Disclaimer: Mizuho Kusanagi is the lady. I'm just the nerd.
Hak couldn't have heard right. He hadn't heard right. Had he?
No, he had. Yona said she loved him. Yona said she loved him.
And she was waiting for an answer. He had to say something. This was the chance he had dreamed of, that he'd never thought would actually come. He had to say something to her.
So, of course, he opened his mouth and said the worst thing possible.
"What about Soo-won?" He could have kicked himself. Yona had opened herself up, said she loved him, and he just brought up the guy who broke her heart.
Yona's eyes widened. "He–" She broke off, coughing. She was pushing the medicine Kye-sook had sent too far, too fast. She should be resting her voice.
Hak dropped his hand on her head. "Right, shut up."
Yona knocked his hand away. "Hak, Soo-won," she hissed urgently.
Then he got it.
They hadn't seen Soo-won since the battle. He was the one person they didn't know if he was all right. He was the one person . . .
Hak swooped Yona up and slung her over his shoulder, paying no heed to the indignant squeak of air that left her lungs at the impact. He was too busy running, weaving through the camp to find him like nothing had ever happened and the two of them were as close to Soo-won as they had ever been.
He wasn't that hard to find. The commanders would be located near the center of the camp, where the most people were coming and going. Hak had spent enough time as a general to recognize which field headquarters belonged to the commander in chief.
He rounded a standing screen and there he was, Soo-won, having his left arm tied up in a sling.
Hak stopped in his tracks and just stared for a moment, chest heaving as he tried to get his breath. Soo-won was all right. He was injured, but he was alive. And Kye-sook was giving them the evil eye.
And then Hak remembered that he and Yona were still technically in hiding, and that Soo-won was a traitor who had killed Yona's father, and that she probably wanted to be let down.
He tried to put her down gently, but she was squirming, and he was tired, and he ended up more or less dropping her. Yona planted a delicate elbow firmly in his side as she got up.
"Hak! Yona!" Soo-won all but ran the few steps separating them. "Are you all right? Yona, i heard your throat was damaged by the smoke?"
Yona shook her head, waving her hands. "I'm fine," she croaked. Her voice was barely above a whisper, but at least she sounded better than she had half an hour ago. "What about–" she pointed at Soo-won's arm.
He looked down, as if he'd forgotten it was in a sling, and then he tried to pull his robe over it, like that would work. "It's not serious. It looks worse than it is."
Hak didn't say anything. What was he doing here? He'd reacted without thinking when Yona said his name, but now that Soo-won was safe, Hak was remembering all kinds of things. Things like murder, and a grudge. Things like how Soo-won was supposed to be their enemy.
It was so easy to keep that in mind when everything was calm, but in the heat of the moment, it was like every unforgivable thing Soo-won had done was erased from Hak's mind.
"And Hak!" Soo-won turned to him, and Hak's stomach lurched. With what, he wasn't sure. "You're not hurt, are you?"
"I'm fine," Hak said brusquely. He wasn't fine, it was impossible to go through a battle without taking some damage, but it was nothing he couldn't handle, and more importantly, it was nothing Soo-won needed to worry about.
Soo-won raised his eyebrows, and Hak was seized with the awful feeling that he saw right through him, but he didn't call Hak out. Instead, he hesitated – Hak could see him biting the inside of his lip – and then seized Hak and Yona's hands, stepping in close to them. His grip on Hak was awkward, thanks to the sling, but Hak barely noticed, his senses too full of Soo-won's proximity. "I'm happy to see you both, and that you're not seriously hurt, but you can't be here right now." Hak could almost believe Soo-won was trying to get rid of them, if it weren't for the way he was squeezing their hands so tightly it felt like he might never let go.
"We were just leaving," Hak said without pulling free.
Yona pressed her free hand to Soo-won's forearm. "We'll go," she rasped. "Take care."
Soo-won slowly nodded, and with a deep breath he released them. "You too," he said softly. "Both of you," he added, looking up at Hak. "Be careful out there."
"I'll take care of her," Hak said flatly, putting a hand on Yona's arm.
Soo-won's smile was crooked. "But who will take care of you?"
"I will," Yona said firmly. Her voice caught a little at the end of the word. "See you." It was barely a whisper.
Hak nodded to Soo-won, ignored Kye-sook, and guided her away. Yona was silent as they started back towards their tent.
She remained that way until they were a safe distance away from Soo-won's headquarters, and then she started to cough.
"Been holding that in, have you?" Hak drawled. Yona shook her head as she covered her mouth. She was coughing too much to speak, but her eyes flashed a furious violet.
Hak sighed and picked her up, more gently this time. "Come on, Princess. Let's get you back to bed." Yona nodded roughly.
The coughing had eased by the time they got back to the tent, which was just as well. Yoon was still out tending to injured soldiers, so he couldn't tell them off for overdoing it, but Hak didn't feel like being criticized by the Dragons, either.
Turned out he'd worried for nothing. Shin-ah was still there when they came in, but the others had left. Probably went to see what they could do, like Yoon, or to participate in the victory celebrations.
Hak slanted his gaze at Shin-ah for a moment in greeting before he lay Yona back down on her pallet. Yona pushed at him weakly, but it was only a token protest. She must be exhausted.
Hak was tired himself, so he settled down beside her to rest. He didn't know how long he sat there half-awake, but after a while Zeno popped in and brought Shin-ah away with him. After that Hak almost drifted into a proper doze, and it was dark when Yona sat up.
Hak was just aware enough to pretend he'd been awake the whole time. "Princess."
"Hak." Yona's voice was still scratchy, but it sounded better than it had. "Have you been sitting up this whole time?"
"Course," he responded. She looked around. Torchlight from outside cast shadows over her face. "What about the others?"
Hak didn't need to check; he'd have woken up if someone had come into the tent. "Not back yet."
Yona nodded slowly.
It occurred to Hak that he'd never actually given her an answer to her confession. He should probably do that. Yeah. "Ah, Yona . . ." He realized a moment too late that he'd slipped out of the formality she'd requested from him.
"Hak? What do you think about Soo-won?" she asked abruptly, at almost the same time. Her eyes widened, and she started to flush.
Hak knew what he should say. "He killed the king. He betrayed you – us. I trusted him, i–" He stopped himself. "You know what i think. I can't forgive him for what he's done. He made himself our enemy."
Yona bit her lip, and looked up at him through her lashes. "But is that how you really feel?"
Hak squirmed. Yona's eyes were piercing right through him. Normally he liked her fierce side, but turned against him . . . No, he still liked it.
"I miss him," he admitted. "I should hate him, but when he's around, i keep slipping back into old habits."
"Yeah," Yona agreed in a soft voice. "I thought i could hate him, but it only works when i don't see him. As soon as he's there, he's . . . he's Soo-won again. He's still Soo-won. You know what i mean."
Yona wrapped her arms around her legs, resting her chin on her knees. "I just can't forget the way we used to be. It's the same for you, right?"
"Yeah." Hak rubbed his neck.
Yona stared down at the ground. "Earlier, when i said–" She stopped. "I mean – You asked me, what about Soo-won."
"I didn't mean–" Hak started, but Yona cut him off. "No, you were right to ask." Her face was flushed dark in the half-light. "I don't know if it's possible to . . . just stop loving someone. I've tried, i tried so hard, but i can't stop loving him. He was with us for so long, and now whenever i think of him, it's like there's a piece of us missing."
Hak wasn't sure he could trust his voice to come out. "It's the same for me," he said hoarsely.
Yona looked up at him. "You mean–"
"I love him," Hak said. The words were coming out too fast, as if he'd just been waiting for Yona to give him the opportunity. "And i love you. I couldn't support him after that, and i needed to protect you. I had to make a choice."
Yona's eyes were brimming with tears. She flung herself at him, hitting his chest at an awkward angle. Hak wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close. "I don't want to have to choose," she whispered. "I love you both. I want to be with you both. I wish things didn't have to be like this."
"Yeah." Hak held her tighter, pressed his face into her hair. Things could have been so different, if they'd only figured this out a year ago. He could never forget the sound of King Il's blood dripping from Soo-won's sword, but more and more lately he was remembering the way light played on Soo-won's hair, the sound of his laugh, his crazy, brilliant ideas. Maybe he'd never forget those either.
Yona turned against him, curling up in Hak's arms in a way that made it very difficult for him to think. "I want to talk to Soo-won," she murmured.
"What are you going to say?" He had no idea what he would say, if he had the chance to have a real talk with Soo-won.
She curled in tighter on herself. "I don't know."
"Just gonna see how it goes, huh?"
Yona sighed. "I shouldn't. If i go to see him, without knowing what i want to say, about . . ." She took a shaky breath. "About what he's done, and about what i feel – i don't even know really how i feel – then it's just going to . . ." She trailed off and sighed. "I think it'll probably make things worse."
Hak tipped his head back. "I have some things i want to ask him, too. And then i'll probably have to think about what he says for a long time."
"Yes." He felt the tension ease out of her body, like she was finally done fighting for a bit. "That sounds like a good idea. Next time we see him, we should . . . ask him."
"Yeah." Hak let his head fall forward again, back into Yona's hair. Putting off talking to Soo-won . . . It sounded like a good idea and not, all at the same time. But this wasn't bad, right here. He could stay like this for a while.
So could Yona. The faint rasp of a snore sounded from the girl in his arms, and he let himself smile. Yeah, he could stay like this for a while.
After what felt like a long time, he tucked Yona back into her pallet. He was in no mood right now for the comments Droopy Eyes would inevitably make when he saw them together. There would be time enough for that tomorrow.
A/N: I suppose i've annoyed all the mono Yonak fans by inserting Soo-won into the confession (and for making it angsty, because that's how i do feelings), but i do what i want. *shrugs* Shoutout to YenGirl, because if i hadn't had someone to talk to about what a great ship Sooyonak is these past couple weeks, i would never have taken this kind of inspiration from this chapter.