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The Nightmare: Chapter 10 (denouement)

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It was late. All of the people had gone to the police station, but Alexandrov and Natasha went away to be alone in another room there.
"I'm so sorry," she sobbed in his arms. "How can you ever forgive me?"
"Natasha, it wasn't all your fault. It was mine too."
"But what you've ever done was hardly worse than what I have done! I'm so ashamed! I'm so sorry!"
"Natasha, I forgive you. But I must ask for your forgiveness too."
She looked up.
"I'm sorry for how I've treated you. I did neglect you. And I knew it too, only I kept putting it off to talk to you. I don't like it when I have all this work. Really, I'm truly sorry, and I promise to be different in the future. Will you forgive me."
There was a pause. "Yes... I do. Thank you for everything."
There was a longer pause. Each had their own thoughts.
The clock struck 11.
"Hey, didn't you know our anniversary was today?"
Natasha's eyes got wide. "Today? I thought it was yesterday!"
Alexandrov laughed. "That's what you say every year! It's April 8 don't you remember? Not April 7!"
"Oh, this makes me feel all the worse! I ran away because I thought you forgot yesterday," she began to cry again.
But Alexandrov calmed her down and wiped away her tears. "I never forgot. I had plans for today... But the day isn't finished! We have one more hour! Come on! Let me take you out!"
So they did have their splendid anniversary dinner, and Alexandrov gave her the earrings he planned before.
"Thank you so much!" she cried. "How can I ever give back what this is worth?" she went pale. "Wait. I don't have my wedding ring! Where is it??" She looked around in fear.
"You must have taken it off and lost it."
"Yes. I did." She dropped her head in remorse.
"But I have something better."
Alexandrov gave her a box that held a new ring, one with a beautiful diamond to match the earrings. It was even more beautiful than the other older one.
"May our marriage begin anew," he said, and picked up his glass of wine. "A toast to love!"
"To love!"
The clock struck midnight.

The next day, all the answers were solved.
Sergei had gone through extreme interrogation, and they had finally figured out from some tests that he was indeed mentally insane. He had an extreme case of Borderline Personality Disorder. The authorities had inspected his house, and had found how he had created his poison, using a combination of opiate, anaesthetic and a new chemical they couldn't recognize that likely came from the Far East (the nightmare inducing chemical). The rings were Sergei's own creation, and they were affected by temperature, but also had a little mechanism that could change its image if it was shook. It was quite disturbing to see that he had a dozen more yet to give away.
Sergei was sentenced to life in prison with no bail or probation. He would have gotten the death penalty, but because his defense lawyer pleaded insanity (Sergei personally never would), the sentence was lighter. His behavior would be carefully followed by scientists and doctors and would be sent to an asylum if they found him to deteriorate. Natasha and Alexandrov would never have to fear him again.

Alexandrov decided to leave his position and take on a new, less stressful career as a mystery writer. He remembered that he was always good at literature and writing when he was in school and college, and thought that being a creator of mysteries would be just as interesting as solving them. He turned out to be a genius at it and became famous instantly after his first novel: the Nightmare.
Natasha and Alexandrov did live happily ever after, just like Natasha's favorite Gothic novels. But only the good ones, like this one.

The End.