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Name: Alice | Gender: Female | Posts: 7 | Roses: 10
Old 09-23-2010 at 11:36 PM
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Brava, Brava, Bravisimo!  Post [21]


Very talented! I love it! Keep going strong!
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Old 11-12-2010 at 04:16 AM
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(Thank you for the reviews. The next chapter after this one will be up very soon.)

Giovani's funeral was terrible for Erik. He could never have begun to say what the elderly mason's kindness had meant to him. He silently fingered the silver compass Giovani had given him as everybody began leaving the gravesite, and looked at the stone. It was made of the same crude, pock marked stone that Erik had first worked with as a mason. A smile came to his face as he remembered how he had commented on the ugliness of the stone, and Giovani had told him the stone had been good enough to be used by Ceaser, and had better be good enough for him.
It had become Erik's favorite stone to work with, and over the years he'd seen it cut, carved, and polished to make many beautiful buildings. Sometimes even the ugliest things had beauty underneath if they were polished right. Giovani had seen that about him, Erik thought sadly, and had in a way polished him. Like Marie, Giovani had helped Erik to deal with the darkness inside him. Erik felt he owed those two people more than he could ever pay back, and the only things Erik could do for Giovani now were to run his buisness well and take care of Lucianna.
As Erik left the graveyard, Erik noticed many of the men who had stayed behind staring at him. No doubt they all wondered what would become of them now that Erik was the legal owner of the buisness and resenting the fact that they now worked for him.Well, Erik intended to treat them fairly as long as they worked honestly. For the next few weeks though, Erik would leave the yard in the hands of the foreman, taking time to take his family back to France. He planned to spend the slow part of the year in France with them, and Lucianna would stay with him.
The men who now worked for erik nearly rebelled when he returned. He was strict and a perfectionist, and would refuse a commission rather than build something ugly or not meant to last. They were afraid the buisness would fail if Erik continued on that way, especially since many clients were intimidated simply by Erik's mask. Giovani had had similar views of beauty to Erik's, but would build to the client's specifications if necessary. Erik however, did not just want to appease wealthy, lazy buisnessmen who had no appreciation for beauty. He wanted to builld beautiful buildings that would still be seen as works of art perhaps centuries later.
To keep the men from commiting mutiny, Erik told each of them that if the buisness did not take in enough to pay them all as well as always, he would make up the difference out of what his compositions and architectual designs brought. They hadn't made him extremely wealthy, but they earned him more than enough to keep himself and Lucianna living comfortably with plenty to spare. Gianciotto was now being performed in opera houses in France and England as well as Italy, his symphonies and concertoes were well recieved, and he was currently working on an opera based on the Greek myth of Hades and Persephone. The Vatican had heard of Erik's talent as a composer, and had paid him for a requium mass he had written. One of his concertoes, the one composed to the rhythm of the mason's yard, he had dedicated to giovani.
Even with Erik's promise, close to a third of the men left within the first month. Some of them didn't believe Erik would make good on his promise, and others simply didn't want to work for him. Fortunately, those who were left were most of the hardest workers, and Erik hired on several new men to take their place. Many of the newcommers were struggling to support their families and didn't care who they worked for as long as they were paid.
That first year, the buisness made a smaller profit than it used to, but it was enough to pay the men as Erik had promised, and even give them a bonus. The men began to speak of his generosity, especially to those with children. When he left for France in late autumn, he made sure there was some toy or trinket for each man's children to be given at Christmas. After that there were fewer murmers and complaints about him.
Lucianna turned out to be even more of a headache than Erik had expected in the beginning. She would complain and argue about everything, pouting and throwing temper tantrums whenever she didn't get her way. Her crying and screaming made life miserable for Erik, but gradually she began to see that Erik was not going to give in to her, and started acting, in Erik's opinion, more adult. There was no point in being a brat if it got no result.
Over the fall and winter, Lucianna's temperment continued to mellow a little. She'd actually formed something close to a friendship with Madeleine, much to everyone's surprise. But then Madeleine had always loved being the center of attention, and so enjoyed having someone else around. Although Marie had remained a faithful friend to her, she'd still been lonely. And she could sympathise with Lucianna. Madeleine had becom less spoiled now, and had gradually come to realize she loved her son more than herself. Lucianna had yet to put what others wanted before her own wishes, and Madeleine could see her former self in the spoiled Italian girl.
When spring was drawing near again, Lucianna told Erik that she would like to stay behind in Boscherville. At first Erik thought that she likely didn't care for his company and would rather stay with Madeleine and Marie. But the next Sunday after Mass Erik saw Lucianna batting her eyelashes at a man who looked to be her age, and saw him smile and nod in her direction in return. Something about him looked familiar to Erik. Of course Erik knew most people in Boscherville by site from going to Mass, but he knew although this man looked familiar he was not someone he'd seen before. Then Erik remembered one of the masons he'd worked with in the yard in Rauen. This wasn't the same person, but perhaps it was some relative. He hoped not. That man had always been rude to him.
Erik had lost any romantic interest in Lucianna long before she'd unmasked him. It was not jealousy now that made him make sure whenever the young man, Blachevelle, came to see Lucianna that they were always chaperoned and Blachevelle always left early in the evening. Erik had always had an incredibly strong instinct to shelter and protect, an instinct that along with Marie's influence had saved Lucianna from his temper more than once. No animal or child had even gone hungry or without help if he knew about it and could do something, and now it was Giovani's daughter who needed his supervision and guidence.
The two young lovers were never given a chance to so much as kiss without someone watching, but even for Erik watching them constantly would be impossible, and marie and Madeleine had to sleep sometime too. One night, Lucianna saw that Erik had fallen asleep at the piano as he often did. That night she was feeling bolder than usual, and hurried to her room to put on her least modest dress before sneaking away. Just before morning Erik was awoken by lucianna comming in crying.
"Lucianna? What are you doing comming in at this time in the morning? Where were you?" His tone was fearsome, but he softened seeing her tears.
'What happened?" he asked, more gently this time.
"He- he wa wanted to-to-."
Erik could guess the rest. His eyes narrowed and his hands clenched.
"I didn't let him," she added hurridly."But he said if I loved him I would. But I do love him. It just- it wouldn't have been-"She choked slightly, not sure why she was telling Erik this. It just needed to be said to someone.
"It's all right," Erik said, trying to control his temper and be soothing, with moderate success. "Here, let's get you to bed. You've been out all night and you're upset. You'll feel better after some sleep."
Despite his soothing tone, Erik's blood was boiling. That piece of scum would be lucky to escape needing a doctor by the time Erik was through with him. He'd always thought that any man lucky enough to have a woman should treasure her, not view her as an object to be used. And no one would treat Lucianna that way.
He carried her to bed the way he had once seen Giovani carry her He pulled a blanket over her and went to get her a cup of tea. She was asleep by the time he brought it to her.
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Blachevelleended up with a broken jaw and Erik ended up with a fine, but it was worth it to him. He'd let Blachevelleknow that if he ever so much as blinked in Lucianna's direction again, he would be in a world of pain. Most residents of Boscherville were already sufficiently afraid of Erik not to try anything like what Blachevelle had.
Of course Lucianna went back to Rome with Erik when he left in the spring. She felt ashamed about what had nearly happened and wanted to get as far away from Boscherville as possible. She was being hard enough on herself that Erik gave her a much milder scolding than he'd origionally planned.
Over the next year, Giovani's buisness (Erik still thought of it as Giovani's) began to thrive. It had become a novelty among the wealthy of Rome to have a home built by the man in the mask. Erik hated being the newest fad, with people wanting his work just because it was his rather than for the beauty in it. He hoped someday that could change. How he ached to design something truly beautiful for someone who appreciated it. He hoped if his work became truly respected for it's own merit, someday he'd have the chance to design and build a palace or cathedral, or perhaps an opera house or concert hall, a perfect way to combine his love for music and architecture. But until that chance came, the buisness kept himself and Lucianna living in comfort, provided for the children of those who worked for him, and allowed him to buy things for those he cared about. when in Rome he often sent gifts home to his family.
Erik didn't have time to work with the actual stone as much as he'd have liked, between meeting with other architects, contractors, and clients, and working on his compositions. However, he did work with a chizel every chance he could get, lovingly caressing the stone and seemingly willing it to take the form he wanted. Nearly always he was the one to give everything the final perfecting touches before clients began using his buildings. On those days when he was out in the yard, Lucianna would bring him something to eat, although he still rarely ate and her cooking left much to be desired in the beginning. Then one day, much to Erik's surprise, she showed up with an extra lunch, offering it to one of the young men Erik had hired on for the busy season.
Lorenzo Cavaleri was had always seemed to Erik to be an honest, hard worker. He'd struggled in the beginning to master certain skills, but he never failed to try his best. He also seemed to have a true appreciation for beauty which Erik admired. So a young woman as beautiful as Lucianna couldn't help but catch his eye. The respectful, responsible young man was one of the few Erik would be willing to approve of as a suitor for her.
That isn't to say that he didn't still keep a careful eye on them. Poor Lorenzo looked as if he'd like to shrink into the sofa from the way erik would glare at him, and always kept a few feet away from Lucianna. The fact that he worked for Erik was also intimidating. That issue was brought up one day when Lorenzo politely asked Erik to tell Lucianna he wouldn't be comming for dinner that night.
"Why not?" Erik asked curiously.
Sighing, Lorenzo answered "I can't continue seeing her. She's so beautiful and I know I'm starting to fall in lo-" He stopped. "But I can't court someone who's practically a member of my employer's family."
erik glared. "Now that's ridiculus. Everyone works for someone. As long as you're good to her and provide for her, that's what's important."
Lorenzo gradually came to be more relaxed abound both Lucianna and erik after that, though he was still always careful to treat her respectfully. As the two young lovers grew closer and Erik became more certain that they would ask his permission to marry soon (and his permission would be asked) he began to think about his feelings when he'd first met Lucianna. He was surprised to realize he wasn't the least bit jealouse. Well, not over the fact that Lucianna and Lorenzo were falling in love, anyway.
No, he knew that he did not love Lucianna in that way. He would always protect her and make sure she was cared for, but he knew they'd never have been happy together and did not wish they could be. Still, when Lorenzo came at the end of the year and asked his permission to marry Lucianna, Erik felt a pian in his chest at the thought that he would never have a wife, someone to wake up to in the mornings, take out on Sundays, to tell that he loved, or to recieve a kiss from. He hoped those with normal faces knew how lucky they were.
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Old 11-12-2010 at 09:02 PM
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 Post [23]


Marvolous as always. I love the way you made sure that Erik's love for beauty wasn't lost when he owned Giovanni's company. Oh but that last bit about him never having a wife, well the Mag part of me was aching as much as the rest of me. Keep it up love :)


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Old 11-20-2010 at 07:46 AM
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(Thanks :) Yeah, Erik will always love beauty. I know, I felt that was the way he would think about having a wife.)

Erik had promised that Lucianna would have a real Parisian wedding gown that she'd mentioned wanting badly for her special day. So, after they took a hotel in Paris for a stop on their way back to Boscherville, he took her to look at various dress shops. Lucianna simply had to see them all, and each one had lovelier gowns than the last.
It had been difficult finding a hotel when they arrived in Paris. The more polite innkeepers would simply say there was no available room. Others would say "Please understand, monseur. The other guests would be terrified." The less polite ones simply slammed the door in Erik's masked face. Erik had grown used to this rutine during his travels back and forth from Rome. Usually he would find a place where the inkeeper was poor and willing to take money from anyone, but if that inkeeper was doing better or had gone out of buisness by the next time they passed through they'd have to find a different hotel. A similar reaction was met at the dress shops. A masked stranger was simply not welcome. So Erik waited outside while Lucianna looked. It turned out to be a lucky thing he did.
The streets weren't very busy that day, so the Middle Eastern man pushing a young boy in a wheelchair would have been almost impossible not to notice. Erik couldn't help feeling sorry for the child, and watched as they crossed the road together. The man, apparently the child's father, seemed lost. He'd look at passers by and open his mouth as if to speak, but then sigh and shake his head. Apparently he didn't speak French. To add to their bad luck, as they rolled over a rut in the road one of the wheels broke.
Erik was walking over to help when a hat blowing in the wind spooked a passing carraige horse. The horse bolted towards them and there would have been no chance for the man to get the child out of the way in time, but Erik helped him lift the chair and they got to the side of the road together .The Middle Eastern man turned to thank him, but saw he was looking for something, his face turned away.
"Monseur," the man paused to think of how to say what he wanted in French. 'Merci-" He gasped and put a hand over his mouth, grabbing the charms around his neck when Erik turned to face him, and took a step back. Erik looked at him with incredible sorrow, then looked down and saw the mask, replacing it quickly. When he turned back, he saw the other man holding out a hand
"Sir, I know you don't understand," he said in his native Persian. "But thank you for helping me save my son."
The mask hid the smile on Erik's mouth, but his eyes showed his smile, nonetheless.
"I do understand, and you're welcome."
The other man was clearly surprised.
"You speak Persian?"
"Languages have always come easily to me," Erik said casually. "When I was a student in Rome I found various books on languages there. I've had to learn to speak Italian, but I enjoyed learning other languages as well."
The other man nodded, looking relieved. He seemed to know a few words of French, but hadn't had a chance to become fluent in it yet.
"I'm Nadir khan, and this is my son. Reza."
Erik looked at the child, surprised that he wasn't afraid after seeing him unmasked. Then he saw how his eyes didn't focus. The poor child was blind.
"May your heart never grow narrow, sir," Reza said in a traditional Persian greeting. It was meant to be formal, but when Reza said it there was genuine happiness at meeting someone new in his voice. Erik could tell already that although Reza was clearly frail, he had an enthusiasm for life and a cheerful heart.
It turned out that Reza was the reason they were in Paris. When Erik asked him about it, Nadir looked down sadly.
"Persia is not known for it's doctors," he explained. "Even the shah in shah relies on a French doctor. But there was nothing that doctor could do for Reza. He thought perhaps in Paris we could find a specialist who could help. At first I was told it was just a childish malady he'd grow out of, but-"
'I'll be all right, father," Reza assured him. "I'm stronger than I look."
"I'm sure you are, Reza," Erik said gently. Nadir had to look away. He'd had the feeling for some time now that Reza's illness was much worse than blindness and loss of muscle control.
"Do you know of any place to stay?" Nadir finally asked. "My servent Darius and I were looking. We split up and were suposed to meet back at the train station and collect our luggage and go to the inn from there if either of us found one. But so far I've found nothing and I doubt Darius has either. There doesn't seem to be anywhere."
Erik sighed, looking at him sadly. The places that would turn away a masked man would be unlikely to welcome a foreigner.
"I believe the hotel my- sister- and I are staying at would do well for you."
So after meeting up with Darius the group made their way to the hotel. Lucianna was a bit afraid of the newcommers at first, so she claimed she was very tired from their journey and would like to go strait to bed after hanging up her new dress. She went to her room leaving Erik to visit with the others.
There was the usual getting to know each other talk, with Nadir telling Erik he was the daroga, chief of police, in Mazanderan, and Erik telling Nadir he was a mason, composer, architect, and musician, besides being a magician as a hobby. Somehow Nadir knew he wasn't bragging or exagerating.
"Magician!" That had gotten Reza excited. "Can you really do magic?"
"Yes."
"Can you show me?"
"Reza, it's getting late," Nadir gently scolded. "I'm sure Erik will be getting tired, and you need your sleep as well.'
"It's all right," Erik assured him. There were times when Erik was very much a child at heart and with his love of children he naturally enjoyed the idea of performing for the sickly child. "Tell me what you'd like to see, Reza. I can grant any wish."
So Erik spent the next few hours showing Reza one wonder after another, adapting his tricks so the blind child could enjoy them as much as any seeing child. Nadir watched in amazment, convinced for a moment that Erik must be some sort of genie. It was almost frightening what he could do. Reza was far from frightened though, and loved every moment of it. Somehow it never seemed sad when Erik asked Reza what he wanted to "see," and the two of them would no doubt have been up all night enjoying the show Erik put on, but finally Erik agreed Reza needed his sleep.
'Will you show me more magic tommorow?'
"There will be a special surprise for you tommorow Reza, I promise."
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Since Nadir spoke little French Erik offered to go with him as a translator when he took Reza to the doctor the next day. Nadir was very grateful since he didn't know anyone in France, much less someone who spoke his language. He was still a little frustrated with Erik over the toy he'd made Reza though. Nadir was still frustrated with him though. His surprise for Reza had been an extremely intricate music box with a fiddler who played, apparently activated by clapping. Erik mischieviously refused to give away the secret of how it worked.
There was no joking or mischief at the hospital though. Erik had a feeling from the way Nadir discribed the progression of Reza's illness that it was not something even the best of doctors could help. The doctor had asked if Reza could be taken from the room, and Erik sadly translated what he said next to Nadir. The disease was called Tay Sachs Syndrome, he said, and Erik hesitated before translating that it was always fatal, and Reza probably had only a little over a year left. The child would continue to weaken, and eventually would be unable to even swallow.
Erik's eyes glistened with tears. He'd only just met Reza, but already he felt attached to the child. And no one, especially an innocent little boy, should have to die such a death. The best that could be done for Reza was try to control the pain when it became to severe and feed him through a tube when he could no longer swallow.
'What will you do now?" Erik asked when they left the office. "I mean will you stay in Paris?'
Nadir concidered before answering.
"If I go back to Persia, the Shah or khanum could order me away on any buisness, maybe keep me away from the child for months at a time. And yet everything I need to suport him is in Persia."
"You are a distant relative of the royal family aren't you? Surely they could give you some funds to help. And- I would be glad to help provide whatever they don't."
He wasn't sure what made him offer that. Maybe it was knowing what it was to lose a family member, his already formed bond with Reza along with his protective instincts, or the fact that Nadir was one of few who treated him civily. The Persian shook his head though.
"I couldn't impose on you more than I already have. You've been very kind. Besides, the Shah would never allow me to stay"
Erik looked at him sadly.
"I would be glad to help in any way I can, and if you tell that Shah it is for Reza's treatment he may let you stay. Personally I don't see why you don't just tell him to go hang himself and do what you please."
Nadir looked like he was concidering when darius brought Reza over. Nadir decided to see how his son felt.
"Have you been missing home, Reza?"
"Not really," Reza answered. "At home you always have to go away. I like being together with you. And of course Erik is here."
"Then would you like to stay in France a while longer?"
Reza's face lit with joy.
"Then we can stay together here away from the Shah? And Erik can show me more magic?"
"Yes," Nadir assured him, wanting his son's last year on Earth as happy as possible. "We'll be together. As to Erik showing you more magic, that's up to him."
"I'd be happy to, Reza."
The little boy happily threw his arms around him, something Erik had never expected from a small child.
"Will I be needing medicine?" Reza turned to his father and asked suddenly. Nadir couldn't bring himself to tell the child the complete truth.
"Not for now, Reza."
The child looked relieved at that, and none of them could tell the child that except for pain medicine later, no medicine would be able to help.

AN: Hope this seems realistic. I know in the book Erik was the one who taught Nadir French and he was already fluent in Persian before meeting Nadir, because when Nadir slipped into speaking Persian instead of Russian at their first meeting Erik understood and spoke Persian back.
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Old 11-20-2010 at 03:34 PM
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 Post [25]


Yay Reza! Oh gotta love that kid. Another goodin there wandering. Poor Nadir :( and Lucianna te biatch has returned lol. Love it, can't wait for more!


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Old 01-09-2011 at 07:28 PM
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 Post [26]


Instead of going on to Boscherville, Erik decided to send his family money to come stay in Paris for a time. He knew his mother especially would enjoy being in a city that was a world of fashion and style, and he fully intended to treat Marie and his grandparents to whatever they may want. With Giovani's buisness doing so well and his compositions becomming better known he could easily affoard it.
Erik's wish was comming true as far as the masonry buisness was concerned. It was becomming known that the buildings he designed and built were exceptionally beautiful, and people were beginning to talk about them for that reason rather than just because a man in a mask built them. Contracts were comming in for churches, museums, and other buildings that the public would be comming to see. He was refusing more and more of the lazy arristocrats who'd only wanted a novelty.
At first he'd kept Giovani's buisness going for him, but he'd come to understand that the real legacy Giovani had left him was not the buisness. That had been a way to help him earn a living while he established himself as a composer. Giovani's real legacy was in the skills and lessons, both to do with masonry and with people, that he had taught him. Whether the buisness suceeded even better now or declined, Giovani's lessons would be used to create buildings he would have been proud to see.
No matter what else Erik may be busy with, he always found time for Reza. The child was quiclkly becomming his world, and in Return Reza adored Erik almost as much as he loved his own father. Nadir, for his part, had come to enjoy Erik's company even if their were moments when Erik got on his nerves. The worst of these was when Erik brought in a cat for Reza to play with. The cat was very well cared for, and had a collar so he was obviously owned by someone and just out hunting, but Erik reasoned whoever the owner was wouldn't mind if their pet was taken in to brighten a sick little boy's day. But Nadir, much as he may try, had never gotten along with cats. This one hisses and growled at him so badly he had to leave the room until Reza was done playing with him and he was put back outside.
When Erik's family arrived, they had varried reactions to the three Persians. Madeleine was a bit haunty to who she privately thought of as simply "foreigners," although she was cooly polite. Marie's parents were friendly enough although they had a certain disdain for non- Christians just as Darious was not exactly fond of those who did not follow Islam. Marie was kind to them, believing all people deserved kindness as children of God. The fact taht they'd treated Erik with politeness and dignity also helped raise her opinion of them.
It was a pleasent time, and all too soon it was time for Erik and Lucianna to return to Rome. This time, however, his family and their Persian friends had been invited for the wedding . Poor Reza was crying over Erik leaving even so though.
"I wish you didn't have to leave."
"I know, Reza. But it's only a month, and then you'll be comming to Rome."
Erik spent the last hour before leaving putting on a special show for Reza in Nadir's new flat on the Rue di Rivoli. The flat was filled with music and beauty for the next hours, turned into the real of illusions until if Erik had delayed any longer he would have missed his train. After making sure Nadir, Reza, and Darius had everything they needed since their French was still limited, Erik said one last goodbye and he and Lucianna left for the train station.
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Lucianna's wedding day was just as all wedding days should be, bright and sunny and absolutely beautiful. Lucianna's sisters would be her bridesmaids, and Lorenzo had chosen one of his fellow masons he'd become friends with as his best man. The role Erik was to play in the wedding had come as a shock to him. The day they'd arrived back in Rome, he saw Lucianna looking sadly at her wedding dress.
"What's wrong?" he asked. "Are you having second thoughts about marrying Lorenzo?"
She shook her head.
"No, I know he's the one for me. I just-" her voice was soft. "I wish Papa was here."
Erik was quiet befoe answering.
"I'm sure he'd love to be here. See you get married. Walk you down the aisle."
Lucianna looked unusually thoughtful before asking "Since he isn't here to do that for me, would you?"
Erik hadn't even planned on going to the wedding, to be honest. It would be just a painful reminder of what he could never have. There would never be a woman in white comming to meet him at the alter. And while everyone else was dancing at the reception, he would have to content himself with setting alone at a side table. Yet he couldn't disapoint her on her wedding day.
"You'd really want me to do that?"
She nodded. "With Papa gone, I'd rather have you do it than anyone else."
So when the big day arrived, Erik stood in place beside her, waiting for the bridal march to start. He focused on his task once the music began, and yet when he placed Lucianna's hand in Lorenzo's, his eyes glistened. He'd thought once Lucianna was married he'd be relieved that she was someone else's headache now, but as annoying and spoiled as Lucianna was, he would miss her in his house. His mother had com to accept him, and he'd always had Marie and hid grandparents, but Lucianna filled a different role in his life that he didn't want empty again. He would always think of her as an annoying younger sister.
The ceremony proceded, and again Erik wished that someday he would have someone who loved him. Tears came to his eyes, and he vowed he'd never go to a wedding again. No doubt they'd always make him cry.
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As a wedding present, Erik made Lorenzo a partner in the buisness. He had reasons for doing so other than just being generous though. He wanted to be sure Lorenzo and Lucianna were financially secure. But he also didn't want Lorenzo to spend too much time working in the yard. Giovani had not been a young man when he'd died, but he had not been extremely old either. He could have enjoyed more years of life if his lungs had not been filled by years of breathing in the dust and grit. Erik didn't want Lorenzo's life shortened the same way.
Erik himslf had not yet had too much trouble with that. The mask he wore, besides hiding his face, kept the majority of the dust from being breathed in through his nose hole. Also, although Giovani had taught him all there was to know about every aspect of masonry, Erik's favorite parts of the job were solving the engineering problems and what was known as "carving," sculpting and shaping all the details that made the difference between a building and a work of art. These jobs were far less strenuous on a person's health, and with owning the company Erik wasn't out in the yard as often as the laborers were since he had to meet with people so often so he wasn't doing the difficult work too often. He hated that part of the job though, and was grateful he could leave many of the meetings to Lorenzo now and have more ime to do the work he enjoyed.
No matter how busy he was with his masonry work and compositions though, Erik always found time for Reza. Shortly after Lucianna's wedding, Erik's newest opera about Persephone would be premeiring in France. Erik thought it was a shame thatthere was no definitive opera house in Paris. There had been talk of building one for years now, but it seemed the debate would continue for years to come over just where it should be, and no serious plans to build had been made yet. Perhaps someday he would have a chance to design a great opera house. For now though, his newest work would be performed at the Theatre du Chatelet, the largest concert hall in Paris.
Of course his opera wasn't the only reason he wanted to be in Paris. He knew the thing to do to avoid heartbreak was to not let himself become any more attached to Reza than he already was, but although he knew the pain of reza's death would be shattering later, the child was such a joy in his life now that he couldn't simply disapear from his life. He loved brightening Reza's day with music, stories, and magic, even teaching him some tricks.
"That's much better, Reza. You can do that as well as I can now," Erik praised when Reza made a book disapear from one place and reapear in another. Erik picked it up and saw it was a book of Persian folktales Nadir must have brought with him. Reza recognized the title when Erik read it.
"My mother loved that book," Reza said. "Father says she used to read to me when I was very little, but I can't remember."
Nadir had told Erik that his wife, Rookheeya, had died in an accident years before. He'd also sadly told him that reza looked a good deal like her.
"Would you like me to read to you Reza?"
The child nodded, and Erik chose the story of the Nightingale and the White Rose. It was such a beautiful story, and Erik enjoyed it as much as Reza did. A forbidden love that overcame the odds, at least temporarily, and left behind something beautiful, the most beautiful flower that ever existed. He couldn't help thinking it would make a wonderful opera.
Reza was nearly asleep by the time the story was over. Each day Reza seemed a little weaker, tired a little sooner, or had a bit moe difficulty speaking or swallowing. Fortunately, he was not yet in pain. Erik helped the child to bed, and Nadir, having noted the time, came to tell his son goodnight.
The two men sat in the livingroomafter that talking about nothing in particular until Nadir sighed and said "Erik a letter came from the Shah. He's ordering me back to Persia. there's a war against the Babbis and he wants me to take part in it. We're suposed to leave Paris this weekend."
"You never got the letter," Erik said quickly.
"What?"
"Mail gets lost even over short distances. think how easy it would be to get lost comming from Persia."
"I'll have to back anyway though eventually, Erik. There is little use in delaying it. Without their support I have no way to take care of my son."
"You're a policeman aren't you? You could find work as a policeman here. And I will help you and Reza in the mean time. You have nothing to worry about."
Nadir looked down, silent for a time before reaching to grab the letter.
"Erik I can't live off your charity until I find work."
"What would be best for Reza?'
Sighing, Nadir answered "Reza always did hate the Shah for his cruelty, and how he always sent me away. He'd want to stay here if I asked him. And once he dies, it's true there will be nothing left for me in Persia." He hesitated, then with renewed determination he threw the Shah's letter into the fire.


In sleep he sang to me
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Old 01-09-2011 at 07:50 PM
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 Post [27]


Beautifully written love, poor Erik at Lucianna's wedding along and about Reza's unavoidable fate :'( We still love you Erik!
Can't wait for the next piece!


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Old 02-09-2011 at 03:59 AM
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 Post [28]


Over the following months Erik composed for the new opera he was planning based on the Persian folktale. Bits and pieces of it came to him, but the depths of love the nightingale and the rose shared was not conveyed in the music the way Erik wanted it to be. It was at least as good as Gianciotto and Hades and Persephony, but he wanted it to be even better, his greatest work. As he continually worked to perfect it, he began work on another opera.
This piece was not one he'd intended to write, but it almost seemed to write itself. Oddly enough it had it's beginning in an insult one of his men made when they didn't know he was listening.
"Didn't you know?" The man had joked to a new man in the yard. "He wears the mask because the women would never leave him alone if they saw his face. A regular Don Jaun that one."
The man had been fired that same day, but the idea of Don Jaun remained in Erik's thoughts. The opera that resulted was filled with every black emotion. Lust. Jealousy. Hate. It was so intense it seemed to burn. Indeed, Erik was almost surprised the keyboard didn't start on fire as he played it. He vowed never to let this piece be played in public, but it was an outlet for the darkness within him. A volcano had to erupt every so often.
The darkness within him was becomming more painful and lonely. Reza's death was growing nearer now, he knew. Nadir knew as well, but could not face the fact. He often talked with Reza about things they would do in the future, keeping life as normal as possible.
"Do you think he knows?" He asked Erik one day. "Do you think he knows how ill he is and that he's going to-" he couldn't finish the sentence.
"Children are more perceptive than adults give them credit for," Erik answered. "And Reza is very brave. He would never let on how ill he feels. i think he must at least suspect if he doesn't know for certain."
Nadir shook his head sadly, tears in his eyes.
"I can't imagine what that must be like, knowing that the end is comming."
"As harsh as it sounds, it would almost be a mercy if his suffering were simply over," Erik said very softly.
"Don't say such things!" Nadir said with a start.
"I am sorry," Erik said, his own grief clear.
In his heart though Nadir had to almost agree. Reza was continuing to worsen, as everyone had known would happen, His speech was harder to understand now, and there were more times when he was uncomfortable. He could barely swallow anymore so eating and drinking were real problems. His throat muscles, like his leg muscles, simply refused to work. Rather than using a feeding tube Erik, Nadir, and Darius were trying to keep Reza nourished with soups, broths, teas, and milk.The child must have been tired of the same food every day, but he never mentioned it.
Changing the subject, Nadir said "I recieved another letter from the Shah. He says that if I do not return within the month I will be exiled."
Of course both men knew that was out of the question even if Nadir had wanted to return to Persia. Reza was far too ill to travel.
"Have you had any luck finding ajob with the police?" Erik asked. if he had he needn't rely on the Shah.
Nadir shrugged.
"They were polite, but I think my limited French will be too much of a problem"m
"It's improved much since we met though," Erik told him. "And your experience being the daroga should help."
"At any rate they said they would notify me one way or another within a week, and even if they do not hire me, the Shah will still likely grant me some small pention because of my royal blood."
There was a hint of pride in Nadir's voice at the mention of his royal blood, and Erik couldn't resist.
"Don't princes outnumber the fleas on the camels in Persia?"
Nadir's mouth droped slightly.
"Where did you hear that saying?"
Erik merely chuckled.
Even if Erik's sense of humor was on the cynical and dry side, nadir did appreciate the laughs Erik could cause, both for himself and Reza. Laughter these days was a rare thing and badly needed. Nadir still could not face how short his son's time was. Looking down later that day said gently "Nadir, in all honesty I don't think Reza has much longer than to weeks left.'
The Persian paled.
'No! You have to be wrong. Surely he has more time than that. He's just a child."
Erik shook his head.
"Medicines can keep him relatively comfortable, and I can do magic and make music for him to keep him happy, but there is nothing else to be done."
The days tht followed were the happiest any child ever knew. Reza's word was law for both Erik and Nadir. Neither wanted to lose a moment of the time that as left and having the two people he loved most alwats nearby meant more to Reza than anything. No more Shah sending his father away on one duty or another, and the world Erik created for him as close to Heaven.
Then one night hile Nadir, exhausted, as sleeping in the livingroom chair, Reza murmered quietly and Erik ent to see if he needed anything.
"A drink please?" Reza requested when Erik asked him.
Erik helped the child drink, and Reza smiled.
"Thank you Erik, for all you've done."
The cold never bothered Erik, but a chill ent through him then. It as as if Reza ere saying goodbye in case he didn't get another chance to.
"You're elcome, child."
"Erik, I as thinking. You're the only person I love that I've never seen. What do you look like?"
Erik as both warmed by the child's love and horrified at the idea of losing that love if Reza kne.
"Not like other people, Reza."
"Is that why you ear a mask?"
Erik gasped.
"How did you kno that?"
"I can hear it," Reza answered. "Just a slight echo when you speak or sing except hen you thro your voice. I don't think a seeing person could tell. I know my hearing improved after I ent blind. The sound of your voice echoes just a bit so I as thinking something must cover your mouth, maybe even your whole face."
"I don't have a face, Reza. Just a terrible deformity."
"Everyone has a face," Reza said, confused. "Will you let me see yours? Please?" He held out his hands.
"I don't want to frighten you, Reza."
"Please?" The child asked again.
There as no ay Erik could deny him hat could be his last request. With hands trembling he guided Reza's hands over his face.
"Are you all right?" Reza asked. "You feel so cold."
"I always feel cold to the touch. That's normal for me. My cheekbones are higher than normal," he contined, starting with the aspects of his deformity that were least shocking.
"Nothing too unusual though."
"My eyes are sunken much deeper than normal. My lips are twisted. My skin is a yelloish color ith little blue veins running through it because my skin is so thin." He ran Reza's fingers over here he knew the veins were, and the child's sensitive fingers could feel the blood pulsing.
Reza's hands continued to wander over Erik's face until they came to the most surprising feature- or lack thereof- about him.
"You don't have a nose?"
"No, I don't." He tensed.
"That's not so bad though."
Erik looked at him in amazement.
"You don't think I'm very ugly?"
"No, just different. But so am I. I can't see or walk anymore, but I'm still me just like you're still you no matter hat you look like."
Erik had tears in his eyes.
"Can I tell you a secret, Erik?"
"Certainly, child."
"I love you. I love you as much as I love Father. Erik, are you crying."
"Some- some smoke from the candle got in my eyes child, that is all. But I love you as well."
Reza grinned.
"I'm glad. Could you start my music box for me please, Erik? I like to fall asleep to it."
That music box was Reza's favorite posession, and it was never far from him. Erik clapped loudly and enthusiastically, starting the miniture mechanical violinist playing. Soon Reza as sleeping soundly. Erik tucked the covers around him and silently slipped out of his room. Nadir stirred and opened his eyes.
"How is he?"
"Sleeping comfortably for now. Actually tonight seems to be a relatively good night for him."
Nadir sighed, ondering ho many more days and nights Reza ould have.
"I know there are fe things a person can say to help at a time like this, Daroga, but one thought that perhaps you can hang on to hen he is gone..."
"Yes?"
"You've only had him in your life a short hile, but anyone ho has such a child in their life for a day, especially if they have the privaledge of calling themself the child's father, is a lucky man."


In sleep he sang to me
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Old 02-09-2011 at 07:32 PM
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 Post [29]


oh my goodness! Brilliant as ever wandering. Nearly had me in tears right from the start :)


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Old 05-01-2011 at 08:02 AM
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 Post [30]


The end came for Reza in the hours before sunrise only two days later. Knowing that the end was near, Nadir and Erik took turns staying with him. The child spent most of his time sleeping now, as the painkillers made him drowsy, which was a mercy. Erik continued to use music and magic to brighten Reza's life as much as possible, but even Nadir was wishing death would be merciful to his son now. It was on Erik's watch that mercy was granted.
The deformed man yelled for his Persian friend to come, although unsure whether it would be for the better for Nadir to see this or not. Together they propped Reza up in their arms in a futile effort to help his breathing. In reality it was more of an effort to give comfort, as well as to take a little comfort from holding the child one last time. There was time to tell Reza again that they loved him and hear him say that he loved them. Together they said a quick Muslim prayer. By the time the prayer was finished, Reza was limp and his suffering was over,
Neither man said anything. No words that might have been spoken could be helped. Their eyes both had tears, but while Nadir held his son's body, Errik found it easier to leave the room and spend some time alone.He knew he wouldn't be able to stop crying for some time, and he hated to cry in front of others.
In the sad days that followed, Erik poured out his grief through music just as he had when Sasha and Giovani had died. Nadir had made sure the proper Muslim services had been observed for Reza, but playing a requium just felt right even if Erik wasn't especially religious. He'd been raised to be a dutiful little Catholic as a child and found comfort in believing he would see those he loved again in Heaven, but could not understand how a God who was loving could allow an innocent child to suffer.
Nadir, on the other hand, took comfort in his religion, and though neither would ever fully get over the loss, both were eventually able to move on and continue to live the way they knew they had to. Nadir was granted a job with the Paris police department, and he and Darius would remain in their flat on the Rue de Rivoli. Erik went back to running Giovani's masonry buisness, and the next year he decided to expand it by buying the buisness in Rauen.
It was while in Rauen that he met Jules Bernard, a young mason apprentice come from Brussles in search of work. At the time Jules already had three young children to support and badly needed a good paying job. Erik hired him on the spot, and Jules worked hard for him. Though not the best mason Erik had ever employed, he was still compitent in his work and even better at meeting with clients, especially those who would have been unerved to meet with a man in a mask. Soon Erik left him in charge of all the meetings as well as accounting for all the buisness' funds.
Now that he owned a company in each country he thought of as home, Erik divided his time more evenly between them instead of only comming to France in the slow season, although if anything in either place required his attention he was sure to go there as quickly as possible. He was in France when word came that Lucianna was expecting a child. Everyone was overjoyed especially concidering that Lucianna and Lorenzo had been trying for so long.
The child was expected to be born sometime in early May, the letter said, and they hoped Erik would be there for the birth. Already Erik knew he would spoil this child as badly as Giovani had spoiled Lucianna. The next day he bought out half of the nearest toy store, and began working to make still more toys. he also began carving a stunning crib and cradel set out of the finnest wood.
"Anyone would think you were the one who's going to be a father," Marie teased gently.
Erik smiled, but Marie could see how sad, tortured, his eyes looked behind the mask.
"What's wrong Erik dear?" She still called him that just like when he was a child.
"It's just that I'd like to be a father someday, but I know that will never happen. No woman will ever want to be with me, and even if I ever did find a woman who saw something when she looked at me other than an abhorant face, I would never dare risking passing on my deformity to an innocent baby. Lucianna's child is the closest I'll ever come to having my own son or daughter. Even if they don't curse me for passing on my deformity any children of mine will be repulsed by me."
Marie put a hand on his shoulder. "You could still find a woman who loves you for yourself. And if you ever do have children, they'll be glad to have a father who loves them so much."
It was nice to dream about, but Erik didn't dare hope.
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The child stole Erik's breath away. She was the most perfect child he'd ever seen, with a resemblance to her mother that was unmistakable. He could well understand how Lucianna had wrapped Giovani so thoroughly around her little finger.
"Would you like to hold her?" Lucianna asked. Behind the mask Erik's eyes looked fearful.
"I've never held a child before. What if- what if something goes wrong?"
"Erik you're not going to drop her," she answered with a smile.
"But what if she starts crying the second she's in my arms?"
Lorenzo ignored him and handed him the child, who looked at him curiously before smiling.
"She likes you," Lucianna said, and Erik stroked the baby's cheek with his finger.
"Have you decided on a name for her?" he asked.
"We wanted to use one of our mother's names, and even though I was never very close to her, we decided to name her Isabella after her," Lucianna answered.
Erik had had his doubts when he'd first learned Lucianna was pregnant, but after spending a few days with her and Lorenzo he could see how love had helped the spoiled child grow up.
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Madeleine had also grown through realizing that she loved her son, but when Erik returned to France he found that she was quite ill now. Marie had written him about it, but the letter must have been sent to Rome shortly before he'd left for Raoun and he'd never recieved it.
"She's been getting worse so fast Erik. It- It's cancer the doctor says." Tears came to her eyes. She and Madeleine had their differences, but Marie deeply cared about her friend.
Knowing time was short, Madeleine did all she could to make up for the way she had been when Erik was a child. She begged him not to wear the mask around her, and no longer complained about his love of magic or said that his gifts could not come from God. On the contrary she often asked him to sing or play for her. There were no dramatic but insincere apologies. Her actions meant much more. She'd told Erik before he'd gone to Rome for the first time that she was proud of him, but now he learned from Marie that his mother had actually bragged about him.
"Not every mother can say her son won the Grande Prix de Rome," she'd said. 'And mine was the youngest to do it."
Before she died, Madeleine even made herself give Erik a kiss on each cheek. Everyone, herself included, was surprised at that. It was one of her last acts, and she passed away peacefully knowing she had set things right with her son and would see her beloved Charles again. Her funeral was a quiet and respectful one, with only Erik, Marie, and a few friends including Lucianna, Lorenzo, and Jules. Jules' wife, unfortunately, refused to have anything to do with Erik or his family. She always acted as if Erik were a monster and hated that her husband accepted money from him to help their children, even though their family now included two more and the money was needed. Jules, on the other hand, was pathetically grateful for all Erik gave.
After the funeral, Narie and Erik worked together to clear out all the things Madeleine had collected over the years. It was all neatly organized, but so much was simply not needed. Much of it would be kept by marie and Erik as keepsakes. The house and furnishing and every financial assett Madeleine had was left to Erik after a generous gift to Marie and Lucianna. Her jewelry and feminine posessions were likewise divided among the women. Erik also found his mother had kept everything he'd composed or designed. Those papers were carefully put away with his father's works in his grandfather's library.
There were stacks and stacks of newpapers though that could be disposed of. Erik didn't care much about the dealings of the human race in general and he and Marie and both been too preoccupied lately to read the papers. Erik casually flipped through the pages and a headline caught his eye.
Garnier wins contest to design Paris opera house.
Charles Garnier? Erik was shocked to see his old friend's name that way. Not that he thought Garnier was undeserving of winning. He'd come to know Garnier as a nobel man and a great architect, although if he were honest he thought Garnier did sometimes have a streak of vulgarity in his work. The shock came from seeing his name after so long. After Erik had graduated he and Garnier had fallen out of touch, A surge of jealousy ran through Erik at the thought that his friend had won what should have been his. Though he'd gained a reputation as a great architect, no one had yet offered him a contract to build anything as spetacular as what this opera house must be destined to be.
The contempt and jealousy couldn't last long though. After all, it wasn't Garnier's fault that Erik hadn't know of the contest in time to enter. And maybe there was still a chance to get involved. Contractors and masons would be needed. Even if it was too late to design it was not to late to build.
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Garnier was surprised but happy to see his old friend.
"Erik? It's good to see you again. I'm surprised you didn't enter the contest though."
For some reason that annoyed Erik.
'What makes you so sure I didn't enter?"
Garnier smiled.
"If you had, you'd have won."
As talented an architect as Garnier was, both men knew which of them was the more skilled. Erik had never rubbed it in, and Garnier had never resented him for it.
"I'll get to the point," Erik said. "I want the contracting job. I want to build this opera house. I've already come up with a list of figures."
Garnier took them and looked at Erik when he'd finished reading.
"You do realize what a ridiculously low fee you're asking?"
"You can submit a figure to the government for what would be expected and then keep the remainder." Seeing the shocked look on Garnier's face Erik continued. "Why should you feel beholding to the government? Most architects have their fee set at three percent of the cost and yours has been set at two. They're taking advantage of the fact that you're a relative unknown in your field. Besides, this project is inevitably going to go over budget and every time it does you'll be accused of trying to line your own pockets. You might as well make a little profit. Is there nothing you'd like to build for yourself?" Erik remembered his friend mentioning building a villa in Italy someday.
"And how would you meet the figures in your estimate, keep them that low?
"I'd give up my own share. I'm doing this because I love beauty, not for money."
It was clear Garnier was concidering Erik's offer. Not because he wouldn't have to pay erik though.
"Erik you have the job. Something like this has been a drem of mine for a long time too. You and I both love beauty, and I know you'll make sure the job is done right."


In sleep he sang to me
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