Disclaimer: I don't own anything related to POTO.

Setting: AU Fic. What if Erik knew Christine when they were children and grew up together? This is based on the scenarios in the Kay novel. For the sake of my story, Erik will be only four years older than Christine. Enjoy, R/R!

"Papa, where are we going next?" Inquired the little girl. She was young, around 8 years of age. Her perfect chocolate brown curls bounced as she ran to her father and embraced him. He swung her around in circles, and when he put her down, both were laughing at their silliness.

"Well, Christine, were going to a town just south of where we are. Are you all packed and ready to go my love?

Christine ran across the small room to where her tattered carpet bag that contained all her belongings lay. Using both hands, she picked it up and carried it across the room to where her father was. He lifted it with little effort, considering Christine didn't own that much. He picked up his bag along with Christine and placed her on his neck. Both father and daughter smiled as they went together to their next job in yet another town, staying usually only a week at a time, then moving on. This had been their routine for years now since the death of Gustave's wife and Christine's mother, traveling the countryside around Europe. Gustave would play the violin while Christine would sing. Despite her young age people were amazed by the lovely clear voice she possessed, only imagining what she would sound like when she was grown.

Finally after a long day of traveling, they had arrived at their destination. As they reached yet another run down inn with one room to call their own for the week, both noticed that there was a lot of commotion going on in the small village.

It seemed a traveling circus had come. Gustave wanted to find the owner, "Now Christine, stay close to me. I don't want to lose you in this crowd." Obediently she nodded her head and her grip on her father's hand tightened. They were directed to a tent and entered it. A man rose from the seat that was across the room. His greasy hair and long beard were beginning to change the slightest hint of silver. The shirt he wore was dirty and his round belly poked through a hole in the faded material. It was obvious what this man was, a gypsy.

"Welcome friends, welcome. My name is Javert. What can I do for you?" Javert asked.

After introductions Gustave went right into it, "I was wondering if you were interested in putting on a new act? My daughter and I that is, you see I play the violin and my daughter, Christine, can sing as beautifully as they come. Would you like to see a little example?"

Making a motion for them to began, Gustave took out his violin and Christine started her song. She enjoyed singing and at first she was happy, but only at first. The looks she began to receive from Javert unnerved her and caused a missed line in the song. When they were finished Javert approached the two, "Well Gustave, I do believe we can add you two on." He winked at Christine and it frightened her enough to hide behind her father. "You two can start once we get to the next city. We leave tomorrow. Have a good night."

Ultimately dismissing them, once they arrived back at the inn Christine confided in her father her feelings, "Papa I don't like Javert, he scares me."

Taking the little girl on his lap he spoke, "Darling he's just a but... Eccentric. Don't worry, you shall hardly have to see him at all. Besides, you'll be with me, ok? "Christine still looked unsure. At this her father answered, "How about this, we'll try it out at the next city and if you still don't like it, we'll go to the house by the sea and take a little time off. I've been saving for a while and we have enough money to do that now, how does that sound?"

Christine's face lit up at just the thought of the house by the sea. She loved it there and completely forgot about Javert. She hugged her father tightly and they both got ready for sleep. Before she drifted off her father asked her, "What story would you like to hear tonight?"

"Little Lottie and the Angel of Music. Papa, will I ever meet the Angel of Music?"

"One day, Christine, one day, I promise." They both drifted off after the story. Little did they know their lives would never be the same again.

Sunlight shone through the threadbare curtains and hit their eyes awaking them from their slumber. The next morning had already come and it was time for them to leave with the circus.

"Are you hungry, how about some bread and cheese? Then Christine, go wash your face and get dressed. We have to leave very early today."

After a meager breakfast they took both bags and headed out to where the Circus grounds were. The tents and booths were gone, the caravan was almost ready to go. Javert approached them, "Monsieur Daae! You can follow us on your horse. We won't stop for a few hours, and don't fall behind or risk getting left. Got it?"

"Yes, we'll stay close behind." Gustave replied then went to speak to someone for their sleeping arrangements. Christine noticed a wagon with a cage loaded onto it. The man closed the tarp around the cage and left. Christine was rather curious about it, perhaps it held a lion or some other wild animal. She moved closer and could almost see inside when Javert grabbed hold of her shoulder, "Be careful, little one, this beast is the worst one of them all. I would advise you to leave him alone if you want what's best for you... Or do you need to be taught?" She tried to wiggle out of his grasp, but he was to strong for her. "Perhaps you do need to be taught a lesson." Gustave began to approach and he let go of her immediately before he could see. She ran to her father and Javert left. She was confused by what he meant but decided that she didn't want to find out.

They reached the city in a few day's time and Gustave went to help set up. Christine decided to take a look around when she passed a tent and peeked in. It was very dark inside and her eyes had to adjust from being outside in the sunlight. Then she noticed the cage that she had seen earlier, the one Javert warned her about. For a moment she paused, then throwing caution to the wind, pressed on forward. In the corner she noticed a small form balled up. The figure sat up and looked at her. She noticed it was a boy not much older than herself. He wore a rag sack on his head with holes cut out for the eyes and was filthy.

He stood up and came closer to the bars where she was. "Who are you? What are you doing here? Come to see if what they tell you is true... Or perhaps to throw things at me?" His eyes searched her, as if trying to make a decision.

She was taken back by his aggressive demeanor, "My name is Christine, I came in here to see what was inside, explore the circus. Why are you in a cage?"

"They put me in here on purpose. I'm part of an act. My name is Erik."

She noticed a bruise on his arm, "What happened to your arm?"

"I don't want to talk about it."

"Oh, ok."

"I've never seen you here before. Are you new to the circus?" Erik asked her just to continue the conversation. He hadn't engaged in a decent conversation with anyone for a while. In all honesty the most contact he ever had with other people was either while he was performing and all people did was scream or call him names or with Javert, but it was less talking and more being pummeled.

"Well, my papa and I just joined the circus. He plays the violin and I sing. Maybe you can come and see our show."

"I don't get out much Christine. Unless... Maybe I can, with a little help from you that is. You said that you wanted to explore, if you get the key to my cage we'll explore the grounds together. Do you know where Javert's tent is?"

"Yes. I'll go get it now..." She stopped dead in tracks when Erik called out to her.

"NO! At least, not now. If Javert catches me or you he'll... Look you can help me later tonight. It will be late and they'll all be asleep. Then you can get the keys in Javert's tent. Just don't tell anyone ok?" The boy asked.

"Ok, I'll come after my papa goes to sleep. So, what are some of the things you do in your show?" She inquired.

"See those books and items in the corner, throw them to me." When she did he began to juggle two, three then four items. "Keep them coming!" She kept tossing things at him and he never missed a beat. "Now for the big finally! Watch this!" Then one by one all the things that were going round disappeared. Christine's mouth hug open. Erik stepped aside and everything was in a neat pile next to him.

She began to clap, "That was amazing! What else can you do?"

"When you return tonight, you'll find out. Now you better go before they find you here with me."

She was leaving when she turned around and looked at Erik one last time before she left. Giving him a smile she went to find her father and get ready for their act. She couldn't wait till tonight.

Finally evening had come. They arrived in their tent after a long day of performing.

"Well, Christine, what story do you want to hear..." He began to cough uncontrollably.

Christine went to his bag and got out the amber colored liquid, "Here papa, drink this."

Gustave took a shot of the strong drink and his coughing subsided. "What would I do without you?"

"I don't want a story tonight papa. You need your rest, let's go to sleep." She knew after her father's coughing fits and drink he would sleep very heavy. She led him to the bed and tucked him in. "There papa, you sleep now. I'll come to bed in a little bit. I'm just going to go get a breath of fresh air. Goodnight."

"Don't stay out too late, goodnight Christine." He put his head down and was asleep very fast. After a few minuets just to be sure he wouldn't wake, she left the tent for Javert's only a few tents down from theirs. The grounds were silent and very dark. Lifting the cloth that stood as a door to his tent she peeked in. There was Javert behind his desk, passed out with an empty bottle on his hand. She decided it would be all right to enter. The name Erik was carved into a post not far from the entrance to his tent. The keys hung below on a rusty looking old nail. Quickly grabbing them and running out the entrance she tripped and tried to stifle a cry by covering her mouth. Closing her eyes tightly she turned around and hoped that he hadn't heard. Opening them immediately reassured her that he had not. Javert hadn't moved an inch. Slower this time she made her escape to Erik's cage.

He sat on the floor reading one of the books that he used to juggle earlier. "What are you reading?" A light voice inquired.

"Oliver Twist. Far to close to home for my taste. Did you get it?" He stood and walked over to where she was standing.

"You mean this?" She pulled out a key from her skirt pocket. It fit the lock perfectly and soon he was standing outside the cage.

He came even closer to where she was, "I guess it's now my turn to fulfill my part of the deal, are you ready?"

"Yes." She took his hand and he took a step back. He was caught off guard from this action. Never had anyone pursued to bestow affection to him, more less hold his hand.

She could sense his apprehension, so she spoke, "You don't have to hold my hand if you don't want to." Her doe eyed look pierced him through and through. Slowly she looked away at the floor as she relinquished her hand from his.

He sighed heavily and retorted, "I don't mind, I'm just not used to it is all."

She smiled and took up his hand once more. "You've never had a friend before have you?" He shook his head. "Well you have one now." She smiled sweetly and gave his hand a little squeeze. "So are you going to show me around or what?"

Erik was dumbfounded. He only expected to take her around with him and that be the end of it, but she wanted to be his friend. That involved a lot more than just a one time tour of the circus. Or at least he thought it did. Having a friend was one of the few subjects Erik wasn't an expert in. He wondered if perhaps this was some kind of cruel joke she was playing on him, but Christine didn't seem the type. No matter, his curiosity got the better of him and he took her with him. He never dared to imagine just what an actual friendship would be like, but he was as ready as he would ever be for one, which wasn't very ready but more along the lines of being a bit reluctant about it. Thus their long and complicated journey together began.

A/N: This is going to be a longer story for me. Probably the longest one I'm planing on posting. The next chapter involves them getting to know each other better at the circus and avoiding the horrible Javert. He really is awful isn't he? Anyway, hope you enjoyed it! R/R! -Your Humble Servant, GP (GerryPhan)