Disclaimer: I do not own Phantom of the Opera.
When Christine first arrived at the Opera Populaire, I assumed she would be joining the chorus or ballet corps. I was twelve, and she was ten. In her first month there, she hardly uttered a full sentence. Mama asked me to take her under my wing, and I obliged. The poor girl had just lost her father, and I told myself that I would have her gossiping with the other young girls in no time. It was only later that I would discover that she was quiet by nature.
The first time she sang was both wonderful and dreadful. Her normally soft voice seemed to soar into the rafters of the theatre, filled entirely with beauty and sorrow. I must admit, I was tempted to cover my ears, but to do so would shatter what was left of her tattered soul.
Erik must have also heard Christine, for later that night, he spoke of nothing but her and the potential she had. I felt a pang of jealousy. What about my potential? Had he forgotten about me?
I merely nodded. Erik, I knew, wouldn't have heard if I had given him a response.
"I think I'm going to train her myself," his statement caught me off guard. I nearly choked on the sip of tea I'd just taken, but Erik took no notice.
I sighed and placed my cup back on the saucer with a tiny clink. I then pushed it aside, for I had lost my appetite.
"I'm feeling a bit tired. Perhaps I shall retire early," I said, my voice barely audible.
"Oh, yes," Erik replied, snapping his attention back, "Are you going to need me to sing to you again?"
I thought about it. I could retain him here longer, but I knew he wanted to approach Mama as soon as possible about tutoring Christine. "No," I answered, shaking my black curls.
"Bonne nuit. Good night." he said, pressing his lips to my head before disappearing through a hidden doorway that no doubt entered into his secret passageways.
"Bonne nuit," I responded faintly, but he was already gone.
Christine came into rehearsals the next day smiling.
"The Angel of Music came to me last night," she told me quietly when I pulled her to the side to question her. "I was beginning to think Father was making him up, but he's real!"
I nodded. I had never seen Christine smile, and I knew if I told her the secret of her "Angel," it would only serve to break her already shattered heart.
I smiled and opened my mouth to speak when I overheard Jammes say, "The Opera Ghost has made La Carlotta the new Prima Donna."
I heard a few other girls mutter comments in response, but I purposefully pretended not to hear. I wanted to hear what happened from Erik, not from a ballet rat. After rehearsals, I rushed to the dormitories, only to find them overrun with young girls awaiting supper. I decided to go to Maman's suite, but along the way, I heard Christine in the Prima Donna's dressing room. Peering into the room, I found Christine on her knees in front of the mirror. If she were to be caught, she would find herself in trouble. I was about to enter to get her out when I heard Erik's voice. All of the hopes I had held that he wasn't the "Angel" were instantly shot down.
Erik, I though, how could you? I was suddenly angry with him. I remained standing there until he left, when I followed him. I knew he was going to Maman's suite, and I was determined to beat him there. I took off down the hall running and arrived not a moment too soon, for when I was comfortably seated in my chair, Erik arrived, slipping through the secret doorway and into the parlor.
"Hello, Meg," he greeted cheerfully.
"Erik, are you Christine's "Angel of Music"?"
He nodded, and I continued. "How could you do this? You are taking advantage of her naïveté!"
"What do you know? You are only a child!" he retorted.
I stifled a cry. Erik had always treated me as his equal, but now that Christine was part of his life, I suddenly became a thirteen year-old in his eyes.
Wounded, I stood and turned to leave. Erik attempted to apologize, but his pleas fell on deaf ears.
I wandered down the hall toward my dormitory stiffly, and only allowed myself to cry when I was safely strewn across my bed.
"Meg," Jammes stood over me, rubbing my back to comfort me, "It's suppertime."
"I'm not hungry," I managed to reply through my sobs.
Eventually I was left alone, and I continued weep until I had fallen asleep.
Jammes woke me when she returned from supper. "I know we aren't permitted to have food in here," she said, "but I didn't want you to go hungry." And with that, she produced a slice of bread. "I hid it in the pockets of my skirt," she explained.
Jammes rarely disobeyed rules, and I felt a pang of guilt. I numbly took the bread from her and bit into it. This seemed to satisfy Jammes, for her face instantly relaxed. After a few more minutes, she stood and excused herself. I nodded and continued to nibble on the doughy bread.
After I choked down the last swallow, I stood up, brushed the crumbs off my skirts, and shuffled sleepily to Maman's suite. I knocked, and she answered the door.
"Marguerite, what are you doing wandering the halls at this hour?"
"I-I needed to… I couldn't fall asleep."
"Let me make you some hot tea," Maman replied. I wandered in and sat in my usual chair.
"Maman," I said after a few moments, "do you know that Erik is Christine's "Angel"?"
She paused for a moment, and then gave a small nod.
"And you made no attempt to stop him?" I asked, my voice rising a bit in proportion to my growing anger.
"Marguerite, dear, there is very little one can do to stop a determined Phantom," she replied.
"He yelled at me, Maman," I suddenly found myself telling her, "He never shouts at me, but he did today." A tear slid unchecked down my pale cheek.
Maman tensed visibly, and I wiped a tear away, quickly adding, "I'm sure I provoked him, though."
She came over and sat down next to me. I climbed in her lap as I did when I was five and let her comfort me while I, for the second time that evening, sobbed myself to sleep.
A/N: I'm still accepting suggestions for a new title. Think about the shameless promotion…