Continuing Tales

Love Will Still Remain

A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Sparks

Part 15 of 24

<< Previous     Home     Next >>

"Christine Daaé!" exclaimed Monsieur Reyer, approaching her and taking her hand. "Oh, forgive me – Lady de Chagny."

Christine smiled, delighted to see the man again. He had been a strong supporter of hers, when she had been part of the company here, and although he was aged now, walked with a stick, he was still vibrant. When she had written to him, to ask if she and Gustave might visit, he had responded quickly and favourably, and additionally had secured tickets for them for the evening's performance.

"Monsieur, it's good to see you again," she said warmly. "And please, you must call me Christine."

"Christine, then," he said, and kissed her cheeks. "And this must be your son." He shook Gustave's hand solemnly. "A pleasure. I hear you want to see the place where your mother became a star."

Gustave nodded. "Yes, please," he said. "I want to see everywhere! The stage and Mother's old dressing room, and everything!"

"Now, Gustave, calm down," Christine admonished, resting her hand on his shoulder. "We have plenty of time – all afternoon." She looked at Monsieur Reyer, found him looking at Gustave, and wondered for a moment if the elderly man had ever caught a glimpse of Erik, if he had seen in her son the resemblance that seemed only to grow stronger as he grew.

But if he did, he didn't comment on it, smiling at Gustave and gesturing towards the grand staircase.

"Shall we begin with the stage?" he suggested. "Rehearsals have paused for lunch, so it would be an ideal opportunity."

Gustave chattered eagerly to him as they made their way slowly up the staircase, but Christine was silent, looked about and remembered the first time she had been here, the first time she had seen the grandeur of the building. It seemed so long ago – nearly twenty years, and so much had happened since.

When Gustave had asked to visit the Opera Populaire, Christine had been reluctant but unwilling to deny him – and the more she had thought about it, the more it appealed to her. To return at last, to show to Gustave the place where she had grown up – the place where she had fallen in love with two very different men – was something she found she could not refuse.

It would be different; she was prepared for that. She had visited with Raoul, simply another audience member, but even then she had felt Erik's absence keenly. To go backstage, to the flies, the dressing rooms, even down to the lake…it would be strange.

They reached the stalls, and Gustave's excitement seemed to grow immeasurably at the sight of the stage. It wasn't empty; stage hands moved to and fro, and a group of ballerinas were practicing on one side. She even recognised a few of them from her days here – some had been her friends, before she had been forced to break contact with so many of her theatrical circle.

"You really sang there?" Gustave asked her, tugging at her hand. "Can we go onto the stage, Mother?"

"Of course you can," said Monsieur Reyer with an indulgent smile that Christine had never seen on him before. "But mind you don't interrupt the dancers." He pointed towards a small, nondescript door at one side of the stalls, and Christine watched as Gustave ran to it, disappeared momentarily and then reappeared on the stage.

"I do appreciate this," she said to Monsieur Reyer, as they slowly followed her son. "Perhaps I should have brought him here long ago, but…"

"A charming boy," said Monsieur Reyer, not quite answering her. "Has he inherited your gift for music?" He held the door open for her, let her go up the steps ahead of him.

"He has," she replied, "but more my father's, truthfully. He plays more than sings." As they reached the stage she caught him looking at her with a strange expression, but a moment later someone approached him, asked a question, and he was distracted.

Christine stepped out onto the stage almost with trepidation. It had been so long since she had been here – and yet she could still hear the applause from her first night in Hannibal, could still feel the heat of the stage lights.

"Why, it's Christine!"

"Christine Daaé!"

In moments she was surrounded by dancers, their faces at once familiar and strange. Little Jammes, Marie, Émilie and Sylvia – all girls she had worked and lived with, now grown into women. They spoke over each other, all excitement and pleasure, and Christine couldn't help laughing with them.

"I'm here with my son," she said in response to their questions. "Gustave – Gustave, come here." He came running from the flies, smiled up at the dancers and offered his hand.

"Quite the charming gentleman!" said Jammes with a delighted smile. "So you've come to see where your mother worked, have you?" She didn't wait for an answer, turned to Christine. "We heard about the Comte, Christine. Is that why you've come back at last? You're almost a myth around here now, you know. Christine Daaé and the Phantom of the Opera!"

"Jammes, as you see, still likes to gossip," said Sylvia, giving Jammes a gentle shove. "It's lovely to see you, Christine, truly." She looked down at Gustave, winked at him. "Your mother was a good friend of ours," she told him, "before she married your father and left the stage."

"But she was never a good dancer," laughed Marie, and she lifted up onto her toes, performed a few steps for him. Christine smiled, nodded in acknowledgement.

"Ah, but her voice," sighed Jammes. "Oh, Christine, you must sing for us! And to show Gustave how it was when you were here."

"Oh, I couldn't," said Christine, almost alarmed at the suggestion. "You're busy rehearsing. I wouldn't dream of disturbing you."

"Oh please, Mother," Gustave begged, turning wide eyes to her. "Please sing? I'd love to hear you here."

Christine hesitated, and then shook her head. "No," she said, "I couldn't." She gestured towards Monsieur Reyer, still deep in conversation. "I'm not here as a performer, we honestly just came to –"

But Jammes would not hear of it; she danced across the stage to the director and spoke to him, pointed back to Christine, and when the old man's face lit up, Christine knew she could not refuse. He hurried towards her as fast as he could, his cane thudding against the stage with every step.

"Please, Madame," he entreated her. "I would dearly love to hear you sing again."

"…Very well," she conceded at last. "But Monsieur, I…I am with child, it will affect my voice…I will not be…"

"I am sure, Madame," he said, that strange expression on his face again, "that your voice will be as sublime as it ever was." He would not be dissuaded, Christine saw, and so she turned to Gustave, nodded at him and saw his eagerness turn to pleasure.

"What would you like to hear, Gustave?" she asked him, and he paused, tried to think of something.

"Perhaps I may make a suggestion?" said Monsieur Reyer. "The aria with which you first graced this stage." Christine smiled then – had he guessed her thoughts when she first stepped onto the stage again? – and agreed, sent Gustave to one side with the dancers, and waited while Monsieur Reyer went to the piano on the stage.

"Two bars?" he said, but didn't wait for an answer. He began playing, and Christine stepped towards centre stage, took several deep breaths.

She had not warmed up – but then she had not done so when Monsieur Reyer had first heard her sing, on that fateful day when Erik had sent the scenery crashing down onto Carlotta and she had been thrust into the spotlight. Everything had changed then. She had become a star quite literally overnight, had been reunited with Raoul…and Erik had revealed himself.

Christine had sung for Erik then, sung to please her tutor. He was not here to hear her sing now, but she could still sing for him.

She began, and the song seemed to fill the stage, filled the whole auditorium. The piano that accompanied her seemed to fall away as she sang, her soul in each note. Each word, each phrase, she remembered it all, and the past seemed to collide with the present for a moment; for a moment she could almost see the audience, almost hear Erik's proud 'brava'.

Christine had been young and untried when she first sang Elissa's aria. She was older now, and wiser, but she still felt the same thrill as she sang on the stage of the Opera Populaire, the place that had always felt more her home than anywhere else – except for Erik. When she was with Erik, she was truly alive, truly at home.

Two months more, and she would be with him again.

The song ended, the final cadenza, and her voice soared. Even to her own critical ears, she knew she was reaching the notes, knew she was doing herself and her teacher proud.

People were applauding as she finished; she flushed a little, turned to see not only the dancers and stagehands but other members of the company crowded into the wings as well, all cheering and clapping. Gustave ran to her, almost collided with her as he held his arms out for an embrace.

"You were wonderful, Mother," he said rapturously. "Just perfect!"

She smiled at him, hugged him and kissed his forehead. "You're very kind, Gustave," she said. The applause slowly ceased, the company and stagehands moving on to their business, but Monsieur Reyer approached her, looking almost overwhelmed.

"Thank you, my dear," he said. "You have given me such pleasure. One does not find a voice such as yours often." He took her hand, pressed a kiss to it. "You've made an old man very happy." He leaned on his cane, looked straight at her then. "He must be very proud of you."

Christine turned cold; she rested a hand on Gustave's shoulder, her fingers squeezing almost too tightly. "I don't understand," she said. "Who do you mean?"

Monsieur Reyer smiled thinly, lips pressed together. "My dear, the opera never ran as smoothly as when the Opera Ghost took a hand," he told her gently. "And I saw him, once or twice. Only glimpses, you understand. But still." He glanced at Gustave again – briefly, but enough that Christine understood his meaning. "Give him my regards when you see him?

He knew, or suspected. But after all, she reminded herself, Erik was safe in New York, and they would be joining him soon. Monsieur Reyer had always been kind to her, would not stir up trouble. He had never been interested in much outside the opera.

She nodded slowly, pulled Gustave closer to her and tried to smile. "If I happen to see him, I shall," she promised. "And now, may I show Gustave backstage? I would not dream of asking you to walk so far, and I know rehearsals will resume soon."

"I want to see Mother's old dressing room," Gustave chimed in, and his innocent smile was enough for her to dispel any worry over Monsieur Reyer. "May we, Monsieur?"

Monsieur Reyer smiled, amused. "Of course you may. The dressing room is empty at present, so feel free to stay as long as you like – and perhaps you will do me the honour of joining me for supper before the performance this evening?"

"We'd be delighted," said Christine. "Shall we meet in the foyer at six?" Monsieur Reyer nodded, waved them from the stage, and Gustave almost pulled Christine along in his eagerness.

Love Will Still Remain

A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Sparks

Part 15 of 24

<< Previous     Home     Next >>