A/N: Gah! So sorry this took so long to put up! With eight classes, string orchestra, and voice lessons it's really hard to get time for fanfiction! However now it's summer so I'll have more time to write! Plus, I don't think I've ever gotten to chapter 6 of a fanfiction. Lol XD Enjoy!
The managers and Mme. Giry stared at Christine in shock. Richard nearly dropped his share of franc notes to the floor.
"W-what precisely do you mean, Ms. Daaé?"
"Are you abandoning your engagement to the Vicomte?" asked Moncharmin.
"Y-yes, at least for now. I have, as of late, had far too many doubts to go through with it. It's not that I don't love Raoul- truly I do- but I believe I need time to think about it; and right now, I do not believe I am ready to stop being a soprano, when my career has only just begun." Christine got onto her knees and dipped her head to touch her hands. "So please, Messieurs; please accept me back as part of the company, even if just as a chorus girl or dancer. I will take any position you have to offer."
Richard and Moncharmin looked to each other nervously before shifting their eyes to the begging girl at their feet.
Mme. Giry suddenly piped in. "Ms. Daaé, I think the managers need some time to think about this. How about we go and get you cleaned up and changed, and then we'll return this evening for their decision."
The managers sighed in relief and mouthed silent gratitude to the concierge who was currently lifting Christine from the ground and guiding her to the door by her shoulders. She mouthed back "you're welcome," before closing the door behind Christine and herself. The managers waited to speak again until they could no longer hear the women's footsteps.
Moncharmin looked at Richard and sighed. "What should we do?"
Richard rubbed his temples. "I don't know."
"We've been practically accident free for the past two weeks- no Opera Ghosts, no extorting money, and Carlotta has finally agreed to sing for us again! If we bring back Ms. Daaé, it might all start up again!"
"Yes, but Ms. Daaé is also one of the most profitable sopranos in Paris," Richard stated. "Not only because of her supreme vocal talent, but because of all the gossip surrounding her name. People would pay a fortune to see the very woman who was the subject to the famous "Opera Ghost's" love and devotion."
"But what about Carlotta? She'll surely leave out of fear of being yet again upstaged and tormented," Moncharmin pointed out, earning a groan from his business partner.
"It seems no matter what we do, we cannot win, can we?"
"No Richard… no, we can't. No matter what we do, we lose. We just need to decide what we are willing to lose."
Mme. Giry led Christine through the hallways of the dressing rooms and dormitories. These halls were less crowded than before, due to rehearsals, but still there was the occasional gossiper who snickered to her companions about the scandalous soprano passing them. She was relieved when they finally arrived at the desired location: the costume room; which, fortunately, was completely void of anyone but the costumes and themselves.
"Well, let's find you something to wear," Mme. Giry said, rummaging through the bottomless bins of clothing.
Christine nodded, sitting awkwardly at one of the vanity mirrors. She took the opportunity to look at herself in the mirror, something she knew she would regret. The top of her dress was practically ripped in half, and part of her corset as well, immodestly showing skin from the base of her breast and her waist; no wonder she had gotten more snickers then sympathy. She looked like a harlot living in the slums. Her eyes were puffy, covered in dirt and dry tears; and her usual soft, blonde curls were frizzy and bunched together unattractively.
Still, for as awful as she looked, she felt even worse. She couldn't help but feel like she deserved this and so much more. She should've persisted, she could've held off Erik's curiosities just a bit longer, long enough for her to break it to him more slowly and gently. Now, she could just imagine her hideous angel, lying in that coffin of his, waiting for sweet death to take him from suffering- suffering that Christine had brought back upon him. A thought struck her mind. What if he no longer cared about a dramatic, torment-filled death, but just wanted something quick? Clean? And yet still showed his skills?
What if he was swaying back in forth due to the momentum of his body weight, the only thing holding him up six inches off the ground the Punjab lasso? She remembered Buquet's hung corpse- what a horrible sight it had been: tongue sticking out, eye balls bulging out of their sockets, blood and saliva dripping from his mouth. Just the thought of that expression on her already horribly deformed angel's face was enough to make her vomit, barely making it to the wastebasket.
"Ms. Daaé!"Mme. Giry rushed to her side and held her hair.
Christine coughed as she tried to compose herself. "It would seem that I am feeling a tad under the weather."
Mme. Giry sighed, putting a blanket over her shoulders. "Let me find you something to wear and then we can clean you up in the washrooms. I hope you don't mind me saying it, but you need it."
She forced a laugh. "I do not mind in the slightest."
Christine dipped her fingers into the steaming water, the muscles already loosening from such brief contact.
"Is it warm enough?" asked Mme. Giry, placing a towel on the stand next to the tub.
"Yes, it's perfect," she answered.
"Alright, I'll be in the parlor room right outside if you need me," Mme. Giry said, closing the door behind her.
Christine pulled Raoul's engagement ring from her bodice and set it on the tray adorned with soaps and bath oils next to her. She dropped the tattered clothes to the floor and slowly lowered herself into the bath. She sighed in bliss as the warmth incased her body. She reached over and grabbed a glass bottle labeled shampoo. She uncorked the top and poured some of the solution into her palm, inhaling the strong lavender scent before lathering it deep into her blonde curls. She could practically feel herself scraping off the thick layers of dirt from her scalp.
She sighed. It felt like forever since she had last had a bath. It had been at least two days. She never wanted to go that long again. She inhaled a large breath and plugged her nose before dropping under the surface of the water. Without knowing why, she opened her eyes, instantly regretting it; because suddenly, she was staring into orbs of yellow. She shot up panting and snapping her head back and forth looking for the owner.
The room was empty. The only sounds were her rapid breathing and the water splashing out of the tub.
She dropped her head into her palms. "I'm going mad," she cried.
Christine walked out of the bathroom clad in the silk robe Mme. Giry had left for her. Her hair was wrapped up tight in the towel on her head. The concierge, who had been sitting on the parlor room's sofa, looked up from the newspaper she was reading to the blonde's now clean form.
"Oh good, you're out. Come child, rid yourself of the robe and towel so we may properly dress you."
She did as asked, setting both materials neatly on the arm of the couch. With the Mme. Giry's help, she stepped into the legs of the drawers and chemise combination garment she had pulled out for her. She slipped her arms back into the sleeves and keeping them wide open so Mme. Giry could button the front easily.
"Arms up," Mme. Giry commanded as she buckled the steel bustle at the top of her hips.
The blonde raised her arms as Mme. slipped a corset around her torso, lacing it quickly and expertly. She guided Christine over to the vanity mirror and desk. She bent over on instinct, her hands gripping tightly at the edge of the desk for support as Mme. Giry pulled back the straps with all of her strength.
"Hold on tight, dear," she warned.
Christine tightened her grip as she felt Mme. Giry's boot against her back, the pressure straightening out her posture and at the same time constricting her breathing further. She suddenly felt her stomach drop, the nerves in her head constrict, and a revolting sour taste in the back of her throat. She lifted a hand over her mouth so as to push the taste back down.
"M-Mme. Giry, s-stop please. I feel terribly nauseated," she gasped.
The concierge turned her around and placed the back of her hand against her forehead. "Dear, it would seem you have a light fever. You need to rest. Where will you be staying?"
"I-I do not know. I cannot go back to Raoul yet and I haven't the money to rent a room. Could I perhaps stay in the dormitories for a night?" she asked, trying not to think of the house across the lake where she longed to stay.
"No dear. Right now you are not a part of the company, so you cannot. Is there any other place that you could possibly stay?" Giry answered, slipping a dusty rose dress on over her head.
Christine sighed. "I do suppose there is one other place."
Persian sat silently in his study, a large, leather bound art book in his hands. He flipped through the pages, admiring the extremely skilled art work that each page contained. Such beauty expressed in different charcoals and pigments- they seemed to come to life. This was the work of a genius, the work of Erik.
Erik had had a fascinating mind, especially when it came to his art. The page he was on contained an image of a horrible monster with thousands of sharp teeth and long talons on each of its forty fingers and toes, which adorned the extra limbs of the lion-like body. The beast was so horrifying, yet so realistic; it sent shivers down his spine.
Yet when he turned the page, there was an image of a young, beautiful woman with dark skin, and long, ebony hair that fell down to her hips. She wore long, nearly see-through robes and stood tall and seductive as she danced barefoot, adorned with many thick jewels and bangles down her arms and legs. She held a tambourine up high above her head, which she played happily. Her eyes were dark as she looked to the observer with extremely realistic passion. It was hard to remember she was still a drawing.
Yes, the Persian remembered this book very well. These drawing were all done by Erik through his twenties and early thirties. The last drawing in the book was a full design of the Paris Opera House, catacombs and all. He remembered clearly how the musician had given it to him. He had brought Erik to his new flat in Paris for lunch.
The man had scoffed and said, "To think you would follow Erik so far, and to give up your place in the palace for a place such as this. Were my designs not to your liking, Daroga? I never knew you enjoyed the sloppy, amateur look."
"It may not be extravagant, but it will suffice," he had replied.
Erik had tsked and shook his head in disapproval before pulling out his art book and a large box of different shaded charcoals. "That simply just won't do." He flipped to an open page and caught one of the pieces in his skeletal fingers. "I shall personally fix this place up for you."
For the next thirty minutes, Erik sat concentrating; sketching with such speed and grace the Daroga could hardly keep up. When the drawing was at last complete, he dropped the book with a slam onto the coffee table with a triumphant "Finis!"
He had admired the astounding detail with wide-eyes: at the array of colors and unique setups and arches, and the somehow Persian vibe to the whole thing. He especially enjoyed the study, a room Erik had knowingly titled: the Sacred Grounds. Ah, he knew him so well.
"This is astonishing!"
"Did you expect any less from the great architect and designer: Erik, builder of the maze of mirrors?"
He had chuckled. "No, not at all. May I keep this?"
"For the time being, yes. But I will come back for the book one day," he had answered.
He never did.
"Master?" his servant asked, entering the Daroga's Erik-designed office.
"What is it, Darius?"
"There are two ladies at the door for you. One of them is especially young and beautiful, master," he answered.
The Persian rolled his eyes as he walked past Darius out of the study and down the hall, leaving the book open on his sofa. He opened the door and the first woman to meet his eyes was a woman in her early sixties with white hair tied back into a tight bun. Nothing at all familiar or unusual about her, but then he had to double-take at the girl next to her.
"Ms. Daaé!" he shouted, as he saw the all too familiar soprano standing before him.