---This story is an alternate ending of POTO. Hope you like it!

The characters of Christine and Erik are not mine (Gaston LeRoux original author), but the events afterward in this story are according to me. I love to read Phantom stories, so feel free to comment and/or tell me about yours. ---

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After the Opera

Chapter I- Raoul:

Erik opened the door to his house on the lake and found Christine weeping. When she saw him enter, she stifled her tears, wiping them away hastily and turning back to the book in her hand. Erik stood staring at her for an indecisive moment, then turned on his heel and went into his room, slamming the door shut, and began playing his organ. However, his thoughts were elsewhere. Finally, unable to concentrate, his fingers stopped their dance abruptly, and he stood and made his way back through his house to the lake. He leaped into his boat and rowed with strong, powerful strokes across the dark waters.

As Erik made his way into the deepest cellars of the Opera, his tears wet on his cheeks and his lips still burning from his kiss to Christine, he reproached himself for what he was doing. "She will never be yours, Erik, if you bring back her little playfellow." His heart lurched as he thought of the hatred he had for that boy, Christine's childhood sweetheart. Raoul had such blind love for her. The boy could not even keep his head in a dangerous situation, even as he had tried to "rescue" her from Erik. A smile twisted Erik's face as he thought of the little Vicomte in his mirrored room. The boy had completely lost all rational thought.

"He survived by the guidance of the Daroga. In spite of my warnings, the Daroga still reappears." Erik shook his head. "If that Persian shows his face around my house…" Erik let his threat trail off. The pleadings of Christine echoed in his ears. He touched his face where her tears had caressed his skin.

Erik slipped through the darkness silently, not needing light to show him the curves and paths of the cellars. He descended below the fifth and entered the Communists' dungeon. Raoul sat against the stone wall, chains wrapped around his wrists. He did not see Erik until he felt his presence at his side, and the Vicomte sat up suddenly, beginning to speak.

Erik interrupted. "Come with me to Christine," said the monster hoarsely, and Raoul silently and obediently rose to follow the shadow before him to the house on the lake.

Christine looked up as the door opened. Erik entered, filling the door, and then Raoul stepped inside behind him. Christine gasped as he emerged behind Erik and stood as he rushed to her and gathered her in his arms. They kissed before Erik, who stood silently in the doorway. When they pulled away from each other, Erik, his heart wrenching, took their hands and placed them together. He drew from his vest pocket a gold ring—the ring Christine had lost beside Apollo's lyre. He placed it on Christine's hand.

"Please wear this—and think from time to time of your poor Erik…swear to return when I am dead…you will come back soon, I think…cross from the Rue Scribe…and bury me with this ring…." Erik told her where to find and bury his body. Christine swore to do as he said.

A tear slipped down Erik's cheek and fell. Raoul took Christine's hand and led her to the door. She was about to cross the threshold of the house on the lake, when she turned back to Erik, who stood alone in the middle of the Louis-Philippe room. She reached up and gently removed his mask. Taking his face in her hands, she kissed Erik's forehead softly. Then Christine returned to Raoul, and they left silently. The door shut behind them with a finalizing click.

Tears coursed from Erik's yellow eyes, and he sank to the carpet, weeping. He rocked back and forth, hugging himself, his insides rent with pain. His throat choking with emotion, he gasped for breath, letting forth a great cry as his heart and soul tore, and knew he was dying from love.

He crawled toward the door and reached to open it, hoping to catch one last glimpse of his angel.

She stood with Raoul before the phantom's dark boat, swaying gently on the lake waters. Before she stepped inside, she turned to smile at Raoul and to kiss him quickly. As she moved to climb into the boat, she slipped on the wet stones at the edge of the water. With a gasp, she fell into the waiting arms of the lake and disappeared beneath the surface. Raoul stood for a moment, astonished, then threw himself down at the edge, calling her name.

Erik hurled his cloak aside and drove in after Christine, leaving Raoul on the surface.

Erik groped in the inky darkness, his yellow eyes narrowing to locate Christine. His hand finally caught in a silky web, and he realized it was Christine's hair. He gave a kicked through the water and caught her, placing his hands under her knees and back, feeling a tingle up his arms as he did so. He pushed off the bottom of the lake, knifing through the heaviness towards the surface. With a rush, his head emerged above the water, and he inhaled the sharp air. He laid Christine on the bank and bent over her, water dripping from his clothes in puddles around him. She did not move.

"Christine!" Raoul cried, dropping to his knees beside her. He tried to shake her shoulder.

Erik brushed the boy aside and turned Christine over. He struck her back sharply.

In a crazed frenzy, Raoul took hold of Erik's arm, attempting to stop him. Erik pushed him away roughly. "Her lungs are filled with water," he hissed at the ignorant Raoul, striking her again. Christine convulsed and then coughed violently. Water spilled onto the stones. The coughing and gasping continued. Still, she still could not seem to get a breath.

Erik turned her onto her back and placed his hands on her abdomen, experiencing the same tingling feeling as before. He pressed down and water bubbled out of her mouth. Erik bent his head and placed his lip against hers and exhaled his breath into her lungs. He saw her diaphragm rise, and he pressed down once more, the air hissing as it left her throat. He breathed his life into her again, and this time she exhaled on her own, inhaling shortly after. Christine coughed, and Erik helped her sit up, one hand holding hers and the other on the small of her back. The fear that had constricted his heart a moment before dissipated.

Raoul reached for her hand and brought it to his lips. Christine opened her eyes and smiled at him. Erik took in the ironic picture. Christine, pale as death, stared into the eyes of the man she loved, completely unruffled at her side. Her rescuer, who would have died in her place had he been given the chance, was forgotten, kneeling, drenched and heartbroken, beside her as well.

A small sound caught his attention, and Erik ignored the couple to focus his ear, not turning toward the noise. As quick as a snake, he slipped noiselessly back into the dark water.

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On the other shore the agents de police sat in the darkness, their revolvers trained on the forms across the silver lake. One shook with fear; he brushed away the sweat on his forehead with his sleeve. His fingers also slick, he wiped them on his uniform and shifted his revolver.

"Have you heard the rumors about the ghost?" he asked the other two nervously. The second man ignored him, straining his eyes to make out the figures.

The other answered, kneeling behind the first, "I've heard he walks silently, and the only part of him you can see is his yellow eyes."

The first nodded, a noise from the opposite bank causing him to turn back. He kept speaking.

"They also say that he sometimes wears a flaming death's head—that he has a magical lasso, which he uses to catch those who—Laurent?"

He turned as he felt a slight breath of wind, and his eyes widened in horror to see no one behind him. He called the man's name again in the darkness and shivered. He took a shaky breath and as he did, felt something tighten around his throat. In a moment too fast for him to give a cry of surprise, he was yanked from his feet upwards into the air, his boot connecting with the second policeman's head below.

The last two images he saw he saw were the ground disappearing below him in a haze of black and twin yellow lights above him. He gasped for air without success one last time, and his vision went black.

---

The second policeman ignored the ranting of the other two. He aimed his revolver at the two figures in the distance. He shifted it slightly when he saw one was a woman. She was lying down, the other bent over her. Was she hurt? Or dead? And who was the other? He had heard rumors of a mysterious maniac who lived in the opera and had kidnapped a young soprano. The policeman tightened his finger on the trigger of his revolver.

Light exploded in his vision as something collided with his head. He was vaguely aware of the kick of the revolver in his hand as he fell to the ground, senseless. He slipped into darkness.

---

Erik pulled the three bodies to the entrance of the Rue Scribe—two unconscious and one dead. He easily dropped them outside into the street and turned back to the lake. That was the moment that Christine's cry first reached his ears.

He sprinted back to his lake and dove into the waters, crossing it quickly with large strokes. As he hauled himself up onto the bank, he saw Christine bent over Raoul, her forehead against his, weeping. She clutched Raoul's shirt and moaned.

Erik knelt next to Christine and gently pulled her away from Raoul. A dark stain spread from the left side of Raoul's chest. Erik touched the stain, and his fingers came away sticky with blood. Erik felt Raoul's pulse and placed a hand over Raoul's mouth, but no breath touched his fingers.

Erik turned back to Christine, who was staring wide-eyed at Raoul, crystal tears slipping from her eyes. Erik placed an arm around her, and she collapsed against him, burying her face in his shirt and soaking it with her tears. He glanced at Raoul before him and felt nausea grow in his stomach. He had killed many men, but seeing Raoul, cut off from life by another, made him sick.

Was this his fault? Could he have prevented the intruder before he—

Erik started. Did Christine know about the policeman across the lake? Did she believe he had killed Raoul? Any explanation he made now would sound like an excuse.

He stood and went inside his house. He retrieved a blanket and brought it outside to cover Raoul, then gently picked up the weeping Christine. He laid her on a couch inside. Her clothes were still wet from her fall, so he wrapped her in a blanket.

Erik went to close the door and, returning, saw Christine shaking with grief, her eyes closed to him. He knelt on the floor beside her and wiped away her tears and brushed her hair out of her eyes. He ran his hand along her face and began to hum softly. Her expression relaxed, and her breathing became less ragged. Erik stroked her cheek and sang quietly until his angel fell into a deep, exhausted sleep.