Disclaimer: I do not own the Phantom of the Opera or Titanic. They belong to their respective owners.
A/N: Again, very sorry for the long wait! I hope this chapter is enjoyable and please review! I hope to have the next chapter of Fight to the Death up next. If you haven't checked out the first chapter, please do and enjoy!
I want to thank my readers for continually checking in on me to see if I am ok. I assure you I am, I just have the worst case of writer's block, but your continued support and encouraging words have kept me going! You know who you are! :)
Chapter 16: Promise to Obey
Christine was following closely beside Erik, at a brisk pace, until he stopped short beside her, halting her as well. She hadn't been paying attention to what the officer was saying, but when Erik's face turned to hers and she saw pain and defeat written in his frown and blue eyes, she realized.
"I will not be separated from you." Christine said; her voice more determined than Erik's actions.
Erik hadn't realized she had that in her. The strength in her voice was surprising, but he knew he couldn't agree to that. She needed to get off this ship, as soon as possible.
"I'm sorry." Erik said before gripping her hand tighter and pulling her along beside him.
The chill in the air was like getting stabbed by a thousand knives. Wishing he had put more layers on and not just grabbed his rumpled suit from the night before, he pulled his coat tighter around himself, without letting go of Christine's hand. He looked back at Christine to see her face already turning pink from the cold and her lips turning into a ghastly blue.
Wrapping his arm around her and rubbing her coat against her arms, he ushered her down the deck until they reached the stairs that would lead to A-Deck.
When they stepped up on deck and he walked her over to the nearest lifeboat, Christine loosened herself from his grip and pulled away. He turned to see her standing behind him, her arms folded in front of her and her eyes filled with that intense fire he adored. She looked like a stubborn child, refusing to do what she is asked.
Other passengers started coming up the stairs that they had come from and were making their way over to the line of lifeboats.
"Christine, get on the boat." Erik said, his voice breaking with his own need for her safety.
"No." she said shaking her head, the wind blowing her hair in every direction. She started to back away from him, but he grabbed her by the arms with a bruising strength. Her gasp of pain made him loosen his hold, only slightly.
"I need you to get on that boat. I will not allow you to argue on this."
"No. Not without you." She said while tears started falling from her eyes.
All he wanted to do was pull her close and kiss those dreadful tears away. He didn't want to separate from her either. But the look on Thomas Andrews face, the sight of the iceberg, and the hurried, stern actions of the officers brought the risks involved to the forefront of his mind.
Half the people on this ship are going to die. The amount of lifeboats only accounts for half of the passengers. Her being a woman and from the first class gave her a bit of an advantage, but there was still uncertainty.
Before he could pick her up, kicking and screaming, and carry her to the waiting lifeboat, Raoul and Marguerite caught his attention as they came over.
"Damn, this chill is deathly." Raoul said as he wrapped his arm around Marguerite in a gesture of warmth.
"No need for harsh language, darling." Marguerite said, sweetly. Erik noticed that she was still as chipper as always and probably didn't understand the danger that was falling around them.
"Raoul, you need to get Marguerite on that boat." Erik exclaimed, pointing at the slowly filling lifeboat, before turning to face Christine again and convince her to follow through with his demands.
"Well, her maid went back to our room to get Marguerite's shawl that she left behind. We have to wait for her to come back." Raoul said, oblivious to the danger as well.
Erik had the urge to growl and roll his eyes at the stupidity of his acquaintances, but decided against it. "Get on the boat, Christine." He said, turning his full attention on her again.
"What's the hurry?" Raoul said with a tight laugh. "There is plenty of time and plenty of boats for everyone on board."
Erik turned on him and grabbed his cravat in a tight fist, bringing his handsome face close to prove a point. The gasps of surprise from Christine and Marguerite were drowned out by his inner rage, with a harsh, spitting whisper he said, "This whole ship will be at the bottom of the Atlantic before the sun can rise, along with half the people. If you want your wife to survive, I suggest you get her on that boat now, before they run out." Releasing him, with a shove, he stepped back and grabbed Christine's arm, needing to feel her next to him, at the same time needing to get her far away from this disaster.
"Time to go, Christine."
"I said no." he turned to Christine and saw that she was red faced, not from the cold, but from rage.
Erik looked past Christine to see her father stood only a few feet behind. 'Would people stop distracting me from this task!' he thought. Then, with a sigh, he relented and let Christine turn her attention to her father, the only family she had left and most likely would never see again. When she saw him, she rushed to his waiting arms.
"Papa. I can't. I can't go to safety when I know that you and Erik are still in Death's clutches. I would never be able to live with myself if I took the opportunity to escape and you both died." Her voice was hard to understand through her tears. Hopefully, no one around them could understand or else the chances of finding a free lifeboat would be slimmer.
Erik could see the source of her fear. She didn't want to be left alone; she didn't want to go the next few hours without knowing if her loved ones were safe as well. He knew the only thing he could possibly say that would get her on the boat and reassured was a promise.
"Christine." He touched her delicate, shaking shoulder, resulting in her turning to face him. Once he had her round eyes on his and had her full attention he made his vow. "I promise you, I will find a way of getting off this ship, and I will survive. I promise you that I will bring your father and myself to your side when this is all over. But I can't focus on that task if you are not on that boat and to safety."
She shook her head, tears slipping down her cheeks. Her eyes bore into his wet ones and before she could think of what she was saying she prodded his chest with her finger. "I don't want any of your empty promises! You can't prove that you will survive, so don't tell me that you will! Stop trying to separate us. You have a better chance of getting the captain or the pastor to marry us tonight, among this catastrophe, then getting me on that boat."
Christine hadn't expected the response Erik gave her. She thought that he would give in and let her stay by his side, give up on getting her on the boat, but the wide eyed, epiphany, stunned face that flashed back at her… scared her.
Without a word directed at her, but his eyes still focused on her, Erik raised his voice for William to hear him over the loud noises coming from the pulleys. "William, bring Christine to the chapel and tell Father Byles that I will be there shortly."
"If he asks the reason, what should I say?" William asked, shaken and confused.
"Tell him he is going to officiate a wedding."
Christine stared in utter bewilderment. The directness and assuredness that spilled from his lips was worse than she could even imagine. This wasn't how she saw their union going in her mind. She had fantasized many scenarios of where and when her wedding would take place. On a ship, that was about to sink, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, in a worn, old dress, with a man bent on separating them was not one of them. This was her worst nightmare and the fact that Erik didn't want to marry her because he loved her, but because he wanted her to officially have to obey him brought new tears to her eyes.
Before she could say another word of protest, her father pulled her away from Erik and back inside where the heat from the pipes still wheezed and brought comfort to some. The heat did nothing for her. A block of ice, the size of the iceberg, gripped her heart and made her shiver.
The only thing she could feel was her father's hand around hers and the occasional shove as she walked into someone that was standing in her path. Like a blind person, she didn't see the direction she was going in or the people she was bumping into. The only thing that she could see was the look on Erik's face when he said they would be getting married tonight. There wasn't any happiness or love in his eyes at that moment, just indifference.
When they reached the small lounge, set up as the chapel, the pastor was standing at the platform, his eyes closed, obviously praying for the safety of everyone on board. Benjamin politely waited for Father Byles to finish praying and when he saw him open his eyes and step down from the podium, Benjamin stepped forward with Christine following behind.
Before Father Byles could say anything, Benjamin broke in saying, "Hello Father. My daughter and her fiancé would like to be married tonight. Would you be willing to officiate their union?" He didn't want to demand it from the pastor, but the fear of what Erik would do if denied, made him uneasy.
"I'm sorry, but this may not be the best time." He said trying to brush by to go above deck.
"Please this is important…" Benjamin and Father Byles froze when Erik strode into the chapel at a fast pace.
Christine stared at him. Something in his stature had changed since she saw him only a few minutes earlier. The mask covering his face looked more menacing and sharp and his eyes glowed an intimidating glare. It made her take a fearful step back. She had never seen him look so deadly; the complete opposite of how he looked that morning in this same chapel.
"Father Byles, I would appreciate it greatly if you would marry me to my lovely fiancé." Erik said he outstretched his hand for a shake and the pastor reached out to take it. When their hands parted, Christine could see Byles' head lower to see something in his hand. Christine guessed that Erik had bribed him with money or some kind of trinket.
He looked up at Christine and back to Erik. The desperation in Erik's eyes and the love he could see flickering in Christine's made him yield.
"Do you have a marriage certificate?" he asked.
Christine could tell from Erik's expression that he had completely forgot and she felt the heavy weight on her chest lift slightly. She didn't want to marry him this way; not when he didn't hold the love she envisioned he would have.
Byles noticed his expression as well, but he had found a solution, which brought that weight back on Christine's heart.
"God must have wanted you two together because another couple was supposed to marry tonight, but they changed their mind last minute. I have a spare marriage certificate ready." Father Byles said as he went over to the platform and took a folder out of the second shelf. Opening it, Christine could see a new marriage certificate, still smelled like ink and the stamp was slightly smudged.
Christine felt an arm wrap around her waist and looked down to see Erik's large, masculine hand placed just under her breasts. With the absence of a corset she could feel the heat of his touch through the thick material of her dress.
"All ready. All you have to do is sign and we can perform the ceremony." Father Byles said.
Erik walked Christine closer to where the certificate was placed and taking the fountain pen he signed his name on the appropriate line. He then held the pen in front of Christine, but she just stared at it. She didn't want to reach out and take it because if she did that would be the end. She would sign it, they would be married and recite their vows and he would have her on a boat to safety in minutes.
Father Byles turned and walked a short distance away, wanting to give them their privacy. Christine looked at the elegant signature Erik had created on the page and then to the pen he held in front of her. She looked into his eyes, pleading for him to understand her distaste of this situation.
She could see his fear and it horrified her more than when he had walked into the chapel. He wanted more than anything for her to be safe and he was losing his composure. She had never seen him afraid; he was always so calm and controlled.
Breaking eye contact with him she took the pen from his unstable fingers and scrawled her signature on the certificate beside Erik's. As if noticing the signature from across the room the pastor came back over and took the pen from her in order to write his signature on the following line indicating his involvement in the ceremony.
The priest escorted them over to the altar and opened the bible. Having memorized the word of God, the pages opened on the correct page. Without another word, Father Byles started the ceremony. He could sense the time strains and rushed through the opening prayer, going straight to the vows.
"Do you, Erik Dreaser, take Christine Daae as your beloved wife…" before he could finish the verse, Erik answered with the most important words he would ever say, "I do."
Father Byles took a large gulp and turned to Christine. "Do you, Christine Daae, take Erik Dreaser to be your beloved husband? Will you love, obey and care for him for as long as you both shall live?"
There was that word, 'obey'. But that wasn't the only word that gripped her heart, the word 'love'. She hadn't told him her deepest secret, the fact that she had given her heart to him the moment she met him. She had kept her true feelings from him far too long and now she had to say it. "I love you… I do."
Erik's eyes widened, he hadn't expected to hear those words. His head whipped from where he impassively stared at the pastor and looked at Christine. It was as if he was blind to her expression before because now he could see the love she had for him like light in the daytime. The surprise of hearing those three words, words only his father had expressed to him at a young age, coming from her soft lips, took his breath away. He didn't deserve to hear those special words for the actions he was taking. He didn't deserve to take residence in her heart. She was an angel. He was a selfish man.
Suddenly he heard the pastor ask for the rings. That's when he realized the second part of what she said. 'I do'. She had said 'I do'. He knew he should stop here, not give in to his selfishness, but he needed to go through with this. Her safety and comfort would be improved if she was married to him. If he dies, she would have the marriage certificate and proof of her hold on his money and possessions. She wouldn't have to worry about living on the streets.
Erik reached into his breast pocket, pulling out a simple silver band; the matching set to her engagement ring.
Christine froze. She had heard the pastor ask for the rings and realized she had said 'I do'. She had said those words to confirm her feelings to Erik, a way of denying any doubt that Erik might have had. The pastor must have thought she meant she agreed to marry him. Now she couldn't take it back.
The pastor took the ring and said, "with this ring you shall cherish and love her for the rest of your days."
Christine watched as the pastor handed the ring back to Erik and he turned to face her fully. She could see him hesitate before slipping the smooth circle of medal on her finger.
"Christine, do you have a ring to give to him?" Byles said.
Before Erik could defend the situation or Christine could shyly say she didn't have anything to give, Benjamin spoke. "Yes, she does."
All three of them turned to see Benjamin looking down at his hand, grasping the gold band that rested on his ring finger. The gold ring that symbolized his never-ending love for his late wife slipped from his finger and was held up to the light.
Christine shook her head, "No Father. That's…"
"It is the ring your mother gave to me. Now it is the ring you shall give to your husband." He reached out for Christine's hand and placed the warm medal in the palm of her hand.
The acceptance and sacrifice her father showed in giving the reminder of his wife to her to give to Erik was too much. Before she could stop herself she stepped down and hugged her father tightly. She felt his arms go around her and she inhaled his cologne and the familiar smell she associated with her father, bringing her back to her childhood. He didn't have the strong odor of alcohol that he usually did.
When she pulled away she could see the tears of joy and hope on his face. Everything going on outside and in the near future was erased from his mind and the dream he had for her getting married was coming true. She would be safe and happy for the rest of her life. That's when she knew she had to follow through with this. Not because she had said the words, but because her father needed to see this, she needed to because she loved Erik.
Turning back to Erik, her love, she stepped back up on the platform and lifted Erik's hand with all the care and love she had, she brought the ring up and glided it on his finger, releasing a breath of relief that it actually fit.
With that final step, they were one forever. But Erik anxiously waited for the last words that would bring him closer to her and allow him to show her his passion and love for her in public.
"Now that the rings have been exchanged and the vows have been said, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss your bride."
Erik brought his hand up to cup her cheek and leaned in slowly. Even though time was running out, he wanted this moment to be one she would remember for the rest of her life. He pressed his lips to hers softly, feeling her melt into him and hold him close. With her closeness, he pressed his lips against hers more firmly, forgetting about Byles and her father standing nearby. He just wanted to taste her and hold her one last time. The sound of an unfamiliar voice rang into the room, halting their kiss.
"Father, the captain has need of you right away…" Everyone turned to see one of the officers had rushed into the room, not realizing what he had interrupted.
"I must go." The pastor said to Erik and Christine. "I pray that you two have a long and happy life together." Without another word he retreated, bible in hand, and left the chapel.
Erik had forgotten the true reason for his sudden decision to marry Christine after she had said 'I love you'. But when the pastor left the chapel and he saw the worried look on Benjamin's face, he turned to look at Christine. It all came rushing back. He knew that she would continue to refuse getting off the ship without him, but now that the pastor had married them with the vows for her to obey, she would feel obligated to do so. When she gets off this ship she will have a future worth living, even if he wasn't a part of it.
Taking her hand, more roughly than the sweet caress he held her in for the entire ceremony, he rushed her out of the room with Benjamin behind them.
When they reached the staircase, the tired, calm people that had sat there waiting to go back to bed were all cramming into the only exit to B-deck. The bitter cold was rushing into the room as everyone was trying to rush out. With a curse, Erik looked to Benjamin and saw the worry intensify in his old eyes.
Without another thought, Erik turned and rushed up the staircase where a few passengers were just coming from their rooms. Taking the turn leading to the doors that go directly to A-deck, revealed an officer standing there blocking the exit.
"Let us through." Erik said.
"I'm sorry, sir, but these doors are unavailable. You will have to go back down the stairs and exit on B-deck." The officer said, obviously being paid a lot of money to act as a barricade. He didn't even flinch at the hatred burning in Erik's intense gaze and voice.
As Erik reached into his pocket, he thanked his foresight for grabbing the money he had stored away in his room. Slamming a roll of bills in the man's hand, he watched as the officer looked astonished. It was definitely more than the man was being paid for this whole trip because he silently moved out of the way to allow them to pass.
Slamming through the glass doors, Erik looked around to see a crowd had formed in front of each available lifeboat. Officers were yelling over the loud mechanical screeches while passengers were reluctantly getting into the boats, confusion written on their faces.
Christine watched the panic in Erik's eyes as he looked back and forth down the decks trying to find an opening to sneak through. There was nothing she could do to persuade him to give up on his need to get her off the ship but she wished there was.
"You didn't say it back." Erik's whole focus was on his surroundings, but those softly spoken, almost mumbled, words broke through.
He turned to look at Christine, who was staring at her new ring. He tilted her chin up so that he could see her face. When she looked into his eyes, he could see she had spilled out her thoughts without thinking.
"What did you say?" Erik said. He had heard her words, but wasn't able to understand them.
"Nothing." She tugged her hand from his and wiped the tears that were building in her eyes. "It was nothing." She didn't want to voice her irrational fear, not now when something more real and fearful was happening around them.
Erik was about to protest and demand her to tell him what was on her mind, when an officer nearby bellowed, "Please, more woman and children, please."
The boat just to their left was slowly filling and the amount of people standing in front of it was minimal to the others. Erik found his opportunity and took Christine's hand again. He brought her straight over to the boat and the officer. When the officer saw them coming closer he assisted in making room for Christine.
"Miss, come aboard." The young officer said, taking Christine's hand and ushering her closer to the edge.
Christine's panic started rising. She turned to look at Erik and saw he had silently stepped back, keeping his distance. When she felt another pair of hands on her other arm she turned to see they were helping her onto the boat that was dangling over the side of the ship.
Before she could turn and run, a young lady grabbed her hand to assist her in sitting in the boat. The boat started filling faster until she was pushed to the other side of the boat, farthest from the ship. She was fighting against a wave, wanting to get through and back in Erik's arms, but the women and children just kept rolling in. She looked over the side to see she was high over the water and one more shove would push her over the edge and into freezing darkness.
She looked at the passengers around her, seeing the other women on the boat had children who were waving goodbye to their fathers. Saying goodbye to the people they love.
The boat dipped roughly, as the first lever was engaged, making all the women cry in distress. Officers on both sides cranked the levers and brought the boat down slowly.
Everything was becoming real. The reactions of other women saying goodbye to their men was too hard to watch. Looking up, hoping to see Erik watching her go, she saw him standing only a couple feet from the rail; his face spoke volumes of heartache. He hated watching her go and wished he hadn't let her slip through his fingers.
As the boat kept lowering, the less she could see of him. First it was only from his hips up. Then his waist, his chest, his neck and then he was gone. She couldn't see him anymore, not even his beautiful face. Her whole future flashed before her eyes; she could see the pain and heartache that would follow, the complete emptiness and silence that would accompany her for the rest of her life. She knew that would be the last time she saw him.
Erik turned and walked away. He couldn't handle the pain of watching her go. Now that she was gone from his view, he looked around at all the chaos and knew that he had to try and get out of this alive. He was about to go in search of Mr. Andrews, when he heard a scream and exclamations of surprise coming from the boat that he watched depart.
Running back to the railing, shoving the officers and other waiting passengers out of the way, he looked over the side to see that Christine was no longer on the boat, no longer in the place he last saw her. His first panicked thought was that she had fallen over the edge of the boat and into the water, but everyone would have been looking over that side. Instead hands and eyes were looking straight at the side of the ship.
In disbelief, he leaned over the edge a little farther. He could see that hands, coming from B-deck, were grabbing a figure that was clinging to the side of the ship. The people that were walking on the deck below him had rushed forward and pulled the girl over, back onto the ship.
Erik froze. He recognized the pink coat and wild brown curls.
Christine had jumped back on the ship.
With a curse at her stupidity and the fact that he hadn't seen that stunt coming, he rushed past the oncoming crowd and through the doors where the bribed officer still stood. Running down the hall he made it to the Grand Staircase, the grandfather clock, chiming away the hour, as he turned to see Christine rushing around the corner to climb the stairs.
They both stopped short at the sight of each other, out of breath and searching for each other. Her curls were loose and bouncing around her white face. Without another thought of hatred they rushed towards each other and embraced.
After being assured that she was in his arms again she pulled back and brought his face to hers. No one would interrupt or intervene.
She kissed him with all the love she had stored in her heart. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she leaned into him as he pulled her close around the waist. Their lips and tongues spoke for them; they were desperate for each other and nothing would separate them. When she felt out of breath, she pulled away an inch, breathing in his scent while trying to calm her racing heart.
"You said, I didn't say it back." Erik said, in between breaths. "At first I didn't understand, but now I do. The fact that you doubt I would makes you very stupid." Christine stared at him with both irritation at his choice of words and elation at what he was about to say. "I have loved you since the moment I set eyes on you. You have been in my thoughts ever since that first night and my love for you has grown with each passing day and every piece of yourself that you have shared with me. You are the missing piece of my heart."
Christine had never heard such beautiful words, she had past suitors and her father tell her that they loved her, but none of those moments could match this one. The most wonderful man she has ever known loves her and she is delighted to call him hers.
See I can be nice. No cliffie! Yay!
You guys didn't think I would separate them so quickly, did you? No! Christine has way more fight in her! ;)
I had always planned on having them get married on the Titanic and this just seemed to make sense. I hope you guys don't think it was too rushed. This has been set in stone since the beginning. I used artistic license here, so if there is a mistake in the way of binding a union back then, just know that I did it to make the story.
Let me know what you think about: the abrupt wedding, Christine's stubbornness, Erik's selfishness, her jumping back on the ship, them revealing their true feelings for each other. Review!