Roses Blooming

Erik, Christine, Arabelle, and Nadir are on their way to America. What awaits them? And what happens when another de Chagny comes into their lives?

Disclaimer; I own nothing, but Arabelle, and Zarifa, Phantom, Philippe, Jillianna, and a whole bunch of other random people who will all be seen in later chapters.

And now, the story starts!

On the Horizon

Erik sighed. Three weeks at sea, and he was longing for a change of scenery.

"Everything's changed, hasn't it?" he sighed when he felt Nadir walk up next to him.

"It isn't necessarily for the worst, Erik," the Persian reminded him.

"Of course it's not," Erik agreed. "I wasn't implying that, daroga. I'm merely amazed at how drastic the change has been. I've known since before I met Christine that something monumental was coming." He laughed lightly. "Who would have thought it would be this?"

Nadir smiled. Erik had changed so much since Christine. He was kinder now, warmer, gentler, and much harder to anger. Perhaps his health would be next to improve in this new life.

"And is it what you expected?" Nadir asked, gazing out at the waters.

"No," Erik replied. "And wipe that look of horror off your face, Nadir; I don't mean that I hate this life. Quite the contrary, really. I'd always thought it would feel artificial, if it ever occurred at all. And it feels so real; so incredibly, disastrously, beautifully real, sometimes I close my eyes and expect to wake in my coffin."

Nadir looked out at the sea. He could easily hear Erik's unspoken words, the silent end to his last sentence; alone in the darkness, again. But Erik had always been a bit easier to read, when his mask was off, of course. Even through his body posture, his moods could be read, at times.

"You know, Nadir," Erik sighed, "I believe this may all be dream after all. Perhaps I did die the night Christine came to me. Perhaps this is my Hell; finally obtaining what I always longed for, only to realize it was merely an illusion. What torturous pain that would be..."

He looked away, and Nadir realized that this was one of Erik's incredibly rare vulnerable moments. The Persian hadn't witnessed many of these moments, and he treated them as delicately as possible; it was in these moments especially that Erik's moods went from one extreme to the other, and that murderous red tinted his vision.

"This is no illusion, Erik," Nadir said quietly. "You have earned this."

"How?" Erik scoffed. "By being a ghost for twenty years? A murdering monster? 'Angel of Doom' hardly seems to cry 'you'll get a reward in the end for this'."

"But you never lost sight of yourself, my friend," Nadir responded. "You only did what you had to. Think of it. What would have become of Christine had you died in Persia? And don't say she'd be with the viscount, Erik. He'd never have recognized her. It was her voice - tutored by you - that struck the cord of memory."

Erik sighed and shook his head, a small, almost sad grin on his face.

"If you are right," he whispered, "I can only hope it lasts."

The thought of what could have been Christine's fate - alone, unknown, forever lost - made him ache for his precious wife. Oh, he loved her! And through her, he had Arabelle, and he longed to hold his baby girl in his arms.

"Where are you going?" Nadir asked as Erik turned.

"To see my family," Erik replied simply, offering a small smile as he walked away.

When he reached his room, he could see through the door he cracked open Christine sitting at the porthole window with Arabelle. She was reading a story to the young girl.

His heart ached; he suddenly felt like an intruder, just watching them, but he was unwilling to break the moment. Christine saw him, though, and she smiled, setting Arabelle on the bed and opening her arms for her husband.

Erik held her to him, and kissed her soundly. Christine picked up at once on his almost desperate mood, and frowned in concern.

"Erik, what is it?" she asked worriedly.

He shook his head.

"It's nothing, mon ange," he assured, walking to where Arabelle sat, and scooping her into his arms. "Just the silly musings of an old man."

Christine sighed.

"You're not old, Erik. You're barely fifty two."

Erik scoffed, then pressed Arabelle to his chest and stroked her hair.

"That's old enough, love," he sighed.

Christine frowned again.

"Erik, something is the matter," she said firmly. "Please tell me!"

Erik shook his head, and kissed her forehead.

"I have told you, Christine," he said gently. He smiled, and the dejectedness seemed to leave him. "I just needed to see you and Arabelle."

Christine smiled at knowing that she could make his melancholy vanish.

"I'm here," she promised. "For always."

Erik smiled slightly.

"Thank you," he whispered, sitting at the porthole, and pointing to a seagull on the water. "Do you see, my loves?"

Christine laughed lightly, and sat next to him as Ayesha curled up on the rounded window sill.

Another week passed, and with it's end came the roughest waves of the journey thus far.

At least Erik wasn't the only one who was almost constantly nauseous in the following week.

The rolling seas turned his stomach, and he vomited into the toilet.

Christine gently rubbed his back, and fought back a laugh at a particular thought that floated through her head; now he knows how it was for me with Arabelle.

Erik groaned, and let Christine pull him close to her, so that his head rested on her shoulder.

"Do you feel better, aimer?" she whispered, running her hand gently through his soft, thin hair.

Erik nodded slowly (he'd learned last time that nodding too quickly would make him dizzy, or rather, doing anything too quickly just after vomiting made him dizzy - not to mention aggravate his current headache), and buried his face in Christine's neck.

"I love you, Christine," he sighed, voice muffled.

Christine kissed his temple, and wiped a bit of sweat from his forehead with a cloth.

"And I, you, Erik, love," she replied gently, pressing him closer. "Why don't you come lay down?" She pulled him to his feet and directed him back to their bed, where she sat beside him, and stroked his hair gently.

"How much longer?" Erik groaned.

Christine smiled sympathetically.

"It will pass, Erik," she assured him.

She stood, and went to the bathroom, returning with a wet cloth, which she draped over Erik's forehead.

Erik smiled, and took her hand, gently kissing her knuckles.

"You are wonderful, my love," he sighed.

The boat rolled suddenly, and Erik's eyes went wide as his stomach lurched. He stumbled quickly back into the bathroom, and heaved.

Christine cringed at the sound, and stood, walking to his side. She knelt beside him and rubbed his back again, humming softly under her breath as she rested her cheek against his shoulder.

Erik's heart beat heavily, and he groaned, sagging against the wall, one hand resting on his chest as he took several deep breaths.

Christine's insides clenched.

Please, God, no!

"Erik?" she asked, almost frantic. "Erik, what is it? What's wrong?"

Her hand clutched the fabric of his shirt on his shoulder, concern and frightened tears welling in her eyes.

"I'm alright," he assured quietly. "Just need a moment..."

"Erik..." Christine whispered sadly. She turned and leaned against his shoulder, sitting against the wall with him, and gently stroking his hair. "Do you want the medicine?"

Erik shook his head.

"It's fine," he repeated gently, kissing her temple. "Thank you though, my love. For caring so. I love you."

"I love you, as well, Erik," Christine replied, nuzzling his neck. "You truly make me worry, sometimes."

"I'm sorry, Christine."

Erik's voice was soft and sincere, truly contrite over worrying her.

"Erik, mon ange de musique, it's hardly your fault," Christine countered, pulling him to his feet, and leading him back to the bed. She let him lay down, then tucked the blankets up around him tenderly. "Don't you get upset for my sake, love."

Erik closed his eyes, smiling, and leaned into her hand when she stroked his hair back from his forehead.

Now I know how Ayesha feels when Christine or I pet her.

Cold winds blew in by September's end. No snow fell, but the air was chill.

Erik stood on the deck, Arabelle warmly dressed, and held in his arms.

A single seagull flew overhead, and Arabelle laughed, pointing.

"Birdie!" Arabelle squealed, calpping gloved hands.

Erik smiled, and kissed her dark curls.

"Ah, mon pur précieux peu d'amour," he sighed, burying his face in her black hair.

Arabelle let out a sigh of her own, and wound her arms around Erik's neck.

"Papa," she breathed, smiling and closing her eyes, cheek resting over her father's heart.

Erik pressed her close, and stroked her hair.

"You are my life, little angel," he whispered. "My very life."

Arabelle shifted, and nuzzled closer to Erik's chest with a yawn rather large for one so small. Erik's heart melted, and he kissed her head again, starting to sing softly.

"Speed bonny boat like a bird on a wing.
'Onward' the sailors cry.
Carry the lad that is born to be king,
over the sea to Skye.

Loud the waves howl,
loud the winds roar.
Thunderclaps rend the air.
Baffled, our foes,
stand on the shore.
Follow, they will not dare.

Speed bonny boat like a bird on a wing.
'Onward' the sailors cry.
Carry the lad that is born to be king,
over the sea to Skye.

Though the waves leap,
soft shall we sleep,
close in a royal bed.
Rocked in the deep,
Papa will keep,
watch by your weary head.

Oh, speed bonny boat like a bird on a wing.
'Onward' the sailors cry.
Carry the lad that is born to be king,
over the sea to Skye.

Carry the lass of my heart who is queen,
over the sea
to Skye..."

Of course, he'd changed the last bit, about a lass, and his heart, but that was what he felt. Arabelle meant the world and more to him. She was the proof of how much Christine loved him. She was a part of him. He'd never thought he'd have children - never had the audacity to even fantasize about such things - and Arabelle was, in his eyes, nothing short of a miracle he did not deserve.

The song he'd sung he learned when he'd returned to Normandy, in the years beofore the opera house. It was longer, going on about the battle of Culloden in 1745, and talking of the resulting death and torment the Scottish people had consequently undergone, but Arabelle was too young to hear that. So he stopped on only the second verse.

He stood on the deck at the railing for a long time, watching the early afternoon sun sparkle over the water. In his arm's, Arabelle slept peacefully. It was her naptime, after all.

Her soft little mouth was slightly open, her hands tucked around his neck, stray curls falling over her face.

"Dearest," Erik breathed, kissing her temple and resting his head against her's.

He felt her presence just moments before the slender arm curled around his shoulders, and his love's head pressed against his chest next to Arabelle's.

"Christine," Erik smiled, bending his head to catch her lips in a long, gentle, loving kiss.

"So this is where you've been," Christine sighed, returning her head to his chest. "Your cat misses you."

Erik smiled.

"I think my wife misses me," he smirked. "Come. I think this voyage has made us all require afternoon rests."

Christine smiled. Likely there would be more of cuddling and kissing, hands in hair, than sleeping.

Erik smiled as they walked down to their room.

Arabelle he placed in the crib when they arrived, and sat on the bed. He took off his shoes and vest, and pulled the blanket over his lower body, holding open his arms for Christine to do the same.

She went straight to him, and curled into his side, her legs under the blankets.

Erik held her close, breathing in the soft scent of his hair.

"I love you, Chrisitne," he whispered. "I love you."

Tears in his eyes, Erik stroked back Christine's hair, taking a cloth, and wiping a bit of sweat from her forehead.

It was the middle of October now, and Christine had caught a tiny cold. Erik's reaction had been very strong, and made Christine very worried for him. He had nearly had a panick attack when he learned she was ill, and since then, he'd been tense, and frantic over her. Though the cold was weak, and had lasted only two days so far, with the fever already started to come down slightly, Erik fretted, and fussed over her in obvious concern.

"Erik," Christine soothed, reaching up and gently rubbing his arm, "I'm alright. It's only a little cold, my darling. Please don't worry so. You know it isn't good for your health."

"Oh, damn my health!" Erik snapped. "You're ill, and it is all my fault!"

Christine took his hand with one hand, and with the other, cupped his cheek.

"Erik, it's not your fault," she assured him. "And how can you not care about yourself? You must, my love. I don't want to lose you. Not now. You're looking too frazzled, mon bien ange. Why don't you lie down with me for a little?"

Erik was just too tired to fight her tonight, so he lay down beneath the blankets, and pulled Christine next to him, making sure she was warm, and covered well.

"I am so sorry, Christine," he whispered, holding her tight in trembling arms. "I should have seen that you were feeling poor! I had plenty of time to see before it came to this!"

"Erik, please," Christine insisted. "You'll worry yourself right into an attack, my love." She could feel the tensness of his muscles beneath his thin skin, and in his chest, she could hear his heartbeat; faster than normal, the skip bordering on irratic. It really wasn't good for Erik to worry so much.

Erik took a deep breath, and let it out slowly, eyes closed as his shoulders shook slightly.

Chrisine coughed lightly, and Erik was up at once, and back at her side in a moment with a handkerchief in case she needed it.

"Christine..." he moaned, running a hand over her warm face.

"I'm alright, Erik," Christine said gently. "I'll be better soon, I promise you, love. Now lay down with me before you collapse."

Worried, but not wanting to upset Christine, Erik returned to laying beside her, holding his wife close, and kissing her nose.

As Christine had assured him, she was better in the next two days, though Erik would not let her out of their room until he was certain she was better.

When he took her up on deck, Arabelle in Christine's arms, Nadir was standing at the bow, watching the distant horizon.

"Hello, Nadir," Christine greeted with a smile.

Nadir turned, and beamed.

"Good to see you up, Christine," he said.

Erik nodded in agreement, and kissed Christine's temple lovingly.

"Has it really been almost four months on this ship?" Chrisine asked, looking at the two men and her daughter.

It was mid-November now, and soon they would be hitting land.

"I know, my love," Erik smiled, wrapping an arm around Christine's and rubbing gently.

"A new life awaits," Nadir sighed, looking back out at the ocean. It would be another week before they saw land, but soon they would be in America. Soon they would begin completely new lives.

Chapter one of the sequel is complete! The next should be out soon, I hope. I hope you all liked it, and review, please! Reviews make me giggle...

Oh! Did anyone catch the chapter title? It's a throw-back to my Lord of the Rings obsession. heh...