((A/N: *insert the usual disclaimer of none of the characters belong to me and I can only claim ownership of the writing in this fanfic* based off of various versions of the phantom, but most heavily influenced by the 2004 movie and the sierra/ramin musical. I really like the thought of Meg and Erik together in a romantic sense, so this is my way of doing just that. Enjoy and maybe write a review and tell me how I'm doing so far? It'd be greatly appreciated!))

Shouts echoed off the damp stone walls as Meg Giry hurried along through the labyrinth under the Opera Populaire. Who would have thought all this even existed down here! Even more unbelievable was that all this time a man lived down here rather than the ghost they all believed to have haunted this place. Meg sighed and cursed herself for being so silly and believing all those ghost stories – such as the ones Joseph Buquet told before the Phantom killed him. It was strange calling him the Phantom now that she knew he was a living being. She was oddly curious of him now. Her curiosity was what won over her common sense when she had decided to run ahead of all the men storming down into the depths of the opera house. Oh if her mother could see her now! She'd be so disappointed!

Thankfully that night's performance - before the abrupt ending after Christine and The Opera Ghost sang together - required her to wear trousers, so it was easy to move swiftly through the dark corridors. Her heart was pounding in her chest as she ran towards the sound of shouting. "Go and leave me!" Surely that wasn't the men pursuing the phantom, so it must have been him! Why would he go to all those lengths to kidnap Christine if he was just going to let her go? It was many minutes before Meg came to a halt in a nicely lit area that looked as though it served as a living area. There was a bed, furniture, and even a massive organ that took up a large portion of the space. There were obvious signs of a struggle, but no sign of anyone left.

Something white caught the light in the room and Meg's eyes were drawn towards it. It was the mask Christine had pulled off the phantom! With trembling hands, Meg reached towards the chair it was resting on and picked it up. For a few moments she merely stood there stroking it almost lovingly before starting at the sound of men's voices coming from behind. As she turned, movement caught her eye and she saw a man escaping through a passage through a broken mirror. As if he realized eyes were upon him, the man turned towards her slowly, the right side of his face shrouded in shadows, and held a finger to his lips in a sign to be silent and with a sweep of his long cape he was gone. Meg gaped at him, but quickly gained her composure when a dozen or so men hurried into the room.

"H-he's gone!" She exclaimed. It certainly wasn't a lie – not yet at least. "I uh heard him Monsieurs, he was speaking to himself! He said he was going to take a carriage – one of the opera houses – and go to London! Surely he hasn't gone far; you must catch him before he escapes!" She wasn't sure why she had decided to lead them off his trail, but the plan worked perfectly. Generally her outburst would have been frowned upon or ignored, but under the circumstances, they'd take any lead they could get.

Once more the girl was left alone and with the mask clutched in her hand, she hurried into the passageway hidden behind the now broken mirror. It grew very dark once she left the illumination of the previous room – which was now hidden by a thick, dark curtain that seemed to be meant to hide the mirror that she pulled closed upon entering the hallway. The passage was very narrow and Meg could feel her chest tighten in fear as it felt like the walls were closing in around her. "Monsieur Phantom!" She called out in a hoarse whisper as she panted and kept moving forward. It was a slow progress because she couldn't see and held her arms out to trail across the cold stone. It felt as though this corridor would go on forever. Suddenly – with only a faint whisper of movement in the air – Meg felt the pressure of a noose against her neck. She gasped before it closed around her throat and she could hardly breathe.

"Didn't your mother tell you? Keep your hand at the level of your eye," his gruff voice sounded in her ear. She squirmed against him, but to no avail – he had her held tightly. "Ah-ah, stop your squirming, Mademoiselle it will do you no good." Holding the lasso with one hand and the other arm wrapped around her waist, the opera ghost pulled her with him further into the dark. Meg's heart thumped so loudly she was sure he could hear it and she felt bile rise in her throat out of fear. She hadn't expected this. It was foolish of her not to realize something like this would happen. He was a murderer and she had known it before she even came down there!

After many terrifying minutes of silence aside from the sound of their breathing and their feet scuffing against the floor, the phantom paused and released his grip on her waist in order to unlock a series of bolts on a door. Once unlocked, he pushed the door open and all but tossed Meg inside, skillfully removing the Punjab lasso and tucking it back into his cloak before she had even hit the floor. The room was shrouded in darkness, which only grew more oppressive when he slammed and locked the door behind him.

"P-please sir! Mother will be looking for me!" She exclaimed with tears burning in her eyes. He kept his back towards her and laughed darkly. It sent shivers down her spine.

"Perhaps, little Meg, you should have considered that before so thoughtlessly invading my domain with the rest of those fools," he replied, and with his back still facing away from her – not as though she could see him anyways – lit a few candles that were set on an end table in the room. Meg gasped as the room was illuminated. Unlike the previous room by the lake, this one was in impeccable condition. To her left was a large bed covered with dark scarlet sheets made of silk, from the dim light in the room it appeared as though an armoire rested against the wall, and the greatest shock came from the vanity table at the far end of the large room. On it were various displays for a multitude of masks. While she observed the room, the phantom – surely it was foolish to still call him this, but she knew no other name for the man – picked up a plain black mask off the vanity table and placed it on the right side of his face. He visibly relaxed and seemed to gain a bit of composure, but it was clear to Meg that something in him had snapped and it wouldn't take much to set him off. She feared what would happen if she did that.

Calmer than she was moments earlier, Meg slowly stood and approached the phantom. "Monsieur," she said softly to get his attention. He faced her and looked at her quizzically. She held out the mask she somehow managed not to drop in shaking hands. He reached towards it, but about halfway to her outstretched hand, she saw such anguish in his eyes she nearly teared up, and he quickly snatched it away from her and turned away to remove his other mask and place that one on. He preferred it out of all the others. Meg watched curiously after he placed the mask on his face. It seemed as though he was attempting to compose himself. Finally, the hands that had been clenched at his sides relaxed and he gazed at her tiredly.

"Why have you come here? Why lie for me? What is it you are seeking to gain from intruding upon my torment?" He asked wearily and sank into a comfortable looking chair. Meg was at a bit of a loss. She wasn't sure what happened before she got down there, but it obviously hadn't been good for the man. She stood awkwardly for a few moments before carefully perching on the edge of his bed.

"I-I'm not sure why I came down here . . . it's hard to explain . . . you'll think it's silly, but despite all the stories about you, I was worried for you. A man I hardly know! I don't know what to make of it myself. As for why I lied for you, I suppose it was a gut reaction. Those men had death in their eyes. I didn't mean to intrude though – I-I'm sorry, Monsieur . . ." she trailed off and wrung her hands in her lap, refusing to look at him for she was certain he would be laughing at her.

In truth, her answer surprised him, and at any other time he would have been far kinder than he was at that moment. Erik was practically drowning in self-pity and disgust for his loathsome self. "Yes well perhaps you shouldn't have meddled in affairs you know nothing of. You're merely a child sticking her nose where it does not belong! Perhaps I wanted to die!" He exclaimed in an angry burst but with tears burning in his eyes. Erik turned his face away from her.

"Monsieur! Do not say such things! Death is not something to be spoken of lightly!" Her arguments were all in vain though because he was too weary to listen.

"It does not matter now. All is gone – my love, my music, my very soul – despair is all the company I have now," he murmured, mostly to himself. Sympathy rose up in Meg and she reached her hand towards his cheek.

"You have me," she told him with a gentle smile. He glanced at her in shock, but did not comment. Instead, he got up and retrieved a woman's nightgown.

"Here," he said in a gruff tone and handed it towards her. The nightgown would be too long for Meg – it looked as though it was Christine's size – but she smiled gratefully. "You'll have to stay here for the night – if those brutes see you leaving from here they'll find me, and despite appearances, I do not enjoy killing," he remarked and then opened a door aside from the one they entered through that Meg hadn't noticed before. "Do not attempt to leave before I allow you to do so. I'll know and will be most . . . displeased." He went to step through the door, but Meg's voice halted him.

"Wait!" She called out. He sighed, but did not turn around. "Monsieur – what is your name?"

"You know my name."

"Monsieur, what I meant is – what is your real name? Surely you have one," she replied. Hopefully her question wouldn't send him into a rage. All Meg had heard about him from Christine is that her Angel of Music had a terrible temper, and it was best to avoid anything that would bring it out.

Unbeknownst to her, his expression clouded over with confusion. Had anyone ever asked him his name? Aside from Antoinette – whom assisted in deciding his name – he couldn't remember anyone ever bothering. Not even her. Christine did not care to ask his name. He should have realized all was doomed far before now. With tears burning in his eyes once more and sliding down his cheeks, he choked out an answer before practically throwing himself into the other room and slamming the door behind him. "Erik – my name is Erik," he had said with a voice that told Meg he was holding back a sob.

"Erik . . . it suits him," she mused to the now empty room. From the other side of the door, she heard the distinct sounds of muffled cries. Tears slid down her own cheeks from the pure brokenness in his despaired sobs. She rubbed the tears off her face before slipping off her dirty costume and putting on the nightgown. Meg couldn't help one last sympathetic gaze towards the door Erik had disappeared into before pulling back the covers of the bed and putting out the light from the candles. She felt that surely she'd never sleep after all that had happened, but Meg soon discovered that adrenaline was all that had kept her from falling over from exhaustion. Practically the second her head hit the pillow, she fell asleep – dreaming of masks and music.