Continuing Tales

Demons

A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 17 of 38

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Demons

Christine stared at the small black book in Roman's hands with an equal mix of horror and outrage.

"I'm so sorry, Christine." Roman's voice was barely above a whisper. She had remained stone-faced throughout his confession, her cheeks turning a sickly, yellow color when he had produced the actual book.

She nodded, the tears finally cascading down her face, not sure whether his apology was in response his violation of her privacy, or for the cruel events that he now knew to mar her life.

"I know about the Baron...er, Erik, as well. Mademoiselle Giry told me about him." Christine's face once again grew angry at the mention of her friend. "She...she was only trying to help, Christine. The poor girl was still in mourning for you when I came across her. Alm"ost immediately, the anger upon Christine's face softened into a quiet sadness. "I know that you left him that night, dressed in a wedding gown meant to make you his bride, the opera house in chaos above you." If there were traces of anger in Roman's voice, Christine did not notice, so violent was her own explosion of rage.

"And what would you have done! I loved Raoul de Chagny...I loved them both! Erik had him hanging in a noose! A hangman's noose, Roman! As if Raoul were nothing more than a common criminal to be garroted! He was insane that night! My love for him was drowned by my terror! By my pain! To see a man that I had loved lose his mind to the point of murder..."

She took a breath, trying to calm herself.

"Afterwards, every woman in Paris tried to imagine what it was like. Every countess, every duchess, every proper societal matron to whose class I then belonged...I still hear their voices." She mimicked them with bitterness. " 'Oh how dreadful Christine! Shocking Christine! Really my dear girl, how frightful!' They pretended to know...but they could never know what it was like, to abandon someone you love to his own hatred." Her voice grew distant. "I Abandoned him with my cowardice... I lost my soul in those caverns!"

Roman sat beside her on the chaise, and Christine instantly clung to him, desperate for any sort of comfort.

"When he sent me away, I did not have the strength to refuse. To my everlasting shame...I did not have the strength to refuse." Her voice softened considerably, her former anguish slowly dissipating. "I convinced myself that if I married Raoul, everything would be better...that all of my pain would go away."

"But it didn't," he whispered.

She shook her head. "I couldn't sleep at night; I couldn't eat during the day. At times I pitied Erik, but mostly, I pitied myself. I had spit in the face of love, and love was giving me my due punishment. I don't remember much of that year, only occasional flashes. The doctors blamed my condition on extreme mental stress...Oh Roman, I was dying of love for him!"

Roman pulled her tighter to him as she started gasping and choking on her sobs. "I loved him so!...And I love him still...Roman...and I was dying of love for him, I...If you only knew how beautiful he was...when he let me kiss him, that night. And he cried...my angel cried!" Roman swallowed hard, trying to hold his own composure as the agony of the poor child in his arms flowed through him...an agony that had burdened her for so long ."At night I would dream of him, dream of Raoul taking me away from him...and I cried alone."

She was trembling now, and Roman stroked her hair. It was strange, but in comforting her, he found a small measure of peace himself.

"What of the Viscount?" He asked gently.

Christine closed her eyes against a fresh wave of tears. "I did love him, I really did...but it wasn't long before I realized that I would always pity my husband more than I could love him. He was a good man, better than most. He stayed with me long after most men would have given up...long after I started to..."

"It's all right, Christine, you don't have to..."

"Ironic, isn't it?" She continued with a laugh that had nothing to do with humor. "It was the death of my child that brought me from my darkness. A nightmare woke me from my nightmare. Raoul and I thought that if we could only start a family..."

Roman kissed her forehead softly. Fresh memories of his mother's death, of the violence of his young life came flooding back to him. He knew exactly what it was to be lost in a prison of your own sorrow. Gently, he sat Christine up, placing the small black diary in her hands.

"When will you tell the Baron?"

For a long while, she seemed to stare into nothingness. Her eyes were swollen from crying, but now free of tears. A steady look of resolve came on to her face, and her eyes danced with warring emotions.

She was weighing her options.

"Never," came her small voice.

Roman's eyes widened. 'Christine, he deserves to at least know-"

"Never." It was louder this time. "If he knows, he will treat me as everyone else did...like a madwoman. Everything that I say, everything that I do, every smile, every laugh, every tear, will have a double meaning for him until the day I die. He will always wonder if it is me, or the darkness." She paused for a moment. "Even Raoul could not see past it, even as I was prepared to step back into the light."

Roman held his tongue. He had promised himself that this would be her decision, her choice. Still something seemed so wrong...

Slowly, she rose from her seat, taking a moment to steady her aching legs. He watched as she made her way to the large fireplace, step by step, as if walking to a grave. Then, as gently as she would lay down a babe, she allowed the book to fall from her hands. Flames instantly engulfed it, the pages blackening and curling with the heat, the leather binding melting and warping in the inferno before her.

Hell reclaimed the agonies it had wreaked upon her.

"Swear to me, Roman. He must never know."


Rain pelted violently against the large windows, the weather just as restless as the young girl lying in the bed. Christine tossed and turned, her emotions denying her the sleep that she so desperately craved. The linen sheets twisted around her arms and legs, pulling her back from the dreaming whenever she seemed to approach it. Even her nightgown seemed to wrap its way around her body, conspiring with the sheets to bind her to the waking.

Somewhere in the house, a clock chimed the midnight hour .


Midnight.

It had been hours since he had come from that room, from Christine's willing arms, and still Erik's blood flowed uncomfortably through his body. He was lying on top of his still made bed, the dying fire casting long shadows throughout the dark room. Still dressed, save for the shirt of which he had divested himself to feel the lush coverlet on his back Erik stared blankly at the ceiling, resigning himself to the fact that he would find no sleep tonight.

In all his fantasies he had never imagined what it would actually be like to kiss her in passion, to feel her legs wrapped around his own, to hear her moan because of something that he was doing. He might as well have been a virgin...nothing and no one could ever prepare him for Christine. It had shaken him to the very core. Though a part of him had wanted to tell Magda and Roman to go and mind their own bloody business, another part had been desperate to run from that room.

She loved him.

Did she love him?

To hold her in his arms, to physically love her as well as emotionally would completely ravage the fašade he had created and tear up the old scars that he had thought had healed.

He was wrong. Those wounds were fresh...and they were still bleeding.

With a swift curse, Erik swung his legs over the side of his bed, stalking across the room to a small table.

Another round of colorful words followed when he realized that his decanter was completely empty of any liquor.


The sound of the chiming clock echoed through Christine's mind. Her eyes shot open to stare into the blackness of the night. Sleep was a distant memory. Her brain was clogged with images of Erik, of Roman, of that diary. She had hated Roman for reading it, for exposing her for the coward and weakling that she was. Yet a part of her knew that Roman had only done what Meg had allowed him to do.

Meg! Her dear friend, still in Paris, still surrounded by the danger of the Commune. Had she gone back for that diary! Meg alone among her friends had known what had happened to her over the past year. She had been witness to it all.

Christine sat up. Roman would not tell Erik, she knew that. His honor would never allow it. She had confessed things to him today that no one had ever heard before...even she had been surprised by some of the things that had come barreling out of the darkest regions of her mind.

She loved Erik...she loved him, and she would have let him take her today on that chaise had Magda not walked in on them.

She loved him, but more than that, she realized that she wanted him to love her. Her arrogance and her insolence and every childish deed that she had ever done for the sake of the pride of Christine Daae', all fell by the wayside in light of this one, simple truth:

She would die if he did not love her.

She had literally begged him to take her...he had said nothing.

Gingerly, Christine stepped out of the bed. She slipped a robe over her nightgown and tied the sash around her waist. Staying in this room any longer would only drive her out of her mind. She needed to shake the awful restlessness from her body and her spirit...needed to do something, anything, to occupy her thoughts

Step by careful step she walked from the bedroom, clutching at the wall when her ankles became weak, taking deep breaths when her knees started to shake. Shadows loomed throughout the dark hallway, seeming to move all around her. They mocked her, like a forest thick with mystery and fear, and on more than one occasion, Christine found herself wanting to run back to bed. Only the uncomfortable thought of more pointless tossing and turning kept her going.

When finally, she reached the grand staircase, she breathed a small sigh of relief. Leaning nearly all of her weight on the banister, she easily tiptoed down the stairs, the cool marble of the foyer below a welcome comfort on the tender soles of her feet. They made small tapping sounds as she walked slowly down another hallway. There was a large parlor down here somewhere, one with books that she could rifle through until even memories would not be able to penetrate the haze in her mind.

Leading into the room were two large, white double doors, each with a mythological deity carved into the center. On the left sat Persephone, goddess of spring, surrounded by fruits and flowers. On the right was her husband, Hades, King of the Underworld and Lord of the Dead, his large eyes cast longingly toward the woman beside him.

Entering, Christine was surprised to find a fire was still lit, albeit dying down. She smiled at having been right about this room, for against the left wall was an entire case of books, bathed in the beautiful golden glow of the fire.

"Le Morte D'Arthur," she read aloud, her fingers running gently over the leather spines. "The Decameron," she whispered. "The Prince, Candide..." The spine to Candide was worn and broken. It had been read multiple times.

Christine's eyes widened when she came upon something that she recognized: the three volumes of Dante's Divine Comedy. "Inferno, Purgatorio, and-" She frowned. Where was-

"Paradiso," a voice answered from the shadows.

Christine spun, her yelp of surprise caught somewhere between her heart and her mouth. Erik sat in a corner chair, cloaked almost completely in blackness, Dante's Paradiso resting in his hands. He dropped the book on the chair and stood, and it was as if a shadow merely slipped off of his body. He was still wearing his black trousers, but a Persian robe fell loosely over his shoulders. His mask stared at her menacingly, and his lips were set in a thin line.

"What are you doing here, Christine?" His voice was feral and low.

Tearing her eyes away from the smooth lines of his chest, Christine managed to squeak out an answer. "Couldn't sleep." His skin seemed to glow in the firelight. "What, what are you doing here?"

Erik's eyes remained riveted on her, and fear slinked its way up her spine. Draped in shadows, the fire's reflection burning in his eyes, he looked like the devil himself. He gestured to where he had just been sitting. "Every decanter of brandy in the upstairs of this house seems to be empty. I had to come searching for one."

"I never saw you drink in Paris," she remarked quietly.

That's because I didn"'t," he snapped.

For a moment, hurt marked Christine's face, and he almost regretted it. No...no she had to go back to bed before he did something that they would both regret. He watched as she walked over to where he had been sitting, bending to pick up the unfinished glass of brandy. Erik groaned. Every single curve on her body was visible through the thin nightgown and robe. Her pale arms were bare past the elbows, and her glorious hair was unbound, brushing gracefully along her back and shoulders. His stomach clenched at the thought of those curls lying softly against his chest, as their owner lay gently in his arms...

Curiously, Christine brought the glass to her lips. She had never tried brandy...

It stung! As soon as it hit her tongue she let out a small cry, and Erik smirked. It would certainly be the last time she ever tried hard liquor. She turned to him, and he saw the drops of the warm amber liquid that clung to her lips, glistening in the low light, begging to be kissed, begging to be tasted...

Before he could stop himself, Erik leaned in, capturing her between his upper lip and his tongue. Slowly, he rubbed his lips against hers, marveling at the softness, drowning in this madness. With a cry, Christine threw her arms around her neck and pressed herself to him, sliding her tongue into his mouth, deepening the kiss and moaning. Erik pulled her into the curve of his body, barely restraining the animalistic groan that escaped from him at the sensation of her silk robe against his bare chest. He could very nearly feel her heartbeat as she released his mouth to press desperate kisses along his neck, making sure to swirl her tongue around every patch of skin that she hit.

God give me courage to show you, you are not alone.

The memory cut into his heart like a dagger. Erik pushed her from him, turning away from the beauty of her swollen lips and passion-glazed eyes.

"Erik." Her voice was choked with need. "Erik, I-"

"Go...to...bed." His teeth were clenched and his shoulders heaving under the weight of his desire. For a moment, nothing the room could be heard but the light crackling of the fire. "Christine...go! Go now!"

"Erik." Her voice was calm and even. "Erik." He started shaking as he felt her hand trail lightly up his back. "Erik, please..."

"Please what?" He roared, instantly turning, slamming her back into the wall, his body flush against hers. "Do you even realize the games that you play!" Roughly he grabbed her thigh and pressed himself tightly to her, making sure that the evidence of his desire was painfully obvious between their thin robes. His anger and frustration blocked out the fact that Christine had just moaned, low and thick with longing. "Or have you forgotten what a pitiful creature I am?"

Christine blinked up at him. "Do you know how many nights I wept myself to sleep, wishing to feel you against me? Wishing to feel you..." she leaned forward to kiss the base of his throat, "within me?"

His heart throbbed painfully in his chest and his voice broke. "Christine..."

Hesitantly, she slid her hands inside his robe, brushing gently against his skin. "Please Erik...please don't send me away, not again. However much you think that you frighten me..." She pulled his mask off. "...It isn't true. I have wept oceans from missing your face." Slowly, she guided his hand up to the rapid rise and fall of her chest. "I have wept oceans from wanting to feel you touch me."

Erik's desire exploded inside his bloodstream, destroying his reservations and burning away his pain. There would be no going back, no yesterday, no net to catch them if they fell. Tonight, if she was nothing else, she would be his...

...and he would be hers.

His hips remained locked against hers, but with an infinite amount of gentleness Erik brushed his lips against her mouth. He had had enough sex over the past year to make himself sick. Tonight he would make love to a woman for the first time in his life.

Tears ran down Christine's cheeks at his gesture. Still against the cool mahogany of the wall, he moved against her once more, but with the same gentleness and care that he was lavishing upon her lips. Pleasure exploded throughout her lower body, and she couldn't help but cry out, her voice a breathy sob against his neck.

"Yes," he whispered, moving against her slowly. "You will weep for me tonight, Christine."

Demons

A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 17 of 38

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