Welcome to the story that's been receiving my inspiration for quite some time. I'm rather worried about it, because (I think) it's a bit different from anything I've done before. Just give a clicky to the little button and tell me what you think. Perhaps cliche in the beginning...but perhaps not. Anyway, enjoy!

"Please, just leave me alone!"

The flustered young woman sat down into the nearby chair heavily, a sigh escaping as the other women bumped and tripped over each other in their haste to exit and obey their mistress's wishes. Even after the door closed and the flurry of the many skirts died, the young woman still sat, staring into her hands folded neatly on her white lap. Warm and joyful sunshine soaked through the window and stained the floor, yet the woman would have paid less attention to the weather if it had been hailing.

Slowly, as if in a trance, she removed the long and soft veil, setting it carefully onto her lap and trying to imagine what it was going to be like to wear it in front of dozens of people. Perhaps it would mask her terror. There was, of course, nothing to be terrified about. She and her fiancée were very much in love and they had gone through many trials to reach this day. However, the uncertainty of her future unsettled her all the same, as it was with all new brides. For the hundredth time that day, she went over to the full-length mirror that rested in the opposite corner and examined herself in her white dress. It was a very lovely dress, and she smiled at the way that it moved around the floor. With hands that shook ever so slightly, she adjusted it once again, smoothing the slight folds in the skirt and pulling the sleeves in order to achieve what she hoped was a picturesque bride. After all, the wealthy would be coming to see her, but they would not come to applaud and admire this time. She swallowed nervously and pulled at her hair for a few minutes before giving a chiding little laugh and turning to face the window.

Her gaze drifted to her bare finger on her left hand, and, as if seized by a sudden impulse, she quietly went over to a small chest that was half-full of odds and ends she hadn't the courage to part with: letters, a photo or two, old programs, a knitted shawl given to her by a dear friend, and other such commodities. She knelt down, careful not the muss her dress, and pushed aside all of them, feeling for the corner of the fabric that lined the bottom. When it was finally between her fingers, she pulled it back slowly, staring intently and finally catching the slight shimmer of gold.

Footsteps neared her door and she quickly pulled away, becoming aware that she had been holding her breath. Guilt flooded her stomach and she said a quick and silent prayer before standing, yet the heavy footsteps merely passed by, leaving her drowning in silence once again. Another thirty seconds passed by, and once again she knelt, her mind becoming quite focused and her hands fumbling for the velvet. The gold ring shimmered still, its quiet symbolism nearly forcing her to flee from the room, but she picked it up slowly, nearly dropping it once or twice. It was cool between her fingers, and she, becoming even more enthralled by each passing second, gingerly slipped it on her finger.

As she looked into the mirror yet again, she looked at it resting plaintively on her hand and nearly shuddered. The plain and harmless little thing had been the source of so much pain and sorrow that she could feel its deadening weight pull at her hand. She could not help but stare at the gold and wish away so many things.

"Second thoughts, my dear?"

She could feel herself nearly swooning but remained upright, frozen into her position and gazing into the mirror. The reflection of a tall, thin man dressed in black burned her with his yellow eyes, and she remained silent, petrified.

"How flattering; I don't wish to perceive things incorrectly, yet I was sure that you would begin shrieking hysterically."

There was a moment of silence, and she finally built up enough shaky courage to stutter out, "I could, you know...scream."

With an easy sigh, he removed his hat and set it on the bed, saying, "I very much wish you wouldn't. I don't want to make this difficult and you might hurt your voice."

Christine remained rooted to the floor and watched as he casually strolled about the room, craning his head to examine the ceiling and elaborate light fixture.

"Does this room make you happy?" he questioned, stopping to look at her with his hands clasped behind his back. "It's big, beautiful, and obviously suited for a lady."

"I – I..." She nervously pulled on her sleeves once again. "I've never thought about it."

He continued to walk about the room, stealing glances at her every now and then

"Your dress suits you nicely," he finally admitted. "Although I always imagined you with a long train, Christine; yes, a very long train, with white flowers in your hair and a ring of them about your waist."

"What are you doing here?" Christine finally whispered. "You're – you're dead. I read the Epoque – "

"Ah, yes," he mused, cutting off her stuttering. He was silent for a minute, examining her with that searing gaze. "Do you think I'm a ghost, Christine?"

She replied very softly, "At one time. But I have since learned that you are no ghost, nor will you ever be."

When his eyes lit up, she could tell he was smiling strangely with his twisted lips. "It was mainly for my benefit, you see. Daroga needed to be convinced somehow...I'm quite positive that the advertisement did it. Christine, there's also something that I must talk with you about..."

The young woman gasped slightly as he made a quick and cat-like move, ending up so close to her that she could smell the slight stench of death radiating from him. She stumbled backwards, reaching for physical support and finding it offered by her nightstand. Erik advanced still, his eyes beginning to glow as they always did when he was angry.

"I waited, Christine," he hissed softly. "I waited for two weeks. I convinced myself of many things, but after the minutes ticked away and the hours slid through space, I realized that you weren't coming. It was very...disappointing." As the last word sliced through the air, he leaned even closer, and Christine fumbled with the only weapon she could find: a fountain pen that was resting on the stand beside her bed. To her anger and surprise, he merely laughed when she brandished it.

"Get away from me," she managed to command. "Leave me alone. Take your ring, if that's what you want; I shall be married soon, and you have no business here!" Christine felt quite stunned by her own boldness.

A pressing minute of silence hung around them heavily, yet Erik did not seem at all uncomfortable.

"As a matter of fact, my dear, I do intend for you to be married soon. There is some unfinished business between us, something which I intend to correct today."

"There is nothing left for us! Everything that needed to be said has been. Here – " She hastily pulled the ring off of her clammy finger and held it out to him. "Here. Take your ring back and leave me alone."

"Erik gave it to you as a gift," he muttered, staring at it. "Something to return to him when you buried his body."

"I cannot accept this any longer," Christine insisted. "I am soon to be married."

"Yes," Erik agreed, blinking a few times as if coming out of a deep sleep. "Yes, soon."

To her terror, he began to rummage in his pockets for something, and she quickly picked up the pen once again.

"Erik, stop it!" she demanded, creeping toward the door. He followed nonchalantly, never looking at her and still digging through the inside pockets of his sleek and baggy black jacket. When he finally found what he was looking for, he held it up and unscrewed the lid off of a small vial.

Now frantic, Christine reached for the doorknob, pushed open the door, and screamed her fiancée's name as loudly as her voice would permit. Erik gave a slight hiss, pulled Christine in, slammed the door shut, and roughly tugged her head back. The liquid was bitter and made Christine's eyes burn as he angrily poured it into her mouth. With the same courage and audacity that was coming to her more frequently, she spat it out. Erik heatedly poured the rest of the contents into her pink lips before clamping her mouth shut and massaging her throat, forcing her to swallow it.

He could now hear hurried footsteps accompanied by frantic shouts and the constant yelling of Christine's sacred name. The young woman in question was beginning to sway, and, with a quick and graceful swoop, Erik swept her into his arms.

Mere seconds later, the door burst open, and Raoul de Chagny stumbled into the room, his blue eyes wide with fear.

"Christine?" he called frantically. "Christine!"

His gaze rested on the crumpled veil and then wandered over to the open door on the balcony. With an anguished cry, he fell to his knees.

One of the men who had accompanied him rested his hand on Raoul's quivering shoulder. "What should we do, monsieur?"

The young man gently touched the veil. "There is nothing we can do. She's gone."