Author's Note: A few notices and disclaimers to mention… first of all, the Phantom has repented in my fics and is no longer an enemy of Raoul (they're not exactly friends, either, but they're not enemies; my fic "In Search of Answers" explains how they got to this point). Secondly, if there's anything in this story that looks like a cameo or a reference to a certain Egyptian-themed anime (and a fic I wrote for it called "Erasing the Cartouches"), it probably is (but this won't be a crossover)! Lastly, I don't own these characters, except for the main villain. Thanks to The Duelist's Heiress and LuckyLadybug for their support!
"Raoul!" Christine exclaimed. "Raoul, there's a letter from the head of the Egyptology expedition you helped to fund!"
"It's about time," Raoul answered. "They started their search a year ago. If I may…"
Christine handed him the envelope. Within it were several newly-developed photographs and one letter.
"Have they found anything?" Christine asked.
"They think they've found the mummy and possessions of a New Kingdom Pharaoh," Raoul said. "His tomb was discovered many years earlier, but was found empty."
"And they finally tracked him down?" asked Christine, intrigued.
"Apparently. The Pharaoh's coffin and all of his treasures were found in an unmarked cave in the Valley of the Kings. The archaeologists have been instructed not to move any of the artifacts or open the coffin until I've had a chance to inspect everything for myself."
"Formalities, I suppose; you are the sponsor, after all," said Christine. "I envy you, Raoul…"
"Don't envy me yet," he said. "It seems I'll have to be leaving for Egypt soon; they want me there as soon as possible."
"How long do you think you'll be gone?"
"I expect we'll be there until they've uncovered everything and moved it all to the museum…"
"Yes, I suppose…" she began, but trailed off. "'We'!?"
"You didn't think for a minute that I'd let you miss out on a find like this, did you?" he asked, with a smile.
"Oh, Raoul!" she gasped, excited. "We're both going!? Oh, I must tell Meg about this; she'll be so intrigued about this too! …And if we're going to Egypt, I shall be needing a new sun hat…"
"Don't you want to see the photographs?" asked Raoul, handing them to her. "You can even see the hieroglyphs on the coffin. Here's the unmarked cave our team found. And there's the picture of the empty tomb that another archaeological team found all those years ago."
"Oh, Raoul, this is incredible!" she whispered. "And to think that no one has seen these in thousands of years! …But why would a treasure trove like this be in an unmarked cave?"
"I don't know any more than you do," Raoul replied. "But we'll find out when we get there, won't we?
"Yes! And I cannot wait!" she exclaimed. "Get us seats on the next boat if you can! Could I take these pictures to show Meg?"
"If you like," said Raoul. "But I never knew you were so interested in ancient Egypt."
"Oh… well… there's so much about them we don't know" she said, a faraway look in her eye. "I've heard stories that they had all sorts of secrets and magic and who knows what else…?"
"Perhaps we'll uncover some of those secrets for you while we're there," he replied. "Hopefully something we don't know… if we're lucky."
"And I like the idea that the ancient Egyptians had about being able to contact a soul even after he or she leaves this world," Christine went on, now sounding wistful. "I wouldn't deny that I want to speak to Father again… There's so much that I wish to tell him. Raoul, do you think the Egyptians really did have magic that could let us talk to the other side?"
She sounded so hopeful that Raoul didn't want to disappoint her.
"That can be something else we can look into when we get there," he promised her, in a soft voice. "Now, I don't want you worrying about that right now, alright? You were looking forward to this a little while ago. I want you to have a good time while we're there. Now, about the boat tickets… how long will it take you to pack?"
"We can leave tonight for a port city and leave for Egypt soon after!" she said, her excitement rekindling.
"Tonight? Are you sure?"
"I'll be amazed if I can get through the journey there without losing my mind from anticipation!" she replied. "Oh, Raoul, thank you so much!"
She kissed him and ran out the door to visit Meg, pictures in hand.
Meg wasn't as interested in Egyptology as Christine was, but she did express a polite interest as Christine went on about the upcoming trip. Christine departed the Girys' residence sometime later, her head so much in the clouds that she did not notice that she had walked right by the Phantom of the Opera.
"Christine?" he asked.
"Angel!" she exclaimed with a sigh. "Angel, I'll soon be in Egypt!"
"Come again…?" asked the Phantom, thoroughly confused.
"Raoul and I are going to Egypt!" she said. "Hopefully, we'll be leaving for a port tonight and go on from there!"
"What's in Egypt?" asked the musician, trying to recall when he had last seen the girl so happy.
"Well, about a year ago, an archaeological group contacted us; this was shortly after our wedding. They asked us if we would fund and sponsor an excavation in the Valley of the Kings, and now, they've found something!" she said, and she showed him the photographs. "See?"
The Phantom glanced at the hieroglyphs on the Pharaoh's coffin.
"'Now one with Osiris, here rests Lord Sethos'…" he began, but trailed off at the look on Christine's face.
"You can read hieroglyphs!?" she asked, glancing at him with a newfound admiration.
"I was interesting in Egyptology as a child growing up under the Opera Populaire," he explained. "I taught myself how to read hieroglyphs; it took me years to master it."
"Then I shall be sending you so many letters and pictures for you to translate," she assured him. "Oh, I don't know how I'm supposed to wait to get there! And I still to need to buy a new sun hat…"
She walked on, virtually floating.
The Phantom pondered over what she had just told him.
Raoul, in the meantime, had booked the tickets, as per Christine's request. He had hoped that she would be pleased about going to Egypt, and she had been beyond pleased. And Raoul was determined to make this trip to Egypt the most romantic trip possible.
He was already planning everything out. He would take her to all of the sights that could be seen. They would travel down the Nile by boat. They would sit beneath the Great Sphinx. They would traverse through the Great Pyramid and through the Valley of the Kings. And he would tell her over and over that she was far more beautiful than all of the gold and jewels they could ever find in Egypt.
He was brought back to reality upon Christine's return.
"Did you find your sun hat?" he asked.
"I did!" she replied. "Did you book the tickets?"
"We're leaving for Nice by train in a few hours, and we leave for Egypt tomorrow at dawn," he replied.
"Oh, Raoul, how am I supposed to wait!?"
He merely shrugged.
"So what did Meg say when you told her?" he asked.
"Would you believe it if I told you that she was only half-interested?" Christine replied, with a shake of her head. "Can you believe her? Even the Angel was more interested than she was…"
"You mean that you told the Opera Ghost that we were going to Egypt?" asked Raoul. "Whatever for?"
"Well, yes! He should know that we won't be in town; maybe he can travel abroad somewhere while we're gone and take his music around Europe," she said. "That will be nice for him, won't it?"
"He can read hieroglyphs, Raoul!" she said.
"When it comes to the Opera Ghost, nothing surprises me anymore," Raoul replied.
"He was able to translate the text on the coffin; your team has found the mummy and treasure of a king called Sethos!"
"Remind me to thank him when I next see him," he answered, somewhat half-heartedly.
"I'm going to go upstairs and pack," said Christine, deciding to ignore Raoul's semi-derisive attitude towards the Phantom.
Christine lapsed into daydreams as they traveled to Nice. When they boarded the boat to Alexandria, she immediately glanced over the railing of the deck, letting the sea breeze lift her hair.
Raoul watched her in some amount of wonder; Christine never failed to surprise him. At some times, she would be the serious, deep-thinking young woman who longed for her father. At other times, she would be the budding star of the stage. And on rare occasions, such as today, she would be similar to the young girl that Raoul first met all those years ago. It dawned on him that their first meeting had been by the sea, such as the sea that they were on now. So many things about Christine seemed similar and different now, after all of those years.
"She's certainly excited about this, isn't she, Chagny?" asked the Phantom's voice.
"That's an understatement…" Raoul began, but then he trailed off as he glanced at the speaker. "You!? What are you doing here!?"
"What does it look like, Boy? I'm going to Egypt as well," the Phantom replied, stating the obvious.
"No…" said Raoul, in some amount of disbelief. "No, you aren't… Please tell me you aren't…"
"Angel!" Christine exclaimed, as she looked back at them. "Are you coming with us?"
"Indeed," the musician replied. "I thought that I could lend my knowledge of reading hieroglyphs to aid in the expedition."
"No…" Raoul thought. "This cannot be happening…"
If the Phantom was coming with them, that, in effect, preempted Raoul's plans for a romantic trip with Christine. The Phantom would want Christine's company, as well, and Raoul would be lucky to have so much as a second alone with her.
"But how were you able to afford the ticket?" Christine asked the Phantom.
"I managed to pick up some money during my travels through Europe," the Phantom said.
"But I don't recall seeing you board with the other passengers," she said. "How did you get here?"
"After sneaking through passageways all my life, sneaking aboard a boat was nothing."
"If you had a ticket, why did you bother with sneaking aboard?" asked Raoul. "Why not board like everyone else?"
"Because my mind doesn't work that way, Chagny," he replied.
"I'm amazed that it works at all…" Raoul muttered under his breath.
Thankfully, the Phantom didn't hear him.
"The Opera Ghost never boards a boat, he must sneak aboard it!" the Phantom went on.
"Well, we're certainly glad you decided to come," said Christine. "Aren't we, Raoul?"
"Oh… of course," he replied, successfully disguising the sarcasm in his voice.
"Now if you two will excuse me," said the Phantom. "It is time that the Opera Ghost made his rounds about this ship."
"We'll see you later, then," said Christine, as the Phantom departed. She soon returned to watching the waves.
"Wonderful…" Raoul thought, sarcastically. "Just when I think that Christine and I have this trip to ourselves, I find out otherwise. Is there any way things could get worse…?"
Some questions are better left unanswered.