When I woke up again – or rather; regained consciousness – I was completely clueless of what had happened for a moment. My head throbbed a little, my body felt unpleasant and I had no idea of where I was, but at least I was still alive. I wasn't even sure anymore why that was such a comfort, but somehow it did ease my anxiety and after a minute or two I finally opened my eyes.
Though my vision was tilted, it took me less than a second to realise I was in the auditorium, on the very edge of the stage in fact. Memories came rushing back and I sat up as my brains processed this new information. Surprise took a hold on me as the realisation dawned that it had been the Phantom. The Phantom of the Opera had saved me. But why? I wondered. I brushed a lock brown hair out of my face and tucked it behind my ear. At touching my face, I noticed the mask was gone and upon looking around me, I found it tossed aside, lying a few feet away from me. Images came flashing back. They'd called me Daaé, Christine Daaé. Yes, I now remembered clearly. But what was so special about that name again? I pinched the bridge of my nose out of frustration, as there was a part of me that simply knew those details were important. Another memory arose in the back of my mind, this one from a longer time ago. "'But then, one day he fell in love with one of the girls here. Maybe you've heard of her. Christine Daaé.'" That was it, it had to be. Well, fortunately for me I wasn't and apparently he had noticed in time, otherwise I might not have woken up on the stage, but in his secret hiding place, perhaps the same where he had once taken the real mademoiselle Daaé. I gently placed the mask back on my face and suddenly another realisation dawned on me. The masquerade. For how long had I been unconscious? I quickly got back on my feet and started running – as far as that was possible with the heels – towards the lobby. I prayed for the party not to have come to an end yet and when I reached the doors I finally came to an halt. I swiftly recomposed myself and, after a deep breathe, opened the door.
I let out a sigh. I should have known; on the way out, the music that came from the small orchestra had been audible throughout the entire opera house. On the road back, it had been eerily quiet in the hallways, but I had been too caught up in my own thoughts to really notice it.
'Excuse me,' I approached one of the musicians who was just securing his copper saxophone into a case. 'What time is it?'
He looked up from his cherished music instrument. 'Half past midnight, mademoiselle. The party's been over for half an hour.'
I nodded and thanked him, before I turned around and headed for the door. It was best to go back to the dormitories, to find the others and tell them I was alright. Adrienne would have probably gone mad by now.
I turned around and was surprised to find Anne standing there, a smile of relief spread across her face.
'Oh thank God,' I whispered and continued 'I went to the lobby, but they told me the party was over..'
'We've waited for you for a few more minutes, but then madame Giry sent us to the dormitories. What happened?'
I gazed at my feet, trying to come up with a believable lie. 'I.. don't know.' I said, which was not completely a lie. 'I fell and knocked my head. I don't know how long I've been unconscious, but when I woke up, I almost immediately went to the lobby.'
She nodded, though I was sure she'd noticed the gaps in my story. 'Come, let's go back to the dormitories, I'm sure the others will be as relieved as I was to see you are alright.' We made our way to the dormitories in silence, which only gave me more time to drown in my guilt. I hated lying and yet lately I seemed to be doing so more and more.
In the dormitories, we were met by an overly concerned Adrienne and a timid Meg, though I could even see a bit of concern in her eyes. Of course, Adrienne wanted to know what happened and so I repeated my lie. She, however, didn't seem to notice how fake it was and just lectured me about not having said goodbye to her brother. It was only now that I remembered Christophe Rousseau. How stupid of me to have completely forgotten about him in all the hassle. My head started aching of all the things that had happened and it suddenly occurred to me just how tired I really was. I curtly told the others I was going to sleep and made my way to my bed. As fast as I could, I washed the makeup off, brushed my hair and changed into my night gown. In the meanwhile, the others had retreated to their beds as well and I curled myself up beneath my blankets. When I closed my eyes, today's happenings replayed in my mind and I would have been asleep immediately, if it wasn't for a certain image that kept haunting me.
It had been on one of the last microseconds of consciousness. A man bent over me, his eyes burning with a deep, intense happiness. His fingers lightly touched my face as he removed the mask. His face fell. His eyes went cold. All went black.
pagebreak ~I woke to the gossiping of some of the ballerinas. With great effort, I opened my eyes and let out a sigh of exhaustion. My night had been plagued by memories and even when I'd finally fallen asleep, I did not find rest. Nightmarish creatures, horrifying images and grisly sounds had filled my dreams, as they had done many years ago. It was not the same, though, as the nightmares I used to have as a small child.
The setting had changed, characters had been added and I had found myself on the stage once more, haunted by shadows and whispers. Music had started and ghosts of dancers had appeared. As they danced, some passed right through me, but it only gave me a cold, empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. Suddenly, I'd felt a hand on my shoulder a turned swiftly. Two, cold, emotionless eyes stared at me from behind a black mask. That was when I'd woken up.
I brushed some strands of hair from my face and tried to calm my breath. Today's Sunday, I tried to distract myself, so I have the whole day to myself. Perhaps I can go to the library, read something and perhaps write a letter back to maman and papa. Yes, that's what I would do. Now, first put on a dress and go down for some breakfast. I rose from my bed, and quickly picked a simple dress from my closet. After I'd changed, tied my hair and washed my face, I headed for the dining room.
As I walked into the dining hall, I found it to be quite empty. Perhaps it was later than I thought, I mused. Looking around, I didn't see Adrienne, Anne or Meg and so I decided to grab myself a slice of bread with cheese to take with me to the library.
The Opera Populaire's library was definitely undervalued. Not that much was to be expected in an opera house, but it had always been completely empty whenever I came there. I, however, found it to be a quite restful place and tried to come there at least once a week.
After I'd found myself a table to sit on, I spread out a piece of paper and dipped my quill in the ink. 'Dear maman and papa,' I began once more in the most elegant handwriting I could muster. I stared at the paper for a moment or two. What was I going to write? I didn't feel well at all and I had nothing to tell them that would not upset them or make them worried. I laid down my quill and stared off in the distance. Yes, lately my life had been rather strange. I didn't even know what to make of it myself, with all the mystery. Suddenly, an idea popped up and I pulled out another piece of paper. I dipped my quill in the ink bottle again and started writing. 'Dear Phantom,
after what you did for me last night, I feel it is only fair that I will at least express my gratitude towards you. I do not know what turn events would have taken if you had not interfered and therefore I am deeply thankful.
I reread the letter and, being satisfied, folded it into an envelope. A second, I doubted whether or not to write his 'name' on the front, but I decided against it. If anyone else would find it, I wouldn't want them to gain suspicions. Alright, now the next question was; how would I deliver it to him? I mean, I could not drop it onto his bed like he had done with his letter to me. I didn't even know where he took residence.
The box. Yes, that is what I would do. I'd leave it in the box I'd seen him in that day at the performance. Wasn't that what one of the ballerinas had once been talking about? Something about his private box. I quickly gathered my things, blew out my candle and made my way to box five.
As was to be expected, I found the box – and the rest of the auditorium as well – completely empty of people. I waited until my eyes were adjusted to the darkness and then looked for a good spot to place my letter. At first, I wanted to drop it on the wooden side table, but I refrained from that idea, as I did not want anyone who'd peak inside the box find it. Perhaps on the chair itself, on the seat.
Carefully, I placed my envelop in the middle of the seat and then, contently, made for the door. However, before I could touch the heck, a voice startled me and almost made me lose my balance.
'Mademoiselle Fournier.. Madame Giry's promising talent and prima ballerina. Well, for a dancer you sure have a bad equilibration. And you're skinny, too skinny to ever carry out some of the dance steps required from what is to be expected of a prima ballerina.' He said in a criticizing sort of manner. 'Tell me, how old are you?'
'Seventeen, monsieur.' I answered quietly, my voice shaking with humiliation and fear.
'At your age, young mademoiselle Giry was already able to carry out the most complex dance routines perfectly. If you ever wish to achieve such a thing, you must train and train, instead of roaming corridors, sneaking into dressing rooms and singing songs that are not meant for shallow voices like yours. Madame Giry thinks you have potential, but all I see is another foolish young girl. Go.'
'Yes, monsieur.' I bowed my head and, quivering, made my way out of the box. What was worse, I did not know. The defamation itself, or the hateful manner in which he'd spat out the words as if I wasn't even worth the effort of saying them.
For a moment, I let myself rest against the wall as I tried to recollect myself. I bit my lip, trying as hard as I could to fight the tears back and taking deep breathes. After a few more moments of just standing there, I pushed myself up and quickly made my way towards the dormitories.
When I finally came in the hallway that the dormitories were in, a hand grabbed my arm and pulled me into the shadows. 'Shhhhh, it's just me,' Anne's voice said, as she noticed how I had frozen in fear. 'I've been looking all over for you. A man has been found on the stage. Angèlique, he was dead. Hanged.' She paused for a moment. 'Where were you last night?'
I am sorry for everyone that expected this to become sappy and expected the Phantom to become some sort of hero. He is not. That's what I tried to clear up with this chapter. He wouldn't have saved her - hell, he wouldn't have cared - if the men had not called her Christine and if she had not looked like Christine on first glance that night. I do feel sorry for my OC for being flamed like that, haha. Also, before any of you start thinking Angèlique is some sort of Christine look-a-like, she's not. But do keep on reading to find out what exactly is going on!