A/N: Hello. This is my first Phantom of the Opera fic, and am quite proud of it. Of course, I'm sure mistakes have crept in here and there—but I'm slightly more concerned with my portrayal of the characters. Please let me know if you think they are OOC in any way—and I will do my best to correct the problem. Thank you!

Disclaimer: Don't own, not making any money!

Ratings: PG-13

Genre: Angst/Tragedy

Warnings: Angsty, with a little cussing probable

Main Characters: The Persian (Nadir Khan)

Additional Notes: As I rule, my Erik is Leroux-based, with his past based somewhat off Kay—also, I highly doubt that I will use Nadir's name—he will simply be referred to as "The Persian", or as Erik calls him, "daroga". Speaking of which, this is from the Persian's POV.

Not Always Iron

My fingers toyed with my sleeve, rather habitually and entirely unconsciously, and I am quite certain that I seemed all the lunatic I had been portrayed as so many a time by the corps de ballet. They seemed to think that I posses the "Evil Eye", as they call it. Quite laughable really, as I do not believe that such a power even exists outside of Erik's skill. Yes, I do believe that the only one to ever posses the power described by the corps de ballet would be him. Erik is such an amazing creature really.

Ah, Erik. Poor wretched, disgusting Erik. I had not seen him in weeks—my last visit having ended horridly as far as our visits go. I had gone to him convinced that he had caused the prima ballerina at the time to fall, twisting her ankle. I had made my annoyance quite clear the moment I heard his greeting drift through the mist ("Daroga, to what do I owe the extreme dis-pleasure of your immensely irritating company?").

"Erik," I snapped, not bothering with the pretense of formality. "What have you done now?"

He seemed somewhat surprised by my forwardness and my accusation. "Now, now, daroga—manners. I know there are very few who retain them in Persia, but I did not think you to be one of the unfortunates." He stepped down from the gondola and I could see his flame-eyes trained on my hand, in which I had brought a copy of the 'Epoque' bearing the news that had so offended me. "My good friend," he said with deceptive amiableness, gesturing toward the paper, "What is this?"

"The 'Epoque', but then you would know all about that, wouldn't you? After all, another of your tricks made its pages!"

I could tell that he was frowning behind the mask. "Beg pardon, but what—pray tell—have I done?"

"The prima ballerina!" I threw the article at him, my eyes narrowed. He caught it with unearthly grace before it hit the ground. "What did you not like about this one, Erik?" I demanded. "Was it perhaps her mouth—'a prima ballerina must have such a small one, you know'—or was it maybe that her eyes did not suit your tastes? —'I fear they are not expressive enough—a prima ballerina cannot have the eyes of a cod fish, nor the eyes of a rat'— Well? Which is it, Erik, you bloody wretch?"

All the while I had been raving, Erik had been reading the article and seemed not to notice my indictments. Presently, he shook his head and tossed back the paper—which I managed to catch, although less gracefully than he had. "Daroga, I had nothing to do with the incident." He must have perceived my disbelief because he continued: "Come now, daroga, I did nothing to the girl. I do not cause every accident in the opera house, although they seem to believe that I do. No, the prima ballerina's ankle was not my doing although it is perhaps fortunate for the corps de ballet, as Mademoiselle Desrochers was not the best choice, but was quite simply the patron's favorite. Truly, I would not care if she were to crawl back beneath whichever rock she came from."

"It is not for you to decide! You have no part in the business of the opera!"

His terrible eyes leveled with mine and his gaze sent chills down my spine. "I am well aware of that fact, daroga," he murmured quietly, but I could hear the warning undercurrent to his ethereal voice.

I sighed, my hands making a helpless gesture. "I cannot believe that, Erik. Year after year, I've watched you pull the strings of the opera managers as though they were no more than marionettes, without a thought to your station."

"Station?" he growled. "And what would you consider to be my station?" I swallowed, realizing too late that I had said the wrong thing—I knew what train of thought the wretch would use now. "A monster?" he continued. "Perhaps a beast that deserves a cage?" He spat the last word with a cruel hiss. "A dumb animal—a Living Corpse! Is that what you perceive me as, daroga? You are not the first you know—there have been countless others! They flocked to my cage at the gypsy camp—those cold iron bars that stripped me of freedom—of dignity! Day after day—they forced me to live as an animal incapable of reason or intelligent thought, but I won in the end. . ." He turned away from me, staggering slightly back to the gondola. "I won . . . I built my opera house, and I am free now. . ." He sighed, safe once more inside his gondola. "No one will ever cage me again—and Mercy save the fool that tries!"

His laughter, mad and desperate, echoed off the walls of the cellar and the placid surface of the black lake. I shuddered with the sound of it and turned, quickly leaving that den of death. I was shaking when I at last reached the surface, his laughter still reverberating in my ears. It was not until much later, safe at home in front of my fire, that I realized Erik's mistake. He had claimed to be free, he had claimed that no one would ever cage him again, but he had not taken himself into account.

It was quite a stark realization to me, Erik's imprisonment. He had imprisoned himself, and very thoroughly as well. He had completely lost contact with the outside, save for myself and the goings on of the opera. His underground lair was in itself, a kind of cage. He had caged himself once before, with Christine Daaé's love; his twisted and naïve obsession of love for her had chained him far more effectively than any cage could have. No iron is as strong as the mind. After all, as all that is gold does not glitter, not all cages are fashioned of iron.

But, still, he could have been so great, he could have been king! And I know that, somehow, he would have made a fine king—if not for the cage he had built for himself.


A/N: Well. I've completed my first Phantom fic. I hope you enjoyed it! Please, review and tell me what you thought! Kudos to anyone who can find Erik's hidden joke and kudos to anyone who can name the quote this is based off of (hint: it's not a PotO quote). A note to my Furuba fans: I know, I know—I should really be finishing my Furuba stuff… But I can't help it! I will sooner or later, as I detest an unfinished fic. Please be patient and let this obsession cool off a bit!