I wrote this a while back now on a complete whim. Inspiration struck me full force, and before I knew what I was doing, I had a page worth of writing.
I couldn't help it, I suppose. It's no secret that Erik/The Phantom is a character that fascinates me greatly. I see so many quirks in him, so many things that set him apart and make him truly unique, and I suppose that is what draws me towards him. When I wrote this, I knew only that I wanted to try and step into this hard-to-embody character's and write from his point of view. It sounded like a fun challenge ;P
So, this fic is mostly a characterisation test. As it's written in the perspective of the Phantom, a lot of it holds rather strange thought patterns and over-reactions, because that's exactly how I saw him. I wanted not only to present a good representation of him but embody his voice, meaning the writing is highly stylised as well. Unfortunately, my knowledge of the era in which Phantom of the Opera is set is not particularly good, so it's written in a rather more modern style (originally, it was supposed to be Leroux style. It didn't work.) and may contain some historical inaccuracies. If there are any in there, please tell me and I'll change it quickly XD
This fanfic is based purely off of ALW's musical. I have seen the film and read the original novel, but they both present very different Phantom's/Eriks to the one I envisioned when I watched the musical on stage. I have not read Kay or many other fanfics either, so this was essentially a new characterisation of Erik (I have no idea what the general personality he is given here o-o). Regrettably, due to the fact that I do not have extensive knowledge of the Palais Garnier (despite actually visiting it), I've had to rely on some of the movie settings to present an 'entire' Opera House. However, where possible, I'll be using the real life Opera House as inspiration for the setting.
Anyway, I'm sure I've scared a lot of you away already with that drabble, awful habit I have there o_o. Now I'll let you get on. Enjoy the fic :)
An apprehensive but comfortable darkness came over the opera house as a evening performance began. The chandelier cast a haunting glow over the illustrated ceiling. The light touched the paintings softly, illuminating the pretty artwork upon the ceiling. Its intensity was purposely gentle so it did not disturb the audience below.
There was a tangible feeling of raw anticipation in the air this night, as there is most nights. Few men have the patience or the love for music to sample the melodies and stories this place performs day after day, as I do. I can only gather a trip here is a rare excitement in most people's dull lives. That is understandable, I suppose. In the atmosphere of this place, you can lose yourself. The songs can penetrate right into your soul, making you lose all sense of reality as you are swept along by the lyrics and tune of a great opera. It is like you are barely living, yet living more than usual at the same time. Your body does not exist; all that exists is the enlightenment your entire being feels as a voice, as pure as the sun, caresses you gently.
At least, that is what often happens when you listen to a well-composed and superbly sung opera. Sadly, this is a rare thing at present. After all, that evening the prima donna was Carlotta, the talentless soprano.
Like every man who takes in an occasional opera here, the audience's ears are not attuned to the subtle tones and vocal flexibility that make a singer truly grand, nor are they aware of how much effect this can have on the opera. They are fed drivel, becoming increasingly tone-deaf as they consume songs sung by the amateur and incapable. They see only the mediocre so believe the mediocre is stunning. They only see what Monsieur Lefèvre deems brilliant, and what musical ear does a manager have? None. I, on the other hand, appreciate genius, and I know that this female performer has none.
I sat for a mere moment, enjoying the opening notes of an opera I had heard hundreds of times, before turning away from the performance as soon as Carlotta's voice spoiled the music. I pitied the poor fools down in the audience, who clearly had had to pay the full fee to see such a ghastly woman sing.
I left my seat in box five, my movements rapid but as subtle as a change in the wind. My footsteps were silent, my form making as much noise as a shadow as I passed smoothly across the marble floors. Not even the curtains rustled as I exited my reserved stall. My passage was no louder than, dare I say, that of a… ghost?
Never would the pitiful little dancers, who uttered my stage name with such reverence and fear, realise how accurate their usual nickname for me was. 'The Phantom' is an incredibly appropriate name. When it was first used it felt so natural to my ears it almost felt like part of me. Even before I took that persona, I was a ghost, even as a mere infant. My mother was so terrified of my appearance; she hid me from the world. My birth name was one that was spoken with curiosity by many a man who knew of me. Yes, they never knew me. They knew of me. I lurked in the shadows of existence, no one knew me. Not even my mother. My name was a quiet and mysterious thing to all who heard it. It never spoken with certainty, it was like a whisper… an echo… I was always dead.
My existence is that of a ghost's. As a child, living on the fringes of the norm, I was more dead then alive. I became the ghost everyone wanted me to be. I was rarely seen, never heard. I simply became a shadow, someone without light lurking in the corner. My face is the sins of humanity in the flesh. I live my death in eternal hell to repay my debts. What more of life can I expect?
I was a pitifully weak child. So fragile, my tears were spent like a rich man's fortune. So feeble a mind. Like a rat. I tried to claw my way out of darkness and into the light. I begged for that elusive emotion, love… I pleaded for it with my every action. So distasteful… I was working towards a figment of my imagination. Love doesn't exist, not for any man, especially not for loathsome beings such as I. I earned no sympathy, only unkind glances, words of scorn. I learnt that affection would never be bestowed upon me, so I would no longer give my own. Yet, in this I found a power much stronger than so-called 'love'.
I live beyond emotion, a fearless demon that demands respect from all who knows his name. I learnt to love the feelings of fear I invoked within all, I embraced the hate.
Ghosts may be as tangible as a whisper on the wind but they can be more fearsome than a nightmare. That is what I became, a fearsome dream that is reality. Men are nothing more than spineless fops. They know nothing of hardship, it makes them weak. But where their courage fails them, mine succeeds. I am not human, they all fear me and I fear nothing. I am stronger; I can make them do anything I wish. Their terror makes them vulnerable, they become my puppets at the sign of my wrath. I live as a ghost. It makes me powerful, it teaches them not to mess with death. I am not to be disobeyed.
So, indeed, I am a ghost.
I crept silently down the corridors, making my way down multiple stairways to the ground floor, the soft sound of my movements masked by the sounds of the opera reverberating throughout the building. However, my route was interrupted. A little way away, a man was making their way down the corridor towards me, I would be within his sights in seconds. I knew within moments that my normal entrance to my lair was not an option if I wished my presence to remain a secret. My passage was swift, I darted to the right, allowing the man no more than a glimpse of my form in the corner of his eyes before I disappeared into a the walls of the theatre.
The walls welcomed me with open arms, a passage unknown to all but I greeted me with pleasant darkness. Though I have travelled far and wide, the opera house is the only part of this world that truly embraces my darkness, my voice and my soul. Though places like these, beyond human eyes and a façade of elegance, are dank and cold, they hold their own charm. One might argue they are unpleasant and unwelcoming, but this is a hasty deduction and conceited view. Here, you can be whatever you are. It is a world touched not by human vanity, the walls look not at you with shame, they cherish you, whether you be monster or man.
It is my place, a place of mystery and music combined.
I wandered down the space between the outer wall of the opera house and the inner wall, brushing spider webs out of my path. I knew precisely where I was, I could never be lost in my theatre, but I was in a corridor I had not used for some time. This corridor was much too narrow to be walked in comfortably so usually I opted for a slightly wider and more direct corridor. This one wound here and there somewhat, I would have to face an unpleasant detour if I wished to get anywhere near my lair.
Yet, it was not the time the journey would take that I found troubling, it was the thought of where the indirect route would take me. The chapel. That place of religion unsettles me greatly; it has an aura of mystery and light that puts me ill at ease. I am the embodiment of sin; such a godly place is not for my eyes or ears. I avoid that place at all costs.
I pressed onwards, casting my discomfort away as I focused on only the journey ahead. Managing to keep my breath and pace steady throughout the journey, I only faltered when I was but metres away from the chapel. I had to stop, to pause. I am not one for fearing but even I cannot help but feel a slight cowardice as I approach such sacred places. The atmosphere around the outer wall of the chapel chilled my blood and made me shiver. The silence here felt wrong, it harassed my ears much more than Carlotta's vain attempts as singing.
But I refused to succumb to such childish emotions. I forced myself forward, trying to make as little noise as possible, feeling as if breaking such a silence was a sin.
Yet… as I moved forwards the silence did not remain. No… it faded, it succumbed to sound. As I moved forward, a voice rose in the darkness, making my heart lurch and breath catch in my throat.
From the first note, I was rapt. A voice, clear as the sun, spoke to me in the darkness. The words were simplistic and common, verse familiar and tune well known. It was not a feat of writing nor a breakthrough in composition. No, it was a simple song, a hymn sung by many. But it hardly mattered. The voice added a freshness to it, some indescribable quality that made me listen to it anew.
So soft, so gentle… the song penetrated the darkness in so tender a way that it was almost a caress. It was such a natural sound, it did not even disturb the air as the tune rose and fell. It surged smoothly through the air like a summer breeze.
But the wind held a distinct chill. It was a song of mourning, a song tinged with sorrow and death. The voice was so strong yet so broken, I could feel her soul in the words she sang. Though she lacked mastery over the notes, the clear voice held a passion and emotion I had never heard before. The girl, the angel, she had a gift.
I stumbled backwards, my hand reaching out to the crumbling wall.
The song… it touched me, calmed me, and lulled me into a state of bliss. As it rose and fell, I was carried with it. My mind and soul hung on every note. It did not think, it listened. My reality vanished; all that existed was the song. It was unlike any sound I had ever heard before…
Yet, I found myself despairing. Although a pure delight coursed through my veins, I felt a fear to equal it. No… it really was not like anything I'd heard before. This girl, with her song cracked by bitter sadness and verse disjointed by sobs, she did not set me free. She did not carry me away to a place beyond thought and feeling. Though it was great… it was too great. It reached into my heart and made it's mourning mine. It did not take me away from my harsh reality… it brought it all back to me.
I gasped, pain flooded through me as I collapsed to the floor. The song danced through my mind and into my dreaded memories and thoughts. It embraced me whilst cutting deep into my core. It showed me the world's cruelty and my own hurt, the anguish of loss, the lack of love and the despair of life. My own fears were shown to me, my own emotions set to ruining my soundness of mind. My confidence evaporated, my strength became weakness. My head fell to my hands, my mask falling to the floor.
Silent sobs wracked my body as hers descended into further despair. This was not a song, it was a soul… and my soul was a part of this song. This song was a gift, a wonderful gift I couldn't quite understand… but it was a curse, a harsh curse.
Torment. My heart was being ripped from my body. I could feel her pain as if it was my own. Her calls for her father… my calls for love… they became one. I cried for her… I cried for me. Her voice stirred within me the despair and longing I hid from myself. The pain of life bore down upon me… it hurt me more than I could bear.
The pain was so great; I wanted to scream out in pain. The hurt overtook me, manifesting itself physically and making the place where my heart would lie hurt. I lost myself in a world of pain. Yet, the pain was just a distraction from my joy, and my love a distraction from my hurt. I was revived by the beauty of the voice, a feeling of tormented bliss awakening my soul from a deep sleep.
I felt an excitement and happiness I had not felt in years. An awe and peace silenced my heart… the tears became those of joy. This girl, whoever she was, knew my pain. She felt it as I had all my life. And her voice… it was divine. So beautiful, it tenderly soothed my pain and stopped my tears. Never before had I appreciated a song more than I had in that time. Although it had hurt me, it gave me faith.
It sung of another's hurt… another who felt pain just as I did. I was so overwhelmed, I cried for her and for me. Our tears were one, my mind hers. She was not alone. I was not alone. There was hope.
As I knelt, stunned, the song slowly ebbed away. I was thankful for the peace it left me with, yet tauntingly bereft of the joy it had taken from me. I was left with only emptiness, my entire being longed for the song… for the feelings I had felt. The pain… it had been strong but far inferior to the happiness and now, in the darkness that felt dark and hostile, I mourned for the song.
I was unprepared for the sickening lurch of my heart as the silence struck me. A strong feeling of desperate longing brought itself to the front of my mind, utter confusion. I had expected the lack of sound to soothe me, to comfort me and to allow me to recollect my thoughts… but instead I found it to be a harsh unyielding thing. It smothered me, the cold unfeeling darkness strangling all thoughts. The world took on a sinister undertone, no longer did this dank underworld seem a warm and inviting place… it was depressing and evil. I was lost in this swirling darkness, my demons, usually so well contained in the blackness of my heart, now flesh and dancing before my eyes. Taunting me. It was only my exhaustion that kept me from running like a madman. But, these shadowy creatures were truly a part of me. I could not outrun them, even if I tried.
I sat there for what seemed like hours before the blackness passed. My mind had emptied itself of thought; I was left as emotionless as always. I finally drew myself up, my entire body shivering with the effort. I cared not about the tears that stained my face. Retrieving my mask, I placed it upon my face and staggered onwards. I longed for the embrace of my lair. I hurried, my footsteps no longer subtle and silent but loud and uncertain. I felt as if I was wading through water. Moving was a difficulty, as if my mind could not grasp the feat of walking. I stumbled several times in my panicky haste, my urge turning to desperation as I felt the dark surroundings become increasingly oppressing and unforgiving.
Eventually, I spied the entrance of my lair, staggering towards it I collapsed onto the floor in the entrance to my home. Pain shot through my aching bones, but I was too drained and unwilling to move. Without a thought, my mind finally gave in to the silence and slipped into an uncomfortable sleep.
How was that? I live off of constructive criticism, so I will truly be glad for any you might give. I have already written a second chapter, and if I can inspire myself to do so, I shall be writing up until the musical starts (if not beyond). I hope you've enjoyed this chapter anyway :) Thanks for reading!