A Little Fall of Rain

Hello everybody! Woo, I haven't written in a LONG time, so this fic is a tad rusty. This idea came to me randomly and I really wanted to put to (electronic?) paper. I didn't realize it would end up so long, but here you go!

"A Little Fall of Rain" is a song from the musical Les Miserables that is sung when the female character dies in the arms of her unrequited lover's arms, and I wanted a situation to fit it into the Phantom universe somehow. Here, I use my OC Aria from a fic I haven't yet published (I might at some point, who knows). Obviously, to fit the situation for the song, she ends up dying.

So WARNING: Character Death.

I like to imagine Gerard Butler for Erik's voice, and Lea Salonga for Aria. If you haven't already heard the song, I highly reccomend you listen to the version with her in it first so you have an idea.

Might make a happy ending version if enough people ask? Might post the whole fic of the movie with her in it? Either way, please let me know what you all think! If any Whovians are out there, I've left a tiny little easter egg for you.

Song lyrics are italicized.

Disclaimer: I own absolutely nothing except for my own character, Aria.

"God give me courage to show you, you are not alone!"

The moment Christine's lips met those of my angel's, something in me shattered. And as I watched him return the kiss in fervor, I realized that it was my heart finally breaking. I shouldn't have been surprised, he has always and will always chose her. But her kiss was also symbolic of how she had chosen him, and so I knew I had lost my angel to her forever.

I lifted my gaze over to the man still tied up to the grate. Raoul, the man for who's life Christine had chosen another, gazed at the couple with the same heartbroken gaze I'm sure was reflected in my own eyes. It seemed we both shared this pain. The pain of watching the love of our life entwined in another's arms, knowing they couldn't ever be with you, whether it be against their will, like Christine, or by choice, like my angel. And for whatever reason, be it born out of disbelief or masochism, neither one of us could will ourselves to look away.

As long as he's happy, I thought to myself, repeating again the mantra in my head that I had been for so many years. As long as he's happy, I'd swallow any amount of pain I'd have to endure. Even if it were his decisions that caused such.

Christine and Erik broke apart, and for a moment he just gazed at her. His icy blue eyes shining with what must have been awe fixed solely on her beautiful face. He must have realized the brilliant life he could have with his angel was within his future now that she had come to accept him, or his terms anyway.

A thought struck me, one that shook my whole frame with fear it was so terrifying to comprehend. Now that Erik had Christine in his life, to be beside him as his angel and his bride, what use was there of him for me? Surely he wouldn't abandon me, not after the years I'd been so loyally by his side. But now that he had her, would my company not be desired any longer? Would I be a nuisance to him and his lovely angel, and would he cast me out into the street as though none of what I was or what we are mattered? Did I not know just how deep his obsession with her ran, I would have denied the thought. But this fore-knowledge witnessed by mine own eyes through the years of how much and completely Erik loved his Christine made me doubt my significance in his life.

I could feel the darkness creeping up on me as I considered this notion. What would I do? Where would I go?! I was nothing without Erik! We had built our lonely sanctuary together ever since Madam Giry had helped us escape from the circus, we have been nigh inseparable, leaning on another for support the way a tree leans towards the sun for its light.

I was a contortionist for the traveling circus I had been traded to, abandoned by my oh-so-caring father to pay off a debt

on a trade route coming through from the East. The ring master took an interest in my exotic Oriental features, and I likely would have been used for pleasure had he not discovered my talents. My strange ability to twist and bend and balance my body like no other human should ever be able to earned me a spot in his freak show, where I contorted my body on display for disgusting patrons looking for a spot of entertainment. It was here I knew Erik, and we bonded through our mutual enslavement.

When Giry's ballet company was brought to witness our pitiful debacle, she came upon my cage first. Decorated with mere straw and a small wooden podium for which to present myself better to my audience, hers was the only gaze of the crowds that wasn't filled with awe or disgust or morbid fascination. Giry's eyes were filled with pity and sorrow. As I lifted myself onto my arms and twisted my legs around myself in another position, for if I ever stopped, the master would surely have me whipped, she gripped the bars of my filthy cage with her lithe hands and her eyes pleading, I want to help you. I only blunk back at her, black eyes emotionless, but gave a slight nod of my head to show my comprehension. I shifted my head to gesture towards the cage beside me, where the boy with a sack over his head crouched in the corner of his own cage, silently telling her, help him too.

Giry witnessed his spectacle and made her decision that night to come and free us, the two children in the freak show too young to be submitted to such a cruel fate. And when she unlatched our cages and hid us beneath the opera house, the boy whose name I learned was Erik became my closest companion. I was the one who taught him to slink about with stealth through the corridors and catwalks. It was I who showed him how to flit from one side of the room to the next or to disappear without being seen or heard. I had showed him to become a living specter, and in return he helped me survive. We helped each other survive.

And now the idea that I might be on my own, away from my angel who's care I've been in for so long, gripped at me until I could feel panic clawing at my chest, waiting for him to say something, anything…

Erik's composure broke, and he slowly started to sob. That wonderful kiss and all he could do was cry? Christine's searching eyes widened in confusion, making her already large eyes seem huge on her flawless face, as he started wade away from her in the knee-deep water. The darkness in my mind began to recede as I saw him cast her away from his direction before trekking back up onto the island where I still stood.

"Take her, forgive me, forget all of this," he pleaded not looking back to them. Christine was still bemused, but made her way to Raoul's aid, loosening the ropes as best she could. "Leave us alone, forget all you've seen."

Us? My heart lightened once more at his choice in words. I met him at the crux of the island where it sloped back into the lake, offering my hand to aid him up. He took it, and I helped him venture deeper into the lair as he continued to instruct to the fleeing couple.

"Take the boat swear to me never to tell

The secret you know of the angel in hell."

We scaled to the top of the stairs where the candelabra overlooked the entrance of the port. Christine had only just gotten Raoul free and they stared up at us in frozen disbelief, as if they couldn't believe that the phantom was just going to let them get away. Erik hadn't glanced at them since he turned away from Christine, but they caught his eye as we crested over the candelabra. He broke away from me, gesturing wildly with his arms, crying at them:

"Go now! Go now and leave me!"

And so they obeyed, Erik turning back to me once they had fled from his sight.

I've known Erik all of our mature years, and in all those days, I had never seen him so… unkempt. His dark hair was mussed about his face, damp and disheveled like the rest of him. His trousers, black as night, stuck to his skin because of the water, and his poet's shirt ruffled and wrinkled, open and untucked, exposing just the slightest bit of hair on his chest. His face was still drawn into the most sorrowful expression I had ever seen him wear. The disfigurement that wrought across the left side of his face, which I had seen many times before, seemed more twisted (not in opinion, but in appearance) and inflamed from emotion. He was a sad, frightening, pitiful sight to anyone who would lay eyes on him.

But not to me. Never to me. He was still and always would be to mine eyes my beautiful angel of music, disfigurement or not.

"Erik," I implored softly, trying to draw him back to me, for I knew his mind still wandered in darkness. I tried to keep my tone even and gentle, not wanting to pry if he wasn't ready. "What happened?"

His cobalt eyes finally drew up to meet my gaze directly for the first time in what I felt like was forever. And staring into his beautiful eyes I felt, as I always have, like I was seeing his soul. Seeing the person he really was without the mask, without the facades, without the disfigurement. Not the phantom, not the monster he believed himself to be. Just the man, just Erik.

"She doesn't love me," he muttered, is deep voice saturated with misery and, less conspicuously, what seemed like acceptance. "She never will."

I tilted my head slightly, asking him silently to elaborate further. Erik slumped down into the piano bench by his side, slouching over and leaning the weight of his upper body onto his knees. "Her kiss, it was pleading," he explained, looking down at his hands. "…but full of pity. There was no love, never could she ever love the monster I am…"

Frowning, I stepped over to the bench and sat next to him, the torn skirts of my dress brushing against his damp trousers. I lifted my hand and placed it tenderly on the disfigured side of his face, taking great care knowing the skin there was thinner and more sensitive. Erik lifted his head to face me, surprise shining through still glassy eyes.

"You are not a monster," I declared softly but firmly, as I had done so many times before. I'm not too sure he ever really believed me, but he always seemed to feel better when I told him this truth that I genuinely believed in.

Now, my angel looked back at me like he heard me say this only for the first time. His mouth fell open slightly, those beautiful lips that I longed for to meet mine instead of Christine's, and he looked about to say something. But our attention was drawn to the cries of the mob that grew louder as they reached further into the catacombs and closer to our lair.

"Track down this murderer, he must be found!

Hunt down this animal who runs to ground!

Too long he's prayed on us, but now we know

The Phantom of the Opera is here,

deep down below!"

My attention snapped away from those angry voices as Erik placed a hand over mine, the one that lay on his face. He brought it away, but still held it in his grasp, bringing us both to stand. "We must go," he spoke. "Gather our things, be swift. We'll use the hidden tunnels."

I nodded, my demeanor now shifted towards the mission we now had to accomplish: escape from the mob, live, survive. There was life we could build together just yet. "I'll meet you there," I promised, turning and darting to our rooms to gather what we had prepared for long ago.

"Aria," he called, causing me to halt in my progress. My back was still to him as he instructed to me, "Bring the cache, as well."

I turned my head to the side so that he could see my eyebrow was raised. The cache was a deposit box of savings that Erik set aside from his monthly salary. It had accumulated quite a bit of wealth over the years, much more bounteous than the money stores we had set aside for emergencies. If we were taking that much money with us… it meant we weren't coming back. Not to our lair, not to the Opera Populaire… Perhaps not even back to France all together.

I said nothing as I came to this realization, but nodded to show my understanding before rushing off once more to prepare for our escape.

A long time ago, Erik and I had prepared "get away" bags in the event that we were to be forced out of our home. In our separate bags were clothes and money and other necessities to last us about a week and placed none too far from the entrance of our respective rooms. Those I retrieved first as they were closest, slinging them over my shoulders with ease. The deposit box, however, was located in the corridor close to the torture chamber, which was a tunnel closer to one of the entrances of our lair (for obvious reasons). I needed to make haste lest the mob happen upon the area before I.

I moved as fast as I could through the catacombs with the emergency bags weighing me down. It was enough that I could carry without difficulty, but sacrificed my stealth for speed. It was foreign to hear the sound of my footsteps as I made my way to the torture chamber. The clacks that echoed through the tunnels kept me company as I allowed my mind to wander.

It was bizarre to think that so many events could be folded into the space time of what wasn't even half of an hour, the chaos having begun when Christine ripped Erik's mask off on stage. But at the end of all of it, even now as my heart pumped faster than ever through my veins, I was happy. My heart was light, relived and joyous. My heart swelled because for once in his miserable life, Erik had cast away Christine. It swelled because I knew now that Erik still desired me by his side, maybe not like I had wanted him by mine, but by his side nonetheless. To think not mere moments ago, the prospect of Erik abandoning me was so near, so real and entirely possible with Christine still in the picture. But now what lay ahead was the priority of our escape, together.

I flew through the corridors with a smile upon my face.

After what seemed an eternity, the adrenaline making time seem to pass slower than normal, I rounded upon the opening arch that preceded the torture chamber. The corridor continued further down, parts of which led to the lake, but this was as far as I need travel.

Making my way to the left side of the arch, I kneeled down and reached into the corner where the arch jutted out from the wall, dislodging a large brick. It revealed a small space that fit a box no longer than my forearm in either direction, and no deeper than the length of my longest finger, and despite its metal casing was easy to carry. Paper francs were all that comprised its contents, after all. I gathered the box into my arms, ready to make my way back to the lair. I spun on my heel and—

CRACK!

Something pierced my stomach, just below where I held the deposit box aloft in my hands. It slammed me backwards into the wall, and I leaned on it for support as a red hot pain blossomed in my gut, my vision faltering. I let out a cry of pain, feeling my lungs burn with each shallow breath I drew in. It took all I had to lean against the cool stone wall and not collapse. Placing a hand over the bullet wound, I shifted my gaze upwards to see where it had originated from.

At the other end of the corridor stood a man, not a constable, but a member of the raving mob perhaps. It seemed so, as he looked dressed exquisitely enough to attend the opera, an aristocrat no doubt, but his fine clothing was tattered and torn and burnt from the chandelier fire and soaked from wading through the lake, which he half stood in just now. In his hands was a rifle he was starting to lower from his face, a shocked expression upon his pale visage. It seemed he didn't expect my presence, for no one in the opera house other than four other living souls new of my existence. He likely shot at the first sign of movement as he rounded the corner, hoping for it to be the phantom, for who else could be scurrying through these tunnels? Surely no innocents, as he was so wrongly proven.

The pain that took over me was deafening, but the adrenaline fought to keep my mind focused and, at the very least, conscious. I looked behind the man to see no others accompanying him. He must have been sent out as a scout to investigate this particular entrance of the many the lake led to. My gaze ventured further above him. There was a raised grate that was none too far before him, the lever for which wasn't far from my grasp. If I could reach it, he would be sealed off to this side.

Gritting my teeth, I willed my body to move, trying to take advantage of this man's surprise. I was able to reach the lever that sat not two feet behind me, hidden by another partition in the wall, and by the time he was able to overcome his shock, the grate had lowered and cut him off mere feet before him. I slid down against the wall once more, groaning, my breaths quick and shallow.

Erik, I thought, my eyes falling closed as my mind turned to despair. This would was mortal should I not receive immediate care, which was very unlikely. The lair was another ways down and there was no other entrance available than the one I had just sealed off. I would die here, I realized. The Opera House that housed and sheltered me for most of my life would become my grave. In the catacombs, no less, how macabre and ironic. And my angel…

My angel would escape through the tunnels hidden behind the mirrors, but he would be without supply. My eyes snapped open. I had both our packs, the packs that held spare clothes, food, money and everything that Erik would need to survive out on the streets. And the deposit box was still cradled against my chest. Without any of these things, Erik had nothing.

I couldn't leave him with nothing, not if I could help it.

With a renewed energy that from whence it came I did not know, I pushed myself onto my feet once more. I stumbled a little, but caught myself by leaning a shoulder against the wall, biting back the pain that rose from my stomach once more. I held the deposit box over the wound, the pressure aiding my fight to overcome the pain. I could do this, I told myself. For Erik, for my angel, I have to do this.

And so I limped my way back through the catacombs as fast I could, dragging myself against the wall for support. The resolve to help Erik when I knew he needed me, and my love for him what the only thing that kept me going.

And a slow going it was. What took half a minute to traverse the path to the torture chamber at a swift jog took agonizing eternal minutes. Time seemed to slow as my blood smeared across the brick of the wall as I dragged myself against it. It was quite a bit of blood to be lost, but not quite as much had I not held the box close to my stomach, preventing that bleeding just a bit. Apparently, I had enough blood in me still to keep going, and so I did.

Before long, the light of the few candles still lit throughout the lair came into my view. It brought a smile to my face, I was almost there. Just around the corner and Erik would be in my sights if he were by the mirrors that hid the entrance to the tunnels. But as I turned into the room, it was not Erik that I saw.

It was Christine. She was standing alone, staring in a direction away from me in the wedding dress that was made so lovingly for her. It was torn and the skirt sodden and dirty from the lake, but she looked as radiant and as beautiful as she always was despite this. She seemed to be clutching onto something in her left hand. I followed my gaze to see what she was staring at only to see Erik, just as unkempt as I left him.

I remained silent and still, just behind one of the large mirrors and took a moment to rest as I observed their exchange. Erik gazed with his eyes full of sadness back at his angel, but he made no move to rise from his position and approach her.

"Christine, I love you," he sang softly to her, the most broken hearted expression I had ever seen worn on his disfigured face.

I felt another pang of pain shoot straight through me, but not from the wound in my stomach. It shot straight through my chest like an arrow, grasping hold of my heart and wrenching it out once more. I closed my eyes, trying to hold back the tears. Those words, always for Christine. Would my suffering ever end, would I never hear those words said to me instead? Those were the only words I ever wished to hear from his lips, instead thrown in my face as I felt the familiar misery grip my soul once more. Not to me, not to me…

I opened my eyes and watched Christine as she said nothing, but slowly made her way towards Erik. Why was she here? Why had she returned, and without her precious Vicomte? Perhaps she changed her mind and wished to be with her Angel of Music. But what about what Erik told me, that she could never truly love him? A million of these thoughts ran through my head as my despair grew once more, feeling my position at Erik's side forevermore threatened once again.

I watched as Christine took Erik's hand in hers. She placed something in it and closed his fist around it before backing away and returning down the steps and into the boat where her love had surely been waiting. My heart went out to Erik as I could see him stare desperately back after her, only glancing down to see what she had given him when she was gone. In his hand I could barely see the ring that he had given him. I could only guess it was the one he had given her. It was her rejection, or her goodbye to her angel ultimately, and Erik seemed to grieve over this again as he clutched it to his chest and sobbed once more.

Then, the voices of Christine and Raoul rose through the tunnels,

"Say you'll share with me

One love, one lifetime.

Say the word and I will follow you.

Share each day with me,

Each night, each morning…"

The song of the two escaping on the gondola echoed gently though the catacombs, capturing the attention of my angel in his sadness as he listened to the words of the song. His shoulders ceased to quake, and his tears ceased to fall, resignation of Christine's goodbye finally settling in and quelling the sorrow within him.

He mumbled something I couldn't make out, and then rose suddenly, grasping a small but study candle pillar, bellowing,

"It's over now, the music of the night!"

And with his proclamation, he slammed the pillar into the nearest mirror to him, shattering it. He swung at it again, and again, before moving over to the one next to it when it shattered completely. The next one revealed itself to be a normal mirror as well, and so he made his way down to the third mirror, which was set two mirrors away from the one I had behind on the other side of the row. Two swings at the third mirror and the glass fell away into empty space as the barrier to the hidden tunnels collapsed.

As Erik's breathing calmed, I felt this the right time to move away from my hiding spot. Grunting, I pushed myself away from the wall and held myself upon two feet as best I could and stepped out from behind the mirror.

Hearing something shift, Erik's unmasked gaze lifted and fell upon my form, widening in horror. "Aria?"

Erik's eyes fell upon his companion who had stepped out from behind a mirror where she had been hiding, for how long he knew not. Her expression with tinged with pain, and his eyes were drawn to the blood staining her pale dress blossoming across her stomach. Her waist was mostly hidden behind the deposit box she clutched tightly against her form, behind which was likely where she had the wound.

Aria gave him a weak smile. "Hello, monsieur," she managed weakly out, before she gave into the pain and collapsed.

Erik rushed forward and caught her in his arms before she could collide with the floor, lifting her small form easily in his arms. "Aria, what happened?!" he cried, shifting the box out of her hands and pressing his free hand over the wound. It still bleed profusely, he knew she needed medical help and soon.

"Gentryman," she panted, breaths short and shallow. "Just one, by the chamber… caught me by surprise… sealed off the passage, had to get the box…"

"You've got it, it's here," Erik reassured her, relieved that he didn't have to worry about the mob coming up another way. But his worry over her condition did not cease. "We need to get you help, Aria, you're bleeding so much…"

"It's okay Erik," she coughed out. Aria placed a hand over his that held her wound. "I got this far, I can stand to hold on a little more."

She was lying, but she hated to see her angel in distress. And he didn't know that, so he believed her, he had hope. Erik shifted as gently as he could the bags off her shoulders and onto his, stuffing the deposit box into one of them. Both his arms now free, he shifted her into them more securely and stood, carrying his closest friend close to his chest and through the tunnels as fast as his legs could carry him.

"We need to escape first, but we will get you help," Erik promised. "Hang in there, for me."

Aria closed her dark eyes, putting as much pressure as she could over the bullet wound. She reveled being in the arms of her love, and though she was dying, she was happy. "I'm so tired, Erik…"

"Rest now, my Aria," he pleaded her. She nodded her head and spoke no more, but the rise and fall of her chest assured him that she was still alive. Now only the sound of his footsteps kept him company as he made his way through the tunnel as fast as he could.

Erik's mind was still reeling from seeing Aria wounded, when only moments before, as he swam in his own grief, she was perfectly fine. Seeing her form so mortally wounded jarred a great fear within him something he hadn't ever felt in his adult life. Aria had always been by his side, and he never thought of a future without her there, even with Christine. He imagined before his angel had rejected him that they would all live together happily, with Christine as his wife and Aria as a female companion to her.

Even after he decided to leave Christine behind, his plans for escape and living beyond this opera house always included Aria. She had always been there for him, through everything, and he for her. It seemed blasphemous that it should ever seem otherwise.

But Aria might die, Erik realized. His chest tightened in fear as he came to this realization, truly contemplating it for the first time. The thought that she might not make it consumed him. He'd never felt a fear so intense that it seized him by the soul until now. His heartbeat hammered in his ears as he willed himself to run as fast as his feet could carry him. Her blood stained his white shirt now as he cradled her in his arms, and brightness of it scaring him. He couldn't think of life without her, he didn't want to. There was a very real part of his soul that he could feel was entwined with her existence that he was sure would leave the very being of him destroyed without her.

The intensity of his desperation and his feelings for her surprised him. Being fresh from letting go of Christine, from whom he had pinned after for so long, and then right after being confronted with losing the only other person so close to him made him realize just how much Aria meant to him. This was different than what he felt for Christine, a much closer bond he shared with Aria who had always been there for him. Had he been blinded by his obsession and his pining for Christine? What of Aria, had she ever felt any more than friendship towards him? She had always done everything he asked of her, but were her intentions or doing this something more than the friendship they had always shared?

Erik mentally shook himself from those thoughts. He didn't know how he felt, but he didn't have time to sort out those confusing feelings. Not right now… Right now, Erik's priority was to get Aria safe, away from the mob. Get her help. Keep her alive.

Moments later trekking through the tunnels, Erik finally came upon the end of it. The tunnel ended in a concrete wall with a metal grate about half the height of an average man in the corner. Erik kicked it out easily and did his best to shuffle the two of them through to the other side with Aria still in his arms. When he finally did, he collapsed against the wall of the alley they were now in, exhausted.

"We made it," he panted, eyes closing from exhaustion. "We've escaped. Aria, we can get you help now…"

Erik opened his eyes and cast his gaze down to his friend in his arms, his voice dying as he saw her state. Her eyes were closed and a peaceful look on her face, no longer pained, and he could barely tell if she were still breathing. A cold fear seized him, his mind assuming the worst as he shook her body gently. "Aria? …Aria, stay with me!" he pleaded. "Don't

you dare leave me…"

Aria's brow furrowed gently at his call, and slowly she opened her dark eyes to see her angel staring back down at her, all the worry in the world in his eyes. She realized she was cradled in his arms and couldn't help but give him a small smile, though it was tinged with sorrow behind it. She could feel how limited her energy was, how much she had left in her before her life slipped away.

"Oh thank god, you're still alive," Erik cried in relief, holding her closer to his chest. "I'll find someone to help you, Aria, just stay with me a little longer and we can-"

"Erik," Aria's voice stopped his pleading gently. It was weak, and sounded like it took all her energy just to speak. His brow furrowed as he watched her shake her head ever so slightly at him. She moved her arm away from her stomach, his gaze following the movement and eyes widening at how much blood was stained on her dress. It wasn't hard to tell she'd lost too much blood to keep going.

"No," he whispered, looking back to her face, the reality of her condition hitting him hard. And all of a sudden, it was like he was seeing her for the first time in the moonlight. He found himself unintentionally memorizing all her features. The features of her face were all very round and soft, so unlike the angular faces of the rest of the people of France. Her large, dark, almond shaped eyes that always looked at him with such brightness had the light in the dimmed. Her soft, petal shaped lips were stretched into a small smile still, smiling through it all even now. Her straight, inky hair fell around and framed her face, contrasting starkly against the pale porcelain color of her complexion. His followed the few thick strands that fell upon her Eastern features to a raindrop that had fallen upon her high cheekbones. Erik reached up to wipe them away, her skin so soft beneath his calloused fingers and he whispered her name.

"Aria, you're hurt," he whimpered, feeling tears begin to sting in the back of his eyes. He tried to hold them back, she was the one who needed him strong for her now, not the other way around!

Aria shook her head and lifted an arm to place a hand over his, the one that was on her cheek, looking him resolutely in the eyes from under dark lashes. She couldn't stand to see him look so anguished and so she did the only thing she could think of that she knew he held so dear to him. Her lips parted, ever-smiling, and she sang, "Don't you fret, Monsieur Erik. I don't feel any pain," she assured him. "A little fall of rain can hardly hurt me now. You're here, that's all I need to know!" She moved his hand in hers from her cheek to rest his hand over her heart, gripping it as tight as her meager strength would allow as her voice continued to ring out to him. "And you will keep me safe." As he always had. "And you will keep me close." As she always longed for. "And rain will make the flowers grow!"

"There's something I never told you, my angel, something I never thought I could," she admitted, gazing resolutely into his stormy gray eyes. "But I suppose, if it's my last chance to say it… I love you, Erik. I always have."

Erik shook his head in denial, brushing the hair away from her face. "Don't say that, my Aria. Don't say that like you're saying goodbye.

"You will live, Aria

Dear God above,

If I could heal your wounds with words of love!"

"Just hold me now and let it be. Shelter me, comfort me," she begged him, not wanting her angel to break over false hope that anything but her death might happen now. All she wanted was to be in his arms now, so in her last moments she could at last know peace and love.

"You would live a hundred years if I could show you now." Erik cradled her closer, and she could feel his voice reverberate in his chest. He would stay and hold her as she pleased for as long as she wanted. "I won't desert you now."

"The rain can't hurt me now," Aria reassured. "This rain will wash away what's past! And you will keep me safe," she bid him again, "and you will keep me close. I'll sleep in your embrace at last!"

It was getting so dark for Aria, her vision was fading quickly and she kept trying to cling to the warmth Erik's embrace offered her. She was dying, but she was so, so happy to be within his arms. After longing for years for his touch, she could leave this life longing for nothing more. "The rain that brings you here is heaven blessed! The skies begin to clear and I'm at rest. A breath away from where you are," she sang, cuddling closer to his chest as her eyes fell closed. "I've come home from so far."

Erik couldn't stand it. Aria didn't deserve to die, not like this. Not now when he only just realized her feelings for him. Not now when he felt like he might love her back in the same way. But all that time would be ripped away from them and he would be left alone, without her. Didn't want her to leave, didn't want to go on in this life without her.

On impulse, Erik lowered his head and kissed Aria tenderly, her soft lips yielding easily against his. Her eyes shot open in surprise but slid closed again as she returned it. He wanted for the both of them to at least have this one kiss, this one farewell, and he tried as best he could to show her through it his love and grief and desperation. He tried to pour the years missed of what they could have had into it, for he did love her too. Aria responded in turn trying to convey to him the love she had always felt for him, mask or no mask. In that kiss she said both I love you and goodbye.

When they pulled apart, they both had small sad smiles on their faces and the unshed tears making their eyes shine so brightly in the moonlight. And when she sang again, he sang with her, their voices blending together as they harmonized in the rain.

"So don't you fret, Monsieur Erik/Hush-a-bye, dear Aria,

I don't/You won't feel any pain.

A little fall of rain

Can hardly hurt me/you now."

A sharp stab of pain shot through Aria's lungs and she cringed, letting out a small cry. Erik held her closer, as close as he could without the two occupying the same space. "I'm here," he tried to soothe.

"That's all I need to know," she gasped for breath. Her voice was weaker than ever, but she kept singing for as long as she could. For if she sang, he would sing with her, he would help her through this until the end. "And you will keep me safe."

"I will stay with you," he promised her.

"And you will keep me close." Her eyes were falling shut now.

"'Til you are sleeping." The tears Erik had been holding back for so long threatened to fall.

They sang with each other again, the melody so soft but their voices ringing so perfectly together, "And rain… Will make the flowers…" Aria's eyes fell closed and her voice died out like the last flame of a candle. She sang no more.

"Grow…" he finished without her. And then the damn broke, and all the tears and grief poured out as he sobbed and clutched her lifeless form. He buried his head into the crook of her neck and wept and grieved for the only person in this wretched world had that had ever truly loved him been taken from him. The cold rain fell around the two, the heavens mourning with him the loss of his Aria.

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