Fandom: Phantom of the Opera & Beauty and the Beast
Disclaimer: Please don't sue. I don't own *insert fandom name from above*... All I own is an overactive imagination.
Summary: POTO take on Beauty and the Beast. So, it's technically not a crossover, just a different telling of the fairy tale.
Word Count: 4,096
A/N: I really miss the days when I was certain this was going to be a oneshot. :( Oh, and I honestly couldn't help but have this title. XD I tried to stop myself, but it amused me to such a great degree that I could do nothing but allow it to remain. (I apparently appreciate clichéd titles too much.)
Story note: I despise this chapter for the trouble it's given me.
It is very much a la the fairy tale. And we get more revealed about Erik. :D Oh, and I had this outlined for a while and have just now realized that the inspiration of Go Where I Cannot Follow and a part of Eyes Need Not See came directly from this chapter. You'll see it. (I recycle moments far too often for my tastes. And the worse thing is that I don't realize it until later.) Sisters' names taken from Go Where I Cannot Follow (in head!canon, those are their names).
La Belle et la Bete
By: Lucifer Rosemaunt
Chapter 07 – music of the night
Several years had already passed since any of the Changys had last vacationed at their beach house, or at least, what had once been their beach house. Yet, it was always with an intense fondness that Raoul thought of it.
His parents' funeral had invaded every room, hallway, and living space in their home and estate in Chagny. Dark garb and silent processions of somber faces had followed them on the road, to every city, and even as they had momentarily sought refuge in their country home. At the time, they had yet to realize that there would be no refuge, that there was no longer a place to call home. Now, two months from the first year anniversary of their parents' deaths, they had still yet to find one, and in the face of their more recent failure at keeping together what little family they had left, it was becoming all too obvious that they were ill-prepared at understanding the method of creating one.
Somehow, in Raoul's mind, the melancholy of loss and displacement had at least excluded the small stretch of sand and shoreline of the beach house, which now housed all of his remaining happy, familial memories. As doggedly as he stored those memories though, he rarely willingly revisited them. They highlighted the gaps and emptiness that he had no means of ever filling; so, instead of keeping them close to his thoughts, he kept them close to his heart. Even the bittersweet emotions they evoked were better than the despair that every so often threatened to consume him.
This would not be the first time he had dreamt of the beach house though. Once a month, once a week if the days were particularly bad, he would find himself walking along the familiar shoreline. In his dream, the sun always sat upon the horizon, fixed at the moment of sunrise, and he knew it to be sunrise. It could not be anything but, not with the way the sky was lightened a pale blue with a striation of muted green clearly delineating where evening collided with morning. Nearer the horizon, the soft yellow abruptly bled to a vibrant orange before the deep, scarlet that radiated from the sun itself overpowered it, and there, across where ocean buoyed the sky, flame and fervor were smeared. He had often pondered how something as violent as the sun could engender such oft-underappreciated splendor.
The gentle breeze would tug him toward the beach house while the familiar give of sand beneath his bare feet would sooth the restive anxiety caused by the vestiges of uncertainty felt in his waking hours, a disquiet that Raoul had yet to learn how to tame even within his sleep. The rush of the waves would welcome him home, invite him to remain here forever, and he would be tempted because his treasured memories were in every part of this place.
He could lift up a sand dollar and the very universe would shudder until he was but a child sitting upon the floor of his father's den. He should have been drawing, but much of his time there was spent watching his father work. The count never looked as imposing as he did than when he was behind his desk, but whenever his father glanced over at him, he never failed to share a secret little smile, as though the stern voice directed at his valet was nothing more than a ruse.
Or, Raoul could spot a lonely cloud slowly drifting over the ocean before he was lying on the grass in their garden, staring up at a nearly identical bright sky. In that memory, he closed his eyes to better focus on Philippe good-naturedly teasing his sister, Amelie, and hear her indignant reply before Mathilde would come to her defense. Just an instant later, he held his breath to hear his parents and siblings, a concert of such carefree laughter that made Raoul feel as though he were flying.
The cry of a seagull; his siblings' indulging him in some childish recreation on the lawn. A curtain blown by the breeze; his mother's gentle touch. The roll of waves; the murmur of voices that had shaped the very way he heard the world. It was all at the beach house.
At the moment though, there was neither bright sky nor roar of the ocean. He could not feel the sand beneath his feet or the warmth of the morning sun. Yet, he expected to hear and see those landmarks soon, as though the dream was a mere thought away.
There was a distinctive quality about residing near a body of water. The air was always a little fresher, so very different from that of the country or the city. Crisp. Everything was a sharp focus by the ocean.
Raoul knew that was simply his own memory playing tricks on him because if he tried, he could remember the fog, the heavy obscurity that would descend on his family to ruin their holiday. He could conjure up the bitter cold, similar to the one that was actually now creeping into his bones, but memories, fond memories always eliminated those inconsistencies.
Yet, it was not the encroaching chill that drew him further into awareness. He could push that inconvenience from his thoughts. It was a slight discomfort that was familiar only because of the aftermath of his parents' deaths and the dissolution of their assets: the chill of camping on a harsh road to an unknown destination, the meager kindness that distant relations showed, a drafty inn that was still somehow more than they could afford. No, it was not the chill that roused him from his slumber; he had slept through worse. It was the air. It was the breath of heavy air, the one associated with their beach house that roused him as he desperately struggled to capture that dream, needing it now more than ever.
A gentle sway tried to lull Raoul back to oblivion instead; as tempting as that was, the sound of water lapping against a hard surface caught his attention instead. Instinctively, he pulled the blanket higher on himself but the small movement caused the bed upon which he lay to shift suddenly. His stomach lurched at the sudden pitch to the right. His 'bed' righted itself with residual rocking once he stilled. Tense, he opened his eyes and found the action useless because of the darkness in which he found himself. He tentatively reached out to feel about him: planks of wood worn from constant use and the edge of what he now assumed to be a small boat.
He was just starting to leverage himself to a sitting position when the boat jerked to a stop, the sound of wood scraping against stone making him wince and the jolt throwing him against the edge of the boat before he fell back down. His left arm throbbed at the impact. After a moment, once he was certain the boat had indeed run ashore, Raoul gingerly peered over the edge.
A multitude of lit candelabras crowded the shore near him and further beyond that more inky darkness. Behind him, the reflected flames danced upon the surface of a glassy lake, on ripples that had spread from the disturbance the boat had created. The shadowed undulations momentarily teased a memory, but the moment passed too quickly for him to fully grasp, leaving him with only a mild sense of tightness in his chest.
He climbed out of the boat on shaky legs, clutching the blanket to himself. Barefoot and in only cream, silk pajamas, he shivered. It was only when he wrapped the blanket about himself that he realized it was actually a cloak.
Before he could ponder the presence of the cloak, though that was hardly more notable than waking up in the middle of a lake, a melody disturbed the relative quiet. It sounded like a lullaby, weaving through the candles and flowing into the lake, as though contained by the water lapping on the stone shore yet still somehow spreading further. The notes echoed, a thinning of sound as it expanded, swelling much further than Raoul had expected, higher and wider. He peered once more into the darkness over the lake and could barely make out the walls, rocks smoothed by time and effort. He briefly wondered at the curiousness of a lake deep within an underground cavern before he was distracted by the fact that he was certain he had heard this melody before in his life. He could almost imagine his mother humming it to him.
The bottom of the cloak trailed on the floor as he walked toward what he hoped to be the source of such lilting notes. He could not help but marvel at the sheer volume of lit candles as they dulled the sharp edges of the ornate, floor candelabras. At each base, two winged-canine sentinels sat proudly on their haunches, maws hanging open to reveal jagged teeth as they jeered at their neighbors. A thick spiral column rose at their backs and from it, a lean, almost skeletal, figure of a demon from knee to head formed the vast majority of the central column, as though emerging from a whirlwind. In its hands were pikes held in a 'v' the length of its body. Over its head and twisted sneer, a brier of feathers had been fashioned into a deliberate flurry, as though following a burst of destruction. They were damaged wings that Raoul realized were probably more from a fallen angel than a hell-born demon. It was within the ruin of such desolate plumage that the candles were nestled.
The air was slightly warmed; the smell of wax accompanied him as he walked onward. Soon, the number of candelabras thinned, giving way to furniture, tables and chairs perhaps, but Raoul could only guess since they were all covered. Heavy canvas had been laid upon them while layers of dust and cobwebs showed their disuse. Passing a piece taller than him, he saw what might've been his reflection peeking from a poorly wrapped, full-length mirror, but his eyes were instead drawn to the back of a man sitting on the only furnishings besides the candelabras that were uncovered, a bench and along with it, an organ made of such odd ends, twisted tubes and scrap metal piecemealed together that Raoul wondered how it managed to produce such clear notes.
With bated breath, he drew closer, focusing on slick black hair, a black suit, and glimpses of pale hands caressing yellowing ivory keys. As he approached, he realized that he had been mistaken. The organ and bench were not the only things uncovered; an ornate upholstered chair was situated beside it. A slight movement from the man, his head turning slightly to the left, as though acknowledging him spurred him onward. The movement was so slight however that he could not be sure he hadn't imagined it.
It was with a detached sense of curiosity that he realized this must be a dream because as cautious as he knew he should be, he felt less anxiety with this stranger in this strange place than common sense dictated. Pulling the cloak tighter around himself, he silently crept forward, so as not to distract the musician further. So focused on his task, it wasn't until he was seated that he looked at him fully. Raoul's eyes widened in surprise to see a porcelain mask covering half his face; the other half of his face looked so completely normal, handsome even, that he could not help but wonder what could possibly be hidden.
The masked man was intently focused on the sheet music before him, but when Raoul followed his line of sight, the staffs were blank. Or rather, Raoul considered, he simply could not see them. There was no purpose to seeing the notes; he had the barest of musical knowledge and only that, because his sisters had once been taught to play the piano. He had simply sat in the parlor during their lessons.
"What do you want?" the musician asked so suddenly Raoul's heart actually jumped a bit in shock. His voice was pitched low and its brusqueness provided a stark contrast to the music he was playing.
Suddenly unsure of himself, Raoul moved to stand. "I…"
But his movement prompted a second query, "Where do you think you are going?"
He froze, half out of the seat, but seeing that the man's eyes had never once moved from the sheet music, he stood up. Unsure of what to do, he simply waited for any further suggestion from the musician. There was the boat, but he did not recall seeing any oars. So, he could leave, but he was not quite certain that he knew how to. He wasn't even certain that the musician wanted him to leave. Left standing there without a response, he found his gaze lingering on the mask as he considered his situation.
"Stop staring." And though Raoul saw his lips move, he could not quite convince himself that the man before him was indeed the source of such abrupt manner of speech. The musician was impeccably dressed and sat with such perfect posture. He exuded a stillness, a tranquility that seemed to flow through his fingers as he pressed, not pounded, the keys.
When he realized that he was in fact still staring, he looked away guiltily and replied, "I-I'm sorry. I have never seen a man wearing a mask such as yours before." What stood out even more than the mask, however, was the musician's voice.
Raoul straightened when from his peripherals he saw the masked man turn to look at him. In response, he stared at the organ pipes fixedly, willing the blood that had risen to his cheeks to abate. Some part of him knew that the man did not miss a single note in the song, a song he could not recognize but somehow still knew.
"Well?" the musician said expectantly.
Raoul parroted, "Well?" Slowing turning just to meet his eyes, he realized that they were green, piercing enough to make him forget that a mask obstructed his view of the man's visage. His dreams had never been so real, his imagination never so specific. "I do not know how I came to be here."
The masked man stopped playing abruptly in the middle of what Raoul would have said was the refrain. "That does not answer the question."
Thinking on it, Raoul had to agree. He hadn't answered the question, but it was the only answer he had to give. Besides, he could hardly concentrate in the now uncomfortable silence, and the musician's voice was simply too distracting. It was commanding without having to be raised. In a way, it reminded him of Philippe, and not many people Raoul had ever met in his life had managed that.
The musician's voice was stern, almost as though he spoke a command that held with it an implicit threat against noncompliance. In this case though, it was something more than confidence. There had to be something more to his voice because despite that edge of danger, despite his demeanor, Raoul was almost certain that he would remain here if only to hear this man speak a little more, to catch his every word. The curt sentences only teased at him, those mere glimpses of insight into the musician's character fascinating him.
Blushing at his peculiar thoughts, he quickly said, "I awoke in a boat." Hopefully, explaining how he came to be here would clarify that his presence was nothing more than happenstance and that he did not want anything at all. Raoul glanced back the way he came only to find that he could not see the path he had taken nor could he see the covered furniture. He turned about quickly, eyes following the candelabras that had fashioned a ring about them, all at once breathtaking and frightening upon the realization that the circle was unbroken.
The man cleared his throat and Raoul looked at him. Surprisingly enough, he calmed a fraction at the rather neutral expression, enough so that he could finish his wayward thought, "I heard you playing."
Green eyes darted downward toward the chair. "Sit down."
Raoul paused, captivated by the way it had sounded as both a demand and a request. Doing as he was told, he sat and lifted his feet from the cold, stone floor, tucking them beneath him and in the process, managed to wrap himself completely in the cloak. When he was finally settled, the man returned his gaze back to the sheet music. Though his hands were poised above the keys, he did not play. He simply sat there, perfect posture, neutral expression, and eyes focused ahead.
Thinking once more about the question that had been asked of him, Raoul wondered, what did he want? A myriad of things large and small cycled through his mind, none of which would explain why, at the moment, he wanted to remain here. Here, in the soft glow of candlelight and finally warming, he wanted nothing more than to listen to this stranger speak or play once more.
If he was to request something of this man, etiquette dictated that introductions were in order. "Raoul," he blurted out, much louder than he would've liked in this silence. "My name is Raoul," he said at a near whisper, though he doubted the other man would have any problem hearing him. "May I stay to listen to you play?"
He shifted uncomfortably when he received no response, not a single indication that he had even been heard. After he could stand the silence no more, he added, "If it is no trouble of course. If I am bothering you…" He never knew a non-expression could be so… expressive, but he could easily tell that the man was not pleased with his request or the subsequent babbling.
This man wanted something of him, he just didn't… "I want," he hesitated. The request sounded foreign to his ears, foreign because he hadn't been able to truly want for something so selfish, so singularly for himself, despite its trivial nature in a while now – and the one time he had, it had caused his brother to come to harm. "I want to listen to you play."
He was certain the masked man rolled his eyes at the request, but it was difficult to tell from his angle. Still, the first notes started as a whisper, as quiet as his own introduction, so silent his own breaths hindered his ability to hear them. Shutting his eyes to listen clearer, he focused entirely upon the music. He needn't strain himself long because the melody dropped to the lower octaves and rose in volume, loud enough that he could feel it in his bones. He couldn't help but smile softly as he imagined himself being carried away by the very notes themselves, far away from everything.
That, though, was another selfish thought. He knew that there was no place in the entire world that he was supposed to be than here. Although, he did have to wonder where here was exactly. It had to be a dream. It simply did not feel like any dream he'd ever experienced. And for the first time since waking in that boat, he let himself think of where he should be, in a borrowed bed in borrowed clothes. Anything seemed possible in the opera house however: invisible stewards, dancing dresses, and floating trays. Dreams that felt like he was truly seated beside a masked man in a cave listening to music played from an ingenuously constructed organ must be commonplace. After all, the opera house was overseen by a ghost that had no set form.
A single note extended as his thoughts turned onto the impossibility that was the ghost and then all was silent once more. Raoul opened his eyes then. The man's hands were gently resting on the keys, his head slightly turned and eyes fixed on him.
Feeling self-conscious, Raoul wondered exactly how long the man had been watching him. He ventured a smile before commenting, "That was beautiful."
The man scowled and standing up, pushed the bench back. Its legs caught upon the ground and for a long moment, it hung precariously on two legs before it clattered to the floor. Raoul tried to untangle his limbs to stand but became caught in the cloak. It didn't matter since the man was before him in a second, a hand pressing him down into the chair.
The masked man spat, "Do not presume to tell me what is beautiful." And unlike the ghost he had just been thinking of, there was no doubt that this was a flesh and blood man, and one no less suffocating in his very presence.
When the hand upon his shoulder gripped tighter, Raoul cringed away from him with a wince. "I apologize, Monsieur. I-I…"
The thumb digging into his shoulder pressed harder for a second as the man's eyes glazed over. Just as quickly though, he abruptly took two deliberate steps away.
Raoul remained where he was, one leg on the floor, the cloak wrapped around it; his second leg perched on the edge of the seat. He had a difficult time convincing his heart to calm, but that was expected since a small part of him considered running away this instant. Except, he knew he was not going to.
The man gave him one last look, lip curling into something Raoul would have named disgust had he had more than a moment to see it, before he turned away from him completely. Raoul shifted, attempting to untangle his leg from the cloak. How approaching this man was even an option when he appeared to be unhinged, he did not know, but trying to flee from this moment, a cusp of some import, seemed to be the least desirable option.
The masked man took a deep breath before slowly letting it out, his shoulders dropping in the process. "Stay," he said.
He turned slowly, and Raoul, who hadn't made any progress in untangling his leg, blinked several times before he even registered what had been said. The man was looking at him again, uncertainty easy to read now that Raoul had heard it in that single word. He didn't know what to say, but slowly, he lifted his leg to settle in something close to his original position. That seemed to be answer enough since the man righted the bench before standing motionless beside it.
His voice was clipped, just as tense as his posture when he spoke, "Do you want to hear me play more?"
Raoul nodded hesitantly. "Yes?"
Smoothly, the masked man slid onto the bench. "Erik," he muttered, making certain to avoid his gaze when he spoke.
Nodding again more vigorously, Raoul reiterated, "Yes, Erik. I want to hear you play."
The man complied immediately. This new melody had a creeping tempo and was a bit mournful. The pauses between the notes became as part of the melody as the notes themselves.
Raoul realized suddenly that he had been wrong. Erik's voice wasn't very much like Philippe's, at least not in what it informed. Philippe was rather sincere if not completely straightforward, and his voice reflected that. Erik, on the other hand, was awkward, almost clumsy even in his interactions, but his voice was completely different. It was somehow stronger and altogether self-assured in itself. His voice reminded him of the music the man was playing, as though it were an extension of his very self; the silences meaning as much if not more than the words themselves.
If Raoul couldn't hear the man speak more than terse sentences, his music would be an acceptable consolation. He said aloud to himself, "I think I shall always want to hear you play."
When Erik abruptly turned to look at him, he realized he'd spoken aloud. He muttered embarrassedly, "Well, I shall."
Erik scrutinized him a moment longer before turning forward once more, closing his eyes, and Raoul was almost certain that he'd said something wrong. He closed his eyes for a moment too, to think and it was only because his entire attention was focused on Erik that he heard him whisper.
"If only our wants could last that long."
When Raoul opened his eyes to ask him what that meant, he awoke.
End chapter 07
A/N: Don't forget to R/R (Read and Review)!
Chapter Review: Yes, it was a dream. :D But hey! Erik finally makes an appearance. Well, Erik!Erik not ghost-cursed!Erik (since he already made an appearance).
I sort of cheated with the candelabra. Well, not really cheat since I wanted it to have at least some basis with the candelabra in Erik's home, so inspiration was here – www(dot)costumearmour(dot)com(slash)cdfl(dot)can(dot)htm. I changed some things of course.