Title- Angel of Something Else Entirely
Characters/Pairings- Onesided E/C, E/M, the whole gang's putting in an appearance, even Carlotta!
Summary- Ten yards can change everything. Just one person is standing in a different place during the masquerade and in a split second, she takes action. How will Erik react to an angel falling into the trap meant for his rival? Can his tragic fate be altered?
Disclaimer- I don't own POTO, and I DEFINITELY don't own anything you recognize belonging to the dear Edgar Allan Poe.
A/N- Two points. One, to those of you following my fic Danse Macabre, never fear, there is more to come on that end. I'm just a bit stuck ATM and I just couldn't ignore this plot bunny nipping at my ankles. Two, I often refer to Meg in my head as the Angel of Something Else Entirely. After all, she's not a musician, so no Angel of Music here (though you will notice that someone thought her good enough to give her a singing role in a small ensemble in il Muto, so she's obviously got pipes), but of all the people referred to as an angel, she's the only one who actually seems to deserve the name, so... yeah, that's how the title of this fic came about. Enjoy my rambling? Good, now go read more of it...
The masquerade was supposed to be wonderful, Meg thought a little bitterly. For almost a month now, the gossip in the ballet dormitories had centered on virtually nothing else. She herself had spent hours working out a costume, the perfect costume. She supposed it had been Christine who originally planted the idea in her mind; all the talk about the Angel of Music, despite the darker concerns clouding the idea, had somehow stuck with her, so an angel she was. Her dress was simply perfect, stunning white silk set about with silver trimmings and little white jewels. She had spent a month's wages on it. The wings she had made herself, after begging Madame Devereaux, the costume mistress, to give her the feathers she needed. She looked, in her opinion, better than she ever had before in her life and she was... a wallflower. Again.
Meg would have been lying if she'd said she hadn't cherished thoughts of some handsome stranger sweeping her off her feet tonight. All her friends, Christine most notably, seemed to be finding men left and right. Didn't that make it her turn? Not so. As usual, her girlish daydreams far outstripped reality, and she was left standing on the stairs next to Carlotta, listening to the Italian diva natter away about god knows what at Piangi.
It would have been easy, she supposed, to blame it on her mother. No decent young man would want to risk the protective wrath of the severe ballet mistress when there were dozens of unattached ladies in the room, right? But that wasn't fair, and Meg knew it. She was just, as usual, invisible.
She glanced down at the couples engaged in a lively waltz on the floor below, spotting Christine whirling in the arms of her sweetheart. Her friend had confided in her just that morning that the two were engaged- in secret, she stressed. It had to be secret. Meg suspected that that had everything to do with the Phantom, who seemed to have vanished since that deadly production of il Muto. (Frankly, Meg was a little unnerved by the lack of threatening letters and amusing pranks- for much of her life, the Opera Ghost had been just another part of the opera, and life didn't seem right without his occasional presence.) Despite the odd circumstances and secrecy, though, Meg was happy for her friend. Now, if only some charming gentleman would take even a passing interest in her...
Meg did not have the opportunity, however, to discover if her solitude was permanent that night. At that exact moment, an eerie hush fell across the previously jubilant crowd. The orchestra ground to an unceremonious halt, and Monsieur Reyer dropped his baton. Meg turned to look where everyone else was staring and suddenly found it impossible to breathe. There, at the top of the stairs, stood a new figure: an immensely tall, slim man with broad shoulders who carried himself like a king and caused even the room itself to seem fixated on the spot where he stood. His costume was well-chosen to cause a stir, the scarlet cape and the mask like a skull, the American Poe's horror story coming to life before their eyes.
"His vesture was dabbled in blood - and his broad brow, with all the features of the face, was besprinkled with the scarlet horror," Meg whispered to herself, recalling the tale that she had memorized once upon a time to try and impress the other girls. The Red Death... it was a shocking costume, to be sure, and she knew there was only one who would dare. The Phantom was come among them again.
He descended the stairs with measured steps that still managed to be confident and easy. "Why so silent, good Messieurs?" he asked. "Did you think that I had left you for good?"
"No," she whispered.
"Have you missed me, good Messieurs? I have written you an opera." His voice was pitched to echo perfectly against the polished marble, and though he did not speak loudly, he could be clearly heard in every corner of the great room. Now he had nearly reached the bottom of the first flight of stairs, not even fifteen feet away from her, and Meg had chills.
"Here I bring the finished score: Don Juan Triumphant!" He drew his rapier with a flourish. "Fondest greetings to you all. I've a few instructions just before rehearsal starts." He whirled, abruptly changing the course of his hitherto steady advance, and suddenly he was standing right... in front... of her...!
"Carlotta must be taught to act, not her normal trick of strutting 'round the stage," the Phantom who was no such thing said snidely, twiddling his sword in her elaborate hairpiece, and Meg wasn't sure whether the action or the words outraged the diva more. Had she not been as deep under his spell as everyone else, she might have laughed at the look on Carlotta's face. Her lover stepped forward, presumably to defend her, but the point of the Phantom's sword poking his broad belly brought any pitiful attempt at chivalry to a screeching halt. "Our Don Juan must lose some weight," he taunted. "It's not healthy in a man of Piangi's age." He gave the shorter man an unreadable stare, then turned away once more.
Meg might as well not have existed. For all that she was standing inches from Carlotta's bony elbow, his gaze didn't even touch her. The frustrations of the night were compounded, and she flushed with anger at once again being utterly ignored by everyone.
But the Phantom was speaking again, and his silky voice drove every thought out of her head as much as it did everyone else's. There was no room for any thought but those he planted as long as he was in the room, mesmerizing them all, and Meg was no exception to his spell. "My managers must learn that their place is in an office, not the arts. And as for our star, Miss Christine Daae..."
He sheathed his sword and turned to look down at the blushing rose at the base of the stairs, apparently abandoned by her lover, and Meg could see his face clearly. That was not the same taunting look he had given the rest of the crowd. There was anger there, and bitterness, but there was something else, too. It was a look of... adoration?
"No doubt she'll do her best, it's true her voice is good. She knows, though, should she wish to excel she has much still to learn, if pride will let her return to me, her teacher. Her teacher..." His voice was soft.
Oh. Oh. So that was it, then. Oh Christine, whatever have you gotten yourself into? Meg thought despairingly.
Silently the pair approached each other, Christine ever so slowly ascending the steps as he walked down to meet her. Her lovely friend's face looked entranced, like she was hardly even in control of her own feet as she stared, open-mouthed, at the Phantom in scarlet. He, too, looked as though he might be under a spell, and that was a look Meg was familiar with. She had seen it on the faces of many men who gazed longingly at Christine. It was a look that had never been directed at her.
All too suddenly, though, his awestruck gaze dropped downward to settle on the huge diamond ring symbolizing Christine's engagement which she wore around her neck, and the devoted look morphed immediately into a twisted snarl of rage. "Your chains are still mine!" he shouted, ripping the ring from her throat. "You belong to me!"
He whirled, swirling that impressive cape behind him, and came back up to stand within feet of Meg again. The great seal on the floor opened as if by magic, and a puff of fire obscured the Phantom momentarily as he dropped out of sight.
Meg wasn't aware of her actions until after the fact. All she would recall later was a voice in her head hissing determinedly, oh no you don't! and spotting a flash of the Vicomte hurtling down the stairs out of the corner of her eye. The next thing she knew, she had picked up her skirts and taken those few steps and then she was the one dropping out of sight beneath the floor, which slammed closed above her.
Immediately she regretted it. Like an idiot, like Christine, she had gone and dived in without looking first! She landed awkwardly, tumbling to her knees on the stone floor. When she picked herself up, she found herself stuck in a world of mirrors, seeing her own features reflected back at her a thousand times, and then the mirrors shifted, turning reality into a confusing dance of colors and distorted shapes that made her feel positively ill. But there- a flash of red! She lunged for it, and found herself face-to-face with her own reflection. Just a mirror. She whirled, trying to find an escape, but suddenly a gloved hand caught at hers and she let out a little shriek of surprise. She was dragged forcibly out of the mirror-room and into dank, cobweb-filled darkness.
"You should not have come down here, Little Giry," the voice belonging to the hand said, sounding none too pleased.
"You should not have come to the masquerade, Monsieur le Fantôme," she said, attempting to wrench her hand back with no success. She would maintain her composure! She was not a child, to fall apart when she found herself in a mess she wasn't entirely sure how to get back out of. Well, maybe falling apart a little was okay... No! She wouldn't let the fear own her. If she could have the courage to do something incredibly foolish, she could find the courage to fix the problem she'd created.
He turned to face her, and she could almost make out the skull mask in the faintest imaginable light that filled the tunnel where they stood. "Oh?" he said, sounding amused. "And why not?"
She struggled for a reason that wouldn't sound silly. "Well... well... Because you weren't invited!" she pointed out.
At that, he let out an utterly humorless bark that might have passed for laughter. "I am rarely invited, Little Giry, but it has never stopped me before." His fingers closed even more tightly around her tiny hand, and she found herself being dragged deeper into the darkness. She tried to struggle against him, but he was every bit as strong as his powerful build suggested and it was a hopeless cause. After a minute of futile tugging, she gave up the endeavor, finding it in her best interests, and those of her slim ballerina's ankles, to follow him. He obviously knew where he was going, where she did not, and the floor was rough. It seemed, she thought ironically, that she had ended up being swept off her feet at the ball after all, but certainly not in the manner she had intended!
After a time, Meg decided she had had quite enough of being towed along in the dark with no idea of where she was going. "Where, if I may ask, are you taking me?" she asked icily.
"I cannot very well let you go, can I?" he said. "You will come with me."
"That does not answer my question, Monsieur," she said, tone even frostier than before.
He let out a soft noise of exasperation. "Very well," he said, sounding annoyed in the extreme, which Meg took to be a very bad sign for her continued safety, tenuous as that already was. "I'm taking you down to the lake."
Meg decided she did not like the sound of that at all.
A/N- I don't anticipate this being a particularly long fic. Eight chapters at the absolute most, unless I have wildly underestimated the amount of story I have to tell here (which is possible; I do that sometimes, but I wouldn't call it probable). Reviews are appreciated, encouraged, and responded to!