Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Immokk

Part 12 of 39

<< Previous     Home     Next >>

If he had thought that the potential of the opera and the success of the building work would have buoyed his brother and put a stop to his mindless drinking, he had been very wrong. Raoul was in his dining room sitting opposite a bleary eyed Philippe, feeling as though the world was just about crumbling in on his older brother and knowing that there was very little he could do about it. For the past month he had tried to spend as much time as possible with Philippe in an attempt to kerb the incessant alcohol guzzling. His presence and advice had had little or no effect and Philippe was still drunk more times than he was sober and Raoul feared that the situation was becoming graver by the day.

As angered as he had been at Jack's comments regarding Philippe, particularly as his brother and Jack had been friends first, it was increasingly difficult to deny the problem and much easier now to see the problems that Philippe could cause should he play a very active role in the running of the opera house.

'Do you think you should take some coffee on the balcony perhaps?' Raoul asked him, combative tactic dropped for now as it clearly did not work. 'There is a gentle breeze and the air would probably do you some good,'

Philippe shook his head, or at least Raoul thought that he was shaking his head. It was worryingly early in the evening for Philippe to be in such a state and he was only happy that Christine was at the theatre for the dress rehearsal and that she had taken Benoit with her. There was a limit to even his wife's patience and the more Benoit saw Philippe in this condition, the more her good nature diminished.

'Are you sure?' Raoul prompted, trying again. 'It it's a lovely evening, the fresh air will probably help,'

Again, Philippe shook his head.

'Why are you here?' Raoul asked, finally giving up on the notion that he might sober his brother up.

'I came to see you,'

'I saw you this morning,'

Philippe made a haphazard attempt at a shrug and slurred, 'You're my brother,'

It was a familiar conversation, one they had had many times in the past and one that usually ended with Philippe slumped somewhere in the house, finally passed out from the copious amounts of gin he had put away.

'I am,' Raoul agreed, it was his normal response. 'But I think you should go home and sleep,'

Philippe laughed. 'It is early and the night is young,'

Raoul couldn't have agreed more. Far too early and far too young for being drunk.

'My family will be home for dinner soon…'

'Then I shall stay,' Philippe said.


'For dinner,'

Raoul swallowed, his mouth dry. 'It is a family dinner,'

'I am family,'

Raoul stared at him. 'You're not invited, Philippe,'

He looked momentarily hurt but recovered quickly and smiled. 'Why not?'

'Because I have barely seen my wife for days,' he explained. 'I wish to spend the evening alone with her,'

'I haven't seen her either,'

'Philippe,' Raoul said, with a small sigh. 'When you do see each other you are barely civil,'

He laughed.

'So, I must insist that you go home,' Raoul said. 'I will send for a cab to take you,'

'I can walk,' he said, finally sounding offended. It was not what Raoul had wanted but something had to get through to him eventually.

'I'd prefer you to get a cab,'

'I might not want to go home,'

'Then where will you go?'

'Maybe to a bar,' Philippe shrugged. 'With Jack,'

Raoul paused, 'Has Jack invited you to a bar?'

Philippe smiled, 'He's my friend,'

'That doesn't really answer my question,'

'We're friends,' Philippe said. 'We go to bars together sometimes, friends do that brother,'


Philippe nodded. 'You go out with your friends,'

He sighed. 'I don't have any friends,'

When Philippe looked at him, his eyes were soft and wide, 'You've got me,'

Immediately, Raoul felt his heart sink and guilt wash over him. The man he was so desperately trying to shuffle out of his home was his own brother and he knew that he should be deeply ashamed.

'I'm sorry, Philippe,' Raoul said, reached out and touching his brother's shoulder. 'Would you stay for dinner?'

'What about your night alone with your wife?'

'Christine and I can spend tomorrow together,'

Philippe thought about this but said, 'You don't want me here,'

If it had been anyone else, Raoul might have seen this as a deliberate attempt to manipulate him, but he knew that in this situation it was simply that Raoul had hurt his brother's feelings and he was showing it.

'Of course I do,' Raoul said and was momentarily reminded of a memory of when they were boys. Only that time, the situation was reversed.

Philippe had always been popular, being older, and had a wealth of friends. He was invited to parties regularly and Raoul had been seen by most as the nuisance little brother who tagged along wherever Philippe went. One day, in the summer, they were all on the beach and Raoul had managed to get into one of the boys knapsacks and find his dagger. Playing with it he had accidently dropped in onto rocks and bent the point back.

Philippe's friends were not happy and began berating him, some insisting the younger of the de Chagny's went home and played with his little sisters. Raoul had turned to leave, he remembered the dejected feeling well, but Philippe had placed a hand on his shoulder and asked where he was going.

'Home,' he had said, fighting back boyish tears.

'Why?' Philippe had asked.

'Because they do not want me here,' he had replied.

Philippe had simply slipped a strong arm around his shoulders and said, 'They might not, but I do,'

He looked up at Philippe now, his eyes were not filled with tears like a child but they were clouded with hurt and so Raoul repeated, 'I do want you here, please stay,'

'I'd be happy to,' Philippe said, after a long moment of hesitation. 'Maybe a coffee wouldn't hurt either,'

When Christine and Benoit left the theatre she felt ecstatic, the full dress run through had been an absolute success and she felt on top of the world. Not only that, but Benoit had also enjoyed himself and befriended a couple of the other young boys who were there watching their mother's too. It was a wonderful feeling being able to take Benoit to rehearsals, being proud of him and being able to show him where some of his musical talent had come from.

The cab clunked along the cobbled road until they reached her home. After paying the driver she followed Benoit into the house and through to the kitchen, which smelt gloriously of lamb and herbs. Helen was standing at the stove, her dark hair pulled back into a tight bun, stirring away at something that looking like gravy and smelt divine.

She turned when she heard the door close, 'Good evening Vicomtess,'

'Hello Helen,' Christine said, as she leaned over her to smell the gravy.

When Christine moved away Helen warned her, 'Comte de Chagny is here for dinner,'

She tried to hide her sigh as she said, 'Thank you, Helen,'

She followed Benoit into the dining room where she found Raoul and a not too sober but also, not too drunk, Philippe sitting at the table, which was set ready for dinner. She walked in, hiding her displeasure as best she could, and greeted her husband with a fleeting kiss to the cheek. Benoit bounded in and hugged his father before taking up his usual seat at the table with his back to the window.

When Christine sat down Raoul smiled at her, his eyes twinkling but concerned, and said, 'I asked Philippe to stay for dinner,'

'I can see that,' Christine said, trying not to sound terse but she was unsuccessful and immediately regretted it.

'We have enough food,' Raoul said, a little defensively. 'And Helen doesn't mind, one extra is not too much additional work,'

Christine sucked back a sigh and smiled at Philippe, 'How was your day?'

He glanced at her, 'It was fine, rehearsals?'

'Rehearsals went incredibly well,' she turned to Raoul. 'You should come to the next run through,'

He nodded. 'I'd love to, but I am tempted to wait for opening night… I want that feeling of seeing it for the first time,' he reached across and took her hand in his, a moment of tenderness to break the tension. 'I want to see you the way you always look on opening night and not be clouded by a dress rehearsal,'

His words melted her and instantly he was forgiven, as he would always be while he loved her this much. The days had merged to months and then years but their marriage was somehow strong, in the face of everything. She saw in his eyes that every day he loved her more. She loved him, too, but was not sure she was capable of such devotion, such unadulterated commitment.

She wondered if only men fell that hard as she leaned across and pressed her lips to his cheek. 'I have asked them to reserve a box,'

Raoul smiled, 'Which box, the one to the right?'

She nodded. 'The one with the best view of the stage, I asked for it… for you,'

He turned to Benoit and asked, playfully, 'Will you be accompanying me?'

Her son grinned, his whole face lighting up as it always did when he smiled, 'Of course,'

'Your mother,' Raoul said, leaning towards Benoit, 'She's something special on that stage,'

'Oh, I know,' Benoit said. 'The dress rehearsal was excellent,'

'Wait until you see the whole thing,' Raoul told him. 'The rehearsals are good but they are nothing compared to the full show, with the crowd and your mother, beautiful and proud…'

He glanced at her and was about to say more when Helen wheeled the trolley in and started placing the food in bowls in the centre of the table. Philippe's eyes lit up when he saw the food but he was uncharacteristically quiet and Christine was left wondering what had happened before she arrived.

The lamb and potatoes were succulent and tasty, and Philippe polished his food off and took seconds before Christine had even finished her first plate. She noticed that Raoul kept glancing at her but she did not catch his eye.

Helen had baked a cherry and almond cake but Christine chose to decline and asked her to draw a bath, so that she could finally begin to relax for the evening. Plates cleared, Benoit was sent to study and then sleep, while the adults stayed and made civil, yet uninteresting, small talk.

Philippe ending up spending the night, slinking off when he could no longer keep his eyes open, to the guest room upstairs.

When they were sure he had gone, Raoul said, 'I'm sorry about that,'

Christine stared at him. 'I wasn't happy when I got here, but its fine,'

'I know,' he said, sighing. 'He was really very drunk when he arrived,'

'He wasn't entirely sober by the time I got here,' she pointed out.

He shook his head. 'He's my brother,'

'I know,' she said but was feeling less than charitable. She had been looking forward to the evening with her family and to have Philippe there was something of a letdown. 'I am constantly reminded,'

'Would you have me turf him out?' he asked.

'Do you want me to answer you honestly, Raoul?' she said. 'Or are you asking questions that you would prefer not answered at all?'

His dark eyes flashed with rare anger. 'He is my family, Christine,'

'He is a drunk,' she said, inner turmoil mounting as she wished she could stop herself yet felt unable to do so.

'I can help him,'

She shook her head and closed her eyes. 'You have been trying to help him for months,'

'He's lonely,'

'He has an abundance of friends and women, Raoul, how can he be lonely?'

'Not true friends,' he said. 'Not people who really care,'

She rolled her eyes.

'What about Jack?' Raoul asked.

Confused she said, 'What about him?'

'He has been taking him to bars,'

'Says Philippe,'

'Why would he lie?'

'Why wouldn't he?' Christine asked. 'And why would Jack take him to bars, perhaps Philippe met him at these bars.' She waited but when Raoul did not speak she said, 'Jack frequents bars, we know that, but he is not a drunk,'

'Do we trust Jack?' Raoul asked, his voice soft once again.

'Why wouldn't we?' she asked, furious at the suggestion that their friend was deliberately undermining Raoul's efforts to keep his brother away from the alcohol.

'Just… we don't really know him,'

'I wonder if we really know your brother anymore,'

Raoul stared at her, more hurt than angry now and said, 'I don't think this is getting us anywhere,'

She swallowed, hating to fight with her husband but angry at his constant defence of Philippe. 'You're right,' she said to him.

'Have your bath,' Raoul said, 'But don't stay angry,'

Christine nodded and let him leave, too tired to carry on the fight but too tired to follow him either.

After all these years she wondered if Philippe would be the death of her yet.


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Immokk

Part 12 of 39

<< Previous     Home     Next >>