Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Dream Descends

Part 15 of 16

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Raoul was holding Nicolas’s arm so tightly he could feel the man’s pulse speeding up fearfully as Raoul’s strength waxed. He could feel each jerk of Nicolas’s body as the bullets smacked into the stunned man’s back, and still he held on, too shocked to ease his grip.

It was not until Nicolas’s grey irises rolled into his head and his form slumped that the Comte peeled his fingers off and stepped back. Tearing his gaze away from the dead man, his eyes met those of Christine.

She still had the pistol pointed where her target had stood just moments ago, her chest heaving and her mouth misshapen with disgust. She returned Raoul’s stare clearly. There was no trace of guilt lurking under her countenance—only raw hate.

The last ones standing, he thought abstractedly. Alone again, after all this time…Then he turned away and vomited next to his enemy’s corpse.

The retching noise punctured the heavy silence. Christine flung the pistol away with a cry, throwing herself down beside Erik. With trembling hands, she pulled his mask away and cupped his face in both her hands. “Angel, my angel…” she murmured throatily, her fingers exploring every crevice of his face, from his white lips to the mottled flesh stretching over his cheek, to the folds of his closed eyelids.


Her chest, which had slowly been compacting and shrinking away into nothing, sprang to life as the weakest sound floated from his mouth.


And then suddenly her insides exploded, and she fell onto his chest in a storm of tears. “Alive,” she sobbed, “Thank God, thank God…”

* * *

The Nice authorities had arrived at the scene in record time; when a pair nobles and the son of a duke were involved—two of which now apparently dead—sluggishness was not an option. The chief of police anxiously questioned an agitated Comte de Chagny, who explained the situation as composedly as he could.

Nicolas Bonheur, who everyone knew had been insane for sometime, had broken into the Chagny house with the assistance of his spy, the butler. When the Comte arrived there with his friend Baron Marchand’s son, the man had been waiting for them. He had held them at gunpoint, rambling on about avenging his father, and led them into the bedroom, where he was holding two of the house’s skeleton staff (the rest were locked in the cellar). Bonheur had shot their footman when he overcame the accomplice, and the maid had been tied to the bed. When the Comte and Marchand tried to attack the madman while his guard was down, Marchand had been shot as well. Raoul struggled with Bonheur for the gun, before taking it and shooting him in self-defense when the man lunged at him with his rapier.

The officer had to admire the man’s coolness. His wife had died just recently during the Commune’s reign, and now he had been forced to witness the death of his friend’s son. He let the man leave—Raoul de Chagny was an honest man, and he had told the story without hesitation. No further question was required.

* * *

Christine had refused to leave the room while a doctor examined Erik, though she went very pale as his waistcoat and shirt were pulled back to reveal the bloody hole the bullet had left. It had gone straight through him and hit the bedroom floor, leaving a clean exit wound.

“Miracle it didn’t hit any of the major organs,” the doctor grunted to Christine. She had introduced herself as Erik’s wife so the man wouldn’t question her presence.

“So he’ll be alright?”

“It will fully heal, yes—but only with time. He’s going to be very tired for the next few days as he regains the blood he lost, and the injury will keep him in bed after that.” He sighed gustily, and looked his patient over once more, smoothing the bandages he had wound liberally around Erik’s waist. “This man has had very poor medical treatment up till now.”

Christine eyed the elderly man questioningly.

“His face—I take it that it was an injury from his childhood?”

Christine let out a little gasp as she realized she hadn’t replaced Erik’s mask before the police came. “Er, it…” she stammered dumbly. “Yes, I suppose…I suppose you could say that.”

“Pity that it wasn’t tended to. Severe burns can heal with minimal scarring if they are cared for immediately.”

“What?” Christine blurted out rudely, her mind numbing. Severe burns?

The doctor continued on as if he hadn’t heard her. “But, there’s nothing I can do for him now.” Easing himself out of his chair, he tipped his hat at Christine and marched purposefully out of the room.

Severe burns! Christine could have laughed if she wasn’t feeling so sick. Her anxiety for Erik had lessened, and she was able to concentrate on other things.

They had decided to lay Erik down directly on Raoul’s bed, not wanting to risk further injury by carrying him out of the room. He slept now, his lips moving every now and then, mumbling incoherently. Christine squeezed his hand and averted her eyes to the currently empty room.

The only signs of recent events were the bloodstains. Christine’s gave travelled from the pinkish streak on the wall—Erik’s blood—to the dark pool on the carpet—Dion’s blood.

Dion, my friend…She hastily wiped her eyes, but a fresh bout of tears swiftly returned. It was so strange, how life could end so quickly. Dion had been thriving; he was the most singularly alive person she had ever known. Animation shone out his eyes, beamed through his smile, lingered underneath his every gesture.

And now cold metal had undone him. Somehow it didn’t seem possible that she would never hear his voice again, or look forward to visiting him when they could return from England. Surely, there had been some sort of misunderstanding, and she would go to Marchand Manor, and he would be there to welcome her. Surely

No, not at all.

He was dead, dead like her mother whom she had never met, and dead like her father whom she had adored—dead like her child, whom she had barely known…

Four, she thought sorrowfully. Four loved ones dead in one lifetime alone.

She hated the word, loathed it with every fragment of her being—save when it had taken Nicolas Bonheur. I pulled the trigger. She shivered, recalling the white-hot rage that had filled her, when she had believed Erik to be dead and all lost, taking life into her own hands, mastering the one power that had eluded her for so long.

She looked down tenderly at Erik, his bare chest shimmering with sweat and the left side of his bandage already turning a bright red. She felt no regret for what she had done. Now nothing separates us, my angel, she thought languorously. Never again…

With a furtive glance at the doorway, she crawled up beside him on the bed, carefully resting her head on the shoulder opposite of his injury. Her eyes were filled with the last crimson sliver of sunlight, dropping below the horizon.

What did father say? Red sky at night, sailor’s…

But she couldn’t seem to remember. The steady sound of Erik’s breathing lulled her into a state of oblivious contemplation. He was so blissfully solid and alive beside her—they were both alive. At long last, they were free to be together, without murder or deceit or betrayal…it was all finished. Tingling warmth filled her, a swelling of joy, love, and disbelief.

“We can live beautifully boring lives,” she whispered to Erik, even though she knew he couldn’t hear her. “Calm, dull lives…and we will die in another’s arms, of tedious old age. Won’t it be grand?”

The weariness of her life weighing down her eyelids, she pressed a kiss to his shoulder and let Morpheus take her.

* * *

Raoul felt curiously vacant as he shooed away the last reporter and started up the stairs. There was no satisfying awareness of duty done, nor a longing to proclaim his heroic victory. Overall, he found he had been in a better mood that morning when his adversary had still be alive.

Inattentively trudging into his room, he began to remove his coat and cravat when he realized it was covered in blood—Dion’s blood. Closing his eyes to repress the nausea that had risen in his throat, he quickly pulled the garment off and tossed it onto a chair. No wonder he had received such eager exclamations from the press.

Dreading tomorrow’s papers, he began to pull off his shoes. A low groan came from the direction of his bed, making him whirl around with a start.

Christine and Erik were sprawled across his bed, their figures entwined, lost in profound slumber.

For a fleeting moment he stood and admired how well they suited each other. Her petite form curving without a hitch into his tall one, the thin whiteness of her chemise blending with his bandages, and her chocolate-brown curls matching the dark dishevelled locks falling over his face.

His face—for once it seemed like only face to Raoul, not a blemish. He scanned the room for the man’s mask, and found it discarded on the floor where he had been shot. Retrieving it, Raoul walked over and set it on the bedside table.

They looked like children, finding their way home at last.

He supposed he would sleep in Christine’s bed tonight.

Now that she finally rests in your bed once more, you seek another.

Raoul’s mouth twisted at the irony of it as he scanned Christine’s unfamiliar room. The bed seemed ruthlessly cold as he climbed into it, and suddenly he knew why he felt nothing for his triumph. He had no prize. There was no reason to celebrate, when he now slept and lived alone. The woman he had risked all for and at last saved would be leaving for England, with a new love, and a new life.

What was his reward?

Glory? Pride? No.

But it was finished.

* * *

With the richest man in Nice organizing Dion’s funeral, its splendour would go unmatched for decades to come. The ceremony took place in the Marchand gardens. The Baron had white roses planted all around the area, blooming in the thousands as their stems twined around each other in a tangled mass of pale beauty.

Hundreds gathered to mourn the young man, as popular in death as he had been in life. Their countless black forms filled the seats positioned around the flowerbeds, none moving even to fan themselves in the heat.

The sun shone brightly that day, as it nearly always did in Nice, but today something was exclusively magnificent about the yellow-gold rays beating down over the service. Every colour seemed vivid and blinding with life, conflicting with the grounds of the ceremony, but somehow belonging. Emerald green trees and cerulean skies made the roses stand out all the brighter, creating a spotless sea of white.

Everyone watched in silence as the gleaming ebony casket was carried down the walkway and placed underneath a great marble arch. The structure was beribboned with black silk banners bearing the Marchand family crest. Beyond it, a gazebo covered in the same banners and white rosebuds. The roof of the gazebo covered the pew upon which the priest stood, as he performed the funeral rites.

Christine sat in the third row from the front, just a few seats away from the aisle. Her face was heavily veiled to avoid being recognized, but they had not bothered to disguise Erik, well known in Nice as Dion’s tutor. She glanced over at him, inwardly touched at the moisture in his eyes. It was only when Erik was truly sad to the point of heartbreak that he expressed the sadness in tears, instead of anger. Her own eyes were streaming, but the glistening trails were hardly visible through the filmy black fabric of her veils.

He caught her gaze as she turned, however, and saw the tears immediately. One strong hand enclosed around her delicate one, and held it tightly. The gesture only made her cry harder, even as the soothing words of the priest washed over her.

They had taken up residence at Erik’s Nice home for the remainder of their stay in France. Christine was again caring for Erik herself, with the help of his servants who had been delighted to have them back, Beaumont especially. He made no effort to hide his offense that they had left him out of the ‘adventure’, as he had put it.

Christine had been nervous when Erik decided to attend the funeral, though it had been two weeks after the injury had occurred and the salve she had used before on his shoulder wound was working wonderfully. In the end, she could not try to stop him from coming. She had never thought to in the first place.

Later on she realized just how much the death must have impacted him; with one apprentice having forsaken him and the other now dead, their child must seem to him his one chance to be remembered. Christine was confident about the pregnancy; Philippe had no problems until after he was born, and she had firmly decided that she would not worry about the future any more.

Then there was Raoul—her dearest friend, and the one enduring reminder of the days with her father, the days of her childhood. She sensed she had lost him entirely during recent events, and knew it would be better for all three of them if they did not continue seeing one another. The child would be a blow to Raoul, and though Erik denied it, Christine knew his old jealousy still lingered…

She smiled vaguely through her tears, resting one hand over her slightly swollen middle. Perhaps one day when they had all moved on, and old rivalries had been laid to rest…Perhaps then Christine could revisit her past in harmony.

* * *

Hands in his pockets and brow furrowed in deep thought, Raoul strolled towards his carriage. Now that Dion had been properly interred, he felt as though a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders. The Baron had spoken to him in private about the circumstances of Dion’s death, and Raoul was relieved to find the old man held no grudge towards him. In fact, the Baron had thanked him for coming with a firm handshake and glistening eyes.

“Home, Grayson,” he said idly.

As the horses pulled them away, Raoul glanced out the window and saw a dark-haired couple meandering along the boardwalk, the woman’s veils whipping freely in the breeze.

* * *


Looking up with a start, Christine gave Erik a sweet smile as he stepped into the room and came to her side. She sat at the desk in their bedroom, leaning over a blank piece of parchment with pen in hand. The candles burning had all sunken low and were dripping over their holders, filling the room with the sweet scent of beeswax. Outside, stars danced in the velvety night sky.

“Are you not coming to dinner?”

“I want to send this letter before we leave,” she replied tiredly. “I’ll be with you in a moment.”

Erik ran her curls lazily through his fingers, gently grazing the back of her neck and smirking as she repressed a shiver. “A letter? To whom?”

“Raoul,” she said quietly, grimacing as Erik’s suave hands faltered. “You may read it afterwards, if you like.”

Her heart swelled as he replied without hesitation. “No—you are only saying what needs to be said.” He knelt down and kissed just below her cheek. She turned and met his lips when they came forward the second time, a familiar fire igniting within her as his gratifying lips caressed hers.

He pulled away, and she sighed disappointedly.

“Come eat, when you finish, my love.”

He left, and she stared after him wantonly for a moment. But the blank paper beckoned to her, and eventually she dipped her pen in the inkwell, her neat writing gradually filling up the emptiness.

* * *


I write this letter anticipating the long separation ahead of us. There are many things I wish to tell you, and I fear that if I do not put them on paper now they will never be said.

First and foremost, I must thank you for all that you have done for me, risking your happiness and life so that I might be spared. If it is any condolence, I did love you as a wife does, during the first year of our marriage. I still do love you as my dearest friend, and I know without doubt that one day you will find another who can fulfill the honourable position as your partner as I never could. I am afraid I was most disloyal to you, if not physically then mentally so, and you deserve the utmost devotion in a spouse. You are truly one of the greatest men I have ever known.

I also never properly expressed my gratitude for that night you came to rescue me, the night of Dion’s death, like you have so many times before. I know that without you Erik would never have found me, and I look upon you with as much admiration and respect as I do him.

Lastly, I must apologize for my selfishness that put you through so much unnecessary suffering. My blindness to my true feelings was the cause for most, if not all, our misery in the past years, and if I could take it back I almost certainly would.

However, I think that all our experiences together have taught us more than a life of leisure ever could have, and we are greater, wiser people because of it. I can only hope that you agree with me and someday forgive me for everything.

Erik and I will have left Nice by the time you read this letter. We have decided to raise our child in England, where Erik is safe from the law and we can have peace in his country estate. I am sure you share the opinion that it is best for us to be separated as we adjust to our new lives, but I hope some day we can speak to each other with ease, like we did when we were children.

Once again, thank you, dearest Raoul, from the bottom of my heart.


Christine de la Rue

* * *

Monsieur, a letter for you.”

Just put it there on my desk, I’ll look at it in a moment.”

* * *

The early morning rays of the summer sun drifted in through the glass doors leading into the gardens, forming warm puddles of radiance on the carpet and carrying in a sweet floral scent from the flowers just beyond the portal. The golden light clung like water droplets to the pearls sewn into Christine’s elaborate bodice, and she twisted around in the small mirror on the wall, admiring the effect.

The pearls were only smidgens of the overall finery of the gown she wore. The creamy white satin that was the base material of the dress pooled around her feet and stretched out in a gleaming train behind her. Besides the pearls, the bodice was embroidered with roses that formed a ‘v’ just below the waistline. The cut was low and curved delicately over her breasts, scalloped with white lace. The sleeves, reaching only to her elbows, were beautifully ruched.

Her neck was dripping with diamonds and rubies, designed in a triangle with a huge pearl as the centrepiece. The tiara and veil were embroidered to match, the brilliant crimson rubies in the tiara accented beautifully by Christine’s dark hair.

“Edith,” she said breathily, clasping the elderly woman’s hands, as she handed Christine a bouquet of red roses, so tightly that her knuckles turned white. “Edith, wait for a moment.” She closed her eyes, a dreamy smile playing on her lips.


“I want to remember this, standing here exactly as I am. I want to remember this feeling.”

“What feeling is that, my dear?”

Christine reopened her eyes, their dark irises sparkling blissfully. “The feeling that I must be the happiest woman in the world.”

Edith chuckled and patted Christine’s arm affectionately. “Like every bride on their wedding day—now, if you dawdle any longer they will think you are not coming.” She reached forward and placed both hands on the doorknobs, then looked back questioningly at Christine.

“I am ready,” she reassured the older woman. The doors opened.

* * *

Erik could not recall breathing throughout the entire ceremony. He was fascinated by the pinkness of Christine’s lips, the turn of her hand, the russet flash of her eyes. A great, unknown joy spread throughout him, speeding up his heart and quickening his breath. The same joy reflected in her countenance increased the strange feeling tenfold, and he passed through the vows in a beautiful trance, gathering his wits only long enough to slide the golden band onto her finger, and revel in her gentle touch as she did the same to him.

His mind was reeling at the virginal exquisiteness of her, from her graceful throat to the masses of curls lounging freely over her shoulders. Once he even felt one of her tears land on their joined hands, and the delicious sensation was almost more than he could bear.

And as the priest they had bustled in from town completed the last line, Erik thought he could feel his limbs beginning to float upwards…

Et vos omnes, qui hic simul adéstis, benedícat omnípotens Deus, Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus Sanctus. Amen.”

Christine’s hands shook as she signed the marriage certificate, her tears leaving wet smudges all over the paper. He stared at her signature in awe for a brief moment before signing his own.

Erik de la Rue.

Mrs. Erik de la Rue.

He kissed his wife.

And always after that, the music was changed.



A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Dream Descends

Part 15 of 16

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