Disclaimer: If I were Gaston Leroux and owned Phantom of the Opera, I would not have hesitated posting this chapter due to my sadness ending my first ff story :(
a/n: thank you all. so very much. it's been quite a ride and i have learned so much about my writing as well as myself ever since starting this story. a special thanks to Broken-Vow, Avatarded, gravity01, sanna B., pastheart, BleedingHeartConservative, OceansAway, Cookie222, strodgfrgf, Genenieve Lee, The-Lonely-Child, Beautiful and Pale, Hott4Gerry, MadHatter48, LilyEvensPotter4456, Nonica, ever2green, Tytania Strange, The Phantom's Christine, and EVERYONE ELSE WHO READ AND REVIEWED!!!!! you all were so helpful to me in my times of wondering if this story was what people liked or not. i am sorry that my chapters could have not come out sooner especially now that i'm in college.
a/n #2: thank you thank you THANK YOU all again :D
a/n #3: i hope you all like fluff. get ready.
and for the last time... plz read & review
Chapter Thirty-One – Across the Universe
We had our third wedding in the fall of that year. It was held in the Monet Mansion and what meant the most to me was that all my friends were able to come before they had to leave for school. It felt strange that I would not be following them to some university or college, but for the time being, I had everything I wanted right where I was. I was sure that I would end up getting my G.E.D. at least within a few years. Erik made sure that I was well read and kept up on my studies so that I could achieve at least that much. He told me that if I really wanted to, I could audition for a few conservatories, but he made it clear that he would have to approve them first.
It turned out that Erik only lived a little over an hour from my mom's house which made everything really convenient. Erik's house is surrounded by many old trees that hide his entire property. The driveway alone is about a mile and a half long. There were lights that had to light the way because the moon was not always bright enough to lead a car at night. The house itself was three stories high. There was an indoor pool, three lounges, three bathrooms, a kitchen, a main dining hall that could fit a hundred people comfortably, a casual dining room that could hold fifteen, a billiard room, three sound-proof rooms where instruments could be played (all of which were close to the three bathrooms), five small guest bedrooms, three medium sized bedrooms that had private showers, two large bedrooms with full bathrooms, and then one master bedroom that could have fit my entire house in. The master bed room had two connecting bathrooms that had showers and bath tubs in as well as sinks and cabinets. There were also two walk-in closets that were the size of my old room.
Needless to say, Erik's house was an adventure in itself. There were even secret passageways that Erik promised to show me after the wedding when no one else was around. Every time I walked into the place there was something new and exciting to see. Erik encouraged my energy, but I knew that to him, all of the surroundings were just everyday life.
The third wedding was spared no expense. We had it Victorian themed (it matched the house well) and had everyone in the wedding dressed according to the time period. I was surprised Erik would let me have such a large wedding with so many people that I knew. There were ten bride's maids, ten groomsmen (seven of which were my friends), two flower girls, and the ring bearer turned out to be Taylor who was carried up the isle of our grand staircase by my mom. We stood together on the top of the first set of stairs above everyone who sat in our audience. Erik and I decided against having people sit on particular sides for either the bride or the groom. The numbers would have been strongly lopsided.
The party afterwards was held in the main dining room where all of the tables and chairs had been taken out so that there could be dancing. There was a live string quartet, a DJ and I also had a few of my friends from my high school entertain us with songs. Everything was so perfect and everyone looked so beautiful. I could never thank Erik enough for all that he had done. The wedding had been more than I could have even dreamed of.
What was most interesting of all was that no one questioned our sudden engagement and our insistency to get married so soon. I had at least thought that my mom would say to think things over a bit more, but she was the happiest of all once we told her the news. Erik certainly had done a great job winning over all my family and friends while I was gone. It was hard to believe how easily they trusted him. If only they knew the truth!
For the first year Taylor slept in our room. We had a place in the corner near our oversized bed made so that a crib and a changing table could be there. He was a very good baby and hardly even woke up at night; though I will say that it was hard to be intimate with him in the room even if he could not comprehend what was going on. After Erik laughed at my silly suspicions, he set up a curtain around Taylor's side of the room that we would often close at night. I have to admit that it did make me feel a little better.
Taylor's health surprised everyone around him. For that year we had to take him to his doctor once a mouth. Originally, that was going to continue for two years, but the doctor told us that he was growing well enough that it would not be necessary anymore. After that we only had to bring him in twice a year.
Many times I would find Erik in our room near the baby piano that he had place in another corner with Taylor on his lap as he pecked out notes. All Erik would tell me when he found me with him in the room was that "He is going to be great someday. You just watch how great our boy will be!"
Erik and I continued my music lessons as well. They usually happened while Taylor was asleep during the afternoons. In the mornings Erik made sure that we spent time with our baby. It was obvious to me that he wanted to be there for his child unlike how his parents had treated him. Erik was such a dutiful father. I wondered if there was anyone who could possibly be better than him in the entire world.
After the doctor's good reviews on Taylor, we moved him to the room next to ours that had a secret passage leading to it. The room was the next-to-largest room in the house and at first I thought it to be too big for such a little child, but since it was the closest to our room, I had to agree that it was the best choice. Erik had the room completely remodeled to be play room as well as a bed room. There was even a baby piano that was not as high for an adult installed so that Taylor could reach it easier. The keys were also a little thinner than usual.
"I do not want him having any trouble reaching the piano, Christine. This way he will want to play it more."
Erik was right. Taylor did enjoy his piano. Once he learned to speak he would toddle up to his piano bench and say in toddler language that he wanted to "pway lak daddy!" Erik started him with simple right handed songs for the piano, but in finding that the boy was ambidextrous, he moved him on to easy two-handed songs. That was when he was two years old. I certainly had never heard of a child playing anything at two.
Sammy also lived with us from the beginning. He had his own spot in our room and soon moved to Taylor's room. Sammy, who usually did not want to deal with rif-raf, took on to Taylor very well and put up with the baby's petting and playing. Taylor was a gentle boy with all things around him. He did not often throw things when he was upset of angry. Maybe that was why Sammy tolerated him. Sammy soon became Taylor's own little pet and soon followed him around more than he ever followed me.
My dog, Luke, also came to live with us. Sammy and Luke's reunion was not much to say. They were brought before each other just inside our front door. At first, Sammy bent down and was ready to run, but then Luke ran up to him like he used to and Sam ran away. They played their strange old game of tag for the rest of the week. Neither of them ever got hurt, but that was always how they played before and I guess they found no reason to change that.
I think that Luke felt as a sort of grandfather to Taylor. Luke had brought Sammy up as if it was his own puppy and now that Sammy had adopted his own pet, Luke just followed suit with their weird family tree. Since Luke was nearing eleven years, he could not always keep up with the cat and baby and so he stayed back with me just as he used to do.
It was coming upon the month of March once again and I could not help but notice how suddenly excited Erik had become. One afternoon he came to me and took my hands with the energy of a child.
"Christine I have a surprise for you!"
"What Erik?" I laughed at him for acting in such a way.
"You have to follow me, my love! I asked Mother to come over to the house to watch Taylor while we are out."
I noticed how quickly and willing he was at claiming my mother as his own. He had never really been given the chance to have a mother or treat a woman as such. My mom never minded. While he was much older than me at the time, she completely approved of him. I understand how the two of them had become such a good friends while I was "away" but I never would have thought that she would have supported us as she did.
For our first (or fourth anniversary) Erik led me through a secret passageway that he had yet to show me. Many times he would lead me on little adventures through the tunnels that ran through and under his mansion. It surprised me how clean everything was. I had always thought of secret passageways consisting of century old stones surrounded by cobwebs, booby traps, and torches. One time, Erik said that there were a few booby traps around, but we had yet to come across any. I wonder if he said things like that to keep me closer to him. It would not be a surprise.
The tunnels were made of big black blocks that Erik said were thick enough to survive atomic bombs that could erupt as close as a mile away. There were lights down there that were basically low watt bulbs that hung from an electrical wire from the ceiling. Erik enjoyed turning those already dim lights on and off at his leisure when trying to scare me so that I would jump closer to him. Sometime he would kiss me by surprise and other times he would just laugh. I came to the conclusion that he had a remote somewhere on him at all times that controled all the lights around him. Of course he never confirmed my theory whenever I asked him. He liked to think that there was still some deep mystery about him that I could never figure out.
The path we were on now seemed a lot longer and more difficult to maneuver around than all the other ones I remembered. For the most part Erik was silent which was also strange. Usually we would carry on conversations about the history of other catacombs and underground passageways. The lights seemed to get dimmer the farther that we went and my grip on Erik's hand tightened. He noticed and turned around to smile warmly at me.
Eventually, the lights became more sparingly on the wire from the ceiling until I saw up ahead that there were no lights left at all. As Erik kept pulling me forward I could not help but stop. Everything had been so eerie so far and I was not sure if I could handle another one of Erik's little tricks.
"Erik," I said unsurely. He heard my calling him after a few seconds pause and finally turned to me.
"Come Christine, there is no reason to be afraid." He said trying to reassure me as he tried to take me into the complete darkness.
"Erik, where are you taking me?" I asked putting more of a resounding halt in my pace.
Finally, he completely stopped to turn to me as he took both of my hands in his.
"I want to show you something," he did not quite meet my eyes, "it is a surprise."
"But what is down there that cannot have light?" I asked trying to bring his eyes to mine and failing.
"You will know when you see it. There cannot be light, Christine. I know where I am going, you must trust, Erik."
That was when I really knew he was nervous. He only went into third person speech when he was near the height of an emotion.
"Erik, please, you can tell me, do not be nervous."
"No, Christine. Erik has a surprise for his wife. Stay close to me, love. These paths are not as safe as the others. Keep quiet unless Erik speaks to you for it may not be safe. Trust your husband, my love."
There was no talking with him when he got like this. There was only listening until something snapped back to sanity in his mind that brought him back to Earth. Taking a deep breath, I nodded and let him guide me through the darkness. There were many twists and turns here. My feet felt little pebbles under them and marked unpaved walkways. Sometimes I could not help but trip, but Erik was always there to make sure to pick me and keep us at the same pace as before.
Our pace was steady and quick for the most part. Every so often Erik would stop completely and have to take hold of my waist to make sure I did not walk past him. The first time he did this I screamed, but then I heard his whispered shushing in my ear and I was able to take a breath of relief.
In the far distance I spotted a little red light before us. It was not enough to light the tunnel in a way that I could see anything specific, but it was just enough to lightly break my night vision. Once we approached it, Erik let go of my hand to walk a little ways past it. He knelt to scoop something up in his hand. I realized he was drinking water once he wiped his chin from the remaining water. I could not tell where the little light was coming from, I could only tell that it was there. Everything began to suddenly fall into place.
"Sit next to me."
I did so and we looked intensely into each other's eyes for a long time.
"Do you remember this place?"
This time I honestly did remember the place. I had been there before and I remember it as the first place we were married.
"Yes," I said in a low tone.
"I love you, Christine."
I half way smiled and took his hand in mine.
"I love you too, Erik." I could not help but laugh a little, "I am glad at how far we have come since then."
The light showed him returning the same half smile I wore. Patting my hand that held his he agreed.
"This will always be a special place to me, Christine. After all it was where we were first married."
I laughed again, "Yes, who can say that they had three weddings in three years?"
"No darling, we exchanged our vows before; we only had one wedding that you truly deserved."
My eyes rolled at his logic that did make sense. He rose to sit on his knees and I followed him thinking he was going to get up.
"No, stay on your knees." He took my hands in his and looked in my eyes, "I thought it was time to exchange vows again considering it has become an annual thing for us."
I smiled and nodded. Erik cleared his throat somewhat dramatically and began to make his vows once again.
"I Erik Monet, take my wife Christine Daae Rachel Carson Monet," I laughed at my nick name, "to stay my wife, to have and hold through the night and day, through the sicknesses of labor and the health of recovery, till death do us part. God willing it never will."
I smiled again and looked down slightly embarrassed by his sweet actions. This time, instead of making me agree to vows I felt him lightly squeeze my hand in encouragement.
"And I," I could not help but let out a little giggle, "Christine Daae Rachel Carson Monet take Erik Monet to remain my husband, to have and to hold whether I think it is a good time or not, through the sicknesses that you never have and the health that never leaves you, until death comes."
We both laughed a little bit now.
"May we live long together with Taylor." He said softly.
"Amen." I agreed.
Leaning forward he place a light kiss on my lips. For a few moments we looked into each other's souls enjoying how much nicer these vows were compared to our original ones.
"I have something else to show you, my love." He said without breaking eye contact.
"More?" I asked as he helped me up from the floor.
Smiling he said softly, "Follow me."
We were once again walking through the winding underground paths. Erik was not as nervous now and our walk seemed more casual than before. Without too much time passing we had stopped and I heard Erik placing a small key into what was before us.
"Close your eyes, my love."
Nodding my head I followed his command. He then put a big hand over my eyes.
"You do not trust me! I am your wife now!"
"Which is exactly why I do not trust you." He said jovially as I heard a door open in front of us. Lights began to flicker on to life and my eyes opened by instinct. "I told you I could not trust you." He said feeling my eye lashes tickle his hand.
We walked forward a little more until he stopped and I could feel his breath on my right ear. I thought he was going to speak until I felt his lips make contact with my ear. He began to make a trail of kisses down my neck that left even hotter skin in their wake. Even after three years he had an effect on me that I could never ignore as I began to tilt my head to the side to give him more area to kiss.
I began to feel his hand that was over my eyes began to move me toward him, leading me to his face. Keeping my eyes shut, I began to feel his slow lips on my own and I responded quickly as my arms flew up to encase his neck to bring him closer. He responded by finally taking his hand from my face and circling my back with his arms. I began to feel the need to be even closer to him as my right leg began to wrap around his leg as I began to plead for what he knew I wanted. His hand then found my leg and held it there for a moment before moving farther up my leg. I gasped in excitement for what I thought he was going to do, but his hand instead moved its way back to the small of my back. A pout escaped me and Erik let me go slightly so that we could look into each other's eyes.
"What was that, Rachel?" he asked amused at my yearning.
"Erik do not play tricks with me!" I said getting angry then trying to kiss him again only to be met by a finger to my lips. "Erik!"
"This was not my original intention."
"But Erik – " I pouted again.
"Now, now, wife, I brought you here to show you something."
"But Erik!" Now I was angrier at being refused for the first time I could ever remember.
"Christine look around."
It was then I realized where he had taken me. We were back in the house by the lake. I gasped.
"I take it you are surprised, love?"
"Erik… it has been so long."
Taking his hand I began to walk through the house as if it were a dream. Every room I entered had so many memories attached to it. It was as if stepping into a movie and I could see the old Erik and Christine sitting down for tea on the ottoman, or playing music on the piano. I could not believe that this had been home for so long.
"Everything is how you left it, Christine." He said somewhere behind me, "I thought we could stay here tonight, if you wished it."
"Yes," I said breathily, "of course."
"Shall I make us dinner?" he asked.
I must have agreed for then he was gone and I was left to explore the house that had not changed since we left it. After wondering through most of the house I finally came to my room. The door was open, but I could not immediately step in. I could see myself on the bed before me, wearing a white cotton nightgown, curled up and crying staring at an old beaten candle on the night stand. I looked so young and pitiful. It is hard to imagine how Erik ever put up with me all the time. I had grown up so much then that it seemed as if a completely different person. In seeing me the young girl pulled the sheets up over her head where she quickly disappeared leaving me in an empty room.
With time and courage, I took my first step in. Where I stood was where we took our vows for the second time. To my left was where I unmasked Erik for the first time. A little ways before me was where Erik sat when I was sick so that he could talk to me. Then there was the bed. I never thought so many memories could be there. It seemed that there were so many that I could not even focus in on a few without seeing all of them at once which made me dizzy.
Cautiously, a hand came to rest on my shoulder.
"I thought you would save this room for last. After all it is your own."
Looking back at him with a heavy heart, I turned to slip my arm around his waist. He held me there for a while. There was so much emotion surrounding us because I knew that our thoughts were the same, but there was not much we could do but look into our past. All of the emotions I had were so jumbled that I could never decide whether I wanted to cry or laugh or what.
Erik's words stuck me suddenly. He had said it was my room, but it no longer seemed that way to me. Looking up to him I waited for his daydreaming to end to that he would look at me.
"No Erik," I said softly, "this is not my room. It is our room. It has always been our room."
Smiling gently he squeezed me for a moment to be closer to him as we looked on.
He had fixed a nice dinner for us in the old dining room. It was so strange to see him eat in front of me with full facial expressions. Our conversation was light without any deep thoughts attached. We were afraid to draw any new memories of ourselves to this place. We were different people now and this entire place was just a memory now.
We took tea to the music room instead of the library. He told me of how he had composed a new piece for me when he came back to the house before bringing me. His hands graced the keys and produced the sounds of love. Love then turned into pain, confusion and suffering, but it always had the undertones of happiness attached. The feelings would rise and fall until they remained joyous for a long time, now with undertones of pain. The pain seemed to grow until it all ended with a sort of bang. I thought the song was over for all I heard was Erik's painting, but then as unexpectedly as it had been taken away, the song grew of happiness and I was reminded of Taylor. This brilliant piece was our story in music form and by the end of it I could not help but sob.
At first Erik sat next to me, letting my tears soak the right shoulder of his jacket. For a long time he stayed like that with me, letting everything fall through tears. With time the tears died down a bit and I felt very weak. He slipped an arm under my shoulders and knees and I was lifted from the sofa and into the air.
We were returning to our bedroom. It had been so long since we were there together and at first I was afraid of letting my memories take hold of me. Before reaching the threshold, I took a quick grasp of Erik's collar.
"Erik no!" I gasped.
"What is my love?" he asked warmly as if speaking to a child.
"Erik I am afraid."
He laughed deeply, "What is new?"
"Erik I am serious! Please do not kid with me now!"
"What is the problem, child?"
Burying my head under his neck as he held me with strong arms I whimpered, "Erik all of this is too much to handle. There are so many memories I cannot help, but feel them all. I am not ready."
"Let us not live in the past, my love," he cooed from above me as I felt his chest vibrate from his voice, "but if it really does bother you so deeply, we can still go back to the mansion. There is still time to return if you so wish it."
He was right as usual. Since Erik and I were such different people, we could not let the demons of the past take hold of us. So much had changed since I first came here, but none of that mattered. I was in love with Erik and he would never stop loving me. Only I hurt myself down here and now that Erik and I were together, nothing could ever bring me down to those pits of depression and sadness again. Sighing I made my decision.
"Let me down, please." I asked dryly, embarrassed that I could not walk to this point.
Once letting me down, Erik held to my waist to make sure I did not sway into a wall. He understood how delicate I was at the time. I nodded to him reassuringly as I lightly took his hands from me. Slowly, as if I were afraid the next step would make everything fly away, I began to make my way into the room.
Silhouettes of our past seemed to swim around me as I went, but as I walked closer to the bed they seemed to become fainter and began to move slower as I gained more strength in myself. With each step the bad memories seemed to fade quicker than the others leaving only the good ones that came with some of our last month's together down in the house.
Suddenly, I woke up from my daydreaming and found myself sitting on the bed looking to the floor. I smiled thinking of the last time I had been there specifically. It had been that awkward morning after Erik and I took our second vows. Smiling to myself and shook my head. My head turned back to the man at the door as he waiting for a signal to come in. I smiled at him and he followed my trail to sit with me on the bed where we stayed in silence for a long time.
Hours later I was dressed in my old night gown and was waiting for him to join me for bed. A candle flickered beside me on the nightstand. I stared at it and became lost in its light glow. It no longer laughed at me. I heard nothing at all from it as I hummed left over tunes I remembered from the song Erik had played for me earlier.
When coming into the room, Erik caught me staring at the thing I used to feel so close to.
"Can you sleep without it tonight?"
At first he said that playfully, and then I realized through my silence that he really did want to make sure I was comfortable. I sighed and smiled at him.
"I choose you tonight."
He returned a smile to me and I saw that he was holding something in his hands, playing with it uncomfortably. The black material that encouraged our memories to turn out the way they did was being trifled with lightly before he spoke.
"I left it down here for if we ever came back. I was not sure to wear it or not."
I half-way smirked.
"Would it make you feel better, my love?" I asked.
"I do not know. I now feel so strange without it now, naked almost."
"Good!" I spat making him look up suddenly, "You made me feel naked too many times for comfort down here. I would say it is my turn!"
Laughing lightly at me, he placed the mask on my dresser and began to climb into bed. Taking my waist in his arms he held me so close to his body that we seemed to mold together. It was like the first night we had been together, except now I was happy and calm with my husband. This time I really did want to be with him. This time I loved him.
"I love you Christine." He said tenderly kissing my temple.
"I love you too, Erik." I replied snuggling into the pillow under his chin and closing my eyes.
"May I ask one favor of you, my love?" he asked stirring me from my peace only a moment.
"Blow out that candle."
Without hesitation I smiled and heaved a gentle breath to blow towards the candle which extinguished it for the rest of the night.
find the song Across the Universe by Rufus Wainwright and play it now and you will understand the mood i intended for this scene :)
THANKS AGAIN. and also... i have a confession... i don't have an epologue written as of now, but if you all would like to know what happens in a few years, do tell me. also, how old would you like to see taylor IF there were an epologue? if none of you like the idea then, thank you again and happy story telling to you all!
~the yellow flower