Author Notes; Thanks so much for all of the wonderful reviews that everyone has left. I know that I am a horrible person, and this is long overdue, but I swear I will not abandon it. My life is just crazy right now. I am playing Carlotta in my high school's version of The Phantom of the Opera (Andrew Lloyd Webber), and my novel is still being edited, so I'm sorry. Once my life dies down a bit, I can write more fun stuff, like this.

Disclaimer: Phantom of the Opera belongs to Gaston Leroux, unfortunately. (for me)

5.

Erik let out a wail akin to that of a dying beast, burying his face in the covers.

"I knew that you were not real. That you were one of Erik's hallucinations! How could Christine ever choose to marry Erik when she has her handsome boy who does not do the naughty things that Erik does?"

"I want to be your wife," she repeated. Her tone left no room for argument, but Erik carried on.

"He will not allow it. Even if Erik could keep you, you would never see the outside world again. You would be stuck here, in a tomb with Erik forever! I know that my Christine would not want that. She loves to see the sky and the flowers."

"The last time I stayed in your home, we went out for a walk along the Seine? Do you remember? You were so kind then, and the air certainly did you good."

He collapsed into her shoulder, tears forming in his eyes before mumbling in what he considered a pathetic whisper, "You will stay? Truly? Christine will stay as Erik's living wife?"

"Yes."

"Please hold still. There is an abundance of soot on your face from God knows what and I intend to take it off," Christine chastised lightly as she opened her hands in front of him, anxious for his mask. The moment that Erik had recovered from his shock at her agreement to be his wife he had retrieved his mask and set about attending to her every need despite the fact that he was the one who was ill.

"Christine does not need to see what lies beneath Erik's mask again. Is your feminine curiosity so very intense that it feels the need to pry into things that you already know?"

She huffed, her eyes narrowing as they scanned over him.

"You will take off your mask and let me wash away dirt or I will not eat supper."

"Christine must eat her supper, otherwise she will be unhappy, and I do not like it when Christine is unhappy."

"Then you must take off your mask."

"Why do you always make Erik uncomfortable?" he growled, but reached for the ties of his mask. If she screamed, he knew that he would explode in anger, attacking her like a savage beast and holding her captive for all eternity. He watched her as the black covering was pulled from his face, revealing the atrocity beneath. She did not blink, she merely smiled softly, tucking an unruly hair behind his ear.

"Now we can eat as a proper couple," she said. He gaped at her. Ignoring his expression of utter disbelief, she scoped a bit of soup up from the bowl and held it in front of his twisted lips. "Open up."

The food she made was tasteless, just as it always was, but as Erik chewed, a sweet flavor flitted over his mouth. She was so perfect, in every way, that even his deformity was forced to bend to her will. She smiled at him anxiously, her eyelashes fluttering slightly.

"Do you like it?" she asked. He nodded slowly, carefully keeping his deformed lips pressed together tightly so that nothing would spill down his face. He was hideous enough without liquid dribbling down his chin. "I will have to make more things like this for you when we are married. For our wedding breakfast, I will make everything that you like. Just for you and I. We will eat it together, man and wife. How does that sound, Erik?" His answer was a soft sigh and a slight tilting of his head towards her.

"We should marry as soon as possible," Christine continued. "I do not know how to go about getting a wedding contract. Do you think that you could handle that aspect, Erik?"

For a moment, Erik was entirely dumbstruck. It was mad enough that Christine wished to stay with him, but to marry him? In a church? In plain view for anyone to watch, including her God.

"I could-" he stammered.

Christine graced him with a wide smile. His hands clenched involuntarily and he had a hard time swallowing.

"Do you still have the wedding dress in the back of my closet?" she questioned eagerly. He must have confirmed that, yes, it was there, although he was sure that he did not do it fluently, because she was off, in search of that delicate silk and lace gown that he himself had sewn to fit her body perfectly. In his darkest hours, he had thought to set it on fire, allowing all thought of its intended wearer to go up in flames with it, but when he lit the hearth the image of Christine, cast amongst the flames sent him into a fury.

"Oh, Erik. There is a stain," he heard Christine's sweet voice say. He jerked up, his eyes frantic, before he fell a Christine's feet.

"Forgive Erik. He was angry and may have hurt the dress, but he can make it better for you! He

can fix it. I am a very skilled magician and can make anything disappear. Anything but my face. That is the mask's job."

"Stand up, please. There is no reason to be upset. It is just a small stain, nothing to worry about. I can clean it."

"No, I will do it," he said, then jerked the dress from her hands. He quickly found his way to the small laundry room. The wash bin was cold, and the soap that he had always kept by a small towel was cracked and hard from disuse. He quickly scrubbed out the small, clear stain. It was likely from a tear, and this embarrassed him more than any blood or coffee stain ever would have.

"Here," he said, giving her the dress back with an air of indifference. Christine smiled again.

"Thank you. I will be right back, alright?" Without waiting for him to answer, she was gone, dashed off back to the Louis Philippe room.

Erik stood, his long legs aching with disuse. He needed to leave. To walk in the fresh air. He could not recall just how long he hand been below, but from the layer of dust forming on the remnants of his organ and on the dinning room table, it had to have been almost a month.

The door cracked open, and a beam of light emerged from within the Louis Philippe room. He did not turn, knowing that Christine would soon be at his side, still babbling about a wedding.

"Erik?" she said, her tone questioning. He looked at her then, reluctantly.

The sight of her, in the white gown he himself had sewn together in his darkest hours of obsessed dreaming, was enough to drive him mad.

He hoped that she did not secretly wish to return to the upper world, because he would never, ever let her go.