A/N: I've only seen the film, not the play, so maybe I don't get the characters the way they were intended but I thought I'd give this a shot. It does have certain lesbian overtones, if that offends you I wouldn't read.
I cried when I read the obituary in the paper that morning.
Theo, my husband, glanced up from his own correspondences to complain about the interruption and I, not wanting to be drawn into the thousandth argument of our marriage, gracefully fled from the kitchen into the small bedroom that had been Mama's when she lived with us. It seemed an apt place to contemplate the death of one of my old friends.
Mama had introduced us after all. I remember the day she arrived home with Christine by her side. I was an inquisitive child, living in the dorms of the Opera Populaire how could I not be? But little Christine stood out from any that had come before. Her hair was a complete contrast to mine and curly; oh, the curls! I think I fell in love there and then.
For years we grew together. I watched her every movement in the small room we shared. Every day she became more beautiful and every day something happened inside me though I was too small to understand quite what it was. Her hair curled more, blending into the most spectacular mixture of brown twirls I've ever seen. Mama looked at her with pride, so did most of the house workers. I was just proud to be her best friend.
Every evening she would disappear for a time, to light a candle for her father. At the age of fourteen I finally realised what had probably been the case from the start when I found some of her costume materials mixed in with mine. Purposefully, I closed the door on the hub of activity outside and held the cloth to my nose, inhaling her intoxicating scent. It was soft between my fingers much as I imagined her skin would be. Of course, we'd shared beds and everything else when we were younger but not for a few years and I couldn't remember how her skin felt on mine, no matter how hard I tried.
When she came back from the chapel that night, I pretended to be asleep. Truthfully, I had been crying and with my head under the covers she couldn't see. She talked though she thought I was asleep. She talked of her father, of a boy she once knew, Raoul. For what seemed like an age she waded through her life as she could remember it. Why she couldn't tell me these things while I was awake I'll never know. She was a private person, intensely brave. I always supposed she wanted to keep that illusion. Of course, a while afterwards I told her I'd heard snippets about Raoul. I mentioned nothing about her father, that part I'd known I wasn't truly supposed to hear.
I became different around her after that. I held her whenever she wanted holding (which wasn't very often), listened whenever she needed me but I couldn't spend any more time with her than I had to. It felt sordid, the way I felt about her and I just knew she'd feel the same. Mama guessed, I think. There was always a secret gleam in her eye every time I moved in front of Christine in rehearsals so I wouldn't have to contend with being behind her. Whenever that occurred I forgot my steps.
Of course, loving Christine soon became a way of life. I adjusted, escaped into a fantasy world where she saw me as more than her closest friend whenever I could. The one thing I didn't want was to lose her friendship, I couldn't bear to be parted from her, even for a day.
But then, it had to happen someday. The circumstances were just more... disastrous than I'd anticipated.
The Phantom of the Opera was deemed a bad affair afterwards. It was for all concerned, but in a different way for me. It marked the end of my friendship with Christine.
From the second we discovered Raoul was the new Patron I felt my grip on her slipping. She wanted exploration with him, I couldn't compete so I didn't try. The most important thing was for Christine to be happy and Raoul could do that. Wealthy, handsome, he was all she needed in her life. I was a sideshow for her, one she hadn't noticed was available for adventure with.
Then events took over. After she and Raoul declared their love I saw little of her and even less after their engagement which she swore me to secrecy about one night as she was rushing in and out to prepare for a dinner with her fiancé. Life was drifting along. Mama knew it too. She paid extra attention to me for a few months, as if to limit the damage to my emotions. It was too late, they were battered anyway.
After the Populaire fire Mama was inevitably forced to find work elsewhere. I met Christine one Sunday in a flowery garden, she was marrying Raoul and wanted to invite me to the wedding, as her witness, no less! I declined graciously. Mama and I were moving where the work was, I wouldn't be around for the wedding. I didn't tell her we left a week after the set date.
She was devastated. Her closest friend, her confidante, she wanted me there to represent her past. I told her then, the past was forgotten, it had to be. If not how could we move on? She thought I was talking about her and Raoul but, no, I was referring to myself. I couldn't see her again because doing so would reignite those feelings I'd held for probably half my life. That last meeting was strained, I wanted to hold her one last time but out of the corner of my eye I saw Raoul waiting with a coach. So I kissed her cheek, inhaling her scent one last time before leaving her and all memories of the Opera Populaire behind.
I met Theo quite by accident. He was a driver for a wealthy Baron, one who took a shine to Mama. Her hand might not have been won but mine certainly was. We were friends more than anything though. It seemed a good basis and after Christine I knew I could never love a man the way I loved her.
Reading the events of her death- a peaceful one, thankfully- I was reminded of all her life I had missed. She had a daughter, Sarah Meg. The fact that she'd named her child after me confirmed she had remembered our times together in the dorms and somehow that was all I needed. An acknowledgement I had been a good friend. Because, after all, that was the only thing I had tried to be.