Small feet aren’t the quietest against marble floors. Even with the lightest steps on his toes, Sehun's feet still tap against the floor, making loud echoes throughout the open corridor. He covers his mouth as he walks, trying his best not to make any noise. It’s far too late at night for him to be outside of his room. Just past midnight the big clock reads as he moves into one of the many common areas of the palace.
It takes a little longer than usual to make it to Luhan’s room. He has to take careful steps and he must stop and look around the corners for any of the fellow workers. When he gets to Luhan’s room, he takes even more caution. There’s almost always someone sitting outside the room, guarding the boy. Luckily Sehun knows that every night at midnight, the person leaves his post to go smoke on the balcony nearby.
Sehun slips into the room with ease, his little frame not needing much space. His hands grip the door as he closes it quietly behind him, making sure there isn’t any way the guard can tell that someone’s entered. Once he’s sure that everything looks perfect, he tip toes over to the large bed behind him.
He’s always loved Luhan’s bed. It’s far, far, bigger than his own. Sometimes Sehun thinks that it might be ten times bigger than his. He grips the sheets at the top of the bed, letting his hands help him up as he walks up the small step stool at the corner.
Luhan is sleeping quietly off to one side. It’s a habit of his, always sleeping towards one side instead of the middle. He always said there wasn’t a particular reason as to why. Even from the other side of the bed, Sehun can see his delicate face. At age ten, Luhan still hasn’t lost his child features. His nose is still button like, looking as small as a toddlers. Eyelashes are longer than ever and his cheeks still rounded like a baby’s. It was part of his charm and why he was always talked about as the Prince of youth.
Sehun tries his best not to make the bed move too much while he climbs over to the other. He settles down a little away from Luhan, leaving about a foot of space between them. It’s not his goal to wake the other, just to be with him. Sehun always gets the best sleep when he’s curled up near him in his soft bed.
Even through his cautious methods, a few moments later, Luhan stirs. He stretches his legs out, letting out a small groan as he turns on his back. Small hands reach up and rub at his eyes, attempting to rub the heavy sleep out of them. Sehun watches, holding his breath and hoping that the other will just go back to sleep. He knows Luhan won’t particularly mind but Sehun finds it rather embarrassing that he has to be in Luhan’s presence to truly fall asleep.
“Sehunnie? Is that you?”
Luhan’s voice is soft and slightly raspy. Sehun bites at his lip, wondering if he should just ignore him. He lets his lips curl into a small smile.
“Yeah. Did I wake you up Luhannie?”
Luhan shakes his head, body turning towards Sehun. He scoots closer to him, cheek resting on the pillow between them. “No. Is everything okay?”
“Yes,” Sehun says with a bit of shame in his voice. “I just like sleeping next to you. Your bed is better too.”
A sleepy laugh comes from Luhan as he closes his eyes slowly. “I will talk to father about a better bed for you.”
Sehun doesn’t say anything, only nods his head slightly. A better bed would be nice, yes, but then it wouldn’t allow him a reason to curl into Luhan’s every few nights. It’s a thoughtful offer that Luhan gives though.
“You are brave to sneak past my guards,” Luhan says, sleep returning to his voice.
Sehun tries not to smile but it fails as Luhan’s eyes open and look at him again. “Perhaps I should be your guard then. Yours are not doing a proper job.”
Sehun watches as Luhan slips back into sleep. His lips are parted slightly, his white teeth shining dully. One cheek is smushed against the pillow his head rests on. Sehun tries not to laugh at how Luhan’s lips are puckered almost.
He reaches his hand out with hesitation. Sehun bites his lip, attempting to stay silent as he lets his hand curl around Luhan’s free cheek. It’s as soft as it looks and it makes Sehun’s fingers relax against the skin. Sehun lets his lips curl into a frown, hand slowly moving away from the other’s cheek.
As Sehun moves closer to Luhan, the windows begin to glow, dark gray becoming a bright white. He covers his eyes with his arm, waiting for them to slightly adjust until he sits up. The light slowly fades away and Sehun drops his arm, eyes squinting. He bites at the inside of his cheek, head turning to look at Luhan who is still sleeping soundly next to him. Sehun leans down, placing a hand on Luhan’s side. He rocks him gently, whispering his name as he watches the way Luhan’s brows furrow in his sleep.
“Luhan,” Sehun whispers louder, fingers curling into his silk pajamas. “Luhan please wake up. I think there is something wrong outside.”
Luhan stirs but only slightly. His hands rub at his eyes and there’s complete silence. Sehun looks around, biting his lip as the room sinks back into darkness.
“What is the matter, Sehun? Why did you wake me?”
“I-” Sehun shakes his head, pausing as he lets out a gentle sigh. “I guess it was nothing.” His eyes squint and his fingers curl around the blanket as his eyes return to the window.
“Was it a bad dream?”
No, Sehun thinks. He may be young and naive but there was something. Something outside that he hasn’t seen before. In his three years living at the castle, he had never seen such a bright light like he had. He tilts his head, looking down at Luhan who is still lying comfortably in bed. When he opens his mouth, all the words are taken out. There’s a loud explosion that makes them both cover their ears. The bed shakes and the windows rattle. Luhan’s the older one but Sehun’s the one that grabs Luhan and tugs him down, pulling the blanket over both of them.
The room goes back to silent and Sehun’s ears are filled with Luhan’s whimpers. He can’t make out any of Luhan’s features in the pitch black. He can feel his breath against his cheek and his nails through his clothes.
“What is going on,” Luhan whispers, the question ending in a whimper.
Sehun shakes his head, lips parting and arms tightening around Luhan’s body. “I do not know but I think we need to leave.”
There’s another explosion that makes Luhan squeeze around Sehun, head burying in his shoulder. Sehun can feel the way Luhan’s nails run down his back and his body tremble against him. He waits until the silence comes again before pushing off the blanket that covers them. He looks around, eyes taking a minute to adjust to the room. Making sure there is no one in the room with them, he grabs Luhan’s hand and tugs him out of the bed.
Luhan makes a whine of protest, free hand grasping for the teddy bear on the pillow further back on the bed. Sehun urges him closer, hand tightening its grip. “Luhan we must leave.”
The elder nods, following Sehun as they jog to the door. The chair that normally sits to the side of Luhan’s door is no longer upright. It’s tipped over and empty. Sehun stares down the hallway, watching for any movement. When he’s sure there isn’t anyone around, he pulls Luhan down the hallway, softly hushing his whimpers.
“Sehun I am scared,” Luhan whispers against his shoulder. “Do you think it is someone attacking the castle?”
Sehun stays quiet as he drags Luhan through the castle corridors. He’s careful to check around every corner before continuing. Luhan follows close behind, small lips parting every now and then to ask questions. Sehun simply tells him that he doesn’t know what’s happening. All he knows is that they have to get out of the castle and quickly.
When they reach the large open corridor on the main floor, Sehun begins to see signs of trauma. His bare toes curl into small drips of blood. He sucks in a breath as he lets his eyes follow the trail to a body. It only takes him seconds to wrap his arms around Luhan’s body, one hand covering his eyes. He holds him close, lips pressing against his forehead.
“Luhan,” Sehun says quietly. “Keep your eyes closed and trust me.”
It’s a bold thing for a seven year old to say. It’s even bolder when Luhan nods, hand gripping Sehun’s wrist. Sehun may only be seven but he has more experience than those his age. Sehun sucks in a breath and leads Luhan through the mess. Sehun counts five bodies in total by the time he’s halfway down the room. He feels tears slide down his cheeks and Luhan whimpers behind him.
“Sehun the floor is wet,” Luhan whispers.
“It’s just water,” Sehun responds when his own feet step in another puddle of blood. “Do not think to much of it. We must keep going.”
Both Sehun and Luhan turn their heads to where the voice is coming from. Sehun bites at his lip when he sees his father jog over to them. He has the urge to run closer to him and be held in his arms because he’s scared beyond belief. But he keep his hand firmly gripped with Luhan’s, knowing he has bigger problems than his own fright.
“Are you both okay,” his father asks, stepping closer to them. When they nod, he continues. “We need to get out of the castle. There has been an attack.”
“Is my father and mother okay?” Luhan’s voice is shaky and his cheeks are tear stained. His fingers curl around Sehun’s hand tightly, neither of them caring that it’s sweaty.
Sehun’s father nods. “They have been relocated to a safe spot. It is now time for you to do the same.”
Luhan tilts his torso down in a deep bow. “You are a wonderful guardian, Mr. Oh.”
“This is no time for formalities my lord. There is also no need to thank me. It is my job to make sure that you are safe and secure.” Mr. Oh turns to look at Sehun, giving him a small nod. “You have done well son, thank you for protecting Luhan during my absence. Now, let us proceed.”
Sehun gives up his command over Luhan as his father leads them. He walks besides Luhan instead of in front of him. Their hands stay connected though and Sehun asks Luhan if he’s okay every few minutes.
It was Sehun’s dream. His dream to become a good enough guardian like his father and protect Luhan. It would take a long time to do so. There was years of training involved. Training for martial arts and how to use swords that Sehun didn’t know how to pronounce correctly. Training on what to do in such situations as the one they’re in now.
His father was the royal family’s guardian far before he was born. He started training when he turned eighteen. A migrant from Korea, in China for working. Sehun was never told how his father befriended the royal family but he figures that part isn’t so important. Just after he turned thirty was when he was appointed their guardian. Sehun’s mother was pregnant at the time with him. Sehun’s father always told him how hard it was to be away from her during that period. When Sehun was born however, his mother passed, leaving him alone. The royal family had graciously allowed Mr. Oh to bring Sehun into the castle to grow up and be with him.
It was how Sehun and Luhan became such good of friends. Luhan had watched over Sehun while he was younger. There were nannies of course, watching after both of the children, but it was Luhan who always made sure the nannies changed Sehun, fed him, and helped him when he needed it.
When Sehun was five, his father told him that one day he’ll be the one protecting Luhan and his family. It was an exciting moment for him. He would go into Luhan’s playroom while the other was napping or out doing Prince things. Sehun would pull on their pretend costumes, mostly the knight outfit made of pure silver. He would grab the wooden sword out of the play box and swing it around, pretending that the large stuffed bear was Luhan. For those hours alone, he made every situation happen in his head and did whatever was needed to save the teddy bear. It was then that Sehun made it his dream to one day become Luhan’s guardian.
“Who is attacking the castle, father?”
Mr. Oh sucks in a breath, letting out a soft sigh. “We are not sure of whom. The Chinese army has not arrived yet and we have no information.” He holds his arm out when the reach the castle doors. Mr. Oh looks back at Sehun and Luhan, eyes slightly downward and a serious expression that tugs his lips down too far. “Sehun. When I open the doors, you are to run. Run to the place that I have shown you in the forest. I will be right behind you. No matter what happens, you are to get Luhan to the forest and keep him safe.”
Sehun feels his heart tremble and he grips Luhan’s hand tighter when he lets his father’s words sink in. He leans his torso down in a deep bow, pressing his lips tightly together as he blinks back tears. “Yes, father.” When Sehun leans up, his father presses a kiss to his forehead and Sehun can no longer hold back the tears that were hanging on the edge of his eyes.
The castle doors open and Sehun looks at Luhan. He whispers to him to keep hold of his hand and trust him. Luhan gives him a quick nod, his other hand coming to rest on top of Sehun’s. Once Sehun can see outside, he sucks in a breath and his feet begin to move.
It’s slow motion as his small feet step out onto the gravel of the front gardens. The bright colored flowers and bushes that were made into beautiful designs were now destroyed, some burning brightly with fire. The sky is illuminated by flashes of light that mimic lightning. The sounds of yelling and explosions make Sehun grind his teeth together. He can hear Luhan screaming out of fright behind him but Sehun keeps his eyes straight, focused on the forest line that seems miles away.
He passes the bodies of men in royal garments. Some of them he’s seen around the castle, others are ones he doesn’t recognize. Sehun tries his best not to get distracted by the faces of those he grew up with. But his eyes become blurry and he has to wipe at them several times. It’s when there is a loud screaming not far behind him that he turns around.
Time pauses around him when he sees his father fall to the ground. Sehun’s hair falls down around his face due to his abrupt stop. A large spear is straight through his father’s chest. Sehun pulls Luhan closer, screaming out his father’s name as he sees his eyes close. His heart races and Sehun is sure that he’s going to pass out. Time is stopped but rain begins to fall. There’s an unnerving silence around them, the only sounds are those of Sehun’s sobs and the burning of the garden around them.
“Sehun,” Luhan says, hands cupping his cheeks. “Sehun, this is not the time.”
Luhan’s voice is quiet and it makes him calm down slightly, as much as possible. Their eyes meet and Sehun has to push past the sobs in his throat to speak. “I-I will get you to safety.”
Time begins again when Sehun grabs Luhan’s hand and begins running. He runs faster than he thinks is capable. He’s sure that Luhan is struggling behind him but as long as he can feel his hand in his, he keeps going. His father had trusted him to get Luhan to safety. It was the official pass of his reign to Sehun. It’s a brave task for a seven year old to take on but Sehun’s never been more confident.
They reach the forest only to find more destruction and peril. Luckily, it seems as if all of it has long passed. It doesn’t take long for Sehun to find their secret hideout. It was one that they had made themselves a year or so ago. Sehun pushes a plank of wood that resembles a door at the base of a large tree. He pulls Luhan inside, shutting the plank behind them.
In the dead of night, the small drawings and little trinkets they had collected over the year can’t be seen. The small drawings made of the juices of berries from the forest that depicted deers and other wildlife. There was one of Luhan as the Emperor and Sehun as the knight. Sehun feels the chain of a necklace they had once found in the forest. It was rusted and the chain was broken in half but it had a beautiful blue gem in the middle that made both of them gasp in happiness. It was once a place of comfort.
“Luhan,” Sehun pants quietly, trying to catch his breath. “Are you okay?”
“Yes,” the prince responds.
Sehun nods to himself, head leaning back against the inside of the tree. His lips part and he lets his fingers grab the loose dirt under them and pull it towards him. His eyes swell up with tears but he keeps his lips tightly pressed together so Luhan doesn’t realize he’s crying. It doesn’t seem to work because seconds later, Luhan’s arms are wrapped around him. The prince pulls him close, hand running down his back slowly, attempting to soothe what he can.
“You are very brave,” Luhan says quietly. “Your father was brave as well, to risk his life for us. He left honorably and you should be proud.” Luhan’s hands run up Sehun’s back to cup his cheeks.
Sehun can’t see Luhan’s face but he tries to lock eyes with him. His hands grip at Luhan’s shirt, pulling him closer. It takes him a moment to find his words but Luhan is patient, fingers brushing the tears away as he waits.
“My father trusted me to protect you and I will. I may not be able to do much now but I will do everything I can to make sure you are safe.” Sehun whispers, lips parting to speak again. “I promise to protect you no matter what happens in the future. I will train and I will fight to protect you. Please believe me.”
“I trust you,” is all Luhan says. It isn’t a long babble like Sehun’s speech was but it’s enough for Sehun.
They hug in silence for longer than Sehun can keep track off. He hears the screaming from out in the distance. The explosions and the start of fires. Luhan falls asleep when there is a pause in commotion. Sehun tries his best to keep Luhan warm in just his arms as he sleeps. He tries his best to not let his emotions get the best of him as he sits in silence. His father once told him that he has to be very strong to protect the prince. He told him that there are things in life that will knock him down. Things that will tug at his mind for hours on end. There would be time to let it all out. There would be time to indulge in letting emotions take over. But no matter what, it was his job to make sure the prince was safe.
Sehun opens his eyes to rays of light shining on his face. His nose scrunches up as he reaches up to rub at his eyes. Luhan remains curled up against his side. It’s only now that Sehun realizes how dirty they are. Their feet stained with dirt and the dark red of dried blood belonging to those who were supposed to protect them. Luhan’s pale cheeks have blotches of dirt and his nose is red from the cold.
“Luhan,” Sehun says, hand pressing against Luhan’s side. “Luhan it is morning.”
They both sit in their hideout for several minutes, neither of them exactly sure what to do. Neither of them sure if they want to leave to the destruction around them. Sehun is the first to move. He opens the door slowly, the bright sun piercing his eyes. He lets them adjust before looking around.
“Stay here for a moment. I need to make sure it is safe.”
Luhan gives a nod as Sehun slides out of the hideout. He sucks in a breath, the smell of the forest comforting as it’s always been. There isn’t a sound as he stands quietly, watching the way the leaves on the trees move. Luhan peeks his head out behind him and once Sehun gives him the nod, he slides out into the open.
“Stay close to me.”
Sehun leads Luhan out of the forest slowly. It isn’t hurried and rushed as it was last night. There aren’t any fires burning or explosions shaking the ground. Birds chirp as they did yesterday morning. Sehun holds Luhan close as they pass the bodies that have been left for nature to consume. He reaches down and picks up a spear that lays on the ground, almost hidden by the grass. Luhan doesn’t question it and continues to follow Sehun.
The garden isn’t flourishing like it once was. Beautiful yellow and white flowers are nonexistent. The only color being the uniforms of the family’s many guards. The fountain in the middle continues to rotate water. Sehun stops at it, taking his shirt off and letting it fall in the fountain. He twists the water out until it comes clean. It’s pressed against Luhan’s cheeks, the elder gasping at the coldness. Sehun repeats the process until Luhan’s face is completely clean. He moves on to the rest of his body but Luhan stops him, saying he can take a bath once inside.
Luhan guides him away from his father. Sehun does his best not to think of it again. He doesn’t think his body can handle another breakdown at the moment. He’s still on the job. Still on the mission of getting Luhan back safely.
There are guards standing in front of the castle doors. Ones decked out in the colors of the royal family. Sehun lets out a relieved sigh, teeth pressing into his bottom lip as he grips Luhan’s hand. They bow as they make eye contact with Luhan. Two of the guards open the doors, letting the two boys go inside.
Luhan whispers that he’s going to take them to the throne room where they were told his parents were waiting. Sehun volunteers to stay behind, knowing that he was never allowed inside. Luhan smiles at him, telling him that he must come since he is his guardian now. Sehun’s eyes light up and his cheeks turn a light red.
The throne room is grander than Sehun could have ever imagined. There are large chairs that are shimmering with gold and silver. Deep red cuts the gold and bits of green are in the form of different sized emeralds. The room is bigger than any other room in the castle. Even the large thrones are small compared to it.
Sehun is brought back to reality when Luhan lets go of his hand. He runs up to where the thrones are, wrapping his arms around his mother. Sehun stands carefully at the beginning of a long red carpet that leads to the seats. He stands with his hands behind his back and his head held high. He watches as Luhan is hugged and kissed by his parents, both of them on the verge of tears.
They eventually turn to look at him. Luhan’s hand is in his mother’s and his mother’s in his father’s. “Sehun, come here.”
He sucks in a breath before walking towards them, careful to stay on the red carpet in front of him. His eyes meet those of the Emperor and he feels his body stiffen.
“I would like to thank you for protecting Luhan. He has told us of your bravery.” The Emperor’s voice is deep, as it always was. Sehun nods slowly, biting his lip as the Emperor begins to speak again. “Your father was a great man. One that took his role seriously and honorably. While you are young now, I would like you to take the place of your father in protecting our son when you are old enough.”
Sehun bows embarrassingly fast. His fingers curl behind his back and he looks straight down to his dirty feet. He frowns and crosses them in hope that they aren’t that noticeable. “Thank you sir. I promise to protect Luhan no matter what.” It takes a moment for Sehun to realize that his dream is finally coming true. He squeezes his eyes shut and bites his lip, whispering only to himself that he promises to make his father proud as well.
“I just do not understand why I must be the one to go! I do not like wine nor do I like parties. I would personally enjoy resting in my quarters and reading a book.” Luhan sighs, pressing his fingers to his forehead as he sits on the velvet chair next to the bookcase. “I find it grand that my father is expanding our land but I really do not do parties. They know that too!”
Sehun raises his eyebrow as he leans back against the wall, watching as Luhan rests his legs on the armrest, laughing softly when the lower half of his gown rides up and reveals his tights underneath. Luhan puffs his cheeks out, pushing his gown back up and giving Sehun a glare.
“Your highness, I believe they would just like you to attend because it is sort of your kingdom now too since you have come of age.” With a loud groan from Luhan, Sehun tilts his head, fingers tapping against the wall. “Perhaps I can convince them to let you stay home though. What do you think they would go for?
“You are not thinking about faking anymore threats are you?” Luhan tilts his head, hand pushing off his hat and letting it fall to the floor, fingers running through his black hair.
Sehun laughs nervously, remembering the last time he tried to get Luhan out of doing an event. It had been a rather stupid attempt and Sehun was punished for it by both Luhan and his parents. It wasn’t the best idea to tell the Empress that he heard rumors of someone wanting to kidnap Luhan and that it would be best for him to stay inside. It had almost cost him his role and possibly his life.
“No. I was thinking more along the lines of you having to study for your poetry exam coming the day after the party.”
Luhan smiles, jumping off of the chair and making his way to Sehun. His hands cup Sehun’s cheeks, squeezing them together as he laughs. “You are a genius, Sehun!”
“I try my best,” Sehun says, speech muffled and distorted from the way Luhan has his cheeks squished together.
Sehun smiles when Luhan’s hands fall from his face. He tilts his head against the wall, watching carefully as Luhan walks around the room, humming softly. It’s sometimes hard for Sehun to remember that Luhan used to be a tiny, ten year old. He’s grown significantly taller in the last twelve years. His arms have muscles from the training he’s done. His thighs are thick and full of strength. The only thing that Sehun swears hasn’t changed is his face. It’s gotten slightly longer, jawline developing and cheeks hollowing out ever so slightly. His eyes are the same big, brown, deer eyes as they were. Nose still small and button like.
Luhan’s definitely grown into a handsome prince. Sehun often finds himself staring at Luhan’s features. Watching how he moves when he walks. How his hands make irrelevant movements when he talks. Or how his nose scrunches up when Sehun says something he doesn’t like. Sehun thinks it’s truly an honor to have been able to grow up with Luhan and watch him become the man he is.
The same goes for Sehun though. He was no longer the tiny seven year old that had a lisp and hair that always got in his face. He had passed the awkward preteen years where his knees would always knock against each other and his official gowns never fit. He was now just of age, turning nineteen only a month ago right before Luhan turned twenty-two days later. Sehun now had a slightly muscular body, muscles only really showing when he flexed his arms. The women at the textile shops always told him he had the body of a girl with his wide hips and tiny waist. They would also always complain that his butt was getting bigger and how it was difficult to fix his garment around it. Sehun never complained though. He was quite happy with how puberty treated him.
Luhan sighs as he purses his lips. “That reminds me that I actually do have to study for the poetry test.” He pushes his hair back, flicking his head as his bangs come to rest on his forehead. Sehun wonders why Luhan didn’t grow his hair out and pull it back like his father. But then again, Sehun has the same short hair as Luhan so he couldn’t say much. “You will help me, right?”
Sehun blinks and laughs softly as he pushes himself off of the wall. “I am not much of a poet. You should already know that, Luhan.”
The elder looks at him, head tilting and tongue coming out to lick at his lips. “Then you must at least let me know if I am doing things right!”
It was always hard to deny Luhan generally but when he would widen his eyes and blink at him like a puppy, Sehun always found his wall crumble down much faster. “Fine, fine. Still, remember that I am not a poet and if your answers come out wrong or your poems are not good do not blame me.”
“I will blame it on my incredible responsibilities that I must do every single day as the prince.” Luhan sighs, hand falling on his forehead and his head tilting backwards.
They both laugh when Sehun hits his chest and proceeds to cross his arms in front of his chest. “Stop being so dramatic.”
The plan works well and Luhan’s able to get out of the party. It took some convincing but once Sehun mentioned how big of a grade the test was, the Empress sighed and quietly agreed that it would be best if Luhan were to stay home and study. There will be other parties, she had said to him before dismissing him.
Luhan had been waiting in the library and it took Sehun nearly twenty minutes to find him. Luhan was overjoyed to hear that he didn’t have to go to the party, claiming that his time would be better spent studying, which he hated, than going to a party with a bunch of prissy important people that all knew him but he didn’t know them. Sehun tilts his head and mentions that it probably would be a good idea to get to know those prissy people considering they were going to help him rule the country when the time came. It didn’t seem to impress Luhan though and Sehun couldn’t help but laugh.
They spent the rest of the day doing almost nothing. Sehun requested they go take a walk in the back gardens. It was then that Luhan grinned and mentioned he wanted to go for a swim since the weather was finally beginning to get nice. Sehun had laughed and shook his head, biting his lip. Luhan wouldn’t have it though. He grabs Sehun’s hand and pulls him through the castle, ignoring the pleas that Sehun was whispering.
The air outside was warmer than previous days. May was coming to an end and summer was beginning. It still wasn’t as warm as summer but it was as cold as spring.
“Luhan, we are not even in the proper garments to go swimming right now. I think we should go and change into our swimsuits.” Sehun tried one more time when they came to a stop at the pool. He bites his lip as he watches Luhan begin to undo his gown.
“Nonsense,” he says flatly. “Besides, the sun is setting and it is not like anyone will disturb us.”
Sehun shuts up when Luhan drops the gown gently on the floor. He picks it up, folding it neatly on the chair nearby. Sehun watches as Luhan’s chest flexes as he’s taking off his tights, leaving him in only his underwear. They had seen each other in just underwear plenty of times before. So it was really nothing to be nervous about, Sehun says to himself. There’s nothing different than any other time. He shakes the shyness and anxiety out his mind and begins to take off his own gown.
The prince is the first to step into the pool. He gasps and shivers, body jumping on the step as he laughs. “So cold. Hurry Sehun!”
It takes Sehun a minute to move. A minute to push away any thoughts in his head and just go with it. He laughs and runs towards the pool. One jump off the edge and his body is hovering over the water before crashing in. Even under the water he hears Luhan screaming and laughing. When he floats up to the surface, Luhan splashes him with water, sticking his tongue out.
“I can not believe you!”
Sehun smiles and sinks down under the water. He opens his eyes, blinking a few times until things aren’t so blurry. He smiles to himself as he wraps his arms around Luhan’s legs, lifting them up and tugging him down under the water. Sehun watches as Luhan’s face contorts and his eyes open to look at him.
They both push themselves up, laughing when they break the surface. Luhan coughs softly and Sehun swims closer to pat his back. With his hand on Luhan’s soft skin, he presses his lips together, watching as the Prince swims away, yelling out that he challenges Sehun to race him to the other end. Sehun’s fingers tap against the top of the water before smiling and pushing himself through the water, mind free of any thoughts.
Mornings are the hardest, Sehun realizes one day. His body has adjusted to wake with the sun and now that summer is approaching, it means five-thirty most of the time. Sometimes he gets lucky and he’ll sleep until around six but it’s rare. It’s then that he makes his way to his bathroom and washes up. First his face then his teeth. He applies a very thin layer of lotion to his face and nothing else before leaving the bathroom.
His gown is put on with care, knowing his appearance is very important to the Emperor and Empress. Luhan doesn’t care as much but It’s Sehun that cares about how he looks in front of Luhan. Today he chooses the deep red gown. It goes the best with his raven colored hair and his light complexion. Sehun sucks in a breath, flattening his bangs in the mirror next to the door. Once he’s satisfied, he opens the door and begins his day officially.
Luhan never wakes up until around eight, giving Sehun plenty of time to get his clothing ready and make him breakfast. Over the years, Sehun’s role as a guard had increased. It was now more than just watching over him when he went out into public or at night. Though, it wasn’t Luhan’s parent’s idea. It was Sehun. He had offered to be more of an assistant or nanny to Luhan. He never minded it one bit. There was never one morning where he didn’t want to prepare breakfast or do Luhan’s laundry. The same feeling didn’t change throughout the day either. Luhan was his best friend and has been ever since he was little. Nothing was ever a chore to do.
At just after eight, Sehun walks into Luhan’s room, making sure to enter quietly incase the prince was still asleep. He was. Luhan’s sprawled out on his back, limbs halfway out of the blanket and head leaned back against the pillow. Sehun smiles softly as he shuts the door behind him. Unlike when he was younger, Luhan was a very wild sleeper now. His body would end up in all positions and limbs would be contorted in ways Sehun didn’t think possible. It always made him laugh seeing what position Luhan had gotten himself into every morning.
He remains quiet while picking out his clothing. Today was blue. A light baby blue that resembled the sky outside. It’s Luhan’s favorite color, most of the gowns in the closet were shades and mixes of blues. But pastel blue was Luhan’s favorite of them all.
By the time Sehun’s finished gathering the clothing Luhan needs for the day, Luhan’s waking up. Sehun watches quietly from the closet door, holding the clothing against his chest. The prince sits up, hands rubbing his eyes as he yawns. Luhan stretches, his pajama shirt rising up to reveal the gentle skin of his stomach. Luhan slides out of bed slowly, hand pushing his hair back in attempts of neatening it. He smiles and walks past Sehun, humming a sleepy good morning before walking into the bedroom.
Sehun swallows, fingers pressing into the fabric of Luhan’s gown. He closes his eyes, shaking his head as he tries to wish the thoughts away. It’s hard because he can still smell Luhan in the air. The slight muskiness he has in the morning. It makes Sehun’s heart beat faster and his fingers tremble every so often. Time has made them closer but time has also caused other things.
He’s snapped out of his mind when Luhan comes out of the bathroom smelling of mint and lotion. He smiles, sleep still in his eyes as he looks at Sehun. “You are late with my clothes this morning. Normally they are waiting on the bed for me,” Luhan says with a gentle laugh as he takes the clothing from Sehun.
Sehun puffs his cheeks out in a pout, tilting his head as he watches Luhan go back into the bathroom. “Sorry for making you wait, my majesty.” Sehun covers his mouth, trying not to laugh. Luhan’s always hated being called any kind of formal name. He preferred Luhan and nothing more than Luhan.
It only takes a second for Luhan to come out of the bathroom and hit Sehun on the top of his head. The younger boy gasps and laughs, arms flying up to try and block himself. “Sorry! I am sorry, Luhan!” It’s a pathetic excuse for a real apology because he can’t even say it without laughter breaking his words. Luhan continues to hit him until Sehun grabs his arms, holding them tightly above his head.
They meet eyes and they’re both panting from laughter. Sehun’s lips press together, chest tightening when Luhan’s eyes don’t leave his. Please, Sehun thinks. Despite his silent plea, Sehun is the one to pull away. Luhan’s eyes linger on him longer than they should and Sehun leans his head down, attempting to cover the blush on his pale cheeks.
“We have a schedule today so you should get ready sooner than later.”
Sehun doesn’t see Luhan’s reaction but watches as his feet turn and walk towards the bathroom. It takes Luhan longer than usual to get dressed but Sehun waits patiently by the door. He tries to keep his mind off of thoughts it shouldn’t be dwelling on. It proves harder than he thought but it’s enough to keep him calm while Luhan is getting dressed.
“Where are we going today?” Luhan’s voice is softer and quieter than usual as they walk down the hallway. He walks with his head tilted down and his fingers playing with the top part of his gown.
The younger watches quietly, before tilting his head away and focusing on something other than Luhan. “Your mother requested that we go and have a new gown made for you.”
Luhan’s brows furrow and Sehun watches him shake his head in the corner of his eyes. “I don’t need another gown. I have plenty and I do not think I will grow any more.” He puffs his cheeks out and sighs. “She probably did not even bother to look in my closet.”
“Perhaps it is because all you wear are the blue gowns that she believes you have so few,” Sehun suggests, eyebrow raising when Luhan looks at him.
“It is not my fault that my favorite color is blue!” Luhan retorts with a huff.
Sehun shakes his head, pushing open the castle doors with a small laugh. “She says you are getting your portrait done soon and you need a proper gown with the colors of the family.”
“Portraits are boring though,” Luhan huffs, looking up at Sehun. “You know how long they take.”
Humming, Sehun taps his fingers against his chin. “Perhaps I can convince your parents to let me take you out for a treat afterwards. Maybe a piece of cake from your favorite bakery.”
Sehun watches as Luhan’s eyes light up. “The one that makes the strawberry cake that has actual strawberries in it.”
“That exact one,” Sehun says with a smile, happy that Luhan seems to be back to his old self.
“Do you promise?”
“I promise,” Sehun nods, holding his hand out. Luhan grabs his hand and shakes it with a firm grip, smiling both with his mouth and eyes.
Watching Luhan get fit for gowns is something Sehun has grown to enjoy. He watches as the women put Luhan up on a pedestal, not until after they promise to be gentle and take care of him to Sehun. He always takes his favorite seat while he waits, the bright blue velvet chair that sits off to the side. He leans back, elbow pressed against the armrest and chin nuzzled in his palm. He watches as Luhan makes faces at him every time they turn him around to face Sehun. Luhan mouths that ‘this sucks,’ or that ‘they need to hurry up.’ Sehun always tries his best not to laugh but Luhan makes it difficult.
There are always other things on his mind as he watches Luhan get new gowns. He doesn’t mean to stare at the way Luhan’s chest rises and falls when he breathes. Or the way Luhan always sucks in a breath when the women get close to his crotch. It’s also always when Luhan makes a sad face towards Sehun. The younger can’t help but stare at the thickness of Luhan’s thighs either. He knows how strong they are due to sparing matches and roughhousing they do on occasion.
Most of the time Sehun breathes in Luhan’s beauty. His mind still has trouble accepting that Luhan has grown into such a wonderful man. An amazing personality that has kept them friends for all of Sehun’s life. A body that would make anyone’s heart skip beats and palms become sweaty. What Sehun has the hardest time accepting is the fact that he’s had all those years with Luhan and he still can’t come to terms with his own feelings.
It would be looked down upon terribly if they were to get in a relationship. Sehun is not royalty, no matter how many years he’s spent in the castle. It would never be accepted by the kingdom and he’s most certain he would lose his job. But as time passes, it’s harder and harder to keep the feelings in check. Sehun finds himself slipping up more often than not now. The long stares at Luhan and the gentle touches to his sides when they walk. It’s always been that way but now they mean something different. They no longer are stares and touches of good friends but ones of admiration and want. It’s getting harder to want to keep his feelings a secret. Before Sehun had always justified that he was underage and Luhan would surely reject him because of such. Now however, he is of age and ready. Ready to just grab Luhan by the cheeks and kiss him to let him know.
Maybe he needs a bigger slip to make it happen.
June fifth is the only day that Sehun requests off. Even then, he’s only off until lunch time and then he’s back to work. It’s the day he dreads the most but always is relieved when it comes.
The cemetery isn’t far from the castle. It takes him just over ten minutes to walk there, sometimes longer depending on his speed. He always wears his nicest uniform, a dark black gown with golden accents. His hair is pushed back and one of his father’s uniform hats on his head. There are always the freshest and most attractive roses and other flowers gripped in his hands.
His father’s stone is off to the right. Thankfully, it isn’t one of the ones that have no writing. It isn’t one of them whose is crooked and uncared for. It was placed with care by Sehun himself years ago with the help of another guard.
Sehun sucks in a breath as he stares at his father’s name. He kneels down, placing the flowers on the grass in front of the headstone. There are several other packs of flowers, mostly from the workers in the castle that come out every now and then. Sehun always makes sure that his are the largest and filled with the flowers his father loved.
“How are you today, father?” Sehun says quietly with a gentle smile. “Today is your birthday. I can not believe it is here already.” Sehun licks his lips as he sits down slowly on the grass, legs crossed the best they can be. “I have so much to tell you from the last time I came.”
It takes a while for Sehun to get through everything he needs to tell his father. He starts with how much Luhan has grown. How his hair is now almost to his eyes and how his father would always complain and tell him to shave it all off. He talks about how the royal family has expanded their land and the grand party they held for it. How the roses have bloomed so beautifully this year and how Sehun thinks of him every time he goes out to see them.
“Father,” he whispers quietly, the tightness in his throat beginning to become painful. “I wish you were here with me. I feel as though I have so much to learn. So much that only you could have taught me.” It’s when Sehun sucks in a breath that he loses it.
He squeezes his eyes shut, knees coming up to his chest and face being buried against his legs. He lets the sobs break from his lips, filling the air with the raspy gasps and coughs. There is no shame in the way he cries for his father. He doesn’t worry about being strong for others at the moment. He knows his father wouldn’t want him to cry because of him. He would hate it and tell him that he doesn’t need tears. There wasn’t a sad moment in his father’s life during his time with the family. He lived a happy life that ended in honor.
The hours pass and Sehun sits quietly, tears occasionally falling from his eyes. They come in bursts until he gets ahold of himself again. And when the sun is directly above him, Sehun stands up, wishing his father goodbye and telling him that he loves him one last time before departing.
The walk back is always the hardest. Thankfully all the thoughts he had before have been let out and now he only has to worry about making himself look presentable for the royal family. His hands wipe at the tears that have stopped moving on his cheeks. He fans at his face, hoping to cool it down and make the redness go away. He relies on hope that he’s done a good job at recovering when he walks back into the castle, mind cleared and ready for his duties.
Luhan is the first one to greet him. He’s standing at the bottom of the grand staircase, hands curled around the railing. Sehun looks at him as he walks over to him, head tilting up to look at the elder.
“Are you okay?” Luhan asks gently, teeth pressing against his bottom lip.
Sehun nods, parting his lips and letting them curl into a gentle smile. “I am always okay.”
Luhan doesn’t ask anything else as they walk up the stairs together. Sehun swallows when Luhan’s hand finds its way into Sehun’s, fingers pushing between his. “I miss him too,” the prince says. “He was a father for me as well.”
They make it into the bedroom just as the tears in Sehun’s eyes spill over again. Luhan frowns, hands shutting the door before walking over to Sehun. The cool hands cup his cheeks, thumbs brushing away the tears. Sehun shakes his head, tilting his head away and attempting to pull Luhan’s hands away from his face.
“I told you I am fine, Luhan.”
“Why must you do this,” the prince whispers, wrapping his arms around Sehun’s shoulders. “Stop acting like you are not allowed to have feelings.” His words come out harshly but Sehun listens quietly. “You do not always have to be this strong person that acts like a robot.” Luhan’s fingers play against the back of Sehun’s neck, tips gently pushing into his hair. “It is okay to be sad about this. It is okay to cry and be sad about anything.”
When Sehun’s eyes meet Luhan’s, his lips part but no words come out. Luhan’s hands come back around to his cheeks, cupping them even softer than before. And at that moment Sehun thinks it’s the slip he’s been waiting for. He leans forward slowly until his forehead is pressed against Luhan’s. He watches as Luhan’s eyes meet his and his lips part.
“It is okay, Sehun. It is okay.”
Sehun closes his eyes as his nose brushes against Luhan’s. His hands come up to hold the back of the prince’s neck, only to have it tilt in his hands so their lips become closer. Sehun sucks in a breath, shoving everything out of his mind except Luhan.
“It is okay,” Sehun whispers back before pressing his lips against Luhan’s.
The prince doesn’t pull back or show any signs of pulling away. Sehun lets his lips part to suck in a breath and it’s Luhan who closes the gap again. Luhan’s hands find their way in Sehun’s hair, his fingers grab the hat off of his head, tossing it blindly towards the bed, knowing it’s large enough that he can’t miss. His fingers tangle themselves in jet black hair, making Sehun press against him.
Their lips part and their eyes open, small puffs of hot air hitting each other’s lips. “You did not run away,” Sehun says in disbelief, eyes blinking at Luhan.
“Why would I?”
Sehun bites at his lip, heart fluttering in his chest as he runs his hands down the back of Luhan’s neck. “Because of this. I thought-”
“You thought I did not want this?” Luhan asks with a small smile and quiet laugh. “You did not even bother to ask, Oh Sehun.” Luhan tugs on his hair just enough to make Sehun notice. “How could I not want this? Did you honestly think I felt nothing for you after all these years?”
Sehun’s teeth press against his bottom one, rolling it gently before letting out a shy laugh. His head tilts down and he covers his face with his hands. “I can not believe I was so stupid.”
“What happened to the little Sehun that would say everything and anything that he was thinking of?” Luhan’s finger pokes against his nose, smiling when Sehun peeks at him.
“He started to like the prince,” Sehun says as he watches Luhan turn just as red as he is. He cups his cheeks and presses a gentle kiss against his lips. “Very much.”