AN: The end is here! Thank you all for reading this story in its rewrite. I promise to keep it up this time. I know it was not without its controversies, (the infamous now not included scene), but many of you were so understanding to that fact and to my reservations for posting that here. All I can say is thank you over and over again. Merci.

And now without further ado, I give you the final chapter of Retribution.

Warm regards.

~ E.A.

Part 37: The Reunion

The rising sun cast an illuminating glow off the back of the dew slated tombstones. Eerie as it was picturesque, Rosalie ignored it all, choosing instead to keep her gaze focused ahead of her, not stopping to consider how both the hem of her dress and the tips of her slippers were sloshy and slick thanks to the morning condensation.

Only Erik would ask to meet in a grave, and yet the Lady did not love him any less for the inconvenience.

She had packed light. One small bag slung over her shoulder, Eustache would be so good as to send her whatever they needed when they arrived...? Where would they arrive to?

It was madness; some would call it folly. None of it mattered.

Rosalie's steps suddenly slowed to a stop. Nothing could have detained her feverish pace before. Nothing should have, but the sight before her eyes did arrest step and breath if only for a moment.

She had arrived at Philippe's headstone. She stared at it so long, she practically bore holes through it with her vision. As if by some unseen force she moved towards it, running a gloved hand across the slick, thick granite. The water seeped through the silk of her material, and she felt the chill in her fingers.

Perhaps it was the momentary chill in her heart.

Not caring about her dress, she knelt before the massive stone. Her former husband's likeness had been etched into the carvings. An inscription laid below the picture. She read it aloud.

"'Death is the golden key, that opens the palace of eternity.'" She paused a moment. Her eyes watering at what she would do next. "Philippe, I have been untrue, though you already knew that." Something of a smirk crossed her features. "Did we really love each other? Maybe at some point...

"I've found love, Philippe. The man who sent you to your early destiny. What does God think of that? What does The Almighty have in store for me? Is it a sin to love the unloved? I fear that our love for one another will only bring good things to his life. It already has to mine."

The soft swarthy tunes of a melody reached the Comtesse's ears. She stilled, listening as it grew louder. The chords of a violin, the vibrato portions played to a haunting perfection.

"Erik," she mumbled. "You would have me meet you just before dawn in a remote corner only so you could give away our position with your bold music?" Her heart thrilled at the nearness of him. It felt like an eternity since they had last been together.

The dark figure emerged before her, popping from behind the stone. "Lovely Lady," he whispered, a hint of teasing in the voice that was equally as melodic as the tunes played forehand, "are you issuing a prayer or a confession?"

"Neither," she replied, her lips parting into the warmest of smiles. "I have only been conversing with the man who brought me to you. It was God's will."

Erik moved from behind the stone assuming a seat beside her on the humid earth. "I am still not certain what people mean by that. God's will seems a tricky thing." He wrapped an arm about her.

Rosalie laughed immediately nestling herself to him. "Oh, how I've missed you! Would you lift that mask so I might greet you appropriately?"

"You are a scandalous woman indeed! Not in front of your husband."

Rosalie shook her head, a bittersweet laugh escaping her throat. "No more. Not for a long time since. Death has separated us. I am not bound to him, not by the law nor by God. But to show you that I am not so irreverent as you imply..." She bowed her head and this time did pray.

"Dear Father, I thank you for your Sovereign guidance and tender mercies. I ask now Lord that you go with us, guide Erik and myself to where you lead, and though it may not be a land of milk and honey, it will be the sweetest Eden for us. Go before us, Lord. I pray that you would keep us safe. Amen."

She then slipped her glove into a pocket in her dress and extracted her wedding band. Digging with her finger, she created a small hole into the earth, dropping the expensive ring below, quickly patting it with dirt.

"Rosalie Lamarliere, that ring will soon be scooped up by a gypsy or grave robber. You'd have done better to give it to a fowl of the air."

"It is a symbol that I am free. Certainly you would recognize that."

"I could not. Symbols mean precious little when I know that I am free. You have made that possible. Let us depart."

"Where to?" Rosalie asked with a breath as Erik helped her to her feet.

"To wherever we are led." He lifted his mask and pressed his lips to hers.

Rosalie could ask for nothing more.

* Milton