Wow. My first phic. Well, this is quite a momentous moment. I've always wondered what it was like for Christine when she had to go bury Erik.
I got a lot of inspiration for this phic from my own dislike of the dark and the unknown. Everyone, to some degree, I think, fears the unknown. And who's ever buried a genius several stories underground before?
Expect this to be dark, as I enjoy darkness. My most profound and heartfelt thanks from the very very bottom of the bottomless abyss of my heart to people who read this.
"I have prayed over his mortal remains, that God might show him mercy notwithstanding his crimes. Yes, I am sure, quite sure that I prayed beside his body, the other day, when they took it from the spot where they were burying the phonographic records. It was his skeleton. I did not recognize it by the ugliness of the head, for all men are ugly when they have been dead as long as that, but by the plain gold ring which he wore and which Christine Daaé had certainly slipped on his finger, when she came to bury him in accordance with her promise. The skeleton was lying near the little well, in the place where the Angel of Music first held Christine Daaé fainting in his trembling arms, on the night when he carried her down to the cellars of the opera-house."
The freshly dug, moist pile of earth next to the little well was like a beacon in the dim light, like a magnet which pulled the eye's gaze towards it. It was an abnormality in the unchanging weak light of the cellars, an earthen wound in the continuous face of the underground road.
If any living being had deigned to pass through this dark underworld it would have stopped and stared at that sight indeed strange to behold. If any creature of flesh and blood passed through these halls, in any case. But if they had, they would have deemed this strange mound, this sudden change, this thing whose appearance defied explanation, they would have deemed it a grave.
Strangely enough, there was one last mortal in the Underworld, probably the very last for a very long time. After all, what company was there to be had in the fifth cellar? Only the ghosts of the dead, the rats, and a spider or two.
Yet a strange, fair creature lingered in the bluish depths of this Parisian Hades still, lingering about the little well and kneeling by the earthen grave. This incongruity in the darkness, kneeling in a pool of fabric and lace, was the essence of ethereality. The darkness dripping from the walls and congealing at the furthest ends of the corridor threatened to swallow this small figure whole, and digest it in the belly of the lurking unknown darkness.
She was like a flower in a swamp, or a faerie creature wandered from its home. The small figure that knelt at the well was like a candle which could be snuffed out at any moment by the darkness and the despair which permeated the Opera's belly.
Flaxen hair tumbling about her face, Christine knelt numbly by the fresh grave, mindless of the state of her dress and, in fact, everything around her. Her finger felt dull and heavy in the absence of the golden ring that winked ominously at her in those weeks above the ground. How it frightened her to see that glowing band each day, binding her as surely as chains would, reminding her of a promise that dampened any moments of happiness she might deign to enjoy. More surely than a pocket-watch, it counted the progress of time. More surely than any clock, it reminded her of the hour when she would go to the Rue Scribe and enter once more the Underworld where her terrible drama began – and ended. Christine bit her lip unconsciously, as she had taken to doing, and felt for the ring on her finger, as she had done so often in those past weeks. The grave drew her eye, and her throat throbbed, an achy feeling like suppressed tears.
Slowly, falteringly, she brought her thoughts back to the present, as they scattered like frightened deer.
What time was it? The Underworld marked no passage of time. Christine jerked as if to move, but settled down again with a disconsolate rustle of cloth, her thoughts wandering, scattering.
She could not seem to fix her mind on what she should do. Or what had happened. She never knew that she would have the resolve to venture down into the hostile depths of the fifth cellar. She never knew she had the resolve to enter the house on the lake, so empty and still, the absence of its owner so achingly apparent. She tried to think about something else. The darkness was stifling.
Christine absently rubbed at her porcelain cheek, where dried tears had stiffened her pale skin. The darkness of the tunnel began to close in on her, and a feeling of primordial panic began to close over her like a dark veil.
Her hand began to ache. The darkness receded. She glanced down at her pale, clenched knuckles and realized that she was still gripping the crumpled clipping from the Époque. She unfolded it with shaking hands and scrubbed painfully at her eyes with her clammy palm. The dull pain sharpened her senses marginally. The soft, thin paper was damp and crumpled in soft ridges from when she had clutched it in her hand – when had that been? Christine scratched at the ink with her little fingernail, wearing the paper thin and the three words off. She dared not look at the article, let alone what was printed on it, for fear that it would remind her of the chills of the unknown, and remind her of what she had just done. The grave pulled her eye again.
She had brought the key to the Rue Scribe with her, and entered the belly of the Opera. She had buried Erik, as she promised him she would upon seeing the advertisement of his demise. She felt for the little gold ring again, out of habit. It was not there. A chill rippled over her skin, and her stomach clenched. The darkness was so frightening. But she daren't move, lest it catch her. Death and the dark: Christine feared both...the unknown and what might wait out there in that unknown to snuff out her life like the pinch of a candle by the giant hand of Destiny…
Ironically, the unfortunate Christine had encountered these age-old fears, but certainly not conquered them. The occasional hopeful thought came to mind as she sat there in the eerie world of light and shadow. Raoul. How long had she been down here? Was he wondering about her? Was he thinking about her?
Christine couldn't smile. Not here. It felt almost unholy to think thoughts of joy in the dismal grave-yard. Ah, terror! Erik was buried here. Christine shuddered, and pulled away from the mound of earth with a sudden horror. His presence, though a dubious comfort during that time that seemed now so long ago, was stifling. The very thought of death – of Erik! – set Christine's heart aflutter with fresh waves of terror.
She felt remorse, sadness, for his death. Him. She banished the image of the glossy black coffin, the black drapes, the Dies Irae.
But how could she feel anything but horror faced with this darkness, this plethora of unknown terrors that lurked in the shadows?
She had the key to the Rue Scribe. She could leave. Now. She could leave and run up to the world of light and life. What was stopping her? A brief flash of confidence blazed in her breast. "I want to leave," she said aloud. "I shall leave." Speaking aloud was a bit of a comfort in the oppressive silence.
Christine made as if to stand. Erik! She darted a fear-filled gaze, feral in its intensity, toward the mound of earth. She would have to pass the grave on her way out. The fear budded in her stomach again, a thorny plant which wormed its way through her and blossomed into fiendish flower. Childlike terrors, perhaps: the fears of the dark. But here, in the bowels of the earth, alone, it was impossible not to succumb to those puerile, yet ever so tangible fears. What was lurking out there? What was that drip, drip? Easy to explain, Christine began to reassure herself, relaxing (one could envision a threatened cat slowly lowering its arched back). It was only the water.
That made her think of the lake, and then the siren. Erik's siren. Christine shivered. She couldn't stop thinking about all those childish terrors that she harbored, a simple reaction of her brain but ever the more frightening down in the darkness. There were certainly spiders down here, she reflected nervously.
Every nerve in her body frizzing with anxiety, she lurched awkwardly to her feet. She could leave. She could leave. There was nothing stopping her. But the thought of walking by the grave again couldn't bear thinking about.
Christine silently cursed her qualms, cursed what had brought her here. She sank down next to the little well, the only thing that seemed harmless. She couldn't turn away from the grave – that made her back prickle like she was being watched. So Christine Daaé settled for sinking down in a pool of cloth the way she had been before, closing her eyes and letting the scalding tears burn rivulets of heat in her cold cheeks. She sat, and cried, wept at the ridiculous hopelessness of her situation.
Somehow, Christine slept.