The Rose and the Mirror

Summary: Dreams come with a price, but Christine starts wondering when the price becomes too much…

A loud knock at her door at the Paris Opera.

“Christine – it’s Raoul here. I know you are in there because I can hear your wonderful singing,” came the familiar voice. Christine paused in the middle of her song and tensed. There was no sound from her Angel, yet she could feel a furious silence radiating from the mirror that covered a whole wall of her modest dressing room. With a nervous glance at the mirror she moved to the door, trying to act casually, fighting not to show her delight at seeing her childhood friend.

Ever since that special night two weeks ago when she had made her first solo appearance on the stage – oh, how nervous she had felt – Raoul de Chagny had persistently courted her after being spellbound so he had said when he had first heard her sing. She had recognised him instantly, both of them having met many years ago when Christine was at the seaside with her dear Papa, and Raoul had been there with his tutor.

If only things were simple now as they were then…

Opening the door she couldn’t help but smile at Raoul standing in the passageway, looking like a prince with his tall stature, blond hair and piercing grey eyes. He smiled back with disarming charm and presented her with a bouquet of pink roses with a flourish.

“For the lady who is more beautiful than the rose. I had this wonderful idea of us going to a restaurant tonight at 7.30 – what do you say?”

“I cannot tonight as I am busy rehearsing,” Christine said softly, yet her Angel, aka the infamous Phantom of the Opera behind the mirror, was angry to hear regret in her voice.

Raoul had a thick skin, and took this in his stride.

“Well then, what about tomorrow? It would be lovely if you and I visit the zoo, and a maybe a walk afterwards”.

Christine opened her mouth to refuse, but suddenly became wistful at the thought of going to the zoo. When she had arrived here in Paris she had been obsessed with the thought of becoming a great singer, and upon arriving at the Paris Opera she had drawn the attention of her mysterious Angel who urged her on with dreams of glory. Her life was consumed with singing, her time filled with his song. Yet recently she had started to wonder what she was turning into…

“I will think about it”, she said and flushed. She had said too much already.

“Thank you for the flowers Raoul – I have to go,” she said hastily and she hurriedly shut the door.

She turned and moved back to the music stand with its sheets of music that she had been singing from, dropping the bouquet of flowers casually on a spare chair, ignoring a couple of spare petals in her hand that had come off the bouquet. That way, my Angel will not suspect how much I love them, she secretly thought.

Turning to the vast mirror she said in a surprisingly steady voice “Shall we take up where we left off?”

There was only silence from the mirror, an angry silence that made Christine’s heart sink and she paled slightly. Oh, how she hated it when her Angel was furious with her, most of the reasons mere trivia such as flubbing a few scales occasionally or “glancing too long at an admirer”.

“I will not tolerate disobedience!” snapped the resonant, beautiful voice from the mirror. “I have not invested my time in a budding soprano just to see her throw her chance of stardom away on the first aristocrat that comes along!”

Indignation bubbled up inside her, but Christine pushed those rebellious feeling back down inside her. It was true that many an aspiring singer at the Paris Opera had thrown away her chances of being the Prima Donna to be merely mistresses of the rich nobles who pursued them, but Raoul was different, she knew it. However, she also knew she was never good at winning arguments, and knew better than to answer back to her Angel.

The voice continued.

“Tomorrow you will say to this boy that this will be the last time you see him, and you will never talk to him again”.

Alarm and the repressed indignation flared up in her. Never see Raoul again? It wasn’t as if she was planning to marry him or anything, he was just a good friend.

“That is not fair!” she protested.

“What? You defy me, child?”

“I do not mean to, you know that dear Angel,” Christine burst out. “But he is my friend, that is all, nothing more”.

“Nevertheless,” the voice said coldly, “you will do as I say”. Then his voice softened suddenly. “You are on the brink of glory, my child, with a great future ahead of you. Why waste your time on those who would threaten that?”

The voice seemed to caress her. “Besides, there is still much I have to teach you…and show you”.

Mesmerised as always by her Angel, Christine felt her indignation fading away, to be replaced by a sense of dreamy peace. Yes, of course he was right. With her Angel to show her the way, her, no their future would be wonderful. Yes. She swayed gently towards the caressing voice.

“Yes”, she said dreamily, “I will tell Raoul I would never see him again.”

Unconsciously she closed her hand on the petals and gasped as her sharp fingernails pricked her palm, bringing her out of the spell the words of her Angel had spun around her.

“What is it Christine?” his voice called gently, but a chill started to run up her spine and the devotion she had for him faltered. Her Angel had her best interests at heart, but this…this manipulation he had just done was wrong, she knew it.

“I cannot believe you did that to me”, she whispered. “How could you do a thing like that?”

There was a cold anger and yet a sense of sadness in the voice now.

“You cannot have two conflicting things in your life Christine”.

“There is no confliction if I see Raoul occasionally!” she cried out.

If it was possible, the voice became colder.

“Then you must choose… either you obey my wishes and tell your friend that you will never see him again, or you will never hear my voice again”.

Her eyes widened in panic. “Oh no! My Angel, please do not go!”

All thoughts of Raoul and rebellion fled from her as she rushed to the mirror and clawed at it as she burst into tears. There was no answer from the mirror and despair filled her, then a fresh chill went down her spine as it occurred to her that if her Angel could mesmerise her into docile submission just because Raoul was interested in her, what else could he do to make her obey him?

She slowly got to her feet with tears still running down her face. Battling against the wrenching pain inside her she softly brushed her hand against the mirror in final farewell.

Then she turned and fled the room. She heard the sound of shattering glass behind her but she did not stop to look back. If she were lucky she would be able to find Raoul, and maybe a whole lot of other things as well for the first time.

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