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when dusk descends

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Nayoung woke up with a jolt as her alarm blared out across the room. With bleary eyes, she felt around until her fingers found her phone, and she turned the alarm off. Beside her, Chungha mumbled something in her sleep.

The sun was just beginning to creep in through the curtains as Nayoung slipped out of bed, careful not to wake Chungha as she moved. She must have forgotten to shut them properly the night before, she’d been so tired she had crawled straight into bed after she pulled on her pyjamas.

She had a busy day ahead of her. Boa had called for a meeting with her and other student teachers first thing that morning. Nayoung had attended plenty of meetings in her years at the academy, as both a student and a teacher, but none of them had been called in the middle of a term at such an early hour. Nayoung was nervous. She’d seen their principal in the corridor a few days earlier looking frazzled as she rushed around. Rumours of unrest outside the academy between the light mages and the dark mages had been circling for a few months now. Something serious must have happened.

After that she had classes to teach and Nayoung had promised Kyungwon she would go to the outhouses with her so they could visit the new hatchlings down at the Sanctuary that Hyojung had been telling them about the day before. It was going to be another long day.

It wasn’t until Nayoung had started rummaging through their wardrobe that Chungha woke up. She huffed as she sat up, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.

“Morning,” Nayoung said.

“G’morning,” Chungha mumbled.

It was a few minutes more before Chungha got out of bed and shuffled across the room towards Nayoung. She slipped her arms around Nayoung’s waist. “Ugh,” Chungha said. “It’s too early.”

“I know,” Nayoung said. “I think I’m just going to sleep through this weekend.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Chungha said. “We should go on a date sometime soon too, we haven’t done that in a while.”

“I’d like that,” Nayoung said. “But first, we have to get through the rest of this week.”

Chungha hummed, reaching up to kiss Nayoung on the cheek. “It’ll be over in no time.”

Nayoung sighed and murmured. “Hopefully without any trouble.”

 

There were already quite a few people in the hall when Nayoung and Chungha entered. Nayoung spotted Bora resting her head on Mimi’s shoulder and Haebin looking like she was about to fall asleep in her cereal. Nayoung sat down across from Minkyung and Kyungwon and grabbed herself some toast.

The hall was filled with quiet chatter as they all waited for Boa to arrive. Minkyung was in the middle of telling Nayoung and Chungha about the recon mission that she was being sent on in a few weeks time when the rest of the room fell silent. Nayoung turned to see Boa walk into the room. Everyone stood and bowed at her in greeting when she reached the front of the room, and when she nodded, they all took their seats.

When everyone was settled, Boa cleared her throat.

“Good morning everyone. I’m sure many of you are wondering why I called for you to assemble this morning at such an early hour. Unfortunately, I bring some bad news.”

Nayoung shared a look with Chungha.

“I’m sure you are all aware of the reports of unrest across the country at the hands of dark magic using mages and those of us in alliance with the dragons.” Boa said. “Things have taken a turn for the worse. The dark mages are growing stronger in power and braver in their actions, breaking into safe houses of our allies and harming dragons who do not submit to them. I would like to hope the enchantments cast upon the academy will keep them at bay, but I fear that they will try anyway. I need you all to be vigilant. If you see anything suspicious, report it, no matter how small it might seem. I’ll be holding another assembly to inform the other year groups of this later on today.”

Boa clasped her hands together as she looked out across the room at them all. “I understand that for many of you, this will be the first time you’ve encountered such an evil. Do not underestimate your ability. Have faith.”

Boa took her seat at the head of the teacher’s table and the room dissolved into chatter once again.

“I hadn't realised things had gotten this bad,” Chungha said. “Sunmi never mentioned anything the last time I saw her.”

“They probably didn't want to worry us,” Nayoung said. She looked down at the soggy toast in front of her, her appetite gone.

“Well we have time, right?” Minkyung said. “Nothing’s ever been able to destroy the academy before.”

“There’s never been anything this strong attacking before, that's why,” Kyungwon muttered.

Nayoung looked up to the teachers table to see Boa sat, staring down at an empty plate. Chatter started to grow louder as the rest of the year groups came in for breakfast and Nayoung tried to shake the feeling of anxiety in her stomach as Kyla sat down beside her.

.

Nayoung’s first class of the day was a sparring lesson with the seventh years. Most of them were already in the training centre when she arrived, stretching on the mats and talking amongst themselves. Nayoung waited for everyone to arrive before she called for their attention and began the class.

“Hey, unnie?” Sohye said.

“Yeah?”

“Is it true that the principal is calling a full school assembly this afternoon?” Yeonjung asked, cutting to the chase.

The others nearby stopped what they were doing and wandered closer. Nayoung sighed.

“Yes,” Nayoung said. “But that's all I’m telling you, so don't keep pestering me about it.”

Sohye pouted. “All the older students looked worried when we got to breakfast.” She said.

“It’s nothing for you to worry about right now,” Nayoung promised. “Now, enough about that. Time to pair up.”

Nayoung split up Sohye and Yeonjung, their sparring always turned into them play fighting and she didn’t have the energy to deal with it today. She paired Yeonjung with Doyeon and Sohye with Yoojung, leaving Choi Yewon with Mina, Tzuyu with Chaeyoung and Sungyeon with Kim Yewon.

Nayoung lead them through their normal training routine - she sent them on laps around the room to warm up and then they moved onto the sparring. It was one of her favourite classes to teach, she’d been top of her sparring class when she was a student so it seemed only fitting that she carried on teaching when she was done with her education. As Nayoung watched the seventh years train, she couldn’t help but think about what was to come and what they may be fighting against.

The worry must have been clear on her face. When the class was over, Kim Yewon approached her slowly, a small smile on her face.

“Are you feeling alright unnie?” She asked.

Nayoung smiled at her. “I’m fine,” She said. “Did you need something?”

“Kyungwon unnie told me that you were planning on going to the outhouses after this class,” Yewon said, a sheepish smile on her face.

“You coming?” Nayoung asked with a smile. She didn’t really need to ask. Yewon spent practically all of her free time down at the Sanctuary.

Yewon grinned at her and Nayoung followed her out of the room.

Yewon exuded a radiant aura. She was one of few light magic users in the academy. Yewon was the first to attend the academy in decades and so from the moment she stepped into the school she had drawn people’s attention. They didn’t know how to act around her and either stared at her with awe or fear. Nayoung remembered young, eleven year old Yewon who had spent almost all her time alone with her nose in a book on healing or sneaking into the training centre after hours to improve her fighting skills. Things were different now, but those early years had shaped Yewon. She was quiet, kept to herself and had a few close friends, but she was strong. She was one of Nayoung’s best students and she knew Yewon was going to go far. Nayoung was proud of her.

The outhouses lay at the back of the academy, at the bottom of a long winding trail. The dragons that resided there were free to come and go as they pleased, and there was an area in the centre of the courtyard for the hatchlings to run around and play.

The Sanctuary was situated on the left. It was used as an infirmary and a research centre, and was where all the dragons at the academy went for health checks and to share their knowledge. Yewon led the way, pushing aside the white curtains at the entrance and walking inside. Kyungwon was already there, looking down into a small pen at the back of the room.

As they got closer, Nayoung noticed the two baby dragons curled up alongside each other in the pen. They were mewling quietly. Kyungwon turned to them with a small smile.

“They were abandoned,” Kyungwon explained, “Sejeong brought them back from her last recon trip. She said the land around them had been burned to a crisp.”

Yewon inhaled sharply bedside her. “Dark magic.”

Kyungwon grimaced. “Yeah. Hyojung wants to keep them here for the time being until we can find them a place to stay.”

Yewon tilted her head to the side. “Have you talked to the other dragons about this? Jasper maybe? One of the older dragons could adopt them,” She suggested.

“I hadn't thought about that,” Kyungwon said. “Ask Hyojung unnie. She’s the one looking after them right now, she’ll know what to do.”

Yewon wandered off and Nayoung stared down at the two dragons in the pen. “More and more dragons are being brought to us,” She said.

“I know,” Kyungwon replied. “Things aren’t looking too good out there.”

“You said Sejeong brought them back?” Nayoung said, turning to Kyungwon.

Kyungwon nodded. “She’s probably in the library if you want to go talk to her about it.”

Nayoung nodded and bid Kyungwon goodbye, leaving the Sanctuary to head back up to the school. It was just after lunch, and so the library was busy when Nayoung entered. She walked through the crowds until she reached the back, opening the door to a small study room.

Sejeong was chatting away with Chungha when Nayoung entered. Hyejin was there too, typing away on her laptop and Seunghee was sleeping on a book across the table from her.

Nayoung sat down next to Chungha, kissing her lightly on the cheek. “Do you have the report from your last mission?” She asked Sejeong.

“Yeah, I do,” Sejeong said. She leant down and rummaged in her bag, taking out a tablet. She tapped away for a moment before handing it across the table to Nayoung. “Did you go down to the Sanctuary?”

“Yeah,” Nayoung said. “Kyungwon said you found them in ruins?”

Sejeong nodded. “It was horrible. I didn’t think there would anything left, the place was already almost completely destroyed by the time we got there. The mages are moving quickly, they’re getting stronger.”

Nayoung scanned her eyes over the report. It detailed the group’s arrival to the base, that the group had to put out the fire and that they found bodies of allies crushed under the rubble. It was terrible. They were lucky to have found the hatchlings in time. Any longer and they might not have made it, or the dark mages would have taken them. At least now, they could grow up to be free.

Nayoung sighed and Chungha leaned closer so she could read the report over Nayoung’s shoulder. “This really isn’t good.”

“I overheard the elders I was with talking about how frequent the attacks are becoming,” Sejeong frowned. “They’re moving closer. I think they’re coming for us.”

.

After lunch, the entire student body gathered in the hall for Boa’s assembly. The atmosphere was tense and Nayoung could see the fear in faces of the younger students. She passed Somi as she left and reached out to squeeze her hand gently.

It was no surprise that in her next class, no one was up for learning. As soon as the students were settled, Siyeon raised her hand.

“Yes, Siyeon?” Nayoung asked.

“I know this isn't relative to what we’re doing now,” She began. “But I just wondered… what would we do if the academy was attacked? What would happen to the dragons?”

The rest of the class stopped what they were doing and stared up at her. Nayoung sighed, leaning back against the desk at the front of the room.

“If the school was attacked you would remain in your dorms,” Nayoung said. “The academy is surrounded by enchantments of protection, as well as other defences. Attackers would have to get past teachers, the older students and the dragons before they could get to the school, so the chances of them getting anywhere near you guys are very slim.”

“But what if they did get into the academy? What then?” Siyeon asked.

“We won’t let them, I promise you,” Nayoung said. She picked up her textbook from the table beside her. “Shall we start going over the homework?”

.

Nayoung was exhausted. She climbed into bed and cuddled up next to Chungha.

“Today was rough,” Chungha muttered, running her fingers through Nayoung’s hair, and Nayoung hummed in response. “What are you thinking about?”

“Everything,” Nayoung said with a sigh. “So much is happening, the kids are terrified and I just don’t know what to do.”

“I believe in you,” Chungha said. “You’d do anything to protect this school. You’re strong and skilled and I know for a fact that if they do attack us, you’ll spring into action straight away even if you don’t have a plan.”

Nayoung buried her face in Chungha’s neck and sighed. “I hope you're right,” Nayoung said. “I just want everything to go well.”

“I’m your girlfriend,” Chungha grinned. She cupped Nayoung’s face with her hands and pulled her close, kissing her firmly. “I’m always right.”

.

Nayoung was kept busy for the next few days. On top of classes, she joined the rest of the staff in ensuring the academy’s defences the best they could be, following Hyejin’s orders as she told them how to booby-trap the entrances. An influx of past students were starting to return to the academy to help out - Nayoung had seen Heeyeon and Seungwan and Seulgi already and she bumped into half a dozen more familiar faces at lunch. It grounded her and gave her a little more confidence. These were people she’d watch go through the school before her, they’d given her tips and she had trained with them in her free time. It was her turn to do the same with those in the years below her. Nayoung spent time organising a joint training session with Sojung’s class and giving Eunwoo, Yebin and Jieqiong tips on safety procedures in case disaster struck.

It was at the end of the week that Yewon called for Nayoung to come down to the Sanctuary. Hyojung had confirmed that there was a dragon willing to adopt the two hatchlings Sejeong had brought back to the academy, and Yewon was planning on going to check on them and see how they were settling in.

She was buzzing with excitement as she led Nayoung into one of the outhouses near the Sanctuary. There were sigils above the archway that led inside and all over the walls - a form of extra protection to keep the hatchlings safe, Yewon explained.

The hatchling’s adoptive mother had warm coral scales. Her name was Minjoo, Nayoung had spoken to her a couple of times before. She had reared the most hatchlings out of all the dragons that stayed at the academy so it was no surprise that she had taken the two orphans under her wings.

“Good afternoon Minjoo,” Yewon said as they approached. “How are you doing today?”

Minjoo smiled at her. Dragons always liked Yewon, it was hard not to. She curled her tail around the two hatchlings and rested her head on her front claws.

“I’m doing well, thank you.” Minjoo asked. “It’s good to see you again Nayoung. Yewon’s been keeping me updated with how busy you all are up at the academy.”

“A lot’s going on,” Nayoung said, and Minjoo smiled again.

“I know. I’m sure you’re doing well though.”

“How are the hatchlings?” Nayoung asked, taking a step closer.

“Adjusting,” Minjoo sighed and small wisps of smoke came floating out from her nostrils. “They still cry for their true mother.”

The hatchlings were both a deep blue colour, with patches of lighter blue and teal dotted across their backs. As Minjoo spoke, one lifted its head and looked over at Nayoung and Yewon, before it ducked its head under the tail of its sibling. They were already looking healthier than the last time Nayoung had seen them.

“They’re cute,” Nayoung said. “Hopefully they will adjust soon.”

“They’re still at a loss with what to do with themselves I think.” Minjoo said. “With time, they’ll be okay.”

Yewon talked with Minjoo a little longer, asking questions on the hatchlings behaviour and noting it down in a pocket notebook, presumably so she could report her findings back to Hyojung. Then they left, doing a circuit of all the other buildings so that Yewon could stop in and say hello to everyone inside. Nayoung got to speak to Jasper and Kiha again, catching them up on what was going on and listening as they spoke about what they had seen and heard on their journeys across the country over the past few weeks.

Then they made their way back up to the academy. Nayoung said goodbye to Yewon and slipped into the training centre where Chungha was just wrapping up a class. She lingered by the doorway as the students packed their bags, smiling at familiar faces as they passed by on their way out, before she made her way over to Chungha’s side.

“Hey,” Chungha greeted her, tying up her hair. “Good day?”

Nayoung hummed, filling her in on her trip to see the hatchlings with Yewon and how her classes had been.

“I’ll have to try and visit them soon, Sejeong told me how cute they are,” Chungha said. “What are you doing here anyway, aren’t you going to go down to lunch?”

“I wanted to come and see you,” Nayoung said. “We can go down together.”

Chungha raised an eyebrow at her. “Awfully thoughtful of you. I was going to head back to the dorm first though, I’m sure I smell, I’m all sweaty and gross.”

“You don’t smell bad,” Nayoung said, taking a step closer and wrapping an arm around Chungha’s waist. “Not to me anyway.”

“Stop it,” Chungha laughed. “You’re terrible.”

“Back to the dorm and then to lunch?” Nayoung asked.

Chungha nodded in confirmation. “You’re free this afternoon, aren’t you? We can do something together. Maybe take a walk and have a picnic or something. Take a break for the afternoon.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Nayoung said,

“Great.” Chungha kissed Nayoung’s cheek before taking hold of her hand and pulling her from the room.

.

Something was burning. Nayoung sat up in bed and looked out of the window to see flames engulfing the trees outside. She rolled over and shook Chungha awake just as an alarm began sounding through the building.

“What’s going on?” Chungha asked, sitting up and covering her ears with her hands. The alarm was deafening.

“They’re here,” Nayoung said, slipping on a pair of shoes and rushing out into the hallway, bumping straight into Chaeyeon.

“The outhouses are on fire,” Chaeyeon said, panicked. Nayoung took her hand and encouraged her to take deep breaths, calming her down. “I could see them from my window. We need to move quickly.

Chungha swore behind her. Nayoung rushed down the corridor, Chungha and Chaeyeon following behind her. There was a small group gathered at the end of the corridor talking to one another.

“What do we do?” Hyejin asked.

“Fight back,” Bora said, pulling a jumper on over her pyjamas. “We should split up - send a group to check on the students, another to make sure there’s no one in the academy and a third to go down and assess the damage outside.”

“I’ll head down to the outhouses,” Nayoung said.

“I want to go down too,” Hyojung said, stepping forward.

Hyejin reached out and took Hyojung’s hand. “I’ll go with you.”

Bora nodded. “Okay. Chungha, will you come with me to check the dorms? I’ll send Mimi and Sojin to search the academy.”

Chungha nodded. She grabbed Nayoung’s hand and squeezed it tight. “Be careful,” She said, kissing Nayoung. “I’ll see you soon.”

“You too,” Nayoung said. She turned to Hyojung and Hyejin. “Let’s go.”

Hyojung and Hyejin followed Nayoung as she rushed out of the dorms. They passed by others in the corridor - Heeyeon was rummaging through a store room that doubled as a weapons store. She passed Nayoung a dagger as she went by, and Nayoung clutched it tight as she moved along.

It was pitch black outside. A shudder ran down Nayoung’s spine as she thought about the fact that the dark mages could still be hanging around, lingering in the darkness. She hoped they were long gone. Nayoung wasn’t quite sure what she’d do to them after she saw the full extent of the damage they had caused.

By the time they got to the outhouses, there were already several groups of teaching staff trying to put out the fire. Nayoung saw Boa leading one of the groups, light mages at her side as they attempted to move the rubble out of the way. Huddled together in the centre of the courtyard was a group of small dragons, the youngest hatchlings mewling in distress. In the sky above them, the rest of the dragons were flying around, calling to one another.

Nayoung left Hyojung and Hyejin to run to the hatchlings and did a circuit of the outhouses. Most of them had been partially if not fully destroyed by the fire. There were a few buildings still burning strong towards the back, where the staff were yet to reach. Nayoung was about to move on when she heard a faint sound, quiet cries coming from inside one of the buildings. Her heart immediately plummeted in her chest and she rushed forward.

“Hello? Can you hear me?”

The cries grew louder and Nayoung took in a deep breath, holding her pyjama shirt over her mouth as she crawled underneath the collapsed rubble. The heat was blistering and Nayoung had to shield her eyes with her hand as she walked through.

It took her another few minutes before she spotted the dragon. Its head was buried under its claws and it was curling in on itself as it tried to avoid the flames. As Nayoung got closer, she noticed familiar green scales - it was Kiha’s latest hatchling, Kit, if she remembered correctly. Nayoung took a step closer and stretched out her hand, gently resting it on Kit’s snout.

Kit growled for a moment before he looked out from under his claws and saw that it was Nayoung.

“Hey, hey, it’s okay. I’m going to get you out of here and take you back to your parents, okay?” Kit slowly nodded, lifting his head higher but shrinking back as there was a loud clattering beside them, a piece of burning wood falling to the ground nearby. They needed to move quickly. Nayoung wasn’t sure how much longer the building was going to hold.

It took time to move through the building. Kit wasn’t a small dragon, he was at least the size of a small car, and it was hard for him to walk through the burning rubble. They managed it though, but only just, as the entrance they slipped through collapsed on itself. Nayoung breathed a sigh of relief and coughing hard into her hand.

Nayoung began ushering Kit towards the courtyard, through the charred trees. There was a sound to her right and Nayoung spun on her heel, wielding her dagger. It was too dark for her to make anything out, but the feeling of unease stayed with her. As she turned back to Kit, a glimmer of light caught her eye and she turned again to see someone leap out of the shadows towards her.

Nayoung lifted the dagger and lunged forward. The stranger deflected, using the staff they were holding to send her flying backwards. She groaned in pain as she smacked into a rock, holding her side. That was going to leave a bruise. The hooded figure moved forwards and attempted to muzzle Kit. Kit screeched out, sending small plumes of fire shooting out of his mouth and onto the ground between him and his assailant. Nayoung pulled herself to her feet, grimacing at the shooting pain in her side. She lunged forward, knocking the cloaked figure to the side and she quickly pulled the muzzle from around Kit’s snout. “Go!” She told him, pointing towards the courtyard.

Kit rushed off into the darkness and Nayoung turned back to her attacker, gripping the dagger tight in her hand. Their hood had fallen down, revealing a scarred face and short cropped brown hair. He growled at Nayoung, swinging his staff at her. Nayoung dodged and moved closer, stabbing him with her dagger.

He grunted, hand clutching at his side. Whilst he was distracted, Nayoung took the opportunity to lunge for his staff, sending it flying out of his hands and onto the ground.

“You can’t win,” He hissed.

“Try me,” Nayoung responded, kicking his chest and sending him sprawling to the ground.

Nayoung picked up his staff from the ground, turning it over in her hand as she studied it. It was covered in intricate symbols, she could make out some of them as runes that Yewon had shown her before. She would have to find someone to take a look at it once this was all over.

“Nayoung! Duck!”

Nayoung’s head snapped up as she heard her name. She dropped to the ground in surprise as she saw Yewon charging out of the bushes towards her, a ball of white energy building in her palms. She sent it flying over Nayoung’s head, and Nayoung turned to see it hit a second mage that had appeared from the shadows right in the chest. The light lit up the forest, and Nayoung spotted a third figure that had been skulking in shadows. He was staring at Yewon with a strange look on his face as she made her way over to where Nayoung was.

“Are you okay?” Yewon asked.

“I’m fine,” Nayoung said, sitting up. She kept her eyes on the third man, frowning and pulling Yewon behind her as she saw a swirl of black energy form in his palm.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Yewon said. Nayoung could see more white light forming in Yewon’s hand from the corner of her eye.

“Why is that, little girl?” He asked.

“Because people like you are not welcome here.”

Nayoung turned at the sound of Boa’s voice. She was flanked by a group of teachers, all wielding weapons. The man froze and Boa lifted her hand, signalling for the staff to move. Four surrounded the man still standing whilst the rest circled the others on the ground.

“More of us will come. We will keep coming and destroying this land until there is nothing but ashes.” He growled.

“And we will be ready,” Boa said. “But you will not win.”

“We’ll see about that,” He snarled.

Boa waved her hand again and the teachers fastened a set of dimly glowing handcuffs around his wrists, leading him away.

Nayoung turned to Yewon and pulled her into a hug. She was shaking. “You were supposed to stay in the dorms,” Nayoung said,

“I couldn’t not do anything,” Yewon said. “There’s a girl in my dorm room, Jungeun, she’s a seer. She knew something was going to happen and she saw you and I just wanted to help.”

“I’m grateful,” Nayoung reassured her. “I’m just glad you didn’t get hurt.”

“As am I.” They turned to see Boa stood beside them. “You were brave today, Yewon. You have a lot of potential, all of your teachers have said so. If you hadn’t have acted, things might have turned out differently.” She rested her hand on Yewon’s shoulder and squeezed it gently. “I think it's best you both head back to the academy, warm yourselves up and reassure the others you safe. We will deal with the rest of this.”

Nayoung took Yewon’s hand in her own and led her away. Bora was waiting at the main doors, arms crossed and a frown on her face. She rushed forward when she saw them both, pulling them into a big hug. “Thank god both of you are safe. Sungyeon was in tears when she realised you weren’t in the dorm.”

“Oh no,” Yewon said, looking over at Nayoung. “I should go and find her.”

Nayoung squeezed her hand. “I’ll come and find you tomorrow. You did great today, okay? I love you.”

“I love you too unnie,” Yewon smiled at her, eyes watery, before she rushed off.

“Chungha’s looking for you, she’s in the hall,” Bora said. “Hyojung and Hyejin wanted me to tell you they made it back safe too.”

“Okay, thank you.” Nayoung said.

“I’m glad you’re okay,” Bora said, pulling her into a quick hug. “Things were close there for a second.”

Nayoung let out a shaky breath. “Yeah, they really were.”

Bora patted her on the back and left her to walk to the hall alone. Chungha jumped on her as soon as she entered, squeezing her tight.

“Ow, maybe not so tight,” Nayoung said.

Chungha pulled back, face full of worry as she clutched Nayoung’s arms. “Why, what happened? Are you hurt?”

“A little,” Nayoung said, gesturing to her side. “Nothing a good night's rest won’t fix.”

“I’m so glad to see you,” Chungha said. “Bora and Mimi told me that Yewon was missing and I was so worried for a second about the both of you.”

“She’s fine, we both are. She saved my ass,” Nayoung told her. “How are you? Did you find anything?”

“I’m fine,” Chungha said. “Just tired. All the students are safe, the mages didn’t make it inside. Hyojung unnie said that all the dragons are too. I think things are good, for now anyway.”

The hall was quite a sight - almost everyone gathered there was in their pyjamas. There were groups of girls passing out water bottles and blankets and others who were attending to those who had been injured. Nayoung let her eyes fall shut, the exhaustion washing over her.

“They told us we can go back to the dorms soon, they’re just doing one last sweep,” Chungha said, leading Nayoung to a bench so that they could sit down. She gestured over to someone so that they could look at Nayoung’s side and sat, holding her hand throughout the whole thing.

Nayoung rested her head on Chungha’s shoulder.

“Do you think everything will be alright?” Chungha whispered, smoothing her thumb over the back of Nayoung’s hand.

Nayoung looked out across the hall at all the girls gathered around them and smiled.

“Yeah, I think we’ll be okay,” Nayoung said.