After Erik

Paris, 1880, nine years after the events of 'The Phantom of the Opera'. Nine years in which all thoughts of Erik, the angel who'd once haunted her day and night had been cast aside, discarded like a broken doll. Nine years in which poor, sixteen year old Christine had grown up, grown up into a women of high reputation, with a handsome young husband and prospects of a child.

So much can change in nine years.

Yet it only takes a little to be hurled back into the past.

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3. Nine Months Previously

With her new spouse, Raoul, gone away on business, Christine was left alone in their spacious Parisian villa. She had little to do, for their was nothing to entertain herself with - the days were long past when every spare second would be filled practising with her mysterious music tutor, Erik. Now, when she wasn't at the Opera House, she would sit languidly on her chair in front of the mirror - admiring her new jewels, or wistfully dreaming of her Viscomte. It was a lazy life, and at times it became boring. Christine would often compare it to the days of excitement, of the feverish dedication to her art, to her music, then hastily reprimand herself.

Erik had killed people, innocent lives forever gone.

She shouldn't miss a man like that.

And yet she did.

Today though, she was merely extremely tired - Raoul had left in the early hours of morning; Christine naturally awaking to see him off. Now, it was only around nine o'clock, but she didn't want to be so listless any longer. At least sleeping gave her something to do. Slipping on to her silken nightgown, she blew the lantern on her bedside which was keeping her up, and settled down underneath her blankets which seemed just then as comfy as snoozing in the high above clouds.

And then she heard someone knock on her door.

A quick tap, but surprisingly gentle, it startled her back to consciousness - she sat up at once, her back rigid with sudden fear. "Who-" she stopped short. She sounded frail, fragile, and with Raoul away on business there was no one to protect her against thieves, murder and she didn't know what else. "Who is it?" she said again, her voice firmer now.

The only answer which came her way was the creak of the door opening.

"Who's there?" she said again, and she felt sure she could hear a small giggle come from the threshold. Despairing, she took one deep, shuddering breath and whispered (though she did not know why) , "Erik?"

A silence.

"Erik... It isn't you? What are you doing... How did you get here? I... I believed you to be dead..."

No response.

"Oh, who is it?" Christine said, a tremor threatening to shake her voice and reveal how truly terrified she was. It wasn't Erik, of course it wasn't - it was probably some dark creature of the Parisian underworld, come to finish her off with a flick of a shiny sharp blade. And then - a hand on her shoulder. She stiffened, as a man's hand ran through her hair, and he spoke to her, his voice soft and comforting.

Familiar.

"It's Raoul... My little Lotte, don't be afraid."

"Ra-Raoul? Love? But you were gone away on business."

"I came back early for I wasn't needed. It's okay Lotte, it's okay..."

"Your voice sounds different..."

"Because I have a cold," he replied smoothly, before leaning forwards to plant a brief but tender kiss atop her head. "I love you Christine."

And what else they did that night Mme. De Chagney would never be quite brazen enough to admit.

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