The Brightest Night
A walk. That's all it was.
She hadn't lied to him. Of course, she would never lie to her fiancée. She could bend the truth a little bit, but as she had said to him when she left, she was now walking.
She had, however, very carefully omitted the carriage she had hired shortly after leaving the Chateau. She wanted to go for a walk, but not in the forest outside the de Chagny house. It had taken a few weeks for her to find out the information she needed, but finally a bribed scullery maid had come through for her. The maid had found where Meg and her mother were staying, their previous residence having burned after that night at the Opera.
It was exactly where the mob would never have thought to find him. Because who, in their right mind would stay anywhere close to their own crime scene?
Someone who did that would have to be mad.
In her borrowed outfit, borrowed from the same scullery maid, Christine hurried past the people. She kept her eyes downcast, in case one of the finer people hurrying past noticed and recognized her. Tonight, she did not want to be Christine Daae. She did not want any calling attention to her impending nuptials. She wanted to be anonymous. She wanted to get to her goal.
She did not make it. In the alley beside the boarding house, a hand shot out and grabbed her, yanking her into the shadow.
Shadows were as much a part of his life as music.
Perhaps that was the reason he felt so at home here, in this cabin. Surrounded by the dark woods, the music of the bird song harmonized with the music in his head. It was all empty though. Not even the nightingale sounded as beautiful as when his Angel sang.
He let his mind wander back to the last time he heard her sing. Their voices were soaring together, singing, his hands on her. He closed his eyes and inhaled, thinking that he could still feel his Christine in his arms, where she belonged. But that night, the night he had put the choice to her. And when she kissed him, he had seen an entire future laid out before him. Going away with her, leaving this place, having her beside him always. She pulled away and looked at him, and she did not flinch. Not once.
And then she pulled him in again. She wanted to kiss him again. In that kiss he tasted every ounce of love shared between them. In that kiss he could taste that she was choosing him, choosing a life with him.
And in that kiss, he made the choice for her. He loved his angel enough to let her go, loved her enough that he would never condemn her to a life in the shadows. So he ordered Raoul to take her, and then vanished into the shadow. She came back, and yet even still he sent her away. After she left, he vanished into the shadows.
Until Meg and Giry found him.
"Christine Daae what in heaven's name are you doing here?" Meg hissed, pulling on her wrist. "You shouldn't be here."
Christine twisted her hand out of Megs. She looked up and met the eye of her friend. "Meg I..."
"You went with Raoul. Mother will be mad, we don't need you messing things up." Meg didn't even want to let her finish her sentence.
"Meg, I went with Raoul because he sent me away. Please, I know your mother hid him. I know your mother would take care of him." Christine twisted the heavy ring on her finger. "I'm getting married in two weeks. I just need to say goodbye before you leave." Brown eyes drilled into blue. "Please Meg. I need to see him. For every ounce of friendship that is between us, for the fact that we are like sisters."
Meg kept silent. Her mother in one ear, whispering that this would be no good, that he would be in a temper if he saw her. Her best friend right in front of her. Begging.
"Mother put him in Buquet's old cottage. Be quick, and be out before dawn. We're leaving France tomorrow."
Christine kissed Meg on the cheek and embraced her best friend. "If I never see you again, know I love you."
Meg's eyes looked incredibly sad as she slipped back into the shadows.
There is a certain irony to staying in the residence of a man he had murdered. A small one room cabin, with a bed, a stove, and a bookshelf, mostly filled with dirty books.
He had not gone into that night wanting to kill. Really, Giry had just asked for Buquet to be removed from his post somehow. The man had been a menace to the ballet girls, and while some of the girls who had looser morals had welcomed him willing into their beds, recently the man had begun to haunt Meg.
But his rage at hearing that horrid caterwauling from Carlotta, instead of the pure tones of his Angel, overwhelmed him and he simply lost control. Two birds, one stone.
The fire burned low in the fireplace, making soft noises as the ashes collapsed on themselves. The birds outside had gone quiet. It was the latest hour of the night, the hour of the night he hated because after this point, the world started becoming lighter, and he had to face another day without his Christine.
A branch cracked outside and instantly he was on his guard. Since that night, he had kept a pistol and his rapier close, prepared to fight his way out should the mob find where he hid.
He pulled back the hammer and aimed as someone outside fumbled with the latch and warily opened the door.
"Whoever you may be, it will not go well for you if you do not turn around and leave."
The door was pushed open further and he cursed, wishing for moonlight. It was too dark to see who it was, but he could tell that she was build like a woman. He uncocked the weapon and leaned back. "Mademoiselle Giry, while I appreciate what you and your mother are doing for me, I would rather have my time to myself."
"Don't worry. She's still in the city." He froze. The still air seemed to vibrate with the sweet voice. "I chose you. I was choosing you over him. Why, why did you send me away?"
He found that he was incapable of answering her. It spoke right to his soul that she would seek him out. Instead of addressing her question, however, he hardened his heart. "Go back to your fiancée."
"No. I chose you. I'm engaged to him because you gave me no choice."
Suddenly enraged, he stormed towards her, stopping just shy of letting the last glow of the fire touch his face. "LOOK AT ME!" He roared. "I'm no choice for you to have."
Emboldened, Christine stepped into the cabin and reached for him. He stepped back so as to remain just out of her reach. "I should be the one to decide that." Without any more hesitation she stepped forward to do what she had wanted to do since the last time she had seen him.
Her hands slid up around his neck, her eyes slid closed and she pressed her lips to his.
Experiencing only the third kiss of his life left him just as speechless as the first two had. Her lips were tentative on his, showing she was aware of the fact that he had a volatile temper, and that his mood could change at any moment. Apparently, having decided to do this though, she pressed harder, deepening the kiss, and he gave himself over to the feeling of her in his arms, of her scent, of the way her hair moved against his skin.
She felt when he lost control and gave himself over to what she knew he was feeling. Roughly pulling her backwards, he continued until they bumped into the bed. Somewhere in there, his shirt had vanished and her scullery maid dress had pushed down.
They fell to the bed and lost themselves in each other.
Light stole into the bedroom, through the crack of the heavy velvet curtains. Christine lay in bed, staring at the canopy above her nuptial bed, her hand in front of her face. A massive diamond winked on the ring finger of her left hand, accompanied by a silver gold band. Shifting gently, she reached under her pillow and pulled out the vial hidden there the night before. Without disturbing the covers, as best she could, she uncorked it, and spilled a few tiny drops of blood on the sheets. Crushing the thin vial in her hand carefully, she threw the bits of glass onto the carpet under the bed. Then she turned and looked at her husband.
His shoulder length hair was splayed over his pillow, and he was snoring softly. Raoul bore the look of someone who had partied heavily the night before. Their clumsy, drunken consummation had been nothing like what had passed between her and Erik two weeks before. But waking up in the cabin alone had sealed her fate. She had been so willing to go with them, to stay with Meg, her surrogate mother, and her love, the true mate of her soul.
She knew him innately, knew how his mind operated. She wasn't worried that he had been only out for the conquest. But she was mad at him, furious even.
Who was he to decide that she had to live without him?
As quietly as she could, she buried her face into the pillow and cried. She cried for her lost love, she cried for having to sentence herself to this marriage, and she cried for the child in her belly, who would never know his father.
Raoul slept on, oblivious.