At Christine's voicing of defeat, Erik straightened up, pleased with her capitulation. The door had slipped shut, at only the last second, and so his perverse delight could not be seen. "Very well, Christine." Erik replied simply, and turned to pass through the closed door without a second thought. "I really did not wish to jail you in this room, and so I am glad you had not made me do so." He said, speaking affably, as if what had passed between them, was nothing more than trivial whinges. "Let us leave." Erik added hastily, taking Christine's hand lightly, and hurriedly leading Christine through the door, which allowed this particularity, as if it were nothing more than a hologram. As he guided Christine down the hall, the rage and despotic-likeness that ruled his manner completely vanished. Erik released Christine when they had reached the sitting room and rounded on her abruptly, sinking subtly. "Christine, you would not be so unhappy here!" He assured fervently, and giving the young woman a fleeting, adoring look, Erik turned lithely, and carefully stepped away from her. He frowned, and misery consumed his misshapen face for a moment, as a heavy sigh passed from his lips. "If indeed, Erik is dead, and this is my wretched hereafter," his attention, shifted back to Christine, and he forced down the despair, which held so heavy on his heart, Erik felt he would retch, "then, I most certainly can influence it." Erik then, held out his hand toward Christine, and in it he held a single cut of red freesias. "You see..." He said, with forced lightless, that faltered as his gaze fell from Christine, "like...magic." Erik added in a murmur, voice soft and crestfallen. With a slight tilt of his hand, the flower poured from his hand, to the ground, as ashes.

Briefly glancing down at the ashes, and feeling a renewed surge of pity for the monster trapped in death. Then, her resolution to escape returned with an overpowering wave. Smiling heroically, she took Erik's empty hands, and patted them kindly.
"Do not worry, we have forever to get the idea of this, non?" Her tone was cloying, but she hoped that he had little female interaction, with experience to give away her plotting.
"We could, do real magic tricks instead? Or we could sing, if you would prefer...after all, we have more then enough time?" A forced light-hearted laugh brushed past her deceitful lips.

Rising his despondent eyes to Christine, Erik's expression appeared torn between confusion and relief. His gaze wavered, and fell to their hands, and stepping back, Erik cagily withdrew from Christine. Erik looked pensive, as he nodded subtly. "Yes...we have forever." He murmured, straightening up and glancing over at Christine. Erik appeared, for a moment, unswayed and sceptical. While logic shouted at him to point out Christine's particularity, Erik instead ignored it pleasantly. "We will do whatever you would like, Christine!" Erik announced, the sadness waning from his manner. "You are unhappy, I know- but know Erik will do whatever you wish, to please you."

Christine almost yelled out loud that he return her then, and there, but she knew that she could not take such a risk. "Perhaps...We could go for a boat ride, as if we were in a sunny park!" She could almost taste the man's desperate need for the world he was no longer part of, and so, she decided to play the most laughable of cards and hoped it would work out in her favour.
"Yes, let's! But...I shall need to change first. Wait here." Dashing to her own room, she put on the lightest of old dresses, and mentally prepared herself for the uncomfortable silences to follow.

Turning to face Christine's retreating figure, Erik gazed after her sceptically until she had disappeared from view. He thought perhaps Christine maybe planning some escape, though he disposed of this fear, remembering reluctantly that Christine could not do so, unless he permitted it. And him permitting it was completely doubtful, and he admitted with increasing remorse, selfish. Suppressing this guilt, and burying it somewhere in the back of his mind, Erik took to placing his sentiments aside, and impatiently wait for Christine. When she emerged from her room, Erik forgot his concerns and rushed toward her, taking her arm gently, in a most diffident manner. He led Christine wordlessly out into the musky darkness of the cellar, to the edge of the lake. Erik cautioned Christine to be careful, as he assisted her into the gondola before situating himself. With a fleeting look back to shore, Erik began to pole the boat through the aphotic water. In the silence that followed, excluding dull echo of lapping water, Erik's steadfast gaze had not left Christine. Finally, Erik stilled the boat in the water; despite how careful his movements, they seemed abrupt because of the long period of motionlessness. Lifting the pole from the lake, Erik placed it carefully against the side of the gondola and after a brief pause, held his out for Christine, and instructed her softly to stand. The boat beneath their feet, moulded into the shadows, and instead of water, they stood upon a narrow paved path. Gesturing to the right, Erik tore his gaze from Christine. Clouds, it seemed, had developed through the darkness, and light shone softly from the crescent moon that hung in the sky. The branches of bear trees cut into the scene, a forest of twisted, dry trunks before them. "You see, Christine, I deciphered that it is much like how one would...paint a picture. It is all visualization." He paused, his gaze returning to Christine. "But most certainly, these are not your colours." Erik said pleasantly, and gently turning Christine around, on the opposite side of the path, it seemed a lighter painting was being created. The trees were fresh, leaves lurid and the colours of autumn all under a clear sky. Wind sent the freshly fallen leaves whirling from their rest, around their feet, before crossing into the darkness, withering and matching the grim scene to the right.

Christine smiled solemnly. "It is very beautiful Erik. You are quite talented." Leaving Erik's hand, she ventured towards the painting, but found she could not quite step from the path. Biting back the frustration that marred her calm mood, by having been restrained by person's mere wishes. 'He must not want me to stray too far away.' She thought logically, even while she forced her will against his, and found she could take the first step from the path. She did not run however, but instead, Christine took in the beautiful fall scene before her. It was truly like a painting, for if she looked closely, she was able to see the delicate brush strokes that the wind had left behind. Taking another painful step, Christine was able to admire the marigolds that were fading, alongside the sun stroked oak. Many trees rioted, displaying their flaming wares without a purpose, beyond showing off their own magnificence. Her own hands danced lightly over the welcoming autumn flowers, and she could not bear to think that Erik had created it for her.
"Will you show me the rest of the forest; I would love to see it…the one you created anyways..." Then a thought came to her. Perhaps she could escape when he thought her asleep. Surely he would believe she could still sleep, as a force of habit.

"Of course, Christine." Erik conceded easily, and stepped after Christine in a more hesitant manner. The scenery seemed still very real to him, and as Erik had unconsciously not yet wholly accepted the world in which he lived, it was awkward to be out in the sunlight, which he had created. He instructed Christine to follow him, and with the leaves crunching underfoot, the noise sounding undeniably real, Erik led Christine deeper into the clement forest. The foliage around them was constantly animated; everything seemed to call for attention, from the willowy curves of falling leaves, to the souring birds, and the brilliantly coloured flowers. Calendulas and bronze and yellow mums led them to an open meadow, that sloped down at a short distance, the view disrupted by a thin boarder of trees. "And this is where it ends, my dear." Erik said quietly, dulcet voice fading with the rustle of the golden grass. Despite these words, he continued; assuring Christine was still following. Moving with ease down the short incline before offering Christine his aid. When he was sure Christine had stabilized herself, Erik glanced over at the water that ran before their feet. The limpid rivulet flowed over the mossy rocks, carrying with it, leaves that spun gently on its waters. Chaffinches fluttered to the branches of the trees surrounding them, their twitters carrying throughout the streambed. Erik's attention was, nonetheless, effortlessly off of the scene, and on Christine. "It is all for you, Christine." He pointed out timidly, before turning away from the woman he adored, and casting a more attentive look at their surrounding. "Ah- with all the time we have, Christine, I can create so many more places for us to visit! And I have travelled, myself once, to many countries- you can see the world, whatever world it is." Turning back to Christine, he desperately felt the desire to please her. "I will place all my dexterity at your disposal, and give you what no other man, dead or alive, can offer you."

Christine's will all but shattered as Erik showed her the world he had created. Everything crying furiously for attention. 'I can not do this to him, I can not…' and thus the struggle ensued. She could not face Erik, for she was sure the betrayal she might yet deal him, was written across her face. She would not give away her worry by wringing her hands, and so she busied herself with picking up the painted rocks, and watching when she dropped them, as they fell in liquid form.
"What is it that you alone could give me Erik? If you can create all this beautiful scenery, why could you not replicate me?" Christine asked, her tongue sore from holding it in. 'It's not fair that I should stay forever. That I should die, while he could just as easily create another me. One that might love him, as he desires. One that might care for his needs, instead of me. A confused child with my heart given to someone else!' The grievances of her situation plucked at the girl's weak spirit, and left her exhausted. 'Perhaps I'm dying already! Mon Dieu, non! I want to live...' "Oh God I want to live!" She cried, her throat choked in fear. Fear of dying, of staying in a fake world with a man she knew nothing about save he was talented, and hideous. She felt as if her soul was falling from her hands too, and she dreaded seeing it melt away, as if too were a painted thing.

Eyes softening as Christine cried out, Erik dared to draw nearer to her. "Christine, Christine!" He called hastily, and while he was unsurprised by her sudden exclamation, Erik was set ill at ease by it nonetheless. "I could give you everything and anything! From jewellery and gowns, to the Borromeo Palace and the Mecklenburg lakes, I can make it possible! And love, Christine! I have more of it for you, than anyone else possibly could! Far beyond death, beyond measure!" Despite the anguish in his voice, resentment had begun to rise in Erik, at the idea that Christine could so easily dispose of his ardour. Instead of crying out in anger toward the unfairness, Erik only sighed in a mixture of frustration and dejection. "There are only so many things one can bear to know is illusory. You are not one of them, Christine. Think, only being able to imagine love, in life- despite how unfeasible! And I am so tired of pipe dreams." Shaking his head despairingly, the beautiful scenery surrounding them began to morph and adumbrate. Erik turned away from Christine, past attempting to get her to resign herself to the hopelessness of her situation. "At least, with you, your sentiments are genuine, be them hate...or likewise." Straightening up, Erik glanced back at Christine. "It is not much like death, you know, Christine..." Trailing off, he turned his attention foreword. "With death, you expect liberation from the world, from pain and all apprehension. Ah- but still I feel otherwise, and no longer can I think 'not much more time, soon Erik will be dead!' because...I am, and I have been let down by the only definite respite that I could have ever received." Turning back to Christine, Erik frowned, pausing to stifle the grief that threatened to weaken his voice. "And could still feel alive."

Christine turned rapidly, as if to strike Erik, but found she had not the energy to do so. "Can you not let me live, and find solace in that I will return once I have died? That I may have lived my full life, without regret?" Her voice grew more powerful as she carried on. "Could you not be happy that I found happiness, whilst all you did in life was find sorrow? For obviously you could have met and made nothing but, if your only relief was in the grips of death! And look where that has brought us now? God, I can not hate you Erik, but I pity you. I pity you and everything and one you have influenced. By keeping me here, you take away the one thing I could ever ask for…" No longer able to continue without gasping for breath, Christine fell to her knees, surrounded by a once-idyllic scene. Her head was bowed to her quivering chest, and her hands hung lifelessly. "It is as you said Erik; there are only so many things one can bear to know is illusory." Her tone was hollow, and dead, as the aching she felt, stung in a renewed vigour. Then, she raised an incredulous hand to her face. 'I feel as if I've been slapped…'
The worried Viscount had followed Christine to the Opera house, not trusting her word on being safe. After all, hadn't she said that when she visited her aunt? And she returned looking deprived and cold, Raoul reasoned. He had been right, in that she might have a reoccurrence of the thing that had robbed her of her spirit the first time, and Raoul felt a sort of pride at being able to predict these things. He had arrived to comfort her, the moment she returned, but the girl was nowhere to be found. So, instead, he waited for her to return, and took a short nap in the room adjacent. He had, however awoken to find her asleep, and no amount of persuasion could awaken her. Taking the girl in his arms, he carried her himself, to the doctor, brandishing Christine as if she were a rare and delicate patient. Which she was, he thought. The young doctor from before, examined her again, and with a sigh, shook his head.
"She is not responding to stimuli…that is a very bad thing Monsieur." Raoul frowned, and stood over the girl. He slapped her cheeks, and alarmed, the doctor rounded on him. "What are you doing?" He cried.
"Seeing if she responds. You called it stimuli, and so far, you've pinched her, and prodded. I figured that perhaps you should try something else." The doctor bit his tongue, knowing it would be the viscount footing the bill.

With a soft, unhappy groan, Erik turned back to Christine. "I would be happy; I would wait another lifetime for you, Christine, if you would return to me! But you will not. That is why Erik must keep you! By asking for your autonomy, you want me to willingly hand you over to another man! I won't, how could I?" The passion in Erik's voice seemed to have completely faltered at this point, and through his resolve remained firm, he was weary of fighting with the woman who so desperately wanted to be free of him. The sketches of the landscape had finally faded to a white abbess, that slowly returned to the familiar, grim parlour of his home. "You will live an exultant life, with him," Erik spoke this title venomously, before continuing in a more vacant tone, "and you will forget Erik, in both life and death- and I will be alone eternally, alone." He shifted, almost in an uncomfortable manner, before noting Christine's expression. Erik drew closer to her in concern, but hesitated and instead slunk back further. "And I would miss you, Christine. Bearing to remember that I had dared to even try. What a decision! What a sorry decision for you! I am sorry, Christine. How miserable I have made you." Erik paused, holding out his hands apologetically, and for a moment, he considered hurrying off, though instead, Erik remained, gazing ruefully at the young woman. Despite how he wished he could simply demand her staying, and guard her so; Erik could not find it in himself currently to act so callously toward the woman he loved. "I don't want your pity, Christine. I want you to love me." He explained, painfully aware of just how hopeless the pining was. Erik's hands fell limply, his shoulders flagged, and his gaze, which had once been so filled with ardency for Christine, became consumed with misery and dropped to the floor. "But you won't ever, will you?"

Christine shook her head slowly. Not sure how to respond. She might have loved him, had he been a normal man and she a simple girl. There might still have been a chance had he been alive, and she a famous diva, but the question pierced many holes in her bearings and she could not forget the almost ecstatic joy she had felt when she knew her Angel would come to her. Nor could she ignore the emotions under the pity. 'But he wants to steal the very life from me. He wants me to give up everything I love, and everything I could never be a part of, for him to be happy...' The fight in her though, had dissipated, to nothing.
"Could I at least...say goodbye? He has been my friend since childhood. I think...that saying those simple words might make it easier for both of us..." Her request was honest, and straightforward, and as if to show her complacency, she took Erik's hand in her own. "Please..."

As if the innocent request was a confrontation, Erik flinched, and fear leapt alive in his being. "I do not know..." He murmured slowly, as his wary gaze rose to Christine at her touch. Erik's wariness soon faded, and he looked at her dotingly, resigning. With a subtle nod, that was half-done with great reluctance, and more inclined by love, Erik exhaled a breath quivering with apprehension. "All right, Christine. You may say goodbye." Gently, Erik aided Christine in standing. "Christine," Erik started quietly, withdrawing his hand carefully from hers, "you must promise you will return." He insisted, and though it was meant to be a demand, it was weak and hesitant. Erik knew he was chancing allowing Christine to depart, though she seemed so sincere; the chance would be larger if he upset her again. Moreover, Erik did not wish to do so. Still, he felt as if he was allowing Christine to depart forever, and so it was with tentative hands, Erik reached to smooth her mussed hair as timidly as a child would. Stepping away, he gave her an adoring look. "Please return." Erik tried, and while he aimed on sounding more courteous, underneath his words laid threats that urged to surface.

Christine's heart rose that she might say goodbye, and in doing so, absolve herself from the sin of leaving Raoul to wonder. Though proper manners dictated she leave with a 'thank-you'; Christine wondered what manners would say about her situation, She pressed a kiss to Erik's retreating hands, and in a moment, with his will allowing, she was awake.
The world never felt so alien before then it did the girl awoke. She could hear her heart beat loudly in her ears, and everything held a solidity she had dismissed what seemed years before. Then, as she adjusted, a hovering presence came into view. "Raoul..." She murmured, her voice sounding metallic.
"Oh Christine! It happened again! It must be something in that damned place." Smiling at the familiar babbling of her fiancée, she allowed herself to forget for a blessed moment, the dark fate she would share. The ring on her finger shone golden in the early afternoon sun, and it seemed to her, that it was the only warmth in the bed. Her mind disagreed with her that it was there though, for she distinctly recalled it being taken from her by Erik.
"Ah- I must remember him then..." Christine muttered, closing her eyes wearily. It seemed she would not be granted so much as a minute without him near her.
"- And the managers thought you had been a part of some illegal Opium trade, but I told them that is absolutely ridiculous, and if that was the way they thought of their performers, I would withdraw my support from them entirely." Raoul finished. Christine opened her eyes, and smiled encouragingly as if she had heard every word he said, when in fact, she was far away.
"Raoul dear, I haven't much more time left...please understand that I do love you..." Christine could feel the insistent tug of the other world ebbing at her bones, in the way a tide calls to driftwood. "But I want you to move on. I will always be your best friend I hope, but once I am dead, do not linger. Continue your career, and do not be held back by my inconveniences..." Raoul grew alarmed at Christine's words, and he denied everything the girl knew to be true. What would be true, for Erik had denied her nothing but her life, and Christine could deny Raoul nothing but her death. Smiling wryly at her misfortune, Christine requested Raoul help her up, and take her outside.
'I want to remember everything beautiful about this day...' She thought, her heart sinking at the sight of Raoul's frantic gait.
The garden, adjacent to the De Chagny residence, was in full bloom. It was more beautiful then the painting world of Erik's, for she could touch it, and know it was real. She spent the next two hours running her hands through the dirt to feel its texture, and chewing on leaves of basil to recall its sharp taste. She left out none of her sense, as she inhaled the dark rich scent of the warm day, nor the cool shade of a friendly willow. Raoul sat by her side, offering her tea and cookies, and she munched them with contentment. 'If only this day would last forever...' Christine wistfully pondered. But the sun was setting, and the beauty of the fiery copper blaze could not waylay her growing sorrow. It was with regret, that Christine turned her back on the now, diamond studded sky, and returned to her bed. Raoul pressed a kiss to her head, as he dimmed her lamp, but Christine had not the heart to return it.
"I love you Raoul...goodbye..."
"Good night Dearest Christine." Raoul replied cheerily.
Christine had bid adieu her world, and returned to Erik's, her tiny feet making a quiet tapping on the floor as she padded from her room, to Erik's music room. "I am back..." She called softly

Erik stared wondering at the spot in which Christine had vanished. It seemed that she had only slumped forward into sleep, before she disappeared. Startled, Erik drew back, as if this had been the only oddity he had noticed. In truth, he had chosen to ignore most, in order to clutch the small chance, that perhaps Christine's accusations were not completely true. But it seemed what little possibility, was shattered. A soft, grieving whimper passed from his lips; Christine, it seemed, since the world in which he lived felt so real to him, was as intangible as the dead women he dreamed to love were. A vicious cry admitted from Erik's throat, at the comparison. But Christine was so alive! When she did not hate him, with she was innocent to his deceit, Christine was not dead! And so now, why did he care to compare? He considered, that perhaps it was only because, he could not longer doubt the strange situation he was in, nor that his body, which had for so long resembled a dead man's, was truly decaying. But before, he had known, though denied it, and he still saw Christine as part of his reality. Sudden rage that seethed from confusion fuelled through his veins, and he rushed into his room. Casting a glance around, he hurried to the organ, and from the console, began to collect and frantically rip the sheet music. Page after page, was torn, and fell to the ground, as full pages, seemingly untouched. Looking down to the floor, when he found his hands were empty, Erik growled in surprise. "You are not real!" He hissed, pointing to the papers, as if they could hear his cutting. Erik kicked at the papers, which began to whirl about his feet, and stack themselves. "I hate you!" He cried, and suddenly, the papers scattered again, and Erik fell to the ground, exhausted. "Erik is not real." He murmured softly, lifting his hand and listlessly waving in in the air. Tracing of his movement seemed to smear before him, and he snickered, before faltering and letting his hand fall. Erik had only started, when he heard Christine's voice, and he remained quiet, until she stepped into the room. "I understand why you don't love me." Erik said arbitrarily, with a small sigh, looking to his dishevelled room. "Not only am I hideous, but I am unreal! I do not know how long I have been dead;" he paused, and laughed a short, quiet laugh, that was tinted with hysteria, "but by the looks of me, quite long! Though it would be hard to tell, wouldn't it?" Erik paused then, and raised his gaze to Christine. "Did you enjoy yourself?"

Christine smiled sadly as she approached the man on the floor. "It was beautiful; I had a lovely day." She could no longer deny her fate, and taking a deep breath, she accepted it. "If it is a solace to you, I think it must have been ten years or so. There were midnight stories about you. Every new ballet girl was told that you would eat her if they dared disturb you." Laughing at such ridiculousness, Christine put another bit of herself behind her the closer she came to Erik. First she shed life, then her childhood fears, next was her teenage and adult fears. 'At least I will not die alone…' She thought cheerily, the darkness becoming oppressive. With a lopsided smile, she held out her hand to Erik, to help him from the floor.
"Come; let us go outside, we have nothing to fear now, right? It is only this world below that is not real, non? So let us go somewhere real." Christine suggested, the notion 'If only muted…' passing briefly. Even as she grimaced at the slight twinge she thought might be Raoul, or death approaching her material body, Christine stayed by Erik's side as they materialised to the world above. It was early morning, like so many early mornings before. There was nothing to distinguish the darkness from the encroaching light, but for the knowledge of time that sounded throughout the city.
"Why did you choose to live beneath the Opera house in the first place, Erik?" Christine asked curiously, as they meandered through the empty streets of Paris, invisible to all.
"One would think that the Opera Garnier would be the last place a person would want to be when the curtain falls."

"I chose to live there, because it seemed an adequate place to secede from humanity, and it was." Erik replied quietly, his mind seemingly elsewhere. While Erik wished he could simply relax and enjoy his triumph, he found his grim thoughts distracting. "It was much more pleasant, and being alone had its advantages, it begin with. It would be much more clear to you, Christine, if I explained the events of my life- but it will do you better not to hear them." Hardly comprehending his own speech, Erik willed his attention to Christine, glancing down at the young woman steadfastly. Though, this only intensified the guilt that weighed heavy on his chest, and he stifled a sigh. His gaze left Christine, and travelled the street, boarded by elusive structures. "Christine," Erik said suddenly, his attention still forward, manner weary and doleful, "why had you returned? I do not understand; you could have taken the chance to leave me."

"I returned because I promised to." Christine replied, her eyes taking in the sights around her. It was strange to be an entirely different form of energy, and still move down the same boulevard as she had in life. "I've said my goodbyes to the person I cared for, and as I said, I have returned to live with you...forever it seems." A dry smile crossed Christine's as she added, "I do not know if I will be the best companion you could have chosen, but I will do right by you, if that is what you are worried about." Her heart seemed light, as she chatted away, knowing that perhaps, she had nothing left to worry about. It also seemed that Erik needed her more then Raoul though she loved the boy still, she forbade herself to think of him as anything more than a brother incarnate.
"Tell me about your childhood Erik, about your life. Although you say it would be better that I do not know, I think I should know the man who I'll be spending the rest of my li- death with." As encouragement, she took the man's arm, and led him to a stray bench, watching with a faraway gaze, as the night plucked it's first colours from the world.

Erik shook his head, sinking down on the bench that became solid; it seemed, as his hand laid limply on the wrought iron armrest. "Christine, there is no one else I would possibly want to spend eternity with, and so you are the perfect choice." He assured, glancing over self-effacingly at the young woman, as if afraid to full face her. "And that is why I really wish you would not inquire such, or you will hate me, as you have said you have before. But my life! That is the misery and horror that will cement your loathing." Erik quieted then, considering not continuing and leaving Christine ignorant of his past. Though, what would it matter? She was to be with him forever, regardless of hate or fear. He owed it to the woman, Erik figured, in any case. Since it was impossible for her to love him, it was senseless attempting to keep her uninformed. Straightening up, all emotion seemed to leave Erik's manner, and he began to explain his life, as if it was that of another's. From his miserable childhood, in a town near the Seine River, to his flight from the hate of his parents, to fairs with which he journeyed across Europe. When Erik's story had left Russia, and reached the palace in Mazendaran, his impassiveness faltered, and his manner grew grave. Periodically, he would pause, as if to collect himself, bridging his hands in his lap in discomfiture. The only pride that entered his voice did so, when Erik would childishly begin to explain the makings of his fantastic creations, pantomiming with his hands. His disclosed of his near death was said lightly, marking it as 'a ridiculous attempt' and informing her that his supposed executioner had aided in his escape. Explaining his time, as a normal contractor, who built only normal things, the emotions that fuelled Erik's story seemed to slip away; the jaded air that surrounded him rose again, and he sighed. The Opera house had been his last magnificent work, and his underground retreat, the last hope at concealing himself from mankind. Sinking down on the bench, Erik dared not risk to glance at Christine. "And so you know, I was quite a man! A horrible man." And while Erik appeared mournful, it was only for Christine, who had foolishly sought to hear such an appalling tale, and not for the atrocious crimes he had committed.

Christine concealed her emotions bravely throughout his tale, smiling and nodding encouragingly as he continued. The sun had denied rising above the charming Parisian street, and it was this that kept her from crying out at the horrors he had inflicted. Her very being rejected it, but the calming sight of gilded streets washing over the park kept her from jumping up and running away. Christine did not need to breathe deeply, finding that no oxygen was needed. Out of habit though, she inhaled, to clear her mind. The sorrow for him though, that he had to start out from such a dark life, cut Christine to the quick. At least her mother had loved her while she had lived, and her father was a kind generous man. What her life would have been like, if that had not been the case, looked bleak.
"I'm sorry Erik, that life has been so cruel to you. It is not fair the injustices you have had to face..." She meant it as well, in every fibrous bone of her corporeal body. 'I can...feel solid in this life...why?' She wondered.

With a loud exclamation, of both relief and sorrow, Erik looked toward the young woman. "Only you would say that!" And though his voice sounded lamenting, his golden eyes burned with love for the woman who had so courageously not neither fled nor flung indictments at him. In a gesture of gratitude, Erik took Christine's hands and pressed a kiss to them, as she had once done to his own. And if Erik fancied he had the right, he would have embraced the woman who showed him such a remarkable amount of compassion. Self-reproach struck at him, and left Erik amazed by Christine's small display of empathy, when he had been so forbidding to her. Tears abruptly began to fall and roll down his misshapen cheeks, and with a small, unneeded breath, Erik drew back his hands from Christine, and wiped them away with a feeble laugh. "Ah- I would not be weeping, if I deserved your sympathy." He murmured sadly, and in another moment, was calm again. "Let me here you speak of your own life, Christine, the one that Erik so cruelly had taken from you! It is doubtlessly much lighter than my own."

Christine nodded the mention of her own life a painful reminder of what she had left behind. "I was born the only child, into a religious, loving family. My mother was disowned by her father for marrying Papa, for he was only a farmer and musician, while Mama was of noble stature. So we lived modestly on a farm until I was five or six, when Mama fell ill and died." Christine continued to reiterate her bohemian way of life, living with fairs and on the streets. "It was not a difficult life, and I had known it for so long, that it seemed impossible that Papa and I had ever lived in a real home. When I was eight, father bought me a red scarf for my birthday, and that was when I met Raoul." Smiling at the heroic picture of a teenaged Raoul, sopping wet and half-drowned, holding out her soggy scarf.
"He never was too bright, but he was the kindest, most gentleperson I'd ever met. He also saved my scarf from the treacherous ocean, and from that day on, he was my constant playmate." Her china smile chipped as she recalled what came next.
"My now, adopted aunt, and her husband, who loved to hear my father play, then took in my father and me. Not long after that, my father died, and it was our kind benefactor who sent me to the academy of music in Paris. I was then shafted to the Opera Garnier, to be a ballet dancer and a general chorus girl. I believe you know the rest of my story." Concluding her narrative, Christine stared at her hands folded in her lap, and complimented herself on her steadiness. She had not noticed Erik's tears fully, until she brought her gaze up from her limbs, and to her companion.
"Oh- please do not cry Erik, it's almost the start of a new day! No tears are meant for today!" Christine half-quoted a catechism her father always used to say when Christine felt hungry, thirsty, or tired, which was often. She was about to add on, when she felt a strange tugging. She appeared translucent for a split second before she solidified once more. 'What was that?' She wondered.

Having expecting Christine's story to be more bright, Erik frowned faintly, to find that it was not completely so. He was amazed, however, that Christine could speak of her life, whilst keeping her composure. Erik started suddenly, she Christine spoke of his tears, his intent gaze wavering. He seemed ready to reply to her, when Christine became translucent before him, and he blinked, and it appeared that nothing had changed. Warily, he bridled, as if expecting Christine to disappear entirely; when she did not, Erik abruptly gripped Christine arm, sinking subtly. "Don't leave!" He instructed, suspecting that Christine was attempting to leave him. "I hadn't done anything to anger you, have I?" Erik inquired desperately, thinking that perhaps, he had upset Christine in the time she had returned to him. And believing she was bitter, as it would be justified, about his past, cruel behaviour and still searching for way to escape.

Christine shook her head, confused. "I did not try to do anything...and now I feel ill..." Placing a hand on her forehead, she was stunned that she felt even less solid then before. 'How is that possible? I am still here...' Panicked, she looked around, and spotted the reason for her faintness. Raoul was carrying a burden in his arms. A limp one with the distinct shape of a woman. 'Where is he carrying me?' she wondered, only to find he took a turn onto a well-known street. It was that street that led the way to la maison de lune. The shadowy figure of Raoul, visible between the veil of life and death, passed almost within arms reach of Christine, and she could fully see herself. 'It is me! I am dead!' The thought so alarmed her so; she would have retched had she been in a physical form.
"Erik..." She mewled, a horrid feeling that tore at her soul as she disappeared from her spirit's view. Doubling over, she clutched her chest, unsure whether her heart was beating too fast, or not at all.

Releasing Christine, as she fell into distress, worry and alarm set in on Erik, as he watched Christine distraughtly. He followed her gaze, until he too could see the vague outline of the man, who held a woman, whom Christine peered at so intently. Erik stood swiftly, and made as if he would follow, but hesitated and instead turned back to Christine. "Oh- Christine, Christine, what is wrong?" Holding out his hands helplessly; he could not decipher why she seemed to be in such pain. Erik imagined that perhaps it was because she was dying, but he had slipped into death so easily, why was it not for Christine? "It's okay..." Erik murmured affectionately, though in a very low voice, knowing it not to be true and said only, to comfort himself. Kneeling before Christine, he gently placed his hand on Christine's shoulder. "You may leave if it alleviates your pain." Erik offered, it seemed, without his own consent. Though his voice shook faintly in fear, as if it was away of his risk before his mind. "And return when you are well." He added hurriedly, for himself, before his concern returned to Christine.

Christine's pain logged mind heard Erik's freeing words only, and she nodded. "I'll return when I know why I'm feeling so ill…" She promised. She was gone from the bench in a second, but the transition between her spirit and her body became a painful experience.
Eyes flinging open, Christine did not wait for grace or manners to sit up in bed, only to find she could not. White straps held her arms to the bed, and no matter how she twisted them, she could not be free of them.
"Help…someone please untie me…help!" Christine shouted, her voice rising to a shrill crescendo when no one came. As the panic that clawed her mind faded, the girl was able to think more or less with clarity. 'Why am I here?' She wondered, taking her surroundings, and adding them to the mental equation that was building up.
"Sterile room, restraints, no one answering cries for help…so I'm in the hospital." She concluded, her muscles relaxing completely. "Oh merci Dieu!" Not only had she gotten life back, but she was somewhere were she could easily escape from at night, to visit Erik. The entrance of an unfamiliar woman wearing a grim line interrupted her thoughts. The woman did not speak and though Christine looked at her from the corners of her eyes as she disappeared from view, she could not see what she was doing. It was only when she felt the sharp sting of a needle that she opened her mouth to protest.
"Where…where am I?" The very words were slurring.
"Welcome to Charenton Asylum, Mademoiselle, we hope your stay will prove to be short." The nurse said curtly. The drugs that slipped through her veins quelled the panic, and for the first time in months, she had a completely dreamless sleep.