Author's Note: This little vignette was scraped off the editing room floor, so to speak, of Too Long In Winter. It's just a short, light hearted piece, and I wanted to post it as another 'thank you' to everyone who followed my story.
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters, I just borrow them to play with…entirely without profit.
And Now, We Go To Supper
The sky over Paris was growing decidedly gray as twilight crept upon the horizon, banishing what had been a near perfect September day into oblivion. A brougham rumbled across the cobblestone streets of the Faubourg Saint-Honoré, ever closer to the little cottage owned by the good Madame Giry. Three people sat within the box cab in quiet conversation, that was, until the wheels bounced rather forcibly over yet another rough patch of road.
The top of a cane rapped sharply against the roof just behind where the driver sat. "Blast it, man! Are you aiming for every crevice in the street?" Erik thumped his cane down on the floor with a scowl.
"Erik, he can hardly be held accountable for the state of the pavement," admonished Christine from her seat beside him, an exasperated look upon her lovely face.
"He should be more diligent," Erik insisted, nervously rolling his cane between his hands as he studiously gazed at his wife's flushed cheeks. "All of this jostling about cannot be good for your condition, mon ange."
One elegant brow arched. "You make it sound as though I have some horrible illness," she grumbled. "I am in perfect health."
"We must think of the child, Christine."
His placating tone only served to rile her even further. "As if I am not thinking of him! Really, Erik," she rolled her eyes, "I swear that you are determined to drive me mad with all of your overprotective fussing."
"I do not fuss," he muttered with a furrowed brow.
Christine smiled complacently, "Fretting, then."
"Must I separate the two of you?"
Erik turned his attention to the third occupant of the coach. "Daroga, have I ever fussed?"
"Constantly," Nadir Kahn admitted.
Erik opened his mouth to administer a scathing retort, but just as he began to speak, the brougham shimmied roughly once again. He lifted his cane with a growl, ready to rap it against the ceiling, but Christine grabbed his wrist with her delicate hand and jerked it back. "Enough, Erik."
He huffed, "I am only thinking of you, my dear."
"God, grant me patience," Christine mumbled under her breath with some amusement. She had only recently told Erik of his impending fatherhood, and he was already proving to be horribly overprotective of her. While she secretly found it rather endearing, she could scarcely imagine how he would coddle her in the coming months.
"Madame Giry is very kind to include me in her invitation to supper," Nadir said in an attempt to change the subject. Erik merely grunted in response, and Christine smiled. Madame Giry had extended the invitation two days before, no doubt wishing to learn the details of Erik's meeting with his newly discovered aunt, the Baroness d'Amboise.
"She could hardly exclude you, Nadir, after all that you have done," Christine said, moving her hand to rest over Erik's in case he should feel inspired to hassle the coachman again.
Nadir nodded at the compliment, offering his warmest smile. "You are too kind, little one."
"Please, Daroga, you are making me ill with all of this saccharine."
The Persian chuckled, "You are merely envious of my superior charm and conversational skills."
Erik snorted. "Hardly, old man."
Christine could not help but laugh at their good natured bickering. "Perhaps it is the two of you that should be separated."
"Christine, my dear," Erik intoned dryly, "if you can discover a way to finally remove this insufferable Persian from my life, then I shall gladly become your slave for all of eternity."
"Are you not already," she murmured silkily.
Nadir laughed heartily at that, and Erik managed to glare convincingly before his lips quirked up at the corners. After a few more minutes of, thankfully, smooth travel, the trio arrived at their destination, and Antoinette Giry welcomed them warmly.
"Bon jour, Erik…Christine," she smiled kindly, and then arched a brow at Nadir. "Monsieur Kahn, I am glad that you could come as well."
"Madame Giry, I am very glad to see you again," Nadir smoothly greeted the woman, "and under far happier circumstances than when last we met."
"Oui, Monsieur," she responded coolly, "although I should admonish you for failing to keep our friend supplied with ink and paper with which to write."
Christine was amazed to see Nadir's dusky skin grow ruddy under Antoinette Giry's reproachful gaze. "Forgive me, Madame," he muttered.
"You will see that it does not happen again," the woman commanded, only the slight twinkle in her eyes betrayed her good humor.
"Of course, Madame," Nadir dutifully replied. Erik made the miscalculation of snickering at the exchange, and the Persian slanted him a dark look before his smile transformed into a decidedly wicked grin. "After all…our lovebirds will have much to share with you in the coming months."
"Daroga," Erik growled in warning.
"Foolish men," Antoinette muttered under her breath. She smiled softly and reached out to brush away a stray curl of the younger woman's hair. "Always fighting for the last word when silence speaks so much more eloquently." Her gaze fell meaningfully to Christine's middle. "When is the child due?"
Christine felt her cheeks flush at the candid inquiry. Her former ballet mistress had not been the first to correctly guess that she carried Erik's child within her; that honor had fallen to the Baroness d'Amboise, and Christine was left to wonder if her condition had truly been so obvious. "You knew?"
"You knew?" Erik's incredulous voice rang through the room, but he was ignored by the ladies.
"I suspected when first I saw you again," Antoinette whispered with eyes glistening, "but now, I know."
Erik threw out his hands in annoyance, huffing, "Am I the only one who did not know?"
"I did not," Nadir said with a shrug.
Antoinette rolled her eyes at the men's banter and enveloped Christine in a warm embrace, placing a kiss to her cheek. "You will make a wonderful mother, my child."
"Oh, Madame," Christine rasped, once again overcome with emotion, "thank you."
While the two women cried their happy tears, Nadir elbowed Erik, who turned to the Persian with a perplexed look upon his masked face. "May Allah bless you with a son, my friend, else I fear that we shall be sadly outnumbered."
"All the better to keep you both upon the path of righteousness , Monsieur Kahn," Antoinette said as she straightened and composed herself once again. She turned to Erik with a smile and cupped his unmasked cheek affectionately. "I think that fatherhood will suit you as well as marriage has, Erik. I have faith in you."
He swallowed heavily and nodded. "Thank you, Antoinette." His eyes met Christine's, and she could see the quiet joy that Madame Giry's words brought to him. The woman had, in many ways, been the closest thing to family that either Erik or Christine had known for so many years.
"Let us sit for awhile in the salon before supper," Antoinette suggested. "Meg has yet to return home from her rehearsal," the woman shook her head, grumbling, "She has been spending far too much time at the theater."
"She clearly takes after her mother," Erik said
Antoinette slanted him an amused look. "I'll not deny it. I am very proud of my daughter. Both of them, really," she added with another smile to Christine, who promptly burst into tears once again.
Erik hesitated, looking at his wife worriedly. "Christine?"
"Do not mind me, my love," she waived off his concern, feeling utterly foolish for her unruly emotions, "I find that I am lately weeping over the smallest things."
"It is perfectly natural, child," Antoinette soothed, linking her arm with Christine's and leading her toward the salon.
Nadir gave his bewildered friend a pat on the back, whispering conspiratorially, "Sons, my friend. They are far easier to comprehend."
"I can hear you, M'sieur Kahn," Antoinette called back.
Nadir's bushy brows arched high upon his forehead. "That woman would have made an excellent spy."
Erik chuckled at that. "She honed her skills in the ballet dormitories, Daroga. There is little that escapes her notice."
The Persian grinned. "Ah yes, I think that she and I shall have much to discuss indeed." With that, Nadir set off toward the salon with a distinct bounce to his step, and Erik merely sighed.
It was going to be a very long evening.