Hello everyone, boy have I got a surprise for you! not only am I updating really quickly, but here it is the last chapter of "Angels and Roses". I will miss this phic, it has a special place in my heart. After all this time, we have finally come to the end.
This chapter is for all of you who have followed this story relentlessly, even when it took me ages to update sometimes. And a special thank you to those of you who took the time to let me know how you felt about every chapter. Your reviews are cherished and they always make me smile!
I hope that you all enjoy this last chappie. (Hugs to all!)
Long Live Phantom!
Chapter 29 (The End)
The year 1870
Dear Angel of Music,
Today - what do I say about today? I feel numb, and maybe that's a good thing. I just found out that my father was killed and I can't even cry yet. I just sat there as Mother Superior told me that indeed everything I had known about my father's death was a lie. And that he didn't die in a carriage accident, but was murdered in cold blood!
She gave me this box that my papa had left for me, but there is no key. I can't even bring myself to look at it. I have been lying here on this bed for an hour, doing nothing but staring at the ceiling. I don't even know why I'm writing in my silly diary anymore. And I know that you'll probably never read this anyway. I mean - what else of what I've known is a lie? Perhaps my father's other promise was a lie too?
He did promise to come back for me and he never did! Why should his promise to send me the Angel of Music be any more real? Perhaps you're not real after all, or perhaps you are but you will never come for someone like me.
Perhaps I have been the biggest fool of all, waiting and hoping for you to come…for my father to keep his promise! For my life to be different! For…
There were ink splotches everywhere and Christine Daee realized that she had started crying in earnest and her tears just wouldn't stop. She was hugging her father's box to her heart with her free hand. Taking a deep breath through her tears, she raised a shaking hand to close the diary and even contemplated throwing it into the small simple fireplace of her room, just to watch it burn to ashes.
Instead, she lay back down on her small bed and held her father's box close to her heart as she cried herself to sleep. It was later that the young woman was awakened by the sounds of commotion and screaming outside.
And it was in the midst of the ashes of tragedy that Christine Daee came face to face with her long awaited Angel… at last…
The year 1860
Erik stood in the shadows of the silent street; he could see the old man from the window, he was playing the violin. Erik had been sent to kill this man. What danger he posed for Lucienne, Erik didn't know. However, it wasn't hard to guess, for Lucienne had wanted Erik to retrieve some incriminating documents that were in this man's possession.
Erik had asked Lucienne bluntly why he didn't send one of his men for this mission, for Erik was not one of Lucienne's men, not in any real sense of the word. He had just designed and supervised the construction of a torture chamber, gotten paid and then started looking for other pursuits. However, he stayed in contact with Lucienne, for Lucienne wouldn't agree to cut all ties with Erik. It seemed that he valued Erik's services and expertise way too much.
Lucienne had informed Erik in no uncertain tones that he had heard of Erik's mastery in these things - he had heard of Erik's assassin days. Since this was such an important job to Lucienne, he wanted the best man available to do it.
Erik's lips thinned in irritation at the memory of the annoying man going on and on about Erik's mastery. He had finally agreed because Lucienne was paying him so handsomely. And what did it hurt? However, for whatever reasons, this job was leaving a very bad taste in his mouth. Apparently, Erik realized a bit belatedly, he was growing a bit of a conscience. Perhaps Ned was rubbing off on him after all. Erik almost snorted in disgust. Whatever this old man had done, apparently he was involved with Lucienne and no one involved with a wretch like Lucienne was innocent…
Usually, Erik would have performed his job quickly and efficiently; however, he couldn't bring himself do anything until the man finished playing his violin. He had a very soft spot for music, and he couldn't risk harming the instrument. But the more he watched from the darkness, the more his conscience irked him as the tunes of the violin rang out in the silence of the night. What if this old man were innocent? What if he had found out about Lucienne's shady business and had some kind of damning proof?
Erik fisted his hands into his cloak. What was the matter with him?
The sound of a shot fired jolted Erik out of his thoughts…cursing under his breath, he moved at lightning speed, invisible as a ghost, as he watched the old man and the violin tumbling to the ground…
That was the night that a promise was made and a ghost promised to take care of an Angel… an Angel named Christine Daee…
The shot had hit the old man square in the heart, though deflected somewhat by the violin, which Erik assumed had served to prolong the man's life - or perhaps suffering - for a few more minutes…It was in those moments of distraction that Erik had gotten shot, in the upper chest, by the same intruder who had shot Gustav Daee…in a spot very close to his heart…Funny, it seemed this assassin had a thing for hearts, Erik thought in morbid humor for a moment, before darting forward, ignoring his wound, and instead taking pursuit of his attacker.
Even wounded as he was, it wasn't long before he captured his attacker; although when Erik had disposed of him, he realized the foolishness of his move. As wounded as he was, he couldn't hide the body, bury it, or return it to Lucienne as a message that he had found him out. Because of his recent physical exertions, he had made his wound worse. So he left the body there on the side of the deserted road and started walking. He didn't know how long he walked, trying to get back to his residence…
Almost an hour later, on a deserted street on the outskirts of town, Erik finally collapsed, realizing three things…one - he had been double-crossed by that bastard, Lucienne, and he knew why… He could almost see it in his mind's eye, see Lucienne plotting and planning…While he had wanted that old man dead, he had also wanted Erik dead, too, because Erik knew too much and he wasn't one of Lucienne's men. Lucienne knew that he couldn't control Erik, so the safest course of action was to try and get rid of Erik. Erik almost growled…The bastard had almost won…two - he had allowed himself to lose a lot of blood in his foolish attempt to instantly end the man who had shot him…and three - there were barely any houses here, this was a very deserted area…but there was a light coming from a small cottage a quarter mile ahead… if he could only make it there…if he could only get his legs to function…if…and his world went black.
Two days later Erik awoke to find himself lying in a small bed, which was too short, his feet were hanging over the end of it…being taken care of by a kindly woman, who told him she was a healer and introduced herself as Madame Giry…
The year 1861 (six months later):
Ned stood silent, as he heard but didn't really hear the priest go on about eternal life… salvation and hope. Ned almost wanted to scream at the man, to howl at the heavens…to rip Lucienne apart with his bare hands. But instead he silently bent down, when it was time, took a bit of dust in his fist and threw it over the coffin. He stood there silently watching them bury his little, sweet sister…fighting to breathe…fighting against the tears which begged to fall but never would…fighting to just stay standing…
"Ned, my man," Lucienne said, placing his hand encouragingly on Ned's shoulder, "I'm really sorry - "
Ned flinched away from him, cutting him off. "Don't you even dare say her name." Turning his icy stare to Lucienne, he stated in deadly calm, "I quit. I don't care what you do to me, you son of a bitch. I quit."
With that, Ned turned around, in front of a gasping, shocked audience, and started walking away. Lucienne jogged to his side and hissed, "Where do you think you're going, you little bastard! I gave you and your little sister everything! If you take one more step, I'll end you!" he growled.
Ned snorted. "What are you going to do, kill me in front of all the guests who are right now staring at you and me suspiciously. You son of a bitch, I hope you would." Turning fully, he stopped in his tracks and taunted, "Do it! I wish to God you'd do it! You would be doing me two favors - one, exposing your disgusting self to everyone and two, you'd be putting me out of my misery."
Lucienne turned around to look at the guests, basically the entire town was there including the police chief. They had all come to attend the funeral of his daughter, and if he didn't walk back to them, hence giving Ned ample time to escape, they would all start suspecting him. In short, as sweat broke out on Lucienne's forehead he realized that he couldn't stop Ned now. He had to wait, at least until the funeral was over. It was a bad situation all around, but Lucienne went with damage control. He looked apologetically at his guests and turned around, walking back to the site of the burial.
The last thing Ned heard was Lucienne apologizing to the guests, and saying that his son wasn't taking the loss well.
It was a week later that Erik, who had been attending the funeral from a safe distance, met up with Ned and made him an offer.
They had a common purpose, and that was to bring Lucienne down, no matter the cost…and his entire network… Ned agreed to work for Erik…and so it had started…
The year 1871 (Seven months after the day Christine parted from Erik)
Christine stood at the cliffside, looking down at the crashing waves. She wrapped her shawl around her more tightly to fend off the cold wind. She took a deep breath and watched as the waves raced against each other and crashed into the rocks, falling into a million pieces, only to unite again once they joined the sea. It had become her ritual to come everyday in the morning and just meditate… just feel for a while, before walking back to the house.
"Christine!" someone called but she didn't pay them any heed. She lovingly hugged her protruding stomach, sighed and whispered, "They won't leave us alone. But I know that you love it here, too."
"Christine, my dear," Madame Giry's voice had gotten closer,
"Bothersome woman," Christine muttered, as she continued to pat her tummy lovingly.
"You shouldn't be here in your condition," Madame berated.
Christine sighed in exasperation and turned to look at Madame who was now standing beside her, but before she could say anything, Madame continued in a gentler tone. "I know that you miss him. But you can't keep on like this. And you must think of your baby. You could easily fall down here, and no one would even hear you scream."
Christine bit her lower lip, blinking away the tears that had gathered in her eyes. Oh, how she missed him…he had said he would find her in a few weeks. It had been seven months and she hadn't even received a letter from him. And what hurt the most was that she had received marriage papers in the mail, indicating that legally she was married to one Erik Rienne, and that she was now the owner of a sizable amount of money left to her by said husband. She didn't even know if Rienne was his real family name or not. He had made sure that she was safe, secure and taken care of…she couldn't even think it, but she knew what that meant. He was most probably dead.
Christine brushed away a stray tear that had rolled down her cheek. No, she wouldn't allow herself to sink into depression; she had to think of her baby now. Erik had given her a beautiful memory, one she would cherish for all eternity. And in her heart of hearts, no matter how bleak the odds, she still hoped that he was alive and well… somewhere… and that he was coming for her… that she would see him again…
Looking at Madame Giry, Christine replied softly, "You're right. I'm sorry. It's just that coming here really calms me." Smiling shyly, she continued, "And I think the baby loves it, too." The baby tickled her in reply. "You see!" Christine exclaimed in loving laughter.
Madame smiled and wrapped her arms around Christine's shoulders, steering her back toward the house. "Just promise me that you won't come here alone."
"I promise," Christine replied.
Once the house came into view, Christine wondered, not for the first time, how Madame had gotten the money to buy such a house. It was a spacious and elegant house, not too fancy but definitely not simple either. When they had first left France, Madame had insisted that they come to England and Christine realized that it was probably what Erik had instructed her to do. And now here they were, in the countryside, two hours away from London.
In a way, the Giry's had become like family to her and for that she was very grateful.
It was also shortly after they had moved, that Christine had found out that she was expecting. Madame Giry had had a few choice words for Erik, before congratulating Christine and showing her support. Christine smiled at the memory.
"Here we are," Madame said as they reached the house. Christine looked to the side at her small rose garden and her smile grew.
"I'm going to work in my rose garden for a little while. I hope you don't mind."
"Of course I do not mind, child. Enjoy yourself." She stopped at the door and turned around to face Christine. "Oh, by the way, Meg has gone shopping for groceries."
"That's good," Christine replied with a knowing smile.
Meg had gone into a depression ever since they had moved. And then to make matters worse, one morning shortly after, she had woken screaming and hugging her stomach, her bed drenched in blood. By the time the doctor had arrived, he announced that Meg had had an unfortunate miscarriage. Ever since, Meg had gone into deep depression; the first few weeks after her miscarriage, Meg would just sit and stare out her bedroom window and cry herself to sleep. She refused to eat or do anything. But Madame had made her eat at least twice a day. She would sit and read to Meg every night.
While Christine was trying to put on a happy façade for Meg's sake, many times she would silently cry herself to sleep. Erik, who had promised to come for her in a few weeks, hadn't come. Two months had passed and not a word or letter from him. She doubted that she would ever see him again. For all she knew, Erik could be dead. And on many of those long nights, when she was lost in her own private grief, in her own silent screaming, she would hear silent footsteps down the hall, and she would know that Madame was quietly pacing the premises, because she couldn't sleep either. Although Christine did not know what Madame was punishing herself for, she knew that she was suffering as well…
It was those visits to the cliffside and the water that had saved Christine from going insane with grief as she waited for Erik, knowing in her heart that with every passing day the chances of him being alive were getting bleaker and bleaker.
When Christine found out that she was pregnant, Meg had distanced herself away from her. Christine thought that perhaps her pregnancy brought back bad memories accompanied by feelings of loss to Meg. She didn't try to get closer to Meg during those times, when she felt that Meg didn't want to talk to her.
Today was the first day that Meg had left the house, choosing to go with the maid to shop for groceries. Christine could see the hope and relief in Madame's eyes. She couldn't know what Madame had been feeling, but she knew that the first few months here had been hell on all of them.
But just like the roses in her garden, where one rose died another blossomed, life went on…time healed the wounds, even if the scars remained…
"We need some potatoes, cucumbers and any available vegetables in general."
"I'll get them," Meg replied to the cheeky maid. "You get the fruits."
Taking her straw basket with her, Meg walked among the throngs of people to get to where they were selling what she wanted to buy. Meg took a deep breath and stopped for a moment in the middle of the market area, just listening to the sounds and watching as the people passed by, doing their business.
One woman was dragging her young son by his ear, berating him for attempting to cross the street without holding her hand. A man was smoking a cigarette in front of a café and Meg wrinkled her nose in distaste at the smell. She then continued her observations: two fancily dressed men were entering the bank; three women with umbrellas were walking down the street chatting and laughing; a carriage and a horse passed by; a girl ran to a doll shop, dragging her mother behind her…Meg closed her eyes and listened, deeply, taking in all the noises of the town. It had been so long since she'd been in civilization. And now here she was back in civilization, but forever changed.
"Miss, miss, are you alright?" the maid was gently shaking Meg, worry etched on her face.
Meg swallowed hard, shook herself out of her morose thoughts and replied, "Yes, yes, I'm fine." And without another word, she started determinedly toward the grocer. When she had bought all the vegetables that they wanted and paid, she made her way out to the street. The maid had gone into the shop next door to purchase fruit. She had just decided to go find the maid when a cab stopped in front of her. Meg told the hooded driver to wait a minute. She thanked her lucky stars for her good luck at finding a cab so easily for them to return. She then hurried inside to call the maid; soon both women came out and Meg handed the driver the payment which she knew was commonly paid and she and the maid got in.
As soon as the carriage started, Meg couldn't shake the niggling anxious feeling that assaulted her. It took Meg several minutes to realize what was bothering her - the driver was eerily hooded, hence completely shielded from anyone's view - and he hadn't even asked for any payment or to where they wanted him to take them.
Her breathing hitched; the carriage had begun moving and there was no way of getting out unless they wanted to jump out of a moving carriage. She gripped the basket beside her with one hand and the other flew up to her chest.
"Miss, Miss Meg, what's wrong?"
Meg whimpered, her breathing became more and more shallow. Sweat broke out on her forehead and she was sure she was on the verge of having a panic attack.
The maid peaked out the window and called out, panicked, to the driver, "Oh, driver, please stop! Stop the carriage right now! My mistress - I don't know what's wrong with her!"
The carriage came to an abrupt halt at the side of the quiet road. As soon as it did, the carriage door flew open and Meg was met with the face of the driver, all her fears, hopes, anger, hate, love coming to life at once as she looked into the deep emerald eyes of the man who had lied to her. Her heart stopped beating for a moment and then pure adrenaline and anger burst through her. Her trembling hand flew to her vegetable filled basket and she hurled a potato, aiming straight for his head.
But his reflexes were much quicker and with a slight chuckle he moved aside so the potato flew straight out the carriage door and landed on the ground.
"What are you trying to do, sweetheart, kill me with a potato?"
Meg flew out of the carriage door, now that it had become a clear exit without him standing in the way. Her basket… her only defense… firmly in her other hand.
"May you rot in hell!" she shouted, lurching forward and turning to face him. It took her a moment to realize that they were already outside of town, on a secluded road, surrounded by forests on all sides. Fear bubbled inside of her. But no - she refused to go down without a fight.
"You don't scare me. I refuse to let you," and with that, Ned, who was smiling in admiration of her, had to duck and dodge the oncoming tomatoes, followed by the turnips. One turnip hit him square in the shoulder, and as he rubbed it, he stated seriously, "Meg, we need to talk."
The maid was watching from the carriage door with morbid fascination, seemingly lost between her urge to laugh and her urge to run and call for help.
"I refuse to listen," she replied in a high pitched, hysterical voice. "You didn't deny it. Ned, you didn't deny it! How could you!"
"Because I didn't want to lie to you!" he replied in sincere exasperation. With that, he swooped down on her and with one swift movement, he had grabbed her by the arm. Although he didn't hurt her, she screamed and tried to break free. The maid moved to defend her mistress, but one icy glare from Ned, accompanied by his deadly calm order, stopped the poor maid in her tracks. "Don't you dare move from your spot. Is that understood?" the maid nodded vehemently, as fear shot through her.
He swept Meg up in his arms and walked with her struggling form into the nearest grove of trees. Ned made sure that they weren't far from the carriage, just out of ear shot of the maid.
He placed the trembling, crying Meg on her feet, and moved a few feet away from her to give her space, as guilt laced his voice and he continued softly, "It's the truth. I once was one of Lucienne's men."
"Oh!" she screamed in outrage and he had to dodge a big cucumber. "And you have the audacity to come for me - after everything you put me through!"
At the back of his mind, he berated himself for not taking that damn vegetable basket from her. He took a deep breath and started.
"Just because I was one of Lucienne's men once upon a time, does not mean that I was a part of those - " sparing a split second to think, he chose his words carefully " - horrible activities that some of his men were sent to do."
He began approaching Meg like a panther circling its prey. "I admit that I was present during one, but I walked outside so that I wouldn't have to witness it." He took a deep pained breath. "But unfortunately I could still hear." He left the rest of his sentence unspoken, before continuing. "I refused to participate in it, and the men did not rat me out to Lucienne, not because they cared, but because they couldn't care less about what I did or didn't do."
Meg was trembling so badly now that the basket had fallen from her grasp and what few vegetables remained inside spilled onto the ground at her feet. She heaved, as a wave of nausea hit her and a cold sweat broke all over her body.
He was standing so close to her now; her eyes, shock-filled, were fixed upon his face. She couldn't move and her trembling wouldn't cease.
"You see, Lucienne had adopted me and my little sister, when my parents had died in a carriage accident. He had witnessed my skills with locks and he wanted me. He saw me as a valued addition to his men." He raised his hand, wanting to brush away the stray tears that were caressing Meg's pale cheeks, but stopped himself when his hand was almost there. He realized that no matter how much he ached to take her in his arms right now, she probably loathed him and didn't want to be touched, especially not by him. He backed a few feet away from her.
"He had my sister under his grasp. She was only seven when he adopted us, barely twelve when he started sending me out on missions." He spoke softly and even in her numb state, Meg thought his voice was shaking a little. Ned ran a trembling hand through his hair. "I just - I couldn't let any harm come to her. I couldn't - " he cut himself off and swallowed hard, before saying slowly - "I understand if you don't ever want to see me again. But I just had to explain. I just had to let you know - "
She shook her head in disbelief and interrupted him with a shaky, raspy voice, "I - I don't know what to think right now. This is too much. I can't take much more of this."
"I'm sorry," he whispered sincerely, as he walked back to her and brushed his hand across her cold, wet cheek, unable able to stop himself. He repeated broken-heartedly, "I'm so sorry for all the pain you've been through. I'm so sorry… But if you will let me - " Meg sobbed as he continued…repeated " - If you will let me, I will try for the rest of my life to make it up to you. If you still want me, I am yours - body, heart and soul. You have the whole of me."
He paused for a moment and said the hardest words he had ever said, the words that would/could cost him his heart. "But if you want, I will give you a divorce. Or I will simply stage my death and you could be a respectable widow. And you won't see me ever again. I'll leave you alone if that's what will make you happy."
Meg sobbed again as she stepped away from his touch and hugged herself tightly. She had to regain some control of herself but before she could think of what she was saying she brokenly blurted out, "I lost the baby."
Ned looked sadly at her; he had already known that from the first moment he had seen her in town. She should be sporting a big tummy by now but she was still as thin as he remembered her. Actually she was thinner now, and paler. She looked so fragile and weak, and he ached to shield her and protect her. He made a mental note to make her eat, if she took him back that is.
"I realized that, the moment I saw you." Not caring if he was moving too fast, he took her in his arms and was surprised when she sagged, sobbing, against him and didn't push him away. "I'm so sorry, sweetheart. I'm so sorry I wasn't there to help you through."
After a while of weeping, she stated in a thin shaky voice, "I just woke up one morning - " her voice hitched " - to a very deep sharp pain in my abdomen. There was a lot of blood. By the time the doctor arrived, he s-said that I had suffered a m-miscarriage."
"Shhh. Everything will be alright now. I won't let anything happen to you." And he tightened his arms around her.
Her crying had calmed down and they just stood there, him afraid to move, afraid that any sudden movement on his part would break the moment or would send her away from him and she just stood there in the sanctuary of his arms, feeling the numbness that had been with her all these months starting to melt away. She took a deep muffled breath. She felt as if she were coming back to life in his arms. And then suddenly she remembered and asked, in a semi-muffled, tired voice, against his chest, "What happened to your sister?"
A few moments of tense silence passed as he continued to gently move his hands up and down her back in soothing motions. She could hear his breathing catch a little, before going back to normal as if he was fighting to keep his emotions under control. Then he answered in a calm voice, "She died, a long time ago. She died of the scarlet fever. After she died, I directly defied Lucienne and left his service." He had fought so hard to protect her… to shield her… to give her the best that life had to offer and he had failed. He had failed his sister, and now he had failed Meg. His parents would be so disappointed…
While he was lost in the midst of his silent self-flagellation, the voice of an angel lifted his heart to the doors of heaven, as Marguerite Giry uttered her next words, right against his heart.
"I don't want you to leave."
Christine sighed in exasperation; the rose simply refused to be planted in the spot that Christine had deemed the best place for it.
"Now why are you being so stubborn?" Christine spoke softly to the white rose. "I only want what's best for you."
"Well, maybe it doesn't want to be planted there." Christine gasped at the sound of that magical voice as she whirled around while trying to stand at the same time, which only served to make her lose her balance and trip. Horror dawned on her as she realized that she was going to fall, but a strong pair of arms caught her, pulling her up and steadying her.
She turned around to face the intruder, her brain refusing to function. When her eyes met Erik's, she swayed in his arms. "E-Erik?" she whispered, her voice, her legs, it seemed everything in her, refused to function. The last thing she remembered was the look of shock on Erik's face as his sight fell on her protruding tummy. Then she felt herself being lifted up in a pair of strong arms, while her world went black.
Erik cursed himself as he carried her inside the house. He was such an idiot; the one time he had taken her without any precautions, because he stupidly couldn't control himself anymore, he had gotten her pregnant and then had left her for months, when he had told her he would find her in a few weeks. She must have thought he was dead or that he had abandoned her.
He had handled this wrong. True, there were things that had needed to be taken care of. If he could have come for her sooner, he would have. But he had had to clean up the mess of Lucienne and his men and also anonymously send incriminating papers to the police about Lucienne so that they wouldn't be so adamant about finding his killer. And now he had everything ready for her, for himself. They were…she was safe. And he wouldn't let anyone harm her ever again.
He gently placed her on the sofa and traced the line of her warm cheek, her plump, slightly parted lips. "Christine, Angel, wake up."
"What happened?" Madame came running down the stairs, her eyes accusing. "What are you doing here?"
"We need some smelling salts," Erik replied, ignoring her question. Although Madame's anger flared at his dismissive tone, she rushed to the kitchen and got some. As soon as she got close to Erik, Erik took the smelling salts from her hand and brought them to Christine's nose.
Christine coughed and frowned, coming awake. Her eyes fluttered open, coming to dazedly rest on Erik as her gentle hands pushed at Erik's, pushing the smell away and Erik allowed her to remove his hand. He gave the salts back to Madame and said in a low voice, "Don't interrupt us."
Madame glared at him and turned to the kitchen, telling him without words, to his amusement, that she would be close by. And if anything happened she would hear and come out and shoot him.
Christine whimpered and tried to get to a sitting position. He gently helped her, careful not to touch her tummy, afraid that he might hurt her or the baby.
"Erik?" she whispered.
"Yes," he replied tenderly, gently brushing a blond curl behind her ear.
"Erik!" she exclaimed and threw her arms around his neck, sobbing. "I thought you would never come! I thought you were dead!"
"Shhh…I should have come earlier. I didn't know - " he left the rest of the sentence dangling.
And the floods opened. Christine could no more stop it than she could stop a tornado or a hurricane… all the pain, the despair, the hope, the lonely nights, the dark thoughts came flooding to the surface as she let out a wail and tears started falling like waterfalls down her cheeks. She cried openly, hysterically, against his chest, blinded by her tears, paralyzed by the conflicting emotions and the numbing relief that was starting to wash through her.
Erik promptly lifted her in his arms and then sat down, sitting her in his lap. Holding her trembling, shaking body in his arms, shielding her, soothing her as he tried desperately with everything he had to calm her down… he peppered loving kisses across her face…eyelids…cheeks…forehead…jaw line…all the while he whispered, in his most soothing voice, sweet nothings to her. Fear filled him; he was afraid that she might hurt herself or the baby from this emotional outburst. And yet again, it would be his fault.
It took several minutes, which seemed like ages to Erik, for her to calm down a little, and another few minutes for her weeping to turn to occasional hiccupping. And then, as he hummed to her, her breathing slowed and he could feel her body relaxing and calming. A moment later he heard her speaking.
"You're here," she whispered, exhaustedly. His arms tightened around her.
"I'm here… I'm here," he replied as soothingly and reassuringly as possible, running his hands up and down her arms and back in soothing, loving motions.
She took in a shaky breath and with one of her hands wiped the remaining tears from her cheeks. After a moment of silence, she spoke again.
"I'm pregnant," she informed him a little shyly.
He couldn't help but smile. God, how he loved her. "I know, love."
"And you're not angry or sad? I remember when we talked briefly about this, that you - " she moved away from his embrace, so that she would be able to look at his eyes. She bit her lower lip nervously. "Well, you didn't exactly show enthusiasm."
He went back to cursing himself silently. In addition to putting her through all this, alone for months, he had added the worry that his callous words had apparently put her through.
He smiled gently at her, placed his free hand on her tummy, and said, "I couldn't be happier."
She beamed at him and threw her arms around him again, resting her cheek against his shoulder and sighed contently.
"You know," she started, after a few moments of silence, reveling in the touch, the feel, as if they were both breathing from each other, "I really thought you were dead," she said softly, her voice shaking. "And when I received the marriage documents - " she shook her head, blinking back new tears, remembering all the scenarios she had come up with.
She took a deep breath as he silently waited for her to continue, while gently running his hand up and down her arm. She was lying against his chest.
"You know I really want to be angry with you." She straightened away from his chest and looked at him and then ran her hands through his black hair. "But I simply can't. I mean, is Rienne even your real family name?"
He looked deeply into her eyes and simply stated, "No."
Christine flinched a little, at how easily he had said it. Her heart twisted with pain that he could lie to her, so easily. She removed her hands from his hair and placed them in her lap, turning her gaze away from him. She stared diligently at her hands instead as she fought to regain control of her emotions.
Erik placed his free hand beneath Christine's chin and gently lifted her face so that she was looking at him again. He could see the tears in her eyes.
"Rienne was my mother's maiden name. I never knew who my father was. My mother never told me. She never even told me what his last name was. So I used my mother's maiden name." He paused for a moment. "It is the closest thing to a family name that I've got. I hope that doesn't disappoint you."
It took her a moment to reply. But when she did, he couldn't help but smile a little. She threw her arms around his neck and slammed her lips against his. And just like that they were kissing. It turned from a sweet kiss to a passionate one, as she deepened the kiss and Erik groaned. His Christine – oh, how he loved her! Christine whimpered when he started tasting her in return and she twisted in his lap so that her legs were on either side of his and she was facing him, her tummy pressing against his stomach. He was so hungry for her, he could have taken her right then and there. And she was just as eager.
Christine's hands raked through Erik's hair as she moved against him. She could feel him hard, and pressing between her thighs. Even though there were layers of clothing that separated them from feeling skin on skin, she moaned in ecstasy as she moved against him again, and he groaned deep into her mouth at her movements. His hands seemed to be everywhere, on her backside subtly increasing her rhythmic movements against him, or running up and down her back, or tangled in her hair, then cupping her breasts over her clothes…she moaned again, and began unbuttoning his shirt, eager to run her hands over his chest, to feel him… his skin…
Erik twisted and gently turned, pressing her down onto the sofa; he was about ready to rip her dress in half, when the sound of a voice clearing caused Christine to freeze and pull away from his kiss. She blushed furiously when she saw Madame Giry looking at them. Erik hissed in annoyance as he straightened, lifting Christine up with him back to their original sitting position, seating her completely back in his lap and returning his hand to her waist.
"Would you like some tea?" she stated innocently. Christine laughed against his chest in embarrassment, still blushing. Erik simply stared at Madame with a mixture of irritation and amusement.
Madame Giry was surely getting her revenge on him, he thought half amused, half angry.
(Five months later)
Christine left the crib, after kissing her baby's small forehead and running her hand through his curls. She had just fed him. He was the most beautiful baby in the world and the universe, she thought. He had her blond curls and his father's eyes, only Erik's eyes were lighter in color. Little Erik's eyes were almost as golden as his father's, but not quite, as they were more natural colored; They had more brown in them than Erik's.
Erik had joked once that the baby's eyes matched his hair and Christine agreed with a grin.
Erik was still wary of carrying the baby. But Christine had made him carry little Erik a few times and she could literally see Erik's hesitancy and fear. He was afraid of harming the baby. He would sometimes sing little Erik to sleep, when he was having a hard time going to sleep on his own. But he still refused to hold the baby unless Christine specifically insisted. She was determined to get him over whatever it was that was holding him back from being comfortable with being a father.
She kissed her sleeping baby's forehead again and walked down the hall to the music room. She was surprised to see that Erik wasn't there. Lately he had gone back to his music, which had for the longest time taken second seat to his other pursuits in life. But now that they were here, that the danger was gone, he had gone back to dedicating a good while of his time to composing. Christine still felt the chills up her spine, every time she remembered the beauty that was his music. He had let her hear a part of this new composition he was working on. He had called it "Christine". And what a beautiful piece it was…
Christine turned and walked back in the direction of their room, perhaps Erik was there. She entered the room, only to find it empty, the four poster bed was made, the dressers were untouched, the door to their closet was still half open, as she had left it that morning, a drawer of her dresser was half open giving her a peak at her old diary. She still smiled wistfully every time she saw it. Apparently Erik had saved it from the fire, and he had informed her unrepentantly that he had read it.
Her sight then fell on the bunch of scattered unfinished letters that lay across Christine's table. She reminded herself that tonight before she went to bed, she would sit and write her replies to Meg, who had just informed her that she and Ned were expecting. Christine couldn't be happier for her friend, who apparently had found happiness at last. She also was writing to Raoul, her dear childhood friend. Erik didn't like that, but he still allowed her to do it without any complaining. She could tell by the thinning line of his mouth that he wasn't very pleased. But Christine simply had to assure her friend that she was fine, and to thank him for the days when he had taken care of her.
He had also informed her in his previous letter that he had enlisted in the navy, and was very anxious and happy to be joining the service. It had been one of his dreams, to serve in the navy for a few years. He had also informed Christine that he had met someone special. And Christine couldn't be happier though worried for him. Phillipe and Sorelli were getting married within a month, Raoul had also informed her.
It seemed to Christine that everyone was finding their contentment and happiness. Meg and Ned had had a big church wedding and were now living in their house on the outskirts of London. And Madame Giry had her little herbal shop, selling her medicines and potions. She lived next door to Meg and Ned. Christine wasn't sure if Ned liked that arrangement or not, but she could only imagine. Raoul and Phillipe in France… and she and Erik here in the countryside of England, by the sea.
When Erik had asked her where in the world she wanted to go, she had stated that she would love to visit Spain, Italy, and even the new world. But the place where she wanted to settle down was wherever he was. And Erik had decided that staying there in England was a good option. And because of her love for the sea, he had bought a house by the sea. While Christine had protested in the beginning about the size of the house, and how they could easily buy a smaller more modest one, Erik had insisted, and she had finally agreed.
The maids had all left for their quarters, since dinner had already been served. And the house was now eerily quiet.
The wind blew in, caressing Christine's face and blowing the skirts of her yellow dress every which way. She looked at the source and saw the white silk curtains swaying with the wind at the open doors of the balcony. She hugged herself for a moment to ward off the chill and then walked outside.
There was Erik, her strange Angel, standing quietly staring up at the night sky, at the millions of twinkling stars. She stood behind him, silently staring as well, her gaze moved from the beautiful night sky to the view of her beautiful rose gardens below.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?" Christine commented.
"It is," he stated nonchalantly, before turning back to face her. His eyes glowed in the darkness and Christine stifled a nervous, fascinated giggle. She still hadn't gotten used to the mystery that was Erik. "I was just remembering - " his mouth lifted in a half smile and he didn't continue his sentence. He wrapped his arms around her and brought her closer to him.
"You know when I was little, I used to wish on stars a lot," Christine informed him.
"Really?" he smirked. "And what, madame, did you happen to wish for?"
"Oh, many silly things…the Angel of Music…my father coming back for me…having a family."
He ran his hands through her hair and stated calmly, "Those are not silly." He touched the tip of her nose with his finger.
"And you know what?" she continued smiling. "I got most of my wishes."
"Really?" he asked tenderly.
"Really." She sighed contentedly. "I got you. I got our little precious Erik." There was a pause. "I finally have a home."
"Yes," he replied with that beautiful voice of his and she could hear the stark longing in his tone. "A home."
"We both have," she replied, and with that, she stood on the tips of her toes and wrapped her arms around his neck, bringing his head down to hers as she brushed her lips against his, before he wrapped his arms around her and kissed her in earnest. She whimpered into his mouth and returned his kiss with as much eagerness, as two hearts beat as one…
Later that night, Erik, who didn't sleep much, left their room to work on some music, saying that she had inspired him, to which Christine blushed and laughed. She contemplated just going to back to sleep; after all, tomorrow was going to be a long day. Tomorrow was the first day that she would start riding lessons; she had asked Erik if he could teach her how to ride a horse and he had agreed.
She groaned and got out of bed; she had to finish those letters first. She wrapped her robe around her to shield her naked body from the breeze and sat at her table to continue writing her letters. She wondered for a moment if she should tell Meg that Erik had been commissioned to design an opera house. Then she decided against telling her friend these things, since she doubted that Erik wanted anyone knowing about his work or about him in general. She knew he wouldn't be pleased. No, she would keep anything about Erik to generalities and just talk about herself, her singing lessons, and her soon to begin riding lessons.
And of course she would invite her friend, Ned and Madame to come visit in two weeks time for the special event. It would be a two hour journey for them. Christine silently hoped that someday, she and Meg would get to live closer to each other, for Meg was her only friend. She had asked Erik if they could renew their vows in a church, and Erik had agreed. It would be a small, intimate event with only close friends, since she knew that Erik hated crowds and she didn't like them much either. They would be renewing their vows on their anniversary, Christine smiled contentedly. Erik had also promised her a surprise on their one year anniversary in two weeks.
But just as she lifted her hand to begin writing, the partial view of her old diary, peeping at her from the half open drawer caught her attention and wouldn't let her be. She sighed and finally opened the drawer and pulled the diary out. Opening it to a new page, she laughed softly to herself. Later she would show it to Erik; she was sure it would make him smile. On that page, in an elegant, soft handwriting, she wrote:
Dear Angel of Music,
Thank you for giving me my happy ending.