A/N: As I said before, I plan to edit my story, especially the first three chapters. Chapter 6 will remain as is, except for maybe one sentence about Daroga (I mean, I said he'd be gone a week to Persia—um, in those days, I don't think that they had airplanes that provided for such a short trip. I want him back soon, though, so... uh... that will be fixed), and I MUST fix chapter 7 with Christine and her son (thank you, flamethrowerqueen!). You may be asking, "What about it? You didn't say anything." Exactly. I had meant to, but when I edited it... I left it out. At least, there'll be some. Next chapter, you'll see more.
Anyway, you probably don't care about that right now; you just want to know who won the contest. Well... Ha! You have to wait 'til the end of this chapter to find out!!! GWAHAHAHAAHAHA!!!
Hey, for those of you who've read Leroux: which of the two managers was the music expert? I feel it is Firmin... and isn't he also the one who was more quick-tempered? I can't remember. I'll look it up, but if I mess it up, tell me.
Disclaimer: I pretty much am a nobody who is writing about Phantom. I don't own it. Alas.
The Mysterious Score and Letters from a Ghost
"And you say that there's no author?"
Olivia yawned, leaning against a wall of the stage. Oliver briefly flashed his eyes at her. She rolled her eyes and sighed heavily, walking off perhaps to find Carlotta.
Oliver turned his attention back to the thick and neatly bound score.
"Are you sure? Not even initials?"
"We've checked everywhere, monsieur! There is nothing!"
"You may inspect it yourself, if you don't believe us," Firmin said, offering Oliver the score plainly. Oliver snatched up the score quickly and began to scour the pages.
Once he finally gave up looking for any name, any initials, which was several minutes later (and he had not finished even going through the entire score), he returned the score back to Firmin. He found no answers, but he did develop a slight headache.
"You can't possibly be right," Oliver sighed, "but I have no patience to sort through the whole thing. I have other things to do today besides—I must meet with the caterers for the Masquerade, also."
"We've looked through the entire score several times since it appeared in our office late last night!" Firmin cried. "There is no name, no signature, no initials—nothing! We even had some of our other staff look through it. There is nothing!"
"Perhaps it is missing a page or so," Oliver suggested with a frown, his headache increasing in intensity.
Firmin looked at him incredulously. "Monsieur, I sincerely doubt this manuscript is missing anything. Half of the score is full of very specific performance notes, and it is very neatly bound. The author certainly is a particular fellow, and thus I doubt he would have forgotten his name in the process of making the score."
Oliver frowned, pondering to himself aloud. "Who would write an opera so detail-oriented and not even sign it?" Oliver sighed heavily. "Well, what does it matter who wrote it? One opera is as good as the next. So, do you plan on performing it?"
Andre and Firmin looked at each other too knowingly, but also incredulously. Andre sighed, not really wanting to be the one to bring up the possibility that had only been communicated in silent looks since last night.
"It does matter who wrote the score, Mr. Gauntwood," Andre began hesitantly. Firmin sighed and began to massage his temples. "Do you read music, Mr. Gauntwood?"
"No, I must confess I have absolutely no musical skill," he sighed. "I only have a love of the arts."
"Well," Andre said, taking the manuscript carefully from Firmin, "if you could, you would know that a musical genius composed this score."
"Well, aren't all who compose geniuses in a way?" Oliver commented, implying that Andre's insight was not helping.
"Oh, well, in a way, yes," Andre replied reluctantly, "but I doubt even Mozart could have written as something as perfect as this. There is only one I know of that can write so brilliant a score..."
"I was afraid this was where you were going," Firmin sighed, taking back the score from Andre. "I have to agree with you, Andre... this score is quite remarkable. What do you think this may mean?"
"He had free reign over this theatre four years ago..."
"Are you suggesting that he wants that very same thing again?"
Firmin paused blankly, thinking of the ramifications of that idea.
"Oh dear," he said, beginning to pace. Oliver frowned, perplexed.
"I'm afraid I don't know of whom you speak of," he said.
"Well, you should..." Andre turned to Firmin. "As much as I hate to admit this, I believe he has returned."
Firmin looked despairingly at Andre. "No, please, let's not say that yet. Perhaps Mr. Gauntwood is right; maybe there is a name somewhere. We just haven't looked thoroughly enough."
"We were up until five in the morning!" Andre cried. "As much as I hope to God that it is not so, all the evidence points in that direction. Oh, God," he said miserably, beginning to fidget with his hands.
"Who are you gentlemen speaking of?" Oliver demanded, becoming slightly irritable at the suspended answer.
"Oh, don't be so daft, Mr. Gauntwood!" Andre replied irritably. "It is only the Opera Ghost!"
Oliver's features suddenly dawned with the revelation. "You mean to say, the Phantom of the Opera?"
"Yes!" the two managers yelled simultaneously.
"Christine's angel of music?"
The managers frowned.
"Yes," said a woman's voice behind them. They all turned to see Madame Giry. "The very same."
"You know, I've always wondered how you know so much," Andre said with narrowed eyes.
Madame Giry stiffly headed over to the managers, not moved in the least by his suspicion.
"I found this note in Box 5," she said, handing over an envelope with a red skull as a seal on the back.
Andre and Firmin looked at each other in horror, their faces paling simultaneously.
"It is the Opera Ghost," moaned Andre.
"And I thought that that fiasco had ended permanently, and four years ago!" Firmin moaned. "I believe this, combined with the lack of sleep I had last night, is only giving me a migraine."
Andre slowly began to break the seal, but Firmin stopped him.
"Why torment ourselves now? We can pretend we never got the letter."
"Do you really think that will work in the long run, monsieur Firmin?" Madame Giry coldly asked.
Oliver sighed in exasperation.
"Why don't you just open it? Maybe it's not from this so-called ghost."
No one moved quickly enough, so Oliver snatched the letter away and opened it himself. He read it, but frowned.
"I don't understand what this fellow means by this letter," he said.
"Oh, for heaven's sakes, read it to us!" Firmin bellowed, massaging his forehead. He was still rather pale.
"Fine," Oliver said, not truly understanding the horror. Though he had heard the story of Christine's kidnapping, he had not truly known the full extent of the calamity the Opera Ghost had unleashed on the theatre. He had, true enough, also been the patron of the theatre for six months or so now, but since everyone was convinced the Opera Ghost was gone, no one had bothered to inform Oliver on what details he had missed.
"Well," Oliver began, "on the envelope, it has instructions to Madame Giry to deliver this to you, messieurs, and then all the letter says is:
'My dear managers,
Be sure to follow my instructions, and it will go well with you.
If not, then be sure that there will be war between us. I don't think we need to go through that again, do we? If we must, then disregard this letter and others to come... but be not surprised if accidents begin to happen once more should you decide to do so.
I see you have found the score of my latest work.
For the performance, I must have my seat in Box 5 empty for me again... though I have been sitting in on performances as of late, and it seems that the box now stays empty for no reason whatsoever. You theatre folk are always so superstitious.
I also noticed, with some humor, that the seats beneath the chandelier are not always full.
I also desire my salary—don't think you can dodge paying it again, messieurs! I have not asked for it for several years, but be assured, I still run this theatre. I did find your attempt at deceiving me with that safety pin trick amusing several years ago, but I received my salary all the same.
Your obedient servant,
Now, who is masquerading as me? I did not write this note, yet my initials are on it."
"You idiot!" cursed Firmin. "O.G. means 'Opera Ghost'. Oh, Andre, I think I need to sit down...this is not at all helping with my nerves..."
Andre only stood in shock. They had not heard from the Opera Ghost in four years, and now he was back. All their suspicions and fears had only been confirmed.
"Is this man immortal?" Andre marveled in dread.
"I still don't understand what this all means," Oliver said, impatience gnawing at him while his own headache grew worse. "I only know this means we have the composer's initials. Now, if someone will please stop babbling long enough to explain to me what is going on...?"
"Aren't you a relative to the Chagnys? Haven't they told you?"
"Raoul told me long ago of an incident with the Phantom of the Opera, which involved him risking his life to save Christine, and Christine spoke of it also to me once. I thought this was some random madman who was a regular in the opera crowd."
"Goodness, no!" Andre cried. "My goodness, you know nothing. Hasn't anyone told you?"
"Why don't you ask Christine, monsieur?" Madame Giry suggested.
"I would, but Christine... is not in the best state of mind right now. I don't think reminding her of the incident would be best. I only heard this Ghost kidnapped her, and Raoul saved her from him. Isn't this 'Ghost' merely a man?"
"Monsieur," Madame Giry stated, a look of light horror embracing her features. "It is not wise to speak of him, especially here. Yes, he is a man, but if you wish to speak of him, you must speak to Christine. There is a danger in having a loose tongue around this theatre."
"Yes, and we don't want any more danger!" Firmin said, completely flustered at the combination of events. "We want no more trouble with this Ghost!"
"No more accidents!" Andre added with a gasp.
"He mentioned 'accidents' in this letter," Oliver said, looking over the letter again.
"Madame, why don't you explain it to him?" Firmin suggested, though it seemed much more like an order, which it was. "Come, Andre. Let's collect his desired sum. Did he say how much, Mr. Gauntwood?"
"The same as last," she replied in his stead. The two managers gravely and slowly began to head to their office. "And I will hold my tongue. I've told you, a loose tongue is a dangerous thing to have, especially in this case."
"Oh, what good are you," he scowled. "Fine. I will speak to Christine on this matter, since none of you are mentally capable of providing any helpful answer, though I must say I do not wish to bring up such painful memories for her. Now, if you have nothing more to discuss with me, I must be elsewhere. Could someone find my sister? Oh, dear..." he said, fumbling with his gloves, "what a strange day!"
"Yes," said Erik, his eyes glowing in madness as he watched the scene below, "indeed, Oliver, it is a strange day! And it is about to get stranger!"
Erik turned around and faced the other side of the rafter. A wicked smile curled on his face. "I think I've just found your sister, Oliver. She ought to learn a lesson in prudence from Madame Giry; if she doesn't learn to hold her tongue, she may find a Punjab Lasso to be her teacher instead!"
Olivia was not a random target. Ever since she came to the opera, she had only been aggravating Erik, especially since there was talk of her becoming a prima donna one day soon, and in fact, the process was in the works. Olivia was even going to a rehearsal later today to try out for the lead in the new opera, titled Faust's Victory, but as the reader found out earlier, was not signed. But that was not the reason why she annoyed Erik so. It was the fact that she was a gossip, and did not know when to stop; nay, it was not even the fact that she was a gossip that irritated Erik to the point where he would be plotting her murder.
Surely, she did talk about Carlotta almost all the time when she was there. She would talk to the stagehands, the dancers, the ballet rats, almost anyone who would pause and listen (but she never understood why they said nothing in return, some of them even darting their eyes fearfully to the rafters every now and then—as Erik mentioned in his note, they were rather superstitious). While she excessively praised Carlotta, she had a way of insulting Christine, and these insults tended to be rather severe and cruel.
Not only this, but she had already told some people that Oliver was in love with Christine—something that provoked Erik deeply enough as it was—but she also went further and began to list all of Christine's 'flaws' and all the reasons why she did not want such a pairing, again, insulting her in every way possible, from her birth to how she was married, even suggesting that she was not pure.
She told someone once, Erik remembered, that she planned with all her might to stop such a union. Erik wouldn't have minded this idea, if only Olivia's main reason had not been because of Christine's apparent 'common' status, despite the fact that she had a higher class now since she had married a viscount.
Though Erik had the opportunity to let his Punjab Lasso go to work now, he was not going to do it now. Instead, he was going to give a warning, if only because Olivia was Christine's relation.
Ever since Christine had left him, he had neither slept nor ate, but had composed day in and day out, dwelling obsessively on Christine and Christine alone, pausing only to accept medicine that Madame Giry administered daily, and even then he was still fixated on Christine. The intensity of his devotion to her almost made him fear her, perhaps made him fear even himself, but also only made him desire her even more. He kept entertaining the thought that she would be coming to him soon, very soon, and was growing steadily wounded in his heart that she had not come already; even worse was the torturing and bitter thought that she might not come at all. She had, after all, lied to him and betrayed him in the past. He was rendered almost helpless at the thought of her; almost. He was coming to the point where if she did not return soon, he might do something drastic. He was trying still not to interfere with Christine's life as much as possible, since he had promised her that he would be 'her greatest friend,' her 'poor Erik'. It was killing him inside.
He saw Olivia down below and his heart filled with rage. He longed to let his Punjab go about its work, but in memory of Christine, he did not do it. If he murdered one of her closest relations, she might never come back to him. The thought tore him up inside.
So, limply but quickly, disgusted at his display of mercy for so vile a woman, he let the white envelope fall to Olivia's feet, which floated ever so gracefully down.
Olivia saw the white envelope falling. When she looked up, she saw a shape in the shadows. Not ever having really paid attention to the stories of the Opera Ghost, she did not think much of it and assumed it was only a stagehand.
She picked up the envelope and found it addressed to her brother. She frowned, wondering if it had been Oliver up in the rafters, since it was his letter, but that made no sense. She frowned as she tried to figure out the mystery, but she was not truly interested with who had dropped the letter, but rather what was in the letter.
She paused for a moment, furtively looking around her to see if anyone was watching. Since she seemed to be alone, she carefully broke the gothic seal and hastily read.
The contents made her blood drain. Her body began shaking violently.
"Oliver," she whispered in terror. "OLIVER!!!" she screamed, and she ran towards the stage.
Having heard her sister's cry, he quickly whisked around and saw her tearing across the stage to him, her face paler than Andre's or Firmin's.
"There you are! We're leaving, so--"
"Oliver, I don't know who your 'friend' is, but he certainly is no friend of mine!" she poured out in terror, shaking all over.
Oliver frowned in bewilderment, his headache now being a full-out migraine. "What? Who is this 'friend'? I don't know what you're--"
"I don't know who, but I just found this letter addressed to you, and when I read it--"
"You read my mail? Again?! How many times--"
"Never mind that now!" she shrieked, throwing the letter to him, which fell at his feet. "Just read it!"
Oliver picked up the letter and went over to her, even more confused, his head feeling heavy and dull with pain. "Calm down now. It's not good to get yourself so worked up."
"'So worked up'?! Read the letter, then tell me whether I can be 'worked up' or not!"
Olivia swayed violently. Oliver suddenly realized how deeply this letter had disturbed her.
"Olivia, I'll read the letter, but you must sit... you, stagehand! Bring this lady some water!... now, you must calm down. Calm down. If you don't, I'm afraid you'll faint! Please, Olivia--"
Olivia burst into tears, shivering and shaking all over. Oliver had never seen his sister so distraught before.
"Will you just read the letter, monsieur!" Andre cried. The managers had stopped dead in their tracks at the sound of Olivia's fit.
"I'm getting there!" Oliver yelled in severe irritation. "It says:
'Dear Mr. Gauntwood,
You would do best to restrain your sister's impudent tongue if you love her at all. I'm afraid if you don't, she may find herself in a predicament that would be quite harmful to her health.
And if the little snoop is reading this letter now, then let her know that she narrowly escaped that fate today only because of Christine, so she ought to go to her and kiss her feet when she sees her again, the ungrateful wretch!
Oliver frowned, his indignation mounting. "The monster! Who does he think he is? Who is this? 'P.T.O'?"
"It is another name for the Opera Ghost, monsieur," Madame Giry quietly replied, her face white.
"Opera Ghost," he scoffed, folding the letter up and kneeling to attempt to comfort his weeping sister. "This 'ghost' has a lot of nerve. It is one thing to say that a person is flawed; it is a completely different nature to threaten a person's life! Is this some sort of cruel prank?"
"The Opera Ghost does not bluff, sir," Madame Giry said gravely, fear cascading in her eyes. "Olivia, you must cease talking about Christine. Whatever you have said, take it all back. And don't roam around here alone again."
"I am allowed to say whatever I please!" she screamed, on the verge of fainting.
"I beg you, please, hold your tongue! The Opera Ghost does not tolerate much. I am sure that if you were not a relative to Christine, you would be dead by now."
Olivia became quiet with fear and severely trembled.
"Who are you to say that?" Oliver snapped angrily. "I have to agree with Andre. You know a little too much for my tastes."
"Please, monsieur, I beg you, don't question what I know," she begged.
A stagehand came with water for Olivia, who, now very sober from the thought that she might be dead right now, blankly accepted it, still shivering.
"I don't think you have a right to withhold that information from me," Oliver said through clenched teeth. "He just threatened my sister's life."
"I will say nothing!" Madame Giry cried. "I only insist that she does the same."
"If you say nothing, that only makes you his accomplice!"
Olivia gasped and began to sob again.
"Monsieur, believe me, I remain silent for her best interests. Make sure she says nothing out of line. If you so desire any explanation, I beg you, speak to Christine!"
"Wait a moment!" Oliver roared, grabbing Madame Giry by the arm. She tried to pull away with all her might. "I already told you, I don't want to drag Christine into this!"
"Monsieur, it is too late for that! Let me go, I beg you, there is nothing I can say!"
"What do you mean, 'it is too late'? Tell me!"
"Monsieur, I'll never tell! It is not my place, not my business!"
"Never!" Madame Giry cried, finally breaking free of his grasp and scurrying away.
Oliver was too bewildered and angry to take this anymore. He faced the managers.
"Is this some sort of joke? It is not funny, and my sister and I will not be treated in this way! I'm not so sure if I want to support this madhouse anymore," Oliver said, looking at the managers. "I don't want in on this joke! It's not funny to threaten someone's life! You all have a twisted sense of humor that I don't appreciate, especially since you're only going to give him his way! Have you no backbone, no shame? No wonder why Christine was so scarred! What happened to her here?"
"Mr. Gauntwood," Andre said quietly, "I hate to say this, lest you decide to walk out on us, but only Christine could fully tell you."
Oliver glared at Andre impatiently. He then sighed.
"Fine," he spat rather quietly. "I will speak with her, as much as I detest the thought of making her even more depressed. If it was not for the fact that I believe I might regret making so rash a decision, and the fact that you are all cowards, I would have stopped supporting this nuthouse today. I want to know the meaning of this letter, and I will not stop coming here until I understand fully its origins and who wrote it!"
He then turned to his sister and helped her to her feet. She was lightly sobbing now.
"Come, Olivia," Oliver said, still very cold and professional but with a softened tone for her, "we must go speak to the caterers now, if we even still wish to have a Masquerade."
Olivia glided silently to Oliver's side. With not another word, Oliver tipped his hat and the two siblings left.
Andre and Firmin looked at each other and groaned.
"I do believe my headache grew even worse," Firmin said, letting his heavy head fall into his hands.
Andre sat, stunned, for several moments. He finally replied, "I think what we need, monsieur Firmin, is a drink."
"No, Andre," Firmin corrected, "what we need is a vacation."
The two managers helped each other to their feet, for they had sat down on a flight of stairs, and then proceeded to head to their office, not to be disturbed for anything, no matter how grave, for the rest of the day. Needless to say, auditions for Faust's Victory were temporarily postponed for at least another week.
A/N: Ok, no Christine this chapter, but next... looks like things are going to forming a little differently than what I expected. There will be some interaction between Christine and her son, and then Oliver gets thrown in with Olivia... and then I'll add in something else.
Ok, but now the winner of the title contest is...Phemale! Congrats! I liked "Words Unspoken" and "A Last Requiem" best, and I think "Words Unspoken" is the winning title. The other titles submitted by KyrieofAccender, Luckii.Jinx, and phantom-jedi1 were also pretty good (thanks for entering!). If you have never read anything by these four, I whole-heartedly urge you to go there now (after you review, of course)! They're excellent.
I won't change the title yet; not until after I upload chapter 9. Then you all who are following this story have a chance to adjust to the new title. As I also said in the contest rules, you get to be a minor character in this story, but you'll be important, too. When you review, Phemale, just tell me briefly what sort of personality you want to have and a name.