***Part Three***

Christine stood in her dressing room waiting. The silence was overwhelming and so she set about arranging some of the roses she'd received for that night's performance yet again. She had left explicit instructions with the Opera staff that she was not to be disturbed this evening after the performance for any reason.

She had not spoken with her Angel in five days, since the night before she'd met Comte Lecter. No matter what he said she still thought of him as Comte in her mind. He was a nobleman and deserved the respect that went with that.

She pushed thoughts of le Comte from her mind, but found that by doing so made her grow impatient for her Angel's arrival. But her Angel had an uncanny way of knowing what she was thinking and she knew that if He thought she was thinking of something other than her singing He would grow upset. She had returned to the stage after her three days off and brought the audience to their feet on more than one occasion during the performance. Surely He wasn't disappointed in her.

Her mind wandered to the performance that evening and the nagging feeling as she performed that she was being watched. And also the overwhelming feeling to look in the direction of Box 5, the Ghost's box. A feeling that she successfully fought though had she not been performing she wasn't so sure she would have been able to prevent herself from giving into the compulsion. And that was exactly what it was, a compulsion. She didn't believe in ghosts or the Opera Ghost, but she couldn't help but wonder just where that feeling had come from. Had someone been in there, was that who she had felt watching her. All she knew was that she couldn't shake the feeling that whoever was watching her was not pleased.

She did notice Comte Lecter was in the audience that evening, which was the reason she left strict instructions not to be bothered after the performance. She didn't want to forego her Master's critique once again. As nice as Comte had been providing a nurse for her, her priority was her lessons and her music. And le Comte wasn't going to be able to help her with her lessons. Only her Angel could do that.

Tears welled in her eyes when more than an hour had passed and still there was no word from her Angel. Had He left her? The tears cascaded down her cheeks as she took a single rose from the vase and moved to the mirror that she always associated with her Angel. Kneeling before the mirror she finally sat, bending her knees and bringing her feet beside her unable to stop the tears from falling now. He was gone it seemed. She had failed Him and her Papa somehow and He had been taken from her. She placed her hands against the mirror, touching it as if she might be able to push through it and reach Him.

"Angel," she said softly.

Erik stood watching her. He had been watching since she entered the dressing room after the performance. He did avert his gaze as she changed from her costume, but otherwise his attention remained focused on her. She didn't seem to remember anything from that night. Of course with the drugs and sleeping aid he had given her he was anticipating that would be the case. He didn't want her to. Not until he knew that she remembered her choice, and that she was certain of that choice.

At the sight of her tears and the sound of her voice calling for him he realized he had punished her enough. "I am here, my child," he said finally.

"It's you," Christine said surprised, thinking for a brief moment she might be dreaming. He had come back.

"Did I not please you tonight, Angel?"

"Your performance tonight was amazing, my child. Do you doubt your own ability to assess your performance?"

"No, Angel, but I like knowing I please You and Papa."

"Of course he's pleased, my child. He's as proud of you as he can be."

"He told you that," she looked hopeful, the tears now having dried up leaving her eyes to glimmer softly in the candlelight.

"He doesn't have to. I'm proud of you, and I believe I am stricter than he is. So of course he's pleased." He glanced around her dressing room at all of the flowers she had surrounding her. Carlotta would be envious and furious. She had never received more than two bouquets of flowers on any given night. Here in Christine's dressing room there were five dozen roses. How could she think she'd not done well?

"I've left you a gift, my child, in the drawer of your vanity. Take it with you and open it when you get home. A reward for your performance this evening."

"But how did You know," she asked then quickly bit off the words. Of course He would know how well she would do, He was an Angel was he not. "Thank you," she said softly not sure if she should be accepting gifts from angels.

"You did well, my child. We'll start working on the next part, Aida I believe it is, the day after tomorrow. Cleopatra was only the beginning, Christine, but you must not grow content. I've worked hard to get you here, to get Carlotta off the stage. I must have your complete dedication to the music."

She bowed her head, the single rose still within her grasp. "Of course, Master. I need nothing but our music. I wish you were a man," she said softly not realizing that she had said the words until they had been said.

Erik was taken aback. Perhaps she did remember the other night but attributed it to a dream. "Why, my child?"

"So we could sing together," she said as if He should have known the answer to that without her having to speak it aloud.

"You want me to sing with you?"

Why did He sound surprised by such a revelation. When they sang together she actually felt like she was in heaven, that He had taken her into His arms and by the power of their voices mixing together and blending to become one they had been lifted into heaven.

"I'm afraid that may not be possible, my child, not on stage for the public to hear. People come to hear you sing," and once you saw the man I am you would regret having made such a wish he couldn't help but think to himself. "You must go home now, my child and get your rest."

He was upset with her and now He was sending her away. She had questioned their relationship, this Angel who graced she an opera singer with his presence. She knew not to say such a thing aloud. She knew not to question their arrangement. "I'm sorry," she said finally.

He wasn't quite sure what she was sorry for, he was the one who was sorry that he could not give into her wishes. The fact that his wish, too, was to sing on stage with her knowing that together an audience wouldn't have the opportunity to breathe their performances would be so awe inspiring. Together he knew that they could do this. And so he said nothing in response to her apology, it was better not to say anything when he wasn't sure what she was speaking of. He stepped back from the mirror his signal to himself that he was done talking to her for the evening and waited for her to leave.

Her time with Him was too short tonight. She would have liked it to last longer. She needed it to last longer. She needed to know that He truly was pleased with her. Had she upset Him by mentioning wanting Him to be a man as if she wasn't satisfied with Him as He was. Of course she wasn't truthfully. With the voice her Angel had she imagined Him to be incredibly handsome, even putting Comte Lecter to shame. With that she smiled, though something tugged at her mind that that wouldn't be true. That he wouldn't look like that at all, though she had no idea where the thought came from.

She left her dressing room, one final moment's hesitation to make sure that He wouldn't bid her not to leave to stay with Him here at the Opera but there was no such statement and so she left.

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