Love can be exquisite, but it is never simple. Sometimes, Christine wondered if there was something wrong with her to struggle with that fact. There had been no real question of whether she would choose Raoul or the Phantom; one was a man she adored unreservedly and who always strove to make her happy, while the other had caused her untold amounts of grief. And yet...

Christine would have been lying if she said there was nothing that appealed to her about the Phantom. Whenever she was in his presence, she had felt helpless and in his power, a feeling that by all rights should have been horrible. So why did she still dream about it, both sleeping and waking? She considered the possibility that she was in love with him, but that didn't match how she felt. Christine pitied the Phantom for his life, but felt hate for him when she thought of his crimes. Living with him would have been a nightmare, no question about it.

So why did she feel the way she did?

These thoughts were not with her constantly. On her wedding day, in fact, she nearly forgot them entirely. To be proclaimed Raoul's wife for all to see, kissing him as his lawful bride, was bliss she had barely known existed. Even the worries they'd had about Raoul's family had been avoided; so bereft were they upon losing Phillipe that they had not had the heart to disinherit their remaining heir for marrying below his station. (Raoul had told her their exact words were "let him be a fool if he must.")

It wasn't until the couple was alone in their room that Christine broke down in tears.

"My love!" Raoul exclaimed. "What can be the matter? Was my family cruel to you? Have I offended you in some way?"

Christine shook her head.

"Everyone was kind to me! You were wonderful! I only wish..." She tried to hold back, but her tears would not stop. "I only wish I could be the wife you deserve."

Her husband took her hand gently.

"There is no one in the world I would rather be wed to. Surely you know that?" Christine fell into his arms and let him walk her to the bed. When her tears had begun to slow, she spoke again.

"You wouldn't have married me if you'd known. I love you, I truly do! But I am so frightened of our- of this night. I don't begin to think you would hurt me with your love. I know you will be gentle, ever caring of me, but-"

She should have stopped speaking, but she could not hold back her confession any more than she could her tears.

"But it will not be enough for me. Perhaps I am a whore at heart for what I desire. Not another man, but- oh, it is too shameful to speak! Perhaps the Phantom preyed upon me because he knew I was weak, knew that what a respectable girl would fear would be what I- oh god, Raoul! Some part of me wanted it! Some part of me wanted to be ravished, to be made a slave!"

Christine did not know what to expect Raoul to say in return. Most likely, he would comfort her and say that she was still in shock from her kidnapping, and that such fancies would fade. Or perhaps he would not be so forgiving, and cast her out as a degraded slut. What she did not expect was what he actually said in return.

"Christine, you trusted me with your life. I think it only fair that I may also be trusted with your pleasure."

She looked up at her husband, eyes wide, half expecting him to be joking. But his brown eyes looked upon her with kindness and honesty.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, my dear, that I am secure in your love for me, as well as in your virtue. I am a virgin, but well-read enough to know that sometimes people have desires that do not match how the world thinks they should behave. Such things intrigued me, but I never planned to mention them to you, for fear they would bring back memories of your captivity."

Raoul kissed her gently upon the side of her neck.

"I do not know if I can fulfill your desires. All I beg is that you allow me to try. If I can be a hero for you, perhaps I can also be a scoundrel."

Christine could hardly believe what she was hearing. She nodded nonetheless, still wondering if she was dreaming as Raoul gently reached beneath her dress and caressed her thigh. She allowed him to remove her shoes and stockings, but rather than toss the latter to the floor, he held them up as if inspecting them.

"I think these will make for an adequate restraint. What do you think, my dear?"

She was sure her heart skipped a beat.

"Oh, Raoul! Where do you get such ideas?"

He grinned at her, shaking his head.

"I am an aristocrat, my love. I come from the class that produced Casanova and the Marquis de Sade. Though inexperienced, I am hardly innocent."

Christine lay back on the bed, instinctively reaching her hands above her head. The idea that any of her shameful fantasies could be shared by Raoul- so kind, so respectable- was ridiculous. And yet, why not? He had not been afraid of monsters, madmen, or society's disapproval, so why should he be afraid of her or her desires?

"You must let me know," he said as he bound her hands together with the stockings, "if I have gone too far. How do you wish to tell me?"

The answer came readily to Christine's lips.

"I'll say stop, and I'll say it three times. If I don't, I beg you to take me, not matter how hard I struggle."

Raoul completed the knot, then tied it to the bed. Christine now could not move her arms, but could only lie face-up upon the bed, while Raoul free had access to her body. He chuckled softly and stroked the side of her breast through her gown.

"And now, my love" he whispered, "you are powerless to escape me. I'll take you in your wedding gown, and master you by force." Raoul's impression of a music-hall villain might have provoked laughter from some, but to Christine it meant a delicious shiver down her spine.

"You must have mercy upon me, sir!" Her own voice had taken up the air of a stage performer, different than how she had felt and sounded when in real danger. It was lower, more affected, and while it asked for mercy it had almost a teasing quality.

"You'll call me Master, darling. And you'll take what mercy I care to show you."

Christine wriggled in her bonds, but pushed herself up to meet his hands as grasped her body. Alone in her room as a girl, she had once touched herself and explored where she liked to be felt, but had stopped when her "angel" had first made contact with her, fearing that such actions would make her unworthy of heavenly attention. Now she recalled those feelings of pleasure, knew that she would enjoy re-learning what she liked.

"You beast!" Christine looked about for 'help' when Raoul pushed up her skirt. No rescue was coming, though, and she made sure to keep her voice quiet enough so that none of the servants would be disturbed. Raoul responded by lightly slapping her leg, and doing it again when she pouted.

"Show some respect, love! I can be cruel if I so desire, and you make me desire to be all the more when you struggle." Pulling away the last of her undergarments, he straddled Christine and began to work at his own clothes. Any lingering doubts she had as to whether this was what he wanted were assuaged as he did so; virginal as Christine was, she knew when a man was aroused.

"Forgive me, Master. I'll submit to you if I must!" With those words she closed her eyes, imagining that implements of torture lined the walls of Raoul's bedroom. She imagined she had to submit or he would destroy her, and that thought was more appealing than she had ever imagined in her fantasies. Raoul understood well enough how she enjoyed it when he touched the slickness between her thighs, as Christine blushed furiously.

Christine had heard that penetration was painful, and braced herself for his entrance. Pain did come, but much less than she had feared, and the shock gave her the chance to test her situation.

"Stop, stop, stop!"

Raoul immediately pulled out and looked at her with concern.

"Did I hurt you, darling? I'm so sorry, I should have known I'd taken our game too far."

"No, I want you. But please be a little gentler."

"I promise." Raoul kissed her softly, and upon a nod from his wife, entered her again. This time his thrusts were slow, allowing her time to catch her breath and ease herself into the rhythm. Her body was unused to accommodating a man, but the excitement she felt as he grabbed her tightly and filled her let Christine know that she would have fun testing her limits.

"Master!" she gasped. "Oh, Master!"

"I have you to myself," he grunted. "No monster can mast my lust, and no angel will save you." Christine squealed in feigned protest, and arched her back so that she pushed him farther into her. Her voiced protests aroused something in Raoul, and he leaned his head forward so he could whisper into her ear.

"Sing for me."

Christine sang a wordless note, higher and higher as the tension inside her grew. She bucked against him, encouraging him to go faster, and her legs wrapped around his back as the wordless note rose and rose until-

Raoul shook inside her before collapsing. He kissed her again and undid her bonds, but Christine was not finished. Remembering her girlhood exploration, she took her husband's hand and placed it upon herself. She guided his hand with her own, and he picked up how to stimulate her very quickly. Once he had gotten the hang of it, she threw her hands above her head again, pretending he was pleasuring her by force.

"Is there- no end to your- oh!"

Christine shook and convulsed, and Raoul smiled at a job well done.

"Thank you," was all she could say to him. "Dear god, Raoul, I love you!"

"I should be thanking you, Christine. What a wildcat you are! I shall have my hands full satisfying you. Once you get used to this, I fear I shall have to work much harder to take you to the edge again."

"Well," she said as she curled up against her husband, "if it's not too terribly wicked of me, there are a few more things we could try. Some part of me did enjoy the site of you in those dungeon ropes. Perhaps I could be the villainess on occasion?"

Raoul embraced her and gave a satisfied sigh.

"Of course, my love. I'll do all you ask of me."