Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Dream Descends

Part 5 of 16

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Christine, during her adolescent years at the Opera Populaire, had always envisioned her Angel as just that: an Angel. He knew no weaknesses, he could overcome any evil, and he was always there to guide her. He was her pillar of strength when the memories of her father overwhelmed her, when she felt she was too exhausted to carry on in her lessons. Her time spent with him was a lovely recess from all her troubles and foolish worries that a teenager tended to have, for his celestial music washed them away in a blaze of light.

It was ironic, she had realized later, how she had always imagined him to be a luminous figure, radiating glory, when in truth he had been shrouded in the most impenetrable darkness. And now that divine presence, her master and maestro, was at death’s door—and would most likely pass through it if she refused to help him.

Could she do it? Could she aid the man who was guilty of murder, taken her captive, and threatened the life of her husband?

She recalled another form, considerably smaller, and swathed in white blankets. She had lain only steps away, as the small existence withered and shriveled, for she was too ill herself to care for it. It had medicines, doctors, it had its father…but its own mother could not manage to lift herself from her sickbed and heal her child.

Erik had never known the love of a mother—and she would be damned if she would not do everything she could to show him that absent luxury. She was capable of it this time, and she would not let herself fail.

“Monsieur!” Christine called sharply, rising from where she knelt by Erik’s bed. The anxious butler poked his head in, calming slightly as he saw the bedridden man was still.

“Yes, Madame?”

“I will need cloths, many damp cloths, and water.” Her voice was resolute, an authority in it that Beaumont did not expect, and she did not recognize. “I must not run out of water.”

“Yes, right away, Madame.” He vanished behind the door, closing it as he went.

Christine inhaled deeply, examining herself. Her expensive gown and silk gloves would only hinder her. She stripped the gloves off immediately, and, deciding to ask the butler for a maid’s apron when he returned, tied her hair up with a ribbon.

Looking down at her new ward, the corners of her lips turned up slightly. “You would be proud of your naïve little Christine Daaé, mon ange.” She reached down and gently brushed a lock of dark hair from his face. He murmured slightly, but did not stir. “Yes, I think you would be proud of me…Erik.”

Then, steeling herself for the hardships yet to come, Christine le Comtesse de Chagny, nee Daaé, inelegantly rolled up her sleeves and became a woman.

* * *

Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud.

Lord, even his pulse was starting to give him a headache. How many bottles had it been now? Surely not more than one—

Raoul stared at his desk somberly.

One and a half, maybe.

When did you become a drinking man, Chagny? He asked himself, disgustedly. When did you become such a coward that you dealt with your troubles in whiskey?

Lord, Christine, see what your thoughtlessness has driven me to.

Since his wife had left that morning, he had withdrawn to his study and refused to come out. At first, he had tried to avert his thoughts from her by reading, but it had been hopeless. He had tried working on documents he had planned not to touch during their holiday, but it was just as futile.

Her words kept returning to him.

“He only asks that I come—he does not mention…”

He had not missed the way her cheeks coloured, or the guilt written plainly across her countenance as she avoided his gaze.

There could be dozens of explanations for this behavior, but Raoul, his mind slowed by alcohol and his heart in turmoil, only thought of one.

Surely, there was no way…Christine would not…be unfaithful?

And Dion, so young, and, Raoul could not help but think, hardly what women considered attractive. He was tall and lanky, only just growing into himself. What on earth did Christine see in him?

He ran his hand through his hair morbidly, resting both elbows on his desk and groaning slightly. He should not think such things. He should not have opened that bottle.

The only thing intoxication made easier was thinking about things. He knew he would forget it all later, so why not let himself sink into his miserable thoughts?

Their marriage was falling apart. He knew it, but he could not say it. It could barely be considered falling apart any more, now. It was hanging from a thread, which in turn was held over a flame. Achingly slowly, the fire burnt away each fibre, the flimsy line threatening to snap at any moment. Raoul could feel the weight tugging on his gut, slowly pulling him deeper and deeper into the fathomless black that was life without Christine. He feared it with all that was in him, more than he had ever feared anything in his life. To lose her would be his undoing.

With a start, he was reminded of another man who had felt the same, about the same woman, not so long ago. “Phantom of the Opera,” Raoul mumbled, his tongue slurring and rolling with drink. Christine seemed to destroy each man who loved her, the Comte mused, recalling the man’s unendurable grief as Christine chose him over her teacher.

And yet the man had survived. Raoul had seen him, not a week ago—living, breathing, perfectly alive.

Except for his eyes, something in the back of Raoul’s head murmured. Lifeless eyes. Haunted eyes. It was that undead state that he was frightened of.

Almost reflexively, he took another gulp of the burning liquid, wincing as it slid down his throat.

“I am her husband!” He cried, surprised at the rasp in his voice. Reaching up, he was startled to find that his cheeks were damp with tears. He had not even been aware he was crying.

Her husband…” He repeated, sobbing. “I will not let her cast me aside…”

Suddenly outraged, he bellowed, “I gave you everything—everything I possessed! And what did I get in return? A dead child! A miserable, cheating wife—Christine-” he broke off, his tears choking him, and collapsed against the desk. “Everything…Everything…”

The clicking sound of shoes against tile reached his ears, and he had just enough time to wipe his eyes and hide the empty bottles under his desk before the door opened.

“Raoul,” Christine said, smiling in greeting. He sucked in a breath. She seemed different than this morning—something about her. She stood up straighter, and there was a confidant glimmer in her eyes that had not been there before. In fact, he never recalled seeing it in all the years they had known each other.

“Hello, Christine.” He forced himself to return her smile, and ended up giving her a sort of twisted grimace. She tilted her head curiously, and he felt her gaze linger on his red, swollen eyes and her lids narrow as his voice came out slightly slurred. “Isn’t it rather late?” He gestured to the dark windows. She had been gone all day.

Christine bit her lip, stepping forward hesitantly. “I am sorry-” she paused nervously, “Dion introduced me to some of his friends…we, er, went to tea…and then dinner…” she finished lamely, knowing Raoul was well aware of how uncomfortable she was with aristocratic company.

“I see,” Raoul murmured, picking up her falsehood easily. “Did you have a nice time?”

“Er, yes, quite nice, thank you.”

A long, awkward silence settled over them, then,

“Christine—please,” Raoul said, his desperation obvious. “Please, just tell me where you were.” He stood, and turned his back to her, pressing a hand over his eyes. “Please tell me the truth—I will not be angry. That is all I want. The truth.”

He heard her gasp quietly, and a rustle of skirts as she came closer. “Forgive me,” she whispered, “I did not want to lie, Raoul, I did not mean to mislead you—I just could not bring myself to…I thought you would not like it.”

He went utterly rigid.

“…I was with Erik. It is not—”


“Oh, yes, of course,” she said hurriedly, “you would not know his name. I was with—I was with the Phantom.”

He felt as though his chest had been hollowed out, and his heart had plunged to the bottom. His throat tightened, and his shoulders slumped.

“As I said, it is not—”

He did not let her finish. “Leave.”

She was quiet for a split second. “What?” Her voice betrayed her shock.

“Leave me be. I do not wish to hear any further.”

“But, Raoul, please—”

“Just go, Christine.”


He whirled around, so she could see the tears brimming in his eyes. “Go!

He had never used that tone with her before. She fled from the room.

* * *

Christine lay in her bed, eyes wide and staring into the dark.

She truly had not meant to lie to him. She had been planning to tell him the straight truth, and then beg him to understand. But when she saw him, heard the iciness in his voice, she could not bring herself to it.

And then it had blown up in her face. His voice had terrified her, the anger in his eyes. The hurt. She had never seen it in Raoul—never, not when his brother had died, or when their child had died, or four years ago that night in the Phantom’s lair.

It was not only akin to; it was exactly what she had seen in Erik. But Raoul was more of a dull grey, where Erik was black.

Raoul may have experience with death, he may have witnessed it; but Erik had felt it within him. Raoul could yet be saved, not just by her, but by anyone who would take him to heart.

Erik had only one guardian, or he was lost forever. Christine knew this. But she was not quite sure what it meant for her and Raoul. Not just yet.

Finally, she let herself slip away into one of the first peaceful slumbers she had had in years. She dreamt of a boy swimming out to sea to fetch a scarf—her scarf. But it was not the young Raoul de Chagny this time; no, this time it was a little boy with a white mask covering the right side of his face.

This time it was Erik.

* * *

The next morning, Christine rose at dawn. She felt oddly refreshed, as she looked out the window at the pale sunrise. Today, she had something to live for.

She had planned to dress without disturbing her maid, but realizing she could not lace up her corset herself, gently woke the astonished Adèle. The young girl, her irritation at being awoke early forgotten in the silent celebration of her mistress’s good mood, helped Christine into a plain woolen dress and, at the Comtesse’s request, supplied her with a bottle of quinine from the servant’s quarters.

“If I am needed,” Christine whispered to Adèle as she left, “Dion Marchand knows how to find me.”

The maid had nodded, thrilled at the prospect of keeping the Comtesse’s secrets, and saw her off in the carriage.

Christine sagged with relief as soon as the horses started into a trot away from the Chagny estate. She had known Raoul had been drinking last night and would probably not awake ‘til much later, but she had still taken pains to avoid him. She was still frightened of the rage he had shown last night, and hoped he would have calmed down by the time she came home that evening.

What kind of wife are you, avoiding your husband?

“A horrible one,” she answered herself aloud, her mouth forming a thin line. She knew it, and had learned to accept it. That only left Raoul to deal with the truth, in his own manner…

The carriage shuddered to a stop in front of Rue Manor, and Christine thanked her footman, stepping lightly out of the buggy. She faced Erik’s home with a resolved countenance, and headed up to the door.

* * *

The cloths she had left on him had dried over the night, and he was again moving about violently. She rushed to him as soon as Beaumont opened the door, ordering for more water and clean cloths.

Erik, hold on, for the love of God, please…

She struggled to give him a dose of the quinine Adèle had given her, but he was too powerful, thrashing too much. She spilt a dose or two and he successfully whacked her across the head before Beaumont returned.

“The climax,” she gasped, her voice flooding with fear. “Hurry, Beaumont, I need your help-” She broke off as Erik subconsciously swung his arm at her again.

The butler stared in horror.


The breaking point of the fever brought Erik into one of his worst fits yet, all his muscles lashing out and striking everything around him. Beaumont went to fetch the cook, Travers, whom Christine had never met. He was a short, stocky man with a shock of orange hair, and together the three of them managed to keep Erik confined to his bed.

Christine could not remember when her body had work so hard, every bone in her body aching so badly she wanted to collapse, her heart pounding ten times its normal rate, every cell screaming with defiance.

Then, in his frenzy, Erik’s mask fell from his face.

Christine was the only one who did not recoil. Both men crossed themselves and stumbled backward, their eyes wide with fear.

Christine felt a lump form in her throat. Please…do not give up now… “Please, I need your help,” she said in a strangled voice. “Don’t fear him, just because of his face—please, I know you are above it, both of you.”

“Madame, he is—it is…”Beaumont stammered, at a loss for words.

“He is a man, Beaumont, much like yourself.” Her voice was now rock hard. “He has seen too much death, felt too much pain, all because of a physical blemish. Has he ever harmed you? Ever cheated you out of your payment?”

They both slowly shook their heads.

“It is only flesh, gentlemen, listen to me. It will not harm you, it is not work of the devil…It is only Erik—tell me, have either of you heard his music?”

“Aye,” Travers murmured, his eyes glazing over. “It was…indescribable…”

“That is all his emotions, all his has felt, in his music.” She rested a hand on the deformed side of Erik’s face, and he seemed to calm for a moment. “Did the music sound evil to you?”

“No,” Travers replied, moving closer. “No, it was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard…”

“Then, for the love of God, help me.”

Nervously at first, and then with growing confidence, they both came forward, and Beaumont knelt down and handed Christine Erik’s mask.

“Thank you,” she murmured, putting it back on him. She looked back at the men for a moment. “But, I must warn you not to mention that you have seen his face around him, or ever again—to anyone. If you do, I cannot guarantee your safety.”

They nodded, and, with Erik’s mask intact, they came to help her again.

With Beaumont barely managing to hold down his arms, Christine plugged Erik’s nose and swiftly delivered a dose of the medicine. “It is safer now,” she murmured, and Beaumont slowly eased away.

Erik let out a gentle breath, like the sigh of a sleeping child, and gradually relaxed.

Christine wilted against the side of the bed with an exhausted, airy laugh. She looked over at her two companions, Travers leaning against the wall with his hand on his forehead, and Beaumont keeled over clutching his gut. They were both covered in bruises and drained as she.

“I don’t believe we’ve met,” she managed, weakly holding out her hand to the cook. He pumped it up and down enthusiastically as he could in his state.

“An honour, Madame le Comtesse,” he said, his voice gravelly and deep, with a slight accent that Christine recognized to be Scottish. “Name’s Travers.”

“It is a pleasure,” she replied. She was about to say more when Erik’s hand swung out and narrowly missed her shoulder. The three dove back on top of him as it began again, new beads of sweat breaking out on his forehead.

Christine grabbed a cloth and frantically began wiping him down, trying to ignore his bare chest under her fingers, when she noticed a slight discolouration of the fabric as she pulled it away to reach for another.

She froze for a moment, staring at the stain in dread and disbelief. The red, coppery hue was unmistakable. “Where is it coming from?” She cried, and the two struggling men looked over at her in shock. She pawed at Erik wildly, fingers sliding down his chest searchingly, holding out his arm and examining it, lifting his head.

“The bloodwhere?” Then, as she lifted his arm again, she caught a glimpse of red on the back of his shoulder.

“Turn him over!” She commanded. They stared at her ludicrously. “Do it!”

She forced another dose of quinine into his mouth to reassure them. Then, they grabbed his side and tugged him around, slightly easier with the quinine to slow him down. On the back of his left shoulder, there was a hideous red gash.

Christine’s hand flew to her mouth and she held back a sob.

It stretched down from the top of his shoulder to an inch or so below his armpit, angry and freshly opened because of his movement.

“That’s infected, that is,” Beaumont said in a low, quivering voice. Christine made an effort to speak.

“Beaumont—either of you, do you have…anything, anything that could treat an infected wound? Like this?” She looked at the either of them desperately. “Did he ever get any basic medical supplies at all?”

“No, he didn’t,” Travers replied, “but I might have something—I use it when I cut myself in the kitchen, though, so it might not-”

“It’ll do,” Christine interrupted him hurriedly. “Go, fetch it!”

He left and returned with a green salve in an instant, placing it in Christine’s shaking hands. She used a cloth to clean off the wound, and then gently rubbed the ointment into it. Erik twitched madly, but Beaumont and Travers managed to hold him.

“What can we use for bandages?” She asked them.

Beaumont jumped up, a crazed grin on his face, and raced from the room. He came back with a roll of gauze, and handed it proudly to Christine. “One of the horses cut ‘imself, weeks ago.” She smiled gratefully and began to wind the bandages around Erik’s shoulder.

When she was finished, they turned him back over to find he had fallen into a comatose, sleeplike state.

“It is over,” Christine said shakily, and the two men stepped back, sighing in unison. “He will either wake up, or…” She could not finish the sentence. And by the looks on the two men’s faces, she did not need to.

“I will stay with him,” she continued firmly. “You have no idea how grateful I am for your assistance. Merci beaucoup, with all my heart.” She gave them a warm, though fatigued smile. They had formed a sort of bond, the three of them, in taking care of Erik. The men returned the smile, and bowed out.

Alone with her patient at last, Christine wrung out a few cloths and lay them across Erik’s chest. His breathing had slowed considerably, but his skin was still burning, despite her efforts. She tenderly stroked his face with one of the cloths, and some of the lines of anguish receded.

“Tormented beauty, lost in shadow,

Rise from the ashes, outcast…

My Angel of Music, so near to heaven,

Return to me now, at last…”

* * *

A light; it was faint, flickering…but a light nonetheless. Erik reached for it, his arms aching, a wildfire searing through his veins, blinding him. The black was overwhelming, inescapable. It was worse than it had ever been, for it was not his black. This was cold, unforgiving demise, not the divine splendor that was his making.

He was not welcomed; he was forced into its fiery depths, drowning in the eternal midnight. Every breath coated his throat with it, every movement sucking him deeper into it.

And he realized, however hateful and obscure his life was, he did not want to leave it. He could not give in to death. He battled through it, resisting with every bit of strength he had left against the clawing fingers of the darkness. But it had seemed so hopeless, as he was dragged downwards…and he was so horribly exhausted from all his fighting…

But something had broken through—a white, glowing melody. It was at first tiny as a star, glimmering in the distance. Then it grew, reaching down into the gloom and pulling him free. It spread over everything, consuming the demons around him, bursting inside of him.

At first, he thought he had reached heaven; then, he realized it was something much sweeter. It was life.

* * *

Christine had drifted into an uneasy sleep, after covering Erik in fresh towels. She was haphazardly resting against the bedpost, her shoulders and arms stretched across the mattress, and her legs curled underneath her on the floor.

She awoke with a pained cry as Erik grabbed onto her hand and squeezed it tightly. His face was contorted in some inner struggle, and she was afraid if he put any more pressure on her fingers they would break. But she dare not pry them loose. He was holding on for dear life.

“Erik,” she whispered. “Erik, listen to my voice…

Angel of Music, I denied you,

Turning from true beauty…

Angel of Music, my protector,

Come to me, strange Angel…”

His hand went flaccid in hers, and his chest rose in a slow breath. His skin was cool; he would live.

Christine let out a strangled sob in relief and exhaustion. With aching limbs she pushed herself to her feet, her hand throbbing, and stumbled over to the armchair in front of the fireplace. Wholly spent, she sprawled across it and almost instantly fell into a deep, dreamless slumber.

* * *

When his eyes eased open, Erik at first could not imagine where he was. The canopy bed was not his coffin; the crimson walls were not his lair. The only familiar thing was the dim candlelight, coming from a single candelabrum in the corner.

With a jolt, he recalled his home, his life in Nice. The Opera house is in the past, he reminded himself, staring up at the ceiling and taking deep breaths. You are Erik de la Rue.

He propped himself up on his elbows, only to have a searing pain explode from his shoulder down his left arm. Gasping, he collapsed back onto the pillow and tried to recall the past several days.

He had gone to Dion’s celebration…Christine was there…

Erik gritted his teeth.

He had come home…His music—He tried to glance over at the fireplace—He had burnt it…then…what had happened then? He could not remember past that. He closed his eyes, trying to concentrate.

There was a voice, singing to him—and struggling, fighting. People were holding him down. And everything was burning; he was on fire…

Erik glanced down at himself, to find he was shirtless, and several damp cloths were crumpled under his reclining form. His left shoulder was bandaged heavily. Next to the bed, more cloths, and a bucket of water—

A bottle of quinine rested on the bedside table, half empty.


He cursed quietly, and, putting all his weight on his right shoulder, brought himself up to lean against the headboard. Gently pulling at the bandages of his left shoulder, he grimaced as he saw the enflamed flesh wound. An odd green coloured cream had been spread over it, and Erik wondered who could have possibly cared for him—surely not his servants…a doctor, perhaps?

His mask was still in place, he observed with relief. If it had been a doctor, they did not remove it…

He stiffened as he heard a soft mumbling, and something stirred in the corner of his eye. He turned.

Spread across the fireside chair was a mass of dark curls and dainty limbs, donned in a simple wool dress.

That voice—


Erik felt a hot rage boiling up inside of him. How dare she invade his home—his privacy! Had she not done enough damage that she felt the need to break into his last wall against her, his one sanctuary? Now, he would always be reminded of her when he sat in that chair, stood before that fire. Christ, this whole room now positively reeked of her. How she must have reveled in caring for him in his weakened state, thinking she could intrude back into his life by playing nurse. Now she would think he was indebted to her—to her! That foolish, naïve, weak chit of a girl!

Careful to lean on his right side only, he slid his feet over the side of the bed and sat up. His head and shoulder pounded in protest, but he ignored the pain and staggered over to the dresser. Resting against it, he pulled on a robe and tied the belt tightly. Then, straightening himself, he went slowly over to where Christine slept in his chair.

He could not prepare himself for the sight, and reeled as all his breath left him.

Her thick tresses bunched under her head and then tumbled over the side of the chair, framing her pale face. Her countenance was the picture of serenity, pink lips curled into a faint smile, brow smoothed over. Her cheeks had regained some of their blush that had been missing when he had seen her at the gala.

Her legs were stretched over the arm of the chair, side by side, with one stocking-covered foot peaking out slightly under the skirt. Her shoes, he saw, were on the ground beneath them, fallen off in her sleep. She had rested one hand across her middle, the other just below her neck.

Erik could have wept at her beauty.

Then, her eyes fluttered open, and she stared at him. He saw shock, worry, and then, as she realized her position, embarrassment, flicker across their glassy surface.

“Hello, Christine,” Erik said, his voice hoarse after not speaking for several days.

“Oh-” she muttered, quickly sitting up properly and then scrambling to stand. “Forgive me, I did not think you would—I was just very tired, and-” she spoke rapidly, stumbling over her words. Brushing her dress off self-consciously, she turned to face him. Her voice died in her throat at the pure revulsion and fury in his eyes.

“I take it you cared for me,” Erik said icily.

“I—I did,” Christine replied, failing to hide the quiver in her voice.

“You are thanked.” He looked away and stepped towards the window, drawing back the curtains, eyes widening a bit to see that it was dusk. She watched him in mute fascination. “Now, you may go,” he finished over his shoulder.

“Go?” Christine repeated in astonishment.

“Yes, leave me.” His tone was hard, and Christine could sense the anger lurking just beneath it.

But he was not the first man to say those words to her these past few days. And this time, she could not take it.

“That’s all you’re going to say?” She continued, tears at the unfairness of it all threatening to spill over her eyes. “After days of sitting by your side and—and caring for you, you’re just going to dismiss me? Like a maid?

Erik growled, low in his throat. “What would you have me say, Madame?” He whirled around. “I should throw you out of my house this instant, for your idiocy! Do you think I took it well, spending years of my life raising you, teaching you, pouring my heart and soul into your, to have you turn me away?”

She opened and closed her mouth, clutching the back of the chair for support.

“No, Christine—you deserve nothing. Now go.” He turned his back to her, watching as the sun sank beneath the waves. There were several minutes of silence, and Erik was startled when he heard her voice behind him.

“Perhaps,” she said forlornly, “perhaps you are right, Erik.”

He flinched as she spoke his name.

“But, please, give me the chance to-”

To do what, Christine?” He thundered, and she recoiled instantly as he stepped towards her. “To squirm your way back into me, like the serpent that you are? To make me fall madly in love with you all over again, then change your mind and run back to Paris with your precious Comte? I think not, Madame!

“Why can you not choose one man, and stay with him? Was being Comtesse de Chagny not enough for you? Does your husband know about this little visit, Christine? Must you burden both of us with your little games?”

“I was frightened!” She shouted back, surprising Erik at the force of her voice. “I was only sixteen, Erik, and you were threatening to kill him! What did you expect me to do, run into your arms for comfort? On all that is good in this world, do not believe I wanted to inflict such pain upon you—I know, Erik, I know I betrayed you—and do you think I have not paid for it? I pay for it every night, when your face haunts me-” She suddenly reached forward and pulled the mask from his face.

“And not that! Not that, Erik! It never mattered to me, that one side of your face may not have been as perfect as the other—it was the look in your eyes,” she stumbled over a cloth on the floor, and collapsed down onto the bed. Putting her head in her hands, she began to weep. “The look in your eyes when I left you with that ring…”

Erik had frozen. Even when she pulled the mask from his face, he could not seem to move. His limbs were stuck in place as he watched Christine scream at him, misery and anger he did not know she possessed leaking into her voice. His heart wrenched as she began to cry, her form shaking in horrible sobs.

“Christine,” he finally managed, his throat dry.

“No!” She cut him off. “No, you are right.” She suddenly got to her feet, rubbing her eyes. “I should leave. I have healed you as best I could, Erik.” She would not look at him, her eyes staying glued to the floor. “Goodbye.”

And without another word, she fled from another room, and another man.

Erik cried out for her, but it was too late—she had gone.


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Dream Descends

Part 5 of 16

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