I didn't show it, but I was shocked at the Vicomte's lack of resistance to my taking his son. In fact, when we first spoke, not only did he agree to allow me to take the boy with me so that I could cure him, he basically suggested that I adopt him as well! I knew that Cedric and Raoul did not come off as exactly compatible, but for the Vicomte to give up his son to a man he knew as a murderer? This seemed strange to me. I didn't tell Cedric this, but I didn't trust this strange lucky twist, and was in a hurry to leave France before Raoul came to his senses…

Despite my instincts, I accepted the Vicomte's invitation to stay the night at the mansion. In all honesty, we had nowhere else to stay, and if we were to attend Christine's funeral, we would have to stay at least until tomorrow afternoon.

After I tucked Cedric in and made sure he was alright for the night, I went to bed.The guest room was as I'd remembered it, barely any different than that first night I had awoke and heard the sound of the piano playing downstairs. Christine had believed me to be dead that night. Ironically, I now knew she was. I sat on the edge of the bed and played with the hem of the sheets, thinking.

I was relieved to have Cedric back in my life. He was so important to me, and the love I felt for him had changed me for the good, more than the feelings I had felt for Christine ever did. For Cedric, I had become a new man, a gentler, more stable version of my old self. But still, I felt like there was an empty void in my life. I still longed to be loved by a woman..

Of course, Madame Giry and Nadir would help me raise Cedric. I could depend on them to always be there when I needed them. But now that Christine was gone, I doubted I would be able to find romantic love. A part of me still clung to the idea that one day, some how, somewhere, she and I would be together. I had to keep reminding myself that was impossible now.

Or maybe it wasn't Christine that I had been in love with, but the idea of love. It seemed terrible to think such things, knowing that her body was lying somewhere in this house, waiting to be buried. But I could stop the thoughts from flowing.

Maybe I hadn't been in love with her. Well, of course, I had been. But maybe I wasn't anymore.

Strange.

I hadn't missed her after we left for Rome. In fact, I had hardly thought of her; only of Cedric. And it seemed now that I had grieved her passing, I once more felt that I didn't miss her.

I lied back for a moment, resting my head against the pillows. What a terrible thing it is, knowing you can't feel completely whole without a woman to love. No matter how much I had tried to tell myself it wasn't true over the years, I knew it was something programmed in me, something that I couldn't erase; until I had someone to share my life with, someone to sleep beside me and someone for me to kiss and hold and cry to, I would always feel alone. I needed someone to make music for once more…

I had loved Christine. Yes, I had, whether it was justified or not.

I let the tears fall. There was no use trying to be a man about things anymore. No one was expecting me to be.

As I drifted into sleep, the strangest thoughts occurred to me. I don't recall what they were exactly, but they were comforting. Perhaps my brain was just exhausted with sorrow, and it had to think something new, even if it was odd. No matter the reason, I slept well that night. And when I woke up, I was prepared to face the day. Little did I know what I was in for.