Fandom: Phantom of the Opera
Disclaimer: Please don't sue. I don't own *insert fandom name from above*... All I own is an overactive imagination.
Summary: Established relationship. The consequences of Raoul's family finding out about them.
Word Count: 2,354
A/N: As loathe as I am to make Raoul's family anything but understanding (especially given the circumstances of Unmasking the Chains), this fic came about because of a persistent enough plotbunny.
Story note: Allusions to a much sadder story in this one. A sad, complicated, angst-filled story that you can ask me about if you really want to know, but you can sort of figure out what happened.
If I Fall
By: Lucifer Rosemaunt
As Erik stood hidden in the dark of night on the fringes of the Changy estate, he was unsurprised to see light shining from Raoul's room. The outline of the viscount was easy to tell apart from those of his family since he was the focus of their attentions. They surrounded him, and although Erik was not close enough to hear, he was certain they were yelling as well.
It was as bad if not worse than how they'd imagined it; or perhaps, it had only been him who had expected it to be like this.
Raoul had always had too much faith in his family; Erik, on the other hand, never put much stock in sentiments such as family or loyalty for that matter. The viscount was too pampered to realize that there were some acts, some truths that would simply be unacceptable, even in love. Especially in love. And he'd known almost immediately, for all of Raoul's passions, the one word that would tear them apart. Disownment.
It probably spoke volumes of how much Erik believed in the veracity of Raoul's assertions of being in love with him that he had been waiting all this time for this very moment to come. He had been surprised however by how long they'd managed to last. If he were honest, he would admit that he had only allowed them to become more at the merest of his whims, a chance to prove Raoul's so ardent declarations of affection a falsehood. His skepticism of that phrase was still quite clear in his mind, and he could not help but scoff at the memory of how misled his past self had been. He had severely underestimated Raoul's ability to insinuate his way into one's life and somehow become necessary – and thinking back upon it now, it seemed so obvious. Somehow, barely concealed contempt had become an admittedly disconcerting desire to possess him completely.
And now he was at a crossroads. How could his desire to humiliate the viscount turn out so wrong?
Raoul would succumb to his family's wishes partly because it was simply unheard of for him to go against them, but mostly because it wouldn't be a disownment from just the money. It would be from his family, from society as a whole. He simply had too much to lose.
It was near impossible to tell, but Erik knew the back and forth motion through the room was Raoul packing his belongings. They would remove him from Paris of course, steal him away from the opera house and the ghost that threatened to lead him astray.
Erik wondered if he would follow. At some point before Christine's deterioration, he would have simply succumbed to the urge to kidnap the viscount. Kidnapping was uncomplicated; it was the repercussions of kidnapping and the subsequent detainment that would produce an outcome he so dearly wished to avoid once more. Each day of the imprisonment that would become not only Raoul's but his as well would become a vice that unerringly, unforgivingly tightened on their sanity. A home would become a cage that shrunk with each interaction, each argument, each conflict escalating from verbal to physical to mental, tearing them down until any consideration, any honest emotion between them would be lost to the instinctual need to escape.
There were only two choices then: to chew one's limb off from the ensnarement like an animal or to destroy the snare itself.
Insanity was familiar to Erik in a way that meant he would be the one left alone, the one resilient enough to watch the progression of such a mental and physical break down without realizing that his own was not far away. It meant that he would be led by the hand to see the brink of a body becoming simply a shell – a nearly empty shell that would apparently choose to discard a limb than continue living in captivity, a nearly empty shell that may succeed in obtaining the wrong kind of freedom.
No. Kidnapping was no longer in Erik's repertoire. He shied away from the concept, had been tempered and forged by the ordeal that had taken Christine from him. He'd been changed. Raoul often joked that not by much, just enough for him to succumb to his charms, but at this junction, it had never been clearer by how much, for him to even consider letting Raoul go. He rebelled at the idea from his very core; yet, he hesitated.
Still, Erik returned to the Opera Populaire to leave Raoul with his family and packing. Surely, Raoul would seek him out and deliver the news of his departure personally, and then, Erik would decide what to do, whatever that would be.
He slept little, and as night passed into morning and there was still no sign of the viscount, he found himself once again at the Changy estate just in time to see several covered carriages speed out of the gates with all of Raoul's things packed atop them. He could not see just who occupied the carriages despite making chase for a short while. He learned not late after that the estate had been emptied of all Chagny occupancy rather hastily, only a skeleton staff remained.
Letting out a harsh burst of laughter between heavy breaths, he made his way back to the opera house. As contrary to Raoul's usual ethic as it was, taking the decision away from him like this was actually very much him, unexpected to the very end. Still, he was disappointed to find he was more frustrated than angry that Raoul would have left without speaking with him or at least without having left him a note with Madame Giry.
What he didn't expect was for Raoul, dressed in his travelling clothes, to be in his home waiting for him in the semi-darkness, head buried in his hands on a seat by the lake.
"Erik." Raoul stood up and took a step forward before stopping.
Erik received a large amount of pleasure in seeing him nervous. In fact, he made a point not to respond – though there was the fact that he did not know quite what to say. Did he tell Raoul that since the very beginning he had known the outcome of that battle of Chagny wills the night before? Instead, he strode past him, grabbing a candle along the way.
Clearing his throat, Raoul merely tugged at his jacket as he followed.
That only served to annoy Erik further. It would have been better had Raoul escaped already. Now that the choice was back in his hands, he could see no other option but to kidnap him. He wasn't willing to let him go and Raoul, well, the blond was going to leave regardless.
"I-"Raoul finally started when they were in the sitting room.
Erik cut him off. "Just leave already, Vicomte."
Immediately, the hesitancy in his expression turned to anger, though it was easy to tell it was not directed at Erik. "Do not call me that."
Stalking through the room, Erik began to light more candles. He was simply delaying the conversation, but he needed to be doing something. "It matters not what I call you. Say what you must, if you must, then leave."
Raoul sobered immediately, eyes tracking Erik's movement. He looked away, and Erik glanced at him then. The blond looked exhausted, bruising beneath his eyes that Erik had thought only due to the shadows cast by too little candles. He looked to be barely holding himself up, and he spoke haltingly. "I do not quite know where to begin."
Erik should have been moved to empathize or rather, he might have pitied the boy for his troubles. He didn't. "You came to say goodbye."
Opening his mouth as though to protest, Raoul reconsidered after seeing the challenging look Erik sent him. He settled instead for, "Perhaps." Before Erik could ask what he meant by that, he continued almost nonchalantly, "I am no longer a viscount."
That made Erik pause, hand poised midway to lighting another candle. "What?"
Raoul shrugged, gave a tremulous smile that looked brave even when he frowned shortly after, and said rather simply, "I have been disowned."
"Are you mad?" Erik finally approached him then; looking at the candle in his hand in disdain, he blew out the flame and tossed it aside. He stopped short, not quite believing what had been said.
"Have you so little faith in me?" Raoul asked, reaching out to Erik before thinking better of it and letting his hand fall to his side without once touching him. "Even after all this time?"
Eyes unseeing, Erik tried to process the fact that Raoul had disobeyed his family's wishes. He wished he had another candle to throw aside as he paced away from the infuriating blond. He turned towards him abruptly and stated with certainty, "You must be ill."
"I believe," Raoul said slowly, a grin forming, "the term is lovesick."
Erik scoffed. "A fool!" He threw up his hands, "You are a fool. You know nothing of life."
"I will probably starve," Raoul agreed honestly.
Striding towards Raoul, he pointed a finger directly in his face. "Do not jest."
They finally touched then, Raoul lowering the finger from his face rather gently. Too gently, Erik jerked his hand away from his grasp though did not move any further.
"It is no jest, Erik." He replied softly, letting the grin drop. "I have very few skills and what skills I do have require money." He added somberly, "Money I no longer have, but…"
"Stay here," Erik blurted out, not quite knowing from where that command had originated.
Raoul exhaled sharply and smiled at him with such fondness that Erik was surprised to hear his response. "I cannot."
Narrowing his eyes at him, Erik asked, "What is there to stop you now?" Raoul had not even taken a moment to consider it. Was staying with him so abhorrent a thought?
"There were conditions to my disownment." This time Raoul was the one to walk away, hands clasped together, knuckles whitening.
"Conditions." Erik parroted warily.
There was a pause as Raoul considered what to say. "They had planned to capture you despite it all." He looked at Erik apologetically. "Because of me," he sighed, "they knew you would be easily caught within your domain's walls."
"You doubt my ability to remain hidden." Erik walked forward and grabbed his arm.
Raoul let him as he retorted, "I doubt my family's ability to stay alive."
"Your family?" He spat out, "You have none." And he almost regretted the words as soon as they came out. Raoul needed no reminding of that, but it was simple fact that Erik refused to be abandoned because of some misplaced martyr complex.
Raoul frowned but just nodded. "I am to leave Paris without fanfare to save the Chagny name from scandal." He placed a hand atop Erik's, gentle once more and Erik released him, hands clenched into fists as he took several steps back. Raoul stared at his own hands for a bit, adding thoughtfully, "I do believe they'll claim my death through some carriage accident. I cannot be certain, but in exchange for my silence, they will leave you unmolested."
"What do you have?" Erik pressed. He cared little what the other Chagnys did. He only cared what the one before him, the one who had refused him so easily, who would leave him as easily as he would accept being disowned would do now. "Where do you go?"
"I have nothing but my name, and even that I am to keep a secret," Raoul mused but shook himself from those wandering thoughts and finally looked up again. He grinned. "I have half-formed ideas, the clothes on my back, and last evening's dinner. I shall go wherever my feet will take me." He looked at the back that had turned to him after he had answered the questions so blithely. Taking a shaky breath in, he allowed himself for just a moment while Erik couldn't see to look as worried as he felt. "I had hoped," he wasn't sure if he wanted Erik to turn around or not. "I am leaning heavily on traveling quite a distance. Possibly to the Americas. Would you," he took a moment to look around the well-established, familiar abode, "leave all this, for me?"
Erik was silent, not having moved a muscle. That had perhaps been the last thing he had expected to hear from him.
Raoul quickly forced another smile. "Yes, yes." He muttered to himself, "It is to be goodbye then."
"It's quite alright." He babbled, unwilling to actually hear the rejection now that Erik, expression inscrutable as ever, had finally turned towards him. "I know, to have fallen… but I will not beg."
Erik could not help but think disjointedly, Kidnapping had not been the only option; though this very well may be a sign of Raoul's impending downward spiral towards insanity. "You simply wish to drag me down with you."
The blond nodded slowly. Swallowing with some difficulty, he responded, his body inching towards the exit already. "Yes, it would seem like that." Honestly, he hadn't thought of it as much of a fall until this very moment though. He turned to walk away when Erik's voice stopped him.
"Come help me pack."
Raoul tried not to be too hopeful when he turned. He looked at Erik questioningly, impulsively reaching forward to grab onto the hem of his jacket, a little too desperately. "Pack?"
Looking down at the hand gripping him, Erik grabbed his wrist firmly and dragged him towards the inner rooms. "We shall need to be prepared." He glanced over his shoulder just in time to catch a glimpse of Raoul's too-relieved smile. He wanted to throw Raoul's words back at him, ask him have you so little faith in me but already knew the younger man had good reason to doubt him so. Instead, he said, "We shall see if the Americas have anything for us."
A/N: Don't forget to R/R (Read and Review)!
Fic Review: This is of course inspired by the song in the 2010 holiday fanmix, "When I Fall" by The Perishers. The link's up in my blogs and in my profile. Download to your heart's content.
BTW, the back story of this stupid fic just became a plotbunny in itself. DX I'm not pleased at all by that news.