Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 19 of 38

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Funny, but it was the cold that woke him. After years of living in the icy dampness of the opera cellars, he had thought himself immune to the effects of a simple chill. Yet Erik's eyes opened, the frigid air forcing him from his dreams, just in time to hear the clock strike three times...

One...two...three in the morning....

His skin puckered with small bumps of gooseflesh, raised by the kiss of the chill night air. forty years he could never recall having goose bumps...

Perhaps it was because in forty years his body had never known such warmth to compare to this cold ...

Christine lay asleep against his chest. The places where her body touched his were the only fortunate areas of flesh free from the chill.

The fire had long ago burned out, but even in the darkness of the room he could see her, could see every freckle on her bare shoulders, every mussed curl in her hair... She lay naked, her scarred cheek pressed against him, her breath fluttering over his chest. Her lips were still a deep shade of pink from his kisses; the pale skin of her hips bore bruises from where his fingers had clutched her body to his own. Christine's right arm was thrown protectively around his stomach, and her right leg was entwined rather intimately with his.

He almost had to laugh...they had been so exhausted that both had fallen into a slumber upon the floor of a parlor.

Christine sighed against him and Erik let his eyes fall closed. Admittedly, a part of him was dreadfully uncomfortable on the floor, but the reassurance of Christine's warm body against his was bliss enough to last him for eternity. His throat burned and tears threatened to spill.

How many times had he had this dream? This cruel apparition? Where Christine lay in his arms, sated and spent, her lips twisted in a knowing smile as she slept? How many times in his dreams had he loved her? How many times in his dreams had he held her? How many times had that warmth been cruelly torn from him as he had awakened to the emptiness of his life? Of his reality?

Christine tightened her arm around his midsection, and Erik felt his stomach flutter.

This was no dream.

It had all been real...It had all been his...all was his, a memory that he would cherish until the end of all time. Every sigh, every caress, every gasp and every moment of absolute rapture that had crossed Christine's face as he had made love to her...was his. More precious than life...these moments were so much more...they were immortality.

"Erik... Her voice was a throaty whisper a"gainst his chest. "Erik..."

He lifted his head to see her sleep filled eyes staring at him. Gently, he ran his fingers through her beautiful felt like Heaven against his skin.

"Are you cold, Christine?" His own voice was weak from the aftereffects of their passion.

Christine nodded slowly, pressing a kiss to the light smattering of hair that covered the top of his chest. She inhaled deeply, the scent of his skin filling and comforting her. He smelt of warmth and familiarity ...she inhaled again before pressing her lips once more to him. Part of her didn't want to move. The reality of lying in this man's embrace was almost too much for her, and she was terrified to so much as disturb the air in the room.

He was so solid beneath her. So solid, so real, and so safe. Not safe the way Raoul had been...Raoul had been safe in the sense that she would never have to worry about him losing his temper or doing anything other than what was absolutely honorable and good. Erik, on the other hand, was safe in that, no matter how long she lived, she would always know that when she looked at him she could never love someone more.

She loved him.

Loved him.

Loved him.

Loved him...

This dark angel beneath her, scarred on both face and soul, possessor of a mind that had at times been shrouded in such blackness that she could not help but be frightened...and she loved him...beyond reason.

Erik shifted beneath her and sat up, wrapping his arms about her and kissing her hair. Christine melted into his embrace, suddenly remembering that she had been cold. He stood, helping her up with him. In a rush, all of Christine's modesty returned at the realization that they stood completely naked before each other. Not even the darkness offered any comfort; she knew that Erik's eyesight was uncanny.

"No," he rasped when she made a move to cover herself. Firmly holding her shoulders, Erik allowed his gaze to sweep over her body in a move so bold that he never would have tried before now. A furious blush rose over Christine's cheeks, but she couldn't help but feel a rush of womanly pride as she heard his breathing go shallow. In truth, they had been so caught up in...their moment...that simple pleasures such as merely looking had fallen by the wayside.

"Come," he said quickly, tearing his eyes from her before his desire once again forced them to the floor. Retrieving their discarded clothing, Erik slipped his own robe on before taking his time to wrap Christine's around her.

"I shall have to procure a robe of silk for you," he moaned against her throat, "though I fear even that would be rough against your skin." As if to prove his point, Erik dragged his lips down her neck, happily tasting the warmth and softness that he found there.

Christine smiled shyly at the compliment, though it certainly wasn't the first Erik had ever given her. Where had the bold woman disappeared to! The one who had been all too happy to fall into a passionate embrace upon the floor of a parlor!

Erik scooped her up into his arms, not trusting her legs to carry her, and quite frankly, relishing every moment of contact that he could steal.

Christine allowed her head to nestle against his shoulder. The bold woman was now replaced by the content one...the one who simply wanted to fall asleep within the embrace of the man that she...

...that she loved.

For a brief moment, pain nipped at her heart. She could not help of think of her poor Raoul, her poor, beloved, childhood friend...He had deserved so much more...he had deserved to be loved like this.

Erik had hesitated when he had first entered the upstairs hallway. Did he dare presume to bring her to his own bedroom? Or would she wish to sleep alone? Within the comfort of her own bed? The image of her head resting against his shoulder-her lips in a small smile, her eyes filled with beautiful clarity-made the decision for him.

He nudged open the door to his own bedroom.

Setting Christine on her feet, he turned from her briefly to light a large candelabra that allowed a small glow of light to fill the pitch dark. Returning to her, he pushed the robe from her body and let it fall to the floor before encircling her waist with his hands and kissing her gently. She tilted her chin up and met his lips, the warm, comforting, easy passion that flowed between them almost too fragile and sweet to be believed. Taking his face in her hands, Christine pressed a kiss to the ravaged side. Erik gasped. His mask still lay in the parlor, forgotten. Her touch had made him forgot even the horror of his face...

"How can you even..."

But she shushed him with another quick kiss to the lips before moving once more to his face.

"Yes, Erik...your face is shocking." Her voice was feather light as she traced the devastated flesh with her lips. "But...I'm not even sure how...but, it's yours and that makes it just so...beautiful. You are so beautiful. What you make me feel, is beautiful. Terrifying," she admitted with a quiet laugh, "but beautiful."

He pulled her into his arms with a desperateness that shook him. Her fingers curled against his back and his chest heaved as the sobs that he had held in check for so long finally exploded from his lungs. Christine stiffened-the sound of Erik crying greatly unnerved her-but she held tightly, allowing him to bury his face in her hair and let his tears fall. His shoulders only shook with more violence as she began to hum a soft melody against his ear.

Erik slumped against her, and Christine knew that she would not be able to hold his weight. With much effort, she helped him over to his bed. It was enormous, with four posts and a canopy of heavy velvet, such a dark green that it was nearly black. The coverlet that she pulled back matched the green of the canopy and curtains, and yet it seemed to reflect a thousand colors, even in the dim light of the room. The sheets beneath were a rich cream hue and as soft as the silk of his Persian robe. Removing it, Christine instructed him to lie down. He obeyed, and when she climbed into the bed with him, he gasped through his tears. She was so warm and felt so perfect lying in his bed...lying in...their bed?

Christine settled onto her back as Erik lay beside her, his face cradled in her neck as he clutched her to him and cried. She knew what this must be doing to him, to show such weakness before her, and she softly tousled his hair with her fingers as he spent himself by weeping out all of his agony.

How could she be so understanding? How could she be so loving? He was a murderer...he was a the name of his anger he had done things from Belgium to Persia that should divest Christine of her soul with there horror...

...and still she held him.

He had treated her as nothing more than a servant when she had first come here, allowing Amanda to strut in front of her, openly showing his disdain...

...and still she held him.

"Christine..." he gasped against her. "Christine...forgive me, Christine..."

She entwined her fingers with his and squeezed his hand as her own tears began to fall. It was her own way of begging, her own way of apologizing...Forgive me Erik.

They remained like that, safe within the other's embrace, for quite some time. Eventually, their tears passed with the sweet reality of their present, and Christine slipped into a peaceful slumber. Erik however, remained awake for quiet some time, and he found himself studying her rather intensely. She hadn't been anything like his former mistresses. The majority he couldn't even recall by name, they had been merely fleeting trysts, meant only to debase and mock love. Perhaps he had pleased the woman with his touch-some had certainly been good at acting the part-but he couldn't remember...he didn't care.

Amanda Morrigan however, stuck out in his mind.

Amanda had been a skillful lover, that he could not deny, but the experience had always been cold. Within the other women he had easily detected their greed and indifference. They had been nothing but pretty, empty creatures. He had expected just as much from the exceptionally beautiful Mademoiselle Morrigan. It hadn't taken long however for him to realize...behind Amanda's cold aloofness did not lie simply greed and indifference. Erik was not fooling himself, she was certainly greedy and certainly indifferent about a great many things in her life...but there had been something else.

There had been incredible hatred and fury.there had... been incredible sadness.

She had been ice to her very core...but ice always concealed something else.

Christine had been warmth...a warmth like he had never known. Even in the act itself there had been purity and reverence...Her eyes had radiated acceptance and welcome...her heart was his home. Her soul was his own.

As the first hints of dawn began to paint themselves across the dark sky, Erik pressed his lips to Christine's temple before finally allowing his weary eyes to close.

It was only a matter of moments before he knew peace.

Magda was still smiling as she began to prepare that afternoon's lunch. The Baron had risen exceptionally late this morning, his eyes slightly dark, but his skin a rosy color she had never expected to see on such a pale man. His hair had been a delightful mess, and she would have sworn him to be at least ten years younger.

Upon his face had been a black mask...not the one he usually wore.

Nothing exceptionally unusual...but then she had found his white mask upon the floor of the downstairs parlor...along with several long pieces of plain, blue ribbon...she had recognized them as the ties to one of Christine's nightgowns.

At first, she had been absolutely appalled. The two of them! In the parlor! With Christine still as weak as she was...and in the parlor!

But then she had seen the Baron, who had wished her good morning with so much unrestrained gladness that she suspected men wouldn't even use to greet their mothers. He had radiated happiness.

Now, kneading dough upon the large black countertop, Magda smiled once more. She had the sneaking suspicion that Christine was still a bed other than her own.

The girl would probably be famished upon waking.

"Baron." Roman entered the Master's library to find the man writing furiously in a large book, clothed in a long black Persian robe, an equally black mask covering the right side of his face.

"Roman! Enter...what can I do for you?"

Roman raised his eyebrows at the...was that cheer in the man's voice? Baron Von Alsing was many things...cheerful had never been one of them.

"Actually Sir, I came to ask you to open your bedroom for me. The door is locked and it is far past time for me to see to setting out your wardrobe and toilet for the day."

Erik instantly stopped writing.

"Er, Roman...that's...that's not necessary...I wouldn't want you"

For a moment, Roman stood confused. The Master's room was never was more common for the library to be locked than his bedroom...and usually the man demanded to be up and fully dressed by was now nearly twelve. Plus he always wore a white mask, never a black, and he certainly never appeared in a robe and...

Roman's eye's widened in clarity. He had seen enough men in his lifetime that appeared as Erik did now...a high color in their cheeks, warm eyes, light voice, a carefree air about them. It was always after...after...

The corners of his lips rose.

"I beg your indulgence Sir, but, what you said you 'wouldn't want me to do,'...that wouldn't involve...waking Christine...would it?

Erik's hand instantly stilled.

Roman almost had to suppress a laugh. Was that a smile on the man's face?

Erik said nothing.

Roman smiled. "Perhaps some breakfast, Sir? Or lunch? It certainly is late enough...

Magda balanced Christine's tea in one hand while taking a pin from her hair with the other. The Baron's bedroom was locked, but no self respecting gypsy girl went through her adolescence without learning how to pick a lock.

She had just come from Christine's she suspected, not only was no one there, but the bed was completely unmade. Magda laughed. Obviously the girl had never snuck around with men in her youth, learning how to properly make a bed look innocent...

She blushed, recalling her own rather...entertaining youth. After her almost-marriage at 13, she had run around with various men, praying to fall in love with one of them, knowing that if she did not, she would inevitably wind up in another arranged marriage of her parents choosing. True, she had fond memories, but they were nothing compared to what she had now.

Her life had started the day that Roman had walked into it.

Magda gave a satisfied smile as she heard the lock click. Replacing the pin in her hair, she tiptoed in. The curtains were drawn, but light still streamed into the room.

In the center of the Master's bed lay a tangled mess of crème colored sheets and mahogany curls.

Christine looked sinfully comfortable.

"Christine." Magda's voice was gentle but insistent. "Christine...Christine dear, it's nearly noon. I thought you might like some tea. Christine..."

In the haze of her sleep, Christine though she heard someone calling out to her. At the moment she really didn't care, her body was much too happy lying where it was.


There was that voice again! She turned over and grumbled. The light in the room had just dramatically increased.

Magda stepped back from the now open curtain. "Christine...your tea is going to get cold."

Christine's eyes shot open. She recognized that voice.

Magda...damn it.

Perhaps there was a way to explain being in Erik's bed...

Christine shifted beneath the covers.

There was certainly no way to explain being naked in Erik's bed...

Taking a breath, preparing herself for the onslaught, she sat up, careful to keep the cover about her shoulders. She did not expect to see Magda smiling warmly at her.

"You've nearly slept the day away Christine. The Baron has been up for quite some time."

"Magda! I...Magda, I just...last night I...we..." Christine sighed and bit her lip.

Magda smiled and handed her the tea. "Drink, the ginger in it will help wash the sleepiness away." She regarded Christine warmly. "Don't bite your lip it will only...Christine dear, are there bruises on your lips?"

"There are certainly no bruises on my hips!" After a moment of watching Magda unsuccessfully control a laugh, the color drained from Christine's face as she realized her slip of tongue. "Um...lips. There are certainly no bruises on my, um...lips. I have just simply been biting them...again."

Magda rolled her eyes. "I'll make a note to bring you a cloth soaked in warm water for the bruises that certainly aren't on your hips. And since they don't exist, I certainly wouldn't need to tell you that bruises of that nature should fade within the day."

Christine's eyes widened.

Magda scoffed. "For pity's sake, I'm only twenty-four, girl! I still know how to have a bit of fun."

Paris, France

Storm clouds still hung over the capital city, casting shadows even in the light of the early afternoon. Amanda pulled her fur stole closer to chase away the chill in the air. It had poured rain all last night and the air was still ripe with the cool moisture.

She marveled at how...normal Paris seemed. Even with the Commune in control, life went on. The market was full, people were busy and passing by in droves...

Were it not for the ominous darkness that surrounded the Opera House and the obvious absence of many noble families, it might have been any other day under the emperor...

Ha! The thought was an amusing one. Laurent couldn't properly run a government if he were possessed by the ghost of Napoleon himself. Laurent couldn't run a café...!

It was true, his lean face and waving chestnut hair could make women swoon, and the deep green of his eyes could stir the soul, while the sound of his words and his passion and anger could move it...but that was all. Laurent could incite the desire for change, but when it came to actual change...impossible. He was too greedy...he was too stupid.

Amanda frowned, wishing suddenly for a cigarette. Yes, Laurent was useful to her now, just as she was useful to him, but she wasn't sure for how much longer and-

The sight of the Sainte-Chapelle before her made Amanda's pulse quicken. It was one of the most breathtaking churches in all of Paris. Built in the 13th century by Louis IX, it contained fifteen perfect stained glass windows, each one fifty feet high, displaying all of the stories of the Bible from Eden to the Apocalypse...

She hadn't been inside since she was nine years old. She hadn't been inside of any church since she was nine years old.

Dare she...?

Bitterly, Amanda shut her eyes. The thought of why she was going to Laurent's home was all the reminder she needed:

There is no God...

She turned her back to the great stone structure, blocking the pain that suddenly filled her with thoughts of the events that would happen over the next week. Soon they all would have more than they could have ever dreamed.

...and even if there is, I have no use for men who have no use for me...


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 19 of 38

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