Author's Warning:

The author of this piece has been advised that there ought to be a warning so that the unwary might not find themselves unduly confused at its absurdity.

This is not the story of a phantom (although he does play a considerable part in it). This is instead the story of how a seemingly normal young vicomte ended up beneath an opera, and what misfortunes -and occasional good luck- befell him. It has always been the opinion of the author that The Phantom of the Opera is the epitome of a tragedy; and, that perhaps by switching the protagonist and the antagonist, one might switch the genre of the entire tale from tragedy to its opposite. The reader here will encounter the story of the phantom as it was not meant to be told: in a strangely comical and comically strange fashion. You have been warned. Other than that, sit back and relax- the managers and the author hope that you will enjoy the performance.

"Let the audience grin, let my fopera begin."

And with that, may I present:

Le Vicomte de la Fopera

Chapitre Un:

In which a certain ghost masquerades, and an uncertain vicomte makes a startling discovery.

It was a typical day at a typical Parisian Opera, and, like all typical Parisian weather, it was raining.

The vicomte de Chagny did not like water. He did not know why, but he always seemed to be around it and that made him even more adverse to it.

He knew he was in the Royal Navy.

He recalled rescuing a scarf from the sea.

He was also aware that he was standing in the rain.

Yet, that did still not change the fact that he disliked it very much. Raoul de Chagny liked to think that he did all of the above for a reason, and these reasons were, in short:

a) Joining the Navy to preserve family tradition, at the urging of Phillipe, Comte de Chagny.

b) Saving the scarf for the woman he'd grown to love.

c) Standing in the rain because no shelter was readily available.

With a sigh, the vicomte tried to remember how on earth he'd gotten out of doors, and why it was so essential to be soaked on a night like this. Earlier that day, he had been called to a family meeting (namely with Phillipe). It had not yet begun to pour, although the sky looked like it was fretting over the impending decision of whether to rain or not.

Phillipe had a habit of planning out activities for his younger brother whenever he came back to Paris from his time in the Royal Navy. It was for this purpose that Raoul suspected he had been summoned, and he turned out to be quite correct.

Let it be understood that Phillipe de Chagny had his brother's best interests at heart. He knew that Raoul spent varied amounts of time in Paris and he wished to make him happy during the small reprieves that he was granted from the Royal Navy. That had been the logic behind their journey to the Opera last night. However, though the comte had at first supported his brother's interest in a certain opera soprano, he began to grow wary at the prospect of a chorus girl potentially becoming the Vicomtess (and, good Lord, perhaps Comtess!) of Chagny. After the death of their father, he had come to see it as his responsibility that one of Paris' most ancient and noble families remained as such.

….

And the Comte de Chagny had another plan just for that purpose.

As stated before, it was raining. It had, in fact been raining for the bulk of the week, and showed no sign of stopping. Not that it mattered much when you lived five cellars underground.

Except for the occasional leak and the general dilemma of rising water level of the lake.

A masked figure glared at the lake. The lake placidly ignored this, which made him glare even more. Eventually, with a shrug of his shoulder and a swish of his cape, he dissolved back into the darkness of his lair…

…emerging right behind his visitor, who had been trying to remain unnoticed.

"Daroga."

This made the Persian twitch slightly, but for the most part, he held his composure.

"I see you've come early." The ghost gestured further down the passage, "We might as well continue together, as you are very probably heading towards my house." He sighed. "By now I thought that you would have learnt that your stealthy tricks were best saved for the corps de ballet."

"I shall choose to disregard that comment in light of the great service that I am about to perform for you, Erik." He responded coolly, and they soon found themselves emerging from a trapdoor in the middle of Erik's living room. The aforementioned door shut soundlessly, and melded perfectly back into the floor.

The spectre appeared intrigued at his visitor's news and occupied a high-backed seat opposite the Persian, who chose a fluffier chair. "So, tell me: what is this 'new development' or yours? I don't suppose you've found a way to plug these damnable leaks?"

"Surely the leaks don't pose that much of a problem for you- the celebrated architect!" came the amused reply.

This was met with a scowl and a chill breeze fluttered through the house on the lake, as the candles threatened to go out. "It is rather difficult," he said in a low voice, "as they no doubt come from a storm drain on the Rue Scribe. I cannot comprehend how any fool could be so careless as to dig the drains as such, but it cannot be helped without rerouting the entire thing."

Erik's attention was momentarily distracted by the leaks behind him, and the Persian took this opportunity to stifle a small smirk. If his information was correct, then that was not the true reason why his acquaintance had been so lax in the upkeep of his home. Naturally, less important home repairs were often delayed while Erik composed, yet the Persian could never recall coming so close to the house on the lake without first being noticed by Erik. No, there was definitely something else…

His musings must have been evident on his face, as the opera ghost had been watching him intently, waiting for his attention to return.

"Are you ready to explain yourself, then, daroga?" Now he sounded impatient. The Persian knew Erik better than to risk the anger of an impatient ghost.

"I thought that you might like to know that your opera house is in peril," replied the Persian jovially, as he waited for Erik's reply.

"I hope you are jesting, daroga. For your own sake."

"Why ever should I be?"

"You might just be doing this for dramatic effect. I have seen too many operas not to be able to see it coming," he crossed his legs and leaned back in his chair, "You no doubt have designs to stop me from working on my masterpiece, though the blasted leaks have already taken care of that."

The Persian smiled. "No, actually. I just wanted to let you know that 'your Opera is in peril', that you are the only one who can save it, and that you ought to believe me because I have proof."

"Do you expect me to believe that?"

"What, that I have proof or that your Opera's in-"

"Peril. Yes. I heard. I meant the former."

With a flick of his wrist, the Persian pulled a sheaf of papers from some unknown compartment in his clothing, and set it down. The aforementioned proof hit Erik's coffee table with a satisfactory 'plop'.

"There it is." He cocked an eyebrow at the ghost, who was now sifting through the paperwork. "Really, Erik, 'dramatic intent'? Few matters in life turn out as they do in the operas, my friend."

By the time when this sentence was said, Erik was no longer listening to the Persian but rather shuffling papers hurriedly- mainly newspaper clippings- and wondering how whatever it was had escaped his notice.

Realizing what was going on, the Persian said:

"You don't read the papers much these days."

Erik jerked his head up from his inspection of the documents.

"Would you expect me to waste my attention on them? I have had more pressing matters at hand," he sighed and continued, "Closing my Opera! How dare they? And for what purpose, may I ask?"

Erik had, by this time, started to pace across his lair. Knowing that his response was not going to be well-received, the Persian continued tentatively.

"You're not going to like this, but the management's going to two utterly incompetent people."

Erik's head shot up.

"And it that it? I've dealt with irksome managers before, as you are no doubt well aware."

The Persian did not like the sound of that. Yet, Erik was not finished:

"Is that it?" his voice was taking on a fearsome quality, "You come into my lair uninvited, you deliver your 'the Opera's in peril' speech, and then this! I'm beginning to think that all you wanted was to see my reaction. Though the Opera's management may change, the Opera itself will not close. You…"

With his last sentence hanging unfinished, Erik took on a more relaxed stance and the tenseness that had clouded his features ebbed away. His air became that of someone confident once more with his abilities, as he finished:

"…You are overreacting."

The Persian winced and prepared to tell him the rest of the story.

"Er, Erik?"

"What? I have some business to see to soon." Was the curt reply.

For a moment, the Persian wondered what Erik had meant by 'business'. The phantom surely was not expecting any more visitors, and it was quite uncommon for him to mingle with people outside his Opera. Realizing how long he had paused, he hastily continued reporting.

"I have been led to believe that the new managers are part of a greater design to showcase the less satisfactory aspects of the Opera. Rumor has it that the Third Republic needs an extra source of revenue. If they can convince the public that the Opera is no longer needed, then they might consider renting the house out as an embassy or perhaps using it as a stronghold in light of the recent Prussian siege." he said the last bit proudly, thinking of all the history he'd just expounded.

Erik did not seem impressed though, or so the Persian thought, as the phantom had not looked up. Finally, he gave a reply.

"The citizens wouldn't allow it. Even the lowest denizens of the street profit from the Opera, and any respectable patron would not let the Opera close. It will be supported no matter the class."

The Persian ran a head through his hair, sighing exasperatedly. The carefree, happy approach had not worked, neither had the grave, ominous method. There was but one option left, and he had no choice other than to play it to his advantage. Putting on his best dramatic voice, he asked:

"But Erik, what about the girl?"

It had the desired effect. The ghost started at his remark, then quickly tried to resume his unmoved demeanor.

"What girl do you mean? There are many girls at the Opera, daroga."

"The only one you seem to have taken an interest in- Daeé…no, Daaé, perhaps?"

This provoked another start from him, and the Persian noticed that Erik's normally pallid face was whitening beyond its typical hue.

"How do you know about-"

The Persian shrugged.

"I know everything. That's why they made me daroga. I thought you'd have figured that out by now."

A rather ghostly silence hung in the air.

"Now, should the Opera close," continued the Persian, as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened, "consider for a moment what would become of the corps de ballet. These girls dance; they might find another company, they might not. What happens to them if they do not? Where then do they go? Furthermore, where would a young, orphaned girl go?" He glanced at Erik to see if his words were taking effect. The phantom in question was gripping the back of his chair tightly. "You know, don't you? Surely you do not want that sort of thing to occur to someone like her?"

Nadir took a moment to bask in the glory of his technique. It truly had not been for nothing that he had been hand-picked by the shah as daroga. Though, after all these years, he was a bit surprised himself that he still had it in him to pull the strings of emotion in such a man as Erik. The ghost currently had his back to him though, depriving the daroga of any sight of his countenance. Oh well.

The phantom then murmured something barely audible.

"Sorry?" The Persian prompted.

"Very well," Erik began, trying to regain nonchalance, but not quite mastering the waver in his voice, "Let us suppose that you are correct. What can be done?"

Nadir hesitated. The opera ghost noted this:

"Or are you afraid that I won't like this answer either?"

Another delay.

"Come, man, out with it!"

A small smile played across the Persian's face. He had the ghost right where he wanted him. It would be best to do this dramatically and thus impress its importance upon Erik.

"Are you willing to do all that is required, then? This is not going to be an easily process- protecting an Opera , you know." A nod. "You'll do all I ask- even if it involves doing something you don't like?"

Erik's hand flew protectively to his mask.

"No, not that. You'll need that for the masquerade I have in mind."

Narrowing his eyes, Erik speculated. The Persian undeniably meant to do something crazy, something outrageous, and something probably very messy at the end. Although a certain daroga did not think so, the phantom knew the Persian well enough to be able to detect a dangerous plan forming when he saw one. And yet:

"Just what sort of masquerade do you have in mind?"

"London! Just what do you mean by London?"

Raoul was only the slightest bit shocked at Phillipe's proposal.

"I understand that you no doubt wanted to be back in Paris longer, but as the future Comte, you do need to go out and see the world sometime," replied the current comte.

"But I'm in the Royal Navy! I see other countries daily! Why may I not stay in Paris longer than a week? I was only starting to settle in."

Giving his younger brother a pained smile, Phillipe tried to explain. "I…believe that this is a necessary part of growing up. You need to be out of the mansion, exploring the world- not just from the shore! All noblemen- all young men, for that matter- must become independent and cease to rely on their older brothers. It's time for you to go out into the world, perhaps marry. I hear there's-" And here Phillipe's motivating speech was cut off by the vicomte.

"I've already found someone, though! I don't want to leave her after only one night of knowing her!"

This was already starting to become more than the comte wanted to hear. He quickly decided to change the subject.

"All the better. I'm sure that London will prove enjoyable to you," said Phillipe, and then, remembering his brother's interest, "I am quite sure that the English have operas, too."

"That's not my point!" Raoul sat down on one of the poufs on the divan and pouted.

Making an honest attempt to be accommodating, Phillipe sat down next to him and gave Raoul a reassuring pat on the back.

"Now, now. What are you upset about?"

Raoul turned away from his brother and hunched his shoulders in the opposite direction.

"I don't know a word of English."

At this point in the conversation, a large drop made its graceful descent down a stalactite, left the higher reaches of the ceiling, and became airborne. It enjoyed its short flight and then splashed a man in a dark cape right on the forehead. This was not received well. The Persian chose this moment to breach the unfortunate matter to Erik:

"You'll have to leave the Opera."

Had Erik been drinking the cup of tea that he held in his hand, there was no telling what could have happened. Luckily, the Persian had timed his remark perfectly so that the tea remained in its cup and the phantom did not choke.

"Excuse me, daroga?"

"As your Opera is in peril," Erik rolled his eyes and the Persian continued, "You will need to leave the Opera to save it. Does that not strike an odd balance? You can't very well attempt to meddle in the affairs of men when you're living in an underworld five stories below them. It just isn't done."

Nonetheless, Erik was still unwilling.

"How often do you think I allow myself the pleasure of going out of the Opera? Not on every occasion, I assure you. I tend to restrict that to necessity."

"Perhaps you could broaden your rules, for this one time? For Mlle. Daaé's sake?" The Persian realized that twisting the ghost's emotions was beginning to become a habit with him as of late.

"I wish you would stop that. I told you that I am willing to save my Opera, and that I meant by any means necessary. If this is the only way you see, then so be it. I just have a slight…aversion to being gone so long." The last sentence took a considerable effort on Erik's part to get through, and by its termination, he could no longer meet the Persian's eyes.

Deciding not to press the matter further, and having attained all the assurance he needed, the Persian announced the next stage of his daring plan:

"Very well. You are going to be a lord, monsieur le duc."

Erik smiled in a sinister way.

"Why, daroga, I already am."

The Persian continued, trying to ignore Erik's widening grin.

"Either a lord or a count: the choice is yours."

Like the evanescent trail of a traveling torch's flame, the smile was gone. Sensing some unknown cause, the Persian stopped a moment to make note of Erik's countenance for future reference.

"A lord, then," the Persian began once more, seeing that his words had the intended effect: the ghost's face had lost its preoccupied look and had returned to focusing on the matter at hand. He resumed, "You shall take the name of a lord, acquire a house in the centre of town, and live as any normal Parisian nobleman. Then, you shall become patron to the Opera, and perhaps tinker with the management that it might become a success. Though," he added with a smile, "I am very sure that you have done that before."

Erik threw up his hands in an oh-I-don't-know-perhaps-I-might-have gesture.

"Good. You'll need to continue that, only from the outside. I would wager that you'll want your own house, so I shall inspect some proper-"

Something bothered the phantom.

"No," The Persian said firmly. He would not have all of his hard work and research upset due to Erik's reluctance to leave. "I suppose you could stay here, send your little notes; yes, it could be done. A rich gentleman appears out of nowhere, taking care not to show himself, deposits a large amount of money, and disappears back into the mists of anonymity. Very creditable. I am sure that the government will suspect nothing of possible smuggling or blackmailing," here his voice grew cold, "Or of any other illegalities used to procure such a sum, and that the Opera will be allowed to keep it without question. Come now, Erik, you must be reasonable. People are going to ask questions about you and the easiest way to dispel them is to act as convincingly as possible."

Erik sulked in the shadows unseen.

"Or would you rather that she…?" The Persian insinuated knowingly.

"No, I would not. Daroga…" The phantom's eyes looked almost - torn? No, thought the Persian, it must be the mask playing tricks on me. Yet, the tone with which Erik finished his thought seemed to hint at something else: something oddly reminiscent of a worried child being asked to do a task he knew not, wordlessly pleading that the burden not fall onto him. Though the Persian remained ill at ease around Erik in general, he could not help feeling a pang of pity as the ghost spoke once more. His façade had broken, and he was once more a creature beyond hope. The words came slowly, as though he was ashamed to say them.

"Where would I go?"

Picking up his coat and hat, the Persian started back towards the boat and tried to shake off that troublesome influence Erik wielded over him. He looked back over his shoulder at the man he was leaving.

"That is entirely up to you. You are as free to relocate as any one else. Be aware that you must make the move quickly, as the new managers have arrived only last night. The wheels are already in motion, my friend, and the matter awaits your decision. Though, I would not like to see the new managers long bereft of a patron."

He stopped.

"Do you mind if I take the boat this time? The idea of walking so far back to the street does not bode well with me."

Regaining dominance, Erik gave the Persian a quizzical smile.

"Oh, I don't mind. The siren might, then."

The Persian's back arched. He was talking about the siren again- surely that was a not a good sign…The siren did not exist. It could not exist. Nevertheless, not wanting to test Fate, he decided to play along with Erik's game.

"You don't say? I was under the impression that you had gotten rid of that thing ages ago!"

The phantom's gaze turned to the lake in both exasperation and thoughtfulness.

"Where else could I put it? Very few people keep sirens these days, after all."

"And for good reason!" Exclaimed a very worried Persian. "They're dangerous! They kill people!"

"And they sing beautifully. The siren, hm," the ghost paused, "that might save me a great deal of trouble soon. I shall need to instruct it-"

We are never to know what Erik wanted the siren to do, as it was at this point in the proceedings that the Persian become aware of the eerie shadow reaching closer to the water by the boat. He stepped back with a jolt.

"I-I," he stuttered. With a calming breath, he regained a steady voice, "I would recommend leaving immediately. Pack what you need today and tonight at the hour of eight, I shall return to assist you and provide you with further details."

"So, we depart under the cover of darkness," mused the phantom, "Although I am at a loss as to where I go afterwards…" Here he left the sentence unfinished, expecting a response.

"Find a house. You will need to buy one; renting a house is out of the question for a lord, monsieur le duc." A hesitating second. " Now, will you call it off? I want to make the journey back to my home." He gestured to the shadow that should not have been there, but was anyway.

The ghost looked at the siren with a faraway look to his eyes.

The siren loomed ominously.

The Persian twitched.

"I think a shall find a property on the Rue Scribe. I am not planning to abandon my duties on this little vacation you have for me. One must do something for 20,000 francs." Erik said finally.

Pointing at the dark shape a few yards out into the waters, the Persian tried to draw Erik's attention back to it. "Um, Erik…?"

The phantom turned on his heel. "I shall adhere to your scheme, but under my own conditions. One of such conditions includes your promise not to interfere with Mlle. Daaé anymore. Another is to stop pestering my siren." The Persian was about to remark that it was the siren who was pestering him, but he held his tongue.

"The rest I believe I will further expound in writing. That is a method that has worked fairly well in the past."

"Yes, good. Then I shall be leaving."

"Farewell, daroga."

"I will see you at eight in the evening, then. Be prompt."

"I always am. Good-bye."

The Persian walked to the boat.

"Erik?"

"Daroga? You can paddle a boat, can't you?"

"The siren, Erik. It's not moving. I don't think it will let me cross…"

With that, Erik abandoned his search for compositions and resignedly rowed the Persian to the opposite shore. The shadow beneath the waves did not recede until the Persian had left the lowest cellar.

Phillipe sat down, deep in thought.

"Well, that might be a problem."

"Oui."

The Comte de Chagny crossed his arms and kept searching for solution. He would not be able to accomplish the task of removing Raoul unless something came to mind quickly. Suddenly, an idea presented itself.

" What languages do you know?"

"French, naturally," Raoul listed, "Latin, too; but that's no use now. German-"

"Perfect!" remarked the comte triumphantly. "As it so happens, English is a Germanic language. All that you need to do is stick some Latin and, oh, a couple of French words in and voilá! English."

Raoul, still a bit confused, nodded.

"Ah, I see. It seems complicated, Phillipe."

"It is. Once you get the hang of it, I am confidant that you will be fine. Oh, and by the way, you ought to know that the English place their adjectives before the nouns they modify."

Raoul looked as if someone had just stripped away that last shred of sanity in his life. "But…that makes no sense. How on earth do their irregular adjectives work, then?" He shook his head with genuine fear in his eyes. "The language must be an unstable wreck of sound, terrifying to all that hear it. How do these people live organized lives if even their own tongue is against them?"

Deciding that the ensuing diatribe by Raoul on the English language was not very appropriate to present to English readers, the management and the author have edited it out. The audience will then rejoin the Chagny brothers after the issued has been sorted out. Thank you for your cooperation.

"I'm sure that everything will be fine," Phillipe said comfortingly to a thoroughly frightened Raoul. "Think of it as a learning experience."

Checking his pocket watch, for the time, the comte changed the subject.

"Your train will leave at eight-thirty this evening. You probably ought to depart at eight o'clock, which means that you have the rest of the day left for packing. I shall leave you now. I suggest taking a month's worth of clothing, perhaps a book or two for the boat ride."

That concluded the interview with Phillipe. Raoul later took his luncheon at a fashionable Parisian café, and lamented leaving until the clock's hands drew dangerously close to eight. Once his things were packed, the vicomte felt miserable at the thought of leaving Christine. Especially after having heard that other man's voice in her dressing room!

He was certain that if he did not act now, that Christine would be lost to him, potentially forever. This feeling did not sit well with the young man. Recently back from the sea, only to be sent out again, he began to grow mildly uneasy about his journey.

Some time later, he was decidedly uneasy, and at a quarter to eight, he was unnerved.

A hansom was waiting outside the house and Raoul was also aware that all of his luggage was on it already. His brother awaited him by the door to see him out, and soon he would bid him farewell. At eight, though, a plan of his own had begun to develop.

The vicomte, therefore, walked to the door, took his leave of his brother, and left Phillipe and all the members of his household for London.

Or so they thought.

From this section onwards, the circumstances of this tale take leave of the conventional and boring, and begin to become, as stated earlier, rather odd.

The Persian once more made his way down to the lake, certain that he was being watched. Sure enough, he was, and soon he felt an icy breeze whipping at the back of his neck, which betrayed the presence of the ghost.

The Persian shivered and expressed his irritation.

"Honestly, Erik, when will you cease to plague me? I am going to have a seizure one of these days…"

However, the ghost was not concerned about the health of his visitor. Stiffly, he moved past the daroga, and waved his hand gracefully towards the boat.

"Get in, daroga, and maybe you'll care to enlighten me about your eight o'clock machination."

Ever so tentatively, the Persian came into the tiny vessel, being careful not to lean too far off the edge and keeping all appendages out of the water. His curious position was probably why Erik had to stifle a burst of rare laughter.

The Persian made a decent attempt at regaining his composure, but failed miserably.

Somehow, the Persian and Erik made the trek to the house of the lake, after being soaked by the assorted leaks, and, much to the Persian's discontent, being followed by a mysterious darkness underwater.

When they came fully into Erik's house, the Persian noticed a small pile of musical scores and a blank composition book piled on the table. He inspected the pieces, and clucked his tongue disapprovingly at the phantom.

"For all the time you spent working on it, your masterpiece is not so very large."

The phantom, quick to take offense, strode over to the Persian's side with alarming silence. He glanced at the music on the table, then said:

"That is not my masterpiece. My 'Don Juan Triumphant' I have over there," he flicked his hand in the general direction of two imposing book shelves, each containing scores of scores. "It is difficult to bring it with me, so I shall leave it here. What you mistook it for is another opera of mine that is not so grand." Then he continued softly, as if admitting a secret dream, "Perhaps I shall have it published when it is completed."

"Perhaps." Agreed the Persian. "Is this all that you wish to bring with you? Noblemen usually have more a more daunting assembly of belongings when they arrive at an unfamiliar place."

Erik then proceeded to mutter something under his breath about noblemen and Punjab Lassos, which became so graphic the Persian was obliged to cough loudly. The continued polite coughs won out eventually, and the phantom begrudgingly brought forth another suitcase. In jest, the Persian remarked in sotto voce that it was probably full of dark cloaks and evening wear.

"It is, daroga."

From there on, the Persian made a note to himself not to joke anymore about Erik's apparel. The ghost's fingers curled around the handle of his violin case, and the digits of the other hand found their way around the tightly bound sheet music. There was one bag still remaining on the ground and the Persian highly doubted that Erik would make a second trip for it back across the lake. He sighed. Then he picked up the bag. The phantom, who had been taking at last look at his lair, appeared refreshed.

"Please wait a moment, daroga." A dismayed Persian stopped inches from the boat. It was so time-consuming, this business of removing the spider from its web. Being an experienced planner, though, the Persian had naturally allotted some time into their schedule for the ghost to leisurely quit his lair.

Erik waded regally waded into the waters of his lake, his dark cape flying out behind him and skimming the water for the few seconds before sinking in its own momentum. His stance vividly reminded the Persian of the way the ghost had acted in front of the shah's court so long ago: fluid, brisk, and cat-like. Halting when he was waist-deep into the water, Erik began a simple song. The Persian could not see what the effect of this action was, but was aware that by the time Erik had finished his tune an all too familiar shape had drifted lazily near him.

After whispering melodically to the waves, the ghost paused, and a second voice was heard. The latter possessed an eerie, ethereal quality, causing the unsuspecting Persian to gravitate closer to the sound. He, who was usually so keen-eyed, did not notice that the phantom no longer was moving his lips. He did not notice much of anything, until he felt the wet, swampy thickness settle into his trousers below the knee.

"They do sing beautifully, do they not, daroga?"

Once they were out in the boat, the Persian felt compelled to alert his companion of a new development.

"Erik, your fiendish creature is not following us as it typically does. Is there a reason for this?" The Persian began cautiously, internally dreading beginning the siren back into general conversation, but feeling the need to know that it was not tagging along unseen.

"That, daroga, is because I told it to stay put." The phantom explained, as though it were the most logical thing in the world.

"You did so via singing, I presume?"

Erik nodded.

"What for?" The Persian inquired, his interested piqued.

"Whatever else for? To guard my home while I journey abroad and to not admit anyone other than those I gave it permission to."

Sensing that the ghost was becoming irascible at all the explaining going on, the Persian opted not to persue the topic. That did not prevent him from hoping very much that he was on the list of those to be spared (should he venture in). He bravely continued:

"I shall give you more information once we are out of this dank place. For now, content yourself with the knowledge that, from this step forth, you are the Lord Noirtier. An uncle of yours died recently, and you have returned to France to claim your rightful title at the head of your family."

"Ah, and shall I mention that I have absolutely nothing to validity my statement when they ask?"

The Persian allowed himself a triumphant grin.

"No. Simply say that your personal documents are still being transferred. You are quite unaware, Erik, of how long paper work takes in the world at large. Should you stay for a considerable duration of time, the papers could be procured, yes. It makes the affair riskier, but I daresay that you will not want to be above ground for that long."

The ghost gave an emotionless nod as they left the boat for the labyrinth of passage ways.

In a single leap, the vicomte de Chagny was airborne. Soon after that, though, he was not, and it is at the scene which occurred where we rejoin him: on the pavement, having just jumped from his hansom.

Unfortunately for Raoul his brilliant plan of leaping to freedom had been foiled in its last stages by a sloppy landing. The coachman soon swung the horses around, and reached him before he could limp away on his now-sprained ankle. The vicomte briefly had time to realize how very unmanly it was to sprain one's ankle when trying to save one's sweetheart from debauchery, but was interrupted by a concerned coachman.

Having left all his baggage in the carriage, Raoul had not given thought as to what would happen after he dashed off into the night, albeit without clothes, money, or books. With a disappointed sigh, he gave in, and did things the conventional way: handing the coachman a fistful of francs in exchange for secrecy and unloading his things at the Opera.

Raoul wandered around to the back of the Opera Garnier and wondered if he had made a mistake in coming here. In desperation, the vicomte fell against an iron-wrought gate, and praying for a miracle. To his great surprise, the gate swung open, swinging him in with it.

The Persian led Erik up to the Rue Scribe gate tentatively. Wanting to appear inconspicuous, he made Erik wait (not an easy task) and moved through the gate. It was rather fortunate that the Persian had gone first, as, much to his own chagrin, the Persian had neglected to close the gate fully upon his second visit to the lair. With a sigh of relief, he melted easily back into the world of rain-cloaked Parisians around him.

Erik was brooding, barely outside the area illuminated by streetlamps. Perhaps there was some future in the daroga's plan, after all. Drawing the hood of his cloak close about him, he stepped forth into the light patch. This would have been much more of a meaningful moment had he not tripped over an object that felt suspiciously like an ankle.

The vicomte stopped breathing, and fervently wished that he would not be made to do so permanently. Turning with the speed and fury he was credited for, the ghost scrutinized the path ahead- now all clear, as Raoul had hastily removed his ankle- and, much to Raoul's fright, fixed his glowing eyes on the exact spot he lay concealed. Then, the cloaked man raised his hand to his face and took an uncharacteristically shaky step forward. Soon, he too was lost in the maelstrom of Parisians hurrying to shelter, evaporating into the rain as though he were himself a shade.

The last words Raoul heard him say on his way out were: "Damn opera rats."

And that is how the phantom left his Opera and how the vicomte came unto it.

Author's Note:

Thank you very much for reading 'Fopera'! It's my first phic, so I'd appreciate it verily if you reviewed. Sorry about it being a tad long—Erik just was not willing to leave, and I wanted to do my best to keep the tale as Leroux as I could. (bows) I hope you enjoyed this as much as I have. More to come.