Author's Note: God it's been a long time since I've written a phanphic. Or a fic in general. Or anything. ... But last night, around 3:00 in the morning, after seeing the Phantom movie, the idea for this phic came to me. It occured to me that the real tragedy of Erik is not that he is a wonderful, kind and loving person that is just misunderstood and villified because he is ugly - the tragedy is that he isn't a wonderful, kind and loving person, but he could have been, had he been given the chance. Now, this may turn out to be quite boring and predictable, but I will try very hard to avoid that... And it's your job to let me know how that's going!

Standard disclaimer applies. Credit goes to Leroux, and Webber and Kay.

Suddenly the dark, candlelit room was filled with noise and life, as the sound of an infant's crying burst into the air. Madeleine dropped her head back against the pillow and shuddered, shutting her eyes tightly with relief and gasping for air as the pain subsided. She smiled through her tears and attempted to sit up. Her baby... Her baby was alive, and so was she...

The nursemaid wiped the infant off with care and wrapped it in a cloth, as the strong, hungry wails continued. Madeleine stretched out her weak arms and the girl gently handed the warm bundle over. The crying ceased as the woman held her child to her breast, cradling the head gently.

"He's a beautiful boy, Madame," said the nursemaid.

Maudeleine's smile was serene and dazed as she nodded slowly, trying to memorize every delicate feature on her son's face. She raised a hand slightly to stroke the wonderfully soft, smooth skin of his cheek. His eyes opened and looked up at her, pale and bright and blue.

"Little Eric," she breathed. "My son."

It was a sensation so thrilling and incredible, to know that she had created that little body in her arms, that she had brought this human being into the world. She didn't know how much time passed as she lay there with him in her arms. The moment seemed to hold all moments within it.

Madeleine's half-closed eyes fluttered open at the sound of a deep, awed sigh from across the room. She grinned as she saw her husband standing just inside the room.

"Look, Eric," she whispered to the child. "It's your Papa."

Eric Ténébreux moved slowly to his wife's side and joined her on the edge of the bed. He wrapped an arm around her shoulders and leaned over gently kiss her forehead, sweeping sweaty strands of dark hair out of her eyes. "Isn't he amazing?" she whispered, her eyes never leaving the infant. Eric smiled warmly at his namesake, brushing a finger agaosmt one of the boy's little fists and watching with delight as the tiny fingers wrapped around it tightly.

"Amazing," he concurred, shaking his head in disbelief.

So it might have been...

The nursemaid, no stranger to births, grimaced at the sight of the blood-and-slime-coated infant. She began to carefully clean him up, dabbing at his face with a soaked towel. But she couldn't quite seem to get his face clean… And then she realized.

Madeleine's head shot up from the pillow at the sound of the nursemaid's shriek.

"What?" she cried in alarm, trying to lift her weak body to a sitting position. "What is it? What's wrong?"

The girl looked up at her mistress, her face white. She tried to speak but found no words.

"Give me my baby!" Madeleine shouted.

At a loss, the girl picked up the unnatural creature and brought it to its mother, carrying it at arms length, her eyes turned away. Its screams seemed to become more shrill and urgent every moment.

Madeleine took the warm bundle into her lap, eager to soothe him. She lifted his head tenderly to feed him, but her heart stopped at the sight of the grey, twisted, sunken countenance that stared back at her. The air left her lungs in a loud gasp as her hands released him of their own volition. He fell onto the bedspread with a soft thud, arms flailing wildly, fingers curling and twisting in confusion and desperation, his cries still filling the room. That was not her baby! Panic seized Madeleine and she screamed at the changeling, swatting at him frantically and struggling to move to the edge of the bed.

Her husband came bursting into the room, demanding to know what was happening. She looked up at him, the shock still plain on her face, silently imploring him to do something—anything!—to erase this nightmare. Eric Ténébreux's eyes widened in horror at the sight that met his eyes. Unable to make sense of the madness before him, he simply shook his head slowly in pained disbelief and backed slowly out of the room. Madeleine's screams grew more panicked as she realized that he would do nothing, that there was nothing he could do.

This was a mistake; this was a nightmare. This was not how it was meant to be at all.

Sorry the beginning is so short. I feel it's really a prologue of sorts, just setting up the rest of it. About the name-Erik says in Leroux that he gained it by chance, so I don't think it's what his parents originally named him, or planned to name him, but I couldn't bring myself to call him anything else... So he'll be Eric, which is the french spelling anyway.