Desolation Dreamed Of

Of Conclusions and Cambiare

"Come in." The voice was that of Madame Giry who was sitting quietly in her office, sorting through paperwork. It was the morning after the Don Juan incident, as Paris was beginning to call it, and there was no end to who she expected at the door, for everyone seemed to have questions for her now.

When the door opened, though, it was Monsieur Firmin who shuffled in, closing this door behind him softly.

"Bonjour, monsieur de propriétaire," she greeted, setting the papers in her hands down, but not moving from her desk.

"Hello, Madame Giry," he said nervously, making his way to the chair across from her desk and sitting down hesitantly. She folded her hands and let her lips curl into a grim smile, knowing better than to try to spark conversation.

"Last night was an unexpected success," he finally said with an uncomfortable chuckle, his hands clenching the arm rests in uncertainty.

"It certainly was," she agreed automatically, cocking her head to the side marginally as she observed him.

"I don't think anyone expected such a positive reaction, what with that music and the less than wholesome storyline."

"But when have Parisians ever been wholesome, Monsieur Firmin?" Giry joked lightly, eyeing him as he forced a laugh out of his mouth. When he didn't respond for several moments, she placed her hands in her lap, leaning back in her chair. "Did you come to discuss something?" she pressed.

He seemed reluctant, but he finally pried the words of his mouth. "Our Prima Donna… I don't believe I've seen her today. Is she well?" It was so very sad to hear him speak, for he knew the answer to that question. He knew that she could not be found even if all of France were to search.

"She is no longer here," she said simply, her tone guarded.

"And where is she? We still have the run of the opera ahead of us," he reminded her, inching forward minutely.

"Unfortunately, we will no longer be able to perform Don Juan Triumphant. Unless you find a new Prima Donna, that is," Madame Giry shrugged.

"If she's gone off with Raoul, we can simply contact his brother and—" Firmin began, but Madame shook her head slowly, holding up a hand.

"She is not with Raoul," she replied, lowering her hand to her lap.

"Then who could she—…" he began, but realization sprung upon his face. "Le fantôme! Surely she hasn't been kidnapped? The poor girl has been through so much!" he exclaimed, a hand flying to his chest in shock.

"Oh no, Monsieur. She has gone quite willingly, I'm sure. He would never force her to do such a thing." She felt a ghost of a smile play on her lips as she thought of her old friend—her old friend whom she had betrayed, and who never indicted her for it.

"You say that as if you are companions," he replied with the barest hint of malice.

"One could say that," she murmured, her eyes drifting down to her desk. "Incidentally, he left a note for you and Monsieur Moncharmin," she said almost slyly, sifting through a few papers and producing a small, unmarked envelope.

She watched him reach out with a shaky hand and take the envelope, all but ripping it open before her eyes. "Plaudite, amici, commedia finita est," he fumbled, his eyes narrowing on the words in confusion.

Madame Giry's smile widened as she let out a slow breath. "Friends, applaud, the Comedy is over," she repeated as she quelled the tears that pricked her eyes.

Anxiety plagued Christine for several weeks after Don Juan Triumphant. Even as they travelled away to Switzerland, she feared that someone would recognize them, or that there would be questions of why they were travelling together. And most of all, she worried about Raoul.

That was, until she heard news of the aftermath of the opera. While Raoul scrambled endlessly to recover, or even find, Christine, his power was quickly waning. After the opening of Erik's opera, the managers were inundated with earls, counts, margraves, and infanta alike who were itching to become a part of the Opera Garnier. The lowly viscount and his brother, who couldn't care less about the politics of the opera, were pushed out of the position as patrons before they knew what had occurred. For as the management insisted, they were obliged to tend to those of higher rank before a mere viscount.

And so, as Raoul's leverage in Paris dwindled, so did his search. It seemed that Paris had forgotten about him and his fiancée all too quickly, and had moved on to more vicious gossip.

Her life with Erik was all too easy to become accustomed to. She worried that it would be difficult to find a home, particularly since she brought no money of her own. That fear was alleviated quickly, though, for it seemed that Erik's wealth and power reached much farther than she had ever anticipated.

Their days were spent simply enough. They would dine together and he would continue to teach her the music she so longed to learn. He would play a different instrument for her every day, and teach her small exercises on the piano and violin.

And then one day, several weeks after the night of the opera, Erik raised a subject she thought he would never broach. It was the surgery that he had so deftly skirted around when they lived in Paris.

He had searched for doctors and researched the procedure. He had learned of the general anesthesia recently introduced to the surgery, though he reminded her that pain would not be eliminated completely, for there was still the recovery to consider. He described the procedure in detail, and pointed out where every hazard existed. It was decided that day that she would receive the surgery, though, despite any risks that were before her.

It all passed so quickly that it was difficult for Christine to recall much of anything that happened the day of the surgery. In fact, when the anesthesia had been administered and her nerves dulled, she found it difficult to discern between the waking and sleeping world, and was caught in a hazy limbo for some time.

"Christine?" The voice was foggy, but her senses sharpened as she listened for him. She felt a familiar blanket beneath her, and she knew she had been taken back to her home; perhaps she had fallen asleep after all. Or had the surgery even occurred? "Christine, you can open your eyes."

Her breath shook and she swallowed hard as she let her eyelids slowly rise.

Before her, as if it had always been there, she saw light.

Voila mes amis! That is the true ending of this piece. Thank you again for all the support, and I hope the ending was satisfactory! Just a quick note— those words in the letter are cited as Beethoven's last words. Thank you again, and for those who were wondering whether I was writing another Phantom story, good news! I was recently sparked with inspiration, but I'm going to have to do some serious planning before I begin, so don't worry if it's not up for a while. Cheers!