The heart of Madame Giry had moved from it’s normal place to her throat for the entire journey to the police and back. She was glad that a few decades at the opera had taught her some acting tricks and praised herself for her excellent performance at the police station.
Once she had returned to the Chagny estate with the police in tow things moved swiftly: Raoul and Christine were questioned, as was Meg. They all backed each other up and the officer, who was leading both the Opera and the Marc case seemed relieved with this apparent swift resolution, as Raoul had predicted. The man wasted no time in arresting Marc and soon the criminal was carried from the house to the police carriage.
Watching the police leave from the parlour window a pale and shaking Christine burst into tears.
“Christine!” Raoul exclaimed, watching the young girls upset.
“I’m sorry.” she sobbed, as the Viscount walked to her and took her into his arms.
“Don’t apologise child.” Madame Giry said, the tension still palpable in her voice. “It’s been a trying day for all of us.”
“It’s not over yet.” Meg muttered.
“What are you talking about?” Raoul asked with worry. What more could there be?!
“Well, someone needs to tell Erik, do they not? We did all this for him, so don’t you think he has the right to know about what happened?”
Christine sniffled against Raoul’s chest, cursing herself for her weakness. Meg and Madame Giry seemed so strong in all of this. On the other hand … they were not the ones who had been attacked and had seen Erik collapse while trying to save her. Wonderful, brave, Erik, who had heard her cries for help in his sleep. Then barely able to stand by himself he had found the strength come to her rescue.
Yes, someone needed to tell him he was a free man now, and that someone was her!
Taking a deep breath she released herself from Raoul’s embrace and wiped her eyes.
“I will tell him,” she said as she walked to the door, “he needs to hear it from me.”
As she ascended the stairs a shiver ran down Christine’s back, remembering the last time she had climbed these stairs. It felt like it had all been a dream, (or rather a nightmare,) now, were it not for the stain on the carpet where the teapot had fallen during her struggle.
She quickly shook herself from the dark thoughts that threatened to overwhelm her as she softly entered Erik’s bedroom.
Erik was still fast asleep, much to Christine’s worry. She hoped the events of that day would not cause him to relapse. Erik had already been exhausted from their brief trip to the garden yesterday, which now seemed like weeks ago, so this could not have happened at a worse time. She decided it would be better to let Erik sleep for now and wait for Doctor Merchant before giving the poor man another shock.
Half an hour later, to Christine’s relief, the doctor arrived.
Christine and Raoul explained the events to him, knowing that the Doctor did have to know the cause of whatever the incident might have done to Erik’s health. To make sense of why they had told the police that Raoul, rather than Erik, had been the one to apprehend the criminal, they explained that the Viscount had taken the credits because they feared that Erik was in no state to bear long police enquiries and media attention. Much to their relief the Doctor agreed with this and swiftly prepared to examine his patient to deduct if there was any damage done.
It took Christine and Doctor Merchant quite a while to wake up Erik so he could be examined. It took even longer to get him anywhere near coherent.
“Erik, are you al-right?” Christine asked softly as she handed him a glass of water.
For a second a confused expression slid over Erik’s sleepy features, he frowned a little, clearly trying to recall the events before his deep sleep. “Should … should I not ask you this?” he asked, shaking his head.
A soft smile forming on her lips Christine set herself on the edge of the bed. “I am well, thanks to you. But I have asked the Doctor to examine you after your collapse, just to see if you are well too. Are you up for this?”
Taking a few sips of water Erik’s groggy mind mulled over Christine’s question. He wasn’t feeling right, he knew, so he would probably be better off letting the Doctor check on him. He would probably never get used to the luxury of a Doctor looking after him, in the past no-one would go near him, even if he was injured and bleeding. He would also never get used to people caring so much about him to even call for a doctor. And Christine being near him like this, full of love and kindness … he would be grateful for this every day. Oh, he loved her so much, his angel. If he thought of her in that room with that … demon …. all he’d known was that he had to save her, his health be damned. The image returned in his mind as clearly as if it were happening again right then: the man holding the terrified Christine’s wrists with such menace, the look of terror in her eyes. What if he had not made it to the door in time? She could have been …
“Erik … Erik ...” he heard from far away. “Erik, what is wrong? Why are you crying? Can you hear me Erik?” Arms were wrapped around him, and once again Erik was sobbing violently against Christine’s shoulder.
“I don’t understand ...” Christine said softly, to the doctor standing behind her. “Why is he crying?”
“Probably shock mademoiselle.” she head the Doctor’s kind voice behind her. “From what you have told me he has been through quite an ordeal, far too much for someone in his condition. I don’t think it has harmed him physically, I worry more about the mental effects of it all. With your permission I will get to work now.”
With a nod Christine moved to get up, but was stopped in her action by two arms wrapped tightly around her and a head pressing urgently against her stomach.
“No … Christine … no leave … stay … stay with Erik ...”
With a helpless shrug Christine looked at the Doctor. “I … I don’t think I can leave just yet.” she sat herself back down and begun stroking Erik’s head. “Erik my dear. I will only be gone for a few moments, so the Doctor can look after you, I promise.” These words made the, clearly panicked, Erik hold her even more insistently.
“But … but someone could hurt you again ...” Erik urged fearfully, trembling in Christine’s arms.
“No, no Raoul is back,” Christine said gently, hoping this would calm him, “don’t worry. Nothing can happen.”
A trembling Erik lifted his head to look at her, the terror in his eyes was palpable.
“Is … is he really back?” he whispered hopefully in a small voice.
“Yes … yes of course.” Christine insisted. She heard and felt a sigh of relief course through Erik’s thin body, but he showed no inclination of letting her go. Knowing something had to happen, as Doctor Merchant obviously couldn’t wait forever, Christine turned slightly to look at the medic standing behind her. “could you call the viscount please sir? Maybe seeing him will help.”
The Doctor nodded and slipped from the room, closing the door. The unexpected sound sending a jolt through Erik and he crept even closer to Christine, his embrace so tight the girl could barely breath. She could feel his body shaking against her own. He seemed utterly terrified and it worried Christine. Before his illness he had never been like this, so obviously scared and vulnerable.
“Erik …?” she asked, “what …?” It took a few seconds before he could speak.
“You … you could have died …” he finally gasped, “Christine ... could have died … would … would have been Erik’s fault!!”
“Oh ...” Christine sighed sadly. She now understood, having collapsed on the scene and only truly waking up just now, Erik was still experiencing the event as if it were mere moments ago. She soothingly stroked his hair again and then begun to gently press tiny butterfly kisses to his forehead.
“It would not have been your fault Erik, of course it wouldn’t. If you had not heard me it would be because you were sleeping. But you did, you hear me, despite everything and you saved me!”
A gentle moan from Erik went right to her heart. “You’re my hero, Erik.” she whispered in his ear.
With that she then pressed a kiss to his lips, extracting a gasp from the man.
“Oh ...” Erik sighed lovingly. “Christine … My Christine.”
Her ministrations seemed to calm him a little, but Christine didn’t want to let go of her broken hero just yet. With his head against her shoulder Christine rocked him gently for a while, while she hummed a soothing melody. Christine wondered why it took so long for the doctor to return, but didn’t mind too much as she wouldn’t have missed this moment with Erik for anything.
“I … I am so sorry Christine.” she heard Erik’s soft voice whisper in her neck after some time.
“Sorry?” The girl asked incredulously. “What do you have to be sorry about? You saved my life!”
“For … for collapsing and not seeing to you, to see if you were all right.”
This broke her heart, when would Erik stop seeing everything as his fault? When would his unnecessary guilt stop torturing him?
“Erik, you are not even supposed to be out of bed. The doctor says you pushed above and beyond just for me. You have nothing to worry about. All you have to do is rest, while I’ll look after you.”
“Very true.” A sudden voice agreed. With a start Christine looked up to see Raoul standing there. Her heart pounded a little, knowing she had not heard him come in. What if he had seen her kiss Erik like that? Erik clearly had not heard him enter either, as the sudden noise had driven him deeper in Christine’s arms again.
The Doctor shared a look of understanding with Raoul and the Viscount moved closer to the pair on the bed and knelt in front of Erik.
“Hello there Erik.” Raoul said kindly, seeing the terrified man huddled in Christine’s arms. “Thank you for what you did today. You are quite the hero.”
Christine raised her eyebrows, why was Raoul talking to Erik as if he were a three year old? Then she realised it was something she had been doing quite a lot too. Not all the time, but looking back over the last few months … Even though Erik had seemed happy most of the time, his bursts of terror and grief had been frequent and the only way to get him out of it had been patience, rest and talking to him in a soothing voice or singing. She hoped Erik wasn’t damaged even more now. With herself still reeling from the events of the day, she wasn’t sure if she bear that.
She knew it was terrible to think this as the man clearly couldn’t help feeling what he felt and her heart broke with pity for him … but … Oh, Christine couldn’t deny it: she missed her old Erik, the strong imposing figure he had been before it had all gone wrong. She missed his singing, his music, the sounds that made her feel as if all the wonders in the world were opened to her. Besides the rare times he corrected her during the stilted singing lessons she still received it was as if Erik didn't even care about music anymore.
She missed his passion, his drive.
She missed her Angel of Music ...
She missed the man the man who had brought her to his house beyond the lake.
She missed ...
Oh no ...!!
She missed ...
Could she truly miss … The Phantom of the Opera?