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I. The Show Must Go On

The doublet was still too loose on her, in spite of the padding.  There was no time to fix it; she'd just have to hope no one noticed.  The trousers were a bit easier to fix with the excess length disappearing down into the boots.  She'd hastily stuffed paper towels into the boots to take up the excess space, and to serve as a set of makeshift lifts to make her just a bit taller.  She was still far too short, but with luck her position would hide that.  The wig was next…she realized her hands were shaking as she raised it to her head.  Soft hair framed her face again for the first time in months.  Not honey-colored waves this time, but a midnight curtain – one whose scent brought memories of him that nearly drowned her.

No time for that. Minutes were slipping by, and she had to hurry.  No time to even properly appreciate what she was doing as she reached for the mask and settled it over her features.  She'd had to make adjustments to it that she desperately prayed would hold.  Her still-unsteady fingers fumbled with the clasp, and Guy Fawkes' visage was pulled securely over her face.  

Reflexively she looked up to check her reflection in the mirror, and froze. Evey Hammond no longer stared back at her;  it was V.  Or nearly so… her own hands still peeked from the doublet's sleeves, hovering near her head where they'd released the mask's fastenings.  The resulting image of such an uncertain V with head tilted and  hair slightly mussed would have been amusing under different circumstances.  As it was, it only served to remind her how much she had yet to do.  She grabbed a comb, straightening the wig where the straps of the mask had tangled it.  As well as she could, she checked the sides and back of her head in the mirrors to make sure she hadn't missed anything important.  

Adrenalin was pouring into her system, making her heart hammer beneath the bulletproof vest.  Had he felt like this, she wondered?  He'd had years to get used to this; she only had now.  

She reached for her gloves – the ones she'd be wearing beneath his gauntlets to make them fit better.  Just in time, though, she remembered that she still needed the cape; it would have been impossible to fasten if she'd put the gauntlets on.  Impatiently she grabbed it, throwing it around her shoulders and fumbling it closed about her neck.   She'd nearly wept when she'd cut nearly a foot off the length of it, but she'd never have been able to walk with it otherwise.  Now the gauntlets went on, and then the hat.  She felt absurdly like a child playing dress-up in her too-large clothes with their ham-handed alterations.  More than anything, she wanted the true owner of these clothes to be in them - not her.

No time, she reminded herself, no time!  People were dying, and this had to work.  Swallowing the tears that threatened, she gave her reflection one last look and strode out into the Gallery.

"Inspector," she said, startling both herself and Finch as V's voice emerged from behind the mask.  

"Jesus," Finch breathed, recovering.  "I guess that thing works then, doesn't it?"

"Let's just hope it keeps working," Evey said in her new-yet-painfully-familiar voice.  "We have to go."

As quickly as they could, the pair made for the tunnels.

* * *

II. Stage fright

The rooftop had been chosen for its visibility from the ground, as well as its security from it.  Near the roof's entrance, the inspector stood unobtrusive guard against anyone happening upon Evey's perch. A televised appearance would not be enough this time; this had to be real.  That irony was not lost on Evey as she braced herself to make "V"'s appearance.  

She and Finch had prepared as much as they could in the Gallery, overriding the city's loudspeakers to their control (the ease of which Finch especially found disconcerting) and assembling the wireless feed that would allow Evey to use them from her position.  V had been extremely thorough in readying Evey's "inheritance", they discovered.  He had left clear instructions for all of his equipment.

Now it was up to her to make this work, and hopefully put an end to the chaos that was erupting around them.  The gathering at Parliament had been peaceful enough, but once the music had died and the flares dimmed, the euphoria of the people had begun to darken. The unspoken truce between the public and the army became more and more brittle as the hours passed. Whispers began, of Sutler's disappearance, and Creedy's.  By dawn the bodies were discovered, and the whispers blossomed into a full-throated roar.  Celebrations began mutating into riots, and even the best-intentioned members of the police and military found themselves turning on members of the public.

Evey and the inspector had seen and heard everything from the safety of the Shadow Gallery's monitors.  While desperately searching the Gallery for something, anything that could help, Evey had found this unexpected element of V's legacy to her. One that simultaneously shocked, infuriated, and  yet made perfect sense to her.  The enormity of what he'd done, the audacity and sheer arrogance!…he'd had such faith in her, and she'd never known until the very end.

Now she stood on this rooftop, fighting vertigo as she looked down on the crowds swirling below.  Her heart was pounding again, but it wasn't the physical danger of the building's height or the gusts of wind that threatened her balance.  She didn't even fear an attack from the crowd, despite the fact that she'd be presenting an ideal target.  The true source of her fear lay in the realization that the smallest crack in the veneer she would be presenting could completely and irreparably shatter the image V had created, forever.  One stutter on her part…one inelegant step…the merest hesitation, and it would all be undone.  She had always thought of V in terms of strength, even invincibility.  But now, standing alone in the cold wind above the countless people below, shifting in the unfamiliar clothing, she understood.  V had been strong, there was no denying it – but it was because in truth, the persona he'd created was ultimately so very fragile.  

This, then, was what it meant to become an Idea.  

The weight of this epiphany threatened to buckle her knees… God, could she do this?  She held not only her own life in her hands, but those of others – of innocents.  She was about to take up a power that could change entire lifetimes and shift the course of history.

She came perilously close to faltering.  Gasping, she stepped back, gripping a rail for support.  She felt suddenly very small and weak in the huge roaring world around her.   Her throat started to constrict and she struggled to control her breathing,.  Her gaze flickered downward as she fought with herself…and that was when she saw it.  

A young child at a window, too far away for her to discern a gender, looking down at the turmoil in the streets below.  Large, fearful eyes flitted back and forth, and little hands clutched a stuffed animal close.  Terror radiated across the distance between them, and Evey's heart clenched as she recognized the shadow of her own past.  

She couldn't fail.  She had to succeed.

Gathering her strength, she turned to take her position at the edge of the rooftop.  

* * *

III.  Improvisation

At Evey's signal to Finch, the familiar tones of Big Ben striking midnight rang out across the city through the loudspeakers.  It was a sound that had been so ingrained in people's minds that it took several seconds for the sound to filter through the fighting and make them remember Big Ben had been destroyed in Codename V's grand gesture of the Fifth.

Evey watched the effect of the recording gradually ripple across the melee, causing movement to stutter and eventually stop completely.  One by one, people in the street stopped to look in confusion at the loudspeakers, their battles forgotten.  A few windows opened, and a handful of brave souls peeked from their doorways in curiosity.  

Stepping as close as she dared to the edge of the roof, Evey stood and willed the people to see her as they began looking up at the loudspeakers broadcasting the sound.  The wind whipped her cloak briefly, catching the eyes of the crowds.  She could feel them starting to see her, and there began a subtle shift in energy as more and more faces were turned in her direction.

What to say?  She'd tried to prepare a speech in the midst of her fevered planning in the Shadow Gallery, but had never been able to conjure more than a few halting, stilted lines.  Nothing like what V would truly have said.  Nothing to inspire, or impress.

The bells of Big Ben were still tolling, marking the seconds as they ran out.  But as she stood there, her thoughts spinning uselessly, her eyes took in her audience below and somehow,  she found she could draw strength from all of them as they gazed on "V", seeing the one who had called them all to action.

The more the people looked at her, the more she could sense their expectation, their hope in her, or rather, V.   As she stood there, completely still, a calmness descended upon her.  What began as a panicked freezing in place on her part became a calm, quiet waiting stance.  Drawing on her memories of V, she slowly clasped her hands in front of her in deliberate mimicry.  Opening her mind, she reflected on all V had taught her…his beliefs, his methods, his mannerisms.  The words, when they came, were remarkably simple.

The last chime faded, and she began.

"Good evening, London."  V's voice echoed over the loudspeakers.

At the sound of the voice from the television broadcast a year ago, the crowd erupted.  The wave of sound crashed into Evey, lending her its dizzying strength and bolstering her resolve.

"I would introduce myself," she continued,  "but truth to tell, I do not have a name.  You can call me "V".

She had everyone's attention now, police and rioter alike.  She could practically feel the air humming from the force of their concentration on her.   Calmly, carefully, she went on.  She had to get this right.

"A new world has begun," V's voice rang out,  "one that new people must shape.   Since mankind's dawn, a handful of oppressors have accepted the responsibility over our lives that we should have accepted for ourselves.  By doing so, they took our power.  By doing nothing, we gave it away."

"We've seen where their way leads, through camps and wars, towards the slaughterhouse…but now there is another way."

The crowd's hush was absolute.  Evey took a deep breath and closed her eyes, preparing her next words.  This senseless killing had to stop, but she couldn't simply tell the people what to do; that would have gone against everything that V had done, and suffered.  This was a riddle that only each individual could solve for himself.  She gazed down on the streets once again, taking in the smashed police cars and torn Norsefire posters skirling their way across the pavement.  In the distance, the remains of Parliament still smoldered.  She found herself reflecting on Valerie's words from back in her cell, speaking of roses and the fragility of one's last inch.

That was what she needed them to see, she realized; this wasn't about destruction, not anymore.  That was what V had meant at the train when he gave her…everything.

"Old beliefs have come to rubble," she told them, "and from rubble may we build.   This country is not saved – do not think that – but from rubble comes the chance for new life, for hope reinstated…"

The crowd stirred slightly at her words, a collective sigh whispering through them.  They  looked about themselves to one another, beginning to see themselves anew.

"That is your task:" V told them.  "To rule yourselves; your lives and loves and land…or to return to chains.   Choose carefully.  And so, adieu."

Evey carefully removed her hat, swept into a wide, (hopefully) graceful bow and turned to disappear before the crowd recovered.  

* * *

IV.  Curtain Call

The journey back to the Shadow Gallery was a hurried one, with Finch doing his best to watch for danger.  They had both agreed that Evey would have to stay in costume until she reached the Gallery, for fear of anyone spotting the ruse otherwise.  The mask's limited field of vision and the necessity of staying in the shadows made the way treacherous – more than once, Finch had to steady Evey's footing.

"Not far now," she found herself saying aloud.  "I just hope…"  She couldn't finish.

"Me too," Finch assured her, and they continued in silence.

The safety of the Gallery was reached at last, and both breathed a sigh of relief as the locks engaged behind them.  Almost immediately Evey removed her gauntlets and gloves in order to unfasten the mask; she couldn't stand the incongruity of hearing his voice speak her words any longer.  Once it was off, she turned it around to gaze on Fawkes' smile…the one she'd worn, not he.  Had she really done all that?   And, more dauntingly, had it done any good?

Finch watched as she held the mask almost tenderly, lost in her thoughts.  Somewhat awkwardly, he shifted his weight to get her attention once more.  "I'll go check the monitors again," he stated.  Then, more quietly, he added, "You should –" he gestured vaguely at her, uncertain.

Evey shook free of her reverie, focusing on the inspector briefly before nodding in agreement.  "You're right," she said.  "And… thank you," she added, looking up at him somberly.

The inspector gazed down at this tiny woman who still managed to convey the same quiet dignity he'd seen only twenty-four hours before on that train, somehow unridiculous in her cobbled-together outfit.  "Thank you," he countered with a crooked half-smile.  "For once, I felt like I was doing some good."

He headed for the security monitors, and Evey departed down another hallway.  With each step, the exhaustion she'd been fighting for so long gradually caught up with her until she could barely lift one foot after the other.  It was a small eternity just getting to the welcoming dimness of her room.  Setting the mask down on the nightstand, she listlessly reached up to remove the hat and tousled wig, letting them fall from her fingers onto her dresser.  She reached over to activate a jury-rigged police communications scanner near the bed, and listened.

"—track the signal?  Negative.  We can't trace it.  No indication of source whatsoever."
"—nd down, repeat, stand down.  Crowd is dispersing—"
"—eed help here, the fire is still burning, send an ambulance, we've got—"
"—civilians have subdued two men looting a store on—"
"—cel backup, repeat, cancel backup, we're under control over here—"

"God.  We did it, V," she murmured as she sank into the chair near her bed.  "I did what you wanted, you stubborn, brilliant, infuriating man..."  Closing her eyes she drifted forward, folding her arms over her midriff and letting her forehead rest on the coverlet of the bed.  

The coverlet shifted slightly.  After a moment, roughened, burn-scarred fingers drifted gently over her scalp, followed by the barest whisper:

"...your parents...would have been... proud."
Special thanks to :iconrenitaleandra: for beta-ing. :)

Author's note: This is set in the movieverse with elements of the GN incorporated into it. May Mr. Moore forgive me for absconding with his words, as my own would have been woefully inadequate.

- All stories housed in order at my website.
Add a Comment:
ewigestudentin Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Love it how you incorporated V's GN speech here. And of course all of Evey's preparations like donning the whole attire were very interesting to read... a bulletproof vest, eh? she doesn't feel very much as an invincible idea yet, I guess... a nice touch :)
FugueState Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
The vest was totally Finch's idea - he wasn't about to let Evey get herself killed and leave him all alone to deal with everything! ;D
snurtz Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2008  Student Writer
Wow! That's really touching :) I haven't read the book yet, but apparently this is from it? I like your writing style :)
FugueState Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
Bits of Evey's speech as "V" come from the graphic novel; I did some rearranging to fit them into the movie-verse. I'm very glad you enjoyed reading it! :)
snurtz Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2008  Student Writer
So, I read the novel and that makes it even cooler :) but I think I like the movie better, the characters seem... nicer. I think.
FugueState Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
The film definitely makes them (especially V) more "human", I think. GN!V never struck me as the type to get caught fencing with a suit of armor in the middle of the night... ;)
snurtz Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2008  Student Writer
Or wear a frilly pink apron.
FugueState Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
Very true! :lol:
Zieza Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2008
Awesome job blending the two endings together. Great work
FugueState Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
Many thanks! :)
laura721 Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2008
Brilliant! I've always preferred the book's ending to the film's, not that I didn't like the film. You did a great job. And the ending of your piece is just lovely.
FugueState Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you! :aww: I'm glad it worked out. :phew:
Add a Comment:

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