A/N: Here we are! The very last installment. Although, this will not be farewell for long… as you read this you will find plenty of opportunities for me to lengthen the stories and revisit our favorite characters. I will post The Blood's Desire: Vignettes in a couple of weeks… with the holidays approaching and everything. It will not be a weekly update like this, but I will try to post a new chapter as often as I can. Also, feel free to check out the rest of my other stories and I will have a new E/C story called My Ghost (Love) Story, but that won't be for a while. I'm on chapter 6 and I like to get at least ten chapters into a story before I start posting. So hang in there!
I want to say thank you to each and every one of you for your never ending support and encouragement! It means the world to me, especially since this story was waiting patiently to be told. And the perfectionist in me knows there are inconsistencies so one day I intend to correct those mistakes, but for now… I want you to enjoy this different spin on the E/C relationship.
So without further ado…
As told in the diary of Meg Giry…
The wedding was postponed. I had to do it. There was no other choice. Not when Christine was gone.
Unfortunately, I don't remember much, neither does Artie. The past week has been fuzzy and at times I will have this random memory that will pop in my head, but quickly fade as it arrived. The one thing that keeps coming back is that I am throwing someone against a wall, which is strange since I know I'm not strong enough to throw an actual human being.
Regardless, I do remember waking in my car with Artie. We were driving somewhere… I don't know where and Artie didn't have a clue. It was like the light was turned on in a dark room, but we had no recollection for the last several days. We thought about going to a hospital, but the whole thing sounded so bizarre that I was sure we would be committed and that was the last thing I wanted to happen.
Also, I don't think I want to know. Especially since there was this rancid smell in the trunk and we decided it was better to dump it somewhere and buy a new one. Out of sight, out of mind.
I tried calling Christine, but it went to voicemail and the same with Raoul's number. But I knew something wasn't right. I had this feeling in my gut that something was terribly wrong and combined with the spontaneous amnesia from myself and fiancé… I didn't want to take any chances and cancelled everything.
My mother wasn't actually thrilled about it (and so was the rest of our guests), but I couldn't exactly explained it to her. I didn't know how to explain it to myself! All I knew it wasn't right and that was that. Of course, I did have to throw out my wedding favors (as they were nonrefundable), but there was no point in crying over it. My concern was the fact that my best friend and her ex were missing.
I was worried that Erik had something to do with it and I told Artie the whole truth. At least I owed him a reason why I couldn't marry him right away. Surprisingly, Artie handled it well. I guess losing your memory makes you accept any reason, no matter how farfetched it sounds. And we did contemplate going to police after what I remembered Raoul telling me. Of course, how to explain that the killer was a vampire who was my best friend's boyfriend… I had a feeling that would have been frowned upon. Even if I could convince Raoul's captain that was the God's honest truth.
So the wedding was on hold for the immediate future until some questions could be answered and mainly for Raoul and Christine to return. I wasn't sure if I wanted Erik to return as well.
Then one night Raoul showed up at our townhouse with a foreign-looking man. To this day… I could never forget the look on Raoul's face—haggard, freakishly white, his eyes bloodshot, and if possible, his hair was white too… not blonder but stark white. He barely said a word, yet his attention was faraway… He was on the verge of a breakdown… anyone could see it. But why? What happened?
The foreign man—Nadir Khan—told us the rest of the story. He told us how Artie and I were compelled to obey Erik to make sure Christine would return to him and how she got away from me when we were waiting for Erik. He told us about the incident at the cemetery, the new murders, the road trip to Maine, Christine's escape, and the confrontation with Erik and ultimately Christine's fate. She had been shot by Raoul, even though the bullet was meant for Erik; yet, she had jumped in front of it, taking it instead to save him.
Mr. Khan admitted he didn't know if Christine survived or not. It wasn't safe to stay with Erik and he took Raoul and got out of there as fast as he could.
"So far Erik has not been after us or he would have found us by now," Mr. Khan said gravely. "I don't know if it's good or bad or if he is biding his time. So I hope you understand when I say that we need to lie low for a while. However, I don't think Mr. de Chagny will be able to. I wish I could do something, but he continues to be in shock. I prayed to Allah that Erik will have mercy on the boy and let him grieve alone."
Now Raoul's appearance made sense and I had to mourn for my friend. I wanted to place all the blame on Raoul, but I could see he was suffering so much from it. Adding more guilt to him wasn't going to solve anything and he was my friend too. We may not be close friends, but we were friends, and he was my last link to Christine. And listening to Mr. Khan's side… it was easy to believe Christine would do that. She was that kind of person. She would do anything to save someone she loved, even if she had to take a bullet for it. She did and I could throttle for her for doing that, but I know I would have done the same.
For her, for Artie.
Yes… it was a leap of faith, but for love… it was worth it.
Of course, at the time I heard all this, I was not as logical or practical at the moment. Artie said I was cussing both men out and I actually picked up a lamp to throw at one of them before he stopped me. Now, I don't remember doing any of that, but Artie insisted I did so I'll take his word on it.
I do remember Artie taking me away so I could cry for her. I didn't leave the bedroom for days because if I did, then I had to accept that Christine was dead. My best friend, my maid of honor, my sister was dead. It was a reality I could not face. I wasn't ready and thank God Artie was patient. He allowed me to cry my eyes out, curse the world, and sit in silence until I emerged.
It wasn't fair.
None of this was fair.
While I was affected by this, I knew I wasn't the only person. Angus and the rest of Box Five had to be notified, not to mention, someone needed to take care of Van Helsing. That one was a no brainer as Artie and I adopted him. On top of that, I knew Raoul was impacted the most as he was the one who shot the bullet.
It took me a week or two to finally see him. And I'm glad I did. If I had waited any longer… well you don't have to imagine what that means.
I brought Raoul to her memorial. It was difficult to have a funeral since there was no body to bury, but it was passed off that Christine had fallen victim to the Phantom's hands.
It was beautiful. We had a lot of people showed up. Friends, family, and strangers… people who were affected by the murders or who were sympathetic to our plight. There was so much kindness and generosity that despite the ugliness of the world there could be some beauty found within tragedy and hope. They didn't know Christine, but it felt like in that moment, they did.
He could never get over her. He had been unresponsive during the service, moving about in a daze, as if none of this was real. I must admit it was surreal for me as well, but Raoul took it to a new level.
No one and I mean no one could reach him. I had a difficult time contacting him since he never returned his phone calls, texts, or emails. I was so worried that I stopped at his apartment to find out from his landlord that Raoul had moved out not long after the memorial service. He told me that Raoul was also fired from the police department.
It was none of my business to pursue this, but Raoul was a friend and the last thing I wanted to do was bury another person. I went to NYPD and demanded to see Captain Harker. He refused to see me as I was not part of Raoul's family and there was no crime in firing someone. But I did meet someone who would talk to me—Thomas Seward. I met him the one time we got Van Helsing from him and he seemed nice, but that was the extent of our meeting. It wasn't until I was there that he was relieved to see a friend of Raoul's.
He told me that Raoul was staying with him for the time being and that he was very concerned for him. Raoul hadn't been eating for days and refused to go to a hospital. Even Seward was reaching his boiling point and was going to force Raoul to seek help.
It was better now than later.
I went back with Seward and what I found… was shocking. He had lost a lot of weight, his skin was sagging on his bones, his face was shrunken and bearded, his hair still white. He didn't look like a young man anymore. He looked like he had aged at least thirty years. I would never have recognized him if Seward hadn't told me it was him.
He was sitting by a window, just staring out into nothing. In fact, all he did was stare outside, as if looking or waiting for something.
Getting Raoul admitted wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. He didn't put up much of a fight and let's face it… we were stronger than he.
The first night the hospital had him under suicide watch.
Now, I knew Raoul blamed himself for what happened to Christine. I was angry but this was going too far. He had to snap out of it and move on. Christine wouldn't have wanted him to waste away, not over her.
The following weeks were unbearable. I visited Raoul as often as I could and even Artie and Seward would drop by to see how he was doing. He had to be fed by a tube when he first arrived, but he was starting to eat solid foods and he was allowed to have plastic utensils since there wasn't any possible danger of Raoul killing himself.
It was a step in the right direction at least. I couldn't have asked for anything more.
But… he still had problems. I know his parents had attempted to see him, but they were removed since their presence only irritated Raoul. I was given permission to know what was going on and I was informed that Raoul had continued his ritual by staring out the window of his room. He wouldn't speak and on a rare occasion when he did… he spoke of Christine.
"She's out there. I know it. She haunts me," he told a nurse.
I wanted to believe she was out there. Even if she was a vampire. I mean, Erik was one and to save her would be to turn her into one, right? Nadir said they didn't stay long enough to know exactly what happened, but Raoul was still alive… and I had to assume so was Nadir… so Erik wasn't after them. If Christine had truly died, then he would have avenged her death.
But there was nothing.
The man who pulled the trigger was alive, well barely, but he was breathing. That had to mean something. I told Artie this and I saw he didn't believe me.
"You're grasping Meg," he said. "Christine's dead. She's not coming back and because Raoul's alive… that doesn't mean she is like him."
And the other thing there was no bodies.
If two vampires were roaming the streets, then there would be a pile of victims. Yeah, New York City had its typical (normal) murders and crimes, but nothing like the Phantom. As quickly as it came it was over. Eventually, the case became a cold one… one that would never be solved and become a story of legends like so many other stories about killers.
Except for those of us who knew the real story.
But there was nothing, not a sign from Erik or Christine. Not even a single hint. I wanted to desperately believe that she was alive somewhere, even after the memorial… I wanted to believe she would still show up.
So I paid attention to the Internet, looking for any clues of the murders here occurring somewhere else. If I had a hit, then I would know it could be them. And I would be happy knowing that she was all right.
Perhaps, I was filled with false hope because of Raoul. He insisted Christine was out there and I wanted to believe that.
Then came the oddest thing, which by now, I shouldn't be surprised. But there you have it.
Raoul did a complete 360 and was his old self again. And I do mean his old self.
He was laughing, cracking jokes, eating healthily, working out, and managed to look like a human being again. His hair was still white, but there was a slight trace of his youthfulness returning. He was even talking about going back to work. Not to NYPD… oh no… he was done there, but returning to the department he worked before.
It was great to see Raoul was putting his life together, but to go from very depressed to bouncing back? I was suspicious and I was waiting for the other pin to fall.
Yet, it didn't happen.
Instead, Raoul moved out of the city, met a nice girl, and the last I heard they were talking about getting married. This was certainly not the same man eight months ago. Something happened that caused this change and for a while I could not put my finger on what it could have been.
Then it hit me. Compulsion.
A vampire could control a human's mind… maybe going as far as to ensure a quick recovery from all the sadness and pain that he suffered.
And there could only be one person who would want Raoul to move on with his life.
That was the sign I was looking for. Raoul's recovery was to let us know that she was all right and while Raoul was now accepting of her death; it made me believe that she was not completely dead.
And if she wasn't completely dead, then I knew she will come back. She did promise to be my maid of honor and I wasn't married.
So here I am all dressed for my wedding (and I look damn good) and I'm writing this all down because… someone has to and even if no one reads this… that's fine. As long as I penned it down, then I know the story. And I could never forget what happened.
I have the window opened to let in the night's air (I decided an evening wedding would be appropriate as opposed to during the day) and the moon is out with the stars. It's a perfect night to be married and in ten minutes I will be Mrs. Arthur Morris.
But for now, I am waiting for them to come.
Meg set down the pen and walked over to the window. She gazed out into the darkness and down below the trees and bushes were swaying from the warm breeze. She felt a tingling sensation that she was being watched. There was no fear as she peered out and saw two pairs of glowing amber eyes from the shadows.
She smiled and waved.