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.

The Rose
Chapter 15


When Erik awoke the next morning Christine was gone. He knew she would be, but still he felt the sting of disappointment at the loss of her presence. He had done as she had asked and brought Raoul back. All he now waited for was the word from her and he could begin to arrange for them to leave this place. Happiness felt so close to being his that he felt that if he reached out a hand he could touch it.

A home and a family were all he had ever yearned for, and to share them with Christine. This had been his wish ever since she had bloomed into a beautiful young woman, and he had gone from teacher to ardent suitor. Raoul De Chagny had then become the patron at the opera populaire, crushing all his dreams with pretty talk of childhood adventures that would have best been left in the past. For they had aroused in Christine fond memories, which she had in her untried heart mistaken for love, a heart which had led them all to this moment in time. However, the past was something that he had no control over. He had long since accepted it as part of him and whatever lay ahead for them.

Raoul had seen him on that return journey home. Only when he regained consciousness and good health would Erik know what was to become of that knowledge. Whatever that young fool wanted, he would meet him willingly be it on the field or not. His pride as a husband would demand satisfaction especially when he knew just how deep the deception went. Erik knew if he were Christine’s lawful husband, he would kill the man that so much as dare touch her.

When he had first returned from Paris, he had almost wished Christine to Hades for what she had asked him to do. No matter how much he tried, he could never stay very angry with her for long. He hoped that she would realise the consequences of his actions, her part in them and never ask such a thing of him again.

He got up from the bed, walked over to the washstand, took a cloth, dipped it into the bowl of cold water, and soaped himself. His thoughts turning once more to Christine, he had forgotten his pain for a while in her arms. Her sweet passion of the previous night had stirred him to new heights. Even now his body craved hers, he wondered if it were ever the same for her in their times apart. Now that her husband had returned, it would not be so easy for her to leave the house without causing speculation among the staff.

No, she would have to play the dutiful wife, sit at her husband’s side and smile at him while reading him stories to keep him amused. Gone were those idyllic days, which they would spend together at this house. Echoes of her laughter rang through his mind as he recalled those times when they would just lie together on the bed and look at each other. Not even touching, but feeling the invisible bond between them and touch and speech were unnecessary.

He threw the towel on the bed. It was then that he noticed the bloodstained handkerchief on the floor. He stooped down to pick it up, touching it reverently and letting out a sad sigh before he stowed it away in the bureau. Had it really only been two days ago that little Jean Fasset had lost his life for that useless fop? In his mind, the boy had been worth ten of him.

As always, there was nothing to be done, but wait until she returned to him. Such was his life, but a life without her seemed so much less palatable. Erik picked up his score sheets from the table and walked into the main room to sit at his piano. It was his refuge that filled the other need in his life, the desire to create music.

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

Raoul had had a difficult night. He had sunk into a fever and there had been times when Madame Giry had feared for his life. With the first rays of morning sun, she had managed to get his temperature under control. Nevertheless, she was exhausted and her eyes ached from lack of sleep. She lifted the bedclothes to inspect his injury. The wound still looked red and angry, but at least it had not begun to putrefy as she had first thought it might. That he still slept was in his favour, as the healing process would only be helped along by the added rest. She administered laudanum to him in the rare moments whenever he awoke from the pain, which had not been for a few hours.

She looked up from her charge as Christine entered the room. “Bonjour Madame,” she greeted Christine wearily.

Christine walked over to the pale form of her husband that lay against the sheets. She stroked a damp tendril of hair from his sweat-dampened face before looking back at the other woman.

“How is he?” asked Christine.

“He is well…now Madame,”

Christine sensed there was something Madame Giry was keeping from her by the tight line of her mouth.

“What is it? Tell me,” demanded Christine.

Madame Giry sighed. “In the early hours of this morning the fever almost took him…he cried out for you several times Christine and you were not there. It distressed him greatly. One of the servants had to restrain him and then he sank back into oblivion and has not awoken since,”

Christine flushed guiltily. “I should have been here, but why did you not send Meg to come for me?”

Madame Giry shook her head. “She was needed here and what is done is done. You would have been of little use if God had decided to take him,”

“But he needed me and I have failed him yet again,” said Christine, covering her face with her hands.

Madame Giry walked over to Christine, peeled her hands away from her eyes, and looked at her. “He lives and I think soon you will have to tell him Christine…about Erik. You must. I know I advised you against it, but there can be no other way. Give him back his life. Give him back the chance to find happiness with another. I don’t think he will ever feel for another woman what he feels with you, but he deserves peace, as do we all,”

Christine looked at Madame Giry. “Give him back his life so Meg can have him?” she snapped. “Oh yes! I know of my friend’s little infatuation with my husband,”

Madame Giry walked away from Christine and her face flushed with anger. “Meg does love your husband which is more than I can say for you. She has no designs on the Vicomte. As soon as your baby is born she intends to leave,”

“Leave?” asked Christine, shocked.

“Oui Madame, she is going to Milan where I hope she lives a very happy life and can put all of this turmoil behind her,”

Christine was instantly contrite. “Forgive me,” she said, instantly ashamed of her outburst. “I spoke out of turn; it’s just the pressure of the last few days talking. I really am sorry,”

Madame Giry looked at Christine. “You are forgiven, but a word of warning Christine, you are beginning to sound like the dog in the manager. You do not want him, but you do not want anyone else to have him either,” she answered stiffly, before leaving the room.

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

Christine sat down in a chair beside her husband, her shoulders sagging in defeat. Madame Giry had accepted her apology, but she knew the sting of her hastily spoken words would not be so soon forgotten. She took Raoul’s hand in hers. Of course, Madame Giry was right she had to tell Raoul, he deserved that much at least.

She was surprised as Raoul turned his head to look at her. His blue eyes clouded over with pain.

“Christine,” he breathed. “I had a peculiar dream,” he winced as he tried to turn onto his side.

“You must not move. It could tear open your wound,” Christine scolded him.

“Please, I need to tell you of my dream or whatever it was,” he pleaded.

“I will only listen if you promise me not to move,”

Raoul closed his eyes as a fresh wave of pain coursed through him. Christine saw him whiten and reached for the bottle of laudanum by his bed.

“I don’t want to take any of that, it makes me sleep,” he groaned.

“Just a spoonful,” she insisted.

“Very well,” he submitted, as the gnawing pain in his back increased. He took the medicine and closed his eyes, soon drowsy. “I did not tell you my dream,” he mumbled.

“It will keep for another time. For now you must rest,” she urged.

“But it was such a strange dream,” he mumbled drowsily. “I dreamt that I was saved by the phantom, but that is impossible, is it not?” were his last words as he drifted off to sleep.

Christine’s hand flew to her mouth in shock. She began to pace the room restlessly. Had Raoul seen Erik on that return journey home and if he had, why hadn’t Erik mentioned it? Of course, it would have slipped his mind; he had been preoccupied with grieving for Jean to think about anything else. Christine was angry with herself for her selfish thoughts. However, she wanted nothing more than to go to Erik and find out if at any time during his rescue Raoul had regained consciousness.

She sat down in the uncomfortable bedside chair. For now, she was needed here and here she would stay. Christine closed her eyes and settled down in the chair as best she could.

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

Erik had finally gone to bed in defeat. He had found no haven in his music as he had hoped. He had not even bothered to undress when he had earlier retired. He rose from the bed, made his way to the living room, and lit a branch of candles to illuminate the dark room. He was surprised when he glanced at the clock on the mantle to find it was already midnight.

Disappointment lanced through him that she was not here. She had been later than this in the past, but for some reason he had a strange feeling that she would not come to him tonight. He sat in his chair in the silence and for the first time in a long time, the old feelings of loneliness that he had borne most of his life came back to haunt him tenfold. He opened the book that lay on the arm of the chair, discarded there several days ago before he had left for Paris. He began to read the words…

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress…


Erik threw the book across the room in angry frustration. Everything reminded him of her. The music, her scent on his sheets, personal items of hers scattered about the room. It was like a living shrine to his love. He needed to see her, to feel her in his arms. He got up from the chair and shrugged on his cloak, unable to bear one more moment of solitude in his illicit dwelling. He left the house and walked around to the back of it, to the shed where he kept his horse. Erik saddled him and rode off across the fields, welcoming the exhilaration of the ride. He rode the horse until they were atop a hill and he could look down on the De Chagny estate.

Light blazed from every window of the great house, standing out like a beacon across the pitch black of the night. Erik took ragged breaths to steady the violence of the emotions that ran through him. On impulse, he spurred the horse on and rode towards the house, long past caring if he were discovered.

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

Christine stirred in the chair. Her neck ached from the uncomfortable position she had laid in. She looked at Raoul. He still slept peacefully at her side. She slowly rose from the chair and stretched her stiff muscles, trying to bring some life back into them. Her stomach rumbled reminding her that she had not eaten since that morning. The hour was late and most of the servants would be abed. She touched her hand to Raoul’s forehead. Happy that all was well with him she left the room.

As she walked down the corridor, a footman gave her a low bow as he went about extinguishing the candles for the night. The house was quiet and almost eerie. The silence was broken only by the sound of her shoes on the parquet flooring. She passed through the main gallery, looking up at the De Chagny’s of old. Sometimes it felt as if they were staring down at her accusingly for daring to taint the De Chagny name with her presence.

Christine shook off her fanciful thoughts and continued on her way to the kitchens. It was not a place she knew well and was grateful for the soft moonlight which illuminated the otherwise darkened room. She managed to find a candle and lit it. The tiny light offered very little radiance, but it was better than nothing. Christine gasped as a cat jumped off one of the work surfaces and landed in her path.

She laughed at her foolishness, only to have the laughter die in her throat at the sight of a darkened figure standing in front of her. The candlestick almost slipped from her fingers.

“Christine,”

“Erik! What are you doing here? Are you mad?” she whispered loudly.

Erik pulled back the hood of his cape. Tonight he wore no mask.

“Some say I am, yes, but only where you are concerned,” he said cynically.

“What if someone had seen you?”

“I do not care anymore. Christine come away with me now. We can leave this place tonight and go somewhere where no one can ever find us or knows who we are,” he pleaded.

Christine looked up at him. “I can’t leave him, not while he needs me,” she swallowed hard, hating herself at that moment.

“And what of my needs Christine? I need you with me, in my arms in my bed. Do you know the agonies I suffer when we are apart?” he growled.

Christine looked at him with pain-filled eyes. “I know,” she said quietly turning away from him.

Tears fell down her cheeks. She could no longer bear to see the pain in his face as she ran from the room as best she could, hampered by her swollen body. Breathless, she slowly continued on her way to her husband’s room. All thoughts of finding a meal banished from her mind. Christine reached out a hand to open the door only to have it grabbed by one encased in black leather. His grip was cruel as he spun her round to face him.

“Don’t walk away from me,” he hissed at her.

He pulled her towards him and kissed her lips roughly, forcing his tongue into her mouth. Christine fought against his violent onslaught of her body. As his hand touched her breast she responded to him against her will as their conflict changed tempo and he became gentler in his touch.

She pulled her lips away from his. “We can’t” she breathed. “Raoul is only on the other side of this door and the servants might…”

Erik cut her off with an impassioned kiss. She moaned low in her throat as he kissed her deeply, her arms crept up around his neck and she thrust her fingers in his hair and pulled him closer.

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

Raoul opened his eyes and looked around the room to find he was alone. Christine was nowhere to be found. Her shawl was left draped across the chair by the bed. His throat was parched and the water glass was out of his reach. He sat up in the bed slowly, mindful of his injury. After gritting his teeth, he had managed to drag himself up into a sitting position and had swung his legs over the edge of the bed. He reached out to the water glass, almost feeling like Tantalus, as still he could not quite touch it.

He froze as he heard a low moan. It came from outside his bedroom door. What if it was Christine? She might have fallen. The possibilities raced through his head as he pulled himself to his feet. The wound in his back burning a trail of fire along his flesh, but he ignored the pain and stumbled forward on unsteady feet. He could feel wetness trickle down his back, but as to whether it was blood or sweat, he knew not.

Almost to the door, he reached out for the handle to steady himself as he turned it. Raoul looked out into the hallway, but it was empty, illuminated with only a few flickering candles lessen the gloom. The fading scent of roses caught his nostrils as he turned to begin the arduous journey back to his bed, deciding it must have been the servants. As he turned, something caught his eye and he looked down to find at his feet a single red rose with a black ribbon tied around its stem.

TBC


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