It was the day of the wedding and the dormitories were full of laughter, giggling and gossiping that morning. A dozen or two ballerinas had been invited to Marie-Claire's big day and their excitement knew no boundaries. On top of that, the other girls who had not been invited were just as excited with getting to play with stage make up, hair products and fancy dresses.
Dressed in my gown from the masquerade and some shoes Meg had borrowed me, I suppose I did look kind of pretty. My hair hung in artificial curls down my back and I had even dared to apply a bit of the stage make up on my cheeks and eye lids. In contrast to some of the others however, I had kept it fairly modest.
When, at last, everyone was ready, we made our way to the awaiting carriages, letting ourselves be driven to the wedding location. It was a small, cozy little church, decorated with lilies and white ribbons. The ceremony was beautiful – despite the absence of the bride's parents – and I must admit that I felt a tug at my own heart at seeing the young couple.
After the ceremony, we all jointly moved to the location where the party would be held. It was somewhere in the outskirts of Paris and seemed to be not much more than a small tavern. Once inside, my estimation proved to be right; when everyone had filed in, I hardly had any personal space left. Friends, family, but mostly ballerinas, filled the room with their chatter and within minutes I had lost the others. I allowed myself a glass of wine from a waiter that passed by and sipped on it as I looked around. Most of the people around me seemed to be of average birth: no counts or dukes, just some bakers, tailors and perhaps some salesmen. I guess Marie-Claire's family did not come to terms with the union after all. It was at that moment that I spotted the bride in question.
Excusing myself from the gentleman who had been talking to me ever since he arrived, I made my way through the crowd. However, before I had made it even halfway across the room, a familiar face blocked the path.
'Mademoiselle Fournier.. What a surprise! I should have known you'd be here, too.'
I just stared at him, flabbergasted. 'Yes… Why are you here? Oh dear, that was terribly rude of me. I mean, I thought you were…'
'Abroad. Yes, I was. But I received an invitation, so I decided to come back early.'
'An invitation from who?' I was confused, were messieurs Rousseau and Lemoine acquainted?
Christophe opened his mouth to say something, but before he even had the chance, the bride herself popped up next to us. 'I did.' She flashed me a mischievous smile, then turned to him sweetly. 'So, Christophe, how are you enjoying yourself?'
'Very good, thank you. Also, I think an congratulations would be in order, wouldn't it, madame Lemoine?'
She smiled 'It does sound good, does it not? In any case, I will go tend to my other guests now, I am sure Angèlique will keep you entertained.'
We watched her retreating back as she weaved through the crowd, both hoping to postpone the awkwardness that was certain to follow. 'So… How was business? I mean, you don't have to tell.. I just wanted..'
He held up his hand 'It's alright, mademoiselle Fournier. You don't have to feel obliged to keep me company; I am a grown man, fully capable of taking care of myself.'
I wanted nothing more than to escape the discomfort, yet it felt wrong to just leave him standing there. 'Then at least come with me to the others,' I offered. 'I am sure Adrienne will be happy to see her brother.'
He nodded, but when I turned to walk he held my arm. 'I am truly sorry for putting you in a difficult position, mademoiselle, it was not my intention. I hope that you have thought about what I wrote in my last letter and that you might consider still taking me as a friend. If you do, I promise that I will never speak a word of my feelings for you again.'
'It's Angèlique,' I smiled, friendly. 'And I would most happily count you among my friends, monsieur.'
pagebreak ~That evening, when we arrived back at the Opera, I was exhausted beyond compare. My feet hurt, my hair now hung in mere waves down my back and my body was aching to get out of the corset. Following the example of the others, I kicked out my shoes when we entered the lobby and walked the rest of the way to the dormitories bare foot. Even for a ballerina, who was used to wearing uncomfortable pointe shoes, heels were a torment.
Looking back on the day, I could not help but smile. I had had a good time. Once Christophe and I had gotten to our strange, but nevertheless working, friendship, I had danced with him several times. He had taught me a few more dances and although I was no good at any of them, I must admit it felt great to just have fun. In the end I even dared to accept a dance with some unfamiliar man, but I think the poor guy regretted it the instant we began. I had stepped on his feet more than a handful of times and with my heels on, that must have hurt quite a lot. My spirits hadn't lowered though and only minutes later I had tried again, this time with Christophe. The joy of dancing – and some wines I had consumed inbetween dances – made me feel as weightless and free as a child and I realized that I had been kind of stressed lately.
Dropping down on my bed, I struggled to get out of my dress and corset and then snuggled beneath the covers, not even taking the effort of putting on my night gown. I let out a sigh of content, then – due to exhaustion and intoxication – drifted off to sleep in a matter of seconds.
Candlelight illuminated caves set the scene and I felt myself swaying to the notes of an unseen instrument. There was a lake to my left and to my right something that seemed to be a house. Tracing the steps, I found myself in something that seemed to resemble a living room. There was a hearth in one of the walls and most of the others were covered with books. A comfortable looking armchair was facing the fire and I could not resist the temptation to sit down in it for a moment. Soon, however, I was on my feet again and dwelled through one of the door holes into a hallway. There were several doors to my left and right, but before I could decide which one to open first, long curtains drew my attention. Like with a fitting room, they seemed to hide a small area from sight. Drawn in, I stepped closer and lifted my arm to open them. Something inside of me told me not to, trying to warm me from imminent danger. But my curiosity was sparked by the mystery surrounding the curtains and I took hold of the soft, smooth cloth. I held my breath, closed my eyes and then pulled them open in one motion. Opening my eyes, I stood face to face with Christine Daaé.
I woke up with a start, panting as I took in my surroundings. I was in the dormitories, in my own bed. Why exactly that was such a relief, I did not remember, but I lowered myself back into my pillow. I did not remember what had scared me so, but I could not shake the fear that something was going to happen. And I was not sure if it would be for the good.