"Kisses"

The first time, they were nine.

Always inseparable, they wandered the many corridors of the Opera together one afternoon after rehearsal, scaring each other with whispered stories about the Ghost that was rumored to haunt the very hallways they were traversing. Finally, frightened beyond wits yet both too stubborn to admit it, the blonde one took the brunette by the hand, leading her to a secret corner of the vast building, high above the stage. The catwalks shook beneath their slippered feet as they trembled, giggling as they scurried even higher than the stagehands, ultimately reaching their destination safe and sound.

"This is my secret place," said the blonde one, while the brunette regarded her in the utmost seriousness. "No one else knows of it, not even Mother."

"Why did you take me here, then?" asked the brunette, her doe eyes wide in unveiled surprise.

"Because," replied the blonde one, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "Because you're my best friend, Christine."

The brunette sat in stunned silence for a moment—she had never been a best friend before. Then, besieged with gratitude, she leaned forward and touched her lips to the blonde's, a sign of overwhelming thanks and trust and innocent, sisterly affection, forging a bond between them that both hoped with all their young hearts would never be broken.

-----

The second time, they were sixteen.

The blonde one sat on the chaise longue in the luxurious dressing room, her blue eyes wide as she listened to her companion's tale.

"What did he do?" she asked.

"He sang to me," said the brunette. Her voice was a rasp, her throat dry as she remembered what had occurred in that underground kingdom with her Angel—no, the Phantom. "And he—he… he touched me, Meg."

"Touched you?"

The brunette nodded, taking her friend's hand and pulling her up from the chair, positioning herself behind her, placing her hands gently on the blonde one's slender shoulders. "I'll show you."

Slender hands brushed over the pale skin of slender shoulders, scooping down an exposed neck and developed breasts, skirting a toned abdomen before coming to rest in the curve of a hip. Brunette curls provided a cushion for a head as it rested against a shoulder, air whispering over pink lips and tickling skin.

Before either knew what was happening, caught up in the moment, two sets of lips met awkwardly in a brief, messy, wet kiss, leaving both girls breathless and embarrassed for the remainder of the day.

-----

The third time, they were twenty.

Now swollen with child, her brunette curls pinned up elegantly, she let go of her husband's hand and made her way towards the figure waiting at the end of the empty train platform. The train behind them whistled, and she knew to hurry, knew she couldn't miss the train that would whisk her away south, away from her beloved Paris, possibly forever.

The blonde one held out her hands, took her friend's, held them silently for a moment, the train whistling again.

"Goodbye," whispered the brunette, tears blurring her vision.

The blonde one said nothing, pulled the other first into an embrace, then smiled, leaned forward and touched her lips to the brunette's, a sign of overwhelming thanks and trust and innocent, sisterly affection. The brunette had to leave then, turn back and head into the train, off to her new life.

As she walked away, the blonde one watched and thought fondly of the first time; as the train pulled away, the brunette thought instead of the second.