For a man with hands so chapped and rough, his were the softest hands that had touched her in a long time. It was with the reverence of admiring the softest silk that he ran the strands of her hair through his fingers, remarking in hushed tones, “It’s so beautiful, this red.”
When he invited her to bed, it was the first time ever that she went willingly. It was with gentleness and understanding that he wiped the tears from her cheek, kissed the curve of her neck and held her until the tears subsided. When she woke, their hair was tangled together, the raven and the red.
In the weak light of morning, he watched her dress, wrapping her shawl modestly over her hair, and did not laugh at her modesty now. His dark eyes met hers, a question unasked on his lips. It was interrupted by a shout and shuffle in the dirt outside. He bundled her up, hid her in a small cellar, and went out to meet the soldiers.
Her heart thumped in her ears and she shut her eyes tightly, pulling her dress about her. If they found her in here…The sounds of battle, the ringing of metal on metal, shouts of pain and fear, were new to her, and she wept in silent terror. He came to her, his clothes wet and stained pink. He carried her out in his arms, and she quivered in fear of him, seeing men laid out, dead and bleeding, a sea of red and shit and tears. He put her on his horse, and took her to the city gates. Men ran from him and he took those bricks down, one by one, smashing them to slivers to prove his point.
Standing beside the horse, seeing her fright, his hand holds hers with gentleness he had not today demonstrated. “Delilah, you will only ever know my gentleness. Do not fear me as others do. I want you to remember last night; did you not at least love me a little then?”
Remembering the tenderness no one had ever shown her before, Delilah knew she had, at least in part. “I did.”
“Then be my wife. I promise, I will always take care of you.”
Delilah nodded, tucking an escaping red lock back into the blue shawl, a match to her unusual eyes. “As long as you promise never to let me go back to this life.”
That night, they celebrated their nuptials under a canopy of stars.
“When I see the starlight in your eyes, I can believe that we might all be children of the heavens.” Samson’s eyes were bright as he kissed his bride.
Her wedded life had been blissful. Samson had delivered on his promise. In his hometown, he was considered a hero, and she was given respect she’d never had before.
It was why she couldn’t have foreseen the men in the mountains that afternoon. When Samson found her on the path, her face misshapen from the bruising and the blood congealing on her skin, she was unconscious. When he scooped her up, she screamed her agony through her unconsciousness.
Eventually she came to, and in a darkened room, where she didn’t have to look at the pain in his eyes, she told him of their initial promises of silver, and when she refused to cooperate, the beatings and then of what followed. Still, she hadn’t told them the secrets of her husband’s power. Eventually, her hand in his, she fell asleep again.
The healer told them that he didn’t expect her to survive. Her injuries were severe. Samson, head in hands, was broken. He had her taken to his mother’s house, where they could share her care.
In the morning, Delilah’s breathing was shallower. Samson took shears to his head, slashing at his hair. He didn’t want this burden any more. Clinging to his arm, his mother wept.
“Leave us,” he thundered at her. Weeping, she turned away.
They didn’t wait long. As he waited, Samson thought of his happiness, lying and slowly dying upon her sick bed. Docile and weak as a lamb he went.
They mocked him for his tears. “She was only a woman,” they said, putting out his eyes for his weakness. Whispers in the dark told him she was dead, what they had done to her. They put him to the wheel, shackles chafing upon his wrists. Slowly, his hair grew back.
To show off their conquest, the local forces paraded him in front of gathered officials. He was chained to the columns in the great hall, hung like a sheet on a line.
He could hear the soft swish of garments, the gentle pad of dancing feet. One passed near him, he could hear her adornments jingling.
He knew that voice. Lifting the once proud head, he listened, hearing the girls’ dancing revolution.
Samson struggled to his feet. He would fulfil his promise to his bride. Fingers curling around the cold links of chain, Samson pulled. All around him, the babble continued, people enjoying the event. Slowly, he built the tension in the bindings. He heard the first cracks of the stone, overwhelmed by the hubbub of the gathered crowd. He continued to pull, with arms kept strong by working in the mills.
Only as the building began to shake did they look up from their feasting and self-satisfied back-patting. The shrill screams of the dancing women echoed about the frightened shuffling of a thousand feet.
He felt her slide in between his astride legs, her arms wrapping around his calf. With a great yank, he pulled. Around them, the walls crumbled in great boulder-sized chunks. As the roof fell in, Samson covered his Delilah with his body, to protect her one final time.