After that, what is there that needs to be said?

Erik and I were married on August 4th, 2005, the day after my eighteenth birthday. My best friend Meg was on hand for both events, taking more control over my wedding than I could have wanted, arranging for the flowers and my wedding dress, as well as the refreshments. Well, I suppose it could have been worse; Meg always did have excellent taste, and as distracted as I was by Erik, I might have made a mess of things. My dress was lavender satin, a smooth sheath of watery cloth that was finer than anything I'd ever worn in my life before, and was just fine enough to be able to be worn again, at the premier of my opera.

Before I talk about that, what should I say about the wedding? I noticed nothing about it…in fact, all I remember is the look in Erik's face, right before he kissed me at the priest's final word. There was such a curious look on his face, as if he had made a wager with someone, and he looked slightly chagrined, as if he had lost that wager. I always did mean to ask him about that, but something always seemed to get in the way.

I invited no one to my wedding except Meg and her family. They, thankfully, didn't seem to resent me so much for my interruption of Meg's life, and thankfully, Meg didn't suffer either for missing the last six days of school either. Nothing changed between us, save for the fact that we got closer, because if you don't see someone for six months in a row, you definitely miss talking to her.

Nadir was Erik's only guest, so my wedding was probably too small to satisfy most women. Still, it was more than enough for me, and considering some of the looks that were directed in our direction, at times I thought there were too many people there for our good.

At that point, Nadir's family was just about to be released from Iran. Erik had pulled some strings, which in turn moved some mountains, and not only were Mashid and Reza free to leave the country, but Nadir's pension from the police force was returned to its full amount. I will never forget the two of them dancing at our wedding. It seemed too perfect for words.

The night afterwards…well…I don't think I'll discuss that either. Better for the memory to bloom in my mind than to be confined to a small sheet of paper, spelled out by words and crushed by pathetic written expressions of emotion. Anyone who has loved will understand how I felt, on that wonderful night.

And that feeling continued for all the days afterwards. Now, as I look back on those early days, four long years ago, I can hardly tell where the time has gone. Everything seems much the same. I am different, and he is different, but in no great way. I am now 22, and he is 41. That is all.

My first opera premiered exactly 12 months after our wedding. I still smile when I look back on it. Erik looked upon the entire thing as his child, and of course, I argued and fought with him over who controlled what. I eventually ended up taking over, because he always managed to underestimate me, when it came to my knowledge of the theatre. Oh, there were so many nightmares in those days! I actually cried over trying to find the right tenor…we must have auditioned hundreds!

Set design, casting, costuming, and finally, the terrible rush of that final rehearsal. And then, that night…I can still feel my hands shake as I remember trying to put on my earrings. I think I stabbed myself six times, at least, and I was only saved from dying of blood loss by Erik, who took my earrings away from me and gave me a stiff brandy instead.

The other thing that worried me about the opera premier was whether or not Erik would come with me. I constantly encouraged him to come with me to different public events, teasing him and testing him to go further, to try harder. In those first days, he clung to me with childish fear, sensing rejection in the faces of the people around him. And then…one day, he was finally confidant; in fact, it was the day of the opera premier. We stood and blushed together as the audience applauded us, and though it was my triumph, I knew it was just as important to him because he had finally conquered his fears.

Of course, whispers and rumors followed us everywhere. But we didn't let them torture us. When one of the tabloids slandered us, we reared back and made such a statement that none of the papers dared approach us for an interview for months afterwards.

Erik himself, well, he still wears the mask. However, it is the first thing that comes off when we are home together in the evening. Together, though. He wears it when he is home by himself, I know. Though, I would never ask him to go without it in the outside world. I've seen horror movies and tabloid slanders—especially the last—and I would never expose him to that. I am proud of him for trusting me so much, especially considering his childhood and early adulthood. The fact that he trusts anyone is amazing.

What happened afterwards? All the days seem to blend together as I think of it. Each one has been beautiful, and certainly, there have been rough spots, but for the most part, our love has been more than sufficient. I was glad to find that to be true, because, quite frankly, I had been afraid that it would not be. Ridiculous.

There have been other operas since. Erik produced one of his own, a beautiful masterpiece entitled 'Don Juan Triumphant', in which both he and I starred, and that might actually be my favorite memories from these past years.

Actually, the memory I'm making now might be even better. I smile, glancing again at the test results that the doctor just handed me two hours ago. Positive. Positive across the board. I smile and put my hand on my stomach. Eight months and one week from now, and there would be a treasure chest of memories all ready to be made.

I am not sure whether or not I will tell him now. Maybe I will wait until Friday. It is his turn to produce an opera; mine was the last one to come out, and he has been busy at the theatre every day this week. In fact, it was that time alone that allowed me to ascertain why exactly I couldn't keep down my breakfast. Of course, I had my suspicions, since I have been married for four years, but there could have been many other explanations. But I'm happiest about this one.

Friday, I will tell him.

And a new chapter will begin.


Author's Notes:

Well, ladies and gentleman…that was it. Cosi Fan Tutte is officially at an end. Now, before I let you go, I want to explain several things.

First: The title 'Cosi Fan Tutte' is the title of an opera by Mozart. It's in Italian, and it means 'As Do They All'. I thought it would be a good way of poking fun at myself; since, after all, I'm not writing anything that's so very different from what's already been done. Christine winds up with Erik and everything is happy happy joy joy. Of course, this is how I think it would actually happen, so I don't mind it so much.

Second: There are some things that I did that I know some people are confused about. I killed Raoul, which almost never happens. Quite frankly, I don't know why it doesn't. In my mind, if Erik really saw Raoul as a rival, Raoul would be dead. Erik might be noble, but not concerning a rival for Christine's affections. While he makes concessions when they address Christine's specific wishes, I don't think he would suffer Raoul to be a potential rival. I don't actually hate Raoul as some people do; I think that he actually does love Christine very much, and such love makes him good enough in my book. I might think he's a coughpansycough but that doesn't color the fact that he was just a product of his age. Just look at all the men in that movie…if pansy applies to anyone, it's Piangi, or Andre, right? Raoul is Rambo in comparison.

Third: I know that a lot of you were expecting a great big confrontation and angst scene between Erik and Christine. I was actually intending on writing this, and spending another ten chapters getting them back together. In my notes, this was all ready to be written. Then, about two chapters ago, I had a brain wave. If I were in Meg's place, being best friends with Christine, would I actually tell her the truth, if I knew that she loved Erik? Would I destroy her chance at happiness? Would I throw her into such a moral dilemma? I don't think so. Honesty is not always the best policy. And it really wouldn't be here.

Also, if I'm going to be quite honest here, I was getting tired of writing dark fiction. I figured I'd give my fingers a break (they've been going non-stop since I've gotten to college) as well as my mind, and have the great big happy ending a lot sooner.

Forth: Many people have told me that my Erik is very dark, manipulative and controlling. Well, I think that this is actually what he should be. Anyone who has read the original Leroux understands that Erik is not a sugar-coated character. He is tortured, lonely, and his views of humanity are very, very skewed. Christine sets him straight, but not until the very end of the book. Murder is not something that he is unfamiliar with, and if Erik thinks that someone needs to die in order to make either his, or especially, Christine's life better, then it's pretty much a done deal. The murder of Christine's father (the description of which I'm really quite proud of) therefore seems to me to be a very likely occurrence, especially if Erik thought him unworthy of Christine.

So much for general explanations. I'd like now to thank the people who reviewed.

Provacateur: You win the prize for having the most complete reviews. Every time that I was flagging behind and thinking about stopping, you were right there, complimenting me about something that I was doing, and making it that much easier for me to keep going. Thank you so much for your compliments and your support. There is one question of yours that I would like to answer. I referred to Nadir as Persian and not Iranian because he was referred to in Raoul's and Erik's point of view. I know that in European countries that Iranians are sometimes still referred to as Persian. I also thought that his character would be more consistent and recognizable when referred to like that. I know that technically it's probably not correct, but I prefer it that way.

Kagome1514: You win the prize for being the most consistent reviewer. I don't think there was a chapter that you didn't review after you had started reading. You even went back several chapters, and left a review on each one. Thank you for your support, and I have actually read some of your stories, and I will review them, but you must forgive me for having a lot of stuff on my plate right now. By the way, keep up with your French…it's the language of our beloved Phantom, after all!

Phanatic: You rock! Everyone needs to be told that they're doing the right thing, and I appreciated your reviews a lot. Thanks!

I grovel at the feet of these two reviewers:

Wandering Child: I appreciate your compliments as regards my characterization. I always try to imagine what exactly they would do and say. Thank you, and I hoped you liked more in my story than that.

Kat097: You win a prize for being one of my first reviewers, back when my story was a little seedling idea in the back of my head. I was reading your story just as eagerly as I was writing my own, and I thank you for taking the time to review.

Huntress4Peace: I don't think that you reviewed more than once, and you were anonymous, so I could never return the favor, but you were the first reviewer ever, and that always makes writing so much easier, when you have your first word of encouragement. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being numero uno!

Erik'sTrueAngel and Musique de la Nuit: You guys were the first two consistent reviewers I had, and you've both stuck it through with me till the end, and I can safely say, if it hadn't been for people like you, I might have finished, but not nearly as soon. Thank you for consistency, and encouragement.

Amariel Rowan: Your first words in your first review were 'Holy Shit'…yes, you can swear in a review, as long as it's a good swear! I burst out laughing when I read that, and every so often, I go back and look at it, just to remember how cool that was. Sometimes, I wish more people would have swears in their reviews. You made me laugh and write even harder. Thanks.

Meghan: For the most enthusiastic reviews, you definitely win the prize! For each chapter, I could hear you jumping up and down and screaming for joy. I'm so glad that I could make you as happy as writing makes me. Thank you!

IndiaPyro: You win the prize for most similar reviews. But, I enjoyed being reminded that I should always be writing, more, and more, and more!

Terpsichore314: HAH! Yes! Someone else who likes Lolita! Actually, I hadn't thought about Erik in those terms before, but now, you've got it stuck in my head! For the creepiness factor, I will agree with you. For giving me a new perspective on my own Erik, I thank you and send you a prize all your own.

A Phantom Moon: For most bloodthirsty reviewer, you have a category all your own. You complimented me on Charles' death, when I expected people to yell and scream at me for being terribly angsty. I was really thrilled to hear that you enjoyed it so much. I enjoyed writing it very much; it's probably my favorite chapter from an artistic point of view.

Phantomforever: I really enjoyed your compliments about my writing style. I am so glad to hear that it moved you in such a way, making you scared and tense and happy and all of that. You let me know that I was achieving my goal as a writer, and I am thrilled and complimented, thank you!

Anisky and Ethalas Tuath'an: You both made sure that I knew what you did and did not like about what I was doing. I'm sorry I moved the story along slower, but what I really hate is coming into a story and not knowing anything about what is going on, or knowing nothing about the motives of the characters. It is in my nature to be more complete and thorough, giving a better estimate of everything that's going on. Still, your reviews were appreciated and taken into consideration. Thank you for being honest and reviewing consistently!

Dove of Night and Waiting for Calm: You two always loved my writing, and for that I thank you over and over again. Each chapter, you two had something great to say about it. Thanks for the encouragement.

Original Cliché: There are several points of yours that I would like to answer now.

I wanted Erik's motives to be a little unclear, but generally I tried to have him narrate what exactly he was after in each chapter. Try going back and reading his thoughts, I'm pretty sure I covered everything there.

I couldn't make the story Raoul/Meg. My best friend's name is Maegen, and she would have killed me, especially since I took from her character to give life to Meg. She hates Raoul. Besides, I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep Raoul alive at that point.

Erik wanted Christine's letters to arrive so that Raoul would be in a better position to kill. Remember, Erik really wanted Raoul to die at great length, and in great pain.

Erik uses the dollar simply because the Euro is a newer form of money. He doesn't trust it not to collapse. Remember, just because the Euro is stronger now doesn't mean that it can't change. (I confess, my love of the dollar results from me being American…so sue me smiles)

You are right, Bel Canto is a style from the 1800s, used, I believe, by coloratura sopranos. I meant, in the context of the sentence, that modern singing uses a style of Bel Canto. Bel Canto was when a singer would vocalize around a note before landing on it. If you listen to modern pop, there is a sound of Bel Canto in it.

You kept me on my toes, and I appreciate it! Thanks, and I hope this clarifies things for you!

tink20 and you'llbemyangel: My two latest, most consistent reviewers, thank you! You might have missed me earlier, but I thank you very much for encouragement during these last, difficult chapters. You have no idea how hard it was for me to drag myself back to the computer, especially with the end in sight.

kristina and Chantal: Thank you for your reviews, you have no idea how seeing a note from you made it easier to write.

I think that should do it! For all of you who only reviewed once, I thank you for your notes, and they encouraged me to keep going. For all of those who read the story, I wish that you would leave a note as a farewell. I accept anonymous reviews, and all it takes is a click on the button on the bottom of your screen. I want to know if you enjoyed the story, and if you didn't, I'd like to know what I could do better in the future. But, if you didn't review, please come back and read my next Phantom fanfiction. I'll appreciate the little hit counter going up, if nothing else.

Ladies and Gentleman, I would just like to thank you all again. Don't worry, I can't stop writing for long, I'll be back. Please, if you liked my fic now, stop by again and see my newest. I would love to hear from you again.

And now, as it is 12:16 on Monday the 12 of September, and I have class in 9 hours, I think I should really go to bed. Goodnight, all!