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The first time, Evey awoke to complete blackness and the foreboding sense of someone else in the room with her.  She froze, straining to hear past the thundering of her pulse, but the silence was absolute.

There had always been at least some light in the Shadow Gallery, somewhere - V always took care to ensure she would never be lost in the dark.   But now there wasn't a flicker of illumination to be seen.  The darkness thickened around her with each passing second, swallowing every sound and threatening to suffocate her.

A faint sigh broke the silence.  V, her mind said, and the uncontrollable shuddering that threatened her small frame subsided.  She clambered hopefully to a sitting position on the bed.

V?  What's happened?

But instead of approaching her, he retreated.  She could feel it in the expansion of the silence around her.  Her fear, alleviated somewhat by V's presence, returned with a vengeance to slither up her throat and send ice down her arms.  Her legs gathered under her, tensing in readiness for a fruitless attempt at flight.

V?

To her relief - and apprehension - his presence moved toward her again, his steps barely audible on the carpeted stone floor.  Sightless eyes tried to track him, nervous fingers clutching in the blankets.

He said her name, and it sounded heavy... halting.  She turned toward the sound blindly, feeling its pull on her despite the fearful whisperings her mind was conjuring.  He loomed near and her hands went up – seeking, warding, she didn't know which.

Suddenly she tilted forward, her hands meeting the weave of his doublet where he now knelt in front of her.  She yelped in surprise, pulling back, only to have her hands gently captured to hold her in place.

The movement brought a scent to her awareness – smoke.  Not wood smoke, but something acrid and chemical that clung to him in the darkness.  She stilled, concern overriding fear as she smelled sulfur… gunpowder.   She remembered that scent from the night he blew up the Old Bailey.  And then came another, thicker smell she could almost taste – one that brought memories of her father, beaten in a protest.  Blood.

Oh god, are you all right, V?

Her hands freed themselves from V's to frantically return to his torso, this time searching for damage, for wounds.  She found none, and her searching fingers moved up, naturally seeking a face for reassurance.  They met the edge of the mask and a quick but a careful grip intercepted them while another hand went to her shoulder.

They remained like that, with one of her hands in his and the other resting near his heart while she tried to hear something – anything – in the blackness.  At last a gauntleted hand scented of violence moved to drift softly down her cheek.

I will live, Evey.

Then he was gone.

Time passed, and Evey wondered if she had only dreamt the strange encounter.  She never spoke of it to V, who in turn showed no sign of anything untoward having happened.  He remained ever respectful to her, and not once did she sense any danger in his presence.

The second time, V had been gone for over a day.  She awoke to blackness, knowing he was near.

V...

She sought him in the silence, listening for the faintest whisper.  Again her name was uttered, the sound reaching out to her.  This time she reached back, her hand raised to beckon him where she knelt.

The mattress dipped as before, and as he neared the air was again awash in shades of destruction.  The ghosts of blood and petrol hung between them, spurring her to again search for wounds, for damage – even though a part of her knew there would be none.  He was still and silent through her attentions, but his head bowed, the ends of the wig brushing the backs of her hands.

She gazed sightlessly into the darkness V had created, breathing in the death he carried with him and feeling its crushing weight.   Slowly she leaned forward, slipped her arms beneath his and simply held him.  The fabric of his doublet lay warm beneath her cheek and her ears rang with the silence around them.

Are you all right, V?

His arms came up behind her.

I will live, Evey.

And he was gone.

Time passed.  Life with V resumed, and the days blended one into the next.  Evey never spoke of what happened, and neither did V.

She was unsurprised when it happened the third time.  The darkness enfolded her as before, and the ritual began with ease.

V.

Evey.

She reached out to his voice and felt her hands taken in his.  As he joined her where she sat, she heard his breath hitch as if in pain.  The scent of burnt steel and ozone filled her awareness at his approach.  And blood – always blood, curling about him like a cloak.

Her hands left his to skim in their paths over his form.  The air was heavy with the tang of metal and fire, making it difficult to breathe.  Of their own accord her fingers sought the source.  They seized upon the fastenings of V's doublet, trying to free him from this oppressive atmosphere that clung to him.

She expected to be stopped, but he remained motionless as the first fastening gave way.  Gradually she completed her task, each breath coming easier than the last as she worked.   The gauntlets were coaxed off, and the heavy doublet tossed away into the dark.  Gentle fingertips returned to the skin-tight garment they found beneath, sliding around to hold him to her again.  She dared to press closer than before - close enough to feel the topography of scars she had always known were there.

He was so still against her… his head lolled forward to brush against hers, but there was no other movement from him.  Sadly, softly, her hands stroked down his back again and again.

She breathed in the still-scorched air, rocking him gently to and fro.  Her senses strained for any sign in the nothingness around them.  Her knees began to ache and her head grew heavy, but her arms around him held steady.   

At last she felt his arms stir, rising to echo her embrace.  A long, deep breath expanded his chest, making her strain briefly to keep her arms about him.  His back began to straighten under her hands, and damaged fingers drifted up to caress her hair.

She spoke the words, as she knew she had to.

Are you all right, V?

A roughened thumb traveled across her cheek.

I will live, Evey.


And so it continued, each time taking longer as she fought to bring him back from farther and farther away.

. . .

She breathes in shades of chaos, willing them into quietude as the trappings that carry them are put aside.  They can no longer threaten to overwhelm her senses as they once did.  Each fragment surrenders in turn, as it always has.  She has made her peace with them all, and they with her.

The mask is the last to be removed.  It is placed carefully with the rest of the empty clothing near the mirror.  She looks from her reflection back to the mask, running a gentle touch along its cheek where a bullet has grazed it.  She says the words she has said from the beginning.

Are you all right, V?

The mask smiles at her from its place on the stand.

I will live, Evey.



~ Finis ~
Not part of my regular AU - this is something on its own. It began from an image that didn't even end up being written. *headdesk*


Obligatory disclaimer: I claim no ownership of anything here except the words I wrote.
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:iconewigestudentin:
ewigestudentin Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
As much as I loved all your stories I've read so far, this one stands out - even if just because it *finally* got me all teary-eyed here.
I didn't quite get the ending at first. It seemed somehow off - why would she undress him in front of a mirror... and then it hit me. :(
So much happened in that ". . ." before the last part.
*sniffle*
I also prefer to think that not only sad but also good things happened in that ". . ." period of time...

I really, really loved the whole story. The gradual deepening of the ritual, the way you made me too smell the destruction in darkness. It's beyond words.
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:iconfuguestate:
FugueState Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you - I can't remember how this image first came to me, but I remember the inexorability of it most of all. It was one of those stories that wasn't at all "fun" to write, but it was very, very compelling.
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:iconewigestudentin:
ewigestudentin Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
After having googled "inexorability", lol, I have to say that I still have no idea what you meant exactly, but I like the shiny new word in my collection :D
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:iconfuguestate:
FugueState Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
LOL! Sorry - basically, it means "relentlessly unalterable". Not a happy term, but it applied in this case. ^^;
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:iconannadracula2010:
AnnaDracula2010 Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2010   Writer
this is by far the best and most powerful fanfiction I have ever read. It ... is really beyond words. :) excellent job.
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:iconfuguestate:
FugueState Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you very much. :thanks: It was a definite departure from my other stories (I tend more often to "fix" things) but the idea wouldn't leave me alone.
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:iconannadracula2010:
AnnaDracula2010 Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2010   Writer
I finally got my hands upon the Graphic novel of V for Vendetta. Now with the knowledge of of both wells, I do prefer your endings to the actual ones that happened.
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:iconfuguestate:
FugueState Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you - I know that for the sake of Alan Moore's original concept, things had to happen the way they did. It still doesn't keep me from wanting to change it. ;)
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:iconprincess88alasse:
princess88alasse Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
ooo :o
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:iconfuguestate:
FugueState Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
yeaahh... 'fraid I got heavy here. ^^;
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:iconprincess88alasse:
princess88alasse Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
i don't mind :o
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:iconwhimsysmile:
WhimsySmile Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2009  Professional Writer
:wow:! That's really powerful! The fact of their little ritual, the fact that he has changed his habits to protect her, and her persistent, patient, and deep love for him are beautifully portrayed. Wonderfully written!
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:iconfuguestate:
FugueState Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you :thanks:
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:iconwhimsysmile:
WhimsySmile Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2009  Professional Writer
Welcomes.
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:iconariniel:
Ariniel Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
LOVED IT. As usual. You are a fantastic writer!
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:iconfuguestate:
FugueState Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
:blushes: Thank you!
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:iconmistress-dragonflame:
Mistress-DragonFlame Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2009
Very nicely done. I've always liked the idea that Evey became a new V after his death.
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:iconfuguestate:
FugueState Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you :) The graphic novel made that into a really powerful concept - as much as I hate the idea of Film!V dying, this image just wouldn't leave me alone.
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:iconwibskelds9:
WibSkelDS9 Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow. That's really powerful. It just goes to show how much V puts himself through to stop Evey from worrying. Fantastic job :D
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:iconfuguestate:
FugueState Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
It's an image that just stuck with me... V, having to go to Evey in order to continue what he was doing, because being surrounded by so much death was killing him by degrees.

...yeah, I have cheery thoughts. :disbelief:
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:iconwibskelds9:
WibSkelDS9 Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
Aww, that's okay. At least you have a release for those negative feelings; we all do. At least your release isn't your daily life, like it is sometimes for V.
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