Disclaimer: I do not own POTO or Elisabeth.

Chapter Twenty

The Curtain is Falling

When the train stopped in Paris, Vladen looked up at Christine and asked her, "Why aren't we going home?" At first, Christine was just as confused as her son. Home? What did he mean? Paris was home. But then, wait a minute…

She sighed, "We'll have to make this our home for a while. We'll be back in Sweden before you know it." Christine intended to keep her promise.

Eventually, she was able to secure a job working at a millenary, and she was making decent money so that she could support herself and Vladen and tuck a little bit away to pay for returning to Sweden. The work was not hard, simply sewing trimmings on gowns and hemming dresses and skirts that had been accidentally made too long.

With what education Christine had received, she was able to tutor Vladen herself in reading and writing. Although she had to take a self-taught crash course on arithmetic to be able to teach her son, Christine was able to add arithmetic to the curriculum. She continued giving him French lessons, much to his displeasure, but they were absolutely necessary. Who knew how long they would be in France before Christine had saved enough money for the journey and a flat?

She was blissfully unaware of the fact that everything was about to change.

XXX

The list had been double-checked and triple-checked. There were absolutely no errors. As the time of Christine's death drew nearer, Erik didn't know whether he was going to be able to do it. Then he thought of the feeling of Christine's lips pressed against his. He had wanted that for so long now. He thought of the feeling of knowing that Christine was his at last, for eternity.

What about her young son, Vladen? What would happen to him once his mother was gone? He'd have no one to look after him then. He'd be all alone. Erik knew more than anyone the truly agony of being alone. His lips twitched upward. Of course Vladen wouldn't be alone. Vladen would have Ami, who promised him once that he'd never leave him. Ami hadn't always been one to keep his promises, but this was one he intended to keep.

One of the souls came up to him and muttered, "Death, sir, it is time for your appointment with Christine Daae."

"Thank you," he said, pulling his cloak about himself and descending down to the mortal world.

XXX

"Vladen, I have to go now," Christine said.

"Do you have to go, Mamma?" Vladen asked. They'd gone threw this conversation every day since they had returned to Paris.

"Unfortunately, yes. I'll be back at the usual time. If you get hungry, there is a roll in the cupboard. Have a good day now, and study your arithmetic like I told you to."

"Yes, Mamma. Good-bye."

"Goody-bye." Christine kissed him gently on the cheek and walked out the door.

Christine reached the millenary at eight o'clock, her usual time. The hours passed just as they did, filled with the same mundane sound of humming sewing machines and the demanding shouts of upper class girls ordering or getting their fitting for dresses for the latest ball or social event.

Six o'clock rolled around, and Christine pulled her cloak about herself and exited the millenary.

The evening was beautiful, warm and still. The sun was just beginning to set, staining the sky a blood red.

A horribly familiar shrill scream pierced the near perfect evening. Before Christine could do anything, Mignon Sommer was stabbing a knife into her breast. She ran down the street laughing madly, and Christine fell to the ground. Everything was fading away fast. Only black figure, who was approaching her.

Erik sang, softly, almost pleadingly:

"The Veil is falling, Leave the shadows
I was longing so much for you
Don't let me wait."

Christine sighed. So this was finally the finale of their opera. Maybe it wasn't the finale, maybe it was only the prologue. She raised her voice in reply:

"Let me be safe and free
erase all memories of me
give my soul a home."

Erik thrust out his hand toward her and cried:

"Let the world perish…"

She took his hand and joined him:

"I want to drown with you in the emptiness
and ascend with you in the fire again
lose myself with you in eternity!"

He melted into her embrace as Christine continued singing, softly:

"I have laughed and cried,
I despaired and hoped again,
But whatever I did,
I was always loyal to myself."

Now he joined her, a broad smile filling his face:

"The world searches in vain
For the meaning of my/your life"

Christine whispered:

"For I belong to me!"

Erik's smile was made only broader when he corrected her:

"You belong to me!"

Christine finally accepted his kiss.

Fin

A/N: I can't believe it: the last chapter! (wipes tear from face) Thanks to everyone whose followed this story and/or left a review.

The song is "Der Schleier Fallt (The Veil is Falling)" from Elisabeth. As always, many thanks to Stacy's Musical Village for the wonderful English translations!

I planning to start another full-length POTO fic soon, but it will take a backseat to my Pride and Prejudice fic, The Lonely Bennet.