AN: Yeah, I'm not done with the other story, but this was just an idea that's continued to bug me for a while, and I wrote it down. Please let me know what y'all think! Reviews make me very, very happy. Like, update happy.
Diclaimer: I own nothing :(
Time. An entire lifetime's worth of love. Christine had felt it all in her long lifetime. The most beautiful stirring of love, and the scalding pain of loss. Lying in her bed she recalled it all. Yes, she thought to herself, her life had been more than any woman could dream of.
A real Prince Charming came for me...I felt a love that lasted an entire lifetime...I sang for Kings in a grand opera house...I had my beautiful children...and I heard a true angel sing...a mortal woman has known all of this. I shall ask for no more.
"Mother," Christine recognized the voice calling faintly to her. Her sweet, raven-haired daughter, Audrey. She felt the young lady's hand take her own, but could not find it in herself to open her eyes. "Mother, can you hear me?"
"Audrey, how is mother?" Another recognizable voice. Her handsome son, Philippe. Ah, so they've come to care for me until...
"She's still ill, but she's sleeping, it seems." Audrey raised a hand to her mother's wrinkled brow. "Mother," she whispered lovingly, "what dreams are you having?"
"Probably of Father in their younger days," Answered Philippe. He looked at his mother's gray hair, sprawled upon the pillow, and tried to remember the exact shade of brown it had been in his childhood. The exercise only reminded him that time had indeed passed in their lives.
"Or, perhaps of the Angel of Music she had to leave behind when she married Father." Audrey laughed softly at this, much like her mother had in her younger days. "It was always one of mother's favorite stories to..."
The voices faded out, and soon Christine even became numb to her daughter's fervent touch. Ah, I see...I'm passing on. Even if she'd been afraid before, now it was too late for such worries. Her children had their father's legacy, and lives to lead of their own. Beautiful Audrey would be a fine mother to Henri's children, when the time came, and Philippe had just recently struck the fancy of the kind daughter of the Marquis of Limoges. For her children life had only begun, and it was enough. With that, Christine could finally be at peace. It's time. She walked forward in darkness instinctually knowing that this was the direction to go.
She even felt a little excited about the other world. Would she see Mrs. Giry? Raoul? Or, perhaps, her strange tutor? Erik...
A burst of light roused her. This is it. She stood before a wondrous being, cloaked in shining white robes. Even with its face obscured, she knew it was not human. Such glory was reserved only for angels.
"Christine de Chagny," It called out to her, "come forth, that I may guide you on to paradise." It spoke with such a beautiful voice that Christine paled. Only one man had ever spoken like this, and she wanted to weep at the very sound. She rushed forward.
"Erik? Erik, is that you?" She stepped forward boldly, never realizing that for every step she reverted in age, until she was again as she had been at the opera house. Her hand shot out and grasped at the hood over the being's face, only to suddenly retract it.
This was not Erik. This being whose long silver tresses flowed forth and whose beautiful face held no expression was not the man she'd known on earth. This was a mighty angel, and nothing more. "I am not Erik, Christine." He answered with no emotion. "Now follow."
Without resistance, she followed. "Of course," she said to herself, "everyone must be on the other side. Erik must be waiting there, too."
"Erik is not in Paradise," The angel said, never missing a step.
"Then, is he still alive on Earth?" Christine wondered at his physique. He'd been twenty years her senior, and she'd lived the full span of her life, so how old was Erik now that-
"Erik is not on Earth, either." He did not look back to her as she halted, but went no further without her.
"He is filthy. Loaded with sins that could not be washed away with the time he had left. For him, there can be no Paradise." The cool tone would have sent shivers down Christine's spine if she'd still been attached to her physical body.
"Erik is not...Erik was not a perfect man," she began, "but to be denied happiness and peace, even now, is cruel." Her doe eyes entreated him. "Please, can I not see him?" Christine was flooded again with the past, and the white mask of her beloved friend.
"You cannot enter the caves of hell. You were meant for fairer grounds."
"Even now," she murmured indignantly, "even now, he lives in sheltered caves?" The pain of this knowledge was clear in her face. The poor, unfortunate man that she'd cared for...he hadn't been saved after all. Her soul wanted to weep for him, but lacked the physical ability.
"It is as it must be," the Angel responded. "He accepted it as such, and did not try to resist me."
"He wouldn't. He thought he deserved it all, in the end." Pity welled in her, like she'd known only once before, when she'd sailed away from a broken and lonely man. No, I cannot leave him a second time. "Take me, then. I shall give my place to Erik."
"An unclean soul cannot pass the gates. Your sacrifice would be in vain."
"Then I will not move from here." She was serious and set on her course of action. His face had been stained from birth, but his soul had been pure at one time...hadn't it? As the woman who'd learned to love him as he was, Christine felt she owed him for all of the happiness she'd known.
"Are you so eager to throw away everything, for this sinner?"
"He threw away everything I would have shared with him for my sake." Christine replied. "He taught himself compassion and love, when he had scarcely enough to survive on all of his life. This was not a fair life- it was sad and cruel and tortured. To rise above that-"
"He murdered." He cut her speech short with a cold, hard fact. "He murdered and succumbed to evil."
"But he was so alone!" She groaned in frustration. How could such a beautiful being not understand her point? "He grew up alone with cruelty as his education. Why would heaven make a man, give him no kindness or goodness, and then punish him for that which his first education disposed him?"
"Then, by your logic, if he were not alone...if he knew kindness and goodness, he would have never learned such behavior?"
"Yes. If he'd been given that chance...if he'd known someone like that-"
"Then, if you'd only met him sooner -- the true man, and not the angel-- would you have helped him?"
His words struck a chord with her. Was she really willing to release everything for this man? Would she have loved him and helped him stand as a man ought to? "Yes, I would."
"Then one more chance will he be given. And you, too, woman, but at a price. You will hurt, as will he, but you alone will bear the pain of knowledge in this pact."
"I-I do not comprehend." She spoke slowly.
"One more lifetime will be granted. A test to you both. This is, of course, only should you accept."
Could she do this? Could she give up heaven and hurt for Erik? 'Has he not been alone for so long, Christine? Has he not hurt?' Her mind wandered to Raoul, and she felt guilt weighing her judgement down. 'The man I loved, the man who fathered my children...'
As if the being knew her thoughts, he spoke to her. "One love, one lifetime. Your promise to your husband has been kept, woman. It weighs not on this offer."
A silence enveloped them a moment. She felt as if everything - heaven, earth, and hell- were standing still for her and her decision. "I will return." She nodded and spoke quietly, "I will not leave him to hell."
"Then, woman, you will return to the Earth and find him," the Angel responded. "Instead of taking his place in hell, take him with you to paradise." His hand raised itself out to her. "Make this pact with me."
AN: Well? Read, review, and wait for the next chapter!