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I. father once spoke of an angel

The moment that Christine Daaé saw the boy in the cage, beaten and mocked for the “crime” of having a facial deformity, she knew that she had to free him.

So, while Meg distracted her mother and the keeper of the Devil’s Child, Christine stole the keys to the boy’s cage. But as she stepped inside the tent, she heard the most beautiful singing voice coming from the cage. He sounded like an Angel.

The Angel of Music.

Christine stepped closer. The boy turned suddenly at the sound.

“No! Don’t look at me!” He covered his face and scrambled towards the back of the cage, before curling up into a ball and crying.

Christine unlocked the cage and stepped inside. She knelt down next to the boy and started to sing. “Dear little Angel of Music. What kind of life have you known?

As she sang, the boy stopped shaking and crying. He slowly uncurled so that he was looking up at her, but he kept one hand over his deformity.

Christine kept going. “God give me courage to show you, you are not alone.”

She held out her hand.

And after a moment of hesitation, the boy took it.

---

II. too long you’ve wandered in winter

“My name is Christine Daaé. And this is my friend, Meg Giry. What’s your name?”

The boy, his face covered with a white mask he’d found, stopped looking through the costume pile and turned to stare at her for a long moment. Christine wondered if she was the first person to ever ask for his name.

“Erik,” he replied. “I think.”

Christine and Meg exchanged a glance, before in silent agreement they both stepped forwards and wrapped their arms around him. From how he reacted, it was undoubtedly his first hug. He tensed up and stayed that way for longer than was natural, before he very slowly began to relax and he wrapped his arms around them in return.

“We have to go now,” said Christine. “But we’ll come back. You’ll never be alone again. I promise you, Erik.”

Erik stared at her, speechless.

Meg pointed at the music box she’d won at the fair, which she’d placed onto a nearby table. “You can have Monsieur Monkey. He can keep you company when we’re not here.” She turned the handle in order for the music to play. The monkey started banging its cymbals together.

Erik smiled, mimicking the monkey’s movements.

---

III. so lost, so helpless

Christine and Meg were tip-toeing away from the kitchen when they heard the familiar sound of a familiar stick striking the ground. The two girls froze and slowly turned around.

Madame Giry was standing down the hallway, watching them.

Meg was first to speak. “I can explain, Mama.” Only, there was never an excuse for stealing extra portions of food, especially since the city was still recovering from the Prussian siege.

“There is no need,” said her mother. “I know you are hiding the boy who escaped from the fair.”

Protectiveness flared up in Christine. “You can’t send him back! I won’t let you.”

“I have no intention of sending him back to that fair,” said Madame Giry. “Children don’t belong in cages.”

The two girls looked at each other in surprise.

“I will set aside a portion of food for him so neither of you have to steal it,” she continued. “Also, I have reading material for him and paper, so that you can teach him to read and write. I imagine he received no such lessons from his time in the fair.”

Relief washed over Christine. With an adult in the know, hiding Erik would be much easier.

---

IV. darkness stirs and wakes imagination

“Un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sept, huit, neuf.” Christine hit the keys of the piano as she counted. She then turned to Erik, who was sat on the stool beside her. “Now you.”

Erik examined the old piano before hitting the exact same keys. “Un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sept, huit, neuf.” He smiled, then hit the same keys again without counting.

Christine looked over her shoulder to make sure no one had come running and turned back to Erik. “You can press the other keys, if you like.”

He did, pressing each individual key many times over, listening carefully every time. It was as if he was memorizing the sounds.

“I only know one song,” said Christine. She was more of a dancer and a singer rather than a musician, so had only ever learned chopsticks, which she demonstrated for him.

Erik watched her movements closely. Then, when she was done, he copied her without even needing to practise. “Like this?”

“Yes.” Christine was amazed.

She was then even more amazed when, after experimenting with the keys for a few minutes, Erik played a perfect tune.

“I hear music in my head,” was all he told her.

---

V. let her mind wander

Christine had many questions. Like: where did Erik find a boat? But her most pressing question was: how was he going to fit everything into the aforementioned boat?

“You should just make two trips,” she told him, after she finished loading all of the candles.

“But then it will just take longer,” Meg complained. She was posing at the front of the boat, ready to go. “Now, onwards!”

“Not yet.” Erik was looking between the boat and the disassembled parts of an old organ he’d collected. He was debating whether or not to risk loading it, too.

“Remind me again why you decided to go and live on an island in the middle of an underground lake?” Christine asked.

“No one can get to me there,” Erik replied.

“The water isn’t even that deep. People can walk through it.”

“But will they want to?”

“Christine has a point,” said Meg. “It’s dark, it’s wet, and it smells.”

“What do you think the candles are for?”

“And how are we supposed to get down here if we want to come and visit you?” Christine asked.

Erik frowned. He clearly hadn’t thought of that.

“You’re a genius, Erik. But also, an idiot.”

---

VI. hide your face so the world will never find you

Meg wound up the music box again before she continued prancing around in her monkey costume. “I can’t wait until we’re old enough to go to our first masquerade ball!”

“I don’t mind having our own down here,” said Christine, dressed as a cat. “Because then Erik can join in.” She smiled at him.

He smiled back under his wolf mask.

“But that’s just it,” said Meg. “Since everyone has to wear a mask, he can come, too.”

For a moment, Erik was taken with the prospect of attending his first ever ball. But then he thought about all the people surrounding him, how he wouldn’t be able to escape, and shook his head. “I’d prefer to stay down here out the way. What if my mask fell off?”

In that moment, it did just that. It had been borrowed from the costume room, and was perhaps a bit big for him. He gasped and slapped his hand over the disfigured half of his face.

Christine stepped towards him and stroked what little hair he had on his head. “I’m not afraid of you, Erik. You don’t need to hide it from me.”

His visible eye grew wide and glassy.

---

VII. think of all the things we’ve shared and seen

Erik glanced over the top of the rock they were hiding behind before quickly ducking down again. A splatter of mashed potato went sailing over his head.

He turned to Christine. “Do you remember when I said it would be unfair for us to join forces against Meg when she would be fighting on her own?”

“Yes?”

“I was wrong. We don’t have the unfair advantage. She does.”

Christine giggled. Their little picnic had dissolved into a food fight, one that Meg was winning by miles. “I warned you. She can be fierce when she wants to be.”

“Why do I suspect she will conquer all of France one day?”

“Come out!” Meg yelled from close by. “Or I’ll come to you!”

Christine grabbed a bread roll and threw it over the rock without looking. “How did this even happen? I can’t remember.”

“Meg told me I was being overdramatic for wanting to call my home a lair.”

“Well, she’s not wrong. Also, your wig is twisted.”

Erik’s hand went to his new wig, which had turned to an awkward angle. He quickly readjusted it. “I didn’t realise one grape thrown at her would dissolve into… this.”

“You should have.” 

---

VIII. your song shall live again

Falling asleep in Erik’s lair was becoming a habit, Christine realised, when she awoke on the pile of pillows. Erik was, as always, sat at his organ writing stuff down. He hardly ever slept. Said the music in his head kept him awake.

She crossed the lair and sat down beside him. “Good morning. I hope you slept.”

“I can sleep later, when the music in my head quietens down,” he said.

“So, never.”

Erik chuckled. “Stranger things have happened.”

They sat in companiable silence. Christine hadn’t meant to stay all night, but Erik had been helping her with her singing again and they’d clearly lost track of time. She hoped that Meg and Madame Giry would cover for her absence. Not that anyone would notice that a single ballet girl was unaccounted for.

“Thank you again for helping me, Erik,” she said. “I haven’t enjoyed singing like this since… since before my father died.”

“I’m happy I can help you, Christine,” said Erik.

He smiled at her, and in that moment, she realised she was in love with him.

But what if he didn’t feel the same way? How could she ever tell him without it ruining their friendship?

---

IX. man and mystery were both in you

“We have been hearing rumours about a Phantom that haunts these walls,” Firmin mentioned to Madame Giry. “A bunch of superstitious nonsense, I presume?”

Christine and Meg, who were standing with the other ballet girls, shared a smirk.

“On the contrary, he is very real,” said Madame Giry. “Most call him the Opera Ghost. Others call him the Phantom of the Opera. Fearsome names he may have, rest assured that he is quite harmless. Indulges in mischief here and there, yes. Writes an opera composition on occasion. All he asks is for box five to be left empty for his use. He loves to watch the performances.”

André laughed. “Absurd! Surely you jest, Madame Giry!”

“She doesn’t!” called out Pierre, a tenor in training and Piangi’s protégée. “I once sat in box five because I didn’t think the stories were true. Right before the performance, I heard a disembodied voice whisper in my ear ‘I thought I asked that box five be left empty’. But when I turned around, no one was there! I went and sat in box four, instead.”

Christine and Meg snickered behind their hands.

Madame Giry hushed them both with a quick tap of her stick.

---

X. don’t think about the way things might have been

Raoul reminded her of those happy days when her father was alive and the world seemed less complicated. Sometimes she wished those happy days had never ended; wished that they’d never moved to Paris and that her father had never died.

But if that wish came true, then that meant she would never have met Erik, or Meg. And Erik would still have been trapped in that horrible fair. The years since meeting him had been filled with happiness as well, if not as innocent as the days before her father passed.

“…remember picnics in the attic with Matilda and Adele, while your father played the violin for us.”

“I remember you would make me play that silly game,” said Christine. “I was the Princess, you were a Prince, and you insisted on rescuing me from the big ugly goblin. Over and over again.”

She was tempted to remind Raoul of her father’s stories about the Angel of Music – and how he had come to her, just like her father said he would. But she held her tongue. Erik was hers. Well, Meg’s too, but she found that she didn’t want to share him with anyone else, not even Raoul.

---

XI. somehow I know he’s always with me

“Who was that slave of fashion?”

“Oh, that was Raoul,” Christine replied, resisting the temptation to make fun of Erik’s own fashion choices. He was wearing a cape, like the overdramatic idiot he was. And she loved him for it.

“Ah, yes. Scarf boy.”

“Hold on, were you listening to us? Please tell me you weren’t hiding in the wardrobe.”

“Nonsense! I was hiding behind the mirror.” He hurried over to the mirror in question and slid it to the side, revealing a secret passage behind it.

Christine crossed her arms. “And why have you made that in Carlotta’s dressing room?”

Erik looked sheepish. “I… may have been planning to… give her a fright.”

“Is that so? I hope you’re not responsible for her sudden illness.”

“Of course not! Her overindulgence of seafood did all the work for me.”

“Erik!”

“I jest, Christine!”

“Promise me you won’t torment her too much? She’s in a bad enough mood as it is for having to miss opening night.”

“Alright,” he said. “Next time, I shall only be showing Meg my newest inventions. She always lets me have fun.”

“Because she’s just about the only person who isn’t afraid of her mother’s wrath.”

---

XII. you alone can make my song take flight

It wasn’t the first time Christine had fallen asleep in Erik’s lair. But it was the first time she’d fallen asleep sat next to him on his stool with her head resting on his shoulder.

Erik smiled at her before slowly turning in his seat, wrapping his arms around her and picking her up. For a moment he bathed in the sensation of cradling her in his arms before he carried her over to the pile of cushions and gently laid her down on them.

She was everything to him.

Meg was important to him too, of course. Her friendship and kindness meant the world to him. What he felt for Christine was different. He had felt it for her, ever since he’d first heard her sing. He had thought an Angel had descended from on high to save him, to bring him to Heaven.

She had certainly done that. And yet, she called him the Angel of Music. Her Angel.

He loved her. And he could never tell her. Though she cared for him and called him her friend, he knew with a face like his that the kind of love he wanted from her… It would never happen.

---

XIII. secretly yearns for heaven

The wire had snapped.

And the second it had, he’d slapped his hand over his face and thrown himself away from Christine.

She was fixing his mask for him. Erik knew she’d seen his face before. She wasn’t frightened by it. She saw the man behind the monster. He wanted to believe that she would never leave him.

But the nightmares were too much. Too real. When he was younger, they were about being rejected by his mother and his time in the fair. As he’d grown older, those nightmares had been replaced with ones about Christine rejecting him and fleeing from him in terror.

“Erik?”

Christine sounded so unfazed by what had happened. He turned and saw her kneeling only a few feet away from him. Her bright smile made him want to cry. “Oh Christine…”

She held out his mask. “I fixed it for you.”

He took if from her, before hurriedly fitting it back into place. “Thank you.”

“Erik…” She crawled forwards until she was directly in front of him and took his hands in hers. “How many times do I have to tell you that I’m not afraid? You don’t have to hide yourself from me.”

---

XIV. mystery after gala night

“Please, Madame Giry, I need to find Christine! She is not in her dormitory and no one has seen her all night!”

Meg followed the shouting until she came upon her mother speaking with the opera’s new patron, the Viscount. She wondered why the Viscount was so worried about Christine. Was he smitten with her?

If that was the case, then Meg was tempted to tell him that her friend was spoken for. Or at least, she would be spoken for if she ever stopped acting like a coward and just confessed her feelings for Erik already. Or if Erik ever did the same. All Meg wanted was for her two best friends to be happy.

 “There is no need to fret, Monsieur,” her mother was saying. “Christine has a habit of wandering the opera house at night and drifting off somewhere. Meg knows where she falls asleep most often. Meg, can you go and fetch Christine for me please?”

Of course, what Madame Giry really meant was ‘Christine has fallen asleep in Erik’s lair again, go get her before we’re all in trouble’.

Meg nodded and left, making plans to lock them both in a wardrobe until they confessed.

---

XV. come to me, strange angel

“There will be another masquerade ball next week.”

“I heard.” Erik turned away from his latest composition. “I know you always ask me the same question, Christine, and my answer remains the same.”

“Raoul asked me to go with him.”

He froze. Christine noticed that his hands were shaking. “…Oh.”

“I told him no,” Christine hurriedly assured him. “He has feelings for me, Erik. I know he does. And if I go with him, I fear I will be allowing him to believe there is hope that his feelings will be returned, when in reality there is no hope at all. So, I told him that I was going with a friend.”

“Meg?”

“No. Pierre asked her to go with him.”

“Really? He had better treat her well, or else he will be in store for a nasty surprise. Don’t try and stop me-”

“I’ll join you. But back to what I was saying,” Christine continued. “If I show up to the ball alone, after telling him I was going with a friend…”

“I will accompany you.”

Christine blinked. “Really?”

Her friend nodded. “I will not let you face this alone.”

She smiled and squeezed his hand. “Thank you, Erik.”

---

XVI. paper faces on parade

Raoul’s last real memory of Christine was when he’d run into the sea to fetch her red scarf. He was fourteen, she was ten; it had been their final outing before the Daaés had moved to Paris in the summer.

All he had wanted was to see his friend again. But the moment he’d seen her on stage and heard her sing, he knew his heart belonged to her.

That same heart was being squeezed tight at the sight of her dancing at the ball with her friend. Erik, she’d said his name was. A stagehand, most likely. Raoul didn’t recognise him, for the man hadn’t taken off his mask all night.

It hurt, watching her with another man. Raoul was fighting the urge to cut into their dance and whisk her away to the rooftops to declare his love for her. But what held him back was the smile on her face.

She looked so happy, dancing with Erik. Like the man before her was her whole world; her everything. And though the man’s expression was concealed by his mask, his body language conveyed the same thing.

Christine was happy. And for Raoul, her happiness was all that mattered.

---

XVII. stay by my side

Christine woke to the familiar surroundings of Erik’s lair. That wasn’t unusual. What was unusual was the reason why: she could hear Erik crying out.

Realising that her friend was in distress, Christine climbed off the pillow pile and hurried over to the little cavern that Erik used as his bedroom. She was met with the sight of Erik tossing and turning in his bed, mask off, wig off, laid bare before her.

“Mama… Mama, no! Don’t leave me here!”

Her heart broke. Erik’s mother had sold him to the fair when he was little, and it was an event that still haunted him.

She made her way over to him. “Erik?”

He didn’t stir. His face screwed up like his nightmare was getting worse. “Christine… No! Don’t take her from me! Christine!” He started lashing out.

Christine avoided getting hit by accident and shook his shoulder. “Erik, wake up!”

His eyes shot open and a scream tore from his throat. At first he panicked, like he didn’t know where he was. But then he saw Christine and gasped in relief.

Knowing exactly what he needed, Christine climbed onto the bed and pulled him into a hug. “I’m here, Erik.”

---

XVIII. am I fonder of dolls or of goblins or shoes

The opera house was in chaos.

Before the trio had retreated down into Erik’s lair, Raoul had been shouting orders and trying to regain control of the situation. In the quiet of the underground, Christine calmed herself before turning her attention to Erik, who was sat next to Meg on the pillow pile. He was shaking.

“What happened?” she asked.

Erik hesitated before he replied. “The Viscount was in box five. I tried to scare him, but he saw me. He chased me backstage. And…”

Meg took over. “I saw what happened. Erik bumped into Buquet on the walkway. They tussled. Buquet tried to strike him, Erik pushed him away and… and as Buquet fell over the side his neck got caught in a noose…”

And he’d hung himself, right over the ballet below.

“Raoul showed up right as Buquet fell,” Meg continued. “He drew his own conclusions.”

“It’s my fault…” Erik was staring at nothing.

“It’s not,” Meg insisted.

Christine wanted to cry. Raoul not only knew that the Phantom was just a man – though he luckily didn’t recognise Erik from the ball, from what she could gather – he now had everyone believing that the Phantom was a murderer.

---

XIX. then my world was shattered

The cemetery was quiet. It was just how Christine liked it.

She stood in the cold in front of her father’s mausoleum, wishing that he was alive so he could guide her. Everything was falling apart and she didn’t know what to do.

“Christine?”

Her eyes widened in realisation and she turned to find Erik standing behind her. He wore his cape and hat, but hadn’t tried to conceal his half mask.

“Erik, what are you doing out here?” she asked. “What if someone sees you?”

“I had to make sure you were alright,” he replied. “Meg said you were crying earlier.”

They crossed the distance separating them and Christine pulled him into a hug. “My father would know what to do, if he were here.”

“I wish he was here for you, too. I would love to have heard him play.”

An idea struck Christine. “What if you gave the managers the opera you’re working on? Then everyone will see you as you really are.”

“And what is that?”

His mask was freezing to his face. Christine reached out to touch it, and when Erik didn’t try to stop her, she gently removed it, revealing his face

“A man.”

---

XX. her father promised her

Raoul’s head was spinning.

Erik and the Phantom were one of the same. Erik had killed a man. Erik was deceiving Christine, pretending to be her father’s promised Angel of Music. Erik was hiding a monstrous face under his mask.

The Viscount needed answers, and it was Madame Giry he turned to. It took effort to coax the story out of her, but when he did…

“Ten years ago, a travelling fair came to the city,” she explained. “I took the girls to see it. Among the acrobats and attractions there were… human oddities. One was a boy locked in a cage. I’ll never forget his face. Deformed from birth, it seemed.”

“My God…” Raoul muttered.

“Those who saw him only saw a monster,” Madame Giry continued. “But Christine… All she saw was a boy who needed her help. She freed him and concealed him in the opera house with Meg’s assistance. When I found out weeks later, I helped them, too. He is a genius, Monsieur. But innocent.”

“He killed a man.”

“Meg said it was an accident, and I believe her.”

Knowing he would be getting no help from her, Raoul turned away. He would stop Erik himself.

---

XXI. we shall play his game

“The new opera Kora and Pluto is a modern retelling of the Greek myth concerning Hades and Persephone,” André read aloud. “It reimagines the Lord of the Underworld as a misunderstood genius who learns to see the beauty in the world again through the love of a Princess.”

“There are four main leads in this opera,” said Firmin. “The rolls of King Jove and Queen Chloe should be played by an experienced tenor and soprano, who command authority and project power. Ubaldo Piangi and Carlotta Guidicelli will be perfect for these rolls.”

“Power and authority?” Carlotta grinned. “He’s not wrong.”

“And the rolls of Princess Kora and Lord Pluto should be played by a younger soprano and tenor,” Firmin continued. “I know that Piangi’s protégée Pierre DeLacey has been waiting for an opportunity such as this, and Christine Daaé already has experience. They will be quite suited for these rolls.”

“I look forwards to seeing my opera brought to life,” André finished, “Your faithful servant, OG.”

“I imagine we should do what he says,” said Firmin. “Or else we’ll end up like that poor soul Buquet.”

Raoul, who had been listening from the corner of the room, began making plans.

---

XXII. quite the lady of the hour

“Christine, you must listen to me! That man, that thing, isn’t your father’s Angel of Music! He has you under a thrall!”

“Raoul, let me go!”

Carlotta heard the commotion in the hallway and went to investigate. The noise was disrupting her vocal warm ups.

What she saw outside her dressing room couldn’t be interpreted any other way: the young Viscount harassing the little ingénue ballet girl. Carlotta didn’t like Christine Daaé all that much. Her singing was… Well, it was passable, sure. But she was still a threat to Carlotta’s title of Prima Donna.

With that being said, she wasn’t about to stand by and let this happen. It reminded her of a nasty occurrence in her earlier years, one that her darling Ubaldo had saved her from.

“Christine, let me take you away from here,” Raoul was saying, clutching Christine’s wrist. “Let me take you away from him.”

Carlotta strode forwards and forced herself between them. “Monsieur, I suggest that unless you wish for one of my high notes to burst your eardrums, you leave this girl alone.”

The man stumbled back before storming away.

“Thank you,” said Christine.

Carlotta ignored her and returned to her dressing room.

---

XXIII. I am the mask you wear

Meg liked having a supporting role, even if it was the silent handmaiden of the Princess. Which Greek Goddess was Diana supposed to be?

She had just left the stage when she noticed a familiar figure hiding in the corner. “Erik?”

He beckoned her over and said, “The Viscount has the entire opera house surrounded by his men. One man is guarding box five.”

Resisting the urge to storm up to Raoul and slap him, Meg said, “I’m sure we can find you a place to hide.”

One of the assistants suddenly appeared in a panic. “Pierre is vomiting! He cannot go on and his call is in less than a minute! Does he have an understudy?”

The plan came together instantly. Meg saw the cloak that Pierre was supposed to wear and snatched it up, before throwing it over Erik. She then pulled him from his hiding place and dragged him over to the assistant. “He’s here!”

The assistant sighed in relief. “Oh merci, I thought we were ruined!” He pushed Erik towards the stage. “You’re on, Monsieur. Break a leg!”

Meg watched with a smirk as Erik walked towards Christine, who was already onstage. This should be fun.

---

XXIV. I’ve already imagined our bodies entwining

Christine knew it was Erik the moment he started to sing. He could never fool her.

She wondered what had happened. Was Pierre sick? It didn’t matter. Christine decided to have a little fun with him. Princess Kora was supposed to turn the tables on Lord Pluto and seduce him, instead. She was going to do just that.

Swaying in front of him, getting close to his covered face, giving him little touches… Christine pulled out all the stops. She knew it was working when she saw his hands trembling.

But when they were standing together and her hands grasped his hood, her gaze was instinctively drawn to box five… and she saw a uniformed man standing inside. In her shock, she let the hood fall away, revealing Erik.

He turned to try and leave, but froze at the sight of more officers backstage. In the crowd, Christine saw many more.

Say you’ll share with me one love, one lifetime,” Erik began to sing. “Lead me, save me from my solitude.

A song from later in Act II. Why was he singing it so soon? Christine suddenly realised he was singing it to her.

And he was holding a ring.

---

XXV. anywhere you go, let me go too

When Erik realised they were surrounded, he knew there was a good chance he was about to get shot. If he was ever going to tell Christine how he really felt, it was now or never.

So, he started to sing. And when she slowly turned to face him, he knew she understood that his words were meant for her.

Say you want me with you, here beside you,” Erik continued. On a whim he removed his ring and held it out to her. “Anywhere you go, let me go to!

She smiled. His heart began to soar. She reached for the ring…

Suddenly Raoul leapt out from behind the table, grabbed Erik’s mask and yanked it off.

And the wig went with it.

Erik screamed.

“RAOUL!” And so did Christine.

The Viscount grabbed her wrist and tried to pull her away. She fought back, managing to bite his hand and kick his shin at the same time. He dropped his gun, which Christine snatched up.

She then stood her ground in front of Erik, who had curled into a ball on the stage.

The scenery suddenly collapsed on Raoul and his officers.

Meg appeared, arms full of rope. “RUN!”

---

XXVI. to find the man behind the monster

Raoul wanted to kick himself in frustration. In the chaos of the background art falling onto his men, the Phantom had escaped with Christine. Whatever thrall he had her under had forced her to fight against him, her own childhood friend, and even point a gun at him.

A mob was starting to form among those who worked at the theatre. They wanted justice for what happened to Buquet. Raoul knew he had to get to Christine before the mob did. They were likely to kill her too if they thought she was helping the Phantom.

In a dark corner, Raoul spotted Madame Giry talking to her daughter. He crept closer to try and listen to what they were saying.

“I will hold them off for as long as I can,” Madame Giry was saying. “Then I will gather our belongings and find us a carriage. Go and help Christine and Erik. I’m sure Erik knows another way out?”

“Yes.” Meg nodded. “Where will we meet you?”

“The next street over, to the south. Now go.” She kissed her daughter’s forehead and hurried away. Meg ran in the opposite direction.

Raoul removed his coat and followed her at a distance.

---

XXVII. you are not alone

“Christine… Christine, why? Why?

If only she could answer. The moment she had only dreamed about had finally come; Erik had revealed he felt the same way she did. But it had been ruined by Raoul.

They had to leave. Christine could hear a mob chanting in the distance. It would only be a matter of time before they were found.

“Christine…” Erik was curled up on the ground, weeping. “Take Meg… forget me…”

“No!” She wasn’t going to leave him. Not now.

Suddenly Meg was there, hugging Christine in relief and explaining Madame Giry’s plan. Then they were gathering what they could carry.

The mob was getting louder.

“Leave me alone!” Erik yelled at the voices. Then he turned to his friends. “Go, don’t let them find you!”

Christine shook her head. Then she saw Erik clutching his ears, shaking, and realised how close he was to his breaking point. “Erik-”

“LEAVE THIS ANGEL IN HELL!” he screamed. “GO! GO NOW AND LEAVE ME!”

He fell forwards and sobbed into the floor.

Christine was instantly by his side, lifting him up. “I promised you would never be alone again, Erik.”

Erik looked past her. “Dear Meg… you were followed.”

---

XXVIII. say the word and I will follow you

Erik’s heart stopped.

Christine was in tears, both her hands shaking. There was a gun in one hand, which she was pointing at Raoul. And in the other was a candle, which she was holding too close to her face.

She was threatening to disfigure herself.

Meg was off to the side, clutching Monsieur Monkey to her chest. She was too shocked to move. Which meant that Erik would have to put a stop to this.

 “If I burn my face, will I become evil?” Christine snarled at Raoul.

“No!”

“Then why do you think Erik is evil?!”

Erik was able to walk up behind her and yank the candle from her grasp. He quickly backstepped to stop her from grabbing it again and threw it into the lake.

“Christine…” Erik shook his head. “He’s offering you a normal life. What can I offer you?”

He closed his eyes.

Say you’ll share with me one love, one lifetime. Say the word and I will follow you.

Her beautiful voice was singing those words back to him. Surely that couldn’t mean…

Two hands cupped his face, one hand touching his deformity. “I love you too, Erik.”

And then she kissed him. 

---

XXIX. no backward glances

Christine could feel Erik’s shock beneath her lips. At first, he didn’t seem to know where to put his hands until he laid them gently on top of hers. After that, he practically melted into the kiss.

And when she pulled away at last, Erik was staring down at her with awe in his eyes. Like he couldn’t believe he deserved what she’d given him.

“As amazing as this is,” Meg interrupted. She was holding the gun at Raoul, having taken over from her friend. Christine couldn’t even remember Meg taking the gun, “we need to go. That mob is getting closer.”

Raoul suddenly surged forwards and snatched the gun from Meg. Christine immediately placed herself in front of Erik, but she didn’t need to. Raoul walked right past them.

“I will lead them astray and buy you time,” he said, before turning to Christine. “I’m sorry. I was wrong. We played that game so many times…”

“Erik isn’t a goblin,” said Christine. “And I’m not a Princess who needs saving.”

Raoul nodded. “One day, I hope you can forgive me.”

He left in one direction. Meg, Christine and Erik left in the other direction, the latter two holding hands.

---

XXX. it’s over now

Madame Giry was waiting with a carriage, just like she said she would be. She had managed to gather everyone’s belongings from the dormitory, which were in bags ready to go.

“I have booked us passage to Calais,” she said when the others arrived. “From there, we can go anywhere. Britain, America…”

“Doesn’t America still have slavery?” Meg asked, as she helped her mother load the bags into the carriage.

“It was outlawed after the civil war,” said her mother. “Why are you concerned?”

“I can’t imagine a place that still practices slavery would be all that accepting of Erik,” Meg explained. “And since it probably hasn’t been long since they banned it, I doubt attitudes have changed much.”

Christine was about to add her own opinion on the matter when she noticed Erik looking back in the direction of the opera house. She stepped towards him and held his hand in hers. Feeling the ring still clutched in his grasp, she took it and slipped it onto her finger.

Erik stared at her in wonder. “Are you sure?”

She nodded. “This is my choice. And I choose you, Erik.”

They kissed again, before they climbed into the carriage together.