When I woke up the following morning, I was delighted by the sight that met my eyes; The room was spacious and royally decorated with furniture and art. In one wall opposite of the door there was a grate, surrounded by a pair of comfortable looking chairs and a sofa. In another, stood the wardrobe and yet another seemed to function as a study area, complete with writing desk, bookcase and reading lamp. But the thing which had really brought the smile on my face, were the white flakes that were tumbling down outside my window.
I was quickly on my feet and made my way towards the large window frame. After opening the curtains completely, my breath was completely taken away by the wonderful view. The entire garden, from the front steps until the hedges at the far edges of the garden, was covered with a thick layer of snow.
For how long I had been standing there, marveling at the view, I do not know, but suddenly there was a knock on the door.
'Who's there?' I called out, absent-mindedly.
The door opened and an unfamiliar girl stepped into my room and curtsied. 'It's Nadine, mademoiselle. I was sent here to inform you that breakfast will be in half an hour.' With that, she turned, but I stopped her before she had a chance to leave the room by grabbing hold of her arm softly.
'What am I supposed to wear?'
pagebreak ~When I finally arrived in the dining room, all dressed up and pretty looking, everyone was already seated around a large, dark wooden table in the center of the room – everyone, expect for Adrienne. The room was large and high, and tall windows provided the room with enough light, even on a full moon night. The windows were dressed with beautiful baby blue curtains, which covered the entire length of the wall and fit perfectly with the rest of the room.
'I'm sorry, I overslept!' She stated and giggled when she noticed she was the only one still wearing her nightgown. She didn't seem to mind very much though, because she sat herself opposite of me nonetheless and didn't look in the least embarrassed. 'So what do we have to break our fasts, dear brother?'
Her brother simply silenced her and closed his eyes as to do his prayer. Everyone soon followed and before long we were enjoying the wonderful food that had been prepared for our Christmas morning. There were freshly baked bread rolls, croissants, meat and even several sorts of fruit – of which I truly did not know where he had gotten them at this time of year. I decided to settle myself with only one warm croissant and a glass of jus d'orange, as my stomach still was very easily upset, especially in the mornings and I didn't want to risk anything coming up again.
Adrienne was refilling her plate for the third time with some more bread rolls, bacon and some ham at the time I finished my croissant and I looked in amazement as she wolfed the food away at the same speed she had devoured her last one.
By the time she finished filling her plate for the fifth time she suddenly crossed her arms in front of her chest and looked at all of us, annoyed. 'Could you all please stop staring at me, for the love of God, I'm trying to eat here!'
Her brother coughed and tried to stifle his laugh. 'Yes, we can all see that, Adrienne.. Will you be done soon, because then we can move on to the salon and perhaps exchange some presents.'
'Presents?' She exclaimed and pushed away her plate. 'Why didn't you say so, what are we even waiting for?' Before anyone had even time to respond, the little redhead had jumped from her chair and was already racing out of the room.
Anne cleared her throat and smiled. 'Well, I guess it's best we follow her.'
The rest of us agreed in silence and followed monsieur Rousseau to another room. This chamber, although not as large as the dining room, was even more beautiful than the last. It's walls were covered with dark wooden panels and the floor was also made of rich wooden floorboards. In one of the corners was a fireplace and on the chimney stood several small photo frames and portraits. The furniture consisted of two comfortable looking, crimson sofas, an armchair in the same color, a wooden salon table and a grand piano in another corner. Between the two large windows stood a large pile of boxes and bags and Adrienne was on her knees, right in front of it.
'Hurry up!' She cried out as she saw us enter and she ran up to us, a small box in her hands. 'Come on, seat yourself, please.' The last word was quickly added after a look she received from her older brother.
'Alright, now if everyone is comfortable, you may begin.'
Full of expectation, she looked at all of us and then handed the box she'd held to Anne and skipped back to the pile of presents.
Anne carefully opened the wrapping paper and peaked inside the box, as if it might contain some poisonous snake that would bite her if she was not careful enough. Then she smiled widely and opened it further, revealing a shiny, warm looking scarf. 'Awh, thank you!'
pagebreak ~'Come on, one more!' Marie-Claire said, as she herself downed what must have been her eighteenth glass of wine. After we had exchanged gifts that morning, we had gone to a small village nearby where we'd spent the rest of the day, only to come home to a wonderful Christmas meal. When we had all eaten our share, we'd gone back to the salon and Christophe – monsieur Rousseau I mean – had opened a bottle of wine. The first one I have to admit, for many more would soon follow. At first, I had been more than a little reluctant to accept the wine, since I had never consumed alcohol before, but had soon learned to enjoy the taste of it. Conversation had grown bolder, people looser and I found I didn't care at all about any of that.
I giggled along with the rest when Adrienne, who had been drinking far more than her share, fell asleep on the shoulder of Meg in the middle of the conversation and on top of that started snoring too. It truly was a sight to be seen and before I knew it, I was shaking with laughter so much, that tears were streaming down my face. I let myself fall against the person beside me – I believe it was Christophe, although I can't say for sure – and heaved a big sigh of satisfaction. A sudden wave of sleepiness washed over me and nestled my head in the crook of his neck. Today, I yawned, had been the best Christmas I had ever had.
The Phantom's point of viewWhen he woke up that morning, or rather; came back to senses after having been lost in one of his waking nightmares once again, the first thing he noticed was the working desk he had been sitting at last night. And still was, apparently. Sighing, he straightened his clothes, checked if his mask was still in place and moved towards the kitchen.
Memories had been plaguing him ever since the great disaster. Memories, which he'd rather forget, but simply couldn't. A part of him wanted to, but another didn't, because he could, no he would not forget her. Even after all the pain he'd been dealt because of her – or, if he was honest with himself, because of loving her – she was the only good thing that had ever given meaning to his miserable life.
Another sigh slipped from his lips. It truly was too early in the morning to be thinking about a subject such as this. But, in all honesty, he was always thinking of her. Morning, noon, evening, nights – oh, especially the nights – it did not matter. Now that he thought of it, was it even morning at all? He gazed at the grandfather clock in the corner; eleven. But eleven in the morning, evening? He didn't know and it frustrated him greatly.
In mid-step, he turned and, grabbing his cloak from one of the chairs, made his way into one of the secret passages. What about today it was, he did not know, but somehow he felt even worse than normally.
Perhaps you're just one step closer to going mad, one of the voices offered him. Or perhaps you've simply moved on to a higher level of madness.
When he'd reached the ground level of the Opera, he opened one of the panels in the wall discretely and gazed into the wall. No one. Outside one of the tall windows, he could see it was already around midday, although the sun was yet to show his face. He frowned, this was very suspicious. Very suspicious indeed. This corridor, which was directly connected to the lobby, was normally rife with people, no matter what part of the day it was. Was there something he was forgetting? Had the managers perhaps been less of a coward than he had presumed and would his house be infested with police men by the time he got back? He quickly closed the panel, stumbling back in the dark corridor, up to the auditorium. If someone would be inside the Opera, they were bound to be there.
In the auditorium however, it was eerily quiet as well. No violin strings being pulled, no off-key singers struggling to get through their part. He turned and was about to leave the box when a small package and letter on the seat of his velvet chair caught his eye.