Disclaimer: I do not own anything.
This story is set before the 2004 ALW film.
The First Moment
She stood a little way before him, the sun shining brightly on her dark curls. There was a sweet, almost teasing smile on her lips, a dimple appearing in her left cheek as her dark eyes sparkled with innocent happiness. She held out her hand to him.
"Are you coming, Erik?" She asked, her voice young and light. He shook his head.
"Not into the sunlight. Someone might see…" He brushed his fingers against the white mask.
She looked disappointed and her hand dropped to her side.
"I don't care. Why does it matter if they do?" She asked but before she could answer, a bell chimed and she turned to leave.
"Wait! Will you come back?" Erik called desperately. She glanced back with a smile.
"Come and find me. Then I'll never leave you."
"What is your name?" Erik asked. She laughed and ran away and her voice carried back to him on the wind.
Erik's eyes snapped open. He sat up and rubbed his face. The dream was fresh in his mind. He knew it well. For so many nights he had witnessed the same scene. The beautiful young woman asking for him to go to her, promising to stay with him if he found her. And always the same name.
"Christine…" He said the name aloud, his mouth savouring the feel of it. Such a beautiful name. Such a beautiful girl…
He rose from the bed and went into the main area of the cellar, lighting candles as he went. Taking a seat at his desk, he pulled a piece of parchment to him, on which he had already begun to trace the outline of her face. But the details were irritably vague. Even now he could feel her image slipping away from his mind like sand through a time glass.
He looked at the image before him. She smiled sweetly back at him but there was something missing. A quality that could not be captured on paper.
"May I enter?" Erik heard Marie Giry call. He pushed the parchment away, ensured his mask was in place and then his consent for her to enter. She did so, carrying his basket of food. Considerably more food than usual, Erik noticed.
"I am going way for a few days. This should last you until my return." Marie said, placing the basket on the table.
"Away?" She had never done that before. "What of Little Giry?"
"Meg will be fine in the dormitories. I would prefer not to go so close to a new show opening but I must. A friend of mine is dying."
"My sympathies." Erik said, a little awkwardly. He had little contact with people and was unsure of how to react to such an announcement. Marie smiled graciously.
"Thank you, Erik. But my visits may be less frequent. I am bringing back yet another pupil."
"Oh?" He said, pouring her a glass of wine. She accepted it.
"Gustav's daughter. A sweet child. I fear she will be most distraught when her father passes away. But she will make a decent dancer, with enough practise." Mari said thoughtfully.
Erik nodded and said,
"A safe journey to you."
"And to Christine." Marie added. Erik looked at her sharply.
"Christine Daae. Gustav's daughter." Marie said, looking at him. Erik didn't reply and she placed her glass down on a table. "I will be back in a week's time, maybe longer if Gustav is still with us. Try not to cause too much trouble."
It annoyed him that she constantly treated him as a child or younger brother, even. But before he could voice his distaste for her attitude, she vanished. Erik considered the situation carefully. His eyes strayed to the vague drawing on the table. He picked it up tenderly.
"Christine Daae…" He whispered.
He raised his head. This could be her. And if it was… he had to see her. At once. He would not, could not wait for Marie to bring her back. He had to know if it was her. And he had to know now.
The black horse known as Cesar was a powerful beast. Erik felt a certain affinity with the creature. There were hidden depths to this horse. He knew the feeling well. They rode hard and fast after Erik had inspected Marie's personal chambers for information as to where she was headed. He felt a slight twinge of guilt at invading her privacy, but she should not expect him to regard her with any difference to the rest of the people at the Opera House.
It took several days to travel to the Swiss border. And for someone who did not appreciate being in public, Erik was rather unhappy about this. If this isn't Christine I am going to be severely annoyed…
The address Erik had taken from Marie's table took him down by the coast. A small, cosy looking house, perfectly suited for a family. Erik left Cesar in a clump of trees and moved like a shadow, climbing up a tree to a window were a dim light shone through. Pulling a black mask over his face, he peered in through the window.
Lying on a bed was a man. Erik could tell that he was ill. His skin was pasty and his eyes appeared to be sunken in. Was this Gustav Daae? A moment later the fact was confirmed by the entrance of Marie Giry. She moved over to the bed and spoke softly to him.
"Gustav… Christine wishes to see you."
"Bring her to me, Marie."
"Is it wise?" Marie said gently. Gustav coughed. The gurgle of death flowed from him, a cold, rattling sound. When he had stopped, he nodded.
"It… it may be my last chance to see her."
Marie did not dispute the fact. She turned and walked from the room. Gustav coughed again and when he was done, he sighed heavily, waiting. Erik waited too. Waited for the arrival of Christine. Intense anticipation flooded his bones. This was the moment of truth, the first moment of hope that God had ever given him.
His sharp ears picked up the roughening breathing of Gustav and Erik examined the drawn face again. He would have been a particularly handsome man at one though, Erik thought bitterly. He always felt hatred towards seeing beauty destroyed. As though this cruel world did not appreciate what such beauty could achieve.
The door opened and Erik felt his heartbeat quicken in fear and hope as Marie came into the room, holding the hand of a child. This must be Christine, Erik realised, and leant forward, hoping, praying that this was the one.
He was not disappointed. She could not have been more than seven years of age but was undoubtedly pretty. Pale skin, dark hair and brown eyes and she moved with unnatural grace for a child of such a hasty, rushing age. She moved towards the bed.
"Come, my dear love." He smiled through his pain, forcing himself to sit. Christine sat on the bed beside him as Marie stepped back into the shadows, allowing them a moment.
"Christine, my angel. Are you afraid of going to Paris?" Gustav asked, stroking her hand.
"A little, Papa. It will be very different. But I will learn to dance."
"And sing, Christine. You must keep up your singing too."
"Of course, papa. But it will be difficult without you to help me."
Her voice ended with a little sob. A tear escaped one dark eye and Gustav wiped it away.
"No, my love. You must not weep."
"I don't want you to…" Christine couldn't bring herself to say such a grown-up and frightening word as 'die'. Gustav sighed.
"I am only sad to go because it will mean leaving my Little Lotte here."
Christine sniffed morosely and then Gustav smiled brightly.
"I know! You shall be Little Lotte. When I am in heaven, child, I shall send the Angel of Music to you. Then you will never be alone."
Christine's face lit up with delight.
"You will send him, Papa? You won't forget?"
"Never, my darling child. I will never forget. But you must be always as good and sweet as you are now."
"I will, Papa! And I will love my Angel of Music!"
She had a dreamy expression on her face and Gustav kissed her forehead impulsively.
"I fear sometimes that I done you wrong with such a strange childhood. What people must think..."
"I don't care." Christine said stubbornly. "Why does it matter if they do?"
Erik let out a breath he didn't realise that he had been holding.
It was her.
"No… I suppose it doesn't matter that much. We have always been happy, haven't we?" Gustav said. Christine shook her head and glanced at the violin on the bedside table.
"I wish I could hear you play again."
"Don't fear. Your Angel will be able to play much better than I."
"No one could. No one will be able to help me sing as you have, Papa." Christine said. Gustav smiled.
"Then sing once more for your Papa. Sing a song that will make you happy until your Angel comes."
Erik fell into bliss. That sweet voice. Of course, it needed training. But the pure sweetness, the natural loveliness was more than he could have hoped for. That was what he had come here for.
Marie stepped forward, causing Christine to stop in her singing.
"Come, Christine. Your father needs his rest." Christine nodded and kissed her father.
"Goodnight child." Gustav said with a smile
"Remember my Angel, Papa!" Christine said earnestly.
"I shall, Christine. I shall remember."
The door closed as Marie and Christine left. Gustav settled back on the bed, weakened even by that brief conversation. Erik knew this was his chance. Gustav may be dying, but he could live for longer than Erik could stand. This disease could keep him in its grasp for more than a week. Erik could not wait. He slid the window up.
Gustav looked over slowly, too weak to move any faster.
"Who…?" He began but Erik held up a gloved hand to silence him. Gustav stared at the intruder who seemed to be composed of shadow rather than of flesh and blood. Erik looked over him.
"You are dying." He said. Gustav nodded silently. Erik held his gaze.
"You promised her an Angel of Music."
"She needs to believe-"
"I will be her Angel, Daae." Erik said sharply. "And I will love her."
"Leave my daughter alone!" Gustav said, sudden fear grasping him.
"Yes, Daae. You are dying. But not, I fear, fast enough." He reached into his cloak and pulled out a needle. A transparent liquid, tinted slightly yellow glinted in the dim light. One of the deadliest poisons known. Made even more so in that it could not be traced and left no symptoms.
Erik approached Gustav who struggled pathetically. Erik's hand darted out and caught his throat. Gustav stared up at the man who was about to take his life. Erik looked back as he slid the needle into Gustav's arm.
"I will be her Angel. I will love her." He said in a soft, almost regretful voice. "And she will love me too."
Gustav reached up weakly as the poison coursed through his veins. His fingers brushed against the black mask of his Angel of Death.
"Christine…" He moaned softly before he slumped back, his final breath escaping his lips. Erik stared at the limp form before him and then closed the dull eyes. After moving the body back into a resting position, he went to the window. As he closed it, he heard Marie go back into the room.
"Christine is in bed, she-"
Her voice stopped sharply. Erik watched as she leant forward, searching for a pulse and finding none. He didn't wish to see more. Within a few days Christine would arrive at the Opera Populaire. And then he would be able begin her training, to mould her and bring her up until that day, far into the future when she would hold out her hand to his and invite him into the sunlight.
And when that day came he would not be afraid to leave the shadows. He would take her hand and they would be together in the world that he had created for them.
A/N: Please leave me a review and tell me what you think. I'm quite pleased with the way this turned out but I'd like to know your opinions too!