I've been hesitating to write anything here until I finished season three and had an opportunity to learn more about Yubel and their relationship to Jaden. Even though I knew that I would be heavily invested in their relationship - even before I started the show - I never knew exactly what it would mean to me or how it would be presented in canon. I still don't exactly know how to describe it, but I have lots of thoughts about them, and I think their relationship is beautiful even when viewed through many different lenses.

*note - there are some complexities in the lore that i don't quite know how to parse yet, so for simplicity's sake:

- I use he/him pronouns for Yubel as a human, and she/they pronouns for Yubel after their transformation
- I'll refer to Jaden's past life as Haou, and use 'The Supreme King' when I'm talking about his golden-eyed version in the present

I think the reason that I don't know how to describe their relationship is because I can see it in so many ways. I think it's definitely romantic in nature, but that word seems too light. It's fate; they were fated to be together. Yubel pledged his life to Haou, and gave up his humanity for him, and in return Haou pledged to love him for the rest of eternity. They made a promise to each other that would, on paper, allow their love to last until the end of time.

The issue, then, is that Yubel lived every single day with this promise in mind, well past Haou's natural life. And then they were left alone (for an undisclosed amount of time, but one that in my mind, was quite a long time) with nothing but this promise to sustain themselves. A promise that they would protect Haou, and Haou would love them, forever. And so Yubel waited for Haou's next life, so that they could continue where they left off.

But Yubel didn't get Haou, their childhood love. They got Jaden. And they weren't even there to meet him, to talk to him, to hold him. Jaden was a stranger, a child who knew Yubel as nothing more than a made-up character in his favorite game. That isn't to say that Jaden didn't care about Yubel. The show makes it clear that Jaden could feel something of their past relationship, because he is adamant about treating Yubel as his real friend, and he cares for her well being when she hurts the people around him. Instead of getting mad at Yubel for hurting people, he wants her to get the help she needs so she can be a kind and pure hero.

Jaden understands instinctually that Yubel isn't acting out of malice, but rather that she doesn't understand what is and isn't a danger to Jaden; and also that she is (understandably) frustrated by her inability to be with him physically. Yubel has never even been able to look at Jaden until she possesses Martin in the third season; they even say this explicitly, with awe in their voice, getting to see him eye-to eye.

I think it's also important to note that Yubel made his promise when he was still a child. I don't think he knew the extent of what was going to happen to him. We only get the briefest of glimpses into this past life, where Haou's father tells Yubel what the risk is and Yubel so bravely accepts, as long as he can protect Haou and keep him safe. But can we really expect that this authority figure telling a young boy 'you'll become a scary dragon, and people won't recognize you' is adequate preparation for his entire body being surgically altered, and very likely cursed? Changing the entire course of his life? Making him outlive his loved ones? Making him spend years alone as a, for lack of a better word, monster?

So, Yubel, no matter how long they have been alive, is really coming at this entire issue from a child's perspective. They give up their human body for the one they love. It's hard, beyond hard, but they want Haou to be safe. And maybe they do keep him safe. But Haou is a human, and humans die. And so Yubel is left alone. And when they finally meet their love again, they are trapped in a flat little piece of paper in the hands of some stranger, unable to even talk to him. They have to lash out to get his attention. But this stranger - this boy named Jaden - still cares about them. And they have hope, that if they can just escape and be with him, they can unlock the Supreme King's soul and see Haou again, and everything will be okay.

And then this boy's parents take Yubel away from him. Worse - they take Jaden away, they take Haou away. Yubel is losing him again. And when Yubel is sent away, burning and screaming and crying for Jaden to save them, he does nothing. He lets it happen. And then Yubel spends the next ten years trying to find him, trying to see him again, to ask him why he didn't do anything. And Jaden doesn't even remember them. This is more than not having Haou's memories. Jaden doesn't even remember their games together, the time that they, truly, the two of them, spent together. And now Jaden and this new boy, this boy that looks so much like Yubel's old body that it hurts, are standing next to each other. Touching, smiling at each other. It's the last straw. All this twisted logic and misunderstanding of what love should be has been building inside their heart for years - but seeing Johan is the very last straw, and Yubel finally can't take any more.

Yubel's actions in the third season are horrible, and unforgivable, but heartbreakingly understandable when you think about this logic they have been internalizing their entire life. "I love Haou, so I get hurt for his sake. I get hurt for Haou because I love him. Haou is Jaden now, and Jaden hurt me. He hurt me a lot. Haou loves me, Jaden loves me. Jaden hurt me because he loves me. I have to hurt Jaden so he knows I love him. I want to hurt Jaden, I want Jaden to hurt me, because then I can prove we're still in love."

We're never really going to know Haou's place in this story, but I think it's fair to say that Yubel suffered in this situation more than he ever did. Yubel has been a protector and a sufferer. He gave up absolutely everything and got nothing in return. And so Jaden's defining moment at the end of their duel is to put an end to this suffering. Just as Yubel gave up his life and his body to Haou, Jaden gives up his life and body to Yubel. But it's more than that. Nobody is 'giving up' anything here; nobody is suffering, nobody is losing. Jaden is finally filling that emptiness in Yubel's heart, giving them the thing that they have always wanted: they will be together until they die. Yubel won't have to lose sight of him ever again, to feel that emptiness when Jaden passes away before they do. They're sharing the same body, the same soul. They have achieved a bond that nobody else could ever hope to achieve. Yubel's promise is fulfilled. Safe and secure inside Jaden's body and the Supreme King's soul, they can protect him and love him for the rest of the life they're going to live together.