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The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux and Wendi Zwaduk

The Phantom of the Opera

Clandestine Classics, Book 5
by Gaston Leroux and Wendi Zwaduk

Totally Bound Publishing

eBook ISBN: 9781781841075
Print ISBN: 9781781845400

A chance sighting at the Opera, fated love, and three lives in turmoil. But she can only have one man. Will love raise her up or tear their world apart?

Note: This is a re-imagining of the classic Phantom of the Opera novel. The first four chapters are the original.

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Chapter Five

The Enchanted Violin
Christine Daae, owing to intrigues to which I will return later, did not immediately continue her triumph at the Opera. After the famous gala night, she sang once at the Duchess de Zurich’s, but this was the last occasion on which she was heard in private. She refused, without plausible excuse, to appear at a charity concert to which she had promised her assistance. She acted throughout as though she were no longer the mistress of her own destiny and as though she feared a fresh triumph.
She knew that the Comte de Chagny, to please his brother, had done his best on her behalf with Monsieur Richard, and she wrote to thank him and also to ask him to cease speaking in her favour. Her reason for this curious attitude was never known. Some pretended that it was due to overweening pride. Others spoke of her heavenly modesty. But people on the stage are not so modest as all that, and I think that I shall not be far from the truth if I ascribe her action simply to fear. Yes, I believe that Christine Daae was frightened by what had happened to her, but I do think she was intrigued by the event. I have a letter of Christine’s—it forms part of the Persian’s collection—relating to this period, which suggests a feeling of absolute dismay.
“I don’t know myself when I sing,” writes the poor child.
She showed herself nowhere, and the Vicomte de Chagny tried in vain to meet her. He wrote to her, asking to call upon her, but despaired of receiving a reply when, one morning, she sent him the following note.
MONSIEUR,
I have not forgotten the little boy who went into the sea to rescue my scarf. I feel that I must write to you today, when I am going to Perros, in fulfilment of a sacred duty. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the death of my poor father, whom you knew and who was very fond of you. He is buried there, with his violin, in the graveyard of the little church, at the bottom of the slope where we used to play as children, beside the road where, when we were a little bigger, we said goodbye for the last time.
The Vicomte de Chagny hurriedly consulted a railway guide, dressed as quickly as he could, wrote a few lines for his valet to take to his brother and jumped into a cab which brought him to the Gare Montparnasse just in time to miss the morning train. He spent a dismal day in town and did not recover his spirits until the evening, when he was seated in his compartment in the Brittany express. The women in town tried their best to quench his appetite. More than one offered to play along with his debauched games. He refused. No one compared to the Daae. He read Christine’s note over and over again, smelling its perfume, recalling the sweet pictures of his childhood, and spent the rest of that tedious night journey in feverish dreams that began and ended with Christine Daae. Day was breaking when he alighted at Lannion. He hurried to the diligence for Perros-Guirec. He was the only passenger. He questioned the driver and learned that, on the evening of the previous day, a young lady who looked like a Parisian had gone to Perros and put up at the inn known as the Setting Sun. His Christine? He dearly hoped.
The nearer he drew to her, the more fondly he remembered the story of the little Swedish singer. Most of the details are still unknown to the public.
There was once, in a little market-town not far from Upsala, a peasant who lived there with his family, digging the earth during the week and singing in the choir on Sundays. This peasant had a little daughter to whom he taught the musical alphabet before she knew how to read. Daae’s father was a great musician, perhaps without knowing it. Not a fiddler throughout the length and breadth of Scandinavia played as he did. His reputation was widespread and he was always invited to set the couples dancing at weddings and other festivals. His wife died when Christine was entering upon her sixth year. Then the father, who cared only for his daughter and his music, sold his patch of ground and went to Upsala in search of fame and fortune. He found nothing but poverty.
He returned to the country, wandering from fair to fair, strumming his Scandinavian melodies, while his child, who never left his side, listened to him in ecstasy or sang to his playing. One day, at Ljimby Fair, Professor Valerius heard them and took them to Gothenburg. He maintained that the father was the first violinist in the world and that the daughter had the making of a great artist. Her education and instruction were provided for. She made rapid progress and charmed everybody with her prettiness, her grace of manner and her genuine eagerness to please. 
When Valerius and his wife went to settle in France, they took Daae and Christine with them. ‘Mamma’ Valerius treated Christine as her daughter. As for Daae, he began to pine away with homesickness. He never went out of doors in Paris, but lived in a sort of dream which he kept up with his violin. For hours at a time, he remained locked up in his bedroom with his daughter, fiddling and singing, very, very softly. Sometimes Mamma Valerius would come and listen behind the door, wipe away a tear and go downstairs again on tiptoe, sighing for her Scandinavian skies.
Daae seemed not to recover his strength until the summer, when the whole family went to stay at Perros-Guirec, in a far-away corner of Brittany, where the sea was of the same colour as in his own country. Often he would play his saddest tunes on the beach and pretend that the sea stopped its roaring to listen to them. And then he induced Mamma Valerius to indulge a queer whim of his. At the time of the ‘pardons’, or Breton pilgrimages, the village festival and dances, he went off with his fiddle, as in the old days, and was allowed to take his daughter with him for a week. They gave the smallest hamlets music to last them for a year and slept at night in a barn, refusing a bed at the inn, lying close together on the straw, as when they were so poor in Sweden. At the same time, they were very neatly dressed, made no collection, refused the halfpence offered them. The people around could not understand the conduct of this rustic fiddler, who tramped the roads with that pretty child who sang like an angel from Heaven. They followed them from village to village.
One day, a little boy, who was out with his governess, made her take a longer walk than he intended, for he could not tear himself from the little girl whose pure, sweet voice seemed to bind him to her. They came to the shore of an inlet which is still called Trestraou, but which now, I believe, harbours a casino or something of the sort. At that time, there was nothing but sky and sea and a stretch of golden beach. Only, there was also a high wind, which blew Christine’s scarf out to sea. Christine gave a cry and put out her arms, but the scarf was already far on the waves. Then she heard a voice say, “It’s all right, I’ll go and fetch your scarf out of the sea.”
And she saw a little boy running fast, in spite of the outcries and the indignant protests of a worthy lady in black. The little boy ran into the sea, dressed as he was, and brought her back her scarf. Boy and scarf were both soaked through. The lady in black made a great fuss, but Christine laughed merrily and kissed the little boy, who was none other than the Vicomte Raoul de Chagny, staying at Lannion with his aunt.
During the season, they saw each other and played together almost every day. At the aunt’s request, seconded by Professor Valerius, Daae consented to give the young viscount some violin lessons. In this way, Raoul learned to love the same airs that had charmed Christine’s childhood. They also both had the same calm and dreamy little cast of mind. They delighted in stories, in old Breton legends, and their favourite sport was to go and ask for them at the cottage-doors, like beggars.
“Ma’am…” or, “Kind gentleman…have you a little story to tell us, please?”
And it seldom happened that they did not have one ‘given’ them, for nearly every old Breton grandame has, at least once in her life, seen the ‘korrigans’ dance by moonlight on the heather.
But their great treat was in the twilight, in the great silence of the evening, after the sun had set in the sea. Daae came and sat down by them on the roadside and in a low voice, as though fearing lest he should frighten the ghosts whom he evoked, told them the legends of the land of the North. And the moment he stopped, the children would ask for more.
There was one story that began, “A king sat in a little boat on one of those deep, still lakes that open like a bright eye in the midst of the Norwegian mountains…”
And another, “Little Lotte thought of everything and nothing. Her hair was golden as the sun’s rays and her soul as clear and blue as her eyes. She wheedled her mother, was kind to her doll, took great care of her frock and her little red shoes and her fiddle, but most of all loved, when she went to sleep, to hear the Angel of Music.”
While the old man told this story, Raoul looked at Christine’s blue eyes and golden hair and porcelain skin. Raoul fell head over heels for her even then, knowing he’d never find another like her. Christine thought that Lotte was very lucky to hear the Angel of Music when she went to sleep. The Angel of Music played a part in all Daddy Daae’s tales, and he maintained that every great musician, every great artist received a visit from the Angel at least once in his life. Sometimes the Angel leans over their cradle, as happened to Lotte, and that is how there are little prodigies who play the fiddle at six better than men at fifty, which, you must admit, is very wonderful. Sometimes, the Angel comes much later, because the children are naughty and won’t learn their lessons or practice their scales. And sometimes, he does not come at all, because the children have a bad heart or a bad conscience.
No one ever sees the Angel, but he is heard by those who are meant to hear him. He often comes when they least expect him, when they are sad and disheartened. He knows they need him and he allows them his presence. He is like a god. He speaks to them, then their ears suddenly perceive celestial harmonies, a divine voice, which they remember all their lives. Persons who are visited by the Angel quiver with a thrill unknown to the rest of mankind. And they cannot touch an instrument, or open their mouths to sing, without producing sounds that put all other human sounds to shame. Then people who do not know that the Angel has visited those persons say that they have genius.
Little Christine asked her father if he had heard the Angel of Music. But Daddy Daae shook his head sadly, and then his eyes lit up, as he said, “You will hear him one day, my child! When I am in Heaven, I will send him to you!”
Daddy was beginning to cough at that time.
Three years later, Raoul and Christine met again at Perros. Professor Valerius was dead, but his widow remained in France with Daddy Daae and his daughter, who continued to play the violin and sing, wrapping in their dream of harmony their kind patroness, who seemed henceforth to live on music alone. The young man, as he now was, had come to Perros on the chance of finding them and went straight to the house in which they used to stay. He first saw the old man, and then Christine entered, carrying the tea-tray. She flushed at the sight of Raoul, who went up to her and kissed her. She asked him a few questions, performed her duties as hostess prettily, took up the tray again and left the room. Then she ran into the garden and took refuge on a bench, a prey to feelings that stirred her young heart for the first time. Raoul followed her and they talked till the evening, very shyly. They were quite changed, cautious as two diplomatists, and told each other things that had nothing to do with their budding sentiments. When they took leave of each other by the roadside, Raoul, pressing a kiss on Christine’s trembling hand, said, “Mademoiselle, I shall never forget you!”
“You will. There are so many pretty ladies in the world.”
He touched her cheek. Feelings arose in his heart and mind, feelings of love and devotion. He moved closer to her and pressed his lips to hers once more. Christine clutched his shirt front and whimpered. He parted his lips, tasting hers and relishing in the risqué nature of their meeting. Raoul wrapped one arm around her and tugged her tighter. He massaged the length of her back, meandering his free hand across her ribs. Christine placed her hand on his, but didn’t pull away. He continued to kiss her and touched her breast through the fabric of her dress. She moaned and leaned into his touch.
Ah, he had an effect on her, too! She might not be his forever, but he liked having her while he could. He flicked his thumb across her nipple, even through the barriers of her clothing.
Christine broke the kiss. She put both hands on his chest and pushed him back. “You will find a woman more befitting of you. I cannot be her.”
“I love you.” He reached for her once more. “Please. With my whole heart, I love you.”
She did little more than blush, then hide her face. “Go.”
And he went away regretting his words, for he knew that after their acts of love and lust—kissing and touching—Christine could not be the wife of the Vicomte de Chagny. She would belong to a man of her profession. Raoul’s brother wouldn’t allow him to marry a woman of the Opera. Still, Raoul vowed never to forget her.
As for Christine, she tried not to think of him and devoted herself wholly to her art. She made wonderful progress and those who heard her prophesied that she would be the greatest singer in the world. Meanwhile, the father died, and suddenly, she seemed to have lost, with him, her voice, her soul and her genius. She retained just, but only just, enough of this to enter the Conservatoire, where she did not distinguish herself at all, attending the classes without enthusiasm and taking a prize only to please old Mamma Valerius, with whom she continued to live.
The first time that Raoul saw Christine at the Opera, he was charmed by the girl’s beauty and by the sweet images of the past which it evoked, but was rather surprised at the negative side of her art. He returned to listen to her. He followed her in the wings. He waited for her behind a Jacob’s ladder. He tried to attract her attention. More than once, he walked after her to the door of her box, but she did not see him. She seemed, for that matter, to see nobody. She was all indifference. Raoul suffered, for she was very beautiful and he was shy and dared not confess his love, even to himself. And then came the lightning-flash of the gala performance, the heavens torn asunder and an angel’s voice heard upon earth for the delight of mankind and the utter capture of his heart.
And then…and then there was that man’s voice behind the door—“You must love me!”—and no one in the room…
Why did she laugh when he reminded her of the incident of the scarf? Why did she not recognise him? And why had she written to him?
Perros was reached at last. Raoul walked into the smoky sitting-room of the Setting Sun and at once saw Christine standing before him, smiling and showing no astonishment.
“So you have come,” she said. “I felt that I should find you here, when I came back from mass. Someone told me so, at the church.”
“Who?” asked Raoul, taking her little hand in his. He hadn’t told anyone of his journey. “How did you know?”
“Why, my poor father, who is dead.”
Her father? The man being dead didn’t shock Raoul. But he’d told her? The ghosts existed? Rubbish. There was a silence, and then Raoul asked, “Did your father tell you that I love you, Christine, and that I cannot live without you?” The weight on his shoulders was relieved. Once again, he’d spoken the words on his heart. He held his breath awaiting any answer from her.
Christine blushed to the eyes and turned away her head. In a trembling voice, she said, “Me? You are dreaming, my friend!” And she burst out laughing, to put herself in countenance. “I cannot mean anything to you after so much time.”
“Don’t laugh, Christine. I am quite serious,” Raoul answered.
And she replied gravely, “I did not make you come to tell me such things as that.”
“You ‘made me come’, Christine. You knew that your letter would not leave me indignant and that I should hasten to Perros. How can you have thought that, if you did not think I loved you?”
“I thought you would remember our games here, as children, in which my father so often joined. I really don’t know what I thought… Perhaps I was wrong to write to you… This anniversary and your sudden appearance in my room at the Opera, the other evening, reminded me of the time long past and made me write to you as the little girl that I then was…the things I wanted so desperately back then and know I can never have…”
There was something in Christine’s attitude that seemed to Raoul not natural. He did not feel any hostility in her, far from it. The distressed affection shining in her eyes told him that. But why was this affection distressed? That was what he wished to know and what was irritating him.
“When you saw me in your dressing-room, was that the first time you noticed me, Christine?”
She was incapable of lying.
“No,” she said, “I had seen you several times in your brother’s box. And also on the stage.”
“I thought so!” said Raoul, compressing his lips. He forced himself to stay quiet and think through what he needed to say. Blurting too much might scare her and unleashing his anger would turn her away. He craved her attention and her hands on his body. He shouldn’t need her so. Fool. No, he refused to give her the space to evade him any longer.
“But then why, when you saw me in your room, at your feet, reminding you that I had rescued your scarf from the sea, why did you answer as though you did not know me and also why did you laugh? I wished to make you happy. To see you smile. Instead you regarded me as a stranger.”
The tone of these questions was so rough that Christine stared at Raoul without replying. The young man himself was aghast at the sudden quarrel which he had dared to raise at the very moment when he had resolved to speak words of gentleness, love and submission to Christine. A husband, a lover with all rights, would talk no differently to a wife, a mistress who had offended him. But he had gone too far and saw no other way out of the ridiculous position than to behave odiously. Did she want him to submit to her? Never. His anger got the best of him.
“You don’t answer!” he said angrily and unhappily. “Well, I will answer for you. It was because there was someone in the room who was in your way, Christine, someone that you did not wish to know that you could be interested in anyone else! Tell me the truth.”
“If anyone was in my way, my friend,” Christine broke in coldly, “if anyone was in my way, that evening, it was yourself, since I told you to leave the room!”
“Yes, so that you might remain with the other!”
“What are you saying, monsieur?” asked the girl excitedly. “And to what other do you refer?”
“To the man to whom you said, ‘I sing only for you…tonight I gave you my soul and I am dead!’ I heard you speak to him and I saw how you touched yourself as if it were his hands on your body. Tell me who he is! I must know.”
Christine seized Raoul’s arm and clutched it with a strength which no one would have suspected in so frail a creature.
“Then you were listening behind the door?”
“Yes, because I saw everything… And I heard everything… I wish to know the truth.” “You heard what?” And the young girl, becoming strangely calm, released Raoul’s arm.
“He said to you, ‘Christine, you must love me!’”
At these words, a deathly pallor spread over Christine’s face, dark rings formed round her eyes, she staggered and seemed on the point of swooning. Raoul darted forward, with arms outstretched, but Christine had overcome her passing faintness and said, in a low voice, “Go on! Go on! Tell me all you heard!”
At an utter loss to understand, Raoul answered, “I heard him reply, when you said you had given him your soul, ‘Your soul is a beautiful thing, child, and I thank you. No emperor ever received so fair a gift. The angels wept tonight.’ He truly loves you, does he not?”
Christine carried her hand to her heart, a prey to indescribable emotion. Her eyes stared before her like a madwoman’s. Raoul was terror-stricken. Would she lash out at him? Strike him? But suddenly Christine’s eyes moistened and two great tears trickled, like two pearls, down her ivory cheeks.
“Christine! Tell me and I will deliver you from the evil in your life. I will save you. I will love you the way you need.”
“Raoul!”
The young man tried to take her in his arms, but she escaped and fled in great disorder.
While Christine remained locked in her room, Raoul was at his wit’s end what to do. He refused to breakfast. He was terribly concerned and bitterly grieved to see the hours, which he had hoped to find so sweet, slip past without the presence of the young Swedish girl. Why did she not come to roam with him through the country where they had so many memories in common? He heard that she had had a mass said, that morning, for the repose of her father’s soul and spent a long time praying in the little church and on the fiddler’s tomb. Then, as she seemed to have nothing more to do at Perros and in fact, was doing nothing there, why did she not go back to Paris at once?
Raoul walked away, dejectedly, to the graveyard in which the church stood and was indeed alone among the tombs, reading the inscriptions. But, when he turned behind the apse, he was suddenly struck by the dazzling note of the flowers that straggled over the white ground. They were marvellous red roses that had blossomed in the morning, in the snow, giving a glimpse of life among the dead, for death was all around him. It also, like the flowers, issued from the ground, which had flung back a number of its corpses. Skeletons and skulls by the hundred were heaped against the wall of the church, held in position by a wire that left the whole gruesome stack visible. Dead men’s bones, arranged in rows, like bricks, to form the first course upon which the walls of the sacristy had been built. The door of the sacristy opened in the middle of that bony structure, as is often seen in old Breton churches.
Raoul said a prayer for Daae and then, painfully impressed by all those eternal smiles on the mouths of skulls, he climbed the slope and sat down on the edge of the heath overlooking the sea. The wind fell with the evening. Raoul was surrounded by icy darkness, but he did not feel the cold. It was here, he remembered, that he used to come with little Christine to see the Korrigans dance at the rising of the moon. He had never seen any, though his eyes were good, whereas Christine, who was a little shortsighted, pretended that she had seen many. He smiled at the thought and then suddenly gave a start. A voice behind him said, “Do you think the Korrigans will come this evening?”
It was Christine. He wanted to speak. He tried to speak. She put her gloved hand on his mouth.
“Listen, Raoul. I have decided to tell you something serious, very serious… Do you remember the legend of the Angel of Music?”
“I do indeed,” he said. “I believe it was here that your father first told it to us.”
“And it was here that he said, ‘When I am in Heaven, my child, I will send him to you.’ Well, Raoul, my father is in Heaven, and I have been visited by the Angel of Music.”
“I have no doubt of it,” replied the young man gravely, for it seemed to him that his friend, in obedience to a pious thought, was connecting the memory of her father with the brilliancy of her last triumph. He sighed. She needed an angel to watch over her—why not her father? But why would her father cause her to act without care for what others saw?
Christine appeared astonished at the Vicomte de Chagny’s coolness.
“How do you understand it?” she asked, bringing her pale face so close to his that he might have thought that Christine was going to give him a kiss. But she only wanted to read his eyes in spite of the dark.
“I understand,” he said, “that no human being can sing as you sang the other evening without the intervention of some miracle. No professor on earth can teach you such accents as those. You have heard the Angel of Music, Christine.”
“Yes,” she said solemnly, “in my dressing-room. That is where he comes to give me my lessons daily.” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “And oh, the lessons he gives.”
“In your dressing-room?” he echoed stupidly. “What kind of lessons? Singing?”
“Yes and more. My dressing room, that is where I have heard him. And I have not been the only one to hear him.”
“He cannot be the ghost of your father, then can he? I don’t believe this ghost. Who else heard him, Christine?”
“You, my friend.”
“I? I heard the Angel of Music?”
“Yes, the other evening, it was he who was talking when you were listening behind the door. It was he who said, ‘You must love me.’ But I then thought that I was the only one to hear his voice. Imagine my astonishment when you told me, this morning, that you could hear him too. I knew then he could not be my father, but a true angel.”
Raoul burst out laughing. The first rays of the moon came and shrouded the two young people in their light. Christine turned on Raoul with a hostile air. Her eyes, usually so gentle, flashed fire.
“What are you laughing at? You think you heard a man’s voice, I suppose?”
“Well!” replied the young man, whose ideas began to grow confused in the face of Christine’s determined attitude.
“It’s you, Raoul, who say that? You, an old playfellow of my own! A friend of my father’s! But you have changed since those days. What are you thinking of? I am an honest girl, Monsieur le Vicomte de Chagny, and I don’t lock myself up in my dressing-room with men’s voices. And I certainly do not allow anyone to do the things to me that I myself have done with the Angel. If you had opened the door, you would have seen that there was nobody in the room!”
“That’s true! I did open the door, when you were gone, and I found no one in the room.”
“So you see! Well?”
The viscount summoned up all his courage.
“Well, Christine, I think that somebody is making game of you.”
She gave a cry and ran away. He ran after her, but in a tone of fierce anger, she called out, “Leave me! Leave me!” And she disappeared.
Raoul returned to the inn feeling very weary, very low-spirited and very sad. He was told that Christine had gone to her bedroom saying that she would not be down to dinner.
Raoul dined alone, in a very gloomy mood. Then he went to his room and tried to read, went to bed and tried to sleep. There was no sound in the next room.
The hours passed slowly. It was about half past eleven when he distinctly heard someone moving, with a light, stealthy step, in the room next to his. Then Christine had not gone to bed! Without troubling for a reason, Raoul dressed, taking care not to make a sound, and waited. Waited for what? How could he tell? But his heart thumped in his chest when he heard Christine’s door turn slowly on its hinges. Where could she be going, at this hour, when everyone was fast asleep at Perros? Softly opening the door, he saw Christine’s white form, in the moonlight, slipping along the passage. She went down the stairs and he leaned over the baluster above her. Suddenly he heard two voices in rapid conversation. He caught one sentence. “Don’t lose the key.”
It was the landlady’s voice. The door facing the sea was opened and locked again. Then all was still.
Raoul ran back to his room and threw back the window. Christine’s white form stood on the deserted quay.
The first floor of the Setting Sun was at no great height and a tree growing against the wall held out its branches to Raoul’s impatient arms and enabled him to climb down unknown to the landlady. Her amazement, therefore, was all the greater when, the next morning, the young man was brought back to her half frozen, more dead than alive, and when she learned that he had been found stretched at full length on the steps of the high altar of the little church. She ran at once to tell Christine, who hurried down and with the help of the landlady, did her best to revive him. He soon opened his eyes and was not long in recovering when he saw his friend’s charming face leaning over him.
“Let me warm you.” Christine smiled and tugged another blanket across his body. “You shouldn’t have followed me,” she whispered.
“Christine.” He wrestled his hand free of the cotton blanket. “I wanted nothing bad to come of you.”
“Nothing bad happened. But you—you could catch your death in that cold.”
Raoul managed to sit up. He reached for her. Christine perched on the edge of the bed and smoothed her palm along his cheek. “You’re still so chilled.”
“My heart is full of emotions only for you.” He turned his face into her touch. “Only you.”
“Me?” She tipped her head. “You must forget about me.”
“I cannot.” He threaded his fingers into her hair, drawing her close. “I have the most indecent thoughts when I’m near you.” He spoke against her lips. “I can’t help but want to ruin you, only to keep you in my arms a bit longer.”
The most beautiful shade of red spread across her cheeks and slipped down the column of her neck. She glanced at the door, then shot from her spot on the bed. Christine twisted the lock and pressed herself against the door.
“What kind of indecent thoughts?” she whispered.
“To lash you to my bed with your body bared to me. I want to take you over and over, hearing you cry out my name. To watch you give me pleasure with your submission to me.”
“I’m not educated in the way to love a man.” Her chest heaved with each breath. “Will you teach me? I want to be yours, if for only a short time. I want you to show me how much you love me. Teach me?”
“Yes, my love.” He held out his hand to her. Christine twisted her fingers with his and eased onto his lap. Her eyes widened.
“What are you asking of me?”
“Your submission. Allow me to direct you as if I were the composer of one of your songs. Do you trust me?” Raoul smoothed a lock of her hair between his fingers. She smelt of flowers, a most intoxicating scent. Although she trembled in his arms, she met him for a kiss. Christine whimpered. Damn the blanket and the layers of fabric between them. He longed to feel her body next to his. He parted her robe and shoved the garment from her shoulders, leaving her in her nightgown. He swiped his tongue along her bottom lip and palmed her breast.
“Raoul,” she gasped, but didn’t swat him away. “I trust you.”
“Let me make you feel the magic.”
Christine stared at him a moment. “What do you want me to do?”
“Give me what I want. Can you do that?” He unbuttoned the top button on her nightgown. “Show me the depths of your soul.”
“I can.” She whipped her nightgown up over her head, exposing her body to him. Her rosy nipples peaked and the flush spread across her entire chest.
Raoul shrugged out of his nightshirt and tugged her back onto his lap. Skin to skin, mouth to mouth, he lost himself in her sweetness. His desire to conquer her took over. Christine slid her hands up his chest and twined them behind his head.
“Do you still wish to learn? This will not be what you expect.”
“I do.”
He sat back on his heels and hazarded a glance to the door to reassure himself it was locked.
“Raoul?”
“I do not wish to be interrupted.” He grabbed the chair at the small table and dragged it to the couch. “Sit.”
Christine hesitated, then moved from his lap to the edge of the bed. Raoul eased her onto her back. He crawled between her thighs. “I will pull out so I don’t leave my seed inside you, but I cannot guarantee this won’t hurt.”
She nodded, but didn’t look particularly agreeable. He braced himself on his knees and one hand. With his free hand, he stroked her cheek. “I will make you feel precious when I’m done.”
“I’m yours.”
His heart leapt. She’d never be his, not truly, but to be his for the night he’d accept. He reached between his legs and stroked his length. The touch of his hand on his skin always made him hard. He gritted his teeth and forced himself to stop. This was about her pleasure. He moved down her body and kissed from her breasts to the apex of her thighs. He wanted to linger all over her, but kept on his journey to her sweet vagina.
“Oh.” She gasped and reached for him. Raoul nuzzled the pale curls surrounding her cunny. Her scent wrapped around him. Powers be, he’d never get her out of his mind. He spread her pussy lips and suckled on the tight nubbin.
She cried out and dug her fingers into his shoulders. He smiled and licked her clitoris. He blew across the shiny skin, happy when she quivered. Raoul speared one finger into her channel.
Christine whimpered and he winced. He knew this part would hurt her. He kissed her sensitive skin and worked his finger in and out of her body. She cried out and he withdrew.
“There is no way to make this painless.” He stared at the blood on his hand. “I’m sorry, my love.”
“No, I want to continue.” She relaxed on the blankets. “Keep going.”
Raoul spotted the washbasin and pitcher. Water glimmered in the dim light. Good. He retrieved the pitcher and a damp cloth. He washed the blood from her delicate skin and worked his finger into her pussy once again. She bit down hard on her bottom lip, but didn’t scream.
“If it hurts, you must tell me.”
The colour bled from her face and she closed her eyes. “Make it feel better.”
Raoul wiped another streak of blood from her thigh. He’d have to work quickly to rid her of the pain. He tossed the soiled cloth onto the floor and inched up her body. “Look at me, Christine.”
When she opened her eyes, he continued. “This will hurt the most, but it will be fleeting. Do you still trust me?”
“I do.” She slid her hands down between their bodies and held onto his cock.
The sensations of touching himself did not compare to the feel of her holding him. The orgasm bubbled low in his belly and radiated to his limbs. Christine lined his cock up with her slit and rubbed herself.
“This feels good,” she replied. “Where you put your mouth on me felt so good. Do it again.”
He ground his hips, rubbing his cock over her clit. She relaxed further and her eyelids fluttered. The red stained her cheeks once again. Her lips parted and a smile curled the corners of her mouth. Raoul entered her a little, then retreated.
She stared into his eyes. “More.”
“Bear down on me and breathe, love.” He pushed farther into her. The inner walls of her pussy grabbed him. He shivered at the feel of her virgin flesh taking him in.
“Raoul.”
The pleading in her eyes tore at his heart. No matter how much he wanted to take this hurt away, he couldn’t. He thrust harder and seated himself fully within her. She swallowed hard, but didn’t say anything.
Raoul spoke against her neck. “Relax and let me do the work. Let me make you feel beautiful.” He shifted his hips and withdrew. “Oh love, it feels so good, you holding me in your pussy.” With each word, he inched in and out of her.
Little by little, Christine softened beneath him. “Keep going,” she whispered.
Raoul groaned and picked up the pace. He rose up on his hands and planted his knees. Each time he surged into her, a little more colour filled her cheeks and the smile came back. She clawed at his back, her touch burning his skin.
“Yes, love. Mark me and show me who you love.” He quickened his pace. “Show me.”
Christine writhed beneath him. She dug her heels into the small of his back. “My body tingles.” She arched her hips and met him thrust for thrust. “I cannot breathe, but I don’t want to miss any of this.”
She tipped her head back and moaned. Oh, bloody hell. If she continued making noises, he’d have to employ a way to keep her quiet. The servants didn’t need to know what they were doing. Raoul silenced her moans with his kiss. God in heaven, he’d never be able to hold back long enough to place his seed on her belly rather than in it. Every last part of his body went tense. He reared back and pulled his cock from her pussy. He clamped his mouth shut and spilled his sticky offering on her thigh. Ribbons of the pearly liquid decorated the curls covering her pussy. A sheen of sweat glistened on her skin and her breasts heaved. He’d never seen anyone so beautiful in his entire life.
No matter the cost, he had to have her forever. His.
Raoul collapsed beside her and fought to catch his breath. “Did you enjoy what I did? I tried to make our coupling something for you to enjoy. I have so much more I can teach you, if you’ll let me.”
Christine gasped beside him. “It hurt for a while, but you made me feel the way you said. I felt beautiful.”
He wrapped an arm around her. “Stay with me. Nurse me to health. We can learn all the ways of the flesh together.”
“You’re very healthy,” she said with a laugh. “You know the ways of the flesh.”
“I do, but I want to experience it all with you.” He stared at the ceiling. The words in his heart sat on the tip of his tongue. “I want to make you happy.”
She sobered and rolled onto her side. “I will stay for just a few moments longer.” She touched his cheek and her eyes shimmered. “You must find someone else. I want to continue what we’ve begun, but it’s impossible. I cannot love you the way you deserve.”
“I will throw everything away if it pleases you.” He hated to plead, but felt he had no choice. “Don’t cast me away. I am wholly devoted to you.”
“Then let us bask in our time right now.”
He tugged her into the curve of his side. She hadn’t given him the answer he wanted, but she’d given him an opening. She showed him there was a chance they could be together. He’d take the chance as far as the heavens would allow.
A few weeks later, when the tragedy at the Opera compelled the intervention of the public prosecutor, Monsieur Mifroid, the commissary of police, examined the Vicomte de Chagny touching the events of the night at Perros. He mentioned nothing of a personal relationship with the Daae. I quote the questions and answers as given in the official report pp. one-hundred-and-fifty et seq.
Q. Did Mademoiselle Daae not see you come down from your room by the curious road which you selected?
R. No, monsieur, no, although, when walking behind her, I took no pains to deaden the sound of my footsteps. In fact, I was anxious that she should turn round and see me. I realised that I had no excuse for following her and that this way of spying on her was unworthy of me. But she seemed not to hear me and acted exactly as though I were not there. She quietly left the quay and then suddenly walked quickly up the road. The church-clock had struck a quarter to twelve and I thought that this must have made her hurry, for she began almost to run and continued hastening until she came to the church.
Q. Was the gate open?
R. Yes, monsieur, and this surprised me, but did not seem to surprise Mademoiselle Daae.
Q. Was there no one in the churchyard?
R. I did not see anyone, and if there had been, I must have seen him. The moon was shining on the snow and made the night quite light.
Q. Was it possible for anyone to hide behind the tombstones?
R. No, monsieur. They were quite small, poor tombstones, partly hidden under the snow, with their crosses just above the level of the ground. The only shadows were those of the crosses and ourselves. The church stood out quite brightly. I never saw so clear a night. It was very fine and very cold and one could see everything.
Q. Are you at all superstitious?
R. No, monsieur, I am a practicing Catholic.
Q. In what condition of mind were you?
R. Very healthy and peaceful, I assure you. Mademoiselle Daae’s curious action in going out at that hour had worried me at first. But, as soon as I saw her go to the churchyard, I thought that she meant to fulfil some pious duty on her father’s grave and I considered this so natural that I recovered all my calmness. I was only surprised that she had not heard me walking behind her, for my footsteps were quite audible on the hard snow. But she must have been taken up with her intentions and I resolved not to disturb her. She knelt down by her father’s grave, made the sign of the cross and began to pray. At that moment, it struck midnight. At the last stroke, I saw Mademoiselle Daae lift her eyes to the sky and stretch out her arms as though in ecstasy. I was wondering what the reason could be, when I myself raised my head and everything within me seemed drawn towards the invisible, which was playing the most perfect music! Christine and I knew that music. We had heard it as children. But it had never been executed with such divine art, even by Monsieur Daae. I remembered all that Christine had told me of the Angel of Music. The air was The Resurrection of Lazarus, which old Monsieur Daae used to play to us in his hours of melancholy and of faith. If Christine’s Angel had existed, he could not have played better, that night, on the late musician’s violin. When the music stopped, I seemed to hear a noise from the skulls in the heap of bones. It was as though they were chuckling and I could not help shuddering.
Q. Did it not occur to you that the musician might be hiding behind that very heap of bones?
R. It was the one thought that did occur to me, monsieur, so much so that I omitted to follow Mademoiselle Daae, when she stood up and walked slowly to the gate. She was so much absorbed just then that I am not surprised that she did not see me.
Q. Then what happened that you were found in the morning lying half-dead on the steps of the high altar?
R. First a skull rolled to my feet…then another…then another… It was as if I were the mark of that ghastly game of bowls. And I had an idea that false step must have destroyed the balance of the structure behind which our musician was concealed. This surmise seemed to be confirmed when I saw a shadow suddenly glide along the sacristy wall. I ran up. The shadow had already pushed open the door and entered the church. But I was quicker than the shadow and caught hold of a corner of its cloak. At that moment, we were just in front of the high altar, and the moonbeams fell straight upon us through the stained-glass windows of the apse. As I did not let go of the cloak, the shadow turned round, and I saw a terrible death’s head, which darted a look at me from a pair of scorching eyes. I felt as if I were face to face with Satan. In the presence of this unearthly apparition, my heart gave way, my courage failed me…and I remember nothing more until I recovered consciousness at the Setting Sun.

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