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hold me, trust me.

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Prince Yifan strolls under the dark. He can travel through the shadows but tonight, he wants to appreciate the coldness of midnight air. The trains have stopped functioning so he takes his sweet time strolling along the Seoul subway. His cousin who resided in this country long ago has told him that crimes here are the highest. Rape, robbery and fights are common to those who missed their stop.


In other words, it is the perfect time to find food.


He keeps heading to an endless path, hands stuffed in his coat pockets, spotting homeless people who are sleeping on the ground through his journey. Thinking about tomorrow’s flight, his shoulders sag. Even though he and his mother will be taking the family’s private jet, they still have to spend hours doing nothing. He wishes he can just fly to Guangzhou but his mother would not be fond of it at all.


“You’d be exposed, son. Humans’ tech is advancing way faster than you think,” She explained when he asked the reason. So after telling her he will be having late dinner and returning to their residence before sunrise, he cannot wait to taste sweet blood on his tongue. Yifan has never fed off any humans’ blood from this country during their previous visits because his mother said there are eyes everywhere.


Yifan needs to be as clean as possible with his food.


He recalls the main reason why they are in this foreign country. It is his father’s death anniversary in South Korea the night before. He died in the hospital due to excessive blood loss from a head injury. Well, that is just for a cover for the public. Only his kind know the truth behind King Wu’s death. His father was found dead with a stake to his heart in his vehicle on the way home after attending a meeting with his kind in Seoul.


A group of humans have assassinated him.


Yifan has already tracked and killed them all without mercy, leaving no traces of the murderers behind. Unfortunately, his mother was downright disappointed with his actions because they do not even know who sent them to kill the King. Until today, Yifan is working on it on his own. His coronation will be held at his birthplace next year on his late father’s birthday. He hopes to complete the mystery by then.


He does not want his mother to take any part of this. He does not want her to join the mess. He has let her know he wants to do the job properly this time for her sake. She greatly understood. “Your lovely stepbrother won’t save you now, huh?” Yifan stops on his tracks, concealing himself under the shadows after hearing an enraged voice from afar. His senses point out two to three steady heartbeats and only one racing out of fear.


“How dare you called us out during dinner, hm? Thought we won’t know?”


Yifan hears a sob and a feeble plea. He has learned Korean from his hometown and the extra lessons from his annoying cousin remarkably helped a lot to understand the language even better. “We have ears everywhere, Junmyeon. How can you not know even after years of living?” He slithers forward to the commotion, his face impassive. He wonders who the guy in trouble is. He sounds like he came from an opulent family.


“He looks pretty when he cries.”


“Pretty? More like pathetic. Can’t believe he’s the bastard of a lowlife!”


“Shows it on his pretty face though. Won’t you love it if the public found out about your origin, Prince Junmyeon?”


Yifan frowns by the usage of the title. What is a prince doing here in the middle of the night? He trudges closer until he spots three heads facing the supposed illegitimate child of the lowlife, as stated by the three humans. Once he gets a clear picture of the prince under the only source of light, the sudden need to protect and the uncontrollable desire to kill the humans are unbearable. Not feed but kill, kill, kill


Yifan’s head spins by the temptations so he shakes it away to control himself. Strange. Absolutely strange. He has never felt like this before. He takes a look at the prince again. Glazy eyes… Tear-stricken cheeks… Soft-looking lips… Yifan blinks. He is certain he has never paid attention to anyone like that before. “Who’s there?!” One of the humans shout towards his direction. “Come out! Don’t be a coward!” Yifan chuckles deeply because he cannot help it.


Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic. It is the humans who are being scaredy-cats by not advancing. He can hear all of their hearts speeding ridiculously, including the prince. Still under the shadows, Yifan feels odd once the other prince’s eyes connect with his. He ignores it though as he shows himself, his expression still the same. Unimpressed. The surprise on the three humans’ faces is amusing though.


“You… You must be…”


“Your Highness—”


“That’s not him! Stop talking and attack!”


Yifan glowers at them with irritation. He ventured outside tonight to find food, not getting into fights. As he throws a glance at the prince, Yifan does not understand why he feels relieved once he notes the prince’s heart is beating calmly now. His senses are high on alert as a swing of a pipe is going to reach his head from the side. He easily grabs it before it can touch his hair. Yifan seizes the human’s arm before twisting it without pity, earning a wonderful cry of pain.


Another one tries to ambush him from behind. Yifan swiftly turns around, pushing the human he is holding towards the other, causing them to fall on the ground with loud painful grunts. After making sure they are unable to get up, his vision land on the prince again. He strides towards the other like a magnet. The prince blanches with extreme fear, pressing himself against the dirty wall, praying he will be alive.


Yifan listens to the short male’s heart which is pumping wildly. He cannot distinguish any sort of danger from the other once he is situated right in front of him. Locking his eyes with the short prince, the other seems to do the same. The shorter does not seem to recognize him at the moment due to the poor lighting. Yifan’s head cocks to a side as he feels so, so strange. He feels calm, at peace and also glad all at once.


He has never felt like this before in his whole life.


“Your… Your eyes…”


Yifan cannot seem to perceive a single thing for a moment once the prince’s smooth velvety voice reaches his ears. He does not want to move away at all. His soul, where he never knew he has one, demands to be closer with the other. A gruff grunt involuntarily slips out of Yifan’s mouth, his hand coming up fast to settle on the wall beside the shorter male’s shoulder, hunching his back by the acute pain from behind.


At the exact moment, a soft gasp is heard next to his ear. Yifan has forgotten about the other human. The jerk has stabbed into his back with a knife. Blood soaks fast into his white shirt before it drips thickly, colouring the ground with dark crimson. He stables himself, trying not to lean against the other prince’s chest. He is strong and he knows it but something in the back of his head tells him it is okay to give in, to be weak for once.


“You… Bleeding…”


The male in front of him has a great chance to escape but he does not move an inch. Instead, he sounds concerned. Yifan does not comprehend why he feels so angry until he wants to kill. That feeling returns and he does not think about stopping this time. His gums itch greatly just like always before his fangs reach his lower lip. Spinning around, he pounces on the human with a suffocating grip around the throat before dragging him into the shadows where he hid earlier.


Yifan blocks the thrashing human’s airway after pinning him to the ground. The human tries to free himself which is ineffective. A smirk appears on Yifan’s face and the human underneath him nearly loses his breath at the sight of the sharp teeth. Yifan wastes no time. He digs his fully grown fangs into the protruding pulse on his to-be victim’s neck. He loves the part where his food will always, always, scream. It is such a graceful sound to hear.


Junmyeon listens everything in silence.


How the tall male stared at him. How his orbs were in red. How they glowed a bright scarlet before he turned around and… Killing his servant. There is a creature right there under the shadows but Junmyeon cannot seem to run away. He steps forward instead. His legs start to shake and his steps are wobbly as he listens to the unpleasant slurping noises. He thought ‘they’ are only a myth.


They are real.


They exist.


His servant stops screaming. Junmyeon assumes he has died. He wants to see one of the faces who has tormented him for being born for one last time as he nears the shadows. Just then, a pair of red irises in the darkness meet his, causing Junmyeon’s feet to be glued to the ground. His heart palpitates. He has not been meaning to interrupt the man from what he was doing


“Run,” The baritone voice with a thick accent commands. Junmyeon’s whole being shivers. He takes a timid step ahead, his voice shaking, “The… T-The knife… On your back…” Junmyeon blinks and a whoosh of air passes by both sides of his head, the strands of his brown hair fluttering slightly. He peers up to the tall male’s red eyes who is merely an inch close to him. He swallows by the proximity.


Turning his attention to the right, the taller is gripping onto the edge of the pipe where Junmyeon’s other servant threatened to hit him earlier with it. On his left, Junmyeon can only see the taller male’s extended arm but when he catches the sound of bones cracking, he does not even think about taking a glimpse behind. He picks up the guts to look at the man again. 


Blood drips down the male’s chin, some smeared across the thick lips. Junmyeon’s breath gets stuck in his throat when fangs are peeking between the taller’s mouth. “Run.” Junmyeon raises his gaze to the latter’s eyes. They are still red but now, they are glowing. Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. When Yifan drops the other human to the side after breaking his windpipe, he watches as the short prince keeps staring.


It is uncanny because he does the exact thing too.


But they cannot be like this forever.


Just when he is about to tell him to run again, the shorter male says something unexpected. “I will not tell anyone.” Yifan does not trust that but he does not understand why he wants to believe this prince. His expression is stiff just like usual when he nods, slowly backing away to the shadows. As he watches the prince taking glances behind him on his way out, Yifan has a hunch he will meet him again soon.




His mother has varied reactions after Yifan told her about everything. They are in their private jet to Guangzhou. “Will you think I’ve gone mad when I say my heart actually beat once?” Lady Wu simply aims a sharpened gaze at him but Yifan does not blench at all. Instead, he stories everything about what and how he felt after meeting the prince. His mother’s visage does not change one bit as she announces, “Yifan, son. You’ve found your soulmate.” He blinks confusedly.


“That’s how I felt when I first met your father. The fight yesterday was bound to happen. Fate has made you two meet.”


A human as his soulmate?




Absolutely ridiculous.


“But Mother—”


“It’s time for you to know the important things I never thought I’ll be discussing with you. We’ll talk about this during dinner. Your cousin will be joining us.”


Yifan grumbles inwardly by the mention of the guest. Leaning his back against the seat while squinting at the morning sky, he misses the small smile from his mother as she drinks her bloody tea. Yifan has buried the three humans’ bodies deep in the forest yesterday. He sure had a fulfilling dinner. A frown comes on his forehead as he thinks about the prince. Why was he even there?


Was it fate?


Is that why the prince was not petrified of him even though the other knew what he is?


Yifan has never met a human like this before. The short prince was not even afraid of him even though his heart was beating a mile a minute. He even reminded him about the knife on his back. If the shorter only knew he can heal himself. He does not like where this is going but whatever it is, he has to face it. He is the future King. He has to be as wise as his father. As much as he does not like his annoying cousin, he anticipates for dinner.




Yifan cannot believe this.


He will not accept this.


He does not want to marry the prince.


He is centuries young and his goal has not been fulfilled yet.


Moreover, the prince is a fucking human.


“If you aren’t accepting what fate has given you, prepare for the consequences, son.”


Yifan glares at the half-moon above which is shining half of its power. The garden full of red roses under him which belongs to his mother basks under the gentle moonlight. He is not fond of flowers. It is for girls. But unknown to him, he will always end up gazing them from the balcony of his room, the flowers giving him peace. His mother did not explain everything in detail which frustrates the poor prince.


What does she even mean by consequences?


Surprisingly, his cousin was quiet during the whole talk. He was not helpful at all. Yifan senses the presence of his kind approaching. “Why the long face?” Yifan does not want to talk right now. His cousin who has almost equal height lands on the concrete ledge with his feet gracefully, slipping out a silly little giggle where Yifan hates hearing it, “Of all princes, why him, hm? The mortal one? Is that what you’re thinking?”


Yifan shoots the standing male a death glare. Zitao puts both of his hands in the air, “Relax, brother. Can’t help it when you’re too easy to read.” The tallest among the two hold in the urge from strangling the young prince. When it is just two of them, formalities are long forgotten. “Better accept fate no matter what you do. You’ll regret it if you don’t, brother.” Yifan stares at the male who is now seated on the ledge of the balcony, his legs dangling in the air.  


“I have things to do. It’s more important than having a soulmate.”


Zitao simply shrugs his shoulders after sending him a look of sympathy, “You won’t understand it now.” Yifan has had enough. His cousin is talking as if the latter is way older than him and he is offended. His mother or Zitao should have told him the consequences of not accepting a soulmate or they should not have told him about the matter at all. Yifan startles Zitao by locking his inner elbow around his neck from behind.


He then hauls his cousin down on the ground, the younger one thrashing in his hold not because he cannot breathe but because the elder prince will probably drop him on the hard ground. “Can either of you just fucking tell me what will happen if I don’t accept him as my soulmate already,” He demands, never leaving his firm hold from Zitao. “Y-You’ll get sick. Very s-sick. Now let me free!” Yifan does let him go but not without a rumble of laughter.


Zitao rubs his neck with his palms as he watches the laughing prince with bafflement mixed with confusion. He then frowns, feeling the anger rushing in as Yifan keeps on laughing, “I told you the truth you wanted to know that much.” Yifan wipes the corners of his eyes as he exhales loudly. It has been a while he had a nice laugh. He gives a mad grin to his enraged cousin, “We don’t get sick, Zitao. We’re immortals.”


The younger one’s frown deepens. He cannot believe the elder does not trust him. No wonder Lady Wu has passed the duty to him. Prince Yifan is such an asshole. “You think this is a joke?” Yifan nods without delay, wearing the usual poker face he has on. “Everything is a joke to you, isn’t it?” Yifan scoffs this time. Zitao is right in front of him in the speed of light. Yifan does not even budge.


Zitao goes eye level, speaking from the bottom of his cold dead heart, “We have only one soulmate once in our long lives, brother. We’re tied to them even if they’re not from our kind. Consider yourself lucky that you’ve found your soulmate.” Yifan only snorts before he views the moon while shooing his cousin with a gesture of his hand, “He’s not my soulmate and I’m never accepting him as one.” Zitao adjusts his robes angrily before leaving, not forgetting to give the taller the meanest look where Yifan does not seem to realize at all, “You’ll see.”




A couple of months pass by.


Just like every other night, Prince Junmyeon is standing by the balcony of his room in his violet silk robes, the moonlight of the full moon somehow giving him peace of mind. Ever since his encounter with Prince Yifan, who he finally recognized only after reaching the mansion, he could not have a decent sleep. Junmyeon kept his promise. He did not tell anyone about the prince’s true identity.


Prince Yifan has saved his life so he owes him a huge debt. No one has questioned him about the missing servants. Lady Kim, who is also known as the Queen, is recruiting new ones and Junmyeon has little hope they will be better than the previous ones. A cough behind startles the living daylights out of him. Junmyeon turns around so fast until his head is dizzy for a moment. None of his servants will be this polite to show their presence.


They will usually barge in and call him nasty names until Junmyeon cries himself to sleep.


His eyes are wide when he spots an outline of a tall lean figure under the shadows between his room and the balcony. It is moving. Someone is here. Whatever it is, that is not his servant. Junmyeon reverses and his back hits the concrete ledge of the balcony. His palms are flat on it as he witnesses the figure emerging forward thanks to the moonlight. His heart pumps with ultimate speed until Junmyeon wonders will it jump out of his chest.


Is this someone going to end his life?


Has his stepmother had enough of him in the mansion?


Junmyeon cannot even find his voice to scream—


“I am not going to hurt you.”


The voice has a thick accent and it is deep and it is somehow…




Very familiar.


Junmyeon thinks he is dreaming so he pinches his arm. He winces. It hurts. He is not dreaming. This is happening for real. Fixing his gaze on the faded figure, he takes a few brave steps forward until he is right in front of the shadows. Junmyeon recognizes the tall stature. “You…” Junmyeon smiles wide by the appearance of Prince Yifan in a black trench coat with a black turtleneck inside.


His smile drops so soon when something seems off about him. Junmyeon does not recall seeing a very colourless Prince Yifan from their previous encounter. The tall prince’s cheeks have also sunken terribly. There are even dark circles under his eyes. His hair is long and unkempt, some strands covering his wide handsome forehead. Junmyeon does not want to say this so he says it in his head instead.


Prince Yifan looks like a living corpse.


“You are sick…”


His hand rises naturally to the other male’s face but when the tall prince glares at it, Junmyeon drops it to his side in an instant. Feeling intimidated, he returns to his spot, Yifan trailing behind him unhurriedly. “Was I disturbing you, Prince Junmyeon?” Yifan has to admit. He does feel kind of better at the sight of his… Soulmate. It is true. He has accepted Prince Junmyeon is his soulmate for life.


The day after he fought with his mother and Zitao, he has gotten terribly ill. It was exactly as Zitao informed him of. He was getting even worse as days pass by. “Once you’ve found the one, you can’t escape fate. If you do, fate will punish you,” Zitao warned him for one last time so Yifan changed his mind by his piece of advice. His cousin was the one who took care of him when his mother was away.


He is also the one who helped Yifan to schedule their flight. Yifan is only able to travel through the shadows here thanks to the full moon. “Not at all, Prince Yifan. You… Um, you do not seem to look in a good shape…” The velvety voice sounds like music to his ears. Yifan does not have a clue how he can even feel this way. “Do I?” Junmyeon nods as he watches the taller with intent eyes.


“I will be good in no time after this,” Yifan ogles the dark sky where a bright circle is shining proudly. Junmyeon copies his action, still standing by his side, smiling, “That is good to hear.” Yifan peers at the person next to him in secret, wondering why he feels so… Undeniably content. It feels nice but it is such a foreign feeling. “Are you not cold?” Junmyeon looks down and heat floods his cheeks instantly.


He is in his sleeping attire!


How can he be dressed to unabashedly in front of a prince?!


“Um, please do wait here—”


A soft breeze caresses his face and then, Junmyeon feels warm. He lifts his head only to see Prince Yifan being so close, having a firm expression as the latter adjusts the coat on his shoulders. “You do not have to return it.” Junmyeon has to look away because he is blushing, “T-Thank you, Prince Yifan.” The taller does not say anything as he continues gazing at the full moon, having a safe distance between them.


Junmyeon clutches the coat tightly within his grasp, biting down a wide smile as he does the same, eyes fixed on the white circle in the sky. Glancing down to his soft slippers, he holds in his breath as he moves closer. Junmyeon is startled when the prince suddenly speaks, “I cannot be here for too long.” Junmyeon’s face falls by that. “I will see you again, Prince Junmyeon.” He cannot control the sadness on his face as the taller male simply heads back to the shadows where he appeared earlier.


Sprinting towards the tall prince, he grabs his hand. Yifan twirls so fast, surprised by the foreign touch. He looks at the shorter before down to their hands. So small… “When— May I know when you will see me again?” Yifan wants to snatch his hand away but the warmth feels somehow… Nice. Absolutely nice. “I do not know,” He clears his throat after realizing he sounds rude, “Maybe on another night like this.” Junmyeon perceives what the prince says as the taller glances at the full moon.


The next thing catches Yifan off-guard.


Prince Junmyeon squeezes his hand as an ear-to-ear grin lits up his features, his eyes turning into thin slits of crescents. The sight is so endearing until Yifan does not even want to blink. “Oh! I-I apologize for my reckless behaviour,” The shorter retrieves his hand while bowing multiple times. Yifan sees what he should not have seen. The prince’s sleeping robes are loose (or maybe because he is too small) so his sharp eyesight catches an expanse white skin of the shorter’s torso.


Yifan looks away right away, faking a cough, “It is no matter. Uhm, sleep well, Prince Junmyeon.” The prince gives another of his blinding smile, “Safe journey, Prince Yifan.” Yifan wants to lie down for a moment. He is feeling too much all at once. Zitao did not tell him about this. It is unbearable. Absolutely unbearable. He falls in front of Zitao after he arrives at their discussed meeting spot.


His cousin quickly helps hoist him up while chuckling endlessly. “Shut up,” Yifan grumbles as they climb the stairs to their private jet. “Looks like someone took the term lovesick a tad too seriously,” Zitao snickers, totally ignoring the elder prince’s warning. “Fucking shut up,” Yifan attempts to punch his face but Zitao blocks it easily. Yifan never knows he will be this weak. He hates being weak.


His energy has been completely drained out after travelling through the shadows to come here. Thanks to the full moon, he barely manages to come right on time. It would sure suck if he ended up falling in the middle of the city. As his cousin lays him on his seat, he closes his eyes… And the image of a smiling prince enters his vision. He feels all calm. Yifan hums low in his throat. Maybe having a soulmate is not too bad after all.




Even though there is no full moon yet, Junmyeon waits for the Chinese prince every single night. He felt really happy that night because he was not alone. He cannot sleep in the same room with his stepbrother because he is ill. Besides, his stepmother will not like the idea at all… There have been loads of times he has been scolded by the head of the maid, criticizing that a prince should not be staying up so late.


Junmyeon used to cry by her mean words but nothing affects him now ever since Prince Yifan’s visit. There are new servants in the mansion and they are good to Junmyeon but he knows how they will be around him once they find out about his true identity. There is a knock on the door and Junmyeon does not even bother turning around, simply gazing at the twinkling stars from the balcony.


“Um, Your Highness?”


Said male sighs as he eventually turns behind by the soft tone. It is the new servant. He seems to be timid despite his towering height. “Yes, Hongbin?” The other bows his head with respect, “Prince Minseok has requested for your presence, Your Highness.” Junmyeon frowns. “Is there something wrong?” He tugs the servant’s sleeve as they head their way to the elder prince’s bedroom.


Hognbin only bows before backing away from the touch, afraid of prying eyes watching them, “He simply wished for your presence.” Junmyeon stays mum as the guards open the huge doors for him. Minseok’s room is twice bigger than his own. He spots his stepbrother on the mattress like always. The usual maids on either side of the four-poster bed is a common sight. Minseok dismisses them all with a weak wave of his hand.


“You wished to see me, brother?”


Junmyeon sits on the edge of the big soft bed before taking the limp hand of the elder. Minseok sends him a weary smile, “I missed you.” Junmyeon misses him too. Because of his status, his relationship with his stepmother is strained. He cannot meet Minseok whenever he wants. She thinks he brings bad luck. Besides, he was born from a womb of a lowlife not a royal, like his former servants have stated. He knew how their father died. Minseok too.


King Kim cannot escape the rules of being a royal so he cannot blame himself for being wedded to a narcissistic wife. After having Minseok, she did not want to have another child. So he found true love out of the mansion instead. He returned a year later with a baby in his arms. Lady Kim poisoned him out of spite on the exact day. She also ordered the guards to find and kill the baby’s biological mother as cleanly as possible.


As Junmyeon began to grow, Lady Kim despised him because the boy looked exactly like her deceased husband. Minseok knows. Junmyeon knows. None can do anything. The Queen is too smart with her evil mind. The servants are ever so loyal so they are untouchable. She might even kill Junmyeon anytime soon. Junmyeon simply accepted the fate but ever since his encounter with a certain tall prince…


Junmyeon, for once, wants to live.


“Junmyeon, if I die…”


The younger male’s eyes water instantly. Minseok eventually gets up to sit just to hug his stepbrother, “Shh… I said if, didn’t I?” Junmyeon nods, wiping the fallen tears aggressively with the hem of his sleeping robes. “Listen,” He takes Junmyeon’s hand, smiling, “If I die from this unknown disease, I want you to run away from here.” Junmyeon blinks. “Got it?” Junmyeon’s lips shake, a tell-tale sign he is going to bawl his eyes out. He cannot imagine Minseok…




He must live.


Junmyeon will not be able to live if Minseok passes on. “My mother,” Minseok coughs before he can even proceed. Junmyeon promptly serves the cup of herb tea the maids have always prepared. “My mother,” He leans against Junmyeon’s chest weakly, the smaller caressing his hair hoping it will be a comfort, “She’ll do awful things to you and I won’t be there to stop her…” Junmyeon sniffles woefully.


He does not care if he is being tormented. He only wants his stepbrother to be healthy again. The door bursts open, startling the stepsiblings. “What are you doing here,” The Queen does not ask but demands, one of her sharp brows rising highly on her forehead as she glares at the object of her hatred. Minseok does not let Junmyeon go but Junmyeon has to. “Out. Now.” Minseok holds Junmyeon’s hand firmly.


Junmyeon gives the elder a sad smile, “Goodnight, brother.” Minseok is about to pull him for a hug but Lady Kim screeches, “Get your hands off from that filth!” Junmyeon passes by the Queen with a muffled sob. Hongbin ducks his head down with guilt. The maids have spotted Junmyeon entering the elder prince’s room and they have reported to Lady Kim. The servant wants to apologize for not able to stop them but the young prince has already scrambled back to his bedroom.


Junmyeon cannot stop crying. His face is mushed against the pillow, sobbing and bawling his eyes out. He does not care about his stepmother. Minseok is the only family he has so how else is he supposed to feel when he cannot even meet his sick stepbrother? Junmyeon curls up into a smaller ball, knees pressing against his chest, tears leaking out of his eyes like a broken pipe. He wishes to end his life.


A sudden rustle from the curtains causes Junmyeon to lift his head, scrutinizing at the source of the noise. He frowns because he remembers closing the sliding door to the balcony before he left to Minseok’s room. The gold embroidered flowers on the deep violet curtains are now dancing with the wind. “Prince Junmyeon?” A silent gasp escapes Junmyeon’s mouth once the curtains are pushed with an arm before a familiar figure becomes visible, standing right across the threshold of the balcony.


Prince Yifan is here.


“I,” Junmyeon stumbles to get up from the bed. He gawps at the other with aghast and untold excitement before becoming self-conscious of his appearance, “I-I will be right back. Do you mind waiting outside… ?” The tall prince’s expression does not change at all as he gives Junmyeon a firm nod of his head. Junmyeon literally hops to the huge toilet. He washes and dries up his face quickly, not wanting to keep the elder prince waiting.


Snatching the prince’s folded coat, he drapes it over his arm as he heads outside. He hid it in the bathroom with the help of Hongbin. The sadness is long gone once he spots the tall figure by the balustrade. “Did something happened?” Junmyeon is taken aback by the question thrown at him as soon as he is next to the elder male. It is obvious though because whenever he cries, his eyes will become swollen and puffy.


Looking away from the other’s observation, Junmyeon fakes out a chuckle as he looks ahead, “Nothing happened, Prince Yifan.” Yifan keeps looking at the shorter. It does not feel ‘nothing’ for him. Nevertheless, he does not wish to push him further. Besides, the Korean prince’s heart is beating fast with… Fear? Worry? He is not quite sure. Yifan tries to avert the topic but a frown mars his forehead once he takes notice of the familiar clothing in the human’s hold.


“Why are you not wearing that?”


Junmyeon follows the Chinese prince’s gaze. Right. He should return this. He forgot about this. “Have I not told you before?” Junmyeon’s heart does a flip as the tall prince nears to his personal space for the second time. He does not mean to be rude but he cannot stop staring. Junmyeon does not even budge when the latter retrieves the piece of clothing from his arm. He maintains his posture when the tall prince wears the coat on him.


“It is yours now. Keep it.”


As much as Junmyeon wants to hold in the flush, he cannot.


This gesture is usually done by a male to a female.




Is Prince Yifan courting him… ?


Junmyeon blinks down to his soft slippers to collect himself, clutching the coat tighter around his body. He takes a secret glimpse to his side. The taller is simply gazing at the dark sky. Junmyeon realizes something. It is not a full moon tonight. How did the latter come here? There is something else too. Prince Yifan does not look like a living corpse anymore. Junmyeon smiles with relief but it fades as he looks away once the taller turns his head to face him.


“Are you feeling uncomfortable by my presence, Prince Junmyeon?”


Junmyeon feels the total opposite but he is so flustered right now because the tall prince caught him staring. “Not at all…” Yifan focuses on the shorter, the corner of his mouth curling up a little, “What is bothering you, then?” Junmyeon sighs deeply. He has been always easy to read. “I wonder what intrigues you to come here to see me.” Yifan stares at his beautiful soulmate cocooned in his coat.


He switches his eyes ahead of him. He does not mind the peculiar thoughts of the short prince consuming him now and then. “The first step of liking someone is to get to know more about that someone, is it not?” Junmyeon thought he has heard it wrong. His assumption was right. Prince Yifan is indeed courting him. His face is becoming hotter than before. He mentally sweats because he does not know how to give the prince a proper answer, unknowingly covering himself further into the large coat.


Yifan enjoys the rapid heartbeats of the small prince. He tries to calm him down by questioning, “Is there anything you would like to ask, Prince Junmyeon?” Junmyeon peers up to the taller with his reddening cheeks. Yifan is truly enchanted by the sight. Centuries plus of living on Earth, he has never seen someone so… Stunning. Absolutely stunning. “I…” Yifan watches not-so-subtly at those soft petal-shaped lips parting.


He then peeps to his human’s eyes after finally noticing where he was staring at. Junmyeon blushes deeply, turning away to face the night sky. Yifan does the same. “How did you become… Like that?” Yifan does not understand so he looks at the other, “Like what?” Junmyeon chews on his lower lip, not sure to be or not to be straightforward. “Like,” He turns to the taller, pointing a forefinger to his teeth, “That.”


Yifan gets it now. He does not want to keep staring at his soulmate so he turns his attention to the empty sky again, missing the moon, “I was born like that.” Junmyeon cannot seem to take his eyes off as he muses how good-looking Prince Yifan is, his answer fading away. The tall prince’s hair is long but not too long. It is swept back with an amount of gel to keep it in place, revealing the precise undercut. It suits the Chinese prince well.


A swift loud exhale slips out of Junmyeon’s mouth once he fully takes in the side profile of the latter. Prince Yifan is so godly handsome. “Is there anything else, Prince Junmyeon?” Junmyeon feels so embarrassed as the prince caught him staring once again. He then remembers something. Junmyeon clears his throat, daring himself to look straight into the tall prince’s eyes, “Thank you for saving me that night.”


Yifan smiles before it is gone as he thinks about not meeting the Korean prince in time on that fateful night. He turns grim. Prince Junmyeon could have died if only he was late. He could not have met his soulmate in the next hundred years. “Um, is there anything you would like, Prince Yifan?” Yifan blinks before peering down to the other cluelessly, “Huh?” Junmyeon fumbles with words as the tall prince’s attention is fully focused on him now, “W-Would you like anything to eat… ?”


Yifan frowns deeply, unknowingly triggering the panic in Junmyeon even more, “I do not eat.” Junmyeon swallows out loud. This seems like a sensitive issue for Prince Yifan based on the tall male’s expression. “Do you—Do you only d-drink that?” Yifan closes in with a safe space between them, “Are you scared of me?” Junmyeon is mesmerized by the red eyes until he cannot even speak a word.


Yifan waits patiently, trying his hardest not do to anything spontaneous which may scare the other. His soulmate looks so, so beautiful from up-close… His gaze trails down again to those trembling rosy lips. He then comprehends he has gotten way closer than before. The shorter’s pulse is racing at full speed. Yifan backs away instantly, missing the fallen expression of the other. “Forgive me for my rudeness,” Yifan mumbles as he leans his elbows on the concrete, hoping the awkwardness is not evident.


“I-It is okay,” Junmyeon mumbles, hoping the disappointment is not noticeable. They stay quiet for a while, simply gazing at the dark sky with twinkling stars together. It is Junmyeon who starts the conversation since the air between them seems to be a tad too awkward, “Do you have something you like… ?” Yifan does not dare to look at his soulmate this time, “No.” Junmyeon presses his lips together by the very short reply so he tries to ask another—


“Wait. I do,” Yifan somehow ends up facing him again. Junmyeon indeed waits for the tall prince’s answer but the latter keeps staring at him. Junmyeon blinks twice once he understands the reason. He is that something Prince Yifan likes. The flush returns to his cheeks and spreads dangerously fast to his whole face. Yifan does not smile because Junmyeon has turned away so Yifan cannot see his face.


“Is there anything you like, Prince Junmyeon?”


The shorter picks on one of the buttons of the coat with his nail, smiling dreamily, “Roses… Red roses.” Yifan marvels at the beauty. Witnessing this sight is such a blessing. Yifan is truly grateful that this human is his soulmate. The Korean prince is beautiful, kind, polite and shy… Which is adorable. Absolutely adorable. “Why red roses, if you do not mind me asking?” Junmyeon glances down at the dark backyard on his tiptoes. It would be green if it is daytime.


“I… It has been a long while since I last saw one…”


When Junmyeon was little, he would always spend time in the garden full of red roses in their backyard. It is the only thing King Kim left for him, his stepbrother had said. His stepmother, unfortunately, found out about it. One day, she commanded the guards to destroy the flowers. The garden is only filled with nothing but grass now. He managed to save a rose in his journal which was a gift from his stepbrother.


Whenever he misses seeing a rose, he will open it up and trace the pads of his fingers over the pressed flower sadly. He misses feeling the softness of the petals against his fingertips. Yifan senses the sadness coming from the short prince. “I will be taking my leave.” Junmyeon’s face turns even more desolate once he brings his head up to the tall prince. “Close your eyes.” Junmyeon blinks fragilely by the Chinese prince’s command, tears slowly filling up his vision.


Prince Yifan sends him a small smile, “I would not do anything you will not like.” Junmyeon does what he is told. Another smile comes up to Yifan’s mouth. Cute. Absolutely cute. Prince Yifan nears his face to the shorter and closes his own eyes as he whispers in a gentle tone, “I will come back for you.” Junmyeon feels something very soft against his cheek. He opens his eyes. The tall prince is gone. Junmyeon sniffles and he smiles at the same time, feeling so warm.




“I can’t believe you’re whipped,” Zitao muses from his seat, legs crossed elegantly. Before they left Guangzhou, the elder prince has plucked (read: stole) few red roses from his mother’s garden to make a small bouquet for the Korean prince. Yifan examines it with a longing expression, simply replying, “I’m not.” Zitao throws him a pointed look after scanning him up and down, “You even got rid of the thorns, brother.”


Yifan does not respond after that, occupied keeping the roses in a good condition. Zitao rolls his eyes by the silence. Who knew the asshole he used to know would become all sappy like this. He has one doubt though and he wants to clear it. “I’m curious about something.” Yifan finally pays his annoying cousin some attention. Zitao asks in a serious tone, “Are you doing this just because you don’t want to get sick again?”


Yifan frowns deeply. It is as if he is offended, Zitao mentally notes. “I won’t stoop that low,” Yifan caresses the petals of the flower, smiling softly because this softness is what he felt against his mouth that night. Zitao’s jaw goes slack by the unusual sight. Never in his life has he seen the elder prince smile like that. Well, at least he knows Prince Yifan is genuine with his actions. Zitao smiles too. This is good. He must inform this to Lady Wu. She will be delighted to hear this.




Yifan feels…




Absolutely weird.


He does not even know how to describe this feeling. He gazes at the full moon as he waits for his human in the shadows. It has been almost a month since he last visited Prince Junmyeon. He hopes not to see those puffy eyes again. It really… Hurt him to see the prince like that. He did not know what came to him when he left a kiss on the prince’s cheek that night. His human looked so vulnerable and Yifan just… He felt so useless seeing him like that. He left before he could see Prince Junmyeon’s reaction.


Yifan feels quirky again.


Is he feeling nervous?


As he sees the Korean prince stepping outside of the balcony, his dead heart skips once when the shorter’s focus lands on the shadows where he is currently hiding. Yifan recognizes another feeling. He misses Prince Junmyeon. He heads his way to his soulmate, the small bouquet concealed behind his back. He frowns when the prince is all hushed, eyes fixed on the brightness of the full moon.


“Prince Junmyeon?”


His eyes are filled with sorrow again. Yifan takes this chance. He awkwardly brings his hand to the front which has the red roses, clearing his throat, “For you.” Junmyeon is puzzled at first before he blushes a deep red but then, he gradually takes it, beaming ever so brightly. If the Korean prince is the sun, Yifan does not mind getting his eyes hurt by seeing him all day. Junmyeon surveys it as his shaky fingers strokes the petals.


A grin colours Junmyeon’s face. They are indeed soft as he remembers. Unable to control his happiness, he lunges forward to the tall prince, briefly pressing his cheek against Prince Yifan’s shirt. His fingers tug slightly on the latter’s outwear before returning to his spot. “Thank you so much,” Junmyeon does not look at the prince, busy awing on how pretty the roses are. Yifan mumbles a quick you are welcome before looking away, feeling something warm rising to his face.


Maybe it is the weather. Yes. It has to be the weather. As he thinks about the prince’s red cheeks, they kind of resemble the red roses. Yifan glances at his human who has his whole attention on the flowers with a dreamy smile on his face. Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. Yifan decides to like flowers from now on, especially red ones. “Do you like them?” Junmyeon smiles widely up to him by the question before glancing at the bouquet once again, “Like them? I love them. Thank you so much. I do not know how else I can repay you—”


“No need,” Yifan cuts in with the smallest smile, “Seeing you happy is enough for me.” With that, the young prince’s cheeks change colours again. Prince Yifan indeed made him happy. He was chased out of his stepbrother’s room again tonight. Minseok’s health is worsening. Hongbin and the other two servants are good people even after they knew the truth. They were the ones who helped him sneak into Minseok’s room but somehow, Lady Kim caught him when she dropped by a visit.




Holding this bouquet of red roses with Prince Yifan next to him…


He is indeed happy.


Recalling what happened on their previous encounter, Junmyeon feels warm all over. Just when he wants to ask about it, there are few knocks on the door. Both stare at it before they look at each other. Junmyeon knows it is Hongbin. The head maid and his former servants would just barge in. He wants to go but he does not want to leave Prince Yifan. “I will see you next time.” Junmyeon grabs the taller’s wrist out of reflex to stop him, staring at him with wide eyes.


The sound of the knock increases. “I,” Junmyeon’s throat has suddenly gone dry. He wants to ask about the kiss from that night but when the door creaks open, Prince Yifan is gone with a blink of an eye. Junmyeon’s face falls drastically, looking over at the shadows sadly. “Your Highness… ?” The soft timid voice of Hongbin’s makes him retrieve inside his bedroom. The servant looks down to his hand and Junmyeon follows his gaze.


Junmyeon mentally sweats. “Did someone come here, Your Highness?” Junmyeon sighs tiredly, gripping the small bouquet even tighter. Junmyeon nods to the question while looking down at the red roses as he walks towards his huge bed, not even bothering to lie. “Is that a courting gift?” Junmyeon almost snaps his neck on how fast he turns to the servant.


Hongbin is smiling. Junmyeon is so flustered by the teasing glint in his eyes. “Do you like him?” Junmyeon is feeling more than flustered now. Does he like Prince Yifan? He does not know what to answer. Will his servant think it is weird to be attracted to someone who is not entirely a human? “It seems like you like him,” Hongbin meets eye level with him as he smiles tenderly, “If you get married to him, you can leave this place.”


Junmyeon sits on the mattress, looking at the flowers sadly, “He needs to state his purpose to have the Queen’s approval. Besides, I cannot leave my brother…” Hongbin does not wish to proceed with the conversation any further. He excuses himself for a while and he returns with a cylinder-shaped glass vase filled with water. The prince has already fallen asleep, clinging the bouquet of red roses to his chest as if he is holding a doll.


Hongbin carefully retrieves it and stuffs it into the vase neatly, settled on the long bedside table. He then positions the sleeping prince properly on the mattress. He draws up the covers to the young prince’s stomach, sighing deeply as he spots dry trails of tears on the smaller’s cheeks. Hongbin nearly breaks his neck once he spins around once he hears a muffled footstep. He promptly heads out of the balcony, not caring what may happen to him.


He eyes ever corner intensely. He swears he has heard something. Unfortunately, there is nothing after a few minutes of observation so he heads back inside. Closing the sliding door, he leaves the curtains partly drawn. The prince likes it like that. With a gentle wish of goodnight, Hongbin leaves with a deep bow. Outside, Yifan casts a somber gaze at the sleeping figure with undying affection. He must tell his cousin to book the earliest flight next time.


The Korean prince seemed like he wanted to tell (or ask) him something…


And now he has to figure it out on his own until their next encounter.




Yifan stares at his reflection on the customized huge long mirror where it has a spell on it (or else he cannot see his reflection). He has his gaze transfixed on his chest where his dead heart is positioned inside. There is a name. In red. In Korean. Yifan tries rubbing it off earlier but it does not disappear. It is like, it is glued there. Like a tattoo. He is not sure what to feel when Zitao declared with an enthusiastic face that the name on his chest is no other than his soulmate, Kim Junmyeon.


He swatted his cousin’s hand away when he wanted to peek more. Yifan stands there, still not believing it. At first, he did not like the idea of being tied to someone but Prince Junmyeon is different. He accepts the fate. As he lays on his bed, staring blankly at the ceiling for hours, a thought of curiosity pops into his mind. If he has it… Does that mean Prince Junmyeon has it too?


Will it be at the same place as his?


Yifan cannot just check it by himself. The prince will take it the wrong way. He cannot ask the prince to take off his robes either. Yifan will try to find a way to ask him nicely. An unknown smile shoots up to his mouth as a red-cheeked prince invades his mind. The smile is still there during dinner. Zitao glares at him judgingly while Lady Wu stifles a peal of laughter.




There is no sight of the prince yet Yifan waits. When the shorter comes out and stands by the balcony, Yifan observes him for a moment. His human looks so small and cute. The funny thoughts are engulfing him again. Before it worsens, he greets the shorter male faintly, not wanting to surprise the other. The blinding smile makes him feel glad the prince is doing well tonight. His eyes are sparkling with glee and not the usual sadness.


Yifan smiles too but only for a brief moment. “You look better, Prince Yifan.” Yifan is suddenly self-conscious. He did trim his hair a little. “I-I mean, you looked well with long hair too,” Junmyeon scratches his right wrist with unease, hoping the elder prince will not get him wrong. “Do I?” Yifan peers down at him with his palm supporting his face as he rests an elbow on the concrete, an unnoticeable smile colouring his mouth.


Junmyeon pinkens by the warm gaze. He nods curtly, shying away from the taller’s eyes. Yifan lets out a chuckle before turning his attention to the front. It is silent again. Junmyeon honestly wants to ask a lot of questions. About him. About his kind. About… The kiss on his cheek. “Are there more people like you… ?” He sees Prince Yifan nodding his head so he asks another one, “Is it true you can change a human into your kind… ?”


The taller nods again. Maybe Prince Yifan is not supposed to converse these things with a human so Junmyeon keeps his mouth shut after that. “Why were you crying that night?” Junmyeon is caught off-guard by the question. He does not meet the prince’s eyes as he replies, “My brother’s health is… He is not getting any better.” Yifan frowns, “You mean, your stepbrother?” Junmyeon ducks his head low, nodding.


“Why Lady Kim has not sent the healers?”


“She prefers traditional meds,” Junmyeon sighs deeply as he thinks of Minseok. “What about the King?” Junmyeon freezes by the mention of his father. “Prince Junmyeon?” Junmyeon peers up to the taller, smiling emptily, “My father is long gone, Prince Yifan.” Yifan senses the grief. His hand raises to place it on Junmyeon’s shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze, “I am sorry for your loss, Prince Junmyeon.” Junmyeon almost leans into the foreign touch before he remembers who they are.


“I have learned to move on,” He mumbles which is a complete lie. Junmyeon has never seen his father in flesh. He has never gotten the chance. The empty feeling is always evident whenever he sees photos of the King. “How about you?” Yifan leaves his hand and a grumble almost leaves his mouth as he recalls his father’s death. “I lost Father last year. Murdered.” Junmyeon gasps, his hand coming up to cover his mouth, “I thought people like you are immortals… ?”


Prince Yifan chuckles heartlessly where Junmyeon finds it downright scary. “There is always a way for humans to kill us.” Junmyeon looks down, feeling sorry for the latter. “I am going to find the people who killed him and have them die in the same slow death as Father.” Junmyeon hugs himself. He nearly forgot that Prince Yifan is not fully human. He is a creature who feeds off from humans’ blood. Another shiver runs down to Junmyeon’s spine.


“You… You are not going to drink m-my blood, right… ?”


The tall prince frowns down to him. Junmyeon gulps. “Why on earth I would do that?” Junmyeon does feel relieved but only a little. “Are you scared of me?” Junmyeon blinks by the fragile tone of the elder prince’s voice. His expression is hurt. It is as if Junmyeon sees him as an enemy. Junmyeon feels so guilty. “I-I am sorry, I just— I have never met one before so I…” Yifan is not convinced. He sulks as he looks at the empty sky, hoping it will not show on his face.


“I trust you.”


Yifan witnesses the smile on the young prince’s face. It is genuine. He nods before looking back at the dark sky, holding in a smile. The Korean prince is indeed sincere. He can feel it. He can listen to the normal heartbeats. Just when he is about to ask something, he notices Prince Junmyeon has been scratching the veins on his right wrist for a while now. The name on his chest itch for the first few days too. Yifan frowns.


Can it be?


He grabs the shorter’s hand and pulls it up to his face, causing the human to stumble his face into Yifan’s chest with a soft ‘Oof’. Yifan is too occupied staring at Prince Junmyeon’s wrist to realize anything. There is a name. A name in Chinese characters. It is his name. Yifan’s heart beats for once. “Um, Prince Yifan… ?” Yifan peers down to see the smaller looking up at him. They are so close. Yifan eventually lets him go but not too far.


He loosens the first few buttons of his black dress shirt. Junmyeon has no idea what is going on but he blushes. He averts his gaze once the tall prince’s chest is on sight. “Look at me.” Junmyeon cowardly obeys. Prince Yifan softly cradles his hand. They never break their gaze when Yifan spreads out their fingers together, palms flat on one another. The warmth on Junmyeon’s cheeks increases as well as his heartbeat.


Yifan brings the small hand against his dead heart, never leaving his eyes from his human. Junmyeon does the same. He does not feel the soft thumps against his palm. Prince Yifan’s bare skin feels so cold… “Have a look.” Junmyeon brings his sight ahead as he lowers his hand to his side. He gasps softly once he sees his name, in red as well as the name on his wrist, on the latter’s white chest. So the name on his wrist belongs to Prince Yifan… ?


“What… What is the meaning of this… ?”


Yifan takes his fallen hand and he laces their fingers together. He likes the way his human’s cheeks colour but he likes listening to the way his human’s heart is literally palpitating the most. Yifan announces, a little too fond, “We are soulmates, Prince Junmyeon.” Junmyeon blinks softly by the information. He does not know what to feel. Or believe. But Prince Yifan is not a normal human being. So he has to believe this.


“I… We are soulmates… ?”


Yifan nods firmly, not accepting the lack of emotions but stays hushful about it. There is worry and fear in the younger prince’s eyes. His heart is beating fast in an uneasy way. Yifan frowns when the human resumes being noiseless, eyes darting everywhere but him. Maybe the shorter does not like him being his soulmate or maybe he fears the idea of him, a human, being tied to a non-human. “My coronation will be held in a few months,” Yifan pauses just to see his reactions but there is none.


“I will be inviting people from different kingdoms Father and I have worked with. I will make sure to send a special invitation for you,” He stoops low to look into his soulmate’s eyes. Junmyeon nods in silence, maintaining his vision downwards. Yifan’s frown deepens. He does not like the expression of the prince at all. He wants to make him react. He wants to get… Closer.


Yifan’s hand rises, pressing his palm against his human’s cheek, the skin feeling so soft and so warm. Junmyeon is unable to tear his gaze away from the red eyes. He cannot be bothered by the coldness of the taller’s palm because Prince Yifan is currently staring down at him with unspoken intensity. There is warmth over his cheeks again. It turns hotter when a thumb traces ever so lightly over his lower lip. Yifan’s eyes are glowing and Junmyeon is so drawn to them. He closes his eyes as Prince Yifan leans in.


Yifan hears the door opening but Junmyeon does not. A whoosh of air brush against Junmyeon’s face and Prince Yifan is out from his sight. “What are you doing up so late? Don’t you know what time it is? Do you want me to call the Queen over to banish you right now?” Junmyeon bows multiple times to the head maid, his mouth zipped shut.


He glances at the darkness on the corner end of the balcony, spotting Prince Yifan’s tall stature. Junmyeon cannot do or say anything because she is still there, eyeing him like a hawk. He heads inside with a gloomy face, his shoulders jumping with shock when the woman shuts the door quite loudly. Yifan is sad. The human had a crying expression. Does Prince Junmyeon not like the idea of them being soulmates?




Junmyeon manages to sneak into his stepbrother’s room again with the help of Hongbin. The guards are resting so the other two servants are guarding the door. “What are actually in this drink, Hongbin?” Junmyeon questions with a hint of pure curiosity, opening the lid of the silver teapot. It is filled with the usual brownish substance Junmyeon has seen. Why Minseok is not getting better if it is proven to cure the ill?


“I have heard it is vervain tea mixed with essential herbs—”


“Ver what?”


“Vervain, Your Highness. It is a flower. It is also, um…”


“What is it?”


“It is one of th-their weakness.”


“Who’s weakness, Hongbin?”


The servant pales visibly, worrying Junmyeon, “B-Bloodsucking creatures.” Junmyeon blinks thrice by the information. Vervain is their weakness? Why is Lady Kim giving vervain to his stepbrother? Junmyeon closes the lid and he settles himself on the edge of the huge bed, eyeing the elder prince. Slipping his fingers into his stepbrother’s hair, he starts combing deliberately. Minseok does look paler than before. Junmyeon pauses.


Is his stepbrother one of them?


Is that why he has been sick for who knows long?




Has he got bitten by them?


Junmyeon glimpses at Minseok’s covered neck. He discreetly lowers down the thick duvet but he can feel eyes watching him so he does not pull it down even further. “Have you seen one before?” Hongbin shakes his head frantically, his pale face remaining the same, “D-Do you believe in th-their existence, Your Highness?” Junmyeon drops his gaze to his wrist. He lifts the wide sleeve of his robes where the Chinese prince’s name is there.


He then returns his vision to Minseok. Prince Yifan has not done anything he did not like during his visits. Some strays must have bitten his stepbrother for his blood. The reason he is sick is still unknown though… It is creepy too. Junmyeon turns away while getting up on his feet, nodding at Hongbin with the softest smile, “Just like us, some of them may be good. Some of them may have evil intentions.”




The moment Junmyeon’s eyes lands on the lone figure by the balustrade, he forgets everything about the herb. He only grasps that he has missed Prince Yifan. Very much. He holds it back from saying those out loud though as he stands right next to the taller. Minutes pass. Prince Yifan has not spoken a word. Junmyeon wonders what is wrong but then, he recalls their previous encounter. He twirls the end of the sash of his sleeping robes nervously, “Are you upset… ?”


The prince is still being quiet. They are already standing close but Junmyeon wants to test the waters. With a deep breath, he leans his head against the taller’s arm. Prince Yifan does not budge or move away. Junmyeon smiles a little. Then, he brushes a few of his fingers against the taller before timidly curling his pinkie with the other, his heart racing. The response is fast and Junmyeon nearly collapses.


Yifan fills in the gaps between the shorter’s fingers with his before he squeezes their hands.


Junmyeon presses his lips together from grinning wide like an idiot. “Do you accept me as your soulmate, Prince Junmyeon?” Said male looks up to the tall prince who is staring down at him. Junmyeon’s heart stutters by the warm gaze. He nods wordlessly. “I need a verbal answer,” Yifan turns his body to face him, never untangling their clasped hands. Junmyeon parts his mouth to speak but when the prince’s eyes change colour, he is not able to utter a single word as he stupidly stares into those red orbs.


It is not until Prince Yifan pulls him close with a tug of their intertwined hands. “I do,” He manages not to stutter, their gaze getting intense as Yifan studies with his bright scarlet eyes before they return to their usual colour. He also frees their hands. Junmyeon hides his disappointment. At least they still get to stand next to one another. Another moment of silence passes and Junmyeon is the first to break it again, “Do you like anything about me… ?”


He waits for his answer, hoping Prince Yifan does not hear his palpitating heartbeat. If he only knows that Yifan is silently rejoicing the sound from the very beginning. “No.” Junmyeon feels like being stabbed right across his chest. “There is no reason for me to like you,” Yifan turns his face to the smaller but the young prince is not looking at him, probably hurt by the reply. Yifan holds in a chuckle. Adorable. Absolutely adorable.


“Why should I have a reason to like you when you are just perfect the way you are?”


Heat crawls up to Junmyeon’s cheeks within a flash. He dares himself to peer up to the latter. Prince Yifan is smiling. His heart skips a beat, blushing even harder. That is the first time he has seen the prince smiling. He looks ten times more handsome with a smile. “I like it that you are real. You do not have the arrogant vibe like some princes do.” Junmyeon looks away, eyeing the dark garden below them, “That is because… I am not her child…”


Yifan frowns, standing closer to the shorter male, “You have the King’s blood. You are still a royal no matter what others think of you.” Junmyeon turns sad. If only he was not born, the King would be alive by now… Yifan stops the conversation when he spots a similar expression on his human’s face during previous nights. He lets out a sigh, resting his elbows on the concrete, “What about you, Prince Junmyeon? What do you like about me?”


I like everything about you, Junmyeon almost says it out loud. He copies the other’s action as a sigh leaves his mouth, blatantly confessing, “I like your eyes when they turn red.” Yifan’s arm is just behind the human’s back. “What did you say just now?” Junmyeon’s heartbeats are frantic when an arm, which feels so strong yet gentle at the same time, scoops his middle before there is a secure hand holding his hip.


Junmyeon maybe liking this a tad too much. He tumbles forward a little when the prince pulls him close, their hips now squished. Their eyes meet again. “What was that you said… ?” Junmyeon swallows because they are so close, “I l-like your eyes when they turn red.” His face is becoming warmer and warmer by the intense gaze. Yifan closes his eyelids momentarily before opening them, “Like this?”


Junmyeon watches from up-close as the taller’s irises glow in scarlet, just like that night they first met.


He cannot stop himself from cradling the prince’s cheek so elegantly, wanting to have a closer look.


Yifan lets his human to do whatever he wants.


He feels like on top of the world right now.


“Beautiful,” Junmyeon half-whispers, totally mesmerized. “No,” Yifan leans downwards, their foreheads merely an inch apart, gazing so deeply into his soulmate’s shining orbs, “You are beautiful.” The tips of Junmyeon’s ears are burning as the Chinese prince gives him that smile again. He then notices their distance. Looking away, a hand comes up to rest on the taller’s shirt, “Um, we are too close…” A finger cups his chin elegantly and he is eye to eye with the prince again.


“Do you like me?”


Junmyeon nods, the red on his cheeks still there. “I like you too.” Junmyeon smiles to the ground like an idiot. He completely melts, his legs going weak as Prince Yifan envelops him into his embrace. “Do you like this… ?” Junmyeon’s right cheek is pressed against the tall prince’s torso so comfortably. He likes it. Junmyeon bravely brings up his hands to the taller’s back, his arms looping around the taller’s waist, shyly humming as an answer.


The corners of Yifan’s mouth curl upwards. He continues hugging the smaller, eyes closed, chin settling a top of the shorter’s head. He feels happy. Absolutely happy. Yifan forgets everything for a moment as he simply cherishes Prince Junmyeon in his arms. If he only was not there to save his human that night, he would not have this happiness. At that thought, he dips his face into the shorter’s neck, earning a slight quiver from the Korean prince.


“I am not going to bite you,” The taller coaxes Junmyeon in his arms by holding him tight. Junmyeon feels embarrassed though because Prince Yifan can read him like an open book. “Can I be like one of you?” Yifan pulls away heavyheartedly. He never thought Prince Junmyeon’s blood will smell nicer from this close… “Only if you want to.” Junmyeon nods, staring at the Wu emblem on Prince Yifan’s outwear.


The taller does not like the tensed expression on his soulmate’s face so he cradles his cheek tenderly, “I will never force you.” Junmyeon is grateful for the comfort. He dissolves under the touch as he closes his eyes, slowly leaning his temple against the prince’s chest again, a content sigh coming out of his mouth. Yifan is completely soft by the endearing gesture. He slips his fingers through his human’s hair on the back of his head, causing the shorter to nuzzle into his shirt between the long coat.


There is a mysterious warmth on Yifan’s cheeks again. It feels weird because he is used to be cold all the time. Yifan pulls him closer if that is possible until he hears a muffled laughter below him. He smiles but it fades fast. He is saddened by the fact he cannot see his soulmate for a few months after this. “I will see you at my coronation, Prince Junmyeon.” Junmyeon nods against the shirt. He does not want to let Prince Yifan go.


“I will not be coming here until then because of the preparations.”


How can he survive not seeing the prince for three whole months?


He is not sure if the latter can sense his sadness because he is being held solidly by his strong arms tightly wrapped around his waist. Junmyeon is not supposed to do this but fuck it, they are both alone and they are soulmates so he can do whatever he wants. Lightly standing on his tiptoes, careful not to let the arms around him loosening, Junmyeon presses his mouth on the cold cheek of Prince Yifan’s.


He scrutinizes the taller with wide eyes, surprised by his own action, “G-Good night, Prince Yifan.” He dashes into his bedroom, leaving a wide-eyed Yifan behind. He chases after his human but he quickly hides in the shadows once the maid who has interrupted them that night appears with an unappeased expression on her old face. Yifan does not know how he is going to handle not seeing the Korean prince for months.


Maybe he has to sneak out…


Yifan is not letting him run away next time.




“Hello, brother.”


Yifan’s eyes move to the source from where he is resting. He then resumes boring holes at the ceiling. He misses a certain prince and he cannot even stop this feeling. It gets worse as days go by. “Why the long face, hm?” Zitao gradually takes his spot on the foot of the bed, a teasing smile resting on his mouth. Yifan does not pay attention as he recalls the softness of Prince Junmyeon’s lips on his cheek.


Yifan groans low in his throat, his eyes closing with resentment for that darn old maid. “No longer hostile about love, I assume?” He sends his annoying cousin a sharp look. Love… He has not thought about going that far yet. Will Prince Junmyeon love him for who he is? Zitao smiles knowingly by the long silence. His plan works: making Yifan think about his future with his soulmate. He wants to lie down on the bed but he knows better.


The elder prince will kick him off in the speed of light. He settles a palm instead, leaning his weight on it as he questions, “When are you going to introduce him to us?” Yifan never moves his head as he glances downwards at the younger prince with a deep scowl, “Who’s us?” Zitao shrugs his shoulders deliberately, assuming he is being very obvious about the issue, “Me and your mother or maybe like, I don’t know, to the whole kingdom?


Yifan is unresponsive. He has already sent a letter to Queen Kim but there has been no reply. “You’re going to be the next King, brother. The kingdom is waiting for good news. Even your mother is—” “I know,” Yifan cuts him off as he gets up from the bed. Zitao’s eyes trail on the taller’s back as the elder prince slides the door open to the balcony. “So… When are you going to bring him here?” Yifan looks pass his shoulder, his expression impassive, “I can’t bring him here until I have Lady Kim’s approval.”


Zitao promptly straightens up by the information, “Did you actually sent—” “I did,” Yifan gazes at the bright full moon, feeling so powerful yet weakened inside as he longs for his human. Two of his letters has not been replied. One for the invitation and another for the proposal for Lady Kim’s second son. “Tell Mother everything is going well.” Zitao nods, already on his feet and near the door when the elder prince calls for him.


Zitao halts, turning to the to-be King. “I’m going to see him tomorrow.” Zitao blinks, returning inside the bedroom, “But you can’t leave until—” “I know. I— I just,” Yifan pauses as their eyes meet before he turns to face the full moon, “I miss him, brother.” Zitao is taken aback by the reply. This is so out of the elder prince’s character. With a humble smile, he bows deeply, “As you wish, Your Highness.”




Junmyeon’s tears are drying up on the bedsheets. His body feels so heavy with guilt. The Queen has sent him out of his stepbrother’s room once again. Hongbin and the two servants were caught as well. They are not allowed to eat until tomorrow’s dinner as a punishment. Junmyeon sniffles as he rubs his tears away but it is no use as they keep dropping. He wishes he can help them out. He wishes…


He wishes he can never open his eyes again.


The image of a certain tall prince enters his mind. Junmyeon springs up from the bed, fisting the pale violet silk sheets firmly. No. He does not want to die. He cannot. Prince Yifan is the only reason for him to live right after Minseok. He cannot die. He does not want to die but… It hurts. It hurts a lot. There is no one for him when he needs someone the most. Junmyeon draws his knees up to his chest, sobbing into his arms.


Just when he thought there are no tears left to cry. Now, they are flowing as if he has not been crying for an hour. Junmyeon buries his face even further into his folded arms which are on his knees. His shoulders shake in pathetic silence as he suppresses loud sobs from his throat. He misses Prince Yifan very badly. It has been two whole months he has not come by. Junmyeon covers his face with the palms of his hands, a sob eventually slipping out of his mouth.


What if he cannot do this anymore… ?


Cold breeze caress his hair. Junmyeon reveals his face, staring at the huge door to the balcony. The curtains are fluttering with the wind. Then, a very familiar figure emerges. His heart nearly gives up beating by the unforeseen sight. “Prince Junmyeon?” Junmyeon does not care about his face as he stumbles out of bed, almost falling face-first on the carpeted floor. He does not think twice before crashing into Prince Yifan, his arms swinging around the latter’s body instantly.


Yifan does the same. He is so delighted to see him again but the feeling disappears once he spots trails of tears on the prince’s blotchy cheeks. “I missed y-you,” Prince Junmyeon’s voice shakes but it holds pure sincerity, his face pressing close into Yifan’s thick coat. Yifan takes out his outwear and wears it on the shorter before pulling him against his chest again, “I missed you too, Prince Junmyeon.”


They head to the balcony and they stand side by side in each other’s arms, both gazing at the full moon. “Why were you crying?” Yifan pulls him close with a hand on the smaller’s hip, stooping his face low to have a look on his human. Junmyeon hides his face though, nuzzling into the taller’s dress shirt. He does not want the prince to know about his stepmother’s doing. “It is… It is my brother…” Prince Yifan gathers him fully in his strong arms, “He will be okay.”


Junmyeon’s body quivers as he holds in his sobs but when there are soft pats and rubs on his back with gentle strokes on his hair, he loses it. Junmyeon wets the taller’s shirt, grasping the back of it madly tight as he cries as soundlessly as he can. Yifan feels his dead heart hurting as he cannot do anything but holding him close, glancing at him with worry from time to time. He even leaves a kiss on his human’s hair.


“I am glad you came,” Prince Junmyeon speaks minutes later, “I think I would have done something stupid…” Yifan frowns at this, “Look at me.” The human does what he is told. “Can I take you somewhere?” Junmyeon blinks fast, afraid he heard it wrong, “What?” Prince Yifan slips his long digits into his bangs away to the back, calming him down. He then smiles softly as his human’s hair is not in place, “Just to the rooftop.”


Junmyeon nods but then, his brows pinch together with confusion, “How are we going to go up there?” Something flutters behind the tall prince. Looking past Prince Yifan’s shoulder, he witnesses something greyish black and… Enormous. Junmyeon must be dreaming. “You,” He cranes his neck as he ogles at the huge bat wings as he slips away from the taller’s hold, “You can fly… ?” Yifan nods mutely, liking the surprise on his soulmate’s face once he bares them wider.


“How,” He halts as his hand rises to one of the wings but he asks for Prince Yifan’s permission with his eyes. The taller nods again without saying anything. Junmyeon’s fingertips touch the skin of the wing. It feels like touching a normal human skin, except it feels stretchy and… Abnormally warm. “How do… How do these come out from you… ?” Prince Yifan shrugs nonchalantly, “Magic?” Junmyeon emits soft chortle, feeling the wing once again with both of his hands.


If people like Prince Yifan exists, then so does magic.


“Do you want to come with me, Prince Junmyeon?”


Junmyeon turns his head to look at the prince. He has a hand stretching out towards him. Junmyeon’s mouth falls apart as he ponders the consequences. What if someone caught them? What if they are both sentenced to death? “Do you trust me?” Prince Yifan nears him, giving him that warm gentle smile. Junmyeon does not contemplate any further as he takes the taller’s hand. Prince Yifan pulls him close until their chests are pressed on one another.


Junmyeon holds in his breath, flushing furiously as he meets Prince Yifan’s eyes from up-close. His neck is flooding with warmth as the latter smiles. “Hold on tight.” Junmyeon burrows his face underneath Prince Yifan’s chin, clutching the back of his shirt, careful not to make contact with the bat wings. He feels the other’s solid grip around his back as he bends his knees. Before Junmyeon can even ask the reason, he shrieks out of surprise once Prince Yifan leaps off the ground with a wide flap of his bat wings.


Junmyeon does not dare to have his eyes open.


Prince Yifan said they are going to the rooftop but as far as he knows, they are not there. He does not feel anything beneath his feet and it is scaring the hell out of him. He holds onto the prince for dear life, praying he will not tear the other’s shirt based on how tight his fingers are digging into the fabric of his white dress shirt. Junmyeon does not want to slip and fall and die. He does not want to die like this.


“Prince Junmyeon?”


A whine is all he can produce. “Prince Junmyeon, there is nothing you should be afraid of when I am here.” Junmyeon shakes his head with a similar noise in his throat, burying his face deeper into the latter’s cold neck, unknowingly causing the taller to be slightly warm. It is definitely not the weather. Yifan gives time for the smaller (and himself) to calm down. The only source of noise is his fluttering bat wings to keep them in place at the sky.


He is not out of the atmosphere. They are still on earth. He just wants to create a memorable memory for his human to see the moon from up here. Together. He peers down to the smaller. Prince Junmyeon has not moved a single inch. A small smile traces across his mouth, “You are not going to die, Prince Junmyeon.” Said male emits another whine, much weaker this time. Yifan sighs against the shorter’s hair, “If you trust me… Please open your eyes.”


The first thing Junmyeon sees is the pale skin of Prince Yifan’s throat. Gulping, he unhurriedly hoists his head upwards. There is a pleasing smile on the taller’s mouth. Junmyeon does not want to melt right now or else he will slip and fall and die. “Look behind you.” Junmyeon wants to hide again but something quick and soft plants on his nose. Junmyeon warms up. Prince Yifan has just kissed on his nose. He looks encouraging so Junmyeon does look behind him.


His jaw goes slack with utter awe. They are right in front of the full moon. Well, not for real. They are still on earth. Prince Yifan has just flown close to it. To be able to see the moon from this close… It is such a magical experience. “Beautiful…” Yifan tightens his grip around his soulmate, slowly leaning in, “You are more beautiful…” Junmyeon realizes the distance between their faces are shrinking.


He is about to close his eyes but he does a big mistake by glancing downwards to fill his curiosity. It is really real. They are flying in the air. There is nothing below their feet. Even though Prince Yifan has a secure grip around him, Junmyeon hides back into the taller’s neck, his face paling. Yifan listens to the rush of blood going haywire as his human’s heart is beating way quicker than earlier. He feels truly bad so he flies them down as slowly as possible.


“We are here,” Yifan nudges his nose against the smaller’s temple as he lands on the empty ground on the lowest flat roof of the mansion, circling his thumb over his human’s hipbone. Junmyeon feels something hard against his feet so he brings his head down. They are on land. Junmyeon sighs into the shirt, his eyes closing with pure relief. “I am sorry,” Prince Yifan states sincerely, “I thought you would have enjoyed it…”


Junmyeon lowers his arms after finally realizing he still has them around the tall prince. He stares up to the male who has a very, very sad face. Junmyeon smiles softly, “It is okay. It is my first time flying so… I think I enjoyed it a little?” Cold palms cradle his cheeks at once before he is met with Prince Yifan’s red orbs. “You enjoyed it… ?” Junmyeon nods slowly, gazing both of his eyes, his fists coming up to rest on the other’s hips.


Junmyeon swallows so quietly, bringing his gaze down to Prince Yifan’s lips before quickly to his red eyes. The taller does the same and Junmyeon feels like he is about to blow up. “Can we… ?” Prince Yifan trails off, his hand lowering down to the smaller’s back, the other one now settling on one side of his face, fingertips brushing the hair behind Junmyeon’s ear ever so lightly, sending pleasant tingles all over.


Junmyeon knows what the prince is asking for. Heat crawls all over to his face as he nods affirmatively. Junmyeon watches the taller’s mouth as Prince Yifan narrows in. He closes his eyes once their lips meet, involuntarily grabbing the fabric of the tall prince’s shirt. Junmyeon holds in his breath but when Prince Yifan glides his mouth against his at a very slow pace, he lets out a sound where he never knew he can make.


Yifan feels his soul being free at last but it is not fully released. There is something heavy settling over his shoulders but he ignores it. He wants to indulge the happiness. Yifan wraps his arms around his human and places a palm against the Korean prince’s upper back, tilting his head as he smooches the soft, soft lips completely.


Junmyeon swoons.


Yifan cradles the back of the smaller’s head, carding his fingers in and out from the soft hair of his human, taking the kiss as slow as possible. Junmyeon’s limbs have looped themselves around the taller’s waist, liking each second of it. Yifan does not take it too far. He knows the prince needs to breathe unlike him. He parts away heavyheartedly from those petal-like lips, red eyes gazing into the hazy ones.


Junmyeon inhales shakily, his arms loosening around the taller’s middle. His legs are feeling extremely gooey and all he wants to do is sit before he falls but Prince Yifan has a strong grip around him so it is no matter. His cheeks may be red now but Junmyeon does not care at all. The prince sends him a small loving smile. Junmyeon is unable to do the same because they have just kissed for the first time so he conceals himself into Prince Yifan’s shirt.


He lets himself being hugged as he listens to the sigh above. His body shudders when an icy nose trace underneath his jaw so intimately. Junmyeon is not scared. It is just Prince Yifan’s skin is so cold against his normal body temperature. “There is a month left for my coronation,” Yifan speaks with his mouth brushing against Junmyeon’s pulse. Junmyeon still is not afraid but he feels vulnerable by the plush lips on his neck.


“I will miss you, Prince Junmyeon.”


Junmyeon peers up to the prince. His face is… Sad. Absolutely sad. Junmyeon turns blue too. Before he can say anything, Prince Yifan holds him tight and flies away. Junmyeon succeeds not making any sounds this time. Unbeknown to them, someone has been watching from the moment they have landed. “Burn the proposal letter,” Queen Kim closes the curtains before heading to bed, “Bring that filth to me to my study tomorrow morning.” The head maid bows, “Will do, Your Majesty.”


“Listen, I,” Junmyeon halts as he hugs the prince’s coat close to his body once they have landed safely, “You… You do not have to be sad, Prince Yifan.” He cannot help himself from saying it. The latter looks so miserable until Junmyeon doubts he will shed tears, bloody tears. He lets Prince Yifan cup his face, unintentionally pouting. “I will see you soon,” Yifan strokes the soft warm skin under Prince Junmyeon’s eyes, looking into both of his soulmate’s eyes, memorizing every little detail.


Junmyeon tugs the tucked shirt of the tall prince once he perceives what the other is doing. He does not close his eyes as Prince Yifan mushes their foreheads together. “I will be there,” Junmyeon tries to smile, attempting to comfort the prince. Yifan pulls the shorter into his arms with a straight face, “I will miss you.” Junmyeon’s cheek is literally squished against the cold clothed torso but he does not complain.


He hugs back with equal energy, arms tight around the taller’s middle, “Me too…” Yifan knows he needs to go. He has to. It is not like he wants to… He just stands there, not moving an inch away from his human. “It is okay,” Junmyeon inhales deeply, patting the other’s lower back with a smile, his eyes closed, “I will be there…” Yifan increases his grip around the smaller but it seems like it is too tight until he hears a small squeak below.


“Did I hurt you?”


Yifan checks the shorter, eyeing him up and down. He has unknowingly used too much strength on his human so he is worried. “I am okay,” Junmyeon chuckles even though his ribs kind of hurts. He lifts his eyes to the apprehensive face of the taller. Another gentle smile crosses his lips. Standing on his tiptoes, he kisses Prince Yifan. The taller dives in for more just when Junmyeon is about to part away. Junmyeon blushes but he does not stop the kisses.


By the time they pull for air, Junmyeon takes a deep breath, locking his eyes with Prince Yifan. There is a small smile on his mouth. Junmyeon copies the expression. Yifan flaps his bat wings as he floats outside the balcony in mid-air. “I will miss you,” Yifan pecks on the plump lips again right after he beckons his human to come close. “I will miss you too,” Junmyeon flushes again, smiling brightly. He observes the taller flying high to the sky. He already misses the prince.






That is the only feeling Junmyeon has right now. He is on his way to Prince Yifan’s coronation, ten minutes late. He cannot still. The sheath knife attached to his belt, hidden underneath his royal outwear, reminds him of Queen Kim’s given task. Junmyeon wants to cry and scream but he knows he cannot. He does not know what else to do so he rubs the name on his wrist with his thumb, glancing at it occasionally.


“Your Majesty…”




“I… I still cannot find him. My soulmate…”


Yifan moves his gaze from the wine glass filled with rich crimson, his brow rising questioningly. The general tremors by the look, looking down and bowing slightly. “Do find him, Luhan,” Yifan sips the blood in his glass disguised as red wine before glancing at the guests below him, searching a certain prince among the crowd, “Until then, you are suspended from your duty.” Luhan is baffled by the King’s command, his mouth parting and closing before opening again, “But Your Majesty—”


“I am not sacking you,” Yifan calmly states as he places the glass on the high table while adjusting his formal attire, “You need to find him as soon as possible or else you have to face the consequences.” Luhan blinks at the new King, not seeming to understand, “Have you found yours, Your Majesty… ?” Yifan displays a discreet smile, “Leave now. Find him.” The general gives a deep bow of respect. He leaves anxiously, wondering where his soulmate can be.


Yifan knows a tad too much about the general’s unseen soulmate. Zitao was the one who forced him to listen so he really could not say no. Luhan had met him in a gathering party and he was so drawn to the human. Yifan knew that feeling. That was how he felt for Prince Junmyeon. Apparently, the general could not stop himself from nearing the mortal and once they were alone to get to know each other, Luhan’s instinct could not be stopped as the human popped a few buttons of his satin ruffle shirt.


The human’s neck was on display and he went for it. Luhan managed to snap out of it once he grasped his soulmate was writhing in his arms. Realization dawned upon the general once he retreated from the human. He has done a very bad mistake. He did another one by running away, leaving his soulmate quivering on the floor until a guard of the palace noticed him. Yifan heaves out a soundless sigh.


He misses Prince Junmyeon. His letter still has not received any replies. He wonders will his soulmate get to come even though the ceremony is over already hours ago. He holds onto his human’s words. As his gaze lands on the crowd, he recalls how soft Prince Junmyeon’s lips were against his, how Prince Junmyeon held onto him, how Prince Junmyeon did not want to let him go…


Yifan suddenly catches a familiar sweet whiff of blood.


He gets up to his feet from his late father’s throne, taking off his coronation robes which were his father’s. Yifan watches from above, eyes sharply eyeing each face in the crowd. The people are mostly mortals, totally oblivious of his identity and his kind decide to keep it that way. It has been like that wayn before his father was even born. He knows some of his kind are lingering with the crowd, pretending to be ‘human’.


Yifan swears he saw a familiar short stature of a male dressed in white huddling through the crowd. “Son?” Yifan whips his head around only to see his mother having a firm expression on her beautiful face. “It’s time for the meeting.” Yifan holds in the urge to groan. He is a King now. He should act like one. He links his arms with Lady Wu with a small smile, “Let’s go, Mother.”


The hunters or as known as the Slayers are becoming active these days. The humans had caught only the stray ones. Yifan needs to create a rescue team, find and free them only if the strays agree to cooperate with the Royals. He cannot risk any of his kind’s identities and lives to humans’ crazy science and technology. So far, the humans are keeping the case confidential as said by the representative from Japan. The meeting ends with Yifan stating he will be joining the mission to rescue the strays.


“I saw someone heading to your throne,” Zitao informs with a sly smile on his face once the new King comes out alone from the boardroom. Yifan’s peaceful expression drastically changes. He flees right away. Zitao hides in the shadows for the King’s security. Yifan gazes at the lone figure in white attire. He is right. It was Prince Junmyeon he saw earlier. The sound of the people below slowly fades as the shorter faces him.


Yifan is enchanted once he nears the groomed prince. He looks dashing with his hair up. The royal outfit suits the prince. Yifan cannot stop staring— Before he knows it, Prince Junmyeon starts to shed tears. “What is the matter?” He cradles the smaller’s forearm, slowly pulling him close. Junmyeon cries, unable to say anything. “Prince Junmyeon?” Junmyeon hiccups, trying his best to hold in his sobs.


He cannot do this.


He will never get to do this.


He loves Prince Yifan but…


He cannot let Minseok to die either.


Oh he should have just killed himself that night…


“Why are you not looking at me?”


King Yifan’s forefinger cups his chin before the taller tips his face upwards very calmly. Junmyeon’s hands are on the King’s chest, just staying there to have a safe space between them. Yifan is mystified by the reaction. He keeps the distance as he waits for his human to calm down but… Prince Junmyeon does not stop crying. He takes the hand on his dead heart and he raises it to his face, catching the shorter’s attention.


Yifan plants a peck on it and he watches the pink glowing on the prince’s cheeks. Junmyeon tries to retrieve his hand but the taller refuses to free him. The King pulls him into his embrace, his face dipping into his neck despite Junmyeon’s weak protest. His shoulders shake as he suppresses a loud sob when King Yifan sadly murmurs in the softest tone, “I cannot help you if you keep crying…” Junmyeon wishes he can just end his life right now.


“Just kill me… Please…”


Yifan is so taken aback by the response so he looks at the prince but Junmyeon does not do the same. “Hey—” Junmyeon catches the hand before it can cup his cheek, tears running down face as he does so. He does not catch the wavering expression of the King. Junmyeon backs away from the taller, fetching the sheath knife from his back and takes it out from the holder before aiming it to himself.


Yifan is faster.


He snatches it from his human’s hold but as soon as it makes contact with his palm, he lets out a hiss. Yifan drops it fast, his skin burning. It is iron. The knife is made of iron. Even the handle too. He looks down at it with confusion before averting his gaze to the Korean prince, “What were you trying to do?” Yifan asks cluelessly as he scans the burnt skin of his palm.


“I-I am sorry,” Junmyeon goes forward and cradles the King’s hand, bringing it up to his forehead, crying. Yifan frowns, wanting to confirm his doubts, “Did someone sent you to kill me?” Junmyeon tightens his hold on his hand, never lifting his head. Yifan takes it as a yes. “Prince Junmyeon.” Junmyeon cannot even look at him. He knows he must be looking pathetic.


Just like Lady Kim told him that night.


A month ago…


Junmyeon is pushed rather impolitely into a room he never stepped inside before. It looks similar to any other bedrooms in the mansion except that it is not because he perceives there is no bed but only a large table with lots of bookshelves. This must be a study. Judging by the only framed picture of Queen Kim on the wall ahead of him, this must be her study. Why did the Head of the maid bring him here anyway?


“Hello, Prince Junmyeon.”


Junmyeon looks to his right and sees Lady Kim coming out from a door that connects to her bedroom. He frowns because never in his whole life she has called him by that title. “I see you had a visitor yesterday night,” The Queen begins with a coy smirk, absolutely pleased by the surprise on the filth’s face, “He has been coming over often, I presume?” Junmyeon has his mouth shut, unable to say anything.


He is horrified because she knows. She knows about Prince Yifan. “My dear sweet Junmyeon,” Her face changes something akin to sadness which is obviously fake, “I have something to tell you for a long, long time.” Junmyeon cannot even run away because he wants to know what she knows. “First of all, I want to express my disappointment that you have fallen for a despicable creature. You have no idea what they—”


“I did not ask for your opinion,” Junmyeon snidely remarks with formality, praising himself for not stuttering. “You dare cut me off while I was speaking?” Junmyeon is not afraid of her anymore. She knows this. Lady Kim’s surprised visage transforms as rage fills her being, “Do you know what they have done?!” Junmyeon frowns. The Queen nears him with fast angry steps, speaking with pure hatred, “They are the cause for my eldest to be bedridden.”  




“Of course you do not know,” She turns around, her nightgown twirling against her legs, heading slowly to her large desk, “You are too deep with that equally filthy creature.” Junmyeon fists his hands firmly. What is she talking about? “You still do not get it?” Junmyeon does not give her an answer, simply staring at her with anticipation mixed with anxiety. Lady Kim chuckles heartlessly, “My eldest has been bitten by them.”


His assumption has been correct after all.


Even though he knew this, it still shocks him.


“The lovely prince you are in love with,” She pauses dramatically before sending him the cruellest gaze, “He is only after your blood.” No. That is not true. Junmyeon knows she is trying to detain him. “I had my revenge on killing one of them,” She displays a pleased smile as she recollects the news, “It was not him who bit my eldest but I guess it was the King? Oh well, it does not matter.”


It is as if a thunder struck into Junmyeon by the piece of information.


No way.


This is not real.


But the evil smile on the Queen’s face is too authentic.


“You killed— You murdered his father—”


“And you are going to kill the next King for me,” She comes ahead with something in her hand. Junmyeon glares at the woman with abhorrence. Lady Kim coos horribly sweet, “I did not kill him, sweet Junmyeon. I have only sent trustable people to do the dirty work for me.” Junmyeon drifts his gaze away, afraid he may not control himself from doing something stupid, “You are the worst.”


The Queen grabs the male’s wrist tightly until it hurts, “If I did not avenge my child, who will?” Junmyeon swats her hand away, looking at her with disbelief. Killing a random stranger which was not the culprit and not feeling the slightest guilt about it? Has she gone insane? “Listen here,” She shoves something towards his chest and keeps it there as she speaks, “You are going to kill the new King.”


Junmyeon’s brows pinch deeply, “Why would I do that?” She presents him with a sinister smile, retrieving the thing and she opens it, unveiling a very sharp knife, “Your lovely brother is getting worse, is he not? It will be such a shame if he does not make it if one of the maids slip something into his drink…” Junmyeon’s eyes widen with fear until the formality is long forgotten, “You’re insane— You’re out of your mind—”


“I will banish you before my eldest dies so that I can take over your father’s throne!”


Junmyeon feels sick.


She has gone mental.


“Or,” She pauses, having that sickening sweet smile again, “Your brother will live only if you do something for me in return.” Junmyeon knows what he has to do. She cunningly hands him the sheath knife after putting it inside the holder, “Iron weakens them. Aim for the heart.” Junmyeon takes it with shaky fingers, trying his best not to tears up. “Good boy,” Lady Kim smirks with joy, “I will have the butler to send you to China to the prince’s coronation. Off you go.”


“You are really the worst,” Junmyeon holds it tightly, tears flowing down to his cheeks, “No wonder Father despised you.” Lady Kim tuts, not feeling offended at all, “You may now leave if there is nothing else other than for you looking pathetic in front of me.” As she hears the door closing behind her, she smiles wickedly. Her plan is working. She knows the filth will not do the task. He will probably spend this whole month crying like the weakling he is before taking his own life.


Junmyeon tells the truth to the new King himself.


“My mother… S-She is the one responsible for your father’s death… She knew your family was different… Someone has b-bitten my brother and-and that is why he has been sick…”


Yifan is shocked to the core until he is unable to say anything. His dead heart hurts seeing his soulmate crying but it aches more for his late father. Yifan turns to the opposite side, startling the human by the swift movement. “King Yifan… ?” Said male lets out bloody tears by the soft weak voice. He does not wish to do this but he is truly wounded, “Leave, Prince Junmyeon.” Junmyeon’s heart breaks by the cold tone of the latter. He reaches out for the taller, “Please do not do this to me. I have nowhere to go. She—”


“I said leave. I do not want to see you.”


It is like a knife has been stabbed through Junmyeon’s chest. The King does not want to see him. Hurts. It hurts. He should have told him about his stepmother. Maybe he has a chance to say it now. “I—” “Leave this instance.” The next words are clogged up in Junmyeon’s throat. He indeed leaves, covering his mouth to prevent sobs coming out. “Follow him and see if he reaches the airport,” Yifan commands, knowing Zitao must be watching and listening to them.


“Will do, Your Majesty.”


Yifan snatches his coronation robes and heads straight to his room after telling the host to dismiss dinner on his schedule. He does not feel like doing anything right now other than being locked up in his bedroom. Why did Lady Kim order the humans to kill his father? What did his father do? Why? Has his human knew this for a long time? Does he have his reasons for not telling about this sooner?


Was Prince Junmyeon lying to him all this time… ?




Months pass by.


As the King, he has more and more duties to fill. He cannot even remember when the last time he had a long sleep. With his mother’s guidance, everything goes well according to plan. Surprisingly, Yifan is not sick. There is only one thing though. The last name of his soulmate on his chest is gone. Yifan cannot recall how many weeks have passed. He is still disconcerted about what he knew that night.


There is no way he can look into Prince Junmyeon’s eyes without remembering what he was told.


Yifan does not want to think about that now. He has to leave for Vietnam tonight for the strays’ rescue mission. It is their second time. The first rescue was a success. Unfortunately, a few have passed on due to the humans’ cruel experimenting. “Have you forgotten about someone, Your Majesty?” Yifan does not need to look behind to see who it is. He pretends to be occupied packing his clothes even though the maid insisted to do so. His mother just left to do the same thing. 


“I’m talking to you,” Zitao crosses his arms against his chest, leaning on the huge wooden doorframe. The King is only a King in front of the public. When they are alone, they are cousins. “I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.” A scowl appears on Zitao’s forehead by the flat response. Has the King returned to an asshole again? “You know who I’m talking about,” Zitao heads inside with careful steps, sensing the baleful aura rising from the King.


“Can you think about it? On what you said to him that night?”


Yifan’s hand brackets the young prince’s neck within a speed of light, his eyes flaring a bright scarlet. Zitao smiles sadly, “You should’ve seen his face. He looked like he was going to give up his life.” The grip on his neck increases but it is unnecessary. Their kind can hold in their breath for an endless time. “I think what you’re doing is wrong,” Zitao pries off his cousin’s hold as he stares at the elder sharply.


“I think what you should do is mind your own fucking business.”


Zitao speaks when the King vamooses for the door, “You killed the humans who murdered your father without investigating. Just because you can’t kill your soulmate, you’re going to repeat the same mistake by avoiding him? For how long?” Yifan stops. No. He does not want to think about this. He wants to forget about this. He has made his decision ever since that night. He will pretend he has never met the prince.


The happiness he felt with his soulmate…


He will forget them all.


Yifan needs to.


Or else he will not be able to proceed with his duties.


He does not want to surrender to these feelings.


He does not want to be weak.


“I think there was something more for him to tell,” Zitao lays his hand on the elder’s shoulder, trying to get the reality into the thick head of his, “He trusts you, didn’t he?” Yifan is close-mouthed. “If you wanted to end everything that you had with him, why did you order me to check if he went to the airport that night? You do care for him even after what he told you, don’t you?” Yifan does not say anything.


“You knew something was wrong, didn’t you?”


His cousin has voiced out it all. He indeed felt something was wrong but still, his father died under the hands of Kim’s. The prince is one of them. He will not be able to forgive that. Ever. “Don’t do this to yourself, brother. You’ll regret it.” Yifan swats the hand on his shoulder before taking his leave for real. Zitao sighs sadly as he watches the figure disappear into the shadows of the hallway.




Hongbin glances left and right, spotting no one guarding the high-security steel door which leads to an underground dungeon. “Be quiet,” He hushes the two who are bickering to hold the food in the container, “Do you want to get us killed?” They cover their mouths instantly. Slowly, the three of them head their way for the door. “You stepped on my foot, Jaehwan. Twice,” Taekwoon growls under his breath, glancing behind angrily.


“Oh, I truly apologize, Your Majesty. Can’t you see it’s dark in here?”


“How can I see the dark when it’s already dark?”


“Use your eyes, Taekwoon!”


“I said quiet!”


Hongbin shushes them as they finally reach the last step of the long stairs. “How on earth are we going to find him?” Jaehwan clings next to Taekwoon as they see nothing but pitch black. Hongbin takes out the small torch from his pocket and switches it on. This is the dungeon. They have never stepped a foot here before. It is honestly downright creepy. They are startled by the squeaks of mice heading to their direction as they wallow deeper into the cave-like passage.


“Your Highness?”


Jaehwan calls out timidly, having a steel-like grip around Taekwoon’s arm. The Queen has no heart. How can she leave the prince in this spooky place? It is cold too. It would have been better if he was locked up in his bedroom. They can sneak in and out to pass food. The moment Prince Junmyeon returned from China, the three secretly watched the prince being dragged away by the Queen’s order.


Hongbin nearly went to the scene to stop them but he knows the consequences.


It has been months they attempted to sneak into the dungeon and now, they have succeeded. As far as they know, there will be guard going to the dungeon thrice a week. Sometimes it will be twice a week. Today, the record has been broken. The prince has eaten nothing for one whole week. That is why they are here. “Why on earth did they have to put him so far when there’s no one in the cells we have passed?” Jaehwan’s timid voice echoes along the endless dark path.


It is true. The cells on both of their sides are empty, some filled with skeletons of humans where they shrieked together in unison when Hongbin averted the light of the torch. “Maybe it’s on purpose,” Hongbin mumbles back a reply. He has not known the Queen will be so cruel. Scratch that, she is downright evil and has no sense of humanity. “I see a light,” Taekwoon pulls him out of his murderous thoughts.


“Your Highness!”


Jaehwan exclaims, fisting the bars. Everyone gapes at the thin figure leaned against the wall lifelessly. Before he can call the prince again, his palms itch by the rusty iron bars. “Ouch,” Jaehwan rubs the little rusty pieces away from his hands, “Why this cell is only made of iron?” Hongbin thinks he knows the answer but it is best not to reveal what he knows. “Your Highness,” Hongbin aims the light on the prince’s face.


A gasp leaves his mouth. The prince looks terrible. There is dirt smudged on his sunken cheeks, hair semi-long and unkempt. The condition of his clothes are worse. Taekwoon grabs Hongbin’s wrist and he moves the light downwards. There is an iron cuff on the prince’s left wrist, a chain connecting it to the wall a few inches above his head. Maybe he cannot reach to the bars of the cell.


How will they pass the food, then?


They cannot just throw it…


Junmyeon’s eyelids start to flutter as a pointed light invades his dark vision. He peels his eyes open with difficulty. “Your Highness? Can you hear us?” Junmyeon guesses he has gone insane. “Your Highness. It is us.” Junmyeon lowers his hand from his face by the familiar voice. He waits for his sight to become clear and once it does, he spots three figures outside his cell. He squints his eyes to have a clearer look. Junmyeon nearly gasps, “Hongbin… ?”


“Are you hurt, Your Highness?”


“Not at all,” Junmyeon hunches as he cradles his head before only grasping the fact that they are here. His servants are here. His eyes are wide as he strives to stand on his feet but ends up on his knees instead, “Why are you here? You will get caught! Leave—” “Can you come towards us, Your Highness?” Junmyeon indeed follows what he says, crawling on the hard ground, eyes never leaving them, “Hongbin, please. You need to get out before—”


“We brought you food,” Jaehwan smiles a bit forcefully as he shows the container. Junmyeon’s stomach grumbles by the mention of food. Food. It has been seven days since he has not had anything to fill up his stomach. He tries his hardest to stand. His clothes are worn out, torn here and there as he attempted to free himself but to no avail. Taekwoon snatches the container before handing it to him through the iron bars.


Jaehwan’s glare to Taekwoon is gone unnoticed. “Thank you… You three should not have come. The guards will—” “We will do a better job bringing you food,” Jaehwan interrupts with a grin before it dies down as he rolls his eyes, “Besides, the guards are up to something so they are not really around the mansion that much.” Junmyeon frowns. Has Lady Kim ordered them to kill the King?




She cannot.


Junmyeon peeps down at his wrist. The last name of King Yifan’s is not there. “Thank you,” He sends them a tearful smile, “How I wish I can reward you all…” Jaehwan waves his hand absentmindedly, “We are good as long as you are fine, Your Highness, but um, you do not look that fine now…” Taekwoon mumbles with hidden determination, “We will try our best to get you out of here.” Hongbin nods, agreeing, “We will bring fresh clothes for you too.”


Junmyeon nods weakly, smiling at them again, “Thank you all. You should leave now, just in case.” The three bow deeply but Junmyeon urges them to stand straight. The first thing he does once they are gone is gobbling down the food. He then stores it under the huge piece of rug which is his bed. The chains rattle as he covers his face with his dirty hands. He has been crying for days. He has had enough of this.


Why has not the Queen killed him off?


Why does he have to suffer like this?


Peeking at his wrist, Junmyeon sobs harder as he sees the name. He does not understand why it is fading but he does not need to know the reason. It has been months since he has seen the light. Junmyeon is accustomed to the darkness where he used to be afraid of it. He kind of likes it already. No one can see how pathetic he is. No one. No one… Not even the new King. Another day passes by crying himself to sleep.




Yifan inspects himself. The middle name is gone. He should not be feeling anything about it. Once it is fully gone, he will be free again. He does not care to wait for another hundred years for a soulmate. In fact, he does not want one at all. It is better this way. Or is it not… ? Blood fills on the corner of his eyes as he sees a faded image of a crying Prince Junmyeon’s on the mirror. He splashes the running tap water on it, his heart beating for once as he takes a rare deep breath.


It is gone.


With an angry grunt, he leaves the bathroom half-nude, tossing the towel to the laundry bin. “Yifan?” He does not turn around as he stands by the bed. “Son,” Lady Wu cradles his cheek, smiling up to him softly, “Are you okay?” Yifan softens by her touch, holding her hand closely. He does not respond but his face sure shows it. “Do you regret your decision?” Yifan is emotionless by the question, unblinking.


“Do you miss him?”


Yifan turns away by the question, heading straight for the balcony. His mother trails behind him, trying to stop her son from flying, “Yifan—” “Mother,” He begins as he rests his palms on the ledge, hunching his back as a deep sigh leaves his mouth, “I don’t want to talk about it.” She lays a hand on his back as she peers up to her son gazing down at her rose garden, “Why not?”


“He’s a Kim—”


“Zitao told me. You should know he’s not related to the Queen—”




“Are you afraid, Yifan?”


Yifan steps away as he faces her with disbelief, “Me? Afraid? I’m the King, Mother. I’m not afraid.” Lady Wu smiles sadly before shifting her gaze down to her garden, “Well, the former King was.” Yifan blinks at her, “Huh?” His mother gazes at the empty sky, her face turning poignant, “He was always afraid, Yifan.” She then faces her son, smiling so painfully until Yifan feels hurt, “He was always afraid of losing you.”


Yifan tugs his mother into his arms. He cannot stand seeing her crying or else he will too. “You’re his pride. He’ll always tell me that.” Yifan tightens his embrace, mumbling into her neck, “I miss him.” Lady Wu closes her eyes, patting and rubbing his back calmly, “Me too, son…” Once they part away, Yifan leaves a kiss on her forehead as an apology for raising his voice at her earlier.


“Now tell me. What are you afraid of?”


Yifan’s expression freezes. He looks down as he gives his response, “I can’t tell you.” She cradles his face lovingly, glancing downward at the faded name before to her son, “Are you still firm with your decision?” Yifan looks elsewhere, not wanting her to see his face. He is not supposed to feel sad. Prince Junmyeon is just another human. Humans will be always humans. “I’ll take that as a yes,” Lady Wu sighs unhappily, freeing her son’s gloomy face.


Yifan does not dare to speak a word about the prince.


He wants to forget.


He needs to.


He will never change his mind.


“Don’t forget about tomorrow’s meeting,” She pecks on his cheek and looks at him with faith in her eyes, “I trust in what you do, Yifan.” The taller nods mutely. Lady Wu stops by the door, “Yifan?” He swivels his head by her call. “Don’t be afraid of what you fear or else it’ll chase you down. It happened to your father.” Yifan is not able to give a response. His mother then leaves him for real.


Yifan ends up staring at the blank sky, thinking about his fear of being killed.


“Don’t you still get it?”


Yifan groans inwardly, “I thought you’re heading back to Qingdao.” Zitao flaps his bat wings for one last time before landing steadily on the ground, “I’m not leaving until General Luhan returns.” Yifan sends him the sharpest glare, “Then do me a favour if you’re going to be my bodyguard. Shut up.” Zitao crosses his arms against his chest, totally ignoring the hidden warning, “It’s been months, brother. Aren’t you going to see him? To check at least if he’s still alive?”


Yifan barks with clenched teeth, “I told you to shut up.” Zitao gets on his nerves even more, “You’re such an asshole, you know that?” A strong blow lands on his face. Yifan screams at his cousin with his eyes flaring in the brightest red, “You wouldn’t know if your soulmate tried to fucking kill you!” Zitao halts rubbing his jaw as he analyses the King with wide eyes. This is his first time watching his cousin’s outburst.


So this is his fear all along?


Zitao’s gaze softens before it turns bitter, “Do you think he wanted to?” Yifan parts his mouth but he shuts it close. He remembers that night clearly. No. He wants to forget. He needs to forget about it. He does not want to recall that night. “He tried to kill himself that night because he couldn’t do it. He has a pure heart, brother. He loves you. Why can’t you see that?” Yifan’s throat is all choked up.


“I know you’re angry, sad and afraid—”


“I’m not afraid—”


Admit it, brother. Your mother told you not to hang onto your fear, didn’t she?”


Yifan is silent. Zitao sighs dejectedly while nearing him, “Look… Prince Junmyeon has nothing to do with your father’s death. Neither does his brother,” He tries to be civil, “Please understand this, Your Majesty.” Yifan does not want to hear this any longer. Zitao watches as the King flies away to the sky. Another sigh passes his mouth as he stares at the fading figure, “I hope you’ll change before it’s too late…”




Junmyeon is glad that three of his servants making their visits but deep down, he has an inkling that they would be discovered soon. The mere thought of it scares him so much. They are coming down to the dungeon often these days. Sometimes alone. He will always tell them not to come every day but they will brush it off saying they are doing this for him. Junmyeon makes a promise to himself.


Once he is out of here, he will free those three from the mansion.


Jaehwan is alone again today. Junmyeon smiles by the sight of the male but the servant looks… Dazed. As if something is troubling him. “Jaehwan? Is anything the matter?” He does not even radiate the usual bright personality like he always does. Did the three of them fight? Junmyeon grips the rusty bars with a hand, his other not being able to reach due to the cuff’s chain attached to the wall.


“It is nothing, Your Highness.”


He looks kind of scared too. Junmyeon wants to probe more but Jaehwan bows his head while handing the dried clothes before taking his leave instantly. Junmyeon frowns with worry. Did something happen? A couple of days later, he is delighted to see the three of them together. The solemn Jaehwan is no longer there as he greets Junmyeon cheerfully. The other two only shushes him like always, emitting a soft laughter from the prince.


He has been feeling down hours ago because King Yifan’s middle name on his wrist has vanished. He misses the taller badly but what can he do if the latter does not even feel the same? Ignoring the telltale signs of waterworks, he listens to the three talking about what is happening instead. The Queen has been leaving the mansion frequently with the guards. They cannot find a reason why.


They then talk about their days, with Taekwoon interrupting Jaewhan which leads them to a petty mouth-fight with Hongbin shushing them loudly. Junmyeon cannot help but notice they are taking a long time to leave. Well, he does not mind it one bit. It is nice to have them here other than crying his eyes out for hours. He shakes his head with a small laughter as Jaehwan glares at the smug Taekwoon with Hongbin face-palming.


“Your Highness?”


The three call him in unison. Junmyeon looks at them questioningly with a fond smile. “We are glad to serve you even though we recently resided here.” Junmyeon’s fond smile grows wider as he bows, “I am glad to have you three as my friends.” The servants instantly urge the prince to face them while stammering, flustered as the prince referred them as friends. All of them share a small laughter as they look at each other.


Junmyeon shoots them another affectionate smile, remembering his promise towards them. “We will come again tomorrow,” Hongbin smiles, praying he looks casual same goes for the rest. Junmyeon does not even tell them not to come anymore. He nods with the same humble smile as he tells them to be careful on their way back. The servants leave gloomily. They are ready to face the reality waiting for them outside the dungeon.




Something is wrong.


Junmyeon can feel it.


His servants have not been coming over for days.


He keeps waiting but a week has passed.


Something is definitely off.




Junmyeon holds his breath when he hears footsteps nearing his cell. He clumsily gets up, nearing to the bars when he spots a light. “Waiting for your lovely friends?” Junmyeon backs away once he hears the spiteful voice. It is the Queen. He swallows the lump in his throat. She has a malicious smirk on her face as the lights are on her. “What have you done to them,” He asks, his voice swelling with anger.


“Oh I do not know,” She looks at her clear polished nails before throwing a crooked smile to his way, “But I do know they will not be coming down here anymore.” Junmyeon’s expression falters and Lady Kim loves the reaction. “Oh sweet Junmyeon,” She coos as she glances overfondly at the guards, “You know what will happen if none of them are loyal to me.” A shiver goes down his spine by her vicious tone.


“W-What have you d-done to them… ?”


He gets the answer he never wanted to hear.


“They have been sentenced to death due to their disloyalty.”


Junmyeon falls on his knees out of shock. No. This is not happening. No… He examines his hands which are at the ground, tears dropping without resistance. The servants knew about it. They did not want to tell him about it. “That is where you are supposed to be,” Lady Kim tuts at the filth, “If you were not born, they would have lived a peaceful life out there. It is all your fault.” Junmyeon hiccups and he covers his mouth instantly, preventing the ugly sobs from coming out.




He should not have been friends with them.


He should not have interacted with them.


He should not have allowed them to the dungeon after the first day.


“Now I wonder, where is your beloved King, hm?”


Junmyeon cries harder in silence.


He should not have met Yifan.


None of this would have happened.


“Did I not told you before?”


Junmyeon plants his palms over his head as it starts to hurt, the chains making noises as he does so. The Queen leans close to the rusty bars, eyeing the filth with bitterness, “Are you still hoping for him to come and save you? Oh, how romantic. I told you that he is only after your blood. Now I want you to feel what my eldest is going through right now because of them—”


“What makes you think listening to you right now talking about my brother that you wanted me to kill once I failed what you asked for me to do for you? Why are you using him?”


So he knows. Lady Kim has never thought the filth will be this smart. She laughs briefly, “He is going to die anyway.” Junmyeon glares at her with hatred, his hands shooting up to fist the iron bars so loudly until it startles everyone including the Queen, the sound echoing through the dark pathway. “Do not ever lay a finger on him,” Junmyeon seethes. Lady Kim rolls her eyes, “As if you can tell me what to do. I will do what is right.”


“Everything you are doing right now is just so wrong,” Junmyeon exclaims. “The throne was rightfully mine from the beginning,” The Queen shoots daggers to the filth, her visage changing to something Junmyeon cannot even recognize anymore, “Everything was supposed to be mine until Minseok came. When you came, everything just went worse.” Junmyeon frowns. Why is she so obsessed over the throne?


“None of them will be able to live once I take over,” Lady Kim grins with a glint of evil in her eyes, “No one from the Council will believe their existence unless Minseok passes on. You too. Your death will wipe out their whole existence.” Junmyeon shudders. That is her plan? To kill all of that kind? “Your time will come soon,” She turns away, her long blonde hair copying her movements, head held high, “Keeping praying for someone to come and save you.”


Junmyeon’s perception clouds once again. He does a mistake by glancing at the last name on his wrist. A new set of fresh tears flood over following by a loud sob. He would rather be dead right now. Curling up on the rug, Junmyeon cries and cries. He hates himself as he cannot do anything but weeping in here. He wishes his stepbrother will be safe and sound. He wishes the same for King Yifan too.


If only he is one of their kind…




Yifan will always fly to forget the memories spent with the Korean prince.


Whenever he sees the moon from up-close, he remembers the shorter’s warmth.


He remembers how he held on.


He remembers his beauty.


He remembers their last kiss.


Yifan recalls it all every time he tries to forget.


Zitao does his duty every day and every night, watching the King. He wonders what exactly is in the King’s head. They have never conversed since their argument. Zitao leaves him be. Lady Wu has not mentioned a word about the voiceless tension during every dinner. She hopes for him to help her son but even Zitao does not know what to do now but to keep an extra eye on him. Yifan himself must accept fate.


So there is nothing else they can do.


It has been a couple of months and General Luhan still has not returned. It looks like he does not have to worry about the King’s safety due to the increased guards in the Wu manor. The Slayers have captured a few of the Royals. They are being experimented by humans. Due to the stress of not being able to save them (because the King and his people could not find the secret lab this time), Yifan has become distant.


Even to his mother. Zitao knows the King is normally a reserved person but he is turning quieter than before. He is honestly worried. Yifan has had enough flying so he decides to return. He misses his footing once he lands. He tumbles on the ground of the balcony with a loud grunt. Once he is on his feet, his mother is right in front of him. “You had never fallen,” She cradles his arms, smiling briefly, “Do you want to talk?”


Yifan gently peels her hands away, “No,” before heading inside. “Yifan,” She calls sadly, “Yifan, please.” The son turns around, spotting the hopeful yet apprehensive expression on her face. Yifan heads to her and hugs her, “I’m fine, Mother.” Her son is a terrible liar but Lady Wu decides not to comment about it. “Zitao is leaving tomorrow.” Yifan parts away quickly, surprised by the sudden news, “What?”


“He didn’t tell you?”


“No… He didn’t.”


Why his cousin is heading back to South Korea?


“Has the general returned?”


She shakes her head curtly, “Yifan, listen. I need to tell you something.” He does not pay any attention though as he hurries for the exit, “Not now, Mother—” “Just listen,” She grabs her son’s hand and holds it dearly. Yifan patiently waits for her sake. “You don’t have to avenge your father,” She speaks softly, “You don’t have to—” Yifan frees himself in an instant, looking away from her as his face changes.


He speaks with a cold tone, “I won’t change my mind, Mother. I won’t spare anyone alive for those who are involved.” Lady Wu smiles slightly at the choice of his words, “Including your soulmate?” Yifan does not respond. He keeps staring at the polished floor. “Listen, dear. You won’t meet a human like him in the next centuries. I’m sure your father would’ve made you two meet by now if he was alive. In fact,” She stands in front of him, smiling sweetly, “He might be the one who led you to your soulmate that night.”


Yifan leaves. His mother can only let out a sigh as her son’s figure disappears. She withdraws to her bedroom with a sad face. “He’s as stubborn as you were,” Lady Wu gazes at the huge family photo of the three of them, more specifically at the figure of her smiling husband, “I did everything I could, darling. Please show him the right path…” The taller has taken an immediate sit by the stairs, clutching his hair.


“You won’t meet a human like him in the next centuries.”


His mother is right.


He has told the prince he is not like any other princes himself.


Zitao was right too.


The prince and his brother has nothing to do with his father’s death.


Upon realizing that, Yifan sprints to his cousin’s room. He opens the door without knocking, only to see an empty bed greeting his sight. His face falls. Has he left already? “What do you want?” Yifan drops his hand from the handle as Zitao enters the guestroom. “Why are you leaving tomorrow?” Zitao scoffs, “Oh I don’t know? Maybe because you don’t need my company anymore? Maybe because you have all in control? Everything I say comes out wrong anyway so—”


“Not entirely wrong,” Yifan interrupts, hoping he is not showing any sign of anxiousness. Zitao stops walking to the balcony and turns to face his elder cousin. The King seems to be… Nervous. Nevertheless, Zitao does not have the energy to talk to him right now. It may lead to another argument. “Please leave if you have nothing to say, Your Majesty.” Yifan takes a step forward, sighing deeply, “You were… Right. Mother was right too.”


A questioning brow raises on Zitao’s forehead, “So?” Yifan’s eyes dart everywhere but at the young prince, “He might be innocent—” “Might be, you say?” When the King does not speak a word after that, he launches himself in front of him, frowning deeply, “Do you trust him or not?” Yifan remains speechless, eyes glued down to the floor. Zitao laughs bitterly, “Of course. Why would I expect an answer from you, Your Majesty?”




“Please leave.”


“I’m willing to give him a chance—”


“You don’t have to because he may not be alive.”


Yifan stumbles a few steps back by the unexpected reply. Is that why the prince’s name is fading? Is he dying… ? “I told you before, haven’t I? He has zero involvement in this. He’s been sent to kill you but he aimed the knife to himself. Can’t you see that action alone speaks more than a thousand words?” Yifan stares down to the floor with more silence. Zitao wishes the King will just leave him in peace. He will not listen to him anyway so why waste his time.


Lady Wu must be really upset. He, too, is very upset. “Will you do me a favour, Zitao?” The young prince frowns, wondering what it will be. “Can you visit him… ?” Zitao nearly sees red, “Why can’t you do that on your own?” He knows he is being disrespectful by the choice of his words but he just cannot be patient any longer. “Unfortunately, I need to be in Japan for a week starting tomorrow.” Zitao nearly screams but then, he remembers that his cousin is the King and a King has many duties to fulfill.


He finds his voice again after clearing his throat but the anger still has not subsided, “What do you want me to do? Say hi? What if he’s dead?” There is confidence lacing the King’s tone as he replies a firm, “He’s not.” Zitao gives him a nasty look, “How are you so sure about that?” Yifan explains with the same confidence, “His name would’ve disappeared if he isn’t alive,” before his face turns to something else Zitao thought he will never see.




“I’m sorry for being an asshole before. This isn’t an order. I’m asking this favour as your cousin.”


The young prince is flabbergasted as the King bows his head. Zitao does not reply fast as he ponders for a moment. All he wants to do back in Seoul is to have a nice long sleep but now, the King has just asked a favour… It will be a dishonour not to do it, is it not? Zitao puts his hand on Yifan’s shoulder and tells him to stand straight. Yifan waits for his answer. He bows back to the King, “As you wish, brother.”




“B-Bring me something else,” Minseok swats the cup away from his mouth, “This isn’t h-healing me and I’m sick of it.” The head maid has her face hanging low, afraid by the enraged prince since he is not speaking formally, “But Your Highness, the Queen has ordered me to—” “Well I’m ordering you to give me something else right now. Go.” He does not take notice of the irked expression on the head maid’s face before she leaves momentarily.


Minseok places two of his fingers on his temple, massaging it. It has been so long he has seen Junmyeon. He knows what happened. If only he can stand for more than ten minutes on his own feet without any support. Not only that, he truly despises the herb drink. It only makes him sicker. How the maids have not noticed it, he does not have a single clue. Slowly caressing the wound on his neck with the palm of his hand, Minseok wonders if his stepbrother is doing fine.


Just then, the door to his room opens. Lady Kim enters with the head maid behind her, head held high. “Son,” She smiles too sweetly, “How are you feeling?” Minseok does not look at her, eyes casting down to the duvet, “I want to see Junmyeon.” The Queen resists the urge to roll her eyes by the mention of the filth’s name, “Oh my… He is not in the right condition—” “Bet you made him feel that way,” Minseok mumbles before coughing, his whole body convulsing.


The head maid takes this chance as she serves him the tea. “I-I don’t w-want this,” Minseok covers his mouth before coughing again. “Do you want to die, then?” His gaze flies up to his mother by the statement. Lady Kim smiles, “My dearest son,” She retrieves the cup from the maid and sits nears his covered legs on the bed, “This is specially made for you so that they would not be near you.” Minseok frowns, “What are you talking about?”


His mother’s visage hardens, “The one who is responsible for the scar on your neck.” Minseok’s eyes are glazed with fear, “What do you—” “Vervain is their weakness, son. I told the maids to mix it with our traditional herbs—” “Are you crazy? They do not exist—” “Tell me why you have been sick ever since your birthday celebration? The wound on your neck is not enough proof for you to understand what or more precisely who made you like this?”


Minseok falls quiet as a chill runs down his spine. They do exist. But the man he met that night was so… Human. His hand unconsciously comes up to his neck for the bitten mark. Why that man did not drink all of his blood? “I am not the crazy one here. It is your little brother.” Minseok scowls at her, “What are you talking about?” She hands him the cup and Minseok takes it, “He has fallen for one of them.”


He nearly drops it on his bed. “I have told him the creature is only after his blood but… He seems to stick with his own decision. He has gone insane, son. That is why I had no choice to put him in the dungeon.” Minseok’s eyes nearly bulge out from its sockets, “You what?” Lady Kim’s face turns sad, “He… He is not the Junmyeon you know anymore.” Minseok is left dumbfounded. So his stepbrother has met one of that kind before?


Not wanting to believe that Junmyeon has gone mad, he drinks the substance from the cup to take the Queen’s trust. She smiles gleefully as she retrieves it, “Always remember to drink this, okay?” Minseok agrees mutely. She assumes he must be too shocked to even speak. Holding in a smirk, she leaves after reminding the head maid to keep an eye on him. Minseok lays on the bed, unable to let his mind rest.


Junmyeon must have had his reason but falling for one of them…


It is unbelievable.


What is even worse than that?


His mother has placed his stepbrother in the dungeon.


Now that is ridiculous.


She should have just let him be.


Minseok wants to see him.


He needs answers and if he can, he will help Junmyeon to get out of there.


He has a feeling his mother is hiding something.




Minseok falls even sicker the next day. He cannot get out of bed. He even needs people to bring him to the lavatory. Everything he consumes comes out minutes later. He feels like dying. His mother is by his side until night comes. Minseok does not want her to leave but she has to. With him being bedridden, she is the one who has been attending his duties as the next successor. Minseok cries at night, wanting to see Junmyeon but not being able to do so.




Standing outside Prince Junmyeon’s supposed room at the balcony, Zitao knocks twice on the huge window. No answer. He does it again and there is no difference. Zitao frowns. Is he not inside? Flying over to the other balcony, still in mid-air, he spots curtains fluttering outside with the wind. This room has its window open. Maybe he can sneak inside to find the prince. Just then, Zitao feels fishy.


It is as if a huge magnetic force is pushing away as he draws the curtains away to get inside. His head starts to buzz so he shakes it away. The last time he felt like this as centuries ago when witches and wizards still existed. Glancing inside, a huge four-poster bed greets his sight with a medium-sized table beside it. On it, there is a silver teapot and a silver teacup. No wonder. Zitao cannot head inside the room from here so he appears next to the bed through the shadows.


There is a body lying on the floor.


“Prince Junmyeon?”


Zitao cannot get too close to the human this time and he does not understand. He attempts to reach for the fallen male but then, his fingers start to burn. Zitao pulls his hand away in an instant, clutching it dearly as his eyes are wide on the figure. He walks around the fallen body and sees a pale face. He frowns. This is not the prince he is looking for. Zitao nearly stumbles once he hears the doors opening. Fortunately, he is hiding in the shadows right on time.


“Your Highness?!”


The maids rush in, promptly nursing him up to the bed with care. Zitao’s sharp eyes catch a very familiar wound on the prince’s neck. He blinks rapidly, wondering if he has seen it wrong. The maids have left to fetch the Queen because the prince is not showing any signs of waking up. Zitao reappears beside him. The strange feeling is evident and it especially radiates from this prince. As he looks at the lifeless figure, there is a little resemblance to someone.


So this is Prince Junmyeon’s stepbrother. There is indeed a bite mark on his neck. Zitao does not dare to touch him. If he does, he will burn into ashes. His whole hand is hurting now, all red and stinging. He conceals himself again once the door opens. “Son,” Lady Kim pretends to care as she pats her eldest’s cheek, “Look at me, dear.” Zitao senses something from the Queen. Something malevolent.


“Jun… J-Junmyeon,” Minseok breathes out his stepbrother’s name weakly as a response. Lady Kim shoots a glare to the head maid, “I thought I told you to finish him.” Zitao’s eyes widen. What does she mean by finish him? “I know they will come for him,” She throws a pathetic look down at the figure mumbling Junmyeon’s name, “Especially the one who bit him.” She rises to her feet, sharpening her gaze to every maid, “That is why I told you all to increase the dose of vervain.”


An unpleasant shiver washes Zitao’s whole body by the mention of the herb. He also realizes he has gotten something big. This is not only Prince Junmyeon’s stepbrother. “Never let him out if he tries again. Let his filthy little brother rot in the dungeon before I send him somewhere… Pleasant,” Lady Kim smiles wickedly as an idea erupts. Zitao covers his mouth to remain mute. The King must know this.


He must leave right now. Carefully avoiding the teapot filled with vervain, Zitao flees away by flying high. He hopes the brothers will be safe and sound by the time he returns. Hours later without even stopping anywhere, Zitao falls on the floor of his cousin’s study after getting the latter’s permission. “Your Majesty,” His voice is wrapped with exhaustion, “They’re in trouble.” Yifan, who is supporting him sit on the nearest chair, visibly tenses up, “What is it?”


“Prince Junmyeon is locked up in the dungeon.”


Yifan’s expression turns murderous in an instant, “By who?” Zitao swallows, “The Queen herself.” Yifan is downright speechless. Zitao is not finished, “I also found General Luhan’s soulmate… It’s Prince Junmyeon’s stepbrother, Prince Minseok.” He recalls everything he heard and seen from his visit. Yifan heads out with Zitao following close, “Contact the general about this. I have to inform the others to postpone the rescue mission.”


“You can’t do that,” Zitao exclaims. Yifan’s eyes flares with red as he stands face to face with the other, “Why can’t I?” The younger one swallows before calmly explaining, “There’s no flight from Japan to Seoul now. I flew from there. Besides, the others are already prepared for the second attempt to find the Royals tonight. We have to go on with this, brother.” Yifan suppresses a groan.


Zitao is unfortunately right. Yifan needs to save both but he cannot be at two places at the same time. He holds in the urge to shout. A few minutes of silence pass by. Zitao keeps staring at the King for a positive reply. With a heavy sigh, Yifan nods grimly, “Let’s proceed. Do contact Luhan as soon as possible.” Zitao pats him on the back before bowing with respect, “Will do, Your Majesty.”




It has been days since he has eaten. Junmyeon has been living in fear. Every time the guards give him food, one of them has been trying to enter his cell. It happened again just now. Junmyeon is afraid. They have just left the dungeon, the sound of the main door closing echoing throughout the silence being the proof. He is now lying against the wall with his knees drawn up to his chest, the coat with a red shade on the inside nestled on his shoulders.


It is Yifan’s.


The servants handed it to him during the visits. It is the only thing keeping him warm. He stares ahead with his eyes red-rimmed and puffy. He misses them. He misses his stepbrother. He misses Prince Yifan. Junmyeon drops his gaze to his wrists as a hopeless sigh leaves his mouth. A surprised gasp slips out this time. Junmyeon tears up instantly. He has not been expecting this at all. It is gone.


The mandarin characters of Prince Yifan’s name is gone.




Heading inside successfully, he goes straight to the end of the dungeon where Junmyeon is. He stops once he detects someone behind following him. With his heightened eyesight in the dark, he recognizes the other as a tall male makes his appearance. “Your Majesty,” He bows deeply. “Rise, Prince Minseok.” He does what he is told. “Has General Luhan turned you?” Minseok nods, smiling briefly as his hand unknowingly comes up to his neck, “We met yesterday and… He told me everything. Even about my brother and you.”


“Do you trust us?”


“I would not be here if I did not. I want to leave this hellhole. Same goes to my brother,” He pauses as he glances at the taller, “You will take care of him, right?” King Yifan does not give a verbal answer but only a stern nod. He wanted to save Prince Junmyeon earlier but he could not enter the cell through the shadows because of the rusty iron bars. He notices the silk white gloves over Prince Minseok’s hands so he entrusts the male to bring him to Prince Junmyeon.


Zitao is waiting at their regular spot so they can leave right away after he gets to Prince Junmyeon. His dead heart beats once as he thinks of meeting him after one whole year. They are right in front of the cell. Minseok keeps flinching as the rusty bars feel like they are going to burn his skin even though he has his hands protected. Yifan stays far behind, eyeing the slumped figure on the hard floor.


Minseok succeeds in opening the lock without any trouble. The guards were resting so he took the chance to steal it with the help of his soulmate. Yifan watches from the shadows as Minseok heads inside with no difficulties. The smaller kneels to the even smaller figure on the floor. He patiently waits. “Hey… Junmyeon. Wake up, brother.” Junmyeon, startled, backs away aggressively by hearing a voice too close.


“Hey, hey. Relax. It’s me. Minseok.”


Bafflement paints across Junmyeon’s face before it changes to confusion. His stepbrother looks so healthy. Then, Junmyeon jolts with realization. He is here. Minseok is here. The images of his servants come right back at him. Junmyeon pales even further, clutching the sleeve of his stepbrother’s shirt, “Y-You must leave! She won’t— She’ll kill you—” “Listen, brother—” Junmyeon panics, looking around the cell before to Minseok, “You must leave right now—”


“No one can hurt me now,” Minseok calms the smaller by cupping his cheeks and it works, “I know it’s a lot to take in right now but listen, brother. I can’t let you escape with me but there’s someone else will help you.” Junmyeon’s brain is not helping him to cope with the situation since he just woke up, “Who is it… ?” Minseok smiles as he glances behind briefly, “You’ll know it when you see him.” He hugs Junmyeon carefully.


His stepbrother has become so thin until he can feel bones digging against his skin. Minseok pats his hair fondly, “Run away, Junmyeon. Don’t ever come back.” Junmyeon cries because Minseok’s voice sounds heavy with tears, “B-But you—” “I’m fine. I’ve found my soulmate.” Junmyeon’s heart nearly stops as he hears the word. The familiar itch returns to his veins on his wrist. Junmyeon looks down at it out of curiosity. He cannot believe what he is seeing.


The name is there. Yifan’s name is there. Minseok cannot say anything else because footsteps are closing in. “Remember what I said. I’ll search for you. I love you, brother.” Junmyeon slips out a sob but it stops halfway when someone who he thinks he has seen before at the coronation drags Minseok away with urgency to the shadows. Was it his stepbrother’s soulmate?


“Prince Junmyeon.”


Junmyeon’s whole being shakes by the intensity of the voice he has not heard for so long. He lifts his face, unable to see him clearly because of the tears misting his field of vision, “Prince… No… Your M-Majesty…” Junmyeon falls on his chest, having no energy to get up on his feet. Everything left his body when he saw Minseok. Yifan falls on his knees, holding the other close dearly against him as he laments, “What has she done to you…”


Junmyeon takes an unstable breath as he feels Yifan’s body against him. This is real. Yifan is real. He is not hallucinating. They stare at each other for a moment after a year of separation. Yifan cups one side of his face and Junmyeon leans into his touch, trembling. He can feel enormous power radiating from the King. He grabs onto the other, careful not to let the iron cuff and chains reach the other, “I thought you would never come. I-I thought you have forgotten about me. Your name— It was not there yesterday. I missed you—”


Yifan drops him heavyheartedly before concealing himself into the darkness as the footsteps are nearby. He kicks the cell door close with his shoe and continues hiding. Yifan needs information. He might get important stuff from the guards. He never wants to repeat the same mistake as he did for his father’s murderers. He does not understand why there is only one guard. The man Junmyeon fears the most enters.


He tries pushing himself up to sit but the other does that for him by cupping his chin harshly up to face upwards. Yifan wants to rip off the man’s throat but the guard has silver around his neck. “Did the guys forgotten to lock the cell? Oh well, it doesn’t matter anyway. Guess where you’re going tonight?” The guy cackles as he frees Junmyeon from the binds. Junmyeon does not have any will to stand so the guy treats him like trash by hooking his fingers on the back of his shirt to lay him down, enraging Yifan even more.


“You’re going to die tonight.”


Junmyeon watches him with a blank face. “The Queen has ordered me to send you to the wolves. You know where that is?” Junmyeon is not able to do anything as the guy takes off his loose pants before grabbing his thigh. “To the brothel you’ll go. She wants your body tonight. I’ll be your first customer. I’ll treat you well… You sure do have a nice skin—” Yifan pounces on the man from behind and breaks the hand which touched the prince inappropriately without haste.


He has had enough of waiting and all he wants to do is kill this asshole.


Yifan does not give the guy a chance to turn around as he twists the arm so arm until it is unusable. The keys dangling on the guard’s hip make contact on Yifan’s free hand and the King backs away within a second, clutching his burnt hand now. The guy wails in pain as he tumbles on the floor, shouting for help to the top of his lungs. Junmyeon is slumped on the floor, teary eyes watching Yifan in pain.


He calls out for the other without his title for the first time, “Yifan…” The taller hears it and he is right by his soulmate’s side in an instant. “Junmyeon,” Yifan holds their gaze and covers the shorter’s legs with his coat as he, too, drops the title. Junmyeon is scared. Not only the guy is the last person he wants to see, he is also the person who used to make fun of him by pushing him to the floor and calling him names.


He almost fell off from the stairs once.


The guard also called his sick brother a weakling.


He could not do anything else back then or else he would have been beaten up badly.


Junmyeon is scared but there is this odd feeling in his being where all he wants to do is just kill.


“Turn me,” He grips onto Yifan with all of his little energy left, “Turn me into one of your kind…” Yifan gawks at the smaller in disbelief. “You will be powerful,” He delicately brushes the untrimmed bangs away with a finger to look into his soulmate’s eyes, “But it will hurt a lot…” Yifan caresses his hair so lovingly, his dead heart hurting seeing his mate like this. “I want to kill him,” Junmyeon mumbles, looking dead straight at the guy with pure hatred before holding the King’s jaw weakly, “Do it. Please…”


Yifan complies.


It is only because Junmyeon insists.  


He brings the thin figure to his embrace, his nose lightly pressing into the crook of Junmyeon’s neck as he searches for the right artery. The guard watches them with disgust. He is about to shout again for the others (not knowing it is pointless because they are in an underground dungeon) when his eyes widen as he sees fangs growing out from the taller before he sinks them into the prince’s neck.


The guy shuts his eyes close as Junmyeon lets out an ear-splitting scream.


Yifan has his arms firm around his soulmate once he detaches his fangs after assuming there is enough venom flowing through the shorter’s veins. He laps the excess with a swipe of his tongue and the wound heals quickly. Yifan leaves a chaste kiss on it before keeping the shorter in his embrace. His body needs to adjust to the effects of the transformation. Junmyeon’s breathing is laboured, his arms shaking, head dizzy as his heartbeat slows down.


After all of those are gone, he elevates his head to see the King.


Yifan is awfully lovestruck.


Junmyeon’s eyes are in red.




Absolutely ethereal.


“Yifan,” Junmyeon speaks and his voice is still weak and somewhat eager for wanting something on his tongue, “I-I am so thirsty— Hungry—” The King places a forefinger on his mouth, smiling sinisterly as he turns his head to the guy with a broken arm. Junmyeon copies his gaze. His eyes change into a bright angry scarlet. Yifan nears his lips to the shorter’s ear, whispering a soft, “Food is ready, love.”


Junmyeon is atop of the man within a fleeting second.


The guard shrieks out of surprise, using his fine arm to yank off the prince but it is useless. Junmyeon is pinning his arms to the ground, his face hovering over the petrified guard. The prince’s eyes are still in the same colour. He begs for mercy, incoherently muttering apologies as Junmyeon gapes emptily at him. Junmyeon then cocks his head with a questioning smile. The guard gulps, shutting up completely.


That does not look nice at all.


Without warning, Junmyeon twists the other’s hand and a painful yelp is heard, the sound of bones cracking satisfying his hatred. The guard does not fight. He will not stand a chance either. Junmyeon is stronger than ever. King Yifan watches from behind as his soulmate ducks in. He closes his eyes serenely as Junmyeon sucks the life out of the asshole, listening to the screams filling in the dungeon.


Junmyeon stands up without any help after he is done. He stares at the lifeless body. He cannot believe he did this. Junmyeon tumbles a few steps backward, his body still not accustomed to the new changes. His hand reels as he wipes away the crimson dripping from his chin. Warmth fills him from behind. Junmyeon swivels around, tugging the King’s coat closer. “Beautiful,” Yifan muses as he cradles Junmyeon’s cheek mildly, the shorter melting into the touch, “Absolutely beautiful…”


The small cuts and marks on Junmyeon’s face and his wrists heal as Yifan peppers a kiss on the smaller’s forehead. They slowly lean forward to one another but not until rushed footsteps interrupt them. “Will you come with me… ?” Junmyeon casts his gaze elsewhere as he thinks about Minseok. He may not see his stepbrother again but… Minseok said he will search for him. He does not need to worry. They will meet again.


Junmyeon nods firmly. Yifan brings him to his chest and holds his soulmate’s face so dearly, their red eyes meeting in silence. He feels so overwhelmed until he cries blood, slowly staining his cheeks. Junmyeon smiles with equal emotion, rubbing them away with the heel of his palms. Yifan leans in with a smile, both holding onto another, their gaze intensifying. They flutter their eyes close as their mouths seal intimately, heading out together in the shadows.
























Junmyeon is stone-faced among the small crowd. The people he knows are smiling with glee including the ones who he does not recognize who may be the King’s underlings. He shoots a small smile to his stepbrother as he walks by the male. Junmyeon hopes he will not trip on his rose-coloured robes as he steps on the short little stairs which lead to the altar. They are in Wu manor’s hall for a special ceremony where only important people from different kingdoms attend to watch King Yifan’s matrimony.


Zitao, the King’s cousin, starts reciting the oath once Junmyeon is in front of the King himself. He keeps his head low, unable to look at how dashing the King is in his red with gold hanfu as his except he is wearing a hanbok. Besides, he is not supposed to make eye contact until the oath is over. He hopes the pale red veil does not fall but Junmyeon trusts the maids have done their best to keep it in place. Once it is over, they do not kiss.


Such action needs to be done behind closed doors only as the tradition has been established for centuries. They bow to each other instead. Junmyeon cannot think of anything else as he stands next to his soulmate who is going to be his bloodmate for life. The sound of chattering people fades as he has something on his mind. There is only one thing left to do to be official. Junmyeon is anxious about that.


A little shy too.


Lady Wu has told him weeks ago about the commemorative rituals before and after the ceremony. Junmyeon memorizes everything she shared. It is strict to be one of their kind and Junmyeon tries his hardest to fathom all of it. He does not feel the difference of being one of them though. Even though he has supernatural strength, he is still clumsy and panics easily. The King does not agree with him.


Yifan glances to his to-be bloodmate, the shorter still having his head ducking to the ground. Slowly, he links their fingers together, causing Junmyeon to whip his head upwards out of surprise. He takes a shy glimpse to the taller. “You look wonderful,” Yifan speaks soft enough for both to hear, resisting the urge to kiss his soulmate in front of all these people. Junmyeon does not flush terribly like he does when he was a human but he does feel a little warm by the comment, “Y-You too, Your Majesty.”


With a pull of Junmyeon’s hand, their hips are now meeting. Yifan says in the same soft tone, “You don’t have to call me that, Junmyeon.” Junmyeon blinks rapidly by the informal speech. Yifan sends down a soft smile and Junmyeon nearly melts before he realizes he has been facing the King a tad too long. He rests his temple bashfully against the King’s arm, their clasped hands never leaving as they watch their guests feast.


After the crowd has left nearly an hour later, the King withdraws to his bedroom first with the guards surrounding him. Junmyeon, on the other hand, has been taken to a room with the maids fixing him up here and thereafter removing his hanbok. By the time they cover the veil again over his head, the anxious feeling returns. “You are ready, Your Majesty.” Junmyeon has a stern expression as the maids lead him to where the King is waiting.


He is among the maids so no one else other than the ladies are keeping an eye on him. No other males are supposed to see the King’s spouse at this moment. “Smile,” One of the closest maid Junmyeon has befriended ever since he is brought here remarks sweetly, “I am sure His Majesty would love to see that on you.” Junmyeon fakes out one before staring at the polished floor. That did not help calm him at all.


Junmyeon is now standing a few feet away from the King.


He does not know what to do.


He seems to forget everything he memorized for weeks.


Yifan observes his soulmate as he is seated on the edge of the bed. They have not seen each other for one week due to tradition. Junmyeon looks more and more beautiful as the days go by. Judging by the stoic figure, his to-be bloodmate seems to be nervous. “Junmyeon,” Yifan offers his hand which is on his thigh, smiling softly as an encouragement. The smaller comes forward with short steps, clad in a similar long white satin robes as the King.


Junmyeon does not take the hand but Yifan reaches out for his instead. “Look at me,” Yifan warmly commands. Junmyeon lifts his gaze from the floor to the taller. Yifan can see those wandering eyes through the veil. He slips his fingers through the gaps and presses their palms together, feeling sad that Junmyeon is not letting their eyes meet. “Has Mother told you… ?” Junmyeon nods sternly by the question.


Yifan wishes to see his soulmate’s eyes. He tugs Junmyeon’s hand closer but Junmyeon is stiff as ever. He is internally panicking. He does not deem to understand what the King wants from him. Does he need to do something? With another tug, harder this time, Junmyeon falls forward with a small ‘Oof’. Blinking his eyes open, he notices that he is sitting. But not on the bed. He is sitting on the King’s lap.


Junmyeon feels abnormally warm again.


The strong arm around his back is secure as if it is never going to leave him. “Junmyeon,” Yifan tips his soulmate’s chin with the pad of his index, “May I… ?” Yifan does not need to ask his permission to uncover the veil so Junmyeon swoons by his consideration. He knows Yifan knows he is nervous so he is taking this as slow as possible. He does not feel agitated so he nods unhurriedly. Once his face is revealed, Yifan does not stop staring.


Junmyeon is warm all over again.


His eyes are shut close as the taller leans in. A light kiss is planted on his forehead. He leaves his hand from the other and brings it up to rest it on the King’s torso, the anxiety returning. “Your lessons will be taught by me from next week onwards,” Yifan nuzzles his nose against the smaller’s temple, keeping him against his chest as close as possible, “Zitao will return as my advisor.” Junmyeon nods robotically, all still.


“Are you not liking this?”


Junmyeon swallows as Yifan’s eyes colour with red. He looks downwards unhesitatingly, feeling embarrassed, “I-I do, Your Majesty—” A finger slots vertically against his lips, shutting him up. Junmyeon meets a frowning Yifan who questions with a stern tone, “I told you there’s no need for you to call me that, haven’t I?” Guilt pours over Junmyeon, “I… I am sorry… I—” “No need to apologize and no need to be formal,” Yifan clamps his palm over the smaller’s cheek, causing Junmyeon to look at him again.


He smiles fondly. Junmyeon is unable to take his eyes away from the King. Ever since the King brought him here, he has been having lessons from Zitao about their kind. Lady Wu sometimes joins too. There is more for Junmyeon to learn. He is not sure if he can concentrate now that the King is taking over Zitao’s place. He knows what they need to do now. He is undeniably anxious about it. The pain when Yifan bit him still lingers somewhere.


He is scared.


“Mother told you about this, right… ?”


They need to drink a certain amount of each other’s blood to make their bond official. Lady Wu indeed told him that. Junmyeon hums curtly as he keeps a straight face, the King’s lips brushing against the pulse on his neck. He unknowingly fists the back of Yifan’s robes, shutting his eyes close, pressing his forehead firmly against the other’s shoulder when the elder starts mouthing his skin. Junmyeon holds his breath for the indescribable ache.




Surprised, his head nearly hits the other’s chin as he faces the taller, “Huh?” Yifan brushes his bangs away to one side with a finger, eyeing him with concern, “Why are you scared?” Junmyeon gulps, “I’m not—” “Please don’t lie to me, love…” Junmyeon becomes a goo by the loving tone before he notices the King sounds sad. “I… Will it hurt like the last time… ?” Yifan understands his fear. His soulmate is not even looking at him in the eye.


“It’ll be the opposite,” Yifan answers, taking Junmyeon’s wrist which has his name. The smaller watches as the King plants a peck on it before their eyes connect. They turn red as they hold their eye contact for a good few seconds. Junmyeon slots his unoccupied palm against Yifan’s jaw ever so tenderly and closing his eyes, displaying his trust. The taller lowers Junmyeon’s wrist and cradles his cheek so delicately, his other arm still around the smaller. Their mouths meet in the softest touch before Yifan leans in fully.


They had their share of kisses ever since they have been living together but Lady Wu had firmly decided they will not be sleeping in the same room until their marriage. Yifan was angered at first because Junmyeon is his soulmate and he would never do anything he would not like. Due to the rituals, the rules must be followed or else fate will punish them. Yifan had no other choice but to comply.


The wedding has not been brought up until Junmyeon had a long sleep for about one whole month. Yifan was deadly vexed but his mother told him it was no matter. It only meant Junmyeon was ready to be one of them. Junmyeon’s stepbrother has come to visit during Junmyeon’s long sleep. He, too, experienced this. The information calmed Yifan. Yifan never left his soulmate’s side. He wanted him to be the first thing Junmyeon would see after he has woken.


He was indeed the first person Junmyeon saw.


Another month of discussion, now here they are, cocooned in each other’s arms.


They still need to proceed to make their bond though.


Junmyeon has his arms looping loosely around the taller’s neck, their mouths and tongues nudging against one another languidly. It is extremely slow and both like it that way. Junmyeon’s anxiety is no longer there so parting away, not noticing the confused expression on the taller, he bares his neck. Yifan’s eyes turn bright scarlet but he takes a glimpse to his soulmate with concern.


“Junmyeon,” He succeeds taking his attention, their eyes meeting again, “Do you trust me, love?” Junmyeon leans his temple against the King’s shoulder, having a soft smile, “I do.” With that, Yifan positions his soulmate properly between his legs and slithers his arms around Junmyeon’s middle from behind, his face dipping into Junmyeon’s neck deeply. Junmyeon would have shivered if he was a human. His palms fall on Yifan’s clasped hands upon his belly, sighing with no hint of hesitation.


He is ready.


Yifan makes sure his soulmate is comfortable as they sit in the same position for a while, him pressing kisses all over Junmyeon’s neck within his reach. When it is time, Yifan closes his eyes as he concentrates, feeling the canines growing pass his lips. He attaches his mouth against the dead pulse. Junmyeon whimpers inaudibly in his throat, his brows twitching with unease as the fangs pierce into his flesh before he feels blood flowing out from his artery.


Half a minute passes, Junmyeon’s vision is in doubles. His head drops low to one side, beginning to feel dizzy. Should he even feel like this? “Junmyeon, love,” Yifan scoops him carefully onto his lap again, holding his face so dearly, “Can you hear me?” Junmyeon, eyes closed, reaches for the King’s hand, humming shortly. Yifan waits, their fingers interlock and their hands settle on Junmyeon’s nearest thigh.


“How does it taste… ?”


Junmyeon questions after a long while, clearing the red on the corner of Yifan’s mouth with a frail finger. Yifan nuzzles their noses and his irises shine red as he gives his answer, “The sweetest, my love.” Junmyeon smiles, slowly regaining his composure. “It’s your turn,” Yifan takes his soulmate’s hand and leaves a kiss on the back, sending a soft smile. Junmyeon nods even though he feels all nervous inside. He is not hungry so he supposes it is a good thing or else he would not know how to control his bloodlust.


“It’ll be okay,” Yifan croons near his ear sweetly, “Trust yourself.” Junmyeon does the same as the King did earlier, searching and smelling the dead pulse. Once he does, he plants a kiss on it before closing his eyes. Whether he notices it or not, Yifan tightens his hold around him. Junmyeon’s fangs grow fast and he dips them into the skin. Drips of red leaks and soaks Yifan’s white robes. The King is too occupied rubbing the smaller’s back even though he flinches from to time to time.


There are similar splotches of crimson near Junmyeon’s neck on his white robes. Their clothes will be cleaned tomorrow and the maids will inform about the redness to Lady Wu. It is to prove both had exchanged their bond. That is the reason their robes are pure white. This tradition has been done for centuries.


By the time it is over, Junmyeon’s mouth is smeared with crimson. He does admit he has always been a messy eater but to appear like this in front of his soulmate, the King, it is embarrassing. Absolutely embarrassing. Junmyeon locks eyes with his bloodmate as Yifan thumbs over his lips, cleaning the excess. Both exchange mutual smiles. “Do you want to… ?” Yifan leaves his words hanging but Junmyeon understands what he is implying at.


After the bond has been made, they must consummate their marriage.


Back then when Lady Wu told him about this, he could never look Yifan in the eye on their usual late-night dates on the Wu manor’s rooftop. Yifan seemed to understand and the King did not ask anything which he was very grateful for that but now, he is not afraid. He is ready. Junmyeon answers with a shy kiss. Yifan’s insides stir with love and passion for his soulmate. He replies tardily, holding the smaller close with a firm hand on Junmyeon’s back.


His other one moves to hold his hip tightly as their heads tilt to feel more of each other’s lips. Junmyeon tries to be a little daring. His fingers card through the semi-long locks on the back of Yifan’s head with a hum. Yifan moans deeply, causing Junmyeon to become all flustered. He never thought he can make the King feel like this. With Yifan’s thumb under his chin, Junmyeon tips his head a little as the taller dips into the curve of his neck, briefly planting his mouth on the wound.


Junmyeon’s fingers never leave from the King’s soft silky hair as the feather-light kisses rise to his ear, jaw, cheek, his nose and then, their gaze meets. His nails graze slightly against Yifan’s scalp as their mouths reconnect. For the first time, the kiss is urgent. They can feel the want, the need, the desire. Yifan swears he has never felt this way before. Never had he thought he would be so in love with his soulmate, wanting to feel him close, wanting to shower him with love, wanting to give his all.


“Can I see you… ?”


Junmyeon pants deeply against his bloodmate’s collarbones when he hears the question. He still lacks the skill to hold his breaths. Turned kinds like Junmyeon will not be able to fly too. The fact made him feel down until he complained to Yifan on one of their date nights but the King cheered him up with a straight face, “You have me.” Junmyeon’s spirits were lifted once again just like that.


He raises his sight, having a short gap between them to see what the King meant by seeing him but then, he glances downwards when he feels the knot of the sash loosening. Oh. Oh. Yifan wants to see him unclothed. Junmyeon is heating up slightly again. He is not supposed to refuse to a King’s request (Yifan does not need to ask in the first place) but his body is not that attractive…


“I’m no perfect,” Junmyeon mumbles under his breath, “Not like you.” Yifan kisses him briefly and Junmyeon melts every time. “To me,” Yifan leaves another on Junmyeon’s forehead before smiling affectionately, “You’re perfect the way you are.” Junmyeon shies away from his gaze but Yifan does not let him do that as he cups his chin gingerly. Junmyeon shyly nods. He has his undergarments anyway so there is nothing to be shy about.


Yifan dives in for his lips and slowly, he undoes the knot by pulling the sash. Eyes still closed, Yifan blindly places his hand on the bare waist. Junmyeon parts with a breathy gasp, red eyes looking at the other with mute desire. Yifan lowers his hand and grips his bloodmate’s hip strongly, his own orbs chancing colours. Junmyeon does not speak a word once the taller’s arms snake around his bare waist, the robes are still hanging on his shoulders. It feels… Better.


They should have started without their clothes on.


Yifan marvels the cold smooth skin within his touch, skittering Junmyeon’s back with the pads of his fingers. Yifan’s field of vision lowers momentarily before staring into Junmyeon’s eyes again, wondering if this is okay. The smaller only chuckles bashfully before kissing him. Yifan feels utter relief by the other’s reaction. It means he trusts him. The kiss ends fast this time. Junmyeon wonders what is wrong. He is about to ask but not until his whole world spins.


“Your neck won’t hurt anymore,” The King’s voice comes above him, “We can kiss all night like this.” Junmyeon softly blinks his eyes open, feeling soft underneath his body. His vision clears when he blinks some more and he nearly lets out a surprised squeak. Yifan is hovered over him. His elbows are on both sides of his head, fingers caressing his hair as if to keep him relaxed and comfortable.


Junmyeon is glad he is laid on the bed because he is mushy by the gooey gaze from his bloodmate. Miraculously, his robes are still hanging onto his shoulders but it is sprawled wide underneath him on the bed, having a wide contrast against the silk red sheets. He shyly circles his limbs around the taller’s neck as Yifan keeps staring like there is no tomorrow. He can feel Yifan’s pelvis pressing intimately against his thighs.


A few moments later, they will be consummating their marriage.


Junmyeon feels the warmth extremely this time so he attempts on hiding his face. Yifan is quicker. He grabs Junmyeon’s wrists and settles them tenderly on either side of his head, his elbows planted beside Junmyeon's forearms. Junmyeon blinks cutely up to him and Yifan melts. “You’re so beautiful,” He muses, leaning in to leave kisses all over his face. Junmyeon holds in the sounds coming out from his throat as the plush lips lower to his clavicles.


Unfortunately, a whimper leaves his mouth when a kiss lands on his sternum. Slow hands are mapping over every corner of his skin as if Yifan is memorizing and worshipping every inch of his body, engraving the details into his mind. Junmyeon’s wrists are now free so he covers his face with his hands. Quivering with untold keenness, the kisses trail down to his stomach. He bites on his lower lip. He does not want to make a sound.


Yifan will be the first to feel him like this.


His first and last.


His digits shake as the hands are now on his thighs, languidly kneading the ample flesh there. A surprised gasp manages to leave his mouth as teeth dig his right hip ever so deeply. Just when he is about to glance downwards, Yifan is already climbing up. The mere sight has Junmyeon throbbing. The King retrieves one of his hands and kisses on his wrist which has the latter’s name. There is something unreadable about Yifan’s orbs this time. Junmyeon has never seen it before.




Junmyeon’s voice fails himself, a quavering whine leaving his parted lips as Yifan mouths the word against the skin of his neck, his tone lapping with pure authority mixed with devotion. One of his hands slides down his undergarments. Junmyeon clings around Yifan’s clothed torso, another sound involuntarily coming out of his throat as the King taints his neck with another deep bite. A soft mewl emits out of Junmyeon as Yifan grinds against him tentatively.


They are definitely feeling mutual.


“Look at me, love…”


Junmyeon indeed looks at him albeit bashfully. Yifan copies it, “Are you enjoying this… ?” Junmyeon nods, tracing the cold cheek with his thumb, smiling lovingly. There is unusual warmth on Yifan’s face by the confirmation. He reconnects their mouths which escalates to a heated tango a moment later. He keeps rolling his hips on Junmyeon over and over again. Yifan likes hearing the new wonderful sounds his bloodmate produces.


Junmyeon even muttered his name in the most dead heart-fluttering way; eyes closed with laboured breath and pulling him closer. Yifan wants to listen to him all night long. It is strange how he can feel how his dead heart feels. The knot on Yifan’s robes loosens and it falls open, covering Junmyeon’s bare body. The smaller watches Yifan standing on his knees before throwing it away. His hand timidly reaches out to touch the King’s nude chest.


Junmyeon swipes the pad of his forefinger over his name. It feels so surreal as if it is tattooed there but it does not even feel like ink. It is… It feels magical. He leans forward and he pecks a quick kiss there. Yifan feels the warmth becoming unbearable. He nearly pounces on his bloodmate before crashing their lips together with a thrilled Junmyeon pulling him close by the nape, moaning kittenishly.


Yifan shifts on the bed, bringing Junmyeon onto his lap again as his back is pressed against the headboard, their kisses being calm now. “Will you welcome my touch… ?” Junmyeon nods thrice into the taller’s neck, catching his breath. He swoons by the King’s way of taking care of him so pristinely as if what they are about to do is innocent. He needs attention after all the bites and touches and kisses.


Junmyeon gasps again as cold, cold fingers wrap around him. He whimpers pathetically against the elder’s neck as the strokes speed up, his hands gripping hard onto the King’s shoulders. “Yifan,” The name flows automatically from his mouth, encouraging the latter to please his bloodmate even more. “Yifan, Yifan— Hng,” Junmyeon’s arms are deadly tight around Yifan’s neck, chanting Yifan’s name like a broken record.


Yifan buries his nose into the shorter’s hair, slipping in kisses for his twitching soulmate on his lap, his hand safe around Junmyeon’s back. He loves hearing Junmyeon calling out his name. It makes him feel things he never thought he can feel. He loves him so, so much. “I love you,” Murmuring under Junmyeon’s ear as the smaller climaxes with an incoherent gurgle, he holds Junmyeon tightly, “I love you so much…”


Junmyeon heaves, leaving his arms around the King and gives him a bashful look. He cradles Yifan’s jaw and kisses him. Yifan carefully flips him on the mattress again without breaking the kiss, a hand rubbing Junmyeon’s back as he nestles between the shorter male’s legs. Junmyeon chokes out a breathy cry once Yifan touches him again minutes later, their mouths parting. “Did I hurt you, love?” Junmyeon shakes his head, his lips pursing firmly.


He paws onto the taller male’s torso which has his name, chortling shyly, “You’re making me feel good…” Yifan cocks his head to one side, eyes flashing red, “Should I make you feel better?” Junmyeon nearly swallows out loud from the intensity by both the King’s gaze and his tone. “Show me,” Kissing on the taller’s cheek, he sends him another shy smile, “I’m all yours…” Yifan intertwines their fingers and brings their clasped hands beside Junmyeon’s head, their mouths meeting without further delay.


He swallows Junmyeon’s moans and whimpers once it gets more and more intimate.


Yifan loves every little sound.


Junmyeon relishes every little attention.


“I love you,” Junmyeon mumbles softly near Yifan’s ear as their bodies become one, clinging onto him with need, “I love you so much.” The King shyly nuzzles his face against the smaller’s neck, feeling overwhelmed the most. Yifan has never thought of being in love. Junmyeon has never thought he would be loved. Both have found each other. The full moon gives its blessing for the bonded pair as the night goes on leisurely.