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“Christine … I love you …” He whispered, utterly broken.

She hesitated, looked at him. He saw love in her eyes. Was there a part of her that wanted to stay with him? He hesitated too, reaching out as she said these words … to him!

“Say you'll share with me one love one lifetime …”

He wanted to reply, oh how desperately did he want to reply. But he should not, could not and she knew. He could never give her the life she deserved; a normal life filled with comfort and luxury. How could he take sweet Christine on the run with him, in a wedding dress no less? There would be exhaustion, pain, hunger and violence waiting for him during the flight that was ahead of him. He had been there before, so many tortuous times.

Even though his body was old and tired now he was sure he could handle it once more, but it would be no life for her.

No, he had to stay silent and let her go, even though his heart kept breaking and breaking until there was nothing left.

As he crawled closer to his music box Christine ran away sobbing, the sound another dagger in his poor battered heart.

The pain inside of him reached an excruciating level. He had never wanted this, never ever wanted this for any of them. How could it all have gone so very wrong?

If only … If only …

If only that boy had never visited the Opera … He would have never have brought her to his home. Without him he would have been contented to remain her angel forever.

If only she had not ripped off his mask … He would have returned her as promised and … maybe she would have visited him as his pupil. It was all he would have ever dared ask of her.

If only he had not overheard them that night on the rooftop … If he had not heard her tell that boy all. If he had not heard the betrayal of whatever trust they had sealed with a kiss … If he had not heard that she had lied to him all that time … He might have let her leave before all this happened.

Sobbing he stood up and staggered to his throne taking one last look at Christine and her boy slipping away in the boat … his boat … over the lake. Away … far away from  him.

If only … If only …

If only he had not been born like this. If only he had not been told he was evil, not fit to be human from the day he was born. If only he had known how to approach people normally … If only he had been held once in his life … If only he had known any kindness or friendship … If only he had known how to talk to another human being …

Maybe then he would have never lied to her in the first place and he could have had a chance …

One last deep sigh as he wrapped the cloak around him one last sigh and once more he … disappeared.