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"You try my patience. Make your choice." He almost spat at her, his voice raspy and full of hate. It was so unlike her Angel, even after all she'd seen him do. She barely recognised this monster before her who was blackmailing her like this. He was possessive and jealous, this she knew, but never evil towards her. This wasn't who he was. She had to get him back from whatever abyss he'd fallen into. 

"Pitiful creature of darkness. What kind of life have you known? God give me courage to show you, you are not alone!" 

She grabbed his shoulders and pulled him towards her and he went willingly. The fight was leaving him, she realised. He was too tall, so she stood on her tiptoes in a perfect ballet stance and reached his face where her lips touched his. His lips were chilled, but softer than she'd ever expected. She'd meant it to be a chaste kiss, but the spark - the one she'd always felt when they sang and later when they finally met and touched - struck her immediately and she couldn't pull away just yet. She told herself that it was for him. He had to believe that she'd stay with him, so he'd spare Raoul's life. But deep inside the urge to share intimacy had lingered for so long and she finally let it out. 

His lips were tense, actually his whole body seemed tense, but he didn't pull away. A wicked impulse prompted her to nibble at his lips lightly and it seemed to unwind the tension in him. When she ran her tongue over his swollen bottom lip, he parted his lips slightly and she took the opportunity to let her tongue explore his mouth. The action drew a moan from his throat and it spurred her on.

With modest hesitation he began to meet her tongue with his own, creating a sensual dance that filled her stomach with heat. He bit lightly at her upper lip and she gasped at the sublime sensation. He must've gotten the wrong idea of her reaction because he started to pull away. She grabbed the back of his head to stop him and pulled him closer until he held still. She marvelled at the touch of his real hair which was thin, but much softer than the wig he normally wore. She couldn't help but grip it hard when she felt him explore her mouth on his own. This time it was she who moaned and he swallowed it greedily. His hesitance was slipping away and the passion she felt in his music was thrust into their kiss.

She'd kissed Raoul a few times by now, even with tongue, but it'd never felt like this. Her body was coming alive from this kiss, her knees going weak and pleasure pooling in her stomach and much lower. 

She let the hand in his hair gently run over his deformity. He twitched at her touch, briefly pausing in their kiss and drew in a breath before continuing. The grotesque tightly stretched skin felt like smooth leather with a few bumps where his veins surfaced, but she was surprised to feel how warm his skin felt and how little she cared that it was a part of him. She only cared that he had suffered because of it. A soft whimper escaped him and tears from them both dropped and mingled between them. Her other hand travelled lovingly from his shoulder down to his chest where she felt his heart beat rapidly against her hand. She carefully dug her nails into his shirt, like she could reach in and heal the pain in his heart.

She noticed his hands hovering around her as if he was not allowing himself to touch her and she pushed herself further against him, so he had to grab her to steady them both.

***

Erik had never felt another's lips on him before. Not even as a child did he remember his mother kissing him on the forehead or anywhere at all. It was a sensation like no other. Christine's lips were firm, but molded perfectly against his own lips, making it seem like she was made to kiss him. The heat from her warmed him and the warmth spread throughout his body. It was like he was burning from the inside, but not with hell fire as in his dreams. It was more like the fire of the sun, of his sun, Christine. 

To say that he was shocked was an understatement. Even though he'd planned to marry her, he'd never imagined that she would willingly touch him such a way, it had been a hope too dangerous to consider. Now that it was happening, the sensations flooded him and he didn't know how to react. Instead he stood completely still like a statue. A harsh voice, probably his conscience, told him that she only this to save the boy, that it was a kiss of pity. The only time the voice didn't crowd his mind was when music consumed him or he had an anger spell. But suddenly he felt her lips move, toying with his lips several times, killing the voice instantly. Christine's ministrations absorbed it. Her tongue ran over his bottom lip and created a tingle that made him lose his breath. He parted his lips by reflex. A desirous shiver ran through him as Christine swiftly slipped her tongue into his mouth. The intrusion was exquisite and a sound escaped him that he'd never made before. Her movements created a longing in him. He tentatively met her tongue with his own, careful not to do anything she wouldn't want. But she seemed to welcome him, swaying with him in their embrace.

He lost himself in the feel of her, his whole body responding and he felt parts of him react that he was ashamed of. His simple, deplorable lust was disrespectful to her innocence, but despite of it he grew confident. Too confident he discovered as he bit her bottom lip softly which drew a gasp from her. He was quick to pull back, appalled by his behavior, but was stopped by her small hand that promptly held him in place against her lips. She'd liked it. The realisation was extraordinary. She was like a beautiful instrument to be played and he was a willing student.

Her hand at his neck started to drift up through his hair, his real hair. He hated his hair, so thin and weak compared to her beautiful brown curls. But as he felt her fingers run through it he relaxed and a shiver travelled from where her hand went and down his back. Had anyone ever touched his hair before? He ached to touch her hair too and wondered if it would create such a shiver in her. He wanted to make her feel like he felt. He let his tongue enter her mouth, feeling her responding to him as she gripped his hair and moaned. The sound made him lose control and he let go, kissing her with every feeling that tore through his heart and mind. She was everywhere around him, a light in his darkness, a note on the keys of his organ and suddenly he played and music filled him. 

He felt her hand slowly move down to his deformed side and it made him pause at her lips. He knew that she wouldn't hurt him, but no one had ever dared to touch him there. He barely did it himself as he couldn't bear it. As her hand slid over the awful skin he pushed into her lips again, pouring everything she made him feel into their kiss. Tears squeezed their way through his closed eyes and he hoped that she wouldn't notice. She continued her journey over his disgusting scars and he couldn't help but whine, feeling embarrassed by it. It was quickly forgotten when he felt her other hand slide down over his chest, the sensual feeling awakening his body even more and he was worried that he would burst at the sensation. Her hand stopped over his heart and he felt her nails softly through his shirt. If she wondered if his heart was hers, there was never any doubt in his mind. She would always hold it. 

He wanted to touch her like she touched him, but he fought against his body's desires. It wasn't something he was allowed to do. But when she pushed herself hard against him, he had to stop them both from falling backwards, so he caught her arms to steady them both. They gained their balance and he knew he should let her go, but instead he dared to run his crude hands up her arms, then down her swaying back. 

"Get your hands off her, beast!" A voice boomed behind them and echoed through the cave. He instantly backed away from Christine, mortified at what he'd done. 

The Vicomte struggled against his restraints, outraged by the loathsome action that had happened before his very eyes. "Get away from this... that monster, Christine! Let me die, just don't give up your life. It's not too late." A look of disgust marred his youthful features.

Erik dared a glance at the beauty a few feet away from him. She wasn't looking at the Vicomte though, she was looking at him. Her eyes were wide, her plump cheeks blushed and her lips were swollen from their kiss. Her breathing was as fast as his own. He turned his eyes away in shame. She'd shown him true compassion and he'd taken advantage of that. He didn't deserve her and though the Vicomte didn't either, it was her own choice. He had to let her go.

He heard the mob coming for him in the tunnels beneath the Opera and they were getting closer. They screamed for revenge for Piangi and Buquet, looking for the creature hiding in the catacombs. That was what he was. In his desperate search for love he'd ended up a murderer, a monster. He was not a man, just a creature. The half of his face that looked like a man was the real deformity. The horrific side was his true face.

Some of the people in the mob would fall in his traps, ultimately dying because of him. It was an impossible burden to bear, he realised, and he wished then for the mob to kill him. Without her there was no point to his life anyway.

"Go," he said to Christine, at first a whisper to prepare himself for the loss of the only light in his life. She looked confused at him, frozen a few feet from him. It was too close. He turned and louder he urged the boy instead. "Take her, forget me, forget all of this..." He pulled out a dagger and cut the noose around the Vicomte's neck, releasing him. 

He turned to Christine, but didn't dare to meet her eyes. "Leave me alone. Forget all you've seen..." The lump in his throat grew as he felt her eyes on him and he turned away. "Go now, don't let them find you! Take the boat, leave me, forget all of this." He sensed the Vicomte taking Christine away towards the boat, but they weren't fast enough and the mob was nearing. He turned to see what was keeping the lovers from leaving and saw Christine struggle against the Vicomte's grip. She seemed reluctant to leave, but she must. There was nothing for her here. 

"Go now! Go now and leave me!" He desperately waved her away, turning from her before his resolve crumbled. He couldn't bear to see her leave. He heard Christine cry and felt the shame once again because of the distress he'd caused her. He let the dagger drop from his grip. The pain in his chest was unbearable and the lump in his throat had grown to a lasso around his neck. It seemed like a justified way to die considering how many he'd strangled with his own lasso. He felt his music dying slowly inside. He was dying with it, he knew that. He fumbled with the thin cord in his sleeve. The number of times he'd contemplated suicide were impossible to count, but he was too much of a coward. Instead he waited for the mob to come and finally end the misery that was his life. If only someone had done it before he'd started to hurt and murder in the first place.

He barely heard the scrape of steel against stone before a sharp pain pierced his back and continued through his body. He managed to look down and notice the slow reddening of his shirt near his navel before he fell to his knees. The movement caused the steel to slip out of his body again with a sickening noise, telling him that his murderer was still holding the dagger behind him. He let himself roll onto his back, so he could see the boy in the eyes, Erik's own dagger in hand. It surprised him that the Vicomte had it in him, but he couldn't blame him. 

A scream penetrated the sound of his own heavy breathing and he was sad to realise that he almost knew Christine's scream as well as he knew her speaking voice. He'd made her suffer too much. A tingle down his back told him that she was coming nearer. His soul had always been in perfect tune to her and even as he lay dying, he felt the music rising in him, but this time it was a requiem, one last melody. He'd been stabbed a few times before, but this was different. He could feel his very essence pouring out of his body with his blood.

The pain in his abdomen faded when she knelt next to him and touched his shoulder. "No, no, you can't die!" She cried. Why waste more tears on him, he wondered as the salty water dropped down on his bloody shirt.

"Christine," the Vicomte gnarled, "Get away from that monster. We're leaving now!" He threw the dagger into the lake and grabbed Christine's arm to pull her up. She winced and anger filled him at the boy's rough grip, even though he knew that he'd hurt her the same way when he'd taken her to his lair a few hours ago. His actions tonight had been those of a madman and he couldn't blame the Vicomte for acting harshly out of desperation. Christine shouldn't either.

"Why did you stab him?" She cried. "He let us go! We should just have left." She struggled in her lover's grip, trying to reach the wounded creature on the ground.

"He would've come after us. He always has. You think he can't escape the mob? Silly little Lottie." The nickname sounded more like an insult than an endearment. It had always seemed berating to Christine, Erik thought. "He's not going anywhere now. Let's leave." The coldness in the boy's voice was unanticipated.

"Raoul, we can't leave him like this!" She very nearly yelled at him and shook her arm away from him. The sound of a slap resonated through the cave and Christine landed in the pool of Erik's blood, her eyes a sudden river of pain and shock. Erik lightly ran a hand over the red cheek where a small cut from the Vicomte's ring had formed, a growl running through his throat. He tried to get up, but he was incapacitated. There was too much blood and his vision was blackening.

She looked at him softly. "Don't die, Angel." She whispered. "Don't leave me."

"Christine," he nearly sang to her, the last music of his life. "Erik is dying." She stared at him, not understanding what he meant. He realised that he'd never told her his name before. He'd been obsessed with speaking correctly and acting like a sofisticated gentleman - being the Angel of Music she'd wanted. In all that time he'd forgotten to tell her the simplest things. "I am Erik." He rasped.

"Nice to meet you, Erik." She smiled sadly. "I'm Christine." He chuckled, though it may have sounded like the cough of a dying man. Maybe he should've introduced himself properly when they met for real, but he'd never done any proper things anyway. "Erik, please stay awake." 

He swallowed with more effort than he had left. He wanted to make every wish of hers come true, but he couldn't. "Erik has to leave, Angel. But my love for you will never die." She gripped his hand and held it tightly, tears falling in a steady stream. He wanted to close his eyes, but couldn't, not yet. Suddenly her hand was ripped from his and she yelped. 

"I didn't want it to come to this, Little Lottie, but I must save you from his spell. If you won't follow me, I will bring you with me by force." The Vicomte hauled Christine up from the ground, then threw her over his shoulder. She kicked and screamed, but he was stronger than he looked. 

"Put me down, Raoul! He cannot die alone!" But he ignored her and walked towards the boat. Erik wanted to stop him after the boy had hit his Christine, but his body was not strong enough to fight against the killing wound. It seemed appropriate that he died alone as he had lived and finally he let his heavy eyes close. He hoped that the Vicomte would look out for Christine when he couldn't anymore. She deserved the world, a world Erik'd never been able to give her. The Vicomte could do that. Even as Erik heard her scream for him in the distance he felt peace in the fact that no one could keep her away from the light she'd longed for. She would forget the awful monster in the catacombs and soon he'd be no more than a bad memory.

The distant song made him open his eyes one last time.

Angel of Music
I denied you
Turning from true beauty
Angel of music
My protector
Stay by me, strange angel

The words flowed through him, her pained voice finishing his song. A sense of closure filled him and he breathed out one last time as his eyes closed.