Disclaimer: No, I don't own the masterpiece that is the Phantom of the Opera. Not the novel, nor the musical, nor the movie.

General Notes: This is a fairly short, one-shot piece based on my own thoughts as to how Christine struggled with the horrors of her past. No, there is no romance involved, or at least, no specific pairing other than that of canon, Raoul/Christine. As much as I don't like the character of Raoul, there is no bashing of him in this story. Not that I would bash him in a story to begin with, because as we all know, that is vastly immature.

This was written to be somewhat vague, just to forewarn those who don't prefer the more obscure aspects of fiction. Please feel free to correct me and/or constructively critique me in order to help me improve as a writer. I gladly accept and give constructive criticism, but I do not condone or write flames as reviews. If you are going to comment on a story, please do be somewhat nice about it. Telling an author they suck is certainly not going to help them improve their writing.

The Ghost Upon the Stage

The onyx of the night surrounded her, attempting to persuade her to embrace the offerings of sleep. Despite its stern reprimands, Christine de Chagney's eyes refused to submit. Sleep was evasive this night, despite the fact that she had spent nearly the entire day walking. Being the wife of the Vicomte entailed a busy, if not fast paced, lifestyle.

They had been married for a year, and yet Christine could hardly recall a single detail from their ceremony. She had become swept up in the dizzying carousal of the glamour of the social life of the upper class, becoming so enthralled that even the most important of memories succumbed and became naught more than blurs that occasionally passed her by. So many names, so many faces. They all coveted a place in her mind, and yet she lacked available space for them.

Christine adored each minute of her new life as if they were all children from her very womb. But that night, some sinister demon from her history seemed determined to keep her from rest. And it wasn't as if this were the first time she was kept from closing her eyes. She had had other evenings of similar situations, other nights she had been abandoned by sleep.

She felt…helpless, beneath her silken sheets and bedspread. She felt as if she were drowning under the amount of wealth that structured her present life. She had never complained of any part of their bedroom, in fact, she thought better of them then of her previous living arrangements.

But that night, the softness of her sheets felt too soft, as if they were clouds and she was about to fall right through them. Her pillow couldn't satisfy the needs of her head, and so it was left to fend for itself on the floor. And the heat that gathered beneath her coverings seemed as intense as the embers of hell itself. "It's like I'm an angel in hell." She whispered softly, as if confessing some great sin to her priest.

Christine gasped, recognizing the hidden meaning behind her words. Angel in hell… the Angel of music…the Phantom…the chambers below the opera house…

She felt her breath shorten, as if she was at last being forsaken to the gallows by an executioner. She prayed that Raoul was not awake, for if he was, she would have much to explain. She turned to face her husband, finding him well entwined with the lover sleep. She sighed in relief, before turning to answer to her own thoughts.

It had seemed an eternity ago, as if it were all just a previous lifetime. But Christine knew better than to think of her childhood in the Opera Populaire as such. She grew very much like a flower, blossoming among the most talented and the kindest performers. She even had a mother, Madame Giry, to tend to her as a gardener would his flowers. Meg was like a sister, becoming her closest companion as they matured together.

But the pleasant experiences were not the only memories Christine left behind. Among the roses, disguised as such, were the thorns, the wounding encounters leaving her with scars she wasn't sure she'd ever be free of. "I left him on his own." She again told the hollow breeze as she took flight from her position on the bed. She went to the giant window, welcoming the bitter, chilled kisses of the night, favoring them over the asphyxiating affections of her place in bed.

"No." She firmly reassured herself. Erik was colored in enough guilt to condemn an army of angels; he certainly didn't deserve any sort of romanticizing on Christine's part. Murder stained his very being, further tainting his already distorted soul. And yet he had been so kind to allow Raoul his life and grant her freedom. Why? What compelled him to indulge in such kindness? And just what cruelties had driven him to his hell-bound level of madness?

Christine knew only one fact for certain. She didn't love him. Or at least, that's what she kept telling her own doubts and fears. How could she possibly love him, anyways? Aside from the tattered innocence that was his history and his garish face, she was in love with Raoul, and had been since early childhood.

Then what would she call the emotions she felt toward him as he gave her voice wings, allowing it to soar? Infatuation, perhaps, with the illusion he deceived her with. But she felt that it could never have amounted to anything more.

But it had been he who was another of her few companions at the opera house. He was the one who had comforted her as she mourned for her father's passing with his singing, his dark music of the night. And he had been her guardian angel long before Raoul had made a grand reentrance into her life.

Love was a powerful emotion. Like power, it could corrupt, and blossom into obsession. She shuddered at the word. Obsession was the name of his addiction, and there had been no sure signs, even after he had released them from his lair, that he had gotten over it.

It had been apparent to Christine in the end, however, that he simply coveted the normal ways of living. The lifestyles he had been denied as the result of being given to the imprisonment as a circus freak. What she was blinded towards still was the exact stance on their relationship.

"God help me." She prayed to the moon, taking comfort in its opalescent grace for the moment. But passing clouds soon cut her off from the maternal-like presence of the night's queen. She now felt like the ballerina she once had been, fragile, and able to fall off balance at the presence of the simplest of distractions.

Could she, with earnest, say that there had never been a connection in existence between the two of them? Of course, she had invested her trust in him, confident that he would remain a source of security in her lifetime. But she never knew him. Raoul had told her the disquieting words of the macabre tale that turned out to be his childhood, but that was all that she had. All of which the Phantom chose to indulge in about his personal life was his music, the harmony of a never ending night. Christine had chosen to return to the light of day to be with Raoul. But that knowledge still couldn't keep up a barricade against Christine's childlike curiosity. She wanted to know what had become of the "Opera Ghost" now that she had left the theatre.

An odd sort of languor covered her with its wide-spread wings, a mother bird protecting its young from the threats of nature. He had known only a life of solitude. Wherever he was sent to, no one would take the time to inspire emotions of love within him. They would see his face and look away in fright, or repel him with taunting words of hate. It was no wonder hostility and malice had been so fruitful in the garden of his heart; they were what made up the ground in which the seeds sprouted.

But that did not excuse the deeds already done. God only knew the true tragedy of Erik's bitterness. Christine shuddered. Though she could never hate him, though he had been her wondrous tutor for many years, she remained still to that day under a fever of fright from him. His temper proved to be like a wild beast. If provoked, there was little anyone could predict that could happen.

Closing and shutting her eyes, she tried to purge the image of the ghost upon the stage from her mind. But it lingered, an unwanted phantom. She could still recall his emergence as Don Juan, approaching to claim her. And she remembered the ice in her veins her blood chilled to at that very sight.

God, why couldn't she simply forget her past and let it die of loneliness? It seemed that if she spent too much time embroiled with the battles of the past, she would succumb to the pleasantries of her present and lose all she had sought to keep. She had only intended to cleanse her mind in order to regain sleep's good graces, and yet all she had done was become soiled in the crimson stains of an affair she had no desire to repeat. What did all of it mean? Why did she think of the Phantom and of love? What was the connection? Why was she questioning such things?

Christine felt that she was on the verge of collapsing into madness if her contemplations of the past didn't stop haunting her. She feared Raoul waking and finding her in such a state. She could only imagine how well that act would play out...

She turned back to the bed in which her future slept in a blissful, ignorant melody of which she was envious. She supposed there was nothing left to be but tried. Laying down, perhaps she might fall asleep whilst thinking of her days before marriage.

The moonlight decided that moment was opportune for returning. With a bold, eloquent saunter, she reentered the bedroom, highlighting it in a triumphant silver. Christine smiled at the sight, preparing to get back into bed. But it was as she was doing so that a spot of scarlet seduced her attention. She rose once again, timidly walking over to the strange vision. The window was open, as it had been since Raoul and Christine had taken to their bed, and the seat looked to be empty before. But now, coming closer, Christine could see a rose sprawled across the window seat, as if it were a mere, lazy lover relishing passions recently exchanged. Intrigued, she wondered as to the origins of it, and the means in which it had gotten to her bedroom window.

She picked it up, caution reminding her to question the motives of such a present. Could Raoul have been the one to have gotten it for her? Christine doubted so. The flower, she could have sworn, hadn't been there while she was preoccupied by her insomnia. Examining it, she twirled it between her fingers, delighted by the rich red of the flower petals. It was...hypnotic, watching as the red danced within her grasp.

"Ow!" She cried out softly at the sensation of thorn on flesh. She dropped the flower without second thought, cradling her injured finger. There was a bit of crimson against the white of her skin, but over all the damage was minimal. It was certainly nothing that time couldn't fix.

She closed her eyes in hopes of easing her pain, and instead only built upon her confusion. Behind her closed eyes, she saw the figure of the Phantom, upon the stage, as if waiting for someone. She quickly opened her eyes, not wanting to think any more of her past for that night.

She remembered the rose, and stooped to pick it up from its fallen position on the floor. Despite her determination, she immediately thought of Erik at the sight of the rose. He was beautiful behind his mask of music and creativity. But behind these petals lay his thorns of revenge, jealousy, and obsession. And she was the stem that connected the thorns to the petals in their unorthodox marriage. For it was she for whom he composed, and it was she for whom he killed for.

Christine sighed, thinking of what to do. She had no use for the rose within the household, much like her resurfacing memories. Bracing herself, she finally closed her eyes to again see the ghost upon the stage. This time, she did not open her eyes, but instead watched his performance with fascination. And when the ghost had finished, she tossed him her rose in appreciation. To her surprise, he caught it, and before she had the chance to make it back into her own bed, the rose of her past and the ghost upon the stage had entwined to become one.