A/N Hi everyone! First off. Let me just say how much I have missed my involvement in FF. Even though I was working on my stories, I still missed the reviews and pms my wonderful readers so generously gave me. Well now I am back with a new story for all of you. Be aware, this tale sort of mixes the Leroux and Webber stories, some details may seem different and that would be why.
I truly hope you enjoy this new tale, as I have tried to write it quickly so I wouldn't be missing too long.
BEAUTIFUL COVER ART-The wonderful image I have used as a cover is not at all my work. It belongs to Muirin007 on . She has sweetly allowed me to use some of her stellar pieces as covers. Please check out her profile and more lovely pictures. The link can be found on my profile as FF won't let me post it here. :)
Also, a big thanks to everyone who reviewed Lost Love, I Will Wait, and The One She Runs To. I am grateful for each and every one.
Please enjoy and please review!
The air was freezing. Snowflakes drifted from the sky, swirling on the wind and attaching themselves to Christine's beautiful brown curls. Erik watched from afar, following her within the shadows of the cemetery. He went slightly ahead, knowing what her final destination here would be. Her father's grave.
Perhaps it was sacrilegious to envy the dead, but Erik couldn't help himself. He coveted the devotion and eternal love Christine lavished upon her father's memory. How he ached to know the experience of holding that sort of love. But not anyone's love, only Christine's. The single person upon the earth whose esteem he valued and heart he sought.
Even now she seemed to unintentionally mesmerize him. Her expression was tragic and forlorn, mourning. She always held these traces of sadness when she visited the cemetery. It amazed Erik to see how much sorrow she hid in the face of society. But today as she walked through the sacred grounds, she let her emotions be free and uninhibited, her sorrow on blatant display.
Her attire was entirely black, the deep color highlighting the paleness of her porcelain skin. Her every delicate feature was intoxicating to him, from her cheeks flushed in pink hues with cold, to the slow languid gait of her walk. Her breaths came out as icy puffs in the air, decorating the space around her in crystal. To him that seemed only appropriate. Christine was magic if it existed. How apt that the air around her sparkled.
How he ached just to watch her. She was the most exquisite being in existence and it tore at him to know his hideousness would never compare to her innocent beauty. He knew himself a fool to think she would ever truly love him. Yet, he could not stop striving for that hopeful, seemingly impossible thought.
As he glanced at the tears forming at the edges of her eyes, he could not help feeling that he was their cause. He should have known better! Christine had always been unendingly curious. Erik should have seen the threat of disaster before it had had the chance to occur and hurt them both. Then he could have avoided his scene of madness and anger. How he hated the hazy memory. He wanted to deny that he had treated her so harshly, but could not. The proof still rested as fading bruises on her wrists. Mementos of the damage he had caused by throwing her to the stone floor of his home. Those marks made guilt intensify.
But he never would have been so cruel if she had not been heartless first. How could she? He had trusted her with everything! His world, his music, his entire life. Yet she couldn't be satisfied when he still had a single secret to hide. The mask.
Removing that one piece of artifice had thrown their lovely illusions into nothing but chaos and pain. She had seen the damage of his twisted face and he hated the reality it had brought. She could never un-know the distortions of his scars. He feared the memory of them alone would ruin any hope of rebuilding their relationship.
It was those same fears that sent him into a rage too pure to stifle. Erik hurt too much to contain the anguish. Perhaps he could have controlled his temper had fate not taunted him. But instead he burned as Christine was pushed by his idiot managers out of lime light at the impudent diva Carlotta's request. Then her long lost, terribly perfect Vicomte showed up to woo her. How dare he expect her to fall into his arms? And how dare she do exactly that? His heart had already been fractured by her callous actions. Must she wound him more by pursuing his dashing rival? Erik's mind had been so consumed, he barely thought when Buquet attempted to seize him. He simply reacted. The monster inside him had been begging for blood and Buquet, unfortunately, suffered the backlash.
But that action had been the greatest mistake of all. Dropping the hanged man to prove his dominance may have returned his power as an Opera Ghost. But, it had also lost him his beautiful Christine. He could recall vividly her terrified features when she glimpsed his crime.
He wondered sadly now if her tears were in fear of her terrible, black-hearted angel. Surely she must hate him now that he had proved every vicious rumor she ever heard to be true. He was the murdering freak everyone believed him to be. He was the heartless demon they all feared. He was the Opera Ghost and now had no power to deny it.
Suddenly his self-loathing ceased in lieu of Christine's whispers. "You promised an angel, Father." Her hushed voice carried across the wind to him. That one line held more desolation than he could ever hope to put into words. Each one cut him to his core, lashing at his conscience.
An angel! Her father had promised an angel and Erik had exploited the belief for his own personal desires. It had been the darkest of deeds to have deceived such innocence. He had thought it his only way to be with her. But now he looked back on the decision as his first mistake. How laughable to think he could have pretended to be a heaven sent when the world knew him to be from hell.
Yet, he had wished for nothing more than to be her true guardian, her protector. She truly embodied purity and he longed to keep that sacred gift from the world's sinful clutches. How ironic that he became the one to ruin her. Erik had only wanted to be with her, without hiding behind mirrors and speaking through walls. What folly it had been! He should have expected no less. Didn't he spoil everything he touched?
Erik's jaw clenched as he fought against self-hatred. He never intended to hurt her. And yet he had just the same. He simply wished for a chance, a single chance to win her back. To demonstrate that he was more than the world deemed him. But he feared his unpredictable temper and damnable mask would hinder any attempt he could hope to make to mend their bond. Hadn't they already destroyed her trust and broken her faith to bits?
Erik's inner battle suddenly ceased as he heard a surprising sound rising over the rustling leaves and soft, howling wind. His brows rose in unguarded shock as he listened to her voice. Sweet heavens above, had anything ever sounded so sad yet so undeniably beautiful? The words were foreign to him. If the song existed, he had never chanced to hear it. Yet he suspected otherwise. He had long ago helped Christine to overcome fears, battle frustrations, and express the unspeakable, unmanageable emotions she felt through music. It was an exercise he had employed to teach her how to truly feel what she sang.
Hearing her now, he believed this to be one of the times she needed music's sphere to sort out her emotions. In its possession she could express without fear of judgment and reproach.
"You were once my one companion,
You were all that mattered."
Erik flinched. Was it him she sang of? And if it was, how could he have been the source of such sorrow?
"You were once my friend and father,
Then my world was shattered."
Of course! How presumptive to believe it was him she missed. Yet Erik still felt bitter disappointment at the realization. It hardly surprised him. No one had ever mourned his absence, why should she?
"Wishing you were somehow here again,
Wishing you were somehow near,
Sometimes it seemed, if I just dreamed,
Somehow you would be here."
Oh that voice! Christine's instrument was Erik's greatest and proudest accomplishment. Never had he heard such exquisite tone and pitch. Without his volition his eyes fluttered shut, so his ears could better appreciate the splendor he had been denied for too long. As much anger and hurt as he harbored in his heart, every desolate feeling and lingering pain faded in the glory of her serenade to him. In his mind Erik could hear instruments playing softly behind her. Each one harmonizing and complimenting the notes she chose. The imagined tune was so lovely it sent shivers down his spine. Or perhaps it was simply hearing her, really hearing her again.
Her recent rehearsals had been not even near to the standards he had set for. The music was perfect, every note precise and correct. But the soul behind it was not. Her heart seemed…lost and empty.
But now she sang with emotion so raw and consuming, Erik could hardly endure the sorrow. She was making him feel every ache along with her. His heart was being tangled by her sadness and his own ecstasy. The confusion made his mind turn with conflicting thoughts and he soon found himself falling behind her graceful procession. No! He needed to remain focused. He must find a way to redeem himself for Christine.
Christine could swear she was being torn slowly in two. She felt confused, tormented by feelings she could not explain yet couldn't deny.
She had awoken in the early hours of dawn with too many painful thoughts and yearnings to deal with alone. And though Raoul slumbered outside her apartment, his hadn't been the comfort she needed. Instead Christine had turned to her father, long gone, for comfort. She was seeking solace but the cemetery was only serving to damage her bruised soul more. Its cold stones were taunting her with their unfeeling faces. She had come seeking answers and safety, but she hadn't even reached her father's memorial and she knew should would find neither here. Because her father wasn't here to help her and the one man she would have run to any other time was the very source of her turmoil.
The Phantom of the Opera. She shuddered just to think the title's consonants. She felt like an ignorant child. How had she believed him an angel? And why did she miss him even after he revealed himself to be the infamous Opera Ghost?
When he had been her Angel of Music, Christine had loved him without knowing a single bit of shame to mar its purity. How she had loved him specifically, she could not have said. He acted as her ever thoughtful mentor, her most sincere confidante, and also her ever adoring companion. When he had been a golden voice behind a mirror's glass, she could have loved him perhaps as more than just her caring friend. She used to ponder as much often, dreaming girlish fantasies of a life with her angel.
But then her heavenly teacher had proven to be someone entirely different. Someone dark, someone mysterious, and someone that all the people around her had lived in fear of. When Christine had taken his mask she had been frightened, it was true. But outside of her shock at his face she had felt pity for the creature he had become. Society had shunned him all because of a simple face. Now, however, she felt a terror when she thought of the body of Buquet swinging from the rafters. A face could be accepted, but deeds such as that gruesome murder could not be condoned. Could they?
Her mind was reeling in endless circles, trying to condemn him, longing to condone him. Christine had attempted to erase his memory. But his music was everywhere. HE was everywhere. And yet nowhere. Since his murder, her Phantom had been missing. His absence should have been welcomed by her, but Christine missed him. In times between rehearsals she often sat gazing at her mirror, willing him to return, not even knowing what she would do if he did. Would she curse him? Would she comfort him? She didn't know. She didn't know!
Unable to decipher her own desires she now only wanted refuge from the complications of her heart. And still relying on the teachings of her Angel, she had let her voice ring out to make sense of it all. She sang of her father, how she wished she could simply have him with her, especially now, to guide her as only her gentle father could.
"Passing veils and sculpted angels
Cold and monumental
Seem for you the wrong companions
You were warm and gentle"
Her dear father didn't belong in this dismal place. But then instead of the grave yard before her, she could see behind her lids the rigid, dank catacombs, every bit as dreary and solemn. Then, without her realizing it, her song became less about loss of her father, and more of loss for her Angel.
Then she had to fight her own torrent of desolation as she admitted how broken his disappearance had left her. And she began to beg herself, her father, her God, whoever would listen to help her.
"Too many years fighting back tears,
Why can't the past just die!"
Why couldn't she let her father rest in peace? Why couldn't she let the memory of masked man go? Must wounds, both past and present, always haunt her? Then finally, she sang with all the conviction stirring in her mind the thoughts she was ashamed to feel.
"Wishing you were somehow here again
Knowing we must say goodbye
Try to forgive, teach me to live
Give me the strength to try"
Christine was shaking with her need to absolve herself of the sin of missing a murderer. She wanted the power to move on, but she didn't know if she desired to.
"No more memories
No more silent tears
No more gazing across
The wasted years"
She called them wasted because now it seemed as though all of her work with her teacher had been nothing but pretense. How could he truly care if he left her? But WHY did she care that he did? She hated the thought of mourning more for his loss.
"Help me say goodbye
Help me say goodbye"
Was it really such a hard thing to bid farewell to what should be a horrid nightmare? Christine did not understand. And even though she had tried every solace she knew, she still felt no better or wiser. So, defeated, she sat in the snow beneath her father's simple grave, clutching red roses that only served to remind her of her grief.
This story is a bit different from my others, but I sincerely hope you will like it.
Also, many thanks to my fantastic Beta Starcrier! You are amazing darling, thanks for your advice and helping me write this story :)
Please, please, please, let me know what you thought of this first chapter in a REVIEW!