Eyelids pressed tight, you remember - agony and fear and fury ripping through the air 'till you thought your ears might burst, the great engulfing heat that shoved and pressed through your skin 'till you weren't sure you weren't dancing through Hell itself, and it didn't matter after a while because by then you'd forgotten the difference. Existence narrowed, blurred, from you against him to man against man and then just... life. Life brighter and clearer than anything else in this world, in greater measure than that granted by any number of other worldly pleasures. For a time it was the only real thing, and you followed it as a holy man to his calling.
How times have changed.
The passing of that time of time is marked in flinches, in the slow pressure of half-moons into palms and the sweep of eyelashes against cheeks, as if sound could be blocked along with light. Time drips onto the tiles with your blood, a rhythmic tribute to your earlier foolishness.
Your hand hasn't slipped from a whetstone since you were a boy. Still, you should have known better.
An animal howl shrieks up the corridor, roars toward you on wings of tears and fear and all your weapons are nothing, not bullets nor blade nor the raw rage ripping its way up your throat and you have nothing left, nothing to fight the quivering helplessness that seems to have you neatly hamstrung, slipping down to tickle at the backs of your knees before leaping up to twine itself through your ribcage.
It's only as you realize you're standing in a doorway, the door sitting crookedly against the wall behind you, that you truly take in the silence. It sits heavy in the air, blocks your breath for an eternity that ends when your Lady rolls her head, peers over your sword and into your eyes. Her blinding smile cracks the sweat and tears and bloody handprints dried on her face, and you find yourself drifting inexorably toward her.
She holds out her arms, and huge blue eyes lock onto yours. A tiny hand reaches out from its bundle, wraps itself around your outstretched fingers and squeezes. You curl your fingers around it and gently, carefully, you squeeze back.