Meg Giry gazed up at the Opera house. A year and a half had passed since the incident with the Phantom. Since then many people had been too afraid to go near it for fear that the Phantom still lived there. Meg of course thought it was ridiculous. From what she'd heard he had been nothing more than a misunderstood man, at least that's what her mother had told her.

"Will I be able to start dancing again, Mother?" asked Meg. Madam Giry smiled and stroked her daughter's hair.

"Of course, my dear," she said. "The Opera house has been repaired enough that we can move back in. But rehearsals won't start until next week."

Meg felt her excitement build up as she went inside. The excitement died when she heard a familiar voice complaining to the managers.

"If you think for one minute that I am going to sing here again you are out of your minds!"

Meg wasn't surprised to see Carlotta when she rounded the corner. The woman still wore her horrible red hair up with two maids nearby holding her poodles.

"Madam," pleaded Monsieur Andre. "The incident was a year and a half ago. Miss Daae is married to the Viscount de Changy, the Phantom is long gone, and we have no Prima Donna. If you were to sing for us again you wouldn't have to be afraid of anyone trying to make you drink alum or drop curtains on you."

Meg smirked at her mother. She knew Carlotta wouldn't be able to resist taking Christine's place. Carlotta looked thoughtful before smiling and turning to the managers.

"Since the Phantom and Miss Daae are gone then I suppose I cannot refuse!" she said sweetly. But then her face turned sour. "But I have no hair dresser! She ran away after the incident telling me to dress my own hair! Do you think I want to work with this?" She held up her hair angrily.

Meg looked at her mother. She didn't why she was doing this, maybe because she felt sorry for Carlotta, knowing that she had lost Piangi. Timidly she approached the group.

"Pardon me," she said with a curtsy. "But if Madam Carlotta is in need of a hairdresser, I would be willing to take the job. You don't have to pay me, just as long as my mother and I can still work here."

The managers were surprised, Madam Giry was proud of her daughter's kindness. Carlotta reached out and raised Meg's chin. She scrutinized the girl's face before letting go. Then she took hold of one of Meg's hands.

"She is young and pretty, she has pretty hands too," said Carlotta. "If you insist, little Giry, then you may have the job!" The Prima Donna turned to the managers. "Double Madam Giry's salary and pay little Giry four crowns."

Madam Giry was just as surprised as Meg was at the Prima Donna's kindness. Once they were gone Meg hugged her mother.

"That'll be more than enough to get everything back together, Mama!" she cried. Madam Giry smiled as she led her daughter to their old dorm rooms.

"Indeed," she said. "Apparently the incident affected everyone more than I thought." There was a far away look in her eyes. Meg thought she saw a tear roll down her cheek.

"Mother, are you alright?" she asked. The older woman wiped her eyes.

"I'm fine," she said. "Come; let's get you into some better cloths."

Later that evening Meg couldn't sleep. So many things bounced around in her mind. Coming back to the Opera house, volunteering to be a hairdresser for Carlotta, and then practicing her old ballet moves. But something else tugged at her mind. Why had her mother looked so sad? Through out the whole trip through the Opera house, Madam Giry had been looking every which where, as though looking for something. 'Or someone,' thought Meg.

As their exploration continued Madam Giry looked sadder and sadder. By the time they went into the Mess Hall for supper she looked so sad that Meg thought she would burst into tears. Instead she excused herself and went straight to bed. Meg had wanted to talk to her mother about it, but the older woman was already asleep.

"What made you so upset, Mama?" Meg whispered to herself. "Everything's back to the way it should be. Well, almost everything."

She was sad that Christine wouldn't be there, but she had good reason not to be. Being at the Opera house would only make her remember what happened. Remembering would make her upset. And that wouldn't be good for the baby.

"It's strange to think of you as being a mother," Meg had said to Christine the last time they had met. "Will it be a boy or a girl?"

"I don't know," said Christine. "If it's a boy Raoul wants to name him Augusto."

"And if it's a girl?" Meg asked with a cheeky smile. Christine smiled back.

"If it's a girl her name will be Aaralyn," she said. "Because it means 'with song.'"

Meg secretly hoped that the baby would be a girl, for Christine's sake. The poor girl needed a break after all the pain men had put her through.

Her thoughts were interrupted when the faint sound of music reached her ears. It was so faint that she wouldn't have heard it even if she'd whispered. The instrument was an Organ. But where was it coming from? A thought struck her. 'What if it's the Phantom? It's the middle of the night; I could go down and see him.'

Feeling excited, Meg put on her bathrobe and slippers before slipping out of her room and going down the hall to Christine's old room. When she got there the music was a little louder. It was almost as though it was pulling her in, seducing her with its spell. Meg pushed back the mirror and walked through the hidden passage way. The music guided her. She kept walking until she reached the river. A boat with an oar sat by the side walk. Meg got into the boat and very carefully started paddling along the river. Candles were lit every where, making the place look dark and mysterious. The music was so loud and unmistakable that it was almost as if Meg were standing next to the player.

She came to an opening where a gate had once stood. Meg gasped. There was the Phantom's home! It was cleaned up of the broken glass, making it look fresh and new. And sitting at the Organ, with his back to her, was the Phantom of the Opera himself. His brown hair was combed back neatly, his skin glowed pale in the candle light, and half of his face was covered with a new white mask.

Meg froze. She knew he didn't know she was there. 'Perhaps it would be better if I didn't stay,' she thought. 'After all he doesn't know me, and it's impolite to enter other people's places uninvited.' She was about to turn the boat around and paddle back when the gate slammed shut. Meg gasped in fear. A hand grabbed her arm and pulled her out of the boat, dragging her on shore.

"And just where did you come from?" asked the Phantom.

Meg's jaw quivered. "I-I"

"Yes?" The Phantom whispered with the tone of someone getting very annoyed.

"I'm sorry, monsieur Phantom!" Meg managed. "I heard your music and-"

The Phantom held his black gloved hand up to stop her explanation. "Well then you should stay as my guest little Giry"

"How do you know who I am?"

The Phantom turned slowly. "I know far more than I am given credit for, Meg"

Meg knew that this man had to know her mother more than just by what he heard through the walls. Though he did give new meaning to 'the walls have ears'. At this Meg almost laughed. Almost. The phantom led her to a large chair near the piano. "Sit" He commanded. She sat.

The Phantom settled himself back at his piano bench and began to play. His fingers danced over the keys far faster than Meg had ever seen. "Monsieur? May I asked, what is your name? I can't just guess that your mother named you 'the phantom'."

He turned to her a moment then said, "Erik"

"Erik" Meg repeated. "It is a very nice name. It suits you well"

For the first time since he had started playing the music, he stopped. "Do you always talk this much?"

Meg blushed crimson and didn't speak again.

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Antoinette Giry woke up around midnight. She rolled over and glanced at the bed next to her's expecting to see Meg but Meg wasn't there. "Meg?" Madame Giry called. "Meg?"

There was no response.

Antoinette got out of bed, pulled a bathrobe over her nightgown and set of for her daughter. She checked high and low for Meg but she couldn't find her. Finally the last room to check was the Prima Donna dressing room. The door opened with a squeak. "Meg?" Antoinette called. She saw the mirror opened. "Oh no" she whispered as she walked towards it. When she reached the river she found no boat. She walked the thin railing around the edge of the river all the way to the far side of the lake. Everything had been repaired.

'They have to be here somewhere' Antoinette thought. She toke a deep breath. "Erik"

"Long time, no see, Annie" Erik said from the doorway to his room.

"Where is she?" Antoinette demanded.

"The snoop you mean?" Oh how Erik loved to pick on Antoinette. She had saved him but she was still younger than him by nearly 3 years.

"I mean my daughter, Erik" Antoinette was in no mood for his jokes. "If you have laid on hand on her I swear I will-"

"Calm down, Annie" Erik said. "She's asleep."

Antoinette rushed past him into his room. Meg lay on the bed, sound asleep. The old women ran her fingers through Meg's blonde hair. "Sweet dreams, ma petite"

"Shall we catch up while she sleeps, Annie?" Erik asked.

Antoinette left the room and walked to the chair near the piano. "As soon as she wakes we are leaving Erik"

"Very well" Erik said. "Then we'll talk till she wakes" Antoinette just nodded. "So what have you been up too?"

"I have been trying to find a way to make money since you sent this opera house under"

"I did no such thing!" Erik leaned against the end of the organ. "I didn't put anything under."

"You did with that little fiasco with Christine" Antoinette said. "And with that stupid chandelier setting the whole opera house a blaze"

"You don't know it was me!"

"I'm not stupid! I watched you cut the line to the chandelier!" Antoinette didn't buy for one second that Erik hadn't planned the chandelier to crash into the stage.

Erik couldn't respond to that. He merely crossed his arms and pouted like a little boy. "My you never did grow up, did you Erik?"


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