Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 23 of 38

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For several, long, terrible moments, neither man moved. The room had grown insufferably hot...or was it that it had become unbearably cold? Each man's breathing was labored, their nerves unraveling as tension choked them, cutting off the sweet comfort of air and certainty and filling their brains with fear and delusion. That hateful, awful letter stared back at them, mocking them, laughing at them.

"I'm going to Paris."

Erik's voice was low and even The statement was made with easy finality, as if he had announced that he were going for a stroll in the gardens, or that he would prefer toast with his eggs, or that he should like to wear a blue vest today instead of a black one. In truth, the decision had been as simple as all that. Whatever had to be done to protect Christine, he would do. He would leave for Paris this very instant.

It took Roman a moment to absorb what he had said. "...Paris." He slowly pulled the letter from Erik's hand and read over it once, twice, a thousand times more. "You can't possibly be serious. This letter," he slashed the air in front of Erik's face with it, his voice rising in time with his frustration, "is nothing but a lie! Raoul de Chagny is dead! He is dead and what's more Sir, you know that he's dead!"

Erik ripped the paper from Roman's hand and stuffed it into his trouser pocket. He couldn't decide whether to be distraught or enraged...or both, and the baffled emotions manifested themselves in white knuckled confusion. He pressed his fists to his eyes. "I know...I know...but, but Roman..." Erik's voice had lowered to a whisper. "What if-what if he is? Alive, that is."

Roman's eyes widened. "Have you lost your mind?" Propriety be damned, some things were not meant to be hidden under fear and politeness.

Erik gave a desperate sigh and turned on his heel, stalking over to his large desk, kicking through the debris on the floor.

Roman was not about to be ignored.

"Baron, that letter carried absolutely no proof that de Chagny lived-no signet ring, no signed statement from him-nothing! Burn the letter, get Christine, and leave this place!" Was it so hard to see! This letter could be a blessing in disguise! A warning that the Commune was at their backs. They could all have a head start leaving the country...

Erik's back went rigid. "No...there was no proof that he is alive...but there is no proof that he is dead either."

Roman shrugged, frustrated. "Unless of course you care to remember the fact that Christine saw him get shot!"

Erik turned. "Yes Roman, she saw him shot...but she did not see him die." Roman's eyes shot daggers of disapproval, and it was all that he could do to not tear the entire room apart in his rage...not that there was much left to destroy. "I would suggest you not look at me as such, Roman, or you will end up even worse than Raoul de Chagny." Erik's voice was a barely contained snarl.

Roman held his gaze, unwavering.

Erik bit his lip, drawing blood. "I know! I know, that de Chagny is probably dead, I know! I know, that this is probably nothing but a ruse to get her back to Paris. I know! I'm not an idiot, Roman!"

Roman started to speak but Erik cut him off.

"But as long as he could be alive, if I ignore this letter, I am responsible for his death. Every tear that Christine sheds on his behalf will be my fault. Every hour in painful mourning that she spends on his memory will be my doing!" His voice had grown violent. "I refuse to waste away with guilt because of that son of a bitch!" With a brutal sweep of his arm, Erik cleared his desk of the few items that remained.

Roman stood stock-still. "Why...why do you believe that she will mourn so desperately? She will mourn as a wife should mourn, but it's you that she loves."

Erik almost had to laugh. Roman made the statement with such blind conviction, such easy faith...he ignored him. "You won't tell Christine of this. Having her worry will do me no good. I will leave after dark tonight. I will make sure-"

"No!" Roman was going desperate. "If you go, you will die. If you die, we will all be lost. The Commune will raid the estate, and we will be at their mercy. We have no band anymore, no family to accept us...we were abandoned when we came here." Erik sobered as Roman continued. "Nor do we have any place in Parisian society. For the love of all that is holy, Sir..." Roman hesitated, as if weighing whether or not to reveal the weight on his mind. "...Magda. Magda isshe's g...oing to give me a child. She is expecting. I don't want to bury my wife and child. If you die, so will we. The basements of the Opera House are sure to be nothing but a death trap.

For a moment, Roman would have sworn that a vicious rage... or was it jealousy, had flickered in the Baron's eyes. It passed in but a moment though, and Erik gave a weak smile. "Yes, I suppose they are...I would know better than most."

"If you go, I am going with you."

He shook his head. "Roman, no."

"But you-"

"Roman, no!" The boom of Erik's voice filled the large space. From the bottom drawer of his desk, he produced a sealed document and handed it to Roman. "You are to take Christine, Magda, and the rest of the household to England. I have a solicitor there, James Bronson, who handles over half of my fortune. You will give this to him"

"Baron, no--"

"You will give this letter to him, and it will be your proof that you are in fact Roman Majekt and are there on my behalf. You are the lone person that I have designated to be able to take charge of the funds."

For a moment, Roman was speechless. "Sir, I cannot-I cannot abandon you to death while I take control of," his speech faulted for a moment, "millions of francs."

Erik shook his head. "You will. You will because you care for Christine. You will because you know that I care for Christine. You will because you love Magda. And you will because now you will have a son or daughter that will need a father to build a life for them...I...I never knew the love of a father."

Roman felt emotion well up in him, and he could not decide whether it was because of the mention of his future child, or the fact that the Baron had just entrusted him with his most prized possession-Christine. His voice was soft and low. "I don't know why you are doing this. She loves you. If you wish to save her from a lifetime of mourning then you will stay, not pursue this madness. Only martyrs go looking for-"

"She loves de Chagny," Erik bit out. "And I realize now that I cannot fault her for it."

Roman wanted to smack the man. "She loves you! Not de Chagny. You!"

"Do not tell me what she feels!" Erik's pain exploded from him. "I don't need you to coddle me, Roman! I allowed my absurd pride to blind me. I made the mistake of simply expecting that she would want this life with me, that she would want my children, that she would want me to make her a mother..."

The color started to drain from Roman's face. "Sir-"

"And she sobbed Roman! She cried and shook and begged me not to speak of a child!"

Roman felt his own rage begin to boil over. "You mentioned a child? And she...oh no, Sir..."

He was torn; torn between telling the Baron the truth, that Christine's pain was only from the fact that she had lost her child, and the fact that he had sworn never to speak of it.

Clear, icy composure settled over Erik. "I am going to Paris. Delay telling Christine as long as possible. Hopefully I shall be able to pay them off, a bribe maybe-then I can join you in England. But whatever you do, leave here before the Commune comes. If I do not survive-"

"No!" Roman snapped. To hell with Christine and his promises to her. "Baron-wait right here! Do not move from this room! Do not move!"

And with that, Roman ran.

Christine was sitting by her window, her eyes still swollen from tears, when she heard the doors to her room open violently with a slam against the wall. In the threshold, stood breathless and clearly agitated Roman.

"Christine, Are you out of your bloody mind!"

Her head snapped toward Roman's infuriated voice.

"Roman what-"

"What the hell is wrong with you?"

Christine's mouth hung open. He crossed the room in four easy strides and instantly pulled her up from the chair. His eyes were wild and looked as if they wished to lop her head right off her body.

"Roman, what is this about?"

He laughed! He laughed right in her face!

"You absolute coward! You stupid child!"

Anger flashed in Christine's eyes along with confusion. "How dare you-"

"You let him believe that the thought of carrying his child was repulsive!"

Christine's heart fell into her stomach. "Roman, Roman I couldn't! I couldn't tell him about the institution, about my past-"

"Fuck your past!" Christine's ears burned against his angry words. "You little fool!" He looked at her, and realized that at the moment, he held as much respect for her as he did for a toadstool-no, he took that back. Toadstools at least knew their place in the world and did what was expected of them. "How dare you subject us all to your little whims of fancy, your ridiculous fears?" His lip curled and he looked just as disgusted as he sounded. "You lost your child...well, so have thousands of other women! You don't have to hurt more people in the process!" She tried to break away from him but his grip on her arm was unrelenting. "This isn't the opera, Christine! Whatever twisted little melodrama you think you're living in, I won't have it! That man has done nothing but love you!"

Christine unsuccessfully tried to stop her tears. Roman's words were like acid, burning through her skin, melting through her defenses, and seeping into her soul. "God, Roman, you know that's not true!"

"You are right," he said with a curt nod, releasing her. "I know that it's not true, and so will he. I completely intend to tell him. My coming here was simply out of courtesy to you, nothing more"

He turned to go, revolted by the sight of her, but she gave a frantic grab at his wrist.

"He will turn from me! As Raoul did!"

Roman shook her off. "Oh do shut up, Christine! You don't actually believe that, and if you do, then perhaps I shall feel sorry for raging at someone obviously too stupid to know any better."

She ignored his razor sharp tongue and the truth that it held, grasping at whatever she could. "Roman, you swore!"

"A sin that I intend to remedy." He strode toward the door, but he threw his gaze back to her. "Are you really so blind? You think that I am 'protecting' you by keeping this, I'm destroying you!" Christine was right on his heels as he made his way toward the library. "That man is ready to die for you. He is throwing his life away for a mere girl who doesn't deserve such devotion! I am absolutely sick of all of this! A masked man and his paramour, a twisted love affair, the deceptions, the one would believe this if I swore it to be true over my mother's grave!"

Roman was almost running down the hall, his head filled with guilt because of his hurtful words to Christine, along with a sense of purpose: to finally get all of this out and in this open.

"Roman!" Christine was running right next to him. "Roman what do you mean he's risking his life!"

He ignored her and kept going.

"Roman please, Roman tell me!"

Without knocking, he entered the library, Christine right behind him. He heard her gasp as she took in the mess, the destruction, the visible evidence of the anguish that she had caused...

...but what was eating away at Roman was what he did not see: the Baron.

The library was empty.

Roman shut his eyes and murmured an ancient prayer in a forgotten Romany tongue.

"Roman?" Christine was trembling, fear and apprehension beginning to strangle her. Something was wrong...something was so very wrong... "Where is he?"

He did not turn to her, nor did he open his eyes. Roman feared that if he looked at her, his rage would simply be uncontrollable.

"Paris," came his throaty whisper.


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 23 of 38

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