A/N: Hey there! I'm so sorry about the delay; I meant to get this up several days ago but my English teacher (who is also the incredibly intimidating and difficult advanced composition instructor) decided to give us an 800 point essay due in five days!! You can imagine my anxiety. So without further ado, I present you with Chapter 12 :)

Thank you ever so much to my reviewers: Mademoiselle Christine Daaé, iluvmyphantom, phantomphorever, ShadowDragonWings, my French class sidekick Ashley and, of course, the crazyamazing Mz. Muffin

Disclaimer: Don't own 'em. Duh.

She came back to him in pieces. No matter how much he willed her to leave him, to cease her insistent haunting, she remained fixed in his mind. She would always be there singing songs in his head.

"This haunted face

Holds no horror for me now

It's in your soul

That the true distortion lies"

Erik tried unsuccessfully to steady his breathing as her eyes bore into his own. It was if she had suddenly realized what everyone else knew him to be—a monster. 'She has failed me,' he thought to himself, 'almost as greatly as I have failed her.'

Erik willed himself to wake from this familiar nightmare to no avail.

"The tears I might have shed

For your dark fate

Grow cold, and turn

To tears of hate!"

His vivid memory and broken heart brought her back to him relentlessly. No matter where he turned, she continued to plague his mind.

"Christine, I love you…"

She stepped towards his broken form where he kneeled on the stone floor. The look she gave him made his heart stop. This was her choice.

Slowly, carefully, she pressed the ring into his palm. She closed his fingers around it, her own small hands remaining on his larger ones for an extended moment. The words she didn't say resounded in his head. 'Forget me…'

He bolted upright, sweating from the anxieties that plagued his mind. A soft knock on his door heralded him from his desk, where he had fallen asleep, in a foul mood. "What could possibly be of such importance as to come to me, Barlet?"

"If you please, Monsignor, a party of two has arrived and requested admittance to speak with you." Pierre Barlet trembled slightly as he delivered his message. The Master despised contact with others and had little tolerance for servants that spoke before spoken to, even if it was to send a message.

"Turn them out; I'm not receiving visitors. And make sure not to bother me again, or you will join them on the streets." Erik was thoroughly annoyed. He did not need this right now—he had enough to be worrying about.

"M-Monsignor, I think—I think you may just want t-to take this particular call." Barlet held onto the door frame to steady himself. He had known the Master for all twenty years he had owned this estate and only once seen his temper unleashed, thank God that it had not been directed towards him.

Erik growled low in his throat. "I should not need to warn you to refrain from trying my patience. But due to your impudent behavior, it seems I need to refresh your memory."

"It's a Monsieur Khan, Monsignor, and a Mademoiselle Daaé…please sir, the young lady begged me to hold company with you…"

"What?!" The Master's brilliant eyes swirled with emotion—rage, shock, confusion.

Fearing for far more than his job, Barlet bowed and managed to say, "They are waiting in the drawing room, Monsignor," before running down the hall and tripping on the top of the back staircase.

Erik ran his fingers through his disheveled hair in frustration. "Damn her—what could she possibly want now?" He strode to his bedchambers to clean up. He would be damned if she saw him like this over her!

OOOOO

Christine sat beside Nadir in the drawing room nearly shredding the lace on her gown in her anxious state. This was it—the confrontation. It was going to be harder this time, for she had grown up greatly since the first time she betrayed him. Still, she wasn't sure what to expect since Erik was so unpredictable. One thing was certain in her mind nonetheless, winning him back would be far from easy.

Nadir patted her leg reassuringly and gave her a kind smile. He too recognized that the task in front of her was immensely difficult, but knew that Erik's love for her would conquer all; if it would not eventually eradicate the current problems in their relationship, then it would his entire being. It had already destroyed him greatly, and Nadir recognized that his friend was nearing his breaking point. More strain would speed up the inevitable death of his whole self. For both Christine and Erik's sakes, he hoped that it was not already too late to mend the crack which had become a rift.

Christine felt his presence before she heard or saw him. Whenever he neared her she felt herself being drawn towards him with an invisible force. Her heart swelled with love for him and desperate, pleading hope that the wrongs she had committed against him could be undone. The bittersweet music that he sung in her head swirled around, increasing in volume from a faint pianissimo to a powerful fortissimo. She closed her eyes and reveled in the passionate pull of her soul towards his. When she reopened them, she was met with a sight that stopped everything around and inside her.

OOOOO

A/N: Alright dears, review time!

Yes, mega short cliffhanger!

Review and I shall remedy your pain quickly.

Mwahahaha.

JK, keep scrolling : )

OOOOO

Erik felt his breath catch in his throat as his eyes settled on Christine. She was even more beautiful then he had remembered, yet an overwhelming sadness surrounded her. She had not ever looked this wretched—not even when she first returned to him. More than anything he wanted to take her into his arms and make her forget the uncalled-for rudeness which he had treated her with not so long ago. He realized now that if it was anyone's fault, it was his own. And yet…as much as he longed to do such things he could not. The trust he had in her was too weak and the pain he felt was too great. If only for a short while, she had given him peace, happiness, and love—three things he never expected to meet with personally. And for that he was grateful. Now that Erik had come to this revelation, he wished her to disappear from his life at this precise moment so that nothing she could say or do would taint the acceptance that he had come to. He recognized now that she belonged in his dreams—where though she could not touch him with all the wonderful emotions she had evoked in him, she could also not hurt him any longer. The lesson he had learned in his childhood had proved itself true—within the fairy tale realm of imagination you are free from feeling and therefore free from life.

Without a single word, Erik turned on his heel and retraced his steps back up the stairs. He knew how he would survive from now on—the same way he had all his life before actual contact with Christine was introduced. It seemed like ages since he had lived within himself and reality was so tangible to him now. 'I will conquer this,' he vowed to himself, 'or else I shall loose all grasp on sanity.' Strange it was though, how in order to keep his reason he must abandon all conventional forms of it.

A cry broke through his meditation suddenly as Christine tore after him in a very unladylike fashion. "Erik, please," her small, warm hands wrapped around his arm and it was as if the skin beneath the many layers of clothing was on fire—he suddenly wished he had just come down in his shirtsleeves so that her skin might have actually touched his own…for the first time in weeks. "Let me explain." The pleading look in her adoring eyes threw him for a loop; it seemed a complete role-reversal.

Erik sighed wearily, "I cannot keep doing this, Christine. Your games and circles tire me. Do you not see how much it has already cost me to let you betray me time and time again?" Christine looked down in shame. She had been rather selfish in the past—wanting him only when it was convenient and beneficial to her. But as the months passed since her knowing him—as a man that is, living and breathing—she had begun to love him, or so she thought. Now as she took in his countenance—handsome as always, yet pained, his eyes showing his emotional exhaustion—she realized how egotistical she had behaved. And perhaps part of that was Erik's own fault—the way he fawned over her and belittled himself—but she must now take responsibility for all those horrible mistakes, both intentional and subconscious.

She wondered if that meant that she was to respect his wishes and leave him once and for all, but surely that was not what he wanted most! If only she could convey her sorrow and guilt for deceiving him and show him her honest intentions of devoting the rest of her life to his happiness. So in the only manner she knew how, she opened her mouth, whet her lips, breathed deeply with her diaphragm as Erik had taught her so long ago, and attempted an apology.

You gave me your music,

I made your song take wing,

And then, how I repaid you,

Denied you, and betrayed you…

But I was bound to love you,

When I heard you sing,

And though, I have deceived you,

I love you and I need you…

So say you'll share with me one love, one lifetime

Let me lead you from your solitude

Say you'll want me with you here, beside you

Anywhere you go, let me go too

Erik, that's all I ask of you

"Please Erik, I never meant that fight to effect you so deeply. Can we not simply put it behind us?"

Looking back on the disagreement, Erik failed to see what had upset him so greatly. The only possible explanation was that whenever they discussed their relationship or when someone mentioned Raoul's name it was if all progress between Erik and Christine had vanished and they were back to walking on eggshells once more. But really, Christine had been right—that argument would not have occurred if it weren't for Erik's damned self-loathing and expectance for everyone else to do the same, even Christine. It should not be Christine apologizing right now, it should be him. But it wasn't as if he could just control his outbursts of jealousy and self-hatred. How could he ever explain to her the difficulty he had with their relationship. He constantly doubted himself, not due to any of Christine's faults, but his own. He was getting better, but he needed her to be patient. "We can only try, mon ange, but perchance that is all it will take."

A/N: Okay, so a bit better than cutting it off earlier, no? Review Please, I love you all!!