Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Dream Descends

Part 9 of 16

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Christine’s tiny suitcase buckled as she shoved her dresses into its confines, wrenching them from the closet with unnecessary force. The hangers still quivered long after she had rid them of their charges.

Anisette entered the room and paused in the doorway, gaping at the flurry of fabric and brown curls that moved from one end of the room to the other. Christine muttered to herself as she stormed about the room, Anisette catching snatches of her infuriated ramblings when she passed the door.

“If he thinks he can…Certainly in for…I will not be…Honestly, of all the pigheaded…”

“Um, Madame?”

“How dare—”


Christine turned, startled. “Oh—Anisette, hello, I was just…” She looked ruefully at her chaotic suitcase. “…Packing.”

“Monsieur de la Rue said you might need assistance—”

Christine’s eyes narrowed. “Monsieur de la Rue said so, did he?” She purposefully pulled out her crumpled dresses and began folding them. “Well, you may tell Monsieur de la Rue that I am quite capable of doing it myself.”

Anisette looked skeptically at the suitcase, and Christine flushed.

“He also told me to give you this,” she reached out of Christine’s sight for a moment, and brought in substantially larger valise made of brown leather. “He said an article bearing the Chagny crest might not be appropriate for the trip.”

Embarrassed by her behaviour, Christine meekly accepted the article, heaving it next to her old suitcase, which she pushed to the side. Anisette observed her anxiously for a moment, then said, “You’re sure, Madame, that you don’t need…”

“I’m fine,” Christine replied, brushing Anisette off with a wave and feeble smile. The maid left the room with a quick glance over her shoulder, and Christine sagged onto the bed.

Erik was infuriatingly unpredictable.

She ran a hand across the smooth leather of her new case, then unbuckled it and lifted the top.

It was already neatly packed, filled with brand-new, beautifully crafted gowns that appeared to be her size. There was also a lacy negligee and nightgown, two pairs of shoes, a little bag of cosmetics, and a velvet jewelry box. Christine gasped in astonishment and delight, awestruck at the exquisiteness of the dresses. Careful not to obstruct the orderly packing, she lifted each gown just enough so that she could get a peek of the one under it. There were seven of them in all, a collection of rich purples, blues, and forest greens, a lighter one of pale rose pink for warmer weather, two of plain wool resembling the one she was wearing, and, at the very bottom, a shocking design of brilliant crimson that Christine quickly covered back up in her modesty.

She backed up and stared at the ensemble for a moment, unsure of what to think. She knew Erik must have purchased these, remembering her size at the Opera house. And, even further, they were just the kind of things she might have chosen out herself, save the dreaded red gown. But why did he spoil her so? Had he gone out and bought them the moment she took up board at his house? Or had he planned to give them to her four years before, if she had stayed with him?

And just now, he had been appallingly rude; did he think showering her with gifts would bring her to forgive him? It takes more than that to win my approval, Erik, she thought with considerable offense, though secretly she knew she was touched that he had spent the time choosing the garments out for her. And, they were extremely impressive. She had not dared to even glimpse inside the jewelry box.

She looked down at her own over-worn, stained dress. She certainly needed a change of clothes. And, after all, the gowns would only fit her; it wasn’t as though she could return them.

Moving quickly, she slipped out of her old gown and put on one of the new wool ones, reveling in the cleanliness. The sleeves went down to her elbows, and, along with the collar and skirts, were hemmed in a loopy pattern of green thread.

She rolled up her old dress and put it in her old suitcase, then went around the room collecting her few belongings. She put the music box and the picture of her father on top of everything, then carefully closed and re-buckled Erik’s gift.

Dion stood in the foyer when she emerged from the hall, half carrying half dragging her luggage. He rushed to help her with an easy smile, which she returned, muttering breathless thanks.

“You didn’t expect me to let you two leave without saying goodbye?” He inquired cheerfully when she expressed her surprise at seeing him, but there was a certain strain in his voice. Christine abruptly realized there was very little chance she would ever see Dion again, and was deeply saddened by this thought. There was so much she owed him, and he was still so young; she would have loved to see him become an adult.

He helped Christine into what she assumed was one of Erik’s traveling cloaks, then took her arm and led her outside, where said man was waiting with a hansom. As Dion shook his hand firmly, Christine reflected that perhaps Dion was already an adult.

She trotted down the steps and came to stand next to the two men, trying discreetly to catch Erik’s eye. His gaze did not avert from his house, however.

She had not thought that perhaps Erik did not want to leave the home he had built for himself in Nice, and the fond, pained expression on his face almost startled her. Christine smacked herself inwardly. Erik’s life did not revolve around her any more. He is sacrificing everything to save you—for Christ’s sake, Christine, try to think of someone other than yourself once in while.

She turned back as well, to see the servants crowded at the door; Beaumont, dabbing his eyes with a handkerchief, Travers, grinning lopsidedly, a grey-haired man she did not recognize, who must have been the groundskeeper, looking grim, and her maid Anisette, wiggling her fingers in a wave. Christine could not help but notice that she glanced frequently at Dion, blushing prettily. The man in question had just stowed their baggage in the back of the buggy, and now came to stand before her.

“It has been an honour, Madame.” He took her hand and kissed it warmly, making her smile in spite of the tears in her eyes.

Au revoir, Dion; and thank you, for everything.”

A bientôt,” he corrected her, and then turned to Erik. The two men regarded each other seriously for a moment, and Erik looked as though he was about to speak when Dion threw his arms around the older man.

Christine stifled a laugh behind her hand, as Erik looked horrified.

“And a bientôt to you, dear teacher!” Dion cried passionately, patting Erik on the back several times before pulling away, not seeming to care that his mentor had remained stiff as a board the entire time. “May our paths cross again in the near future.”

“Yes, quite,” Erik replied awkwardly. “Farewell, Dion.” He looked at Christine for the first time since she had come outside, his countenance blank. “Shall we go?” Without waiting for an answer, he jumped lithely up to the front of the carriage.

Dion helped her inside, and she sat down with a thump. The door shut with a click, and Christine heard the crack of a whip as the vehicle lurched into motion. She pulled back the small curtains and watched Rue Manor shrink as they traveled steadily farther from the property.

A bientôt, my beloved France. Au revoir, Christine de Chagny.

* * *

Christine leaned her head against the window as the French countryside sped past them. The ride to the Nice Station had taken no time at all, and, despite Christine’s unfounded fears, they had boarded without a problem; people did not even pause to stare curiously at Erik’s mask in their rush.

Though she had been a little taken aback when Erik had pulled her to a stop in the middle of the bustling crowds and muttered, “Your name is Madame Christine de la Rue; we are a newly married couple on our honeymoon to England. Do not speak to anyone, do not venture out of my sight, and do not, under any circumstances, make yourself noticeable.”

She had been torn between laughter and dismay at the unnecessary discomfort Erik had created by making them a married couple, but, unsettled by the obvious anxiety in his voice and the constant shoving of the people around her, had nodded without protest.

After they had embarked, Erik had silently led Christine to an empty compartment near the back of the train. He put away their luggage, and sat down across from her. Christine, finally able to take a proper breath, waited on edge for him to say something. When they lapsed into silence, Erik obviously still sore from their fight earlier, she had given up with a weary sigh and taken to staring out the window.

It seemed as though they had been traveling long enough to have been to Brest and back several times. Christine felt as though she would go insane in the silence. Erik had closed his eyes almost immediately as the train started up, but she could not be sure if he was asleep. She did not think he would drop his guard so easily on public transportation, especially when their situation was so perilous. She had faded in and out of slumber herself, but nerves would not let her drift off completely.

No, he was almost definitely pretending. To avoid speaking with me, Christine thought bitterly.

It’s not as though you’re making an effort to start a conversation either.

“Erik?” She said tentatively, swallowing. His eyes snapped open almost instantly.

I knew it.

“Is there a problem, Christine?”

The temper she seemed to develop around him now flared at the icy timbre of his voice, but the last thing she wanted was another fight. “Oh…I just wondered…if you were sleeping.” She blushed, knowing quite well how false she sounded.

Erik stared hard at her for a moment, then started to close his eyes again.


His sapphire eyes now blazed as he watched her expectantly.

“I wanted to apologize for this morning—I shouldn’t have been rude.” She paused, and then added quickly, “But you weren’t very polite either.”

He acknowledged her apology with a nod. “If that is all…?”

Her jaw clenched. “I had hoped you would apologize as well.”

His lips formed a thin line, and he did not reply. It was too much for Christine to bear.

God damn it, Erik!” She got to her feet, fists clenched. “I am not lying to you! I don’t know what goes on in that bloody head of yours, to make you think—I won’t stand for it, being treated like I’m your cowardly little student!” His eyes widened in shock as she continued, her voice shrill. “There is no denying that I don’t have the experience that you do; that I don’t know what it feels like, to be in your position—but you won’t even let me attempt to understand! You’re too busy pitying yourself and blocking me out that you don’t seem to notice I’m trying to care for you!What is so attractive about the idea of eternal misery to you, that makes you refuse to believe that I want to love you?Why, I do love you—why do you put me through this?”

With a dismal groan, she flung the door open and stormed out of the compartment.

* * *

Erik’s heart had leapt from his chest; he was sure of it. Somewhere in the midst of Christine’s shouting, its beating had reached such a violent climax that it burst through the flesh and sinew entirely, leaving him with an incredibly weightless feeling in the pit of his stomach.

He stared at the space where Christine had occupied not a moment ago. He could not say what surprised him more, the fact that she had cursed, or the fact that she had yelled at him. Christine Daaé had not possessed such violent traits.

And she did not try to seduce you during walks along the beach.

God damn it, Erik!”

She does not know the horrors of your past—don’t fool yourself.

What is so attractive about the idea of eternal misery to you…?”

She could never understand the complications of murder, of death…

“…My child, Erik! Dead!”


“…I do love you!”

Barely five seconds passed before Erik tore after her.

* * *

Christine shrieked as Erik grabbed her arm and whirled her around, shoving her against his chest and carrying her back to the compartment. She squirmed, pounding her small fists helplessly against his chest.

What did I say about making yourself noticeable?” He whispered hoarsely, putting her back on her feet and closing the door.

All thoughts in her head vanished at his words, and she paled in fear. “Oh no, you don’t think they—”

The fear was replaced with something considerably more pleasant when he pulled her to him, tenderly this time, and kissed her. Christine froze for a split second, then molded into his arms, curling her arms up around his shoulders. He cupped her cheek with one hand and ran his fingers lightly down her spine with the other, grinning as she shuddered against him.

The kiss was sweeter, lacking the stormy lust of the past several days; it reminded Christine more of their first kiss: gentle, exploring, moving slowly to relish each sensation within itself, as though they had all the time in the world.

When at last they pulled apart, Christine looked up at Erik in wonder. “Apology accepted,” she said breathlessly, and Erik burst into laughter, snaking his arms around her waist and embracing her. She had never heard him laugh before, and the rich, resonant sound delighted her to no end. She leaned against his chest contentedly, inhaling deeply. He smelt of candles, and something unidentifiable that made Christine think of the sea.

After a moment, he sobered. “I am sorry, Christine,” he murmured into her hair.

“Then, you must promise never to keep your doubts from me again,” she told him, fingering his right lapel.

“You have my word.”

She glanced up, smiling warmly. “Then I promise never to lie to you.” She brushed a kiss to his lips, and then said, “And I will try my best to be understanding when you tell me about your past.”

His countenance contorted in worry. “You would not want to hear it, Christine—I have attempted to redeem myself, but I fear it shall never be done…I was a madman—a monster.”

“Don’t say such things.” She stroked his cheek. “You were born good, Erik—the world made you who—” She broke off as she yawned suddenly, quickly drawing her hand away from his face to cover her mouth.

“Are you tired?” He asked, concerned.

“I slept fitfully last night,” she replied. “It is nothing.”

His brow furrowed, then, she squeaked as he scooped her up in his arms and sat down, laying her across his lap. One arm held her around the waist so she would not slip off.

“What if someone walks in on us?” She murmured, snuggling against him.

“We’re on our honeymoon,” he replied, in mock seriousness. “Ridiculous, lovesick behaviour is to be expected.”

She laughed quietly, planting feather-light kisses along his jaw. “Wake me if you have any doubts.” Then, with a flutter of eyelashes, she was lost in dreams.

* * *

Erik’s eyes snapped open, and he looked down in disbelief.

Christine—was on his lap.



More prominently, Christine was on his lap, squirming.

He could have spent hours, simply watching her sleep, trying to give a name to each singular beauty about her. He could examine the unfamiliar sensations of love, joy, freedom, and acceptance—feelings he had not felt in years. When he had been her tutor, he had tried to imagine the utter bliss that he would live in if Christine ever dared share his sentiments. Now, he knew one needed to experience it to truly grasp the ecstasy, the wonderment that seemed to fill every pore in his body. He would have to watch that he didn’t do something irrational—his newfound glory in that one moment was so powerful that he could snatch the mask from his face and stand before the world, uncaring—

Because Christine had chosen him.

Yes, he most definitely could have spent hours—could being the operative word. Her nonstop wriggling was eliciting a reaction out of him that would soon grow too obvious.

“Christine,” he said, his voice teetering dangerously on the edge of a whimper. She only mumbled something indistinctive and moved around even more. Erik hissed sharply. Damnation, she’ll forgive you if you wake her up. Hastily, in fear of her moving again, Erik lifted her and adjusted her into a sitting position.

She blinked, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. He could have kissed her when she took in his presence with a shy smile. “Good—” she glanced over at the darkened window, “—evening. Have we arrived?”

He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out his watch. “It’s nearing half past nine now, we should be there in twenty minutes or so.”

“I slept for that long?” She said in surprise. “Weren’t you bored in the least?”

Oddly embarrassed that he had slept as well, he simply replied, “No.”

She gave him a small knowing grin, and leaned forward to capture his lips with her own. Erik tightened his hold on her and they stayed that way until the train screeched to a halt at Brest Station.

* * *

The harbour town of Brest was cramped and grubby, a bit of a shock to Christine who had only ever seen the most pleasant parts of France. It was as though someone had spilt some foul substance on a map of the country, and the stain had formed a city. The streets were teeming with burly, snarling sailors, either setting off or arriving from a voyage. Instead of the comforting breeze that the sea supplied in Nice, there was only a nauseating stench of dead fish. Even the yellow light pooling around the street lamps seemed harsh and repulsive, as it only revealed the filth and grime that coated the cobblestones.

Christine thanked God that Erik was beside her. He gently pulled her away from the window of the hansom, and she leaned against him gratefully. “It is best that you are not seen,” he murmured. “Women of your…quality…do not habit the city of Brest often.”

“We are leaving first thing in the morning, are we not?” Christine asked him earnestly.

“I have made the arrangements.” Of course he had. She assumed that Erik had been here before, as he seemed to know exactly where he was going. The hansom had even been waiting for them at the station, and the cabbie had greeted Erik with familiarity. He was a stocky gentleman, with the weathered face of a sailor. He looked just like every other man in the city, save his generally clean clothes and the lack of facial hair. He also seemed to know exactly where Erik wanted to go, because they had not spoken a word except for a muttered ‘good evening’.

“Is it—Where we are staying, is it…”

“It is decent, Christine, if that is what you’re worried about.” He did not look at her as he added, “Perhaps not what a Comtesse would be accustomed to, but it is the best place available.”

She sat on his right side, so the mask hid his expression. Bringing up a hand, she turned his head in her direction. “I am not a Comtesse,” she told him firmly. “Never think that what you can provide is not good enough for me.”

The inn was in fact surprisingly respectable. It was tucked away in between two buildings, a swinging wooden sign, with the name of the establishment carved into it, jutting out onto the street to attract guests. Christine read it as Erik bundled her inside: La Petite Sirène.

As soon as one came in the door, there was a set of stairs and a narrow hall leading off into the tavern. Erik thanked the cabbie driver, who had followed them inside, and handed him a small change purse. The man accepted the payment with a toothy grin, and, taking their baggage in both hands, led them up the stairs. Christine kept her gaze downcast, clinging tightly to Erik’s arm.

“Nicest room in the house,” the man said in a gravely voice, as he unlocked a door at the end of the hall. “Brilliant view of the harbour.” She and Erik stepped inside, and with an automatic “Enjoy your stay”, the man was gone.

Erik moved from her side, and she saw a flicker, then the oil lamp came to life and the room lit up.

It was long and narrow, with fading maroon wallpaper. The furniture, a large bed, desk, and dresser, were all made of cherry. The window at the end of the room did indeed look out onto the harbour, but the crowded docks were not Christine’s idea of a brilliant view. There was a closet to one side of her, and a door that connected to a small bathroom on the other. Inside, she was relieved to see a toilet, tub, and sink, all equipped with indoor plumbing. She eyed the bath longingly. When was the last time she had washed herself thoroughly? And now, after traveling for so long…She shuddered.

“Erik?” She glanced back at him to realize he had stopped moving and had been watching her apprehensively. She gave him a fatigued smile and said reassuringly, “It’s fine. I’d like to take a bath, if I could…”

“Of course,” he replied, visibly relaxing. He stepped forward and assisted her out of her cloak, hanging it up in the closet. While he did so, she opened her suitcase and extracted the negligee, nightdress, and bag of cosmetics She paused at the door of the bathroom, when he spoke again. “I’ll leave the room for a short while, to buy us some supper. You should be perfectly safe on your own for a time.”

“I trust you,” she said lightly, but gave him a meaningful look. He nodded, and she closed the door.

It took a little time for the taps to finally start spouting warm water, so she stripped down to her corset and shift, and examined herself in the mirror. Her eyes still looked weary after her sleep on the train, and her hair was mussed from leaning against Erik the entire time. She took out a brush and eased it through her tangled curls, feeling ashamed when she found herself yearning for a maid. While she traveled, she would have to get used to not living to extravagantly as she had for the past few years. Things would improve when they reached England, and she had lived the majority of her life without servants. She could manage.

The tub finally filled, and Christine stared at it balefully, realizing she couldn’t remove her corset to get in.

* * *

Erik looked up as the door to the bathroom opened. He had brought in another chair and set up the desk as a table, so he and Christine could eat when she was finished.

But she couldn’t have gone that quickly?

“Erik—” She leaned out of the doorway, and he inhaled sharply as he saw she was only wearing her shift and corset. “I don’t have a maid—would you…?” She gestured to her corset, blushing.

He came over without a word, and she turned her back to him, pulling her hair away compliantly. The laces were relatively easy, but ignoring her bare skin wasn’t. He moved slowly, his hands lingering after he undid each tie, speculating over what she might do if he scooped her up and carried her over to the bed. He wondered if she had thought about the fact that there was only one place for both of them to sleep.

“Are you having trouble?” Her quiet voice broke into his fantasies, which had made him stop his work. “Eri—?” She broke off with a gasp when he leaned down and kissed her neck. He leisurely started on the laces again, kissing her each time he finished one, moving from her neck down to her shoulder, and then up to her ear. She was so delicate, so sweet…he could drown in her taste.

When the corset finally went totally slack, Christine turned and took both of Erik’s hands in her own, kissing him softly. “The water is going to get cold,” she murmured, and, with a teasing smile, disappeared back into the bathroom.

* * *

Christine leaned against the door and took several deep breaths. She felt like she couldn’t control herself when Erik touched her—it was similar to the sensation of him singing to her, only increased tenfold. She was utterly consumed and enchanted by him, every movement reflexive and done without thought. Some subconscious part of her mind took over, and she obeyed completely. Why question things, when she knew her Angel would protect her from all harm?

The warmth of the bath was bliss, and she lost track of time letting her sore body relax, as layers of sweat and dirt lifted from her skin. She scrubbed her cheeks pink, using a bottle of lavender scented oil from her cosmetics case to rid herself of Brest’s revolting smell that seemed to cling to everything it touched.

She emerged from the water feeling rejuvenated, and slipped into the robe and nightgown Erik had provided, unable to ignore that it looked suspiciously similar to the one she had worn when he had first revealed himself to her at the Opera House—perhaps a little more modest, but similar nonetheless. Had he bought it for that reason?

The thought of Erik purchasing women’s undergarments brought an amused chuckle to her lips, and she put the matter aside.

He was sitting at the desk when she came out, intently reading. He had changed into another of his loose white shirts and a pair of black lounging trousers. When she caught sight of the little platter of food on the desk, however, the flutter changed to result of a very different feeling.

When had she last eaten?

Erik glanced up, one corner of his mouth curving into a smile. “Hungry?”

“Very,” she replied, sitting opposite him and plucking an apple slice from the platter. There were also slices of cheese, ham, olives, and grapes. Erik insisted he had already eaten as much as he needed, so she helped herself until the plate was almost empty. Deciding she was full, she looked up from her meal to see that he had been watching her the entire time, his expression somewhere between highly amused and astonished.

“I would have brought up more food if I had known you were that famished.”

She blushed, then rested a hand on her stomach and grimaced. “I shan’t need breakfast, now, at least.” Erik promptly burst into laughter, and she smiled embarrassedly, though inside she was rejoicing at his carefree mirth.

There was a short silence as she hid a yawn behind her hand, and they both simultaneously looked at the one bed.

The pleasures of the marriage bed were no mystery to Christine. True, she and Raoul had shared separate rooms for the greater part of their marriage, but during the first year they had been very much in love. Since the death of her child, she had not thought about any such acts, however, until she had spent her first night in Rue Manor. Somehow, she didn’t think that any of the gentle, inexperienced nights she had spent with Raoul would be of much worth with Erik. They were different men entirely, and it would take an equally different approach to please her intense, fiery companion. Which, she reflected, thinking back to before her bath, would not be difficult at all.

But it is too early; even Erik must know that.

Hoping her countenance had not betrayed her thoughts, she looked across the desk at him. His brow was furrowed—he looked resigned. Christine knew immediately what he would say.

“I will sleep in the room next door, Christine; it is no trouble.” He got to his feet and reached for his suitcase.

“Are you not even going to ask me my opinion?” Christine said softly, sadly, watching him with wide eyes.

“Pardon?” Erik froze at her voice, as though it had reached out and took hold of him.

She stood, cocking her head, and lay a hand on his shoulder. “Do you really think so little of me?”


“You tend to be melodramatic, Erik,” she murmured, as the hand slid down his arm and their fingers entwined. Stepping in front of him, she took hold of the mask and removed it, unfazed.

He had watched her every movement, his eyes fearful and alert. When she took off his mask, he reflexively moved to cover his face with a hand, but she grabbed his arm and pulled it away.

“Especially—” she paused, and kissed his ravaged right cheek. “—About that.”


“You know it doesn’t matter to me. I do not love your voice alone, Erik…I love all of you.”

He pulled her to him, giving her a searing kiss, his arms pushing her against him so forcibly Christine felt as though their bodies would fuse together. It wasn’t until she felt his hand at the ties of her negligee that she finally realized what she was doing.

His hand stopped as soon as he felt her stiffen against him, and he turned his head so their lips separated, but she didn’t let him step away. Holding his shirt tightly in her fists, she whispered, “I’m sorry, Erik…It is too early—please, I only ask for time…”

He let out a ragged sigh and nodded. “Lord, whatever you ask of me, Christine—whatever you ask, I will give it.”

“Then stay with me, tonight. Don’t leave—I couldn’t bear it.”

“And how am I to bear lying next to you the entire night?” He asked, but his tone was warm again. He put out the lamp, and pulled Christine into the bed. She huddled against him, and felt him hesitate for a moment, and then draw her more closely into his embrace. “Christine—my mask, is it…?”

“I put it on the bedside table,” she murmured. “Please don’t put it on. At least wait until morning.”

“I won’t,” he replied, sounding a little unsure.

“Don’t worry.” She gave him a chaste kiss and smiled. “The Angel of Music has you under her wing.”

He chuckled, and she could feel his chest vibrate against her. “I’m not sure if I should be at ease or worried all the more for it.”

“Sleep, then.”

“Goodnight, Christine.”

“I love you.” Her tone was hushed, as though she was not sure if she should say such words.

Erik’s reply was a startled intake of breath that tickled the back of her ear. “I—”

To her surprise, she did not need his words. “Goodnight,” she murmured understandingly, interrupting him, and at once he relaxed.

But later, just as sleep was beginning to carry her off, she swore she heard a voice in her ear, tears mingled with singing…

“Say you’ll share with me, one love, one lifetime…”


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Dream Descends

Part 9 of 16

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