The beginning of their new life did not commence at soon as they might have wished. After the fire, Christine had had a funeral to arrange and found it more convenient to move into the old summerhouse with Erik and their child. Then there had been endless questions from the authorities as to the nature of the Vicomte's death
Doctor Vallaurio, eager to make amends for his previous ill deeds had stood as a witness to the mental instability of the Vicomte. Charlotte had told of Raoul's treatment of her and finally the magistrate had been satisfied that it had been nothing more than a case of self defence and left them to their mourning. Christine had shed tears for Raoul, for she had cared deeply for him. Her tears were more for the childhood friend that she had lost than the husband he had been and Charlotte grieved for her brother.
He tried to understand as best he could and offer comfort when it was needed. More often than not, he would retreat into the bedroom and watch his sleeping child and left Charlotte and Christine to share in their pain of having lost a loved one. Sharing his time and life were slowly becoming more natural to him as he began to trust enough to let people in. Erik Jean had gone a long way to achieve the change in him, but miracles rarely happened overnight.
Erik was secure in the knowledge that he had her, heart and soul, he and this little scrap of humanity that had become the world to him. He loved nothing more than to watch his son sleep, still lost in the wonderment that he could be part of something so beautiful.
When the will had been read, Christine had been shaken to find that Raoul had had last word, bequeathing everything to a distant cousin. Once the shock had faded and that she realised it had been for the best. It had been liberating, but now she had nowhere to go, even though Erik had assured her that he was not without funds. Madame Giry had once again been her saviour in that matter as she had handed Christine the deeds to the house by the sea that she had lived in with her father all those long years ago.
Christine had been surprised, thinking the house had been sold on her father's death, but Madame Giry informed her that she had been asked to keep it in trust until Christine had need of it. The house was entailed to her and none of Raoul's family had any legal right to it. After Christine had found herself with a new home, she had arranged for the time they would leave here.
The fates had decided that they would make their home in Honfleur, a place she remembered fondly and the perfect place to raise a child. It would afford them the privacy she knew that Erik would need. He was never going to be comfortable in big crowds of people; she knew that and understood why.
Meg had stayed with them for the first few weeks, until she had informed them that she had been offered an audition in Milan. One of the girls at the opera populaire corps had put in a good word for her. It had been too good an opportunity for her to miss and with heavy heart not two days ago; Christine had held her friend and wished her well.
Raoul's cousin, Antoine had arrived the day before, and there was no need for them to stay here any longer. Raoul's relative had been understandably hostile when faced with the means of his cousin's death. Erik had shown him the sharp end of a sword, which had sent him away quicker than he had arrived.
It had been a blessed release for her to know that she was finally able to leave this place of so much sadness as well as joy. She knew that she and Erik would not be truly able to live while under its shadow. Charlotte was to come with them to Honfleur and be their maid, it was a position she had eagerly accepted, having nowhere else to go.
She had tried to persuade Madame Giry to come with them, but she was eager to get back to Paris after she had heard that the Opera Populaire was to be re-built. Madame Giry was to accompany them on their journey to Honfleur, but after that, she would directly return to Paris. It was with heavy heart that Christine shrugged of the remnants of her old life to embrace the new…
Christine wrapped what was left of her possessions into newspaper before placing them in old tea chests. Not all of the great house had been destroyed by fire, but it was too painful for her to go back to it. That she could see its silhouette on the horizon, a blackened shell of its former beauty was hard enough for her to bear. She finally understood that there was nothing thoughtless in taking a human life… she was brought back to the present by someone knocking on the front door.
Erik came striding back into the room, a dagger concealed behind his back. Christine sighed, love could change a lot, but it took time. She walked over to him, took the blade from his resisting fingers, and placed it on the table.
"Erik have you ever heard the saying that those who live by the sword, die by the sword?" she sighed.
"I am sorry my love, but old habits die hard,"
Christine went to the door to let in their caller.
"Madame Giry," She smiled in pleasure.
"I have come to tell you that the men are here with the cart and are ready to load it up,"
Christine looked at her lover. "Come Erik, it is time," she said softly, her smile faded as she read the agitation in his manner.
"Madame Giry, would you take Erik Jean to the carriage. I would like a moment alone with Christine," It was more than a demand than a question, but Mme Giry was well used to his curt manner and did as he requested.
"Do not be long, the men are waiting and we are paying them by the day," She scolded them before taking Erik Jean and leaving them alone.
Erik began to pace the room uneasily.
"What is it?" she asked. "If you are afraid of what it will be like at Honfleur do not fret for it is small enough…"
She was cut off by Erik hauling her into his arms and kissing her breathless. They broke apart, both breathing heavily.
"I do not know how to go about this… I need to ask you something,"
"You can ask me anything, you know that,"
Erik placed a hand inside his waistcoat, took something from it, and held out his hand. She looked down at the ring she had never thought to see again. As she looked at it, she knew the question he asked. She held out her own hand as he read the acceptance in her eyes, even now after all they had shared he had been afraid of rejection.
No flowery words or promises followed her acceptance; they were not necessary. They would have been out of place in their world. All they felt for each other was conveyed in the perfect silence of the room and the emotion in their eyes.
The sound of the men knocking on the door brought them back to the present. They took one last look at the room before exiting the house where they had found love and laughter and had made their son. As they made their way to the carriage, Christine realised that Erik had finally been given his chance to walk in the sun.
After the year of required mourning had passed, and in the medieval church Gonneville-Sur-Honfleur the couple were finally united by a priest. Life was not always calm or peaceful as the wife of a man so scarred by a violent past, but it was a life well lived in love and trust.
A/N Thanks for reading. I have just started writing my new Poto fic and will be uploading it asap.