A.N: Well, this is the last one of these you'll all have to deal with. Unless you decide to read another story of mine. I just wanted to use this opportunity to thank my loyal readers. You all have been my inspiration to finish this fanfiction, even through the flames and long spaces between updates. I especially want to thank Poppy and Lodi, for their reviews to each chapter and for pushing me to continue, even when I had given up. I love you guys. 3
Chapter 20: Epologue
"What happened next, Grandma?"
A little girl sat looking up at an elderly lady. Around the storyteller, there was another boy, who looked bored, even if he had been hanging on every word of the story. He had come just so he could say that they were in a graveyard, even if it was also part of a park.
"Well, Serene. That day, the Phantom and his angel took their baby home to the lair. Their lives were fairly uneventful. They lived in happiness, with the two of them running the opera house."
The boy scoffed. "That's stupid. How could they have run the opera house if they were both ugly?"
"That's easy," the old lady said, looking down in sadness at the boy. "You see, after he had shown the world that he wasn't a monster, the Phantom of the Opera was able to stay up in the world of the light. He did it for Amelie, so that the baby girl and her mother could live in the light."
"I think you're lying, Grandma," the young boy said, standing up and walking around in circles. He had no patience, like little boys did. "Everyone knows that the story of the Phantom of the Opera and Christine is just a story. I think you used our names to make a story so we wouldn't be bored."
The elderly lady looked at the boy. Him and his sister Serene were twins, and were only eight years old. His name was Eric Charles, and hers was Serene Lotte. Their grandmother remembered the day they were born, and how she had cried when her daughter named them after the characters in her favorite story.
"Oh? And how would you explain Leroux's first words? 'The Opera Ghost really existed'? Do you call him a liar?"
"Yes! He was a lunatic who didn't know what he was talking about. I've been to the opera, sat in Box Five, and never had an encounter with the ghost."
Laughing, the old lady looked at him. "Just because he was called the Phantom doesn't mean he was immortal, Eric."
"Yeah, Eric!" his sister cried, standing up and moving over to him. "You just hate love stories."
The boy huffed and moved away from the two. He leaned on a gravestone and watched the two ladies. Even if he was only eight years old, he still felt like he was responsible for their safety.
After Serene moved back to her grandmother, she puffed up her pale blue skirts and sat down on the bench next to the older woman. "What happened afterwards? With Christine and Raoul? Did they ever come back?"
"Yes, they did," the lady said, looking down at the girl. "When Amelie was about twenty years old, they came to visit. Having not ever met them before, Amelie never understood why her parents would have such animosity towards the other couple. When they had begun to shout, Amelie sat down next to the strange boy they had brought with him. And they both listened to the argument, not understanding what was going on."
'You are not welcome here, Christine!'
Christine looked up at Erik, surprised at the anger in his voice. She had liked to remember that his voice was only kind, and angelic. She had only heard this harsh side of his voice once: When she had taken off his mask.
'I didn't think that we would be so unwelcome,' she whispered, looking out over the lake in the lair. 'I regret what I did, and have regretted it since the day it happened. Can't you understand that I'm trying to make amends?'
Sarine looked at her, her mouth agape at what she was hearing. 'Trying to make amends? Make amends! You tried to kill me, Christine! You locked me in a barn, and almost killed me and Amelie. You didn't care then, and you surely don't care now.'
The saddened woman turned, tears running down her cheeks. 'I regretted it!' Wiping her tears, she took a step towards the masked woman. It hurt for her to see the mask, and know that she caused what was under it. 'If Erik hadn't come soon, I would have gone in there myself!'
'Liar,' Sarine hissed, slapping the woman. 'You would have left me there to die, telling Erik some sob story that you tried to save me, but couldn't.'
Raoul took a step forward, stepping between the woman and holding his wife delicately in his arms. 'Sarine, Erik, please. The past is the past, and it can't be undone. The only thing we can ask is forgiveness for what we've done in the past. The world gave you a second chance, after you had killed many people, Erik. Can't you give us a second chance as well?'
As Sarine moved into Erik's arms and lay there, trying not to smell that smoke, see the flames, feel them licking her skin, Erik petted her hair and looked at Raoul. And he realized that they were mirror images of each other. They weren't that different. Here he was, his old rival, holding onto the woman he loved as he tried to comfort her through her sobbing. And each woman was holding on to her husband, her anchor. They each relied on their men for strength, and the men relied on their wives for assurance. And though Raoul's assurance wasn't that he could be loved through his looks, he still had to be told that Christine loved him.
'I suppose everyone deserves a second chance,' Erik said, causing Christine to look over at him.
Sarine, too, looked up at him. And she saw something different in his eyes. Admiration. She had never seen him admire anyone in his life, and yet that look was there. Moving to see where his gaze was settled, she was even more astonished to find it was on Raoul. Why would he be admiring of Raoul de Chagny?
'Sarine, Christine. I think it's time for you two to apologize. You both have done things to each other that weren't right, and now it's time to make amends.'
Both women stared at Erik as if he had spoken another language. They couldn't stand to be in each other's universe, let alone be speaking to the other.
'Erik, what are you—'
"Sarine, please,' he asked, cupping her cheek with his palm and kissing her forehead. 'I wouldn't be asking this of you if I didn't think it was the right thing to do.'
Studying his face for a moment, Sarine nodded and kissed Erik before turning to Christine. When the other lady turned around, Sarine had to look away. When her gaze landed on the two on the couch, and how perfect they looked, she forced her gaze to Christine. Her eyes were still red, and she looked as if she was desperate for this chance to apologize. As she took a step forward, Sarine thought of all of the things she wished to say to Christine. Most of them were words of loathing, and hatred. And then there was one more: thankfulness. She realized that if Christine hadn't left Erik, the opera house wouldn't have been burnt and she wouldn't have come into possession of it. And then she would have never met Erik. Even the fire had turned around in her mind: If her face hadn't been burned, then she and Erik would have one less thing to love each other for more than anyone else.
'I'm sorry, Christine. I'm sorry for my harsh words, and for my striking you.'
Christine looked at Sarine, and burst out into a sob as she pulled her into an embrace. 'I'm so, so sorry. For the fire, for hurting Erik, for. For. For everything…'
As Sarine held Christine, she felt like she was comforting a child. In a sense, her mentality was that of a child, not having had the chance to really grow up. Petting the girl's curls, she tried giving her soothing sounds to calm her.
Watching from the couch, Amelie sighed. The boy looked over at her, and lifted her hand and kissed it. He had insisted that his parents come here, and meet his love's parents. What he didn't know was the history between the two. And yet, it brought him and Amelie together. If the events of the past hadn't occurred, he might not have been able to meet his lover.
'Charles, please come over here. You too, Amelie.'
They both stood up and walked over to the group, hand in hand. 'Yes, father?'
Raoul looked down at the boy. 'Now, was there something you wished to ask Erik? And Sarine?'
'Yes, there was,' Charles said, looking at the masked man. His mother was still being comforted by Amelie's mother, and he found that odd. 'Monsieur, I've known your daughter for a good two years now. And have consequently fallen in love with her.' Giving her a smile, she nodded, urging him to continue. 'I have also come to believe that these feelings are reciprocated. So I now come to you to ask for your permission to marry your daughter Amelie.'
And the room went still. No one spoke, they just stared at the two youngest couple.
'M-Marry?' Sarine asked, looking at the boy. Then she shifted her gaze down at Amelie. Her daughter had grown up so fast, and she never dreamed of the day that she would have to give her permission for her to get married.
Erik, on the other hand, gave a grin. It was funny, the way things came around. The son of one couple fell in love with the daughter of the couple they formerly hated. And he just had to look at the two to see that they really did love each other. The tightness of their hands in each others, the closeness of their bodies. The hopeful look in their eyes. It reminded him of the way he looked when he was at the altar with Sarine on their wedding day.
'I wouldn't allow anyone else, Charles.'
"So they got married?" Serene asked, her eyes wide. "I thought that they wouldn't be allowed, because of what happened."
"But you see, Serene. Erik and Sarine had managed to forgive Raoul and Christine. Everyone deserves a second chance at everything. At life, at school. At music, at games. Even at love. And in that moment, when they each realized that, they grew to love each other. It was the two young adults who brought them together, with their love."
Even as Serene was smiling and wishing she had that kind of love, Eric was shaking his head. "I still think it's a stupid story. I mean, who would believe that after all of that hatred, they would not be angry anymore."
"When you have a reason to forgive, like they had Charles and Amelie, you find it in your heart to give pardon to even the most heinous of things," the grandmother said.
"That's stupid," Eric muttered. "I would still hate them."
"And that in itself would be considered worse than what had occurred between them."
"Grandma," Serene asked. "If the Phantom and Sarine lived in the opera house, where are their bodies? Didn't they die?"
The old lady nodded, looking down at the girl. "I'm sure that they're here somewhere, in one of these graves, they rest together."
After a few moments of silence, the old lady sighed. "Okay, my loves. I think it's about time for us to head home. How about you go on to the carriage and I'll meet you there in a moment."
The twins nodded and ran off, waving hello to an elderly man being pushed into the graveyard by a nurse and driver. The lady nodded at the man as he passed, but he didn't seem to see her. The nurse pushed him to a distant grave, and he stood up, placing something near the headstone. The elderly lady smiled, and looked at the gravestone that her grandson was leaning against. Walking over to the back part of it, she kneeled down at it. Placing three roses against the grass, she closed her eyes and listened.
Floating on the wind were voices. One would think they were being carried from the opera house not far down the road, but the woman knew better. One voice was deep and seductive, wrapping around her mind like a spell. The second voice was one she had heard many times, singing to her in her sleep. It was sweet and high, with a mellow alto. The third voice was similar to the first, except a little less mature. It sounded like a younger woman using an older woman's voice.
'Say you'll share with me
One love, one lifetime
Say the word and I will follow you
Share each day with me each night
A small smile fell on the woman's face as she listened, then as she heard a commotion at the far off grave, she furrowed her brow and watched as the nurse and driver were trying desperately to revive the old man in the wheelchair. Apparently, the walk to the grave had been too much for the old man, and he had died. And then the voices came back to her, and she looked up at the sky. There was something she hadn't heard in the voices the many times she had heard them: a second male.
'Anywhere you go let me go too
Love me, that's all I ask of you…'
A tear slid down the woman's cheek as she nodded, and a smile slid across her lips. They were together now, with each other. Leaning down to touch the roses, one white, one black, and one grey, she sighed.
"Thank you, mother. You taught me to sing. And you too, papa. For making my voice soar."
She stood up and walked away from the gravesite, she went to the carriage. As she reached it, she was surprised to see Eric jump out of the carriage. "I forgot my scarf! I'll be right back."
He had seen his grandmother's reaction at the grave, and he had to know. Stopping at the grave, he looked down at the roses and then at the gravestone. He knew this was his great grandparent's grave, but he couldn't believe what he saw. The headstone, which he had previously leaned against, was plain. There were no dates, simply a picture and an epigraph. The picture was what looked like a full-faced mask, but it was cut into two overlapping masks. One was white, and the other black. The center, where they crossed, was a dark gray. Leaning down, the boy touched the words under the mask as he, too, for the first time, heard the voices sing across the wind:
"Le Fantome et son Ange."
A.N : It's finished. And if you didn't cry, I have to say that writing this, I did. I hope you all enjoyed my story, and hope that it touched at least one of you.