Rated: G

Disclaimer - I don't own Phantom or any of the characters in this story.

Summary - Love is knowing when to let go without ever truly forgetting...Short piece set after 2004 film. Can be taken as companion piece to my previous fic, Another Man's Rose, or it can be separate.

A/N - I never had a plan write another brief story to tie in with Another Man's Rose, but this one came to me and basically wrote itself in only a few minutes really.

Let Go

I have many memories of this place.

The white snow that blankets the ground beneath my feet and the monuments dedicated to those who have left this world behind, as well as the cold air that enters my skin and settles against my heart, are intensely familiar sensations.

It is silent here now, but for a time that silence is broken by the sounds that come from within me, the echoes of the memories swirling around inside of my mind, the way the snow swirls as it cascades to the earth.

The sounds are as clear as they were then. The clatter of a carriage as a man races to save the woman he loves from not only a twisted, lonely man, but also from herself. The clash of swords striking against each other as two men engage in a desperate duel for the heart and soul of one so special that she could send a man spiraling into madness.

No victory took place here that day when I helped Christine onto the horse and gathered her into my arms as the man, the Phantom, lay where he had fallen on the snow covered ground.

When the Phantom allowed me to leave his lair with Christine by my side, I had thought it was a victory. Christine and I were free to love each other without the dark specter surrounding us in the shadows.

I secretly came to understand that there were no victories in the dark tale of the Phantom of the Opera, the lovely singer Christine Daae, and the noble, yet foolish Raoul de Chagny.

There were moments of laughter and smiles, friendship and love.

There were also tears, and sorrow, and a tragic song of passion denied.

Love unrealized.

"Masquerade...paper faces on parade. Masquerade...hide your face so the world will never find you."

Oh, Christine.

Even now I can remember the words you uttered so clearly. The song you sang when you were alone. Even now I can hear your breathtaking voice draw out each word with a sadness that pained me more than any physical wound could. And yet I could feel no anger, no bitterness, no resentment. I hurt for you, Christine. I hurt because I saw that you hurt.

I know there was always a piece of you hidden deep inside of yourself that never stopped hurting, and therefore, neither did I. Even as the years passed and we shared many happy moments together, we also shared your hurt.

As a young man in love, I had assumed that I knew all there was to know about that overwhelmingly painful and beautiful emotion. As I grew older, however, I realized how little I had known then. Love was so much more than I had originally believed it to be.

Love was holding you in my arms while your tears wet my neck. Love was wiping your damp forehead with a cool cloth after the birth of our child. Love was the softness of your hand when you placed it over mine. Love was your soothing words when I was angry, and my calming reassurances when you were lost.

And as I reminisce today at the site of your final resting place, I learn even more about love.

I learn that love is the melody of music echoing in the darkness of a man's soul. Love is a teacher who gives you the courage to let the stage envelop you and sweep you away in its majesty. Love is the lyric of compassion, and the art of a man and a woman who touch each others' hearts and sing to each others' souls.

Love is the vibrant red rose and black satin ribbon that is laying upon on your grave. The sparkle of the ring that is tied to the rose is almost blinding, little Lotte, and yet I see so clearly now.

Love is knowing when to let go without ever truly forgetting.

I place the music box down gently next to the rose, and then I let you go.

I can almost hear you singing, and it is love that brings me peace in knowing that you do not sing alone.