Gods, he was strong.
The hand clenched around her throat was making it difficult to think, choking her to death as surely as the wind rustled through the leaves in the building storm. Her dress whipped around her legs, suspended three feet above the ground as that iron hold left her dangling helplessly. She gasped, clawing at his forearm, but the dead eyes that stared back were blank, empty.
Black clouds rolled in above, threatening rain and flashing lightning-nature’s response to her own roiling emotions as her life slowly drained away. Spots began to dance across her vision, threatening darkness and blotting out the world with white patches like ink spills. She wanted to scream-to cry, and kick, and tear until the recognition returned to that distant gaze-but her fingers were growing too weak to clutch, her only goal becoming the desperate need for air in her lungs and one piercing thought.
I am not your enemy!
He had been gone for almost a month when he stumbled back into the town, bleeding and half-dead, mumbling about monsters and being followed in his dreams. His recovery had been slow, wounds refusing to heal the way they should with scars that would never fade. It looked as though he had been torn into by the monsters he raved about, but after the first week he refused to talk about it. His eyes were haunted, but sharp.
She had woken to flames and screaming, the roof coming down around her and his tall, blocky frame looming over her with that dead expression. He did not seem to feel the heat, but a beam coming down across his shoulders was enough to let her run before he could grab her. She had fled then, out of her burning house and out into the fields beyond, forcing herself to ignore the crumpled bodies strewn through the village streets.
He had caught her.
The stone at her back was slowly growing colder. She could not longer feel her fingers, all her attention narrowing on his face. She remembered his smile, bright and easy, eyes crinkling at the corners so that he looked older than his years. There was nothing left of that man before, only a shell who sought to kill.
I am not you enemy!
The world went dark.