Let The Dream Descend…

A/N: Hello everyone! I'm glad you're taking the time out to read my story! I've been experimenting with this idea for a while, and I finally decided to start writing… Hopefully it won't be abandoned (as many of my fanfics often are, unfortunately) I promise I will stick with it till the end and I'll TRY to update at least once a week! 

By the way, Phantom of the Opera and all related characters belong to Gaston Leroux, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Susan Kay. (Except Erik…he's mine, of course…:sigh: I wish)

Chapter One

Amandine Laroque stood before the massive stone building, gawking at its imposing height. The edges of the stone had already begun to crumble; the corners appeared like long, serrated knives ready to strike at those who dared pass by. Moving slowly, the moon had begun to peek her pale face from behind a veil of clouds. Her gentle light played off the dusty windows so that they glowed like many pairs of accusing eyes, staring coldly at the street below.

Though newly restored, the Opera Populaire still held the air of mystery and dread that Amandine remembered so well. Visions of the flickering flames and smashing glass passed before her eyes as her ears were drowned with the sounds of screams. She shook her head, trying to forget, but it was useless. For almost a year, Amandine had tried to forget that night, but its memory had engraved itself within her mind, a constant reminder of the horrors this building once held…

XXXXXX

"Amandine! Darling, you'd better hurry or we'll be late!"

"Just a moment, father!" Amandine replied, staring critically at her reflection. Her copper colored hair was pinned in an elegant bun at the base of her slender neck. A few stray curls had fallen out, but she left them-she knew her hair never liked to cooperate. Amandine's eyes traveled farther down as she gazed at the rest of her outfit. She wore a satin, rose-colored gown with a plunging neckline, which showed off her well developed chest. Her long arms were covered with delicate sleeves which tapered off to perfectly fit her slender wrists. Her lips were stained with a hint of red rouge and her almond-shaped green eyes were set off with a hint of lavender shadow.

Though she had many male admirers, Amandine could not see what attracted them. She was far too tall - almost 5'9" and she felt her forehead was far too large for the rest of her face. The rest of her body was even worse, in her opinion. Though men found her curves to be appealing, she felt fat and bloated. At the age of 19, it was no longer an excuse to say that her body would sort itself out eventually; she was resigned to the fact that she would never look any better.

With a sigh, she set off down the stairs to meet her parents. They were waiting for her at the bottom, smiling as she approached. Her mother, though short in stature, was far lovelier than herself. Jacqueline Laroque's hair matched her daughter's, but besides that, they looked nothing alike. Her features were soft and feminine and she never failed to keep up a youthful appearance. Amandine's father Philippe, on the other hand, was almost her exact likeness. They shared the same piercing green eyes and his features held a handsome hardness which practically mirrored his daughter's.

"Ah, there she is!" Her mother reached out for her arm as they approached the front door. "You look lovely, dear." Her father whispered as they headed down the long walkway. Amandine could only nod politely as she lifted her skirts and entered the carriage. "We know how much you love the Opera, dear, so we knew you'd enjoy this. It's rumored that this is the first time this particular opera will ever be performed onstage!" Her mother was raving and getting excited again, a trait they both shared. Amandine smiled as her father turned to her as well. "Who knows, maybe the next time it is performed, you will be the beautiful star." He squeezed her hand gently.

That was the reason her parents had decided to take her out that evening. After three years of harsh training, Amandine had finally graduated from a prestigious musical arts school for women. Her parents had convinced her to audition for a place at the Opera Populaire, and, after much consideration, she had agreed to do it. Her audition was to be held in a month's time.

Her lips formed a soft smile at her father's comment. It was flattering to know how much her parents believed in her, but neither of them knew the truth. Yes, Amandine loved to sing, but only as a hobby. It had been her mother who had convinced her to enter the singing program; she had not made the choice herself. Amandine's true passion was writing. Since the age of 12, she had written short stories ranging from romances to adventures; the genre did not matter, as long as inspiration struck. She knew, however, that women authors were frowned upon in Parisian society. A secret wish ached in her heart. Oh, how she longed to be the author of an amazing novel! For years, that had been her dream, and for years she had secretly pursued it. Her parents would never approve, of course, but that never shattered her dreams. She was waiting for the day when she would reach an epiphany and hoped that she would find the perfect opera to be her muse.

Perhaps this "Don Juan Triumphant" would be the one…

As the orchestra struck the first chords, Amandine could feel the tension within the audience and hear the soft groans of annoyance. Even her parents were shaking their heads at the sounds produced. Amandine, however, felt a passion as she never had before. This music, though admittedly ahead of its time, held such raw emotion and feeling within each note that her heart almost ached with the composer's secret pain. She checked her tasseled program for the composer's name only to find two letters: O.G. "Obviously a pseudonym", she thought.

When the leading soprano stepped onto the stage to begin singing, Amandine was entranced. A secret jealously welled up inside her. If only she could sing with a fraction of the talent this woman possessed! It was as if God himself had sent one of his angels to earth. The lead tenor had been doing a mediocre job so far, but the soprano's purity and pure talent were more than enough to make up for it. Amandine's senses were clouded over with passion as she watched the story unfold upon the stage.

Within a few minutes, however, Amandine sensed a change. When "Don Juan" re-entered the stage to seduce the lovely Amnita, the man's entire physique was different. No longer short and rather round, he was now tall and lean, yet slightly muscular. His movements as he slowly swished his cape were graceful and poised. His face was obscured with a black mask, so she couldn't be certain, but Amandine could have sworn that this was not the same man.

As the beginning lines of "The Point of No Return" escaped his lips, Amandine knew- She had certainly died and gone to heaven. The voice which resonated through the silent theater was so ethereal and bewitching that Amandine was sure she was under a spell of some sort. If the soprano was an angel, then this was certainly God himself who had walked onto the stage. As the song reached its final crescendo, Amandine could feel a layer of perspiration form itself on her flesh. The pure passion, the fire of this song was the most amazing thing she had ever heard.

But wait- the orchestra had stopped playing, yet that other-worldly voice continued to sing…certainly this was not part of the story. It was then that realization struck- this was no longer part of the opera, but she was now witnessing a real life confession of love and devotion. Tears formed slow trails down Amandine's ivory cheeks. Certainly the woman on stage would be just as touched by these beautiful words as she.

But all at once, the dream was shattered and Amandine was left in the middle of a nightmare. When the mask was removed, Amandine found herself staring that the most horrifying sight she ever remembered laying eyes on. One side of the man's face was hideous and malformed. The sickly yellow skin was pulled over a mass of horribly twisted flesh. Small blue veins could be seen beneath the translucent layer of skin, pumping oxygen through this monster's body.

Caught up in the horror of the moment, Amandine failed to notice the twinkling of crystal above her. "RUN!" a man behind her shouted. Looking up, she saw the massive crystal chandelier rocking dangerously from its tether. Without looking back, Amandine ran towards the exit as an ungodly smash echoed behind her.

From the street outside, in the protecting embrace of her parents, Amandine watched in horror as the beautiful Opera Populaire was ravaged by flames. Tears once again coursed down her soft cheeks as she thought of the people who had certainly perished in the flames. What on earth had happened? Who was that beautiful, yet terrifying man and why had he done this?

XXXXXX

That was what Amandine was there to find out. Not long after, rumors had begun circulating about the Viscount de Chagny and his fiancé and their strange connection with the supposed "Opera Ghost". Supposedly it had been this man who had written the opera, killed the tenor, taken his place, dropped the chandelier, and abducted the lovely Christine Daae. Certainly exaggerated stories, but Amandine was prepared to find out the truth.

As it turned out, the Opera Populaire had decided to open its doors once more. Because so many of its former employees had chosen to quit, there were even more job slots open. Amandine had passed her audition a month ago and had obtained a role in the chorus. She was not the Prima Donna her parents had been hoping for, but now she had a perfect opportunity to get to know everyone… and learn as much information about the infamous "Phantom of the Opera" as she could.

Amandine had finally found her muse…and he lived in the catacombs beneath the Opera Populaire.

A/N: Sorry that was so long… I got a bit carried away in my descriptions! LoL I tend to do that a lot, as you'll soon see, I'm sure! It's a bit of a slow beginning, but I assure you that it will only get better with time! I'm anxious to get some feedback, so please R&R!

-Amanda (Yes, I couldn't resist and used the French version of my name for the main character! Hehehe)