Wonbeom always thought about himself as a patient man. After all, even his plans to avenge his family and take over the throne were thoughtfully plotted for two years.
So even though he can’t catch the moment when his baby kicks in Soyong’s womb, he isn’t upset. It’s just not the time for him to feel it yet.
“I am sorry, Your Majesty,” Soyong murmurs in a sorrowful voice, still pressing his palms against her belly. “The baby was kicking just a moment ago!”
They spent their usual time together in the gazebo by the lake, drinking tea and sharing news. It has become a little tradition of theirs because they are both occupied with the court and country affairs. So they decided to meet at least once a day no matter what.
Wonbeom was on his way down the stairs when Soyong called for him and he almost stumbled while running back to her to feel it. But the baby calmed down by that time.
“Our child is always so calm when you are around,” Soyong shyly blushes, looking down at her belly. “The sound of Your Majesty’s voice perhaps soothing it.”
“It is alright, my Queen,” Wonbeom kisses her cheek. “I will wait however needed.”
It wasn’t alright.
Nothing is alright when Director Hong walks into the King’s study, chatting cheerfully with the head eunuch about how surreal it is to feel an unborn child kicking.
“How did that happen?” Wonbeom bursts out instead of greeting his friend. Dul Il isn’t the Queen’s best friend. Besides, their paths rarely cross as their work matters never interfere with each other.
“Aish, where’s your manners, Wonbeom?” Hong scoffs irritatingly. “I met Kim Hwan while he was heading to meet his cousin. You know, the one you married to…” Hong bubbles the whole story. “And I just came along. The child suddenly started moving and the Queen was kind enough to let us feel it.”
And Wonbeom probably wouldn’t mind this much, after all, it just happened once. Until the next day, when his older brother excitedly shared his story of acquaintance with his future nephew.
Prince Yeongpyeong, of all people! Wonbeom was mostly surprised how Soyong let him touch her belly when he put the blade to her neck in the past!
“How on earth do you two cross paths?” at this point Wonbeom simply whines.
“You know it was raining heavily last night and the trails in the gardens were washed away,” his brother starts from afar. “I was just passing by when I saw the Queen having trouble walking and I offered my help… You know, her belly is quite noticeable…”
I know! Wonbeom wails in his mind, trying really hard not to snap at his older brother. “The baby started kicking and the Queen was kind enough…”
“Yes, yes, the Queen is very kind,” Wonbeom closes his eyes, taking a deep breath in and a long breath out, calming himself.
Wonbeom can’t take this neglect from his unborn child anymore. He cancels everything for today. No conference, no endless scrolls of court affairs, no ministers arguing with each other. Today he’s going to feel his baby’s little kick no matter what!
He tramples into Daejojeon Hall1Daejojeon Hall – Queen of Joseon residence after the wedding. with angry determination but his confidence disappears when he sees the confused face of his beautiful wife. She’s sitting at her lower table while her two faithful maids are sitting in front of her on the floor. Court Lady Choi is busy writing down everything Soyong says, right now she stopped in the middle of painting a hieroglyph. The younger maid, Hong Yeon, was diluting the ink but now is frozen with her mouth open, looking upon the King.
There is an awkward moment of silence when everyone is presented trying to cope with what is happening. Until all of sudden everyone is moving. Hong Yeon and Court Lady Choi jump on their feet to bow low and greet him. Soyong is trying to get up too but she’s slower, her swollen belly prevents her from the faster reaction.
“Please, stop, my Queen!” Wonbeom waves his both hands to prevent her from continuing. “You don’t have to get up and free your seat.”
It’s a rule that the King must take the main seat in the room and the Queen must give away her own big and comfy cushion.
“What brings Your Majesty here?” Soyong makes herself comfortable in her seat again. “Did I catch up on my duties so much I missed the time for our usual meeting?” She gasps, adorably cowering her mouth with both hands.
“I missed you, my Queen,” he softly says with a smile.
It’s not a lie, he always misses her. And he knows the perfect tone to say it to make her melt. Wonbeom needs Soyong in her best mood so she would let him stay for a whole day by her side.
Soyong blushes, shyly lowering her gaze, and her friends chuckle at her reaction. Wonbeom considers it as a win.
“I wish to spend more time with you,” he continues, his voice sweet as honey. “To my disappointment, I can’t focus on my work today so can I stay here for a day?”
Soyong’s eyebrows go up in confusion but his wide smile sells the deal and she nods in agreement. He’s offered the cushion and he sits by the side. Not close enough to disturb and not far away for him to be right in place for his secret plan.
“So, we should continue, Court Lady Choi…” Soyong clears her throat before straightening her back and putting both palms on the table, creating a powerful picture. When she continues her voice is regal and clear: “Next is: everyone in the palace must be paid equally according to their status and regardless of gender…. Double the amount of days available for rest…”
Amazing ideas for improvement come one after another and Wonbeom for a moment forgets why he’s here in the first place. The admiring dreamy look doesn’t leave his face as he watches his wife showing so much care for her subjects’ lives.
“And…” Soyong abruptly stops, wiggling in her seat all of a sudden.
Wonbeom moves fast. He slides on the floor on his knees to be by her side and places both hands on her belly but he feels nothing, again… Wonbeom lets out an audible sigh, pouting in disappointment. Only then does he lift his gaze from Soyong’s belly to her shocked and quite frightened face.
“What’s going on, Your Majesty?” Soyong’s voice is high-pitched still aback by his sudden behavior.
“I thought you needed help…”
He tries to come up with an excuse but as he sees Soyong’s features hardening he understands she doesn’t buy it. She’s raising one brow in doubt, waiting for him to say the truth.
“I thought the baby was kicking and I rushed to feel it.” He gives up, lowering his head in shame. “I apologize for the inconvenience, my Queen.”
He feels how his ears start burning because of his humiliation. Even Court Lady Choi and Hong Yeon give him a pitiful look. This is not how the King must behave but right now he’s just a frustrated father.
“Your Majesty came here for this exact reason?” Soyong sounds so offended that Wonbeom feels even guiltier.
“It just seems like everyone already felt it except for me!” Wonbeom burst out frustratingly. “And I am the father!”
“As I said, a baby is calm when you are around,” she annoyingly explains again. “Because I feel safe and good in your presence…” her words are sweet but she doesn’t sound so nice, rather irritated further and further. “The baby simply reacts to the mother’s feelings…”
As good as it sounds, Wonbeom still feels restless, as if his child doesn’t want to know him. And he would love for Soyong to understand how he feels.
“So with Dul Il and Prince Yeongpyeong earlier…” Wonbeom mumbles.
“One is irritating me and the other still worries me,” Soyong confirms her previous words.
“What about your father? He brags about it every time he visits the palace!” Wonbeom finds the flaw in her explanation and quickly shares it.
“My father visits us every day, it’s getting tiring,” she confesses with a sigh.
Wonbeom frowns, thinking about how he can solve his problem. The sudden idea appears in his mind, his face is bright when he’s looking into Soyong’s eyes. Wonbeom sees how she tenses under his gaze but he cannot be stopped now.
“My Queen! Then we must find the person who irritates you the most and a baby will kick!” He knows it’s a bad idea once he voiced it in such a cheerful manner yet he prefers to be ignorant. “Who is this person?”
“You,” Soyong burst out angrily. “Right now, you are the person who annoys me the most!”
“But why is the baby not kicking then!” Wonbeom whines completely ignoring the fact his wife is so displeased.
The next thing Wonbeom knows is that Soyong pushes his back out of her chambers. He tries to argue and whines and begs but nothing works. Under the gaze of the shocked servants, Soyong kicks him out in a disgraceful manner, sliding the doors shut in front of his face.
“Soyong-ah…” Wonbeom knocks on the doors. “I’ll behave, I promise! You won’t even notice I’m there!”
“Go away!” he hears her harsh loud voice in return.
Wonbeom looks around at the servants in the hallway, they all bow their heads but he sees them smiling nonetheless. He failed in everything today. He wasn’t able to fulfill his plan, he upset his wife and humiliated himself in front of everyone.
The saddest part is that the last thing he wanted was for Soyong to be distressed by his actions. She’s carrying their child and the pregnancy is a challenging task for any woman. He knows Soyong’s struggles and how she tries to hide her true concerns from everyone who thinks pregnancy is the happiest experience in life. He doesn’t fully understand it but he knows because she often uses him as a listener and shares everything that is in her mind.
Frustrated, he comes back to his chambers. Now he can’t even distract himself with work, knowing he won’t be able to focus. He ponders how he can make amends with Soyong. Maybe a love poem will cheer her up? Or a gift?
But after a while, he concludes that the best thing he can give her is silence. At least for today. He will try to apologize tomorrow during breakfast. Lately, she’s been the most pleased when she eats.
To distract himself from sad thoughts, Wonbeom opens his favorite military book. He memorized every line in it but still finds it calming to read the book again.
Later that evening, when he reads his next favorite book, Wonbeom hears the knock. He looks up and his lips spread into a smile when he sees no other but his Queen in her nightgown. She doesn’t look angry anymore, smiling brightly at him.
“Your Majesty didn’t expect me?” She teases him, coming closer and sitting in front of him.
“I was sure I can survive our next encounter only on the next day,” he chuckles, putting his unfinished book on the table.
“Your Majesty must stop villainizing me,” she rolls her eyes. “My hormones play with my mood because I’m pregnant and for no other reason.”
“Hm, I always thought your mood swings have nothing to do with pregnancy,” he jokes and she makes an effort to lean over the table to hit his shoulder with a palm.
“We will see who is right when the pregnancy is over,” she hisses at him, moving her brows threateningly.
“Thank you for coming over, my Queen,” he becomes serious. “It means a lot to me that my immature behavior didn’t lead to a serious fight.”
“I can’t be angry at you for too long,” she softly confesses. “Besides, after thinking about what happened I realized how unfair the whole situation is for you. Everyone experienced it and everyone happily discussed it but you never felt our baby.”
She looks down on her growing belly, hugging it with both hands. “My child, you are upsetting your appa2Appa – informal for father aka daddy.,” she scolds their unborn child, making Wonbeom laugh.
“I guess I can only accept it,” Wonbeom notes melancholically. “We will have many other wonderful experiences once our child is born, right?”
“Our child is missing you when we don’t hear you for a long time,” Soyong assures him, stretching her arm and taking his hand into hers. “We come here tonight because we both love you.”
Wonbeom squeezes her hand, smiling: “Then why don’t you come closer?”
Soyong excitedly gets up on her feet and Wonbeom leads her to sit by his side, never breaking their hold. He gently helps her land on his wide cushion and they immediately find a comfortable position to sit. Wonbeom wraps his hand around Soyong carefully pressing his palm on her belly, and she rests her head on his shoulder. He kisses her forehead and she turns her head to kiss his neck in return.
“Why wouldn’t you read your book aloud, maybe the baby will react to it?” Soyong suggests.
“Didn’t you tell me before that my voice is the reason for my problem?” Wonbeom asks, looking down at her.
“It is but what if the baby gets bored and starts kicking?” she assumes. “We must try various tactics.” She suggests in the most serious voice.
Soyong opens the book Wonbeom read before she came. They collaborate, as Wonbeom holds one side of the book, Soyong holds the other and turns the pages. All that so Wonbeom’s other hand continues to rest on her belly. His calm voice fills the room, reading about military tactics once the army is surrounded. Soyong gives sharp remarks on things she finds irrelevant nowadays and Wonbeom has to defend the book’s author, saying it was written a long time ago and times changed definitely. But some tactics still could be useful if applied thoughtfully.
They reach the second half of the book when Soyong doesn’t turn to the next page even though Wonbeom finished it.
“Soyong-ah, the next page…” He softly notes to her but hears only snuffles in return. He turns his head and sees how Soyong’s serene face as she fell asleep.
Carefully, so he doesn’t disturb her sleep, Wonbeom puts the book away. He gently wraps her hand around his neck and lifts her in his arms. Soyong mumbles something in her sleep as he carries her to his bedding. Once she’s on soft blankets, Soyong turns on her right side, her favorite position.
Wonbeom chuckles and tucks the blanket so she sleeps comfortably with her growing belly. Wonbeom lies down behind her, kissing her cheek for a good night and resting his hand on her belly once again. He is on his way to dreamland when something disturbs him. He doesn’t understand it at first but on the second kick, he opens his eyes wide open. He slides his palm down Soyong’s belly and feels it again, a strong confident kick.
Wonbeom silently laughs, sensing the baby moving, sliding along Wonbeom’s hand with his little hand or foot. Wonbeom’s eyes tear up and he sniffles, feeling utterly happy.
This delightful moment of the bond between Wonbeom and his child is interrupted by Soyong’s mumbling in her sleep. He sees how she frowns visibly in distress from the night activity from their baby.
“My child,” Wonbeom bends down closer to Soyong’s belly. “I am beyond happy we finally created this connection…” he softly whispers. “But your omma3Omma – informal for mother aka mommy. is very tired today, partly I am to blame for that…” He laughs a little. “So both of us must behave and let your mother rest well.”
He caresses Soyong’s belly in circles and soon the baby calms down. Wonbeom shifts his gaze to Soyong’s face and sighs in relief seeing her serene expression as she continues to sleep.
Wonbeom falls asleep soon after, hugging his wife and resting his hand on her belly.
The baby is obedient to his father’s request. What Wonbeom isn’t aware of, is that it’s one of the few times when his child listens to him as Soyong will always have a special hold on all men in the family.
Thank you, Sarah, for giving me advice in writing some parts 😉
Remember how we brainstormed fanfics ideas and come to the conclusion that all kids are always on SY’s side and CJ is the last person they listen to? Well, it begins quite early.
- 1Daejojeon Hall – Queen of Joseon residence after the wedding.
- 2Appa – informal for father aka daddy.
- 3Omma – informal for mother aka mommy.