Savannah – 1930

Cassandra stumbled into the kitchen, sending a half hearted glare at the bright light, then at Gregory, who, as usual, was irritatingly cheerful as he ate his breakfast. She had the urge to tip his plate of grits into his lap, because he'd fallen asleep just after Grandfather had gone to bed, and she and Aunt Emmaline had stayed awake another hour, finishing the journals. If her mother hadn't woken her up, she would have slept much, much longer.

"Since your Aunt Emmaline is still abed, I'm making breakfast. What do you want?" Uncle Simon asked her, standing at the stove. Cassandra sent him a sullen look, and with a smile, he handed her a cup of coffee. "I'll ask again after you drink that. Why were you up so late?"

Her father cleared his throat, folding his newspaper in half. "Cassandra and Gregory were snooping yesterday and found our parent's journals," Richard said. "I believe Emmaline was more than happy to help them."

Simon and Richard exchanged a long look. They both knew, or believed that they knew, everything about their father's past. Much of their mother's remained a mystery, but when the boys had found themselves in one too many fights as young men, their father had set them down and given them a long speech on the futility of violence. After several references to a "terrible act", Erik had finally admitted to them what blood stained his hands, and after much consideration, told them why. Sworn to secrecy, the brothers knew that Emmaline would dearly love to know that family secret, but it was not one they were willing to share.

"Serves you right then, for poking your nose where it didn't belong," Simon said mildly. "You'd better hope your Grandfather doesn't find out."

"Oh, he was there last night," Gregory supplied, earning a severe look for speaking with his mouth full. Swallowing, he gave his father a chagrined look. "Grandfather came downstairs and took part of one of the journals with him as he left."

"Part of?"

Cassandra chuckled, hiding her face behind a coffee cup. "Aunt Emmaline was going to read about the wedding."

"Night," Gregory coughed beneath his breath.

Simon turned back to the counter, and began preparing his niece's breakfast, not wishing to comment or invite more of that particular subject to be discussed. He thought after several moments of blessed silence that he'd heard the end of it, then Cassandra let out a long, blissful sigh.

"I just wonder what happened to everyone. The journals only went as far as their wedding, and almost nothing has been written since. What happened to Lesley Ann? And I had no idea that Mrs. Jackson was Grandfather's student! Why, her son is a member of Fletcher Henderson's band!

Gregory reached into his breast pocket, then slid a yellowed envelope across the table to his cousin. "I found that last night. It must have fallen out of one of the journals. Lesley Ann's letter to Grandfather, I believe."

Simon and Richard exchanged a look, then simultaneously reached for the letter, almost tearing the envelope in half. Gregory and Cassandra gaped at them both, then Cassandra plucked it from their stilled hands.

"Cassandra...," her father began. "That is a private letter."

"Well Gregory's already read it, I know, so now it's my turn," she said, slipping from her chair and ducking around to the other side of the table.

My dearest Erik,

As much as it pains me to write this, I know that I must. I've waited a very long time to find happiness, and believed at last to have found it with you. Forgive me if bitterness taints my words. I am angry now, but I know that with time the wounds shall heal. It is not the past summer I wish to reflect on in any case. I wanted to warn you that my father, the man whom you hold in almost constant contempt, has made threats against you, Miss Daae, and your student, Mrs. Jackson. Please understand that I still love him, even after all that he has done, but I can no longer tolerate what he has become. I allowed you to believe for far too long that his poisonous beliefs are those I share, when nothing could be further from the truth. I've found letters indicating that my mother was the daughter of a white cotton owner and a half African slave. I did not want to believe it at first – that my father could love and hate someone so desperately, for entirely different reasons. But it's there, and now I must discover the truth about the woman who was forced to abandon me as a child.

My life is tied to the people you have so valiantly defended, far more than I ever knew. I am sorry if my ignorance is what has caused the deep rift that extended into every part of our relationship. I did not want you to know the truth – for I did not want to know it myself. It is time that I stopped running, and faced the my past. I am going to find my mother, who from what I understand, lives in Boston and has been trying to contact me almost all of my life. I know that by the year's end you will be wed, not to me, but to the woman you obviously love.

I envy Miss Daae, for she has you, and your devotion. I only hope that one day I can be so well loved.

Yours very truly,

Lesley Ann

"What is that?"

Cassandra jumped guiltily and lowered the letter at her grandfather's sharp tone. "Nothing!"

He started across the brightly lit room, the cane stabbing into the floor with each slow step that he took. "That letter. Where did you find that?" he demanded, not stopping until he was face to face with his granddaughter.

"Pop, she didn't mean anything by it," Richard said apologetically. "Gregory found it last night, and you know how nosy she can be."

Erik stopped in front of Cassandra, holding his hand out for Lesley Ann's missing letter. Bernadette had mentioned it to him once, but at the time he'd been entirely preoccupied with Francois and Patrice, then with getting married, and he'd forgotten all about it. "I came back from New York with Christine, and Lesley Ann was gone. I didn't hear from her for five years," he said quietly, to no one in particular. "I always thought she had left solely because of me. This much."

"You still cared for her, didn't you, Grandfather?" Cassandra said, impulsively hugging him.

Erik kissed her youthful cheek, and patted her back. "Lesley Ann is a good woman. She made a fine wife. Just not mine."

"But whatever happened to her?" Gregory asked. "And how come the journal said that you and Grandmother wouldn't have any children?"

"Well obviously he changed his mind. Isn't that right?" Cassandra said, smiling up at him.

Erik stared down into her brown eyes, so much like Christine's. Out of all his issue, and their own, Cassandra most resembled his wife. Sometimes it almost hurt to look at her, because she was every bit as beautiful, and favored her not just in looks, but in personality. "Not exactly," he finally replied, tightening his hold on her briefly. "Your Aunt Emmaline was a rather unexpected surprise - to both of us. Your grandmother was thirty five when she had her first child. Forty when she had her last. As for Lesley..." Erik pulled out a chair and settled himself down heavily. "Now there was a woman who turned out to be a surprise. You know it's strange, the Paris Commune briefly granted women the right to vote, to make their own decisions, and to ultimately stand on their own, but it was suppressed with violence and war. Here in America, you can stand on a street corner and hold a sign, and have no fear of being shot."

"Like Meg?"

Erik nodded. "Of course, Meg wasn't doing anything wrong, merely suspected of it. But Lesley...? The first I heard of her after my marriage was the outrageous rumor in town that she'd been arrested for picketing the mayoral election in Boston. Her mother was a member of the National Woman's Suffrage Association, and quite the speech giver, from what I understand. Lesley took up with it immediately – I guess so many years of living under your father's thumb can make a woman go to extremes."

"If she was a suffragette, then why did she ever marry?" Simon asked curiously.

"Her lawyer – the one who argued her case in court, and won, I might add – decided that he was going to marry her. Since she put up no resistance, I suppose she finally found what she was looking for. I've attended only a few weddings in my life, but I have to say that I'd never seen a bride look at her groom the way that Lesley Ann looked at Charles Fitzgerald," Erik smiled whimsically, recalling Lesley Ann's surprise when he'd greeted her after the ceremony. She'd forgiven him by then, though with Christine she would always remain reserved. Over the years he'd kept in touch, always wishing her well and helping when he could. "She switched her attention from women's rights to those of children after her marriage. I think by last count, she'd adopted around six children, and helped hundreds of others through her work with various agencies. Simon, I would think you and Richard would remember having to serve lunches for the masses on Easter when you were young? That was your mother's idea, but it was Lesley Ann's cause. If she wasn't as old and tired as I am, I daresay she'd still be out there crusading."

Erik tucked the letter into the pocket of his shirt, and glanced up at the baffled expressions of his family members.

"What is it?"

"Mrs. Lesley Fitzgerald," Richard murmured. "She was your fiancée?"

"The one and the same," his father replied softly.

Simon and Richard both began to chuckle. "No wonder Mr. Fitzgerald was always so possessive of her when you were around."

Erik blinked at his sons. "What are you talking about? Charles and I get along quite well." He glanced over to Christine as she came into the room, heading straight for the coffee. "Don't we, my love?"

"Charles doesn't like you," Christine said over her shoulder, "because you send Lesley Ann a present every year on her birthday. I never liked it myself, I might add. But I think you know that, don't you?"

"Well." Erik stared out the window for several moments. He'd sent her a small gift each year as a token, not of the memory of their betrothal, but of their friendship. He had no idea if she wanted the things or not, though she always responded with a very polite note, thanking him for the present. And yes, he'd known that Christine had not liked it, especially during her confinements, but he'd never tried to hide what he was doing. "Neither Lesley nor Charles ever said anything to me."

Christine sat across from him, the same exact table in which they had taken their meals with Bernadette until she died at the turn of the century. She'd nearly missed the birth of Gregory, and had in fact, missed Cassandra's entirely. Secretly Christine thought that Simon had been more affected by his Aunt Bernadette's death than any of her other children, because her firstborn son was more like Erik than Richard was, and it had created an unbreakable bond between the two. Poor Richard had only his mother's favor, although none of their children had ever lacked for love. She inserted her gnarled fingers through those of Erik's, wishing briefly that he could play for her again. He hadn't been able to do so in the last ten years with arthritic fingers and aching joints. "You'll see them both tonight, dear. Maybe you can ask Charles then what he thinks of you sending his wife birthday presents."

Erik grumbled something unintelligible beneath his breath, then raised slightly bushy white eyebrows to glare at Simon. "It was your wife's idea to have this get together, you know."

"It's your fiftieth wedding anniversary. Well, a belated one by several months that is. But you remember that Emmaline was touring, and I was in Paris teaching on your fiftieth," Simon reminded him, setting a plate of eggs and grits in front of his father. "And it may have been her idea, but Aunt Josephine is the one who sent out the invitations. We were planning on just family, but she invited some of your former students, the Paumards with their horrendously large brood of offspring, and of course, the Fitzgeralds."

"Not to mention Radar Jackson," Gregory said excitedly. "He's a superb piano player!"

"Better on strings," Erik murmured, thinking of Viola's son. How proud his mother would have been, and undoubtedly was before she died, of her only child. It had been twenty years since her passing, and Radar still had the good grace to visit his first music teacher and patron. The boy had lived here in this very house, learned all that he possibly could, and had played with his own children even though he'd been almost ten years older than Emmaline. Sometimes Erik thought his daughter had developed a tendré for the soft spoken, handsome musician, but Radar seemed indifferent to her, treating her like a sister or friend, rather than the beautiful woman that she was. "Who else is coming?"

Christine glanced at Simon, and he nodded once. She sat back in her chair and met her husband's eye. "The Comte de Chagny, and his family."

Erik nearly choked on his grits as he gaped at his wife. "De Chagny? Coming here?"

"He arrived in Savannah yesterday," Simon confirmed quietly. "Mother insisted that he receive an invitation."

Erik gave Christine an accusing glare. "You invited that jackanapes to our anniversary party?"

"He's been in New York for the last four months. His eldest daughter lives there," Christine said defensively. "You know I've stayed in touch with him over the years."

"I know that, dear. But there is a vast difference between writing a letter, and sending him an invitation to our home - to celebrate our marriage."

Christine sent him a withering look. "What do you think he's going to do? Sweep me off my feet? As old as we are, we'd both break a hip! Besides, you can't tell me that you still harbor ill feelings for him after almost sixty years."

"I just don't see why he had to be invited," Erik grumbled. "He was never that charming."

"And you were?" Christine returned sweetly.

"De Chagny?" Cassandra inquired innocently. "He was your fiancé before you married Grandfather?"

"No!" Erik denied vehemently.

"That's what we read in the journals," Gregory said obtusely. "But you loved her first."

"Technically I knew Raoul long before I knew your Grandfather," Christine put in, wincing at the flash of indignation in Erik's eyes.

"I loved you first," he said sharply. "First and only, Christine."

Simon crossed the room, seeing how riled his father was becoming. It was somewhat amusing to hear this old argument after so many years. It hardly ever surfaced, and always ended with his mother contrite and trying to placate his irritated father. When he had been younger, it always culminated in their disappearance for several hours, or being sent to bed early so that their fight could be carried out in the privacy of their bedroom. Fight first, love later. Such was the way his parents had always been. "Come on, Pop. You can ride with me to pick up Aunt Josephine and Uncle Horace. You know they said she wasn't supposed to be driving anymore."

Erik stared at Christine a moment longer, then rose. "If De Chagny steps a foot into this house, I'll toss him out on his ear," Erik warned.

"I find it hard to believe you could be so unforgiving of him still," Christine said quietly. "You've retained a far closer friendship with Lesley Ann than I have had with Raoul. I haven't seen him in a very long time, Erik. He was happily married for forty years, and has more children than we do. I hope you will show him the same respect that I have given your ex fiancée."

With a slight grunt, Erik turned and followed Simon from the room.

# - # - # - #

It was hours later as the caterers began to arrive, that Erik found Emmaline and Christine in their bedroom. He looked at his daughter as she fixed her mother's hair, now a silver gray that matched his own. It had lost its curl over the years, becoming more of an unruly soft wave instead of the vibrant dark curls, but in the early morning light, she still resembled a fuzzy headed angel. His heart felt heavy in his chest, filled with regret, as it often was when they quarreled.

"Hello, Pop," Emmaline said, spritzing her mother with perfume. "Come to see the lovely guest of honor?"

"I need help with this," he replied vacantly, gesturing to his necktie. "I never have liked these suits."

Christine turned to watch as their daughter began to tie it for him. She smiled hesitantly, and he returned it immediately, silently seeking forgiveness for his anger on their special day. Emmaline brushed her hand over his thin chest, wiping away a stray piece of lint. "I love you, Pop," she whispered, giving him a quick kiss on his red cheek. "You look handsome tonight."

Erik gave her a tired smile. "Thank you, sweetheart," he replied, well accustomed to biting his tongue when his family – the women, mostly – decided he needed to hear a compliment. "Why don't you go make sure your brothers aren't into any trouble?"

Emmaline straightened his tie one final time then left the room, grinning because Simon and Richard should have been the ones of least concern, and always had been.

"You do look handsome," Christine said softly. "I haven't seen you in a suit since Richard's wedding."

"This is the same suit," he muttered, sitting down beside her at the vanity. "I probably won't ever need a new one."

Christine turned to face him, staring into his eyes. "Almost fifty-two years."


"We were both so foolish, weren't we? Sometimes we still are," Christine said gently. "But I still love you just as I did the day we married. Long before that. I was devastated when I found out you were engaged to another woman."

Erik gave her a startled look. "Why didn't you say anything? You acted as if you were happy for me, not that you were jealous."

"Jealous?" Christine smiled faintly. "Oh yes, there was jealousy. I was so afraid of being seen as selfish, and disrupting your happiness, that I nearly boarded the first ship back to Sweden. The day I brought Josephine here was the day I learned about your engagement. You were kissing Lesley in the trees down by the river with your mask off, and I felt as if I'd just stepped into Hell."

"That bad, hmm?" Erik asked, oddly pleased. "I wish you'd told me how you felt about Lesley Ann. It might have helped me understand your anger when I sent those gifts, had I known."

Christine patted his hand. "No matter. You only had eyes for me, and I've always known that."

"I've loved you from the first time that Bernadette brought you into the opera house. Shy, fragile Christine, who couldn't go a single day or night without a few tears. You grew up into a beautiful young woman, and I tried to stay away from you because I never thought I could be looked on with anything less than terror. And if it hadn't been for that first kiss, I might have proven myself right."

"Oh, Erik." Christine took his hand, feeling a burst of sadness in her chest that he could still think that of himself after all these years. "You were never beyond hope. Never. Haven't all the happy memories in our marriage, and with our children, proven what a good husband and father you have been?"

Erik gave her an uncertain look, and she squeezed his hand tighter. "Christine, you, and our children have given my life meaning, made it worth living." He said softly as he leaned over and gently kissed her, not wanting to smear her lipstick.

"You can't forget your music, Erik. You're a renowned composer..."

"Not under my own name," he interrupted.

"Well, that's only because you have a sordid past." Christine teased him.

"I owe my success there to you as well, Christine," Erik continued. "You and Juliette used your connections to get my compositions published."

"Well, even our connections wouldn't have helped if your work hadn't been brilliant. And several of your students have gone on to make names for themselves in music as well."

"You really do love me, don't you? You've always been my biggest fan."

"You know that I do." Christine answered, grinning. She was happy that Erik's mood seemed to have lifted for the party. "Do you remember how hard we worked so that I could sing one final time? Le roi de Lahore. We fought over everything from the piece, to where I should perform. You wanted to see me sing at the Royal Theater, where I'd been prima donna, and I wanted to stay in America."

"Only because you didn't want to travel by ship," Erik replied.

"Yes, well." She sniffed. "You got your way, didn't you? I held my head over the stern of the ship, and you had the least romantic bed partner for two weeks."

"My little cabin girl," he murmured. "I did get my way. I got to see my beautiful star shine. That was all I needed."

They both glanced up as Richard knocked on their door, a dazzling smile on his face. "You two lovebirds ready? Everyone is waiting."

"De Chagny?" Erik asked humorlessly.

"Is waiting downstairs," Richard confirmed. "As are the rest of your guests. Come, Mother. Take my arm."

Erik reached for his cane, grappling with it for a moment, then rising. "Might as well get on with it," he said painfully. "Is your Aunt Josephine still in the library writing?"

"I'm right here, Erik."

He met the sparkling gaze of his cousin as she sailed into the room, kissing Christine first and then giving him an enormous hug. "I was afraid we'd seen the last of you this evening."

"A stroke of inspiration. You know how it is," she said affectionately as they left the room to head downstairs ahead of Christine and Richard. "But now you're so old, you probably forget what it is you want to write down before you find your pen."

"You tease me now, but you're going to be as old as I am one day," Erik replied, chucking her under the chin. They stopped briefly on the landing, and Erik gazed down at the guests milling around their house, his eyes widening at the sight of who could only be Raoul de Chagny – confined to a wheelchair, with an astonishing amount of wrinkles on his once handsome face. Beside him stood a beautiful young woman whom Erik thought must have been his daughter, Honora. Radar and Emmaline were chatting amicably with Simon and Gregory, and Cassandra was cornered by her mother and Aunt Eloise as they wiped a suspicious substance from her lips. Francois and Patrice were sitting quietly, surrounded by their children and grandchildren, while Lesley Ann and her husband, Charles, stood together near the door, trying not to seem out of place.

"Everyone is here, Erik," Christine said, moving forward to take his hand. "All our friends and family. Over fifty years worth of people who love you - and me."

"Yes," he agreed, his throat beginning to tighten. "I can see that."

"You'll behave yourself then?" she whispered, giving him a subtle glance.

"I'll certainly try," he replied.

"After you, my Angel," Christine said softly.

IAPG laughing nervously at the idea of a! Sorry, but no, lol. This is the end of the line for Leitmotif. I really hope you all enjoyed it. From the bottom of my heart I would like to thank everyone who reviewed, especially Phantomforever since she is anonymous and I've never had a chance to thank her because I can't find her email! (Naughty girl!). I'd also like to thank Rappleyea because without her I never would have been able to finish this story. It has been a wonderful journey, and I hope you will keep me on your alerts list.

Who may see me again this time next year. I've decided any future stories I post will be completed as Leitmotif was so that I can make changes to it before it is ever posted. In the meantime, thank you again for all your wonderful reviews. As promised, a preview of my next story, which will be a modern POTO story. All I can say is it won't be based on the 2004 movie (sorry, no schmexy Gerik). This is unedited and subject to change.


The colored tent sheltered him from the wind, but not the cold. Dark blue shadows became fragmented images, evolving into the shape of man, woman, and child, but the yellow eyes closed tightly at their laughter.

'Let them, he thought wearily. 'Let them stare. It matters no more.'

Wasn't this what he wanted, after all? To overcome the pain that the reaction in his horrid face inspired. His family had not, and indeed, no one else. The dark streets of forgotten cities had become stained with the blood of those who'd hurt him, and every place along the way to his destination. The night had become his dearest companion, as had the cold wind in this ancient country.

But even great magicians, hideous might they be, needed food and clothing.

So he had come here and offered the only thing that he possessed which would interest anyone. For thirty days he had willingly bound himself to the ropes inside the tent and allow them to stare. With the trick of lighting, he actually appeared dead, which he far preferred to them thinking he was really alive. Better an animated corpse than a living dead thing.

It was only at the sudden bright flash of light did he react – violently. "No photographs!" Bhuir shouted, grabbing the camera and smashing it to the ground, even as Erik lunged forward, his bone white flesh glistening in the light, twisting at an unnatural angle to free himself. The sockets inside his shoulders spun round almost to the point of dislocation, then his entire body went limp, the ropes slipping from his wrists to his hands.

The crowd which had previously been enthralled with the half naked 'living' corpse began to scream in terror. Erik carefully moved his shoulders back in place and stepped towards his employer.

"You said there would be no cameras," he said in a low, controlled tone. "You lied to Erik."

"Is broken, see?" Bhuir said fearfully, stomping on the lens. "You came to me. You wanted pay, I gave. No problems, see?"

Erik made a soft humming noise, and watched the showman's eyes become glazed. As the rest of the crowd screamed and ran, the photographer stepped forward, trying to retrieve his camera.

"What did you do?" the man demanded. "I could have made a fortune with those pictures!"

The humming abruptly stopped, and Erik tilted his head.

"I think not Sir," he said quietly. "No one takes Erik's image."

He bent down, his adolescent death's head close to the frightened eyes of a balding English tourist.

"And lives to see another night," he added, sliding a coiled wire from his trousers. "Perhaps we shall see one another in Hell? Wait for me, Monsieur. I pray it won't be long for me now, that I can meet my maker."

"Only God creates," the man whispered, hypnotized by the magical voice.

"Take my image with you in death, and know the truth."

Erik dropped the fresh corpse, and unbound his hands from the wire. As he straightened, the shadows in front of him moved, and an equally tall and thin figure broke away from the wall. Bhuir, seeing their previously unannounced visitor, promptly fled the tent.

"You promised," a cold voice said, cutting through his numbed mind. "You lied to me, Erik."

"Micheil." He stared at the older boy, immediately defensive. "It was not so long ago that you would have done the same."

"I am not talking about him," Micheil said contemptuously. "You are no better than a prostitute, allowing these people to pay for a glimpse of your ugly face."

Erik grabbed his robe from near the makeshift stage, not seeing the thin white hand which pocketed the Polaroid photograph, revealing a misshapen face and yellow eyes. "What are you doing here? Isn't this time supposed to be with your dearly beloved bride?"

He turned back to look into the long thin face, which was now pinched with anger. "She's dead."

Erik merely nodded, as if it were to be expected, but he had not forgiven the other for abandoning him, and in the most childish way he never would. Micheil was his mirror in so many ways. A brother through blood and twisted fate. Maternal exposure to experimental chemicals had left Erik with a severe facial disfigurement and Micheil with ones far more emasculating. They were both unusually tall, narrowly built, and extremely capable of murder.

"She was not supposed to question me," his brother said bitterly. "I knew what was possible, but she...she would not stop. She laughed. Laughed."

"So you killed your wife because you failed to fuck her?"

He heard Micheil's sharply drawn breath, and waited for him to strike. It never came. When he finally glanced back at him, he found his brother's head hanging low, and his face full of shame.

"You don't understand what its like," he finally muttered. "Not for a few more years anyway. Enjoy your ignorance while you can, Erik. One day I may have to stop you from doing as I have most unfortunately done."


"It's her," Erik murmured, leaning forward in his box. "The girl. Christine."

She'd been given one of the worst seats in the theater, but even from his vantage point he could see her beauty. She was early, just as he liked to be. Far too early, he mused. There was hardly anyone else in the auditorium at the moment. Suspicious by nature, he questioned her reasons. In his ten years of living in Toronto, he'd never noticed her before.

And the delicate blond was someone Erik most certainly would have noticed. He wondered what color her eyes were, and judging by the skin hugging deep royal blue dress that she wore, decided it must match her eyes. Then she would be perfect, indeed. He admired such lovely features, even knowing how painful the image would be later when he was alone again at home.

"Why are you here?" he whispered, letting his voice float down and settle behind her.

The auditorium of the theater was too vast for the acoustics of his voice to carry, but she glanced behind her not a moment later, then settled back in her seat.

"You won't enjoy the play from there. Pity. It's one of my personal favorites." Christine didn't appear soured by the location she'd been assigned to, but Erik felt a niggle of annoyance. Why had she appeared on his door the night before? Who was she? What did she want?

He lifted the call receiver in the box, dialing directly to management.

"This is Remondet. There is a girl seated in row four nineteen in a blue dress. I want her moved to the box directly across from mine."

Without waiting for a response he hung up, and moments later a steward rushed forward, offering his arm to the girl. She looked alarmed at first, as if she were worried she'd done something terribly wrong, and then confusion set in.

"But I don't wish to move!" she exclaimed, loud enough for him to hear.

"Excellent voice, my dear," he murmured softly. "But you will move. So I can better see you."

Erik watched as the attendant bent low towards her, obviously trying to explain. He then turned and gestured to the box in which he was sitting, forcing Erik to slam back in his chair with a scowl. The girl looked up towards him, then back to the attendant.

"He's in there? Are you sure?"

"Yes miss. Now please, allow me to guide you to your new seat."

She gazed up at his box for several moments, her eyes searching the shadows and finding nothing but more shadows. At length she nodded, and followed the steward out of the theater then upstairs to a lavishly decorated box, straight across from the famous producer, E. Remondet.

Christine hesitated a moment before entering, then looked at the neatly dressed worker. "Mr. Remondet is a very strange man, yes?"

"Enjoy the performance, Miss Daaé. I will be waiting just outside should you need refreshments."

With that he gestured that she should enter, and she stared down at the now filling theater in astonishment.

Then she looked up, and nearly gasped aloud.

The box across from her remained as dark as before...only now an eerie yellow glow, which at first seemed one source, then two, emanated from the partially shrouded vestibule.

Ominous. Threatening.

Christine shivered slightly and turned her eyes to the performance. Never again did she glance up, but without looking she knew herself to be scrutinized in a most intimate way.