Hey everybody! I still can't believe that my idea with Natalie has expanded into a whole series. Honestly, I didn't think anyone was going to read it or pay attention to it, so the fact that I'm starting the third story is just unbelieveable. I love you all for that! Anyway, this story is a little bit different than the others. It's going to be simulaniously told from both the Phantom universe as well as our world. And this story isn't really going to have any new characters, it's going to have some minor characters from the other stories playing a larger role. But of course it's still going to have our favorite weird couple as the main focus! Thank you all for all your support! Read and review and enjoy Part Three!
Every fiber of Erik's being went on high alert when he heard the crash of the piano. Running into the parlor, he saw his six year old daughter Celine looking around in confusion, rubbing sleep from her eyes. He smiled as he realized she must have dozed off while practicing. "And that would be the sound of bedtime," his wife Natalie announced.
Celine's twin brother Christian yawned. "But I'm not tired," he protested.
"You heard your mother," Erik said firmly. Christian pouted, but hugged Natalie before trudging off to bed. He turned to his daughter. "You too." She gave him a sleepy smile then halfheartedly held out her arms. Chuckling, Erik picked her up and carried her to her bedroom, her arms around his neck, her legs around his waist.
"Night Daddy," she whispered as he tucked her in.
"Goodnight my angel," he replied, before kissing her forehead.
"You spoil her rotten," Natalie said as he walked back into the parlor.
"Hey, she takes after her mother," Erik responded then took her in his arms. "I don't remember you ever complaining about me spoiling you."
Natalie rested her head on his shoulder and his embrace tightened. "That's because it's your job to spoil me," she teased. "You're not supposed to spoil your kids."
"No one mentioned that to me." He tilted her head up and studied her face. She seemed paler than normal. "Are you feeling alright?"
She sighed. "Well I wasn't going to say anything until I knew for sure. But it looks like you figured me out."
"Are you pregnant again?" he asked jokingly until he saw her face. His jaw dropped. "Really?"
"I'm not one hundred percent certain, but I think so." Natalie braced herself for his reaction. When she had told him she was pregnant with the twins, Erik didn't take the news so well.
But instead of shouting at her like before, Erik cupped her face in his hands and kissed her. Natalie couldn't believe how much her husband had changed over the years. When they had met, he was the fearsome Phantom of the Opera, but now Natalie didn't really think he was capable of hurting anyone. It just proved that all he had ever wanted was to have a normal life, and now that he had it, he was just as charming and wonderful as anyone.
Erik smiled when they broke apart. "I suppose that means I'll have to add another room to the house."
"Don't get ahead of yourself. Like I said, I'm not absolutely positive, and even if I am, you still have nine months."
Natalie's eyes snapped open as a hand snaked around her waist, and she instinctively tensed. "It's just me," Erik whispered, brushing her long blonde hair from her neck and kissing it gently. "I didn't mean to wake you."
She rolled over to face her husband. "It's okay," she replied, not mentioning that he had pulled her out of a nightmare.
However, Erik had always been able to read her emotions like a book, and tonight was no different. "What's upsetting you?"
"It's just…" Looking into Erik's deep green eyes, Natalie could feel tears threatening to spill. "I try to forget, but I can't. Most of the time I'm okay, but the possibility of a new baby… I'm just reminded of it all over again."
"Him?" Natalie nodded, her lip quivering. Erik held her close and stroked her hair. "Natalie, he can't hurt you. He's dead. You're safe with me. You know that."
A few tears slipped down her cheek at the memory. "He's not dead," she murmured. "He just went back to the future. Back to where I'm from. There's the possibility he could come back."
"Natalie, he was shot. We saw it. There was no way he could've survived."
"He vanished into thin air! You said yourself that I did the same thing when I was trapped in the fire of the Opera Populaire. But I'm right here. How do you explain that?" Erik opened his mouth to respond but couldn't think of the words to put her mind at ease. "You can't can you?"
"Even if he does come back, I won't let him hurt you. I'll protect you and the twins and the new baby. You know I will."
She looked up at him, tears shining in her eyes. "Always?"
"Of course," he replied. "I'll always be around to keep you safe."
"I promise." A smile of relief flashed across her face for a brief moment, before she cuddled up next to him and slowly drifted off to sleep.
Early the next morning, Natalie reached out searching for Erik's warm embrace. Instead of finding him though, she realized his side of the bed was empty. Usually he waited for her to wake up, but whenever he had inspiration, Erik would get up and go compose, no matter what the hour.
Crawling out of bed, she walked into the parlor. To her surprise, she found the room empty, Erik's music lying untouched on the piano. The kitchen was also deserted. Natalie poked her head into the twin's rooms, but just found the children still sound asleep.
Feeling a hint of worry, Natalie decided to check outside. Perhaps Erik went to go check on the horses or went for a walk or just felt like getting some fresh air. Occasionally he did something strange like that. But when she went to open the door, she discovered it was still locked, and the key was in its usual place. Why would Erik lock the door and still leave the key? Granted, he was more than capable of picking the lock, but it would be so much easier to just take the key.
"Erik?" she called, running outside. "Dammit Erik, where are you?" Natalie opened the door to the stable, but only found Erik's black horse, Caesar, and Emeline, the palomino mare that he had given her after the twins were born. At the sign of the horses, Natalie had a rush of mixed emotions. If the horses were here, he couldn't have gone far. But if he wasn't in here, where was he?
Erik was surprised to find himself waking up on the floor. The next weird thing he noticed was that he was wearing his mask. Unless he was going to the nearby town, he never wore it anymore at Natalie's insistence. So why did he have it now?
Then his eyes grew wide. Even though it had been nearly a decade since he had lived under the opera house, he still had better vision in the dark then most people. And despite it being pitch black inside, Erik realized he wasn't in his own home. Where was he? Looking around he realized that had no idea what most of this stuff in this house was. What the hell was going on?
Before he could figure anything out, Erik heard a lock click and saw the doorknob turning. Automatically he turned and fled the room, looking for another way out. He might have quit being the Phantom of the Opera ten years ago, but that didn't mean he still didn't have the same flight-or-fight instincts. The fact that he was in here without knowing how he had arrived wasn't good, especially if he was discovered.
He soon found himself in a bedroom, and to his relief, there was a window. Erik ran up to it and tried frantically to open it, but it wouldn't budge. Behind him, the door swung open and light suddenly filled the room. He heard a gasp, so Erik turned and saw a woman, who looked in her mid-twenties staring at him, her mouth hanging open in horror.