Disclaimer: Don't own anything!

Author's Note: Trying to figure out what I was going to do next for Photographs of Freedom when I thought of this because I can never seem to stay on one subject for very long.
First real Yuan/Martel. Not my favorite pairing in the world, but I still think it's a fascinating one.

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Trip over love, you can get up. Fall in love and you fall forever. ~Author Unknown

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He was hers from the very first conversation.

He'd looked at her the first time and seen she was lovely. Who wouldn't? Pale green hair braided back practically, hazel eyes that shimmered with green when the light hit it just right and skin tanned from long hours in the strong eastern sun.

She scolds the younger brother, who Yuan had caught trying to pick-pocket them. The siblings don't look alike, not really. He's pale blonde with a darkness in the summer sky blue eyes that Yuan recognizes. It's a darkness that's in the eyes of a lot of war children.

"I'm sorry for the trouble." She says, turning to him and Kratos.

Yuan shrugs. "No harm done."

They'd only planned to travel together as far as the city. The roads were treacherous, after all. But those few days turned into weeks turned into months that become years and Yuan learns to recognize her voice, her different smiles, her reactions.

One of his most poignant memories of her is the night that they're standing in the surf, cold water brushing their calves and starlight flickering off the waves as they laugh and splash at each other.

But she belongs to her brother first.

"Doesn't mean she doesn't love you." Kratos says one night when it's their turn to collect firewood. "She can't take her eyes off you. She does love you."
Yuan remembers smiling a little. "Listen to you. Kratos, expert on love."

Martel was everything that Yuan always wanted. A wife and they'd talked about a family. Martel had hesitated a little on that and she didn't need to say anything for Yuan to understand what she was going to say. Mithos came first.

Sometimes, he ran his hands through her hair simple because he could.

"They used to make fun of me." She said during one of those times. "Because of my hair."

He smiled at her. "I know the feeling."

Martel had laughed then, full-throated and sweet, as she tugged at a lock of his cerulean hair. "I can't imagine why."

Sometimes, he brings her flowers, just to see her smile as she breathes in their scent. Amaryllises were her favorite, he remembers.
They'd only ever danced together twice. Once, at their wedding and the other time was her twenty-third birthday, which was spent out on battlefield. She was exhausted that day, having been healing all day. Yuan had taken her hands and gently tugged her to her feet and danced with her to half-remembered folk songs that they hummed before wishing her a happy birthday.

It wasn't only Mithos' world that crumbled at her death.

"I'm sorry, Kratos—it must-must hurt you too and here I am—"

Kratos only holds his friend—his brother—tighter. "It's alright." He insists gently. It's a mantra that he's been repeating, even as he holds back his own tears. Martel is dead, yes, but it wasn't his soul getting ripped apart. Kratos can put himself back together, start afresh.

"Heaven knows where I'd be if you weren't here." Yuan murmurs, his voice gravelly and eyes wet.

Kratos knows where he'd be. Shattered and mad, just like the lovely half-elven boy with Martel's smile who'd cried himself until he'd run out of tears and fallen into, hopefully, a dreamless sleep.

It takes him a while to really pull himself together. Years, really. But he manages to get it together enough so that he functions, so that he isn't broken like Mithos was. Is.

Yuan never takes off the ring. He twists it, toys with it, catches himself staring at it sometimes, but he doesn't ever take it off. Its words are fading now, the steel chipping a little, the gold not glinting as bright.

He's always been hers and still is.