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 Thanks as always for the comments, feedback and reviews. I am thinking there is one more chapter and a Epilogue chapter left for anyone wanting to know :)

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Chapter 21
The Evil that men do


Madame Giry sat down wearily; it had been a demanding and terrible day. It was almost midnight by the clock on the mantle. She sat back on the chair and closed her eyes for a moment. Erik’s face appeared in her mind, as she finally allowed herself to grieve for him. At least he had found a little happiness with Christine, no matter how brief its duration. For that, she would be glad. There would be his son for her to love; the perfection of his child’s face would have made him weep. She sighed and picked up a book that had been earlier discarded, but it could not hold her attention.

A forceful knock sounded at her door. She frowned due to the lateness of the hour. Rising from her seat, she went to answer it. When she opened the door a little, she stumbled backwards as the Vicomte pushed against it forcefully.

“Vicomte is there something wrong?” asked Mme Giry.

The Vicomte handed her an envelope stuffed full of franc notes. “This is your severance pay Madame, I have a coach ready for you and your daughter and I expect you to leave here within the hour,”

Mme Giry paled; the thought of leaving Christine here alone with the Vicomte frightened her. The wildness in his eyes and his unkempt appearance concerned her. She wondered if he were just a little unhinged as she looked at him. His movements were jerky and uncoordinated as he paced backwards and forwards in the room, seemingly full of nervous energy.

“But…”

“I think my offer is very generous in the circumstances. Most employers would have had you ejected from the house and with no recompense. I think you do not need to ask the reason for your dismissal Madame. You are Christine’s ally and co-conspirator in this affair. You had better wake your daughter and make sure she is ready to leave,”

“What of Erik’s body?” asked Mme Giry.

Raoul scowled at her question. “Not that it is any business of yours, but I got the servants to place him in an unmarked grave in the family vault,”

He slammed out of the apartments, and Madame Giry stared down at the money-filled envelope. She would have to leave; there was no choice, for she was sure that Raoul would have no qualms about having her thrown out of his house. There had to be some way to watch over Christine and her babe? She put the money aside and went off in the direction of the maid’s quarters.

After she had woken Charlotte and made her aware of what was happening, Madame Giry had one more place to visit…Raoul’s study. Checking that there was no light shining under the door, she cautiously opened it to total darkness. The shadows of the room gave it a sinister appearance. Shaking off her unease, she walked across the room, freezing as she stepped on a creaky floorboard.

She held in her breath before continuing towards the desk. She sat down in the padded leather seat and stooped down to try the drawers in search of the gun she knew he kept there. Her search proved fruitless, until she came to the last one. It was tightly locked. Taking the silver letter opener from the desktop, she wiggled it in the lock.

After a few attempts, it gave a satisfying click. She had not lost her touch she smiled to herself. If Meg and the others knew of her childhood, before she became a pupil at the opera house, they would have been shocked. She opened the drawer to look at the gun that rested inside…a revolver. She prayed that Christine would never have to use it, but she would not abandon her to the madness that seemed to be consuming her husband. She had seen the look in his eyes as he had held Christine’s child, it made her flesh crawl to think of it.

Returning a few minutes later, she went to wake Meg and together they began to pack their belongings in contemplative silence. All the time Mme Giry kept her eye on the clock, glad to be leaving here, but afraid for Christine’s welfare. She secured the fastenings on her portmanteau and as she took one last look around the place to make sure she had everything.

They still had a few vital minutes left. Quietly Meg and her mother, made their way to Christine’s room in the hopes that the Vicomte was not in attendance. Madame Giry knocked before entering.

“Christine?”

“I am awake, but Erik Jean still sleeps,” whispered Christine. She leant over the side of her bed and lit a candle, the little light dissolving some of the gloom. “You are dressed for travelling Mme Giry, are you going somewhere?”

“There is no easy way to tell you this Christine, but Meg and I have been ordered to leave here,”

Christine let out a shocked gasp. “But why?”

“The Vicomte is angry at us for hiding your secret. It is understandable in the circumstances. I have asked Charlotte to keep an eye you. Meg and I will not be far. I will be taking lodgings in the next town. It is only a couple of miles away,” she assured Christine.

Christine’s lip trembled as the tears started to fall. “I do not know how I will manage without you both. Erik has gone and now you,” her voice broke. “How shall I bear it?”

Madame Giry was close to tears herself as she took Christine in her arms. “Christine, I am afraid for you. Never let your son out of your sight and if at any time you feel threatened, and then use this,” she handed Christine the stolen gun.

Christine looked at the gun in stunned silence for a moment, before taking it from her. “I don’t think I could…”

Mme Giry looked at her hardly. “You would if it came down to your son’s life. Any mother would. If you need to you will find your nerve. I must go, be safe Christine. What friend would I be, if I did not try to protect those that Erik loved?”

“I meant that I have no idea how to use one,” flushed Christine.

“Oh…it is simple. We have used fake ones in various productions at the opera house. It cannot be so different,” said Madame Giry as she gave Christine a demonstration.

She kissed Christine’s cheek and Meg did the same, before wrenching herself away from Christine on a sob. Erik Jean awoke and let up a keening wail. Christine picked him up and rocked him gently, holding on to the only thing in this life that she still had left.

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

Erik awoke, wincing in pain. His shoulder felt as if it were burning. He turned to see the Vicomte’s doctor working on him.

“Do not be alarmed monsieur, I am removing the bullet, nothing more than that,”

“Christine?” he asked.

The doctor looked at him, the sadness and regret in his eyes genuine, as he told Erik of the girl’s fate. Erik roared in pain and disbelief.

The doctor swallowed fearfully as he quickly removed the bullet with shaking fingers. “I am sorry, childbirth is a dangerous undertaking for any woman no matter how young or strong,”

“And the child?” he asked.

“Your son…he died with his mother monsieur…he was stillborn,”

“You lie!” Erik tried to pull himself up into a sitting position, but found he had little strength. He slumped back against the pillows in impotent rage.

The doctor sighed and removed a piece of paper from his medical bag. He handed it to Erik. “Read this, I am very sorry for your loss,” Unable to bear the anguish in the other man’s eyes, he got up, walked over to the shuttered window, and rested his head against the wooden slats.

Erik stared at the piece of paper, his heart beating wildly as he slowly unfolded it and read it aloud. “Christine De Chagny and child…Cause of death…post partum haemorrhage and child…stillborn,” He crumpled the piece of paper in his hands, as the tears started to fall. “I want to see them; I need to see them,”

“You must rest. You have lost a lot of blood. At least give your shoulder time to heal. We would not want you to bleed to death,”

“Why? All that I care for is dead. I wish to join them,” he said brokenly.

The doctor turned his back on Erik as he went back to his medical bag and took out a syringe. Before Erik could stop him, he felt the sting of the needle in his arm.

“Damn it man, what have you done to me?”

“Given you the chance to get some peace that is all,”

“That’s something I never had…except when I was with her…” he scoffed as he closed his eyes.

“Sleep Monsieur for things always look better on the morn,”

“They will never….”

Doctor Vallaurio watched him for several more minutes, making sure that the drug had taken effect.

“God forgive me, for I cannot forgive myself,” The doctor closed up his bag and exited the house leaving to Erik his troubled dreams.

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

Raoul hid deep in the shadows and watched as Meg and Mme Giry got into the carriage. She briefly glanced in his direction and he wondered for a moment if she had spotted him. Knowing they were safely on their way he went round to the back of the house, to the stables. He shifted the weight of the heavy knapsack on his shoulder as he mounted his horse and set off for the family cemetery. He had a scene to set.

Madame Giry looked out into the blackness of the countryside. Only the meagre light of the carriage lamps lit their way. They were not half way up the drive, when someone on a horse overtook them. As it passed the carriage, she caught a flash of white. The rider veered to the right and went in the direction of the estate graveyard. She could only assume it was Raoul and he had gone to gloat once more at the demise of Christine’s lover.

“Charlotte watch over them, be vigilant at all times…” Madame Giry muttered under her breath.

Raoul swung open the gates of the family cemetery. The rusted hinges creaked in protest. Many a decapitated De Chagny rested here, a victim of the terror several decades ago. He had no fear of his ancestor’s legacy as he lit his lantern and made his way through the graveyard. He arrived at the large marble monument that bore his predecessors remains. He unlocked the crypt door and entered it. Putting down his lantern, he took the knapsack from his shoulder placed it on the floor and there in the darkness of the crypt he began his decline into insanity as he opened the sack, taking out the carefully chosen items to aid his deception.

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

His head hurt, even the dull light that penetrated the window made him wince. He groaned aloud as he recalled the events of the previous day. He felt much stronger for his rest, but desolation swept in and covered him in despair weakening his very soul. Christine and their child were dead. He had to see her, to hold her once more, to say their final goodbyes.

Erik got up from the bed and with much effort managed to slip on a shirt. He buttoned it slowly, each movement causing him pain, but it kept him focused. He still wore the black trousers of the day before and they would have to do. It would hurt too much to wear his jacket so he strode from the room in his shirtsleeves.

He paused to pick up his mask, looking at it, before letting it slip from his fingers. He left the house and went to his horse, mounting it; he set off towards the great house. He was not going to accept the word of some doctor in the Vicomte’s employ until he had seen the evidence for himself. It would never be over between Christine and himself, not even death could change that.

He pulled in the reigns of the horse before sliding from its back. He stumbled as his feet made contact with the ground, still a little weak from his injuries. Erik ran to the door and pounded on it with his fists. Moments later the butler opened it, looking shocked by the visitor’s appearance. He covered his mouth in horror. Erik took no notice of the man’s reaction, having seen it on too many people before now. He forced his way past the servant, taking him off guard.

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

Christine awoke to the sound of muffled shouting coming from a distance. She swung her legs over the side of the bed, wincing at the tenderness between them. She pulled on her wrap and walked over to the door to see what all the commotion was.

She turned the door handle, and was shocked to find it locked. She rattled on it harder, but it would not give. Raoul had locked her in here! She tried the other doors that led out on to the garden, finding them to be locked too. Panic rose within her.

“Raoul! Raoul! Let me out!”

Raoul smiled to himself on the other side of the door. “No Christine, you are mine. I will keep you under lock and key until you learn to become a proper wife,”

“Please you are not well, let me send for Doctor Vallaurio. You can’t keep me here,” she begged.

Her pleas were met with stony silence as she pounded impotent fists against the door. Erik Jean stirred in his crib and began to cry in earnest. She turned her attention back to her son, picking him up from the crib and rocking him in her arms.

The noise out in the hallway continued….

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

Erik punched one of the men that was trying to restrain him, he winced as he felt his wound tear open, and the wetness of fresh blood on his shoulder. He did not care. The Vicomte De Chagny came towards him, a slow smile spreading across his face at the other man’s distress.

“You are up and about sooner that I had hoped,”

“Where is she?” demanded Erik.

More servants appeared and helped to hold Erik back as he would have lunged at their master.

“Now that’s not very civilised of you, now is it?” drawled Raoul. “My wife,” he said with heavy emphasis before he continued. “My wife lies in the De Chagny crypt where your filthy hands can no longer touch her, along with that deformed bastard that she birthed. Oh yes the child was very bit as hideous as its maker,”

“You’re lying!” he cried, paling at his words.

Raoul looked at him, a bored expression on his face. “If you do not believe me, go and see for yourself. She was interred there last night,”

“Without so much as a Christian burial?” asked Erik. He knew how important her faith in God was even, if the Vicomte chose to ignore it. Her piety and her marriage had been one of her biggest obstacles when she had submitted to him.

“Christine was beyond God, she and her brat,” He looked at the servants. “Have him thrown out, and if he returns shoot him,”

Raoul walked away from Erik, the slow grin of earlier, turned to laughter. Charlotte watched from the stairwell as the Vicomte disappeared into his study. She crept out from her hiding place, careful not to be seen as she made her way to her mistress’s bedroom.

Christine was inside, staring at the walls with empty eyes as Erik Jean suckled at her breast. Not even the sight of her beautiful son could penetrate the coldness that seeped into her being. Charlotte has been knocking for some time before it even registered with her, so deeply enveloped was she, in her own personal hell.

“Madame, Madame! Please open the door; I have something important to tell you,”

“Charlotte? I cannot open the door. My husband has locked it,”

“I have seen him he still lives,”

“Who?” She asked sharply. Christine felt hope flare within her, quickly to be extinguished.

“The phantom, your lover,”

“You must be mistaken, Erik is dead. I saw him with my own eyes. What is this cruel game that you play?”

“I saw him but five minutes ago. He lives, I swear on my life,” Charlotte told her breathlessly.

“Are you sure?”

“Tall man, brown hair and eyes like a sea in winter and his…face…”

“Erik! Where is he now?” Christine asked, sucking in her breath. He was alive!

“He came to the house looking for you Madame. Raoul has somehow convinced him that you are dead and lie in the family cemetery along with your babe,”

“Oh no, I have to get out of here. Charlotte do you know if Madame Giry had a key to this room?” asked Christine.

“Mme Giry would have returned them to the master,”

“I know it is a lot to ask, but do you think you could try to find them for me?”

“I do not know Madame, I am frightened. Please forgive me for saying this, but your husband has been acting very strangely even some of the men are afraid of him,”

“Please, Charlotte, Erik’s life may depend on it,”

“Very well Madame, but where do you suggest I try in such a large house? It would be like looking for a needle in a haystack,”

Christine thought for a moment. “The study, try the study. Be careful Charlotte, I could not bear if anything where to befall you,” she warned.

“I will be careful,”

Christine looked down at her sleeping child. She stroked his brown hair, touching a finger to his rosebud lips. “Did you hear that Erik Jean? Your father still lives!” The tears of joy that ran down her face, dropped onto her babe, and she wiped them away. “We are going to escape this place tonight and find him,”

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

He stood on the steps to the De Chagny vault, not wanting to go further. He eyed the fresh flowers that were stacked up against the crypt door. A silver framed photograph looked back at him mocking his loss. Christine’s beautiful face contained within its frame. Here lie his family, a family that had perished before it had had a chance to live. He could see the faint glow of candles, almost burned to stubs inside its interior. Erik did not even try the rusted gate. It was securely fastened. He had neither the strength or inclination, knowing it would be fruitless.

Maybe if he lay here long enough he would die of cold. Anything was better than the pain he felt. He picked up Christine’s picture and studied it. Her beautiful eyes looked back at him as if they held a secret. He wondered if it had been taken after they had become lovers.

Erik felt a premonitory prickle at the back of his neck. He stood up and looked around the deserted cemetery. He thought back to the doctor and his behaviour of the previous evening. He wanted to know everything about Christine and their child, not satisfied with what Raoul had told him. He was used to reading fear in people’s faces and the doctor had been no exception.

He strode from the graveyard to his waiting horse. He knew the doctor only lived in the next village as Christine had told him so. It was late afternoon; if he were quick, he might reach there before nightfall. Erik mounted his horse and rode back to the summerhouse to collect his cape and then he set off in search of Doctor Vallaurio. The doctor was not telling something. Erik would not leave him until he got the answers he sought…even if he had to shake the life out of him. If Christine were gone from this world he would know it, but in his heart, he felt her as strongly as if she were beside him. If he had been lied to, there would be hell to pay

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

How many hours Charlotte had hid near the master’s study she did not know, the feeling in her legs, long having left her. Surely, he would get up and leave soon? She had seen several servants attend him in her arduous wait. About to give up and return to her mistress, she heard the sound of someone coming to the door. The footsteps made her heart pound faster, as the door was suddenly flung open and Raoul stood there, pausing for several moments before he slammed the door behind him and strode off down the hall.

Charlotte made her move, not knowing how long to expect his absence. She quickly entered the study, a gasp left her lips as she took in the usually immaculate room. Papers were strewn everywhere, a bottle of wine lay on its side, the contents having been spilt across the desk like a huge bloodstain. The room reeked of stale alcohol. She headed straight for the desk and opened the drawers, frantically searching for a sign of Madame Giry’s house keys.

She finally found them and as her hand closed around them, she heard the sound of returning footsteps. She looked frantically towards the door, the handle was turning. In a blind panic, she ran and hid behind the drapes and closed her eyes in silent prayer as she heard the Vicomte return. She was trapped.

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

Erik rode into the neighbouring village just as night fell. He entered the tavern, his face for the most part concealed as he made his way to the bar.

“I am looking for Doctor Vallaurio,” he growled at the innkeeper.

“Never heard of him,” replied the man indifferently as he went back to polishing the bar. Erik leaned over the counter and smashed the proprietors’ head against it. “ I-I think I remember monsieur…he lives a couple of streets away in the Rue de la Blanc,” the man stuttered in fear.

Erik pressed the man’s head down into the wood once more. “If I find you have been lying to me, I will return,”

“It’s the truth, I swear it monsieur,”

Erik released the man, hearing a gasp behind him; he turned to face a shocked Madame Giry.

“Oh Erik…you are alive?”

“Unfortunately yes. Sorry I do not have the time to question your presence here, but I have somewhere else to be,”

Madame Giry had been sure that she had conjured up a real phantom in her grief stricken mind when she had first seen him. The shock slowly began to fade.

“Yes, by Christine and your child’s side,”

“There is nothing I would love more than to be by their sides in the churchyard,”

Madame Giry looked at Erik in confusion. “I do not understand, Christine and the babe are well. They live…I don’t know what you have been told…”

“They live?”

Madame Giry saw the glitter of some great emotion in his eyes as he let the cowl of his cloak slip from his face.

“Oui,” she nodded.

“Forgive my former lack of interest, but why are you not with them?” Erik sucked in a breath, Christine and their son lived

“Because the Vicomte dismissed Meg and me. We took rooms here in this inn so that we could be close in case she needed us. I-I hesitate to say this, but I think Raoul has run mad,”

Erik took Madame Giry by the arm. “We have a doctor to see, I need some answers,”

They weaved their way through the narrow streets until they came to the home of Monsieur Vallaurio.

“You knock on the door. He will not answer it to me,” he told her.

Madame Giry knocked on the heavy oak door and Erik stepped into the shadows. A window opened overhead.

“What is it?” asked the doctor.

“Please come quickly Monsieur, the Vicomtess has been taken ill,”

“I will be down presently,” he replied closing the window.

A few moments later, they heard the sound of bolts being drawn back. The doctor stepped out of his house, and Erik lunged forward and gripped the physician by the throat.

“Tell me now why I shouldn’t kill you,” he hissed in the doctor’s ear.

“Please, monsieur, I did not want to lie to you. He made me do it,”

“What exactly did you do?” asked Madame Giry

“The Vicomte forced me to write out a death certificate for his wife and the child. He wanted his wife’s lover to believe it to be true so that he would leave them alone,”

“Well you have achieved your goal, Christine is left alone and with a dangerous man,” She replied.

Erik released his grip on the doctor. “I must go to her,”

“Be careful, I suspect that he is gripped by the same malaise as his poor mother,”

Erik paused to turn around. “What exactly do you mean?”

“It is in his family you see, his mother before him died in a sanatorium,”

Erik felt fresh anger build inside him. “Why was no one ever told of this?”

“Madness is not something you advertise in polite society,”

Erik looked at Madame Giry before running down the street to where his horse was tethered.


TBC


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