A/N: Well... here 'tis. The end. Hopefully, a good end, although it has been beta-approved and pronounces minimally cliched (snicker).
Thanks so much to phantomlvr, Nyasia A. Maire, mika, A Random Phangirl, OceansAway, ladyAlyafaelyn, Lucia Sasaki, laal ratty, The Phangirl, ThankYouForTheMusic, Timorth, superphan, pony210, -Green-Clown, and flamethrowerqueen for their reviews! A huuuuuuge thank-you to anyone who's reviewed this, you have all made so many days much better. (All you lurkers, here's your last chance to review!)
And so, without further ado, the final chapter of "Love the Stars." I reeeeeeeeeeeally hope it's up to snuff!
Chapter 42: Finale
15th March 1882
"What difference does it make at this point?" Erik asked Adele as she started shepherding Christine out the door of her flat.
"Oh, for goodness' sake, you can spend one night without her, can't you?" Adele shot back, but then she smiled at him.
"Most of my things for tomorrow are at the Giry's," Christine put in calmly. "And come tomorrow afternoon, you won't be able to get rid of me."
Erik grinned and gave in. He smiled at her as Adele shunted her out the door, and she looked back and returned it, suddenly looking a little shy, and watched them as they slipped down the dark, quiet hallway before closing the door behind them.
It was awkward being in Christine's flat without her. For a long time he simply looked around at the boxes scattered across the front room, almost completely unable to believe that tomorrow was his wedding day…
He suddenly dove for the box in the corner that contained all of his things, pulled out a wad of manuscript paper, and began scribbling frantically. He'd have a surprise for Christine by tomorrow…
Meg jumped onto her bed, landing in front of her best friend. The mattress bounced up and down, but Christine only looked up from her hands in her lap and gave Meg a tentative smile.
"Are you nervous?" Meg asked, the silly grin she wore quickly for a look of concern.
"I… I don't know how to describe it… I'm both terrified and the happiest I've ever been in my life. Does that make sense?"
"Well, it's a good thing you're marrying him!" Meg said with a laugh, giving Christine's shoulder a little shove before continuing teasingly. "You're so completely in love with him it's almost too much!"
That got Christine to laugh, but Meg was suddenly more serious again.
"I'm so happy for you, Christine. I'll miss you, but it's not as though I'll never see you again. And you're both so happy together…"
"Oh, Meg…" Christine said softly, then wrapped her best friend in a huge hug.
They then began talking and joking, laughing as though they were still just ballet rats in the back of the line, as though nothing had ever changed and they had never grown up.
The illusion did not last long, however, and when it fell away entirely at last, it was not an entirely unpleasant thing.
Christine yawned widely; it was very late, and even though it was impossible to fall asleep or be bored while Meg was talking, she was tired.
"I suppose we ought to get some sleep," Meg said resignedly, then looked at her friend with a wicked grin. "Especially since something tells me you'll be up very late tomorrow night!"
"Meg!" Christine squeaked, her face turning an interesting shade of crimson.
Meg burst into a fit of giggles. Reaching behind her, Christine grabbed Meg's pillow and gave her friend a good clout about the head with it. Meg threw up her arms as Christine raised the pillow and aimed again.
"All right, all right!"
"You deserved that," Christine choked, still blushing furiously.
"You're only hitting me because you know it's true and you can't wait…"
Down came the pillow once more.
16th March 1882
Erik cursed quietly under his breath, bobbing his foot up and down as the hansom lurched slowly along. He was going to be late if the driver didn't pick up the pace…!
Still, he couldn't quite grasp the situation, couldn't believe where he was going, what was about to happen. This was too good to be true; it had to be some sort of wild dream… but suddenly he was thrown forward as the carriage jerked to a stop. That wouldn't have happened in a dream… did he really dare hope that it was all real?
He over-tipped the driver and stepped out of the hansom, his heart in his throat by the time he'd shut the door and turned towards the chapel. But then, if this is all a dream, nothing bad can possibly happen, right? he thought, and then he walked through the small wooden door in front of him.
And nearly ran into Carlos. The dancer just grinned at him, however.
"Glad you could make it," he joked, and Erik laughed.
"I expect you'll be wondering where Christine is?" Carlos continued.
Erik looked surprised that the boy had guessed his thoughts so easily…
"Ah… well, Adele has explicitly told me that I'm not allowed…"
"But who ever listens to Madame Giry whenever there's the slightest chance of getting away with it?" Carlos cut in with a laugh. "There's a little dressing-room sort of thing just down that corridor to the left… she's in there. And I expect Madame will have chased Meg out by now… I'll go and join them, cause a bit of a diversion if you'd like."
"I just wanted to see her!" Erik said, still laughing. "But thank you. I'd appreciate that."
Carlos grinned again and trotted off, leaving Erik to find Christine.
It didn't take long. The door to the room Carlos had directed him to was ajar, but mostly closed, so he knocked before stepping inside.
Anything he had been about to say left his head the moment he saw her. She was standing in front of a long, oval mirror and turned when she had heard him knock. Her dark curls were loose and tumbled over her bare shoulders; the bodice of the full-skirted white dress conformed perfectly to her figure and was embroidered with lace… she looked beautiful, perfect.
Christine was equally speechless. She was so used to seeing him in his black dress clothes that the grey suit she had so carefully altered surprised her. In fact, the sight of him took her breath away…
Suddenly they both spoke at exactly the same time.
"Erik, you look wonderful…"
"You have never looked lovelier, mon ange…"
Christine laughed, and Erik stepped into the room, closing the door behind him. He picked up the crown of silk orange blossoms sitting on a wooden table at the edge of the room and gently placed it on her head, letting his hands brush through her hair before settling on her shoulders.
"Madame won't be happy if she knows you've seen me. It is supposed to be bad luck…"
"Christine, you are the first piece of good luck I have ever had. Superstitions won't have any bearing on that, and I'll tell Adele that myself if she does reprimand me. I really don't see how it matters, separating us at this point…"
"Don't blame her, Erik, she's been unbelievably helpful. I think she just wants to salvage as much propriety out of the situation as she can." Suddenly feeling awkward, Christine cleared her throat before continuing. "I… hope you weren't bored last night, stuck in my house with nothing but boxes to keep you company."
"No… I was… composing."
"Oh, good, I was hoping you wouldn't accidentally set fire to something…"
Erik laughed, smiling at her. Christine reached up and smoothed out the lapels on his suit, unable to look at him for a moment, but he cupped her chin in his hand and raised her face to his, softly singing the melody he had written just the night before.
"I never knew I could feel like this
As though I'd never seen the sky before
I want to vanish inside your kiss
Every day I love you more and more
Listen to my heart – can you hear it sing?
You have given me everything
Seasons may change; winter to spring…
But I'll love you until the end of time…"
Christine could only smile at him, wondering why there were tears in her eyes when she was so completely overjoyed…
There was another knock at the door then, and they both looked up, expecting Adele to come in, but instead it was Meg, and she only beamed at them.
"It's time to get started…"
The ceremony was almost a blur, almost a dreamlike whirlwind. Neither Erik nor Christine could quite believe that that moment had finally come. Before she knew it, Erik had turned to her and taken her hand, his voice soft and heavily laced with emotion as he spoke.
"You are the light in my darkness, my hope, my savior from the demons of my past. On this day I take you as my wife, and I promise to love you always, as long as we both shall live."
Christine gave the response, almost unable to speak.
"You are my angel, my teacher, my guardian, and my friend. On this day I take you as my husband, and I promise to love you always, as long as we both shall live."
Although Carlos did his best to hide it, there was not a single dry eye among the present company when they kissed.
When Christine opened her eyes again, she saw that Erik was giving her a radiant smile.
"Please don't let me ever wake up," he whispered, and she smiled ecstatically, nestling her head into his shoulder as he held her.
"This isn't a dream, Erik," she replied softly.
After a moment she looked over at their friends, all of them beaming at them, and then turned back to her husband. Erik kept his arm around her waist, still grinning uncontrollably.
A little while later, they walked out of the church and into the bright, early spring sunshine, together.
Suddenly the world seems such a perfect place
Suddenly it moves with such a perfect grace
Suddenly my life doesn't seem such a waste
It all revolves around you
And there's no mountain too high
No river too wide
Sing out this song and I'll be there by your side
Storm clouds may gather
And stars may collide
But I'll love you until the end of time
Come what may
Come what may
I will love you until my dying day
A/N: The song is "Come What May" from Moulin Rouge.
And that's all she wrote! (of the story, that is, I can still blither on here!)
I'm so glad that a lot of you have really enjoyed this story so much - thanks so much for reading it! I do have a new phic in progress, called "Second Chances," if you'd like to stroll over and take a look.
As always, thank you so much for reading, and please let me know what you think!
Au revoir, mes amis! --Kyrie