Still the iron claw in the velvet glove, Mariel?
Timov, Babylon 5
Beware the women of the warrior class, for all they touch is both decorative and deadly.
Yuki, Protector of the Small
Speak softly but carry a big stick; you will go far.
Kelahnus had fine, slender hands, but Demnor had seen him crack a walnut shell with two fingers. He was an enigma. As sensual and indolent as any courtesan and yet as deadly as an assassin.
Fiona Patton, The Stone Prince
I expected him to cringe and lower his ears, to be hurt, and a part of me was ashamed. Azzuen trusted me and followed me, and it was easy for me to hurt his feelings. [...] I was surprised when, instead of cowering at my words, he merely sat back and looked at me.
Azzuen leapt upon my rock. He wasn't challenging me, but he wasn't giving in, either. There was a quietness and certainty in him that I'd never seen before.
"I'm going with you, Kaala, or you aren't going. One howl from me and Ruuqo will be here to stop you. I saw what Ruuqo did and it wasn't fair. I want to help you. I won't let you go alone."
At first I was too shocked to do anything but stare. Then I felt the burning of anger rising in me, warming me, cleansing me. I leapt for Azzuen, knocking him off the rock and trying to pin him to the ground. He didn't roll over and give into me, as I had expected. Instead he gave a deep growl and pushed me to the ground. For a moment he had me pinned, standing on my chest and looking down at me.
"You're being stupid and stubborn," he said. "You can ask for help, you know."
There is a story they tell in Breadalbane:
Gordon of Achruach was at feud with Campbell of Kentallan, who hired certain Gregora, landless men, who took the Gordon unawares while he was hunting in the Mamore. And they cut off his head and put it in a bag to show the Campbell that the work was done. That was the way of it.
And as they fared for Kentallan, the Gregora came by the Gordon’s door at Achruach, and went in, and the Gordon’s wife (little knowing she was a widow) bade them to table, as the custom is, and went out for the Athol brose. And while she was gone the Gregora winked at one another, and set the Gordon’s head on a dish, with an apple in the mouth, to see what the good wife would make of it. That is the Gregora for you, hell mend the black pack of them.
And the good wife came in, and saw her man’s head bloody on the board, but kept her countenance and never said a word, only smiled on the Gregora and bade them good cheer. The Gregora wondered at this. Has she not seen it? was in the mind of each of them. Still looked she never on the head, but said a word to her ghillie and sent him forth. And smiling on the Gregora, she told them a tale, never looking at the head, and held them spellbound, for she was great at the stories, and very fair besides. The Gregora wondered, has she not seen it yet? This is not canny, was in their minds, and they said they must be for the road, but she held them there by their tale and her presence, and so they bided whether they would or no. That was the way of it.
And still she spoke and looked not on the head, until the ghillie returned with her men of Achruach, who came in swift and sudden and stood behind the Gregora seated, one to one, and each Gordon with his dirk at a dirty Gregora neck. And she told on till the tale was done – aye, she was great at the stories – and then said she: “I see my man has come home, and has but an apple to eat. Give him to drink also, wine red and warm.” And at her word they slew the Gregora where they sat, and the red blood ran. That was the way of it.
And the ghillie said: “Oh, mistress, how did you keep your countenance this long while in the presence of yon fell thing, and beguile these stark men?” And she answered, “The day I cannot keep my countenance, and hold men in their place and work my will on them, that is a day you will never see.”
That was the way of it. That was a woman of the Gordons for you.
"You only saw her beauty. You never saw the iron underneath."
— Ned Stark re Lyanna Stark, A Song of Ice and Fire
"The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all."
—The Emperor, Mulan
“I am very sorry, Your Highness, but can this please wait? It would be my greatest honor to have a lovely conversation with you- Once I have my daughter safe and sound at my side.” Her voice was one of perfectly trained respect and manners, an epitome of politeness. There was steel underneath them however, steel that wasn’t hidden by the polite bow that preceded Velvet’s attempt to dart around Celestia and out the door once more.