The nights in Wonbeom’s life had been painted in horrors of his countless nightmares and fears which only grew worse when he stepped foot on the inner palace grounds for the first time.
The following mornings started with headaches Wonbeom had to soothe with calming jasmine tea.
His days were full of humiliation from the people who executed his whole family under false accusations of treason. Those horrible people sincerely thought he must be grateful to them for becoming their puppet King.
Plotting against the people in power who led Joseon to poverty and destruction was a challenging task, but Wonbeom did not give up. From a boy who had to run away, he grew into a man who stayed and fought.
And now, another battle in Wonbeom’s life is over and he can finally sleep peacefully with the woman he loves in his arms. The biggest win in his life will always be his little family with Soyong and their son Hyun-ki. Now if he has a headache it is often because his son is crying too loudly or if his wife is puzzling him again with her strange behavior.
Waking up now feels so peaceful for Wonbeom that he wishes to stay in bed for longer. He breathes in the aroma coming from Soyong’s hair and snuggles his face further into her neck. They lie on their sides and their hands are resting on Soyong’s belly one over another. He slowly opens his eyes, blinking as he adjusts to the morning light and yawning a bit.
“A bit longer… Court Lady Choi, can I sleep longer?” Soyong suddenly mumbles barely articulate words, shifting in Wonbeom’s arms.
“O-ho, my Queen. How can you confuse me with your maid?” Wonbeom whispers into her ear before kissing her neck. He feels her smiling and he continues with featherlight kisses down her neck to her shoulder where he has to pause to push the fabric from her nightgown aside.
Soyong hums in response and breathes out her greeting: “Good morning, Your Majesty…”
When she turns towards him, she’s already awake with her beautiful eyes wide open, looking lovingly at him. For a moment he admires his wife with a smile before moving forward to brush his lips against hers.
“Good morning to you too, my Queen,” Wonbeom whispers and briefly kisses her again.
She giggles in return and brushes her nose against his in a teasing manner. They stay in bed like that for a while, Wonbeom on his side, Soyong lying beside him on her back. Instead of words, they exchange smiles and kisses. Soyong’s slim fingers trace the line of his jaw, then examine the form of his nose, going down to his lips to outline them too. Wonbeom smiles, drowning in her curious gaze as if she is seeing him for the first time.
“Your Majesty,” Soyong finally says. “I was thinking about something…”
Wonbeom smirks: he is also thinking about something that could make the morning even better. His palm moves to her waist and further to her lower back, making Soyong breathe in sharply and her cheeks become rosy. Wonbeom is never going to tire of how her whole body reacts to him and her soft moans that follow afterward. He moves closer, his gaze shifting between her eyes and her lips…
“I was thinking about how we could improve the lives of the attendants who serve us in the palace…” she continues unexpectedly, making him stop halfway to a kiss.
“Why do you have to bring up work so early in the morning?” Wonbeom groans in disappointment, lowering and shaking his head.
“Your Majesty is too impatient,” Soyong teases him with a small laugh.
Wonbeom lifts his head to look at her smiling face and raises his brows in curiosity about what she means by that.
“Are you aware that many palace residences get renovated every few years? And this year is Daejojeon Hall’s1Daejojeon Hall – Queen of Joseon residence after the wedding. turn…” Soyong babbles away, her words flowing out like water out of a broken dam. “And Tongmyeongjeon Hall2Tongmyeongjeon Hall – Great Queen Dowager’s residence. is empty now, so it doesn’t need any renovation either… So I was wondering if could we divert funds from it and use it to renovate the servants’ hanoks3Hanok – a house. that are in bad condition…”
“Of course…” Wonbeom sighs, rolling onto his back and groaning dramatically. “Your wisdom and care are boundless…” he mumbles unenthusiastically.
Soyong laughs again and moves on top of him, sitting comfortably on his abdomen and leaning forward above him. For a moment, Wonbeom forgets about his frustration, but then she continues on with the previous topic:
“How can anything be done in our country if Your Majesty can’t bear to hear long sentences?” she scolds him, giggling. “I’m not finished yet…” She finds both his hands and interlaces their fingers.
“Because Daejojeon Hall won’t be renovated for a while, I was wondering…” Soyong’s face hovers above Wonbeom’s.
“Would you be generous enough…” She slows the pace of her speech, making Wonbeom even more frustrated that he has to wait longer to get to the point of all of this. But if he interrupts again, it might take an eternity because she loves teasing him too much.
“Your Majesty, would you be so kind as to allow me to live here with you?” she finally ends her long speech with a question.
“What?” he asks, blinking abruptly. He definitely hadn’t expected that.
“Why should I live in a hall that needs renovation? I was raised with care and want to continue living in comfort,” Soyong says, pouting her lips. “Besides, I’ve been living here with you for a couple of days, taking care of your health, so why should I leave after your stitches are removed?” Just last evening, the royal physician had said that Wonbeom is almost fully recovered and doesn’t need bandages or stitches any longer.
“And I’ve become used to this place…” she mumbles with a deep sigh.
“My Queen can live here as long as you wish,” Wonbeom interrupts her quickly. “I will gladly free as much space as needed for your…everything.”
Now it’s Soyong who cuts his speech short by kissing him rather enthusiastically. Wonbeom groans, deepening the kiss and lifting his head towards her.
“Besides,” Soyong breathes heavily after they part, before continuing and kissing his neck between sentences. “Your Majesty has a bigger bath.” She lowers her voice to a hot whisper. “Two can easily fit there…”
Wonbeom growls loudly, setting his hands free from her hold to move them to her back, hugging their bodies together. Soyong’s soft lips are back on his, opening her mouth for his urgent tongue with a soft moan. Wonbeom feels a rush of desire rising in him and even through the thin layers of Soyong’s clothes he can feel her excitement too.
However, their passionate morning embrace gets interrupted by the Head Eunuch, who arrives to deliver a message to Wonbeom. The old eunuch is at least wise enough to speak through the closed doors:
“Your Majesty…” the eunuch quietly says after a soft cough to signal his presence.
“Not now!” Wonbeom harshly shouts before continuing to kiss his wife, who giggles at his tone.
“Your Majesty, the royal conference was scheduled earlier today,” the eunuch politely reminds him, making Wonbeom stop abruptly.
Wonbeom lets out a disappointed groan; he can blame only himself for this. But who knew he would be this occupied with Soyong’s soft lips and heated body pressed against his? Apparently not the Wonbeom from yesterday.
“Twenty more minutes,” Wonbeom reluctantly says. His lips move in silent apology to Soyong who looks equally disappointed.
“But Your Majesty…”
“He said twenty more minutes!” Now it’s Soyong who shouts in annoyance and everything goes quiet on the other side of the doors.
“We can be quick?” Wonbeom suggests, but Soyong only shakes her head.
“Are we ever?” She sighs, dropping her head on his chest in disappointment.
Wonbeom slides his hands up her back, hugging her, and kisses the top of her head. He wishes he could stay in bed longer and then maybe try out what she insinuated about the bath. If she’s going to live with him, Wonbeom will make sure that none of his business starts in the early morning from now on.
Soyong suddenly lifts her head, looking into his eyes almost happily:
“I know what can be done quickly.” She suggestively raises her brows and bites her lower lip. Wonbeom’s mood goes from frustrated to lustful so fast he forgets they were interrupted in the first place.
Soyong moves to share another kiss with him: “Trust me, Your Majesty…” she whispers and then moves to spread many kisses down his neck.
Her tongue caresses the sensitive spot on the hollow of his neck, where she knows will drive him mad. Her slender fingers quickly untie his white pajama shirt, baring his chest for her. Wonbeom breathes heavily under her delicate touch. Soyong’s hands caress his skin, her lips and tongue wandering across his chest. Wonbeom whimpers, feeling her wet tongue on his nipple and when she gently bites it. As she lower to his abdomen he finally starts to guess her plan.
Wonbeom usually uses his hand for a quick release in the morning or when he has a delicate situation that he must end quickly at any other time. With Soyong’s exquisite fingers and passionate eagerness, things definitely feel more interesting now.
Soyong continues her way down his body, lingering at his lower abdomen a bit longer after hearing his pleased moans. For a moment she stops so she can move to the side and lower his pants. Wonbeom holds his breath as he lifts himself up on his elbows, watching Soyong’s hand circle around his length. At a slow pace, her hand moves up and down a few times, and then her thumb is caressing the tip of his cock before going back to moving along his whole length.
Wonbeom is so consumed with pleasure that he doesn’t immediately notice Soyong’s attentive eyes examining his every reaction. Once their eyes meet, Soyong squeezes him a bit harder, making him let out a low groan from somewhere very deep in his chest.
“Your Majesty shouldn’t judge me too hard today,” Soyong says airily, her hand starting to pick up the tempo a bit. “After all, this is my first time.”
Wonbeom has a hard time understanding the words he hears, but they fully sink in when he sees Soyong lowering herself to the level of his thighs. Her eyes are now focused on her hand with his member, and she looks adorably curious tilting her head to the side. And Wonbeom certainly isn’t ready for her mouth opening and her tongue licking his shaft from the bottom up to the tip.
“Huh…” is the only sound she makes afterward.
“Huh?” Wonbeom repeats in a high-pitched voice.
Soyong giggles at his funny reaction and without hesitation takes half of his length into her mouth. Wonbeom can’t really believe what he is seeing is what is actually happening. Soyong’s full lips are parted around him, her tongue doing marvelous things while her head is moving up and down.
Her name runs out of his mouth in a breathy whimper, and he throws his head back, losing himself in the sensation. Never in his wildest dreams has he pictured Soyong, a high-born well-mannered yangban lady, going down on him with her skillful tongue swirling and caressing his sensitive shaft.
Wonbeom returns his attention to her right at the moment when she lifts her gaze up to him. For a second, she gets distracted and her teeth accidentally brush roughly over his overly sensitive skin.
“Oh, careful,” he cries out with a shudder.
With a popping sound, Soyong releases his length out of her mouth: “I’m sorry,” she quickly says with an apologetic smile, and then her mouth is back on him.
She uses her hand now, going in conjunction with her mouth so there is not even a second without her ministrations. Continuing her experiments, she stays low and close to the base and works her magic there.
Wonbeom’s pleasure builds slowly. He feels it spreading through his veins in waves, heating him up more and more.
And even Soyong’s apparent experimentation with him excites him. She knows what she is doing, but somehow her awkwardness is also obvious, which he likes too. It could be something common in the intimate lives of two people, but Wonbeom looks deeper into it. Her willingness to brush aside social status stigma to give each other pleasure tells Wonbeom there truly is nothing they can’t share.
Unable to express himself with words, Wonbeom moves his hand on top of her head, gently but confidently suggesting a different pace. However, his Queen apparently has another idea, and with an offended hum, Soyong slaps his hand away, not allowing him to interfere.
“My Queen,” he begs. “Just a bit…”
He doesn’t know whether he wants her to be rougher or just faster, or both. Soyong, however, tries to move her hand more while she sucks the tip or caresses it with her tongue. He feels himself nearing his release, and Wonbeom reaches out to her free hand to argue for her to move up to him. Soyong complies, but her hand, however, doesn’t stop moving.
“Did I do something you didn’t like, Your Majesty?” Her confused face and voice are so adorable that Wonbeom can’t help but smile.
“Not at all, my Queen.” He gently kisses her. “I just want you to look into my eyes,” he moans, feeling her finger playing with his tip again.
Soyong smiles wickedly and moves closer to him, pressing their foreheads together and whispering inappropriate things, using the dirtiest language he has ever heard. It doesn’t take him long to reach his peak under her touch, as he imagines everything he will most certainly do to her as soon as they have free time.
“My Queen,” he whispers out, breathing heavily. “How… are you so good at this?”
“What do you think my bridal lessons were about? Half of it was about etiquette and half about how to be a good wife,” Soyong snorts, showing how ridiculous and disregarding to women those lessons were. “But I’m glad you like my first practice on it,” she teases, brushing her nose against his and moving to his lips for a quick kiss.
“I can’t leave for the royal conference now.” Wonbeom rests his forehead against hers, and his hand caresses her lower back. “How can I leave you unsatisfied?”
Soyong cups his face with both hands: “The thought of Your Majesty ordering people around and being authoritative is what will help me carry on while you are away.”
Wonbeom groans: “You are not helping!”
However, he doesn’t have much of a choice as Soyong literally pushes him away into a spare room to get ready. Wonbeom turns to briefly steal another kiss before she shuts the doors in front of his face.
He lets the eunuchs in with his fresh clothes ready on trays. He sighs and pouts while they help him get dressed into his Gonryongpo and crown. Before leaving the room, he turns to look at the shut doors, behind which his Queen is left alone to her naughtiness. Wonbeom sighs and forces himself to step outside his residence.
Thoughts of his Queen will definitely haunt him the whole day.
Following the Queen’s suggestion, he raises the budget discussion at the royal conference and orders all information needed for the Queen to be provided. And when the conference ends, he asks the Head Eunuch to help the Queen comfortably move into Huijeongjeon Hall4Huijeongjeon Hall – King’s residence..
His work with the appeals keeps him occupied for most of the day, and only the thought of seeing Soyong when he goes back to his residence keeps him going.
The Queen’s brilliant idea to redistribute the budget to improve the servants’ condition shows her generosity and benefits Wonbeom greatly. He guesses nothing is actually stopping Soyong from continuing to live in Daejojeon Hall; it’s not like the place is falling apart. But she used it as an excuse to propose the idea of them living together, and that fact makes his heart soar.
Since the past Kings usually had many concubines, they lived separately so they could comfortably visit their various women on different nights. But Wonbeom doesn’t intend to have any other wives: he needs only one. And after wasting so much time living alone, he is excited to share his home with Soyong as a simple, lovely family.
While he is smiling to himself, thinking of his Queen, the arrival of said Queen is announced, and not alone but with Prince Hyun-ki.
Soyong gracefully steps into the room, carrying the prince in one arm and a bottle of milk in the other:
“I hope Your Majesty doesn’t mind us distracting you from court affairs?” Soyong cheerfully says, moving to the steps that lead to the center of the room. She pauses, unable to hold up her skirts as her hands are not free. Wonbeom rushes to her, helping her to safely step down the stairs.
“Thank you! I didn’t think it all through when I sent the servants away so we could have some privacy. But I asked the Head Eunuch to bring tea for us, so he should arrive soon.”
“My Queen can bother me anytime.” Wonbeom smiles warmly, guiding her to sit down at the table. “Especially with the prince.”
“I was worried Your Majesty would be overworked,” she admits. “So when I finished my tasks early, I decided we can visit you before the prince,” she shifts her gaze to their son, “goes to sleep. Right, Hyun-ki-ah?”
“I am glad you two came to visit me.” Wonbeom caresses Hyun-ki’s head, smiling widely.
“I also wanted to say thank you. The Minister of Economy was very eager to help me with my plans,” Soyong says with a grateful smile.
“He always praises your intelligence. He has been very impressed since your project with the schools.” Wonbeom proudly smiles. In those days of uncertainty for their marriage he loved to hear one of his trusted ministers speaking so highly of Soyong. It had made him feel closer to her in some way.
The Head Eunuch brings the tea and yakgwa5Yakgwa – honey cookies. cookies. When they are left alone again, Wonbeom brews the tea while Soyong feeds milk to Hyun-ki. She shakes the bottle a bit and then offers it to the prince. Hyun-ki hungrily starts drinking, his little hands helping to hold the bottle as his eyes never leave Soyong’s smiling face.
Wonbeom can’t help but smile brightly at this heartwarming image. He is so happy right now that he hardly believes it is his life now. Soyong lifts her gaze to look at him and Wonbeom smiles even wider, to the point of his cheeks hurting.
And at this moment Wonbeom realizes he wants this family to be bigger — perhaps a little princess who resembles her beautiful mother. His father-in-law always boasts about how great it is to have a daughter and how, unlike other men in the family, he always wanted a baby girl instead of an heir. Wonbeom wants to feel that too, to have both a boy and a girl to raise.
“Soyong-ah.” Wonbeom reaches out to the hand she uses to hold Hyun-ki but stops halfway.
He vividly remembers how upset she was during her previous pregnancy. Wonbeom is sure if there was a simpler way to have babies she would agree with his proposal. But as he did his own research on this topic, even talking with the midwife appointed to help Soyong with labor, he came to the conclusion that pregnancy is a challenging and dangerous event in women’s lives. Soyong’s own mother died during childbirth, and in hindsight it is no wonder why she was so upset when she came to him on the night before she went into labor, worried that her child may grow up without a mother.
“What is it, Your Majesty?” Soyong drags his attention back from his thoughts.
“The tea is ready.” Wonbeom’s takes a cup to place it in front of Soyong. “I will hold Hyun-ki. Please enjoy your drink.”
Wonbeom takes Hyun-ki into his arms and continues feeding him. He shifts awkwardly on his seat, feeling uneasy with his own thoughts.
Later. He will bring up the question of another child to Soyong later. He must think of how to emphasize that the final decision is on her and that he will accept it whatever it is.
“You are being mysterious.” Soyong narrows her eyes, examining his face. “You know you can tell me anything.”
“Nothing can escape your attentive eyes, my Queen.” Wonbeom shyly laughs. “I promise to tell you later.”
Soyong doesn’t look convinced at first, but her features soften when she nods. They spend the rest of the time together talking about Hyun-ki and how Soyong wants to decorate everything in his own East Palace.
“We will have to live separately soon,” she sadly states. “After his one-year birthday… But I will prepare one room for us if we wish to spend the night there.”
Wonbeom is sure the separation will be hard. The rules declare that the heir to the throne is supposed to be under the custody of high-ranked palace maids right away, and to start his education as soon as he starts forming his first words. But Soyong had insisted on Hyun-ki living with her in Daejojeon Hall, declaring that she wouldn’t follow the old-fashioned rules and let anyone separate her from her child. Wonbeom remembers how the scholars and ministers complained about it, quoting Confucian teachings. He could only laugh at their foolishness, as if they could possibly change Soyong’s mind. Even the King of the country doesn’t have such power.
When Soyong decides it’s time for Hyun-ki to prepare for sleep, she reaches her hands out to take Hyun-ki from Wonbeom’s arms. He places a quick goodbye kiss on Hyun-ki’s cheek and then steals a kiss from Soyong as well. She smiles at him and grabs the collar of his Gonryongpo to pull him closer to her for a deeper kiss.
“I’ll see you later tonight, Your Majesty,” Soyong whispers. “Do not make me wait too long.”
After this encouraging last kiss, Wonbeom works twice as hard to finish all his work faster. But even with his enthusiasm, he finishes after the sun is down. He’s sure Soyong will be displeased with him but will try not to show it. After all, she herself knows best how much work he has now thanks to their absence at court and the aftermath of the conspiracy. She will surely understand; however, he can easily imagine her cute pout and deep sigh of disappointment.
Wonbeom decides he can’t go back to Huijeongjeon Hall empty-handed, so he visits the royal kitchen first. Luckily for him, he manages to catch Man-bok on his way out.
“What brings Your Majesty to the royal kitchen so late at night?” The chef looks confused to see the King in the kitchen, as it’s a rare sight for him.
“Ah, the royal chef. I’m glad you’re still here.” Wonbeom smiles happily. “I need you to make a dish for me and the Queen.”
“At this hour, Your Majesty?” Man-bok looks unhappy with the suggestion but doesn’t dare to say anything otherwise.
“You need to help me. The Queen must be upset that I made her wait so long for me tonight.” Wonbeom sighs deeply; he really wants to make up for her long wait somehow. “I don’t want her to be displeased…”
“Oh yes, Her Highness can be very…” Man-bok pauses before adding the word Wonbeom has already voiced: “displeased…”
Wonbeom is sure Man-bok wishes to say something else, a far more harsh expression, as he still grumbles about the Queen’s rudeness sometimes — usually when his wine is missing or when his wife is working late because of Soyong. The worst case is if the wine is missing and his wife suspiciously comes home late and inebriated.
“Please, make the Queen’s favorite dish.” Wonbeom clasps his hands behind his back and switches his voice to a more authoritative one. “Ramyeon for two.”
“Are you sure?” Man-bok looks surprised as his brows move high on his forehead. “For two?”
“Of course. Don’t you know about ramyeon?” Wonbeom lets out a booming laugh, concluding that the older man probably doesn’t know the true meaning of the dish. “Do as I say.”
To Wonbeom’s surprise, Man-bok gives him a knowing look, nodding with a smile. Wonbeom frowns at this but says nothing. He has no time to figure out the chef’s odd reaction; he just wants to go back to his residence faster so he can surprise Soyong. So, Wonbeom clears his throat and raises an eyebrow, silently reminding Man-bok with whom he speaks. And the chef lowers his head, mumbling that he will make two portions quickly.
Once Wonbeom receives his pot full of spicy noodles, smelling so marvelous, he swallows hard and hurries back to Huijeongjeon Hall. He very clearly remembers how Soyong doesn’t like when her noodles become soggy, but Wonbeom still needs to slow down when he approaches the hallway to his bed chambers. He quietly requests all his servants to go outside as he has been doing the past few days.
In his spare room, Wonbeom changes into his full sleeping attire, but once he sees himself in the mirror, he feels as if he has put on too many clothes. With a cheeky smile, he gets rid of the top jacket and unties the under jacket, baring his torso. He takes the tray with the pot and checks himself in the mirror once more. Nodding at his reflection, he takes a deep breath and walks to the room where Soyong is.
Wonbeom’s steps are quiet, his socks muffling any trace of noise. He is sure that nothing will give away his presence in his bed chambers. He quickly peeks into the room and sees Soyong beside his low table, sitting with her knee up as she uses it as support for the book she’s reading. He also notices her take in a deep intake of air, as if she smells something.
He must be quick, Wonbeom decides, or the noodles will take him away. He straightens his back and knocks on the wooden part of the door.
“Court Lady Choi?” Soyong’s voice sounds uncertain.
Why does she always confuse me with her maid? Wonbeom rolls his eyes. But then he puts on his most alluring face and smoothly comes out into full display before his wife.
Wonbeom is pleased to see her face slowly transforming from curious to surprised, her mouth hanging open as she puts her book down on the table.
“My Queen, do you want to eat ramyeon before you go?” He uses his low, captivating tone of voice, the way he knows she loves so much.
“Your Majesty?” Soyong mumbles and her cheeks start to color beautifully.
Wonbeom holds himself back from smiling widely, keeping his seductive pose and expression, but in his mind, he rejoices. Finally, the tables have turned and it is he who has surprised Soyong. And she looks so adorable in her confusion.
“Where am I supposed to go? I am living here now!” She suddenly frowns, making Wonbeom’s smile disappear. “Are you unwell? Do you have gaps in your memory from this morning?”
“That’s not…” Wonbeom huffs, offended that his plan seems to be ruined. But almost immediately Soyong giggles.
“Your Majesty is so cute,” Soyong murmurs under her breath. “How can I not tease you?”
“Cute?” Wonbeom whines. “I tried to be…”
“Sexy?” Soyong guesses and he nods. “Oh, Your Majesty, you don’t have to worry about it. You are… everything…”
Wonbeom suddenly feels like wings have grown behind his back, hearing how highly she thinks about his charms. Soyong giggles and pats the cushion beside her for Wonbeom to sit and he quickly complies. He carefully puts down the tray with ramyeon and opens the lid. Soyong inhales the aroma: the mix of spices, mushrooms, and fresh green onion.
“I knew it wasn’t purely my imagination.” Soyong smiles, closing her eyes in pure delight.
She then turns to Wonbeom with her “time for education” facial expression and voice:
“You know, ramyeon is a very dangerous dish. You crave for it at night, and in the morning your face gets puffy and you regret it greatly. Until you crave it at night all over again…” She sighs in sadness.
“I think you look very beautiful with your face being puffy.” Wonbeom smiles warmly at her, lifting his hand to palm her cheek.
“You can’t say things like that to a woman, Your Majesty.” Soyong shakes her head a little, but Wonbeom only caresses her skin with his thumb, continuing to admire her.
“Remember how I was right after labor?” she whispers, as if it’s a big secret no one must know. As if the whole palace didn’t see her running around with her new projects all over the inner palace shortly after.
“My Queen looked as beautiful as ever.” Wonbeom doesn’t back down from his opinion. “And I love every part of you, puffy or not.”
Soyong lifts her pointer finger at him and he has to cross his eyes to look at it: “I want you to remember it, Your Majesty.” Her voice is as serious as ever.
After his confident nod, she finally smiles again and takes the chopsticks to gather some noodles and offer them to him. Wonbeom doesn’t hesitate and tries the first bite, slurping the noodles up in one go. He hums in pleasure, not having the words to describe how much he likes the dish.
However, Soyong is not like him and is ready to praise her favorite dish after trying it herself and taking a sip from the pot: “Ahh, the perfect mix of spices and onions… The broth is flavored just right and the noodles are still a bit crunchy.”
Wonbeom laughs, noting that ramyeon is the perfect reconciliation dish when he screws up in the future.
“I’m glad you are not upset that it took me so long to come home,” Wonbeom says, and he can’t believe he’s using the word “home” as in their home together. This word alone makes him feel so warm and cozy inside. In the almost four years that he has lived in Huijeongjeon Hall, he has never felt as comfortable as he is now.
“Home,” Soyong repeats after him as if testing this word as she did with the noodles. “It is indeed home.” She smiles warmly at him and he knows she has a similar sentiment about it. “I felt so lonely here when you were not around, but when my books arrived, I finally realized it’s really my new home. So I wasn’t really upset, Your Majesty.”
They eat and Soyong shares what she did today after the budget planning — which was mostly telling the attendants in Daejojeon Hall what to immediately pack and move to Huijeongjeon Hall and what could wait. While she talks, Wonbeom notices the changes in the room. The flowers in the vase used to be purely decorative but now are alive and fill the room with their aroma. Soyong’s novels sit on the table, bearing ridiculous names like Crash Landing on You or Kokdu: Season of Deity. Wonbeom shakes his head; he had never imagined that his military books would have neighbors like this.
When the whole pot of ramyeon becomes empty, both of them move to the room where the bed is already prepared. Soyong hums some melody and Wonbeom holds her hand, happy they are now going to spend so much more time together.
“My Queen,” Wonbeom starts but corrects himself: “Soyong-ah, do you remember what ramyeon means?”
She turns to look at him with a smile: “I thought you brought my favorite dish to compensate for your late arrival?”
He hears the flirtatious notes in her voice and she moves closer to him, placing her palms on his chest. Wonbeom doesn’t waste time and quickly wraps his hands around her waist.
“One cannot exclude the other,” he suggestively answers.
Soyong lets out a quiet uh-hu in agreement, rising on her toes to kiss him. Wonbeom moves towards her… almost… very close…
Soyong suddenly moves away and burps loudly, making Wonbeom’s eyes round in shock.
“I’m so sorry.” Soyong covers her mouth, her brows high on her face as if she’s shocked herself. “I couldn’t hold it, Your Majesty…” she mumbles but gets interrupted by Wonbeom’s burp.
They both freeze in shock and then, just like that, they start laughing. Soyong drops her head on his chest, her whole body shaking in laughter in his arms, and Wonbeom’s chest moves with his own laugh too.
“Now that we are living together this will happen a lot.” Wonbeom wipes the tears from his eyes. “I suppose we have to get used to it.”
“We ate too much.” Soyong leans back a bit to look into his eyes. “Why did you bring so much?” she playfully scolds him, hitting his chest with her small fist.
“There’s two of us,” Wonbeom explains. “How much am I supposed to bring?”
Soyong lets out a knowing “Ahh” and giggles adorably.
“Your Majesty, ramyeon is a dish that is supposed to be shared between lovers — one portion for two loving people to share together. That’s the point!” she explains, her shoulders still shaking in laughter.
“There’s so much I still need to learn.” Wonbeom nods in understanding.
Wonbeom takes Soyong’s hands into his, brushing his thumbs over her knuckles.
“Does that mean our first official day of living together is ruined?” He peers into her eyes, now melancholically. “I wanted it to be special in every aspect.”
Soyong’s hand slips out of his and she grasps his hand. With a smile, she silently leads him towards their bedding and lowers herself into a sitting position, still holding his hand and now looking up at him.
“Wonbeom-ah, lie beside me, please.” Soyong pats the sheets.
Intrigued, Wonbeom complies and she then directs him to rest his head on her thighs. Now it is Wonbeom who looks up at her from below.
“Now, we don’t need to do anything intimate in the literal sense.” She reaches for his hand and intertwines their fingers together. “I think just lying with you like this and talking is intimate as well.” She moves her other hand to brush his hair a bit. “With you, my love, every moment is special.”
Wonbeom is ready to melt upon hearing her sweet voice calling him “my love.” It’s the first time she has used this expression. It’s not as if Wonbeom doesn’t already know how much she loves him. However, hearing her declaration of love one way or another makes his heart beat fast in his chest.
“Then, what could we talk about now?” Wonbeom smiles at her. “My beloved wife…”
“Anything you wish to know,” she teases him, lowering to steal a kiss.
“Then tell me more about the future,” Wonbeom carefully says. “What does it look like?”
Soyong pauses, thinking for a long moment. Previously, that question could have triggered her, as it reminded her about her possession experience and the consequences of it. However, Wonbeom is pleased to see she’s completely relaxed while she prepares the answer to his question.
“The future is very bright, as if many different colored fireflies gathered together to create a picture or the text…,”
Soyong’s storytelling voice is something Wonbeom loves. It sounds so different from her strict one or her flirting one, or even the warm voice she uses to talk with Hyun-ki (and Wonbeom sometimes).
“There’s so much motion. Everything and everyone is always moving, but not like on the streets of Hanyang. Compared to the future, our capital is like a calm stream, while Seoul is a wild mountain river. One day, the streets we know will start getting wider to accommodate horseless carriages and so many people that it’s impossible to count. And our country will inspire and attract foreigners to get to know our culture, and all those enchanted by our country will walk down those streets as well.”
Soyong’s voice becomes so excited and her whole face lights up with her storytelling. The more she talks, the more she can recall; however, Wonbeom can sense that these memories come from somewhere deep in her mind compared to how easily she talked about the future before. Wonbeom is glad he asked her: maybe if they talk about it more, these memories won’t fade away completely.
“That sounds fascinating,” Wonbeom breathes in awe. They used to talk about the politics and reforms of the future, something Wonbeom thinks Bong Hwan wished to share with him through Soyong. But now Wonbeom is mesmerized to hear about the beauty of the future through Soyong’s eyes. The eyes of the Joseon Era Queen, seeing the future through the mind of Chef Jang.
“It really is, Your Majesty,” Soyong says, laughing. “The fashion will change too. The way people dress and what songs they sing… And they will have shorter hair which can be colored in any color you like. The only limit is your imagination. People are more free in expressing themselves but still feel it’s not enough. Therefore, as fascinating as it is, the future is not perfect either.”
“Could we change that?” Wonbeom wonders out loud. He already knows all his plans and reforms are just small steps to the country he wishes to build. And it’s Hyun-ki who will have to carry on, and then his son after him.
“Of course, Your Majesty! The better you and I prepare our country for this future, the sooner people can start building their ideal land. This is why I’m so focused on early education.” Soyong smiles to herself. “This is my gift to the future generations.”
She proudly smiles, nodding to herself. Wonbeom knows how hard she has worked on opening schools for commoners. She has opened only a few but has also found some noble families who decided to follow her steps and start financing some of their own. The Queen’s influence on the country is growing stronger and Wonbeom is very proud of her for that.
“Was it scary? To share a body and mind with that strange man from the future?” Wonbeom suddenly asks. That question has always bothered him. The traces of that possession are still apparent in their lives, but she was the one who actually experienced it. “You don’t have to answer,” he quickly adds.
“It was and it wasn’t.” Soyong frowns and breathes in deeply. “My mind was his and his mind was mine,” she continues slowly. “Sometimes we lived in almost perfect harmony. I feel that deep down I fueled his rage, as I had my own rage when I felt mistreated. And then there were moments…when we wanted different things, that it made it confusing and difficult to do something I desired to do. And sometimes he influenced my body towards what he wanted. It was like having a sibling you love and hate at the same time but had to be together with because you are tightly tied.”
Wonbeom chuckles at that, imagining what it would be like to share one body with his brother. He probably would go insane. The Queen handled it quite well if he thinks about it. The dual personality coincided well, almost naturally, with her own strange character. People close to Soyong noticed it but accepted it as a natural way of things with her.
“One day those memories will fade away, and I’ll have nothing else to share with you about it.” Soyong smiles nostalgically. “The thought of it makes me somehow sad, as if I am letting go of an important part of myself.”
“Nothing stays static, my Queen.” Wonbeom lifts his palm to caress her cheek. “We are moving forward and changing. Just because those memories fade away doesn’t mean they never happened. You will forever remember what you felt and how you cherished those.”
They change positions, lying beside each other and talking for hours. Although Soyong fears her memories of the future will fade and that part of their story will be closed, Wonbeom is sure this feeling he has right now will never leave them.
This is forever. While he’s here. While she’s here. Their bond is more than just a few months of possession. Their story is bigger than that. And as the times go on, as they change slowly every day, that feeling of being comfortable just talking together while lying in bed will stay.
- Important note: Cheoljong wants a bit more time to think about the possibility of another baby. And as Soyong said, he can tell her anything and it’s the truth. It’s important to be open about things that might create a negative reaction. In the next chapter, we’ll find out what Soyong thinks about it. And I remind you about contraceptives existing in this fic, so Cheoljong planning rameyon night doesn’t mean he considers another unplanned pregnancy.
- I and beta discussed whether the “social stigma” about sexual life existed back then. And since it’s Choljong’s pov I decided to leave this part as it is. I think before the sexual revolution that happened in 20th-century society and men didn’t consider that women could actually love and enjoy sex as men do. I’m not saying Cheoljong like that but in my opinion, he thinks very highly of high-born ladies and never thought if they could be into that stuff.
- This fic is slowly coming to an end, I think around 4 chapters left here and I plan another slow-burn multi-chapter fic about our royal couple. This time BH will be part of an adventure but he will be from the Joseon era. AU in which BH helps SY escape her marriage with Cheoljong. On their run, they decide to join the rebellion not knowing that the head of said rebellion is the King they run away from. A fic where the plot is outside of the palace and where the love triangle will happen between King!Cheoljong/Soyong/Rebel!Cheoljong. I think it will be fun if he feels jealous of himself, both as the King and as the Rebel.
- 1Daejojeon Hall – Queen of Joseon residence after the wedding.
- 2Tongmyeongjeon Hall – Great Queen Dowager’s residence.
- 3Hanok – a house.
- 4Huijeongjeon Hall – King’s residence.
- 5Yakgwa – honey cookies.