Continuing Tales


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Immokk

Part 30 of 39

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Samantha watched the rehearsals with a certain amount of awe. It was a full costume run through of the entire production and although she had never seen an opera before, she was completely engrossed. The height to which the dancers could climb, the sound the chorus could make as a whole and the glorious tone that was Christine de Chagny's voice.

No wonder Erik was so fond of her.

She had known Erik for a few years after meeting him once in an alley behind one of his small entertainment theatres. It was not the best first impression she had ever made on a man but she was damn sure that it was not the worst either.

Her upbringing had been oddly uneventful and, despite the fact her parents had had very little money, she had been a happy child. She had been reasonably well schooled, her father was an intelligent man and taught her himself, and when she was old enough a chance meeting with a tutor led to free lessons for over a year.

The lifestyle and her parent's love had prepared her well for life but had not prepared her for their untimely deaths when she was young. At this point in her life, she had been courting Jack Aldridge for quite some time and although the man was a rogue, she had cared for him with a depth of affection she had only experienced once since. When her parents died she found herself sinking into a lonely existence and, try as she might, there was no saving her relationship with Jack.

The breaking point came with his increasingly frequent indiscretions. Not with other women, of course, Jack was just about as faithful as they came. It was all the things he did for the new master he had found himself. Jack had always like to call him the boss but she saw him more as his ruler; whatever he told Jack to do was done, without question.

Years after the end of their relationship she had been forced into, for want of a better term, selling herself. She was deeply ashamed to admit it but thinking back it was the only way for her to survive. It was not the easiest life and many of the men were disgusting but because of her beauty, she made her money. On the fateful evening in which she had first met Erik she had taken a gentleman down the alley behind the theatre, hoping that he would be her last client of the night.

He had been rough and, apparently, liked the idea of blood during whatever sick game he was playing. This was one of the many, many pitfalls of this line of work and this time it nearly cost her, her life. Had it not been for Erik's timely appearance it probably would have been the end for her.

She remembered him carrying her into the depths of the cellars in the theatre and cleaning her wounds carefully in absolute silence. It took her a while to regain her senses and when she did she foolishly offered him her services in payment for his valiant rescue. Erik had quietly but firmly told her no and continued patching her up, piece by piece.

She remembered it like it was only yesterday, it was so vivid in her memory.

'Then how do I thank you?' she had asked him, perplexed that a man might do anything without wanting something in return.

He had turned the sharpest, richest blue eyes upon her and asked, 'Why do you do this work?'

Surprised by the question she answered, 'Because it puts food on my table,'

'What is your name?' he asked. Under normal circumstances the whole situation might have worried her but given that the man had just saved her life she, rightly or wrongly, assumed that she was safe with him.


'Samantha,' he had said, and then, 'This seems a little beneath you,'

Most people would have been offended by this. She should have been angry at this man, who was making assumptions, who didn't know her, but she found herself fascinated by him. 'Maybe it is,' she had told him.

He turned and pointed to the door, 'Follow the stairs, they will take you back outside,' and then he walked to the other side of the room and began fiddling with what looked like a costume.

She had stared after him for a long moment before asking, 'What is your name?'

He glanced up, 'Erik,'

She considered questioning his need to wear the mask that covered half of his face but there was something about his presence that made her think twice about asking. Instead she shrugged and said, 'Well, thank you for helping me,'

She ached and was sore from where the knife had cut her skin, but Erik had assured her that the wounds were superficial and so long as she kept them clean, she would heal. As she walked to the door she heard his voice behind her, 'Samantha,'

Involuntarily she had gasped at the sound of her name, his voice made it sound like music. Turning to face him she had said, 'Yes?'

'I might have a job for you,' he informed her, his eyes bright even though the room was so very dark. 'If you want it…'

She did not need to be asked twice.

From that day forward she had been what he liked to call his closer, meaning that she was the woman he sent in when a man was being difficult to deal with. She rarely failed to close the deal. Erik did not expect her to give herself to these men, only to talk them into things with the unconfirmed promise of more of her to come. Of course, that never happened. Erik always made sure of it.

Occasionally, she would do some spying for him but those jobs were usually left to the more than numerous crooked men in his organisation. She was a legitimate business tool. She did not use blackmail or force, simply her charms.

As she sat in the opera house, nearly an hour after the rehearsals had ended, her thoughts were interrupted by Erik taking the seat to her side.

'Did you enjoy it?' he asked.

'I did,'

His lips curved into what could have been a smile, 'The finer things,'

This time she smiled. 'Indeed,'

'You can end your pursuit of Raoul,'

She nodded, she had expected as much. 'You never really expected him to stray did you?'

Erik shook his head once.

'Shame,' she said, the image of Vicomte de Chagny's chiselled features stirring in her mind. 'He is rather something,'

Erik turned his head slightly and she found that she did not like the look in his eyes.

Change of subject.

'So what now, I assume you now have further instructions for me?' she asked, remembering their last conversation.

'I'm trying to bring down the price on a property I am thinking of buying,' he explained. 'I'm having some difficulty talking the owner down to a more reasonable price,'

'And this is where I step in,' she said. She knew. It was not a question.

He handed her a slip of paper. 'That is where the next meeting is, tell him that I am unable to attend but you have my authority to conduct this business on my behalf,'

'Will you be sending someone else?'

Erik nodded. 'I'm not sure who yet, but you will not be alone,'

He always sent someone to watch over her, just in case the businessman in question ever got ideas above his station.

'Would you mind leaving me?' he asked politely. 'Report back to me the following morning, I will be in the office,'

She nodded and began to leave. As she did she read the rest of the piece of paper and the amount she was allowed to offer for the property.

She let out a small whoosh of air from her mouth… ahh, to be so rich!

The scarf.

It was always the scarf she left behind.

Christine grumbled to herself as she made her way back into the theatre and through the dark corridors towards the stage. She asked herself why she even took the blasted thing anywhere with her, especially as she so regularly left it on the coat hook, or on her chair, or in the dressing room...

As she got closer to the stage doors she heard the soft tones of the piano being played. She was surprised that anyone had stayed behind after such a long and arduous rehearsal and so she gently pushed the door open, hoping not to disturb the musician. When she stepped out quietly onto the stage she recognised not only the melody of the song but also the person sitting on the piano stool.

Erik's back was to her and, although she might like to think that he had not heard her open the door, she was not so foolish as the believe that this was actually the case. She had seen him play so many times that she noticed the tension in his back and knew that he had heard the door. She stepped further out of the shadows but he did not stop playing and instead, changed the melody to something even softer.

'How could you possible know that it was me?' she asked, noticing the half eaten apple sitting on the piano top, noticing that his jacket was nowhere to be seen, noticing that the tautness of his shoulders had suddenly relaxed.

'No one I have ever known matches your footfalls on a stage,' he told her as he continued to play faintly.

She could not help but smile and quickly glanced around her for mirrors. There were none, of course, but it was occasionally nice to think of him as human.

'I don't see you here often,' she said and walked towards the piano.

He stopped playing. 'Just because I am not seen, does not mean that I am not here,'

'I know,' she said and glanced at the piano keys. 'Why did you stop?'

He looked up at her, 'I will play if you will sing,'

She almost gave in to a snigger. 'You knew I was coming back,'

This time he smiled at her, 'I saw that you had left your scarf over near the steps,'

She rolled her eyes. 'What should I sing?'

'What would you like to sing?'

'Anything,' she said, her heart suddenly swelling. 'Everything,'

'Perhaps not all in one night,' Erik suggested and this brought another smile her lips.

Momentarily she was worried at how comfortable she felt in his presence again, how he made her feel like she was the only person that mattered, how he always heard her cries for help, knew what she was thinking and feeling... He could read her like a book and after all these years, she began to think that she was slowly learning to read things about him too.

Steadily, he began to play again. A tune she knew and loved, and when her cue came she began to sing. The song was soft and gentle and remained that way for its entirety, yet despite this it was full of emotion. When the song drew in and Erik finished playing, she found his eyes on her and then felt the blush of heat rush into her cheeks.

She felt like she was twenty years old yet again.

'Beautiful,' he said, and added none of his customary criticism. He stood from the bench and took a bite from the apple before placing it back down on the piano lid. It was so casual and normal that she felt taken aback. This was not the Erik she knew and yet it was...

'Don't forget your scarf,'

She nodded.

'How are you?' he asked before she could turn to leave. 'The last time…'

'I'm fine, Erik,'

He stepped towards her. 'Are you sure? You look tired still... no less pale than last week,'

She looked away from him.

'Are you sleeping?'

She swallowed.

'Fitfully,' she replied honestly and wondered why.

'What is on your mind?' he asked and when she turned to face him she found that he was merely inches away from her.

'You know what is on my mind,' she said, irritated and yet unable to turn away.

'Really, Christine, I have no idea,'

'Benoit is on my mind,' she said. 'You and Benoit are all I can think about, how he nearly died, how you are here…'

'You still haven't told Raoul,' Erik pointed out.

'No,' she said, though her throat felt so dry that it almost hurt.

'Why?' he asked.


He nodded.

'He will take me away from here,' she said. 'I'm enjoying singing,'

'But he will take you away in the end anyway, that is what you told me,' Erik reminded her. 'You will fulfil your contract and leave,'

She stared down at her feet, unable to think straight. She didn't know what was happening to her mind or to her marriage and she knew that not telling Raoul was wrong, but how could she? How could she leave when the Opera was here.

Erik spoke again, 'Will you sing somewhere else, perhaps?'

She shook her head, heart pounding.

'Why not?'

She couldn't answer, she couldn't tell him.

'Why did you stop singing, Christine?' he asked, his eyes so intense that they burned. 'I taught you... the least you can do is tell me why you choose to waste your gift,'

'I…' she sighed, she knew that he was right. 'It wasn't the same,'

She felt his eyes on her.

'It didn't feel right without you there,' she finally said and then it was there. She had never wanted to admit it to herself, let alone to him, but the reason she had stopped singing was because she could not find the same emotions, the same passion as she could when he was there.

'And now you're prepared to stop again,' he said. It didn't sound like a question.

She sighed.

'I meant it when I told you that I love you still, you know I do Christine,' he said, his head tilting ever so slightly to the right. 'Stay here with me,'

'Erik…' she felt a quiver in her voice and fought it away. 'What about my son… he loves Raoul, I can't do this to him,'

'I am capable of looking after him,' Erik said.

'I know, Erik,' she said. 'I don't doubt that but it would break his heart to be taken away from Raoul… it would break Raoul's heart. I just can't do that,'

'Are you telling me that you don't love me?' he asked as their eyes met. 'Are you saying that even now you don't think that what we have is enough?'

'It is not as simple as that, Erik, real life isn't a fairytale,'

'Believe me,' he said sharply. 'I know that,'

'Marriage is a commitment for life,' Christine said and felt it with all her heart. 'I can't just turn my back on that,'

'You would stay with a man that you don't love out of duty?'

'I do love him,' she said firmly. 'I have always loved him and I am sorry that that has hurt you,'

Erik shook his head, 'Not with your soul, Christine,'

She swallowed, their eyes still fixed on each other, 'I came back to you,'

Erik said nothing.

'You left me,'

'It was for the best,'

'And it isn't now?' she asked.

'No,' he said. 'It isn't,'

'I can't do what you're asking of me,'

'You still don't deny it,' he said.

She stared at him.

He shrugged. 'I will make a deal with you,'

She nodded, waiting.

'If you look me in the eye and tell me that you are not in love with me, I promise you that you will not see me again,'

She opened her mouth to speak, to protest, to tell him but the look in his eyes stopped her. It was a look she had seen from him a hundred times before but had only recently come to recognise. No one, not even Raoul, had ever looked at her with such love, such adoration.

I do not love you, sat in the back of her mind but never reached the tip of her tongue because she simply could not say it. Erik saw her hesitation and as she opened her mouth she felt his lips touch hers and his strong arms encircle her waist.

Although she did not return his kiss or wrap her arms around him, to her shame, she did not stop him either. When he broke the short, yet sweet, kiss their eyes met in the briefest moment of recognition before he turned, collected his apple and walked away.

She stood stock still, unable to move until the sound of his footsteps vanished from the auditorium. When the door at the back of the theatre finally clicked shut she took a deep breath and turned to the stage exit.

She wanted to forget this but it was no use because as she turned she was stunned to see Philippe there, in the doorway, his eyes fixed on her. They stood for a very long time simply staring at each other. Philippe was open mouthed, as if he were about to say something yet could not find the words and Christine was completely still, heart now sinking deeper into the pit of her stomach. It was a long, tense moment before either of them moved.

It was Philippe who finally did, stepping out of the shadow of the doorway and into the dim light of the stage.

They stood barely feet away from each other and at that moment Christine felt deeply ashamed.

Philippe broke the silence, 'You love him,'

It was not what Christine had expected from him. Far from it, in fact. She had expected some snide remark and then the threats, many of which she thoroughly deserved.

She still had the tingle of Erik's stubble on her lips and she still tasted the apple from his mouth. If ever there had been a time when she had been truly speechless and truly deserving of her brother in law's scorn; this was it.

Philippe stared at her and she could not answer him for fear that she might actually tell him the truth.

If she even knew what that was herself.

When she did not respond he released a small sigh. 'I see it,'

Christine squeezed her eyes closed for a second. It was almost a moment of childishness, a flash back to her naivety. She had hoped that on blinking them back open again Philippe might somehow be gone and this might not have happened.

He wasn't gone.

It was happening.

'Raoul doesn't know that he is here, I assume?' Philippe said. It was a half statement and a half question but Christine was surprised to find no malice in her brother in law's tone.

She managed to shake her head.

'Is he our elusive Monsieur Schwarz?' Philippe asked and Christine was momentarily stunned. Conversations with Philippe had always been strained but lately, due to his drinking, they had been virtually impossible. The man standing in front of her now was speaking as though they had been friends for years, as though there was no drinking and no history.

She nodded.

'How long have you known?' he asked.

These were all questions of which the answers would turn her into what he had always suspected that she was or would become and yet there was no glee in his tone, no note of threat.

'Since opening night,' she lied but she could not tell him about the ball. She could not tell him about the night that Raoul was poisoned and sent home, and strangely, she did not want him to know the ways in which Jack had betrayed him. She felt oddly protective of them both.

Philippe locked her eyes with him, 'Why didn't you leave?'

'Money,' she managed to croak. 'Music…'

'Love,' Philippe added.

Christine shook her head and yet it now seemed almost impossible to deny it. She could lie all she wanted, she had become too bloody good at it, and yet it was useless now because he had seen.

He smiled, 'I'm not blind,'

Christine remained silent because she felt that her voice would divulge more than she wanted, in a treacherous act of honesty.

'The way he looks at you,' Philippe said quietly. 'Perhaps he isn't such a monster after all,'

Christine blinked, surprised. Philippe read the look on her face as though she was an open book and he managed another smile.

'Anyone who can look at someone else with such adoration cannot be entirely written off,' Philippe shrugged.

'No,' she somehow said.

'And you…'


'You have never looked at Raoul that way, Christine,' Philippe pointed out and though she wanted to deny it she knew that it was true.

'I love Raoul,' she said, and it was the truth.

Philippe nodded but said nothing. The silence that followed was as painful as it was astonishing. Here stood two people who, not for one day since they had known each other, had ever had a civil conversation, were now almost having one in the face of an undeniable disloyalty.

She swallowed, trying to wet her mouth, 'I do, you must know that,'

'I know,' he finally said and when she looked in his eyes again she saw only sadness. 'It is not the same though, is it? It doesn't feel the same,'

She stared at him in utter astonishment. 'How…'

'I have loved,' he said and almost let out a laugh. 'You look at me like that but it is true. Philippe de Chagny, utter cad, has loved,'

She nor Raoul had ever known of any love in his life, not in France nor America but now looking at him she saw that he was telling her the truth. 'Who?'

'Who is unimportant,' he explained. 'She is gone now,'

'Gone?' she asked, feeling a flutter of sorrow in her heart. She knew what he would say before the words even arrived.

'Dead,' he said and in that second she could have sworn she saw the glassiness of tears, ever so briefly, in his eyes. 'Paris…'

'But you were courting that landowner's daughter… Monique…'

This time he did laugh but it was completely devoid of any humour. 'Yes, I was doing what was expected…'

'And then we moved to America,' she said the realisation suddenly hitting her. The move, the drinking, the wasting of money… the recklessness… the lack of care for anything… anymore.

'I loved her,' Philippe told her, with a sadness that Christine felt in her very own veins. It trembled from him and found her and she shook too with his pain.

'I am sorry,' she managed to say and was surprised to find that she meant it with all of her heart.

He looked at her, eyes as sober and clear as she had seen them in years, and asked. 'Where do we go from here?'

She swallowed, 'Will you tell Raoul?'

Philippe shook his head, 'It is not my secret to tell,'

She looked down at her hands, knowing that now the inevitable must happen. She chuckled to herself, 'I have managed to prove you right, haven't I?'

Philippe smiled, 'Not really. I never expected it to be you to come to your senses about the marriage,'

She was surprised by the statement but did not have time to say so. He turned his back to her and walked to the stage door. 'Christine,' he called back.

'Yes?' she asked.

'I don't want Raoul to find out on his own,' he said. 'I won't tell him but I really think that you ought to,'

And with that parting sentiment, he was gone.


A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Immokk

Part 30 of 39

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