Hello! It's been a long while, but I think I'm back in the groove! This chapter may be a little off-kilter, as it's been so long since I've written. Please read and review anyways, but perhaps be slightly forgiving. I hope you enjoy!
Saturday morning came quickly, and Antoinette and Meg, clad in respectable travelling gowns, rose just before the sun to load the carriage with the supplies they would need for their visit to Christine and Raoul's. The dress that had mysteriously appeared in Antoinette's room was securely packed in the same sturdy oak chest as Meg's dress for the wedding, along with the few other valuables they were bringing along.
"Don't speak in the morning, Meg." Antoinette had told her daughter the night before. "I don't know how often he is really listening, or even present. But it is far, far better to be overly cautious than to be sorry that you weren't."
"Of course." Meg had nodded.
She'd remembered this morning quite well, greeting her mother with a simple, "Good morning!" Although her mother could clearly see the excitement brimming within her, showing through the gleam in her eyes and the bounce in her step. Antoinette herself was feeling cheerful this morning, although a bit frightened that there would be some sort of unplanned interruption.
Very little time passed before the last of their packages was secured, and it was time for the two women to enter the carriage themselves. While Meg waited in the carriage, Antoinette made one last round throughout her small home, checking to make sure all was secure, and scrawling a quick note that she left on the table.
On a trip with Meg. Will return late next week. A.G.
She wasn't sure why she left the note. She suspected it would do very little good—she couldn't see why he would care if they were gone, and he probably knew they were leaving. It wasn't an easy thing to hide. Still, it soothed at least the edges of the fretful ball inside her chest, and with a deep, calming breath she turned her back on the house, shut the door behind her, and joined her daughter.
A day and a half later, Antoinette was greeted with the sight of a stunning face framed by graceful, curling brown hair. "Christine Daae." She murmured. The smile on the girl's face was far brighter than it had been the last time she'd seen the young star.
"Madame Giry," The singer's voice was warm, with only a very slight hint of breathlessness betraying her excitement.
Meg had no reservations, and leapt from the carriage and grasped her friend's hands in her own, speaking before Antoinette could reply to Christine's greeting.
"Christine! How are you? Oh, it has been forever, has it not? There is so much I wish to share with you, and so much I want to hear." For a moment the girl's exchanged giddy smiles, the two ballet-girls from the past, having a special friendship and sisterhood appearing for a moment.
"Madame Giry! Ms. Marguerite." A masculine voice broke the moment. Raoul descended the steps of the mansion-like home that the carriage had brought the Giry's to.
"He got his hair cut!" Meg exclaimed, a bit too loudly and happily. Raoul's eyes paused on her for a moment, a small crease appearing on his brow. Christine's hand rose to cover her mouth, the corners of her eyes crinkling.
Antoinette sighed silently, then stepped forward into the silence, nodding her head at the vicomte. "Monsieur. It is good to see you. And lovely to see you, my dear." She added as she returned her gaze to Christine.
"Please, come in." Christine said, and began walking towards the house, turning her head back to talk with her two visitors. "I can give you a tour, the home is lovely. I can't believe I'll be mistress of it in just a few days…I'm so happy." She shared a lingering, fervent look with her beloved. They both did seem truly happy, Antoinette noted. She knew there were still many shadows lingering beneath the surface of their lives, but she believed that if Christine and Raoul held tight to one another, they could make it through all the stronger for their trials.
Christine, Raoul, and Meg were at the table playing a game when Madame Giry stepped outside to look for her hair pin. She'd discovered it had fallen from her hair some hours before, and had been retracing her steps searching for the beaded pin. It was dusk, and the darkness made it hard to see the ground clearly. She rounded the corner of the drive—perhaps it had somehow fallen through the window as the carriage had pulled in earlier—and stopped suddenly. The carriage—a rental that had been only for a one-way trip—was pulled to the side of the road. Frowning, Antoinette approached it, calling out as she did so.
"Is someone there?" She demanded. It was highly inappropriate for a carriage driver to make use of the Vicomte's grounds as a sleeping place without acquiring permission.
"What?" A voice spoke up from inside the carriage, foggy with sleep. The carriage door opened and the driver's head popped out. "Say, it can't be dark already!" Antoinette heard him mutter.
"Indeed it is. Are you troubled by something?" She asked him, hinting with her tone that if he wasn't, he had better be moving on.
"Did the other carriage pass me by without my noticing it?" He asked her, scratching his head in puzzlement.
"What?" Antoinette asked, suddenly confused. "You must be mistaken, we had no other carriage." Perhaps he was mad, or slow.
"Not you specifically, the….the gentleman you were travelling with."
Her blood turned to ice. It wasn't possible. It wasn't something he'd do…was it?
She knew, he would do anything.
"The gentleman who was travelling with us—did he tell you that he was part of our party?"
"I see…what did he tell you? You must tell me specifically, it's important." The words came out in a hiss.
The driver's brows rose, and he spoke defensively. "See here, he barely said anything. Just spoke in a voice all muffled by his hood so that I could barely hear the words. Said he was to take a carriage following you, and to make sure we stayed well behind you so that the carriage didn't get caught in your dust. That's why we didn't have the other carriage pulled out when you left. But they still should have arrived by now."
But they—he—hadn't. And Antoinette knew that was no accident.