I turned from where I stood at the kitchen table, kneading bread, to see my daughter, Elizabeth, running towards me.
"What is it, Bethie?" I asked with a laugh.
"Will you and Papa please sing me a song? Please?" Beth pleaded, staring up at me with her vivid blue eyes, so much like her fathers'. Her hair was as dark as my own, and curled wildy around her delicate face.
"I am baking, can it not wait until later?"
"Oh, please Mama! I promise I will be good and not tease Stephan anymore."
Six years old and the child could charm the flowers into bloom. Stephan, named after my father, was four years old and as handsome a child as you had ever seen. He was sitting on the floor playing quietly with his toys. He had emerald green eyes, like my own, and the silky light brown hair of his father. Where Beth was loud, cheerful and always craving attention, Stephan was quiet, loving, and somewhat shy.
I laughed again. "Where is your Papa?" I asked.
"He is already at the organ. Please sing, please?"
I smiled down at Beth who was smiling up at me, her eyes wide. "Oh, Bethie you scamp!" I said, ruffling her hair. "Of course I will sing for you."
I picked up little Stephan and followed Beth into the parlour where Erik was sitting at the organ. He turned as I walked into the room, smiling at me.
He hardly ever wore the mask anymore, only when we went into town. The years had changed him, given him a calm and serenity that he had never had before. He was happy, but given to periods of melancholy. I always just let him have his space when it happened, when he was drawn into the past. I did not expect him to forget all that had happened before we wed. It was part of him, and therefore part of me.
We had been married two years when we had been blessed with Elizabeth Christine. Erik had fallen in love with his little girl the moment he saw her and it was easy to see that she had her Papa wrapped around her little finger. Two years later we had Erik Stephan. There were complications and he was a sickly child. He had almost not lived, but he had pulled through, though I was unable to have more children.
Our family was small, but loving. The children loved their father dearly. He had been so worried, had so many insecurities, but he was a loving, doting father, just as he was a loving, doting husband.
The children thought nothing of his disfigurement, having been raised seeing his face. I had not allowed him to wear the mask around them, though he had wanted to at first.
Marriage and family had caused Erik to flourish. He began working again, designing houses and overseeing a construction company, which was run by Charles. It was profitable and we lived comfortably.
I had never gone back to the stage, which suited me. I was content, happy, to be a wife and mother. The legend of a Phantom that haunted the Paris Opera House faded and was soon a thing of legend and mystery.
Erik still wrote music and we still sang together. Little Beth loved music and her dearest wish was to perform on the stage when she grew up. She had a marvelous tutor and I had no doubt she would go far. Stephan, on the other hand, was already following in his father's footsteps in construction. He built elaborate houses of blocks and was already drawing sketches for buildings.
Life was good, and we were happy together. We had truly been blessed.
"Mama, come on!" Beth said, tugging on my skirt and bringing me out of my reverie.
I smiled at her as I went to stand by Erik. I leaned down and we kissed briefly.
"So, what shall we sing, my love?" Erik asked.
"How about The Phantom of the Opera?" I said with a smile, referring to a song we had sung together long ago.
Erik laughed and began playing. We sang, our voices still perfectly matched after all these years.
Beth and Stephan sat on the couch listening, enraptured. As I sang I looked around at my little family, at my husband and thought of how far he had come, from Angel to the Phantom to Erik de Nuit.
It had been a long journey, but one that had been well worth it. We had had many happy years together and many more yet to come. I looked over at my husband and saw the warm glow of love in his eyes.
Although I had thought I had stopped believing in fairy tales long ago, our love had a storybook ending……
Happily ever after.
Papa. I thought I would never tire of hearing that word from the mouths of my children.
When Christine and I had been married I had thought little of starting a family, of being a father. It seemed enough of a miracle that I was being married at all, anything beyond that was incomprehensible!
Married life was wonderful. It had taken a relationship that was already wonderful and made it absolutely amazing.
Marriage and Christine's gentle presence calmed me. The anger that had been a part of my life since I could remember had disappeared with time and Christine's love.
I was still prone to times of darkness, times where I was drawn into the past and the pain that was there. Christine understood this and simply let me be, holding me and comforting me until it passed.
How I loved her! I had thought I could not possible love her more, but as the years passed I found that I loved her more deeply with every year that passed.
When Christine told me that we were to have a child I did not know what to think. I was at once ecstatic and terrified. I worried that the child could not love me, not looking as I did.
But when Elizabeth Christine was born I fell in love. She was a beautiful, perfect child and my fears that I would pass the curse of my face to my child were put to rest. As she grew she loved and accepted me. She was my little girl, my little angel.
Then came Erik Stephan. There were complications when he was born and Christine almost died. The memory still haunts me. Christine, the blood, the midwife trying frantically to save both mother and child.
I had prayed that night like I had never prayed before. I did not know what kind of God would listen to my prayers, but for Christine I prayed that she would be spared. She was, though she would have no more children Erik Stephan, whom Christine named after the 'two most important men in her life' was a sweet child. He had Christine's gentle nature and bright green eyes and looked more like her.
Little Beth, on the other hand, looked nothing like Christine, except for her long dark curls. She had my eyes, bright blue and framed by dark lashes. She was beautiful.
Life had treated us well. I started a construction company with Charles and it flourished. I was able to put my architecture skills back to use as I designed homes and buildings. I missed the work, the building, but it was impossible, so I oversaw things through Charles, visiting building sites and night and letting Charles instruct the workers.
Music was still an important part of my life. I still wrote scores, still played the organ and sang. Christine and I often sang together and our children grew up loving Opera. Little Beth would no doubt grow up to be a Prima Donna, her voice was magnificent!
Life was good and there were many times I wondered if it was all a dream, if my mind had finally snapped and I was living in a world of my own making.
But then Christine would wrap her arms around me and I would feel her soft body against mine and I would realise that it was not a dream.
I had never dreamed the first time I saw that shy little girl on the stage at the Paris Opera House that things would have turned out the way they did, that she could ever learn to see the man behind the mask. But she had. And I was happy, infinitely happy, at the course my life had taken.
Thank you for reading my story, Angel of Music. Please review, thank you!
Also, in case you are interested, there is a sequel to this story, titled Learn to Be Lonely, which is the story of Erik and Christine's daughter, Beth. It is told from many different POV's, including Erik and Christine as well as Beth's. It is the story of what happens when the Phantom of the Opera's daughter goes to the Paris Opera House to sing.