A/N: Written for the POL fourth morbidity contest – A Valentines Day special! This story placed eighth of out of 22 stories, so woohoo! Enjoy and review, please.
It was a single envelope that was found. Trimmed with black edges and traces of red wax still on the back.
Within that envelope were sheets of paper, written in a dignified hand, a well educated and sensible hand.
The small, red dots of blood that stained the cream paper were the only physical sign of what had occurred, although if one paused to read the letter, it became clearer. Those words had only been intended for the eyes of one being, and that person was long dead. It will not matter if we read the words now, the words that were written for a man who was not a man, for a ghost that was not a ghost.
They were written for a being whose love had not died with him.
I am unfortunate in that I was never able to properly make your acquaintance. But there were regrettable circumstances that kept us from meeting as two men should. I am aware that you are now deceased but without these words to explain my actions, they would appear to be the work of a madman.
I wish to write of Christine. For I am well aware that you loved her more than life itself. Why else would you die once she had left your side? Perhaps I would have done the same thing, I cannot honestly say. I don't know if I have ever experienced love as powerful as yours for her, although I certainly loved her in my own way.
To properly explain what I have done, I must tell you of what has happened since your demise. When the notice appeared in newspaper, Christine at once requested that she go to you, to fulfil your bargain. I had been ignorant of the fact that one can make bargains with the dead, but she assured me of the possibility.
Christine told me of everything that occurred in the cellar, you see. Of how you made her your living bride. I cannot possible describe the pride I felt at her bravery, and I am sure you felt the same.
Things were better before your death. Christine was sweet and happy. We lived life as it should be lived by two young lovers. And yet, you were always there, always just a few steps behind us, waiting and watching.
I admit, I hated you for the dark shadow that you cast over us.
She went to you. She buried you, in a tomb in the graveyard that lies outside the city. It was her idea, but I implemented it. You lived your life below ground, in darkness. In this tomb, you were at least above the ground. I had the cities best architects design the mausoleum and I made sure that Christine approved of everything. I was fortunate enough to meet the Persian in those days. We met on only one occasion and I do not believe that he took to me. But I respect him as a good man.
I truly believed that things would improve after that. But they didn't. They grew worse.
It was Christine.
She did not speak of it, but I saw in her eyes the pain that your death had caused her. No, it was more than pain.
It was regret.
I would have given Christine the world, if it had been within my power to do so. The stars would have been hers, had she commanded me to retrieve them. I was her faithful servant and yet I could do nothing to ease her pain. I could not play sweet music to soothe her soul or sing in a voice from Heaven.
She always wore the gold ring that you bestowed upon her. I did not object, although I offered to buy her another ring, one with diamonds and costly jewels, but she refused. "It is his gift to us. We cannot refuse it." That was what she told me and I did not argue. Her happiness was everything to me.
But, as time passed, it became quite clear to me that I could not grant her happiness. There was not a thing within my power that I could do in order to make her smile. She smiled less and less, and when she did it was never through my influence. I strained my mind, thinking and thinking of what to do to make her joyful again.
I had what I believe was an epiphany. I realised that if I could not make her happy, you would.
So I have brought her to you. I gave her medicine to make her sleep and brought her here to you. There shall be no repercussions; no one has seen me here. The only sign that I was involved is this letter and it is for you alone.
Perhaps I am mad. But if that is true, it is love that has created this insanity. You were a man very much in love and you did many things that have been described as mad. But now I understand why you did it and I embrace this insanity willingly.
Take care of her, Erik. I love her more than my own life, or the life of anyone else. When she wakes, it will not be for long. I have administered a drug to her. Soon she will join you in your eternal sleep and you shall be together always. And she will be happy at last.
I hope that you will be happy. Love does not die with the flesh. Love is eternal. I learned that from you.
Your faithful servant and friend
Raoul de Chagny
One day, in the future, the mausoleum will be opened and this letter will be found, torn open and spattered with blood. It will not be found at the foot of the stone tomb where it was carefully placed, but tossed onto the floor by a terrified hand.
It will be reached only by stepping over the corpse in the doorway, clad in a black gown, torn and disintegrating with age. It is the body of a woman and on closer inspection, it will be discovered that the blood speckling the pages is hers. The blood comes from her fingers, where the flesh and nails were torn away as she scraped at the harsh stone of the walls. Pieces of her can still be found between in the cracks of the bricks and stones, small chunks of skin and flesh, the blood now dried on the stones and on the floor, where she was desperately trying to escape from the crypt where she was left to her true husband, where she became the living bride of Erik, the man who was not a man, the ghost who was not a ghost and the being who made love eternal.