PART 31 – UNCERTAINTY
The Phantom, now fully refreshed after his sleep, paced back and forth behind the dressing room mirror as he excitedly waited for his angel to arrive for her lesson. It wouldn't be long now and she would be here and he would get to hear that wonderful little voice of hers, although he could barely call it little anymore for her voice had grown so much in the past few years that it was bigger than even she herself.
His heart skipped a beat as he saw his angel nervously walk into the room.
"Angel, what is wrong?" he asked softly, noticing her nervous anticipation.
"Carlotta's hair caught fire today" she mumbled hurriedly, as if wanting the conversation to end as quickly as possible.
She started fiddling with her thumb and looked down, knowing that what she was about to say would make her angel very angry. She hated to make him angry for his voice when angry was enough to chill her soul and she couldn't bear to disappoint her angel. After all, he had done so much for her over the years, not only being the angel of music that her father had promised her but oh so much more. A friend, a guardian and an inspiration, he was all these things to her.
"Really?" the Phantom drawled "Are they all blaming it on that mythological Phantom you were speaking of?"
"Yes, they blame everything on him" she shrugged "If someone forgets the song lyrics, it's the Phantom's fault, if someone spills something, it's the Phantom's fault, if someone trips over, it's the Phantom's fault"
"I see" he smirked from behind the glass. From what Christine was saying, it seemed that the Opera Populaire didn't need him to cause accidents, they could quite easily inflict them on themselves"
"And yet…" she uttered throughtfully "…I am starting to wonder myself angel…."
"Surely not" the Phantom felt his heart beat faster, as he tried to think of a way to convince of his non existence "You seemed so sure that it was all nonsense contrived by overactive imaginations"
"Too many accidents" she shook her head "Someone or something must be behind it all"
"If all the accidents seem to be targeted at Carlotta as you say they are, then you don't need to worry" he prayed that he could reassure her, the last thing he needed now was for her to discover that he was the dreaded Phantom of the Opera and to lose all faith in him.
"But you are planning to make me into Carlotta!" she nervously pushed a strand of hair behind her ear "What if he takes a disliking to me being the Prima Donna? What if he inflicts on me what he has on her?"
"Firstly I am NOT making you into Carlotta" he spoke harshly "and secondly, that would never happen, no one could possibly take a disliking to…"
"I can't do it" she shook her head anxiously "I'm sorry angel, I just can't"
"You can Miss Daae" the Phantom urged "The future is looking so good for you, and it all starts here and now"
"No" she turned away and headed for the door "I….I'm sorry"
"Don't you dare!" the Phantom bellowed "Don't you dare give up on me! Not now! Not when we are so close"
"Oh Angel, I can't go through what Carlotta is going through" she pleaded as she stood with her back against the door "Please don't make me go through that"
"Have you ever seen this Phantom?" he took a deep breath and softened his voice, trying to remember that a temper would not do him any good now. He needed to make her feel reassured and calm, not frighten her into submission "Do you even know what he looks like?"
"No I've never seen him but…" she cast her thoughts back to the endless stories told to them all by Buquet "…it is believed that he wears a mask to conceal a hideous disfigurement"
The words 'hideous disfigurement' shot through this heart like a flaming arrow as he desperately tried to think of a way to convince Christine that she had nothing to fear from the notorious Phantom.
"But you have never seen him, so you have no need to worry" he explained gently "As far as you are concerned, he does not exist"
"But nothing" he spoke firmly "I will not let you give up on me, never!"
"I…I…" she stammered, frightened by his insistence
"Enough talking, time for singing, we have so much to do" he strived to continue
"Angel, I'm frightened" she whimpered
"Sing" he spoke firmly but quietly
"Sing" he hated to see her looking so upset, but he needed to get her to rehearse immediately. They had so little time and he knew that when the moment came, she would not let him down. He wouldn't allow it.
"But what if...?"
"SING!!!!!!" he bellowed, finally losing his patience
Instantly, she sniffed and wiped away a tear and closed her eyes and started to sing. As she did, the Phantom could see her tensed up, stiff shoulders start to relax and second by second, her voice grew in strength and confidence.
Christine closed her eyes, and let herself become totally immersed in the song. As she sang, she was vaguely aware of all that had been troubling her before, simply evaporating away into thin air. It didn't matter anymore, nothing mattered but the encouraging sound of his voice.
"Wonderful!" he smiled contentedly as her voice magically weaved its way around her cadenza "The angels are smiling down on you Christine Daae"
Suddenly, she opened her eyes and stopped, right in the middle of the cadenza and bit her fingernails, deep in troubled thought.
"Why have you stopped?" the Phantom frowned, mildly irritated that the song had been interrupted with her silence.
"I just…." She frowned thoughtfully "I never know how long I should make the cadenza last, I am so worried that I will take too long over it or even worse, disappoint people by making it too short"
"Don't sing with your mind, sing with your heart and soul" he reminded her "You are thinking too much about it"
"So you think I should just…?"
"Just sing it" he smiled "Here and now, sing it for me"
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath and started from the beginning of the cadenza, starting off quietly.
"More!" his voice seemed to sound from inside her head as she sang a little louder.
"Sing for all the years I have been coaching you" his voice rose as did his excitement at seeing her totally lose her mind and soul in her singing "Sing for your father! Sing for your glorious future my angel of music!"
She sang higher and higher as he encouraged her and felt so giddy with excitement and confidence that she thought she might float off into the air.
As she ended her cadenza, she dizzily stepped back and flopped into a chair.
"My angel that was perfect" he spoke excitedly while trying to sound calm all at the same time.
"I feel so….." Christine struggled to find a word to describe all the physical and emotional things she was feeling right now.
The only feeling she could liken this to was that of love, that childish tickly tummy kind of love that she had felt for Raoul all those years ago. She felt sick, excited and wildly inspired all at once.
"Oh I want to sing it again!" she clasped her hands together in glee
"No not now" he longed to hear her voice of course but it was important that she save her energy for she was very soon going to need it.
"Oh but angel, I feel so alive!" she twirled around happily "Why must we stop now?"
"You need to sleep now" her angel's voice instructed "You need to be prepared for anything that might come your way"
"Like what?" she smiled curiously
"Anything" he spoke teasingly "Just be ready for anything Miss Daae, who knows what will occur, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week but definitely before the debut performance of Hannibal, of that you can be sure"
"But that's in a week!" she spoke excitedly "Are you sure I am ready? And how….?"
"Goodnight angel" she listened as his voice faded away into the night and slowly turned towards the door.
A million exciting and scary thoughts ran through her mind as she turned the doorknob and walked out into the corridor. She stopped for a second as she considered her angel's words. Without looking up, she went to move away, so engrossed with the many questions whirling around her brain, that she didn't even see Emilie before she walked right into her.
"Emilie!" she cried out, startled
Christine inwardly started to panic as she wondered just how long her friend had been there, and just what she had heard. Had she heard all that had just passed between her angel and herself? Had she heard her sing?
Christine's concerns were confirmed in the panic stricken eyes of Emilie, who seemed to be struggling to know what to say.
"Oh Emilie, I am so tired!" she yawned and quickly walked down the corridor towards their dormitories, eager to escape the bombardment of questions that she knew Emilie would want answers to.
"No Christine, please wait, I need to talk to you" Emilie quickened her pace to try and catch up with Christine
"Not now Emilie, I really do need to sleep"
Christine walked hurriedly for the rest of the way to the dormitories and quickly got into bed, pulling the sheets tightly over her head in the hope that Emilie would not attempt to talk to her further. She hated to have to push her friend away like this but she just couldn't deal with this now, especially as she didn't know exactly what Emilie had just heard.
When she finally did enter the room, she made no attempt to walk over the Christine's bed, she simply got into her own bed, across the room from Christine.
There was an unmistakable edge of concern in Emilie's voice as she reluctantly sank down into her bed and pulled her sheets up around her, to keep warm.
As time passed by, Christine was relieved to hear Emilie's snoring which confirmed that she clearly wasn't going to trouble her with any more questioning tonight. She snuggled into her bed, getting comfortable and when settled, allowed her mind to drift off into a peaceful sleep in which she dreamt of music, happiness and her angel.