Fandom: Phantom of the Opera
Disclaimer: Please don't sue. I don't own *insert fandom name from above*... All I own is an overactive imagination.
Summary: Let's Rewrite Our History Assumption #4: war-scarred!Raoul. Yes, this is quite the tease.
Warning(s): pre-slash, hmm… too short to become slash. It's just E+R interaction (it would've eventually have become slash though)
Pairing(s): Erik/Raoul
Word Count: 2,099
Series: Let's Rewrite Our History (The series where anything is fair game, huge assumptions are made, and you simply have to accept them as fact.)

A/N: I really am evil, aren't I? I think this whole Let's Rewrite series is just to torture you guys with the plotbunnies that perpetually torture me. I'm almost certain of that fact now after this one. (The next one's pretty bad as well in terms of fics that need to exist.)
Story note: Not a full story, but at least a glimpse of what this plotbunny might've looked like.

o.o.o.o

Eyes Need Not See
By: Lucifer Rosemaunt

o.o.o.o

The story was already known throughout the entire opera house, if not the whole of Paris. The Comte de Chagny had managed to cajole his recluse of a younger brother into becoming the patron of the Opera Populaire. His hard work had been a herculean effort in coaxing the viscount out of the bedridden state in which he had been after his long-awaited return from the naval hospital in Clamart.

The rumour had started two months prior, and it was in the on-again off-again way that all rumours originating from the ballet corps were that the occupants had believed it. It had quickly become lost amongst talks of who was having an illicit relationship with whom, Buquet's accounts of the opera ghost, and whispers of LeFevre's departure.

No more than a week ago, rumour had become fact when confirmation came directly from the newly introduced managers themselves, and the Vicomte de Chagny was once again the topic of every conversation.

As Erik traversed the passageways near the stage, hiding in the numerous dark corners afforded him, he was beginning to think that everyone had also seen the viscount before even he had. Of course, he had been more focused on Christine and preparing her for her debut performance, which was several hours away now, to have wasted any amount of time on this new annoyance.

In the past week, there had been opportunities to see the viscount even though tonight was the first time he had stepped foot into the opera house itself. Erik had simply refused to tarry outside the opera house just for a glance of the young man as he waited in the carriage for his brother's return from signing the contract of his patronage. Nor would he have snuck out of the theatre to follow the managers to a nearby café when they had gone to be properly introduced to the viscount and his valet.

It appeared that Erik had been the only one who hadn't given into the urge to see the oft-gossiped about man. He lingered by the stage, comforted by the familiar bustle of the stagehands as they prepared for the premier of Hannibal. The ballet corps was once again gossiping amongst themselves, and despite himself, he listened to their conversation.

"He looked so dignified in his uniform."

The viscount had joined the navy the first opportunity he'd been given in some misguided belief that he could protect his country. Erik was of the opinion that he had probably been searching for death. The gossip was that the deaths of his parents had quite the influence on him, but the count had downright refused his enlistment. It had only been at the urging of an aunt that his resolve had finally been worn down and he had given his consent to such an action.

"Naval life is so dangerous."

The young viscount spent two years in the service before anything truly noteworthy occurred, but when it did occur, it was more than simply noteworthy. It was life-changing. The reports of the incident had not been disclosed to anyone not in the service, barring the count, and to everyone's surprise, no one had leaked the slightest bit of information on what had occurred, even those who had witnessed the event itself. Nothing more than speculation could be said in regards to what had been dubbed an 'accident,' but very few believed that it had been a simple accident.

Perhaps the records had been obfuscated to protect the country from panic at the idea of yet another war.

"I wonder if they were attacked by pirates."

Perhaps they had been obfuscated to protect the inadequacies of a viscount who had been playing at war, who had been playing with death. The only thing they could really do was guess, but Erik could not help but wonder just how deep into the coffers the Chagny family had dug in order to silence so many men.

"He has such confidence despite having to be led by his valet."

The young man had arrived at a hospital in Clamart six months ago, only after the ship's surgeon had taken knife to him in order to save his life. There, he had remained for several months, recovering and refusing any and all visitors. But, it's been said that very little can keep Philippe de Chagny from what remained of his family and once word had come that there was no medical reason that the viscount could not receive any visitors, he had rather suspiciously disappeared from Paris for half a month. It was soon after his return from the unannounced departure that the rumour of a new patron, namely that of the Vicomte de Chagny, began circulating. It had taken another unexplained disappearance from the count and another month before the count had convinced his brother to make the journey to Paris. But the prodigal brother had finally returned to Paris to stay with the count indefinitely, and word was, the worse for wear by his experiences at sea.

"It is good he arrived early or else he would have been trampled by the crowd. That's for certain."

There had been little else the viscount could have done at that hospital that he could not do at home under his brother's watchful eye. He had more than amply recovered from the shock and stress of the initial injury. Time had dulled the feel of freshly torn skin, the smell of burnt flesh, and the sight of blood tinted skies. His recovery was far from over though, for recovery included a return to day-to-day living, an action that the viscount purportedly avoided at every opportunity. He was more than willing to allow himself to waste away.

No, recovery was slow going. Either way, the boy was now useless to the navy, useless to everyone but his brother and, it would seem, the opera house.

"I heard that he refuses to wear bandages to cover it."

Erik was beginning to think he was useless to the opera house as well if he was this much of a disturbance. The ballet corps should be preparing for the opera, focusing so as not to hinder Christine's performance, not gossiping about the patron.

Having heard enough of their nonsense already, he walked away, intent on finding Christine. He hesitated though as he heard the response to the last statement, "I heard that he has to let it breathe lest it become infected and spread."

As expected, the other girls eww'd in chorus. It was this that Madame Giry heard. The telltale thud of her cane precluded her censure and the girls quieted almost immediately. Still, Erik remained where he was, lost in thought. It wasn't as though he didn't know about what they were talking. The it in their conversation was no mystery to him or anyone else really. It was the viscount's most defining characteristic after all.

He knew that Madame Giry had turned her back to them when he heard one of the girls whisper, "I heard the managers say he has paid off all the seats in Box 4 for the entire season."

He did not wait to hear the impending thud of the cane before he continued his journey to Christine's new dressing room.

From what he had heard, Erik already hated the new patron because despite all the contention when it came to the incident itself, when it came to the extent of injury and the cause of it, they all seemed to agree on one – no, two things. One, the Vicomte Raoul de Chagny was a hero. Two, the one absolute truth of the viscount's injury that remained uncontested, shrapnel and fire.

He veered off course, changing directions to follow the tunnel that would lead him to Box 4. He momentarily bemoaned the fact that there was no convenient entrance to the box as with Box 5 when he saw a servant standing guard at the only entrance. Erik scoffed; it was not the only entrance for the opera ghost.

Slipping in unseen into Box 6, he glanced around to ensure that he was alone. Not all of the candles had been lit; it would be another hour before they began doing so. The chandelier did well to illuminate the empty seats below, but did little more than cast into severe shadow the lone figure seated ramrod-straight and slightly hidden by the curtain in Box 4. Head held up high, he remained too far into the box to be able to truly see the stage and facing slightly stage-right. His blond hair was tied neatly with a ribbon and his hands gripped the cane resting on his lap.

Erik was not certain he had ever seen anyone sit so still, especially one so young. Given that incentive, he decided a closer look was in order. It was time that the new patron met the real owner of the opera house. He pressed against the wall; the stretch and slight leap into Box 4 was simple enough for him. And, as certain as he was of his silent landing, the viscount made him doubt himself when the young man turned his head slightly towards him. It was nothing more than a slight twitch, an acknowledgement of his presence.

Raoul sighed, shoulders dropping for just a moment. In a silent voice, he said, "I should never have let Philippe convince me to do this."

Erik took a step back into the safety of the shadows as he glanced towards the entrance of the box. There was no movement though since the young man had spoken so quietly. Still, Erik did not speak just yet. It could have been simple coincidence that the viscount had spoken just as he had entered the box.

"Henri?" the young man asked, his head turning slightly.

At the continued silence though, he stood up abruptly, turning towards Erik with startling accuracy in the darkness, and against all impulses of self-preservation that told him to attack or hide, he simply leaned forward to see the viscount clearer. The young man's eyes were open and despite the milky film indicative of the loss of his eyesight, Erik could see faded blue irises darting back and forth. He was reminded just how recent this injury had to be for that particular instinct not to have faded just yet. The viscount closed his eyes soon enough though and held entirely still. His lips were pressed tightly together and his brow furrowed, causing the scars to bunch into uneven ridges. Erik took a small step forward, and the responding scowl from the viscount was rather expected by this point.

Shrapnel and fire. Erik had to agree. The scarring on the viscount's face went clear across his face, concentrated mostly over his eyes although the left side of his face and neck were littered with their own fair share of redness and bumps. The shrapnel had hit his face; whatever had burned him – and Erik had the distinct impression that it had been canonfire or gunfire – had caused the damage to his neck and what seemed, his shoulder as well.

It looked as though they'd taken a knife to his face, digging for the metal scraps and woodchips that must have flown at him. And wasn't that a wonder? The viscount had been disfigured to save his life; Erik had always believed his disfigurement had been the end of his.

"If you've come to stare at the invalid," the viscount sneered and Erik was grudgingly impressed by the certainty in his voice. The blond not only knew without a doubt that he was here, but also where he was. "Do so and leave." He took a step forward and rather agilely moved around the seat. The bottom of the cane hit the floor with a finality that faintly reminded Erik of Madame Giry.

Raoul stood, head held high and eyes staring unseeingly straight at Erik. Erik had to admit that he was quite the sight to see in his naval best; it looked more suitable on the viscount than he had thought possible. Not quite understanding why, Erik smirked and stepped closer so that they stood face to face.

"No, Monsieur," Erik replied, "You are no sideshow to be seen."

The resulting confusion was easy to read on his face, but Erik did not wait to hear what Raoul might have said next. There was still an opera to oversee, and he wanted their next conversation to be unhindered by the valet that was just about to enter the box.

o.o.o.o

End ficlet

A/N: Don't forget to R/R (Read and Review)!
Fic Review: Yes, it's blind!Raoul. XD Can you believe I don't even have to try to be this evil? What's really evil is that you guys have been sicking plotbunnies on me. :(

Note: I don't know how the box seats are in the opera house nor do I know how far the boxes are from each other. I always figured the evens were on one side and the odds were on the other. So the nearest box seat to Box 4 would have to necessarily be either 6 or 2. Excuse me if I'm mistaken about the layout of the building. I always have a tendency to picture the stage version when I write and we know that's not very revealing as to how the rest of the building is. :(

Happy Valentine's Day. Also, Happy belated Birthday to The Crazed Artist.