Christine removed her black gloves to wipe the tears from her eyes. It had been three days since the tragedy that had occurred at her and Raoul's doomed secret wedding. Raoul stood beside her, hanging his head. He was trying to hide the pain, but Christine knew how deeply he had been affected. She took his hand in hers and gave it a firm squeeze. Christine's eyes wandered to the blue sky above her. She thought it strange that the sun could shine so brightly on such a sad day. How could the birds sing joyously when a man lay before them, dead? Christine heard Raoul cough and she returned her attention to the priest.
"Dust thou art, to dust returnest."
Raoul and Christine each picked up a handful of dirt and threw it on the coffin that contained their dear friend. The day after he had been killed, Raoul and Christine placed an ad in the newspaper announcing the funeral. But she and Raoul were the only ones who had attended. Christine couldn't believe that such a caring and generous man could have lived his life so alone.
When the ceremony ended, Raoul and Christine began to walk back to their carriage, Christine's hand in the crook of Raoul's arm. Christine was distracted by something she saw in the distance. On a dirt road not far from the cemetery, a woman sat peering out of the window of her carriage. She had the darkest hair Christine had ever seen, and piercing eyes that seemed overwhelmed with sorrow. Raoul lifted Christine up into their carriage, but she kept her eyes on the captivating woman. As their carriage began to pull away, Christine saw the woman stagger towards Maurice's grave with a bunch of flowers in her hand.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Raoul asked as their carriage slowed to a stop.
"I'm sure. But I think I should go alone."
"Whatever you wish."
Christine opened the door and walked somberly to the river. In her hand she held a single red rose. As she approached the spot where she had last seen her Angel of Music, she let the tears fall freely.
"I forgive you," she whispered into the wind, throwing the rose into the water. She stood and watched it until it floated out of sight. Christine took a deep breath, and for the first time she felt like her soul was free. It was time for her to let go of the past.
For a long time, Raoul and Christine rode in silence. Raoul stared out the window at the scenery that passed by them; Christine looked down at her empty hands.
"Do you love him?" Raoul asked, his voice full of pain.
"I was thinking about what he said, at the wedding. That you could never love me the way you love him. And I couldn't understand how you could feel so much compassion for him after everything he's done. The only answer that I could think of is that…you love him."
"I did love him. He…" Christine paused, trying to choose her words carefully, "he showed me so much affection at a time when I felt completely alone. I was dealing with losing my father and I needed someone to comfort me. Our passion for music brought us together. Raoul you have to understand, he had no one. When you and I reunited, he felt like he was losing me. He couldn't comprehend that I loved you both. But it's not the same kind of love." Christine turned Raoul's head so that she could look into his eyes. "I want to spend the rest of my life with you. That is a decision that I made freely, and it's one I will never regret. Please don't ever doubt that I love you," she said earnestly.
Raoul gave her a relieved smile. He leaned over and kissed her softly on the lips. When he pulled away, Christine brought her hands to his face and pulled him in for another kiss.
Their lips were still joined when the driver stopped their carriage. Christine stepped out to a round of applause. A large group of people had gathered in front of the Opera Populaire, enthusiastically waiting to welcome their diva back. Christine smiled and waved as Raoul guided her up the steps into the building.
"Welcome back, Vicomtesse de Chagny," Andre said, bowing and placing a kiss on her hand.
"What a beautiful sound. I don't think I shall ever tire of hearing it," Christine said, looking into Raoul's eyes.
Christine searched the faces that filled the room, looking for one person. She let out an excited scream when she saw Meg come running towards her. They gave each other a friendly hug.
"Christine, you're positively glowing!" Meg said, wrapping her arm in Christine's and leading her through the crowd of people.
"I can't tell you how excited I am to be back."
"I want to hear all about the wedding. And don't leave out any details."
"It wasn't anything spectacular, Meg. After…after what happened to Maurice, it didn't feel right to have a big celebration," Christine paused to regain her composure. "It was a simple ceremony, and it couldn't have been more perfect," she said dreamily.
"I'm really happy for you Christine," Meg said, giving her another hug.
"Excuse me, Meg," Christine heard a voice behind her, "But I'd like to dance with my wife."
Christine turned to face Raoul.
"May I have this dance?" he asked, bowing.
"Of course, Monsieur" she replied as she gave him her hand.
He led her to the middle of the floor. The crowd parted to give them enough room to dance. Christine gathered up her dress and Raoul placed his hand on her waist. Raoul nodded to Monsieur Reyer, who struck up the orchestra. When Christine danced with Raoul, the rest of the world faded away and she became lost in his eyes.
Hours passed and Christine could hardly believe it when the music ended and it was time to leave. She felt as though she and Raoul had just arrived. As she moved toward the exit, she endured dozens of pairs of lips on her cheeks. She stepped through the doors into the chilly night. She watched her breath hang on the icy air. Raoul stood behind her, rubbing her arms and shoulders to help keep her warm. When the carriage pulled up in front of the Opera House, he led her down the steps and helped her inside. Christine leaned her head on Raoul's shoulder and rested her hands on her lap. She was soon lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking of the carriage.
"Darling, wake up," Raoul whispered in her ear, "We're home."
Christine's eyes fluttered open. She still had not quite adjusted to calling Raoul's manor home; it was so different from the Opera dormitories that she was accustomed to. The servant girl met them at the door and took their coats. After she curtsied and left, Raoul and Christine were left alone in the dark hallway. Raoul scooped Christine up in his arms and began to carry her towards their bedroom.
"Raoul, what are you doing?" she giggled.
"Sweeping you off your feet."
Raoul kicked open the door to their bedroom. It was lit by the gentle glow of candlelight. He tenderly kissed Christine's lips and neck as he lowered her down onto the bed.
Christine breathed in deeply, reacting to Raoul's touch. He ran his hands through her hair, breathing in her intoxicating perfume.
"Christine, I love you," he said, entwining their fingers.
"I love you," she whispered.
Raoul and Christine spent the night in each other's arms, expressing the love that had been denied them for months. All the emotions and hopes that they had held on to were released in that night of bliss. There were no more worries or fears, just the promise that they found in each other that night, the promise that they were finally going to have their happily-ever-after.
Nine months later, the first of their four children was born; a little boy that they had both agreed to name "Maurice." Christine sat in the rocking chair in front of the large nursery window, singing her son to sleep. She was hypnotized by the light snow that was falling outside. The soft flakes were gathering on the ground, covering the grass in a blanket of white. Out of the corner of her eye, Christine could have sworn that she saw a something move in the shadows. She felt a light kiss on her cheek and turned her head.
"He's so beautiful," Raoul said, letting the baby wrap his tiny hand around his finger. "Are you alright? You looked startled."
"I thought I saw…never mind," she answered dismissively.
"What is it?"
"I thought I saw a ghost."
A/N: Well, that's it! Good? Bad? Let me know what you thought!