Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 11 of 38

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Magda did not move. Did not breathe, did not think...simply looked. She didn't stare. To stare would be to let the mind slip into a haze of thought.

She looked.

The right side of his nose was sunken into his face, and it was almost impossible to tell where it ended or began. The skin along his cheek and temple was twisted brutally, puckered and red, stretched tightly over the warped bone. Little blue veins pumped blood steadily along his marred visage.

Truly, he was hideous to look at.

Erik stood there, the effects of his rage slowly dwindling down into shame. He shut his eyes instantly, not wanting to see another woman's face etched with horror and disgust. He had already seen enough to last a lifetime.

God in heaven, what had he done?

Magda's insistence that he loved Christine had sent him over the edge. He had devoted the past year of his life to not loving Christine, how dare this woman tell him what he supposedly felt!

But he had gone too far. Once again his rage had blocked out all other thoughts, and all that he could think of was terrifying her into submission, into admitting that a man like him could never love a woman like Christine. Now she had seen his face, and she would run screaming to her husband, telling him that they would have to leave...and he would be back to where he was when this whole nightmare began: a man alone in the world with nothing...and no one.

Why wasn't she screaming?

Erik dared to open his eyes, though he held his breath. The young gypsy stood before him, her face as calm as a sleeping child's.

What in the hell-

"I am a gypsy, Sir." She interrupted his thoughts with a quiet voice. "The whole of "civilized" France sees me as a disease, simply because of my heritage. I have had rotten food thrown at me in towns because of the clothes I wore. I have known gypsy women to be beaten because the average Frenchman sees us as no better than animals. Our camp was the victim of numerous attacks...arson, murder...even among my own people, there is distrust. My parents abandoned me when I left with Roman to come here. They refuse to accept anything that links us to the outside own father called me a whore when I refused to marry a man that they had chosen for me at thirteen. Thirteen! The marriage would have been nothing more than sanctioned rape. " Magda slowly bent to the floor, picking up the discarded white mask. "I'm only twenty four Sir, but twenty four years is all that it's taken to show me that, quite frankly, there are many things in the world uglier than your face." She reached out to hand him his mask. "There are frightening things about you, Baron, but they certainly aren't covered by this."

Erik took the mask from her slowly, smoothing it back onto his face, his eyes never leaving hers. He had no idea what to think, what to feel, what to do...

The sound of Christine's agonized wails instantly put a halt on any further development of his chaotic thoughts. With a mutual look of worry, both he and Magda ran from the room. She was surprised at how calmly she had reacted to his face, but then again, it wasn't anything that she hadn't seen before. Gypsy camps often traveled with freak shows...strange disfigurements became as normal to a gypsy as a rising sun. She was also surprised at how her fear of him had decreased dramatically. The Baron was a volatile man, there was no doubting that, but in that entire episode...he had done nothing to hurt her. Her father had thrown his hand at no more than a wrongly placed word. Plus, there was also some comfort to be found in now being able to see where most of his pain came from...most of it...


Christine had been awake when they had found her, shivering violently in her bed, tears staining her cheeks. Magda registered the surprise on the girl's face when Erik entered the room, but said nothing as he sat beside her bed, calling for warm water and a towel. Her fever was raging again, at times keeping her awake, at other's pulling her dangerously back into unconsciousness. Sometimes she would wake only to retch violently, but with no food in her all that she succeeded in doing was hurting herself. For hours this continued, well into the night. Nothing was said on the subject of his mask, and Magda felt a quiet peace knowing that words were essentially, unnecessary. She had read the fear of rejection in his eyes, buried deep though it was, and he had read the delicate acceptance in hers.

By the time midnight had passed, Christine's bouts of consciousness were nothing more than delirious sighs and moans, and Magda noticed that the Baron had let his guard down considerably. His silence turned into gentle shushing noises and his rigid movements into soft caresses. Part of Magda felt the need to speak up, to tell him that his behavior was extremely inappropriate directed toward a young woman that he barely knew. Another part however, remembered the surprised look in Christine's eyes when he had walked into the room. It wasn't the surprise of seeing a stranger... was the surprise of welcoming someone home.

By two o'clock that morning, Christine was shivering violently again, huddled in sheets now soaked through from hours spent battling her fever.

"Why the hell is she in here anyway?" Came his rough voice, though Magda couldn't be sure if he was addressing her or himself. He looked around the small servants' quarters distastefully, as if it was a crime that she slept there. "Find another nightgown for her and follow me." The command was swift and strong, especially coming from a man who hadn't slept in nearly two days. Effortlessly, he picked Christine up out of the bed, cradling her in his arms as if she were an infant. Automatically she clung to him, and Magda watched as Erik stood there for a moment, simply absorbing the feeling of her against him. Then he was off, the extra weight he carried doing nothing to slow his pace. Down the hallway, up the stairs, and into the grand foyer he strode, Magda trailing behind with one of Christine's night gowns. They were halfway up the large staircase when Roman burst through the double doors.

"Your Grace!"

Both Erik and Magda whirled around to see Roman coming toward them, a brown parcel in his right hand. Magda jumped at her husband, elated at his quick and safe return. Roman stared at Erik with Christine in his arms, trying his best to hide the questions and emotions that must surely be dancing in his eyes...there would be time for that later.

Up the stairs they went and through the home, until finally the reached one of the guest bedrooms adjacent to Erik's. It was lavishly appointed, with a four poster canopy bed, marble fire place, and large vanity. Lush blue fabric adorned with gold thread woven around the edges covered everything. Silk hangings were draped luxuriously over the walls and two white French doors led out onto a balcony that overlooked the gardens. Magda quickly set to lighting a fire as Erik threw back the coverlet and sheets of the bed, gingerly laying Christine between them. Roman looked away as Magda changed Christine into a fresh gown, though he wasn't exactly sure if he could say the same for the Master. By the time she was dressed and settled into bed, Roman had the package open and produced three small jars. One was a liquid that would serve as an antiseptic of sorts for the body, helping to kill the infection. Another was laudanum, meant to ease her pain and stop her from seizing and retching. Erik slowly poured both into her mouth, allowing her head to fall back on his arm as he held her weak body. His fingers brushed gently along the silk like skin of her throat, massaging it to help the liquid down. He was reluctant to cease the gentle caress, but Roman was soon beside his with the last of the medication. The third jar was a light salve that he applied gently to her marred cheek, wincing as he encountered the raised, pink flesh of her wound. She was far too beautiful to deserve such a punishment.

It was then that Magda noticed the black book held carefully under her husband's left arm. Walking over to him, she whispered, "a book?"

He nodded. "Something that the Master will eventually have to see."

"But what-"

He cut her off with a slow shake of his head. "In time, love, in time."

Erik was completely oblivious to the conversation taking place behind him as he finished massaging the salve onto Christine's cheek. Putting the medication on the night table beside the bed, he stiffly got up from his kneeling position, only to have her small fingers grasp frantically at him, barely closing around his much larger wrist.

"Please," she whispered, her voice heavy with laudanum. "Please don't leave me. Erik..." His name came out a throaty whisper as her eyes fluttered. "Please stay with me."

He inwardly cursed his inability to measure the depths of her unconsciousness.


She was barely cognizant, and if God were kind she wouldn't remember this all in the morning, but the sound of her voice begging him was too much for even Erik to overcome. He looked over to Roman and Magda, nodding his head.

"Come Magda," Roman said to his wife. "We've done all we can for tonight."

Magda didn't move. "There is no way that I am leaving him in here with her alone, I don't care who he is."

Roman had to smile at his wife's concern. "Trust me Magda, she can be in no safer hands."

"But Roman-"

"Trust me Magda." He said it with all of the seriousness in the world in his eyes. With a puzzled look of resignation, Magda curtseyed to the Baron, leaving the room with her husband.

Erik sighed as they left, pleased that he could be by himself, though puzzled that Roman would go so far as to question his wife's concern over it.

"Erik," came her ethereal voice. "Erik are you there? I...I can't see anything."

He watched her chest, its rising motion decreasing as the soothing drug lured her closer and closer to oblivion. "It's the laudanum, Christine. Don't be upset, I'm...I'm right here, Christine." He knew then that no matter what happened, he would always be there for her. The thought of anything else seemed foreign and vulgar to him.

No! Get out of this room! His reason cried, but his heart was bent on ignoring his much sounder judgment. With a gentle hand, Erik pulled the bed covers back and slid his body into the bed. His arms were shaking as he drew her against him, his breath coming out in low gasps and she molded her body to his, seeking the comforting warmth of his flesh. Her right hand hooked around his waist, while her left settled in his soft, dark hair. Her unblemished cheek molded to the visible portion of his chest, and Erik could literally feel her body soften and relax against his own. For a moment, he shut his eyes, keeping himself in check and control, before wrapping a protective arm about her back and allowing the other to soothingly stroke her hair.

Lying like this, it was easy to fool himself with the fantasy that she was his. His lover, his wife, perhaps even the mother of his children. Oh yes, no dream had ever been sweeter than the dangerous delusion of Christine presenting him with a son or daughter, a child born of their love, who would love him unconditionally...

Born of their love...

What madness was he thinking?

"Are we in Persia, Erik? You used to tell me about Persia all the time."

His breath caught in the back of his throat at the sensation of her lips moving against his chest.

"Yes," he replied. "Go to sleep, Christine, we're in Persia. When morning comes I shall show you the sunrise. I promise that you shall never see anything more beautiful. It comes up before the heat, casting long golden rays on to the Shah's palaces. They are white marble, and sometimes you will catch yourself believing that you are in Heaven as the light reflects off of the surface. It shatters and illuminates the land, and you will swear that everything around you is glowing." Erik found his own eyes shutting against the influence of his words as he imagined that they really were in Persia. How he would have loved to take Christine to such an exotic place, to see her adorned in light silk robes, to make love to her in the heat of the afternoon, and then lie in bed until the tropical night covered and soothed them.

His eyes shot open at the sensation of her tears on his skin. It was not uncommon for laudanum to draw out strange side effects, and many times women could not help crying as the drug slid through their veins. Ignoring his enraged good sense, Erik turned her face to his, lightly kissing the tears off of her cheek.

"Do not cry, Christine," he whispered lightly. "Your fever will break by morning. Do not cry, angel." Her fingers clung desperately to his shirt.

"Thank you for showing me Persia, Erik." He could see that she was losing her battle with the laudanum, and soon her delusions of Persia would be a full fledged sleeping dream.

Gently, she touched her lips to his, and desire shot through his body. He didn't care if her actions were laudanum-induced, he reveled in the feeling of her softness, cradling her head as he pulled her tightly too him

"Thank you for showing me Heaven, Christine," he whispered reverently against her mouth. A moment later she was completely asleep in his arms, her steady breathing a wonderful comfort against his body. It was only then that he finally remembered how tired he was. His body was screaming for rest, and Erik silently berated himself for this weakness. Years ago he had been able to stay awake for almost an entire week at a time, and now he found that holding Christine in bed was completely undoing years of restlessness.

How had he come to this? Barely a month ago this woman had been nothing but a symbol of pain to him. Now he couldn't help but remember her strength upon first coming here, her determination to make Magda and Roman proud, her refusal to be treated poorly by Amanda, her conviction to try and piece together a shattered life...

The girl known as Christine Daae' was gone, for tonight Erik held in his arms one of the most remarkable women that he had ever known.

His mind reeled.

"Christ," he whispered on a tortured breath. "I love you."


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 11 of 38

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