A/N: Well, here's the final chapter! Looking back, this whole fic has taken absurdly long to write...never mind, it's all here now! I hate to leave a fic hanging. Thanks to everybody who faved this fic, and especially to everybody who told me what they thought!
Watch out, we have a change to third person here...
Several more years passed. The De Chagny family enjoyed a quiet life out in their comfortable countryside home...it seemed as if the pain and burdens Christine and Raoul had endured in the past were being compensated for now, in later years. The close of the nineteenth century was drawing near, and the world was changing, growing. But the world's progress no longer seemed to matter to them - especially to Christine. The new world was a place for their children, who would discover it readily for themselves. Christine was too delightfully weary to care about it...
At first Christine's contented laziness seemed nothing but a perfectly normal show of happiness and peacefulness to Raoul; he never knew that her health was ebbing until it had reached a critical level. She now could not leave her bed, so weak and heavy were her limbs, but she told him calmly as he sat clasping her hand at her bedside that she was not scared about this, and even felt prepared for what was sure to come. Raoul was powerless to help her - the doctor had told him there was nothing to do. He had quietly informed him that his poor, lovely young wife would slip away peacefully and painlessly in her sleep, and not suffer at all. She might not suffer, but Raoul would...it seemed as if Christine's life - so full of intense emotions through losing her father, falling prey to a Phantom and reaching the very heights of musical talent - had made her weary, so weary that soon she would just close her eyes and sleep forever. Raoul hadn't had the heart to say anything to the children; however, they seemed to sense something was not quite right, and talked in hushed voices around the house. He could barely admit the truth to himself, let alone to his children...he could not bear the thought of Christine leaving him.
But, sadly, he had no chance of stopping what had already started. He could sense within his heart of hearts that her time was near, and so he never left her bedside, wanting to savour every last second he had left of her. Christine did her best to comfort him, dreamily murmuring that he still had their children to love him, and that she would always care for him. All through the evenings they talked of everything and nothing, just like in their childhood.
One evening, Christine stared serenely at the opposite wall as she lay propped up in bed, her hand held in Raoul's, and murmured quietly with tranquil eyes: 'Do you remember much of my father's old stories, Raoul?'
'I remember some,' he replied, sadly observing the way the candlelight bathed her face in a golden glow. Her mouth gently curved at the corners and she rested her head against her right shoulder.
'I remember all of his tales,' she whispered. 'My favourite used to be the tale he told me so often...the tale of the Angel of Music...'
Raoul did not reply, not knowing what to say to this. Instead, he gently kept his hold on her hand. By and by, however, he came to notice a strange pallor creeping over her features; she appeared enraptured by something, her eyes unfocused and staring at something he could not see.
'Christine?' She did not seem to hear him. Her expression was faraway, and it was beginning to frighten him. 'Christine?'
Unable to stand it, he leapt to his feet, left the room briefly and called for the maid to summon the doctor with all haste. Immediately, he darted back into the room, only to see Christine in exactly the same state as he had left her. There was a strange light in her dilated eyes as she stared into nothingness.
'Christine, please...look at me!' Raoul begged, but she was deaf to his words.
A short while later, though, she began to speak, quite softly and gently: 'One last time? Very well, I shall do my best, I promise you...yes, I remember all you have told me - softly at the beginning, concentrate the strength in the middle...and keep my breathing right.' Raoul stared at her. Was she delirious? It seemed so; she appeared to be having a conversation with herself.
A soft smile stole over her lips. 'I am ready...from the top,then? Give me the first chord, Erik, so I may be in tune...' she murmured dreamily, then her head began to nod gently in time with a beat the horrified Raoul could not hear. Her face full of bliss, as if listening to divine music, she parted her lips, and began to sing, very softly and very beautifully, a song Raoul had once heard from somebody else, long ago...
'Fate links thee to me for ever and a day...' Her voice was gentle and she hardly seemed to be making an effort to sing at all; the melody just flowed from her as naturally as music ever had. She sang as she had sang in the role of Marguerite on her triumphant night so long past, only much quieter and far sweeter...he was hearing the very essence of her voice, the voice that he had heard her sing with when she had been in Bretagne with her father...
She repeated the phrase several times over, each time with a different, beautiful tune: 'Fate links thee to me for ever and a day!'
Raoul could only listen with awed shock to the voice so sweet it brought tears to his eyes. Soon, however, her song faded gently, and came to an end. She smiled with eyes half-closed.
'You are pleased with that effort? I hope I managed to get it right...oh, but I am so tired now! I could not sing another note! Excuse me...I think I should like to rest now. Bonsoir...'
Christine gave a faint sigh and closed her eyes, still with a look of utter serenity on her face. Raoul was trembling and white-faced. In her delerium, it seemed to him that she had relived one of her past moments with her tutor...she had sung for him again!
As he watched, suddenly Christine's eyelids fluttered and she whispered in a voice so sincere but barely audible: 'Erik...Erik...' She drew a small, shuddering breath - '...Erik...' Her eyes shut and her face relaxed as she immediately fell asleep.
The hairs rose on the back of Raoul's neck, as he looked on with tortured eyes. It gave him terrible chills to hear her say his name again - almost as if he was in the room!
There was a light knock on the door, and the doctor entered. 'Ah, Docteur...' Raoul said, relieved, getting to his feet. 'She was in delerium for a while, but I think she is over it now...'
The doctor nodded and went over to Christine's side. Carefully he checked her breathing and put two fingers on her fragile wrist to measure her pulse, then lifted an eyelid to look at her eye. Raoul hovered nearby, anxiously. Then, the doctor straightened up, his face grave. 'I am sorry to say this, but Madame is no longer with us.'
Adèline tossed in her bed. It was hard for her to sleep tonight. She could not stop thinking about Raoul...her poor brother had lost his most beloved sibling, and now his wife had been taken from him too. As soon as she and Charlotte had heard the awful news, they had hastened to go to see him and help him in such a time of difficulty. Now Adèline was spending her eighth night in her brother's house, feeling considerable pain on his part. The boy didn't deserve any of this...he was far too young to suffer such a loss! His children, too, had barely grown up...
Adèline jumped as a frantic knocking sounded at her door. She leapt out of bed and opened it. In stumbled Raoul, his hair dishevelled, his face ashen and his eyes wild. 'Raoul! Qu'est-ce qui se passe?' she asked him.
'It's h-horrible!' he cried, clutching at his arms, his features contorted in agony. 'I haven't s-slept a single night - not a single night! I can't stop th-thinking of her...of what she said...' He began to sob violently. 'He still has her! I thought she was s-safe with m-me, but he had her all along...her soul belonged to him, and he never let her go! Her last words were f-for him, not me! His name...his name was on her lips as she died! Oh, the wretch! I know h-he has her w-with him, even in death! She is probably with him now, a slave again to his ghastly music, singing for him for the rest of eternity! Oh-h, I c-can't stand it...oh, God -'
He keeled over onto the floor right in front of her. Although she had not understood a word of what he had been ranting about, it was evident that the poor young man was severely traumatised. What had caused him to become so hysterical?
It was a sad thing, but Raoul's fit, brought on by the horror of his wife's dying moments, was one he never fully healed from. In fact, his partial recovery was only followed by a second plummet into fever and ill health, from which he did not recover. Much to the grief of the entire family, the young Comte soon surrendered his soul and left the world of the living, as prematurely as his late wife. Charlotte and Adèline sombrely witnessed the early extinguishing of youth, and readily made sure the children had a home with them. The children, too, had been severely affected - Charles, who was looking more and more like a young man every day, was unable to play any music for days on end, and Julien and Marie-Louise were haunted by their loss. However, they were drawn closer together than they every had been, and felt thankful that they still had two loving aunts to care for them and protect them.
For anyone who had known Raoul and Christine's past, they may have felt an odd, haunting sense of déjà vu, for history was repeating itself. It seemed as if it was the old days of the Opéra again, and Christine had been taken away once more by Erik where men could not go. Of course, Raoul never wanted to relinquish his dearest, and so, just like he had done so long ago, he had bravely followed them - only this time into death. Was Raoul now trying to free Christine from Erik's clutches in an afterlife? One could only speculate.
And so the tale between the three is never finished...Erik will always be drawing Christine's pure soul towards him, and Raoul will always be following, ready to win her back again...
The Angel sees, the Angel knows.