Tremulous and Tender

BY : NataliaV
Category: M through R > Phantom of the Opera
Dragon prints: 7330
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.

Title: Tremulous and Tender
Part: 13/?
Note: Please read the Authors note at the end of the chapter!

The boat swayed dangerously as Christine climbed into it. She sunk down on the plush pillows at the front of the boat. She drew a shaking hand over her face, pushing errant wisps of hair from her face. She would have tried to rearrange her hair altogether, but her other hand was stained with blood. It would not do to get it all over. As it was, there were dark smudges on her costume. How she would ever get it out was beyond her. She leaned over a bit, slipping her hand in the cool, dark water. The boat rocked, tilting to the side; she jerked back, not wanting to fall in.

Her mind danced with all the possibilities of what Erik could possibly be doing. What kind of fate had Joseph Buquet sealed for himself? People feared the Opera Ghost for a reason. Reasons she was not entirely clear about, as nothing terrible had ever happened to anyone since she’d arrived at the opera house. But, she remembered the look for absolute fury on Erik’s face as he turned to leave the room. She shut her eyes tightly, wishing that the past few minutes had been nothing but a horrible, horrible nightmare.

“Christine,” she opened her eyes to see Erik standing beside the boat. He knelt beside her, taking her face in his gloved hands. His hands, so gentle and loving, that had probably just murdered a man. Christine shuddered. She’d never felt more ashamed as he caressed her bruised lips... the lips that Buquet had violated. Did a man deserve to die because he had kissed her? Or did he deserve to die because he wished to try and do more? She grabbed Erik’s hands, moving her face from his grasp.

Something in his normally gorgeous, vibrant green eyes snapped, gleaming an eerie gold color. He stood abruptly, climbing in the boat and began pushing them through the flooded underground. She was already on land, rushing to her room, when he had barely docked the boat. She shut the door behind her, wanting a few moments to collect herself before she faced Erik.

Shedding her clothes, she walked to the small alcove that served as a washroom and poured water into the porcelain basin. She washed her face and arms, scrubbing her skin hard with the velvety soap Erik provided for her. She rubbed until her skin was a frightening shade of pink. She did the same with her chest and neck. Tears brimmed as she finally washed her face. On her neck were many dark splotches; marks of Erik’s passion from the night before and early into the morning. But the one… the newest and most hideous one, left by that foul man stood out. Tears tracked their way down, mingling and disappearing in the soap and water she splashed on. She rinsed her mouth too, wanting nothing more than to be rid of the acrid taste of alcohol and Lord only knew what else, that was Joseph Buquet.

Shaking still, she willed herself to clam some as she carefully pat her skin dry. She changed her underclothes, only putting on a nightgown, suddenly too tired and worn to redress completely. She carefully tied her hair back before moving to sit on the edge of the bed, burying her face on her hands.

She didn’t know how long she sat there, her mind a jumbled mess. There was a soft knock on the door before Erik opened it, stepping in. He was nervous, not moving further than the entrance. She opened her mouth to speak, but he raised his hand. “We can talk in the morning. You should get some rest.”

Christine nodded, sliding to lie in the bed. Erik lingered in the doorway before turning to leave. He had a sad, almost helpless look in his eyes as he bid her goodnight.

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

“You would turn down a Vicomte for a monster, Mademoiselle?” Christine spun at the sound of Joseph Buquet’s voice. He looked quite drunk as he beckoned to her from in between the flies where he stood.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She quickly rushed through the theater to her dressing room, locking the door behind her. She felt violated that he should be spying on her conversation with Raoul! And just what did he know of Erik?

There was a heavy banging on her door. She knew who stood on the other side and backed further into the room. The handle jiggled and after a minute, there was a popping sound and the door opened. Splinters flew as the door was slammed against the wall. Buquet tossed some tools he held to the floor. “Running from me, Mademoiselle Daaé? Why run from me when you scream for the Opera Ghost?” He said “Opera Ghost” in such a snide and mocking way that it was obvious he knew that there was no ghost, but a man.

“Leave or I shall…”

“Have your lover come attack me?” He laughed, encroaching on her personal space. “He is but a man. He cannot be everywhere at once and I believe he is elsewhere in the opera house…”

“Get out.” She moved away from him, further into her dressing room with nowhere else to go. If need be, she would go through the mirror and make her way through the darkness, but that would mean giving up one of Erik’s secrets.

He rushed forward, grabbing her by her waist and pulling her flush against him. His rank breath assaulted her nose as he tried to kiss her. “C’mon,” his mouth touched her cheek. “Be a good girl and I will tell no one of your phantom.” He gave up trying to kiss her and attacked her neck, biting her skin, sucking at it, and laving it with his grotesque tongue.

“No!” She pushed at his chest as his mouth lowered to attempt to kiss her again. She shook her head violently, shoving at him, her hands, tiny fists, hitting at his chest. She desperately wanted to scream for Erik, but she knew better than to reveal his name. “Let go of me!” She stomped on his foot, a highly ineffective move since her slipper covered feet were so tiny and he was wearing heavy work boots.

“Silence, Woman!” He turned her face with one grimy hand and pressed his mouth to hers. Christine began to cry at that assault, but didn’t stop trying to break free. Unfortunately he was just so much stronger than she. His tongue wormed its way into her mouth. Christine seized the opportunity and bit it.

He let out a yelp and jerked his head back from her, but didn’t release her from his grasp. She wanted to gag; the taste he’d left in her mouth was one she wasn’t likely to be rid of or forget any time soon. He glared at her, spitting blood out onto her dressing room’s floor. His glare turned to a grin as he began plucking at the buttons on the back of her gown.

Christine felt all the blood drain from her face. No! She pulled back, lifting her arm, intent on slapping him, but he moved back to avoid her hand. His action didn’t move him far enough away, so when she brought her hand down, her nails raked down his face, leaving delicate red trails in their wake.

He let go of her, grasping his wounds. “Filthy, little whore!” He snapped. “Trying to ruin my face like your lovers?”

Christine rushed over to the mirror. Beyond the mirror lay the safety of the darkness and Erik. She struggled to get it open, her fear making her clumsy. She turned back when she head Buquet gasp. Erik walked, almost too calmly, into the room, situating himself between Buquet and herself.

His face was a carefully composed mask, no emotions showing. But his eyes, his beautiful green eyes were hard and cold and a dangerous anger flickered to life in them. When he’d been angry with her for removing his mask, he’d terrified her. But, it was an anger she’d seen on many a face before.

This was different. He looked positively sinister. In that moment, all of the Opera Ghost rumors she’d heard over the years, the ones of death and mayhem and torture came back to her. It scared her.

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

Christine jerked awake. Erik’s face was the first thing she saw, he still had the mask on and it startled her. She reached up, pulling his mask off with trembling fingers, letting it fall to the sheets between them. He turned his face from her. She sighed, trying to rub away the memories as easily she rubbed the sleep from her eyes.

“You were crying out in your sleep.”

She sat up, hugging the sheets to her. “I was?”

"What..." he started, but stopped, sitting beside her in silence. Christine looked at him for a moment, taking a deep breath.

"He kissed me, that's all."

"He meant to do more."

Although it wasn't a question, she felt compelled to respond. "Yes."

There is was again, the tense, uncomfortable silence. Erik got out of bed. "You will not be returning above," he said, retrieving his mask and putting it on. Christine was beyond shocked at that statement and it must have shown on her face. "At least not until the new year," he added quickly.

She was to stay three months with him? How... scandalous! Her nightly disappearances were one thing that could be easily explained. But three months? She had no family she could claim to be...

Dear god in heaven, Erik must have killed Joseph Buquet, if he wasn't going to let her go back. Or...perhaps he didn't kill him and it was for fear of another attack that she couldn't return. She hoped upon hope it was the latter.

"Erik, what happened?"

"Do not ask me, Christine, a question to which you do not want the answer to," he said, looking grim. She shut her eyes until Erik’s footsteps died away and the door shut softly.


Author’s Note – Please Read – I cannot say how sorry I am for the lag between chapters. I should have had this one up ages ago, but I’ve just fallen into this weird writing funk. The only thing I can think to do is to put “Tremulous and Tender” on hiatus before I post anymore chapters that I’m not happy with, like the past two. I don’t know for how long. I’m hoping only until the middle/end-ish of May. This story was meant to be light and happy and it’s not at all going that way. So when I do begin posting again, look for a turn back to its fluffier roots (imagine… Erik… Christine… three months all by themselves *grins wickedly*). And I would like to have the story complete before posting anymore. That way I don’t keep all my readers in suspense. Also, I’ll respond to reviews whenever the next chapter is posted. *bows* Thank you all so much for your support and understanding.


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