Paris, May 1886
"Why did you do it, Christine?" His soft yet serious voice seemed to echo throughout the suddenly small room.
Christine, staring out at the stormy night, tensed. She knew exactly what he was speaking of and yet she truly wasn't sure if she was ready to discuss that heart wrenching night from all those years ago. But you must!
Suddenly, the gloomy night seemed a reflection of the emotions that were inescapably building inside her.
She turned to him. "What," she simply asked.
Erik rose from the chair he'd been sitting in. He was an incredibly intimidating man, purely because of his physique alone. He was much taller than she and the intensity of his masculine physique complimented the power of his entire being. He was a magnificently beautiful man with midnight black hair and light amber eyes.
He was one of perfection in Christine's mind, despite the deformity on the right side of his face that marred him imperfect and hideous in the eyes of society. It was this deformity that led to his wearing of a white leather mask on that side of his face. A mask that desolately defined him throughout his entire life, she thought miserably.
He walked toward her and asked her once again. "Why, in front of all of Paris, did you tear my mask from my face that night of Don Juan Triumphant?" His voice sounded of a quiet desperation, of a subtle anger, an emotion that she'd become so familiar with over the past years. "Why, Christine, knowing that that moment would be my greatest humiliation and demise?"
Christine was silent for some time. She had absolutely no idea how to convey her thoughts, her feelings, to this man whom she felt so much for, as she wished she could, as she felt she truly could.
She turned back toward the window, unable to look into the hauntingly beautiful eyes of the man she'd so passionately longed for. His voice, his spirit, intimidated her enough. But those eyes had become her weakness.
She was just a petite, young woman, and only the mere age of two and twenty. Yet so much had occurred in her short life. So much despair. Too much despair. She was the contrasting light to Erik's darkness. She had brown hair that fell into an abundant of tiny ringlets. Her eyes were a light hazel and her skin the palest white. Yet, despite her beauty, her light, she'd always felt a sadness, an emptiness. She wondered if it were these feelings of loneliness that caused her to return to him so many years later.
She finally spoke, her voice barely above a whisper. "I felt a myriad of emotions that night, Erik. Anger…fear…desperation…despair. I knew it was you on that stage with me. I was frightened. Not only of the eternal passion your voice and touch brought out in me, but of your ultimate doom once you would be found out. I…I had to save you!"
Her impassioned emotions finally took over, her soft and timid voice becoming more powerful. "I knew…I knew that if I had exposed you completely that you would go mad, that you would leave and…take me with you. It was the only way I knew how to protect you! They were going to kill you!"
She turned to him. Her voice had become more intense and desperate, angry, as she finished her bold admission, her sudden courage surprising herself. She was very much a woman now standing here in front of him and she needed him.
No longer was she the lost, lonely little girl he'd deceived for so many years, the lost young girl who couldn't handle his passion, his dark soul.
No longer was she afraid to speak the truth, to confront him…to love him.
Erik was terrified as he desperately listened to his impassioned angel. For what would happen if he was to lose her again after all these years?
She continued, never taking her eyes off him. "Yet, I hated you! Once again you deceived me, betrayed me on that very stage! In the very opera you had so passionately written for me! But I couldn't let them kill the beautiful man who gave me my voice, my very soul! I knew that if you took me with you they wouldn't have had that chance to…to kill you." She began choking on her words, completely distraught. "Raoul never would have allowed them to shoot you with me so close. It would have been too much of a risk on my life. I never would have thought you would have been so daring and foolish enough to join me on that stage knowing all of Paris was on the hunt for you!"
She moved closer to him, her voice becoming a passionate whisper, the same voice Erik had fallen in love with all those years ago. "Yet, despite everything, the betrayal I felt, your deception, I can never forget that passion, the passion that only you could emerge from the depths of my soul. Not only that night, Erik, but the night after my debut performance when you revealed yourself to me for that first time and abducted me to your lair…and seduced me with your music," she murmured, gazing into his frightened eyes.
"Christine." Erik reached his hand out to caress her cheek but she abruptly stepped back.
"No! I must say this! I have wanted to tell you for five long years how I have felt! Before, I was an innocent, naïve young child. I was utterly hopeless, lost…alone. Now, however, I am very much a young woman and we both deserve the truth! For years I truly thought you were the Angel of Music my father so fantastically spoke of when I was a young girl. You taught me so much throughout my years of loneliness. You were truly…the only friend I had ever known, except for Raoul, of course."
Erik flinched at the mention of his rival once more. Yet he knew that if he ever had the chance to be with Christine once again, whether as a lover or friend, he would have to let her speak. For what if she never forgave him? In his entire two and forty years he'd never been so incredibly petrified.
"You were all I had," she continued. "How could I have known that through it all, the years of growing and laughing and loving together through music, that you were a flesh and blood man? When you revealed yourself to me that night I was ecstatic, mesmerized and yet, reluctant. Not only were you a flesh and blood man, but you were the infamous opera ghost, the Phantom of the Opera! When you brought me down to your lair, to the depths of Hell itself it would seem to me sometime later, I didn't know what to think!"
She paused, clearly reflecting that erotic night, passion illuminating her hazel eyes. "So, I just felt and listened and became seduced, completely entranced by you! You intrigued me, terrified me! You were so very powerful with me! I wanted you…I desperately wanted you! In my mind we were two lost souls who were finally able to come together and become one, not only in music, but in mind, body and soul! You seduced me but I couldn't understand what I was feeling. It was all so incredibly overwhelming!" She began to cry, as if those haunting memories were too much to bear.
She looked up at him once more. "But I wanted you, Erik, with my entire being. That night I very much became a woman and I couldn't understand how…how my Angel of Music, no, the Phantom of the Opera, could bring out this wanton woman in me! I had never known nor felt such desire in my whole life. I was very much a woman that night, Erik." She uttered those final words softly. Erik had hardly heard them.
She was a woman that night and he had wanted her, no matter what it would take, he had to have her. How could he have been so incredibly foolish, so unbelievably selfish? Despite her being an impassioned woman that night she was still very much the lost and lonely girl trapped within, he'd just refused to see it.
She turned away from him and began pacing the candlelit room, her eyes becoming dark shadows, reflections of the dark truth they both wanted to forget, a dark truth that had inadvertently bound their souls together forever.
"Then the very next morning, the dream, the desire, ended." Her voice darkened with a disturbing anger that terrified him. "When my curiosity brought me to do the unthinkable act of ripping off your mask, it wasn't your face that terrified me as I had first thought, but your abrupt and dangerous reaction. You lashed out at me, yelled at me! I was just a young, innocent and confused girl, Erik! I hated you in that very moment yet I wanted to help you! I just wanted to hold you and…love you! I never wanted you to be lost and helpless like I had been throughout the years without my father. I just wanted to love you, to hope that you were everything I would ever want in life, but you never gave me that chance!"
She stopped pacing the room and turned toward him, her eyes displayed the very desire he remembered so well from the night he seduced her with his music. "You…I always wanted…you, Erik."
For what seemed an eternity they both stood facing another, neither daring to look away. She was incredibly beautiful in this moment. She loved him, she wanted to save him!
Yet Erik hated himself. Their entire relationship, whether it was one of a teacher and his student, a father to his daughter, a friend and companion, or perhaps even a lover to his one and only, had been one complete misunderstanding. Erik knew their myriad of relationships had been one false impression after another, a tremendous misapprehension that may have led to the permanent demise of their twisted and complicated love.
In the beginning he had only wanted to be that spirit, the Angel of Music, she had so desperately hoped would come to her and teach her the beauty of music. He'd been a father to a daughter, and a companion, while also being a teacher, a mentor. However, as the years went by and he found himself falling for the young woman she was becoming, Erik found himself wanting to become more than her friend, than her surrogate father. He wanted to be her lover, her soul. How could he possibly know that his budding love for the young soprano would possibly destroy them both?
Erik knew that this was the moment of truth. He knew he couldn't lose her again, he just couldn't!
Christine turned away from him. He walked toward her and placed his hands on her shoulders. He could feel her trembling. "Oh, Christine," he whispered in her ear.
Erik found himself trembling as well, fighting back the tears Christine seemed to be unable to withhold.
He drew in a deep breath. "That night when I first abducted you I was just as terrified, perhaps even more so. I had never known such feelings! I had never known passion and love until I found you, even if it had been unrequited," he murmured.
"I desperately wanted you! You had touched my soul, Christine!" He paused. "Yet, I didn't just desire your mind! I desired your body, your soul! I wanted everything from you. I knew I was being powerful with you. I knew how selfish I was being. I just…I just wanted you so damn much! I wanted the young, beautiful woman I knew you to be, with the angelic voice that I had fallen in love with." He paused once more, sighing. "I must admit that I had first fallen in love with your voice," he said with reluctance. Forgive me, angel.
He was silent for some time, remembering that morning in his lair when she had ripped his mask from his face. He knew that that had been the defining moment in everything, the beginning of the terror, the confusion, everything horrific in their short lifetime together.
"Yet, that next morning after I had lashed out, after berating you, I found myself giving you my soul," he quietly continued. "I let you into my mind, revealing to you that despite living in Hell I truly wanted Heaven…with you. And in that very moment, the moment you courageously returned my mask, I fell in love with you, Christine. Not your voice or your beauty, but with you, Christine, the woman I had known and felt you'd become in that moment…in that night when I seduced you with my music, my soul…my body."
He slowly turned her to face him, tears streaming down her lovely cheeks. His eyes burned with his own. He lifted her chin, forcing her eyes to meet his. He wanted her to know he loved her still, that he'd always love her. He knew he was risking it all once again, but he wanted no more lies. He never wanted to hurt her again, to deceive her.
"That first night, all I wanted was to lay you down and make love to you," he ardently whispered. "I never meant to deceive you, to betray you…to hurt you. I love you, Christine. I love you so much it hurts. I love you more than my own life! I never meant to hurt you! I didn't know how to convey my love. I'm so sorry, my angel."
He looked deeply into her eyes knowing his longing for her reflected in his own. "All I knew was that I needed you. I still…need you."
Christine began sobbing and threw herself into his arms. He returned her embrace, wrapping his arms around her small waist with complete devotion. He never wanted to let her go.
"Oh, Erik," she whispered. "I have always loved you. I have always desired you…yet not as my Angel of Music or as the Phantom of the Opera, but as the flesh and blood man. Erik, you are very much a man and now…I am very much a woman. I may not understand everything of love and passion but I so would very much like to try."
She looked up into his eyes and caressed his masked cheek. "I love you, Erik," she whispered. "Make love to me, my beautiful man."
Erik gazed intently upon his angel. For years he'd dreamt of this moment. He was truly a flesh and blood man and she a flesh and blood woman. He'd always desired her, always loved her. No other living creature had ever possessed his heart, his soul, and he knew there'd never be another. He loved her with his entire being.
Tonight there would be no past, no future, just the present, an eternity, despite all that was still left unsaid. He began caressing her tear stained cheeks. Succumbing to the passion she alone stirred in him, he gazed into her invigorating eyes, innocent hazel eyes that bespoke of the passion she'd revealed only moments before. Of a passion that was without deception, a passion of complete truth.
Erik bent his head toward Christine, his lips lightly brushing against hers.
"Christine," he whispered, their souls becoming one in a passionate kiss.