A/N: Hey everyone! Thanks for the interest in my story. I really loved reading all your reviews, so please send more in!
The next morning, when Christine awoke, she wondered if the whole thing had been a dream. She wouldn't have doubted it; she did have a rather active imagination. However, that thought was quickly dashed when she noticed the small bundle of papers at the foot of her cot. Immediately, she had known it had to be him, the Phantom. Christine quickly glanced around her, almost expecting him to be somewhere, in the distance perhaps. Then, she undid the small bit of twine that held the papers together. On top was a note on worn paper, the handwriting was rough and nearly illegible, but she managed to read it. For you, it said. It was signed by the Phantom, confirming what she had already knew. She set the note aside and began sifting through the pages. They were worn and scorched in some places, but she immediately knew what they were.This is music! Her father had carried a few, stuffed into the case of his violin. She had never been able to learn to read it, but it was unmistakable. How did he find these?
"Christine, you lazy bum! What are you still doing in bed, it's almost breakfast!" Meg teased, walking towards her. "Wait... What are those?" She asked, gesturing to the small stack of papers in her lap.
Christine looked up at her, bewildered. These were priceless. She had only spoken to him once... "They're music..." She replied, her gaze falling back down. Vaguely, she noticed that several people had stopped what they were doing to stare at her. Blushing slightly, she gathered the bundle up and retied it with the string, slipping it under her pillow. She tried to shrug off the looks, but she knew that they wouldn't be the last.
The day seemed to inch by so slowly after that, and Christine really couldn't be sure of how she felt. She found herself lost in thoughts in class, but instead of being scolded, the teacher gave her a look that resembled pity. That look only served to worry her even more. She was, by turns, excited and terrified. Every time one emotion took hold, she thought of a reason to bring the other into prevalence. She ate lunch in silence, detached from even Meg, who seemed to be growing more concerned by the minute. Christine tried her best to dodge all of her questions. She trusted Meg, truly, but she didn't know how she would react to the information.
Soon enough, Mrs. Giry appeared, tapping her lightly on the shoulder. Christine took a deep breath, scooping up the collection of papers from under her pillow. Meg gave her mother a confused glance, but the two were gone before she could ask any questions. Christine tried to calm her nerves, knowing that she wouldn't be able to sing if she was too anxious. Mrs. Giry led her down a set of stairs and through a small hallway. Down here, it was silent, peaceful. There was no noise or clatter or voices, and Christine finally felt calm down. Mrs. Giry gave a silent nod, not having said a word the whole time, before departing. Christine slipped into the room at the end of the hall. It was dimly lit, with only one uncovered light bulb hanging from the ceiling. She almost expected him to be there in the room, and she briefly looked around, finding nothing. Sighing, she clutched the papers to her chest and waited for him to reveal himself.
"So, you came." He finally spoke, his voice betraying no hint of emotion. If he was pleased, she wouldn't know.
She nodded, having given up on trying to understand where he truly was, or how he made it seem like his voice was everywhere. It was easier just to accept it. "It was always my dream that I could be a singer, like in the old days... That's never going to happen, but if this is as close as I can get, then I'll take it."
A bit of bitterness and resentment crept into his tone, though Christine had a feeling it wasn't actually directed at her. "Even if you have to associate with me to do so?"
"Well, no, that's not what I meant-" She tried to explain, in case he had taken offense. She wasn't technically over her fear of him, mind you.
He cut her off with a sigh. "I know, my dear. Now, I see you have the papers I sent you. What did you think?"
She looked down at the package in her arms, having honestly forgotten them. "Oh! I loved them, really... The only problem is that I don't know how to read music..." They were a treasure, and briefly she wondered if he'd be disappointed that she couldn't use them.
"No matter. I can teach you; it is a relatively simple thing, but you will need much practice before you are able to do it easily." His voice was soft and casual. "Do you know any songs currently? We could start with that to warm up."
Once again, she worried that she was inadequate. He said that he was interested in her because of her voice and interest in music, but what if that wasn't enough? What if he became disinterested at her lack of experience and decided to leave? This was the closest she had ever gotten to her dream, to true happiness, and she wasn't sure she could handle losing it. "Sort of... I don't know the words, but I know the melodies of a few songs my father taught me when I was younger... Though I can't guarantee I remember them correctly."
"Will you sing it for me, then? I will see if I can catch the melody." She nodded, standing up straight before she began to sing what she could remember. At first, she was reluctant, but grew slightly more confident as she progressed. The song was light and airy, and brought back so many wonderful memories. She finished, and the room almost seemed brighter than it had before.
"That was once a very famous song," he explained, seeming pleased. "Unfortunately it has almost been forgotten." He sighed. "I do know it, however. The lyrics do not matter at this point in time. Your memory is very good, but there were a few notes off. Here, let me show you." At once, the sound of a bow against the strings of a violin was heard. Christine never expected to hear that sound again, not after her father had been forced to sell his. She smiled, immediately, and he seemed to pause. "What is it?" He inquired softly.
"It's nothing, I just... I can barely believe this is happening... I never thought music would be more than a dream I had to hid, to ignore. And that you would make it all happen..." She sighed, content. "Thank you." She said earnestly. It was then that she decided that he wasn't the Phantom, not truly.
Christine was sure that if she could have seen him, he would have been smiling. "You're welcome, my dear." He replied, before beginning to play again.
The rest of the lesson went by quickly, much faster than Christine would have liked. Just as she was about to leave, she paused by the door. "Is there something else I can call you?" She questioned. She didn't want to call him the Phantom, not after how kind he had been today. It just didn't seem right.
He paused for a moment, seemingly deciding if he could trust her. Eventually, he responded. "My name is Erik." He didn't have to tell her not to spread it around, she already knew. With that, she gave a small nod and headed out the door.
For the next week, Christine felt as if she was in a dream. Every day she woke, had a few short hours of class, and after lunch was able to sing until the evening bell. Still, the joy she felt came with a bit of trepidation. She knew that somehow, it would end. Life had never been kind to her, so she had a feeling of approaching sorrow. It first came through in the not so subtle looks of the others gave her, the things they whispered when they thought she was out of earshot, but she tried to tell herself that it wouldn't bring her down. That it wasn't enough to kill her dream. But truly, it hurt. They were supposed to be a family here, protecting each other... And yet in their jealousy they had all turned on her without a second thought.
The worst of it came after another one of Erik's gifts. She had woken up to find a beautiful blue dress draped over the edge of her cot. Examining it, she had been amazed. Most everyone wore the same style of outfits, varying colors of white, gray or brown. Clothes were always handed down the generations and while they were efficient, they were never pretty. To find a dress like this was was a bit too large for her, and the hem was frayed slightly, but other than that, it was in good condition. It had a high waist and a long, loose skirt that swooshed with every step she took. Immediately, she fell in love with it, but it seemed that it was the last straw for the others.
"Well, it looks like the Phantom wanted to dress up his little pet." Someone behind her mocked. Christine was in line for breakfast, and though her cheeks flushed in anger and embarrassment. She tried to ignore it; they didn't matter.
"Yeah! I guess it's not hard to see what they're doing all that time..." His friend added, elbowing him playfully.
Christine took a deep breath, turning to face them. Sex outside of marriage was considered a rather large offense, not exactly because of any code of values, but because you were going against the rules and order of the Colony. "We just sing." She insisted, her voice cold.
"Sing?" The boys laughed, one of them coming closer to her, looming over her. All around people had stopped what they had been doing, looking on. Most seemed amused, and only a few seemed horrified. "I'd certainly like to 'sing' with you..." He propositioned, making his meaning very clear. Christine tried to step back, but he grabbed her arm hard. Fear coursed through her and tears were forming in her eyes, so much that she didn't even notice that Raoul had come up next to them.
"Stop." He ordered, his tone low and serious.
The boy merely laughed in response. "Oh, sorry. I forgot she was yours. Of course, I'm not sure why you'd want her now..." He pushed Christine away harshly, sending her to the ground. The crowd that had been watching in anticipation dispersed, going back to whatever they had been doing before.
Raoul bent down, helping Christine up. "Are you alright?" He asked gently.
A few of her tears had spilled over, but still she nodded. "Y-Yes..." She replied faintly. Without any warning, she through herself into his arms, sobbing into his shoulder. It was all so very unfair... She had found some sort of happiness and everyone wanted to rip it away from her. Raoul said nothing more, merely held her as she cried. After a moment, she pulled away, wiping her tears. "I-I'm sorry..." She offered quietly, staring at the floor.
"No, it's alright, Christine... You have nothing to apologize for." She lifted up her head to his eyes, and he smiled warmly at her. The bell rang, signaling the end of breakfast and the beginning of class. Raoul pulled away, expecting her to follow, but she didn't. She couldn't, not now. She couldn't face everyone staring at her, judging her. She gave Raoul a sad smile before leaving, and hurrying to the room that she and Erik used for their lessons. She didn't expect him to be there yet, but it was away from everyone else and that was what she needed.
To her surprise, he did come, but his response was not one she had expected. She had thought that he might comfort her, or at the very least simply get right into their lesson. She didn't expect him to be so angry.
"Who was that boy?" The temperature seemed to drop in the room a few degrees as he spoke.
She blinked, confused. Her eyes were still puffy and red from crying. "I-I don't know... He just started insulting me..."
"No. Not that one. The other boy. The one you embraced."
"He's... He's Raoul." She explained, not knowing why it mattered. "He's my fiance."
He made no response for a moment, and when he did, it offered no explanation for the way he was acting. "I see."
Christine dropped her head into her hands, trying to fight the urge to cry. She had come here to escape from it all, and yet her tutor offered her no comfort. He seemed to soften at this, and his tone was much lighter when he spoke next. "I apologize. I can see today has been difficult, and I promise you nothing like this will ever happen again. Now, would you like to sing?"
She nodded, though something still wasn't right with him. Still, she knew if anything could make her feel better it would be music. The sound of his violin resonated throughout the room, and she began to sing.
Even though the rest of the lesson went well, Christine indeed knew that her dream had died. The next morning, the boy that had terrorized her earlier also received a gift; a noose had been left across the foot of his cot.