A/N: taking a break from "Mon Couer S'Ouvre A Ta Voix" due to lack of reviews. But, it is by no means finished. Please R and R!
I went back to him. Yes, I could no longer resist the pull of our souls, the nearly-tangible chord that chained me to him became impossible to ignore, even after two years of what any young woman might describe as wedded bliss. Raoul could not understand, and in my heart, I regret to say, that I believe he had no desire to comprehend the emptiness that filled my days as the Vicomtess de Chagny.
Our wedding had been a hasty affair- as Raoul wished to spirit me as far from Paris as he was able, as soon as possible. Only a handful of guests attended our unpublicized nuptials, among them Madame Giry and her daughter- acting as my guardians. From the Chagny line, only his withering mother, who watched the rites with an impenetrable expression of subtle disapproval at her son's choice of a bride. My guests, on the other hand, smiled with resignation. I imagine they simply wished that the marriage would be one to bring me great joy and some needed peace.
Peace, yes. Joy was an entirely different matter.
After we left the chapel that evening, Raoul caressing my hand and eyeing me adoringly, we raced towards the family estate in a brougham lined with rich velvet. I could not meet his sweet face with my own, and lacked the inner strength to mask my conflicting emotions. I had been naive enough, at the time, to believe that by marrying my childhood sweetheart, all my problems would vanish as soon as the vows were said.
I was miserably mistaken.
The wedding night was no less uncomfortable than the wedding, itself. I do not mean to portray my husband as anything less than the gentleman he is, but my heart was not enamored of the intimacy expected of me that night. I had no illusions of what was to pass between Raoul and myself, now legally wed. The act, from various conversations I'd overheard during my years at the Opera, seemed the ultimate pleasure to some, while igniting utter revulsion in others.
Before we even stepped over the threshold of the grand manor- I would not allow Raoul to carry me over it, as I had made the recent decision to neglect tradition- I did not live in the same world as those that obeyed the customs of polite society. I did not even exist in the same world as my husband.
For Raoul, our marriage had been the reward, the culmination of a year's worth of simply trying to survive. It was the fairy tale ending: two childhood sweethearts reunited in a perfectly loving union despite the murderous rages of a jealous ogre. Raoul equated our marriage with his own victory over Erik, believing that I had chosen him beyond a doubt and left his rival to rot in the bowels of the theatre.
If it helped him to find peaceful sleep each night, as he rested in our plush bed, always grabbing at me in possessive affection, as if I might evaporate without his touch, then I would not correct his illusions.
But I have digressed. Perhaps it is too much-all these thoughts come flowing through my mind in some insane musical deluge. The dam has been broken, Erik, I am going to find you.
The wedding night, yes, I remember it all too vividly. Raoul practically led me to my boudoir, guiding me as I were the small child he hoped I would soon give him, where he'd placed several pink roses before the vanity mirror, no blood red blooms with black ribbons, nor notes in a fine musician's script to accompany the bouquet. I was touched by my husband's sweet gesture, but at the same time, I struggled with the agitation it stirred in me. Why did all of the embraces, romantic outings, and sweet words shared between Raoul and myself only make me feel more a child?
I should have felt a woman, that night, of all nights. For that was required of me, to play the role of dutiful wife and future mother to the heir of the Chagny fortune. Inwardly, I cringed, as Raoul picked up one of the baby pink roses and ran its tender pedals along the curve of my jaw. "I love you, Little Lotte."
Unable to answer him with the genuine passion of my heart, I turned in his arms and offered him a charming smile, as thanks for his roses, his love. I did love him in return, but it was a love that only flickered as a single fading candle fighting the gusts of the wind. The greater love, an inferno, by contrasts, raged as a furnace that could have heated every one of the numerous rooms of the overbearing Chateau that had newly become my home. The blaze was for Erik, and I had attempted against all reason and against all my soul's longings to quell the fire.
Raoul must have taken my smile as an invitation, his fingers sliding under the sleeves of my gown. "You are so beautiful, my darling wife." He smoothly pushed the sleeves completely off my shoulders, and eyes me with what could only be sensual desire. Setting down the rose, my husband bent his head to my breast, his hands eagerly prying them from the confines of my bodice.
I shivered, not in anticipation, but in the fear that I may not be able to complete my wifely duty. There had been a time when I welcomed Raoul's kisses, relished them- but such were the snares of innocent first love. I confess, I had never thought of lying with him as husband and wife. My daydream of our life together involved the affection of chaste kisses, and not intense coupling.
Still, I did not resist him. He was my husband, my protector, and the best friend I'd ever known. I had no wish to show him rejection. And, inwardly I mourned for us both, that I could not savor this intimacy as I ought, and that it was merely my flesh making love to Raoul de Chagny.
"Don't be afraid, my little darling," his palms cupped my exposed breasts, and he began to knead them. "I won't hurt you," He cooed, pressing up against me, so that I felt his arousal against my covered thigh. I shivered again at this realization.
But I was afraid, my anxiety growing as Raoul began to gingerly remove my many layers of clothing, and, in turn, separating his own garments from his skin. I was not ready.
Or perhaps, I was completely ready. It was not the wrong time. It was the wrong lover.
After I fulfilled my 'wifely' responsibilities on my wedding night, and Raoul had snuffed out the few candles that had illuminated the act, I promptly curled myself into a fetal position on what was my side of the massive bed, turning my back on a husband who had been nothing but caring.
My nostrils took in the scent of sweet smoke from the extinguished candlelight, as my mind fought memories of other lights, other dancing rings of flame, and other kisses.
I had become a cold woman-no sooner than the moment when I'd passed from girlhood to maturity. Failing already as a wife, and withering at the young age of seventeen into a embittered and frightened thing. I would not blame sweet Raoul if he rid himself of me within the span of a year. The last thing he deserved was to be bound forever to a girl who lacked the ability to simply desire him as any sane woman ought, and would.
My knees curled up tightly to my chest, and reassured by the subtle snoring of my husband, I released a flood of rueful tears. I cried not only for myself, but for the two of them. The two men who had the misfortune of loving me beyond all reason-something which I could not fathom because I lacked the enormity of such feeling. Perhaps I was a cruel 'little thing'. Mama Valerius and Madame Giry would, no doubt, agree if they knew my state of mind.
Most of all, I cried for Erik. For what I had wrought upon him. For my ignorance as to his whereabouts, his freedom, his own state of mind, whether he was getting enough rest. . .down to the most inane details. . .as only a mother could worry over her child. . .or a girl over the man who held the strings of her heart. And, of course, as I had been selfish all my life, I mourned over the certainty that he must definitely hate me, and would never wish to see his once beloved Christine Daae again.
I would continue to weep for my maestro for the next two years. It would take me the course of time to recover my courage and master my pride in order to seek him out. It would be two years, full of sterile and numb performances on the stage that was Parisian society, to tell Raoul the truth, and to set us both free. Two years of selfish notions that 'all would work itself out', and merely keeping a fresh smile and issuing a mirthful comment at dinner would compensate for my failures.
Two years, Erik. . .have you been waiting for me?