Lullaby of the Bells

Summary: Claude Raines 1943 Phantom. "Missing" of "deleted/Alternate" scene from the end of the movie. E/C. Blatant fluff alert.

A/N: If anyone has this DVD and had looked through the extras. You'll find a quote by Susanna Foster, which was quite sweet and will help fuel and Raines' Phantom Phan's obsession.

And leave my fluff alone!

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Christine stared in awe as the Phantom played his concerto, perfectly in time with the music above their heads. His eyes were lock on hers as she slowly stood, drawn by the music.

"Sing Christine! Sing!" Claudin exclaimed, his fingers flying across the keyboard of the ancient piano he had dragged into the depths of the opera house.

Christine hesitantly opened her mouth and began to sing; frightened, yet moved by the music. Her voice perfectly melding with that of the piano's tune. An insane urge to remove her kidnapper's mask overcame her and she crept closer to him. Claudin, happily trapped in a music-induced trance, didn't seem to notice her creeping closer and closer. Salt and pepper hair fell over the forehead of the mask as Christine reached forward and ripped the mask away from his face. He let out a cry and stood up suddenly, knocking her backwards. She got one good glimpse of his poor, acid ruined face before his shaking hands came up to hide the sight from her.

"Christine! Why!" he cried out.

The Phantom sat down heavily on the makeshift piano bench, hands clasped tightly over his horribly disfigured face. Christine, suddenly filled with a terrible sense of regret, hesitantly tiptoed over to him. She realized that he had been her mysterious benefactor. He had been the one who had paid for all her music lessons. He had watched her night after night, secretly loving her from afar.

Christine laid a gentle hand on his shaking shoulder. He was not a monster. He was not a Phantom. He was only poor Erique Claudin; violinist in the Opera's orchestra for twenty years. A man who had never been anything but kind to her. Under her small hand, Claudin had gone quite still. She sat down next to him on the piano bench and pulled away his hands from where they were tightly clamped around his face.

"Monsieur Claudin…" she trailed off, not sure exactly what to say to him. "Monsieur… Thank you… For everything you've done for me."

Poor Claudin's eyes widened as she leaned forward and laid a gentle kiss on his lips.

"I'm sorry… I'm sorry I didn't thank you earlier. Only I was too silly to realize…" she murmured.

The Phantom seemed to be fighting a battle with himself. Was she only doing this to gain his trust so that she could escape? Claudin again began to shake as the young ingénue scooted closer to him and timidly laid her head on his shoulder.

"I…" he stammered.

"Play for me?" she asked gently.

He nodded, his fingers returning to the ivory keys.

"Hear those bells ringing,

Soft and low,

Bringing peace through the twilight glow,

Calling to everyone,

Night has begun,

Tired from your weary toil,

Day's work is done,

Hear them ring,

While my love and I,

Drift and dream,

To their lullaby."

Christine's voice and Claudin's playing faded away into a mere echo. The two sat in momentary silence, Christine's head upon his shoulder. He turned towards her slightly. The woman he had loved for so long touched his wounded cheek.

"Does it.. does it hurt?" she asked, referring to the newly healed scars.

"Only a little. Only when I'm very tired." he said sadly.

"I'm sorry."

"For what, my dear child?"

"For not… for not being able to give you what you needed."

He chuckled, a rich sound that came from deep in his chest. It was the first time he had cause to laugh or smile in a very long time.

"Christine… it's perfectly alright. I'm an old man, you're a beautiful young woman. I never expected anything… anything from you. I was perfectly content to be in your shadow. To love you from afar." Erique said with a gentle smile.

With that smile, Christine saw a glimpse of the old Claudin she had known. A kindly older man with no thought of murder of blackmail on his mind. Had she realized what he had done for her before…

"If only…" she started.

"If I had been rich… If I had been a decade or so younger… Perhaps you could have loved me." he smiled. "It's alright, Christine."

"Why can't I love you now?" she blurted out.

"You're a good child, Christine. A good child to let me hope… let me dream."

She was suddenly filled with a sort of giddiness.

"Erique." She said.

The older man's good eyebrow raised at her usage of his given name.

"Erique. I'm not trying to fool you. I'm not stringing you along. We can go away from here! You can teach me music! We can go somewhere no one knows us! I can learn more about you. I could love you! We could be together, Erique. Anything is possible!" she said excitedly, clutching his hands in hers.

Claudin seemed unsure of what to say or do. He opened his mouth to speak, but just as he did, the door to his hideout slammed open and the baritone and the gendarme burst in.

"Christine!" Raoul and Anatole cried out.

The gendarmes wielded a pistol and pointed it in the direction of the Phantom. Erique shoved Christine out of harm's way. Anatole, at the same time realizing the shot could very well hit the woman all three men loved, parried Raoul's pistol. The shot ricocheted off the ceiling, causing an immediate chain reaction. Claudin's eyes widened as the ceiling began to cave in.

"Christine! Run!" he cried out.

"Erique!"

Anatole and Raoul dragged her out of danger, across the lake and up through the cellars. Tears streaked down Christine's cheeks.

"I barely knew him. But I loved him… I barely knew him, yet I always felt drawn to him… With a sort of pity, yes. But also…"

With love.

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PPPFFFFBFBBBBBBBTTTTT! If you don't like it. If you haven't got something nice to say. Don't say it. I was just randomly inspired to write this after watch the CR POTO about eighteen times. Please review. Constructive criticism only, flames with be used to toast Evil Reviewer shape marshmallows.