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BY : Agent Sculder
Category: M through R > Phantom of the Opera
Dragon prints: 12728
Disclaimer: I do not own The Phantom of the Opera movie(s), nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters in this story that were originated by Gaston Leroux in his original work. Many of those characters were also used by Andrew Lloyd Webber in his adaption of the story into the musical. I only own those characters created by me for the purposes of this story.

Author's Note: I have made some changes due to my posting error. Sorry for the confusion! Please read and review.

April in Paris 1873, two years after the following the events of The Phantom of the Opera.

Setting: The Metropolitan Opera House, Paris

Madame Antoinette Giry looked her new charges up and down. With the exception of her daughter Meg, the corps de ballet was dreadful. There was talent there, but they lacked discipline. She knew she could fix that. At the same time, she thanked God for the terrible reviews of the Paris Opera’s latest production. Without them, she and Meg would still be languishing in one of the small theaters that had become their homes over the past two years. But after reading that the ballet had been singled out as needing the most work, she had presented herself to the manager, offering her services.

Understandably, he had been hesitant. Her name was as blackened as the interior of the Opera Populaire. There were even rumors that she had somehow been involved in the tragic incident. But Monsieur Dupoix was a desperate man. Her reputation had been spotless, and the ballet at the Populaire had always been lauded as being exceptionally fine. It would be a shame for his opera house not to have the finest instructor available simply because of some idle gossip.

Today was the first day of rehearsals for Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and afterwards Madame Giry was nearly startled out of her skin when she felt a hand tap her on the shoulder. She turned rapidly to find a young woman towering over her. She was swathed from head to foot in black, the only color on her a small white broche fastened to her throat. It was a most unusual dress for a young woman of her years.

“Madame Giry? Please allow me to apologize for frightening you. I wanted to introduce myself before you left. I am so glad that you and your daughter have come to join us.”

She stood there momentarily puzzled. Who was this woman? She had to be a member of the opera chorus, for she was far too large to be a dancer. Singers rarely spoke to dancers. They usually considered them beneath them. The fact of the matter was, the singers were jealous of the dancers luck at snagging wealthy patrons. Unless one was a principle, they usually languished in the background, unnoticed. For one to extend such pleasant greetings to the ballet mistress was unheard of.

“I thank you, Mademoiselle. And who might you be?” she inquired..

“My name is Gianna Burnside. I am a member of the opera chorus. I often understudy for the lead mezzo and alto.” She paused for a moment, then continued, “I was so thrilled Mr. Dupoix was willing to overlook that silly Phantom business and hire you. I’ve enjoyed your work at the Populaire since I was a child.”

“It is rare to find a singer so interested in the ballet.” Before Giry could continue, she was cut off by one of her young charges running up her, holding a note in her hands.

“Mr. Dupoix told me this was delivered this morning, and that I should give this to you once rehearsals were over.” With that, she thrust the paper toward the ballet mistress, who snatched it away with a roll of her eyes, then the child dashed off toward the dormitories. Mlle. Burnside observed all this, and took this to be a good moment to excuse herself.

“Mme. Giry, I shall leave you your note. Perhaps we can talk some other time,” she added with a smile. The dark figure then disappeared into the shadows of the stage, with only the sound the light footfalls of her heeled boots.

The note was affixed with a red seal. Although it was not the death’s head of old, Giry did not have to open it to know who it was from. Inwardly, she was relieved to know he was not dead. But she had hoped he would leave Paris behind and make a new life for himself in a new city, in a new opera house. Sighing, she opened the letter:

Greetings Mme. Giry,

I will meet you after supper in your room. There is much for us to discuss.

Always, Erik

She would have to find a way to keep Meg away. That should not be difficult. The child had wanted to spend sometime with the other dancers. Perhaps that was a good thing. Lately, she had caught her daughter spending far too much time holding the white mask she had recovered from the Phantom’s lair, and gazing at it lovingly.

______________________________________________________________________________________

Later that evening . . .

As Giry turned her key in the lock, instinctively she knew what was waiting behind the door. And there he stood, and it was if two years had not passed. Dressed in impeccably tailored black trousers, waistcoat, a white lawn shirt and black cravat around his neck, he cut a dashing figure. On the right side of his face was a white mask, obscuring his deformity. The left side was heart breaking in its near perfection. His blue-green eyes flashed at her, and she found herself unable to look him in the face.

“Surprised to see me, Antoinette? Had you hoped I perished in the fire?” he said.

“You must be mad to even think I would wish that on you,” she spat back. A moment passed, and nothing but silence rose between them. For a moment, she nearly forgot he was there. Suddenly, he spoke, “How is she Antoinette?” His black gloved hand shot out from his side and grabbed her wrist, “I must know.”

Raising her head, she answered him. There was only one woman Erik would ever speak of that way. “Christine is fine. She is happy. She even writes me on occasion. But I believe it is difficult for her in her current situation to contact me as often as she would like.”

“Is she in Paris?” he inquired, his eyes closed in silent comtemplation.

“She and the Vicomte are at his estate in the country. She hasn’t been near the city in nearly a year.”

“Why? She always loved it here. Does she think so little of her old life then? Of her friends?” he questioned, his voice filled with disdain.

“Erik, Christine has a child now.” She had not wanted to tell him this right away. She could have tried to lie to him; that becoming a vicomtess had changed her. But he would know if she was deceiving him. She looked him directly in the eyes, “They had a little boy. His name his Phillipe. They love him and each other far beyond what I can put into words. I beg you, leave them alone.”

Giry was amazed when Erik loosened his grip, his leather clad hands falling to his side, coming to rest on the sides of his wool trousers, and looked away. Was it possible he understood? He changed the subject to something they could both be more comfortable with as she made her way over to the small vanity to take down her hair.

“The ballet needs work,” he intoned flatly as he sunk into the chair she kept by her bed. She nodded in affirmation. “How long have you been watching them?”

“A little over a month.”

“What do you think of the rest of them?” she inquired, frankly interested in his assessment of the opera company.

“The singing is fine. Perhaps they need to vary the repertoire a bit. There are other composers besides Mozart. But I have no complaints about chorus or the principles.”

Giry turned and raised a lone eyebrow. He let out a low chuckle, “Have I shocked you, my friend?”

“To say the least.”

“Dupoix is not a fool. He does not tolerate the overblown Italian divas like Carlotta. There are too many talented sopranos who are willing to work without the complications.”

“Does this mean you will not be interfering?” she gazed at him questioningly, praying he would say yes.

“For now, I am content to observe. Depending on how rehearsals go, I may have to make my presence known to the management,” he replied smoothly, keeping his voice low.

“Erik, is that wise? Do you not think they will come after you? They know you are human. There is still a price on your head. Dupoix might want to collect on it.”

“He was there that night. He knows what I am capable of. He will be too frightened to act.” He stopped as he rose slowly from the chair and continued, “Foremost, he is a good businessman. He would rather do as I say then risk me bringing this place down around his ears.” Giry was struck by the fact Erik still moved like a cat, silent and quick. Sometimes his elegant movements broke her heart. He could have been a fine dancer had he been taught. All that natural grace and sensuality never to be put use because of his face. There had been nights where she had laid awake and hated Christine for what she had done to him. Erik deserved to have a woman love him. She prayed nightly that would happen soon. In the meantime, she wanted to know why he had returned after being away for close to two years.

“What have done with yourself since I last saw you?” she inquired, hoping he would not find her question overly intrusive.

“Traveling mostly. I spent some time in London and later moved on to Spain. Most recently, I have been Italy. I spent a season attending the opera at La Scala in Milan. It was a singular experience.”

“Then why did you come back? This place must only hold bad memories for you.”

“Not this place. The Populaire,” he continued as he paced around the small room. “After she left me, I only wanted to escape, but last year I found myself longing to see Paris in the spring again. To be frank with you, Antionette, I miss my work. And I find idleness does not agree with me.”

Mme Giry was about to reply, but the creak of approaching footsteps on the floorboards startled her, and before she knew it, Erik had disappeared through her closet without saying good evening.


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