Prologue

Antoinette Giry sighed, relieved. Tomorrow was the great day. Tomorrow finally everything that had gone wrong all those years ago would be put right again. Tomorrow the two lovers that had been separated for so long would finally exchange their vows and be united in matrimony.

How many times over the past five years had she asked herself if she had done the right thing the night of the fire at the Opera Populaire by showing the young Vicomte the way to the Phantom's – Erik's – lair. Why had she done it? She had known that Erik would never hurt her surrogate daughter, for he loved Christine. Why then had she not left the two of them alone to sort things out? They had lost five years because of her. Because she had sent the intruder, whose presence had completely changed the dynamics of the situation. Without his interference they might have found happiness that long-ago night. Instead they had had to suffer heartbreak and endure a long separation.

But would they have been able to build a relationship back then? Mme. Giry was not sure. Christine had been so young then, barely seventeen, she had not really been able to cope with the fact that two men were rivaling for her attention. In Mme. Giry's opinion, five years ago Christine had not been ready yet to accept her love for Erik and to act on it. Christine needed this experience, she thought. She needed to see Erik at his most vulnerable and at his most noble, sacrificing his own happiness for her sake, in order to understand her own heart. And Erik, he needed to experience tenderness and the intimacy of a kiss in order to fully understand love.

Of course that was not the reason why she had sent the Vicomte their way. She had been worried. Worried that Erik would not be able to accept Christine's decision. For back then, Mme. Giry had not been too certain which of her two suitors Christine truly loved. She had supported Erik's courtship but had secretly feared that Christine's heart belonged to Raoul de Chagny.

She had to admit to herself, though, that she had had doubts about the wisdom of her decision only moments after leaving the Vicomte. After all, Erik had been under extreme emotional stress that night, what with Christine unmasking him in public, and she had known his temper. Her thoughts returned to the night of the fire….