Chapter 1: Beatrice
Erik walked through the dark walkways of his underground world trying to find the exit he knew was there. He was calm and walked through the tunnels slowly, because he knew it would be a while before the mob would find his secret tunnel behind the mirror. He had left his mask, and knew he had to be extremely careful not to let anyone see him when he reached the streets. He would stay in the shadows, just as he had always done.
He turned a corner, and saw a pale blue light at the end of the tunnel. He grinned and ran toward it, only to come to a dead end and a slope of rock leading to the street off to the side. He looked into the sky and at the full moon before slowly climbing toward the street. He reached the opening and kept hidden as he heard screams. The tunnel had led him to the entrance of the opera house, below the stairs. He watched in silence as people ran down the steps and screamed away from the burning building.
It seemed he had waited hours before the last person cleared the street. A black cloak fell in front of him, and he looked up to see Antoinette Giry standing with her hands on her hips.
“Put it on,” she ordered in an angry low voice. Erik slid his hand toward the cloak and wrapped it around him, covering his face as well. He climbed into the street and Antoinette handed him her cane. Erik, realizing what she meant for him to do, hunched over pretending to use the cane for support, as well as Antoinette. He looked off to his right as they walked through the street and saw Christine climb into a carriage, Raoul following behind her. He pulled away to run after her, his rage and passion taking over, but Antoinette pulled him back as hard as she could and the carriage drove off.
“Why did you not let me go after her?!” Erik growled in a whisper.
“Are you not in enough trouble because of her?” Antoinette retorted. “Come, Erik. I will shelter you in my home. But you must do one thing for me…Forget about Christine Daaé.”
“How dare you ask that of me?! I could never forget my angel!”
“Forget her in the sense that you do not consume yourself with her. Make room in your heart for someone else.”
“No one can replace Christine. And besides that, no one would be able to love a monster like me,” Erik insisted, and the woman sighed, letting him have the last word. They walked quickly through the streets to Antoinette’s home, where she closed and locked the door once inside.
“Beatrice!” Antoinette called, and Erik shot a terrified look at her.
“Coming, ma’am!” a girl called, and Erik ducked behind Antoinette.
“Why do you hide from a friend, Erik?” she smirked.
“A friend?! I do not know a woman named Beatrice!”
“My, has it been that long?”
“What do you mean?” Erik suddenly heard footsteps walking quickly toward them, and looked up to see a young woman with fire red hair and shining golden eyes that reminded him of the statues around the stage of the Opera Populaire. There were freckles sprinkled on her nose and cheeks, just beneath her golden eyes, and her rosy lips were pouting naturally.
“You called, ma’am?” she curtsied, slightly.
“You remember Erik?” Giry suddenly swooped away to reveal Erik, his face uncovered, but still with the cloak wrapped around him. The girl frowned in confusion as she studied Erik. He fidgeted on his feet as she merely stared at him. His heart raced in panic when her eyes grew wide. This girl was going to remember him, scream and run away.
“Erik?” she breathed, then smiled. “It is you! I would recognize those eyes anywhere!”
“I am sorry, Mademoiselle,” Erik replied. “I do not know you.”
“I would not expect you to remember me,” she said, walking toward him, slowly. “It was years ago, and we were both very young. But I never forgot you.”
As she stood in front of him, Erik realized his face was exposed, and yet, she didn’t say anything. Was it too dark for her to see it? No, she had recognized his eyes. Was she only being polite? Possibly, she seemed like a polite, innocent girl. She seemed familiar, but how?
“Erik?” Antoinette called. “Be polite. Say something.”
“What can I say to a stranger?” Erik replied, but did not take his eyes from Beatrice. “Hello?”
“Still so sarcastic?” Beatrice giggled. She lifted a hand to his deformity, and with that small touch, he remembered. Beatrice was the only person that didn’t cringe and recoil at the sight of his face. He had met her when she came to live with Antoinette, but they had only spent one day together before he went to live beneath the opera house.
“You,” he breathed, suddenly, his eyes growing wide. “You…have…grown.”
“You remember now?” Beatrice smiled. “You have grown as well.
“Prepare a room for him, Beatrice,” Antoinette ordered, yanking the cloak from Erik’s back and hanging it up. “You can talk later.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Beatrice replied, lowering her hand. Before she turned to walk back the way she came, Erik saw a disappointed look in her eyes, as if she really didn’t want to go do as she was told. He watched her as she turned a corner, taking one last glance at him before she did, and he stared after her, not moving. Antoinette stepped next to him, giving him a sly glance at his gaze.
“She has grown,” she agreed. “In maturity and beauty.”
Erik straightened and looked at her.
“You think you could make me forget Christine so easily?” he smirked. “No matter how beautiful a woman you introduce me to, no one can replace Christine.”
“You will soon forget your love for her. You will struggle to remember her face, and her voice. Then one day you will wake up, and she will be gone. With time, this will be so.”
“She sounds like a prophet who knows not what she speaks of,” Erik thought.
“I will need a mask,” Erik said, changing the subject. “I do not want either of you to see me like this too much.”
“You know full well we do not mind your face.”
“It does not matter. No one should have to look upon this.”
“Very well,” she nodded. “I will see what I can do. Stay here. I must go back for Meg.”
“You would find it of great importance, then, to know that she led the mob beneath the opera house.”
“I told her to stay out of there!” Antoinette cried then growled in agitation. “I will be back!”
She whirled around and walked out the door. Erik looked around the small house then walked down the hall. He wouldn’t admit it to Antoinette, but he was tired. Tired of running. Tired of being alone. Tired of his face. Tired of being feared.
He rounded a corner and saw four doors, all closed. He walked to the nearest door and opened it without knocking. There was a shriek and he was greeted with the sight of Beatrice in nothing but her corset and petticoats. He stood in the doorway, knowing he should turn away, but too surprised to. She hesitantly wrapped her arms around herself.
“Your room is across the hall,” she mumbled, casting her eyes down and blushing.
“I am sorry,” Erik said quickly. “I thought---I will just---I am sorry.”
He shut the door and walked across the hall into the next room. He slammed the door in anger at himself.
“Idiot!” he thought, leaning back on the door. “Why did I not knock?! I should have! Why did I not turn away?!” He smirked, mischievously. “Well, it was not so bad. She seemed to like being looked at, and I liked looking at her.” He shook his expression away by shaking his head violently. “What am I thinking?! I cannot think like that!”
He sighed and looked around the room. There was a bed in the middle of the room with a clean evening suit on it, and shoes on the floor, shined to perfection. Across from the foot of the bed was a wardrobe and next to the bed was a nightstand with a small drawer in it and an oil lamp on top of it. He walked toward the bed and stared at the suit, as if he didn’t know what to do with it.
“I hope it fits,” Beatrice murmured, standing in the doorway. Erik spun around with wide eyes. He hadn’t even heard the door open.
Beatrice was dressed in a dark purple, taffeta floor-length gown with a “V” neck lined with black lace, and the elbow length sleeves were lined with lace as well. Her red curls were pinned back away from her face, and cascaded down her back to her waist.
“Thank you,” Erik choked. “I am truly sorry about earlier.”
“It is alright,” she blushed, looking down, wringing her hands. “It was an accident.”
“I did not mind it that much,” she thought.
“Still,” Erik said. “I should have knocked.”
“Where did Madame go?” Beatrice asked, changing the subject.
“She went back to the opera house for her daughter,” Erik explained. “She may be a while.”
Beatrice nodded, still looking at the floor.
“I missed you,” she murmured after a moment of silence. “Is that strange? I missed you, even though we met briefly.”
“That is not extremely strange,” Erik admitted.
“I asked Madame if I could visit you,” she continued. “But she would not let me go. When I asked why she said it was best for me to stay away from you.”
“She said it was to protect you and me. But I did not understand what she was protecting us from.”
Erik nodded, and Beatrice suddenly walked toward him. She stood in front of him and he studied her with wide-eyed curiosity. She looked up at him, finally, and their eyes locked, making Erik’s throat clench. She threw her arms around her neck, leaning her head on his chest.
“Beatrice?” he sighed, confused about what to do or say.
“I am glad you are back,” she whispered, holding him tighter.
“I will not be here for long,” he explained. She lifted her head to look at him in confusion. “You see, I am a criminal. I am a murderer, Beatrice.”
She gave a small gasp, but did not pull away from him.
“I cannot believe that!” she breathed.
“It is true, mon ami,” he murmured, looking down at her. “I have done terrible things. Things I am not proud of myself. I have killed men, burned down the opera house, and was very close to killing another man for---”
He stopped himself and placed his hands on hers, bringing them down from around his neck.
“What?” Beatrice pleaded. “Go on. I want to know.”
“No, Beatrice,” Erik replied, sternly. “You do not. Trust me.”
He turned away from her, but she would not be so easily dismissed.
“I may be young, but I am not stupid!” she cried, making him look at her in surprise. “Please, Erik. Tell me.”
He looked at her for a moment as she gazed at him in anticipation. How could he refuse this girl? She was interested in knowing about his life, something no one had ever been for him. But how could he tell her everything he had done? She would turn away from him. Then again, she didn’t turn away from his face, perhaps she wouldn’t turn away from his past.
“Very well,” he sighed. “I will tell you, but not now. Perhaps tomorrow.”
“Oh, no you do not!” Beatrice smiled, walking toward the bed and sitting next to the suit she had laid out for him. “Tomorrow never came for us last time. I want to know everything, now.”
Erik sighed again and sat next to her, moving the suit off to the side then taking her hands in his. He took a deep breath as she waited. He could do this. He could tell her everything. He might as well, with everything still fresh in his mind.
He told her all about Christine, and his life beneath the opera house. He spoke of his alias as Christine’s Angel of Music, and how he had fallen in love with her. He told her all about Masquerade, his opera, and that even now, the Opera Populaire was burning down to the ground. He told her of his murdering the stage hand, Joseph Bouquet, and how he was now here at Madame Giry’s home. He looked off into space after ending his story, thinking of Christine, and Beatrice stared at him with tears in her eyes. It was as though she was hurting with him.
“I only wanted her to love me,” he murmured. “That was all I wanted…love. I am so sick of being alone with nothing, but this face keeps me that way.”
He felt a hand gently pull his face toward Beatrice’s, he touched her hand as it lingered on his deformed face.
“You are not alone, now,” she whispered. “I am your friend, Erik. I will never leave you alone.”
She threw her arms around him again, and Erik couldn’t help but begin sobbing into her shoulder.
Finally, someone cared. Someone cared before he became a creature of darkness. This girl, holding him cared. She was his friend, and he would not take her for granted.
He held Beatrice tightly and she stroked the back of his head to comfort him. They pulled away to look at each other, and Erik was even more saddened at seeing tears on Beatrice’s cheeks as well. He brushed them away with his fingers, and she smiled, doing the same to his tears.
“Why are you crying?” Erik smiled.
“Because I cannot imagine what it must have been like for you,” Beatrice replied. “Being alone for so long.”
“I had my music,” he said, looking on the bright side.
“Madame has a piano!” Beatrice smiled. “Won’t you let me play for you?!”
She stood up and tugged him by the hand. They ran into the parlor where there was a piano sitting near the window. The curtains to the window were drawn, but some moonlight still came in. Beatrice sat at the piano and waved Erik toward her. He sat next to her as she placed her hands on the keys, gently. She looked up at the piece of music in front of her and began playing, never once taking her eyes from the page.
Erik watched her hands as she played, watching her technique. Her hands gracefully floated across the keys, and he found himself mesmerized by their movements. His eyes slowly scanned up to her face, and she closed her eyes briefly as she felt the music flowing through her and into her hands. He had never seen anything like it. This girl seemed to enjoy music as much as he did. She was completely consumed with the piece, much like he would be when he played or sang. He doubted she even remembered he was sitting there next to her.
The piece ended all too quickly, and he was jerked from his thoughts when she hit the last note. She breathed deeply coming out of her trance then looked at Erik, and giggled at his wide-eyed expression. She placed a hand below his chin and gently closed his mouth. He straightened and cleared his throat, composing himself.
“You played that very well,” he smiled.
“Thank you,” she nodded. “It is my favorite piece.”
“Your technique is flawless. Who is your tutor?”
“Madame Emerson. She lives not too far from here. She came here from England many years ago. Madame Giry pays her fifty francs a week for her services. She comes every day at noon and we have lunch before our one hour lesson.”
“Well she taught you well.”
“Thank you.” Beatrice leaned toward Erik and left a small kiss on his deformed cheek. He looked at her in wide-eyed confusion. Suddenly, there was a loud pounding on the door making the couple jump.
“Police!” a man’s voice boomed from the other side of the door. “Open the door!”