Wrote this ages ago, realized I never brought it here


While Yun was off looking for some sort of herb for their dinner that night, Hak couldn't help but stare as the princess stirred what there was so far of the stew. Specifically, he couldn't help but stare at her hands.

So rough, so full of callouses due to traveling in the wilderness, using weapons, and doing general work. It had been months since he and Princess Yona ran from the palace and the previous softness of her hands disappeared, and he still couldn't get over it.

Not so long ago and yet it felt like ages, the princess's only concern was that her hair was wild, bright red, and tough to tame. Now it was short, though still unkempt, and she wore her crimson locks almost with pride.

Had she noticed just how much she'd changed? Had she realized when her smooth, well-groomed fingertips became hardened by nature? He didn't think so; her entire life was turned upside down all at once, and comparatively, the way her hands became coarse was very gradual. Of all the things to change for her, it was very small.

But Hak had noticed; it was just another feature to remind him that his princess had been forced so quickly to adjust from the spoiled, carefree lifestyle she'd had for so long. She was still very much the same, her fiery personality was a constant and probably would always be there, but it had adapted in the last few months.

His teeth clenched; she never should've had to adapt! He should've- He should've- Hak didn't know what he should've done. He didn't know what he could've done to protect her from this pain. How could he have even seen this coming? It was Su-won, his best friend, the one Yona claimed to be in love with, and the very person that had caused their flight- What was that man thinking! What could possess him to take away Yona's perfect life? If it were up to Hak, she'd have spent her entire life without having to be hurt; she'd have married Su-won, a man Hak thought he knew would protect her happiness well, while Hak himself stood beside as a their personal guard. But he- He-

"Hak?"

The man jumped as he felt the princess's hand on his shoulder.

"You seem tense. Is something wrong?"

Hak shook his head, both to clear his mind and to answer Yona.

She frowned, and his eyes widened as he let out a quick gasp of a breath when he felt her hands on his, which were apparently balled into fists. After his initial shock, the touch was enough to let his hands relax out of their tight clenching.

"If you're fine, you wouldn't have these," she continued to frown, trailing a finger along the deep indents his fingernails had apparently left upon his palm.

His mouth was so dry at her touch, but Hak forced himself to clear his throat and speak.

"Really, Princess, I'm fine." He smirked widely, hoping his usual teasing would reassure her. "I think you should worry about yourself," he gestured to the pot that was beginning to boil over, instantly sending Yona into a panic and letting her forget about his tenseness.