Disclaimer: I don't own it…but damn, do I wish I did!

Tears to Shed

Victor shivered as the cool evening air blew through his thick black hair. The only sounds he could hear were his own quick breaths and the crunch of his feet on the half-frozen snow. He was getting closer; he could feel it in the air. An instant warmth seemed to course through his body when he saw it. Though nearly ten years had passed, it looked just the same.

The stubby tree poked out through the mounds of snow, its branches twisted, its bark brittle, many roots protruding from the snowy soil. To Victor, it was one of the loveliest sights in the world. He approached it breathlessly, savoring the memory of the night he had first set eyes on it. A small smirk came to his thin lips as he recalled the way he had been bumbling through his wedding vows. He never was good with words. As his thoughts traveled to the moment he had first laid eyes on his lovely Corpse Bride. His smirk became an audible chuckle .How foolish he had been, running like a madman when she had first approached him. She must have thought I was mad, he mused to himself.

As he lowered himself onto a nearby stump, Victor recalled the second (and only other) time he had found himself this deep into the woods, in the presence of the ancient tree. He had been nervous. More nervous than almost any other time of his life, for he knew what his betrayal would do to her…how it would crush her… And yet, despite his worry, he had not been able to help but notice how radiant she had looked bathed in moonlight.

Returning from his reverie, Victor took a long, deep breath as he gazed at the clear, starless sky. He cleared his throat nervously and whispered into the still night air. "Hello, Emily." He paused, letting the words sink in. Maybe he was foolish to be out here, alone in the woods, speaking to no one…yet he knew this was something he must do. "I know you can hear me…I can feel it." He paused yet again, thinking of how to continue. "Emily, I…um… That is to say, I really…" A heavy sigh escaped his lips. "Oh, Emily, I'm sorry… I'm a positively atrocious speaker ...But you know that all too well, don't you?" He chuckled softly. "But I hope you'll find I've improved quite a bit since we've last spoken."

A sense of calmness filled him as he began to speak more from his heart and less from his befuddled mind. "I wanted to tell you that I miss you, Emily." Victor felt as though a weight had been lifted from his chest. "Everyday." He added, truly meaning it. Victor suddenly realized how blasphemous his words must have sounded. "I'm sorry; I know what you must be thinking. I do wish I could see you, but I assure you, I love Victoria more than life itself. Believe me when I say that your sacrifice was not in vain…" His words trailed of as the hot prickle of tears threatened that corners of his eyes. "I've always wanted to thank you for what you did for us… Words simply can't describe…" He choked back a sob before continuing.

"That's actually why I'm here tonight, Emily. Today, our daughter… oh, you would have loved her… she came up to me and said 'Daddy, listen! I've taught myself a song!' and she marched right up to the piano and began to play. Oh my…it was beautiful. I recognized it immediately. It was the same tune I had played her when she was an infant… the same song you and I had once played together so long ago. Emily, just looking at her…seeing my little girl, my own little Emily, play with the same passion that you once did… It was too much. As I began to weep, she was so worried. But I just smiled, Emily. I stared at my lovely daughter who shares your name, talent, and spirit…and smiled. She is the mirror-image of Victoria…so beautiful and delicate…and her quiet demeanor, well…I'm sure you know where that is from… yet she is still so much like you… I'd like to think you had some doing in that, Emily."

Victor smiled, imagining how Emily's face would have lit up had she learned of his daughter…how touched she would be that her name has carried on… But Victor knew, in his heart, that he was truly talking to the wind, no one else. Emily was gone…she had ascended to a kingdom truly worthy of her beauty of body and spirit. Wiping a few tears from his pale cheeks, Victor got to his feet and stared once again at the gleaming night sky. "Goodbye, Emily…" he whispered.

As he began his way home, Victor saw a small flutter from the corner of his eyes. The breath caught in his throat as a delicate white butterfly glided through the trees toward him. It landed on his thin shoulder, grazing its soft wings on his trembling cheek. Victor gasped in amazement as it circled round his head then flew straight up, towards the heavens, until it was out of sight. He closed his eyes, tracing his long fingers along where the butterfly had stroked his cheek. "Oh, Emily..." With a final glance at the gleaming full moon, he continued homeward , the silence surrounding him once more.

The End