Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Dream Descends

Part 3 of 16

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A look of pure loathing distorted Raoul’s features. She saw him reach to his side, and she desperately raised her hand to stop him. Both men turned to face her.

Phantom,” she breathed, and fainted against the organ.

A horrible, reverberating clang was emitted from the instrument as her body pushed down dozens of keys. It was the only noise in the entire house, as hundreds of guests observed the strange masked man, the Comtesse that sang like an angel, and her infuriated husband that now cocked and aimed his pistol.

* * *

The sight of the Vicomte surprised Erik, which in turn surprised him again, as he should have realized that wherever Christine went, her meddlesome husband would surely follow. He was astonishingly levelheaded while standing before the Vicomte—no, Comte, he corrected himself—his rival of so many years ago, the man he had detested inexpressibly for years. But now, the only thing he felt was disgust.

Erik was already coming towards the Comte when the distraught man raised his firearm. He moved so quickly and effectively to knock the weapon from the man’s grasp, that the guests would later question if they had even seen a pistol at all.

Idiot,” Erik whispered venomously, right next to his ear. “Do not tell me you still attempt to be the knight in shining armor, not after all this time.”

Raoul flushed angrily, squirming in Erik’s closeness. “And do not tell me, Phantom, that you still believe you can frighten me with your pathetic critique.”

Erik took a step away, staring intensely at the Comte.

“No,” he answered thoughtfully, and Raoul blinked in momentary bewilderment. He had not expected such a conceding reply. The appearance of the most prominent figure from his past had, Raoul admitted to himself, terrified him—not for his own person, but for Christine, who he had known would not take it well. Her limp form, now being supported by the young Marchand, proved him correct.

“Dion,” Erik rasped, moving forward hesitantly. “Is she—is it only-” The hardness in his eyes had vanished and been replaced by an overwhelmed, disoriented haze.

“She has only fainted,” Dion replied somewhat breathlessly, still seated facing the organ, his torso twisted around awkwardly so he could hold Christine. “Perhaps we should-” he gestured pointedly to the guests, still crowded into the room, rapt with attention. They did not budge as Dion waved his arm for them to leave.

With a cold, cheerless smile, Erik turned and gave them and bowed flourishingly. “My dear people, the Comtesse has fainted under the stress of performing, unused to it after such a long time without practice.” Under his derisive tone, the audience began to stir uncomfortably. “I am sure she would appreciate privacy while she recovers.”

He raised himself to his full height, and gazed at them coldly. They stared back at him blankly. “Out!” He finally bellowed, and they scattered like insects, conversation bubbling up as they reemerged into the ballroom.

Erik, looking maliciously satisfied, reared to face Dion and Raoul once again. “You realize, Dion, that I will not attend another of your ridiculous social events after this?”

* * *

After they had closed the parlor doors and laid Christine down on the coach, an awkward silence had settled between the three companions. Raoul had sat down, watching his wife with vacant eyes, and Dion sat next to her, dabbing her forehead with a damp cloth he had gotten from the kitchens.

Erik paced uneasily behind the divan where Christine rest, his thoughts hectic. This encounter did not have to change anything; he could stay long enough to assure that Christine—the Comtesse, was all right, and then leave for his house and forget the evening altogether. He smiled grimly to himself. Yes, and perhaps the day after that the Parisian police will give you a public apology. He snorted. Both were equally unlikely.


Is that how she remembered him, as a murdering ghost? He did not want her to think of him as an angel, or her father’s spirit; but even those titles would have been preferable over the longstanding nom de plume that the Opera’s inhabitants had bestowed upon him. And what was that unidentifiable emotion that had flickered in her eyes, just before she lost consciousness? Fear? Sorrow? Relief? Her traumatized countenance would come to him in his dreams, he knew.

Erik suddenly noticed that Dion had been glancing fervently from him to the Comte, hoping for an explanation. Well, he would certainly not give one. Let Monsieur de Chagny tell his side of the story, and let Dion be the judge of where Erik would spend the night; in his own bed or behind bars.

Finally, the disconcerting pressure was too much, and he blurted out, “are you going to inform me of what I’ve been brought into, or hope I revive our precious Comtesse and happily dismiss the past half hour for a dream?”

Raoul, who had had his elbows resting on his knees and his chin in his hands, straightened and glowered at Erik. Erik returned the look easily. “I did not think he would have told you,” the Comte said slowly, his tone accusing. “I would not either, if I was a murderer.”

Dion narrowed his eyes, and Erik hissed between his teeth, his hate for Christine’s lover surging up through his chest as he exhaled.

“Murderer?” Dion repeated. He glanced curiously at his teacher. “Is it true?”

Erik, relieved at Dion’s permissiveness, looked away without answering. It was the closest to humiliated he had ever felt, since the night of Don Juan Triumphant…Pathetically enough, he had wanted to uphold a decent image for this student, as he could not have for his first. “He does not need to know it all,” Erik said to the wall, jaw clenched.

“Does he not?” Raoul stood. “Are you so sure? I’d think he would be entitled to know, as he welcomes you into his home. Whatever relationship it is that you two possess, it has obviously not existed for more than four years.”

Dion set down the cloth he had been dabbing Christine’s brow with. “No, I have only known him for two years. And he has not shown any desire to murder me,” he informed the Comte wryly, his tone then turning grave as he continued. “He has become an invaluable friend, in fact, so I suggest you are prudent in your accusations.”

Erik felt the corners of his mouth twitch. Dion was entirely serious, but the rapid leave of the Comte’s confidence was laughable. His amusement was nowhere to be found, however, when the surpassed man spoke again.

“Very well, Monsieur; then I must ask you if you have ever heard of the mystery of the Phantom of the Opera.”

Dion’s brow furrowed in thought, and he replied, “Was that not the affair of the Paris Opera House fire? I didn’t hear much, as I was young, and my father was often away in the service. I recall that it was said to be haunted, and a young chorus girl vanished for several days.” He looked down at the now sleeping form of Christine as she stirred slightly, blinked, and looked back up at the Comte with an expression of dawning realization.

Erik gave the parlor doors a fleeting look, something in him expected the police to burst in at any moment and take him away. He desperately wanted to reach over and cover the Comte’s mouth, somehow stop Dion from hearing the rest. He did not want this poison to spread into his new life, not ever…The Comte was once again destroying all he had created for himself.

“Yes, Christine was the chorus girl,” Raoul answered Dion’s unspoken question. Then he gestured to Erik with a loose wave of his arm. “And this is the man who haunted the Opera Populaire, not a ghost, but an obsessive madman, fighting for the affections of a young girl’s heart.”

Erik was blinded with rage at Raoul’s words and disdainful tone, and he roared, “It was for her!” He clenched his fists, seething.

The Comte raised his eyebrows, as though Erik’s denial had proved all he had just said. Dion, who had blanched at the volume of Erik’s voice, was stoic.

“I saved her from him, and in his fury he burnt down the Opera House.” Raoul finished bitterly, and massaged his temple.

Dion had always thought the Comte de Chagny a generally mild person, and this new, cynical side of him was astounding. Erik must have done more than just love Christine, and burn down the theatre. He must’ve done something to the Comte on a more personal level, for the man to hate him so passionately; a hate that appeared to be mutual.

The Baron’s son was not surprised at Erik’s hot bloodedness; his music had already expressed to Dion what kind of a man he was. His emotions were raw and ready, simmering just below the surface until something—or someone—brought them to a boil.

“He killed countless people,” murmured the Comte. “Innocent people, all for a silly mask.”

Erik choked on his breath, and stepped forward so he was facing the Comte directly from across the couch. “I regret my actions to this day, Monsieur,” he said, his voice hoarse and wavering. “But, for the life of you, you could never even begin to comprehend what brought me to it-” he was staring daggers into the Comte, “-you could never understand that level of suffering.”

“Do not speak to me of suffering,” Raoul started, and then was stopped in mid-sentence as Erik shouted wordlessly in ire. With the quickness he had shown earlier, he swung his fist and smashed one of the windows that looked out onto the gardens.

Glass crunched beneath his feet as he whirled around to face the Comte again. “Be silent!” His one uncovered cheek was flushed, and his breath ragged. His usually slicked back hair had come loose and strayed in front of his burning eyes.

Raoul, incensed by Erik’s violence, yelled back, “Heartless monster!” He walked quickly around where Dion sat, to face Erik head on. “You claimed to love her, yet you kept her locked up as a prisoner!”

“I loved her more than you could know,” Erik cried, his voice weakening. “And I let her go.” A sob escaped his throat, and he stumbled back. “I never kept her prisoner; I offered her all I had.” He pressed a hand to his eyes. “I set her free.”

* * *

It was for her!”

Christine drew in an uneven breath, struggling to maintain control of her emotions. She had awoken to the sound of Erik bellowing, and her memory came flooding back to her. She went rigid, keeping her eyes tightly shut and praying no one would notice she had awoken. They had to still be in the parlor, as she could hear the muffled sounds of the band and the company just outside the room. She felt someone gently dabbing her forehead with a damp cloth, which she had at first assumed was Raoul, but then had heard him from somewhere to her left.

I saved her from him, and in his fury he burnt down the Opera House.”

Oh, Raoul, no…

She had been engulfed with guilt when her old tutor had seemed to materialize out of shadow, as though one element of her past, her singing, had summoned another. His somber eyes connected with hers, and seemed to beg her for forgiveness, told her he knew he had made a mistake intruding into her life once again.

By this she was startled. She thought—she knew it should be her pleading for his clemency. She had nearly destroyed him four years before, and the guilt had in turn nearly destroyed her. But Raoul had helped her move on, and she had tried to forget his shattered expression when she gave him back his ring. She had tried to disregard the feel of their first and last kiss, the odd innocence of it all, though he was a murderer and she an orphan, and the untainted sweetness of lips that had never before been loved.

The horrible nightmares subsided for almost a year, and then returned full force after…

She would wake up trembling with pleasure some nights, and shrieking with horror others. Raoul looked just as exhausted and anxious as her, most days, and it was for his sake that she eventually suggested they sleep in separate rooms. He had agreed without argument, but she had not missed the hurt in his eyes. Perhaps she had not suggested only for his sake.

It was akin to the look in Erik’s when she left him. She remembered her hostile thoughts, as though they had only stirred in her mind yesterday.

I am only a door away; do not act as though you will never see me again.

Do not act as though you know pain…

She had been so lost in her own misery that she had not realized he had lost a child as well.

Her face grew hot as tears built up under her eyelids.

“I set her free.”

She slid her feet off the couch and sat up, as Dion gave a startled cry. She heard the pieces of broken glass grind against each other as two pairs of feet whirled around behind her. Her back to the sound, she pushed off the cushions to try and get up, but her knees gave way beneath her.

Suddenly overcome, she put her head in her hands and began to weep.

* * *

Erik stared at Christine’s back despondently. It seized up with each of her sobs, and then slumped into shivering, a miserable pattern that he watched in horrified fascination.

The Comte had immediately rushed and kneeled before her, trying ineffectively to grasp one of her hands. She only pulled them away and sobbed harder.

Dion got up and moved respectfully away from the couch, watching the couple with a mixture of pity and shrewdness.

“Christine,” the Comte said desperately, “Christine, darling, I’m here…”

Erik felt his insides prickle with jealousy at the intimacy that the Comte used with her.

“No,” Christine managed between convulsions, “no, Raoul, you aren’t…”

Somehow she found the strength to stand, Raoul hurriedly copying her movements and steadying her. She pushed him away, gently, as soon as she found her footing, and maneuvered around him. Erik found himself rooted to the spot as she came to stand before him.

Her skirts were wrinkled where she had lain on them, and her hairpins had fallen out, releasing her curls in tousled waves. Her cheeks were hollow, and there were dark circles under her eyes from many sleepless nights. Her skin was white as bone. She resembled a beautiful corpse, he thought in alarm. She was merely a shell of the Christine Daaé that resided in the Opera Populaire.

She was also a woman. The Christine that had left him years ago had been a girl, young and in love. Now she stood facing him as a woman, with eyes that had truly seen, a body that had truly felt. He could have dealt with the uncertain, impetuous teenager that he had known before. This Christine, he had not been prepared for.

He absorbed every angle of her; nearly quivering with the sensation of having the woman he loved at arm’s length, closer than he had ever hoped to be to her again. She seemed to be presenting herself to him, waiting for some sort of evaluation. She wringed her hands nervously, avoiding his eyes.

“Christine,” he said huskily, and was silent, cherishing the foreign sensation of her name on his lips.

She immediately looked up, and their gazes locked. Every breath in the room was drawn in and held, as a connection severed long ago was forged anew. They could almost see the bolts of electricity passing between them, some cryptic message being sent back and forth. The profundity of their union was so vast that it frightened them, and they shuddered in unison.

“Forgive me,” Christine whispered.

Erik gaped. Forgive her? Abruptly, he felt his anger returning. He had placed his heart in her hands, to take or to return, and she had instead crushed it beneath her feet. He had wronged her, and he knew it, but he suddenly could not forgive her.

He stepped back, eyes wide, and slowly shook his head. “You have no hold on me,” he said harshly, but his voice lacked conviction.

No hold…Comtesse de Chagny.

He spun around, and vanished out the broken window into the night.

* * *

Raoul’s heart was beating hard in his chest, threatening to leap out and escape him. His pulse sped up erratically.

Say something, anything.

He had barely had control over his voice, as he spat indictments at the Phantom, filled with hostility that he did not know was in him. Now he struggled to keep himself from releasing what was left of it on his wife.

You show him mercy, you beg him for forgiveness, when he threatened to take your life—when he threatened to take mine! In all my suffering, you only distanced yourself, and yet you move closer to this master of all evils…what have I ever done to make you push me away?



“Oh, Raoul, let us leave,” she begged him, finally averting her traumatized gaze from the window to look at him. “Please, take me home!”

She reached for him, her arms stretching like an infant waiting to be held. He came forward compliantly, and she buried her face in his shirt.

* * *

Dion was quite dumbfounded at the intensity of the scene he had just witnessed. He felt rather as though he should have left the room, or somehow blocked out the words that were so clearly not meant for his ears. But, in any case, he was a Frenchman, and could not resist the lure of romance. He had listened quite well.

So his remarkable teacher had been a fugitive all along. Did he hate him for lying? No. He could not bring himself to it. Even his father admired Erik, and to gain the trust of Baron Marchand was no small feat. The musician must truly be a changed man…

Or perhaps, Dion mused, he had never changed, and society had been the antagonist? For there was more than guilt in Erik’s compositions, so much more. Every emotion humanity had ever known was woven into the notes, the verses. His songs told stories without using words. It was a talent, a gift Dion hoped to receive one day, after many years of Erik’s tutoring—if Erik would agree to still instruct him after this disaster…

“My apologies for interrupting your celebrations, Monsieur,” the Comte said, stirring Dion from his thoughts. “My wife and I will be taking our leave shortly.”

The coldness in his voice was disquieting, and Dion wondered what the man was playing at, thinking they could return to formalities after such an occurrence. Ever the gentleman, Dion nodded accordingly and offered to summon their carriage. The Comte shook his head and, supporting the silently weeping Christine with an arm around her waist, left the room.

* * *

The fire hissed and crackled, golden flames licking the corners of charred parchment. Note after note of music dissolved into ash as more and more sheets were thrown into the grate. The yellow glow cast coiling, twisting patterns on every surface in the otherwise darkened room.

Erik stood before the hearth, an inferno of his own burning in the back of his eyes. His face was impassive, a flawless disguise for the rampant emotions roiling inside of him. He let another piece flutter just above the fatal grip of the blaze, then watched with a cruel pleasure as it too shriveled into nothing. It was all the music he had written in the past four years, every note reeking of Christine, of bitter heartbreak. He never wanted to see it again.

He had never wanted to see her again, either.

With an exasperated sigh, he dropped the whole pile of parchment into the fire, nearly putting it out and turning the room pitch-black. But darkness was nothing new to him, and he made his way easily around the barely visible furniture, pushing open the doors to the balcony. They rattled under the impact, then thumped against the walls and bounced back, shutting behind him. Leaning against the railing, he inhaled the first calm breath he had taken in hours.

He had returned to his house with bloodied fists and a fierce scowl for anyone who came near him. He darted up the stairs and stormed into his room, immediately drawing the curtains and lighting the fireplace. At first, he had been hurling the sheets in with disgust. Then, after the butler knocked several times on the door, which he had locked, he managed to control himself, and slowed to letting each sheet burn on its own.

Tears streamed from his eyes unstoppably, the only spout for his feelings, and he emitted cracked sobs from time to time, his chest popping up and down awkwardly.

He was amazed at how collected he had been when Christine approached him, compared to how he felt. He was sure the beating of his heart was echoing of the walls, and that his mask was slipping from his face under her gaze. He had been so vulnerable, so unprotected from her, that she could reach into his chest at any time, and steal back his love.

God, he could not let it happen.

The sea breeze floated pleasantly over his burning skin, each droplet of sweat shimmering in the starlight. He was so out of place in this haven, a monster wandering halls of beauty.

For the first time in four years, he missed his home under the Opera house, how it had truly belonged to him, and he to it. He wished he had never brought Christine down into his home, so that they could have continued their lessons, and perhaps she would have stayed. Perhaps they would still be there; she a star and he still her teacher, her voice more glorious than either of them could ever imagine. He longed for the forbidden past with a horrible wrench of his gut.

He slowly sunk down to sit on the tile, leaning against the balustrade and rocking back and forth gently. The moon was attractive, but it was cold. He craved to return to the candlelit darkness, the warmth of the perpetual night he had created…

And, not for the first time in four years, he felt lonely.

Angel, speak, what endless longings…” He clutched the bars of the railing tightly, sobbing. “Christine…”

Echo in this whisper…?

A sudden dizziness overcame him, and he shook his head, trying to rid his sight of the black dots that appeared.

Angel…Angel…endless—what endless longings…?”

And then he sunk into the blackness he had lusted after just moments before.

* * *

Christine smiled as she realized where she was: back underneath the Opera Populaire. The candles were all lit, and the Phantom was seated at his organ, waiting for her. He turned, and beckoned her with a finger.

Yes, Angel, I am coming…” She pushed her legs through the cold water, her smile faltering as she felt something brush against her thigh. “Angel?” She said nervously. “What was that?”

He only motioned for her to keep coming. She waded farther, and felt it again. “Is that you?” She asked him, as he sat there working on his music. He did not reply.

She reached into the water, her hands wandering blindly around her knees. They brushed something soft, and she immediately grasped it.

What-” She pulled it out of the lake to reveal a tiny human arm; the arm of an infant. “No!” She screamed, and dropped it again. She looked up, tears swelling in her eyes, to find it was Raoul in the Phantom’s place. He stood and grinned at her, reaching out a hand.

Come, Christine.” Something in his tone frightened her.

What was it? Where has he gone?” She forced her arms back into the water, feeling desperately for anything. She had to save whatever was beneath the surface…She had to find him…

This time, it was a grown man’s arm she pulled out, and then a shoulder, and then a head. The face was Erik’s, unmasked and lifeless. There was a bloody gaping hole where his heart should have been.

Raoul, you did this!” She cried, stumbling as she held the dead man to her chest.

But you did this, Christine,” he whispered sinisterly. She glanced up to see he was holding a baby. It was unnaturally small, and its face was tinged with blue. It was just as dead as the Phantom. “A life for a life…”


A life for a life, Christine. You kill something I love, I kill something you love…isn’t that fair? Isn’t it?”


Isn’t it?”


Christine awoke in her bed, gasping for breath. Her cheeks were damp with tears, and the blankets had wound themselves around her flailing limbs.

“It’s not fair…” She murmured, looking around wildly, momentarily unsure of where she was. “Not fair!”

She collapsed into her pillow, pounding a small fist against the mattress. “Not fair…


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Dream Descends

Part 3 of 16

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