When Shouyou was six years old, men in bright gold and red uniforms had knocked on his door. Shouyou was too young at the time to understand that the woman he lived with since he can remember was not actually his mother.
One of the men, tall, blond-haired, and with a smile that breathed confidence had approached him and extended his arms to receive him in a hug. Shouyou was very young, but he knew how to recognize the people who were doing harm, and that man didn't look like someone who was going to hurt him. After all, his arms seemed to be safer than his mother's. Mother did hurt him, and the rage in the woman's face told him that this man was her enemy.
If that man was mother's enemy, then he could help him. Shouyou, in an attempt to confirm his suspicions, looked into the man's eyes and in a very soft voice, he said. "Will you take me away?"
Her mother's voice was very loud, screaming and swinging among the people who held her to prevent her from trying to approach Shouyou. The man, who ignored the woman's cries, smiled at the child. "Yes, I'll take you where you belong. There's a lot of people waiting for you."
Again, Shouyou was too small to understand the man's words. Happily, he had climbed into a carriage with him and listened carefully to the tales of battles and fairies that the man told him, and at some point, he had fallen asleep.
It wouldn't be until many years later that he would fully understand the situation. That he would understand why, when he awoke, he stood in front of a great palace that stood with pride and splendor, being embraced by the emperor of the Sun Kingdom.
In the end, little Shouyou understood that his mother had not been his mother.
The woman he had lived with was a former palace maid, who was jealous of the queen, Shouyou's real mother. In a fit of anger, she had managed to sneak into the prince's room and had taken him away, escaping out of sheer luck. The kingdom never stopped looking for them, and when someone arrived, claiming to have seen an orange-haired child playing in a hut hidden in the forest of the neighboring kingdom, everyone's hopes arose.
The knight who had taken the little prince back home had confirmed that the boy had the sun mark on his wrist, which was bandaged, the skin around in purple and green colors.
The queen, who was pregnant, had been forbidden to attend the trial of the woman, which had been a brutal scene and with a single verdict, death. Not only had she kidnapped the prince, but she had abused him repeatedly. The woman went mad when she was told that Shouyou was the child blessed by the sun, and that she would be punished for the gods themselves for her sin.
But as much as the palace tried to erase the woman's footprint on the prince, it hadn't worked. Suddenly, little Hinata Shouyou was not chained to a room with a single window, but he had a room so big that he could get lost in it, suddenly he had a father and a mother who hugged him and told him that they loved him, and a little sister who was about to be born.
It was perfect, it was too perfect, and shouyou wondered if he was still sleeping in the carriage, in the arms of a knight, dreaming of tales of kingdoms, battles and fairies.
When Hinata was nine years old, he still had nightmares about a room with a single window. However, it has been a long time since he cried in the presence of others other than his parents and sister. This was due, of course, to the fact that one of the maids had been foolish enough to say out loud that 'is the prince so weak? how can he protect the kingdom? it's been years!'
Hinata had run towards his personal guard, and in tears, had told him what happened. He never saw that maid again and no one dared speak ill of the prince again, at least not inside the palace. However, something had also changed in Hinata, when Tsukishima, his personal guard, had suggested to the emperor that perhaps the prince would feel better if he began to interact with children his age.
Hinata did not oppose the idea, and there was no way he would do it, as his father saw him with concern. Hinata knew at the time that even if his parents loved him and wanted to protect him from the truth, he was a weak child. But his teacher had told him that he was destined to rule the empire, that he was made to change the world, and if Hinata cried at that moment, saying he was not ready to meet other children, that would make him look like a coward.
And the princes were not cowards, the princes were brave.
And Hinata wanted to be a brave prince.
When Atsumu was called by his father that night, he hoped to be scolded for having taken the candy from Osamu, he hoped to be told that he should increase the hours of training with the sword, he expected anything, except to be told that from tomorrow, he would be accompanying the crown prince along with the children of other knights.
Atsumu knew little about the crown prince, the little information he had was that his father had rescued him from what appeared to be hell, given the way he had described the place where he had been found. That indeed, he had the mark of the sun on his wrist, and that he was a year younger than him. Atsumu had never seen the prince through the halls of the palace, and was confused as to why he had been chosen and not Osamu.
Osamu was the good-behaved, Osamu was the one who always followed the rules. Wasn't he a better choice than Atsumu? apparently, his father didn't think so.
The next morning, he had been woken up earlier than usual, and he had been dressed in his best clothes, which made him uncomfortable, as he was accustomed to the training uniform. When he met his father at the gates of his house, he leaned over, looked him in the eye, and said, "Atsmu, I want you to listen to me well. Be nice to the prince, he's a boy... with a sad past, become his friend, sincerely."
Until that moment, Atsumu had believed that his father had told him that he would accompany the prince because it suited him to his family's position, he had not thought that he really cared. Atsumu only nodded, held his father's hand, and set out on their way to the sun's palace.
When he and his father arrived in the royal family's private garden, there were six other children. Atsumu could recognize them all, Kageyama Tobio, Tsukishima Kei, Yamaguchi Tadashi, Sakusa Kiyoomi, Oikawa Tooru and Iwaizumi Hajime. All sons of high-ranking knights, some with mocking and shallow smiles and others fully frightened to make mistakes.
His father left him there, with a short farewell. And a few minutes later, the prince made his appearance, with two guards behind him. Each of them presented themselves briefly, and before the prince could speak, Oikawa had begun to talk about how honored he felt to have been chosen as his playmate, that he would make sure to fulfill the mission and that there was nothing to worry about.
Atsumu realized that the boy had said the wrong thing, since the prince had frowned and looked more reluctant to the presence of others.
"What you said is terrible, Oikawa-san." Tsukishima had crossed his arms, with a sneering tone difficult to unidentified. "You just said, in front of the prince, that for you this is nothing more than an order given to you by your father, how can you be so insensitive?"
Atsumu also believed he had been insensitive, but he also thought Tsukishima's comment was to stand out from the crowd. And apparently the prince had noticed it too, but he had decided not to act on it.
"You two are out of line." interrupted Kageyama, frowning. "You haven't even let the prince speak."
The prince's gaze softened, and he looked at each one for a while, silently. He seemed to be pondering what to say, and when he was ready, he spoke. "Thank you, Kageyama-san. Actually, I'm curious about why you're here, is it really just because your parents asked you to? If so, please just go."
Despite being direct in saying those words, Atsumu was able to identify a slight nervousness in the prince's voice. If he was scared, then he was pretty good at hiding it.
Oikawa had blushed, and his face was now screaming guilt. He had admitted, among whispers, that he was there because his father asked him to. Soon after, Iwaizumi had respectfully confessed that he was not really interested in the meeting. Sakusa and Yamaguchi had said that, like Oikawa, their parents had encouraged them to show up that morning in the garden, but that they were interested in forming a friendship with the prince.
"I just wanted to know what kind of person you were." kageyama said. "I wish I had someone decent on the sword when I train, what better choice than you, Your Majesty?"
"My father always talks about you." Tsukishima confessed. "I also wanted to know what kind of person you were, considering how much time you spend in the library. I also like to read... we could read together."
When it was Atsumu's turn to answer, he felt a slight fear. God, what if he said something wrong? the thought was invasive, but he remembered that his father told him to be sincere and honest. And that's what he did.
"My father told me a little... about what happened, when you were uhm, younger." He confessed, and could see how the prince looked at him with something akin to fear. "I don't think you should be alone... no one should be alone after... uh, something like that? I just want to be your friend. I'm sorry, Your Majesty, if I said anything inappropriate."
The guards behind the prince looked at him with warning, as if they were telling him that he was walking on very, very thin ice. And that if he said something like that again, it would be his end. Slowly, he looked down and wondered, again, what he was doing there and not Osamu, his brother would have been a thousand times better choice.
The prince pointed to one of the guards, and he bowed. He seemed to be telling the guard something. Maybe he was telling the guard that Atsumu should leave for daring to say something like that? fear was taking over his body, but before he succumbed to the feeling, the prince turned around and left, in the company of the other guard. Atsumu did not have time to think about what happened, since the guard spoke.
"Tsukishima, Kageyama and Miya, follow me. The rest of you may withdraw, thank you for attending today's call of the prince."
Atsumu let out a sigh, and hurried to follow the guard. He didn't turn to see the children left behind.
When they entered what appeared to be a game room, the prince was already there, with three extra cups of hot chocolate and biscuits. When he looked at them, he smiled and said. "Thank you for being honest."
Something in Atsumu led him to smile back. Was it wrong to think that the prince had a very beautiful smile?
the smile was as warm as the sun.
When Atsumu was eleven years old, it was already a routine to meet the prince, Kageyama and Tsukishima early in the day at the training camp. The best swordsmen taught the prince, and they took the opportunity to ask for advice. After all, they were going to be the knights that were next to His Majesty, the prince, at all times.
They were always together. During study sessions, during training, even during snacking. The queen treated them as if they were special children, and Tsukishima always respectfully told her that they were simple Knights in training. But the queen was gentle, she would take him by the shoulder, and say, 'Ah, but Kei, you are my prince's precious friends, how could you not be special?'
It was no secret that, despite being all smiles, the prince used to be lonely and distant with those he did not know or frequent. Sakusa had joined them once, and even though the prince had not asked him to leave, he had acted differently. He was more serious, as if he wanted to show that there was a barrier between them.
If Sakusa noticed, he didn't say anything.
But the greatest revelation Atsumu had was when he had inadvertently broken into the prince's room. They had long since been given permission to enter royalty's private quarters, and Atsumu was accustomed to not asking permission to enter. When he opened the door slowly, in an attempt to frighten the prince, he could witness how he was sitting on the carpet, shoulders relaxed and with a bright smile addressed to Princess Natsu.
Atsumu did not know, at the time, why his heart ached so much when he realized that the prince never smiled like that in their presence. Sure, he smiled, but it was a calm, controlled smile, the smile worthy of a crown prince. The prince he was watching looked... Free. Atsumu was hurt that like Sakusa, the prince had a wall with them that he had not previously noticed.
The prince had always asked them for sincerity. Now he knew why.
He didn't trust them at all.
That day, they had attended one of the prince's classes. The tutor was explaining some things about the sun's mark on his wrist, and how it worked. Kageyama was entertained with a book of sword techniques, and Tsukishima looked out the window, irritated that he could not have been in training that morning by an injury to his arm. Atsumu seemed to be the only one, apart from the prince himself, paying attention to the class.
"... You see, your majesty, the mark you have is a blessing from the gods. You are destined for greatness." The professor explained, with a slight smile. "But the mark, has a companion. The moon. The one who owns the moon is destined to rule at your side, and together you will change the world." The professor looked at Hinata, and sighed sadly. "However, there has not been a single person with the mark of the moon in many, many years, and the suns reigned alone in expectation of their soul mate."
At that moment, a thought crossed Atsumu's mind. If the moon appeared, then the prince would show they that side that even his closest friends could not see. A wave of unexplained jealousy flooded him, and before he could say anything that could ruin things, Atsumu stood up, under the perplexed gaze of Kageyama, who had dropped his book, surprised by his action. He just bowed to the prince, apologized, and told him he was leaving for today.
When he got home, Osamu intercepted him, confused, and asked why he was there so early. Atsumu didn't know how to explain to his brother that he didn't even know why.
The next day, Atsumu did not show up at the palace, either. Not even the next day. He had hidden himself in his own garden, practicing with the sword, pulling out all those confused feelings that wouldn't let him sleep at night and concentrate on the day. Atsumu was tired, tired and confused. Osamu looked at him silently from the door of the house, helpless, not knowing how to approach his brother and ask them to share with him the thing that was killing Atsumu inside.
Atsumu began to get dizzy, and dropped the sword. He felt tired, he hadn't slept well in two days, and the intense training he was doing took away all the energy he had left. He didn't know the moment he ended up on the ground, with Osamu yelling at one of the maids to call his mother.
When he opened his eyes, it was night. Osamu was sitting in a chair by his bed, and had fallen asleep in a position that seemed uncomfortable. Atsumu was careful not to wake him, and sat down on the bed. An intense pain and itching on his wrist came suddenly and Atsumu screamed, waking his brother.
"What is it, Sumu?" he asked, fully awake, lighting the lamp. "Does it hurt? Is something wrong? talk to me!"
Atsumu shouted again, and pointed to his arm. His brother took it carefully, and they could both witness a crescent moon formed on the skin of his wrist.
None of them spoke for what seemed like hours, even though it was only a few seconds. In shock, Osamu once again looked at his brother's arm and then looked him in the eye. "Atsumu... What... what is this?"
At that moment, the door of the room opened and his parents appeared, looking at him with concern. When they noticed the way Osamu looked at Atsumu's arm, his mother came close enough to appreciate the figure on her son's skin. "My God! It can't be true!"
"What can't be true, mom?" Osamu asked, terrified, not knowing the meaning of the moon on his brother's arm. "Someone tell me what's wrong with him!"
"There's nothing wrong with your brother, Osamu." His father said, trying to calm him down. "It's not a bad thing, I assure you. It's just... it's just that this hasn't happened in a long time, your mother is surprised, that's all."
"Then? What is it? What does it mean?"
While his mother was going to soak a cloth paper with cold water to soothe the pain generated by the moon barely formed on Atsumu's arm, his father began telling Osamu about the sun and the moon, how the souls of those who owned the mark were destined to be together. That these souls were blessed by the gods, and that their way and life was full of prosperity and success.
"Then... Atsumu is the crown prince's soul mate?" Osamu asked, slowly.
"Yes." His mother said, while holding Atsumu's hand. "But there hasn't been a person with the moon's mark for quite some time. Until now. It's a miracle."
"I have to tell the emperor." When his father tried to get up and leave, Atsumu panicked.
"No!" inadvertently, Atsumu cried. "No, father, please. Let me talk to the prince first. Please."
His father tried to tell him it was his duty, but Atsumu didn't give in. In the end, his father told him that it's okay, that he would let Atsumu try to figure it out first. Osamu looked at his brother, and then the clock.
"Maybe we should sleep." Osamu suggested, getting up from the chair. "Today was a day... quite difficult, I think Atsumu needs time to think."
Atsumu always appreciated how well his brother knew him. When they left his room, Atsumu devoted himself to looking at the moon in his skin. How did he get it? How was that possible? Maybe he was dreaming? It seemed like a bad joke that the cause of his troubles was now on his wrist.
But didn't that solve everything? that meant that then he was the prince's soul mate. And then he could see that smile that the prince kept hidden.
When Atsumu woke up that morning, he felt much calmer. He dressed in his usual uniform, and added a bandage around his wrist. He didn't want anyone else to see the mark until he could talk to the prince.
When he was about to leave his room, the door slammed open and Tsukishima looked at him furiously. "Here you are, you idiot." He entered in quick walks, and stopped in front of him. "Do you think it's funny? You haven't shown up at the palace in two days! The prince is worried!"
"Tsukishima, shut up." Kageyama grabbed the shoulder boy and moved him to the side. "Atsumu-san, look. I don't know what happened, but we have a very worried prince in the palace, and it's your fault. If you don't come with us the good way, I'm afraid I'll be forced to drag you there."
"Currently, I was heading for the palace." Atsumu smiled, and Tsukishima looked at him gratefully. "Sorry, I wasn't feeling very well. But I've rested and now I'm in perfect condition. I'm sorry I didn't warn you."
"All right, as long as we leave at once." Tsukishima took him by the arm, as if he wanted to make sure he wasn't going to escape. "Really, don't do that again."
They quietly went down the stairs of the house and said goodbye to Atsumu's family, his brother looked at him and gave him a smile, as if telling him 'everything will be fine'. Throwing jokes and insulting each other from time to time, the three came to the palace and walked to the training camp, the prince waiting for them leaning against the wall. When Atsumu saw him, he was able to see the prince's face go from tired to surprised, and then furious.
The prince crossed the distance separating them, and pointed to Atsumu. "How dare you! you disappear without saying anything and then you show up here? what's your problem?" the guards around the training camp saw the scene entertained, and Atsumu was trying to digest the prince screaming at him. He had never yelled at them, at least not them. Or him, specifically. "Atsumu-san, you have to give me a reason. Before I use this sword on you, and you don't want that."
"Yes, yes, Your Majesty. I know." He said, raising his hands. "I have an explanation." Atsumu looked at Kageyama and Tsukishima, the soldiers, and the sword instructor. "But I want to say it in private, may I have a moment with you?"
The prince nodded and began to walk to one of the corners of the training camp. Atsumu took a moment to appreciate the mark of the visible sun on the other's wrist, and smiled. When they stood face to face, Atsumu's heart seemed to want to get out of his chest. He was so nervous.
"Now, explain yourself." The prince ordered, and Atsumu let out a sigh.
"When we were in class, the teacher named the mark of the sun...and then he started talking about the mark of the moon, saying it was... that that person was your soul mate." The prince raised a hand, and looked him directed him into his eyes.
"Is that why?" he said, exasperated. "Is it all because of that stupid mark? it's just a legend, Atsumu-san! There hasn't been a person with the moon mark in years! I don't care about the moon, I don't care at all! so forget that subject, it was just a class issue, okay?"
Atsumu paled, and the little smile on his face disappeared. It didn't matter. He didn't care. A sharp pain went from his wrist to his chest, and Atsumu looked into the prince's eyes, before he said: "I understand, Your Majesty."
Atsumu didn't really smile for the rest of the day. Rather, he didn't smile at all.
When Atsumu was sixteen, it had been two years since his mind had begun to call his soul mate "Shouyou" instead of "the prince" in that way, he was deceiving himself, he believed that they had some kind of bond that was different from the one Shouyou had with others. It was the way Atsumu dealt with the rejection of his soul mate. It hurt, but he'd rather be by his side, if that was the only thing Shouyou could give him, he'd take it.
His family had opposed the idea. He had been told to simply show him the mark, but Atsumu refused. He yelled at them, in tears, to leave him alone and respect his decision, not to destroy the only way he could be near Shouyou. That day, Osamu hugged him until he fell asleep.
Atsumu opened his eyes, seeing the great chandelier that adorned Shouyou's office. Kageyama was lying in one of the armchairs, throwing a dagger into the air and catching it before it touched his face. Tsukishima was helping Shouyou read one of the many papers on his desk.
"Oi, Atsumu, instead of sleeping, why don't you come and help us?" Tsukishima complained. "Come on, get up, in an hour we have to be on the balcony for the royal family to do the annual greeting to the people."
"Yes, yes, I'm coming." Standing up, he looked at Kageyama. "Leave your little suicide game, Tobio, and help us too." The black haired boy rolled his eyes, but kept the dagger and approached the desk, taking a piece of paper and a pen.
Shouyou was ignoring them, focused on what he read. If Atsumu was completely honest, he was proud of the prince Shouyou had become. He inspired confidence, strength, courage. He was the worthy owner of the sun's mark. Atsumu smiled at himself as he sealed one of the papers. Even though Shouyou continued to build walls around him and wouldn't let others get too close, he somehow made everyone feel comfortable with him.
A knock on the door caught his eye, and Iwaizumi poked his head. "Your Majesty, they're waiting for you on the balcony."
Shouyou raised his head and smiled. "Yes, thank you. I'll be there soon."
Iwaizumi nodded and closed the door. Shouyou stretched out in the chair and looked at them. He said, "Okay, let's go." The three of them followed him in silence. The corridors of the palace were more full of soldiers than usual, by security measures. Atsumu saw his brother in the distance talking comfortably to Sugawara and Sawamura, other of the boys who were training to be knights.
The training they were passing was much heavier than the other soldiers. They had been chosen by Shouyou himself to accompany him, not only were they his friends, they were also his personal guards. Which meant they were the crown prince's last layer of protection. Simply put, they had been trained to be killing machines.
When they reached the balcony, they encountered the private security of the emperor and queen, where Tsukishima's father was. And on their side was Princess Natsu and two of her personal guards, Kiyoko Shimizu and Yachi Hitoka. Both seemed harmless, but Atsumu had already broken in duel with both, and were anything but harmless. If they had been trained to kill, those girls could make you see hell.
"Hello." Atsumu told Kiyoko. "It's been a while, has everything gone well?"
"Yes, if a slight conmison at a tea party with the duke's daughter can be considered a problem, then that's all." She answered. "I see you're still wearing a bandage on your wrist, will you tell me what it is? Or will you keep hiding it? Do you know that soldiers make bets on what you hide there, or not?"
"Yeah, I know." Atsumu could see Kageyama staring at his wrist. In the past, the boy had tried several times to see what he was hiding, but Atsumu always managed to dodge it. One of those times, Tsukishima and Kageyama had cornered him and tried to forcibly remove his bandage, but Atsumu had raged and punched them until Kageyama began bleeding from his nose, with a bruise forming in Tsukishima's eye.
They never tried again. Actually, it had served as a warning to others not to try the same. If Shouyou was curious, he never proved it.
The royal family went out on the balcony, and Atsumu watched Shouyou smile at his kingdom. Deep inside him, a voice said, 'You'll never be there, by his side.' Atsumu touched the bandage covering the moon.
He reminded himself that he was happy, no matter what way he was, it was enough for him to be close to Shouyou.
The next day, Atsumu decided to join his brother for lunch. He rarely separated from Shouyou, but Atsumu needed a moment for himself.
It had nothing to do with Shouyou telling Tsukishima that the neighboring kingdom had sent him a letter, saying that his second prince, Kenma Kozume, was interested in meeting the crown prince of the sun kingdom. No, Atsumu wasn't affected by that at all.
Atsumu saw his brother and friends sitting under a tree in the main garden. When he approached, Bokuto Kotaro opened his eyes with surprise and pointed at him. "Oh my God! My dear Osamu's evil twin, what are you doing here? Shouldn't you be with the prince? Oi! You were chosen for that, some of us didn't even appear on the list of candidates, don't come and show off your gold badge with us!"
Atsumu rolled his eyes, and took a seat between his brother and Sakusa. "Well, I also have a life apart from the prince." He said, dryly. Everyone looked at him curiously, it was no secret among the soldiers that between the three friends who accompanied the prince, Atsumu was the most devoted and loyal to his majesty, to hear him say something like that did not happen every day.
"Problems in paradise, Sumu-chan?" Oikawa said, mockingly. The fake smile on his face told him that he intended to annoy him with what he was saying. "Perhaps it's time for you to quit? don't worry, you know, we're not such bad company either."
Sugawara hit his shoulder, and Iwaizumi took away the piece of candy he was eating. Oikawa muttered a simple 'sorry', before turning around to talk to Sasuka, completely ignoring him. Osamu looked at him and said. "Really no problem with you being here?"
Daichi looked at him, and then raised eyebrows. "Well, I think you're wrong, then. Because Kageyama comes this way, and he doesn't look happy."
Oikawa rolled his eyes. "It's that kid's usual face, Sawamura."
Atsumu felt Kageyama's hand on his shoulder, and looked up at Kageyama. Who just told him. "Get up, I have to talk to you."
Atsumu did not refuse, sigh, stand up and without saying goodbye followed the other boy. When they were completely alone, Kageyama took his hand around his neck, in a nervous gesture.
"Look, you have to stop doing this kind of thing." Kageyama looked at him. "Actually, you have to start controlling your emotions. I know, Tsukishima knows, damn it, if the whole palace doesn't know, I'd be surprised!" Atsumu lowered his head, embarrassed. "I'm sure the prince knows it too, but he says nothing to avoid trouble. Atsumu, you have to leave behind this stupid crush you have with him. You're just hurting yourself!"
"You don't know shit!" Atsumu said, in a fit of anger. "You don't know how I feel, you don't know how hard this is for me!"
"Then explain to me, damn it, I'm your friend!"
Atsumu looked at him, and then began to remove his bandage from his arm furiously. When the skin on his wrist was exposed, he raised his arm at the height of Kageyama's eyes. "This. This is the problem! Do you understand now? Now can you stop saying things you don't understand?"
Kageyama slowly lowered Atsumu's arm, covering the mark with his hand. "Yes, I understand. Atsumu, calm down. Okay, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have forced you to do this. I'm so sorry."
Atsumu began to bandage his arm again, in complete silence. Kageyama's apologies hurt him, because both Tsukishima and Kageyama had heard Shouyou say, several times, that he did not care if he had a soul mate.
When there was no evidence of the mark, Atsumu looked again at Kageyama. "I will do my best to hide what I feel, Tobio. Don't worry. This won't happen again."
Atsumu turned around, and left.
Hinata was eighteen when he noticed. Actually, he had noticed it before, but he had chosen to ignore the situation. But he couldn't do it anymore. Atsumu was slowly getting away from him. Hinata feared that the moment would come when he would disappear completely.
He looked at the silent figure of Atsumu, on the side of the room. The boy was reading one of the new books his father had given him for his coming-of-age collection. Tsukishima and Kageyama were busy coordinating security measures for the party, so it was just the two of them.
Hinata wasn't very good at expressing himself with other people other than his family, but he desperately needed to work things out with Atsumu. He needed to see that mocking smile, which hasn't appeared in a while. He needed Atsumu's hand taking his, just like they did when they were fifteen. He needed the real Atsmu, not the boy who followed him like a shadow.
"Yes, Your Majesty?"
When Hinata wanted to speak, the door opened and Kageyama peeked out. "Prince, everything is ready, we must go."
Atsumu closed the book, left it on the shelf and turned to walk towards the door, waiting for Hinata to join them.
They walked silently through the halls of the palace, and when they were near the hall, he heard Kiyoko, his sister's personal guard, shouting: "They have infiltrated the palace! Take the royal family to a safe place! fast!" Hinata had no time to be surprised, Kageyama and Atsumu took him by the arm and began to run in the opposite direction, Hinata could see that pure terror in the face of his friends, who had the swords at hand.
Tsukishima caught up with them on the road, and he looked like he ran miles. Hinata knew the way, they were taking him to one of the hidden rooms. But before they could sing victory, a group of hooded men intercepted them, Atsumu stepped forward, but Kageyama grabbed him by the collar of his shirt and put him next to Hinata: "No! you stay here, if you get hurt, they kill me, you understand? be good, and take care of the prince, don't do anything stupid."
Hinata stuck to the wall of the hallway, with Atsumu clinging to his arm at all times. Kageyama and Tsukishima were winning the confrontation, and when he turned and saw Sakusa's face, accompanied by two other imperial guards, he allowed himself to sigh. Hinata did not carry his sword that day, it was supposed to be the day of the coronation. If they'd been cornered before, he'd probably be dead by now.
What happened next was so fast.
One of the hooded men escaped Tsukishima's grip, and ran towards Hinata, the sword raised, pointing at his heart. There was no time to react, and Hinata closed his eyes waiting for the impact, but it never came.
Hinata opened her eyes to see Atsumu's back in front of him. Apparently, Atsumu had been able to take his sword, and had cut off his attacker's neck. But when Atsumu fell to his knees, Hinata could see.
Atsumu's hands fell to the ground, holding back. And the sword fell with a sound that would haunt him for eternity. The white shirt he had been wearing was now as red as the jacket that had not been buttoned, because Atsumu never did.
Everything around Hinata stopped, stopped hearing the screams of the attackers, the complaints of pain, the clash of the swords. At the time, Hinata had nothing else in mind other than Atsumu. By the gods, Atsumu... Atsumu was...
Hinata forgot that he was a prince, and that that was a risky situation. He dropped in front of Atsumu, watching the wound cut off the shirt made of fine white cloth. Hinata's breathing became irregular, almost like that of Atsumu himself, who kept his arm on his chest in a protective way. "Your Majesty..."
"Your Majesty, regain your reason, breathe." Atsumu said, in a voice full of fear. "You have to get up, stay... stay up against the wall, don't turn your back on the attackers."
Atsumu let out a whining of pain, opened his eyes in fear, and carried his blood-filled hand that had been hiding the deep cut of his chest to Hinata's face. "Your... Majes... No, no, Shouyou... you must... you must remove the bandage, please, you must..."
Atsumu stopped speaking, and his body bent towards Hinata. The hand that had been on his cheek fell to his side. The only thing Hinata felt was the blood on his face. Carefully, trembling and unable to look down to observe Atsumu's body, he surrounded him with his arms... and began to cry.
Hinata doesn't remember when he last cried in public, Hinata doesn't remember the last time he was left in such a vulnerable state, he had been very young. But none of that mattered now, any wall he had built, had collapsed by the time Atsumu received the wound for him.
The thought of losing Atsumu drove him crazy.
"No... no, this can't be happening." Hinata's voice trembled, barely a whisper. "No, please Atsumu, open your eyes."
When Atsumu didn't answer. Hinata hugged him more tightly and his heartbreaking cries were heard through the halls of the palace. Hinata shouted, shouted, cursed and hugged Atsumu's body as if it were the only thing that saved him from drowning in a deep sea.
Hinata hadn't realized that long minutes ago he was in that position, and that the confrontation was over. Kageyama and Tsukishima saw the scene stunned, unable to believe it. None of them found enough strength to go and check Atsumu's condition.
However, Kageyama heard hasty steps and turned around, ready to attack. But after identifying Osamu's face, he relaxed. The boy was pale, frightened, and when he spotted the prince holding his immobile brother, he yelled at him. "Let him go!"
The prince ignored him, and Osamu, by force, took the pulse in his brother's neck. A sigh came out of his lips. "Your Majesty, Atsumu is not dead! but he will be if you don't let go and stop him from getting treatment, so let him go!"
Tsukishima moved, robotically, with his eyes on Atsumu and gently began to separate the prince's body from the twin. Hinata cried, and denied with his head, indisposed to separate, but Osamu was determined to take his brother to the hospital, and when they finally managed to separate them, Hinata babbled. "His bandage... he told me that... He told me to take the bandage off."
Osamu looked at the prince, lowered his head and removed the blood-filled bandage from his brother's arm. A crescent moon was seen on the stained skin of his wrist.
Sakusa helped Osamu get Atsumu to the hospital. Leaving behind a perplexed prince, a Tsukishima trying to soothe him, with tears in his eyes and a Kageyama who kept remembering the first time he saw the mark on his friend's skin.
It had been a few years since Hinata didn't dream of a small single window room. However, he would now wake up every night covered in sweat, with tears in his eyes, and with that damn room engraved on fire in his mind. Hinata couldn't find peace if he wasn't with Atsumu, so he got out of bed, asked a guard to accompany him and go to the palace's medical wing, where he would sit next to Atsumu's bed, and fall asleep.
The doctor had managed to save Atsumu, and was now supposed to be in perfect condition, except for the scar that adorned his chest from side to side. And yet, Atsumu didn't wake up.
Hinata wondered if the gods were punishing him.
The Miya family had met with the imperial family, and they had been told that the mark of the moon had appeared years before. Osamu, Atsumu's brother, had looked at Hinata furiously and told him if Atsumu had not shown him the mark, it was because he had rejected him without even hearing what he had to say.
Hinata refused, and told him that wasn't true. Atsumu's mother then described the encounter they had at the training camp years ago, where the prince had told Atsumu, shouting, that he did not care about his soul mate.
Hinata blushed, looked at his own mother and lowered his head. It was no secret in his family that Hinata kept feelings beyond friendship for his friend, but they would not answer for him, no matter how much they loved him, Hinata had to take responsibility for the situation.
"It's not like that." Hinata admitted. "I... I was angry, because Atsumu had only left without telling me anything about it." Hinata hated showing weakness in front of others, hated giving them reason to talk about him. But it wasn't time to worry about his reputation. "I was so angry when he mentioned my soul mate because since I was a child I...I liked Atsumu, and I didn't really care who had the mark. I cared about him, that's what I meant that day."
Osamu's eyes filled with tears, and then he began to cry. "Then... Then you..."
"I've been in love with him since I know what love is." Hinata confessed. "And I'm so sorry I didn't clear things up with him when I had a chance to do it."
A gentle touch on his shoulder woke Hinata, and turned to see Tsukishima, behind him.
"Good morning, Your Majesty".
"Ah, yes, morning...Kei".
Tsukishima looked at Hinata with discomfort. Since Atsumu had fallen into bed, Hinata had locked himself in his room for an entire day to leave the next morning calling Tsukishima and Kageyama by name. In fact, he even frequented much more often the other knights of the kingdom. It was a disturbing sight, and everyone could realize how distant the prince had been with them all that time.
"You know, I really can't get used to you calling me that yet." Tsukishima sat in the other free chair next to Atsumu's bed. "I still remember when you said Tobio to Kageyama, the poor guy almost dropped the dagger on his forehead. That will serve as a lesson to stop playing with sharp objects."
Hinata laughed, a real laugh. Not the calm, forced laughter he used in front of the aristocracy, but the kind of laughter that made his cheeks blush and his eyes disappeared. Tsukishima almost felt guilty of him watching the prince like this, and not Atsumu.
Kageyama didn't accompany them that morning, the boy still wasn't dealing with Atsumu's image in a hospital bed. Tsukishima didn't blame him, as Kageyama had broken down in tears in front of the prince days earlier, confessing that he knew about the moon's mark for two years. The prince had embraced him and told him that it was not his fault, and that he was only protecting a secret that Atsumu entrusted to him.
Hinata had told them on one of his frequent sleepless nights, how sorry he was to have rejected his soul mate for all those years. He told them that the reason he did it was so that Atsumu didn't feel threatened by a person who probably didn't even exist. Hinata said so with the intention that Atsumu would be filled with courage and then confess his feelings. Now the prince knew it would have been better if he didn't say anything at all.
Those walls hinata had built around him had not served him to protect him. He had only been isolated, unable to properly express what he felt, and in the process had fatally hurt the person he loved.
If Atsumu woke up, Hinata would love him every minute for the rest of his lives. Hinata would, even if he didn't wake up.
Two days later, while Hinata read documents in his office, Yachi Hitoka opened the door and ran in, scaring not only Hinata, but also Kageyama and Tsukishima. The girl looked brightly at the prince, and in a voice full of hope, she said. "He's awake."
The ink bottle fell to the ground when Hinata stood in a hurry, regardless of the image of a prince, Hinata ran and ran with his friends behind him, to the medical wing of the palace. The guards and maids were surprised by the face of the usual calm prince, who now had a huge smile on his face. When they reached their destination, they found Osamu sitting next to his brother.
Atsumu was pale, but completely awake. He was sitting on the bed and seemed to be listening very carefully to what Osamu was saying, until his gaze passed from his brother to Hinata, who has just arrived. Hinata could see how the opposing's eyes shone, and Hinata ran towards him, hugging him tightly.
"Shouyou, Atsmu, you called me that before. Don't you dare pretend it didn't happen." Hinata said, quickly. "My God, you are awake... you're here."
Atsumu hugged him, slowly. "Yeah, I'm here. I'm sorry I left you like that."
"Don't ever put yourself between a sword and me again".
"I would do it again without hesitation."
"Yes, that's my name".
"Stop joking with him." Kageyama complained. "My poor prince barely slept, take responsibility for your stupid actions and hold him until your arms fall, am i being clear?"
Hinata turned around, and kindly asked to give them a moment alone. Osamu looked at the prince and Hinata swore to see the warning in his eyes 'if you hurt him again, you won't like what's going to happen'. He still struggles to understand how the boy hadn't poisoned him before, given all the years that had passed since his brother got the mark of the moon.
"He doesn't hate you." Atsumu told him, with a smile. "He's just an overprotective brother, when he realizes I'm not dying, he'll be the same pain in his ass that he's always been."
"I wouldn't blame him if he hated me." Hinata told him, and he took Atsumu's hand, touched with his fingers the figure of the crescent moon on the skin of the other, the very mark of the sun on Hinata's wrist. "I hurt you without realizing it for many years, if I had let you explain to me that day what was going on, this probably wouldn't have happened..."
"No, Shouyou, it's not like that." He told him, and he kissed his hand. "I understand what you said that day, and I understand why you said it. What happened on the day of the party has nothing to do with our lack of communication. We don't know when they're going to attack us, don't blame yourself for things you can't control." Atsumu looked at Hinata for long seconds. "God, this is the first time I've seen you with such an expression..."
Hinata smiled, a smile full of love and Atsumu sighed.
"And that's the smile I always, always wanted to see."
"You don't need to keep counting the times you'll see it." Hinata told him. "I will smile for you every day I have left."
Atsumu kissed him.
And outside the palace, the flowers bloomed.
The gods were happy.
Hinata was 21 when he was preparing to receive command of the empire of the sun. His uniform, a bright red, with medals hanging from his chest, reminded him how hard he had worked to get to where he is today. Hinata was no longer that frightened child who dreamed of a single window room, and no longer hid behind walls. Hinata was a happy prince, and he believed that he was the bravest kind of prince that could exist.
Those who fought for happiness were the true heroes in fairy tales.
"Your Highness, they're waiting for you on the balcony." Tsukishima's voice distracted him, and he turned to see one of the best friends he could ask for. "Shouyou, don't be nervous, everything will be fine."
Hinata nodded, and began to walk down the long aisle that led him to his destination. He let Kageyama fit the crown for him, and when he spotted his family waiting for him, Hinata knew what peace was.
He wasn't alone.
When Atsumu approached, he hugged him and kissed him. Hinata's heart burst in love.
"My love, you had the most beautiful expression a few seconds ago." Atsumu said, looking at him with devotion. "I would have come to see you sooner, but Sakusa, Bokuto and Sawamura wouldn't let me. Really, why does everyone insist I have my own escort? I'm fine with you and the boys."
"Sumu, you're part of the royal family now."
Hinata rolled his eyes, Atsumu had completely opposed protocol. He had insisted on staying as part of Shouyou's escort, but they denied it. The queen had sat next to him at lunch, and told him, in a sweet but threatening tone: 'Atsumu, honey, you are an emperor now, you have responsibilities to fulfill.'
Hinata doubted that these responsibilities included walking with Natsu on his shoulders through the private garden, but he kept silent.
"And you have a reputation to take care of, you idiot." Hinata separated from him, and accommodated Atsumu's uniform. "Royal attire suits you, you look handsome."
"I always look handsome".
"It's time." Kiyoko's voice interrupted them, Hinata sighed, held Atsumu's hand and approached his parents and sister.
"Introducing the royal family, please bow down." the former emperor and queen of the empire, along with Princess Natsu, first went out on the balcony. "Introducing the emperors, Hinata Shouyou and Miya Atsumu, The Sun and the Moon, the blessed by the gods, please bow down."
When Hinata went out to the balcony, hand in hand with Atsumu, the people cried with happiness.
The voice that had tortured Atsumu during his teenage years was in complete silence.
Finally, he was standing next to his beloved.