Chapter 19

A/N: All right, my Phan-buddies! I very much hate to inform you that this will be the final chapter in the love story between Dawn and Erik. If I had my way, I'd go on forever, but all great stories have to end sometime. (sniff) I'm going to miss it so much. This story's kept me busy for almost two semesters and the reviews have been the light of my life. However, I will be writing more Phantom stories in the near future (hopefully), so be on the lookout for them.

Erik: As much as I hate admitting this, I've grown quite fond of you, Sybl.

Me: (grins) You can stay as long as you want.

Erik: I might come back some other time. You're one of the few sane Phan-girls I've met. Sadly, someone else is calling me and (sighs) it is my job as a muse to go where I am called.

Me: (hands him a suitcase) Ah, well. I can't wait until you come back! (hugs)

Erik: Sybl? You can let go now! (squirms) I hate being a Gerik sometimes!

Chapter 19

The next week, so much happened that it was nearly impossible to keep up. Dawn and Erik were married in a private ceremony where only Meg, Madame Giry, Christine, Raoul, their baby, and Squishie were allowed in. Dawn was much too pregnant to fit in a wedding dress, so she just used her costume dress from the opera. Erik was dressed up, also. He wore a fedora hat to help obscure his mask more. Shortly after they were married, Dawn complained of a sharp pain in her back. A few hours later, a doctor announced that she was in labor. Meg and Madame Giry took Elizabeth so that she would have one less thing to worry about. While they'd been signing the wedding certificate, they had also signed Elizabeth's adoption certificate.

"I can't believe this," Dawn wheezed through a contraction, "two kids in one week. I was definitely not expecting this one."

Erik would have laughed, but her hand tightened painfully around his. The doctor had insisted on Erik waiting outside, but Erik (obviously) wouldn't stand for that. He'd glued himself to Dawn's side and hadn't left. She'd been in labor for nearly five hours now. Surely that kid had to be coming soon!

An earsplitting scream confirmed it. Dawn's face had reddened from effort and tears were streaking her cheeks.

After the afternoon's labor, the evening's delivery was relatively short. Within a few minutes, the doctor lifted up the wriggling new life that had just slid into his hands. The child began to wail as soon as it was free of Dawn's birth canal.

"You have a son," the doctor announced to Erik, "congratulations."

I knew it, Erik thought as the doctor tied the cord shut and cut it.

Dawn was the first to hold the baby while the soaked sheets and towels were removed and replaced with clean ones.

"So, you're the one that's been kicking me," Dawn laughed weakly, "just been born and you got your daddy's temper."

Erik couldn't suppress a grin. He lifted a corner of the blanket to look into the baby's face. There were no flaws as far as he could see.

"Here, Dad, take him for a second," Dawn said, handing the baby to him while she readjusted her pillows.

Erik received the baby with open arms. Happiness filled his soul up and overflowed as crystal droplets on his cheeks. He pressed his cheek against the baby's forehead, feeling his warm, light breath.

"Look at him," Dawn said proudly, "he's us, Erik. He's you and me put together, and yet he's still something different. But we did that. We made him. Together."

Erik sat down on the edge of the bed so that he could be closer to Dawn. They both unwrapped the blanket just for a second to inspect him. He was perfect, at least to them.

There was a slight tapping on the door. Madame Giry and Meg entered.

"Has the baby come yet?" Meg asked. Erik gestured to the bedroom. Dawn was still there, beaming down at the tiny face.

There were more visitors than Erik was comfortable with, but he tolerated them all for Dawn's sake. Raoul and Christine came up to visit shortly afterward. A few of the other ballet girls also came to check things out. Erik breathed a sigh of relief when they were all gone. Elizabeth had come back. Erik was grateful that he'd managed to secure a bed for her. Unsure of how to address a child, Erik tried to think of what Dawn would say.

"Come here, Elizabeth," he said, stooping down to her level, "come and meet your brother."

She followed him eagerly into the bedroom. She seemed fascinated by the newborn baby.

"I think they'll get along just fine," Dawn said, watching her chatter to her brother.

It didn't take long for the children to start growing up. It seemed as though they blinked once and Christine had another baby when Elizabeth and Christophe were seven and five respectively. They blinked again and Elizabeth had her first audition to be a trained ballet dancer. They blinked again and she was celebrating her sixteenth birthday and Christophe was going off with the other tenor boys and getting into various forms of trouble that Erik seemed to constantly have to get him out of. One of those incidents involved them accidentally locking themselves in the mirror room. Erik left them in there for a night to give them a good scare (and he was STILL good at it!). They blinked again and Elizabeth and Christophe were fully grown.

"I can hardly believe this," Dawn sighed, noticing yet another laugh line around her mouth, "when did everything start happening so fast?"

"When you arrived here," Erik teased. Time had been reasonably good to him. His hair had begun to silver a little bit, but he looked no worse for wear. Dawn, however, was a little dismayed because she'd never had a firm body in the first place and things were beginning to sag a little bit. Erik didn't care in the slightest. His love for Dawn only grew over the years.

"Guess what?" he whispered.

Dawn grinned.

"We're alone for the first time in almost nineteen years?"

"Exactly. God, has it really been that much time?"

She closed her eyes as he began to sing, letting his sensuous voice flow over her ears.

The next morning, Madame Giry pulled Dawn aside.

"As you know, I'm much too old to be dancing," Madame laughed, "but I need someone to train the new girls and boys."

Dawn gave her a curious look.

"Why me? Why not Meg?"

"Meg's going to be teaching, too; the two of you made quite a team."

Dawn nodded.

"Thanks. I'm honored that you'd pick me," she said, giving the old woman's hand a gentle squeeze.

"Where will you go?" Dawn asked.

"I will stay here, but I will only come to the operas to watch. Besides, Erik needs someone to keep him company while you are away," she said, grinning, "and to keep him out of trouble."

Dawn giggled.

"All right."

She hurried back upstairs during lunchtime to tell Erik.

"Erik?" she called, coming inside. Knowing that he was, more than likely, in the music room, she carefully eased the door open. The sight that she came across made her chuckle and shake her head. Erik was slumped against his organ, forehead touching the music shelf. His mask was askew and his mouth was open. Quiet, subtle snores were coming out.

"Working that hard, huh?" Dawn asked. She kissed him on the back of the neck, causing him to jolt awake. Upon seeing his surprised, slightly disoriented expression, she chuckled more.

"Been busy, I see," she said, gesturing to the half-finished page of music. Erik adjusted his mask.

"Not busy enough," he mumbled, "I've got writer's block."

Dawn embraced him.

"Take a break," she said, "I've got some good news."

They went into the kitchen to get some lunch. While Dawn sliced up some bread, she informed him of her new teaching position. A look crossed Erik's face that she'd never seen before; but his eyes were bright green, indicating he was plotting something.

"Oh, good lord, what are you scheming now?" Dawn asked.

"You could help me teach these cough new students."

Dawn's eyebrows raised.

"How in the Hell do you propose I do that? I can't play piano. Or organ."

"I will find a way."

In the end, Dawn ended up serving as a mediator for the opera house occupants and its famous Phantom. Lottie, one of Squishie's descendants, tagged behind Dawn wherever she went. Whenever Erik gave a lesson, Dawn served as a temper cooler for Erik and assisted in giving suggestions so that the new singers weren't terrified beyond belief (although they did walk away nervous). None of them actually made the connection that Dawn and the great Opera Ghost were a couple although there were rumors.

More years passed; at least fifty. The grand Opera Populaire closed down, but was kept standing as a historical site.

Raoul, unable to walk on his own, was escorted to the graveyard by a nurse and accompanied by his daughter and son. He touched the statue of the angel gingerly.

"Oh, Christine," he sighed, "I wish you could have seen it. The Opera House was saved today from being torn down! Christophe's son, Andre, plays the violin beautifully. He sat on the steps playing it and wouldn't move until he was sure it would stay!"

A tear rolled down his cheek.

He looked up to see Dawn's grave some distance away. Her grave also had a statue of an angel, but this one was a perfect likeness of her and it held an electric guitar in its hands. Upon closer inspection, he saw a red rose with a black ribbon tucked into one of her white stone hands. Her eyes, although unmoving, looked towards the heavens with more hope and optimism than some living people did. The curve of her lip held the smile of a secret.

Although the Phantom's grave was right beside hers, Raoul wasn't entirely sure that he was dead. Strange things continued to happen at the old Opera Populaire, one of which was mysterious organ music coming from the basement or the attic. Some people reported seeing the curve of a white mask in their mirrors. Raoul wanted to laugh at them all; yes, though Erik Leroux was dead, his spirit would live on forever as the Phantom of the Opera.

As he looked, he thought he saw a cape blowing out of the corner of his eye and heard the faintest strains of music:

You have shared with me

one love, one lifetime

you have saved me from my solitude

We shared together

each night, each morning

You showed me love,

in return, I loved you...

That's all I asked of you...

And anywhere you go,

let me go too...

love me, that's all I ask...

of...

you...

Raoul's sight was also beginning to fail him, but for the first time in years, he saw something perfectly clear. In the golden sunlight stood a girl in strange clothes, laughing. Beside her, a golden dog bounced around, lighter than air. She was so faint, so transparent that he almost doubted her existence completely. And then, a dark figure, so vague-looking, so quick was he, that he might have been a shadow, joined her. For a moment, the three figures stood there, looking at him. Then, they disappeared.