|The Story Teller
Author: she.s.a.shy.one PM
Upon recieving a letter 10 years after the disaster of the Populaire theatre, Christine de Chagny begins to unravel the incredible story of the Phantom of the Opera and the backstage girl who loved him. Erik/OCRated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Erik - Chapters: 19 - Words: 69,761 - Reviews: 81 - Favs: 39 - Follows: 36 - Updated: 03-28-13 - Published: 07-11-12 - id: 8308757
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: I'm back! And more importantly, Gideon, my computer, is back. Regular updates start now and the next one will be up in a week! Thank you so much for hanging on with me guys, you all rock!
Now, here's the chapter you've all been waiting for...
…Erik's mood darkened for weeks. Often he would spend nights in the workshop in town, whittling away at his newest creation with his irritability as his inspiration and fuel. It drove me to madness to see him avoid me like he did. I could hardly enjoy Dmitri's company when I was so occupied with thoughts of Erik and what had happened to make him so upset and defeated.
Because I, of course, had not believed him when he said he was merely unsettled in his new life. I knew that despite the isolation from the artistic world he loved, Erik's was a peaceful existence in Favreau and he had no reason at all to be complaining. You might call me oblivious but I did not piece together Dmitri's offer of his company and Erik's frustration until after everything unfolded. To me, the idea that a plain, backstage seamstress could hold the love of a Phantom was a ridiculous idea…
"Are you ever going to tell me what you meant?" Margot asked one evening nearly three weeks after the dance.
She had been on edge ever since that night, waiting for Erik to reveal his 'reasons for disliking Dmitri' to her but he had been evading any attempts to bring it up subtly. Margot might bring up the councilman's drunken fall off the stage and he would bring up memories of Monsieur LeFevre's drunkenness at the Masquerade they'd attended a few years ago.
She would comment on Philippe's suspicious behaviour with the young Alec around the punch bowl and their empty bottle of brandy (which was responsible for the councilman's drunken state) and Erik might reply with news of another commission that was particularly interesting for him.
One night, having had enough of the dance they'd been doing, Margot decided to frame it as bluntly as possible.
And still he did not answer.
"Well?" Margot demanded impatiently. "Are you?"
"I'm afraid I don't understand the question cherie," Erik said, amused. Better amused than angry, Margot supposed.
"Your reasons for disliking Dmitri?" Margot reminded him, crossly.
"Oh, that." Erik shrugged, smirking as he considered the book in front of him. Though it hardly matched his old collection, Erik had begun ordering in novels from the general store in town, which arrived once a month with a crate attached for him.
"Yes, that." Margot responded sarcastically. "Or shall we dance around it for another week?" Erik seemed to ponder the question, much Margot's dismay. "Erik!"
"But it is such a wonderful dance, cherie." Erik teased, a hint of sadness on his gaze.
As a matter of fact, Erik had decided to continue dancing around the issue as he had been since the young Dovin had made Margot's laugh so uproariously when he had escorted her home. Erik could not remember the last time he had made Margot smile so much and it gave him pause where his planned feelings were concerned.
He had yet to honestly confess to himself, let alone Margot and the sight of her so pleased and flushed with pleasure had made him wonder how selfish he could possibly be. He had already played with Christine's heart and mind and shunned Margot's confession in Paris. Could he really be the heartless monster again and take away her happiness with a half-understood admittance of his feelings?
The answer, he knew, was no and he had been trying his hardest to steer Margot away from his cryptic words that night though her curiosity was obvious. Erik refused to further jeopardise his friend's happiness with the complicated, foolish emotions within himself.
"Erik, please, this is driving me to madness!" Margot pleaded in frustration.
But Erik would say no more on the subject.
"Margot?" Dmitri's curious voice roused her from her thoughts.
"I'm so sorry Dmitri," Margot murmured, embarrassed by her inattention. "My mind escaped from me for a moment."
"I'm only glad you found it." Dmitri laughed. "I'm quite fond of it." Margot could only manage a weak smile back. "Are you quite alright Margot? You seem disturbed."
"Erik and I are arguing." Margot confessed with frustration. "And I'm trying to figure out why."
"An argument you are participating in and yet, you don't know the cause." Dmitri said, eyebrows raised as Margot went back to her sewing work. Madame Dovina was still helping Charlotte, the butcher's daughter, with the fittings for her wedding dress and Dmitri was kind enough to keep Margot company while she finished work for the evening. "Yes, I can see the frustration in that."
Margot sighed. "He won't tell me what is wrong and yet every time I see him, there is such sadness in his face. I wish I knew what bothered him so much but he refuses to confide in me, it is…upsetting. The last time we fought, we said some awful things to each other." Her mind filled with Erik's voice. It sickens me to hear you say those words. To hear what I've done to you, I am wrecked with guilt.
Her hands shook remembering the pain of those words even now. Dmitri noticed and slowly reached for one, comfortingly. "I'm sorry to hear you're in such distress and if I didn't think he might rearrange my face for it, I would be having words with your brother alone."
Margot laughed bitterly. "The last man who had words with Erik alone disappeared into the night." She said, theatrically, though, remembering the fading light of Raoul and Christine on the gondola, it was technically true.
Dmitri winced, dramatically. "Then I'm afraid my gentlemanly instincts only extend to comforting you, mademoiselle."
"What a knight," Margot snickered before she paused and eyed Dmitri, apologetically. "I'm sorry to throw my burdens on you, Dmitri. Honestly, you should not be worrying about me at all."
"It is always my concern when a pretty girl is upset, Margot." Dmitri flirted, unashamedly.
The brunette seamstress blushed just as Madame Dovina arrived back in the workshop. "Dmitri, stop badgering my workers!" she fussed, seeing Margot's pinked cheeks.
"I'm only badgering one of them!" Dmitri protested, grinning.
"Well cease that too." Madame Dovina snapped, scribbling down Charlotte Dubois' measurements and exchanging notes with Margot. "I'm going to need her help and she can't do that when you're harassing her."
"Fine, I'll go." Dmitri allowed, holding his hands in surrender. "Father wants me to check in on Katarina anyway."
"Do make sure she's not straining herself with Gerry." Dovina instructed, sternly. "The girl will drive herself into madness if she continues."
"I will." Dmitri promised and bid Margot goodbye with a swift peck on the cheek which caught her off guard entirely. Madame Dovina shook her head at the boy, rolling her eyes.
"He will get himself in trouble one day." She vowed, wearily.
Margot could hardly answer, still attempting to come to a conclusion on how she felt about Dmitri kissing her, cheek, hand or otherwise.
While she had almost entirely given up hope that Erik would one day return her affections, Margot couldn't help but feel as though she were betraying her feelings by allowing Dmitri to continue acting this way toward her. Her heart twisted awkwardly at the idea of Dmitri while her head, practically so, demanded that she pay attention to the young man who was sweet and kind and rather good looking and interested in pursuing her.
But she could not reconcile the two and she often questioned if she should.
Erik's mood had grown grey over the weeks. She barely saw him and when she did, they spoke so carefully around each other. She simply couldn't understand why he was behaving this way or why.
That afternoon, she realised the reason for Erik's burdened spirit.
"He's very…enthusiastic," Margot acknowledged, diplomatically.
"More so than Erik would like, hmm?" Madame Dovina added in a knowing tone. She raised her eyebrows when Margot flushed guiltily.
"Erik hasn't had a chance to grow to like Dmitri." She defended, helping pin together the little fabric rosettes which would decorate the bride's wedding gown. "I'm sure they'll get on well soon enough."
"Dmitri is young." Dovina acknowledged, working quietly herself on the trim for the dress. "It is hard for embittered souls to stand such youth."
"Erik is not…embittered!" Margot snapped and immediately felt horrible for doing so. "I'm so sorry, Madame Dovina, I-"
The elderly seamstress waved her away dismissively. "Of course he is, Margot. Your brother has been injured hasn't he?"
"H-He had an accident."
"That's not what I meant."
"…I know," the pale young woman replied in a sigh. But she didn't want to go blabbing about Erik's checkered past to just anyone.
"You don't have to tell me, child." Madame Dovina said in an unusually soft tone. "But Erik's injuries are not easily fixed. You came here to let them breathe and they have, obviously. But you cannot think they have simply healed."
Margot thought it over as she finished her work for the day and left for the cottage, while she tied her apron and began preparing a simply soup for supper in the petite kitchen. She had thought Erik's new life was a benefit, a balm on Christine's gouges on his mind and heart.
But had she been expecting too much too soon?
"He's still mourning her," she thought aloud as she added pumpkin to the cooking pot. She paused in her movements, her chest aching with the idea of it. "Of course he still mourns Christine. It's hitting him what a lonely life he has without his love."
A small part of her felt spiteful. Wasn't leaving Paris behind enough? Wasn't Favreau enough? Its welcoming nature and people? The new chance they'd been given? …Wasn't she enough?
They hadn't spoken about that night since the train ride to Geneva but sometimes Erik would glance at her with that slight-smile or say something in his interested tone and her breath would catch. It was as though she could close her eyes and be back in her dreams, where Erik had requited her affection and they were living happily without the shadow of her former sister-like companion to darken his heart. In a way she longed for and was almost tempted to seek out with Dmitri.
But Margot had to remind herself, as she listened to Erik entering the house quietly, that they were indeed dreams.
And that Erik did not, had never and most likely would never love her the way she ached to be loved.
As Erik entered the cottage that evening, the rain began pelting down in earnest. A summer storm, Philippe had observed hours earlier when the sun was still shining. For a blind old bat, the carpenter was wiser than Erik gave him credit.
The point had been painfully driven home just that afternoon when Philippe, the blind handicap, saved their newest custom winged back chair from Erik's lack of attention.
He'd been carving away at the thick legs of the chair, smoothing down the rough birrs of the carving work. It was a simply but ornate piece, decorated with scrollwork and fine intricate detailing which repeated across the pair of arm chairs.
But his mind had wandered, as it never used to, to the young Dovin boy and his unblemished face, his quick smile and unrestrained eagerness to pursue Margot. His musings would start out innocently enough; every time he brought the course carpenter paper down along the carved wood, Erik saw her hand in his and then his mouth on her.
Then it was his mouth on her cheeks. And then on her lips.
And then on her lips while Margot, his beautiful fantastical Margot, dressed in a white gown. And then while he lay her in bed and eagerly let that filthy mouth drift along the undiscovered corners of her body-
It was then that Philippe called out to him. "Are you trying to sand away all that carving boy?" he'd barked, not unkindly. Pausing, the former phantom had realised he was two strokes away from destroying all his hard work and he'd had to stop, breathing hard from fury and sorrow and-
Because of course, should he kiss Margot, the little gosse would love her. Anyone would. His Margot was simply an incredible woman. But of course, if he loved her, he would be compelled to marry her. And of course, if he married her, he would take her to bed-
The carpenter's paper in his hand rustled uncomfortably as Erik's fingers clenched around it, tightly.
And if she loved him, Erik thought, trying to mask his deep sorrow and guilt from the blind master before him. Of course, Erik would fade into the background. It was time Margot was allowed her place to shine. Perhaps next to Dmitri Dovin was it.
With those thoughts, Erik entered the cottage with a defeated heart. He couldn't allow Margot to give up her happiness again to satisfy him. It was indescribably unfair to her, considering what she had already done for him.
Margot didn't greet him when he entered the kitchen, only hunched her shoulders over her hot meal preparations. It suited Erik just fine. He couldn't bear another light hearted conversation with the woman he loved while trying to put away his selfish wants. Not after his newest vow, which his subconscious phantom found absolutely ridiculous.
Margot dished the soup carefully but silently, only speaking when she finally placed the bowls on the table between them. "It's very hot," she warned, quietly then bit her lip. Erik had to physically restrain his fingers from untucking the delicate flesh from between her teeth by grabbing his spoon. "How was Philippe?" she asked, forcedly.
Erik could not take it. "Cherie," he breathed, painfully. "Can we not pretend tonight?"
"P-pretend?" Margot stumbled, fidgeting. "What are we pretending?"
"That we are both perfectly content and serene." Erik replied, bluntly. In a twisted way, his pain felt justifiable to his guilty conscience, in a way it never had with Christine. Margot felt like this every day we met for years. He thought, drained. And she bore it so well, I never noticed.
Margot listened to the thunderous pour of the rain as it pattered across the roof for a long pause. "I'm sorry Erik," she murmured, solemnly. "I'm so sorry. I didn't realise how you felt."
Erik's heart nearly stopped.
She- She knew? She had heard him that night when he whispered all of his soul and mind and body into her slumbering ear? "How I feel?" he echoed, fighting to keep his tone even. Hope and confusion and dread seemed to pool in the same depth of his stomach. She knew…and she apologised? She no longer felt love for him?
It all came to a head with that one question which his mind instantly supplied an answer to.
It was obvious; Margot had waited long enough and her affections had withered under his misguided attempts to love another. And she had found her new start in that arrogant, irritating, insufferable little whelp-
"…it's so obvious now, I can't understand why I didn't see it before," she was mumbling to herself.
Was I so obvious? Erik wondered, frowning. He thought he had kept it from her so well.
"I-I can stay away if you want me to?" Margot continued, hesitatingly. "If you would like?"
All at once, every part of him roared in unison. "No!" he blurted out, eyes widening. In mere seconds he had left his chair and knelt before her, taking her hands tightly in his. He wanted to savour her touch because in such little time it would belong to another. "No Margot," he pleaded in a softer voice. "The only thing that would make this harder is your absence, I can promise you that."
Margot didn't look him in the eye. "I would've thought it would make things harder-" She remarked, defeat in her voice.
"Never." Erik swore but she was not listening.
"-I know it's difficult, I know I must remind you of her-"
"Who, cherie?" he pressed, confused by this new stream of thought. Margot continued on.
"-saying those things that night must have made it all so frustrating," she sighed, barely even talking to him anymore. "Trying to keep me happy while still handling her loss, I am so sorry I put you under the strain Erik, truly, I didn't mean to-"
"Her loss?" Erik echoed, puzzled.
"-I didn't even notice the depth of your gratitude when it smothered your own distress!" she added, sounding rather distressed herself. "Honestly, you should not have hidden your suffering for so long just for me. You would have done the same for me and I know I would do it over and over if I had to make the choice."
By now, Erik had lost control of the conversation entirely. "Cherie, I am thankful for what you've done for us…" he began.
"I know that but oppressing your hurt over Christine's loss is no way to show gratitude!" Margot exclaimed with the faintest hint of tears collecting at the corners of her eyes. She stood and wrenched her hands away as the thunder struck again. She sank her hands into her hair, trying to think.
"When did Christine enter this conversation, Margot?" Erik demanded, irritably. As always, Margot had made absolutely no sense whatsoever.
"From the very beginning, you daft fool!" she snapped, angrily. "Erik, if I knew it would cause you to feel so compelled to keep me happy, I would never have confessed the things I did that night!"
"Daft?" Erik retorted, bitingly. The insult to his intelligence cut deeply. "Well then why don't you explain these things since I obviously have no ability for comprehension!"
She recoiled. "You know what things!"
"Repeat them, Margot," he demanded, mockingly. "I need things repeated to me, my stupidity is simply so overwhelming!"
"I'm waiting, oh clever one!"
"Things like how I love you!" Margot exploded. "Things like how I wish you hadn't ever laid eyes on Christine! Like how I knew it would only hurt you in the end and I prayed every day to capture even an ounce of the attention you paid her! Things like how jealous I am that she knows a part of you I could never and that even now, even when we have new lives and new friends who love us, you still mourn the love that escaped you even if she was never worthy of it!"
Erik had risen before she said anything more than I love you and as she finished, he cradled her face in his rough hands with all the delicacy he possessed. "Oh cherie," he breathed, unable to keep any of his relief from his wonder-filled expression. "Perhaps I am a fool because I cannot seem to come up with words to adequately describe how you astound me."
Instead of pleasure, Margot's fine features screwed up with agony. "Erik," she nearly whimpered, her lovely grey eyes slipping shut. "You cannot say things like that. Please, I-I can't bear it. I'm not that strong."
"Wrong." He replied simply, brushing his lips over her eyelids gently. He could feel them relax wherever he touched her skin. "You are my strong, fascinating, insufferable, wonderful woman, Margot."
"Please," she whispered in a barely audible voice. "I can't."
"Of course you can, cherie," Erik marvelled into her ear, tracing his way to her cheekbones and the hollow of her throat. How had he never noticed the soft skin there? In all these years, when the perfect symmetry of her collar bones escaped him? "You deserve all these words and more."
In a fit of restraint, Margot tore herself away, heaving breaths. Her hands clutched at her skin, one at her throat and one over her eyes, both places he had kissed. "I cannot bear you trying to give me what you think I deserve Erik." She said, flatly. "I cannot accept this affection when it comes from some misplaced sense of guilt or duty or gratitude-"
"I love you, Margot." Erik stated, helplessly but without a shred of hesitation. His limits had been thoroughly broken and the words came pouring out. "Margot-"
Her reaction was unexpected to say the least.
For the first time in manyyears and despite many, many occasions where he deserved it, Margot's hand struck him sharply, her entire body quivering as she stared, white faced at him. His temper flared at the hot sting which felt more demeaning that painful but her bloodless expression cured his ire in a heartbeat.
"How dare you?" she began, lowly. "How dare you say that to me? I never thought you would try to hurt me so cruelly."
"Margot-" but she refused to listen.
"You would throw my feelings back at me?" she screeched, wildly. "You would tear me in half like this? How dare you mock me like this-?"
His patience would only last so long and in that second, it broke. Reaching out and with his superior strength, Erik grabbed his lady's waist-because she was his lady now, he'd make damn sure- and drew her near, pressing his lips against hers in one smooth manoeuvre. And dear Lord in heaven, wasn't it perfect.
She turned soft under his touch, her lips suddenly hesitant and pliable to his when they weren't spewing venom and her hands twisted into his dress shirt as though for dear life. She conjured that fantastical sense of dreaming in his fogged mind. He could hardly tell if he was even awake but if he was, Erik would do whatever necessary to remain asleep for eternity. Slowly, he captured her bottom lip which had been taunting him for weeks and ever so gently sucked. The indecently loud moan that escaped Margot was worth every word she'd said, however erroneous they were.
Finally, he let her escape and caught her hand when it swooped up to smack him across the other cheek. "Uh-uh," he scolded, gently with a smile of absolute contentment. "None of that or I'll have to kiss you again."
"W-What was that?" Margot asked desperately.
"My intolerable, astounding cherie," Erik replied, fondly, letting her fingers sink between his. "That was my love for you. And even if you no longer love me, you will again. I think you'll find my way of expressing it is very persuasive." He ducked his head down and after a moment, felt her lips gently mimic his motions. The feeling sent him skyward.
"Erik, I don't know what this means." She breathed into his mouth, helplessly.
"It means that my every waking thought belongs to you," he remarked, his lips brushing hers with every word. "It means that I can do nothing without considering you. It means that I see you in my past and my present and every day of our long and happy future." The words themselves made him tighten his grip on her as he kissed her again and again. Each one was better than the last, each one reminded him of every kindness she'd ever shown him, every moment she had shown what an impossible creature she was.
"Say it," Margot demanded after a long moment.
"I don't know," he murmured, nonchalantly. "The last time I said it, you slapped me."
"And I will do more than slap you if you are lying to me Erik." She replied, positively trembling in his grasp. Her eyes were wide, still and solemn. "Say it."
"I am impossibly drawn to you," Erik declared for her ears only. "I am unhealthily obsessed with you. I am incredulously in awe of you and I am deeply in love with you, Margot Ferrand. And I will prove it to you every day for the rest of your life, if I must."
"I love you too." Margot murmured from within the arms of her Phantom.
What do you think? A declaration fit for a Phantom? Review if you have thoughts on whether it was too much, too little or just enough, I am astounded by how many of you take the time to type out your essay-long reviews :)