The whip cracked over the boy's back, causing him to scream in pain. He tried to get away from his abuser, earning him another lash. Onlookers laughed at his agony, remarking that such a monster deserved it. They threw coins to his master who collected them greedily.
His torture complete, at least for the moment, he crawled to the corner of his cage and curled into a ball, hiding his face in his hands. Tears of pain and humiliation slide down his cheeks. Scars crisscrossed his back as well as the fresh cuts from this and other recent whippings. The rest of his body was covered in bruises and other wounds from his regular beatings. Half of his face was severely deformed, which caused the jeers of the crowd.
Eventually the mass of people began to dissolve. Now that the whipping was done, there was nothing left for them to see. There was no entertainment left for them. The boy reached out and quickly pulled on the sack that he used to hide his face. His master spat at him in disgust before beginning to count the coins he had received.
The boy looked over and spotted a rope that had been kicked near his cage. Without attracting his master's attention, he was able to grab it. He quickly tied it into a noose. There was no way he could stand this any longer. He leaped onto the back of his master and threw the rope around his neck. The man roared as the boy pulled the rope tight.
After about a minute, the man collapsed. The boy stood there for a moment, stunned at what he had just done. Looking up when he heard a gasp, he realized in horror that a girl from the crowd was still here. His master's cry had drawn attention and one of the other gypsies appeared in the doorway. The boy was frozen with fear and remained motionless until there was a tug on his arm.
"Come with me," the girl hissed. "Now." She pulled him out of the tent into the streets of Paris. The two fled, running from the pursuing gypsies. They ran through the city, hand in hand, trying to avoid being caught.
The girl led him to a large building, opened a low window, climbed through, and helped him in after her. They panted, trying to catch their breath as the gypsies ran past the building. "I think they're gone," she whispered. "You'll be safe here."
"Who are you?" he demanded, speaking for the first time.
"My name is Antoinette Giry. What's yours?"
He hesitated, not used to being able to trust people, especially strangers. "Erik," he replied simply. "My name is Erik."
"It's nice to meet you," she said with a smile.
Distrust flashed across his face. He obviously was also not used to people acting friendly towards him. He glanced around the room. "Where are we?"
"The Opera Populaire."
"Javert! Javert! Are you alright?"
Gasping for air, his hand was at his neck, tenderly touching the bruises that were forming there, marks from the rope. He glared at the new arrival, his eyes glowing with fury. "Where is that bastard?! I'm going to kill him the second I get my hands on that monstrosity! Devil's Child or no, he will die. No one tries to kill me and gets away with it."
"He's escaped Javert."
"We're looking everywhere, but he's just vanished!"
Javert threw him out of the tent. "Find him or it'll be your neck instead!"
"It's in your soul where the true distortion lies," she had sung. Staring in her wide, fearful eyes, Erik realized she was truly terrified of him, and nothing he could do would ever change that. The fop with the noose around his neck didn't help his case at all.
She cautiously approached him. He stood motionless, unsure of her intentions. Slowly she leaned in and timidly pressed her lips against his. When they broke apart he studied the frightened girl before him.
Erik spun around to face the Vicomte. "Take her, forget me, forget all of this," he ordered. "Leave me alone. Forget all you've seen. Go now don't let them find you, Take the boat. Swear to me, never to tell. The secret you know of the angel in Hell. Go now! Go now and leave me!"
The Vicomte tried to take her away the second he was untied, but she slowly approached Erik. "Christine I love you," he admitted, hoping she would change her mind.
Unfortunately he wasn't that lucky. She placed the diamond ring in his hand and pushed it back towards him. "Goodbye Erik," she murmured softly before returning to her lover.
His heart breaking, he watched helplessly as the couple fled. Once they were out of sight, he cried out in pain. "It's over now, the Music of the Night!" Disgusted by his face, the one thing that had constantly ruined his life, Erik grabbed a heavy candlestick and began to smash the glass mirrors in his home.
When there was nothing left for him to break, he ran down a secret passage to escape from the mob that was calling for his blood. It was time for him to disappear into the shadows once more.
"I don't see why I can't go!" she shouted.
"Because a gypsy fair is no place for a girl of your age!" her father responded sharply.
"I'm fifteen not five! I'm not a little girl anymore!" she protested. "How come Fredrick was allowed to go if I'm not?"
"One: he's nineteen. Two: he did not ask for permission to go. Had he asked, he would not have been allowed either. Gypsies are nothing but thieves and crooks. The last thing we need is for you two to go waltzing in and getting taking advantage of."
"Please!" she pleaded. "Everyone else has gone! Please let me go, even if it's just for an hour!"
"Absolutely not! Your mother agrees with me. It's not a suitable place for young women!"
She crossed her arms. "She's not my mother. Just because you got remarried doesn't mean she automatically replaces my real mother."
"This is not the time or the place for that discussion," he snapped, getting sick of having this fight with her. "But you are not going to that fair and that's final!"
"We'll see about that," she murmured so that her father couldn't hear.
Later that night, she silently snuck out the door. She didn't like directly disobeying her father, but she was curious. She didn't plan on staying long, just enough to look around. Besides it was late enough, no one would be out so she wouldn't even be caught.
As she approached the fair, she heard footsteps behind her. She turned around and spotted a young gypsy man following her. "Well, well, well what do we have here?"
She backed into something solid. "It looks like we have a little lost bird sneaking around. What do you think we should do with her?" She whirled around and saw another boy. He grabbed her arms and threw her against a tree. He leaned in and hissed in her ear, "Because I think I have a couple of ideas." He reached out and began to fondle her breasts.
"No," she begged as he continued to grope her. "Please, no. Don't do this. I…I was just leaving. Let me go and we'll pretend this never happened." She tried to push him away, but the other boy seized her wrists.
"Oh come on now, let's have a little fun. Isn't that why you came, looking for excitement? We're only giving you what you want."
This was why her father didn't want her here, she realized. These boys were going to rape her and there was nothing she could do about it. She struggled in vain as she tried to escape. "Let me go!"
"What's going on?" another, much deeper voice asked. A large gypsy man emerged from the darkness of the woods. "What are you boys doing out here?"
"Please, let me go," she whimpered. "I just want to go home!"
The boys quickly released her. "Javert, we were….just…"
His eyes traced her body. She wrapped her arms around herself protectively, trying to hide herself from his wandering gaze, not trusting him. "Have these boys hurt you?" he asked as he approached her.
"N…No," she stammered. "I…I was just on my way home. My father will be getting worried. I need to go now."
"Go back now," he ordered the two boys. They disappeared without another word. The man called Javert placed his hand on her shoulder with an iron grip that left no room for her to escape. "Why don't you come back to camp with me, so I can offer you a proper apology for their vulgar behavior."
She shook her head. "I'm fine, really. Just let me go home."
"Look at you. Such a pretty girl just happens to stumble upon our little camp, and you think you can just walk out. Just because they aren't going to touch you, doesn't mean that I'm not."
His breath reeked of alcohol as he crushed his mouth against hers. She twisted her head away. "Oh God, please let me go!" He began dragging her towards the camp, ignoring her pleas. She sobbed as he pulled her into a tent with the faded words Devil's Child on it. All that was inside was an empty cage. Javert threw her to the ground inside it, before locking the door and standing over her.