Of Elysian Peace
As the foggy predawn hours cast a myriad of shadows into the farthest corners of her boudoir, Christine Daaé awoke slowly from the blissful embrace of a beautiful dream. With a sleepy smile curving her lips, she stretched languidly beneath her covers only to encounter a very solid, very warm obstacle curved against her side. Her heart stilled for a moment, then began to race furiously beneath her breast. Uncurling her fingers, she pressed her open palm against said obstacle and felt the soft give of flesh. Her fuzzy eyes snapped open and struggled to focus on her hand, resting artlessly on its perch atop a broad masculine chest. Her gaze slowly traveled up over the rigid angles and smooth contours to settle on the familiar features of her lover.
The dream lost its hold completely as she looked into the vaguely amused green-blue eyes that had been tenderly watching her awaken. Christine felt a slow, welcoming smile curve her lips as she raked her gaze over Erik's unmasked features. The brilliant glow of morning bathed him in a halo of light, and in that moment, she felt certain that he truly could have been the angel that she had always thought him to be.
He is my angel, she silently rejoiced.
A flicker of relief danced in his eyes as he murmured, "Good morning, mon ange."
She reached out to stroke his cheek, whispering, "Last night was not a dream." She'd had so very many for so long, and always they would disappear with the morning light. Yet Erik remained solid beneath her touch. "You're still here," she said in awe.
Shadows danced into his eyes, and he frowned. "Would you prefer that I not be?"
"No," she was quick to insist as she took his face between both of her hands and leveled her dark, serious eyes upon his. "Do not ever ask such a thing, Erik."
He half shrugged uncertainly, "I thought that perhaps you might regret your impulsiveness by the light of day."
Still he doubts me!
Christine would shake him in frustration if his utter lack of confidence in such intimate matters did not break her heart so. "I have no regrets, my love," she reassured him before pressing a gentle kiss to the corner of his mouth. His eyes fell closed in pleasure.
My poor Erik, she thought, so starved for affection. I pray my love will sustain him.
Pulling back slightly to gaze upon him again, she lazily trailed her fingers across his throat and along his shoulder. The previous night had been a blur of sensation, and she had failed to properly savor him. Erik had experienced no such failing, but had, after his first tentative endeavor, explored her body with the thoroughness that she had come to expect of him. Her stubborn modesty had protested such intimate discoveries, but after being so long denied the joys of the flesh, her angel could not be satisfied with merely a taste. Her own initial discomfort at his possession had soon faded into pleasure.
Now free (well, nearly) from the grip of desire, her curiosity returned in force and her attention was quickly captured by the faint white lines that peeked out over the rise of his shoulder and retreated down to cross his back in angry scores. Whilst they had made love, Christine had pressed her hands over those scars that had remained hidden from her view, but now her heart constricted anew at the visible proof of the brutality delivered upon him by an inhuman race.
Her eyes journeyed down over his chest, and she began to take note of more and more aged wounds that she had failed to see through the haze of her passion. Her hand fell from his shoulder to his side, where she began to outline one jagged slash of raised skin that ran the length from hip to ribs. She was not even aware that she was crying again until she felt Erik's fingers softly brushing at her tears.
Cupping her chin with his hand, he raised her eyes to his and smiled wryly, warning, "You shall go mad attempting to catalogue all of my scars, Christine. They are far too many to count, and not all of them lay upon my flesh."
She knew his words were no exaggeration. How could one man have survived so much abuse? Her hand trembled against his skin as she raggedly whispered, "But this one looks to be…a knife?"
"It is," he confirmed gravely, and Christine choked back a sob while images of her poor angel, gored and fighting for his life, flashed into her mind. "A souvenir from my days in the East…and, no," he added quickly, "I will not tell you any more. Most especially not here in the sanctity of your bed," he smiled softly, "where you have blessed me with the most precious of gifts."
Christine shook her head, forcibly biting back her useless tears. They served no purpose. She offered Erik a sad trembling smile, and confessed, "I have only given you that which has always been yours." She would never again deny him. Her life had been irrevocably linked with his long ago, upon her father's first tale of the Angel of Music, and a blissful sense of peace settled over her with the acceptance of her destiny. "My heart, my body," she whispered, "my soul."
Flames ignited within the glittering depths of his eyes, and she was helplessly drawn into them. His thumb traced her jaw as he worshipped her with his gaze. "Your soul is a beautiful thing, mon ange," he drawled seductively.
"As is yours," she said, and meant it. Beneath the pain and anger and hell of his past, Erik possessed a beauty that transcended the darkness, and she welcomed him as he claimed her lips in adoration. Christine was at a loss to determine whether the salt that she tasted in their kiss was from her tears...or his.
"We have much yet to discuss, my dear," he finally murmured against her cheek. "I find myself suddenly unwilling to leave this fine city."
His words fell over her with resound, sending tentacles of ice racing to smother the warmth in her blood. She had forgotten that he was only in Venice temporarily, and that he had a life in Milan, miles away from her. "Then don't," she demanded imperiously.
Erik sighed, "I am afraid that I must. I have business in Milan." Christine's heart began to twist in misery, and at her worried frown, he soothingly added, "Though if all goes well, I shall be returning in the spring to begin construction of the doge's new villa."
A tiny wing of relief fluttered within her, and she exhaled the breath that she had been holding. "The spring is still so far away, Erik," she pouted, "and I cannot leave the opera now." Nor in the spring, truth be told, at least not permanently. She had a contract to honor and she could not break it. Even if she could, she had no desire to do so…she loved La Fenice.
Yet she loved Erik even more, and to be parted from him now was unacceptable.
"I know," he said on a sigh, and then he chuckled, shaking his head at the absurdity of their situation. "What exemplary timing we have, my dear, to have finally found our way back to one another only to face the impossibility of being together."
"It is not impossible, Erik," she rebuked sternly before a mischievous grin appeared. "Only impractical."
He laughed again and pressed a quick kiss to her smiling lips. Sighing again, he reasoned, "And only for a time, I suppose. We are certain to think of some arrangement that will suit our needs"
Her gaze lingered on his tempting mouth, and she leaned forward until she could nearly taste his lips. "And Milan is not so very far from Venice," she agreed, though it seemed a world away at the moment.
"No," he said, and closed the scant distance between them. He feathered kisses down her chin, murmuring between them, "and the railway makes the distance so much easier to traverse."
"Yes," she sighed as his wicked mouth moved along her throat…and lower still! "Oh, yes, Erik."
"Oh, Christine," he echoed with a smile in his voice. "Whatever am I to do with you?"
"Anything you wish, my love," she promised as she surrendered herself to him once again.
She knew that it would never be a fairytale romance, of course. Erik was too volatile, too demanding and too scarred (emotionally) by his past….most of which was still shrouded in mystery. Christine loved him despite all of this, or perhaps because of it. He challenged her and soothed her all at once, and she could not imagine being without him now that Fate had brought them together again. Nor did she fear their undoubtedly stormy future…for she knew that they would always return to one another, like Persephone to Hades.
She had run from darkness, and he had hidden from light.
Yet they both longed for Elysium.
A/N: So there we have it. The end…of the beginning. Please watch for the (very) soon to be released sequel, Too Long In Winter, complete with (some) actual plot.
I felt that the story of their rediscovery needed to be broken into two parts so that this one would be a stand alone piece. There will be much more angst and fluff in store for the new lovers…and you are all invited.
Thank you all for sharing this adventure with me.