Title- Danse Macabre
Characters/Pairings- Meg/Erik, Christine/Raoul, appearances by the usual suspects and one spirit of an insane prima ballerina
Rating- T for the violence
Summary- Picks up where the 2004 movie left off. Christine and Raoul have their happy ending, the opera house is in ruins, and Erik is shattered. But something new, and something far more dangerous than Erik, is stirring in the depths of the Opera Populaire, and this time, it's not the prima donna who's the target: it's her little shadow. Can Meg find the strength to survive the looming disaster, and maybe find love along the way?
A/N- Yes, I'm aware that Meg's thoughts here kind of portray Christine as a loony here, but let's be honest, we all know she was screwed up. And don't we all have friends that we have to be strong for and take care of because they can't do it for themselves? Or is that just me…?
There are some things that shouldn't be forgotten, you see, but they are nevertheless. This tale is one of them. It is true what they say, that those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.
You see, a terribly long time ago, a girl named Adéle came to the Opera Populaire. She was very young when she came to live in the ballet dormitories, and an orphan. She was talented, even at a very early age. In fact, she was very talented.
From the moment she laced her first pair of ballet shoes, it was as though she had been made to dance. Grégoire Benoit, then the director of the Populaire's ballet company, encouraged her talent, and in his personal records, it has been noted that he described her as having been sculpted by God to be a prima ballerina.
Meg waded up from the water, trying not to visibly shiver as the cool air struck her legs, which were damp to the waist from the icy lake. She looked around this ether-world of night, trying hard not to be misled by the warm flicker of candles and the velvet and lace draperies. To her, it looked like paradise, but Meg was determined to remember that to Christine, this was a prison. She wasn't here to get lost in a daydream. She was here to rescue her friend, if she could.
She remembered the idle fantasies of her childhood, the days when she would study the stories of her favorite ballets and dream, not just of dancing the roles but also of living them out. Clara defeating the Mouse-King. Giselle, who defended her lover even from beyond the grave. Odette, sacrificing her own life to break the power of an evil sorcerer. These were the stories she grew up with, her secret idols on the days when her toes were covered in blisters and her ears were ringing with the snide whispers that such a curvy figure did not a ballerina make. Well then, now was her hour. Time for Meg Giry to show her worth and her courage, temptations be damned.
The trouble was, the cavern seemed devoid of life. The snarling cries of her fellow hunters echoed against stone, but there was no sound besides.
Meg let out a little sigh. She should have better remembered the words she herself spoke to Christine so many months before: stories like this can't come true. No chance of valor here, only pickings for souvenir-hunters desperate for a piece of the Phantom.
On the rock, Meg found the mask, the very one she had caught glimpses of in the darkness above the stage when everyone else was looking outwards and she alone thought to glance up. She picked it up, feeling the cool sculpted porcelain against her fingertips. She almost set it down again, but hesitated. This was the Phantom's defense, she thought, something personal and a little bit sacred. Something in her said no; she couldn't abandon this to be picked up by a scavenger.
Meg wandered in the opposite direction of the mob (and it was a mob, she suddenly realized: not an intrepid band of rescuers, but a rabid coven of witch-hunters). As the others abandoned the obviously empty Phantom's lair, she couldn't help but think that if there were any clue to where her friend had been taken, it would be here.
Alright then, searching for clues. That task drove all thought of the disaster occurring above her head from Meg's mind. She had to find Christine. She owed her that much. In a way, Meg really felt like this was her fault. Ever since Christine had come to the Opera Populaire, when Christine was seven and she was eight, she had tried to do as her mother said and become the stabilizing influence in her friend's life. When Christine had first started to get that haunted, faraway look in her eyes, like a startled fawn, Meg had done her best to ground her. She was her sister's keeper.
After Christine and Raoul had become involved, Meg had stepped back a little, expecting the Vicomte to look after her. Raoul, however, didn't seem to have the talent for managing Christine's fantasies the way she did, and before either of them knew what was happening, she had slipped away under the influence of the Opera Ghost's spell. If Meg hadn't been so determined to give the young lovers the space they needed to conduct their affairs, she was sure she must have recognized the signs. She should have been able to talk sense into Christine before the terror and… fascination? Was that it? Alright, before the fascination the Phantom inspired had taken hold completely.
It was too late for 'what ifs' though, and all Meg could do was atone for her mistakes. She turned on the spot, giving the cavern a glance-over, looking for anything that would seem out of place.
The only thing that really caught her eyes was the row of mirrors along the wall. Every one of them was shattered, and a few of them were smashed so badly they had fallen wholly from their frames, leaving a spill of silvered glass across the stone below. Meg approached the mirrors and gently touched the spiderweb of cracks shooting through the surface of one of them. Broken mirrors...
She sighed. Everything about this place spoke of sadness and loneliness and cold. Who would live in a place like this? Well, a phantom, she supposed, but she knew that this Phantom was no such thing. She had seen him, more than once, and long before anyone else. People spoke of the New Years' masquerade in hushed tones, whispering about the figure in scarlet who menaced the crowd and disappeared in a puff of smoke, and of the voice that had poured down from the dome the night they had performed il Muto. Meg chose, instead, to think of the times when she would see a flash of a shadow out of the corner of her eye, or catch sight of that mask almost glowing in the dark in the flies.
She had grown up with him. All her life, he had been there, lurking in the shadows, playing little pranks, and she had been amused. The other girls had been terrified (mostly, she suspected, due to the fear-mongering of the late, detestable Josef Buquet), but Meg had never had it in her to be afraid of the enigmatic O.G. She supposed it had something to do with being her mother's daughter. Perhaps she had inherited Antoinette Giry's talent for being absolutely unflappable. Or perhaps it was just that until recently, the Phantom's antics had been mostly harmless.
The brush of wind across her cheek suddenly registered, cutting through her musings. She had been feeling it for some time- from the minute she first stood in front of the line of broken mirrors, in fact- but only now did she realize what it meant. Breezes had to come from somewhere, after all. The only question was… where? If it were a draft created by the burning opera house above, it would have been warm. A cold breeze meant air from the outside.
The tassels on the velvet curtain just beside her were swaying, ever so slightly. Meg let a bitter smirk twist at her lips. "Found you," she murmured.
Hesitantly, she pushed the curtain aside, and found that she was right. Behind the drape, there was a passage, pitch-black and full of the noise of dripping water. Apprehension suddenly filled her. She was helpless in the dark. Meg wished very fervently that she had thought to take one of the swords from the prop store before stampeding down here on her fool's quest to rescue Christine. A blunt blade of cheap metal was a better defense than nothing at all.
A candle would have to suffice, she supposed. She lifted one of the ornate candelabras from its sconce on the wall and thrust it out before her. Then, swallowing heavily against the roll of fear in her gut, Meg stepped forward into the dark.