Title- The Phoenix
Pairings- Erik/Meg, Christine/Raoul
Rating- T for self-harm and some pretty rough language
Summary- What if Meg's break with reality took a different path? Erik finds himself torn between his love for Christine, and his confused feelings toward Meg, while Christine has quite a lot to say on the subject. And what is to become of little Gustave?

A/N- Let me begin by saying I have a love/hate relationship with Love Never Dies. As in, I love the music, and I hate the OOCness. But there were some elements of the plot that I found really intriguing, and out of that, this was born. Also, just FYI, I'm using the 2004 film version of POTO for my baseline for what led up to the events of LND, complete with Meg's continual encounters with Erik's mirrors.


Prologue

"Where, poor girl, do you think that he was? Yes, that's right, in with her all along! Dreaming of their son, their love, too smitten to spare you one moment of thought..."

The words chased around and around inside her head, making her feel dizzy and ill. The tears that poured from her eyes were hot, but before they dripped, unchecked, from her chin they were cold, leaving her as chilled as she felt. After all these years, after everything they had shared, she was cast aside like the gutter trash she supposed she must be. She was nothing to him just as she was nothing to all the rest. How had she become this, just a body that danced to titillate the masses and a toy to be sold to anyone whose favor needed currying? When had Meg Giry, in her pangs of innocent first love, metamorphosed into the Ooh La La Girl with the painted scarlet smile?

Her silent, frozen tears shuddered into painful, wracking sobs and she lurched to her feet in a flurry of violet silk. In a desperate attempt to alleviate her inner turmoil, she hurled her little pot of rouge across the room, but no satisfaction came from the smash against the wall. Her comb, her bottles of perfume and all her fine, useless nonsense quickly followed, but their was no relief from the twisting in her heart. In a hysterical outburst, she lifted the stool from before her dressing table and threw it as far as she was able, but with no effect.

Chest heaving with emotion, she whirled and stared into the eyes of her reflection in the mirror.

Her blonde curls were the artifice of the hot iron, a pathetic imitation of Christine's gorgeous locks. Her tears had smudged the kohl she had rimmed her eyes with, sending rivers of black down her cheeks. Her blue eyes, which once used to sparkle like the sky at dawn, the only thing she possessed that was finer than Christine's, looked flat and lifeless liked dolls eyes. The only color she had left was that which she had smeared on with a brush. Meg Giry had disappeared into the dark. The mask she painted on each day was all that was left.

Disgust filled her. The girl she used to be was gone, and a soulless tart had taken her place. She felt more hideous now than anyone had ever thought him to be (not her, she had never thought him anything but handsome since that first night far beneath the smouldering wreck of the opera house). She reached for one leg of the stool, which had broken off when she had smashed it against the far wall. She swung the wooden post wildly into the silver surface of the mirror, hoping to destroy the empty face she couldn't believe belonged to her. The mirror exploded in a shower of glass, which spilled across the surface of the dressing table and the flouncy skirts she wore.

She dropped to her knees in the carpet of glass shards, looking to see if they would show her Meg Giry again now that they were as shattered as the inside of her head felt. Only the Ooh La La Girl looked back at her, face twisted in a parody of a smile.

Briefly, the idea of vengeance on the ones who had destroyed her flitted across her mind, but it just seemed like too much effort. She did not want to leave this place. She just wanted to sleep. If she had been able to gain her feet, perhaps she would have gone to the pier one last time. It would have been a bitter irony. It also required her to walk, and she just did not have the energy.

Her hands, with those scarlet-lacquered nails she had hated so much once upon a time but which had now become almost second nature to paint on, shook as she lifted one jagged shard of the broken mirror, an idea drifting hazily through her mind. Slowly, she nodded, and a spurt of hysterical giggles rose up in her throat.

Then she got to her feet, moving like a sleepwalker, and found a piece of paper. In her neat handwriting (maybe the only thing about her that was still proper and tidy) she put down five words; she folded the paper and wrote on the outside the name of her tormentor in that same innocent-looking script. A hideous grin crossed her face as she slipped it into the frame that once contained her mirror, held in place by one last fragment of glass that remained in the frame so they would all be sure to see it. This had all begun with a broken mirror, so many years ago, and it was fitting that it would end with one. She had been a dead woman walking from the moment she had stepped through his shattered mirrors and found him. It was only just catching up to her now.

She sank back to the ground and arranged her skirt around her, then lifted the shard of glass. For the longest moment she hesitated, staring at her eyes in the reflection, waiting just a bit more in the hopes that her real face would look back at her once more, but it was a vain hope. She lowered the sharp edge to the delicate skin of her wrist, and with a smile still on her face, she dug down...