Title- Her Winged Defender
Raoul/Christine and Meg being her awesome self
Christine has a man in her life and Meg couldn't be happier, but first she has a few things to say to the handsome Vicomte de Chagny...

A/N- In case you're wondering, this is 2004-based and takes place somewhere in the middle of Prima Donna.

Raoul de Chagny strode purposefully through the warren that comprised the backstage area of l'Opera Populaire. Christine had refused to see him, but had sent him a note, via Mme. Giry, to reassure him that she intended no slight to him- she was just feeling tired and felt she needed to rest in preparation for that evening's performance. He was put out at not being able to see her, but he supposed he understood that, at least. There would be time for proper courting... at least as long as this mysterious O.G. who seemed determined to meddle in her career left well enough alone, and Raoul intended to see to it that he did.

Suddenly, he found himself accosted by a tiny blonde chorus girl who stepped into his path seemingly out of nowhere. "Excuse me," he began, and attempted to move around her, but she blocked his way once more.

"Monsieur," she said seriously, "My name is Meg Giry. I'm a good friend of Christine's... I was hoping to speak with you for a moment, if you would?"

He had been set to brush the girl off, but at Christine's name, he stilled. His appointment with Messieurs Andre and Firmin would keep, he supposed. They were a bit busy fawning over their diva to worry about his punctuality. "Alright," he said.

Meg glanced around. "Not here. It's a bit of a delicate matter..." She pushed open a door he hadn't even seen just to her right and slipped into a dimly lit corridor. He followed with a hint of trepidation. What on earth did this strange, forward girl want with him?

Once the door was safely shut behind him, little Giry turned to face him. "What are your intentions towards Christine?" she asked bluntly.

"What?" he asked, flabbergasted. That was not what he had been expecting.

She sighed, looking down at her satin-clad feet for a moment, before squaring her shoulders and looking up to meet his gaze. Her blue eyes were embarrassed, but resolute. "Forgive me for speaking so baldly, Monsieur, but what I have to say is of great importance, if for no other reason than my own peace of mind. It is not uncommon for a wealthy patron of the arts to take a fancy to a performer. I know only too well that it is easy for a chorus girl or a ballerina to be seduced into becoming someone's mistress, until that someone tires of them or decides to settle down with a proper wife." She blushed, and for a moment Raoul wondered if she herself had been the subject of such attentions, but quickly rejected the notion. He hardly knew this girl, but she practically radiated innocence. "I am concerned, for Christine's sake, that you may be only toying with her," Meg continued.

"What?" he exclaimed again, now feeling rather offended. To be fair, he supposed he had been considering just such a thing when he had first come to Christine in her dressing room. After all, his own father had kept a mistress from the theatre for some time when Raoul was a child, an Antoinette somebody. The affair had ended when his mother discovered Philipe with the dancer, but Raoul had not seen much fault with it at the time. It had seemed only natural that he follow in his father's footsteps, and the stunning woman he had known when he was young seemed an ideal candidate. The moment he had held her in his arms, though, he had rejected the idea. Not Christine. She was too... pure. Despite her background, she was a woman for marrying, not a dalliance, and the very idea now repulsed him.

"Of... of course I don't intend-! That you could even think I would-!" He struggled for words to express his outrage at her suggestion. "I care very deeply for Mlle. Daae," he finally asserted. "I assure you, Mlle. Giry, my intentions are quite honorable."

Immediately, Meg's face relaxed. She still looked embarrassed, but she seemed less defensive. "My apologies, Monsieur," she said sincerely. "It's just, ever since Christine first came to live in the ballet dormitories after her father passed away, I have been like her elder sister." Her tone was fierce as she continued. "I protect her, and I will not see her hurt. "Christine is... delicate. Especially now."

Intrigued, Raoul asked, "Why especially now?"

Meg's warm nut-brown eyes darted around the hallway again. "Something is happening to her," she said tersely. "I think... I think it's the Phantom, Monsieur. I don't know how, but I think he's the one who taught her to sing. Who else? Her Angel of Music is just a fabrication. Who but the Phantom would manipulate her like that?"

"There is no Phantom of the Opera!" he said dismissively, even as he felt a chill in his gut at her words. Christine had behaved oddly when he'd spoken to her...

"Oh yes there is," Meg assured him.

Raoul shook his head. "That's just superstitious nonsense!" he protested.

"You acknowledge, though, that someone has to be sending the O.G. letters?" Meg pointed out. Raoul acknowledged inwardly that she presented an eloquent argument in that regard, and inclined his head. "Well, whomever he is, he has some kind of hold on Christine. I can't explain it, but she's been so strange recently. You must have seen it last night. It's as though she's lost inside her own head. She is not so strong of mind, and if this Phantom is as manipulative as my mother warns me, it would be so easy for him to lure her into something very dangerous. I'm terribly frightened for her." Meg's eyes took on a pensive look, her concern obvious.

"She must be protected," Raoul said decisively. Whether he believed all this Phantom nonsense, little Giry certainly had a point. Someone certainly had taken an interest in the beautiful soprano.

Meg nodded. "Yes, Christine must be protected. I will do as I have always done. I will watch over her, and do whatever I have to in order to defend her. Can I expect the same of you, Vicomte?"

Raoul looked at her then with fresh eyes. Standing there in her practice dress with ribbons in her hair, she did not cut a terribly impressive figure, but the steadfast determination in her eyes, the sturdy set of her shoulders, and the conviction with which she spoke transformed her. She was the very picture of triumphant Michael, in the form of one small ballerina. Christine might not have an Angel of Music, but Raoul thought in that moment that she surely had been blessed with a guardian angel nonetheless.

"You have my word, Mademoiselle, that I will protect Christine even to the death," he said. He would not be outdone by the unexpected courage of a girl who couldn't possibly be more than eighteen.

"As will I," she said. Then she smiled. "Very well then, Monsieur. We will be Christine's defenders."

"I just pray that our caution isn't necessary," he replied.

She nodded.

He bowed formally. "Thank you, Mademoiselle Giry, for bringing your concerns to my attention. I'm afraid I must take my leave of you, as I have an appointment with the managers and I'm overdue already."

"I'm sorry to have delayed you," Meg said in a tone of voice that was as polite and impersonal as his courteous obeisance had been. Now that their mutual business had been addressed, they were receding back behind the masks of virtual strangers. It struck him as odd that he should have such a remarkable conversation with such an unusual girl, and then simply go about his day. He nearly laughed, but restrained himself.

As he walked out the door and back into the main corridor, he caught a glimpse of Meg's face. She was smiling, but he could see the worry in her eyes. He got the sense that something very dangerous was coming, and he hoped he would be strong enough to help Christine should she need him.

Of Meg's courage, he strangely had no doubts.

A/N part deux- Yes, in case you missed it, I did just imply that Meg is the bastard progeny of an affair between Mme. Giry and Raoul's father. This is part of my personal POTO canon, and when it came to dealing with this particular subject, I realized that I couldn't talk about that and not slip it in there somewhere.