A/N: Hi again, it's been a while!
So here's another oneshot.
(I'm working on a longer phic right now I swear!)
This takes place straight after Christine and Raoul have been on the roof together. The characters are sort of a mix of the books, musical and film in a way.
A kind of "What If?" you could say.
Erik has heard them on the roof and Christine knows...
Please read and review (",)! (And as always, be kind please.)
When The Candle Flickered Out
We had been heard…
As Raoul and I descended the winding, wooden staircase leading down from the roof, a cold chill ran down my spine. Such tension filled the air. We were being followed, I could feel it in the depths of my being.
Glancing at Raoul, it seemed that he remained blissfully unaware as he clutched my hand and happily babbled about the places we would travel to when we were free of this place. It saddened me that I couldn't focus on his words, nor muster the enthusiasm that I'm sure his plans deserved. The youthful joy of a budding romance which had infused me with such hope upon the rooftop had fled almost as soon as it had come.
The darkness of my mind crept back in as the darkness behind us trailed our every move.
I knew who it was that stalked us. My soul cried out in recognition even as my heart stuttered in fear. Yes, I knew who followed us and I knew why…
Up on the roof I had foolishly allowed myself to hope that our words would go unheard. Sweet murmurings of affection that could hurt no one so long as only we two knew of them. But I had been wrong…we had not been alone up there under the midnight sky.
The stars surely wept tonight!
For Erik was behind us…Erik had heard everything.
He would come for me tonight…to remind me that the Angel of Music was very strict.
As we reached my dressing room, I asked Raoul as sweetly as I could to allow me to prepare myself to leave for the night alone. He was not fond of the idea in the least. But, ever the gentleman, he agreed to a compromise. He would allow me an hour or so to myself and then he would return to escort me home. It still did not totally appease him but there was little he could deny me. A fact I felt ill-at-ease abusing tonight, knowing where it would lead.
As I watched him glance around nervously I wondered if he felt the charge in the air as well, and simply chose to ignore it. I couldn't help but wonder just how much did my old playmate refuse to acknowledge?
He pressed a sweet kiss to my lips as he bid me adieu and I couldn't help the delicate blush it produced. Such a charming and devoted fiancé. Why couldn't it be enough?
"I love you, Lotte." He murmured.
I tried so hard, but I could no longer return his words and so I only smiled.
It bothered me for some unknown reason that he had not said my name. I was still only his Little Lotte. Not a woman, still a girl.
Looking at Raoul's handsome face once more before I closed the door, I couldn't help but feel the distance yawning between us; a bitter chasm, I so wished didn't exist!
I felt infinitely older in that moment and yet still so very naïve.
Ever the lost little Lotte of so long ago.
Guilt weighed heavily upon me as I locked the door.
I knew Raoul would return to find an empty room.
I was alone once more, but not for long.
The Angel was coming.
I didn't bother to light the lamps in the room, I merely lit a candle and placed it before me on my dresser. Sinking to the floor, I cradled my head in my hands as the night's revelations overwhelmed me. Why did I have to feel so at fault for our little tragedy? I was certainly not the only one to blame!
All my life I had been lied to; first by Father, then Erik and now Raoul…
Father promised me the Angel of Music…well there is no Angel! I no longer believe in fairytales and happy endings.
There is no Angel…but there is Erik, the man who, upon revealing his lies, made me face the truth and grow up.
And Raoul, he told me I would be free. But I will never be free…I think even he knows that.
So I was not the only one at fault here! Oh God, how did everything go so wrong?
What kept me here, when I had all the means to be free?
I was so afraid I knew the answer to that…
Tears overflowed from my eyes and I could do little to stop it, so caught up in self-pity and sorrow.
I was tired…weary in fact. I so longed to be free! Yet even when my dear childhood sweetheart offered me freedom and security through his love, I couldn't relinquish my chains. I hesitated and begged to sing one last time for Erik. My chains were his…we are bound to each other, my Erik and I. The fallen Angel and his little orphaned protégé. What a pair!
For so long I have hid behind pity, denied ever feeling any deeper for this unearthly man…and yet I can do so no longer!
Did I not prove it to myself tonight?
I knew this would happen, I knew!
And a part of me welcomed it!
Our connection is so much more complex and profound than anything I have ever known! So agonising and yet so darkly beautiful!
He calls to that shadowed part of my soul with his heavenly voice and intoxicating presence. There is so much I feel for him and yet I can not put it into words!
It terrifies me…are feelings such as these not improper?
How had Raoul put it earlier?
Love of the most exquisite kind, the kind which people do not admit even to themselves.
Was he right?
Dearest Raoul…Why couldn't I reconcile myself to simply leaving with him and becoming his wife, living a respectable life…safe, loved…unfulfilled…empty…Oh God!
What a mess I've made for myself! Too frightened to surrender to Erik and too unsure to be content with Raoul.
After tonight though, I knew it wouldn't matter. It would all end tonight one way or another. I am ashamed to admit that I was glad of it…I hardly had the strength to fight it anymore.
My decision was made, it was the only way to save us all…
I am unsure how long I sat there on the floor, gazing at the flickering flame of that lone candle. Somehow it seemed poignant to watch it's futile battle to expel the darkness in the room. The struggle was so much greater than itself. I imagined that if it could feel, it would, despite itself, experience some pleasure when it finally flickered out. The battle would be over…it would have done its best.
We were alike in a way.
"And now you are comparing yourself to a candle? Wonderful!" I huffed sarcastically.
"I feel I must agree. You are both lights in the darkness." The whispered voice slid over me like a caress. I knew who stood behind me in the silence of the room. Erik. I had not heard him enter but I hadn't expected to. My day of judgement was upon me.
Slowly, I brought my gaze up to look at him through the mirror behind the candle. I was not brave enough to face him yet. The pain that shone in his expressive eyes and the sorrow that seemed to radiate from him made a sob catch in my throat. It was too much! Looking at the devastation that my words had caused made me feel unworthy to be in his presence. He had given me everything and I had destroyed him.
"You know why I have come." It wasn't a question, and for the first time I noticed the barely restrained anger in his tone. I couldn't look at him as I responded, couldn't bear the shame. "Yes." I whispered miserably. I had been prepared for his uncontrollable anger, his almost tender but forced calm was confusing. But I was always unsure in Erik's presence.
Slowly he approached me from behind, I didn't dare move. Gently, he drew his fingertips along my tear-stained cheek, and a sigh escaped me unbidden. He wore no gloves and his hands were unusually warm. They left a trail of fire in their wake as they slid down to my neck, encircling it.
"Why?" I was surprised to hear what sounded like a sob follow his question. Again I risked looking at him through the mirror before us. He was gazing intently back at me and I watched in horrified fascination as a lone tear trickled down his exposed cheek.
"I don't know." I could think of nothing else to say that wouldn't hurt him further. The sight of that tear tore at my heart.
His hand tightened slightly around my neck, " Liar! Tell me!" He seethed.
"I was frightened!" I cried, the tears coming faster now, "I didn't understand what I was feeling…you were suddenly so real and I…Raoul was…"
"Safe." He made the word sound like the worst insult, and it made me angry.
Breaking free from his grip, I stood up quickly, leaning on the dresser to keep myself steady.
The candle guttered dangerously.
"What did you expect from me? You lied, you…killed, and yet still I lo…"
Loved you! Abruptly I halted my rant. I couldn't admit to it, not now when he surely wouldn't believe me. It would only hurt him more. I had already hurt him so much…as he had hurt me.
Why did I only realise the strength of my feelings now? Now, when it may have been too late! No, I had to stay strong…I had made my decision, I had! I would face my fate whatever it may be.
Again he came close to me, but he didn't touch me this time.
"I did everything that I did for you! You wanted an Angel, I tried to become one…but I am not an Angel, Christine. I am only Erik. Only Erik…"
The utter misery in that phrase was unbearable.
"That is all you needed to be. Only Erik."
My soft words caused him to pull away from me with a growl, he was not ready to believe them. After tonight, would he ever be?
"What of the boy, my dear?" he sneered, "What is he to you, hmm? Only Raoul?"
The words seemed to choke him and I could sense his anger rising.
"I cannot explain. I fear nothing I say will ever be good enough. Oh, Erik…"
Against my will, I began to weep again. The fallen Angel and his little orphaned protégé, what a pair indeed!
The sight of my tears seemed to break the hold his anger was gaining on him.
"Please don't cry. You know I cannot bear it."
Strong arms came around my waist and I leant into his embrace. I was so very tired.
This unexpected tenderness allowed me to hope that perhaps I hadn't lost Erik to ungovernable rage.
"Forgive me! Please do not hate me, you know I couldn't bear it!"
"Sssh! Never." I couldn't say whether this meant he could never forgive me or never hate me...or both. I didn't ask.
I cried in his arms until I could cry no more. I was spent, completely and utterly.
Still holding me against him, Erik began to whisper in my ear,
"You have destroyed me, betrayed me, you know this." I flinched but nodded grimly.
"I want…to hurt you, as you have hurt me. But I find I cannot! However…"
His grip tightened almost painfully and despite his claims, I worried that perhaps he would kill me now and be done with it after all.
"I cannot, will not, allow you to run off with that child! Oh, yes, Erik heard everything! You are mine Christine! You will always be mine! Tonight we will leave this place together, as you would have left with him! You will learn to love me as I love you! You will! Oh, Christine!"
He buried his face in my hair, shaking with repressed emotion. His voice had become increasingly desperate as he spoke and he still held me tightly.
Perhaps he expected me to resist, to fight him but I had made my decision as soon as I closed the door on my dear Raoul.
Closed the door of my dressing room and the door in my heart.
There was so much I wanted to say to this man who held me but it was not the time. For now I was a liar in his eyes, I would have to change his opinion of me before I changed his opinion of him.
So, instead, I merely replied, "Yes, Erik."
The look in his eyes when I agreed caused a wave of apprehension to crash over me. His love and devotion was so overwhelming at times. Was I strong enough for this? Or should I run now…give up again?
"Then let us go, now!" There was almost excitement in his tone now…excitement and hope, perhaps even some fear.
Again I hesitated, like the weak child I no longer wished to be.
"No." I gasped. I hadn't meant to say it, truly I hadn't.
"No?" I had hurt him again.
Perhaps it would be better if he killed me. But, then again, this was a sort of death, was it not?
Why couldn't I be strong now like he deserved?
Dropping my eyes from his pained expression, I found my gaze wandering to the candle atop the dresser again. It was still fighting…
"Give me until the candle flickers out." I whispered. This strange request confused him but it soothed him also. I had agreed to leave with him. I was finally his.
"As you wish, my love." he breathed into my ear, causing me to shiver.
I could see him regarding the candle with intense curiosity.
At first, I thought he meant to blow it out, so that he could take me away at once.
But he didn't.
He merely stood waiting, as he had always waited for me…silently, lovingly…
I needed this last reprieve..
In those final moments I allowed my fear and uncertainty free reign for the last time.
I was no longer choosing the safe or the easy path, and despite how it seemed I was finally deciding something for myself. I was leaving behind all I had ever known, both willingly and unwillingly.
(There was no possible way for me to be completely willing in that moment.)
In some ways I still feared Erik but I think I was beginning to fear life without him even more. This was the only way to save everyone. Raoul would find someone who loved him enough to be content as his wife. Erik would have me at last and forever. And I would not have to destroy the men I loved anymore or watch them destroy each other.
I had to believe I would be happy. I would, though the fear of the unknown still gripped me.
I loved Erik but I was so, so afraid.
"Goodbye Raoul." I whispered into the stillness.
Erik pretended not to hear.
The candle began to die, releasing me from my dark thoughts.
I watched Erik through the mirror in those last seconds. The light played over his gleaming white mask creating layers of shadows.
The effect was eerie and yet mesmerizing. It hid his expression from me but I liked to think he was smiling, his anger forgotten in the wake of his triumph.
This was it, the beginning of forever.
Only when the darkness finally claimed the room did I turn to Erik at last, and allowed him to draw me fully into his embrace as he led me through the mirror one last time.
I knew I would never see this place again. We would disappear together, he and I, almost like real ghosts; off to haunt another opera perhaps?
Like the candle I experienced a sort of twisted pleasure.
The battle was over, I had done my best…
Only then could I admit how much I loved him, and the ecstasy I felt in the darkness with him, as his cold, soft lips met mine.
Only when the candle flickered out…
So, there ya have it! Hope you enjoyed it. Please review!
x Restless And Tempted x