Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 3 of 38

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Christine stared at herself in the mirror. There was something rather charming about the reflection looking back at her. Upon her arrival at the large estate that morning, Roman's wife, Magda, horrified by the pale and dirty creature that her husband had presented her with, had set right to work cleaning her up.

Only when she had seen his wife did Christine finally place Roman's heritage as that of a gypsy. Not that it upset her; she was just unused to seeing them employed in noble households. She and Raoul-God, it hurt to even think his name-had employed an English staff. A full one of fifteen! And their home, though it had been one of the finest in Paris, could not even compare to the monolithic residence, this bastion of architecture that she would now call home. It employed only eight people! Eight young gypsies. Five men, and the wives of three.

Christine was now the ninth, and the only one among them not of their kind. Part of her tried to will away her Swedish legacy and ghost white skin. It was positively awful to be reminded by her looks that she was the outcast in this home, even if she had only been met with kindness so far. Magda had instantly gone to work finding her proper clothes to work in. Roman had been wearing a tailored suit in Paris, but on the actual estate the gypsies took to wearing their normal, albeit different, clothing. A trace of their heritage was visible in the beautiful colors and style of their garments.

The outfit that Christine now wore was probably the tamest that Magda owned. She had at first tried to get the girl to wear red, claiming that it would accent her skin color. Christine had instantly refused. She hadn't worn red in, a year at least. The color did nothing for her, and was absolutely unheard of for a servant! Even what she was wearing was something that she would have never permitted her own women to wear.

Suddenly, she wondered why? Why not allow them to wear what they preferred? The skirt was a beautiful emerald green, and though only cotton, was extremely soft and fell gracefully to her ankles. Christine had been confused when Magda had ordered her to put on a white linen shirt without a corset underneath, but she soon realized why. Magda had presented her with a black corset, embroidered with green flowers, meant to be laced up over the shirt. Over it! Christine had never heard of such a thing!

And yet looking in the mirror now, Christine found that the outfit was far from offensive. Actually, it was rather...

"You really are quite beautiful Christine."

Magda's kind face reflected in the mirror. She was twenty four, only five years older than Christine, and yet it as Roman had said. Christine had instantly clung to her as if she were a mother.

"Thank you Magda, for helping me like this. I can't even begin to imagine why, I have done nothing for-"

Christine caught sight of her face in the mirror. Magda had removed the bandage to allow air to dry out the wound. It was almost...beautiful in its viciousness. The gash would scar into a perfectly straight line, down the center of her once flawless right cheek. She touched it gingerly with a shaking hand.

Magda put her arm on the girl's shoulder.

"Sometimes, visible scars heal much better than those we cannot see." She smiled at her, refusing to move until Christine returned the sentiment. Magda suspected that once this woman had been full of would be wonderful to one day see her full of it again.

For the remainder of the morning, Magda took Christine around the entire mansion, introducing her to where everything was and how to tend to all of it. Christine was given the job of a care taker. Seeing as she had once lived in a proper household, she would oversee the making up of rooms, preparation and planning of meals and cleaning schedules. Should the Master desire the purchase of new furniture, Christine would over see that as well.

"Tell me about your Master." The two of them had been walking through another of the homes endless corridors. Christine had just finished telling the fake story of her marriage to Charles Daae', when she realized that Magda, while explaining everything else about the estate and how it was run, had said nothing of the man responsible for all of it. The question was met with silence, and fear crept through Christine when she realized that Magda was hesitating...

Who was this man?

"Your Grace?"

Roman had been relieved to find upon returning that the Baron was no longer walled up in the tower with his piano. He had found him sitting before the fire in his library, staring endlessly into the flames.

He had been humming.

For a moment, Roman hadn't even dared to breathe. That sound! The Master's humming was more beautiful than any sound her had ever heard! It slid through his veins and warmed his blood with its richness. What strange work of nature was this? The dark man in the mask had the singing voice of an angel!

The floor beneath Roman creaked and the heavenly sound instantly ceased. His Master turned and instantly stood, glaring.

"Roman, did it slip my mind, or have I in the past instructed you to never enter my presence without announcing yourself?"

The angelic voice was replaced by a quietly sinister one. Roman swallowed the small shiver of fear welling in his spine and looked up to face the Baron. What he saw shocked him almost as much as the beautiful sound had. For the passed year, the Master had never been anything less than impeccable. His suits were ordered from the finest tailors in France, and were made of silk and the softest wool imaginable. They were always black, and they always fitted his tall frame perfectly. His hair had always been slicked back elegantly, and the visible half of his face was always clean shaven. With the exception of the mask, he looked more noble than any man in the entire country.

Currently, that man was no where to be found.

The man that stood before Roman now looked as if he had been dragged out of hell. Black hair hung loosely around a face that was beginning to show the stubble of a day or two's worth of growth. Blue eyes that had once seemed to glow were faded and streaked with red. His black trousers were wrinkled. His fine linen shirt was hanging loosely around his chest. He had been drinking. This alarmed Roman for her had never seen the man drink.

For a moment, the two men just stared at each other.

"Well! Have you the girl?"

The tense sound of frustration was mounting in the Master's voice. Had Roman been a Christian, he most certainly would have crossed himself.

"If you will forgive me Sir, I will require more time.

Swearing, the "Baron stalked over to a small table and took a long slug of some blood colored liquor. Roman quickly tried to explain before the effects of the alcohol numbed.

"It's not as if I wasn't looking Sir! It's just that, something else came up."

"Something else! I didn't send you to Paris to find 'something else' Roman!" Another swallow of liquor followed. "Bloody Hell!" That time he swore only to himself, slamming the glass down on the table. "What in God's name could have possibly come up?"

Staring wide eyed, Roman could not discern between the fear and fascination that swirled through him. He had just watched his Master go from singing angel, to bloodthirsty demon, to confused and utterly helpless man. Clearly his throat, he decided that his best course of action was to simply tell all that had happened.

"A young woman, actually Sir. She was accosted in the Parisian streets. I was of some assistance to her up and offered her a position in the household. She is a fine girl Sir, and has knowledge of how to run a household. Besides" he added, "it's not as if we don't have the room." Roman said a silent prayer that he would not be punished for his obvious boldness. After all, he was a valet. Even the most un-intriguing of nobles wouldn't look upon such insubordination lightly.

His Master raised a dark brow, but no anger colored his voice.

"You deem me unworthy of this woman then? Am I not suitable enough to have her as my mistress?"

Roman stiffened. The Master was a genius at disguised threats, and it hadn't taken long for Roman to begin to pick up on them. No, the man sounded calm, but his statement had been a warning. Roman had overstepped his bounds.

"Not at all Sir! Had I presented her as your new mistress you would have dismissed her instantly! My offer was because she has no one in the world. The Commune ravaged her life."

The Master took a step forward.

Roman took a step back.

"Why Roman? Why would I find her unacceptable?"

Another step forward.

Another step back.

Roman inwardly called himself a coward, but his Master's presence could be absolutely suffocating. It was as if the man could enter the mind and cloak it with his darkness.

"She is scarred, Master, on her right cheek. I know how you demand perfection and, well, the wound isn't even old yet...Oh! And her appearance! The girl is a brunette! And with blue eyes! I know how you despise the combination!"

By the time he was done with his breathy explanation, Roman was backed against the door, his Master inches from him, the perfect white mask that he wore seeming like a third life in the room.

Roman could smell the scotch on the man's breath.

"Bring her to me. I wish to see the reason that I have been denied my pleasure."

The Master purred the words.

Roman was off in an instant.

"Say nothing unless asked, do you understand Christine? The Master is in a foul mood and I wouldn't want your first impression of him to be of his current state."

Christine was almost running to keep up with Roman's long strides. Only a moment before he had burst in upon her and Magda, pale and short of breath, demanding that she follow him to the Baron's library.

"What madness is this Roman? You told me that your Master was a good man. A good man! Now you are implying that I have reason to fear him?"

Roman grabbed her by the wrist and hurried her along. He didn't want the Master kept waiting a moment longer than was necessary. The man's mood was only likely to deteriorate further as the moments flew by.

"You must forgive me Christine, and him as well."

They came to a staircase and Roman literally pulled her up along with him.

"It's just that the Master has never really showed much emotion, and I fear that recent doings of the Commune have put him over the edge."

They finally slowed upon reaching a massive oak double door. Christine grabbed her chest and sucked in large breaths of air. Roman knocked.

"The, the Commune?" She took in another breath and straightened her corset and skirts. "What dealing did he have with the Commune?"

Roman knocked again, louder this time, hoping that the Master wasn't half deaf from alcohol.

"I actually don't know Christine. Even if I did..." He trailed off. "It was some family. The de Chagny's. They were murdered, unfortunately, probably in the same acts that your husband was."

Christine's heart was beating so loud that she didn't hear the voice that had yelled for them to enter. Baron Von Alsing had known her and Raoul! She certainly didn't know him! Roman tugged on her arm and she looked up to see that the door was open.

"Roman no!" she hissed between clenched teeth. "I, uh, could you please...please go in first!" Christine's face burned from the embarrassment of her childish fear, but it was overwhelming her. She hated that now Roman too, along with everyone else that she had ever known, would think that she was nothing but a frightened young girl.

He gave a frustrated sigh. "As you wish Christine."

Was he a fool! Why was he bending over backwards for this damned girl anyway? What was it about her strange combination of innocence and cynicism that called to him? Something primal told him to protect her, like a child with a skinned knee. Something even darker told him that he could not even begin to imagine to depths of her pain. There was something so utterly-could it be, tragic?-about her.

He kept repeating that to himself as he entered the room, leaving the door open a small crack behind him.

"Where the hell is she!"

From out in the hallway, Christine felt the ice begin to flow through her veins. That voice! Good Lord she was losing her mind.

Roman mumbled something.

The voice, dark and angry, bellowed again.

"I am not in the mood for entertaining idiocy Roman! Bring her in here!"

She was shaking now. Christine quickly crossed herself. Why was God tormenting her by sending that voice, that unholy, beautiful voice that surely could have only existed once on this earth? That had surely died with the angel that had possessed it?

She shifted slightly, her gaze slipping through the small opening the door had left. A fire was roaring in the large room, the flames bouncing around the walls, casting shadows on the book cases and the furniture, reflecting brightly on a crystal decanter, the stained glass windows...

...and the white leather of his mask.

Christine felt the bile rise in her throat. Blood started to roar through her heart and lungs, drowning away all time and emotion. God no, God no please God no! Not this, not now! Have I been so wicked! To deserve such torture! Such a penance! Her eyes were glued to that beautiful white mask and the dark man beneath it. How could she have been such a fool! Paris had been hell, but now she found herself in the devil's beautiful palace!

Something else was brewing along with the fear that welled within her. The knowledge that he was alive, that his beauty and his passion had not been lost...

Oh God, Erik.

She ran.

"I am not in the mood for entertaining idiocy Roman! Bring her in here!" Roman let a low growl rumble in his stomach. He knew that it would only be testing the Master's patience to indulge the girl's desire for time, but something in her eyes had compelled him to brave the man's dark temper.

"I am sorry Sir, the girl just wished for me to announce her presence before she entered the room."

The Master gave a sarcastic snort.

"This isn't bloody England and it certainly isn't Napoleon's court. The last time I checked common street whores did not require formal announcements."

Roman stiffened and stopped himself from contradicting his Master. Turning around, he walked toward the door, opening it and stepping out into the hallway.

'Christine you can-Christine?" She wasn't there. A cold sweat broke out over Roman's forehead and a cursed slipped past his lips.

"Christine!" He looked down the hallway.



"Madame Daae'!"

Roman almost choked on the words as he felt a hand crush its fingers around his neck. With a violent shove he was thrown to the floor.

"What name did you just say!"

He looked up to see his Master standing above him, hellfire burning in his eyes.

"Madame, Madame-" Roman took a breath. Obviously the Master was not as weak as he looked as of late. " Christine, Christine Daae'."

His Master's brow rose.


Roman nodded, climbing to his knees.

"Yes...she was married to a violinist named-"

"Charles?" The Master finished for him.

Before Roman could confirm the answer, the man was off in a mad dash, presumably after the scared-witless Madame Daae'. Slumping against the wall, he took a long swig from the flask that he usually kept on his person, though rarely had occasion to use. Christine's early words echoed in his memory.

What madness was this?

Running was probably one of the stupidest things that she could have done. Where exactly was she going to run to? A forgotten corner of the estate? The darkest regions of the Northern French forests?

Brilliant Christine. Once again your judgment is enviable.

God in Heaven! Even her conscience was mocking her!

Child! It screamed.

Coward! It taunted, but still she ran, hopelessly losing herself throughout the endless marble corridors of this beautiful fortress. A left turn here, a right turn there, a dark hallway upstairs, a dusty stairwell downstairs. A maze befell her, and Christine resisted the urge to cry. She was nineteen years old for God's sake! Women were married and mother's long before that! Some of the member's of the corps de ballet had left study to marry as early as sixteen. Bitterness echoed through her. She had been married. She should have been a was her own fault that she now had nothing and no one. Poor Raoul! How he had wanted a son to bear his name! And could she give him even that! No! She had failed as a wife in every way imaginable. At least Raoul had been able to have the illusion for a time...

...Erik had been denied even that.

One day, Hell would surely welcome her with open arms.

Among vanity and treachery, weakness would be listed as one of her many sins. Fear was eating away at her as she forced her body to run faster in pursuit of her absolutely idiotic means of comfort. Running would get her absolutely no where, but at least she would feel as if she had done something...that she had at least reacted...Christine felt as if she couldn't even control herself.

Like a child.

A cry tore its way up her throat as she crashed full force into a stone wall. The breath was forced from her lungs and her heart constricted. Chains wrapped their steely hold around her wrists.

Angry blue slate eyes stared down at her.

Walls did not have eyes.

"Viscountess!" a hauntingly familiar, caustic voice bit out. It was filled with a twisted rage that made her want to vomit. Never had such a terrible sound raped her soul with such a vile blend of sarcasm, anguish, and hatred. The iron chains, or rather, Erik's hands, hauled her body up against his much larger one.

"Please tell me that you were only running to amuse me." Cynicism, like a serpent, crawled from his mouth. Christine found that her eyes could not move from those angelic lips, now warped and polluted with his rage.

He gave a sarcastic laugh. Christine was sure that something as innocent as a laugh had never been so horrible.

"Hell, it really is you." He twisted her arm, forcing her even closer to him.

"I will have to credit the good Lord for his perverse sense of humor."

She tried to say his name, tried to gasp it out, anything to break through the shell of the madman now holding her, but Christine found that her voice, as well as her wit, was completely gone.

Erik snarled, but she would never know what insult he had been about to hurl at her.

His eyes glazed over as they settled upon the horror of her right cheek.


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 3 of 38

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