Continuing Tales

Love Will Still Remain

A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Sparks

Part 13 of 24

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My dearest Christine,

It feels very empty here without you and Gustave. It's strange; I did not have you for many days, and yet without you I am so very alone.

Perhaps it doesn't help that the season here on Coney Island is over. You can perhaps imagine how little I like the cacophony and frantic busyness of the summer season, when the whole of society seems to descend upon Phantasma. I have tended to leave as much as possible to Madame Giry, but there are always demands upon my time. I should not complain of it; I have worked hard to create this place, and admit to taking pride in how much I have accomplished in such a relatively short period of time. But I am relieved when the hordes depart. We do not close entirely over the winter, of course; there is a circus here, which has proved very popular over the winter months, and the variety show stays open. But it is quieter, and I have more time to think.

If I believed you were constantly in my thoughts before our reunion, I was mistaken. It seems now that you are in my every moment, waking and sleeping – you and our son. You have given me such a gift, Christine. I wonder if you even know how incredible it is to me that he is real. That perfect, beautiful boy is my son. It is more than I ever dared dream of. And you will both be coming back to me.

There is so much I wish to share with you. So many things of my life in the past ten years, and before then. There is much I would have told you before, had things been different. And there is also much I want to know of your life, and Gustave's. I know so little about him – except for his love of music, of course.

But there will be time. We will have so much time, together.

Do you remember when you first came to the Opera Populaire? You were so young then, young and alone. I knew at once that you were different, special. I had been alone as well, for so many years. Madame Giry knew I was there, of course, she took my messages to the managers, occasionally acquired things for me if I could not do so myself. I had lived in the house across the lake for five years when you arrived. You were nine years old, and I more than a decade older. You used to cry yourself to sleep at night, until I began to sing to you.

Gustave reminds me of you. He has your smile, and your curiosity. When he is pleased, he lights up the room just as you do. And the music he makes…Christine, how can I explain this to you? You understand a little, I know, but for me music is something different. Essential. I had never found anyone like me before, who hears and feels the music as I do. But Gustave is like me. He sees the world as I do.

I have enclosed a letter for him. I wasn't sure at first whether he would want a letter from me, but then at our parting he was so distraught that I thought perhaps a correspondence would help. It will give us an opportunity to get to know each other a little better, at least. But please assure him he should feel no obligation to write back to me.

It occurs to me that I do not know his birthday. I can guess the approximate date, of course – I know it falls in late April or early May. Another of the many things I must learn.

The sun is rising. I can see it from where I am seated, at my desk in the workroom. I have spent the greater part of the night playing music and writing this letter. I find sleep difficult to find at the moment, and music comforts me during your absence. It has only been a few days – you will have landed in France, but only just. We will bear the six months, but it is lonely without you.

From things you said (or perhaps the things you avoided saying), I suspect your first days and weeks in France will not be painless. You spoke of Charles de Chagny with distaste, and if he is anything like nobles I have encountered in the past, he will not be an easy man to deal with. I hope you and Gustave emerge from it unscathed. I know it will not be easy. Remember that I love you, and that you have always been stronger than you think you are.

I will conclude this letter now, so it may go in the post today and leave New York tomorrow. It should take no longer than two weeks to reach you, I think.

Yours, always, Erik.

Dear Gustave,

I have started this letter to you, and now find myself at a loss for words. Not because I do not love you (you must not ever doubt that, Gustave), but because I know you so little still. And of course you hardly know me.

Perhaps that is a place to start: I can tell you of myself, at least a little. There is much that I have never shared with anyone, things that are not suitable for a boy, and also things that I should like to talk about with your mother before anyone else. But there are things I can tell you, and perhaps you will write back and tell me things about yourself.

You know the most important things about me: that I love your mother dearly, and that I love music. But you know I am understating it. I need music, it is an essential part of me – as it is of you, I suspect. I know you see the world the way I do, and you hear music in your head as I do.

It is a great gift, Gustave, but it can be difficult. If you are like me, there will be times you want to do nothing but play or compose. Other demands on your time become distractions. I cannot say I have always taken care of myself. When I was living beneath the Opera Populaire, alone, I had nobody to care for me (as you have your mother to care for you), and so sometimes I went several days without eating or sleeping.

Perhaps I should not have said that. Your mother might think I am encouraging you, but that isn't my intention. I merely wanted to explain that I understand the music in your head.

I feel I could spend this letter purely asking questions of you: do you go to school or have a tutor? What are your favourite books or hobbies? Do you have many friends, will you be sad to leave them?

I wonder if you would do something for me. I have no photograph of you. Would it be too much to ask you to send me one? I have pictures and photographs of your mother, but none of you. It would mean a great deal to me.

I hope you are remembering your promise to take care of your mother, and that you are being good for her. I hope, too, that you are enjoying your manuscript book. I am greatly looking forward to hearing your compositions, when you return.

Your loving father,


My Erik,

I finally have a moment to stop, breathe, and sit down at last to write to you. The past few days since we arrived back have been so full and busy, and all my spare moments have been taken up with Gustave, who has been dejected and gloomy since we returned.

But we are both well; I assure you of that first. Our voyage was uneventful, and we arrived at the estate late on Monday evening. Gustave was quite exhausted, as was I, but we have both recovered well.

It feels strange to be here again, after so much has changed. It was barely a month ago that we left, and now we are back. Raoul is dead, and soon we will leave this place forever. I wish the clock would speed up, but even so I am grateful for this time. I must say goodbye to the life I have lived for ten years, and to all my memories (both of here and of Paris). I look forward eagerly to creating new ones with you, but nevertheless, I think I need some time to say goodbye.

I have already settled many of the debts that Raoul left. The estate is heavily mortgaged, which I had not realised, but it is making things easier, if anything. I had worried about how Heléne and Charles would take it, but there can be no arguments now, no attempts to dissuade me. The estate would have to be sold even if we weren't coming back to you. No matter what Charles de Chagny thinks of me, he cannot dispute the facts.

I have begun the arduous task of sorting through the house, deciding which things must be sold, which must be stored and which we will want to bring with us. I have told Charles that anything he considers essential to his family's history must, of course, go to him, and Heléne will take a few things also. The estate's agent is preparing to set in motion the auction. I plan for us to move to Paris very quickly. I don't think either of us want to be here for long. In Paris there are more distractions – I can take Gustave to museums and galleries, and the theatre. Here in the country there is very little to take away from Raoul's absence.

And yours. Oh Erik, I don't think I can express how I miss you. And I'm not sure I should try; the attempt might just make it worse for both of us. Gustave misses you keenly also, he speaks of you whenever we are alone together. And more and more he turns to music for solace. He spends hours at the piano, and no longer seems bored by the basic practicing his teacher insists on.

He turns to music: meanwhile I keep my mind occupied with all the things that must be done. We both distract ourselves in different ways.

There are practical things I should have asked you before we came away, but we were both too caught up in our happiness. And perhaps they have only occurred to me now I am back to the life that has been mine for ten years. Your rooms at the top of the hotel are lovely, and suit you very well, but you will admit they are not appropriate for a family. And it had been planned that Gustave would go away to school when he turns eleven. It was not my wish, but all the de Chagny men have gone to the same school, and I could not oppose Raoul in it. I do not wish to be parted from him (nor, I think, will you), but he must be educated.

He, of course, wants little more than to play his music. He is so very like you at times, Erik. I have had to conceal it from everyone for so long I had almost allowed myself to ignore it, but he is so much your son.

You, of course, will say he is more like me in everything but his music. But he is like you in other ways (not least of which – you will allow me to say it? – is your shared temper). And the line of his jaw, his eyes, they are yours.

My nights are lonely now. Raoul and I had not often shared a bed regularly in the last few years, but it is not his presence I yearn for. I miss you beside me, even after only one night. I wake in the morning with your name on my lips, I reach for you during the nights. My dreams are full of you, and it fills me with as much joy as sadness. No matter how badly I miss you now (and I missed you before – please don't doubt that I missed you before), I know that we will be reunited and then I will be with you always.

I look at my ring often, kept safe in my jewellery box; when I return to you, I will come as your bride.

And now the hour grows late, and I must retire to bed. Tomorrow Gustave's tutor returns, and he could not be more unhappy at the prospect of resuming lessons!

With all my love,

Your Christine.

P.S. If, as I suspect, you have written to me, your letter will no doubt cross paths mid-Atlantic with this one. I await its arrival eagerly.

Dear Erik,

I promised I would write to you, so I am. Mother says I must write a proper letter and not scribble, but I have ink all over my fingers so I'm sorry if this smudges.

I have been playing lots of music, but Mother makes me go and play outside as well. She says it's going to be too cold soon. I like going down to the stream and fishing, so I don't mind very much, but when I'm playing the piano I don't think so much.

Lessons start again tomorrow. My tutor is quite nice, but rather strict. Mother says you're very clever, so I must do my best. I think it's going to be easier to try hard for you than it was for Father. I like some things, like mathematics, but I don't like history very much. There are so many dates to remember. And it's lonely by myself. I don't mind all the time, and anyway Mother says I'll be going to school when we come back to New York to live with you. My English is quite good but my tutor's going to give me extra English lessons so I won't struggle in school.

Mother says it isn't very long until we come back but it feels like forever. There's months before Christmas and then we won't be leaving until the end of February. And everything's strange here. Uncle Charles is angry, and Aunt Heléne keeps watching me and Mother's so sad. I hate that most of all. I wish she could be happy again.

I've got ink all over the paper, and now Mother's calling for the letter so she can post them, so I don't have time to write it out neatly. You don't mind, do you?


Love Will Still Remain

A Phantom of the Opera Story
by Sparks

Part 13 of 24

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