Disclaimer: I do not own the Phantom of the Opera, nor any of the poems/quotations that appear at the begginning of each chapter.

AN: This story is set two years after Christine left Erik. I'm using the Kay timeline, but this is mostly based on the ALW musical (or movie) But there will also be some references to Leroux and Kay.

Summary: Time heals, but it does not forget. A bond forged in shadow strives for life in the light.

If I Could Fly

Don't try to fly before you have wings

- French Proverb


To Banish the Ghosts of Yesterday


India, 1883.

A young girl made her way down the darkened corridor, her feet light and hurried, whispering softly against the cold marble. Hazy lanterns lined the wall, making her shadow shake against soft textures of white and blue. Her skirts slithered across the shiny surface, as she tiptoed to the door. The door many girls had been sent to in these recent dark, relenting days. None could ever speak of what had awaited them on the other side, or what ordeals they had been reduced to. Some did not return at all. The ones that did were never the same again. All confined to a dreamless state, screaming out in the dark, terror sheathed into their minds. She was the last resort, the most beautiful woman in the harem. If she couldn't break him, nobody could.

She lifted her small fist and banged against the large door. Three even thuds.

There was no answer; just as she had been told there would not be. The door creaked and cried as she opened it slowly.

The room was shrouded in a musky glow of candlelight. The air was almost suffocating; it veiled her senses in a layer of intoxication. Her eyelids wanted to close, but also to drink in the sensuality around her. Unconsciousness tugged at her soul, and held out a tempting hand, daring her to give in and succumb to slumber. It was never daylight in this room; nor was it night. It was in an eternal conflict, stuck between the realms of light and dark; passion and despair…

She saw him then. Sat at a piano with his back turned to her; his build was slim and his hair dark. He wore a black Persian robe. He did not look like the barbaric warrior other people had rumoured him to be. In fact, he looked like the most normal thing in this dark hallucination, a normal man, enjoying his music. He had yet to acknowledge her presence. And she continued to stare, striving to remain conscious…

"What do you want?" he asked suddenly. She was completely awestruck by the sensuality in his voice.

"M-my name is Miraza, my lord…I am a gift from the master, a gift of pleasure …" she said with a shake to her pretty voice.

There was a grim silence.

He turned his head slightly, and she was afforded the first glimpse of his white mask.

"I do not require your service; as I told the others. So, you may take your gift elsewhere." He turned back to his piano.

"But sir, the master insists…he was most adamant that I reward you for your loyalty."

"You may remind your master, that I have no loyalties. I'm sure you have a lover somewhere who would appreciate your services; I have no need for you. Now leave me." She had never heard such commanded rage in her life. His voice was abusive, and she felt fear and enthrallment in one sensuous harmony. Part of her wanted to run from this awful room, and this mysterious man. But the other half of her was becoming addicted to the unearthly magnetism of his voice.

"Please - sir…"

"Do not test my patience child…" he snapped "leave now. That is not a request."

When she still did not leave, he stood. His chair fell to the floor. Miraza felt her breath catch deeply within her lungs. To see him at his full height was something else. He was taller than most of the men she knew, and most of the men she had seen. He must have been at the peak of manhood. She felt as though her heart would shoot from her chest. He turned around, slowly, glaring at her with eyes that looked amber, or were they golden? She could not tell, in this light everything seemed from another world. She could not pull her eyes away. She was sucked into the glowing orbs, alight with hot warning.

Then she remembered the rules given to her before she came here this evening.

Always knock, even though you will never get a response. Be confident, and do not show any fear. He will try to turn you away, stand your ground. But the one to remember above all else: do not stare at his mask.

"…it is very rude to stare, mademoiselle." He hissed. His eyes had narrowed dangerously. Aside from his mouth, they were all she could see. The rest of his face was covered by the haunting mask.

"F-forgive me…please, my lord, do not deny me – nor yourself…let me stay with you tonight, and you shall receive the sweetest pleasure known to a man!"

He began to laugh. It was a shrill and menacing sound that echoed around the room; making her shudder, she wanted to move her hands over her ears. It made her forget that laughter was usually a pleasurable sound, associated with merriment and happiness. This was a cruel and callous noise, like some form of bizarre torture.

"Do not speak to me of denial, nor of pleasure…" he growled as he took a few measured steps towards her, "…and do not assume that you would be enough for me, mademoiselle, you know nothing of the desire I crave – nor of the pleasure I have felt. There are NONE who can live up to it…" she could feel a scolding lump tingle in her throat. His eyes looked like fire; the laughter was gone.

"NOW…LEAVE ME!" He roared. Miraza found her legs at last and sprinted from the room. The door slammed behind her.

Erik sank to the floor; he ran his long fingers through his hair. This was becoming a limbo of torture. Almost nightly these deluded girls would be sent to him. But he would always turn them away. For they reminded him of the one thing he wanted, the one thing he craved.

Two years had done nothing to quench that thirst.

There was only one person able to fill this consuming void, the one heart and soul he still yearned to be with…

…the one name he had banished from his tongue.