Disclaimer: Please don't sue. I don't own POTO... All I own is an overactive imagination.
Summary: ErikRaoul slash. Time, a 3parts Series. Installment 07. Life after. Lime. Angst. Family.
Warning(s): slash (that's homosexual content for those of you who don't know).
A/N: Last chapter of Installment 07. Thanks to my reviewers and readers (I'd say more thanks to my reviewers :P)
Story note: Oooh, this is post-Unspoken Words (if you hadn't known which one shot I was referring to in the previous part). Raoul has to face the fact that he can't hide Erik forever. Not much Erik/Raoul interaction. More Raoul+Philippe.
By: Lucifer Rosemaunt
Last time: They have their problems. All relationships do though, so you can't be too hard on them.
"Do you have everything put away?" Raoul flew around his room. Erik was lounging on his bed watching his lover and bedmate run around their shared room. It was a room that Erik had been familiar with before he had moved, it was Raoul's.
"Is there anything that's too obvious?" Raoul picked through his drawers. He could easily tell their clothing apart, but there was no obvious way to tell until they were pulled out. Not that it mattered to him. It looked like anyone could tell that there were in fact two sets of clothing in the drawers.
"Raoul." Erik called his name hoping to calm him down.
"God, I'm forgetting something aren't I?" Raoul opened and closed drawers without really even looking in them. "There's something big that I'm missing."
"What about your notebooks?"
"Put away," Erik answered, "Raoul."
"What?" Raoul looked at him finally.
"Calm down?" Raoul yelled and when he was close enough to the bed, Erik forcibly pulled Raoul onto the bed.
"Not my clothes," Raoul cried out, but he allowed himself to be gathered into Erik's embrace. After a few calming breaths where Erik's presence and his warmth calmed him more than anything else in the world could have, Raoul moaned, "I don't know what to do."
Erik held him tighter, "Just tell him the truth."
Raoul closed his eyes and imagined life at the estate without Erik there. It was unthinkable. He would not be able to survive, and now that he was no longer the main patron of the Opera Populaire, if Erik returned there, he would not be able to see him very often. Erik had not even moved in that long ago, but it felt so natural.
"I'm sorry you have to leave."
"I think it's better that I leave for now." Erik did not want to admit that he was not really going to leave Raoul alone at a moment like this. It was Raoul's idea to do this by himself, and Erik had agreed so as not to worry him further.
Raoul grinned. "They might make you watch Meg's child."
Erik winced and Raoul could not help but laugh a bit at his reaction. "Madame Giry knows better. When is he getting here?"
Raoul closed his eyes. "Some time this afternoon."
"I better get going then."
Erik moved to get up, but Raoul pulled him down again. With large eyes that begged him, Raoul said, "Just a few more minutes."
Erik sat back down and Raoul curled up against him closing his eyes.
He was being shaken. Realizing that he had fallen asleep, Raoul bolted up almost banging his head against the person who had woken him.
"Philippe!" Raoul yelled before checking the bed. He was alone in it and Erik was nowhere in sight.
"Raoul," Philippe took a step back, "that's quite a greeting."
Tamping down on his initial panic, Raoul slid out of bed and straightened his clothing. "Sorry, brother. I had been waiting for you but I got tired."
"I heard from the maid. She had insisted that she be the one to wake you, but I told her I would rather be the one to do so. Then another maid began knocking on your door rather loudly. I thought you would have woken up just from that."
Raoul made a mental note to find those two maids and personally thank them later.
"Well," Raoul asked in a voice that was calm, a calm he did not feel, "did you bring all your things into the house yet?"
Philippe shrugged, "I do not keep as many things as you do, Raoul. My attendants have already brought everything in."
"Then," Raoul led Philippe out of his room just in case his brother noticed anything odd, "how about lunch?"
Nodding, Philippe placed his arm around Raoul's shoulder, "That sounds good."
Erik, as promised, left the house. However, he did not go to the Opera Populaire as he had told Raoul. He wanted to see how Raoul would handle the situation. They had talked about it in great detail the moment they found out that Philippe's wanderlust had disappeared and he was returning to Paris indefinitely. After all the trouble that they had gone through just to move Erik into the estate, Raoul was in a frenzy. Erik had offered of course to move out, but Raoul had refused, for which Erik had been glad. Erik was not certain he would be able to survive a day without seeing Raoul.
Instead, they set up a guest room in the estate and planned to call Erik an artist who Raoul was supporting. It was partly true. Erik did have his paintings up in several of the art galleries that Raoul had begun to support.
Of course, Erik rarely used the guest room, and he was not sure how much worse it would be for Raoul's brother to accidentally discover that Raoul was in a relationship with his artist than to actually tell him up front. He let Raoul have his way though. After all, he was the one most stressed about the situation, and Erik could understand why.
Raoul had shared stories of their childhood growing up with Philippe as his role model. If anything, Erik was not pleased with how much adoration Raoul had for his brother.
Erik stalked the perimeter of the house keeping to the foliage to remain hidden. Watching them, Erik settled against a tree when they began to eat a late lunch. He frowned. He had forgotten to eat earlier in his haste to leave the house, and after being with Raoul for so long, he had gotten used to eating three meals a day. He could ignore his hunger though. Maybe he would sneak into the kitchen when they were eating. It was not like he could hear what they were saying anyway.
A rustle in the bushes caught his attention and Erik moved silently to prepare himself to attack whoever had the misfortune of finding him. However, the only thing that came out was the stableman's cat. Relaxing, Erik bent over to stroke the cat. It had taken to stalking him, which Raoul found hilarious. When the bushes rustled shortly after the cat's appearance, Erik simply waited.
A maid appeared holding a tray of food.
"Monsieur Erik?" She asked tentatively.
Erik rolled his eyes. As expected. The staff had taken to following the cat to find him. It was annoying to say the least, but it had occurred so many times during the past month that Erik had resigned himself to them constantly being able to find him.
"Just Erik is fine," he said gruffly, but did not move from his crouching position. He found that if he made any sudden movements, the maids usually dropped their trays. They were getting better about it though. They looked less nervous around him.
"We noticed you hadn't taken lunch so I brought you a snack," She handed him the tray, "I would have brought you a full meal, but it was quite difficult already to sneak past both the Comte and Vicomte."
Erik nodded. They knew he was not supposed to be here either. He was glad for their discretion. He was more glad that they had not run away the first time that he had appeared at the house. Raoul must have spoken to them about him, and Erik wondered what they thought of their relationship. He and Raoul were hardly discrete when they were in the house, and more than one maid had the misfortune of walking in on them. Erik could not help himself. Raoul, when he was blushing, was incredibly attractive.
He took the tray and the maid returned to the house. Finding a position to sit and be able to watch the dining room, Erik pulled the cat onto his lap as he ate.
It all started near the end of their meal. Raoul had thought it would be the perfect moment since Philippe looked quite pleased with the food and the conversation.
Raoul had explained that there would be a houseguest, an artist that he was supporting. Philippe had automatically been against the idea saying that it was inappropriate to show such favoritism. Insisting that there was no favoritism since no one knew he was at their estate, Raoul claimed to not see the problem. They made these points over and over again. Arguing around the main subject. Raoul wanted Erik to stay. Philippe wanted him to leave. It was almost funny since Raoul had thought that having a houseguest would be the only thing in his suggestion that his brother would not have a problem with. He dreaded to think how the rest of the conversation was going to go.
Philippe did not like the idea that some stranger would be living in their house. This stranger had been living in his house for a little more than a month already in fact. The thought did not sit well with him. Raoul was too innocent. Philippe was certain that his little brother was probably being used by this man. He had heard the incident with Christine and though that had been years ago, he doubted Raoul had changed so much over the past years that he was not so trusting. He could not understand why Raoul was giving some artist so much attention when he was usually so detached from all that. In fact, when Philippe heard that Raoul would be less of a contributor to the Opera Populaire he had been overjoyed. Raoul had been too involved in that place. It had mostly been Christine's fault, but even after that, he knew his little brother spent an ungodly amount of time in that place.
Just the thought that someone was here that had been taking advantage of Raoul's kindness to the point that Raoul would invite him into the household made Philippe furious. Breaking the first cycle of arguments that they had been stuck in, Philippe tried another approach. Even though he did not quite care what the situation was, he wanted more information so that he could find the man and hurt him for using Raoul in such a way.
"Who is this man?"
"Why don't you trust me?"
"You're simply too trusting, Raoul. I trust you. I simply don't trust this artist."
"What's not to trust?" Raoul stood up from his seat. He could not remain seated and argue at the same time, "I told you that it was my idea that he move in."
Philippe followed suit, pushing his chair back and standing. "Did he hesitate in accepting?"
"Yes," Raoul answered immediately. It had taken him too long to convince Erik to move into the house, "The circumstances warranted it though. I've known him for years Philippe."
"Years?" Philippe replied aghast. "Then, why haven't you introduced us before."
"You've been busy, brother."
Philippe winced. He had not meant to leave Raoul alone for so long, but he had been busy. He had been constantly pulled away from Paris just to keep up with his duties as a Comte.
He needed a drink. Walking away from the dining table, Philippe headed towards the sitting room.
Following his brother, Raoul felt bad for his response. He wished he could take it back. Philippe had not wanted to be away. Raoul knew that; it did not hurt any less because they had once been very close.
Reaching for glass for some brandy, Philippe grabbed it only to place the glass down firmly. He could not drink if he was arguing with Raoul. He would do one and then the other so that Raoul knew he was taking him seriously. Without turning around, Philippe said more to himself than Raoul. "Never too busy for you, Raoul."
"I know," Raoul responded. He knew that he need only call Philippe and his brother would be there for him, "I know. It's just that I hadn't known he was an artist at first."
"How did you meet him then?"
"We were friends first, Philippe."
Philippe could not help but think it sounded questionable. Something sounded wrong about this man. He did not trust him already especially since Raoul was surely hiding something from him.
"Let me meet him."
"Philippe, you will. But first, you've got to understand you cannot just decide he cannot stay here. This is my household as well."
"We'll see," Philippe answered in a tone that meant he would still make whatever decision he wanted.
"No. There is no 'we'll see,'" Raoul yelled. "I'm telling you. It's my decision as well."
"Tell me more about this artist then and if he is so great, why you must support him in such a way."
He did not need to support Erik. The man had enough money to buy whatever he wanted considering he had rarely used the salary the managers had been giving him. That was beside the point though. Raoul tried to calm down. This was his chance to break it to Philippe about Erik's appearance. He needed to prepare him before he saw him because Philippe had been well aware of the opera ghost situation. "He's a brilliant artist. He's had high acclamation already."
Philippe nodded not very impressed.
"It's just that he was born with a deformity."
At this, Philippe perked up. He turned around. "A deformity?"
"Yes," Raoul nodded. He slowly continued, trying to gauge Philippe's reactions, "not many people react well to him, which is why much of his work is done under so that no one knows his identity."
The situation seemed plausible. Philippe was willing to relent a little in his distaste for the artist staying with them. "Where did you meet him?"
"He had been at an opera." Raoul wished he had lied the moment he saw Philippe's expression. He could tell that his brother's mind was working through everything that Raoul said quickly. He knew given time, Philippe would realize what Raoul was skirting around.
Philippe frowned. If the man had a deformity, the opera was probably the last place a man who wanted to be hidden from the public view would want to go.
Raoul added, "He's an opera aficionado as well and couldn't stay away. I offered him a box seat so that he would not have to deal with the public."
It sounded like something Raoul would do. Philippe smiled a bit. Then, his mind connected the two. Looking at Raoul in open shock, Philippe yelled, "The opera ghost! You're housing the murderous opera ghost?"
Raoul flinched. That had been quicker than expected. "Erik," Raoul emphasized his name, "has long since stopped being the opera ghost."
"The opera ghost," Philippe yelled again, "You don't even deny it."
Raoul knew that Philippe would eventually have to learn that Erik was the artist, but he had hoped to put that off for as long as possible. However, Philippe was much too observant. "I said his name was Erik."
"I don't care what his name is," Philippe considered pouring himself that drink again, "What is he doing here?"
"He's living here."
Philippe balked, "That won't last very long. Where is he? Where is the murderer?"
He stalked across the living room, but Raoul stopped him.
"He isn't here," Raoul grabbed his arm to make him stop searching, "I asked him to leave so that I could speak with you in private."
"What does he have over you? I can find out and make things better, Raoul."
"He's not blackmailing me," Raoul said in frustration, "He just isn't."
Erik had followed them towards the sitting room. He was glad that there were a lot of windows in this particular room and that they were open. The brothers were shouting loud enough that he could actually hear their conversation. Raoul was not handling the situation very well. He had told Erik that he would try not to raise his voice. Erik smirked. Raoul had raised his voice several times already.
It was difficult keeping himself outside the building. He could easily see how much Raoul was suffering. He had expected Raoul to break down sooner because the boy could not lie for the life of him. Actually, Erik knew that was false. Raoul could lie. He was good at it. The boy just could not lie to the people he loved.
He could not lie to Erik, and Erik was fairly certain that he could not stand to lie to his brother. Yet, here he was doing so. Erik wondered if he should have talked Raoul out of this plan. Maybe if he made Raoul realize that he did not mind if Raoul told Philippe about their relationship then they would not be arguing right now.
As much as Erik said he did not care, he knew he cared more than he liked to admit. Philippe was closer to Raoul than Erik could hope to be because they had grown up together. It was not fair in Erik's opinion and he could not help himself when he glared at Philippe from time to time.
He wondered how long it would take before Raoul just broke down and told Philippe about their relationship.
"You just don't understand!" Raoul yelled in frustration.
He was throwing a fit and he knew it. He turned away from his brother to hide the shameful tears that clung to the corner of his eyes. He had never felt so helpless in his life. How many times had they been over this? How many times had he tried to explain that Erik was important to him, that Erik was necessary in his life, that Erik...?
Raoul sighed. Maybe he had not used those exact words, but his brother should have understood that. Raoul would not have fought so hard for the man if he were really just an artist. He knew that he was just going to have to admit the truth. Then, maybe Philippe would understand.
His brother had always been the only person whose opinion counted. He relied on him because Philippe was the only family he knew, and he could not let that go. He could not let Erik go either.
Running a hand through his hair, Raoul sighed. He did not know how to get through to Philippe. He did not know if it was possible. They had been yelling at each other for hours now. This was the third break in the yelling match, and Raoul wondered if he could continue like this.
Philippe, however, calmed down. Raoul was hiding something from him and rather poorly. He had an idea of what that was, but he refused to jump to conclusions. He hated to think that he could be right. Seeing the tears in Raoul's eyes, he realized that he was hurting his brother. That thought made every other consideration disappear for the moment. He wanted Raoul to be happy, but he also wanted to protect him. Right now, he knew that he could not do both. Putting aside his protective behaviour for a moment, he begged Raoul.
"Then help me understand, Raoul."
Raoul slumped against the nearest wall feeling his legs give way. Why was he trying so hard to hide what was between them? It was the most obvious reason for Erik to be staying in the house. Erik did not care if Philippe knew. Raoul knew it was his selfishness that had made him lie to his brother. He had been too afraid of rejection after his brother found out.
Burying his face in his hands, he said just loud enough that there would be no way for Philippe to misunderstand the words. "I love him."
Raoul kept his head down. He did not want to see Philippe's reaction. He knew he was a coward for it, but he just could not see disappointment in Philippe's eyes.
Philippe stood there shocked even though he had already suspected as much. Sitting down in the nearest seat, Philippe placed his head in his hands just trying to think. He did not want to say the wrong thing considering how Raoul was reacting already. He had heard the resignation in his brother's voice. He knew what Raoul was expecting from him, and he would never disown him. He just needed to think first.
Raoul loved a man. But apparently, Raoul was happy loving a man, so Philippe would accept that as readily as he had accepted the fact that Raoul had loved someone below his station. Philippe cursed, well, Raoul still loved someone below his station and that person was a man. He could handle this though. Philippe focused solely on the fact that Raoul was happy. He hoped he was. Right now, he could not actually tell.
Philippe could not help but wonder if he should have seen it coming. Had there been signs that Raoul would love a man? If anyone else found out, their family name would be ruined. They would be ruined and treated as outcasts. How would Philippe explain why his brother never married? There were so many problems with this.
He looked up across the room and Raoul was still sitting on the floor. His knees were pulled up and his face hidden from view.
"Are you happy?" Philippe asked.
Raoul looked up and Philippe was relieved to see that he had not been crying. He hated making his brother cry.
"Right now?" Raoul asked tentatively.
Philippe laughed. "No, not right now. I mean with him."
Raoul looked away. He smiled to himself and thought of how he could not imagine being happier than when he was with Erik.
The smile spoke volumes to Philippe so when Raoul answered a quiet "yes," Philippe knew the word did no justice to how Raoul felt with the ghost, with Erik.
The opera ghost. Of all the men that Raoul could fall in love with, it had to be the ghost. If he thought Raoul could have made up a worse situation than this to greet him home with, Philippe would have assumed this was some kind of twisted joke, but it was not.
It was not like Philippe had never known some of his peers had a similar preference towards men. The outcome was always the same; they married and lived miserable lives as they had secret trysts at night. Their wives and children all suffered, some more than others, but there was a betrayal there that Philippe would never wish on anyone. At least Raoul was not going to pretend though Philippe wondered if that was the best course of action.
Then, there was the fact that the ghost was a murderer. He was a ghost. Taking a deep breath, Philippe tried to think rationally. Raoul would not love someone who hurt him. At the thought, Philippe took a closer look at Raoul, but he could not really see much skin. Raoul had not looked injured. He was sure he would have noticed bruises or wounds on him. No, Raoul was not injured. Could the man have really changed? It would be a shock, but knowing Raoul, he had probably charmed the man into being a different person. It would not be the first time that it happened.
Philippe could always keep a close eye on the man and threaten him that if he ever hurt Raoul, then he would have no problem killing him slowly. Philippe never made idle threats.
Unfortunately, the part that was actually bothering Philippe the most was that someone had taken Raoul away from him. Raoul, his sweet little brother who looked up to him, was fighting him over this man, yelling at him. Philippe had never thought that one day Raoul would argue with him so obstinately. Even as a child, Raoul had done everything Philippe had asked of him with a smile and an adoring gaze. Looking at the clock, Philippe was only hurt more to realize that they had been arguing for hours now. He had not seen Raoul this passionate about something in a very long time. Someone was taking his dear little brother away from him.
"I need to see this man." Philippe stated evenly. He walked over to Raoul and placed his hand on Raoul's head, "I trust you."
His brother looked up at him with a hopeful expression. "Do you…?"
Philippe crouched so that they were eye to eye. Grinning he leaned his forehead against Raoul's like he had done when Raoul had been a lot younger, "I want to meet the man that stole you away from me."
Laughing, Raoul hugged Philippe making him lose his balance. "You're my brother. I can't be stolen away from that."
End Installment 07
Word count: 4,131
A/N: Don't forget to R/R (Read and Review)
Chapter review: Damn, that turned out to be more Raoul+Philippe interaction. If I didn't firmly believe in Erik/Raoul, I would actually slash Raoul and Philippe (I have no problems with incest apparently). But there is none of that here. Just a brother complex actually. I think that's actually really cute. Poor Erik has competition. You know he's outside (OO). I was planning to write their actual confrontation but decided to leave it to your imagination.
You should know where a part of this chapter came from. If you don't, then it's "U" from the alphabet game (with a few changes to keep with the storyline). Go check it out in my xanga or livejournal. There's a link there (you can get a link to there from my profile). Author review: The next installment is going to be separate. They're actual one shots and one of them might be a lemon.