Disclaimer: I own none of it.
Author Note: Spoilers for series four. Written before series five aired.
A Lady's Accoutrements, or What Lady Emily Merchant Carried With Her On Her Travels Through the Golden Light
1. Stiletto blade
Emily carried the blade with her everywhere, usually hidden and always within easy reach. Attacks could come at any moment and she had learned the importance of being prepared and striking quickly. The knife had originally belonged to Sylvia, another member of the group until her horrific and sudden death in a ravaging sandstorm. Emily had helped bury her and then taken the blade for herself. Another lesson learned was that whatever was left behind shouldn't be wasted. Sometimes, it was all that they had left of their friends.
When Ethan locked Emily in a coffin, she discovered almost immediately that the blade was gone. She pounded her bound fists against the coffin lid – furious at losing something so practical and helpful and at losing that piece of her friend. The only piece left. Her breaths shook when Matt later handed the knife back to her, and she pressed her thumb gratefully to the handle, at being able to hold Sylvia's blade again.
She was careful with it after that. She stared at it and thought about Ethan and how grief could push you over a very dangerous edge.
She didn't always notice when her tight grip on the blade caused the cold metal to cut her skin.
Emily had walked through all of her golden light travels in a pair of strong and elegant black leather boots. She had brought other shoes too, but she'd quickly learned that the boots were the most practical and comfortable ones to wear every day. She hadn't washed them since the fourth world that the golden light had brought them to. That was when she'd realised that getting home was not going to be so simple after all and that sheer survival was the more pressing problem. She began leaving the dust of worlds on her boots, to remind herself of where she'd been, of all that she had seen and lost. There was a claw mark on the right one, near the heel, where a creature had grasped her briefly as she had struggled away.
Some of her other shoes had been left behind months ago when surprise creature attacks had meant abandoning a lot of luggage. She'd used other pairs as weapons, successfully or otherwise. There'd been floods, stampedes, fistfights, so much death and creatures more strange than Emily could ever have imagined before.
She and her boots had survived it all.
It was empty now, but Emily still carried it with her anyway. It used to carry soil, dust, whatever could be used to blind attackers. It was a tactic so engrained that whenever she faced danger now, one of her hands always dipped into the bag automatically, the other reaching for her blade. Matt had noticed but he never asked her about it. He let her keep so many of her secrets.
Emily started adding clumps of dirt to the bag, dirt from the time that she was now stuck in, and stones and grass. She found herself running her fingers through it all, comparing it to the worlds she had been through, to the world she had left far behind. Her hands began smelling of wet earth.
One night, when the group was huddled in a place with four suns and the golden light hadn't appeared for several days, Charlotte made her a bracelet. It was constructed from scraps – a shoelace, cracked beads and smooth pieces of wood.
"You never take anything for yourself," Charlotte said and pressed the trinket firmly into Emily's hands.
Emily didn't know what to say except 'thank you' and slid the bracelet onto her wrist. It rattled softly as she moved. It didn't match her outfit in the slightest. Perhaps that was she liked it so much. Her mother would have been horrified.
Now, after all the danger and running, parts of the bracelet had fallen away and been lost. But Emily continued to wear it. A month or so after making it, Charlotte had been injured and Emily, Charlotte, and Ethan sought help through the golden light. It was the last world that Charlotte would ever visit.
5. Her Family
Emily kept them hidden in one of her boots. No one apart from her ever saw them. Hiding them there meant that she would always have them with her, because no matter what else she was forced to abandon, she would always be wearing her boots.
It was an image of the people that she'd left behind. The piece was not elaborate or detailed; it was simple, black ink on white paper. It was really an impression, a skilful suggestion of people. It was beautiful. She looked at it every night before she slept.
It was Emily's family – her parents and her sister, Clarissa – all dressed up in their best clothes for the occasion. There was a speck of white on Clarissa's cheek that seemed like a mistake but Emily treasured it. Her mother was clutching a closed fan and her father stood behind them both, his back ramrod-straight. Emily knew that tucked into his waistcoat was a very familiar, very worn, and very loved pocket-watch. She'd always been fascinated by it. Her father used to let her hold it to her ear so that she could listen to its tiny clockwork heartbeat. Emily missed that sound. She missed them. It was why she carried them with her everywhere – she didn't want to forget them, not for a single moment.
She wished that she dreamt of them too. But whenever she slept now, her dreams were filled with the sensation of paper in her boots, blood on her hands, and the increasingly loud tick of a clockwork heart.