Past the point of no return

BY : spikesbint
Category: M through R > Phantom of the Opera
Dragon prints: 31287
Disclaimer: I do not own The Phantom of the Opera movie(s), nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

A/N Just wanted to say thanks for all the pretty reviews of the previous chapter.

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Chapter 14

Absolution


Erik glanced through the window at the scene before him. He could make out three people in the room. Two men were seated at a roughly made table playing cards. A third man lay on the floor, tightly bound and apparently unconscious. His hair covered his face, but Erik would have known that shoulder length blonde hair anywhere. For him to be bound must mean that he still lived. The dead had no need of restraints. An overwhelming sense of disappointment flooded him at the idea that the Vicomte still lived. He could not lie to himself; he had hoped it was a body he would be recovering for Christine.

He looked across at Jean. The boy stood the other side of the doorway, nodding his readiness to him. They charged into the room in the hopes of taking their quarry by surprise. The DuPonts were more prepared for them than they had anticipated. They both pulled out guns that were previously concealed under the table. Erik shot the pistol out of one of the man’s hands and struck him to the ground. He then levelled his gun at the other, but not before the man was able to get a round off. As he tried to reload, Erik’s fist connected with his face and knocked him unconscious.

“There Jean, that wasn’t so bad was it? We make quite the team,” said Erik.

He turned to face his accomplice, horror struck at the pathetic little figure doubled over on the floor. A dark river of blood flowed from under him, staining the floorboards in its path. He had seen much so bloodshed in his life and had even been the cause of it. But nothing had prepared him for this. Erik turned the boy over onto his back. Jean smiled up at him, his face deathly pale as his frame shook with pain. Erik peeled back the edges of his tattered shirt to inspect the wound. He cursed himself for allowing the boy to come with him; he should have made him leave.

“Am I done for?” asked Jean.

Erik looked at him. He considered lying to the boy about his injury, but decided that he deserved to know the truth. He nodded at him, unable to voice the words.

Jean wheezed as he tried to catch his breath. “Tell me monsieur for I was never much for church and all, but do you think there is a place in heaven for one such as me?”

“I don’t know much about God or heaven Jean. But I do think there is a place that you go, where you will never feel cold or hungry…or pain again,”

Jean smiled at the idea. “If that is true, then I hope that is where I shall soon be.”

“Close your eyes and when you next open them you will.” said Erik quietly.

The boy took a few more shuddering gasps; he smiled at Erik and closed his eyes. “I can see it already monsieur.”

“You fought bravely tonight Jean, I was proud of you.”

Erik felt the boy’s body grow slack and gently laid him back on the floor. His hands were stained crimson with his blood, innocent blood. Erik fisted his hands together and roared an inhuman roar. He dragged one of the DuPont brothers up by the lapels of his jacket and struck him again and again, not even stopping when he heard his jaw crack. He poured all his anger and self hate into the man, only ceasing when his arms ached and he could not throw another punch. He threw him to the floor, bound both men up tightly and left them there. One of the men regained consciousness and Erik took out his knife and held it to his throat.

“I will not kill you. I have spilt enough blood for one night, but I will let the Fassets know where to find their son’s murderers. Let them deal with you.”

He strode over to the inert figure of the man in the corner. He grabbed a handful of his hair and none too gently yanked his head back, to look on the face of Raoul De Chagny. He placed a finger on his neck to find a weak pulse beating at its base. He took a blanket from the bed and covered Jean’s body reverently, before lifting the unconscious Vicomte and carrying him over his shoulder.

Only one or two people bothered to watch as the cloaked figure made his way from the DuPont house and disappeared into the darkness, before going about their own business. Death and violence was a daily occurrence among them and was hardly worthy of their attention.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

As Erik carried the Vicomte through the streets, although he was a weight, it was nothing to the one he carried in his heart. He finally experienced what it was to feel real remorse for the first time in his life. It hit him harder than he could have ever imagined. He would carry the pain of Jean’s death inside him until the day he died. He knew that, and it was a burden he welcomed.

Erik stopped to catch his breath, putting Raoul down on the street. They were making slow progress and he would never make it back to his lodgings at this pace. He looked around for a means of transport. A tavern across the street caught his eye. Horses were often stored at such places for the patrons of the establishment. He propped Raoul up against some railings. To the casual observer in this gloom, he could pass for a drunken man. Erik left him and made quick work of the lock on the gates to the inn’s courtyard.

The hour was late and all were in bed. He looked into the stable, and was relieved to find the night watchman asleep at his post. He crept inside and took a horse from its stall. He froze a couple of times as the man stirred in his sleep, but he safely managed to lead the horse into the courtyard without incidence. There was no time to saddle him, but at least he still wore a bridle.

He led the horse over to where Raoul lay, and clumsily hefted him over the back of the horse and mounted it. He arrived back at the lodgings, and left Raoul outside draped over the back of the stolen horse, caring little of his fate. He quickly packed his belongings and walked down the hall to the Fasset’s door. Quietly, he slipped a hastily scrawled note along with a wad of bank notes, under their door. Briefly informing them of their son’s death and where they could find the DuPonts. He knew their justice would be swift and fitting to the crime. But his suffering would long outlive theirs.

He wasted no time in getting back on the horse and setting off for the De Chagny estate, wanting to be out of Paris long before the rising of the sun. He was tired in body and spirit, but the thought of Christine spurred him on. He would willingly die just to see her face and breathe in her scent at that moment. He dug his heels into the horse’s side and took off at a gallop.

Paris was several miles behind him before he stopped and let the horse rest. A low moan caught his attention as he looked at Raoul. The Vicomte stirred and raised his head. His eyes widened in surprise before he sank back into unconsciousness again. So Raoul had seen him, but he was long past caring. The Vicomte’s injury, although deep was not life threatening. But he was obviously weak from loss of blood. Erik did not anticipate any resistance from him for the remainder of their journey.

He walked back over to the horse and pulled one of his knives from his boot and held it against the Vicomte’s throat. Just one flick of his wrist would make Christine a widow. He sighed and concealed it again. When Christine came to him as she had promised, he did not want it to be by default, but because he was her choice.

Erik mounted the horse again and continued at a slower pace, stopping once more when they reached the point where he had hidden his own horse. He had half expected it to be gone. But no, it was still where he had left it, contented with ample of water from a nearby stream and all the grass it could eat. He untied it, mounted it and grabbing the reins of the other horse, he headed for home.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Erik had been gone two nights now, and for almost two nights she had been without sleep. She wrapped the shawl around her shoulders as she shivered in the predawn air. The sky was slowly turning lighter and the stars were fading. She walked out onto the balcony and down the stone steps. Christine had been afraid to sleep, keeping watch for her lover’s safe return. Had she been mad to risk his life on pure instinct? Should she do as the others had told her and accept that Raoul was not coming back? No she would not and she trusted Erik to return with her husband no matter what.

Christine made her way across the grass; her slippers were instantly soaked in the early morning dew. From a distance she could make out a rider with two horses making his way slowly up the long drive to the house. She knew it was Erik and her heart lifted at the sight of him. She stood waiting for him to reach her, frustrated that she couldn’t run to him. The breath caught in her throat as she saw he was not alone as she had at first feared.

Erik brought the horses to a stop and wearily dismounted his horse, stumbling slightly as he came towards her. Christine rushed to his side and put her arm around him.

“Are you hurt?” she asked.

“Nowhere that it would show,” He replied. “Here is your husband Madame and he lives.”

Christine flushed guilty as he reminded her. She walked over to her husband’s form, gasping at the dried blood that caked his shirt. She touched a hand to his forehead.

“He is burning up. Help me get him to the house so I can send for the doctor,” she asked.

Erik sighed and led the horse up the remainder of the drive.

“I have done as you asked. Let the servants take care of it. I need to rest.”

Christine went up on tiptoe and kissed his cheek and wrapped her arms around him. “Thank you Erik. I thank God for bringing you safely back to me. I will come to you later after the doctor has visited.”

Erik nodded at her curtly before mounting his horse and riding away. Christine wasn’t sure if it was the overactive imaginings of her tired mind, but she had felt as if he had placed an invisible barrier between them. She rang for the servants to assist with her husband, informing them that a member of his regiment had found him and returned him to them. Only two other people knew better, Madame Giry and Meg.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It was much later before Christine was able to leave the house. The hour was close to midnight, but her obligations to Raoul kept her there. Madame Giry had also insisted that she get some rest, if not for her sake then, at least for the sake of her child. She had found to her surprise that her that she fallen asleep almost as soon as her head had hit the pillow. It had been dark when she had awakened and she was feeling much improved for her rest.

The doctor had had some concerns about Raoul’s rising temperature; he had cleaned his wounds and set him to rights as best as he was able. He still remained unconscious which the doctor had explained, could possibly be to do with his fever. Doctor Vaullario had left them some laudanum for any pain he might suffer.

The sabre that had cut her husband had been deep. The doctor suspected some nerve damage as it had almost sliced through him to the bone. Only time would tell if he were to make a full recovery. Madame Giry sat with him now, bathing his forehead and keeping watch. So the little twinge of guilt that Christine felt in leaving him was soon replaced with thoughts of Erik.

She made her way across the darkened park; the air was clean and crisp. Her breath came out in white clouds in the cool night air. She held up the lantern that guided her way to him. The excitement coursed through her at the thought of their reunion. She had much to thank him for. As she neared the house she could hear the sound of his piano. The tune was sad and mournful and made her sigh. The music that he played was often reflective of his frame of mind. She opened the door quietly and stood in silence until he had finished playing.

When he turned around, she was surprised to see tears in his eyes. Christine covered the space between them, placing the lantern down on the piano and she wrapped her arms around him. He breathed her in, deeply. She smelt so warm and fragrant that some of the horror of the last few days receded from his heart.

“Oh, Christine,” his head rested against her stomach. Feeling the new life within stir beneath his cheek only served to remind him of the young life that had been taken only hours before.

He stood up and brushed past her and walked into his bedroom. She followed him, confused at his actions. He was standing by the window, his anger, almost a tangible thing, evident in the way he held his body.

“Erik what is wrong?” she asked.

He spun around to face her. “Everything and nothing.”

“I don’t understand,”

He looked at her. “No you wouldn’t. I once heard you say that I kill without a thought and murder all that’s good. So, how can I expect you to understand?”

Christine flinched at his words, and flushed guiltily. “I was a green girl back then and I had no idea of you ever hearing those words,”

“In some ways you still are that innocent Christine. If only you knew that there is nothing thoughtless about taking a life. I should know as I have taken many.”

Erik pulled back his sleeve to reveal the handkerchief she had given him. He untied it and threw it at her. She was horrified to see the blood upon it. She picked it up from where it had landed on the bed.

“You were hurt?” she asked.

“Oh, it is not my blood,” he sneered. “But the blood of an innocent used to purchase your husband’s liberty. His name was Jean, and he was no more than a child.”

A shocked gasp left her lips as the handkerchief fell from her fingers as if it burned her. Erik took in the sudden pallor of her face and almost regretted his stark words. But he had to share his burden, for it weighed heavily on his soul.

“I am sorry,” was all she could think to say. “I never thought…”

Erik strode towards her and gripped her arms. “Christine, you sent me out to become the very thing you loathe…a killer. And I have killed and now these hands will never be clean again.” he said, releasing her arms to hold his hands out to her.

She looked up at him, as the tears fell down her face. She took his hands in hers. “Tell me what happened,”

Erik shook his head. “I can’t, not now. Help me forget Christine, I need you.” he pleaded.

She read the desperation in his eyes she decided not to press him further on the matter. She removed his mask and leaned up to kiss him. Their lips met hungrily and with passion. Both of them were eager to block out the ugliness, if only for a little while and find refuge in each others arms. He led her over to the bed and they sat there together.

His lips left hers to trail along her throat, his tongue teasing the pulse point at the base of her neck. Erik tore the front of her dress, paying little heed to the ruination of the rich fabric. He was in no mood to be gentle. She made no protest, giving him what she knew he needed. She welcomed the touch of his fingers as they slipped inside to cup her breast. He heard her catch her breath as he rubbed a fingertip across the sensitive bud, teasing it to hardness. Christine’s hands moved lower to stroke him through the material of his black close fitting pants. He ground himself against her, making her aware of his need.

She drew back to lift his shirt over his head and run her fingers over his chest, touching the fine smattering of hair as she kissed her way down it, until she reached the waistband of his trousers and unbuttoned them. Christine slipped her hand inside and took his pulsing flesh in her hand. She moved off the bed and knelt on the floor, glancing up at him before lowering her head.

Erik closed his eyes, letting the feel of her lips on him blot out his pain. He thrust his fingers through her dark curls. His head thrown back, lost in the pleasure that she gave him. He could feel his release was near. But he needed to be inside her, not like this. He gently lifted her head and brought her to her feet. He helped her remove the rest of her clothing before pulling her back on the bed with him. They lay down together side by side.

He kissed her deeply. Her little cry of surprise lost in the depths of her mouth as he rolled them both over. He pulled her on top of him and joined their bodies together. Christine broke the kiss and sat up, with him buried deep inside her. They looked at each other and in a way it was more deeply erotic than act its self as they read each others eyes.

She began to move, slowly at first, revelling in his responses to her. But he did not allow her mastery of him for long, as he gripped her hips and thrust into her harder and faster. All she could do was throw her head back, enraptured at the pleasure he brought them both. Their bodies were slick, and glistened in the candlelight as they came together, both crying out their release.

Christine sagged against him, limp and spent. She rained little kisses all over his face. “I love you so much, forgive me,” she sobbed against his skin.

Erik looked at her, capturing her lips with his own. He pulled back his head and sighed. “There is nothing to forgive. Just promise me that you will never stop loving me.”

“While there is breath in my body you will have my heart Erik. I suspect that even death would not end what lies in here.” She said touching her chest.

He smiled at her, the first real smile since his return. He gently rolled her over and pulled her into his arms. As he looked at her, it saddened him to see that the innocence of her eyes was slowly fading. Erik knew that he was in part responsible for its loss, but it was better for her to walk this world in knowledge than ignorance, he reasoned.

“I love you Christine.” he whispered before closing his eyes.

He prayed for dreams that would not include the sight of his blood covered hands. Her even breathing at his side told him that she was already asleep. His hand rested on her stomach, feeling the babe move inside her again. This time it brought him only joy as he finally drifted off.

TBC


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