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Little Prince

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“Minghao,” the royal guard leader came to a stop in front of him, making the young alpha stand tall. The leader was an older alpha by a few years, but he was kind to Minghao, and helped him get out of trouble that the omega prince had gotten him into a couple times.

“Yes, Seungcheol?” Minghao asked. He saw the small beta guard, that it was no secret Seungcheol had feelings for, standing just behind him. His kind eyes a little wide, in nervousness.

“We need the prince. There's some dignitaries coming tomorrow and the queen wants to speak to him about it.” Seungcheol informed.

Minghao nodded. “Okay, I can go get him and escort him to her.”

“He wasn't in his quarters. We couldn't find him.” Seungcheol said.

Minghao almost laughed. That explained the nervous look in the beta’s eyes. He smiled, “I will find him and bring him to the queen. I have an idea where he might be.”

Seungcheol nodded and Joshua seemed to relax at Minghao’s confidence. “Please do. And let the prince know one of the dignitaries is his friend Sir Soonyoung returning home.”

“He’ll be excited.” Minghao smiled. “I will let him know.” He also noted the hint of excitement Seungcheol and Joshua both had when it came to Soonyoung being around. It meant his beta scholar would come home, who both members of the guard were fond of.

“He will.” Seungcheol smiled, and Minghao heard the hidden message that the alpha didn't speak, and so are Joshua and I.

Minghao nodded, “I will go get him then.” He bowed to the two guards and left, a laugh deep in his chest. He knew that the two guards were excited, and the fact that they knew he did made it even better. He walked through the halls, giving a bow to the staff that were higher than him as he passed them.

When he got to the astronomy tower, he walked up the spiral staircase, smelling the hints of cherry blossoms that the omega prince smelled like. The smell made his heart race even though he tried to contain it. At the top of the stairs in the large observatory, he noted the prince wasn't there, which wasn't surprising to him. He went to the small closet that had another door, opening to a staircase to the roof. He climbed up those, the smell of cherry blossoms even stronger in his nose. He walked onto the roof and saw the omega prince staring out at their home.

“I knew they'd send you to find me.” the prince smiled softly. He glanced over at his guard, “hi.”

“Hey prince.” Minghao smiled. He walked over and sat next to the prince, his smell filling his nose. “You worried Joshua and Seungcheol.”

The prince laughed, leaning on his guard. “I figured as much. I just didn't want to sit through my lesson longer.”

Minghao smiled, “I know Junhui.” He was a year younger than the prince, but they had grown up together, his father working for the king since before his birth. Once he was old enough he was trained to be a guard and assigned to Junhui as he was the only one able to find the young prince when he skipped lessons. Everyone joked that if Minghao’s family had been royalty instead of just workers for royalty, the two would end up mated. Due to their differences in social class though, it wasn’t allowed ever. Instead, the alpha became the fierce protector of his omega friend, promising that if it came down to it, he’d give his life for the prince.

“It’s just so boring. I get it, I need to know these trade deals and this ridiculous ancient history we have.” Junhui whined, making the alpha next to him laugh.

“I hardly think the history we share with Japan is ancient, Prince.” Minghao laughed.

“Okay, so we were in a war that ended like what, twenty years ago?”

“Twelve my sweet Jun.” Minghao corrected smiling. He knew it annoyed the omega, but he couldn’t help but laugh.

“Ahh, shut up. No one cares about those finer details anyways.” Junhui waved his hand.

The alpha laughed, fond of the omega. He knew it wasn’t allowed, but since they were children, he began slowly falling in love with the prince.

“Stop laughing at me, it’s not my fault you know the details of royalty better than me.” Junhui mumbled.

“Because I actually attended my studies.” Minghao teased lightly. He kissed the omega’s head, something he knew helped calm the older down.

“Show off.” Junhui pouted, but he looked up at the alpha with a smile. “So why did Joshua and Seungcheol need me?”

“Some dignitaries are coming tomorrow, and the queen asked for you.” Minghao said.

“You can just call her mother Hao,” Junhui rolled his eyes playfully. “But I don’t want to go. I know how to behave around dignitaries.”

“Soonyoung is coming with them to be home.” Minghao said, “but I’ll go inform the queen you don’t want to come.”

Junhui quickly got up, “no you will not.”

Minghao laughed at the huff Junhui let out. He got up and smiled at the omega, “and what if I do?”

“Then I’ll throw you off the roof.” Junhui threatened, but Minghao hardly felt threatened.

Minghao stepped closer, grinning at the prince. “I bet you won’t do it. You love me too much.”

Junhui laughed and gently put a hand on the alpha’s chest. “That’s a lie.”

Minghao laughed and stepped closer, “is it?”

Junhui took a step back, but didn’t realize how close to the edge he had gotten and slipped, letting out a shocked yell.

Minghao quickly caught him, wrapping his arms around the omega and pulling him closer. “Sorry Prince, that was my fault.”

“It was, you brat.” Junhui said, but there was no malice. Instead he looked up at his friend and smiled, “thank you.”

“I’ll always protect you.” Minghao smiled. He looked down at the prince’s eyes that he already memorized every detail of. How the beautiful brown was glittered with a few golden flecks, and how there always seemed to be a playful glint in his eyes.

“Come on, I should go see what my mother wants me to know about the dignitaries.” Junhui smiled.

Minghao nodded, walking with the prince to the stairs. He let Junhui go first, but followed close behind to protect him if needed.

They walked through to the queens quarters, Minghao offering his arm to Junhui and Junhui linking his arm with his, holding onto his elbow. Being in the royal guard, Minghao was supposed to walk just behind the prince, but shortly after Minghao had been assigned to him, Junhui insisted they dropped the formalities of their roles unless there was visiting royalty. They had known each other for the twenty-two years Minghao had been alive.

“You found him,” Seungcheol smiled. He bowed to the prince, “Hello prince.”

“Hi Seungcheol. Hi Joshua.” Junhui smiled at the two guards, “can you announce me to my mother please?”

“Of course.” Seungcheol nodded. He knocked on the door to the queen's area and opened the door. “Your majesty. Your son is here.”

“Ah yes. Send him in.” The queen said.

Minghao let go of Junhui’s arm and moved to be behind the prince, as he was supposed to before Seungcheol came back and nodded for him to enter.

Junhui smiled at the alpha and nodded his thanks before stepping in with Minghao behind him. He gave a small bow to the queen while Minghao behind him gave a full bow, waiting until Junhui raised before he did. “Hello mother.”

“Ahh Junhui. Come here my son.” The queen said fondly. “Come sit. Please.”

Junhui walked over and kissed his mother's cheek before sitting next to her.

Minghao stood back, staying near the door but ready if Junhui needed him. It was his place.

“So mother, Minghao told me we have dignitaries coming, which is why you called me in?” Junhui started. He glanced to his friend and waved him to come closer even though the queen didn't like the informal way the two behaved.

“Yes. Your friend Soonyoung is among them.” The queen said.

Junhui smiled at the thought of having his friend home, “so I’ve heard. He’s coming home to stay correct?”

“He is. There were some alphas that were more curious by him than he and his parents felt comfortable. Which is why I wanted to talk with you, and why I’m glad you brought your guard.”

Junhui smiled at Minghao, “come sit.”

Minghao nodded to Junhui, but still paused and looked at the queen asking her permission. She was an omega as well as her son, but he knew disrespecting her, even if he was her son’s best friend meant some kind of punishment.

“You may sit.” She nodded to him.

Minghao thanked her with a small bow and then sat next to Jun, keeping his hands neatly folded in his lap.

“So what do Minghao and I need to do for Soonyoung?” Junhui asked. He leaned further on the side closest to Minghao, relaxed by the alpha’s scent that reminded him of the outside. He smelled like a rainstorm on a beach, the sweet smell of the rain mixed with the smell of a salty ocean. He loved it.

“I need you both to look out for him. Make sure that any alphas that try to get close to Soonyoung are thoroughly examined. Minghao, I’ll assume you and Seungcheol will help with that duty.”

“Yes your highness.” Minghao nodded, “when an alpha arrives, we can make sure they have a background check and if they will be near Sir Soonyoung and the Prince, I will personally interview them myself.”

“I appreciate that Minghao. You’ve taken great care of my son, thank you.”

Minghao felt his cheeks redden and tried to calm down as he bowed his head, “it’s my pleasure your highness.”

Junhui smiled and patted the alpha’s hands under the table before looking at the queen again, “so my job?”

“To help make sure if any alpha is near him he’s taken care of, and not left alone with any.” The queen said.

“What if one that’s okay ends up asking to date?” Junhui asked.

“No. For two reasons. One, alpha’s can’t be trusted when they smell an omega’s pheromones.” The queen said.

Minghao tried not to react at that thought and looked to his lap. He was an alpha. He had been around Junhui several times when his pheromones were the strongest during his heats. Did the queen think that of him?

Junhui reached over and patted his hand again, this time taking his hand into his own, ignoring the look he got from the queen when she noticed. He didn’t care. His alpha was to be trusted.

“And second, he’s engaged.” The queen finished.

Junhui’s eyes widened. “What? To who?”

“A scholar from the North.” the queen said, “his name is Shin Hoseok.”

Junhui nodded, “oh.” The idea was weird to him, that his best friend would be engaged. Soonyoung had said long before when they were kids they were that he didn't want to marry some alpha. He had told Junhui that he dreamed of being able to marry for love, that he'd find someone he was head over heels in love with.

“He will be coming with them.” The queen said.

Junhui nodded, still shocked by the idea. “Oh. Alright.”

Minghao noticed the slight change in Junhui’s scent and squeezed his hand, wishing instead he could scent the omega, knowing it was what he needed more than a hand squeeze.

“When he comes, I need you to behave as you would for other dignitaries. His visit means more, but I’ll leave that for you to find out later.” The queen said.

Junhui looked at her confused, “what’s that supposed to mean mother?”

“You will soon see. That is all I needed from you to know. You can leave.”

“Mother.” Junhui frowned, “what aren’t you telling me?”

“Junhui, I’m not going to explain. Now you can accept that and leave or I will ask your guard to assist you in leaving.”

“Come on Jun,” Minghao said softly. “I think there’s some lessons you might be late for soon.”

Junhui was angry now, the cherry blossoms scent sour instead of the usual sweetness. He stood, making Minghao get up with him, “well thank you mother for gracing me with your presence.” He left the room with Minghao behind him and as soon as the door shut, tears filled his eyes out of anger.

“Prince, are you okay?” Joshua said softly stepping up.

Junhui nodded, waving him away.  He turned to Minghao, and with one look at the alpha, he let him know everything he wanted.

“Seungcheol, Joshua, can you let the prince’s tutors know that he’s cancelling his lessons?” Minghao said, resisting the urge to pull his friend into his arms.

Seungcheol and Joshua nodded before sharing a worried glance and leaving.

Minghao looked at the prince, “come on. Let’s go get some air.”

Junhui nodded and followed his guard through the halls until they reached the courtyards. They walked in silence until they reached a little bridge that extended over a pond. “Why is it that because I’m royalty, half of my life gets to be decided for me?”

“I don’t know Prince.” Minghao said softly. He felt horrible for his friend.

“She’s going to marry me off too. Just like I’m sure she’s marrying Soonyoung off. She’s bringing him home to get me used to the idea so when I meet this stupid alpha I have to get married to, I love it.” Junhui started crying, “I don’t want to be royal. I want to be able to do what I want, marry who I want.”

Minghao let the prince fall into his arms and held him. He nosed at Junhui’s neck, right above his scent gland, a quiet ask for permission to scent him. When Junhui gave a tiny nod, Minghao moved against the scent gland, trying to focus on relaxing and calming thoughts so he could cloud Junhui’s senses with calming pheromones. He understood Junhui’s frustration, and he wished the same for his friend.

“It's just not fair.” Junhui cried hugging Minghao, “and Soonyoung isn't even royalty! Why is he being forced to marry?”

“I don't know Prince. And I hope you'll forgive me for this, but I think it's bullshit.” Minghao said. He knew Junhui didn't mind him voicing his opinions, but he wanted to make sure the prince knew it wasn't in malice towards him.

“It really is.” Junhui whispered. He felt a little better after having Minghao’s scent covering him and let out a deep breath. “When Soonyoung gets here, we’re gonna run away. The three of us. Get out of here and get rid of our titles. Just so we can be who we want.”

Minghao smiled, knowing it was half joking, and also half wanting. “I'd follow you anywhere.”

Junhui hummed softly, staying in his arms, “why couldn’t you be royal too? Then my mother would make us get married.”

“Because, someone has to make sure you stay out of trouble.” Minghao teased gently, but in his heart he felt a pull. He wished he had been born royal too, or Junhui had been born in the same social class as him. Of all the omegas he had met, Junhui was the only one he wanted.

“Thank you Hao,” Junhui said. His voice was quiet, and his breathing had evened out. The sourness had left his scent, bringing back the sweet cherry blossom smell Minghao loved.

"Do you ever think about it?" Minghao decided to ask. He didn't want to upset Junhui and he hoped it didn't.

"Think about what? Either one of us being in each other's place?" Junhui asked.

Minghao nodded, "or us running away?"

"I have. A lot when we were kids. The only nice thing about being royal is I never got in trouble when I broke things." Junhui said.

"No, you just blamed it on me and Soonyoung." Minghao laughed softly.

"Sorry about that." Junhui giggled looking at Minghao.

Minghao gave him a playful glare, but his heart was racing at the sound of Jun's happy giggles. "I thought about it too when we were little and during my training. I wondered all the time what it would have been like, you know? Especially for me to have been able to help you more."

"You know my mother would've never let you. As it is, poor Joshua got a lecture from her on how to help me. He's scared shitless every time." Junhui said, "Seungcheol has to help him calm down every time."

Minghao nodded, "and Seungcheol doesn't like the arrangement much either." He thought of how the other alpha had blanched at the idea of Joshua helping Junhui through his heats. He had paced several times in the guards quarters, both of them being excused from their duties for the week. Minghao would be lying if he said he hadn't joined the pacing a couple times himself.

"It's stupid. If you were royal or if we were both in your social status, it wouldn't matter. I'd rather be mated to you than any other alpha." Junhui sighed. He turned and leaned on the railing, looking at the water. He watched the koi fish in the pond swim. "I hate this."

Minghao did the same and kissed Junhui's head.

"No matter what, royal or not, engaged or mated or single, you'll always have me in your life. You can't get rid of me."

Junhui nodded and leaned his head on Minghao's shoulder. "I'll be happy to keep you in my life. I don't want to get rid of you."

Minghao smiled and held his friend's hand. "I love you my little prince."

A smile fell across Junhui's face, "I love you too my big guard."

Chapter Text

Ever since he was young, Minghao knew Junhui would be important in his life. He would definitely be important to Minghao in the sense he was the prince who would someday be king, but Minghao always felt a pull to his best friend. When his parents were alive, he remembered his mother taking care of Junhui as the royal nanny, and because of it, Minghao had always been around Junhui. 

He remembered how many times he had even protected the young prince, like a time when he was four and Junhui was five. During an outing with his mother, Junhui had ran off and decided to climb a tree. When his mother and Minghao noticed, they began looking everywhere until she decided to split to find him quicker. Minghao looked everywhere he could possibly think the prince would go. When he found Junhui, the older was hanging off a branch a good ten feet off the ground, giggling and his face redder than the apple he was trying to reach.

“Ge! You’re going to fall!” Minghao yelped watching the prince.

“I’m fine. Let me just-” Junhui tried to shimmy up the branch, “get this ap-ah!” The branch wiggled and Junhui lost his balance, falling down to the ground. 

"Junhui!" Minghao ran towards him and checked him over. "Are you okay? Junnie?"

"I'm okay." Junhui pushed himself up. He whined at the feeling in his arm but sat up fully.

"Your arm." Minghao frowned. "Let me get Mama. She'll help."

"I'm fine HaoHao." Junhui shook his head. 

"You're hurt ge. Let me get Mama." Minghao insisted. He quickly went and found his mother and led her back to the prince, who was cuddling his sore arm close, a few tears on his cheeks.

"Oh little prince." His mother knelt and gently looked at his arm. "Looks like either a break or sprain. Let's get back and let the doctor look." 

Junhui nodded and let the kind nanny pick him up. 

Minghao stood next to his mother and looked at Junhui worried. 

Junhui tried smiling at his friend as they went back. His arm hurt, but having his friend there helped him feel a little better.

----

Another time Minghao remembered Junhui being so important in his life was when he was 8 and Junhui was 9. Soonyoung was there, before he had been sent away. Both of the young 9 year olds hadn’t presented yet, and Minghao’s own presentation was what seemed like far away. Soonyoung and Junhui had been goofing off in lessons that Minghao had been apart of, throwing things at others and then making paper airplanes and flying them across the room. 

They had gone unnoticed, until a paper airplane hit their instructor on the back of the head as they wrote something on the board. In a panic, the young prince and young dignitary just stared, open mouthed and scared of what would happen.

Minghao, sitting just beside Junhui knew that if the instructor knew who did it, they’d be punished and punishments usually meant something harmful that hurt. He still had a few red welts healing on his hands from when he spoke out against something a few days prior. 

The instructor turned around, their face already red. “Who threw that?”

Before any of the other few kids could rat out Junhui and Soonyoung, Minghao stood, staring at the instructor. “I did.” He glared at the other kids, daring them to say otherwise. 

“Of course.” The instructor glared. “Come on, get up here.”

“Hao,” Junhui whispered reaching for him.

Minghao gently pushed him back, “not now Junnie.” He went up to the instructor, ignoring how the other kids whispered. He stood patiently as the instructor smacked the back of his legs, thighs and back with a whip a few times. He flinched, but his eyes found Junhui's looking at his best friend as his friend winced at each smack, feeling sorry for his friend. 

When class was over and they walked back to the royal quarters, Junhui kept checking on Minghao, who walked with a limp. "Are you sure you're okay? I can explain to your mom and dad it was my fault." 

"I'm fine Junnie." The younger smiled at Junhui. "Just sore."

"Thank you for getting in trouble for us." Soonyoung thanked again. 

"Of course. It'd be worse for you two. You're expected to behave properly. I'm expected to be a wild child." Minghao said. 

Junhui nodded and gently rubbed Minghao's back by his shoulder blades, careful not to go too low and bump the welts. "I'll make sure you don't get in more trouble."

Minghao shrugged a little. "It's fine. My dad is away anyways and my mom won't punish me too severely." 

Junhui nodded and walked with his two friends. They paused hearing crying coming from the Queen's quarters. He frowned and quickly took off in a run, worried for his mother. 

Minghao and Soonyoung quickly followed, Minghao ignoring the pain he was in, more concerned with protecting Junhui. When they got to the hallway, they all three paused seeing Minghao's mother crying and hugging the queen. "Mama?" Minghao stepped closer. 

"Hao- " Junhui whispered feeling a sinking feeling in his stomach. He watched his friend's mother turned to Minghao, tears falling down her face and the mating mark on her neck an angry red. "Oh no."

"Minghao," Soonyoung said quietly trying to stop their friend.

"Your father's dead Minghao." His mother said through her tears, "oh my baby."

Minghao shook his head, pausing and stepping back. "No. You're lying."

"She isn't little one." the queen reassured.

Minghao shook his head, "no!" Without thinking about it, he turned and took off, running until the pain he was in caught up and made him stop. He had come up to the little pond where koi fish swam, unaware to the life above them, or aware and blissfully secured from it. He fell to his knees, looking into the water as it got blurry. When a tear fell into the water and rippled it slightly, the fish swam away startled but then came back and continued swimming. 

Junhui came up not long after and wrapped his arms around Minghao. "I'm here. You can cry Hao. I'm here."

Minghao fell into his friend's arms and cried. Losing his father was hard, and it was only a matter of time if his mother would make it. When someone's mate died, the percentage of those that lived long lives was small. 

"It'll be okay. I'll make sure mom takes you in. So you never have to leave. And so you're taken care of. Everything will be okay. I'm here." Junhui kept whispering. He cried with Minghao, knowing the pain the younger was going through hurt him too.

----

When Junhui was fourteen, presented as an omega and Minghao was thirteen just starting to present as an alpha, they had to deal with the longest time away from each other. Minghao's mother had died just before the year anniversary of his father dying and the queen took him in as a promise she made to Minghao's mother. It didn't make him royal but instead just gave him someone that was responsible for him. She had him go to lessons similar to Junhui's, train with some of the royal guard, and learn how to behave in front of dignitaries. Everything except take care of Junhui when the prince presented as an omega. 

Now, since Minghao was presenting as an alpha, she was sending him away for a little under a year to train as a member of the royal guard.

"I don't want you to go." Junhui whispered hugging Minghao.

"I'll be back soon, your highness." Minghao said softly as he held the omega in his arms. Junhui was still slightly bigger than him, something Minghao didn't like as much, especially with being an alpha. 

Junhui made a face, wrinkling his nose at the name. "Don't call me that in private. We've known each other for way too long to be formal."

Minghao laughed softly. The smell of cherry blossoms that was sweet filling his nose, something he was still getting used to as an alpha, but he didn't mind. He loved how sweet Junhui smelled. He loved the prince. "I'll be back before you know it Junnie. Just don't get into too much trouble while I'm gone. I won't be able to get you out of it as easy."

Junhui smiled, “of course I’ll try not to. I won’t have you or Soonie here.”

Minghao had to resist brushing back Junhui’s hair to comfort him. Instead, he offered a gentle smile. “You’ll have Joshua and Seungcheol though.”

Junhui nodded, “won’t be the same Hao.”

“I promise I’ll be home soon.” Minghao whispered. “Less than a year.”

Junhui nodded.

“Minghao, time to leave.” The guard member who would be in charge of Minghao’s training interrupted.

Minghao looked over and saw the queen standing not far behind with Joshua and Seungcheol behind her. He nodded and looked at Junhui, “see you in a year my prince.”

“I’ll write you.” Junhui promised. He squeezed Minghao’s hand and then the younger turned to follow the guard member.

Minghao bowed to the queen and waited until she excused him before leaving. He glanced back to see the young omega prince watching him with tears in his eyes. The year would feel like a lifetime away from him.

----

When Minghao came back after his training, he stood taller, proud of who he was and accepting it more than he had when he first presented. He felt like an alpha worthy of an omega’s attention, worthy of his omega’s attention. 

As he walked towards the waiting queen and omega prince, Minghao held himself carefully, hoping to not embarrass himself in front of the prince he had missed so much. He bowed deeply in front of the royalty, waiting until the queen spoke.

“Minghao, how great to have you back. How was the training?” the queen asked.

“I learned a lot while I was gone,” Minghao said softly, “thank you for the opportunity to do so your majesty.”

The queen gave a satisfied hum and nodded, “I’d like to stay and catch up, but I have a few duties to tend to. Join us for dinner?”

“I’d be honored to.” Minghao said bowing again. He waited until the queen left with the few servants until it was just him, Joshua, and Seungcheol. When he raised up again, he was met with teary eyes and a proud smile on his best friend’s face.

“You’re back.” Junhui smiled.

“I told you I’d come back for you my prince.” Minghao smiled. He glanced at the other two guard members who were watching with proud smiles on their faces. When they realized what Minghao wanted, they acted as if something behind them needed their attention and turned away. When they did, Minghao quickly wrapped the prince in his arms. The letters he got while he was away were great, but none of them compared to being wrapped up in the sweet cherry blossom scent that Junhui held. None of them felt as satisfying as the feeling Minghao got in the pit of his stomach as he finally got to hold the prince.

“I missed you so much.” Junhui whispered.

“I missed you too.” Minghao whispered back. He nudged against Junhui’s chin and waited as the prince lifted his chin, exposing his neck to the young alpha. Then, with the prince’s permission he scented Junhui with the smell he had found out was his own, the smell of a salty ocean in the rain. It reminded him of the beach he’d go sit at with the letters from Junhui to read, away from the other training members.

“It’s not fair you got a really cool smell.” Junhui whined softly as they broke apart.

Minghao laughed, “I like yours more.” 

Junhui smiled and began to scent Minghao until the younger smelled like the prince, “there. Now you can smell it while I can smell yours.”

“I like that.” Minghao smiled. Once he felt properly reunited with the prince, they got Seungcheol and Joshua, the older members of the guard coming over to congratulate Minghao and tell him how proud they were. No matter what they said though, Minghao knew there was only one person that could be the most proud, and he stood watching with a smile on his face and eyes following him so much he felt like the fluttery feeling in his stomach would never go away.

----

Junhui became even more important to Minghao a week later. The prince had a ceremony that was tradition for each young royal to choose a member of the royal guard to protect them and be their personal assistant. The guard member wouldn’t leave the royal’s side and protect them with their very last breath.

Minghao stood in a line with Seungcheol and Joshua on either side of him, other royal guard members anxiously waiting with them. Seungcheol and Joshua would later admit to Minghao though that they wondered why they were so anxious when it was painstakingly obvious who the young omega would choose.

“As the next omega king, I choose Xu Minghao to be my royal guard.” Junhui said to the group of people anxiously waiting. It was mostly those who worked within the grounds, but some of the people they ruled came, anxious to hear the news.

Minghao didn’t move at first, and felt Seungcheol and Joshua gently push him forward. Then, he slowly made his way to the prince and bowed in front of him. He knew without looking that the omega was looking at him proudly, and he could feel the tips of his ears warm. He was sure that his face and ears would be a bright red when he stood fully again.

“Go ahead and stand.” Junhui said softly. When Minghao did, he smiled even brighter than Minghao ever could think the young omega could. His heart flipped inside his chest and already he knew what he felt for his best friend was more than just friends. 

"Thank you." Minghao whispered. He knew Junhui would always be an important part of his life. No matter where life took them. 

----

Since that day, Minghao had been the one to protect Junhui, even if it meant protection from small things, like the spider in the bathroom that surprised Junhui. Or if his instructors were upset the young prince had disappeared again and didn't want to go to his lessons. He became the shoulder for Junhui to cry on, his confidant even more than before, and Junhui had become more than important in his life. At some point, the small feeling of love had evolved, and now Minghao was so in love with Junhui he was sure it was obvious to anyone who saw them, and that he could never love anyone more.

Chapter Text

Waiting for dignitaries to arrive made Junhui nervous. Even though one of them was his best friend, the idea that his mother had some kind of plan made the visit hard. After anxiously sitting through a beta doing his makeup and getting him dressed, Minghao quickly rescued him. 

"How long do we have until they arrive?" Minghao looked at Seungcheol who had been following the two around with Joshua to help make sure they were okay.

"An hour or so." Seungcheol said. 

Minghao nodded, "come get us from the astronomy tower fifteen minutes before. Jun needs a little bit to calm down."

Seungcheol nodded as Joshua gently hugged the omega. 

"It'll be okay. I promise." Joshua whispered. 

Junhui nodded, accepting the warm hug before linking arms with Minghao and leaving. He was silent but held onto Minghao tightly, taking slow deep breaths. Something he had done as a child to help calm down when he got too excited that still worked then. 

"He's right." Minghao said gently as they climbed the tower stairs. 

Junhui nodded, already going to the secret staircase. "I don't want to meet whoever my mother wants me to marry. As soon as Soonyoung gets here we should run away. Bring Joshua, Seungcheol, and Jeonghan too so they can be together."

Minghao smiled as he followed Junhui. "They don't have the same limitations you do Junnie."

"But my mother wouldn't allow a three person relationship. Which is why when I'm king that's going to change. They love each other." Junhui huffed sitting down carefully. He looked out to the sky and sighed. "Being royal is stupid."

Minghao sat next to him and held his hand, "it is, but if anyone were fit to be royal, you definitely are it Jun. You're kind and loyal, and you have a heart of gold."

Junhui smiled at the compliments and leaned into Minghao, "you'd make a great king too. You're fair, and stern when you need to be, but you're so gentle too."

"It's cause how small I am." Minghao referred to his size difference from the prince.

"No. Not true. I've seen you with the babies in the nursery. If I have a heart of gold, you have one of silver, much more rare and valuable." Junhui smiled at his guard. 

"So you have been paying attention in your lessons." Minghao joked. 

"I will shove you off this roof." Junhui teased. 

"Cause that worked so well last time." Minghao grinned.

Junhui shook his head with a small smile before carefully turning and laying his head on the alpha’s lap. He let out a sigh and closed his eyes. “Thank you.”

“For what?” Minghao asked before gently running his fingers through the prince’s hair.

“Being here for me. Understanding.”

“It’s my job.” Minghao said softly.

“No, your job is to protect me. Being my friend isn’t your job.” Junhui looked at the guard member. “Thank you. I don’t know what I would do without you.”

“Probably have a different guard member.” Minghao whispered.

Junhui opened his eyes and glared at him with a small smirk before punching him lightly. “Shut up.”

Minghao laughed and just leaned down and kissed his forehead. “Sorry prince.”

Junhui blushed but relaxed again at his touch. He closed his eyes and hummed softly. Things would be okay. Sure, his life as a royal was different than he would’ve ever wanted, but he had his best friend, and he would have Soonyoung home again. Things would be okay.

--------

Junhui fidgeted while he stood just behind his mother. He was anxious, and having to stand in a formal way never helped. Behind him, Minghao stood, and he was just far enough back that he couldn’t touch Junhui, making the omega even more nervous. Joshua and Seungcheol also stood close by, noticing how anxious Junhui was, but also full of nerves themselves.

“Don’t forget to breath my prince,” Minghao whispered, taking a small step forward. He didn’t touch the prince, but the whispered reminder was enough and helped Junhui calm a little.

Junhui watched as the dignitaries finally arrived and began making their way to the queen and himself. He searched through, looking for his friend, and when he saw the other omega, he smiled. 

Soonyoung almost gave a little wave, but with a sharp glare from his mother that stood next to him, he stopped himself. Instead, he stayed behind her and bowed to the queen and prince as they got closer. When he bowed, he looked up at Junhui and grinned, showing the prince how excited he was to be back.

“Welcome back my friends.” The queen greeted. “Sir Soonyoung, it’s good to see you again.”

“You as well your highness,” Soonyoung smiled. Behind him, a very excited beta was calmly waiting and watching, hoping for a moment to disappear with the two very excited guards behind Junhui and Minghao. “Thank you for welcoming us back.”

The queen nodded and began talking to Soonyoung’s mother, so Junhui took a step up to his friend and smiled.

“It’s good to have you back Soonie.” Junhui grinned. He hated formalities, and even with other visiting dignitaries, he’d talk to his friend normally. 

“It’s good to be back.” Soonyoung smiled. He nodded to Minghao who stayed behind Junhui, a silent recognition of the guard, but anything else would have to wait.

“Junhui, come here and meet the other visiting dignitaries.” The queen said.

Junhui smiled at Soonyoung before walking over to his mother and the other dignitaries. He dipped his head in respect to them and waited as they bowed to him. He relaxed when he could smell Minghao’s scent get close again, the younger moving behind him again.

“This is Yanan. He’s a prince too.” The queen introduced Junhui to the tall alpha that stood across from him. His hair was a light brown color, and he had kind eyes. Uneasiness sat in his stomach though at the mention of the other’s royalty. He knew what would be coming in the next few weeks.

“Pleasure to meet you,” Junhui managed giving a small bow out of respect.

“Pleasure is all mine.” Yanan’s voice was soft as he gently took Junhui’s hand and lifted it to his lips in a soft kiss.

Behind Junhui, Minghao shifted uneasily from one foot to the other. He looked away, meeting the eyes of an alpha that stood behind Yanan. HIs face had a stern look on it, and questioning as if he was trying to figure Minghao out. Minghao held his gaze for a moment before he heard Junhui mention his name.

“...He’s my royal guard. Minghao, this is Yanan.”

“As I heard.” Minghao quickly gave a deep bow and waited until Yanan let him stand again, instead he was surprised that the other prince had bowed to him in respect too.

“Nice to meet you Minghao.” Yanan said with a small smile when they stood again. He stepped to the side and gestured behind him, “this is Jiacheng, my guard. And Yuto, he’s one of my scholars.”

Minghao noted a different tone in Yanan’s voice but quickly shoved the thought to the back of his mind while he gave Jiacheng and Yuto a small bow. “Pleasure.”

“Same,” Jiacheng said. His stare hadn’t softened, but instead he seemed to watch Minghao even closer.

Next to him, Yuto stood, quiet and standing back enough that he wasn’t in the way. He watched Yanan carefully, and Minghao wondered if there was more than just a student-scholar relationship.

“There are a few others that are coming too, they just have been delayed a little.” Yanan explained.

Junhui nodded, “well I’m glad you all made it safely.” He glanced at Minghao and smiled, “do you see Jihyo? I was going to ask her to show them around and to their rooms.”

Minghao nodded and went to find the young beta, having Seungcheol take his place behind Junhui to protect him. When he found her, he explained what Junhui wanted before the two went back. When he saw how the queen looked at Yanan and Junhui talking, he knew. The queen meant to marry Junhui to Yanan.

--------

“Hao,” Junhui said, making the younger look up from the book he was reading. It was just him, Junhui and Soonyoung as the two caught up while Soonyoung had dismissed his beta to go ahead and do as he pleased and Junhui had done the same for Seungcheol and Joshua. 

“Yes Junnie?” Minghao asked. He saw the smile Junhui had and wanted to groan. 

“Will you see if you can convince the cook to send food for Soonie and I?” Junhui smiled. He tilted his head slightly, “please?”

“You could just tell me if you wanted to talk privately.” Minghao teased as he got up.

“Oh I would. But we’re also hungry.” Junhui smiled.

“You’re the best alpha around Minghao!” Soonyoung teased. Once he had found out that Minghao had presented as an alpha, he took every opportunity to tease the younger, much like he had done when they were kids.

Minghao flipped him off, smiling fondly as he left. Behind him, the sound of Soonyoung and Junhui laughing followed. He found another guard and had them stand by the door before he left for the kitchens. Part of him wondered what the two omegas were discussing, but he knew it wasn’t his place, and that the two would tell him if they wanted him to know.

“Ahh Minghao,” the cook smiled at the young alpha. She was an older beta who had been friends with his mom and had a soft spot for the prince and young guard.

“Hi Shuhui. Prince Jun was wondering if you could give me some food to bring over for him and Sir Soonyoung.” Minghao smiled, bowing in respect to the older.

“The queen said to expect them at dinner. Is that the plan still?” Shuhui asked.

“It is. They’re just wanting something to snack on mostly, and Soonyoung missed your cooking.” Minghao gave her a smile, hoping it would work.

Shuhui laughed fondly and ruffled Minghao’s hair, “oh sweet little one. That lie has never worked for you dear ones. But, if it’s what they’re wanting I’ll get it for them. Anything specific?”

“Not that I know of. Just a few of their favorites, and something healthy for them of course.” Minghao said, smiling. He loved how the cook adored the three of them, it made asking for food easier.

"Just give me one moment my dear one. I have to get some tea made and I will be more than happy to get it." Shuhui smiled. When Minghao nodded that it was fine, she turned and began getting the tea made. 

Minghao walked to a wall where several shelves were built in. On those shelves were cookbooks from several places that Shuhui’s mate had gotten for her as she travelled with dignitaries and royalty. A sign of their love. Minghao wondered what it was like to have a mate that thought of you whenever they traveled, that bought gifts for you because they made them think of you. He wondered what it would be like to be able to be Junhui's mate, and he hoped whoever earned the pleasure loved his prince like he deserved.

The sound of one of the doors slamming open made Minghao quickly turn and assess where the cook was and the person coming in. 

"How do long does it take for someone to get some fucking tea around here? Is the staff always so incompetent?" A taller, and much bigger alpha yelled.

Minghao still made his way over and stood between them and Shuhui. "Who are you?"

"I believe the question is who are you? I'm a dignitary you brat." The person said. 

Minghao wanted to hit them but instead stayed calm. "I apologize. I didn't know."

Before he could fully bow Shuhui stopped him. "Don't bow. He isn't a dignitary yet. Just an esteemed soldier." The beta glared at the bigger alpha. "Water takes time to boil. I also have a request from the prince. So unless you want to do it yourself, sit back and be patient. You just asked for tea a few moments ago."

Minghao watched as the person glared at Shuhui and moved so he could protect her again. "Is there going to be an issue? I'm sure the queen won't appreciate you abusing her staff."

"And who the hell are you?" The man glared at Minghao.

"Someone with very close connections that could get you banished. Now, will there be any issues? I don't appreciate how you're treating our cook." Minghao tried to use a voice that was authoritative, but he was sure it was still soft and gentle.

"No." They glared at Shuhui before leaving, slamming the door again as they left.

"Slamming doors is very rude, you uneducated prick." Minghao said glaring at the closed door for a moment. He looked at Shuhui, his expression quickly softening and concern in his eyes. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine my little one. Thank you." Shuhui smiled. She went and began working again. "That was Shin Hoseok." 

"Oh. You said he's not a dignitary yet." Minghao said. 

She nodded, "he's engaged to Sir Soonyoung."

Minghao frowned, "our Soonyoung? The one talking to the prince?"

Another nod.

"He's not right for Soonyoung. Soonyoung needs someone more patient and kind. Someone not so hot headed." Minghao frowned. "He knows Hoseok is engaged to him right?"

"He does. And as I'm sure he's telling our prince right now, he isn't happy about it." When she saw Minghao's look she gave a sad smile, "Jeonghan, Joshua, and Seungcheol came for food an hour ago and shared some info."

Minghao sighed. "Poor Soonyoung."

"I know. It's unfortunately a price to pay for being royal and a dignitary." She handed Minghao a tray, "make sure our boys eat well. There's a few extra treats as well, and enough for you." 

Minghao nodded. "Thank you." He gave her a small bow to which she just smiled fondly and sent him on his way. 

The walk back to Junhui's room, Minghao thought of Hoseok being with Soonyoung. He couldn't imagine it. The alpha was too hot headed. Soonyoung needed someone kind, and patient, someone that wouldn't let titles get in the way, much like Soonyoung already did.

"There's our wonderful alpha!" Junhui smiled when Minghao walked in.

Minghao smiled a little at his friends. “Here’s some food.”

“Are you okay?” Junhui asked getting up. He went over and took the food from his friend and set it on the small table.

Minghao nodded, “I’m fine Jun.”

The omega frowned and leaned closer, not liking the heavy smell of the salty ocean and rain coming from his friend that usually was very light. He waited until the alpha tilted his chin, allowing the prince to scent him, adding a light sweet smell of cherry blossoms to flood the guard’s senses.
Soonyoung waited and when the prince moved, he did the same, offering his frosted cranberry scent into the mix. When he finished he gave Minghao’s hand a gentle squeeze. 

Minghao smiled at the two omegas, grateful for them. “Thank you.”

“We love you Hao.” Jun said softly. He rubbed Minghao’s arm gently, “talk to me later?”

Minghao nodded and gave the prince a smile.

“Good. Now come on. We have a lot to fill Soonie in on.” Junhui smiled, “and Shuhui’s food smells so good.”

Minghao smiled and joined them in their previous sitting arrangement except he was in the middle, and Junhui leaned on him while Soonyoung was close but gave him space. It was just another reminder of how close he and Junhui were, and it helped distract him from his encounter in the kitchen to have his little prince curled up into his side.