It was quiet.
That was the first thing that Christine noticed when she stepped into her home - her family's home. She hadn't thought that she would be so fortunate to have a humble little flat like the one she called home now; at least, she hadn't considered having a flat aboveground in Paris. After her marriage to Erik, she had been content to think that she would spend her days in the home that he had made for himself beneath the Opera House, and for the longest time, that had been Erik's plan as well.
That is, before they found out about the baby.
She had had her suspicions before she knew for certain; she had ignored the nausea when it first began, passing it off as illness that would fade over time. When it persisted, though, in combination with missing her monthly cycle three months in a row, an increasing, unfamiliar tenderness in her breasts, and the slight, yet noticeable, tightening in her bodices, she knew that her hunch had been correct.
Despite knowing that she was carrying a baby - carrying Erik's baby - she hesitated to tell him, to share her joy with him, for she didn't know how he would react. Would he share her enthusiasm for the child they were expecting together? Or would his emotions take over as they so often did, sending him into a blind rage or a fit of tears that only ended in him locking himself in his music room for hours on end? The latter option was the one that frightened her; she knew that overstimulation was far from healthy for him, what with the already weakened state of his heart. So in the wake of her uncertainty, she had turned to someone who had become as much of a friend and confidante as he was for Erik - the Daroga.
She still recalled how Nadir's eyes had widened slightly when she had told him the news, followed quickly by him helping her onto the sofa in his parlour so she could explain her concerns to him.
"You must approach it delicately with him. That is the only advice I can give to you, Christine," he had said, gently holding her hand in his own. "I would be happy to be there with you to ensure that all is well."
Christine had never been so glad to have him there as she had been that evening. When she had told Erik the news, her voice as soft and gentle as she could possibly make it, he had still had an immediate outburst; he had jumped to his feet, towering over her where she sat on their sofa, and torn his mask off, demanding how she could possibly bear to bring a child into the world with the risk of it looking anything like him. But just as tears had begun to pool in her eyes, just as Nadir had stepped to his friend's side to calm him, an expression of pain had washed over her husband's face and his knees had buckled under him, his weakened heart betraying him in the moment of such intense emotions.
If Nadir had not been there, Christine did not know what she would have done. Simply sat by her husband's side on the ground as she waited for him to return to consciousness and gain even the slightest bit of strength to walk back to bed, she guessed. Thankfully, Nadir had caught him before he hit the floor and carried him to their bed, staying longer than expected to wait until his friend's eyes opened again. He had been less than pleased when Erik refused to give them permission to call a doctor but still chose to give Christine a gentle kiss on the cheek and to wish her all the best before leaving the couple to themselves.
And it was then, with Erik's emotions once more in check - after a few moments of crying and begging for Christine's forgiveness, that is, - his right hand holding tightly onto Christine's and the left, albeit weak and slightly numb, resting on her stomach, that they decided that they were going to bring their baby into the world, taking on whatever challenges the experience might throw at them.
Erik had remained hesitant about the prospect of fatherhood and the potential for his son or daughter to resemble him, but he had done his best to do away with those negative trains of thought for Christine's sake. Once he had recovered enough to be up and about again (though Christine would have much preferred that he had rested for even longer), he had returned to her with the news that he had purchased a home on the streets of Paris, not far from Nadir's flat on the Rue du Rivoli. Ecstatic at the news, Christine had jumped out of her chair and into his arms, laughing along with him as Erik carefully lifted her just off of the ground to twirl her around, sharing in his wife's joy about the new life to come for their growing family.
That had been months ago. Now they had their little flat and they had their little boy, but the noticeable absence of noise from that same boy - or his father, for that matter - was what put a frown on Christine's face as she slipped her shoes off and walked through the house. She noticed two teacups on the table in the parlour, the samovar out on the counter in the kitchen; Nadir had stopped by, then.
Still, there was no sign of Erik or their son anywhere she looked; the parlour was empty, as was Erik's study. She lingered for a moment in the doorway to the nursery. It wasn't in use just yet, as their son still slept in his bassinet in their bedroom, but she couldn't help but admire it; Erik had designed every little detail of it, from the curtains on the window down to the carpet on the floor. "For them, it has to be perfect," he had said, and perfect it was.
With a small smile on her face, Christine turned to continue her search but found her attention drawn to the soft glow of an oil lamp streaming out of the master bedroom through the door that had been left only slightly ajar. Creeping down the hall, she gently pushed open the door and couldn't stop the smile that immediately formed on her face and the warmth that flooded her chest at what she saw.
Erik stood at the foot of their bed, his back to the door, dressed in his nightshirt. The bedclothes had been pushed aside, Christine noticed, proving to her that he had actually been in bed that evening. Whether he had been reading or genuinely trying to sleep didn't matter to her; any instance of him actually being in bed instead of in his study, falling asleep at his desk, was an accomplishment in her mind.
In his arms, propped up on his shoulder, was their son, Charles, looking so small when cuddled close to him. At only three months old, he looked small even in comparison to his father's hands, though Erik's long fingers probably contributed to that.
"My greatest creation," Erik so often called him. Christine still recalled his practically palpable relief when Charles had been born and looked nothing like him, save for his pale complexion and the gold flecks in his eyes; even still, had he shared Erik's features, she had a feeling he would have loved him nonetheless.
Erik was maskless, she noticed; the pale, gaunt, noseless face that she had come to adore rather than fear leaning against the side of their baby's head as he softly hummed a lullaby, gently swaying back and forth to keep Charles asleep. He pressed the occasional gentle kiss to his son's head, whispering to him things that Christine could not hear, but knew without a doubt were words of adoration.
Not wishing to disturb the father-son pair, yet knowing that Erik was well aware of her presence, Christine quietly stepped further into the room. She managed to slip out of her dress and corset, leaving her in just her chemise and stockings. She pulled the pins out of her hair, set them on her vanity, then stepped over to her husband and wrapped her arms around his waist from behind, resting her cheek against his back. "Someone didn't want to sleep?" she asked in a hushed tone.
"Not by himself, at least. He was alright for a while, but didn't stay quite so content for very long," Erik whispered, giving his son another kiss. "I've been here for the better part of an hour; every time I try to set him down, he cries. Not that I mind holding him, of course."
Christine simply hummed in response, standing up on her tiptoes to press a kiss to her husband's cheek. "Thank you for giving him to me."
"You needn't thank me for that, dearest. That said, perhaps I'll consider the possibility of giving you another little one like him."
"Truly?" Christine breathed, watching as Erik turned to face her, a warm smile on his face. "Erik, you...I never would have thought-"
"Nor would I, but having him here now has made me reconsider," Erik replied, leaning forward and gently pressing his thin lips to her own fuller ones. "We have room here in our little home for a growing family, and I would be happy to see it happen."