Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 36 of 38

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Demons Five Weeks Later

The crypt was relatively small, but still beautiful in its intricate detail and design. Marble cherubs cast adoring gazes upon the aging sarcophagi of at least a dozen of the Pambianci family...of Giovanni and his loved ones. Christine sat in the dimly-lit space, the air in her lungs thick with age and decay. Every morning the old priest would lead her down here, her pale form covered in the black mourning garb of a widow, her eyes sunken with weariness, her jaw resolute with an innate sense of obligation. In a morbid way, she was comforted to be down here, praying quietly within the tomb of those who had touched Erik's life above all others. Giovanni was interred here, as was the tragic Luciana, a martyr before her time. Another daughter of Giovanni's, Angela, was here as well, along with other family members...

Including Amanda.

When Amanda's body had been found that morning, a day which now seemed a lifetime ago, the Parisian police had not known what to make of it. They would never find Laurent Brette or Henri Starre's bodies. The investigation simply concluded that the unfortunate Miss Morrigan had been praying when the stained glass window, for some unknown reason, had shattered. Communists kept the police busy-they had no time to try and figure out why half of Amanda's face had been missing.

Originally, Christine's desire to come to Rome had been purely for Erik's sake. She had wanted to bring him to the one place on Earth where he had known any happiness, where the music and architecture were soothing salves to a wounded soul. Soon however, Christine had seen another purpose.

She had to bury Amanda Morrigan.

She had to bring her back to her family, to her native city...

A place that, like for Erik, was the only home in which she had ever known any real happiness on this Earth.

Christine could not for the life of her explain why. She should have hated Amanda...

...but she found that she could not. It was a piece of knowledge that terrified her to her very core-that if her life had been only slightly different, that she too could have ended up just like Amanda...just like Erik. The woman deserved a measure of dignity, even in death.

Erik would have wanted it that way.

Christine bowed her head, allowing a single tear to glide down her cheek, a graceful arch that left a watery scar in its wake. Erik had barely spoken since that terrible morning in Paris. He rarely left his bed, rarely ate, rarely slept...He just stared out the large window of his bedroom, eyes always on the horizon, watching for something, for someone...

He still did not recognize her, though the doctors told her that his condition was not necessarily permanent. They gave her all the reassurances in the world that one day Erik would be Erik again...

...but she also knew what they did not say. That Erik might just as easily remain trapped within the dark prison of his mind, with fear for sustenance and demons for jailers.

Christine shuddered. It was a torment that she knew all too well.

She looked toward Amanda's casket, a casket that two of Amanda's aunts, Donna and Maria, had arranged to have placed in the family crypt. They had wept bitterly at the news of their niece's death...

...for they had loved her.

"Perhaps you have the upper hand after all, Amanda, Christ"ine said calmly to the silence. "Do you rest in peace, while I live in pain? I think, my unfortunate friend, that you were the lucky one in the end."

She took a shallow breath.

"I do not hate you, you know. I cannot...I cannot hate you. For you loved him." More tears cascaded down Christine's cheeks. "For you loved him, even if it was in madness, you loved him when so many in his life feared and hated him, including..." She bit her lip against a sob. "Including myself, in one of the darker periods of my life."

Christine wiped her eyes. "I left him, you know..." She shook her head. "No, you didn't know. You probably would have shot me through the heart at that very moment if you had..." She sighed.

"Your aunts...your aunts they, well, they loved you very much, Amanda. You weren't so very alone after all. They told me about your mother, about your father...God knows you deserved a happy lot in life than you were given. Perhaps it's because I see so much of Erik in you, of his pain in you, of his..."

Her sobs broke from her freely now.

"Christ, I hope you've found peace. You loved him...and for that you deserve all the Heaven that there is...I would have let him go. Had he told me that he loved you, I would have let him." The truth of that statement crushed her. If Erik had loved Amanda...

"Oh trust me," she said with a faint smile, "I would have fought for him to the death, but I would not have denied him peace..."

She shut her eyes against her pain. "I swear to you, Amanda, I will love him until death, I will love him beyond death. I don't care; even if he remains this way, forcing me to be a widow to a living husband...I will remain with him always. I knew it the moment that I saw the tears in your aunts' will not have died for nothing. Christi"ne looked at the smaller casket beside Amanda's, one that bore the inscription,

Requiescat in Pace, Luciana Sophia

"Neither will you."

For a moment, Christine held her breath, allowing her grief to once more sink into the darker depths of her soul, where it usually stayed. She dried her eyes, crossed herself meekly, and walked away from the shadows of her demons, once more into the light.

Her carriage was waiting for her outside the church. It was a fine vehicle, one of the many items that she had had to purchase when she had arrived in Rome. Securing Erik's money had been rather simple. She had just informed his solicitor that she was Christine Von Alsing...the new Baroness.

The thought that Erik might never awake for them to make the title official was a constant knife through Christine's heart.

The carriage door swung open and an arm reached out to help her in. She ignored it and hauled herself up.

"Honestly, Roman," she said, shutting the door, "you shouldn't even be out, let along trying to help me into a carriage."

Roman rolled his eyes. "Forgive me if I'm not content to rot in my bed back at the estate. It's been well over a month. The pain has almost subsided, and above all, there was no way that I would allow you into the city unescorted."

Christine smiled, a rarity these days, at his concern.

"Besides," he continued, "I don't even know why you insist on coming to this tomb so often. I hope that woman is burning in hell."


"I do! I could have died because of her insanity! She could have left Magda and our child alone in this world. She has already deprived me of my right arm!"

Christine looked at Roman's still bandaged shoulder. She knew how badly mangled the flesh was beneath, and how the doctor had doubted Roman would ever be able to have full use of the armagain, how it might even be impossible for him to carry his child when it was born. For a gypsy, a man who had relied on his hands and his strength all his life, it was a crushing blow.

She deserved so"me dignity in death, Roman. We all do."

"And would she have done the same for you!"

"No!" Christine shot back. "But she would have for Erik...and that is all that matters."

Roman sobered instantly. "As always my Lady, you are grace incarnate."

"Do not call me your 'lady,' Roman. The Viscountess de Chagny is dead. Only Christine remains.

He smiled," his grin a welcome sight in his thin face. "Even so, you are the Baroness Von Alsing."

"That is only for convenience in business matters. There is no validity to the title."

"You are a Baroness in every way that matters!" Roman grabbed her hand, the passion in his voice filling the small space. "Just look at what you have done for all of us! Do we not have a beautiful home? Did you not, a woman all alone, furnish and staff it? Does the Master not have the best doctors in all of Italy? Is his fortune not taken care of? Am I not alive today because of you?" Roman kissed her hand as tears once more fell from the oceans of her eyes. "You have risen above yourself, Christine. I am not sure if I should curse or thank Fate for forcing you to grow before your time, but even dressed in black, you are the light in our lives."

Her voice cracked through her tears. "Roman..."

"Married to him or not, are my Baroness. You are my queen, my angel...and I know you are his as well."

Roman traced the tears falling down her face. "You cry so rarely, Christine."

"I know," she sniffed, furiously wiping the tears from her face. "I hate to cry. It reminds me of my pain."

Roman smiled once more. "I suppose...but it also reminds you that you're alive, does it not?"

He did not allow her to answer. "Where are you having the driver take us anyway?"

"The apothecary," Christine replied. "I've been feeling rather ill lately."

The villa that Christine had purchased for the household was an older structure, which in her eyes only made it more beautiful. A center courtyard held a fountain which could be heard echoing throughout the home's wide, high ceilinged hallways. Warm stuccoed walls stretched up three stories, and the balconies from the uppermost floor offered spectacular views of the city. On nights where the wind was calm, the soft melodies of the street musicians could be heard rising in the air.

It was a small piece of Heaven on least in Magda's eyes.

It was evening now, and she walked the home with a small sense of peace, even in the face of all the pain they had experienced. This home was warm, whereas the estate in Paris had been nothing more than a fortress, cold and dead. This home had the potential to hold such beauty and such joy...

...if only Fate would allow it.

She pressed a hand to her stomach. Roman had survived, he had come back to her. Their child would know joy and happiness, no matter how dark the days ahead seemed. Magda would give her very soul to buy her child light.

It was a thought that kept her strong, a thought that kept her resolute, a thought that-

Magda rounded a corner, only to run straight into Christine. Both women let out a small cry of alarm, then instantly calmed when each recognized the other. A small bottle that Christine had dropped rolled between Magda's feet, and the older woman bent to pick it up.

"No, Magda you don't have to-"

"Christine..." She held the round, green bottle up to the light. The gas lamps lighting the hall sent a warm glow through the clear liquid inside, illuminating the small flecks that hung suspended within it. It was a potion that she knew all too well. "Christine," she asked, wide-eyed. "How long have you known?"

Christine turned her back to Magda. In the back of her mind, she had known that her sickness would eventually become obvious...but not yet. She was not strong enough to face it yet. "Known?" Her voice was sharper than she intended it to be, but it could not be helped under the weight of pain and frustration. "Since the moment it happened. How long have I been positive? For over a week now."

"Oh Christine-"

"If you'll excuse me, Magda," she bit out, immediately ending the conversation, "I was just on my way to see Erik."

Erik slept in the villa's master bedroom. It was the largest room on the third floor and afforded the occupant the most spectacular views imaginable. It was as wide as the entire floor, and balconies on both sides offered views of Italian sun as it rose and set, when the sky was a tapestry of blood and gold.

Candles illuminated the large space, casting shadows on the dark mahogany furniture, and the great burgundy hangings of the room's large bed.

Christine stepped into the space quietly. Her room, smaller but no less beautiful, was down the hall. She had at first tried to sleep in here with Erik, to be by his side in the night when he awoke from what she could only assume were nightmares.

But it was too much. She could not sleep beside him knowing that he thought she was a stranger.

"Erik," she said quietly into the darkness. "Erik, can you hear me?"

From the bed, a pale face turned toward her, the blue of his eyes dull and nearly gray.

"Where is Christine?" He asked quietly.

She shut her eyes, as if they could act as walls, blocking his words from reaching her heart. She's dying, Erik, she thought. You kill her a little more every time that you ask that God-forsaken question...


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 36 of 38

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