Surprise! An epilogue! Hehe… but this really is the last part of the story, a rather short one, but still, it contains loads of info. Thank you again for reading and reviewing!
X X X
X X X X
Throughout the following four years of their married existence, much had changed for "the Destler family", as Christine often called them with a kind of pride – which always managed to conjure up a smile on Erik's face, whether an amused one or a sincere one. Their travels had become somewhat regular, with the exception of Christine's pregnancy, which ended a month before its time. The child and the mother both survived, though the latter had been rendered unconscious for some time, due to the complicated surgery. It had been up to Erik to name the child, the boy, and he simply chose a well-known and dear name to him. Charles. Afterwards, however, life returned to normal… or as normal as it could get with their problems, which was Erik's quote.
Naturally, the pregnancy and childbirth were difficult to hide from the public, in whose eyes the name "Daaé" stood very high. Christine often practiced the small back-story Erik had prepared for her, learning some things by heart. She repeated the little tale about how she desired privacy and to be free of the papers for a while, which many accepted easily. Often, people would ask to meet her husband, but Christine most often respectfully declined, claiming that he was a busy man. It was more than true.
After Giovanni's death, which wasn't long after Charles's first birthday, Erik suggested that they leave Rome and take up residence in France permanently. The house in Rome held too many memories, not all of them pleasant. Christine agreed, much to the joy of the management of the Paris opera house. As a small welcome party, they arranged a spectacular masked ball. There, Christine was able to introduce her husband quite easily. However, she herself had been startled slightly when she saw him dressed as the Red Death for the first time. To make them a pair, she had been dressed up as Ligeia.
There had been sufficient time to answer all the questions of the gossip loving society and to experience a short reunion with Raoul. He had recognized her and only quickly asked if she was alright, surprised when she announced that she was now married, because she had always signed her letters as simply Christine, Christine D. or just C.D. the encounter went pleasantly enough until the moment the crowds shifted and Red Death appeared at Ligeia´s side, wordlessly giving out the order that it was time to move on.
Christine had visited Madeleine only once or twice, to show her her grandson, before the older woman fell victim to Death herself. Erik couldn't be persuaded to come – for him, the matter of his mother had been resolved and thus he had no wish to reencounter her. She sent him one last message through Christine, which he received with indifference: "My blindness deserves your resentment… your face never deserved mine… forgive me when I am gone."
Erik resumed his lifelong goal of building something beautiful to honor Giovanni. The first house he had built had been for his family, as they had sold the one in Boscherville. The furniture and valuables from both the house in Boscherville and Rome had been moved to this home on the borders of Paris, which was envied by every neighbor. It had been build quickly, it had a sense of privacy and had enough space to allow a child to grow up peacefully. With such advertisement, it was easy to start a business, albeit an eccentric one, and soon, it became a fashion for the local rich Parisians to have houses built by the mysterious architect.
Then came the opening of the six months long competition for a professional or amateur design for the newest opera house. By then, Charles was almost six, already absorbing all knowledge possible from his surroundings. Had Christine not had contacts among the opera people, being the prima donna by now – Carlotta had made a rather dramatic permanent exit when this had been announced and went to a rival opera house – it was highly likely that Erik would have missed it entirely.
"Then you would really have to make good on your promise to haunt the opera house." Christine had noted with a small smile. "It would be a revenge of sorts."
"A good opera house should always have a ghost, my dear – it adds the mystery that attracts people. Most people go there to be seen, not to see. And a ghost would certainly be an… amusing feature." Erik had told her.
"Well, when I see a want-ad in the Revue Théâtrale, I shall give it to you at once. You would certainly get the job."
Erik didn't answer, simply embraced her, slightly possessively. Yes, a ghost he had been and a ghost he could be, if required. Having her and Charles, who needed anything else? Any ghosts of the past they had had been set to rest, including that of Nadir, who had appeared in Paris some time later, after five years in a Mazenderan jail, which made Erik remember the conscience he didn't seem to use that often, but surprisingly, the daroga was pleased with him when they reencountered each other.
"I had been worried, you know, that you would do something very irrational." Nadir had confessed, "That I would have risked all for nothing."
"We have very different views of rational and irrational, my friend." Erik had noted softly, "This was about the most irrational decision of my life – and, wonder of wonders, the best."
The sound of Charles playing the piano brought a momentary silence to their conversation. Reasons for such a statement didn't need to be asked. Nadir left the strange residence that night with a sense of satisfaction. At times, good could be created from ill, and this seemed to be one of those cases.
At times, one couldn't question whether or not this had been the work of God… the only option was to accept it with gratefulness and savor the joy.