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Part 7: Cursed Prince (Book 2 of the Asteria Series)
Pairings: Sudo
Summary: When a freak storm blows in out of nowhere and his horse throws him, lowly Prince Joonmyun is left outside a lavish mansion with a bruised pride and a twisted wrist. Surely you're not supposed to listen to disembodied voices in an enchanted mansion...
Word Count: 1752

Kyungsoo pushes aside a long vine blocking his way. It seems a long long time since he has travelled even remotely close to town where the Deer King ruled with his icy partner.



He shoves aside a hanging branch and steps towards the long willow branches that surround the spirit glade. He reaches out, hand trembling to sweep the willow aside. The branches resist him and he is not surprised. The glade has a mind and life of its own and they never forget an insult. "Please." He whispers and the branches part reluctantly, catching on his clothes every opportunity they can.

The darkness of the glade is lifted when the wil'o wisps appear, chattering angrily at him. They tug and pull at his clothes and try even try to blind him with their light. He jerks away when the wil'o wisps start tugging on his hair. They bodily try to force him from the clearing but the willow branches have vanished and they will only return after he has finished what he had come for.

He steps towards the clearing and the wisps leave him alone, chattering and grumbling to themselves. Kyungsoo parts the curtain of leaves quietly and freezes when he sees that there is someone else in the clearing. Or rather, two people.

Kris stares deeply into Yixing's eyes as Jongdae lays a pink vine across his wrist and another across his lover's. The vines snake around the couple's joined hands and clasp together, little tentacles linked tightly together, never to be separated again. He hears a rustle of leaves parting but is too entranced by Yixing's eyes to notice much. Jongdae lifts the joined vines from their wrists and sets it down on their branch. The purple flower glows brighter and emits a soft sigh, petals opening completely to reveal two silver lockers embedded with an opal and a topaz respectively.

Yixing lets out a startled gasp but Kris smiles and pulls his husband close and kisses him deeply. Jongdae drapes the opal over Kris's neck and the topaz over Yixing's and the couple kiss again. The love between the men is obvious and it makes Kyungsoo's heart throb painfully.

"Come, my love." Kris takes his lover by the hand and leads him towards the edge of the clearing. They smile as they pass Kyungsoo and Yixing even lays a hand on his shoulder and whispers a good luck.

Jongdae blinks as Kyungsoo slips into the clearing. "Which one is mine?" He asks roughly. Jongdae points at a drooping flower wordlessly and Kyungsoo stifles a gasp. The flower looks worse than it did the last time when he had wrenched his hand loose from the soul vine. The petals are tightly closed and browned on the edges.

The flower looked dead. "Terrible isn't it?" Jongdae murmurs as Kyungsoo stares. "It's what's happening to Joonmyun right now." Kyungsoo reaches out and brushes a hand over the petals of the flower and the soul vine twitches weakly. He allows the vine to twine its way around his wrist and hears a tired sigh.

So tired. And sleepy. So unloved. Poor thing.

His mind fills with images of Joonmyun in a tiny palace being chastised by a man that could only be his father and him being scorned by the other nobles for his family's lack of wealth. The flurry of images end with Joonmyun lying on the bed in the highest tower, life draining slowly from him. The soul vine unwinds itself and lays down, looking rather sad and limp.

"You told me he was only sleeping." Kyungsoo mumbles, staring at the soul vine that belonged to Joonmyun. The vine was in a sadder state than his own, looking all dry and dead.

Jongdae shrugs. "It hardly my fault Soo." He murmurs. Kyungsoo thinks back to the poor prince and that fills him with resolve. "How can I help him?" He asks, looking at Jongdae imploringly.

"Go to the palace and look for the prince and his foreign lover. I'm sure they have an idea." Jongdae smiles cryptically and holds open the curtain of leaves.

Kyungsoo is only momentarily surprised by the fact that it is already evening by the time he leaves the clearing. Time passes differently there and he starts off towards the forest on foot, Jongdae having disappeared on him again.

He arrives at the palace when night has fallen and has just raised his hand to knock when the guard shrieks and draws his sword. "Monster!" He blinks owlishly at the guard and the guard points at his hands. He looks down and finds them covered in fur with long claws extended.

"I must see the prince." He speaks firmly, sticking his hands into his pockets and utilizing every bit of noble training he had received as a prince. The guard shakes his head but Kyungsoo bares his claws. The doors open for him to show Prince Kris reclining on a throne with his lover in his lap. The Crown Prince is nowhere to be seen. Kyungsoo feels self conscious as he steps inside.

The Prince's lover sees him first and smiles warmly at him. "Hi." The prince turns and smiles as well, arm curled gently around his lover's waist. "May we help you?" Kyungsoo hesitantly draws his hands from his pockets. The pale man gasps and the prince is on his feet, hand on the hilt of his sword and pushing his husband behind him. "What are you?!"

Kyungsoo holds his hands up. "I come in peace." The Prince's husband nudges him away and hurries towards him. Against the Prince's protests, he takes up one of Kyungsoo's hands, much to his surprise. "A curse?" The man asks, pale hands brushing against the fur, tentatively touching the long, sharp claws. Kyungsoo nods, surprised. The Prince moves forward, amber eyes smoldering as he rests a hand against his lover's waist.

"Beauty and the Beast." Kyungsoo hears the man whisper, leaning into his husband. "You guys really have all the fairytales here." Kyungsoo sees the Prince's brow crinkle. "Beauty and the Beast? Which one is that?" The man strokes the fur on Kyungsoo's hand thoughtfully before his eyes spark to life.

"Please sit down and we can talk." He gestures towards the chair close to the throne and Kyungsoo gulps, wondering if the man even knew who was supposed to sit there. He had heard stories that the man the prince had married was foreign and from another world but it really showed here.

Kris pulls Yixing close to him as they settle into their seats. He frowns at the man-beast when his lover reaches forward to take his hands again. Kyungsoo swallows nervously when the Prince's lover reaches forward to fiddle with his hands in fascination. "Xing." The prince starts warningly. His lover jolts back and sends Kyungsoo an apologetic glance. "Sorry, I just couldn't... We don't have anything like this happen in my world." He mumbles, hand coming to scratch at his neck nervously. The prince leans over and kisses him endearingly.

"You must need our help if you've travelled to see us." Kris addresses the man-beast formally. Kyungsoo nods. "Yes Your Grace." The prince exchanges a glance with his husband and leans forward. "Tell us your story. Yixing loves stories." He pats his lover on the head and said man smiles encouragingly.

Kyungsoo relates with everything that has happened in the past weeks and the prince and his partner listen carefully, the prince occasionally sneaking looks at his lover. "Does the story sound familiar to you my love?" He asks after Kyungsoo has finished. "Yixing has read many stories and according to him, our world reflects those stories." He explains to Kyungsoo who looked confused.

Yixing nods enthusiastically. "I think it is a mix of Beauty and The Beast with Sleeping Beauty. You mentioned that your lover is asleep right?" He asks, intelligent eyes focused on Kyungsoo. "He isn't my lover, he just broke my curse." Kyungsoo hurriedly corrects him before he feels a spark of pain travel up his arms. "Jongdae asked me to come to you because he said you would have an idea Your Grace."

Yixing waved him away. "Just Yixing is fine. Well in the stories I've read, the princess is usually awakened after a hundred years have passed by true love's kiss." Kyungsoo snorts. "I beg your pardon Your Grace but Joonmyun is no princess and I certainly do not have a hundred years to spare." The Prince's eyes flash. "You will not speak to my husband in that manner."

Yixing lays a hand on his husband's chest and pushes him back down. "Hush angry bear. He meant no disrespect." The prince deflates immediately. Kyungsoo is impressed. "Perhaps the true love's kiss would work?" Yixing looks at him, head tilting cutely to the side. The prince looks at him with starry eyes and presses a kiss against his neck. Kyungsoo suppresses his laughter. The prince is so smitten that it was funny to watch. Yixing squirms and bats at him. "Not the neck love."

He jabs the prince hard in the ribs and the prince recoils, pouting like a child. "You're distracting me. Will you please leave us if you're not going to contribute anything useful?" Yixing pokes his husband in the side and the Prince mock sighs. "Alright, since you don't want me anymore." Yixing catches his collar and kisses him hard before pushing him away. "Don't be dramatic my prince." Kyungsoo clears his throat and Yixing turns back to him, a flush crawling across his face. "Sorry."

"If you could tell me the story that you think relates to mine, the answer may be within the story." Yixing grins. "Of course! Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorites!"

After a lengthy story, Kyungsoo is pretty sure he knows what he has to do and the thought of it is not pleasant in the slightest. His arms are hurting terribly and he is sure there is dried blood on the inside of his sleeves. "Thank you Your Grace for your time." He rises and bows at the same time the prince reenters the room. "Good luck." Yixing smiles at him as he is pulled into the Prince's arms. Kyungsoo bows and takes his leave, politely declining Yixing's suggestion for him to rest at the palace that night, anxious to return home. He takes no notice of the darkness outside and only knows that he has to return soon.

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August 2016

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