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.

Chapter 9
Never leave me


Christine dressed for dinner with a heavy heart. She sucked in her breath as Charlotte laced up her corset, each pull of the strings binding her tighter than before. Not unlike her liaison with Erik, she mused. Her body still ached from his possession, almost as if he had left his imprint on her flesh to remind her of whom she truly belonged to.

She locked gazes with Charlotte in the mirror, her expression one of such abject anguish that her maid gasped at the suffering she saw on her mistress’s face.

“Madame you are well?” asked Charlotte.

Christine sighed. It would be so easy to hide behind an imaginary illness to avoid her duties as a wife, but she felt she owed Raoul that much. She would go like the sacrificial lamb to his bed if needs be and if it protected her secret. She noted the pallor of her skin along with darkened shadows that rested beneath her eyes. The roses from her cheeks had almost faded. Being with Erik was the happiest, but sometimes the most torturous of times she had ever experienced in her young life. There were moments when it cut as deep as the death of her dear departed father, but still she was drawn to him as helplessly as a moth to the flame, knowing it could only bring pain, but attracted to it nonetheless.

“I am well Charlotte. We must hurry or I will be scolded for holding up dinner and the cook will curse my name,”

“Mais non Madame, that could never happen. They all say what an angel you are and that the master has been fortunate in his choice of wife,” Charlotte finished on a blush, worried she had overstepped her bounds again.

Christine smiled at her. “Do not fret,” she reassured her. “Madame Giry cannot have ears in all places. I will not scold you for your forthright tongue.”

Charlotte smoothed the last of Christine’s dark curls into order and stood back to admire her work. “There Madame, you look beautiful,”

“Thank you. It is only your able hands that make it so,”

Christine picked up her fan and was about to make her way to the dining room when they were interrupted by a knock on the chamber door.

“Enter,”

Charlotte flushed guiltily at the sight of Madame Giry; sure, she must have some kind of sixth sense. She bobbed a hasty curtsey and exited the room.

“What is so important that cannot wait until later Madame?” asked Christine impatiently.

“These were left for you in my quarters Christine,”

Madame Giry took from behind her back what she had previously been concealing. Christine gasped at the sight of a familiar red rose. As always, it was tied with a black ribbon, but her eyes flew to the missive she also held. Christine took it with shaky hands, running a fingertip over the red wax seal.

“Thank you,” she answered quietly.

“Madame, my daughter and I will maintain our silence on this matter, but please be careful. I have known Erik since he was a boy. He can be beautiful yet terrible as others have found to their cost,”

“He will not harm me,” Christine replied confidently.

“Non, but he is capable of harming those he considers to be in his way, or yours for that matter.”

“I have faith in him. Can someone who has known him even longer than I at least try to?” She asked.

Madame Giry sighed, knowing her pleas would go unheeded as she exited the room. Christine tore open the black edged envelope and unfolded the single sheet of paper it contained.

Forgive me

Yours eternally

E


Christine took a deep breath to control the tears that threatened to surface. The weight she had been carrying at the callousness of their parting was lifted with just a few simple words. She could understand his anger and bitterness. She would die at the thought of him in the arms of another. She wished with all her heart that she could spare him that pain also. Brought back to the present by the striking of the mantle clock, she hastily concealed the rose and his letter in the draw of her bureau, locking it securely behind her.

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

As she made her way along the candlelit corridor towards the dining room, she took a few steadying breaths to compose herself. Pasting a smile on her face before the servant opened the door on the brightly lit room. Raoul and Meg were already seated at the table, he at the head and she at the side. Both rose as she entered the room. Raoul pulled out a chair for her and seated her at his side, before placing a kiss on her cheek.

“Where were you Christine? I missed you,” he asked.

“I had to consult with Madame Giry and the cook about tonight’s menu and you know how long it takes us ladies to make ourselves beautiful for you,” she teased.

“I am beginning to,” he smiled at her warmly.

Christine looked at Meg, who looked back at her with reproving eyes. Her friend knew all too well where she had been and with whom.

“Did you get a chance to speak to your mother Meg?” asked Christine.

“Oui, she has been acquainting me with all that has happened since your return,” Meg replied.

Christine blushed and looked away at her husband. All conversation ended at the servants arrived with the entrée. She eyed the watercress soup with as much enthusiasm as if it was a viper asleep on her plate, but for appearances sake she ate a few spoonfuls before dabbing at her lips with a napkin.

“Christine I am worried about you. You look so pale,” Raoul said taking her hand in his. It was icy cold to the touch. “You are cold; I shall send one of the servants for a shawl,”

“Please do not bother on my account,” Christine pleaded.

He smiled at her indulgently before ringing the bell. She sighed and accepted his care with all the guilt in the world, knowing that she was not the wife he deserved.

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

And so the days went on. Meg’s visit became longer in its duration due to Christine’s wish to have her friend’s company. Raoul’s business often took him away from the estate, leaving her with much free time on her hands. Her husband had taken her delicacy seriously, having only pressed his attentions on her, but a few times since their return from their wedding trip. The first time, after she had allowed Raoul to touch her since becoming Erik’s lover, she had silently sobbed into her pillow, hoping that Erik would find it in his heart to forgive her.

When she had next met Erik he has sensed the change in her and knew its cause. He had wept, knowing it would be inevitable, but he had not let Christine see his tears, saving them for the lonely silence, which always followed her visits. He had been more than a little rough with her during their lovemaking, wanting to erase the other’s memory from her body and her mind.

Although Meg had said she would not lie for her, she had on several occasions made excuses for Christine’s absences when asked. The lies and deceit were taking their toll on Christine; she knew she had lost weight that she could ill afford to lose. Her well fitting gowns were beginning to hang on her. Even the loosing of her corset could not hide the fact that she was wasting away.

It had been one evening, during another of her husband’s absences, while her friend and she dined that they had been interrupted by Raoul’s hasty return. He had burst into the room, breathless and agitated.

“What is it my love?” asked Christine, at his troubled expression.

“I have received orders from my old regiment. All able bodied men are being called to defend Paris against the Prussian army,”

Christine was not the only one to pale at this news. Meg’s eyes rounded fearfully, but she hastily looked down to mask her expression.

“Oh Raoul you must not go. You could be killed,” Christine, pleaded.

Raoul walked over to his wife and embraced her. “Do not fret, I have to. It is my duty as a Frenchman and a patriot. What example would I set if I hid behind my title and not help defend what is ours?” he asked as he kissed the top of her head. “I leave on the morrow,”

Christine felt a light-headedness envelope her as she grew slack and sagged against his form. At first he did not realise that she had passed out. He lifted her paper white face to his before scooping her up in his arms and carrying her to their bedroom. Meg let out a horror-struck cry at her friend’s unconscious body held in the arms of her husband.

“Meg, call for your mother,” the Vicomte shouted after him.

“Yes at once monsieur,” she replied, running off in the direction of her mother’s apartments.

Meg hammered on the door to her mother’s living quarters only to be met by her harassed mama.

“What is it child?” asked her mother, seeing her daughter’s frightened expression.

“Christine…she received some bad news from the Vicomte and passed out,”

Madame Giry grabbed her shawl and followed her daughter. “What was the nature of this business?”

“Raoul has been called to arms in the defence of the city,” Meg informed her.

Madame Giry sighed in relief at her daughter’s words, sure that the news would be of another nature entirely. They both arrived at the door to Christine’s bedchamber. The Vicomte had managed to bring her round with some smelling salts and a little colour had returned to her otherwise ashen face.

“Good you are here; please can you stay with Christine? I am going to fetch Doctor Vallaurio at once,” He raised a hand at his wife’s unspoken protests. He quickly lowered his head to place a kiss on Christine’s cheek and was gone.

“Really all this fuss for a simple fainting spell, I feel fine. It was just the shock of Raoul’s news that is all,” sighed Christine as she sank back against the pillows as another dizzy spell came over her.

“To be sure, but you are going to stay put in that bed until the doctor has had chance to examine you,” Madame Giry replied sternly.

She looked at Madame Giry “Will you send a message to him? Tell him that I will be unable to keep our appointment tonight after all,” she smiled weakly.

Madame Giry nodded and looked over at her daughter. “Stay with Christine until my return mignon,”

Meg smiled at her mother and held her friend’s cold hand in hers.

“You love him that much that you would risk all for him?” asked Meg.

“He is my soul Meg. I have tried not to love him, but he eclipses all else. Every time we part a little of me withers on the inside only to be restored when I am with him. I curse the day I ever married Raoul, but not because I hate him, I do not, but because I was plunging all concerned into this hell of my own making. There are times when I cannot see any release other than death,”

Meg paled at her friend’s impassioned words. “This is not what you have been doing to yourself is it? Do you wish for death Christine?”

“No, what I wish for I can never have,” sighed Christine, as a tear rolled down her cheek, lost in the thickness of her hair. She closed her eyes against the pity in Meg’s face no longer able to bear it.

Both heads turned several moments later at the sound of Madame Giry’s heated voice, accompanied by a much richer one. Erik burst in the room, breathless and wild looking, and his mask obscuring the twisted features beneath it as he strode over to her bedside.

He turned to look at Madame Giry and Meg. “Leave us,” he ordered.

“I do not take orders from you,” said Madame Giry.

“Now,” he barked at her.

“Please,” asked Christine tiredly.

“Very well, but if the master returns then God help us all,” said Madame Giry throwing her hands up in defeat as she steered her daughter from the room. “I will be just outside if you need me,”

“Thank you,” Christine replied, as Madame Giry closed the doors on them.

Erik got down on one knee and took her in his arms. Stroking her rich curls as he breathed in her scent, it was not until she felt wetness at the nape of her neck did she comprehend that he had been weeping. She lifted his head to look at her, removing his mask, preferring there to be no barriers between them as she stroked his rough cheek tenderly.

“Do not shed tears for me, I am not worth it,” she sighed.

“Christine, can you not comprehend that if anything happened to you I would no longer want to live?” he asked his fingers bunching the sheets in anguished frustration.

She nodded. “It is the same for me, but do not fret. I am well. It was just a fainting spell. I received some bad news, my husband is to go and fight,”

Erik looked at her intently. “You cannot bear to be parted from him?”

“I care for him too Erik, even if it is not as a wife should. I have known him since I was a small child. Try to understand,” she sighed.

Erik got onto the bed and cradled her in his arms. “Never leave me Christine,” he whispered against her throat.

“Never,” she promised.

The urgent knocking at the door brought the lovers back to the situation at hand.

Christine looked at Erik in alarm. “You must go. My husband will soon be returning,”

“No I will not leave you,” he insisted.

Madame Giry opened the doors and Erik sat up on the bed. “You must go at once, the Vicomte will be here at any moment,” she urged.

“Please Erik, if not for yourself then for me,” begged Christine.

Erik kissed her gently on the cheek. “Only for you,” he sighed.

Madame Giry led him out the door and through her chambers and into the cover of night. She watched to make sure that he left; when satisfied he had gone she ran back to her mistress’s bedchamber with seconds to spare. The Vicomte arrived moments later with a harassed looking elderly gentleman. He walked over to his patient before looking at the occupants of the room.

“Please leave us, while I examine the patient. Monsieur le Vicomte you may stay,” commanded the doctor.

Christine smiled her thanks at Madame Giry and Meg as they exited to the room to leave her in the capable hands of her husband and physician. Raoul paced the room in nervous agitation as he awaited the doctor’s diagnosis. Getting more and more impatient at the collective ah ha’s the old man kept muttering as he asked Christine questions. The doctor finally put away his instruments and turned to face the Vicomte.

“Well?” asked Raoul impatiently.

“Mostly a case of exhaustion and lack of good food. I suggest plenty of rest and fluids,” the doctor replied.

“Thank God,” Raoul sucked in a breath as he went to Christine’s side and took her hand in his.

“See I told you the fuss was all about nothing,” smiled Christine.

“Er I had not finished,” the doctor said gruffly in annoyance, not used to being interrupted, even by a Vicomte.

“Tell me,” asked Christine, almost knowing what he was going to say before the words left his mouth.

“Congratulations are in order Vicomte your wife is enceinte...with child,” he replied as he left the room.

TBC


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