Soft footsteps padded against stone steps, the sound being met with the distant chatter from the opera house above, cheers and shouts of tonight’s performance. The small chapel was lit with a multitude of candles, showing the detailed painting of the angel in a beautiful light.
“Mistro? My mistro?” A voice whispered into the small area, the man walking over to the painting of the angel and kneeling before it, staring up the chipped paint and waiting for the reply.
“My angel…” A deep voice said, the man before the painting smiling ear to ear at the sound. “Are you nervous for your first opera?” The voice asked softly, almost in a monotone manner.
“Of course I am...It’s the first time I’ll be singing as a lead, my mistro.” The man spoke, his head falling to stare at the cracked stone floor. “Will you be there to watch me my mistro?” He asked hopefully, clutching at the edges of the lace gloves he wore.
“I will, my angel. You’ll do wonderfully.” Echoed throughout the small chapel. The man looked up the painting of the angel at those words, smiling softly to himself before opening his mouth to speak before a distant yell cut him off.
“Jay! Jay we go on in five minutes!” A thick accent shouted down the stairs to the chapel, Jay quickly standing up once he heard the announcement.
He looked up towards the painting, curtseying towards it and grinning. “Go on my angel...I’ll be there to watch you, I assure you.” Jay nodded, quickly running up the stairs and almost tripping in the process.
~ ~ ~
Jay entered the small dressing room, the distant sound of clapping still following him. He couldn’t wipe the smile off his face, every fiber of his soul was bursting with joy and excitement.
The small table in the room was covered in a multitude of bouquets, ranging from the palest of lillies to the darkest of tulips. Though one flower stood out to Jay, a single red rose sitting on top of a black lace pillow in front of the body length mirror. As he walked closer he noticed it was wrapped in a white ribbon, sitting on top of a piece of folded parchment.
Lifting the rose off the letter and he picked it up, slowly unfolding it and reading the cursive that painted the parchment. Your voice is beautiful my angel, I shall come see you soon to give you my congrats on your first show. -Your Mistro.
He reread the words over and over again, a smile slowly creeping itself across his face. Jay would get to see his mistro, the person who had sworn when they met that he could never be seen.
“My angel...you’re still in costume?” The mistro asked, his voice almost booming throughout the room. Jay jumped at the voice, looking around the room to find where the other was. “I...I haven’t had time to change into other clothing, mistro.”
There was silence for a moment, and Jay almost wondered if he imagined the voice but the thought was cut short by a deep chuckle. “It’s alright my angel, I think that blue dress looks beautiful on you.”
Jay continued to glance around the room, determined to find where his mistro was hiding. Apparently the mistro noticed his frantic searching and spoke, “The black skull in the mirror, press on it.”
Glancing towards the mirror, Jay walked over to it, finding the black skull hanging at the edge of the mirror on the right side. Pressing it softly he found that it pressed into the mirror, clicking softly. The mirror opening inwards slowly like a door.
A blow of cool air seemed to fill the room, a stone wall hallway hidden behind the mirror that seemed to be rotting away. Dim candles line the wall every few meters, leaving dark spots between them for small moments of time.
A man stood halfway down the hallway, wearing a black silk cape over what appeared to be a pure black suit. A crusader helmet resting atop his head to hide his face, the bottom of the helmet rusting away to a darker colour then the cool silver. He stood with a calmness around him, seeming to be staring at Jay with an outstretched hand.
Jay stared down the hallway, walking past the frame of the mirror and into the hallway and closing the mirror behind him. He slowly made his way towards the man, the distant sound of water dripping joining the small clicks of his heels against the stone.
“Mistro?” Jay asked softly as he stopped in front of the man. His response was met with his hand being slowly and softly grabbed from his side. Even through his gloves, Jay could feel the rough palms of the man.
“You look beautiful, my angel.”
~ ~ ~
It continued to happen after every show that Jay would perform in. He would follow his mistro, Eric as he learned, through the mirror and through the catacombs of the opera house. There they would sing together by candlelight to the notes of Eric’s organ, and Eric would end every song with soft touches to Jay’s cheeks or hips, and compliments of how beautiful he looks in his show outfits.
Sometimes Eric would let Jay sleep on a soft bed in the catacombs if he was too tired, and Jay would wake up in his dressing room’s bed that morning like nothing happened.
But sometimes there is always a bump in the road, and sometimes the bump has a name. This bump’s name was Viscount Matthew du Vin, he was a frequent watcher of the shows for years, and anyone who worked in the opera house knew who he was. Jay had never met the man himself. However he always received a letter after every show from the man, telling him how beautiful his voice is, like that of an angel.
Jay quickly retreated to his dressing room as soon as the final curtain fell, finding the usual bouquets and letters sitting in their usual places on his desk and dresser. Expect there was a man in his room, sitting at the edge of his bed with a bouquet of yellow lilies in his hands. Jay stopped in place by the desk, the man noticing him standing still and smiled. Quickly standing up he walked over to Jay, “Hello.”
“...Hello.” Jay mumbled, the man handed him the bouquet which he took, smelling the lillies and smiling slightly at the sweet smell. “Who are you?” He asked bluntly, the man letting out an airy chuckle at the question.
“Viscount Matthew du Vin, heir to the Belle Wine fortune and company. But you can call me Matt.” He spoke, delicately grabbing Jay’s left hand and kissing his knuckles. “I’ve never been able to catch you after your shows, so I decided to wait for you here.”
Jay just nodded slowly, glancing towards the mirror for a split second before Matt spoke up again. “I’ve been a fan since your first show, so I’m glad I was able to catch you tonight. Your voice is...it’s so beautiful. Have you had proper lessons to achieve that? Or is it natural talent?” He spoke smoothly, ounces of admiration sparking in every word.
Silence filled the room for a moment before Jay found the courage to reply. “I-I get lessons…” He muttered, feeling his face heat up slightly as Matt grinned ear to ear.
“Well, give your teacher my thanks, for without them I wouldn’t have been able to hear an angel.” Jay grinned, setting the lilies down on his desk with the other bouquets.
They stood in a comfortable silence after that, Jay grabbing Matt’s hands in his own and grinning, “Would you like a private song?”
~ ~ ~
Matt came to visit him more as time went on, they would always talk for only a few minutes as he would eventually have to go to run his company. But Jay always loved their little visits, where Matt would look at him like he hung the moon.
But Jay also noticed that Eric always...acted distant after Matt would visit. He wouldn’t join in as Jay sung to him, instead seeming to focus on slamming down the keys of the organ. Only speaking to him to ask him to sing, or if he knew the song.
It always felt so cold, as though Eric had completely disconnected from reality. Jay was scared to ask why, but he had his suspicions.
~ ~ ~
“Last Rose of Summer.” Eric spoke flatly, his fingers beginning to dance around the keys as Jay breathed in slowly.
The intro to the song slowly played out, Jay opening his mouth to begin singing but shutting it quickly. Slowly moving his hand to rest on top of Eric’s right hand, making him stop playing.
“...What are you doing, angel?” Eric asked lowly, turning to look over at Jay slowly.
“Why have you been upset lately Eric?” Jay asked quickly, squeezing the other’s hand as he spoke as to provide some type of comfort.
No words were spoken between them for a few moments, as though Eric was thinking of just the right words to say. Instead he stood up from his bench, guiding Jay towards an old oak dresser that stood next to the velvet bed Jay had grown accustomed to.
They stood in front of the dresser, Jay not knowing what to do except count the multitude of scratches that covered it. Apparently he was supposed to open it, as Eric seemed to grow tired of waiting and moved to open the dresser. Inside was a large white dress, covered in ruffles and intricate designs of flowers fitted to a model. A veil cascaded over the dress, and that was the last thing Jay noticed before he fell to the ground, unconscious.
~ ~ ~
Slow organ music echoed through the air, Jay slowly opening his eyes to find himself still in Eric’s velvet bed. He froze in place at the realisation. How long had he been out? Did anyone in the opera house notice that he was gone?
Sitting up he also noticed that he was wearing the wedding dress, his previous tuxedo from before nowhere to be seen as it was too dark.
A line of candles lead from the bed, Jay quickly getting off the bed and standing up. Slowly he began to follow the dim candles, lifting the dress up so that it wouldn’t get caught on fire. They lead to the organ, Eric sitting in front of it surrounded by candles that would usually fill Jay with comfort but instead unsettled him in that moment.
“Eric?” He muttered, the music stopping as the other slowly turned around. They stood in silence, staring at one another until Eric muttered, “You look beautiful.”
Jay shook his head, slowly walking towards the other while trying hard to stare at his eyes through the old helmet. “Eric...what is going on?” He asked softly, grabbing onto the sides of the helmet and shivering at the cold touch of metal.
He didn’t speak, just stared at him with almost soulless eyes.
Slowly Jay lifted the helmet off of him with shaking hands, eyes widening as he finally saw the face of the other in full detail. Eric looked fairly average, but there was a large jagged scar running down his left eyebrow and over his eye, all the way down to his jaw. A few smaller scars lined his neck and lips.
“I’m sorry,” Eric mumbled, eyes darting to the ground to avoid Jay’s gaze. “I’m sorry I just...I wanted…” His quiet explanation was cut off by Jay kissing him softly, dropping the helmet to the ground and ignoring the loud clang that followed after.
It was a few days before Jay returned to the upper levels of the opera house. He refused to say where he had been in those few days, since he didn’t want others to know of Eric. But once he had been back for a decent amount of time, the panic of his disappearance died down.
But then Matt showed up one evening.
~ ~ ~
The door to his dressing room opened, loud footsteps entering the room before the door clicked shut again.
“Where were you?” Matt asked softly, walking to where Jay sat on a cushion in front of a mirror, mindlessly counting the scratches in the glass. There was silence between the two where there should have been an answer.
A pair of hands grabbed Jay’s, shocking him a bit and forcing him to look up to a face with dried tear tracks and bloodshot eyes. The air around him seemed to freeze solid.
“Jay I’ve been...I haven’t been able to sleep knowing that you were missing...I was so terrified that...that…” Matt cut himself off with a sharp intake of breath, squeezing Jay’s hands and looking towards the floor.
Silence filled the room once again, a coldness filling the air between them.
“I’m so sorry Matt…” Jay muttered, glancing down towards where his hands were hand and noticing how they seemed to tense up a little. “I just...I didn’t think anyone would notice if I was gone...I didn’t think anyone would care-”
The grip on Jay’s hands became unbearingly tight, Matt’s own seeming to shake around his. “I cared…” He mumbled, refusing to meet Jay’s gaze now.
Jay shook his head, tears starting to fall down his face as the words seemed to hit him with something he didn’t expect. Letting out a choked sob he leaned forward and rested his forehead on Matt’s shoulder, crying into the expensive fabric and feeling Matt’s shoulder relax underneath his head.
They sat there in silence until Jay had finished crying, little sniffles leaving him as he lifted up his head again to meet Matt’s soft gaze. “I’m sorry...That probably cost a fortune, and I just got my snot all over it.” He chuckled, but it was dry and felt a little forced to hear.
Matt laughed in return, running his hand through Jay’s hair to move it from his face. “It’s alright, I can always buy another one.” He replied softly, kissing Jay’s cheek softly.
~ ~ ~
Matt spent every morning with Jay from that moment forward. The new opera season wouldn’t hit the Paris Opera House until the spring, so Jay happily spent as much of his free time as he could with the man. Reveling in the sweet comments, and horrible jokes that Matt purposely told just to hear Jay’s laughter.
Then Matt would leave in the afternoon, always leaving soft kisses along Jay’s cheek and promising that he’d be back in the morning as soon as he could. And Jay would happily smile as he watched Matt leave the opera house for another day.
In the evening, Jay would refuse dinner from the stage manager, telling Monsieur Ryan that he simply wasn’t hungry after going out with Matt. To which he would then sneak through the mirror to see Eric for the night. Singing for him until the early hours of the morning, and until he felt like he was about to pass out.
It felt stale after a while. Jay wanted nothing more than for something to happen.
~ ~ ~
“What is your relationship with the Viscount?” Eric asked abruptly one night, stopping his hands from playing the notes of the organ.
Jay didn’t know how to reply to the question, thinking about it for a moment before shrugging. “I’m not sure, he hasn’t mentioned any sort of romantic intent to our relationship.” He stated calmly, almost in a cold manner.
Eric nodded slowly, beginning to slowly play another song. “Do you wish to have a romantic relationship with the Viscount?” He muttered, Jay almost not hearing the question that was asked.
There was no response to the question, Jay looked down towards the organ keys and running his hands softly against the ivory keys but not pressing them down hard enough to play.
“Do you wish to have a romantic relationship with the Viscount?” He stated flatly, grabbing Jay’s wrist tightly with hand and making him flinch at the grip.
Jay shook his head, tearing stinging the edges of his eyes as he felt nails dig into his skin. “I don’t…I-” The grip on his wrist loosened, Eric’s face dropping to one of horror and regret. He glanced back down to the piano and started playing a small tune slowly, refusing to look back up as he heard the distant footsteps.
~ ~ ~
They hadn’t seen each other for a month.
Eric hadn’t come up to see him anymore, but in the late of night Jay swore he could still hear the distant sounds of the organ, haunting him like a phantom.
Luckily Jay had been able to distract himself with opera rehearsals and the visits from Matt in the morning for breakfast.
It felt normal, and while he still felt a bit empty knowing that Eric wasn’t there, Matt seemed to fill it every time he smiled at Jay. And Matt would always tell Jay that once his contract was done with the opera house that season, that he would buy a chateau in the countryside for them where they would be free from the gossip of judgement of others. Jay couldn’t wait for it to be true...for him to have happiness.
But then it went away in just a day.
A stage hand had been found dead on the light rack, electrocuted to death. With a red rose on his chest, and a letter in his hand from the Phantom.
~ ~ ~
“Dear Residents and Workers of the Paris Opera House,
Congrats on the opening of your opera season, you have made quite the beautiful selection of music, perfect for your leading actors.
After your last performance of Tristan und Isolde on the thirtieth of December, I wish to throw a party the next day on the thirty-first of December to say goodbye to your most beloved actor Jay MacCeany since his contract will be up.
I expect it to be a masquerade, and for you to invite every well known noble in Paris that frequents the opera house. The party will start at exactly 8 in the evening, and I will arrive at 10 on the dot. Everyone will be required to wear a mask, and I will be wearing one myself.
You will leave letters about the plan of the party on the chair in the third box where I usually sit. I will then approve or disapprove of your planning choices until it is perfect. For every letter you do not leave in my box, more people in the opera house will end up dead. And who knows how many deaths that could be?
If you do not plan the party altogether, this opera house will not live to see another show ever again.
Signed, The Phantom of the Opera