Ann is being watched.
Two days later she was horribly sick.
Julianne softly sobbed into Meg's lap as the woman soothed her.
"It's unfair!" She exclaimed through a coughing fit. "Aunt Meg, it's so unfair."
The woman sighed and pushed the younger woman back.
"It's natural." She said plainly. "I expected as much after that little exploration tour you took of our basements. And you're in a new environment love, the Opera house isn't as healthy a place as back home. You haven't been outside since you came here. And what's more, you're not eating right. I told you to tell someone when you're hungry - you can't just stroll to the kitchen like the rest of us you know."
The distraught youth hugged the woman's closer.
"You're not helping." She moaned from her skirts.
Meg laughed softly and moved her head from her lap.
"But I know what will." She said. "Rest, sleep and taking it slow for a few days." She took the wet cloth from the bowl next to the bed and rubbed it over Julianne's flushed face.
The girl pushed her hand away and tried to sit up.
"But what about practice?" She insisted. "Aunt Meg, what about Faust? I have to /listen/..."
The woman took her hand and squeezed it.
"Enough." She insisted. "Julianne, you will stay in bed until that throat clears and your fever breaks. After that I'll talk to M. Reyer. There will be other Operas."
She kissed the girl's forehead and stood up.
"I'll see you in a few hours and the doctor said that he'll stop by as well or send someone to check on you. Get some rest child. I've put some water for you close to the edge of the cabinet."
Julianne didn't say anything as she left the room.
Upset she turned away from the door and pressed her hand against the cold wall.
"But I want to sing in this one..." She whispered and closed her eyes.
She wasn't with the rest of the chorus
It wasn't that he specifically looked, but he had /noticed/.
A strange satisfaction settled around him.
He had been right off course, she probably couldn't handle it.
He had heard what they said of her and, as with all of the things that came from the human race it had not been pleasant. They were unforgiving, and impatient with people who were not like them. What's more, she was one of them. She was not a strange... Phantom that dwelled in the corner of their minds and fear.
No, she was young, beautiful... But yet, not perfect.
He took a strange satisfaction from the thought that they rejected one of their own.
Wandering aimlessly through the dark hidden passages, with no real destination in mind, he mused over Ann Leroux. As a spectator, he had to give her credit for her initial enthusiasm, if not her endurance. It had been presumptuous of her to even try to come here. Yet, if the stories were to be believed, she might not have had a choice.
He doubted it.
Paying attention for the first time, he noticed that a stroke of fate had brought him back to the part of the Opera that he had visited only days ago.
There had been, up until now, little need to go through the living quarters.
His visit to young Ann's room had been the first time he had been there in months.
Walking slower this time he deliberately avoided one passage and rather chose another route. There had been a time that this passage had been as well travelled as the one he avoided. It was a shorter route to get to some of the practice halls and, with the girl out of the room he could once again use it freely without fear of hindrance.
Navigating with an almost imposing confidence he wove his way through the dark passageways and stopped at a blank wall.
Practiced fingers found the old shift-in-brick and pretty soon a bar of dim light appeared in the wall. He pushed it open and went through.
There was a gasp and heavy breathing.
He turned around surprised and stared at the figure in the bed.
Young Ann Leroux shook with effort as she tried to stay upright, her face pale.
"Who's there?" She asked, her throat sounding dry and sore. "Aunt Meg... Somebody..."
She leaned forward and coughed.
He stayed very still, watching her.
The girl rubbed her forehead when she settled and run her hand down her face in a strange gesture he had seen before.
She looked around the room, trying to blindly pinpoint the presence that she sensed. When she heard nothing further she closed her eyes tightly and touched her temples gingerly.
He shifted and turned his head slightly to the side as he noticed a flimsy bandage wrapped around her right hand.
The movement immediately made her snap her head up again.
"I know your there." She managed. "I'm not deaf - who are you? Dr. Gaston?"
The bandage was bothering him. It was horribly done and about to fall off. He tried to remember whether she had had one on her hand when he saw her in the tunnels. He hadn't been close enough since then to notice. His memory came up empty, but he did remember finding fresh blood on his clothes.
She had kept her right hand on his wrist...
He turned to leave.
"Who are you?"
She coughed and sniffed in an attempt to clear her stuffy nose. There was a shift from the bed and a creak from the cabinet. A glass shattered to the floor.
The young Ann cursed fluently in /German/.
An educated girl.
He did not smile, but there was a touch of amusement behind the mask.
Watching her try to determine where the glass had fallen he realized that he felt a strange power watching her. It was quite clear that she sensed him, or that she was aware of his presence but, she did not know where he was.
He could do /anything/.
The feeling was strange.
"You better not be watching me." Ann muttered to his phantom presence, she felt around for her cane but it was standing by the door.
She started to slip her feet from the bed, right above the broken glass shards.
He reacted without thinking.
"You should stay in bed."
Ann gasped and stuffed her fist in her mouth.
"Why didn't you answer me?" She demanded breathlessly as she quickly tucked her legs back up. "Were you standing..." She started coughing again.
He glanced behind him where the next passageway was.
"...there watching me?" She was determined to finish her sentence.
He turned back to look at her.
She was paler, her cheeks flushed with fever. The bandage was dangling around her wrist.
He sighed and reached the bed in two quick strides.
"I was out for a moment."
She frowned in his direction.
"I could've sworn you were in the room the whole time." She said puzzled.
She trusted her senses.
He picked up the glass shards and placed them on the far end of the cabinet.
"You're ears are blocked because of the cold, lie back."
She didn't comply immediately and twisted her head slightly.
"I still wanted to tell her to move it back." She whispered embarrass and sighed.
He didn't appreciate the delay.
The finality in his tone made her winch.
She nodded and gingerly rested her head back on the pillow. Again a stray piece of hair moved over her eyes as she looked past him.
"Have we met before?" She asked out of the blue as he sat down.
He chose to ignore the question and studied the medicine on the cabinet.
Hesitating, he took the gloves from his hands and placed them on the cabinet.
Ann sat up again and before he completely realized what was happening she reached for his face. His reaction was immediate as his hand shot out and caught her wrist.
The girl gasped and squeezed her eyes shut.
"We have not met before." He told her coldly. "I'm here to check up on you, do not bother me. It is rude to invade people's personal spaces without permission."
She took a quick breath and bit her tongue.
"Oui Monsieur." She said quickly. "Pardon!"
They sat very still for a few moments until his grip on her wrist relaxed.
He closed his eyes and sighed.
"Put your head back again." His tones were softer this time, gentler.
Ann nodded and gingerly shifted back again. She coughed softly and rubbed her wrist.
He watched her, feeling a moment's regret but he pushed it away and rather reached out to briefly touch her forehead.
She was very warm.
"Has Dr. Gaston given you anything for blood poisoning yet?" He queried impassively.
Ann shrugged and touched her dry lips with the tip of her tongue.
"He gave Aunt Meg so many things to throw down my throat... Probably." She paused and smiled. "I'm surprised you didn't find me on the ceiling - it felt as if I was there."
He ignored the humorous comment and turned his attention to the hand he was still holding in his.
"This bandage is horribly done." He criticized.
Ann smiled again and rubbed her forehead with her free wrist.
"Don't criticize the composer's work in her presence." She muttered.
A touch of surprise.
"You did it yourself?" He queried.
Ann gave him a small smile and nodded. "That's why it's not perfect." She said. "Last time I wasn't really watching what I was doing."
Again there was no smile behind the mask.
He found that the wound was clean and rather just redid the bandage.
Young Ann patiently waited for him to finish, her breathing was beginning to deepen as she relaxed in his company.
"Could you talk?" She asked at some point.
Although he didn't show any, she must've sensed his surprise.
She smiled, a gesture that seemed to come so easily, and closed her eyes.
"The room's too quiet."
He frowned and finished with her hand.
"To talk, only for the act of talking is senseless." He told her as he stood up. "You should rest now, Dr. Gaston will come to see you soon."
He turned for the passageway.
Ann shifted and turned on her side; she seemed almost insulted by his words but didn't comment on it.
"Then, just stay here until I'm asleep." She asked. "It's very quiet when I'm alone."
There was no reply.
He was gone.
The young woman frowned and sat up. She hadn't heard the door opening.
She sniffed and touched her throbbing temple gingerly.
She had not imagined it.
She knew that she sometimes imagined and sensed things that weren't there but, this silent man had not been one of them.
She sniffed and touched the bandage around her hand.
No, she had not imagined it.
Sighing softly, she reached out to the cabinet for a drink of water. Her fingers brushed an unfamiliar object.
She paused and picked it up.
It didn't take her long to figure out what it was. She smiled and brought the pair of gloves to her nose. She loved the smell of leather.
And this pair told her even more than that.
The wearer wore expensive cologne, but touched a lot of dust and musty places. When she slipped in her hands she found that he was a big man with large hands...
She smiled, pleased with herself and strangely comforted.
Settling back she slipped her hands out and hugged the gloves to her chest...
Ann swallowed and carefully slipped her feet out of the bed. She paused and listened for sounds in the next room. Nothing or no one came to her attention.
She brightened up and pulled a shawl over her shoulders.
It had been two days since she was confined to her room and she was on the verge of loosing it.
When she was younger she had heard people describe her as active, excitable and reckless. She wasn't known for her talent to sit still and, as she considered herself to be better she didn't see the need to.
Slowly she made her way to the door, stopped to listen again and opened it.
As far as she could tell, there was nobody in the room.
Ann took a few breaths to calm her nerves and reached for her new cane that Mme. Giry had placed next to the door. She wasn't sure why the woman was so uncomfortable with it but she refused to give it up. Somehow she knew that it had been given to her. It was too ideal to belong to anybody else.
Ann turned her head around the room and sighed.
"Where's that lamp now Ann?" She muttered to herself and carefully made her way to the main door. Feeling better orientated she slowly made her way to the left to Mme. Giry's room. She had been there once, but had not had the time to go there again. It didn't matter; she knew what she was searching for. Opening the door, she took one last moment to make sure that there was nobody around.
Satisfied, she slipped in and closed the door behind her.
The sound was terrible.
He couldn't bear to listen, yet somehow he couldn't make himself leave.
Listening from behind the wall he seemed almost pained as the sounds from the room floated around him.
"Don't play it as you hear it." He whispered. "It's a Chorus not..."
The sounds stopped. There was a cough, a curse and then a frustrated sound of someone hitting the piano keys.
"Think Ann!" The hoarse voice muttered. "What did M. Reyer say?"
She couldn't possibly learn the Chorus sections by replaying the piano pieces to herself.
And she played it wrong!
Ann played the parts and notes she used whilst singing, not those on paper. What could she possibly hope to achieve by this? Could she even play properly?
He started pacing as the notes started up again. It went a little better this time as she hummed softly along with it.
Every mistake still cut through his soul.
He stopped at some point and looked at the wall.
He could go and help her, he realized. Faust was a master piece, one of the few he had bothered to learn by heart. He could...
The Music of the Night is no more.
He will not go down that path again with one doomed to fail.
For, he knew that she would. It was only a matter of time.
And he planned to bear witness to it when she did...
Gloire/ immortelle, /
De nos aÃ¯eux,
Sois/ - nous fidÃ¨le /
/Mourons/ comme eux!
Ann tried very hard to keep her breathing steady as she stood next to Mme du'Fleur. The mixed choir's voices rose up around her.
Et sous ton aile,
Soldats/ vainqueurs, /
Dirige/ nos pas, enflame nos coeurs! /
She couldn't sing yet, but had convinced both Mme Giry and M. Reyer that she was feeling well enough to stand in the choir again. Even if she hadn't become sick it was the only thing she could do for the time being. She didn't know all the parts yet...
Vers/ nos foyers hÃ¢tons le pas! /
On nous attend; la paix est faite!
Plus de soupirs! Ne tardons pas!
Notre pays nous tend les bras!
She turned her attention from the song for a moment and shuddered.
Somebody was watching her.
She shifted uncomfortably and rubbed the angel on her cane. She didn't know exactly how she knew but she felt that it wasn't someone from the choir. This gaze was to calculating, too critical. She bit her lip and closed her eyes. The gaze was all that yet, there was something else too. She felt as if this person was watching over her... The emotions inside her felt like a two edged knife.
Watcher or Wraith...
L'amour/ nous rit! L'amour nous fÃªte! /
Et/ plus d'un coeur frÃ©mit tot bas/
Au souvenir de nos combats//!