Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 10 of 38

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He had weakened.

He had crumbled.

He had lost control.

Roman shut his eyes and took in a long, slow breath, the jostling of the carriage on the bumpy roads out of Paris doing nothing at all to calm him. In his hands he held a book that he dared not open...again.

I am a fool.

He chastised himself, his eyes blurring against the warm orange glow of the setting sun. He hadn't slept in over twenty four hours. His only consolation was that he would be home to Christine with her medication by the very early morning...

...even though his actions that afternoon might have killed her anyway.

The image of Meg Giry swam into his mind. She hadn't seen the horror on his face or the desperation in his eyes when he had realized that he knew the identity of this "Phantom" all too well. It made so much sense...and yet at the same time was absolute insanity. The pitiful man who had fallen in love with Christine Daae', the madman, the murderer, now went by the name Erik Von Alsing...and Roman's mind had fled.

Caught between absolute shock and absolute horror, worried about Christine and Magda's very lives, he had told Meg Giry that her friend still lived.

Of course, she had been confused, then deliriously happy, and then...strangely, very sad.

She had explained that Christine had had very difficult experiences, and that she had taken a little peace in the fact that her friend was free from pain.

That had struck Roman like a blow to the stomach. What hell could Christine have lived to make death a peaceful solution?

Naturally, Meg had asked to see her friend...along with a million other questions. Was the Viscount alive? How had she escaped?

Roman had only confirmed the Viscount's death-he had answered nothing else. He had explained that the Commune would still be after her...that he needed to hear everything that Meg knew about Christine to protect her...he then added that the Commune wasn't the only thing she would need protecting from...

He told her of Erik and his mask.

Meg had done something very strange then...she had accepted his answer. He had suspected her to scream and throw a tantrum, demanding that she be told every single bit of information about her friend...but she hadn't. For some reason, the news of Christine's keeper hadn't sent the girl white with fear. Had it been...had it been comfort on her face!

With a single tear, she had nodded, telling Roman that whatever kept her friend alive was welcome. Roman was happy that she didn't connect the medication back to Christine, the poor girl was worried enough.

She had implored him to follow her back to her home. There was something that he might find of use.

The Giry's little house was hardly grand, but pleasantly appointed. She had quickly ushered him past her mother's bedroom, though Roman doubted that the thin, black figure that he had glimpsed upon the bed would have seen him had he walked right in front her.

A small box had been produced, which Meg had explained as coming from the de Chagny estate. The rebels had only taken items that of monetary value...everything else was left to ruin. In her grief, Meg had wandered the ransacked house, looking for any sign of her dear friend. What she had been able to salvage was in the box: a few ribbons, a pair of kid gloves, a red scarf, a piece of torn white fabric, and a black book.

At first, the items had seemed completely worthless... first.

The black book was a diary, kept over the first and only year of Christine's young marriage. Meg had begged him to take it, along with the red scarf and the torn piece of cloth. The white fabric, upon closer inspection, was very fine, with elaborate embroidery and tiny pearl beads adorning it. It must have been torn from a grand gown...perhaps even a wedding gown...

Then she had sobbed. Oh poor Meg Giry! She had fallen into Roman's arms, a weeping mess, crying for the fate of her poor friend, who had been pulled from the safety of the angels to the cruelness of the cold world. She hadn't understood what had happen, or why fate had allowed it to happen...

Neither had Roman.

She had broken down, her earlier maturity gone, begging to be taken to Christine, pleading with Roman to tell her everything.

He almost had.

Luckily, his reason had returned, and the immediate danger that Christine and his wife were in was once again in the front of his mind. Meg Giry's comfort would have to wait. Roman had gotten away with a promise to send for her in a few weeks if everything were safe...

She had agreed, promising that not a soul, not even her mother would hear of this until everything was well again. A small light of hope had burst into her eyes.

Now Roman sat in his carriage, the weight of his guilt suffocating him. Once again, he flipped open Christine's dairy, despite his earlier idea against it, as if trying to see if the words had possibly changed. They seemed impossible...

The 9th of April, 1870

Within a week they shall be calling me 'Viscountess.' Shall God call me the same some day, when I appear before him in Heaven? Shall he address me as such? Or shall my title be thrown back in my face, the word 'traitor' ringing in the air around me? It is not only Erik that my marriage shall betray...God it even hurts to write his name!

It is not only Erik that my marriage will betray. It will betray God, it will betray my own person...and ultimately, it will betray Raoul. Oh Raoul! How I love you! Desperately so! What I wouldn't give to make these doubts and reservations go away! You are so dear to my soul, and yet my soul bleeds for what it can now never have...for what I shall never have again.

Please don't be dead Erik. Please do not be dead. It is a selfish request of me, but I pray to God that I shall be cold on my grave before he takes the breath of life from your precious lips. As long as you live, my heart will still be able to beat. It shall live for you, even if it can not love you.

With only a few lines, Roman's fears of the Baron had been effectively extinguished. One did not talk of heartless murders having "precious lips." He closed his eyes against a wave of pain. He had just betrayed the man who had given him and his wife a new home and a new life. There was no way in hell that he expected Meg Giry to keep that promise. Soon all of Paris would know of the Viscountess and the Opera Ghost.

He turned to the next page of her diary, re-reading the heartbreaking words.

The 17th of April, 1870

My wedding night was a horror to end all horrors. It started out so lovely too! The wedding was beautiful, so beautiful that even thoughts of my poor Erik could not ruin my happy disposition! White roses (I refused any other color) made the church look like a veritable Eden, and the reception at the estate was so lovingly arranged! Forgive me Lord, but I am glad that Raoul's parents are dead. Had his family treated me the way that his closest friends did I'm sure I would have burst into tears. It's not that were cruel...they were just so cold. Horribly so. I was anxious to leave the swirling faces and endless toasts and lose myself to what I believed would be the pleasure of my marriage bed. God in Heaven, could I have been more wrong! Why must you punish Raoul for sins that are solely mine? Of course it was painful at first, I suppose it is for all brides. Raoul's weight upon me was especially suffocating when combined with my fear. I must admit however, that even in my fear, I found pleasure in the act. A delicious sensation rippled through my bones, and my vision became hazy.

Suddenly I was no longer on a bed surrounded by the light of my husband, but in the arms of a much darker embrace. The blackness of night caressed me and I relished in its touch, opening my eyes to see my Erik above me, his eyes locked on mine as we gloried in our pleasure. I shuddered in his arms and called out his name, only to be brought back cold reality when my fantasy faded to reveal my shocked husband. I shall burn in hell, for never have a heard Raoul in such anguish as I did there and then. He threw my love for Erik - which I denied - in my face, and literally fell to his knees before me, begging me to love him. I promised him that I did, that I would always love him, that I was so happy to be his wife.

I feel as if my soul is beginning to unhinge.

Roman flinched, the sense of tragedy that pervaded her writing overwhelming him. It did not help that he felt even more guilt at reading what Christine would have considered her innermost, private thoughts.

The 29th of April, 1870

The Commune sacked the Opera House today. A body was found in the cellars. God no...dear God has happened, and now my heart will slowly stop its beating. This is my fault, this is my entire fault. Oh God, I feel the blackness that clouds my mind. I feel it, I can sense it. Christ have mercy.

The entry was surprisingly short for an event that must have greatly troubled her. Roman noted the blurred ink of some of the words...tear stains.

The 3rd of May, 1870

I sat in front of my mirror again today. I am being split into two! The light screams to me that I am being absolutely ridiculous, but the dark seduces me, telling me that if I wait, he will come. I can feel the surrounds me.

Roman swallowed hard. He was reading the thoughts of a mind that was slowly slipping into madness.

The 7th of May, 1870

Raoul has asked that I allow doctors to see me daily. Indeed, I have turned quite pale and my waistline is drastically receding. They believe that my heart might be weakening, and advised Raoul and I against trying to have children...I do not believe that I am capable of having children...the blackness is too strong to allow such light.

"Guilt," Roman said on a faint whisper. He mind was slowly being poisoned by her guilt. Guilt at leaving Erik for Raoul, guilt of bringing her obvious love for Erik into her marriage.

The 10th of May, 1870

I didn't tell the doctors about this diary. They specifically asked me if I kept a written journal. I said "no." It wasn't exactly a lie. I simply pretend that this book is my mind, and that I am thinking the thoughts that I write.

No! No no no! I am not mad! I am not! That's what the doctors think...I know it. Raoul has them see to me everyday. If they found any sort of journal they would construe absolutely anything as insanity! And you must admit, dear diary, that I have not had the most ordinary of lives. Up until now it has, in fact, been nothing but a rollicking sea of madness!

But I am not mad!

So I keep this diary hidden, where no doctor can find it...where no other man in a fine suit with a fake expression of concern can prescribe more of those medieval medications and treatments...where no condescending friend may find it, only to whisper behind my back "poor, pitiful, Christine."Once upon a time, I was not the one being called pitiful. Once upon a time...I was the strong one. The irony of it all makes me laugh myself sick.

I am not insane. I am not insane.

They are fools, the lot of them. Don't we all keep diaries in our brains? Yes! Yes I think we all must at some point or another keep mental journals. Mine is just a little more complex. I rarely speak to anyone...except Raoul and the doctors, and then I keep my responses to their questions rather short.

Not that I shouldn't be thankful to Raoul. He has been so kind and wonderful to me. Everyone was at first. They couldn't even believe that I had survived what they called "my ordeal." The curse of my wedding night still lives in my head! For the first four days after that terrible night I sat on the floor of my beautiful bedroom, staring into absolute nothingness. I didn't speak, I didn't eat, I didn't move...I just sat there. Incapable of any sort of emotion, so all consuming was my emptiness. I had no drive, no spirit, no desire...

I have no soul. At least not anymore.

When those first few days turned in to a week, and then that week into two, Raoul became worried. Sleep deprived and mal nourished, I will admit that I looked like a bride of the devil. Even when eventually, I would dress in the fine clothes he provided me with and make appearances for the sake of his friends...I looked like a mere specter.

Just the other night, even poor Raoul, who has been so patient with me, lost his head. The Comte de Leon asked whether I had employed a private vocal instructor at the opera. An innocent question, I realize that now...but my control snapped in half. I don't know why, but I actually told him that my teacher lived in my mirror. I asked him if he had an angel living in his own mirror.

I am not mad.

Raoul grabbed me by the arm and hauled me out of the room. He screamed at me for about five minutes, telling me that I was "asking" to be thought of as crazy, and wondering why I couldn't "get over all of this?"

Then he broke down sobbing. Part of me felt for him. He is such a gentle man! I know that it is my recent disposition that has led him to this. Another part of me filled with unholy rage. How dare he ask me to get over it? He had not had to destroy a man with a single answer. He had not tasted the horrific kiss of unrequited love. Guilt did not tear down the very walls of his soul. Self loathing did not poison his blood. I destroyed Erik by leaving with Raoul, and I have destroyed Raoul now too. I fear that this desperate mix of rage and sadness will haunt me to my grave.

Roman turned another page, and then another, each one reflecting more and more the slow, desperate madness that had descended upon the young Viscountess de Chagny.

September 5th, 1870.

My bedroom here is very lovely. The doctors moved me to a sanitarium in Naples...apparently the air in Paris is not good for my weakening heart. Perhaps I shall die...alas, that would be too merciful. There is no mirror in this room. That saddens me greatly.

And then another.

September 14th, 1870

I see his face when I close my eyes. I hear his voice. I can feel my angel, my beautiful, beautiful angel.

They call me mad, you know.

Each entry raved about angels and voices and pain, each one tainted with madness, each one containing just enough sanity to make the girl's demise all the more tragic. She had essentially become a prisoner, visited only by a grieving husband and sterile doctors...a beautiful bird that had lost its ability to fly.

"Oh Christine," he quietly cried. Soon, her entries lost exact dates and her writing became terribly slanted.

October, 1870

I scream and I scream and I scream and they do nothing! Nothing! They simply stuff me with more horrific treatments and medications, vowing to my dear husband that they can cure me of my "most unfortunate sickness." I scream at night in my bed. I scream at God, I scream at fate, and I scream at Erik for ever setting his beautiful eyes on me. I scream at Raoul for loving me so much.

The next entry had caught Roman completely off guard, and he found himself staring blankly at the words for several long minutes.

November, 1870

Raoul has been coming to me for quite some time now and the doctors tell me that I am pregnant. What ridiculousness, a child having a child. Perhaps he shall be an angel. Yes! An angel! A beautiful perfect angel.

And then...

December, 1870

My child is dead.

I shall have to speak to Raoul about preparing the estate for my return. I imagine that the maids have not kept my toilet up to date and I shall require some new dresses. The coming winter looks to be harsh and I do not have nearly enough fur lined cloaks. They shall not be very easily acquired with the Commune breathing down our necks, but money shall easily overcome any obstacles. I shall also have to speak to our cook about stocking some of the fine Italian pastas that I have been enjoying over the past months. They are absolutely exquisite and supremely agreeable to even the most discriminating palette.

Roman blinked. Christine's madness was no where to be found in the remaining entries of that little black diary. In fact, nothing but perfectly demure entries of daily life could be found. Not one passionate outburst, not one mention of Erik. It made no sense...and then it made perfect sense.

The death of her child. Terrible grief had brought on the darkness, and terrible grief had lifted it. The loss of a child, not even one month into the womb had turned Christine into a shell, and shells did not have enough heart and soul to be insane.


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 10 of 38

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