No One Would Listen
Summary: After the end of Andrew Lloyd Webber's movie (minus the black-and-white flash-forwards), Christine realized that she made a serious mistake when Raoul's parents forbade her from singing. But can she repair the damage she did to Erik's heart?
Disclaimer: If I owned ALW's movie, the song No One Would Listen would be in the movie and not in the deleted scenes, and it would have been a part of something very like this fic that happened after the movie's end. And somewhere along the line, it would have been mentioned that the Phantom's real name is Erik. If ALW was trying to, in his own words, "make the Phantom a tragic romantic character, and not just an object of horror," why did he dehumanize Erik by forgetting his name? I mean, come on!
Pairings: Erik/Christine (doy)
Author's Notes: I don't truly deplore Raoul; I merely wrinkle my nose at him. So this phic will not contain any real fop-bashing…oh, did I just call that irritating boy a fop? Whoops…anyway, this phic does contain the song No One Would Listen, which ALW deleted from his movie. I think it should NOT have been cut because it generated a lot of sympathy for Erik. So I'm using the song, adding a verse at the end. If you haven't heard it, it's the same tune as Learn to be Lonely, the song sung by Minnie Driver during the credits at the end of the 2004 movie; if you have the soundtrack (collector's edition or no—I have both), Learn to be Lonely is the last track. I love that song…
Any references to Erik's past described in this fic will be from the ALW movie simply because I can't get my hands on a copy of Kay's book (and it's driving me NUTS).
I know this in unconventional, but the dialogue/thoughts in this phic will be expressed this way:
"italics in quotes:" singing
italics: Erik's thoughts or song/opera titles (you'll be able to deduce which is which)
bold: verbal inflections/emphasis
This is not my first fic, but it is my first phic. So feedback is encouraged…please? (gives you all my adorable kitten eyes look)
It did seem very much like a haunted house…or perhaps a haunted cave.
Sporadic drops of water from the cavern's vaulted ceiling into the surface of the glassy, mirror-smooth lake echoed eerily, the only audible sound. The thick white mist above the lake floated and curled, rose and dissipated. It moved like a horde of silent spirits, ghosts, blindly searching Purgatory for a way out.
Ghosts—that was all the company Erik had now. How ironic that he had fancied himself one, given himself titles like "Opera Ghost" and "Phantom of the Opera."
He was kneeling at the edge of the lake, staring blankly over the haze. His eyes were dark and reflective and blank, mirroring the undisturbed surface. Though there was no noise in the cave but the intermittent drippings of water, he could still hear, as if it were yesterday, the pure high voice of Christine Daaé echoing off the cave's walls in a soaring malisma, notes climbing higher until her cadenza reached a peak of piercing sweetness. Christine could sing like no one else Erik knew…and he had been her teacher.
Mindlessly, he drew his fingers through the shallow water of the lake. The ripples spread a few inches, then seemed to smooth out and vanish. The disappearance of the light swells was painfully reminiscent of the ripples produced by the gondola as Christine and her lover, that slave of fashion, rowed towards the sunlight…and Christine's clear flawless tone now singing a duet of tenderness with that insolent boy. Those ripples had been dispelled just as quickly, just like Christine, just like any hope Erik would ever have of a companion, a kindred spirit.
Before the now-infamous performance of Don Juan Triumphant, Erik had heard Christine's frightened voice as she cried to her lover, begging to be released from the clutches of the "Phantom of the Opera…" for she had no longer been able to think of how he had been her teacher, her friend, her Angel of Music from the time she was a gawky little girl of seven years. She had sung helplessly, "He'll always be there singing songs in my head." During Don Juan, Erik had made one desperate, final attempt to change her mind, to show her that he was no longer trying to control her, that he only wanted to be her Angel of Music, that he meant her no harm…he was in love with her.
Needless to day, that hadn't worked. And curse his temper for getting the better of him when she tore his mask off.
Now who is singing songs in whose head, Christine? Your voice is always with me. You bury your memories of me, my angel, my Persephone, my Delilah, but I cannot forget you. I never will. It is not I who will haunt you until you are dead, Christine…it is the other way around.
Quietly, slowly, Erik began to sing.
"No one would listen…no one but her heard as the outcast hears…"
It was a song he had written partly after he had sung his masterpiece Music of the Night to Christine, and partly after he had let her leave with that deChagny boy. At first, he had resolved that he could keep Christine with him by force…but he couldn't bear to see her suffer that way, not if she truly loved that pretentious Vicomte.
"Shamed into solitude, shunned by the multitude, I learned to listen…in the dark, my heart heard music…" Erik stood and turned away from the vapor-laden lake. He began walking toward his artistic alcove, where he composed his music, designed improvements to the opera house, and sometimes simply sketched or drew.
"I longed to teach the world, rise up and reach the world…no one would listen…I alone could feel the music…" He stood beside his desk, remembering the searing pain and humiliation he had experienced at the hands of the gypsies, his first few lonely frightening years cowering in the catacombs of the Opera Populaire, the cruel malicious rumors that slime like that drunken lecher Buquet spread…and then, after years of darkness, despair, and seclusion…a lonely innocent orphan, a broken-hearted budding singer, crying for her Angel of Music…
"Then at last, a voice in the gloom…seemed to cry, 'I hear you…' I hear your fears, your torment and your tears…"
Christine had been so young when he had first heard her pray, and sing…an elegy, a song of mourning for her dead father…her was voice childish and undeveloped, yet full of emotion and potential. Erik had heard her pray for a chance to sing, to share her voice with others as her father had wished for her, so he took on the role of her Angel and her tutor, perfecting and inspiring her voice. At first, he had felt sympathy for the little girl, and protectiveness…then, as she grew from an awkwardly cute, wide-eyed, frizzy-haired child into a beautiful—but still lonely at heart—young woman…then he fell in love with her.
"She saw my loneliness, shared in my emptiness…"
Christine's childhood had been lost, cruelly robbed by the deaths of her parents. As Erik watched her age, he had begun to hope that perhaps she could understand that he felt almost the same loneliness as she did. Some of his pictures were of her as a little girl, kneeling in the chapel or singing during one of his lessons. Most of them, he noted as he walked along the wall of the cave where many of his sketches hung, were much more recent: Christine performing Think of Me in her glittering white dress, her lush dark hair studded with daisies, or lying peacefully asleep on the black swan bed, or crouching almost helplessly before her father's grave. Some of the drawings were simply of her youthful face, full lips parted in song, eyes wide with life and purity, a few wayward russet curls falling over her cheeks and forehead.
"No one would listen…no one but her heard as the outcast hears…"
Erik carefully lifted a single red rose from his desk, one that had—of course—been meant for Christine. He took the black satin ribbon that was secured around the stem between his thumb and forefinger, and turned back to the lake.
"I lost my hope to her, my heart and soul to her…she wouldn't listen…"
His voice nearly broke with emotion as he knelt by the lake again. It was disturbingly easy to envision Christine and her precious Vicomte sailing off, his arm wrapped protectively around her…Christine turning to look over her shoulder one final time…
"Now she is lost, and I remain unheard…"
The Phantom of the Opera held the rose against his un-deformed cheek, feeling the silky crimson petals against his cold skin. One of the petals bent under the weight of a droplet of water; he was crying.
From the depths of his misery, Erik could have sworn that he felt a hand rest on his shoulder. A spot of warmth in this cold dismal hell, a flicker of light in a vacuum of pure darkness. Erik knew without looking that the hand would be small and fine-boned, with delicate white skin. An angel's hand. Christine.
Wonderful; now I'm hallucinating, Erik thought grimly. I didn't realize that using the phrase "sweet intoxication" in Music of the Night would mean that I would act as if I've been smoking opium in regard to Christine!
Yes, the voice from behind him was indeed Christine's. Am I going truly mad? Is my complete loss of hope driving me to insanity?
Frustrated, Erik swiveled to glance behind him and convince himself that no one was there. Either his sanity was truly shattered or he was wrong, for Christine Daaé was standing before him. She looked exactly like he remembered; her luxurious brunette curls tumbling down her back and shoulders, her innocent dark hazel eyes shining with concern. She was clad all in white; an ankle-length, lace-trimmed gown with a short but graceful shimmering train. Her neck and wrists were hung with jewelry made from the finest silver and precious stones. After all, she was likely a Vicomtess now.
She stood there, an epitome of virtue and divinity.
Bathed in Christine's radiance, Erik felt akin to the scum that he was so often cleaning from the edges of his lake.
She whispered, "I heard you singing."
Erik suddenly noticed that her cheeks were damp and her eyes were rimmed with redness.
"That song…it was heartbreaking."
Erik did not know what to say.
"It…it was about me?"
"Who else would it be about, Madame deChagny?" The Opera Ghost snapped, with a sting of irony in the last three words. What use was it trying to hide his bitterness when his Angel of Music, the source of his hopes and dreams and future, was promised to another man?
Christine flinched. "I'm still only Christine Daaé," she replied softly.
Erik turned back to the lake. The eerie evanescent mist stirred, roiled, and disappeared over the black mirrorlike surface. "Why are you here?"
The young singer knelt at his side. "I…I wish I hadn't…caused you so much pain…"
"I said why are you here, Christine."
"Something is wrong," she whispered.
If Erik had been canine, his ears would have perked up. Was that bothersome slave of fashion mistreating her?
"What, Christine?" Alarm crept into Erik's tone.
"Raoul's parents look down on opera singers. I even once heard Madame deChagny call me a…" Christine trailed off and shook her head. "Well, the point is…I have been forbidden to sing."
"What?" Erik demanded. "How can anyone deny you the right to your music?" He stood abruptly, catching Christine's wrist and taking her with him. Her voice was extraordinary, sublime, angelic. What sort of pompous snob thought they had the right to prevent Christine from sharing her voice with the rest of the world?
The Swedish girl bit her lip and shook her head. "I've done everything I can to convince them otherwise. But it's no use—the deChagnys don't want an opera wench for a daughter-in-law…ow!"
Erik's grip had tightened on her wrist. "You will never refer to yourself in that manner again."
"I won't…please, let me go."
Instantly Erik released her. "Did I hurt you?"
He gently took her slender white forearm and examined it for damage. Her skin was red from his unyielding grip. "I…apologize. I am not angry with you, Christine."
"I know. It's all right."
How can it be all right, Christine? What right does a demon have to touch an angel? "You should be looking for someone who will support your singing," said Erik heavily. "Any man would be a fool to turn you away." What was she doing here anyway? She never did answer his question…was this all a ruse, with the Parisian police lurking in the darkness? If they're going to kill me, so be it, he thought bitterly. Or has she come here with no betrayal or conspiracy in mind? What cruel deity willed a blameless angel like her to come to this hellish place, the lair of the Devil's Child? What travesty has this poor girl committed that she is to suffer my affections?
Christine did not reply directly to his suggestion. Instead, she brought up his song again. "That music…the song you were singing…it was so sorrowful."
"What did you expect?"
"Truly, I didn't know I had hurt you so badly. It was so touching…you saw me crying."
"I did not mean to hurt your feelings, Christine." Damn.
"Why have you been so lonely without me, angel? You have your music, your talents…"
"My God, Christine, don't call me that."
"What should I call you, then?"
"Erik. My name is Erik." He hadn't used his own name in…well, honestly, he couldn't remember when he had last heard someone refer to him as Erik. He had definitively become the Phantom of the Opera.
"Erik…it sounded as if…you had no hope without me. But I couldn't imagine you without the…ability, the gift…to compose."
"All I could write, Christine, were songs of sorrow—such as the one you heard—if anything. You were my inspiration."
"Why did you let me go, if you wanted me with you so badly?"
"You were infatuated with that young boulevardier. I couldn't force you to stay away from him, despite my own selfish desires. I heard you two singing on the roof that night."
"You did?" Christine's eyes widened, this time with surprise, and she took a step toward him. "I was sure that you would have killed Raoul if you had heard us!"
"Oh, it crossed my mind," Erik said bitterly, "it most certainly crossed my mind. But I knew you how you felt about him."
"I should have known…when you sang to me during Don Juan…I was wrong about you, then. Even more than I realized…" Christine's voice trembled. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." Another step, and she was but a few inches from him.
"I'm sorry." Gently, the young singer leaned against him, slipping her warm arms around his neck.
Erik was frozen. What on Earth was she doing? Then he realized…she pitied him. After hearing his song of pain and loneliness, she simply felt sorry for him. Her natural compassion was all that bound her to him now.
He knew he shouldn't touch her, but it didn't seem right to just stand there…
Slowly, the Opera Ghost laid one hand on Christine's back, lightly placing the other at the nape of her neck, stroking her glossy hair.
Christine sighed and turned her face into his shoulder.
She's a good actress…look at her, acting as if she's comfortable with this, enjoys it, even…
"You never answered my question," Erik noted, trying to sound normal. His voice came out unusually husky. Blast! "Why are you here?"
"I made a mistake," Christine replied brokenly.
Again, Erik said nothing.
"The life I chose…Erik, it wasn't for me."
"What happened, angel?" the masked man queried softly. "Besides their foolish command to forbid you from singing."
"I felt as if I were…incompetent, somehow. There were servants everywhere; I never had to lift a finger…"
"That must have been torturous," Erik noted dryly.
"It was! In a way…I was considered low-class if I tried to do anything for myself. If my manners weren't impeccable, it was like I'd committed a sin…and God, the corset they made me wear! It felt as though my lungs were being crushed!"
Erik snorted. "Foolish fashions…I've never understood why damaging a woman's internal organs is considered attractive…are you all right?" Christine certainly looks perfectly beautiful without a corset…and I can only imagine how difficult it would be for her to sing wearing one of those idiotic things…
"I hope so…I certainly couldn't sing. It was difficult to fully support even a few notes above middle C."
"Christine, I could have told you that a life among arrogant nobility who consider music to be inconsequential was not for you."
"It wasn't," she closed her eyes. "The worst thing, though…was what Raoul's family thought of me."
What could these pompous slaves of convention have found wrong with her that was such a travesty? "What happened?" Erik could feel his hatred for that cursed deChagny family burn like the fires of Hell deep within him. How dare they demoralize and shame his angel? Was it her fault she wasn't a member of a noble family, that she was born to sing? Damn them, curse those bastards who judged his angel for her social status, of all things! The burst of fury held in his chest growled menacingly, like an alpha wolf protecting his pack from a rabid stranger. He had to struggle not to hold Christine too tightly.
Christine leaned up, though she did not remove her arms from Erik's neck.
"I…it doesn't matter. Anyway…I've come back. To stay with you."
It was only then that Erik noticed that, over Christine's shoulder, an unfamiliar carpetbag rested on the floor; Christine's belongings, no doubt. His rage melted away, replaced by an overwhelming sense of triumph, of hope…
This feeling was short-lived. Christine was a creature of sunlight, of fresh air…here in the darkness, she would wither like a rose left un-watered. Erik suddenly had a vision of Christine, sitting limply on the bench in front of the organ, singing, her voice stunning as ever…but her skin was sallow and pale from lack of sun, her eyes dull and sunken, her frame thin and malnourished. She alone could help Erik make his music of the night…but at what cost?
"Why? Christine, why?" he queried fervently, more out of surprise than anything else.
Christine blinked in confusion. "I thought you'd be elated…Erik, don't you still…love me?"
"My God, Christine, you have no idea." Forgetting himself momentarily, Erik reached out and stroked her cheek. Her eyes began drifting shut. "Why did you resort to this, Christine?" For surely there were other options for her…and after what she said to him…
This haunted face holds no horror for me now…it's in your soul that the true distortion lies…
Christine opened her eyes, looking a bit dazed. "They thought I was a…a tramp. What I was going to say earlier…Madame deChagny called me a whore."
Erik found himself thinking of how satisfying it would be to crush Madame deChagny's neck inside his Punjab lasso. "Why? Because you are a performer, an opera star?"
"Well, I suppose that was part of it…"
"And the other part?" Where could they possibly have gotten that idea…?
Realization hit Erik like one of the pieces of scenery he was so fond of dropping on obnoxious divas. "Your involvement with me. They thought you were a whore because of me."
Christine scrambled to find a way to reword this. "No, that's not…quite it…"
Erik's mind raced. What have I done? I destroyed my own life, condemning myself to cower in darkness…but I've tainted Christine now, scarred her future…it's my fault that she has been turned out of a home, cast off by people she might have had a chance to make respect her if not for me…she has no family, no place to go. Because of me. This innocent girl, shamed and lost, because of me…goddamn it, what have I done? I've cursed the only person I love…
Erik shoved Christine, hard, so that she stumbled backwards. "Erik…!"
"Leave this place, Christine. Now."
"You will find another place to stay. With the Girys, for example." Erik stormed to the wall, where his Punjab lasso hung on a peg. He yanked it off, nearly ripping the peg out of the stone barrier in the process.
Christine cried out and her hand flew to her throat.
"Damn it, Christine, don't you know by now I would never harm you?" He moved swiftly, almost hysterically, tying the loose end of the rope onto a stalagmite, draping the center over a jutting piece of rock.
Christine understood. "No!" she screamed wildly. She lurched to her feet, raced to Erik's side.
He had already secured the Punjab around his own neck. "This won't be pretty, Christine."
"Why not?" he spat. "You said it yourself, Christine! It's in my soul that the distortion lies. Why should I deserve to live after what I've done to you?"
It had worked once; it would work again. Frantically, Christine threw her arms around Erik's neck and kissed him.
Erik's fingers went slack around the loop of his lasso. Somehow his hands found Christine's waist, back, shoulders, pulling her close to him.
Christine drew away briefly, jerking the noose clear of her mentor's neck. Erik was quicker this time; cradling the back of Christine's head in one hand, he pulled her back in, claiming her lips almost feverishly. Christine's hands reached up and tangled in his dark silky hair.
Erik had only been kissed once; by Christine, of course, on that fated day of the fire and the now-famous chandelier crash. I have no idea what the hell I'm doing, he found himself thinking. Ah, well, Christine doesn't seem to care…
He gently ran his hands down Christine's lithe frame, feeling her tremble happily.
Hmm, no, she doesn't care.
Erik and Christine remained locked in their fervid embrace for what seemed an eternity. Time seemed to slow and rest static, stopping entirely for them.
It was Christine who ran out of air first, leaning back to breathe in deeply. When she found the ability to speak, she whispered, "Please don't frighten me that way again." She laid her head on his shoulder. "I don't want to lose you."
"Don't worry, Christine." Erik caressed her lightly.
"I love you," she whispered. "What I said…I was wrong…everything you did was for me…" Christine reached up and laid her fingertips on Erik's forehead. "It is not your soul…it's your mind, you've been so lonely, so…misunderstood…perhaps if you had a companion…if I stayed here…"
"I've been more than lonely, little angel." Erik smiled grimly. "When I was five or six years old, my mother sold me to the gypsies as a carnival attraction. The Devil's Child."
"My God," Christine sighed, leaning against him once more. "I'm sorry."
"It isn't your fault, my angel."
"Still…" Christine yawned.
As far as Erik's experience went, it was always nighttime, but for Christine it was about nine or ten-o-clock.
"I'll let you sleep, then." He picked her up smoothly, one arm hooked under the insides of her knees, the other cupping her the span of her shoulders. He carried her to the black swan bed, the same way he had after he had sung Music of the Night to her, and laid her down gently on the silk sheets. He turned to leave.
"Stay." Christine pulled on his jacket gently.
"Christine…you know it's indecent for…"
"The hell with decency," she murmured. "I've had enough of manners to last me a lifetime."
"Where did a young woman learn language like that?" Erik couldn't resist commenting as he lay beside her.
She crawled over to him, lying with her head on his chest so her dark curls were splayed over his shoulders. Quietly, she began to sing.
"I alone can make your song take flight…I'll help you make…"
And Erik sang with her, "…the music of the night."
"You won't be shamed into solitude any longer," Christine whispered. "I hear you."
A/N: I have no idea what the hell I'm doing…you aren't the only one, Erik, I had no idea how to write that scene.
Definitions of some of the musical terms used in this phic:
-A malisma is a series of notes sung on one syllable.
-A cadenza is an often elaborate flourish added into an aria or other vocal piece (in the context I used anyway—it does have other definitions. For example, I get to compose my own cadenza for my French horn solo contest concerto.)
Actually, most of you probably know what a cadenza is, but I think that "malisma" isn't a very widely used term, so I decided, what the heck, I'll explain it just in case. I'm not trying to insult anyone's knowledge of music.