A shiver passed down my spine, there was something electric in the air, a kind of heaviness that made the hair on my arms stand on end, even as my mind sought the inward quiet Erik had taught me of so long ago. I turned slowly, heading toward my dressing room. I had sung well, I had no doubt of it, their applause still thundering in my head, but I had only one desire. I wanted to hear his voice tell me that I had pleased him. I needed to get away, I needed to be with him again, so he could renew my spirit. I lost so much of myself on the stage, flinging my soul along with my voice to the heavens. I longed for my dressing room, for not even the fragile glass of a mirror to separate us.
Sometimes I hated the way they looked at me, the way they whispered about what they thought had taken place, of how I was the Opera Ghost's willing whore, how I had sold my soul for the ability to sing as I did, that no woman could do what I did and not be in league with some darker force. The rumors were many, and a part of me found them humorous, especially the one's about exactly how my engagement to Raoul had come about and ended. So many rumors, most of them implying my lack of purity, oh that made me want to laugh, I had taken no lover, not the smart and handsome viscount and not my tortured mentor. I was as pure as the newly fallen snow, I blushed hotly, perhaps not so pure as all that, sometimes just the memory of his hands on my body was enough to send my pulse racing and cheeks flushing.
Raoul could not have been my husband, we both knew that after the masquerade ball. I think we knew it for different reasons, but we both knew it. In the end it was simple, his world and mine would never dovetail, never come together nicely, to be a part of his I would have to leave everything I had ever wanted behind. I had stayed willingly in the lair of a deranged fiend for nearly a fortnight in which was not seen or heard from, there were only so many conclusions to be drawn from my actions and all of them meant I would never stand in the Madeline before Raoul and pledge my heart, body and mind to him.
Erik had forced me into a corner, he had taken the choice from me, I could not condemn Raoul to death for simply loving me, any more than I could condemn an innocent bystander who had offered his help in dealing with Erik. Oh he pretended he was offering me a choice, but what kind of choice was it a wedding or a funeral mass, not really a choice if you asked me.
I was angry, livid with him for the first two weeks of our ‘marriage.' He had meant to let me go with the Viscount and the other man who had been locked in his torture chamber, but in the end something changed his mind, perhaps it was the simple fact that I no longer wore the wedding ring he had returned to me all those nights ago. The ring that had stood for the foolish pledge that had been made on the roof of the world by a frightened child.
Erik had forced me into making a choice I had not thought I could make, I had no choice but to face my feelings, my desires, to leave behind my childish fears and stand before him attired as his living, willing bride. Now we lived in an easy arrangement in the daylight I belonged to the world above, when the darkness descended I was like Persephone in some old myth bound to the underworld. It was a darkness from which I had no wish to escape.
I longed for my very own Hades, I longed for his touch, his warming presence, his soothing voice. Sometimes when the lights burned low and the music had finally died away, I longed for the touch of husband. Tonight I meant to ask him to make me his living wife, oh he made me such promises and had reneged on the ones I hadn't the knowledge to demand they be kept. I had betrayed him once in a moment of weakness, allowed boyish charm and my own lingering fear to lead me into the arms of a man who could never understand my soul. Raoul could have protected me from the world, as his wife I would have remained ever the child tending to children of my own one day.
I had always shied away from the fact, from the knowledge that if we were ever to leave this strange between time I would have to be the one to move use past the point of no return. If I wanted to be his wife in truth, I would have to tell him so. I longed for only one pair of eyes, mismatched eyes. Eyes that could reduce me to a babbling fool with their intensity inspire fear, and passion alike. His eyes. Eyes that held endless sadness and limitless love. There were moments when I think I could have torn out his heart and still he would have loved me, bad enough I betrayed him in the worse possible way. Allowed my foolish fear to almost destroy what could have been.
Almost destroyed, I did destroy it, I thought I could walk through the shadows unscathed, that I could enter Erik's dark world, and leave it unchanged. How wrong I was, he changed me, slowly, little things at first, until I didn't know the woman looking back at me. A woman I had become somewhere between the horrific fear and desire that he inspired in word and deed I had grown.
He was here, I could feel him in the air, a promise of passion and kisses yet unshared. His presence was like a physical caress against my skin, skimming over my arms, my breast, leaving my skin afire, my nipples tight at attention. I sighed, shifting, aching and aware of him, it was unfair, unfair that he could do this to me without so much as touching or a word, just the inexorable knowledge that he was near.
Moments like those convinced me that when he finally took from me what he so clearly desired, we would burn like a roman candle, so bright and hot that there might be nothing left when the flames finally died away.
It terrified me even as I hungered for it. My mind would dwell on it, tiny whisperings that warned, and beckoned, calling me closer even as I cowered. His touch left me breathless, sometimes the mere promise of his hands on my skin was enough to make me quiver.
He was so careful of me now, my choice to stay with him had not gained me the lover I craved but a man afraid that if he made the wrong move I would leave him. A man who believed I stayed out of pity or lingering fear. In the beginning I didn't know the words to make him aware of the truth. Now I thought I had an idea.
He was on the other side of the mirror I was almost sure of it. I glanced toward the glass, a small smile forming on my lips. Could I be so brazen, would he realize that the only fear I felt was that he would never again look at me the way he used to? That I would be forced to be forever contented with the memory of his passion. Never tasting again the reality of it.
Erik and Christine and their companions belong firstly to Gaston Leroux, who breathed life into them, and in later years to AL Webber, and numerous others.