Hello and welcome to the first chapter of Requiem's End. Thanks much for having faith in me and clickin' that link.

This is a Meg/Erik Romance and it was meant to be solely based on the book but now its more a combination of the movie, the stage performance, the book and my own imagination.

I hope that you enjoy the story that follows.

WARNING:

The FADA (Fanfiction Addiction Detection Agency) has come to the conclusion that this story can be highly addicting. The Author cannot be held responsible for drops in the reader's grades due to new chapters. Large doeses of Requiem can lead to dependence. The Author is not responsible for withdrawal symptoms which can occur when author fails to update speedily enough.


The first thing I remember is sitting on the floor watching my mother dance. I told her she was pretty and she smiled. She smiled more back then before father died, not that I remember him at all now. She asked if I would like to learn like her and I nodded. She started teaching me then, which was before her accident when she was a ballerina for the Paris Opera House. She wasn't the Prima Ballerina but she would be, everyone could tell. At least, before her accident everyone was sure she would be the next Prima Ballerina that our Opera House saw. I was too young to really understand her accident. I was with the youngest of the petite rats and we were practicing with the mistress of the corps when the manager's assistant – whom allowed most of the petite rats to call him Uncle Fabre – came into the room. We were all too terrified of the mistress and her violent ways to acknowledge him but in the mirror I could see him wringing his hat between his hands. "Madame?" He asked, drawing the mistress's attention away from her tirade in the direction of an older member of the corps. "Madame, I am afraid I have to take Mademoiselle Giry." The mistress opened her mouth, the skin between her brows twisting together, showing she was furious but Fabre spoke faster. "There has been an accident. Her mother…Madame Giry is in the hospital."

I was always Little Meg to everyone, and I thought that it had caught me off guard when he called me Mademoiselle. That was nothing compared to the cold rush of fear that flooded me when I heard of my mother. There was a rushing sound that filled my ears and I wavered on my feet. Fabre lifted me easily and I couldn't have been much older than six or seven. I was small even for such a young age. I blinked and every sound that reached my ears sounded dull, like it was coming to me from down a long hall. I saw Christine Daaè standing, staring at me with those big blue eyes, blue eyes filled with tears. It was in that image that I truly realized what was happening and I dissolved into tears against Fabre's strong shoulder. His arms wrapped around me and held me tight against him. I was still in my ballet uniform and as he set me in the seat of the carriage waiting for us he shed his coat and wrapped it around me. I don't know why he bothered, I couldn't feel anything, and I was too terrified to try. The ride was infinite; it stretched forever and took no time at all. While we drove through the streets the carriage could not be going much faster than a crawl but then once we were at the hospital we had gone much too fast and I was almost hesitant to go into the building. I didn't want to see my strong mother in a bed surrounded by doctors. I didn't want to know what was wrong.

I started crying again as Fabre lifted me to carry me into the hospital, his coat still wrapped awkwardly around me. I buried my face in his shoulder and tried to muffle my sobs as we walked through the long corridors that all smelled of rubbing alcohol. We entered a room and I don't know why but I looked up, almost knowing that we had arrived at our destination. I saw my mother lying in the bed, looking small and weak and I let out a long wail. I struggled loose and dropped to the floor, scrambling to my mother's side, gripping her long hand between my much smaller ones, which were still pudgy with baby fat.

It was later that I found out what had happened to her. She hadn't hurt herself all that badly, she had just slipped and fallen down the stairs. But for a ballerina her life was over. Her ankle was hurt and they didn't know if she would ever be able to walk without the aid of a cane. When I heard that my heart broke, all that my mother was had come from dance. It was why I loved to dance, because she had loved it. To know that she would never dance again made my heart shatter and in my childish world I never even thought of how it may make her feel. As I grew older my mother became the sort of surrogate mother of the petite rats, and a box attendant for loge number five. I was horrified having to watch her amble around with her cane clutched tightly in one hand, still so proud. I started training harder, assuring myself that I would become a fulfilling the dream for both of us. However I was always overshadowed by someone else. I tried as hard as I could but I was always just Little Meg. I was Little Meg, the girl whose mother used to be something special.

It was when I was seventeen in 1880, part of the famous year that the Phantom decided Christine could hide in the shadows no longer. I had always known Christine was special, I didn't know her tutor was the Phantom though, that one bit of information had come as quite a surprise to me when she did tell me. Not that she realized that my Phantom and her Angel were the same person when she told me of her tutor, it wasn't until much later I realized the connection.

My mother had told me stories of the phantom, our own private benefactor, for years. He gave us things, money from the massive salary he drew, candies for her or me; things to keep us afloat because my mother tended his box so well. The money wasn't much, it was nothing in comparison to how much the managers paid him but we weren't doing well by any means and it kept us clothed and fed. Even though both of us drew a salary from the Opera House and even though the Phantom did offer her generous tips we were just barely scraping by. We were happy, don't misunderstand. I loved my mother and she loved me and she was one of the few people to know more about me than to call me "Little Meg."

Unfortunatly I wasn't like Jammes or Carlotta, I watched while my mother suffered and wondered if maybe I should stop bothering to be a ballerina when I could make money if I went into a real job, not much money but I would never be as good a dancer as La Sorelli, I would never be good enough to be able to make enough money to support my mother. I didn't think that I had the skill. The Baron Catelo-Barbezac had made his intentions known but I had seen what a marriage to someone of high standing could do to a girl from the Opera House. I would not be welcomed to continue dancing, no matter the empty promises he made now. My mother, she never explained why but she was sure that I would be prima ballerina one day and that some rich, powerful man would fall in love with me. That would be the only way I could help her, by marrying rich.

'Mehg,' I loved how she said my name, 'Le Fantome, he is real, he lives beneath the Opera House, if you do as he asks he is your greatest ally, but if you cross him, his lasso will find your neck. Small as it may be.' She constantly rubbed it in that I was too small. She was taller than I by almost four inches even hobbled over like she had become in her later years. I was not the stuff of prima ballerinas as much as I wanted to be, as much as I wanted to become. She didn't mean to rub it in but she was the great Hèlène Giry, and she wanted me to learn well, she thought that if she could train me well enough in addition to what talent I got from the Ballet Corps that maybe I would be too good to ignore despite my small stature.

I had grown up with him treating us well. He gave us money when we had nearly nothing, he allowed my mother a job when she could dance no more and I couldn't call what I felt for him anything more than hero worship when I was still seventeen and still a child but I thought that was all it was. So when things culminated and when everything started happening all at once, I still clung to what I was sure was unchanging. My opinion of my mother, of Christine, of Carlotta, of all of them, I was changing my views and only the Phantom remained the same, a static character, madly in love with someone. I suppose he was always the same, and it was just me who changed but I'm stumbling ahead of myself in this narrative.

I asked mother one night what his name was, and she told me that the only name she knew him by was Phantom. Or if he was in a playful mood Opera Ghost, and I was disappointed to learn that she had never just asked him.

When I saw the crowd heading down to his home I tried to stop them. My small size was the undoing once more. The crowd pulsed and moved with a soul of its own and I was swept up in it, caught by a stagehand in the middle and set forward, he told me that I could find something worth selling down there and why would I not want to go down there with the group. I couldn't move, the crush of bodies was too close, and the next morning, the next day, I was grateful I had been dragged down into the darkness. I still wore the shirt from Faust, a large cotton thing which fluttered about me, and when we reached his home I broke free and rushed, looking to save anything I thought he might want. I found scattered notes on a desk, music and things I could not understand and these I shuffled together and tucked into the front of my shirt. I found a bottle of ink, finer ink than I had ever seen and I pocketed it, feeling the awkward shape press into my thigh as I was jostled by two of the men who tended to the horses rushing by me. It was only through the graceless fall that I suffered because of their carelessness that I managed to find something more precious than anything else. Almost lost among the folds of black fabric was the perfect white of the porcelain mask he wore.

Time froze and as though it had been a tangible cold my blood turned to ice. It got hard to breath and the cool mask was clutched in my hands before I even realized what I was doing. I would have taken more time to inspect it but I heard the mob yelling in the rooms beyond and I tucked the mask to be pressed between the paper and my stomach. I was surprised at how warm it was and I couldn't help but wonder how long it had been since he had taken it off. I wondered if he was still alive, if the warmth was a good thing or if I should be more worried that he was separated from the mask.

That night of fire and screams was forever burned in my memory. I have since then experienced more terrifying things, and seeing the grand chandelier come speeding towards you as you stood on stage was a terrifying thing in itself. However it will always be reserved in a special place of my memory. Because that was the night that I realized that for all her speeches and for all her righteousness and dedication to the Phantom, she feared him just as much as everyone else. All the times she had told me that I had nothing to fear from him were lies because I could tell on that night that she feared him as much as the petite rats.

It was a horrifying thing to have to realize, to realize that I wasn't afraid of him and that maybe I should be. I just couldn't bring myself to fear him. Whenever I tried, and believe that I did try, I could only recall my first night of performing on stage with an audience. I had been terrified, more than that even, more scared than words on paper can convey. However that night, when my mother came to me after checking the Loge that the Phantom sat in every performance she held a small box that was bright red with a big gold ribbon tying it shut. Even if the box was empty my breath was caught in my throat. The ribbon was one of the most beautiful things I had seen in my whole life and I wanted to wear it in my hair. I would be the envy of Jammes even with such a fine ribbon. I saw the note on it and realized that if but the note had been left in the Phantom's box it would have been the best gift I had ever received in my life. Not that I had received many gifts in my life.

Scrawled in his awkward handwriting, not that I was one to talk about someone's handwriting with my tiny scratches and blotches of ink, were two words: "Congratulations Megan." No one called me Megan, I was always Little Meg or Meg. It was just the way the world worked. But seeing those two words made me feel so grown up and so special, like I was the greatest dancer in the world. It was not a long-lasting feeling but even when I no longer thought that I still cherished the sentiment.

The box itself opened to reveal a bit of wax paper which folded aside to show four little chocolates nestled in more wax paper. I savored them and allowed myself one before bed for the next four nights. Two were filled with a creamy, sugary substance I could not name and could barely find words to describe. The other two were filled with mint that was not too strong and not to weak of taste. I loved the milky ones better and Mother said that the next time she tended the Phantom in his box and he asked for his little stool she told him how much I had adored the chocolates. He had been silent a moment and then said that he was glad I liked them.

In my mind, with my over-active imagination, I pretended that he smiled in that moment of silence, secretly very glad I had liked them. This was because in my imagination he was going to whisk us away to his grand palace so that we wouldn't have to live in the cold and the damp anymore and he was going to get doctors to fix my mother's leg and he was going to get me great ballet tutors so I could achieve my dream and…and…and…

I don't know if I envisioned him as a father or a fairy godmother or as perhaps a husband in those days. Then again back then I was caught up in thinking other things. I had, even before being presented with the chocolates decided that even if mother didn't care about ballet I would want to be a ballerina. I did it for me and no one else. The long nights of practice in the dark, the pain, the bloodied slippers, those were things I did for me. I could not bring myself to do those things if it was not my dream and mine alone. The practices at the Opera House and the parts in Operas those were things I did at one time to make my mother happy.

I could not tell you just when my dream changed from marrying a rich man who could take care of mother and buy us a home with fireplaces and real beds to a dream of me dancing on a stage with even more skill than the finest dancers in the world. The dream always ended the same, with me stopping, my dance finished, and the people in the audience showering me with more flowers than I could name. I don't know when my dream changed, but it did, and I accepted it and threw myself into dancing, struggling to be better than everyone else. I did improve, but I was still short and I would not be getting a lead any time soon. I was in a wonderful environment for an aspiring dancer though and I got better all the time, or at least, I didn't get worse. I really threw my heart and soul into it, it was just that people like me had a tendency to fall through the cracks, I was good enough to keep myself in performances but I would need a lifetime more of improvement to have a lead or just something better than a dancer in the background. And the Phantom's encouragement only served to make me work all the harder.

That was why I couldn't fear him. I had grown up with him as a constant in my life and in all my eighteen years he had never hurt me, never shown anything either than indifference or kindness. So I could not see why the people around me hated and feared him so much. I knew that he had killed; I knew that he had dropped the chandelier, but he must have had reasons. I knew after all that he had only ever been feared or hated so I thought maybe he was just unsure of how to act around normal people.

I had—of course—never believed he was a phantom; that revelation had come by mistake. I always thought he meant phantom in the sense that he moved about the Opera House with the skill and ease that made him seem like a phantom. So I was surprised when people started talking about the ghost or the man with the death's head. I didn't really know what I thought about the phantom, I had ideas but nothing else, mostly because everyone treated me like a child and never let me think for myself. But I got very good at it very fast on that horrible night that they found his home. I made my choice to side with the phantom and I made my choice to help him by trying to save the most precious things in his lair. Or at least the things I thought would be important to him, it was all just guesses on my part. I didn't know what he held dear but it wasn't really what I grabbed that was important, it was that I did take things with the intention of given them back to him at a later date.

The morning after the mob everyone seemed to drop back to normal, almost like they had not destroyed a man's life at all. They went about their lives like they always did and I had to follow along too, the things I had saved were at home, under a lose floorboard and they waited there, collecting a thin layer of dust over the week that they sat there. It was my little secret but I had no way to get it to the Phantom. I didn't even know if he was still down there somewhere or if he was even alive after the bloodlust that had taken a hold of the people that night.

In fact, it would not be for nearly two weeks after the happenings that I took action. That day I had wrapped my uniform for ballet up around the three items I had collected along with a small bit of dried meat just because I didn't know how he would get things like food if he was down there. I had a plan.

I was worried for the Phantom and my mother had always said that I was a girl of action rather than planning. It was true. I stayed up well into the night, staring at the moonlight playing over the ceiling while I decided what to do. I knew I could get down to his home without being noticed and I knew I couldn't wait any longer for news of his health or lack there of. I would sneak down into his world below the Opera House and if he was alright I would give him his things and be gone, nothing more said so long as he was fine. If he was injured I would find a way to help and if he was dead—I felt tears burn trails along my cheeks at that thought but pushed on, making sure that if I panicked I would know what needed to get done and would not forget it. If the Phantom was dead I would bury him properly and I would say a prayer. I would not let him burn in hell when he had wallowed in darkness his whole life.

The next day, when practice was over I made my way to the only entrance I knew of. I had told my mother that I was going to see if I could convince someone to replace the mirrors where we practiced. The Dancer's Lounge was kept immaculate because members of the audience could come visit there but where we practiced most of the time when we were not on stage the mirrors were dirty and yellowed and the floors creaked something horrible. I knew that so many complaints were made about it that they would never remember if I had or had not complained that day. Instead of complaining though I would be trekking down that path into darkness once more and I would find answers to my questions. I told her not to wait up for me and not to worry, if I stayed later than sunset I would have one of the stagehands escort me home or I would secure a handsome cab.

She was content that I was safe and I had all the time I needed.

The journey was long but there were no rats and little cobwebs. The mob had frightened off the rats and their torches had burned away the webs for the most part. I walked with only the soft sounds of my feet on the floor to keep my company as I went along. The papers rustled and I felt the edges of the ink pressing into my hand but the thing that weighed the most of what I carried was the mask. I wondered what it meant that I had found it. Did it mean that he had run? Did it mean that he had died? Had he left with Christine and Raoul? So many questions were swirling through my mind that I could barely focus on just one at a time which left me unable to answer any of the questions. So I pressed on, plunging into the darkness with no fear other than I would not be able to help the Phantom who had helped me so much, well helped my mother which did in the end help me. I couldn't lie to myself and pretend he knew me though, I knew he didn't. My mother caught his attention, that was because she was once something great and because she tended to his box and knew his secrets, or some of them. He noticed Christine. Who wouldn't? I had always known that she was special; I didn't need to hear her sing to know that, you really just had to look in her eyes. She was too innocent to not have a beautiful song. But then, there was…I didn't want to say it, she sang beautifully and she was my friend and nothing else mattered at the time.

I stood at the edge of the great lake and looked across it wondering at the latest trial to be bested. The night that the mob came the men swam across and brought back boats. But I couldn't swim. I saw that there was a ledge, tiny in some parts but it did look like it went all the way around. It was risky but I wasn't thinking clearly, not that I ever did really, I've said before how I act before I think and that remains very true throughout my life. I pressed myself to the wall and for a while tried it on pointe and that helped greatly even though I was wearing shoes rather than my ballet slippers. My ballet slippers were tied and hung around my shoulders as I slipped along the edge of the lake, the bulky package which was lashed to my back was bulky and it threw off my balance. I was lucky that I was decent enough on my feet to make do and not fall in as I edged along the small space.

I was closer to the bank which was my destination rather than where I had started from when I found no more places to place my feet. Part of the small ledge had fallen away and I could see the continuation. It was just a matter of if I could stretch far enough to reach there. I clung to the wall, the skin on my knuckles scraping painfully against the rocks I clung to so desperately. With my face so close to my hands even with the dim light I could see the dark blood oozing over my pale skin. It was horrifying but I was used to taking off my toe shoes and seeing blood and purple toes so it wasn't too hard to ignore and work through. I stretched one leg out as though I were on the stage, stretching into a position. Thinking of it that way instead of realized that if I tumbled back into the water I would drown made it easier to continue to stretch and struggle and move. My outstretched leg finally hit stone and stopped, leaving me with my legs stretched apart and my hands clinging to the stones that made up the walls. For a moment I was at a loss as what I should do and then I moved my foot farther away from me, more towards The Phantom's home, and when I could stretch no more I lifted the leg near the exit up and in a similar motion brought it towards the end of my journey, his home.

When it touched the ground I was afraid for a moment and I pitched wildly, trying to catch myself. Finally I was steady once more and for several moments I clung to the wall desperately, wishing that I could swim like the boys in the corps could. Finally I began to inch along once more, realizing I was more afraid of hurting what precious little I had been able to save from his home rather than the idea of drowning and no one ever finding my body. I had shuffled through the sheets of music and though I could not read music I knew a little of what I was seeing and I knew he had thrown his life into this. That alone made it important and I would do anything to give it back to him.

So focused was I on worrying and wondering that I stumbled when I was on solid ground rather than the ledge. I pitched forward and landed hard on my knees, grateful I had pulled a thick cotton skirt on rather than the stockings I wore for ballet. The sturdy fabric protected me for the most part and didn't rip at all. I knelt there for a few moments more though, breathing deeply and looking back the way I had come. I didn't think I could do that again and I wondered what would happen to me if I wasn't well received. I had faith that the Phantom, the Phantom I had grown up knowing was somewhere near. The Phantom I had heard stories about, the one that had given me candy, was kind. However, maybe he had changed since the attack on his home. Maybe he didn't want any reminders of the world above. I pulled the package away from my back and folded my arms around it, standing slowly and walking with tiny steps as I searched for him, or any sign of him. I didn't know where the light was coming from but it was too dim to read my watch by. I had no way of knowing how long I had been down in that place.

All I knew was that it had been a long enough time for me to be worried about The Phantom's survival. I finally walked into the burnt out dinning room and turned one of the chairs to sit on its feet, then I dropped into it and curled over the cloth parcel. He couldn't be dead; I would have found some trace. So maybe he was gone, maybe he just left? Desperate thoughts rushed through my mind clambering for attention, all desperate to explain his absence to me before I was worrying too much to do anything. I sat there for an indeterminate amount of time and finally I heard a soft sound, like a moan or a muffled cry. I stood and nearly tripped on my skirts as I rushed to find the source of that sound. I dropped his things onto one of the only still standing tables pressed myself to a wall. It sounded like the sounds were coming from inside the wall. My hands rushed over the peeling wallpaper and I realized that I was trembling. "Monsieur?" My voice was trembling as badly as I was. "Monsieur, are you alright?" There was silence now and for a few terrified moments I was sure that I had just been hearing things and then suddenly my hand slid over a part of the wall and I heard a click and then the wall slipped away and I tumbled forward, stumbling and managing to catch myself before I hit the ground. I had in fact shouted in my startled state, "Bloody—" the curse however died on my lips as I saw where I was.

I was in a room that will always be one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen in my life. The furniture, the…just everything was probably more than I would ever see even if I chose to go with the Baron. For several moments I stood just staring at this beauty around me and then I heard another soft moan to see The Phantom, the Phantom of the Opera standing there staring at me. His face startled me I won't deny it, but I didn't understand the fit Christine had thrown over it, the flesh was puckered and twisted, almost like a burn scar. It did not cover his whole upper face as his mask did but I supposed that made that way it would be easier to hold on, however he managed to do it. One eye was opened a little too wide because of this scaring but I had seen men worse off for those few weeks I had to travel to the hospital if I wished to see my mother. I saw anger in his eyes as he moved quickly and pulled the black domino over his face, I was afraid I'd angered him and began to speak very quickly. "I'm terribly sorry to intrude in your home, but I couldn't stop the people coming here that one night so I tried to save things I thought might be important." I was shaking but I didn't think I was afraid of him so I wasn't sure why my hands were trembling like leaves. As I spoke I held the small parcel out to him, watching as he didn't take it. After a few moments I set it on the table and began unfolding things. The ink was first and it caught the light, sending ruby light flickering across the floor. The music was next. "I can't read it but it looks very good, is there a ballet to go along with it?"

I had meant that to be a joke but he didn't waver as he stood there and only stared at me, making me feel small and insignificant. "I don't think you need this but it looks like it was expensive and not that you're poor but my mother says to never waste money at all so I couldn't let them destroy it."

"I would think they would have mounted it on the wall like some trophy." His voice was thick as though he had been crying. A feeling of awkwardness settled over us and I twisted the ink bottle around not sure of what to do. "How did you get across the lake?" He asked suddenly. I glanced up and through a few strands of hair as I explained my arduous journey around the edge of the lake and ending up explaining my way to discovering this room as well.

"I never got to thank you." I whispered. I don't know why I was being so quiet it was almost like I was afraid of shattering such a precious moment.

"Thank me?" He asked, and I was surprised that even if he didn't know he asked.

"When I was younger. My first time in a stage performance, you gave me chocolates." I felt foolish having to explain it, realizing how insignificant I was. I supposed having the baron lavish me with attention had, in a way, spoiled me. The Baron was famous and he gave me whatever I wanted, things I didn't even want I still received from him. Most of the gifts he gave me were pointless things, clutter for my closet of a room. I often thought of asking him for a real bed to sleep in or a real home for my mother and I but to ask for a gift would be to accept what he wanted in exchange for the gifts. I was not sure if I was ready to marry, ready to give up my passion, my dancing. People thought I danced because my mother couldn't anymore and forced it upon me but so was my curse.

I was so plain, so easily forgotten and I wasn't very good at what I did. As such it was hard to believe that I loved what I did. People can always tell when talented people have passion for something they do but you cannot tell when someone who is determined has passion. Because all the determination in the world will not make up for a lack of talent, many times I had been offered by people other positions around the opera. "Your mother would not mind." Instruments, singing, even back stage I was offered positions but I wanted to dance. I loved dancing even if I wasn't as good as others and I just wished that they would leave me to what I loved. Often times I liked to pretend that that was how the phantom was. Wishing that people would leave him to his music and his darkness because those were things he loved.

"I remember." He said, staring at me, I lifted the mask and held it out as I took a few steps toward him. I had to bite my tongue. I didn't know what to say so I would say nothing at all. That had always been my fault, speaking without thinking. It had gotten me into trouble several times and I did not think it would do well to anger him any more than I was sure I already had. "You've done what you came to do. Leave." He commanded. But his voice was not as powerful as I knew it to be. The few times I had heard him speak or sing I cherished and replayed in my head as I drifted to sleep. I knew his voice and I knew he was weak. He seemed to fall in slow motion. I pushed the mask at the table and dully heard it clatter as it skittered across the surface of the lacquered table. Years of dance, even if I wasn't the best dancer, had left me fast and I caught him. Of course I didn't think about how heavy he was and only succeeded in crumbling beneath his weight, taking solace in the fact that I did manage to pillow his fall.

I moved slowly away from him, pulling his arm around my shoulders so I could drag him to the bedroom I had just left. His flesh was clammy and hot and he was shaking even worse than I. However I doubted it was for the same reasons that I still shook. His feet dragged along the floor and made twin trails in the soft carpet of the room we entered and I worried about him, not that I could carry him any other way, but I still worried. It was because I tried to find a way to not drag him along in such a manner that I stumbled, crashing to the floor. If when he fainted the world moved in slow motion, this time it seemed to speed up. For a moment I was standing, struggling with his weight and the next I was on the floor with him sprawled across my back. Both my wrists were aching and I realized I had tried to catch myself with them and only succeeded in slamming all my weight and most of The Phantom's into the tiny things.

It was difficult to get up again, and I ended up having to roll free from him, stand and then walk to his side. I had to find a way to lift him again; the bed was so close I couldn't give up now. Not that I wasn't so stubborn I would never have given up. I knelt down with my back to him and pulled his limp arms over my shoulders, pulling forward so he was draped over my back. His forehead brushed the back of my neck and I was startled at just how hot he was. I wondered if I would be able to do anything for him at all. But doubts like that were pushed from my head. I was going to try, and I was going to succeed. I finally reached the side of the bed and aching all over I twisted and let go of his hands so he tumbled onto the soft sheets. I stood for a few moments and then set to work. I had learned more than most of the rats about first aid because the people at the hospital took pity on me whenever I went to visit my mother. If she was sleeping, or in a bad mood, they let me follow them as they made rounds. I took the black mask off first, pressing the back of my hand to his forehead. I had been taught that you could easily tell if someone had a severe fever this way should you be without the proper tools to detect it for yourself. He was burning, I could feel it so strongly against my skin that it nearly hurt me.

I had to cool him down. That I knew how to do from my father, in fact it was one of the few memories I had of him. Mother had gotten very sick and he told me that we would sweat the fever out since we could not afford a doctor. We pulled bricks from around our fireplace and we heated them and wrapped them in cloth, packing them tight around her frail form. The Phantom's home was in such disrepair that it was no trouble finding several large rocks I could use for this method. Building a fire was harder but there were candles everywhere so I knew there had to be matches, it was only a matter of finding them. I had lost track of time but eventually I did find a small box of matches in a drawer in the beautiful room I had left the Phantom in. He had once had beautiful tapestries and these were now in tatters so I collected them all and brought them to the grand room, half would be used for the fire, since I couldn't find any logs. The rest would of course wrap the bricks, they were all destroyed anyway. There were tongs I found that I could use to remove the bricks and so it was all set. I glanced back at the phantom as I began building the fire and stoking it. The bricks were placed in there and I let the fire work itself up while I hunted through the debris and found a chipped bowl that I filled with water from the lake and used a strip of fabric torn from my skirt to dunk in the cold water and laid that over his face, trying to cool the burning flesh. And all the while I talked. I couldn't sing, at least not compared to Christine and since he had taught her that I didn't doubt he was the best. So I spoke of the new opera we were doing and I spoke of Christine and Raoul and of the managers and of my mother. Things just to fill the silence as I waited for the bricks to heat up.

When they were ready I wrapped them in the blankets, burning my flesh in the process but I was intent on what I was doing. I would feel the burns later and I would do something about them later when I wasn't trying to save someone's life, because I was not a musician and I was nothing really special. My legs were everything to me, they were all that mattered to me, and they were not the ones getting burned so it was easy to put out of my mind.

I tucked the rocks around him as best I could, working just a little blindly since it had been years since I had helped my father do this. Still I thought that anything would be better than nothing. Once the bricks were in place all I could do to help was keep the bricks warm for him so as time passed unnoticed I waited at his side, ready to help if I could. There wasn't much I could do in those long hours though so most of my time was spent waiting and wetting his forehead with cool water from the lake. I didn't even pay attention as time passed, so even if I had been able to tell the time I wouldn't be able to keep track of the time. I wouldn't have left if my life depended on it, because his life depended on me staying.

I don't think there is anything that I need to explain but yeah questions are welcomed, enjoyed in fact.