Life at the Opera soon became the same old routine of sleeping, eating and dancing and in less than a week, it was hard to imagine that I had ever done anything else, let alone a few days ago. In fact, life at the Garnier passed on so much as if there were no such things as holidays, friends in great manors and drunk nights that on some moments, I could almost believe it when I'd pretend nothing ever happened at monsieur Rousseau's mansion. However, at those moments there would always pop something up to remind me of the fact that it was, indeed, very real, even – or perhaps especially – the parts of the trip I wanted to forget most.
Besides being extraordinary ordinary, the week was also a bit disappointing. When leaving the Christmas present in box five, I had hoped for some sort of a reaction. Even just a letter, or perhaps some returned best wishes for the holidays, but alas, I received nothing. Not a word, not even a sign. It was as if I hadn't even send anything and I regretted I ever had. Of course it had been foolish of me, after all; what had I expected? Nay, I hadn't been hoping for some expensive, grandiose, gift, but something, I suppose. At least, I hadn't expected mine to go unnoticed.
Suddenly at that moment, the door of the dormitories burst open and Adrienne came in, waving a letter in the air as she made her way towards me. The room was empty apart from myself, as I had been sleeping in late yesterday, not willing to put the book I'd been reading away. Luckily it was a Sunday and I had the day to myself. Or so I thought..
'Dear, there's a letter for you! It's from Christophe!' She jumped on my bed, uncaring about the fact that I was in fact still half asleep, and handed me the letter.
I eyed it curiously and said, more to myself than to the redhead that was currently sitting on my legs; 'Why would he send a letter to me?' As soon as the words passed my lips, however, a terrible possibility dawned on me. No, he couldn't wish to speak about that, could he?
'Well, come on, are you going to read it or are you planning on staring until it will open itself?' Adrienne cried out impatiently.
'Mind yourself, young lady,' I said, teasing 'For I don't have any obligation to tell you what it says!'
She went silent immediately and sat herself more comfortably – for both herself as me – on the bed. With her elbow she softly nudged me to continue and I indulged in her request.
'"My dearest Angèlique",' I read aloud '"I thank you for delighting us all with your presence at Christmas. I surely enjoyed the time we've spent together and I hope to meet you soon, once more. Perhaps we can have lunch together in the New Year, say the Sunday of seven January? Yours sincerely, Christophe Rousseau".' There was a post scriptum at the bottom of the letter, but I decided to read it later when I'd have… well, more privacy. Instead, I folded the letter and tugged it back in the envelope, waiting for what was sure to be an interesting response. And I was right.
'You see, I was right! I was right all along!' She jumped up and danced strangely around my bed, all the while pointing at me and chanting the words "I was right" over and over again, as if it was some sort of magic spell. After some time, when she'd finally seated herself back on my bed, there was room for me to speak.
'Oh Adrienne, I can assure you it is not as you think. I think very fondly of your brother, yes, and I presume he thinks of me likewise, but my feelings, our feelings, are purely amicable and have nothing to do with romance.'
She cocked her eyebrow and gave me a look. 'Yours might be purely amicable, but I know my brother well enough to know that there is more to it from his side.' I opened my mouth to object, but she immediately cut me off. 'Do you think he has such correspondence with Meg or Anne? Or even with me?'
'They are just letters..' I protested.
'Good Heavens, how can you be so stubborn?' She shook her head and stood from the bed once again. 'Fine, think of it as you will, but I know that you are simply fooling yourself.' And with that, she stormed off.
I stared at her as she left the room, slamming the door shut with a loud bang and slowly got up from my bed. Although I knew what she was saying was absolutely ridiculous and only possible in the fantasy of a girl her age, I felt sorry for upsetting her. It hadn't been my intention to make her mad and I sincerely hoped I hadn't made her cross with me. Still thinking about the entire situation, I slowly got to washing and dressing myself and finally left for breakfast.
When I reached the dining hall at last, I found it completely deserted and figured it must have been later than I had originally thought. I resolved in eating just a bit of toast and marmelade, as I wasn't that hungry, and let my feet take me across the Opera, to my favorite place to think.
As was to be expected, especially on a Sunday, the ballet studio was completely deserted and I lowered myself on the floor. With my arms propped up underneath my head, I stared at the sealing and took in the tranquility of the moment. It was the first moment of rest I had had since we'd come back to Paris, and yet I felt an inner tumult. I thought about Adrienne's words. Could it be so after all? Was there a chance monsieur Rousseau thought of me as more than simply friends? I doubted it. After all, he was a man of noble, rich ancestry and I was.. well, I wasn't anything special. More important however, was the way Adrienne had left my room this morning. She was a good friend to me and I couldn't even bear the thought of losing someone so dear.
Guilt was eating away at my insides and I wished I could turn back time. I yawned and closed my eyes, only to open them again a second later due to an unexpected sound.
'I wouldn't worry too much about the little redhead if I were you. She'll come around soon enough.' I recognized his voice in a heartbeat and scrambled to my feet.
'How did you know I.. Where are you, monsieur?' I inspected the room thoroughly, but he was nowhere to be seen. There wasn't really somewhere to hide oneself anyway, as the room consisted mostly of large mirrors that reached from the ceiling to the floor.
'I have my ways,' he mused mysteriously and his voice seemed a whisper that came from all around me. 'Turn around.'
Doing as told, I stood face to face with a tall, slender young woman with brown hair and cloudy eyes. Myself. The mirror I was looking at was only inches away and I reached out to my other self. Suddenly, however, my reflection seemed to blur and distort. I held my breath and took a step back, unsure what to think of what seemed to be witchcraft at the time.
The shape in the mirror took clearer contours again and I finally realized what I had been looking at. A dark cloak, a black mask covering the half of a delicately shaped face. I saw him as clear as I had just seen myself in the looking glass. Every detail, every inch. I just didn't understand how. Before I had even a chance to open my mouth and ask the burning question, he spoke.
'Close your eyes.' At my hesitation, he added. 'I won't hurt you, I promise.'
Again, I conceded to his wishes and closed my eyes, only feeling a small bit of the anxiety that I was supposed to feel on a moment like this. Strong hands took a hold of my smaller ones and gently pulled me towards the mirror. I waited for a clash, a collision of flesh and glass, but it never came. Instead I felt cooler air surround me and the world behind my eyelids grew dark. Of course, at that moment, I panicked. I drew in my breath and bit my lip, fighting the urge to start running. I had opened my eyes, but was met with only darkness around me.
'Where are we? What are you going to do with me?' I fought to free my arms, but only ended up stumbling over my own two feet and nearly falling, if not for the same strong hands who had taken a hold of my hands a few moments ago.
'Calm down,' he said in a low voice. 'As I said, I am not going to hurt you. But you'll have to keep calm and trust me, otherwise you'll never get back.'
The Phantom's point of viewEven to him, it sounded strange to hear the word 'trust' come from his own mouth, as he himself had only ever trusted one person, and she had broken his heart and nearly gotten him killed. Yet, for some reason he was here, taking this other, equally young but perhaps a little less naïve, girl down his secret corridors.
This time is different, he argued. He wouldn't show her his home, his heart and his music or try to get close to her as he had to his Angel. All he wanted to do was somehow give the girl something back for the present she had given him for Christmas. And so, here he was, pulling another ballerina through the secret maze.
Strangely enough, though, the girl seemed to relax at his words and let herself be willingly guided through the dark, narrow passageways that were unbeknownst to all but himself and madame Giry. She listened closely when he told her to crouch or move alongside the left wall, when she did not even know what for. It amazed him that she had trusted him so easily, but decided those were thoughts to ponder over some other time.
He thought back at the music box she had given him. It was a delicately made thing. The wood was a warm, rich brown and had beautiful carvings cut in the sides. Although a bit inexperienced, the maker must definitely have had some talent. The music inside was a simple tune, but he couldn't determine what it was from. He had played it countless of times on his organ, trying to find befitting lyrics for the song, but had never been able to come up with something that truly seemed to fit. Perhaps he could ask the girl one day if there were any existing lyrics to it.
He looked down at her and saw she was struggling to keep up with him, all the while trying not to trip over something in the dark passage. She hadn't complained about the pace, but he could clearly see she was barely managing to keep up.
'Just a few more minutes,' he told her 'We're almost there.' He thought about his surprise and felt pride rise in his chest. He had surely done his best. Now he only had to hope she would like it.