Continuing Tales

Demons

A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 4 of 38

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Demons

He threw her from him as if the touch of her skin were like fire. Christine stumbled back, rubbing the tender flesh on her arm, her eyes never leaving Erik's stunned face. His staring made her realize her scarred flesh, and she self-consciously tried to hide it by turning from him.

"I will ask only this."

His voice was still firm, but much less enraged than it had been only moments before.

"Did that injury come at the hands of the Viscount?

Tears of fury "burned in Christine's eyes, and she refused to turn around to face him. Her heart was still bleeding from the fact that he was even here with her.

"No," she snapped fiercely. Her words were quiet despite the weight of her rage. She didn't want him hearing the quake in her voice.

"Then I don't want to know how it happened."

Christine felt her chest burn. Was it...was it sorrow? Sorrow that he did not care enough to know what had happened to her? Or perhaps guilt? Guilt that she had driven him to such a state?

His hand grabbed her shoulder and spun her around to face him. His fingers lifted her face to him rather roughly, and he unabashedly inspected her marred cheek. Later, he knew that he would completely collapse. His soul would be undone and he would probably die from the horrible coincidence of this insanity. Christine was alive! Alive! His angel hadn't died at the hands of the Commune members! Anger, however, colored his elation.

Over the past year, he had devoted all of his energy to destroying the man that had loved Christine Daae'. Erik had known that the only way to survive was to start again.

And he had, rather successfully.

Buying the title had been simple, as had been buying and building the estate. Roman and the other gypsies had served as fine staff members. He had given up music. Music had been the passion of the man that had loved Christine. The piano that he had kept...well...he wasn't exactly sure why he had kept one. He had only played it once...when he had thought Christine was dead. On that horrible night, the man that he thought he had buried rose from the dead with a vengeance. The stoic Baron Von Alsing had been possessed by his former self, by the man simply known as Erik. That man was now threatening to resurface again.

It took all of his will power not to ask where that horrible scar had come from. He refused to do it though. He had spent a long time completely erasing this woman from his mind...the last thing that he needed was a reason to care about her again.

Control yourself, he heard himself think through the haze of the alcohol. He had always been in control of his faculties and fought with the liquor in his blood. Control, control...she is just a girl. She is nothing to you. Nothing to you! She does not love you, you do not love her. Control...control.

Christine watched Erik as he closed his eyes and seemed to will his body in a state of calmness. The change was visible. The color returned to his face, his breathing slowed, and his grip on her relaxed. When he spoke to her again, it was with the distant iciness of a polite stranger.

"I am relieved to find that you are alive and well, Viscountess. I had reports that stated otherwise."

Roman's words echoed in Erik's brain. She is scarred, Master, on her right cheek. I know how you demand perfection and, well, the wound isn't even old yet. He took a steadying breath and looked down into the face of the woman that had once been the core of his beating heart. He pitied her. The wound was not so horrific that it would cause people to turn in revulsion, but it was enough to damage the spirit of a girl who had grown up never anything less than beautiful. It was one thing to be born with ugliness. It was quite another to see it thrust upon a person in what should have been the height of their beauty.

She was still beautiful.

Control! His mind screamed.

"I do not know how Roman came upon you, but I will trust that he was, as he always is, a gentleman?"

Christine nodded dumbly. What had happened to his rage? His ability to control it was almost more frightening than the initial anger.

"I expected nothing less. Good." Erik took a breath. "You shall be immediately returned to your hus-husband, who is no doubt sick with worry." Damn it all to hell! Erik internally cursed himself for choking on that damned word. Was it really so impossible to say 'husband'! Was he really so weak?

Christine's face fell. Erik hadn't realized that-

Don't tell him! A part of her screamed. The last thing that you want is his false pity, and assuredly that is what you shall get when he learns of Raoul's death!

Christine bit her lip as another part of her struck back.

Little fool! Your childish pride will undo you once again! Tell Erik why you are here. You are as good as dead if he casts you out!

Her lips started to quiver.

"Erik, Erik I-"

But her voice gave out. She couldn't do it! How would she survive the look of pity and hatred that would manifest in his eyes once she told him! He must already pity her for her face...

You are nothing but a silly child! Born a silly child, and doomed to die a silly child. Never anything more! And now thanks your cowardice you shall die alone!

"Raoul is dead." She instantly bit out before she could stop the words from spewing forth. Christine heard Erik's quick intake of breath and flinched as his eyes widened.

"But...my reports on the Commune...they were wrong...you survived..."

She cut him off.

"Then they were only half wrong, whatever they said. Raoul was executed in the basements of the opera house. I'd tell you how I escaped, but I assume that you don't care about that either." She was surprised by the edge that had come into her voice. Apparently she was upset by his apparent lack of interest in her. Erik was surprised too, but not by her tone. It was the news of the Viscount's death that had turned his stomach. He felt no elation at the notion of his rival's death. Instead an immense sorrow filled him. Christine was alone...alone with nothing. Fear soon joined sorrow.

What happened to her in Paris?

Erik tried his best to show no emotion in his voice, though it proved extremely difficult. It seemed that the only thing running through him at the moment was emotion.

"I am deeply and sincerely sorry Viscountess. I know what it feels like to be alone."

She looked up into his eyes, her own now threatening to flood with tears. Yes, Erik did know what it was to be alone. She had made sure of that that Godless night when she had left...

Guilt, longing, and quite possibly the tiniest twinge of regret threatened to consume her.

"You will stay here until tomorrow morning. I will use my contacts to find a suitable noble family who can accept you into their household. "

Christine blinked. He was sending her away?

Erik gritted his teeth. He couldn't believe that he was actually sending her away, but sanity demanded it. The sooner that she was once again nothing but a memory, the better. He really didn't think that he could survive her again.

Speak up! Her conscience was once again shooting daggers into her.

"Erik, you can't!"

He paused mid-sentence, still speaking of how he could easily situate her with a family in the Loire Valley.

His only response was his stare...it seemed to breathe his life force into her and Christine shuddered.

'Erik...Erik please. Let me stay. I can't go to another noble family when there are so few left. They all know me as the Viscountess de Chagny. They'd never take me in...and those that would, well, they would simply turn me over to the Commune. Some of Raoul's largest bank accounts were in my name...millions of francs." She gave a small laugh. "I suppose they meant to torture it out of me before they killed me. Murdering Raoul was only the beginning." She was amazed that she had been able to tell him that without retching.

Erik's face had turned ashen. He did not want to hear this. He did not want to hear how she could have been tortured to death. He did not want to hear how she had been forced to watch her own husband's murder.

But let her stay! Here! Never! His sanity raged. Never again! You fell victim to her once! You will never be that weak again!

"I can set you up somewhere...somewhere far from Paris. You will be safe, I will provide you with sufficient funds..."

He realized, of course, that he was babbling like a damn fool.

Christine lips turned downward. "Alone! Away from all human contact?" Erik I couldn't! I couldn't live like that, alone with nothing but silence and terrible memories and..." Her voice trailed off as the horror of what she was saying replayed itself in the blue of his eyes. She was describing the life that Erik had been forced to live, that she too had eventually abandoned him to.

"I'm sorry, I didn't-"

"That isn't necessary, Viscountess." She looked up into his face, the emotion there unreadable. Christine was aware that he hadn't once spoken her name, and she quickly brushed away the disappointment that rang out on the edges of her mind. Her name had always sounded so beautiful on his lips.

He sighed, seeming to resign himself to the hand that Fate had dealt him.

"You mustn't call me Viscountess, Erik. I wouldn't want Roman and everyone...well, I'm already so different from them."

He nodded. She was right of course.

"You will inform Roman and the others that your real name is Christine de Chagny. They will not know that you were a Viscountess. You can explain that you were a distant cousin of the family. Use whatever excuse you want...only you will not be called Christine Daae' under this roof, do you understand?"

She nodded, confused. Erik braced the muscles in his back, physically trying to block the pain of seeing her before him. Hearing her called by her true name, her married name, would be easier on his soul. He would be constantly reminded that she had married the boy, that she did not love him. Then it would be easy to remind himself that he did not under any circumstances love her.

"Erik did you hear me?" Christine was still shaking from the entire macabre experience, but she had at least found some of her voice, even if her face was still pale with shock and her soul torn with disbelief.

"That means you will let me stay?"

Her eyes were pleading. They were also fearful. Erik didn't know whether to pity or hate her for that fear. He could feel his blood vessels twisting in knots. He could not let her stay here! Not after all he had done to rebuild his shattered life. Not after all that she had done to shatter it!

But could he really turn her out? Alone in the world? Bruised and scarred, both on the flesh and in her soul? Could he really effectively send her to her death?

"You may stay. But you will remain out of my sight, do you understand?"

Christine's initial hopefulness was immediately deflated by his stern tone and angry words.

"You will answer to Magda and Roman. They will set you up in suitable quarters within the house. They have homes of their own on the estate, so the servant's wing is empty."

He literally barked the orders to her.

"I do not like being disturbed. Do I make myself clear? Only Roman speaks directly to me. If you have any questions you may ask him. My library is at all times off limits. All times! Do you understand Madame de Chagny?"

Christine nodded, closing her eyes against the wave of pain that swept over her.

"Christine!"

She turned as the sound of Roman's voice echoed through the hallway.

"Christine where -"

He stopped short when he saw Erik standing there with her. He instantly bowed his head.

"Forgive me My Lord. I did not mean to interrupt you and Madame Daae'."

As if a drop of liquor had never touched his tongue, Erik straightened and allowed a regal air to drape over his entire body.

"Nothing to forgive, Roman. And actually, you will address the young lady as Madame de Chagny, or Christine, if she permits. She is a distant cousin of the Parisian family of which I informed you. Understandably she was afraid to reveal it after finding out that her cousins had been murdered."

Christine was stunned. Erik had resumed a level of composure that was...almost too perfect. She simply bobbed her head to Roman, not trusting her voice. It would be too thick from the maelstrom of emotion that was swirling within her.

Erik gave a polite bow to her.

"Madame de Chagny, if you will kindly excuse me. I will be returning to my library. Roman, please have Magda make up a room for the young woman in the servant's wing."

With confusion still obvious on his face, Roman gave another bow, leading a rather pale Christine off in the opposite direction.


Erik ran his fingers over the scarred, twisted flesh that ravaged the right side of his face. Words from his childhood rang forth.

As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

What a perfect way to describe his face!

A valley of the shadow of death.

Not like another face...

Not like her face.

That scar. That awful scar that had raped her virgin skin.

She's not a virgin any longer, his subconscious taunted. Neither are you. You have both mastered the art of slaughtering innocence, haven't you?

"Damn it! Damn it all!" With a violent gesture he knocked the gas lamp off of the table. The crystal shade smashed on the floor with a fury almost equal to the rage that flashed in his eyes.

"What else do You want from me, God! What else!" Erik shook his fist violently toward the ceiling.

"What haven't You stolen from me! My face! My mother's love! Everything that I ever desired as a man! A normal home! A normal life!" I could have erected cathedrals in Your honor! My work dedicated to the Glory of Your name!"

His voice reached a fever pitch.

"And yet you denied me! You denied me the love of a woman! You denied me my Christine in the cruelest of ways! Now you will deny me the comfort of forgetting her! The comfort of living out the rest of my life in my solitude!"

The sophisticated fašade that he had erected to try and deal with Christine's presence was by now completely destroyed.

"Why! What else can I give to you!"

Sinking to his knees, a sob caught itself in his throat.

"I don't love her!" He screamed.

"I do not love her!" Rage soon gave way to desperation.

"I love no one. I love nothing!"

He raked his hands over his face.

"Nothing!"

It was the last word he spoke before tears, born of the darkest grief, denied him a voice.

Demons

A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Wandering Child

Part 4 of 38

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