Disclaimer: I do not own Phantom of the Opera, just the very interesting storyline. Which I now share with my lovely co author Ivy. Without whom...well...I think I'd be lost and this story wouldn't be cool. And you all wouldn't have this awesome addiction.

"Erik...you...you didn't tell me..." Lara could hardly speak. But words, they didn't seem right...even if she COULD form them correctly.

"Tell you what?" he breathed, as he carefully picked her up and set her down in the swan bed. How had he gotten back?

Lara smiled. "That you were...going to..." A giggle escaped her lips. "Wow..."

Erik kissed away the giggle, smiling at her. "Did you need to know?"

"You do have the element of surprise...I wouldn't wish to take that away from you..." She put her hand to one side of his face. "You are the Phantom of the Opera..."

"You are always my angel..."

Lara only smiled. He was so flattering...she was still trying to catch her breath...

He eased his mouth over hers, smiling dumbly. "I love you...Je te'aime."

"You're so...s-so..." Lara yawned, not trying to hide it. "Sweet."

The Phantom smiled, looking at his sleepy angel. Silently, he pressed a ring into her hand. Christine's.

Lara gasped. She opened her mouth, but he pressed a finger to her lips...she slowly closed it...

"Sleep, my angel...my love...sleep."

Lara looked at the ring. It was beautiful! After looking back into his eyes, reassured, she slid it onto her finger, and sank back against the pillows.

He kneeled beside her, in the position he had so many times...

Lara took his hand, what could she say? Her mind was running through a thousand thoughts, what was going on back above?

Erik covered her hands with his, kissing her fingers lightly. "Mon Ange..."

"Hmmmm?" she inquired sleepily.

"I will always keep you with me..."

"All right...sounds good..." Lara agreed with a yawn. "Even when I want to go to sleep?"

He chuckled slightly, moving to kiss her gently. "Always."

"Forever and for always..." she said with a yawn. She closed her eyes, drifting off to sleep easily.

Erik leaned forward, his hands caressing her face. She was such a beautiful woman...

He went to the organ. He had a few notes to deliver.

He returned a few hours later, looking in on his angel. His angel!

Erik found Lara shivering, looking very cold and uncomortable though somehow she was still asleep...the costume was awfully cool...

He looked around, searching for a blanket. Yes...that would do. He pulled the sheet over her, but she continued to shiver. His angel was so cold...

Erik lowered himself onto the bed, sitting somewhat and pulling her into his arms. He lay her head in the curve of his arm, settling her in his hold comfortably. Perhaps his body would provide enough warmth for her.

Lara awoke later that night...and...

Someone was holding her! She opened her eyes, and...

She smiled. It was Erik. He was asleep...a blanket was tucked around her shoulders. How funny...

Erik had fallen into a restful sleep, knowing his angel was safe in his arms, his alone...the night's passion-song meant more than words could ever express. And he had finally released himself, from the binding memory of Christine.

"Truly an angel..." she whispered, reaching out to brush his cheek with her hand. Lara wasn't cold as she had been(why couldn't the outfit have been warmer?), Erik must have seen her shivering and got worried...

His eyes slowly opened, feeling her wonderful touch. "Mon Ange?"

Lara smiled. "You got worried about me?" she inquired.

He nodded. "I will always worry about you, my dear angel..." Erik murmured sleepily.

Lara looked at his arms around her, not saying a word, but smiling. Only smiling her enchanting smile...

He hugged her closer, kissing her forehead and closing his eyes. "Sleep, my angel."

Lara obediently closed her owneyes. "Erik?" she asked, though, as she settled comfortably back into his arms.

"Yes?" he responded, voice quiet in her ear as he eased his grip around her.

"I'm going to do it, tomorrow...I'll tell him to leave..." And it wasn't just her being tired and just saying things, either. She meant it. It could be heard in her tone.

He turned her face to his, kissing her fiercely before holding her body to his in desperation. "Je te'aime..."

"Je te'aime..." she answered, though her accent was terrible. "I'm here, I'm here..."

He held her close, drifting into sleep once more. With her, his lover, in his arms.

Lara went back to sleep as well. All thoughts, all concerns for the world above left her. She was here, with Erik...she was here...

And nothing would ever be more perfect.

Lara awoke and snuck away that morning, using the passage that went around the lake but exited through her mirror in her dressing room the same.

Madame Giry was knocking curtly on the door. "Lara! Lara Parker!"

She hurriedly ran and opened it. Her appearance, surely, was awful, her hair mussed, her costume wrinkled...

"Look out your window. Look." Madame Giry grabbed the girl's hand after shutting the door, opening the curtain.

People were gathered by the thousands, it seemed...

"Your public was very impressed, dear Prima Donna," Madame Giry informed her.

She smiled.

"Have you not done anything since you...left?" Madame Giry asked, eying Lara and her appearance very curiously.

"Just fallen asleep, really..."

"Does he know you have left him?"

Lara bit her lip. "I snuck out..."

Madame Giry looked to the heavens. "Go. Do what it was you wished to do. I'll wait for him, to come looking for you."

She nodded. "All right. Do you mind if I-" Lara looked in the direction of the screen she always stepped behind to change.

"Of course not..."

Lara grabbed a simple white gown, stepping behind the screen and changing into it. She didn't take the rose from her hair, only pushed a few strands of it into place. "I'll come back."


Erik shuddered awake, stretching slightly as his mouth opened in a yawn. He hadn't changed, moved...not with Lara in his arms.

Lara! She wasn't there...could it all have been a dream?

His entire time with her...could he have dreamt her existence, her kisses, her love for him?

Lara carefully crept around Frank's room, finding her way to the rooftop. She overlooked her fans below, she could hear her name being shouted over and over...

Lara took a seat at the base of a statue. "So this is how my life will be?" she whispered. "Is it what you guys wanted?"

No one spoke. She was speaking, hoping her parents would hear her questions, but no one said a word.

She laughed. "Did you see your little girl, last night? Did I make you proud? I have so many people wanting to see me...I am lucky..."

The Opera Ghost rubbed at his eyes, attempting to make himself see reason. Of course it had been a dream. No one could love a monster as himself.

Why had it been so real?

Lara smiled in spite of herself. Her parents wouldn't talk to her. Then she laughed.

"I dream of rain!" she sang to herself. "I dream of gardens in the desert sand...I wake in pain. I dream of love as time runs through my hand...I dream of fire. Those dreams are tied to a horse that will never tire. And in the flames, her shadows play in the shape of a man's desire..."

His eyes stung. That was how it was...he understood.

Part of him refused to let the idea that Lara was real go. Erik desperately looked about for something that meant she was real...that he was loved.

A wind picked up, rustling her hair.

"Aha, so you do hear me?" she asked. To anyone watching, she'd have sounded crazy, but she knew what she was talking about.

Lara continued to sing, to see what would happen. "This desert rose, each of her veils, a secret promise. This desert flower, no sweet perfume ever tortured me more than this...and as she turns-the way she moves in the logic of all my dreams. This fire burns, I realize that nothing's as it seems..."

She was gone...but he could swear he felt her essence in the sheets, in his own body.

She was not real...but he could feel her lips, the taste lingering on his own.

"I dream of rain..." she continued to sing, not aware that she was being missed. "I dream of gardens in the desert sand. I wake in pain...I dream of love as time runs through my hand..."

She was also not aware that someone was watching her. Admiring her...he'd been so worried...she was fine...

"I dream of rain! I lift my gaze to the empty skies above. I close my eyes, this rare perfume is the sweet intoxication of love..."

He could've felt her with him...

Erik went to his organ, shaking. He titled a new paper MMLWY, and began to compose a soulful, mourning song.

The song she sang! Did she not realize, it had been their very first dance? Did she secretly long for him? Was she too far gone for him to rescue?

"I dream of rain! I dream of gardens in the desert sand. I wake in pain. I dream of love as time runs through my hand-" Lara sang, but a voice interrupted hers.

"Sweet desert rose!" Frank called out to her in song. "Each of her veils, a secret promise. This desert flower, no sweet perfume ever tortured me more than this!"

She gasped, she finally remembered the importance of the song...

"Sweet desert rose!" Frank called to her again, stepping closer to her. "This memory of Eden haunts us all. This desert flower, this rare perfume-" Frank reached out, grazing her cheek with his hand. "-is the sweet intoxication of fall..."

Lara looked up. "You remember?"

He nodded. "I remember."

Of course he does...thought Lara. So do I. Us dancing so sinfully close...so sinfully period. Why would the fop forget? "So do I."

"Are you all right, Lara?"

She looked up into his eyes. "Perfectly fine."

"You don't seem it."

She stood up, face-to-face with him. Of course I'm not all right! Lara wanted to yell. I'm about to break your heart!

"I thought I'd lost you, Lara..." He hugged her happily.

Lara let him hug her. But she was scared. What if Erik had come after her, and he was watching? What would he do?

Something carried Erik to the rooftop watching space, behind that same statue...something compelled him. He needed the cool air...it'd keep his head the same.

So he'd thought, as he donned his cloak and headed through the passages.

All ideas of that were shattered as he saw the lover he thought he'd dreamed up, and the fop, with her. Holding her.

"Frank, no..." Her hand, the one that beared Christine's old ring, went to her head, and she backed away from him. "We need to talk."

Frank saw the ring, and his look turned serious. "Yes we do."

"It's been a month, Frank. And I have something to say..."

The poor fool, he looked hopeful! Lara looked as if she was upset. What would he do when she told him?

It had been a month, the Phantom remembered now. She was going to tell him yes. There was no way she could refuse the boy...he knew. It was all over...he turned away, he couldn't bear to watch.

"You've been a good friend to me, in the past. And even just before we came, you showed the blind courage to follow me, in Jack's absence. You didn't want me getting myself into trouble. I respect that, Frank, I respect it a whole lot..."

He nodded, not exactly sure where Lara was going with this, hopefully in the direction of a yes...

"But the truth is, that's all you'll ever be to me. A friend, a really good one. It was a dream, Frank...that was it...and it was good for a while. But all dreams have to come to an end. I'm sorry, but I don't want to marry you."

She closed her eyes, waiting for whatever reaction would come...she would take it...

Erik blinked, trying to think. Had she just told him no? His heart soared...his angel truly did belong to him!

Frank walked towards her in disbelief. "What has he done to you? Do you know what you're saying?" He gripped her arms, trying to make her look at him.

"Frank, I'm fine!"

"No you're not! You're acting just like you had at the graveyard! What has he done, Lara? Tell me, please, what can I do to get you back?" He shook her, not realizing he had so hard. He'd lost, he wasn't about to accept defeat.

Lara closed her eyes, looking away, trying to hide the tears that threatened to fall. She was praying, praying that if he was watching, that he'd stay put...Dear lord, please...

Erik itched to move, to help her. But yet, the boy prevented that...there was hardly anything he could do.

Lara shook her head. "Nothing, you can't do anything! I love him, Frank!"

"You've been forced to!"

"I have not! It's over! Did you not hear me?" she asked more heatedly. "It's over!"

"You don't know what you're saying!"

A harsh POP! sounded through the air. Lara had slapped him, as hard as possible, and the boy stumbled backward.

"No, Frank, I think I do," she said, tears beginning to roll down her face.

"Lara..." Frank whispered, hands covering his now red face.

"You had best not follow me, Frank...because if he sees me, like this?" Lara closed her eyes, turning her head away. "I suggest that you keep your hand at the level of your eyes!"

With that, she ran off, being much more careful as she went. Her eyes stinged with tears, but she didn't care. She cared nothing longer, she had to go to Erik, to tell him what had happened...

Erik wouldn't tell her he had seen. She'd know...but he 'hadn't seen'. But he went too, leaving the poor boy alone on the roof as he returned to the lair.
Lara ran into her room, Madame Giry was waiting. "What is wrong?" the woman inquired.

"I have to go to him...excuse me...please..." Lara said, and the woman nodded, allowing Lara to sneak off through the mirror and into the passage, running down to the lair.

"Erik!" she cried, finding him at the organ.

He had returned and began work, on that same script, again. What was it, about that piece? ALAYM? "Angelina?" He turned, hearing her call him.

She was crying, the tears fell down her face freely. Lara ran to him, throwing her arms around his neck. "Oh, Erik..."

Erik made quiet hushing noises in her ear, holding her to him and cradling her sobbing frame.

"I did it, Erik...I finally did it...but...oh, Erik, he scared me! Horribly!"

"It's alright...I know...you'll be alright, he won't harm you..."

"I told him it was over, Erik! And he shook me! He thought I'd gone mad"!

Frank ran to find Madame Giry. "Where is she? You must take me to her!"

"Monsieur, it is dangerous! I will not do it again!"

"Please, Madame..." The boy looked as if he could cry. "I love her."

Madame Giry sighed, relenting. "I will take you as far as I dare go..."

"You aren't mad, he is. I'll protect you...you never need see him again...I'll send him through the mirror, for you, my love!" Heated passion rang in his voice, keeping her to him.

Lara leaned her head over his shoulder. "No, stay with me...you won't ever leave me, will you?"

"Never!" He turned her face to his, eyes burning with unspoken passions that he yearned to show her. "I love you far too much, m'cherie."

"I return that love..." She shook, and snuggled closer to him. "With all my heart and very soul..."

He kissed her forehead. "Are you tired? I woke, and you weren't there...I thought it was a dream. But it isn't, is it? Mon Ange...it's not a dream?"

"I hope I didn't frighten you. It is not a dream. It is very real." She brought his lips to hers, kissing him to prove it.

He returned it, tenderly. Whereas many were filled with passion, right now it was simple adoration and love.

"It is real, do you believe me now?"

"Oh..." Erik murmured softly. "I believe you. Are you tired?"

"Not really. I'd rather stay here with you..."

"That is fine." He took her hand andkissed it. His eyes caught sight of the ring. Her ring. "My love? Will you be mine, forever?"

Madame Giry showed him just to the lake. "This is it, Monsieur...good luck..."

He watched her go, and dove into the lake, swimming quickly across. He heard voices...sobbing...

"My love? Will you be mine, forever?"

"No!" he breathed as he reached the gate.


"NO!" Frank yelled, gripping the gate in frustration.

Erik held up a hand, motioning for her to stop. "Wait, I think, my dear, we have a guest! Sir..."

Lara looked in that direction. "Frank!" she cried, angered.

"This is indeed an unparelled delight! I had rather hoped that you would come...and now, my wish comes true...you have truly made my night!" He spoke with more than slight sarcasm, holding Lara closer to him.

"Free her! Do what you like, only free her! Have you no pity?" he demanded of Erik with every bit of love he felt for the young woman the older man was holding to him in his voice.

"Your 'lover' makes a passionate plea!" he mocked, smirking. The poor, poor, stupid boy...

"Frank, I told you-" Lara began, but the fop kept singing, desperate.

"I love her! Does that mean nothing? I love her! Show some compassion!" Frank cried out.

"The wor-stupid fop-ld showed no compassion to me!" Erik spat, not allowing him to get through the gate and still holding Lara's small body to his. He wouldn't let her go.

"Lara, Lara, let me see her!" Frank requested, Lara closing her eyes, wishing that he would leave.

"Be my guest...Sir." Erik allowed the gate to rise, admitting the stupid boy into the lair. "Monsieur, I bid you welcome..."

Lara glared deathly at Frank as the gate rose, not even noticing Erik walking towards him...

"Did you think that I would harm her?" he asked, slowly moving closer, punjab behind his back...

Frank watched suspiciously, realizing, he had forgotten his sword! Good God, what kind of hero was he?

"Why would I make her pay...for the sins which are yours!" Shortly, the boy was tied to the gate. He turned to Lara. He couldn't very well pose her the choice he had given Christine...could he?

Lara had not broken her gaze from the poor man. He had been so blinded by love so much...

Frank looked helpless, so helpless.

"Try to make her love you now! Raise up your hand to the level of your eyes! Nothing can save you now, except perhaps, Lara!"

Frank's gaze never broke from Lara's...they both were shocked, but both for different reasons...

There he stopped. "Lara...do you choose to be forever mine...or do you wish to leave with him?"

Lara couldn't speak. She looked between both men, both so helpless, both needing guidance...

"Tell him, Lara!" Frank encouraged. "Tell him your tears turn to tears of hate for him!"

Erik watched her, turning away as he felt his mask...yes, still there...

Lara bit her lip, closing her eyes.

"Lara, forgive me, please forgive me!" Frank begged. "Please!"

"I'll untie him, Ange...you may go..." the Phantom offered.

"Angel of Music!" Lara exclaimed. "Please, come to me..." she sang.

"Sing, Lara..." Frank whispered. "Sing..."

Erik slowly went to Lara, questioning her motives as he went to her side. "Yes, my angel?"

"Beautiful creature of darkness..." she sang, as she had so long ago. "What kind of life have you known? God, give me courage to show you, you're the man I love!" Lara drew him closer, hand going behind his head in order to make him kiss her in the most earth-shattering kiss they'd ever shared...

Frank held back tears...he'd lost...he'd truly lost...

And Erik was truly soaring. This man, condemned to a life in misery and a future in hell, in heaven with his angel, Lara, during this sublime moment. He returned the kiss, ardent as his hands pulled her to him.

Frank sobbed, very uncharacteristically. He'd lost! He'd lost Lara to the Phantom of the Opera!

Lara never broke the kiss, never gasped for air...she even forgot about Frank. All she cared about was Erik...

The fop? Oh...him...Erik didn't mind that he saw, all the better, to know it was really over between him and Lara. She belonged to him, now. He eased his mouth over hers, loving her tenderly and passionately all at once.

Lara looked downward, afterward.

"Frank..." She escaped Erik's grasps, wading out to the poor, confused man. "Frank, you've got to go back. This is where I belong. You don't, Frank..." Her loving fingers began untying him from the gate.

Frank finally understood. "This memory of Eden haunts us all..." he whispered.

"This desert flower, this rare perfume, is the sweet intoxication of the fall..." they sang in harmony.

"Go, Frank..."

He flung his arms around her. "Good luck, Lara...good luck..."

She slowly wrapped her arms around him. ""It's okay...shhhhh..."

Though he had just received the woman he loved, Erik nearly, no, he did feel bad for the boy. Frank was as hopelessly in love with Lara as he himself was...

Frank backed away from her after brief moments in the paradise of her arms.

"Go on, forget everything, forget all you've seen..." she encouraged him. "Your life isn't over. I mean it. You may not think so, but it isn't."

It wasn't...it wouldn't be. But Erik had Lara...and that would be enough to ruin anyone's life as they knew it. Losing their dearest love..how Erik feared to lose his Lara!

Frank turned, with one last glance to Lara, and left, just the way he came...he would go get Lexi, and they'd leave..."Lara, I love you..." he sang as he turned that last time, getting his last glimpse of her before leaving.

Poor boy...Erik thought. But she had chosen him. Although, he didn't want to leave another in pain; but hadn't he the right to be happy?

Lara ran after standing there for a moment of silence, ran as quickly as she could without tripping back to Erik. She flung her arms around his neck. "I love you, Erik, I do!"

He hugged her close. "Say you'll be mine, forever?"

"Forever!" she promised happily.

His hand found her hair, and he stroked it, relieved. She was his! After so long...she was his..."I love you, my angel...my dear, darling angel."

And he kissed her, all the love, tenderness, passion and desire given to his...his angel, his soon-to-be wife, his lover..his...

Erik laughed briefly.

His brilliant, shining angel.