Well, this is a new fandom. *waves sheepishly* Hello.

So I've been obssessed with Phantom of the Opera for the past few weeks, ever since I saw it (for the second time!) onstage. I don't live anywhere near Broadway or West End, so it's only when a touring company decides to make a pitstop in the Philippines that I find myself able to go to the theatre. So that's where it started.

Lately, I've been watching the POTO 25th Anniversary DVD on a loop and I've fallen in love with Sierra Boggess and Ramin Karimloo (especially Ramin). So this story is partly inspired by their portrayals, as well as Hadley Fraser's Raoul. I've always wanted to see how these three characters - Erik, Christine, and Raoul - would relate to each other if Erik didn't live in the cellars and wasn't a crazed madman and Raoul wasn't a spineless fop. At the center of any POTO adaptation is the love Erik and Raoul had for Christine, and how Christine chooses, and (most importantly) why she chooses that man.

The friendship here is partly based on Ramin and Hadley and Sierra's friendship offstage, and so you'll find that a lot of their performances on Sheytoons and also backstage videos will make their way into this story. But at the end, this is the Phantom's story. So let the curtain rise, and I hope you enjoy the show.

Erik stared at the twin tombstones in front of him. The mottled gray stones were smooth and polished to a shine. Someone had been tending to the graves even in his absence. He watched the small candles flickering in the crystal votives that stood to either sides of the tombstones, casting a warm orange glow and fighting off the darkening twilight. Above the tombstones rose a figure of a stone angel, lovingly crafted. The angel's blind eyes turned towards the horizon, its slender arms outstretched in benediction, its wings unfolded as if she was prepared to take flight.

The young man wrapped his peacoat around his thin shoulders tighter. He read the engravings on the tombstones again, hoping that the words would change.

Marcus and Madeleine Destler

Beloved father

Beloved mother

Death has never parted their love

Below their names were the dates of their birth. Marcus Destler was in his prime when he died; Madeleine Destler was ten years his junior and, by all accounts, a ravishing beauty. Erik's eyes skimmed the dates and stared at the date of their death.

August 24, 1996

May the angels sing them sweet music all of their days

Erik snorted. His grandmother was always fond of such verbose, old-fashioned language. His hand went up to brush the stray strands of dark hair from his eyes, his fingers bypassing the smooth, unremarkable surface of the half-mask that he wore over the left side of his face. He grimaced as the wind picked up, rustling the autumn leaves that coated the clipped green grass of the cemetery.

"Well, I'll have you know that I will be attending university this fall, as per your command Father," he muttered to the gravestones. "It's a waste of my time, and you know this, but as you're dead, I do not think I can do much about your last will and testament." Erik rolled his eyes. He knew his father meant well, in as much as a businessman overseeing a vast fortune could mean well for his only son and heir. "But once I get my degree and have access to my inheritance, I'll have you for this." There was no point threatening the dead, he knew, but he felt his heart ease slightly. Four years, and he could study whatever he wanted, as long as he got a degree out of it.

He had already decided on Music, majoring in Composition, with a minor in History. New York City had a great many universities and colleges to choose from, but Erik had decided on the exclusive Cathedral College, which recruited its students based on talent instead of money. Only fifteen students were admitted each year. He appreciated the exclusivity, and with such a small student body, he knew that at least the mask wouldn't be much of an issue.

His body sagged, as though the weight of the world was upon him. As if he had called out the man's name, Nadir Khan stood at Erik's side, his dark face somber. Nadir had been Erik's companion and bodyguard ever since he was a child, and had been at the boy's side when his parents were killed in that fatal car crash twelve years ago. He single-handedly raised Erik while his parents moved from party to party, board meetings to cruise ships to round-the-world trips. He accompanied Erik to trips to the doctor in several attempts to rectify his defects; he was the one who treated the wounds and bandaged the boy's scars. He was the one who interceded on Erik's behalf when his parents wanted to send him to yet another plastic surgeon, insisting that the boy had enough and that he should be left alone.

Nadir was the one who got Erik his first mask.

Now, the older man touched Erik gently on the shoulder. "We should be getting back," he said. Erik nodded mutely and allowed Nadir to steer him around the maze of gravestones, back to the idling black car waiting for them at the road. Erik allowed his gaze to roam, content to let Nadir lead. All of the other gravestones looked the same, he thought. Except for that one - the one beneath the beech tree, where a small bouquet of wildflowers rested on top of a tomb.

Hmm, he thought to himself. That wasn't there earlier.

Christine stared at the simple white headstone and placed her small bouquet of wildflowers on top of the gravestone. "I got in, Papa," she said, her Swedish accent still lightly noticeable despite spending most of her life in the United States. "I got into Cathedral College. You and Mama will be so proud of me."

Gently, she brushed away the fallen leaves and debris that had covered her father's grave. They had left her mother in Sweden, her tomb in the family plot. But her father had wanted to be buried here, and she had acquiesced. Charles Daae, Beloved husband, father, and friend. He was an accomplished violinist with the New York Philharmonic, and Christine had fond memories of being a child backstage, running up and down the long, shadowy corridors of myriad concert halls, her polished Mary Janes skidding across polished tiles, playing with costumes and props. She was a child of the theatre, as her father fondly said, ruffling her curls.

What she would give to feel his callused hands on her head again, reassuring her that it would still be all right.

"Aunt Giry is letting me stay with her and Meg during the semester, which is kind of her. She still speaks fondly of you, and Meg is like a sister to me. You'd like her." Christine smiled. "Aunt Giry has already retired from the corps, and has opened up her own studio. I'll be working for her during weekends, which is nice. Meg will be one of the instructors. She's already apprenticed with the New York Ballet, which is pretty awesome." She knelt in front of the gravestone, her fingers lightly tracing the engraved numbers of her father's death.

August 24, 1996

"I still miss you very much, Papa. And I'm still waiting for your Angel of Music, you know." She laughed softly to herself and pushed away a stray curl from her face. "I know that it's strange, and I know that it's just a story, but I can't help but believe that you'd still send him to me." Christine bit the inside of her cheek, trying to stop tears from flooding her eyes.

But she couldn't help it.

The wind picked up. The leaves of the beech tree rustled as a swirl of red and gold autumn leaves drifted downwards. The afternoon glowed golden, the sun painting the horizon with streaks of purple and pink and scarlet. But Christine barely noticed. Tears streamed down her face, and puddled on the ground in front of her.

The title of the story is taken from a Mumford & Sons' song, "White Blank Page", that Ramin usually covers during his live performances.

Reviews and constructive comments are more than welcome. Tell me what you think!