ETERNAL LOVE/TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL
Over nine years later…
Warmth. Pervading every cell of his body, every inch of it. Contentment. Comfort. Warmth. No sound reached his ears, save for a distant gentle hum from the filters and pumps, and the sound of his heartbeat. Not even his breathing could be heard, as the warmth was breathed in and out of his body.
Harry didn't want to leave this warmth, any more than a baby wanted to leave the womb. But he knew that he must. If he wanted an insensate warmth for all eternity, he'd have allowed Third Impact to take place, or even allowed Rei to continue with her own Impact, here, on his homeworld.
His eyes opened, and their first sight, as it had been for every morning for the past couple of years, had been of his wife, her eyes closed, her face set in gentle repose, the slightest of smiles touching her lips. Her hair wafted gently around her face, like seaweed drifting in the ocean. One problem with LCL, Harry reflected, was that the orange tint did little favours to the beauty of her hair colour, that lovely sky blue he fell in love with. It was a lovely and comfortable thing to sleep in, and the substances within it were one hell of an aphrodisiac, but the colour and the sanguine smell of LCL was a turnoff.
They managed to find a way of artificially synthesising the substance, and had tweaked it in many ways. It was now part of the medical industry, as well as revolutionising oceanic exploration. It was one of the many things that NERV's remnant had replicated from their world, and sold, as part of a biotech corporation that Harry used much of his fortune as initial capital. Nephilim Industries. Motto, the same as NERV: 'God is in his heaven, and all is right with the world', a statement of their intent to better humanity.
Indeed, this chamber, their 'bedroom', so to speak, was within one of the basements of Nephilim Industries. Their quarters were actually far more luxurious than this implied, given that Rei grew up in a bleak underground lab in Terminal Dogma and lived in a dingy apartment when she was a pilot: it was actually like a luxurious hotel room, and this wasn't the only place they stayed. They moved between this place, and the few Potter properties remaining after James Potter sold them off to fund the war against Voldemort.
Rei's eyes flickered open, and her smile deepened. Just a little, very subtly, and lost to those who didn't know her as well as he did. But it was there. She leaned forward, pressing her lips to his own. She'd grown in the intervening years, beginning to look like an albino Yui. They both had grown…they all had grown. Harry, Rei, Shinji, Asuka, Kaworu, Ron, Hermione, Luna, all the others…and while time didn't heal all wounds, there were less scars on their hearts and souls than there were before, especially on the ex-Evangelion pilots.
Rei's spectacular appearance hadn't gone wholly unnoticed. However, the village of Little Hangleton had chalked it up to a mass hallucination, and as Rei hadn't grown to more than the size of an Evangelion during that moment, she hadn't really been seen elsewhere, thankfully. What came afterwards was another matter. A number of prominent Pureblood families had vanished into effectively thin air, after all. With the loss of many prominent members of high society in Magical Britain, panic reigned briefly in the Ministry, partly because of the need to fill many of the positions, but also partly because speculation ran as to how it happened.
Fudge made a wild accusation against Dumbledore and Harry, but nothing eventuated. Amelia Bones made a brief investigation, but after looking through Harry and Rei's memories in a Pensieve, opted not to prosecute. It would be hard, after all, to lock up a girl who was effectively a deity, and incarcerating her loved one was just asking for trouble.
Oddly enough, Lucius Malfoy emerged as the voice of reason in the Wizengamot. His son had been the messenger boy, and Lucius was tortured by the Cruciatus into a near-insensate mess for his troubles of relaying the message. He stayed at home, Voldemort having made it clear that he viewed Lucius as unreliable. Lucius, in a way, was glad. He suspected that Rei Ayanami might be a troublesome opponent, and he valued his skin. After hearing about what happened, he was glad he stayed at home. It also helped that a number of his political rivals in the Dark faction had been 'Tanged', as Asuka dubbed it.
So he helped smooth the way afterwards. It was more out of self-preservation than any goodwill. Lucius Malfoy knew better than to tickle that particular sleeping dragon, and in truth, Harry and Rei had done him a favour, in removing the man who held his leash, and had made his life a misery since said leash-holder returned from the grave. Helping them out, while distasteful to his Blood Purity creed, was at least good business and reciprocation.
All of which meant, what could have been a shitstorm for Harry, as well as his friends and family at NERV, was mitigated. True, the shitstorm around Umbridge had to be weathered, but Fudge's days in the Wizengamot were numbered, and Malfoy knew it. He allowed for Fudge to be voted out, and didn't kick up too much of a protest when Amelia Bones became Minister, with Rufus Scrimgeour taking her place as head of the DMLE.
Still, Magical Britain had, for the most part, soured for Harry. While things were beginning to progress, especially where attitudes towards Muggleborns and Muggles were concerned, it still didn't seem enough. Real life wasn't like a fairy tale, with a neat ending wrapped up in a bow where good triumphed, evil was vanquished, and everyone who deserved it lived happily ever after.
After graduating from Hogwarts, Harry and Hermione went to test for their GCSEs, albeit after considerable tuition, as did Rei, Shinji, and Asuka. Asuka and Hermione, particularly the former, aced their test, but considering that Asuka had graduated from university back in their world, that wasn't surprising.
Nephilim Industries had been founded by Yui, Kyoko, and Fuyutsuki, using the knowledge they, along with the rest of the NERV staff who made it over, to begin revolutionising technology in this world. Much of the technological innovation in their world had been born of necessity, in the fires of war and calamity after Second Impact. True, a lot of that was bankrolled by SEELE, for their own ends, and quite a lot of it never made it away from SEELE or NERV to the average person.
Most of it was biotech, with medical science leaping forward decades on this world. Cybernetics, genetic engineering, surgical techniques and instruments…from something as mundane as a better catheter to the genetic splicing that allowed Rei to come into being. From the dark purposes of that world, was born something lighter, better, good. It wasn't without its trials and travails, and they were still continuing even now. But life was improving, steadily, at its own pace.
Harry and his friends from two worlds had grown closer. Shinji had gotten together with Hermione. In a perverse way, it was similar to his mother and father bonding, an intelligent, driven young woman finding something in a man who had difficulty with human connections. But unlike Yui and Gendo, Shinji and Hermione's relationship was somewhat healthier. Hermione, in her way, was a bit like Asuka in her bossiness and intelligence, but she also wasn't as afraid as Asuka was of letting people in.
Asuka, however, had let someone in. She and Kaworu strengthened their own relationship. Of all people, Ron and Luna got together. Ginny, sadly, was a little embittered about not snagging Harry. She eventually plumped for Justin Finch-Fletchley, of all people. Neville had better luck with Susan Bones.
As for others, well, Remus Lupin and Tonks had recently gotten together, with a rather lovely boy called Teddy, named for Tonks' father. Sirius and Misato also got together, the two varying between bouts of hedonism and productivity for Nephilim Industries. And Ritsuko and Maya…despite Ritsuko's complicity in NERV's crimes, Maya accepted that. If anything, Ritsuko didn't know what to be surprised by more: Maya's forgiveness, or the fact that Ritsuko was willing to reciprocate Maya's love.
What of Harry? Well, he and Rei had been off on trips around the world. Rei hadn't been outside of Tokyo-3, save for little trips to other parts of Japan for NERV operations, simply because Gendo deemed it unnecessary for her purpose. They went to parts of the world she'd only seen in pictures, either because of Gendo's controlling tendencies, or else because they had been wiped out by Second Impact, and the war and ecological damage that followed.
It wasn't just pleasure they did trips for. One thing they did was begin medical training. The reason for this was due to their upbringing. Harry had been badly neglected, even abused, by the Dursleys, while Rei's life was plagued by health problems, partly due to her Angelic heritage, kept alive mostly through Ritsuko's grudging ministrations. In a way, it was also in the blood: Yui Ikari, while her main focus was in evolution and metaphysical biology, was also a physician, having trained in a number of subjects as a prodigy child of one of NERV's members.
They'd graduated from medical school proper a couple of years ago, and had done some work for Doctors Without Borders. It appealed to Harry's saving people thing, as Hermione put it, and Rei got to help those less fortunate than herself. After all, for all that was done to her, Gendo cared for her, in his own perverse way. Many around the world weren't so lucky. They even used Nephilim's technology in the field.
Still, they had come back, partly because it would be Harry's birthday soon. His 25th birthday was coming up, and they were going to celebrate it in style. Not a big celebration, just with family and friends. But, there was something they were trying to accomplish…
Ritsuko examined Rei's body carefully in her lab. The former bottle blonde frowned thoughtfully. "I see. Do you really think that having children is something you want? This isn't just because of Yui going on about having grandbabies to spoil?"
Rei nodded. "I do not wish to have them straight away, Dr Akagi, but before long, yes. It's ironic. I am, technically, Lilith, the Second Angel, and the progenitor of life on our world, and yet, I am still sterile, despite my own efforts."
"I think part of the problem is that you are a hybrid, and an artificial one at that," Ritsuko said. "I looked at Gendo's notes on your creation. He was building off a previous project, true, but…well, creating an Angelic hybrid was a pretty rough science. They were basically throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what stuck, especially given that Angelic matter is different to normal baryonic matter. And while the similarity between an Angel's waveform patterns and a human genome was about 99.89%, well, that can be enough to classify as different species. In truth, you're pretty much a major miracle of biological engineering. But even before you fused with Lilith, you were pretty much a hybrid of two different species, and functionally sterile. The medication Gendo had me give you just ensured it. Kaworu has similar problems. But by fusing with Lilith, most of your body is entirely Angel, whereas before, it was mostly human with Angelic elements. To be honest, I'm not sure science can help you here. Even with what we knew about Angels, you've passed from our small realm of expertise and firmly into that mist-wreathed realm we like to call scientifically 'Terra Utter Bullshitis'."
Harry snorted at Ritsuko's deadpan snark. He was gaining a streak of blue in his hair, a darker blue than Rei's, but it was noticeable. Rei had called it a gift. As almost entirely an Angel, she was practically immortal now, but she didn't want to suffer the heartbreak of losing him. So she was gradually increasing the amount of Angelic matter within him. "Rei just…wants to feel more human. Looking into starting a family of her own is just part of it."
"I'm sure. It's part of the healing process. Rei was treated as a lab rat by many in GEHIRN and NERV, including myself. To many of us, she was a tool, as both an Evangelion pilot and the trigger for Instrumentality. Of course, having children is not the be-all and end-all of a human life, even if life's general atavistic imperative is to reproduce. Sometimes, just being with the right person is enough. It was why I defied Gendo back then, when he ordered that your memories not be copied over to your next body, Rei. I saw how happy you were with Harry, and while most of me was motivated by spite against Gendo and SEELE…I think your relationship moved me. I was rather cynical about love by then, so I was surprised."
Rei nodded. "I thank you again for helping, Dr Akagi. In truth…without Harry, things may have gone very differently. Thanks to him, we brought about the end of SEELE's plans…and Gendo's."
"And thanks to you, we stopped Voldemort," Harry said. "Though I feel I could have done more to do something about that."
"According to Dumbledore, the prophecy around you mentioned a power Voldemort didn't know about. Dumbledore believed it to be love. Hogwash, but in a roundabout way, he was correct. Namely, your love for Rei. And with her desire to protect you, her Angelic powers. In any case, you did a good job on restraining her powers. Yui and Kyoko were on standby, ready to restrain the Anti-AT Field if need be, but…while Rei's powers vanquished Voldemort…well, it was you that allowed Rei to hold onto her humanity. I think the latter's a more impressive feat. In GEHIRN and NERV, we shackled gods up through metal. But you hold Rei down on Earth through love. Still, adoption's always an option. And maybe, with your abilities, Rei, you could try parthenogenesis?"
"It is something I considered, but I wish for a child that is uniquely ours," Rei said. "But you are correct, Dr Akagi. Being with Harry is enough. Gendo Ikari gave my life purpose, but Harry gave my life meaning, as did Shinji and the others. Until Shinji came along, I merely existed. Now, I live. I can choose who I wish to be, and continue to choose. I am not the Second Angel or the First Child. I am Rei Ayanami-Potter."
"My Angel," Harry said, reaching across and touching her hand gently. And they both smiled. Even if there were trials to come, they knew they'd overcome them…
"…And then Kaji, of all people, gave him The Talk!" Misato laughed, relating a by-now well-known anecdote about Harry's time in Tokyo-3. "I swear, Harry got redder than Asuka's plugsuit!" Laughter greeted it, even though those present had heard it before. But it was a joke that never lost too much from familiarity. It was a warm, welcoming thing.
The birthday party was in full swing. People from Magical Britain, people formerly from NERV, two disparate groups from two different worlds, united by two people in particular, Harry and Rei Ayanami-Potter. A bond that was made improbably, and yet was very real.
People were paradoxically solitary and social creatures, beings who craved bonds but avoided them. Yet here, there was no Hedgehog's Dilemma. There were bonds, of love, friendship, family and camaraderie.
"Anyway…it's been pretty much a decade since Harry dropped into our lives in Tokyo-3," Misato said. "I think I can safely say that, by doing so, Harry set in motion the events that saved us. In both worlds. He wasn't the only one, but…he was the catalyst. So…happy birthday, Harry. And congratulations!"
A wave of "Congratulations!" came from everyone in the room. Friends from this world. Friends from that world. Friends for a long time to come. And despite the adulations for saving the world, he didn't feel like a hero, and they didn't truly see him as one. He was seen as Harry.
And so, there was only one thing to say to that, as Harry smiled, his wife by his side, his goddess, his blue-haired Angel.
"Thank you all!"
Because, as controversial as the original TV ending was, it's fitting to end this fic as a homage to that ending, isn't it? Imagine the music piece Good, or Don't Be from the original soundtrack of the series playing during the final scene.
I know I said in the previous chapter that this chapter would be out by the end of the year at the latest…but thankfully, I got it out sooner. Much sooner.
Some elements of the ending I had conceived from the beginning, like Harry and Rei sleeping in an LCL tank. However, the rest was just what I made up. I didn't want it to be a 'babies ever after' ending, or at least not quite. Rei wants a child because she wants something uniquely hers and Harry, but due to her biology, well, it's a bit troublesome. But their life goes on, helping others. Maybe they have other adventures, but this is it.
Evangelion doesn't end well. The TV show ended on a surreal note not unlike The Prisoner, only weirder. The continuation movies were brutal and traumatising, and I don't think the Rebuild films will end well at all, given the events in the third film. The manga, IMO, had the best ending, even if it was bittersweet. So this was probably the closest to a happy ending. Not everyone got one, but still…
Anyway, that's it. The end. And I hope that it was worth it for you guys.
Still, before I move onto answering any reviews that need answering and the end of it all…I thought I'd give you guys some recommendations for Evangelion-related fics. I brought up Lexarius' The Boy Who Lived and the Boy Who Broke in the previous chapter, but here's some others…
1. Nobody Dies by Gregg Landsman. This was the story that got me into writing fanfic in the first place. It has a more normal Shinji, a cartoonish Rei, and an introverted Asuka. Oh, and Gendo's actually a decent father, Yui's alive and crazy awesome, and Kyoko is a bitch. It's a good fanfic, even if there were some questionable choices by the author at some points, and any Evangelion fan would love this.
2. The Long Night of the Harvest by Gregg Landsman. A crossover with Mass Effect, where Shinji is deposited by Leliel within Citadel space. Although on hiatus if not abandoned and OC-rich, it's still an enjoyable work, as is most of the things by Gregg Landsman.
3. Advice and Trust by Panther2G. Perhaps one of the best Shinji/Asuka stories out there. I can't say much more about it, only that it is great.
4. Devil Warrior by gunman. This story, while it contains lemons, was also the fic that pretty much introduced me to High School DxD, and given the characterisation, I actually enjoyed it, despite its faults and foibles. gunman also does a LOT of Evangelion fics, perhaps too many, but still, worth taking a look if you're a fan.
5. Going Another Way by Tribun. Shinji/Rei goodness.
6. Shinji and the Doctor by machiavelli. A Doctor Who crossover that, while apparently dead, is also a damned good fic. The Tenth Doctor becomes a mentor to Shinji.
Review-answering time! Guest: No. My familiarity with JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is mostly with the first three story arcs, and all I know about Vento Aureo/Golden Wind is that the main character is Dio's son, that Giorno has ambitions to become a better sort of Mafia leader, and…well, that's it. So any spoilers were unintentional.
No numbered annotations this time.
And indeed, to the supporters of this fanfic…thank you all!