Most of what we know about the romance between Heloise and Peter Abelard comes from a letter that Abelard wrote to a 'friend' called Historia Calamitatum, or the History of my Troubles. It was probably written to be circulated as letters often were copied and circulated around. Letter writing was a serious business in the Middle Ages. One copy was given to Heloise and this is when she wrote to him.
One gets the impression at first that when she took the veil, she did not hear anything from him or see him for 10 years when this letter was handed to her but this is not correct. He gave her and her nuns the building and lands of Le Paraclet, when the Bishop Suger took the Abbey of St. Denis and threw the nuns out. But I am getting ahead of myself.
We don't know who Heloise's parents were or why she was being raised by her uncle Fulbert. He was the canon of Notre Dame in Paris and had a house near the cathedral. Heloise spent some of her early years being educated at a convent in Argenteuil, after which she came to Paris to be further educated by her uncle and what ever tutors he could find for her. She became famous as a scholar and by this came to the attention of Abelard. Peter was looking for lodgings and so Fulbert invited him to live at his house in exchange for him tutoring his niece. A passionate affair began between the student and her teacher.
Fulbert caught them in the act one day and tossed Abelard out of his house but by then Heloise was pregnant. Abelard snuck her out of Paris and brought her to his family home in Le Pallet and went back to Paris to resume teaching. Fulbert of course was angry and wanted Abelard to marry Heloise but that would have meant giving up teaching. At the cathedral schools, the teachers were not in 'orders' but they had to behave as though they were, i.e. live chastely, never marry. It would have been the end of Abelard's career. Heloise refused to marry him until he convinced her that they could marry to satisfy Fulbert but keep it a secret. Heloise had some serious misgivings about this but allowed herself to be guided by Abelard. They returned to Paris together, leaving their new born son Astralabe with his sister.
Fulbert, as would be natural, told people that Heloise was married. Heloise denied it and Fulbert got angry with her and treated her roughly so that she appealed to Peter for help again. Abelard took her to a convent outside of Paris for safety. To Fulbert, this looked like he was setting his wife aside and resolved to avenge his family honour. He hired some men to assist him and broke into Abelard's apartment and cut off the parts that had offended. Most likely, he was simply castrated. Paris was rocked by the scandal. Fulbert was banished. Abelard, ashamed, resolved to become a monk and asked Heloise to take the veil. She felt no calling to be a nun but because he asked her to she did. In spite of the pleas of friends and quoting some lines from the Pharsalia by Pompey's wife about having caused the death of Pompey, she took up the veil. And they parted. It all happened very quickly before anyone had a chance to think about what they were doing.
But they did see each other. They both were in separate buildings of the Abbey of St. Denis and could have had opportunities to see each other. They certainly saw each other when Abelard set Heloise up at Le Paraclete because, as their patron, he had to visit occasionally. Then the letter came and all the emotions that Heloise kept bottled up came flooding out in these letters to him. It is likely that she kept a copy of all their correspondance and that the letters come from the archives of Le Paraclete.
Abelard went on teaching and faced two charges of heresy. It was Heloise who asked Peter the Venerable to give him absolution and when Abelard died, Peter sent his body to her saying that he belonged to her more than anybody. She lived for another 20 years after he died and then she was laid to rest in the tomb with him. Their bones were moved a few times and whatever remains are left are in Pere-Lachaise cemetary in Paris.