It was ten minutes to nine that morning. Normally Erik Destler by this point during his weekend off would be locked away in his room composing.
But instead the masked maestro was pacing rather impatiently in the sitting room.
Jareth sighed, watching his roommate. "She'll show up, don't overreact."
Still Erik kept pacing back and forth methodically. It was obvious to the Goblin King that Erik was completely hung up on this woman. Ever since he, James, and Javert watched the two exit the elevator together the other day. Something about the way the masked man spoke to her and she to him. And the lack of arias drifting through the quiet air, and his roommates anxiousness doubled that suspicion.
And even moreso the fact that Jareth was still lounged in his boxers, draped across the couch, and hadn't heard a single protest of 'indecency' from the Frenchman.
"It's one date." The blond tried to enforce, it wasn't natural for Erik to be so on edge. And with his not so spotless track record, worrying would not help matters at all.
"I fail to have ever stated that my meeting with Ms. Defoe was ever a date." The Opera Ghost finally spoke up.
"Are you going to be meeting with anyone else?"
"So you'll be alone?"
"Do you think she's attractive?"
"Well yes, but I hardly understand how-"
"Sounds like a date."
Erik scowled, but even with the Goblin King's pestering, was he right? Could he, the Phantom of the Opera be waiting on a date? It just seemed so improbable to even consider.
Why? Oh yes, because clearly things are going so well with you and Christine. Has she invited you to the wedding yet?
He tried to ignore that snide voice in the back of his mind.
She's moved on, maybe it's your turn too! Much has changed.
Indeed things had. Jareth was hardly the type Erik ever expected to be a flatmate with-if he were to ever imagine living in such a place-the Goblin King was no Daroga that was certain. But while childish and aggravating the blond could be, in a bizarre sense, Jareth's company was enjoyable to a degree. And albeit the commodore and inspector were an odd pair as well, the Opera Ghost was starting to feel a sort of kindled spirit with the three men becoming more a part of his life in this new world.
Erik was brought out of his clouded thoughts as a resounding knock echoed into the sitting room of the apartment. Erik was overly anxious as to whether or not she would come. He could feel his heart flutter with nervousness and anticipation as he stopped pacing and walked to the door. To say the least he was indeed nervous.
"Well are you going to answer?" Jareth asked, leaning his head on the back of the couch.
With a long sigh Erik opened the door, and there she was standing there. She did look just as radiant as she had that rainy afternoon, even moreso seeing her without her hood up.
"Good morning mademoiselle Defoe," He greeted.
"Good morning Erik, I hope I'm not too late?" Mag politely asked
"Not at all, perfect timing actually." He paused, unsure what to say next. He turned to where Jareth was lounging on the couch, whom simply smirked and with a fingers snap vanished in a cloud of glitter. "Did you want to come in? We can go to a more suitable place if you prefer?"
"Oh no here is alright if you'll have me, thank you." Walking in, Erik guided her to the sitting room. Mag had often thought of the possibility of regaining her eyesight, even now feeling vulnerable without such a sense. But the dark haired soprano felt very at ease with this man. Something about him, they did have some time whilst trapped in the elevator to get to know each other, not long but even still.
"I appreciate you wishing to see me again Magdalene." Erik said, gently guiding her to the now vacant couch to have a seat-steering clear of the cushion now covered in glitter.
She smiled at how formal he was, "Please, just Mag is perfectly fine. And I was quite happy to get your call! I was hoping our first meeting would not be the last."
"As was I mademoiselle, could I offer you some tea?" He asked, filling the tea kettle
"Yes, thank you."
Both seated, two cups of steaming earl grey tea held, Erik tried to let the words come out but could say nothing. What should he say? Should he ask more about her? Some remark on the weather? Fortunately the masked man did not need to.
"So you mentioned doing work at St. Jude?" Mag asked, sipping her tea.
"Oui, I've just been given a position teaching advanced music theory and technique at the university." He explained.
"Interesting, have you been teaching very long?"
"In the classroom scene no. I did, shall we say, give private singing lessons before this." Erik paused, he was not about to lie to Mag about his past, but was it wise to bring this up? If he hoped to find some common ground with her, it would have to come up eventually. "I must confess to you mademoiselle, I feel I should tell you I haven't exactly been a...well mannered music instructor in the past."
"And what do you mean?"
Granted he didn't spout off from Overture to the very end, but more or less explained to Mag his previous lessons with Christine, how things didn't turn out as he had expected, between the presence of the Vicomte, going even going as far as to mention his own malicious acts.
"A stagehand, and then a cast member you say?" Mag asked, listening intently.
Erik sighed, "There were others before that. Not necessarily by my own hand, anyone fool enough to fall into one of my traps, some that had to be silenced so that I could stay hidden. But as far as that story goes, yes. There may have been a concierge killed when the chandelier fell."
"And you made it fall?"
"Yes. I'm sorry if I must come off as rather horrid to you, but it did not seem very fair to pull the wool over your eyes." Erik's eyes widened at what he'd just said. "I'm so sorry Magdalene! I didn't mean to say that, it was insensitive of me!"
Surprisingly he heard her chuckle, "Think nothing of it Erik, I've heard much worse. As for what you've told me, I understand. But you seem to have left the past in the past. I don't like to judge on what happened then while we're living in the here and now. After all, we are not without skeletons in our closets."
The Opera Ghost was at a loss for words. Never had anyone he just met been so accepting of what he'd done.
"I do appreciate your sentiment Mag," Erik said, feeling a smile grace his lips. "Again I feel I must apologise though, I mean-"
A hand held up she shook her head, "It's quite alright, after what happened I'm use to it."
He frowned, looking at the bandages that concealed where her eyes should be. He wondered if they were blue, or green, perhaps hazel?
"And even now you wear a mask?" Mag asked,
Erik's hand drifted up to his face, "What with the buildings latest tenants, my wearing a piece of porcelain is hardly unusual to the others. But to let anyone see my face...I'm sure if you could see it mademoiselle you would agree."
"But I can't,"
Erik felt a delicate hand on his shoulder, and felt it move up to his face. With her touch Mag could feel the unscathed skin and then drifting her hand to the other side feeling the cold porcelain of his mask. Erik couldn't help the warm shiver he felt at her gentle touch.
"A half mask?"
"Since adapting from the book you see."
"Ah," Mag said, her finger tips just grazing warm skin under the mask.
"I... I uh...that's-" Erik stammered, force of habit bringing his hand over the mask and in turn over Mag's nimble fingers.
"I'm sorry," She dropped her hand back down to her lap.
"Not at all, I understand." Erik paused, "I'll get some more tea."
Standing in the kitchen, the Opera Ghost's mind was somewhere else. She almost unmasked him! How could he let her get that close?
You weren't exactly pushing her away. Maybe you wanted her to be.
Only Christine had ever gotten this close, but that wasn't like this. Wasn't so...willingly.
His attention was brought back to the present hearing a soft sound from the sitting room. Mag missed the stage, albeit the only thing about Geneco she missed. And more often than not found herself singing to no one in particular. Just an urge to let it out.
"You're quite talented Mag," Erik said, once again seated. "I couldn't help hearing you earlier. It was lovely but I don't recognise the aria."
"An older piece of work the Largos-my previous employers-put together for me to sing," She explained. "You've told me your story Erik, it seems fair to tell you mine if you'll listen."
Erik's shock he wasn't sure came from either hearing of such an R-rated history or that Magdalene had to live in such a reality.
"I can't be too angry with Nathan at least, he did have a change of heart about taking the job." The dark haired soprano said. "And the past is behind me. I'm happy at least to have Shilo in my life again."
"Does the girl sing as well? Sounds like she thinks very highly of you." Erik asked
"A self taught learner. Though that's not to say she doesn't have talent and she's not too old to learn. Geneco took me in for my voice when I was about her age."
The masked maestro cleared his throat,"If I could ask you?"
"Would I be able to trouble you for an aria?"
Mag smiled, her cheeks feeling warm at the request, "You want to hear me sing?"
Music was close to her heart, and she could feel for this man it was too.
Clearing her throat, Mag let her body relax as the music practically drifted through the air like heavy mist.
Midnight, not a sound on the pavement
Has the moon lost her memory
She is smiling alone
In the lamplight, the withered leaves collect at my feet, and the wind begins to moan.
Erik was speechless as he listened to the soprano. She had an exquisite voice! He had heard a lovely snippet of her music in the elevator, but had no idea just how talented Mag was to harness such a voice.
It's so easy to leave me
All alone with my memory
Of my days in the sun
If you touch me
You'll understand what happiness is
Look a new day has begun
The song finished, Mag asked "What did you think? I know it wasn't my best, but it's been sometime since my days at the opera."
The Opera Ghost chuckled, "No no, it was perfect! You don't give yourself enough credit."
"You're quite the charmer Erik," Mag smiled.
"I know talent when I hear it," Erik paused, the gears turning in his mind. "Perhaps, if you were willing to, you could help me with something?"
"What would that be?"
"I've been writing a new score, but I have no one that is as musically inclined that can perform it quite the way I want."
"I see," The offer was enticing, and Mag was quite curious to hear the music he could write. "What about Christine? You had said since coming here you two are on better terms?"
"Well, she is quite good-I of all people know this. But she's been far too busy with her classes, and this piece I'm not sure exactly fits Christine's leitmotif."
Mag had no sort of ill will towards the girl, only knowing what Erik told her about Ms. Daee. But the fact that this masked maestro was asking her for her voice over his former pupil's was flattering.
"I would be very honoured. But I must ask, you don't perform your own work?" She asked
Erik shrugged, "This piece could use a gentler touch to mine. I don't have the voice for it."
"If I help you, perhaps you could show me what you do have the voice for?"
Erik smiled at the proposal, for someone asking him to sing.
"How long have they been in there?" James asked, indicating to the closed bedroom door on the right. Even with the door closed the boys could hear Erik's pipe organ at work, and a female voice on the other side.
"Too long," Jareth sighed, not that he had a problem with Magdalene's singing, but having to listen to Erik's insufferable instrument for hours on end. The Goblin King could only take hiding out in the castle with only his goblin subjects for company for so long. It had been a few weeks since Erik and Mag had begun to form a tight knit companionship. More and more the Phantom played host to Mag's company. And when she was over, Erik's door would close and the apartment was filled with music. And the boys soon noticed a certain spring in the Opera Ghost's step nowadays, never had they seen Erik so...happy.
"Can't you make him stop due to noise complaints?" The blond asked Javert.
"No one's made such complaints in the building,"
"What about me?!"
While no one complained, many of building 42's residence were entranced by the the symphony.
"I told you! She's great isn't she?" Shilo raved to Sarah as she could hear Mag's voice through the air duct in the apartment.
"Yeah, she's really good," Sarah agreed, but looking over to Christine who sat silently next to them, she could see was not looking happy. "Chris-"
"Don't." The blonde said flatly, getting up toward her room.
Shilo frowned sadly, "I don't understand? I thought she and Erik were okay now?"
Sarah heard the door slam closed leaving the two alone in the sitting room. Sure she could see why Christine might feel uncomfortable. Hearing Erik's music with someone else's voice.
As the building listened on, the tune changed as the organ pipes fell silent. And now it wasn't just sounding like Mag's voice alone anymore downstairs.
It was too entrancing not to listen to for any in the building that night. Even those that tried not to.
The last few weeks had been the best Mag had had in a long time.
Being away from the stage so long had been depressing for her, even if she didn't show it in front of Shilo. Nathan saw it, he tried to help her find something, any opportunities but nothing. Mag insisted he didn't have to, that she needed a break. But really it was something she ached for again. Singing distracted her from how lonely she felt. Even now that Nathan was allowing she and Shilo to have some long overdue time together, Mag hadn't felt whole.
So when she met Erik, it felt like she had found what was missing in her life. He was peculiar, but such a gentleman, charming in his own strange way. Erik had blood on his hands, but he hadn't been consumed by it. But he was very reserved, so shy, she remembered how frigid and tense he was when he finally let her remove his mask. She could not see with her eyes but feel the distortion and disfigurement Erik felt he had to hide. After all that Mag had seen, her fingers tracing over Erik's face, it really wasn't that horrible.
And when she heard his music. He had sat her down and began to play, Eric enjoyed playing the pipe organ, sometimes even the violin. He was quite the musical genius. But his voice was what enthralled her, she only ever dreamed of singing along side such a voice. And she wanted to do just that.
Erik's feeling had been just the same in turn. Even if Christine were not so busy, he knew things could not be the way they once were. And something about Mag, he felt like he could truly be himself around her. Even knowing who he was, she wasn't afraid of him. The fact that she wasn't disgusted or even scared when she touched him without the mask. She reshaped his world and his music.
Erik smiled at Mag, seated at the bench by the pipe organ. Gently grasping her hand, he helped her to her feet.
Taking a breather in, Erik began.
No more talk of loneliness
Forget these wide-eyed fears
I'm here, nothing will harm you
My words will warm and calm you
Let me be your freedom
Let moonlight dry your tears
I'm here, with you, beside you
To guard you and to guide you
Mag smiled, letting the sweet sound drift through her head. She looked forward to these nights. Clearing her throat Mag joined Erik in their duet.
Say you love me every waking moment
Turn my head with talk of winter nights
Say you need me with you now and always
Promise me that all you say is true
That's all I ask of you
Outside, the boys could hear everything. The walls were certainly anything but soundproof.
"That song," James said,
"And that voice." Javert remarked,
"What do you mean?" The commodore asked, not seeing the significance.
"Crawford," Jareth said. "Guess this answers my question about Christine."
James glanced at the blond with concern, "Do you think she knows?"
"If she didn't before I'm quite sure she does now." The Goblin King remarked, aware the sound was travelling through the walls.
Let me be your shelter
Let me dim harsh light
You're safe, no one will find you
Your fears are far behind you
The song hit a sensitive nerve, even with his own tweaks to it, it brought back memories for Erik. Albeit some were unpleasant, but their duet felt freeing. Unknowingly Erik's hand grazed along Mag's, and she drew him closer interlocking their fingers.
All I want is freedom
A world of eternal night
And you, always beside me
To hold me and to hide me
Even below, the girls were entranced by the melody.
"They sound amazing!" Shilo said with awe.
Sarah nodded, "Yeah."
Getting up from her seat she knocked on Christine's door.
"You alright Chris?" She asked, "If it's bothering you we can ask them to stop? I'm sure Erik wasn't tr-"
"Sarah, please just go away. It's fine, let them be." The blonde answered back on the other side.
Then say you'll share with me one love, one lifetime
Lead me save me from my solitude
Say you want me with you, here beside you
Anywhere you go, let me go too
Love me, that's all I ask of you
Christine just didn't understand what she was feeling at the moment. While they had their history, she thought of Erik as a dear friend, and wanted him to be happy. Clearly from what she-and everyone else-could hear he was quite happy. He was moving on with someone as the blonde soprano had for Raoul.
So then why was there a feeling of bitterness, perhaps jealousy building up in her? Sure the song was very dear to her, she could easily be angry for Erik to use it. But this bitterness being over a song? No, it just wasn't it.
Perhaps because Erik had only ever sung this way for Christine. He could throw his voice, alter it however he pleased, sing as any of his renditions. Yet he chose to use this one, use it for another.
Say you'll share with me one love, one lifetime
Say the word and I will follow you.
Share each day with me
Each night, each morning
Two voices singing together as one, Erik and Mag were lost in the passion of their melody. Mag let herself be pulled closer to him, bringing her hands up along his shoulders and up to cup his face. Erik let his arms encircle her waist, his hand tracing along the small of her back and the other stroking her soft raven hair.
Say you love me! Mag sang, her left hand gently prying away Erik's mask she could feel against her palm.
You know I do! Erik was mildly startled when she took off his mask. But for once he didn't care so much about that right now.
Love me, that's all I ask of you
What he cared about right now was the feeling of Mag leaning ever more closer. And when she could get no closer, she pressed her pristine lips against his own. This wasn't a forced kiss, Erik felt his eyes flutter closed knowing this was real. Truly there was someone that he could share his love for and that would willingly show him love back. And Magdalene was she!
Their kiss broke after what to the Opera Ghost felt was a blissful eternity.
Anywhere you go, let me go too!
Love me, that's all I ask of you
Their duet concluded, Erik looped his arms around Mag. She leaned her head against his shoulder as they stood there embraced, neither wishing to let go.
Everyone who hears the music that day is moved by its beauty. They pause, entranced by ethereal voices. It's as if angels descended for a duet. All who listen have their hearts lightened by the wonder of it. All but one...
Several little footnotes:
In page 97 I like to think Erik and Mag sing "All I Ask of You", and Michael Crawford being my favorite Phantom I like to imagine Erik using his voice for the duet he has with Mag-and the fact that Sarah Brightman plays Mag adds all the more to that mental image in my opinion. And what better reason for Christine to feel so jealous? So that's my take on what they sing together.
Obviously some of the lyrics I changed, Erik leans more towards the night than the light, so I gave him a more Phantom-y version so to speak.
The song Mag sings for Erik is "Memory" by Sarah Brightman