Here it is, children, the last chapter.

Disclaimers: see chapter 1.

Chapter 43 Look to the Future

One year later, in Paris airport.

And now Gilles Andre will report from the court house. Andre, could you remind us all of the circumstances of this trial?

Certainly. This all started one year ago then when a man imposing to be Anatole Garron was turned out to be Jerome Reyer, a criminal who had taken part on numerous robberies and even murdered his partner, Joseph Buquet. In a scandalous trial one year ago then, Reyer revealed some harsh evidences that claimed him to be a son of the chief prosecutor Lord Ambrose d'Arcy. Reyer's trial was put on hold as the evidences were carefully inspected and Ambrose d'Arcy was put on custody. However, in still mysterious circumstances, Reyer managed to escape from prison so he was never brought to witness. The both cases of Reyer and d'Arcy have been on hold for a year. However, Reyer was finally found in Cairo two weeks ago then, imposing under an alias of Jacob Hassan. He has now been re-arrested and brought to first witness in case of Ambrose d'Arcy and then face his own trial. It is suspected that the two will face a long sentence…

Christine Daae, the former Countess of de Chagny, turned her attention away from the big TV screen on the wall that was showing Andre's report. For two weeks press had gone on and on about Jerome Reyer's recapture and the long awaited trial of Ambrose d'Arcy. After Reyer had revealed to be a "buried-alive-son", all of d'Arcy's earlier cases and life events faced inspection. D'Arcy's closest worker, Richard Firmin, had personally gone through most of records there was to be found. Although public was not completely aware of what had been found, there were rumours of some other charges being made. It would seem that d'Arcy might have turned some cases immorally for his benefit in the past. No matter what it really was, d'Arcy was in deep trouble.

"Mrs. Daae? Are you alright?"

Christine blinked and pulled herself from thinking of d'Arcy. She turned to see Meg Carriere, former d'Arcy, looking at her. Meg and Phillip had married few months after they had eloped. They had just recently returned back to Paris.

Christine smiled. "I'm alright, dear. That trial must be harder for you than to anyone else" she said.

A moment of dark look passed on Meg's face but she smiled. "I'll live. I am my grandmother's granddaughter after all".

Christine laughed. "That you are indeed. Do tell Madame Giry to visit me in the future again. It was so good to see her. That is if her health permits it".

"Do not worry about my grandmother. Sometimes I think she'll outlive us all" Meg laughed.

"Most probably" Phillip said from next to his wife. Stories of strict mother-in-laws paled in comparison of grandmother-in-laws. "When is Charles' plane coming anyway?"

From next to him, Harry Hunter looked at his watch. "It should land very soon. I hope at least, it's already 40 minutes late" he muttered, but as a loyal friend would never leave.

They had all come to welcome Charles back to Paris, as he had been away for over a year already. Charles had joined the army in Middle-East and there moved all the way to Mazandera, to help with rebuilding the nation. It was his way to repay all that his father had done. On the way Charles had changed his last name from de Chagny to Daae, to make things easier and less uncomfortable.

"Sorry, I'm late!"

Everyone turned around to see Maria Cholet running towards them. She was running very fast through the airport, trying to avoid hitting to people. When she reached them she was panting heavily. She raised her head to look at everyone and then looked around her.

"Wah-? The jerk hasn't even landed yet?" she asked.

Harry smirked evilly. "Oh, are you so anxious to see him again? But you must certainly be. I do remember that kiss you gave him a year ago then" he said.

Maria's face turned scarlet. "You-you-I-you're dead!" she mumbled as she started to, for amusement of others, to pound her fists on Harry, who tried to shield himself.

Christine smiled fondly. Maria had gained some name in the world of art recently and was acknowledged in London. Her mother, Carlotta, was still in a hospital. Maria visited her often and although Carlotta had made some progress in putting the pieces of her broken mind back together, she still had a long way to go. The recent news of Jerome Reyer was putting her to a test.

Alan Cholet seemed to have disappeared from the face of the earth. There were lots of different rumours about him. Some said he was dead, in the bottom of a sea with cement boots. Others said he was living with a false name in Sweden, trying to build his fortune again. One thing was certain, Alan Cholet's role in Paris society was over. The Opera Populaire was now run by a man named Debienne, who seemed to at least have more interest in arts than his predecessor.

"The flight 431 has now landed to gate 26. We thank you for your patience".

The group moved towards the gate and saw a line of people entering the airport, all tired from their journey and obviously revealed to have landed. Charles appeared out of midst of them. He was dressed in a blue uniform and had a shorter haircut. He looked around himself, trying to find familiar faces.

"The poor boy is going to wonder around if someone doesn't go there. Maria, would you do the honours?" Christine asked.

Maria turned to look the former Countess. "But…but certainly you would prefer…" she stuttered, feeling embarrassed.

"No, dear, it's perfectly alright. Please, go" Christine said warmly.

Maria seemed little hesitant, almost as if a shy little girl, but then she became herself again and she walked towards Charles.

Harry chuckled with a good humour. "Those two are really something" he said and started walking there also, though he purposely delayed behind Maria.

Christine kept watching, feeling very warm inside of her. Erik said that we must hope the ones coming after us will not have their happiness denied. Those two will definitely succeed, she thought.

After saying their goodbyes a year ago, Count Paradise had put all his energy, power and money on improving things and help those in need. Since the world was still full of those nations that desperately needed help after the Third World War, Count started to help them. He did not just give a big fancy sum of money to make himself look good, he gave loads of sums to hospitals, schools and workers, and also to arts for he could never denied that passion of his. He travelled the world on sea, in his private yacht. No longer were the words mysterious and scandalous heard when his name was mentioned.

This lasted till last November, when the long tormenting disease in his body finally took hold, and Count Paradise died, while sailing on the former Haiti. Although the specifics of his death were unknown, Christine had heard a rumour that Princess Ayesha, who had stayed on Count's side during his travels, had held his hand till the very end. Christine hoped this was truth. She hoped Erik wouldn't have felt himself alone during his last moments.

Princess Ayesha had inherited Count's entire fortune and she continued his work after his death. Ayesha also returned to Mazandera, her birth country, to help rebuild the nation. The people of Mazandera welcomed her and she was ultimately persuaded in claiming her rightful position as the heir of crown. The country is indeed doing far better than just a short time ago then, and she says she has many plans and visions. In all the pictures that have been taken of her, Nadir, Lajos and Sasha all appear by her side, or at least one of them does.

In one of Ayesha's rare interviews, she said "A great man, who became the most important in my life, told me to not to repeat his mistake of living in the past but look to the future".

As Christine watches as Charles greets all the other of his friends, while still sneakily holding one of his arms around Maria, and she believes it really is time to look for the future. It is time to leave the ghosts of her past behind, time to leave so many things, but never to forget. She treasures all the good memories she has and learns from her past mistakes.

And just before she walks to greet her son, of whom she is so proud of, who also managed to leave past behind and look to the future, she closes her eyes and shuts all the outside noises away. And for a briefest moment, she can still hear a tender, loving voice singing softly to her ear an old minstrel song of a nightingale and a rose.

The End

(Nearly said To be Continued…again)

Well that's it. My fifth POTO fic on this site and the second fic to have inspired by The Count of Monte Cristo. 43 chapters long. The first chapter was posted on last June, so it has taken a little bit over a year to make this entire fic. There were times when I faced the lack of faith and energy, and really just wanted to give up, but now I think it was worth of it, in the end.

Although I said the story is inspired by Alexander Dumas' classic, I think I need to again also mention the importance of anime version "Gankutsuou" that really put me on work. The idea of starting the story from the point where Erik already has become the vengeful count came from the anime. Indeed, without that series, this fic would never have been done.

I also wanted to put things in this fic from Dumas' book that the movie versions usually leave out. Such things were the difficult romance of Phillip and Meg (my counterparts for Maximillien Morrel and Valentine Villefort), Erik having more than just one alias (Edmond Dantes also appeared as an English banker and a priest) and especially the character of Anatole Garron/Jerome Reyer (the double faced Andrea Cavalcanti/Benedetto, whom I've found from only one Dumas movie version).

Big thanks for all of my readers, for those who supported me in the beginning but then just disappeared (avatarded, .93), those who came to support me later (L'oiseau-lyre) and those who reviewed whenever time allowed but never abounded me (the always supporting Michelle, big thanks for you). Last but not least a special thanks for Irena, who supported me through thick and thin and who always kept me going. If I would dedicate this fic to anyone, it would be to you, Irena.

That's all I have to say for now (I probably forgot something). I truly hope you enjoyed this fic, that my grammar mistakes didn't annoy you too much and that you might be interested to look my other works (already completed and upcoming ones). This will be my last POTO fic for a while (until a new inspiration strikes). I shall now take a little rest from writing fics and then drown myself to the world of vampires.

Have fun!