Terrified

"All great things must first wear terrifying and monstrous masks in order to inscribe themselves on the hearts of humanity."

(Friedrich Nietzsche)

Terrified...terrified was clearly the word to describe the overwhelming feeling which washed over her when Madam Giry suggested she replace Carlotta in Hannibal. Christine knew she could sing; she had an excellent voice, made so by the continued training of her Angel of Music. It was not doubt in her abilities which lead her to the realm of fears, no; she feared singing alone to anyone other than her Angel. She focused on her heartbeat pulsing so feverishly; she could hear her Angel clucking his tongue, mocking her fear. Despite her worry, she knew her Angel would press her onward. She calmed herself and stepped forward, smiling faintly at the maestro, who seemed quite unimpressed with her.

"From the beginning of the aria please, mademoiselle."

Her clear voice flooded the opera house and echoed into the realm which lay beneath it; a smile formed on her tutor's lips as he allowed her voice to etch itself into his very soul.

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Christine was ushered into a dressing room full of roses; the sweetness permeated the air and filled her lungs with their rapturous congratulations. She had performed, not as a mere chorus girl, not as a simple, dancing beauty, no…as the prima donna, the star. She took in the beauty around her, the confidence which bubbled up inside of her breast; a sigh passed through her pursed lips. Her Angel would surely not approve of her wallowing in glory; her time would be best spent recovering her energies than reflecting on her triumph. Her small, pale hand locked her bedroom door, barring the interloper on the other side who had intended on interrupting her evening's repose to demand she join him for dinner.

Her body instantly relaxed as she lay on her bed, though the task was made somewhat difficult with the incessant knocking on the door. Raoul cried out, demanding she open the door. Her resolve did not waver; her Angel would be displeased if she failed in her dedication to her craft…or to him. The knocking continued. Her childhood friend was persistent, she would give him that. She sighed again, and began to hum, her notes fluttering towards the mirror at the other side of her room. When the Viscount's voice and knocking finally ceased, she felt her eyes flutter closed. A voice, his voice, brought her out of her twilight state; it caressed her mind. She stood and wandered toward it, toward him.

"Insolent boy, this slave of fashion, grasping for your glory…ignorant fool, this brave young suitor, basking in my triumph," he sang, his voice surrounding her.

"Angel, I hear you, speak, I listen, stay by my side, guide me; Angel, my soul was weak, forgive me, enter at last, master," she returned, her voice soft and sweet.

"Flattering child, you shall know me, see why in shadow I hide; look at your face in the mirror, I am there inside!"

She wandered toward the mirror; they continued to sing until he reached out to her; without a second's pause, she grasped the offered hand and followed him into the mirror. The next minutes were a blur of swirling mist and song; alone, a white mask stood out in her memories. She focused on that mask, clung to its unwavering solidity. She was entranced. She was exhausted. When her Angel led her into his home and she caught glimpse of a replicated figure of herself, dressed in wedding clothes, she could no longer cope. With a little sigh, Christine fainted into the Phantom's arms.

Erik lifted her with ease, carried her into the swan bed he had built for the sole purpose of her eventual use. Finally the day had come when he took her; the entrance of that vile boy had preempted his intended seduction and absconding with his muse, but so much the better. He had her now. Pleased as he had watched her lock her door and ignore the Viscount's demands, Erik realized that tonight had to be the night; should he wait any longer, the boy may have sidled into Christine's mind and heart, leaving no room for his own insertion. He would cease mulling over it; it was done, she lay before him, he regretted nothing.

He watched her sleep for an hour before the solidity of her presence was verified sufficiently; he left her watch and made his way to his workstation. Her proximity had been fuel to stoke the blazing genius which lay behind his half-finished opera, Don Juan Triumphant. He worked feverishly, the notes falling on the music sheets before him, the sweat beading on his brow beneath the wretched mask he would forever wear. At some point in his work, she had woken. She sang to him, searched for him.

"I remember there was mist, swirling mist upon a vast glassy lake. There were candles all around, and on the lake there was a boat…and in the boat there was a man! Who was that shape in the shadows? Whose is the face in the mask?"

His worst fears were realized when she caressed his face and pulled the mask from it.

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Song lyrics as above clearly belong to ALW and not my sniveling self (though I did change one line to suit my own needs); I receive no profit from this, and beg the author to forgive my blatant use of his characters, of whom I own not a lick. /blb