In revisions for my Phantom trilogy, I’ve been working on the scene that introduces Raoul de Chagny, Christine’s love interest–one of them! We see him through Meg’s eyes in my novel and…he probably doesn’t come off as well as he does in some versions! Here are her initial impressions, which probably sum up my portrayal of him rather well.
I was about to ask her directly if she was looking for someone, when her hand closed around my arm and I saw that her gaze had settled on the far end of the Dance Foyer. “Do you know that man? The one talking to Sorelli?”
This could be the answer to the question I hadn’t asked. I looked for Sorelli in the direction of Christine’s gaze. The lead ballerina was easy to spot in her vivid red gown, talking to two men dressed in somber grays. The older one was a usual visitor to the Foyer, and with a little thought I recalled the younger man’s name too. “That’s Philippe, the Comte de Chagny, and his younger brother the vicomte, Raoul. The comte and Sorelli have been, you know, keeping company for years.” Surely Christine couldn’t have been looking for him.
“But Raoul,” she said in a low voice, “what do you think about him?”
“I don’t, usually. I guess he’s nice enough.” I looked at him appraisingly across the room. He was slim and handsome, with pale brown hair and a barely-visible mustache. He had little resemblance to his brother, who had to be at least forty with a thick brown mustache, the beginnings of a paunch, and a laugh that could routinely be heard from across the Foyer. I wondered if Raoul had grown his facial hair in an effort to look more mature; if so, it was failing. No one would mistake him for over twenty. “He’s good-looking, if a bit boyish. And he’s a gentleman, which is more than can be said of many young men in this room.”
“Then you like him?”
I shrugged. If we were going to gossip, surely we could find someone more interesting to do it about. “I don’t dislike him. It’s only…”
“What?” she asked, and I was surprised by the intensity contained in that single word, by the way her hand tightened on my arm and her gaze stared right into me.
“Nothing, really,” I said uncertainly, suddenly feeling I was walking on treacherous ground. “Only that the first time I talked to him, I felt sure I knew everything about him after ten minutes. Maybe I’m wrong, only that was months ago and he hasn’t shown unexpected depths yet. Why so interested?”
She looked away, suddenly relaxing her hold on my arm, her tone turning casual. “Oh, just curious. I used to know him. Years ago, when we were children. He was vacationing in the same village Papa and I lived in, and we were…sort of friends. I was surprised to see him. That’s all.”