Disclaimer: I do not own Erik, or Meg, or Madame Giry, or any other characters from the ingenious mind of Gaston Leroux! Anne, however, she's mine...well, she resides in my head until her story is done.
AN: Alright, so some were for 1st person, the others were for 3rd person. So, I did both!
"My first year, was hard, at best," I whispered, looking out the window, surprised to see a lake instead of the dreary landscape of England. "My mother, in time, accepted outwardly the fact that we could not be seen associating together, but we always found ways to spend time with each other. She never really took her meals with the family, so Cook always sent me with her tray so I could at least see her and talk to her for a few minutes while she ate. My life always became easier when it was made apparent to the other maids that I was not going to be a weeping child who always needed her mother, but an independent person that could shift fairly well from task to task. I seemed to go up in their estimation."
I looked down at my hands startled to find that they weren't bleeding and callused. I had become so absorbed in my telling that I had lost track of where I was…and almost what age I was. In my mind I was the eleven year old girl, who wanted nothing more than a mother's love. "By the end of my first year, I had found my way into the hearts of many of the maids, especially Cook, and, if the housekeeper hadn't found something for me to do, I hid out in the kitchen, learning how to make anything and everything imaginable."
"I suppose if a person must be blamed, it would be Mama for her attention to me and her lack of attention to Elizabeth. When my sister became on good terms with the young ladies of the household, it was made to her understanding that I was beneath her and that if she ever wanted to matter to anything, I had to be treated more like a servant than a sister. To this day, I've never known whether or not she enjoyed ordering me about as if I were her own private slave. I was always the person she called on when she needed her chamber pot cleaned, or the fireplace cleaned out, or some other such gruesome task that I should not have truly been asked to do. Elizabeth studied with the young ladies, which had to be awkward since the governess was our mother."
I settled back into the chair, and grabbed hold of the arm rests. Erik would want to know about the…incident, and there was no way I was going to get out of it. Already, I could feel the fear creep into my body, even though I knew I was perfectly safe. Erik seemed to sense that I was uncomfortable as he stood me up and drew me to him. I noticed how perfectly I fit into his arms and I felt so safe…so protected…so truly cared for.
"For three years, this mundane life continued on. During this time, I still sang to my heart's content, when I was sure no one, especially Mrs. Fairfax, was around. However, it made its way around that I had 'superb voice.' A 'voice that rivaled the angels in heaven.' They were all silly comments to make me feel better, but apparently Mrs. Wetherington thought that it wouldn't do to let my voice go to waste. I had a use to her after all, and so I was allowed to have a once a week thirty minute private lesson with a voice instructor that came regularly to see the eldest Miss Wetherington who had a voice like a frog." I laughed. "She had such a singing voice that I'm sure would have made La Carlotta sound like an ethereal being."
I could feel Erik's body shake and I knew he was laughing with me.
"My mother had made over one of Elizabeth's dresses, letting out the hems, cutting the sleeves, so that it looked perfect. It was the best dress I owned, and it was the only dress that I wore to my lessons." I took a shaky breath, the memories coming back fresh to my mind. "At first, everything was fine, and nothing was out of the ordinary. He praised me for my voice, commented on my excellent technique, and wished that I was a young lady of society because I then would have been destined to astound all of England."
Erik was silent, waiting for me to continue.
"For three months, everything was fine. My lessons commenced before lunch, and we were often by ourselves. Mama was always busy with lessons, and after three years with the family, she trusted them well enough to protect me." I grimaced and closed my eyes. "Then, one day the family said that they were going away for a brief holiday and my mother and Elizabeth were asked to accompany them. They were hesitant to leave me, but I assured them that I was quite alright staying behind. The only people, however, that still stayed on at the house were the cook and the housekeeper. I thought it a strange custom that when the family left, so did the staff, but I guess it was customary with this family.
I felt tears coming to my eyes. "The first time, I was dressed in my usual dress, and Mrs. Fairfax and Cook in conference in the kitchen, so I was all alone. We had just gone through some warm-ups when he said that I was standing incorrectly. I was confused as I was had good posture, but he came over and placed one hand on my stomach, the other on my back, supposedly fixing how I stood. I was too shocked to say anything when he unfastened the buttons on the back of my dress. It was only when I could feel the dress being actually taken off that I struggled. But it was no use. He was far too strong. Every time I tried to scream he put a hand over my mouth, and all the hard work had ruined my nails so I couldn't scratch him or anything. I had lost the battle from the very beginning."
"It was over and done within a matter of minutes but to me it felt like an eternity. When he was finished, he put my dress back on, fixed my hair, and told me to dry my eyes. If it hadn't been for my tear stained face, it would have appeared that we would have had a normal lesson, and that nothing had happened. Before I left the room however, he placed his lips very close to my ear and said that if I told anyone what had happened, he would kill me and my family."
"How many times did this happen?" His voice was like ice, but I knew it wasn't directed at me.
"Everyone was gone for three weeks. Before they had left, he had talked Mrs. Wetherington into letting him come a little more often during that time as he himself would be leaving when they returned. She gave her consent, and so he came three times a week while they were gone."
I nodded, burying my face in his chest. "I was so young, and believed him that he would kill my family. My own life I didn't care about as I wished I was dead when it was over each time. During the day, I could go on as usual, but it was during the night that things got bad. I had terrible dreams that plagued me, and after a while, I started spending the nights with my mother, and she would calm me, but I never told her what my dreams were about. In time, I was able to block out those three weeks as if they had never existed, but the nightmares still lingered."
"What happened to him?"
"When the family returned, he left, promising to return, but he never did."
"Your mother never suspected?"
I shook my head. "No, but we soon got very busy after they returned. Apparently, Mama was discovered while the family was on vacation and Grandmama found us. Uprooted once again, Elizabeth and I were sent to a finishing school to fix the problems we'd gotten by living in poverty, and life, well, what one could call life, resumed. The rest…you know."
"What was his name, Anne? Give me his name."
"Erik, as much as I appreciate the fact that you wish to protect me, I will not give you his name. What's done is done and it cannot be undone."
"So, you're content with just letting him get away with it?" Erik forced me to look into his eyes, and I could not look away.
"Of course not. But it won't do me or you, for that matter, any good in hunting him down and harming him in some serious way."
"There's no need to remind me what he did to me, Erik. I know perfectly well."
"But you're willing to let him live?"
"Do you think this is easy for me?" I looked away from him, fighting between anger and pain. "Do you think that I don't want him to suffer for what he did to me, and in all likelihood, other girls?"
"So, what's stopping you?"
"The fact that revenge or vengeance serves no greater purpose."
"What about justice?"
I looked back at him and smiled, jokingly. "I have a feeling that your idea of justice and mine vary greatly."
"Well, if it gets the job done…"
I laughed at his tone. I was surprised to find myself laughing at all given the circumstances. "In all seriousness…"
"I'm sorry for what happened to you," Erik replied stopping me in mid sentence. He pressed me to him and I rested my head on his chest. My arms encircled him and for a moment we stayed that way. "It should never have happened."
"But it did, and now I have to come to terms with it."
"Sounds like you have. You can talk so calmly about it."
I shook my head. "The walls I've built to keep everything in place make a very pretty mask. But I have no other secrets, Erik."
"Thank you for telling me."
"You needed to know." I looked up at him and cradled his face with my hands. "I couldn't very well keep this from you, now that I remember, and considering the fact that…"
I was stopped again in midsentence from telling Erik something very important by Aunt Giry's voice. Erik released me, and I immediately missed the warmth. He left the room going to go see my Aunt and I was left standing in the empty room. I moved to the window where I could see Erik in a deep conversation with her, and I guessed that he was trying to get the information out of her as to who the music teacher was. I smiled when it became very obvious that she had no intention of telling him. He stalked away, clearly angry, and she came inside.
"Well, Anne, I'm quite surprised to find you up and about. You had quite an episode last night."
I shivered and wrapped my arms around me. "I try not to think about it, and put it out of my mind as often as I can. It's been easy until you brought it up."
"One day you'll have to go to the chapel and exorcise the memory from your mind." She came up and wrapped her arms around me. "Oh, Anne, I was so scared yesterday. Seeing you like that…if we had come only a minute later…"
"Please, it doesn't do me or anyone else any good to dwell on those events. But I do wish I'd been a little wiser and realize that Erik never would have left me any sort of note like that."
"Do not blame yourself, Anastasia." She lifted my head so that I could look into her eyes. "None of this is your fault."
"Perhaps. But regardless, I should probably get back. I'm sure Meg is worried about me."
Aunt Giry looked hesitant. "Anne…I'm afraid you can't come back…at least, not yet."
"Well, last night…do you remember what happened to Faucher?"
I shook my head. "No…I don't."
"Erik…well…he…Faucher is dead, Anne."
I felt my heart drop. "Erik…killed him?"
Aunt continued as if I hadn't even spoken. "And we couldn't take you back to your room, because we feared that you would wake up hysterical and then we'd have to explain it to Meg and it was going to be a great big hassle that we didn't want to deal with, so we brought you here to recover. Though some people in the Populaire think that the two of you ran off together, I have been able to convince the managers, with some well forged papers, that you've been asked to visit a friend in England, and a notice was written stating that Faucher has quit."
"So…what does this mean for me?"
"It means you're going to have to stay here for a month and not go up to the surface. We have to make everyone believe that you're visiting a friend in England so we have to account for travel time, and visiting time. I'm sorry, Anne, but this was the best course of action."
"So…I'm here for a month."
"That isn't going to be a problem, is it?"
I whirled around to face Erik standing in the doorway listening to our conversation.
"I told you to wait outside, Erik," Aunt Giry bit out.
"Curiosity is one of my many sins," he replied.
"It's alright, Aunt. I don't have a problem staying here. I assume that's why my trunk was brought down?"
"Yes. Erik acted very quickly to make sure nothing seemed out of the ordinary." It was rare, and I was astonished to find that I'd caught it, but I saw the glimpse of a smile pass across my Aunt's face. She seemed pleased….almost, proud, of what Erik had done. "Well, if you're sure that you'll be alright, Anne…"
"Yes, I'll be fine. But, could you please send my kindest regards to Christine? She probably wants to talk about last night's events since everything went so well."
"Of course, Anne." She kissed my cheek and took my hands. "I'll come back in a day or two to check on you."
"To make sure she's still alive, you mean."
I laughed. "I'll be fine. Thank you Aunt Giry." I watched her leave, and once she had passed through the door and made her way back up to the Populaire, I noticed that Erik and I hadn't moved from where we stood. We simply stared at each other for a few minutes, neither of saying anything. Then, abruptly, he turned and left me in the room. I made my way to my room and sat down on the bedside. It had been an exhausting morning and I felt strangely tired again. Thinking a good nap was in order, I laid down, grateful that sleep came quickly.