Rated: R (M)
Summary: A promise was made in the depths of the Opera l'Garnier years ago. Now it's time for it to be fulfilled… Erik's spirit still haunts the opera house waiting for Christine to return to him. Young Christine Dawson, an American singer armed with a voice of an angel and visions of the past, comes to the Garnier where the Phantom's restless spirit will do anything to gain what is his at any cost. RC and EC. Warning—Language and dark version of Erik. Leroux based.
Disclaimer: I do not claim any ownership to the characters, though if there's a certain masked genius looking for a new owner don't need to look any further! And the use of Charles Gounod's Faust does not belong to me as well. The lyrics to "I Saw Him Once" do not belong to me but to that of Les Miserables in this chapter.
A/N: At long last I'm posting my baby! I've been waiting for sometime to work on it and here it is. This is very different from my other stories, but EC fans don't worry! I have done this in a way to make both sides happy with plenty of delicious moments. And you should like the way I done the Raoul character. I never seen this done before and it was fun to do.
I would like to dedicate this is all my loyal readers and my new ones. It's you guys that make me write. Special thanks to my beta Megan for doing such a terrific job on this! Snaps for you girl! Also, I'm making Christine a brunette still because 1) I'm used to seeing her as one and 2) I'm a brunette. Enjoy and don't forget to review!
"Erik I have turned the scorpion!"
Time seemed to have stopped as her words repeated in his head. Never in his fifty odd years did Erik ever expect for a woman to consent to being his wife, but here was his angel. His Angel willingly accepted to be his bride. This had to be a dream. A cruel, yet a hopeful beautiful one he had many on occasion. But as he gazed upon the quivering singer, her mass of blonde curls disarrayed and her wide blue eyes filled with fear and an emotion Erik couldn't read, he knew this was not a dream.
Part of him was screaming at him that this was a rouse for him to save her lover. Another believed that she truly accepted him. Maybe not love him but in time she will. After all, that age long traditions of arranged marriages had turned to love eventually. This would be no exception for as far as Erik was concerned. In time she will love him the way he loved her. That's all he needed.
In the distance, the voices of the foolish boy and the daroga were growing fainter. The water from the underground lake was rapidly rising in the torture room, cutting off their air supply and only the hoarse cries of Erik and Christine were heard.
Erik stood in shock and awe; deaf to all sounds but only that of his pure love's radiant voice echoing "I have turned the scorpion". He barely saw the girl coming towards him, pleading to him about something. Then her little hands were splayed across his chest, those crystal ocean blues looking deeply into his amber ones imploring him. What was it? Was she hungry? Or was she tired? She indeed had an eventful day.
As he slowly regained his senses, her shrill frightened voice reached his ears. "Erik, please release them! For me!"
Expressionless, Erik stared into her pallor countenance. She continued to beg with urgency each increasing second until it registered she wanted him to save the fools. Save them? He wanted to out right and laugh at such a demand! They were trespassers and deserved punishment. No person dared enter Erik's domain without his blessing. No. He will not save them. Let them drown. For what did Erik care? He had enough blood on his hands for ten lifetimes that two more wouldn't make a difference. Even though, one of them was a close acquaintance. Friend? Maybe not. But try as he might, the insufferable Persian still came to him despite his near meeting to those deemed paradise. But this was the last he disobeyed him. And now he shall learn that Erik will not let his conscience get the better of him and spare his pitiful life.
As her eyes persistently pleaded him with her silent wish, Erik felt his resolve slowly crumble. He never was the one to deny his precious angel anything, as much as this wish infuriated him. She only wanted her lover alive and what? If he did this would it stand to reason the boy might try and whisk her away from the horrible beast? No. She was his. The proof was seen by the turn of the scorpion and Erik would hold her to her promise. Only death now could save her from her fate not some childish Vicomte. He would make sure of it.
Without a word, Erik moved to the secret door that led to the torture room and opened it. The two men tumbled out, gasping for air and barely conscious. Erik bent over to look into the Persian's face just as the man passed out. Smirking, he glanced up to see his love tenderly embracing her former fiancé.
"Oh Raoul!" she cried thankfully, holding his flaxen head to her bosom, gently smoothing his hair.
Erik observed the loving scene as bitter rage and jealousy engulfed him. Why should he be surprised? Of course she would want to hold the handsome prince who risk his life! Why should she want to willingly hold the dragon that practically tore him away her?
He watched as the lad nuzzled her chest, softly calling her name. All of his sanity shattered.
Erik stormed over and yanked the boy up by the collar, ignoring his beloved's cry.
"She's my wife now!" Erik growled in the Vicomte's ear and began to drag him over to the settee. He threw him down without a second look and went to tend the Persian.
The daroga was beginning to come to just as Erik deposited him on the other settee adjacent to where Raoul was lying. Erik bent over him and sneered. "I see you're still alive. Though I should have left you there, but my wife insisted that I save your carcass and the boy's."
"Your wife?" whispered the Persian, bewildered and astounded. He glanced over to the singer who was carefully pressing a cool cloth to the Vicomte's forehead. Wearily shaking his head, he turned to stare into the crazed man's eyes. "Erik… let… the… girl… go."
Erik chuckled deep within his chest. "She chose to be my wife. She loves me for me, daroga. Do you truly think ill of me that I would go the lengths to force her to a life of happiness?"
Nadir took a few deep breaths. "Erik… my friend, this charade won't last long. Let the girl be with the young man. She cannot survive in your world of darkness like you can."
Erik smirked, revealing his discolored and rotten teeth. "Quit being such a hero dargoa. The position doesn't suit you at all."
He got up and to check on his soon-to-be wife and her patient. He looked distastefully at the boy and sighed. As much as he loathed his rival Erik knew if he ever hoped to achieve Christine's affections he couldn't have let the boy die. Then all of his dreams would be for nothing. Christine would never forgive him if the fop should die. He briefly wondered if he were in the boy's position would Christine cry over him? As much as his heart would like to wish it, Erik knew she might secretly rejoice with her lover. Ah, yes my love! The monster is finally dead and now we can be married at last!
Erik cringed at the thought but then thought back to her acceptance just moments ago. The daroga is wrong! She does love me even if she hasn't admitted to herself yet. It won't be long until she realizes that she belongs to me and I to her. Grinning smugly, he bent down next to her. Reaching out, he tentatively touched one of her loose curls before placing it behind her ear.
"My angel, it hurts me to see you so preoccupied with one guest, specifically a past lover. Be a dear and make us some tea. I'm afraid our wedding would have to be postponed until they are well."
The news that should have made her lighten up didn't. She looked almost… distraught. Hope filled his cold heart from seeing her reaction and he thought, perhaps she does know where her heart belongs. Oh my savior… my Christine!
It was a ploy. Oh yes it had to be! The conniving wench most likely had some ingenious plot up her sleeves. If she pretends to be sorrowful that our wedding has to be put off she might try and get me to feel sympathetic and let her go. I have figured her little plan out! Well, two can play against this. I won't let her go. Never. Or…
"If it upsets you my dear, I could quickly procure a priest and bring him down here if you like. Don't worry about what your lover might think. This might bring some inspiration for him to know what love is truly is. Would that make you happy my sweet? Would you like to marry Erik now?"
The suggestion withdrew any color left on her face. "Y-you d-don't have to!" she stammered. "It would be improper. It's best to wait until they are well."
I thought so. Erik covered up his rejection with indifference. "Very well. If that's what you wish then I cannot object to my love's decision."
"T-thank you Erik," she spoke softly. "I knew you would understand."
"Of course." No I don't.
"I'll get some tea prepared." She quietly excused herself to the kitchen.
Erik watched his future bride leave and looked back to her fallen hero. The boy's breathing was slow and even, but he would live. And no doubt fight once more for his fair lady, Erik thought grimly. Fool. Idiotic childish snob. He has the whole world at his hands with his perfect looks and can have any woman he wants in his bed. Yet he wants my Christine. Mine!
He shifted in his sleep; his angel's name escaping his shapely pink lips. Erik stiffened with anger. It would be too easy. All he had to do was snap that neck of his and there will be no more obstacles standing in his way. Yes. No one would have to know. The Persian was out of it and Christine wasn't nearby. It would be an accident of course. The heat from the torture room and the close drowning experience would certainly push the boy over the edge. He couldn't stand it. He wasn't strong enough to handle the exertion. It was too perfect! Just as Erik's hand started to wind around his throat, Christine's face into mind. If his ultimatum earlier hadn't put much shock into her weak mind, then finding her former love's corpse so soon would do it.
Cursing under his breath, Erik pulled back and stared at the peaceful countenance. Go ahead and sleep boy, he thought. But you will meet your Maker if you ever dare cross my path again.
At the precise moment, Christine returned with a hotly brew of Russian tea for Erik. He took a sip and fought the urge to spit it up. Smiling cheekily, he drained the rest of the cup to appease her. In time she will get it right, he told himself. And then all of this would be nothing but an unfortunate memory.
A couple of days passed when Nadir awoke. His strength was slowly returning to him, which he figured he had to give thanks to Erik's medical skills. He sat up on some cushions to listen to the girl hum a lullaby to the young Vicomte. From what the Persian could see, the lad still was recovering from the aftershocks of being trapped in Erik's torture chamber. He had to give him credit though. The dark-skinned man didn't think the Vicomte would stand up to Erik's tricks.
Alas, the girl's presence was having an affect over Erik. It was a side Nadir would have never believed to exist in the hard-hearted man. A sense of compassion was taking root even if his long time friend refused of such a notion.
As much as Nadir would have liked, if the circumstances were different, he would have accepted Erik's love for the young singer. But this love… this obsession was clearly getting out of hand that even the former great magician in the Shah's court couldn't control. Sadly, he knew Erik was only going to end up hurting himself rather than help him. The girl was too kind and beautiful. An innocent stuck in the clutches of a raving man who yearns for some normality and love denied his whole existence. It could never be.
Silently, Nadir observed the changes his friend was undergoing ever since he and his companion were saved. Before Erik was rigid and set on having his living bride that nothing could change his mind. Now… now it seemed to be the opposite.
Christine tenderly took care of him and her lover with a bright smile on her face despite the conditions. Her zeal was too contagious as it seemed for Nadir and he found himself falling in her charms. He could see why Erik was so smitten by her angelic beauty and the naivety that all children possess. But by no means was he going to drag her off to some dark dungeon and force for her hand in marriage.
He tried reasoning with Erik but the man refused to listen to logic. He cursed and threatened him before fleeing to his music room, pounding away on the organ with intensity that rattled the daroga's ears. But now Erik seemed to be more pliant to listen to what he had to say. It was unreal and unlike the Phantom.
The harshness of his face faded away and he took on an almost homely and tranquil state of mind.
During one of their conversations, they could hear the faint whispers of Raoul and Christine discussing some childhood memory. Nadir was positive Erik would be furious and order the girl to do something else. But he didn't.
Instead, he gazed at him with a faraway look. "You know daroga. I've been thinking this past few days and I came to a realization, a revelation if you will."
The Persian nodded for him to continue. "As much as this hurts me but I think it would do the child best if she was the Vicomte's wife. He could give her much more than I could. All I have is my music, my darkness, and my cursed ugliness. While he has youth, beauty, and the money to buy whatever her little sweet heart desire. I cannot punish her in this world of hate and night. She needs the light and the company of others. She is my Persephone to my Hades, though this time I will restore her to where she rightfully belongs without asking for anything in return."
"I'm pleased with you Erik," Nadir said. "Truly I am. I know this will hurt but it's for the best. For her and for you."
"Yes." Then after that it wasn't discussed again.
Christine was lying on her silken sheets, tuck asleep, as Erik watched her. She was so beautiful and untouched by his crazed wishes that Erik cursed himself for destroying her innocence. He never meant for this to go as far as it did, but the green-eyed monster brought the worst of him he never knew existed. It drove him to kidnap her and to murder for her. The boy's brother was lying beneath the waters and no one knew but him. Erik regretted the rash decision to dispose of the Comte, but at the time he wasn't thinking straight through. But it was done and there was nothing more he could do.
Erik slowly slipped out of the shadows, carefully heading towards the sleeping beauty. His golden ring glowed brightly against her pale hand and for a second he believed she was his, no regrets or fears.
He knew the daroga was right. He always was, he bitterly admitted. But Erik held onto to the belief that the Persian was wrong for once. He wanted to believe he could be loved for himself that his face wouldn't matter. But as Fate had it the unfair Muse decided his life would have no companion no lover. Just poor old Erik rotting away in the cellars of the Opera Garnier.
Love is a wicked and cruel game, he mused. It can give one hope that the world is good, but the truth can never be hidden. Love is a curse for fools like me.
Being careful not to disturb her, Erik sat beside her, taking in the sight she presented. He only wished he would be the one lying next to her, holding her, loving her. Then have the same wondrous feelings be repeated the next morning. Most took their lovers for granted and it sickened Erik. Oh for what he would give to spend the day relishing in her love and adoration. Not as some heavenly being but as Erik, the man who loves her the way a man thirsts in the hot desert. Once he tastes the sweet ambrosia he could never have enough, not as long as he lives.
Surely once she is with the boy she would be taken for granted. If Erik could have her he would spend the rest of his worthless life worshipping every step she takes, every sigh every smile every tear. And it still wouldn't be enough for him.
Lowering his eyes, he gently stroked her soft skin, murmuring her name. "Christine…"
Her eyelids fluttered and Erik froze, afraid of her reaction if she should wake. With the softest of sighs, she smiled in her state of unconsciousness, and turned her face slightly away from his hungry stare.
Tomorrow it will be done, he thought firmly. After that I would be nothing more than a memory of the poor man who loved her like no other.
The next morning, Christine prepared some herbal tea for Raoul and the Persian. She was in high spirits this day than she had ever felt. Since the dreadful choice she had to make days ago, Christine never knew she could feel this type of joy ever again.
For the most part, she and Erik rarely spoke to each other unless they were addressing the patients or were offering something. It gave her plenty of time to think and she did more than she ever did in her life. Anything that happened to her was always decided by another and no matter what it was she complied eagerly without question. Now with Erik and Raoul both fighting for her attention, she didn't know what to do. It was the first time she had to make the decision.
If it had been only one of them it wouldn't matter, but she had two suitors that wanted her for themselves. Yes, Erik could be horrifying and with his deformity it only fused his anger. But he could be sweet and he had always been a gentleman whenever she was near. Yet she allowed her old childhood friend to lead her on that Erik was a madman who must be stopped. A murderer, a manipulative evil man. She wasn't proud of what Erik had done for her it only frightened her.
She was new to love and didn't understand the lengths some would go. She loved Raoul she knew that, but Erik?
She was so mixed up about her feelings for the Phantom. There were times when she felt she loved him and there were times she felt she hated him. He was sinful and not the man a good girl like her should be around. But she always found herself caught up in his web of lies and promises and returning to him. When she confessed to Raoul about everything he accused her of being in love with the monster. She laughed at him.
Now, she wondered if perhaps Raoul was correct. Was she in love with Erik? But love can be so complicated and Erik was a very complex man. She hardly knew him and what she knew either filled her with dread and terror or pity. He was a sad man she wouldn't deny it and it saddened her that someone with such talent had to be locked away because of his face. It didn't seem fair to the simple-minded golden hair beauty. But looking back on his past crimes and rash behavior it was understandable and it made her shudder.
He forced her to decide between life and death, the wedding or requiem mass. All of her pity and adoration for the man vanished as he placed the burden on top of her shoulders. Should she wed this creature? What good could come from it? Would she ever see Raoul again? The latter most likely would never happen and at the time her heart belonged to the young Vicomte. She couldn't give up on Raoul. What would he think of her?
It wasn't until she heard his voice and the Persian's through the walls that she thought she was safe and the decision no longer rested on her. But it didn't come to that. Their survival depended on her to distract Erik so she could help them. She hated being deceitful but all she wanted was to be held in Raoul's arms, telling her everything would be all right and that all was safe. She wanted his love, his reassurance that he would always be there for her.
She came to the decision that saving his life would come to only if she consented to be Erik's wife and in that split second her "yes" was for Raoul. Though now she wasn't sure and once more confused than ever at what her heart wanted.
Shaking her head, she set the tray on the table and excused herself. She was walking past Erik's music room when she heard his melodic voice calling for her.
Christine floated into the abyss of where his power ruled above all mortals. There sat Erik, hunched over the majestic organ. Her timid footsteps alerted him of her presence and he turned to acknowledge her.
"Christine," his voice shook. It appeared he was crying before she came.
Worried, she ran to his side, falling at his feet. Her tiny head rested on his knee and she looked up into his golden eyes. "Erik?"
"Christine," he said once more, his hand coming up to pat her light curls. "My angel…"
"Erik what is it?" His demeanor was beginning to frighten her as he constantly whispered her name in an undying prayer. Please don't let it be anything serious, she thought self-consciously before blushing.
His ministrations ceased as he placed his hand back in his lap. His lips pressed firmly and then faintly in a tone barely above a whisper, he said, "You may leave with your lover."
She blinked. "P-pardon?" Did he say what she thought he said?
Becoming irritated, he glared down at her. "Are you deaf child? I said you may go with your Vicomte!"
Christine thought the news would flood her with joy, but instead she found herself perplexed and distressed. "W-why?" she asked after silence washed over them.
Sighing, Erik stood up and walked away, giving them some space. His back was to her and she watched as his shoulders quivered. "I release you," Erik stated, his tone painful and anguished. "He should be strong enough to return and then you can be wed."
"No!" Christine ran over, forcing him to face her. "Erik, I chose you!"
His malformed lips shook as tears threatened to spill over. "No you do not know what you wish child. Your Vicomte can provide you with a life that Erik cannot. You deserve to be with him and give him children with flawless faces, instead of carrying my hideous burden."
"Erik this is nonsense!" Christine reprimanded him. "I-I…"
"Christine I'm giving you a chance at happiness. Go and live your life but don't forget your poor Erik!"
She was torn. She wanted to be with both men, but having both wouldn't be the answer. One will always ask more of her and she wasn't sure if she could fulfill it. But now she seemed certain of her feelings, but Raoul's sweet face popped up in her head and she remembered his promises to her and hers to him. She loved her old friend dearly that was no question, but she did pledge her love to him when she accepted his proposal. It was a promise she couldn't back from no matter how much it would hurt her or Erik. But… she could make another.
Christine removed the golden band and held it out for him to take.
This is it, Erik came to realize as he accepted the small ring in his large palm, the point of no return.
He stared at the trinket, fighting back the tears. He would not cry in front of her. She made her decision long ago when she betrayed him to the boy and now he was returning the favor. His angel would be better off with her handsome prince and they will live happily ever after. That's what he could give her no matter how much it broke his heart. At least I'm giving her the chance never to see my cursed face ever again.
He noticed she hadn't left yet and wondered what pain would await him now. Couldn't she accept what he was offering to her? Did she have to stay and watch him wallow in his self-pity?
"Erik… look at me," she softly commanded.
He lifted his head just a tad so he look into her cerulean eyes. God, she was beautiful. Her lovely porcelain face, those innocent eyes, and silky curls would be forever embedded in his memory. The Vicomte was going to be lucky to wake up next to this angel every morning.
"I-I want you to know I'll do this because I love Raoul," Christine started.
Erik averted his eyes away. No! He couldn't listen to this…
Her delicate hand gently grasped his chin and pulled him back to her. "But… but I—" she paused and took a deep breath. "I love you and I wish I could stay."
Erik was taken aback. "Y-you love me?"
She closed her eyes and when they opened, a light mist took over. "Yes but I promised Raoul… I can't turn him down. I-I'm sorry Erik, but I gave him my word. But I can give you mine."
She nodded to the ring that was in his hand. "I gave you the ring back as proof to my physical promise that I will come back to you. Keep it Erik and then we'll be reunited. And that I promise you my Angel."
Erik seemed skeptical. "But what of your boy?" he spat.
Christine lowered her eyes and sighed. "I-I'll tell Raoul where my heart truly lies. But not now. It will crush his spirits and I want to tell him alone." She looked up then as her tears were silently coursing down. She peeled off his mask, leaned forward, so their foreheads touched as her tears mingled with his. "My tears and heart are yours my love. Remember that Erik. I shall return to you. Do not forget this my beloved."
Do not forget this my beloved.
And he didn't.
"Monsieur I implore you. Is it really necessary to hire some girl to replace Signora Giovanni?"
"Relax M. Roberts. Trust me, she'll do the part of Marguerite justice."
The older gentleman Roberts wearily collapsed into the chair, sighing exasperated at his employer. "But an American sir?"
The owner smirked. "So? She's still a singer and a terrific one at that. Just listen to the recording I brought back with me."
"I don't care! How do you know she can do opera? From what you told me she's done nothing but musicals! It's a completely different genre from what we do. And what of her voice range?"
"I understand Roberts," placated the owner. "Looking at her background she can do it. Her mother was an opera singer at the Metropolitan Theatre and she grew up in the chorus until her father moved her out. I heard her in New York and she's the fresh voice this theatre needs. I already talked to her agent and she's flying out here within the next couple of weeks—"
"You hired her on the spot? M. do you know what type of risk that might cost us? She's an unknown name for God's sake!"
"I assure you she's worth it. Now I have a copy from her latest performance in Les Miserables as Cosette—"
Within seconds the small office was filled with a sweet, pure voice singing of love."I saw him once
Then he was gone
We were like dreamers at night
Two phantoms in the shadows of the moon
Can people really fall in love so soon?"
When it was finished, the owner turned it off and faced the bedazzled Roberts. "Well?"
He cleared his throat. "I have to meet her of course, but she sounds like she has the potential."
"She does. Have I ever stir you wrong?"
"No. And her name?"
Unbeknownst to the two gentlemen, there was another being present during the meeting, one who couldn't be seen. And after listening to the song and name he knew this was she.
Soon… soon and then you'll belong to me and you'll never ever leave me again.