A/N: Thank you so much for the wonderful reviews I recieved! I was pleased at the feedback I got; although I would like it if I got more of it lol. Katherine Silverhair, thanks for the constructive critism. You alerted me to a problem I didn't catch. Thanks sooo sooo sooo much, really no sarcasm there I really am appreciative. Amariel Rowan, Lady Willow, K'Tscharae you're reviews stunned me. Are you sure it was MY work you were reviewing? No really, thank you all so much! This is the first time I have had a chance to thank everyone, so all of you that reviewed any of my chapters thanks, I appreciate it, it means a lot to me.
Mamma Valerius's flat reminded me of the Persian's in size itself. However their style in decoure varied sharply. Where as the Persian radiated simple charm, she mixed luxury in wherever possible. The house made me feel completely at home and I relaxed the moment I hurriedly rang the bell. I pulled my cloak around my shoulders so that no one would recognize me aside from Suzette, the maid of the house. When the door swung open, she was sniffling slightly, and her eyes were red-rimmed. Her usually neat hair was falling from its bun. "I am sorry, but you must come back another time...Madame Valerius is grieving the loss of someone close to her.."
"Oh my goodness! Who has passed on?" I asked my hand flying to my chest as I tried to recall if she had any relatives or anyone who came to visit often.
"Mademoiselle?" she asked and widened her eyes as I looked up at her so she could see my face. We did not say anything for a while. Her face had grown pale and her eyes were teary again. She pressed her skirts nervously and than stuttered, "But..Faure..Monsieur Faure said you were surely the victim of the rivalry between the brothers de Chagny!" She reached out to touch my shoulder as she were afraid I were an imposter. As soon as her hand came into contact with me she threw herself toward me as if to envelope me, but stopped herself and stepped away. "My apologies, please come in."
When she closed the door behind me I pulled her to me in a quick embrace, "I am glad to see you as well, Suzette." She blushed furiously and thanked me for my kindness before taking my cloak and asking me to wait a moment. I could hear her telling Mamma that Christine Daae was there to see her. There were several moments of hurried explaining and then she came out of the room.
"Please." She allowed me in the door. My heart thudded nervously and I wondered if I would have the courage to tell her about Erik and I. The door shut behind me and I took a few steps toward the bed.
"Christine? Where have you been? A man investigating your case, Monsieur Faure, said that if you were not dead you were carried off somewhere by Raoul." She insisted sitting up in bed, she was feeling worse than usual I could tell. I only hoped that I had not caused it, though it was certain I had.
"I am sorry, I will explain everything, and I only hope you will forgive me." I stood several feet from the bed, unable to force myself closer. She squinted her eyes to see my face better. She begged me to come to her bedside, and I could no longer find an excuse to stay away so I closed the space between us longing to linger at the door. How could I say goodbye to the woman who had taken care of me? How could I explain that I had not told her everything about the Angel of Music? I sat beside her and she wrapped me in her frail arms instantly. She always smelled nice, motherly perhaps. I found I was near tears thinking that I would never see her again. When she released me her hands stayed at my shoulders.
Her face grew puzzled and she pinched my cheek lightly, "Christine, you look as if you have seen death himself. Your face is white,and you have circles under your eyes. Are you well?" I put my hands on hers and drew them away from me until they were cradled in my lap. I had not known that I looked ill when I left. It must have been stress and not seeing the sun that did it to me.
"I am well enough, Mamma. I have just been under a bit of stress lately. To be honest I want nothing more than to confess to someone what has been happening to me. Not only do I need to tell you, but I believe I am in need of absolution." She paid close attention to my words choosing to give me a smile and stroke my hair gingerly.
"I am sure that nothing you have done can be as bad as you think." Her voice was calm but it brought tears to my own eyes. Hadn't I done things bad enough to burn in hell? Two men had almost lost their lives because of me! I was bedding with a murderer and criminal as if I were a prostitute, thinking and doing things that no decent woman would. I closed my eyes and did not speak for sometime, attempting to gather my wits about me. When I opened my eyes she was waiting patiently for me to explain what I had done that was worthy of condemnation.
"Well I suppose the tale is a long one, but I will tell it as I am to leave soon." She opened her mouth to question me but I cut her words off, "It starts with the Angel of Music, but I suppose it ends with him as well." I then related my rather long tale of finding that Erik was a man. I told her how he had kidnapped me for love and the way he had weeped at my feet and cherished me near to the point of worship. I explained about Raoul and the jealousy between the two. I told her of my feelings and how I was a terrified child who knew that to admit to loving Erik was as good as selling my soul to Satan. I told her of Raoul dropping into his underground home, but wisely admitted the torture chamber and the threats that had been made. I told her of how I was given a choice of Raoul or Erik. I could not lose my angel and I let him kiss my forehead and I wept for all the torment he had been made to endure; I wept of love and pity. Than suddenly he told me to go and I had, I left with Raoul. I explained with tears how I had returned to the opera house unable to leave him behind in such a state. I had agreed to marry him and that we were going away together due to the death of Phillipe de Chagny, who had drowned trying to stop Raoul from coming after me. I spoke of how no one would ever believe the real story and that Erik and I must leave Paris just as Raoul had. When I finished she took my hand in her own and gave it a light squeeze.
"It does not sound like such a terrible story, my dear. The death was no fault of yours, and the only crime you have committed is loving a man." I was reassured by her words, but I knew that I had left out the parts that made Erik a monster and ..well I was a sinner. "What sins have you committed my dear? What is it that you think you have done?"
I looked at my feet unable to tell her. She took my blush for an awnser and nodded. "I see. You need a confession but it is not as if you have murdered a man."
"Does God see a difference in which sins you commit and which you do not! I have sinned!" I buried my head but she reminded me that there was a difference and she was sure the Heavenly Father knew that. I could no longer stand her kind words. I would have felt better if she had told me that I was damned and no priest could change that, afterall I had forced myself to think that for so long.
"I am ashamed, Christine." Mamma's words echoed around me, and I looked at her trying to determine if which wrong of mine made her so. "You did not bring your Erik to meet me. I do not even get to see your fiancee, and you are going away with him in a manner of days. I do not even get to meet the man who brings that look to your eyes." She sighed and the words brought a smile to my face, even through the now drying tear stains.
"You must forgive him for not visiting with me, he has much to do this day." That was a grand excuse..the truth but not the reason that I wished for him to keep away from the flat. Afterall, his mask was frightening to most, and if she asked him to take it off thinking him not an honest man, surely she would shrink away from him. I could not stand to see that reaction although I myself, still fought with girlish disgust when thinking about it. Than there was the matter of his ferocious temper, which could prove most unpredictable. I simply could not introduce him to her..to anyone. His personality around his supposed only friend was stressed and sarcastic, which alone alerted me as to the social manners he seemed to lack.
"All the same I must insist that I meet him before you go gallavanting off to Sweden with a man you have known scarcely four months." My heart leapt in my throat and I felt as if it would fly out at any moment. I could honestly feel it there painfully bunched just inside my mouth. My lip trembled as I had yet to mention his ...deformed face.
"Mamma...he has...well he is..." I began to sputter forth excused, each of which she deflected with ease leaving me cornered and vulnerable. Finally I whispered, "He is not very goodlooking...in fact I do not believe that Satan himself could be more unsightly!" She gaped at my words which seemed to repeat again and again.
"Christine Daae, I hardly think that is the way you should talk about a man you are to marry. No one can be so ugly that there own lover would describe them with such ...have you forgotten your manners?" Her scolding caused my cheeks to become bright and I shifted uncomfrotably. I had spoken the truth but it was so cruel I could not believe my own words. Someone who had not seen Erik would of course have thought me heartless, even if I described his physical distortion to them, they would think me exaggerating. No words could possibly relay the horror he evoked in me, nor the desire that could only be rendered as morbid.
"I ...my apologies for speaking as I did. But you could not understand the detraction of my words...the...the disparagement my words truly were! I love him, but nothing could keep me from growing ill at the very sight of that ruined face!" Every words made me feel as if I were walling myself into my own tomb. I knew that Mamma had taught me not to speak of anyone so, her lips were tightly pursed and her face even paler than before. She was stunned that I could speak as I did of him.
"I would like to see him, Christine. I am not sure what sort of woman you think me, but I would never 'grow ill at the sight of his ruined face.' If I did I would certainly keep it to myself; as you should." she finally took my chin in her fingers and tilted my head until I was forced to look at her. She spoke very softly, "I want to meet him, I do not care what he looks like."
"He wears a mask, so if I bring him, be kind enough to allow him that security." She agreed and asked me several more questions about him. "He is older than I...a good deal older." I confessed. Young women often married older men, you must understand, and the information had little suprise to it. She simply nodded and we moved along to pleasanter details. We spoke for a long time, mostly talking about simple things such as the weather and this or that in the news.
I stayed several hours longer than I meant to. I could not pry myself from my wonderful benefactress no matter how hard I tried. She always had some comment that caused another conversational topic, and I would stay another hour, promising myself it would be the last. It was nearly dusk by the time I managed to stand and exclaim over the time passed. "I really must be getting home, the streets are not safe for a young woman at night. Erik will be most worried." She stared up at me and I could see that tears were shimmering on the surface of her eyes. I froze in my spot, was it really time to say goodbye. Although I had told her I would come back to allow her to meet my soon to be wed, I knew that he would not wish to, and I had no intention of returning. I had to admire her faith in me however, when I had been so quick to let down everyone who ever loved me. My father...I had not allowed myself to become a famous singer as I had promised him I would; Raoul..I had led him on until he nearly met his fate and than left him. Worst of all Erik, I had known he was watching me with Raoul all along, and I had called him ugly and several other rude things. I had then left him all alone knowing he would die without love. I had even let God himself down hadn't I? What happened to virginal purity? I had let my mind become tainted and evil.
"Yes, you are quite right. I will see you soon I hope, and bring him with you next time!" She smiled at me, but I could see that she was reading into my every movement. I would have been a fool not to realize that she knew me too well to think I was coming back. "Christine? Remember how much I love you, my dear." I burst into tears and felt inclined to curl up in a ball and stay where I was until she told me it would be all right. Instead she pulled me to her and held me in those bony arms for several moments while I sobbed and shook like a child. When I pulled myself away, I dabbed at my eyes with a handkerchief I found tucked away for just such an occasion.
At last I awnsered, "I love you too, Mamma! Thanks for everything, I shall write to you often as I am able!" This brought her to tears and she let me walk away trying not to make things harder than they already were. Upon opening the door that took me from the bedroom, I felt some resistance. Pushing hard I heard someone make a slight noise and quickly the pressure from the opposite side vanished. I stepped out and shut the door behind me, I laughed in amusement at the sight before me. Suzette was crouched slightly rubbing her hip, having been leaning against the door listening for so long. She looked up, her eyes becoming wide and her mouth becoming an "O" of suprise.
"Suzette, you are the last person in the world that I would expect to find..eavesdropping." I lowered my voice trying to keep our words discreet. She apologized again and again, giving useless explanations for her behavior. I held my hand up to silence her, "See that it does not happen again?"
"Yes, mademoiselle." She walked with me to the door and helped me return my cloak to my shoulders. "If you do not mind me saying so...no, it's not my place." She corrected herself, her blue eyes flashing and it appeared she was ready to strike her own face.
"What is it?" I read the look in her eyes, the glare I recieved when opening the door, "You do not think I will come back do you?" I found myself fixed with a disappointment on her features that I had not expected, "I will! I will bring him here, just you wait and see." I gave a glance out and my heart sank as the sun already had. I had just lied to the maid as well, which was not so bad if I had not promised with such enthusiasm.
"See that you do, mademoiselle. Remember Madame is now bedridden and you remember her condition grows worse every passing day. I expect she hasn't many more months." She achieved the desired effect on me, a guilt swelled within my heart. A dull painful ache began in my soul and I told myself that I would try and convince Erik to come with me to see her once more. It was something I was not eager to ask. I said nothing else, and holding my head high thought about what I would say upon my return.