Author's Note: I'm so sorry this has taken so long real life (and other fanfic) has been getting in the way. But stick with me for just a few more chapters; I'm nearly finished!
Meanwhile, a million thanks to my reviewers:Aislin of the Shadows, Alicia Corbinwood, Angelus Musici, Baffled Seraph, BelleMarie, convoitez, ElfLover, enigmatic mystery, flamingices, galabalesh, Han Futsu Anti Normal, hikari-no-tsubasa, Hikishianara, Jaina Kenobi, Lady Lorax, Lady Viridis, LejindaryBunny, lor, Masked Phantom, Melissa Brandybuck, MindGame, Misty Breyer, MooMoo-Sama, Moon Avenger, Nade-Naberrie, notesinred, Ophira Holmes, Patronus99, Phantom of Les Miserables, Pickledishkiller, PrincessSaraSolo, Rancid Melody, Ravensmyst, rio, sharaku, Shelvins, StitchGrl, Tian Sirki, and Vix17.
How to Be an Opera Ghost
Part Fourteen: "Plot"
After the rehearsal was over, most of the dancers scurried about, changing at lightning speed in order to leave as quickly as possible. But when Isabelle noticed Meg lagging behind, taking her time, she took the hint and slowed her own pace as well.
"Good night!" called each dancer as, one by one, they left the dressing-room.
As soon as Isabelle and Meg were the only two left, Meg immediately dropped her shoes, with which she'd been pretending to have a problem, and turned to Isabelle. "Well?" she said excitedly. "Tell me everything!"
Isabelle smiled in delight at having Meg's attention focused so suddenly and thoroughly on her. "Everything?" she repeated dizzily.
"About the ghost," prompted Meg.
Isabelle blinked. "The ghost!" she said. "Right. Yes. Well, as I said, I saw him last night." She fumbled for something more interesting to add, but she could barely separate one word from the next in her mind. "That's – that's all, really."
Meg looked vaguely disappointed, but then began to question Isabelle for herself. "What was he wearing?" she began. "The mask, of course. But was it the same suit as always? Was he wearing his cloak? I've heard that sometimes he doesn't."
"Yes, of course," said Isabelle. "It looked like a very nice cloak. Velvet, I think."
With a hint of a frown, Meg said, "You were close enough to tell?"
"Yes – I mean, not terribly close," said Isabelle quickly. "It might not have been velvet. But you know, it was the way it caught the light. It shimmered a little, like velvet does."
Meg tilted her head ever so slightly to one side, as if thinking over this bit of information. "It caught the light," she echoed in a low voice, and then fixed her eyes again on Isabelle. "Where did you see him?"
"In the, er, the corridor. Just outside this room."
"This room?" said Meg.
A brilliant idea occurred to Isabelle, and she smiled warmly at Meg. "Yes. I expect he might have been" – and here she lowered her voice for dramatic effect – "looking for you!"
"Oh!" cried Meg, bringing a hand up to her mouth. "Do you really think so?"
"I'm sure of it," said Isabelle confidently, watching with pleasure as Meg's eyes positively shone.
"How are you sure?" pressed Meg. "Did he say anything about me? Not that I think he'd give our secret away, but did he hint at anything?"
"Well," said Isabelle, thinking quickly. "He said, 'Is there anyone in this room?' We'd all just left only a moment before, so I said that there wasn't."
Meg seemed to be waiting for more, so Isabelle added, "He seemed disappointed."
"Ah!" sighed Meg. "I must've been eating dinner. If only he'd come just a moment sooner."
"It's too bad," agreed Isabelle. "I think we ought to have a drink."
Meg frowned at her. "What?"
"A drink," Isabelle repeated hopefully. "It's what you do when you're in love and things don't work out the way you want them to: you have a drink. With your friends. So we should. I mean... if you want to. Unless – you don't have a rehearsal tonight, do you? I didn't think you did."
"Not tonight," said Meg. "I've got one tomorrow though, so I probably shouldn't go out tonight..."
"Not even for one glass of wine?" said Isabelle.
Meg gave her a smile that seemed to border on being a giggle. "Come now, surely you remember what happened last time I had wine!" she said.
Isabelle, who remembered very clearly, felt her heart skip a beat.
"No," continued Meg. "I really shouldn't. I really ought to go straight home and rest, you know. I've been so tired these past few days."
"Oh," said Isabelle, trying to sound sympathetic. A new idea, a sort of last resort, entered her mind. "I could walk you home?" she suggested.
"That's very sweet," said Meg with a genuinely appreciative smile, "but you needn't go out of your way. I'm actually meant to meet my mum out front. She'll be finished by now, and we're going to walk together."
"Ah," said Isabelle. "Of course."
Picking up her bag, which was by now packed and ready to go, Meg headed for the door. Before she opened it, though, she turned back to Isabelle and said conspiratorially, "But if you see the ghost again, do tell him about my rehearsal tomorrow, won't you? I'd dearly love it if he'd find me and kiss me again."
Isabelle nodded, silently agreeing to Meg's request, and the latter dashed off to meet her mother, leaving Isabelle alone in the dressing-room.
I'd dearly love it if he'd kiss me again...
A wicked smile crept across Isabelle's face as she gathered her own things and prepared to leave.
Suddenly, she didn't care what Erik did or did not want her to do. Tomorrow night, the ghost would be back.