Cecily used her cane to push open the door as she shuffled through the letters, flinching slightly as she put weight on her bad knee. It had been bothering her something terrible of late, and the bone-biting cold of a Quebec winter did not help matters. "After five years, you'd think I'd be used to it," she muttered. "Of course, five years in the beauty of Italy does spoil one awfully in regards to the weather."
She sat in her usual spot for reading the mail, a window seat that overlooked the garden, as cold and empty as it may be during winter. Erik had planted several evergreens to make sure there was always something to look at. That was the second year in Canada, for her birthday. For a moment she just looked out at them, thinking of her husband.
Erik had taken on several students in various aspects of music: piano, violin, and of course vocal. It had made Cecily uneasy at first, the thought of Erik teaching someone to sing. She couldn't help imagining another Christine, despite her knowledge that Erik would never leave her. In the end, Erik had agreed to only take in boys, and his first vocal student had recently been hired as the lead tenor for the New York Metropolitan Opera. It had been quite the little triumph for Erik.
She could hear fingers dancing over the piano in the other room, a signal that Erik's lesson for the day was nearly over. He had a tendency to let the more advanced students pick a piece to work on at the end of every session, and it sounded as if this one was going fairly well. She smiled, recognizing the piece as one of Erik's own.
She turned back to the letters in front of her. She opened the first, postmarked France. Marie Giry informed her about the goings on of her life. She had been hired at another, smaller opera house after the closing of the Garnier. Meg had married Daniel seven years before, and they had a nice, quiet life just outside Paris. Christine and Raoul were rarely noted in the letters, usually in a side note for Cecily if at all.
A small envelope from Italy was next. After leaving the opera house with Nicholai, Cecily had only gone back once to collect her things and make a final goodbye. She had helped Erik pack up what he needed from his home, and they had not been to the opera house since. They had instead gone to see Linnea in Italy, and ended up staying five years in a nearby town. Cecily's Italian had improved considerably. Fabrizio's family had been nearly as welcoming to Cecily and Erik as they had been to Linnea, and both Cecily and Erik found themselves in a real family for the first time.
She looked up as Erik entered the room. Erik rarely wore the mask around the house anymore, and the fresh air and disappearance of the rubbing between skin and leather had caused certain parts of his face to improve. He was still afraid to leave the house without the mask, but he even let those students who came to the house see his face. Today, he was apparently exhausted, as he sunk down into the chair nearest the window and sighed. She watched him concernedly for a moment before he looked up. "What is it?"
"You're gray hairs are beginning to show," she taunted lightly.
He smiled and shook his head."Only from living with a difficult woman." He laughed at her best effort of looking put out. "What news from the world today, little cat?"
"A letter from Linnea. Gustavo, the 11 year old, is nearly completely recovered from the horse fall, and the doctor says he can take off the brace, well, last month, now that the letter has finally made it here. But Fabrizio's father passed away."
Erik put out a hand and laid it on her leg in a comforting gesture. "Shame. Guido was such a good man. And a dedicated French learner, I must say. How's the family going afterward? His wife, Katerina?"
"At the time of the letter it was fairly recent, so I wouldn't really know now. I hope she's going well." She sighed, but immediately looked back down at the next letter. "Marie wrote one too. She's doing well, but finding the girls aren't as attentive in her new job."
"If I know anything about Marie, which I do, I'm sure she'll be able to get them into shape in a little while."
Cecily laughed. "Yes, I'm quite sure of that. She also writes that Meg and Daniel have another boy. They named him Gaston Louis Alfred Leroux. Says he's a plump little jolly boy. That makes what, five children now?"
"I do believe so." He shook his head in amusement. "And the last letter?"
"Addressed to you," she said, handing him the letter. "I didn't even peek."
Erik took his time in opening it, knowing it drove his wife crazy with curiosity. "Even if you had, I'm sure it's all in English. But hold on, love, the letter will say the same thing now or later. And I'm rather hungry. How about we go out to eat and deal with this later?"
"Erik! You fiend! Open the letter! I've been itching to do it since I got the mail, but I've been good, so don't be so cruel to me!"
He went over and kissed her. "I could never be cruel to you. So dinner?"
Laughing, he tore open the envelope. He had applied for a position in Juliard's School in New York, and the letter was almost sure to be a response. He scanned the letter for a moment, but didn't say a word. He didn't need to. Cecily could tell by the sparkle in his eye that it was an invitation to join the staff. He smiled and looked up at her. "So a little celebration dinner then?"
She stood up as quickly as she could, but he already had her arm and was helping her to stand by the time she threw her arms around him. "I suppose so, since I'm going to have to start packing up all the dishes now, so we can send them to New York. And we'll need to start looking for an apartment or whatever such thing is called in America. And…"
He put a finger to her lips. "All things for later. Come on now, we're going out."
He started to walk away, but she pulled on his hand. "Erik, just one thing."
"Does this mean I really must learn English?"
Laughing at her troubled face, he laughed. "Of course not my dear." She eyed him carefully, having not heard the answer she was expecting. "It means that you must learn American." Running into the bedroom to avoid her playful jabs, Erik laughed loudly, a sound echoed by his wife.
A/N: I hope, readers, that you have enjoyed this story. I hope to someday have the time and motivation to rewrite this story, weaving it together a little more tightly, but for now it will rest as it is. If you have any suggestions concerning anything from the grammar and spelling to the flow of events, please let me know, and I will consider them in my rewrite.
Once more, I hope that this history of the Opera Ghost and a chorus girl has pleased you to read as much as it has me to record.
In one note, the reference to Gaston Leroux is of course not entirely correct. He was the first child of four to Dominique and Marie (Bidault) Leroux, if my sources are correct. The name is correct, having taken Alfred from his father's middle name. He became a renowned writer and journalist, covering events such as the Russian Revolution for the Parisian journal Le Matin. In English, of course, he is most well known for the 1910 novel Le Fantôme de l'Opéra, but he is also the author of the first locked room mystery novel, Le Mystère de la Chambre Jaune (The Mystery of the Yellow Room) (1907).
Merci et à la prochaine fois,