Disclaimer: Please don't sue. I don't own POTO... All I own is an overactive imagination.
Summary: ErikRaoul slash (finally). Story continuation of A Mask for All Occasions. Both Raoul and Erik reach their breaking points in a life hid behind masks.
Warning(s): child abuse.
Story Points: (Hi… so a couple of things you should know before reading this fic. Like the summary says, it is a (quasi) continuation of A Mask for All Occasions, so I'd suggest reading that (although you don't technically have to), but the characterization of Erik and Raoul will be based off of those vignettes.)
Time-wise: This story occurs about a month before the masquerade.
Verse: I am kind of mixing movie and stage-verse but I am following the movie-verse for the most part, but I cannot help but diverge (you know, since it is slash).
Raoul: Unfortunately, I am picking on him again. I do not know why, but an angsty Raoul really does it for me, which means I am taking liberties with his past and family
Story time: The style of this story is actually like the vignettes, so it will have overlapping events, but not quite. Whatever, you'll see.
Pacing: This story starts slowly. It's like a snowball, but I'm really actually not sure if it'll gain enough speed to appease you all. For instance, Raoul and Erik do not actually talk to each other until the end of the fifth chapter. They do not actually have a real conversation until the seventh chapter. (that is a very long way off, but there are other interactions that are interesting)
Tone: I'm going for a completely different tone for this story. It's leaning toward dark and not the instant gratification category I would place all my other fics in. Complete 180 if you ask me, but I needed a change. I hope you like it anyway.
Done with story notes!
A/N: Sidenote… you don't really need to know for the story, but just a general note about yours truly… I'm not very good at 1st person POV because when I write I'm more of a voyeur than a role player (that sounds dirty) and as you could tell from Pass Time, I usually drop 1st person in favor for 3rd. Hopefully, I can break that habit with this fic.
salutes. I'll shut up now. On with the fic.
Unmasking the Chains
By: Lucifer Rosemaunt
I woke up slowly and reveled in the heavy feel of my body. It was the most relaxed I would feel all day and I did not want to lose that feeling already. Going back to sleep sounded like a very good idea. However, my left hand was going numb. I made my body listen to me long enough so that I could turn over to my other side. I usually avoided sleeping on my back.
Without opening my eyes, I knew it was still very early in the morning, probably before sunrise. When I was young, I had to wake up early for my lessons. The lessons actually started after breakfast, but if I wanted any time for myself to play or just read, I would have to wake up earlier than my lessons because they lasted up until dinner. So, I woke up early just to have some time when my family or my tutors would not monitor me. I could not help but love the quiet and calm the hour before dawn provided. In that not so darkness, I felt less of a prisoner. It's still my favorite time of day.
However, getting up did not seem to be a viable option. I had not been sleeping all too well these past few months. Too many changes had occurred, changes that kept me from sleeping soundly. My life had actually changed dramatically the day I became the patron of the Opera Populaire. I was not certain whether the change was good or bad, but it was definitely a change.
I… well, I began to question my life. In fact, I thought I had found my life when I reunited with Christine. She remembered me as well, and it looked like a good sign. It was probably fate. She and I would have a wonderful future together. The sigh that threatened to come out was not because of doubt, it was just… Just the thought of Christine brought back good memories of times at the beach and with her father. It had seemed at that time that the only person who wanted to cultivate me into becoming my own person was her father. Christine was open and caring. She did not care about titles either. They were the family that I had wanted. She was also the closest thing to a real friend that I had. Everyone else seemed so fake to me, but then again, I was fake, too. I began to question myself, the person I had become. It was enough to plague my thoughts constantly.
I pulled the blanket up higher and hugged the pillow beside me. Curled up in a fetal position, I tried to let the warmth of my bed lull me back to sleep. I did not want to think about that so early in the morning. Sleep. That was all I wanted. I closed my eyes and listened to the early morning sounds. I let my mind drift and just when I was almost asleep, my mother knocked loudly on the door.
"Raoul, dear," my mother said with a forced sweetness. I could just imagine the sour look on her face. She also spoke louder than she needed to just to spite me, "Can I come in?"
Before I could answer, she entered the room. I was about ready to scream in frustration. Every morning ever since I had told my family that I was engaged to Christine she did this. That was five whole months. It was her own way to show that she disapproved of what I was planning to do - this as well as the numerous lectures on the proper woman a Vicomte should marry. I was reaching my breaking point, but I would not allow her the satisfaction just yet. At least she had toned her disapproval down from the first month. After seeing nothing moving forward just yet, she settled for a passive-aggressive approach to torturing me.
"Are you going to sleep the whole day away?" She asked disapprovingly. 'Disapprovingly' seemed to be a common theme nowadays with my mother. She looked around the room and picked through my stuff.
I was about to reply that she never normally woke this early, but I decided another tactic was in order.
"No mother," I replied calmly and smiled at her. I did not seem to need to force it. It was probably because I was so used to having to smile under the worst circumstances. "I'm getting up right now."
"Hmph," she replied, "A Vicomte living in such filth. Do you not have any pride?"
I took a moment to look around my room and did not see anything out of place. The maids always took care of it and I was trained enough that I could not stand having a mess either.
I tossed the blanket from my body and immediately wished I had just told her off. This tactic left me cold and awake.
My mother scowled at me. "Hurry up, breakfast is getting cold already. I have been waiting for you for quite a while."
I nodded at her, smile still in place. I was becoming a bit worried. I should not be able to smile like this so easily. Not anymore at least. Not when I knew that I did not want to smile like this. Not when I knew that I did not have a reason to smile like this. Not when I just wanted to break under the pressure.
"I'm dressing. Please, mother, I do wish to have some privacy." I gently guided her to the door and let her out. I love her, I thought. She was just misguided. She just did not know. It was shallow comfort, but enough to get me through a day at a time.
She left without another word, though I could see another topic added to what I called 'the breakfast lecture.' The breakfast lecture was often followed by 'the mid-morning tea lecture.' Then, there would be 'the lunch lecture,' which was the longest and contained many of the same points from the breakfast and the mid-morning tea lectures. Luckily, after lunch I would head out to the opera house. There were places I could have gone to avoid the lectures, but when faced with the thoughts of having to mingle with the elitists that I was expected to surround myself with, I could not bear to do it. Anyway, I had work I could attend to at the supposed comfort of my own home in my office. Furthermore, the opera house did not need me until after lunch and I would not be a nuisance there unless I absolutely had to. The opera house was the source of my turmoil, and I had mixed emotions towards the place. Part of me wanted to go there, but another part absolutely wanted to stay away.
Behind the closed door, it felt as though I just deflated. The smile vanished completely and I felt a bit dazed. It was weird. I thought it had been so easy to smile, but now it seemed as though it had taken more effort than usual just to maintain it. I felt exhausted already. I looked at the bed and was torn between getting dressed like my mother expected me to and just going back to sleep.
I sighed. My mother would not stop at one morning wake up call. It would only give her too much satisfaction, so I decided to dress up. I went through the process on automatic mode. I had many activities on automatic mode nowadays. Dressing, eating, business… I paused briefly in thinking about my list. I did not know what was not on the automatic mode list.
I heard a familiar loud knock on the door again.
I did not know how long I had been thinking, but it could not have been that long. Still, I knew it was my mother so I yelled, "I'm coming out right this moment."
I heard her footsteps recede, and allowed her a head start to get to the breakfast nook before I got the 'pre-breakfast lecture.' I had been stupid enough to allow that one to occur before. Not again.
I headed downstairs when I thought it was safe to leave my room, though my room was hardly a haven any longer. Turning the corner to the breakfast area, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Philippe sitting at the table.
Philippe had been gone on business for a long time. He had not come with us to Paris when I had first become the patron of the Opera Populaire because he had more pressing and important engagements to attend to elsewhere. It was great to see him again. I quickly moved forward to shake his hand. Extending my hand, he stood up but simply stared at me.
I faltered. We were not the closest of brothers since our age difference, but this reception was downright cold. I looked across the table and saw my mother's smug look. It epiphanied on me that this breakfast lecture would be the worst.
Philippe had a stern look in his eyes that I had not noticed in my excitement to see him. He had not changed at all actually. He reminded me so much of what little I could remember of our father that it was disturbing and I knew that they were so much alike that they would have clashed often had my father still been alive. I had been young, barely six or seven when my father had died. Philippe had been older than I was at that time, around twenty. The fourteen-year difference always made the separation between us natural. Then, compound that with the fact that Philippe had begun to act more like a father than a brother estranged us further. Now, ten years later, it seemed nothing had changed. I had once thought that when we were older it would change. Then, when we were separated and I began to take on more responsibilities, such as becoming the patron, I thought that we would be past that stage of our lives when he had to act like a father. It seemed as though nothing had changed at all.
"Imagine my surprise," Philippe began, his voice deathly calm. I knew that calmness belied a more violent anger that I had been on the receiving end too many times when I was still but a child. He continued with the same tone, "When I receive a letter from mother stating that you are engaged to a chorus girl."
I tried not to feel too betrayed. If anyone would understand, it had to be Philippe. At least one person in my family had to understand. I knew about his indiscretions with singers, dancers and a lot with less of a reputation than those. I did not judge him about that. I did not understand how he could judge me about this.
"Marriage!" He raised his voice and it took everything in me not to cringe away like I used to as a child. I managed to reduce it to a flinch. The reaction had been ingrained in me as a youth, as so many other actions had. "You will not marry this-this chorus girl. You are a Vicomte. You will not marry beneath your station."
His reprimand somehow felt worst than my mother's did. I did not realize until that moment how much stock I put in my brother's opinion. Still, there was some hope in me. Maybe he did not realize who that chorus girl really was. I moved forward and practically implored him to understand, "It's not just any chorus girl. She's not even a chorus girl anymore. She's a prima donna," I knew I was babbling but he had to understand.
He cut me off, "I don't care what she is now. She will always be a lowly chorus girl. I just thank God you haven't announced it officially."
"It's Christine!" I practically yelled. Both Philippe and mother were staring at me strangely. I had never raised my voice at them before. "It's Christine Daae, brother," I reiterated in a softer voice. I searched his face for some sign of understanding.
Philippe replied, unfazed, "Yes, mother had included her name in the letter. That was that girl from the beach, was it not?"
"Yes," I nodded. Philippe's expression was still neutral. I could not tell what he was thinking.
Philippe shared a look with mother. Speaking to her, he said, "You were right."
I looked between them confused.
"You said we shouldn't have let him spend time with that family, but I thought it would be good for him to have friends his age while we were there," Philippe looked disappointed.
My mother nodded her head smugly.
I looked between them and felt despair. Betrayal was painful.
I would have argued for Christine's sake, but I did not think it was ever really about her in particular. It was never about the person with my family. It was about standing. I could have sung Christine's praises until my throat was raw, but I was certain they would not care. Sadly though, a part of me also did not want to even try to convince them. I felt as though it was a lost cause, and I was already starting to doubt my love for her. I was already starting to doubt the engagement, but to admit it to my brother and mother would have given the idea that I had succumbed to their views. I would not marry her out of spite for them, but I would not announce my thoughts of separation just yet.
But to hear them speak of a time of my life, which I hold so dear to me as a mistake, was beyond understanding. It was worse than betrayal. I was speechless.
Philippe turned his attention back on me, "You are to cancel that engagement. You are a Vicomte. A Vicomte, Raoul. Who are you without that title?"
And that was where the problem laid. I feared the day when I stopped playing these roles, when I stopped being a Vicomte, a patron, a fiancé, a hero because I was certain that that day would be the last day of my life. For if I was none of these things, life as I knew it would essential cease to exist. My life would cease to exist. I did not know who I was without that title without any title, but I was damn well sure that Philippe and my mother were the last people I wanted to define who I was. Not anymore.
"I know!" I raised my voice once again, fully yelling now. Philippe stopped talking and he looked a bit shocked. "I know I'm a Vicomte, Philippe. You are the Comte and I, the Vicomte de Chagny. I am also more than that."
Philippe looked as though to reply, but I cut him off before he could even begin.
"You will not be the one to tell me who I am or am not, and more importantly, you will not tell me who I will marry. I am my own person and I have upheld my position as well as you have." I emphasized the last part, and even though I felt low to bring up his indiscretions, I had not been thinking reasonably when I had spoken. It was only a subtle jibe that was brought on because of the topic at hand, and I was not certain Philippe understood what I was implying. Seeing the appalled look on his face, Philippe had caught the undertone of my words though my mother had failed to notice him falter.
We stared at each other, no words needed. Then suddenly, Philippe stormed out of the breakfast area leaving my mother baffled as to what had transpired. I was glad he had left because I had been contemplating storming out of the room myself. However, I thought that I would have lost some of my emphasis by looking as though I was running away. I had won this round, but I knew that Philippe would retaliate soon enough. I was suddenly glad that my mother was in the room. Philippe would not do anything physically to me when she was present, but there would be a time when she was not around. I did not want to be around when that time came. I never had the strength to hit Philippe back. To me, it was like hitting a parent. It did not seem right.
Instead, I grabbed a pastry from the table and left the house as soon as I could. I heard my mother try to call me, but I did not bother to slow down.
I got on my horse and rode away. Technically, I was still running away, but I felt more justified this time. I did not know where I would go. I would have to wait until a more decent hour before I would be able to really go anywhere, but being outside of the house was all I needed.
I let my horse wander wherever he wanted to and let my mind drift.
How could a homecoming be so horrible? More importantly, why couldn't Philippe understand what I was going through? True, Philippe had yet to marry anyone himself, but he had to understand wanting someone to be there for you. I wanted someone with whom I could really confide. I could not talk with my family because they were part of the problem. I had no closer friends with whom I could share my problems. Then, there was Christine. She was someone I hoped I could open up to. Someone I hoped would listen and see who I was. It was embarrassing for me to admit, but I was a romantic.
When I had been younger and my father was still alive, my mother used to tell me fairytales of handsome young princes going off to find adventure and save damsels in distress. I particularly liked those stories of fighting evil, upholding beauty and love, and finding someone that was undeniably meant for you. Someone who would automatically understand what you needed and wanted.
Most of the time, I was the prince in shining armor fighting dragons and knights and monsters. Other times, times I would not tell anyone about, I would be the person being saved. I guess I had some hold on reality even then. I knew that I was no knight in shining armor. I was no hero. I was too weak. I needed saving. I needed someone to save me from the monsters and villains. It was nice to dream that someone would.
And now, I knew for certain I was weak. I had tried to be a saviour and failed miserably. I knew Christine depended on me, but I had already failed her once. The only thing that had prevented me from saving her was a door. A door. If I could not overcome a door, I doubted my ability to save her from a man that had already killed someone in the middle of an opera. I had promised her though. I had told her I loved her and promised her. I promised her a future filled with light, filled with joy, filled with laughter. I could not provide any of that. I could see nothing but darkness, feel nothing but despair, and wanted nothing more than to cry.
After my infancy, I had only cried once in my life. It had been at my father's funeral. I could not stop crying, and nothing anyone tried to do could make me stop. However, that was also the day that Philippe started his role as my substitute father. It was the first day he beat me. He had repeatedly beaten me saying 'men do not cry' over and over again like a mantra. It was a rhythm as his fists kept falling, and somewhere in the midst of the pain, I had stopped crying. Philippe was smart though. He kept his punches to my torso so that no one could see the bruises. He beat the tears out of me forever, and even to this day, my mother knew nothing of his lesson.
That was not the only lesson that he gave though. I had scars on my back for a time when I was ten and forgot to properly greet other social elite at a gathering. The reed left welts and gashes on my back that did not stop bleeding until weeks later. He would not let anyone tend to my wounds so I had to clean it myself. That was the main reason I still had the scars to this day. I could feel it on my back whenever I put enough pressure on it. It was the main reason I never slept on my back. I tried not to feel it, but it was ever-present in the back of my mind. I had another scar running across my thigh that had been made when Philippe had been in a fit of rage. My mother had been very sick, and Philippe had been taking it particularly hard. I got in his way and all I really remember was searing pain radiating from my leg and the letter opener in my brother's hand. He tended to the wound himself and told me if I had not provoked him, it would not have happened. I believed him. My hand often drifted to lie on the scar through my pants when I was not paying attention. I pressed my hand harder into my thigh. I could feel it clearly. It reminded me of all my failings and shortcomings.
I believed I was completely at fault for everything that had gone badly in life. I believed it unconditionally until I started to doubt about everything in my life. It was the one main benefit of questioning my life so completely. It made me question how Philippe had treated me. It was in the past though. Philippe had a lot of pressure on him then. I could let it pass. It was partly my fault as well.
When my father died and my mother stopped telling me stories, I dreamed even harder, hoped beyond all reason, and desired completely that someone would save me. Philippe's lessons had only made me wish for my own knight even more.
Each of those lessons I had to endure without tears. I had not even had the urge to cry after that first beating. The thought never crossed my mind. Philippe had effectively ensured I would never cry again. Not forever though because I was reaching my breaking point. Although I could not cry, I was starting to want to. I needed some sort of release. I needed something that would be my way out. The tears would not come though.
That would have made a great impression on everyone else though – to see a Vicomte crying like a little boy. A 'boy,' that was what Christine's tutor had called me. I was not even considered a proper foe in his eyes. I did not think I was either. I did not think I was going to be able to put up much of a fight against him. In these past months, I started to believe in him completely. I had told Christine that there was no phantom, but there was no other logical explanation for it. I had heard the rumors and brushed them off. However, Christine was adamant and I could not believe she had just imagined it all. I did not believe that the opera ghost was an actual ghost but he had his own means that made him as dangerous as a ghost. He seemed to have no physical limits – none that I had seen yet at least. It was true that I could handle a sword and when it came to a challenge I would not stand down, but that did not mean I would not lose. What we were fighting with were our lives, and I did not want to lose that just yet.
Luckily, said man was off in hiding still. He had disappeared completely, and I did not know whether to be relieved or be on guard lest he was waiting for the perfect moment to show himself.
My horse stopped walking and I found myself in front of the opera house. I glared at the horse. I had not wanted to come here, but at least it was later in the morning. I dismounted and brought him myself to the stables. No one was around. It made sense since the opera house was still under construction fixing the chandelier and no one visited unless they had an appointment.
I entered the opera house hoping no one saw me. I did not know where I was exactly headed, but I tried to walk as quickly and quietly as I could to that destination. Anywhere but in the open foyer where anyone could easily spot me.
I thought I had made it unnoticed when I heard Andre yell, "Vicomte!"
Frowning, I stopped mid-stride and listened as two pairs of footsteps came closer. When they were close, I turned around and smiled genially at them.
Firmin commented, "You are quite early this morning. We were heading to the office just now and saw you."
Andre leaned forward grinning conspiratorially before loudly whispering, "Were you heading in or out?"
I forced my smile wider, "I was just heading in."
Firmin gave Andre a dirty look and a nudge, but let it pass. Andre straightened up and shrugged his shoulders, "Well, that's just as good too. Did you need anything in particular? You do not usually come until later."
"I didn't have any other previous engagements today and I decided to try and spend some time with Christine," the lie slipped easily past my lips. I could not tell them I was running away from home.
I noticed the look they shared between them. I had almost forgotten that Christine had wanted to keep our engagement a secret. Maybe she had doubts as well. At least, I had not said fiancé. It did not matter anyway. The managers already thought I had a fling going on with Christine. They had said as much when the notes had been sent. I did not bother to care what they thought though. However, there did seem to be an advantage to Christine's secrecy. If I broke off the engagement now, no one else would know about it.
"I see," Firmin replied, his eyebrow raised. He cleared his throat before continuing, "We have some papers that we would like you to look at. Some of the documents for the masquerade we spoke about last time. We need some funds to be approved and signed by you."
Hearing my cue, I began to walk again and as expected they followed along, "Sorry gentlemen, but it is still quite early in the morning. Shall we conduct our business at some appropriate hour? Maybe after lunch?" I offered. I had immediately gone into business mode, and my tone said that I was not making a suggestion. I did not mind this role so much. As the patron, I at least had some control and standing. I also had a knack at running a business. It all seemed so logical to me.
"Okay, then later," Andre and Firmin stopped walking and let me go on.
I relaxed as I listened to their footsteps receding. I slowed down, too. I had been walking briskly just to get away, but I was really in no rush anymore. I finally decided to go to my box and just sit there until I was actually needed. I just wanted some alone time. Having my destination, I headed there when I passed some of the ballet dancers.
I did not know their names even though Christine often spoke about them. Like a proper gentleman, I stood to one side of the hallway and bowed as they passed. They giggled to each other and scurried away.
I continued down the hallway, but I could hear them as they spoke to each other.
"He's so handsome," one said.
"And he's the patron, so that means he must have a lot of money," another added.
"Yes, he's a Vicomte. Of course he has a lot of much money."
"I would marry him."
One scoffed, "You'd marry him even if he wasn't handsome. It's all about money."
"The rich have such bad personalities though. He doesn't seem much better."
"I would still marry him…"
I missed the rest of the conversation when they finally turned a corner. I was used to being spoken of behind my back, but for some reason, this annoyed me greatly. I felt agitated and could not help but feel distressed about it. I understood that I had title and money, but I hated being lumped in such a stereotype as all rich people having bad personalities. They knew nothing about me, and still they were judging me.
I suddenly wanted to see Christine. I needed to see her. She would not judge me like that. She would talk with me, and I would feel better. I had to feel better. I was only feeling like this because no one saw me. No one looked at me without seeing someone else. Christine would not do that. It was why I loved her so much. I hoped that she would not be like that.
In these past five months, we had not acted any different from friends. Of course, Christine would speak about marriage in a voice that did not sound quite excited but sounded like she was trying to sound excited. We had not even kissed again. The first time I tried, she turned her head so I kissed her cheek. Now, I pecked her on the cheek every time we parted, but nothing more. She did not ask and I had been waiting for her to say it was alright. It was awkward and I no longer tried to kiss her. I doubted her love for me just as I doubted my love for her. Could I love her when I did not even know who she really was? When I did not know what she was thinking? When I did not know who she saw when she looked at me?
I tried though. I tried these past five months to be everything she wanted of me. I listened to her. I tried to learn everything about her, but she would never talk of anything beyond frivolities. It was either because she knew nothing else, which I highly doubted, or because she did not trust me enough. She did not think I could understand. I had tried to talk to her about it, but she would just continue to talk as though I had not spoken at all. I did not think she had once asked anything about me these past months. She had not asked what had happened after we had parted. Although I knew her biography by now, I knew she was concealing facts from me. She 'accidentally' left out the part when she first met the opera ghost and I did not bother to ask her to elaborate. If she wanted to keep secrets, I did not want to force them out of her. She did however reference him when she spoke of her tutor, though she never did specify that it was him. It was probably because her tutor and the opera ghost were separate in her mind. I did not correct that thought though I thought differently.
I was thankful that we had to restrict our meetings for about an hour after lunchtime because it seemed as though Christine could talk nonstop for hours. I did not mind. She would smile and laugh and I would be able to forget about my worries for a while. As long as she was happy, I thought I could be happy too. I wanted the best for her, but I started to doubt whether I was the person who would make her the most happy. It pained me but when she spoke of her tutor, her eyes lit up in a way that it never did when she saw me. I did not know whether it was because of the music or something else, but it was a look I wanted someone to have when they thought of me.
I did not know what to do. I could not remain engaged to her, but I was still reluctant to lose this title. I could not give up being a fiancé just yet. Something had to push me forward.
I had rushed to her room and knocking on the door, I heard no answer. I knocked again, a little worried. With the thought that she could be in danger, I entered the room. No one was in it. It made sense that she would be out having breakfast or doing other things. I could not help but feel silly for my irrationality. My paranoia was starting to catch up with me. I would have to be a little more trusting. We were free. The opera ghost was nowhere in sight and I still had time to ponder my next step. I sat down and decided to wait for her. I had initially wanted to be alone; at least I could spend this time to just think.
word count: 5,615
A/N: Don't forget to R/R (Read and Review)!
That was pretty long, right? I was trying very hard to make it interesting since I was being mean to Raoul. I think that is all I needed to say. Oh, wait.
I'm thinking of finding a beta because I was re-reading some of my other fics and there are mistakes that are so blatantly obvious I definitely should have caught them. I tend to glaze over when I re-read my stories. I don't know. I've always been a little iffy about it. What do you think? It wouldn't hurt, but would it really be worth it? I usually write a chapter throughout the week piece by piece whenever I find the time and on the weekend cement it down then post it. I re-read it every time but I still miss things. I would not want the wait time between sending it to someone and posting. I don't know though. If you think my typos are horrible, then maybe I'll consider it. I would appreciate feedback on this.