Beta: A huge thank you to my amazing beta reader cariel for taking time out of her holidays to beta read this for me on the fly. Thank you so much for wisdom and insight girl I don't know where I would be without you! Sorry you had to beta-read your own Christmas!fic but I appreciate it more than words can say *hugs*

Author's Notes: This was written as a Christmas gift for Cariel whose beautiful tales of of hope and redemption never ceases to inspire me.

Tradition required those who resided in the opulent Paris Opera House to participate in midnight Mass. The Phantom, however, had no use for Mass. Religion and its self-righteous views had no place in his world. Even so, there were times when he could not resist the opulence or the beauty of the music that echoed from the Notre Dame Cathedral; tonight, however, was not one of them. Instead, Erik worked diligently on his masterpiece Don Juan Triumphant. Through the ventilation shafts, he could hear the sounds of footsteps pattering through the halls and the echo of laughter.

With Mass now over, the back rooms of the opera house were coming to life. Christmas Day had only started short time ago and already the parties had begun. In another time, another place, he would have been envious, perhaps even bitter. Instead, all he felt was a strange sense of peace. Christmas was not a holiday he regarded with much, if any, importance because to him it was no less spectacular than any other ordinary day.

Behind him, seated on the corner of his couch, Sasha watched her master, her green eyes sharp and ready. On the table resided a variety of imported sweets and fruits, the sort he knew his dear friend Christine sometimes enjoyed.

Erik knew better than to anticipate her arrival, for Christine was a busy young woman who had a life of her own. It did not trouble him as it would have in the past, though he hoped to see her before the New Year. Her presence always brightened his days and inspired him in ways Erik never imagined possible.

Tonight, he was content to enjoy a fresh pot of tea and lose himself to the music that he had spent years creating. Humming to himself, the masked musician worked on the notes of his latest piece, an aria meant for none other than his dear friend. His opera was initially meant to be a dark piece, a tale of tragedy, corruption, and loss. Yet the more he worked on it, the more it began to evolve, transforming itself into something more beautiful than Erik ever could have dreamed; he only had Christine to thank for it.

With eyes closed, he silently envisioned the unfolding scene: the beautiful Aminta struggling to understand the cruelty of Don Juan, all the while pitying him for his behaviour toward women. The lyrics revealed that she saw the Don Juan for what he truly was: a broken man hiding behind the fa├žade of the arrogant scoundrel. She loved him, but not as he wanted her to love him. Instead, her heart felt only compassion as she sought to free him of the demons that haunted him, so that one day, he would allow himself to love a woman the way she ought to be loved.

With a few notes left until its completion, Erik sought the perfect ending to the turning point of his opera, all the while unaware of the soft sound of footsteps approaching his lair.

Sasha, ever aware, rose silently to her feet and neared the entrance. She knew who was approaching by the weight of her steps and the soft scent that lingered about her. Belly scratching and sweets was soon to follow and she mewed in eagerness.

The Siamese cat's cry went unnoticed, for masked musician was far too lost in his work to comprehend that he was no longer alone.

Christine caught his murmured desire to hear her singing the tune to ensure it was perfect and softly began to hum the lines she saw in front of his organ. Only then did Erik register his dear friend's presence; Christine, as always, knew when he needed her most.

"Christmas is not a time one should spend alone," she explained when he inquired of her presence in his lair. Her shy, yet sincere apology was met with a sincere smile of his own. Gentle, calloused fingers slipped into his ink covered hands and soon he was guided back to the living chambers.

"I hope you will forgive me for being so bold, but there is a chill in the air and I thought you might like some fresh tea," she confessed as she gave him a hot cup of tea she had made upon her arrival.

The steaming liquid was the perfect replacement to the cold pot of brewed herbs that remained untouched due to his work. Christine's observation and quick thinking never ceased to amaze him.

With a shy smile, Erik invited Christine to share a little of his music. Together, they sang songs of love, peace, and moments of perfect beauty. She taught him the traditional songs sung at Christmas while he revealed some of his very first opera with her. Their voices united in perfect harmony as their hearts and souls spoke through the notes of their music. So much was shared and so much was learned between them.

When their voices grew raw from the operas and carols they sang, both found their seats on the couch. Curled on Christine's lap, Sasha purred her contentment as the young singer scratched her belly while Erik poured them both a fresh cup of tea.

They spoke well into the night, their discussions varying from the rare joyful moments of the past to the dreams of the future. When words ran dry, the masked man and his young friend sat in pensive silence as the candles that filled the room slowly burned away. It was only when Christine stifled back a yawn that Erik registered that it was well past early morning.

Extending a hand, now cleaned of its ink, he gently guided her to the room he had designed solely for her comfort. Erik never forgot the way Christine's eyes shone, the warm flush of her cheeks and the way she smiled when he wished her a very Merry Christmas.

There were no gifts exchanged that night, no traditions that were followed, no yuletide log, fanciful parties, or constant flow of sweets and wine. It was quiet, peaceful, and without expectations. It was the most wondrous Christmas he had ever experienced in his life. As Erik watched his dear friend drift off to sleep, he could not help but hope that they would share many more Christmases together.