Hello, everyone! Presuming, of course, that anyone is actually reading this (in which case I'm much obliged). ...Oh god, I had an actual formal moment right there. -Deep Breath- Alrighty then. Not much to say except that this is the very-delayed start of September 17. Sorry to everyone (if anyone) who was waiting for this- it took me far too long to finally post, and here it is!

And just to let y'all know, this beginning is going to be a bit rough, but I promise (cross my heart and all that jazz) that it'll get better. So please stick with it! Pretty please with a cherry and Erik on top?

Disclaimer: I don't own PotO, peoples!


"September 17, 1871." A date that, for all of us, is history. A date that, for some long ago, was the present. A date that, for one girl alone, would be both.

"Masquerade

Paper faces on parade

Masquerade

Hide your face so the world will never find you..." Erik sang softly to the tune of the music box in front of him. For the briefest moment, all of his sadness disappeared, but it returned in full when he saw the figure of his beloved Christine out of the corner of his eye. He turned his head and gazed at her, unshed tears blurring his vision slightly.

"Christine, I love you," he sang, barely able to keep fom crying a second longer. His beloved said nothing, but strode up to him and took his hand. As Erik watched tearfully, Christine placed the small gold ring he had given her in his palm and curled his fingers around it. Instead of leaving, though, as Erik thought she would, she began to speak.

"I can't marry you, Angel," she breathed. Erik sighed pitifully, knowing that it would have been better if she had just left after all, but Christine reached down and gently tilted his face toward her.

"I can't marry you... because you haven't properly proposed," she finished. Erik looked at her incredulously, and she gave him the tiniest hint of a smile. "So... would you like to correct that?"

More than anything, Erik thought with desperation, but he couldn't manage to tell her that. After what seemed like forever, he swallowed with apparent effort and nodded, aware of how pitiful he must have looked.

Christine stared at him expectantly, and he realized that it was one of those "now or never" situations. He quickly pulled together his nerve and cleared his throat.

Is she really going to give me one more chance? Or is she just trying to have one last stab at the last scraps of my dignity and existence? Erik glanced at Christine's beautiful features, but nothing about her told him anything.

"Will you..." His voice faltered momentarily, but he forced himself with all of his willpower to keep talking. "I mean... Christine, will you please... marry me?"

Her face was still expressionless as he spoke, and it didn't change when he was done. Erik was about to ask again when her lips finally parted, and he knew that she was going to answer him.

Suddenly Erik's eyes shot open as he was roughly brought back to reality. He groaned and realized that he was lying on the floor, his body tangled in the velvet blankets of his bed. With another groan he sat up and threw the covers off him, cursing himself for waking up when he did. If only he had been able to sleep for one more minute...

"Oh, Christine," he whispered, his voice layered with longing and hurt. Erik stood and tossed the blankets onto his bed, thought for a second, then begant o fix them neatly. he knew that it was only a way to use up time for himself, but he didn't care.

It had been a month since Christine had left him. A month of nothing but silence and depression. Erik hadn't been able to play any type of music at all, or do anything alse he had ever enjoyed doing that was somehow connected to his beloved. He only ate once a day (if that), an was sorely lagging behind on all housework that he knew he should be doing.

What a mess, he thought to himself as he surveyed his home. The mob that had been down there a month ago had done their share of disorganizing almost everything in the room, but Erik had made no attempt to clean or fix anything. In fact, he only added to the disorder.

All of the sudden, Erik felt a strong, uncontrollable impulse to restore his home. He had no idea why, but it was as if his greatest desire was to see his house the way it had been. Before... before Christine had left him.

Anything, Erik decided, I'll do anything if it will make my life go by faster. His mind made up, he walked into the midst of the room and began to set things right, wondering what he was really doing all the while. Strangely enough, he almost felt like he wasn't going to be alone anymore...


"Dani, hushit," a teenage girl murmured, using one of her favorite made-up words. She searched throught her purse and finally located her cell phone. She tossed a strand of her dark brown hair over her shoulder and pressed the "Talk" button.

"Hello, this is Alyssa," the girl greeted, putting the phone to one ear and covering the other one to block out the music of the radio in the background.

"Alyssa, darling, it's your mom. Grandmother's nearly having a heart attack over here at your lateness. She's sent her driver to pick you up, since you obviously can't tell time," the voice on the other end spoke. Alyssa groaned.

"Alright, mother... Yes, I understand... I know... I'm sorry, mother... Alright. Tell Grandmother I apologize... I love you, too, mother. Goodbye." Alyssa hung up the phone and turned to her friend.

"I'm sorry, Danielle. My grandmother's very, very strict when it comes to being on time. ...Actually, she's strict about everything!"

Danielle nodded. "So... why are you living with her again?"

"Since we moved and don't have a house yet, she offered to let us stay there. We've been there for a couple ofdays now, and I hate it. She's so formal about everything! ...But I shouldn't complain. She's my grandma... grandmother. Anyway, today I'm finally getting my own room there. Before I had to stay with my brother while Grandmother got some remodeling done," Alyssa mumbled sullenly. She sighed ut smiled again in a second.

"Anywhoo, thanks for letting me stay over. Grandmother sent over the driver, so I got one hell of a ride back... I guess." Danielle laughed, and Alyssa stood and slung her purse over her shoulder. She waved to her friend ("Tell your parents I said thank you and goodbye!"), then opened the door and let herself out.

The elegant car of her grandmother's was not a welcomesight to Alyssa's eyes, blut she nevertheless kept her feelings to herself as the driver opened the back door for her. She merely smiled and slid into the leather seat. At one nod from her, the chauffer got into the driver's seat and started the engine.

With one last long, listful look at her friend's house, they drove away. How Alyssa missed those days when her family had been like that! Ever since she, her mother, and her brother had moved, life had been all elegance and manners and etiquette. That stuff in itself wasn't too bad, but she was a teenager! She needed rock music and hanging out with friends, not tea parties with cute little tarts and such!

Alyssa sighed as the car entered the long driveway of her grnadmother's, but she nevertheless grinned as her mother came through the huge wooden doors. After thanking the driver, Alyssa returned her mother's embrace and walked into the enormous house.

"Alyssa! Why are you late? proper young ladies must be prompt, as I've told you before!" Alyssa turned and saw her grandmother striding toward her, dressed up as usual.

Why must she be so old-fashioned? Alyssa wondered, but she merely apologized for her "bad manners" and listened to her grandmother's lecture about how young ladies were never to be late, not even by a second.

"...Well, I suppose we should be thankful that you are only late for one supper, and not for another appointment. I mean, your crime is offensive as it is, but for a party or a lunch meeting...!" The old woman put a hand to her heart dramatically, and Alyssa had to bit her lips to stifle a laugh that threatened to explode as she nodded.

"Oh, and don't bite your lip, Alyssa, for goodness sake," her grnadmother snapped. "It's very unladylike. ...Now, would you care to see your new room? It was finished only an hour ago, and it looks magnificent!"

"Yes, please, grandmother." And why can't I just call her Grandma like everyone else can call their grandmothers? Alyssa smiled again despite her bitter thoughts, and the old woman turned smartly and headed up the staircase behind her. It took a couple seconds, but at last Alyssa realized that she was supposed to follow and scampered up the steps.

Up the flight of stairs there was the longest hallways the teenager had seen in her whoel life (that wasn't on TV, of course), and Ayssa made a mental note to remember which room was hers. It was easy to get lost in the giant house.

"All right, Alyssa. Here we are," her grandmother spoke at last. Alyssa took a deep breath, then opened the door beside her and topok her first look at her new room.

Her mouth dropped open in shock. The walls were painted a simple white, and a plush maroon carpet (a perfect match with the walls) covered the floor. The furniture looked like it had cost a fortune, especially the bed.

It was the bed that was most intriguing to Alyssa. She tilted her head just a bit like she usually did when she was deep in thought and stared at it for a few seconds.

The reason it amazed her was because, for some reason, the frame was an antique-looking gold color... and shaped to resemble an intricate bird.


HaHa so there it is, I know it sucks, flame if you must, but if you are patient (which I hope you are) then please bear with me for a couple chappis, I swear it'll get better!

Oh, and a big "Thank You!" Dani, Cassy, Andrea, and Chelly for your help! You all rock!