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The King's Hwarang

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Seonmoon exists in an interesting flux in the months after Jinheung takes his throne; there’s new Hwarang in training, and the rest don’t always live there, but they have the option. For many of them it is a home away from home.

Banryu often likes it better than home; since his family’s dishonor, Seonmoon feels more like the place he belongs anyway, even if he can’t live there permanently while transitioning into the head of his family. But once a Hwarang, always a Hwarang.

Yeowool, basically decides to live there permanently, and won’t let anyone else sleep in the grey room, even on the nights he’s the only one from their team around. He insists that the room is sacred, the once-dwelling of Silla’s Greatest King during his infamous Faceless Hwarang Period, but his close friends know there’s more to it than the exaggerated tale. It’s just what he tells the new kids to awe them.

Suho uses the room on the days he’s too tired to go home, usually after long excursions that leave them all exhausted upon their return. But he’s often just there on random nights, chatting at whoever else happens to be around. And if those nights overlap most often with the ones Banryu tends to be there, no one bothers to point it out.

There’s no confusion for Seonwoo; Seonmoon is home. He isn’t Ahn Ji’s son, and he’s still adjusting to the idea of once again learning he has a father, this time for real. The Hwarang are the most reliable part of his life. It’s home.

In Silla there is much to be done. His Majesty Wang Jinheung has no intention of sitting idle, and has just the group of loyal men at his side to help him create the country of which he’s always dreamed. But if they get a little silly amidst changing things for the better, well, that was to be expected.

They’re the King’s Hwarang, after all.

++

Passing by the food hall is small squad heading purposefully toward the gate, Seonwoo at the lead with his determined stride. He’s often out on important missions, and takes his most trusted men with for many of them, but it’s not unusual to see the almost-king leading a bunch of new Hwarang out into the forest for training. When Ji Dwi revealed himself to be Jinheung and took his place as king, the next thing he did was name the rest of them captains of his elite team and seonsaengnim of the Hwarang, assigning them each roles in teaching the next generation.

So Seonwoo takes them out and teaches the only thing he can: how to be dog-birds. Or something like that.

On the other side of the school, Banryu’s fighting a stray breeze that’s trying to grab at the stack of scrolls and loose leaves tucked tightly under his arm. He secures them again; they’re priceless contents are not something to be taken lightly. It’s the day of the week when he teaches History to the Hwarang, and his source material comes directly from the palace library where the oldest and most valuable documents are kept. When Jinheung asked him to teach it along with Law, Banryu accepted in humbled honor.

“We need something more than just Poong Wol Joo and his unpredictable philosophy lessons,” the king stated, still with apparent affection for their teacher. The Hwarang couldn’t help agreeing.

Banryu gets the other Hwarang right before they go into class with Yeowool, assuming that one doesn’t decide to let them have free time while he combs his hair, or whatever. While he’s sort of fond of Yeowool (but will never admit it), he doesn’t quite know what to make of his sessions.

The saucy Hwarang can occasionally be found in one of the pavilions with a handful of trainees surrounding him, blatantly soaking in their attention while hopefully imparting something useful as well. Although it appears a casual setting, Jinheung has entrusted him with a particular task as well: to instruct the Hwarang on intentional observational skills, in learning to hear and see more than the average man. Who better to do this than Silla’s core of gossip himself?

It’s a position at which Suho often laughs, much to Yeowool’s chagrin.

“Just because you don’t respect my talents, hyung, doesn’t mean anything. Our handsome king clearly knows how much my insight is worth,” Yeowool defends himself one evening in their room, methodically brushing his hair while Suho goes through a series of stances in the center of the floor. He’s preparing a lesson for the next day’s class, gracefully flowing through the intricate steps with a practice sword so he can pass them on to the others. It’s a view Yeowool doesn’t mind at all.

Suho grins. “Sure, fine. If His Maj-...if Jinheung approves of it, so do I.” He’s nothing if not a loyalist.

“Besides,” Yeowool continues slyly, “if I’m not mistaken, you’re the one also teaching etiquette and dancing .”

“Those are both extremely useful and worthy things to know.”

“Then maybe we should get someone else to teach them.”

Suho spins to glare at Seonwoo, who’s grinning with mirth as he enters the room, Banryu not far behind him, chuckling. The jovial insult elicits a laugh from Yeowool as well, who puts away his comb to lounge back on the cushions.

Setting aside his practice weapon, Suho shakes his head and laughs along as well, knowing that by now it’s all in good-natured fun. They’ve been through hell together, and there’s a bond from that which goes beyond petty bickering.

Banryu blows out the candle and they all settle comfortably into their beds, the only sound being the asynchronous breathing as their bodies slowly relax. The room doesn’t feel quite as full as it should, but it’s as most home-like as it can feel, so it’s just right for them and their demanding new lives.

“Get well rested,” Seonwoo breathes quietly into the darkness, “we start early tomorrow, friends.”

With soft murmurs in reply, they fall asleep.