Daydreaming of the Night
"Think of me, think of me fondly
When we've said goodbye."
As La Carlotta's beautifully trained voice poured over the nearly empty opera hall, Clarie could feel her thoughts begin to drift away. Towards the better times; towards the worse times. It happened so naturally that her fingers did not even seem to notice and continued to move.
"Remember me, once in a while
Please promise me you'll try
Then you'll find that once again you long
To take your heart back and be free
If you ever find a moment
Spare a thought for me."
Clarie couldn't help it. The song forced her to remember.
"Clarie! Look how much you have grown!" the Comte de Chagny greeted warmly as he placed a kiss on her hand.
"Thank you, Monsieur," the newly orphaned fifteen year old, Clarie Mercier, said quietly to her cousin and new guardian.
"Wonderful," the slightly aged man said with a smile. Gesturing to the younger man behind him, who was only vaguely familiar to Clarie, he said, "Mademoiselle Clarie, I am sure you remember your cousin Raoul."
Raoul, a handsome young man who was a few years older than Clarie, nodded at her. "Mademoiselle," was his short greeting. She returned it with one similar as they walked from the station.
Though Clarie was quite content to sit in silence when they were in the carriage, the Comte de Chagny kept talking, forcing her to reply.
"I am so sorry to hear about your parents, my dear," he was saying. "They were such loving souls. But rest assured, Miss Clarie, I will make sure you are taken care of."
"Yes, Monsieur," Clarie had muttered absently.
"I heard you play the violin, do you not?" the Comte persisted.
"Yes, Monsieur," Clarie said without a flicker of interest. She despised her violin these days. In fact, she despised any kind of music. It was far too painful for her to think about.
"Excellent!" the Comte all but cheered. This pried a reaction from Clarie as she raised an eyebrow, wondering where indeed she was going to live.
"Stop! Stop! Stop! Mademoiselle Mercier!"
The conductor so startled Clarie that she practically threw her violin to the ground. She looked up at Monsieur Fontaine in wide-eyed astonishment.
"Mademoiselle," the red faced director huffed, "this is the third time this week that I have caught you not paying attention! The show is tonight! Do you really want to ruin it for everyone with your idiotic daydreaming?"
Clarie's face burned bright red. "Forgive me, Monsieur," she said hurriedly, "it won't happen again."
"You had better see that it doesn't," the stocky man replied, puffing hot air through his large, steaming nose. "I am sure we can find another first violinist if need be."
He couldn't. Everyone knew it was impossible. Clarie was one of the few, and perhaps the most skilled, violinists for cities all around. With this information in mind, Monsieur Fontaine seemed to grow all the more indignant.
"From the top of 'Think of Me!'" he cried, rocketing his hands into position. "This time, just Mademoiselle Clarie."
Every instrumentalist turned their heads to look at Clarie, who at this point had turned a dark shade of pink, her face burning with humiliation. Gulping nervously, she complied and lifted her violin to her chin. She was determined not to make a complete fool of herself.
Monsieur Fontaine's hands began to move, and so did Clarie's.
What happened next was a shock to everyone.
Her skilled fingers slid forward and backwards in a sort of hypnotic way, the bow pushing across her violin, and then back. In one moment it would look like she was barely touching the instrument, and the next she would go to a crescendo. The music was sweet, and soft, and heartbreaking. Somehow managed to take the song-which most of the orchestra was sick of hearing after so many practices-and complete transform it.
The lyrics whispered from her violin, as if the prima donna herself were in it. A whisper it was, a murmur, unsaid words which had turned to ashes so long ago. Just with the song, she turned her heart full of ashes into a blazing fire again; and it was so beautiful that one might have wondered if she had plans to burn down the opera with a mere instrument.
It was as if an angel had taken possession of her violin.
Remember me, once in a while
Please promise me you'll try
Clarie closed her eyes and plunged head first into her daydreams.
Erik had been on his way to Christine's dressing room when he heard her.
Or her violin, as he was now finding out.
But…that couldn't be right, could it? He was astonished. How could a simple instrument sound so like an angel? It might have even been comparable. But as he watched this girl play-dark haired and quite lovely despite her youthful years-he found that he could not put a name to the face. And how could he? He never paid any attention to the orchestra.
So why was he now?
The music stopped, and the large conductor cleared his throat.
"Very well done, Mademoiselle Clarie," he said, sounding a bit irritable at her ability. Erik smiled faintly from his shadowy spot in the empty box five. So her name was Clarie.
"I think that ends practice," the director continued, "get some rest before tonight's rehearsal."
Erik's smile faded, replaced by a look of thoughtfulness. He watched as the musician with the brown curly hair disappear behind the curtain. She was intriguing, that was for sure.
He resolved to keep a close eye on her.