Chapter twenty-seven

No, no, oh god, no!

The thought was screaming inside her head as she watched the man she loved tumble to the floor in a heavy mass. Raoul looked at his hand and dropped the weapon. He was horrified, what had he just done, the pistol clattered to the floor with a soft, click. The young man closed his eyes when she began to sob he hated this whole mess. What had he done? He had never shot anyone before; he had not meant to shoot down the man. Oh god on earth why had he done it?

"Erik look at me," she was pleading.

Then he really felt his heart ache as moved closer to her. He had truly hurt her, hurt was an understatement he had killed her inside. No, this was what was meant to happen; now he could hold her make her see that he was the real love of her life. Raoul pulled her up and hugged her hard, only to have her shove him hard enough to cause him to wince. He did not let her go, the sound of her tears were hurting him and he wanted to make them go away more than anything.

She yanked away from him and bent down to her husband while he thought over his next move. He watched the way she cupped the back of his head, lifting him so as to wake him up. Raoul closed his eyes as she pulled his head into her lap, smoothed the black locks of his hair back from his face. He wished now more than anything that he could help her but first he would have to get her away from the other man. There was only one way to do that; he would have to kiss her.

He bent down and pulled her to him, holding her as he did so and then the young man received the shock of his life. Christine pulled away from him and struck him so hard that her wedding band fell to the floor. Raoul blinked, touching his cheek and looked at the smears of blood on his fingers. She bent down and returned the aquamarine ring to her left hand before kneeling beside her spouse. The young man, still in shock stood rooted to the spot, not fully believing what had just happened.

"Chris…tine…" her husband wheezed as he reached for her.

"I am here my love." She crooned softly and kissed him.

Raoul watched with an aching heart as he realized something he never wanted to think about. She loved not he, but the one she kissed right before his eyes. The man she longed for pulled away and pulled her gently towards him as if to keep her from dirtying her hands with his blood. Raoul caught her in his arms, holding her as she struggled to free herself. He would not lose her to him, not to the beast, not now, not ever. She loved him; she always had and always would. He would not accept anything less. Christine looked at him through her golden eyes and turned back to the man she loved, her eyes begging him not to leave her. He reached for her again and kissed her face.

Raoul's heart screamed in agony as he watched her embrace her husband, who clung to her for all he was worth. His eyes glimmered in pain as she let him kiss her and brush down her brown locks. The young lord grimaced as she ran her hands over his face and brought him to her and pulled his head down. Holding him there as she kissed him. Christine waited as he tenderly brought her lips apart for the third time.

Erik wrapped his arms around her and forgot the world, letting this one moment capture him forever. There was nothing he could have in this kiss, never again would he feel the touch of her lips, nor the slight pressures of her hand. So, he took his time, made the moment last so as he would have a remnant of this dream to hold when he was forced to wake up. Slowly for his heart's sake, he kissed her for the last time. Christine let him go, looking into his eyes as he took his wedding ring from his finger and pressed it into her palm.

"No, Erik. Dear heart please do not give me this," she pleaded with him.

"Christine---" Raoul started.

"Get away from me you coldhearted bastard!" she yelled as she turned back to her husband, "Erik darling please stay awake, and don't you dare leave me. Please stay with me… god don't close your eyes, please my love…" she sobbed shaking him as he started to lose consciousness.

"Christine, we have finished this." Raoul muttered

"Finished what? Finished killing the man I love? Finished killing the father of my children, the love of my life?" She snapped.

Raoul continued as though she hadn't spoke. "It is clear to me now that I do not hold your heart and I never will…" Raoul whispered as he watched her with him. "Goodbye Christine Daaë… goodbye my love…" With that he raised his pistol and gave her husband justice as he ended his life.

Christine gasped in horror as the prince charming of her girlhood years died by his hand. She sobbed for him a moment and then turned back to Erik who was kneeling before her having struggled to his knees. She threw herself into her his arms as he tried to stand. He fell down again and gasped for breath, and the sound of her sobs became heavy while quiet. Erik pulled her down and rocked her weakly as he felt his senses beginning to slip away from him. Christine let him fearing this would be the last time she ever did so. The last time she would ever hear his voice, the beating of his heart beneath her cheek.

Erik tried to calm her down but was unsuccessful in his endeavors. He kissed the little patch of skin between the halves of her hair and hummed to her. She held on to him and sobbed for him for how long no one knows.

"Calm down miss I will make him better." Came a voice.

Christine turned to see a man with handsome jade eyes and ebony skin coming toward them. He had a man at his side; the other had the same skin-tone but brown eyes and a slightly thicker build. They came towards her, the first lifting her to her feet and holding her. She clung to him shaking and muttering pleas that he would not die letting the man rock her and shush her till she calmed down a bit. The other lifted Erik easily and carried him gently to the front of the theater where a coach was waiting. People surrounding them backed up to let them through knowing that now was not the time to be asking questions. Even the newsmen kept silent as the four of them drove off. The four arrived at a small house where Erik was lay on a bed in a small room where she stayed with him day in and out.

Charles and Natasha were at home thank god for she did not want them to see their father like this. It would not do for that to happen for Erik would be horrified to have them see him in the condition he was in. She did not sleep at all the first three days he was mending for she did not want to close her eyes and find him dead when she woke. He could not leave her he just could not, she loved him and that meant that he could not leaver her. Christine would sit by his side for hours on end praying for him to live so that she could be with him to watch his children grow up and see his grandchildren. So she could bear him, 'as many children as she cared to give him.'

When her eyes would not open anymore she would put water on her face and force them to do so. It was on the day of the anniversary of her father's death she finally succumbed to sleep, too tired to fight anymore. Or rather she almost did but forced herself to fight it again for she refused to sleep until he was well again. Her eyes were too heavy for her to open so she let them close but she sang to him to keep herself conscious. This went on for a week, and then another and still she did not dare sleep.

He was feverish from his wound and his temperature was fluctuating dangerously and so she kept awake until she could no longer bear the burn in her eyes. Erik woke in the middle of this to find her with her eyes closed and still fighting sleep weakly. He shook his head and jostled her slightly to make her open her eyes ergo seeing that he was all right and she could sleep. She moaned softly and forced herself to open her eyes. Erik wiped the trails of tears from her cheeks as she began to weep and gently took her hand pulling her weakened form down beside him easily.

All she saw was a blur of a human form and then she felt something warm and smooth wrap around her and she fell asleep. Erik lay awake, simply enjoying the feel of her in his arms and the sound of her gentle breathing. He went back to sleep like that as Nadir came in and took off his mask so as to clean the deformity before it sprouted an infection. He did forget however to put it back on and left it on the bedside table.

When Erik woke the next morning to find this he immediately covered his face and went searching for it. He accidentally woke up his wife in the process.

"Wha-what is it?" she asked thickly.

"My mask! Where's my mask!" he gasped.

Christine had not heard him but simply leaned in and kissed him hard on the lips. He responded forgetting his present dilemma at the moment and cupping her face. When they broke away he covered his face up again and went looking for his mask making Christine both look at him in confusion and smile in amusement at the same time. His hand fell away from his face and this time she caught it before he covered it up.

"Look at me darling." She murmured and turned his face toward her.

Fully exposed before her Christine was faced with the most horrifying sight of her life. The whole right side of her husband's face was a skinless mass of open veins and cartilage some of it just open bones. The patch under his eye was covered in tiny welts some of which were bleeding. The skin that was there on the edges looked as though it were the scrap of some unwanted and tatted fabric. White and fragile, paper thin and easily ripped from the flesh as it had been many times before from the look of the old remnants of scabbing on his cheek. His nose was half gone to the affect of that deformity and had no skin there either.

It was horrible.

"I'm sorry you have to be married to a man like this." Erik choked as he tried to turn away.

"Look at me." She whispered. He did. "Mm-hmm. Same eyes. Smile for me." He did. "Yes, same smile." She raised his hand to her cheek. "Same hands. Same touch. Sing for me."

"Say you'll share with me, one love, one lifetime."

"Say the word and I will follow you."

"Say you want me with you, here beside you."

"Anywhere you go, let me go too."

"Christine that's all I ask of you."

"Same voice." she murmured, then leaned down and kissed him tenderly. "Same lips with the same kiss. Hug me" He did, "Same strong arms with a matching embrace." She turned his face towards her and touched the normal side, "Same face." She kissed his forehead, "Yes, same man. Same love of my life."

She leaned down and kissed him, "Make love to me with the same passion."

"Your wish is my command my lady."

They did and when they had finished they returned to their children who happily abandoned the kitten to leap into their parent's arms. The family was never happier with their children and each other. The father, a mother, a son and their baby.

No one more so than the gentleman and his lady.

THE END