The following is my first attempt at writing in a very long time, so please bear with me. It is unbettaed and still in raw form, but I feel good enough about it to post it here.
There are lots of places authors find inspiration from, and as this is a Phantom fic the main source of my inspiration is obvious. However, there are several fanfic as well as published authors out there (you know who you are!) whose determination and faboulous stories have created for me an endless supply of inspiration and encouragement.
There is one person though who I feel deserves a dedication. It is her daily life that gives me inspiration to live mine, and it is her life that is a testament to the courage and determination of the human spirit. Lisa, this is for you.
It was a night of nights. Christine had just completed a flawless performance and had thus secured for herself the role of Opera Prima Donna. The managers had received several offers for financial support and were talking of completely renovating the Paris Opera House, making it larger and more up to date. Cast and crew members were to receive a regular salary, not just a mere pittance of the nights profits. Being overwhelmed by the abundance of congratulatory and flattering remarks, Christine had locked herself in her dressing room and was basking in the afterglow of an exhaustive yet powerful performance. Her eyes wandered around the small room, taking in the plethora of roses from admirers and the boxes upon boxes of costumes, dresses and hats. Soon she would have a real dressing room, one fit for an opera diva. And soon she would be married to the most handsome and eligible bachelor in France…..
A soft knock interrupted her reverie.
“Christine, are you ready?” a muffled voice asked. “Everyone is asking for you.”
Raoul. He was the only son of the richest family in Paris. He was handsome and brave and had eyes only for her. He had proposed only days before and was already making arrangements for the honeymoon.
“I’m coming, Raoul,” she called out. “Just give me a few minutes.”
Christine immersed herself in the throngs of friends and admirers, giving encouragement to the ladies of the ballet and accepting their thanks graciously. Time flew by in a blur and soon it was very late. As she and Raoul were leaving Christine noticed her friend Meg crying softly in a shadowy corner. She sent Raoul ahead for the carriage and rushed to Meg’s side.
“What is it, Meg?” she asked, hugging her close. “Is Buquet bothering you again?”
Meg shook her head and tried without success to stem the flow of tears running down her face. “Monsieur Firmin told me that if my form didn’t improve within the week he would put me out! There is nothing else I can do, nowhere for me and my mother to go! And with her so ill these past few weeks-“
Christine pressed a handkerchief into Meg’s hands. “I will speak with him. He is probably putting pressure on you because he wants the others to be as good as you are.”
“Oh, Christine,” Meg blushed a little as she dabbed at her eyes. “I could never be as wonderful as you.”
Christine smiled. “You are exactly as wonderful as me, don’t you forget that! But don’t get too wonderful though, I don’t want any competition.”
“Christine?” Raoul walked up to them and held out his hand. “The carriage is ready.”
Christine released Meg and turned to face him. “May we offer Meg a ride home? She is not at all well enough to walk.”
Raoul hesitated for a moment then smiled faintly. “Of course.”
On the journey to Meg’s rooms she spoke of her mother’s illness and how she never seemed to be feeling better. “The doctors say it’s just a bad case of the flu but I know it has to be more than that! The flu would not have lasted this long.”
Christine glanced at Raoul and said, “I will speak with the de Chagny’s family physician. I’m sure he would not mind making a house call to check on your mother.”
Meg hugged her tightly as the carriage pulled in front of the Giry’s building. “You are the best friend one could ever wish for!”
Christine bade her goodnight as Raoul helped her out of the carriage and saw her to the front door. When he had reentered the carriage and they had started moving again he fixed Christine with a critical stare and said, “I wish you would stop associating with that ballet rabble. You need to focus more on your own career and stop wasting your time with them.”
“Meg is like a sister to me and her mother is like the mother I never had!”Christine retorted. “They are the only family I’ve got!”
Raoul took her hands in his. “I am your family now, and my parents are your parents. You don’t need them anymore.”
Christine removed her hands and called for the driver to stop.
“What the devil are you-“
Christine awkwardly climbed from the carriage and turned to face him. “It is clear to me that you have none but your own interests in mind when it comes to me and my life. Until you can accept me the way I am, with Meg and her mother as my family, then we have nothing more to say to each other.” She then turned and started walking in what she hoped was the right direction to her rooms.
Raoul jumped from the carriage and ran after her. “Christine, don’t be a fool! It is past midnight! You can’t be walking the streets alone!”
Christine scoffed and walked faster. “Is that all you care about right now?”
Raoul grabbed her arm and twisted her around to face him. “I care about your safety, even if you don’t! Christine, I love you! I want to spend the rest of my life with you. We can discuss these other things later.”
Christine looked up at him. “When, Raoul? You are always saying that we will ‘discuss things later’. I’m tired of it. You need to decide what you want and then we’ll talk.” She turned from him and started walking again.
“At least let me see you home? You aren’t safe being out alone,” Raoul said, almost pleading.
Christine paused, then turned and walked with him back to carriage. The ride home was filled with silence and when they reached her rooms she left him without a word.
Christine slept fitfully and rose after only a few hours. She decided a brisk walk to Meg’s rooms to visit her mother would do her good. She gathered a small loaf of bread and some cheese, wrapped a warm shawl around her shoulders and then set off into the early morning light. Thoughts of the previous nights’ conversation with Raoul filled her mind so much so that she wasn’t paying attention to where she was or who was watching.
She didn’t notice them until it was too late.
“Out a bit early for work, eh Miss?” a deep voice said from behind her.
Startled, Christine whirled around and came face to face with a tall muscular man who reeked of sweat and alcohol. She saw that most of his yellowed teeth were missing as he leered down at her.
“W-work?” she stammered.
“Oh, aye,” the man said, scratching at the stubble on his chin. “Most of yer lot doesn’t come out ‘til the evenings.”
Christine stared back at him indignantly. “How dare you? I am not a prostitute! I am on my way to visit a friend who is ill.” She pulled the shawl tighter around her and turned away from him.
A heavy hand on her shoulder stopped her immediately. “A sick friend, eh?” He exaggerated a heavy cough. “I’ve been sick a bit meself. A little spot o’ yer kind o’ healing ought to get me feeling much better.”
A sharp bark of laughter came from in front of her, and two more men of the same build emerged from the shadows of a building. “Mebe yer could heal us a bit too ‘afore yer gets to yer friend,” one of them said, grinning evilly.
Christine could think of nothing else to do but scream.
Something hard and heavy hit her on the side of the head and she knew nothing more.
Pain. It is everywhere. Make it stop!
“You’re safe,” a soft musical voice whispered. “You’re safe now.”
Christine thrashed around, trying to get her bearings. I can’t see! I can’t speak! My god, what did they do to me?
Strong but gentle arms held her firmly. “You’re jaw was broken as well as some of your ribs, and one of your hands. You need to keep still.”
Christine brought her uninjured hand up to her face. It was covered with heavy bandages.
“You have several cuts and bruises on your face,” the soft voice said again. “We were not sure how badly your eyes were damaged-“
Christine struggled again. No…. no!! This wasn’t supposed to happen…. Not to me….
The strong arms held her more firmly. “Please. You don’t want to add to the damage.”
Christine inhaled deeply then started sobbing uncontrollably.
Christine felt the bed shift as a body lay down next to her. Cold hands took her uninjured one and held it lightly. “I will sing for you…”
The song was one she had not heard before, a beautiful and haunting lullaby about a lost angel looking for home. The voice was soft and soothing and Christine felt herself drifting off. Just before she surrendered to sleep, she heard the voice say, “My name is Erik.”
PLEASE tell me what you think. I am open to any and all feedback, possitive or negative.
Hugs all around,