Author's note: Hi all, I'm reposting this chapter after I caught a continuity error (re: which room she was in,) and after a reviewer smartly pointed out some version discrepancies. For the record, it was a sentence in Leroux that inspired this story, and this piece aims to fit into that scene without altering later parts of the novel. My writing style is, however, probably more influenced by Kay. I have used the ALW half-mask, simply because I'd like Erik's emotions to be a little more visible to Christine. Ok, I think that's everything, up with this chapter, and the next one about 3/4s done. -Ver 1/16/2006

Original Author's note: Well, it's only taken me four years to get around to writing new Phanfic again. This will probably be a two part story, expect the second chapter later this week. The inspiration for this piece came from the original novel - certain sentences have always made me wonder where there story could have gone, had they been explored. With apologies to Leroux for slightly editing the excerpt that starts it all.

"Mademoiselle Daae," the Persian declared, "the monster bound you...and he shall unbind you. You have only to play the necessary part! Remember that he loves you!"

"Alas!" she replied. "Am I likely to forget it!"

"Remember it and smile to him...entreat him...tell him that your bonds hurt you."

But Christine Daae said:

"Hush!...I hear something in the wall on the lake!...It is he!...Go away! Go away! Go away!"

Silence.

Christine leaned forward, her heart flapping frantically, straining to hear, hoping for the sound of Raoul and the Persian fleeing, escaping, something. They had to go away, she wanted all of this to go away, wished she'd never believed in angels, wished she'd never lost her scarf in the sea... and the tears streamed down her face anew and she couldn't even raise her hand to wipe her eyes, and she cried out a defeated, choking, sob.

It echoed, and then there was silence again.

She lowered her head to where her wrist was bound to the arm of the chair, and attempted to dry her face, to lay forehead on forearm and breathe slow and calm her pulse. But the situation didn't go away when she closed her eyes. Erik was coming back. She'd heard him. Heard the footsteps along the lakeshore, he couldn't be far, and he mustn't find them there.

Her mind spiraled despair and fear. He'd been so angry when he left, but it was like infection on the surface of a wound - it was secondary. She had hurt him. She had thought to just run away and avoid the terrible moment of breaking his heart and in the process she'd done worse. And now Erik was raging and sobbing and oh, he had always hated Raoul. He mustn't know Raoul was there! Raoul, so earnest, he'd followed her down to save her but she wasn't worth saving. She wasn't the happy viscomtesse Raoul thought she'd be, and she didn't deserve Erik's deep, if dark, devotion and didn't know what to do, and she hated herself. And oh, god, Raoul had a pistol. He'd already tried to shoot Erik once, and surely Erik would attack him on sight and one of them might die tonight and all of this, was because of her. It was all her fault.

Christine was going to be ill.

She closed her eyes, willing her stomach not to heave, willing her heart to slow, to stop even, something to escape this confrontation.

The sound of footsteps echoed in the hallway outside the Louis-Philippe room.

She drew her breath in sharply. Slowly, she raised her head and listened.

She could hear each heel to toe noise upon the ground, and the floorboard creak. Erik's steps normally snapped, he walked quickly, but these noises approached in a way that was almost weary. Closer and closer the noises drew, and then... nothing. Christine eyed the door, with nothing to do but wait, and the clock on the mantelpiece seemed to thunder with its slow ticking. The minutes drew out so long, and her head was spinning; no sound but her own teary breathing. Had she dreamt the footsteps coming towards her? Had she imagined Raoul and that Persian man had ventured into Erik's home?

The doorknob turned, and the door swung open.

Erik stood, framed by darkness, no light in the room behind him, his posture stiff. His clothes appeared to be wet - the white of his dress shirt near-translucent, clinging damply to his skin, and he almost seemed to shiver where he stood.

His eyes met hers, but he seemed to be looking at her, regarding her from a distance, as though she weren't staring desperately back at him.

"Erik?" she asked, weakly.

He closed his eyes.

"Erik? Where did you go? Why are... were you in the lake?"

He opened his eyes and looked at her wearily, and walked into the room.

"I wanted to be alone," he said distractedly, turning his back to her and bending over the fireplace. "I just wanted... I wanted my home to be safe, and to do that, I had to make it a fortress. And that still didn't stop them from looking for me. I don't ask them to look at me! I don't ask for bodies in my lake."

She drew her breath in sharply. He didn't move, and kept talking with a calmness she didn't know whether to attribute to fatigue or some inner clockwork of his methodical brain.

"I wanted nothing, and no one," he continued, picking up wood and fuel from the hearth and adding them to the low burning flames in the fireplace until they blazed tall. The heat chafed her cheeks from even across the room, and still he stood unflinching in front of it, adding more logs to the fire, not looking at her. "And then I wanted you. I didn't even know what it was, I'd never felt - never known - I just wanted you here. With me. And now -"

"Erik!" she cried

He looked over his shoulder, and finally seemed to see her. He looked down

"Please," she said, "Please, will you untie me?" She couldn't hear it again. She had to get his mind off of her betrayal, had to get him to untie her, then she could... she didn't know.

"Your forehead does seem to have stopped bleeding," he whipped around and strode towards her, his voice suddenly tinged with a humor that was clear, cold, and cruel. "Were you thinking of giving it another try on the wall over there? Because I'd just as soon leave you tied up and save myself the cleaning. If you're looking for gestures to hurt me, you did far better with your plans to run away with that boy than your ineffective little attempt to off yourself."

The tears slipped down her cheeks - had they ever stopped? - and she stared at him in half indignance and whole horror.

"I must admit," he went on, his voice tinged with a sardonic flippancy that was more painful than any of his rages, "that normally saying, 'I would rather die than be with you,' would be rather damaging to a man who wants nothing in this world save yourself. But Christine, really, your methods! If you'll pardon my saying so, death by headache is a rather laughable demise." There was no laughter in his voice.

"Stop..." she said, her voice low and thick in her throat.

"Would you rather talk about your attempt to kill me, then, Christine? A waiting carriage and boy with luggage and a broken promise to come back and give me an honest answer."

"Stop..." she said again, her voice rising, wavering.

"...Simple, not terribly well planned, and yet - I must give you credit Christine. Nothing you've done so far - not taking off my mask, not plotting with the managers to betray me, none of it has reached that level of cruelty. I've spent decades years being persecuted, and chased and absolutely hated, and yet you were able to top all of that, and nearly unconsciously, effortlessly. 'Let's just run away.' Hats off to you, Mademoiselle!"

"Stop!" she cried out, furious at him, at herself.

"I couldn't stop you!" he lashed forward, suddenly looming over her as she leaned back, hurling words like a snake spits venom. "I gave you everything - I would have done anything - and I still couldn't keep you from leaving me. From betraying me! Did you think your boy gave any of those gendarmes the order to bring me in alive?"

She couldn't meet his gaze any longer, couldn't dare see his eyes raging . She looked at the floor as the tears slipped noiselessly down her cheeks. Erik stepped backward.

"I almost wish you'd try to deny it," he said quietly.

Her heart, surely it was stopping, twisting, something, the waves of shame and regret slamming her in the chest but all she could do was squint her eyes, couldn't even hide her face, wretched, wretched ropes preventing her. She had to...

She lifted her head and met his gaze and said, weakly, but truly, "I'm sorry."

He made no movement or sound.

Christine sat up taller, and tried to read his regard, but his eyes were as much of a mask as the porcelain. She just... she had to get him to untie her. Then she could... she could free Raoul, let him go somewhere safe, so she could talk to Erik, so she could... so she could explain. Try to explain. If she could even understand, herself.

She hung her head defeatedly, her matted hair falling in front of her eyes.

"Will you please untie me," she said in a low, ragged voice, fully expecting him to deny her again.

But he said nothing, and she raised her eyes to him to find a strange, uneasy expression on the unmasked half of his face.

"What will you do if I untie you?" he said flatly, "Will you try to kill yourself again?"

"No!" she said quickly, too quickly. She took a breath. "I do not wish to die."

"What would you do if I untied you?" he said again, his beautiful voice sounding hollow. "Would you scream? Would you run? Or would you..."

With every word, Christine's vague sense of dread rose, coalesced, and seemed to almost sit physically upon her heart, her lungs, so heavily...

He paused, looking almost nervous, and then spoke quickly. "What would you do, Christine?"

She realized, as her fears fused and became whole, that the situation had lead to where she could do exactly what the Persian man had proposed. That she could... that she could twist his affections for her to get him to unbind her. She could say something gentle and endearing. Or enticing. She could plead in a way to prey on his feelings, and oh, god, she felt ill again. She couldn't. She'd been so terrible to him already. This was all so wretched and wrong and...

He seemed to be looking at something far away, beyond the walls of the small bedroom she'd come to regard as her own.

"I..." she began, her voice wavering.

He continued to look away from her and down, his head bent almost as though he was bracing himself for a blow.

"I would sit, and I would listen," she said in a rush, pushing her heart into her words. "Please, I won't run, and I can try to... to explain. But I can't do it like this," she said, lifting her wrists the half inch the ropes would allow and then letting them fall to the chair again. Her arms stabbed with pain as her wrist bones struck the wood, but she went on,"You say all you wanted was for me to come back and give you an honest answer, but what honesty can I give you when I am bound?"

A long pause, and then he knelt at her feet, his head hanging low. She saw his shoulders rise as a took a deep breath, and then slowly released it. Christine's heart wrenched again, fearing that he wept, but his hands rustled at the cuff of his pants and then he looked up, holding a dagger.