Disclaimer: I own nothing except the Viscount de Martinez.
OK, basically this is an AU fic (Alternate Universe). Raoul doesn't come in, purely because I quite like the guy and didn't want him to seem all evil. He has been replaced with the Viscount de Martinez.
But before I begin, credit where credit is undeniably due - This chapter is dedicated to my wonderful beta La Foamy. For taking on the job of being my first beta (I've never used one before and it shows!) and for being so lovely.
And now - On with the show!
The Phantom of the Opera
"Christine, stop! You are doing it wrong!" Madame Giry said. Christine looked up from her steps. She, Meg and Madame Giry were in the dance room. Madame Giry sat at the piano, looking sternly at her.
"Left foot, first! Left!"
"Try it again. I want it in unison this time, girls." The music started again and Meg and Christine started to dance. Ballet steps: graceful and delicate, yet strong and flowing. Madame Giry kept an eye on them as she played.
The song ended. The girls looked to her for approval. She nodded. "Better. Much better. We will continue tomorrow. I must get to rehearsal." She left the room.
Christine sighed. "Oh, Meg… why can't I do this?"
"Christine, you are a very talented dancer," Meg replied, tying her lace. Christine watched.
"Not as good as you."
"Why don't you audition for the next show as a singer? You could get a better part than just a dancer," Meg said, stretching her limbs.
Christine stretched, too, as she replied, "You know why. With Carlotta at the Opera house there is no room for another singer."
"Carlotta is not the only good singer. Why don't you practice for a while? Everyone else is either rehearsing or in town," Meg said, gesturing to the piano.
Christine hesitated and then sat down. Meg looked at her across the top of the piano. "Christine… will you tell me… who is your tutor? I have heard mother mention your tutor occasionally, but never by name."
"I wish I knew!" Christine laughed. Meg stared at her.
"You don't know who it is?"
"Oh Meg… it is so complicated. Before my father died, he told me that when he was in heaven he would send an Angel of Music to me."
"You think it is… an Angel who teaches you?"
"I don't know. All I know is that I go to rehearse and the voice of my tutor calls to me," Christine said, playing a quick tune on the piano.
Meg gaped at her for a second and then laughed. "Oh, Christine, you are teasing me!" Christine cast her a glance over the piano and her laughter stopped. "You're serious? Your tutor is just a voice?" she asked, disbelievingly. Christine stopped playing and stared down at the black and white keys. Meg touched her hand.
"May I… may I accompany you to your rehearsal? To hear your tutor?"
"No, Meg. He… the Angel is very strict. I must go alone," Christine replied. Meg looked at her. Christine played a simple tune on the piano and started to practice her scales.
At ten o' clock that night, Christine slipped out of the dormitory and made her way to the stage. It would be deserted at this time. She sat on the edge of the stage, waiting for her tutor.
"Christine…" a voice echoed quietly around the room.
Christine got to her feet. "I am here."
"You are ready?"
An instrument played scales and Christine practiced. But she was distracted. Meg's questions had made her curious. She had often wondered who her tutor was but had never asked through politeness. The music stopped.
"You are too tense."
"I am sorry, Master," Christine apologized.
"What troubles you, my angel?"
Christine looked around, searching for the source of the voice. As usual, she found none. "I…nothing."
"Nothing is nothing. If something troubles you, you must acknowledge it. You cannot sing if you are troubled."
"It is just… I have been learning from you for so long, since I was a child. And I have never seen you."
There was no reply. Christine's heart jumped with fear. "Master?" she asked desperately.
The voice replied after a moment, "You wish to see me?"
"I do. Very much."
"Not tonight. But soon, my dear. Soon."
A tune began to play. Christine frowned. "Master, that is the aria. Carlotta's prized piece."
"It is time to take it from the groping hands of Carlotta. I want you to make it your own," the voice said softly. Christine bit her lip.
The music stopped. "Sing the aria Christine. You will need to know it."
"Yes Master," Christine replied.
The session ended at midnight. Christine heard the voice say, "You may sleep."
"Thank you Master."
"Get plenty of rest. Events will be taking a turn tomorrow. You will need to be ready to sing."
"What do you mean Master?" Christine asked.
"You will see tomorrow. Goodnight, my Angel of Music."
"Goodnight, my gracious master."
It was the way they always ended their sessions. Christine bowed and left the room. She walked to her dormitory, tired but elated. Singing always made her feel so good.
Rehearsal the next day was going well when the two new owners of the Opera house came in, leading another man. The rehearsal halted as they stepped onto the stage.
"Everyone, we wish for you to meet our new patron! The Viscount de Martinez," André said, waving at the stranger. Everyone started to chat and peer at the newcomer.
Meg giggled and Christine elbowed her, "Meg!"
"He is so handsome!" Meg whispered girlishly. Christine couldn't deny it. The Viscount was incredibly good looking. His light blonde hair was cut quite short, framing strong, perfect features. His eyes were a startlingly blue, and piercing. He was well-built and stood strongly, surveying them all with interest.
Firmin said to him, "May we introduce you to our leading lady, Carlotta?" The Viscount shook hands with the giggling Carlotta, was introduced to Piangi, and then turned to the Ballet girls.
"The famous Ballet Girls of the Opera Populaire? I have heard much about them."
Madame Giry stepped forward and shook hands with him. "I train the girls, sir."
"And you have done a fine job. Could I meet one? I am interested as to the training programme. Has it changed much since your day?" he asked.
Madame Giry turned and waved over Meg and Christine. "I train the girls everyday. They make great strides in improving. This is my daughter, Meg Giry, and Christine Daae. Both are very talented dancers."
"Miss Giry. Miss Daae." His eyes lingered on Christine. "You are related to the violinist Daae?"
"My father, sir. He passed away many years ago."
"I am aware of that. He was an extraordinary musician." the Viscount said.
Christine smiled slightly. "Thank you, sir."
They all started as Carlotta started to shriek in indignation.
"Madame Carlotta, please. Please sing for us!" Firmin said, trying to stop the shrieking before it got out of control. Carlotta considered him and then tossed her head.
"I believe there is a fine aria that Madame Carlotta is extremely proud of. Perhaps our patron would care to hear?" André said, looking at the Viscount.
"Indeed, I would be delighted."
The three men settled themselves in the front row of chairs and looked up expectantly. Carlotta began to sing the aria. The Viscount looked rather shocked at her shrill tone but listened politely.
Suddenly there was a noise and a screen fell crashing to the stage, knocking Carlotta over. There were screams of surprise and several people rushed to help Carlotta up.
Christine and Meg stared up into the rafters. "It's him! The Phantom of Opera!" Christine said, seizing Meg's arm. They both stared up but saw nothing.
Joseph Buquet was shouting down, "There's no one there, unless it was the ghost!" There was some nervous laughter but it died quickly.
The two owners were tying to calm the furious Carlotta, but the diva merely stormed out of the opera house, swearing she would not sing.
Firmin and André looked at each other. "What are we going to do? We will have to refund a full house! We have no star!" The Viscount stepped forward.
"Isn't there someone else who could sing?"
"Christine Daae can sing." Madame Giry said quickly. Christine stared at her.
André eyed her. "A chorus girl?"
"She has been well taught. Let her sing for you."
"I don't know, Madame Giry."
"Come, monsieurs. Let the girl sing," the Viscount said. Christine swallowed hard and stood at the edge of the stage. The conductor looked up at her as the aria began to play.
Christine relaxed herself, remembering all that her master had taught her. She stood tall and let the song flow. She did not see André and Firmin's mouths fall open. She did not see Meg and Madame Giry exchanging pleased glances. She did not see the Viscount watching her closely.
She did not see her Master watching from Box 5.
She finished the song on a perfect note. After taking a second to catch her breath she turned to the three gentlemen. The Viscount was the first to speak.
"Congratulations, Miss Daae. I believe you have just earned yourself a part in the Gala."
"You will think… of me!" Christine sang that night, at the gala. The audience got to their feet, applauding and cheering. Christine left the stage, feeling on top of the world.
Meg seized her arm. "Christine, you were incredible!"
"Thank you Meg," Christine said, hugging her best friend. Madame Giry kissed her cheek.
"You sang perfectly. And I believe the Phantom of the Opera approved." She handed her a rose. It was red and tied with a black ribbon.
Christine looked at it and then looked up with a smile. "I am tired. I think I should go and rest."
She went to the room she had been given. It was really Carlotta's but Christine had been given permission to use it for that evening. She put the rose onto the table and sat on a chair, thinking about the performance. After a moment she looked up. "Master? Are you there?"
For a moment there was no reply. And then a voice said, "I am here."
"Did you hear? Were you listening?"
"I was listening."
"Did I please you, Master?" Christine asked, anxiously.
Laugher echoed as he replied, "You pleased me greatly, Christine."
Christine relaxed, smiling. "I am glad."
There was a knock at the door. Christine looked up sharply and then answered it. The Viscount stood in the doorway. He bowed and held out a bouquet of beautiful flowers. Christine stood back to let him in, taking the flowers. She smiled.
"Thank you, sir. They are lovely."
"Only as lovely as she who holds them. You were spectacular, Miss Daae." Christine smiled again, placing the flowers on the table, next to the rose. The Viscount watched her every move carefully, his startlingly blue eyes fixed on her face.
"Thank you, Viscount."
"It is an honor to support the Opera Populaire, especially when it can boast a singer like yourself. I trust you will be singing again?"
"I do not know, sir. It all depends on Carlotta. If she returns, it is doubtless she will reclaim her position," Christine said carefully. The Viscount stepped forward and took her hand. Christine let him step closer, feeling rather uncomfortable. He raised her hand to his lips, his eyes meeting hers the entire time. Christine swallowed. The Viscount kissed her hand but did not let go.
He said, "Miss Daae, I would be honored if you would join me for supper tonight."
Christine tore her eyes away from his and then shook her head. "I am sorry, Sir. But my tutor is very strict."
"I would not keep you long," he replied.
"I am very sorry."
"Perhaps another time?" he asked.
Christine nodded. "Another time."
There was another knock at the door.
"Viscount? There is a gentleman who wishes to speak to you," said a voice.
The Viscount glanced at Christine, "I shall return in a moment."
The door closed behind him. Christine stared at it for a moment and then turned away. A thought struck her and she looked up. "Master?"
There was no reply. Christine felt fear rise in her.
"Master, please? Please, are you here?"
"Ignorant fool! Slave of fashion!" came a snarl. Christine looked around.
"Master, I am sorry."
"Not you, dear angel."
Christine gave a sigh of relief. "You will not leave me, angel?"
"Never, Christine. Never. Go to the mirror. I am always there."
Christine hesitated and then turned to look at the mirror. At first she saw only herself. And then a white mask came into view. She stepped back in surprise as the mirror slid back, revealing the figure of a man, wrapped in a black cloak, a white mask covering the right side of his face. Christine could not move. Her eyes met his. They were a stunning shade of blue-green. His dark hair was slicked back and the half of his face that she could see was beautiful. He didn't say anything but held his gloved hand out to her. She did not hesitate but placed her own hand on his.
A few minutes later the Viscount returned. He opened the door and frowned.
The journey was a confused muddle to Christine. She could hear beautiful music and was aware that she was traveling down but all her senses were being captured by this man. Or was he a man? He seemed more than that. Ethereal.
The boat they were riding in came to a stop. Christine shook herself and found that they had reached their destination, an underground room, lit by thousands of candles. An ancient organ was at the centre of it all. The room was decorated with thick red velvet drapes, an array of curious objects, and piles of paper, some half scrawled with musical pieces.
The man stepped off the boat and lightly onto shore. Christine watched, unsure of what to do. He removed his cloak and laid it on a surface. He removed a sword and a knife and placed them with the cloak. Christine got to her feet and stepped onto the shore. The man did not stop what he was doing, lighting more candles. Christine looked around, her eyes settling on a desk. There was an envelope, sealed with a red wax skull. She looked up at him. He was still lighting candles.
"You are the Phantom of the Opera?"
"Why do you ask if you already know?"
"I… I just wanted to make sure."
He put down the taper and turned to watch her. She moved slowly, as if in a trance. Her hands ran over the surfaces, caressed the drapes, as if making sure that they were real and that she wasn't just dreaming.
"Master?" she asked, without looking at him.
"I don't understand."
"What don't you understand?"
"Many things," she whispered.
Christine turned to him then, meetings his eyes across the room.
"Why did you choose me? There are many people in the opera house. And yet you chose me."
"I chose you because you alone can make my songs take flight."
He gestured towards the organ. "This is my home. It is where I create music and where I make my plans."
"Why am I here?" Christine asked.
"Because I need you here, with me. I need you to sing for me. Just for me. Not that fool of a Viscount." His tone turned bitter.
Christine frowned slightly, "I refused him, Master."
"I know you did. I was watching." He sat at the organ. Christine stepped towards him and watched as he played. His eyes were on the music in front of him. She looked at the white mask. What was beneath it, she wondered. She reached out and traced it with the tip of her finger. He stopped playing and looked up at her. She was tempted to remove the mask but he reached up and took her hand with his. He had removed his gloves and his hands were cold. Christine placed her other hand on top to try and warm him.
He moved over and she sat beside him at the organ. He played without speaking. After a moment Christine asked, "Master? Did you drop the screen on Carlotta?"
"Yes. She had too long polluted the air with her voice. It was time that someone with real talent took her place," he said, looking at her.
"I thank you for the chance to sing, but you should not have dropped the screen. You could have killed her," Christine said. He stopped playing and looked at her. She felt embarrassed and could not meet his eyes.
He got to his feet and paced the ground. He did not look at her. Eventually he said, "Sing for me."
"Whatever you wish."
So she got to her feet and sang. She closed her eyes and sang to the best of her ability. The song consumed her, and all the time she sang harder, trying to improve every note. And yet she was aware of him. He stood behind her and as she sang, he put a hand on her front, coaxing her to sing higher whilst his other hand rested on her cheek. His body was pressed against hers and that feeling made her want to sing perfectly. Eventually she could not sing anymore. She let the note go but did not open her eyes. She could feel his breath, warm on her neck. His hands were both on her waist.
"Christine…" he murmured her name. She turned slowly, looking up at him. She felt breathless and weak.
"What… is your name, angel?" she inquired under her breath. His eyes searched her face before replying.
"My name is Erik."
"Erik…" she murmured.
For several moments neither of them moved and then Christine jerked back suddenly. Erik's hands fell to his sides and he stared at her. Christine blinked and shook her head, clearing the mist that had surrounded her brain.
"I… I should go back." she said hesitantly. He looked at her with a strange expression on his face and then turned away.
"I will take you back."
The journey back was done in silence. Only the sound of the water lapping at the sides of the boat was heard. They walked along the corridor to the mirror and looked through into the room. It was empty. Erik slid back the mirror and Christine entered the room. She turned but found the mirror had slid back into place and that Erik was gone. She stared at her reflection and then sank to her knees, feeling numb. Half an hour later, that was where Madame Giry found her, and put her to bed.
A week passed. It was not a happy period of time for Christine. Carlotta returned to the Opera house and had turned extremely hostile towards her. But Christine could handle that.
What she was more distressed about was the fact that in all the time there was no sign of Erik. He did not speak to her, no letters arrived, and as Carlotta had reclaimed her room, she had no way of getting to the mirror to look for him.
"Miss Daae?" Christine looked up from her seat on the steps leading to the rafters above the stage. She had been pretending to study the score but her mind was wandering constantly to Erik. The Viscount de Martinez was standing nearby. She got to her feet.
"It is a pleasure to see you again." He kissed her hand, bowing. Christine nodded.
"And you, Viscount."
"I find you well, I hope?"
"Yes sir. Yourself?"
"Better for your company. Are you in the new play?" he asked, looking at the score. Christine nodded.
"Only a small role. But I am glad to take part in the play."
"Indeed." He didn't seem particularly interested. Christine tucked her hair behind her ear, but he didn't say anything further. He seemed to be considering her.
"Are you busy at this moment?" he asked. Christine shook her head.
"I am only reading the score. We had rehearsal this morning."
"Would you accompany me for a light lunch?"
Christine searched frantically for an excuse but realized he had outmaneuvered her into admitting she had nothing to do. So she nodded, albeit somewhat reluctantly.
He took her to a quiet restaurant near the opera house. They ordered chicken, bread and cheese, and drank a light wine. Christine found she did not have to do much as he talked most of the time. Soon silence came between them. He looked across the table at her.
"Tell me, Miss Daae, where you learnt to sing so beautifully?"
"I have a tutor. I'm afraid I don't know much about him, but he has taught me for many years."
"So long, and yet you don't know him?" The Viscount frowned. This was dangerous ground. Christine swallowed.
"His name is Monsieur Erik. I do not know where he comes from, or his past, other than he is a musician."
"Hmm. Well, he is clearly a great tutor if he trained you."
They rose and started the short walk to the opera house. The Viscount looked down at her. "Miss Daae. My Christian name is William. I would very much like it if you would refer to me as that from now on."
"Sir, I could not. It would not be proper." Christine replied. William touched her cheek.
"Then only when we are alone. Good day, Christine."
He walked away. Christine shivered, although the day was warm, and entered the opera house. The hall was empty and she walked along the narrow corridors that led to her dormitory room. And then she paused. She was positive she had heard something, as if someone in a cape had shifted slightly, rustling almost inaudibly.
"Master?" she said quietly. There was no reply. She took a step back in the direction she had come from.
"Erik? Is that you?" She asked. No one spoke.
Meg rounded a corner and saw Christine looking into the darkness of the corridor behind her. She stopped to watch her friend.
"Erik, are you there? Why will you not speak to me?" She seemed almost in tears.
Meg frowned and was about to speak when a male voice said quietly, "I am here."
Christine turned, looking for the source of the voice and finding none. She stood still and said, "Why are hiding from me? Please, don't hide in shadows."
"I cannot stay for long. I will meet you for your singing lesson as usual," said the voice. Christine nodded.
"I will be there, master."
There was no reply. Christine moved down the corridor towards Meg. Meg stepped out as if she had only just arrived.
"Christine! Where have you been?" Meg asked, greeting her friend as naturally as she could manage.
Christine looked uncomfortable. "I was having lunch with the Viscount de Martinez."
"He found me reading my score and asked me to lunch. I accepted, through politeness, of course," Christine explained. She was not, however, about to talk about the Viscount's invitation to call him by his first name.
They walked to the dance room, where Madame Giry was playing the piano.
"You may practice," she told the girls without looking up. They changed into their dance clothes and began to stretch.
"Where did you go with the Viscount?" Meg asked. Madame Giry looked up sharply, listening but not faltering with her playing. Christine stretched her legs.
"It was only a small restaurant, a few streets away."
"What did you talk about?"
"He did most of the talking. It was mainly about the opera house and his interest in the arts," Christine replied. Meg lowered herself to the ground, doing the splits. She glanced up at her friend.
"Are you going to accompany him to a meal again?"
"I have no idea, Meg. I only went today because it would be rude to refuse," Christine replied.
Meg considered this answer and then said, "Do you think he will come to the performance next week?"
"Meg, I don't know. I don't know anything," Christine said, tired of her friend's ceaseless questioning. Meg gave her an apologetic look and then they looked over at Madame Giry for their cue to dance.
Christine arrived at the stage at 9:50. She paced the stage, humming idly. Her mind was on what she would say to Erik. For one, she wanted an explanation for his silence.
"Your scales, Christine," said Erik. She looked up and saw him standing on the opposite side of the stage.
"But I wanted to talk to you. Why haven't you been talking to me? I am sorry for what happened but there was no reason to ignore me."
Christine stared at him and then sang obligingly. He did not move but listened. Christine hesitated and then crossed the stage. He did not move but as she came close enough to reach out and touch him he said, "Where were you this afternoon?"
"You were with the Viscount, weren't you?" Christine looked confused.
"Well… yes, I was. Why does it matter?"
"It matters because he will interfere with your singing! I have not worked this hard to have it all ruined by some ignorant fool," Erik spat.
Christine looked at him, surprised and indignant.
"Don't be ridiculous, Erik. He won't interfere. And what do you mean you've worked this hard? I have worked just as hard as you!"
"Be quiet!" Erik shouted. Christine glared at him.
"I will not be quiet! You're being so stupid."
She gasped as his hand shot out and seized her wrist. His hand was cold and tightened. She flinched in pain.
"You will not see him again, do you understand?" Erik hissed. Christine glared at him and threw out her other hand, pushing him away. He released her wrist and she held it to her, the pain throbbing.
"I do not need to put up with this. You are the one who ignored me for days and now you are making demands of me, telling me how to live? I do not belong to you, Erik. I have done all that you have asked of me but I do not deserve this treatment."
Christine turned and walked out of the room, leaving Erik behind her. However, as she walked she heard his footsteps behind her. She began to run, reaching her room and slamming the door shut. She sat with her back against the door and buried her face in her hands. Her wrist throbbed painfully and she massaged it tenderly. She would have a bruise in the morning.
She tensed as she felt pressure against the door.
"Leave me alone, Erik!" she hissed.
"I will not. You asked that I always be there and I always will be. Now let me in."
But he had forced the door open and had pushed his foot into the gap. Christine looked up as his face came around the door. She was forced forward and got to her feet. Erik swung open the door and then closed it behind him. Christine backed away from him. He did not speak but watched her for a moment. He stepped towards her. She stepped back and found herself pressed against the wall. He still moved forward until he was directly in front of her. Then he slammed his hand onto the wall, making her jump. He had now pinned her against the wall. His turquoise eyes glared into her brown ones.
"How does it feel, Christine? How does it feel to be trapped?"
She didn't reply. She was trying to look defiant but knew that he could sense her fear. He removed one hand from the wall and caressed her face with it. She couldn't help flinching although he hadn't hurt her.
"I will give you everything I have Christine. But in return you must do what I ask. Do not go with the Viscount again. That is all I ask of you," he told her quietly. She looked up, meeting his eyes. They bore no anger now.
She whispered, "I did not go with him today because I wished to. All the while I was thinking what you would think. Remember that, Erik."
He stared at her for a moment and then left the room with a swish of his cape. Christine sank to the floor, resting her head on her arms. After a while she climbed into bed but it was a long time before she slept.