To those wondering why another chapter has suddenly appeared - I revised this story, and split up the original last chapter. The wedding and celebration is in the chapter before this. I have added a lot more to the end of this final chapter since the story is no longer T rated (and I have never been that happy glossing over the long-awaited moment drawn out through entire book, because I had to keep it so mild. It is now explicit.) Again, a warning to those who read this as T-rated. This is now rated M and this chapter is one of the reasons.

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**Chapter XXVII**

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Swept away by the enthralling excitement of Erik, Christine had forgotten all else but him in their erotic dance and impassioned kiss. Now, alone in what would become their tent, with two of the older gypsy girls and the Drabarni attending her, Christine shivered from his absence and the chill of the air upon her skin. She tried to concentrate instead on the warm parting promise Erik whispered into her mind, of the memory of his skilled hands branding her flesh and his heated mouth claiming hers.

The gypsies had removed the beautiful wedding dress Erik purchased for her, she assumed by trading rubies from his dagger. The Drabarni brushed aside all of Christine's faint objections, ordering the girls to continue in their assistance, and against their strong hands Christine could do little but endure their actions. Unaccustomed to being waited on in such a manner, she shivered as they stripped her down to nothing and sponged her skin with water combined with aromatic oils, then perfumed her hair.

She blushed anew when the Drabarni surveyed her as if inspecting a horse. "Such a tiny thing, you are! Barely enough of you for your King to hold on to." When Christine lowered her gaze to the ground in sudden concern, the Drabarni added, "Pah! Do not listen to this old woman, child. He had a good hold on you in the dance, si?" She cackled a laugh. "I think you will please him well."

The burn of embarrassment had not left Christine's face or body throughout the entire time they dressed her and combed out her hair.

Now alone, Christine swallowed over the sudden thickness in her throat and touched the fragile lace edging the low-cut gown. The sheer silk, no more than a whisper of moonlight, revealed the shadowy outline of her form. A tiny embroidered red rose rested at the point of her cleavage. She recalled with a tremulous smile the single roses he'd sent to announce a secret rendezvous between them. During their journey, even before that, she experienced no hesitation to show her desire for him, and only moments ago, her dance had been provocative before she'd thrown herself into his strong arms, forgetting all else existed but them. Now, a strange sort of anxious exhilaration made her palms damp and her shallow breaths as tattered as her nerves.

On the eve of a wedding, a mother often advised a daughter. Yet Christine had no mother to tell her of what to anticipate. Only her imagination fueled her ideas, fed by her Angel when they lived at the opera house, and the few passionate moments they shared on their journey. While those experiences taught her more than she'd known before leaving Paris, she still knew next to nothing, and she certainly never asked the Drabarni, uncertain of what gauche replies the brash woman might give.

In the glow of five candles, Christine stared at the hanging silk tapestries of ruby and emerald that encircled the marriage bed of pillows, then lowered her gaze. Numerous petals of crimson lay scattered across their satin contours. The warm air stirred, heady with the scent of similar roses upon her skin.

How long had she yearned for this moment, dreamt of it? She loved Erik desperately, but alone and faced with the vagueness of what this night would hold, an unwelcome thread of unease twined around her heart. She felt every inch the virginal girl and little like a mature woman. Closing her eyes, she breathed in deeply, searching for calm.

In the distance, the musicians began a sweet, haunting melody that wafted around her. She tried to let herself float with the music as she'd always done with her Angel's majestic compositions and superlative voice, to become one with the sweet notes, but her body felt as tight and ready to snap as an over-wound string on a violin. At the sound of a footfall she turned suddenly and watched as the tent flap parted. Erik stooped low to enter, then straightened, letting the crimson and emerald striped canvas fall shut behind him.

The air electric, they stood and stared at one another, neither moving.

Christine broke from his steady gaze to lower her eyes to his unlaced shirt gaping open almost to the waist from their wild, seductive dance of earlier. She studied the sheen of his powerful chest with its soft dusting of dark hair … the red cummerbund circling his trim torso … his long, lean, muscled legs in the close-fitting black trousers and leather boots.

Heat seeped through her veins and she inhaled a ragged breath.

This man was no king. He was a god, sculpted to perfection. Apollo, Mars, and Jupiter combined.

"Christine?"

Her gaze swept rapidly up to his. How could one feel so incredibly nervous and wholly desiring at the same moment?

Behind the bandit mask, his smoky green eyes simmered with a look she'd caught flashes of during their journey and earlier in their dance. Now, they held a steady burn that threatened to consume her. Breathless, she watched him tread toward her with all the sensual grace of an untamed wildcat.

"Christine, there's no reason to fear."

"I don't ... fear you." Her voice came, trembling, a mere wisp of air. She tore her gaze from his, keeping it fixed to one glistening spot of his chest as he drew closer.

Several tense seconds elapsed once he came to stand before her. Again, neither of them moved.

"Christine …Christine …" he whispered in song.

Slowly, she brought her eyes up to his.

He rested his warm hands on her bare shoulders, his touch light as gossamer. His harmonious voice lifted in accompaniment to the violins, in a melody both soothing and seductive ...

"At last, comes the hour for which destiny dreamt … Let Music fill you and thrill you …With rapture sweet, turbulent …" While he sang, he brushed his fingertips down her arms in a slow caress and retraced their gradual path. A shiver of pleasure whispered through her as his sweet music and silken touch both calmed her nerves and stirred her senses.

"Our eternal song has begun, one of sweetness and fire …" With his words, his fingertips grazed the sensitive skin behind her ears. "… to new heights shall I take you …" Her breath caught as his touch trailed down both sides of her neck and beyond. "…Evermore love's desire …" As he sang the last, he gently slid one hand from above her breast to just beneath it while stepping behind her to hold her against the length of his hard muscled body, much as he'd done that long-ago night on the bridge. Her knees went weak, so that she could barely stand, and she melted into him. His heartbeats raced against her, as swift as her own. Through the whisper of material that veiled her, his touch burned her skin.

"No more to stand apart, forever two combined … Music, my Music, I am yours, you are mine …"

He pressed his mouth to her neck, sliding his caress to the curve of her shoulder. The heat of his lips, the gentle flick of his tongue, almost became her undoing. Her eyes closed as her spirit soared and she willingly sank with him into their coveted paradise of sweet fire.

"Sweet Music, I call you … come to me, complete me," he sang near her ear, sweeping his other hand across her body in a languid, intimate caress extending from waist to trembling thigh. "Sweet Music, my chosen Queen … Passion's Rose finally freed …"

Powerless to hold back any longer, she turned in his arms. "Erik," she whispered reaching up for him at the same moment his arms wrapped more tightly around her.

Their lips met in a kiss that beseeched and possessed with a hunger that shook them, controlled them. A kiss of fervent exploration, a kiss of tender fire. Her palms pressed against his solid chest, sliding their way inside his shirt, wrapping around to the strong muscles of his back. It wasn't enough. She yearned to feel his heated skin against hers with no more barriers to keep them apart. Between hungry kisses, she tugged his shirt free from his cummerbund and dragged it off his shoulders.

He pulled away to rid himself of it, tearing it over his head and tossing it to the ground along with his cummerbund.

She stared in awe, watching his muscles ripple with the motions, her lips parting further. Dear God, he was so strong, so … virile. Separated from his warmth, a chill of earlier doubt beset Christine. He turned to her, desire dark in his eyes, but as he studied her face, a question came into them too. He clasped her shoulders, his touch gentle, as if sensing her sudden anxiety. She could find no voice.

What if I disappoint you?

That is not possible.

I am not experienced in the art of lovemaking; I have little knowledge of what it entails, except for what you have shown me. Even as she spoke the words into his mind, she felt a flush rise against her cheeks at such a blunt admission.

His smile was tender. "My dearest Angel," he whispered, his fingertips lifting to cradle her jaw. "You think I can claim expertise? Yours are the only lips I have learned, yours the only skin I have caressed. And yours will be the only body I will worship forevermore, with my own. Together, we will teach each other, each of us master and student in this ultimate composition of our love."

His gentle words and the warm contact of his hands touched the essence of her soul, making Christine tremble with longing. His eyes promised what for months he'd denied them, and in their captivating green depths, she also witnessed the same tentative anticipation. Erik's reminder that this experience was also novel to him somehow reassured her. He had told her before, of course, but the vivid realization that he belonged to her, only her, stunned her mind and intoxicated her senses. The strong desire to know him fully as her husband banished the lingering shadows of doubt.

She could no longer bear to be apart from him and ached to give herself to him in the only way she never had. Uncertain of what to do next, her unsteady fingers went to the lacings of her gown, but his hands lowered to enfold hers, stopping her.

She looked at him, curious.

"I have long dreamt of this moment." His eyes smoldered as he brought her hands to his lips and kissed each one, leaving a tingle of fire in their wake. "Savor each sensation, Mon Ange. Allow me the pleasure to give you all the delight you can contain."

Heat flushed her face and she barely nodded. Her heart pounding, her eyes never left his as he gave a slow pull to the lacing of her gown until it loosened, then pushed the ruffled silk the rest of the way off her shoulders. He bent his head and she inhaled a sharp gasp as his lips covered the skin he'd just bared in sweet caresses, his breath warm against her skin. The tip of his hot tongue formed a slow trail along the line of her shoulder to the soft curves above her gown that made her go weak inside. He dropped to his knees, pushing the gown down further, his mouth worshipping her bare flesh as he went, sending heat into regions she never knew existed, making her gasp and tremble with the desire she'd always felt for him. The cloth slid past her stomach and hips, until it fell in a whisper of silk around her ankles.

With his hands cradling her waist, he drew back slightly to look upon her, his eyes wide in awe, his lips softly parted. His all-consuming gaze traveled over every inch of her white, unveiled form.

"Oh, Christine …"

Another blaze licked through her at the untainted emotion and adoring promise contained in those three whispered syllables. Unlike the blush of discomfort she'd known when the gypsies earlier bathed her, the flame of boldness now ignited to life inside, encouraged by her husband's response that she did, indeed, please him well.

"You are more beautiful than I imagined," he said hoarsely, his eyes ablaze with green fire as they lifted, caught, and held hers.

Under his gaze, she felt his love, a tangible force, but standing before him as he knelt at her feet, much as Eve must have stood before Adam, she knew awkwardness too. She clutched his arms to bring him up to her, and reading her intent, he moved to stand.

"Erik, I need you to love me."

"That is all I ever wanted, all I've ever done."

"No." She stared at him, emboldened. "You fail to understand. I need to feel your skin against mine, need you to make me whole. I have waited so very long for this night."

Her candid words expressed her heart as she pressed her hands against his muscled chest, her fingertips curling in the soft hair. The pulse in his throat beat in mad cadence as she lifted herself up on her toes to press a kiss to the heated skin there then flicked out her tongue, as he'd done to her. Loving the taste of him, her eager mouth began the downward trail her fingers had taken by the brook. As he had done to her, her tongue swept over his flat nipple, gently grazing it between her teeth.

With a sharp gasp, he twined his fingers in the back of her hair while his other arm swept her into a desperate embrace. Ribbons of shock raced through her to feel her bare breasts crushed against the heat of his powerful torso, making her feel weak but at the same time gloriously alive.

"My love … my wife." He whispered the last two words as if he could not yet dare to believe them, and she knew then that he'd been shadowed by his own fears.

"Is this but another dream?" Emotion choked his voice. "Are you truly mine? I can scarcely believe our quest for a life together is complete. Tell me I'll not awaken to find this yet another elusive vision. Tell me, Christine! I could not bear it if it were so."

She pulled her head away from his shoulder to look into his eyes, darkened with longing, rimmed with tears. Moved by similar emotion, her words trembled as she did, and she lifted her hands to his face. "This is real, Mon Ange, not an illusion, not a dream. Those endless longings we both shared to become one have finally and truly become the beginnings of our reality." She brushed her lips against his. "Our quest has ended but our journey has only begun."

"Christine …" He kept her held tight against him as he pressed his mouth to hers. His hungry tongue pushed past her receptive lips, and eagerly she opened her mouth wider. The sweet wine of his kisses drugged her, filled her, making her want so much more, though she had yet to understand all of what that entailed. Tonight, he would teach her, and she couldn't help a little shiver of excitement at the unveiling of the mystery. Her arms twined around his neck as his large hands smoothed twin paths of fire under the fall of her hair and down her back, adding to the heat that enflamed her blood.

He broke the kiss and swept her up into his arms, tremors of desire racing through his muscles. Breathless, Christine buried her lips against his skin, tracing moist kisses to his ear, thrilling when he let out a hoarse groan. He carried her past the silk wall of hanging tapestries that enclosed their marriage bed.

"With all that I am, I give myself to you." Her unsteady words came as little more than a breath. She didn't wish anything to mar this idyllic night and silently begged his trust as she ran her fingertips up his smooth jaw until they barely rested at the edge of his mask. "Now I ask for the same in return. Let there be no more hiding, no more barriers between us, Mon Ange. Shut me out no longer." She waited, showing him she would go no further unless he consented to her request.

His eyes both reassured and ignited, but the untroubled smile he gave shook her to the core of her soul. With it, she knew he had relinquished to her all of his trust. With it, she retained full hope that theirs would be a bond lacking in nothing.

"No more hiding, my beloved. No more barriers."

Her heart light with the joy that filled it, Christine removed the mask, her eyes never leaving his, and let the obstacle fall to the ground. She smiled, at last taking in the full splendor of his unique face: the rough, scarred wildness, as untamed as he, and the refined planes of smooth perfection.

As he laid her among the satin pillows with care, she cradled his strong jaw in her hands, her song a sweet hungry sigh. "Angel of Music, my King, my husband … now … at last … complete me."

I am your Angel of Music, his song whispered into her mind and heart as he joined her on their bed. He covered her mouth with another intoxicating kiss before moving his lips to her throat.

As I … forevermore … am yours ... She gasped and rolled her eyes closed in delight, as his heated mouth and artist's hands laid absolute ownership to her body, worshipping her, exhilarating her, enticing her …

No further words were exchanged aloud or in silence as their passion ignited, demanding all; a steady flame that burned with ever-rising intensity. His body trembled as he gently suckled the firm peak of her breast. Her body answered in kind as she arched into him, his touch setting a rapid path of fire deep into her belly. As he had done when he pulled away her gown, he gave the same tender attention to her other breast, then moved even lower, his soft hair brushing her sensitized skin as he did.

With his fingers he stroked every part of her body that his mouth did not caress, intent on knowing every inch of her; a composer with a cherished new instrument he yearned endlessly to play. He groaned, his eyes falling shut in wonder at her exquisite perfection.

Never had he truly believed such bliss could be his, could be theirs; once she finally made him see and perceive the truth of what he'd always wanted, that she did love and choose him, then fear had beset his heart that fate would rip away their shared dream. To know that the phenomenon of their union was actually happening - that she was his wife - made him desperate to know all of her at once; that, coupled with his desire of so many lonely years to make Christine his own, set off a tempest inside, making him wild and fervent in his advances.

The taut leash on his hunger for her snapped, his appetite insatiable. He required no experience to do what his hands and mouth had long craved. Frantic in his need, he created erotic moist paths along her trembling skin, eliciting from her sweet lips low, astonished sounds of pleasure, as at the same time he learned what excited her most.

He brushed the smooth skin of her hip with his warm tongue, his teeth nipping the flesh. Christine inhaled in shock as the fire grew even hotter and a raw, breathless hunger spiraled within her core. She wanted … she wanted … she didn't know what she wanted, except that he would never cease in his fiery onslaught of passion. As if answering her unspoken plea, his mouth trailed a path of flame across her quivering thigh, his large hands stroking sensuously along her hips and legs, and she whimpered yet again with a need she didn't understand.

His actions gentle but determined he moved her onto her side and stretched out behind her. Pressing in close, he curled his strong body into her soft one and explored the gentle slope of her shoulders, her sensitive nape, the sweet flesh of her back with his tongue, his teeth, his lips. His questing hand reached for her lush breast and squeezed, his fingers teasing the bud to ripen further. Giving a groan of pure lustful need, she pushed her hips back against his solid length and he growled low against her skin with the same frenzy of desire.

Still, he wanted more …

His tongue traced the curve of her spine while his hand caressed her stomach moving down to her soft curls. She drew an unsteady breath through her teeth. The sweet scent of her arousal almost drove him to madness as his lips blazed a course further downward, past her firm, smooth bottom, reaching her long, silken leg, while his fingertips traced feather-light trails along both. His mouth tasted the back of her thigh, firmly suckling the skin, further to the back of her knee. She let out a soft, raspy sigh, ending with a mewl of his name in urgent supplication. Barely able to restrain from taking her then, he quickly rid himself of the remainder of his clothes and gently rolled her over onto her back.

Her black velvet eyes, glassy with desire, widened with both shock and longing at the sight of his full nakedness, her flushed skin coloring a deeper rose as she stared at the strong evidence of his own need. She inhaled a little gasp of fear mixed with wonder, and he realized she now fully understood what it meant to become one.

"Christine …"

His breathing unsteady, he wanted to reassure her not to be afraid. But still hungry to learn all of her and knowing his desire would soon demand release, he impatiently slid his hands along her thighs, parting them, and pressed his mouth to the center of her damp curls. She let out a guttural cry unlike any he'd heard before and arched into him, all anxiety forgotten.

Panting for breath, Christine drowned in waves of heat, a swirling inferno her lover created and fast pulled her into as his warm lips sought out her deepest secrets, drinking from the well of her desire, and … Mon Dieu! … his tongue … Her eyes fluttered closed as she moaned in dark pleasure. An agony and an ecstasy such as she'd never known made her body violently tremble, made her lean into him and move against him with an urgency beyond comprehension, until suddenly the earth vanished and she shattered apart in a thousand bright stars.

He moved over her then, his heated body covering hers, flesh against soaked flesh, petals clinging to skin. In the midst of the pleasure she felt the pain, as his hard majesty met the resistance of her tender maidenhead. Her body involuntarily tightened at the immense size of him, but her return to unease was not enough to quench her desperate need for his total possession.

"Christine?" he whispered, smoothing her damp hair from her brow, his face beautiful in its concern. "I do not wish to hurt you, but there is no other way."

She anxiously nodded, squeezing her eyes shut and wordlessly pulling him closer, welcoming the pain if it meant finally she would have all of him.

Groaning, the need to claim her beyond what he could bear any longer, Erik plunged deep between her tight walls that stretched wide to receive him, quickly tearing away the final barrier, while catching her sharp cry in his tender kiss.

Tears leaked from her eyes, of joy and of pain: the incredible fullness of her beloved inside bringing both. He slid his mouth from hers suddenly and bowed his forehead to her shoulder. And she knew in that moment she would always be in awe of this complicated, exciting man, who possessed both a passionate and fiery nature and a gentle and sensitive soul.

She cradled his head and pulled it back to look at him, all the love she felt for her Angel, now her husband, overflowing from her heart and spilling into every part of her being. Gently she brushed away the trails of moisture that wet the scarred flesh and the flawless beneath his passion-glazed eyes, running her thumbs to his temples.

"It's all right." Her voice trembled, little more than a breath, and she gave a soft nod. "It's all right."

He stared at her intently, his sorrow at hurting her giving way to the same wondering jubilation that filled her heart at their long coveted union; and he gave a hoarse little laugh of awed disbelief, much as he'd done when she first kissed him what seemed an eternity ago, five levels below the opera house. Just as on that night, she now looked at his beautiful mouth and answered him with a tremulous smile, her eyes then lifting to meet his.

"At last," she whispered, "I belong to you. Utterly and completely. I am yours, Erik."

Something wild and feral darkened his eyes at her throaty avowal, making her breath catch with desire, as the sharp pain at last faded away and the urgent need was reborn.

"Mine," he growled low against her neck near her ear, nipping at the skin there with his teeth and making her gasp in shocked delight. And then, more soothingly, like a song, "Mon Amour … Mon Ange … Ma Reine … Ma Christine …"

His rhythm deep and sensual, he purred each endearment with each stroke as he began slowly to move inside her, rendering her breathless, instantly taking her to an even higher realm of profound pleasure, of unashamed need … and soon teaching her the full extent of rapture.

Together, they composed an unwritten symphony for one another alone; a passionate melody they would learn to the last expressed note and perform without end.

The stars followed their courses in the universe. The moon changed the tides of the oceans. While inside a small tent in Seville, the two halves of Music at last became whole. Beyond anything once whispered below the earth, beyond any song that had been cried unto the heavens, enclosed within their small world they discovered one magical, shared voice in their fulfilled destiny to love one another.

And in this secret knowledge, two souls became forever bound ... yet at the same time were never more freed.

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~*Finis*~

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xXx

A/N: Thank you so much for your reviews, your encouragement and your support in all this. :) Also, if you'd like to see a manip I made of this last scene, please check out my profile.

*Ma Reine- My Queen; Mon Amour- My Love (Thanks to Canna for pointing out the correct usage of the French! :))

The sequel to this story, "The Treasure" is in the process of being posted now- but please be warned, it is M rated, for explicit sex and also for other adult themes. It takes up the morning after this chapter.

If you should read this after I've finished, I would still love to hear from you and what you think, and thank you in advance for taking the time to do so.

Adieu, dear readers, it has been a most splendid affair!