AN - I'm been SUPER busy lately with my best friends wedding, which now is on saturday. To think, I have to make 14 scrapbook pages in 2 days. Faints

Thank you to Olethros, yet again for another chapter well edited.

PhantomFan13- I hope you liked the last chapter and the bit about Aimee and 'the writer' ;)

Thank you to all my other reviewers as well, I totally appreciate your comments and reviews. Please enjoy and know that although the updates are slower, you guys are never far from my thoughts.

Chapter thirty five: Lovers and Thieves

You can't have lost it, after all the trouble I took.
I was just fourteen and soaked to the skin.

Raoul looked up from the documents piled in front of him to his heir. The papers were filled with accounts numbers and withdrawals per month, documents that outlined the de Chagny fortune and land. In all honesty, they bored Raoul to tears, but it was imperative that he discuss these matters with Adrienne. They had planned to introduce him to Parisian society when he turned eighteen. Meg however had not been very supportive of that idea.

"He's merely a child." She told Raoul when Adrienne was sixteen, "Let him have some fun before you weigh him down with titles and land."

Now Adrienne was a man and he needed to learn about his legacy as well as customs and propriety. Not that Raoul knew much on the subject himself. His own life had been rather taboo. He just wanted Adrienne to be accepted for who he was: a bright young man with many talents. In fact, Raoul's title was flimsy at best in the now a days, when anyone with money could be accepted into the circles of the social elite. As he looked over to his heir across the table from him, he noticed the young man wasn't paying any attention to Raoul or what he had to say.

Adrienne was staring out the window, a glass of wine in his hand, his straight blond locks falling into his blue eyes. They were spending the night at Raoul's estate, so he and Raoul could stay up late discussing the matters and there be room for everyone to have a peaceful rest. Meg had gone off to the guest bedroom hours before hand, quietly excusing herself. Raoul had watched wistfully as the delicate blonde woman left him and her son to banter over trivial matters before setting to business.

"Adrienne, are you even listening to me?" he asked his adoptive nephew.

"When we go to Rome next summer, you will want to introduce me to the bank manager there and open my own accounts into which I will transfer my trust fund. Then I will open private accounts in Rome, Switzerland, England and Paris." Adrienne said with a monotone voice.

Raoul was quite taken back that Adrienne had been listening. He smiled slightly and removed his spectacles that he had recently purchased to help him read.

"I know that this all boring and dreary, but it's important we talk about it." He told him, looking back down at the documents.

"How did you know you were in love, Raoul?" Adrienne asked him out of nowhere, more to himself then the Comte.

Raoul froze at the question, wondering where it came from and how to answer it. He looked back at Adrienne who was still staring out the window with intensity. Adrienne looked back at Raoul briefly, smiled and said "Sorry Comte, just thinking aloud."

He turned back to stare out the window, like a lost boy, searching for something.

Searching for a scarf out in that vast sea.

Raoul was walking lazily along the shore, rather bored with his governess's company. Chantelle was nice, but she was not the chosen companion of the fourteen-year-old.

He looked up from his feet, gazing out in front of him, taking in more then the scenery. There, just ahead was a young girl, along with an older man he assumed her father. The older man was playing the violin, a rather wonderful melody. He had never heard the song before, but it invaded his thoughts, etched its way into his brain. The younger girl, she was dancing. She had hiked her dress up, so her feet were visible. The movements were not trained, nor any particular style, but she looked like she was having fun.

When she turned and he saw her face, it was bright with love and happiness. Raoul was caught off guard by such a sight; he had never merely looked at a girl and felt this way before. The back of his neck began to tingle and he longed to giggle and dance with the girl who had to be no more then eleven. He watched her twirl and giggle around the legs of her father, just as the wind began to pick up. As she continued to twirl, the red scarf that adorned her throat was ripped from its home and carried out to sea.

"I knew I loved her from the first moment I saw her when we were children, Adrienne. The Vicomtess was breathtaking even as a young girl. I know it seems rather shallow, to base your love on mere sight, but Christine's personality shone out from within. She was charming, sweet, innocent, considerateand considerate and above all, caring. She cared for the smallest creatures to the biggest political problems. The girl put way too much on her shoulders, and I just wanted to rescue her from a bit of her unending worry and dread . dread. The second time that I saw her for the 'first time,' she was just as radiant as a young woman. Her character glowed underneath the surface of her alabaster skin. It was then I knew I had to marry her." He told Adrienne wistfully. He couldn't look at the young man, he was afraid there was tears in his eyes that threatened to fall.

When he did look at Adrienne, he saw a mixture of anger, disappointment, with just a touch of understanding. Subtly the boy shook his head and got up from the chair and stretched.

"I think it's time for me to go get some sleep." Adrienne told Raoul before beginning to walk away.

"What?" Raoul asked him confused, what had he said to warrant this reaction?

"Nothing… I wasn't… Nothing. I asked, and I got an answer, for some reason I was expecting something else." Adrienne said reaching the door frame. It was there that he turned his head back and finally looked at Raoul.

"I sometimes forget how much you loved her." Adrienne said, his arm above his head as he leaned against the frame.

"I still do." Raoul said curiously, wondering what had gotten into the boy. Adrienne just smiled sadly and shook his head. Without saying anything else, he turned and his footsteps could be heard down the hall.

Raoul was left with no explanation.

( ' ) '

Fear can turn to love,
you'll learn to see,
to find the man behind the monster

Danielle had snuck out again while her father worked on "Angel Ramla". Her hat securely on her head and her gloves in place she walked up the basement stairs towards the surface above. Once she reached the dressing room with the two way mirror, (an invention her father refused to explain to her), she felt around for the release mechanism. Slowly the mirror slid to the left, revealing a very modest dressing room. This dressing room had been forbidden to her for many years, one that her father always passed and told her to continue onward. She could not understand its importance or danger to her, or why her father would hold it over her head. It was not the only room with a double sided mirror, but it was the least conspicuous for her cause, and therefore she used it without hesitation.

Slowly looking around, she noticed that the room looked as though it hadn't been touched in twenty years. Cobwebs formed in the corners, a thin layer of dust covering the mirror and bed frame. The gas lamp was right beside the door, easily accessible for whoever had to refill its fuel. Brushing dust and cobwebs from her dress, she quietly tip- toed to the door, listening to see if anyone may be on the other side. Once she determined it was all right to leave the safety of the deserted dressing room, she opened the door hesitantly and peered out. Assessing there was no one in sight; she opened the door further and exited the small room. From there, she turned the corner of the small hallway and headed towards the audition room.

As she made her way towards the room, she thought of her father back at home, and the many hat boxes that were left unopened in her room. He had not been kidding when he told her he planned to grant her everything her heart requested. She made some purchases on a whim, expecting him to finally tell her no. But instead, he would merely smile and ask the shop owner to have it wrapped up for her. It was amazing how his flesh colored mask let him roam about during the day. He rarely used it, still preferring to do most of his business under the protection of darkness. However, when he did decide that it would alright for them to venture out into the light, he donned his pink leather mask. Most people would do a double take if they were looking at him closely, but her father had a way of making himself blend into the background. He'd wear a fedora to shade the covered side and turned his good profile towards whomever spoke to him.

Danielle tried to keep most people away from him anyways. She knew how he felt about pesky people.

As she turned the next corner, she ran shoulder to shoulder into someone. Lifting her head she realized it was Adrienne.

"You!" she exclaimed.

"You!" he replied happily.

Irritated, she tried to get past him, only to have him block her path. She narrowed her eyes in warning at her as he began to chuckle at her indignant behavior.

"Let me pass! I have no business with the likes of you." She told him, finally standing in one spot, a small but defiant pout on her lips.

"Oh but you do… you see I have seen the chorus cast list and could tell you if you are hired." He told her still standing with a toothy grin in her way.

"You may keep the knowledge to yourself, I shall go check the list myself." She told him, pushing him out of the way, and walking past him.

"But Belle! The strangest thing has happened…" he called after her, as she stormed down the hall towards the audition room. Oh, how she was beginning to loathe this charming boy named Adrienne, with his dashing smile and brilliant eyes.

As she got to the door, she looked for the chorus list, and found none. Instead, she found four empty tacks and four tiny corners of paper, where its counterpart may have been placed up previously. Fuming, she turned around, only to see Adrienne right behind her.

"You see, someone has stolen the master copy of the list." He told her, his arm above her leaning against the door, the other hand holding a rolled up sheet of paper.

"Ah, I see… and do you have any idea who the culprit might be?" she asked him, in a terse voice, angry with herself that she enjoyed this vile boy's company.

"Me, mademoiselle? Why no, no idea whatsoever! For to have an idea would be to suggest I think like a culprit, and I cannot fathom horrid ideas of blackmail and theft. Why, my mind is cleaner then the sky on a sunny day." He told her, leaning closer to her as her back was against the wall.

"Mmmm… I see." She said, the right corner of her mouth twitching up in an involuntary grin.

"Your just a pillar of virtue aren't you, M. Adrienne with-no-last-name?" she asked.

"Right you are, mademoiselle Lenuit. Why, I'm not even thinking at all about how gorgeous your eyes are when you are angry." He moved closer.

Heat rushed to Danielle's face, she wasn't used to such blatant flirtation. As Adrienne's face moved closer to hers, she turned her head swiftly to miss his kiss. Adrienne was surprised by her humility; it wasn't often that he met a young woman as intriguing as she with such virtues. He found most virtuous women to be a bore. Hell, even most women without virtue were a bore.

Before he could move though, her right cheek connected with the left side of his face, . His vision blurred and his mouth began to water.

"Oh my, I'm so terribly sorry!" he could hear her saying genuinely from a seemingly great distance.

"What was that about!" He asked incredulously.

He watched her stiffen and back away from him. "I did say I'm sorry, no need to be rude. I thought you had moved your face, I gave you a sufficient amount of time." She told him.

He looked at her shocked, and he watched her bravado melt and she rushed over to him as his balance began to waver. She placed her shoulder under his arm and looked up at him with innocent worry.

"I am really sorry, Adrienne, I did not mean to hurt you so." She told him, her eyes watering and her teeth gently biting into her lower lip. She was in the perfect position for him to steal a kiss, but something held him back. Accustomed to being the seductor, he nevertheless decided to give this girl a break. Why? He didn't know, but there was something about her, something that he didn't want to spoil or ruin. Something he wanted to preserve and have her retain even if she were to finally realize his intentions. After all, not only did he respect her, but he felt something else as well. Whether it was love, or curiosity he wasn't sure yet.

"I think I can forgive you just this once." He told her gently, and she smiled up at him. She looked at him with her intensely beautiful hazel green eyes and began to lift herself onto her tip toes. His heart froze at the thought that this beautiful girl might kiss him, might actually reward him with a gentle touch. Closing his eyes, he stayed as still as possible, waiting for the inevitable.

"A-ha!" she said, and he felt her rip the sheet from his hands. He was completely shocked, he couldn't believe she had used his own willingness against him. Yet, at the same time, he was amused at her ingenuity.

When he opened his eyes, she was smiling brilliantly, unfolding the sheet of paper in her hands. Slowly he placed his hands in his pockets and sidled over to her, as her eyes scanned the list. Her smile fell as she reached the end.

"I'm not on here." She said sadly, her eyes looking up into his. He looked at with curious amusement.

"What are you talking about? Your name is right at the bottom." He said, pointing to the words Belle Lenuit.

"Oh… right, how silly of me, I was so excited I didn't see." She said, her face paling and her cheeks blushing.

He watched as she turned her focus back to the paper, before rolling it up and giving it to him. He took it, all while trying to gain her eye contact, but she diligently refused to look at him.

"When are you going to let me take you to supper?" he asked her, his fingers lingering on her hand as she passed him the paper.

"When you learn to ask me properly." She told him, retrieving her hand from his. Electricity flowed through both of them, a subtle tension in both beings. They smiled at each other tenderly before Danielle turned to walk away.

"I guess I'll be seeing you a lot more, now that you work here." He called after her.

"Really? I assume you'll just love that." She called back to him.

"It might be distracting… don't be alarmed if a few sandbags fall as I gaze upon you from the rafters." He said, bowing his head a touch, allowing a blonde lock to fall into his face.

"I think you'll manage." She told him, before turning the corner. Once she had rounded it, her face broke out in a smile. She leaned her back against the wall, her head resting on against her shoulder. She bit her lip while reflecting on her audacity to tease him. Slowly she peered her head around the corner. Fortunately for her, he had taken off in the other direction.

As she turned her head back around, there stood the man with dark hair.

"I didn't mean to startle you," he told her, when she visibly jumped a bit, "I merely wanted to ask how the audition went."

She watched him cautiously as he shyly smiled at her, seemingly very innocent, but intense.

"It went very well, thank you." Danielle said, bowing her head and beginning to walk away.

"Wait!" the man called out to her, halting, she turned slowly, looking him in the eye.

"I must know your name," he told her, "if it please you to know, mine is Damien." All while taking her hand and kissing the back of it.

"Why must you know my name?" she asked him blankly, while he still held her dainty hand.

"Pardon?" he asked her, confused by her question. She shouldn't be so blank, she should have blushed at his kiss to her hand, this girl was so odd, and yet he loved her surprises.

"Why must you know my name?" she asked him again, this time more gently.

"Because, your face has haunted me ever since I first saw you, and I thought. 'Well, perhaps she may not be a ghost or a vision if she had a name.'" He said quietly, smiling.

Her eyes lowered from his, she pulled her hand from his grasp, and held it to her chest. Slowly she looked up at him, her face pale and her eyes bright.

"My name is Belle, Belle Lenuit." She told him. There was awkward silence; both Danielle and Damien did not know what to say to each other. Damien wanted to ask more questions, but she seemed to get upset the more he pried. Danielle wanted to get as far away from Damien as possible; he scared her somehow, made her feel watched. She felt like she should ask this monsieur Damien for permission to leave, but she had never had to ask anyone that since childhood.

Damien saw her mild discomfort and decided to depart. "Well, I must be on my way, I have a few errands to run." He told her, bowing his head and stepping away from her. She watched him as he walked away from her; happy that the feeling of butterflies and queasiness went away when he backed up. "One more thing, mademoiselle Lenuit." He told her, turning back.

"I don't know how well you know a young man named Adrienne, if you have met him yet, or have seen him. It really doesn't matter because you will eventually. He is a hunter, and pretty girls are his prey. He is poison to your virtue. I only tell you this to protect you, I wouldn't want to see such a talented and beautiful girl once again ensnared in his grasps." He told her, quiet serious.

"Do you understand, Mademoiselle?" he asked her, "Do you comprehend what I am trying to tell you? I beg of you, stay away from him. He will only leave you with sorrow in the end."

She swallowed and nodded her head slowly. Damien returned her nod in acknowledgement, before turning back and going on his way.

Danielle couldn't help but let the tears fall. So many wrongs with this world above, so many warnings to heed, why was it that, what is considered wrong, always feels so good?

( ' ) '

Who scorn his word,
Beware to those…

Damien stormed down the hall looking for his sister, Aimee had to be somewhere, lurking about this place. He had seen how Adrienne had swooped down upon the fine and graceful Belle. He had seen how she had carelessly bantered back and forth with him. What he didn't see was how his own face contorted with rage at the thought of this new girl, giving Adrienne exactly what he wanted. Or how his eyes grew more passionate in her company, causing her such distress.

That little bastard gets everything he could ask for, and now he wants Belle. Well, I won't let him have her. He just wants her because she is beautiful; I see within her something fierce, something hidden. I want to cultivate that and bring it to the surface; I want to be able to make her a star…

Just as he turned the last corner, he ran square into Aimee. She made a small sound of surprise and looked up angrily at the man in her way. When she saw it was Damien, her features softened giving her that innocent look that most patrons paid handsomely for.

"Damien, what are you doing in this part of the theatre?" she asked him curiously.

"We need to talk… in private," he added, grabbing her hand and searching for a suitable place. Backing up into the hall from whence he came, he tried a few doors before finding one unlocked. Quickly, he pulled Aimee inside, and shut the door, locking it.

He turned around, to find Aimee sitting on some old crates, examining her ballet costume, seemingly bored. Irritated by her lack of understanding, he growled in frustration and stepped forward. That finally got her attention. She looked up at him with worry.

"What is wrong, Damien?" she asked him.

"You need to work harder on Adrienne, keep him busy. I don't care if you are after his fortune or just his pleasure; I have a meeting with Raoul de Chagny tomorrow. I just want Adrienne out of the way." Damien told Aimee, pacing back and forth.

"Where is this all coming from?" she asked him, slightly surprised by his hostility.

"That little bastard is…" Damien started, but didn't finish. He didn't know what it was, but he couldn't admit that he wanted Belle. If he admitted it to Aimee, or even himself for that matter, he knew he'd lose his edge. He was a thief after all, an elaborate and exaggerated pocket picker, nothing more. What kind of life could he ever give Belle if on the off chance they were ever to succeed? No life at all. He couldn't even get his Aimee off the streets. Rage boiled over once again when he placed Belle's face on memories of Aimee. He saw her standing, cold in the streets. Pressing her little body up against people as they walked by, begging for sex in exchange of money. Her face numb and placid when they looked away, the pain evident from her blank expression.

"Damien, I'm confused, you have explained to me what you want, but now you have to tell me why." Aimee told him, jumping off the crates and walking towards her brother. She took his hand in hers, and looked up into his eyes.

"A new woman has come to the opera. I'm intrigued by her talent, I figure if I could get her into the position of diva, then tell her how she got there, I will be able to funnel money from her success into our pockets." He said, lying to Aimee. "Adrienne is in the way, trying to woo and bed her. It cannot happen, do you hear me, Aimee? It will ruin everything." He spat.

Aimee backed up and read her brothers face in quiet reverie. "Is this girl a brunette with curly locks and hazel eyes?" she asked him.

"Yes." Damien answered, eager to know how Aimee knew her.

Aimee sighed stepped back, "It's too late, Damien, I saw them in the hall days ago. He told me that she was his new courtship. Then they walked off arm in arm." She told him.

Damien looked at her then shook his head. "No… it's not possible, I saw them today, they are definitely not courting. But they could be, if he knew how to handle her or she knew how to respond to him. It's only a matter of time, and we cannot afford to let that happen, do you understand? She will be a star, and I will make her one. He will not get in the way because he will be in your bed. Damn it. Aimee! He cannot have her!" he yelled.

Aimee looked at her brother in mild reverie and subtle amusement. She then nodded her head to herself, finally seeing what all this was about.

"You like this girl." She said with a smile.

Damien looked at her surprised and shook his head "No, no this is about her singing…"

But Aimee continued to nod; his denial was all the more proof to her. "Yes you do, I dare say it… you think you're in LOVE with this girl."

Damien scoffed at the mention of the word love, was it not he himself who told Aimee that love was a wasteful emotion? That more could be accomplished by deceit then by flowers and sunshine?

"I am not." He said.

"That's right, you're not." Aimee told him, taking his face in his hands. "You are not in love with her, do you understand? You don't know what love is." Aimee told him. It had been something he had told her repeatedly throughout their childhood, almost an inside joke. It had been Aimee, who had used the word so carelessly many times over, declaring her love for inanimate things. The world was different these days, and who were a pair of whores and thieves to say they knew love?

"Just keep him out of the way." Damien told her. He then broke from her embrace and left the room.