Disclaimor: None of it's mine, although my fiancé really does resemble the Vicomte... coincidence? Probably. -sigh-
A/N: I've had this in mind for a long time, and I'm finally going to sit down and do it. Do I have a secret motivation? Of course. But you won't find out about that until the end. This story is sort of (I hope) going to act as a bridge between the book and the movie/play... taking the history which is vaguely alluded to in the book and expounding upon it, while all the while setting the stage for the events which occur in the movie. So even if you are not familiar with one or the other, you should still be able to follow with no difficulties. Please enjoy!
Little Lottie let her mind wander...Little Lottie thought, 'Am I fonder of dolls or of goblins or of shoes?'
'Or of riddles or frocks?'
Those picnics in the attic...
'Or of chocolates?'
Father playing the violin
As we read to each other dark stories of the North?
No- what I love best, Lottie said, is when I'm asleep in my bed, and the Angel of Music sings songs in my head...
Christine exited the little cottage which she shared with her father quietly, taking extra care to shut the heavy wooden door as softly as possible, so that she wouldn't wake him. It was terribly cold out today -the salty ocean breeze was making the poor little girl's teeth chatter- and she wrapped her mother's bright red scarf tighter over her honey blond curls and around her pale neck, in a vain attempt to shut out the wind. Her father would be furious with her if he knew she was going outside to look at the sea in the middle of February, but she simply couldn't take listening to the dry hacking cough which plagued him any longar. She needed respite, if only for a moment.
Wandering down to the sandy dunes, Christine sat among the weather ravaged scrub-grass, pulling at it absentmindedly. Seven months. Seven whole long months since they had moved to the French coast. Her father's doctors had assured him that moving to a more temperate climate would be beneficial for his health, but to the frightened child aching with loneliness on the middle of an abandoned beach, he was sounding worse and worse. Christine tried to be a good girl, she really did, and to help him with the chores, and to not cry, but it was so very hard.
The mean boy who had lived next door to them back in Sweden had told her that her mother had died this same way, all those years ago. Christine had called him a liar, and yelled at him that 'people couldn't die from a cough.' He had told her that she was stupid then, that it wasn't the cough that killed them, but the poison in the blood which followed afterwards. Christine retorted that her father wouldn't die, that he was brave and strong and could never die, but listening to his rattling breath late into the night, she was no longer so sure.
In a sudden burst of frustration and grief Christine stood and ran towards the waves, heedless of the hem of her skirt, kicking up sand as she went. Bending down and picking up shells and rocks, anything within reach, Christine hurled them vengefully at the waves, sobbing;
"Don't take my papa away from me! Give him back! Give him the strength for his music again! Don't let him leave me! I don't want...I don't want to be alone..."
Collapsing onto the sand out of reach of the waves, Christine let herself cry until it felt like she couldn't anymore. Lying on the sand hiccoughing, listening to the waves as they crashed nearby and to the wind as it whistled overhead, it was like time didn't exist in such a lonely place. Curling into a tiny shivering mass, Christine wondered vaguely what she ought to do now: She didn't want her father to worry about her (if he was even awake), but she was scared to go back and listen to that raw, painful breathing again.
Her thoughts became interrupted suddenly when Christine became aware that she could hear voices. Shaking sand out of her hair, Christine sat upright, staring like some small frightened animal at the two figures who were headed slowly towards her. They looked like two men, an old one and a young one, with the youth leading. He was looking out over the waves, and for a few minutes Christine was lost in watching him, wondering how someone so young could still carry such presence and bearing, even from so far away. It was at that moment that he turned and looked straight at her.
Terrified, Christine scrambled to her feet and tore back towards the cottage, ignoring the startled calls behind her. Slipping in the sand, she didn't stop to look back until she had climbed to the top of the dune, pausing briefly to catch her breath.
The boy was a fast runner. He had already chased her to the bottom of the dune, and was standing there looking up at her with bright blue eyes, dark and deep like the waters of her home. He was calling up at her, but the foreign words were lost in the wind, and Christine turned from him then, only feet from the safety of the little stone cottage behind her.
Above the sheltered expanse of the sand dune, the winter wind tore at her hair and clothes with icy fingers, pulling at the scarf which had been loosened by her run and casting it away. With a cry Christine snatched at it, but to no avail, the cruel wind was already carrying the woven scarlet out over the waves, where it landed floating far from shore.
All fears of the strangers instantly forgotten, Christine chased after the precious thing, calling to it to stop in rapid Swedish. Tearing past the flabbergasted boy at the bottom of the dune, she would have thrown herself straight into the sea after it had not the youth caught her, wrapping his arms around her and holding her back.
"Let me go!" she demanded, still in Swedish, wriggling as she attempted to break free. "Let me go, let me go! I have to get it, it was mama's! It was mama's favorite scarf, I have to get it back, let me go!"
"No little one, I'm sorry but I cannot let you near the water. You'll freeze, so please don't struggle so." The boy responded gently in French. "Do not fret pretty girl, it will be alright. Bernard," he said, addressing the older man who was accompanying him, "return to the house please, and fetch something suitably warm for the mademoiselle to wear."
"With all due respect sir, I was given instructions by Lord Philippe to escort you along your walk."
"I am sure that my brother would agree with me that it is not proper for a gentleman to leave a child out in the cold, especially one so delicate as this. I am quite capable of attending to myself for a few minutes- the house is not so very far."
The man gave a stiff bow, his disapproval of the disheveled waif evident in his eyes. "Of course, young master." He replied, retreating back the way they had come.
Christine watched the scarf as it bobbed in the waves, seemingly farther from her every second. Tears filled her eyes again as she gazed at it. "But...it was mother's." she said in her halting French. She felt the boy stiffen briefly, and then he was stroking her hair and whispering to her kind words, holding her simply. She turned around and cried into his chest, letting him do what he could to comfort her. When her sobs had subsided somewhat, he pulled away from her and shrugged off his warm coat, draping it around her tiny shoulders. She looked up at him quizzically, and he smiled at her, wiping away a tear with his thumb.
"You are too pretty to cry so, little one. Wait for me here, I won't be long. Be a good girl and keep that coat dry for me, won't you? I'm going to need it soon." So saying, he kicked off his shoes, and Christine watched in astonishment as he waded waist deep into the frigid water, before diving in head first and swimming with powerful strokes towards her scarf, hardly even visible now after all this time.
"Be careful! Oh please be careful!" she called after him, first in Swedish until she remembered that he couldn't understand her. With mingled emotions of hope and fear over his safety, Christine continued to shout as many encouraging things as she could in her new language, literally clapping with joy when she saw that he had reached her scarf, and was now turning back with the cloth in tow.
While it was apparent that he was a strong lad, it was just as obvious that the long swim was wearing him out, and when he finally reached shore several minutes later, the boy collapsed on the sand, coughing and shivering violently. Immediately Christine threw his coat over him, and covered his face with a child's kisses of gratitude and happiness, as he grinned up at her.
"Here you are, my little water sprite. Your precious scarf, and may your mother bless it. Take good care of it, and don't lose it again! It might not be so easy to get back next time."
She took it from him and hugged him, promising him that she would never lose it again, and thanking him over and over for being so kind and so brave for her.
"Raoul de Chagny! Are you mad?! Throwing yourself into the waves like that- what would your father say if you had turned up drowned? This is exactly why your brother asked me to escort you, always pulling foolish stunts! You'll pay for your over-eagerness one day, I assure you."
The boy sat up somewhat shakily, still coughing up sea water. "And that sort of attitude, Bernard, is exactly why I needed to send you away for awhile...otherwise this lovely creature might still be crying. Now don't be a complete miser, hand her the shawl."
With utter contempt, Bernard held out the covering towards Christine and let her take it before helping his young master to stand. Raoul's lips were turning blue and he sneezed several times, which somehow earned Christine a reproachful glare from his manservant. "I'm sorry." she said carefully, paying special attention to her pronunciation and form, so that she could be understood. "I'm so sorry...I've made you sick now. Please don't be sick, please get better now."
Raoul kneeled down by her and smiled, taking the shawl which she had clutched in her fists and covering her with it. "Don't be worried about me, I never stay ill long. Now, you should go back to your home and rinse the saltwater out of that scarf, it can't be good for it. No tears now, alright? Will you smile for me? That's my girl." He kissed her on the forehead and stood, coughing violently for a few moments as Bernard led him away. Christine watched them go, holding on tightly to the soaking scarf and smiling as much as she could manage, all the while praying that the boy would be alright. She wouldn't be able to forgive herself if something terrible happened to him because of his kindness.
He turned around once and waved at her, and she waved back, jumping up and down as she did so, hoping that he could see. Once they had moved out of sight away from the beach, she ran back the whole way towards home, taking especial care to not let the scarf, or the borrowed shawl, be stolen by the wind. Pulling open the cottage door after beating the sand off of her shoes, Christine went inside, to find her father sitting in a chair by the fire, reading. He looked up as she came in, and though his face was tired and grey, his brown eyes were dancing.
"There you are my darling, I was so worried about you! It is not so cold here as it is up north, to be sure, but the weather is still not so good for one so young. If you want to go out, please let me know, and we shall find someone to go with you. Ah, but you are free spirited like your mother, so perhaps it cannot be helped. Did you enjoy your time out of the cottage?" His brows furrowed in confusion as he noticed the shawl draped around his daughter's shoulders. "Christine, what is that you've brought home? It can't be one of ours."
For the first time, Christine took it off and looked at it. While the Daae family was by no means poor, the finely woven wool of blue with its embroidered pattern of violet roses, occasionally set by crystal beads, was far more fine a thing than they would have purchased, not being at all practical for a widower and a young girl. Smiling happily, she responded with a child's innocence;
"My new friend gave it to me."
A/N: If anyone is wondering about the hair colour, it took me awhile to decide that one. In the book, she's blond; in the play, burnette. So I used personal experience in this case- I was born a blond, and the older I get the darker my hair turns. I think that's fairly common. So it's going to happen to Christine too. Still not sure what to do about the brown/blue eyes though. Any suggestions? On that note, any critiques? Comments? Bad jokes? Review and I'll be a happy little thing!