Gustave was asleep in bed and Raoul had left a note saying he had been called away on an urgent business trip which was a lie but rather convenient. She had waited until all the servants had gone to bed before she slipped on her cloak and dashed out of the door.
Unfortunately, she had never learned to ride a horse or steer a carriage so walking was her only option. This was not easy in her rather unpractical shoes and long silk dress. It was incredibly dark, the streets were not well lit and she was beginning to wonder whether she would ever find the Carnival.
Then she rounded a familiar corner. The lights were dimming now but the Carnival was still easily recognisable. As she neared the main entrance it dawned on her that the Carnival would most definitely be closed at this ridiculous time of night. She swerved to the left, then began to walk around the circumference of the Carnival, trying to spot the third tent on the left.
"Come one," she muttered, her eyes searching through the tents.
Eventually, after what felt like hours, she spotted it. Glancing around to make sure she wasn't being watched she quickly marched to the tent. One last look around before she opened the curtain and dashed into the darkness.
This time it was pitch black inside, making it impossible to see anything. She stood still, trying to picture what lay in front of her. Panic rose up inside her, this was no place for a lady such as her! Humming to herself in an attempt to calm her nerves she began to walk forward.
There were low whispers and wails as she walked past the cages but she did not stop. She was not going to turn back now. After a few painstaking minutes she arrived at where she thought his cage was. A few deeps breaths later she was ready.
One step at a time. The panic inside her was not subsiding not matter how much humming she did. All of a sudden Christine found herself pressed against the bars of a cage. She prayed that this was the right one.
"Are you there?" she whispered.
There was silence.
"Are you there?" she repeated, much louder this time.
Something moved on the other side of the metal bars. A second later someone was in front of her, their faces almost touching and their breath mingling, yet it was impossible to see who it was.
"What are you doing here?" he exclaimed, a panic in his voice.
"I couldn't just leave you like that," she replied, "I had to make sure you were alright."
"I'm fine," he hissed, "Now go, quickly! Before someone catches you!"
"Can you get out of there?" she asked.
He hesitated for a moment.
"Yes," he admitted, "But I doubt I could walk very far. I have a rather infected wound on my right leg."
"Just come out," she begged.
Sighing he stumbled over to the other side of the cage. Christine heard him kneel down and began to tamper with the lock. About thirty seconds later there was a screech as the gate swung open. He stood up but lost his balance and toppled back down to the ground.
Christine let out a short yelp, then ran around the cage to help him. Although she was not strong she somehow managed to pull him to his feet. Her eyes had now adjusted slightly to the darkness and she could see vague details of his face.
"What did you want me out here for?"
"I'm going to get you out of here."
His head cocked to the side as he contemplated her words.
"Why would you do that for me?" he asked, "I left you."
"Nobody deserves this," she whispered, wrapping her arms around him and pulling him into a tight embrace.
At that moment he broke down, his sobs made his whole body shake and his tears soaked the shoulder of her cloak. For a while they just stood there until he regained his composure and pulled away from the embrace.
"If we get caught God knows what they'll do to you."
"I do not care," she replied, "Come on now, we must hurry!"
She grabbed him arm and put it around her shoulder for support. He was incredibly thin which meant the weight was bearable but they still would have to go quickly. As the exited the tent a man walked by but took no notice of them.
The hurried through the circus and were soon on the street outside. Christine hailed a taxi cab which stopped swiftly, the driver jumped out and helped her lift him into the car.
"Do you want me to drop you at a hospital?" the driver asked, his face filled with concern.
"No, he's fine," she replied, "His walking stick broke and he finds it very hard to cope without it."
Luckily the driver could not see his disfigurement, he shrugged his shoulders, then jumped onto the front of the carriage. Soon they were speeding along the road towards home where they would spend the night. Raoul would not be back until late the next day when she would have hopefully worked something out.
They arrived at the house in a matter of minutes, the driver once again helped Christine lift him out of the cab. She paid him and she was left to struggle up the steps without any help.
"Mother, is that you?"
Christine froze. The man next her was giving her a questioning look.
"Yes, Gustave, I was just getting some air," she called, "I felt a little faint again."
The little head disappeared from the upstairs window, his curiosity apparently quenched. Meanwhile Christine managed to unlock the door and stumble through the door, almost collapsing from exhaustion.
They managed to get into the drawing room and collapsed onto the chairs. She switched on lights and got her first proper look at her angel.
His face was almost the same as she remembered, maybe a little thinner and paler. He was a lot thinner overall. She had always remembered him being impeccably dressed and his suit had obviously been nice but it was old and tattered.
"You are very welcome."
Silence descended, suddenly neither of them knew quite what to say. They both had so many questions for the other but didn't know quite where to start.
"Let me see your leg," she ordered, kneeling down beside him.
"It's not a very pleasant sight," he winced, as she rolled up his trouser leg and let out a small gasp.
The wound was large and seeping yellow fluid. It was a stark contrast to his pale skin and was obviously causing him a lot of pain.
"You really must get this seen to," she mused, "By a doctor."
"I have no money," he sighed.
"Then I will pay for it, my friend is a doctor. He will treat you and won't ask any questions."
"I cannot let you do that!" he exclaimed, "I'll be fine."
"You can owe me it," she smiled.
After considering this for a few moments he gave her a small nod.
"I'm going to get some water to clean this up a little," she announced.
She walked speedily to the bathroom and soon returned to the drawing room. He had not moved an inch since she had left but turned to look at her as she entered. Moving quickly still she knelt beside him and began to clean his wound. Silence had once again descended, this time he was the one to break it.
"Where is Raoul?" he asked.
"I'm not sure to be perfectly honest," she admitted, "In a bar, drunk and gambling what little we have left."
Once she had said it she immediately regretted it. She should not be telling others such personal things. This should stay between her and her husband.
"I would not be surprised if we lost the house tonight."
"Surely things cannot be that bad," he interjected.
"I'm so sorry," he whispered, stroking her cheek.
"Sorry for Raoul's behaviour or sorry for leaving me?"
His face paled slightly at her words.
"As I explained in the letter I left-"
"A letter!" she exclaimed, "I admitted that I loved you! I said I was going to stay with you instead of Raoul! I was ready to give up my life for you and all you left was a letter!"
"I am very tired," she announced, "I'll show you to your room."