Raoul II

While she was at bed rest, not much was said between the two of them. Christine cried day and night upon receiving the news, and Raoul did little more than silently attempting to comfort her. He blamed himself for all of that, for not having called upon the midwife sooner, for not being by her side more often, for not taking that leave earlier. He kept those feelings to himself however, hoping that the alcohol would drown them away. But they always came back stronger, to the point he thought it was all a curse brought upon them by something.

Many sleepless nights went by and, after Christine recovered, they provided a burial for the child, next to the tomb of Christine's father, which he was to be named after. That day Christine shed no tears, instead she stood in solemn contemplation of their graves, as if she'd already spent all the tears she had inside. Raoul was just as silent with the aid of a trusty flask he kept on his coat's inner pocket, but the pain he felt was immeasurable. Arriving home, he took to drinking some more, gradually piling all of the feelings and dark thoughts he had repressed during his whole life like a stream of air filling up a balloon. Thoughts of the phantom prevailed in his inebriated mind: "She misses him", "He cursed her with his love", "He cursed all of us". Suddenly, it popped. After emptying his whiskey bottle, he threw it onto the floor, shattering it to pieces in a deafening sound.

-What are you doing Raoul? – Exclaimed a concerned Christine, as she came rushing into the dining room.

-Shattering a bottle, what's it look like I'm doing? – He responded, slurring his words.

-By god, you're drunk again.

-And what if I am?

-Then you'll become unsufferable. Isn't it enough what I'm having to deal with now?

-Listen here, I'm suffering just the same as you are… -He said before taking a deep pause and looking her straight in the eyes. - All of this is a curse, Christine… A curse no doubt placed by that monster, that Phantom of the opera…

-Have finally lost your mind? – Said a perplex Christine – What is this about him all of a sudden? What's he got to do with any of this?

-Don't pretend you don't know, Christine. I've noticed the way you reminisce about him… You've loved him, haven't you? You've fallen for his foul spells, and you still miss him. Every day, all of the love you lack for me… It's all because of him… He's certainly got you under some curse still, for you've rejected him… Or did you, Christine? In your heart, did you reject him? – He said as he clumsily rose up from his chair and approached her. Christine was speechless. -Admit it Christine! You allowed him into your heart and still do! You let his curse fester into our home and-

Slap. That was the only answer she gave him before leaving the house. Raoul then fell on his knees and broke uncontrollably into tears as he'd never had in his whole life. From this day forward their relationship would never be the same. If the death of their son laid the dynamite upon the bedrock of their marriage, he'd been the one who lit the fuse. In the coming years they were barely ever in the same room together, as her trips became more frequent and Raoul buried himself into his work. It seemed like she was straying farther not only from him but from the world as a whole whenever she was not performing: she spent hours locked inside what was to be the baby's room whenever the both of them were home at the same time, seemingly talking to herself. She was also constantly haunted by nightmares and often, when they got a chance to sleep in the same room together, mumbled names while sleeping, sometimes waking up while screaming them. "Gustave", "Giry" and "Erik" were the names she would more often utter in those cases, especially the latter. He once asked her to whom or what that name referred, to which she dismissively answered: "He was a friend of mine who is long gone. You never got to know him." That deeply bothered him, as he realized how much of her past and her feelings were unknown to him. He always suspected "Erik" to be some old flame of hers, but he never dared to ask if that was the case. Instead, he kept drowning his sorrows with alcohol while his reputation and his wife's affection for him gradually went down the drain.

During this period, Raoul had missed many of her presentations, but almost fifteen years to the day of their marriage she was invited to perform farther than she'd ever been: America.

For years guilt had consumed Raoul for what he'd done, but he almost never truly acted upon it towards Christine. He once halfheartedly attempted to apologize to her, but that only really put them at a state of perpetual truce. Deep down he didn't feel like he even deserved to talk to her, so he simply didn't, as he descended further into his pit of misery. Now she was set to be going to another continent for god knows how long. Raoul didn't pay much mind to it at first, it was a trip much like many others she'd partaken in, but something about traveling overseas to another continent felt very daunting to him. Not knowing when he'd have another opportunity to do so, he secretly booked a seat for himself in a performance Christine was to deliver at the Paris opera house. That place still emanated a bad aura to Raoul's eyes, but he carried on anyway.

At the performance's end he was left with tears in his eyes. Her performance gave a long absent warmth to his heart. After letting his emotions sink in, he made a decision: He was going o offer himself to travel to America with Christine, no matter the hoops he'd have to jump through in his work to make it happen. He rushed to her dressing room and knocked on her door only to be greeted by a familiar looking blonde woman who was onstage alongside Christine.

-Pardon me, is Christine in right now? I'm her husband and I wish to talk to her. – Said Raoul, confused at the sight of that woman.

-She is not in at the moment. Would you like to leave her a message? – Replied the woman, quite coldly.

-Will she return here?

-Well, yes… I'm waiting for her to return.

-In this case, would you mind if I joined you? There's something important I need to talk to her about, and I'd rather do it as soon as possible. –

-I… suppose you can. – She said before reluctantly letting him in to Christine's room.

After sitting down and getting a better look at her, Raoul finally recognized the woman: It was the Daughter of Madame Giry. It had been so long since he set foot on that opera house that he could barely remember anyone from back in the day, even though Meg didn't look a day older than the last time he'd seen her. Raoul praised her performance that night and the talked for a long while. At first, she was apprehensive and cold towards him, but soon they began to have a very amicable talk about the opera, music in general and such things. There was something that remained on the back of his mind throughout their conversation however: The phantom. If anyone knew something about him or his whereabouts after that day fifteen years ago, it was Madame Giry and/or her daughter. Likewise, another thought kept buzzing in his head: "Do you know someone named Erik?". Meg had been friends with Christine for years, it wasn't too unlikely that she knew who this Erik was and what he meant to Christine. He kept those thoughts inside his mind however, as Christine arrived, breaking their conversation.

She was visibly shocked to see him there, but she indulged him when he asked her to talk. Christine put away the small briefcase she was holding and they began to talk, still in the presence of Meg.

He proceeded to offer himself to go with Christine for the entirety of her tour through The United States. It was a short conversation, however. She reminded him of why he should stay in France. Raoul insisted but she thought it would be best if he stayed. She brought up how long her travels would be, his duties, of national importance in her words, but deep down he understood that she simply didn't want to have him around. With a heavy heart, he complied and left her room, accompanied by Meg on his way to his carriage. He went back home alone, since Christine decided to stay at the opera to sleep there; she had paperwork to sign early next morning. Arriving home, He poured himself a cup of whiskey, then another, before bursting to tears, realizing what he was doing. For years he drowned away his feelings with alcohol without realizing he was drowning himself. Now, it seemed like he couldn't stop swimming down if he tried. In fury and in tears, he took a swig directly from the bottle, before shattering it on the floor, along with half of its contents.

About a month passed since that day and it was time for Christine to travel. Raoul had varying degrees of success in tying to quit drinking, but at that day he had been sober for almost a week. He escorted her to her cruise ship and they bid their farewells to each other. Afterwards Raoul sat in the dock and watched her ship disappear below the horizon, powerless to do anything about it, except to wait.