When he first met her, Dastan thought Tamina to be a princess of extraordinary beauty.

He did not at all understand the lingering, somehow meaningful look she gave him from across the hall full of his brothers-in-arms who had taken over her palace, but the sheer intensity of that look had been enough to mesmerize him… and make him unable to look away.

Then he actually spoke with her, and that vision of ephemeral beauty was completely shattered by the venom seeped into her words aimed at him. His first impression of her as a demure, harmless belle of royal descent was completely blown to smithereens. Her insults did not reach him but the fact she was even trying to lash at him verbally was enough to make him think of her as an annoyance.

He much preferred her when she had been just that speechless beauty.

But then he became her unwilling ally and was forced to spend more time with her. Never being one to back down from a fight—be it verbal or physical—he spared no time in returning her jabs with the wittiest of his own, and even though he still found her vexing he no longer thought of her as a complete nuisance. Because the more she continued to lash back at him, the more impressed he was with the sharpness of her wit and the quickness of her mind, always ready with the perfect retort that struck just the right spot.

She may not have been the best of swordsman, but she was certainly flawless in the art of verbal assault.

She was a princess—born with a silver spoon in her mouth and raised while never knowing the hardships of the world beyond her grand palace's walls—and yet she could wield the sword and use it well enough to defend herself when push came to shove. She spared no one of her opinions, no matter how scathing they were or how important and influential the person she was speaking to was. She stood her ground, with her head held high and her shoulders squared and let come whatever may.

And through their constant banter and unwilling companionship, slowly—without him noticing it—his view of her changed, morphed from irritation to exasperated fascination.

He marveled at her ability to always stand tall, no matter what she was subjected to. He was amazed at her creativity, her utter craftiness when she was determined on a goal she wanted to reach. He was stunned by her ability to take a leap that might lead to a breaking fall should she fail in whatever endeavour she'd gotten herself into.

However, it was when Tamina finally explained to him about the dagger and what her role in protecting it was that he came to truly admire her.

He admired her for her strength and drive—hers being much greater and awe-inspiring than most of the men he'd known in his life. He admired her brilliant mind that allowed her to voice her opinionated views that rarely sat well with her interlocutor.

But most of all, he admired her readiness to fulfill her sacred duty—regardless of what that might mean for her own life.

Her courage and valiance left such a great impression on him that they inadvertently altered him, too.

His father had been murdered in front of his very eyes and he had been unable to stop that from happening, he had been betrayed by the family that he had loved more than anything else in the whole world, and then lost everything he had ever held dear. He had been disillusioned and bitter, unsure that anything would ever make sense again.

And then there she had been, robust and unwavering in her willingness to sacrifice even her life if it meant the success of her mission.

It was then that he had felt even more resolute himself.

He had never believed that the world followed a set plan designed by a higher force. He knew that people made their own destiny. Just as he knew that there was no night without end, no endless suffering.

It was thanks to Tamina that Dastan came to realize where his priorities lied. It was because of her abnegation that he was reminded of the things that were most important in his life and that sometimes, one had to fight for them, or put one's fate in another's hands—take a blind leap of faith if one is to regain the prosperity one had before in one's hands.

Tamina had been ready to put the dagger in the mountain, knowing full well that doing so would cost her her life.

So Dastan did not falter even a second before plunging the blade in his heart.

A/N: My first contribution to this awesome fandom. I hope it was satisfying, if a little short. If all goes well and my plans come to be realized, I will come out with another drabble while I find my way around with the characters, and an actual story inspired by Alanis Morissette's "I Remain" afterwards. For now, I would love to hear your opinions on this little story. :3