Warning Warning! Major Spoilers ahead! If you have not read the manga and do not want a spoiler, back away now. This also contains a good amount of angst.

Author's Note: This is mostly a drabble. An angsty little thing I came up with last night. I hope you enjoy it. I'm thinking about starting a multi-chapter for Sacred Blacksmith, so I wanted to try my hand with a characterization on Cecily.

Disclaimer: I do not own The Sacred Blacksmith and therefore make no profit off of this piece of work.

Italics indicate material that is direct quote from the Manga Chapters 21 through 23.

And Your World Shall Burn

I can still feel his hands on me.

"You'd better become aware that you're just a woman."

It's been three days, and I can still feel them.

Aria's worried. I can see it in her eyes, hear it in her voice. She doesn't ask any useless questions, doesn't make any empty condolences. She just is. She speaks to me. Offers me food and water that I never accept. Tells me of what's going on outside. Her voice is soothing, but I pay it no attention, lost in the whirlwind of my thoughts.

I don't want anyone to know… Especially him

I'm glad I have her confidence. Without it, my world would tilt off its axis and shatter into pieces on the ground.

Not that it hasn't already crumbled.

That monster… That, that demon monster.

I thought I was strong. I thought I was invincible. I was sure of myself. My will was unbreakable. I was me. I was a knight. It should've taken whole armies to tear me down. God himself would have had to come down from the mountain before anyone could even hope to push me to the ground. That's the way it was.

At least… That's the way I thought it was.

But it was so easy.

I was trampled down quickly and easily…

I don't know what burns worse in my mouth: the rage or the hatred.

After a day, I'll tell you the hatred.

It's a sickness, you know, the hate. It sets a fire in your stomach. Fills your throat with bile and coats your tongue in ash. Water turns to acid, and the stench of it will burn the hair from the inside of your nostrils. Nausea is just a side effect at this point.

I can't breathe, the stench is so potent. Overwhelming in its aching desire. Gluttonous and famished for blood, for a corpse, for death, the insanity clogs my senses, clots in my arteries, and swells in my joints, causes my muscles to cramp and bones to ache.

It hurts to hate this much.

The reason my mind smoldered so much is because I was shown that I was a "woman" in such a manner.

What does that mean anyway?

"Woman"

People throw the word around like it's some kind of insult or curse. It isn't though. I don't understand how something like gender can be used to attack someone like they chose to be male or female before they were born.

It is not a curse. To be a woman is not to be inferior.

…But it is to be weaker.

No, that's not quite right either.

"You need self-awareness, that fragility, foolishness, weakness…"

Cruelty. If kindness is a womanly trait, then cruelty must be a man's legacy. What Sieg- what he did to me was nothing but cruelty. Beaten and torn, he stripped me bare down to the place I was most vulnerable. Took advantage of me. Rid me of a piece of my innocence that I can never get back. In hindsight, I might be thankful he could push me no further

That wasn't how it was supposed to be.

It should have been someone else, another someone. My mind wanders, tracing over harsh words and careless comments.

I should just forget him. Forget him before you hurt yourself again.

I weep into the cushions of my pillows and cushions and blankets, hoping, praying that I could just sink into the mattress until Aria comes to get me. How long has it been since I got out of bed? Days, weeks, months… No, it feels like years. How much have I missed? I lost count how many people I had Aria send away.

Hatred changed into an infinite feeling of impotence.

The only thing that drives me forward is the need to protect. At least, I haven't lost that aspect of my will. But there's a block. I see Patty and the commander. I see my co-workers, they're fighting. Patty tells me they've already taken care of the citizens. The beast before me, a giant hulking monstrosity of earth and mud, is terrifying. What can I do? Nothing.

I'm frozen.

Then the fugitive signs the demon contract.

It's too much. Grimy, slimy tentacles wrapped and wiggling all over and around me. It has me by my arms and legs. Panic chills me. I can see him. I can feel him, his hand wrapped tight around my wrist. I want to scream. I need to scream.

"Cecily Campbell!"

That's me.

That's my name.

I am Cecily.

Together we're invincible.

Aria is in my hands in an instant, and I'm ready.

The beast never stood a chance.

I don't want to be saved anymore. I can't rely on him anymore. I should never have relied on him in the first place. I can't expect him to save me any longer. I will be the one doing the saving. I will come to the rescue, but first I have to take justice for myself.

I would become strong.

For the sake of that, I will even discard my "womanhood."

I found Siegfried at the ball like I knew I would. I had it all planned out. A duel between myself and my attacker. A duel to reclaim my lost dignity. A duel to reclaim a snippet of what was lost and cement myself in my chosen path.

I expected the anxiety in my belly to awaken at the sight of him. I expected the harsh words and the taunts he would deliver me. I even half expected him to try something like what he did, grab me by the wrist or hair or shirt.

What I didn't expect was the violent panic clenching a chokehold around my neck. I didn't expect the sheer terror to shorten my breath and freeze my insides. I didn't expect the sudden surge of adrenaline, the sudden will to flee to compel me so.

And I most definitely didn't expect the merciful hand of a savior to wrap around Siegfried's wrist and pull him away from me. He steps in front of me and declares that, no, he would be the one fighting Siegfried.

He came… Luke… Luke… came…

He doesn't look at me. Not at first anyway.

I'm pressed not to wonder what's going on in that thick skull of his. The confrontation is well-warranted on his side of the spectrum what with Siegfried's threats on Lisa, but I don't understand. What is he doing here?

He said he wasn't coming to the ball.

He said…

"If I win, don't ever lay a finger on Cecily Campbell."

Lisa speaks to me in hushed whispers while Aria shifts in her sheath more than a little embarrassed at being found out like this.

I understand now though.

He came here whether to be my champion or to quell a guilt he had no right to feel, I don't know. All that matters to me is that he's here. Despite everything, he's somehow here.

It isn't until later, after the duel is declared a draw and we're alone together that I begin to understand for real what's going on in his head. It's vague but it's there, and I find myself being open and surprisingly honest with him.

He's asks me to dance, and I'm flustered and embarrassed, and I protest and try and back out of it. I'm not dressed appropriately, wearing men's garb, and it's hardly the best place to host a dance for two.

But most of all, I'm ashamed. Unclean, exposed, befouled.

I have no right to accept what he offers.

"I'll make you forget."

And I take his hand.

While we dance, I do find myself forgetting.

His body is warm and comfortable. It chases away the chill of bad memories and brings me back to life, and I don't feel weak anymore for an entirely different reason.

I remember my mother telling me something when I was little. I didn't understand it at the time, but I think I get it a little bit now.

"We are a strong, noble family, Cecily. You should remember to always live up to that standard as a member of the Campbell household," she'd said. "But as a woman, remember that it is okay to let yourself be vulnerable with the man who can accept you as you are."

I think, I might not be able to abandon my "womanhood."

Owari

A little drabble to shake of my writer's block. Tell me what you think.