A/N- New story! Sounds crazy, I know...but just give it a chance. I promise you'll like it. At least, I hope I do.
Disclaimer: Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer and The Phantom of the Opera belongs to Gaston Leroux and Andrew Lloyd Weber. Don't be hatin. Thank you.
"Isabella!" shouted Madame Weber sharply. "Angela! Why are the two of you not at your markers? Opening night is tonight in case the two of you forgot! We do not have all day!"
Angela and Bella shot each other conspiratorial glances and pranced quickly to their spots while trying to stifle their giggles. Madame Weber, though a brilliant dancer and choreographer, would generally lose her seemingly endless amounts of patience as opening nights drew closer and would start snapping at her dancers if it looked like they weren't taking the rehearsal as seriously as she did.
Monsieur Reyer rapped his baton against the edge of his stand sharply several times. "Quiet please! We will take it again from the top and this time, please, Jessica, please do not drag your notes on forever! They make you late for the next measure and we do not want that!"
"It is not my fault!" Jessica sniffed haughtily. "Perhaps if you could keep a consistent tempo then I would not drag my notes!"
Reyer ignored this slight aimed at his conducting skills and turned to his orchestra. "I will give you four counts." He swept his baton down four times and the violins came in.
Bella lost herself in the concentration of her performance and came in at her exact cue. Madame Weber nodded approvingly as she watched her dancers with a critical eye. Occasionally she would make a gesture and straighten her posture in hopes that her more troublesome protégées would fix their behavior, but for the most part, she remained silent and motionless.
Just when Jessica was about to come in, Monsieur Lefevre strolled onto the stage in the company of three men; two of them were middle-aged and pompous, while the third was much younger and much calmer. When Bella spotted the last man, she immediately stumbled through a détourné.
"Isabella!" Madame Weber barked when she nearly took out half the line with her. "Be more careful!"
Bella blushed. "Je suis désolé," she muttered before picking herself up and quickly resuming her place in the line. Though she was much better than she used to be, it had taken her years and years of intense practice to get to the level that the rest of her friends were at, and even then she still had her clumsy moments. By no means could she be considered naturally graceful.
"Everyone, I have an announcement to make," Monsieur Lefevre called out. Rehearsal paused and everyone stopped what they were doing to gather around their beloved theatre owner. Once he was sure that he had everyone's attention, he began to speak. "After many wonderful years here at the Opera Populaire, I have decided to retire." At this, a smattering of sad and polite applause rippled through the crowd. "Thank you, thank you," he said as he waved away their appreciation. "And here with me are my replacements: Monsieur Richard Firmin and Monsieur Gilles Andre."
Everyone applauded again, but out of politeness and obligation more than anything.
"And may I please introduce your new patron, the Vicomte de Chagny Jacob Black."
Jacob Black stepped forward to a gale of much more enthusiastic applause, especially from the female ballet dancers. Angela eyed his strong, masculine frame with appreciation. "He's very handsome," she whispered to Bella, who only blushed. It was quite obvious that Jacob Black was very attractive, but there was something about him…a certain air of familiarity that Bella could not name. It was almost as if she had met him a very long time ago in a childhood dream.
Jacob raised a dark hand and his lips turned upward in a smile that lit up his beautiful dark brown eyes. He took no notice of the avid stares. "Thank you. I'm very honored to be the patron of the Opera Populaire. I hope that we will be able to work together for the next season."
After the applause died down, Monsieur Lefevre waved them off to continue their rehearsal. Everyone rushed off to take their positions and resume from where they had left off.
Then all hell broke loose.
"I cannot work under these conditions!" screamed an irate and frustrated Jessica. She then proceeded to rip off her elaborate headdress that the costumes mistress spent weeks and weeks creating and threw it to the ground with the utmost contempt. "I refuse to wear that—that thing!"
Reyer rolled his eyes. "I'm sure we can have someone fix it for tonight—"
"No! It must be fixed now before I continue! And I refuse to rehearse the opening number one more time! If everyone else does not have it by now then they will never have it! Move on to something else!"
Firmin and Andre—who had been in the wings watching the whole debacle—immediately stepped out onto the stage and attempted to placate the melodramatic star. "Jessica, bella diva, I am sure Monsieur Reyer most certainly agrees," Firmin began in his most soothing voice.
"Isn't there a solo for Jessica in the third act?" Andre asked the maestro.
"Good then. I wish to hear it."
Reyer sighed reluctantly turned the pages in his score and his musicians followed his lead. Then he tapped the end of his baton against his stand and began the song. Jessica straightened her posture and shot a simpering smile at her new employers. The harpsichord began the lilting melody and after several measures, Jessica came in.
There was no doubt to anyone that Jessica was certainly a superb soprano—one of the best in all of Europe perhaps. But there was also no doubt to anyone that she was many seasons past her prime and the song most certainly called for a softer, gentler voice: not the heavy, overdramatized vibrato Jessica utilized.
Then, without any warning whatsoever, one of the backdrops came loose and fell atop Jessica, sending her crashing to the ground.
After the initial shock, Michael Newton rushed to save his beloved from the crushing weight of the scenery while the stage hands ran to the ropes.
"What on God's earth was that?" demanded Andre. "You! Up there! Aren't you supposed to make sure this sort of thing does not happen?"
"Sorry, monsieur, I was not at my post," Joseph Buquet, the stage manager, apologized in his oily tone. "But strange things do tend to happen here at Opera Populaire. Perhaps it was the Opera Ghost?"
"Ghost?" asked Firmin bewilderedly. "Opera Ghost, what is this nonsense?"
Andre, however, turned his attention to an absolutely fuming Jessica. "My dear, please do not be upset," he began. "These things after all do happen. I'm sure it was simply a mistake—"
Jessica stared at him incredulously. "Yes, these things do happen. And they always happen to me!" She swept her wide costume aside and glared at her new and old employers. "And unless you stop these things from happening, this—" she gestured to the whole stage and everyone on it "—does not happen!" And with those final words, she swept off the stage with her Michael Newton and her fussy entourage in her wake.
Firmin and Andre turned to Lefevre helplessly. "What do we do now?"
Lefevre shrugged, glad that this was no longer his problem. "Grovel. Now if you will excuse me gentlemen, I must take my leave. If you need me, I will be in London." And with a final bow, he swept out of the theatre for the last time.
Through all the commotion, a letter fluttering to the ground caught Madame Weber's eye. Inconspicuously, she picked it up and cracked the wax seal of the envelope. Then she approached her new employers and handed them the letter. "Welcome, Monsieurs," she said with an elegant curtsy. "The Opera Ghost sends word; he welcomes you to his theatre and reminds that you keep box five empty for his purposes and that his payment is due."
"Box five?" asked Andre with wide eyes. "And what is this nonsense about payment?"
"His theatre?" demanded Firmin. "What does he mean his theatre?"
"He writes operas for the theatre," she informed them. "And Monsieur Lefevre used to pay him twenty thousand thousand francs a month."
"Twenty thousand francs!" exclaimed Andre. Firmin looked shocked beyond words.
"Perhaps you can pay him more," she said with a shrug, "with the Vicomte as your patron?"
"Well forget it," Firmin said firmly, seeming to regain his voice. He took the letter from his partner and ripped it into shreds. "This silly superstition will come to an end immediately. And no one will demand anything of us and we will give nothing to anyone unless we wish it! Is that understood?"
Andre, meanwhile, swept his head around the stage, looking for a solution to their current predicament. He didn't want his first executive action as owner of the Opera Populaire to be groveling. "What about Jessica? Isn't there an understudy?" he asked impatiently of the remaining people on stage.
"Understudy?" asked Reyer incredulously. "There is no understudy for Jessica Newton!"
"Isabella can sing it, Monsieur," Angela quickly suggested. She swiftly pranced to her friend and laid a gentle hand on her shoulder. "She's been learning from a very good tutor."
"Really?" asked Firmin interestedly. "Who?"
Bella blushed and shook her head. "I'm not sure. I don't know his name."
"Well it's no matter dear," Andre said in what perhaps he thought was a paternal, warm tone. "Why don't you try it?"
She stepped forward tentatively to Andre's and Firmin's gentle goading. "Come on dear," Andre coaxed. "Don't be shy."
Reyer watched curiously. He had heard a little of Bella's talent, but had never actually got to hear her sing for himself. Quietly, he cued in the harpsichord and the solo began.
Bella slowly opened her mouth and a beautiful sound began to pour out of her. Everyone stopped to watch her and Andre's and Firmin's hearts soared when they heard her. She was perfect!
When the song ended, Bella looked around at the grinning people surrounding her. "You were wonderful, my dear," Madame Weber whispered into her ear. Angela beamed widely at her best friend and squeezed her hand reassuringly.
"Quickly!" shouted Andre to the people on the stage. "Have her fitted for Jessica's costumes immediately!"
And with that, Bella was rushed off the stage to the costumes mistress to take over for the legendary soprano, Jessica Newton. She could feel her pulse fluttering gently in her wrists and in the hollow of her throat. She couldn't wait to tell the Angel of her good fortune!
Later that night, Bella sat in Jessica's dressing room, wringing her hands nervously in her lap. Several hours ago, she was absolutely thrilled to play this part; now she was absolutely horrified.
Quietly, Angela stole into the room and grinned at Bella. "How are you?"
"Nervous," admitted Bella. It was truly an understatement; not only were her hands in constant motion, she couldn't keep her knees still and her shoulders were shaking.
Angela gently took her friend's hands in her own. "You will do wonderfully," she whispered while grinning. "You saw our managers' reactions; they were speechless! The audience will be the same way. I promise."
For the first time that afternoon, Bella smiled genuinely. The two of them exchanged hugs and Angela ran off to finish preparing for the show.
In very little time, Bella found herself standing center stage with a bright spotlight aimed in her direction. She caught Monsieur Reyer send her a reassuring smile before cuing the harpsichord. Then she sent a silent prayer to her father and the Angel, took a deep breath, and began.
As she sang her aria, the Vicomte de Chagny, Jacob Black, sat frozen in his box five seat as he watched Isabella Swan perform on stage, lit by the stage lights and absolutely sparkling in her lovely gown. "Bella," he whispered. It was little Bella! He couldn't believe it. He watched, absolutely mesmerized by the girl's transformation from their awkward childhood. No longer was she the scrawny, scrappy little girl that tripped on just about anything. She blossomed into a graceful young woman of pale visage, delicate features, and a sweet voice that enchanted anyone who was lucky enough to hear it.
The song came to a dramatic end and Monsieur Reyer cut her off with an air of triumph. The girl will be a star, he thought to himself as she curtsied on the stage. She will be bigger and better than Jessica Newton herself!
After the show was finished, Bella returned to her dressing room, flushed with excitement at her success. Madame Weber quietly stole into her surrogate daughter's room. "You did very well, my dear," she gushed proudly. "Your father would have been very proud." Then she handed her a rose with a black satin ribbon tied around the stem. "He is also very pleased with your performance."
Bella smiled to herself and stroked the ribbon fondly. Afterwards, Madame Weber excused herself from the dressing quarters to continue with ballet practice, which Angela managed to escape for several moments into the haven of her friend's dressing quarters.
"You sang wonderfully!" she cried as she ran to hug Bella. "Everyone loved you!"
"Thank you," Bella grinned at her best friend. "But I was so nervous the whole time. I was even shaking on stage. Did anyone see it?"
Angela shook her head. "I didn't. Everyone was too impressed with your voice. Though I have to say I'm quite jealous; you've spoken about your tutor, but I've never heard his name. Who is he?"
For a brief moment, a look of hesitation and doubt flashed across her face. She glanced around her dressing room, as if there might have been some secret spy pressed into a corner. Then she leaned in closer to her friend and whispered, "Can you keep a secret?"
Angela nodded vigorously.
Taking a deep breath, Bella began. "You know that my father died very many years ago. But before he died, he told me that should he ever leave me behind, he'd send me the Angel of Music to guide me and watch over me. And then when your mother brought me here, the Angel of Music found me and taught me everything I know." Bella's eyes lit up in sweet, naïve excitement. "That is who has been teaching me; the Angel of Music, just like my father promised."
Angela looked doubtful. "How does he find you then?"
"Whenever I go to the chapel to light a candle for my father, he speaks to me, he guides and protects me. I know that wherever I am, he will watch over me." She straightened a bit in her chair and breathed in deeply. "Even now, he is here with me. I can sense his presence."
Angela was still unconvinced, and a bit fearful that her friend was delusional. She was about to say something when she heard her mother screaming. "Oh no! I've been away for too long!"
"Go back then," Bella whispered. "Hurry, before you are in even more trouble!"
The two of them giggled and Angela quickly opened the door and ran back to practice.
Finally alone in her dressing quarters, Bella began to change out of her cumbersome gown and into her nightgown. The Angel always told her that a good night's rest was the best way to rejuvenate one's voice and if she was to continue filling in for Jessica Newton, she would need to have her voice in good condition.
Just as she was pulling her dressing robe over her nightclothes, a knock came at the door. Curious, she slowly crossed the room and opened the door, only to find the handsome Vicomte, Jacob Black standing before her, holding in his hands a huge bouquet of the reddest roses in France.
"Bella?" he asked tentatively. "Is that really you?"
Bella's face split into a wide grin when she finally recognized her childhood friend. "Jake!" she cried jubilantly as she threw her arms around his neck. "Oh, it's been so long!"
He chuckled into her hair. "It certainly has." When they parted, Bella took the roses from him and set them on her mirror. "Little Bella you've grown so."
She blushed. "So have you, Jake. I hardly recognized you when you walked into the theater."
"Nor I you," he replied. Then he smiled widely. "Oh, Bella, you were absolutely amazing tonight. How about we celebrate? Have you eaten yet?"
She reluctantly shook her head. "No, but—"
"Then you must come with me. I'll have my horses ready in two minutes." He had already stood to go. "We'll talk about all our adventures since we last saw each other."
"Jacob, I can't," she insisted. "My tutor is very strict. I can't go with you."
He laughed as if it were some fine joke. "Two minutes," he reminded her as he swept out of the room and closed the door securely behind him.
Bella shook her head. She couldn't go with him; the Angel would not permit it.
Then she heard him.
"Insolent boy, this slave of fashion—basking in your glory," a booming, yet somehow quiet voice echoed through the dressing quarters. Bella felt a thrill of shivers and gooseflesh crawling all over her skin. It was such a strong sense of foreboding, yet velvety sweet that she knew she would do all she could for him.
"Ignorant fool, this brave young suitor—sharing in my triumph!"
Bella opened her mouth to try and placate her furious Angel. "Please forgive me, my Angel. Please! I was weak, I shouldn't have—I need your guidance, I need your help. Please, I beg you, please show yourself."
She was afraid when he didn't answer immediately. Then he finally (and very quietly) answered, "I will. But please, do not be afraid of me."
Bella's heart began beating faster when she realized that he was going to reveal himself—that she would finally get to see him. She turned to her mirror and sucked in a breath when she saw a tall, masculine figure with pale, ghostly skin. His hair was a sort of coppery blonde and his eyes were a vivid ruby color ringed with gold. The rest of his features were so angelic that she was sure he truly was the Angel, the one her father had promised.
"Come to me," he whispered. "Come to me, my Angel of Music."
Suddenly, the glass in the mirror seemed insubstantial as she reached through the frame to touch him. All that mattered to her in that moment was being with him, being with her protector, her guide, her mentor.
Meanwhile, Jacob came back to Bella's dressing room to take her out on the town. He tried twisting the knob and quickly realized that the door was locked. Then he heard the voice.
"Bella?" he asked a bit hysterically. "Bella! Bella, what's going on? Open this door!"
But she was too far gone. She slipped her hand into his pale one, and he wrapped his cold fingers around hers. The electricity that flowed through the two of them was nearly tangible.
"Bella, please open this door! What is going on? Bella!" he continued to shout and bang against the door. He was almost desperate enough to knock the door down.
"Bella…" the Angel whispered as he held onto her hand, relishing the warmth of her hand against his. "My Angel…"
He led her through an underground tunnel, dark and dramatic, mysterious and slightly dangerous. Bella's skin was tingling with anticipation and excitement.
"The Phantom of the Opera is there…inside my mind…"
A/N - If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask! By the way: Je suis desole means I'm sorry in French.