Chapter 31: Made of white jade

Wonbeom’s excitement about having another baby is so adorable that it seems like no one in the palace has the immunity to resist his enthusiasm.

Every single day he and Soyong talk about babies. With each other. With friends. With attendants. With Hyun-ki, who doesn’t understand a word, but nonetheless smiles happily seeing his parents so delighted.

There are no limits to Wonbeom’s joy and his countless ideas regarding kids. He orders the preparation of a room for the kids to play in Huijeongjeon Hall1Huijeongjeon Hall – King’s residence. and another two for them to sleep in, because of course both kids will live with them for longer.

And to Soyong’s surprise, one day Wonbeom declares he wishes to learn how to braid hair, and in the blink of an eye he is seated behind Soyong as he practices on her. From that day, every morning while breakfast is prepared for them, Wonbeom braids Soyong’s hair under Hong Yeon’s guidance.

At first, Soyong thought it was very cute for her husband to learn something feminine to bond with their possible future daughter. The mental image of father and daughter spending each morning braiding hair is so adorable that Soyong is happy to be Wonbeom’s model for practicing.

Sometimes the braid turns out too loose or messy and Hong Yeon had to redo everything later. Sometimes it’s crooked, but it is not very noticeable within her hairdo and hairpins. However, Soyong wishes to encourage Wonbeom to try again every next morning.

Today’s braid feels too tight. Soyong bites her lips, holding back a whining sound that is about to break through. She hisses as she feels her hair tugged back with too much force. She tells herself to be patient, but if she doesn’t say anything now, she will have to spend the entire day with a headache.

Soyong glances at Hong Yeon and Court Lady Choi, who silently observe her torture with sorrowful looks on their faces. They would say something in Soyong’s defense, but she herself forbade them, cherishing how much Wonbeom is excited to learn for their future girl. However, even her patience has limits:

“You must really want to have a daughter,” Soyong lets out through clenched teeth. Lately, she feels less of a desire to hold back her temper.

“Umh-hu,” Wonbeom mumbles something affirmative in response without losing focus on his work.

“When I said last time that the braid was too loose, I didn’t mean I wish to lose all my hair, Your Majesty!” She spills out her frustration and immediately feels horrible. Wonbeom is so thoughtful to learn how to braid hair for their child and she responds by lashing out like this.

“It seems I can’t do this right yet.” She hears Wonbeom’s sulky voice puffing words out behind her. However, he mostly sounds frustrated with himself rather than sad over her sarcasm.

He loosens her braid free and starts over, gentler now: “Does this feel better, my Queen?”

“Yes, I very much appreciate it,” Soyong breathes out, relaxing. “What made you decide to learn this skill in particular?”

She has never asked this before because she has been too busy swooning over her husband being the best dad possible. But now she wonders where this sudden urge to braid hair comes from.

And by Wonbeom’s long pause, she senses that there may be a story behind it. And since he doesn’t tell her right away, he must be thinking it’s silly. But, it’s not ridiculous enough for him to give up on his objective. She feels her husband tense behind her and patiently waits for him to answer her question.

“It’s father-in-law,” Wonbeom finally starts in a slightly whiny voice.

So this is really something ridiculous, Soyong thinks with a chuckle.

“He always brags how he gave his only daughter all the best and did everything for you…”

That is true — her father is a tough competitor when it comes to raising a child, especially a girl. She smiles softly, remembering her carefree childhood and how many things were allowed for her. She could do literally anything and her father would only encourage her no matter how strange her ideas were. However, even her father made some mistakes. Pursuing for her to have his dream as her own to the point of almost obsession eventually led her to darkness when she had to accept the harsh reality of her dream’s rejection. She didn’t receive it well, not at all. If she had sooner realized the depth of sins her family kept committing, she would have been better prepared for palace life.

Nonetheless, Soyong is grateful to her father for his care and love. After losing his beloved wife and Soyong’s mom, he tried twice as hard to give Soyong the best possible life. She grew up to be the woman she is now thanks to him as well.

“I’m glad my father inspired you in that way,” Soyong teases her husband.

“I thought that our daughter would probably spend most of her time with you,” Wonbeom explains, finishing the braid. “So, I thought about how I could also bond with her, and this just sort of came to me.” He turns Soyong towards him and continues: “The fact that your father never did it is only a pleasant bonus.”

Soyong can only laugh, imagining how Wonbeom will boast about it. But he still doesn’t know her father well enough: he won’t be envious but proud to hear about it.

“Thank you.” Soyong kisses Wonbeom’s cheek in gratitude, making him smile shyly and look so boyish.

Now it’s Hong Yeon’s turn to finish her hair with pins and a binyeo. By the time everything is done, their breakfast is ready and they can start eating.

However, Soyong soon notices the exchanged looks between her husband and Court Lady Choi. It’s not the first time she has caught them or Hong Yeon: she has found the three of them whispering amongst each other a couple of times and they stopped the second Wonbeom detected her nearby presence.

Soyong puts her spoon on the table with such force that Wonbeom jumps out of his seat at the loud thudding sound it makes.

“Do you all think I’m blind?” Soyong coldly asks, shifting her gaze between her husband and her friends. “What secret are you keeping from me?”

“My Queen, don’t exaggerate…” Wonbeom smiles widely, but upon seeing her strict look, he sighs and confesses: “I just want for us to spend a day together and I asked your friends’ help to arrange that.”

Soyong narrows her eyes: this sounds too suspicious. If he wants to spend a day together he could’ve simply asked. By this point, the whole palace knows they’re planning another baby and they could use that excuse to skip their royal duties sometimes. In a way, it is a royal duty as well; after all, another son would secure Wonbeom’s reign even more.

“Oh-ho, don’t give me that look,” Wonbeom puffs out. “Can you imagine how hard it is to arrange a surprise for an attentive wife like you?”

“Flattering won’t help you…” Soyong lets out a little laugh before his words fully sink in. “Wait, a surprise?” The sarcastic notes in her voice have disappeared, leaving only pure excitement.

“What surprise?” She curiously moves forward across their breakfast table.

Wonbeom also moves forward, to the point of their noses almost touching: “It won’t be a surprise if you know.”

Intrigued by his words, she lets it slide for now, secretly elated for the surprise to come. But they finish their breakfast and have a long walk around the gardens and the lake with Hyun-ki and no surprise is to be found. Soyong starts feeling a bit cheated — did she get excited too soon?

“Am I boring or does he genuinely want to sleep already?” Wonbeom jokes, looking at Hyun-ki closing his eyes and his head swaying forward.

Her husband is completely oblivious to her mood change. He can’t just tease her and then not have it lead to anything! But Soyong can’t sulk too much around him, not when he looks so lovely with their sleepy son in his arms.

“He’s still at an age when he needs more sleep,” Soyong assures her husband. “He loves hearing your voice. Even in the womb, whenever he heard you he always became so calm.”

“You are flattering me, my Queen.” Wonbeom chuckles. “Du Il gets bored to death with my speeches, even though he’s paid to do the job!” he complains.

Soyong smiles warmly at him: “Even if no one else is ready for it, I will always gladly listen to your ramblings.”

They decide it’s time to leave Hyun-ki in the secure arms of Hong Yeon and let him sleep peacefully in his crib. Their little boy whines in his sleep when Wonbeom gently passes him into Hong Yeon’s arms but soon calms down, sensing a familiar person. Among everyone who helps Soyong and Wonbeom with Hyun-ki, Hong Yeon is the prince’s favorite. Soyong even thinks it might run in their shared blood, as Yeon has been taking care of Soyong since a young age.

Watching her friend walk away with the prince, Soyong tries to keep an unbothered look, but lunchtime is soon and she still doesn’t know what the surprise is about. She has noticed him conspiring with her friends for a few days, so surely it must be something big that needed extra preparations.

“When!” Soyong bursts out eagerly. “When will I find out about the surprise?”

Wonbeom only laughs: “As expected, you’re so impatient, my Queen!”

He takes her hand and leads her across the courtyard, between various hanoks2Hanok – a house., to the stables. There, he leaves her for a moment and comes back with a bay horse with a shiny black mane and tail. Soyong lifts her hand to stroke the horse’s long face.

“Do you remember my promise to teach you how to ride a horse?” Wonbeom asks, petting the horse’s wide neck. “When we are expecting another child, your strict Court Lady Choi will forbid us from having these lessons. However, I want to give you the very first one before that happens.”

“So I can look forward to when we can resume these lessons?” Soyong continues his thought, petting the horse. It shakes its head and lets out a neigh in response.

“Should we change then?” Soyong looks down at her ornate hanbok with gold embroidery and then at Wonbeom’s bright red Gonryongpo3Gonryongpo – the scarlet dragon robe.. These can’t be suitable clothes for a horseback lesson.

“Worry not, my Queen. I prepared everything.” Wonbeom leads her to the storage area which holds everything related to horses, such as saddles and brushes.

Wonbeom helps her undress from the many layers of her usual royal garments and dress into a much simpler attire. She thinks it’s the first time they are undressing for something other than intimacy. Wonbeom is fully consumed in his task, attentively tying every single knot, and then he slides a light-colored blue jacket over her shoulders, finalizing the look. He then pulls out all her golden pins and replaces them with one simple binyeo.

Wonbeom walks around her, checking his work, and stops in front of her, looking down at her hands.

He frowns, taking both of her hands in his: “I think the ring won’t let you hold the reins comfortably.” He shakes his head and removes the floral ring from her pointer finger.

“But why am I still in a dress and not in a male hanbok? Wouldn’t it be more comfortable than a skirt?” Soyong asks. The dress she wears now has fewer layers so it’s much easier to move in, but it still can’t be compared with male attire.

“True, but we are going to use one horse this time. It’s more suitable for a date as well,” Wonbeom answers, shrugging.

“Now…” He moves both of his arms sideways. “Will my Queen also help me to change?”

Soyong only chuckles at the silly, suggestive movement of his eyebrows.

First, she clicks open the belt’s buckle and puts it aside on the table. After that, she reaches out to the tie keeping the Gonryongpo together and tugs the ribbon towards her. She then moves closer to Wonbeom, smoothly removing the red robe from his shoulders. She neatly folds it and places it on the table next to her own clothes. Next is the crown’s turn, and it ends up on the table alongside her phoenix hair accessories.

Soyong walks behind Wonbeom, placing the upper garment of the blue hanbok on Wonbeom’s shoulders. But when she walks around to stand in front of him and tie the sides together, she hesitates. Soyong places her palm on Wonbeom’s chest, feeling his heart’s steady beat.

“Do we really have to go right now?” Soyong whispers, lifting her gaze to Wonbeom. He takes a deep breath in, swallowing hard, and she knows he is thinking the same now.

Licking her lips, she moves both her hands behind his neck and goes on her tiptoes. She inhales shakily, their noses almost touching.

“My Queen, if we don’t go now…” Wonbeom whispers back, breathing heavily. “We will have to return to the palace in the dark…”

“So?” Soyong murmurs. “Wouldn’t a starry night and a shining moon be romantic companions on our ride back?”

Still, Wonbeom moves away without giving her even a quick kiss. They both know that when they are in the mood it’s hard to stop, even after the most innocent of kisses.

“Please, my Queen, follow the plan,” he scolds her playfully. “I spent so much time preparing this surprise!”

“But…” Soyong tries to protest but only ends up having Wonbeom’s pointer finger on her lips, stopping her from talking.

“There will be plenty of time for that later, my Queen,” he strictly declares, moving away from her.

Soyong can only sigh and pout; she will surely take her revenge somehow and he may regret this. After Wonbeom finishes dressing, they finally go outside and approach the horse. Soyong reluctantly accepts Wonbeom’s hand since she knows well enough that she can’t climb onto a horse’s back on her own just yet.

She still feels upset as they get going, but soon the excitement overtakes her. The wind whistles in her ears as they ride outside the palace yard and enter the forest.

“It’s so nice!” Soyong shouts for Wonbeom to hear.

“I guess I’m forgiven!” She hears his immediate response behind her, making her laugh cheerfully.

They find a clearing for their lesson not far away from the road. Wonbeom gets down from the horse and takes the reins into his hands.

“Now my Queen, first put your feet into the stirrups,” Wonbeom commands, watching her as she follows his directions. “Hold the reins confidently…” Soyong tightly squeezes her hands, making sure she can hold on no matter what. She’s thankful he was so thoughtful to suggest not wearing any rings — it would be really uncomfortable for sure. “If you wish to slow down or stop the horse, just pull the reins towards yourself…”

Soyong nods, trying it out even though they are standing in the middle of the clearing. The horse steps from side to side, shaking its head. Soyong gasps, suddenly feeling fear when Wonbeom isn’t behind her on the horse but standing on the ground.

“You don’t need to be nervous, my Queen.” Wonbeom pats the horse’s strong neck. “It senses your nervousness and starts feeling it too.”

“So we both scare each other?” Soyong mumbles, still feeling unsafe.

“This is the calmest horse in the palace and it won’t make any harsh moves, trust me.” Wonbeom smiles at Soyong. “Here…” He takes her hand and places it on the horse’s neck. “Now trust each other…”

Soyong strokes the horse’s neck and slowly starts to relax. When the horse shakes its head again, Soyong gently pats it as Wonbeom did before and the horse soon calms down too.

“Does it have a name?” Soyong asks curiously. “If we have to bond, I should know its name, right?”

Wonbeom nods, smiling, as if he had waited for this question: “This is Spirit.”

Soyong moves forward to the horse’s ear: “Hello Spirit, I’m Kim Soyong. Let’s behave, shall we?”

She notices Wonbeom’s huge smile as he watches them together. She hasn’t learned anything yet, but he already looks so proud. She must succeed no matter what so they can run away from the palace together more often.

“Now that you know each other a bit more…” Wonbeom continues, taking the reins more comfortably, “give Spirit a little kick to start moving.”

Soyong follows his command and kicks very carefully and gently. Spirit only snorts and doesn’t move. She suspects it must be waiting for a more confident command, and after taking the reins more tightly, she kicks the horse’s sides a bit stronger and it finally works. Spirit starts walking, with Wonbeom still holding the sides of the reins for more control.

“If you want to go faster…” Wonbeom starts, but Soyong already gets how it works and makes Spirit change pace to a light trot. Now Wonbeom has to almost run to keep up. “Good! You learn fast, my Queen!”

They stay in the clearing for a while longer as Soyong learns how to make Spirit make a full stop and start walking again. Navigating the horse proves to be a harder task: more often it just walks where it pleases and not where Soyong wants it to be. At one point, Wonbeom bursts out laughing when instead of following Soyong’s command the horse just stops and starts eating grass.

“I guess you’ve met a competitor in stubbornness,” Wonbeom comments, now trying to hold back a laugh after seeing Soyong’s angry glare at him.

While Spirit has a well-deserved rest, Soyong and Wonbeom decide to sit on the grass and relax too. Her head rests on his shoulder and his arm is wrapped around her. The place they chose for their lessons is very calm, and Soyong enjoys the open space where there is no one but her and Wonbeom around. The birds chirp and she even notices a squirrel climbing the nearest tree. She hardly remembers a time they have shared outside the palace as peaceful as this.

“I thought I would get a private lesson, but I got more than I expected,” Soyong whispers, closing her eyes and enjoying the summer light. “This feels nice… So quiet…”

“I know,” Wonbeom answers, kissing the top of her head. “It’s so nice that it’s hard to leave, but we have to…”

Soyong opens her eyes and sits up straight: “Already?” She blinks, dumbfounded. “It’s not far past noon!”

“I’m sorry, but we really need to keep going. It’s time.” Wonbeom points at the sun as if it confirms his words.

While Soyong really enjoyed the horseback lesson and this quiet moment of them just sitting together on the grass, she asks herself: is that it? The surprise he whispered about and planned with her friends all this time? Maybe she got too excited after hearing the word “surprise.” However, she doesn’t wish to show her slight disappointment and only smiles softly at him.

“If you say so.” Soyong moves to brush her lips against his. “Let’s go back…”

Wonbeom gets up first and reaches out his hand to help her stand. They climb on the horse’s back again and Wonbeom takes the lead. But to Soyong’s surprise, they ride in the opposite direction from the road back to the palace. Soon she recognizes the path between the tall pine trees — it’s the road to the royal villa outside the palace grounds.

“I never said the lesson was the one and only surprise,” Wonbeom answers as if knowing her unvoiced question.

They indeed arrive at the royal villa and pass by the guards at the gate. After helping Soyong jump down from the horse, Wonbeom leads her up the hill to the main hanok. Soyong looks down at his hand holding hers tightly and lifts her gaze to his wide back.

When she was just one of many candidates for the Queen’s selection, she followed the King everywhere, trying to get a glimpse of his face. But, she didn’t succeed in many attempts, almost giving up. Back then, she thought to herself how sick and tired she was from seeing the King’s back. Now it feels different as she watches him leading her. Now she doesn’t mind his back at all. Or when they are alone, sitting in their room, and she’s hugging him from the back, resting her cheek against his shoulder while he reads to her. Funny how things can change.

“Are we going to stay here for the night?” Soyong asks curiously, imagining a romantic dinner here with a great view of the mountains.

Wonbeom stops all of a sudden and turns to her: “We are definitely staying here, but that’s not what this surprise is about, Soyong-ah.”

Whenever Wonbeom switches to her given name, Soyong knows he’s about to say something very important and personal. Suddenly she notices his nervousness as he glances up the hill. She doesn’t see anything there, but something must be happening if he looks this nervous.

“Before we go, I must ask you something.” Wonbeom stands in front of her, taking both of her hands in his and looking down at them. His fingers caress her knuckles for a quiet moment before he continues: “I wish to ask you something before we meet everyone else…”

Soyong’s breath catches in her throat when she sees Wonbeom getting down on one knee before her. He lifts his eyes to look at her; his gaze is so hopeful that no matter what he asks, she will agree. She smiles softly and nods to him, encouraging him to continue.

“Our wedding was arranged, and as you know, back then I wasn’t the happiest groom. I couldn’t even imagine how happy you would make me. If I knew, I wouldn’t…” He pauses, lowering his head in shame.

Soyong knows how deeply Wonbeom feels everything, and even if she’s forgiven him, he must still have traces of guilt in his heart. She wants to say something, to assure him he shouldn’t blame himself anymore. She doesn’t wish for him to feel ashamed over this his entire life.

“And you weren’t entirely yourself too.” Wonbeom lifts his gaze back to her. “Maybe this is why you never wear traditional wedding rings.” His thumb traces the place on her pointer finger where her floral ring previously was.

Soyong is caught off guard; she really never thought about it. While she was possessed she really considered herself single, as she didn’t give him her heart and the wedding was forced on her. On both of them, as he just noted. And soon after she became the only inhabitant of her body and mind, a long period of separation started for them. When they finally reconciled for good, she simply didn’t think about it and had no idea it bothered him so much.

“Are you…” Soyong whispers, starting to guess the purpose of his speech.

“Soyong-ah, as a King I must love the country the most…but I am probably not the best King because nothing matters to me more than you and our family together.” Wonbeom sneaks his hand under his collar and pulls out two beautiful white jade wedding rings. How did he sneak them there when she helped him dress herself?

“Soyong-ah, will you marry me once more?” Wonbeom asks with hopeful eyes.

Soyong gasps in surprise. She thought he would ask her to wear the rings at last — she didn’t expect a whole wedding ceremony.

Soyong would be lying if she said she had never dreamed about her wedding. Even when she considered the position of Queen strictly as a duty, she still dreamed about her wonderful life as a married woman. And of course, she imagined her wedding to the King. Even though his face constantly changed in her imagination, she still felt giddy with joy. And after meeting Wonbeom and falling in love, her wedding was something she waited for even more eagerly. Her reason changed from duty to love and her feelings only increased her excitement — until harsh reality reminded her that life couldn’t be that easy.

So, she abandoned the idea of a dream wedding. It makes Wonbeom’s proposal even more meaningful. Knowing that he also wants to create a magical moment again makes Soyong further convinced they are fated to be together.

“Wonbeom-ah,” she whispers, suddenly hearing her voice cracking and tears gathering in her eyes. “I would marry you a thousand times if I could.”

In a heartbeat, he rises to his feet and sweeps her off the ground, spinning her around in circles. Soyong’s hands find support on his shoulders as she sees the whole world whirling around her. She laughs cheerfully, asking him to stop or she will become dizzy. And as usual, he obeys, stopping and looking up at her with a genuine, wide smile. Soyong has never seen him this happy, with his whole face glowing and his eyes twinkling.

Slowly, he puts her down on the ground, his eyes never leaving hers. Only for a moment does his gaze shift to her hand as he slips two rings on her index finger. The jade rings, in a rare white color, look good against her fair skin:

“As expected, my husband has good taste.” Soyong smiles, putting her hand with the rings against his chest.

His smile is somehow both shy and proud, and that makes Soyong think her husband is also incredibly cute. Without saying anything else, she goes on her tiptoes to finally share the kiss he robbed her of earlier.

His hands find their usual place as they slip to her lower back, and he presses her against him firmly. Soyong closes her eyes the moment before their lips meet in a slow and soft kiss. They savor the moment as their mouths lazily slide against each other. She can sense the fruit tea flavor on his lips.

The sense of time slips away from them, and if music from somewhere up the hill didn’t start playing, they would still be at the same spot until sunset. They part a little, breathing deeply and with their noses almost touching.

“I guess everyone grew bored waiting for us,” Wonbeom whispers, not moving even an inch away from her.

“We need to get going then,” Soyong answers, also not wishing to move from his embrace. The wedding ceremony is sweet, and she’s sure the people on the hill, whoever they are, are happy for them. But right now, she wants only her husband’s company.

“The sooner we start, the sooner…” Wonbeom places his forehead against hers.

“Everyone leaves…” Soyong completes his sentence breathily.

With their foreheads still touching, she lifts her gaze to look into his eyes. They do not need to exchange words anymore, communicating with their eyes alone now. They move away in unison, her hand slipping into his and he squeezes it confidently. They run up the hill, wishing to complete the ceremony and be left alone to enjoy their second wedding night in each other’s company.

The music on the hill is from a flute and the person playing it is none other than Director Hong, looking happy he doesn’t have to work. The other guests are scurrying around, preparing the table with food for the ceremony and arranging colorful lanterns on the trees.

And of course, Court Lady Choi, who is giving orders to everyone, notices Soyong and Wonbeom running first:

“Your Highness!” She starts in her usual scolding manner, but instead of continuing, she laughs and shakes her head. Out of breath, Soyong only smiles widely at her friend.

Everyone’s eyes are now turned to them, and after a moment of complete silence, everyone rushes to congratulate them. She and Wonbeom greet everyone and thank them for their words. Wonbeom gets many pats on his shoulders and even a kiss on the cheek from Du Il, which her husband tries and fails to avoid. Meanwhile, Soyong receives a hug from her father and faithful friends, while others gently grasp her hand and wish them happiness.

“Did she say yes?” Soyong hears the innocent voice of Kim Hwan and turns just in time to catch a glimpse of Wonbeom’s hilarious expression of disbelief at what he heard. In the next moment, everyone bursts out laughing.

They have to part from one another to change their clothes for the ceremony. While helping Soyong get ready, Hong Yeon chatters away, explaining how they had to secretly make all these preparations. Court Lady Choi suggests reducing the number of layers of ceremonial skirts and jackets since it’s not an official wedding, but Soyong rejects this idea. This wedding is going to be as real as it can be and she is even ready to wear the heavy ceremonial crown again. And maybe it’s because she’s so happy and excited, but for Soyong the layers of clothes and the heavy crown feel weightless.

She steps out of her room slowly and carefully with help from Hong Yeon and Court Lady Choi. But once she’s out in the garden beside the hanok, all she can see is Wonbeom’s smiling face behind the beads of his own ceremonial crown.

They take their respective places, facing each other with Wonbeom standing and Soyong sitting on her knees. The ceremony starts with Man-bok’s loud and confident voice leading them through every necessary part.

The whole time, Soyong and Wonbeom never look away from each other — not even when Soyong recognizes her father’s sudden sobbing. For Soyong, the whole world has narrowed down to this ceremony with only her family and close friends. This is her home — Wonbeom, their son, and all the people who have helped them make this happen.

The ceremony finishes with Soyong and Wonbeom giving each other their final bows, and as soon as Man-bok declares them a married couple everyone starts applauding.

Smiling from ear to ear, Soyong and Wonbeom leave their spot to sit at the head of the table. Their fingers intertwine as they walk with so many people congratulating them once more.

They both remove their uncomfortable headpieces and the fun part of the wedding starts. Only now does Soyong notice how many people have actually come, all of them with gifts or performances for them.

Her father gives a speech first, his eyes teary and his voice shaking with emotion. He congratulates them and asks them to take good care of each other as he considers both of them as his only children. He then returns to his seat and settles Hyun-ki on his lap. The prince looks so excited with so many people around that he seems to temporarily forget about omma4Omma – informal for mother aka mommy. and appa5Appa – informal for father aka daddy..

Next is Hwa Jin’s turn: she plays the gayageum while her adopted son Si Woo sings a song. Everyone loves it so much that Si Woo runs back to the table red from shyness from all of the applause.

Prince Yeongpyeong and Seo Hwi show off their martial art skills in a scripted dance of two swordsmen fighting.

Director Hong plays on the flute to accompany Kim Hwan’s reading of a romantic poem of his own writing. His voice shakes, but Soyong suspects the wedding has nothing to do with it. Her cousin seems more affected by Hong Yeon, who blushes at anything Seo Hwi says or does. Later, Soyong notices Hwan and Du Il sneak a bottle of wine and disappear from the main event. She truly wishes for them both to get over their crush on Hong Yeon and be happy on their own.

With everyone wishing to give a speech or performance, the wedding takes longer than expected. The evening slowly approaches, and as it gets darker the lanterns are lit up, making their little garden in front of the hanok even more beautiful.

Soyong rests her head on Wonbeom’s shoulder, starting to feel tired but loving every moment of their guests’ happy faces and kind words. She hadn’t even realized how many friends they actually have. They aren’t even all from the palace — even Wonbeom’s friends from Ganghwa Island are here, as well as Soyong’s old nanny and very first teacher.

The Head Eunuch gives an emotional speech, remembering his first impression of Wonbeom, which wasn’t very flattering. Wonbeom laughs, but Soyong notices how his ears turn red from embarrassment. He used to play a fool at court and the Head Eunuch remembers it all too vividly. Soon she gets the same treatment as Wonbeom, when the old eunuch starts imitating her own behavior before becoming the Queen.

The old eunuch sobs a little, but continues exposing the royal couple to everyone’s entertainment. At the end he places a book wrapped in cloth in front of Wonbeom and gives her husband a strange look. Feeling curious, Soyong moves forward to unwrap it, but Wonbeom slams his hand on top of the book. She turns to look at him, but he just slightly shakes his head, his cheeks a bright red.

Did he guess what the book is about?

Soyong nods and settles back into Wonbeom’s embrace. But the second he relaxes, she sneaks the book from the table and unwraps it from the cloth. He tries to get a hold of it, but Soyong is too quick, opening it to a page with pictures of people in very provocative poses.

She gasps, now understanding why the Head Eunuch used to remind Wonbeom about his “studies” so much. Soyong lets out a nervous chuckle and closes the book, hiding it under the cloth it was wrapped up with.

“I think Her Highness and His Majesty are very tired after a long day,” Court Lady Choi announces, bringing everyone’s attention to her.

Only now does Soyong realize everyone is silently watching them fight over a book full of dirty pictures. Her father awkwardly looks away, covering Hyun-ki’s eyes, and many other guests are blushing and giggling. For a moment Soyong feels embarrassed, but then she remembers these people have seen far more questionable things she and Wonbeom have done since they first met in the palace.

Wonbeom takes the opportunity to distract everyone with a speech. He stands from his seat, facing all the guests:

“We are really grateful to all of you for sharing this precious moment with us,” Wonbeom says with a soft smile.

“Thank you for making our wish come true,” Soyong says, also rising to her feet beside Wonbeom. She observes all the happy and smiling faces of their guests, truly grateful for them all.

“We wouldn’t stand here today, together, without your help,” Wonbeom adds.

“In all the different stages of our lives, you were with us. Thank you,” Soyong continues.

Without further ado, they both bow their heads to their guests, and Soyong immediately hears surprised whispers all around. It is not everyday that the King and Queen bow to those who are supposed to be below them. But she and Wonbeom are different; in the country they are building everyone will be equal.

Slowly, the guests stand up and walk towards them to say their goodbyes before leaving. Hyun-ki has already fallen asleep in his grandfather’s arms. Throughout the evening, Soyong saw her old nanny fussing around the prince, pinching his cheeks as she was totally charmed by him. The prince handled it without any whining or crying though.

Since Soyong and Wonbeom have decided to stay in the villa alone, they have to say goodbye to their son for the night. It’s just one night, but Soyong already has a yearning feeling from having to separate. She kisses both of his cheeks and promises to come back very soon. Wonbeom asks the prince to behave while omma and appa are away. Why do they sound as if they will be separated for months? Maybe this is how every parent feels.

Prince Yeongpyeong carries his son on his back; the boy is half asleep and can only mumble a simple bye with half-closed eyes. Du Il and Kim Hwan look totally inebriated, barely standing up straight with their flushed faces. But, they look absolutely happy with their arms around each other’s shoulders. It’s none other than their competitor, Seo Hwi, who decides to help them reach their homes safely. That leaves Hong Yeon looking rather disappointed when she leaves with Man-bok and Court Lady Choi.

Some of the last to leave are the attendants who help clean the place and prepare it for sleep. Soyong yet again expresses her gratitude for their help and promises to arrange something fun for them later.

With everyone gone, Soyong and Wonbeom are left completely alone in the huge villa. Their room is full of candles and flowers, but instead they decide to spend the night outside on the large veranda while the weather is still warm. They change into their sleepwear and carry all of their blankets outside. There, Wonbeom wraps Soyong in one thick blanket like a cocoon.

“It may be warm now, but I don’t want my wife to catch a cold,” he says in response to all of her protests.

She sulks and stubbornly unwraps herself enough to spread her arms sideways: “I’ll agree to this blanket prison only if you’ll be locked here too.”

With a joyful smile, Wonbeom sneaks behind Soyong and wraps his arms around her, locking them both in the blanket.

“My wife is so wise. Now I can do this all I want…” he whispers before attacking her cheek and neck with light kisses, making her giggle.

“I am starting to think, my dear husband, that you wanted this wedding even more than I did,” Soyong says between her laughter, feeling ticklish. He can’t stop calling her his wife, and to be honest, it melts her heart as much as when he calls her by her given name or uses his soft way of calling her his Queen.

“Maybe I did,” Wonbeom answers, utterly serious. Soyong turns her head to look into his sincere eyes. “I wanted us to have a fresh start and to give you the wedding you deserve.”

“We have had so many,” Soyong whispers, remembering how he first promised to understand her as an individual. That day he also stepped down on one knee before her. “Each felt very special.”

“I hope this time feels even more special. Do you know how hard it was to arrange all that without anyone spoiling the surprise for you? I put in so much effort to make this the most special fresh start ever,” he argues, pouting his lips.

Soyong must admit that when Wonbeom is so playful like this, she feels like he’s the cutest of her boys. And it’s really hard to compete with a baby as adorable as Hyun-ki!

“Thank you for making this day so memorable,” Soyong says softly in a half-whisper. “And I know what will make today even better.”

She moves Wonbeom’s hands under the shared blanket, placing his palms against her belly. For a moment Wonbeom simply blinks, not understanding, but soon he gasps so loudly that Soyong can’t hold back her laughter.

“Are you… Are you sure?” he finally whispers, pressing his palms as if trying to feel something.

“I still need to confirm with the royal physician, but I had so many things to do today,” Soyong explains. “But I feel like… I think I truly am with child, my husband.”

Without saying anything else, Wonbeom dives under the blanket and finds his way to her belly, placing his ear to it. Soyong lets out a squeak in surprise:

“This is too early, Wonbeom-ah!” she tells him, trying to make him move back up.

He refuses for a long moment, trying to find a better spot to listen, as if the baby could greet him with words. Only after Soyong assures him that he must wait for a few months to feel the first kick, does he emerge from under the blanket to face her.

Happiness is written all over Wonbeom’s face and Soyong can’t help but spread her lips in a smile. She places her palms against his cheeks, trying to memorize this special moment for the rest of her life. She wants to see this joyful face every time she closes her eyes when she feels too lonely in Huijeongjeon Hall without him.

Wonbeom touches her wrist, caressing it with his fingers, and moves his head sideways to kiss her palm. He then gently leads her into his tight embrace, burying his face in the crook of her neck:

“Soyong-ah, do you even realize how much I love you?” Wonbeom whispers.

“I know. I feel it every day…” Soyong murmurs in return. “Do you feel it too?” She breathes in his scent, feeling at home with his arms wrapped around her. “Do I make you feel loved?”

“Always.” Wonbeom kisses her neck right under her ear. “When I wake up, when I fall asleep, when you send a meal to my study, when you leave me little notes, or when you fix my robe for me…”

Wonbeom moves enough to see her face with adoring eyes and a wide smile. Soyong’s hand slides behind his neck, guiding him to press their foreheads together. They freeze for a moment, drowning in each other’s eyes, before Wonbeom moves to kiss her lips. Without interrupting their soft kiss, he lowers her down on her back, holding her steadily in his arms.

This is where she belongs, Soyong thinks, in his safe arms.

This is where he belongs, in her adoring eyes and tender touch.

Author’s notes

Hey, sorry for disappearing again. Actually, I finished this whole fic, just need more time for the beta to finalize it. And I started Rebel AU I talked about before as well. I post rarely but I do write a lot lol.

About the rings, you can read HERE more at mimi’s blog, I hope she doesn’t mind if I refer to her. Basically, single women wear one ring but married women wear two which symbolizes the harmony between husband and wife. When the husband dies, one ring is given to him while his faithful wife must wear the other one. Read mimi’s article, it’s quite interesting. I wrote the explanation in my own words because I don’t want to simply copy-paste someone else’s hard work.

  • 1
    Huijeongjeon Hall – King’s residence.
  • 2
    Hanok – a house.
  • 3
    Gonryongpo – the scarlet dragon robe.
  • 4
    Omma – informal for mother aka mommy.
  • 5
    Appa – informal for father aka daddy.

2 thoughts on “Chapter 31: Made of white jade

  1. stalecupcake August 29, 2023 / 7:18 am

    Hey, you, amazing writer, you!

    Been a while but it felt like you were always there because this fic’s tab is always open for me 🤭Was rereading and finally just caught up. So I am keen on the rest of the chapters! Wonder what else is in store after? More sexy time? More fluff? More babies?? 👀

    I really appreciate seeing their one big precious family… From CJ talking so comfortably with his father-in-law and SY’s friends — to SY to CJ’s own side of friends and family. I am so in love with the way you summed it up and included everyone in this one great finale. It all just makes sense! So wow! What a great surprise date, wedding, and baby reveal!

    So many happy things that I was in bliss reading the entire time. It probably took me an hour to read this chapter. Idk, maybe I’m slow but wanted to cherish it.

    And yesss rebel AU! You giving us hints of it feels like a trailer. An upcoming movie for Mr. KJH. 😭

    • orladark September 13, 2023 / 12:11 am

      Oh no, don’t complement me this much, I don’t know how to react! XD

      Thank you so much for being such a great reader and for visiting site to read here, I really appretiate it! <3

      PS another KJH movie or kdrama would be so good to have but we're again in a drough era. Fighting, we have fics to save us for now 😉

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