Title: Stay By My Side

Rating: M

Disclaimer: Anything you recognise from 'Phantom of the Opera' does not belong to me.


It took two months of rehearsals, and more than a few tantrums by Carlotta over what she called an atrocious score, but finally Don Juan Triumphant was performed. It was set for a run of a month, and when Christine returned to her dressing room at the interval she wondered if it would even last that long. The audience were not reacting well, and she was so terribly afraid that Erik's opera was too new, too modern.

But by the end the audience were enthusiastic, and Christine took three curtain calls before finally being able to escape up to her dressing room. She was not alone – Danielle was there, and Meg followed her to give congratulations – but she could feel Erik, knew he was there beyond the mirror.

"You were wonderful, Christine," said Meg, spinning a pirouette in her excitement. "Simply wonderful! Did you hear the audience? I thought some of them would walk out at the beginning, but they liked it!"

"They did," Christine agreed, laughed, glanced at the mirror and wished for the solitude to see Erik. The opera was about passion, and although Christine hardly felt that for Piangi, nevertheless the music had stirred something in her, and she ached for her husband.

"Stand still, girl," said Danielle to Meg, amused. "You'll make me dizzy, spinning about like that. Are you going down to the party, Christine?"

"No," said Christine at once, wriggled out of her costume and reached for her skirt and blouse. "No, I'm going home tonight."

"Ah, to your husband," said Danielle knowingly. "Well, I don't blame you. I'll just tidy these things away, then I'll be off."

"Oh, Christine!" said Meg, and she had stopped spinning but was now hopping from one foot to the other. "My first big solo! Did I do alright, do you think?"

"You did fine, Meg," Christine reassured her. "Wonderfully, in fact. You'll be the prima ballerina in no time." Meg flushed with pleasure, smiled broadly, and Christine reached to hug her friend tightly, pleased for her success. "Truly, Meg, you were wonderful."

"I bet Maman isn't satisfied, though," said Meg with a laugh, and Christine laughed as well, knew Meg was probably right. "I'm going to go down to the party, anyway," said Meg then. "I'll make your excuses, shall I?" She waved her hands, opened her eyes wide. "Spirited away by the ghostly composer!" Danielle snorted, waved goodbye to the two girls and left the room, and Christine laughed once more.

"Meg, you're enjoying all this gossip far too much," she said. "In fact, you're encouraging it."

"Of course I am," said Meg promptly, not bothering to deny it. "Did you hear the baby dancers are calling you Madame le Fantôme now? And I think Jammes is afraid of you!"

There came a stifled laugh from beyond the mirror, and Christine and Meg both glanced up, found the mirror transparent, revealing Erik standing behind it. Meg, who had grown a little more used to him now, smiled and turned back to Christine.

"I'll see you tomorrow," she said. "Come and have lunch with me – if you can tear yourself away." Christine felt her cheeks warm, and Meg's smile was knowing as she left.

Erik spared no time, swung the mirror open and stepped through, caught her in his arms and kissed her.

"You were sublime," he said, when at last he let her go. "You surpassed my greatest hopes." He cupped her face in his hands, kissed her again, gentle now, slow and tender. Christine wrapped her arms about his neck, clung to him, pleased beyond words that she had satisfied him.

"I wish it had been you," she murmured against his mouth, felt rather than saw his smile. "I imagined it was you."

"I should hope so," said Erik, and she pressed her mouth to his, demanded more kisses. Demanded more, and he lowered a hand to her hip, pulled her flush against him. "My wife," he said, voice so low it was almost a growl. "I watched you acting out that seduction and willed myself onto the stage with you."

"Just an act," said Christine, a little breathless, slid her hands under his jacket and pushed it off his shoulders. "Oh Erik, your opera!" He nodded, gazed at something other than her for a moment before refocusing, smiling a genuinely happy smile, and Christine had to comment on it. "You're happy, my Erik," she said softly, lifted a hand to his mask, eased it gently off his face so she could see him. He allowed it, as he so often did now. He would never make the suggestion that he might remove his mask, but he rarely denied her the sight of his face when she asked him, or when she raised her hand to remove it herself.

"You're happy," she said again when she could see him. Erik nodded, closed his eyes and leaned his forehead against hers, clutched her so close to him that she could feel the evidence of his lust, pressed hard against her.

"Yes," said Erik after a long moment. "Yes, I believe I am."

"I am so glad," she whispered. "You know I want you to be happy."

"Christine, you make me happier than I have any right to be," Erik told her, opened his eyes and withdrew so she could look at him once more. His eyes were bright with unshed tears, and she bit her lip, reached up to kiss them away. "Happier than I ever dreamed," he added.

"And you make me happy, Erik," Christine said. "So very happy." She kissed him, pressed her mouth to his just for a moment, and he chased after her when she withdrew, caught her mouth and kissed her until she was breathless once more.

"Are you ready to go home?" Erik asked then, tucked a stray curl behind her ear. He smirked suddenly, tilted his head a little. "Madame le Fantôme."

Christine laughed, shook her head in amusement. "Why yes, Monsieur le Fantôme," she said, "I am quite ready." She turned serious then, looked up at him and took his hands. "Anywhere, with you," she said softly. "I will go anywhere you want, as long as you are with me."

"Oh, my Christine," murmured Erik. "You are quite perfect."

He held her hands in his, and led her down to their home across the lake.


Finis.

Many thanks as ever to my lovely beta Sam, who puts up with an awful lot of my theorising and wailng and contemplating about PotO and LND. Without her, fic would not happen :)

Thanks to all my lovely reviewers, it's so nice hearing what you think :)

And yes, I'm working on another. I'm about 3/4 done, and then it'll need beta-reading, so I think maybe a month or so until I start posting :) looking forward to seeing some of you then.