Author's Note: I know I haven't updated Lessons In Maturity in a while, or even Play on Words, but I have been busy, I swear. I moved from one state to another and had to get a new doctor, and the whole being pregnant thing puts a bit of a damper on my mood sometimes (Only a little less than 11 weeks to go! least until the due date). This idea had been in my head for a while now, and I think it will work. For those of you familiar with the novel, the musical, or one of the many movies inspired by Phantom of the Opera, please note this will be different. I'm not going to just take one of the scripts and replace names. Just because you know how one of those ends doesn't necessarily mean that's how this story will end. I'll update Lessons In Maturity when I'm in a funnier mood.

He wasn't born that way. His birth had been as joyous as his mother had expected – a beautiful, if somewhat pale, little boy. Dark black eyes, just like his father's. That had been her only wish, aside from him being healthy. Let him look like his father…

No one knew how it had happened. One day Kevin had left the house to go play with the neighboring children. He had come back literally transformed, one arm covered in fur. Mrs. Levin had told herself it would go away. There was nothing to worry about. But every day his son went out, and every night he returned with another body part transformed. He refused to tell her how it had happened, if, in fact, he even knew how it had happened.

It wasn't long before his face was changed.

That was what Mrs. Levin could not stand. The only reminder of what her husband had looked like – for she had no pictures, and the image had begun to fade from her mind before Kevin had been born – was gone. She turned from her child whenever he tried to talk to her, trying to blink back tears. She tried to tend to him as best she could, but she could not look him in that monstrous face.

Kevin was only eight. He could not understand why his mother turned from his affection, why she refused to look at him, her eyes downcast whenever she had to turn in his direction.

It would last only three more years. Three years lead Kevin away from trying to illicit any form of affection from his mother, instead choosing to act up. It was a mixture of loathing for how she treated him and cabin fever – he was no longer allowed outside, his mother too afraid of what neighbors might think. He smashed things until there was nothing left. Reflective surfaces especially were quickly done away with. Anything mirrored or clear enough glass that he could see his hideous form, he smashed. His mother was much more careful in her purchases now. There hadn't been anything reflective in the house for years, and the windows were boarded up from the inside as well as the out

There was nothing left to smash, after all, but he could hear the pealing of the bells from the church down the street.

A lone voice outside mixed with the bells, drunken, in high spirits, but somehow beautiful still. Kevin found himself trying to imitate it, frustrated when he could not seem to get the words out of his monstrous maw.

It was curiosity that finally brought him to smash the window open, forcing his entire body outside. The singer didn't seem to notice him. Instead, the elderly gentleman continued to sing, swaying about as he made his way out of the alley.

Kevin levitated for a moment, wondering if his wings would make too much noise to allow him to follow. But the man still did not turn around, and so, Kevin kept to a distance of several feet, but followed the man.

The man stopped finally at a building that was still under construction. Le'Opera Populaire, the sign proclaimed. Kevin had never taken any interest in opera. It sounded quite dull to him. But his mother had loved it, had even been a soprano in an opera once. Kevin frowned. She had not sung since his face had transformed.

The singer spoke quietly to a nearby worker, and Kevin seized his opportunity. He snuck across as quickly and quietly as he could, intent to explore the opera house.

He was going to go home after a while, he supposed. Let his mother worry first. He made his way down a flight of stairs, entranced. This level nothing was built on. Nothing would be. This was clearly meant to be a cellar, a simple storeroom. But Kevin found his mind racing. There were so many things he could do here. He tunneled down deeper, but felt himself falling. His wings reacted before his brain did. He hovered above a hidden cavern. There in the middle was a green lake. Kevin landed on the bank.

He smiled to himself. Perhaps….he would just allow his mother to be rid of him forever. Yes, that sounded good. He would merely stay here forever, listening to the operas above. He would worry about food later.

And soon would start the legend that the opera house was haunted – haunted by a ghost who was careful never to show himself, but who still managed to make his presence known. The rumors all said the opera ghost to be an old leading tenor who'd died during a performance on stage (for indeed, the stage at Le'Opera Populaire had been built from wood salvaged from a stage on which one Guy LePediu had died during a particularly horrible opera). Kevin scoffed at this, but was amused by the stories, nonetheless. The ballerinas were especially terrified of anything he did, talking in hushed voices everytime something fell, regardless of whether or not it had been Kevin or a mere accident.

Soon, however, his trouble making seemed to evolve. He wanted this opera to do well. And so, he started trying to fix things the only way he knew how – dropping scenery onto anyone in the chorus who dared to be flat, bad ballerinas waking to half their hair chopped off.

It would be five more years before the truly unusual events would start to unfold. Five more years before she would arrive.

5 Years Later

"And why are we going there, of all places?" Ben Tennyson leaned back in the carriage, his arms folded behind his head, using them as a pillow. His grandpa Max merely smiled at him.

"Because I've agreed to fund it, and your cousin can dance in the ballet."

"Yeah, but what am I supposed to do? Opera's so boring, Grandpa," Ben sighed and leaned forward, watching the horses. Max noticed and handed Ben the reigns. Ben's mood seemed to elevate automatically from that simple motion.

"Maybe you'll find a suitable countess?" Max suggested, elbowing Ben in the ribs.

Ben rolled his eyes. "Grandpa, I'm fifteen. I don't want to even think about marriage right now."

"But we're going to Paris!" Max gave his grandson a clap on the back, "Supposed to be the most romantic city in the world, after all."

"You sound like Gwen," Ben said, giving up on the reigns a little. "Is she ever going to come out of the carriage?"

"She's having a hard time," Max said, watching the horses. "She and Frank were very close…"

"I know, I know…Uncle Frank dying has got to be hard on her, but she doesn't do anything to even try to make herself happier. Dancing and singing only remind her of her parents…" Ben trailed off, then shook his head. "I'm sorry. I'd feel the same way. I guess she's just trying to feel close to them again."

"Precisely, Ben," Max nodded his approval. "You're starting to understand."

In the back of the carriage, a pretty red head had been listening in. Gwen smiled to herself – a very small smile, but at least it was a smile. Her cousin, Ben, meant well, but sometimes he didn't get it. It was a relief to see him grasping this notion at least.

She stretched her arms over her head, gripping her ballet slippers firmly in one hand. She didn't really want to be a ballerina – her father had always insisted she sing along while he played the violin. And so, she had wanted to be a singer. She sang quite beautifully, but there was something wrong with her voice. No one could tell her precisely, not even the teacher Max had sent for all the way from Romania.

"Your voice is just….hollow, I suppose," the teacher had finally said, shrugging. She quit that night and left for Romania again the next morning.

Gwen had given up on the dream, at least in practice. She still allowed herself her fantasies. It seemed like that was all she had.

"Gwen!" Ben's voice called, "If you're asleep, you better wake up…we're here!"