Sehun finds himself out in the garden more often than not. Even in the cold October weather, he stands with no jacket. His cheeks become rosy in a matter of minutes and he can often see his breath as he breathes. The garden offers him a place to think. His fingers run across the dying flowers as he walks past them, signs of winter becoming more and more obvious.
Becoming nothing more than a guard is the hardest thing Sehun has had to do. Luhan isn’t making it any easier either. He sometimes grabs his hand, fingers pushing through his as he whispers that he’s sorry. Sehun always lets their hands linger together a little too long, body aching for more.
Sometimes late at night after he wishes Luhan a goodbye, he’ll sit quietly out on the chair in front of the door. His eyes will swell with tears and his cheeks will stain with them. He doesn’t dare let out a sound though.
Letting out his emotions is what got him in that mess to begin with.
Jongin arrives early in mid November. His cheeks are rosy from the walk through the castle garden. He’s dressed in heavy fur with a matching hat. Unfortunately, Sehun is the one to open the door for him. He bites at his lip, bowing as his arms pull the castle door open all the way, swallowing his words. It takes most of his strength to push the door back shut. The guard on the other side bows to him before resuming his duty outside.
“Luhan is in the bath at the moment. He never takes long so I am sure he will be down to meet you shortly.” Sehun presses his lips together tightly after he’s finished speaking, eyes trained on the floor.
“Hey,” Jongin says, hand coming to rest on Sehun’s back a little too hard. “Not going to walk me up to his room to make sure I do not peek in on him?”
Sehun knows that there’s a sickening grin on Jongin’s face. He can tell by the way he asked the question. He sucks in a breath before looking up at him, eyes narrowing only slightly. “There is no need to do that. The prince trusts you so I may remain down here.”
Both of them look up towards the top of the stairs. Luhan stands above them, hand gripping at the railing, hair still wet and gown not fully on properly. The prince walks down the stairs slowly, teeth pressing at his bottom lip. Sehun presses his lips tightly together, taking a step back, not wanting to interfere with the couple. He tries his best not to look at Luhan when he stops in front of them.
Luhan looks at Sehun first. His eyes wide and lips parted. Before he can say what’s on the tip of his tongue, Jongin kisses his cheek. Sehun tilts his head down, knowing it would be rude to watch. He feels a familiar hand on his arm but he doesn’t tilt his head to look at Luhan.
“Shall we go to your room, Luhan? Sehun has agreed to stay down here as to not disturb us.”
The prince doesn’t say anything. Sehun only knows that he agreed when he hears their footsteps becoming further and further away. He catches the stare that Luhan’s giving him before they can’t see each other anymore.
Sehun sucks in a breath, fingers pushing his hair back. No matter how many times he says ‘I am okay’ in his mind, his chest still feels a thousand pounds and the back of his throat still tenses. It feels even heavier knowing that Jongin isn’t just in the form of letters anymore. He’s in the castle. He’s with Luhan, alone, in his room. Jongin seems so in love. The way he writes, the way he does everything. Luhan may not look as happy but his actions say otherwise.
Luhan’s told Sehun he loves him several times. Late at night, in the morning, while they’re out walking together, multiple times a day. He tries to hold his hand while they’re alone and kisses his cheek when no ones looking. But he hasn’t tried to get back into a relationship with Sehun. He thinks that might be the most painful part of it all. Luhan acts like he wants him. Acts like a boyfriend and tries to do the things they did before. Yet he’s with Jongin. Sehun figures he can’t exactly be mad at Luhan. They aren’t together therefore Luhan isn’t cheating on him. Sehun has no relationship hold over Luhan. He isn’t his. Sehun is a mere guard who shouldn’t have gotten attached in the first place. There are so many reason not to be mad and not to be upset but Sehun has a hard time accepting those reasons.
He shakes his head and comes back to reality after some time. His fingers twitch against his pants and his tongue licks at his lips. Sehun pats down his gown before walking out of the grand hall.
The servants hall is a place that Sehun never really goes. He’s always been with Luhan. Able to eat with the family and sleep in his own bed, courtesy of the prince. Without Luhan though, both physically and mentally, Sehun finds himself going there more and more.
It isn’t nearly as glamorous as the rest of the castle. One of the workers told him it was the only part remaining of the previous castle that had been there. It was worn down, some of the bricks on the wall loose and there wasn’t any kind of insulation. He often cringed at the amount of spiders hanging in the corners of the room and under the tables. It made him thankful that he had never had to live in the small beds that were too close and on top of one another.
This time, it’s the first day he’s spent more than five minutes in the area. He scrunches his nose up, frowning at the terrible smell that’s overwhelming him. Most of the workers look at him with wide eyes, likely wondering why he’s down with them and not up with the royals. Sehun bites his lip, looking around for a place to sit since he plans on being there for at least a few hours.
The boy turns his head, looking at the other one who’s called his name. He recognizes the boy as one of the many guards around the castle. Sehun furrows his brows, lips pushing down because he doesn’t know the other’s name.
“Why are you down here? This is not a place for you.” The other tilts his head, hands on his hips as he licks his lips. “You should be upstairs guarding the prince as your duty is.”
Sehun shakes his head, lips pursing into a small pout. “The prince is safe with prince Jongin of Korea.”
The other sighs and shakes his head, hand hitting against Sehun’s arm. Sehun gasps and grips his arm, brows furrowing. “Ow, what was that for?”
“Come with me.”
Sehun does as he’s told and follows the boy. He’s led down a dark hallway that’s plagued with the smell of bad water and no light. It’s hard for him to see and he’s stepped in one too many puddles of brown water that have him gagging.
“I am Baekhyun, by the way.” The boy says as they stop in front of a door with a single torch hanging next to it.
“Baekhyun?” Sehun blinks, sucking in a breath before covering his nose. “Are you Korean?”
The door opens and Baekhyun pulls Sehun inside. “Born and raised,” he says back in Korean, a bright grin on his face.
The room is much better than the other rooms and hallways in the servants area. It’s crowded with a few beds but there’s no horrible smell and it’s decorated with handdrawn pictures and messages. Sehun looks around, lips parted at the round room.
“Anyway,” he continues, the Chinese completely gone in his voice. “I must show you something.”
Sehun watches as Baekhyun walks over to one of the stacks of beds. He kneels down, body going halfway under the bed frame. Sehun tilts his head, attempting to see what the boy was doing. He hears a loud click and a creak that follows it. Baekhyun shuffles out slowly, a wooden box in his hands. He motions for Sehun to come close with his fingers as he sits down on the bed above him.
“First,” Baekhyun says when Sehun sits down next to him. “This is between you and I. No one else is supposed to know of this. It could mean trouble for both you and I and all the rest here.” Sehun parts his lips but Baekhyun presses his finger against them before he could say anything. “I mean it.”
After Sehun nods is when Baekhyun opens the box. Sehun tilts his head, trying to peek past Baekhyun’s hands. He can’t see much, most of it being small pieces of paper that have been folded in half. Baekhyun pulls one of the bigger pieces out, unfolding it before folding it back up and shoving it into the box.
“What,” Sehun pauses, tilting his head and eyes meeting Baekhyun’s cheek. “What is all of this?”
“They’re letters,” Baekhyun says quickly. “From Jongin.”
Sehun blinks, his head feeling slightly light and the air in the room seems to get colder. “Wait, you know Prince Jongin?”
“Anyone that has lived in Korea in the last twenty years knows of Jongin.”
“I thought servants were not allowed mail?”
Baekhyun sighs, fingers rubbing his forehead. “You ask too many questions.” The box gets set next to him, fingers opening one of the folded letters. “These are letters that Jongin has sent me during the time he spent here. All those months ago, remember?”
At this point, Sehun is thoroughly confused. His head hurts from the lack of fresh air and his fingers are sweaty from playing with his gown too much. He regrets attempting to hide down in the servants area and wishes he had just chosen the forest. The cold may have gotten to him but at least he’d be less confused and alone.
“Yes but what does this all have to do with me?”
Baekhyun hands him the letter, more like shoves it in his hands. “Jongin is only attempting to court the prince so he can take over China.”
Sehun blinks before laughing. He actually laughs because it doesn’t even seem plausible. He shakes his head, handing the letter back to Baekhyun. “There is no way that such a plan would ever work and it probably is not true.”
There’s a sigh and Baekhyun wiggles the paper in front of Sehun’s face. “You are a fool, Oh Sehun. Even if the plan may not work, Jongin is still trying. Court the prince of China, win over his parents and slowly bring his people in. The plan is not out of reach.”
Sehun scrunches his nose up, body scooting away from Baekhyun as his eyes widen. “Are you one of those people? It would only make sense since you are Korean.”
Baekhyun shakes his head, folding the paper up gently and setting it back in the box. “No, I am not. I am almost positive he only entrusted me because of that. Koreans will always be loyal, he thinks.” The other pushes the box back under the bed, turning to look at Sehun. “Listen, whether you take my information as truth or not, you need to protect Luhan.”
His lips part and he feels his chest tighten as he speaks. “I always protect him.”
The other scoffs, hand coming to slap Sehun’s arm. “No you do not. I have seen you cower in the shadows now that Jongin is in the picture. I do not care what happened between you two but you must not let Jongin court Luhan.” Baekhyun pushes himself off of the bed, turning towards Sehun and grabbing his shoulders, eyes staring right into his. “You truly are the only person that can do that.”
Baekhyun’s information still floats in his mind as Sehun stops outside of Luhan’s room. Perhaps Baekhyun isn’t telling the truth. What if it was all a trick? He shakes his head, biting at his bottom lip, most likely not. He didn’t see any harm in making himself known again. It was his job and if Luhan was in true danger, Sehun had to be there to protect him. He sucks in a breath, trying to rid himself of all the hurt and sadness that still lingers in his chest every time he stands outside Luhan’s door. Fingers curl around the door knob before he hears a laugh.
“Luhan is not in there.” Sehun turns his head, eyes meeting with Jongin’s as he walks closer. “He wanted to take a walk in the forest.” Jongin hums, shoulder leaning against the doorframe. “He was looking for you but when he could not find you, he decided to go alone. I insisted I go along,” Jongin laughs and shakes his head, “he did not want that.”
“I will go to him then.”
Jongin grabs his arm when Sehun begins to walk away. There’s no grin on his face or any sign of positive emotion. There’s a scowl on his lips that tugs the corners down and darkness in his eyes. “I believe you should leave him be.”
Sehun rolls his eyes, hand pushing off Jongin’s. “And I believe he was looking for me so I should go find him.”
“Will you just let him go?” Jongin says with a sigh. “Is it not clear that he has forgotten his love for you? You may be his guardian but you are now not the one he lets hold his hand.” Jongin steps closer, breath against Sehun’s face. “Not the one he curls up next to in bed anymore. So why do you still insist on pursuing him? I believe he has made it clear who he wants to be with.”
Sehun growls, hands pressing against Jongin’s shoulders. He pushes until his shoulders hit against the wall. Jongin doesn’t struggle and it only makes Sehun’s hands tighten around his shoulders. “You know nothing of our relationship. You know nothing about Luhan. I am the one that has been here since he was a child. I am the one who he went to for comfort and safety. Perhaps you may be his lover at the moment but I will always be the one who protects him. Nothing can ever change that.”
Jongin grins, hands pushing at Sehun’s chest until they tear apart from each other. Sehun takes a step back and Jongin takes one forward. “You are persistent. Even with your tiny heart broken you still have hope that one day Luhan will come back to you, do you not?” Jongin’s hand pushes through Sehun’s hair, knocking off his hat and tugging at his black locks. “You remind me so much of your father, you know.”
At the mention of his father, Sehun stills. He pushes Jongin away from him, chest rising and falling with gentle pants. “How do you know of my father?”
Jongin laughs instead of answering the question. He fixes his gown, grinning as he looks up at Sehun. “The ever so brave Mr. Oh. Always dedicated to protecting the prince, even if it meant losing his own life.” Jongin clicks his tongue and shakes his head. “I fear you are going to end up just like him.”
And that’s when Sehun knew that Baekhyun was right. He knew that the prince was in danger and Jongin truly was up to no good. It made his heart sink but it boil at the same time. His fingers curl against his gown, gripping the material tightly as he stares at Jongin, eyes meeting eyes. He was not going to let the prince slip away. Without him, there would be no one to protect him. Sehun does not have an heir. He does not have anyone else he trusts to look after the prince. He’s certain that the rulers do not either.
“Do not worry,” Jongin says smoothly, patting at Sehun’s chin. “The prince has already spent time in bed with me. I am almost certain he will be more than happy to let me protect him.”
They both turn towards the stairs when they hear the large doors being opened. Both of them walk over to the railing, looking down at the figure walking through the hall. Both of them say Luhan’s name and both of them see the way Luhan’s eyes dart back and forth between both of them.
“Sehun, Jongin,” Luhan says as he slows at the top of the steps. “I did not expect both of you to be here.”
Sehun steps forward, hand coming to rest on Luhan’s shoulder. “I would like to speak with you privately.”
Luhan frowns, shaking his head as he rubs his arm. “Perhaps tomorrow, Sehun. I am quite tired at the moment.”
“Lu-” Sehun parts his lips as he watches Jongin take Luhan’s hand. Their fingers intertwine and they walk quietly together to the prince’s room.
Sehun swallows the overwhelming feeling of uneasiness.
There is silence in the halls when Sehun walks out into them. He sucks in a breath, readying himself to tell Luhan about Jongin. There are the thoughts of it being too late maybe in the back of his mind. What if Jongin has already made his move and his people are making their way towards the castle? What if Jongin has kidnaped Luhan and taken him somewhere only he knows? The thoughts make his blood boil and he picks up his pace towards Luhan’s room.
The silence becomes less and less and the halls are filled with gentle whispers and sounds. Sehun narrows his eyes, teeth digging into his bottom lip when he realizes the sounds are coming from Luhan’s room. With determination, Sehun pushes open Luhan’s door. He hears it slam against the wall but his eyes are focused on something else.
Jongin has Luhan seated in his lap, back against his chest. They’re seated in the large chair that Sehun knows all too well. It’s the chair that Luhan likes to read in. The one they sat together in when they were looking at the stars from the window. The one that has too many memories to recall all of them. Luhan’s rid of his gown, only his underwear being left. A hand runs up his chest and Sehun can see the goosebumps and way Luhan arches his back. Luhan parts his lips when their eyes meet. His cheeks are slightly pink but it’s only noticeable due to his pale complexion.
“Sehun,” Luhan whispers quietly, eyes widening and lips parted even more.
He watches as Jongin’s eyes open and his mouth moves away from Luhan’s neck. Luhan pushes Jongin’s hands away. He slides off of his lap and grabs his gown, holding it over his chest. Sehun wants to tell him that he doesn’t have to cover himself. That he’s beautiful and he’s already seen all of it before. But he stays quiet when Jongin stands up, eyes filled with darkness and anger.
“Can you not get the hint?” Jongin takes a step towards him, not caring that he’s practically naked. “Luhan does not love you. He does not want anything to do with you anymore. I am the one he took to bed last night and I am the one he woke up with.”
Sehun takes a step forward, face in line with Jongin’s. His eyes narrow and his heart beats faster. “It is not like you love him in the way I do. You do not love him at all, am I not right, Jongin?”
“Sehun,” Luhan whispers, hand tugging at his gown. “Sehun please.”
Luhan is ignore for the first time in all of his time as a guardian. He keeps his eyes locked on Jongin’s, watching as the other’s eyes start to widen. “I know of your plan,” he says smoothly, confidence starting to rise. “Your plan to simply court Luhan so you can take over China. Do not act as if that is not your intentions.”
“You have some nerve, Oh Sehun.” Jongin hisses, arms pushing Sehun’s shoulders so he stumbles backwards. “A mere guardian approaching royalty as such. How dare you step out of line.”
Maybe Sehun gets what he deserves. There’s a hard slap against his face. One, two, three, more come right after it. He’s stumbling back against the wall, cheeks burning from the sting of Jongin’s hand. But he doesn’t back down. “How dare you come in to this place of royalty and attempt to harm not only Luhan but this country as well.”
Jongin scoffs, head tilting to the side. “You know nothing. Please, save yourself from further pain and simply get lost.” There’s a punch to the side of Sehun’s jaw, sending his head back against the wall and a groan out from his lips. “This is royal business.”
“Jongin, stop!” Luhan sobs, body now fully clothed. Sehun watches with heavy eyes as Luhan tugs on Jongin’s arm. “He has done nothing wrong!”
Sehun laughs. He actually laughs at the way Luhan is clinging to Jongin’s arm. He leans his head back, tilting it up so his eyes meet the graciously decorated ceiling. Did Luhan not hear him? Jongin wasn’t here for him. He was here for the throne. Yet Luhan still has the nerve to even touch him. He should be kicking him out of the castle must less the country already. Even worse, Sehun was here standing with a bloody lip and swollen cheeks and Luhan couldn’t pay him a single stare.
“Luhan,” Jongin says in a whisper. “Go get our little guardian some water to wipe the blood off his face.”
And just like that, Luhan obeys. Sehun flares his nostrils, sucking in the deepest breath possible. He tries to press himself back against the wall more as Jongin takes a step forward once Luhan has left.
“You are your father’s heir,” he whispers too close to his face, “but so am I.” Jongin grins before there’s a hard pressure in his stomach. Sehun topples over and heaves against the floor. When he catches his breath and the pain isn’t so severe, he understands what Jongin means.
It’s December but Sehun decides to go into the forest. His lungs are aching from the cold air coming in and out of them. His nose is tinted now a dark red and he’s sure he can’t move his fingers. He tries to lick at his lips but the bandage that Luhan’s stuck on his lip is preventing him from doing so. He sighs as he reaches the tree he knows too well.
It’s hard to get his long limbs in the small tree anymore. Sehun laughs when he thinks of how both him and Luhan used to fit in there. On top of that all the games they would play too. He stretches his legs out as much as they can and he leans his head back against the cold bark of the tree. Peace doesn’t live long however.
The door to the hideaway is pulled away and he sees the prince’s face. Sehun blinks, noticing how red his cheeks and nose are and the tear streaks that are still wet on his face.
“I believe,” Luhan’s out of breath and his words come out softly. “I believe Jongin’s men are here.”
The way Luhan looks at him is the same look that he did the last time men attacked his home. Sehun pushes himself out of the hideaway and he blinks as he looks around. He can’t help but notice the heavy feel in the air.
“Stay here,” Sehun whispers, hand grabbing at Luhan’s arm. “Do nothing and stay in the secret place.”
“No!” Luhan says, biting at his bottom lip. “No, I want to come with you,” he says quietly, hand curling around Sehun’s wrist.
“Luhan, please go and hide. I do not wish any harm to come to you.”
Sehun pulls away slowly, eyes watching as Luhan stares him down. “Please be careful, Sehun.”
He runs. He runs as quickly as he can to the castle. He sees the heads of men he doesn’t know. It makes his heart race and he can’t help but have the same worry as he did all those years ago with his father. Now though, instead of him hiding away, he’s the one facing them like his father did. It was terrifying. Sehun’s hands shake terribly as he sneaks his way into the castle. He has to stop and lean against the wall at one point in fear of passing out. But he had to protect Luhan and he sure as hell was not going to let Jongin actually win.
It isn’t hard to find Jongin. He’s walking through the castle, lips pursed and cheerful whistling coming from them. Sehun watches him from around the corner. He’s gotten one of the many swords in the armor room and his wrist flicks as he swings it around carelessly. Sehun sucks in a breath to calm his heart. No matter how many years he spent training for things like this, he can’t help but tremble in fear. He knows he must go to his room and grab his sword. There was no easy way around it. The only way to protect Luhan was to fight.
Slowly, Sehun slides against the wall down the hallway. His feet take gentle steps, not wanting the soles of his boots to echo throughout the area. It takes him longer than he wants to get to his room but it’s worth not getting caught. He leaves the door open, not wanting to risk the sound of it closing alerting anyone. He keeps his eyes focused on the open door as he grabs his sword, now ready to face anyone that were to come at him.
He still takes his time exiting his room. He’s armed but he doesn’t want to call attention just yet. When he reaches the curve towards the steps, he sees one of Jongin’s men. He’s dressed in heavy armor from the neck down. Sehun narrows his eyes, waiting until the man turns his back on him. He takes a minute to laugh to himself. What kind of men does Jongin have? Ones that will turn their back when they’re on look out? Sehun grins, perhaps it will be easier than he expects.
Sehun walks with caution. He makes sure his boots aren’t making a sound and makes sure the sword rested on his side doesn’t snag or drag against anything. He can smell what he thinks is cheap cologne made in a basement as he wraps his arm around the man’s neck. He tilts it back, hand covering his mouth as he brings the sword up against his neck. There’s no words, not even a sound as the sword slices quickly across his skin. Sehun waits until he can no longer feel a pulse against his arm before setting the man down on the tile. And just for good measure, he delivers a firm kick to the man’s face.
He curses to himself softly as he scans the rest of the hallway upstairs. There’s already a good amount of blood covering his fingers and on his jacket. He knows it will be troublesome to wash out if he leaves it for too long but he doesn’t have a choice. It’s a trivial thing that he quickly forgets when he hears the whistling of Jongin again. Sehun quickly presses himself behind a column, teeth pressing into his bottom lip.
“Oh, Sehun!” Jongin sings. “I know you’re here.”
Sehun tilts his head, sucking in a breath as he watches Jongin stop walking and tap the sword against the railing of the stairs. His head quickly turns back in front of him when he hears footsteps. There’s a swift kick of his leg and another armored man goes tumbling back, but not down. Sehun growls, turning to the side as the man comes charging at him again, sword up and ready this time. With another kick of his foot, the man trips, jaw hitting at the marble column in front of him. Sehun knows that he’s caught now. Jongin is surely aware that he’s upstairs. So he doesn’t hold back the noises stuck in his throat. He kicks the man again, this time in the back before flipping him over, foot pressed against his chest and sword at his neck. The man gives him a desperate stare and parts his lips to plead, yet the only thing that comes out is a choke and groan as the sword presses through his skin.
He doesn’t linger for too long. He pulls his sword out and makes his way over to the staircase. Sehun’s eyes open wide when he doesn’t see Jongin anymore. He doesn’t hear the whistle or the screeching of the sword against the floor. Sehun looks around behind him before jetting down the stairs.
For a moment, his body stops moving. His eyes scan around the room and he feels his chest tighten. Several of the workers are lying on the floor, limbs sprawled and stained red. Sehun swallows, attempting to keep any sounds down. His toes curl when he looks down to see red under his boots. It’s reflecting the large chandelier hanging from the ceiling, only the bright whites being able to be seen in the dark red. It brings him terrible memories. Memories of his small, bare, blood stained feet as he walked through the castle with his father and Luhan those years ago. All the servants and workers he had grown to love were lying motionless, much like they are at the moment. The worst part is this time is that there’s no one there to tell him what to do. No figure protecting him and helping him to safety. And he understands what’s going on.
He hears the whisper of his name and it makes Sehun shiver. His head tilts as he sees a familiar face among the bodies. Sehun feels his heart sink lower as he sees Baekhyun’s face. It’s covered in blood and his hair is sticking to his forehead, black as night. Sehun walks over to him, eyes hooded with sadness.
“Baekhyun,” he whispers, “I-” Sehun sighs, pushing his hair back as he rubs his cheek. “I am terribly sorry. I did not listen to you.”
Sehun watches as Baekhyun attempts to shake his head, face contorting in pain. His lips part and he sucks in a labored breath before speaking. “Do not let it worry you now.” It takes a few breaths before he cough, blood collecting at the corner of his mouth. “Jongin has gone out to the garden.” Sehun grips the sword at his side, nodding as he watches Baekhyun struggle to breath. “Go before he finds the prince. And Sehun,” Baekhyun’s lips curl into a gentle smile before he closes his eyes. “Thank you for taking the time to hear me out before.”
Sehun looks away as Baekhyun’s body relaxes against the floor. It takes him a moment to force away the tears that formed on the bottom lids of his eyes. It is not the time for mourning. He sucks in a breath and stands up, biting at his lip before turning to face the large open doors of the palace.
The sky is dark and the air is thick. Even in one of the most beautiful parts of the palace, the overwhelming feeling of death and despair is weighing him down. It doesn’t take long before he feels something hit him from behind. Sehun falls to the ground, face first, the only thing keeping his face hitting the grass is his hands. He quickly rolls to the side, eyes wide as he sees a blade being forced down at him. Sehun turns to his side, leg sliding back and hitting against the back of the man’s ankle. He goes down and Sehun quickly pushes away the man’s sword until it’s out of arm's reach. The sword on Sehun’s side is pressed into the man’s back. Sehun sucks in a breath, pushing down on the sword to help himself up.
He hears the rustling of footsteps in the grass and Sehun tugs the sword out, softly breathing to himself until the footsteps are just close enough. He quickly turns around, sword extended and watches as the man slowly crumbles to the ground, blood staining his neck.
“Fuck,” Sehun curses softly as he kicks the man’s body to the side. He pushes his hair back, ruffling it gently as he looks around.
The trip to the forest is long. He gains a cut to his arm and one to his side, tearing his coat to reveal it. At one point he’s sure he’s broken his ankle from the way he fell but there will be a time to worry about it later. He thinks of taking a small sit under a tree to let himself rest and catch his breath, but it’s been far too long since Jongin left the palace. If he hasn’t gotten to Luhan yet, he’s sure to be close.
As expected, Luhan is no where to be found in the hideout.
Everything is too quiet when he stumbles back into the palace. The stench of blood and death makes his stomach turn. He’s taken off his jacket and split it in two. He’s wrapped one part tightly around his arm and the other around his waist in attempts to stop the bleeding from his cuts. His ankle is swollen and he can no longer put pressure on it due to one of Jongin’s men stepping on it rather harshly on his way back.
As he stands in the middle of the entryway, he decides he doesn’t care anymore. He doesn’t care about sneaking around or being quiet. He doesn’t care how many more enemies come at him. He needs to find Luhan.
“Luhan!” His voice echoes far throughout the open space. He doesn’t hear anything and he shouts again. “Luhan!”
This time he hears something. It’s barely there but due to the silence around him, he can hear it well enough to know where to go. Perhaps it’s not even Luhan. It could be another enemy trying to lure him in to kill him. But Sehun goes anyways. As he walks, he notices that all the doors are open. Open and the rooms are a mess, as if someone had been searching through them. Then the search for the prince ends when he comes to the only closed door he’s seen; the throne room.
The large doors were never quiet. No matter how many times he and Luhan had pushed them open with the all the gentleness they had, they would creak and scrape against the floor. Even now, with the little strength Sehun has, the doors echo through the hall and make his ears hurt.
The first thing he sees is Luhan. He’s seated in the left throne, the one engraved with a large ‘L’. Sehun had only had glimpses of the room, most of the time it was empty and dark every time he would sneak in. Now it is lit by the fireplaces to the left and right. Luhan doesn’t see him and even though Sehun’s first instinct is to run towards him, he’s aware that this could be a trap, and probably is.
He takes his chance though. He steps forward with slow movements. His breath is held at the base of his throat, eyes locked on Luhan. It’s when he gets to the middle of the large room that Luhan notices him. He shifts in his seat, hands gripping at the arm rests and body coming forward some. The distance between them seems miles. The room is so large and the silence is only making Sehun feel smaller.
Whistling is what makes Sehun turn around. He faces nothing, just the empty room. His fingers curl around his sword as he turns slowly, eyes scanning the room for the source of the whistling. It’s only when he turns to look back at Luhan does he find it. Jongin’s seated in the largest throne. Luhan is still next to him, eyes wide and body leaned back in the chair.
“Jongin,” Sehun growls, hand tugging his sword out from his side.
The other sighs, leg crossing over the other. He pushes his hair back and shakes his head. “It is a pity that it has come to this, Sehun. I did not want to get my hands dirty.”
“You do not have to,” Sehun says, fingers gripping at the handle of his sword. “You can leave and we can be at peace.” It’s terribly untrue and Sehun knows it. There would never be peace between the two kingdoms after this. Even if Jongin were to surrender, it would be a grudge that would never leave. However, if he can get Luhan out of Jongin’s hands unharmed, it would be the best outcome.
Jongin taps his fingers against his jaw, lips curling into a grin. “I do not have to worry of that. Dear Luhan is the only part of royal blood left.” Jongin, straightens out, hand reaching over to rub under Luhan’s chin. “And he surely would not protest against me.”
Sehun chokes, lungs sucking in air deeply at the news. He looks at Luhan whose eyes are now shining with tears. He’s unsure whether Luhan had known his parents are dead before this moment, but even if he did, he has every right to cry. Sehun watches as his cheeks become slick with tears, the flickering light from the fireplaces making them shine. He takes a step forward. And then another. He continues until he’s only steps away from Luhan.
Jongin doesn’t move though. He doesn’t even budge when Sehun climbs on the platform and leans down to hug Luhan. The prince wraps his arms around him with desperation. Sehun hears the muffled cries against his skin and feels the tears seep in the patterns. He presses a kiss to his forehead. His hands run up Luhan’s back to cup his cheeks. Their eyes meet as Luhan tilts his head up. Sehun sucks in a breath, letting his lips curl into a frown. He leans down, pressing a kiss to Luhan’s lips. It’s repulsive how Jongin lets it go on. Sehun feels vulnerable and he knows that Jongin is waiting for the perfect moment to strike. He lets them have a moment together, the first in several months and possibly now their last.
Sehun is the one to pull away. He slides out of Luhan’s grasp, sucking in a breath as the prince’s fingers try and grip onto his arms. Luhan looks at him with sad eyes and parted lips. Sehun forces a smile as he steps back down off the platform.
“Jongin,” Sehun breathes out, eyes narrowed and hand gripping his sword. “I will not let you take this palace nor the kingdom.” Sehun takes a step back as he watches Jongin grin, fingers curling around the edges of the armrests. “You will pay for what you have done to this land.”
Instead of getting up like Sehun expects, Jongin only laughs and leans back in the throne. He shakes his head and clicks his tongue. “My father had promised me this kingdom when I was younger. He had said that he would make sure I was to be married to the prince and rule over this country as well as my own.” Jongin’s lips curl into a scowl. His head turns and he taps his fingers against the armrest. “Yet your father had to be the one to stop him. Even though he too had died, he was the one to slay my father. I made a promise to him that I would be the one to continue what he started.”
Sehun takes another step back when Jongin looks at him. He pushes himself up off of the chair and steps off of it. Sehun holds his sword up in front of him, eyes hooded with anger and lips pressed together tightly. “Am I supposed to take pity on you? My father only did what he was supposed to do and that was to protect the family and the kingdom. I too will do the same.”
Jongin’s sword makes the loudest sound as it scrapes against the holder at his side. He pulls it out, wrists quick and precise as he holds it up while he steps towards Sehun. “I do not wish for your pathetic sympathy. I simply like my enemies to know why they are going to die.”
In seconds Jongin’s sword is pressed against Sehun’s. Luhan gasps from his seat and Sehun takes a quick glance at him, watching as his body presses back against the throne. As Jongin pulls his sword up to strike again, Sehun slides out of the way. Jongin is quick though. He’s much more skilled than any of his men. Sehun is just as skilled but the swell on his ankle and the cuts on his skin make it hard to keep up. The pain is shooting throughout his whole leg every time he takes a step. His arm is weak and he uses all of his strength to hold his sword up against Jongin’s.
“Why do you not give up, Sehun?” Jongin says between breaths as he pushes Sehun up against one of the fireplaces.
Sehun’s back is uncomfortably arched, attempting to not crumble into the fire. The flickering light from the flames is haunting against Jongin’s face. There’s a thin line of blood on Jongin’s cheek from where Sehun slashed it with his sword. He knows that he himself isn’t any better. His side wound has started to bleed again and he can hear the drops on the marble floors. His cheeks are painted with dirt from the fights in the forest and his fingers are shaking.
“I will not stop until you are dead.” Sehun growls as he kicks Jongin’s knee, making him shout and take a step back.
Jongin is quick to come back and he kicks at Sehun’s ankle. Unlike Jongin, Sehun hits the floor. The pain is unbearable and Sehun can’t help but let out a choked cry as his hands grip at his ankle. It’s swollen and his boots are cutting off the circulation. It’s purple and red and stained with blood. Instead of making a quick kill, Jongin walks over to him slowly, fingers gripping the sword as he drags it across the floor. Sehun grabs his sword, ready to defend himself from any swings that come his way.
“I honestly believed this would be much harder than it is,” Jongin says with a sigh. “It is a good thing the prince will have a worthy guardian soon.”
Sehun growls, pushing himself up only to be kicked down again my Jongin. The sword in Sehun’s hand slides across the floor, just out of reach. His foot is pressing into Sehun’s stomach, making him gasp. It’s pressed down hard, making it impossible for Sehun to move properly.
“Will you not give up already?” Jongin shakes his head. “You will not win this.” The sword lifts up and it hovers over his chest. “I suppose if you were to surrender I could make you my servant. I believe you would make a good one.” Jongin laughs, his head leaning back and a sigh coming from his lips. “It is too bad I am not that nice.”
For the first time, Sehun is actually scared. He is not startled or shaken. He is truly scared. His lips part and he feels his heart speeding up as he watches the sword come down towards him. The first instinct is for him to squeeze his eyes shut and he does. He hears a shout and then feels to sword against his skin. Yet it doesn’t push in. Sehun opens his eyes to sob out for Jongin to get it over with.
Only Jongin is standing still with his eyes wide and a sword that is not his through his chest. Sehun’s own eyes go wide as he watches the sword retract and blood begin to stain his shirt. Sehun quickly hits the sword out of Jongin’s hand, fearing that it still might pierce his skin. Jongin falls. He crumbles slowly to the floor and Sehun can see Luhan. He’s standing with a sword held tightly between his hands. It’s shaking and Luhan’s face is full of fear.
Sehun pushes himself up, sucking in a breath as the pain comes rushing back to his body. Luhan drops the sword to the side and falls on his knees, arms wrapping around Sehun. “Do not get up,” he whispers as he puts his hand against the cut on Sehun’s side. Luhan smiles softly as Sehun looks at him with confusion. “You taught me, remember? Tilt the sword down and straight through the heart.”
“We must check the grounds to make sure there are no other men.” Sehun says as Luhan’s hand cups at his cheek.
Luhan shakes his head brows furrowed and lips into a frown. “You are too hurt.”
Sehun rubs at Luhan’s hand as he pushes himself up more. “I am fine. It is something we must do, Luhan. After we are sure it is clear, I will rest. I promise.”