The next day in the clearing, Erik and Christine sang. They sang to the trees, and to the horses, and to each other. Christine's soul soared along with her voice. She realized that nothing made her happier than singing and having Erik sing with her made it all the sweeter. They made love in the bright afternoon sun, and Christine knew what she wanted, knew what she must do.
That night, the two of them lay in Christine's bed, their naked bodies intertwined. “Erik, what are you going to do in America?” Christine asked hesitantly.
“I don't know,” he said frankly, and Christine thought she detected a small amount of fear in his voice. “I don't think I'll ever be able to abandon the theater, music is as much a part of my soul as you are, but I will need to earn a living.”
“You will teach, Erik. You are a great teacher,” she said, her hand stroking the ruined side of his face. “Please do not hide your gift from the world.”
“I would say the same to you, Mon Coeur,” he replied. “You must sing, it is too much of who you are.”
“Then take me with you,” Christine said, searching his face. “We can sing together, we can teach, we can perform, we can...” Christine dropped off when she saw Erik's face crumble. She saw anger flash in his eyes and he moved to sit on the edge of the bed, his back to her.
She reached out to touch his back and he sighed heavily. “Christine, you have no idea how happy it makes me to hear you ask for such a thing, but I think we both know that is not possible.”
“Of course it is,” she pleaded. “Raoul will have grounds for an annulment, we can...”
“No!” Erik said harshly and turned back to face her.
“I love you, Erik,” Christine said, reaching out for him again. “I want to be with you.”
Tears welled up in Erik's eyes and he let them fall. “Christine, I cannot tell you the joy I feel at those words. But it is too late for us. Don't you understand? I am a wanted man, wanted for a very high profile murder. I will always be looking over my shoulder. And do not forget why I am wanted for murder. I am a monster, a demon, and that rage lives on still. He is quieter when I'm with you, but he is still there and still as evil as ever. I love you too much to condemn you to a life like that. Not when you have a good life here.” Christine started to speak but he held out his hand and stopped her.
“As much as I have tried to forget it, you love Raoul,” he said with a hard tone. “I know you do, I have seen it. And now you are his wife and the Viscountess. The life he can give you is the life you deserve. This is where you belong and this is where you will stay.”
“It's my choice!” Christine said, raising her voice. “It is not your place to choose my life for me!”
Erik continued to hold her gaze, his tears continuing to fall but not softening. “And what about the life of your children?” he said quietly. Christine started at that. “If you go with me, and we have children as I know you wish to, they will live a life on the run with a demon for a father. What if I cannot find good work as a teacher? What if I cannot find good work at all? We will be moving from place to place, town to town, and if I could not provide honestly for you and our family.... who knows what kind of monster I would become.” He looked away from her. “If you stay here, stay true to the promises you made to Raoul, then your children will grow up as nobility. They will be safe and loved and honored. You will be giving them the best life you could.”
Erik got up and wrapped the robe around himself that Christine had provided for him. “I want you more than life itself, Christine. You must know that. But I also want what's best for you, and I think that is for you to remain here. If you are here and well taken care of, I can go in peace. I can uphold my vow to you from afar.” He pulled her to him and kissed her hair. “I am going to go sit by the fire. I will leave you here to consider what I've said.”
“Don't leave,” Christine said through her tears.
“I will not leave, not yet. Come to me when you are ready.”
Christine collapsed back into the bed and wept. It was some time before Christine got up. She put on her dressing gown and adjusted her face in the mirror, then went out to Erik. She found him sitting in an armchair he had pulled close to the fire. His chin rested against his steepled fingers and he looked up when Christine came into the room. She walked over to him and stood before his chair. “If this is goodbye,” she said, dropping the dressing gown from her shoulders, “Then let us make a memory to hold dear until we see each other again.”
Christine bent and opened Erik's robe, pushing it aside. Then she climbed onto the chair and into his lap, one knee on either side of him. Erik pulled Christine against him and kissed her deeply. Christine ground her hips against him, sliding herself against his length. As soon as he was hard, Christine guided him inside of her, sinking down on him slowly. Erik groaned and shifted so he could move against her. They moved slowly, their eyes locked, and grasping to each other for dear life. One of Erik's hands was splayed against the small of Christine's back, pulling her toward him with each thrust, and the other teased one of her nipples, drawing soft gasps from her. When Christine's moans grew more urgent, Erik replaced his hand with his mouth, kissing and softly sucking at her breasts while his hand moved down and found her clit. He rubbed at the soft nub until Christine was crying out. He pulled her tight against him as felt her orgasm clench around him and she shuddered in his arms, her cries buried into his neck.
When Christine had stilled, Erik wrapped an arm tight around her and stood up, picking her up with him. He took her to the bedroom and laid her down on her bed, kissing her over and over. He guided himself back into her and Christine wrapped her legs around him. Erik slid his arms under her and cradled her head with one hand. He moved in her slowly, his entire weight pressing down upon her. Erik kissed every bit of her face he could reach, murmuring and softly singing words of love. At Christine's encouragement, he began to move faster, driving into her harder, but not pulling too far away from her when he did. He wanted to stay as close to her as he could. His body drove deep into her and he could feel Christine building again, hear her moaning. Her cries of lust were a song all their own to his ears. When he could no longer hold back, he thrust into her with abandon, hard swift thrusts pulling small screams from the woman in his arms. Erik buried his face against Christine's neck, pulling her as tightly as he could against him as his hips worked hard and fast against her. Christine shouted and shuddered in his arms and Erik followed her, both of them losing themselves to the waves of pleasure that overtook them.
Erik and Christine held each other long into the night. Singing softly, caressing, touching, and declaring their love. Christine closed her eyes in the wee hours of the morning, wrapped in the warmth of his body, and when she next opened her eyes she could see dawn breaking through her window. She sat up with a start, looking for Erik, but he was gone. She found a note on her dressing table in Erik's flowing, elegant hand along with a small bundle wrapped in black silk.
My Dearest Christine,
Words cannot express the joy I have felt these days and nights in your arms. You have given me a dear gift, and so I leave you with a small one of my own. I painted the miniature in Paris. I carry it's twin with me along with my memories. I hope that you will carry this one with you and it will remind you of me now and again. Although my wish is that you will remember these few happier days we have had together instead of the Darkness of Paris. I will never be able to atone for the pain I caused there, but I will keep my vow to you to battle the demon as hard as I can for the rest of my life.
Live well, My Love. Promise me that you will live a full and happy life in the Light. And sing, you must sing. As surely as a flower wilts without water, you will wither and die if you do not sing, and that I will not accept.
I love you always.
Forever your servant,
Christine unwrapped the small package with shaking hands and found a small miniature portrait in a large locket frame. It was of her and Erik and the detail was exquisite. She was in her costume from Hannibal, a happy glow to her face, her eyes shining with excitement. Erik was slightly behind her with his hand on her waist. He was just as she would always remember him, in his black tuxedo with a white mask covering half of his face. But she could see the look of pride in the uncovered half. The small image of Erik, her teacher and love, was beaming at her in pride. It was beautiful, and she would treasure it for as long as she lived.