A/N: Please, no one kill me. I know I have a lot of catching up to do on my multichapter stories, but this idea just wouldn't go away. Seriously. Stupid plot bunnies...I'm trying a new style of writing in this one, experimenting, (not using quotation marks) and also going for a sadder, darker plot line...anyway. I also make a pretty obscure reference...so unless you're a huge geek (like me) you probably won't get it.

This is set two months after Christine leaves with Raoul and is told form her point of view.


Smoke and Mirrors

She's come back for nearly two months now, hoping to see him again. She's told herself it's wrong, she shouldn't feel like this...She presses her hands to the cold glass of the mirror, as though she's trying to absorb some sort of energy from it - his essence, perhaps - but she doesn't try to open it. She's afraid of what she might find.

She's memorized every groove in the frame, every detail of this mirror. She knows exactly how it works; she knows it's two-way, she knows about the pivot system he installed...and even though she knows, she doesn't feel betrayed...because she knows why.

At long last, she gets to her feet and pushes the face of the mirror. It swings open on its pivot and she steps into the dark corridor. It's paved in smooth stone. The candles on the walls are lit - which confuses her - and their flickering lights cast eerie shadows. She moves slowly through the passage, her echoing footsteps the only sound.

There's someone waiting for her at the lake shore. He looks at her, and then speaks in his heavily accented French.

Good evening, mademoiselle. He's been waiting for you.

Waiting for me? she asks anxiously. For what?

To die, I expect. Come with me, mademoiselle, if you would.

She sits silently in the boat and the daroga rows them across. At the opposite shore, she picks up her skirts and runs as fast as she can, through the house beyond the lake and into his bedroom.

He's lying on top of the covers, lying so still that for a moment, she's afraid he's dead. But then, oh, so slowly, those haunted, sunken eyes open and gaze into hers.

Christine, he whispers hoarsely. You came back.

She kneels beside the bed, trembling. Yes, of course I came back...I had to say goodbye...

Is that all this is, then? he says, and laughs harshly. A belated goodbye? He coughs, and her hand flies to her breast.

Oh...oh...are you all right?

No, my dear, I'm afraid I'm quite sick. You should probably go now, Christine. You've said your goodbyes.

I won't, she says stubbornly. I'm going to stay with you until...until...

Until I die? he says blandly.

She looks down. How can you speak of dying like that?

Like what?

So...so casually.

He laughs again. Oh, my dear child, death is such a part of my life that I cannot help but speak casually of it

He says you're dying, she whispers. Why? What is it? Let me help?

You cannot help, he says, and he isn't sad. He's happy, his voice is gentle. He's happy to be leaving her. And help is not needed. He closes his eyes and then opens them again. Are you sure you want to stay?

Yes, she says, and it's barely more than a whisper.

And he closes his eyes again and she slowly takes his hand. It's cold, cold as death, even though its owner still has life in his body. She holds his cold, white hand in hers, trying to warm it. The long, skeletal fingers are wrapped securely around her delicate ones. She holds his hand and she doesn't let go. She's his anchor to this world, but sometimes even an anchor isn't strong enough to stop a doomed ship from sailing off, never to be seen again.

His hand is so cold, so cold that she doesn't notice. She's sure he's still alive. She ignores that his chest no longer rises and falls with breath, that his hand is limp, that no heartbeat pulses below her fingertips.

She doesn't know how long she's been sitting there, until the daroga enters and gently touches her shoulder. And then she knows.

One tear falls down her cheek and lands on his cold, cold hand. She doesn't cry any more, she just sits. And she gets up and lays her head upon his chest, above his heart, and whispers three simple words, three words he's never heard in his life, and now he never will. She whispers them, and she thinks perhaps, just perhaps, he might hear them. And she thinks that, just for a moment, she sees him standing and smiling at her, and she hears his music...And it makes her weep.