Gabriella didn't find sleep at all that evening but she did shut herself up in her little dressing room. The quiet and the warmth of the blankets and of the small room were welcome enough and she did rest well, though her mind was still racing with thoughts and fears of the future. Maria didn't come to her that night, as she may have thought she would, but Gabriella didn't mind it, she was happy to be a lone with her thoughts. She lay quietly in her bed for most of the night, thinking about the theatre and the opera ghost and everything that had happened in her life that lead up to that moment. But something deep within her bothered her. She was worried about the future and what it would hold because for the first time she was in charge of making all of the decisions for herself and this was something she had never had the chance to do. From signing the contract when she was very young with Monsieur Soulin to her very first meeting with Monsieur Fauxvoix and leading her into adulthood she had always been under someone else's control. It was true that her time at the opera populair was coming to a close and soon she would have to learn to live on her own and make her own decisions about her future, and even though she had much reassurance from the Belville's and from her mothers, attorney she felt a great fear, for it was true people don't last for ever and Matthew's injuries, though not fatal, were a grave reminder of that fact. Soon the sun began to change the colours of the sky outside her dressing room window and she knew that the horrors of the evening were gone but that her life was just beginning.
She rose from her bed as the first rays of light filled her dressing room and walked slowly to the door. She felt well rested, even though she didn't sleep a wink, and was ready at last to face the difficulties of a new life, a much better life. The door was unlocked, which was surprising to Gabriella. Habits are hard to change but she would soon get used to having the freedom that she had so desperately wanted. Soon should would be able to walk out in the street from shop to shop on her own. She would be able to stop and smell the flowers, she would even be able to take a break from the gruelling schedule that Fauxvoix kept her tied to and she would be able to enjoy some of the finer things that life have to offer, like sight seeing, and Paris in the spring or the great festivals in England. It all lay before her now and ripe for the picking for she was at a perfect time in her life. A time to explore and to grow and to invite change. Most people do not like change, but Gabriella was more than ready to embrace it.
After a few minutes of staring at the open door, which she was on the other side of now, amazed with her new found freedom and the realisation that it wasn't only a dream now, that everything thing had worked out, she found herself wandering the theatre as she had done weeks before. The weeks had passed quickly around the theatre and already things were looking different to her. Sets had come down, the stage was bare, the seats were empty and yet the familiarity of the space was still with her. The presence of the ghost wasn't looming anymore, but it was still there in the magic that was the opera house. Fear had seemed to melt away from the building, it was strange how it had left them so quickly and yet there was a cheerful noise from all around. A peaceful calm had embraced the place and the building seemed light and airy with this new openness and release from captivity. She felt herself going back to the time when she played make believe and had seen the transformation of the theatres in her childhood days. It was as if she had returned to the place, before her life had taken its unfortunate turn, and she was being given her second chance.
Suddenly from the side for the stage a familiar figure crept out of the shadows. Dark was his dress but modern none the less and this time there was no mask.
"We've met here before Mademoiselle," came a voice that was coming closer and closer.
"Many times it seems," she smiled as she looked deep into Matthew's eyes, "I am happy to see that you are alright."
"The doctor's say nothing serious but they never tell you the whole story," He laughed, "I know they thought something was odd."
"Oh don't be silly," Gabriella laughed sarcastically, "nothing odd happens around here."
Matthew smiled and laughed at her little joke then a great sadness filled his eyes, "well, you are free now, Mademoiselle," he said softly, "and your life is for you to choose, what will you do now?"
"I am not sure," she sighed as she moved closer to him, "but I do hope that you will be with me to guard me and guide me along the way."
He smiled and wrapped his arms around her, "and what of your promise to the Opera Ghost?" he asked.
"I suppose I have to honour it, he has done so much for us," she said with a little smile, "I'll have to discuss a return engagement to the opera populair with the management of this fine institution."
"And where will you stay?" he asked.
"I don't know," she said as she looked longingly into his eyes.
"I can see where you want to stay but to you think it safe?" he asked.
"Well," she smiled, "you'd said you'd spent much time there and I do believe that we have set things right here."
"And you have always dreamed of the house on the lake, I know you have ever since our days in the theatre in Montreal," Matthew laughed a little.
"It was only make believe there," she sighed, "but here it is real."
"It is indeed real," he smiled, "but there is much to be done and even more to settle before you can even attempt to have a normal life."
"What is normal?" Gabriella asked her voice shaking a little, "I've never known normally."
"I suppose that is to be our next great adventure," he said, "and we'll find it together."
"Yes," she said as he held her hand and lead her down from the stage.
"It is time to close this chapter," he said as he opened the exit doors to the theatre and her eyes met the great golden foyer of the opera house. Lit with the brilliant light of the dawning sun. It was a welcoming light and an open feeling inviting them down and out into its warmth. Soon she would pass through the doors a free woman and enjoy what Paris really had to offer her. But first she had to smile for the cameras, which wasn't a hard thing to do this time.
Down below, around the base of the grand stair case, were many camera crews again. Everything was set as it had been the day before but only Monsieur Belville had taken to addressing the crowd. The presences of the police was still very ominous but the faces of the people were not filled with fear but relief and happiness. Gabriella had give a little wave and a smile as cameras flashed at her entrance but she remained high about the media storm and only looked down and listened. They had arrived just in time to hear a final statement from Matthew's father. A final statement of closure and comfort.
"Everything is as it should be," he said, "and the wrongs have and will be made right. For now let us say that all is well and that this is the end."