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Flute tunes whispered in his ears, carried by the winds. It was hot and humid already.

The light kingdom was known for its short, bright nights. It was an exotic place, one that cherished warmth, light. It was also known for its people, always cheerful, always merry. Every time there was a party, no one really slept. For this, Baekhyun was envious.

Being a part of the royal family, his u pbringing had been different from the rest of the common people. Although spoiled rotten by everyone around him, his parents had been just as strict when it came to serious matters. Because of that, Baekhyun had never been able to experience the kingdom's customs.

Everyone knew his kingdom for the events that never stopped, but it might as well had been just a rumour —he never had the chance to find out. He had been confined inside the palace all his life, alongside his brothers. Their parents were very protective, proud people. The royal heirs need to set an example for everyone.

It was not like he hadn't tried to sneak out. But, to his dismay, his father knew him too well.

By the age of 7, little Baekhyun already had a personal guard to accompany him everywhere. Of course, it had been just an excuse for his father to keep an eye on the little trouble maker all the time.

''The choice is yours, son. Just know that no matter who you choose, I want you to be happy, above all.''

They were at the dinner table, up above in the main hall.

Dancers were all around them. Maidens with their colourful dresses, all were gathered for the royal family’s entertainment . One more beautiful than the other.

It was the beginning of summer, and all the girls couldn't wait to get their bare, naturally tan shoulders out in the breeze.

But Baekhyun wasn't interested in any of that. He was chewing his food slowly, with a lot of anticipation in his heart, because he knew what was coming, why his dad had taken all the efforts for this special dinner. His mother and father had been whispering among themselves until now, thinking he wouldn't catch on. But Baekhyun, even if he was barely 18 and the youngest one among his siblings, had a lot he didn't show.

Seventeen as he was, Baekhyun was the only suitable heir , the next in line for the throne. Junmyeon, his oldest brother, had never had much interest in ruling. Growing up, you'd often find him in the library, even after their shared tutoring session, sometimes sneaking in at night only to immer se himself into yet another publication. Junmyeon was a gentle soul. He wished to be a healer, not a fighter. Their parents couldn't force him into an unsuccessful reign.

His other siblings were two twin girls, each with their husbands-to-be. They were already dreaming of the castles they'd be living in once they are married.

Baekhyun, remaining the only one in line, qualified for the throne. But the boy had always been mischievous. Too unruly, too determined to conquer every little thing there was in this world. In other words, being the youngest and most doted upon, he had been spoiled into thinking the world was his, if only he asked.

That was why his parents believed that the first thing their son needed was a partner who could tame his young boy’s heart.

Someone who could turn their little boy into the man fit to rule the Light Kingdom.

It was only normal that, in order to achieve that, the person needed to be someone that Baekhyun's heart desired. His choice. 

Baekhyun could not keep thinking about it, although thinking had been the only thing he had been doing for a while. It all led to the same direction.

Park Chanyeol . The man had been his guard since the age of 7.

Having joined the king's army to follow his father not long before then, the king thought he'd be the best person for the job. The teenager was silent and obedient. More like Baekhyun's shadow than an actual person, he was there with him all the time.

Even with a lot of fun taken away from him, Baekhyun still managed to find his way of getting his daily dose of giggles. He's caused trouble since he was lit tle.

Usually found tormenting the servants around the house, his parents found him adorable. While most of his victims would have liked to slap the brat that he was, they had no choice but to agree too.

The one he loved annoying the most had been his own guard, Chanyeol, who never said anything if not especially needed.

Growing up with an eight years difference between them, the kid would pull on his legs, his hair, his abnormally big ears, try to trip him, and play all sorts of jokes on him, but to Baekhyun’s endless frustration, nothing worked.

Then, when he began growing up, his way of annoying others changed too.

Baekhyun loved teasing, and he had the perfect natural charm for it. Chanyeol, however, remained unmoving. He still remained as his favourite person to tease.

Until the knight began his training.

Baekhyun saw him less and less since he would usually be too tired to even pay attention to his non-stop nonsense spluttering. Until one day, his father summoned him to tell him knight Park became a general. He wouldn’t be his guard any more.

No one had ever seen the little prince so gloomy before.

Chanyeol had been the closest thing to a best friend for him, although everything was one-sided. It had been the worst betrayal he had ever felt.

''I can choose anyone...anyone, anyone?'' There was a strange glint in his eyes, like he was about to ask for the impossible, or for the finest jewellery ever made to be put in his hands right at that moment.

''Of course, son.'' His father said, but Baekhyun’s sudden interest was making his eyebrows twitch in anticipation. If only he knew what was floating around Baekhyun's mind.

The young boy set his cutlery down. He didn't ponder on it, even for a second. He knew what he wanted.

''Park Chanyeol.'' He said, proudly looking at every pair of eyes glancing in his direction, “I want Park Chanyeol.'' His sentence resonated through the dining hall. It reached everyone's ears.

The Queen stopped her eating. A deadly silence settled over them. Baekhyun was being looked at like he'd grown two heads. His older brother, Junmyeon, shot a look through the hall. He was looking for the General.

The dancing stopped, the music too. Everyone was stunned to silence.

With a mischievous grin, Baekhyun looked around, searching for a reaction to tick him off. The guards were all looking ahead. It was not their place to react, although Baekhyun didn't miss the soft gasps. The main subject of the discussion was out, training the newly-added army members.

''Get General Park here. The rest of you can leave.'' The king commanded and the doors burst open. Everyone scattered.

Baekhyun waited, studying his soft hands. He had moistened them with his favourite cinnamon-scented bath oil that morning. He fixed his golden hair, the golden crown on top of it too, but he never met his father's eyes, even though the old man was waiting for an explanation.

There were only the two of them left in the room, and he had a mind to see how much he could infuriate his father.

''My King?'' A tall man, standing proudly with his gold decorated cape, pushed the door open. He bowed to each one of them, only looking ahead after getting permission to enter. It made Baekhyun huff. The young prince would not have him so prim and proper soon. His eyes trailed from the strands of his sweat-soaked hair, down to the tips of his heavy black boots. Chanyeol in his golden-red cape had always been beautiful.

Baekhyun remembered the day the knight had gotten his General armour the day of his accolade.

Park Chanyeol had fought countless battles by the age of 21, and no word could explain how proud Baekhyun had been of the knight.

To see him kneel in his golden robes new ones, to accept his new status before the court and the common people alike, to hear him pledge his loyalty to Baekhyun and his family, his heart still remembered the crazy race it had been inside his chest.

The man never looked at him, and he, as a royal, couldn't show it, but all his being had been twirling in fulfilment for the one he lost.

''Son, tell him what you just told us.''

Baekhyun couldn’t make out anything from his father's stance, but he knew the man was far from pleased.

Regarding marriage, he had always been expected to choose a noble girl from a well-off family. A young, healthy girl that would give him enough heirs to please the royal family.

He had been introduced to dozens of maidens like this even though, to his parents’ displeasure, they had known his preferences since long ago. Chanyeol catching him stealing kisses from the servant boys his age when he was barely 13 gave his parents some ideas of what he might like.

Park Chanyeol, on the other hand, was the son of a prostitute. Not even a high-paid one. The only legacy he had was the king’s guard cape his late father had left him.

His father, although friends with the king, never gave him enough relevance for him to be suitable enough for the young heir.

But Baekhyun didn't care. What he wanted, he would get.

''You're going to be my husband, General Park.'' He said slowly, a feline smirk playing in the corners of his mouth, specially painted to draw a reaction out of the knight. There was none, he got ignored completely.

General Park only turned to the king, ''My King?''

His father scolded Baekhyun, with his eyes and his pulled-tight mouth, for being this shameless, but he didn't step down. Not now when he was so close to getting what he wanted.

''General Park, did you know of this?''

Sir Park was on his knees in a second, ''I did not, my King.''

‘’Be honest, General. Did you tell him any lies to get him like this?'' His father looked like he was about to go mad, although concealed. Baekhyun knew him well too.

Baekhyun shot up from his place, with a loud voice and an offended look, ''Father!''

''What did you do to my son?'' It thundered against the walls that echo even the tiniest voices.

His father was demanding answers, but the one kneeling in front of them couldn't possibly give one. He knew nothing of this. Baekhyun jumped in front of the knight, with his defiant eyes shining brightly with trouble, ‘’There was no need for him to do anything, father. You asked me, and he is the only one I want as my husband.''

After his words, his eyes secretly fell on the one behind him, expecting a reaction for his daring statement. Still, the general was as cold as ever.

''How could this be? Think about it well, son, he's a man! A king must have heirs!’’ A short silence followed. Baekhyun wanted to turn around and finally have the knight look at him, but the king was pulling hushed words out of his mouth again, ‘’He is the son of a ''

It angered Baekhyun that his father would resort to this. With his face set to end it, he lifted a graceful hand up to silence his father.

''And he is my future husband. It's either him or no one at all.'' He turned to the man still kneeling then, "Sir, rise.’’

The man didn’t do it immediately; he searched for the king’s approval with a silent glance.

‘’You may rise.’’

And Baekhyun was irritated again, him and his short temper. He didn’t like to have his authority questioned. The king, however, wasn’t done with him.

‘’I will give you time to reconsider, son. Your nineteenth birthday is still far away.’’

Baekhyun had already made up his mind, long ago. He would not back down from anything, ‘’There won’t be any need for that, father.’’ He stepped back with careful steps, enough to reach Chanyeol’s side, ‘’If you’ll excuse us, I want General Park to escort me to my lessons.’’

Once again, Chanyeol didn’t meet his eyes, didn’t give his existence that much importance in general. He only asked for permission from the king. When he got it though, he curled out his arm for Baekhyun to take.

Even on the day when he won his first archery competition and had everyone cheering for him, Baekhyun hadn’t felt as satisfied as he felt right in this moment, strolling along the large palace halls accompanied by his future husband.

The rushed looks and hushed whispers they got weren’t subtle at all, from the moment they stepped out of the dining hall, but Baekhyun made sure to end them with a little curl of his lips a challenging smirk.

Chanyeol was silent, too silent for his liking. Baekhyun can never be silent.

‘’Sir,’’ raising his free hand to his face, he giggled between long fingers, ‘’I lied about my lessons. We still have two hours for ourselves,’’  

The only response he got was the sound Chanyeol’s heavy armour made.

The prince halted his steps, abruptly turning to bat his long eyelashes exactly two times at the one looking right through him, ‘’As future husbands, we have to get to know each other better, don’t you think so, Sir?’’

Baekhyun had decided that he disliked the General’s armour and it’s mocking noises. As the decision remained up to him, his steps took them out to the garden, hidden from the many prying eyes in one of the spots Baekhyun has claimed as his. He had it arranged only for him about four years ago when he discovered how much he loved the sound of the sea waves. It was right next to the sea, one opening from the royal gardens led straight to it. 

The prince sat down on one of the benches, he was also quick to dismiss the court ladies rushing their way with a flick of his hand. He finally had Chanyeol and he wanted him, alone.

‘’Won’t you have a seat? The weather is so lovely,’’ Baekhyun said, throwing a quick glance around them with summoned nonchalance. Truth was, the knight standing tall and stoic as ever took him from his usual chattiness.

The knight’s eyes fell on him. Baekhyun took it as a sign to continue.

‘’What do you think about love, Sir?’’ He rounded slowly, with an encouraging grin.

No answer. 

‘’For me... I grew up being taught that love shouldn't be on a royal's mind, you know?’’ Baekhyun had gotten used to talking to himself. Since his mouth never stopped working, he could hold a conversation with anyone or anything, from influential guests visiting to unmoving objects around his room. A little silence couldn’t hold him back. ‘’Our duty is to the people and to our kingdom. We shouldn't be selfish.’’ He continued to recite, ‘’but... I do believe in love, and marriages out of love.’’ This sentence was finished with a wide smile, him beaming up at the silent knight. ‘’What about you, Sir?’’

He could see the way he got the man engaged with his last question. A sentence, maybe a protest, was making his eyebrows pull together.

‘’If I may, your Majesty?’’ 

Baekhyun nodded, a little impatient. It had been so long since he alone had been addressed by the other. 

‘’What difference does it make?’’ 

A slap Baekhyun was shoved back to reality. A reality where he was still forcing an infamous killer to settle down with him and accept the royal life, for him .

Baekhyun went softer for his next plea, ‘’Maybe you could learn to love me too. I promise I'll be a good husband to you.’’

"I am in no position to love you, my Prince." The knight said, too solemn for his liking.

It got Baekhyun thinking. All through his lessons, he couldn't focus one bit. His pride was a little wounded. He just couldn't understand. 

Growing up as the youngest in the royal family, Baekhyun had been surrounded by praises all his life. He enjoyed it, loved it. It became something natural to have people complimenting him at every step. 

He was beautiful, he knew that much. The mirror told him so. The servants bathing him since a young age had told him too. The guests swarming around the palace also whispered among themselves about his beauty.

The royal family invested a lot in his education . T hat had been the hardest part of his childhood, but now he was grateful for it. He could stand proud, arrogant even, because he knew he was raised to be better than most. 

Baekhyun loved being a royal. That was why, when he thought about it, alone in his chamber after he had snapped at all the maids trying to help him undress, he still couldn't understand why the General would ever reject him so cruelly. 

 

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On a warm summer night, prince Baekhyun asked to be excused earlier from his duties. He had a plan in mind. 

Before sneaking out of his chambers, the prince had taken a single bag, stuffed full of the dirtiest clothes he could steal from the stable boys. His chambers were highly guarded. Once, a long time ago, knight Park would stand outside his door. Now, the young boys, freshly knighted, come and go all the time. 

Baekhyun had always loved the attention . He enjoyed the way the young boys' words would stumble only from the slightest smile from him. He loved how infatuated they were with his little, rehearsed courtesy. 

He asked for some alone time with the sweetest smile, and, despite being bound to protect him all the time, they allowed him. Amateurs. 

The sneaky young prince did the same once he reached the stables, demanding to be left alone with his horses. With long looks shared between them, the young boys eventually walked out. Baekhyun specially instructed them to take a well-deserved break.

So when he stepped outside, wrapped in rags from head to toe, it was all clear. Next, he had to find his future husband. The things Baekhyun did for the oblivious General. 

All his life, only the finest silks had ever touched his skin. He would often get compared to porcelain. But there he was, with hay in his hair, a little mud smeared on his nose, and a dirty cloth covering his face. He can’t imagine what his parents would say if they were to see his state.

It was not hard to find the knight. Baekhyun had learned his daily itinerary by heart. He found the General in the training grounds, guided by the sound of steel clanking on steel. He was familiar with General Park’s shouts and commands too.

To his advantage, Baekhyun was very sneaky. He also knew his people very well. He knew how to avoid them. Everyone was too focused on the battles ahead, so he had no problem running over. 

Once at the barrier separating the training arena, the boy took his time to observe everything, to see what everyone was so focused on. It was, to no surprise, the young general, sparring with one of the younger boys. His voice was the only one resonating through the open space. One hit of their swords and the knight had his pointed against the boy’s shoulder. 

‘’You’re dead.’’ General Park said.

Another one, and this time his sword stopped at his back, pointing, ‘’Dead.’’

His moves flowed so easily. It was like he’s dancing. Baekhyun could not keep his eyes off him. At that moment, he understood all the maidens gasping from the side. All of them with their own hopes of marrying the young knight. Too bad, Baekhyun smirked to himself. 

A louder clank, and a sword fell to the ground loudly. Baekhyun peeked from his hiding spot again. The knight had his weapon held against his opponent’s neck, ‘’Dead, very dead.’’

Baekhyun could not keep waiting any more. This could either go very bad or just the way he planned it. He sprung from his spot, hands waving enthusiastically over the fence, ‘’Sir!’’ He shouted, opting for a very forced, childish voice. Baekhyun must have looked like a fanatic.

‘’General Park, over here!’’ His hands kept dangling in the air until everyone turned to him. The guards by the entrance were onto him in a second. So no one had recognized him, good. 

They grabbed his arms harshly, and Baekhyun wished he could show them who they really belong to.

‘’What’s a beggar like you doing here? Who let you in?’’ One of the older men from the guard mocked him, then proceeded to spit on the ground in front of him, ‘’How dare you use the name of our General, scum?’’ 

Baekhyun pouted under the veil covering his face, ready to annoy the old man some more, but he was stopped when a harsher shake coming from the guard almost sent him to the ground.

‘’Let him go.’’ A deep voice was heard louder than all the others, now coming closer to them. The prince glanced at the knight hopefully. 

Without any other complaint, the hands gripping Baekhyun’s flesh dropped. 

The General guided him outside the training grounds, but his touch was softer than the previous guard’s because he knew just who he was touching.

‘’My Prince, what does this mean?’’ The knight asked once they got to a more secluded area. 

‘’It’s a surprise for you, Sir,’’ Baekhyun said, blinking innocently, ‘’how did you even figure out it was me?’’ He continued, truly curious since he had been so far away. Not even the ones next to him did. But they hadn’t spent as much time with him as Chanyeol had.

‘’Your Majesty, your face could never come close to one of a beggar’s.’’

The simple comment brought a flush to the prince’s cheeks, but they were hidden. Only he knew of it.

‘’Why are you alone? Where are your guards?’’ The knight pressed, scolding him a little, just as much as his position allowed him to.

‘’Not everyone is as dutiful as you, Sir.’’ The prince said, voice a little flirtatious with the hope of flattering the General. 

However, he remained unmoved by his advances. ‘’Come, I’ll take you back to the palace.’’

‘’No!’’ The boy jumped back, ‘’No, I want to go out! I want to dance! Let’s go outside, Sir,’’ he threw himself at the knight, wrapping his hands around one single arm of his in a silent plea.

‘’My prince, it is my duty to ’’ 

Baekhyun growled under his breath, but then it turned into a whine. He tugged on the man’s arms like a toddler, ‘’If anyone were to find out, I will tell them I ran away and you came to find me.’’

He was met with another refusal, ‘’I have to report back to his Grace. Please, Your Majesty, come with me.’’ 

Baekhyun let go of his arm, dropping it like it burned. He shouted his next words, ‘’I am not joking, I will run away!’’ 

It got a reaction out of the General, at least. His mouth twitched. ‘’Let us go then.’’

The man covered him with his golden cape, then he walked the prince out through the main gates. The others must have thought Baekhyun was just another one of his lovers. The younger did not want to dwell on it and think of his past lovers.

Despite it being night-time, darkness never came to the Light Kingdom. The brightness of the sun changed to the red hue of the moon, illuminating the lands. They were stuck in forever dawn. 

Life inside the Palace and outside it was completely different, as Baekhyun had come to know from a young age. The moment they stepped away from the big gates, the air changed. It was filled with the sweet smell of fresh food, scented candles and the warm breeze the summer night air brought. Sadly, Baekhyun could feel the knight just as stiff by his side. 

The young royal wrapped a hand around his arm once again, once the cape fell from his shoulders, steps slowing down to a slow pace. 

The food carts littering the street were lit with small candles of different shapes. Baekhyun was pulled in by them. He dragged the rigid guard after him with excitement spurting from his mouth. He had little comments to add about every single wooden figurine they found in the first cart. Then, at the next, where he found hand-knitted puppets, he couldn’t help his big gasp, forgetting all about his courtesy lessons. 

He remembered he used to have a doll just like these when he was a kid. Baekhyun picked one of them up, momentarily forgetting about the way he looked, who he was pretending to be. He was reminded of it in a second, though, when he received one of the biggest scowls he’d ever had directed at himself. 

What stopped the man from fully lashing at Baekhyun though, was the powerful presence behind him. 

Insulted, Baekhyun dropped the doll back down. 

‘’Do you want one, my P- brother?’’ The knight corrected himself quickly, but the prince’s heart still crawled up to his throat. Everyone knew Chanyeol.  No one would have doubted his words. 

‘’Please,’’ Baekhyun said in a shaky voice, stepping back from the seller’s scrutinizing eyes.

They left for the other carts, with the younger holding his doll tightly. After everything, the knight could be seen as the kind-hearted man that took care of the beggar.

‘’People are so...unkind to the ones lower than them.’’ The young prince said, as a conclusion. He wished he could show himself, see them bow, apologize. He wished to see them put back in their places.

They stopped in an alley, with the food the general bought them. Baekhyun was just trying to fill the silence. To his surprise, his statement got a response.

‘’Not everyone is lucky enough to be born a royal, My Prince.’’ 

The royal felt wronged. It was not only fun and games, being a royal. No one knew of the mornings Baekhyun had to wake up at five to start his 4 sets of classes. People outside the royal family did not know how hard he had to be trained, how he couldn’t be shown to the public until he met his parents' standard. No one talked about how almost every single thing that a normal person could experience had been taken away from him.

Baekhyun loved being a royal, but he did not want to be seen only as such.

‘’How many lovers have you had, Sir?’’ The prince suddenly blurted out, turning to the knight with fire in his eyes. But he did not let him finish. He did not want to hear.

‘’I had none. I was not allowed to.’’ He explained to the unreadable General. ‘’I wasn’t allowed to experience a lot of things, for a crown that is not even mine yet.’’

It seemed to spark some interest in the man. He was paying attention to the smaller, ‘’But you will get it in the end. You will get everything you want.’’

Baekhyun did not like being looked at like that, so he continued with a lighter voice, ‘’Ah, General Park, you’re no fun!’’ The boy took a small bite of his meat bagel, a little grin ready to form on his lips, ‘’But I will make you love me, somehow. I promise you that.’’ 

‘’My duty is to protect you.’’ Stubborn, so stubborn. All the knight talked about was his duty. Baekhyun felt bad for the man, too. He spent his life training himself to be fit for the royal family. He had been trained to kill, to obey. They both had been trained for something, the smaller concluded. Both trapped inside the palace.

With that in mind, the young royal shot up from his seat, food forgotten, ‘’I can hear the music from here. Let’s follow it!’’ Without waiting for the other, his steps took him ahead. The General’s clanking armour indicated that he was being followed.

A street party. With dancers, cheerful claps and shouts, those were what his kingdom was known for, after all. The streets were filled with colourful gowns, spinning around to the rhythm of flutes and taraban. The music got to Baekhyun too. He wanted to join in, but his current attire did not allow him.

‘’Ah, this is so beautiful, Sir!’’ He turned to the knight, and he found him with the same impassive expression, ‘’Do you not enjoy music?’’ He almost whined, frustrated by the lack of human emotions in the man. 

‘’I am not here to enjoy. I am here to protect you.’’ 

Again, a groan slipped past Baekhyun’s graceful lips.

‘’You are here as my partner, Sir, not as someone that needs to protect me,’’ He exclaimed, over the music. With a little grin that could not be seen whatsoever, he stole one hand of the man’s hanging by his body. 

‘’Dance with me!’’ The royal shouted again, jumping from left to right in hopes of getting this energy back from the knight. 

The General let himself be led, but he stood his ground. Baekhyun held both of his hands in his, twirling around him, doing little jumps. Eventually, he got closer to the man, his chest pressing onto his armour in slower moves, but he was stopped. With one single hand, the General kept him in place. 

Baekhyun was looking at the latter confused when one hand of his rose. The man fixed his veil back on his face. It had been close to slipping. 

‘’Do you know how to smile, General?’’ He tried teasing again after the man avoided his eyes.

‘’I do.’’

‘’Can you show me?’’ A little mischievous, Baekhyun kept close, his hips remained moving. 

The tiniest huff left the knight’s nose, but he was ignored. He enjoyed his silence too, as long as the man let him dance to his heart’s content. 

‘’Your Grace, I must return to my duties. I am on guard tonight.’’ That shattered his hopes of getting the knight to open up to him.

They left shortly after.

 

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Barely two days after, the Palace was on high alert. It had been, of course, due to another one of the young prince’s requests.

That morning, he took his father’s place in the court hearings. He did it dutifully, without any of the complaints that would usually leave his mouth. He had a request to make after all. At the dining table, prince Baekhyun demanded for him and his future husband to share a room. His parents could not do much to change his mind.

The general was summoned to give his opinion on the matter, the same day. His only response in front of the king had been, ‘’If His Grace wishes for it.’’ 

Baekhyun had wished, so he got it, though he had to leave his chambers for the accommodations to be made. Until marriage, him and the knight could not share the same bed. Another one was to be brought inside his room, even though the prince knew he would end up in a bed with the man in the end.

He was currently in his part of the garden enjoying the warm rays of the sun, official robes changed to lighter ones, a piece of fine silk fluttered by the breeze. His mother had frowned upon seeing his bare shoulders. 

His sisters were accompanying him. They were not the closest they could be, each with their own duty to fulfil. Their training had been different. Baekhyun and his sisters met only in the dining hall or on their short breaks. The difference in their age also had a role in their bond. With five years between them, Baekhyun only stopped being seen as a child not long ago. 

The girls were discussing Joonhyun’s approaching marriage, which was set in two fortnights. Baekhyun could understand his sister’s nervousness. 

‘’What if he doesn't like me?’’ The girl softly worried to his other sister, clutching the bowl of grapes in her hands. 

‘’Then he is a fool,’’ Moonhyun commented. Although twins, the girls had very different natures. While Joonhyun had been soft-spoken and quieter than most, resembling Junmyeon, his other sister was more to his liking. They shared the same quick temper.

As gentle as she was, his older sister never had the courage to turn down an arranged marriage. She and her husband-to-be had only met at two balls before.

Although the young prince pretended to pay little attention to their chattering, his ears perched up at the sudden turn their conversation took. 

‘’I wonder how our first kiss would be.’’ The girl giggled, ‘’Would he mind my inexperience?’’ 

If his sister had been a little more daring, she would have found out how a kiss felt long ago. Baekhyun had had the courage to take that step. 

‘’Moonie, our wedding night…’’ She continued, softer than he had ever heard her. The girls broke out into shy giggles. Baekhyun rose up to this. He observed Joonhyun’s reddened cheeks. ‘’Do you think it will hurt?’’ 

Baekhyun’s cheeks coloured too, but at the sudden thought that entered his mind. His and the General’s wedding night seemed so far away. The man barely looked at him now.

 

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Baekhyun waited for the first night he and his husband-to-be would share a room. His bath took longer that night. He dismissed the servants assigned to his daily baths after they had brought him his favourite oils, wanting to be left alone. 

The changes around his room were not major. Only a bed had been added, on the opposite side of his, and his mirror was moved to another corner of the room.

His room stayed silent for too long. Only the guards outside his chambers filled the silence that settled once he had been left alone. Baekhyun waited, a little jittery. 

The water turned cold and still, only silence accompanied him. Now sitting on his bed, the prince followed the moon. It was nearing midnight.

The moon had disappeared from his window and Baekhyun had almost fallen asleep when there was a knock on his door. Ignoring his tired limbs, he rushed to the door in a second. 

General Park was still wearing his armour, holding his sword in one hand and his helmet in the other, but the prince could see how the long day got to him too. 

‘’Sir, you do not need to knock. This is our room now.’’

"You should be sleeping, my Prince." The knight simply said, closing the door but making no further movement inside. 

A small frown settled on the royal’s features, ‘’I wanted to wait for you.’’ 

The man’s eyes did not linger on the furniture decorating his room for long, although a lot had changed since he last visited the prince’s chambers. His eyes fell on the newly-added bed where he headed to after a small bow to the royal. 

The General barely looked at him and Baekhyun felt the tiredness slowly creeping upon him. His patience felt shorter. For some seconds, the boy considered demanding to be listened to his position allowed it.

But that would only make the knight’s current distaste for him grow bigger.

‘’If you’d like, we could call the servants to run you a bath. It’s not too late.’’ This approach seemed better. He could be a good husband, he would show him. 

‘’Already did.’’ The knight cut it short again.

Baekhyun got tired of following after the man around the room. He went behind the partition wall and the younger took a seat on his bed again. He listened to every movement the knight made, trying to let his young imagination run wild. He had only seen the man naked a few times when he could sneak away to the training grounds, but only his upper part. The rest, it remained up to him to make up.

Knowing they were so close to each other, in this intimate scenery, made the young prince’s cheeks crimson red.

Stepping outside in his night attire, the General paid little attention to his state. He went straight to his bed.

Although disappointed, the prince still murmured a soft ‘’Good night, Sir.’’

The sleep Baekhyun got that night reminded him of the times when he was younger, when the knight used to watch over him until he fell asleep. It was a very peaceful sleep.

 

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Days were flying by with little to no progress between them. They mostly met only at night. With the ceremony for his sister’s wedding approaching, the king appointed Baekhyun as the one to make sure that everything was going according to the plan. 

The crown prince barely had time to eat between checking the background of all their guests and budget planning. The king had opted to observe while Baekhyun had to run back and forth to make sure everything was under control. He envied his husband all of this time, he had only gone to training and his patrols.

Baekhyun hadn’t even had the time for his city escapades.

But it all paid off in the end when at the dinner together with his brother-in-law and his family, he got endless praises, even for some things he didn’t do. The decorations were all his sisters’ doing, but it still felt good to get some recognition. It was the night before the official ceremony and somehow, the nerves got to Baekhyun too. 

He got tired of being the one to deal with all the important people while the King stood back and watched, waiting for him to mess up—to fail.

He did not. And, just to spite his father, the glances that were thrown Chanyeol’s way to the seat the guard was occupying further from him got more daring, until another person entered the room. The young girl was his brother-in-law’s cousin, and he barely noticed the newly added presence. He had been too busy winking at Chanyeol behind his palm.

The crown prince knew he did wrong when his father cleared his throat, ‘’My son, may I speak to you for a second?’’ 

That was when Baekhyun knew he did wrong. His father excused them both before disappearing out in the hall. In his passing, Baekhyun only saw a pair of dark eyes following his figure with knitted eyebrows. 

‘’You might be my youngest, but I won’t tolerate this kind of behaviour in front of our guests.’’ His father did not even give him the time to fully swallow his last bit of food. 

The king was nothing like him. While the man was standing tall at 6′ 2″, the prince got his mother’s height. It was not the only thing he took from her his whole form was so different from his father’s. 

Despite it, Baekhyun kept his head high, ‘’Yes, father.’’ 

 

‘’You’re a future king! How dare you ignore a visitor, in your kingdom? In your   palace?’’ 

More often than not, the old king was making a fuss out of nothing. When it happened, Baekhyun would usually hold his own stance. But now, no witty comeback came. He just wanted to retreat into his room. 

‘’And for what?’’ The king wasn’t done yet. He gritted in his face, ‘’for some silly infatuation? You belong to the people. Your duty is to your people. Remember that.’’ 

Baekhyun barely held in his sigh, ‘’I know, father.’’

‘’Go back to your chambers now.’’

The guards outside his doors were smirking. Or so he thought everything seemed to be against him at that moment. 

Baekhyun dismissed them quickly. He wanted one specific guard at the moment. Too bad the General did not. 

Said guard came not long after when he was slowly falling asleep in the warm water prepared for him. The sound of the door snapped the prince out of his floating. 

The prince got surprised, but he could not come close to the General. The big man clumsily turned his face back to the door the second their eyes met. 

‘’I- I apologize, my prince. I should have knocked.’’ 

The young royal chuckled shortly. Just seeing the knight portraying a human reaction gave him a spur of energy, ‘’I am under the water, you can turn around.’’

The knight did, but remained in the same spot as if waiting for instructions. Baekhyun was delighted. He raised his wet arms to hold onto the edge of the bathtub, purposefully pushing his chest out of the water too. 

‘’Sir, this is our room. You can do as you please.’’ 

Chanyeol was unsure, ‘’I should not be allowed to see you like this.’’

It came to the prince without thinking, he continued in a teasing manner, ‘’Why? You don’t like what you see?’’ 

‘’Whether I do or do not, does not matter.’’ The general saved himself from his question quickly. 

But, with Baekhyun, he was digging his own grave, ‘’So you do  like it?’’ 

The General cleared his throat. He paid no attention to his playful remark. Instead, he crossed the room towards his side of it and began stripping, not going further than his cloak and his heavy boots. 

‘’Tomorrow is an important day. You should sleep, my prince.’’

The royal tilted his head with a pout. He was tired, but now that Chanyeol was accompanying him and even engaging in small talk with him, he did not want to sleep yet.

‘’Why do you never bathe in our room?’’ Baekhyun asked instead, shaking the droplets of water hanging from his fingertips to the floor to get them dry.

The knight was gathering something from his wardrobe, ‘’It wouldn’t be appropriate.’’ 

Baekhyun giggled mischievously, splashing a little water around, ‘’At some point, I’d have to see you anyway. Why not now?’’ 

The splashing got louder, and the knight turned around to inspect what exactly the prince was doing. He did not expect to find him so close bare and out of the water, with a taunting grin on his beautiful face.

With his eyes trained ahead, Chanyeol took two steps back, like he had been given an order. The royal frowned at the change in his posture he was off-duty now.

‘’Your Majesty, what are you doing?’’ 

Baekhyun tried to act clueless. The lack of a response brought some shyness to him, his arms wrapped around his wet skin.

‘’Getting ready for bed, what else?’’ 

The General did not move from his previous position, ‘’You are a royal. You shouldn’t share your body with a mere guard.’’ 

It sounded like Baekhyun was being scolded. He had enough of feeling like a kid with his father. He knew he’d been told all about his status, about who could touch him and who could not even look him straight in the eye. Appearing naked in front of an older man of lower status than he could be seen as a shame, but the knight was the one he had chosen. Baekhyun did not care.

The prince scoffed softly behind his palm, retreating after no sign was coming from the man, ‘’We are off-duty, Sir. I don’t feel like hearing about etiquette rules.’’

A little dejected, Baekhyun picked up the night garments his maids had chosen for him.

The knight shuffled around for a few moments, then he cleared his throat he was leaving.

‘’Come back quickly. You know I can’t fall asleep without you.’’ Baekhyun threw after him, back to his playful self. He could, but it was harder. He fell back into his old habit of needing the General’s quiet presence at night.

 

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The long-awaited event had finally come. It was five in the morning when the old lady that always brought his tea knocked on his door, indicating that it was time to wake up. 

To no surprise, the knight was already standing on the edge of his bed, looking out the window with his sword in his hand. Something did not feel right to Baekhyun. Chanyeol was free today he was his partner for the wedding.

No !  The royal had been so busy with the planning that he forgot to ask Chanyeol to accompany him. He believed that it was already an implication, but it seemed not. 

‘’S-sir ’’ The prince groggily murmured, taking the man out of his staring, ‘’Where are you going?’’ 

‘’On patrol. The guests should be arriving in the next hours.’’

Baekhyun whined from his bed, mad at himself for forgetting something so important, ‘’No, Sir, you are my partner. We will be greeting the guests together!’’ 

The General kept quiet. After a minute of continued silence, Baekhyun got the courage to step out of his warm bed. He was met with a deep frown coming from the man, ‘’Sir?’’ 

‘’My prince, this is important.’’ The knight spoke out slowly, ‘’You’re a future king for all of those people. I cannot be standing next to you.’’ 

With his robe thrown carelessly on his shoulders, the prince stomped to the other’s bed, ‘’This is nonsense! I am your future husband too. They should be getting used to seeing you next to me.’’

The room went dead silent again. This time, Baekhyun could see the way the knight’s face darkened, but the latter kept mum.

‘’What’s on your mind?’’ He asked, gentler.

‘’It does not matter.’’

Feeling more daring, the royal sat on the edge of his bed, next to him, ‘’You can tell me. I told you we are off-duty here.’’

The General turned to him, so abruptly that it caught him off guard. They came face to face, ‘’You are a fool to think the king would let you do that, my prince.’’ 

The words were so blunt that Baekhyun had to pause and process. It was the first time the General was addressing him so informally.

‘’You joined us for dinner last night!’’ The prince huffed, offended. 

‘’Yes, as your guard.’’

It was true. His initial plan had been to introduce Chanyeol as his future husband to his in-laws, but his father had another opinion on it. He still thought that Baekhyun would change his mind. 

It took a lot of solid threats and an episode of ‘’almost’’ jumping off the balcony for the mischievous prince to get the approval to sit together with his husband at the table. Baekhyun had to keep silent and Chanyeol had to pass as a simple personal guard. It was not hard, with his imposing presence and his trained posture.

‘’It does not matter. You will be my partner.’’

 

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The crown prince always got what he wanted , one way or another, just like today. Half of the palace was already awake when he emerged from his father’s study still in his night robe, barely covered, ready to jump outside and make a scene for everyone to see. 

‘’I’ll tell everyone how the General is taking me every night!’’ His voice grew higher. ‘’I’ll tell them I will give up my crown and run away! I’ll become a prostitute!’’ The last sentence was the loudest. Outside the room, the guards patrolling had to keep their heads hanging low and pretend no one heard anything.

The crown prince should have been already on the throne, ready to greet the early guests that were arriving. For the early ones, the whole day was reserved for strolling around the palace, exploring all the luxury places the big walls separating the royal’s home from the rest of the city were hiding. 

‘’Alright, enough!’’ 

Baekhyun demanded for him and Chanyeol to get matching suits barely 10 minutes after, and by 8 AM, the husbands were both already in the throne room seated next to the king and queen, accompanied by the crown prince’s siblings. In exchange, Baekhyun had to keep quiet about the real relation between them. Chanyeol had to be presented as his loyal guard. 

Still, it was better than nothing. At least for Baekhyun.

The General did not look as delighted to be there as the crown prince . T he younger often tried to joke or instigate him to take part in the conversation the royals had to carry with each arriving guest. 

By midday, he was exhausted. His father had tried to push him to take the lead in everything, and the knight wasn’t of much help, compared to his mother who was always ready at his father’s side. 

Baekhyun wished he were Joonhyun his sister could not come out of her room all day, not until the ceremony started. She had been spending her day getting ready. 

The ceremony had begun and Baekhyun finally figured out his father’s plan. He had been introduced to so many maidens that he lost count of all of them. But, every time, he would just shuffle closer to the General.

During the last vows of his sister and her husband, the crown prince got a little daring. While sitting down, Chanyeol’s hand looked a little inviting. He kept running a thumb over the silk of his pants, probably without realizing, but Baekhyun did. So, sneakily lowering his own hand, he covered the knight’s calloused fingers with his. 

The reaction he got was not what he expected, but he should have known. Chanyeol only raised his eyes to him, then back to their fingers. After that, he went back to his stoic expression. Still, a triumphant smile bloomed on the prince’s lips when a rough finger ran over all of his.

The night was not even halfway through but Baekhyun was ready to go to sleep, although he could not. As the future king, the young prince had to toast with every nobleman passing by the royal table. Alcohol wasn’t really his forte. 

After the opening dance his sister and her husband had to initiate, he slowly retreated back to his seat where the General was waiting, afraid that if he had stayed any more minute, he’d have to engage in a conversation with another noble girl coming his way. His future husband had refused to accompany him for their first dance.

‘’Sir! You have to come and dance with me!’’ Baekhyun exclaimed with his flushed cheeks, a grin splitting his face. He couldn’t grab his hand in front of everyone, but he could use his puppy eyes on him. 

‘’I can’t, Your Grace.’’ The man didn’t even look at him he was pretending to watch the dancers in the middle of the ballroom. 

The prince pouted, moving to stand in front of the General, ‘’Why not? I want to dance!’’ 

‘’Brother, leave him alone. I’m sure the General has not been trained in dancing.’’ A soft voice was heard from his right. It was Junmyeon, who had been busying himself with a glass of wine since the beginning of the night , only to have a reason not to leave the table.

Seeing that nothing else was added from Chanyeol’s part, the crown prince retook his seat next to him with a small pout, even though he only got 5 minutes of rest. He could not ignore his duties after all, and as a future king in search of a suitable partner as his father had introduced him, he had to give everyone a fair chance. 

One lady with eastern features came before him to introduce her only daughter a beautiful olive-skinned girl, who, to his embarrassment, was much taller than him. The royal gently took her hand and led the girl back to the ballroom, making sure to steal a glance over his shoulder at his husband while he did so. Chanyeol was not looking at him. 

The young girl was far too ecstatic to be holding the crown prince’s hand. Baekhyun felt bad to let her down so soon, ‘’How are you enjoying the capital?’’ The prince asked with a kind smile, to ease the girl’s nerves. 

She looked taken aback, clearly not expecting to be spoken to. ‘’It’s much bigger than what I am used to, Your Grace,’’ she softly began, ‘’I was afraid to venture out on my own and my parents were both too worn out by the long road to accompany me.’’ 

Baekhyun opted for a sympathetic expression, although he could not care less. 

‘’I will be staying for two more days. I was thinking Your Grace could show me your city, if it is not too much to ask.’’ 

The music was ringing in his ears. His head was pounding and the bright lights were making his eyes water. Baekhyun did not understand why he had to be in this position right now, when he could have already been with his chosen husband, maybe dancing, if the General hadn’t been so adamant with refusing them. Maybe if his father accepted his choices instead of trying to change them…

‘’I will give you one of my knights to accompany you. I am sure they know their way around better than I do.’’ 

He was sure that even she had got to see more places than he had. 

The tone used was polite, but final. The girl understood it too, because the subject was dropped while their dance continued.

Baekhyun danced with two more maidens before his limbs betrayed him. It was well past midnight and no one looked like they were planning to end the party. His sister had left for her husband’s castle half an hour ago. 

The royal made his way past everyone, praying that he wouldn't be noticed until he walked out in the garden. People were still all around, and he had to stop to greet everyone. His attire was a blessing and a curse. He loved it, but it made the prince stand out. 

No one dared to follow him in his private part of the garden. He finally got some peace. 

After one week of barely getting rest, Baekhyun was left exhausted. Laying under the baldachin he had between his roses, the royals’ eyes slowly dropped, until they remained shut. 

Quiet steps took him out of his state of dreaming someone was inside his garden and coming his way. It had been a mistake to go unaccompanied during such a big event, with guests all around the kingdom. Baekhyun regretted leaving his dagger in his room. But, the head that peeked inside his resting place was a familiar one. The Prince's heart fell back into its normal pace. 

"My Prince, are you alright?" The deep voice of the knight comforted him even more. 

Baekhyun could only summon a tired smile, "Just needed a bit of rest." He assured, suppressing a yawn. 

The knight remained standing in front of him. His big hands found purchase on the corners of his wine red robe. He looked out of his element without his sword to hold onto. 

"You have worked hard," was added, a little awkwardly. The General was not a man of many words. Baekhyun had to chuckle at how endearing the thought was. 

"I did, didn't I?" The young prince teased back, but he couldn't find it in himself to joke further. That persistent yawn escaped him. 

Chanyeol observed him, "Your Highness, you need to rest."

The prince was feeling lethargic. His head swayed from side to side slowly, "Not yet, everyone is still here. It's too early…" He half-argued. 

The General had to kneel in front of him to observe his face better. He rested there, in front of the royal, "I am sure no one would notice your absence, My Prince. I would come with you." 

Chanyeol used his weakness against him. In the end, they both went up to his chamber, the knight shielding a spent Baekhyun. 

The royal pretended to be too tired to notice the bed he landed on. That was how he ended up resting on The General's bed. He had hoped for it to last longer, but Chanyeol was quick to pop his bubble. 

‘’I think your bed would be more comfortable.’’ 

His limbs were too heavy to be moved. The prince just turned around to glance at the knight through his bleary eyes, but the words of complaint he had ready wouldn’t come out. Instead, a yawn did.

‘’General...you are so cruel…’’ He blabbered, rubbing at his closed eyes. 

The man stood and watched, not sure of how to proceed he was not an expert at child care. If it were up to him and his methods, the spoiled prince would have been sleeping already. 

‘’My Prince, you need to change.’’ 

‘’Would you help me do it?’’ Baekhyun regained bits of his energy back at the chance of teasing the knight. He couldn’t miss it.

Silence fell over them. The royal was trying so hard to keep his eyes from dropping, peeking from under his eyelashes at the man who seemed to be made of stone. After a soft sigh, one hand appeared in front of Baekhyun’s face.

The boy was left confused, not knowing the reason behind it. He just wanted to sleep, but Chanyeol shook his extended hand, coercing him to react in some way. It was there for him to take it, Baekhyun concluded.

The prince didn’t want to move from his warm spot, but this would have been his second chance to hold the man’s hand on the same night. The clothes hugging his body were not the most pleasant either. So, with all the strength left inside him, he grabbed the much bigger hand, pushing himself up at the same time. 

Maybe the General took pity on his poor state because he did not add anything when the smaller ‘’accidentally’’ got up too fast and lost his balance, ending up resting on the man’s chest.

The prince sighed in content. He could feel the hard outline of the knight’s abdomen even through all the layers covering him. It was a warrior’s body, and Baekhyun found himself enjoying it a little too much. 

‘’Your Grace?’’ Thundered under his hard human pillow. It made him snap his eyes open. Right now, Baekhyun was anything but graceful. 

‘’Why won’t you call me by my name?’’ The royal asked, with his hands slowly sneaking behind the man. He wasn’t stopped. 

‘’I could never. You are my prince.’’ The General explained, going stiff once Baekhyun successfully circled his form. 

The prince smacked his lips together in a tired complaint, ‘’I will be your husband too. Why won’t you call me ‘my husband’ then?’’ 

‘’Maybe you won’t,’’ came a biting tone. With a little difficulty, Baekhyun twisted out of his overflowing cape. His crown had already fallen on Chanyeol’s bed. 

‘’What are you talking about? You don’t want me?’’ He couldn’t help the sting inside his chest . T he royal clung to his chest harder. 

Another sigh, this one deeper. The knight started to put some distance between them, ‘’Whether I do or don’t does not matter, my prince. You should know that.’’ 

The meaning behind it escaped Baekhyun completely, maybe if he hadn’t been so tired. All he understood was that he was not completely unwanted, and he settled for that. The prince put on his most radiant smile to look up at the General. Without thinking, his hands retreated by his side to unclasp the golden bracelets circling his arms. They were swollen from being confined all day. Next came the chains dangling on his chest, keeping his silk blouse together. But he didn’t get far one shoulder of his bare and hands clasped his wrists.

‘’My prince, what are you doing?’’

‘’I’m changing.’’ He replied nonchalantly, trying to free his hands. 

‘’You should not change in front of me.’’ The General recited solemnly. At a stolen glance, Baekhyun discovered that his eyes were trained ahead.

‘’Why not?’’ The prince pushed an exhausted sigh past his lips, ‘’You have already seen me, what difference does it make?’’

Instead of a reply, the knight gave him a humourless head shake, ‘’You never listen.’’ 

Baekhyun beamed back, ‘’You are right, I don’t.’’ 

The man tried to pull back. With a quick movement, Baekhyun had already lost his fragile top, and now he was chasing after the General, or more like dragging his feet on the floor. ‘’What should I do to melt this cold heart?’’ He nasally whined.

Chanyeol ignored him, and he had lost the warmth of his embrace too. The man was taking steps back, leaving a dejected Baekhyun behind. The younger could swear he heard him huff. 

The royal stood there exposed, continuing with a sulky pout, ‘’You are really mean, Sir, did you know that?’’

No response.

‘’You want to know why?’’ He went on, ‘’You refused to dance with me! I had to change so many partners because my husband did not want me!’’

Chanyeol openly scoffed, ‘’I do not know how to dance.’’ 

But the prince kept pouting, ‘’I really wanted to dance with you…’’

He was so good at pretending to be upset that the General did not notice the steps he took forward. He only did when it was too late, and the younger had captured his hands again. 

‘’I will teach you!’’ 

‘’You do not need to.’’ 

The prince halted. With a quick movement, his hands flew to his slacks. He paid no attention to the fine embroidery on the material he was ready to rip them off.

‘’What are you doing?!’’ The knight exclaimed, chasing the smaller’s hand to stop it. 

‘’I am getting ready to go outside and complain to the guards about how neglectful my husband is.’’ 

The General’s eyes flashed red for a second, but they died down to a single scorn that was resting on his lips. Without exchanging another word, the man’s hands pulled him closer, a little harshly, before they rested on his bare skin. 

It was something foreign to Baekhyun, both the way he had been handled and the touch on his skin. Heat was pooling inside his belly at the thought of this intimacy. 

Only a thin smile remained on the royal’s lips. He stopped to catch the music coming from the ballroom. It was faint, but perfectly enjoyable in the silence of his chamber. Not wasting any more seconds once he caught the slow rhythm, his hands came to a stop behind the General’s neck, and he began to sway.

He took the knight with him in a slow dance, more of just wobbling from side to side and trying to find a rhythm between them, but for the young royal, it was perfect. Chanyeol was not pushing him away, which was also perfect. 

The tiredness from earlier came back two songs after, and he dropped on the knight’s chest with a final, yielding yawn. Even then, when his legs stopped listening to him, their dance did not stop. Chanyeol was the one who kept them moving. The prince would remember how good it felt to be held, and how surprisingly gentle hands laid him in bed. But more than that, he would remember the first night Chanyeol had been more than the King's army Commander to him. 

No one came to wake him in the morning. When the prince woke up, the sun was shining high in the sky. Baekhyun was left confused, but he could not deny the sleep he got was one of the best he had had in a while. 

Baekhyun could hear the commotion outside from inside his room. It was late into the day and everyone was busy clearing the palace halls from the wedding arrangements. That was how he found his maids when he went down all the ladies were running around to and fro. 

Baekhyun stopped one to voice out his confusion to and a greater one fell upon him when he found out the reason . T he General had instructed everyone to stay out of his room until he woke. 

With merry steps, the prince skipped over to the balcony, in search of his husband. The man was back to his duties outside in the training grounds. Baekhyun smiled to himself a winning beam. 

Later, after he broke his late fast, he found out that his parents had already left with his siblings to visit Joonhyun’s new home. The royal did not know how the General convinced everyone to leave him behind.

But it was not that hard, he had to remain in the palace and do his duty after all. The guests were still all around town, and Baekhyun was announced that he was to dine with an Official visiting from The Night Kingdom. Baekhyun scrunched his nose at the news. Northerners were not his favourite people, something about their bluntness was unsettling for him.

The prince took to the hearing court in place of his father, and that was how his day went by. Before he knew it, it was already time for dinner. 

Before changing from his official clothes, he sent a maid to bring the General inside. He was not going to eat alone with his guest. 

The table was rather empty without his big family like he got used to. It was just the three of them, but the silent presence next to him brought some comfort. Meeting important people was still nerve-wracking for the young crown prince.

The Official was just like how he had expected him big, with a rough face hardened from the cold, imposing. He went straight to the point, without any of courtesies that Baekhyun was used to. The man did not compliment his palace, nor the fest that took place last night. Chanyeol could easily pass as a northerner, if he were to think about it.

‘’Your Grace, thank you for having me.’’ The man commented flatly once at the table, while Baekhyun bowed in return. The General did not even move. He watched as the maids ran around, bringing their dishes to the table.

‘’The pleasure is all mine. I am glad you could join us, with how busy you are.’’ The royal chirped back, opting for his best jovial smile. He turned to Chanyeol next, ‘’I am afraid you haven’t been introduced. This is General Park, our army’s Commander.’’ The prince gestured between the two men. 

‘’Of course I know the General. Not the friendliest man, eh?’’ The visitor joked like they were old friends and it surprised Baekhyun. ‘’You dine with your guard?’’ 

The prince’s jaw set, but he turned back to his guest with a solemn expression. ‘’He is not my guard. He is my most trusted advisor. You can speak freely, Sir, we are all equals at this table.’’

‘’Oh, believe me, Your Grace, you would not like me speaking freely.’’ 

The General set his elbows on the table with a loud clank. He continued studying their guest. 

Baekhyun went on with a curl of his lips, signalling peace. He picked up his glass of wine, ‘’How are you finding our kingdom? Is everything to your liking?’’ 

‘’I couldn’t shut my eyes because of the light all night.’’ The Official sniggered, gulping down all the wine poured for him. ‘’But your girls are very pretty, I have to give you that.’’

Baekhyun went on with his cordial smiles, ‘’They are, indeed.’’ He wouldn’t know. All he could think of was the scornful knight beside him.

They went on with their dining. 

‘’Your Grace, I would usually discuss this with your father, but since he is not here, I came here with a proposal.’’ 

The prince nodded, eyes wide with curiosity to keep his appearance. He had an idea of the proposal already.

‘’It’s a hard time we live in. We must help and support each other, as you know.’’

‘’Yes, you are correct.’’ His hand wanted to drop his cutlery and chase the General’s under the table, but he had to keep himself under control.

‘’We have heard of Your Grace’s unconventional...preferences. I think you already know you are nearing the age of marriage, and word has spread that you are refusing every lady suggested by your parents.’’ 

Now, this was not the turn he was expecting their conversation to take. Baekhyun already thought he would need to be excusing his older sister from an arranged marriage, but not this.

‘’To keep it short, my king has a son your age which I think would be to your liking. I think an alliance between our kingdoms would be beneficial, as you are great strategists, and we are feared warriors. It would be a great union in the wars to come.’’ 

Baekhyun wanted to snort. ‘’Fortunately, it looks like we have no wars coming.’’

‘’A shame. I think you would like the men from the North.’’ 

The royal set on a tight-lipped smile. He placed his glass down, ‘’You are indeed great warriors, but my future needs to be discussed with my parents, and since they are not here, I cannot give you anything but a ‘maybe’. My nineteenth birthday is still far away, we have plenty of time to discuss this matter.’’ 

Such a big lie. He knew that the moment this dinner ended, he would forget all about northerners. But Baekhyun had to do his duty. His refusal had been made clear, so, despite his try at small talk, their dinner ended shortly after. 

Baekhyun was left alone with the General, who was back to his taciturn self like the last night never happened. The prince stopped him from taking further steps outside, ‘’Did you enjoy the dinner?’’

‘’The food was good.’’

The royal chuckled, closing the gap between them. ‘’Yes, I also wanted to get up and run.’’ Side by side, the younger wanted to latch on the General’s arm, mood down after that draining meeting, but he held himself back, being in front of all the maids. 

They retreated to Baekhyun’s chamber after his insistent demands, because the knight wanted to go on his night patrol but the prince did not want to be alone and lonely again. 

‘’Thank you, for letting me sleep this morning,’’ Baekhyun added with a radiant smile, watching as the man searched around for this nightclothes.

He was left alone shortly after when the knight went to finish with his bath. The prince giggled to himself. In exchange for his sweet gesture this morning, he had instructed the maids to prepare the bath for Chanyeol, with his luxury bath oils. He could use the relaxing scents.

Something was not letting him rest though, he was still shaken by their visitor. His refusal could lead to something worse. While waiting for his husband to come back, he rushed to his father’s study to gather as many documents about the North and their relations as he could. Chanyeol found him deep in his lectures when he returned.

‘’My prince, you did not have to.’’ The man softly muttered, walking to Baekhyun’s study. 

The boy raised his eyes to him, ‘’It’s the least I could do.’’ He offered a sweet smile. ‘’I’m reading about the Night Kingdom. They are really cruel beasts,’’ Baekhyun added conversationally, but he did not expect the General to occupy the seat next to him. 

‘’I know. I fought alongside them once.’’

He also did not expect the knight to engage in a conversation with him, but it was a pleasant surprise, ‘’You did? When?’’

‘’Years ago...you were 10.’’ 

Baekhyun nodded dumbly, he could not react the way he’d like to when he was with the General. He might be a little too infatuated with the man. ‘’I am just gathering information about them. Would you like to join me?’’ 

The man paused, looking from the documents scattered on the desk, back to him. ‘’Do you want me to?’’ 

Baekhyun chuckled, on the verge of blushing from all the attention he wasn’t used to coming from Chanyeol, ‘’Of course, two minds are better than one.’’ 

They proceeded in silence, passing books stained in old ink from one another, exchanging opinions every once in a while. Life with Chanyeol by his side seemed delightful. He could see himself ruling in harmony with the man for the rest of his life.

Baekhyun was sure that there was no one else he wanted in his place.

Words were sent for the prince the next day that his parents would be missing for one more day, and he did not like it at all. He was already planning an escapade to the riding fields, but now he had to stay inside the palace and deal with his father's duties all day. 

Their morning was spent in silence, with the young prince silently sulking over a lost sunny day. He had to bring his father's documents to the table to inspect everything he had to do for that day, and from the look of it, it did not seem like he would be doing anything else beside it. 

The king's advisor did a brief rundown of everything. Baekhyun did not like the man, and the man did not like him. If the crown prince weren't there, the advisor would have been the one in command.

Two noblemen were fighting for land, one of the palace girls fell pregnant and in absence of the father, her mother had tried to kill the girl's child to hide the shameful act, there was a thief running around the capital markets Baekhyun's head hurt. 

It was comical, how the king trusted his youngest with those decisions, but he could not trust and support his choice in marriage. 

"General, would you join me today?" Baekhyun folded all the documents once he was done with his cup of tea, turning to the man, ever so silent in his place. 

"Your Grace, I think the General has his own duties to attend to " The advisor interrupted the prince, and with it, gone was the serene feeling Baekhyun got from looking at his future husband. 

"Excuse me," The royal began, wintry smile in its place, ‘’Are you perhaps...his spokesman?’' 

The old man looked offended, but Baekhyun had had enough. If he was expected to be fulfilling the duties of an adult, he should be treated like one. 

"I asked The General a question." That left the advisor with no choice but to follow his order, stepping back to his place. 

When the younger turned to Chanyeol, he found the man quite enjoying their small exchange. He had one eyebrow raised, but it faded quickly. 

"Do you wish for me to join you?" 

The crown prince couldn't mask his childish giggle, "I always wish for you to join me." 

"Then I will." 

That, he did not expect. The knight gave in to his wishes so easily. His heart was soaring. 

Baekhyun sat on the throne, while his husband took his place by his right side. That was how the hearings began, early in the morning. 

By noon, all he wanted to do was run out of the doors and not look back, never look back. Giving a fair chance to everyone took a toll on him. Baekhyun was not a patient person, nor the most emphatic, but he had been trained to become one.

In moments like these, the young prince started to question his motive for going through all of this. The people loved him, but he did not love them enough. He had a lot of ambition, but it had never been focused on taking the crown. He never expected it. 

The only plan he'd had ever since he discovered that the loud booming in his chest was actually called love, was to make the General his. What a childish goal, and what an awful job he had done at it. 

"Your Majesty!" Their short break was interrupted just when Baekhyun was about to make a small comment about his long day. 

Two of the king's people rushed inside, kneeling before the throne, "A bridge has crumbled down near the west gate."

Pinching his thigh to keep himself from heaving a sob over this eventful day, the prince rose from his seat, "Do not panic. I will send someone to check the situation." 

He barely finished his sentence when a voice from his right spoke up for the first time since they entered the throne room, "I will go."

The royal wasn't very approving of this idea, but he knew better than to argue in front of his people. Instead, he turned to the knight with a whisper, "Be careful." 

Chanyeol was gone all day. By the time the General returned, the young prince was sure he had made countless mistakes on his own. 

"How did it go?" The prince almost threw himself at him. The past few days had left him drained, craving even the tiniest bit of attention. 

"It isn't bad, it should take around three days to be rebuilt. You just need to give the order." The General explained. A loud thud echoed around their chamber when the upper piece his armour dropped to the floor. 

"It is late now, my father will handle it tomorrow," Baekhyun responded with a sigh. 

The man stopped to study him after a long whine caught his attention, "My prince, you have worked hard, but I am afraid you might have overworked yourself. You should sleep." 

Baekhyun’s eyes sparkled at the acknowledgement, but the idea of sleep was not appealing yet, ‘’Thank you for being by my side these days.’’

The General nodded as a response. 

‘’Can we go out on the balcony? The night is so warm…’’ The prince went on, splayed on his back on the bed, eyes on the red moon outside.

‘’You need to sleep, My Prince.’’

The young royal whined, displeased. He kept silent for some seconds, until he came up with another plan, ‘’I don’t think I would be able to sleep without some fresh air. Ah...if only I had a kind person to keep me company…’’ He dramatically recited, turning and twisting in bed to show how much the thought tormented him.

The General groaned, ‘’Your Grace, you really are something else.’’ 

It was his cue that he had won when Chanyeol left his bed and crossed the room heading to the balcony opening.

‘’How was the city?’’ The prince asked, curled up in his seat, waiting with hopeful eyes. 

‘’The same as always.’’ 

Baekhyun did not know the 'always' he was talking about. ‘’Care to elaborate?’’ 

The knight turned to him fully with a somehow irritated pull on his brows, ‘’What do you want to know?’’

‘’Just...how life outside the palace looks like.’’

‘’People are still celebrating your sister’s marriage. The streets are full of dancers, acrobats, prostitutes…’’ 

The prince nodded at every piece of information. He wished he could see all of it himself, but since he couldn’t, he was hanging on the General’s words. After more minutes of silently gazing at the stars, Baekhyun spoke up again.

‘’I think I made a mistake today…’’

‘’Hm?’’

His canines grazed his bottom lip before the prince began to relate everything Chanyeol had missed.

‘’Do you think I did the right thing, separating her from her mother? They were not in good relations anyway. I think she’ll be able to raise her kid better here, even if she’s a maid…’’ 

Chanyeol did not respond immediately. He stood by his side, with his eyes travelling from his face, to the bright moon, then back again.

‘’Sir, what do you think?’’

‘’I think it does not matter any more. If Your Grace says that it is the right thing to do, everyone would believe it is. Royals are always right.’’

Baekhyun tensed in his seat, ‘’But that is not the point, did you not listen to me?’’ He exclaimed, offended. It had looked like The General really cared for what he had to say.

It got the man fired up. Baekhyun had seen him like this before, but never to him. He had always been his obedient, silent guard. 

‘’What do you want me to say? Should I give the little babe a pat on the back, tell him he did a good job, so he can sleep better at night?’’

This came like a stab to his vulnerable heart. It was aching all over. His bottom lip started to tremble, but the prince did not want to appear so weak, so he tried to hold it in. ‘’Why are you like this? Why are you treating me like a child? I only wanted to be sincere with you!’’

‘’Because you are a child.’’ Chanyeol instantly retorted, and his lip trembled harder. 

With The General, he felt understood. He really thought they were similar, but now, it seemed like his feelings were taken as a joke. ‘’Sir, do you think being a royal is easy?’’

Chanyeol snorted, still with that mocking smirk playing on his lips. Baekhyun hated it. ‘’How hard can it be? Sitting on your golden throne and giving out orders?’’

He could not hold back his sobs any more. ‘’Is that what you think of me? Is that all that I am to you?’’

The general tore his eyes from him, now ignoring him completely in favour of looking into the distance. He was so calm while Baekhyun’s heart was wrenching in his chest.

"Answer me!" He demanded when only silence met his questions. The prince was getting tired of this, did he really have to beg to get a reaction out of the man?

He got one, but not the one he expected. His sudden order made the knight snap his head around, pinning him down with fiery eyes. ‘’You are a spoiled child, My Prince.’’

Baekhyun's tears escaped, drops after drops. No one had ever hurt him like this before.

‘’How is it my fault that I was born this way? How is it my fault that no one has told me, apart from you, that being spoiled is such a crime? That not every child has grown up like this?’’ He rushed out between hiccups, speeding up his speech because it was going nowhere. Not even his tears moved the General, he was only making a fool of himself. ‘’How is that my fault? How can I change it? Would that make you consider me?’’ To think he could have anyone he wanted, but he chose to step on his pride and beg the General like this.

‘’You do not need to change anything, My Prince. Maybe you should reconsider your choices. We are not suitable for each other.’’ Chanyeol flatly added, like he was talking about the weather, not Baekhyun’s feelings.

The prince spent the rest of the night with muffled cries in his pillow. He could not accept it. What was the problem with him? Why was the General the only one who did not want him? But, as much as he cried, his pride was bigger, and it also got wounded. It did not make a good combination. When he put his mind to it, Baekhyun could ignore someone for days.

In the morning, he did not go to the balcony to watch the knight train. He remained glued to his chair, with a gloomy feeling that overtook him. If his family noticed the sudden change in his mood or how he did not insist for the General to accompany them, they never said anything. Baekhyun was grateful for that at least.

Three days after, his pain turned into anger. He stopped chasing after the knight, and it all went back to normal, to the days when Chanyeol was just his father's most trusted warrior and Baekhyun admired him in silence. 

Only, it was harder now when they met every night in their shared room, but it seemed to be so only for the younger. There was no change in the General whatsoever, so it angered him to realize how little he meant to Chanyeol. 

He was expecting the knight to apologize days ago, but it never happened. All that was left for Baekhyun was to move on, but he would be lying if he said he wasn't hiding his tears at night still. His pride was too big to admit it though. One week had passed, with no improvement in the crown prince’s temper. He had to go around, slowly taking over his father’s initial duties, with a scorn deeply seated on his otherwise beautiful features.

One morning, however, to his surprise, he was the one to be summoned before the throne. The hall was empty, save for his father sitting on his throne. The young prince did not know how to react. Nothing he had been doing lately could serve as a reason for the sudden summoning. 

The wooden doors opened again, and inside stepped General Park, who kneeled in front of his father, next to him who did not bother to do the same. 

‘’My King.’’ 

‘’Rise, General.’’ He did, before the knight turned to the prince to bow in acknowledgement.

‘’I am sorry to disturb you from your duties. I summoned you both to discuss an important matter.’’ 

Baekhyun shifted from one foot to another the silence that stretched was nerve-wracking. Did his father notice the change in their relationship? What was going to happen now?

‘’Son, you never told me about the North’s proposal.’’ The King’s imposing voice broke through his inner debate. 

‘’I never considered it relevant enough to do so.’’ The prince copied his father’s tone, holding his own against him. 

‘’It is. The alliance between our kingdoms would be beneficial to many, as you already know.’’ 

Baekhyun did not like where this was going, but he found no strength to fight against it any more, no reason to. ‘’Father, why is the General here?’’ 

‘’I want to hear your opinions on this.’’ 

The prince’s heart was stinging again Chanyeol would have no opinion on it. He would probably be relieved that he was set free from the spoiled child he despised so much.

‘’It is not important. You may do as you please, father.’’ Baekhyun saved himself the pain and responded first, with his head held high. He never glanced in the knight’s direction.

The King nodded. ‘’General?’’ 

‘’If this is His Grace’s decision, I must respect it.’’ Chanyeol bowed again. Tears were threatening to escape the crown prince.

‘’I see. Then it is settled, you might return to your duties.’’ The King commanded, watching his son’s reaction as well. Baekhyun was slightly fretting.

‘’Father ’’ The prince couldn’t suppress his sobs once the door shut close again, his heart was wrenching in his chest. Baekhyun fell to his knees in a silent plea. The boy did not want another husband, he didn’t want someone he had never seen to come and call himself his husband. He couldn’t stand the thought of someone else touching him, someone that was not Park Chanyeol. 

The sight in front of him melted the King’s hard features. He watched, with kind eyes, over his son who was gaping for words on the floor. 

‘’Stand up, son. A king does not cry.’’ But he was not a king, he was just a hurt boy. ‘’Go back to your chamber, I will give you time to think.’’

His tears dried on his walk back. At least he was excused for the rest of the day he could stay in bed and pity himself like the pathetic kid he was.

His plans did not go well, however, when inside his chamber he found the General. The man was stripping off his armour. Baekhyun wanted to turn around and run, but the heavy door had already caught the knight's attention.

"My Prince," he began, just as surprised as he had been. Baekhyun walked to his side of the room, ignoring the words thrown his way. 

"I am going to see the bridge's progress. Do you want me to bring you anything from the markets?" 

Baekhyun still did not want to talk. He just shook his head, then he turned his back to the knight to glance outside his window instead. Left alone, he could not help but doubt everything. Despite his never serious nature, he had always taken the knight very seriously. But now, he could only think of how the man might have seen him, how many times he’d been taken as a joke. 

The prince felt like crying again. Suddenly, he was left with no confidence at all, every past action of his felt wrong.

In spite of his very firm answer, the royal returned to his room, hours later after dining, to a foreign object sitting on his bed. He was alarmed at first who had broken into his chambers, with all the guards outside? What could possibly be wrapped up, waiting on his bed?

But his heart calmed after one glance at the General’s bed, which had the covers moved from the way they were when he left. He had been here, and knowing that, Baekhyun knew that no one could have entered their room. 

He walked to his bed to pick up the small package with curious eyes, and he couldn’t wait any more he impatiently tore the paper. The young prince gasped in surprise. Inside was a doll similar to the one he already had on the bed, the only difference being that the one he already possessed had blonde hair, while this new one was dark-haired. It had to be the General’s doing. 

Just like this, his previously mourning heart felt lighter. 

 

✧⋄⋆⋅⋆⋄✧⋄⋆⋅⋆⋄✧⋄⋆⋅⋆⋄✧⋄⋆⋅⋆⋄✧

On some days, Baekhyun had to train his sword-fighting skills. He disliked those days when he had to step inside the training grounds instead of watching his warriors from the sidelines. Usually, it would be the sweat he hated, but today, what bothered him the most was the person he had to train with—The General.

General Park was the one who had taught him sword fighting, and the one who kept training him during his childhood and teenage years. Back then, the days when his father sent him for training were one of his happiest, only because the General was there with him, actually giving him attention. Now, he did not feel so happy to be duelling with the knight, or be put face to face after he’d tried so long to ignore him.

The prince felt all the eyes on him the moment he stepped inside. It was an unusual sight to see him in his armour again after so long, and the court ladies from outside the fence made sure to cheer louder at the rare occurrence. 

Baekhyun did not want to be there. 

‘’My Prince, focus!’’ Chanyeol exclaimed after a blow the prince did nothing to parry, ‘’Your grip on the hilt is too weak. What did I teach you?’’ He tried again, never stopping from cornering the smaller until he backed away.

Without a word, Baekhyun raised his sword to attempt a hit, only to please the knight, but he did it half-heartedly. The clank resulting from it was not even loud. 

Briefly, while he was spinning in circles to avoid the knight’s attacks, he was reminded of their old days and the way Chanyeol had been able to teach him from all the trainers who have tried. The General, when fighting, was stern, but also gentle. He was like that now too, aiming for a hit, but never for an injury. His non-stop commands were looking to draw a reaction out of the royal. He had always been the most carefree with his sword in his hand.

‘’Yes, Your Grace, like that. Use your speed,’’

Now, Baekhyun would never be able to match the knight’s strength, but Chanyeol had taught him that he would not necessarily need that. He was lithe and graceful in his movements—if he could not beat them, he could outrun them until they grew tired.

Chanyeol’s words urged him on, the thrill of the fight was slowly coming back to the younger. ‘’Oh, princeling finally decided to entertain me?’’ The General asked again, looking to provoke him.

Baekhyun set his mind to it. He was going to make him lose focus. 

‘’Here, Your Grace, arms wide open!’’ The knight put on a show, stretching his arms to leave himself defenceless, an invitation for the smaller to attack, and he did that. But when the man was back in his defence, the prince retreated just as fast. Baekhyun went around the man in circles, ready to attack again, but it only got the taller chasing after him, trying to anticipate the next movement. 

With a growl, Chanyeol snapped out of their little game and forcefully delivered a flat blow to his arm, snickering while at it. Taunting him. ‘’My Prince, you are forgetting I am the one who had taught you these tricks.’’

‘’Then why are you so out of breath, if you are so accustomed to these tricks?’’ Baekhyun couldn’t hold his tongue any more. A grin almost escaped him.

‘’To give you a little confidence.’’

Annoyed by the sudden arrogance, the royal forgot all about his strategy. He charged into a sudden attack, which was blocked in an instant.

‘’You are insufferable, Sir.’’

Their swords clashed again and Baekhyun was pushed back after a powerful clang, ‘’Try again.’’

‘’I am sick of trying.’’ The royal gritted through his teeth, showering the bigger sword with a multitude of strikes. He was getting impatient. 

‘’Patience, my Prince.’’ The General teased him again, not even breaking a sweat. Baekhyun growled.

‘’I’ve run out of patience.’’ 

The prince dropped his sword. They were not referring to the sparring any more, he could tell, and he felt out of his element in this place, while Chanyeol was right at home. ‘’I am tired. I think this is enough.’’ Baekhyun walked out with his chin held high. His pride had given him a nudge just when he was about to fall for the General all over again. 

The prince spent the rest of the day dealing with official correspondence, an order given by his father who took the day off to hunt. He wished he could also take the day off, but the tasks helped him keep his thoughts away from one certain knight who did not want him.

Eventually, they met at night. Baekhyun was still bathing when Chanyeol returned. The knight did not expect to find him still in his tub, and the surprise was clear on his face. He made to turn around immediately. 

‘’Stay.’’ The prince articulated, clear and precise. He felt the need to push his body deeper under the water, to hide from the one he considered himself undeserving of.

He did not add anything else, and the knight went on like he was alone in the room. A long sigh reached Chanyeol’s ears. He turned back to the royal with a troubled expression on. Baekhyun could see he was debating on something, but he kept quiet.

‘’My Prince…’’ A low sound echoed in the otherwise silent room. Baekhyun’s ears perked up. 

‘’I hurt you with my lack of tact and I want to apologize for my words.’’ The knight firmly uttered, at the same time staring straight at the wall behind Baekhyun. 

The apology was courteous and proper, but it was not what Baekhyun needed. 

‘’You do not have to apologize for your opinion, Sir.’’ He felt resigned. This was all he could get.

‘’But that was not all. I am afraid you might have misunderstood me.’’ 

The statement made him raise himself a little, holding on the edge of the tub for support, ‘’Come here.’’ 

The General understood it as an order, because he was kneeling in front of the tub the next second. Baekhyun chuckled bitterly. ‘’No, I want to hear your sincere opinion, not this.’’  

‘’I am afraid I am not good with words.’’ Chanyeol didn’t mind his state of undress any more. He rested on the floor next to the prince. ‘’What should I say?’’

Baekhyun twisted to his side, supporting his elbows on the tub to glance down at the knight, ‘’Am I just a spoiled child to you?’’ 

The General shook his head slowly. 

‘’Then why? I don’t understand…’’ His voice was slowly getting whiny again, but he did not feel like crying once again.

‘’My Prince... I am a warrior. I do not like things being forced on me, and I am certain that I was not made to rule. I only know how to fight.’’ It took him a while, but he pushed the words out. 

Their eyes met, and they stayed glued to each other longer than ever before. No one bothered to break the contact, ‘’Also, I watched you grow up. You are still so young…’’

The stupid flutter of his heart was back in his chest, just from some simple words. ‘’So you do not want me?’’ 

Chanyeol lowered his eyes. A long pause followed. ‘’I am not totally opposed to it.’’

The prince’s breath got caught in his throat, ‘’Sir…?’’

‘’But you are moving too fast, my Prince.’’ 

The laugh that followed sounded too self-deprecating for his ears, ‘’Sir, you must have known about my infatuation. Believe me, it was hard to hold back when I could finally have you.’’ 

The General could not do much but airily chuckle. 

Baekhyun stood up. He had to face the man properly for what he was about to propose. He did not feel any shyness at that moment , only anticipation. 

The knight stood up just as fast, searching for the nearest cloth he could cover him with. Baekhyun could not be bothered. ‘’Give me one month. If your feelings for me don't change, I would marry the North’s heir and set you free.’’ 

Chanyeol forgot about wrapping the robe around him. He stopped, with his eyebrows furrowed in doubt, ‘’My Prince, are you sure?’’ 

The prince’s solemn expression changed into a beam —he had already decided. The smaller nodded, taking the extended hand to step out of the water. 

Finally, that night, his heart stopped hurting. Hope was blooming in his chest instead.

 

✧⋄⋆⋅⋆⋄✧⋄⋆⋅⋆⋄✧⋄⋆⋅⋆⋄✧⋄⋆⋅⋆⋄✧

 

When he made his proposal, the prince never considered all the things that would get in between them. In his head, a month was more than enough, but Baekhyun should have thought about the never-ending duties that his father entrusted him with, now that he was getting closer to his Coronation.

While the prince was keeping the king’s place at the Council table, the General was out to oversee the progress of the weapons they had ordered for the new army members. When he had to move to the throne room for official meetings, Chanyeol had to take his knights to the middle of the Capital, to repress the riot that arose between the foreign mercenaries and their own.

When the General came back with his report, Baekhyun hadn’t moved from his hearings half a day had passed. 

‘’Your Grace.’’ Chanyeol knelt before the throne and the royal smiled, but not the smile reserved for his future husband. He used his polite smile, the same for everyone that was visiting the throne room. 

‘’Yes, General Park?’’ 

‘’We have dealt with the riot, and no civilian had been hurt. I took the liberty to close the shop of the one who had started it.’’ 

Baekhyun curtly nodded. He was barely suppressing the fond smile that was trying to bloom on his lips. ‘’You have done well. You and everyone that accompanied you may take the day off.’’

It was his chance.

 

✧⋄⋆⋅⋆⋄✧⋄⋆⋅⋆⋄✧⋄⋆⋅⋆⋄✧⋄⋆⋅⋆⋄✧

 

Baekhyun escaped from everyone’s eyes after what felt like an eternity, and after long searches, he found Chanyeol in the stables, grooming his destrier. Seeing that his back was turned to him, the young prince got a plan. He tip-toed towards the knight, but the second he was ready to scare him, Chanyeol turned around and blinked down at the younger. ‘’My Prince?’’ 

Baekhyun pouted, ‘’How did you know?’’ 

‘’The horses felt you,’’ The knight put down his brush, giving a last stroke to the horse’s mane.  

The younger looked around at all the horses like they had just committed the worst treason, ‘’And how did you know it was me?’’ 

‘’No one else I know smells of vanilla and lemongrass.’’ Chanyeol said flatly, and the smaller’s ears reddened at his comment. He did not know he had a distinct smell to the General.

‘’Yes, I changed my bath oils.’’ He sheepishly added, patting Chanyeol’s horse as well.

The animal knew him. It would usually let only Chanyeol to approach it, but he had learned how to ride on its back. They were old friends. 

‘’Does anyone else know you are here?’’ 

Baekhyun grinned, raising his finger to his lips to silence him, ‘’No, so please keep my secret.’’ 

Chanyeol kept his flat tone, casually adding, ‘’You should go back to your duties, my Prince.’’

The prince joked, after a long, dramatic sigh, ‘’And here I was thinking I should spend some time with my husband.’’ 

No further comment came from the knight. 

‘’Would you accompany me on a walk?’’ Baekhyun proposed, seeing that the knight wasn’t planning on saying anything else.

‘’We cannot leave the gates. They would find you.’’

He clicked his tongue, thinking, ‘’The Palace’s fields then. I’ll just say I needed some fresh air.’’  

The Palace was surrounded by acres of green field, some with flowers, some with grains. Baekhyun chose the path to the forest to walk on. He liked it especially in humid times like this, during the middle of summer, because the tall trees provided some shielding against the terrible heat.

‘’Ah, finally some peace!’’ The prince exclaimed, throwing his head back to take in the fresh smell of grass. ‘’I cannot stand being confined inside the Palace any longer. This is torture!’’ He told Chanyeol with a wide smile, hoping to get a reaction out of him. When the knight only continued walking alongside him, he continued, ‘’Can I hold your hand? I love holding hands, but no one would hold mine any more.’’ He said with a pout. ‘’Being a cute child had its perks.’’ 

The General chuckled airily at his word vomit. Baekhyun couldn’t hold his tongue any more. He was finally away from being a royal, and with Chanyeol by his side. He blabbered on, until a rough hand caressed his softer one. 

That made him stop. His eyes trailed from their hands, back to the serious face in front of him, then back again, until he broke out into a bigger grin. 

‘’Hmmm, what should I tell you? Do you know how hard it is to hold a conversation with you, Sir? My dolls were more responsive. But it’s alright, I would talk for the both of us…’’ 

The prince happily swung their hands back and forth while he searched for something to say. ‘’Oh, I know!’’ He exclaimed, turning to face the man, ‘’Let's go to the flower fields!"

He did not wait for an answer when he tugged on Chanyeol's hand and guided him in the desired direction, all the way managing to talk about how boring the court hearings today were.

"Can we lay down?" He hopefully suggested, once they were in the middle of the colourful fields of purple and white. 

"You are still in your official clothes, my Prince." 

Baekhyun breathed out in annoyance, "You, Sir, are no fun!" 

The General gave in to this request, although he looked stiff laying next to him. Baekhyun, on the other side, felt as light as a feather. How could he not be, when the buds of lavender were gently tickling his now bare arms, or when he got to enjoy the night bird's song right under the red moon. The prince felt at peace, small, insignificant, lost inside the labyrinth of purple, but next to the one his heart desired.

‘’Do you ever wish you were somewhere else?’’ The boy breathed out, keeping his eyes closed. His fingers began a thorough search, until they found what he was looking for the General’s ones. He gingerly wrapped his digits around two of the man’s bigger ones.

‘’Somewhere else as in?’’ Chanyeol engaged in the conversation. The smaller could feel the way his fingers were squeezed harder.

‘’No specific place, just realizing that the world is so big and I would be here all of my life.’’ The prince giggled, silly of him to think out loud, ‘’Do not mind me, I was just making a conversation.’’ 

The knight cleared his throat, ‘’I do not. It’s been a while since I was a child, I had forgotten about those dreams.’’ 

Baekhyun’s eyes snapped open. He peeked at the General from the corner of his eye, and he could see that he was watched, ‘’Then what are you dreaming of now?’’ 

The prince turned on his side, and the knight did the same. Chanyeol slowly blinked down at him, ‘’Nothing in particular, I do not.’’ 

The royal gasped, ‘’How could it be? No wonder you are always so grumpy!’’ He teased, filling the field with his bright laugh. 

Chanyeol did nothing but huff, and after more minutes of failed teasing, the prince got bored with that too. He rose to collect the flowers nearest to him, while the man was left to follow him with curiosity. The boy began to braid a small flower crown, with his tongue caught between his teeth in concentration.

‘’What are you doing?’’ The General asked him. 

‘’I am making a gift for you.’’ The younger stated, as a matter of fact.

Chanyeol threw him an incredulous look, ‘’Why?’’

‘’Because I am courting you!’’ Baekhyun joyously explained, like the knight was supposed to know that already. He was beaming when the tiny crown was put atop of the man’s hair.

It left the knight without a proper answer to give. He stopped to watch the little grinning thing in front of him, radiating only warmth and affection. 

"That isn't necessary, my Prince." 

It only got the smaller to open up more, becoming more playful. "You do not like flowers? Ah, a shame. I do!" The prince stole his little gift for himself, radiant smile splitting his face in two. 

"What do you like then?" 

"Not many things." 

"Hmmm," Baekhyun tapped his chin, thinking, "What do you dislike?" 

This answer came faster, "Too many things." 

The prince pouted, not satisfied with the answer. Then, he childishly voiced,  "Do you dislike me?" 

"No, Your Grace." 

"Good, because I do like you." Baekhyun said between giggles, moving himself closer to the man, and Chanyeol let him. 

 

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They were found by his father’s right-hand man later, in a position that earned Baekhyun glares from everyone at the dinner table with him clinging to the man’s side, while his daring hand was resting on his chest. It was mainly his fault, despite Chanyeol’s insistence, he had refused to go back. It was late into the night when his father had sent a man for him.

The lecture about his frivolous behaviour given by his mother passed right by his ears. The prince did not care, there was progress between him and the General, and not even the harshest words could take away the happiness that came with the realization. 

At night, Chanyeol went back to his reserved self. He was at the dinner table to observe the consequences of the prince’s carefree behaviour. 

Baekhyun could not fall asleep so easily that night. He wanted more. He wanted to leave his bed and share his warmth with the knight, but he knew he would be pushing his luck.

The previous days felt dull and uneventful. They were all the same to Baekhyun, who was kept under the watchful eye of his father, lest he should escape again. Only seeing the General could calm his misery, which he told the man one morning. Since then, Chanyeol was more present in court matters, although his presence was a quiet one. Baekhyun appreciated how the man was willing to try for him.

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‘’I want to visit the Warm Lake!’’ The prince exclaimed one night, when he was halfway through his lecture. He put the book down to turn to the knight, who was holding a similar one on his own bed.

The Warm Lake was a lake near the forest east to the Palace, the forest his father loved to hunt in. It was where he learned how to swim, when his father would take too long after he insisted little Baekhyun should accompany him for his hunt and said little Baekhyun got bored with waiting. He remembered how he had almost drowned at first, when he ran away from his father’s men and straight to the lake, shedding his clothes and jumping right in. The kid had been too ashamed to admit it, though, and too stubborn to give up. Little Baekhyun would make his guard, Chanyeol, accompany him to the lake every time he tried until he mastered it, but he could never manage to make the guard join him.

‘’I think the King would be against it.’’ 

Baekhyun approached the General’s bed with careful steps and a little trouble in his eyes, ‘’He doesn’t have to know.’’ 

The man finally closed his own book, tearing his eyes from it to observe the prince, ‘’It is too late now, my Prince.’’ 

Now that he said it, Baekhyun felt a bit worn out too, a yawn was resting at the top of his throat. With a little courage gained from the knight’s undivided attention, the younger gingerly sat on his bed, next to the man.

Chanyeol’s only reaction was his raised eyebrow, switching from the bed to Baekhyun’s face while waiting for an explanation. 

‘’Ah…’’ The younger exaggeratedly stretched his limbs, ‘’I am so tired…’’

The General kept looking at him, unimpressed. 

‘’And would you look at that! My bed is so far away and so cold… I have been sitting at my table for far too long.’’ The prince went on, feeling around with his palms on the soft covers, ‘’This bed feels so nice, General. You have done a great job at keeping it warm.’’

He lowered himself with his eyes still closed, until he was completely laying down. The General seemed to be frozen. ‘’Your Grace, I do not think this is a good idea.’’ 

Baekhyun whined, curling up on the bed, ‘’So, so cold!’’ It was the middle of July and his kingdom was warm even in the middle of winter. He had no credibility, but Chanyeol still blew out the candles next to his bed.

The knight never touched him or even got close to the middle of the bed to meet his body. Baekhyun was afraid, a little ashamed too, to turn around and face him after his bold move. They spent the rest of the night in silence, but it did not matter. Baekhyun had his loud booming heart to focus on until he fell asleep.

 

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The prince had been in high spirits for more than a week now. The reason? Him unofficially moving to his husband’s bed. At first, the knight had avoided sharing a bed again after their first night to do so, but he grew tired of Baekhyun sleepily crawling from his own bed to the man’s in the middle of the night, claiming he had had a nightmare, so he just let it be. 

Today, the crown prince had a plan to be done with his duties earlier, so they could finally visit the lake he had been thinking about ever since his childhood memory came back to him. He was sure the knight would accept it. Chanyeol had been so lenient with him the past few days, giving in to all of his whims and blabbers. He could see how the man was softening up for him. 

He waited for nightfall to leave his chamber again, covered in dark robes that were hiding him whole. The new set of guards outside his door had no problem with his little request to not be followed. Next, he went to search for his husband, and he found him dining with the rest of the army in the large hall special for that occasion. He was the only one to sit at the head of the table, the only one with his face turned straight to the big doors. 

A covered head peeked through the same doors, with two sparkling eyes blinking rapidly at him. The General rose from the table with a short ‘’I am done.’’

Baekhyun was giddy with excitement, turning away from the door when more heads turned to follow the General. He waited behind it, jumping in front of his husband when the latter stepped outside. ‘’Surprise!’’

Chanyeol’s brows settled in a softer expression, ‘’Your Grace, what are you doing here?’’ 

The younger softly grabbed the knight’s arm, dragging him outside as he spoke, ‘’I am taking you for a swim!’’

‘’Now?’’ The man stopped to ask, incredulous. Baekhyun was taking them towards a servant’s exit at the back, one where no one stopped to bat an eye at the General and his new companion.

Baekhyun threw a little wink over his shoulder, ‘’Do not mind my robes. I came prepared under them.’’ 

What he could possibly mean, Chanyeol only found out later after their walk  filled with the younger's excited, mindless talking. They arrived at the lake and the younger wasted no time before shedding the heavy cloth, baring himself to the man in only a pair of very short, very tight braies. The man’s first instinct was to look away, at which Baekhyun giggled. ‘’Sir, I should be the one being shy! It is not fair to be the only one unclothed!’’ 

‘’I will watch you.’’ Chanyeol said, bending down to collect the robe the younger had just discarded to keep himself occupied. Baekhyun’s eyes grew incredulously big, and more giggles spilled past his lips.

‘’I never took you as that kind of man, Sir.’’ He prompted in jest, turning from observing how the man slowly lost his composure, to the calm waves of the lake. ‘’I want to go in!’’

A quick apology tumbled out of the General’s mouth, before his face went back to his Stoic expression, but not quite. He had a tranquil aura only Baekhyun seemed to bring out, somehow content. 

After one more stolen glance, the royal rushed to feel the warm water. He left the man behind, concluding that there was nothing else he could do to convince him. He would come after Baekhyun on his own. 

The lake was just like he remembered, even though it had been almost a year since he last visited his secret spot. 

When Baekhyun emerged from underwater, his eyes naturally went back to Chanyeol, to invite him to join once again, but he remained silent. The man was in the middle of unfastening his belt. Then his tunic followed. 

The prince’s curious eyes studied his large form, rooted to his spot. He was afraid that if a bigger splash was created, the General would still his hands from untying the laces of his pants. Chanyeol was in his undergarments and the younger felt his face colour. It was his first time seeing another man than himself like this, and he had to admit that their bodies were totally contrasting.

The General was wearing his battle scars all over his body, but none of them made it look unappealing. On the contrary, a familiar feeling was swimming in the pit of Baekhyun’s stomach at the sight of Chanyeol’s tanned, chiseled chest. The younger had to stop himself from his wavering thoughts. The prince could not lie to himself, he wanted the man even more now.

Chanyeol joined him with a jump, and the younger had to pretend he did not see it coming, or that he had not been observing him for the past minutes. The night was too bright to hide his little lies though, because he was being watched with a secretive smirk. 

‘’Enjoying the night so far, my Prince?’’ 

Baekhyun was sure that his face was still scorching when the knight swum to him, ‘’Yes, I think it is very...pleasant.’’ He gave back a smirk of his own, splashing at the latter in hopes of wiping that almost smug expression off his face. 

It was a wrong move, and one that set off a feverish game of blindly chasing around, mostly started by Baekhyun, who would pounce on the man then run off, until Chanyeol had had enough and instead of just defending himself, he started swimming after Baekhyun, to give him a taste of his own medicine. 

The clearing the lake was located in was filled with Baekhyun’s laughter for hours, that was how much they played around. And it was not just him hopelessly trying to keep the man’s attention on him, no. This time, he managed to make laughter tumble out of the strict General’s mouth. 

Baekhyun was the first to retreat when his limbs grew tired of keeping his body above the water, so he walked back to the lakeside, all the while making sure to accentuate the sway of his hips while his back was turned to the knight. Chanyeol followed him shortly after, seemingly unaffected by his effort of accentuating his already visible curves, sticking out through the wet material of his beige pants. 

The knight swam towards him. The waterfront the younger was sitting on was high, but his feet still reached the water. He unconsciously stopped his swinging, holding his breath with every inch Chanyeol was taking towards him. Water droplets were running down from his long hair, right through his exposed chest, and the prince’s stomach butterflies came alive, harder than before. The scenery in front of him resembled something taken out of his dreams. 

Chanyeol was tall enough to reach him, even inside the lake, standing up, and if Baekhyun parted his legs, he could fit him perfectly between his thighs.

‘’-my Prince?’’ 

It took him out of his reverie. Having the one he loved but could not have so close to him was challenging for the young prince. 

‘’Yes?’’

‘’I asked if you wanted to go. You look cold.’’ 

Baekhyun was too quick to shake his head, but he did not want this moment to end. The knight almost turned around, ready to leave his side.

‘’No, wait!’’ The younger exclaimed, and he stopped, but that was all the prince had in mind. ‘’Stay...with me for a while?’’ He could not think straight around the General. It was not the first time, he concluded, but it was the first time to be so embarrassed about it. His face became pink once again.

Chanyeol hummed in agreement, resting next to his legs but facing the lake. ‘’Is there something bothering you?’’ 

‘’No.’’

A pause.

‘’Is there something you want, then?’’ His voice dropped to a teasing hint, but feigning ignorance. Baekhyun realized then he could not fool the knight so easily.

The boy decided to be sincere instead, ‘’Only if you want it too.’’ 

What he did not expect was for the man to turn back to him so swiftly. He was settled between his parted legs before the younger could register it, looking into his eyes, searching. Baekhyun held his gaze, with a wistful smile playing on his lips. It froze, however, when one large palm rose to cup his cheek. It was still wet, and cold, and the prince felt his whole body shudder. 

‘’Forgive me for what I am about to do, my Prince.’’ The General muttered, with a warm breath tickling above his awaiting lips. He was trembling in anticipation. Baekhyun could not summon any words, but his legs wrapped around the man’s torso, squeezing him into action.

Plump lips covered his nervously-parted ones, engulfing his upper one in a long, heavy kiss. Baekhyun remembered to move after what felt like an eternity, and he kissed back, returning the fervour Chanyeol was kissing him with, just as much, clinging to the man, yearning to be as close as possible to his loved one. The General continued to ravish his mouth in a way that was more unfamiliar to him than their previous kiss. It left him breathless, but at the same time wanting more. Baekhyun's legs were shaking, from all the water drying on them, from the man's movements too, from everything overwhelming him at once. He squeezed harder, trying to bring Chanyeol as close as possible. He wished for this moment to never end. 

The General was the first to retreat, leaving behind a pair of shining lips, covered in spit and full of whimpers. Baekhyun was still trying to chase after him, but he kept his firm hold on both of his cheeks, caressing his soft skin and holding the impatient boy back. 

"You look like you have never been properly kissed, Your Grace." The man marvelled at his flustered face, tracing soft lines along his jaw with his rough thumb, and Baekhyun was again redeemed to silence. He only reddened more. 

This new side of the knight was surprising him. Usually, he would be the one to do the teasing. He grunted out in embarrassment, finally setting himself free from the hold the man had on his face to steal a kiss again. Baekhyun knew he was getting ahead of himself. His excitement got the best of him, and he could not still his hips any more, but Chanyeol was fast to stop him once again. 

‘’Your father would have my head if someone were to find us like this.’’ The whisper tickled his face, their foreheads were resting against one another, and Baekhyun’s eyes searched for the man’s own pair, to sincerely stare into the black orbs, ‘’I would not let anyone touch you.’’

Chanyeol only chuckled, ‘’We should head back. It is late.’’ 

The prince accepted easily, in exchange for getting carried on the General’s back like how he used to, long ago.

The palace was silent, like it should have been, as it was late into the night when they returned. The young guards outside their chamber respected the General, for he had been the one to train them all. No one batted an eye at their sudden appearance. 

Baekhyun was young, and in love. His heart usually jumped ahead, not sparing a second thought to everything else around him. He only knew one thing: he was happy, and he was happy next to the one he desired. He had never considered, just for one second, that everything would go back to normal after their shared kiss.

But there he was, left confused again, after the General never initiated another kiss once they were inside the room, or when the man did not hold him through the night. He thought he had won, but his heart was foolish. The knight did not bother to give him an explanation for his sudden aloof behaviour, just an "It is late, my Prince, you should try to rest." 

Dejected was how the young boy felt. Although Chanyeol had never been clear about where they were standing, the man never led him on, never accepted his feelings either. It was all his foolish heart’s doing, when it was clear that for the General, a kiss was just that, one simple kiss. For Baekhyun, it had been so much more, when he had been waiting for years to receive one single touch from the knight. 

He was wounded, with every day passing with his lips feeling cold and abandoned, but the royal had to hide it all. He just went around, carrying all the longing inside his chest, while they separated every morning and only met at the dinner table, and later at night, when Baekhyun felt completely lonely in a shared bed with Chanyeol turning his back to him.

The General was pushing him away, and Baekhyun did not know what he did wrong. 

What he knew, after another week, was that he could not go on like this any longer. He could barely hold a proper conversation with the knight. The constant anguish inside his chest was clouding his judgment, and it got him to take harsh decisions in his everyday duties. On top of all, he could not convince his father to stop the correspondence between him and the North. The king believed his son and the General’s relation to have already burned out, and it was not hard to believe such a thing seeing Chanyeol as cold as ever. The North heir’s letters were getting more daring every time a new one arrived, but despite his father's insistence, Baekhyun never personally replied. He could barely stand reading them.

Baekhyun had to do something. He could not give up, not now when he had just had a taste of happiness, the happiness that he was sure no one else would be able to bring him.

On a late summer night, the General was just doing his usual night patrol when he felt a presence following him. The person had been hiding for minutes, but the loud stomp of heavy shoes gave them away. It couldn’t have been a thief they knew how to be silent. This person either had to be very skilled, or downright stupid to be attacking him. Intrigued by this perseverance, his feet sped up, distancing himself from the bright, open streets and into an alley hidden from the moonlight's glow. What Chanyeol did not expect, however, when his right hand was ready at the top of his sword's hilt, was to have the other throw himself at him openly. The knight's bewilderment only grew when he noticed just who it was, covered by large, black robes. 

"My Prince, I could have hurt you!" He exclaimed, letting out the breath he had been holding while waiting for the confrontation. 

The prince grinned, stepping back to blink his apparently clueless eyes at him, in what he hoped was an adorable manner.  

"What are you doing alone in the streets? Do you know how dangerous it is? What if someone saw you?" Chanyeol found it so easy to lose his temper around the young prince now, a newfound instinct urging him to protect the heir would not let him settle this so easily.

Baekhyun had the decency to appear guilty, although he was anything but. He had been planning this all day, and no reasoning from the General's part could change his mind. 

"But I am safe! You are here now, aren't you?" He truthfully muttered, keeping on the pout of a child who had just been scolded.  

Chanyeol huffed out a puff of air through his nose, tone dropping lower when he realized how unusual it was for him, "My Prince, why are you so careless?" 

The Prince's voice dropped to a more serious note, "It seems to be the only way I can get your attention, Sir." 

The older directed his attention to a faraway corner, made to do so by the pitch black eyes that were trying to break through him. "Why are you outside?" 

"I came to give you a break!" Baekhyun's voice was back to its merry pitch. It used to be annoying for the General, once. "I have gathered, from safe sources, that you enjoy drinking in your spare time…" He trailed off, searching the man's face for his reaction. When there was no change, he continued, "And I also found an open tavern on my way here…" The prince proposed, raising his eyebrows in an invitation, only to draw out a reaction. 

"I am on duty." 

"Hmmm, I thought you would say so. See, I know you so well!" Baekhyun giggled, and it was so easy to do so now, compared to the last days when he had to fake every single one of his laughters. "But, your duty is to protect the crown prince first, am I right?" 

The General nodded, already knowing where this was headed. 

"And...if I wanted to go there, say, if I ran away from you right now, you had to follow me and make sure I stay safe, right?" 

Chanyeol saw the challenge in his eyes, in the way his eyebrows rose, waiting for his last reaction before he took action.

"No

But before he could get the word out, the young prince had already turned around, bolting from his place with a squeak. He did not get far, the General turned him to face him again with a rough hold on his arm before he could escape the alley. With a groan, Chanyeol held him against the wall, studying the royal's face. He seemed delighted to be handled like this, clear laughter fell from his lips. 

"I knew you would agree." 

 

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Opposed to his initial bravery, the prince fell quiet once he was met with a place so unfamiliar to him. It was his first time to be stepping inside such a grotesque, raw place. The drunk people he'd seen before were still behaved in his presence, but here, where no one knew who he was, he was met with the true face of the Capital's nightlife. A group of drunk men were singing loudly around a table, a tale he had heard of as a kid , but this one was a more vulgar version of it. He couldn't help but to stare around him in amazement. 

His ears reddened involuntarily at the sight of the prostitutes around the tavern, each one in a different state of undress, some doing their business in front of everyone's eyes without a drop of shame. 

Chanyeol had chosen a more secluded area to sit at. The prince's wide eyes came back to study his reaction, but, to his surprise, he did not find one. The General must have been used to spending his nights like this, Baekhyun concluded with a sour taste in his mouth. 

One of the knight's hands rose to his face, and Baekhyun kept waiting with a puzzled expression for what it could mean, until it slowly dragged his hood back until it completely covered the top of his head, and with it, his peripheral vision. Some curious eyes had turned to the mysterious person that could accompany the General the first time they arrived, but they were quickly driven away by a single scowl of the man's. Despite the strange environment, Baekhyun felt safe. 

Chanyeol ordered for him, because the younger had never seen a simple menu put in front of him like this, so he was left a little confused. They got their drinks, which they shared in silence. Baekhyun found the sour wine strange at first, not at all like the rich taste he'd had inside the palace, but he got used to it quickly. And with it, his tongue became more loose too. 

"The throne room has been empty without you, Sir…" he casually commented, resting his chin in his palm to freely stare at the General. 

"I was not of much help any way." 

Baekhyun stubbornly shook his head. The knight did not have to do anything, just being by his side was enough to make the hours pass by faster. But lately, Chanyeol had been finding countless excuses just to stay away from him…

The younger sipped on his jug of wine slowly, pensively watching Chanyeol chug his down in one go. 

"My father has been a nuisance lately, you know," Baekhyun added conversationally, puffing his cheeks in annoyance. The General's gaze focused on him, softening. 

"And the North's heir too…" The royal chuckled bitterly, "they really think I will marry that man."

He was pouring his frustrations out without thinking, having nothing better to do since he was the only one to attempt a conversation. Baekhyun never expected to get an answer. "Why are you so against it, if you do not mind me asking? Arranged marriages are very common between royals. I think you are the only person I know who is so opposed to it." 

The prince's eyes grew incredulously big, doubled in size at the easiness the question was addressed to him with. He took his time to give his answer, looking Chanyeol right in the eye, searching for any sign of joking. There were none. 

"Because I only want you, Sir." How was it so hard to understand? It was not uncommon for royals to easily give their hearts away, just for the sake of power or a secure future, but for Baekhyun, love was everything. His heart had decided long ago on whom it really wanted. 

He mirthlessly laughed, wetting his lips with another taste of the wine to hide his sour expression. "But it seems like you do not." 

Chanyeol never confirmed nor denied it . His eyes kept avoiding Baekhyun's until their third round of drinks was brought to the table. Only after half of those drinks were gone did he open his mouth again. The prince was sure that the topic would never be addressed again. 

"I find myself...caring for you more and more, every day." A raspy voice made its way to Baekhyun's ears, distinctive from all the other shouts around the room. He caught the words immediately, because they were what he had been dying to hear for so long. The boy's palms, once flat against the table, were trembling in anticipation. 

"These emotions, I do not know how to react to them. They are strange for me, my Prince. I have been trained to fight, not to love a king." The General confessed with his head bowed, as if in shame, "I should not be having this kind of feelings towards you, the child I swore my life to." 

Baekhyun could see his inner turmoil. The knight was the son of a prostitute. Perhaps, if his mother had been around during his childhood to teach him gentleness, Chanyeol would not be blaming himself so much now. For the royal, it was easy to wear his heart on his sleeve, but they had been raised in different homes. 

With a hopeful little smile on his lips, the prince reached his hand across the table to cover the bigger one that looked, at this moment, cold, and lonely. ‘’Children grow up, and hearts change, Sir…’’ An unexpected fondness washed over him, and the word escaped without thinking, ‘’Chanyeol-’’ his name felt strange on the tip of his tongue, but it was not unwelcome, said man turned his palm up, to squeeze Baekhyun’s delicate one in his. The action was so unlike his hard exterior, the man held his hand like it was the most fragile flower in the whole kingdom, caressing the fine lines inside his palm with a certain timidity that should not surface in a man so big. ‘’Yours could change too, if only you would allow it.’’

‘’I am afraid it had already changed, my Prince.’

The corners of Baekhyun’s eyes crinkled with the radiant smile that blossomed on his face, and Chanyeol let himself blindly stare for the first time. For him, the little prince resembled small pieces of brightness, all coming together in an embodiment of pure joy, making the Light Prince shine brighter than all the stars in the universe. His own star, his little bundle of joy, ready to selflessly discover the secrets of Chanyeol’s cold heart. A tight-lipped smile stretched on the General’s lips too at the sight in front of him.

They decided to leave after another round of drinks when Baekhyun’s face got too heated and his eyes a little droopy. Until then, the prince continued to talk, blabbered on about everything that came to his mind. The General dutifully listened to every word the royal had to say, with little comments thrown in between, now and then. Baekhyun reminded him of his childhood, of the little pranks the younger used to pull on him with a mischievous laugh following. Then, he confessed about all the feelings that had passed him during the day of the knight’s accolade. He let it all out, proud of himself when he finally got the chance to talk about his feelings. Maybe Chanyeol would understand him better this way, maybe he would understand his determination to make the man his. 

Inside their bedroom, Chanyeol held him through the night for the first time. Baekhyun had been the one to initiate their approach , blindly searching for the warmth beside him until his back hit the one turned to him . Only after what felt like hours did the knight turn around, and while the younger was holding his breath, one heavy arm came to rest around his middle. It was the story of how their timid love began to bloom. 

Chanyeol kissed him again two nights after, when the royal was busy at his study with another document his father had entrusted him with. Countless sighs had left the younger’s mouth before the knight finally entered his chamber and came straight to his desk to greet the sleepy boy. 

The prince was quick to throw complaint after complaint out of his mouth, and the General stood there and watched, chuckling at the way Baekhyun’s rosy lips rounded with every pout of his. 

‘’Do I have something on my face, Sir?’’ The prince stopped to question, almost offended. 

Chanyeol huffed in amusement again, letting his sword and helmet fall to the ground before he took a seat next to the smaller. ‘’You are beautiful.’’ He bluntly commented, which left Baekhyun stunned.

It was like a dream, a beautiful dream for the prince. His face inched closer, pout still present at being left speechless. It was then that the General gently cupped his cheek. Baekhyun instantly leaned into the touch, forgetting all about the previous documents. His eyes shut close, and showing no mercy for his already weak heart, the knight left him waiting, completely at his mercy. A pair of gentle lips landed on the top of his nose, ghosting above the rapidly reddening skin, and they lingered there, before creating a path unknown to Baekhyun. His cheek was touched by a warm breath after, and his other one followed. The younger mewled low in his throat, barely keeping his fluttering eyelashes closed. 

Then when he was expecting lips, words tickled his trembling ones instead, ‘’Would you allow me, my Prince?’’ Baekhyun had no other answer to give, so he took the last step for their lips to seal together. His chest felt like it was about to burst open from the first brush of plump lips. The younger wanted to sob, completely overwhelmed by the way Chanyeol was handling him. 

It was not their last kiss. After that, they could barely part from each other. Baekhyun was like an open book, clinging to the man with every occasion he got, now that he had been allowed to. And, despite the General’s aloof appearance, the knight never rejected his affection. It all began with the crown prince following a clueless General to the stables until he got him alone. His plan was simple, he just needed a kiss to help him get through the long, long, day. So that was what he did. He ran to the man with a surprise yelp, tiptoeing to steal a short, quick peck. It left Chanyeol stunned he had never been attacked in this way and the younger wanted to scurry away before he even got the chance to react. A firm hold kept Baekhyun in place though, and the little troublemaker just blinked his innocent eyes at him, caught red-handed. 

‘’My Prince, what does this mean?’’ He was clearly confused by the sudden action.

‘’I missed you.’’ Baekhyun confessed, fumbling with the robe that got tangled around his body in his rush.  

He only got a scolding for being so careless at first, but slowly, the General warmed up to Baekhyun’s little surprises. The crown prince was stealing kisses on every opportunity that arose between meetings, when he sneaked out in the short break he had between having to sit down again; between his usual court hearings; during his classes, when he would tell the masters that he just needed a quick breath of air. They went around, sneaking behind the old walls of the palace, indulging in quick, innocent kisses and affectionate touches. 

Gradually, the crown prince and the General became inseparable. 

Meeting in their own room though, was Baekhyun’s favourite part of the day, when he and Chanyeol just took the time to recount all that happened through the day during the time they were not together. 

‘’Would you help me wash my back, Sir?’’ Baekhyun asked, with only his nose and eyes peeking up from under the water. His maids had understood long ago that their assistance would not be needed any more for the prince’s daily baths. It was now an intimate moment between the royal and his husband. 

A bold move coming from the prince’s part, since touches like these were forbidden out of wedlock. Baekhyun could not get the intimacy he was craving for, however. The General made sure to never inappropriately touch him. He would not even look at his bare form for more than necessary when he was taken by surprise. He was behaving like a husband-to-be, in all the proper ways. It would be considered a shame, if the king were to find out about the countless kisses they had shared before their marriage. 

But Baekhyun, brazen as he was, could not care less. His attraction towards the General never ceased to exist. If only, it got bigger with every passing day that the man kept cupping his cheeks and caressing his hands. 

The knight divided his attention from the sword he was currently cleaning to curiously blink at the younger, ‘’Are you not done yet?’’

‘’No, my back keeps hurting. Is this how old age feels?’’ Baekhyun mumbled, with a distinctive pout in his tone. Water splashed around when he rose a little to fix his posture. 

‘’You wouldn’t know, my Prince.’’ Chanyeol joked with a straight face, abandoning his sword to come assist the prince. His night blouse was discarded somewhere next to the tub, after which the man picked up the cloth abandoned by the younger. ‘’Stand up a little.’’ 

Baekhyun did, straightening his back to show the best posture to the knight. He waited in anticipation for the moment the cloth would touch his back, but before it could, moist lips did, after seconds of hesitation. Chanyeol placed a chaste kiss between his shoulder blades. The younger expected much more, but it was gone as soon as it came. Still, just from it, a shiver ran through his whole body. Baekhyun bent over to give better access to the knight and the latter began with tender movements that were deepening the younger’s state of floating. Time ceased to exist it was only him and his husband, while Baekhyun hummed lightly to fill the otherwise comfortable silence between them. 

‘’You still have the scar from when you fell from the cherry tree,’’ Chanyeol’s pointer finger briefly rested on that spot, pointing at the pinkish skin that stood out. 

The prince had fallen from one of the trees in the garden at 8 years old, when he went hiding after his father scolded him for playing in his study instead of learning. Baekhyun remembered how he had felt so wronged that he felt the need to do something to disrespect his father. He climbed one of the trees like he had seen the servant’s children do, but the only one that came out hurt in the end had been him. The General, back then only his personal guard, had found him bent over in pain on the ground after the branch he had been resting on gave out, and he landed with his back on the fallen twigs, some had breached his skin so deep that he still carried scars to remind him of the accident. A shame, for such imperfections on his otherwise spotless, caramel skin. 

Baekhyun chuckled, feeling the need to hide his back. He almost shrank back into the water. ‘’Yes, I could not get rid of it with any oil.’’ 

A warm puff of air hit his back, and goosebumps erupted all over it. Chanyeol chuckled airily. Stricken with the sudden urge to look at the man, the prince turned around without any notice. Water splashed around, wetting the knight’s tunic, but he paid no mind to it because he was too occupied with curiously waiting for Baekhyun to speak. 

The younger just grinned, leaning forward with his lips puckered, and Chanyeol understood, because he offered a short peck in a second. It could not satisfy the royal completely, he wanted more. With his wet arms rising from the water, he circled the man’s neck to keep him close, so close he could count all the moles sitting on his skin.

‘’The water is getting ’’ 

Baekhyun did not let him finish. He cut his words off with a kiss that lasted longer than his earlier peck. Kissing the General now felt so natural. They kissed mindlessly, lost in each other, until Chanyeol’s hand came to rest on his face. With a small whine, the younger directed the man’s palm lower with his own, until it reached the middle of his chest, sliding over the prominent curve of his bust. 

The bigger hand stilled, and Chanyeol retreated, ‘’No, my Prince.’’ 

It did not sit well for the younger, who was already squirming in excitement under the water. ‘’Why not?’’ 

Parting seemed to pain the man, but he put some distance between their bodies, ‘’I cannot disrespect you like this.’’ 

Oh, how Baekhyun wished to be disrespected in many other ways. 

 

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The end of July was approaching, and Baekhyun found this time of the year especially pleasant, because the time to harvest the cherry trees in the royal gardens had come. He enjoyed his time under the shade, away from the servants running around the vast plantation, under a pine tree. The royal would sneak around and steal some cherries, before he came back to rest, away from everyone’s eyes. It was exciting for him, different from the boring days he had to spend confined inside the palace. The crown prince had insisted for a day off today, and this time, the General was accompanying him, running between the training grounds and Baekhyun’s hiding spot in between his breaks. 

‘’Ah, it is so nice. I want to stay like this forever!’’ The prince exclaimed, splayed on his belly, blinking up excitedly at the knight who was resting against the tree trunk. Another cherry came in front of his lips, and he opened his mouth to take it he had convinced the General to feed him.

‘’My Prince, you were complaining about your boredom minutes ago.’’ The man commented with a tiny smirk. 

Baekhyun huffed at his remark, sending a pointed look his way. The royal climbed up on his hands until he met Chanyeol’s feet to rest on, ‘’That was before you came, it was boring without you.’’ He explained with a pout, picking up another cherry to give to the General this time. 

Chanyeol hummed in approval, still watching him with amused eyes. It made Baekhyun pinch his knee, playful pout deepening, ‘’The other knights get to spend more time with you than I do. I am jealous.’’

A full laugh spilled from the General’s lips at this. With gentle hands, he raised the prince enough to be on the same level. ‘’But you are the one I come back to at night.’’ 

Baekhyun’s face scrunched in disapproval, ‘’I sound like your dirty little secret, Sir.’’ 

‘’From what you have listed, I think only ‘little’ applies.’’ 

The younger gasped, throwing a playful fist on the knight’s chest, ‘’I am not!’’

The General caught his small fist, and he unclenched the fingers one by one with care to bend down and kiss all of his knuckles after. Through it all, Chanyeol only gazed into his eyes with an unexpected sincerity. It left the royal’s heart squeezing.

‘’I think I have to go, my Prince.’’ The man looked towards the palace’s direction, where the clanking of swords could be heard. 

Baekhyun sighed. ‘’Kiss me first.’’ He demanded, bumping his forehead against the man’s chest like a kitten. ‘’But kiss me a lot.’’ 

Chanyeol did. He kissed him, again, and again.

 

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His chamber’s door opened unexpectedly when Baekhyun had lost the notion of time, too caught up in his current activity, and he never expected to be caught like this. The position his husband found him in was far from the usual one. The prince was on his bed, on all fours, with his head buried in between the sheets and his bottom sticking out. He had been stretching his middle for one hour now, until he got the perfect angle, with his back arching the way he wanted. Chanyeol found him presenting on the bed, with tiny, intentional writhing movements and soft moans escaping his lips. 

The General did not know how to react. He wanted to spin around and leave again, but the younger turned his head around, eyes big like a deer caught in the headlights. ‘’S-sir…’’ the boy stuttered, losing the arch of his back and plopping down on the bed, face hidden in embarrassment. 

‘’My Prince, what is this?’’ The man managed to get out and control his shaky voice. He found Baekhyun only in his undergarments.

The prince thought of a quick lie, but after deciding that nothing else could explain his position, he decided to be honest, ‘’I was...practising for our wedding night…’’ 

Chanyeol felt his self-control thinning, slowly, as he approached the prince’s bed, ‘’You…’’ 

Seeing as the man was not far from being as embarrassed as he had been, Baekhyun gained a little of his bravery back, enough to sit on his knees again and timidly demonstrate his earlier position for the General, ‘’Do you like it, Sir?’’ He asked with a teasing smirk, bending forward to rest on his hands, ‘’I could learn more, if you’d like…’’ 

Chanyeol swallowed, not quite knowing what to do with his hands, or his eyes, which kept trailing from the wall next to the bed, back on the boy’s form. ‘’My Prince, what would the king say, if he knew what you were doing for a man so much older than you?’’ 

The royal’s smirk grew, while he crawled forward to the edge of the bed, ‘’Why should anyone trouble my father with this? The king does not have to know.’’ Sitting up, the younger’s hands reached out to take the General’s hand. He held it tightly, with small caresses, while the latter could not do anything but stare at the little vixen playing with his sanity. 

‘’Come sit next to me. I promise I’ll behave.’’ Baekhyun joked, losing the teasing glint in his eyes when his head fell back in a clear laugh. 

With unsure movements, Chanyeol did. He still could not trust his words fully, not when earlier the younger had been sticking his bottom out for him to see. 

The Prince turned to face the man with a mirthful expression on. He did not give Chanyeol any time to breathe, because the second he sat down, Baekhyun attacked his face with a plenitude of kisses. He kept giggling, pecking the man’s tall nose, giggled again, then grazed his lips against the much plumper lips. The room was filled with playful giggles, as his lips turned dry from all the mapping he had done on the man’s face. At that moment, if he had not been so busy with keeping his eyes shut tight, wrinkled with joy, he could have seen the adoration swimming in the General’s eyes. The man had never looked at someone with so much tenderness and devotion as he did right there, on the mischievous prince’s bed.

They fell asleep on the crown prince’s bed that night, peacefully, perfectly tangled around each other. 

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‘’Your Highness! General Park!’’ Someone was desperately knocking on his door in Baekhyun’s dream. He remembered the loud sound, and not being able to open his eyes and tell the person at his door to keep silent. The voice grew louder and it left the royal very annoyed. He was trying to make his feet move when the bed dipped, and two voices filled the room, one alarmed, and the other one, one he knew well. 

Baekhyun’s eyes shot open, and he easily managed to catch their conversation. It was not a dream. Someone had been desperately knocking on his chamber’s door, but they did not dare enter until Chanyeol went to open it. It had not been long since they fell asleep. The night gave no sign of leaving any sooner. 

‘’A barbaric tribe, they broke in through the west gate of the city and set fire to the nearest markets!’’

The prince’s languid brain sobered up at the words. The General was talking to one of his subordinates, already picking his armour previously left on his bed. ‘’We will be joining you soon.’’ Chanyeol said, before the younger had time to go and inspect the situation himself. They were alone when he crossed the room to go to his husband with a worried expression.

‘’Sir…?’’ He was afraid, trembling even. Baekhyun could hear the distinctive screams and shouts from outside the Palace now, although they were far away. In all his years of life, he did not remember any inside attack happening, the only battles he had learned about were held outside, on the battleground fields. 

‘’My Prince, we are summoned to the throne room.’’ Was all Chanyeol said, too occupied with putting on his armour. The prince stood there, silent, trying to process everything, every scenario that could come true in the next hours. Barbaric tribes were known to be unmerciful. They only attacked flourishing cities, to steal as much as they could from the ones they deemed rich. 

The General turned around, and his eyes softened upon the sight in front of him. With a gentle touch, he raised Baekhyun’s hand to his lips, to leave a lingering kiss on the back of his palm. ‘’There is nothing to worry about, Your Grace. No one is going to hurt you.’’

Baekhyun had not thought of his own safety even once. He was worried about anything else, but him. 

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The throne room was filled with servants, maids with their crying babies in their arms. Knights were ready in their armour, waiting for a command from their King and their General. His father was standing on the throne, with his mother by his side, still in her nightgown, while Junmyeon was trying to smother his scared older sister with warm hugs. 

Baekhyun did not leave the General’s side, even when he retreated to stand with his knights. The prince did not miss the quick outraged expression that passed the king’s face.

The tribe had attacked the gate that was the least patrolled during the change of guards at midnight, and the fire they set had rapidly spread to the north, in the Palace’s direction. The attackers were roaming around town, spreading havoc in their wake. 

The king was quick to give his command —t he General had to take his army and suppress the attack, right at that moment. That was all it took for Chanyeol to bow, and turn to give his commands. A part of the archers were heading to the battlements, with the General first in command.

Panic settled inside Baekhyun’s brain. Everything was moving too fast. While he remained stoned, he was left behind. The screams felt even closer now. He could not think straight any more, every fibre of his being wanted to remain close to his husband, his husband who could be hurt at any time. 

‘’No!’’ He shouted, following after his Chanyeol, ‘’no, father, I want to fight too!’’

Everyone halted. The General, as well as the knights, turned to look at the trembling prince. 

‘’There is no time for your little whims, son. Come here!’’ The king thundered, making everyone divert their eyes from his son who was bringing shame to his family. 

But Baekhyun was determined to revolt, his arms latching onto the rough metal of the General’s armour in a frenzied attempt to convince him, or anyone that was willing to listen, ‘’Are we going to let them fight alone? Is a king not supposed to fight his own battles, father?’’ The royal shouted back, with fear making his voice tremble.

No one could suppress the gasps that followed at such disrespect shown in front of everyone, servants and knights alike.

‘’Kid, I am warning you, step aside and let General Park go.’’ His father stated slowly, looking cross.

‘’No, I will not! I will go ’’

‘’Seize him!’’ The king jumped from his throne, commanding with a wave of his hand.

Baekhyun did not have time to register, when the two closest knights to him tore him from the General's side and immobilized his arms. Pain shot through his body when he twisted, trying to fight them off, ‘’Let me go! You will pay for this!’’ 

‘’Be gentle with him.’’  The prince recognized this voice. It commanded from beside him. The General looked torn, but murderous.

The royal was dragged to his chamber by the men who softened their grip on his arms, but he still cried as loud as he could. Baekhyun threatened them, shouted his despair, kicked their legs, but they were in vain. From his room, where he had been locked in, he could hear the commands Chanyeol’s voice. They were on top of the fortress. ‘’Draw! Loose!’’ 

The prince stepped out on his balcony, from where he could watch the night sky, now darkened with the countless arrows flying above him. The city was being swallowed by flames. From afar, he could see his people, running around, screaming, dying, common men trying to fight in vain, women running to protect their children. The young royal felt powerless. He could not do anything but watch, cry, and pray for everyone. He hated his father, hated his whole family of cowards. The king had to be safe, so he could rule over his people, but who would he be ruling over, dead bodies?

He kept watching in despair how the infantry stepped outside. And from there, hell broke loose for Baekhyun. He could not make out any silhouettes, they all merged together, swords clashing in the night, from which he could not recognize which one was theirs and which one was the enemies’. He would never forget the screams, or the minutes that stretched on without the General’s voice roaring commands, when he felt like his heart had stopped.

Splayed out on the balcony ground, that was how Baekhyun came to. He had cried so much that it left him drained and unconscious. There was light outside. Light, and dead silence. Rising up, he was greeted with the capital’s sight. It looked nothing like the picturesque view he would get every morning. Grey smoke was still rising from the houses, but the fire had been put out.

Chanyeol. No one had come to wake him or to give him any news of the battle. With one last glance, Baekhyun observed that even the corpses had been cleared from the streets. His heart rose in his throat again, and the painful tears came back on his cheeks while he ran to the door to knock on it as loudly as he could.

‘’Let me out! Open this damn-’’ A kick to the old wood, which only caused him pain, ‘’THIS DAMN DOOR, LET ME OUT!’’

He spent minutes pounding, without a response, until the door finally swung open. It was one of the youngest guards, but Baekhyun paid no attention to him. With his pounding head, he ran in the direction of the healer’s rooms. No one had tried to stop him, although he passed by numerous servants. Baekhyun barged into the room out of breath, almost collapsing, had it not been for the door supporting him.

The room was filled with wounded soldiers, each occupying a bed in the nursing room, while the healers ran around from bed to bed. Everyone turned to the door's direction when he arrived, but Baekhyun did not have eyes for anyone but the General, who was sitting on a chair in a corner, getting his right arm patched up. 

Baekhyun rushed to him, worry dissipating now that he knew his husband was safe. 

‘’Sir!’’ He exclaimed, falling to his knees to embrace his legs they seemed the least hurt. With a lift of his hand, Chanyeol dismissed the lady tending to his wounds. Baekhyun kept on hugging tightly, still trembling from the shock he'd been through.

"Your Grace, not here. People are watching." The General tried to reason, lightly tugging on his sleeves to get the stubborn child off his leg.

Baekhyun turned around to glance at the so-called people and indeed, they were watching. The prince barged in on them in a state of undress, in a room where no one else beside the healers had access to. A single glare from the royal made them bow their heads. "Let them watch, then."

He rose, only to inspect the knight's injuries. Apart from one wound with blood seeping even through the bandages, the man only presented little scratches. 

"No one told me anything, is everything alright? What happened?" His questions started flowing, while the boy took the General's face inside his palms to make him look straight at him. 

"Not here…" The man whispered, glancing back into his dark orbs with the same softness from last night before they were taken out of their beautiful dream. 

Baekhyun understood. Nodding shortly, he straightened himself to speak to the nurses this time. "I want him moved into my chamber. One of you would exclusively take care of him." 

"My Prince, there is no

"Now." The prince voiced out again. His authority was thinning in front of his servants due to his father humiliating him like that in front of everyone, but the healers still listened to his order. 

 

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They were left alone at night, after Baekhyun went to have a talk with his father, where he found out all the details and loss of the previous night’s battle, and where he threatened the king to give up the crown, for real this time, still hurt from the way he had been handled. When the younger came back, the doctor he had chosen for the General was also done changing the man's bandages again. Standing in front of the door when silence fell upon them, Baekhyun did not know how to begin. He fidgeted his way to the man’s bed, with a light grimace from holding his tears in.

Chanyeol was the first to rise on the bed, opening an arm to welcome the younger by his side. ‘’Did my men hurt you?’’

The prince seated himself carefully, barely touching his bare chest, where his biggest scar was located. ‘’No, but you have been hurt.’’

The General chuckled, pinching his button nose, ‘’I have been through worse. It’s nothing.’’

‘’I was so worried! They locked me inside. I was so afraid that... I’ll never see you again…’’ The younger confessed, barely keeping himself from elbowing Chanyeol for taking this so lightly.

Chanyeol’s face hardened in an instant, arm protectively pulling the boy closer, but he continued in the same serene tone, ‘’I told you there was nothing to worry about, my Prince.’’ Baekhyun snuggled against his side, still careful, but happy now that he had been given permission. 

‘’The nurse said that you should sleep,’’ The younger chirped, nose burrowed in the man’s ribs. His lips puckered to touch the skin there, lingering, with a sweet kiss. He purred at the fingers tangled in his hair. 

‘’No goodnight kiss?’’ The General teased, tugging lightly on his hair in the places Baekhyun whined louder for. 

‘’If you ask so nicely.’’ 

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The General slept until lunchtime the next day, only rising at Baekhyun’s insistence to taste some food. The boy dutifully fed him, refusing every offer from the maids to do so. Compared to the night before, now he looked lifeless, more tired than he had been after he fought all night. The prince knew something was not right when after an accidental touch, he realized that the man was burning up. 

That was the only time he had left his side. Baekhyun ran out of his room straight to the healer’s chambers to summon him immediately. He only accepted the oldest, wisest one. 

When he arrived at his chamber, the General was even worse than when he had left him. The fever had spread too fast, and Baekhyun was on the verge of tears again. The younger begged on his knees for the healer to do his best in treating his husband, but it took hours before they found out what was really the problem.

The wound on Chanyeol’s chest resulted from a blade’s strike blade that had been laced with poison. The nurses that tended to his wound had never thought that it could ever occur, so they had done nothing more than clean the cut and bandage it. "It might have been too late." The healer had tried to prepare Baekhyun before he even left the room to find a cure for it, but the younger had none of it. On his knees, with tears and snot mixing on his face, he kept begging, repeating, ‘’I’ll give you anything. Just do it, cure him, I’ll give you anything!’’ 

The words reached everyone at the speed of light. In their eyes, the General was already dead, but not to Baekhyun. The younger climbed back on the bed, where Chanyeol was sleeping again, overtaken by the high fever, and he placed the man’s head on his lap to cradle his fingers through his hair. How could he die, if not long ago they were on the same bed, sharing giggles and kisses? How could he die before Baekhyun even had the courage to tell him how much he loved him?

No, his husband would open his eyes soon, and he would tell him how silly he had been for crying until he ran out of tears.

The king stepped inside his room when no one else had dared enter. It had been ages since his father had visited his chamber, but now, he kneeled in front of the bed with a solemnity that scared Baekhyun.

‘’F-father, you have to make them find a cure, you have to…’’ Baekhyun muttered, throat aching from all the wailing. His father nodded, seeming too ashamed to even look into his son’s eyes.

‘’I already did, Baekhyun. They are mixing the herbs now.’’

It was Baekhyun’s time to nod. He did it silently while staring at the General’s closed eyes. He kept twitching, face twisting in pain, and every time it happened, Baekhyun smoothened another finger over his cheek. Without intending to, the young prince broke out into a sob again, which made his father curiously, but silently wonder.

‘’I love him, father…’’ Baekhyun began, letting his tears fall free again. ‘’I love him so much. I want to marry him, he is the only one I will ever want. You don’t know how much I have been waiting for him! I’ve been loving him since I was a child, father! How could I ever-’’ His words got swallowed by a big hiccup, ‘’How could he no, this can’t be. I love him…’’ 

A warm hand settled above his, and the young prince raised his eyes, full of unshed tears. His father nodded, remorseful, ‘’I know son. I am sorry, for causing you pain.’’ This closure came too late. Baekhyun could not even enjoy his victory, because he was faced with something worse than not being able to marry Chanyeol losing him.

The prince remained glued to the General, still holding him close. When they were alone in the room, it felt like time stopped. It was agonizing, when Baekhyun could not do much but hold his husband through all the spasms running through the man’s body.

The healer barged inside his room. It was night-time, but he had not even moved. They had mixed a cure, but no one was sure that it would work. Just like before, the old man told Baekhyun that it might be too late.

‘’I do not care. If he dies, I will hold all of you responsible for it.’’ Baekhyun rasped, slowly, but firmly, glancing into the man’s eyes to let him now he was not joking. 

‘’I understand, Your Grace.’’ The man bowed, ‘’Keep his mouth open.’’ 

Baekhyun did. They poured the liquid onto Chanyeol’s wound too, after they made him swallow it, not knowing how far the poison had spread already. The prince could not let go of his worries. No one knew if it would work, and the General showed no signs of recovery. 

It lasted for three days, days that the young prince barely left the General’s side. He ate next to him, slept next to him, cleaned the man and spent his awake hours softly talking to Chanyeol’s unmoving body. By the second day, his fever had gone down, and it gave Baekhyun hope. His whimpers of pain stopped too. Now he was still, peacefully laying down as if he had truly died. Baekhyun spent hours with his head above the man’s chest, listening to the steady rhythm of his heart. The General was with him. He was not going anywhere. 

His parents thought he had gone mad. Everyone had tried to visit, but Baekhyun would snarl at anyone that was not the healer or the maid bringing his food. On the third day since Chanyeol had closed his eyes, the prince left the warm side of his husband to go further than he had dared the days before, and took a walk around the room. His legs were hurting from the lack of use he could barely walk. In the end, he gave up, just picking a jug of water and a clean cloth from his bed to wipe the knight’s forehead again.

The birds were high in the sky, he remembered it clearly, because he had been too busy humming their chirp and gently dabbing on the man’s forehead but looking through him, to notice the bleary and confused eyes blinking up at him. In his head, he was dreaming, conjuring a scenario where Chanyeol was safe and sound. He had come up with countless of those. That was why, when the body on the bed twitched, his scare was so bad that he ended up shrieking. 

Chanyeol tried to speak, but it ended up as a whine dying in his aching throat. The prince was in tears.

‘’S-sir? You are awake?’’ 

Chanyeol nodded, extremely confused. Stubbornly pushing himself, he rasped out, ‘’My Prince, your eyes are puffy. Have you been crying?’’

Yes, but now the tears in his eyes were ones of happiness. Baekhyun stole the man’s hand, and he clasped it tight between both of his, kissing every patch of skin his lips landed on. ‘’You are awake! Hell, I was so, so worried, I…’’ He whispered, holding the hand close against his chest. Baekhyun climbed back to the side of the bed, encouraged by the man squeezing his hand. 

‘’What happened? I am afraid I don’t understand…’’ 

The prince remained hidden into his side, shedding the last set of tears on his still burning skin, ‘’You were unconscious for 4 days, I thought…’’ He could not continue. He just pushed his forehead further into Chanyeol’s ribs, hoping to become one and never be separated again.

‘’But, that can’t be. I clearly remember when we went to sleep last night, my Prince.’’ 

Baekhyun shook his head, then he proceeded to explain everything to him, from the last meal he had before he collapsed, to the discovery of the healer. How much he had been waiting, all the songs he sang for him, his father's approval, the prince let them all out, with the man attentively listening while caressing his fragile arm. 

‘’And you took care of me all of this time?’’ Chanyeol asked, to make sure again that what he had been hearing was right. The smaller nodded. ‘’Your Grace, you should not ’’

Baekhyun cut him off. He rose on his elbows to look up at him. The knight looked exhausted, worn out even, his previous caramel tan had turned into a pale white, and his long curls were tangled, because Baekhyun was too afraid to hurt him with the brush. Still, he was the most beautiful person Baekhyun had ever seen, and he was alive, with his eyes open, looking at him.

‘’You don’t know how scared I was. I thought it would never end, Sir…’’ The younger confessed, glancing into the General’s eyes like they were the only thing he needed, ‘’I love you. I love you with all of my heart.’’

The corners of Chanyeol’s eyes melted, turning down in a heartfelt expression, with his eyes shining brightly, ‘’You silly child, why are you crying again? Come here, I ’’

Someone knocked on his door right at that moment. It was the healer, announcing his arrival. Baekhyun wanted to curse him to hell and back, but he only gave out one order, ‘’Come in!’’

The old man found them with their bodies tangled around each other, and his eyes grew big. First, at the intimacy he interrupted, then at the fact that the General had woken up. Everyone that had opened his doors the past days found him the same way, with the knight’s body close to his. The young prince felt no need to hide any more.

‘’Your Grace, forgive me. I came to examine the General’s state but if I knew ’’ The healer kept bowing, and Baekhyun finally tore himself from Chanyeol’s warm arms. 

‘’Then examine him.’’ He still had not forgiven every person that carelessly let his husband reach his previous state. 

‘’I am afraid I have to ask Your Majesty to leave the room.’’ 

Baekhyun looked scandalized. He could not leave Chanyeol alone again, in fear of finding his eyes closed again. The prince stubbornly shook his head, remaining stoned next to the knight’s bed. 

‘’Your Grace, I have to do a full examination. It might be inappropriate for your eyes.’’

The prince sent an icy glare to the healer. He was too afraid to leave again. Turning back to Chanyeol to grab his hand again, he was spoken to by the General this time, ‘’It’s alright, my Prince, I am not going anywhere.’’ He felt betrayed by Chanyeol too, at that moment, but the man reached out for his face to pull him closer, leaving a sweet kiss on his lips that made the other person present divert his eyes. 

Baekhyun waited outside the room, running back and forth before the door, while the guards made way to his sudden turns and worried words. They had never seen their prince like this, so serious, devoid of his characteristic light and cheery smile. Everyone has understood, in the course of the past days, just how much Baekhyun loved the General.

He was summoned back into the room half an hour later to be told about the knight's condition too, who, after battling with the poison, was left with a black scar on his chest and a weak immune system that left him unable to fight for the many days to come.

The news did not settle well on Chanyeol, who lived in the training grounds and took his joy from sparring with his knights who were like his own children. The prince understood him, for he knew how much the General cherished his title, but he was also determined to make him fully recover. 

During the next days, after Chanyeol’s insistence that he had stayed in bed enough to last him a lifetime, the prince returned to his duties, this time, with the General by his side, who silently accompanied him everywhere. No one batted an eye at the couple anymore. They were Baekhyun and Chanyeol, the future rulers, and the crown prince could not be happier.  

Chanyeol had been looking too grim for his liking, so the little prince had to soon return to his playful self, finding small activities that could cheer the General up. It worked. Baekhyun kept him engaged in his blabbering, on their morning walks around the gardens or on their nightly escapes to the lake. The royal had made a habit out of swimming at night, to relax after dealing with the palace’s issues all day. It had been exhausting to go back to it after days spent in his room. 

They were in the royal garden now, on Baekhyun’s side of it, feeding on late strawberries and observing the servants busying themselves with garden work. 

‘’I wish I were taller…’’ Baekhyun mumbled, with his eyes trailing on one of the maids trimming roses, and her long, graceful body. 

The knight followed his line of vision, chuckling lightly when he found the subject of Baekhyun’s observations. ‘’You are beautiful like this, my Prince.’’ 

Displeased with how he had made Chanyeol admire the girl’s body, he turned to him with a pout, ‘’Yes, but I could have been even more beautiful.’’ 

The knight shook his head, with a teasing grin on his lips, ‘’Longer legs would not change your face though.’’

It made the royal gasp. His forehead scrunched, scrutinizing the General with a long stare, ‘’Are you calling me ugly?’’ Chanyeol huffed, grumbling with a deep laugh, ‘’No, I am just saying that you are already the most beautiful flower in the whole garden, with or without longer legs.’’ 

Baekhyun’s face reddened in an instant, and he retorted by mumbling, ‘’You are just trying to save yourself now, Sir…’’ 

The knight laughed again, and his hand came to rest on the smaller’s cheek, smoothening the lines of his frown. Baekhyun’s expression changed into one of longing, blindly following after the touch. 

‘’I want to kiss you.’’ The younger demanded, already standing up. He did, he pecked the man shortly, and the latter’s eyes went out to search around them for all the curious eyes that were pretending to be busy with something else. 

‘’Not here, my Prince.’’

Baekhyun’s pout deepened, ‘’I want to sit on your lap and kiss you…’’ He complained, like a kid who had his favourite toy stolen. 

‘’And you can do so, later.’’

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The General kept his promise or he had no other choice because the prince attacked his lips the second they were alone in their room. Gasping, Baekhyun clung onto his neck, drawing him as close as possible, ‘’I never wish to be parted from you from now on, never…’’ He whispered between the clashing of their teeth, desperate and hungry. Chanyeol took a hold of his face to control their pace, backing the younger up against the wall. 

‘’I am not going anywhere, my Prince.’’ Chanyeol assured, hands daring enough to go below his neck and rest on his shoulders. That was all it took to get the younger mewling, his tongue stuck out on reflex to meet the man’s halfway. It was sweet, they tasted of strawberries and red wine, and Baekhyun swore he could get drunk on this feeling alone. 

The pad of his palms travelled lower, on their own accord, until he ended up kneading Chanyeol’s back, urgently signalling him to move his lips faster. 

‘’I I think we should stop.’’ Chanyeol distanced their mingling breaths, leaving behind a trail of saliva to connect their mouths. Baekhyun’s excitement felt too urgent. The hardness between his legs made him feel like he might die if he did not get any sort of release.

With a whine, he forcefully grabbed the man’s hand to direct it to his crotch and make him cup his hardness through his pants. A short breath fell from Chanyeol’s lips. ‘’Not again, please…’’ Baekhyun pleaded, with vulnerable eyes full of trust glancing up at the man. 

Torn between his morals and the heat clouding his judgment, the General was slow to nod. ‘’Come to bed.’’ He whispered, leaving a last peck on his lips before he took the boy’s hand to guide him.

Baekhyun could not believe it, excitement and a little fear of the unknown made him stumble in his steps. ‘’A-are we going to…?’’ He asked, unsure.

The man shook his head, gently guiding him down to lay on the bed. ‘’I am just helping you.’’ 

‘How’, Baekhyun wanted to ask, but he did not, in fear of sounding too inexperienced. He stayed there, glancing at the man who kept his distance on the bed. 

‘’If you do not want to, it’s alright, my Prince.’’

The younger frantically shook his head. ‘’What do I do?’’

Chanyeol regarded him with fondness, proud at the panting mess he had left behind. ‘’Unfasten your pants, for once.’’ The man instructed, and Baekhyun quickly obliged, fingers a bit too excited to get the laces right from the first time. The General’s eyes were burning through him, and a sudden shyness enveloped the younger, but, to his shame, his cock twitched just from the thought of being watched. He pushed his clothes out of the way, remaining completely undressed under the man’s gaze. Chanyeol was good at masking his expressions, but the lip he had been biting with his teeth turned swollen. 

‘’Why don’t you show me how you pleasure yourself when you are alone, my Prince?’’ 

The younger nodded timidly, parting his legs just a little while his hand engulfed the tip of his cock to rub it softly, which ended in a long cry. ‘’S-sir, it’s not fair for me to be the only one without clothes.’’ He complained, fingers wrapping around his shaft to tug on his erection a few times. The attention was giving him courage as well as raising self-consciousness inside him. He was left torn at what to do. 

Slowly, the General unbuttoned his tunic, revealing the bandages Baekhyun knew too well. He had seen his upper part enough to have it imprinted on the back of his eyelids, but the prince wanted more. He ceased the movement of his hand, blinking expectantly at the other. Chanyeol raised one eyebrow. 

‘’I lost my pants too.’’ 

Chanyeol only smirked, ‘’This is not about me.’’ 

With a needy whine, the prince reached for him on his hands and knees, stopping in front of the man with a frown, ‘’Please, I want to see you…’’ 

The General nodded , unfastening the latches of his pants and pulling them down a little, to reveal the hardness equalling Baekhyun’s own. The younger’s eyes grew big with a soft gasp falling from his lips. He could not tear his eyes away from the man’s body, with an almost child-like curiosity accompanying him.

‘’Now, go back to touching yourself.’’ The deep voice interrupted him, and Baekhyun laid himself down, back touching the mattress. He parted his legs more, hiding his face behind his free arm to save himself from blushing further at the man’s reaction. His hand wandered down again, but this time, it went further than his erection, cupping this balls then reaching his favourite part, his taint, which he slowly tickled with the tips of his fingers. 

‘’C-can you give me the oil on the table?’’ The prince asked, and the bed dipped for a second before the small glass landed on his palm. It was his occasion to steal a glance at the man, and what he found scared him a little, his stomach turned uncontrollably. Chanyeol looked like he could ravish him if he had the chance. That’s with how much intensity he was being looked at. 

His oiled fingers stilled at his entrance, the younger could not take the gaze on him, ‘’Sir- please close your eyes.’’ Only after he made sure that he did indeed, did the tip of his middle finger push in slowly. Baekhyun was used to doing this to himself, at first out of curiosity, then out of boredom, but the circumstances he was under now amplified the feeling stuffing himself full brought. He was on the verge of tears from all the adrenaline as he pushed his finger in and out until he relaxed, then he added another. He tried to keep his cries down, but it was hard. It had been long since he played with himself.

When he got used to the feeling and pleasure took the place of the initial discomfort, Baekhyun rasped, ‘’Open your eyes.’’ 

Chanyeol did not wait to be told twice and the moment he did, Baekhyun could hear him swear under his breath. Baekhyun did not stop from scissoring his fingers, working himself open to let the man feast on the view. He refrained from touching his prostate yet, afraid that it might end too soon if he did. 

The General looked devastated every time the smaller parted his eyes to steal another glance. ‘’Get up.’’ Chanyeol’s rough voice interrupted him and the younger quickly did, kneeling on the bed, excitedly waiting for another word, any command.

‘’You do this to yourself when you are alone?’’ The General asked, a little breathless, just like Baekhyun was. No, the younger was more than that. He was panting by now. The smaller nodded, shame left behind from the second pleasure had settled in his veins. Chanyeol pulled himself closer, dangerously close for the younger’s sanity, who desired him with every bit of his being. His fingers stopped when the man cupped his check with a roughness he hadn’t encountered before. ‘’And who do you think of, when you do this?’’

Baekhyun did not miss a beat in replying, ‘’You, they are your fingers, every time.’’ The knight smirked, bringing the smaller's face to him to share a filthy kiss where their spit mixed together. ‘’Go on, you are not done.’’ Chanyeol whispered on his lips. Baekhyun could not wait to be told again. He began riding his fingers, up and down, and every time he would come up, the General was there to meet his lips and swallow his moans. 

‘’Oh, God ’’ Baekhyun’s head fell back when his fingers finally grazed his prostate. Chanyeol tutted. ‘’Be quiet, my Prince. What would your father say if he knew what his little angel was doing?’’ 

‘’Shut...up…’’ The young prince cried again, he was so close, he could not think of his father right now. His hand grew tired from the uncomfortable position, he was shaking too much to move again. ‘’P-please, touch me.’’ 

‘’I don’t think we should ’’ 

Baekhyun groaned, turning with his back to him to bend over, waiting, demanding, ‘’Touch me, Sir…’’

The General was reluctant to even move. He sighed a shaky breath, before cold fingers came to rest on the prince’s behind. The latter shivered, impatiently pushing himself back to show his gaping entrance.

‘’Forgive me, my Prince.’’ One thick finger slowly dipped in, unsure, agonizing Baekhyun with the long drag against his walls. When it was so easily swallowed, another one followed. They were enough to occupy the space Baekhyun’s own three ones had taken before. The prince’s legs gave out, and he burrowed his face inside the mattress with a wanton moan. He could not believe this was happening, with how much he’d dreamed of it. The one touching him, making his head spin, was no other than the subject of his fantasies.

Chanyeol’s digits were more skilled than his. They easily found his prostate, and the man ended up milking the prince dry, just with his fingers. Baekhyun had no power left to move his limbs for having been stimulated for so long and ending it with one of the most powerful orgasms he’d ever had. 

The prince turned around when the speed of his heart turned normal again. He had a healthy flush to his cheeks and one of the brightest smiles he could summon, but it turned into a frown when his eyes landed on the General, who had not moved, too entranced with the panting beauty in front of him. He was still hard, his member red and leaking from all the negligence. ‘’I want to help you too, Sir.’’ Baekhyun softly offered, hand reaching out to feel him, but Chanyeol pulled himself back. 

‘’There is no need, my Prince.’’ Even his voice sounded strained. It was a break in his usual composed self. 

‘’You’ve helped me, I should…’’ Baekhyun tried to reach his member again, but the man caught his hand and intertwined their fingers instead. 

‘’You are too tired, I can handle it.’’ The word used made him twitch in interest. The younger wanted to see the man handle it. 

‘’Can I watch you?’’ He asked, with hopeful eyes, shyness coming back to him now that the arousal was gone. 

Chanyeol did not say anything. He studied the prince’s face wearily, not seeming as excited as the latter to be seen in such a state. Baekhyun took the initiative to kiss the man at his lack of words, and he sneakily directed the General’s hand to his own erection now, when he got him engaged enough to get rid of all his worries. He had tried to keep himself from peeking at first, but when Chanyeol’s hand began to move faster, and the concentration poured into their kiss loosened, his eyes dropped, landing on the man’s hand rapidly tugging at his erection. It did not take long until his hips began to stutter, and the knight only whispered, ‘’Forgive me.’’ He was trying to move Baekhyun’s body aside, but the younger had none of it. He felt the need to be marked. 

‘’Come on me.’’ He was prepared, on his knees on the bed, blinking up and waiting for the moment the man’s release spurted out to catch it. Baekhyun had his face ready, with his eyes shut tight, anticipating, but the come never landed on it. The General had spilled his seed on his chest instead.

The younger watched in amazement, how Chanyeol calmed down gradually, how his usual stern expression turned into a serene one. Baekhyun could only hope, when the knight bent down to take the younger’s lips again, that the General was feeling as peaceful as he did.

They fell asleep in each other’s arms, having been moved to Chanyeol’s bed and leaving behind soiled furs for the next morning. Baekhyun prayed that the maids in charge of cleaning the fluids on his bed did not have anything to say about it.

Their relationship only developed from that point. It was like their sexual intimacy was all the General needed to finally let himself be free around the prince. He was a changed man. A man in love, Baekhyun hoped. Chanyeol looked at him like he was the light of his life, like he was the only light he needed to survive. The man pampered him with actions, with sweet, simple words whispered against his ear whenever he got the chance. Baekhyun had the man in the palm of his hand, like Junmyeon had remarked once, after the General did not even think of touching his food until he made sure that the prince finished his and enjoyed it to the fullest. And, the crown prince’s heart could not have been lighter. 

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It was under the warm, September night sky when they made love for the first time, because the younger was convinced that he would not be able to wait any longer for their marriage. What started as a nightly swim turned into so much more when Baekhyun’s teasing grew bolder. They were swimming without any clothes on, now more comfortable with each other, when the younger got the idea to have a catch game. The game did not last for long. Chanyeol was the one to swim after him and chase him around, with the new stamina regained from resting all of those days. The General caught him once, twice, but the third time Baekhyun never ran away. He entangled his legs around the man’s torso, forcefully clashing their lips together. Touching each other under the water turned into openly petting each other on the green grass. It was all Chanyeol’s fault for sliding his erect member between Baekhyun’s cheeks when he least expected it, and they got too carried away to ever stop. Well, the general did, because Baekhyun would have never stopped him anyway.

Chanyeol took him under the stars, where no one but the moon and the animals in the forest could hear his cries of pleasure. He was covered in love bites, peppered with kisses, caressed in every part of his body, which he had never thought possible of obtaining pleasure from until the man came and taught him. Baekhyun shouted out his love, but the General showed it, taking care of him in ways the younger had never imagined. The two lovers slept under the stars, warm in each other’s embrace, in the dusk’s light, after they had made love to each other countless times. 

 

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September brought a lot of joy among the Palace’s people. It was a breath of fresh air, compared to the unforgiving heat they had just escaped from. Everyone had reasons to be merry the crops grew to their fullest, ready to be harvested; the meal tables were close to being filed to the brim, with all the autumn’s delicacies; and their prince, their future king, was soon to be married. It was the ultimate reason for celebration. Baekhyun was full of giggles, observing the young maids skipping around, ready for yet another ball, but this time, he could not believe it was his own. He was getting married. 

His one-month proposal had long passed, and Baekhyun was sure that Chanyeol had even forgotten about their initial plan, too busy loving him on his own accord, but the young prince still wanted to be sure.

They were laying on their bed, naked and tangled between the furs after a round of passionate love-making, when Baekhyun raised his curious eyes to peek at the man caressing his bare arms. A question was on the tip on his lips, and he waited to be acknowledged before he spoke it out loud.

‘’Yes, my love?’’ Chanyeol softly uttered. 

Baekhyun’s eyes twinkled into the semi-moons the General loved so much, before he stood up to his knees, with a solemn expression on. ‘’Sir, I love you.’’ He simply began, watching the man’s eyes swim in confusion. ‘’I am utterly, completely in love with you, since a long time ago, since I can remember. You have been the only one my heart desired, and the only one whom I could see myself spending the rest of my life with. I know, my heart is still young, and hearts change, but I trust mine to never do.’’ The man nodded for his every word. He was spent after their time spent together, and the prince’s words disarmed his already stolen heart even more.

‘’I know the wedding is close, and maybe I might have gotten ahead of myself with it, but I am asking you again, to be sure: Will you marry me, Sir?’’ 

Dumbfounded for the moment, Chanyeol could only nod, but he regained control of himself and pulled the prince closer again, with their foreheads clashing together, ‘’How could you doubt my love, my prince, after everything we shared?’’ He asked, emotion betraying his composed face. 

‘’I love you beyond words. I would give my life for you, my little prince.’’ He confessed, rubbing the tips of their noses together. Baekhyun took the words in with  a tilt of his head, with a little giggle of excitement escaping him. ‘’I love you.’’ He whispered before pecking the General. ‘’I love you!’’

Chanyeol carefully untangled the smaller’s hand from his locks to stand up, and he left the prince to curiously trail his eyes after his bare form until he reached his sword, abandoned in the corner. Baekhyun did not know how to react, so he waited, with his breath held. The General kneeled in front of his bed, with his sword laying on his open palms, offering it forward for the crown prince. ‘’I promise on my faith that I will in the future be faithful to my King, never cause him harm, love him until the end of my days, and always remain by his Grace’s side.’’ The General recited a part of his oath, but the end was altered, only for Baekhyun. Happy tears sprung from the prince’s eyes. 

‘’My sword, my life, and my whole being are yours, my love.’’ 

His sword was everything for the General, but now, he was openly offering it to Baekhyun. For him, swearing his loyalty meant entrusting his whole life into the crown prince’s hands, and Baekhyun understood, because he had been left speechless. If one could die of joy, he would be dead already, heart shattered into tiny million pieces from the way it was beating so fast, ready to escape his chest. 

His sword was forgotten when he had the embodiment of raw beauty on his bed. Without wasting any more second, Chanyeol gathered the trembling boy inside his arms again, pecking his closed eyelids, his rosy cheeks, his parted lips. It was just the two of them, time stopped for the two lovers to indulge into each other.

‘’You cannot escape me now.’’ Baekhyun joked to ease his heavy heart, drying his cheek with his sleeve, but there was no hint of playfulness in the General’s voice when he whispered back, ‘’I never planned to.’’