Time Frame: Kay-verse
Characters: Erik/Christine, Raoul, Charles
Summary: Roses grew wild beneath her hands.
Notes: This was written in twenty minutes, literally, and is solely based on Susan Kay's 'Phantom.' So, if you have not read that you may be a bit lost. Anyway, I hope you enjoy.
Roses grew on the lake.
She wasn't sure how, exactly, seeing as how they were so far underneath the surface of the Earth. But they did. On the edges of the glittering waters, small slivers of sunlight seeped down through from the world above, allowing a small cluster of thorny, hardy plants to grow.
In good moment, Erik would let her tend to them, this being the closest to a garden that she would ever get. After lessons and before spending her evenings by the fire with him, she would tend to the roses, passing her hands over damp earth and the fragile shoots of the plants.
"Roses grew by the sea," she had told him one day. His golden eyes had burned brighter when she talked of happier times with her father, knowing that she never spoke of them to anyone else. "My father taught me how to tend to them. I think that they reminded him of Mother, for after her death I was the only one who would venture into the garden."
After that, Erik had put work into coaxing a small collection of roses to grow, and done evening he presented them to her. "For you," he has said simply, and the gesture spoke more to her than any grand proclamation of love.
Over time, she found something soothing in the routine. At times she thought that she had forgotten what soil felt like under her fingers. Sunlight was a need of a creature she left behind during her time with Erik, but during these moments caring for the plants she can pretend. Pretend that it is real sunlight beating down on her shoulders rather than the spidery wisps of light that whispered around her fingers.
She finds herself playing pretend more and more often as of late.
Later Erik would come and fetch her. Careful not to touch her, he would finger the scarlet blooms with his long, pale hands, and she'd watch them with a morbid curiosity. On good days, she'd brush against him as he helped her to her feet. Her dress ruffling with the great falls of his cape would light a small smile on his twisted lips, and her face would soften, just a little.
On very good days, he would pluck one for her and place it in her hair. Later she would press the blooms he gave her, keeping the memories for when she would no longer have them.
On the best of days, she would come back from his world to find her dressing room covered in rose petals. Meg would simper and twitter over the sight, sighing over how wonderful a man Raoul was.
And Christine would just smile.
Roses grew in the backyard.
They didn't before his wife arrived. All others grew – jasmine and lilies and lilac. But never roses. The first words Christine spoke to him upon reaching the estate were a soft inquiry as to if she could plant some. Immediately he had promised that he would set a servant too it, but she had insisted that she do it herself.
So he let her.
He let her cover the church when they were married with ivory roses – never scarlet, he noticed, and the summer after the wedding she set to covering her corner of the gardens with every soft of rose bush imaginable.
Her favorites were the scarlet roses. She put a bench there as she trained them to climb up a trellis overhead. She would sit there during her pregnancy, speaking to her unborn babe small, whispered stories that he was never privied too.
He knew of whom she spoke, and every year on the anniversary of her son's birth, he would place a red rose before her plate at breakfast. She cried the first year, but after that she looked forward too it. She would pick up the single bloom, and inhale it's scent in a reverent sort of way that made him feel like he was intruding on a moment that he had no right too.
Years later, Charles would ask to this tradition, and Raoul would look softly over at his wife, allowing her to explain.
Christine smiled softly at her son, kissed his forehead, and whispered, "Because you are my red rose."
She'd meet his eyes over the table, and he'd smile, just a little.
In that moment a quiet sort of understanding passed between them, and after that they never talked of if again.
Roses grow on the grave.
The stone marker was simple and modest, with soft edges and the simple inscription of 'Erik' over it's face. Over the gravestone roses grew, wild and untamed, in swirling vines that traveled and twined like the last crescendos of a symphony's score.
The young man fingered them now, smiling at how fitting it was.
Next to the marker was another, identical to the first. This one simply said 'Christine.'
Charles smiled as he passed a hand fondly over this one. The same roses grew from the grave soil here, uniting the two in death as they had been robbed of in life. He knew that far from here in the de Chagny's private resting grounds, there was a large tribute to the Vicomtess de Chagny, but that site was empty. He had not understood his father's request at the time, but he did now. Years after the fact.
The simple rose covered stone fitted her so much more than the opulent resting place of gilded marble where she was believed to lie. His first memories of his mother were her and her garden of roses. The first story he remembered her telling was that of the nightingale who died from the thorns of the white rose, and the red rose that was born from their union.
He understands now, what she said so many years before.
It made sense, now. The man who raised him was kind and everything he could want in a father, yet he always looked at him with such a curious look in his eyes, as if he were seeing someone else entirely when he looked at him. The first note he struck on the piano, and the first score he wrote on his own never failed to send a haunted look into the man's eyes while his mother would beam proudly from next to him.
It explained the way his mother interacted with Raoul. There was love there, to be sure - a bright, sunny fondness that never ceased to make him smile whenever he was surrounded by it. And yet, absent was the passion he would have expected between the man who had gone against everything he had been brought up believing for an opera singer.
He understood now.
He got to his feet, and brushed grave soil and dead petals from his knees. With one last look at the rose strewn graves, he turned to leave.
The scent of rose petals followed him all the way back.