So I don't know how many people are willing to read RC, but I had to get this out of my system haha. I'm also sorry for how cheesy this is. I can't seem to think of RC without cheese.
Feel free to ignore my biased rant here. I ship RC with a fiery passion, but I don't care much for the pairing, if that makes any sense. This fic is just to add to the RC archive, and also to calm my nerves whenever I think about it. I can't stand stories where the de Chagny family is perfect and love Christine because they're just that perfect.
No. I'm sorry. That's not how the average aristocrat acts. And even if they were all good people, some prejudices are just impossible to overcome even if they don't show it. No way in hell would every de Chagny be proud of Raoul. This fic is just to explore that point. RC isn't fluff all the time, but it's darn cute, isn't it?
Disclaimer: I don't own POTO.
Phillipe sipped his wine, regarding Raoul with a friendly gaze. The dinner party was coming to an end, and the younger man would soon be leaving his aunt's elegant estate with his wife. The comtesse de Charleux had been an eloquent, graceful host, as Raoul had always knew her to be. It had been such a long time since he enjoyed as simple a thing as a social gathering.
The horrid events of the past year felt like a distant nightmare in comparison with the bliss he now shared, surrounded by his family, friends, and loving wife. Their kind words and congratulations were a delight to receive.
And yet he felt something was amiss at the gathering, even when Christine had been invited to sing, even when his fencing partner had tried an awkward hand at the piano, even when the ladies had taken his little lotte under their wing.
"Something troubling you, brother?" the comte asked, brushing a lock of clean golden hair out of his noble eyes.
"Christine did not seem very comfortable tonight."
"I wouldn't be either, if I were in her shoes."
That vexed Raoul. What did his brother mean? Had someone offended her?
"Don't tell me you would be if you were her!" Phillipe gave a hearty laugh, setting his glass on the tray of a passing servant.
Raoul scanned the crowd. The ladies were out of earshot, chatting amongst themselves, and the various guests were scattered about the ballroom, finishing the last bits of food and taking drinks in turn. Some were louder than others. The sound of the musicians was dim in the background.
"Phillipe, what do you mean?"
Raoul knew what he meant.
"Come now, brother. A country girl like her does not belong here. The only reason I tolerate this marriage is because she makes you happy."
Phillipe sighed, genuinely grieving. Raoul could see the drunken flare in his cheeks.
"Is that what you all think of her?"
Raoul had suspected his family did not warm up to Christine. But he had expected them to come to love her for the wonderful girl she was- surely they were not so blinded by prejudice.
"Your aunt had a fit before your wedding, remember?"
"I do. But Phillipe, she is so much more than just a singer. Christine is a light in the dark, an angel, a-"
"A rude peasant from the Swedish countryside. Her father a violinist. A right stupid girl." Phillipe laughed, tilting his head slightly. "Who consorts with phantoms and angels."
Raoul's face darkened. Phillipe was speaking loosely in his intoxication. But those were the words of truth from his brother. And suddenly everything came clear. The aristocrats had been scrutinizing Christine from the day she walked in.
He felt vulnerable and alone in that room. The faces around him, who had pampered him and raised him, provided him with friendship and countless joys. These very faces who he loved dearly and knew loved him dearly, who he knew to be kind. These were the very people who refused to see past Christine's upbringing, to see past her victimization, to see her as anything but a walking scandal and source of shame.
The world showed no compassion to me! The words rung in his head for the first time in a very long time.
Perhaps for the first time, Raoul opened his eyes. He lived in a shallow world filled with shallow people. People with no desire to change.
His beloved Phillipe was the same. His admired uncles. His darling aunt. His loved friends. They were almost barbaric in their disdain. His heart ached because he knew nothing would change their mindsets.
Several of them would not flinch as they gave out alms. But if a nobleman should take a peasant as his wife, there would be outrage and gossip of the worst kind. Raoul dared not imagine what they said about he and Christine.
He saw them as hypocrites, arrogant and narrow. He was not in the opera house any longer. The masks had come off and the theatrics were gone. This was reality thrust in his face.
Raoul found Christine sitting by the crafted fountain in the large garden. Passing the blooming roses, he stood behind her, observing the melancholy in her dark eyes and the protective way she clung to her shawl. In the moonlight, she was stunning.
"As an entertainer, I would not mind staring at her all day. As a wife, I doubt I could handle her!" his dear companion, Marc-Andre, had laughed, oblivious to Raoul's lingering form in the back.
Raoul felt a lump in his throat. He had promised her freedom, happiness, and in the end, he had brought her pain of a different sort, one she may not never have felt had she never left the Populaire.
She looked at him, mildly startled. "Oh! Raoul, did I worry you?"
"It doesn't matter now."
He sat beside her, effortlessly taking her pale hand in his own.
"Why did you leave?"
"They hate me, Raoul."
"No. They simply do not know you-"
"And they will never know me, Raoul."
He was silent.
"I'm sorry, my dear. I know how much you care for them."
"They have no right to treat you so."
She smiled sadly. "But they do." It was true.
"Christine, what did they say to you? Aunt Lisette and the rest?"
"Critique. I was not tending to you properly, I should not have dressed this way, I am not fashionable, I will never learn, I-"
Feeling the tension in his heart build, Raoul silenced her with a finger to her lips, staring at her with a heart-broken gaze.
"And you never told me?"
"No. I didn't want to trouble you."
"I truly am an insolent boy." Raoul forced a laugh. "To think that I could be your savior when I was nothing more than a selfish boy!"
He placed his hands on her shoulders and met her gaze. "Christine, if you no longer want to stay here, we can leave. If you... don't want to stay with me, you have only to say so- we can avoid scandal, I'll find ways to offer you solace. I cannot bear to see you suffer for me." His lips trembled. "Again. Please, no more sacrificing for me."
Even then, his thoughts turned back to the man in the cellars. Yes, that man trusted him with her. Had he taken her from one prison only to put her in another? He owed it to all three of them to set her free once more.
"But Raoul, I am not suffering."
"Christine, tell me the truth-"
"Really. Their scorn I can tolerate. It's a small price to pay for our life together."
"I did not choose you because I had no choice, Raoul! I did not marry you for money or because I was afraid!"
She leaned against him.
"I love you, Raoul. Never doubt that I am happy because we are together."
Her lips fell on his, as light as the first bout of winter snow.
"You are nothing like your family, Raoul de Chagny."
"And you are nothing like what they say you are, Christine."
He smiled at her, eyes filled with adoration. It was mirrored in hers. The world may have suddenly become as hollow as it was shallow, but he had her in it, and that alone was enough to warm the light of day.
"One love, one lifetime," he said.
"Many lifetimes," she corrected.
For the rest of the night, they stayed by the fountain, listening to the sound of gushing water and distant music. Nothing more needed to be said.
Hope that was up to standards and for all you RC shippers/Raoul fans out there, this is gifted to you!
Feel free to review. Those are always welcome!