When she emerges from that cell, shaking beneath the weight of her newfound freedom and blinded by the light, the sight of her steals the breath from his chest. She is gaunt, shaven, bruised and trembling before him, but she is beautiful. She always was, truth be told, but what he has made of her now is perfect. Everything yielding has been stripped away, leaving nothing that can be moulded into submission. The softness of childlike innocence has been seared from her face – her ordeal has done to her what a lifetime of hardship could not. They took all she had, so she clung to what scraps she could. Innocence. Ignorance. Bliss, both. Prisons, both. Now she has neither. Evey the frightened girl-child died in that cell. Evey, born with her eyes sewn shut, tore them open to stare unflinching down the barrel of a gun.
And it is someone new who stands before him now. Evey Hammond burned utterly pure. Just as he was. She is steel now, honed and glowing – fresh from the furnace – and God help the man who tries to bend her to his will.
Her eyes remain untouched, however. Liquid with emotion, fixed unwavering on his face through layers of enamel and metal, through skin and scar tissue, gazing right through him as he confesses his sins.
I did it all for you, sweet Evey. Can you not see?
Anger bubbles through her, and her fury is so absolute that he is in awe for a moment. From raw softness… to this. How far you've come.
He can feel the fire in her veins from where he stands. She's so small, so new, there's no way she can withstand this.
He's right. Before long she falls into his arms with a gasp, the remnants of her doubt and fear slipping like ash through his fingers. He holds her untempered heat close, reminding her of her shape lest she should collapse entirely.
Don't break now. Remember yourself.
Shaking still, she lifts her head, dizzy and half-blind from scalding tears.
He takes her to the roof, where rain – God's blessing falling to earth – can finish the job he began. She lifts her arms to it, lets it temper her, lets it wash her clean.
And Evey laughs. Not a child's laugh, brittle and shy, but a jubilant sound, pure and true. And as the drops kiss her skin he is reminded of a man who emerged from Hell, changed and purified, to scream at the sky in mixed agony and gratitude.
She stands before him now, tempered and cooled and unbreakable, steel body, steel soul. Armoured now, and strong.
She is ready.
For once I've nothing to say. Hopefully you do, though. Feedback would be a blessing.