Disclaimer: I own none of the characters from Phantom of the Opera. I make no profit from this.

Author's Note: Thanks to LadyWillow, for always pushing me and demanding more. Please review and let me know what you think!

Another last-minute Author's Note: Due to certain outer forces, Erik will not be in this chapter. Bear with me, though, because this chapter sets the scene for upcoming events and such.

Chapter Three -- Drop Him Like He's Hot

"You're doing what?!" Raoul nearly shouted, his mouth agape in utter surprise. He couldn't believe what he'd just heard. Complete madness was what it was, and if Christine thought she was getting away that easily, she was sadly mistaken.

Christine sighed and pushed a lock of hair behind her ear, and then returned her hand to her lap where they wrung together nervously. "Raoul, please don't make a scene. This is hard enough as it is."

"A scene? Ha ha! A scene, you say!" Raoul threw his hands up in the air. "God forbid I'd make a scene after I learn the woman I love with all my heart and soul has suddenly decided she doesn't want to be my fiancée anymore. Forgive me, Christine, for having a little trouble with this!"

Christine rolled her eyes and looked down at her hands. "I didn't want it to happen like this," she told him quietly.

Raoul's eyes were wide with astonishment, and he was sure if they were any wider they'd surely pop out of the sockets. "You've been planning this all along?! Christine, there's not even a week left of our pending marriage. How long were you going to keep this from me?"

At least he's quieted down a bit, Christine thought while running her fingers over the tablecloth. She should've waited until they were out of the restaurant to tell him. What a mistake. What an idiot! You've really done it this time.

"Raoul, I didn't intend for this to happen. I thought for a very long time that you'd be the man I'd spend the rest of my life with." She took a deep breath and was slow to exhale. "However," she began, reaching out and grabbing his hand, "I realize now that it was a childhood dream. We're not meant to be, Raoul. We're not." She squeezed his hand. "That doesn't mean that I don't love you, with all my heart, because I do. Never doubt that." She rubbed her thumb over his knuckles and examined them as she did. "I just don't feel right about this anymore, and I have a musical career to pursue, so I'm sure it'll be a long time before I'm ever prepared to settle down. It's not you, Raoul, it's me."

Raoul gazed down at their entwined fingers with a frown, eyebrows furrowed, feeling as though his very heart was being ripped from his chest. He didn't understand at all. He studied their hands very carefully, not comprehending how this could happen to him. He'd done nothing but care for Christine immensely, think of her every waking moment, and now she was leaving him. This was unlike her, and he just knew there was another reason for her insane talk. He looked up into her eyes and saw them shimmering with tears, and in a flash he knew what was going on.

Of course! Why hadn't I thought of it before?

"Christine, my darling, it's common for a bride to become frightened that she's becoming a wife, giving herself to a man. And you have every right to get cold feet at this point, after all, you should be even more scared because you're marrying the Vicomte de Chagny!" He grinned boyishly and squeezed her hand. "I promise I won't put you in the spotlight too often, my darling."

Christine narrowed her eyes as a little bit of anger rumbled inside her. Had she always been so caught up in his sweet words and handsome appearance that she'd never heard how conceited he was? In fact, hadn't Erik tried to warn her of that before?

"Raoul, I don't appreciate this. I said I don't want to be with you and if I have to persist with a bad attitude, I will not hesitate!" She glared at him and released his hand. "It's over. Did you hear me? Over!" She didn't want to see the hurt in his eyes. She wanted to get far away and never have to harm someone again.

Unexpectedly she stood, and gathered her dress in her hands so that she wouldn't walk on it. She turned from the table and made for the restaurant's door, and was almost there when a large hand shot out and grabbed her upper arm. She jerked away and continued out the doors, when the same hand repeated the action.

"Let go!" she shrieked, trying to jerk away. Raoul had her in a vice-like grip and she cursed his strength. "I have to go! He's waiting for me!" She was pulled around to face the viscount and he grabbed hold of her other arm, and began to shake her violently.

"He?! So that's why you're calling off our engagement! There's another man!" Raoul roared, and after he boomed, thunder did, and the first drop of rain fell onto his twisted face of fury.

Christine was desperate. She wanted to get away from him, to be done with all of this. In her desperation, she shouted into the vicomte's face, "He'll kill you if you do not let me go! He's everywhere, Raoul, he's watching! Let me go!"

Understanding the danger, Raoul immediately let her go and stood back from her. His mouth, open wide in his consternation, picked up raindrops that were coming down furiously now. He shook his head wildly and grabbed at his chest as he felt pain shoot through it.

"No… No! Christine, please, oh God, no!"

Christine gazed at him in despair. "Please forget this, Raoul. Remember our childhood, remember that I will always love you, but forget we were ever engaged!" She knew that she could never ask that of him, how could she, to forget everything they'd shared, for she never would forget, but she had to say something to make him stop in his tracks, and saying it helped her to hold her tears back. She turned and signaled to a nearby carriage, which came quickly to her aid. She climbed in, called to the driver, and spared Raoul one last glance as the horses trotted off.

Raoul stood, shaking from head to foot and not just from the freezing, pelting rain. The woman he had loved since he was a young boy, his bride, was leaving him. And she wasn't leaving him because of her career, or her nervousness, or even because she felt inadequate…

Christine Daae left the Vicomte de Chagny to be with the Phantom of the Opera!