Author's Note:

This is the beginning of a new idea that I'm testing. It's mostly from Meg's perspective, but there might be a bit of Phantom POV. We'll see how it works out. Let me know what you think!

I have changed a few things: Meg and the Phantom (Erik) are closer in age, just so things won't be...weird/awkward/gross. Y'know? In this story, Meg was alive when Madame Giry rescued Eric from the circus, but has never seen or spoken to him. This chapter takes place before Christine is brought to the opera house.

As I said earlier, let me know what you think! I'd really like a second opinion on this one. As always, read and review! ~Forest

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Phantom of the Opera ideas, characters, plot twists, etc.

Chapter One

Ever since I was a little girl, my mother told me stories of the Phantom of the Opera Populaire. She told me about how she had saved him from the abuse of the circus, and how she smuggled him into the opera's depths. Even though I had been alive when my mother helped the Phantom, I had neither seen nor met him. Mother said he was deformed, but never told me how so. I asked about him often.

My mother refused to tell me anything of his appearance. She'd just sigh and say, "Oh Meg. What will I do with you? Your mind is always drifting off! Now chin up, focus, and show me that dance again."

I asked a few of the stagehands, thinking they would have more information. But each had their own story, and it was hard to tell fact from fiction.

"Like yellow parchment is his skin," Joseph Buquet told me when I asked. "A great black hole serves as the nose that never grew. You must be always on your guard," here he pointed his finger at me, "or he will catch you in his magical lasso."

Another stage hand said, "His eyes are black, like two dark spots on his face. And his skin? Clear white because he never goes out into the sun. You can see his veins underneath his skin. Beware, Meg Giry, or he'll catch you and drag you down into the depths of the opera house…"

I didn't know who to believe. Everyone claimed they had seen the Phantom, but no two descriptions were even close to the same.

I decided to ask my mother one last time.

I was lying in bed, but I was far from sleep. My mind was swimming with thoughts. "What does the Phantom look like, Mother? Why is he so terrible to look at?"

My mother took a seat beside my bed, looking down at me with her brown eyes. "If I tell you, will you sleep? Do you promise never to ask again?" she asked softly.

I nodded solemnly.

"Very well." She stared at the wall for a few moments, then turned back to me. "His name is Erik. A genius, he is, even at his young age. He knows every passageway in this opera house like the back of his hand."

She and I both knew this was not the information I was seeking.

"But what does he look like?" I asked eagerly when she paused.

She looked at me for a long time. "Half of his face is normal, beautiful, and the skin is soft and clear. But, on the right side of his face, the skin is red and rough, pinched and pulled in strange ways." She sighed. "It is very hard to explain, dear Meg."

"Joseph Buquet says he has no nose."

"Joseph Buquet has never seen the Phantom."

"What of his nose?"

The corner of mother's mouth turned up slightly. "He has a nose, Meg." She paused, then added one more piece to his description. "He wears a mask to cover the deformed side of his face. I pray you will never see his distortion. For both your sake and his."

My mother stood and leaned over me, giving me a quick peck on the cheek. "Now get some rest. You have a lot of training for the ballet tomorrow."

"Good night, Mother," I replied quietly.

She turned and looked at me from the door way, her eyes searching my face for something. After a few moments, she smiled slightly, and blew out the candles. Quietly, she slipped through the door, leaving me with my thoughts.

As I drifted off to sleep, images of the Phantom—Erik, as my mother had called him—drifted through my thoughts. And when I fell asleep, I dreamed of a boy not much older than I with a mask covering half his face. I danced for him, and, in return, he sang quietly to me. We were content to share our talents until, suddenly, Joseph Buquet came from the shadows and took the Phantom's mask. Behind the mask was a mess of yellow, red, and white skin, a discolored eye, and a hole that was his right nostril. The Phantom yelled in anger and tried to cover the deformed half of his face with his hand, but both Joseph Buquet and I had already seen it…

I bolted upright in bed, panting and sweating. I looked around the room, searching the darkness for Joseph Buquet or the Phantom in my dream. Seeing neither, I fell back onto the pillows, the song Erik had sung to me in my dream ringing in my ears.

After a few verses, the song ended, and I heard a man's voice whisper, "Sleep, Meg. All is well."

The song wasn't a dream.

The Phantom was singing me to sleep.