10 Months Later
My hands were shaking as they were passing the page of the novel I was reading by candlelight in my bedroom. I was in my nightgown and our mansion was pretty quiet, all of the servants fast asleep. But I could not sleep. I would not sleep until Erik arrived and I could give him the news. I do not exactly know how he will take it. The last time we spoke of the subject, he seemed quite adamant about it but… when we did, it was not a reality, now it is.
I heard the doorknob rattle quietly as Erik tried to enter the room without making a sound.
"Oh, Meg, I thought you would be asleep." He said as he closed the door and noticed I was still awake.
"No, I could not sleep, I was waiting up for you." I answered, putting my book aside as Erik started to undress. "How was rehearsal?" I asked.
Benedict and Erik had prepared another Recital for our students. Thankfully, new students were joining more each month; the Academy certainly has taken on a new prestige. It has begun to make a name for itself. I decided I would not perform in this recital but help my smaller students appear in the beginning of it. My rehearsals, being with children, were of course not so long.
"It went pretty well. But I still have to work on some of the music. It is not quite how I would like it yet." Erik answered, taking off his hat, revealing his rebuilt face. It was touched up with a lot of theatre makeup of course. Erik wanted it to look as normal as possible. I know he is still a bit afraid of people's reactions. After a lifetime of rejection, he seems to find it difficult not to feel that way. But people always tend to think it is an old wound of war and Erik simply does not correct them. At first, it was quite strange seeing Erik now with a complete face, it almost seemed like he was a different person. But I have found myself getting used to it. Erik was able to have a semblance of normalcy, which is what he wanted. But to me, he will always be that man in a white mask that I met so many years ago playing an organ.
"I know that phrase. That means you will be shutting yourself into your study to write tonight." I said and he simply grinned at me, knowing that I was right.
"You know that I cannot stop once I have the melody in my head." Erik answered, changing into black trousers and a white shirt.
"But before you go… May I speak to you about something?" I asked nervously. Erik must have sensed the tone in my voice because he froze from putting on his white shirt.
"What is it, Meg? Are you all right?" He quickly asked.
"Yes, I am fine, I am more than fine actually. I… I am ecstatic." I smiled, knowing it to be true.
"What has you so excited?" He asked. I stood up on my knees on the bed and got closer to him until we were inches from each other.
"My darling, you are scaring me. I have not seen you this nervous since our wedding night." He whispered to me, taking some of my blonde hair and putting it behind my ear. I smiled, knowing it was true. I was shaking.
"Erik, you know how I fainted the other day at a rehearsal?" I began to say, trying to get the words out of my mouth.
"I do not like thinking much about it but yes." He said with his familiar protective tone.
"Well, I went to the doctor today because I was starting to feel lightheaded quite constantly. And … he told me… that I was with child." I said that final statement as quickly as I could, wanting the words out already.
A long silence ensued and my heart began beating erratically. The last time Erik and I spoke of having children Erik was quite against it. Even though Philippe had no health issues, he was afraid that the condition of his deformity could be hereditary. I assured him that it could not be but we ended up having our first, big discussion since we got married. But now… we were not speaking hypothetically.
"Erik, can you please say something?" I asked, desperately, looking up at the man I had rendered speechless.
"And you are sure about this?" He asked me, his eyes averting my own.
"Yes. I am."
I saw him sigh and turn away from me. I could not exactly understand his reaction but he did not seem happy.
"Erik…" I said, wanting him to say something.
"I don't know what to say."
"Well, you can start by something other than that." I scoffed.
"Meg, you knew how I felt about this. I was… not entirely sure if I wanted another child." He answered me, his back tense. His voice betrayed certain sadness and even the anger he was feeling. I felt my eyes begin to water but I held them back. This was not the reaction I wanted but it was the one I feared.
"What did you expect me to do? Not make love to my husband for the rest of our marriage?" I answered back hotly, as if this was something I could control or I trapped him to do. "If that was what you wanted, Erik, you certainly have fooled me a lot of nights."
"Meg…" He answered in a warning tone. His familiar temper rising.
"What do you want me to do now, Erik?! Do you want me to get rid of the baby?" I asked angrily, tears running down my face. When he did not answer me, I could almost feel my heart break inside.
"I cannot believe this." I whispered hotly. But I could not stay there another minute; I could feel myself about to burst out crying. I got down from the bed and started walking towards the exit.
"I do not care what you say. I am not getting rid of this child! Shame on you, Erik!" I exclaimed opening the door but it slammed shut a moment after. I felt his arm turn me around and my back pressed back against the door.
"Meg, I am simply afraid of what might happen!" He answered me angrily, his warm breath on my cheek.
"You would be a Father! There is nothing wrong with that!"
"What if I curse this child forever? I refuse to let him meet my same fate!"
"Like Philippe did? Or are you forgetting how much he has learned to love you and what an extraordinary boy he is! Because of you!"
"But what if this child is born and looks like me! I would not bear to live with myself!" He answered and tears started running down his face. I could see the deep sadness in his eyes and the desperation for me to understand that he did not want our child to pass through the same loss he did. But I need Erik to understand that that will never happen because I will not permit it.
"Oh, Erik… if our child is born that way then it will know love from the moment he or she is born until we are not with them anymore. I will love this child with even more fervor than I love you. It does not matter to me… It never has. But they will never be alone, we will be with them." I whispered, cupping his face, caressing his cheek. Erik laid his face on my neck and cried brokenly. His shoulders shaking as I wrapped my arms around him. I understood his worry but Erik must stop living in this fear of himself. He is an amazing man with beautiful qualities, which I know this child will only showcase those best qualities of his.
"Forgive me, Meg." I heard his muffled voice from my neck. "Forgive me." He raised his head and touched his forehead to mine. "I forgot that this child will have something precious that I did not have until recently in my life."
"What's that?" I whispered.
"Your love." He answered and I opened my eyes in surprise. "Your capacity to love is the transforming kind. That if I had known sooner, my life would have been very different. As a woman, you have loved so enduringly. I can only imagine as a Mother."
"Then, trust me, Erik. Trust me." I whispered back and he wrapped his arms around my waist and kissed me softly.
"I already do." He answered. He put his arm under my legs and raised me up easily, laying me on the bed. He lay down beside my stomach and began kissing it. I could not help but cry as I realized that this was Erik's way of telling me of his approval and gratitude.
"You have made me a happy man tonight, Meg. I do not want you to think differently." He whispered, still kissing my stomach softly.
"Really? Are you really happy, my love?" I asked insecurely. He looked up at me, almost guiltily. He raised himself until he was face to face with me. He leaned down and kissed me fervently, making me breathless.
"Yes, I am. I truly am." He whispered inches from my lips. He then proceeded to leave me breathless with his kisses until I noticed the urgency and the desire that began to take over.
"I thought you were going to write tonight?" I whispered, my heartbeat already beating faster in expectation of what was going to happen.
"I can write tomorrow. Tonight, I wish to celebrate this moment with my wife and show her how happy I am." He whispered back, smiling in between kisses.
Ten Years Later
The Paris Opera Ballet School
I was shutting down what remained of the lights that were on in the school. My students had just left and I was waiting for Erik to finish shutting down the theater. I looked at myself in the huge, wide mirror in front of me. I saw my forty-year old face staring back at me and I could not believe that we had made it this far. Sixteen years ago, Benedict's Academy had succeeded so much success and had so many pupils that we were granted the opportunity to move to the new Palais Garnier and become the official Ballet Company for the Opera House. Benedict became the most sought upon Ballet Master in all of Europe and I became his top teacher. I became a rare species of a woman, a Comtesse to maintain her profession, but I did not really care of society's standards. After my husband and my daughter, Ballet was my biggest passion.
"Mama?" I heard my ten-year-old daughter, Eleanora, call me and break me from my thoughts. She was looking for me in the darkness.
"Ellie, I'm here, darling." I answered in the dark. I took my bag and began walking towards the exit where she was standing; Her golden hair almost shining because of the reflection of the light behind her.
"Everyone is waiting outside for you, Mama." She said as she raised her hand for me to take it.
"Really? Then let's not make them wait any longer." I answered, giving her a light kiss on the cheek, and taking her hand.
As we exited the Ballet School I could see six figures waiting for me, lost in discussion, two automobiles beside them. The cool night air a bit cold, winter's chill almost upon us.
"Are you sure about that, Erik?" Benedict asked Erik, holding the hand of his eight year old's son, Louis.
"Yes, trust me, my friend. It is a better ending." Erik answered. He was dressed in a grey suit and top hat. They were speaking of the new Opera they were planning to do, no doubt.
"Which is a better ending?" I asked, making myself known.
"I shall tell you later, Meg. Once we have made up our minds." Erik grinned.
"Will I finally be able to appear, Papa?" Ellie asked innocently and with excitement making everyone chuckle. She has always wanted to appear in her Father's Operas.
"I promise you, Eleanora Leroux, that when you finally appear in one of my Operas it will be glorious!" Erik teased her.
"I want to be a strong princess that slays a dragon!" Ellie answered excitedly, letting go of my hand and running into her Father's arms. Ellie already had her Father's imagination.
"A Princess dragon- slayer, that sounds extremely interesting for an Opera." Philippe answered with a grin on his face. Now nineteen years old, he was dressed as a young, French gentleman. He had grown to be quite handsome, like his Father. Philippe has known who his true Father was for years now, Raoul making it known to him in not the best circumstances. Since then, Erik and him have created a strong bond, Philippe accepting him as his Father slowly but surely as years passed by. Now, they were pretty hard to separate.
"Or I could be an angel with a beautiful voice like Auntie Christine!" Ellie said, looking Christine's way as she held Benedict's hand. Christine and Benedict married almost two years after Erik and I. Their courtship quite a scandalous one because of the sudden disappearance of Count Di Chagny and Christine's status as a woman with a Fatherless son. But like any love that is true, their feelings endured and grew with every passing year and with every hardship. Benedict's kind soul was able to fight away all of Christine's past demons. I could see in her eyes the moment she married Ben, she was at peace with herself and her past.
"I am very sure with your Father's lessons, Ellie, you will become an even better singer than me.'' Christine answered tenderly, glancing at Erik. I am quite sure they thought back to a lifetime ago, when Erik taught her all she knew of music.
"Can I be the Prince that saves her?" Louis asked shyly from his Father's side. Louis was so much like his Father and Mother. Shy, kind and sweet but with Christine's talents for singing and Benedict's quiet strength.
"Do not be silly, Louis. I am a dragon slayer, I do not need a Prince!" Ellie answered back with a fire. Louis blushed and shied away behind his Father.
"Spoken just as feistily like her Mother." Erik said, grinning at me, and we all laughed.
"Well, I am starving, please tell me we can go to Grandma Helen's tonight?" Philippe asked.
"Yes, she is actually waiting for us. Mama said she would have supper for us." I answered.
"But it is so late, Meg? Are you sure she will not mind the intrusion? I am not really in the mood for Helene's fury tonight." Ben asked with a grin on his face.
"I am afraid we will meet it anyway if we never arrive to accept her invitation." Erik sighed. "I know my Mother- in law."
We all chuckled and agreed with Erik's statement and began to make our way to our automobiles. At first, I was quite unsure of the idea of the car, finding it dangerous, but Erik insisted on it. He told me that his friends the Renault brothers were insisting on it being the new greatest invention of our generation. Erik being ever so visionary agreed on buying one. Soon after, he convinced Philippe to insist on Ben to buy one as well.
"What are you thinking about, my love?" Erik whispered to me as we made our way to my Mother's house. I looked at him and observed Ellie sitting on his lap, her head on his chest, fast asleep. And I could feel the most profound sense of happiness I think I have ever felt in my whole life. And to think years ago, I believed I would never find happiness at all.
"Nothing, my darling. For once, I am not thinking at all. I am simply feeling completely and incandescently happy. Did you ever believe we would make it this far, Erik?" I whispered back and smiled.
"No, at least, not me. But thank you, mon amour, for showing me that this happiness was actually possible in my life. Really, Meg, thank you." He whispered back and kissed me softly on the lips.
I smiled in between kisses happy to know that our days of endless night were finally over.