Warning: This may be spoilery if you haven't completed the series. Just so you know.
"When the End is Just the Beginning"
A Tomorrow When the War Began fanfic
From Fi's perspective
It was a warm day, warm enough to go swimming the creek.
Warm enough to sleep in the shade under the big stringy bark gum trees, throw sand at one another and forget about what the past year and a bit had done to each and every one of us.
It was interesting, up until now; I'd always wondered why it was that old people who lived through the world wars, particularly the returned services, never wanted to speak about their experiences.
But now I knew, and we were avoiding talking about it like it was the plague.
I couldn't bring myself to be the one to mention it first. I could tell Homer was itching to ask Ellie about what had happened to her in those last few weeks when we'd all been separated from her, but he wasn't sure how to ask.
We'd all thought she was dead. I can't really explain the feeling that settled in the pit of my stomach when she never showed after the attack on the gas station. We waited in the area for two days, which was a real gamble, considering how much damage we'd done and how fiercely the enemy soldiers had been pursuing us.
I remember refusing to leave the place we'd hid our packs. We noticed Ellie's pack was gone, and that gave us some confidence that she managed to get away. The last time we'd seen her, or rather, heard her, was when we were running for our lives through the bush, chased by a group of nearly twenty enemy soldiers and she distracted them. She must have heard me cry out. I couldn't help it when the bullets started showering upon us, I was so scared, especially for little Gavin who's bravado had started slipping the moment Ellie's bomb in the Gas Station's fuel tanks had been successful and blew everything within a k's radius to high heaven.
Gavin was trailing, even though Homer was trying to urge him, push him even, into keeping up with the rest of us. Kevin was in the lead and Lee joined us on our sprint away from the site of destruction, but there had been no sign of Ellie until that moment, until the gunfire had started. And that's when we heard her yell out something, I don't know what it was, although Homer said she yelled out some form of profanity which I refuse to repeat, or believe. Ellie had a foul mouth, but I don't think she would have said what Homer had said, it was too crude, and I even cringed as he had said it.
After Ellie had caused that distraction, a good portion of the soldiers had veered off to follow her. I'd say she'd have had at least twelve or fifteen soldiers on her tail and I prayed to god that she could out run, outwit them, I didn't even want to imagine an alternative.
After we'd been chased down nearly all night by the remaining soldiers, it appeared Lee had come up with a plan. The soldiers disappeared into the darkness, one by one. Steadily, the thrashing noises of them following us through the bush became softer and quieter, until they were non-existent, and Lee emerged from behind us and told us we could stop running.
I'd never been more scared of Lee until then, except maybe for the time he'd killed the Soldier that had followed us from Harvey's Hero's camp. There was darkness inside of Lee that I knew I'd never ever be able to reach or know about. I don't think I would ever be able to go to that place, or exist in his kind of world. I was almost glad that it was him though, that he was the one so capable of killing. It meant it wasn't me, it meant it wasn't Ellie, or Homer, the two people I cared most about in my little circle of guerrilla fighting friends.
I know that sounds a little harsh, I mean, I cared about Lee, and Kevin, and of course, Gavin, but Ellie and I had been friends for a very long time, and after losing Corrie, and Robyn, two of our other girlfriends that we had had lost since the start of this horrible war, she was the closest thing I had to a sister. Losing Ellie meant I lost nearly half of myself. If Homer hadn't have been there for me afterwards, I'm sure I would have just given up, surrendered right there and then, not caring about the consequences.
Homer, my Homer... Gosh, it sounds a little cheesy when I think of him like that, but I don't care, Homer had been my biggest comfort, and my biggest problem since before the war had even began. He had always been a show off in school, a ratbag, a devil, at least, that's how the teachers had always described him. The local police called him a nuisance, but when we first got together, at the beginning of our camping trip, right into the depths of that well hidden crater of bush known to the locals as Hell; he'd been the sweetest, most caring and soft hearted boy I'd ever met, despite all the teasing he copped from the rest of the group.
We'd been through a lot together in this war. My friendship with him, was obviously so different to the friendship I had with the girls.
I looked across at him now. He lay on his back, hands under his head, his eyes closed as he breathed in the summer air, completely relaxed. I traced the contours of his body with my eyes, starting from his feet, right to the tip of his nose and felt a warm sensation creep into my belly. A combination of both love and lust I think. I never got sick of looking at him, and unbeknown to the others, we both had plenty of opportunities throughout the war to appreciate each other physically. I hadn't even shared that with Ellie. I know she wondered whether or not we'd gone all the way, but neither of us had said anything to anyone, it was our secret, something we enjoyed keeping to ourselves. I think Lee had cottoned onto us though, I couldn't be sure. Everyone knew that Ellie and Lee had had sex though, unfortunately, Ellie liked to make a lot of noise and when you're in the middle of a war, hiding out in an abandoned house in the middle of a city filled with people who are hunting you down to shoot you, ANY unusual noise is easily detected. We hadn't said anything, but our looks definitely let her know the next day that we knew.
Homer and I were a little more discreet, and careful. But he did things to my body, my heart and my head that no one else had ever done before and as I watched him now, I had the urge to snuggle up to his chest and breath in the scent of him, taste the salt from his skin on my lips and drink him in completely.
I found myself blushing, and tore my eyes away. Now was not the time, not with Kevin snoring so close by. Ellie and Lee had gone for a swim, but seeing Lee's clothes on the opposite bank of the creek, I knew they'd be doing more than swimming.
That brought me back to thinking of Ellie and the terrible emotions I'd felt when we thought she'd been captured, or even killed by the soldiers that night. When we were told that the war was over, we were being held as Prisoners of War in an enemy camp. That in itself is another long story, but when we'd been told that Ellie was alive and waiting to see us with our parents, we'd all be overjoyed. I know I can speak for the whole group of us, when I say finding out Ellie was waiting for us, was almost better than knowing our parents had survived the war and were waiting for us back in Wirrawee.
When I had first saw her, I was pretty teary, I grabbed her and hugged her so tightly as soon as I stepped off the bus. I think my parents may have been a little put out by the fact that she was the first one I went to, but she was standing at the bus door and was first within my reach, that's what I had told them anyway.
Now, three days later, here we were. All together again, except for Gavin. He was with Social Services in Stratton, trying to find his family.
We'd all just about had enough of our families, which was funny, because after wanting nothing more than to be with them and see them safe for the past year, we all couldn't wait to get away from them, at least for a little while. I know my little sister Victoria was driving me insane and my parents were annoying me more now, than they ever did before the war. I think its maybe because I've had to do so much growing up, had to become so independent. I know it's sad to say it, but I didn't need my parents anymore to make me a person I could be comfortable with, I didn't particularly care for their approval the way I used to. War changes us all I guess, it made me wonder how Robyn or Corrie, or Chris would have changed, had they lived to see peace, made it through to this moment.
Just before my thoughts focused on the morbid side of things, Ellie returned, splashing us with the cold water as she came charging up from down the creek. Lee followed closely behind and all of a sudden our quiet, relaxing minutes in the shade had become chaos.
Kevin woke with a start once Ellie had wrung her hair out over his bare shoulders, he swore loudly before getting up and chasing her back into the creek, sending Ellie shrieking back towards the water, but not before slinging some mud in Homer's direction. He blinked open his eyes carefully, and wiped the brown muck from his face looking disgusted. He looked at Ellie, who was being drowned by Lee and Kevin and then he looked at me. I could see the sparkle of mischief in his eyes as he glanced from the mud in his hand, and back to me.
"No..." I whispered hoarsely, but grinning like an idiot. I bunched my muscles up, ready to leap away, but he was too quick for me. Within an instant he had jumped towards me and started smearing the wet dirt all over my face. I squealed, wriggled out of his giant arms and took off for the creek with him close behind.
The summer air was filled with laughter, shouting and high-pitched shrieks of protest. For a moment, it was as if the war had never existed, it was like those first carefree days, playing in the creek in Hell. I came up from the water after being dunked by Lee and took a few seconds to watch my friends happy. I knew, even if they didn't, that this moment was something that I was going to cling to in the weeks, months, years to come. Even if the war was over, and we could start to rebuild our lives with our families and build new relationships with new people, that this... this was only the beginning; the beginning of the end.
Notes: I've tried to remain true to the characters, at least, my perception of who they are now that they've come from the war. I did take a little bit of liberty when it came to Homer/Fi's relationship, although Marsden never really went into any great detail about it, seeing as the story was all from Ellie's perspective. I needed to satisfy my inner Homer/Fi ship, I hope that doesn't ruin it for you. Reviews appreciated! :)