Title: Finale
Author: Candyland
Fandom: The Phantom of the Opera: A deformed, tormented genius falls in love with a singing prodigy, who believes he's her father and meanwhile has fallen in love with someone else. This is set in accordance with the 2004 movie, with a couple of throwbacks to the book. Someday I will be able to see it on stage. I also do not own it!
Wordcount: 984
Taunt: My hand-om's at the level of my eyes. BAD PUNS FOR THE WIN.

She has owned the stage of the Opera Populaire for years—seven seasons, to be precise. The opera house is her palace, and the stage is the throne from which she rules them all. Her admirers flock to see her, and sing her praises to the very heavens themselves.

She hears their words, and accepts them as truth.

There are also words from the other side of the stage, though. These are softer, not intended specifically for her ears, but she suspects that no one would bat an eye if the words reached her ears. But she keeps her head held high and walks on—they are beneath her, and they know nothing of her.

They do not know how far she had come to claim her place here. The years of lessons in Madrid, the harsh instruction of teachers to develop her talent, the struggle to find her place in Paris…these are merely a few of the chapters that make up her story. But she keeps all of them close to her heart and shares them with precious few.

She has earned this place, her stage.

And she will hold to it until it is pried from her fingers.

To the public, she is the star. By day, she greets them in fine clothes and furs as they approach her on the street, in the shops, in the fine cafes and restaurants that treat the toast of society. By night, she sees them through a haze of smoke and the din of the orchestra. They know her by the characters she plays. And they worship her for it.

And each time she accepts their praise, the whispers backstage grow louder.

She finds solace in the sound of her voice filling the hall, and in the company of Piangi, her fellow star. He is the only one she regularly consents to share the stage with. He is her equal, her most stalwart supporter, and she loves him for it.

For a time, she reigns. Her every demand is met, and in return she looses her siren's song, first bringing the crowds to the hall, then bringing them to their feet in acclaim. All is as it should be. She is pleased, happy, and secure.

And then in a moment, in the time it takes for her to announce her departure from the rehearsal, she is dethroned. The diva is toppled as her pedestal is whisked from beneath her very feet.

She had thrown fits like this before. They needed her; she knew it, and they knew it, and the words she loved to hear—pleas and praises and promises—would soon come to appease her and coerce her to perform. But this time, it was different. Never before had she received word that another would sing her role. A mere chorus girl, no less. And soon she had a name for the girl.

Christine Daae.

She strikes back as quickly as possible, with all the speed and venom of a cobra, but there seems to be an almost supernatural cloak of luck hanging about the girl. Still, she cannot let it lie. She has worked too hard for this, and she will not have her place here simply taken away by some girl who had taken a few singing lessons.

It is her stage.

So she persists and makes her demands of the opera managers, and they cower before her. She takes the stage once again, returning to her throne and her public as the Comtesse in Il Muto.

It takes her a full week to recover physically from that ordeal.

But it is far longer before she is able to fully face the public, those who turned on her; as her siren's song turned to the horrendous croaking of a toad, so did their praises turn to jeers and the lauds to laughter. And she could not avoid hearing it all.

The whispers backstage have grown to shouting.

She keeps to the opera, trying not to be frightened by the tales of the Opera Ghost, who is allegedly Christine's protector. He wants her to star, the rumors said, and would remove any obstacles from her path if necessary. An outright attack on Christine or the ghost could be disastrous, but she cannot quite hold her tongue.

She accuses Christine of the sabotage before their managers, and keeps her superstitions quietly to herself. She has seen firsthand what the ghost can do, and does not wish such a fate on herself. Best to not push too hard, though she is livid.

When the plan to trap the ghost is brought to her attention, she agrees to be a part of it and sing this role in Don Juan Triumphant. If the ghost is taken, Christine Daae will no longer be afforded whatever protections he is giving her. And once again, the stage will be hers and hers alone.

The plan is put into motion…and then everything goes horribly wrong.

Christine unmasks the monstrous ghost—now known to be a mere man—and is taken by him.

The opera house ignites as the great chandelier is dropped, setting the stage ablaze.

And as everyone else runs about in a panic, she crosses the burning stage to the garroted body sprawled on the floor, the first cry of despair already crossing her lips. The infamous Punjab Lasso, she once heard Madame Giry call it. She drapes herself across Piangi's body, sobbing and calling desperately for her love.

Everything has flown away from her now. She has lost her love, her place in the opera, her public…and she feels something else sliding through her fingers, slipping from her life water through a sieve. There is nothing left.

This is my stage.

She stays there, clinging to Piangi as the flames draw closer, the finale of her final performance.

My stage.

Around the fallen queen, her palace burns.

PS. Before anyone pounces, YES, I am aware that in the stage production, the chandelier drops at the end of the first act, not at the end of the Don Juan Triumphant scene. I've read the script and libretto for the musical. I am not in a place where I can go see the show on stage, however, so I draw more from the movie because I have actually seen it.

I realize that Carlotta is an over-the-top brat, but at the end…I couldn't help but feel a bit sorry for her. Hence, I wrote her. I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading, all! Much love!