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Our Passion Play Has Now At Last Begun

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Christine had not been the Viscountess for long. The five short months as Raoul's wife had been full of happiness and sorrow. Running the large household had been difficult and confusing at first, but she was getting the hang of it. She was happy at the large country estate but she missed Paris terribly. She missed the city and especially her family at the opera.

Raoul had left early that morning for a business trip to London, then he would be visiting a cousin where they would be hunting on the cousin's estate. He had asked Christine to accompany him of course, but she did not feel ready. She did not feel comfortable around the high bred ladies she would have to spend the days with while her husband was otherwise occupied. She knew that she would have to try, but she was not ready yet. So Raoul had agreed to leave her at home, but his aunt would be coming to stay with her. Christine new that she would be getting lessons on how a Viscountess should behave from the stodgy old woman, and she was not looking forward to it.

But she had one free day before the lady arrived tomorrow, so Christine made her way to the stable, planning on staying away from the house as much as possible. Raoul had taken her all over the estate on horseback so she felt comfortable being out alone. The groom protested, but she insisted. The cook had packed a lunch for her so she could be out as long as she liked.

Christine felt that she had had scarce any time alone to process all that happened at the Opera house six months ago. Raoul had wanted her to forget it all, but how could she? She missed being on stage, she missed Meg and the other girls, and she even missed her lessons. Her Angel, her teacher, had been a part of her life for so long, and even though he had hurt her terribly, she even missed him too and longed to know more about who he was. Who was the man he had hidden himself from her for so long?

Christine thought about him often, wondering who he was. At her insistent questions, Raoul had taken Christine back to Paris for a day and she had met with Madame Giry. The two women had cried together over the boy who had been tortured and the man who was now missing. Raoul had thought that answering Christine's curiosity would put a stop to her wondering about her teacher, but it hadn't. Christine had learned to hide it from him.

As she rode out away from the great house, the promise of a warm afternoon was chasing away the morning mist. Christine found joy in running the horse along the established trails through the woods, the trees sheltering her in blur. Her mind cleared as she rode and she soon found herself singing arias in her head. After about an hour, she stopped in a clearing to let her horse drink from a small stream.

She was singing softly to the horse, an aria from the Marriage of Figaro, when a familiar voice joined with hers. Christine spun around quickly, her voice faltering. He was standing at the edge of the clearing, her teacher, her Angel. The man lifted his hand, indicating for Christine to continue. Christine dropped her eyes, knowing she shouldn't. But she had missed this. Missed singing for an audience, missed trying her best to please her teacher. So she straightened her back, lifted her chin and sang out to him.

At the sound of her full voice, the man closed his eyes. Christine saw him sway slightly and grasp a nearby tree. As she sang, she took in his appearance. He was wearing what seemed to be a sharp day suit in tones of muted browns, a thick cloak, and his mask. It was the same shape as the white one she remembered, but it was a rich brown, quite like the saddle she could see on his horse. Christine's voice held the last note and then her voice faded away and left the clearing in silence. She watched him cautiously. She was not afraid of him, she told herself, but her insides were in knots all the same.

The man held his position for a long moment, then opened his eyes. He took the horse's lead in his hand and took two steps toward her then stopped. Christine understood that he was waiting for her permission and she beckoned him forward.

When he had the horse settled, he did not turn around toward her. He stood with his head bowed and his voice was low but clear when he spoke. “I knew that you would not want to see me, but I needed to speak with you. I need to apologize for my... behavior. I am leaving France soon, sailing to America. Before I left the continent for good, I needed you to know that I deeply regret the pain I caused you.”

“You're leaving?” Christine blurted out, her eyes wide. He nodded, and turned slightly, but still did not look at her. But Christine needed to know things, needed to know him. She stepped closer to him. “You are wrong, My Angel. I did want to see you, I wanted to speak with you.”

The man shook his head. “I'm no angel, Christine. You know that now. I am simply a man. A tainted broken one, but a man just like any other.”

“Then what shall I call you?” she asked, moving closer to him again.

The man sighed and straightened. He turned his head more toward her. “My surname is lost to me and I have gone by many. But I would very much like it if you would call me Erik. My name is Erik.”

Christine lifted her hand toward him. “I'm pleased to meet you, Erik.”

Erik chanced looking at her. Christine was still obviously surprised, but he saw no fear in her eyes. Seeing that, he turned toward her fully, taking her hand and bowing low over it. He lifted her gloved fingers to his lips and softly kissed them.

“Why didn't you introduce yourself to me in such a civilized manner the first time? If you had, things might have turned out much differently,” Christine said, pulling him toward some large rocks where they could sit.

“Oh Christine,” she heard Erik sigh behind her. “I have so many regrets.” They sat down on the rocks. “I have been traveling, and being out in the world makes me realize.. “ he dropped off, looking away from her. “I believe that I let myself get carried away by the drama and theater of the opera house.” Erik looked ashamed. “I thought you deserved a grand production instead of a broken old man, and so that is what I gave you.”

“It worked,” Christine said, smiling sadly. “I was certainly swept away. But I would have rather have known you as you really are.” When Erik didn't say anything, she put her hand on his arm. “You were a large part of my life, my teacher, my mentor. I was naive to believe you an angel, I know. But you were apparently happy to play the part. Why?”

Erik gestured to the mask on his face. “My face would have frightened a child. And by the time you were old enough to explain to, your mind was set to me being an angel. I did not know how to introduce myself without breaking your belief in yourself and in me. Then I found myself hopelessly in love with you and...”

“So you put on a show,” she finished for him when his voice failed him. He nodded. “You do me a disservice, Erik. I do not believe I am so shallow as you believe me to be.”

“Believed at the time,” he corrected her. “I know now how wrong I was. I did do you a disservice, not realizing what a strong woman you are. You are magnificent,” he said, reaching out to touch her face, but pulling back his hand before doing so. “I am so sorry, Christine. For everything. I just needed you to know that before I go. It appears as if the Viscount is taking good care of you, so now I feel I can go in peace.”

Erik stood and started to move toward the horses when Christine grabbed his hand and said “Wait.” She looked around the clearing, as if searching for something. “Why don't you share my lunch with me? I have more than enough.”

Erik looked back at her. “You wish me to stay?” Christine nodded in response. Erik looked at her in astonishment. He had been expecting vitriol, anger, or hate from her. She had surprised him again. “Then yes, I will share your lunch with you.”

They spread a blanket on the ground in the shade and sat out the food. Christine asked Erik to tell her about his travels and he did so as they ate. She watched him carefully, trying to take in every detail. She had seen of course what was under his mask, but she looked around the edges, noticing how the small pulls and areas of swelling just hinted at what was behind. The wig he wore was very fine and hid a great deal of the destruction she knew was beneath. His suit was well made, but a bit worn around the edges. With her theater trained eye, she could tell that the wear and tear on the suit was deliberate. His mask was obviously made with saddle leather and was a bit rougher than the white one she had met him in. She realized as he spoke that he had been trying to fit in. The fine white mask and expensive clothes would have been just as alarming to most normal folk as his bare face.

“No matter where you go, you will always find small minded people,” Erik was saying. “But on the whole, I'm finding that humans are a bit more accepting than I thought they were.”

“Madame Giry told me of your childhood, Erik,” Christine said. “You deserve to find some kindness in the world.”

“As an adult, one must be kind in order to deserve kindness,” he said. “I did not know how to be kind at all, and when I left the opera house, things did not always go well,” Erik said with pain in his eyes. “But eventually I found myself in Alsace where I met an old couple who had a room for rent. I stayed with them for a time and I learned a great deal from them. They, along with my memories of you, taught me how one should behave with others. I learned patience, and kindness, and many things I had never experienced before.”

“I am grateful to them,” Christine said with sincerity. “I can see that there is a change in you.” Christine paused. She did not want to anger him, but she had to know. “Erik, you did unforgivable things...”

“Yes I did,” he said flatly and turning his eyes away from her. “You must know I would never hurt you, but you are correct. I am, and will always be, a monster.”

“I know that you would never hurt me,” Christine answered, “But I also know you are more than the monster you believe you are.” Erik shook his head, but did not argue with her and she continued. “I think I need to hear more, I need to understand.” She looked at the sky. They had been sitting there for quite a while. “I must be going now, they will be wondering where I am.” She saw sadness in his eyes and she gently laid her hand on his. “But I ask you to join me for dinner tonight. I suspect you can find your way into the house,” Christine said, with a confident air. At Erik's puzzled look she said, “Do not think me so naive that I would believe you just showed up on the same day my husband left on a long trip by happenstance.” Erik did not speak so she continued. “I will ask for dinner in my suite tonight. I will explain that I do not want to come down to the dining room and eat in that large room all alone. I suspect the servants will be happy to not have to serve a formal dinner. The cook always makes too much food so there will be enough for two. My rooms are in the Southwest corner of the house, on the second floor. Come at Seven.”

“Are you certain, Christine?” Erik asked, standing, and looking down into her eyes.

“Yes.” she said simply and lifted her hand to him so he could help her to her feet. Erik nodded once and bowed deeply again. He helped Christine pack up the meal and when he helped her onto her horse, his hands lingered on hers. She squeezed gently and then he watched her ride away.

Chapter Text

“You may retire for the evening, Francois,” Christine said through the open door between her sitting room and her bedroom.  “Please leave the tray and pick it up in the morning after I wake.”

“Oui, Madame,” Francois said, sitting the covered tray on the small table in the corner of the sitting room.  The man bowed slightly and left the room.  Christine looked back at herself in the mirror.  She had chosen a sumptuous dressing gown of green silk with roses embroidered in gold silk thread around the neck.  It was modest enough to be seen in and beautiful enough to make her feel dressed up without arousing suspicion.

She was just closing the door to her bedroom when she heard the soft knock.   She quickly went to the door of the sitting room and let Erik in, looking out into the hallway to see if anyone had seen him. “Don’t worry,” Erik said, removing his heavy cape as he brushed past her into the room, “I’ve had years of practice staying out of sight.” 

Christine closed the door and turned to him.  He was standing in the middle of the small room in his black evening clothes.  This was the way she remembered him, in his black tuxedo with his white mask covering the ruined half of his face.  He was, dare she say, quite handsome and elegant in the suit. He inclined his head to her and she dipped her head in return. She took his cape from him and waved him toward the chairs flanking the table in the corner. “Please sit down,” she said, as she draped his cape across a chair.  “Are you hungry?”

Erik said nothing as he watched her moving around the room.  She thought he looked as if he couldn’t quite believe that she was real. She went to the table and poured them both a glass of wine.  Maybe that would relax him, she thought, and perhaps relax her as well.  There is no way she could eat now with her stomach full of butterflies.
Erik drank from his glass and sat it back down again.  He took a deep breath and met her eyes.  “Christine, you should not invite strange men into your chambers alone at night.  It isn’t safe.”

“You are not a stranger,” she said, but Erik cut her off before she could continue. “You may think you know me, but you do not. I am not safe.  I am a dangerous man.”  He looked cold and remote but he held her eyes.  “You wanted to speak to me about the unforgivable things I’ve done.  I’ve done many.  But I did feel I owed you as much explanation as I could give you.” He stopped and looked at her. He looked as if he was waging a war inside of himself. “For as long as I can remember there has been a demon inside of me.  A demon of rage and hate.  I battle him every day.”

Christine reached out and grasped his hands in hers.  “But Erik, it’s no wonder where that came from.  You were treated cruelly…”

Erik pulled his hands away and quickly got up from the table.  He stood looking into the fireplace, the flames throwing dancing light and shadows across his face.  “You don’t understand,” he said in a low, hard voice.  “From the moment I saw you earlier today, the voice of the demon has been torturing me.  Kill her husband, it says.  Kill the prideful boy and Christine will be yours.  She will be a wealthy widow and you could have her.” His voice grew lower and angrier. “Kill him. What better time that now while he is traveling? Accidents happen all the time, it would be so easy. Kill him.”

Christine gasped and stood. “I will not kill your husband,” Erik said turning to face her. Christine could see the tears in his eyes. “I fight the demon. He is strong, and it is so very difficult,” Erik said sadly. “He is very seductive. In the past, I have let him win. I let him seduce me into.. well, I would have done anything for you. The demon in me made it was too easy to do terrible things.” Erik straightened and blinked the tears away. “But I see now there is someone more I could be. I fight the devil to be the kind of man you would deserve. We may never see each other again, but I will live whatever life I have, knowing that I tried to be someone you would be proud of.”

Christine walked toward Erik slowly, tears streaming down her face. Her heart broke for him. He was so tortured, so broken. He thought himself the devil. But she knew there was more to him. The man had taught her for years and she had seen enough of him to think him an angel, not a devil. She reached for him and wound her arms around him, pulling him close to her. She buried her face into his chest and hugged him. Erik stiffened but when Christine did not let him go, he slowly put his arms around her. They cried silently in each others arms.

“I take full responsibility for my actions, Christine,” he said into her hair. “I chose to go down the dark path that my twisted soul beckoned me toward.” He shifted and put a hand on either side of her face, tipping her head back so he could look at her. “But you have shown me a different path, a different way. I will love you always and I vow to you now that I will strive every day to be the man you would want me to be. ”

Christine reached up and touched his face. Her fingers sliding down his cheek. “Let me see you, Erik. Let me see who you are,” she said as she gently removed his mask. She pulled him down with her to sit before the fire. She slowly explored his face with her fingers and her eyes. His skin was red and swollen in places and and white and pulled in others. It looked scarred and inflamed and it made her sad. She knew he had been taught it was the outward sign of the demon inside of him, but she knew better. She knew he had once been a tiny innocent baby, marked for no reason other than that was the way God had made him. His ear was not whole, the corner of his mouth was swollen and misshapen, and his eye did not sit right in its socket. It was not pretty and she wanted to avert her eyes, but she did not. She explored his face and even though it was ugly and tortured, there was no fear in her, no pity either. The longer she explored him, the more she found that this was simply the man that had taught her so much, who had trained her voice into a glorious instrument, and who wanted nothing more than to be someone she would be proud of.

She could see every emotion Erik felt on his face. He was ashamed when she first touched his deformity, but then he watched her with wonder and she could see the love he had for her in the way his eyes softened and explored her. Christine's chest squeezed with emotion and she felt a yearning for him. She leaned forward and kissed him gently. Erik made a small sound, almost like a whimper as her lips parted from his. Christine smiled a small smile, put her hands on both sides of his face and kissed him again, a bit harder this time. He responded to her, kissing her back and slowly moving his arms around her waist.

Christine twined her arms around his neck and pulled him closer as she deepened the kiss. She opened her mouth and when he responded in kind she darted her tongue inside of his mouth. Erik groaned and squeezed her tighter against him, her soft body molding against his hard one. His hands spread across her small back, the silk sliding under his hands as he kissed her. When they parted, Eric pressed his forehead to hers and closed his eyes. “How, Christine, how can you....”

“Erik, stop talking,” Christine answered. “Kiss me again.” He did not hesitate and pushed his lips against hers again. As Erik explored kissing her, Christine's hands worked to undo the tie at his throat and pulled it away. She opened his collar and let her hand touch his skin and she heard Erik moan softly. Christine pulled back to look at him. His eyes were filled with wonder and lust and Christine felt the same. She slid her hands down across his chest and pushed at his jacket. He let his arms drop and Christine pushed it off of him. Then she undid the buttons of his waistcoat and pushed that off his shoulders. When she started on the buttons of his crisp shirt he took her hands in his and stopped her.

“What are you doing?” he asked, his voice hoarse.

“What I want,” Christine said. “Do you want me to stop?” Erik swallowed hard and shook his head. Christine smiled at him, a bit shyly, but also a bit wickedly, and began on the buttons again. Erik watched her, seeing the flush in her cheeks and her labored breathing and the small buds of her nipples against the silk of her gown.

“You are so beautiful,” he whispered to her and reached out to touch a tendril of hair that had fallen across her cheek. Christine lowered her eyes but then turned her face toward his hand and kissed his palm. She looked back to him and watched her own hands spread across his chest and open his shirt. His skin was pale and the hair on his chest was sandy, sprinkled here and there with grey. Not at all the harsh black of the wig he wore. Christine bent and kissed his neck and heard Erik's sharp intake of breath. She trailed her mouth across his throat and his collarbone, kissing and touching him.

When she moved her mouth back to his, he pulled her very tightly against him and kissed her hungrily. Christine pulled him down with her to the rug, settling his weight over her. She ran her hands under the shirt and across his strong back as he explored kissing her mouth, and her face, and her neck. This time it was Christine's turn to moan in delight as he tasted the skin of her throat. “You are a quick study,” she said, arching her back and moving her leg against his.

“Always,” he said close to her ear, “especially when the subject is as exciting as you are.” Christine moved her hands down his back to cup his arse. She pulled him sharply against her so she could feel his erection pressing against her thigh. She moaned and pulled him against her again and Erik groaned helplessly.

Christine wrapped herself around him, pulling him down into a deep kiss again. Then she rolled him on to his back and shifted slightly so she could touch him. She moved her hand down across his chest and lightly trailed her fingertips across his stomach. She watched as the taut muscles jerked under her touch and heard Erik breathing heavily. Her fingers danced down past his waist and across his erection that was evident through his trousers. Then she touched him more deliberately and squeezed him gently. Erik involuntarily shifted his hips up toward her and grasped at her roughly. Christine had grown up in an opera house, surrounded by women in the theater. She had paid attention when the girls had talked about eager young men and what they wanted. And since marriage, she had been able to try a few of things she had heard about. Maybe she was a bit overconfident for her limited experience, but she felt that she knew exactly what she wanted to do.

She sat back and quickly unbuttoned his trousers. She released his erection and stroked him lightly with her fingers. Erik's eyes went wide with shock, but soon closed and his head lolled back against the rug as she moved her hand up and down his length. Erik's breathing sped up and his hands grasped at her, needing to touch her. He moaned as Christine touched him and his hips rocked up against her. Christine laid back down next to him, her hand not stopping and pulled his good earlobe into her mouth.

Erik soon realized what was going to happen, and it was going to happen very soon. He tried to grab at her arm, “Christine no, you must stop. Please..”

Christine leaned closer to him and whispered in his ear, “No Erik, I want you to. It's okay to let go.” And then she sang to him, softly, “You're past the point of no return.” Erik pulled her hard against him. He buried his face in her hair and squeezed her tightly as he came into her hand. Christine was gentle and softly moved her hand until his convulsions stopped.

When his breathing had returned to something closer to normal, he released her. Christine kissed him then took a handkerchief from the pocket of her dressing gown and cleaned them both up. She bent over him and kissed his stomach, trailing her mouth up toward her chest. “You are trying to kill me,” Erik said, his voice labored, but a small smile crossing his face. “That felt.... I felt as if I was going to die.” He raised his head up to look at her. “You just tried to kill me so you can be rid of me, didn't you? Was this really the easiest way? You could have just shot me and been done with it, although I don't think I would have enjoyed it quite as much.”

Christine looked up at him laughed. “Did the big bad Phantom of the Opera just make a joke?” she teased.

Erik looked at her in mock anger but then he laughed also. A rich, full laugh shook him and Christine saw him smile genuinely and happily for what she thought must be the first time ever. Mirth danced in his eyes as he sat up and pulled her into his lap. “Now really, My Deadly Siren,” he said, caressing her face, “Why would you....” Then his face darkened. “Of course, if you do you not want me to touch you in return......”

“Stop that.” she said, putting her hands on either side of his face roughly. “Stop that right now. I did that because I wanted to please you. But also so that now you and I may take our time in exploring each other.”

Erik understood instantly. Apparently, Christine understood things about his body that maybe he did not. He saw her in a whole new light, and the new woman in front of him was even more appealing that the previous one had been. “Teach me,” he said softly, looking into her eyes. Christine kissed him in response.

That night, in Christine's bed chamber, they indeed took their time and Erik was indeed a quick study. It was late into the night before they ate the dinner that has waited for them. It was cold, but they were ravenous and ate every morsel. They made love until the wee hours of the morning, until Erik knew he must go.

“I have to go before the house wakes up, My Love,” he said to her as he slipped out of bed. Christine nodded and got out of bed also. She watched him dress and marveled at the elegance of each movement. The man was beautiful, but she would never be able to convince him of it.

“I had a messenger from Raoul's aunt late this afternoon,” she said, fiddling with the belt of her dressing gown. “She has been delayed a day in coming here so I will be alone again tomorrow. I would very much like it if you would join me for a late luncheon again.” Erik turned to look at her and stopped his automatic reply before it left his lips. He had learned over the course of the night not to question Christine's requests, no matter how much he didn't believe them to be true. “I'll meet you in the clearing again,” she said, crossing the room to him, “Please come.”

“It would be my honor and pleasure,” Erik said, bowing elegantly to her. They walked to the door together and Erik looked out and down the silent hallway. He turned back to Christine and kissed her quickly. “I love you, Christine,” he said then silently fled down the hallway.

Christine shut the door behind him and said, “I love you, too.”

Chapter Text

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,
Erik

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.