I don't own Phantom of the Opera.
My eyes snap open as if I'm awakening from a bad dream. But where could I be? This couch I'm lying on doesn't seem familiar, nor do the walls… Then it suddenly comes flooding back. The Persian. The Lake. The house. My father's confession…
"Dad?" I call out in the half-darkness. Maybe there's a chance that was part of a nightmare, somehow.
"I'm here, Charles," he says from a chair near my head. He takes my hand as I sit up. "I'm here. Are you alright?"
"Dad, what you said…is it true?"
He closes his eyes and takes on the appearance of someone fighting with their inner demons for just a moment before he replies. "Yes."
I take my hand from his and walk to the bench of the magnificent organ adorning an entire wall. I touch the ivory keys lightly, trying to make sense of my dad- no… yes… I don't know! He's my dad… yet he's not. "The man who lived here, Erik, was it? He- he's my…?" I don't even want to voice it. I can't even look at him. It can't be true…
Behind me, I hear the quiet rustle of cloth as he stands and walks over to me. From the corner of my eye, I see his hand reach into his pocket and withdraw a small, black, oval frame. He hands it to me and says, "Let this be your answer. It was mine."
I open it to reveal twin portraits. On one side is a woman who looks very much like my mother did when she was younger and before that horrible disease took her away from Earth. And on the other side…
"It's me," I say in wonder. A slightly older version of myself, but it's still me. "How?" I ask, turning to face him once again.
With a sigh, he sinks onto the bench and seems to age another five years. "I took it from this very room that day. Don't ask me why."
"What day?" I ask, joining him on the bench.
"It seems so long ago… So very long ago…"
Dad's gone into one of the other rooms in this house to "give me time to think."
But I don't know what to think.
He's spun a tale so fantastic and utterly unbelievable, but the proof is all around me. Still, it's so hard to believe that my mother was the object of adoration for a man who masqueraded as the Phantom of the Opera since its opening. Though perhaps not too difficult to believe seeing as how I am in existence.
I stand from the bench that I've been sitting at for the past hour and walk over to the shelves on the perpendicular wall. They seem to hold scores of music though they are quite under capacity. I suppose these are the only works to survive his grief… A sudden impulsiveness grabs hold of me and my hand flies out and grabs hold of one of the pieces. I don't bother to look at the title before taking it over to the organ, retaking my seat, and setting the piece on the organ. It is simply titled Angel.But the subtitle is what catches my eye. A Piece for my Beloved Angel of Music- Christine Daaé.
Before I can start to play, a memory of the first time I attempted to play the organ comes flooding back. I was five- maybe six. My musical inclinations started at a very early age. It was at the church that we attended in England as a family. I had pulled away from Maman for just a moment so that I could touch the lovely instrument that I saw every Sunday without fail. Maman hadn't noticed that I had slipped away from her until the first notes rang out through the ornate building. She had simply stood there, transfixed with a look of horror upon her face. Dad had quite literally sprinted over to the hard, wooden bench I had climbed on top of and scooped me up.
I suppose that is when they started to put the pieces of my true identity together.
I open up the score and start to play Angel. It's magnificent. No. The word doesn't even begin to describe the beauty of the music. Dad was right. Erik was a genius. I can even hear the echoes of my mother's laughter in the music…
As I have so many times before, I loose myself in the music. I let it surround me and just for a moment I can almost forget the unreal situation I've found myself in. It's not until the last note's echo fades that I realize that Dad is standing just behind me.
"Your…father would have been proud," he says. His blue eyes are gleaming with unshed tears.
"I would hope my Dad would be too," I tell him. Yes, Erik was my father but Raoul raised me. He shall always be my good old Dad.
"Of course," he says and leans over to give me a hug.
"I don't blame anyone," I say as he releases me from a bear hug much like the ones he used to give me when I was a small child.
He gives me a small smile. "We- we should probably go. We still need to find a carriage. It could be difficult if we wait too much longer."
"Right," I say. I grab the folio of music as I stand. "You don't think he'd-"
"I think he'd be honored."
"Will we ever come back?"
Dad laughs, "You'll have to come by yourself next time. I don't know if I can make the journey again."
Together we exit the house, making sure to extinguish the few candles we lit. Outside, Nadir looks at us expectantly.
"Merci monsieur," I say, "for helping my Dad all those years ago. And for being a friend to my father."
He nods his head. "You are quite welcome monsieur Charles."
The gondola ride back to the opposite shore is uneventful. We disembark and Nadir gives me his calling card. "If you ever need anything," he says as he places it in my hand. I see the meaning in his eyes. Dad was able to tell me precious little about Erik. Perhaps Nadir will be able to tell me more about my father.
Outside the Rue Scribe entrance, Dad and I are able to find a carriage back to our temporary residence here in Paris. Nadir assures us that he doesn't live too far away and it won't be too much trouble for him to walk. Once the door is closed and the horse starts to move a silence descends on the cab.
"So, Dad, you know the dog that we ran over on our way to dinner?"
"I was wondering if we could take her back to England with us."
"Oh, Charles. There are so many laws that restrict that. She'd have to be isolated for a month just to make sure she doesn't carry any diseases, you know."
He sighs. "I suppose so. Do you have a name in mind?"
My mind flicks back to the other pieces on the shelf.