The War in our Hearts
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- The Horse -


“Follow me,” Jongin said to Soomi, who smiled at him. They didn’t take the wide stairway leading to the front door but a smaller inconspicuous one that the servants used. Passing the kitchen, they headed outside through the backdoor. Jongin gave her a sly grin over his shoulder and walked into the stables. Soomi was surprised to find two saddled horses waiting for them. Her eyes widened, and Jongin chuckled at her awestruck expression.

“The white horse is yours. Her name is Stella,” he said, handing her the reins.

Soomi was speechless and admired the beautiful horse. She looked back at her, sniffed her hand, and moved her ears attentively. “J-Jongin… Is… Is this okay?” Soomi asked, close to tears.

“The nobles won’t find out, and neither will anyone else. Of course, it’s okay. You know how to ride horses, don’t you?” he chuckled

“Thank you so much! I’ll be forever indebted to you!” She beamed and mounted the horse, sitting sideways because she was still wearing her dress.

“That’s what I wanted to hear! It’s never a bad thing to have the future queen on my side,” Jongin smirked mischievously, mounting his dark brown horse and leading it outside. Soomi kept her hood up and put her horse to a trot, leaving the residence quickly before anyone recognized her.

They took a small path into the forest, Jongin riding next to her. He was glad to see her smile so brightly and knew that he made the right decision when planning this outing. It was easy to see how much she loved horses whenever she spent time with Yumi. The princess visited the foal every single day, not missing one. The devotion she showed towards an animal other people would have simply ignored impressed Jongin. She would make a good queen.

“It’s quiet out here. Reminds me of home,” she smiled, closing her eyes and loosening her grip on the reins. The wind felt pleasant on her skin, and she enjoyed being on horseback.

“Caelum has many beautiful forests as well,” Jongin confirmed, earning a questioning glance from her.

“You were in Caelum?”

“Yes, but I doubt you would want to hear about it since it’s not a happy story,” he frowned.

“I do want to hear it. Please tell me!” she said, guessing it was connected to the war, and he confirmed her suspicion.

“It was a few months ago at the end of winter,” Jongin began to explain, moving his eyes to the trees they passed. “I belong to the royal guard with seven other knights. We accompanied Baekhyun during the battles in which he fought. At this particular time, we managed to repulse Caelum’s army, and your castle wasn’t all that far anymore. I could already see its outline on the horizon. We crossed a few forests on the way there, and they were very serene and beautiful. However, we didn’t have time to linger since our goal was to reach the castle.”

He glanced at her, finding a sad expression on her face. “I didn’t know you came this close. Father and brother never told me,” Soomi said bitterly. “No wonder did Baekhyun call me naïve… I truly don’t know anything.”

“I assume your family wanted to shelter you from the cruelty of war. Don’t be mad at them; they only wished to protect you,” Jongin answered before he continued his story. “After we came so close, Caelum’s army retaliated desperately until we were forced to retreat. Many lives were lost that day on both sides. We reached a stalemate that lasted until your wedding.”

“I see… I can only imagine what the knights went through… War is something horrible that should not even exist,” she said sadly before a fiery spark of determination brightened her gray eyes. “I will do whatever I can to preserve this peace. It’s the least I can do for the people who died hoping to end the war.”

“You and Baekhyun are quite similar, in a way,” Jongin mumbled quietly enough that Soomi didn’t hear it. She observed her surroundings, occasionally spotting a bird in the trees. Colorful wildflowers framed the path, the beautiful scenery capturing her attention.

“Can we gallop for a bit? I want to go faster than this,” she asked.

“Sure, if you can keep up, princess,” Jongin said challengingly, spurring his horse to move faster. Soomi was quick to follow him, her horse leaping to catch up with his. Soomi laughed excitedly when she felt the wind on her face, and the trees passed by faster and faster. She saw the end of the forest, the path leading over a meadow. However, when a group of riders appeared in the distance, Jongin and Soomi slowed their horses immediately.

“Hide your face,” Jongin reminded her. She nervously pulled at the hood of her cloak, veiling her face in shadows. Her heartbeats sped up as she watched the group come closer, and Jongin put a hand on the hilt of his sword. However, he suddenly relaxed and rolled his eyes. “I should have seen it coming,” he mumbled, leaving Soomi to guess what was wrong.

As the eight people rode closer, Soomi recognized two of them as Baekhyun and Kyungsoo. She bit her lip, cursing her bad luck. What would they think of her when they found out she snuck outside to go horse riding, something that was frowned upon as a princess? She kept her face hidden, careful not to look up when they stopped in front of her companion.

“Jongin, what are you doing here?” she heard Baekhyun ask, the sharpness of his tone surprising her. “You’re supposed to stay with the princess.”

“Who’s that?” someone else asked, making her cringe. She refused to reveal herself to them but hadn’t counted on Jongin doing it for her.

“Don’t you recognize the princess of Lux?” Jongin answered mischievously. She sighed, giving up and taking off the hood to gaze into many astounded faces. Baekhyun looked at her as if she was a ghost.

“What are you doing here?” he sputtered, his horse neighing in response to his restless behavior.

“I wanted to go horse riding,” she explained herself uneasily. The countless disbelieving stares were starting to unsettle her. “I often used to do this in Caelum. It was my favorite pastime, and I truly missed it, so Jongin offered to accompany me today.”

“I didn’t know about that,” Baekhyun replied, finally getting over his surprise. He rested a hand on his thigh, holding the reins in his other hand. “Why didn’t you say so sooner?”

“It’s not like you would have listened,” she whispered, but he heard her words regardless, furrowing his brow since he knew she was right.

“Well, now that you’re here, you might as well join us, Your Highness,” one of the knights said. He was rather tall and had black hair paired with dark eyes, introducing himself as Sehun.

“Did you have a destination in mind?” Jongin asked, but Sehun shook his head.

“No, we just wanted to secure the area and check if any possible threats are around,” Baekhyun explained. “This is why I told you to stay inside,” he added with a pointed look in Soomi’s direction. She bit her lip, sadness clouding her eyes. Again, she had done something wrong. It was frustrating, to say the least.

“But the area is safe, so you may join us for another round through the forest if you want,” Baekhyun added, surprising Soomi, who looked taken aback at his generous offer.

“W-What?” she exclaimed with wide eyes. “Really?”

“Yes.” She could hardly believe her eyes when his lips twitched amusedly. He turned his horse around and spurred it to move. She followed his example and rode beside him, sending him a stunned look. The knights trailed after them, laughing and chatting about something.

“So you didn’t just play with the foal out of boredom,” Baekhyun said, keeping his gaze on the path before them.

“No, I spent time with Yumi because she lost her mother, and I thought she seemed sad and lonely.” Just like herself, but Soomi didn’t voice that thought. “I love animals, especially horses.”

“I see. Anything else I should know about you?” he asked.

Soomi fell silent, thinking about her hobbies and interests before she spoke. “I practiced archery for years and used to participate in competitions with the other nobles at Caelum’s court.”

“That’s surprising. Why would the King allow this kind of thing?”

“My brother Taehyung convinced him. He was always on my side regarding archery and horse-riding,” Soomi revealed with a melancholic smile.

“Did you learn fencing as well?” Baekhyun asked curiously, tilting his head as he listened to her.

“No, I was never allowed to touch a sword. Both my father and brother were strictly against it,” she said, thinking of her old home. Her heart ached, longing to reunite with her family.

“Understandable,” was the only thing Baekhyun said. When she studied him, he wore the very same bitter expression that she had seen once before when he had played the piano in the middle of the night.

“What do you mean?” she prodded carefully.

He turned his head to her and hid the anguished frown behind a mask of indifference. Only his eyes betrayed that he was carrying a burden far to

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730 streak #1

Two kingdoms - will the peace last? Interesting plot. 😉👌

Plot: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Characters: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Chapter 22: ITS SO CUTE how caelum's and lux's royal guards get along with each other, it's like the war never happened and soomi was the one who connected them together! soomi game changer fr <3
Chapter 11: originally i was going to comment after the first five chapters but i didn't realize i was already far ahead because i'm SOOO HOOKED! i love how kind and selfless soomi is and she doesnt even try to fight for her own character, only fighting back when it comes to her kingdom. T___T she takes every insult of herself but when it comes to her kingdom and family, she doesnt hesitate and i love that about her. especially how baekhyun and the knights see that very clearly -- how selfless she is <3
Chapter 21: The ending of this chap is soooo beautiful😳 Finally he confessed to her!!!! Them endearing each other by SAYING My Queen/My King>>>>>>>>>>>>>😻
Chapter 20: Chapter 20: Oh nooo the king has died 😔 It must be really hard for Baekhyun. He's scared rn about throne & responsibilities. This is normal ig. Soomi is such a wonderful wife. She's trying so hard to comfort him. She's GONNA be a great queen!!
Chapter 19: They are so chaotic 😂 the knights always spread good vibes around her which is great. Baekhyun always find a reason to bring amusement on her face. He's so fond of her now sksjskdjs-
Chapter 18: They are not even safe in their own palace. So much suspense! Lord Wang is still rude asf- this guy is really suspicious.
Chapter 17: well DESERVED! Yoobin should die, there is no forgiveness for traitors. Thanks to lady Yang- I THOUGHT SHE WAS VILLAIN BUT SHE TURNED OUT TO BE AN ANGLE SKSKDKS-
Their mooshiness is so cute. I love the way she's always red whenever Baekhyun kisses her🤗.
Chapter 16: They finally kissed!!!! SHE ADMITTED THAT SHE'S ALREADY IN LOVE WITH HIM-😻 He might also confess later but oh godddd the kiss was so pleasant...😩. The nobles are so jobless, why they are always gossiping about her?! ughh & lady Yang is countiously getting herself embarrassed. That is annoying asf. Looks like Soomi & Lisa's friendship is really sailing!
Chapter 15: The hug was so comforting. THEY HUGGED EACH OTHER THE WHOLE NIGHT! oh my hearttt is exploding 💓🙈 They are perfect for each other.