Disclaimer: I do not own POTO in any way, shape, or form

Author's Note: My attempt to write an E/C fanfic where everyone is actually in character. Tell me whether or not you think I succeeded.


Christine looked down at her sleeping fiancé. It was sweet of him to guard her room, but she really didn't need him to do this. And besides, she needed to talk to him. It was important.

"Raoul," she called softly, shaking his shoulder gently.

He opened his eyes and straightened hurriedly.

"I wasn't sleeping. I was just resting my eyes," he assured her.

She smiled.

"Listen, Raoul," she said. "I need to talk to you."

"What is it?" he asked.

Slowly, Christine removed her engagement ring from the chain around her neck. She handed it back to him.

"I'm sorry," she told him. "But I can't marry you."

"What do you mean?" he asked. "I promise, I'll protect you from the Phantom."

"That's just it," Christine sighed. "I've been thinking over it for a few days, and I've realized that you're not the one I love."

"Christine, what are you saying?"

"I love the Phantom," she admitted.

There, she had said it. She watched his face for the anger that was sure to appear. To her surprise, he didn't seem angry.

"Christine, you're not thinking straight," he warned her. "I know he's your 'Angel of Music,' but he's a demon. He'll hurt you."

"He won't," Christine insisted. "He loves me, he really does."

"How do you know?" Raoul asked.

"He's already kidnapped me once," she reminded him. "And he did nothing to harm me. He only asked me to marry him. He's just so sad and alone. He needs me."

"Christine, the man is insane." Raoul argued. "Just because he was nice this time doesn't mean he'll always be that way. I don't want you to get killed."

"Raoul," Christine begged.

He searched her eyes. At long length, he seemed to find something in there that satisfied him.

"Can you promise me you'll wait here until I come back?" he requested. "I won't be more than twenty minutes."

"If he comes…" Christine began.

Raoul cracked a sad smile.

"You can tell him to wait, can't you?" he suggested.

Christine nodded.

"I suppose," she agreed.

"Thank you."

Raoul turned and walked away.

True to his word, he returned just over fifteen minutes later. He handed Christine a letter marked with his personal seal.

"Give this to the Phantom," he told her. "Tell him to leave his reply in box five, sometime within the next two days."

Then, he turned and left. Christine was a bit disappointed that he hadn't offered her a goodbye kiss, but she had chosen the Phantom. She was lucky he wasn't angry at her, although, in some ways, it was much more painful to see her best friend looking like an abandoned puppy dog.

"Christine," a haunting voice called.

She smiled and turned to face the man she had fallen in love with.

"Erik," she whispered.

"So you have chosen me?" he asked.

"Yes," she confirmed. "I love you."

"Let me see what that insolent suitor of yours wrote," he requested.

Christine hesitated. Yes, Raoul had told her to give it to him, but she was worried. If Raoul had written something that annoyed the Phantom, he would no doubt end up dead. She might not love him the way he loved her, but he was still a dear friend.

The Phantom plucked the letter from her hand.

"Greetings Monsieur Phantom," he read. "Christine has told me that it is you she wishes to be with. Congratulations. This breaks my heart, but it would hurt me even more to stop her from being with the man she truly loves. It pains me that I am not that man, but I will not force her into anything she doesn't want to do. That being said, I sincerely hope for your sake, as well as hers, that she is right about you. Because know this: I am willing to call a truce with you for her sake, but should you harm a single hair on her head, I will hunt you to the ends of the earth and kill you. I would also like to be able to visit her and make sure she's alright. I may no longer have a chance to win her heart, but I still love her deeply. Please allow me this indulgence. Sincerely, Vicomte Raoul de Chagny."

"More civil than I expected," the Phantom observed. "Still, I'm certain he's planning something. I most certainly will not let him visit you."

"Please," Christine begged. "I promise I won't change my mind. After all,"

She began to sing.

"I'm past the point of no return."

Erik smiled and kissed her.

"Very well," he agreed. "Come, let us leave this place."

They descended to the depths of the opera house, the realm where they ruled as king and queen of music.

The next morning, a note appeared in box five, addressed to the Vicomte de Chagny.

"Good Vicomte," it read. "I am pleased that you accept Christine's love for me. I can not say that I like you any more for this, however, I am glad I do not have to stoop to murder. I am normally a very patient man, unless people disobey me. I fear you have seen entirely too much of my bad side. However, this is not your fault. The new managers are, quite frankly, hopeless. If you might persuade them to pay my salary, I can show you the reason that salary is paid. Christine has persuaded me to allow you to visit her, but only for brief periods of time. And always around me. Please do not try anything stupid. Sincerely, O. G."

Raoul smiled sadly. He knew he had done the right thing in letting her go, but that didn't mean that he was happy about it.

xx

He visited her as often as the Phantom would allow. She seemed happy with Erik. Her smile was radiant in the darkness of the underground lake. For him, it was the most beautiful thing in the world.

xx

Christine and Erik's first child was a daughter named Marie. She was born a year after their marriage. Two years later, Raoul came to see Christine, as he often did, but something was different this time.

"Raoul, what's wrong?" Christine asked.

She spoke in hushed tones, because her daughter was sleeping.

"I've joined the navy," he told her. "I'm leaving tomorrow. I came to say goodbye."

"What!" Christine gasped. "But, what if you're killed?"

Raoul wouldn't look at her.

"Maybe it's better if I am," he whispered.

"Don't say that," she begged. "Don't even joke about it."

"I'm sorry Christine," he said. "I was just being cynical."

He offered her a smile, but it was one of the sad, puppy-eyed ones that had replaced his true smile when she chose the Phantom. Once again, she was wracked with grief for causing her friend so much pain.

"May I say goodbye to Marie?" he requested.

"She's asleep," Christine told him. "But I can wake her up."

"No, don't," Raoul insisted. "Just tell her I said goodbye, and I love her."

"I will," Christine promised.

"Here,"

Raoul handed Christine a sealed letter.

"If I don't come back, open this."

"Raoul, stop talking like that," She begged.

"Just take it," he requested.

He turned to leave, but suddenly stopped and turned back. He stepped closer to her and pressed his lips against hers for a split second.

"Goodbye, Little Lotte," he said.

Christine thought he was crying, as he turned and left, but she couldn't be certain. Her own eyes were too filled with tears.

She felt a pair of strong arms wrap around her from behind. She turned and buried her face in the Phantom's shoulder, sobbing.

"He means to die," Erik observed.

There was no malice in the statement, simply fact.

"Can't we stop him?" Christine begged.

"No," the Phantom told her. "It's his decision. He let you make your choice, now you must let him make his. But, if it makes you feel any better, I will miss him too."

xx

It was less than six months before Christine was informed of Raoul's death.

"He died bravely," Madame Giry, who brought her the news, promised. "He gave his life to save a young soldier under his command."

"He was always like that," Christine recalled. "Willing to give his life for another's happiness."

After Madame Giry left, Christine opened the letter Raoul had given her before he left. It was short, containing only one line.

"Christine, I love you,"

The tears she had restrained during Madame Giry's visit flowed freely as she read the simple message and recalled that night on the rooftop, where he had sung those very words to her in his beautiful, rich voice.

xx

"Marie, this is your new brother,"

Mother was holding out the tiny bundle for her inspection. He was so tiny. He was looking up at her with wide eyes.

"May I hold him?" Marie, who was seven years old, requested.

Mother handed her the baby.

"Hold him tightly, with your arms like this," she instructed, adjusting Marie's arms.

Marie marveled at the child in her arms. Had she ever been this small? It didn't seem possible. But mother had said that she had been. And her brother would one day be as big as her.

"What's his name?" she asked.

"Raoul," Mother told her.

"Was Raoul your father's name?" Marie asked.

Mother looked surprised.

"What would make you think that?" she asked.

"I'm named after Father's mother, right?" She reasoned. "So was your father named Raoul? Or was it Father's father?"

In her mind, it seemed logical that children were named after their parents' parents. After all, she had never been given any proof to the contrary.

Mother smiled sadly.

"Raoul was the name of a very dear friend of mine," she explained. "You probably don't remember him. He died when you were very young."

"Why did he die?" Marie asked, with the curiosity every child possesses.

Mother looked pained.

"You remember Uncle Phillipe?" she asked after a moment.

Marie nodded. Phillipe wasn't really her uncle, but she called him that. He was very nice, and always brought her candy.

"Well, Raoul and Uncle Phillipe were fighting some bad people together," Mother explained. "The bad people were going to kill Uncle Phillipe, but Raoul saved him. Unfortunately, he lost his own life in the process."

"Raoul must have been very kind," Marie deduced.

"Yes," Mother agreed. "He was the kindest man I ever knew."

"Even nicer than Father?" Marie asked.

"Even nicer than Father," Mother agreed. "But don't tell him I said that."

Marie giggled a bit.

"Did you love Raoul?" she asked.

Mother paused.

"Yes, and no," was her cryptic answer. "I wasn't 'in love' with him, like I am with your father, but I did care for him deeply."

Marie scrunched up her face.

"I don't understand," she said. "How can you be both in love and not in love with someone?"

"It's not as difficult as you think," Mother told her.

Marie looked down at her sweet little brother.

"I wish I could remember the first Raoul," she said.

"You would have liked him," Mother replied. "But now you need to look after this Raoul, okay?"

"Okay!" Marie agreed.

"And don't talk with your Father about the first Raoul," Mother added. "You know he can be unpredictable sometimes."

Marie nodded, then paused.

"But Raoul was nice, right?" she reasoned. "Didn't Father like him, too?"

"They were actually bitter enemies," Mother told her. "For a while, at least."

"Why?" Marie asked.

Mother sat down. She looked so sad. Marie was worried she had said the wrong thing.

"It was my fault," Mother whispered. "It was all my fault."

Marie waited patiently for an explanation. Then, the baby in her arms started crying. Mother immediately regained her usual, composed manner. She took little Raoul and held him close.

"Hush, Raoul," she murmured.

She began to sing.

"No more talk of darkness,

Forget these wide-eyed fears,

I'm here; no one will harm you,

My words will warm and calm you,"

By the end of the song, Raoul was sleeping peacefully and Mother was crying.

Marie wrapped her arms around her mother. She didn't know what was wrong, but she knew that Mother needed comfort.

"Raoul loved me," Mother whispered. "But I couldn't love him. That's the real reason he died."

Marie held her mother tightly, trying to remember the man who had been her little brother's namesake. Mother's song had stirred a tiny memory in her. A fuzzy memory of a kind man with a sad smile singing that same song to her. But perhaps she was merely imagining things.


Author's note: Okay, just so you know: Yes, I am a fan of R/C. Yes, Raoul is my favorite character. Yes, this fic is really mostly about Raoul. I wrote it in response to the hundreds of E/C fanfics out there where Raoul is made into an evil jerk in order to justify Christine leaving him for the Phantom. This is what I think would actually happen if Christine told Raoul that she loved the Phantom and found some way to make him believe her. Sorry about the cheesy 'seeing the truth in her eyes' thing. I couldn't think of any other way to make him believe her. You can pretend they had a really, really long argument if you like.

I'm actually not fond of E/C, so I'm not going to write this pairing again. Besides, as you can see, Erik is mostly nonexistent throughout this fic. That's because he is really hard to write in character. Although I have gotten rather fond of Marie. Maybe I'll make her Raoul and Christine's daughter next time.

I hope I've given any Raoul-bashers who read this something to think about.