Yes, the world of Love Never Dies has been calling to me again! This will probably be the last chapter as I feel it's already gone on longer than I planned and I really want to work on another "unseen moment" for Bereaved of Light. I hope you enjoy it, even if you haven't read The Past is Another Country. If you have, it corresponds with Chapter 19 and refers to Chapter 17 in places. Please review!
Sometimes I wonder if I have told my son too much.
Sometimes I wonder what he will think of me in years to come, when he is old and grey and I have turned to dust. What will he tell his grandchildren about me?
I am wondering this right now as I sit by his bedside watching him sleep as I sometimes do. Tomorrow he is to be married and nothing will ever be the same again. Tonight I simply want to watch over him, my beloved son who has loved me and stood by me, regardless of all that I have revealed to him in my unguarded moments.
Mind you, saying the wrong thing seems to be a habit of mine, as Meg Giry could testify. And poor Christine too, if only she were here. But I know I should never have told Gustave of the events after Don Juan Triumphant. My goodness, they're probably still talking about it in Paris. Now there's a story and a half for my great-grandchildren, if he is ever brave enough to tell it.
He's moving in his sleep now, muttering a little. I wonder if he is aware he does that? I truly hope my stories are not the cause of it, although he probably didn't have too much sleep at the end of that terrible day when I told him about kidnapping his mother and almost killing his stepfather.
I have no idea because he didn't leave his room for three days following that confrontation. Three days in which I pleaded with him through a locked door to come out and talk to me properly, although the pleading quickly turned to demanding, if I'm honest, which I very rarely have been in my life. But that was nothing to what happened at the end of those three days, after my dishevelled looking son finally emerged from his room. I remember hearing the door slam upstairs and looking at Christine's photograph, silently asking her to give me the patience I needed for what was ahead. But it was to no avail for when I tried to reason with him he just stormed out of the house and didn't return for hours. I had no idea where he was for all that time although I quickly worked it out when he turned up on the doorstep, drunk as a lord and barely coherent. How did he even find his way home? He could have been robbed blind en route, or worse. All I remember thinking was "This is something the vicomte would have done!" And I told him as much, plus a lot more besides, to which he responded with various slurred remarks and insults, none of which a good Catholic boy like him should either know or use. That was a night I haven't forgotten although Gustave might not remember much.
But he needed to know, did he not? He needed to know what kind of person his father was, now that he was old enough to understand, so that there would be no secrets between us regarding that fateful night at the Opera House. Or perhaps, more selfishly, I needed to unburden myself a little more and poison him once again with more stories of my past. You see, I had forgotten that once a thing is known, it cannot be unknown.
It took so long for us to be reconciled that time, but it helped that we spent much of the day apart while Gustave attended his classes at Juliard. I wouldn't have blamed him for moving out at that particular time in his life, but he stayed. Surely I do not deserve to have him here with me, still living with me, willing to bring his future wife into this…situation. Such unconditional love! No doubt, it is his religious faith and his loyalty to his mother that gives him this love, not my influence.
Christine would be so proud of him, I am sure of it. He has always worked so hard, both at school and in his music studies, and I know he would have pursued his career further had it not been for the lure of Phantasma. The wonderful young man before me is longer simply my son but my partner, my equal and yes, my friend. But we have weathered so many storms together and it has not been easy. And tomorrow he is to marry a lovely young lady who Christine would have liked, I am certain. He was so shy and embarrassed when he told me he was meeting a girl for lunch that first time but I grew to love how he spoke of her so enthusiastically as their relationship progressed, just as I used to love his stories about school and his friends when he was growing up.
Helen and I have had a little chat when Gustave wasn't around, of course; after all I cannot allow my son to marry someone I have not approved beforehand. Goodness knows what I would be like if Gustave had been a girl. But she is certainly able to hold her own in a conversation and defend her opinions, especially her support for equal rights for women and other contemporary matters in which I have no interest. It's fun to see her becoming so passionate about something, though. Modern women baffle me, but I have a feeling I will enjoy our little discussions in the years ahead.
And she has seen my face! Not many people can say that Mister Y showed them his face of his own free will, or at least after some friendly persuasion from Gustave. And not only has she accepted me but she is still willing to come and live here. If ever I needed proof of her love for Gustave, there it is. Perhaps times are changing? Perhaps if I'd been born in another, later era… But enough of the past. I cannot waste time longing to undo what has already been done.
Best of all, she is a singer and music teacher! I cannot imagine our son marrying someone who wasn't musical. She already brings such a lovely harmony to our musical evenings and I am looking forward to hearing her voice more often. Now I'm sure I would welcome her into our little family regardless of her musical abilities but still, she is a soprano singer, like his mother was, and it is almost like she has guided the two of them together. But then again, I do believe that Christine has been watching over both of us for the last sixteen years. Goodness knows, she probably despaired for us many times after hearing yet another argument but I hope that she has also seen how much I love him.
And now I am going to admit what I should have admitted sixteen years ago. I was wrong. I was wrong to lure Christine here, with promises of money and fame, in order to lure her away from her husband. Gustave has helped me see that. I see so many things through his eyes now and can see my life for what it is: a life of hiding, deceit and terrible mistakes, for which others, including my Christine, have paid for mightily. Except my son; he could never be considered a mistake, regardless of the circumstances in which he was conceived. She was right to leave us together, to love and care for each other. All the wrong things I have done; is it possible that I can atone for them through Gustave? Or is that asking far, far too much of a deity I have always refused to acknowledge?
He is shifting a little more as he sleeps; I am surprised he is able to sleep considering how nervous he must feel about everything that lies ahead. I am afraid I cannot offer him much advice in the area of marriage or anything of that nature, considering my lack of experience in that area. Even raising the subject of his wedding night earlier this evening was embarrassing for me; yes the great Mister Y was embarrassed! I am sure he will be fine, just as millions of couples have been over the centuries. But he takes his forthcoming marriage vows so seriously that it shames me. How did I manage to raise a good Christian boy like him? He truly deserves to be happy with his new bride and I will do all I can to support them as we adapt to this new life together. I tuck the blanket under his chin before bending over to kiss his cheek. Thankfully he is no longer embarrassed when I am affectionate with him, but there is something special about kissing him goodnight while he sleeps.
Returning to my own room, I stand at the window and look out into the night. Wherever you are, my dear Christine, I hope you can forgive me for what I did to you when you were alive. Our lives go on and tomorrow I gain a daughter-in- law and, in time, grandchildren. I never thought such things were possible for me and I promise you I will love them, just as you would have done. No matter how happy we are tomorrow we will spare a moment to think of you and wish you were with us, as we have done for sixteen years. But we also know that you will be with us, in a way, and that you would be happy for Gustave.
Thank you, my precious Christine, for showing me that love truly never dies.