After that Sunday, life seemed to go back to normal quickly. From one moment to the next, people seemed to have forgotten the visit of the ex Prima Donna and it was almost as if it hadn't happened. For me however, that certain visit had changed everything.
Although Erik still insisted to wear his mask around me, he was less reserved. He would laugh at my jokes – and sometimes at my expense – and at times even dared to crack a joke himself. It was a refreshing change and I could only hope it would last.
This however, concerned only nightlife. At day, I would struggle to keep up under madame Giry's scrutinizing gaze, aware at all times that she was watching my every move. She had more or less accepted the situation as it was, but still looked for things that she could blame on Erik. They were little things, mostly, such as me eating too little meat, letting out a yawn in practice ("A good night's rest is the most important thing for a ballerina to succeed!") or even for chatting with the girls. I could not really care about any of this, however, if only because I couldn't miss Erik for the world.
On Wednesday I received a letter from my mother. She told me that my brother had sent her mail from Russia, telling her all was well. Apparently he was living with a man, Andrei, and his family. Mother also told me about Madeleine, the shop and how she and father were faring. Lastly, she asked me about life at the Opera, if I would come home in the summer and whether or not there were any men of interest.
Since I was not yet ready to leave the tranquility of the library – and since Erik would not be available that evening, anyway – I decided to write her back directly. Dipping my quill in the ink, I replied to the pleasantries. I wrote her about Marie-Claire's wedding, about the rocky relationship between Meg and her mother and about daily life at the Opera. When I came to the topic of men, I rested my quill for a moment. If only for a second, Christophe crossed my mind. Then however, I realized that if I mentioned him, I would be forced to tell her about his proposal to court me – and, more importantly, my denial of said proposal – as well. Therefore, I decided to tell her about Erik, for although a friend, he really was an interesting man. Of course I could not exactly tell her he was the Phantom of the Opera, or that he had kidnapped a lead singer and had effectively set the Opera Populaire on fire, but I could tell her about him as a person.
I told her he was an accomplished man, who was both intellectual and knowledgeable of the world. I wrote about his passion for music, about his many, many talents. I told her about how he was a misunderstood man, but that I could not imagine a better one. But most of all I told her about how I loved having conversations with him, how he had a way of making me smile, how we could share a joke but also enjoy silence together. Quickly finishing off the rest of the letter, I folded it and wrote down the name and address on an envelope. After having blown out the candle, I had no problems finding my way back to the dormitories, even in the absence of any moonlight. An outcome of my many late night meetings with Erik. And that evening, I dearly missed him.
It was Friday when I received another letter. When madame Giry handed it to me – of course with the ever scrutinizing gaze she nowadays seemed to wear whenever I was around – I presumed it would be another of my mother's letters. However, when I looked at the handwriting on the envelope, I immediately realized it wasn't. In fact, it didn't look familiar at all. I frowned; I did not expect any mail. Excusing myself from the others, I made my way back to the dormitories and sat down on my bed. I ripped the envelope open impatiently and pulled out a white paper. "Dear Angèlique," it began "I know it might seem odd that I write you this letter. But believe me, I write you with the best of intentions. I wish not to elaborate on the details per letter, so I hope you will forgive me my secrecy and will join me for some tea this Sunday. I request you not to tell a soul – or a Ghost – of our meeting, if only for your own good. I thank you for your discretion. Yours sincerely, Christine, the Viscountess de Chagny - Daaé."
I stared at the letter in my hands, not fully grasping what was going on. Whatever could the Viscountess want to talk about with me? And why would she specifically mention not to tell 'a Ghost'? When madame Giry had found Erik and me under the Opera, she had mentioned Christine..
Could that be it? Could that be why she wanted to talk to me? And if so, what was I supposed to say to her? Could I tell her that he was my friend, that the man who kidnapped her meant the world to me? Opening the drawing of my nightstand, I hid the letter underneath some ribbons and letters from my mother. Madame de Chagny was right, no one could know. The girls would only get suspicious and frankly, I feared for what would happen to Erik's already instable state of mind if he knew I was about to meet up with his former protégé. No, she was right, secrecy would be the best course of action in this case. I sighed and lay down on the bed. Things could impossibly get even more complicated.