Disclaimer: Phantom of the Opera and all related characters do not belong to me. I'm just using their likenesses for my own, and hopefully others', amusement.
Author's Notes: My first Phantom story! Hope that you enjoy! Please remember to read and review, I love to hear what you guys think!
Christine had been the one to insist that he have a grave. Honestly, Raoul was not wholly convinced that the bastard was dead, and he knew that if he wasn't completely sure, Christine couldn't have been either. But she insisted that the Phantom have a gravesite. He was starting to wonder if it was for the supposed dead man's sake or for hers.
She had visited the graveyard often while she was pregnant with Gustave, up until she was confined to her bed. Raoul rarely went with her, but when he did, he couldn't help but notice that she spent almost equal amounts of time between her father's grave and his. He'd only been there once with her since Gustave had been born, this current journey notwithstanding, but had heard from the servants that she had visited Monsieur "Ghost's" gravesite quite a few times with the infant, sometimes not even stopping to visit at her father's.
Last year, on this exact day, Christine had been preparing for what would be her last performance at the Opera Populaire, her starring role as his Aminta. A year ago today, Raoul had almost died rescuing her from a complete psychopath, a psychopath who's grave she now sat at, infant clutching at her breast as her fingers gently ran over the stone inscription. Raoul could hardly bear it as he glanced at his watch, eager to get back to the estate and then escape to his weekly poker game.
"Come Christine, don't you think enough time has passed? I mean, for God's sake, you spend as much time at this thing's grave as you do at your own father's!" He realized too late what he had said as she stiffened at his words. He wished that he could take them back but knew that he couldn't.
She spun around, Gustave still cradled to her chest. "This thing? Thing, Raoul? He was a man. His name was Erik and he was just as much of a man as you are, not a thing! He was my dearest friend when you were off gallivanting around French society, while I was weeping in the chapel in the operahouse over my dead father. He was the man who helped me find my voice, my most prized possession. He-" she suddenly stopped, looking down at Gustave who had begun to cry at his mother's raised voice.
Raoul blinked slowly, knowing that there was something important in what was just said. Or perhaps, what was not said. But still there was something there... "Erik?" he whispered, hoping that he had heard wrong.
Christine had turned and began walking back to the carriage and Raoul had to jog to catch up with her. "Erik?" he said a bit more clearly, questioning if that was really what she had said. She refused to reply.
They were almost at the carriage when he finally had had enough and gripped her arm tightly, forcing her to stop and face him. He should have been horrified that she was crying silently, while clutching the child to her chest, but it was as if that man, that monster, were in his head, mocking him, laughing at him. He paled at the realization he could no longer deny. "Gustave Erik! You named our son after that monster?" he roared.
The slap was so vicious and quick that it snapped his head to the side and left his face smarting. He turned his gaze slowly back to Christine, who was staring at her hand in shock. Gustave had begun to wail now and absently, his wife took the hand that had just struck him and patted the baby on the back, rocking back and forth on her heels. She swiftly turned and got into the carriage.
He sent a death glare to the manservant holding open the carriage door, daring him to breathe a word of this to the other servants. The other man wouldn't meet his eye. Raoul stumbled into the carriage after his wife and child.
The ride back to the estate was silent. Gustave had finally quieted and was suckling softly at Christine's breast. She stroked a gentle finger down his cheek as he fed and Raoul couldn't help but watch. His skin had begun to itch and he knew that he needed a drink as soon as he was inside the house. He didn't used to be much of a drinking man, but since his near death experience with the Phantom, with Erik, the voice in his head taunted, lots of things had changed. Glancing away from Christine and Gustave, he felt his stomach knot. More things than he realized, apparently.
Looking up from her son, Christine suddenly fixed him with a hard glare; the coldness in her eyes was unfamiliar and quite shocking to her husband. "You will not refer to Erik as a monster or a thing in front of Gustave again, Raoul," she said, her voice quiet and calm.
He knew he should have just left well enough alone, but his revelation still consumed his mind, and left him quite failing in the common sense department. "Christine, he's just a baby, it's not as if he could understand-" He was about to continue to tell her how ridiculous her demand was, but Christine's voice, soft yet clear and confident, interrupted again.
"Do not speak ill of the dead, Raoul," she whispered, her gaze softening and shifting to fix on the red mark her hand had left on his cheek. She almost reached out to him with one hand, before shaking her head slightly and returning the hand to her lap. "I betrayed him enough in life; I cannot bear to betray him in death as well." With that, she fell silent and gazed out the window at the passing landscape. Raoul attempted to get her attention but realized that Christine's mind was not there in the carriage with him. If he had to guess, he would say that it was far beneath the operahouse, on the banks of a hidden lake, in an impossible house.
The carriage came to a halt and the door swung open. Christine moved with her usual grace, even with a now content Gustave as a dead weight in her arms. "I shall be taking supper tonight in my room, Raoul. Please be so kind as to inform Anna of my request. Good night." Her voice did not rise above a soft murmur, but the steel in it was unmistakable. With that, she turned and hurried into the house, leaving her husband still gobsmacked at her newfound temper.
Shaking himself out of his stupor, Raoul retreated into the house and sought out Anna in the kitchen to inform her of Christine's request. Making his way to his study, he passed by Gustave's room and paused to listen as he heard a heavenly voice float through the heavy wooden door. She was singing again.
Inching closer to the door, he closed his eyes and just indulged in her voice. Smiling, he remembered the way that she looked that first night he had seen her again, dressed in Elissa's elaborate costume, singing her heart out and baring her soul for all of Paris to see. But his mood darkened as thoughts of what had just transpired coloured over his memories of that night. She hadn't been singing her heart and soul out for him, or Paris, or even for herself. He knew that now. She was singing for him.
Erik, his mind sneered. She was singing for her beloved Erik, apparently. And all this time, he thought that he was the knight in shining armour, taking the princess away from the horrid beast. Was it possible...he was the villain?
He shook his head and moved determinedly away from the door, into his original destination of the safe haven of his study. Casting a glance towards the bottle of brandy he kept on a side table near some chairs, he sighed heavily, collapsing in the chair behind his desk. His head fell into his hands and he rubbed at his brow.
After they escaped from the cellars, he had ushered Christine off to his estate immediately. The servants had certainly given her quite a few strange looks, as she was still dressed in a dirtied wedding dress and her blank face was tear-stained. He'd taken her up to a guest room and tried to comfort her, console her after what was probably the most harrowing night of her life. But she had just smiled softly as her gaze focused on something over his shoulder and told him that she'd like to be left alone.
He'd acquiesced to her request and left her room, but couldn't help but return a few hours later. Raising a hand to knock, he'd been surprised to hear a muffled sobbing noise coming from the other side of the door. He recalled that he had almost burst into her room, worried that she was plagued by nightmares caused by that monster, but then he'd heard something that chilled him, something that he'd put from his mind, only to remember now.
She was calling out for someone, that much was obvious. But instead of calling out for him, or even her father, she was calling out for her Angel of Music. He'd recalled being confused, knowing that her Angel of Music and that damned Phantom that had just kidnapped her were one in the same. And it wasn't fear in her voice, it was...longing. His mind had flashed to the image of Christine kissing that...thing and was suddenly filled with doubt.
Shaking his head, he had moved away from her room, certain that she was just confused. She had been through so much in the past six months, he was certain that she just needed some time to herself. The next morning, he had asked her about it and she waved it off with that same small smile, telling him that she must have been dreaming and that it was nothing to worry about.
He'd decided that ignorance was bliss and hadn't ventured near her room again at night. When they were married, they still kept separate chambers and only came together to have relations, as many aristocratic couples did, thus he wasn't sure if she still called out for...Erik.
He practically growled, launching himself from his chair and stalking over to the bottle of brandy that he'd been eying since he'd entered the room. Pouring himself a glass, he took a sip and indulged in the burn as the alcohol slid down his throat. It seemed not so long ago that his brother Phillipe had laughed at the face he made when he had his first sip of champagne, but now he found that he rather liked the numbing effect alcohol had. It helped him get to sleep after a nightmare about the Phantom, it helped him loosen up and relax when he was around friends. It helped him forget the fact that sometimes, his wife looked as if she were a million miles away, wishing she was in another's arms.
He drained the glass of its contents and grabbed a coat from the coat rack in the corner of the room, making his way out of the house and towards the carriage. Tonight, he would go to his weekly poker game and relax with his friends, pushing everything else out of mind. He would forgive Christine, he knew he would, and they would never mention what had taken place that afternoon again. He was the Vicomte de Chagny and she was his wife and Gustave was his son, and no Phantom could take that away from him.
Christine insisted on putting Gustave to bed herself, dismissing the nanny and the wet nurse. Lowering her baby boy in his bassinet, she smiled softly down at him. "You're spoiled rotten you know that, my dear? I didn't have this many people fussing over me until I became a diva," she confided in him, gently stroking the top of his head. Leaning forward, she gently kissed the top of his head and then started to take her leave. But it seemed as if Gustave had other ideas. He began fussing by the time she made it halfway across the room and the fussing grew into a full blown wail by the time she had reached the doorway.
Rushing back to his side, she picked him up, cooing and rocking back and forth. "So demanding," she murmured, kissing his head once again. She put him down again and glanced at the door, as if expecting to see someone watching over her. It seemed as if she was never alone in this house. "Do you want me to sing for you, my little Gustave? Would you like that?" Her son giggled and waved his hands in what she assumed was acquiescence, though she knew that it was only the reaction to his mother's voice.
Raoul hadn't exactly forbidden her to sing once they were married, but he made it clear that she would not be returning to stage, as it was not appropriate for a Vicomte's wife, even one as dishonored as he was. Of course, the only reason he was so maligned was because he had married her. He had further told her that if she sang as she walked around the house, she'd be mistaken for the help, who tended to engage in the same behaviour. Every now and then, when she was alone, she would sing softly to herself, taking note in the now many imperfections in what used to be her perfect voice. She thought how her teacher would scold her.
The only time she would sing freely was when she was at his grave. But even then it had been difficult, while Gustave had still been in the womb he had pressed against her diaphragm, making breathing difficult, let alone singing. She knew that he would at least want her to still be able to use her voice, the voice that he had so carefully sculpted, even if it was imperfect. It was for him. It was always for him.
"Would you like me to sing you a lullaby your papa wrote for me?" She knew that she shouldn't refer to Erik that way around Gustave. Soon, when he was old enough to understand her, she would have to stop, lest he start asking Raoul about their lessons under the opera or the lullabies that he had written for her. Because Raoul wasn't the one who had done those things. She began singing softly, a melody that she hadn't heard in years, but remembered nonetheless.
It was a lullaby that her Angel used to sing to her when she was having trouble sleeping in the dormitories. The first night it sounded in her ear, she shot up in bed, afraid that everyone could hear and would be awake and very cross with her. But then he had chuckled, his voice sounding as if he was sitting right next to her, despite the fact that no one was there. He had told her that she was the only one who could hear him and then he had softly commanded her to get back in bed. She had needed her rest for the next day's rehearsals.
Her Angel. Because that's who he still was back then, who he still was to her sometimes now. But now, now he was so much more. Her Angel, her Maestro...her Erik. Her lover. Her child's father, though he would probably never know. Her everything.
She wiped away a tear as she continued to sing to her son, smiling as his eyes fought to stay open and then finally relented, closing as his breathing evened out. Taking a few more moments to watch him sleep, Christine smiled. "He is beautiful, Erik. You would have written operas about his perfection," she whispered to the night air, wishing that somehow, he would hear her. She chuckled softly, "I would have been nothing in your eyes, compared to him."
She had gone to him the night before her wedding to Raoul. Despite the fact that she loved Raoul dearly, life without her Angel of Music was like living in a constant dream. Nothing seemed real. Nothing except for the voice singing songs in her head. He was hiding in the operahouse still and to this day she was uncertain as to how exactly she knew where to find him. But she did indeed find him and she clung to him as if she never wanted to let go. He had sent her away with Raoul and she hadn't wanted to go, she only wanted him. They spent a blissful night in each other's arms and she had been certain that the next day, they would flee Paris together and start a new life somewhere.
But Erik had apparently had other ideas.
When she awoke, the morning of her wedding, to the sunlight piercing the comforting darkness of the room, she had known that something was wrong. The bed was cold and Erik was absolutely nowhere in sight, even her voice could not lure him out of hiding. Her gaze fell upon a mask, his mask, lying on a table in the corner of the room, with a note that simply said I'm sorry.
There was no choice but to return to Raoul. Safe and comforting Raoul. She managed to sneak into her bedroom at the estate before the servants awoke and plastered on a lifeless smile for the rest of the day. The day that was supposed to be the happiest of her life and her mind had been consumed with thoughts of a man who was certainly not her husband.
That night, Christine knew that she could not indulge Raoul in his marital rights. Erik had left bruises on her body, bruises that were covered up by clothing but would be all too obvious once she was naked. She had claimed that her monthly cycle had come early and Raoul had reddened with embarrassment, waving his hands and bidding her not to say anything more. She was lucky that he had no knowledge of how a woman's body worked when it came to such things and she managed to stave off consummating their marriage for two weeks, until all her bruises had faded. When she was finally but reluctantly ready to give herself to Raoul as his wife, he had suddenly been called away to business and was gone for nearly three weeks.
By the time that he returned home, Christine had been in a panic. Her true monthly cycle had not come that month and she very well knew that she could be with Erik's child. Raoul was eager to come to her bed and she did not deny him. Months passed and she grew larger and larger with child and she knew, she knew, that it was no de Chagny progeny that grew in her womb. The baby was the only part of Erik that she had left, save for the mask and the note that he had left behind that terrible morning. But no one could ever know.
Not for the first time since she had awoke, cold and abandoned on the day of her wedding, her wedding to the wrong man, she wondered where he was. What he was doing. A chill ran up her spine as even the thought of who he might be with crossed her mind. Shaking her head out of her reverie, she walked to the door, opening and closing it quietly so as not to wake her slumbering son.
Leaning back against the door, she took a deep breath and gathered herself. She could make it to her room with her head held high, calling upon every lesson on being a diva that Erik had given her. "You are La Daaé," she whispered to herself, straightening her shoulders and holding her head high. With that, she made her way down the hallway and into her quarters, where her dinner was waiting for her. She locked the door behind her and went to sit at her little table, picking at the food while silent tears ran down her cheeks.
Tomorrow, she would act as if nothing had happened and she only hoped that Raoul would do the same. They would return to being the happy Vicomte and Vicomtess de Chagny. But for tonight, tonight she was Christine Daaé and she could weep for all she had lost.