Yixing remembered only bits and pieces from the fight. He remembered the shadows clinging to him like a second skin, the crimson blood on his blade when it fell from his hand and then there was nothing else.
He was swirling around in a dark void one moment and the next, he was opening his eyes to see his mother staring at him. She had taken one look at him and burst into tears. Even his father’s eyes were glassy as he was hugged so tightly that he could barely breathe.
“Mother. Father. Did we do it?” Yixing asked weakly when he was released.
“We did it.” He turned to see Junmyeon standing by his side, his eyes watery. Yixing gave a little yelp of surprise as he was engulfed again, the smell of wind and the sea wrapping around him like a blanket.
“Someone fetch Baekhyun. He will want to see you,” his mother said, stroking Yixing’s hair away from his face. The door burst open and Yifan came stumbling in, his hair ruffled as if he had been sleeping.
“Oh.” He rushed straight over to the bed and Yixing had to brace himself for another hug. “You’re awake!”
“I’ll go fetch Baekhyun,” Junmyeon smiled, patting Yifan’s shoulder. He nodded to Yixing’s parents as Yifan pulled away, a sheepish look on his face. Yixing winced a little when his father’s eyes narrowed. There would be plenty of time for explanations later.
As Yifan moved off the bed, Yixing let his hands be taken by his mother.
“What happened? Prince Jongdae’s letter did not explain much, only that you were injured and that you were coming home.”
“And about the curse,” his father added and for the first time, Yixing noticed that his father was not wearing his glove. And neither was he.
“It’s been broken?” he gasped, turning wide eyes to Yifan, who was shuffling nervously at the bedside. Yifan nodded, flashing him a tiny smile. He held up his hand, a spark of flame dancing between them before snuffing it out.
“Yixing saved us,” Yifan said quietly before Yixing could even begin to explain. “He sacrificed himself to heal the tree.”
“Sacrificed? Did you-?” His mother’s face paled and the hands gripping Yixing’s shook.
“He died. His heart stopped,” Yifan confirmed, bowing his head. Yixing shot him a glare when his mother went completely white and his father looked as if he needed to sit down. He shook his mother’s hands gently.
“But I’m fine now, Mother. I’m here.”
“You died,” his father cut in, pale and shaky. “You-.”
“I’m fine, Father. Something brought me back. The tree brought me back. It didn’t hurt. I’m fine and I’m here,” Yixing murmured, pulling his mother in for another hug as she began to shake, quiet sobs wracking her body.
He looked up at the sound of footsteps and his heart clenched at the sight of Baekhyun, still blind, holding onto Junmyeon’s hand and his cane in the other.
“Baek.” Watching Baekhyun’s face crumple with relief was never something Yixing wanted to experience again. He pried himself free from his mother’s arms just in time to catch Baekhyun in his arms. As Baekhyun openly wept on his shoulder, Yixing made a vow to himself to never, ever see Baekhyun cry so hard anymore.
“I promise,” he murmured, kissing Baekhyun’s temple. Baekhyun sniffled and his heart broke a second time. He squeezed his hand back when Baekhyun’s visitor was announced, nodding at him to go. Baekhyun looked like he desperately wanted to stay but Yixing was not going anywhere.
Judging by the looks on his parents’ faces, they had a lot of explaining to do.
“I think we both want an explanation, Xing. About a lot of things,” his father said once Baekhyun had left. He looked up at Yifan and Junmyeon and huffed, gesturing for them to sit.
“You can start with these two. I know you’ve been courting Junmyeon but who is this?” Yixing winced when his father waved his hand up and down at Yifan.
“This is Yifan. He’s-.”
“The prince of Modak,” Yifan cut in. He held out his hand, his palm filling with fire. “I survived the fall of my kingdom and have been nomadic since I turned thirteen.”
“He saved my life once in Seong. And told us where to find the book to summon the tree,” Yixing explained. He had been dreading the next part, when he reached for Yifan’s hand, extinguishing the flames when he tangled their fingers together. One look at Junmyeon told him that his lover was just as nervous as he fiddled with his bracelet.
“And the bracelet?” His father looked pointedly at the gold chain wrapped around Yifan’s wrist, inset with an yellow topaz that matched his eyes. It looked like nothing that Yifan would wear, with his leather bands and rough tunics.
Yixing swallowed, squeezing Yifan’s hand for comfort.
“Courtship, Father,” he managed. “We have a-.”
“An unusual arrangement,” Junmyeon put in gently. “Completely consensual on all sides.”
There was a beat of silence where Yixing thought his heart might jump out of his chest, it was beating so hard. He squeezed Yifan’s hand, almost trembling from the anticipation. The tension in the room was so thick he could cut it like butter.
“Somehow, I am not surprised that our son managed to snag the attention of two princes,” his mother said at last and Yixing let out a breath. He could not relax completely, not yet, when his father had yet to say anything, his face like a storm cloud as he surveyed the two men.
“You’re in love with both of them?” The words were stilted, slow as if his father was still trying to process what was happening.
“That’s the idea,” Yixing said, “that there’s room in my heart for two.”
His father exhaled, tilting his face to the ceiling. He still looked completely confused but Yixing was relieved when his mother gave him a soft smile, reaching out to take his father’s hand.
“I do not understand this. But I will try,” his father said at last, after several glances passed between him and his mother. “If this makes you happy, Yixing. I will try. But be warned.”
His gaze sharpened, passing between Junmyeon and Yifan.
“If you hurt him, I will not hesitate. Especially you.” He levelled his glare at Yifan, who only sighed, nodding sagely.
“And the three of you will sleep in separate rooms. No funny business. I know you’re turning twenty one but I was just informed that my son was dead only days ago.”
“Yes, Father,” Yixing murmured.
“And you will have the talk when your- partners are not in the room. I was not expecting you to go picking up boys when you went on that trip.” Yixing’s cheeks flushed. He buried his face into his hands when Yifan huffed out a laugh. At least Junmyeon was kind enough to muffle his smile in his sleeve.
After a truly mortifying, lengthy talk with his father that Yixing never wanted revisit again, he was finally allowed out of his bedroom.
“Why am I the one they always threaten in your honour?” Yifan grumbled as they ambled through the gardens. Already, the effects of the poison was lifting. The bushes were beginning to grow in new leaves and Yixing was fairly sure he saw a rose bud or two.
Men had returned from the forest talking about the streams and rivers clearing up and woodland creatures wandering about. The trees were blossoming, laden with fruit that they had never seen before and the kingdom was flourishing.
“Maybe because they know Junmyeon. He is the human embodiment of an angel,” Yixing teased, laughing aloud at Yifan’s offended face. Junmyeon chuckled too, shaking his head. Yixing pressed a kiss to his cheek after a sneaky look around before turning around to grasp the collar of Yifan’s shirt. He tugged him down, kissing him gently.
“It’s okay. We love you all the same,” he murmured when Yifan rubbed their noses together. Junmyeon hummed in agreement, resting his hand on Yixing’s shoulder.
“It’s all a ploy,” Yifan muttered when they entered a more private section of the garden, hidden by tall hedges that hid them from view. “They think he’s this sweet, innocent prince when he’s the most devious one of them all.”
That earned him a pinch to the side and Junmyeon’s sweetest smile. But Yifan’s point was proven later two nights later when Yixing’s bedroom door slid open just as he was about to slide into bed.
Junmyeon appeared, with Yifan in tow, dressed only in his thinnest sleeping robes. His smile was devilish when he climbed into Yixing’s bed, cupping his face to kiss him so hard that Yixing had the wind knocked from his lungs.
“Rebels all of you,” he murmured with a smile when the covers were thrown aside. Yifan’s hand slid up his thigh not so innocently and he caught it. Yixing pressed a kiss against his knuckles, arching up with a soft cry when Junmyeon attached his lips to his neck.
“It was his idea,” Yifan replied, leaning down to kiss him. Yixing laughed, winding his arms around Yifan’s neck to tug him down on top of him.
“We don’t have much time together left. I wanted to savour it,” Junmyeon said, pulling his face from Yixing’s throat. Yixing sobered up at once. He spoke the truth. In a few days, Junmyeon would have to return home to Bada and Yifan… Yifan had yet to decide if he would stay or go with him.
Perhaps he would travel, he had told them with a smirk. Now that he had two places to call home.
“Hey. What are you thinking of?” Yifan kissed Yixing’s cheek gently, catching his attention.
“Just- us,” Yixing said, cupping his cheek. He kissed him again, this time a little more desperately. His fingers threaded through Yifan’s golden hair, tugging until Yifan was lying down beside him and he was cocooned between the both of them.
“We’re not going anywhere,” Junmyeon murmured, always so perceptive. He nuzzled into Yixing’s neck, planting kisses onto his skin.
“I know, I’m just- thinking.”
“Very loudly,” Yifan said, lacing their fingers together. “You’ll get wrinkles if you keep frowning like that.”
“I don’t feel frowny.” Yixing furrowed his brow at him, earning a laugh and another kiss on the cheek.
“We’ll be here, Xing. You’re not alone anymore.” It was as if Junmyeon had read his mind. “I know Baekhyun has left for Seong but you have us. You’ll always have us.”
A thumb brushed against his cheekbone and Yixing blinked. He had not realised that he was crying. Everything had changed and would continue changing. His kingdom was no longer dark and dreary and dead. Baekhyun had grown up and was living his own life with promises to write and visit often. And Yixing, Yixing did not feel alone anymore.
He had friends, more than just Baekhyun and Yifan and Junmyeon to see him through.
“I love you,” he said aloud, “both of you.”
The twin smiles on Yifan and Junmyeon’s face made warmth burst in his chest. He snuggled up against Yifan, feeling Junmyeon curve around his back, one arm thrown over his waist.
He fell asleep like that, tucked in between the people he loved the most, knowing that when he woke up the next day, it would all start anew.