Hiii lovely people! Sorry I haven't uploaded in a while, but med school has been draining my energy. Bah. Anyway, this was a fairly complicated chapter to write. I honestly hope you like it. In case there's any grammatical mistake or something like that, free feel to warn me. The chapter has already been revised, but I haven't added anything. I'm working on the next chapter, hopefully it won't take very long to upload!
Anyway, have fun and please, please, please, review!
Disclaimer: I do not own anything from POTO, sadly.
Chapter 9: Hopes and Fears
- Christine's POV -
Was she really going through with this? Suddenly, she thought about what she was about to ask Erik. What kind of answers was she expecting, too? She found herself in a situation that was, indeed, more embarrassing than she had expected. Christine was sure that Erik could see right trough her naïveté and insecurity. He was watching her closely, a worried look and furrowed brows in confusion. Her face must be beetroot red, she thought.
Silence still prevailed on her part, her eyes not being able to focus on anything specific, desperately trying to avoid Erik's quizzical glance. Christine tried to breathe in deeply several times hoping that each breath would make it easier for her. Unfortunately, it didn't seem to work well enough. Why did she have to be so nervous now, of all times?
"Well…?" Erik was growing impatient, she could feel it. Christine hadn't uttered a word since her spontaneous inquisitional outburst. Was there any proper way to convey her doubts and suspicions, she hadn't found it yet. And she needed to most desperately or she would make herself pass for a fool in front of Erik.
Christine tried to think as fast as she could. Could a direct approach be the best thing to do, given the circumstances? From what she could tell, nothing else would work. She had tried to insert this subject subtily several times and had failed continuously to capture Erik's attention. Was he evading her questions purposely? Then again, when it came to him, nothing was really predictable. He could turn his back on her, for all she knew. However, Christine hoped this was not the case. Not after all the weeks of proximity. A direct blow it would be, there was no other way out now. Composing herself, and looking Erik straight in the eyes, she gathered the courage she needed.
"I had expected to discuss with you a few details about the opera".
His quizzical gaze still rested on her. Those eyes, the oh-so-green mysterious eyes examined her own. It was as if he could see through all of her questions and fears. This intense look reminded her of a sort of wild animal, ready to attack any time. Erik was getting defensive. But why? He cannot possibly know how I feel about all of this, can he?
"Go ahead." His voice was tense. Yet, his face didn't show any of the turmoil, those clear eyes gave away to her.
"Hmm.. So…" Christine breathed in deeply. "What is Amina supposed to represent?" She could feel a warm flush spread to her cheek. "W-what I mean is… I don't think I understand the depth of it all. Is this romance? Tragedy? A tale of despise and revenge? B-but… Amina seems so innocent and Don Juan-" She gulped, trying to put her thoughts in order. "He just wants to hurt her. He despises her. And why - why must everything be so… carnal?" Oh God. Of all things I could say. "They only talk about desire and… such things. What is she supposed to represent? Why did you compose something like this? It is beautiful, that is not where my doubts lay. But… why? It seems so unexpected coming from you."
There was a long period of silence.
"It's just that, there is so much I don't understand… I feel as though I am missing something here. Why compose an opera, so… lustful? Why me as Amina - Amina, who is overwhelmed by…"
Her unsaid word hung in the air. She felt as though she was choking on them. Erik's gaze was piercing her, looking in anticipation for them. She felt trapped.
In a short, almost inaudible breath, she concluded.
".. By Don Juan."
Silence ensued, yet again. As much as she eyed Erik, he did not return her looks. He looked both pensive and hesitant. Despite being afraid of his reaction, Christine would not let her questions go unanswered this time. She was trying to regain her composure in the meantime.
After what seemed centuries to Christine, the man with the mask turned to her. His look was fierce and his feline movements towards her did not go unnoticed by Christine.
- Erik's POV -
She was pushing him to the limit and she knew it. Well, two can play this game. Erik could see right through her. Not that it was very complicated, after all. This conversation, the multiple hints and references he had dropped over the past days were not just about improving her performance, he was sure of it. He knew her far too well - in case this was just a performing issue, she would have stated it plainly and as directly as possible. Christine was not so proud as not to acknowledge her limitations or difficulties, a trait he did not possess. And he admired her exceedingly for it. But now, this was something else entirely. It was as if, somehow, she knew of his feelings when he was composing "Don Juan". Which, by the way, he could not let her know about, for there was a chance they could drive her off. Again. Erik was also quite aware that she wasn't the innocent, naïve girl of once before. She was smart enough to make the connection between the night of the Masquerade Ball and the opera he had written. What was she trying to do? Couldn't she just leave it for once, for both of their sakes? Things were finally heading in a very favourable direction and her incessant questions were torture to him.
He sighed in desperation. His darkest part was taking the best of him. Slowly, he made his way towards Christine. Her gaze didn't leave him for a moment, clearly eager for a response.
"Very well, Christine. Are you sure you really wish to know?"
"Yes, please" she said, without any trace of hesitation in her voice.
Erik didn't answer right away. How could he? It was too much, all of this.
"It is a tale of revenge and desire, you were right about as much, Christine. I fully understand your doubts and questions, in fact. Although personally, I don't think it to be much different from other operas you have studied. What defines it, I would say, is its rawness. There's suspense. The crowd already knows Don Juan's intentions towards Amina before she does, hence the general shock. The lines also, might be considered censurable, but who in his or her right mind would write on Don Juan and skip to mention desire? I think everyone in Paris knows that story too well to be surprised or scandalized, even." He chuckled lightly. "It is Paris, after all. Let's just say that I decided to be a little more honest about it. Oh, and of course the opera allowed me to explore your vocal range as well, of course."
This was hardly a perfect answer and he seriously doubted Christine would take it as definitive. A single look confirmed it. Her lips pursed, the face expressing confusion and slight disappointment revealed she was not satisfied with the way he'd put things.
"You know that's not what I meant."
- Christine's POV -
"Hmm?" His voice was a low, baritone purr. She would not be intimidated. She would not.
"You did not answer my questions" She looked him in the eye coldly. "One might think you are evading them, monsieur."
He gave her the most devilish smile. But he didn't look happy or even slightly amused by the situation. She was getting on his nerves. Erik got closer. Christine squinted her eyes, trying to intimidate him. In vain. He doesn't get intimidated by anything in this world.
"Why did you write it?" His calculating eyes wouldn't break contact with hers.
"Inspiration, mademoiselle. Just like every other artist. In fact, Christine, I do not understand why you seem so distressed over a character."
"It is because I don't understand."
"But - what is there to understand? She's an innocent girl who falls hopelessly for a man who is not her husband. The husband wants vengeance. Surely this is not the first time you have heard of an opera with such a plot!"
"What I don't understand is your attitude!" Her voice was high enough to echoe throughout the entire lair. Erik's posture became even more rigid, but a glimpse of concern crossed his features. He reached for her hand. His tone wasn't icy cold anymore, but gentle instead.
"Christine, please. Is something the matter? Have I done anything to upset you?"
"You are evading! AGAIN!" She shouted with exasperation, taking her hand from his and holding the both sides of her skirts. She carried on. "Why ME to play this character? So different from the parts you usually assigned me! And you write it precisely after we met, after all that confusion with Raoul!"
Erik crossed his arms and resumed his stone-like posture. Green eyes were blazing like hot coal.
"Was this a revenge on me? Was I to be the object of your revenge, of your personal vendetta?"
Erik remained silent. She was beyond furious and couldn't hold the growing fury.
"Because you were jealous?" A hint of malice could be easily heard, she didn't doubt that and made no attempt to conceal it.
AS quickly as ever, he towered her.
"Do not talk about things you do not understand, Christine. Leave it as it is." He breathed in deeply. "I thought these matters were passed between us."
"Then why won't you tell me about it?"
"To tell you what? That I was jealous?" He leaned in closer and grabbed her by the waist, his anger running free. "Is that what you want to hear? That you are not the object of my revenge so much as you are the object of my desire as well as my damnable love?" His voice was acid and the hurt in his words was almost palpable. Christine gulped. "That I was mad with jealousy that the vimconte could have you while I would forever be denied the one thing I have ever so much desired?" Erik trembled. His hands held her impossibly tighter, but did not hurt her. His eyes were moist. She had gone too far, she had never meant to..
"Erik, I d-did not-"
"Did not?" The tone was growing hoarse by the time. "For the past few weeks, you have been torturing me with these questions. I thought you wanted to know." His eyes darkened. "But you should not have done it, Christine." Erik played with one of his loose curls and half-smirked. "You have poked the beast. Certainly you are not so innocent as not to realise that." Christine's mouth had suddenly gone dry. "And I shall tell you more, sweet Christine. My Christine." Erik said her name as if it hurt him to simply pronounce it. "I am not an easy beast to tame. Please, do never address that subject again."
She couldn't help it. "You cannot be serious, Erik!", she contested with a whisper.
"I have every right-"
"To WHAT?" Their faces were but inches from each other. " To remind me of feeling that I, as the beast I am, am not allowed to have? That I am not entitled to the same condition of all other men to feel and deserve desire or love anything, anyone?".
Christine was shocked by the sudden confession. Erik's face was red with anger and his grip on her was as strong as it had ever been.
As if lightning had struck him, Erik stepped back. As he turned his face to avoid her gaze, Christine went towards him and both her hands cupped his face. His eyes widened in surprise and a practically inaudible, desperate whisper followed.
"Christine… Why do you do this to me?" Tears were streaming down his face. He looked so scared. Christine pulled his face closer, stepped on her toes and crushed her lips against his.
Uuuups. I apologise for the cliffhanger, once again :3 Please review!