The Phantom's lair

He watched as his boat carried her away, she turned to look at him one last time and he caught an emotion close to longing in her eyes. All too soon she was lost from view in the darkness of the catacombs. He really believed at that moment, that if she could have torn herself in two, she would have come to him and stayed at his side, but the pull of air and light and freedom was too strong for her young heart.

The rage and loss bubbled up inside of him as he grabbed a huge candelabrum and smashed the large mirror, loathing the reflection of the hideous creature he saw in its silvery depths. His anger not yet sated he smashed another and another, to reveal a tunnel. The cries of the angry mob grew louder to his ears as he stepped inside and drew the curtain over the smashed mirror frame.

He wiped away his tears, she had kissed him, and the canker which distorted his face had mattered not to her. For one blinding moment she had looked on him with love and had kissed his lips as if she was kissing a lover, and he had felt her warmth. It had eased that ache of loneliness which was his burden to bear. He knew he could not condemn her to a life of darkness, and as much as it pained him he had released her.

He knew that he could disappear into the maze of tunnels never to be found, but he had meant it when he said that the music was over. The opera house above him burned, a few stray tendrils of smoke had reached even these depths. There would be no more Christine to fill his waking moments, with her voice ringing out strong and true, filling his solitude with her song. He continued up the tunnel until he came to a small alcove. It was purposely equipped for such an occasion as this one. He took the black travelling cape and bag filled with bank notes and coins and small bag with some fresh clothing and an exact replica of the white papier mache mask he had left behind.

He clenched the ring she had given him, so tightly that the stones dug into the flesh of his palm, causing it to bleed, not unlike his tattered heart. As he scrambled out of the basements of the opera house, he was in time to see Christine alight a carriage; tethered to those same fine horses he had mocked the viscomte for only moments ago.

His heart broke afresh, seeing them wrapped in each others arms. He stood for as long as he dared as the carriage disappeared into the night mist before disappearing in the opposite direction.

Madame Giry stepped out from the shadows and watched him walk away from the only home he had ever known since his flight for freedom those long years ago. He was fleeing into the world for the first time, she hoped in her heart that the fates would look down on him with kindness, of which had so far been denied him.

"Au revoir mon ami," she whispered to him, touching her fingers to her lips, as she turned away in the direction of the opera house dorms where her daughter Meg waited with the others.

Six Months Later, the Chagny estate.

Christine settled back into her husband's arms, their tour of Europe had been perfect. The wedding had been the stuff of fairy tales; they had departed on their trip almost immediately after the ceremony, wanting to wipe away the memories of their ordeal at the hands of her maestro. She glanced at Raoul, whom was fast asleep in the luxurious interior of their carriage. She looked out of the window at the fast approaching night, she closed her eyes for a moment, and it was then that the memory of her angel of music flooded her head like the remembrance of a beloved song. Would she ever be free, did she want to? A traitorous part of her mind whispered to her.

Only now, when she was a married woman in the fullest sense of the word, did she understand the strange feelings that Erik had invoked in her. The emotions that had coursed through her as they had sung together on the stage when he had caressed her skin and she had given into his touch willingly. It was only later that Raoul had told her that it had been like watching another man make love to her on the stage and that he feared he had lost her forever.

The words of that song came back to her…how long should we two wait before we're one She had wanted his touch, her body had been in flames with desire for him and he had read it in her eyes. She drew back in shock as her mind imagined his hands on her naked skin, caressing her, making music of the flesh, while her cries rang out as if on a crescendo of an aria. Raoul had been closer to the truth than she would ever dare admit. Her cheeks flushed guiltily at her immoral thoughts; even now her absentee tutor still had a frightening hold over her. Raoul owned her heart, but the phantom owned her soul, and that scared her more than anything.

She wondered if he still resided in his dark self inflicted prison beneath the burned out opera house or maybe he had found love and sunlight to warm his tortured soul. She hoped he had for his sake. His disfigurement had meant nothing to her, when she had kissed him she had not even seen it, loving him for the man that he was and the gift of music he had bestowed upon her, his student.

The carriage jolted at it hit a rut in the road, causing her husband to awaken. He looked over at her and smiled.

"What should cause such sadness on a day like this?" he asked her, moving closer to her.

She shivered as if someone had stepped on her grave. The moment passed and she smiled at him. "Not sad my love, just wondering how I will fare as mistress of such a large household," she lied.

Raoul heard the lie in her voice, but dismissed it. He often saw the dark shadows of the past in her eyes, knowing they would never be fully gone from them. He knew that the phantom had managed to reach her heart in a way he never could, but that he had her love was enough for him.

He lowered his head to kiss her before pulling away, holding onto her hand. "You will do just fine, how can they help but love you, as I do?" he asked. "Besides, Madame Giry is there so you will not be totally among strangers,"

She smiled at him, having forgotten of her former guardian's new appointment as housekeeper. Meg had joined a ballet corps and still lived in Paris. She missed her friend whom was almost a sister to her. But now her future lay within the grey walls of her husband's chateau and her singing abandoned to her new station in life. She sighed wistfully as she remembered her days when nothing else had existed except the stage and the music.

The carriage finally came to its journey's end, a few feet from the main door. Staff was already lined up to greet the new mistress. She felt daunted at the sheer number of people it took to maintain the viscomte's residence. She smiled at all the expectant faces as her husband assisted her from the carriage. Madame Giry was standing at the top of the steps, a smile of welcome on her face.

Christine I love you….

She looked at her husband, her eyes widening. "Did you hear that?" she asked. She looked at Madame Giry, her earlier smile had faded as she turned and walked inside the great house.

Her husband looked at her strangely "No my love I heard nothing, come let's get you inside, you are fatigued by our long journey," he smiled, putting an arm around her and leading her up the stone steps and into the main hall.

"Yes, that must be it," she agreed as he led her to the parlour where a roaring fire greeted them both. She rubbed her hands drawing warmth from the fire, but as much as she tried it failed to permeate the coldness that had settled in her heart.

She lay awake in the huge expanse that was her bed, her husband asleep, one arm flung over his head. They had made tender love only an hour earlier, as much as she loved her husband, it always felt as if there was something lacking or he were holding back from her. Her spirit was wild and dark on the inside, something that she kept hidden from her tender husband, and she yearned to be loved in that way. Passion burned and consumed and ate at the soul. She had sung it in song and she longed to experience it in body.

Her desires had not been sated by Raoul's touch…she closed her eyes and her Angel's image flooded her mind. How could she have these feelings for one man while wed to another? She asked herself. After a quick glance at her husband to re-assure herself that he continued to sleep; she pulled back the covers and left the bed to walk over to the balcony and open the windows on the silvery moonlight. The park was large and shadowy and dark.

He watched from the shadows drawing back as she walked out into the night air, her form outlined in her sheer night garments, leaving nothing to his starved imagination. He heard her sigh, carried on the wind, the sound called out to him. She closed her eyes as his song, softly sung reached her ears. She smiled sadly, convinced that it was her mind playing tricks on her again. The sound ran through her veins like molten fire, and she touched her throat. Her hand of its own volition, slowly creeping lower, to touch a lace covered breast.

His voice almost faltered for a moment as he watched her touching herself so intimately, wishing it were his hands stroking her to completion. He continued to sing, continuing to observe her. Her little gasp was almost his undoing as his voice died in his throat. Her eyes snapped open as if awakened from a trance. She flushed guiltily and she looked around, as if sensing she was not alone. Quickly, walking back inside, Christine closed the doors and rejoined her husband in bed.

Erik turned and fled back to his home, the ruined summerhouse at the edges of the viscomte de Chagny's vast estate, his body thrumming with unsated desire for his soul mate, who even now called out to him in the darkness.