Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Dream Descends

Part 4 of 16

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Dion had only ever once visited Erik at his home; the visit had been very short, and extremely pointless, as Dion’s tutor did not seem to like callers intruding into his personal life. He had barely spoken five words to Dion the entire time, and the boy resignedly left, giving up on ever succeeding to make Erik look upon him as more than a student. He had also sworn never to visit Erik’s house again without the man’s permission.

But this was urgent. Erik had not shown up for Dion’s lesson, four days after the catastrophic gala, and the young aristocrat was quite terrified that his treasured teacher had decided to quit.

So now he stood before Rue Manor, titled after the last name Erik had jestingly given himself (Dion had always thought Erik had a peculiar sense of humour), sweating profusely and hoping dearly that his mentor, if he had indeed quit, did not use physical means to rid himself of Dion’s company. Dion had been concentrating hard on the polished knocker, trying to avert his mind from any such thoughts, when the door swung open.

Imagine Dion’s surprise when he was met with a frantic embrace.

“Monsieur Marchand!” Beaumont, the man Dion remembered to be Erik’s timid butler, exclaimed in relief. His sandy hair was mussed and his face haggard, but each exhausted feature seemed to light up in Dion’s presence. “Mon dieu, it is good that you have come. He has been bedridden for days now, refusing a doctor-”

“Beaumont,” Dion grunted, gently extracting himself from the man’s grasp and stepping inside. “I cannot hope to understand you when you speak so quickly. Come, let us sit down and-”

“Sit down,” Beaumont breathed, his jaw dropping as though the very idea was the most salacious thing he had ever heard. “No time, Monsieur! You must come immediately—the master is ill!”

Dion tilted his head slightly; quite sure he had misheard the servant. “Come again?”

“Monsieur de la Rue is sick with fever,” Beaumont said, as slowly as he could in his nervous state.

Erik, ill? Dion stood absolutely still for a moment, staggered at the news. Erik had always seemed invincible to him, the strongest of the strong, some sort of divine presence…a guardian angel, almost. To have something as simple and human as a fever confine him to bed—it was not a thought that had ever crossed Dion’s mind.

“How—how long has he been ailing?”

“Since Wednesday evening, Monsieur: three nights.”

He had been sick since Dion’s birthday.

You obtuse swine, Marchand-

“Have he seen a doctor?”

“We sent for one, two days ago,” he paused awkwardly, “the man was not received well, is all I can say.”

Dion nodded understandingly. Erik was not one for sympathy, or submitting to the care of others. “Let me see him.”

“Are you sure that would be wise…?” Beaumont questioned, his voice wavering.


With a frightened nod, Beaumont motioned for Dion to follow.

The butler led him through the west wing of the house silently, so Dion was able to think.

He wondered if Erik’s servants only tried to care for him because they were terrified of him, or if they truly were worried about his health. He knew Erik only had two others in his employment besides Beaumont, and he must know them all to a certain degree, to trust them with the care of his estate. He rather hoped that they felt more than fear where Erik was concerned, as something told Dion the man had received enough of that to last him two lifetimes.

So then, assuming they were concerned for his health, was it his condition that put Beaumont in such a state of anxiety?

“How bad is he?” Dion wondered aloud, and Beaumont glanced back briefly.

“He has not risen, or even regained consciousness, since we found him, excepting when the doctor tried to tend to him,” the butler informed him, and Dion was quite sure there was a hint of worry in his voice. “Ah, but here we are. You may see for yourself.”

He stopped in front of a thick mahogany door, and retrieved a candle that rested on the small table next to it. Lighting the wick with shaking hands, he handed it to Dion.

“I must warn you, before you enter, Monsieur: the master often speaks in his delirium. None of us here know what any of his talk means, but perhaps you will be able to decipher it for us.”

He grasped the door handle, but, instead of turning it, looked back at Dion and said in what could very well have been an accusing tone, “He was, after all, returning from your party the evening he fell ill.”

Dion swallowed, and, clutching the candle tightly, entered the darkened room.

Heavy crimson curtains had been pulled over the windows, and everything was consumed in shadow. The candle flame flickered as Dion shut the door behind him, and peered into the blackness. He could just make out the outline of a four-poster bed, and a writhing form tangled in the white sheets.

His eyes adjusted to the dark, and, watching his step, he moved to the end of the bed. Harsh, gasping breaths reached his ears, and he let out a soft murmur of despair as he beheld the man before him.

Erik was thrashing around violently, tossing from side to side, his face distorted in pain and grief. It seemed as though glistening sweat had been painted on to cover his entire torso, every inch shining with perspiration. His eyes were closed, but Dion could see them move behind his eyelids, darting back and forth in distress.

Ever present, the white mask seemed to gleam in the shadows, its sinister expression never changing to suit the troubled countenance beneath it, as the candlelight made its curves cast eerie shapes. Dion shivered involuntarily as the hole for Erik’s eye seemed to cease its movement and stare directly at him.

Suddenly, he was tempted to reach over and tear the horrific accessory from Erik’s face. Immediately he was ashamed of himself for even thinking to invade the man’s privacy in such a way. He had once asked Erik to remove the mask, wondering why he wore it, and Erik had replied in a furious purr that Dion found more fear inflicting than his thunderous shouts. He had forbidden Dion to ever ask that of him again, if he wished for Erik to continue teaching him. Dion had hastily sworn that he would not.

But now…the man was lost in hallucinations, and he would never know if Dion slipped it off for a moment. Somehow, the younger man knew the answer to Erik’s past lay underneath the leather; the answer to this triangle between he and the Chagnys existed. It could help Dion help Erik, if he only knew…

Dion placed the candle on the bedside table. Inhaling deeply, he reached forward and peeled the mask from Erik’s face.

Mon dieu.

He recoiled, dropping the mask in his shock, and his knees nearly failing him as Erik cried out. He sat up, clawing at his face, and then fell back against the pillow, without opening his eyes. He had not woken up.

Dion released a shaky breath and moved forward cautiously, retrieving the mask from the floor.

He had thought, maybe a scar, a tattoo, perhaps even nothing, knowing Erik’s eccentricities; but he had not expected this.

All of the right side of Erik’s face looked as though it had been held in a fire, part of the hair gone and the flesh unnaturally red. The skin was hideously puckered, and his cheek sagged under his eye. In some places giant welts had risen, and the thick outlines of his veins bulged out of his temple.

So this is what you have been hiding from me, Erik.

Dion could have wept in sympathy for this man, a genius cursed with such a deformity. He could never have been accepted by the public, or known the love of a woman. How had he survived childhood? Dion felt sure Erik had not known family. Had he ever known any human affection at all?

“Christine, how-”

Dion nearly dropped Erik’s disguise yet again as the man spoke out in his fitful sleep. His voice was broken from crying.

Christine, Dion realized suddenly, he had loved her…Of course…

And she had refused him…for love of the Comte de Chagny? But she had not shown any of the hate the Comte seemed to have for Erik; rather, she had seemed heartbroken. He needed to know more about what happened between Erik and the Comtesse, before he could try to help his teacher any more.

And if the man would not consent to a doctor’s treatment, perhaps he would consent to treatment from the woman he had loved…the woman he still loved, perhaps?

Smiling sadly, he gently put the mask back on. He knew Erik too well to fear him for a physical malformation. Dion would be damned if this was God’s way of punishing Erik for any sin, or the Devil’s way of loving him. He would not be as cruel as the rest of the world; he would not hate a man for something he was not responsible for. And he would prove that to Erik, when the time came.

He picked up the candle and moved over to the door. Before opening it to leave, he turned back to look at Erik one last time. Oddly enough, Dion found him much less intimidating now that he knew what the mask hid, now that things made sense.

“Á bientôt,” he murmured, the corners of his mouth turning up slightly. “Your next visitor will be much more attractive, my friend, I promise you.”

* * *

Christine’s skin was burning. She could feel fire eating away at it, bit by bit. Why was no one helping her? Please, water, anyone! She tried to cry, but her voice failed her. Visions of dancing flames passed in front of her eyes, and then disappeared in a white flash as another wave of heat consumed her. She was being cooked alive in some giant oven. She was in Hell.


She could hear the echo of a voice, somewhere beyond the fires.


She turned away from the blaze, trying to somehow shield her body as her flesh was charred, slowly blackening in the fires.


Comtesse? The flames shied away slightly. Why would she be called by her title?


Then, the heat was gone in one great wave, and a delicious cool washed over her.

“Comtesse, please, it is near noon…”

Hesitantly, Christine opened one eye. She opened the other.

Adèle was leaning over her, the bedspread that she had just pulled off Christine’s sleeping form clutched tightly in her hands. “I am sorry, Madame, but the Comte wishes you to join him for a late breakfast. He did not want to wake you, but it is getting rather late…” She trailed off uncertainly at the startled look in Christine’s eyes.

“Are you all right, Madame?”

“Quite all right—just fine, thank you, Adèle,” Christine mumbled, massaging her arms gingerly. Only a tingling sensation remained from the unbearable heat of her dream. “How late did you say it was?”

“Near noon, Comtesse. Monsieur Marchand, the Baron’s son, has already come and gone, hoping to see you. He left a note, but-”

All traces of drowsiness vanished at the mention of the name Marchand. “The Baron’s son?” She swung her legs over the side of the bed. “I can’t see him.” She got to her feet, balancing shakily for a moment, and then moving over to the window.

The skies were overcast that day, which was rare in Nice. The white light streaming through the clouds made Christine’s face seem even paler than it was. The circles under her eyes had only deepened, and she constantly had a knot in her throat, as though her voice was protesting at her abuse of it. She had not been ready to sing, not after so long.

In fact, her whole self was protesting. She had spent the last three days languishing in the Chagny household, Raoul watching on in helplessness as she refused to go out, and rarely ate. Her sleep was sporadic, and when she did give in to it, her slumber was rocked with perverse nightmares.

“Madame, he was desperate—will you at least read his note?” Adèle gave her an imploring look. “It would be good for you to get some fresh air, perhaps you and the Comte could take a walk and visit the Marchands?”

Startled at the concern in the maid’s voice, Christine nodded. “I will see the note.”

“Would you like to get dressed first?”

“I—I suppose.”

She chose a gown of grey satin with black lace trim, and a square collar. Her maid had protested feebly at the colour, but Christine had pushed the objections away firmly. All her brightly coloured and pastel gowns seemed to insult her as she looked over them.

And so many of them, too…

Even after four years, her wealth as a Comtesse still startled her. Raoul spoiled her often, as undeserving as she was. She knew, with no small amount of guilt, that she was a horrible wife to him. He doted on her frequently and never protested when she wanted to stay home for the day, even if he had made plans for them. Their marriage had been slowly deteriorating for the past three years, and because of her.

If only she had given him a child, none of this ever would have happened.

She entered the dining room still lost in her miserable thoughts, and Raoul stood to welcome her.

“Good morning, Christine,” he said, all false smiles and pretend cheer. She inclined her head, attempting to smile back.

“Good morning.” He pulled out a seat for her next to him and she eased herself down.

She had liked the dining room immediately when she first toured the house. It had a high, domed ceiling that was painted a warm cream colour, with windows looking out to the sea. The table stretched along the whole room, with an elegant candelabrum in the center. Everything about it was exactly what an aristocrat’s dining room had looked like in Christine’s head when she was younger, and perhaps that was partly what her fondness was due to; it was as though she was living in a childhood dream.

“A note from Monsieur Marchand,” a nasal voice said, and Christine winced. It was their butler, Deniau. Something about his slick appearance made her uncomfortable, and she had tried to avoid him while they had been here. Now, he handed her a small scrap of parchment, his thin, bony fingers holding it tightly for a moment before letting her take it. He stepped back with a sniff of his angular nose, and then left the room.

“He was acting strangely when he came by,” Raoul commented, picking at his food with a fork. “He didn’t even ask to see me when the butler told him you were still abed. He just scribbled down a note and rushed out.”

“Oh,” Christine mumbled blandly. She carefully unfolded the paper.

It read,

Dear Comtesse,

I must apologize for the distressing events of several nights ago, and beg you to forgive me for meddling in affairs that were not mine to meddle in. I beseech you; please come to Marchand Manor as soon as is convenient, there is a matter of great importance that I must discuss with you. It involves Erik.

Sincere Regards,

D. Marchand

Postscript: This is urgent!

Christine read Dion’s untidy scrawl several times over, wondering what on earth he could be so worried about. Who was this Erik that the issue at hand apparently involved? As peculiar as the note was, she was instantaneously curious.

“I shall have to make a visit to the Marchand residence, after breakfast,” Christine informed her husband quietly. He looked up, startled.



“What—very well, darling. I shall ask Deniau to bring ‘round the carriage. The footman will drive you.”

Christine sighed in relief at Raoul’s compliance, but a pinch of culpability still irritated her already strained mind.

“Might I ask why you must go alone?” Christine did not miss the frigidness in his voice.

“Well, Dion—Monsieur Marchand, that is—only asks that I come…He does not mention…” She trailed off weakly.

“I see,” Raoul muttered.

Christine bit her lip, afraid that anything she might say to improve the situation would only make it worse. She should have made up another excuse for going out.

They finished the meal in silence, Christine barely touching her plate, and Raoul eating his with stiff, jerking movements, as though he was forcing himself.

When he was done, she stood. “I should be leaving.”

He observed her stand there with cold indifference. “Very well. Enjoy yourself.”

“I—yes, I will,” she stammered. She could feel his eyes drilling into her retreating back as she left the room.

* * *

“I must thank you for coming,” Dion said earnestly, as Christine came through the door. She gave him a wan smile, glancing around the room briefly. “I thought perhaps that my library would be more appropriate than the parlor.”

Christine, relieved that she had not had to go near the organ again, nodded.

Dion’s private library was a small, comfortable place, with several bookshelves, a fireplace, and countless cushioned chairs. He had been standing in front of the hearth when she entered, his expression grim.

Now, he turned and motioned for her to sit. She complied, brushing off her skirt nervously as he selected a chair across from her.

“Your note was urgent…” Christine began uncertainly. Dion nodded.

“Madame, firstly I must apologize for whatever grief I have caused you in the past week,” his paused, sighing. “…And now, I must apologize for dragging you back into this mess.”

Christine stiffened involuntarily. “What is it you want from me, monsieur?”

“I do not know entirely what went on with Erik and yourself in the past, but-”

“I’m sorry—but who is Erik?”

Dion gave her a puzzled look. “Why, Erik—my teacher—the man you encountered several evenings ago. Do you not know his name?”

“Erik,” Christine murmured in amazement. Never had she thought that he might have a name, her tutor. He was the Angel of Music, what other name would he need? Erik. It suited him, somehow. “No, I—I never knew his name.”

“Oh,” Dion said, his brow furrowed. “Perhaps I was mistaken, then…”

“Why did you send for me?” Christine asked again.

Dion straightened up. “Madame, I will not waste my time trying to put this delicately. Erik is ill—dangerously so. He is refusing a doctor’s treatment, and his fever has not broken. He has not regained consciousness for several days. If he does not receive treatment soon…”

Christine listened in numb horror as Dion trailed off forbiddingly.

It is impossible. The Phantom did not fall ill…Did Erik?

Who was Erik?

“Surely, he will not—he cannot…”


“He needs someone to take care of him, Comtesse.” He looked her straight in the eye. “And, if I was not mistaken after all, you are the only person who can.”

“I dare not,” she breathed. “Dion, if I see him again…”

“Christine, please.” His eyes were wide and pleading. “If not for me, then for him. He means something to you still, I can see it.”


“Christine, he speaks of you in his dreams. Please, at least go and see him, just once.”

* * *

You should not have come.

The house surprised her at first; somehow she had still been expecting a grotto-like shack, with dozens of candles and golden figurines. Instead, the inside of Erik’s home was beautiful rich mahogany, with dark greens and blazing scarlet. Tastefully done, yet startling.

The butler, overly enthusiastic at a visitor, led her quickly through the halls, so she barely had any time to take it all in. Christine felt as though she was suffocating in the eerie silence of the manor.

She tried futilely to control her shaking hands. She could sense his presence in everything, the furniture, the paintings, the rugs; Erik was all around her. She could feel his eyes on her, though she knew he was in his bed with fever; she could almost hear the man of so many years ago, using his angelic voice to lure her down, down, down…

“This is it, Madame.” The butler held open the door. She gulped, staring into the darkness beyond.

“Thank you,” she whispered hoarsely, and stepped in.

Her eyes immediately adjusted and caught sight of him. Tears immediately blurred her vision

His brow was knotted, and his still form shone with sweat. His chest pulsed up and down radically, his fists clenched, holding the sheets tightly at his sides. In the darkness of the room, she could still make out the mask. It was always there, unchanging.

She moved to the side of the bed, and kneeled down, resting a hand hesitantly on the mattress. “Oh, Erik…”

After four years of dreaming, of being haunted by his shattered countenance when she left him, she finally understood why he had stayed with her so long. Seeing him now, left to her mercy for the second time…She knew exactly why the guilt had eaten away at her mind.

Her heart was filled with only one thing as she looked upon him; not fear, not hate, not pity—but love.

God, I never stopped loving you. I never told you.

Erik stirred suddenly, and his eyes fluttered open for a moment. She held her breath.

“Christine—forgive me-” The eyes closed again, and he murmured incoherently. He had not awoken.

“Yes…forgive me,” Christine repeated. She choked back a sob as he began to toss back and forth, his utterances growing more and more frantic. She reflexively reached out and laid a hand on his arm. The contact sent a sudden tingle up her arm. “Erik,” she said his name soothingly as he twisted around. She tried to steady her voice. “Please, Erik…Sleep…”

“Christine,” he mumbled in his fitful slumber, one hand reaching out blindly.

“Yes,” she whispered, tears forming in the corners of her eyes. “I am here.” She cautiously laid her hand in his, and he grasped it almost painfully.

“I am here,” she reassured him.

Masquerade…Paper faces on parade…”

She sighed in relief as he visibly relaxed, the sound of her voice spreading over him like a blanket.

Masquerade…Hide your face, the world will never find you…”


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Dream Descends

Part 4 of 16

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