CHAPTER ONE
Do you remember the face of your Queen?


Hiryuu Castle is starshine and bliss. It's summer days spent in the shade and winter nights huddled under the covers. It's laughter drifting on the air like bird's song, a lifelong ease in the people's motions. It's the people she loves and loves and loves all together in one place, her family and friends and everyone who comes close to either. It's watching her father bumble about his duties, cuddling with her sister and chasing her mother's back. It's her cousin and her sister's best friend and the maids that smile at her every time they pass by and the soldiers that pause and turn and greet her with bright grins.

Hiryuu Castle is all of her happiness wrapped up neatly in towering spires and endless gardens. It's happiness, pure and simple, the only thing she's ever known.

It lasts all of three years.

The day of the Queen's passing is solemn. It isn't a quiet passing; it is a death that has the kingdom in uproar. It is an event that proves to the world the true extent of the new King's passiveness.

To Aeri, though, it doesn't mean much. She doesn't really understand the pitying glances being sent her way, or the reason why the usual pleasantries seem heavier than they are any other day. She doesn't understand why the servants and the soldiers don't smile at her the way they normally do, don't stop and greet her with loud excitement. She doesn't really understand why Father won't stop crying and why Yona doesn't look as lively as she usually does.

She doesn't really understand why Mother isn't there with them, playfully scolding their crybaby Father and soothing her sister who is near tears.

The day passes with Hiryuu Castle engulfed in uncharacteristic silence, voices speaking at muffled, low volumes and passersby careful so as to not imbalance the delicate calm surrounding the royal family.

Aeri keeps to herself, wandering away from the unnerving quietude to the inner reaches of the castle. The maids are easy to throw off; they are particularly lenient with her today, their voices the same uncharacteristic quiet as everyone else's. Why is there so much pity in their eyes? The nobles hardly dare to look at her. And when they do, they look away immediately, low murmurs on their lips she can't quite catch, but it's not happy. There's nothing happy about today. She doesn't understand. It was supposed to be any other day, with a cool breeze flowing and the easygoing chatter of the castle's inhabitants filling the halls.

But it isn't any other day, and it scares her.

She shuffles through familiar passages, clambering up stairs and weaving through winding corridors. Hiryuu Castle is expansive and its grounds are all but limitless in her mind, despite the walls that refuse to allow her world to expand beyond them. She doesn't mind, though; she always contented herself with the little joys of exploring the vast gardens, sneaking away from the guards and maids, and peering over railings to the central courtyard bustling with people.

A while into her wanderings, with a bunch of flowers grasped in clumsy hands, she catches a glimpse of her sister. Her face lights up - she was looking for her. One of the soldiers, a kind man and a father to daughters of his own, once taught her to make crowns of flowers. Maybe if she gives Yona one, she will smile. She hasn't smiled all day.

With that thought in mind, she glances around, searching for a quick route to where Yona stands. A flight of stairs ends right next to the garden where she is, and Aeri quickly runs over, bumbling feet almost tripping over themselves as she makes her way down excitedly. If Yona smiles, it will be like any other day. It will be a happy day, a calm and carefree day.

A pair of voices reach her ears, and she pauses mid-step. Carefully, she plods through the snow-covered ground to a spot where she can spy on Yona and her companion. She didn't notice Soo-won there earlier.

She listens as they speak, enveloped in the same dreary atmosphere from before, when everyone else was around. She frowns. She doesn't like this. She doesn't understand - why is everyone so sad today? And-

Yona is smiling. That's good. Everything should be fine now.

...So why isn't it?

The flowers in her grasp fall to the ground with a quiet rustle, but she doesn't care. The next thing she knows, she is running back the way she came.

Of course Yona is smiling. She is the elder between them. She is so much more mature. Father is crying and crying and they should be there for him. They both should be strong for him.

She can't, though; she can't even understand why today is so different, why today is so sad and lonely. She tells herself that, but she does, just a bit.

They are children and they cry all the time over the smallest things. Their father is King and he cries more often than is expected of a man of his position. Their mother was Queen and she gave them all a reason to cry.

It isn't any other day. A wedge has driven itself into their happy family of four, leaving them at three and stranded haphazardly around the castle; the King stays shut up in his rooms, the older Princess seeks the company and comfort of her friends, and the younger Princess loses herself in the maze-like corridors and weeps.

It is simple, really. That day is different from others because of just one thing: Mother isn't there to comfort any of them, and she won't be there for any of them ever again.

Hiryuu Castle is torn of the happiness that characterises it in her mind, that makes it a home like no other.

And Aeri hates it.


Well, look who finally worked up the guts to post something here. Welcome to this trainwreck of a fic! In which: my OC fucks shit up for no perceivable reason. She just mean. Enjoy!

Aaaaand if you have the time, maybe leave a review? I would love to get some feedback on this fic!