Impatiently, I waited in the Rue Scribe. My hands were sweaty, my heart was pounding and all I could think about were a million ways in which our plan could go wrong. What if Anne and Adrienne had not managed to distract the police force's attention? What if they had arrested my dear friends and were now interrogating them, trying to get them to confess their involvement with the Opera Ghost? What if they had already caught Erik?
I forced myself to calm down. I was getting carried away, something that would only get us in trouble were something actually to go wrong. Taking a look at the pocket watch I carried with me, I noticed it was only ten minutes to twelve. He still got plenty of time to get here, I told myself sternly. No need to get all worked up about it.
At that moment, a soft cough sounded from behind me.
Turning around, I found Erik leaning against the wall casually, as if he'd been there the whole time – which, if I think about it, he could have been, since he had this gift for sneaking around soundlessly.
'Good morning,' he greeted, pushing himself off the wall and coming to stand by my side. I noticed the single small bag that stood by his feet
I nodded in return, then put a hand through my hair. I looked at the pocket watch again, seven to twelve. 'Heavens, I am completely losing my mind. I wish the carriage would just arrive already, so we could get this whole thing over with. Then again, I don't want to lo.. Oh never mind it, I am talking nonsense.'
He looked as if he didn't know what to say, then just put a hand on my shoulder. 'It will all be fine, I am sure.'
'I know, it's just… Is it weird if I'd say that I'll miss you?'
Erik smiled 'Very, but then again I have learned to not expect anything different from you.'
Giving him a small, friendly push, I smiled back 'Oh shut up you, I am serious! You have no idea how much I enjoyed our nights at the hearth fire, our talks, even our arguments! They might have been little things to you, but to me they actually mean a lot.'
He furrowed his brows – or at least the one visible to me – and shook his head, the smile displaced from his lips. 'I can't believe how you'd think that, especially after the talk we had..'
'I thought that was just you trying to be a good friend.'
'No, that was me being..-'
I would never know what he had been trying to be, though, as the clock of a nearby church chimed the hour. Twelve. Staring at the corner that hid the Rue de Scribe from direct view, we both willed the carriage of the Viscount and Viscountess to appear.
Seconds, minutes ticked by, but there was still no sign of the noble couple. Growing impatient, I tiptoed to the corner, then carefully peaked my head around it.
As had been the plan, most of the police force was busy searching the horse stables for any sign of the Phantom. However, there were also three officers talking to some people in a carriage. The de Chagnys, I realized. This certainly wasn't part of the plan..
Biting my lip, I tried thinking up a way to get those police officers to leave the carriage alone. Surely they wouldn't listen to a silly ballerina and I doubted they would fall for another young girl fainting in front of the Opera building.
'I thought you arranged them to pick me up.'
'I did,' I said, grinding my teeth 'but they're being held up.'
'Then do something to stop them from being held up.'
Breathing in deeply, it took all my effort not to shout at him. 'I would do that if I had a plan. However, since I don't and you only seem to be planning on complaining, I will just have to keep thinking of one.' I didn't care how bold I sounded at that moment, I didn't care about anything really. All I wanted was to get Erik away, safe and sound.
'Get little Giry. I have a plan, but you can't do this on your own.'
Nodding only, I slipped around the back of the Opera house and ran until I reached the front doors again, quickly making my way inside and running all the way to the auditorium. Out of breathe, I fruitlessly tried to compose myself, then entered the back stage area. From my place between the ropes and props, I could already see the group of ballerinas practicing on the left side of the stage, leaving the right side empty for la Carlotta to parade on. Spotting Meg, I cautiously made my way over to the blonde, hoping not to catch the eye of the ballet mistress. To no avail, of course.
'Ah, mademoiselle Fournier, how good of you to join us. You can take a place beside mademoiselles Martin and Rousseau, who arrived mere minutes before you.'
'No, madame! I mean, eh.. I can't.. the police.. they sent me to get Meg. For questioning, you see. Asked me to escort her.'
For a good, long moment, the ballet mistress scrutinized me under her stern gaze, then nodded. 'Very well, I expect you to be back in ten minutes though, Angèlique.'
Nodding, I pulled Meg from the stage with me. Then, when we were out of sight for the dancers, I started running.
'Angèlique, hold on. Where are we going? Aren't we through with the plan?' Meg panted, trying to keep up with me.
'Complications,' I merely said, knowing that trying to explain everything would only cost us more time. Time that was now very valuable.
Rushing outside, into broad daylight, I quickly pulled Meg into the shadow and around the corner into the Rue Scribe.
Now we had come to a stop, Meg straightened out her ballet costume, then arched an eyebrow at the sight of Erik. 'Ah, so I see you are still here as well. How unfortunate.'
I rolled my eyes. Now was not the time for childish behaviour.
Erik – thankfully – ignored her words. 'I just looked around the corner and they are still questioning the fop. So now what you've got to do is..-'
For the second time that day, I would never hear what Erik actually wanted to say, for at that moment a voice – a terribly familiar voice – called his name. 'Erik?' She stepped closer to us, her arms crossed over her chest. 'Of course it was you who was keeping my ballerinas out of practice.'
'Maman please, it's…-'
'No Meg, I don't need your explanation. I know exactly what is going on here and although I do not approve of it..' She sighed 'am I proud of you, Meg. You helped a friend in need, even when that meant breaking the rules.' For a moment she stayed silent, then she added: 'Perhaps then you can now finally understand why I did what I did.'
'Antoinette, this really isn't the time for getting sentimental..'
'Oh be silent, Erik. I take it that you are trying to get the carriage of the Viscount here?'
Flabbergasted, we all stared at the older woman for a second. I was about to wonder whether I had not just misheard her, when she stuck her chin in the air.
'Well do you want my help or don't you?'
'Yes, Antoinette, but..-'
She held up a hand, something even Erik didn't dare to defy. 'Give me five minutes.'
As she disappeared around the corner, Meg and I shared a look of pure bewilderment. Who would have known that Antoinette Giry, the stern ballet mistress, would in the end the one to help us out?
'Well.. that was highly unexpected,' Erik said, sounding equally surprised.
'I don't like agreeing with you, Phantom, but for once, I think you are right.'
I smiled, just as a carriage rounded the corner, coming to a halt in front of us. When the window opened, I recognized the face of pretty of Christine, across from her sitting a handsome young man I did not know. The Viscount, I guessed.
'Thank you once again for coming to our aid, Viscount and Viscountess. There truly isn't a way in which I can repay you.'
Christine smiled at me, a genuine smile 'You've already done more than enough, believe me.'
Her husband, who had been staring at Erik with a look of contempt up until now, also smiled at me. 'You are welcome, mademoiselle.' Opening the carriage door, he went to grab Erik's bag, but he had only taken one step when the bag was thrust on the luggage rack on the back of the cart.
Turning around, Erik looked at us with a difficult expression. Then, as if it cost him great effort saying those words he said 'Thank you. For everything.'
He was about to turn around when I grabbed hold of his arm and flung myself around his neck. Holding on to him for dear life, I closed my eyes for a moment and simply reveled in the sensation. Realization hit me with full force that this might very well be the last time that I would ever see him and a lump formed itself in my throat.
Pulling away, I looked at his face, seeing he, too, looked affected by our farewell. 'Erik.. I should have said this sooner, but I lov..-'
He held up a finger to my lips. 'Don't, please..'
I only nodded, knowing that if I would say anything the tears, now only pooling in my eyes, would spill. I slowly let go of him, counter to what my heart was screaming, and took another step back.
He gave me a sad smile, then, after one last look, stepped into the carriage. As he took the seat by the window, I took in the last view I would ever have of him.
Then, as the carriage drove off, I knew my life would never be the same again without him. The Phantom. The Opera Ghost. Erik.
Alright, so this was the last real chapter of this story. I hope you all enjoyed it, even though it was kind of sad. Also, I want to appologize for taking so long to write this chapter. I was actually in the progress of taking out all the French parts in this entire story and correcting spelling/grammar mistakes. I wanted to finish this before writing this chapter, but then decided it would take to long, so I just wrote this first. The story is now completely updated, so I hope it will be a bit more readable for future readers (or current readers who decide to reread). For everyone who thinks this story is over, don't forget there will still be a epilogue so I suggest you stay tuned. Once again I want to do a shout out to all my readers and especially to CeruleanKiss, MorgaRoths, PhantomFan01, EvaAuthor and michellecarriveau for leaving me those sweet reviews. I love you all!