"Can't sleep?" Zeno asks lightly, plucking Yona's arrow from the tree bark.

Yona doesn't look at him as she answers, "You don't need to worry, I always practice at night."

"Mmhmm, so Hak said. Two hundred arrows a day, right?" Zeno hands the arrow back to the princess, his expression gentle. "That one made three hundred and twelve."

Yona chews her lip, tucking the arrow back into her quiver with fingers Zeno notices are covered in red, angry blisters. "I guess I lost count."

Even in the darkness, Zeno can see the shadows beneath Yona's eyes. He eyes her searchingly, although what exactly he's looking for, Yona isn't sure. Then he lets out a thoughtful hum and says simply, "The miss's hair is awfully tangled. Would the miss like Zeno to help brush it out?"

Yona blinks, a little at a loss. "I… well, that's…" But Zeno has already gone to fetch a comb.

A couple of minutes later, Yona is seated in a patch of soft moss with Zeno on his knees behind her, humming as he tenderly combs the snarls from her hair. She closes her eyes, suddenly realizing just how much she appreciates the gentle attention.

"It's… been a long time since someone did this for me," she says quietly.

"It's been a long time for Zeno, too!" he laughs. "Do say something if it hurts."

Yona smiles. "Not at all. You're very good at this, Zeno." She pauses. "...Thank you."

Zeno bounces the ends of her hair playfully, but his voice is soft as he says, "It's nothing."

"It's something," Yona insists. "More than something. To me, anyway. Just having you with me is something. All of you. I really–" Her voice turns thick like there's something in her throat, and she coughs, quickly wiping her eyes even though Zeno can't see her crying. "Sorry, it's not– I'm fine. It's just a– I mean I'm not–"


She turns to look at him from the corner of her eye, a little startled. Zeno's face is unreadable as he continues to comb her hair, slowly and methodically unraveling each knot he comes across. "It's okay to cry," he coos, still using his usual singsong cadence despite his thoughtful expression. "If Zeno has learned anything, it's that there's always time for tears."

Yona frowns. "Have you been… crying much?"

A warm smile plays at the corners of Zeno's mouth. "Not lately." He puts the comb down, focusing on gently working through a particularly nasty snarl near the roots of Yona's hair with just his fingers. "But Zeno knows feelings can come and go like waves on the shore. Some days might be happy, some days might not." He looks away from the knot by Yona's ear to meet her eye. "Sometimes the sad days can go on a little too long, wouldn't the miss say?"

Yona lets out a watery chuckle, wiping her eyes again. "Nothing gets past you, does it, Zeno?"

"'Course not!" Zeno says proudly. "The miss mustn't tell the others, but Zeno's special power is actually super sight, just like Seiryuu."

Yona draws her knees to her chest, resting her chin atop them. "No point in hiding it then, I suppose," she murmurs. "...Yeah. Today was a sad day."

Zeno hums thoughtfully, but doesn't pry further. As he runs his fingers lightly through her newly untangled hair, he begins to braid it on a whim.

"What else have you learned, Zeno?" Yona's voice is hardly more than a whispering breeze through the leaves.

Zeno thinks. "That there are some things that you will never make peace with," he says quietly, "and nothing that can be replaced."

"...Mm." She leans back against Zeno's shoulder, earning a murmur of disapproval as he tries to find the right angle of approach to continue his work, but it's halfhearted and sleepy. "But there are still plenty of things to find happiness in, I hope…?"

Zeno weaves small wildflowers into the plait of Yona's soft, dawn red hair and smiles. Her breathing slows as she finally drifts off to sleep against his shoulder. "More than plenty, miss."