Raoul stretched out underneath the statue of Apollo, closing his eyes and sighing. There were several bottles of wine, mostly empty, and sundry refreshments at his side, the contents of the bottles having made him pleasantly lightheaded. A cool breeze drifted across the roof of the Opera House, bringing with it the notes of Christine's voice. He opened his eyes and could see the glittering carpet of Paris laid out below the edge of the roof. And with a smile of contentment he turned to his companion.
"Isn't it a marvelous night?" He looked up at the stars, twinkling to match the lights below them. "I could stay like this forever. Right here, in our own little spot, listening to Christine sing."
"Raoul. We must speak." Erik looked down at him from his perch upon the statue itself. "I thought the wine might make this easier. But I can see that much more and you will merely fall asleep."
"You sound so severe." The tone of the other man's voice caused the blond to sit up. "What is it?"
"I have given it a great deal of thought." He turned to him. "You must marry Christine."
He blanched. "No. No, we talked about this. Remember? We did not want to exclude… no!" His hand covered the skeletal one that rested near his head. "What would you do? Where would you fit in?"
"I will still be here." He leapt down, light as a cat. "But you must be the face of respectability for her. For yourself as well. We can't carry on as we have. We have been lucky so far but eventually…" He allowed the ending of the sentence to dangle, satisfied that his point had been made clear.
"Then why do you not marry her! It would be legal for you to do so, the same as for me. Surely someone could be found to perform the ceremony quietly. You wanted to before, have you forgotten?"
"I have not. I've come to my senses." He walked to the parapet and set his hands on it, looking out over the city. "Wanting to marry Christine was the foolish dream of a deluded old man."
"You are not old," Raoul said crossly. At a glare from Erik he quailed slightly. "Not very. Not much older than we are."
"It is a testament to your intelligence that you do not consider several decades to be very much," Erik remarked dryly. "And I could not be seen with her in public. How would she explain a husband never seen, never present?" He shook his head. "It must be you."
Raoul paced back and forth beneath the angel as Erik slowly withdrew from the edge. "Have you spoken to Christine about this?" The younger man asked.
"I was hoping you would broach the subject to her."
"Coward," Raoul said, but the word was devoid of any real venom.
"Perhaps." He sighed. "But you are not taking this well and she will take it worse than you."
"I'm not taking it poorly," Raoul snapped. "But I don't see… it was working," he finished lamely. "What we have. Whatever it is."
"For the moment yes, but it cannot go on long term. Surely you must realize that. Use sense."
Raoul spun around. "Very well. But on one condition."
Erik's golden eyes fixed upon him intently. "And what would that be."
"You must come… you must live with us." Raoul tried to straighten up, assume an authority he rarely felt in Erik's presence. "No more cellar. No more living under the opera. No more skulking about, scaring chorus girls. No more mirrors and candles and trap doors."
"My little chap, that is more than one condition." He pressed Raoul's body up against his own, nudging him back into the angel statue. "And no mirrors? No candles? Not even a bit of fright at the expense of the very newest girls?"
A smile tugged at Raoul's lips. "Perhaps a few candles would be alright." Then his expression flattened once more. "But you know what I mean. If you insist upon this, put aside the other means you use to distance us. You think we do not notice or understand. Perhaps you don't even realize what you are doing yourself, though I think you clever enough that you do. Let us in." He took Erik's hands in his own. "I know it cannot be easy. But trust us. And know that it's what we both want." He kissed the corner of Erik's mouth.
Erik's breath hitched and Raoul backed away.
"And if I refuse this generous offer? If I still insist upon my reclusive life?"
Raoul crossed his arms. "Then Christine and I shall live in sin until our doubtless debauched ends come about, producing numerous bastards along the way."
"You are a poor tease, Vicomte. You have not the sense of timing to carry a proper jest off," Erik said wryly. "But the deal you strike is not such a bad one."
"Wonderful!" He sank back against the statue and poured more wine. "A toast then. To my marriage. If Christine will have me." He downed the glass sloppily and Erik tried to pry the bottle away from him when he reached for it again. He took the opportunity to take Erik by the wrist, force the man to look at him. "But know that whatever ceremonies take place, in our hearts, we shall consider you wed to us each alike."
He kissed Raoul's forehead. "I know. Now hush. It is her aria."
They settled into each other's arms, letting darkness and cool air and the sound of Christine's song wash over them both.