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 matter of honour
Chapter 18


The Vicomte looked at him for several seconds before entering the house. Erik could see a flicker of fear in his eyes as the other man looked at him. The idea made him smile a little to himself. Raoul entered the living room and Erik closed the door and turned around to face him.

“Please have a seat. I promise not to squeeze the life out of you…yet,” he said wryly, reminding the Vicomte of their last encounter.

“I prefer to stand,” said Raoul, his fists curled at his sides as he struggled to keep control of the rage that boiled inside of him. He took a couple of deep steadying breaths to bring some sense of composure to the violence of his emotions.

Erik walked over to the chair and sat down, feeling in no way intimidated by the Vicomte looming over him.

“I should have you run off my land or set the authorities on you. You are a wanted murderer,”

“You would not live long enough to tell the tale monsieur,” said Erik, his tone quietly menacing while studying his nails in boredom.

“I want to kill you for what you have done to my Christine,” snarled Raoul.

“What exactly have I done?” asked Erik, his countenance a picture of innocence.

“You have seduced an innocent girl is what you have done,”

“And she enjoyed every moment of it. She is a very apt pupil in my bed and out of it,” Erik laughed at him mockingly. “I presume that you just didn’t hold her interest after all,”

“You are an evil monster,”

“Christine does not seem to object to my proclivities. She is very giving. Who would have guessed such sensuousness lay behind that innocent exterior,” Erik licked his lips to make his point.

Raoul could take it no more, he lunged at Erik and wrestled him to the floor, taking the phantom off guard for a moment and landing him a couple of punches before Erik got him around the throat and pressed down on his windpipe. Raoul fought against his grip like a fish out of water, Erik being the stronger of the two, kept his hold on him easily.

“I wonder how much pressure I would need to apply to end your worthless life. Hear this Vicomte, and listen well. Christine and I are in love and would have been together long before now if you hadn’t shown up at the opera house and wooed her with your pretty words,”

Raoul felt dark spots form behind his eyes as Erik continued to crush as his throat. He clawed at the phantom’s fingers in a vain attempt to free himself. Just as he thought he had breathed his last, Erik released him and he lay on the floor gasping for breath.

“Why didn’t you kill me? It was you who brought me back from Paris, wasn’t it?” asked Raoul hoarsely, as he finally found his voice.

“I did it because Christine asked it of me. I would have been happy to leave you there to rot. Be glad I am in a good humour today and have let you live. Enough blood has already been spilt for you. I am in no mood to spill more,” said Erik as he stood up and regarded Raoul, as he was a speck of annoying dirt on the rug.

Raoul slowly got to his feet while Erik sat back down and watched him while dusting off his trousers in a laid-back manner that only served to inflame Raoul’s temper. He was wise enough to not attempt to attack the phantom again, putting his hands behind his back as he looked at Erik

“I demand satisfaction Monsieur,” Raoul announced.

Erik nodded at him thoughtfully. “I wondered when you would get around to the matter at hand. But I must say I am not surprised by your demands, if your dogged resilience in the past is anything to go by. Are you really so anxious to meet your maker, boy?”

Raoul removed one of his leather gloves, walked forward, struck Erik hard across the cheek.

“You have been challenged and shall take up my challenge unless you wish to appear a coward. If you have no second, which I doubt you do, then I will find one for you. Two days from now, I will expect you to meet me at the edge of this copse at dawn, and if I were you I would be the one getting prepared to meet my maker, which in your case would be the devil himself,”

The tightening of Erik’s fingers on the arm of the chair was the only indication to the emotions that were running through him at that moment. He turned towards the Vicomte, but his face betrayed not one flicker of what he was feeling as he eyed him coldly.

“If I accept your challenge and I am the victor, what will be your terms?” He asked unemotionally, before looking away into the dying embers in the hearth.

“If you win and I am still alive, I will allow you to leave here with my wife, but my child I shall keep,” said Raoul

“I am sorry to disillusion you in anyway dear Vicomte, but the child that she carries is most likely to be mine. I either take them all or nothing,”

“The child by law will be mine, no matter who its maker is. You want Christine and the babe? Then you had best make sure that you kill me, for it would only be over my dead body that I would let you take it,”

“It would be my pleasure,” said Erik. Already dismissing Raoul from his thoughts.

“And if you are not there to meet me for the duel, I will send by a dispatch rider a letter to the chief of police instructing him of your whereabouts,”

“Do not fret Vicomte for I will be there. I happen to think that Christine is worth the fighting for. If she were my wife, I would have had no trouble keeping her. Are you sure that you are not the one who is lacking in courage?” he added.

Raoul, walking towards the door, paused briefly before exiting the house, leaving Erik to his thoughts. He sighed heavily, as usual Christine had been her naďve self and had thought that this day could be in some way avoidable. He had known it would come, from the moment he took her into his bed and made her his. He would meet the Vicomte, but he would do all he could to protect Christine from what was to happen if he could. She was so close to the birth of her child, the thought saddened him. For in two days he could be dead and would never know if her child was his.

Although Erik was confident in his skills of combat, he knew that all it would take was one lucky shot on Raoul’s part and it would all be over. The thought tore him in half that it came at a time in his life when he had finally realised that he loved it.

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

Raoul watched the women walk back to the house and set out after them at a slower pace, keeping to whatever cover he could find, so as not to alert them of his presence.

When they entered the house he, slipped around the side and re-entered it though the windows of his study. He had just seated himself behind the desk, when a knock sounded on the door. He looked up as Christine peered cautiously around the edge of the doorframe. He read the fear in her eyes and hated himself for putting it there.

“Come in,” he encouraged warmly.

Christine smiled in relief at his wholehearted greeting as she entered the room and closed the door.

“I came to see how you were feeling,” she said as she took one of the chairs across from where he sat.

Raoul sighed and looked at her in awkward embarrassment.

“It is I who should be asking after you, but I was too ashamed to come to you after what I almost did to you this morning,”

Raoul realised that he meant it. No matter how angry he felt towards her, she had in no way deserved the disgusting attack he had visited upon her person. She might seem ready to forgive him for whatever demons had driven him to behave that way, but he was in no mind to forgive himself.

“Please, I don’t want to talk about it,” said Christine, struggling to keep the pain out of her voice.

“I wonder that you can even bear to be in the room with such as monster,”

“Raoul, you are not a monster, just a man,” she replied, looking out towards the window.

“But I could have hurt you, really hurt you,”

“But you didn’t. I cannot pretend that it has not affected things between us…but hopefully we can work on mending that hurt, given time,”

Raoul bristled angrily at the emotion her innocent words stirred within him. She dared to mention that they try to work out their problems while she sat there carrying another’s child having only lain in his arms the night before? Moreover, she questioned his morals. Whatever the outcome of his duel with the phantom, he would get his man of business to alter his will making sure that she and her lover would not profit from his death.

Raoul nodded at her vaguely before answering. “Yes of course my dear. I have to leave you for a few hours; I am hopelessly behind in my dealings. I am going to visit Monsieur Philippe in the village,”

“Your lawyer?” She frowned. “Do you think it wise? It is your first day out of the sick room,”

“I am well enough. All those weeks of sitting in bed, I find I have plenty of excess energy. What with cook’s excellent food and all, I am in grave danger of growing fat,”

Christine smiled. “I seriously doubt that will ever happen,”

He looked at her sadly. “Ah, but I am slowly discovering that life rarely turns out how one expects or wishes it to,”

“That is true. So, I am to be left to my own devices for the rest of the day?” she asked.

“I think being so close to our…child’s,” he almost choked on the word before continuing “birth, that it would be unwise for you to accompany me,”

“I am sure I can find something to occupy my time until your return,” she smiled at him sweetly.

Raoul got up from behind the desk and walked over to her side. “Of that I am certain, my love,” he kissed the top of her head and exited the study.

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

Christine did not want to move for several moments, bathing in the warm sun that shone in through the study windows. She closed her eyes for a moment, Erik’s face entered her mind, and she smiled to herself, her heart full with love for him. She sighed and opened them again as she thought of the cruel injustice she had done her husband. She did love him, but it was a pale shadow to the love that she bore Erik.

Christine got up from the chair, much of her natural grace gone for the time, with the weighty burden of her unborn child. A burden that she cherished, a little smile played at her lips when she thought of how soon she would be able to hold the physical proof of her and Erik’s love in her arms. Her hands rested on her stomach as she made her way over to her husband’s desk to see what he had been working on.

Maybe there was something that she could assist him with, she mused as she sat behind the desk and picked up some of the letters from its surface. As she scanned through the correspondence, she found several invitations to up and coming dinners and parties being held by their neighbours. She took the fountain pen from the desk holder to reply to them, finding the inkwell empty she searched the drawers for a fresh bottle. As she opened one, a newspaper clipping caught her attention.

She took it out and read it slowly, realising it was a list of his comrades at arms. From the date at the top of the page, it was several weeks old. Christine felt the blood drain from her face as she read the names on it. Etienne Ravenaux She read the date of his death. It was a whole day before Erik had gone to save him from the gang that were going to hold him to ransom. She crushed the piece of paper in her hands tightly. He must know, it would explain everything. It all made sense, from the violence of his attack on her, to his concealing the state of his health.

Erik had finally poured the whole story out to her in the end, when he had felt able to talk about what had occurred those two days he had been in Paris. It had been a truly terrible time for him. She still burned with the shame of what she had put him through. She was brought back to the present, by sound of a knocking on the study door.

“Enter,”

“Christine, the Vicomte has just left. It is well past lunch. I thought you must be hungry. You have to keep your strength up,” Said Madame Giry reprovingly as she set a tray down on the desk.

“Thank you, I will try to eat for the sake of the babe, but I must admit to having no appetite for it,” she sighed.

“Is there something troubling you Madame?”

“I am worried about Raoul. He has been acting strangely for the last two days. Have you noticed anything untoward in his manner?” asked Christine.

“Nothing remarkable Christine…unless…”

“What is it?” She asked.

“Last night, I stopped by your rooms to see if you were returning or not and I found your favourite figures smashed to pieces,”

“Do you think it was Raoul?”

“By the disorder of the room I would say so,”

“I had noticed they were gone, but thought one of the maids had moved them for cleaning,” Christine admitted. She handed Madame Giry the piece of paper that she still held. “Oh God he knows. He has to, what else can explain it. There is nothing for it; Erik and I must leave here and now before Raoul returns,”

“No Madame you cannot, what If you were to have your child on the journey? Do you wish for it to be born on the roadside? You must stay here until the baby comes. Your greatest weapon is that the Vicomte is unaware of your discovery. You must act as if nothing has occurred,”

“I don’t think I can do that,”

“You must and you will, for your sake and for Erik’s,”

Christine smiled at Madame Giry through her tears. “You care about him, don’t you?” she asked.

Madame Giry nodded. “Oui, I am the nearest thing to family he has ever known, but now he has you and I am happy for him,”

Christine gasped as she thought of something. “But Erik, oh God what if Raoul knows where he is and is there this very moment?” asked Christine.

“Hush child you cannot know that. Do not distress yourself,”

“I need to know he is safe, and then I will rest,” said Christine.

“I will send Meg. You cannot make the journey to the summerhouse twice in one day,”

Christine took a sheet of paper from the desk and hastily wrote a message on it and sealed it before handing it to Madame Giry. She walked to the door and turned around to face Christine.

“Do not worry, all will be well,”

“I wish I could believe that. Tell Meg to tell Erik that I give him leave to come to the house,”

“Very well, where shall I send him to? You can both use my apartments if you need privacy to talk,”

“Thank you,”

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

Meg mounted Christine’s horse dressed in breeches and a man’s shirt. Her attire would have shocked more genteel company, but she often felt hampered by the fashions of the day. She spurred the horse on, with Christine’s letter clasped firmly in her hand. It took only moments for the horse to eat up the distance to the clearing, and as she got off the horse, she tied it to a nearby tree.

Meg could not stop the nervous fluttering of her heart as she neared the summerhouse. He was still that fearful legend to her, the stuff of horror stories that the all girls used to whisper to each other in the opera dorms late at night. Back then, Christine had been blissfully unaware that it had been her angel of music, of which they had spoken.

She sighed, in mourning for the old times at her former home, gasping as she walked into something warm and solid. She looked up into the grey eyes of the phantom. He had donned his white mask, which he often did when she accompanied Christine.

He gripped her by the arms. “What is it? Is it Christine?” Meg moved out of his hold on her, he released her, his hands falling to his sides. “Excuse me mademoiselle,” he uttered.

“Christine is well,” she assured him. “I bring a note from her to you,” she handed it to him.

Erik snatched it from her fingers impatiently and perused it.

“So, she knows that the Vicomte has discovered out secret,” he said.

“You do not seem surprised monsieur,”

“I am not, but I have my reasons. Before we set off to the house, tell me Meg, how is Christine after what Raoul did to her?” he asked.

Meg flushed. “She is coping as best she can. It was a great shock to her. We now think that he tried to violate her because he knew about the two of you,” she admitted. Erik felt the dark murderous anger seep into his soul as he looked at Meg. She backed away in fear at what she read in his face. “You didn’t know did you?” she guessed.

“But I do now, thank you for calling my bluff and telling me the truth behind her earlier distress,”

He strode off behind the house to where his horse was stabled, Meg followed him. “What do you intend to do. You cannot kill the Vicomte,”

“I don’t intend to put paid to his existence today. Or the next, but after that I cannot promise. Do not worry little one, time equals all things,” he replied enigmatically.

Meg frowned, sensing some deeper meaning behind his words, but she knew she would not trick the truth out of him as easily as he had done to her. She mounted her horse and it took all her skills as an equestrian to keep up with him and the powerful black stallion.

As they reached the house, and he dismounted, striding off in the direction of Madame Giry’s apartments. Leaving Meg to stable the horses. Erik burst into the house unannounced, taking both Christine and Madame Giry by surprise.

“Erik,”

He turned to look at Madame Giry. “Leave us,” She looked at him and his resolute expression before exiting the room. Erik turned back to face Christine, his look accusing. “Why didn’t you tell me?” he demanded.

“I did, the note explained everything and that Raoul knows,” she replied, a little confused.

“But you left out the most important thing,”

“And what was that?” she asked.

“That your husband tried to rape you,” he said quietly, the words paining him.

“How did you know?” she demanded.

“Meg, she thought I knew. She did not set out to betray your confidence. What I want to know is why you didn’t tell me?” he asked.

“Because I knew what you would do to him,” she sighed.

Erik knew it too. For if he had had the knowledge that the Vicomte had attacked her, when he had his hands around his throat, he would have continued to squeeze until there was no breath left in his body. If the fates were kind in two days there wouldn’t be, He had just found his purpose he thought with satisfied anticipation.

TBC


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