Erik watched through the mirror as Christine arranged the roses from tonight's performance in a vase. Her performance had been magnificent, beyond reproach. Even he couldn't find fault with her this evening. He had given her enough time to change out of her costume before making his way to the mirror.
She had taken the part of Cleopatra and made it hers, the likes of which Paris had never seen before. And it was with great satisfaction that he watched as she removed the last of her costume a gold band from around her arm with a red ruby as its eye, a snake. They had done it. Together they had done it. He was about to speak, was about to praise her. He knew that she was waiting for something from him, she always waited for him. Sometimes less patiently than others, but he always knew she would be there. A knock at her dressing room door stopped him. He paused, curious as to who would be calling on her. The employees by now knew she liked to be left alone after her performances.
"Come in," Christine said softly. She still had not gotten used to the fact that the employees of the Opera House were now virtually at her beck and call. She was the star, she was the one the city came to hear perform night after night. It had all come true.
"Mademoiselle Daae," the female voice came. "There is someone in the Green Room who wishes to speak with you."
"I'll be there in a minute, merci," she said softly in response.
Christine frowned slightly and looked at the mirror. She wasn't sure why she looked at the mirror when she thought of her Angel, but to her the mirror was her Angel. There were times it seemed as though she might be able touch him if only the mirror wasn't in the way. She finished arranging the roses, humming softly to herself. She couldn't deny being pleased with the night's performance. She hoped He was as well.
Her Angel had told her before the performance that her father wanted to hear her. She hoped she had succeeded in making his wish come true. She would do whatever her father and her Angel wanted if it meant that He would stay with her. She would never grow tired of the roses or of the applause, but not for the reasons Carlotta loved them. Christine just truly loved to sing. She couldn't help but wonder if without her Angel to guide her whether she would continue to succeed.
She wiped off her hands and glanced once more at the mirror before leaving her dressing room disappointed that her Angel had not come tonight. Had she failed him? Had she not sung loud enough? Had Papa been disappointed? She didn't think that was it, though she couldn't be sure.
She went to the Green Room and was surprised to see a lone man standing in the room. She recognized him even though he stood with his back to her. He was a patron of the Opera, but that wasn't the only reason she recognized him. He was sinfully handsome and just as equally sinfully wealthy. She'd heard gossip about him around the Opera enough to know that his money and looks got him whatever he wanted. One didn't have to wonder whether or not the gossip was true when the man came to the opera each time with a different woman on his arm. She had no idea, however, he had been in attendance this evening. "Comte Lecter," she said with a polite curtsey.
"Mademoiselle Daae," the articulate Comte Lecter turned to face Paris' new diva dressed impeccably in his chosen attire for the evening of a black tuxedo, crisp white shirt, gray waistcoat, and a black and gray cravat. He had an unlit cigar in his hand, the end of which was noticeably chewed upon. "I must commend you on a wonderful performance this evening. I've seen Cleopatra done before and I must say your rendition of the Queen brought tears to my eyes."
He exaggerated a bit here, knowing the young woman probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference. He had meant to come to the Green Room right after the evening's performance and commend her on her performance as he always did after the performances he attended. Tonight, however, he would be sincere in his compliments to the leading lady. The woman he brought with him wanted no part in staying beyond the show. So he had had brought her home and come back. This was not something Lecter would do for just anyone, go out of his way to bestow praise upon them. He had heard tales of this young woman's sudden and inexplicable rise to stardom, however, and wanted to meet her himself.
Christine blushed prettily, the color climbing to her cheeks subtly with appeal. "You flatter me, Comte, and I am pleased to know that you found my performance so emotionally satisfying." That this man was here to pay her a compliment was something for her to ponder. Thoughts of her Angel and his normally welcomed appraisal of her performance were quickly pushed to the back of her mind. She clutched at the handkerchief in her petite hands for lack of anything else to do.
"I see you are ready to leave, perhaps I might offer you a ride to your residence."
Christine's surprise was reflected clearly in her eyes. He was offering to bring her home? Surely she had heard wrong. Men of his standing and title didn't take girls like her anywhere. "I wouldn't want to trouble you, Comte. One of the managers normally sees me home. But I thank you," she smiled prettily.
"I insist. Please. My coach is right outside and you shouldn't have to wait until someone is ready to take you when you're obviously ready to go now."
She was ready, wasn't she, she realized. There was the matter of her Angel. She chewed on her lower lip lightly as she thought over what to do. Surely He wouldn't mind if she accepted a ride home. "I should like that," she finally said.
She took his offered arm, feeling quite like the Queen she portrayed earlier that evening, as she left the Green Room on the arm one of the most sought after gentlemen in Paris. Thought of her Angel and whether or not He was waiting for her were forgotten.
Lecter handed her into his coach, pausing to enter after her to get the directions to her flat and give them to the driver. He sat across from her, his large frame causing his knees to touch hers no matter how hard he tried to avoid the contact. "How long have you been in Paris, Mademoiselle Daae?"
"About six years," she answered politely her eyes focused on her hands which rested in her lap. She raised them briefly to acknowledge his question and lowered them again as she replied.
"And you find Paris to your liking," he inquired, finding himself genuinely curious.
"I do," she said with a genuine smile. "At first I did not," she admitted hesitantly, plucking at a loose string on her gloves. "But now. Well, I'm doing what I love. Doing what my Papa always dreamed of my doing. So I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."
"Your father is no longer here I take it?"
"No," she said solemnly, her mood changing quickly when the subject of her father came up. Except her Angel had said he would be there tonight. Was he? Had she made him proud? She hadn't been able to find out and she was suddenly overcome with the realization that she may never find out if her Angel was upset with her.
He reached for her hands and squeezed them lightly with his own. It was a friendly gesture, meant to comfort her more than anything else, but he found he enjoyed the feel of her tiny, creamy white hands in the warmth of his hand. "I didn't mean to upset you, Mademoiselle."
"No, you didn't, Comte," she forced a smile. "I just miss him, especially on nights like tonight. I just recently came by the coveted position I have at the Opera, so it's still rather new to me."
"I understand, Mademoiselle, but I believe he is with you and knows what you've accomplished. He died some time ago I take it?"
"Yes, when I was fourteen," she admitted.
"Then he would be especially proud of you," he added, realizing the girl seemed to need to hear that.
The coach drew to a stop and Lecter realized they were at her flat. After the driver had opened the door and lowered the steps, Lecter exited the coach and handed her down. He walked her to her door and knew better than to expect someone like her to invite him in. Had it been the other woman, Carlotta, he would have gotten more than an invite in of that he was certain. "I should like to see you again, Mademoiselle."
Christine glanced at him her surprise more than evident. She had heard he wasn't from Paris so perhaps that was the reason for his ability to go against society's rules that dictated she was beneath him. "Comte," she inquired softly.
He laughed lightly. "I thought I had made it rather clear, Mademoiselle Daae. I would like to see you again, socially. Dinner perhaps. Dancing if you know how," he paused briefly giving her the opportunity to reply.
"I'm not very good at it," she admitted. She had failed miserably as a part of Madame Giry's Corps de Ballet. She was surprised she hadn't been fired on more than one occasion. "But dinner," she paused and nodded. "Dinner would be nice," she finally said.
"I understand you have off tomorrow evening. No performance. I can have my driver come for you around five if that's acceptable."
"That would be fine," she said with a slight smile again, a becoming blush creeping to her cheeks.
"I shall leave you then," he bowed politely and kissed her offered hand. "I thank you again for a truly inspiring evening."
"You're welcome," she said automatically and turned finally to open the door to her flat. She closed the door behind her and locked it, smiling slightly as the sound of his footsteps faded as he walked from her door.
Lecter entered his coach, allowing his driver to close the door for him. He pulled the curtain back and glanced out the window at the young lady's flat. No candles had been lit yet to indicate where she might be. He wondered briefly if she had a husband, lover, or intended somewhere. She was an Opera girl, lovers wouldn't be unheard of for most but this one seemed different. He would find out tomorrow night.
Christine stood in front of her mirror smoothing out the skirt of her gown. It was the nicest one she owned, green satin with gold trim and accents. Her maid had since left as the hour grew too late for her to stay, so Christine was stuck waiting alone wondering if le Comte would change his mind about spending an evening with her.
She still had a hard time picturing just how she had gone from not knowing the man beyond his reputation to accepting a dinner invitation from him in less than an hour's time. She took one final look at herself in the mirror and stepped away enjoying the sound of the skirts as she walked across the floor. The bell rang moments later indicating her evening was about to begin.
"Comte Lecter," she said as she opened the door.
Lecter stood on the stoop of her flat and smiled politely as she opened the door. She looked very pretty, even he had to admit that. A little like a girl playing dressup, but pretty nonetheless. "I'm glad to see that you didn't reconsider my offer."
She giggled lightly, covering her mouth as soon as it had escaped wondering where it had come from. "Comte, I don't think a girl would be foolish enough to reconsider a dinner invitation from you."
"So I've heard," he added with a light laugh as he walked with her to his coach and handed her in once more.
They rode in silence to his home, a large stone residence on the outskirts of town. He saw the look of surprise on her face when she realized where they were and was actually pleased that he had not misjudged the girl. He had no intentions on bedding her this evening, and from the look on her face she didn't have any intentions on sharing his bed with him. "I've startled you by bringing you to my home. I took the liberty of cooking dinner for you myself. I didn't think you'd mind."
Christine glanced at the stone structure in front of her. She knew homes like this existed, but never dreamed she'd set foot in one let alone spend the entire evening within one. It was huge. What did one do with all those rooms, she couldn't help but wonder. "No, of course, Comte, I'm sure it will be most enjoyable. And I can go to the Opera tomorrow and brag that I had my meal cooked by the famous Comte Lecter himself. No one will believe me of course and Madame Giry will scold me for telling tales."
"Ah, well, we'll have to send you home then with some proof of the evening won't we? So that your story will be believed."
She blushed, hoping he hadn't taken her statement to mean that. "If it would please you to do so."
He laughed lightly. Could she be as innocent as she tried to make him believe? He was beginning to think so. "We'll see what we can do, Christine. May I call you that? And I would hope that you would address me as Hannibal. Much easier to enjoy dinner without having to worry about formalities such as titles and surnames."
"Thank you. I think that would be all right," Christine offered him a demure smile, her eyes sparkling slightly at the fact he had given her permission to address him by his given name. This was no nobleman she was used to encountering. Most of them were snooty and rather stuck on themselves and the title they held, even if it meant little to nothing.
She followed him into the home and stood in the front foyer, the chandelier in the ceiling above was an impressive fixture. Almost as impressive as the one at the Opera House, she thought softly wondering why thoughts of the Opera brought with it feelings of guilt. "It's lovely," she finally said with a sharp exhale of breath.
"Thank you. I wish I could take credit for it, but I'm afraid I bought it as is. The prior owner left without word apparently so the solicitor was rather pleased to not have to sell the note for the residence at much of a discount."
He led her into the parlor. "Dinner should be ready in a few minutes. Can I get you something to drink? Some tea? A cordial perhaps?"
"Just tea with dinner would be fine," she said as she sat primly on the edge of a settee. "If you have something to tend to in the kitchen I wouldn't mind accompanying you there." She didn't want him to think she was averse to seeing more of his home than the parlor and dining room. He had mentioned cooking the meal, so obviously he spent time in his kitchen. She had no servants herself save her maid who was at her flat to clean more than anything else.
Lecter was a bit surprised, but pleased at her offer. "It's just a matter of transferring the food from pots to dishes. We may as well settle in the dining room then, and I'll get the tea started as I prepare our plates."
She followed him to the dining room and glanced at the beautifully set table. "It's lovely. Thank you," she was sincere in her statement and in her appreciation. That he had gone to so much trouble for her was humbling.
Dinner done, Christine sat and stared at the slowly melting candle that sat before her on the table. "It was a lovely dinner, Comte," she blushed softly, "Hannibal."
"I'm pleased that you liked it," he smiled a twinkle in his eye. She hadn't seemed surprised that he had no cook. He imagined it was because she wasn't used to traveling in his social circles.
In truth, there were times that he had an appetite for things an employed cook would be apt to go to the authorities about. He had been tempted that evening to prepare for her one of his famous meals, but had refrained. So far she had presented to him sincerity in who she was. Should that change, he'd invite her for another sort of meal.
"Would you like to see the rest of the house," he asked. "Or a tour of my garden? I have some roses that I think you might be impressed with."
"The garden sounds very nice," she said sensing the garden was the safer of the two choices. She wasn't sure what he thought of her agreeing to dinner with him as she had, but a tour of the house would eventually lead them to more private areas of the house that she was sure were better left unseen.
Lecter stood and helped her from her chair, brushing off the sleeve of his dark gray suit coat before offering her his arm. He had to try, he hoped she would understand. He found himself wondering with interest just what this girl would be like outside of the realms of society and ladylike expectations.
The garden was lovely, Christine acknowledged as they walked through it. The lampposts had been lit prior to her arrival so the grounds were well illuminated. He was quite a gardener if this was his own doing. "Do you allow yourself to get bored, Hannibal," she asked a hint of teasing in her voice as she stooped, cupped a lily in the palm of her hand and sniffed it.
"No," he replied simply. "I don't allow myself to do that. I keep busy. Of course I have my idle moments, but even then I'm thinking of what to do next."
She stood and smiled at him, a becoming smile. He was very charming, it would be easy to allow herself to be fooled into thinking that he was interested in her. The dinner, the tour of his garden, the polite conversation he offered her all with no hint of anything outside the bounds of propriety despite the fact that they were very much alone here.
Lecter returned her home early in the evening, once the walk through the garden had been completed he saw no further reason to keep her. He could go seek out elsewhere the favors of a different type of woman should he desire that as the night wore on. But she wouldn't give him those type of favors anyway.
"I enjoyed my evening, Christine," he said at her door. "I thank you for joining me for dinner. I hope that you will join me again. Perhaps you will allow me to find out just how poor your dancing skills are and work on them some evening."
She blushed prettily, her eyes daring to look directly at him. "I think I would like that." And she found that she would indeed like that. "I had a nice time as well. If anyone had told me yesterday that I would have enjoyed dinner with you today I would have dismissed them quite abruptly as being daft."
He laughed lightly, his maroon eyes sparkling. She could be quite charming when she wanted to be, he wondered if it was intentional. Whether or not she was even aware of it. He didn't believe she was and that made her even more appealing to him. "Well, I could say the same about you. You're quite a star now, and I imagine that will only get to be even more the case as word of your talent spreads outside of Paris and people swarm to see you. It may not be so easy for a gentleman such as myself to get a last minute dinner with you."
"Oh Comte, you sell yourself short if you think that would be the case. I should think I'd accept your invitation regardless of my popularity." She blushed at speaking so boldly, but it was the truth and she saw no point in trying to hide that from him. She was getting on enough in years that she knew that playing the coy, innocent girl wasn't going to get her married. Especially to someone like this man given her occupation and the fact her mother was a Swede.
He smiled genuinely pleased that she spoke her mind for a change. "I'll take that as a compliment, and hope that in the future your words stay true." He kissed her hand politely and then as an afterthought stepped towards her and kissed her politely on the cheek. "I look forward to seeing you perform again. I hope to catch you as Cleopatra yet once more before the show closes."
"Really," she asked, both flattered and pleased, her cheek still warm from where his lips had briefly been.
"Yes, really. And with that I'll bid you good evening," he bowed his head politely and once she was indoors took his leave.
Christine locked her door and stood with her back against the door part in disbelief that the night had really happened and in part because she was disappointed to see the night end.
"So this is what you do when you're away from me and the Opera," His voice boomed from within her flat. "Deception, Christine, broken promises. Is that what I get in return for giving you exactly as I promised?"
"Angel," she asked, unable to hide her fear or her uncertainty that He was here. He had never come to her outside of the Opera House.
"Who else? Or were you expecting another man to be in your home as the other dropped you off?"
She shook her head, knowing she should be revolted by what he had just said, but fear was all that she felt at the moment. She had upset Him. She had disappointed Him. She hadn't thought about it. She had been so swept up by the fact that Comte Lecter showed a genuine interest in her, Christine Daae, an Opera girl. "No, of course not, Angel."
He stepped towards her, his lean, tall figure cloaked in black from head to toe aside from his white mask emerged from the darkness of the corner where he had waited for her return. "Your Angel is very upset with you, Christine. Who is he? This man who you so easily dismiss me and our work to run off and see?"
"Just a patron of the Opera, Angel. Someone who enjoyed my performance last evening and invited me to join him for dinner."
"I'll bet he did," he said bitterly.
He hadn't thought of this. Hadn't thought ahead to what would happen once the position was hers and hers alone. Of course there would be suitors, proposals, and perhaps marriage. But she was His. There was no room for another man in her life, she had all that she could contend with in Him if she would just let Him into her life as man not angel.
"I have no room in my life for young girls who want to play games, Christine. You either want my help, want your career to proceed and move from here, or you want a social life. You can't have both. I told you when we began it's imperative there are no distractions in your life. The Opera and the Music can be the only things in your life, in your soul. I have no room for you as my pupil if you wish to allow something to infiltrate that."
She bowed her head, tears pricked at her eyes. His words were harsh, and she felt a little uncalled for. But she wasn't an Angel, He was and surely He knew what was best. He was here, had taken the time to appear to her in person when He could have just as easily disappeared from her life without a word for her deception. A pang of guilt tugged at the back of her mind as she realized that she hadn't thought of Him or the Opera much since leaving it the prior evening.
"I understand, Master," she bit back the tears and bowed her head. "It will not happen again."
"You will tell him tomorrow that you cannot see him anymore."
She nodded her head. "Yes, I will." She couldn't stop the tears from flowing freely now.
"This upsets you," he pointed a bony, skeletal like finger at her tear stained cheeks. "There is no room for regret or tears over a man who can do nothing to help your career, Christine."
She nodded her head wordlessly unsure if she could respond at the moment anyway.
"Do you really want love, Christine? Do you want courtship and marriage? With that comes children and the expectation that you are at home tending your husband and children. Do you want that over the Opera? I can give you the World, Christine. I can have it so that people in every city large enough to have an opera house in the world are throwing roses at your feet night after night after night. I can make you one of the most powerful people in the world, Christine. I can do it. No one else can do it. No one else can give you what I can give you. No one else will ever understand your love for music as I do. No one else can ensure your father's dream for you comes true."
The tears dried up as she took in his words, digested them, basked in them. Yes, he could do that, couldn't he? The fact that he was very much in front of her seemingly man not Angel went unnoticed by her. She believed in Him. Believed that He could give her what she wanted, what her Papa wanted. "And I want that, Angel, I do."
But she wanted marriage and children too. Didn't every girl? Surely there was a way to balance both, was there not? She didn't know, and surely her Angel would know for angels were all seeing and all knowing. Omnipotent, they were messengers of God after all. She wasn't sure what type of mother she would make both because she hadn't had one herself that she could remember and because she wasn't sure what kind of mother an Opera star would make.
"Then you must commit yourself to me, my child. The music and me. I will not tolerate our ritual being broken. I will not tolerate another man claiming what is mine. And if I help you obtain your dreams, if I help give you the world and the power that I possess you are mine, Christine."
He loved her, he wasn't sure that he could tell her that but he did. His heart, something he didn't even know he had any longer, constricted when he heard a man's voice outside her door. He recognized the voice, too, Comte Lecter a womanizer who had a penchant for the finer things in life. Christine was definitely one of the finer things in life, he could at least appreciate the man's realization of that fact. But he wasn't good enough for Christine, no one was. Christine was good and pure and innocent, and he needed her to stay that way for she was everything he was not.
He had found over their months together that she had instilled in him the feeling of hope, the acceptance of good and the realization that perhaps life as the Opera Ghost wasn't what he should be doing. If he could take a shy, clumsy dancer and bring out her singing talent in such a short period of time imagine what he could do with her over time and without the mirror as a barrier between them. She was a loving and passionate woman, it was too bad those feelings were suppressed amidst the upbringing that she was to be a lady. But it was clear when she sang that done right that passion could be unleashed in aspects of her life other than singing.
He offered her his hand outstretched and palm up. "You must choose now, Christine."
She bowed her head, her acceptance of his conditions obvious in the gesture. She nodded, she was His, of course she was. How could she think to belong to anyone else? She doubted anyone could truly understand her. But her Angel did, and she had failed Him. She had disappointed Him. She had broken her promise to Him. And yet He stood before her giving her a second chance.
Did she need a big house with a beautiful garden? She would like those things but when all was said and done, she didn't need them. And if what her Angel promised her were true, she would have her own home and garden. Not a home she lived in that belonged to her husband, but hers. She placed her hand in his, taking a step towards him the chill from his hand unnerving but she didn't take it back. Instead she increased her grip on his hand, holding onto it firmer. "I am Yours, Angel," she said simply as if He ever truly doubted her choice.
Her choice was made. The fact that he stood before her as a man, the fact that he wore a mask, the fact that he was able to get into her home were all ignored. Perhaps it was fate that brought Comte Lecter to her last night and tonight. God giving her a glimpse of what she might have either way and making her decide which path she was more set upon taking. "I am Yours," she said again quietly as she looked up to meet his eyes for the first time.
"Completely," he asked.
"Yes, Angel," she replied. "Completely."
"Not completely yet," he replied. "If I said that I wanted your body as well as your mind and your soul would you still choose me?"
"I don't understand," she looked through the mask into his eyes with question. Why would an Angel want her body?
"You do too understand, Christine. I want you completely. All of you. I want you to give yourself to me completely. I am not an Angel, Christine. I am a man and I want you completely as a man wants a woman."
He wanted her as his mistress? She shook her head hoping the shock of his words wasn't apparent to her. "I don't know," she said softly. If she said no would he stop teaching her? Would he move on to someone else? "Might I think on it?"
"You just said you're mine, Christine. Why not complete the deal? Seal your fate. You were meant to be mine. You were meant to be with me."
"It's not right. We're not married," she said softly.
"Who needs marriage, Christine? Who needs a piece of paper telling them what you and I already know? There is no one who can understand you as I do. There is no one who can love you as completely as I do. There is no one who can give you what I can give you." He pressed his hand against her cheek, his voice as he spoke soothing and lyrical.
His hand was cool against her cheek, but his words were almost hypnotizing. How could she resist? Surely he was more than merely a man or he wouldn't be able to do the things he did. Know the things he knew. Sing the way he sung. She bowed her head, a lone tear falling along her cheek and dropping to the floor as she gave into his demand. How could she not? Without him she wouldn't have a career. Carlotta would still be the diva and Christine would be struggling along in the back row of the corps de ballet.
"What do I do," she asked simply unable to look at him, but yet unable to dislodge his hand from her cheek.
How could he tell her he himself didn't know? That he himself a man of his years and experience hadn't experienced the act she had agreed to share with him. He shook his head, dropping his hand from her cheek and wordlessly picked her up with ease carrying her into her bedroom. Setting her down he undressed her with care, his long and agile fingertips making haste with the buttons of her dress and the lacing of her corset. He helped her to lie on the bed, leaving her chemise on as he himself undressed, shedding everything but his mask and his drawers. No need for her to see him naked, not at this point at any rate. He wasn't sure where exactly he rated on the scale of endowment, but he had seen enough to know that God had played another joke on him by making him as well endowed as he was but making him so hideous to look at that no one would ever know.
He moved on top of her, her silence was disheartening but he knew not to expect otherwise. At least not now, not this time. And there would be a next time, he would see to that. His mouth with some difficulty with the mask in place made to kiss her neck and throat as he lifted the hem of her chemise pushing it up along her thigh. His hand cool against her leg caused goose bumps to form on her thighs. A soft groan escaped his lips as his hand came in contact with her naked womanhood, cupping her as his thumb seemingly with a mind of its own stroked her nub. He lifted her chemise away with his other hand, a soft sigh escaping his lips as he noticed that her body was reacting to him as her nipples stood erect.
He took one in his mouth startled when she made a sound and stopping until he felt her back arch thrusting her nipple further into his mouth. He pulled the blanket out from underneath her and then pulled his underwear off as he moved to enter her. He felt her hands at his shoulders, her fingertips clutching him causing him to look at her.
"It hurts," she said softly her eyes wide with fear but there was something else in them too. Oddly she didn't want him to stop. She knew she should tell him no. That she should use the pain he was causing her to get out of this last part of his conditions. But there was something else in her telling her to give into him, to give herself completely to this Angel who was a man. A man whose name she didn't even know.
He took the fact that she didn't bid him to stop as permission to continue. He glanced briefly to where their bodies joined and could imagine why she was experiencing pain. She was so tiny everywhere, he imagined there was no different. And he wasn't so tiny. He tried to be gentle, tried to go slow, tried to give her time to adjust to the size of him as he moved slowly inside of her little by little.
He didn't last long, his inexperience and hers probably didn't bode well for their first joining to last overlong. He lay on top of her his head against her chest listening to her heart beat quickly.
She placed her hand against the top of his head. She should feel guilty for what they had just done. She had committed a sin. But somehow she didn't feel too guilty. She closed her eyes curious as to whether he would be there when she woke up.
"What is your name," she finally asked her eyes closed, her breathing returning to normal.
He was startled by the question, startled by the break of the room's silence and that she had been the one to break it. "Erik," he said simply.
"I am yours now," she said both statement and question behind the words.
"Yes, Christine, and you shall always be that."
"You will sing with me?"
"What," he asked curiously.
"Sing with me. On stage."
"You were meant to enjoy the spotlight alone, Christine. We sing well together, but I am not suited to sing on stage."
"I would like it, though," she said softly. "The two of us together. We'd bring them to their feet night after night."
"We'll do that anyway, Christine. Just with only you on stage and me watching from behind the curtain."
"You always watch, don't you?" It was beginning to dawn on her who this man was, but she wasn't willing to admit it just yet.
"Yes, always. Without fail."
"From your box," she asked, knowing the answer to the question before she asked it.
"From my box," he said simply.
The fact that he was a killer, a man who pretended to be a ghost she knew should bother her. But for some reason at this moment it didn't. She didn't know what his reasons were for hiding in the Opera, for wearing a mask, or for choosing her as his pupil and at the moment she didn't particularly feel like asking.
She sighed heavily her hand dropping from the top of his head to his shoulder. "You'll leave while I sleep," she asked, knowing the answer to this question as well.
"Yes," he said simply though it pained him to say so. "For your reputation as well as the fact I do better traveling the streets of Paris by night."
She nodded simply as her eyes fluttered closed. He was going to guard the Opera House. That's what ghosts did, wasn't it?
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com