Chapter 3: The flower that lost its freedom

A gentle wind sways willows leaves on long slim branches making calming almost musical noise. Twenty fifth King of Joseon, King Cheoljong, also known by his given name Wonbeom, is enjoying his walk by the gardens and big green fields that are a part of the palace. His mood is up today because he’s going to meet his beloved future wife. Correction, second wife. But in his heart, she’s one and only. The gardens are full of various beautiful flowers and blooming trees but none of them is exactly what Wonbeom is looking for.

Disappointed that he couldn’t find something that would show the best, his devotion and represent him as a man in love, he leaves the gardens empty handed. His sight falls on green fields and the willow tree that he passed while heading to the gardens. Wonbeom stops to listen to the wind playing with the crown of a tree, completely fascinated by the sound and the motion. And maybe as gratitude for appreciating nature’s creative work, Wonbeom sees wild daisies growing by the side.

This is perfect, a simple beautiful flower, the one that a woodcutter could give to a woman he likes. After all his beloved knew him before he was the King; his beloved is a simple and gracious woman. The bright pink daisy that grows freely among the grass, is beautiful in its vivid colors and unseen by other people because it’s not part of a big and fancy garden.

Wonbeom leaves the road, going on the grass to find a flower to pick. They all differ a bit in colors and he finds it hard to decide which one he likes the best. He ignores the head eunuchs grumbles about the sun ruining the King’s fair skin with a tan, trying to make a shadow with an umbrella. Probably he remembers the times when Wonbeom entered the palace and how everyone whispered behind his back about his tanned skin. Wonbeom couldn’t help it, he was working as a woodcutter and water carrier for so long he couldn’t possibly escape the tan.

He finally chooses the flower and bends down to pick it. And in this exact moment, he hears the greetings from court maids. Wonbeom straightens, with a flower in his hand, to look who catches him in this unking-worthy activity. In front of him is Kim Soyong, Destined Highness, his future wife.

Clarification, his future first wife he has never chosen for himself.

“Your Majesty,” she elegantly bows her head to greet him.

Soyong is in a dark magenta jeogori1Jeogori – is an upper garment. Also could be named dangui. with a light plum chima2Chima – a skirt. that would look perfectly well with a flower he just packed. Wonbeom chases away this dangerous thought. The flower is for his very special someone, it’s not for a woman from the enemy’s family.

“Ah, Destined Highness, what brings you here?” Wonbeom comebacks to the trope.

“I was passing by the gardens on my walk to the pavilion by the lake,” she explains. He now sees the book she presses against her with one hand and the young maid behind her carries a gayageum3Gayageum or kayagum is a traditional Korean plucked zither with 12 strings, though some more recent variants have 18, 21 or 25 strings. It is probably the best known traditional Korean musical instrument..

“Seems you have a lot of plans,” Wonbeom notes politely. Their talks are always like that, at best polite, at worst cold.

Soyong’s gaze falls on the flower in his hand: “Your Majesty has plans as well…”

“What do you think?” Wonbeom lifts the flower up to her eye level. He feels like has to always remind her that his heart doesn’t belong to her and all his devotion never going to be aimed at her. At least Wonbeom thinks that it’s her he tries to convince.

“It’s simple yet a very beautiful flower, Your Majesty,” a faint smile appears on her lips. “Once the flower was free, growing out of everyone’s sight because it’s not part of the gardens…” Soyong continues her gloomy observation. “Until Your Majesty picks it. Now it’s going to fade and eventually disappear forever.”

“There’s no need to make a sad story from a simple flower’s life,” Wonbeom snorts. She’s too melancholic lately. He almost misses the days when she was following him around, cheerfully trying to connect with him on anything.

“Please, accept my sincere apologies,” Soyong bows again. Wonbeom smirks, she obeys so easily, probably this is the reason why the Kim clan choose her out of all candidates.

“I forgot that flower belongs to the palace,” Soyong straightens her back and her big sad eyes look right into his. “This flower was never free.”

Wonbeom’s gaze hardens, does she shamelessly mock him? He’s the owner of the palace but nothing here belongs to him. Now she’s saying even that flower can’t be his?

“You make my head ache,” Wonbeom fakes a migraine with a theater worthy act.

“I must apologize again, Your Majesty,” Soyong answers, and even the ghost of a smile is gone now.

They are interrupted by a eunuch that approaches them with a message.

“Destined Highness, your cousin, master Kim Byeong-in came with a visit.”

Orabeoni4Orabeoni – how sister refers to her brother in family.?” Soyong’s face light up and a wide cheerful smile makes her look so beautiful Wonbeom’s heart treacherously skips a bit.

She doesn’t give him any goodbye words, just raises her skirt with her free hand and runs away. One of the older court maids is begging her to slow down, worrying she might get hurt. Wonbeom eyes follow her running figure chased by a number of court maids until she’s lost from his sight.

“Cousin…” Wonbeom whispers, squinting his eyes suspiciously. “She’s so happy to see just a cousin?”

His incidental meeting with Soyong troubles him all his date with Hwa Jin. She, of course, liked the flower and they talked a lot but his thoughts come back to Kim Soyong over and over again. He can’t even say what bothers him more, that she ruined his gift to Hwa Jin with her sorrowful story or that she mocked him… Or that smile and excitement she showed upon heading to meet her cousin.

“Something concerns Your Majesty?” Hwa Jin’s voice brings him back to reality.

“I apologize, Hwa Jin-ah,” he gives her a guilty smile. “I have a lot on my mind lately.”

“You can always share all your troubles with me, Your Majesty,” she smiles widely at him. “I wish to help you in any way I can!”

Wonbeom smiles back at her. Usually, he would appreciate it but this is a matter he can’t share with anyone. He reaches out, taking her hands into his, caressing the knuckles of her fingers. The flower was still in her hands, looking so out of place with her peach colored clothes. He sighs, thinking how it would look better in someone else’s hands.

They walk by the lake, heading to one of many wooden benches, to watch over on water lilies and listen to the birds chirp. But instead, they hear the music echoing across the lake. The melody played on gayageum is fast paced and difficult to perform but Soyong, and he has no doubt it’s her, skillfully pulls the act.

Wonbeom comes closer to the lake, looking at the pavilion where Soyong is playing on her gayageum, and sees the man sitting across her. He squirts his eyes – the cousin.

“Does she bother you?” Hwa Jin follows his gaze and notices Soyong too.

“Yes,” Wonbeom burst out. “She bothers me a lot.”

At a fast pace, Wonbeom walks around the lake, his eyes never leaving the pavilion. Hwa Jin is confused by his behavior but follows him, barely keeping up with his big fast steps. He slows down only on the bridge, where all court maids wait, giving Soyong and her brother some privacy. He gives them a sign, not to announce his arrival. As quiet as he can, Wonbeom comes closer to the pavilion.

Soyong sits on a cushion with a gayageum on her lap, her fingers run over strings as if it’s a dance. She doesn’t notice him, fully focused on the melody and not lifting her eyes from the instrument. Wonbeom shifts his gaze to Soyong’s guest. He doesn’t notice the King as well, as his eyes are closed and a serene expression on his face shows how much he loves what he hears. It’s a tall slim man, his features rather handsome. His hanbok5Hanbok – a general word for clothes. is made from fine silk and a gat hat has expensive beads, favoring the colors of his garment.

“Your Majesty?” The music stops abruptly on a high note as Soyong finally detects him in the pavilion.

Cousin also opens his eyes, daring to give the King an annoying look. Nonetheless, he gets up on his feet to greet him properly.

“Your Majesty the King,” the man says in a low voice, bowing his head. He’s even taller than Wonbeom expected.

“I heard the music across the lake and decided to see who’s playing,” Wonbeom fakes a smile.

“Your Majesty, let me introduce you to my orabeoni, Kim Byeong-in,” Soyong acquaints her cousin, she’s also up on her feet.

The sweet way she says my orabeoni doesn’t escape Wonbeom’s attention and it shifts something inside him. The feeling is quite unfamiliar to Wonbeom; it’s spreading like a fire inside him. He hates that this feeling is brought to him because of her, Soyong, and no one else.

“You have a big family, Destined Highness. But I never saw anyone visit you for so long, besides your father, of course.” Wonbeom straightens his back and crosses his hands behind his back. “Aren’t you an adoptive son of Kim Jwa Geun? I heard a lot about you.”

Wonbeom lies. He heard his name only once before today but never was interested in him. He had to ask Head Eunuch for details and didn’t get anything specific from his useless servant. So aside from the matter that he’s the adoptive son of Kim Jwa Geun who isn’t interested in politics, Wonbeom knows nothing. Also, the fact that his future wife calls him “my orabeoni” with such softness in her voice he never heard from her before. It irritates him. He doesn’t want her to see her orabeoni, smile at him, and be so overly excited to meet him. But Wonbeom doesn’t mind seeing her being cheerful more often. Until today he didn’t even realize he actually misses her smile.

“I am flattered, Your Majesty,” Byeong-in’s smirk gives away his lie.

“Your Majesty, did we disturb you somehow?” Soyong worriedly asks.

Wonbeom follows her gaze and sees Hwa Jin, who is also in the pavilion, completely forgotten by him. Soyong’s eyes stop on the flower in Hwa Jin’s hand and her expression hardens.

“You did,” Wonbeom harshly declares. “We were in the middle of our conversation when we heard the music. I can’t even focus on my words! It was so disturbing that even birds stopped chirping…”

Wonbeom hates himself. Seeing how Soyong lowers her gaze and her unshed tears makes him want to slap himself. But the thing he hates the most is that she makes him feel this regret. She’s the enemy, the core of her clan. She’s the one who was raised to be a Queen, she’s Kim Jwa Geun’s creation. She’s dangerous. And the more Wonbeom feels the more he hates her. The more he snaps at her the more he hates himself. He wasn’t raised to be a monster to lead women to tears but she makes him this kind of man.

“What are you talking about?” Byeong-in’s angry voice interrupts him, dropping all formalities of proper addressing to the King. “Soyong-ah6The ending -aa or -ah is usually used by close people or friends. For example, on the show only Soyong’s father and cousin Byeong-in address to the Queen as «Soyong-aa». is highly praised for her skills and sense of rhythm!”

So… Yong… Ah…

Her cousin just made him furious.

“Really?” the corner Wonbeom’s mouth twitches in anger. “Then why do I have a headache?”

Orabeoni!” Soyong stands between them before Byeong-in could say something worthy of execution. “I was busy with my studies lately and my skills could fade without proper practice.”

Byeong-in looks down at her and whatever he sees in her eyes, calms him down. The connection these two have only bother Wonbeom more. He tries to look neutral as if it doesn’t bother him. But maybe it’s a bit late since he already made an unpleasant scene.

Soyong turns around to face him, her expression is serene and totally emotionless. Even her tears are drying down.

“I apologize, Your Majesty, that my horrible play ruined your day,” she bows her head in surrender.

Right, she’s an obeying puppet again. But Wonbeom can’t be fooled twice a day…

Orabeoni, let’s spare His Majesty’s ears and move to Detached Palace7Detached Palace – is the residence of the future Queen before the wedding. It’s not part of the inner palace.” Soyong addresses her cousin. “His Majesty rarely visits that place…” she adds without looking at the King.

Wonbeom smirks. She never disappoints, openly referring to his neglect of her persona. On the surface, Kim Soyong is a perfect doll to play her role as the Queen. But Wonbeom must admit, she has a character. He has no doubts that they will be arguing a lot once they have to communicate more after the wedding. Strangely, he’s looking for it.

Wonbeom follows with a glance as Kim’s cousins cross the bridge, talking sweetly and smiling at each other. He now understands how many blanks in his knowledge about his future Queen.

And even if her cousin isn’t a threat to him as an apolitical member of the Kim clan, he still must find out more about him. Wonbeom feels like the three of them will meet again like that and it will be as tense as it was today.

Author’s notes

Honestly, I wanted to write it more cheering with jealous CJ but since it’s SY’s depression era it turns out like that. When I re-read it, I got lake flashbacks vibes from this story, especially the part of the conversation about the flower. But maybe it’s just me.

It’s not how I usually write them since I mostly write them post finale or when their relationships progressed and they changed a lot. Or maybe this story is just flat and not melancholic as I think XD

CJ is in his jerk era, so sorry to write him victim blaming Soyong for his dick moves. The next two one-shots will be more humorous and fluffy.

  • 1
    Jeogori – is an upper garment. Also could be named dangui.
  • 2
    Chima – a skirt.
  • 3
    Gayageum or kayagum is a traditional Korean plucked zither with 12 strings, though some more recent variants have 18, 21 or 25 strings. It is probably the best known traditional Korean musical instrument.
  • 4
    Orabeoni – how sister refers to her brother in family.
  • 5
    Hanbok – a general word for clothes.
  • 6
    The ending -aa or -ah is usually used by close people or friends. For example, on the show only Soyong’s father and cousin Byeong-in address to the Queen as «Soyong-aa».
  • 7
    Detached Palace – is the residence of the future Queen before the wedding. It’s not part of the inner palace.

2 thoughts on “Chapter 3: The flower that lost its freedom

  1. orladark December 22, 2022 / 8:41 pm

    Freyja_Lawliet on Chapter 3Tue 25 Jan 2022 08:06PM EST
    BI’s presence at the beginning of MQ really made me grateful. think the queen is not alone, there are other people who support and love her when her husband hates her and wants to kill her, when her family only considers her a farm animal.
    It’s a shame BI had such a tragic ending but it made me quite like BI. at least, he is a man who always finds and adores soyong even though it is no longer pure because it becomes an obsession. but I understand why BI did that… BI is a kid who was sold and treated with love by SY (SY is everything for BI) and BI was raised by the most powerful and cruel man in Joseon.
    thanks for this chap.
    ah I also like CJ’s discomfort here 😂

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    OrlaDark on Chapter 3Wed 26 Jan 2022 04:25AM EST
    I love/hate BI. Love for being there for SY, hate for not listening her and not understanding her & her changes. But I believe he should’ve survived and move on 😭
    CJ “I don’t like you but how dare you to smile to someone else” 😆

    Thank you for reading ❤

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    Ukhoehong on Chapter 3Wed 26 Jan 2022 12:58AM EST
    As petty as jerk CJ is, I hope he will get to see more happy SY without him, and unhappy SY with him.
    Can’t wait for the fluff coming up in the next updates.
    Oh, btw, this unbeta chapter is very good written. You improve a lot 😊

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    OrlaDark on Chapter 3Wed 26 Jan 2022 04:27AM EST
    Haha, yes, and burning with jealousy 🤣

    Thank you 😘❤

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    Cheoljongieee on Chapter 3Wed 26 Jan 2022 09:43AM EST
    Even in this fanfic, pre-drowning lake accident CJ’s is such a jerk it makes me want to vomit.

    He really doesnt deserve SY.

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    OrlaDark on Chapter 3Wed 26 Jan 2022 11:26AM EST
    How child SY knows not to judge WB by his parents but adult WB can’t??? His only excuse is that he suffered personally because of her clan but he’s low-key acts like she did it herself. He judged her before she could do something or choose between him and her family.
    Ugh, I agree with you, CJ doesn’t deserve our best girl and he knows that. Thank you for reading and commenting! <3

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