Another chapter guys :) One left and that is the epilogue :) Sad to see this story come to an end :( But all good things have to come to an end :( I would like to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for reading, reviewing, following and favoriting this story :) It means a lot to me :) I never expected my writing to get so much love :)

Erik: You are abandoning me...Again...what have I told you about being disloyal to me?

Me: I know...I know...but you can't kill me...otherwise who would write more wonderful fanfiction about you?

Erik: Oh I think there are plenty of other fanfiction writers out there who could write wonderful fanfics about me :) *Pulls lasso out of cloak*

Me: Please have mercy! *Runs away* Reviews and constructive criticism are welcome as always...please try to talk some sense into Erik :/ Now I don't own anything apart from my OC :) Lyrics belong to respective owners and characters belong to Gaston Leroux and Andrew Lloyd Webber :) On with the show!


Heartache and Pain: Loving Life

Chapter Seventeen: So Cut Me From The Line...

Erik's POV

After Charlene kissed me and collapsed, I screamed in agony at losing the one woman I loved. After what felt like hours, being buried in the crook of her neck, near her chest, I thought I heard something; a definite, but small heartbeat. But how was she still alive? And was she going to be ok?

"Where is Giry with that doctor?!" I seethed, as I realised the doctor had yet to show up.

"I'll go up above. The doctor could be here, but just finding it difficult to reach us down here." Nadir said matter of factly, before making his way towards the surface. My thoughts then drifted back to what she said before she collapsed. What did she mean when she said she couldn't feel her legs? Is she to be paralysed for life? Or will she gain the use of her legs through rehabilitation? I was broken out of my reverie by someone calling my name. I looked up to see Raoul looking down at Charlene concernedly.

"Is she going to be ok?" He asked, as he knelt down beside her.

"I'm not sure. Where's Nadir with that doctor?" I said quietly. I looked up again when I heard purposeful footsteps coming towards us. However, instead of the doctor being in tow, I saw Nadir carrying some sort of stretcher in his hand.

"Where's the doctor?" I asked quickly.

"He said it will be too dangerous for him to come down here. So we have to bring her up to him. Although he warned that there is a risk that moving her, could cause permanent paralysis."

"Did you explain to the doctor that her last words were 'I can't feel my legs'?" I asked curiously.

"I didn't. That could mean paralysis has already set in. I did tell the doctor she got shot, although I wasn't sure where she was shot exactly."

"We need to hurry! Who knows how much blood she has lost!?" I said quickly. After getting Raoul and Nadir to help me load her onto the stretcher, I led them towards the boat, before steering it to the other side. There I saw the doctor standing beside Antoinette.

"Were you careful moving the patient?"

"I think she has already suffered paralysis, before she collapsed, she said she couldn't feel her legs." I replied matter of factly.

"Let's get her to the hospital. We might be able to save her legs. However, there is a chance she will never regain full use of her legs. She may be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life." He said matter of factly. Before Nadir and Raoul followed the doctor and carried her to the ambulance. All the while I stared at Antoinette.

"How could you?" I seethed angrily.

"I had no choice." She replied stoically.

"Everyone has a choice. Did you know the reason she was put in jail in the first place?" I asked quietly.

"I do yes. I am not proud of what she has done. But it doesn't mean she is beyond redemption." She replied stoically.

"That doesn't mean the moment she convinces you, she has 'redeemed' herself, that you release her!" I yelled angrily in reply.

"Now if you excuse me, I need to be with my wife." And with that I left Antoinette where she stood. After grabbing a taxi, I asked them to take me to the hospital. Once I arrived, I went up to the reception desk, and asked them if I could visit Charlene.

"I'm afraid she is still in surgery at the moment. We will inform you when you can visit her." And so I decided to grab a coffee and inform Christine of the situation, as well as the travel provider, as I knew we would miss our flight home.

After everything was done, and I just finished my coffee, I saw a nurse coming towards me.

"Mr Destler?" I nodded in assent, before she continued.

"Your wife is out of surgery, if you will follow me please, I will explain her situation on the way." And after I got up, and followed her out of the room, she said matter of factly.

"We were able to stop the bleeding and remove the bullet in her back. However, the nerves were severed beyond repair, so even after rehabilitation, she will never regain use of her legs. She will need to use a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Sadly, it appears when she collapsed, she actually went into a coma instead. However, she is stable at the moment, if you would like to see her." And when she finished explaining, we found ourselves outside her room. When I entered, it made me think of the last time she was in hospital, making me break down in tears, when the nurse left me alone. I took hold of her hand and said tearfully.

"I'm sorry for not protecting you better. I'm sorry for failing you Mon ange. I just hope you are still in there, and that you will come back to us soon." I was lost to the world, until someone touched me gently on the shoulder.

"She will come back to us. She is a strong woman, and I sense she has fight left in her. Although it is but a small spark, we will make it grow and burst like a firework." Christine said gently.

"I hope you're right. I couldn't live with myself, if I were to ever lose her." I breathed, as a single tear fell down my unmasked cheek.

"The children are here to see her. I thought maybe, that once again, their presence could bring her back to us." Christine said, as she gestured the twins forward, before passing Rosa May to my outstretched arms. As I bounced her on my knee, I was stopped suddenly by something.

"Mama?" And I looked down at Rosa May in shock. Did she just talk? I know she is only 12 months old, but I haven't heard her talk before. But I guess they do start talking around this age, but I couldn't be sure for certain, as every child is different. However, it appeared there were still no signs of life from Charlene yet. It was a shame I didn't have a violin with me, as she seems to react to my music, and I hoped it might wake her from her coma. As I held onto her hand, with Rosa May sleeping peacefully in my arms, I heard a familiar melody come to the forefront of my mind. Knowing it was Charlene's favourite song; I started to sing it, hoping she could hear me, and break free from her coma.

I pirouette in the dark

I see the stars through me

Tired mechanical heart

Beats 'til the song disappears

After singing the first verse, before singing the chorus, I could see why she loved this song so much, from the first notes I sung. It touched me in a way my music had never touched me before.

Somebody shine a light

I'm frozen by the fear in me

Somebody make me feel alive

And shatter me

So cut me from the line

Dizzy, spinning endlessly

Somebody make me feel alive

And shatter me

Shatter me!

Somebody make me feel alive

And shatter me

Little did I know an audience had started to form outside the room? Some people just stood and stared, whilst others had tears forming in their eyes.

If only the clockwork could speak

I wouldn't be so alone

We'd burn every magnet and spring

And spiral into the unknown

Somebody shine a light

I'm frozen by the fear in me

Somebody make me feel alive

And shatter me

So cut me from the line

Dizzy, spinning endlessly

Somebody make me feel alive

And shatter me

If I break the glass then I'll have to fly

There's no one to catch me if I take a dive

I'm scared of changing

The days stay the same

The world is spinning but only in gray

If I break the glass then I'll have to fly

There's no one to catch me if I take a dive

I'm scared of changing

The days stay the same

The world is spinning but only in gray

(Only...)

Somebody shine a light

I'm frozen by the fear in me

Somebody make me feel alive

And shatter me

So cut me from the line

Dizzy, spinning endlessly

Somebody make me feel alive

And shatter me

Me...!

Shatter me!

Somebody make me feel alive

And shatter me!

After singing the final verse before the chorus, I broke down in tears, as I saw the meaning behind that verse. I could see now why she loved this song so much and how she could relate to the lyrics. Sadly however, she didn't seem to break out of her coma. After getting Christine to put the children to bed, I slept beside Charlene, reassuring her that I am there, for when she wakes up.

~Six months later~

It had been six months since Charlene was shot, and we were still in a hospital in Paris, as we were unable to move Charlene in her current condition. During the time we were away, I had to inform the Floristry School what had happened. I also had to inform Nadir what had been going on, due to the fact he had to go back to London, as he was head counsellor. However, I allowed Christine to take the children back, as they needed to go back to school. But I allowed them to call once a week, in the hopes Charlene hearing their voices, would wake her. Sadly, she had yet to wake, and the doctors were beginning to lose hope, that I would ever get her back. However, I refused to turn off her life support, as I believed she was still there somewhere, just lost in a dark world, which she couldn't escape from. As I held her hand in mine, a melody which had been teasing my ears for a while; came to the forefront of my mind.

How does a moment last forever?

How can a story never die?

It is love we must hold onto

Never easy, but we try

Sometimes our happiness is captured

Somehow, our time and place stand still

Love lives on inside our hearts and always will

[Chorus]

Minutes turn to hours, days to years then gone

But when all else has been forgotten

Still our song lives on

[Verse 2]

Maybe some moments weren't so perfect

Maybe some memories not so sweet

But we have to know some bad times

Or our lives are incomplete

The poignancy of the lyrics caused tears to fall down my cheeks, onto her hand, for a moment I thought I felt movement, but I continued to sing, as I thought nothing of it.

Then when the shadows overtake us

Just when we feel all hope is gone

We'll hear our song and know once more

Our love lives on

[Verse 3]

How does a moment last forever?

How does our happiness endure?

Through the darkest of our troubles

Love is beauty, love is pure

Love pays no mind to desolation

It flows like a river through the soul

Protects, persists, and perseveres

And makes us whole

[Chorus]

Minutes turn to hours, days to years then gone

But when all else has been forgotten

Still our song lives on

That's how a moment lasts forever:

When our song lives on

As the last note echoed around the room, I felt my hand being gripped firmly, and I heard a voice say.

"So cut me from the line." I looked down to see Charlene's beautiful brown eyes looking up at me.

"You're awake." I breathed, before kissing her gently on the lips.

"What happened?" She asked quietly, as she tried to sit up.

"Don't try getting up. You've been in a six month long coma and had a long operation. Also you were shot darling." I explained gently, as I stopped her from getting up, in case she torn her stitches.

"And I don't want you to tear your stitches." I continued.

"Stitches?" She asked curiously.

"After they operated on your spine to stop the bleeding, they tried to save the nerves, before closing up the wound." I replied.

"How come they haven't taken them out?" She asked curiously.

"Because of the fact the wound was so serious; it took a while to heal. Plus you were in a coma, they were unsure you would ever wake up." With a nod in assent that she fully understood, I said matter of factly.

"I'll just get the doctor now. Tell him the good news, and that means they should be able to get the stitches out." But before I could leave, I felt a hand wrap itself around my wrist.

"Please don't leave me alone." She pleaded.

"Don't worry, I won't leave you alone for a second, I'll just poke my head round the door and call the doctor over." And with that I looked out of the door, to see the doctor coming down the corridor.

"My wife is awake. Could you give her a check-up please? See if the stitches can come out, and then explain to her the situation, but as simply as possible please." With a nod, the doctor came in, to see my wife once again trying to sit up.

"Please Mrs Destler! Let me just give you the once over, then I will get your husband here to help you up. Mr Destler? Could you help me roll over your wife onto her front please? I'll check to see if the stitches can be removed." He said quickly. I then came over and gently turned her over onto her front, before holding her hand and stroking it reassuringly.

"It appears the stitches can come out, she is healing very nicely. I warn you though, this may sting a little." And he proceeded to pull out the stitches; every so often I would feel her squeeze my hand tightly. Soon enough, the stitches were out, and so I rolled Charlene back onto her back.

"If you could just sign these forms Mr Destler, we can discharge her today. I'll just retrieve a wheelchair whilst you do that." As I filled in the forms, I saw Charlene trying to get up out of the corner of my eye.

"Be careful! You might find it difficult to get up without aid!" I said quickly.

"Why can't I feel my legs?" She asked quietly. Before I could explain, the doctor came in, whilst wheeling in a wheelchair.

"Mrs Destler, I'm afraid I have some bad news." He started, as I lifted Charlene up so she was sitting up in bed.

"When you came in, you were shot in the back and losing a lot of blood. Although we managed to stop the bleeding, sadly we were unable to save the severed nerves in your spine. I'm sorry to say this, but the nerves were severed beyond repair, and so are paralysed for life. So you will be confined to a wheelchair indefinitely." I watched closely, as I could practically hear the gears turning in her head, before the enormity of the situation finally kicked in. I embraced her tightly, as the tears started falling down her cheeks. I quickly handed the forms back to the doctor, before saying quietly.

"Thank you sir. I'll take it from here." And with that I heard the doctor leave the room, to which I rubbed her back soothingly.

"Sssh...Sssh...its ok, we'll get through this. We always endure everything that comes our way. I'll be here. I'll always be here for you."

"Let's get back to the hotel shall we? You need to rest before the journey home tomorrow."

"Have I missed school because of being in a coma?" She said quietly, as she wiped the tears from her eyes.

"Once I explained to the school what happened, they were ok with you joining in during the second term. Second term starts in two weeks time. You will be learning the syllabus for second term, but in the evenings, you will be taught the syllabus from the first term. Once we get home, I will explain to them how to accommodate your needs." I explained matter of factly. I then helped her into her clothes, before lifting her into the wheelchair. I then placed her belongings into her lap, before wheeling her towards the door and the exit. As we waited for a taxi, Charlene asked curiously.

"How are we going to get home? We missed our flight."

"We'll be going on the Eurostar. The train to London leaves tomorrow afternoon, so we still have some time to pack tomorrow."

"Haven't the children gone back to school?" She asked, after we boarded a taxi.

"They have. I sent them back with Christine; she has been looking after them for us. They will be so happy to see you." Once we got back to the hotel. I helped Charlene into her nightgown, before taking her towards the bathroom. Once we were ready for bed, we fell asleep in each other's embrace.

The next morning, I woke up to the sunlight streaming in through the windows. However, I looked down, to see Charlene thrashing about, and muttering incoherently under her breath. As I tried to shake her awake, her back arched alarmingly, before she let out a high-pitched scream. Fear and distress clearly swirling within the depths of her wide eyes. After bundling her into my arms, I stroked her back soothingly and whispered soothingly into her ear.

"It's ok, I'm here, and I'll protect you always, no matter what."

"Please make it go away." She pleaded tearfully, as she cried into my chest, whilst tightly fisting the fabric of my nightshirt.

"I would chase away the night in order to protect you. Tell me what it is you have me do and I'll do it."

"Make the pain go away. Please make it go away." She pleaded, as her breathing became increasingly shallow. I could tell the panic was setting in, as she began to hyperventilate, which only occurs when she is panicking about something.

"Charlene...Look at me...it's ok...you're safe. I want you to breathe in and out, you know, like the singers do before a show. Breathe in, breathe out." And I smiled as her breathing evened out and her sobs turned to slight hiccups. Once she calmed down, I asked gently.

"Would you like some help getting out of bed before I order breakfast?"

"I can do it on my own." She said firmly and I watched as she tried to get into the wheelchair I left beside her side of the bed. I quickly jumped to her side of the bed, when I saw her about to fall, and grabbed her around her waist. I placed her down before getting off the bed and moving around so I was in front of her.

"I understand your need for independence. But it will take some time for you to get use to your new life." I cooed gently, as I effortlessly lifted her into the wheelchair. She then immediately wheeled herself into the bathroom, her stubbornness and need for independence evidently showing through. Whilst she got herself ready, I rang for some breakfast, before we started on the packing. However I stayed nearby, in case she needed me, I was there to help her if she wanted it. Soon enough she was finished, just as breakfast was brought in. Before I helped her change, we ate breakfast together, whilst we sat on the bed. Once we finished, I set her up in front of the bed with an empty suitcase, whilst I got washed and ready for the day. Once I was finished, I walked out of the bathroom, to see Charlene closing and locking up the suitcase.

"Are you finished with your suitcase?" I asked curiously.

"I am. Would you like some help with your suitcase?" She replied.

"How about I pull items out of the wardrobe, whilst you fold and place them in the suitcase?" I suggested gently, before proceeding to pull out individual items in turn, whilst Charlene folded them neatly in turn. Soon enough we were finished, and so we made our way to the train station, so we arrived early to catch our train, which left at two. We arrived at the station and decided to pick up some lunch, before boarding the train. However, as we went towards a nearby coffee shop, I noticed the fact Charlene looked incredibly self conscious and nervous. Why was she feeling like this though? Was she worried about the judgement she will receive? Especially now her disability is more obvious than it used to be. Once we boarded the train, I wrapped my hand around hers, before stroking her knuckles, hoping to reassure her. Soon enough my ministrations appeared to have an effect on her, as she stopped looking around nervously. I saw her look out of the window, as the Parisian scenery disappeared from view, with a wistful look on her face.

"I promise you, we will return one day, I long to see the city that held a legend." I vowed passionately. But as the journey progressed, her head kept drooping, until her breathing evened out and she fell peacefully asleep.

A couple of hours later we arrived in London; and after picking up our luggage, we left the train, before going towards the exit. All the while Charlene remained peacefully asleep in the wheelchair. Luckily the members of staff were really helpful, by wheeling the luggage out to the taxi rank, whilst I wheeled Charlene in her wheelchair. After boarding the taxi, I watched the scenery go by, as I wrapped my arm around her shoulder. Once we arrived home, we were greeted by Christine, who helped us carry the luggage inside, as I carried Charlene inside. Once I placed her on the sofa, I hugged Christine gratefully and said respectfully.

"Thank you once again for all of your help. I trust the children were not too much trouble?"

"As usual they were on their best behaviour. Although Rosa May was restless on a few occasions, but I guess she was missing her mother. But other than that there were no problems with their behaviour at all."

"I'm glad they were no trouble. Although I expected nothing less. But once again, thank you and good night."

"Good night Erik. I am glad Charlene is back with us. Tell her I said good night and I will see her soon."

"Will do." I said and I watched as she left out of the flat. After ordering a take away, I was nearly barrelled to the floor by the twins greeting us. I then watched as Rosa May walked into the room. I can't believe how fast she is developing, especially since she is only a little over 12 months now. I lifted her up into my arms and hugged her tightly. I then answered the door, before dishing out the food for everyone. I went over to where Charlene was sleeping peacefully, before waking her up with a kiss to the forehead.

"Dinner's ready darling." I said. I wheeled the wheelchair towards Charlene, before placing Rosa May's feet on the ground, to allow me to help Charlene into it. She then wheeled herself to the table, before sliding into the chair I pulled out for her. As we ate, I could tell the twins were curious, about how their mother got into her current situation. I then looked over at Charlene, before sadness came over me, as she picked at her food, rather than eating it. I think she was able to tell they were curious, and although not intentional, I think she takes it to heart and didn't want to say anything about what happened. Once we finished dinner, Charlene slid back into the wheelchair, before going towards the sofa. I then decided to research options, which will allow us to live in our current home, but allows Charlene to get around easily. In the end I decided to install a stair lift, to help her get up and down the stairs. I will then think of a way, to make the kitchen accessible to everyone, as I knew how much she enjoys cooking. However, at the moment, the counters are a little too high for her to use, and I have seen her countless times staring wistfully at the stove. I then looked curiously to see if there were counters, which had the option to be raised or lowered, depending on who is using them. However, as I was not getting anywhere with that aspect of the research, I decided to put the children to bed, before relaxing in front of the television with Charlene. As we relaxed, I noticed the fact Charlene was leaning on my shoulder, not really watching the television. I wrapped my arm around her shoulder, before saying passionately.

"We will get through this. Whatever life throws at us, we will be together, forever." And as the opening notes to 'The Aerie' played, we fell asleep in each other's embrace. A contented smile playing across my lips...