The star of the night was beaming; her radiant smile made her all the more beautiful. Her heart fluttered with joy as she breathed in the air that night. She felt like she was floating on the applause, on the sweet scent of flowers, and of him. Today, she was a star and she felt more a woman than she ever had, at sixteen. As Paris adored her pupil, her daughter, Antoinette Giry stood with a heavy heart, the cane more support for her shocked state than for any physical state. Her observations had taken her to see everything. Everything was going to change.

It had been years since she had even seen him but she could tell; he was madly emotional. Was it love? Was it loves that made her friend more possessive than ever and find a reason for life in a world that abhorred him? She had never felt this before, a sort of pity and envy that she wished for to disappear, imagining nights she was arm in arm with Erik, and now, thinking everything would be fine. What Christine needed was a father figure, a guide, and needing time away from the rest of the girls, so unlike herself. Then there was all that Erik needed, someone to blindly love him, in a literal sense, someone to depend on him, completely surrender to him and his ideals. This was something, Antoinette realized, she never could have given him, she was much too independent for him. She chuckled in recognition of the time when she had first slapped him when they were teenagers, Erik aghast and eyes livid. How fast it had all gone by. She could not think any further of the situation, she was young and he was beyond hope. Her role now no longer was a bribed matchmaker's, she had become an unwilling chaperone who acknowledged the relationship. Yet, this was not as bad, Erik would never hurt her. Erik had been very good to her and Meg, she pointed out. This time, it was just so out of control now, out of her grasp, for she could no longer chase after Erik and tell him he was wrong, too stubborn to agree then and worse now. And she could not let the one rationally true answer in her heart overcome her, that she-No, she would not reveal that to anyone.

She would have never thought more of the Vicompte de Chagny. At first she brushed off any idea of conflicts arising as something that would soon pass as the opera season would and Christine would continue to be a star, yet now her childhood sweetheart had returned at the climatic event of her teenage years, and the darkest of Erik's. She could hardly hold her breath when he walked past, eager to see Christine and she shook her head, merely an infatuation as she saw Christine much more enthusiastic than ever, and yet more confused than ever. For goodness sakes, he was a viscount, much higher than the rank of soprano singer but then again, her Jules was secretly higher in rank. So when the music started, she could not wish for any more than to shield Christine so happily in love with Raoul, a handsome, respectable boy. Meg stood next to her, blinking furiously, as if she knew. No, Erik has no sympathy now and she knew he would stop at nothing; this was not something Meg needed to be involved in. And seeing him for the first time in so long, she could not help but gasp. He looked better, healthier physically, confident as he stepped down each step. She stepped forward, feeling butterflies in her stomach and forgot who she was for a second, for a second she forgot Christine and forgot who Erik was. He was not even looking her way, she sighed, and he was looking at Christine, fright in her eyes and standing alone to be greeted as if by death himself. The sight of them brought on a feeling of star-crossed fate. The scene was interrupted and Ann prevented the rolling of her eyes at the sight of Raoul running back with Erik snatching her ring from her neck. She had not even recognized it until she saw Raoul running over. In a trance, she had realized the patron of the arts had followed dutifully and she ran. He would die! He had already done the unforgivable, murder, and she could not let it happen again. Somehow, her heart disagreed with anger at Erik and at the same time, a riddance of Raoul. He was a kind and caring man, she had nodded to that, and he truly did love Christine. So when he asked, she somehow knew he would be the only choice, the only choice to something she did not even know. He absorbed the story of Erik's past with intent but did not flicker from what he wanted, to him; his love for Christine was natural and needed no fight, she was his and he was her protector. Something so young and fresh was in their love for each other, two cautious people finding each other and creating a world for them. Of course, she saw the vanity, the selfishness, and the recklessness of their love but they were young and she noted the grudging vanity Erik held too, all these devoted years he spent though! She could not just allow this stranger to break his best friend's heart and Antoinette Giry knew balance was not a skill she was good at teaching, despite being a ballerina teacher for she was truly torn.

"Cleary, genius has turned to madness," He pressed on, as she let tears helplessly fall from her eyes, shaking her head. Another sleepless night for them all. That night, the viscount de Chagny asked for her permission to sit outside Christine's dormitory room, one she still slept in despite being the star for she had nowhere to live. She nodded fervently, and he bid her goodnight and left them all in their own thoughts.

He turned back though, and added, "Thank you for helping me, Madame," to which she could only nod, fingering the items on her desk. No, she was helping no one, she was on no one's side, and she just wanted everyone to live happily and normally, Christine to Meg to Erik to even Raoul. No, she was on nobody's side in this twisted game. Besides, Raoul was a man enough to face another gentleman who was neither ghost nor monster, but a man, for his Christine's heart.

At the end of the tossing and turning, as the sun had barely risen over a January morning, she sat up with the interminable questions racing in her mind, and the stupidest one of all? What drew Erik away from her; was she not pretty enough? All of a sudden she needed him, she wanted him physically, for it was too late for he was always there occupying her mind. However, today was another day, to train the ballerinas as her duty and she took a deep breath and she pondered.

"We have all been blind, and yet the answers staring us in the face," He glared intently at them all as Madame Giry gasped, eyes travelling from Raoul to the managers.

"Erik," she thought and she understood she must see him, warn him, but somehow she could already picture him, and she looked up. With another flash of a cape, it was noted Erik was up there, listening to the conversation and in her left ear, a familiar voice whispered:

"I don't care, Antoinette, I bloody don't mind at all!" And she could hear the underlying anger in his maniacal tone.

"You can't do this!" She hissed, to Erik but the managers turned to glare only once before starting to wander down the halls of the backstage, as she followed helplessly and attempting to voice in her opinions that everything would go horribly. Yet she could not help herself from stopping breathless at the sight of him that very night, when he noticeably ended up on stage, his voice perhaps even more passionate. All around were the blank faces of an audience to a tragic end and a wave of familiarity drew her back to everything and for a moment, she could not stand still and held on to the neighboring policeman. All those reminders she had thrown to the managers, to everyone, "Hands at the level of your eyes," and all, she had never thought off until now and there was no turning back. She eyed her daughter dancing away, the very dance moves she choreographed, then to Christine, and a wonderful actress she had become. It was confusion to see if she truly loved the man under the mask or not at this point and the house sat at the edge of their seats, drawn into their compelling relationship.

"Oh God," She breathed, repeating it to herself several times, watching the scene fixedly. Antoinette Giry saw that black domino mask come off, saw Erik's face from a distance and knew that he had now lived through his worst fear and screamed, wanting no more than to run up to him. To have been scorned by the woman he so madly and intensely loved and to have a full house of people see his face. She closed her eyes, fists clenched; the song had ended.

The End

Author's Note: Thank you all so very much for reading my story from beginning to end now, you guys have guided me through a year and more of attempting to finish the story and I have. Special thanks to elizabethbennet3553 and Spot, your comments have really meant lots to me! Thank you all, reviewers and watch out for more of my stories *wink, wink* and once more, THANK You! Lots of kisses!