The authoress does not own V, Evey, V for Vendetta or anything else that is the property of someone else. She is not profiting monetarily from the creation of this story, although it would be great if she was because she just paid her tuition bill last week (eek!). Any similarity to any other story, on this site or any other, is pure coincidence. Please contact me should an incident arise.

My eternal gratitude to firefly, Everybodylovesme15 and Krystal Jaymes for their kind reviews and to Krystal Jaymes for the advice! Thank you to all of you who have stuck with me throughout this story – you are amazing! I hope this ending does not disappoint.

Authoress's note: Again, this chapter will be long. Again, I do apologize. Again, the Muses wouldn't shut up.

Evey herself had no sense of time. Moments blended together into hours, days…weeks? Maybe? The only way Evey knew how much time had passed was the date on the bottom of the television screen.

The BTN reports were horrifying. If Evey had thought the violence had been bad before the fifth, she was sadly mistaken. Those riots had been arm-wrestling matches compared to what was now taking place on the streets of London. In the two weeks since the fall of Parliament, nearly 1,000 people had lost their lives in the fighting. Bits of bodies and dried blood decorated the streets and sidewalks, reminders (and remainders) of the bombings. Norsefire tanks, artillery and aircraft were everywhere; the rebels had managed to seize a few and now nobody knew who was friend and who was foe. The chaos and confusion was mind-boggling.

Beneath the streets in the Gallery, it was a different story. Evey could occasionally hear the chaos of the streets above, although it was deeply muffled by layers of concrete. That suited her fine; she appreciated the near-silence. Noise was offensive and a reminder that life – and London – was getting on without her.

She knew she should be more affected by the happenings on the surface and was deeply ashamed that she was not, but if truth be told, Evey cared for nothing at the moment except for V. To her mind, the world above could wait. It would still be there tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow* – that much was guaranteed. As for V, the same could not be said. Day in, day out, Evey did what she could to try to keep him with her, while the monster of doubt lingered in the back of her mind, taunting her – why was she even trying? She was not a medical professional by any means and she didn't have the skills to save him. Why bother? This was what he wanted, wasn't it?

Still, despite her doubts and after agonizing days of hoping, V grew a breath stronger, then another, then another, then another. He did not seem to be terribly coherent, although his reflexes were the first things to sharpen. He would flinch away from her ministrations, as though he was in pain (well, of course he was! thought Evey). With V's strengthening, Evey had to admit she grew ever more nervous of the moment he would finally awaken. What would he say to her? Would he be angry? Would he throw her out of his home and on to the streets to fend for herself? Those questions and more tumbled through Evey's head as she watched V grow stronger and stronger.

During the first days of his treatment, Evey had left off his clothes, mask and wig, deeming it unnecessary and a waste of time and effort to put them on and take them off over and over, given the number of times she was dressing his wounds. As V healed, though, Evey began to dress him again after tending to his injuries, just in case he should wake. She did not want him to be any more startled than necessary and she hoped that by dressing him she could mitigate his potential shock at the knowledge that Evey had seen him undressed.

Evey was unsure if her strategy would be successful and she spent many an hour pacing the gallery floor, as though all the answers would come to her if she simply walked long enough. Walking did answer one question one morning when Evey crawled out of bed and into the living room to find V fully dressed (thanks to her) and sitting up on the couch, slowly flexing and rolling each joint to test its mobility and moaning in pain when his body protested. Not that Evey enjoyed seeing him in pain – quite the opposite. She hated to see him suffer, but was relieved he was awake and coherent enough to recognize and attempt to control his damaged body.

"V?" she asked softly as she padded through the doorway, stopping several paces inside the door.

V did not speak but merely inclined his head in her direction in silent greeting, continuing his joint rolls and bends.

Evey took a few more tentative steps closer. "V?" she tried again. "Are you alright? How do you feel?"

V was silent for several heartbeats before speaking. "I suppose I am as well as can be expected, given my set of…peculiar…circumstances," he said flatly, still moving.

"Peculiar circumstances? That's all you can think to call this?" Evey was flabbergasted.

"Do you have any better ideas as to a name, considering all that has happened?" Without waiting for an answer, V continued, tone sharp and bitter this time. "I can think of no better phrase. Do you know how many bullets I was shot with, Evey?" He paused, turning in her direction and finally stopping his movement.

Evey shook her head. "No, V. I didn't count when I took them out."

V responded, "Perhaps you did not count them as they exited my person, but I counted as they entered it. There were – "

"Shut up, V! I don't want to know!" Evey's shout echoed through the Gallery.

Again, V nodded in her direction. "As you wish," he said, turning away and holding his hands up to watch his fingers flex.

Striding toward him, Evey yanked his hand away from his face so he could see her and snapped, "What is wrong with you, V?"

"There is quite a lot wrong with me, Evey," V snapped in return. "For starters, this body of mine in its sorry state. You seem to be familiar with this, although I cannot say I am pleased with how."

Evey cut him off. "Yes, you are not in the best of shape, but you are alive, V! Aren't you happy for that? And yes, V, I am well familiar with your body now and I am sorry that displeases you. But surely you are smart enough to understand that it is through that familiarity that you live and breathe. You're welcome."

With that, Evey turned on her heel and stalked out of the room.

They did not speak to each other again until evening when it was time to change V's numerous bandages. When Evey returned to the living room, fresh dressings in hand, she was surprised (although she shouldn't have been) to see V gone. A glance down the hallway revealed his bedroom door to be cracked. Evey tiptoed down the hall, peeked through the door and saw V struggling to wrap a bandage around an arm. Evey pushed the slightly squeaky door open and said, "Let me do that for you."

"No," V said bitterly.

"V, you're struggling. You need help. Let me do that for you," Evey repeated.

With a speed and strength Evey did not know he possessed, V leapt over the bed, shoved Evey out into the hallway and slammed the door.

More than once throughout the night, Evey had knocked on V's locked door and called his name, wanting to know if he was alright or needed help. Finally, at daybreak a very angry Evey Hammond had had enough. Storming down the hallway, she was prepared to use any means necessary to open that door, down to breaking through it with any of the numerous large and heavy objects scattered throughout the Gallery (perhaps that statue she hated?).

That wouldn't be necessary, however. As Evey rounded the corner, the door was open and she could see V sitting up in bed, undressed save for his bandages, arms around his legs and forehead resting on his knees. Evey, completely disarmed by this sight, forgot her anger and raced across the room to where he sat.

"V? V? What is it? What's wrong? Talk to me!" she demanded.

V sat motionless and Evey thought he hadn't heard her. She opened her mouth to speak again when he looked up with a pained expression and asked, "Why did you do it, Evey? Why did you bring me here instead of loading me onto my train?"

Evey froze, momentarily stunned by his question, before returning, "V, why do you ask this question? Do you truly not know the answer, truly? I brought you back here because I love you. I love you and I wanted you alive and with me."

V looked away. "That is selfish, Evey."

"Yes, it is," she countered, "but I don't care. I think I can afford to be selfish. You didn't need to die for your revolution, V. I hope you know that. And I meant every word I said to you on the platform that night. I didn't want you to go, not away from the tunnels nor away from me. I love you, V."

V's forehead returned to his knees as Evey spoke. Both were silent for a long time before Evey asked, "That's not what's bothering you, is it, V?" At that question, V flinched and shrank back, as if to protect himself from…what?

"V? Talk to me? Please?" Evey pleaded softly. "I don't know what's wrong and I can't help you if you won't tell me. Is it me? What did I do?"

Almost inaudibly, V spoke. "It is both you and me, Evey. I am upset about both of us."

Evey was confused. "What?"

V drew the blankets further over himself before answering, "There was a reason I did not want you to see my face, Evey. There was a reason I did not allow you to remove the mask that night. Seeing me as you have, as you do now, surely you understand why. 'I have no right to beauty. I have been condemned to masculine ugliness.'** But I also meant what I said before. This face is not my hands; these hands are not my hands. This body is not mine. It is someone else's, and I have merely borrowed it for awhile."

Evey shook her head, a bit surprised by V's vanity. "I cannot help with you with that feeling of disconnect, V. But you must understand that I am not offended by the way you look. If I was, I wouldn't be here." She paused, knowing she needed to phrase her next words very carefully. "You are different, yes. You think you are ugly. But 'beauty can be coaxed out of ugliness.'"*** Again, Evey paused, waiting for a reaction. She received none, and so continued, "'Beauty? To me it is a word without sense because I do not know where its meaning comes from, nor where it leads to.'"****

Finally, an answer from V. "Dr. SunWolf and Picasso. I see you have been reading."

"Yes, V, I have. But don't change the subject. I wasn't finished. V, no matter what you may think, seeing you hasn't changed a thing. I still love you and I do not see you as you see yourself. I understand that now, and I hope you understand it, too." Without waiting for a response, Evey said, "Now, will you let me change your bandages?"

Slowly, V held out an arm and nodded.

The frigid tension between Evey and V began to thaw, though not quickly enough for Evey. She genuinely tried to understand V's point of view, though she still had a bit of difficulty understanding his reluctance in allowing her to see him. For lack of a better phrase, the damage was already done. Evey could not unsee what she had already seen, although she was certain V wished she could.

In this, she was absolutely correct – V did wish he could make her forget what that damaged body looked like, though he also knew that was impossible. Part of his discomfort stemmed from the fact that he much preferred to see himself clad in black fabric and a Guy Fawkes mask. To his mind, that was what he looked like. That was his body. The ruined shell underneath was merely a mannequin, a form, for the clothes that covered him, much as the skin is a covering for the bones underneath. Such a disconnect was difficult to reconcile and his injuries only heightened that difficulty because it was the mannequin that was damaged, not V. But if it was only the mannequin that was damaged, and not V himself, then why V's discomfort in letting Evey see? The cycle of questions was endless, self-defeating, and got V absolutely nowhere. He turned over the same questions in his mind day after day, and each question he asked led back to one he had asked before and been unable to answer.

It was infuriating.

V attempted to turn his mind to other things, with mixed results. Instead of trying to solve the problem of why he did not wish to be seen, he decided to try and figure out what to do about it now that such an incident had occurred. The obvious solution, and the one he was most comfortable with, was nothing at all and to simply let things be as they would. Perhaps that was the coward's way out, but for the moment it was simply the solution V could tolerate the best.

The pair settled into a routine – wake, tend to V, breakfast, the BTN or the Internet, lunch, more BTN or Internet, dinner, evening, tend to V, bed. The evenings were what Evey found most enjoyable. It was then that they silenced the television, switched off the computer and simply enjoyed each other's company. Sometimes that entailed each quietly reading a chosen book or debating a scholarly article. Lately, Evey had managed to pull V out of his shell enough to get him to teach her how to play chess – he the black pieces and she the white. During these evenings as V taught her a bit about strategy, Evey began to understand more how V's mind worked, why he did the things that he did. Of course she knew by now that her initial opinion of him – that he was a madman – was wrong, but she hadn't realized exactly how wrong until he began to teach her how to think several steps ahead of your opponent and deceive and manipulate him into doing what you wanted him to do. That's what V had been doing. Sutler had been V's puppet throughout the entire year prior to the fall of Parliament, though he hadn't known.

It was also during these evenings that V learned more about Evey, as well. He had already known she was a closeted intellectual (dangerous under Sutler's regime) and her first stay in his home had awakened a dormant love of learning, but he hadn't realized how deep that love ran until now. She soaked up everything she possibly could – art, music, history, politics, literature – especially literature. In spirit, there was a small corner of her that was still about seven years old and enjoyed silly games, fancy dolls, and those ancient Disney princess movies. While he did not share her enthusiasm of such subjects, V was glad to see that years under Norsefire hadn't completely killed her spirit like it had under so many of their fellow countrymen.

As V improved, the situation in London did as well. The violence in the streets slowly diminished and the gruesome messes were cleaned up. While she still wasn't entirely safe in the streets, Evey could now leave the Gallery if she so desired (V practically threw her out one afternoon in an attempt to prove he could care for himself) without fear of being blown to bits. Increasingly, Evey and V's evening conversations turned to the future of the country. They debated the merits and drawbacks of each party, person or figure trying to take over in the power vacuum left by Norsefire's fall. They both agreed that their greatest concern was the installment of a government that would use the chaos in the country to establish a Norsefire-like dictatorship, and if V's research was correct, more than one candidate for power had such a motive. Neither Evey nor V had a solution for if one of those parties took power because, as V put it, all of London believed their revolutionary hero dead and he didn't think he could possibly lead another revolt in such a state. Evey's response was that he could, in fact, lead another overthrow and model himself after the mythical phoenix, to which she received only a scoff.

Evey found a possible solution to the problem one afternoon about town, though she was unsure if it really was possible, probable, or even a good idea, and so decided to discuss the matter with V.

Evey's silence after dinner was V's first sign that something was amiss. It made him uneasy because he knew Evey's intuition and perception were sharp, so if she believed there was a problem there almost assuredly was.

"Evey?" V asked after noticing Evey drying the same dinner plate for the third time. He received no response, and so tried again. "Evey!"

"Oh!" Evey started, dropping the plate. V suddenly appeared at her side, catching the plate before it shattered on the floor. "I'm sorry, V."

"Such an apology is quite unnecessary, my Evey. But I must ask, what is it that has occupied you so?" he responded.

Evey was quiet, drying another dish and placing it in the rack. She seemed to think for a moment before answering, "I had a rather…interesting…conversation today and I don't know what to make of it. I was wondering if maybe you would."

"I shall try my best," V promised with a small bow.

Evey put the dishtowel in her hand down and leaned against the cabinet. "I know we've talked at great length about the different factions trying to take power right now. The political arena is so chaotic it hurts your head to think about it. There are so many possible solutions, yet no one consensus on who would be best." Evey paused, chewing on her lip for a moment before continuing, "But there is one person that seems to be gaining popularity. I'm not sure if they're the best solution since they have next to no political experience or know-how, but they seem to be the most liked."

"Who is this person?" V asked.

"Me." Evey said simply.

"You are brilliant in many aspects, my dear, but I'm afraid I don't quite follow. To what, or whom, do I – we – owe this idea?" V asked.

Evey explained. "I was approached in the park today by a crowd asking that I make a run for the new…High Chancellor, Prime Minister, whatever you call it. The new political system is so rudimentary that nobody has a proper title or procedure for anything. Anyway, they think that since I got swept up in your revolution that I'd be the best person for the new job. But I don't know, V! I've got no head for politics – I never have. I don't understand the ins and outs of running a country and I don't even know where to start. What if I make a mistake? Politics, foreign relations, economics…I just don't know if I can do it. I don't know if I want to do it."

"Wanting to and being able to are two very different things, Evey," V said. "Whether you want to or not, that is something only you can decide. However, I must disagree with you and say you are more than capable of taking the position. Perhaps you don't have the knowledge of politics that some of your hypothetical opponents have, but you are not lacking in common sense or the desire to learn. You may consider it unfortunate to be thrown headfirst into government, where there is the very real potential for mistakes with massive repercussions – "

Evey interrupted. "You're not helping me with that statement, V."

V smiled gently behind the mask (Evey couldn't see it, but he hoped she could feel it) and continued, "Evey, you will most certainly make mistakes. All politicians do. But as I have already said, I believe you would be able to handle it. In fact, I would be most delighted if you would take the position, but please, do not do it just to suit me. You must do what you feel is best for you and best for this country."

Evey made a face and said sarcastically, "Best for the country? No pressure, V. Thanks a lot."

"You are most welcome, Evey," he said with a chuckle. "But please, do not immediately write yourself off due to your perceived inadequacies."

Evey chose to follow V's advice, but in her own fashion. Carefully, she researched each candidate until she found the one she thought to be the best before publicly endorsing her. Several months later, Evey's chosen candidate won a rather chaotic and fragmented election and immediately offered Evey a position in the new government. While Evey still had absolutely no desire to be the main political figurehead, she would gladly take a back seat to someone who actually knew what she were doing. Besides, as the leader of the new England, Evey would have little to no time to spend with V, but in her new position she was guaranteed plenty of time to spend in any manner she wished – and she wished to spend nearly all of it with V.

One Sunday afternoon after a particularly long game of chess, Evey sat back in her chair and sighed.

"You'll need to get back home soon, Evey. You have several meetings lined up for tomorrow and you'll need to prepare for them," V reminded her gently.

Evey was silent for a moment before responding, "Actually, V, I have everything I need for tomorrow all ready down here. Can't I just stay here for the night?"

V was a little taken aback. "Of course, Evey. And when morning breaks, should you find you have forgotten something, it will be my greatest pleasure to fetch it for you."

Again, Evey was silent for a moment before saying, "You know how much stuff I've brought down here the last couple of weeks, V. Boxes of my things are everywhere. There's a reason for that." She paused nervously.

"And what is the reason for that, love?" V asked.

Evey chewed her lip for a moment before answering. "I've gotten rid of my apartment. I've been spending so much time here that it just doesn't pay off to keep it. I don't like it anymore, anyway. Too many bad memories and things I would rather forget. It's not like here. Here I have…well, you. You and everything I could every want. Actually, you are everything I could ever want. I was hoping you'd let me stay here. 'Stay' as in 'move in.' But if you don't want me to, that's okay. There's a little place a couple of blocks away I saw last week that would do me just fine. But I'd rather be here. If that's okay."

The width of V's grin matched the grin on the Guy Fawkes mask. "Why, yes, Evey. You may stay here for as long as you want."


Authoress's note: Well, there it is! I hope you enjoyed reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it! A V for Vendetta one-shot will be posted in the coming days!

Quote credits:

*"tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" – Macbeth, Act 5 Scene 5, line 19

**"I have no right to beauty. I have been condemned to masculine ugliness." – Renee Vivien

***"Beauty can be coaxed out of ugliness." – Dr. SunWolf

****"Beauty? To me it is a word without sense because I do not know where its meaning comes from, nor where it leads to." – Pablo Picasso