Disclaimer: Me owning Erik and Christine would be illegal.
"What is a mask?" The girl asked him one evening in the dying echoes of his violin. A teacher, an angel, and a friend…a man she scarcely knew, yet could read in seconds by tone alone. The unfinished story she'd gone over once, but was returning older to complete.
He watched her eyes and thought a while, mouth curling in its most ironic smile. She had bouncing curls and rosy cheeks—a lily throat containing seraph's song. Innocent, but so naïve. She was almost painful in her ignorance. "A mask is the face people wear to hide. You should know that well enough by now, my dear."
"Not precisely." She replied, lips quirking beneath the dusk. "Not always."
"No?" A query, laughingly grim. "Then please enlighten me: What is a mask?"
Her chin tilted up and up some more, studying cracks lacing paint darker than cream or yellow but brighter still than brown. The color had no real name, and she'd considered calling it vomit-hue once upon a time. Gradually, however, it seemed to grow on her. She liked it because it was warm and comfortable…calm, as familiar as the chapel walls before her. Perhaps he was everywhere at once and there was no reason to search for heaven in her answer. Then again, perhaps not. "I think a mask is who you wish you were. Or maybe what you dream to become, one day."
Her maestro chuckled, and it was the most sinister sound a holy creature could possibly emit. She was almost frightened for a moment. Almost, but not quite. And almost didn't count. "Very good, my child…very good. So tell me—which one is yours?"
Little lady frowned, and even the knitting of her brow couldn't mar the beauty he saw therein. No wrinkle, no scratch, no disfiguring spot—nothing that landed upon the yet-growing visage of his maiden could truly touch her. "The Countess." Christine declared at last, grinning in her happiness.
It would be a long time before he understood what she'd truly meant. Not Prima Donna, not lead soprano. For all that Il Muto was among her favorite plays, the answer did not lie therein. No.
Even then, she'd dreamt of that highborn aristocrat. Not long into the future, mask and flesh would merge. Possibly, they had always been one.
And he would remain what he'd always been. A ghost concealed by little more than a scrap of porcelain. Hiding for evermore.