Author's Note: What would happen if the Opera Ghost and the Opera Star were reversed? My biggest fanfiction challenge yet, I swapped the places of Christine and Erik (and Raoul is now a woman character named Regine, which translates to "queen" ). Please try not to flame me if you don't care for the story; it's only a challenge to myself to see if I can pull this off. The settings are from the 2004 movie. Please Review!!
The carriage seemed as though it were never going to stop. The horses plodded along tiredly as they had been doing for a very long time. The driver slumped in his seat and took a long draw from the silver whiskey bottle he held nest to him. The morning was dark, cold, and damp. The low gray-blue clouds were icy-looking and promised snow for sure.
Inside the carriage was a young boy. He lay stretched across the cushioned seat, not heeding the change of scenery in the slightest. Beside him was a small black suitcase that contained his few worldly possessions. His face was pale, no longer ruddy from his constant crying, but his hair was mussed, there were still tear tracks on his cheeks, and his nose needed a handkerchief. At one point, he'd been sitting stick-straight, knowing that he would be scolded by someone if his nice clothes got rumpled, but he was tired and the journey was long and tedious.
The carriage driver slowed his horses as they approached the formidable Paris Opera House. The driver slid off of his perch, staggering slightly from the liquor that coursed through his veins and went to wake the boy.
"Erik, boy, wake up! You're here!"
Erik sat up and rubbed his eyes. They felt painful and scratchy from all the crying he'd done. He really missed his father; he'd never known his mother. She'd died in childbirth, so his father, the best violinist in Sweden, had given up everything to raise him. The two of them had been inseparable and Erik's father had taught him everything he knew about music. Now, he felt so alone in the world that it hurt.
Staggering behind the driver, who grudgingly carried his suitcase inside, Erik blinked the sleep out of his eyes and tried to get a look around. His soft golden eyes were still bloodshot from the crying and the weather did nothing for his mood. He sighed, trying to brush his dark hair out of his pale face. Then, he finally began to examine his surroundings and his mouth dropped open in shock. Velvet draperies flowed like rich rivers around the large windows in the giant lobby. Luxurious-looking couches and chairs soft enough for a rich man's bed stood over the tiled floor. Statues of golden women with cloth draped over them stood everywhere and candelabras flickered all over the place. The whole place had an air of mystery to it.
A serious-looking woman with a cane and a somber black dress descended the stairs. Behind her, a golden-haired girl with dark eyes followed. She was wearing a ballet costume.
"Madame Giry, I presume," the driver said, hiccupping slightly, "I've delivered the boy, Madame, and my obligations are complete."
She looked at him disapprovingly before stuffing a few francs into his hand. He wobbled away, counting the bills greedily.
"Hello, Erik. I am Madame Antoinette Giry, a dear friend of your father's. This is my daughter, Marguerite, but she also goes by Meg for short."
Meg curtsied as much as a ballet costume would allow. Erik tipped his head in a bow, but he didn't feel like doing any more than that.
"Do you know why you are here?" Madame Giry asked, picking up Erik's suitcase where the driver had discarded it on the floor.
Erik's father had once told him that he would be sent to Paris when he was old enough. There, he would study music at the finest Opera House that Paris had to offer. Erik had been overjoyed to find that out, ignoring the other boys who had said he was a sissy for loving music. One thing in particular had stuck out to him, however.
"Erik, come in here," his father's voice had choked out between the vicious-sounding coughs, "I need to tell you something."
Erik obeyed, clutching at his teddy bear very nervously.
"You can't go through life not knowing the truth. As much as it pains me, I know that I'm not going to last much longer."
Erik's eyes widened as his father started into another coughing fit. This time, blood came up, staining his once nimble fingers. Not wanting to frighten the boy, he wiped them clean as fast as he could.
"I want you to know that you'll still be sent to Paris no matter what happens to me. I want you to have a future doing what you're good at. And when I am in Heaven, I will send an angel to watch over you; an angel of music."
Erik sighed. He wondered when that angel was supposed to come. Where had the angel been when he'd been crying over his father's battered and broken body? Where had the angel been when his good-for-nothing uncle had come to escort him to Paris and had drank every step of the way there? Where had the angel been when he'd rode all those lonely hours in the carriage?
Madame Giry had led him up the stairs.
"You may stay in here," she said, "and you can go anywhere in the Opera House you want as long as you stay out of everyone's way. Don't do anything you know is dangerous and don't go down below the first cellar. There are rats and traps and other terrible things down there that could harm a boy. We will start your training tomorrow."
Erik nodded slowly.
"Don't be sad, Erik!" Meg piped up as soon as her mother had gone. She got on Erik's new bed and bounced around.
"It's going to be fun! You and me are going to be best friends!"
Despite Erik's grief and current belief that girls weren't any fun to play with, he couldn't help but smile.
After dinner and a bath (which he hadn't been crazy about), Erik was laying wide awake in his bed. He couldn't sleep. He knew that when he closed his eyes, dreams of his father would haunt him. He sighed and slipped from beneath the covers. It was freezing out here, but he ignored the cold as much as an eight-year-old boy could and ventured out of his room. The Opera House was big, but it seemed even bigger in the dark.
Erik happened to pass a room where the candles were still lit. Maybe there was someone still awake that he could talk to. Cautiously, he entered the room.
To his dismay, there was no one there. He saw a candle holder with a few candles flickering in it. Behind them, there was a picture of an angel.
Erik stared hard at the angel for a moment. His father once told him that praying was like talking to God and sometimes God talked back. Erik wondered if he was wrong to be mad at God for letting his father die.
"I wish my father would come back," Erik finally said, "I miss him. Why didn't you let him live? Why didn't you send me an angel? Father said you were there for everybody, but I have yet to see you. Father said you loved me, but I don't think you do sometimes. Where's my angel?"
Suddenly, a draft of wind blew out the candles.
"Who- who's there?" Erik asked timidly.
Only silence answered. He suddenly felt very frightened and willed himself not to cry again even though the tears were threatening to well up. A strange sound filled the air, seeming to echo. At first, Erik was scared to death, his lungs tightening in his chest. His legs turned to water and he wanted to run, but he couldn't get the thought to reach his legs.
"Hello, Erik," a voice whispered.
Erik frowned. The voice sounded...female.
"Are you a ghost?" Erik asked, looking around. He could see no one.
"I am not a ghost," the voice answered, a hint of amusement in it, "but I am not truly living, either."
Erik could only come to one conclusion.
"Are you the angel my father talked about?"
There was a moment's hesitation.
"I suppose you could call me that," the voice said.
Erik sighed a little. Whoever, or whatever she was, she didn't sound like she would hurt him.
"Are you the angel of music, then?" he asked, his expression brightening a little bit.
"I am the Angel of Music," the voice answered, "and I have come to watch over you. Bu you must do everything I say without question, are we clear?"
"Good. Come here each morning before dawn. And you will speak of this to no one, understood?"
He nodded again.
"Good. Now, go back to your bed and go to sleep. If you catch cold, your voice will suffer."
Erik turned and ran out of the room. At first, it was hard to sleep because he was shivering so much, whether from excitement or cold, he didn't know. Eventually, he fell into an untroubled sleep. His angel was here now and that's all that mattered.
Chapter 1...20 years later
Christine stretched out luxuriously in her large sleigh-style bed. Her black and red Gothic style dress fanned out around her and she closed her eyes. A white half-mask covered the right side of her face. She ran her fingers through her chocolate-colored curls and sighed. She wasn't old, not in the conventional sense, but she wasn't getting any younger and she knew it. Her childbearing years would soon be at an end, yet she was afraid that she would end up alone.
And now, she was frustrated because something very ominous and dangerous was in the air. She wondered why; things were going very well right now. The next opera rehearsals were near flawless and she'd cut a backdrop loose to fall on Madame Carlotta. Carlotta had stormed off of the stage in a huff, furious about it. There were new managers, Andre and Firmin, and they needed to know who they were dealing with. After frightening Carlotta, she'd tossed a note down for Madame Giry to read. The note was only what she expected them to do: leave Box 5 open and pay her 20,000 franc salary. It was so simple that even these two buffoons couldn't mess it up!
Then, as she'd crouched in the rafters, reveling in the fear she'd instilled in her staff, she'd noticed something that she was surprised she'd never noticed before.
Erik, who'd been at the edge of the ensemble in the back, was urged forward by Madame Giry's daughter. Madame Giry had noticed that just as the managers were bemoaning the loss of their "star". Christine merely rolled her eyes; she wondered why she hadn't tried to sack Carlotta altogether.
"Erik Destler could sing it, sir," Madame suggested, "he has been taking lessons from a wonderful tutor."
"Who from?" the reply shot back. Yes, these two fools would be tough to get around. Christine gritted her teeth, frowning at them even though they couldn't see her in the rafters.
"I do not know his name, sir," Erik said. He knew full well by her voice that his teacher was female, but if he gave that away, he would be laughed right off this stage.
"Ah, very well. Let's see what you can do with the aria in the third act."
The pianist began to play and Erik began to sing softly. His rich tenor rang out through the room and captivated all who heard him. Christine grinned from the rafters.
He had the voice of an angel. And now that he had her full attention in the daylight, she studied him more closely. He was lean, but muscular with an athletic build. She supposed it was from the dancing. His features had gotten inherently more masculine every day and now, he had a strong jaw. sweet full lips, a perfect nose, and lovely eyes. Those eyes held a determination and intensity that were simply captivating; yet they also held innocence. She'd gazed directly into his golden eyes many time without him knowing.
His eyes match the color of his soul, she'd thought breathlessly, that's so beautiful. He's beautiful.
Christine's heart began to pound as she watched him. Yes, Erik would be destined for some very big things. With her help, there was no telling how far he'd progress. He was far above this ragtag crowd in both talent and spirit. She felt a swell of pride when she remembered that his voice belonged to her.
The crowd was standing speechless. There was no question that he now had the part. After all, this particular aria wasn't gender-specific and they could simply adjust the key.
Satisfied with that, she'd come down here to get some rest. Tomorrow would be Erik's big day. It would also be hers in some strange sense.
But Christine could not sleep. Maybe a cup of hot tea would soothe her frazzled nerves. She got up to get some chamomile and paused by the mirror. Touching the white mask that covered the right side of her face, she sighed. She couldn't stand seeing the mask, but she hated what was beneath it even more. It was what had prevented her from showing herself to Erik during the last ten years. How could someone as talented and handsome as he ever love a monster like her? She sighed again and went to get her tea. As soon as she'd drank it, she stretched out and got into bed.
Erik was a little nervous on opening night. He paced the floor.
"Don't worry, Erik, you'll do just fine," Meg told him, placing her hand on his shoulder, "I'm sure the Opera Ghost will be very pleased."
It was precisely the Opera Ghost that Erik was a little concerned about. He didn't want to get on its bad side due to all of the pranks that had been pulled on Carlotta, Piangi, and anyone else that didn't meet its expectations. Rumor had it that Piangi was going to be replaced very soon as well.
Suddenly, he was being shoved onto stage. Erik's musings ceased abruptly while the introduction to his song played. As his strong, clear baritone caressed the crowd, he thought he saw a flash of white in Box 5, but he wasn't sure.
Then, he saw something else that got his attention. A blonde-haired woman in Box 7 was smiling excitedly. He recognized her instantly...
The Vicomtess de Chagny! Erik's heart fluttered like a startled bird, but his voice didn't give away the tremors he felt. They had met as children when he'd rescued her scarf from the ocean. They'd once been best friends before Erik and his father had moved to France. He wondered if she even knew and remembered who he was.
The final notes were coming up and this would make or break him. They weren't terribly high, just in quick succession and difficult to nail sometimes. Erik even surprised himself when he got every note correct. The crowd burst into applause and people were even standing up for him. He bowed and left the stage. He smiled, knowing that his Angel would surely be pleased with him.