A/N: Hello once again! Before we start, I might as well warn you that this Erik will not be the golden god of a Sexy Scotsman. Yep, this is the Leroux/Kay Erik, so don't expect any gleaming abs and rugged good looks! This will be mostly in Christine's PoV, and it is roughly based on the Kay novel.

I have still not mysteriously acquired ownership of the Phantom of the Opera and all related characters overnight, so it remains in the possession of Leroux/Webber/Kay.

It was around three o'clock in the morning, I think, that I finally realised that the man I held in my arms was dead. At least, I assume I was three o'clock...it was always so impossible to tell what time of day it was in the perpetual twilight of the underground house by the lake. Only the clocks - always so carefully and precisely wound - could give any clue as to what the hour was in that other world, the world above the ground. This subterranean lair was so cut off from everything else...it did not share any laws that governed the outside world. The lair's master chose when day passed and night fell; he could control whether it be summer or winter, too, with the aid of an ingenious heating system that could revolutionise the industrial world if he only cared to share it...which he did not. It showed how reserved he was, how despicably shunned by the insufferable vanity and pride of mankind. I knew well of his secluded distancing from the pettiness of the human race, as if he was an entire new race of his own. At first I had thought this was just psychological, but the more I considered it, the clearer it became that perhaps he was a strange, different and magnificently endowed creature. The power of his music - of his voice alone, come to it - was surely not something a lesser mortal could achieve. His creativity was unparalleled, his sharp eye and skilful hands matchless. This was what made him greater than human...but of course, there were other things that made people consider him very much sub-human. Not only his poor face - his poor mind had made him act, at times, like people expected him to: like a beast. His terrible rages and burning furies alone were enough to split the very ground and spill the world into the waiting flames of hell. This formidable temper, though, was very much due to the frustrations that culminated within him - frustrations that had built up for years and had no way of escaping. He was only a beast because of the vainglorious conceit of others.

I look at him now; his head is resting so very comfortably in the crook of my elbow, his poor, blighted face completely calm. His left arm is draped with a languid tenderness over my waist, and my free arm is around his scarred, emaciated chest, still holding him. His once-lustrous black hair is smooth and silky, from the long minutes I spent stroking my fingers through it. As I watch his face, I know that to anybody else it would appear as if this man had been dead for much longer than an hour. His stark-white skin, papery and almost translucent, his gaping nasal cavity and the dark rings around his eyes suggested he was a few-month-old corpse, well into the process of decomposition. But of course, I knew better; he had said his final precious words to me not even two hours ago.

I do not want to move; to move would be to admit that he is not just peacefully asleep in my arms. I want to stay here in his bed, holding him - for this is the very last time I will ever have him lying in my arms. It is one of the very last times I will be alone with him, for the rest of my life. That is what scares me; that no matter for how long I live, be it twenty more years or forty, I will never, ever have this opportunity again.

Oh, Erik. Look at you. You seem so relaxed and serene, lying with me in the bed that has served you as the bed you were born in, your marriage bed and now your deathbed. Your face, even without your glorious voice - that voice that shall never be heard again for all eternity - to draw the horror away from it, looks so peaceful that it is beautiful. Not beautiful as in handsome - I will not pretend that you are handsome, for you have known it is not the truth - but beautiful as in the truest, purest sense of the word. It holds something even the finest face in the world could not possess. My hand moves reluctantly, careful not to nudge your limp arm from its resting place on my waist, to carress your hollow, high-boned cheek as I did when you lay exhausted and resting by my side. I fancy you give a soft, ghostly sigh at my touch, even after your spirit has flown - but I know it is probably just the sound of your internal organs quietly shutting down, deep within you. Now my fingers hover gently over your missing nose. No, I can feel no whisper of breath. You are truly gone. I rest my hand on your chest instead, feeling the bare, pale skin that is broken in several places by old, jagged scars that rip mercilessly across each other. I can feel the resistance of your sternum beneath my fingers, but your body has cooled slightly and I cannot feel your heat any more...oh, Erik...

I look down at him sadly. When does a person cease to be a person and becomes instead "a body"? Surely not immediately after death; Erik still seems to be himself. But the more I gaze, the more I see - I am looking at what used to be Erik, for in my arms is just an empty...body. No life stirs in him any more, as that life has gone. I am a widow, after not even a day of marriage, and I truly wish that it was not so, even though I am fully aware of what havoc would have broken out had Erik been gifted with more days in front of him. I shall be returning to poor, dear Raoul, who was so reluctant to let me go to his bitter nemesis - the very man who had forced him to mature quicker than he deserved to. Even to the end he was suspicious and wary of Erik; however, I know that he has accepted my seemingly unreasonable love for the man and will be able to comfort me when he learns of his death. Now that I think about it, perhaps both of them had reached an unspoken form of acceptance of one another - after all, Raoul aknowledged my caring for Erik towards the end, and Erik himself spoke of Raoul before he breathed his last. He even gave his blessings for our marriage, saying that Raoul could offer me the future he could no longer provide himself - the future that I deserved to have. Poor, unhappy Erik...he was not a beast, he was a saint!

I can't cry. I have no idea why this is; at the moment, he looks so wonderful and restful, his glorious golden eyes closed and the lines around his mouth faint. How old is he? Far older than I am, I know that for sure...he must be at the very least twice my current age; the thin streaks of sharply contrasting white concealed among his black locks betray it. It is impossible to tell his age from his face; its deformity makes it so ageless that one can never tell. I lean closer to him, my heart throbbing painfully as the loss begins to dawn on me - not just my loss, but the loss of the whole world of the genius it will never know. I know I will cry for him later.

There is a tiny fleck of black-scarlet blood in the corner of his pale lips that I had not noticed. I wipe it away gently, lovingly, erasing the pink smear as dotingly as any wife. Now I'm a living wife to a dead husband. Oh, Erik...the time has come for me to finally say goodbye.

His friend, the Persian man, is still waiting outside. He has been waiting since yesterday evening, when I came down to see Erik. I truly admire him; I know very few people who are so tolerant and loyal to Erik. I can't keep him outside, unknowing, while I lie embracing the corpse that is now dead for sure. I will need to recover my clothes and dress myself - not to mention make Erik's poor skeletal body presentable, too. It will be torture to move him - torture to pull away from his everlasting embrace, but I know I will have to do it sometime.

I look at Erik again, and plant a kiss on his yielding, unresponsive lips. To my horror, his mouth opens slightly under mine - but it is only because he is so relaxed in death that he cannot keep his jaw closed. Tenderly, I close his mouth for him and gently carress his face again. The memories are all coming back to me; memories of our first meeting, of every past event - both good and not so good. I find I can still remember how it began, all those years ago, in this very Opera House...