to a friend at the moment. The younger woman would come and sit with the elder playwright, listening to her stories about the country. It gave both of them an ardent flare of happiness since they were living in such a dreary place.

Today was no different.

"Meg, I have a question."

The young girl looked at the playwright on the floor. "Yes?" Meg felt at ease after a while as if Célestine was her old friend, Christine.

Heavens! Their names are even alike!

"What do you know of the Phantom? What is his name? Is he still a virgin?" The last question took them both by surprise.

"Mother forbade me to tell you any stories about Moue. Phantom."

The playwright cocked her eyebrows together, "can you at least tell me his name?"

"I don't know his name, Mademoiselle."

"You're lying…" Célestine didn't look up to match Meg's contempt stare, but straight into the mirror. The young Giry could see the longing expression in the playwright eyes, begging to be told about the Phantom.

"His name is Erik. Mother saved him from a circus and hid him away in the caverns and basement of this opera house," she paused to catch her breath, "he was Christine vocal teacher. He usually approached this room through that doorway right there." Meg nudged to the mirror they both were staring into.

"What's under the mask?"

"Even I don't know the answer of that."

"He's quite charming, don't you think?" A small smirk played against Célestine's lips. A pleasant visage danced on her face, making it abundantly glowing against the pale light of the candles.

Meg could only lie about her answer. "I'm in no position to answer that."

Célestine's hand played with the beads on her skirt.

In the past, she was the deliberation of every male ranging in ages from 18 to 80! Her father had arranged for her to meet with several dukes, lords and counts from neighboring provinces and countries. He had hoped to promote his daughter's status. All of the men Célestine had met did not either share the same interests as her or they are not as charming as she had wish they would be. Sir De Lorme pressed on his daughter that interests and looks does not play a hand in marriage. The role of a wife was to take care of the family and produce heirs.

They both ended up in a verbal fight.

Célestine taunted that her mother married a terrible man who does not love her for who she was. She thought her mother would be better off married to a stable boy and she would be happier with him than with her father! In reality, she loved her father, but when it comes to heeding his attention to the stuff that his love ones liked, he sucked at it. His St. Christmas day's presents was always useless! She had no use for items like a basket full bobbins of thread and embroidering patterns.

Deep in thought, the playwright played with the multi-layered petticoat. The jewel on her garter was painfully pressed against her thigh. She's going to have a permanent scar if she kept wearing it.

She came from the countryside of France, being dressed as royalty was not required everyday. She loved the days when she was allow to wear only drawers with riding trousers and an oxford styled shirt. The sleeves would be too big on her that it would bellow and ballooned in the wind.

But life is not that simple any more.

"Have you ever talked to him?" Célestine pulling herself back into their conversation.

Meg looked up from the music sheet. "No, mama only told me little stories about him," she paused for a moment, "what had happened that turn your interest to the opera ghost?"

"I'm not sure. Is he really a ghost?"

"Christine had said he was a regular man like every one else."

"What are his weaknesses?"

"Singing…"

One of the many dreadful things that she cannot do!

Célestine felt silly about asking Meg these questions about a man who she took one look at and fell in love with. Her father often said that love at first sight was just a myth. No one in the past has ever looked at a person and then fell in love with him or her right away! It was a foolish dream.

Célestine felt like a child thinking about all of the rubbish. But when it comes to the matter of the heart, it's a hard decision of being foolish about it or not. The contradictions battling in her mid had concluded that she was foolishly in love with a stranger, to add to that, this stranger was no ordinary stranger, but the 'phantom' himself. Célestine sighed out quietly. Maybe it would have been better if she'd gotten married to the duke who was three times her own age.

Love was also another issue that her father kept talking about. "Love will get you no where! It does not matter if your husband does not return your love. You must still do your duties of being his loyal wife no matter the consequences!" His words were still ringing in her head.

"I hate this world and its cruelties." The playwright slumped back against the couch.

"It's not that bad." Meg rebelled, laughing as she set the music sheets down.

"Love, when you get to my age, you'll think the world is a living hell."

"I can't wait…" The two of them broke into peals of laughter. Laughing is a good remedy for a wounded soul.

After a while, an uncomfortable silence fell around them. Célestine looked tiredly at her toes peeking out from the ruffles of her dress.

"It's getting late. I must get back to mama before she starts worrying." Meg stood up from her seat. Céles nodded and closed her eyes momentarily before it fluttered open. "You should rest Célestine. Dark circles are starting to grow under your eyes."

"I embrace my old age with my whole heart."

"You're not old, Mademoiselle De Lorme! Please try to get some sleep. You'll need all of your strength for the days ahead." Meg retreated from the room. "Good night."

"Good night, child" the door clicked slowly.

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Erik could feel his fingers were going to start bleeding again. He has been composing and practicing pieces for her at his own will. No matter how hard he tried, he can't bring himself to stop. The music sheets were stained red with his blood and sweat of determination.

The hollow sound of the ringing cello echoed through every crevasse in the cavern. The melancholy tone bounced off every rock as he closed his eyes, imagining himself sitting in the dressing room and Célestine smiling pleasantly, watching him play. He hated to bring the song to its end as his dream dispersed in his mind. Writing the last notes on his sheet, Erik stood up stretching his rigid body to free it from the pain.

He closed the leather binding with all of his blood strew sheets on it. The man tightens the leather cord around the book with a content smile on his face. Erik was hoping he could deliver it to her personally and see the reflection on her face about his gift.

The sheets felt so heavy in his hand, not to mention in his mind. He wondered if she was going to be the reining soloist for the opera and then run away with a more suitable and handsome guy than he. Leaving him in his world of darkness to condemn and torture himself with a permanent picture of his loved ones; dispersed, never to return.

Erik threw the book across the room onto a broken mirror. The content spilled out on to the floor, flinging and flying around like feathers in the wind. He grabbed his head and slumped down on to the stool.

The pictures of Christine's face were flashing in his mind like a moving picture portfolio.

It was taunting him.

It was haunting him.

Her smile was intoxicating; it had nearly made him crack inside out when he had seen it. Her looks were mesmerizing. Her voice was memorable. The only one that can make his soul soared to the height of the stars. But she was no longer his, but that doltish boy!

What did he have that Erik didn't? Aside from the deformity on his face that everyone seems to despise. It was a plague that poisoned their affection. The asinine pup didn't have the ability to compose exquisite pieces that he did for Christine. But that boy was not he and he was not that boy and Erik hated himself for that fact.

Erik picked up the book off the floor slowly, hoping time and death would pass by him so quickly that he would not even feel it. His mellow sigh traveled through the cavern.

It was time to face the music; literally. Erik would just waltz into her residence and hand her the music he had composed for a stranger he didn't even know. He breathed in deeply, trying to recollect his free flying thoughts. The phantom stepped into his gondola carefully before taking up the oar to paddle his way towards reality. The section of the skin that was under his mask started to perspire under the intense wave of emotions.

Each paddle echoed through the canal as he neared the main body of the house. Everything around him was silent. There was not even a peep of the rodents running around in havoc. Erik loved this silent. The silent of knowing that there will be something to look forward to the next morning, even if it was the sound of Christine's melodious voice or Célestine's triumphant remarks about her script. A discreet silence, something Madame Giry would have described it.

His large frame slumped with another heavy sigh as he pulled the gondola onto the shore. Erik was not wearing any exquisite pieces of clothing. It was just plain black trouser and a white shirt that was spotted with ink. She was a woman of virtues and of recherché taste, but her status held no lower than his. She was just a woman who does not need any expensive appeal to flatter her fancy.

He heard of the De Lorme name from words passed from mouth to mouth, newspapers and the Giries occasional gossip. Célestine was never mentioned in any of the publication, but was over shadowed by her younger sister and prime Donna, Aimee De Lorme-Monet, a soprano of great status. Aimee was known for her childishly plum shaped head and her wicked, spoiled little smile. It was such a perfect family portrait.

He weaved through the candleholders silently, not letting the wicked things inferred with his turtle-like pace. Before long, he was standing in front of the illusion of a door way. The room was dimly by the fire place. The faint figure of the playwright's arm was draped over an ottoman. Everyday since she have been here, she slept, draped against a piece of furniture.

How does he know?

Gossip whispers will travel a thousand mile.

Erik pushed the mirror to the side. A soft whoosh of warm air brushed by him, he could hear the whips and crackle of the fire and her deep breaths. Without any sounds, Erik moved towards her. The playwright's hand was occupied by a piece of paper written with the utmost schooled calligraphy print. It was addressed from Sir Michael De Lorme, her father. At first he did not care about the contents upon the letter as he looked around for a place to set down his gift for her.

But his curiosity got the best of him.

He softly pulled the paper from under her grasp. Céles groaned before moving her arms momentarily before rolling off into another onset of wonderful dreams.

Célestine,

'Tis not a matter of what situation you've put yourself in, I shall not fund you in your wrongdoings. Lud! You've put yourself in a world of mess and confusion and expect me to help you. Even though your eyes and ears will not take this so easy, even if I am your father, I have the ability to say no. If you want it so horribly bad, Célestine, you can scheme a plot in that devilishly intelligent mind of yours to find money. If you could have pursue another goal, another dream, like your sister, you could have been a happy soul, and die as one. Don't take it the wrong way m'dear daughter, if you only had married Duke Blakeley, your future could have been a bit more stabled.

The Lord's looking over you,

Michael De Lorme.

Erik read over the note repeatedly. Her father seems like a heartless bastard, something close to what Erik might turn out to be if he was a father. His words were massively painful, especially for a much anticipated child, who hopes for her father's support. He set down the paper next to her opposite hand, leaning down to admire the curve of her cheeks, the curls of her lips, the waves in her hair and the lush filled lids that were covering her bright emerald eyes.

His eyes traveled to look all around her facial features until its shrinking pupils stopped at her wide opened green eyes…

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That was my lame attempt for a cliffhanger.

I'm a slow writer. Please forgive me for my turtle-like pace. I'm in school for the summer and classes are dreadfully gags boring and massively busy and fast pace. So when I have large amount of time, I will try to write. I know this chapter is a bit short, forgive me that I did not write enough to fill your thirst for more.

Thank you for those you've reviewed.

Reviews are greatly appreciated; flames are accepted.