Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 13 of 38

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It was especially delightful upon my pillow last night

Erik's hand stiffened on the doorknob.

No, she couldn't have...couldn't possibly...

He turned around to that find all of the humor had drained from Christine's face. A quiet seriousness had settled over her in it's stead. Biting the inside of his cheek and fisting his hands, Erik did his best to wade through her impossible, unspoken question.

She angled her head. "Dare you deny it?" Even weakened and soft, there was something commanding in her least the way that he heard it.

"Christine...don't be ridiculous. You are tired, you really shouldn't even be out of bed." He turned to go. "I will send Magda up immediately to bring you some food and-"

"So you won't even put the effort into denying it! You simply mean to brush me off as if the question was worthless!"

Erik couldn't tell if her voice held anger or hurt...perhaps both. "Christine," he sighed. "I can't...I can't do this right now."

"That isn't fair!" Instantly she stood, slamming her fist onto the small coffee table, only to have her weak legs give out from under her. With an oath, Erik was at her side, helping her off of the floor. She grabbed her hand, easing away the sting of her uncharacteristic blow to the table. Days in bed without food or movement had certainly set her on edge...

"You are going back to bed!" The tone of his voice left no room for argument, even as she struggled in vain against him. Her limbs were still heavy with the effects of her fever and the drugs used to combat it. Erik dropped her unceremoniously onto the bed, but she instantly sat up and grabbed his wrists, looking right at him. Had he resisted, she never would have been able to hold him...but he didn't resist.

"You stayed with me last night," she murmured quietly. When he started to speak, she interrupted him. "No, no, do not apologize to me, do not make excuses to me." Taking a deep breath, she continued. "At first I thought you were a dream. I was drowning in a sea of pain, and suddenly strong arms came around my waist, holding me, carrying me away from everything that hurt. I could not hear, and I could not see...but I could feel you, Erik. I felt you there."

His eyes widened. She hadn't heard him.

"And I knew," she continued, "I knew that I wasn't dreaming...because I've only had nightmares since the day that I left-"

"Yes!" He cried, thankful that he had interrupted her before her words had become dangerous. "I stayed with you. Was that a dramatic enough confession for you? You were needed to be comforted. Your body is exceptionally weak." Erik's voice took on a cruel edge. "Is that so wrong? Do you fear for your modesty? I assure you, Madame, you have nothing to worry over. I may be a monster but I do possess a sense of decency.

Christine looked "away from him, her scar coming into full view. The oozing had stopped, and now it was only a matter of allowing the terrible scourge to heal.

"Why? Why did you stay?"

His eyes shot daggers into her. "Are you that dense, Madame? What do you want from me? What could you possibly want from me!" Erik shook her hands from his wrists.

Tears of rage stung at Christine's eyes as she once again leapt to her feet, suffering through a momentary wave of nausea and using the bed for support.

"I want you to tell me why you have been completely ignoring me for the past month! I want you to tell me why you avoid me like a pestilence, why you treat me no better than the dust on your precious marble, why you order me in front of Roman and the entire household to stay away from you!"

His control broke.

"Are you such a self centered child!" He laughed, but only red hot fury colored his voice. "You must be! To think that you would be the be all and end all of my thoughts? Tell me, Madame, are you angered by the fact that it's my attention that you lack, or the fact that it's anyone's!

Christine shut her eyes a"gainst his words. "That was cruel."

Cruel? She called him cruel!

In an instant he was before her, her shoulders gripped tightly in his hands. "You wish to speak of cruelty, Christine! Of cruelty! You know nothing of cruelty!" The tears that had been welling in her eyes now fell slowly down her face, but Erik did not notice, blinded as he was by his rage. "Only once in my life have I loved. Once! Now look what my love has won me! Loving only destroyed what little heart I had to begin with! If you want answers to your questions Christine, then I suggest that you ask them of men who are capable of answering them! I am not now, nor will I ever be the Viscount de Chagny! Not all are so lucky as to be born to perfection."

He made a move to release her, but Christine's hands instantly gripped his upon her shoulders, trapping him there. Her face turned venomous. "Do not presume that my life with Raoul was perfection."

Erik's skin turned cold beneath her hands.

"What did he do to you?"

Christine looked at him, puzzled. "What do you mean?"

Erik tightened his grip on her. "I am not in the mood for this. Tell me now...what did that boy do to you!"

Christine paled. Could he possibly know?

"Answer me Christine! I heard you cry out in your sleep! You begged Raoul to stop hurting you!"

No...he didn't.

That dream. It had played over in her mind constantly over the past few days. There had been few dangerous instances where she had thought she was trapped in some sort of horrific reality, imprisoned forever in her pain.

"He did nothing but care for me when I needed him." She bit out. "That is all you ever need know."

Erik ground his teeth. "Ah yes, the sainted Raoul de Chagny."

Christine tried miserably to wrench herself from his grasp. "How dare you! He was my husband! Have you no respect for the dead?"

With a roar Erik brought her face within inches of his own. "As he respected me!" Christine winced under his hard grasp and angry voice. "As he respected me! How many times did he call me a monster to your face, Christine! How many times did he call me a thing? A thing, Christine!" He shook her and she let out a small cry. "Now tell me, how many times did you agree with him!"

She was trembling. "Erik...Erik, stop, please. Please."

It was her soft 'please' that woke him from his rage induced trance. Erik's eyes cleared, his muscles relaxed, and his breathing slowed. As soon as his fury had come, it had left, leaving hurt and anguish in its wake. Gently, he released her.

"Go to sleep, Christine, he said s"oftly. "You need rest."

He turned to go, but her voice, soft and firm, as if she had never been crying, once more called him back.

"One, was my father."

Erik stopped, her meaning unclear to him.

"Your father?" he asked, without turning around.

"My father," she went on. "And the second..."

"Twice in my life I have had love ripped away from me!"

He had walked into the grand foyer just in time to hear her utter those soul crushing words. Two loves...her father, obviously...

...and Raoul.

"... was you."

His breath seized. Two loves...her father and...her father and..."

"Christine," he whispered, the longing in his voice erasing the memory of his earlier anger. "Christine..." He turned toward her, his expression fathomless, his eyes desperate.

She looked up at him, as regal as a queen. "Leave me."

Erik looked at her, confused. "Christine?"

"Get out!"

There was no mistaking her meaning that time. He continued standing there, nonetheless, his gaze riveted to her.

"Did you not understand me, Erik! Leave me! I have no desire to see you right now. The man that stands before me now is cold and uncaring...a poor substitute for the angel that I once knew. He had a heart that made even the darkness warm...he had a heart that made the darkness so, so beautiful." For a moment, Christine's eyes glazed over, lost in a bittersweet, long ago memory. All too quickly though, her anger returned. "Your very presence mocks my memories!"

Without a word, Erik spun around and left. Her voice, her anguish, her was all too much for him. He needed to go out of that room, out of the fatal lure of his past...

She was still sobbing when Magda came to her an hour later.

It had taking a lot of coaxing on Magda's part to get Christine to leave her bedroom. While the young girl had rested all day, Magda had been preparing a surprise of sorts for her. She had realized that Christine had never really had an opportunity to mourn the passing of her husbandmade painful by the fact that no body would ever be found. The young girl had also been denied the comfort of a priest. None of the gypsies were Christian and the Master never showed an interest in having a religious presence come into the home.

The chapel had lain forgotten for years. It was the one part of the massive mansion that the Baron had not renovated, leaving it covered with cobwebs and neglect. It had been almost impossible to clean. Underneath all the grime however, Magda had found a place of profound peace and beauty. Everything was made of gray marble, with two large columns on either side of an altar. Large angels were carved into the ceiling, and in the center of it all hung a cross, upon which a young man was nailed. Magda had found herself staring at the man's face on a number of occasions. Even surrounded by the brutality and ugliness of his death, his eyes had seemed to convey no pain. There was hope buried in their depths. Hope and understanding.

All afternoon she had cleaned and readied the chapel, and now she almost couldn't contain her excitement as she led Christine to the large, forgotten part of the mansion. The poor girl had been crying when she found her, and had blamed her tears on the after-effects of the laudanum. Magda wanted more than anything to see her find some peace.

Go down the hal"l and turn to your'll find it there through the double wood doors."

Christine frowned. "You aren't coming with me?"

Magda shook her head. " is something that you must see for yourself."

"What is it?" Christine's frown deepened. What was this all about?

Magda almost laughed at the nervousness in the girl's voice. It made her seem even younger than her nineteen years.

"All that I will say is that it is something that I hope shall help you to overcome your burdens over the past months."

Christine was still skeptical, but Magda's smile soothed her fears. Now if only her aching body could so easily be put to rest. With a hesitant breath, she left Magda behind and walked down the icy hall. It was obvious that this part of the estate had been ignored. She wondered why?

Looming before her were two of the largest doors that she had ever seen. Wood...dark, polished wood with intricate carvings in them toward the ceiling there were relieves of angels, dazzling in their beauty and elegance. As her eyes traveled downward, they found the sky forming trees and in the of every imaginable shape bloomed into the hardwood. Toward the floor, fire raged and faces were screaming...frozen in time. Hell...devouring its victims and their souls.

Crossing herself, Christine pushed the heavy door, not knowing whether she would be stepping into heaven or hell...

...glory awaited on the other side.

Beyond the doors was a chapel, small and perfect and absolutely glorious. Stained glass windows on either side of the room depicted the saints, shining with color and wonder, and reflected the glow of the dozens of candles that were lit around the room. A sense of peace pervaded the entire space, and Christine could not help but fall to her knees before the altar. Her heart swelled and tears once again filled her eyes.

Had Magda done all of this...for her?

Countless times Christine had felt bitterness fill her over the fact that Raoul had never had a proper funeral...a service to at least celebrate the goodness of his life and the light that he had brought into hers...even if their short time together had been covered many moments in darkness. She had loved him for being the caring man that he was, for staying by her through her darkest hours, and for being there for her, despite the truth that he knead known in his heart. He had never let his duty to her sway...even if the allegiance of her own heart had lain elsewhere.

Perhaps because she was a woman herself, Magda had known that Christine needed this...needed the comfort of a place to sift through her thoughts.

"Please, Lord," she prayed quietly. "Stay by my me."

The silence of the room calmed and comforted her. Truly, it was beautiful and she had no idea how she could ever repay Magda's kindness. Christine prayed with every ounce of piety that she possessed, begging God for strength, for control, and for courage. Oh how she prayed for courage. She was going to need it, she knew. Now, more than ever.

It was then that her prayers turned elsewhere...devoted to the entire section of her mind that was cloaked by the dark, forbidden beauty of one man's soul, of one man's eyes, of one man's music, of one man's words, of one man's voice...

"I had almost forgotten," spoke a voice choked with emotion, "how beautiful you looked bathed in candlelight."

By the time she turned around, Erik was inches from her.


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 13 of 38

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