Disclaimer: This plot-less piece of fluff belongs to me, though the characters belong to Gaston Leroux. The Biblical verse belongs to St. Paul, who wrote it in a letter to the Corinthians.


The priest's voice intones the sacred Latin, the smooth phrases echoing off the stone walls. Sunlight floods through the stained glass windows, creating little splotches of color on the cold floor.

Up at the altar, a bride, exquisite lace veil softening her facial features and hiding the brilliant corn silk color of her hair, is beaming happily up at her groom. She is amazingly pretty in her lace dress, her blue eyes sparkling behind her veil like a cloudless afternoon.

The groom looks dazed at his good fortune, and love, in its purest most self- sacrificing form, shines out of his eyes. His eyes are a clear blue color, like an early morning sky, and his fair hair catches the light, making it look like spun gold.

A few people, in various stages of joy or melancholy, are watching this happy ceremony. Not many, but those caught up in memories of their own youth, some who think longingly of things that never came to be, and those who smile for the young couple, and wish them well.

It is certain that the eyes of all passerby are drawn to the blonde woman in a lace dress smiling at her husband- to- be, and the man with resplendent blue eyes filled with love. One cannot help but look at the couple and smile. But then... there is a shadow, lurking in a corner, avoiding the brightly colored sunlight and the shining love of the two young people at the altar.

The shadow seems darkly ominous, a creature of the night who does not fit into this radiant, joyous scene. It is decidedly at odds with the joy and love apparent in the bride and groom- it is a mass of unhappiness, regret, and sorrow. Those who see this shadow merely shiver, chide themselves for thinking such dark thoughts, and turn to smile a little at the couple at the altar who are so obviously in love.

The couple's attention is drawn to this shadow soon, when a sound like the rustling of dead leaves is heard: "Christine."

The bride's eyes widen and she looks, startled and a bit afraid, up at her groom. The young man manages to stop looking at the lovely figure in front of him in order to peer curiously around the near empty cathedral. Suddenly, he sees it. 'It' is no more then a swish of a black cloak, a faint white gleam of the sunlight against porcelain.

He straightens and looks at the shadow with an unspoken question: "Why are you here?"

The bride has retreated under her veil, which hides her face and her feelings.

"Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up the wrongs that have been done." The priest switches to French so that all may understand his sermon. The rich phrases reverberate around the walls and enter into the hearts of those listening. "Love is not happy with evil but is happy with the truth. Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, it always hopes, and always remains strong."

Then the bride does a curious thing. She turns to the shadow, a calm and quiet forgiveness shining in her blue eyes like the sunlight. The groom notices this, and a smile creeps across his handsome features. His hands still clasped in those of his bride's, he bows to the shadow, a slight thing, as if he had met a friend on the street and was acknowledging his presence.

The bride makes a small curtsey, forgiveness still in her eyes. This soft, gentle forgiveness enters the groom's eyes as well. The shadow appears to tremble, startled and uncertain. These two creatures of the light, their fair hair catching the sun's warm rays, and their eyes sparkling with vitality and love, have acknowledged the shadow's presence, have accepted the shadow for what it is, have forgiven it for its various trespasses against them... have treated it like a friend.

They both smile in welcome at the shadow, then turn towards one another, overwhelming love stealing into their eyes and seeming to transform them into greater beauty. The shadow crumples in on itself, dazedly thinking, 'They have enough love in their hearts for me, too.'

Perhaps all three are creatures of the light, though they do not yet know it. But by the softness of the bride's gaze and the slight smile of the groom, they, at least, have guessed.