"Alright now lift your leg as high as it can go." Madame Giry instructed. I did and my leg lifted as high as my chest, I was elated. Since I could stretch pretty well now I could move on to the more advanced moves that I saw some of the other ballerinas do when they showed me what they first learned. I spun around, feeling like the ballerina I was becoming. Madame Giry stopped trying to stop me from going off on my own with the moves she had taught me, I practiced with her every spare moment, the only lesson I had consistently were my vocal lessons with Erik. "You are doing very well my dear. I'm sure Erik will be pleased to see how far you've come in such a short amount of time."
"Do you think so? He doesn't seem like the kind of person who says what he feels, I've hardly ever seen a change in emotion cross his face." Erik, I guess, had grown accustomed to his inner monologue.
"I can tell you he is not. He is still teaching you to sing, am I correct?" Madame Giry asked. I nodded my head and kept moving, it always hurts less when I move. Ballet was great. "I'd like to hear you sing, maybe we could get you a small singing roll in Hannibal."
"What should I sing?" I was kind of embarrassed but I owed Madame Giry at least that much.
"Whatever song Erik taught you first, I know he's been teaching you a lot." I stopped dancing for a minute as I envisioned what moves I would dance as I sang Psyche.
"Hätte ich lebte bis jetzt
Hatte ich bis jetzt gesehen
Psyche." I lifted my leg high and spun, imagining I was singing of the person I loved.
"Wie konnte ich so lange ohne dich gegangen
Ihre Augen leuchten meine Welt
Wie die Sterne von den Göttern geschmiedet
Ihre Augen wie der blaue dass nur Hermes sieht so tief in den Himmeln.
Ich kann dich nicht lieben aus der Ferne
Ich brauche dich bei mir
Sagen Sie bleiben
Lassen Sie mich halten dich in meine Arme
Lassen Sie mich Ihnen zeigen, den Himmel, wie Sie noch nie gesehen haben
Nicht scheuen mir jetzt meine Psyche.
Die Mutter ist so grausam
So, meine Liebe meine
Sie sollten stattdessen bestraft werden!
Meine reizende Psyche
Sagen Sie mir, zu lieben
Psyche Ich werde Sie!" I cupped my hands to my heart, knelt on the ground and extended my arms as if I was offering my heart to someone. I opened my eyes as I heard more than one person clap for me. I looked around as saw Monsieur Lefèvre near the entrance.
"I'm sorry to disturb you, I was just coming to see if Madame Giry had the written copy of the dance routines, I do like to see what they're supposed to look like before the rehearsals start." He walked up the aisle to us on the stage. "Where did you learn to sing like that? I'd thought an angel had come to earth."
"Oh, I've always sung, I used to take lessons." Why was he asking?
"Your voice is wonderful. I want you to be in our next performance, I'm sure Monsieur Reyer wouldn't mind coming in for an hour on his day off to hear you sing." Everything seemed to be going in fast forward while I was stuck in pause. Monsieur Lefèvre wanted me to have a singing part in Hannibal? "I'll send for him immediately." Monsieur Lefèvre turned to walk away.
"Wait! Are you sure? I'm only a cleaning girl here, shouldn't you give the big parts to the professionals?" My head was spinning.
"Professionals must be taught and start from something as all things do, you are starting as a cleaning girl but you have the makings of a star in you." He turned and walked away, still talking. "I should expect many people will want to see someone as exotic as you on our stage, yes."
"Did I just get asked to sing in a predominant theater production?" I could hardly believe what just happened. What did just happen?
"Yes, Monsieur Lefèvre must have been very impressed with you to offer you a role. Carlotta with without a doubt get the leading role of Elissa and their is only one other solo singing role, it is the role of the angel that is sent to aid Hannibal in his quest to defeat the Romans. Her name is Evangeline." This was the role I was most likely to play. I saw spots at the sides of my vision and my knees felt like two pools of jelly. I sat in the middle of the stage and stared at the door, trying to process this whole thing. This is what I've always wanted, to be onstage and forever remembered as the character I was portraying but I was seventeen and hardly had any experience, I've never sung soprano in front of people before. What if I choked? How would anyone be able to hear me in this huge auditorium?
"Danielle, stand! Monsieur Lefèvre and Monsieur Reyer have come in, you must look and sound your best," Madame Giry helped me up as the two men walked up to us.
"Hello madame, I have been made aware that you have an exceptional voice, so much so that Monsieur Lefèvre has decided he wants you in the show as one of the lead characters no doubt. I was just making up the list of actors to roles but I would not be unhappy if I find you are a better choice for a role than one of the others. Would you mind singing a song for me? I would also like you to recite a monologue to make sure you can act as well as sing. Please proceed madame." Oh God what do I sing? I looked at me and motioned for me to begin so I began to sing Psyche again. I put everything I had into that one song. "My dear, that was splendid, completely sublime. Who taught you to sing like that?"
"I picked it up here and there," I said. Reyer looked so impressed as he handed me a monologue which I assumed was from a part of the play that we don't see in the movie. I read through it once before I read it aloud. "Hannibal you must rise! If you do not then all we know and love shall fall to Rome. We need you, Hannibal, to save these people. Your people. I will help you best I can but I cannot use my powers. Whenever you are in distress follow my light and I will guide you."
"Splendid! You are marvelous, I cannot wait to hear you sing Evangeline's arias; yes, she has her own solos, at least three of them for each of the three acts. I say, this was worth coming in on my day off to get the perfect actor for the role of Evangeline. Good day all, I must go draw up the cast list." And he was gone. I was frozen in my spot. I wanted to scream and jump but I was afraid that I'd just wake up and this would all be a dream.
"Is this really happening?" Are my dreams really coming true?
"Yes Danielle. I suspect someone will like to know the good news. Meg and Christine are still out running errands for me so you should be able to go unnoticed for another half hour," Madame Giry said.
"But what about our lesson?" I asked.
"You'll have time for that later and I need to finish writing the steps for the final scene of Hannibal, not to mention I have to leave to get out Angel something he wants and it will take me a day to get there and back, I should be home tomorrow." She shooed me away and I ran down to meet Erik, He had said the night before he couldn't watch me practice today because he was working on a masterpiece. I ran down the tunnel, still amazed at how I had gone from a no muscle skinny girl to a firm muscled skinny dancer girl. I felt like I could run marathons without collapsing. I guess I should exercise a lot more. I was only just out of breath when I reached Erik's home.
"Erik! You'll never guess what happened!" I yelled excitedly. He turned to look at me and I could tell he was kind of mad that I'd disturbed his composing.
"Did you finally not hurt yourself while trying to do the splits?" He asked sarcastically, not picking up that something big had happened.
"No. But! I was offered the role of Evangeline in Hannibal!" I screamed then and threw my arms around his shoulders. I was almost crying in joy. "Monsieur Lefèvre came in while I was practicing with Madame Giry, she had asked me to sing so I did and he came in and told me my voice was great and he wanted me in the show!" Erik was shocked but triumph shone in his eyes.
"I'm proud of you, you are finally going to be able to show these people what you've got. I'm sure, once they hear you, they will demand your constant presence on stage. This is wonderful!" Erik said as he lifted me up and spun me around.
"If you do this where I'm from that means you want to marry me." I smiled down at him. He almost dropped me. "Just kidding." I laughed.
"The one time I openly praise you and you make a joke at me. You're not very encouraging of good behavior," he said as he gently put me down.
"God, Erik, can'tcha take a joke? I'm just so excited! I can't wait to tell Christine and Meg!" I remembered then that Erik wanted Carlotta out of the show so Christine could get her lucky break. Shit.
"I'm sure they'll be very happy for you." Erik assured me. I could see that he was planning something in his eyes.
"What's with the creepy eyes?" My elation bubbled down and suddenly I was worried.
"It's time Carlotta left, wouldn't you agree? I'm only devising a plan to give her a little push in the right direction." Erik looked devious, he could only look more like a villain if he had a, evil mustache or something.
"Erik do not even consider hurting her. She may be the biggest bitch I've ever had the displeasure of meeting and she probably deserves whatever you have to dish out but she might go running off to the police, telling them how things are unsafe here and get into a legal battle with the Opera and almost everyone will take her side and shut this place down! Do you want that?" Erik looked horrified that his home could be closed down and he would be out on his own.
"Then what do you suggest I do to get rid of her?" He asked, not thinking I'd come up with a response. Boy was he wrong, I'd thought about this all the time after watching the movie.
"Give her a bunch of little annoyances like locking her out of her dressing room, hiding her props, dismantling her costumes or pull a high school move and spread rumors about her." He looked at me questioning whether to listen to me or not. "Then she'll throw a fit and leave. Tada! No more Carlotta," I said.
"Alright, I'll try it your way, but if it doesn't work I get to do this my way," he said, almost darkly.
"Fair enough, just don't kill her." I shrugged, it isn't my fault Carlotta is finally going to get what's coming to her.
"You should get back now. Christine and Meg will be back soon and you have to tell them the good news," Erik said.
"Alright, I'll see you later." I walked back up to the Opera, happy knowing Erik wouldn't kill someone.
Christine and Meg looked like they were going to explode. It was pretty funny. "How did you get one of the roles in Hannibal? You're not even a dancer!" Meg exclaimed.
"Are you trying to sound disbelieving in the sense that you're happy for me or you don't think I should have this part? Really, I can't tell the difference," I said dryly.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean it like that, it's just that you only work cleaning the Phantom's box, how could you get such a big part?"
"Well your mom asked me to sing for her during our practice session so I did. Monsieur Lefèvre came in while I was singing and he liked it so he gave me the role of Evangeline." I was starting to get annoyed. How dare they just assume that I have no talent? "I'm going to go for a walk in town."
"Would you like us to come with you?" Christine asked. I shook my head.
"No, you just came from there, I don't want you to have to go walking around again." I smiled and grabbed my bag.
"I'm happy for you Danielle, I wish I was good enough to get the role of Elissa. I've always wanted to play her, but I'm just not talented enough." Christine shook her head sadly. This only made me angrier.
"Christine you're a great singer and you should know that by now, stop being such a weak willed inamorata and try for once. I don't see you actually believing in yourself or going up to Monsieur Reyer and asking to audition for the part. God, you might surprise yourself. It makes me sick seeing women actually acting like they're nothing better than the ground men walk on, buck the fuck up and take a lesson from me: try to do things for yourself, life is one big staircase of pure shit and if you can't at least believe in yourself you won't go far." I twisted and left. I felt bad for snapping at them like that but they needed to be told off. Especially Christine. She was so weak willed! How could Erik want a doormat for a wife? How could he love her? No, Christine was my friend, I shouldn't be thinking this, no matter how true.
I went to the coffee shop I went to with Raoul and ordered a cup of chamomile tea. I poured honey in it and looked out the window. What was I going to do? I needed to apologize to them, they didn't deserve to be yelled at, it was only this time that was bringing them down. I closed my eyes and rested my head on my hand.
"Danielle!" I looked around and was Raoul by the door coming towards me. I felt a smile tug at my lips.
"Raoul." He came over and sat down at my table. "You don't know how happy I am to see you." I smiled across from him. He smiled back.
"I thought I'd never see you again." He admitted. I laughed a little.
"That's a bit melodramatic, don't ya think? I was just really busy, my job really needed me this past month." I sighed.
"Well, you wouldn't even let me drop you off at home forgive me if I'm a bit dramatic," he said. "What do you do that keeps you so busy? I came by here every day to see if you were here, I must've spent a fortune in this coffee shop." We laughed at that.
"I don't do anything much, just a little job in a nice place." I didn't want to tell him about the Opera Populaire just yet but... maybe I had to? Crap.
"Will I ever get a straight answer from you?" He chuckled.
"Maybe," I said teasingly. "So how are things with your parents? Have you reached any common ground?" I placed my hand over his, he turned his hand and held mine, squeezing it affectionately.
"Not really. They still want to set me up with someone they see fit for me." He rubbed his thumb over my knuckle. "I wish they would stop. They don't know what I want for the future, for my life," he shook his head, "they don't even ask." He looked so dejected.
"Hey, look at me." I put the hand he wasn't holding under his chin and lifted his eyes to meet mine. "It'll work out. I don't know much about God things but they say he works in mysterious ways. If he can cause mass chaos and get away with it I'm sure you can figure something out relating to your parents." He laughed at me. It was nice to see him smile again, he was really cute. If he was supposed to love Christine why did he like me so much? It would change the ending but Erik needed to be loved.
"It's almost strange how something so against the word of God can make me so happy. Maybe it's the person who's saying it." I grinned and looked down.
"Aw, you're embarrassing me sweetie," I said. "You know what might cheer you up? There's a production of Hannibal in a few months, it's supposed to be good. Why don't you bring your parents to the show and try to talk sense into them?" Push factor, maybe he'll go talk to the manager about being the patron.
"Maybe. I haven't seen a show at the Opera Populaire since before I came back from Spain. I don't think my parents would go through all the trouble to come here just to talk with me and watch a play."
"I love the Opera Populaire, I saw Faust and it was incredible." Still pushing but I think I've meddled enough. I looked at my watch and sighed. "I think I should head back home, they'll need me to help them with dinner." Not a total lie, they didn't need me but they liked working with me. Raoul's face fell as we walked out the door.
"Will I see you again? I don't want to wait another month," he said half jokingly. I rolled my eyes at him.
"Such drama. How about dinner next Friday?" He pouted.
"So long?" He asked.
"Yes, yes. Mean Danielle making you wait." I nudged his arm. "Till then, adieu, and keep this holy kiss." I stood on my toes and brought his face down, kissing him on the cheek. He turned pink. "Bye."
I walked into the Opera smiling, I felt much better than when I had left. I walked back to the dormitories and found Meg and Christine there. I walked over to them.
"Hello Danielle," they said.
"I'm sorry for yelling, I don't regret what I said but I'm sorry I said it so harshly." No point in beating around the bush. Past the point of no return...why was I thinking of that now?
"It's okay, I guess. You're from another time where women are so... empowered, I can tell by being around you but that's not how we were raised. I don't think we could change now, it's how we are," Christine said.
"I know, but it just pisses me off that men have all the power here and we're practically dog meat," I said.
"But we know it's going to change and that makes it all worth it if we know that people will look back on this and think it was silly." Meg piped up from her place by the bed.
"Yeah, I guess. Amigos?" I said, holding my arms out.
"Amigos? What does that mean?" This time I decided not to screw with them.
"It means friends in Spanish. Where I'm from almost everyone knows Spanish because it's taught in all the schools." Their eyes went wide.
"You went to school? Madame Giry taught us everything we needed to know." Christine and Meg seemed jealous, I guess the grass was really greener on the other side.
"I was in and out of school, but I always got good grades. A means you're the best, B means you're second best, C is average, D means you really need to work more and F means you're failing the class and need to bring your grade up now. I usually got B's and C's and maybe and A or two." They wanted to know more but I really didn't want to talk about school anymore. "Let's do something fun," I said.
"Like what? Meg asked.
"Why don't we go steal some cookies from the kitchen and sleep on the stage tonight? I could tell ghost stories." They looked scared. Hee hee.
"But ghost stories are so... scary." Christine whispered.
"That's the point Chrissy." I bumped her hip with mine and pulled them out of the room. "Let's go get those cookies."
"How?" They asked.
"Feminine wiles." I told them to stand by the door and act girly, giggling and blushing when the male cooks looked up. "The young ones should be on duty now, the old ones and the women always leave for these days to be with their families, leaving the cooking to these strapping young men."
"I don't think I can do this," Christine said.
"Just do this." I demonstrated looking shy and cute. "Just distract them long enough for me to get the sweets."
"My mother won't let us sleep on the stage though." Meg protested. I rolled my eyes.
"She's going to be out tonight. She has to go out to get something from farther away and it'll take her a day to get back. So as long as we get up before the crew coming in to create the scenes it should be fine." They looked a little nervous but they agreed. I told them to wait by the door and act cute, "and if anyone asks why you're there just say you're meeting me to go out and we were going to use the back entrance." They looked excited but went in and began giggling. I ran around to the other door to the kitchen and looked in. The cooks were distracted by Christine and Meg acting all cutesy and asking which cooking tools did what. As soon as they were all focused on the girls I slipped off my shoes and silently snuck into the kitchen. I grabbed some fresh cookies and put them into my apron pocket. I was about to leave when a bottle of wine under the sink caught my eye. It wasn't opened and I guessed it was there for the staff. Wine was easily replaced, I thought, so I grabbed it and left the room.
"Meg, Christine, I'm here! Let's go into town now," I said as I pulled them to the door, the bottle of wine was in a pocket inside my dress, I used it for smuggling food into the dormitories for midnight snacks. "Simon, Andrew, Jordan there is no hitting on my friends while I live in this theater, you got that?" They nodded and we left through the back door going around and back in through the front door.
"Did you get them?" Meg asked.
"I don't know what you're talking about," I said as I pulled one of the cookies out of my apron. They squealed and ate the ones that I gave them. "I also managed to procure a bottle of wine, let's save that for tonight." They gaped at me.
"We've hardly ever had any wine, only at parties in small glasses. Mother would have a fit." Meg whispered.
"It's time for you to have your first bottle of wine then," I said. After everyone left we set up some blankets on the floor of the stage and crawled in. "Here's to the wine." We all drank and soon the bottle was empty. We giggled on the floor and got up and danced around drunkenly.
"This is so great!" Meg said to the audience that wasn't there. "Why haven't we done this before?"
"Because you're going to wake up with the worst headache of your life tomorrow?" I laughed at them from my place on the floor. I'd gotten better at holding my alcohol because of going drinking with Blaise. Hmm, I should hang out with him again, I hardly ever get to see him.
"Oh, I don't want to come down ever!" Christine sang.
"I'm not letting you drink ever again!" I called to them. I looked around; the place looked creepier when it was only lit by a few candles. I could almost feel Erik's eyes boring into me. "Someone's going to be pissed I corrupted you, Chrissy."
"Oh, don't worry. I'm feeling lighter than I have in weeks. I could just fly!" She flung her arms back and fell into the cushions we were using for beds.
"Maybe we should go back to the dormitories, it's creepy out here and I don't want to risk getting caught by the crew coming tomorrow anymore. It seems like a bad idea now that we're doing it," I said as I gathered up my blankets.
"So you're not always right," Christine smiled. I rolled my eyes.
"I'm not always right, no one is. Hey, why don't you sing for us before we go in Chrissy?" She blushed. I could feel Erik's questioning gaze on me. I have to admit, it was nice being the object of his attention, even for a little while.
"Oh, I couldn't." Christine began to pick up her blankets and bundle them together.
"Go on Christine, I know you can do it," Meg urged her on. We both pressed her until she gave in.
"Why don't you sing Think of Me from Hannibal, I know it's your favorite." She took a few breaths and stood in the center of the stage.
"Think of me, think of me fondly
When we've said goodbye
Remember me once in a while
Please promise me, you'll try
When you find that once again you long
To take your heart back and be free
If you'll ever find a moment
Spare a thought for me
We never said our love was evergreen
Or as unchanging as the sea
But if you can still remember
Stop and think of me
Think of all the things
We've shared and seen
Don't think about the way
Things might have been
Think of me, think of me waking
Silent and resigned
Imagine me trying too hard
To put you from my mind
Recall those days, look back on all those times
Think of those things we'll never do
There will never be a day
When I won't think of you
Flowers fade, the fruits of summer fade
They have their seasons, so do we
But please promise me that sometimes
You will think of me!" I could tell why Erik was so proud of her; her voice was amazing. There is no doubt that the only thing keeping her from being Elissa was her own self confidence.
"That was great Chrissy!" I said.
"Let's just go to bed, I'm really tired now." Christine was embarrassed, it was almost cute. We gathered our stuff and went to bed, I tried to prepare myself for their hangover of a lifetime.
I hope you liked this chapter, sorry it took so long to put up, I've got a lot of work to do for school but I'll try to update a lot more during winter break. All characters belong to their respective people. Review!