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.

Expected Company

Chapter 17


Raoul awoke the next morning, his head ached and his eyelids felt as if sand lie behind them. Sometime in the night, an unknown person had cleared the remnants of his destruction away. The room looked as if nothing untowardly had occurred in it. He turned, as he became aware of a presence in the bed. Raoul was surprised to see Christine lying next to him. She slept soundly like one who had been awake most of the night. The memories of the previous evening came rushing back to him, hitting him in the chest like a hammer blow.

He reached out a hand to stroke her soft cheek. “Oh Christine,” he sighed.

Unable to bear the sight of her for a moment longer, he turned over on his side and stared at the silk covered walls, preferring their company to his disloyal Bride’s. Oh, how his friends had tried to talk him out of marrying her when he had first made his intentions known. They had deemed the ex-showgirl only fit for a tumble, or maybe a mistress, but certainly not wife material. For the first time he wondered if, they had had the right of it.

He turned back to look at her, he reached out to touch her stomach. How the phantom must have laughed at his conquest of his wife. Did she even try to resist his seduction of her without a struggle? Had she lain on her back as soon as he asked her? Had she ever really loved him? Last night he had watched, as she had opened herself to the phantom like any practised whore, revelling in his touch. If he closed his eyes, he could see her head lying against the pillows, while her monstrous lover dipped his head between her parted legs and kissed her intimately

Raoul’s hands curled into fists at the thought of them together. A red haze of anger and pain settled over him, as he pulled back the covers to expose his wife’s body to his gaze. He thrust a hand under the hem of her nightgown, roughly caressing her thighs, with cruel fingers that bit into the tender flesh. Christine awoke, her eyes widened with shock as she tried to push his hands away as his fingers brushed against her sex.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“Taking a husband’s rights, surely, you will not deny me that. What is the matter my love? Don’t you want me to touch you there?” he asked.

Christine did not know the cruel stranger in her bed and he frightened her. She struggled to close her legs and pull down her nightgown as he knelt between them and grabbed her hips, lifting her lower body from the bed until he was positioned at her entrance.

“Raoul, please no, the baby,” she begged.

Her words had the desired effect on Raoul as all the fight went out of him. He got off the bed and walked over to the window. He pulled back the curtains and stared out onto the park. His gaze followed the copse of trees in the distance. He could hear the faint sound of Christine sobbing into her pillow. He hated himself at that moment for what he had almost done to her. He had become like the very monster he loathed.

He walked away from the window, went to his wardrobe, and began to dress himself, afraid of what he might do if left alone with her for a moment longer.

Christine heard his movements and raised a tearstained face in shock, as she realised for the first time that he could walk. She wiped her eyes, sat up in the bed, and watched him while he dressed, afraid to speak.

When he had buttoned up his waistcoat, he glanced her way before shrugging on his jacket. “Yes my love I can walk. I was saving it as a surprise for your birthday next week, but now you know,” he said coldly.

At Christine’s continued silence, he turned around to look at her properly for the first time since he tried to assault her. The distress on her face almost moved him, until the images of her wanton behaviour the night before, reminded him of her treachery. She was a consummate actress, he may have let his temper get the better of him on this occasion, but he would not allow it to happen again. He walked towards her and she flinched noticeably as he advanced on her.

“Christine, you have nothing to fear from me. I have no excuses for my earlier behaviour, all I can do is beg your forgiveness,” he illustrated his point by going down on one knee before her.

Christine looked at him searching his face, but seeing only concern and regret on his features, she nodded her answer, not trusting herself to speak for a few moments.

“I forgive you Raoul,” she said softly.

His hands curled resentfully for a moment, before leaning across her to place a kiss on her lips. She turned her head at the last moment and his mouth made contact with her cheek instead. Raoul pulled away and got to his feet.

“I will be in the study if you need me; I have much estate business to catch up on. Being bedridden these last few weeks has put me hopelessly behind,”

“Shall I ask a cook to set you a place for luncheon?” she asked, finding a haven in the mundane.

“No, that shall not be necessary. I will dine in my study,” he touched her cheek and walked from the room.

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

It was not until Raoul had left, that she felt she could finally breathe again. What had caused him to behave so? Christine paled as a thought occurred to her. She took the key from the locket around her neck and hastily opened her bureau drawer. She sagged in relief. Everything appeared untouched and how she had left it previously. She locked it back up and suddenly feeling very tired, she lay back against the sheets. Maybe Raoul was just reacting from the trauma of the battle. She had heard stories of how it could change a man, and even the seemingly most gentle of men, beyond all recognition. A fear crept into her heart, which would not leave her, a fear that in some way he had discovered her secret.

If Raoul had violated her as he had almost done, he would not have been able to live with himself. She closed her eyes in an attempt to get some rest. Sleep was so much harder to come by now that she was almost ready to bear her child. No matter how she lay, she could not get comfortable. With a heavy sigh, she rang the bell and Charlotte arrived breathless to assist her with dressing.

“Madame you are well?” asked Charlotte as she noticed her mistress’s tearstained face.

“I am well thank you,” Christine’s lip trembled and she broke down, no longer able to pretend.

Charlotte, throwing all servant mistress protocol to the wind, walked over to Christine and wrapped her arms around her while she let out her tears. She stroked Christine’s hair.

“There Madame, it is common for ladies to be emotional in your condition. My older sister had a babe last year and she was always crying over something,”

Christine smiled up at her maid through her tears. “Thank you Charlotte,”

For the first time, Christine wished she had not made Erik promise to keep away from the house. She needed to feel his arms around her, telling her that everything would be fine and they would get their happy ending. She needed to believe, for at that moment, all she could see before her was heartache and misery.

“My husband is in the study?” she asked.

“Yes Madame, he gave strict instructions not to be disturbed for anything,”

“And Meg?” asked Christine.

“She is in her mother’s apartments,”

“Good, help me dress Charlotte, something warm and suitable for walking,”

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

Raoul paced the floor of his oak panelled study. His desk was scattered with papers and personal correspondences, but try as he might, he could not apply his mind to the tasks that needed his attention. He looked a strange sight from his usually well-groomed self, his hair was in wild disarray from the amount of times he had raked his fingers through it. Raoul walked back over to the desk and sat back behind it and laid his head on it’s surface. He stared out into the rose garden, which he could see from the window.

A flash of petal pink caught his eye as he saw the skirts of a lady as she passed the window. At first, he had thought it was Christine. As he strode over to the window and looked out, he saw Meg, as she leisurely took a walk. She turned as if knowing she was being watched and she made to smile at whoever it was. The smile faded to surprise at the unexpected sight of the Vicomte, as she took in the fact that he was on his feet. After the initial shock had begun to fade, she noted the wildness of his appearance, the crumpled shirt, untidy hair and the strange way he regarded her.

Raoul opened the patio doors and walked out to meet her. She must have shared in her friend’s deception. How sweetly she smiles at me. He thought to himself. She had to have known, Meg is her closest friend and confidante.

“Vicomte this is a surprise. You can walk,” said Meg.

“I have had use of my legs for some time now,” he informed her.

Meg felt the hairs at the nape of her neck, prickle at his statement. Why would he wish to hide the fact? She had come to visit with him and Christine in his boudoir only the day before. He had made all pretence of still being in an invalided state on that occasion.

“Please call me Raoul, I think we have been acquaintances of long enough standing to use first names, Meg,” he smiled at her a smile that did not reach to his eyes. “I can tell you are curious as to why I would hide the fact that I am able to walk again,”

“Maybe just a little Raoul,” she blushed.

“As you are aware, it is my wife’s birthday next week, I was saving it as a surprise for her, but circumstances were such that she has found me out. Besides, secrets between a husband and wife are never a good thing. Wouldn’t you agree Meg?”

Meg nodded uncertainly and he continued.

“Good, now we have gotten that out of the way, as Christine’s friend I think I should tell you that I am concerned about her,”

Meg frowned. “In what way? She is not unwell monsieur?”

“No, Christine is well, but I was more interested in how she spends her day,”

“Why, most of the time she is with me. I am her companion. Not just because I am paid to be, but because she is like a sister to me,”

“Hmm, and sisters often share many things do they not?” asked Raoul.

“I-I suppose so,”

“You would tell me if there was anything that I would need to be concerned about, as your employer and Christine’s husband?”

“Oui, but there is nothing to tell. I think I will go find my mother, she will be wondering where I have gotten to,” said Meg.

Raoul’s expression hardened at her obvious unease. She knew! In addition, had no doubt been covering for his wife’s indiscretions. The guilt was written plainly on her face for him to read as she avoided his eyes. As she made to pass him, his arm snaked out and caught hers in a tight grip.

“You wouldn’t lie to me Meg?” he asked.

Meg’s face flushed angrily at his accusations, as she pulled her arm out of his grasp. “I do not know what you are alluding to Vicomte, but do not insult me in this manner again, or I might be forced to reconsider my position in this household,” she snapped before walking off.

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

By the time, that Meg had made it to her mother’s apartments she was almost in tears. The customarily gentle Vicomte had frightened her. There was a new hardness and a purpose to him that she had not seen before.

As she entered her mother’s living quarters, she was surprised to see Christine there, seated in one of the chairs in the living room. From the distress in her friend’s eyes, she could see that she had been crying. Maybe it was this cursed place that drew the very soul from all who lived here she wondered.

“Christine, what is wrong?” asked Meg.

Christine remained silent and looked away, studying the pattern on the hearthrug.

Madame Giry returned from her kitchen. “I do not know child, for she will not tell me,” she sighed, looking at her daughter for the first time and noting her pallor. “Are you unwell Meg, you look so drawn,”

“Um, no, there was something in the garden that disagreed with me that is all,”

Her mother frowned at her. “So many gloomy faces today! Why don’t you take Christine for a walk? I have things that I need to attend to,”

Madame Giry hovered for a moment, as she wondered if she should mention the broken figurines in Christine’s bedroom. However, she had far too many things to do and decided against worrying Christine with the news. She left her apartments to attend to the busy household.

Christine spoke for the first time. “I should like that,” her voice coming out in a pained whisper.

Meg held out a hand to help her friend to her feet. The two women exited the apartments by her mother’s private door, so as not to alert the household of their leaving. It was not until they were free of the house did either of them feel as if they could breathe again.

“Now, will you tell me what you could not tell mama?” asked Meg.

Christine looked at the grass beneath her feet, before glancing up at her friend. “It was Raoul, h-he tried to force his attentions on me,” she finished in a rush. “But he didn’t,” she added.

Meg wrapped her arms around her friend. “Oh Christine, I must tell you that I ran into your husband this morning before I arrived at my mother’s apartments. He behaved very strangely. Do you think there is any chance that he knows your secret?” she asked.

“No it is impossible, I may not have always been as careful as I might…if he knew he would tell me, I am sure of it,”

“But then, why conceal the fact that he has use of his legs,”

“He said he was keeping it as a surprise for my birthday,”

Meg sighed, “He told me the same thing. Did you go to Erik last night by any chance?”

“Yes, but I made sure that he was asleep before I left. Raoul had taken a dose of laudanum too and I was back in our bed before he awoke. I think that maybe he is suffering from the horrors of what he saw in battle. The reports of it were truly terrible, but I saw a side of him this morning that I could never imagine existed. It reminds me of a warning that Erik once gave me, about the evil that even the best of men can do in the name of love,” said Christine as she nibbled at her lip.

Meg nodded vaguely, wishing to change the subject. “Anywhere in particular you would like to walk to this beautiful morning?” she asked.

“Need you ask?”

The girls giggled, momentarily forgetting their concerns, as they headed out across the park, while unbeknownst to them Raoul watched from his bedroom window.

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

Erik was surprised from his reverie at the sound of three short knocks on his door, followed by a four second gap and one more knock. A smile played on his lips, for it was Christine’s signal to let him know that it was she. He put down his fountain pen and closed the lid of the piano as he went to answer the door.

When he opened it, Christine stood there. Her eyes lit up at the sight of him, and he took her in his arms and kissed her. When they parted, both were breathless. He led her over to his chair and insisted that she take rest.

“As overjoyed as I am to see you, should you be risking a visit in the daylight hours?”

Christine struggled to get to her feet. “I am sorry for the imposition and will return to the house,”

Erik frowned at her. “What has occurred?” he demanded.

“I needed to see you,” her bottom lip trembled as she fought back the tears that threatened to fall.

Erik went to her, knelt on the floor, and took her in his arms. They felt strong and safe and warm to her, she pulled back to look at him.

“Christine won’t you please tell me what is wrong?” he asked gently.

The love she saw shining in his eyes for her made her heart skip a beat, as she smiled weakly at him. “I am well and so is our babe. Just hold me Erik please,”

He took her in his arms again as they held on to each other in the silence of the room, her sitting and he kneeling. Christine wished they could stay like this forever. Sadly, time and reason intruded once more as they regretfully parted, each feeling the loss of each other’s embrace. He stood and held out a hand to help her to rise from her seat.

Erik held her once more, one of his hands resting on the obvious swell of her belly.

“Not much longer my love, our child will be born and then we can leave this place,”

Why didn’t I just leave months ago?” she asked him.

“Because you were scared,” He sighed before continuing. “I hope it is a daughter with beautiful eyes like her mother,”

“I am hoping for a son, I would have you know, and one that looks like its father,”

Erik stiffened in her arms. “Then you had better hope it is the Vicomte’s, for I would not wish such a curse on any child of mine,” he said bitterly.

“Oh Erik, why must you always take offence? I love you for who you are, not your appearance. When I look at you, I see only the face of the man I love,”

She raised herself on tiptoe to press a swift kiss on his lips and then she was gone. Erik went back to the piano to continue working on his composition, a smile lifting the corners of his mouth as he sat down at the stool. He smiled anew as he heard the sound of her knocks on the door again. No doubt, she had forgotten her gloves or some such nonsense. He thought to himself.

He walked over to the door and opened it. “What did you forget…now,” He stopped as he looked into the blue eyes of the Vicomte De Chagny. “Good day Vicomte. I must admit that I had expected you long before now. Won’t you come in?” Challenged Erik, as he opened the door wider.

TBC


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