Hi!

Alright, well I know the idea for this story is kind of vaguely (actually very) clichéd, but oh well - go clichés!

Firstly, this story (the beginning, anyway) is set in 2019. There is a war going on between the Asian and Western countries. However, a few countries are rather reluctant to do anything - like Great Britain, where this is set. Because I've never BEEN to England/know much about its geography, you'll have to excuse my vagueness of location.

Christine in this story is very level-headed and calm. She is also French. Which has nothing to do with her character...but ANYWAY. The only person she really relaxes with is Meg - even with Raoul, she's always slightly guarded. There is NO Raoul hating in this, for the very simple, obvious reason that I DON'T HATE RAOUL.

Except for in the 2004 movie, where he needs a hair cut. But screw that. Oh, and Erik is French as well.

Anyway, j'espere tu aime ma récit (I hope you like my story.)

Please review, I embrace any advice - but please, no flaming, its not very nice. Enjoy!

Chapter 1: An Ardent Admirer

"Christine? You can go home now – work's over. Christine? Christine!"

I was so absorbed in my work; I didn't even hear my best friend's voice until she grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me. My concentration broken, I swivelled in my chair to glare upwards.

"What the hell was that for?!"

Meg Giry laughed merrily, completely ignoring the evident annoyance in my tone. She did that a lot, I had noticed over the years.

"You wouldn't answer me! What's so interesting, anyway?" Meg bent over to look at my laptop, pretending to read it. I rolled her eyes. I knew Meg probably wouldn't even be able to understand half of what was there – though she worked in the same company as me, her work was completely different to mine.

"Come on, let's go!" I said impatiently. Meg had already broken my concentration; I knew I wouldn't be able to get anymore work done. I snapped her laptop shut, barely missing Meg's fingers. Damn, I thought.

"Wow! Temper, temper, Christine!" chided Meg. Ignoring her, I grabbed my bag and strode out of the room, my head held high. Down the corridor, through the door, and straight into the person waiting outside. Oops.

"Raoul!" Blushing, I hurriedly disentangled my limbs from his and stood quickly. Raoul, my boyfriend (I was still getting my head around that) of six months, looked up at me from the ground, laughing.

"Really, Christine, I didn't know you missed me so much!" he teased. My blush intensified. Unable to restrain myself, I (rather childishly, I must admit) stuck out my tongue at him. I heard the door behind me close, and Meg's giggle. I glared over my shoulder at her, and she winked at me. She's going to give me hell for that later, I thought ruefully. I hoped sincerely that she hadn't seen the collision.

"So," Raoul continued, as he stood up and straightened his clothing, and I turned back to him, "when do you want me to pick you up from your apartment?" Huh? I looked at him in slight confusion.

"What do you mean…?"

"Dinner!" he said, slightly impatiently. "You promised that you would come with me today – you've already cancelled three times already!" I winced. I had, hadn't I? But I was just too busy…

"Raoul, I'm really very sorry, but I'm just too bu-"

"Busy?" he finished, bitterness beginning to creep into his tone. "Yes, you always are, aren't you?" The last few words had the ring of an accusation. It infuriated me, but I swallowed my anger. He was right. But I hadn't liked the way he had said it; I opened my mouth to retort.

"Christine," Meg said, and I turned in slight surprise (I had almost forgotten she was there).

"You have no life."

I blinked. That was random. Even for Meg.

"Pardon?"

She grinned suddenly at me. "Go have some fun! Just for one night, why don't you pretend that you have something remotely resembling a social life, Christine?"

Too surprised to argue, I nodded obediently. She laughed happily.

"Be at her house by 7, no later, and definitely no earlier," she ordered Raoul, who looked almost as confused as me. It was probably the first time that Meg had ever interfered in one of our arguments – and it wasn't like she hadn't seen many of those...

"See you at 7 then, Christine," Raoul farewelled me as he got into his car.

"Let's go, its getting late!" Meg said cheerfully. We started walking back to the apartment we shared, Meg chattering about work. I didn't really concentrate; if I wasn't able to work tonight, then I was going to have to do extra tomorrow...thankfully it would be a weekend...

"So what're you going to wear tonight, Christine?" I half-heard the question, my mind occupied, and answered vaguely.

"Clothes? I don't know..."

Oops.

Meg would definitely not let that one go. Not unless she was sick or something. And sure enough...

"Clothes."

I knew it.

"Don't say anything."

"I'm not saying any-"

"Don't say anything!"

I narrowed my eyes at her.

"Good."

I reached into my bag for the keys as we neared our apartment block.

"Clo-"

I whirled, pointing my keys at her like a sword.

"Silence!"

Grinning at me, she pretended to zip her lips shut and throw away the key.

"Eurgh!" Turning in exasperation, I bounded up the stairs and thrust the key into the lock. Luckily, I didn't miss – that would have made Meg's day. Not that I hadn't already, of course.

"So what are you going to be wearing?" Meg asked as she followed me into our home. I shrugged – I'd never paid much attention to clothes; the few times I went out anywhere, I would just take out anything from that part of my wardrobe; I had a section of my wardrobe for my work-clothes, another for casual clothing. The area where my going-out clothes went was pitifully small, though I had noticed that it had been increasing lately. I hadn't thought much of it though; Meg loved to cast scorn on my fashion sense.

"I don't know...I'll probably just do what I normally do."

Meg shuddered, a look of mock horror crossing her face.

"You try, you die, little Miss No-Fashion-Sense! I was unfortunate to be with you last time!" I frowned, feeling slightly offended. It hadn't been that bad.

Alright, maybe it had. But I would die before admitting it.

"Here!" Meg said, running into my room. "Come on!" she called over her shoulder. I followed her warily; she might have good fashion sense, but when it came to keeping things neat…

She rummaged through the clothes, as if she knew exactly what she was looking for (which she probably did.)

"So, why were you thinking about it?" She didn't look at me as she spoke.

"Huh?" But I already knew what she was talking about.

"Your brilliant statement as to your outfit for this evening. You only ever slip up like that when you're thinking about them."

I felt my face twist in pain, and then settle back into the cool, calm mask that had become second nature for me.

"Your point?"

My voice had changed too, I noticed. Politely disinterested, not a hint of emotion.

Meg sighed, and shook her head slightly.

"No point. Anyway, so here's what you're going to wear – now hurry up and change!"

I was really having trouble keeping up with Meg today. Maybe I was sick or something. I looked down at what she had thrust into my hands, and gasped.

It was a dress. Deep blue that I knew straight away would match my eyes exactly, with beautiful, intricate gold-embroidered patterns that were both bizarre and wondrous, dancing across and down the whole floor-reaching length of the silky material.

And I had never seen it in my life before.

So what was it doing in my wardrobe?

"Didn't you buy it?" Meg's confused question made me realise that I had said my final thoughts aloud. I shook my head.

"Do you think…Raoul did?"

As soon as I said it, I knew that it wouldn't have been him. I examined the dress again, the expensive silk, the gold thread which I had a feeling was real gold. He wouldn't spend that much on me, I knew. I didn't think that even he had enough money for that.

"Wait," I said, as a sudden thought struck me, "How did you know it was there? In my wardrobe? Did you find it there?"

Meg shook her head.

"Remember how a couple of weeks ago, I left work early? The day after that huge formal dinner thing?" I nodded.

"Well, I got home, and there was a package sitting on the table." I gasped.

"Inside the house!?" Someone had broken in and she hadn't told me about it?!

Meg made an impatient noise.

"They left a note; apparently we'd forgotten to lock the door."

A note?

"Do you," I started, but was interrupted by Meg, who ran out of the bedroom. I rolled my eyes – I would never be able to figure out how that girl's mind worked – and followed her again.

She grabbed her handbag, and stuck her hand into it, searching for something. The hand came out, a crumpled piece of paper in it. She handed it to me, and I smoothed it out carefully. Turning the lights on, I read it:

Miss Christine Daaé

I must apologise for not being able to identify myself to you, but you may think of me as merely an ardent admirer. I have noticed that you seem to be lacking rather deplorably in clothes that accentuate your unique beauty, and so have taken the liberty of purchasing you this small gift. I hope that we may meet soon.

Forever yours

P.S
You really
should lock your door, Miss Daaé - I rather doubt that you wish for your belongings to be stolen. Don't worry about me - I'll be able to get in if I find the need.

I put down the paper, my hands barely trembling. I went to my room without a word and tugged on the dress.

It fit perfectly.