Victor and Emily return to the Land of the Living, but now what?
The whirlwind died abruptly, but things remained dark. As Victor's eyes adjusted to the darkness he could see that they were standing in the moonlight at the exact place they had first met years before - at Emily's grave.
"I feel cold," Emily complained.
Victor looked down at her. "Au contraire, my dear," he said. "You feel more than warm enough to me." He pulled off his cloak and wrapped it around her, and then he took her in his arms again.
Tenderly, he lifted her chin and studied her face in the moonlight. No longer was she the grave-worn corpse that she had been moments before - she was beautiful now. Her large doe-like eyes were luminous, shining brightly above a small upturned nose and her long, dark, thick hair fell in waves down past her shoulders.
Emily still wore the wedding dress, but now it had been transformed into something new and fresh - nothing at all like the tattered rag it had been before.
She looked up at him, the question forming in her eyes.
He smiled back at her. "Darling," he murmured, "You are the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen." Then Victor gently lowered his face to hers and he kissed her - and then he kissed her again.
It took Emily an eternity of moments to catch her breath. Shyly, she took his hand and held it against her breast.
"Yes," he said, "I can feel your heartbeat now." He picked up her left hand and showed it to her. What had been only dry bone before was now covered with fresh dewy skin and he raised the hand to his lips and kissed it.
Her breathing grew heavy, and then it grew ragged, as she started to sob. Victor pulled her tightly to him and he held her as she cried, keeping her close for a long, long time. He held her, soothing her until there were no more tears left for her to shed.
After a long while she found her voice again, and she spoke. "Oh, Victor, I love you, but... "
"But?" he asked.
"Your life... You're giving up half your life for me. For me." Fresh tears welled up in her eyes.
"Emily," he said quietly. "I would rather have half a life with you than two lives with anybody else..."
And then Emily ... newly alive and reborn again ... found that she had still more tears left, after all.
"Come with me, my darling," Victor whispered. "Let me take you home..."
"There he is," Victor said quietly to her the next morning. Walter was in his customary place, staring out at the sea.
Without a word, Victor motioned to Emily to remain behind the little hut, and then he walked around to the front.
"Good morning, Walter," Victor said quietly.
It took a few seconds for the Captain to pull himself away from his thoughts. The old man slowly turned his head to look at Victor and, after a few more seconds, a look of recognition dawned in his eyes.
"Hello, Victor," he mumbled.
"How are you today?" Victor asked his friend.
"Fine," Walter answered, after a while. "I feel fine today."
"Good," Victor said to him, a smile growing across his face. "In that case, there's somebody here that I'd like you to meet..."
"Who's that?" Walter asked listlessly.
Victor smiled back towards Emily. "My fiancÃ©e - if we can have your permission..." He motioned for her to come around.
Walter looked at Victor. "What are you talking about? Why would you need my..." And then he saw his daughter.
His face turned white and he gasped for breath. He clawed at his throat for air and felt at it for a pulse. "Am I dead, boy?" Walter croaked.
"No," Victor grinned. "And neither is she."
"Hello, Daddy," Emily smiled, and then she rushed forward to embrace her father.
"Oh, my girl! Oh, my darling girl!" Walter cried as their hands met and they embraced. "How could ... how could ... oh! ... I missed you!"
There was not much more to be said as they held each other and wept. Looking on, Victor could not hold back his tears either and he cried, too.
Eventually, father and daughter noticed that Victor was there. "I'll go wait for you in the cottage," he told them, and then he turned and walked to the old man's cottage to give them some time alone.
When he got there, the living room cot looked inviting and he was tired, so he stretched out upon it and closed his eyes.
Someone kissed him on the lips and he woke up. When he opened his eyes Emily was leaning over him grinning. "Wake up, silly! It's lunch time."
They took their places at the table and, after the Captain said the blessing they tucked into their meal.
"Mmmm," Emily murmured, "I'd forgotten how good ham and eggs tasted."
"Not the usual lunch menu, but somebody was craving ham and eggs." Walter smiled at Emily. "And there's a lot more where that came from, my dear."
Emily mumbled happily through a full mouth. The Captain grinned and turned to Victor. "So you want to marry my daughter, do you? And you feel that you need my permission for that?"
"It would mean a lot to the both of us," Victor said.
"Man brings my girl back from the dead - a man that I've come to know and respect. One that loves her ..."
"I'll take that as a 'yes', then?" Victor deadpanned.
"If you don't, I'll disown you both. Of course you have my blessing - and congratulations!"
Then Walter's grin faded. "Have you thought about how you're going to work this thing out?"
"What do you mean?"
"First off," Walter counted on a finger. "How are you going to explain her? You were there, and I believe you, of course, but ..."
"What would you suggest?" Emily asked.
The Captain looked at his daughter. "Let's come up with a story that people will believe. For example ... who's to say that I might not have a niece - one also named Emily - who just happens to bear an amazing coincidental resemblance to her dear, departed namesake?"
"I don't know about that," said Emily.
"Sounds a bit devious to me," added Victor.
A grim expression passed across the Captain's face. "How would you like to treated like a monster for the rest of your life?" he asked his daughter. "A zombie or some kind of ghoul? And, if not you - then how about your children? If you've got a better idea... "
She didn't. Neither did Victor, so - reluctantly - they nodded in agreement.
"We'll have to find somebody to do the wedding ceremony," commented Victor, changing the subject. "I don't know what Pastor Galswells is going to say about that, but..."
"Well, I can guess," said Walter. "Unless he's changed over the last twenty years?"
Victor laughed and shook his head.
"I was thinking about an alternative plan," the Captain said. "But he is an important member of the community, so we should give him first chance."
"I don't know," mumbled Victor.
"Let me talk to him," Walter said. "Maybe I can persuade him to be reasonable." He pushed his plate back and stood up. "Well, I'd best do a bit of straightening up."
"I could do that," Victor piped up. "Then you could have a chance to visit some more with Emily."
"Thanks," replied Walter. Then he turned to his daughter. "But - if you don't mind, my dear - what I ought to do is to lie down for a bit. It's been a long morning ... and then we can go out for a walk later if you like."
"Okay," she answered brightly. Then the Captain nodded his thanks to Victor and he shuffled off to his cot.
"This is nice," Emily commented to Victor later as they worked on the lunch dishes together. "I really like this."
"Me, too." He nodded in the direction of her sleeping father. "And I've never seen a man happier."
"You were right back there," she sighed. "He was so hard on himself all these years. I'm glad that I had the chance to talk to him, and to set him straight."
"It's what he wanted the most," Victor commented. "To talk to you and tell you what was on his heart."
"He did," she smiled. "He most certainly did that."
They worked in comfortable silence for awhile, and then a questioning look came across Victor's face.
"What is it, Darling?" Emily asked.
"Nothing, really," Victor replied. "I was just wondering..."
"Wondering what, dear?"
"It's quite silly, really," Victor said. "I was just wondering why Victoria showed up when she did - and with Scraps. She was the last one I would have expected to see."
"Oh, I can tell you that," Emily replied.
"Do you remember the little chat I had with her at the end?" Emily asked.
"I asked her that very question myself," she said
"And it turned out that she had left shortly after Elder Gutknecht sent Scraps out. When she met him coming back, she had him come along to show her the way."
"She must have followed the same detour we did," Victor mused.
Emily shook her head. "She circled around us while we were looking for my arm and fingers, and then she chased him all the way there. And when we showed up, she made her move."
"Lucky for us," Victor said. "I wish I'd thought of thanking her for that."
"Don't worry, I did," Emily replied. "And, believe me, she was more than happy to do it ..."
Victor nodded. "I'll bet."
The sounds of stirring came from the cot. "Uh-oh. It sounds like Daddy's getting up," Emily commented. "I'd better give you this before we go..."
She leaned over and gave him a long and very, very friendly kiss.
"Oh my," he said.
"Pardon my enthusiasm," she giggled.
He took a deep wavering breath, and then he answered.
"I like your enthusiasm."
"Ah, Mister Van Dort, you are a surprising man," rumbled old Pastor Galswells during their interview two days later, "but congratulations."
"So Captain Barrett has explained everything to you?" Victor asked.
The Pastor nodded and gave Emily a strange look. She smiled back nervously. "He has. And Miss Barrett will be welcome to worship again with us, as soon as we ..."
The Captain cut him off. "If you could excuse us for a few minutes, Pastor Galswells, I need to have a quick word alone with my family."
"Hmmph!" the Pastor snorted. "If you must ..."
"Thank you," Walter said, and then he ushered the other two outside.
"That went surprisingly well," Victor commented. Emily nodded in bemused agreement.
The Captain sighed and thrust his hands in his pockets. "I haven't had the chance yet to tell you about his conditions."
"Conditions ... what conditions?" Victor asked, a note of suspicion creeping into his voice.
"Well," answered Walter, "he wants to consecrate the amulet." Then he turned to his daughter. "And he wants to re-baptize you - with holy water."
"Now, wait just a minute," Victor sputtered, "he can't ..."
"Victor." Emily said softly and he stopped. She touched his arm and smiled at him. "It's worth it to me ... I'll do it."
"You can't believe that that mumbo-jumbo of his could possibly make any difference?" Victor objected. "There's nothing wrong with you - nor with the Stone."
"What matters is whether or not he believes it," she said. "If that's all it will take to get him to do our wedding and to let me worship there, I'll do it. And the sooner the better..."
"I don't know... "Victor still wasn't convinced.
"Try to look at it from his point of view," Walter said. "He genuinely believes that the amulet is cursed. And God only knows what he must think of Emily..."
"He knows?" interjected Victor.
"Of course he does. But he's sworn to secrecy no matter what."
"How soon can he do these ceremonies of his?" Emily asked.
"He's prepared to do them now," her father replied.
"Let's do it now, then" she said, and she walked back into the church, followed by the two men. An hour later, they were on their way home.
"I think that he was surprised that nothing happened when he sprinkled the water over you and the amulet," Victor commented.
"He was surprised, you know," answered Walter. "You wouldn't believe how hard I had to work to bring him around."
"How did you finally convince him?" Emily asked.
The Captain grinned. "It seems that the church is badly in need of repairs. And I just happen to have a little extra money handy. So, we had ourselves a chat..."
"You're a horrible man, Daddy," Emily laughed.
"Yup - the very worst," he agreed and they all laughed.
Three days later, they gathered in the church, along with his parents and a few close friends.
"Do you know your vows this time, Mr. Van Dort?" the Pastor rumbled.
Victor's father mumbled something nervously. "Shut up!" his mother hissed.
"Yes, I do," Victor said clearly.
"Good - then let's get started, shall we?"
The Pastor nodded to Emily and she held up a lit candle. "With this candle, I will light your way in darkness."
He leaned over her. "I see that we've learned our lesson about trusting this man with a candle," he stage-whispered to Emily. Then he did something never before seen by anyone from the village:
Then he motioned to Victor, who held up his hand and continued, "With this hand, I will lift your sorrows."
Emily smiled and answered. "You will never have to fear the frost, for I will shelter you from the cold." The Pastor shook his head and mumbled something. She smiled again.
"You will never be left behind, for I shall carry you," Victor said.
"And with my sword and with my body, I will defend you," Emily said. The Pastor raised his bushy eyebrows.
"With this ring ... and with this stone, I ask you to be mine," Victor concluded. He placed the ring on her finger and the amulet around her neck.
"If there is anyone here who objects to this marriage, let him speak now or FOREVER hold his peace!" the Pastor thundered. The thin glass windows rattled for a half-second further, and then the church was quiet again. The Pastor paused for another few seconds, and then he finished the ceremony.
"... I PRONOUNCE you MAN and WIFE!"