Title- Change of Key
Characters/Pairings- Erik/Meg, Christine/Raoul, everybody else puts in their necessary appearances
Rating- K+ for now, might go up to T later
Summary- What if Christine had never come to the Opera Populaire? What if Erik bestowed his gift of music on Meg, instead? The tale of the Phantom, retold… E/M, 2004 film.

A/N- Because I'm sure many of you won't want to read my current E/M WIP because it's an LND story and opinions on Love Never Dies are mixed at best, I decided to give those of you who follow my Phantom stories a little teaser. Allow me to make it plain that I will not be posting the rest of this until the entire story is complete, but I thought it might be nice to give you all a taste of what's to come, since I've been promising you this story for weeks now. (Just for the record, I'm most of the way through the first act, and I expect the second act to fly by pretty quickly once I get there, so it shouldn't be too long.)

April 2, 1860, Paris

The chapel in the lower levels of the Opera Populaire's dormitory wing was rarely occupied. Show-folk are busy people, and the only prayers they have time to say are whispered under their breath in the moments before the curtain rises each night. Nevertheless, there was someone in the chapel on that particular night.

A little girl, at most seven years of age, knelt before the array of candles placed there in memory of the dead. Her hands were folded, and her golden head was bowed. She wore practice garb of the youngest members of the Opera Populaire's ballet troupe, and on her feet were the smallest pair of pink ballet slippers.

"Please say hello to Julien for me, and tell him that I miss him terribly," she said softly. "And please watch over Papa, Jesus. Maman says he is very sad, and I think he needs someone to care for him. Thank you, amen." She fumblingly made the sign of the cross with her tiny hands, then softly began to sing an old hymn her mother had taught her.

"Jesu, dúlcis memória,
Dans véra córdis gáudia:
Sed super mel et ómnia
Ejus dúlcis præséntia."

The Latin felt strange in her mouth, and she couldn't remember any more of the words anyway, so she just sang nonsense after the first verse. However, her clear little voice had already reached other ears.

In the shadows behind a false wall, a young man paused in his travels through the opera house, to watch her as she prayed and listen as she sang. For many years now, he had been searching for the perfect voice to perform the music he wrote, but all in vain. This girl was not quite the voice he was looking for, either, but her tone was sweet even for a child's voice and he could imagine what she might sound like if only someone would take the time to teach her. He could hear it in his mind, a voice like a crystal bell ringing out in the halls of the greatest opera houses in the world… Not the voice for his music (he was beginning to fear that such a voice did not exist), but there was so much potential, potential that he knew would be wasted. He knew who the girl was: the young daughter of his former friend. She was destined for the life of a ballerina, a chorus girl who at the very best would be tossed bit parts if she were lucky and dedicated. No one would ever take the time to teach her, to give any kind of shape to that sweet voice. How could he let all that potential be lost?

"Open your mouth more," he whispered through the cracks in the stonework.

The fair head came up, and she looked around with huge amber eyes. "Hello?" she whispered. "Who are you?"

Who was he, indeed? How best to answer her? He thought of the fresco on the other side of the wall he hid behind, the archangel Raphael bestowing his benevolence, and inspiration came. "I am the angel of music," he said.

She cocked her head to one side, looking almost right at him. "I don't believe you. Maman said angels don't speak to us, they only watch," she said, obviously thinking hard.

"Perhaps your mother is wrong," he said, amused. That did sound like something Antoinette would say.

She shook her head, little blonde curls bouncing. "My Maman is never wrong," she informed him. Suddenly, she seemed to think of something. "Are you the one everyone is talking about? The Opera Ghost?"

"I suppose I am," he said, amused. Impressed by her deduction, he let a little smile slip onto his face. Yes, she had certainly inherited her mother's mind! "But I am also the angel of music, and I am here to teach you to sing."

For the first time since he had spoken, her expression broke into a smile. "You mean the way Mademoiselle Emelie does?" she asked, naming the charming Finnish soprano who was the latest diva at the Opera Populaire.

"If you wish," he said, and the little girl clapped her hands excitedly. "But it will take a long time, and it will be very hard work," he cautioned her.

She nodded. "I'm a very hard worker," she said eagerly.

Yes, he suspected she would be, with a mother like hers. She couldn't possibly be anything but dedicated! "Very well then," he said. "Let us begin. Stand up straight…"