Author's Note: This is my first try at a Phantom fic, so please be kind! I want to write another one, a longer one, but this idea just popped in my head after I was watching the movie late at night. My muse is quite the night owl ;) There's no beta for this, so please excuse any/all grammar and spelling mistakes. Oh, and I own nothing. If I did own Erik, I would not be writing fics all day! The characters belong to Gaston Leroux and (for my description of Christine) Andrew Lloyd Webber and Joel Shumacher's amazing film. Don't forget to review! Thanks!

Raoul opened the door to Christine's room slowly, so not to startle her. He found her still in bed, her long brown locks plaited in a simple braid, her nightdress not slept in. She didn't hear him come in, absorbed in her favorite book.

"Still in bed, you slug?" He asked jovially. The sound of his voice in the quiet room made her jump, emitting a small squeak. She looked up at him and smiled sweetly.

"No, I woke up much earlier, but I didn't feel like dressing today, so I had them change my nightdress."

"Are you feeling well?" He asked, noticing her pale face. He prayed that she had yet to see the morning paper.

"Of course, love. I'm just in a lazy mood this morning." He sighed in relief. Her brow furrowed at this. Quickly he caught himself, attempting to smile in a reassuring way.

"Why? What's happened?" His eyes widened slightly as he scrambled for a reasonable-sounding excuse.

"Nothing, my love. I just worry about you sleeping. Are you still having the nightmares?" Christine hesitated, taking his hand in hers. Her hand was so cold, like she was as he held her in the monster's lair.

"I am alright now. The dreams have stopped. I sleep easily now." She smiled, swallowing the nasty aftertaste of her lie. It was only last night that she had awoken screaming, the pain from his accusing eyes as she floated way with Raoul cutting her in two.

Raoul brushed away a stray lock that had fallen in her eye as she sat in silence. She smiled grateful at the gesture, and the peaceful silence continued until a soft knocked erupted in the room.

A young woman walked in, a tray of food in her hands. Beside the napkin-wrapped silverware sat the morning newspaper. Raul panicked, the headline screaming the truth he didn't want Christine to see, for he feared what she would do. As the woman sat the tray down on Christine's lap, Raoul made a grab for the seemingly innocent paper, but Christine was faster, snatching it from beneath his outstretched hand.

"Let me read it first, as you never tell me news, husband dear." She smiled playfully as she opened the neatly folded time bomb.

Raoul watched helplessly as what little color sat in her cheeks left them quickly, and the paper slipped from her fragile hands. She sat shaking for a moment before looking down, not at the tragic headline, but at her pristine nightdress. She pointed to a spot, and then raised her head, looking mournfully at Raoul.

"Oh, there, you see? I've dripped on my new nightdress. I bought it especially for our anniversary today." She sounded apologetic and slightly cross as she tried to rub nothing from the sleeve. She held up her hands, as though to show the young attendant something.

"Do you think you could bring me a basin of water and a towel, dear? My hands are simply drenched and I don't want to ruin my nightdress more." The girl looked confused, shooting a glance sideways at Raoul who was standing by his fragile looking wife, helplessness clear on his face. Raoul knelt by her side, whispering softly

"There's nothing, Christine. Your hands are clean, as is your nightdress. No need to worry, our anniversary isn't spoiled." Christine seemed not to hear him, and looked pointedly at the young woman cowering slightly by the door and spoke in a slightly sharp tone.

"Why are you still standing there? My hands are covered and I need to wash them."

"Covered in what, Madame? I see nothing." Her tone shook slightly as she looked at Christine's white hands.

"Can you not see it?" She asked with a touch of impatience. "I do not know how you cannot It's dripping down my arms. If you do not hurry I shall soil not only my clothes but my husband's as well." The poor girl continued to look confused.

"I cannot see it Madame, for it is not there. What will soil your clothes?"

"Why, blood, of course." She answered as though it was the most obvious thing in the world. "His blood. For you see, I've killed him." She looked down at the newspaper again, her eyes widened as though she was just seeing the headline for the first time. S he began to shake violently, her face deadly pale. Raoul stood quickly and spoke calmly but urgently to the young attendant transfixed by the fallen opera singer.

"Go quickly and fetch-"

"No!" Christine's anguished scream ripped through the room. She flung herself from the bed and lunged at Raoul, weeping. "Why did you come? Why did you ruin our lives?" She began beating her tiny fists against his chest, not inflicting physical pain, but breaking his heart. The woman rushed from the room, her cries for help echoing down the long hallway.

"We were happy and content and you came and ruin us! She what you have done? His blood forever soaking my hands because of you!" Tears of anger and grief streamed down Christine's face as she yelled at Raoul, flinging the paper in his face. She began to weep uncontrollably, sinking to the floor. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry I've done this to you." She whispered through her sobs, though not at Raoul.

A portly older woman dressed in white came rushing through the door, two women following her, one with a syringe in her hand.

Christine thrashed and screamed and cried as the three tried to return her to bed. Raoul barely noticed his own tears as he watched his wife crumble before his eyes. One of the women placed a gently hand on his arm.

"Perhaps it's best if you waited outside." Raoul didn't move, transfixed in horror as Christine continued to struggle. The two other women shushed and clucked at her, as though they would a child. The pressure on his arm increased.

"Perhaps," she said looking over her shoulder. "Perhaps it's better if you went home for a while, collected your thoughts and returned in the evening after we've calmed her." Slowly, Raoul nodded, scooping up the paper that had ruined his visit to his wife. He left the room, Christine's anguished cries following him until the door snapped shut behind him. Vision blurred by tears, Raoul walked slowly down the hall, others' cries echoing softly in the silence punctuated by his shoes on the tiled floor. He sighed, feeling much older than his 26 years. Had it only been one year since he watched, tied to a portcullis, as Christine sacrificed her life for his? For months after, she awoke screaming beside him, hellish dreams of that night forbidding her sleep. Then, four months ago, he found d her in the middle of the parlour, sobbing on the floor, scrubbing at her hands. Raoul knelt beside her, took her hands and asked what happened. She stared at him tearfully, choking on her teas as she answered.

"Erik's blood won't come off!" After much debate with himself, and several more nights of finding her weeping in one room or another, he admitted her into a quiet asylum, tucked in the hills of France. It was one that catered to the unstable rich. Two days ago the doctor took Raoul aside and said that the chances of taking Christine had increased immensely. Now would he have to wait another year before their lives could start without the Phantom's looming shadow?

Angrily he tossed the newspaper he had crumpled in his hands on the steps outside the asylum. It fluttered in the cold winter wind as he stopped into the carriage and left, not glancing back at the formidable building.

The black and white headline glittered in the pale sunlight: "Phantom Remains Found. Curse Lifted on Opera House".