A/N: Woohoo, we broke 300 reviews! Thanks to everyone for their encouragement. Well, I think this is where my story must end. Putting the characters through anything else now just seems…forced. So, enjoy the final installment of the story!
A pair of lips softly brushed Christine's cheek, causing the smile on her face to widen. She pulled back from her husband's arms to flatten the creases he had made in her gown when he embraced her. She looked to her mirror frowning slightly, pressing a hand against her stomach as she turned to the side.
"What is it?" Raoul asked, stepping behind her and kissing her neck.
"My figure. Do you suppose it shall ever be as it was?" she responded, her eyes still on the reflection in the mirror.
Raoul released a low chuckle. "Christine, you are a mother. Your body has nurtured life and brought it into this world. You may not look as did when you were younger, but you will always be beautiful."
The lines in her face smoothed as her frown slipped into a small smile, her eyes laughing. "You really are annoyingly perfect, Monsieur. You couldn't let me be unhappy. Not even for one little second, could you?"
And truthfully, Christine hadn't been unhappy for a single moment in the past two years that they had spent residing in the Opera house. She and Raoul had spent countless hours chasing Christophe across the stage, through the dressing rooms and dormitories. They had helped him explore the Opera Populaire as they had years ago. He had grown considerably in that time, spoiled by those who shared his inhabitance. He received sweets from the ballet rats, toys from the stagehands, all of whom thought him the most adorable child they had ever seen. Christophe was becoming more and more like his father every day, due in most part to the fact that he longed to emulate him. And he had found an extended family in 'Grand-mere Giry' and 'Tante Meg'. He had been the first to offer grand-mere a handkerchief for the joyous tears that slid down her cheeks as Meg was married.
Raoul had spent his time working fervently to produce earnings that would help support his family, having spent a great deal of their money with his purchase of the Opera Populaire. With the money that it earned and a few wise investments in various businesses and a vineyard, he had finally acquired enough money to commission the building of their new chateau. Raoul had personally overseen the plans for their new home and the hiring of the workers, but had allowed a foreman to take his place while the actual construction began. He opted instead to spend his days in the Opera Populaire with his wife and growing son. He was in especially good spirits this night, knowing that his family would be living in their new home within the week. The chateau had been reconstructed almost exactly as it was, with but one exception. An expansive guest house was built where the old stables once stood. As they built it, the workers wondered why the Vicomte would need such large accommodations. Many mused that it was larger than their own homes!
Inspector Reinard had longed since closed his investigation into the escape of the murderous Phantom, finding nothing to incriminate the Vicomte de Chagny or his wife. A thorough search of the ashes that had once been their grand chateau revealed nothing. Reinard was suspicious, but he had been told by his detectives that any body that might have been there would more than likely have been dragged off by wolves or wild dogs. He fared no better with his investigation into the murder of the Duchess Anjou. No one came forward with any information about her mysterious death, and the case soon faded into obscurity.
A knock on the door produced yet another bouquet of flowers to adorn Christine's dressing room. Shortly after she and her family had settled in to their new home, Carlotta had been claimed by consumption. Christine pitied her, for though she truly detested the woman, tuberculosis was a horrible fate that she wouldn't wish to befall anyone. It was at that time that the managers had approached her and asked her to return to the stage. She had agreed, on the condition that her position as the leading soprano not interfere with her desire to be with her family. Andre and Firmin consented, but to their dismay they would soon be seeking yet another replacement for their diva.
Christine hadn't thought it possible that she could have another child, or that she truly wished to after her ordeal, but their family had been blessed with the arrival of Aurore. She had been a difficult birth, and Christine feared that she would lose yet another child. But after a few torturous, uncertain days, the doctor had given them both a positive prognosis. Though Christine could spend hours gazing into those sparkling blue eyes, Aurore truly was her father's daughter. As content as she was in Christine's arms, she cried out whenever she heard her father's voice and would not quiet herself until it was he who held her. She lay sleeping peacefully now in her bassinet.
The door to Christine's dressing room creaked open again. Madame Giry stood in the opening, an exasperated expression on her face. "They are ready to start, Christine. Hurry along."
"Papa, we shall be late again. I don't want to miss the beginning! PLEASE!" Christophe, now four years old, called out in frustration. He was gently tugging at Raoul's hand.
Christine lowered herself down to her son. "Give maman a kiss," she commanded, tapping her cheek. Christophe's lips hurriedly pushed against her skin.
"Can we go now?" he called to his father again.
Raoul looked at him sternly. "Mind your manners, Christophe. You are being quite rude."
Christophe slowly lowered his head, speaking softly, "I am sorry Papa."
Raoul fell down upon one knee. He lifted Christophe's chin with his finger, giving him a warm smile. "I accept your apology."
Christophe returned his father's smile and threw his arms about his neck. Raoul lifted him up and gently patted his back.
"Bon chance, chéri," he said to Christine, placing a kiss on her other cheek.
Henriette sat on the divan near the bassinet, happily knitting a small pair of socks for Aurore. "Bon chance," she resounded.
As they stepped outside the door, Raoul lowered Christophe to the floor. He held tightly to his hand as they made their way to their box. Christophe happily greeted everyone who passed by. They finally took their seats as the curtain was pulled back to reveal the performers. Christophe playfully swung his legs, being unable to reach the ground. Both he and his father watched with rapt attention as Christine performed. Raoul was as captivated by her as he had been the first time he had seen her perform.
The crowd rose to its feet, the echo of their clapping hands ringing off the walls as the performers stepped out for their final bow. Christine curtsied graciously, looking up to the box and smiling happily at her family. Placing her fingers to her lips, she then raised her hand towards her husband and son. The applause and cheers continued for several minutes as flowers were thrown to the stage. Raoul turned his head towards Box Five with a knowing smile, gazing at the darkness within. Amidst all the commotion, it was only he who could hear the thunderous applause that emanated from within.
A/N: Well, there it is. You all knew he was alive, I knew I wasn't gonna fool anyone. Reinard was really the only one who I needed to believe that Erik was dead. Anyways…you know you want to leave me a little something. Don't ya? Go ahead, just push the little button. Love it or hate, whatever. Just let me know.