Each of these short stories is about point in the 2004 POTO movie where a change could send the story in a new direction. So assume everything is just like the movie, up to the point where each story starts. Each story is then a "divergence" from the original movie.
"Who was that shape in the shadows, whose is the face in the mask?"
She awoke in a beautiful swan-shaped bed to the quiet notes of a music box. The sheets beneath her were the softest velvet, a deep crimson that contrasted with the black lacquer of the swan's feathers. Golden pinpricks of candlelight shone through the delicate filigree of the black lace curtains drawn around the bed.
She sat up, reaching for the tasseled silken pull to raise the curtains. She got out of bed slowly, her gaze taking in the rough stone walls, her bare toes sinking into the soft furs covering the floor. She ran a hand through her tangled curls, the sleeve of her dressing gown catching on the beading of her corset.
Music, low and haunting, called to her from the arched opening to the room. She walked through it slowly, seeing once again the mist-shrouded lake, the hundreds of candles, the boat. The music caressed her, the notes swirling around her, beckoning her. She turned her head toward the sound and the sight of her beautiful Angel filled her eyes. She called to him.
He turned toward her, his fingers pausing on the keyboard of the pipe organ. The expression on his face was one of shy wonder, as if he could not believe she was there. Returning his attention to his music, he began to play once again, just for her. The sound soaked into her pores, flowed through her veins, all of him becoming all of her.
Like Pandora to her box, she was drawn to him, the brightest treasure in the room. She laid her hand on his shoulder, feeling his heat through his clothes, feeling him shiver. She touched his bare cheek, stroking her fingers over his soft skin. His eyes closed and he tilted his face up toward her, caught in the same spell she was.
Gently, ever so gently, she lifted the mask.
With a crash and a roar, it started again. She lay sprawled on the floor, the spell broken. Hand to his face, he howled in pain, cursing her. Tearing the cover from a mirror, he gave her a second glance at what lay beneath the mask before he clapped his hand to his face again. Storming away from her, he knocked over a tall candleholder with a clatter. He stopped at the edge of the lake, his back to her as the sound died away.
Tears filled her eyes as she sat up, the connection between them not completely severed. Fear wrapped icy fingers around her heart, but it was his fear, his pain she felt. He turned toward her, begging, pleading, yet at the same time reviling himself.
"...loathsome gargoyle...monster...repulsive carcass...beast..."
Each word was a shard of glass, cutting his soul, slashing deep into her heart.
Words exhausted, he finally sat on the stone steps an arm's length from her. Still covering his face with his hand, he kept his head down, his body rocking back and forth.
She gazed at him, tears running freely down her face. He stretched his left hand toward her, palm open in supplication. She stared at it, then at him. He ducked his face away from her, his uncovered eye downcast, as if he could not bear to see her reaction.
She looked at the mask she still held, then once again at his outstretched fingers. Carefully, tenderly, she laid her hand in his, closing her fingers around it. She felt his shock travel up her arm like a bolt of lightning.
His head came up slowly, a mixture of fear and curiosity in his eye. She moved across the small distance separating them, leaving the mask behind. A tear slid down his face. She felt him shaking, heard the harsh rattle of his breathing over the pounding of her heart.
Gently, she grasped the fingers covering the right side of his face. As caught up in her as she was in him, he did not resist as she pulled them away. He simply waited, trembling. She caressed his damaged cheek, leaning her forehead against his, breathing him in.
"Christine..." It was a plea, a prayer, a thanksgiving. He had been alone in the dark and she had lit a candle.
"Angel..." It was a declaration of friendship, of hope, of love. She had been wandering and he had called her home.
Arms around each other, they held on, both knowing they would never let go.