A/N: This story is for all those who believe Christine made the wrong choice. Based on the characters in the 2004 movie Phantom of the Opera, to which I have no connection.
Side Note: I'm not a big fan of Raoul. Please keep this in mind as you read.
A collector's piece indeed...
Every detail exactly as she said.
She often spoke of you, my friend...
Your velvet lining and your figurine of lead.
Will you still play
When all the rest of us are dead?
He watched as the small animal pressed its hands together, a hushed, silvery jingle emitting from the golden cymbals it held tightly. Tears of bitter regret sprang up in his eyes, and he turned his face away. If only he hadn't been so irrational, so quick to condemn...
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw it. Lying upon the cold gray stone, lightly coated with a fresh flurry of snow, was the answer to his question. Of course. His lips parted in shock, a cloud of frozen air floating out from his gaping mouth into the wintry breeze. Of course...
"Christine, I love you..."
He watched her drift across the waters, her trailing glimpse back at him filled with sorrow...and just a hint of remorse. Raoul glanced at her and, following her gaze, watched their connection splinter and break. She turned her head away and looked down into the murky waters, her own salty tears dripping into the blackness. With one last fleeting look at the desolate man behind them, Raoul placed his hand across the small of Christine's back and squeezed her to him, knowing all too well the Phantom was watching.
"You alone can make my song take flight..."
The growing shrieks of the mob escalated, the shadows in the tunnels growing dimmer in the light of their torches. The Phantom turned slowly, staring at the cold stone walls of his lair. Picking up a metal candlestick that lay abandoned on the floor, he turned to face the blank, impassive mirrors that reflected his deformed face. Sobbing despair looked back at him as he stared at himself, his face cracked with emotion. "It's over now, the music of the night!"
He swung his arm back and brought the candlestick down upon the glass, shattering it with all the might he possessed. Turning, he ran to the others, smashing them to pieces in the height of his anguish. He heard the heavy footsteps of the horde of livid men as it descended into his sanctuary. Hesitating, but only for a moment, he stepped into the empty frame of the mirror and disappeared. Clutched tightly in his gloved fist was a small diamond ring.
-Six Years Later…
"I'm sorry, Monsieur Vicomte, but your child..."
He didn't remember the exact wording the doctor used, but Raoul remembered the gist of his explanation: Dead. Christine had birthed a stillborn. He covered his face with his hands, his long tawny hair spilling over his fingers. Taking a few short, sporadic breaths, he slowly turned his eyes upon the doctor. "May I see her?"
"I'm not sure that is a good idea, Monsieur. Your wife is..."
Raoul did not wait. He crossed the corridor in two long strides and opened the door. The bed sat on the far end of the room next to a large glass window. The lights had been turned out, upon Christine's orders, and the only glow came from the full moon that cast shadows across her face. She did not move, nor did she acknowledge his entrance. Though she was only twenty-four, in that moment she seemed ancient, with her eyes dimming to a dull gleam and her hair spilling across the hospital pillow in waves of auburn. The only signs she showed of life were the small, fluid movements of her lips. She was singing, but her voice came out in barely a whisper. Though he could not hear it, Raoul knew the song that escaped her lips. He had countless times in these past six years, whenever he awoke in the middle of the night to find Christine still awake. Softly in the darkness, she would murmur the song, so quietly that he could barely hear it...
"Angel of Music...
Guide and guardian...
Grant me to your glory..."
Still, as his shadow fell upon her, she did not stir. Her voice grew silent, and she only mouthed the words.
"Who was that shape in the shadows...?
Whose is the face in the mask...?"
"Christine...?" She turned her luminous eyes on him, tears softly flowing down her cheeks. Extending her hand out to him, she grasped his wrist tightly. Her fingers were cold to the touch, as if coated in ice.
"I'm sorry, Raoul..."
There was a hesitant pause. "I don't blame you, Christine."
But deep within the caverns of his mind, he did.
The Vicomte de Chagny walked down the street, his gaze cast downward at the cold stone road. A breeze whisked past his face, sending his hair into a whirlwind of amber behind him. A whisper tickled his ear, and he looked up.
The Opera Populaire stood before him, the ornate golden statues staring down at him accusingly, the walls black and charred. It seemed as if only yesterday he had stood at the base of those marble stairs for the first time...
He was motionless there for a moment, looking up at the deserted building in scorn, then continued on.
"Monsieur?" There was a light tap on his shoulder. "Vicomte?" Raoul turned curiously, coming face to face with a small blonde, her eyes shining brightly. "Monsieur, you are the Vicomte de Chagny, are you not?" She smiled shyly. "You may not remember me; my name is..."
"Meg Giry. Yes, of course I remember you..." Raoul put on a mask of delight, hugging her firmly, before releasing her. "Visiting the old Opera House, are you? Do you no longer fear the Opera Ghost?"
She giggled, her face mirroring that of a small child. "Not anymore, I suppose. I am not visiting the Opera House, monsieur; I am just visiting in general. Things have not changed much."
He paused, looking around and realizing she was right. "I guess they haven't. How have you been?" he asked.
Meg grinned happily, her rosy cheeks deepening to a dark scarlet. "Much better now, merci. And you? How is my dear Christine? I have not seen either of you since the wedding..."
For a moment, he didn't answer. Images of Christine ran through his mind: Christine singing her song of her Angel of Music; Christine tracing her fingers across right hand side of her face, her eyes glassy and unfocused; Christine dancing seductively with her Phantom during his Don Juan routine; Christine leaning up towards her Phantom, her lips meeting his, full and passionate. Looking back on it, he could not remember what caused him to say what he did. "I am well, but...but Christine left me."
Meg's eyes grew wide and round, and her mouth dropped open in surprise. "Left you? But why?"
He inhaled deeply. "She was in love with someone else."
She clasped her hands around his neck and hugged him tightly. "Oh, you poor, poor man..." she murmured.
"Thank you for your concern, Mademoiselle." Giving her a small smile, he took her arm. "Let's not dwell in the past, shall we? What do you say to a drink?"
"I'd love one."
"Here in this room, I call you softly,
Somewhere inside, hiding...
Somehow you know, I'm always with you.
I- the unseen genius..."
Christine awoke with a start. That voice...she shuddered, but not with fear. Throwing back the white linen blanket, she sat up in her bed and looked around in the darkness. Shadows danced across her face, and she looked out the window. The moon seemed to almost smile at her, as though it were a pale, colorless mask...
Standing next to the glass, she looked out across the town. Couples walked through the streets, hand in hand. It seemed ages ago she had been one of them...those feelings were long gone.
She could see her own home from the window, gigantic and dark. The house of the Vicomte and his lovely Vicomtess was only a few blocks away; she could see the fine garden pathway and her collection of beautifully exotic flowers in the greenhouse. Snow drifted lazily onto the roof, and the city slept. Footsteps echoed through the hallway outside her room. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw nurses rush past her door. Disappointed, she turned back to the window.
There was a light in her house now, but only one. 'The Vicomte has returned home for a good night's sleep,' she thought bitterly. She glimpsed his form in the bedroom window, silhouetted in the flickering light of a candle. Sighing to herself, she was about to turn away from the window when something caught her eye. There was movement from inside her house. Someone was with the Vicomte, and they were moving closer to the him, to her Raoul. Closer...closer...
Christine watched in silence as, in her own bedroom, Meg Giry and her husband embraced.
"What do you mean, she's not here?" Raoul demanded.
"I mean exactly what I said. She was discharged, and she decided not to wait for her husband. We saw her out the door; your wife took a carriage and went home, I'm assuming," the doctor explained patiently.
"But I was at home. She can't be there!"
"Perhaps you missed her, monsieur…" A petite, red-haired nurse ran up to the doctor, holding a small envelope. After whispering in his ear for a moment or two, the nurse handed the package to him, gave the Vicomte a small curtsey, and hurried off. The doctor studied it for a moment, then handed it to Raoul. "Yvette said she found it on your wife's night side table. It's addressed to you."
Raoul snatched it away and, after retrieving a small silver letter-opener from the pocket of his coat, slit open the envelope. There was no note inside…only a small golden ring. Christine's wedding band.