Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Dream Descends

Part 8 of 16

<< Previous     Home     Next >>

“You’re humming!”

“An incredibly astute observation.” Erik gave Christine what she could’ve sworn was a mocking grin as he led her up the stone steps in front of his house.

She rolled her eyes, but her tone was friendly when she said, “It’s just that I haven’t heard someone humming in a very long time.”

Erik raised an eyebrow questioningly.

“Music had no part in my life, after I left the Opera.” She frowned thoughtfully. “I suppose…Raoul and I just found it had too many painful memories attached to it.”

“I noticed that you sounded out of practice at Dion’s birthday celebration.”

She gave him a slightly offended look. “Is that all you think about?”

“No,” was his simply response, as he gazed at her meaningfully. She blushed. “You have been without a teacher for a long time, Christine. It would be remarkable if you maintained your sound.”

“Then perhaps you should teach me again what I have forgotten.”

His eyes sparked in sudden interest, and, taking hold of her hand, he opened the front door. Beaumont tumbled forward with a cry, sputtering that he had most certainly not been eavesdropping. Erik gave him a perturbed look and dismissed the incident with a wave of his hand, pulling Christine inside and through the entrance hall.

“Erik, where are we-” She stammered, bunching her skirts up in a fist as she tried to keep up with him.

“Why, to teach you what you have forgotten,” he exclaimed as though it was the most obvious thing in the world, tugging her along.

Now?” She asked breathlessly.

“Did you have a certain time in mind?”

“Well—no, but…” She trailed off as he led her into the parlor, letting go of her hand and stepping behind the piano.

“It is still in tune, from what I heard earlier,” he said, and she knew he had listened when she had played it that morning. He slid gracefully onto the bench and lifted up the case, running his fingers down the keys. He played a few scales at first, making even the simplest exercise beautiful with his expertise.

Christine lingered in the doorframe, smiling faintly as Erik’s soothing, skillful playing washed over her. She watched in fascination as he began to play a proper song, a striking melody she did not recognize. It reminded her vividly of a sunrise, the glowing sliver of the sun encompassing nearby clouds in red fire as it appeared on the horizon. Erik closed his eyes, losing himself in his music, and they stayed like that for several minutes; Christine transfixed by Erik’s composition and the man himself in another world entirely.

When he opened his eyes again, he gave her a startled look, as though he had forgotten she was there.

“That was very lovely,” she murmured. “I do not recognize it.”

“It is one of my own pieces,” Erik replied stoically.

“I would love to hear the rest of it.”

“Some other time, perhaps.” He motioned for her to come forward, and she took a few cautious steps.

“I feel very foolish,” she said suddenly, grimacing.


“Well…What if—what if the servants hear me?”

Erik gave her an utterly bewildered look, then, to Christine’s surprise, chuckled—a rich, deep laugh at the back of his throat. “My dear, you are hardly so out of practice that you should be embarrassed to sing.” She only looked more abashed, and he added, “Besides, I doubt any of the servants here could tell if you made a mistake.”

“I suppose you’re right,” she finally said, laughing nervously. Removing her shawl, she came to stand beside the piano, resting a hand on its sleek surface.

“I think we shall start with something familiar; perhaps an old favourite?” He gave a lengthy introduction on the piano, and Christine smiled as she identified the melody.

“Ah! Reste, reste encore, en mes bras enlacés! Reste encore! Reste encore! Un jour il sera doux à notre amour fidèle, de se resouvenir de ses tourments passes.”

Ah! Stay, stay awhile in my arms intertwined! Stay awhile! Stay awhile! One day it will be sweet for our true love, to remember again our past torments.

It was Christine’s favourite scene from Roméo et Juliette, an opera Erik had taught her when she was but fourteen. She had been entranced by the tragic love story, but her own past made it now seem bittersweet. Nevertheless, she graced Erik with a remembering smile and sang Juliette’s part.

“Il faut partir, hélas! Il faut quitter ses bras où je te presse et t'arracher à cette ardente ivresse!”

You must go, alas; you must leave these arms where I press you and wrench free from this ardent ecstasy!

Then, together,

Il faut partir, hélas! Il faut quitter ces bras-

“Où je te presse-”

“Elle me presse-”

“Et t'arracher-”


À cette ardente ivresse! Ah! Que le sort qui de toi me sépare plus que la mort est cruel et barbare! Il faut partir, hélas! Il faut quitter ses bras où je te presse et t'arracher à cette ardente ivresse! C'en est fait de cette ardente ivresse!

You must go, alas; you must leave these arms-

Where I press you-

She presses me-

And wrench free from this ardent ecstasy! Ah, how fate, which separates me from you, is more cruel and barbaric than death! You must go, alas; you must leave these arms where I press you and wrench free from this ardent ecstasy! It’s all over with this ardent ecstasy!

Christine had balled her hand tightly into a fist sometime during the course of the song, the depth of the libretto cutting straight to her heart. When Erik stopped playing, she shuddered and slowly unclenched her fingers, the knuckles white from the pressure. She looked over at her companion, who watched her with a critical eye.

There was a short silence, then,

“Your breathing is horrible.”

Christine glared daggers at him. He shrugged. “And you’re off by two beats in the third verse. Start again.”

So went the rest of the afternoon.

* * *

Dion had been fully prepared to hate the Comte when he next laid eyes on him. Any man who had the effrontery to upset a woman so easy to adore as Christine, must be an idiotic thug. But the sorry sight that met Dion’s eyes when the man was brought into the parlor vanquished any foul thoughts he might have for Raoul de Chagny.

His skin was a pasty white, and the dark hollows under his eyes betrayed his lack of sleep. They were swollen, making the Dion assume that the man had been crying. He sat down stiffly on the settee in front of the coffee table, while Dion sat in an armchair to the man’s left.

“There is no easy way to put this, Monsieur,” the Comte began, his voice raspy. He brushed his hair away from his face and licked his dry lips. “Am I correct in assuming that you know the whereabouts of my wife?”

“I do, Monsieur le Comte,” Dion replied guardedly. “Though I cannot tell you them, for her privacy’s sake.”

The Comte turned to him with a wide-eyed stare, his face contorted with grief. “In all due respect, Monsieur, it is absolutely necessary that I know her location immediately—for her safety.”

“What do you mean?”

The Comte’s hand shook as he brought one up to rub the bridge of his nose. “My vacation to Nice was only partly for my wife’s health—the Paris Commune had been in contact with me.”

Dion abruptly understood the man’s astonishingly bad health, the horrible pallor of his skin…the disturbed look in his eyes. The Paris Commune, from what Dion had heard, was a group of rebels that had started to terrorize France’s capital just barely two months earlier, members of its vicious league hunting down the aristocracy and demanding payment if the families wanted to secure their well-being. If you did not pay up, they would take you and kill you. The Parisian rivers were running red with Noble blood, and thus far the rest of France had done nothing.

And now they had stretched one greedy hand down into Nice, all for a taste of the Chagny wealth.

“They have found me again.”

“How?” Dion murmured, fear leaking into his voice. “How could they possibly know…?”

“It was in no way a secret that my wife and I were leaving for a ‘holiday’. It would have been child’s play to them, finding out where I was. Or perhaps I have a spy in my household, I cannot say, Monsieur—but they have threatened me with her life.” He let out a strangled sob and covered his eyes with both his hands, resting his elbows on his knees. “I have to find her, Monsieur—I have to save her.”

His voice was filled with such sorrowful sincerity that Dion felt his heart breaking for this man, who so obviously still loved his wife, but knew that it could now never be.

“I will take you to her,” Dion told the man, praying that he was making the right decision. The Comte looked up suddenly, fresh hope in his eyes. “But what do you plan to tell her?”

“I…” His brow furrowed in thought. “I will send her away. To England, or Sweden, somewhere she is familiar with, where they wouldn’t look for her. I need to get her out of France.”

“So far north? Would it not be easier to send her to Italy? Traveling to both England and Sweden leads her straight up to Paris first.”

“She can travel by sea, from the Bay of Biscay. Or take a train up to Brest and launch from there. Though it would take more time, it would not be hard to avoid Paris and still reach a country she is familiar with. She was born in Sweden, and we have gone on holiday to England twice before.”

Dion nodded thoughtfully, trying to wall up his mind from any emotions, as the Comte seemed to be doing as he planned the Comtesse’s trip aloud. “She cannot go alone.”

Raoul sighed despairingly. “And I could not go with her either, for, one, I must stay and protect my family’s legacy, and two, I doubt she would have me.” He gave Dion a feeble smile. “I made such an idiot of myself.”

“You…are prepared for a divorce, then?” Dion asked carefully, afraid that he might trigger the man’s misery, or anger, or both.

Raoul went even whiter, but his voice was steady enough when he said, “Divorce is too obvious—she will disappear, and then if—no, when, France takes action and this all settles, we will say she fell victim to them.”

Dion hesitated. “Don’t you think that’s a little unfair to Christine? She’d never be able to use her real name again, never show her face in Paris…”

“She would, after a time—though I doubt she would want to return anyways,” Raoul replied. “And it is the easiest way for us to separate without causing a scandal.”

“It just seems so—drastic.”

“If there was another way, believe me,” his voice shook, “I would use it. But Christine de Chagny will be no more.”

“So be it.” Dion straightened up. “Did you have a guide for her in mind?”

Dion found he had come to greatly respect the Comte de Chagny all in one visit, and his respect only grew when the man bravely raised his chin and said, “I believe he goes by the name Erik?”

* * *

Christine self-consciously ran her hand down the bodice of her gown, smoothing the rich blue satin. She put a pair of small diamond studs in ears, after finding them in a velvet box in one of the vanity’s drawers. She appreciated the commodity but resolved to ask Erik why he had stocked the room with such extensive feminine accoutrements.

Now that Christine was his…mistress, of sorts, she felt she had the right to ask. Of course, knowing Erik he would probably deny everything, become extremely moody and then storm off to his room. Perhaps she would leave such questions for another night.

She pulled the ribbon from her hair and let her brown tresses drape over her shoulders, biting her lips to bring colour into them. A glint of gold from her finger distracted her, and she stopped her grooming.

She stared at Raoul’s wedding ring, torn. She had refused to let herself sit down and think about the colossal choice she was making by ending their marriage, knowing she would end up moping around the house for days. Now, she felt tears prick her eyes as she looked at her only token to remember him by, and was suddenly ashamed of herself. He had probably sunken into a horrible depression, whereas she had paraded around Erik’s house, enjoying his embrace and returning his kisses—no, he returning her kisses! She was the seducer now, and Erik the seduced, while Raoul rotted in his misery!

The hand she had laid over the ring, preparing to pull it off, moved away.

No, she thought, sucking in a deep breath. Not yet. She would have to explain to Erik that she couldn’t…see him as a lover again, until she was properly divorced and had truly put Raoul behind her. Lord, Erik would hate her for teasing him one minute, and refusing him the next, just as she had been confused by his mixed responses to her.

But above all things, she had to be honest. So, now, she would go have a pleasant, innocent dinner with Erik, then wish him a cheerful, platonic goodnight and retire. And he would have to understand—she prayed he would understand.

She walked lightly down the hall, the sound of her footsteps echoing around her in the emptiness. Erik must find it so lonely, living by himself in such an odd house. Then she thought back to the issue of female companionship and her momentary pang of pity was forgotten.

As she approached the foyer, she heard hushed voices, and immediately tensed. Erik had visitors? She recognized his unmistakable baritone dominant in the conversation, but the other voices were so quiet she could barely make them out.

She came to the end of the corridor at last, stepping cautiously out of the cover of shadow and into the candlelight. Erik stood at the door in full evening dress, and she assumed he had just prepared for their dinner, and come downstairs to find the visitors. There were two men; the first, she was delighted to see, was Dion Marchand. She stepped forward to greet him, but then caught sight of the other guest.


His face was haggard, his lips pursed in displeasure as Erik spoke, and Christine could see the blatant dislike in his eyes. His hands were twitching at his sides. He looked but a shell of the man she had known four years before; the man she had fallen in love with.

Your love is poison.

Then, his eyes averted from Erik’s face, and caught sight of her over the man’s shoulder. His mouth dropped, and he froze. She felt her lungs contract as the other two men noticed Raoul’s staring, and also transferred their gazes to her petite form.

Dion looked relieved, and Erik gave her a look of silent apology. “Christine, these men have something important they must discuss with us.”

Christine managed to nod. “Our dinner…?” She asked, feeling like an idiot immediately afterwards. Of course there would be no dinner.

“It will have to be postponed.” He sighed, and with a terse gesture with his hand, he led the three into his study. Christine could feel Raoul’s gaze still concentrated on her as she moved over to speak to Dion.

“It is good to see you well, Christine,” the man said, with a warm smile. “I trust Erik has taken good care of you.”

“Excellent care,” she murmured. “What is going on?”

Dion’s expression immediately turned grave. “It is best you are seated to hear this.”

Christine’s eyes widened, and she suddenly felt a spurge of irritation. Whatever it was Dion and Raoul had come to tell them, it was almost certain that it would ruin the ostensible oasis that had been beginning to form around her and Erik. She did not want to abandon it now, when things were going so well.

She chose a seat next to Erik on the settee, while Raoul and Dion sat in chairs on either side of them. Christine carefully avoided looking at Raoul, but when he spoke, she had no choice. She was too apprehensively curious.

“I have been recently visited by the Paris Commune,” her husband said weakly, and Christine felt as though someone had dumped a bucket of freezing cold water over her head. Raoul had tried to shelter her from the incoming news when they had still been in the capital, but between the servants and her few outings, she had heard enough about this Commune to know exactly why Raoul and Dion had come.

Erik was stiff as a board beside her, his shrewd eyes locked on Raoul.

“They are plotting to kidnap-” he faltered, “-you, Christine. They will put a ransom on your head, to get our money. But even if I pay, the Commune is not known for its mercy. We three,” he motioned to the other two men, “Agree that they would probably kill you.”

God in heaven. Christine instinctively reached out and grabbed Erik’s hand tightly, her breath quickening. The Commune was after her? They had come all the way to Nice? She knew the Chagnys had a vast legacy, but did it really mean that much to these people that they would travel to the other end of the country to obtain it? Why not bother Baron Marchand, who was undoubtedly richer? Though, she would not want Dion’s father in danger either. She would not wish death at the hands of these brutes on anyone.

Erik shot her an unreadable glance as she held onto him, and he squeezed her palm reassuringly.

“You have to flee France, Christine,” Dion said. “We were thinking England, or Sweden—your birthplace.”

“Flee France?” Christine repeatedly blankly. “Could I ever come back?”

“If the Commune is destroyed, yes—and if that does not happen, it would probably be substantially safer after your…” Dion paused awkwardly, “After you have been disappeared for a while—when it is common knowledge.”

“Am I to go alone?”

“I would go with you,” Erik said beside her, his voice a small source of comfort. “If you would have me.”

But instead of looking at him, she found my eyes drawn to Raoul. Regret and defeated acceptance played across his countenance as he stared straight back.

“I wish to be alone with my husband, for a moment,” she said quietly, releasing Erik’s hand. Both he and Dion got to their feet slowly, and it seemed to Christine that they took forever to leave the room and close the door behind them.

Then, she and Raoul sat in a painful silence, simply looking at each other.

“I’m so sorry, Christine,” Raoul finally said, his voice choked.

She gave him a sad smile. “So am I.”

“There’s no way, when you return…or if, when this is all over, I came to you…There’s not any chance that we…”

She let out a little sob, looking down at her ring. “We couldn’t, Raoul. It would be the end of us.”

“I thought you would say that.” He sighed. “You realize, for this to work, you could never use your own name again—it would be as though you were dead.”

“It’s best that way,” she replied, trying to put on a brave face in front of him. Then, they both stood.

“I love you, Christine,” Raoul said simply, truthfully.

She wept openly, embracing him. “Goodbye,” she whispered hoarsely. He held her so tightly she almost couldn’t breathe, then suddenly released her and headed for the door.

She watched him helplessly, and then started. “Wait!”

He turned, bewildered.

Tugging the ring from her finger, she reached across the couch and offered it to him. “Take it.”

He eyed the piece of jewelry reluctantly. “I couldn’t.”

“Take it,” Christine repeated. “Give it to someone more deserving.”

“There could be no one more deserving than you, Christine,” he said softly, but he took the ring, and stepped out.

Christine sat back down, wrapping her arms around herself and pressing her knees together, as though she was afraid to touch anything. The hand she had taken the ring from felt bizarrely light, and she gazed at the faint sphere of white skin that had been underneath the wedding band.

You must go, alas; you must leave these arms…

The lines from Roméo et Juliette surfaced in her mind, and she bit back the tears that threatened to overwhelm her yet again, drawing blood from her bottom lip. She felt so out of place, suddenly, in Erik’s luxurious study. Where did she belong now, that she was to leave France? Who was she? Not Christine Daaé, and no longer Christine de Chagny…For a moment she entertained the name Christine de la Rue, but she immediately banished it.

Who are you, to claim any man’s name?

She heard the door open again behind her, and Erik came to sit next to her.

“When do we leave?” She asked, without looking at him. She kept her eyes fixed on the hearth.

“As soon as possible—tomorrow, if arrangements can be made quickly enough.” His tone was gentle, like he was handling a delicate porcelain doll, instead of speaking to a grown woman. “Christine-”

“Goodnight, Erik,” she interrupted him. He would make her talk about it—she didn’t want to talk to anyone.

* * *

As soon as Christine shut the door behind her, Erik’s head sunk into his hands and he groaned. She loved the boy—lord, she had never stopped. Erik had been lured back into her arms with sweet smiles and sweeter kisses, and now it turned out that she had not even—

He sprung to his feet, kicking the leg of the settee and cursing loudly. He had been such a fool to believe, to even dare to entertain the idea that she might care for him, that she might be trustworthy once more. No, he disgusted her; she could not even look at him any more. She had realized too late that the Comte was more precious to her than she had thought. Who knew what had transpired between them after Erik and Dion left?

Erik admired the Comte, he grudgingly admitted, for having the strength to give Christine up to his one rival, even if it was for her safety. Erik could not honestly say that he was sure he could hand Christine over to Raoul to save her life—he had done it once, but now that she had given him a taste of something more than just her voice…He could not bear to give her up.

But, how can you give up what was never truly yours?

No, her heart had not belonged to him at all. He had been deceived by his pathetically hopeful imagination; thought the affection in her eyes when they were together was for him. She had only wanted protection, and now he could not even expel her from his house—he had made a promise to Dion to watch over her when she traveled—

And after she traveled?

Then, Christine, your use for me will have expired. He forced back his tears, letting only the jealousy and anger dominate him. Then, I will leave you for good.

* * *

She could not say how late it was when she heard the footsteps outside her door. Christine’s head snapped up, her eyes widening fearfully, sure for a moment that the Commune had come to take her away. Raoul, Dion—they had all been too late, she would be whisked back to Paris, one of the many unidentified corpses that would be discovered after the Commune’s reign was over, her body a mere statistic as they counted up the death toll.

Then, the person behind her door sighed. It was barely audible through the thick barrier, but it floated to Christine’s ears, more beautiful than an Angel’s serenade. No kidnapper would stand outside her room moaning despairingly; they would barge in, dagger drawn—

It was Erik only a few feet away. There was silence for a moment as he paused, most likely listening to see if she was asleep.

She held her breath as the footsteps gradually retreated, then slumped onto the mattress. She knelt at her bedside, her eyes swollen after her prayers had transformed into lamentation. She had cried, at last, for the husband she had pushed to the back of her mind. Her tears came with no end as she recalled her childhood friend and sole protector of four years, four years that, she realized with horror, started to fade from her mind like a dream would when she awoke in the mornings.

There would be no more reminders of her life before the Opera now, save the small portrait of her father that was her most treasured possession. A part of her had been lost tonight, a loss so palpable she had vomited out her window upon reaching her room. She had reached her crisis point at twenty, and was now alone in enduring the trials to defeat it.

Not alone, a voice at the back of her head said. You have Erik.

She had not missed the hurt look he gave her when she walked out on him earlier. No, she could not depend on him any longer. This was her own personal test, and she had to overcome it herself. She could not unload all her trouble on his shoulders. She would need his protection, that was undeniable, but more than that, much more, she needed his love.

She cherished Raoul, deeply, for what he represented.

She loved Erik, more than she herself could comprehend, for he was her other half. If he would only stand with her as she faced things, she knew she would survive.

If he would only stand with her.

* * *


“Christine,” said man replied, tight lipped. He barely glanced at her before turning his attention back to his desk.

Christine swallowed, suddenly nervous. She had awoken late again, and, after Anisette had dressed her in her woolen gown, immediately gone in search of Erik. It had taken her a little while to find him, as he had not been in his studio like the day before, and she had been a little intimidated at the thought of intruding on him while he was working. He did not seem too pleased either.

“Good morning,” she resorted to tradition, at a loss for words. He did not look up, or respond. “I wondered what our plans might be, for today,” she said, a little flustered, hoping she did not sound stupid. How would she phrase what her question really was? So, are we fleeing the country this afternoon, Erik?

“Rather obvious, one would assume,” he replied curtly. “I have purchased train tickets for us. We must be at the station by two o’clock, so I suggest you pack your belongings.”

“How far are we traveling?”

“The trip to Brest will take about eight hours, including stops. We will spend the night in Brest, then board a ship for England.”

He was so distant, his voice so cold that Christine shivered. Dread filled her, and she said in desperation, “Erik, I’m sorry for leaving so abruptly last night, but even you must understand that I was upset.”

“I thought you had said we were past apologizing to one another.” He still did not look up as he spoke, and his tone did not change.

“Well, if you’re going to be difficult,” she snapped, irritated by his immature behaviour. “I only thought it would be easier to travel together if we managed to get along.”

“Go pack your things, Christine,” he told her, suddenly sounding tired.

“Not until you look at me.”

He did so, raising an eyebrow. His face was the very image of collected superiority, as though he was in the presence of a very slow, very annoying child. The widespread of the ice in his eyes startled her.

“This isn’t just about last night,” she murmured.

“What isn’t?” He asked nonchalantly.

“Don’t even try, Erik,” she growled. “Don’t treat me like—like some underling!”

“You’re overreacting, Christine.” His voice was now edged with anger, but even that was a victory for Christine. Anger was as good an emotion as any.

I’m overreacting? Erik, you don’t even have a reason to be so—uncouth!”

“Don’t I?” He gave her one of his intense stares, and her mind reeled. Hurt and fury both hung in the air as he spoke.

“Lord, I’ll never understand you!” She cried, turning on her heel and leaving the room. Let him sulk about whatever was bothering him this time; quite frankly, she had her own problems to worry about.


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Dream Descends

Part 8 of 16

<< Previous     Home     Next >>