"Raoul..." I started quietly, he turned to me, he wasn't smiling, he was simply relieved to be away from Erik. I reached over and took his hand in mine, relaxing in the cab. Where would we go? We would stay at the inn for a short time and than we would depart from France. I closed my eyes trying hard not to cry anymore. There was no need to cry. I had gotten what I wanted so desperately, but at what cost?

Perhaps Raoul felt my deep sobs as I tried not to turn my sorrow into something physical. He turned to me again and this time he didn't look away or glance behind us, he just watched me for a long time. I felt my chest begin to heave again and I forced my breath to remain calm but it burned to keep such emotion at bay for a long while. I felt my chin and bottom lip tremble as it always did when I put on a facade. My eyes were beginning to water no matter how many times I blinked or took slow, delibrate breaths. Plainly, every trick I had taught myself to keep my grief inside was failing in front of my fiancee. Finally I closed my eyes hoping that his imploring eyes would see that I was merely tired. I waited for the burning of unshed tears to subside, but slowly stray glistening drops began to etch a path down my white face.

Softly I felt his hand as he brushed two teardrops that had fallen from my face. I couldn't open my eyes, I knew that I couldn't, if I did I would no longer have any control over my weeping. "Christine?" I didn't awnser him and I didn't look, but as he wiped another tear, I forced my eyes to open to him. When I saw his face looking into mine, my lips and face trembled harder and my entire body began to shake with the intense desire to give in to my lamentations. " Why do you weep? Please do not cry any more, my dear," I painted a smile and tried my best to remember that to cry would be to betray myself. I thought I had control and I let out a shaky sigh. "You do not need to be afraid, we shall never have to see that monster again!"

At those words my composure fell apart at once and rather dramatically I buried my face into my hands. I wept harder than I thought I could, even as I tried to silence myself. Raoul placed an arm over my shoulder and pulled me to him, I was shaking so hard that he couldn't hold me steady. At once he began to understand, his hands stopped holding me as tight and allowed me to gain control of myself.

"Christine, please tell me I'm wrong. Tell me that I am only being insecure, tell me that you did the right thing by leaving him," I looked at him not sure what to say. I didn't dare trust my lips to form a reply. I couldn't escape from the caccoon that I wound myself up in, I knew that the best thing to do was just stick to the path that I had laid. I tried to smile at him and give him a look that said 'You are being silly,' but instead it was laced with guilt.

"Raoul, you couldn't understand, please my darling, no more doubts, I am yours now," I reached forth to try and stroke his fearful face, but he gripped my hands, forcing them in front of him.

"How incredibly selfish of you!" His face reminded me absurdly of a small school boy, he was always just a bit spoiled," To think that you can say that and all my hurt dissolves. I cannot have you if you dream of someone else's arms," My eyes opened wide and I felt a bit of his pain, but all the same I understood what he meant. Leaning forward now I tried again to comfort him.

" Don't you know I love you too?" Still he pushed my kind words aside and gave me the same look of a child who is not keen on the idea of sharing his favorite toy. " You and I..we...our love..." I could no longer think of any words. My body and voice had exhausted themselves, and now as I leaned back against the seat, I grew increasingly tired. I wondered several things. When would we stop at an inn? What was Raoul thinking? What would happen to us? Erik wouldn't hurt himself would he? What was he doing right than?

"Why? Why didn't you stay with him, if you cared so deeply for that creature? What was it that made you lead me on as you did?" He leaned toward me and put his hand over mine again.What could I say to him now? My voice came out softly and I felt horrible for telling him as I did.

" He is so like a corpse, Raoul!" My voice was becoming softer with each word. " I could not envision spending every night in his arms. What was I to do? Leave with you, a man who loves me and with whom I could spend a normal lifetime with? Or stay there in the dark understories of the opera house? Stay with a man that...that has an unhealthy obsession with me?" The eyes which he fixed me with were growing cold and sadder by the moment but still the words flew at him like a guilty child's confessions. "He scares me so badly, I fear him. How long would I last there before he grew angry with me? Would I be safe there? And yet more than anything the smell of death...oh god, Raoul! You know it, don't you? I could not wake up to that every morning and sleep with a dead man at night."

I felt for myself a deeper hatred than I had ever before known. Raoul's face was stressed and unbearably woeful. He finally spoke after what seemed like an eternity, "Christine," There was nothing else between us for a while. He just kept looking at me, and to tell you the truth I understood his anger. He had thought that I had been afraid of Poor Erik, he had thought I had disliked him. Raoul had never been ready to accept that I was in love with him.

"Raoul, I really am...," I wasn't sure what to say to him. I wasn't sorry for loving Erik, I was sorry that I had hurt both of them. What was it about me? I hurt everyone that I loved! Everyone! I was awful, maybe it was me that was the monster after all.

"Sorry? Is that it, Christine? Are you sorry?" For an unfathomable reason I laughed sarcastically at him. I wasn't sure but there was a part of me that kept hurting people, and maybe that part of me liked it. " Why didn't you just tell me that you wanted him!"

"I apologize," He took my hand, and than leaned forward murmuring to the cab's driver to stop for a moment. Dutifully he did as he was told, and Raoul leaned toward me. "Look, Christine, I don't want there to be any regrets between us, is that alright?" I nodded my head sure that he was going to throw me out or something, " After this stop there is no turning back. If we continue on together from here, it will be until the end." I gave his fingers a little squeeze and smiled through watery eyes. "So listen to me, you can get out and go back to him, or you can stay and go with me." He pressed his finger to my lips, "I am going on to the north anyway, I can't stay in Paris after all of this, but I hope that what you decide now will be something you can live with,"

What could I say to him? What could I decide? I should go with Raoul, but than poor Erik would die. I cursed myself inwardly, using words that no lady should. The spoiled child in him had lost against the manners that had been taught to him by his sisters and aunt. His sweet, patient side had come through, and here I was biting my lip unable to decide anything. Finally I placed a clumsy kiss to his lips and clambered ackwardly onto the roadside. My childhood sweetheart, the little boy who fetched my scarf from the sea, smiled though it was pained.

"If this is what you want..." I handed him the ribbon from my hair, letting it fall onto my shoulders. He held the satin thing in his hand inhaling the scent of my perfume, he was always such a romantic at heart.As he closed his hand around it, I turned to walk away. "Lotte!" I spun at that name, "Should I call you a cab?" I shook my head, but he insisted upon it.

I felt as if I were in slow motion and had to fight myself to keep from taking back my decision. When he had hailed one, he helped me into the carriage and looked at me and than to his waiting ride. He took my hand in his and kissed its pale flesh, "Madamoiselle I shall never forget you," It reminded me dearly of the sceen when we had said goodbye for the first time ever.

"Neither shall I forget you," I smiled, not sure where I was going. "Adieu, mon ami," He smiled at the words and spoke to the driver, " The opera house," he nodded and took his pay. "As afraid of this decision as I am, Raoul, I know that this is the right thing,"

He shook his head unable to think of the words to comfort me and than watched as we drove away. Slowly he disappeared into the background, and what was I to do? I cried again, I cried because I wasn't sure what to do anymore. Could I go back to the opera house and to Erik? What would he say? Would he accept me? I tried to convince myself yes, but it didn't work, I shook with anticipation all the way there.

We bumped along and there was no sounds from me. I let tears flow silently down my face, and watched as a light drizzle of rain began to fall. How perfectly fitting, I was going to throw myself at the mercy of someone I had deemed a monster. My heart beat faster as I thought of his voice singing to me. That was probably the thing that brought me back most, he made a deep desire for him surface with each note. When he sang I forgot all the unpleasantries and fell deep in love with him. Who was I fooling? Listening to him play, his voice, his expression, his beauty, the way he moved and arched his back as he played harder and harder...just the thought was practically orgasmic.

All the times that he had comforted me were now playing in my head. All of the kind words, that later had become that romance I longed for, echoed in my mind. Erik had faith in me when no one else thought I would succeed. I was a mediocre dancer with a voice haunted by grief. No teacher would have taken such a great interest in me, but he saw talent when I myself knew there was none. He drew the sadness from me and brought my voice to angelic purity. I should never have reacted as I did. He had a right to collect payment for all he had done for me. All he asked was that I love him, stay by him, be his living bride. How could I refuse?

The opera house was just ahead, my stomach knotted nervously. Just a few moments and we would arrive and I would throw myself into Erik's arms, trying in vain to ignore everything that repulsed me about him. He might be angry and force me to leave, refusing to forgive me. He might open his arms and cry into my dress. I could no longer make assumptions of the way that he would react to my hastened return.

I jerked forward as we stopped and I could now see the opera house. I forced my shaking dancer's legs to hold my weight. I thanked the cab driver and hurried toward the entrance. The slight rain had become harder and increasingly harder. I knew what a mess I was.

"Daae!" a voice called out sharply. I turned to see Little Meg Giry hurrying toward me. I smiled at her wondering what she was doing out. "Christine...we were worried about you! Jammes was sure that the ghost had gotten you!" She was shaking like a leaf, absently I took her hand to comfort her. She continued on though fearfully looking about as if someone might at any moment jump at her, "We thought he was going to take you away and kill you, same as Joseph Bouquet." I nodded strangely trying to think of a way to assure her that I was well.

" If you remember the ghost did not take Joseph Bouquet away, he was found hanging between a farm set and a sceen from Roi De Lahore. Besides," I added truthfully, "There is no opera ghost. Be sensible, Meg." My fingers were losing their lace with her own, and she was staring with a wide-eyed expression of nearly comical horror.

"How can you say that he isn't real! He has been taking you away to do unspeakable things with him! Mind you I wasn't aware ghosts lusted for human flesh as men do," At this my face was white and I gave in to a cold chill as I thought of all the opportunities Erik had had to do as he pleased with me. Still he had never dared touch me in such a way. No doubt the tale of my mysterious phantom lover had orginated from one of the ballet

rats. I had to laugh at her even in my state of anxiety I was amused.

"You know very well that I do not go away with the opera ghost to do any such thing, now get inside before you catch cold or something that will be the death of you," I gave the slight girl a small shove toward the entrance and soon followed her. Meg had not asked me about my unkept appearance, nor why I had been out there, almost as if she were frightened by what she might hear.

I wanted to run straight through the gates that closed the Rue Scribe, but I forced myself to walk slowly inside toward her dressing room. My legs were turning more and more to water as I closed the door behind me. I passed no one as I walked delibrately and shut the door of the dressing room behind me. Was Erik watching me? I couldn't tell but I knew that i would have to be quick and take the Communist's Road. It would be much simpler since I knew that passage best.

I thought it best to alert Erik of my presence but there was no way other than screaming his name at the top of my voice, and that was something I could never do. The descent of five floors took a long while, and still I feared more with each step,that the boat would not be there at all. Than what would i do, swim across the underground lake?

When I arrived it was there like a gift from god, somehow though I doubted that I would ever get myself across the lake. In my current condition and without sleep, I would not get far at all before fainting, falling in, and drowning. I allowed myself to sit down and lean against the wall. I don't think I slept much at all at first, but somehow or another I did get off to sleep. When I awoke I hastened to his home, that lovely, genius home underground. I wasn't sure what Erik would say when I knocked upon his door.

Strangely he never awnsered when I knocked at the door. I was frightened that if I tried the bell, the thing he referred to as the siren would be triggered and I would be killed before I could see Erik again. I tried twice more before I determined that he mustn't be home at all. Taking it upon myself, I opened the door and walked inside. I was already terrified, but his absence only furthered it. Had he gone somewhere to die? Had he abandoned his home? Would I come in and sit and never see him again? What was I to do than? I was resolved to wait until he returned, and if he didn't return where else could I go?

I walked toward the Louise-Phillip room and opened the wardrobe, removing a dress that Erik had bought for me. I replaced my wet clothing with the dry ones and than I sat back on the chair recalling the past events. I felt odd having left with Raoul and than returning hours later in such a state.

"Christine," An unsure voice began above me, "Why are you not with your handsome viscount?" His hands were not even touching me, but his voice was enough to stir those feelings of longing in my body. I watched him for a moment, his concerned eyes, he was so different from the madman he had seemed only hours ago.

"Erik," I mouthed as if saying any louder would drive him away, he leaned in seemingly afraid. He was only inches from me, he smelled of death, but I found it was not as intolerable as I had thought in the beginning, or perhaps I was just use to it by than. His hands were cold as they covered my fingers. He grasped them as if I would at any moment be taken from him. Neither of us said anything for sometime. I was so frightened that I would do something to stir the anger I had seen in him before.

I opened my mouth but poor Erik drew away, his shoulders slumped as if he could no longer stand to look at me. I opened my mouth but he interrupted me, "I did not mean to wake you, I was suprised to see you have returned," He paused and looked back toward me suddenly, "one only wonders for what purpose?"

"I do..I am not really sure," that look, it was the same one he had given me when I had woken in his arms from my faint, the first time we had met in the flesh. In the flesh? A tight feeling rushed through me again, the same feeling I got from watching him play his music. Something about the way he was looking at me made me shiver with want, no need perhaps.

I would be a most unhonest if I were to say I had never thought of my tutor and beloved angel of music in a way that most would consider indecent. Truthfully I had often thought of him. After hearing some of the stories from the girls in the corps I had been a bit excited to try it myself with someone. It had initially been the voice that had made me dream about him. I found my breath growing quicker with each new lesson, I felt my heart race knowing he was near, it was silly really because I had thought him an angel. Still as the girl I was, I couldn't help but dream. Erik being as close as he was reminded me of the first time I had dreamt something as breathtaking as making love with him.

"A few weeks ago, remember when I first asked you to come to me in the flesh?" He seemed astonished that I would bring up a topic like this. He nodded grimly looking as if he expected me to strike him across the face. "I asked because I wanted to see what you looked like, for I had the strangest dream the night before," I didn't continue right after that, instead I simply watched his face become twisted and than curious.

"A dream?" His eyes seemed as if they knew exactly what I had dreamed, the way I had seen him slipping my clothing away and stroking every inch of me. Gently trailing kisses along my body, laying his weight only so much on me until it drove me mad and I was whispering his name, begging him to have me. What could I say to this man? Why did I feel that telling him this would make things clearer for him, when in reality they only confused me more.

"I am not sure it would be proper to er..describe it to you. It was that kind of a dream, anyway when I awoke all I wanted in the world was you by my side, and just now, when I was with Raoul, I felt a different but equally wild longing for you," I was silent watching as he wet his dry lips, he seemed entranced by the intimacy of what I was revealing to him, and he nodded vaguely to keep speaking, "No matter what, I don't believe that any other person shall make me feel that way, and to be honest I am afraid to lose that," I paused noting how he was staring into my eyes as if he might melt into me at any moment, the thought was intriguing. " I apologize if I have wasted your time, Erik. Forgive the babblings of an ignorant chorus girl," I stood knowing full well that in a few steps he would ask me to wait. I was counting on it in fact.

Instead he let me make it to the door before finally I turned to try once more. I couldn't just leave like that. His eyes were distant and sad, he didn't acknowledge the fact that I was there, he didn't even watch as I turned to leave. "Erik, I understand that you cannot forgive me for what I have done in the past, but please say something, I cannot leave with you in such silence," this stirred something for he looked at me.

His face was one of revulsion and violent loathing that I thought must have been for me, "Tell me you hate me if you would, tell me you wish that I would leave you and I will."

Than I realized his feelings of loathing and revulsion were for himself. Tears began to fall from those black pits. I hated it when he cried, it evoked such a pitiful sensation in me, I felt as if I had scolded a naughty child only to realize that I had wrongly done so. "Hate you? You would be suprised at how close love and hate are in my heart, Christine. Yes I hate you! But I love you even more, you have always known I loved you and you walked away as if I were nothing!" He wasn't on his knees this time but he was coming toward me. When he reached me his hands flew to my shoulders. He clutched them so tightly they began to race with pain from his fingers.

A moan escaped my lips and this seemed to anger him more, for a moment it even seemed he was ready to strike me. If he had I would have felt better about what I had done to him, I would have gotten a little of the penance I deserved. He didn't however but his hands tightened around my shoulders more shaking me. "I risked everything for you! My solitude, my life, my happiness, my very sanity! I gave you my heart, I reached out to you so that you might have a little comfort from your grief, and how did you repay me? You confessed your love to another!" His words broke my heart.

I gave another quiet cry of pain as he continued his assault with words. "You confess you dreamed of me making love to you and you think that this will make everything alright?" His hands traveled to my neck and it hurt there as well, "This is what you came back for, you came to take what Erik had not yet given you? Fine if this is what you want!" His hands made to tear at my dress. The buttons snapped each falling to the floor along with the garment after a moment. I was shaking unable to imagine what would come next. Surely there was no romance in this!

He moved his fingers along my corset, hurriedly tearing it from my body. I shook with each new movement. There we were in the front room with him tearing at my clothing like an animal. I could see that he was still crying from allowing his anger to take control. As my breasts became bare at last, he froze up. My body was hot no one had ever seen me like this before, no man at least. As his eyes blazed into me I could feel their curious gaze. He had never been allowed to touch a woman so. Finally he was no longer crying, all of the rage that had been there was now gone.

My face was crimson from embarassement. I wanted to reach up and cover myself, but this was not the time for modesty. I was only glad that he was no longer angry. His hands slowly reached out, and he looked up into my eyes for reassurance. What was I to do? I just watched asking myself what would come next. I could not smile at him, but I did not desire to cry, I only watched allowing him freedom to do as he pleased with me.

I made a slight gasp as his fingers grazed across the naked flesh of my breast. He was as inexperienced as me. I knew that this would most likely be ackward and fast.I closed my eyes allowing myself to enjoy how soft and delicate his touch had become. His fingertips continued to caress there until finally he forced himself to move lower over my stomach. He took his time there as well, his face one of complete concentration, as if he were in the middle of a very complicated task. Erik stroked and touched never once becoming strange or too rough with me.

I found myself swept into his arms as he took me toward the Louis-Phillip room. I wasn't entirely sure that I knew what was going to happen, what the consequences of this were going to be, but I was going to let it happen. I knew that what everyone else had said about me was true. I really was weak-willed and unable to live without someone to lead me. Erik was that someone, Raoul would make me into a house wife but my mind would always roam, I would go mad. Erik offered something else, something darker, something with more mystery. As he lay down beside me, disgarding his clothing which kept us seperated, I watched in strange excitement. I wanted this as much as I feared it. I had never joined with someone like this and I was terrified to know what it would be like. I had heard that it would hurt, but if that was so why did people continue to do it? Maybe to quell that raging fire that they could feel in the places they longed to be touched.

Erik lay beside me, his face a mask of anger, joy, and many other complex emotions that to normal men, do not yet have a name. He was right, love and hate went hand and hand for us. Fear and intrigue. Horror and seduction. Would he be gentle and careful or in his fury be rough with me, secretly I didn't care although I was trembling. The sight of my small bones shaking made a look of despair cross his features, "Do I frighten you, Christine?" I couldn't awnser, I didn't awnser, the words stuck in my throat. Did I really fear him? Sometimes.

"Don't worry, my love." His cold hands traced my jaw line and up to my cheek, "I am only taking what has always been mine, and after this moment, you will understand that you can never leave me again, this time you must stay forever!" My eyes must have betrayed my doubts. Our love was one of the most exquisite kinds, fear and loathing all becoming a passion that neither of us really had control over.

"You want this as much as I do, don't you?" My eyes brimmed with tears at the truth of it, I did want it. Maybe not the way things were going but I wanted it all the same. I had always imagined our first time being special, and for some reason in my mind there had been no thoughts of another taking my innocence. I started to cry again as I usually did, his eyes told me that he had mistaken the cause of my tears, " Do not pretend you do not! Well no matter, you will want it.."

He pressed his mouth to mine for the first real time, forcefully crushing my lips into his own. He met no resistance and this appeared to please him beyond anything else. His tongue dove into my lips, urging mine to participate in the dance, my body was no longer my own. With him touching me, tasting my mouth I could not refuse him any pleasure and quickly I began to meet his tongue with my own. I made a sound which could neither be classified as a whimper or a moan in my throat as he moved lower to my neck. His mouth pulling at the skin gently, the pleasure there was nothing compared to what was to come, I knew that. My hands caressed his hair..such hair as he had. His fingers dug into the flesh of my sides, just below the ribs causing a sharp pain with each new moment.

His lips continued to move downward leaving the flesh he had already made tender to the throbbing skin of my breasts. Erik froze there for a moment, studying the best way to go about touching them and causing my pleasure. Slowly he brought one finger there to trace the skin in a circular motion, I shivered letting out a breathy sigh. Just the sound of my voice caused him to lose his concentration and he pressed a bit harder than before against me.

I could feel exactly what I did to him now, his entire body lay on me as I reached to force his lips to mine but he would have none of it. He gripped my fingers and forced them away from his face. He gave me one last look which held an odd, adoring gaze, and lowered his lips to my flesh. His tongue continued to tease me and drive me into the depths of desire so unlike what I had expected. Finally I pulled him to me presssing our lips together again.

"Erik.." I moaned against his cheek as he moved his hands through my damp hair. Understanding what I needed he looked uncertainly at me again. I arched my body against his trying to give him a bit more confidence. He uttered a low moan as he gave in to his body's instincts. As he pushed into me I cried out loudly, the pain shocked me at first. For a moment he was perfectly still inside of me, not daring to move. I sighed in pleasure as we began to move together, it was hard to match his intensity, but somehow I managed. Finally after a few more strange sounds on my part mostly, he drove me over my peak and I fell limply to the bed, relaxing as he lay beside me. My heart was still pounding and I could not control the tremors that wracked my entire body, I wasn't sure how I felt.

Did I feel good? Did I feel dirty? I hadn't planned on this happening so wordlessly. His hands toyed with my hair, twisting strands around his fingers. He placed a kiss to my forehead and I lay against his shoulder wanting to forget what had just happened but unable too. Was I suppose to regret it? Did I? How could I do something like that? My head lay against his shoulder as his hands continued to rub my back softly.