A/N: This first chapter was originally written to stand alone. Although it resembles a view of what was supposed to have happened before Love Never Dies but it wasn't actually written in that vein. I had initially decided not to post this but a new story popped into my head and I decided to write

It's sort of my version of where I think 'Phantom of Manhattan'/ 'Love Never Dies' should have gone, although very little of this story will resemble these two tales. Therefore, this is a Phantom Fiction and NOT a LND re-write. It is mostly very different.

A few things to note: Firstly: I do not own the original characters from Leroux/ ALW/ Kay's versions of this but I do own my own characters, plot and characterisations.

Secondly: I do not write for profit and although I thoroughly enjoy reading reviews, love replying to them and VERY much appreciate people leaving them, I sort of don't write for them. I write for my own enjoyment and post to just… get this out there. The reason for pointing this out is that I would ask any would be flamers to kindly leave my fics alone. If you don't like it, it is easy enough for you to just leave it alone. I love to write and am very pleased that some people seem to get some enjoyment from my stories, but that is the extent of it. I do not write to deliberately offend people and I would ask that you do not leave reviews that might do this to me or any of the people reading this. Particularly the latter, as my readers mean rather a lot to me.

Thirdly: Although I enjoy writing I am proneto bouts of writers block and although I pre write a chunk of the story before posting, I often come unstuck somewhere around half way through. There may be breaks in this (although not until later) but rest assured I will finish it… I have yet to leave a story incomplete.

Finally: After the end of my last story (Aftermath) I came under some criticism for the way I left things. I did this deliberately. I do not think in necessary to spoon feed the readers ,you're an intelligent bunch and, from my experience, many of you like to use your imaginations a bit. I rarely write epilogues or sequels as I am all about the journey, not the ending. Once it is over, it is over. However, people should feel free to leave reviews with what they think might have happened or should have happened. I would also invite people to do a 'continuation' of my stories, if you find the endings unsatisfactory. All I ask is that you give me credit for the original and point readers in it's general direction… oh, and let me know you have done it so that I can read!

Wow, I can talk… without further ado…

"So many dreams that flew away
So many words we didn't say
Two people lost in a storm
Where did we go?
Where'd we go?

We lost what we both had found
You know we let each other down
But then most of all
I do love you
Still!"

Lionel Richie

Chapter 1

Prologue

When she breathed, a mist of hot air whooshed out in front of her in reaction to the bone numbing cold. It was almost pitch black, too dark for her to see properly now, but she felt her way along the wall, remembering all of the times she had been there before. As she crept along, being careful not to catch her foot on the loose rocks that scraped under her feet, she wondered what she was actually doing.

Marriage to Raoul was two weeks away, a day she had longed for her entire life. Everything had been planned perfectly, just as she had dreamed as a young girl growing up with her father in the North of France. She had known Raoul nearly all of her life and knew, even as a child, that someday that they would be together.

Even as a boy he had been handsome but as a man he was truly dashing, and just the sight of him was enough to melt her heart.

Her toe collided with a solid object bringing her crashing back to reality. She winced but refrained from crying out, despite the throbbing in her foot. Not much further along, the cave began to lighten slightly and she realised that she had arrived at the opening to the cellar.

The gate was agape, yawning into the vast lake, as she had expected and she gingerly slid through the gap until her legs were knee deep in the icy water. The light was not much better in there but she could see enough to wade across to the dry land on the far side and heave herself out of the water.

She looked around and her heart sank; she could see no sign of him and everything looked exactly as Meg had described it. Christine and Raoul had been long gone by the time the mob had finally made it into the lair, when they didn't find the phantom they had set about ransacking the place, destroying his home and leaving very little undisturbed.

After several long minutes searching in the vast blackness, she gave up and slumped into the chair in the centre of the room. It was the only one still standing and she was grateful of its presence. Coming here had been a mistake, she knew it was from the beginning, and yet she had done it anyway. Sometimes she did not even make sense to herself.

She didn't hear him approach, rather she sensed him there, and though she knew that he wasn't close enough to touch her, she felt his presence all the same.

'Erik,' she said softly. It echoed none the less.

'It sounds like venom from your mouth,' he said quietly. She did not know quite how he did it, yet even in a whisper he managed to sound threatening. A chill shimmered along her spine.

She swallowed back the lump in her throat, 'I knew you would be here,'

'Why are you here?' he asked without anger.

'I don't know,' she replied honestly. Turning to look at him in the dark, she was shocked at how dishevelled he looked. Say what you will about the phantom, but he was always neat, smart… he always seemed composed and collected. Rarely did his exterior betray his inner demons. She could not see him well, but could see well enough that she knew he wore no mask, nor jacket, his shirt did not glow white against the blackness, but instead looked nearly as dark as the night itself.

'Leave me,' he said quietly and showed her his back, moving away from her and not waiting for a response.

She swallowed her fear, for whatever she tried to tell herself, she was afraid of him. Anyone that insisted otherwise was lying; he was a frightful being, strong and tall, dark and mysterious…cold… terrifying.

'Why?'

He turned sharply and in an instant he was on her, his hands grabbing her wrists, his face almost pressed to hers. 'How dare you!' he spat, fury and pain burned deep into the tone of his voice. His eyes shone gold and silver flecked across the normally blue orbs.

She flinched away but he held her wrists tightly, 'Erik…'

'Stop saying my name, stop talking to me,' he growled. He threw her back and she stumbled, hitting her foot on some debris and tumbling to the ground. She landed hard and cried out, but he did not turn back to look at her. 'Get out,'

Christine struggled back to her feet, aching from the fall as her wrists throbbed from his tight grasp. She stood stock still staring at his back.

'You have no business here,' he said, his voice calmer.

'I needed to see you,' she said softly.

He glanced over his shoulder, 'For what purpose?'

She swallowed. 'The kiss…'

He turned. 'What kiss?'

'Here, when… you know what kiss,'

'There was no kiss,' he snapped, anger blazing in his eyes. 'There was only your act of manipulation, your pity,'

She stared at him, she knew it and so did he, 'You felt it,'

He said nothing.

'I know you did,' she said, her heart pounding wildly. 'You felt it too,'

When he still did not reply, when his eyes gave nothing away to her, she said, 'I have kissed before but I have never felt anything like that,'

He snorted out a half laugh. 'And that is why you came to me?'

This time it was her turn to fall mute, she did not know how to answer now, she should not have come, how could she know what would happen, how he would react?

'This kiss,' he said, 'You came me here to convince me that I felt something that I did not? This kiss is why you are here?'

She nodded.

'I felt nothing,' he said simply.

She did not believe him. She could not believe that she was the only one that felt it, the earth shudder, the tingle, the rush, the pain… 'Then kiss me again,'

He stared at her for what seemed an eternity, his eyes piercing into her, 'You jest, surely?'

She shook her head. No, she didn't. She had never been more serious before in her life. 'If you did not feel it then I must have imagined it. And I would like you to kiss me again, so that I know,'

'What is this?'

Unsure of what he was asking her, she remained silent.

'What are you doing?' he asked with less anger than confusion.

'I want you to kiss me,' she insisted, holding firm. 'That is why I am here and I am not leaving until you do. If you say that you felt nothing, then prove it to me,'

He looked astonished and in other circumstances she might have found it funny, it was such rarity. It was only then that she noticed that her hands were trembling and her stomach was somersaulting.

'Kiss me,' she said, hoping it sounded like a demand, knowing that she sounded more like desperation.

Erik looked at the floor, at his hands, closed his eyes and blinked them open again.

Before she could speak again, she was in his arms, caught in that universe that was neither real nor false, the blissful in-between that she felt when he was near her. Their lips locked and she grabbed his shirt, tugging him closer as the power of the kiss almost overwhelmed her. She felt it again and again, ripples of sensation throughout her body, feelings that she had never had before.

It seemed so cliché but she was convinced that the earth shifted slightly beneath her feet, that the ground was no longer entirely stable.

His hands were strong and pressed her close as the kiss lingered and then, finally, broke away.

He stepped back, leaving her standing there, unsteady and breathless.

'Did you feel nothing, Erik?' she asked him, softly.

He looked at his feet, refusing to meet her gaze. His anger was gone, replaced with what, she did not know, but she knew that the anger was no longer there. She could feel the weight of it lift from them.

'I feel the same thing I always feel when I am with you, Christine,' he said quietly after what, to her, felt like an eternity.

She stared at him but he would not look up, he would not meet her eyes. 'What is it?' she asked, desperate to know. Confused and moved, at the same time. 'Tell me what the feeling is because I do not understand it,'

'Does it frighten you?' he asked, finally glancing up. Their eyes met.

She nodded because it did frighten her. The ground should be still, it had no right to unbalance her.

'It is love, Christine,' he said gently. 'It is love that I feel whenever I see you and it is love that I feel when I kiss you,'

Love. It hit her hard and fast, and suddenly she knew. How naïve she had been to dismiss the flips of her stomach, the soaring she felt when he sang to her, the pangs inside when he spoke her name. What a fool she had been to not see it, to not see him. How cruel, how naïve… how utterly foolish.

She stepped to him and reached for his hands, when they were in hers she leaned up and kissed him again, with softness, with care… with love. He did not move away, he did not kiss her back, he did not breathe. When she moved back she felt a blush creep up her cheeks.

'You shouldn't be here,' he said but his voice was soothing, this time. 'You should go now, to your home,'

'But Erik…'

'You don't belong here,'

'But you feel it!'

His shoulders sagged. 'I do,' he said. 'More than you could ever know, but I am not the one for you. I am too callous, too dark… too ugly for you,'

She shook her head. 'I don't feel this with… with Raoul,'

Erik didn't say anything, he didn't need to, she could see in his eyes that he was letting her go. It was the same look as the night of Don Juan, the same sorrowful, intense look.

'I should feel this with him,' she insisted quietly, she wanted him to understand and yet powerless now to change anything.

'He will take care of you,'

'You will take care of me,'

She grabbed his arm and when he turned she begged, 'Kiss me again, please Erik, if you must make me leave you then kiss me again and I shall go. Just… I want to feel it again, I want a memory from you … to keep,'

He raised his hand and touched her chin, such delicacy from such power, he stroked the edge of her jaw with his thumb and pressed a soft kiss to her mouth. Her hand rested on his chest, she could feel his heart and as the kiss deepened, she knew that she could not turn back. When he pulled her close, when she felt his strong arms envelope her, she knew that he was all she needed. There was no Raoul, there was no wedding, there was no future without him.

Erik must have sensed this because instead of breaking the kiss, he deepened it further. Possessed, she let her hands stroke his chest, the muscles of his back, she tugged at his shirt, demanding and wanting. If she felt resistance she simply kissed him harder until he relented, until his lips left hers and travelled along her jaw and down her neck.

She let him touch and caress her, she let him kiss and hold her, want and undress her. There in the darkness, she allowed what he had always wanted and what she never knew she needed. She gave herself to him, holding him close to her, feeling each breath he took, each move he made, hearing each sound he uttered. Eyes closed she clung to his strong body, felt the binds of his muscles like rope beneath her fingertips.

She let him love her and she loved him in return.

Finally, in his arms, wrapped in a blanket, drowsiness overcame her and she felt sleep take over. Too tired to speak she managed one last glance at his face, he was awake, staring at the ceiling of the cavernous room. She wanted to tell him but could not, sleep came too quickly.

That night she dreamt of his hands, of the ground moving and no longer did it terrify her. When she awoke, Erik was not there. All that remained of his presence was a single red rose, tied with a black ribbon and a note.

'Christine,

If I could tell you all the ways I love you, I would be here, writing, for an eternity. Since the moment I met you, you have been my everything. It is my pleasure to have known you and to have loved you but I must leave you with your safety.

I have watched you sleep tonight and it was the sleep I have always longed for. The peaceful sleep of the just. You should always have this and with me, I am afraid, you will not.

Though I will love you endlessly, I cannot be with you and you cannot be with me. I wish I could explain this better.

Be happy and be loved. Though you may not feel it for him, Raoul feels it for you. If nothing else, you will always be safe with him,

Forever,

Erik'

A/N: Please bear in mind that the whole story will most definitely not follow this pattern and this is the last time that you will see Erik for a while… however, he is prominent to the story(as he always is in my fics) and his air is everywhere.

I ask those of you who wish to continue from here to:

Be patient.

Prompt me, where appropriate, with PM's etc if you think I have left it too long between updates. I am determined that this story will take no longer than 6 months to finish!

Remember that I am hoping that this will be a slow build, there will be chapters that may not feel relevant but, in my opinion, are, for a variety of reasons.

If you want to ask a question; ask, although I will not guarantee satisfactory answers.

If you want to guess- guess; but if you genuinely think you have the ending nailed down… please don't post it on the reviews section- I don't want any spoilers for other readers. Feel free to send them to me, though.

Hope you enjoyed the Prologue x