Speech of Flowers By AngelCeleste85

The Standard Disclaimer: I do not own "PTO." I never have, and never will, own Erik, Raoul, Christine, or any of the other characters that appear in other authors' versions of the story of the Phantom of the Opera (no matter how much I wish I did). I also do not own any of the rights to "With Or Without You," the real owners are U2. The only things I can make any claim to are the workings of my own imagination with the material that other artists have given to me in their music and their stories, and the occasional incidental characters that truly *are* mine. I am not making any money off of this in any way, shape or form!

Blame: This has been rattling around in my head for about a week now. I may also re-use this song, since it's versatile enough in this case that it can fit several different scenes.

Setting: This starts right after the crucial unmasking scene in "I Remember" and "Stranger Than You Dreamt It," most definitely ALW-based.

Other notes: Something that's been bugging me for quite some time now about the average Phanphic is that people are generally applying modern views of morality on a situation that went against all the societal views of the times in every way. The story of the Phantom of the Opera is set during Victorian times. At that time, anyone who even considered themselves a proper lady or gentleman would have known the language of flowers. Little of it is actually used today, but some still survives. See if you can figure out the meanings of the flowers I include here: I will give you the meanings at the end, in the next chapter, if you're interested. I am trying to help this conform to Victorian ideas of etiquette, but given that this is a single female alone and unchaperoned in the home of a single male not related to her, there's not a lot I can do with that. I will see what I can do about posting some of my research into the formalities of Victorian etiquette as subsequent chapters to this.

The song lyrics to "With Or Without You" by U2 are in // double slashes //, all the thoughts involved are Erik's and they're in italics. I did try, in response to the few comments I've gotten that the slashes and brackets are distracting, to get document formatting up here but it isn't working and for that I apologize.

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Speech of Flowers by AngelCeleste85

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Christine sat on the divan, arms around her knees, hunched with her face buried. Her dark curls hid any side glimpse of her face as effectively as his mask covered his own face. Her body shivered from more than the damp in the room: the atmosphere was enough to raise goosebumps even on Erik's arms, and his keen hearing picked up the soft sound of silent sobs in time with the shudders wracking her. He had laid his cloak over her shoulders and tucked it gently around her, careful as always never to touch her, but she had shivered even harder at his catlike approach. She had given him one tearful look, and no more.

// See the stone set in your eyes //

Erik sighed inwardly.

// See the thorn twist in your side //

[[ I should have known. She'd never accept me when she saw my face. My face: my cursed, cursed face. ]]

// I'll wait for you //

[[ Fear can turn to love, though, I told her that... and for that hope, I can wait. I must wait. ]]

// Sleight-of-hand and twist of fate //

On impulse, he pulled a rose out of his sleeve. It was slightly bedraggled for the time spent there, but it still said exactly what he wanted to. With his right hand, he laid it in the hollow between her ankles, always careful never to touch her.

// On a bed of nails she makes me wait //

[[ My love lies at her feet. If she knows anything of the language of flowers, she will understand that. ]]

// And I wait without you //

[[ At the door to what he called his bedroom he paused. ]]

// With or without you //

[[ "If you wish it, I will continue to teach you, but I need to know what you want." ]]

// With or without you //

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// Through the storm we reach the shore //

Erik's mind was an ocean, lashed to fury by the strength of his feelings, and for once he did not bother to hide it. For once, he was thoroughly angered. "You call that singing?"

// You gave it all but I want more! //

Christine stood flat against the wall, her palms against the polished wooden paneling and her blue eyes wide and filling with tears: he noticed, but for once he did not show that he cared. [[ Let her see that I'm angry. ]] Erik's dark eyes burned from behind the mask. It wasn't really her singing that made him so angry, it was this inability of hers to choose between him and the young Vicomte de Chagny. but he could not just come out and say that!

"You've sung better on your worst day before now than you did tonight. You did not warm up properly and your voice will be rough for days for that, the least of what you deserve for that sort of idiocy. Any artist needs to warm up before performing, and just because you're the company's up-and- coming diva makes no difference in that except to make warm-ups all the more essential! Have I taught you for nothing? Have you learned anything at all? Everything I have said seems to have gone in one ear and out the other! Maybe I should send you back to the petite rats, if you insist on wasting my time by not applying what I teach you!" With those words his rage, quick to rise and quick to burn itself out, spent itself and his shoulders sagged, dark eyes showed his pain, before he could stop them. Quickly the walls of self-control slammed back into place.

"I do not mean to scare you, dear Christine," he said in a tone more moderate but still rough from his uncharacteristic display of temper. "I enjoy our lessons, you have a lovely voice and I enjoy teaching you to be the best you can be. But I am frustrated. You can stay here tonight if you want to, but I need to know what you want." There, that much was out and the Devil take whatever she heard! "I will not see you again until I know what you want." [[ You tempt me too much! ]] "When you know what you want and feel like telling me, you can find a way."

// And I'm waiting for you //

He spun on his heel before anger could reassert itself in his mind and made an effort to close his bedroom door quietly.

// With or without you //

The organ bench gave its familiar creak as he settled his weight onto it once more.

// With or without you //

Silent in body, yet the bench creaked as his body rocked with grief. Mentally he was screaming...

[[ // I can't live // ]]
[[ // With or without you // ]]

Erik listened through his own silent tears, listened for any sound from Christine.

// And you give yourself away //

It would be just fitting with the melodrama of an opera house if Christine walked in now and apologized.

// And you give yourself away //

He heard her voice, strained through tears, pick up the part again where her voice had nearly cracked tonight, falter.... the note was too high for her tired throat to handle now and she had to drop out.

// And you give //

She tried it again. Again, she dropped out. The attempts were breaking his heart.

// And you give //

[[ Christine... ]] Erik started to rise.

// And you give yourself away //

He heard her weeping, the sound of quick feet, and then the sound of the front door opening and closing. Two strides carried him from the organ bench to the bedroom door, where he stopped in his tracks.

At his feet, resting on the Persian carpet, the blossom just shy of being crushed by his boot, lay the rose he had given her those few days - was it only a few days? - ago. It was dried, and tied on the right side with a black ribbon.

He picked up the flower and closed his eyes, leaned back against the wall. She had to have intended to tell him this before he challenged her. The adage about getting what one asks for ran through his mind.

// My hands are tied //

[[ What can I do? ]]

// My body bruised, she's got me with //

He didn't realize he had punched through the wall until he felt the pain in his knuckles. A look revealed the broken skin and the blood already beading, the splinters in the back of his hands. [[ Christine, the things you drive me to do... ]]

// Nothing to win and //

[[ I can't hope for her love... ]]

// Nothing left to lose //

[[ I've lost her, ]] Erik thought glumly. [[ I've lost her forever. She will not love me now, she will run to her Vicomte when he appears and... There is nothing I can do, I have lost her... ]]

[[ Or have I? ]]

He sat down at the organ. Already he could hear the music flowing through him, and he made a note on a scratch paper of the day. The organ wasn't going to let him go anywhere for a few days: was there anything he had that would keep that long? [[ I'm not going to feel much like traveling far for food when this one is done... I'm finishing this damn "Don Juan" now! ]]

// And you give yourself away //

[[ Everything I have is going into this. ]]

// And you give yourself away //

[[ I can't give her more than I already have... ]]

// And you give //

[[ ...except complete and total honesty. ]]

// And you give //

[[ Very well... ]]

// And you give yourself away //

[[ I will lay myself bare to all of Paris for you, though I know you no longer sing for me. ]]

// With or without you //

[[ The part is yours, Christine... ]]

// With or without you //

[[ Written just for you... ]]

// I can't live //

[[ I love you, Christine, I would not have been so angry with you tonight if I did not! It is not your singing that angered me, only a highly trained ear would have caught that tiny falter that *was* only a tiny falter in the performance tonight, it is the mixed messages that you have given me until now... ]]

// With or without you //

[[ Go back to your ignorant young fool... he can shower you with roses, but I will send you flowers from time to time as well. When I can stop writing music... daffodils and yellow tulips. ]]

// With or without you //

[[ You will never willingly say you love me... ]]

// With or without you //

[[ But just once I'd like to hear it from you, even if it's only playing a scripted role... I'd even walk the boards to hear it, you know I have to have a good reason for getting up in front of people... ]]

// I can't live //

[[ A doomed effort, I know, doomed to fail. Even if you could love me, how could I let you live here with me? ]]

// With or without you //

[[ Oh, Christine... ]]

// With or without you... //

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Phin.

Feedback, please? And did anyone understand the meanings of the flowers? If not, the next section has some information on that if you're interested, but the story itself is done. Thank you.

AngelCeleste85 - the Phantom Lover

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