Skye: Back again! Thank you for the kind reviews. I'm happy at least a few people liked this story. Some of you added me to your Favorites list; thank you, I'm extremely flattered. I hope you enjoy this next chapter, and if someone would be kind enough to inform me when I make Erik go OOC, I would appreciate it very much.

Many of you asked why Erik could not claim his daughter from Raoul, why our not-so-dear Vicomte has gone completely bananas and why Christine had so much trouble intervening. For this and other reasons, I will integrate a bit of Leroux, despite that my fic is based on the 2004 movie. Because of that, I will have to tailor some characters to suit my own needs. And Christine will be more involved within the story in due time; do not worry.

Notes: There was a mistake in last chapter, Mon means not mother, it means my! Sorry for the mistake, French I did not take! Apologies to those of you who found my error to be quite a heinous crime! (Check out the rhythm pattern in this note and see if you find the hidden something. Oh, yes, and I have taken French since this was written. )



"Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us."

-Oscar Wilde


A week's time had passed since my first visit with my real father. Pere had been teaching me regularly since that day, and his sessions gave me a reason to wake up the next morning. He had integrated schoolwork as well and found that I inherited his genius, easily flying through the most complicated works, then asking "Is that all?" It was a week of firsts for both of us, and they had not stopped coming. Frequently, we were amazed by each other and internally, ourselves. We were quite a pair.

No one close to or in the family had found out, although my mother did smile, brush some of my hair back from my face, and comment on how much happier I looked when I brought her the breakfast tray. I smiled in return. Hugo was too busy stuffing his face to notice, but my father frowned at her. She did not seem too remorseful about it when I left; she would not be punished for such a minor act. But then, the worst-case scenario happened. My father found out that I could read.

That day, Hugo was with his tutor in the study, receiving his Latin lesson. I had come in to dust and could hear them quite clearly, as they both ignored me.

Hugo's tutor was a thin, reedy man who always kept a handkerchief on his person to wipe his perspiring, balding brow. The latest of many schoolteachers come to teach the son of the great Vicomte, I sympathized with him and his predecessors. Hugo had the brain of a pistachio, the patience of a rodent, and the temper of a fire. And above all, those were the polite terms used to describe his condition.

"Now, young master Hugo, if you would please read the following sentences." Pushing up his glasses, the instructor wiped his brow.

Hugo's face screwed up in concentration. It had already become a bright shade of pink, not a good way to begin a lesson. His sweaty hand clutched the quill.

"Lae…lae…" His whiny voice was an abomination to the ears. Pere would have marched out the door with me in tow right now if he had heard this pathetic attempt at Latin.

"Laetatus," Monsieur Tutor prompted.

"Laetatus su…su…"

"Sum," he encouraged.

"Laetatus sum in…in…" His fat visage had turned a shade of tomato red. Angrily, he banged his hands upon the desk. "This is too hard! I don't want to do this anymore! You always have to make it hard for me! Why do I have to do it?"

"Now, young master Hugo," Monsieur Tutor quavered. "Let's not give up on it yet. Why don't we take a little recess and gather our thoughts, then try again?"

"Fine." Hugo stomped out, shoving me roughly as he passed and knocking my dusting rag to the floor. Monsieur Tutor knelt and handed it back to me, giving an understanding glance as he absconded.

Rubbing my shoulder, I picked up the workbook that Hugo had been wracking his brains over for the past five minutes. The sentences were not difficult, actually quite the opposite. A little Latin practice would not come amiss on my afternoon call. I read aloud in a firm, clear voice, projecting as Pere had wished me to do.

"Laetatus sum in his quae dicta sunt mihi in domum Domini bimus. Fiat pax in virtute tua et abundantia in turibus tuis."

A sharp gasp caused me to drop the primer. My father stood in the doorway in angered disbelief. I trembled as his eyes swept over the scene and came to rest upon me.

"You," he hissed scathingly. His hand shot out and dug into my shoulder, almost yanking me off the ground, dragging me down the corridor. He threw me in front of my mother, Hugo, and the tutor when he reached the atrium.

"Look at what your daughter has done!" He shoved the text in front of my mother's face. "I caught her in there…reading." He spat out the last word disgustedly, as if a horrible taste had caught itself upon his tongue.

The fiery pain of my shoulder crippled my right side, my face wrenched in pain. My mother hesitantly moved from her seat to put her arms around me. Hugo stood there, a prideful smirk gracing his visage.

Monsieur Tutor cleared his throat several times and then spoke tentatively. "Monsieur Vicomte, if I may say something."

"Speak." His anger was more controlled.

"Thank you. The passage the little girl was reading was some of the most beautiful, fluent Latin I have ever heard. She said it as if it were her mother tongue. I see no problem with her becoming literate, if she does so that wonderfully."

"Women should not know how to read," my father scoffed. "It gives them notions. First the books, then talking politics, then comes the desire to wear trousers like men. Only men should learn, for they are capable of digesting such complex topics."

He left, "I shall think of a punishment for her later. Come, Hugo."

The simper remained on the face of my brother as he exited. My mother had tears in her eyes as she gathered me in her arms. "He means well, Birdie, you must understand. He has a lot on his plate as a patron and his title and sometimes it becomes too hard for him to cope with."

"Oh, dear." Monsieur Tutor dithered. "Such a sight, dear me, such a sight. In all my years of work, I have never seen such a spectacle."

The only thing that brought me cheer after I had come back to the kitchens was that I would visit Pere soon.

Earlier than usual, Cook dismissed me. "Your father planned to come early today; he didn't want me to spoil the surprise. It is hard for both of you, Aye suppose."

I hugged her and departed, but not before donning the woolen socks and stockings given to me on my first stopover. Assuming my usual place at my grandfather's crypt, we met and climbed into the carriage for the ride over.

I could sense that Pere knew something was wrong. He gave no hint, though, asking me how I fared in my studies. I answered him truthfully and we went back and forth like this for the rest of the ride.

Brigitte greeted me warmly at the door, "Ah, Lady Bird! So wonderful to have someone in the house who actually makes noise."

Pere pretended to huff indignantly. "I was thinking about how nice it would be to have a maid that never complained or took pride in being a busybody."

"See!" She brandished her feather duster at him. "See how he insults me! Lady Bird, surely you exert some control over him!"

I shook my head, stifling my giggles.

"Ah, well." Brigitte smiled. "At least the pay is good and both of you make it worth my while." She clapped me on the shoulder, squeezing it.

That was when everything came out. I shrieked, crumpling to the ground as the blistering pain crippled me again.

Immediately, their playful teasing changed to intense concern. Brigitte dropped her feather duster and knelt, "Lady Bird, what's wrong?"

Pere frowned, gently pulling back the material of my dress to reveal the handprint and other assorted red marks. "Witch hazel, I think, and bandages. Brigitte?"

"Right away, monsieur." She exited immediately.

He carefully turned me so I was lying on my left side and picked me up delicately, as if I were china. My nose was pressed against the soft cotton of his shirt as he entered a side room and set me down on the bed.

Momentarily forgetting my pain, I stared wide-eyed at the room. I had never been in a bedroom this spacious. Brigitte laughed weakly, "If you think this is big, you should see your father's bedroom."

She handed the tub of ointment and bandages to my father, "I assume you will want to treat her."

He nodded, "Kindly divert her attention if you please."

The witch hazel stung, but the flow of the pain began to ebb as I talked and joked with Brigitte. Pere was too busy bandaging my arm to talk and besides, I could see the troubled, thoughtful expression on his face.

After he finished, I rubbed my arm out of habit. The arm was fine and I suddenly felt extremely drained of all my energy. Tired, I lay down on my left side again. Brigitte nodded to Pere and went away.

His hand gently stroked the small of my back, never deviating from the same trail. A few minutes passed and he spoke, "You know I care for you, correct?"

"Mm-hm." I would be lying if I said I was not afraid of my father at that point. I never really stopped being afraid of him. He and I loved each other dearly and he would rather die than harm me, but he scared me enough into being good.

"And you feel the same?"

"Of course I do." My voice wobbled a bit. Slowly but surely, he was working his magic.

He then shifted me so I was lying on my back, rendering it impossible for my eyes to avoid his. "Little bird, I love you deeply and I know you understand that. But we have a problem."

Pere drew me onto his lap, "I never allow those precious to me to be hurt and after the rare occurrences when it happens, I take vengeance on the perpetrators to ensure their safety." His soft gaze penetrated the hard outer shell I had tried to develop. "But I cannot help you if you do not willingly aid me."

He paused, allowing his words to sink in. My hunched shoulders shook with the weight of emotion I felt.

"I will ask you once, and if you do not wish to talk, just nod or shake your head." The gentle tone reminded me of how Cook used to speak to me when I was upset as a child. In my father's mind, obviously, I was still a frightened child whom he needed to be patient with. "Did the Vicomte injure you?"

"Yes." I met his stare, terribly panicked I would suffer punishment. But he clearly had no intention of carrying out such awful affairs when he embraced me. Lifting me once again, he strode down the hallway, I carefully cradled against his chest.

"No schoolwork today for you." he stated firmly as we came into the music room. "I am not sure that having your music lessons is best right now, either."

I gazed upon him as if he had told me to kill Cook and he laughed lightly. "You truly have my blood in your veins. Just music today."

A soft tinkling drifted from a corner, causing my father to set me down and walk in that direction. "Have to remember to shut that stupid contraption," he muttered, clearly vexed.

I followed him to see what the 'stupid contraption' was. A red fez-capped monkey wearing a matching gold-trimmed jacket and gold slippers sat cross-legged on top of a mahogany box clapping together a pair of cymbals as a rather pretty melody played. Its wise brown eyes seemed to twinkle with delight as the music went on.

"It's beautiful," I said reverently, inwardly sighing as my father shut the lid.

"It's yours." His palm rested on his forehead. "I really have no need for it anymore. The song, though, I know quite well."

"Is it one of yours?"

He nodded.

"Can you teach it to me? Please?"

"Very well. It is a favorite of mine, anyway, and I think you'll enjoy it. I shall go through it once for you. "

The introduction was fast-paced and joyous, but with an undertone of foreboding that lasted throughout the whole piece. He began to sing, fully taking pleasure in expressing the music, "Masquerade! Paper faces on parade! Masquerade! Hide your face so the world will never find you—"

And that was how I learned my first song written by my father. 'Masquerade' never left my life; I sang it millions of times and still do today.

I arrived home with nothing else but the bandages under my dress and a lighter heart. If I had carried the music box in with me, something might have happened to it.

Cook smiled when I came in the doorway. "Glad you're back. Just in time for dinner."

The usual rush of preparing a meal accompanied my currently musical thoughts as I prepared the beef that was to be served at the table. Humming 'Masquerade' under my breath, I went about my duties. All seemed normal, Cook sending Aimee upstairs to serve the family in my place.

Later in the evening, I prepared a basin of water for my mother to wash her face in. She sat on the bed in her dressing gown, smiling as I brought it to her. "Thank you, Birdie." She reached out to stroke my hair, but drew back as she heard footsteps on the stairs. I quickly left, taking the steps of the servants' staircase two at a time.

Crawling up the ladder to the loft, I curled under my blanket to sleep. I lay still and soon drifted off. Somewhere near daylight, a faint tinkling reached my ears. I awoke to see my father's music box sitting open on my nightstand. As the grey light of morning came, I watched the monkey play its cymbals and smile.

To this day, I still have no idea how it got there and my father refuses to tell me anything about it.


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