Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Immokk

Part 18 of 39

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For the next couple of days Erik played that meeting in his office over and over in his mind until he could bear it no more. He had intricately analysed every aspect of the short, yet overwrought, meeting, going over the words, the actions, the tone. Still, he came up with no conclusions. At the end of Christine's visit he had felt the usual dull ache in his heart, that damaging feeling of rejection, feelings he was used to and yet, they still hurt all the same.

Over the course of his musing he had begun to feel better about the whole thing. After all, why would she visit him to simply tell him that she was fulfilling her contact? He had not, for one moment, considered the prospect that she would not. She had given him no indication that she intended to quit and so she had no reason to storm into his office aside from the fact that she wanted to see him.

On the other hand, she had been furious with him. Her eyes, her body, every inch of her had been rigid with frustration and he could not miss it, he often felt it himself.

She was beautiful when she was angry.

Let it go, she had said, but how could he?

How could he let it go, after all this time, all of these years? How could he turn his back and forget this, now that she was back in his life? How could he let her leave again, now that he had her so close? He was convinced that, in the remaining eight months of her contract, he could win her around.

She might deny it now but he knew that he once had her heart. Though he had not mentioned that night to her he had alluded to it and she had told him, the night on the balcony, that she had loved him. Erik knew from experience that this kind of feeling, this kind of love, did not dissipate with ease. It did not just dissolve into nothing, it did not leave you. Once you have loved like that you never stopped, it never left, it never died.

She had loved him. She had told him. He had seen it, he had felt it and he had known it.

As painful as her rejections had always been and would always be, he knew that deep down something must remain, some love, if only fleeting. Erik had changed, he had worked hard. No longer was he a complete social outcast, he did not live in a cave, he was not afraid to go out into the daylight. He was convinced that over time she would see him again for what he was then and what he had become now.

Of course, there were some things that would never change. He would always do things his way and he would always win. Although he ventured out in the daylight he still preferred the darkness, the night. His face was no different, he still did not own more than one mirror and his temper was still fierce. They were facets of his character that he either could not or would not change.

Not even for Christine.

Yet, he was different. He was much calmer. He wondered if it was his age or the fact that he now lived in a country where he could easily get what he wanted. Either way, he was more in control of his temper… even if it was as fierce when he finally succumbed to it.

When he heard voices at the end of the corridor behind the stage, he slipped quietly into the shadows, blending into the blackness. He did this out of habit now, not necessity, but it was still a useful trick.

'Yes of course,' he heard the female voice. Youthful and irritatingly high pitched.

'In which case,' the other woman said, and he recognised her voice immediately. 'I will see you tomorrow,'

'Thank you!' the young squeak said and then went off down the corridor and out of sight, leaving her mistress alone in the dimness of the hallway.

Erik waited a moment and when the woman walked past him, he slid from the blackness and stood behind her.

'Antoinette,' he said, ensuring that his voice remained soft so as not to startle her. Unfortunately, it did not have quite the desired effect and she jumped around, her hand flying to her mouth.

'It can't be,' she said, her voice quiet behind her fingers.

He managed a smile, one he used rarely. She stepped closer.

'It is you,' she said.

He nodded. 'How are you, my friend?'

She stared for a long moment before saying, 'Shocked,'

Again, he smiled. 'It is good to see you,'

Her eyes remained fixed to his face as she searched her mind. He knew what she was thinking and he knew that she was torn. Her loyalty to Christine was one of a motherly kind and she cared for le vicomte but she had always, always, been his confidante. After what seemed an eternity she wrapped her arms around him and squeezed him close.

'You have filled out,' she said, patting his sides.

He laughed. 'Are you saying that I am fat, Madame?'

She laughed and he was warmed by the sound. 'Not at all, you look wonderful,' she pulled back and touched his hair. 'Not even a hint of grey,'

He ignored the comment and said, 'You look very well yourself, Antoinette,'

She grinned, which was so unusual for her it took him aback. 'It's been many years since someone spoke my name so beautifully… I have missed you my friend,'

'And I you,' he said and he meant it, wholeheartedly. She was one of only two true friends he had ever known. Leaving her at the port in Calais all those years ago had been a very difficult thing to do. She had no idea where he was going and neither did he. He did not feel any sadness though because somehow he knew that they would meet again.

'So, you are Schwarz then?' she asked although the glimmer in her eyes told him that she knew.

'You didn't suspect?' he asked.

She shook her head, rolled her eyes, 'I feel like I should have now, though,'

He nodded.

'Schwarz,' she laughed. 'Monsieur Noir, Mister Black… and Verkleiden…'

'I had to reinvent myself,' he said.

'Not too much though, I see,' she said with a tsk. 'Hiding in the shadows,'

At this he smiled again. 'Old habits die hard,'

A moment of quiet eased into their space and although they were both comfortable in it, it felt to him as though something needed to be said. It was as if there was something hanging there between them.

Antoinette's curious eyes found his and it was his old friend that broke the silence, 'You are different,'

'Not so much,'

'Your face is tanned,' she said. 'From the sun…'

He nodded.

She shook her head. 'I remember a time, not so long ago, you would rarely leave your home, even at night,'

'America is different,'

'You smile more,'

'With good reason,' he said, with a slight shrug of his shoulders, 'I'm rich,'

She tapped his shoulder with her palm, 'You were rich before,' and then, suddenly, her expression was serious. 'Does she know?'

He glanced up, knowing exactly who she was talking about but wanting to forget it all for a moment.

'Christine…' she clarified, although it was evident to both of them that there was no confusion.

'She knows,'

'From the start?'

He shook his head.

'The ball,' she said, with realisation.

'Yes,' he said.

'She has been here for years, Erik, why leave it until now?'

He turned away from her not wanting her to see his face, 'I tried, I failed… she is an addiction,'

He felt her hand on his shoulder. 'She is as dangerous as one for you,'

'I'm not afraid,' he said, turning to face her.

She smiled at him. 'I know that, Erik, even as a teenager you feared nothing,'

He didn't respond.

'It wasn't healthy then and it is not healthy now,'

If anyone else even attempted to lecture him in this fashion they would find themselves caught in a precarious position between life and death. Antoinette Giry was the only person, barring one other, that he would tolerate in this way.

Sometimes, he even listened to her.

'She has not told Raoul,' Antoinette said to him.


'Eventually, he will find out,' she said.

'Of course,' Erik said. He knew that Raoul would indeed, find out. Over time it would be increasingly difficult to avoid the occurrence, but so far he had managed to do just that. He was not worried, though, not even in the slightest. The only thing he ever worried about was Christine.

'He will be angry,'

Erik laughed. 'I'm not scared of his anger,'

Antoinette looked serious, 'I know, Erik, and with your intelligence and strength you have no reason to fear a battle with Vicomte de Changy,'

'But...' He said, knowing that one was about to follow.

'He will take her back to Paris,' she told him. 'You know that,'

'By then, perhaps she will not want to go back to Paris,' he said.

Antoinette reached out and held his hand in hers, her palm was warm and familiar and he felt as though they had never been apart. She knew him and he knew her, as if it were only yesterday they were conversing beneath the Opera Populaire, hidden away from prying eyes.

'This won't end well, Erik,'

A small bubble of anger developed in his stomach but one look at the concern in her eyes burst it immediately. 'It will end how it ends,' he shrugged.

She nodded, knowing that the conversation was over.

'How is your daughter?' he asked. He did not care much for Meg Giry but it always made Antoinette happy when he asked, so he did.

'She is getting married,'

This surprised him. He wasn't quite sure why anyone would marry such an irksome girl. Antoinette must have seen the confused look on his face because she smiled and said, 'She is not seventeen anymore, Erik,'

Even so, he wondered if the gentleman in question had truly lost his mind. 'So, she is fairing well, then?'

'She is,' Antoinette replied.

'Good,' he said with a nod. The only reason that Meg's health and well being even remotely interested him was that if Meg was happy then so was Antoinette, if she was hurt… so was Antoinette.

'Have you seen Nadir?' she asked, suddenly.

He shook his head and felt heavy at the mention of his other friend's name. 'The last I heard from him was around a year ago, he was unwell,'

Antoinette nodded. 'I haven't seen him in longer than that,'

Erik said nothing.

'He was hurt when you left without him,' Antoinette told him after long pause.

'I couldn't let him come,'

Antoinette shrugged. 'I understand but he wanted to help you,'

'He survived,'

'Yes, he was good at that,'

Erik looked at her. 'You think he's dead,'

She sighed. 'It is a possibility,'

'I would have heard,' Erik insisted, though he wondered if he really would have.

'And who would have sent word?' she asked. 'No one knows that you are here,'

'Someone would have told you though, surely,' Erik said and he did not want to think of his friend as gone.

'Perhaps,' she said. 'I'm sorry for the depressing conversation,'

'I love nothing more than a depressing conversation,' he said forcing a smile. 'It makes a change for there to be a different source other than me,'

This time it was Antoinette that broke into a smile. 'You're not all bad,'

'Don't let too many people hear you say that,' he said. 'I have a reputation to maintain,'

She smiled and kissed his cheek, slipping her arm through his and walking along the corridor with him. 'I'm sure you do,' she said. 'Enough of this, tell me what you have been doing,'

Suddenly, he felt very at home.


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Immokk

Part 18 of 39

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