New Year’s, 1871
“Why so silent, good monsieurs?” an unfamiliar male voice rang out over the crowd attending the Bal Masque.
Meg turned to look at the elegant figure, garbed as the Red Death from the American writer Poe’s tale. She noticed Christine growing pale, and her escort, the young Vicomte de Chagny, looking angry before dashing off to retrieve a weapon. Then her mother was at her side, gripping her arm firmly as she pulled her further into the shadows by the grand staircase. Still, Meg couldn’t help but watch the man claiming to be the Opera Ghost taunted Andre and Firmin. She rather thought they deserved it, as neither of them understood the first thing about properly running an opera house, nor did they wish to learn. Their main interests in L’Opera Populaire lay in the opportunity to become acquainted with the nobles who patronized the theatre, and in the opportunity to chase the chorus girls and dancers. Meg’s breath caught as the Phantom approached Christine. There was such passion in his voice and in his eyes as he looked at Christine, it astounded her that her friend seemed so afraid. Meg gazed wistfully at the man, intrigued by him, and wished he was looking at her instead. But when she started to move out from the shadows, her mother’s hand tightened on her arm, keeping her still.
“Don’t,” Mme. Giry whispered. “Better that you do not call attention to yourself.” Meg had to wonder if her mother knew something about the Opera Ghost that she was so determined they remain unseen.
The Phantom reached out to Christine, breaking the necklace she wore as he jealously proclaimed her as his and no one else’s. A heartbeat later, he stepped back and set off a burst of stage pyrotechnics, using the burst of flame to disguise his exit as he vanished through a cleverly hidden trapdoor.
Meg escaped the party as soon as she could. Her mind was filled with the image of a man in red, gazing at her with heated eyes. Her hand caressed her own breast as she imagined it was him touching her. She eventually dozed, only to dream of that elegant figure with the haunting voice.