Traumatised, aching and in pain, Evey cautiously pushed open the heavy steel door at the end of the corridor. Her hands were torn to shreds, her feet were sore and her whole body trembled. She hadn't felt this afraid since the Finger Men had black bagged her parents all those years ago while she covered her eyes and hid beneath her bed. So many years ago, how time had passed in a heartbeat.

She did not expect to see what greeted her eyes next. She had imagined guards with dogs, guns and another black bag. She expected to be set upon and dragged to another cell and for the torturing to continue. More starvation, electrocutions, pain and unimaginable suffering. To be condemned to death by firing squad all over again. But what she saw couldn't have been further from that scenario in her head. As she stepped tentatively through the doorway, she couldn't comprehend what she was seeing.

She saw colours; rich deep red velvet throws, soft yellow candlelight, hues of cobalt blue, pea green and Seville orange from glorious paintings. She saw heavy marble busts and tall alabaster jars. She saw well painted portraits of dead people she didn't recognise and a beautiful mahogany grand piano. Dusty books, immaculate suits of armour and twisted sculptures. She saw thick-set stone walls covered in exquisite tapestries, old film posters and glass cases of exotic butterflies. Released from her grey prison into a world of colours and sights that overindulged the senses. But far from being elated that she had finally escaped her captors, she knew she had walked into the hands of her one true tormentor.

A wave of nausea passed over her as she allowed her liquid eyes to scan the cavernous room. Evey could feel the hot bile rising in her throat as her brain took in all the things she was seeing. She raised her hands to her dry mouth to stop vomit from spewing forth. Tears began to well in her eyes, balancing on the lower rims of her lids like tiny glass beads. She could feel the warmth draining from her body and her skin lose its youthful peachy glow. She felt as grey and dull as the rags she was dressed in. Her heart sank and she felt its beating slow to an undetectable rate. She watched as her breaking heart slipped from her and onto the cold stone floor, then shatter into a thousand irreparable pieces. She felt numb. Was this a dream? A cruel trick played by her own mind after so long in solitary incarceration? Had she died? And this was her final resting place, the one place she longed to be above all others? Or had Creedy's men played the harshest and most heinous of pranks conceivable for their own twisted amusement?

Then suddenly, she heard something. That voice, that music, that song. The song she had heard when she was first introduced into her saviour's home.

"Now you say you're lonely
You cry the whole night through
Well, you can cry me a river, cry me a river
I cried a river over you…"

The haunting lyrics resonated around the Shadow Gallery, and it wasn't until he stepped into the sombre light that Evey began to believe it.

There he was. The man who saved her. Her Saviour. The man she had dreamed of in her dark lonely cell all those months. The man she believed would truly do her no harm. The man she though of first thing in a morning and the last thing at night. The man she imagined herself loving above all others. The man she wanted to hold close to her, to press against her, on top of her. The man she had agreed to die for when she refused to reveal his whereabouts. His dark hair groomed immaculately, his crisp black clothing absolutely impeccable and that mask. The smiling mask with dead black eyes and rosy apple cheeks. The mask of porcelain white with that taunting expression. He stood as he always did; hands clasped together behind his back, feet shoulder width apart, shoulders back and head tilted to the right in playful curiosity.

There he was. The man. The mystery. V.

Evey could barely speak. She couldn't form the words she wanted to say. But then again, there were no words to convey how she felt. She felt small and insignificant. Dwarfed by the grandeur of the Shadow Gallery and the God that stood before her. She felt foolish and ridiculous. She had been fed a lie and she had swallowed it whole. She went limp and she began to feel faint. Evey swayed a little and her pallor started to drain again. In one fluid movement, she began to fall to her knees; V rushed forward and caught her, stumbling onto one knee himself. She clutched him desperately, burying her fingers into his smart black tunic. She held herself close to him, pressing her fragile body against his. She was as a child clinging to its parent. She raised her shaved head slowly and stared at him with hollow eyes. Stared into those black voids he called eyes. She searched his face for a sign of emotion, any emotion, but received only the same god damn smile. How can a mask convey how he feels? He wears it to conceal his identity, his emotions and feelings. She knew she would not know what expression was behind that mask, and at this thought her shattered heart splintered a little bit more.

But from behind his mask, V gazed at her. He watched as her eyes burned like orbs of fire in their sockets. He felt her gaze piercing him, into his very soul, branding him. He was lost in her huge brown eyes. They resembled the eyes of a doll whose own had been cruelly ripped out. He watched as she searched his face for answers; she would find none. He saw her hot tears course down her face and melt into her clothing. As he clutched her to him, he felt her shoulders shake as she cried. He hated himself for what he had put her through. His actions against her had pushed him to the very edge of his sanity and humanity. How many nights had he woken and wanted to stop what he was doing to her? When he starved her it killed him. When he beat her he died a little more. He questioned his motive many times, yet still he found the same answer. That look, that expression on her face now. It was as if he had plunged a dagger into her heart and he could see the look of sheer horror and shock engraved in her face. He had wanted to end this torture months ago, yet he didn't. But it was done now, it could not be reversed, there was only a path to be made forward now.

"Why? Why V?" Evey cried. V sighed heavily and took Evey's head in one gloved hand. He stared sadly at her through the black holes in his mask.

"You will never understand why Evey, so I will not attempt to explain the whys and the wherefores. Simply know that I did what I did for the better good of yourself. What I did was Machiavellian I know, but I did it for a reason Evey." He spoke softly, self assuredly.

"You're right V, I don't understand. I don't understand how someone who once saved my life can push me so close to death." She sobbed.

"And thus I clothe my naked villainy, with old odd ends stolen forth from holy writ, and I seem a saint when at most I play the devil." V sighed.

"Don't quote your Shakespearean shit to me V! You could be the devil himself I don't care, you hurt me, in more ways than you can imagine. Not just when you beat me, or when you doused me in ice water, or when you stopped my food. You hurt me deeper than any physical thing you could have ever done to me. You shaved my head, robbed me of any dignity I may have had, you killed my dreams, you broke me V, but I'm still here."

"I don't understand Evey." V said quizzically.

And if truth were told neither did Evey. She didn't understand any of this. Why V had done this to her. Why he had taken her and broken her. Why he had pushed her so close to the edge of sanity. How long had this charade been going on? Days? Weeks? Months? Had he been getting sick kicks out of watching her suffer? Out of watching her pray? Watching her beg for mercy, is that what turned him on? Had he rescued her all those months ago from physical rape at the hands of the Finger Men just to mentally rape her himself? Evey didn't know, there were no answers right now and she doubted there ever would be.

But Evey was stronger. She thought back to those lonely isolated nights in her tiny cell, thought back to what she prayed for. It wasn't food, or escape, or even to kill her captors. The only thing that she wished for was that she might look upon V's face one last time. The thought of death didn't faze her, she had accepted it, she would die so that V may live. But the thought of not seeing V again was what truly made her fearful. That she would close her eyes and know she would never look upon the face of the man she had fallen so deeply for, the man she loved like no other That she would die and he would never know how she really felt about him.

She had only one choice to make now; do I forgive? Or do I condemn? But Evey knew the answer had already been formed before the question came.

"Can't you see! I don't understand what you did to me or why you did it, but I don't care V, I forgive you. Being in that cell made me realise something. It made me realise that there was nothing anyone could offer me to make me betray you. I didn't know it was you V, I truly thought I was going to die. When I was offered total immunity and a new life for your whereabouts, I said no. When I was threatened with death unless I gave them your real name I again said no. Even minutes before my death was due to be ordered I still said nothing. I was willing to die for you V. For the man you are, the mystery you portray and the ideal you represent." Evey sobbed, her tears streaming down her flushed face. She continued.

"I would have died for you, I would follow you till the ends of the Earth to be near you, can't you see that? Don't you understand? You must have heard me V, praying? I prayed I would see you again, to be with you. There is nothing you could do to make me stop the way I feel for you V. I would protect you and your idea forever. You are my Edmond Dantes." Evey said, tears continuing to fall down her face. She raised her delicate hand and caressed his cool porcelain mask. Then he knew in that moment, how sweet it must be to be loved by this exquisite creature.

Although Evey could not see, beneath the mask V's expression had changed. His face lightened, eyes widened and the corners of his mouth curl up in an ever so slight smile. This girl, this angel before him was giving him all she had to offer. Her love, her life, all to him. After everything he had done to her, after everything he had put her through, still she returned to him. He had beaten her, tortured her and hurt in her in so many ways, but she was still here, with him now. This creature before him was the most precious of all things to him now. Not the outlawed Venus De Milo, or the banned Wurlitzer, or even the reviled Madonna of the Rocks. For these treasures simply could not compare to the one he held in his arms now. There was no painting as lovely, no sculpture more beautiful or a colour as radiant than the girl he called Evey, his beautiful little Evey. There were no words he form, no song he could sing and no work of art he could ever paint that would ever reveal just how much he loved and adored his little Evey. He had saved her once in a dark and dank alley. And now she had saved him, here in his own home, saved him from himself and a lifetime of loneliness. She was his Shadow Gallery.

V was relishing holding this beauty to him. So long had he been starved of an affectionate touch, especially from a woman. He had forgotten how good it felt to hold a woman so close to him. Evey was amazing, astounding, a work of art, she was his everything now, she always had been. He would never let her go. He felt different now, strange in a way. He knew his cause had meaning and the actions he would take in only a few months time would still go ahead, nothing could stop that. But now they had even more significance. He didn't want his precious little Evey growing up and living in this hideous world any longer. He didn't want her to be frightened or cold any more. He wanted her to laugh, that sweet laugh. He wanted to watch her dancing in sunlight and to see her expressions when he introduced her to all those wonderful things that had been outlawed. Real chocolate, Red Admiral butterflies, so many symphonies and Convallaria. That sweet little white flower with the meaning of the name so apt for Evey; the return of happiness. He wanted to make sure she knew that she was the return of his happiness.

Slowly, V got to his feet, pulling Evey to hers also. He gently wiped her face free from tears with the sleeve of this jacket. Tenderly, he stroked her cheek and silently thought how heart breakingly beautiful this graceful little creature was. Evey smiled at V; her smile lit up the entire room like the rising sun. In a rapid motion, he took her in his arms and felt strangely comforted as her arms draped around his neck. This Venus, his Aphrodite clung to him, needed him as he wanted to be needed. She gave him the love and affection he had craved so long, and for that he adored her. She belonged to him, exclusively. She was his possession, one he would guard with his life. He owned her now. His black shoes clicked on the stone flags as he carried her to his room. Carefully he laid her down on his soft bed, his bed. She looked so perfect; the curve of her body, she had the face of an angel.

"V…" She smiled coyly, looking at him with her big doe eyes. She could sense his expression behind that attractive mask.

"Yes little Evey?"

"And now you say you love me, well, just to prove you do…" She sang, her voice sweeter than any bird of paradise.

'Julie London, how beautiful' he thought. With that eternally playful look of curiosity upon his mask, V gazed at Evey in awe. Underneath it he smiled like he never thought possible. Then he turned slowly, and closed the heavy bedroom door.