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No Virginal Sacrifice

By Naomi Hammon

Drama / Romance

Default Chapter

-Author's Note-

This is my first phantom phiction... despite the fact that I've attempted at one several times. Constructive criticism, suggestions, encouragement, and praise are welcome. Just remember to be gentle! The grammar is rough because each chapter was posted on the same week as it was written. I admit to needing an editor.

This phiction is 'movie based' with some Susan Kay influence. (He spent some time in Persia, instead of stalking little Christine in her sleep.) I have given Erik a better reason for killing Joseph Buquet that he was just upset over Christine not being cast in the lead of the countess in Il Muto.

Because this phiction is movie-based instead of Leroux or Kay, I have added something different (at least it is different than most other phan phics) by researching what was happening in Paris in 1870-71. The movie makers blundered terribly by setting the story in 1870 because the Paris Opera wasn't completed until 1875. I found all kinds of true historical events that would have impacted the lives and conversations happening at the time, such as the uprising of the Paris Commune, a early communist organization influenced by Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels in March of 1871.

This story is written by a mother/daughter writing team together known as Shye Marek.

Meg gasped as she stepped into the cold water. It filled her boots and soaked through her trousers. She shivered. After the initial shock of the stark coldness wore off a bit, she looked about her surroundings. Stone steps led out of the water to, what looked like, an elaborate and meticulous music room. A multiple number of ivory candles lit the stone cellars. At one side of the room, sketches on paper draped over an oak table and scattered over the stone floor. Meg recognize many of the drawings as her best friend Christine.

"He's not here!" She said to the men who had followed her.

"The coward is hiding..." said a short, bald stagehand.

Meg climbed up the stairs, out of the water. She stared into the broken mirrors, fragmenting her reflected image. Lightly, she touched the glass. Here in the phantom's lair, she felt whelmed by a feeling of sadness. Drawing back a heavy, brown curtain, Meg stepped into it's hidden entrance. A white mask lay on the floor, glowing faintly in the darkness. She picked it up. Warmth lingered in the soft leather. Footsteps echoed. Startled, Meg spun around. The shadow of a figure disappeared through the narrow, damp tunnel. The sound of water trickling through the stones distorted the sound of footsteps ahead of her. She began to run, light on her toes. In the distance, she could see light reflecting off of the walls of the tunnel. The corridor changed direction and Meg sensed that she was no longer in the Opera House. The tunnel was crude, with a different kind on stone work than the Paris Opera House boasted. Meg pressed on, apprehensive and yet compelled beyond her own courage. Turning a corner, she slammed into a wall, only it wasn't made of stone. Meg stumbled backward, staring at the wall of a man she'd stumbled into.

"You found me. Now what?" his voice graveled. "Your little adventure ends here. Go back while you still can!"

"What do you mean?" Meg tried to sound indifferent to his threat, but her voice trailed off in uncertainty.

"I don't know what you're after or why you think your going to get it, but this is no place for you. Go back to your mother, Little Meg, and forget whatever curious little prank you're up to!"

"This is yours." She said, reaching her hand forward to give him the mask.

He hesitated but took it from her wordlessly.

The lantern did little to reveal his features, but Meg could make out the determined outline of his chin.

"It is not safe for you here. You must return!" He was angry. But somehow Meg didn't expect anything less.

"No. I want to help you." But even as she said the words, she knew he did not want her help. For years, she had heard tales of the phantom and spread a few stories of her own. Tonight, she finally got to see the legend, himself. He was tall and looked very strong. He glided gracefully across the stage in his performance in 'Don Juan Triumphant', a musical he had written. He was confident and majestic. His voice stirred something in her. It was like nothing she had heard before. It was powerful, yet held a hint of tenderness.

"Help me?" He laughed, heartlessly. "Or are you trying to save your friend and her swain with a virginal sacrifice?" His form towered over her. "I'm sorry to say, but you're too late. They left safely and will, no doubt, live happily ever after. Now leave me the devil alone!" Agitated, he put his mask on, tying it in the back. He turned to walk away. Meg touched him on the arm to stop him.

"I..." She was at a loss of words.

"What do you want?" he hissed.

She wanted to apologize. She was sorry she screamed when she first saw his face. She was sorry her mother had led the viscount to the phantom's lair. She was sorry almost half of Paris was after him. She was sorry Christine had hurt him so bad and so publicly.

"Miss Giry? Where are you?" She heard a burly voice drift from a distance.

"Perfect!" The phantom cursed under his breath. He grabbed her by the arm, dragging her with him as he made his way through the winding, never ending tunnels.

"Let me go!" was her hushed plea.

"Yes, I'll let you go and you'll rush to the authorities..." He stopped for a moment and looked her straight in the eye. "You had your chance."

The phantom dragged her through many tunnels. It was a maze. Some tunnels had tracks where pony drawn carts carried coal or stone quarried from under the city to create underground passages. Others were narrow and barely big enough for single passage.

Sounds of life echoed eerily though the chiseled corridors. Muffled voices, crying and laugher mixed with the sound of steel on stone betrayed human presence. An inhuman cry sent chills down her spine. It could have been a cat, a very large cat, or maybe a horse. Once she thought she saw a face illuminated by the lantern in another dark passage. A condemned soul who existed in an underworld suspended between earth and hell. Meg felt dizzy from all the turns they made. She gasped for breath as her foot caught on a loose rock, causing her to fall forward. Her hands slapped against the wet floor. He waited for her to get on her feet, and led them up a flight of stairs that led to a large wooden door.

"Where are we?" Meg whispered. He didn't answer. After turning the latch didn't open the door, he kicked it open. Holding the lantern stretched out in front of him, he cautiously stepped inside.

Meg timidly followed him. Their shadows flickered across room. The brick walls reflected golden hues from the lantern. The room was surprisingly large. A heavy trunk occupied a corner next to a cupboard on the her right. A wooden table stood in the middle of the room, accompanied by two sturdy chairs that faced each other. A large washtub and chamber pot were positioned at the far corner from the cupboard.

The man she'd come to think of as "the phantom" set the lantern in the middle of the table, then turned to look at her.

"Those bounty hunters will probably be gone by morning. You can stay here for the night or you can run and try to find a way out. If you think you can wait a few hours, I'll lead out of here." He took a chair and dragged it by the door, then sat down.

"Where am I to go?" asked Meg. Her home was burning down at this very moment. She didn't know where her mother was or if she was safe.

"That is not my problem." His voice held an eerie calm.

Meg nervously bit her lip as she paced the amply-sized room. His presence was not the thing that twisted her insides with worry and anxiety. Her nerves' frenzy was caused by the fact she was of now a homeless waif!

Her boots rhythmically scraped the floor, from one side of the room to the other and back again.

"Would you desist?" He tilted back in his chair and glared at her.

"Sorry." She sat down on the remaining chair. A fatigued sigh left her lips. Several moments passed before Meg could not take another second of silence. "So..." What was she supposed to say? To the phantom? It was possible this was the first time she didn't know what to say, not to mention the first time she's had her mouth shut for five minutes or more. "What's your name?"

He stared at her for awhile before he answered, curtly. "Erik."

Meg looked at him expectantly.

"Just Erik. No title, surname or honors!"

"Oh." She said in a small voice. Knowing that he'd been denied his father's name, was something she felt uncomfortable knowing. It didn't change anything particularly, but she felt that in some strange way, he was testing her.

An awkward silence almost crackled with the energy that vibrated between them. Meg racked her brain for something to say that would break the tension that threatened to suffocate her.

"Be useful and make some tea." Erik said the resonance of his voice shattering the quiet and making her jump with the suddenness of it all.

Meg looked around. What would she use for heat? She went to the cupboard and looked inside. There was bread, fruit and cheese. She found some candles in a tin, practical holders, nothing like the elaborate ones in his quarters under the Opera House. She lit two and looked about the room again in hopes that a fireplace would materialize in her interest.

"What would I use for heat?" Meg asked reluctantly.

"Oh, yes." He said rising. "I will provide for our little nest." His eyes mocked her. He reached into the cupboard and produced a raised trivet with a fat candle holding three wicks beneath  a ceramic tea pot. Meg watched as he poured water from a pitcher into the teapot and lit the candle from the lantern he'd carried there. She felt helpless and stupid. She could have done it, but, of course, she'd always had a stove and a kettle to boil water. "It will take a little longer this way but we're not in a hurry. Are we?" He seemed to deride her even with the simple task of making tea.

She shook her head. It was then she remembered her trousers were still wet and she shivered. However, the tomb of a room also seemed uncharacteristically warm and dry.

Erik must have been reading her thoughts. "We're a few feet under a Chinese laundry. They keep a boiler going day and night."

"In Paris?" She regretted the words as soon as they escaped her mouth. It fed his assumption that she was stupid and didn't know anything beyond her world in the opera house.

"What is your surprise? The fact Parisians get their clothes washed or that they exploit cheap Chinese labor?"

"I didn't mean..." Meg broke off. She really wasn't sure what she meant.

"You are going to be sorry if you don't get those wet clothes off. You might find something in that trunk over there." Erik said.

"What about you? You are just as wet as I am."

"There's a pair of clean trousers and some ladies garments as well." He didn't give an explanation of why he had women's clothing in the trunk. Meg suspected that he meant them for Christine.

The trunk yielded forth other comforts as well: a large feather tick mattress, woolen blankets, two small velvet pillows, a hair brush and mirror, two silk dressing robes and the promised clothing. The dress was a frothy creation of blue silk and white lace. It made Meg think of the ocean with the sky's reflection and white waves. It was a fashionable ensemble with a hat to match. The lacy skirt fitted over an underskirt with tiny knife pleats. The bodice flared over the hip accentuating a tiny waist. Tiny covered buttons formed a single row up the front. The lapel opened to reveal a lace dicky. The sleeves were long and fitted with three tiny buttons near the wrist. It was too perfect. Meg couldn't bring herself to put it on. It was just the kind of thing that Christine would have liked. There were silk undergarments, stockings, and shoes dyed to match the dress.

She opted for the robe. It was burgundy with a great scarlet falcon with wings spread and claws forward emblazoned on the back. Flowers and berries adorned the front. It was smaller than the black one that featured a blue wolf on the back and snow cover evergreen boughs. Red velvet slippers with soft leather soles were packed under the robe. She took comfort that Christine would have never chose either robe for herself, therefore she wasn't intruding as much. Feeling like an intruder, she hesitated, and clutched the robe to her chest. She glanced at Erik.

" I won't watch, if that's what is worrying you." He said, a teasing note in his voice.

It was the first indication that he was beginning to relax at all. He'd been so angry and intense. He'd frightened her but her pride wouldn't allow her to let on. If she thought about it too much, it would make her sick. But the man who stood looking at her now was a long way from the monster that haunted the opera house. If Erik had actually killed Joseph Bouquet, she would have not blamed him. Joseph Bouquet was a dangerous man and the Meg had been warned by her mother to never be alone with him. The other girls had also recited incidents that he had groped them inappropriately. He had been a disgusting character and he'd frightened her more than the "Opera Ghost." She wouldn't discount that Joseph had committed suicide and done so in the most devastating performance possible. He'd always seemed unstable. She didn't want to think of Erik as a cold-blooded killer. She'd been stupid to follow him here. But he'd been an unseen presence in her life. She'd been vaguely aware of him in the opera house and never felt that she was in any danger. The stories that circulated, were of dubious sources and in most cases impossible to prove. She'd invented some of her own. Only in the most recent weeks had anything transpired that could be directly blamed on the 'Opera Ghost.'

"I will leave you to change." He said softly. Something had changed. He'd sounded hurt. It was as though he'd read her thoughts of distrust. She heard the door open and close. He was gone.

She quickly removed the wet trousers and boots. Her underclothes and shirt were still clean and dry. The robe was full and loose, and offering plenty of coverage when tied with the wide sash. A sigh escaped her lips as she slid her sore feet into the slippers. The soft velvet caressed her feet.

The water on the trivet had started to boil. Steam puffed vigorously from the spout. She located a towel to protect her hand and removed the lid to the teapot. She measured some tea into the palm of her hand before adding it to the boiling water. She blew out the candle beneath the trivet and replaced the lid. The cupboard rendered two cups and saucers, another reminder that Christine was supposed to be here.

Meg was sitting down, brushing her hair when Erik returned. He opened the door and stopped suddenly as though he was surprised to see her. The mask did nothing to hide his undisguised bewilderment. He'd probably forgotten that she wasn't Christine and seeing her was a shock, Meg decided.

She'd sliced some of the bread and cheese and placed it on the table with the fruit and tea. He closed the door and slid the bolt into place. He seemed a little unsure of himself as he walked to the cupboard, poured some water into a bowl and washed his hands before sitting down across from her.

Meg poured tea. She watched him from under lowered lashes. He appeared uptight, and avoided looking at her as he drank his tea.

It occurred to her for the hundredth time since she ventured down into the cellars of the opera house, she should be terrified. But aside from the hollow sensation in her stomach, she felt strangely alive. How could she explain what she felt watching the scene from "Don Juan Triumphant" when Erik held Christine in his arms and in his superb tenor voice declare his feelings. Everyone knew that he had written the music for her. Meg fought the green monster of envy and lost. She'd screamed when Christine ripped off his mask, though she was less disturbed by Erik's deformity than Christine's heartless treason. For years now, Christine had habitually disappeared for hours at a time and never once given the real reason for her absence. Meg found it forgivable that Christine had kept her secret, even from her best friend, but unforgivable that she had turned traitor to a man who had risked so much for her. Meg had never even dared hope that such a man existed, who would risk everything for her. Her motivation for following Erik was not entirely clear to her.

She briefly thought of, when she was young, how she'd chased a kitten down into the cellars that been wounded in a rattrap. It ran until it collapsed from exhaustion. Helpless to do anything for it, she held it in her arms til it died. Was she being foolish again to think that she could heal the wounds that had been inflicted on this man?

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