He turned his eyes back to the road ahead of him. The horses, four black stallions who rode like the furies, like the noble steeds of the apocalypse, drove the carriage forward with a vengeance.

Erik supposed it was natural in a way that in this moment, stumbling blindly towards a place of death with her (beloved, cherished, seraphim- voice betrayer) that he felt at peace with himself for the first time in his wretched existence. Or perhaps ironic that Christine should feel so comfortable crying in front of him when she believed he was a faceless stagecoach and not the masked fiend with a burning obsession for her.

He recalled that he hadn't seen her cry before. Not even when she had removed his mask and stared in innocent revulsion at his face.

The horses stomped through the swamp in a delirious speed. The mud jumped up, free from the earth at last and flew through the air like grey-brown birds before splunking back into their puddles. Christine was fingering the half-decayed roses behind him. He worried that she might prick her finger and fall asleep forever. Like in the fairy story.

His thoughts then turned to that boy, that disgustingly beautiful boy who would risk life and limb to save her from her dreaded tormentor. Erik smiled bitterly at that, his already malformed lips becoming hideous with their unfamiliar twisting. What terrible being wrote the score for this opera that he now was a key player in? How was it that all he felt was the desire to protect, to love, to worship the young girl behind him whose devil horses he mastered to take her to her sanctuary? A sanctuary of decay and memories.

That was what he was now. Erik wasn't ignorant of the girls' painful grasping to the memory of her long deceased father. He was now replacing a dead man as the beloved father figure.

The word incest fluttered through his mind like a distorted butterfly.

But he would protect her, even from himself. He was like Charon crossing the dead river with her beautiful soul as his only fare. Did she know that he would always love her, protect her, be with her, even if it was only in the fatherly aspect that she so desired from him?

And did she know that he was hard-pressed not to turn this damn carriage around and take the girl somewhere where he could keep her away from the world and that damned boy forever?

My love. . .

When they reached the sanctuary of graves he watched as she slowly exited the cab. He chanced a glance, the snow reflecting off his white mask, at her back as she slowly walked, like a black bride to her groom, towards her fathers' grave.