Voi Che Sapete

Let Me Tell You of Love…

I no longer know what I am or what I'm doing,
Now I'm burning, now I'm made of ice ...
Every woman makes me change color,
Every woman makes me tremble.
At the very word love or beloved
My heart leaps and pounds,
And to speak of it fills me
With a longing I can't explain!
I speak of love when I'm awake,
I speak of it in my dreams,
To the stream, the shade, the mountains,
To the flowers, the grass, the fountains,
To the echo, the air, the breezes,
Which carry away with them
The sound of my fond words ...
And if I've none to hear me
I speak of love to myself.

Chapter One: A Notice

Erik is dead.

The paper promptly fell from Christine's hand and landed in a pile on the floor along with all the other Sunday articles.

Raoul, looking up from the business section cast an amused smile at his fiancé, now bathed in the weak morning light of early March.

"Enough news for you today then?" He questioned idly as he folded the paper and cast it into the disheveled pile with the others.

Christine merely nodded nervously as she reached out for the nearby teapot. As she did so, her hands began to shake violently and she prayed to God Raoul would not notice. Thankfully, he seemed to be searching for something within the pile and paid her no mind.

Erik was dead, then. The first emotion that had overcome Christine was a terrible sorrow for what she was not quite sure of. She pitied the man, her teacher, her angel…but the emotion was much more than sorrow that consumed her body now. It was, though she may not even realize it—regret. She had always known that whatever fate had awaited him in the depths of the Paris Opera House, after her and Raoul's flight, would never have been pleasant. She had hoped, somehow, that Erik in all his mastery and cunning would have found a way to elude them, to escape, and hopefully find solace.

Tears had begun to well up in her eyes, threatening to spill down onto her cheeks. Her breathing was short and ragged; though she tried to quiet it as best she could until at last she questioned Raoul meekly.

"Can I be excused? I suddenly feel quite ill."

Raoul, now glancing down at a new piece of paper with a curiously troubled look on his face glanced up and replied calmly, "But of course my dear. You need not ask. This is your house too, you know."

Christine managed a nod, and quickly fled from the morning parlor room, white lace fluttering in her wake. Meanwhile, Raoul cast a grim gaze once again onto the obituaries.

The first two months had been bliss for the two of them. There had been no one else, and they had been wrapped quite contentedly in a world of love and passion in his countryside estate, far from all the prying eyes and gossip that Paris offered.

After that horrifying night at the Opera House, Raoul has whisked her away absolutely intent on saving his darling Christine from whatever tortures would have laid ahead with that madman. The two had promised to wed as soon as possible, and Raoul had merely replied—as he nibbled her earlobe frantically in the departing carriage—that she need only name the date.

Something that, two months later, Christine had not yet done.

Raoul certainly did not want to pressure the girl and force her to make choices, no, decisions—much in the same way that Erik had done. He had resolved to give his love all the time she needed, for her suffering had been great. And yet, despite his patience he had indeed hoped to be married by the summer at the very latest. It was now March, and the possibility of them marrying by June seemed almost too much to ask.

Still, on the surface level the two seemed quite content. They made love often, but Raoul ardently desired to have children of their own and not lean towards the side of precaution should Christine should become pregnant before they exchanged vows. Still, the two clung to each other like babes lost in the woods—finding solace and momentary happiness as their bodies intertwined and writhed beneath the bed sheets.

And yet as of late, Raoul had noticed, their passion had not been enough. Indeed, Christine was lively enough in bed to be sure. There, an inflaming passion and almost animalistic want emerged, and heaven helped it he enjoyed their relationship in bed almost too much. Their relationship outside of bed was what was beginning to worship the Viscount de Chagny.

To put it succinctly, Christine had become distant, reserved and rather frigid toward him in nearly every way, besides physical that was. She no longer engaged him in amusing conversation she found from the papers, nor did she stroke his face the way she had once done, or request they go into town to see a show or concert. Christine in fact spent most of her days walking the grounds of his country estate quietly singing songs in her head, he could imagine.

Was this, Raoul could only wonder dejectedly, but a preview of their married life? Where had his darling Christine run off to?

Folding the obituaries, Raoul went to go tend to his wife—who he would find gazing out the bedroom window. Well, he thought grimly to himself, at least there was no possibility of the Angel of Music singing songs into Christine's head. Erik, it seemed, was gone at last.

On this thought he leaned down and calmly grabbed one of Christine's breasts, kissing her earlobe whispering, "You are my angel, Christine."

She did not respond, but merely kept her deep blue eyes hovered over the horizon, in the direction of Paris.

A few days after the brief notice in the paper the fine weather that the countryside had been enjoying suddenly turned quite dreary, and the local inhabitants so used to spending their days outdoors now found themselves cooped up within their houses, with little to do besides read, play the piano, or husk peas.

Christine had no peas to husk, and had no appetite for reading that day, so instead she contented herself with music. Music, she recalled regretfully, used to be enough to sustain her. Music had been her life.

"You are music," Erik had once whispered to her one chance lesson of theirs. The words had struck her even then. Idly stroking the ivory keys to the piano, Christine let her mind wander back to that time, the time before she had premiered at the Paris Opera—before everything had become so painfully complicated. Erik had only been the "Phantom" at that point, neither a madman nor murderer in her eyes. No, to her Erik had been a voice behind a mirror, a beautiful, heavenly voice. Why had he called her music, his angel, if it had been he who had been all those things to her?

"—Going to play are you?" Raoul questioned, having promptly walked in from downstairs where he had been playing a solitary game of billiards. The poor weather had postponed his trip to Paris as well. Christine's thoughts had begun to turn characteristically dark whenever they lingered on Erik, and privately she thanked her cheerful fiancé for distracting her from that train of thought.

Smiling, Christine remarked, "Yes, it's been quite a while though! I wonder what I shall sound like?"

"I'm sure you will sound beautiful," Raoul chuckled, glancing back at her as he inspected the pouring rain outside. Absently, he murmured, "Hopefully the roads aren't too muddy…"

"Do you expect to go to Paris tomorrow?"

"Yes, if the weather clears up. I have a few pressing matters that I have overlooked for too long."

Christine made no reply, but instead concentrated on selecting a piece of music that would do her voice justice after three odd months sabbatical.

From the sheets of music and books, Christine found Voi Che Sapete from the Marriage of Figaro and it seemed to her that nothing better could be more beautiful and appropriate.

Tentatively, she began the piece, her nervousness almost betraying her playing in a few areas. Nevertheless the lyrics soon began. She opened her mouth and sang.

Upon the first note, Raoul turned his back towards the window and leaned against the mantelpiece, a dreamy expression came across his face as he watched her through the entirety of the aria. Her voice rose and fell with each progressive chord, restrained in some areas, in others beautifully free and uninhibited, sorrowful, joyful, timid, and brave. He did not realize this song was a duet.

When she finished the last chord, her bowed her head downwards, she stroked the ivory keys once again.

Christine whispered, her voice's emotion betraying her, "I guess he isn't dead after all…"

Raoul made no sign that he had heard her, and his voice was calm and clear as he made his way towards her to sit on the piano bench, "You know, my darling, it was your voice that I first fell in love with. Before I realized it was my Little Lotte, I thought to myself—that your voice was a gift from the angels."

"Raoul…" Christine began, her eyes meeting his. Whereas his deep hazel eyes were full of longing, Christine's were full of hesitation and sorrow. Sensing this, Raoul planted a kiss on her forehead and grinned, "And now I will fall in love with you not as Little Lotte but as my wife, and mother of my children."

It was as though ice-water had been injected into her veins. Children? She had not as of yet even given thought to the idea of children! Of course, she wanted them…but now? She was barely nineteen! What if she wanted to return to the Opera and pursue a career on stage while she still had the voice and energy for it?

She stood up suddenly, and Raoul toppled over onto the piano bench—his good humor as of yet not spoilt. "Not in the mood to practice?" he smirked from his vantage point.

Christine cast him a sidelong glance, "Children, you say. Children would be…." She settled on "nice." Looking out on the grounds from the window, she steadied herself for support. The storm outside was rolling by, but through the fury of the clouds she managed to see a very faint patch of blue. Taking this as a sign from the heavens, Christine countered, "But what about a career?"

Raoul merely blinked, rather dumb struck. "A career? You mean to return to the Opera?" He sounded somewhat incredulous.

"Certainly! I mean, why ever not? I am still young, and although my voice may be a little rusty I am certain that with a little polish I could return to the Opera. Surely not as a Prima Donna, but—,"

"Don't tell me you want to be a chorus girl?"

"Well certainly I don't want to be. It would be temporary, of course, presuming I did not get a major role…" Christine countered, finding for the first time in months, her temper flaring. Music could not be taken away from her, not even by Raoul.

"But what about children? Don't you want them?"

"Of course I want them!" Christine snapped. She had answered hurriedly, and without much thought. Indeed, she had given children no thought up till now—save their prevention against Raoul's passion. Yet obviously her fiancé had given this some consideration indeed.

"Yet it would be after you pursue a career—which may or may not exist." Raoul countered. Christine, who had opened her mouth in a curt reply was cut off by Raoul who continued, "Need you forget, Christine, you are my fiancé. Although I do not place myself above others if it can be helped, I am a man of some importance and property. Marrying you is already the talk in the most important circles—need to mention the nearby town—but now you desire to return back to the world of the Opera?!"

Christine had never seen Raoul mad before, and although it did not frighten her (for after all Erik had a much more severe temper) she found it more painful. Erik, like the artistic soul that he was, had been prone to such fits of temper that gradually Christine had become used to them. Yet Raoul, always so caring and good-natured—to see him so angry was even more startling, if not disturbing.

She had not been listening to what he had been saying, but now she came to when he said, "—Yes, music is beautiful and lovely, but Christine consider the awkward position you would place me in! Our family in! No…I could not allow that!"

A fire lit in Christine's eyes. At last she understood his all too frequent visits to the relatives, his apprehension each time they were forced to be seen in public, or should a neighbor call for tea. She did not doubt Raoul's love, but at last she understood that she would only be worth something to his family once an heir was produced. Although it seemed a furnace burned inside her chest, Christine replied in an icy tone, "I see. You value the worth of your pocketbook and family over that of your fiancé."

Christine heard no more as she quickly walked briskly from the drawing room. Raoul was left in her wake, his hazel eyes glinting icily.

"Damn you, Erik." Was all Raoul could muster as he hunched over the piano keys.

Ever since the argument some three weeks ago there had been a noticeable cooling in their relationship. Arguments happened, it was explained to Raoul by his married friends, yet the Viscount de Chagny still remained unconvinced. He wanted his life with Christine to go on as it had, although hopefully in a married state and with children. He hadn't had time to mention that producing an heir was rather necessary.

Of course, Christine thought that the life he led was all fun and games with money seemingly at their disposal—yet that was far from the truth. Financially they were stable, but this was only thanks in part to relatives who financed him until he came of age at twenty-five—next year. However, his Great Aunt Adrianne, who had never had children of her own, and promised that with the arrival of the heir to the de Chagny name she would grant him financial stability.

And, what with the state of his stocks nowadays was rather necessary.

In this matter, Raoul had decided, he would be firm. Christine could not return to the Opera, and an heir must be produced.

Yet first there was the issue of the wedding to deal with.

A date for the wedding must be set: even if he himself had to name it.

Putting on his top hat, he set out on horseback to the town. He had a few things to do, arranging their marriage being one of them.