A/N: Hello my fantastically wonderful readers! Unfortunately, this is also goodbye, at least for now. This story has finally reached its end after over a year of work, 60 chapters, over 400 reviews, and over 50,000 views. I can't even begin to express how incredible that is. I never in a million years would have guessed that this story would become what it is now, and I am so grateful for all of my amazing readers and reviewers. Thank you so much!
As for what comes next for me, I honestly hope to continue my fanfiction career. I'd love to pick up working on my other in-progress story, Darkness, Darkness, or maybe write something new. That being said, I have no idea how much time I will have to write once classes start next week, and even then I'd like to focus more on the novel I'm attempting to write. So we'll just have to wait and see what happens. In the meantime, feel free to PM me with suggestions and whatnot – I love hearing from you all!
Again, thank you so much to everyone who has read and/or reviewed this story. I'd love to hear from you one last time to see what you think of the end. I'd also love to thank each and every one of you individually, but I think this author's note is long enough as it is. So instead I'm dedicating this final installment to you, though you all deserve much more for the fantastic support you've given me.
And, for one final time, enjoy the chapter!
~Six years later~
"After six highly successful seasons performing with the theatre, Christine Daae has announced that she will not be returning next season, also confirming the rumors that she is expecting her first child…"
- NY Times
I felt an odd kind of relief that was both sad and happy as I entered my dressing room after my final performance. It was strange knowing that I would not be coming back for who knows how long, but I couldn't help but be excited when I thought of the reason for the break. Smiling, I placed a hand on my barely-showing stomach. Words could not describe how brilliantly happy Erik and I were when we found out. Our official announcement was very well-received as well; it seemed like the entire world was happy for us.
Quickly shedding my costume and wiping off my makeup, I sat down at my vanity and picked up the red rose that was unfailingly there after every performance, pressing the soft petals to my nose and enjoying the sweet scent. Then I gently placed it back down, smoothing the silky black ribbon that was tied around the stem and sighing a little. Part of me was already anxious to return to the stage, but I was far more excited for the new adventure we were about to embark on.
I jumped slightly when I felt a hand on my shoulder. I always expected Erik to appear out of nowhere, but it never failed to startle me when he did. He chuckled at my surprise, and I playfully smacked his hand.
"Someday you won't be able to sneak up on me," I told him.
Erik pressed a quick kiss to my lips. "I wasn't even trying to sneak up. It's not my fault that you're always too lost in thought to be attentive to what's going on around you."
"But I have so many good things to think about," I teasingly argued. "Just now, for instance, I was thinking about you."
"Really?" Erik said, managing to sound intrigued and seductive at the same time. "What about me?"
"I don't think you deserve to know after sneaking up on me like that," I said with mock severity. "How did you even get in here without me noticing?"
Erik just rolled his eyes. "I wasn't trying to scare you," he repeated. "You just need to pay more attention, which is a lesson that I'm helping you learn. Therefore, I should get to know what you were thinking."
I stuck out my tongue as Erik smirked triumphantly. "Fine. I was thinking about what a great dad you're going to make."
Erik's expression softened. "Well, at least one of us believes that."
"It's true," I insisted. "You're the best husband in the world, and you're going to be the best father, too."
"If I'm ever any of that, it's because you made me that way," he said gently, kissing my temple.
Our quiet moment was interrupted by a knock on the door as we were joined by Nadir and the Girys. I had to smile when I saw Meg and Nadir come in hand-in-hand. They had been seeing each other for years, and I had just gotten it out of Erik that Nadir had started to carry a ring with him, waiting for the right moment.
Meg rushed over to hug me. "You were fantastic tonight," she gushed. "Way to go out with a bang!"
I laughed at her enthusiasm. "Thank you, Meg. Now, would anyone be interested in going out for dessert? I'm craving cheesecake like crazy!"
My suggestion was very quickly agreed to, and soon we were on our way, walking down the brightly-lit streets of New York City. Erik kept my hand firmly in his, absent-mindedly running his thumb over my wedding ring. I looked up and smiled at him, and he pulled me closer. And, resting my head on Erik's chest as we walked on with the people we loved most and the future bright ahead of us, all I could do was keep on smiling. Everything just seemed to have fallen into place.
For once, everything was beautiful.