Who was she? What was to become of her? Of her kingdom?

These were the questions she asked herself daily; ever since that awful night, the night of her sixteenth year, when she had been forced from her castle and the only life she had ever known. Once a princess and now she was a nobody. It was cruel of fate, to reduce her to this, to force her from her home and to leave her an orphan. But as the days had worn on, and she bore witness to the state of her father's kingdom, to the death and destruction and chaos of the outside world, she knew what plagued her was nothing. She could adapt, she could learn, and she would. she would become strong and one day, reclaim her kingdom as its queen. A strong queen that her people could believe in. they deserved that much.

It was late at night. The others were all asleep, or at least she thought they were. Having been unable to sleep despite the day of traveling, Yona found herself sneaking away from the camp, bow and arrows in hand. Though she hated the creatures, she found she identified more and more with a snake these days- at least in the aspect of shedding its skin. In a short time, she had shed her skin and become a whole new person entirely- almost unrecognizable to those who had once known her. Gone was her beautiful long locks, cut short by her own hand in order to save her beloved Hak. Gone were her lovely silk dresses and beautiful jewelry. Gone were her carefree days of youth. And in truth, she truly didn't miss them, the trivial things at least. She missed her father deeply; some days the pain hurt so much she thought she might crumble. Some days she thought she might not even make it through. But then Hak was there, or Yoon, or even one of her faithful Dragons. They were what kept her going, what kept her from falling prey to her own inner demons and darkness.

Casting aside her cloak, she drew back her bow, arrow poised and ready to fly. She released it, her aim for the center of a nearby tree- it hit her target, albeit a little off-center, but hit it all the same. She could not help but to smile in her moment of pride, but that wasn't nearly good enough. Again she shot an arrow, aiming for the same spot, missing this time by a few inches. Groaning inwardly, she aimed again, this time hitting the mark she had aimed for. Over and over again she shot her arrows, stopping every few minutes to retrieve them from the tree, to reuse in her efforts.

From a short distance away, blue eyes peered out, watching her every movement. He had been awakened by her footsteps, soft as they had been. Unable to stop himself, he followed after her, keeping his distance so she might not notice his presence; he was surprised to see her, taking up her bow and arrow, practicing her aim so late at night. He could not help but to spy, to keep his eyes upon her- he had promised to protect her, and he could not do that if he wasn't at her side. He knew she needed time to herself, there was a lot she had to deal with, a lot she was still coming to terms with… But… He hated not having her beside him, even for a moment.

Lifting his gaze to the sky above, he sent out a silent call to the late King, hoping he was out there somewhere watching over his daughter. Look at what she's become, he told the King, hoping he might still be able to hear his words. Hak returned his gaze to Yona then and was shocked to see the tears that were coursing down her cheeks. She was sobbing softly, but made no movement to try and stem the flow, or even wipe them away. She continued to shoot, her entire being shaking until she could no longer even hold the bow steady. Though he had promised himself he was going to stay away, Hak could not. He couldn't leave her like that.

She couldn't see, her tears were blurring her vision too much now. The bow slipped from her hands and fell to the ground, the arrow missing its mark completely. Her hands came up, battered and bleeding, to cover her face as she cried. Her tears were for her father, for the loss of him. They were for her kingdom, the one that she could do nothing for. Until she was strong, she could do nothing at all. Her knees were wobbling, threatening to crumple beneath her weight, when she heard the footsteps. Hands lowered, Yona looked up, violet eyes swimming with her anguish, as Hak slowly approached her. "Hak…"

Her soft vocals had hardly reached him before she was hitting her knees, hands curling into fists, her face down-turned. Hak stood above her for a moment, his eyes glimmering in the moonlight; he dipped down, casting aside all formalities to take her into his arms, enfolding her into his warm, safe embrace.

Yona stiffened at first, but then her arms came around him as well, and she buried her face into his shoulder as she cried all the harder. This was the only thing that felt right in her life, the only thing that was familiar. The only thing that left her feeling safe and loved. Hak had always been there, in passing at first, but even then he had offered her protection and warmth. Then, once he had become her body guard, he had always been there- never straying far from her side, even at the palace. In all honesty, Yona could hardly remember a moment where Hak hadn't been there.

Her tears slowly lessened until they were nothing more than sniffles, and that was when Hak pulled back, his hands still gently resting upon her shoulders. Yona's eyes shined like gems in the moonlight as they stared at him, her lips parting as if she meant to speak. But no words would come. His hand slowly left her shoulder, to rise up, his thumb swiping across both of her cheeks, erasing away the remnants of her tears, his skin warm against hers. He reached down then, to take her hands into his, blue hues inspecting the damage done; in an instant, he was tearing the cloth of his cloak into two long strips, which he set about tying around her injured palms, glancing up only once when she gave a little squeak of pain at his touch. "Yoon should look at these tomorrow," he finally said, breaking the silence between them, his eyes finding hers, hands still clasped together. She mutely nodded, a sweet smile the only thanks he truly needed. He rose up, meaning to take her back to camp, but she held fast to his hands, keeping him there on his knees. "Princess…"

Yona shook her head, a smile reappearing. He didn't need to say a thing. Leaning over, she lightly brushed her lips to his cheek, a simple gesture that left him blushing furiously. She rose up on her own then, proof of her triumph over whatever demon she had been facing that evening. Turning, she simply walked away, leaving Hak on the ground, his hand reaching up, fingertips pressing against the spot her lips had just been. He watched her go, watched the way she walked, the way her red hair gleamed in the moonlight; and then her figure faded from his sights, swallowed up by the darkness of the trees. It was only then that he too stood, picking up her forgotten cloak, and followed after her.

He would always follow her.