Author's Note: My first POTO fanfic! I am pro-Raoul, so I wanted to write a story about him after the musical… I hope you like it! Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, except for Theraphosé (in case you're wondering, the name is derived from "Theraphosidae," the family of spiders better known as tarantulas… I have a habit of naming villains after spiders…).
The sun was beginning to set in the Parisian sky as Vicomte Raoul de Chagny returned to his estate. But as he approached the front doors, he sensed something amiss. Normally, he came home to hear the voice of his wife of six months, Christine, practicing for when she would get the chance to sing onstage again (and the chance would come again, as Raoul often assured her). But tonight, all was silent.
"Christine?" he called, as he entered.
All was dark; not a single lamp was lit.
"Christine!" he called out again.
"Raoul…?" a voice cried out, coming from the sitting room.
He was at her side in an instant, holding her in a reassuring embrace as she cried.
"Christine, what's happened?" he asked. "Why are you in the dark?"
"The lamps are broken… every single one," she replied, trying to calm down. "The entire place has been ransacked…"
"Are you alright!?"
"Did you see what happened?" asked Raoul.
"No," she answered. "I wasn't here."
Raoul breathed a sigh of relief. At least Christine hadn't been in any danger at the time.
"Meg and I had been out shopping for the afternoon," Christine explained. "And when I came back…" She indicated the mess around them. "Everything was like this."
"All that matters is that you are all right," Raoul whispered to her. "Have the servants taken inventory?"
"Nothing… nothing is missing," said Christine, her voice quivering more by the second. "Nothing has been stolen or lost…" She broke into sobs.
"Oh, Raoul…" she sobbed. "They… they left this…"
She handed him a sheaf of parchment and lit a few candles so that he could read it.
"A petition for my arrest!?" Raoul yelled.
Christine buried her face in her hands.
"That's why they were here!" she cried. "They were looking for evidence!"
"I cannot believe this…" said Raoul. "What are the charges?"
"You've been accused of the murder of your brother, Philippe," she explained. "Apparently, that night I was kidnapped and you went after me, Philippe went after you… and they never heard from him again. They thought that the both of you were fighting over me."
"This is ridiculous… I was being hung down there by that mad Opera Ghost; how could I have…?" he trailed off. "The Opera Ghost…"
"No…" said Christine. "Raoul--"
"He must have killed Philippe--"
"Raoul!" said Christine, on the verge of tears again. "Raoul, he let us go! Why would he kill Philippe after we had gone? And Meg told me that when she was down there, the Angel of Music had already gone; there wasn't a soul down there! I know him, Raoul. I saw the way his heart changed after I kissed him. He wouldn't have killed Philippe; Philippe must have gotten lost down there looking for you."
"That still doesn't help my predicament in any way…" said Raoul. "Do you know who filed the charges, by any chance?"
"Yes… I think it was a Monsieur Theraphosé…"
"Theraphosé? He's a distant cousin that was mentioned in my father's will …" Raoul paused. "He's framed me!"
"You think he knows something about Philippe?" Christine asked.
"I don't know…" he answered. "But it makes sense… if I am convicted of this crime, I'll lose my titles, and based on the will, they'll go to him…"
"There's more at stake here than your titles, Raoul," said Christine, crying again. "Theraphosé is trying to make you look like a villain; he's petitioning for capital punishment."
"There has to be a way to clear my name," said Raoul. "All the evidence must still be down in the Opera cellars."
"But you don't know your way down there!" she gasped. "You'd end up getting lost yourself!"
"You've been down there more times than I have; do you know--?"
"Not enough," she sighed.
That was when Raoul realized that there was only one person who could clear his name: the Phantom of the Opera.
"Christine," said Raoul. "Have you heard anything at all these past six months from the Opera Ghost?"
Christine glanced at him, reading his mind.
"No one knows the cellars better than he," agreed Christine. "But… no one knows where he is. Madame Giry told me she had received word from him three months ago, and then he was in Switzerland."
"So much for that idea…" sighed Raoul. "Not that he'd help me even if he was here."
"He would if I asked him," said Christine. "But isn't there anything I can do for you now, Raoul?"
"I don't think so," he replied, kissing her. "You'd only get yourself in trouble."
"Raoul, why did this have to happen now when we were so happy?" she asked.
"I will tell you why," said a voice. "Monsieur le Vicomte got too greedy for his own good."
"Theraphosé!?" asked Raoul.
"What are you trying to do!?" Raoul demanded. "I didn't kill Philippe, and you know it."
"Then where is he?" accused Theraphosé.
"How would I know!?"
"I can vouch for Raoul," said Christine, angrily. "Raoul was in the Opera cellars helping me."
"Your word means nothing," snarled Theraphosé.
"Listen here--" she began.
"Now is not the time, Christine," said Raoul.
He seized her arm and the two of them fled.
"Where are we going, Raoul?" asked Christine.
"I have to get you somewhere safe," he replied. "Would Madame Giry be willing to help?"
"I'm sure she would hide us," agreed Christine.
"Not us, Christine. You. I may not have much of an idea how to navigate the Opera cellars, but I must try, even if it is the last thing I do."
"Why do I fear that it will be…?"
Raoul didn't know how to reply to her.
"I shall try to return soon," he said at last.
"And I shall pray that you do so," she answered, kissing him.
Raoul entered the burned-out interior of the Opera Populaire. The place seemed eerily silent. As he progressed further into the ruined building, he became aware of a faint but familiar melody being played. Perhaps an old gramophone was somewhere in the building, and a child, entering on a dare, no doubt, had set it to play.
Raoul went on, towards the entry of the passageway Madame Giry had shown him six months earlier, and he was aware that the melody was louder now. It was as he began the hazardous trek down the passageway that he recognized the music: Don Juan Triumphant. And Raoul knew that there was only one person who knew it well enough to be playing it now. The Phantom had returned to Paris.
Raoul quickened his pace, being sure to bypass the trapdoor that had tried to claim him during his last journey into the cellars. The melody had stopped now. And in the shadows, just in front of him, Raoul saw a length of rope headed for his neck.
But he had expected it, and dove aside.
"Opera Ghost!" he called, raising a lantern in front of him.
"Welcome, Vicomte!" a voice answered him. "And may I congratulate you on not falling for the same trick twice?"
Raoul's eyes narrowed. The last thing he needed was to be patronized by his rival.
"I'll make this to the point," said Raoul. "The night of the fiasco, did you see anyone else in the cellars besides Christine or me?"
"And if I did?"
"Tell me where."
"And how would such information benefit you, Vicomte?"
Raoul knew that the Phantom was merely trying to bait him.
"Fine," said Raoul, turning away. "Your assistance is not required."
Even as he turned, he heard the sounds of movement and was unsurprised to see the Phantom standing before him in the lamplight.
"I am no fool, Chagny," the Phantom said. "You would not come to me for aid unless either you or Christine was in dire trouble."
"But there would be no point in asking you," said Raoul.
"Is that so?"
"Why would you help me?" Raoul asked, bitterly.
"Why did you ask in the first place?" the Phantom countered.
"Monsieur le Vicomte!?" a voice cried from above.
"Meg!?" Raoul called back.
"Monsieur, urgent news!"
Raoul pushed past the Phantom and ran out of the passageway.
"What is it?"
"Tres horrible!" Meg gasped. "Christine… Christine has been captured!"
"For aiding your escape," Meg explained.
Raoul knew exactly where this was going. With Christine in trouble, the others knew that he would go to her like a moth to a flame.
"I'll have to think of something…" Raoul answered. "In the meantime, you and Madame Giry lay low."
Meg nodded and left.
Raoul sighed to himself as he attempted to size up the situation, but his train of thought was interrupted by the reappearance of the Phantom.
"Christine arrested!?" he demanded.
"This doesn't concern you," Raoul informed him.
"If it concerns Christine, it concerns me!" the Phantom retorted. "I gave you two the clearance to marry!"
"'Clearance'!?" Raoul asked, derisively.
"You aren't the only one who cares for Christine," the Phantom reminded him.
"I know," said Raoul, still bitter. "That was why I bothered asking for your help. But I realize that she is my responsibility. I am her husband."
"And I am still her Angel of Music," said the Phantom.
"All you really need to know about this is that I've been framed for the death of my brother, Philippe. So, I came here to see if I could find his remains. That would clear my name."
"I see," said the Phantom. "Are you aware of the amount of ground to cover in the cellars, without including the lake?"
"I have my work cut out for me," Raoul agreed. "But if I succeed, I can clear my name and now free Christine."
"Very well, Chagny," said the Phantom. "I shall help you search."
"And in exchange?" Raoul asked.
"I request nothing in exchange but to speak to Christine again."
"That's it…?" Raoul asked. "She's often talked about getting back in touch with you. I told her that I trust her and that it's fine with me. But unless we find Philippe, neither of us will get the chance to speak to her again."
The search went on, fruitlessly, and Raoul's patience was wearing thin.
"I've just about had it…" he muttered to no one in particular.
"Giving up, are you?" asked the Phantom.
Raoul didn't reply.
"You know what I think, Chagny?"
"What?" asked Raoul, annoyed.
"I think your brother met with foul play," said the Phantom. "In which case, we won't find him in the passageway.
"Wouldn't it make sense if my cousin was somehow at the bottom of it," said Raoul.
"The case or the lake?" mused the Phantom.
Raoul glared at him.
"I realize that this is all very amusing for you, but kindly leave your commentaries to yourself!"
The Phantom shrugged.
"It is safe to assume," the Phantom then said. "That your brother would not be in my part of the lake, as I keep that place sealed off by portcullis, as you might remember."
"All too well," Raoul agreed.
"Did you not notice anything when you and Christine were at the other end of the lake?"
"I… didn't look… I didn't even know that Philippe was missing."
"I wouldn't have expected you to have a look around," said the Phantom. "What with escaping from my wrath…"
There were several comments Raoul could have made, but he chose to remain silent.
"The quickest way to get to the other end of the lake is by boat. However, I lent you mine," said the Phantom.
"I left it by the lakeside," said Raoul, trying to recall the scene. "That would have made it all too easy for anyone trying to hide evidence in the lake. I can't believe how foolish I was."
Raoul glared at him again.
"I don't suppose there is a passageway that leads to the other end of the lake?" he asked, biting back a retort.
"There is," the Phantom replied.
"Here's the boat," said Raoul, inspecting it. "Maybe it wasn't used after all…"
"Of course, someone else could have left it here after using it…"
"Chagny!" roared the Phantom.
Raoul looked up to see the Phantom with his arms raised in surrender. Looking around, he noticed Theraphosé and his entourage of servants all around the cavern, bows and arrows aimed at him and the Phantom.
"Greetings, Vicomte," said Theraphosé. "I'm afraid I cannot allow you to inspect the lake. It would be highly damaging to me."
"So you are the one who killed Philippe, then…" Raoul accused.
"I shall not deny it; however, you shall do me the honor of carrying out my sentence."
Raoul took a step forward, seething with rage.
"Don't even try," said the Phantom, in an undertone. "We are outnumbered."
"What will become of Christine?" Raoul demanded to Theraphosé.
"Oh, fear not," he replied. "She will be released. And I shall take great pleasure in courting the Widow de Chagny."
"Not whilst the Opera Ghost still roams Paris!" the Phantom roared, before Raoul could reply.
As he spoke, the Phantom activated one of the traps. Water poured from overhead, dousing all of the torches and plunging the cavern into darkness. Now the only light came from Raoul's lantern.
"The passageway, Chagny!" the Phantom ordered.
Raoul understood and fled the way they had come. Arrows were launched blindly by Theraphosé and his men, one of them nearly clipping Raoul on the ear, but he managed to reach the passageway unhurt.
"Run!" the Phantom snarled. "It won't take them long to find this passageway!"
It was after about a mile down the passageway that Raoul paused, halting at a divide in the tunnel.
"Where do we go from here?" he asked.
Raoul held the lantern out, but there was no sign of the Phantom.
"Opera Ghost!?" he called.
Raoul was furious. The Phantom had gone off to save himself and leave Raoul at the mercy of the pursuers. Or had he? Raoul realized that he hadn't come across any divides until now.
Against his better judgment, Raoul went back along the passageway. After about two minutes, he found him.
Although Raoul had escaped from the rain of arrows unscathed, the Phantom had not been as fortunate. He had collapsed to the floor of the passageway, and, in the lamplight, Raoul could see an arrow planted between the Phantom's shoulder blades.
"You're wounded!" Raoul exclaimed, amazed that the Phantom had come so far despite it.
"I hadn't… noticed…" the Phantom growled, not losing his sarcasm. "What are you… still doing here?"
"I didn't know where you'd vanished to--" Raoul began.
"You fool!" the Phantom snarled, in obvious pain. "Get going!"
"Have you gone completely mad!?" asked Raoul. "You'll die down here!"
"You think… I don't know!? If you don't leave now… we'll both be captured… I'm finished either way… … … Why would you save me…? I tried to kill you… Why would you care…?"
Raoul wasn't sure. Yes, the Phantom had tried to kill him. Six months ago, Raoul probably would have left him there…
"Just go, Chagny…" the Phantom said. "This is retribution… for Buquet… for Piangi… for trying to kill you… this is my punishment…"
Raoul could hear the distant voices of Theraphosé and his entourage. He only had moments to make his decision.
Raoul pulled the arrow from the Phantom's back and helped him to his feet.
"You fool…" the Phantom growled. "Do you know what you're doing!?"
"I believe it's called, 'saving a life.'"
Raoul and the Phantom managed to escape the cellars just ahead of Theraphosé. They both returned to the Girys, where Raoul explained what happened as Madame Giry tended to the Phantom's wound.
"I didn't get a chance to look for the evidence, but at least I can tell the Chief Inspector where to find it," said Raoul. "I pray they'll release Christine."
"But the police aren't holding Christine," said Meg. "Theraphosé took the law into his own hands. He's holding her in one of the guardhouses on his property."
"I see…" fumed Raoul. "I'm going to rescue her."
Unfortunately, Theraphosé had been aware that Raoul had escaped the cellars and had already anticipated his arrival to attempt to save Christine. In no time at all, Raoul was thrown into a second guardhouse.
"I shall fetch the Chief Inspector," taunted Theraphosé. "Farewell!"
Raoul slammed his fist into the guardhouse door, cursing himself for falling into the trap.
"I told you that you were a fool, Chagny," said the Phantom.
"They captured you, too?" Raoul asked. "How is the wound?"
"Better. Madame Giry knows her herbal remedies, bless her."
"I can't believe this…" said Raoul. "Christine is in the very next guardhouse, and I'll probably never see her again."
"You know that you would have rescued her had you left me in the cellars."
"I am aware of that," said Raoul.
"I wouldn't wish that kind of death on anyone," he explained. "I don't regret what I've done. I only wish I could see Christine again."
"Go see her, then."
"How!?" asked Raoul.
"There's a convenient hole in the roof of this guardhouse," said the Phantom.
"That doesn't do me any good without a rope…" he trailed off as the Phantom brought out one of his many lassos. "You weren't captured at all!" Raoul realized. "You came here to get me out! Why!?"
"To repay a debt."
In a matter of minutes, Raoul, Christine, and the Phantom were all free.
"Oh, Raoul!" gasped Christine. "I was so worried! I…" she trailed off as she saw the Phantom. "Angel…?"
"Christine…" the Phantom replied.
But whatever he was about to say was preempted by the arrival of Theraphosé.
"Oh, no…" said Christine. "Both of you, please go! You'll be in so much trouble…"
The Phantom merely retreated to the nearest shadow, while Raoul stood his ground.
"Christine, no matter what happens to me, I'll always love you," he whispered.
"Here you are, Chief Inspector," said Theraphosé.
"Monsieur Theraphosé, I must inform you that I shall not be arresting Monsieur le Vicomte," the Inspector replied.
"What…?" asked Raoul, hardly believing his ears.
"I was delivered a most unusual letter moments before you arrived, Monsieur," said the Inspector. "If I may… 'Monsieur Chief Inspector, it has come to my attention that the Vicomte de Chagny has been falsely accused of murder. The boy is blameless; he would not leave me, his worst enemy, for dead. How could he slay anyone? You shall find all the evidence to clear his name and, at the same time, convict Monsieur Theraphosé in the bottom of the underground lake. The Vicomte and his wife have every right to remain free. Sincerely, O.G.'"
"You take the word of the Opera Ghost!?" sputtered Theraphosé.
"Sometimes the testimony of an enemy can be more valuable than that of a friend," said the Inspector. 'Now, as for you…"
Raoul and Christine were no longer listening; they just exchanged glances and embraced.
After everyone left, the Phantom reappeared.
"Angel, thank you!" said Christine, embracing him as well.
"I still cannot believe I owe my life to a fool," said the Phantom.
"You're welcome," said Raoul, with a roll of his eyes.
"Will you be staying in Paris?" asked Christine.
"Not whilst the search goes on underground, but I shall return someday," the Phantom replied.
"Good luck," offered Raoul. "And thank you."
"Farewell, Angel," added Christine.
With a nod, the Phantom departed.
"Raoul," said Christine, after some time. "What made you decide to save him?"
"It's as I told him; I wouldn't wish a fate like that on anyone. And also, I thought of you."
"The Opera Ghost spared my life because of you. So I saved his life because I knew you would have been crushed if he had died."
"I don't know if he'd have done the same for you," said Christine. "Even after changing his ways…"
"I think that's why he called me a fool for saving him," said Raoul.
"Thank you for saving him," she said, embracing him again.
Raoul returned her embrace, and the couple headed home, chatting casually, but both of them wondering when they would cross paths again with the Phantom of the Opera.