As I stood on the other side of the door, singing promises to Raoul, I remembered the rose. The dark one (I just couldn't think of him as an Angel right now) had given it to me, and I had left it carelessly on the roof. My better judgment told me I should retrieve it, that he would know I did not have it. Then I remembered the reason I had fled to the roof in the first place. He had killed that man, taken someone's life because his wishes had not been obeyed. The thought made me shiver, I had been so close to him, and I myself had disobeyed his wishes and angered him greatly.
The gentle pull on my hand told me Raoul was ready to continue down the stairs, but I wasn't ready, I had to go back. He wouldn't want me to. He would say it was just a silly flower. But I knew it was given as more than that, and I had received it as more than that.
There was still pandemonium below, and I could hear so many people shouting. As I heard someone yell out for Raoul an idea came to me. "I am not ready just yet. I need a little more time, but you are needed down there, you must go help." I did not remind him of his role as a patron, sure he was aware of it, and I hoped his sense of duty would give me the moment I needed alone. I felt guilty that it worked. I know who I had learned this deceit from, and I was not proud of it.
Once Raoul was on the second set of stairs I turned to the door, thinking about being here just a few minutes ago. It had all happened so fast, it seemed like one minute I was on the stage and the next I was pledging myself to Raoul. But in between there had been a moment where I remembered how my soul had soared at the sound of his voice. I braced myself for the blast of cold air and opened the door.
The blurry shape startled me, and for a moment I was confused. No one had come up, we were right on the other side of the door. And no one had been here while we were. My confusion evaporated the moment I saw the rose. It was him, and he was running for the edge of the roof. Was he running away from me?
Then I heard his voice, clear and strong and loud. You will curse the day you did not do…all that the phantom asked of you. He didn't know I was here! Did I have time to go before he turned and saw me? Would he hear the door? Should I hide? I ducked behind the closest statue, my mind was racing and my heart was beating so fast. Facing him was not an option; he had just killed a man for nothing. What would he do to me because I had left the rose? Before I had even finished the thought my heart went cold. He wasn't mad about the rose, he had been here watching us. Oh my God! I shuddered as I remembered the sight of the flower, it had been destroyed, the petals torn and crushed on the snow. I felt like I couldn't breathe, or was I afraid to breathe because he might hear me?
He would see this as a betrayal. Well, it was a betrayal, but what would he do? When he found me here, and I had no doubt that he would, what would he do? I closed my eyes tightly and prayed silently. A moment later, but much too soon, I heard him. He was taking ragged gasps of air, breathing a little too heavy for having run such a short distance. His footsteps were coming closer; he was walking towards the rose. The footfalls stopped, but I could hear his cloak swishing in the wind, or maybe on the ground. I tried to regulate my own breathing, sure that if I could hear his cloak, he would be able to hear me.
I heard a sharp intake of breath, and closed my eyes even tighter, knowing it was too late to pray anymore. "I know you're here," he said, it sounded like a growl, the horrible voice he had used to call me those vicious names. So different it was from his song, far from making my soul soar. I felt so helpless and stupid for asking Raoul to go without me.
Before I opened my eyes I knew he was there. He hadn't made a sound, but I could somehow sense him. Since I was crouching he towered over me and it was very intimidating. I stood slowly, keeping my hand on the statue for support. The silence was very awkward, but I couldn't have spoken even if I did have something to say…what was there to say anyways? He was my teacher, and had been a friend of sorts, someone I would turn to for comfort, but now he was a murderer. His gaze was searing, and I held it for as long as I could, which wasn't long at all.
As soon as I broke the gaze he turned away, towards the door. He hadn't said anything to me, no explanation for Buquet…nothing. He took a few steps…"Wait!" The sound of my own voice startled me. I don't even now why I called out; I had nothing to say to him. He turned and stared at me again, his jaw rigid, his eyes almost glowing. I opened my mouth, needing to fill the silence, but absolutely nothing useful came to mind.
He exhaled loudly and shook his head slightly before leaning towards me. At the risk of being rude, I leaned away. "No second thoughts, Christine." His voice was like ice, and I shivered involuntarily. In an exquisite movement he turned with a flourish of his cloak and left through the door. I slid down the statue because my legs felt weak, and despite the cold I suddenly felt very warm.
I had no idea how long I sat there. My shoes and cloak were wet through, and my fingers were numb. I wanted to figure out what had just happened before I went in and joined the mayhem, where I wouldn't be able to think. But no matter how many times I played the scene over in my mind, it made no sense at all. What had he meant by that? He had seemed…disappointed, but by what?
I heard Raoul calling my name as he came up the stairs. I stood and tapped my feet up and down to get the blood flowing again. As he came through the door I turned to look at the rose. I couldn't help the gasp of surprise. All of the petals were gone, as was the black ribbon from the stem.
I let Raoul lead me downstairs and to the dormitories, but I didn't let him kiss me goodbye. He was a little upset, but I told him my head was throbbing from all of the excitement today. My head actually felt fine, except for the jumble of thoughts I couldn't sort out. It was the second time I had deceived him in as many hours, but I didn't feel nearly as guilty this time. That thought would have to go to the bottom of the pile for now.
Once inside I readied myself for bed, and climbed in, anxious to close everything out and wake up refreshed. But sleep did not come right away even though I felt exhausted from this day. I tossed and turned, unable to rid myself of his words and the image of the flower, first broken, then gone. When I was younger and had trouble sleeping he would somehow know and sing the sweetest lullabies until I was able to doze off. But that hadn't happened in a long time. Probably because I can barely remember the last time I had this much trouble falling asleep. I closed my eyes tightly to fight off the reason I knew was about to surface. It didn't work, and now all I could think was how safe I usually felt because I knew he was somewhere close.
I woke with a start. My hands were clammy and my blanket was twisted around my legs. I looked around, still hazy with sleep, for the glowing eyes that had featured so prominently in my dream. It hadn't been a nightmare exactly, and the details were already starting to fade, but I had been searching for something. Everywhere I went the eyes had been there, large and stormy with a soft, safe glow. I couldn't remember what I had been looking for, and I laid my head back on the pillow. It was still dark outside so I probably had a few more hours to sleep.
When I woke I did not feel refreshed, but something occurred to me, a revelation of sorts. I had called for him to wait because I wanted him to say something. I had, at that moment, been unable to bear the thought of him leaving without saying anything to me. What did I hope he would say? Another thought came right on its heels. He had been disappointed because I hadn't spoken either. I had called him back but said nothing. Our entire relationship, until very recently, had been solely based on words.
That was ridiculous though. He was a violent man, a murderer even. What could I have wanted him to say so badly that I pushed my fear aside and called out to him? And what could he expect from me? He had thrown me to the floor and cursed at me, calling me names. He had been upset, but is that any excuse for violence? And what of murder, where could there possibly be an excuse for that?
I had to stop dwelling on it. It would drive me crazy. Why did I feel it necessary to understand the mind of a mad man? My mind probably wasn't much better at the moment. It was like a box of puzzle pieces dumped on a table, waiting for someone to put them together into a coherent picture. I guess my revelation a moment ago was like a few of the pieces fitting together, but there was so much more to go and at the moment I had no time for games.
Not surprisingly, rehearsals ended sooner than usual. Nobody could focus after the events of last night. I kept hearing snippets of conversation, gossip mostly, but they all had one thing in common. Everyone seemed to think Buquet deserved what happened to him, that it was only a matter of time. I know he was creepy, and Madam Giry had told us to stay away from him, but was that it? Could that be a good enough reason to kill someone? I could actually seek a little help with this particular piece of the puzzle. I would find Mme. Giry and ask her. She had been like a mother to me, and she would help me understand if she could.
Once I found her, she had been more than happy to sit and talk with me over tea. She told me about the things Buquet had done in relation to us, to all of the girls. She also told me of his sloppy job performance, and outrageous drinking habits, and his obsession with catching the famous opera ghost. Then she told me about him, the dark one. About how she had found him, and what he had suffered. She didn't know about his life before the gypsies, or she wasn't telling. And there were times, she thought when he was absent from the opera house over the years, but she couldn't, or wouldn't, elaborate on those either.