Forever and a Day
Christine awoke and looked out onto the grey winter morning from the window of the opera dorms. She shivered in the chill of the room, sighing as she remembered what the day was. Her dearly beloved father had been dead for nine long years now. The pain of his death had not lessened with the passing of time. She often thought it doubly cruel that he had been taken from her on this day of all days, the day of love and of valentines.
She pulled a shawl around her shoulders as she crept from her room, careful not to wake the others. She opened the door and paused at the top of the stairs to smile at Raoul. He had kept watch over her all night again, finally succumbing to sleep in the early hours. She was grateful for his concern, but knew she had nothing to fear from her angel. She knew he would never cause her harm.
Christine walked out into the courtyard and located a sleepy cabby. Giving him a few coins and her direction, she quickly returned to her room to dress in her black mourning clothes that she wished to wear to mark the sad occasion. She took the bouquet of red roses that Raoul had gifted to her the other day and slipped away.
Erik had been watching her in the shadows, waiting for such a chance to see her alone. He had been about to approach her, when he had overheard her talk to the coachman. She had quickly left, and he had made his move, hitting the unsuspecting fellow across the back of the head with a cudgel and dragging his unconscious form into the stairwell.
He wrapped the cowl of his cloak around his head to obscure his features and only waiting, but a few minutes and Christine appeared, clutching a bunch of roses, a stark contrast to the black she wore.
"To my father's grave," she instructed him.
He nodded, seeing the sadness in her eyes before turning to spur the horses on.
Raoul awoke, sensing almost immediately that something was amiss. He scrambled up from his uncomfortable seat and flung open the door to Christine's bedchamber. He ran to the window just in time to see her leaving. He quickly ran down the stairs, almost falling in his haste to reach the bottom. It was here that he found the dazed coachman nursing his head.
After listening impatiently to his story, he took his horse, not bothering to saddle it. He jumped onto it bareback and set off across the fields, hoping to cut them off at the crossroads.
Christine sat back on the carriage cushions, watching the landscape as it passed her by. Her breath misted in the cold air as she took deep breaths in an attempt to quell her threatening tears. A sob escaped her throat as she looked down at the roses she held in her hand, she flushed with embarrassment as she glanced at the unknown coachman perched up high. She hoped he had not heard her.
Erik sat on the perch seat of the open carriage, the road stretched out before them. He was aware of every movement and sigh that she made. He heard her little cry of distress, he knew better than all those fools at the opera house, how important this day was to her. Mme Giry had told him of her loss; it had been one of the reasons that he had felt a kinship with the little lost orphan that she was on her arrival at the opera house.
He had been the one to sing her to sleep late at night when he could hear her sobbing in her bed. He had been the one voice in her darkness that had brought her light. Now that foolish youth in the form of the Vicomte had turned her against him, poisoning her mind with warnings of dire consequences if she continued her association with him.
He would sooner harm himself than bring hurt to her. As the carriage made its way through the muddied roads, so many times, he almost paused to stop the horses and throw himself at her mercy, but the fear of rejection stayed him.
They neared the cemetery, a cold and desolate place even for the dead that rested there. He watched her for a moment before taking the horses round to the other side of the cemetery and leaving them there. He weaved his way through the graveyard, keeping his distance on the solitary figure as she made a path to her father's grave.
She looked so sad and alone…
Erik wanted to reach out and touch her in her grief to tell her that he would always be there for her no matter what. He would never leave her. He would be there by her side, forever and a day if she would but let him. His heart ached as he watched her near the Daae vault. He crept around to the back of the stone monument and hid. She advanced to the steps and sat at the base of them, her face upturned and such abject agony etched on her features.
He could bear it no longer…he had to call out to her. She looked up at the sound of his voice. She knew it was her angel. She walked towards the sound; there was no fear in her heart, only joy.
He moved out from behind the tomb of her father and stood at the top of the steps, holding out his hand to her. She dropped the roses in the freshly fallen snow and went to him taking his leather-encased hand in hers.
He wrapped his cloak around her, shielding her from the cold air. She leant against his warmth, feeling a completeness she had never thought to feel again as she sighed against his chest.
"I missed you, but Raoul he would not let me out of his sight," she sighed.
Erik placed a hand under her chin and forced her to look at him.
"Christine, I love you,"
"I do not think that you do. I love you as man loves a woman. The kind of love that someone feels when they want to spend their whole life with that person. I want you to be my wife,"
Christine looked away for a moment as she digested his words. Raoul's face flashed in her mind, as she knew what she finally wanted. As she turned back to him, she could read the fear and vulnerability in his eyes.
She leaned up on tiptoe to press her lips against his.
"I love you too. My days have been so lonely without you. I have not felt such desolation since the death of my beloved father. He told me that an angel would watch over me. You are my angel,"
The phantom wrapped his arms around her and held her close for a moment before releasing her. He reached inside his waistcoat and removed a beautiful diamond ring. Christine held out her hand eagerly and Erik slipped it onto her finger, kissing her hand before releasing it.
"Come away with me now. We can leave here and make a new life together. I know a priest that can marry us,"
Erik stiffened in her arms, misunderstanding her.
"I mean he would follow us, he would never believe I had left of my own free will,"
"Then we will make him believe," said Erik as he took her hand to lead her to the carriage.
They were both stopped in their tracks by the sound of a horse approaching. Christine and Erik turned around to see the figure of the Vicomte charging towards them.
"Christine!" he called out as he reigned in the horse and slid off its back.
"Raoul, stay where you are!" Christine cried out.
"Come to me Christine, I won't let him harm you," said Raoul, unsheathing his sword.
"No?" asked Raoul, shocked at her reply.
"I am where I want to be. I love him,"
Raoul looked at the Phantom, seeing the smirk on his face. "I don't know what tricks you have used on her…"
"If you call love a trick, then that is all he did, was to make me fall in love with him. I do love him Raoul. I am sorry, but I was confused, I care about you, but I do not love you like I love him,"
"You do not know what you are saying,"
Christine held out her hand to show him the ring she wore. "I do, the phantom has asked me to marry him and I have consented,"
She walked over to Raoul and kissed his cheek. "Goodbye, please do not follow me for I go of my own free will,"
Raoul felt the rage grow in him as he lunged at the phantom. Erik sidestepped him easily as Raoul hit a gravestone and crumpled face down in the snow. Erik held out a hand to help the man up, feeling the stirrings of pity for him, but Raoul turned knocked his hand away as droplets of blood from his nose stained the purity of the snow.
"You have made your choice, but do not come back to me begging forgiveness when he mistreats you. He has no heart Christine, he cannot love, and he is a monster,"
Christine looked at her erstwhile lover coldly. "You are wrong, and I was mistaken in you. Goodbye Raoul,"
Erik looked at the other man haughtily. "If you ever get it into that empty head of yours to follow us, you will breathe your last," he warned him.
Erik took Christine's hand in his and led her from the graveyard. He helped her into the carriage and took up the reigns taking them away from the Vicomte out of Paris and on to their new life, together.