When you step into her room - into the calm centre of the storm that has replaced Troy tonight - there is someone there.
It is not Briseis. It is someone you have never seen, but as she turns to the door, as she turns to you, every line of her is viscerally familiar.
In this moment, you know her.
You're locking eyes with the first lady of Troy, the statuesque Queen in waiting and never to be, a woman over whom wars have never been fought, who is somehow beyond the scope of such things. Too removed to be mortal, too dignified to be a goddess.
The world tonight is writ in fire and pain, but she is stone. Her time of feeling is past. She has not shed a tear since they burned her husband. There is nothing left to cry about, now that her worst fears are made charred flesh and ash.
She does not sleep because she has no further need of dreams.
She knows you, as a woman will always know her husband's killer. She knew your hand long before its shadow crossed her life. That is expected.
What is not is that you know her. You can feel him upon her, and remember the echoes of her upon him. As the moment elongates around you, stretched out of time in a dying city, you even find her name floating into your mind.
You wonder if it came to you out of his last moment. Did you take it from him in that instant of the most intense intimacy that can exist between two men, the final violation of flesh with steel.
Go home, you'd said, days and an eternal age of men ago. Make love to your wife.
It's drawn outside knowing, beyond the mortal realm, this moment in screaming arrest as the world continues in motion. You can feel it, the danger here.
You should not have met, you and her. Not in this world. It should not be.
Her eyes are the colour of spilled wine and they see beyond your flesh. Now both of you know that you will not survive this night.
She stands before you perfectly still, and yet somewhere else tonight she launches the arrow that will bring you down. Make a mortal of you. Just another mortal.
"Briseis," you say, and the moment shatters. Outside the city writhes in flame, and the sound of the end of her world rises to the window.
You see the moment she starts to feel again. The breath she takes as though it were her first. The jolt of the hot, painful ember of primary emotion - pain, anger, desire - catching in her stomach. It flashes like wildfire, thaws her extremities, sets her burning again with everything you know (because he knew) had animated her before fell certainty wiped her days flat and featureless.
She blinks, and her eyes are opaque again, the veil of the Gods back over the world.
"She is not here," she says.
Unnecessary, since you can see that already. You have not stopped moving, in the interminable space between the moment you stepped into the room and now, when you leave. One step back into the corridor, and you are sprinting again.
Trying to outrun fate.
Trying to outrun her.
It is impossible. Her unknowing vengeance will find you.
All Unknowing by dee
All stories are works of fan-fiction by Dee. "Fan-fiction" means that she does not own any of the core creative concepts and characters, but she does heap adulation, appreciation and awe upon those people who do hold the intellectual property rights to those concepts and characters. Further, any instances of real people are fictional, and the author does not wish to suggest any truth should be attached to the actions, emotions and words attributed to them in these fictional stories.