Chapter 29: My gift for you

The rays of the morning sun light up the room where Wonbeom and Soyong are getting ready for their day. They are separated by the screen and on either side servants help both of them to dress. On one side the King stands, his arms parted sideways as the eunuchs place the gonryongpo1Gonryongpo – Scarlett dragon robe. on his shoulders. On Soyong’s side, her maids help her with a complex hairstyle and Hong Yeon ties the knot on her dangui2Dangui is an upper garment with a white collar tied together by ribbons. The other name for this garment is jeogori., completing her attire.

“You are suspiciously quiet,” Wonbeom joyfully notes from his part of the room. Soyong can even imagine his foolish smile, similar to the one he had when they parted ways to opposite sides of the screen.

“I’m truly not,” Soyong tries to argue, holding in her own giggle.

She can’t help it. She really can’t hold her lips back from spreading in a smile and her cheeks from heating in a blush.

Today Soyong woke up feeling a bit heavy because her husband decided to use her belly as a pillow. His hand was wrapped around her waist and his cheek squished against her lower abdomen. And now this picture can’t leave her mind and she barely holds in her overwhelming feelings. Everyday Wonbeom somehow makes her fall for him harder without even trying.

“Does Your Majesty feel free to speak in front of so many people?” Soyong walks around from her side of the screen. “Spare our attendants from our silly morning conversations, will you?”

She takes his crown from its tray and stands on her tiptoes to carefully place it on top of Wonbeom’s head. But Soyong soon gets distracted with his smug smile and half-hooded eyes as he stares back at her, making this simple task almost impossible to finish. With her hands still raised, she swallows hard and leans towards him, her gaze shifting to his lips…

A soft cough brings her back to her senses and she quickly places the crown on top of Wonbeom’s head, but it ends up leaning more to one side than the other. They part awkwardly and Wonbeom shifts the crown, placing it properly, while Soyong looks away shyly.

Wonbeom clears his throat, trying to hide his own embarrassment, and declares: “You may all go.”

The attendants are giggling and playfully elbowing each other, suggestively lifting their eyebrows. Oh, Soyong is sure they will have fun discussing what they saw while doing their daily duties.

They all bow and finally leave the two of them alone. At the second the doors close Wonbeom catches Soyong’s elbow and tugs her into an embrace.

“What was my Queen so shy to discuss while everyone was watching?” Wonbeom teases her with a smile, while his hands find a comfortable position on her lower back.

Once again Soyong notes how perfectly they match even in a simple hug, like a puzzle finally coming together. Her own hands lock behind Wonbeom’s back.

“I just wanted some privacy to suggest for us to share presents,” Soyong starts, looking up at him.

She has been thinking about it for some time already. Over the past year, she made so many gifts for her friends and family and she received so many in return, but Wonbeom has been missing out on all of it. She wishes to fix that.

“Presents?” The King asks, raising his brows. “Where did this come from?”

“It’s only because our relationship evolved out of order, and because of that, we missed all the courtship. Don’t you agree?” Soyong pouts and sighs, lowering her gaze to his wide chest. “Even if we are married now, does it mean we should stop surprising each other with gifts?”

“What do you mean we missed the courtship? Have you forgotten the bouquet of flowers I presented to you?” Wonbeom sounds confused and Soyong raises her eyes back at his face to check if he is joking or seriously ignorant.

“Does Your Majesty still insist you picked them up on your way to my natal home?” she asks and immediately knows the answer even before finishing her question: his sincerely offended face says it all.

“Why is it so hard to believe?” he scoffs, pouting his lips.

“Your Majesty really stopped the whole procession to pick up a bouquet for me? At that stage of our relationship?” Soyong sarcastically asks. It’s getting ridiculous; she had just wanted to arrange gift sharing between them. Why do they have to debate about the flowers she received more than a year ago?

“I picked up the bouquet…” Wonbeom pauses briefly, awkwardly stepping from one foot to the other before continuing: “When it fell before my feet in the palanquin,” he reluctantly admits, looking away.

“I knew it!” Soyong laughs joyfully. For some reason, his reaction only amuses her instead of causing irritation. After all, if there was no accidental bouquet appearance, she wouldn’t have received one at all.

“It’s not all!” Wonbeom’s cheeks turn red when he blurts out his words. He lets go of their tight embrace to lift his hand before her, raising fingers and counting:  “Don’t you remember the book… or the rare orchid flower!” He breathes heavily, biting his lips. “By the way, what happened to it?”

Soyong only continues to smile at his adorable childish reaction. To be fair, she kept the book and even read it a few times when she felt nostalgic after their temporary breakup. His cute note with the painted flower on it warmed her heart as all his letters did. Just looking at his neat handwriting made her heart flutter.

The flower on the other hand never left the kitchen where she had received it. It was lost in the chaos of events that followed shortly after she received it, and when she later remembered about it, the flower had already become a well-loved part of the kitchen, with all the cooks adoring it, watering it on time, and even talking sweetly to it.

“You mean the gifts to celebrate our no-tou-chi relationship?” Soyong raises one brow; she really likes teasing him, despite loving the gifts from those difficult times. “The ones I received on the day you were supposed to spend with your beloved concubine?” she sarcastically continues. She’s not really mad at him, but the situation gets even more ridiculous the more he tries to justify himself.

“Your Majesty doesn’t have to defend yourself so much. I fully understand the situation we were in back then,” Soyong continues in a softer tone.

She moves her hands to his face, gently cupping it between her palms and forcing him to look back at her: “I simply wish to show my love to you with material things as well. The people closest to me have already received a lot of presents and you are the only one who has missed out.”

“You made me a scarf,” Wonbeom reminds her, smiling softly. “The one you still have in your possession after I gave it back,” he adds with a tiny bit of irony in his voice.

Soyong chuckles and silently walks to one of the many cabinets in the room. After a quick search, she pulls out the scarf from one of them. When she turns back to Wonbeom, she notices how attentively he watches her every move, with a curious expression on his face. Soyong approaches him again and wraps the scarf around his neck, then makes a little knot and stuffs the ends of the scarf under Wonbeom’s clothes.

“And you, Your Majesty, gave me a deadly weapon to defend myself just a week ago.” She rearranges the scarf a bit to look better. “We are not really hopeless in terms of courtship.”

“How long has this been here?” Wonbeom asks, looking down at his scarf. He lifts his hand, caressing the red fabric with his fingers as if testing whether it is real.

“It was the first thing I brought here,” Soyong says. “It belongs here with you. I am sorry it took me so long.”

Soyong smiles seeing how happy Wonbeom looks, and she’s sure he knows what she truly means. Soyong is now putting her fragile heart in his hands, believing he will treat it with respect and tenderness.

Wonbeom once confessed to her that his feelings won’t change even if she turns out to be the most flawed person in the world. Since then, he has only proven his words to be true. With his actions. With his patience. With his understanding even at times of utter confusion in their relationship.

Now Soyong needs to find a way to show him the same thing, how she’s ready to accept his whole being, the good and bad, with open arms. She will be his partner, his wife, his friend, and his family. Someone who will always think about his well-being first while he fulfills his duties to Joseon.

Wonbeom is good with the heartwarming love declarations and passionate speeches, and Soyong has a big road ahead to catch up. She will start with small steps and she hopes someday Wonbeom will feel the depth of her love for him in her heart. And maybe soon he will be confident enough in her to say everything he has on his mind. She still remembers the moment from a few days ago when he wanted to ask her something but stopped himself. He might think she didn’t pay attention to it, but she remembers. One day, when he freely tells her anything without a second thought will be the day Soyong will know that finally her beloved has reached the same level of trust she has.

They stare at each other with warm smiles and loving eyes. Wonbeom nods, as he understands her perfectly without actual words said out loud.

“First, huh? Not your romance books?” Wonbeom jokes, breaking the silence and making Soyong giggle.

“No, Your Majesty, those were in the second bunch,” she teases him in return.

Soyong comes back into his warm embrace, placing her head on his chest. His steady heartbeat is like music to her ears and she wishes to spend the whole day in his strong and tender arms. They could talk and plan the future together as they did all the nights before. But at the moment, they must part ways and focus on their duties. The whole kingdom is depending on them and they simply don’t have the opportunity to act like a madly in love couple, silly and careless.

“I don’t want to go,” Wonbeom murmurs what she was just thinking, gently kissing her temple.

“Your Majesty, how about we meet later, after Hyun-ki’s midday nap, and have tea together?” Soyong suggests, lifting her head and resting her chin on his chest. “Just because we have to work doesn’t mean we can’t meet for a break.”

“That’s an excellent idea, my Queen!” Wonbeom’s eyes light up with happiness.

On that note, they leave their residence, heading in opposite directions. The promise of a reunion in a short while will warm their hearts until then.

The weather is nice, with the sun shining bright as if the summer decided to stay with them for a bit longer. There’s no wind to feel and no clouds to see in the sky, and Soyong decides to work outside today. She chooses Wonbeom’s favorite gazebo on one of the lake’s shores, with a cherry tree growing nearby. Soyong remembers how the wind used to spin cherry blossom petals in the air around him, making a dreamy image of the young, handsome King. And Hyun-ki, just like his father, loves spending time here. Despite the loud birds chirping, it’s the only place where he can calmly play with his toys while Soyong works or peacefully sleep without waking up.

“If only he could sleep this quietly in his own room,” Soyong murmurs to herself, seeing how Hyun-ki yawns before falling asleep. This time it takes only one chorus of a lullaby for him to start closing his eyes.

Time passes so quickly that Soyong barely has time to request everything to be prepared for her meeting with the King. She asks for a basket with something to eat and a blanket to sit on. They may not have much time, but the gardens are very close and they can have their tea there on some sort of picnic.

But it’s not all she has planned for today. As she had mentioned gifts earlier this morning, Soyong decides to prepare a small one for Wonbeom.

She opens her small basket with strings and gems for norigae3Norigae – s a typical, traditional Korean accessory used in Hanbok, which can be hung on goreum (coat strings) of a woman’s jeogori or on her chima.. A little while ago she made norigae for all the concubines so that even if they leave the palace, they would remember her. She has been thinking about making one for Wonbeom too, but to her frustration only now realizes she doesn’t have the stones in the needed size to fulfill her goal. But she won’t let that stop her. Instead, she takes some red string and starts making a bracelet.

“Your Highness.” Court Lady Choi’s soft voice distracts Soyong from her task.

“Don’t tell me His Majesty is already here,” Soyong mumbles in frustration. “I haven’t finished yet!”

“No, Your Highness, I think that child looks lost.” Court Lady Choi looks somewhere on the road outside of the pavilion.

Frowning, Soyong stands on her feet and goes to her friend to look at what she means. She sees a little boy, around eight years old, in noble clothes, looking close to panicking.

“Bring him here. He looks so scared!” Soyong orders one of the other maids, who then excuses herself and runs after the boy.

At first, the boy looks reluctant to join them, but the maid seems to convince him to go with her. He takes her hand and they both enter the pavilion where Soyong waits for them. The boy looks around, wary of so many unfamiliar people. He fixes his clothes as if he is still getting used to the expensive silk he wears.

“Hello.” Soyong warmly smiles, slowly stepping closer to him. “And who might you be?”

“Si Woo, my lady,” the boy shyly answers, looking up at her from his lowered head.

Before Soyong can ask her next question, the boy’s stomach growls loudly, and he brushes his hand against it as if trying to prevent it from making sounds.

“Oh no, you are hungry!” Soyong exclaims.

She lowers herself to eye level with the boy and reaches her hand somewhere under her dangui. Soon she pulls out a handkerchief and starts opening it in front of the boy. Inside are a few cookies from the kitchen and she offers them to the boy. However, he seems unsure if he can take them, looking around at the maids who all smile and nod at him.

“Do you know who I am?” Soyong asks, bringing his attention back to her. The boy shakes his head.

“I am the Queen and these are the palace grounds,” Soyong explains, making a wide arc with her hand. “Meaning you are my guest and I can’t allow my guest to wander around hungry.”

Her reasoning seems to work, as the boy takes one of the cookies and slowly eats it. But since he’s very hungry, the second cookie disappears more quickly.

“Si Woo-ah, did you come here alone or with someone?” Soyong asks, seeing how the boy is starting to relax in her company.

“I came here with Master Gyeong-eung,” the boy answers. “I mean, Prince Yeongpyeong…” he hastily corrects himself.

Soyong frowns for a second; however, her face soon lights up as she remembers her conversation with Wonbeom a few days ago. Apparently, the prince and Hwa Jin had decided to adopt a child right after everything in their relationship was settled. Soyong was truly happy for them, and to her surprise, Hwa Jin wrote a letter to her just yesterday, confessing that she is pregnant. That made both Soyong and Wonbeom even happier, excited to welcome not one, but two new members to the family.

“Did you come here with your adoptive dad?” Soyong asks and the boy simply nods in response. “So you’re my nephew? Nice to meet you Si Woo-ah!”

Soyong reaches her hand out to the boy, not sure if he’s ready for an unfamiliar woman to offer him a hug at their very first meeting. The boy looks at her hand, then at her smiling face, and hesitantly shakes hands with her.

“The prince is probably worrying about you right now.” Soyong turns to her attendants. “Can you search for him and inform the prince that Si Woo will be waiting for him here? He is probably searching nearby.”

Soyong returns her attention to the boy, who still looks very shy and nervous as he scratches his neck. She remembers how her orabeoni used to fix his clothes, scratch his neck and rearrange the belt on his very first hanbok. He was adopted as well and hadn’t been accustomed to the expensive fabric.

“Do you want to meet your cousin?” Soyong asks curiously, waving her hand to the crib where Hyun-ki is sleeping at the moment.

Together with the boy, they move closer to the crib, and the boy’s height is enough to peek inside. Hyun-ki sleeps peacefully, hugging his favorite rabbit toy with the different ears — one made by Soyong, the other by Wonbeom.

“This is Hyun-ki. He’s only seven months old,” Soyong introduces the heir to the boy. “He’s too young to join you in games, but I hope when he gets older you will be good friends…”

Si Woo suddenly starts sobbing and tears run down his face. He quickly wipes them away and tries to hold in his cries but is unable to.

“Si Woo-ah, what happened?” Soyong is scared that maybe he hurt himself somewhere and she didn’t notice. Physically, he seems fine, but his whole face turns red as he continues to sob loudly.

“They will send me back,” Si Woo cries. “My Lady said she will… she will have…” He can’t finish his sentence as he bites his lips.

But Soyong doesn’t need him to continue; she understood why he became so upset. She immediately drops to her knees, hugging the boy and drawing circles on his back with her hand, trying to calm him.

When she heard the news about Hwa Jin she also asked Wonbeom what would happen to the boy they already chose for adoption. She and Wonbeom were genuinely concerned, but Prince Yeongpyeong was offended the second they both even considered he and Hwa Jin could abandon a child they had already welcomed to their family.

“Si Woo-ah, it’s alright. No one will send you back,” Soyong whispers to the boy. “You are part of the family now.”

She moves away a bit to look at his face. Si Woo still has tears running down his cheeks, but he is slowly starting to calm down.

“Your parents are delighted to have you,” Soyong continues. She uses the sleeve of her dangui to wipe the boy’s tears away. “You know, when I was a little, I knew a boy like you…” She smiles, remembering her first encounter with Kim Byeong-In. “He became my new cousin, and even though we didn’t share the same blood, we still became very close.”

“He was like me?” Si Woo asks, finally stopping crying.

“Yes, my uncle adopted him,” Soyong confirms. “He felt insecure in his new home, but as time went on, he fell in love with his new family. He started to call me a sister right away!”

Soyong chuckles; she can’t say the same about Kim Jwa Geun. To his face, Byeong-In called him his father as was expected, and because her uncle was very strict. But over their first year together, when no adults were around, he was just Master Kim Jwa Geun. Maybe Byeong-In had felt something dark and sinister about his new father. But with Soyong, he was always comfortable and always called her a sister.

They sit and chat a bit at the table while Soyong continues her mission to make a gift for Wonbeom. Si Woo becomes really comfortable around her and even suggests some beads for the bracelet. Now, nothing indicates he had cried his eyes out just a few minutes ago, and he even giggles at Soyong’s stories from her childhood.

Prince Yeongpyeong finds them shortly after Soyong finishes her gift for the King. He rushes into the pavilion and immediately starts asking if Si Woo is alright, checking him from head to toe.

“You shouldn’t worry, ajubeonim4Ajubeonim – brother-in-law.,” Soyong assures him. “We had so much fun talking, right Si Woo-ah?

The boy nods and shares that he helped Soyong with the bracelet and was introduced to his cousin Hyun-ki.

“Let’s… let’s not tell Lady Hwa Jin that I lost you on the first day we were alone together,” Gyeong-eung suggests, glancing at Soyong for a second, seemingly addressing her as well. “It will be our secret.”

Soyong snorts at that. “Si Woo-ah, this is a perfect opportunity to bargain for some extra sweets on your way home…”

The prince gasps in shock. “Jesu5Jesu – sister-in-law.! What are you teaching my son?!”

“That’s how life goes.” Soyong shrugs; after all, she is her father’s daughter. Her father had managed to acquire the best goods from the whole of Joseon while still keeping his hands relatively clean from their clan’s dirty deeds.

The prince clicks his tongue, shaking his head in disapproval, but when he and the boy leave the pavilion, Soyong hears Si Woo asking for caramel sweets. Gyeong-eung glances at Soyong a final time, looking a bit peeved, but Soyong only waves her hand in goodbye with a smile.

Soon Hyun-ki wakes up and Soyong places him on her lap while she reads another scroll with inner palace suggestions. He doesn’t understand anything but sits calmly, playing with the ties of Soyong’s dangui. He’s at an age when anything could end up in his mouth, and even if Soyong tugs the ties back from him, he may try to eat it again.

“Hyun-ki-ah, wait a bit. We are going on a picnic soon.” Soyong sighs, pushing her embroidery kit away from his reach. It has too many thin strings and little beads he can swallow.

Suddenly she hears one of her maids gasping. When she lifts her head towards where her attendants are standing, they are all now looking away from the pavilion, giggling and blushing.

“Your Highness must see this!” Hong Yeon joyfully waves her hands, beckoning Soyong to come closer. Curious about what has made all her attendants so excited, Soyong rises to her feet with Hyun-ki in her arms and walks towards them.

At first, she doesn’t understand what exactly she’s seeing. From afar, the path to the pavilion is colored red, pink, and white, and somehow the road is moving. And only after taking a closer look does she understand she is seeing a procession of people carrying flowers. But not just any flower — roses, many, many roses. At the head of the procession is the King, and while she can’t see his face behind the huge bouquet of light pink roses, his crown that peeks above the flowers makes her recognize him.

Delightfully surprised, Soyong goes down the stairs from the pavilion to greet the King. She assumes he really was offended that she didn’t count his previous bouquet towards their courtship. Otherwise, she can’t imagine why a whole garden of flowers is here.

“Your Majesty!” Soyong cheerfully exclaims, making him and the whole procession behind him stop.

Wonbeom lowers the bouquet enough for Soyong to finally see his happy face: “My Queen, you are here!”

“I assumed it would be difficult for Your Majesty to get up the pavilion stairs…” Soyong examines the bouquet from all sides. “Is this all for me?”

She inhales the aroma, and Hyun-ki, in his usual manner, tries to reach the nearest flower to eat it. Quickly, Soyong foils his plan, moving him away to a safe distance. She has grown so used to it that she barely notices her own actions.

“Yes, my Queen.” Wonbeom looks so proud of himself. “There are exactly 518 roses, one for each day since we first met in the palace.”

Soyong gasps — did he really count how many days have passed? Her husband is really the best in courtship once he really wants to impress her. She needs to step up her game; her gift of a bracelet now looks so trivial in comparison.

“You didn’t have to,” Soyong mumbles, not sure if she is saying it because he really didn’t or because she feels foolish with her own simple gift.

“My Queen deserves all the flowers in the world,” Wonbeom continues with his eyes shining as if he is the one who has received all these flowers.

“I… I prepared something for Your Majesty as well,” Soyong reluctantly admits.

Wonbeom quickly gives the bouquet to the Head Eunuch, his only attendant whose hands are free. The old man steps back from the force with which the King shoves the flowers onto him.

Soyong on the other hand, asks Hong Yeon to take Hyun-ki, and the prince moves into Yeon’s safe hands.

“What is it?” Wonbeom looks excited like a young boy, no different from Si Woo from before.

“Give me your hand,” Soyong commands and Wonbeom offers his hand with his palm facing up.

Soyong gently takes his hand and moves the fabric of the red Gonryongpo sleeve away, baring his wrist. She pulls the bracelet out of her own sleeve and carefully ties it around Wonbeom’s wrist. She sighs softly when she finishes, preparing herself for the little speech she had been thinking about ever since she came up with the gift idea.

She turns his hand so Wonbeom can better see the pattern of the bracelet: “This is a dongsimgyeol6Dongsimgyeol – is a traditional knot, also known as “one mind” or “binding two hearts forever” knot since it was used to decorate the letter containing a marriage pledge between the bridegroom’s family and bride’s family. knot,” she starts explaining, suddenly feeling nervous. “When a bride and groom agree to the marriage, their families exchange letters sealed by a dongsimgyeol knot, which means…”

“One mind,” Wonbeom whispers, finishing for her.

“And the bond of two hearts,” Soyong adds. “We are already married, but I wish for us to share a fateful bond.” She lifts her other hand and moves the sleeve from her dangui away, revealing an identical bracelet of her own. She moves her wrist to be side by side with his: “I promise to be forever bonded with you…”

“And I with you,” Wonbeom promises. “Thank you for this wonderful gift, my Queen!”

“It’s not 518 roses, but I put my whole heart in these bracelets,” she awkwardly jokes.

It is time for their picnic and so they walk toward the garden where Soyong wishes for them to spend time together. She carries her basket and the lone rose she sneaked from the huge bouquet Wonbeom brought before the eunuchs took the rest of the flowers away to Huijeongjeon Hall7Huijeongjeon Hall – King’s residence.. Hyun-ki is now in Wonbeom’s arms, and the King can’t stop showing his son the bracelet Soyong made.

Soyong shakes her head; her King looks like a little boy bragging about something only he has. He’s lucky that Hyun-ki is too small to talk back and count all the presents Soyong has given him, which would surely make Wonbeom realize who’s the real winner here.

“One day, my son, you will meet someone extraordinary,” Wonbeom says in a know-it-all voice. “And you can exchange bracelets of fate as your mother and I did…”

Soyong rolls her eyes at Wonbeom’s grandiose name for the simple bracelet. But she must admit, it sounds very good to her ears.

They continue their walk side by side. The early autumn gardens look very beautiful and Wonbeom explains to Hyun-ki why the leaves are changing colors. Their son listens attentively, pointing to a tree’s crown, but he can’t talk yet, so Wonbeom just continues to tell him about the seasons.

Wonbeom’s voice is so soft and the timbre is so captivating that Soyong feels hypnotized by him. The picture of him with Hyun-ki sitting comfortably in his arms is so natural, so adorable, that Soyong can’t help but have some unexpected thoughts.

Wonbeom is a great King, but being a father is something he’s the best at. He was created for it. And for the first time in her whole life, she thinks she wishes to have more children with this man. Her first pregnancy was unplanned, so she has never had these thoughts before. Even when she was getting ready to become the Queen, reading all the teachings on how she must please her husband and give the country the heir to the throne, she considered it only as a duty, nothing more.

“Your Majesty,” Soyong whispers, stopping all of a sudden.

Wonbeom doesn’t notice at first, continuing with his steps, until eventually he turns to look at the unexpectedly empty space beside him. His eyes search until he finds her, and his brows raise in a silent question.

“Am I a good mother?” she suddenly asks. Maybe she wasn’t made for it, for parenting in general, as she didn’t naturally think about having dozens of children. She loves being a mother, but does that make her a good parent? She won’t ask him for more kids if she’s not confident she’s good at it. “What do you think?”

“What is this sudden question? Of course you are.” Wonbeom approaches her with Hyun-ki in his arms. “When he starts talking, I’m sure our son will compliment you too.”

“And you are a wonderful father, Your Majesty,” Soyong passionately declares. “Even better than you are as a King.”

“I guess…I always wanted a family of my own.” Wonbeom smiles, lowering his head in sudden shyness.

“My question might be sudden, but I realized this just now…” Soyong starts babbling. “No, I think I might have thought about it involuntarily for a while now. It just never formed into words…”

“You are scaring me, my Queen.” Wonbeom reaches out his free hand to take hers and squeeze it a bit, to give her comfort. “Is something bothering you?”

“Yes, something is really bothering me, Your Majesty.” Soyong’s voice sounds a bit whiny. Why didn’t she think to talk about having more babies earlier? “Do you wish to have more children with me?”

“What?” Wonbeom blinks. He takes a deep breath in and opens his mouth to say something again but only silently mouths: “What?”

“I want to have a big family with you. I wish to be the mother of your many children,” Soyong bursts out in one breath.

“Are… Are you sure?” Wonbeom looks so confused as he peers into her eyes to make sure he heard her right. “You’re not saying it under pressure? No one persuaded you? Not the ministers or anyone else?”

“Wonbeom-ah, do you really think I can be forced to do something I don’t want to?” Soyong smiles widely. He knows her very well and yet still asks these silly questions. “When I see you and Hyun-ki together, I think you can easily carry two kids since you have two strong arms. Or one more could sit on your shoulders, while you tell the kids about the birds and trees they see in the gardens…”

“Where are you in this scenario?” Wonbeom’s eyes now glisten with happy tears. Quickly, his lips flutter back and forth into a smile as if he’s not sure what emotion to show.

“I’m walking by your side, holding our son or daughter’s little hand.” Soyong boops Hyun-ki’s nose with her pointer finger, making him laugh. “And we are probably discussing books or planning a horseback riding activity. Don’t you remember? It was your idea.” Soyong smiles at Wonbeom, her own eyes holding unshed tears of joy as well now.

Overwhelmed with feelings, Wonbeom tugs Soyong into a tight embrace, almost smushing Hyun-ki into her. She carefully hugs him back with one arm and uses the other to help hold Hyun-ki. She feels how his body shakes in silent sobs and she’s sure the tears are now falling freely from his eyes. He whispers a mix of gratitude and her name over and over.

“Your Majesty shouldn’t thank me for anything.” Soyong laughs, rubbing his back. “This is our mutual wish.” She kisses the exposed part of his neck. “You need to be ready. This time you will have to be more involved!”

She knows it’s not fair for her to say that since he wasn’t by her side during her pregnancy only because she pushed him away herself. But he must know this time she expects him to go all-in with the whole process, not only the pleasure part. He sniffs, moving away a bit to look at her. His eyes are red now, but he looks like the happiest man in the world. Soyong giggles at her overly emotional husband and wipes his cheeks clean of tears.

“I will do everything that is needed!” he passionately promises. “I’ll bring all the rare food you crave at night and… and… give you a foot massage and…”

“How do you know all that?” Soyong’s eyes widen in shock.

She turns to look at her two friends who have been walking behind them. Court Lady Choi and Hong Yeon are both smiling widely, and they nod, confirming her suspicions. They reported everything to him!

“His Majesty ordered to fill one of the kitchen storages with anything Your Highness could wish for when your food cravings became strange,” Court Lady Choi shares.

“One day he traveled into the mountains to bring back the rare flowers you wished to have in your room because their aroma helped you sleep better,” Hong Yeon adds.

Soyong remembers it all, how she bothered her friends and maids with silly demands. Her body had craved the strangest things, from food to aroma, or a specific amount of light in her room. She had been a pregnant harpy at times, especially when she felt unsatisfied. She later apologized to everyone who had to endure her mood swings and everything else that came along with her pregnancy.

“You did that for me?” Soyong’s gaze shifts back to Wonbeom and he simply nods. “Even when I was so terrible to you?”

“The woman I love was going through hardships, mentally and physically. I would do anything for you and our child,” Wonbeom simply says.

“And Her Highness brought three volumes of rare military books written by her own hand when His Majesty started the military reform.” Soyong turns around to look at Hong Yeon, who has just sold out her secret project. It was right after their second separation, after Hyun-ki was born. She had wished to help with the reforms, and so she read all the military books she could find.

Now it’s Wonbeom’s turn to look surprised: his mouth hangs open and he blinks a few times in disbelief.

“Her Highness spent many nights writing down the best practices and tactics,” Court Lady Choi continues. “Until it turned out to be a whole new series of books.”

“I knew Du Il wasn’t bright enough to write those!” Wonbeom laughs. “They really came from you?”

“I didn’t plan it at first… I just wanted to know more since you were starting to prepare your reform.” Soyong scratches her neck awkwardly. “But the more I read and wrote down in notes to myself, the more I wished to share it with you… and it ended up in three books.”

“Your notes were very useful, my Queen,” Wonbeom assures her. “Ya, I even started paying Du Il more based on it!”

Soyong feels a sense of pride when she hears his praise. She had only wished to be closer to him, even if they were separated. By reading something she wasn’t that knowledgeable about, unlike Wonbeom and Bong Hwan, she felt closer to her King. And she didn’t realize how, but she grew so interested that she continued to learn about it even after finishing her three volumes. That helped her understand that she loves politics beyond her small part as the Queen. She can do much more than just manage the inner court rules. The first step was her effort to make women’s lives easier, but she doesn’t have to stop there.

“You have no idea how much those words mean to me, Your Majesty. Thank you,” she says softly, moving forward to kiss his cheek.

The food for the picnic is forgotten and only Hyun-ki has his milk. He ends up sitting on Wonbeom’s lap as his father carefully feeds him while the three of them sit on a blanket in a quiet and beautiful spot in the garden. Soyong uses her knee to hold up a book and write down all the baby names Wonbeom comes up with. Wonbeom suggests only girl names and Soyong has to remind him she can’t physically control who will be born and that they need to come up with boy names too.

When they part ways until the evening, Soyong has dozens of names for their future child. She wonders how they will pick a final name for the boy or girl because they like so many! And after finishing her daily duties and getting Hyun-ki settled in his room when he falls asleep, she comes back to the list and adds even more names.

“Soo Ah?” Soyong comes up with a new name, looking at the smiling Court Lady Choi. Hong Yeon helps undress Soyong, preparing her for her bath. “Jin Woo?” She turns to Hong Yeon now who is smiling as well.

“Suuuuung… Sung min?” Soyong mumbles another name later in her warm bath.

The rose petals are floating on the surface and the room is illuminated with countless candles. Soyong breathes in the calming aroma, and with her eyes closed she dips lower into the water, completely relaxing. She hums a melody, trying to remember more names, maybe from old songs. But nothing else comes to her mind anymore.

“Could I have more warm water, please?” Soyong asks without opening her eyes but hears no answer or movement. “Is anyone there?” she calls out again but is too lazy to open her eyes or talk louder.

She almost begins to open her eyes when she finally hears the doors opening, and soon she feels more warm water pouring into her bath.

She wonders where her husband is now and why it is taking him so long to come home again! He had better not distract her with ramyeon this time; they don’t need that kind of prelude when they are on a mission to conceive more children.

“Does my Queen need anything else?” Wonbeom’s voice startles her all of a sudden.

Soyong’s eyes fly open so fast that it makes Wonbeom chuckle for a moment. She sits straight up in the bath, focusing her gaze on her husband who stands barefoot on the wooden floor. He wears his bright white bathing garments and she can already tell there’s not much more clothes underneath.

The King’s bath is constructed more like a pool inlaid into the floor so Wonbeom walks by the edge of the bath and lowers onto one knee before Soyong.

“I’m sorry I didn’t bring food this time, my Queen. I didn’t want anything distracting us.” He places his large palm on the side of her head, caressing her hairline with his thumb. “I hope you don’t mind…”

Instead of answering, Soyong quickly pounces on him, a hand hooking behind his neck and her lips crushing against his. He immediately moves his lips against hers and lets her effectively drag him into the warm water with her.

Author’s notes

First of all, I’m sorry I didn’t post anything for so long. I felt so guilty that stopped posting reviews as well XD

This chapter was challenging to write because it’s overloaded with fluff and idk what I love more: their cute mornings, Hyun-ki’s desire to eat everything he sees, Soyong keeps coming up with kids’ names or Cheoljongs reaction to her wanting more kids with him <3 They are all too adorable to handle.

However, the next chapter was the hardest to finish, I was writing it so slow I thought it never ends. It’s SMUT all the way because you know, they are on a mission to have more babies, so they need some work to do. However, I tried to focus more on feelings and the word I kept in mind was: worshiping. I hope I’ll post it sooner! >_>

  • 1
    Gonryongpo – Scarlett dragon robe.
  • 2
    Dangui is an upper garment with a white collar tied together by ribbons. The other name for this garment is jeogori.
  • 3
    Norigae – s a typical, traditional Korean accessory used in Hanbok, which can be hung on goreum (coat strings) of a woman’s jeogori or on her chima.
  • 4
    Ajubeonim – brother-in-law.
  • 5
    Jesu – sister-in-law.
  • 6
    Dongsimgyeol – is a traditional knot, also known as “one mind” or “binding two hearts forever” knot since it was used to decorate the letter containing a marriage pledge between the bridegroom’s family and bride’s family.
  • 7
    Huijeongjeon Hall – King’s residence.

4 thoughts on “Chapter 29: My gift for you

  1. Mildred Abodakpi June 10, 2023 / 9:04 pm

    We are just happy to have you back. Take as long as you need to. The fact that she have this gift that you are willing to share with us- for free- is enough. Wishing you loads of inspiration for the next chapter

    • orladark June 10, 2023 / 10:18 pm

      Yay, thank you! I’m glad someone still read them <3 I hope to post faster this time, at least next chapter that only needs editing. I hope you'll like it <3

  2. stalecupcake June 11, 2023 / 8:45 am

    OMG. I have no cellular coverage and literally in the middle of a lake trying to read this chapter. I could not believe my eyes when my signal picked up a notification about your fic. 🤓🤩

    As mentioned before, I will be here, ready to read anything you write! So no need to feel guilty! Though I hope I did not add pressure by my random comments… 😅

    Their teasing is hilarious. I am unsure how the servants can keep up with all the fluff! It really adds the sense of closure to how happy they both were at the end of the show — with their genuine smiles and twinkle in their eyes. So thank you for including the details that we all wondered but was not covered. I look forward to know how their mission goes. 👍🙈

    I personally think CJ’s reaction was the strongest. I wanted to pat him in the shoulder! 🥹 You are right though; he is emotional and really keeps his word to SY. SY, on the other hand, is so welcoming and motherly, and can’t help be happy for her!

    Anyway, here’s to hoping my comment goes through.

    • orladark June 15, 2023 / 12:29 am

      Thank you, I love reading your comments! <3

      Servants are shippers too with Hong Yeon being the head of fan club lol

      CJ is the sweetest, his family means so much to him, more then Kingdom <3 I imagine it can be only this way after he lost so many when he was a teen :'(

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