Disclaimer: I own none of the characters from Phantom of the Opera. I do have fantasies about owning a certain opera ghost, though.

Author's Note: A one-shot that came to my head that I definitely could not go without writing. Enjoy and don't feel like you have to sign in to review. :-D

Spiders

She knew in that moment. It took her a damned long time to finally realize, but now, she knew. And there was no turning back. Reaching the Rue Scribe entrance, she prepared herself for what was ahead. A whole new life, with the man she truly loved, the man who loved her unconditionally and wholeheartedly.

"Mon Dieu!" Christine shouted, jumping up from her seated position on the couch and standing at the end, on the arm. "Raoul!"

The Vicomte de Chagny entered quickly, a look of concern over his features from the sound of her screams. He followed her gaze and her pointed finger to the elegant carpeted floor, where a small spider was crawling, oblivious to the woman it had frightened so terribly. Raoul rolled his eyes and turned, ignoring Christine's shrill cries.

"Raoul! Kill it! It's coming towards me!" She jumped up and down madly.

Raoul turned back when he reached the door and gave her a look of annoyance. "For God's sake, Christine, it's an insect. I wish you would grow up. Surely when we're married you'll refrain from acting this way around our guests." And with that, he left the room, sighing in irritation.

Christine jumped off the sofa, around the creepy-crawly, and ran after him. She caught up to him and grasped his forearm, making him turn.

"Who are you, Raoul?! Are you the same boy who retrieved my scarf? The boy who would do anything to save me?" She looked up at him desperately.

He pushed her off his arm and continued back to his study. "Acting that way because of the presence of a mere bug is ridiculous, Christine. And standing on the couch is not my idea of a lady."

Christine watched him sit down in his desk chair, and she folded her arms. "No… I guess it would not be."

In that moment, she remembered when Erik had killed a very elusive fly after seeing her swat it away several times. Clarity struck her and her arms dropped at her sides.

"I see, Raoul. I see. I hope you can find that lady that so wonderfully meets your standards."

After grabbing her cloak, she left Raoul's home.

"Erik! Erik! Please tell me you're here!" She turned in circles, almost making herself dizzy. "Erik!"

A fire was built, so she knew someone had to be there. At that moment, a startling shadow appeared, and a dark figure stepped into the firelight. The white of the phantom's mask shone brightly, and stood out amongst his dark attire, and the dark of the room.

Christine moved forward, although she could see the puzzlement and resentment etched on Erik's features. Her arms flew around his neck and she rose on tiptoe to bury her face in his neck.

Erik's eyes narrowed and his arms stayed limp at his sides. He was truly torn. Part of him wanted to embrace her, declare his love for her over and over until his mouth ran dry, tell her how much he missed her sweet face; the other half wanted to shake her roughly until she was shouting her cries of repentance for leaving him.

Christine didn't let him think on which he'd do. She cupped his face in her hands and kissed him deeply, and when she was out of air, she pulled back and replaced her face in the crook of his neck.

The phantom's eyebrows were furrowed. He was so utterly confused, but after the dazzling kiss she'd just given him, he couldn't help but take her in his arms. He noticed she had begun to cry, and her tears wet his pale skin and then his shirt. Taking her hands, he moved them to the couch, where she still clung to him helplessly.

"Christine," he said softly, rubbing her head and stroking her hair, "Whatever is the matter, my dear? And why did you feel the need to return here to cry?"

Christine pulled back and stifled her sobs. "I'm… I'm sorry, Erik. You… I… Oh, God!" She brought her hands up to her face and sobbed, and her desperate cries became muffled. "I realized what a fool I had been to push away my love for you."

And although it was muffled, he could hear.

It scared him and he felt his heart tighten in excitement and hope. Placing his hands lightly on her shoulders, he spoke in an almost whisper, "Christine, what are you speaking of, my dear? Calm yourself and tell me what is going on."

Christine took a deep breath and he reassuringly took her hands in his, and squeezed them gently.

"I was simply sitting, reading," she began, looking down at their hands. "And I saw a spider crawling towards me, on the floor. You know how I cannot bear to see a bug, Erik! You do, don't you? And you'd protect me from it, wouldn't you?" Not letting him answer, she shook her head and then in contrast, began to nod furiously. "Of course you would! You protected me from that fly; you'd die for me! Of course you'd kill that dreadful crawling thing!"

Erik had to smirk lightly at that, but he doubted she saw it. He let her continue, because the presumptions she was making of him were right on.

"So I stood on the couch and screamed for Raoul, and he came. But when I told him of my dilemma, he acted indifferent and told me to grow up!" She sniffed and her nose crinkled in fury. "Grow up! The man is terrified of mice, and he tells me to grow up! He told me I needed to act as a respectable lady would. Can you believe that nonsense, Erik? He wants me to change how I am to be more likely to be accommodated into his family!" She closed her eyes and her voice died down. "And then, I realized: you would never ask that of me. You're more patient with me that anyone I know, Erik. You care for me as no other would. I remembered when you tactfully killed that fly… And then it dawned on me…"

She looked up from their entwined hands and whispered, "I love you." She sighed unhappily and looked back down at their hands. "I suppose it's too late for me to realize that now. I just… I need you to know of my love for you." She smiled and glanced up at him. "And how much I appreciated you killing that fly for me."

Erik exhaled deeply and removed one of his hands from hers to lightly caress her dark curls. "Christine, it's not too late. I would still protect you from anything you felt could harm you."

Christine's eyes sparkled as she grinned up at him, and all he could do was smile back. She seemed so close to him, and feeling a sudden brave streak within him, he leaned closer and captured her lips within his. And then, he pulled back, and she gazed with adoration up at him.

"Christine, you know I would protect you from anything… But, I doubt I'd be able to harm the spider that brought us together."

She smiled and shrugged, pulling his head back down to hers. "Raoul didn't, either. Ironic. I guess we're meant to be."

Erik grinned as he held her tightly to him. "It took you a spider to realize that, my love?"

"Yes. Spiders are interesting creatures, Erik. They capture things in their webs." She giggled as his lips moved to her neck.

"I want to catch you in my web," Erik spoke huskily against her fragile soft skin.

"Oh, Erik," she sighed, and ran her fingers through his short dark hair. "You accomplished that long ago."