AN - I am re-writing this story from the beginning, and hopefully will be able to finish it. Thank you for all who have supported me so far, and I am sorry for my absence for so long. I will welcome all feedback, and at the moment I am very timid about publishing this.

Phantom was created by Gaston Leroux, and for that I will be forever grateful. M. Leroux, you have given life to a most unusual and endearing creature.

Faust was written by Gounod, and all lyrics in this chapter are his.

Here I go........

Chapter 1 – The Ascension of Marguerite

I could hear the anticipatory hum of the audience filing back into the theatre for the finale. Or, perhaps it was the thrum of nerves in my blood, pulsing through my body. My palms were sweaty, and I was full of self-doubt. Until now, I knew my voice had been pure and rich and true, just like he had taught me; and I could feel and visibly see the audience's adoration. And yet, now I was filled with great reservations as to my ability.

I also knew that he would be waiting, watching me. I did not know where from, but I knew that he always saw, and always knew what I was doing. His eyes followed me everywhere! I had to do my utmost best – no - I had to be sensational in order to make him happy. It was nothing short of what he deserved.

Oh, I felt so guilty at my indecent and unfair betrayal of him!

If he knew that I was thinking of another man……that I was planning to be whisked away by another man at the conclusion of tonight's performance… he would surely kill me! I shook my head and tried to push aside my treacherous thoughts. I shuddered at the thought.

I was going to betray him with Raoul. We were to run away to the north to be married, and to be free of this nightmare! So now, the most important thing was to make him proud! That would be my absolution. Tonight, I would reward him with my voice once more …..and that would be enough for him to live without me.

I told myself this over and over, like a mantra, as if I could actually make myself believe that he could live without me. He, who had laid himself at my feet in utter mercy and agony! He, who had kissed the hem of my dress because he was too frightened to do more! He, who had professed that he would give me the world over!

And for what? Why did he profess that he would give me the world over? Why did he lay himself and grovel at my feet? What had I, a mere understudy before him, done to deserve such splendour? What had I done to cause him to worship the ground that I walked upon? I had always wanted to ask him, and yet had never been able to find the right words to do so. I think I was simply too afraid of the answer.

"Ms Daaé, five minutes until the commencement of Act Three. You are required on stage immediately!" Came the tap at the door. I jumped at the sound, momentarily roused from my childish reflections.

I glanced in the mirror to make sure that everything was in place, took a deep breath and transformed myself into Marguerite once more. I looked at myself in the mirror, and instead of a selfish, ignorant child, I saw a tortured woman. I saw my hair, blonde and set into two plaits flowing down my body. So different from how I normally wore my hair. I saw my costume, and instead of being uncomfortable and foreign, it suddenly felt as if it belonged to me.

For I suddenly knew how it felt to be Marguerite! The man who loved me, worshipped me so much that he had sold his soul to the devil so as only to obtain my love! This was what Erik had done for me…..and this was what Faust had done for Marguerite. We were not so different, Marguerite and I. We were both shallow and self-centered, and incredibly immature and selfish.

It was with this knowledge, nestled inside me, that I floated onto stage. I was Marguerite! My voice soared to brand new heights, such that I felt as if my vocal cords had been taken over by some goddess of sound! And yet I knew within me that this was all because of Erik.

I began the Prison Scene sequence, and poured my heart and soul into the words. I sang to Erik, my tutor, my Angel, so that he would know that I did not mean to hurt him…that I did not mean to leave him. So that he would know that it was only my immaturity, my shallowness that kept me away from him and in the arms of Raoul. I sang so that Erik would know that although I longed within me to be strong enough to stay with him, I knew that my spirit would not allow it.

So, resigned to doing the only thing I thought it possible for me to do, I lifted my voice and heart to the heavens, dedicating my final aria to my Angel, for I knew that he was there, watching, waiting.

Ah! C'est le voix du bien aimée!

À son appel mon coeur c'est ranimé

Au milieu de vos éclats de rire,

Démons qui m'entourez,

J'ai reconnu sa voix!

Sa main, sa douce main m'attire!

Je suis libre! Il est là!

Je suis libre! Il est là!

Je l'entends, je le vois!

Oui, c'est toi, je t'aime,

oui, c'est toi, je t'aime,

Les fers, la mort même

ne me font plus peur!

Tu m'as retrouvé; tu m'as retrouvé,

Me voilà sauvée, Me voilà sauvée!

C'est toi, je suis sur ton coeur!

(Ah! It is the voice of my beloved!At his call, my heart is reanimated! In the midst of your bursts of laughter,You demons who are all around me,I have recognized his voice! His hand, his sweet hand attracts me!I am free! He is here!I am free! He is here!I hear him, I see him! Yes, it's you; I love you,Yes, it's you; I love you,The irons, death itself No longer make me afraid. You have found me; you have found me,See, I am saved; see, I am saved!It's you, I am next to your heart!)

For the first time, I sang the words while actually understanding their meaning. For Marguerite had entered her own madness and saw her own death, and yet above all else, she recognised the voice of Faust. It calmed her and reassured her. Just like Erik's voice did for me. Oh, poor, unhappy Erik!

The tears streamed down my cheeks. The audience stared, captivated, as if they had never seen Gounod's Faust before.

No sooner had I begun the ascension when all the lights in the theatre were extinguished! I let out a whimper, and immediately lost my balance in the murky blackness and fell to an ungracious heap of skirts on the floor. I could feel the cast around me also trying to feel their way off-stage.

I do not know why exactly, but the audience began to scream and rise from their seats in panic. An intense coldness was suddenly ejected into the air. I knew that Erik was close. I could almost feel the fire of his gaze. As I tried to get up from the floor, I suddenly felt cold, bony hands hoist me into the air. He didn't speak, and I didn't struggle at all. A foul-smelling cloth, holding that smell of death, was pushed against my face, and then I lost consciousness.