Series: Leaders, Lovers, and Legacies
Author: Evelyn Benton
Rating: Adult (Mature Adults on Stellar Phenomena)
Genre: Romance, Angst
Fandom: V for Vendetta (V/Evey, Guy Fawkes/Maria Pulleyn)
Archive: Stellar Phenomena, The 2006 Phoenix Awards Official Website, and fan fiction dot net; all others, please ask.
Disclaimer: Warner Bros. and Alan Moore own V for Vendetta ; I own this not-for-profit fan fiction; no copyright infringement intended.
Author's Note 1: This story includes a segment on the relationship between Guy Fawkes and Maria Pulleyn, the woman believed to have been Fawkes' lover/wife (who is seen in the movie when Fawkes is hanged). Little is known about Maria Pulleyn, and even the theory that she and Fawkes were married and had a son named Thomas is in doubt. For the purpose of this story, I'm exercising creative license in filling in the many blanks regarding this couple.
Author's Note 2: One of my favorite aspects of the film is that every character and action has a parallel somewhere in the past, present, or future. This story addresses the parallels between Maria and Evey, the women who lost and gained so much. If you are reading it solely for the V/Evey aspect and could care less about Guy/Maria, please scroll down to the halfway mark.
Author's Note 3: If you're an odd little cookie like I am, you've probably wondered from time to time why Evey is suddenly wearing a blue jacket after the dance scene/during the train scene. Here's one theory…
Summary: Maria Pulleyn and Evey Hammond had their own missions in this brutal world. People remember the ideas and the men, but never the women behind the men.
When his body dropped and his neck had not broken, she realized he had been right when he told her she should not watch the execution. Hanging, he had explained, was a particularly gruesome form of death, far more so than a death with bloodshed. She had seen hangings before and they were not pleasant to watch. She was strong. He had made her strong. She could handle watching him leave this mortal coil. She owed him that.
As she watched the life leave is eyes, however, she regretted the decision. Tears started sliding down her face.
Their story was far from an epic love story, and surely it was one that would never be remembered or repeated in any form. They were lovers married by hearts, not paper. He had saved her long ago from a life worse than any punishment: a life of prostitution. Maria had been an orphan raised by nuns in a convent in Scotton, Yorkshire. When she came of age, she had three options: take vows and become a nun, marry one of the older men who "adopted" wives from the assortment of orphans raised in the convent, or run away. Maria ran.
On Maria's first night as a working woman, she had escorted a client to her room in the professional ladies' home. When it was about to happen, Maria panicked and attempted to run. She could not escape her client's rough grasp. He could overpower her body, but not her will. Maria bit the hand covering her mouth and ran for the window. A woman of her occupation screaming for help out of the window of that particular building would have gone unnoticed by any other person—but not him.
One man, one ordinary hero, charged to her rescue for a reason neither of them knew. He slew the dragon, saved the damsel in distress, and started living happily ever after the second he looked into her eyes.
They had been together since then. Under the guise of husband and wife, they traveled together. When they finally settled down in London, people started doing what they do best: they started gossiping about Guy and his little whore, both living in sin. It was said that if their Catholicism didn't send them to hell, their unholy union would. Guy and Maria considered themselves married in every sense of the word.
Eleven days prior to the fifth of November, 1605, Guy Fawkes had finally confessed the plan to Maria Pulleyn. The couple lay in his bed. Night had just fallen and they were resting in the comfort of one another's warm embrace as the nighttime chill seeped into their home.
Guy stroked Maria's hair, offering promises and assurances. He could never successfully lie to her, not even when he truly wanted to do so. Every optimistic prediction he whispered into her hair was met with a chuckle and a pessimistic retort. He would lie again and she'd translate the lie into the truth. He would lie yet again and she would offer suggestions for alternatives. He would lie once more and she would become teary eyed and silent.
When she questioned his motives, his answers were honest and forthcoming. When she pleaded for him to change his mind, to stay with her and pretend none of this was going to happen, he reminded her he had an obligation. When she wondered why he seemed to have no obligation toward her, he assured her he was doing this for her before anyone else. He insisted that Maria had the right to her religion, as did every other Catholic. Guy was doing it for her, for himself, for their neighbors, for their future.
And when she inquired if he thought he would be remembered or if his actions would be appreciated, he laughed and explained that men are never remembered—only ideas are remembered.
Guy reminded Maria of the hardships she had faced in her life. She had once been young and scared of the world, but under Guy's guidance, she had learned to become strong and capable. As a child, Maria had been an accidental survivor and fear nearly killed her. As a woman, however, Maria was powerful. It was her love that had given Guy the strength he needed to agree to this insane plan that, at the moment of intellectual conception, had sounded brilliant and foolproof.
He planted a kiss in her hair. "Remember this above all else, my love." Maria lifted her head from his chest and looked directly into his eyes. "My love for you will never end, no matter what happens with all of this madness. Things may take a turn for the worse, and if that is so, falter not. Do not hesitate to deny me or betray my memory, for I know the truth that lies in your heart," Guy stated, placing a warm hand overtop her chest.
Beneath his hand, her heart pounded in terror. "Fear not, fair Maria. You are the bone that supports this hollow shell of a man." Maria opened her mouth to protest, but he silenced her with a finger on her lips. "You have the strength of an army of a thousand men. Survive this hardship and all others, and smile again. I'll see you when you smile, no matter how much distance or how many heavens or hells separate us."
Maria was not a woman prone to weeping, but her emotions had been put to the test by the changes in her body and in her husband's decisions. She returned her head to its usual resting place on his chest. "What can I say to make you stay?" she asked one final time.
Guy remained silent as he ran his hand through her hair.
"Does your child hold no more pull on your heart or mind than my love for you?"
Maria did not hear him react to her unfair tactic of desperation. In fact, he was oddly casual about it. He reached down and gently stroked his wife's rather small five month old swell where their unborn child resided in oblivion to the outside world.
Unknown to Maria, her husband had tears in his eyes as well. With a controlled voice, he answered, "There is no greater love than freedom, and freedom requires sacrifices. I may live or I may die, but my soul will live on in you and the child in your womb."
Maria could no longer look at the dangling corpse of her lover. It would not be long before the crowd realized who she was. Maria navigated her way through the mob and made her way to the home she had shared with Guy. She had already packed everything of personal value or necessity, and she had sold everything of financial value in order to secure her future for the next short period of time in a life that would be long and empty without her lover.
He had argued with her at first, but after a few moments, Maria had grown tired of the young friar's high morals. He was apparently the only uncorrupt friar in the world. Maria dropped two coins in the friar's hand and suddenly his opinion changed.
"What would you like it to say?"
Maria looked around. Seeing no witnesses, she explained the finer details to her request. "Guy Fawkes and Maria Pulleyn were married in 1590," she stated. It was the year they had met, so it was accurate to say they had been married then. The friar quickly wrote it on the church document.
"And the child," he asked uncomfortably, unable to look into the eyes of the woman he deemed a sinner.
Maria, now in her eighth month, was supposed to be in her confinement. Survival and security, however, required that she sneak into the outside world to acquire the necessities of life and to tend to this vital paperwork. She was covered in many bulky shawls and held a large basket before her, but it was not hard to discover her condition.
"The child, Thomas, was born in February, 1591." Her child was due to arrive in February, 1606, not 1591. The lie about her child's age, and possibly its gender, would afford them both some security. Anyone wanting to seek out Guy's child for vengeance would find himself looking for a young man, not a baby.
If anyone questioned the husbandless mother, she would claim that this child, her child with Guy, was the product of a rape against a helpless widow. For a young woman, rape was something people usually assumed the girl wanted or deserved. For a widow, however, it was something disgusting that people would not discuss. She would be the object of pity and left alone. Guy had ordered her to survive. Although it killed her inside having to lie about her child's lineage, she knew it was necessary.
Unknown to Maria at that time, her child would be born male and Thomas would be his name. Thomas, like Guy, helped carry a special lineage through history. True heroes were warriors who fought with their minds, bodies, and hearts. Guy Fawkes was one of many in history to take such daring actions on behalf of mankind and he would not be the last.
The Fawkes family line continued, sometimes under different names, sometimes in different locations.
Years later, the universe found itself mirroring history. In London, a man was born, lived, and died. This same man was reborn in fire. This time, he was more than flesh and blood. Like Guy Fawkes, his forefather long before him, he was an idea, a vigilante known as V. And also like Guy Fawkes, there was a woman in his life who gave him the ability to love again, but also gave him a reason other than vengeance, for living, for fighting, for dying.
The story of V and Evey was not that unlike the story of Guy and Maria. Each man saved his woman and taught her to be strong, and each woman gave her man the strength he needed to do what he had to do for the greater good. Stories like that could never have a happy ending.
"There isn't much time. I have something I must give you."
"No!" Evey protested loudly. "No," she stated more calmly. "Just a few more moments, please."
They continued to dance slowly, without speaking and without music. Their bodies were not particularly close, yet there was a spark in the air. It wasn't lust or selfish need.
They had been through the stage of infatuation during many long days of sitting together on the sofa while watching old movies. They had been through the stage of lust when Evey had said goodbye and stopped just shy of kissing the lips of his Fawkes mask. At this moment, however, they were trapped in the stage of inevitability as their hearts overruled their minds and bodies.
As if telepathically linked, both simply stopped dancing and stood gazing at one another. Finally, their hands separated and dropped back to their respective sides.
She wanted to ask him about what he had to give her, but she had a feeling she didn't want to know. She wanted to ask him what was going to happen because of his revolution, but she knew she didn't want to know. She wanted to ask him what would happen to them, but she knew the answer already.
There had always been chemistry between them. Sometimes it was cheeky and mockingly humorous. Sometimes it was cruel and torturous. Sometimes it was silent and comforting. It was never a cloud of desire obscuring their vision. It was never cheap or convenient. It was what a married couple of fifty years shared. It was finding the missing piece of one's being in the odd form of a masked man or the insecure form of a young woman.
Evey could feel V's eyes looking down upon her as she returned his intense stare. The black mesh covering the eyeholes of his mask did not stop her from finding the oft romanticized window to his soul.
Almost instinctively, they both reached out for one another's hand. "Our dance started when it met you, dear Evey, and it is far from complete." The black leather glove felt warm and oddly human to her slightly cold, small hand. Their grip on one another's hands was neither tight nor weak. They did not move their fingers to caress the other's hand. It was not a seduction. They didn't need to manufacture a mood or passion. They were beyond that.
Evey nodded in response. "V, I must know," Evey began, but stopped abruptly and looked at the floor. V's free hand lifted her chin, urging her to look into his hidden eyes once again. It was not an order, nor was it a request. The delicate motion was a reminder that Evey should never cast her eyes downward or away from anyone, especially him. "V," she began again, "What will happen on the sixth?"
V's silence was deafening. He had never shielded her from the truth, no matter how harsh or cruel it may be. "The sun will set on the fifth. The Earth will revolve and the sun shall rise again on the sixth."
In a synchronicity known only to lovers, V and Evey turned, their hands still joined, and slowly walked toward V's bedroom. Evey reached out to open the door to the only room in the Shadow Gallery she had never entered, but V opened it first and chivalrously motioned for her to enter the darkness. When he shut the door, there was darkness so pure that it chilled her like the nearness of death. Evey remained still. Her head was held high. She neither anticipated nor dreaded what would happen in this dark realm. It was the aftermath she feared.
The scraping sound of a match being lit echoed off the walls of the room. The one small candle that V had lit sat in a distant corner of the room. It filled the room with a rusty haze that only allowed Evey to distinguish shapes.
As a husband would do, V scooped Evey into his arms and carried her from the door to his humble bed. In the dark, the Shadow Gallery was not another character in V's production. The sheets had no colorful identity and the pillows failed to contribute to a pattern or decorative scheme. The bed was simply a modest host to the consummation of an ordinary man and woman who loved one another.
Evey removed her clothes as V removed his. Neither was presumptuous enough to violate the individuality of the other. Their joining was about more than the impending conquest of the other's body. Their union was based on their offering of their own bodies to one another. They had shared their minds. They had shared their hearts. They had shared their strength. Now, they were about to share their bodies.
No words were needed and both knew when the other was ready. Evey sat straight up in the middle of the bed until her body intuitively reacted to the larger body hovering over hers. She slowly reclined until she was completely flat on her back. V's shadow covered her like the darkness of an eclipse overshadowing the moon.
Their synchronized breathing started to become more labored and erratic. Evey began to vividly register his tender touch. His hands, soft from being wilted by the scars from the fire that gave birth to him, started their exploration at the tip of her toes and slowly moved upward over every inch of her body. She tensed as his hands slid from her thighs and moved to a place he had never dared to imagine when thinking of Evey. His pace was neither rushed nor teasing. It was not about pleasuring one while teasingly tormenting the other. Instead, it was about their pleasure and their exploration.
"V, I lo—"
V stopped her with a finger to her lips. He assumed she could never love him, even though it was obvious to both that they had a connection. The only thing he knew for certain was that he loved her and fate had given them this moment. He was going to accept it for what it was: a goodbye.
"Evey." He placed his head against her chest and listened to her heart. She wrapped her arms around him and mindlessly traced circles on his back. She could tell he was unmasked when she felt the flesh of his face on her breasts. She did not dare violate his trust by touching his face or his head with her hands. The dark room allowed them to see the way they should see: with their hearts. Physical vision, by eyes or hands, would be a rape of their union.
"I am a man of words," he stated. "Now, however, is not the time for words. When the time and place have arrived, you shall recognize it and seize it. We use words to define that which we are unable to communicate through more natural means. We do not need words for this, Evey. Let this exist as it is."
The process resumed as if it had never been interrupted. There was no discomfort or awkwardness.
Their impending physical wedlock was simply the final step in the bond that the two already shared.
Evey felt an unexpected chill when V suddenly departed from his place atop her. In a ghostly action, a small wind blew out the candle.
Evey suddenly felt very naked and alone in the suffocating darkness when a chilling reality hit her. "This was either a hello or a goodbye, and I don't want to accept what I know is the answer. V…"
A haunting "shh" came from all directions. "Ma quanto agli occhi giunge a trovar loco. Tutte le notti a me suol far piovose. Finchè mia Alba rivien colma di rose" (1). His voice was strained, not from the recent physical exertion, but from sorrow. If melancholy could take liquid form, they would have drowned in it right there, trapped in an already buried coffin until the end of days.
This was not the time to ask what he had said, nor was it the time for him to tell her. Evey sat up in the bed just as the door slid open. The light from their world outside of the bedroom landed directly on Evey's face like a spotlight. "I have something to give you, Evey," V reminded her. His voice was filled with something Evey had never heard in it before: doubt.
V stood waiting for her in the center of the Shadow Gallery. She approached him with neither a smile nor a frown. She was filled with the type of acceptance one has when they only imagine how they will react to the impending disaster. The pain she imagined was not real to her yet and her humored fantasies of happily ever after had not been destroyed yet. She still stood a chance at happiness, as did he.
If he was even slightly hesitant, she could change it all in a heartbeat. Anything could happen in the infinity of a heartbeat, but nothing could happen in the eternity of heartbreak. They already had a Garden. God had offered them a safe, sanctioned apple that would provide a life of joyous harmony in their tree. She was heading for that tree—but would he?
V interrupted her thoughts when he began to put a blue jacket on her, the same blue jacket that had belonged to one of the dummy guards during her imprisonment. His action was a disturbingly domestic scene to her, but she was grateful for the warmth that both the jacket and V's loving gesture provided on her skin and in her heart. Her body was still covered with a thin layer of sweet that was starting to chill her.
V motioned for her to walk with him. As they left the Shadow Gallery, Evey realized V was touching her like a lover or a husband when he ever-so-slightly placed his hand at the small of her back for most of the walk. It was a comfort many couples took for granted, but V and Evey savored the action each time V slipped into such a natural routine with her.
The sun had set, the Earth had indeed revolved, and another sun had risen. After months of silence and solitude, Evey was once again in V's bed. Another natural routine was taking place.
Nine months later, Evey was in V's bed, their marriage bed. It had been their marriage bed before Evey had ever kissed his lips—the lips of his mask. It had been their marriage bed before V had found himself truly conflicted between the Idea's mission and the Man's love. It had been their marriage bed before Evey had pleaded for him to stay with her, to join her in the tree that V had refused to believe waited for him or for them. It had been their marriage bed before V had accepted that she truly cared for him and could not live without him in her life.
Before, Evey had lain in the bed writhing in bliss. Now, she lay writhing in torment.
Before, Evey had lain in the bed dripping with sweat from the sweetest pleasure a woman could endure. Now, she lay dripping with sweat from the greatest agony a woman could endure.
Before, Evey had lain in the bed as he blessed her womb with soft kisses and caresses. Now, she lay feeling her womb erupt brutally from the inside.
Before, Evey had lain in the bed with the moisture between her legs that anticipated an entrance. Now, she lay with the waste between her legs that anticipated an exit.
Before, Evey had lain in the bed groaning primal groans of pleasure. Now, she lay screaming primal screams of absolute misery.
She wasn't sure how many hours had passed. Time had lost meaning nine months ago. She somehow found the strength to sit up and eventually positioned herself in the center of the bed on all fours. Her core was on fire as a large mass charged downward and began to force its way through toward the light.
Red violently covered the white sheets as it had in so many marriage beds before this one and as it will in so many marriage beds after this one. He face was disturbing pale, accented with sweat-covered, bright rosy cheeks that glistened as brightly as the unshed tears in her bloodshot, dark-circled eyes.
In the blink of an eye, everything changed. A part of Evey's mind that she never knew existed took over as a slimy lifeform forcefully ripped through her insides and slithered out through the same doorway that had allowed it to be placed in her body at conception.
When Evey's mind returned to her, she carefully navigated herself into a semi-sitting position as she cautiously inspected the small mass that had caused her so much physical hardship. She cleared its nose and mouth, and it released a quick loud cry before becoming silent once again. The child's personality was clearly that of its father: dramatic, opinionated, and prone to silent brooding.
The candles in the dark room all flickered at once as if a familiar gust of wind had disturbed them. When Evey looked at the face of the child she held in her hands, the child still attached to her body through the life-giving umbilical cord, she saw something that she had never seen with her physical eyes.
The naked creature in her hands was the product of a union between two lovers who said goodbye before ever having the chance to say hello. This creature, small and vulnerable in a world of big and dangerous things, was part of a special line dating back to 1605 and even further back than that.
In this child's face, she saw her lover's mortal face. Despite her tears, Evey smiled.
V had been right. The sun had set, the Earth had revolved, and finally, after Evey had never expected to see it again, she saw the sun rise once more. And yes, the Dawn had been brimming with roses exactly as he had promised.
(1) From John Milton's Sonnet V, lines 12-14: "But that part that finds a place in my eyes makes every night rainy for me, until my Dawn returns brimming with roses."