Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to these characters or any settings / songs / places. This is merely a fanmade writing experiment and is in no way profit making.

The Phantom and the Moppet

Chapter Forty Seven

'See Daroga? Do I not show you the very best views in life?' Erik whispered jokingly. He and Nadir were stood in the flies and Erik winced as Carlotta murdered Elissa's role in the final rehearsal before opening night that evening.

'It would be a much better view if we were sat safely in one of the boxes. Or better yet on the ground.' Nadir muttered uncomfortable as he clung to the side rail. He had never been a great fan of heights.

'Now don't be a baby Nadir. It is only high.' Erik grinned enjoying his friend's discomfort. 'Besides I just have one last task to tip the scales and then we can go and watch the rest of the rehearsal from box five.' Erik said quietly, concentrating on the stage below and untying a rope. 'Come on.' Erik breathed encouragingly. 'Just a little more….'

Nadir looked from Erik's absorbed expression to the stage below. He could see Carlotta strutting about the stage. 'Erik what are you going…?' Nadir paused with a gasp as he watched Erik triumphantly release the rope he held. Nadir wanted to observe what Erik had done but found himself unceremoniously dragged away by the silent Phantom. A loud crash and then the diva's howls of rage bellowing throughout theatre accompanied them as they went.

Once they were safely ensconced in box five Nadir looked questioningly at Erik to see him hold up his hand demanding silence as Erik focused on the drama unfolding on the stage. 'Go on.' Erik whispered and Nadir saw he was encouraging the furious Diva in her rant.

'These things do happen.' They heard Armand Moncharmin sooth but this seemed to be the final straw for Carlotta who with one last insult to the managers stormed from the stage and out of the theatre.

'You see Nadir. A play within an opera. I direct and my players perform. Now Minette plays her part. See?' Erik smiled smugly as they watched Minette scoff the idea the temperamental Diva would return. 'And I even cast a minor role for our dear Meg.' Erik said smugly as they heard Meg say.

'Christine Daae could sing it.' Meg suggested eagerly.

'And now for our star, Miss Christine Daae.' Erik whispered, his heart suddenly in his throat. He saw the terrified look Christine shot Minette and flinched along with Christine as the ballet mistress banged her cane. Erik could feel Christine's nervousness as she moved to take the stage. 'Christine…' Erik instinctively called out using the connection between. Then Erik threw his voice so only Christine could hear. 'I am here. You can do this.' Erik reassured and was rewarded with her answering, beaming smile and slight nod of her head. Erik watched transfixed as she took a deep breath and began to sing.

'Think of me. Think of me fondly….' Christine sang and even to Nadir's untrained ear it was obvious that Christine was a far more talented performer than Carlotta could ever hope to be. Christine was simply a pleasure to listen to. Nadir turned to compliment both Maestro and newly discovered Diva and stifled a laugh. The fixated, besotted and satisfied look on Erik's face as Christine sang would have horrified Erik if he'd been aware just how easy he was to read in that moment. Mask or no, as Erik silently mouthed the words along with Christine, (completely unaware of anything or anyone else!), it was clear to Nadir that the Phantom of the Opera was hopelessly in love.

'Knock, knock. Can I come in?' Meg asked, making the question redundant as she entered the room and closed the door behind her. 'I hope you don't mind me intruding Miss Daae but I wondered if you wanted any help getting ready.' Meg asked in faux humble voice, dropping an exaggerated curtsy her eyes full of laughter.

'I believe I can let you help me dress.' Replied Christine is a haughty imitation of Carlotta, holding her nose in the air. Christine met Meg's gaze and both girls dissolved into giggles as they hugged.

'Oh Christine I can't believe you have your own dressing room. You were amazing this morning! And tonight you will be a star! I can't wait to see Carlotta's face when she knows how wonderful you are and everyone is screaming La Daae. Are you nervous? Excited? What did Erik say after you wowed everyone this….' Meg's rapid inquisition was interrupted as Christine laughed and hugged her again.

'Thank you, dear sister but one question at a time please.' Christine smiled, pensively. Christine was still trying to catch her breath. Despite her years of training and longing for this very moment the minute Meg had said that morning 'Christine Daae could sing it.' Christine had choked. She would have run from the stage in fright but Madam Giry had banged her cane freezing her in place. Her jitters tormented. "You are mad to think you can sing in front of all these people!" A full blown panic attack loomed but then… Erik was there. She heard his call, felt his presence and the connection between them and that was reassurance itself. Yet she could not help her grin as he'd whispered in her ear and Christine suddenly knew she could do this. Taking a deep breath it had been no effort to open her mouth and belt out the aria they had long practised.

'Helllloooo.' Meg intruded on Christine's wondering thoughts waving a hand in front of her face. 'Where did you go?' Meg asked amused. Fairly sure she knew the reason for the dopey grin on her best friends face.

'I am sorry Meg. I was thinking about this morning. It is all a bit overwhelming I guess. For so long we have planned and trained for me to sing and now the moment is here I have to confess I have butterflies. 'Christine confided, as the enormity of singing before a large audience in just a few hours revived her insecurities.

'Christine you have a fantastic voice and they will be all standing in the aisles tonight.' Meg encouraged.

'That's what worries me as they stampede for a refund.' Christine jested, self mockingly.

'Christine Daae! You don't really believe that do you?' Meg asked concerned.

'No. Not really Meg.' Christine admitted grudgingly. 'I know I am ready. Erik would not let me sing otherwise. It's just so much has happened so quickly. My head is still spinning.' Christine smiled ruefully.

'Well between rats, itching powder and falling scenery things have been fairly on the go.' Meg chuckled.

'Erik meant no ill by his actions.' Christine snapped, glaring at Meg instantly on the defensive at the insinuated slur against Erik.

'Oh calm down Christine I know that.' Meg said rolling her eyes at Christine's over reaction. 'What I meant is a lot has happened in the last week. You have only just returned to the ballet two days ago yet tonight you will be the lead soprano. It would be weird if you were not a little unsure and nervous.' Meg smiled sympathetically.

'I am sorry Meg.' Christine smiled sheepishly. 'You are right everything does seemed to have changed this last week. Once Erik explained his plans to me and we talked it over. We agreed it best that I return to the ballet a few days before so I could observe Carlotta's blocking but also to get back to the feel of the stage before any coup was staged.' Christine smiled wryly. 'You may have noticed my rusty ballet was not improved being Carlotta's close spectator.' Christine laughed and Meg joined in.

'No these last days have not been your most graceful I'll admit.' Meg chuckled. 'In fact Mom said it was lucky you were to sing else she would have had to drop you from this production.' Meg grinned.

Christine laughed even harder. 'I am not surprised. I was shocking.' She giggled, then sobered. 'Do you think I'll do as badly tonight?' Christine asked suddenly nervous again.

'Are you kidding? You will knock them dead.' Meg supported. 'We both will.' She added hopefully.

'Oh Meg you must think me a selfish fiend as it is your big night as well. Though I know you will be amazing as always. You were born to dance.' Christine enthused.

'Thank you, Christine. We both have to prove to Erik he was right to trust us tonight.' Meg said nervous herself now. Erik, via the Phantom, had secured Meg a small solo dance part during the opening scene of Hannibal. Meg was as determined as Christine not to let Erik down.

'We have so much to thank him for. He has done far too much this week.' Christine worried thinking back over the last week. Christine had kept her word and other than suggesting she delay her return a few days, (whilst Christine watched rehearsals from box five to study every one's place on stage), she had obeyed Erik's every command. She had gone out of her way to make him smile and felt a wondrous battle won every time she made him laugh. Christine battled to control her giddy reactions at Erik's sensuous smile and hearing his provocative laughter. Secretly she hoarded their beauty and her own risqué longings they inspired. Though they could not combat the loneliness or emptiness of her nights! Nor did they ease the awkward moment that had sprung between them every night as she and Erik retired to bed. Christine could see how Erik longed each night to ask to sleep with him again. Christine ached for him to do so! But Erik's insecurities had prevented him from trying to ask again and for this Christine was truly grateful. She hated that Erik doubted himself but was sure if he plucked up enough courage to ask that she would be unable to resist him. So each night she avoided his gaze lest he see her desire, briefly kissed his cheek and fled to her room. This there only blip in their happiness until ….

'Including dropping a sandbag today.' Meg grinned, almost shouting as she repeated the sentence for the third time. 'Well good riddance to bad rubbish I say.' Meg continued, shaking her head in mock despair now she had her sister's attention again.

'Part of me does feel bad about ousting Carlotta.' Christine admitted, flushing a little guiltily for both her her wondering thoughts and part in overthrowing Carlotta. 'But mostly I am excited about tonight and cannot wait to walk out on the stage. Does that make me a bad person?' Christine asked, worried at how easy it was to ignore her plotting.

'No it makes you an honest one.' Meg tried to cheer. A change of topic was called for Meg thought. There was no way she would let Christine feel guilty for getting rid of that cow Carlotta. 'Why this dressing room? The managers were so pathetically relieved they would not have to refund everyone's money you could have had their office if you had asked.' Meg laughed, and was delighted to see that dreamy look cross Christine's face and guessed that 'Erik' was behind it.

'Ah well there is a good reason for this room.' Christine smiled. 'I bet you cannot guess it.' Christine grinned, deciding Erik would not mind if she shared this secret with Meg.

'Mmmm it is the closest to one of Erik's secret passages?' Meg guessed and laughed at Christine's look of amazement.

'How can you possibly know about the mirror? Erik only told me today!' Christine asked shocked.

'Mirror? I don't know...' Meg stopped and burst out laughing. 'Of course! I should have known. I guessed it was this not so obvious room you choose as it would be easy for Erik to get in and out of. Though you are right I would never have guessed the mirror was a door.' Meg smiled as she walked to inspect it. 'So clever. You can't tell.' Meg admired, and laughed again at Christine's expression.

'Why would you... ' Christine began flabbergasted.

'Oh come on Christine it's not so difficult to work out. If not the mirror, Erik would have some way or another into this room. Let's face it. We cannot keep you two apart.' Meg teased and was delighted to see Christine blush. 'In fact I am surprised Erik is not here now. It is not like him to leave you. Especially considering this is your big night.' Meg mused.

'Meg… Erik...' Christine began but faltered unsure what she wanted to say. Part of her desperately wanted to confide her feelings for Erik but another part shied away from admitting to anyone but her angel how she felt. Christine was also sure that once she confessed her feelings out loud they would be even harder to ignore. 'Erik said he had some errands to run and Selina has been in and out altering costumes all afternoon. So Erik promised to be back before the curtain rises.' Christine evaded.

'Well that makes sense. It would be hard to explain the Phantom's presence whilst you had your fittings. Even though I am sure he has an opinion on them.' Meg laughed.

'I am very sure something will not be right.' Christine chuckled, relieved Meg had steered the topic away from her and Erik.

'I am surprised though that Erik let the seam mistress keep him away. Today of all days I thought nothing would part you.' Meg dug, closely watching the way Christine's breath hitched and her cheeks flamed again.

'Yes well Erik….' Christine drifted to halt unsure how much she should… She could say. Her mind wandered back to their encounter earlier and her heart raced again.

The exultant expression Erik wore as he and Nadir entered her dressing room once she had secured her place as the new Diva scrambled her thoughts and had her pulse racing before he even said a word. She could feel how proud and happy he was and as usual all her promises and good intentions dissolved at his smile. All it took was a simple look from Erik for her soul to call out and long for his. Erik had said very little as they stood gazing at each other. Nadir had something, 'Congratulations she thought?', but she had only had eyes for Erik. Nadir must have made some excuse for he left after a few minutes and she and Erik were alone.

'Do you like your dressing room?' Erik had asked and her heart had leapt as the raspy sexiness of his voice.

'I love it.' Christine had breathed, longing to say 'I love you.'

'Do you want to know a secret?' Erik had almost whispered and Christine found she could only nod in answer. Somehow they were only a few inches apart and Christine could not help but lean closer. So she jumped, startled as Erik whirled and walked past her to the mirror to show her the secret passageway that lay behind and how to open the door.

She had tried to mask her disappointment but she was no Phantom and Erik instantly saw something was wrong. 'Was is it Christine? You do not mind the passage do you?' Erik had looked crestfallen and Christine had quickly tried to reassure him.

'Of course not angel. It is a genius and excellent surprise. It will mean you will be able to come and go as you please and no one will know you are here with me.' Christine smiled, hoping the yearning she felt was not written plainly on her face. Erik's face had become his usual mask as he asked.

'You do not think… I mean you know I would never spy ...' Erik had flushed and Christine had rushed forward and took his hand. Not only wanting to reassure but also to touch him.

'Oh Erik, you cannot think I believe that? For goodness sake we live together. We have shared a bed! How can you think I would believe you so sly?' Christine asked then felt her cheeks burn as she realised she had raised the taboo issue between them. Time seemed to cease in the silence that followed. Christine tried desperately to read his expression but he was wearing his damn mask and his Phantom shield and Christine saw nothing but an inexplicable burning in his gaze. She saw him swallow and take a deep breath but whatever he was about to say was interrupted as they heard a knock at the door.

'Miss Daae? It is Selina. Is it OK if I come in? I need to come in to fit your costumes.' They had both jumped at the knock and had moved away from each other. Now Erik grinned ruefully at her though the smile never reached his eyes.

'I shall leave you, La Daae as a Diva must have a proper wardrobe.' Erik whispered. He moved to leave, then paused and took and gave her hand the softest of kisses. The mirror was open and he halfway through before Christine instinctively called out.

'Erik!' It had come out as a strangled whisper and Christine could not stop her hand reaching out to him or her tears from falling. Unable to explain the sudden sense of loss she felt.

'Miss Daae? Are you in there?' Selina called again.

'One… One moment please.' Christine had managed to husk. Erik had frozen as she called his name and slowly turned but was back at her side in a flash when he saw her tears. He caught one with his finger and brushed a curl behind her ear. Her skin sizzled where he touched and Christine could not check her adoring smile.

'I will be back before you go on.' Erik smiled and this time it lit his whole face. 'I promise.' He whispered as he once again gently kissed her hand then was gone before Christine could blink. The mirror was shut and left Christine staring at her own sorry reflection.

She looked at the same reflection now and saw the same painful, wistful look in her own eyes as she once more became aware of Meg stood beside her. Her sister was studiously watching her expression in the mirror.

'You love him? Don't you?' Meg asked softly.

Christine wanted to shout YES! It took all her self-control not to break down and sob into Meg's arms seeing her sister's loving and supportive look. 'I… Erik is my best friend of course I love him.' Christine said and her temper flared at Meg's mocking eye roll. 'I'm not in love….' Christine's ire fizzled as the lie stuck in her throat. Christine could no more deny her feelings for Erik than she could admit them. Torn, dejected and seeing the hurt look on Meg's face at her avoidance Christine babbled. 'IF I was 'in love with' Erik... And I am not saying I am but IF I was… Don't you…. Well shouldn't…. Should not he…. Well wouldn't Erik be the one I discuss it with?' Christine evaded, silently pleading for Meg to let it go.

Meg could see Christine was suffering and desperately wanted to drop the subject. What Meg could not understand was how the two smartest people she knew could be so incredibly stupid?! How was it possible that Erik could not see that Christine adored him?! Yet even more shockingly how could Christine not see Erik worshipped the ground she walked on?! The Phantom might think he was oh so mysterious and elusive but it was obvious when you saw the way Erik looked at Christine that he was head over heels in love. Meg opened her mouth to tell Christine this when the door opened and her Mother walked in making both girls jump guiltily and whirl around to face her.

'Ah there you are! Meg Giry are you a dancer?' Madam Giry barked in frustration. Meg's had been the only decent performance in rehearsal as the other ballet rats had been a lamentable mess. 'God help them tonight!' Minette thought wryly.

'Yes mother.' Meg admitted sheepishly, knowing she had been caught dawdling.

'Then go and practice!' Madam Giry snapped.

'Yes mother.' Meg dutifully replied, pausing only long enough to briefly hug Christine. 'Good luck.' Meg whispered as she flew out the door and she heard Christine's cry of. 'You to.' As she ran to the stage.

'There my dear. You look beautiful.' Minette said placing the final pin in Christine's hair. 'You are already doing far better than Carlotta my dear as that flighty women never bothered to be ready on time believing we should all wait for her.' Minette complimented, smiling.

'Really? I do hope I do not become so big headed.' Christine worried. 'Though I must admit now I am ready before time my nerves have returned.' Christine laughed nervously, looking away from Madam Giry's eyes in the mirror lest she see her pain. For Christine's nerves had returned but Erik had not!

Christine was not quick enough though and Minette saw her melancholy. It was not hard to guess its cause. "Where was he?!" Minette thought frustrated. Erik surely must know Christine would need him today more than ever. Minette sighed though she was glad of a few minutes alone with Christine. It has seemed ages since they'd had chance to talk. 'He will be here my dear.' Minette smiled, her heart aching at her adoptive daughter's obvious distress.

'Well he said he would… I mean who?' Christine asked and Minette had to bite her cheek to stop from laughing at Christine's crimson blushes.

'Erik, my dear. Erik will be here.' Minette smiled, hoping Christine would confide in her. Minette had already witnessed for herself the adoring way Christine looked at Erik and Nadir had told her it was reciprocated and that romance was blooming between their two wards. Nadir had warned that the path of true love was already rocky for the pair and it reassured Minette to see Erik's temper had not strangled Christine's budding affections.

'Of course Erik will be here. He will be because he promised he would.' Christine smiled bravely, hoping that Madam Giry attribute her blushes to nerves. 'Oh angel where are you? You promised you would be here. Erik I need you!' Christine thought despairingly, then wondered if it was just wishful thinking on her part or if it truly was Erik answering her when she heard Erik call, 'Christine!'' In reply.

'Nothing would keep him from your side tonight.' Minette encouraged, worried at Christine's flinch at her words. 'Is everything alright Christine? Have you and Erik argued? I must confess I am surprised Erik has not been under our feet all day. I know you have both worked long and hard for your chance tonight.' Minette asked, concerned.

'Nothing would keep him from her side tonight.' Christine felt stung by the words. Nothing would keep him from her but her own raging desire for Erik! How she wished they could return home after the show and celebrate her debut in each other's arms. She longed for him to kiss her. To touch… NO! Christine twitched in frustration as her heart fought with her mind. Her love for Erik felt like a volcano waiting to burst and she felt if she didn't admit it soon she would explode. Christine met the eyes of the women she loved like a mother and just like earlier with Meg Christine longed to tell all. Yet Christine could not shake the sense of betrayal she felt at the thought of telling anyone other than Erik. Besides if she could not tell Erik there was little point to her admission. 'Nothing is wrong. I am fine thank you Madam Giry.' Christine smiled. She hoped convincingly.

Saddened though she was that Christine was not ready to confide in her Minette understood. For years she and Nadir had kept their own romantic feelings secret. Yet it seemed whatever was going on between her daughter and her brother was far from being resolved. Nadir had said they were in love and she may still be unsure of her brother's feelings, (Due to his continued absence! "Where in God's name are you Erik?!" Minette mentally growled.), it was clear where Christine's heart lay. Deciding not to push Minette changed the subject. 'Madam Giry? After all this time can you not call me Minette my dear?' Minette asked hopefully.

Dragging her thoughts away from Erik, Christine smiled at Minette. 'I would rather and be honoured if I could call you mother?' Christine admitted, relieved to be able to confess at least one of her secret longings.

Minette had to choke back tears. 'Oh Christine. I would be privileged if you would call me mother.' Minette choked and had to brace herself as Christine stood and hugged her tightly. She adored Christine as if she was her own and could not resist holding her tight for brief moment before she disentangled herself from the hug and regained her usual rigid expression. 'But only when we are alone child. It would do no good for you to call me mother at work.' Minette said sternly but her adoring gaze softened the words.

'Yes mother.' Christine giggled, then frowned. 'Do you think Meg will mind?' Christine asked not wanting to offend her sister.

'Mind?!' Minette asked with a laugh. 'That was Meg's suggestion to. She scolded me only yesterday saying how it was madness you called me Madam Giry when you are family. Especially when I am soon to be Madam Khan.' Minette said unable to hide own blush now.

'Then mother it is.' Christine smiled, lovingly at her adoptive parent. Although delighted to see her mother happy Christine wondered the sudden fluttering of her pulse. Her heart began to race excitedly and suddenly Christine realised why… Erik! He was near. She could feel him! Instinctively Christine turned toward the large mirror and although she could not see him she knew Erik stood the other side.

Minette watched amazed as Christine's whole countenance changed. It was like the sun had come out from behind a cloud and Christine glowed radiantly. Minette guessed from the lovelorn look on her daughters face that Erik had returned. Minette was intrigued to see if Erik's expression matched that of Christine's, (Nadir had assured her it did.), but Minette knew her brother would hide behind his usual persona if she stayed. Christine and Erik had both worked so hard for this opportunity and they deserved a moment alone. 'Well now you are ready I had better go check on Meg.' Minette grinned. As Christine reluctantly looked away from the mirror blushing profusely.

'Please give Meg my love and best wishes.' Christine smiled keenly, hoping her impatience didn't show. Erik was just a few feet away and she was desperate to see him. Christine guessed as he had not already joined them he wanted to be alone with her. Well Christine had no problem with that and was suddenly eager for her dear mother to be gone.

'I will pass on your regards. I'll leave you to gather your thought's my dear. Please have no fear tonight for I know you will be wonderful. Good luck, Christine.' Minette said briefly hugging Christine and giving her a quick kiss goodbye. Minette hurried out closing the door behind her. Then she paused, silent, listening and did not have long to wait as seconds later she heard Christine exclaim. 'Erik!' Grinning Minette departed to go wish her other daughter good look and happily yell at her ballet rats.

Erik stood the other side of the mirror and almost gasped at the vision before him. Christine was so beautiful. The red and green bodice clung to and accentuated her figure and left her creamy shoulders bare…. "What the hell was the matter with him?!" Had he not had enough lecherous thoughts for one day!

Erik's thoughts returned to earlier and drew in a sharp breath at the pain he had seen in Christine's eyes. He was not sure why the secret passage behind the mirror should upset her so but it had.

'Oh Erik, you cannot think I believe that? For goodness sake we live together. We have shared a bed! How can you think I would believe you so sly?'

Christine had been quick to reassure him it was not fear of him spying on her, (which he was now shamelessly doing!), and he was sure Christine spoke true but she could not hide the sadness in her eyes. 'We have shared a bed!' Erik winced again thinking of his lonely nights. Never had Erik hated the darkness more. Christine was the flaming light of his day. Never leaving his side and seemingly going out of her way to make him happy. As they laughed together it was almost too easy to forget the stiffness that now emerged between them at bedtime. Each night Christine seemed barely able to look at him as she briefly kissed him then fled to her room. Then last night he had caught her gaze before she turned away and Erik had to cover his gasp of pain at the tortured look she gave him.

'Why did she now look at him like that?' Erik did not know the cause but he was sure he could make a good guess at it. His little moppet was his best friend and would do anything to defend and protect him but it was obvious to Erik that at last Christine had realised how truly abhorrent he was. Although he knew she was still his best friend and cared for him. It was no surprise Christine could not help being terrified at the thought of sleeping with him. Erik had known this day would come of course but the whip of despair that lashed him at her rejection left him emotionally raw and bleeding.

Yet earlier she'd eagerly taken and tightly held his hand?! Erik was confused by her contrary actions and his own discombobulated reactions. Her soft grip had felt as if flames scorched him. He felt uncomfortable, achy and longed to…. What? He was not sure until he had looked into Christine's burning eyes and then the unbidden thought had seeped into his mind. It may have been torment he seen last night but now she seemed to gaze at him almost… Questioningly? Longingly? Erik didn't know.

All he knew was his crazy and abominable response. His breath had caught in his throat, mouth suddenly dry, head dizzy as the tainted thought leapt into his mind. "What would it be like to kiss her?!" Erik froze in horror at this corrupt notion. Yet he could not deny how he was suddenly aware of his body as never before and he yearned to know the answer. Shocked at his vile longings the silence stretched on between them and Erik grasped at something... Anything! To say. He cleared his throat not knowing what words would tumble out when he'd been saved by the knock of the seam mistress.

Erik had wanted to run! Never more revolted with himself for thinking such foul thoughts! He mumbled some form of goodbye wanting to vanish yet was unable to leave without touching her. Hesitantly, he'd softly kissed her hand. His body went into overdrive from that simple action and Erik was about to flee when Christine had heart brokenly called his name. As if under a spell Erik had stopped and unwillingly turned to answer but was at her side in an instant at the sight of her tears.

He really was a monster to cause her tears! Compelled he reached out and caught a tear drop. He felt again a jolt as his skin touched hers. Sparks seem to radiate from his fingertips and unable to resist Erik pushed a stray curl behind her ear. Christine smiled devotedly at him, seemingly comforted at his touch. 'I will be back before you go on.' He had vowed and her beaming smile had elicited his own. 'I promise.' Erik had said but as he kissed her hand a second time before escaping Erik was unsure what exactly it was he was promising.

He had returned to their home and yanked off his mask and sitting at Christine's dresser he'd glared at his detestable reflection. He called himself every despicable name in every language he knew. Was he insane?! Had he eventually lost his grasp on reality? The effect Christine had on him was more intoxicating than anything he had ever known. No drug could compare to the way she had the power to bring his highs and lows and like all addicts Erik was totally dependent.

Erik knew that Christine was his saviour. She was the light in his darkness - his sanity. He was a malevolent mutant! Was it any wonder then that a devil such as he would besmirch the pure relationship they had?! The only real surprise Erik thought was that it had taken him so long to sully the only truly good thing in his life. Erik knew he risked all if he continued to let his raving thoughts poison their relationship. If he didn't get himself under control he would lose his angel! Sickened by both his body and mind Erik had taken refuge in music. He had spent the rest of the afternoon banging out his emotions on his organ. The music discordant with his self-disgust and loathing as Erik purged himself of his impure thoughts. Yet perversely he'd composed some of his best work!

'Erik I need you!'' The cry had shook him out of his demented inspiration and as he looked about it took Erik a moment to realise he was still alone. 'Christine!' Erik automatically answered. Christine had called out to him and when he checked the time on his pocket watch he bolted out the door and back up to her dressing room cursing himself anew as he flew.

Now stood paused on the other side of the mirror looking into Christine's dressing room Erik could not help a bitter smile at the irony. He the loathsome, deprived, beast would always be a spectator into her world. His tremulous thoughts caused him to shake and captivated by the beauty before him Erik hadn't even realised that Christine was not alone until Minette told her goodbye and left the room.

Erik saw Christine turn back to the mirror to face him. Her face aglow with happiness. Her beaming smile a beacon. Irresistibly drawn to her light, Erik tripped the switch which slid the mirror back. A whoosh of warmth and the smell that was uniquely Christine enveloped him as Erik stepped through the mirror.

'Erik.' Christine beamed at the sight of him. She drank in his beautiful features. Thrilled he was not wearing his mask. He had only been gone a few hours but she had missed him dearly. Now he was here looking so handsome and with such…. Christine did not understand the intense look in Erik's eye. She did not know what she had done for him to stare at her in that way but being the object of his scrutiny had her body betraying all her good intentions and desire pulsed through her. Annoyed at her own weakness Christine grasped a topic of conversation. 'I hope I don't let you down tonight angel. Especially as we are out of Diva's if I mess this up.' Christine laughed nervously.

Stupefied by his dizzying emotions Erik forced himself to answer. 'We need no other Diva for you could never let me down Christine. You were born for this.' Erik husked.

Christine fought the wave of desire that gripped her at his sexy tone. 'Well I'm not sure about that. I was so nervous earlier when I had to audition before the managers. I panicked and would have run but for Madam Giry's cane.' Christine confessed sheepishly. 'I stood petrified but then… I heard you, felt you. I knew you were near and with me. Instantly I knew I could sing. BUT only because you were there angel. I could not do this without you.' Christine admitted, fervidly.

Erik thrilled at her words yet honesty would not let him accept them. 'You do not need me…' Erik began but Christine interrupted.

'Yes I do!' Christine said vehemently. 'So much more than you will ever know!' Christine thought. 'I would not be here with the skill and opportunity I have but for you angel. THANK YOU! Thank you so much for teaching me, making my dream a reality and for giving me courage.' Christine smiled, desperately trying to keep her wits. It was so easy to fall under his spell. He was so alluring it was hard not to cave to her senses and just feel.

'I did nothing but help hone your superb gift. You are sublime and deserve your chance tonight. You have nothing to fear Christine.' Erik breathed, not understanding the emotions that played havoc with his mind and body. Both screamed at him wanting him to…. 'Kiss her!' The demon snake whispered. Erik's mind rebelled at the treacherous thought but his body had taken over and it crept slowly closer to Christine until they stood almost toe to toe.

'I'm not afraid. Not when you are with me. It is natural to sing when we are together. I am happy with you and singing is just an expression of that joy. Tonight knowing you are with me, watching - that will give me strength.' Christine breathed, as she drowned in his flaming midnight eyes. Erik was so close… All she had to do was lean up on tip toe…. NO! God help her! Her resolve was so fickle. 'Do you care so little about him that you'd chance losing him so easy?!' Christine asked herself in disgust. Desperate to regain composure she blurted. 'I told Meg about the mirror.' Christine squeaked.

Erik was ensnared in vortex of sensations. Attuned to Christine like never before he felt her panic and hurried to reassure her. 'Well I am sure we can trust little Giry with our secret.' Erik smiled and unable to resist the urge to touch her gently ran his knuckles down her cheek. 'It is OK Christine. I will be with you. You will be fantastic. Tonight all of Paris will see you shine.' Erik murmured.

Christine could not breathe. All her will power crumbled at his look, touch and smile. 'Will you wish me luck, angel?' Christine whispered.

'Good luck, angel.' Erik uttered, softly. 'Though you won't need it.' Erik breathed, his head lowering of its volition toward hers.

Christine could not fight any more. All thoughts of consequence evaporated as she instinctively she leaned up towards him impatient to… Christine jumped as if stung at the knock on the door.

'Miss Daae. It's time.' Someone called. Christine's mind was so chaotic she had no idea if it was even a male or female voice! She looked into Erik's eyes and saw the Phantom had retuned. Erik masked whatever had caused his midnight blue eyes to blaze like sapphire's and Christine breathed a sigh of relief. 'For how was she supposed to keep her raging desire in check when he looked at her like that?!'

'Miss Daae?' Came another impatient knock from the door.

'Coming.' Christine called huskily, all at once flushed, nervous and excited. Intoxicated by Erik and her imminent debut she smiled at the inscrutable Phantom. Spontaneously Christine leaned up and kissed his cheek and ran to the door. She paused briefly as she opened it to look back. Erik stood looking after her. His eyes brilliant sapphires once more.