Erik was in awe. Never in his wildest dreams had he expected to ever have a child of his own. Having a wife already exceeded all his expectations, but the baby that his Christine had given him was the greatest miracle in his opinion. He could spend hours sitting there and watching his daughter sleep.
Christine's feelings towards her little Angel were similar. She had always wanted children, but after never having gotten pregnant in three years of marriage to Raoul, she had given up hope of this ever happening. Therefore little Eliza Marguerite was to her not just the crowning of her love for Erik, but the most special gift her husband had given her.
The young parents were not the only ones doting on the newest arrival of the family, though. Mme. Giry was a proud grandmother and Meg a loving aunt. Nadir and Darius adored the little one as well, and almost behaved like fathers around her. Erik and Christine had to promise them that their daughter would address them as "uncle Nadir" and "uncle Darius" respectively, once she would be old enough to speak.
The Toddlinghams, whose first grandson arrived within weeks of little Eliza's birth, had their own little bundle of joy to adore, but they had developed a certain kinship with Erik and Christine and therefore were incredibly happy about their friends' little daughter as well. Lord Castleborough also offered himself as an uncle for "the little Lavoisier girl", as he used to call Eliza Marguerite.
The following September Christine returned to the stage. She usually took her infant with her to rehearsals, and Mme. Giry accompanied her. The cute baby was soon the favorite of the whole ensemble.
About two months after her daughter's first birthday, Christine knew that she was pregnant again, and the following spring she gave birth to a healthy boy. Charles Gustave was almost an exact replica of his father, except that his face was perfectly normal, and his eyes reminded his mother more of those of her own, dear papa. He was therefore named after his two grandfathers, since he combined the best of both families.
Another year went by. Meg was preparing her wedding to a young musician who played in the Opera's orchestra and Christine had once again returned to the stage. Once Charles Gustave was old enough that she did not breastfeed him anymore, she stopped taking the children with her to rehearsals. Eliza Marguerite was three years old by now and found it boring to sit in the theater and watch her mother sing and her little brother at 15 months was not easily kept quiet either.
Mme. Giry therefore used to take the children for a walk while Christine was at the rehearsals, to give Erik time to work on his designs. He was getting more and more popular with each satisfied customer and both, Lord Castleborough and Sir Toddlingham, recommended his services to their friends.
It was a beautiful, sunny spring day. Mme. Giry had taken her two grandchildren to a nearby park, where the two little ones played with other children, most of which they already knew. Today, there was a little boy, though, that Mme. Giry had not seen before. He might have been about two years of age, but he looked sickly, very weak for his age. He was incredibly thin and pale, and every movement seemed to cause him pain.
Mme. Giry's heart went out to the poor little boy and to his parents. How sad it must be to see one's child suffer like that! The boy seemed to be with a nurse, though. Mme. Giry could not detect any sign of the poor child's mother and she began to wonder if the sickly child was maybe as much of a burden to his parents as Erik once had been, when she heard a familiar voice chastise the nurse.
"Nancy, what have I told you?" an elegantly clad man raged at the nurse. "Armand is not to run around with other children. He can catch all sorts of illnesses from those commoner brats." He turned around to fetch the thin boy when his eyes met those of Mme. Giry.
Once the man had started screaming at his son's nurse, all the children had been scared and had taken refuge with their respective parents. Eliza Marguerite and Charles Gustave were therefore clinging to Mme. Giry now, tears in their eyes, begging their grandmother to protect them against that furious stranger.
Raoul de Chagny stared at the former ballet mistress, then at the two beautiful, healthy children, that were so much stronger and more robust than his pitiful little heir. "Mme. Giry," he acknowledged her. "I was not aware that Miss Meg is married…."
Mme. Giry shook her head. "Oh no, Monsieur le Vicomte," she explained. "These are not Meg's children, they are Christine's. My adopted daughter is now married to the famous architect Lavoisier, and strangely enough, with him she never had problems to conceive." She grabbed the hands of her two grandchildren, then looked at the Vicomte's weakling of a son. "It seems it was not her fault after all that she could not give you an heir," she said pointedly, then added, "good day, Monsieur le Vicomte," and walked away.
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