Kim Soyong has always been inconsistent, saying and doing whatever she puts her mind to. But one thing is constant: she runs away after intimacy.
It is always this way: Wonbeom takes a step forward and she takes two steps back. Maybe it is his punishment for the way things were in their past, when no matter how hard Soyong tried to get along with him, he always turned his back on her.
He has grown used to it with time but feels disappointed nonetheless. Last night was wonderful in so many ways. It was not only about the intimacy that they both enjoyed, but also about how they opened up about things they had not spoken about before, and how they shared laughs together.
Wonbeom recalls how she giggled, covering her mouth with her hand, calling him stupid for something he had said. He had not seen her be so genuinely cheerful for so long he almost forgot she could be so carefree.
Wonbeom wants to discover everything about her, all the little things he couldn’t possibly notice from a distance. For Wonbeom, Soyong is his favorite mystery, one he loves to unravel.
Nothing is too simple with her. Nothing about her is completely understandable and she will always spark his curiosity.
But he would rather make all his discoveries with her being present. This game of hide-and-seek gets exhausting and demoralizing when he just wants to be by her side.
Alas, Soyong never gets tired from turning him down.
Wonbeom rises up from his bedding, stretching his arms and rolling his shoulders. He massages his neck a little before working on finding his clothes that have been strewn around the room after last night’s activities. After putting on his pants, he finds his upper garment has dried up in wrinkles after getting soaked under the rain last night, and he now tries to smooth it out. It seems pointless so Wonbeom hopes no one notices until he changes into more suitable clothes later.
He is tying a strap around his waist when he hears a noise outside. The door cracks open and he sees a bare foot slip inside and open the door wide. Soyong comes into full display, her hands busy with a small round table with a pot balanced on top. She’s in her night garment that has also dried up in wrinkles, though it’s more noticeable on her lighter colored clothes. Her hair is in a simple tail lying on her shoulder, secured with a red ribbon embroidered with flowers. The memory of how he set her hair free and held that very ribbon in his hand while they made love last night flashes before his eyes.
Wonbeom shakes his head, coming back to the present, and chuckles seeing her so adorably focused on her task to enter the room without dropping anything from her hands.
“Are you up already?” Her eyes look up from the table and she takes him in. “I hope you didn’t wait too long…”
I waited for a year… This morning is nothing , Wonbeom thinks.
“You are here,” he says softly. He lets out a small, nervous laugh in disbelief that she has indeed come back.
“Where else would I be?” She’s smiling too, taking careful steps to the center of the room. Wonbeom finally comes to the rescue and helps her with the table, catching it between them.
“You are here…” he repeats, looking into her eyes longingly. She blinks, evidently puzzled as to why he keeps repeating himself.
“Have I hurt you so much that you so easily believe I would run away from you?” she asks, a look of sadness overtaking her eyes. She lowers her gaze for a moment, but when she looks up at him again he sees only determination. “I never break my promises, Wonbeom-ah. As long as you want me by your side, I’ll be there. As your wife and as your biggest anti-fan, if that’s the word you prefer more.”
“Shouldn’t I say that first, Soyong-ah?” he teases her with a happy chuckle. “No matter what, I will love you and support you.”
“It doesn’t matter who says it first, as long as you mean it, Wonbeom-ah,” she laughs in return, before gesturing towards the floor. “Maybe we should finally sit. It’s getting uncomfortable…”
They are still holding the table between them and the scent from the pot is getting stronger. Wonbeom helps to put the table on the floor and they sit shoulder to shoulder. The sudden change in behavior dazes him, albeit in a very good way. He had forgotten how easygoing their relationship could be before their year of confusion and distancing.
“Is it ramyeon?” he guesses, remembering it’s her favorite dish and how she once brought it to his chambers, bewildering him to no end with her ramblings.
“We may do everything out of order, but I would love to do it anyway,” Soyong states, straightening her back and changing her voice to a formal one.
Soyong the teacher is back to give him another lesson, this time about the meaning of the food. Is it really time to solve the mystery of ramyeon?
Soyong removes the pot’s lid and the spicy scent becomes more potent. She takes her chopsticks to mix the noodles before continuing:
“It’s a very significant dish in the future. People love it very much…” She takes a bit of noodles with her chopsticks, using the lid to catch any spills, and offers it to him.
Wonbeom is puzzled by her words again: what exactly did they do out of order? Why is the ramyeon so important to people in the future? It looked very important before, so important she couldn’t decide whether to taste it or not. But guessing she will explain further, he quietly accepts the offered food. He covers her fingers on the chopsticks with his own hand to steady her before he tastes it. The noodles are spicy, but not too much. A bit firm, but he remembers it does not taste good when it’s soggy.
“In the future, ramyeon is a widely available dish. Instead of enlisting a personal cook as I do,” she laughs, now taking her own chopsticks to slurp up the noodles loudly “…the common people have an easier way to cook it. But when someone is ready to share ramyeon with another – it is true love,” she says evenly after swallowing another portion of noodles.
Wonbeom stops eating and stares at her, surprised by her sudden confession. She looks back at him with a reassuring smile.
“It’s like when you are ready to share something precious to you?” he guesses, taking another sip of the broth.
“Yes. But it’s more than that…” Soyong stops eating and looks at him with a mischievous glint in her eyes. “If someone invites you for ramyeon, it means fuck me.”
Wonbeom nearly chokes on the noodles at the sudden reveal of the word’s ulterior meaning. Did she wait for him to have a full mouth to get this reaction?
“I guess you already know what fuck means.” She gently pats his back with a coy smile.
After managing to swallow everything down, he answers, “I figured out for sure last night.” He pounds his fist against his chest, willing the noodles to go down smoothly.
He has heard her using this word as some kind of curse when she’s angry, so he had reasoned it must be something very threatening. But last night, she used it in the midst of pleasure, and he really doubts she was cursing him considering her reaction to the whole act. He guesses the word can be used both ways.
“How long have you wanted to share it with me?” he asks, wishing they had talked about it sooner. The mutual longing was so strong, and yet her stubbornness was stronger.
“At first, I never wanted to share, thinking it’s only for me,” she admits. “But time passed by and I grew lonelier. And every time I ate ramyeon, my thoughts were drawn to you. I chose to close up to protect myself from being hurt, but it’s such a lonely path even with…”
“Even with so many people around us,” Wonbeom continues, acutely familiar with the feeling.
When he is with his friends or with his supporters, or even with his son, he still feels so lonely. Because someone very important has been missing in his life, and this feeling of incompleteness has made his heart restless.
Wonbeom’s hand finds its way to her waist, and as it slides to her back, he leads her to move to sit on his lap. She doesn’t resist and shifts to sit comfortably on his thighs. Wonbeom hugs her tightly, his head resting on her chest, listening to her steady heartbeat. She hugs him back and her hand starts caressing the back of his head. Wonbeom closes his eyes in this rare blissful moment of utter contentment.
“How can I make you stop doubting? I want you to be happy…” he whispers, tightening his grip on her, thinking he can’t ever let go of her. But he wants her to be sure of him and trust him completely with her heart, mind, and body. “What should I do?”
“I honestly don’t know, Wonbeom-ah.” Soyong’s voice cracks a bit. “The person I was back then was so bold and free, so quick-minded and charming. She had a spark that set a fire in the hearts of the people around her. I understand why people were so bewitched by her.” She describes her past self so passionately; it’s someone she admires. “Compared to her I am boring and tame.” Soyong moves back a bit, her hands cupping his face, and she looks down at him, straight into his eyes before she says, “But I do not wish to be anyone else but the person I am now.”
Wonbeom perfectly understands what it means to lose yourself and how scary it could be. He was a puppet King for two years, pretending to be someone he wasn’t, and he hated every second of it. But once he started hiding his true self, it was very hard for him to open up. Eventually it led him to hide his true thoughts, even from the people he trusts.
Once he realized he had feelings for an enemy, he couldn’t be himself with his brother or best friend anymore. Because they would never understand how his heart could beat faster in the sight of a woman from the family who destroyed their lives. But Soyong still saw him through the layers of pretense, understanding only her name was stopping him. He dropped his mask around her after she confronted him, showing how weak he was by choosing a cowardly path.
Through their hardships he found a way to become who he truly wanted to be, as a King and as a person. His revenge became secondary and his people became a priority. He was reborn as a King thanks to a very strange time-traveling friend and his very loving and supportive wife.
Even though Wonbeom’s alter ego was rather despicable, he still understands why she doesn’t want to lose herself, even to her own past self who she admires.
“You express yourself differently, Kim Soyong, but nonetheless, you are as much of an amazing person as what you just described,” he says, his lips spreading in a warm smile. How can she not see it?
She caresses his cheeks and peers into his eyes inquisitively, looking so adorably perplexed in her disbelief.
“Are you sure?” Her eyes now glisten with unshed tears.
“I would never lie to you about something so important to you,” he assures her.
Wonbeom reaches up to her, his lips brushing lightly against hers. He feels Soyong’s hands travel to his shoulders and then slide to his back as she nestles closer to him. Her lips move against his more demandingly and he responds with equal fervor. Wonbeom recognizes a familiar tight feeling in his lower abdomen, a desire he must satisfy as soon as possible. His hands wander along her back to her hips, while his tongue demands access to her wonderful mouth. With a low moan Wonbeom loves to hear so much, she deepens the kiss, her hands desperately clutching onto his shoulders, drawing him even closer to her.
But as the one who usually initiates more passionate activities, Soyong is also the one who brings them to a halt. Wonbeom quickly gets carried away, forgetting about anything and everyone, but Soyong always remembers. She gently pushes him back and their lips part, leaving them both out of breath.
“We have to stop for now. Today is so important…” Soyong murmurs, trying to catch her breath.
“Didn’t you say we do everything out of order?” he asks, panting. “We must follow the tradition with ramyeon…” He tries to catch her lips for another kiss, but she nimbly escapes him.
“Because of you it became soggy again,” she whines. “You have no respect for this sacred dish!” she jokingly scolds him.
He laughs in a low voice and soon she laughs back. They are so caught up in their amusement that they almost miss the sound of knocks and voices behind the door.
“Are you awake, Your Majesty?” Head Eunuch’s voice is heard at last.
“How did you guess?” Wonbeom asks, laughing.
“Your Majesty requested I wake you up early,” Head Eunuch reminds him. “Your Majesty said you must go to the market before visiting Director Hong.”
“Aish,” Wonbeom swears. “I forgot about it!”
“I thought we were going to Hong’s place together.” Soyong looks at him, eyes wide in confusion. “Did something change?”
“You don’t have to worry, Soyong-ah. I just need to do something.” He avoids specifying what exactly, since he wishes for it to be a surprise. “But you will find out soon. I promise.”
“Alright,” she concedes. “I suppose the ramyeon tradition is broken again…” she pouts, looking at the unfinished dish.
Soyong leaves him to get ready, blowing him an air kiss before glaring at the Head Eunuch. Wonbeom can’t help but laugh at how his poor servant starts shaking. After the Grand Queen Dowager’s banishment, he had found a new person to be scared of as Soyong can be very threatening when she wants.
When Wonbeom meets her again, she’s dressed as a servant, with a long braid and modest clothes. Even though it’s a simple look, it cannot hide her radiating beauty. Wonbeom manages to steal another kiss before they go their separate ways: Soyong heads straight to Hong’s office in the outer palace to practice more with the locks, while Wonbeom plans to visit a certain expert in Hanyang.
Wonbeom wears a nobleman’s hanbok1Hanbok – a general word for clothes. and a gat2Gat – a transparent hat with wide fields. as he walks through the streets of Hanyang with a bright smile and his hands locked behind his back. He passes by a variety of people, from commoners to noblemen, authorities to sellers.
Wonbeom finds his destination fairly quickly, and to his delight, the order is ready despite the fact he made it only yesterday, right before heading to the royal villa.
He walks back through the city feeling so happy that he can’t possibly hide it. He’s about to risk his life in a fight for his family and his country, but he can’t help but smile widely. The joy in his heart can’t be dampened even by a threat to his life. Despite the lack of sleep, he’s more than ready to fight with the whole world if necessary.
“Your Majesty?” A quiet voice calls him and he turns around to face none other than Lady Park Yul Mee in her expensive garments, head covered by her jangot3Jangot – the clothes piece to cover the head. On the show, SY used one when she and the King had a day out in Hanyang. And on the episode where she came to confront him about plotting an assassination attempt on her dad, she used that as a robe instead of covering her head.. “What a wonderful surprise to see Your Majesty here!”
She steps closer to him with a bright smile. Wonbeom freezes, unsure how to react. Their last conversation was not particularly pleasant as he had rejected her despite her promises to win him over. Since then, he has found out about her brother’s treason and Hwa Jin also voiced her concerns about Yul Mee’s odd behavior.
He decides to be polite. After all, even his rejection was as delicate as he could word it.
“Lady Yul Mee, I see you are out of your wonderful home for a stroll,” he says evenly, forcing himself into a polite smile. “Or perhaps you are looking for something to buy?”
“Yes, and I suppose Your Majesty is here for the same reason?” she asks, curiously peering at the bundle in his left hand.
“Ah, yes, I am. But please, as I do not wish to be recognized, do not my usual title,” he asks her.
They start walking side by side, Yul Mee glancing in his direction from time to time. But they have so little in common that they have nothing to talk about, and all her awkward attempts at conversation quickly fail.
She stops by one of the counters selling various trinkets for hair ornaments. Wonbeom notices a red daenggi4Daenggi – the red ribbon with embroidery for the braid. Soyong used one to tie Cheoljong’s injury in the Bamboo forest episode with their first meeting. and his thoughts travel back to his Queen and the night they shared together. And back to the day when they first met as adults and she confidently tied her red daenggi around his upper arm. He chuckles at his memory of how she suddenly tied it so tightly that he yelped out loud, losing his calm and brave face.
“You seem lost in thought. May I ask what you are thinking about when you see this?” Yul Mee takes the daenggi into her hand.
“It’s nothing… Just memories about my first meeting with my wife.” Wonbeom answers her absentmindedly, gesturing with a shake of his hand. “It must be in the basket with her gold binyeo5Binyeo is a thick pin used to get married women’s hair in a hairdo.…”
Wonbeom mutters to himself, continuing his trip down memory lane. It was more than a year ago, but it feels like it happened in another lifetime.
“Her binyeo?” Yul Mee forces him back to the present. She stares back at him, blinking slowly, evidently confused by his ramblings.
“Ah, it is an interesting story… We had a fight in the early days of our marriage and her binyeo ended up in my possession.”
He doesn’t specify that this binyeo was pointed to his neck; the Queen had even left a scratch on his skin when she almost passed out with the hairpiece at his throat. He had left her chambers in so much anger, hating to hear the painful truth about himself, that he only noticed he was still carrying her binyeo when he finally stood alone in his dark and empty study.
“I must return it as I did with the other one…” he continues pondering out loud, once again forgetting about Yul Mee.
“There were more?” Yul Mee’s voice starts sounding annoyed, and he gives her an offended look. She had asked about it first and now she doesn’t want to hear his response?
“Yes, I had another binyeo from my wife,” he answers dryly. “We share a very long and complicated history.”
“That sounds like an interesting story…” Yul Mee starts, changing her tactic. Wonbeom wonders if she has any limits for herself — discussing the King’s legal wife as a flirtation tactic seems quite desperate.
“My apologies, Lady Yul Mee, but those stories are only for me and my wife,” Wonbeom cuts her off. “Now, I must go. There are people waiting for me.”
He doesn’t give her a chance to respond and walks away in a hurry. She calls out after him, but he hides in an empty alley where she hesitates to follow him.
Right, he thinks, the robbers could attack her. Wonbeom knows how to handle them, but luckily there is no trouble on his way to Hong’s office.
In the inner yard wait his men, discussing the upcoming mission. Once noticing him, they greet him in chorus and he acknowledges them back. He sneaks into the office to change, and inside he finds Hong and Gyeong-eung sitting at the table wearing strange expressions on their faces. He follows their gaze and sees Soyong and Hwa Jin chatting and laughing away at the other side of the long table.
“What’s wrong?” Wonbeom crouches down so that he is eye level with his brother and best friend. They both startle at his sudden voice.
“Ya, you startled me!” Hong shouts, placing his hand on his chest to calm his racing heart.
“It’s not my fault you are so easily frightened,” Wonbeom laughs. “So what’s wrong?”
“It’s nothing…” Gyeong-eung starts, but Hong interrupts him:
“They are so scary! They are getting so excited about their plan to deceive that poor Park Yul Mee girl!”
Hong looks spooked as he gestures his head in Soyong and Hwa Jin’s direction. Gyeong- eung tries to get him to stop, pointedly moving his eyebrows in an attempt to spare his friend from their wives’ wrath, but Hong doesn’t take the hint.
“They used to hate each other, and now what? They are best friends because they dislike the same person?”
“And why exactly can’t we be friends?” Soyong asks in a dry tone. Hong closes his eyes, realizing how much he has screwed up.
“We have known each other all our lives as neighbors,” Hwa Jin continues, unamused. “Besides, we were friends before becoming enemies…” Soyong adds.
“And this is why you are not married.” Gyeong-eung shakes his head and Wonbeom pats his friend’s shoulder.
“Did you finish all your business in the city?” Soyong asks curiously, turning her attention to Wonbeom.
“I did,” he answers. “Interestingly, I met Park Yul Mee at the market. We even chat together a bit…”
“You what?” Soyong raises her voice suddenly.
“There is nothing to worry about, my Queen. Even calling it a conversation is an exaggeration, honestly,” Wonbeom brushes it off with a wide smile. But Soyong doesn’t seem amused, and a deep frown appears on her face. “Are you jealous, my Queen?”
Wonbeom didn’t think his day could get even better, but Soyong’s jealousy makes his face break into a foolish grin.
“I am not,” she answers harshly. His smile quickly fades once he sees she really means it. “You might have just ruined our excuse to visit Yul Mee!” she bursts out angrily.
Wonbeom sees that even Hwa Jin is shaking her head in disappointment. But what did he do wrong? He thought Soyong would be happy to know he didn’t fall for Yul Mee’s charms. It was the opposite actually: he couldn’t stop mentioning her or remembering their story, and that only irritated Yul Mee. He had thought they could laugh at the whole situation together, but seeing Soyong’s reaction, he concludes it’s best not to mention it at the moment.
“Your Highness, there is still a chance it will work. I don’t think she was ever interested in His Majesty in the first place.” Hwa Jin tries to smooth over the situation by hurting his pride, no less.
Wonbeom opens his mouth to object, feeling offended by the lack of interest from a woman he himself doesn’t hold any interest in.
“Do you think she still wants to continue her shenanigans after experiencing his coldness? She might give up on the idea and send us away!” Soyong whines, pouting disappointedly.
“I wasn’t that cold!” he argues but is thoroughly ignored as Soyong and Hwa Jin continue their back-and-forth.
“If she doesn’t want to continue with her plan perhaps you two could bond over hating him?” Soyong suggests, her face lighting up with the new idea.
Was she serious just now? Hating him? Wonbeom scoffs at the outrageous suggestion, looking at his brother and Hong for help but finding them both silently shaking from laughter.
“That’s a wonderful idea, Your Highness. It could take hours to talk that out,” Hwa Jin happily agrees.
Frustrated, Wonbeom goes to the spare room to change into his blue and gold cheolik6Cheolik – fighting garment. At the show, Cheoljong usually wore blue and gold one.. He will use his secret forces, but his enemies must know it’s the King they are fighting with.
He grumbles to himself, mimicking Soyong and Hwa Jin’s voices and thinking up excuses to defend himself.
Wonbeom hears the door opening and quiet footsteps entering the room, but doesn’t turn around: he knows exactly who it is.
“Did you come to mock me a bit more, my Queen?” he asks, continuing to fix the bracer on his right hand. He hears her step closer to him and then her hands appear on his waist. They slide to his abdomen and cross in a tight lock as she hugs him from behind, leaning into his back with her whole body.
“Your Majesty, are you really that upset?” Soyong whispers, resting her cheek between his shoulder blades.
“It wasn’t a very pleasant conversation you two had,” he sulks.
“But we do not hate you! We just want to save the mission in case Yul Mee’s feelings are hurt,” she explains.
“Because I am so terrible?”
“Sometimes you make mistakes with women,” she laughs. “It doesn’t mean you are terrible. And we don’t know exactly how she reacted to whatever you said. To be honest, it’s not about you at all. Hwa Jin and I are simply excited to encounter an old foe on this mission.”
Her grip on him loosens a bit, allowing him to turn around in her embrace. Wonbeom locks his hands around her lower back, bringing her closer to him. She smiles as she looks up at him and hugs him back.
“You are so vindictive, my Queen,” he teases her, forgetting his grievances completely. “Should I be scared as well?”
“Your Majesty has nothing to worry about.” Soyong goes on her tiptoes to brush her lips against his. “But I wouldn’t tempt me if I were you,” she teases, her eyes twinkling mischievously.
“Then let me appease you with something special…”
Wonbeom takes the package he picked up in the city and leads her to a bench. She follows him silently, looking intrigued and not taking her eyes off the present.
“What is it?” she asks eagerly.
“Give me your hand.” Wonbeom offers his own hand and she slides her palm into his. He draws her hand closer to him and pulls up her sleeve, gently sliding it up her wrist. Soyong’s breath catches in her throat as he caresses the soft skin of her inner forearm. “If I had known you would get flustered so easily, I would have given you this to change your mind sooner,” he teases after seeing her cheeks turn pink.
In the package are knives and bracers made from a supple leather. Wonbeom takes one bracer and carefully ties it around her wrist, making sure it’s not too tight nor too loose. He takes one of the small, sharp knives and tucks it into the pocket of the bracer, on the inner part of the wrist. He then turns her hand to reveal a hibiscus7Hibiscus is a national South Korean flower. flower embroidered into the leather.
“My Queen, I admire your desire to learn how to protect yourself on your own. But I am worried about your safety when you carry around knives without a proper place to conceal them,” Wonbeom says, lifting his gaze from her hand to see if she likes his present. “So please accept this gift.”
Soyong is smiling widely as she takes a closer look at her hand and traces the flower pattern with her fingertips.
“This is perfect, Wonbeom-ah,” she bursts out, looking at him excitedly. “Thank you!”
“Finally I gave you a flower you want to accept,” he laughs, pleased to see her enjoy his present so much. “There’s another one, so you can wear it on both arms…”
She cuts off his ramblings, moving forward and kissing him. Immediately, Wonbeom’s hand finds its way to her small waist and slides her closer to him. She laughs against his lips, snuggling into his embrace. They part to look into each other’s eyes, and they are close enough that he can properly admire the beautiful russet color of her eyes. In the distance, many could think she is cold because of her seemingly dark eyes, but if they look close enough they will see the warmth and kindness she radiates.
Soyong moves in for another kiss, slow and sweet, her lips feeling indescribably soft against his. His hand moves from her waist back up to her shoulder as he deepens the kiss. Wonbeom’s tongue gently brushes her lips, asking for access, and she parts them right away. On instinct, as if they can read each other’s minds, they move their heads to change angles.
In the distance, Wonbeom hears a door open, followed by a loud, offended sigh.
“Ya, you too?” Hong’s irritated voice is heard. “Why is everyone around here kissing? This is not that kind of place!” Hong shuts the door loudly in his wake.
But neither Wonbeom nor Soyong find the will to stop what they are doing.
KJH in one of the interviews said: “I hope Cheoljong and Soyong can get along and have a good relationship because they are both lonely even with people around them.”
Thao asked for Yul Mee to see Cheoljong’s obsession with Soyong so I decided that mentioning his little collection of her belongings is the best way. If they weren’t together and so in love, it would be so creepy XD
And I didn’t plan SY and HJ roasting CJ in this chapter, it kinda happened lol
Hibiscus is a national South Korean flower.
- 1Hanbok – a general word for clothes.
- 2Gat – a transparent hat with wide fields.
- 3Jangot – the clothes piece to cover the head. On the show, SY used one when she and the King had a day out in Hanyang. And on the episode where she came to confront him about plotting an assassination attempt on her dad, she used that as a robe instead of covering her head.
- 4Daenggi – the red ribbon with embroidery for the braid. Soyong used one to tie Cheoljong’s injury in the Bamboo forest episode with their first meeting.
- 5Binyeo is a thick pin used to get married women’s hair in a hairdo.
- 6Cheolik – fighting garment. At the show, Cheoljong usually wore blue and gold one.
- 7Hibiscus is a national South Korean flower.