Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 37 of 38

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Magda stood, simply staring at the green bottle in her hands, at the bottle Christine had dropped. The potion was simple enough, a tonic water to settle the stomach. She herself had taken it many times over the past month. Sickness was a common companion in her life at the moment. Just this morning she had been thinking of names for her unborn child-at the present, Roman liked 'Ihrin' if it was a girl, and 'Nikolai' if it was a boy-when all of a sudden her stomach had turned inside out. Yes, the tonic was a staple in her life... it was in the lives of most expectant mothers.

"Where is Christine?"

Christine bit back her anger and despair as Erik repeated the question. So many times she had wanted to simply scream at him, to tell him how much she loved him, how much she hated him. She had wanted to choke his sense back into him, but all of the doctors had issued vehement warnings against such theatrics. Ravings might only serve to send Erik deeper into his hell.

"Where is Christine?" He asked again.

She shut her eyes, willing him to be silent so that she might sit with him in peace.

"Where is Christine?"

A third time. Usually he did not ask a third time, but when he did, she usually left the room...

...but she did not want to leave. Not while knowing what she now knew.

"Where is she!"

Christine looked at him, her eyes desperate infernos of love and loathing. His mask lay on the night table beside him. He did not seem to miss it in his current state, and the doctors had grown used to his face. For what she paid them, they had damn well better be used to his face.

"Stop it," she whispered, trying to control herself.

"Leave me," he bellowed. "I have no use for strangers."

Christine clenched her fists, shaking, wondering whether to hate Erik or God at that moment...

"Please...just stop."

"Leave me!"

"Stop it!"

Dry sobs racked Christine's body, her anger uncontrollable, her rage palpable. No theatrics, the doctors had said. Do not excite him.

Christine watched as he sat up in the bed, his frame paler and thinner than it even had been, the shadow of death clinging to him like an old habit. He was dying before her very eyes, and what frightened her most of all was that if he died a madman, she might never forgive him.

He, whom she loved above all others.

Step by step, she walked slowly toward the bed.

"Erik," she stated with all the calm she could muster, "Erik, I am Christine."

He did not respond, but simply looked away.

"Erik," she continued, "I did not die beneath the glass. I am here, I am beside you."

He shut his eyes slowly.

"We are no longer in the Communard dungeon, Erik. We are home...we are safe. Christine stands before you now." Never, in all her life, even in the bowels of the opera, had she felt so helpless. This was a despair that went far beyond helplessness. It felt like lifelessness. "Please Erik," she begged. "Please don't leave me. I love you."

For a moment, he stared at her blankly, as if testing the weight of her words. Then, as if she had told him nothing more than the weather, he turned his face from her once more to stare out the window into the purple twilight.

Perhaps, for that one brief moment, Christine lost her mind as well.

She flew to the bed, her body landing on top of his, her legs straddling his stomach as she beat her fists against his chest unmercifully.

"I hate you!" She cried. "Do you hear me?" Her voice was almost inhuman. "I hope that you are happy now, Erik, for you have dragged me back to where we first started. I hate you!"

His face was a blank, shocked stare, his eyes swirling pools of inner turmoil.

"Is this how you are going to leave me? A prisoner in your own darkness! I thought that you were better than this! You were supposed to be an angel! My angel!"

Violently, she took his hands and forced them around her waist.

"Well what sort of an angel are you now! Or maybe you are an angel...some sick, twisted angel of vengeance, sent by God to punish me." She snarled, her face a twisted visage of helpless rage. "I'm pregnant! Did you hear me! I'm pregnant. Your child's heart beats beneath my breast. Will you condemn it to the life which your mother condemned you! How dare you want a child so much and then die under the weight of your own weakness!"

Christine's ravings once more turned to pitiful sobs. "I hate you! I hate you, I hate you...I...Oh God..." For a moment, she felt as if her heart had stopped beating. "I...I love you. I love you. You can't die, Erik. If you die, then I won't have the heart not to follow...and then the family that you longed for so desperately on Earth will only be yours in Heaven. Oh God, I love you...and I love your child...I love it so much, Erik. I..."

She stopped, her eyes settling on his adored visage. He lay beneath her, his face ashen, his eyes frantic, and his breathing fast and shallow. The bruises on his chest from her ravings were all too visible.

What have I done!

No theatrics, the doctors had said, and what had she gone and done? Lost control...lost her head...and in the process, probably condemned herself to widowhood and Erik to his prison.

She was a monster.

Christine leapt from the bed as if scalded, her hair disheveled and her eyes wild. For a moment, she looked back at her beloved...his eyes were just as wild and were fixed directly upon her.

Her soul felt as if it wanted to crawl out of her body.

She ran from the room, ran as if the devil were on her tail with a list of her sins in hand...

...he probably was.

Bursting into her own bedroom, Christine threw open her balcony doors and promptly landed in a shaking heap on the still-warm terra cotta. Pressing her hands against her stomach, she rocked back and forth, her eyes fixed on the purple horizon, the calming scent of jasmine from the gardens wafting up towards her trembling form.

What had she been thinking? This house, this new life, Amanda's burial ...they had been mere distractions to keep her mind away from the horrifying reality of her situation. She could buy a thousand homes, call herself the bloody Queen of England if it so pleased still wouldn't change a thing. She and Erik were still both alone, separated by the swords of a thousand demons. In his current state, he would soon be dead, and then what of her? How long would it be until her heart simply refused to beat? Until the gloom suffocated her? Would she live long enough to see her child into the world? How could she rest, knowing that it would never know its parents? An orphan...and what if he was scarred? How would her beloved child survive the harsh realities of the world?

Christine shut her eyes against a fresh wave of tears. "I won't let that happen to you," she whispered vehemently. "You will know every beauty on this earth. I will buy you light...and the beauty of a sunset...if that is what I must do. You are my 'cyrus,'" she murmured gently. "You are my sunshine."

She lifted her face to the sky, allowing the Roman breeze to wipe the tears from her face. In the heavens above, stars began to burst from their dark bowers, their brilliance a comfort to the young girl who sat beneath them. Her eyes were clear and blue and sparkling, imploring the God that she wanted to have faith in with all of her heart. "Have you heard anything?" She asked.

"I have heard everything," came a whisper from behind.

Christine's entire body went rigid, but she did not turn and look. "What cruel torture is this?" She asked aloud. "A whisper on a breeze? Does God mock me now?"

Footsteps rang out behind her.

"It's like a prison," the voice continued. "A darkness that you can't escape."

"That you can't escape..." Christine echoed.

"I saw the glass...I saw you...and then that was all. All that I could see was that glass falling, all that I could hear was myself screaming for you..."

"This can't be real," she whispered, shaking violently.

"There were times," he continued, "when I thought I saw you, thought I heard you. You were begging me to come back to you...but I couldn't move...I was trapped in that prison, in hell..."

Christine turned to him then, her heart refusing to believe what her eyes saw. Erik stood there, weak and pale, his hair a disheveled mess, his clothes rumpled, but his eyes...his eyes were clearer than she had ever seen them to be.

"Then I heard you screaming, 'I hate you...I hate you," and something inside me snapped. I had to return...I had to find my Christine. And then I heard you say..."

Erik's eyes fell to Christine's abdomen.

"Christine...I became murderous...all I once I knew that I was both prisoner and jailer, that I would kill myself if that's what it took... if that's what it took to come back to you."

She rose, wobbling on unsteady legs, approaching him slowly, as if he was nothing more substantial than fog-a mist which the slightest breeze might blow away.

"Erik..." Reaching up hesitantly, Christine brushed a lose tendril of hair away from his face. He smiled weakly at her. "Erik..."

" brought me to Italy."


"And here I was...thinking that I could never love you more than I did when you showed up in the caverns, bleeding and ready to tell Henri Starre to do his worst."

She noticed that his hands were shaking, but from weakness or sheer emotion she could not be sure. He fell to his knees, pulling her towards him, allowing his lips to rest against her stomach.

"And now this..." he whispered. "Perhaps I have died...perhaps I have died and this is my heaven."

Christine curled her fingers in Erik's hair, allowing her head to fall back as tears once more slipped from her eyes. Thank you, she mouthed to the endless sky. Thank you...

She wanted to say a thousand things more. She wanted to tell God that she would spend the rest of her life proving herself worthy of this second chance, of the gift of her lover and their child. She wanted to pray for Raoul...for beg that they had found their peace...she wanted to say everything at once...

Yet somehow, her tears said everything.

Falling into his arms, Christine threw her arms around Erik's neck, and pressed her lips to his own. "My love," she sighed into the kiss. "My dearest love. Let me die now, that I might know perfection."

Erik slanted his lips against her own, the feeling one of pure hope after the bleakness that had enveloped his heart and mind. She softened against him, and he felt as if the angels were pouring the life back into his soul.

God, for the first time in an eternity, he felt as if he had a soul.

He pulled away from her abruptly, his eyes once more taking on a haunted look.


Christine smiled.

"Alive...and probably driving Magda out of her mind as we speak."

Erik threw back his head and let out a cross between a sob and a laugh. He could see the stars, he could smell jasmine coming from a garden, he could feel Christine in his arms, and in his heart of hearts, he could feel his child growing within her.

He shook his head, as if once more trying to wake from a dream. "I don't deserve this."

"Neither do I," Christine replied. "But maybe...just maybe," she smiled, "we deserve each other?"

He kissed her forehead, and Christine relished in the sensation of his tears on her skin. "I love you," he whispered. "For eternity."

"Then we shall always have forever," she answered. "For loving you is my eternity."

Erik kissed her soundly once more, smiling as he was quite sure he had never smiled in all his miserable life. "I would gladly wax poetic all evening with you, love, but for the moment, I will have to unman myself and ask for your assistance."

Christine helped Erik to his feet, leading him to the stone railing that surrounded the veranda. Erik looked upon his estate with wide, appreciative eyes.

"You did all of this?"

Christine nodded. "For you...for Roman and Magda...for our child. I wanted us to have a life to call all our own...I wanted to create memories for you that you could smile at."

Erik looked at Christine, the love and pride that he felt for her unmasked in his eyes.

"How? How did you do all of this? It took me a year after...after you left to pick myself start a life..."

Christine shook her head. "God only knows, Erik. Perhaps it was my own form of madness. The sooner that I could create a life for us...the sooner we could live it...the sooner that I could begin to pray that you would awaken from the nightmare we have been living..."

He shook his head in wonderment. "You are an angel. A goddess."

"I also told your solicitor that I was your wife."

Erik's face fell. " told him that...that you were my..."

Christine batted her eyelashes, her face all innocence, even more beautiful as the starlight reflected off of the dry patches of salt where tears had once been.

"Well...are you just going to stand there looking peculiar, or are you going to make an honest woman out of me?"

He stood, mouth agape, heart hammering. Even after all they had been through, the fact that she wanted to be his wife, that she would bind herself to him before men and God...

Erik took her hand, and gently pulled her toward him. Christine fell into his embrace, her forehead coming to rest beneath his chin as he whispered an old Persian hymn into her ear.

"And there, my love, beneath the sky, beneath the stars and night and moon, I will take thee as my wife, to Heaven and beyond. Through hell and darkness, through blood and tears, with roses as our bridal bed, I will give you ocean and earth, I will give you the souls of men."

Erik kissed her gently, his heart swelling with love as he continued the ancient song. "And when the skies begin to fall, and when this world shall someday end, you will stand above all others; your light shall light all darkness hence. For you alone, my love of loves, will have the power of this to say. 'I have known love beyond sorrow, beyond darkness, beyond death. I have lived a Heaven that only angelsknow."

. Perhaps to say such a thing was blasphemy, to compare the richness of God's Earth to the glory of His Heaven...certainly no priest had ever bothered with Erik's religious tutelage...

...but on that clear, cool night in the Eternal City, the stars shone with a brilliance to rival the sun... if even the angels could not disagree.


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 37 of 38

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