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Disclaimer: Characters that I do not own are: Erik, Christine, Meg, Madame Giry, Daroga/Nadir, Andre, Firmin.
A Note to Readers: This is not a story you can skip to the last chapter on and understand, if you do this you will be EXTREMELY confused. I know it shouldnt need to be said, but i know people that do this when reading a book/fanfic so I just thought i would say it. Anyway, enjoy this sequel to 'What Lies Beneath' (if you have not read 'What Lies Beneath' then do not worry, but you will understand this story more easily in places if you do). Enjoy the story...!
Chapter 1- Homecomings
A carriage pulled into a driveway and stopped in front of a rather large thatched cottage. "Whoa!" The coachman called and the horse pulling the carriage came to a halt. He jumped down and went to open the carriage door.
"Merci." The passenger thanked the coachman as he stepped out. The passenger was wearing a grey linen suit with a long black overcoat. He had very dark brown, almost black, hair which was slicked back and he had bright emerald eyes which stood out against his dark hair.
The young man in the grey suit reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet.
"How much do I owe you?" He asked.
"15 francs please sir." The coachman replied.
"Here you are. Thank you for the trip." The young man said gratefully, handing him 15 francs, which the coachman pocketed and then went to climb back onto the carriage.
As it pulled away the man let out a sigh and walked up to the door, removing a key from his pocket, putting it in the lock and turning it.
"Mother? Father? I'm home." A voice called into the house as the front door was opened.
"Bonjour Jacob." A female voice replied. "How did it go? Did you get the job?"
The 18-year-old boy took off his overcoat and hat and hung them up. Turning around, he saw the person to whom the voice belonged standing in front of him.
"Bonjour Caroline." He said, giving his sister a hug.
Caroline was Jacob's age. She was wearing a long white dress, her hair was a deep brown, long and wavy and her eyes were a deep sapphire blue, which always gave a warm and friendly look.
"So did you get the job?" She asked him again excitedly.
Jacob chuckled. "I will tell you all about it later, are mother and father in?"
"Well I think mother went out for a walk, and father was playing his piano last time I heard."
"Just as always. So what are you doing here? I didn't expect you to be back home." He asked her curiously.
"Well I was coming to pay a visit, we have been given a day off from practicing our performance and Zurie felt a bit under the weather, so she was sent home and I'm filling in for her as I'm her understudy." Caroline explained.
"So…" She continued. "How did my brother get on? Did you get the job or not?"
God she is persistent, well I had better tell her or she will be annoying me for ages. "Alright Carrie, I got the job."
Carrie squealed and threw her arms around her brother. "Oh mother and father will be so pleased, oh well done!"
"I will tell all of you about it tonight." Jacob replied.
"You mean tell us how your interview went and what your job consists of?" A deep voice came from a doorway. It was Erik.
"Yes father, Jake got the job. Isn't that great news?" Carrie cut in.
The figure from the doorway emerged, he was dressed in black, his hair was slicked back and he had a toned build.
"Indeed, congratulations son. Your mother is going to be very proud." He walked up to Jacob and embraced him.
"Merci father" Jake said.
"Well I dare say we have a bit of catching up to do. Come on through both of you." With that the man turned and headed off to a door on the left, his son and daughter following him.
"So do you know how long mother is going to be?" Jake enquired.
"She went off with Meg for a walk. I have no idea how long she will be but I hope she will return home shortly. She will want to know how you are Jacob." He replied.
They entered the living room and sat down. However Carrie quickly got up again. "Sorry, would you both like some tea or a bite to eat? Jake you must be tired from your journey, I'm sorry."
Jake smiled. "It's alright Carrie, but a cup of tea would be nice thank you."
"What about you father?" Carrie asked. "Would you like anything?"
"No, I am fine, but could you feed the cats please?" He requested.
"Yes of course father." She replied and went out of the door, leaving her brother and father to talk.
Carrie boiled the kettle, and then went to place some food in the cats' bowls.
"Porsche! Toulouse! Berlioz! Minouche!" She called. Sure enough four black cats came streaking into the kitchen, heading straight for the bowls.
The kettle boiled. Carrie poured the tea out for her brother and then she heard a door open and two voices chatting.
She headed out toward the front door. "Hello, Mother, Meg, how was your walk?" Carrie asked.
"Hello Carrie." The woman who looked exactly like her but an older version replied giving her a gentle embrace.
"Oh, Jake is home, he is in the living room with father The kettle has just boiled, would either of you like a cup of tea or coffee?"
"Oh, a coffee sounds very nice, thank you." Meg, who was slightly shorter than Carrie's mother, Christine, replied.
"I will have the same if that's alright with you?" Christine said.
"Yes, it's fine, I will bring the drinks out in a moment." Carrie replied and headed back into the kitchen.
"Well as long as you're happy with this job, then that's all that matters." Erik said cheerfully.
"I am happy with it father, I start in a week and I don't regret it."
Christine and Meg opened the door and entered the living room. "Jacob!" Christine cried. Jake stood up and threw his arms around his mother.
"Hello mother." He whispered as he was squeezed tightly. "Are you alright?"
"Oh, I'm fine, thank you." Christine replied.
"What about you Meg? You seem to be keeping well." Jacob asked Meg as Christine let go of him.
"Oh I'm very well thank you Jacob, Michel asks after you often." Meg replied.
Michel was Meg and Byron's son, and he was the same age as both Carrie and Jake and grew up with them. Recently he had gone off to work in a factory and so rarely saw them.
"Tell him I hope to see him soon." Jacob replied.
"You must come over to dinner sometime, both you and Carrie." Meg said politely.
Christine walked over and took a seat by Erik while Meg and Jake sat down on the other sofa opposite.
"So what happened?" Christine asked.
"Well they simply asked me a few questions and I got the job, apparently they were very pleased with my résumé." Jake told his parents and Meg.
"Well as long as you're happy then we are too." Christine told her son proudly, glancing at Erik and wanting him to show his support.
Erik didn't say anything just gave a polite nod to show that he agreed. He had already told Jake he was pleased for him. He didn't feel he needed to say it again.
At that point Carrie came in carrying one of the silver trays with three cups, a cute china teapot and a selection of homemade biscuits, which she had made earlier, on it. She set the tray down on a table nearby and handed Meg and her mother a cup while she let the tea cool down.
"Before you say anything father…" She said as she gave Meg her cup. "…the cats are fed."
Erik smiled and chuckled at his daughter, she could read him like a book.
"I know you have. That's why they are not in here yowling at us to be fed." He replied, still chuckling.
The four cats were the Grand kittens of a cat also called Porsche that he had rescued as a kitten around twenty years ago. There were four black cats, two females and two males, one cat belonging to each member of the Daae–Destler family.
Porsche was the first-born of the litter and was Erik's cat. Toulouse belonged to Christine. Berlioz was Jake's cat and Minouche, which meant 'little one', belonged to Carrie.
Jake turned to face his sister. "So how are things at the Opera Populaire?"
"Oh… they are good, they are good, actually I heard something rather interesting about the Opera Populaire before it was set on fire." She said in a rather mysterious way.
Jake leaned forward a bit. "Intrigue me."
All three of the adults looked very worried, Erik especially. He had never wanted them to find out. They would find out he was a murderer, and might even turn against him. Both Jake and Carrie knew that their mother used to sing in the Opera Populaire, and had left after the fire but they had never explained the full story to either of them.
They can't possibly know that it is me. Surely Carrie has only heard that I used to wear a mask, but I have not done so for the past eighteen years. I cannot go back to that life, for the love of my darling wife and my two children, I cannot go back…
"Well…" Began Carrie, but before she could say another word there was a loud smash.
Everyone in the room turned to see what the source of the noise was. Erik had knocked his saucer to the floor. Carrie hurried over to clean up the mess. Jake looked at his father, very concerned.
"Caught it with my elbow." Erik explained to the silent spectators, not entirely sure if Jake and Carrie were going to believe this.
Christine and Meg understood fully why he had done this. The small distraction seemed to have done the trick. Carrie did not say another word about the 'Interesting' thing she had heard about the Populaire. To be sure that he was safe however, Erik decided to try and change the subject.
"What are you actually doing in your job?" Erik thought that getting back to this unsolved mystery would be wiser than waiting for Carrie to resume hers.
Jake did not answer immediately. He thought for a moment, as though choosing his words very carefully. "Well… it varies, mainly contract work apparently so I will be… busy." Erik did not seem to be completely satisfied with this answer. "The pay is excellent though."
These final words seemed to enlighten Erik somewhat. He never has been able to give a simple straight answer.
"Enough about me." Jake chimed, apparently trying to swiftly change the subject. "How have you been getting on?"
His question seemed to be aimed at both Christine and Erik. "Just looking after the house mainly… it feels so empty with you two gone." Christine answered.
Carrie suddenly looked puzzled. "Father… How did you get the money to afford this place?"
This thought had never crossed her mind before. She had always assumed that her father had been in a very good job. She knew of course that her mother performed at the Populaire, but that could not possibly be enough money to afford the house and its furnishings.
Erik however, was prepared for this question. "Family inheritance, my mother died a long time ago and I was left all of her money."
Carrie and Jake both believed this. Erik met Christine's eyes, and he could tell what she was thinking.
That was the worst lie you have ever told.
This was true. Erik's mother would not have left him anything even if it had been her true love's dying wish.
Jake and Carrie started talking. Erik was not really listening, however, he could see Meg having a silent laughing fit out of the corner of his eye and he had no doubt that it was about what he had just said. Years back this would have angered Erik, but it was amazing how things changed over eighteen years, which was roughly how long it was since the fateful day of 'Don Juan Triumphant'.
Erik and Christine's children had never heard of 'Don Juan', and Erik very much wanted it to stay that way. They knew, of course, that he was a composer. In fact he had written much more over the past eighteen years. Erik could not help thinking however, that Don Juan was no more than a mistake.
Without realizing he was doing it, Erik began to massage his right hand with his left. If there was one question he could not stand hearing it was 'Why do you wear a glove on your right hand?' If he were to answer this, it would no doubt lead to many awkward questions.
The truth was that the wound that had been left by the shot had not healed properly. The doctor that had treated Erik had told him it would heal fine, but he was wrong. Erik's right hand had been infected. It did not look too bad but the pain it sometimes caused him was unbearable.
Erik suddenly noticed that all eyes were on him. He stopped rubbing his hand at once. Christine decided to break the silence.
"Perhaps it is best that we all get some sleep." Jake looked over at the clock on the wall. He had not noticed just how late it was.
"I agree." Said Meg, walking over to Christine. "I'll see you tomorrow."
"See you tomorrow Meg." She turned and left. Erik got to his feet and made his way out of the room, leaving Carrie, Jake and Christine together.
"Mother…" Began Carrie, timidly, "…I know you don't like us asking, but what is…"
"It does not matter." Christine cut her off, before she had a chance to even finish her question.
Jake decided to join in. "If it does not matter, then why not tell us?"
Christine did not answer, she simply turned and left.
"Mother!" Both Carrie and Jake called out to her, but she ignored them.
The two of them just stood there for a moment. Both were trying to work out the same thing. Jake was the first to give up.
"Goodnight Carrie, sleep well." He said, as he turned and left, heading for his old room.
Carrie did not answer him. She sat down in one of the armchairs by the unlit fireplace, staring into space, thinking…
"Very good Caroline. Alright everyone, take a five minute break." Called the conductor, Jean-Michel LeRoi.
Carrie was grateful to hear these words. She could not believe how difficult this Opera was. Though she was sure that Zurie would have no problem with it.
"Hey Carrie… CARRIE!" Andrea, one of the older dancers was rushing over to her.
"Hello Andrea." She said, as her friend reached her.
Andrea was very pleased to see Carrie. She did not usually get the opportunity as she was only an understudy. The five minutes' break that they had soon turned to ten, then to fifteen. Wondering why they had not resumed rehearsals, Carrie looked over at Jean. The two managers were talking to him.
Carrie could not believe that Gilles André and Richard Firmin were still managing the Populaire. From what she had heard, they had been doing so for over 20 years. André was now completely bald, and Firmin had gone completely grey.
The two of them spotted Carrie and proceeded to walk over to her. "Ah, Caroline!" Boomed Firmin in a very jolly voice. "Good to see you."
"Bonjour monsieur Firmin." Carrie replied.
They continued to chat for a very long time. Jean was giving a talk to his orchestra.
"What were you saying to him?" Andrea asked.
"Giving a few pointers… he got a bit worked up saying that we don't know what we are talking about." Said André, quietly.
"But in the early days of our business…" Interjected Firmin, "…I would say that we got quite a lot of experience to know what we are looking for."
"A Critique?" Asked Carrie, curiously.
"If only." Replied Firmin. Carrie looked confused.
"Have you not heard the stories?" Asked André in disbelief.
In danger of looking increasingly stupid, Carrie asked. "What stories?"
"The Phantom of The Opera!" Andrea, Firmin and André all said together.
Carrie just looked at them confused. Jean, however, chose that precise moment to call them all back to rehearsals. Firmin and André left the theatre, and Andrea and Carrie made their way back to the stage.
"I cannot believe you do not know…" Said Andrea to Carrie.
She shrugged this off however. If it was that important then she would of course have known.
"Ask anyone…they will tell you about him. ' A terrible figure that haunts the Populaire and watches performances from box 5'… Of course he is long gone now."
Carrie pretended to look interested, but the truth was she was concentrating more on what she was about to sing.
"From the beginning of the Aria then please, Mademoiselle."
Carrie let out a sigh. It was now very dark, and the candles that had lit the room were nearly out. Minouche hopped up onto her lap and curled up. Carrie did not really feel like heading off to bed, she was too busy thinking.
Absent mindedly stroking the cat, Carrie's concerns turned to her father. It was not like him to act so strangely, especially when it was his own children he was talking to.
What is this all of a sudden about his mother? He has never ever spoken of her before and I am sure he would have if she left him that much money.
Nothing made any sense. This was not how she wanted her visit to her parents to be, full of secrets. In the end she decided that whatever it was her father was so secretive about he would tell her and Jake in his own time.
She drifted off to sleep, her last thoughts about the production she was in. Whenever she wanted to keep her mind off things, this was usually what she would think about.