A/N: Well, my dear friends, this will be the last chapter to this very long story...over a year has passed since its beginning and this was quite emotional for me. I hope that many questions will be answered in this last chapter. This is the way I have chosen to end it at this point. In the future, during my rewrite, who knows what might happen, but for now...this is the end. It is written as a series of letters, and though it will be different from my other chapters, I hope that you will appreciate it. I do not believe that a story must be tied with a perfect bow at the end, and this one will have some threads left undone...just as the original story of Erik had. I have enjoyed this journey immensely, and I intend to continue writing. I do not know if another fiction will be in the works (it's possible, as I've thought of writing a sort of "prequel" to this one, though it could be quite different) but I want to say THANK YOU to those of you who have stayed with this story and have given me feedback. Some of you have told me this story has made a difference in your lives, and I marvel at that, and can give praise only to God, who can accomplish anything He desires through any means. Thank you, my wonderful readers and reviewers!! I love you all. --AslanHeart


Chapter Seventy-Four(The Letters)

Many years have passed...

My dearest Erik,

I miss you. I am so empty without you. I wish to join you and I cannot dream of living any longer here alone. When you went away, it was as if my heart left my body and never returned. It has been a year, my love. A year today. And all the memories of our life together fail to comfort me. I once hoped that they would bring me peace, but they only remind me of what I have lost, and of what has passed. I cling to the hope I have in our Lord that one day soon I will be with you again at last. I talk to you often, but I know you do not hear me. And you will never read this letter. But still, I feel the deep need to reveal my thoughts to you. I love you. I love you and I always will, my angel.

Your Christine

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My dearest Erik,

I have seen him again. It has been years, yet his eyes are still the same...very kind. But now they have added to them the melancholy hint of grey that I wished never to see again. He has lost much, Erik, as I have. He has lost his beloved Angelique. I remember when they were married...it does not seem like it has been so many years ago. They had three children together who are now grown, and now he is alone, and very lonely. He is in need of friendship and companionship, and...oh, Erik, I have seen him more than once, and I fear that I am betraying you with each meeting. But I know that is not true.

I have struggled to survive on what little we had left after your health troubles and your burial, and I have been doing mending and making things here and there for a local seamstress as she gets too busy to keep up. But I am not making the rent for my little flat here. (You would, of course, say that it needs many repairs.) I sold much of our furniture except for the pieces that were absolutely necessary. I may have to sell your beloved piano soon, and I would rather starve than do so! I have been here for several months now, praying every week for the income that I need. The Lord always provides, somehow. René Michel and Etienne do send me money when they are able, and Gabriela comes and helps me with my meals on occasion. They have each asked me to move in with them, but I have refused so as not to burden them, my love. Sometimes I feel as if they believe I am their child and not their mother. Oh, how I wish you had lived to see your granddaughter given to her husband in marriage! Their first child is expected to arrive any day now. She chose her husband very wisely, and I believe you would have approved. He adores music, and as you know, that was her first love.

My only comfort is in knowing that I will one day be in your arms again...oh, to hear your sweet voice again...my tears have stained this page already.

I am so lonely, my love. Please...please understand my situation. When you were called home, my heart left me...but now I fear that if I attempt to live alone, I will become a bitter old woman. Here I sit and write this and I wonder if you would even care...could you possibly even know? Still, I feel I owe you this explanation. I know that your jealousy died long ago, but my own insecurity leaves me feeling conflicted as to what your wishes might have been for me. And then I wonder...do your wishes matter at all now? You are in another time and place, and I have been left behind.

I ache for you, Erik, with every beat of my heart...but Raoul has expressed his affection for me, and I must admit that I do feel affection for him. Oh, I know that the love I feel for him will always pale in comparison to what we had, my Angel. And I know that his love for me is dim compared to the light in his heart for his departed Angelique. And yet, we recall that which we shared so long ago, and our easy, reliable friendship...at least before I chose you. He is different now, Erik. He has changed. I'm sure you can understand...you changed more than any man I've ever known. I don't know what may happen, but I have to think of my future, however many years I have left on this dreary earth which pales in the light of your beautiful face.

Your Christine

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Dear Ones,

I wish for you to know how much your father and mother loved you, but I have not the presence of mind to speak of it now. I know that you yourselves bore witness to it until your father passed on, both old and wise in years. He was a friend to me, and I will not forget him. He provided all that I needed, even a home, and after your parents returned to France, they allowed me to remain with you for a time until I could find my own home. Do you remember? You were perhaps too young... Your father gave me something after their return. He said, "Monique, I want you to have this. Please...sell it and get what money you can from it. After all that you have done for me, it is only a small token of repayment." I hesitated, but God knows I needed it. I had so many health issues that I could not say no to my friend. He was so concerned for me...but I couldn't sell it. It should have been hers--your mother's. It held such meaning for them both—pain and joy—and I just couldn't do it. I made my way with the help of my daughter, Meg (I believe you met her on a few occasions), who married a kind gentleman, further along in years than herself, but with a giving heart. They sent me money on a regular basis and secured my treatment at the finest hospitals they could afford...and I have obviously lived to tell about it, so all is well. I am moving to Marseilles to live near them and my grandchildren very soon.

I don't know if you read of it recently, but there was an auction a few weeks ago at the Opera. They were selling some things that remained, clearing out the old materials before it was demolished to erect the new one. I couldn't stay away...and I'm sure your father would have understood. But there was something that I knew I must do first...so I took what he gave me: a ring, and I knew he would understand, so I had to do it. I purchased a rose--your father loved red roses, as you may know--and I tied a black ribbon about it. I had quite a time doing so, with my fingers shaking as they were--whether from age or something else, I do not know. Before I finished the bow, I slipped the ring onto the ribbon, and I stood there, at your mother's grave, saying my last goodbyes to my once daughter, and I said, "He is pleased with you, ma cherie, he always was. And now you are together again at last." I cannot ever remembering smiling at anyone's grave before, but on that day, I couldn't help but smile knowing that the ring had returned to its rightful owner.

I saw him at the auction...the Viscomte. He and I both bid on your father's music box. At first, I couldn't understand why he would want it so badly, but then I realized...he knew your mother would have wanted it. He never denied the love between your father and mother. At last, at long last, I know that he accepted and understood it. You mustn't hold anything against him. Love is love, and he loved your mother dearly. Do not hold jealousy in your hearts as your father once did. He would have wanted what was best for her, to be provided for in her final days. And she is with your father now, the great love of her life, united once again, in heaven.

So...with this letter, I bid you farewell, dear children. May the memories of your mother and father go with you and give you strength to accomplish all that you must in this life. Never forget who you are, dear ones. You are loved.

Sincerely,

Monique Giry

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To the Children Whom I Love as My Own:

Though things have been difficult for us, we have overcome with the help of God and with much understanding. I know it wasn't easy for you when your mother remarried. Please know that it was a difficult decision for her to make, but she made it of her own free will. Once upon a time she was naïve about such things and would never have dreamed of such trying choices...but your father was as her very breath, and upon his death she became a shell of the woman she wished to be. The more we spoke and visited, the more I saw the light and laughter returning to her countenance, and it warmed my heart as it did yours. Though I had only a few short years with her until her illness overtook her, I will treasure them for the rest of my days as some of my happiest moments. Your mother was beautiful, and she gave of herself to help others on the mission field for so many years with your father, whose memory I greatly respect. Your mother told me of their life together with such fondness, and to know that her life was blessed was a balm to my once wounded soul. I was blessed to have been the husband of the two most beautiful women in the world. What I did to deserve such a thing I will surely never know.

My time grows short, as you are aware, and my doctors tell me that the cancer has spread and cannot be cured. I will not live to see the Opera reconstructed in your mother's memory, but I would ask that you be there upon its completion to represent the memory of your mother, father, and I, as it was the catalyst for so much of our lives. Your mother would have wished it. She did not know that I had gained ownership of the Opera until after we were married, and I never even told my dearest Angelique that it was mine. I did as she requested long ago and removed my patronage, but when it was offered for sale, I found myself unable to resist. Thankfully, she never asked about my holdings again, and with enough money even the gossip of the papers can be silenced. I didn't know at the time what possessed me to keep the building and land, but once your mother came back into my life, I knew that it had been meant to be. Her husband, your father...his painful past and his memory were locked within its walls and cellars, and I could not let it go. I could not see it turned over to someone who did not understand the significance it held, though at times the bitterness I once felt toward your father was overwhelming--even frightening.

My children, though you are not mine by blood, I love you as much as my own children, and I love your children as well. I have learned so much in these short years I have been given. I have learned to love and to forgive, and I have learned the dearness of life. My children, these are the things which are sacred. Hold them close to your hearts always.

Viscomte Raoul de Chagny

--The End--

A/N: Thank you to God for ALL of my inspiration, to Gaston Leroux for his incredible work (is it fiction or fact? We may never know.), to Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber for his amazing interpretation, to Gerard Butler (whose Phantom won my heart) and to all of you.