Since this is Isobel and Eric's story, the epilogue will not take place during the scattering of Tris's ashes.
Epilogue: 6 Years Later
"What are you doing today?" I ask Tristan as I make sure that her small pink backpack has everything.
"Setting free butterflies!" she says.
"Your class is going to set free butterflies today," I acknowledge. "It's the perfect time of spring to do so."
I slip A Little Princess into her backpack before zipping it up.
Eric left for his shift at the police department an hour ago. The police force is considered a Dauntless job. His paychecks are good, so we're able to divide between bills, groceries, and savings. Everyone in Milwaukee works if able, though you have a stay-at-home parent license, which I do.
Tristan is in kindergarten, and Eric and I's other two children, Lorelei and Tomas, a set of twins, are in preschool.
I wait with my children in the porch for the bus, balancing Lorelei on my lap, as one of the two family dogs, Harrison, a pit bull terrier, lays on the floor, his dog toy under his chin. Our lab/collie, Lady, is sleeping against Harrison.
It's not long before the bus stops in front of our home. I walk them to the bus and make sure that they entered the bus okay before I enter back into the house.
Matthew had some good connections in Milwaukee. Since Eric and I were one of few people from Chicago that settled here, they gave us the house. It's an old, renovated duplex, renovated to make it fit one family instead of two. With the upstairs kitchen transformed into a bedroom. The previous owner paid more attention to the inside than the outside.
Getting adjusted to Milwaukee was a challenge at first, since we were used to the way things were in Chicago. It took us a few months to remind ourselves that this was a metropolitan area, and not a city experiment with five factions.
Most of those I know decided to remain in the city where they are born in. A few of us, like Peter, decided to go to Milwaukee. Peter reset his memory during the mass reset of the Bureau. After the haze of the memory reset, some of the unpleasant aspects of his personality returned but he's not such a jackass as he used to be. He works in office and resides in an apartment.
Tobias was one of those who decided to remain in Chicago, a choice that surprised me and even Eric. I would have thought that he would have left to escape the unpleasant memories there. Of his unpleasant childhood and of the conflict that arose after the simulated attack on the Abnegation.
But I guess to him, leaving Chicago would be leaving Tris's memory.
They scattered Tris's ashes two and a half years after her death. Eric and I couldn't go because Eric had work and I was having my hands full with Tristan and the two dogs, not to mention that I was six months pregnant with the twins, but Christina told me via phone conversation that they scattered her ashes via zip lining, with the urn strapped to Tobias's back.
Right before Eric and I left Chicago, I scattered Theodore's ashes at the bridge that led to the former Candor sector. I would have been wrong scattering his ashes in Milwaukee, since he wasn't born there.
Eric and I got married two months before Tristan was born. It wasn't something extravagant, but what mattered was that we took our relationship to the next level. It was only a small wedding, with our acquaintances from Chicago, prominently Tobias, Christina, and Caleb among them.
Today, Tobias will be paying a visit here and he'll be bringing Christina with him. Those two most likely bonded by loss: Christina lost Will and Tobias lost Tris. There's no surprise that they're already in a relationship.
I enter the kitchen and take out cleaning essentials before the guests arrive. Pinned on to the tack board are various items: schedules, grocery lists, and pictures. Among the pictures, the first one is me in the hospital holding Tristan, four hours after she was born; the second is a portrait photo of her, with Harrison, a two month old pit pull at the time, sitting next to her; the third one, with me, Eric, Tristan and the twins, as babies, sitting outside, our two dogs at our feet.
It's amazing how fast time passes when you get older.
"Long time, no see," says Christina as she and Tobias enter the house at the appointed time, eleven o'clock.
"Long time, no see as well," I say as I hug them one by one. "Come on, I am getting lunch ready."
"Is Eric at work?" inquiries Christina.
"He usually picks the twins up from morning kindergarten and drops them off here before going back to work, but today, he'll be home," I say before going into the kitchen.
"How are they doing?" asks Christina, who follows me into the kitchen.
"Tristan is almost done with kindergarten," I answer. "She reads above her reading level, so far third to fifth grade level books. She doesn't like reading those 'stupid stories'."
"She sounds Erudite," says Christina.
"However, early when she started kindergarten, her teacher wanted us to talk to her, because she thought that Tristan was too advanced of a reader for her grade level," I reply.
"Oh dear, tell me about it," says Christina.
I tell her about the meeting that Eric and I had with Tristan's teacher, Christina reacting appropriately at the right parts.
"Eric called her stupid?" asks Christina, looking amused.
"You should have seen her face, and afterwards she went on saying, 'If you excuse me, Mr. Matheson, I minored in psychology in college and I know very well about how children behave'."
"I can just imagine his response," replies Christina.
"He said 'I guess psychology didn't teach you that children learn at different levels'," I reply.
"I would have loved to have seen it," says Christina.
We both talk in the kitchen as I cook and Christina feeds the two dogs some scraps.
From the kitchen, I see Tobias wandering through the living room, looking at the pictures on the walls, looking like he is deep in thought.
"Mommy!" Lorelei shouted as she ran into the house once she and her brother came home with their father.
"Oh, there's my growing girl," I say, lifting her up and I see that she has drawing. "Did you draw this?"
"Yes," she says, handing me the drawing. Inspecting it, it's a drawing of a butterfly. A monarch butterfly.
"Oh, it's beautiful," I compliment. "You're such a good artist."
"Need help with lunch?" Eric says to me before pecking me in the cheek.
"Yes, babe," I say before pecking him on the lips. I put Lorelei down before putting her drawing on the refrigerator with the other drawings. Tomas pulls a book from the small bookshelf in the kitchen before sitting on the small table reserved for him and his twin sister.
"You like to read about trains?" Tobias asks Tomas sitting next to him.
Nearby, Lorelei is sitting by the dog bed where Harrison occupies, throwing a ball at him, as Christina sits nearby.
"I used to have a bull dog named Chunker," Christina told her. "There was this one time where my mom left chicken on the counter…"
She told a similar story to Tris, Will, Al, and I during dinner on the day of Visiting Day before the ranks were released, on the same day where Eric and I had our first kiss in the training room.
It's only been six years but it feels like eternity, to think that that of those that sat together during initiation, only Christina and I are alive.
It wasn't long before lunch was ready. One can smell the cooked meat and the vegetables wafting from the house.
"You might want to wash your hands, Lorelei, since you touched a doggy toy," I hear Eric say as I took the platters to the dining room with Christina and Tobias's help.
"Where did you get your place mats?" asks Christina.
"Burman's. The local retailer," I say. "Most of the stores are mom and pops. The big businesses went extinct after the Purity War."
In Milwaukee, there are signs of what life was like before the Purity War. On my way to the supermarket, I would see some abandoned lots with cracked and unkempt pavement. Names like Meijer, Wal-Mart, probably places where people bought necessities and items.
Milwaukee wasn't just an metropolitan area. It was a time capsule of sorts, of the world before us.
"What would you two like with your lunch?" I hear Eric ask.
"Apple juice," Tomas pipes up.
"White grape juice," answers Lorelei.
"Apple and white grape juice it is then," I hear Eric say before he retreats back to the kitchen.
The twins sit in their usual seats and Eric dashes in with the juice cartons. We serve ourselves once everyone is seated, and Eric and I help the twins with their plates.
The conversation over lunch was mainly centered on some intellectual bantering, mainly talking about literature, which wasn't restricted to adult but child friendly enough that Lorelei and Tomas were able to talk about the kids' books they read.
After lunch, the twins went in their playroom while the four of us adults sit in the living room.
"How are things back at Chicago?" Eric asks.
"I thought you wanted nothing to do with what you call prison?" asks Christina incredulously.
"That doesn't mean that I can't ask about it."
From what Christina and Tobias tell us, George and Amar work in the police force back in Chicago. They're married now, since the procreation doctrine is no longer in force. Tori has taken to teaching, something that surprised those that knew her. Christina works in the police force as well, while Tobias works for Johanna Reyes, the current representative of government of Chicago.
"Did anything happen in the fringe lately?" asks Tobias.
"The department of health and human services recently declared the area too squalid to live in," says Eric. "They're going to assign housing to those remaining there."
"That's good," says Christina.
"Hopefully that will appease the rebels for some time," says Tobias.
There are still GD rebels in the fringe that believe that we need another war for the change we want. I had seen enough violence in my lifetime: Peter stabbing Edward in the eye with a butter knife, the Abnegation bodies sprawled over the streets, seeing the riot enfold in Michigan Avenue after the desecration of one of the faction bowls. I don't know about Tobias but I'm sure he's seen more violence in his life then I have.
The bus dropped Tristan off at three PM. She happily bounded across the front yard, her blond hair gleaming in the sunlight.
"There she is," I say. "The most cleverest girl in the world!"
She hugs me and says, "Hi, mommy."
"How was your day?" I ask her as we approach the front door of the house.
"We released the butterflies today," she says.
"That must have been lovely," I say. "There are a couple of friends from my past that I want you to meet."
"Is one of them the guy that dad calls 'Four'?" she asks.
After six years, one would think that Eric would stop referring Tobias as his Dauntless name, but old habits die hard.
"Yes, well, you'll learn his real name real soon," I tell her as we enter the house. I take off her backpack for her and she bounds across the living room to Eric, with Tobias and Christina sitting nearby.
"Hello there, rascal," he says as she sits next to him. "What happened at school today?"
"We released the butterflies," she pipes up.
"Well, they should be ready anyway," he says.
"Tristan, this is Christina and Tobias," I introduce her.
"Why does dad call you a number?" Tristan pipes up.
"Well, what number is that?" asks Tobias.
"He calls you 'Four'," Tristan answers.
Both Christina and Eric chuckle.
"There is some significance to that," answers Tobias.
"Four factions?" she asks.
"Oh, no, no, Tristan," I say, laughing. "No one had aptitude for four factions."
"It must mean something though," says Tristan.
Though I doubt that Tobias would go on and tell her about how the whole fear simulation thing worked at Dauntless.
"Come on, let's see how your bug project is going," Eric says to her.
After they leave, with Tristan's voice filling the corridor, Tobias says, "She's definitely Erudite. She asks a lot of questions."
"Children are curious by nature," I say.
"Where's the bathroom?" asks Tobias standing up.
"The first floor bathroom is between our bedroom and the first floor guest room," I say.
He leaves the room.
"What's with that?" I ask Christina.
"He has been hesitant in coming here," says Christina. "It's hard for him seeing kids with their fathers."
"I think it's always bothered him," I reply. "What is harder for him is that he is seeing his former rival with his kids."
"One thing that Tobias and I disagree with is the topic of children," says Christina. "He doesn't want kids."
"He's afraid he'll turn out like his own father," I deduce. "He needs to know that he'll never be like that man. He's better than the monster that raised him."
"I told him that," replies Christina. "He says, 'You don't understand the cycle of abuse, Christina. That's all I know about my childhood. People usually raise their children how they were raised'."
"There are people who were abused when they were kids and they turned out to be better parents," I say.
"Something tells me that you'll do a better job convincing him," says Christina.
For dinner, Eric and I prepare goulash and steak, and because of the nice weather the seven of us eat outside, candles lit to keep the mosquitoes away. Since the kids are too young for dessert, Eric and I play with the kids on their personal little playground set.
Tobias watches, and I noticed that his hands are balled into fists. Most likely he wishes that this was his childhood. A father should play with his children, not beat them with a belt.
It doesn't surprise me when Tobias turns to the backdoor and walks into the house.
"Lorelei, go see your daddy, I'll be right back," I say before leaving the backyard and into the house. I find Tobias in the living room, staring at the pictures on the mantel piece of the fireplace.
"Are you okay, Tobias?" I ask.
"You don't know how hard it is, seeing kids with their fathers," says Tobias. "It's harder seeing my old rival with his kids. I never saw him as parent material."
"Sometimes things take us by surprise," I say. I take a deep breath and say, "Tobias, you are not going to turn out like your father."
"What makes you think that?" he asks, turning towards me, looking incredulously. "What makes you think that I won't beat the crap out of my kids like Marcus did to me?"
"There are stories of survivors of child abuse who raise kids," I say, "and they treat their children the way they wanted to be treated. They end up being great parents."
"Well, not all of them," he says.
"Tobias, your father beat your mother," I say. "How did you treat Tris?"
"Better then how Marcus treated Evelyn," says Tobias. "I'm not going to lay a hand on Christina either like that."
"Tobias, you are nothing like the monster that raised you," I reply. "If you are capable of being a competent boyfriend and husband, you'll be a great father."
He considers for a moment before asking, "You really believe that?"
"Yes, I do," I say.
Christina and Tobias are staying overnight and will leave in the morning, since they have a long drive from Milwaukee to Chicago. The kids are fast asleep in their bedroom and Eric and I sit in bed, reading, which is our ritual before going to bed.
"What did you say to Four?" asks Eric.
"I told him that he is nothing like the man that raised him," I reply. "That he would be a better father then his own father."
"You think he listened?"
"Most likely, yes," I answer.
"By the time Tristan turns twelve, we'll have to explain to her why I call him Four," says Eric.
"And she would want to know how the fear simulations worked," I answer. "She's six and she likes to learn rather than play. It's scary."
"Well, if she were in Erudite, it would be considered normal," Eric says.
"True," I say.
True indeed. Though Eric and I are closer to our kids then our own parents were with us, one thing hasn't changed: we are raising our children in a pro-learning environment.
The future is a road with multiple exits. One choice could turn it around.
When I was young, I thought I was going to stay in the Erudite faction and live the rest of my days there. I bet everyone thought that they would remain in their faction of origin, well, except for Tobias Eaton.
At twelve, I started studying the basics on self-defense, confirming my aptitude for Dauntless.
One thing leads to another. Something simple can hold tremendous weight.
If you were to get an answer from me: it's that I don't regret my choices and that out of all that has happened, I have a loving family.
One choice can define your future.
Thank you for all your support. It was really appreciated.
The idea of Jeanine Matthews having a niece was rather spontaneous on my part, but I didn't want to use the clichéd "Jeanine Matthews's daughter" trope. I was going by what it would be in canon. They didn't say too much on Jeanine's family, so I gave her a brother and knowing this, her brother would have been an Erudite leader as well.
Believe it or not, Matheson is a surname I stole from the NBC television show Revolution. In my Divergent fanfictions, this has become Eric's last name. Sure, he has different last names in some of the fanfictions I read, but I want to remain consistent with my fanfictions, so whenever you read my Eric centric stories, don't be surprised if I use it again. Matheson is my Divergent in-universe surname for him.
While I'm working on two other Divergent fanfictions, I have three Convergent related stories that I developed and one that I planned. The first one is Compliant, which is a prequel about Isobel's life in Erudite; the second one is called Defiant, which will be a series of one-shots, taking place during the series and beyond, as well as Eric and Isobel's settling down in Milwaukee. The planned fic is Be Brave, which is AU of Convergent, is about Isobel and Eric's life in Dauntless had the war happened a year later and if Jeanine sent Isobel to assist Eric in hunting down Divergents.
I am hoping that this fanfic gets a TV Tropes page. Also, there are no fanfic recs for Divergent in TV Tropes.
My last words to my loyal readers: