Category: Romantic Fluff, Angst
Characters: Yona, Soo-Won
Requested By: Cherryblossom98 (Ao3)
As Yona knelt amongst the fur-lined blankets and feather pillows strewn across the tent floor, she could not help but wonder if she had made the right decision.
Alliance. The word bounced around in her otherwise empty cavern of a skull. Such a simple concept, yet for Yona, it carried enough implications to capsize even the stoutest of packhorses. An alliance with Soo-Won. His name was both titillating and dreadful. It made her skin crawl like a parade of ants marched over it, but also sent a pleasurable shudder traveling up to her spine to the base of her neck. Though it had been so long ago, Yona could recollect their night in the encampment so vividly, as if it had occurred only yesterday. Her body hummed with the ghosts of his hands roaming over her clothes. Her lips burned with the phantasms of his hot mouth and tongue. Her heart raced as his whispers echoed in her ear.
"If not forever, then just for tonight?"
Yona's head rolled on her neck as another tingling tremor rocked her body. Her eyes then snapped open, and she released an affronted gasp. Her nerves ceased their singing as she forced every memory of that night from the forefront of her mind. Screaming irately, she flung one of the throw pillows across the tent. The fabric rippled with the blow, and as it was close to the flap, the entrance fluttered wildly to allow some of the cool evening air to whoosh into the tent and kiss her pink, heated skin.
I am venturing into dangerous, unknown territory, she lamented woefully.
Yona had realized that to discover the hidden secrets and nuances of her country, she would have to do some rooting in Hiryuu Castle- and carefully observe the new king, Soo-Won. Thus, she had proposed an alliance between the Sky Kingdom and the cohort of Celestial Dragons. They were a long way from home, and so after marching all day, the soldiers had thrown up an encampment for them to rest for the night. Yona had been given her own tent at Soo-Won's insistence, pitched several yards from her dragons' and Hak's. She had already seen the shadow of the Thunder Beast flicker over the fabric walls as he stubbornly patrolled the perimeter.
Ironically, or perhaps purposely, Soo-Won's royal tent was also nearby. Yona could see its flags lazily flapping in the wind from the entrance of her tent. The realization that Soo-Won rested within walking distance from her position produced a visceral reaction with her. That dichotomous disbalance she had experienced the last time she had been under Soo-Won's care reignited within her; she had the urge to run to him, to throw herself at him. Yet she also had the desire to wrench up her tent and pitch it as far away from his as she could.
The roiling emotions exhausted Yona. The cushions and comforters embraced her as she sprawled onto them, lying on her back to frown at the pyramidal cloth ceiling. Dusk was descending; she could tell by the red-gold light filtering in through the fibers, and how the glow faded with each passing moment. She fingered the tassels of the embroidered pillow that cushioned her head as nausea twisted her belly into painful knots. Tears prickled in the corners of her eyes. With a woeful sniffle, she rolled onto her side and hugged a pillow to her chest.
Yona wanted to be strong, for her country and her people and her friends. Yet, it was so hard to be strong when the weight of so much responsibility crushed her. During moments like this, when the world and darkness came closing in, Yona would allow herself to brood on this thought: I wish none of this had ever happened. I wish Father were still alive, and Soo-Won was still Soo-Won.
Of course, she knew such wishes were incredibly selfish. Her people had suffered needlessly under her father's reign, and Soo-Won's intentions- regardless of if they were surrounded by murder and secrecy- were to restore the country to peace and prosperity. However, Yona was but a young girl thrust into a world of betrayal, war, and strife. She could only bear so much weight upon her small shoulders until she collapsed. Yona would eventually dry her tears, dust off her kimono, and rise to carry the responsibilities again. Yet, for just a few short moments, she just wanted to be a normal girl allowed to wail her frustrations into the plush of a pillow.
The fabric was surprisingly breathable as she buried her face into it, and shrilly screamed. The fibers muffled the sound, but it accomplished the intended effect. Yona felt the tension melt from her muscles, and the tears stopped flowing as readily. With a petulant sniff, she pulled away to find smudges of water and snot staining the wine-red material. She turned it over to the clean side before laying her head on it, arching her back to stretch her aching spinal and shoulder muscles. Perhaps they were phantom pains from her imaginary load, but they hurt, nonetheless.
Just as Yona was beginning to drift into the twilight of half-sleep, she heard the flap of her tent flutter. She peered through the gloom to see a tall shadowy figure framed by the starlight. In her bleariness, she assumed it to be Hak, and so that was whose name she uttered. Her dawn-red eyes fluttered rapidly as the figure stepped into the tent, and she caught the flash of long, straw-colored hair and kingly white robes.
"No, Yona, it's me."
Yona jerked up as Soo-Won spoke. All traces of weariness flushed from her system as adrenaline gushed into her veins. Holding the pillow to her torso like a shield, she regarded him warily. With the fading light streaming in through the now-open tent flap, she could see a sad frown on his fair features. "You still fear me?" It was an honest question, not laced with the false croons of manipulation. Soo-Won genuinely lamented the idea that Yona feared him.
Pursing her lips, she adjusted herself and rested the pillow on her lap to feign ease. It wasn't that she thought Soo-Won would do her harm; she feared to let her guard down around him, because her old feelings were drudging up again. She had to be careful and sound of mind, lest they swallow her entirely so that she drowned in euphoria and things that she wanted so badly but could never be.
"It's not that. I was nearly asleep; you just frightened me."
"I see." His voice rang hollowly, devoid of emotion. Perhaps he believed her; maybe he didn't. Either way, he crossed the small tent to kneel a respectable distance away yet close enough to reveal familiarity. "I came to see if you had settled in well," he reported simply. Yona shuffled her legs underneath her to keep her calves from growing numb.
"Yes, indeed. I thank you for your hospitality," Yona uttered robotically, just reciting the gratuitous words that had been ingrained in her as a child. Soo-Won continued to gaze at her measuredly. His piercing eyes unsettled her deeply, causing her to fidget and squirm relentlessly. Her skin flushed, and her nerves tingled with the expectation of his hands wandering the planes of her body. Her tongue flickered out to wet her lips. Immediately, Soo-Won's eyes dropped to stare at her pink mouth with a raw intensity. The passionate look made Yona's hot body flush further with want.
Just as she found herself leaning forward to crawl towards him, she stopped herself.
No! Yona, do not yield to such base temptations! She scolded herself. If she could have slapped herself, she would've. As her muscles tensed, Soo-won's gazed raked back up to her dawn-red eyes. "As I told you, I was nearly asleep. I'm quite tired," she grumbled. The order, unspoken, burned within her words. Soo-Won continued to stare levelly at her with no apparent intentions to move. Must I speak it plainly? She thought with a scowl forming on her lips. "Soo-Won-"
"Do you love me, Yona?"
Her face flushed nearly as red as her hair. She pressed her lips together to form a thin white line. Her mind flew to their passionate encounter in the tent just across the border from Sei. I love you. She had almost uttered the words. Of course she loved him. Of course she loved him. She had loved him for so long, and despite everything that had happened so far, she still loved him! Frustrated tears sprung to the corners of her eyes and her bottom lip wobbled. She didn't want to say. She couldn't say, because if she did, everything would change.
Yet say it she did.
"I do love you, Soo-Won. I love you so much it pains me," she whispered. A tense silence settled between them, broken only by the chirping of the crickets inhabiting the long grasses surrounding the tent. Slowly, he crawled forward until he was seated in front of her, knees just barely brushing hers. Yona stared forlornly at her hands, which were clasped in her lap, to watch the tears puddle on her skin as they dripped down from her chin. Soo-Won's fingers came into her circle of vision to wrap lightly around her own. His index finger trailed along the side of hers, and the tender touch sent electric sparks jumping along her nerves. Her red eyes watched as his finger continued to lightly stroke over her skin. "Soo-Won," she sighed quietly.
"I know," he frowned. His hands slid up Yona's arms, pushing up the long cotton sleeves of her modest kimono. Goosebumps rose in the wake of his touch, making her nerves wail in reverent choir along her forearms. "You can't forgive me." Yona swallowed thickly as a hard lump formed in her throat, and she gave him a tiny nod. Every time she would even consider forgiving him, she would envision her father's body slumped on the floor, a puddle of blood slowly forming around him and staining his kingly clothes ruby red. His hand suddenly brushed over her cheek, and she automatically sought out more of his touch, pressing her face into his palm. Her tears smeared over the soft plane of his hand.
Why? She lamented. Why do I love him so, when I should do nothing but despise him? Well, it was because she knew it was complicated, the little voice in the back of her head chimed helpfully. It was oh so complicated. He held both her cheeks now, leaning forward to press his forehead against hers. His voice was softer than the first breeze of spring carrying the aroma of the budding flowers. "Yona, I never intended for you to get hurt. More than anything, I wanted you to understand, and be by my side to watch this country of ours return to former glory." A flood of acid burned her mouth at the word ours. He was the king, and she the princess, so grammatically it was correct. She still loathed the idea of sharing responsibility for her people with Soo-Won. Yet, that was the reality- their reality.
"I don't understand anything anymore," she whispered back, sniffling. "The further I delve, I just grow more and more confused… Please, Soo-Won, just tell me plainly- why did you murder my father? What are you trying to accomplish with your rule? I must know!" she begged. Her hands leaped forward to curl into the silk fabric of his robes, twisting them into tight knots. A shadow darkened Soo-Won's face as he lowered his head such that it rested against her collarbone; she had to crane her head back to avoid getting a mouthful of his pale gold hair. His arms slid around her waist to hug her tightly. He remained silent for several seconds.
"I can't tell you, Yona," he said finally. Yona's body slumped down with a cold rush of disappointment and defeat. She closed her eyes and tilted her head back further to peer up at the pyramidal ceiling of the tent. Dusk had descended in full; the light gracing the world was now a soft silver. No, she thought morosely, of course you can't. Yona would have expected a visceral reaction to his words- anger, hurt, frustration. Instead, she just felt cold and numb. The emotions swirling around in her body- the love, hate, desire, and fear- exhausted her thoroughly.
"Not yet. Not yet." She looked down at his head, and her eyes widened. Soo-Won's entire body slumped heavily against her, and his fingers clawed into the back of her kimono, as if he was clutching onto her to avoid being swept out into a stormy and perilous sea. Yona regarded him piteously; he looked so… weary.
"Soo-Won," she murmured. Slowly, she leaned down to press a light kiss to the top of his head. In response, he tightened his grip on her. Yona stared silently down into his straw-colored waves of hair, and then slipped her fingers into the threads to stroke them absentmindedly. It was true that Yona bore a heavy burden, trapped in this web of mystery, but undoubtedly Soo-Won bore the weight of the world as well. She rested her cheek against his head with a small exhale. "I cannot forgive you… But I can understand that you have regrets," she murmured. He shifted against her, pressing his nose into her sternum.
"There is so much right now that I don't know and don't understand," she said thickly as the tears sprung to her eyes. They beaded across Soo-Won's hair like dewdrops as she buried her face into it. It was all too much to bear. For a few short moments, Yona wanted to pretend that everything was all right, and she could love Soo-Won freely. "But I know that I love you. So I shall stay with you, at least for tonight."
Soo-Won's body stiffened like steel in her arms.
"Are you sure, Yona?" His voice was a low rumble that vibrated deep in her bones and made her eyes flutter sensually. The tip of his nose nudged aside the front of her kimono to trail along her collarbone before traveling slowly up the column of her neck; Yona craned her head back to allow him access, only responding with a small simpering whine. His hands secured around her hips to hold her solidly in place. She felt her mind descending into a hazy, blissful fog.
No political games, no cat-and-mouse chase, no murder plots or kings and princesses embroiled in a struggle for a throne. Simply Soo-Won and Yona, like she had always wanted. Perhaps it was unwise of her to submit to her feelings, but Yona had committed to flinging herself into the pit of oblivion.
I just want to imagine that things can be between us, if only for one night.
Yona didn't recall falling backward, but in the next moment, Soo-Won had her pinned underneath him. He peppered searing, open-mouthed kisses up the length of her jugular; the titillating sensation made her keen and mewl and paw at his clothes. Finally, he pulled himself up so that his face hovered over hers. Yona's face was flushed and heated, and she panted slightly with expectation. Tenderly, he brushed the pads of his fingers over her lips.
Then he dove down to capture her mouth with his own. Yona's back arched as he swept her into a passionate, messy kiss. One of his hands pushed into her tresses of dawn-red hair while the other coursed over her curves, stroking harshly over the soft fabric. The tip of his tongue swept over her bottom lip, pleading for entry, and Yona readily complied. The muscle fervently tangled with her own, and every swirl within her mouth sent pulses of heat through her already flushing body. That cascade of emotion began rippling through her, the confusing waterfalls of hurt and sadness and happiness and hate and love that pooled together in a chaotic maelstrom. As it took hold of her, her movements became sluggish and half-hearted.
She wanted to keep kissing him, but oh, how she desired to shove him away and curse him and taint his name with obscenities. At one point, her eyes cracked open to see Soo-Won's sea-green eyes boring into hers. It felt like he could see into the depths of her very soul. Those blue irises were like a tremendous oncoming wave of reality and accusation that threatened to overtake her any moment, and Yona felt panic flood through her veins. Her body stiffened, like she had been petrified.
Did she really want this? Or was it just pure escapism?
Yona wasn't sure how long they kissed, but he finally pulled away in that moment. She sucked in a big gulp of air, chest heaving for oxygen.
His eyes were lidded as he nosed her cheek. With her red eyelashes fluttering, she peered wearily at him. His sea-blue eyes regarded her with a rapt fascination, like he was drinking every minute detail of her face; his index finger continuously stroked her other cheek in feather-light touches. Yona was not aware she was crying until she felt the wetness roll down her cheek. The tear caught on his fingertip as it moved over her cheekbone, spreading the salty water over her skin. Soo-Won smiled wanly as he again rested his forehead against hers.
"You hate me, don't you?"
The heavy mist that had descended over her mind was clearing, leaving behind the bitter taste of regret. Yona's throat bobbed as she attempted to swallow the hard lump in her throat, but it remained stubbornly lodged there. The teardrops clung to her red eyelashes as they flapped repeatedly. Soo-Won had obviously sensed the complicated feelings gripping her and had ceased his actions accordingly. She wasn't sure whether she was disappointed or relieved.
Hate. Yona had never considered how strong the word was until that moment. She worried her bottom lip with her teeth as she pondered the question.
"You? No. I don't hate you. I hate what has become of us," she murmured finally. She knew she could never bring herself to hate Soo-Won, not really. She could only direct all that hate to the complicated reality that had developed between them as a consequence of her naivety and ignorance. How pathetic of me, she thought wryly. Yet, that was the reality of it, something Yona had to live with. Soo-Won smiled dryly and slowly sat up. His blond hair was soft as it brushed over her exposed neck and shoulder.
"That's an eloquent way to put it," he chuckled. The iron edge to his voice cut through Yona like a knife. With a weary sigh, he swept his hair behind his shoulder. He then glanced out of the flap of the tent, which was still flapping in the night breeze. The white moonlight streamed in through the triangular-shaped gap to bathe over Yona and ignite her red hair into ruby threads. While she basked in the light, Soo-Won was framed by the shadows. The darkness cast harsh lines onto his face, making his usually soft and pretty features hard-edged and intimidating. His eyes glinted at her like chips of aquamarine, thoughtful. "I hate what's become of us," he echoed, but more like he was analyzing the statement than agreeing with it.
Though Yona had offered to stay with him, Soo-Won rose to leave. She knew that it was for the best; it was unwise to complicate their situation any further. She rolled onto her side as he made for the entrance of the tent. Resting her head on the wine-red pillow, she closed her eyes and exhaled deeply. Her heart still hammered in her chest, reacting to the ghosts of Soo-Won's hands on her body and his lips against hers, hot and heavy.
"Yona," Soo-Won called suddenly. She opened her eyes to peer curiously at him. He smiled faintly at her, silhouetted by the moonlight. "See you at dawn." Then he was gone. He pinned the flap behind him, and the tent became enveloped in darkness. Yona stared at the place he had been for several seconds. Then, she sighed deeply and rolled onto her back to stare up at the ceiling of the tent again.
There was nothing to do but what for dawn to come. Dawn, after this long, long dusk that Yona had been trapped in since the night of her father's death.