Traveling's over and done with... I hope. Thought I'd get another chapter out, but I misjudged myself. The urge to write is steadily coming back, so look for updates to my other stories!
Whether it's "in the near future" or not is left to be seen. Damnable writer's block.
The one thing she had to ask for, was the one thing he wanted to refrain from doing.
He wanted her with him because it was her wish, not because she would be lured and coaxed by the sound of his voice. Though stern he held before her, shoulders tense with the subduing of.. something, back straight and chin slightly aloft with a muted pride, eccentric eyes softened with that request, and he glanced away. Tongue's tip coursed against the roof of his mouth, running along ridged and smooth flesh in turn. Then closing his eyes he nodded, turning to her again as he opened his eyes. bringing her again into the line of his sight.
Just one song, and that is it.
He drew closer to both her and the couch, only to lower, but not upon its cushioned seating. It was the floor that he rested upon, legs folded and side against the couch's front, prostrate at her feet. Again his eyes closed and drawing in a slow breath, he brought a song to the forefront of his mind, one that spoke volumes, words that he could never truly give to her.
"While floating high above I hear you speak my name. Your voice so sweetly calling me to come.. to you again." In song, it could be claimed as someone else's, protecting him, his heart, from rejection.
"I stole into your dreams, I touched your soul to mine. I gave you music and soon you must rest here with me.. Eternally. We'll share.. paradise. We'll share.. paradise." Repeated were the lyrics, softer and within a gentle lilt. They rolled off of his tongue easily, sweetly. Then after a moments settle of a hum, he continued.
"The tiny spark you give also set my heart aflame.. That all the songs you hear me sing, are echoes of your name. Our voices blend forever, ascending high above. One day I'll fly as high with you, and in Heaven's arms we'll be.. Eternally.."
Christine was numb to all feeling but that of the growing sensation that his heavenly voice sent throughout her body, starting as a soft hum at the base of her spine and spread like wildfire. She leaned toward him, inclined to press closer as each note carried her along through a waking dream that filled her soul with a strange, sweet melody unlike any she'd ever heard on earth. Not even her father's music could inspire such a depth of feeling, nor the devotion and childhood love of Raoul to set her heart to pounding as it did now.
Her trembling fingers arched forth to trace delicately along his smooth jaw, almost blindly for by inspection her eyes had closed and tears now riddled the surface of her flushed cheeks.
A flicker of pause evoked by the passing of her fingers along his jaw, and he forced himself to keep singing. His eyes remained closed, refusing to look upon her. Too much emotion did that gaze often have, too revealing, and not only did he want to veil the heat of heart, he didn't want to see if she was lured more by her own desire, or that the song was inspiring, settling in an enthralling shroud. He was too leery of stopping, afraid that she might recoil from him. But he had to stop, his throat was trying to constrict too much. Slowly he pulled from the song, a whispered hum found in his throat again before an illusion-shattering silence passed through the embrace of the lair.
Her fingertips burned with the electricity that passed through this long lived touch, each inch of her warmed hands tracing the contours of his cheek and jaw, an ill-fated foreboding that neither, poor souls that they were, could see. It was only upon songs ending that her touch faded, her tiny hand recoiled to rest in her lap as the other lifted to wipe at the stream of tears that marred her cheek. Her chin lowered, her countenance shaded by her abundance of curls as they fell upon her cheeks.
Why me? What set me out from the rest, gave me the right to be in the presence of such beauty? Humbled and bewildered, Christine remained silent for a long while, reflecting on her state and taking the silence to regain her composure even as it slipped away.
It had been predicted, known to be.. so why did it bring such an ache? He should have been prepared for the withdrawal. Swallowing gently, he slowly cracked his eyes open, resting the molten gaze upon her in utter and complete silence. The quiet he was used to, but this.. this seemed too stifling, especially after such a veiled confession. Was she so drawn into just the voice where the words would have been lost? He prayed that was so, yet at the same time, he hoped that it hadn't been the case. While she regained her composure, he sought out to do the same, yet still he rested at her feet, akin to an abused dog simply waiting upon a bated breath for the first sign of affection, of acceptance.
Her silence was one of an almost holy reverence, too ashamed to speak in fear her voice would shatter the perfection of the immediate memory of his song. Her meek and unworthy voice could never hope to achieve such heavenly perfection. So it was that she remained silent for a long while, consumed in the overwhelming emotions of a joy beyond her dreams and yet a sadness that rested heavy upon her heart.
A beaten, shunned Spaniel at her feet he was, and she was much too self absorbed with her misery to even grant him the affection he so desired. Conflicted? An understatement if one was ever heard. She spoke at last, her voice void of any sign of her dismay – thankfully enough, for she did not wish to upset him – as her fair and glistening eyes lifted to find his. "I ... I should very much like a bath ... before we go out. Perhaps a change of clothes, as well?"
Breath drawn, a fleeting thing when he met his eyes with her own, and slowly he dipped his chin in an assenting nod. Unfolding his legs, he rose to a statuesque stand, took a moment to dust off his garments as well as straighten up both the clothing and his hair. Dual palms smoothed uselessly over the false strands that glistened with a soft sheen – there was already no hair out of place. He stepped back away from her, gathering his cup and saucer to place upon the silver of the tray.
"As you wish. You will find several warm cloaks within your wardrobe. I shall prepare as well." He couldn't very well go outside in just a robe and slacks, now could he? Though he might be used to the chill in the underground manse, the air outside would be enough to bring at least the faintest of shivers. "Hurry now. Before time neglects us from the night's first snowfall."
She stood as well, longing for the distance between them that kept her at a safe restraint. Quickened foot fells led her silently to her room, once again merging into the depthless shadows of the small grotto. Moving towards the(single candelabra that offered its last dying flames, she reawakened many of the extinguished towers of wax with their fading partners, then continued into the next room, a smaller one with its own lion clawed bath tub and wash basin, to do the same.
Approaching a chestnut wardrobe that spanned from ceiling to floor in the far corner, the double doors were opened to reveal, as he'd promised,(several heavy, hooded cloaks. Christine brushed her fingers idly over the fabric, venturing on along the length of the shelf to find two gowns, both of which appeared to be a perfect fit for her lithe dancers frame. She retrieved(one of a deep green, the cuffs lined with creme lace and the mantle discreet in its depth. As for the bath – well, that would require much more work than she wanted to exert. So, she drew up a basin of warm water, washed her neck(and ears as Mama Valerius always instructed, and dressed herself silently.
The small room was void of any reflective surface, and she would have been peeved by this revelation had she been the foolish girl to bother over small trifles such as hair or rouged cheeks. She did not require the color, she(would have find, for her porcelain skin drew an ethereal glow from some presence beyond that of the worldly sort.
The gown molded elegantly to her small frame; its rich forest hue bringing forth the tinge of her pink cheeks and lips, the lily white of her neck and collar bone, each slender finger as they fell against the gathered waist and smoothed across the folded bustle at the back. It was expensive and there could be no doubt of it, just as there could be no(discussion of the wealth in the heavy cloak she retrieved from the wardrobe.
Moving into her chambers, she drew the cloak over her shoulders and fastened the tiny gold clasp at her throat easily, her eyes admiring the make of the(ebony material. Moments later, she emerged into the cavern once more, void of that heavenly hue in her dressing robe and corset, but hardly of the angelic presence she held.
One could have almost mistook him for an onyx statue with how still he stood before the fireplace, looking down into the flickering flames. Upon hearing her door open he moved slightly, his head rising for him to glance over his shoulder, his eyes half shielded beneath the wide brim of his fedora; it had taken him very little time to dress, and had been waiting patiently for her arrival.
He looked upon her slowly, then turning around he stepped from the hearth toward the middle of the cavernous room. She looked warm enough, and he nodded faintly in approval. It would not do well for her to become sick and end up ruining her voice. He would ensure she didn't sing if that happened, and would inform the managers of her rest as well. Flicking a nearly unseen lever, he glanced toward the portcullis as it growled to a lift, slowly ascending until it would allow their exit.
"Shall we," he questioned, looking over toward her again as he came to a pause near the dripping gate of metal. Vines of moss strung over its bottom, draping curtains of green that clung for dear life.
She moved from the threshold of her room, down the small flight of stairs to the cavern floor, and quickly made her way towards him. He was her guide, after all, and in more ways than just one. She had entrusted him two weeks, of(song or of budding companionship, and it seemed that just when she'd felt the first flickering of regret upon promising him this time, he'd concluded to take her out. She would no doubt be grateful for the fresh air and the snow(that she hoped would fall, so naturally there was a lightness in her step that served to promote her eagerness.
As cloak and gown rustled softly against the floor several inches behind her, so did an obliging nod stir the nest of(curls left to fall free round her neck and shoulders. Her hands reached forth to draw the hood of her cloak atop the crown of her head, its hem licking at her cheeks to safe guard from the coming cold. She stood awkwardly aside him for a moment, perhaps awaiting the escort of his arm. It was an habitual trait, and she quickly remembered herself and simply awaited his direction.
When she was close enough he started off along side of the water logged path, one that would lead them through a labyrinth of 'rivers.' There would only be one he planned on following, and as he walked he gathered both a lantern and a candle from the spots as they were passed. Opening up the glass to the lantern and using the tiny flame to light the old wick, he blew out the candle and carelessly dropped the waxen column to the floor. Turning the dial to bring a bit more light, he glanced back to her to ensure she was still following. She wouldn't have any trouble keeping up, since he had chosen to illuminate the way.
"Perhaps the lake will be frozen over," he mentioned off handedly.
She followed at a slow pace, the pace which he himself had set, idly observing her surroundings from beneath the veil of dark lashes. It seemed that this world was one of unending shadow, laced with rivers that led to who knows where and awaiting exploration. At several instances she'd pause and gather an inch or two of her dress upwards, careful not to slip on the mossy pathways. The light his lantern provided was gratefully accepted, her way clear and his guidance one that she valued in the shadows that seemed to come alive and engulf her.
His mention of the lake was acknowledged silently, her chin uplifted in a slight nod though he could not see it. She had always heard of the Lake Averne several stories beneath the Opera; of how, during the war, gun powder had been stored in the unfinished structure, though when sought out, was never found. And who better to ask the origin of such a Lake, or of the other
mysteries the marvelous structure offered, than the very man who had assisted Garnier in his arduous task and who now reigned as keeper of this dark place. "Was the lake here when the Opera was built?"
"Unfortunately, yes. It posed a problem when constructing the opera house, though we had gotten past it with a few...modifications." Such as the house, and the various tunnels.
Lowering his free hand, he curled his fingers around the edge of the cloak, drawing it closer to his body to keep it from skimming along the dirtied ground. Being so close to the water there were little to no rats, though they did pass one or two along the way. The incline was steady, but minute enough where it wouldn't really be noticed. "We almost believed that we would have to move the opera house to another area, which would have been rather difficult. We made due. Constructing passages that lead the streams," he motioned to the one they were near. "..to the greater lake."
Christine moved along behind him, absorbing the path ahead of her with anticipated caution and here and there lifting her eyes to observe their surroundings. His kingdom was a vast one, no doubt of it. The reflection of his lantern on the water reflected from its glassy surface, danced over the cavern walls, illuminated the white of his mask that she caught a glimpse of every now and then. She was taken aback by its crisp clarity in the darkness, reminded of something distant and far off in her mind.
The night he took you through the mirror ...
Oh, but it seemed like a dream, that flight into some land akin to a fairytale. This landscape was different; dark, cold, uninviting. The passageways and corridors of their descent seemed so vibrant then, full of enchantment and warmth. Christine realized it had only been the gentle hum of his voice as he drew her down, down, down into the pits of her then unawakened soul that had shifted and changed the surroundings, and what reality she knew then was only the one he had created with and of his voice. She grew silent once more, giving only a tiny gasp when a rat hurried across her path.
Her silence brought his own, broken only by the faintest shifting of the lantern as he moved it from one hand to the other. Taking up the hold of his cloak just as he did before, this side was drawn close when they started along a darkened corridor. Time had no existence within this underground world. It could have been mere minutes or hours before the cooler feel of air would cascade through the tunnels. Then along the Rue they would emerge, coming through one of the gated exits. It was not too far from here that there was a carriage, waiting among the eerie mist that coursed over the lands.
Resting the lantern just inside, he turned down the light for it to be no more than a dimming flicker. Raising a hand he tipped his hat down subtly, shielding his face further within shadow, against the moonlight that threatened to reveal. It was to this brougham that he began approaching, his eyes slowly skirting the darkness for any other living being besides the slumbering driver. His eyes then turned back toward her, resting briefly, and she could almost swear that there was a faint smile in the shadows of his hat and pulled collar.
When they emerged into the faint light of the street, an immediate smile touched her otherwise taunt lips at the sight of the snow. Her first step upon the tightly packed substance was one that thrilled her to the soul and she could have sworn that somewhere out in the distance, beneath the light of a street lamp, a father and child played in the freshly fallen snow, the child's curls spilling from over her cloak and her smile as bright as her fathers.
It was but a product of her imagination, however. There was an empty landscape to greet them, save for the carriage that sat some feet off that they seemed to be moving towards. The breeze granted a chill and pulling her hands from beneath the protective cover of her cape, she urged the hood further top her nest of hair as they moved on.
Turning his head around to face the carriage, he traveled silently, save for the faintest crunching of the snow beneath his feet. Black skimmed across the brilliant white, dusting it to life only to settle back against the cool, frozen ground. When he neared the side, his fingers slid beneath the handle, gloved now, and gave it a twist to pull the door open. The stairs drawn down so she could climb upon them, he turned away so he could approach the driver and wake him with the solid thunk of coin.
She did not inquire of the origin of the horse and carriage, nor of the driver who willingly obliged this disturbance as if it were a regular occurrence. No, Christine but lifted her skirts and climbed carefully into the carriage, sliding with ease against the seat, cold from little to no occupancy. It did not bother her, however. Her skirts were thick and full, and her bustle shielded the chill as did her thick cape.
"Bois de Boulogne," he murmured quietly to the awakening man, who gave a tipping of his floppy hat, then slid down so he could remove the blankets from the ebony horse that was the carriage's lead. Stealing close to the door, he climbed inside of the cab, pulling up the stairs behind him with a hiss of metal to metal, then closing the door behind him. Once he was settled next to her, he rested back, and just moments later the horse was snapped into a canter.
"Have you been there? It is quite lively during the day.." He trailed off a moment, shaking his head faintly. Leaning forth, he took a hold of the window's blind, shutting it to shield them within darkness, lit only by the small lantern that dangled from the middle of the carriage's roof, casting angry shadows along the walls as the vehicle jostled lightly. The cloak was drawn around him, as if truly shielding him from the cold. Tipping his chin down he regarded the floor quietly, as if there was something that would speak the mysteries of the world. He wouldn't be so lucky, though. Gloved fingers splayed, resting along pressed slacks as he finally turned his head for shadowed eyes to rest upon her.
His question provoked a soft answer, her countenance riddled in shadow but nevertheless distinguishable. Her eyes left the inspection of the passing sights to meet his. "Only once, when I was in the Conservatoire." Such a sight it'd been. All of the faces of France, every class and unique type that came with it, all mingled together on one brilliantly green and fresh landscape.
An artist had asked she and Meg to pause for a moment to pose for a portrait, and as they stood in their ruffled dance tartans and shawls, their hair in braids and their smiles bright against that rich canvas, Christine remembered how she'd thought of her father then. Now, as she remembered the moment, her brow furrowed deeply. For all of the love she so paid for his memory, too often was it becoming a recurring trait in her desire to live.
The only thing that gave away the nod, was the shifting position of the mask, illuminated brightly within the shadows that enveloped the inner carriage. Tipping his head up, he glanced to the lantern, but made no move to dim it further or turn it off completely. The window was drawn, and he had no worries of someone becoming curious about the brougham that was traveling about the streets near the stroke of midnight. The driver knew better than to question, only follow directions and leave it at that. His passenger tended to pay quite well, making up for the business he lost from not being upon the main boulevard. If not doubling that amount. Closing his eyes to half lid, he kept his body slackened, rocking steadily with the movement of the cab. Had he but known her thoughts were already drifted that way...
"Your...father. Had he taken you about Paris before he passed?"
She had hoped that the thought of her father was the last, and oh how guilty she felt all the more for it! How long it had been that she'd carried around her grief with the vigor of a pious pilgrim on a voyage that never quite reached the desired destination. She longed so to be freed of the constricting grief, and it dawned on her then that it was all too suddenly she'd wished it, too.
Strangely, sweetly enough with the arrival of... Raoul.
Seeing that prominent image from her childhood was an all around encouragement. Just when she was convinced her living was over, her dreams dead and only revived in the moments she spent with an Angel of Music, the strapping boy from her younger days served as an example of what she could have been; what she still could be. And for this, she knew she could not go back to him. Not when Erik had grown so angry with her when first Raoul had spoken to her.
You'll have to choose.
But not now.
She was brought to life again with his question, her eyes lifting from space to find his. "Oh, no. We were only here for a year before he grew ill. Professor Valerius would take me out with him sometimes on errands, but after he died, my time was divided between helping Mama Valerius and the Conservatoire."
"So you have not seen Paris," he sounded thoughtful – which, in fact, he was. This could turn out to be a very good thing. He could take her to places...No. Only wishful thinking. Just how pleasant would it be to go from one place to another in the mid of the night? She would not be able to see the glorious way the sunlight shone through the colored glass of the great Notre Dame cathedral, or the way the light sparkled across the rivers.
With him, her life would be shrouded in darkness, rarely knowing the vividness of the day.
He turned his eyes away from her, away from the cruel reminder of what he so felt should be, but could never. Try as he might to tell himself this, his heart simply wouldn't listen. The beast had fallen for the beauty.
Yet in this fairytale, her love returned wouldn't break the spell.