Author's Note: I've spent a great deal of time pondering over how old the Phantom was during the love triangle. I know that Christine was about 17 and Raoul was about 20, so I'm going to guess that the Phantom was about 27 at the time. I know he was much older in the book, but I'm trying to go by the musical/movie for this one (expect for the part about Philippe)… Anyway, this story takes place a couple years after one of my other fanfics, "In Search of Answers," and there are one or two references to that story. Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, except for Giselle
The Eiffel Tower shined in the distance, and he knew that he was almost home. He hadn't been home in almost two years… if one could call the cellars of the Opera Populaire a home.
The Phantom had to consider this; he never had a true home during his life of 29 years. Oh, he always had a place to stay, some more hospitable than others, but they couldn't be considered a true home. No… home was a place where one was loved, and he had never been in a place where he had been loved. Abandoned by his mother, forced to work as a sideshow attraction, shunned by all who looked upon his face, regardless of his inner virtues…
But there was Christine... she had been the first one to love him. She had made Paris seem like home. That was why he was headed there now.
For two years now, the Phantom had been traveling all over Europe, performing his music to anyone open-minded enough to listen. Oh, they had loved his music… but had disliked his face. He probably would have kept on searching… searching for someone open-minded enough to accept him as he was… searching for another Christine, who could understand his thoughts and read his emotions… But his search was interrupted when an announcement in a newspaper caught his eye. He still had the piece of paper in his pocket. It consisted on only one sentence, and yet, it told him a wealth of information.
"A daughter, Giselle, was born to the Count and Countess de Chagny on 12th June, 1873."
It was a mere sentence. But he learned from that one sentence that life had been good to Christine. Raoul had obviously been cleared of all suspicions for the disappearance of his brother, Philippe, and had also been granted his brother's title of Count. And Christine was now a mother.
The Phantom had mixed emotions about this; he still loved Christine—of course he did! His love for her would never fade, as unrequited as it may forever be! But he always had the image in his mind of the young girl who would sing for him every time she stood upon the stage. She was not a young girl anymore, he realized. But he had faith that her deep care and concern for him would never waver, even after these two years.
And this girl… Giselle, was it? How would she turn out? How would she come to view the Phantom of the Opera, after her parents told her his story? No… it was their story. Would she be as open-minded as her mother? Or would she be as judgmental as her father?
But perhaps Raoul wasn't as judgmental anymore; after all, the boy had saved the Phantom's life when he had been wounded by an arrow. They had been pursued at the time, and Raoul decided not to abandon him. The Phantom had returned the favor by writing a letter to the Chief Inspector vouching for Raoul's innocence in the disappearance of Philippe. The Phantom had left Paris shortly after that, and had not heard from him or Christine; that was partly his fault, since he had been constantly traveling.
These were the thoughts in his head as he approached the Chagny estate. The family valet opened the door.
"Might I know the reason of your visit, Monsieur?" the valet asked.
The Phantom wasn't too sure of the answer; true, he had headed for Paris immediately upon reading about Giselle's birth. But why had he been so quick to return to a city where only one person really cared for him? It was because there was one person who would still care for him that he returned.
"Monsieur?" the valet asked.
"I… I wish to see Christine."
"And may I know who is the one requesting audience with the Countess?" he asked.
"Tell her that it is her Angel of Music."
"Wait here, please."
The door was closed again. It would be up to Christine if she would want to see him. But why wouldn't she? She would still find it in her heart to accept him, even though time had passed…
The door opened again.
"This way, Monsieur."
The Phantom was led to the drawing room. He caught only a glimpse of the lavish room when he felt familiar arms around him.
"Welcome back, Angel!"
His arms were around her now; it was the embrace of two old friends, he realized, but he was grateful for it nonetheless.
She pulled away, indicating him to sit down. He stared into her eyes for a moment; she may have been slightly older than when he last left her, but her eyes still shone as they had always done.
Raoul was also present in the room; he acknowledged his welcome with a slight nod, which the Phantom returned.
"Where have you been all this time?" asked Christine, eager to hear about his travels.
The Phantom entertained her with stories of his travels abroad.
"I only came back to Paris after reading in the newspaper about Giselle," he said. "It took me two months to get here."
Christine stood up now, smiling.
"Would you like to see her?" she asked.
See the child!? The Phantom had not expected this.
"Do you think that wise?" he asked.
"Why wouldn't it be?" she asked, genuinely confused.
The Phantom subconsciously placed his hand upon his mask, and Christine read his mind.
"You're afraid that you might scare her…?"
He didn't reply.
"She's only two months old," said Raoul, speaking for the first time. "I highly doubt they're discriminating at that age."
"He's right, Angel," said Christine. "Don't you want to see her?"
"Of course I want to see her," said the Phantom. "But I wouldn't want to frighten the poor girl--"
"I insist you see her!" said Christine, taking his hand.
She and Raoul led the Phantom to the nursery where the two-month-old child was fast asleep in her cradle. Christine tenderly took the child in her arms.
"Ella…" she whispered, softly. "Someone is here to see you, Ella!"
With a yawn, the little girl awoke, and Christine turned back to the Phantom, who was stricken speechless.
"Would you like to hold her, Angel?"
She didn't wait for his response; she placed the child in his arms. The Phantom glanced at the tiny life in his arms. Giselle's hair and complexion so much mirrored that of her mother's. Yet she had Raoul's fiery blue eyes, which were now taking in his masked face.
And to his amazement, the baby smiled at him. The child, like her mother, sensed the aura in his heart and knew at once of his care and concern.
Raoul cleared his throat now.
"Christine and I were discussing a few things after Giselle was born," he said. "One of them was that she has no other relatives besides Christine and myself. Christine had a thought, concerning you and Giselle."
The Phantom glanced at Christine again.
"It was my idea, and Raoul did agree with me," she said, exchanging glances with Raoul. "Would you like to be Ella's godfather?"
This was more than the Phantom had bargained for; he would have considered himself lucky that he had been able to see and hold the child! And he would have been content with that! But now Christine was asking him to be the girl's godfather! He, the Phantom of the Opera, who had been disowned by every member of his own family, was now being asked to be the godfather of the girl who had the most wonderful woman in the world for her mother!
"I… of course!" he replied.
Raoul and Christine exchanged glances; they had expected him to agree in the end.
The Phantom kissed the child tenderly on the forehead and handed her back to Christine.
He took his leave of the family soon after, wondering where to go from here. He had originally intended to continue with his travels upon completing his visit, but he had never expected to become the godfather of this child. He might travel some more for a little while… playing his music… but knew for certain that he would be returning to Paris very soon.
Yes… Paris had become his home.