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As You Wish

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Do Kyungsoo is a prince. He’s known this since he was five and they put a crown on his head. He realized what a prince was when he was five as well, noticed how his mommy and daddy looked rather important to not just himself and his hyung. When he was five he started etiquette lessons on how a prince like himself should act.

When he was six Kyungsoo learned that he wasn’t quite like his brother, who instead of etiquette lessons was learning horseback riding and something called politics. While he was inside being taught to read and write, his brother was outside and having fun.

By the time Kyungsoo is eight he has been taught how to act and to never speak out of turn. He knows that his brother is first in line for the crown, therefore more important than he is. Seungsoo gets to talk whenever he wants and unlike himself, can say whatever he wants.

Kyungsoo isn’t sure why he’s supposed to be quiet while Seungsoo can be heard, but he knows he’ll get in trouble for speaking out of turn. So he doesn’t ask.

When he’s eight he also learns that he and his brother aren’t they only prince’s in the world. In fact there’s princesses as well. Kyungsoo has never met a princess but when he does he’s fascinated to find that there’s one like his brother who talks all the time. There’s a quiet one like him but that’s not what gets his attention.

His sole focus is on the prince, because Kyungsoo has never met another prince before. If you don’t count his brother. And although he wants to say hello and ask him if he gets to talk whenever he wants, he can’t, not while the adults are in the room and he’s supposed to be seen and not heard.

Kyungsoo learns that Prince Jongin is his hyung’s age and he can talk whenever he wants to. In fact, Jongin’s noona’s can talk when they want to as well. It seems like he’s the only one that is supposed to be quiet and he frowns, crossing his arms stubbornly as he waits for their parents to leave.

When they do he immediately sighs, shoulders slumping because he hates having to stand stiff like a tree. While he was concentrating on standing still and being quiet he came up with several questions to ask Prince Jongin.

But before he can move he gets attacked by the girls who pinch at his cheeks and tell him how cute he is and normally, Kyungsoo would smile and say thank you since it’s the polite thing to do, but his brother and Jongin are on the move and he doesn’t have time to accept ridiculous compliments.

With stealth he learned from escaping the library and his teachers, he avoids the prodding hands and rushes after his brother, nearly tripping on his own two feet as he catches up to them.

“Where are you going?” he huffs, frowning at his lack of invitation to go, well, wherever they’re going.

“I’m going to show Jongin my horse,” Seungsoo replies and he frowns further.

The horse stables are outside and across the court yard where he’s not allowed. In fact, he’s not allowed outside period unless he’s with more than one guard. Even then when he asks to leave the castle he’s almost always told no.

Nonetheless, it doesn’t hurt to try.

“Can I come?” he questions before biting his lip anxiously. He steals a glance at Prince Jongin and is surprised at how different he looks compared to his brother. But he doesn’t stare too long before looking back at Seungsoo and his hope deflates when his brother frowns.

“You know you’re not allowed outside, Kyungsoo.”

“But I’ll be with you and I’ll be really quiet and—

“And you’re not supposed to argue with me,” Seungsoo interrupts sternly, giving him the tiniest of glares so he shuts up.

Normally, Seungsoo isn’t mean to him and lets him slack off on his manners, but it seems being in the company of another Prince means he’s supposed to go back to his quiet self.

As an eight year old he wants to whine and beg and argue, but as a Prince he’s expected to behave.

“Sorry Seungsoo hyung,” he apologizes, avoiding eye contact with both Prince’s and bowing awkwardly before turning around and dragging himself back to the ballroom he was just in.

Upon arriving he discovers Jongin’s sisters whispering and giggling to themselves, downright laughing when they spot him.

Frowning, he eyes them skeptically, not knowing if he’s allowed to talk to them or not.

“Don’t worry, you can spend plenty of time with Jonginnie later!” the eldest chirps, followed by a giggle causing him to frown.

“Unnie!” the younger one gasps, hitting her sister on the arm.

And Kyungsoo realizes it doesn’t matter if he’s allowed to talk to them or not. He doesn’t want to.

Instead he sneaks off to the library to read and bore himself to sleep…since that’s pretty much all he’s allowed to do.

When Kyungsoo is eight he realizes that the crown on his head feels a lot heavier than it should.

Chapter Text

By the time Kyungsoo is eleven he’s already formed a hatred to his title as a prince. He’s young but he’s not dumb and he knows that there’s something that everyone is hiding from him. Why he’s told to stay inside and spends hours in the library being taught by private tutors.

He’s always being told how to stand, how to act and how to look. He’s not allowed to go to the meetings his father has with other nobles and he’s expected to perform well academically or he gets in trouble.

He’s never ridden a horse or gotten dirty. During the annual festivals he’s stuck in the library, not allowed to attend for reasons unexplained to him. Instead he watches as his brother and parents get dressed up and leave him for the remainder of the day.

This year is no different and when the summer festival rolls around he knows better than to get his hopes up and ask his mother if this year he could go. He doesn’t think he could quite handle another “maybe next year.”

So he spares himself the disappointment and has the kitchen prepare him a snack that he takes with him to the library on the third floor.

It’s not what he considers fun but it is something to pass the time until his family comes back and Seungsoo shares his adventure for the day and gives him a treat he managed to sneak from the festival.

Entering the library with a bowl of fruit in hand, he heads to the second floor. Carefully he climbs the staircase and heads towards the nook that overlooks the courtyard, because if he can’t go outside he can at least see it.

Setting his snack down he goes to grab a book, choosing one at random and hoping it’s a good read. Fishing his glasses out of his jacket pocket he puts them on, opening his book and sighing.

It doesn’t take long before he grows bored, looking out at the courtyard and spotting the carriages that will take his family into town where the summer festival is being held. Hardly ever do events take place at the castle.

Kyungsoo can only recall one ball taking place at his home but he was too small to attend and was left with the maids in his room for the night.

And it’s quite a lonely life he’s living he realizes, spending his days indoors and in the library. He doesn’t have any friends, he isn’t allowed to do anything other than breathe and although he is only a mere eleven years old, he knows it’s not normal to feel so sad all the time.

But it’s not like he doesn’t have times where he’s extremely happy, because he does. It’s just that it doesn’t last and his mood drops almost instantly afterwards.

Spending time with his mother for instance makes him happy and it’s usually when he’s at his most talkative self, asking her question after question until she’s called away and he’s left alone again.

That’s usually when his mood drops after several minutes and he becomes bored, left to tend to his studies or to roam around the castle out of boredom.

Although he always had fun with Seungsoo when he was younger, it seems the fifteen year old finds him too young to play with now. Seungsoo is always with Prince Jongin or Prince Sehun roaming the woods and sword fighting and he’s always told no when he asks if he can tag along.

Despite the number of royals they are associated with Kyungsoo has no one his age to play with. All the prince’s he’s been introduced to are older than him. They’re either his brother’s age or older than Seungsoo and they definitely don’t speak more words than necessary to him.

Even if Kyungsoo wanted to try and initiate a conversation with another Prince he couldn’t. He’s not allowed to talk to those older than him without getting permission from his brother or parents or being talked to first. Unless he gets permission to talk freely he can’t and although he’s been taught that he can talk to those he outranks, he’s learned he doesn’t outrank anyone but the staff in the castle.

He seems to be the only one having this dilemma.

So in short, he has no one to talk to about being lonely or wishing he could get treated like his brother does. Even if his brother lets him talk freely, he can’t tell the elder any of his problems because Seungsoo would only tell him to be grateful he’s a prince at all.

Kyungsoo doesn’t see it that way and would much rather give up his crown and his home if it meant he could speak when and how he wanted to.

He’s so absorbed in all these thoughts that he almost misses the maid calling his name from the bottom of the library.

Hurriedly he gets up, shuffling down the staircase while pocketing his glasses, never one to like wearing them in public although it would probably help him.

Once he reaches the entrance where the head maid is waiting he feels slightly out of breath, mentally cursing himself for forgetting the fruit bowl but he’s told to go greet the guests in the common room while she’ll take care of it.

Not expecting guests, Kyungsoo feels flustered, not even knowing if his crown is on straight. To top it off he’s dressed in common clothing he wears around the castle, not anything fancy for when guests are here. But if the maid didn’t pester him to change he supposes it should be okay.

Fidgeting with the hem of his shirt he walks towards the common room and peeks his head around the corner, spotting his parents and Seungsoo with King and Queen Kim and their children.

Sighing in relief at the familiarity he enters the room properly, walking over towards his family and waiting to be taken notice of. Which takes a while when you’re about as noticeable as a fly on the wall.

It’s one of the Princesses that takes note of him and he feels his face heat up when all the attention is on him, bowing awkwardly and giving a timid smile to the Kim’s.

“We didn’t even hear you come in,” the Queen tells him and he wants to say that’s the entire point of his life, to be seen and not heard but he holds his tongue from the sarcastic remark and gives her a smile instead, looking to his parents for some sort of permission to leave.

It’s nearing noon and they should be leaving for the festival soon and since he’s not allowed to go he has no other purpose being here other than to be polite and say hello.

Awkwardly he stands off to the side, not engaging in any sort of conversation for who knows how long. Although he would like to join in at a point, they’re not talking to him and it’s rude to interrupt.

After twenty minutes of standing there like a statue they announce they’re leaving and it takes a lot of self-control to not ask if he can go. Instead he keeps quiet, waving goodbye while staying near the door and then the doors are closing and his tiny glimpse outside is gone and he’s left alone.

Sighing, he lets his smile drop, biting his lip as he goes back to the staircase to head to the library again so he can mope in private. Because princes are always supposed to be happy in public and that's something he hasn't quite mastered yet.

Chapter Text

When Kyungsoo turns twelve, nothing much changes. He still practically lives in the library and spends most of his time alone. His parents still expect good grades from him and if at all possible he sees less of his older brother. He still doesn’t get to go outside and he is still expected to be quiet in front of others.

He’s grown used to the life he lives and instead of questioning things, he just learns to accept them.

He does what he’s expected to and doesn’t make as much of a fuss as he used to. He still likes to wander around the castle, having found a new hidden room he likes to hide out in when he doesn’t feel like being told what to do or when he wants to hide away from the old professors who bore him to death.

Today isn’t one of those days because instead of a professor, one of the royal health practitioners is teaching him the facts of life.

Kyungsoo already knows about the birds and the bees and the speech would rendered useless if he were just talking about sex between a man and a woman. Kyungsoo already knows how that works. In fact he learned when he was nine when he stumbled upon an old medical textbook in the library.

But instead Doctor Jung is talking about relations between two men and something in his subconscious clicks.

Gay marriage isn’t something taboo or looked down upon like it was in the past. In fact, there are plenty of princes that get married solely to prove alliances between countries. It’s usually done when there need be no heirs produced to secure the crown.

Usually between a second or third born son, like himself.

“Who is it?” he questions, interrupting Doctor Jung leaving the elderly man looking a little shocked.

Although Doctor Jung is a medical professional it doesn’t matter. Kyungsoo is a prince and outranks him. So he knows he’s allowed to talk to him however he pleases. He’s just not the sort to do so. He rarely replies to his teachers or to the maids unless he needs to, so he won’t be surprised if he hears gossip around the castle for what he’s about to do.

“I beg your pardon, your highness?” the white haired man questions him, fixing his spectacles and looking a little thrown off by the fact that he’s actually talking for once.

Calmly he takes a deep breath, sitting up straight and then looking the elder in the eye before opening his mouth.

“Who exactly am I betrothed to?” he questions plainly, watching how Doctor Jung goes rigid, his eyes widening in what he assumes is shock.

He looks flustered, taking a handkerchief from his pocket and patting at his face while avoiding eye contact with him.

It’s not a common occurrence, rather more traditional that someone who is betrothed to a prince be raised in a certain manner. It’s something more dependent on the country or the view point of the parents in question how they bring up someone who is to be married off to a prince. Whether they want someone who will be silent in the background or seen as an equal.

It’s not something he’s been told about, rather he’s read about it in the library. Old etiquette books and fictional tales written by people of their country have always portrayed those betrothed as silent partners who are always quietly by their betrothed’s side, someone who doesn’t speak out of turn unless addressed and someone who definitely doesn’t hold any political power.

Kyungsoo may pride himself in being smart, but he knows he still holds the naivety of a child, he being no older than twelve. So all these signs were never clear to him until today and he supposes there’s a reason for him being excluded from this knowledge because Doctor Jung is immediately spilling excuse after excuse, apologizing and bowing to him before nearly fleeing the room.

It’s something that the maids and staff will definitely be gossiping about come lunch time. And normally this would bother him, not liking being the source of gossip, but now that he knows the truth, he’s too angry to care.

Stomping out of the room he makes his discontentment evident, his eyes forming a glare as he searches for his brother, his heartbeat loud in his ears and he can feel a tightness in his throat once he finally does find Seungsoo along with Prince Sehun and Prince Jongin.

Hesitantly he comes to a stop, going unnoticed by the three sixteen year olds. His plan on yelling at his brother is evidentially ruined, because although he has no problem yelling at Seungsoo, he doesn’t want to deal with the consequences of doing it in the presence of two other royals.

Before he can even turn around and go back to the library his brother spots him, calling him over and like the perfect prince he is, he obeys.

Uncomfortably he stands in front of the three of them, looking up only to see how they tower over him and then looking back down at his feet. His anger is definitely not forgotten, but put on hold while he has to play his part as a prince.

“How did your talk with Doctor Jung go?” his brother questions, a teasing tone to his voice that only irritates him.

His hands twitch at his sides as he tells himself to calm down. He’s not supposed to get upset in front of people.

“Talk?” Prince Jongin interrupts causing him to look up in surprise because he hasn’t heard the elder talk in a long time. Rarely does his brother ever let him hang around when Prince Jongin is in town (which is a lot of the time) and he most certainly never talks to him directly.

“The talk,” Prince Sehun chimes in, an annoying smirk on his face that makes Kyungsoo’s lips twitch in aggravation.

He can’t stand Prince Sehun, who makes it his goal to tease him about his height or his shoulders whenever he’s in town. He makes it his personal goal to irritate him until his ears are red and his eyes are watering.

“Oh,” Prince Jongin mumbles, looking disinterested in the subject. “Isn’t he too young for that?”

“I’m twelve,” he speaks up, not liking when people talk about him as if he’s not there. “And I already knew all there is to know. It went fine, can I leave?” he bites out, his head is starting to throb from holding back tears of frustration.

He just wants to be alone. For once he wants to be forgotten about.

“What kind of talk did they give you?” Prince Sehun butts in again and he holds back a whimper, just wanting to leave and curl up on one of the chairs in the library and forget this day even happened.

“There’s more than one?” Seungsoo questions, looking at his friend in bewilderment.

“Apparently so, isn’t that right Jongin?” Sehun questions with a sly smirk.

Kyungsoo’s dislike for him intensifies, if at all possible as he watches the exchange between the two. Prince Jongin looks irritated with Prince Sehun, he doesn’t miss how his hand twitches like he wants to hit him and secretly Kyungsoo hopes he will.

“I think you should mind your own business Sehun,” Jongin bites out, looking like a disgruntled puppy leaving Kyungsoo to stare awkwardly at the trio.

It seems like they’ve forgotten he’s even there and he takes this opportunity to turn around and make his leave, rushing to get to his room instead.

The maids he passes by on the way there all give him nervous and pointed looks, gossip travels quickly in the castle and he already knows they’re aware of what took place not more than ten minutes ago.

Once he’s in the security of his own room he allows himself to finally take a deep breath, taking the crown off his head and then climbing into bed. He slips under the silk sheets and holds onto a pillow as he fights to keep himself from crying out of frustration.

He’s betrothed to someone. He’s engaged to someone he doesn’t even know and his parents never even told him. His parents are the one’s trading him off to some prince just for the sake of who knows what.

His stomach twists uncomfortably as he imagines one day having to leave his bed, his home, his family and be in some foreign castle with someone he probably won’t even know.

He’s finally starting to relax, his body luring him to sleep when suddenly something clicks again, Sehun's words echoing in his head.

 

It’s Jongin.

Chapter Text

For Seungsoo’s seventeenth birthday his parents throw him a ball. Turning seventeen in their country is the equivalent to becoming an adult. It’s when you’re allowed to marry or join the military if you want. It’s the age where you’re considered a man and since Seungsoo is a prince, it’s kind of a big deal.

Kyungsoo has never had anyone care about his birthday. The last time he was thrown a party was for his first birthday but only because it’s customary. He wonders if he’ll get to have a ball for his seventeenth birthday but doesn’t give himself much hope.

He’s not the important prince, Seungsoo is.

Currently he’s thirteen, an age of no importance. Although Kyungsoo knows he’s never important.

Technically speaking he’s important to one person, his fiancé, but Jongin isn’t even aware they’re betrothed. Kyungsoo is also not supposed to know, which is why Doctor Jung looked close to a heart attack when he had his talk about a year ago.

His parents had told him close to nothing about it, other than yes, he was betrothed to someone and that it was an important engagement. He wasn’t supposed to find out until he was seventeen and his parents had been surprised that he had figured it out all on his own.

His father looked at him differently ever since then and he got him a whole new set of professors who gave him even harder work.

Kyungsoo wishes he would have just kept his mouth shut.

It’s been a year since he found out and even though his parents know that he knows, they aren’t aware that he knows it is Jongin. They think he’s clueless and to save himself from the trouble it would probably cause, he doesn’t tell anyone. Not even Seungsoo.

It feels nice having his own little secret, something that he knows and not Seungsoo. His brother is completely in the dark and didn’t even know anyone was betrothed until the day Prince Sehun spilled everything about the many talks about the facts of life.

In a year that he’s known, nothing much has changed. He’s not much taller than he was the previous year, he still gets treated the same save for the harder school work, and he’s still as unhappy as he was before.

The ball is the first time he’s being shown to the public, the kingdom only ever seeing him when he was a baby and in portraits so he’s pestered with all day to look presentable.

The maids call him chubby and fret over how his clothes need to be altered and his shoulders are too narrow for a boy.

He takes it all in stride, biting the inside of his cheek and forcing the lump in his throat away. Today isn’t a day to be sad. He finally gets to be let out of his room, he should be happy.

When he’s finally done being dressed he’s escorted to the dining hall where there are tables scattered around. He’s looking over a plate of snacks when he feels someone tug on his ear, a yelp leaving his throat as he turns around.

“Hyung that hurts!” he whimpers out, glaring at his older brother and fighting the urge to punch him on the arm.

“I was just teasing,” Seungsoo laughs out, pinching his cheeks making him feel like a child. “But look at you, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you in a suit since we were children.”

“It had to be tailored,” he states plainly, looking away from the elder and towards the giant ice swan on the side of the room.

“You’re still young, I’m sure you’ll be tall like me one day,” his brother reassures him.

“You were already tall when you were my age,” he argues, wondering how long he has to stay at the ball to be considered polite. He’s never been to one so he doesn’t quite know.

“Everyone’s different, I’m sure by the time you get your ball for your seventeenth birthday you’ll be my height.”

“I don’t think I’ll be getting a ball,” he dismisses, trying to ignore the elder so he can listen to something the maids are saying about him.

“You’re being awfully rude to someone who’s trying to be nice,” Seungsoo scolds, turning him back around forcefully causing him to wince. His brother is a whole lot stronger than he is and his frail arms don’t take much to hurt.

“What’s your problem?” his brother questions, staring at him with a stern glare that reminds him of their father.

And he can’t answer because he can’t tell Seungsoo about the maids teasing without them getting in trouble. He doesn’t want that.

So he does as he’s been taught to do his entire life and stays silent, staring at his feet and waiting for the tight grip on his arm to leave. It only ever does when their parents come in the room.

Kyungsoo gets fretted over again by his mother, getting told how handsome he looks as she cups his face and he forces a smile onto his lips, one he’s practiced over and over until perfected.

The ball starts shortly after and he’s forced to greet people at the door with his brother, getting many gawking looks because he’s only ever met people in private and even then there hasn’t been many royals he’s met.

All the looks make him feel worse than he already did before the party started because he knows they’re comparing him to Seungsoo.

He’s not as tall, not as handsome, not as built like a prince should be. He’s almost convinced himself this is the reason his parents keep him locked up while they eat a dinner he opts to poke at. The comments from the maids earlier ring in his head and he loses his appetite before the main course is even served.

By the time the dancing starts he’s wishing his parents would have told him he couldn’t come. The music and chatter is loud and he’s seen too many new faces that everyone is starting to blur together.

When it becomes too much he quietly sneaks out of the ballroom, walking into the corridor where there aren’t many people. The one’s he does see he makes sure to bow to, heading towards the stairwell when he hears Princess Jinhee call his name.

Plastering a smile on his face he walks over to her, bowing politely when he notices her fiancé is with her. Princess Jinhee only recently got engaged, and she’s been nothing but kind to him since he met her so he’s happy for her.

Although a tad bitter that she gets to choose who she’s going to marry while he’s stuck being betrothed to her brother, the Prince being completely clueless on it all.

He’s listening to her to go on and on about her wedding in the winter when someone bumps into him from behind.

Frowning he turns around to apologize but stops when he sees it’s only Prince Jongin along with his brother and Prince Sehun.

“What are you three up to?” Jinhee questions sternly.

Kyungsoo moves off to the side as to not get in the way, blushing when his stomach makes a loud grumbling noise and hoping no one heard.

He’s horrified to see Prince Jongin give him an odd look. Embarrassed he looks down at his feet as he waits for them to answer Jinhee and then leave.

Tuning them out he spares the front doors a glance, noting how they’re wide open with two guards standing watch for people who are arriving and those who are leaving.

He stares long and hard at them, realizing he doesn’t think he’s ever seen these particular guards. They might be reserved especially for parties like this and it makes sense he doesn’t know them because he’s always in his room for these sort of things.

Biting his lip he looks towards his brother, realizing he’s been forgotten about he wanders towards the doors, knowing he’s not allowed he stands off to the side, not missing how the guards are eyeing him.

It looks nicer this close up, he can see the texture of the grass better here than he can up in the library. The air feels thicker from where he’s standing and the sunset looks different from this angle as well. It’s cool, a light breeze blowing by that makes his skin crawl.

Looking past he courtyard he stares at the nearby woods, wondering what kind of animals live out there. He’s heard wolves howling late at night and he supposes that’s why there’s an iron gate around the entire estate, to protect the horses and the other animals out back.

“Kyungsoo get away from the door,” Seungsoo states loudly causing him to flinch, hesitantly turning around to see his brother glaring at him.

And he wants to yell back, that he was only looking and it shouldn’t be a crime to look but he stays silent. Quietly he returns back to where his brother is standing, keeping his head down and hoping he gets told to go to his room.

Feeling his stomach start to rumble he blushes, crossing his arms over his abdomen in hopes it blocks the noise and no one notices but it’s futile. The one person who does hear ends up being Prince Sehun and his stomach drops when he’s given a look.

“You ate and you’re still hungry?” the elder questions teasingly, reaching out and pinching at his cheeks leaving him to wince.

“It’s no wonder you’re so chubby,” he adds on, poking at his stomach harshly leaving him to bite his tongue.

He keeps his head down, already knowing Seungsoo isn’t paying attention to him now because he never does. Sehun makes sure his teasing is done when his brother isn’t watching.

Stubbornly he refuses to let his eyes water, promising himself he’ll cry when he gets back to his room but not right now.

All he has to do is ignore him long enough that he’ll stop and then he can go to bed.

And then he’s never coming out of his room.

Chapter Text

Jongin isn’t a fan of weddings. But seeing as how this isn’t just an ordinary wedding, but his best friend’s wedding, he has to be present.

Seungsoo is only twenty yet he’s already found some princess to fall in love with long enough to get married to. It’s absurd to Jongin, but then again, he doesn’t have to worry about popping out heirs.

That’s always been his eldest sister’s dilemma, definitely not his since he’s only third in line for the crown and even then, Jinhee noona would get picked over him if something were to happen that Jini couldn’t have children.

Which isn’t true because he has a healthy two year old nephew that cried towards the end of the ceremony not too long ago.

Now, they’re all in the ballroom eating and Jongin is trying and failing to put up with the Oh’s who they're stuck sitting with but Prince Sehun gets on every single one of his nerves.

He’s the definition of stuck up, and being raised to be thankful and humble about what he has, Jongin can’t stand him. It’s honestly baffling as to how Seungsoo gets along with him.

“Oh look who finally left his room,” Sehun drawls out, impolitely shoving his fork in a direction and Jongin begrudgingly looks only to see Seungsoo’s younger brother, Kyungsoo.

Jongin frowns watching him decline a plate of food and instead take a sip of his water. He looks thin, way too thin.

“Does he not eat?” he questions more to himself but the ever prying Sehun hears him.

“Seungsoo told me he only eats in private. Doesn’t even bother attending special events anymore. Surprised he even bothered to show up tonight.”

Jongin ignores the tone from the other Prince and goes back to his food.

It’s no secret that Prince Kyungsoo hasn’t been seen in public in a couple of years, but it’s not like he was ever seen beforehand either. From what Jongin can conclude is that Kyungsoo is being raised the old fashioned way.

Although Seungsoo did say when his parents started allowing him to attend events he downright refused and locked himself up in the library. But it’s really none of Jongin’s business to pry into his best friend’s family life.

He’s never spoken more than four words to the younger Do, so it’s not his problem if the boy looks stick thin and never shows up for anything.

When the dinner is done with the dancing begins and Jongin feels a headache coming on from all the traditional music being played.

With the excuse of taking care of his very pregnant sister, he declines any invitation to go and dance himself. Hating the amount of counting that is required just to go around in a circle.

He’d rather listen to his sister complain and nag her husband than dance, which is what he does until said sister is nagging at him.

“Why don’t you go sit with Prince Kyungsoo, he looks lonely,” Jinhee comments, rubbing at her growing stomach.

Jongin frowns, “That’s not my problem,” he replies, immediately wincing when she reaches over and pinches at his ear.

“Don’t be rude and do as I say,” Jinhee snaps irritably causing him to glare, huffing as he stands up and looks to where Prince Kyungsoo is sitting by himself at one of the tables in the corner, not where he’s supposed to be with the Royal Family.

“Noona he probably wants to be left alone,” he tries to reason only to get threatened so with a lethargic sigh he slowly makes his way over towards the sixteen year old.

He would rather dance at this point but he knows Jinhee would not be pleased if he disobeyed so he continues walking stiffly until he’s at the table where Kyungsoo is.

Awkwardly he clears his throat, startling the younger boy causing him to twitch, his wide eyes looking at him in a confused manner. Forcing a smile onto his face he hopes he looks civil enough to please his noona.

“May I sit with you?” he questions, closing his mouth and trying but failing not to grind his teeth in annoyance.

He’s never spoken more than a handful of words to the youngest Do Prince and even then he’s sure Kyungsoo never spoke back. The last thing he wants to do is socialize with someone four years his junior.

Even then, Kyungsoo only gives him a stiff nod, not even looking in his direction as he takes a seat diagonally from him. Sitting in the seat next to him would be too awkward, and sitting across from him would make it look like he isn’t attempting to talk with him and Jinhee wouldn’t like that. Diagonally is his best shot at faking socializing with the younger prince.

Once he’s situated he looks over at his sister's table and gives her an annoyed look, getting a bright smile in return that only annoys him further.

He’s already twenty and he still gets bullied into doing things his sisters want. It’s ridiculous.

Sighing he turns towards the sixteen year old, noting how he’s still in his seat with his hands clasped politely in his lap. He looks like one of those prim and proper snotty royals from the North.

Knowing his noona is watching he attempts a conversation with the boy.

“You’re not sitting with your mother and father,” he notes, giving the main table a glance where the King and Queen are joyfully watching their son and his new wife dance.

When he doesn’t hear anything from the younger boy he turns his attention back to Kyungsoo, waiting for an answer and growing impatient when the sixteen year old looks like he isn’t going to give him one.

“Fine. Don’t tell me. How did you like the food?” he questions instead, actually attempting to get the boy to talk because he wants his sister off his back and if he doesn’t try she’ll only make his life miserable the rest of the night.

“I didn’t eat, your highness,” Kyungsoo states plainly, still not bothering to look at him which, Jongin will admit is highly rude but at least he replied and he’s surprised that the boy’s voice has gotten a lot deeper.

Although he only ever remembers Kyungsoo talking once, and that was when they were children. Honestly, he can’t remember a single time after that where Kyungsoo was even allowed to speak.

“Why not?” he questions, already knowing what Sehun told him and seeing him decline a plate, but being genuinely curious to hear from the boy himself.

Besides, who knows what lies Sehun comes up with for a bit of attention?

“I wasn’t hungry, your highness,” Kyungsoo replies just as monotone as before, only giving him a glance before going back to stare at the ballroom floor.

“Did you at least try the cake?” he pushes, wondering how long he’s been sitting here and if it’s long enough to leave.

“I’m not allowed to eat desserts, your highness,” Kyungsoo replies plainly, giving him an odd look before going back to stare at whatever it is that has his attention.

Jongin nearly chokes.

“You’re not allowed?” he questions incredulously, startling the younger boy who twitches, giving him a wide eyed look.

Kyungsoo hesitantly shakes his head.

“You have to be joking. No dessert? At all?” Jongin pesters scooting closer to the boy and watching him continue to eye him oddly.

“No…” Kyungsoo mumbles, inching in on himself.

Jongin just can’t believe it, of all the things to deny someone.

“That’s ridiculous,” he scoffs, looking around and deciding to hell with it. No one will notice if he sneaks out. “Where’s the kitchen?” he questions, standing up and moving to grab at a wide eyed Kyungsoo.

The younger prince looks completely shell shocked, pointing towards a general direction that he drags him off to.

He ends up in an empty corridor and so he turns towards Kyungsoo and gives him an expectant look.

“The farthest door on the right,” Kyungsoo mumbles, so he makes him lead the way, taking note of how short Kyungsoo is. He’s so incredibly thin Jongin is sure he could push him and he’d break.

Once they arrive in the kitchen the maids and cooks immediately spot them, going wide eyed as he struts into the place and looks around.

“Is there any leftover cake?” he questions, straightening his back and giving them a look.

“Of course your highness,” one of the staff stutters out, the cooks running around and getting him a piece of the cake.

Jongin waits patiently, motioning for Kyungsoo to actually walk in because he’s stuck standing at the door with an apprehensive look on his face.

Eventually one of the cooks hands him a plate, their head bowed respectfully before they scamper away once he’s taken the plate.

Turning towards Kyungsoo he moves to hand him the plate but gets nothing but a shake of the head from the younger prince.

“I’m not allowed,” Kyungsoo reiterates, looking worriedly at the maids and cooks so Jongin turns around and glares.

“Are any of you going to tell?” he questions, getting scared looks and shakes of the head causing him to smile.

“They won’t tell and neither will I. It’s just a piece of cake. It’s not like you’re going outside,” he dismisses, gently placing the plate in the younger prince’s hands and watching him squirm, biting his lip as he stares at the plate.

And Kyungsoo sure does stare for a long time, almost to the point where Jongin thinks that maybe he doesn’t know how to eat cake before he’s actually picking up a fork and taking a tiny bite.

Jongin stares intently, watching as Kyungsoo’s eyes light up before he’s taking another bite and before he knows it the cake is gone and Kyungsoo looks about as happy as he’s ever seen him.

Which is saying something because the sixteen year old is only slightly smiling, more of a slight tilt of his lips, not quite a smile. He’s not sure if he’s ever seen the boy smile.

“You should really eat more, you’re awfully thin,” he comments, taking the plate from him and handing it off to a maid, making sure to give her a look so she won’t snitch.

Turning his attention back to Kyungsoo he’s not all that surprised to see him frowning, but he is surprised to get told to 'mind his own business' before the sixteen year old is leaving but not without a stiff bow.

Frowning he goes back to the ballroom, going back to sit with his noona and dreading her lecture.

“Where’s Prince Kyungsoo?” she immediately interrogates, making sure to give him her best glare.

“He went to bed, I don’t know. I give him cake and he acts so rude,” he grumbles, crossing his arms stubbornly.

“Maybe you said something to upset him,” Jinhee replies pointedly, getting a scoff from her younger brother.

“Who cares? I was nice, I sat with him like you asked, even gave him cake even though he’s not allowed, you should be happy I even did as you asked in the first place,” the younger boy huffs, obviously in a foul mood now so she drops it.

Sighing she rubs at her stomach, wondering how on earth Jongin is going to handle the engagement news in a couple of months.

She figures he won’t be taking it well, especially after tonight.

Chapter Text

Every several weeks Jongin’s father has to travel to the Do’s for political business and being the only son, his father often asks for his company for the four day trip. And normally Jongin doesn’t mind these trips because Seungsoo always keeps him company.

Except now his best friend is married and apparently already being pressured into producing an heir, so he’s with his wife doing just that.

Sighing Jongin stands around bored outside of the meeting room his father and several other Kings are talking in. Seungsoo was supposed to meet with him here and take him down to the kitchen for lunch, but he’s pretty sure he won’t be arriving like one of the maids said he would.

Figuring it can’t be too hard to find the kitchen he walks to his left, looking around the corners and then entering a new hallway. His stomach growls slightly and the longer he walks around, the more lost he becomes.

Groaning out of frustration he decides to open a door, peeking his head in and realizing it’s the library.

Looking around he fully steps into the room, eyes taking in the vast amount of books they have. There’s even a second floor that leads to more books and being curious, he decides to climb the staircase, eyes widening when he sees the second floor is even bigger than he thought it would be.

The whole place has a distinct smell to it that’s rather pleasant and the temperature is just right. Sighing he continues looking around, pulling a couple of books off the shelves and skimming through them before putting them back in their proper place.

Searching around some more he freezes, spotting a couch near a window where Kyungsoo is sitting reading.

Awkwardly Jongin hides, sneaking a peek at him and taking in the fact that he’s wearing glasses. He didn’t even know the younger prince needed them.

Watching him he realizes he must be very into his book because he hasn’t noticed him and the fact that he dropped a book a while ago.

Realizing Kyungsoo knows where the kitchen is, he straightens himself out, flattening his hair and hoping his crown isn’t crooked as he steps out from behind a bookshelf.

Slowly he approaches him, clearing his throat when he still fails to notice him and watching as Kyungsoo comically flinches, looking up with wide eyes. He tears his glasses off his face quickly before shooting out of his seat, awkwardly bowing before looking at him with furrowed brows.

Jongin clears his throat a little before speaking. “Your library is nice,” he comments, getting a tiny nod from the younger prince who still looks a little shocked to see him.

“I’m here with my father. Your brother was supposed to meet me for lunch, but he never showed up,” he explains.

Kyungsoo nods his head, shifting on his feet while staring at the ground, but eventually he lifts his head.

“You’re lost,” he states bluntly and Jongin blushes, pursing his lips because a prince does not get lost. And he certainly doesn’t ask for directions.

“I might have taken a wrong turn here and there,” he replies, straightening himself out and looking at the younger boy expectantly.

“The kitchen is on the first floor, your highness,” Kyungsoo tells him in his monotone voice, giving him a blank stare that makes him shift on his feet.

That should be enough information to get him to where he’s supposed to be, but he has no idea how to get to the first floor. He’s not even sure what floor he’s currently on.

“We’re on the fourth floor, your highness,” Kyungsoo sighs out making him even more embarrassed than he was before.

The younger prince is looking at him like he’s stupid for not knowing where he’s at. It’s not as if Seungsoo ever gave him a tour. They spent most of their time outside, unlike Prince Kyungsoo who isn’t even allowed near an open window without someone watching him.

And he wants to explain this to the younger prince, but he shouldn’t have to. He’s older, he’s a prince. He doesn’t have to explain himself to anyone…except maybe his family. Kyungsoo, is definitely not someone he should have to explain anything to and his stoic face is only irritating him.

“Well are you going to get a maid to help me or do I have to do it myself?” he questions angrily, getting glared at by the younger prince and it’s probably the most emotion he’s ever shown around him.

“As you wish, your highness,” the younger prince hisses out, walking past him angrily and even going as far as to purposefully bump into him leaving him wide eyed.

But he certainly doesn’t show that to the younger prince, straightening himself out as he follows after him and waits by the door while Kyungsoo finds the first maid he can and returning. The younger comes back and gives him the stiffest bow he’s ever seen before slamming the library door behind him.

By the time he makes it to the kitchen he’s beyond starving and irritated. Looking at his father eating with the other kings he fumes, realizing he would have been better off just waiting by the meeting door.

“Where have you been?” Seungsoo questions him once he spots him piling food on his plate. “I went to the meeting room and you were missing!”

Jongin fumes, “I tried to look for the kitchen myself. I ended up finding the library and that irritable little thing you call a brother,” he huffs, setting his plate down on the table loudly and earning several stares for it.

“How on earth did you end up on the fourth floor?” Seungsoo questions him with a laugh, and normally he’d see the humor in it, but right now he’s just annoyed.

“I don’t know! Your castle is a maze and your brother looked at me like I was the dumbest thing he’d ever seen! Don’t you know how to teach him some manners?!” he snaps, stabbing at a piece of meat with his fork before shoving it in his mouth.

“Was Kyungsoo really rude to you?” Seungsoo questions and he nods his head before shoving another piece of food in his mouth.

“He pushed past me, it didn’t hurt of course, but still,” he adds on, grumbling to himself while messing with his food.

He blinks dumbly as he watches Seungsoo get up out of his seat and walk over to his father. They exchange a few words before King Do is ushering for a guard, whispering in his ear and then dismissing him.

Confused he stops eating, watching as Seungsoo comes back to the table and sits down with a lethargic sigh.

“You told your father?” he questions incredulously, stomach suddenly feeling queasy because he knows the Do’s are beyond strict with their youngest prince.

“Isn’t that what you wanted me to do?” Seungsoo questions, taking a sip of his wine and raising a brow.

Jongin nods dumbly, giving a little shrug while messing with his cup. “Well, yes. He was extremely rude to me.”

“My father would have wanted to know.”

Jongin hums in acknowledgement, taking a sip of his wine and then moving to eat another piece of meat. Thoughtfully he chews before swallowing and questioning Seungsoo some more.

“What exactly is he going to do?”

Seungsoo sighs before turning back and looking at him with a frown.  “Punish him of course.”

Jongin quickly loses his appetite.

Chapter Text

Kyungsoo has never really known what pain is like. Being a prince he’s always been kept away from anything that could hurt him. He knows this is one of the main reasons he’s not allowed outside or why he was never taught fencing or sword fighting like his brother.

He’s never been spanked or whipped like he sees happens to the maids or staff when they step out of line. He gets lectured when he does step out of line but he’s a good prince, he does as he’s told and doesn’t make a peep in protest.

So he doesn’t know what it feels like to be hurt physically, has no idea what real pain feels like, but this, this feeling in his chest is as close as it gets.

He feels like he’s suffocating waiting to find out what his punishment is. He’s standing in front of his father’s throne, head hung low and body rigid. A guard had nearly dragged him here and he could only go silently, watching as they put a lock on the library doors.

He stood there in silence for ten full minutes before his father came in and by the disappointed look on his face he knew he was in trouble.

Kyungsoo learns that it’s all Kim Jongin’s fault.

His future husband was not very happy about how he acted earlier, his father tells him. He tells him that he’s not happy with him.

As a prince he should behave better and respect his future husband. His father is the only one that knows that he knows, he supposes that makes it worse.

His father expects more from him than anyone. If his grades are low he’s brought to the throne room to be lectured. Jongin won’t want a dumb husband, his father had told him when he was fourteen.

He’s been raised to be someone Jongin will want, or at least tolerate once they’re married. A silent partner who does whatever Jongin wants, doesn’t make a peep in protest but is smart enough to form a reply when necessary.

So speaking to him informally and shoving him, treating him like he was inferior is something worthy of a severe punishment, his father tells him.

If he doesn’t learn to be respectful now towards Jongin, then his life will be miserable is what his father states plainly, a conflicted look on his face as he stares him down.

The knot in his stomach grows larger as he stares at his feet, the crown on his head feeling heavier by the minute.

“You’re lucky it’s me punishing you and not him,” his father tells him before he’s being escorted to the lower part of the castle where it’s cold and dreary.

It’s not somewhere he’s ever dared to explore, already hearing from the maid’s gossip that it’s not place you ever want to make a visit unless you have to.

It smells rancid and it’s drafty, if he listens closely he can hear the squeaking of rats and who knows what else.

He’s led to a room where he gets cuffed, the metal digging into his wrist makes him wince, eyes watering as he stares at the guard who secures him to a wall.

The minute he sees the bamboo cane used to punish he panics, tugging his hands away from the wall but it only makes his wrists hurt even more, the metal cutting his skin and drawing blood.

His whimpers drown out the sound of his father’s voice and he can only shut his eyes and shake as he waits for the first hit to come.

When it does he cries, the stinging from the cuffs around his wrist being drowned out from the pain in his back where the wood hit him

Eventually everything hurts and he doesn’t know where the pain is coming from. No matter how sorry he says he is, no matter how much he cries, it keeps coming.



When Kyungsoo is sixteen he learns what real pain feels like.

Chapter Text

Jongin doesn’t see Prince Kyungsoo for the rest of his visit at the Do’s that week. In a letter Seungsoo tells him that he feels guilty, because Kyungsoo hasn’t spoken one word since that day and he refuses to leave his room.

He doesn’t even sound the least bit happy when he relays the information to him that he and his wife are expecting their first child to be born next summer. They’re to have a party thrown in a weeks’ time and of course, the Kim’s are invited.

If Seungsoo feels guilty, Jongin feels ten times worse.

When he told Seungsoo about his brother’s rude behavior he certainly didn’t think the other prince would tell the King about it. And he certainly didn’t expect them to punish him for it.

Maybe reprimand him a little, give him a talking to. He didn’t expect them to treat him like they would a commoner.

He felt horrible hearing about it. He still feels horrible knowing that even though Seungsoo is the one that relayed the information to the King, he is the one that set it all into motion.

So a week later when he finds himself back in the Do’s castle, he actively seeks out the younger Do Prince to apologize, or something.

Except Prince Kyungsoo doesn’t attend the festivities, he’s not spotted at the door greeting people like Seungsoo and his wife. He’s not sitting with the royal family during the dinner and of course he’s nowhere to be seen during the dancing.

Jongin can’t eat with the knots in his stomach and he certainly can’t put up with people enjoying themselves so he does the only logical thing he can think of.

He leaves the party and goes in search of the younger Prince’s room. He has no idea what he’s going to say or what he even can say to begin with. He’s never been in this kind of situation before.

He’s never caused such a huge problem. He usually keeps to himself and never causes a commotion when things don’t go his way.

The one time he gets aggravated enough to rat on someone it ends up with Kyungsoo getting hurt and even though he doesn’t know the younger prince that well, he doesn’t deserve that.

So he’s willing to get lost in the huge castle looking for him. It feels like hours have passed by the time he sees a maid and demands she point him in the right direction and he’s sure the sun has gone down a long time ago by the time he reaches Prince Kyungsoo’s door.

Hesitantly he knocks, standing back and waiting expectantly for the door to open but it never does. So he knocks again, and again and again but he’s met with silence each time.

Frustrated he knocks again, waiting and when nothing happens he groans. Looking left and right he goes towards the door next to Kyungsoo’s, knocking before hesitantly turning the handle and realizing it’s open.

He peeks his head in, walking inside when he realizes it’s an empty spare room. The first place he goes is towards the window that leads to the balcony. It opens easily and he looks to his left, seeing that if he dares climb across the vines alongside the castle, he can get to Kyungsoo’s room.

The most that can happen is that he’ll fall and hurt himself, but at this point it will only be karma if such a thing happens. Getting hurt is the least of his worries right now. If he falls he’ll probably end up with a broken arm or leg, which is probably not as bad as what Kyungsoo went through.

So he climbs his way over to the other balcony, nearly shrieking when he does slip but he’s able to pull himself back up rather quickly.

His suit is dirty now and he’s surprised his crown is still on his head when he finally has both feet on the balcony but he’s there and now he has no idea what to do.

If he knocks on the window, will Kyungsoo even let him in?

“I should have thought this through more,” he mumbles to himself, standing there stupidly before deciding to knock.

Hesitantly he raps his knuckles against the glass and then waits, fidgeting in his spot and freezing when the curtains are pulled back and Kyungsoo is staring at him like he’s insane.

“Can I come in?” he questions loudly, beginning to feel cold as the temperature starts to drop outside, the moon starting to shine and he shivers when he hears a wolf howl.

Kyungsoo eyes him for a while and Jongin thinks he’s going to ignore him, leave him out in the cold to freeze to death, but then he’s slowly unlocking the glass doors and letting him in.

Jongin nearly runs inside, shivering as he rubs at his arms and he nearly pees himself when he realizes Kyungsoo is glaring at him like he’s going to murder him on the spot.

“You’re not wearing your crown,” he laughs out awkwardly, smiling and trying to make himself seem like he isn’t scared of the sixteen year old but with the way Kyungsoo's glaring he isn’t sure if he’s going to survive the night.

“You didn’t answer when I knocked on your door,” he mumbles, looking over the younger prince.

He’s wearing a linen long sleeve shirt that is loose, a size or so too big, and it makes him look like a twig in a bad way. It looks like he’s in his sleep attire because his pants are loose and baggy as well.

Kyungsoo must feel him staring because he inches in on himself, folding his arms over his chest and Jongin’s eyes go to his wrist, flashes of red and blue appearing before the younger prince is pulling his sleeves down and avoiding eye contact.

Jongin feels ten times worse than he already did.

“Are you alright?” he questions quietly, getting scoffed at by the younger prince, which he supposes he deserves. It was a dumb question.

“I’m sorry,” he apologizes, shifting on his feet and trying not to pay attention to the bags under the younger boy’s eyes or the fact that his lower lip looks like it’s been gnawed at constantly.

“If I would have known…I’m just…I’m sorry,” he apologizes again, not knowing how to even begin to properly apologize and make it up to him.

There really isn’t anything he can do other than say he’s sorry over and over again. He could grovel, but he has his limits.

“If there’s anything I could do,” he voices, stopping when Kyungsoo laughs at him bitterly.

“Don’t you think you’ve done enough?” Kyungsoo bites out and he flinches, feeling worse than he did before he came up here.

The younger prince’s voice sounds scratchy and weak and Jongin just wants to say he’s sorry but apparently it means nothing to Kyungsoo.

He doesn’t think even groveling will make up for what happened. So he gives up, sighing as he heads for the door and unlocks it so he can leave. Once he’s out in the hallway he turns around, flinching when the door is slammed in his face and the lock is being turned.



Jongin figures he deserves that.

Chapter Text

There’s someone knocking on his door again, Kyungsoo notes. The sound has begun to annoy him. The way it rings throughout his entire room and how it grows louder the longer the person knocks.

It’s quite bothersome.

Sighing he rolls over on his bed, grabbing his pillow and putting it over his head to drown out the noise.

He just wants to lie in bed today. He doesn’t want to put up with royals and plaster a fake smile on his face.

He’s tired. He just wants to rest.

The knocking grows louder and louder, irritating him to no end. But eventually it stops and he smiles slightly, pulling his blanket up higher and closing his eyes.

He has several moments of pure silence before someone is unlocking his door and inviting themselves in.

Groaning he moves his pillow, glaring at Seungsoo whose closing the door.

“Why is it so dark in here?” his brother questions and he rolls his eyes, putting his pillow back where it was resting on his face.

“Kyungsoo, you need to get ready,” Seungsoo speaks, opening his curtains causing him to whine, the sun hitting his eyes unpleasantly.

“You should have been ready an hour ago, Kyungsoo.”

“I’m aware,” he replies lowly, not moving from his spot and hoping his brother takes a hint and leaves him alone.

“There are people arriving soon,” Seungsoo sights out, staring at his little brother who continues to lie in bed. It’s way past noon and the sun should be going down in an hour or two and people will be there by then.

“You need to get up, now.”

Kyungsoo groans, lifting his pillow and glaring at the elder. “Leave me alone and get out of my room.”

“Kyungsoo, you need to be there. This entire thing is for you,” Seungsoo stresses, running a hand through his hair and making a mental note to go back to his room and fetch his crown before he goes downstairs.

When Kyungsoo makes no move to get up he sighs, pinching the bridge of his nose in frustration.

“Kyungsoo this is important,” he emphasizes, waking around the bed to stare at his younger brother. “You get to find out who you’re marrying, it should be…fun…”

Kyungsoo snorts, bursting into a fit of laughter leaving him confused. His entire body shakes and the pillow he was hiding under falls, showing his red face as he laughs.

“How are you going to be king when you’re so dumb?” Kyungsoo laughs out, sitting up and getting out of bed while trying to contain his giggles.

“Excuse me?” his brother questions, looking offended and confused, but mostly the latter.

Kyungsoo sighs, crossing his arms and looking towards the window. The day has dragged on and he supposes he should humor his family, if anything.

He won’t be here for much longer anyways. In two month’s he’ll turn seventeen and then he’ll be off to the Kim’s. Seungsoo is an idiot for not already figuring it out.

“Kyungsoo, please just get ready,” his brother sighs out, looking at him with a frown causing him to roll his eyes.

“And if I don’t?” he questions, turning around and giving his brother a look. “Will you tell father about it?”

Seungsoo freezes, the frown on his face vanishing and being replaced with a look of guilt. He always looks so guilty nowadays, Kyungsoo notes.

“Maybe he’ll give me a beating before the party,” he voices, snorting when Seungsoo flinches. “Don’t look so upset. One day you’ll be king and I’ll be off in someone’s bed keeping it warm. You don’t have anything to feel guilty about, hyung,” Kyungsoo states bitterly, a scowl on his lips that almost frightens Seungsoo.

All this time alone hasn’t done his brother any good.

“Look, Kyungsoo—,” he starts only to get interrupted.

“I know, I know. Get ready, put a smile on, be happy. I know,” Kyungsoo dismisses, waving him off before heading to his restroom and slamming the door shut.

Seungsoo lets out a shaky breath, staring at the door for a while before leaving. He has a bad feeling in his gut that this party isn’t going to go over well. But first, he needs to go get his crown.

Chapter Text

“No, no, no, no, no. You’re lying. This is a joke. You’re just pulling my leg. Mom and Dad are going to come in the room any minute now and yell surprise. You’re joking. You have to be joking.”

Jinhee stares at her brother with a concerned look, wondering if he’s going to start hyperventilating like he did when he was six and learned that there was no such thing as the tooth fairy.

Her brother is extremely smart, but so incredibly dense and absolutely childish, even at the age of twenty.

“Jongin, what did you think we came here for?” she questions calmly, rubbing her stomach and trying to ignore the kicking.

“For the party! I don’t know, we’re always here!” Jongin yells causing her to frown, shaking her head at the ignorance of this kid.

“Jongin, it’s been obvious as can be,” she replies, looking at Jini for help but their eldest is looking uninterested in Jongin throwing a fit.

“No it has not! If it were obvious I would have known! Why didn’t anyone tell me?” Jongin snaps, huffing and glaring at his sisters.

“Quit acting like a child,” Jini replies, giving him a stern glare that he’s kind of scared of, but he’s mostly just upset about being here. “If you had any sense you would have looked into it a long time ago. Your fiancé is four years your junior and he’s acting like you should be,” she scolds.

Jongin flushes, forgetting that Kyungsoo was even in the room with them. He shuts up after that, looking at the sixteen year old who’s staring at the window with his arms crossed over his chest indifferently.

Jongin knows he’s in deep trouble. His future husband is Do Kyungsoo.

He’s absolutely positive Kyungsoo despises him.

“Can we trust you to be left alone with him?” Jini questions him and he frowns, hating how he’s being treated like a child.

“I’m fine, just go,” he dismisses, getting pinched on the arm by both his sisters.

When they’re gone it gets awfully quiet, just he and Kyungsoo occupying the room. The younger prince is continuing to ignore his existence and he supposes he deserves it, but he doesn’t like it.

Honestly he should have suspected something when one of the maids forced him to wear socks before coming to the Do’s. He didn’t see why he needed to be so properly clothed when it had nothing to do with him.

Now he’s sees he’s an idiot. He looks like a complete idiot because in all his twenty years of life he never even questioned who his future husband would be. He just went along with it and had he been smart, he would have realized that the only other prince's who aren't a direct heir to the throne is Kyungsoo and some boy from the north.

His mother and father are close to the Do’s, they’ve been friends for forever as far as he knows. He should have put two and two together.

Sighing he looks over at Kyungsoo, his fiancé, and frowns. He has no idea how this is going to work out when the sixteen year old hates his entire being.

Awkwardly he walks over to him, getting glanced at briefly before Kyungsoo is going back to staring outside. Jongin takes a look out the window and notices there are several carriages arriving and the sun is starting to set.

“How long have you known?” he questions hesitantly. It’s obvious that none of this is new to Kyungsoo, and if it is he’s hiding it very well.

“Since I was twelve.”

Jongin fumes, gaping at the sixteen year old and having an urge to yell at him. But he doesn’t. He bites his tongue and counts to ten twice before saying anything.

“And you never told me because?” he bites out, clenching his fists and telling himself to remain calm.

Kyungsoo sighs, giving him a rather bored look. “I figured my future husband wasn’t such an idiot. Obviously I’ve been mistaken.”

Jongin glares, “Excuse me?”

“Are you deaf as well?” Kyungsoo questions him and his hand twitches, his jaw hurting from the amount of force he’s putting on it to keep his mouth shut.

When he feels calm enough he opens his mouth.

“Look, I don’t want to be married to you no more than you want to be married to me. So let’s just get through this dumb party in peace, understood?” he questions seriously, giving the younger prince a stern look.

“But your highness, marrying you is going to be the highlight of my life!” Kyungsoo chirps sarcastically and Jongin feels his eyebrow twitch in annoyance.

He can’t even imagine having to marry the sixteen year old and live with him. Share a room with him. Jongin would rather eat dirt.

“How about you learn your place and keep your mouth shut?” he bites out, watching at the defiant smile slowly slips off Kyungsoo’s face. Apparently he hit a nerve with the younger prince because he shuts up immediately.

They stand in silence until Jinhee is calling for them and then they’re both forced to go to the ballroom.

Jongin feels slightly nauseas, realizing that the entire ballroom is going to be full of people who are happy and ready to celebrate their engagement and all he wants to do is throw a fit. His entire life was planned without his consent and it has never bothered him up until now.

Because Do Kyungsoo is probably the last person on the face of the planet who wants to be married to him and he’s absolutely positive nothing good is coming from this union other than it shows the loyalty between their two kingdoms.

He’s barely paying attention to anything until he gets to the entrance of the ballroom. The moment he puts his foot forward he feels something trip him, his eyes widening before slamming shut when his face meets the ground and he’s almost positive his nose is broken.

Immediately guards are helping him up and he winces as he grabs at his nose, paling when he feels blood.

“My poor fiancé, he’s so clumsy,” Kyungsoo speaks up and a couple of the guards chuckle awkwardly. “Take him to the infirmary and make sure he’s taken care of. We wouldn’t want him to get blood on his suit. It would ruin the party.”

Jongin is absolutely not prepared for this marriage.

Chapter Text

When Kyungsoo turns seventeen his morning starts out rather uneventfully. He wakes up at nine like usual and gets ready for the day. He eats his breakfast alone like he normally does and then goes to his lessons.

The professors are just as boring as they would be any other day and they give him the same amount of work they normally do.

When he gets his break for lunch he’s served chicken and vegetables and not at all the steak he asked if he could have the day before. That’s the first disappointing thing that happens to him.

It doesn’t seem like it’s his birthday, although, every year it’s the same. He was hoping this year would be different. But it’s not.

The good thing is that he doesn’t get his hopes up like he used to when he was a child. Now he knows better.

When he was younger the maids would keep him occupied all day and give him fruits and the occasional sweets. The older he got, the less important his birthday became around the castle.

He hasn’t even seen his mother or Seungsoo today, which isn’t that surprising to him anymore. His mother always has something to do, guests to entertain and Seungsoo has a wife that pukes for just about anything.

All he has is a lizard that gets into his room somehow, probably through a crack in the castle. He hasn’t named the thing yet, but it’s the closest thing he’s ever had to a pet. Although he hasn’t seen it in a while.

By the time he’s done with his lessons for the day, nothing interesting has happened. The only people to wish him a happy birthday are the maids and one of his professors.

With the library still locked up he has nothing better to do but to sit in the nook area in one of the downstairs rooms his mother uses for reading.

His cheek is resting on the window as he stares outside, watching the gardeners tend to the grass and the flower beds.

Sighing he realizes he was correct about him not getting a traditional ball like Seungsoo did. It’s probably not worth it, he realizes. In a week or so he’ll no longer be in the kingdom anyways. He’ll be off living with the Kim’s and in a year he won’t even be a Do other than by blood.

So it’s probably a waste of time and money to throw him a party for a kingdom that will never be his in the first place.

Again, he’s just not important enough to waste festivities on.

When he notices the front gates opening he squints, frowning as a carriage comes through and his stomach flops unhappily when he sees the crest on the side of the buggy.

Getting up from his spot he goes in search for a guard to tell him why the Kim’s are here.

When he can’t find anyone he goes towards the front of the castle where the entrance is, shifting uneasily as he approaches the guards where the doors are at.

He’s never quite liked them, because they eye him every time he goes anywhere near the door like they expect him to try and fight his way outside. As if he could even try with how small he is in comparison to them.

Awkwardly he stands near them, wondering how exactly to ask the question without seeming like he’s annoyed, because he definitely is. The walls talk in the castle and he knows not to say too much or show too much emotion so that it doesn’t get back to his father.

“Did you need something your highness?” one of the guards questions and it startles him, eyes widening as he looks up.

He supposes the guard isn’t too happy about him just standing there looking suspicious.

“I was just wondering why the Kim’s are here, I’m not planning anything,” he replies, getting a tiny glare from the guard who spoke up.

If he were Seungsoo such a thing would never be happening. If a guard were to glare at his brother he would be fired immediately.

“They’re here to see you, your highness,” the other guard answers, getting glared at as well so he supposes maybe he wasn’t supposed to know about it.

Briefly he wonders if it would be okay to throw a fit, since it is his birthday but he realizes it will have to wait. He needs to go hide himself so he doesn’t have to spend time anywhere near his fiancé.

Turning around he heads towards the staircase with plans on hiding in one of the many bathrooms when he hears Seungsoo call his name.

Sighing he stops in his tracks, shoulders deflating in defeat. Of course he won’t be having a birthday where he gets to do what he wants.

“I’ve been looking for you,” Seungsoo chirps, finally catching up to him and then handing him a book with a smile.

Reading the title he internally scoffs, looking up at his brother with a look of discontent.

“Don’t give me that look,” Seungsoo scolds lightly and this time he scoffs out loud, glaring at nothing and wondering if it would be impolite to throw the book in the fire place.

“It’s for your own good. Just read it.”

Kyungsoo glares, shaking his head and shoving the book right back at his brother.

“I’m not reading a book on relationship advice,” he bites out, insulted Seungsoo would even dare give him something so stupid. And on his birthday no less.

“You and Jongin are going to need all the help you can get. Don’t think I don’t know you tripped him during your engagement party. He told me,” Seungsoo voices, staring at the book and trying to hand it back to him so he crosses his arms over his chest and glares.

“Well I’m not surprised. He doesn’t have a very good track record on keeping his mouth shut,” he snaps, growing more annoyed by the second.

It certainly doesn’t help matters that his brother is taking Jongin’s side on everything when they are the ones that are related by blood.

“He climbed a wall to get to your room to apologize I don’t know what more you want from him,” Seungsoo scolds loudly and it makes him flinch, shrinking in on himself when he hears his father enter the room and ask what all the yelling is about.

Luckily the elder spares him and doesn’t tell their father he was acting up. But he’s still on edge around his father and even when his mother starts doting on him and gives him a kiss on his cheeks he’s still not calm.

His day has gone from bad to worse when he hears the Kim’s being let in and he realizes it’s only the King and Queen and Prince Jongin, the latter attempting to look like he wants to be there but Kyungsoo is a master at faking things, so he knows he’d rather be doing something else.

Awkwardly he stands off to the side while their parents talk and Seungsoo and Jongin greet each other. Kyungsoo watches because ever since the engagement party his brother and Jongin have looked uncomfortable with one another.

He supposes it’s because of him. Seungsoo’s best friend is going to marry him and he can only assume that put some kind of riff in their relationship.

Eventually his worst nightmare comes true and he’s forced to be alone with Prince Jongin in the room he was in earlier. He sits stiffly on his end of the couch and stares at the floor, trying to count how many lines there are on the throw carpet.

Jongin is the complete opposite and squirms every two seconds and Kyungsoo wants to tell him to quit, but he doesn’t want to get in trouble since his father is in the other room. He’d rather not be beaten on his birthday.

He nearly jumps when Jongin lets out an annoyed groan, dramatically searching around in his jacket pocket before tossing a box at him that nearly hits him in the nose.

“Happy Birthday,” the elder grumbles before going back to slouching in his seat, arms over his chest as he stares at the door.

Kyungsoo frowns, looking at the box and hesitantly opens it, feeling his stomach flop unhappily when he spots a ring.

It’s worse than the stupid book Seungsoo gave him.

“Don’t think I picked it out because I didn’t,” Jongin speaks up, sounding reluctant to even talk about it at all and honestly Kyungsoo wishes he wouldn’t. “It should fit you. You’ll get a gold one when we get….married.”

Jongin looks absolutely disgusted at the idea of them being married to one another and this isn’t a surprise to him. He feels the same way.

It’s just for the first time he’s realizing that absolutely nobody wants him.

Not his parents, not his brother, not even the person he’s supposed to marry.

Even if Jongin wasn’t as opposed to the marriage as he shows, he still wouldn’t want to get married to him of all people. His father made Seungsoo rush to get his wife pregnant because god forbid his brother were to die, he doesn’t want him anywhere near the throne.

He’s always knew that he wasn’t important, he just never seemed to realize it was because he wasn’t wanted in the first place. It’s no wonder they planned to have him married off since the day he was born.

He’s upset and he wants to be excused to go to his room so he can most likely cry until he falls asleep but he knows he’ll just get in trouble for offending everyone by wanting to be left alone.

So he silently slips the ring on his finger, hating the way it feels and knowing he’ll never get used to it.

Of all the birthday’s he’s had, this one is by far the worst. And he doubts it’ll ever get better.

Chapter Text

Kyungsoo’s stomach is in knots today, he feels like throwing up during breakfast so he doesn’t eat. Although the maids tell him it’s a long journey to the Kim’s castle, he just can’t force himself to eat anything that morning.

It’s the day he’s been dreading since he was thirteen, even more so recently after his birthday passed. The ring on his finger has felt like a dead weight on his hand this entire time, constantly reminding him that soon he won’t be in his home anymore.

He won’t be able to sleep in the comfort of the bed he’s had since he was just a little boy. He won’t be able to hide out in the library, although he hasn’t been able to in months, and that hurts just a little bit more than the rest. His mother won’t be there to coddle him when he feels lonely, even though she hasn’t since he was fifteen.

Instead he’ll be off with the Kim’s, being forced to live by their rules and standards. He’ll no longer be in the castle he’s grown up in. Even though he’s not happy here, it’s all he’s ever known and being sent somewhere completely new to him is terrifying.

He’s never been anywhere but inside the castle, if he’s ever been outside he was too young to even remember. He wants to be happy about finally being able to go outside, but given the circumstances, he’s not.

Nervously he sits in the front room and waits patiently to be called. His luggage is on one carriage while he’s going to be in another.

It’s already noon and he really wishes he could have been able to stomach something this morning because it’ll be a long trip. Seungsoo says he won’t get there until night time and he doesn’t know if they’re making any stops for anything.

When it comes time to leave he doesn’t want to. He’s so used to waking up and being in his room and he doesn’t want to know what it feels like to wake up to new walls and in a new bed. He wants to stay with his mom and his brother, but he has to leave.

His mother cries for five minutes before he can even get to the front doors, watching them open nervously, being blinded by the sun when they open. It’s bright outside and the air feels cold, his skin crawling with goosebumps when he feels the wind.

“It’ll be warmer in the carriage,” his mother tells him, leading him forward and towards the steps. He hesitates, but isn’t given a chance to stop as his mother pushes him forward gently.

Being outside is odd to him, there’s so much empty space and when he turns around he notices how the castle looks for the first time. It’s old and grey, vines growing everywhere. For seventeen years he’s been kept inside and never allowed to leave, now they're forcing him out.

“Hurry, before you get too cold,” his mother pesters, wrapping an arm around his waist and making him walk forward.

He makes sure to look around as he walks, taking everything in because who knows if he’ll ever be home again. When his mother comes to a stop he nearly trips, stumbling a little before he balances himself.

Looking up he sees Jongin and his brother, both looking upset but he’s not sure what they’re upset with. Awkwardly he keeps his eyes down, staring at the ground when his mother starts to pester Jongin instead.

“I’ll make sure to visit after the baby is born,” Seungsoo speaks up, lifting his chin before moving to give him a hug.

Numbly he nods, feeling his throat tighten. They’re basically replacing him with his niece or nephew. He doubts Seungsoo will even bother with a visit like he’s saying. He’ll have a baby to help take care of.

He was never important enough to be around with while he lived there, he doubts he’s important enough to travel for.

After his mother has taken another five minutes saying goodbye to him he’s helped into the carriage where it’s dark, but definitely warmer than outside.

He’s barely just sat down when Jongin gets in, closing the door behind him rather quickly and then taking a seat across from him.

Before he knows it he feels the carriage moving and he has to grip onto his seat to keep from falling. It’s not at all like he thought it would be, but then again he’s never even been outside, so he had no idea what it would be like in the first place.

“We’ll stop once we’re halfway there to eat. If you need to use the restroom you’ll have to hold it until we find some place suitable,” Jongin speaks up, looking bored like usual as he peeks behind the curtain that is covering the small window.

“If you get cold, you’ll have to sit by me.”

Kyungsoo frowns at that, not wanting to be any closer to his fiancé than he already is. The carriage isn’t that big to begin with, he already feels a little claustrophobic and he’ll only feel worse if he has to sit next to Jongin.

“You’re wearing your ring on the wrong finger,” Jongin points out causing him to freeze, looking down at his hand in confusion.

He nearly shrieks when the elder reaches across the buggy and grabs his hand, his entire body tensing. He’s not use to people touching him, his lip quivering as Jongin moves his ring to the proper hand, pausing and making a noise.

“Why are you nails like this?” Jongin questions causing him to snatch them away from his grip, hiding them underneath his thighs and keeping his head down, ears heating up in embarrassment.

“Biting your nails is what children do,” the elder scolds, sighing loudly before leaning back in his seat.

Kyungsoo bites his lip, keeping his eyes on the floor as his stomach starts to twist uncomfortably. He has the urge to bite his nails like he normally would, but he doesn’t want to get in trouble.

“I’m going to take a nap, I suggest you do the same,” Jongin mumbles before closing his eyes.

Kyungsoo looks at him for a while before peeking out the window, finding himself calm down when he realizes it’s almost like when he would look outside while in the palace. He only feels comfortable feeling like he’s still being locked up. The thought disturbs him.

Chapter Text

Kyungsoo can’t sleep. No matter how many times he shuts his eyes and tries, he simply can’t fall asleep. The carriage shakes as it moves and he’s colder than he’s ever been. His teeth are close to chattering, his hands are frozen and his feet are numb.

He doesn’t know what to do, because prince Jongin is sleeping and the slot to talk to the drivers and guard is on the opposite side where his fiancé is.

How he can sleep when its this cold is beyond him. It’s far too cold for royalty. It doesn’t help matters that he’s as tiny as he is. Kyungsoo isn’t dumb and knows he’s more likely to get hypothermia than Jongin would be.

Jongin may not be fat, but he’s not a stick like he is. He probably has eaten today too, whereas he hasn’t and he feels weak.

He knows that he needs to wake Jongin up and relay this information to him. But he doesn’t. Waking up Jongin will only make him mad, and he has to spend the entire day with him until they arrive at the Kim’s. It’s best if he just grins and bears it like he’s been taught to do so many times before.

So he does just that, moving to lie on his seat and turning to face the back, closing his eyes and trying to imagine the warmth of his old bed. How during the winter he was always given an extra wool blanket that smelt like lavender.

It’s a calming thought to him, and he falls asleep, body shaking and vision going black.

--

When Kyungsoo wakes up his body feels heavy. Everything aches and it’s silent. Whatever he’s lying on is soft, making him feel like he’s floating on a cloud.

And perhaps maybe he’s finally died. Maybe he’s finally been cut some slack and he’s in heaven now. He won’t have to go through life living with Prince Jongin like what was planned.

The thought makes him happy, a smile blooming on his face as he burrows deeper into the cloud, sighing at its warmth and comfort.

Heaven is warm, smells of sandalwood and a hint of mint. It’s peaceful, silent, serene and he feels content.

Although his body aches, maybe that’s just a side effect from death. Whatever it is, it’s nicer than the pain he’s felt before, it’s bearable.

Begrudgingly he slowly blinks his eyes open, reality crashing down on him like a ton of bricks. The air is knocked out of his lungs as he realizes he’s not dead, this isn’t heaven.

It’s an unfamiliar room, decorated with royal blues and silvers. The cloud he’s on is just a bed, one that isn’t his own. Looking at the door once his vision has cleared as much as it ever will his head starts to spin and his eyes start to fog up with unshed tears.

It’s the Kim’s castle.

A sob racks through him once he realizes what’s happened. His mind playing catch up, recalling how he left his home, how cold it was, how cold he was, before he passed out. He must have been unconscious for the remainder of the trip.

He calms himself down after a few minutes, not wanting to be caught crying of all things. He regulates his breathing, thinks of not so sad thoughts and closes his eyes. It’s a process he’s taught himself since he was little.

A prince is never to be caught crying by anyone. It makes him look weak and even though he knows he is, even though everyone knows he is, he’s not supposed to look it.

He thinks of his bed, how he would hide under the covers in the winter and pretend it was an igloo. It calms him down.

Letting out a shuddering breath he sits up fully, looking around in confusion. Not knowing where exactly he is he moves towards the side of the bed, lifting the covers and ignoring the fact that he’s in silk pajamas he puts his feet over the edge.

When he stands he feels a little dizzy but he ignores it, trying to walk but his body has other plans, his legs giving out causing his eyes to widen as he frantically reaches his arms out to grab whatever he can to stop himself from falling.

It doesn’t work and even though his grip on the curtains is tight, the rod holding them up comes loose and makes him crash onto the floor, the rod swinging and he winces as it hits the nearby dresser and vanity, the mirror breaking loudly.

He barely has time to open his eyes when the door opens, rushed footsteps sounding in his ears as he looks up, spotting Prince Jongin walking towards where he is before stopping, looking at the dresser and then back at him.

Kyungsoo bites his lip, squeezing his eyes shut as he prepares to be yelled at. The urge to cry is back again. He thinks of his old library.

“How did you even…,” Jongin trails off, sounding more confused than mad so he cracks an eye open, flinching harshly when a hand reaches out in his general direction.

He expects to get hit, because it wouldn’t be the first time and he probably deserves it for breaking something his first day with the Kim’s. He waits for the hit but it never comes. Instead the older boy effortless picks him off the floor before setting him on the bed.

Confused, he blinks his eyes open. Wondering if he was wrong about being dead. Jongin should have hit him. If not he should have gotten someone else to do it.

“How did you manage to pull the curtain down when you barely even weigh anything,” Jongin grumbles to himself, staring at the window where the curtain was hanging and then giving him a look.

“You broke my mirror. That was a present. Imported all the way from china,” Jongin stresses before letting out a loud sigh, shaking his head before looking back down at him with a frown.

Kyungsoo keeps an eye on his hands, just in case. He doesn’t trust the other prince one bit. He’s still waiting to get hit.

“Jini will be here soon, she’ll explain things to you,” Jongin voices, looking at him and then back at the broken mirror again. “Do not break any more of my things,” he states sternly.

Feeling like he should respond somehow he nods his head, keeping his eyes downcast. When Jongin’s feet are no longer in his vision, he looks up slightly, seeing him leave the room while shutting the door behind him rather loudly.

Sighing he brings his hand up to his forehead to wipe away the sweat he can feel forming. He’s so incredibly hot and cold all at the same time.

There’s only one other time that he’s ever felt like this and that was when he was nine and he got a fever from one of the maids that was taking care of him. He supposes he’s sick, maybe he did get hypothermia from the cold. It would explain why he didn’t even wake up until now.

Looking towards the window he sees the sky is brightly lit, although cloudy it’s clearly around midday. Meaning he slept almost an entire day.

So not only has he broken something valuable on his first day, but he’s sick as well and can’t even manage to stand on his own.

As far as his upbringing goes he’s doing a terrible job at being Prince Jongin’s betrothed. He’s not sure what exactly is required of him but he knows he’s not doing it. And the only reason he hasn’t been hit is because he’s sick.

He lies back down after a while, his entire body aching as he shivers, putting the covers back over himself. The thought occurs to him that he’s in Jongin’s bed and he’s disgusted, not knowing what he does here or who else has been in it before.

He supposes he won’t be getting his own room and although he’s not surprised, he’s upset. If he shares a room with Jongin he’ll never be able to be alone with his thoughts. He’ll have to pretend to be happy all the time and even if he’s good at faking his happiness, an expert even, he can’t keep it up for that long.

He has no idea how he’s going to cope with being here, how he’s going to manage to trick himself into being happy when he’s miles from home with someone he hates.

He’s scared but at the same time he feels like in the end it doesn’t matter. He gave up on thinking he could ever be truly happy a long time ago.

At this point it’s just useless to try and fight it. If he keeps his mouth shut, does whatever his fiancé asks, it’ll be easier.

He’ll be the perfect little prince he’s supposed to be and he won’t get hit. He won’t be yelled at.

Maybe if he plays the part well enough he can manage to trick the person who needs it the most.

Himself.

Chapter Text

Kyungsoo remains in bed for three days straight. Jini had visited like Jongin said she would, and she informed him that apparently he got sick on the way, but he honestly can’t recall anything. He just remembers being cold and then his mind goes blank.

She tells him Jongin was rather worried but he assumes she added that part in for show. He doubts Jongin cares about his wellbeing. But Jini seems sincere when she tells him that he should rest and eat well for the next couple of days.

The Kim girls have always been kind to him. So he believes her when she says not to worry about the broken mirror. He’s still skeptical, because the minute he lets his guard down he knows nothing good will happen, but for now, he believes her.

He spends the rest of the day in bed, being brought soups that taste nothing like they did at home. They aren’t bland and he finds himself eating more than he probably should. He feels guilty after he eats, hoping he doesn’t seem like a pig to anyone. But he also doesn’t want to offend anyone by not eating all his food.

He sleeps and he eats, occasionally getting up to use the restroom and on the third day, when he’s feeling much better he takes a bath.

Although this is apparently Jongin’s room he doesn’t see the prince at all. He’s thankful for it, because he doesn’t want to be near the elder in fear he’ll get hit for breaking the mirror.

On the fourth day he decides to leave the room. He wasn’t told he couldn’t and he’s tired of lying in bed all day. He dresses himself in clothes that look odd to him, but look similar to what Jongin is always wearing.

They’re dark in comparison to all the whites and light colors he always wore at home. They make him look paler than he really is, or perhaps he really is as light as he looks. He’s not sure because he’s never looked himself in the mirror for more than necessary.

He leaves the room without his crown, not knowing where it is. He peeks around his door before coming out slowly, shutting it behind him as quietly as possible before looking around.

The walls are vibrant compared to his home. The castle looks alive in comparison to his own that always seemed so cold and gloomy.

Not knowing which way to go, he takes a left, walking slowly down the hall and trying to be quiet. He takes a look at the walls and the portraits hanging up, past royal families and the occasional landscape portrait.

When he comes to the end of the hallway he sees a flight of stairs. Hesitantly he starts to walk down them, looking around while keeping a tight grip on the railing so he doesn’t fall.

Arriving at the next floor he realizes it must be the ground floor. The room he’s in has wide windows that he hesitantly walks over to. The view he gets is of a pond not too far from where he’s at surrounded by trees and flowers.

It’s a whole lot nicer looking than the views at home, although those were nice as well. But the Kim’s grass is a bright emerald green even in the winter, the pond looks like it’s frozen over and that’s a little sad to him.

He stares and stares until his breath is fogging up the glass and eventually he moves away, looking around the room and wondering how to get to the kitchen.

Or anywhere for that matter since he has no idea where in the castle he is. Sighing, he walks to his right, looking at the huge rooms with curious eyes.

Everything is decorated with the same color scheme, royal blue and silver. It’s makes the castle look important in a way, like the Kim’s are proud of their home. Which he supposes they should be. Kyungsoo wouldn’t know what that’s like though.

For everything his home was, the Kim’s castle isn’t. It’s kept a warm temperature all around, everything looks new and clean. It looks like people actually live there, it’s a weird feeling and he’s not sure if he likes it.

He was used to quietness and chill his home had all around. There were never more guards and maids than necessary roaming around the castle but he’s stumbled upon several since he left his room.

All of them bow to him and he doesn’t like it, not having the courage to ask what they’re doing bowing to him of all people nor does he have the nerve to ask where he is. None of them try to talk to him, he’s not sure why.

Eventually he ends up back in the room with all the windows, having gone in circles he lets out an agitated sigh. His stomach fills with anxiety when he realizes he’ll have to learn all the halls and rooms of his new home.

Seventeen years growing up in one place, knowing where everything is and suddenly he’s lost in a castle that is honestly freaking him out. It feels like a real home and he’s not used to it.

Giving up he goes back towards the windows, sitting down in the corner and pulling his knees up to his chest. His head hurts, his mouth is dry and his stomach is slowly starting to ache.

He groans quietly, gently rocking himself until he hears feet pattering on the floor. Hesitantly he looks up, spotting a boy no older than two or three standing right in front of him.

His heart leaps up into his throat in surprise, eyes wide as he flinches, getting giggled at by the little boy.

Once his vision clears up he realizes it’s Jini’s son, Joohyuk. He’s the one that cried during Seungsoo’s wedding.

He looks older, is a little taller and his hair has grown out. He holds out a hand so hesitantly he takes it, getting up and letting him drag him towards another room.

“Food, food, food,” he mumbles to himself, leading him all over the place and Kyungsoo is skeptical the little boy even knows where he’s going.

He’s also unsure if the boy is even supposed to be roaming the castle on his own. Shouldn’t he be with an elder?

Kyungsoo isn’t sure how they do things around here, so he doesn’t question the boy, holding his hand and being completely surprised when he walks into a dining room. The table round and large and completely empty.

“Food!” Joohyuk shouts, rushing over to the table and slowly he follows, looking around and wondering how on earth a three year old was able to find the dining room and he wasn’t.

Hesitantly he takes a seat next to the boy who is sitting on his knees because he can’t reach the table otherwise. He sits in his own seat stiffly, not knowing how this little boy expects food when no one else is here to order the workers to serve them.

So he’s confused and all sorts of surprised when two maids come out of a door to the right with two plates of what looks like some kind of pastry. Joohyuk squeals in glee as his plate is put in front of him.

Kyungsoo however frowns, staring at his plate and his stomach flops unhappily. It’s a chocolate filled pastry with powdered sugar sprinkled on top. He used to eat them all the time when he was a child until his father banned them because they made him fat.

The maid must see the displeasure on his face because she sticks around, fidgeting in her spot.

“Is there something wrong, your highness?” she eventually squeaks out, looking at him with a worried frown.

Kyungsoo shifts in his seat, picking up the plate reluctantly and moving to give it back.

“I can’t eat this,” he mumbles, setting his hands in his lap nervously.

“Is there something wrong with it?” the maid questions, looking over the pastry in confusion and then back at him.

“I’m not allowed to eat that,” he informs her, getting stared at like he’s crazy when it should be the other way around.

No maid back home would ever be caught giving him such a thing to eat. She should know he’s not allowed. She’ll probably get in trouble for not knowing.

They stare each other down for a while, Joohyuk ignoring them and devouring his sweets. He’s about to tell her to go throw it away when someone clears their throat causing him to flinch.

Looking to his right he spots Prince Jongin, looking at them in confusion. “Is there a problem?” he questions so Kyungsoo fidgets, staring at his lap.

The maid however speaks up. “He said…he’s not...allowed…to eat this?” she questions him, looking completely lost and Kyungsoo wonders if she’ll get fired.

He would feel bad, but he didn’t do anything wrong. He gave her a chance to go trash it but she just stared at him. He shouldn’t get in trouble since he didn’t even touch it.

Looking up at Jongin he’s confused to be getting the same look, like he is the one that’s crazy when it’s them. He hasn’t been allowed to eat sweets since he was a child. Jongin should know this. He told him he wasn’t allowed to have cake, why would this be any different?

“Who said you couldn’t eat that?” Jongin eventually questions, walking closer to the table with a frown.

Kyungsoo fidgets in his spot, toes curling in anxiety and his stomach makes a weird noise he’s sure everyone hear.

He takes a moment to breathe before he responds.

“My father.”

Jongin’s lips twitch and Kyungsoo’s worried he’s going to get in trouble for something, but Jongin doesn’t say anything. He just grabs the plate the maid is holding before shooing her off with a wave of his other hand and then setting it down in front of him.

Kyungsoo frowns, looking at the pastry and then up at Jongin who’s moving to sit in his own seat. He wants to ask what on earth he thinks he’s doing, but that would be talking back, and without permission.

“You don’t live with your father anymore. He’s not in charge of you. I am, and I don’t care what you eat,” Jongin states plainly, not even bothering to look at him because he’s too busy sending a glare to Joohyuk who’s got chocolate all over his face.

“And you are in trouble for wandering off….again,” Jongin scolds and the three year old giggles before stuffing his face some more.

Kyungsoo frowns, looking down at his plate then at Joohyuk and then Jongin.

He’s not sure what to think of his new home or the people occupying it.

All he knows is that the food is better.

Chapter Text

Living with the Kim’s is a huge adjustment. It’s completely different than what Kyungsoo grew up with and it’s stressing him out.

On top of trying to remember what hall leads where, he has to remember all the rules of the castle as well. Which, honestly, there aren’t any. No one’s told him he can’t go to a specific room or that he has to eat certain foods. There isn’t a maid waking him up at eight in the morning to get him ready for the day.

He can wake up whenever he wants to. He can attend lessons if he chooses to do so. Queen Kim has given him time to "adjust", she tells him. So he doesn’t have any tutors or professors for him at the moment.

It’s all very confusing to him. When he goes downstairs for breakfast he expects the plain oatmeal he was given every other morning. Instead he gets sweets and pancakes with actual syrup.

He can go in and out of the kitchen whenever he pleases. There isn’t a mean chef telling him to get out. There aren’t maids who gossip about whether or not he’s gaining weight.

It feels weird to not have someone monitoring his food and breathing down his neck half the day while he studies.

He’s free to do whatever he wants, as Jongin told him, but he’s almost positive it’s because the elder doesn’t want to spend time with him.

He has no idea what Jongin does all day. All he knows is that he’s still not sleeping in the bed with him and he’s glad. It’s not his place to ask the elder anything anyways. If Jongin doesn’t tell him, it’s not his business.

But even though there are almost no rules and everyone is friendly it’s still hard. Sometimes he forgets what it’s like there and he finds himself being stared at like he’s crazy when he says he can’t have a certain food or that he’s not allowed to do certain things.

Just last night Jini had talked to him, like a child might he add, about how he’s allowed to go outside whenever he wants. He should just tell a guard so that they know he’s safe.

He told her no; that his father would never allow him outside and that he would get in trouble.

She explained it to him again. Slower that time. Speaking softer as well.

But he still shook his head. His father wouldn’t want him outside.

Even if he doesn’t live with him now, he’s worried his father will find out about it. Jongin may have told him his father isn’t in charge of him now, but it’s not so simple for him. His father was in charge of him his whole life. If his father told him he couldn’t do something then he couldn’t do it. Period.

If he misbehaved his father would make sure he knew what he did was wrong. He has a scar on his knee and elbow to prove it.

A part of him knows he’s being paranoid, his father can’t possibly know what he’s doing miles away from home.

But it’s still engrained into him.

His entire life, seventeen years, he was told what he can and cannot do and to suddenly be told that everything he learned is useless doesn’t settle well with him.

He was taught to be quiet and not speak out of line but the Kim’s look at him expectantly when there’s a conversation going on. Jinhee told him he should talk more the other day.

He was told what he can and cannot eat, yet every day he’s served more food than he can handle and it’s almost always something fattening and hearty. If he doesn’t finish it all no one cares, but if he eats too little, although it feels regular to him, he’s asked if he’s not feeling well.

It’s overwhelming and the worst part of it all is that he’s never left alone.

If he looks like he doesn’t feel well they fret over him. They make him go lie in bed but won’t stop checking in on him. They touch and hug him and it feels foreign and he doesn’t like it.

Sometimes he does well and handles all the new sensations with relative ease. But then there are days where he shuts it all out.

Today is one of those days and it’s not good. He feels worse than he normally does.

He’s locked himself in his and Jongin’s room. He refuses to answer all the knocks on the door. He wants to be left alone and this is the only way it’s happening.

He doesn’t want to get odd looks today. He doesn’t want to force himself to eat foods he was never allowed to. He doesn’t want to force himself to eat larger portion sizes when he knows it’s going to make him fat.

He doesn’t want to be touched. He wants silence. He wants to be alone.

But the Kim’s apparently can’t take a hint.

The keep knocking. Over and over and over. The sound is loud in his ears and makes his head pound.

He ends up hiding under the thick blanket, pressing a pillow over his head until it’s silent.

He can only hear a couple of birds chirping outside and the wind blowing gently. It might be snowing but he hasn’t checked today.

Sighing he peeks his head out from the comforter, squinting and slowly sitting up. Confused he blinks his eyes and tilts his head. He must have finally gone crazy, because he’s almost positive he sees the bookshelf on the wall moving.

Slowly he gets up from bed, tip toeing towards the shelf and watching in awe as it moves forwards, dust coming from the seams and he nearly falls on his butt when he hears someone coughing.

Not a couple seconds later the shelf is completely disconnected from its original place and Prince Jongin is popping out of the secret passage that apparently connects to his room.

He’s coughing and full of dust, so Kyungsoo assumes it hasn’t been used in a long time. Curious he peeks his head around the elder, looking at how dark the passage is and wondering how Jongin even found his way there in the dark.

When Jongin clears his throat his eyes go back to his fiancé, the elder completely covered in dust and cobwebs causing him to bite his lip. He looks ridiculous. But he doesn’t dare laugh in fear he’ll get in trouble.

He settles with staring, watching Jongin rub at his eyes and cough. It almost makes him feel bad. But not much.

“I hate that staircase,” Jongin wheezes, straightening himself out and then looking at him with a deep frown.

Kyungsoo shifts on his feet, keeping his eyes down as he chews on his lip.

“Why is my door locked?” the elder inquires and Kyungsoo freezes, biting on his lip harshly and shrinking in on himself.

Not knowing what to say he shrugs, moving out of the way when Jongin rushes towards his bathroom.

Sighing he goes to sit on the bed, swinging his feet back and forth while listening to Jongin mumble in the bathroom while cleaning his face. He comes out with a towel and wet hair, grumbling under his breath about dirt.

Kyungsoo looks up, watching him skeptically and frowning when he takes a seat next to him on the bed. Discreetly he scoots away, keeping his hands in his lap.

“You’re worrying everyone by locking yourself in here,” Jongin sighs out, ruffling his hair with his towel.

Kyungsoo purses his lips, moving to bite his nails. He sneaks a look at Jongin and flinches when he realizes he’s being watched.

“You tell me you’re not allowed to each chocolate almost daily, but you bite your nails. Honestly you don’t make any sense,” Jongin sighs out, shaking his head before tossing the towel on the floor.

Kyungsoo stops what he’s doing, putting his hands back in his lap and shifting in his seat.

“If you want to be alone you have to say something. I can’t read your mind,” Jongin speaks up, getting off the bed and walking around.

“I’ll cover for you this time, but next time you’ll have to tell them yourself, okay?” Jongin questions, looking at him expectantly so he nods his head.

“So you want to be left alone?” he questions further, again he nods his head. “Alright.... I’ll tell a maid to bring you breakfast in a little bit,” he tells him.

Kyungsoo nods again, wringing his hands nervously in his lap as he waits for him to leave. He’s near the door when he turns back around quickly, scaring him so much he shrieks, looking at the elder with wide eyes.

“I um, well, Joohyuk made you a picture,” Jongin explains, looking red in the face as he pulls out a piece of paper from his pocket, handing it over before moving away.

Kyungsoo opens it and tilts his head, wondering if it’s upside-down or if it’s just that messy. Joohyuk is three after all.

“It’s supposed to be you,” Jongin explains before coughing again, walking towards the door quickly and unlocking it. “Keep the door unlocked. . . No one is going to bother you,” he rushes out before leaving rather swiftly.

Looking back down at the picture he sees why. There’s two poorly drawn stick figures with crowns on their heads, presumably one is him and the other must be Jongin.

There are red blots all over it that looks similar to hearts so he snorts. The kid has a very active imagination, he’ll give him that.

Getting up from the bed he moves to put it on the nightstand with the missing mirror, staring at it before sighing. He grabs it, folding the picture in half and effectively cutting off the part that has Jongin before rolling his eyes and folding it back to the way it was before.

“Why couldn’t he have drawn a duck or something,” he mutters to himself before getting back in bed and hiding under the covers.

He tries not to think about how he’s only here to marry Jongin.

Chapter Text

By Kyungsoo’s third week at the Kim’s he’s able to find the dining room on his own. He knows that the King and Queen’s room is on the fourth floor. Jinhee and her husband along with Jini and her family are on the third floor and down the hall from him. He doesn’t know where Jongin sleeps, he’s just happy its not with him.

He doesn’t see his fiancé often, Prince Jongin is always doing something or another and Kyungsoo doesn’t question it. He sees him at every meal, that’s enough for his liking.

Sometimes when he’s sitting in the room Jongin will come in to grab something he needs and occasionally will try and talk to him.

It’s always something to do with the weather and he honestly has nothing to say, so he keeps his mouth shut. A nod or a shake of his head is sufficient enough when being talked to. He learned this when he was eleven.

He was never allowed to talk whenever he wanted growing up, and saying as little as possible when being talked to is what kept him out of trouble. He realized that no one cared to listen to his opinions on anything, they’d rather have him smile and nod than oppose to anything.

Being quiet is what he’s good at. It’s the only thing he’s good at so he keeps his mouth shut. But the Kim’s want him to talk and he just doesn’t know what to say.

At the dinner table they all sit close together, rather than at a large rectangular table like they have back home that had too many chairs for just four or five people. The Kim’s table is round and everyone has a seat filled next to them. They eat and talk to one another, often laughing loudly and he does his best to look interested in their stories from the day.

More often then not they’ll ask him how his day went and he has to hold back from staring at them like they’re all crazy. He doesn’t understand why anyone would care about his day. He doesn’t do anything but wander around the castle and sit in Jongin’s room staring outside.

His day isn’t interesting nor is it important, but the one time he told Princess Jinhee that she looked rather upset. Kyungsoo doesn’t know if it’s because she’s expecting or if he offended her, but either way he doesn’t reply when she asks him anymore. He shrugs and hope she doesn’t press the matter.

Sometimes Princess Jini will give him this look he can’t quite describe, but it makes him feel like he’s doing something wrong. He just doesn’t know what.

He’s acting like he was taught to act. He’s quiet and doesn’t speak out of line. He does his best to answer their questions. He’s not doing anything wrong.

He doesn’t dwell on it too much, since he doesn’t see her quite often. She’s busy with the King most of the time. Jinhee is also very pregnant and usually stays in one room at a time, not caring to walk around this far into her pregnancy.

The only person he sees constantly when he’s outside of his room is Joohyuk. The three year always forces him to partake in some kind of game or hands him a crayon and paper and gives him an expectant look.

Kyungsoo doesn’t mind, Joohyuk is his favorite Kim if he’s being frank. Joohyuk’s vocabulary isn’t all the extensive yet, being only three. So he doesn’t pester him to talk either, occasionally just mumbles something or wants a reassuring smile that he’s doing a good job on his picture.

Kyungsoo likes having the company of the three year old. He likes not being given concerned or expectant looks. To Joohyuk everything he does or says is worth a clap or a bright smile followed by a giggle. He can’t possibly screw up and make the child mad. He can’t get in trouble and its nice.

He hasn’t seen him today though since he opted out on breakfast. He had taken a bath yesterday and while he was enjoying the warm water he noticed he had gained some weight. It brought back memories of the maids poking fun at him when he was younger, reminded him of Prince Sehun’s mean taunts and he immediately got dressed.

His clothes fit him perfectly right now. The attire the Kim’s have him wearing still isn’t something he’s used to but it’s what he has and if he gains weight they won’t fit him the same.

Skipping a meal isn’t something he likes doing. If he had his way he’d eat more than three meals a day, especially with how the Kim’s chef cooks, but being a prince he has an image to uphold.

He’s not supposed to be chubby like he was when he was younger. His father’s voice is in the back of his head, scolding him for eating too many fattening foods so he doesn’t go downstairs for breakfast.

Instead he’s in Jongin’s room, sitting on the floor with a throw blanket resting in his lap as he stares outside. The window he’s in front of leads out to the balcony where he can see snow falling.

Even if he’s been told he’s allowed to go outside and use it, he hasn’t. Sitting by the window is just as good as sitting on the balcony. It’s warmer too.

When a knock on the door and a maid tells him lunch is ready, he chooses to ignore it. His stomach growls in protest but he knows how to tune it out. He’ll just have a glass of milk when everyone is out of the dining room later.

Sighing he pulls his knees up to his chest, hugging them tightly and keeping his gaze outside. The snow is falling down quicker than before and looking down at the gravel of the balcony, it’s sticking and forming a thick layer.

Kyungsoo’s seen people play in the snow, how it leaves footprints and forms into a ball when clumped together perfectly. But he was never allowed. His mother always told him he could get sick if he went outside in the cold.

Remembering the trip to the Kim’s he supposes she wasn’t lying entirely. He did get sick the one time he went outside. In the cold to top it off.

Wondering how cold the window is he reaches a hand out, immediately pulling it back into his lap when he hears the door open.

He looks up and spots Jongin staring at him with a frown, his arms crossed as he looks out the window and then back down at him.

“Jinhee said you weren’t at breakfast.”

Kyungsoo nods, staring up at the elder and curling his toes anxiously and praying his stomach doesn’t grumble.

“Lunch was served over fifteen minutes ago, why are you just sitting there?” Jongin questions so he shrugs, not knowing what to say.

Maybe Jongin will take his silence as him wanting to be left alone and he’ll leave. He opts to stare out the window, hoping it’ll make the message clearer.

He’s honestly expecting the elder to leave him alone, so he’s startled when Prince Jongin actually sits across from him.

Confused he eyes the elder, frowning when he doesn’t say anything. He just sits there silently staring at him and it’s uncomfortable.

It’s so uncomfortable he internally rolls his eyes, shoving the blanket off of his feet and standing up. He’d rather go eat and get fat than have the elder stare at him and not say anything.

“Where are you going?” Jongin calls after him which he ignores, rushing out of the room and turning right and heading towards the stairs.

He can’t even skip a meal in peace in this castle, he thinks bitterly, holding onto the guard rail as he walks down the staircase. He picks up the pace when Jongin calls after him again.

The elder basically ignores him since he got here and now he suddenly wants his company. It doesn’t settle well with him. Prince Jongin probably wants something from him. He’s not willing to find out what it is.

He’s made it to the bottom floor, the kitchen only several rooms away when Jongin finally catches up to him and he sighs, giving up and stopping in his spot.

He supposes he’s never going to be left alone like he was back home. It’s probably time to accept it and learn to cope with it.

“Well why are you stopping now?” Jongin huffs at him, grabbing his arm and pulling him towards the dining room.

Kyungsoo tries to keep his face passive but he really hates how Jongin’s hand feels on his wrist.

“I was trying to tell you my father has guests. I told them you were sleeping. You’re welcome,” Jongin tells him, stopping in front of the dining room doors and looking him over.

He flinches when the elder moves to fix the collar on his shirt, lips turning downwards. He supposes it’s necessary, if they have guests over he’s supposed to look a certain way, but he still doesn’t like being touched. By Jongin no less.

“Just bow when I do and when they speak to you be polite,” Jongin mumbles, moving to fix his hair but he pulls away, at his limit of being messed with.

Already annoyed and starving his mood isn’t good, so he forgets to bite his tongue and keep his comments to himself.

“If you actually think they’re going to talk to someone as unimportant as I am then you’re an idiot,” he bites out, fixing his hair himself and adjusting the sleeves on his shirt.

“Who told you that?” Jongin questions and he regrets not just locking himself in the restroom today. He could have lied and said he was having stomach issues. People never question that.

“Told me what?” he replies, irritated and making it known to the older prince. He’ll play nice when he’s in front of people, mostly because he has to, but Jongin deserves no kindness from him at the moment. Or ever for that matter, he thinks.

“That you’re not important,” Jongin clarifies, giving him that look Jini has been giving him these days. It’s honestly starting to drive him insane.

“I figured it out when I was eight, now can we go eat so you can leave me alone?” he snaps, feeling his head start to spin at the lack of food added onto the annoyance Jongin is causing him.

The elder seems to finally grasp the concept, not pestering him anymore and he’s glad. But before they actually enter the dining room Jongin does say one thing. He tells him he is important and if the doors weren’t opening he’d laugh.

Because for someone who isn’t going to be King, Jongin sure knows how to lie.

Chapter Text

Kyungsoo has been doing a lot of sighing lately. It’s something he’s noticed not so much because he’s spending more time with the boy, but because he’s paying more attention to him.

There’s just something rather odd about his fiancé. Not only does he argue with the servants about what he’s “allowed” to eat, but he belittles himself almost every time he’s heard him speak.

Jongin knew Kyungsoo lived with restrictions, most princes do to an extent. He just didn’t this it was that bad. He still isn’t sure of how many restrictions Kyungsoo lived with at his old home.

He knows that he was denied some of the most basic things any person should have such as desserts, freedom of speech, and the ability to even set foot outside. He knew these were things Kyungsoo wasn’t allowed to do, he’s just not sure why.

Even royals from up north where traditions are upheld to a tee don’t put that many restrictions on their princes or princesses that are to be married off into other families.

Growing up he never thought much of how Kyungsoo was never around and when he was he wasn’t quite there. It was honestly none of his business. But now that this seventeen year old is sleeping in his bed, living with him, is going to be his husband in less than a year. He’s worried.

It’s the sighing that’s bothering him. It’s like he has something to say but is holding back from actually talking. So he settles with a sigh before looking down at his lap or staring out a window.

Today Jongin has nothing to do so he’s been secretly watching Kyungsoo play with Joohyuk and it’s even more worrisome because even playing with a child isn’t enough for Kyungsoo to sincerely smile.

It looks fake and forced. It doesn’t reach his eyes.

When Joohyuk hugs him Kyungsoo looks uncomfortable. He’s never seen him hug the three year old back.

Eventually Jini comes to get Joohyuk for his classes and Kyungsoo is left alone again. The seventeen year old sits in the room for a while before getting up and Jongin follows.

He keeps as quiet as he can, trailing after the younger boy and freezing whenever Kyungsoo stops to look out one of the large windows in the hallway that leads to the staircase.

It’s snowing outside and the younger prince seems to be admiring the snowflakes before he turns around and heads towards the stairs again. Jongin rushes after him, watching him turn the corner and he stealthily creeps towards the wall, poking his head around the edge and screeching when Kyungsoo is standing there glaring at him.

He got caught.

“Don’t you have anything better to do than follow me all day?” Kyungsoo questions, sneering at him with his arms crossed.

Jongin blushes, clearing his throat awkwardly before rubbing his neck.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“I saw you standing behind the wall earlier. You’re not as smart as you think you are, your highness,” Kyungsoo huffs out, giving him an annoyed glare that he pointedly ignores.

If Kyungsoo wants to glare at him his entire life, that’s his problem. He’ll just have to learn to ignore it.

“Call me Jongin,” he replies, straightening himself out and giving the younger boy a look. “We’re going to be married in a year so you might as well get used to using my actual name.”

Kyungsoo stares at him with a frown before rolling his eyes. “No thank you,” he states bluntly before turning around and walking away.

Jongin blanches, huffing irritably before following after the younger boy. His attitude is staring to annoy him, but rather than get angry about it he’s trying to be understanding.

The reality is that Kyungsoo is stuck here until both of them die and it would be a lot easier if he just learned to deal with the younger boy rather than make things difficult and argue. If only Kyungsoo would do the same.

“Will you quit walking away every time I try talking to you?” he questions exasperatedly, speeding up after Kyungsoo who happens to walk pretty quickly for someone with short legs.

When Kyungsoo stops suddenly he has to slow down or risk bumping into him. He doubts the younger boy would take that well.

Kyungsoo stands there with his arms crossed and gives him and impatient look. Shifting on his feet he wonders what he should even say to the boy. He wasn’t expecting to get caught spying in the first place so he definitely wasn’t thinking of topics to talk about with Kyungsoo.

Not being able to think of anything else to say, he asks the obvious.

“Where are you going?”

Kyungsoo lets out an irritated grumble before sighing. Jongin tries not to make a face.

“To your room,” he eventually mutters monotonously. His face looks even more bored than his tone.

Our room,” he corrects, offering the younger boy a smile.

His mother always said a smile can go a long way. He’s starting to doubt that though because Kyungsoo doesn’t look the least bit affected by it.

Normally when someone smiles at you, your reaction is to smile back. Smiles are contagious. But apparently Kyungsoo is immune.

“It’s our room, not just mine. It’s yours too,” he clarifies, keeping the smile on his face and hoping the younger boy will crack. He has to know how to smile sincerely.

He waits, and waits, and waits some more until his cheeks are starting to hurt and then he just gives up, the smile slipping from his face and turning into a frown.

“Why don’t you smile?” he huffs out, frustrated because he could spy on Kyungsoo all day and he still wouldn’t understand the seventeen year old one bit.

“I don’t have much of a reason to, Jongin. Now, can I go to our room?” the younger prince bites out, plastering the fakest smile he’s ever seen on his lips just to smite him. He nods dumbly, feeling the need to sigh but he refrains from doing so. Sighing is what got him upset in the first place.

The younger boy takes off with a huff, shaking his head before disappearing up the stairs leaving him standing there feeling like an idiot.

Moping he turns around with plans on going to the kitchen to ask for some food when he hears his sister’s voice calling him from down the hall.

He stops, turning around and frowning when she catches up to him and looks upset. Normally Jini is rather calm and collected when it comes to her emotions, so this is unsettling to him.

“Is Kyungsoo upstairs?” she questions, composing herself while he nods his head.

“He just went up, why?” he asks, brows furrowing in confusion because he swore she had a meeting with their father today to attend to.

“Mother and father need to talk to you alone, about Kyungsoo,” she replies, giving him a timid smile that leaves an uncomfortable feeling settling in his gut.

“You know he has by far the fakest smile I have ever seen,” he rants, following after her and shaking his head.

Jini doesn’t reply so he follows her in silence, wondering what his parents have to say. It’s obviously something important if Jini is the one coming to get him. He bites his lip when they get to the throne room, something his parents only use when they have guests. So it really must be important.

“It’s sad to be honest,” Jini replies quietly while they wait to enter the room. Jongin is taken by surprise at her comment, not understanding what she means he gives her a confused look.

“Sad?”

“Some people, they smile to make it look like they’re happy. Growing up, it was always obvious with him. The older he got the less he tried to fake it,” Jini comments, sighing before giving him a tiny smile, her eyes looking sad.

“Father and mother will explain everything, go on,” she mumbles, patting his arm before leaving.

Jongin can only sigh.

Chapter Text

Kyungsoo grumbles, pulling on his collar for the umpteenth time that afternoon before letting out an aggravated huff. He glares towards the maid that is passing through and watches as she shuffles out of the room quickly.

He’s irritated with the suit the Kim’s provided him with for the party they’re throwing. Princess Jinhee gave birth to a healthy baby girl just a week ago and now as per tradition, they are having a party to celebrate.

Kyungsoo has only seen Rahee once, a little while after she was born and Jongin is the one that all but dragged him to the nursery on the other side of the castle.

He’s realized his fiancé has a soft spot for children. As if watching Jongin carry little Joohyuk around on his back all day like a horse wasn’t proof enough, the minute he saw Rahee a giant grin blossomed onto his face. Kyungsoo chooses to forget the fact that he looked close to tears.

For two weeks Prince Jongin has been nothing but annoying to him. He never leaves him alone. If he’s going to eat then Prince Jongin follows him, speaking so much that Kyungsoo has unfortunately learned he can’t tune him out.

If he decides to wander around the castle out of boredom the older prince thinks it’s his duty to give him a tour complete with commentary.

It’s annoying and he can’t even be alone anymore because Prince Jongin has moved back into his room. Although he sleeps on a couch that sits near the restroom doors.

So Kyungsoo has been doing whatever he can to make this entire thing tolerable. He pretends to eat more when in reality he’s stuffing food in his pockets, having to throw it away when someone isn’t looking.

He forces himself to plaster the picture perfect smile on his face when there are people around. His cheeks hurt from the strain and his jaw hurts at night from grinding his teeth.

He tries his hardest to make it seem like he’s happy and he’s adjusting but even if everyone else buys it, Prince Jongin doesn’t and it’s infuriating.

“There you are!” a familiar voice calls out and his eye twitches, his lips pulling into a tight line as Prince Jongin walks over to him.

“You weren’t in our room and the maids had no idea where you went,” Jongin informs him, the same stupid smile on his face as he stops in front of him.

He’s wearing a suit similar to the one he has on, only it fits him better. His own is loose in several different places and the collar is too tight for comfort.

Sighing he looks away from his fiancé and towards the window, seeing buggy’s and carriages all lined up outside. It’s lightly snowing and the people all rush towards the entrance, the cold being too much to bear.

“Your family won’t be coming,” Jongin interrupts the silence and he nearly rolls his eyes. He wasn’t expecting them to. “My father wanted me to tell you that your sister-in-law wasn’t well enough to travel yet. Seungsoo wrote you a letter, it’s upstairs. You can read it after the party,” his fiancé explains, keeping the smile on his face.

Kyungsoo eyes him before looking away and biting his lip. He honestly hadn’t thought about his family coming, but now that Jongin has brought them up an uncomfortable feeling of want settles in his gut.

“There’s going to be a lot of people at the party. Some royals you probably haven’t met before. Just be polite and it should go by quickly,” Jongin encourages, giving his arm a reassuring squeeze that has him scowling and shoving the elder’s arm.

Jongin’s smile falters slightly and Kyungsoo picks up on it immediately. Jongin is only being nice to him for some reason he hasn’t figured out yet and he knows the elder is close to cracking. If anyone knows what fake friendliness looks like, it’s him.

“Can’t you just say okay and smile like normal people?” Jongin asks exasperatedly, pinching the bridge of his nose out of frustration.

“Okay,” he states plainly before putting a smile on his face just to mess with him. He watches with caution when the elder’s hand twitches.

“And not be sarcastic about it!” Jongin huffs, the smile completely vanished from his face and replaced with a scowl instead.

A little voice in the back of his head tells him I told you so.

“Well then no. I can’t your highness,” he replies, letting the smile fall from his face and inching backwards when Jongin begins to look mad. Although no one has hit him yet he’s not about to let his guard down.

“You are by far the most infuriating person I have ever had the displeasure of meeting! I try and be nice to you and you act like an ungrateful brat!” Jongin shouts, actually shoving him hard enough that his head knocks against the window with a loud thud.

It’s nothing compared to what his father has done, so he doesn’t make a peep.

“You don’t want my help then fine. You’re on your own from now on. See if I care!” he huffs before stomping off leaving him alone in the room.

Kyungsoo sighs, rubbing the back of his head and finding there isn’t going to be a bruise, which he’s thankful for. In all honestly, Prince Jongin hits like a child compared to his father. He acts like one too.

His fiancé ignores him the entire time they introduce Rahee to the other royals. When the party commences Prince Jongin ignores his sister’s instructions to take him to meet new people leaving him alone with the Princess and her family.

When she tells him to go after her brother he does so begrudgingly. He’s not dumb enough to argue with someone who is next in line for the throne.

So he walks towards the direction Jongin went, looking around for his fiancé but failing to spot him among the many royals all scattered around in the ballroom.

His stomach twists with anxiety and his hands clench and unclench as he tries to find someone familiar. There are so many new faces he sees all around him and on top of that, he never learned to cope with large crowds of people.

His breathing quickens as his eyes frantically search for Jongin until someone yanks on his ear harshly making him whimper.

Only one person has ever treated him that roughly.

“Look who’s all grown up,” the stranger drawls out lazily.

Kyungsoo recognizes the voice instantly. Although it’s gotten deeper and more articulate, there’s no denying that it’s coming from Prince Sehun.

Looking up only confirms his suspicions and his stomach drops. The other Prince has gotten so much taller than the last time he saw him. If he were to compare him with his fiancé, Sehun would be taller than Jongin.

His jaw is sharp and he’s lanky but built at the same time. His face looks almost the same, maybe thinner and a little older but it does nothing but bring back bad memories.

“What? You’re too good to say hello now?” Sehun pesters, forcing him to look up by grabbing his chin.

He wants to glare, to spit in the elder’s face and leave but he knows his place. Especially now that he’s no longer in his own castle, he knows he’s not important enough to be allowed to fight back.

The only thing he can do is rebelliously keep his mouth shut, face blank as Prince Sehun all but sneers at him.

He has to force his hands not to shake as the older prince moves his chin to inspect his face, his lips pursing in a manner that makes him uncomfortable and worried he’ll get in trouble. No one should be allowed to touch him like that.

“I can see why Jongin must have ditched you. You’re not much to look at,” Sehun states bluntly and suddenly, he feels like he’s a child again.

He’s not the seventeen year old in the Kim’s castle but a thirteen year old back home who was poked and prodded at constantly.

“It’s no wonder he’s with someone else,” Sehun says with a skewed smile.

Hearing this makes his brows furrow in confusion, wincing as Sehun grabs his arm tightly and turns him around, moving his head towards a certain direction where he sees what he’s talking about.

Jongin is with someone else. He’s with a girl, a princess from the looks of it. They’re talking and she smiles back at him without faking it. She’s pretty, he notes, looking like everything a princess should and it only reminds him that if Jongin wasn’t bound to him since he was born, he’d be with someone like her. Not someone like him.

“It’s a shame he’s stuck with you instead of her. Honestly, you’ll be lucky if he makes use of you in bed,” Sehun tells him, smirking slightly while looking back down at him. “Even then. I doubt he even shares a bed with you.”

Kyungsoo goes rigid in his grip, his jaw setting as he looks away from Jongin. He feels his hands twitch because Prince Sehun is right. He hates that he’s right.

“Pity. If I were him I’d at least make some use of you. It’s probably the only thing you’ll be good at.” Sehun speaks so casually about it, doesn’t even sound the least bit bothered that he’s manhandling someone else’s betrothed and insinuating all that he is.

Prince Sehun has never had any shame in bullying him when he was younger and it seems he hasn’t gotten better with age. He’s just gotten wiser on how to taunt him. Instead of belittling his looks he’s belittling his worth.

But he’s right. He’s never liked Prince Sehun because he’s always been right. It’s the bitter truth.

Except now Kyungsoo is old enough to realize Prince Sehun is just like him. His older brother is the one in line for the throne. Sehun has a fiancée just like he does. The thought makes him smile.

“I’m sure Princess Jinri feels the same about you, your highness,” he states bluntly, wincing when the elder grabs the back of his neck hard enough to bruise.

His eyes water at the sting, his shoulders lifting up out of reflex as he bites down on his lip to keep from making a noise.

“I don’t recall giving you permission to speak,” Sehun hisses, his grip tightening and just when he’s about to scream someone is shoving Prince Sehun and making him stumble backwards, his hands leaving his neck.

He blinks his eyes quickly, looking around in confusion until he looks down and sees little Joohyuk glaring at Prince Sehun leaving him along with the other prince stunned.

Joohyuk stomps over to Sehun and kicks him in the leg leaving him wide eyed, staring at Sehun who looks just as shocked.

“Go away,” Joohyuk huffs out, giving him the deadliest glare a three year old can muster up.

Still shocked he looks up at Prince Sehun, the elders face heating up rather quickly and he flinches when he turns to give him a glare before stomping off into the crowd of people.

Recovering from the entire ordeal he looks back down at Joohyuk, the three year old rushing over to him with a bright smile and holding his arms up.

Kyungsoo feels his eyes water as he moves to pick him up, returning the hug the three year old gives him and burying his face in his hair. He’s not supposed to cry in public.

“Hyung?” Joohyuk mumbles, looking up at him with worried eyes and a pout.

“I’m fine,” he replies, sniffling before looking around and thankfully, no one’s noticed anything that just happened.

Sighing he looking back down at Joohyuk, the three year old beaming at him and he can’t help but smile back.

“Let’s go play,” he tells him, getting a hug in return.

--



Jongin has lost his fiancé. He can’t find him anywhere in the ballroom and he is secretly about to have a fit.

He knows he told the boy he was on his own, he just didn’t think Kyungsoo would take him seriously. He was frustrated with his attitude, and he knows he shouldn’t be. His family did a number on him that won’t be easily erased.

But still, his temper has never been good. He can only handle so much trying with no attempt on the other end.

Either way Kyungsoo is his responsibility. And if his sister or mother knew he ditched him, they’ll have his head.

“Jongin!” a voice shouts and he composes himself, hoping he doesn’t look worried like he is as he turns around and waits for his brother-in-law to catch up to him.

Junyoung looks almost about the same, his eyes filled with worry but a smile is plastered on his face to compose himself. It doesn’t make him feel any better.

“You wouldn’t happen to know where Joohyuk is, would you?” Junyoung questions and Jongin’s eyes nearly bug out of his head.

“You lost your son?” he questions incredulously, knowing Jini will be furious if she finds out. You don’t mess with a mother hen. You just don’t.

“Where’s Prince Kyungsoo?” Junyoung throws back at him and he flushes, avoiding the elders gaze and clearing his throat.

“They might be together, if Joohyuk isn’t in the ballroom,” he replies instead, going back towards the direction he was heading and they both walk in silence, steps quick as they look around.

A loud laugh stops them both in their tracks and they share a look before heading towards where it came from.

At the aviary they spot two guards standing near the doors that are wide open and both can hear Joohyuk’s loud giggles. The guards bow before straightening themselves out.

“Why is my son in there?” Junyoung questions, sounding confused but relieved that they at least found him.

Jongin takes a peek inside but can’t spot the three year old. He can just hear him giggling.

“Prince Kyungsoo asked if they could enter,” the guard on the right replies, a smile blossoming onto his face.

Jongin quickly becomes confused, looking at the two guards and then his brother-in-law with a frown. The aviary is close to being outside. The only thing that makes it indoors are the large windows that stay open. It’s technically not outside, but it might as well be.

“My…fiancé….asked you?” he questions dumbly, not believing that one, Kyungsoo would talk to the guards and two, that he would want to go somewhere that he’s repetitively told everyone he’s not allowed to be.

Both guards give him eager nods. Junyoung enters before him so stupidly he follows, still very confused as to what is going on. The closer they get the louder Joohyuk’s laughter is, and soon Jongin realizes someone else is laughing with him.

Even more confused before he peeks around the corner, spotting his nephew with a little bird he couldn’t tell you the name of. He has feed in his hands and his giggles surprising don’t scare the poor thing.

But what really throws him off is his fiancé is right there with Joohyuk in his lap, a bright smile on his face that nearly makes him fall over. Luckily Junyoung is right there and helps him but it also alerts the two princes of their presence.

The bird flies away and Joohyuk pouts before looking over at them with a bright smile.

“Daddy!” Joohyuk shouts, scrambling out of Kyungsoo’s lap to go hug his father, also to be scolded for wandering off….again.

Meanwhile Jongin looks back at his fiancé, the smile is still on his face and for once, it matches his eyes. It nearly takes over his whole face when Joohyuk rushes back over to him for a hug, which he returns.

“I’m sorry we took off,” Kyungsoo speaks up, startling them both and honestly, Jongin feels like he’s dreaming. “But I couldn’t find anyone to tell,” he finishes, giving him a look accompanied with a frown that has his face heating up guiltily.

Junyoung recovers faster than he does, so he tells him it’s alright before thanking him for taking care of Joohyuk. He turns to leave knowing the boy is in good hands but Jongin stays rooted in his spot, watching as his nephew manages to coax out more smiles from his fiancé.

His smiles are radiant and briefly, Jongin wonders if they’ll ever be directed at him.

Chapter Text

He’s doing it again, Kyungsoo notes irritably. He takes a deep breath, counts to ten in his head and then gets distracted when Joohyuk hands him a leaf. He takes it with a smile, forgetting the reason he’s annoyed briefly before looking out of the corner of his eye. Seeing a figure move quickly he’s remembered why his patience is being tested.

Prince Jongin is spying on him…again. It’s the fourth time this week and it’s grown to be a bother.

He thinks he’s being sneaky, but in reality his crown shimmers in the light of the greenhouse, giving him away almost always.

The first day it happened Kyungsoo ignored it. He assumed the elder was keeping an eye on him because of his change in mood.

But then the next day Kyungsoo noticed him again. He was slightly annoyed. By the third day Kyungsoo had grown irritated. And now, he’s starting to think his fiancé has nothing better to do but to watch him and Joohyuk.

And if that’s the way he wants things to be then fine. Kyungsoo has a few tricks up his sleeves to get rid of him. Or, at least get him to own up to what he’s doing.

“Joohyuk ah,” he calls, beckoning the child towards him. Joohyuk smiles, rushing over to him from where he was picking more leaves off the ground.

Smirking he moves to whisper in the three year old’s ears. Having learned the layout of the greenhouse the first day he ventured into it with Joohyuk, he knows that if the three year old were to go towards the exit and then make a right, he’ll be in the row Jongin is hiding in behind some bushes.

Knowing that the three year old is quite clever for his age, managing to sneak off any chance he gets, and knowing his fiancé will be too absorbed in whatever is going on in that empty head of his, he won’t notice Joohyuk sneaking up behind him.

It’ll be too late to realize he’s been caught by the time Joohyuk screams from behind the elder.

Kyungsoo shakes his head as Jongin falls on his butt, his own scream leaving his lips as he’s scared out of his hiding spot.

Joohyuk giggles as he rushes back, sitting himself in his lap and laughing as Jongin gets up off the floor with cheeks as red as the rose bushes he was hiding behind.

“Your pants are dirty, your highness,” he points out, patting Joohyuk on the head for a job well done.

Prince Jongin looks like he’s trying really hard to keep whatever dignity he has left as he wipes his pants off. He straightens himself up and then stands there silently.

Kyungsoo waits.

“I was just…passing through. I didn’t want to interrupt,” Prince Jongin voices, his face still a deep shade of red.

Joohyuk giggles again, pointing a finger towards his uncle and squirming in his lap.

“Hyung fell!” he giggles out and Kyungsoo struggles not to laugh, watching as his fiancé looks wide eyed at his nephew.

Kyungsoo ducks his head when he feels himself about to crack, smiling behind Joohyuk’s head while biting his lip.

“I did not fall. I tripped,” Jongin huffs out, eyeing his nephew and fiancé who’s hiding his face.

Shifting on his feet he moves to fix his crown, wondering if he’s going to be able to actually go through with asking Kyungsoo to lunch.

Although he’s noticed a change in the boy’s behavior, he’s still skeptical. Because Kyungsoo only ever looks like a normal person when he’s around Joohyuk. The other day when he was in the same room as his mother and father he looked just as blank as when he arrived.

With Joohyuk though, Kyungsoo smiles and actually talks. It’s quiet half of the time and he really can’t hear what they’re talking about but it’s still talking.

Either way he straightens himself out and tries to keep the blush off his face from falling earlier and quite possibly screaming louder than his noona when she saw a grey spider in her tub a month ago.

Taking a deep breath he attempts to smile, staring at his fiancé and then speaking.

“Do you want to have lunch with me?” he questions in what he hopes is a friendly voice. He can never be too sure when it comes to Kyungsoo.

Even if he thinks he sounds friendly, his fiancé always looks at him as if he’s got some ulterior motive. He could have the best smile on his lips and Kyungsoo will still frown at him.

He’s frowning right now actually. His brows are furrowed and he doesn’t look the least bit interested in having lunch with him.

“I figured we should spend more time together,” he adds on, straining to keep the smile on his face.

“Is that why you've been hiding behind the same rose bush for the past four days?” his fiancé questions him causing his eyes to widen, his body going stiff in embarrassment.

He can’t even form a reply quick enough before Kyungsoo is moving to stand up, giving him yet another blank look.

“I’m not hungry,” Kyungsoo replies plainly before giving him a glare and then walking out of the green house.

Jongin stands there dumbly, looking down at Joohyuk who’s pouting. Sighing he moves to sit next to the three year old, getting handed a leaf before Joohyuk is rushing after Kyungsoo.

Maybe next week he’ll ask again.

Chapter Text

It’s storming today, the sounds of thunder echoing in the castle every now and then. Kyungsoo doesn’t mind the noise, he quite enjoys it actually. It’s made the castle darker and a little gloomy looking reminding him of home.

He’s bored, Joohyuk has lessons today so he has no one to hang out with. He could sit in on the child’s lessons, but he doesn’t feel like relearning anything today. Besides, Joohyuk is probably listening to things they taught Seungsoo, not him.

With nothing to do he opts to stay in Jongin’s room, sitting on the floor near the window and watching the rainfall.

He has his legs pulled to his chest, a small blanket draped on his back. At his feet sits his letter from his brother.

Since he’s bored he’s contemplating reading it, having no idea what he would even be writing about. Probably dumb brotherly advice or something, he thinks.

After he’s stared at it for a good thirty minutes, he thinks of burning it, but he’s never been allowed to handle matches. So he doesn’t know how to use them, not to mention he has no idea where to find them.

Sighing he picks it up from the floor, turning it around and seeing the blue wax seal, his family crest pressed into it. His fingers move over it, feeling the ridges and grooves.

He’s never written a letter before, let alone had one addressed to him. If he were to read his brother’s letter, which he might be contemplating out of boredom, he would probably have to write back.

The thing bothering him most about this possible situation he might find himself in if he gets even more bored than he already is, is that he would have to seal the envelope his letter would be in.

Kyungsoo is more than positive the Kim’s don’t have an extra Do crest sealer around the castle. So he would have to use theirs and it’s the first time in his life that he’s realizing he’s never even used his own family crest seal in anything.

He’s never written a letter, he’s never had to sign anything of importance with his name on it, let alone his seal.

It strikes a nerve with him, his lips forming a scowl as his fingers scrunch the paper up. The thick parchment lets out a noise as it crinkles up.

He’s not going to read it. He’s going to get rid of it.

Standing up he looks around, already knowing there’s a small trash bin near Jongin’s dresser. But he knows that won’t be getting rid of it, it’ll only be placing it in a new place until the maids pick up.

Looking around he contemplates what to do, there’s no fireplace in Jongin’s room. Even if there was he wouldn’t know how to turn it on.

Biting his lip he looks towards the window, knowing that if he threw it outside it would get soaking wet and the ink would bleed, making the writing illegible.

Hesitantly he walks towards the window, looking at the latch and contemplating it. He wouldn’t have to go outside, just open the window and then throw the letter.

Figuring it’s the only thing he can do to get rid of the letter permanently he reaches out to undo the latch, his hand shaking as he pulls the window open. Immediately his face is hit with wind, raindrops falling onto the floor.

It’s cold, the wind making the hairs on his arm stand up as he brings his hand and hesitantly puts it outside. The rain immediately soaks up his sleeve, his fingers going numb quickly so he brings it back in, looking down at the letter and back outside.

Biting his lip he realizes how ridiculous this is, throwing a letter out into the rain. Smiling he takes a deep breath and then he tosses it onto the balcony, watching the rain pelt down on the parchment and the wind slowly move the letter.

A laugh tickles at his throat as he watches it tumble and then go over the edge of the balcony, probably to end up deteriorating due to the rain.

Content with the fate of his brother’s letter he closes the window back up, hooking the latch back into place and then staring outside as the rand continues to fall.

Sighing he turns around, going towards the wardrobe to find a new shirt so that way his arm doesn’t get cold.

When he’s done he sits on the bed, feeling his stomach grumble he wonders if lunch is being served yet. Normally someone comes to get him if it has and he hasn’t arrived within ten minutes.

Lately, Prince Jongin has been asking him to lunch. He seems very persistent each and every time but of course, he always says no.

Trying to eat while alone with the elder does nothing to raise his appetite. It’s hard enough eating with the King or Queen at the table. Being alone with his fiancé does not sound appealing.

He knows he should make more of an effort to get used to Prince Jongin. He told himself he would at least try, but, it’s not so simple.

Every time he thinks to accept the invitation, he hesitates, his brain taking over and doing what it does best. He starts to think, because that’s all he’s ever been allowed to do. No one has ever told him not to think.

They just try and make sure he doesn’t act on it. He’s not allowed to speak his mind, but that certainly never meant he couldn’t have an opinion. It’s not like they could stop him from it.

And his thoughts have never been good about Prince Jongin. Although, when he was younger he saw him as the boy his brother was best friends with. He was the one that he rarely heard talk.

He never had a problem with Jongin until he indirectly got him beaten. Even if he didn’t know it would happen, he’s still the one that told Seungsoo who then told his father.

The scars he has from that day will always remind him of his fiancé and his brother. Even if he one day forgives them, the scars aren’t going to go away.

So for now, he lets his brain do its thing. He still doesn’t have nice thoughts about Jongin, he’s still angry.

When Jongin comes in and asks if he wants lunch, he says no.

Chapter Text

After several days of rainfall, the skies finally clear out. The sun is shining brightly, only a few stray clouds in the sky when Kyungsoo wakes up.

It’s become routine for him to look out the window once he’s awake and dressed for the day. It’s something he did back home when he had no lessons and after the library got locked up. With nothing else to do he would look outside.

Sometimes he would wish he could go out there, sit in the grass or maybe learn to ride a horse. Maybe run around in the rain or perhaps play in the snow with his brother. When he was younger that’s all he wanted to do; go outside.

Seungsoo was always outside, especially during the summer. Kyungsoo would watch curiously as he ran around or rode his horse only to come back inside drenching with sweat. It’s something Kyungsoo has only experienced in the middle of night when he has nightmares.

He wonders what it would be like to actually feel the sun heat your skin first hand. Kyungsoo has only ever felt the sun through glass windows, sometimes when he was feeling rebellious he would crack the window open just a tiny bit and feel it that way.

The only time he’s been outside the sun wasn’t all that bright and he was only out in the open for a short amount of time.

Everything is blurry from that day, he can’t quite remember how he felt other than terrified. The one time he can remember going outside he got sick.

His first memory of going outside isn’t all that great and sometimes he thinks he should get a do over, but he hesitates.

Every time he thinks to finally take a step outside or follow after Joohyuk who quite likes playing in the garden, he remembers his father and how he would never allow it. Even when he was a child his father would tell him no.

It didn’t matter if he had a guard with him, or his brother, not even his mother. His father forbid it. Even when he was feeling rebellious, he never even dreamt of disobeying his father that way. He would hide away from his teachers, sometimes sneak a piece of chocolate when he was younger, never would he go outside.

But now everyone tells him he can go outside if he pleases. Sometimes Joohyuk begs him to play in the garden with him, but he can never get himself to join.

What would his father do if he heard that the Kim’s were letting him go outside and eat whatever he wanted?

Sometimes Kyungsoo gets paranoid that he’ll find out and punish him. He knows he shouldn’t, that it’s irrational to think like that when he’s practically one of the Kim’s now, but legally he isn’t. Not until he gets married to Jongin will it be official.

Sighing he rests his head against the window, smiling slightly when he can feel the sun’s rays hitting him.

Hearing a groan he snaps out of his daydreaming, looking over towards the couch where Prince Jongin sleeps and seeing him wake up. The elder’s hair is unruly and his eyes are barely open as he yawns, scratching his chin while looking around.

Kyungsoo usually leaves the room before his fiancé wakes up. If not, he wakes up after Jongin already has. So this is new for him, seeing the elder wake up and scratch himself like an old bartender in a filthy pub. It’s very improper of him and Kyungsoo almost laughs, biting his lip and nearly making it bleed when he realizes the elder sleeps shirtless.

When Prince Jongin spots him he inches in on himself, finding the carpet quite interesting all of a sudden.

“Good morning,” Jongin greets, so he looks up, immediately spotting too much skin he looks back down. He doesn’t return the greeting, wondering if he’ll get in trouble for just walking out of the room now. It would probably be considered rude he decides, so he stays seated.

“No good morning? Fine,” Prince Jongin sighs out, standing up and heading to the bathroom. But not without a muttered, “Why do I even bother.”

Kyungsoo frowns, watching the bathroom door close silently. Eventually he stands up and heads for the kitchen. Breakfast should be ready by now and today he’s hungry.

When he finally arrives at the kitchen he notices only Jini and her husband are present. Normally, he eats breakfast with Joohyuk, but it seems the child has already started his lessons. Princess Jinhee and her husband have probably gotten food delivered to their room, seeing as how Rahee is still so young.

Awkwardly he takes the seat furthest from them both, keeping his head down and staring at his empty plate.

They both greet him a good morning so he looks up and gives a tentative smile before looking back down at his plate.

A kitchen maid comes out a minute later with his breakfast, some fruits and a bowl of yogurt. He sighs before cutting up the fruit with his fork and then pouring it into the yogurt. While he stirs it around he looks up at Princess Jini, seeing her reading over something in her hands while her husband has all his focus on his food.

Biting his lip he wonders if it would be okay to ask her for his own room. Surely he won’t have to go to the King or Queen about it. Asking Jongin is out of the question, seeing as how he got upset about him not greeting him a good morning.

Staring at his bowl he mentally tries to prepare himself to speak up. Initiating a conversation is something he doesn’t do, mostly because he’s always been told not to. He’s always been told to keep his mouth shut.

Hearing a chair scrape across the floor he looks up, seeing Prince Jongin he immediately deflates, knowing he can’t ask now.

The more he thinks about it, it would probably be useless to ask anyways. Princess Jini would probably tell him no or to ask Prince Jongin. And well, Kyungsoo knows his fiancé would tell him no and more than likely be upset with him.

“Good morning,” Jongin greets, mostly to his brother-in-law and sister, seeing as how he’s taken the seat closest to them instead of one next to him.

Kyungsoo’s lips twitch into a small frown as he chews on his strawberries, confused because Jongin has been making it a point to sit next to him for who knows how long.

Princess Jini seems to notice the same, but unlike him, she questions Jongin about it, much to his dismay.

“Why aren’t you sitting next to your fiancé?” she questions, setting her papers down and looking towards her brother while picking up her spoon.

Kyungsoo keeps his head down, taking another spoonful of yogurt and putting it into his mouth quickly.

Jongin doesn’t reply, doing the exact thing as him and stuffing his mouth with food. Kyungsoo watches out of the corner of his eye.

“Maybe they had a fight, it’s not our place to say anything,” Junyoung speaks up, laughing nervously so Kyungsoo stares at him, highly amused.

Princess Jini doesn’t seem to care if it’s her place or not, and Kyungsoo can’t blame her. She’s going to be Queen one day. It’s her place regardless of the situation to speak up.

“Jongin, I asked you a question,” she states sternly, her tone making him inch in on himself and nearly drop his spoon.

Looking up through his bangs he can see Jongin looking a tiny bit threatened, but his mouth remains closed and his eyes stay trained on his food.

For a moment Prince Jongin looks scared, nearly terrified and he has to stop himself from laughing. The fact that his fiancé who towers over him is nearly shaking in his seat because of his sister, amuses him.

Trying to hold back his laughter he takes another spoonful of yogurt, watching Jongin flinch when his sister sets her spoon down loudly. When she opens her mouth and scolds him to reply when she’s talking-to him, he can’t take it anymore, a laugh bubbling out of his throat making his yogurt shoot onto his plate.

It’s hilarious to him because Prince Jongin always tries to act so tough, but in reality, he gets freighted by Joohyuk who is only three and is terrified of his sister even threatening him.

This entire time he’s been scared of getting in trouble with Jongin and the elder hurting him when in reality, Jongin probably couldn’t even go through with a real punishment. In fact, the onetime Jongin did lay hands on him, it felt like he wasn’t being pushed by Joohyuk.

Realizing that he’s actually laughing out loud his eyes widen and he immediately shuts his mouth. His face quickly heats up when he realizes he spit out his food and the Kim’s are staring at him.

“I-I-I’m s-sorry,” he stutters, immediately getting out of his chair, abandoning his left over food and high tailing it out of the kitchen area.

He nearly trips on his own two feet as he walks towards the stairs, stray laughs leaving his mouth making him think he’s finally snapped. He’s finally lost his mind.

Not being able to walk and laugh at the same time he sits on the bottom of the stairs, clutching his stomach as he doubles over in laughter. He can feels his eyes watering and his upper stomach aches and his lungs are screaming at him but he can’t stop.

By the time that he does several maids have passed by and given him confused looks and the guards near the door are looking highly amused.

Sighing he wipes at his eyes, patting his face and shaking his head to gather his bearings. Looking around he takes a deep breath, not believing he completely lost it like that.

He’s never laughed so hard in his entire life and frankly, he’s never had much of a reason to. He wasn’t even allowed to laugh back home. One time he laughed at Seungsoo for falling and his father got angry with him.

But seeing as how Joohyuk has laughed at his fiancé on more than one occasion, he assumes nobody cares here. It’s weird, a funny feeling to know that you aren’t going to get in trouble for doing something as simple as laughing.

It almost feels wrong in a sense. If he had laughed like that back home he’d be being beaten by now, he thinks.

Biting his lip he lifts the sleeve of his shirt, his old scars coming into view perfectly. He doesn’t like looking at them, he thinks they’re ugly, especially the one closer to his elbow because that’s the one he did to himself. But there they are, constantly reminding him of his father.

Sometimes he still wonders if he really deserved it, for treating Prince Jongin like he did. If he had been born as a commoner, would his father had beat him?

The Kim’s certainly never would, that’s become clear to him. It became clear to him after his first month living with them that there was something wrong with his real family.

His entire life he grew up thinking something was wrong with him, that he was the one that wasn’t good enough.

But in reality it’s his family that’s defective. Normal people don’t force their children to stay inside one place their entire life. They don’t punish their own children and the Kim’s are proof of that.

The fact that he isn’t being chained to a wall and being whipped right now makes it evidently clear that something isn’t as it should be back home.

It’s something he’s forced himself not to think about, because regardless if his family is normal or not one thing is still clear to him. They treated him the way they did because they never wanted him.

If his father saw him the same as he did Seungsoo, he never would have hit him like that. They wouldn’t have cared if he went outside or not. Even if his family was normal, they still wouldn’t have wanted him. He’s sure of it.

Hearing footsteps he covers his arms up, using his sleeves to wipe away at the stray tears that have fallen from his eyes and then looks up.

It’s Prince Jongin and his father so he immediately stands up, his pulse quickening in fear on instinct.

“Ah, there you are. Did you enjoy your breakfast?” the King questions him and he immediately nods his head, his hands wringing together nervously.

The King has never talked to him directly before and it does nothing to settle his frazzled nerves.

“It would appear that your fiancé is needed on a trip I have to take to the North. Is that alright with you?”

Kyungsoo’s brows immediately furrow in confusion, not understanding what exactly the King just asked him of all people. He shouldn’t need his permission for anything. It’s baffling to him, so he just stands there.

When he doesn’t respond Prince Jongin looks out the tiniest of huffs, clearing his throat and then giving him an embarrassed look.

“He’s asking you to let me go with him,” Jongin explains and his laughter almost starts up again, but then he realizes his fiancé is serious and the feeling immediately dissipates.

Dumbly he nods his head, not knowing what to say without sounding rude. He can’t just ask the King of all people questions like the one’s he’s thinking.

“Ah, good! I’m sure you two have been getting along splendidly, but don’t worry. He’ll only be gone for a day or two,” the King reassures him and immediately he looks down at the floor, feeling guilty because no, they have not been getting along.

Jongin has been trying and he’s been ignoring him. It hasn’t bothered his conscience up until now, but the King looks so happy at the prospect that he even needs to ask his permission to spend time away from Jongin, he can't help but feel guilty.

“I’ll let you two say goodbye then. Be ready within an hours’ time,” the King tells Jongin, giving him a smile before leaving.

Quietly he bows, watching him walk off and his guards scurrying after him. Looking over at Prince Jongin he waits for him to say something. The elder is just staring at him, his face unreadable making him feel upset.

“If you need anything while I’m gone ask either Jini or Junyoung. Jinhee hasn’t been feeling well. I’m going to go pack,” Jongin states plainly, not bothering to tell him goodbye before going up the stairs.

Sighing he sits back down, pulling his knees up to his chest and resting his head on his knees.

He’s a little happy that he won’t be bothered constantly by the elder for the next two days, but he feels a little guilty for feeling that way. Especially after King Kim looked so happy.

Letting out a sigh, Kyungsoo figures if he can never make his real father happy, the least he could do is try to make King Kim happy. He supposes he has two days to figure out what exactly that consists of but one thing is certain. He might actually have to talk to Prince Jongin instead of ignoring him.

The thought makes him frown.

Chapter Text

The first day without Prince Jongin is odd. The elder isn’t following him around, doesn’t bother him and he isn’t asked to lunch. It’s quiet, no constant chatter in his ear as he sits around.

It’s uncomfortable at first, having gotten used to the elder’s ramblings but eventually he feels fine. He went his whole life with silence and it’s easier getting reused to it than it was learning to deal with noise and chatter.

He eats lunch with Joohyuk, the three year old showing him his improved penmanship and several pictures he drew over the past week. Kyungsoo is sad to say there’s a lot of him and Jongin.

He doesn’t quite understand why Joohyuk seems adamant on drawing them with hearts above their heads, but he doesn’t dare tell him anything. He would hate if he hurt the young Prince’s feelings.

After Joohyuk has gone back to his lessons he’s left alone again and he’s quite bored. He’s already gotten tired of staring outside and he’s already wandered around the first floor twice.

When he can’t take sitting still any longer he decides today is the day he’ll explore the third floor. He hasn’t dared to do so the entire time he’s been here. He hasn’t been quite comfortable in exploring the castle because he was unfamiliar with the layout, but now that he’s been here for some time, he’s sure he can manage.

Walking up the main stairwell is simple enough and before he knows it he’s on the third floor. Entering the hallway on his right he’s surprised to see the walls are painted a shade of blue that almost looks lavender.

The décor matches perfectly as he continues to wander, peeking his head into a door every now and then, always finding nothing worth exploring. Most of the rooms he discovers look like they’re reserved for when guests stay at the castle. Nothing more than a bed and a wardrobe dresser is visible.

When he gets to the end of the hall he sighs, opening up the door to his right and being pleasantly surprised. What he sees in a narrow hallway that leads to another door, and being curious he decides to go in.

Its cold, a draft of air making him shiver as he reaches out and turns the handle for the door. He’s met with a narrow stairwell made of dark cherry wood. Biting his lip he peeks up, wondering where it leads to and why it’s so cold.

He contemplates going up the stairs, knowing he has nothing better to do he decides to find out what’s up there. He climbs the stairwell with little difficulty, had he been taller or wider he knows he would have been crammed the entire way up.

Once he reaches the top it’s even colder than it was before, he can feel a bitter cold draft of wind coming from somewhere in the room he’s found. It’s rather large, a table in the center while there are bookshelves aligned on the walls.

Walking further into the room he notices why it’s so cold, a doorframe with no actual door leads outside onto a small patio, a table made of marble in the middle of it with two chairs.

Satisfied with his finding he smiles, walking over to the bookshelves and nearly crying at the familiar smell of old parchment. It reminds him of his old library, although, entirely different, the smell is the same.

Excited he reaches out and grabs a book, never even thinking he would miss something so much. He doesn’t even like to read, but he became accustomed to it; it was familiar to him when he was bored to go to the library and read a book.

Smiling he goes and takes a seat on a couch in the corner of the room surrounded by more bookshelves. Sighing he opens up the book, flipping through the pages while trying to get comfortable.

It’s hard though, the draft from the open doorframe sending in nothing but cold air. Shivering he gets up, leaving his book behind and walking over to peek outside.

Looking up he sees that the room is surrounded by the walls of the castle, limited amount of sunlight shining down on the spot. His eyes wander around the area, a shiver going down his spine at the temperature.

Sighing he knows he won’t be able to enjoy himself if it’s too cold in the room. Pursing his lips he contemplates what to do.

He really wants to stay and read, but he knows that it isn’t possible in the cold. Especially since he hasn’t fared well with cold temperatures in the past.

Deciding it would be wise to go and come back when he has a blanket or two he turns around and heads for the stairwell.

He walks down quickly, reaching for the doorknob and going rigid when it won’t turn. He blinks twice before trying again, feeling his pulse pick up when he realizes it’s locked.

He’s locked in.

Taking a deep breath he turns around, trying not to panic as he makes his way back into the room to try and find another door. There has to be another door for him to get back into the hallway or into another hallway.

Looking around he messes with the books on the shelves, peeking behind them and then searching for another exit but there isn’t one.

Feeling panicky he walks towards the open doorframe, hesitantly he peeks his head out, looking to his left and then to his right and seeing no way out. However, to his right is the only part that isn’t directly facing a part of the castle.

Biting his lip he takes a tiny step forward, shaking as he tries to fully walk onto the patio. His stomach is twisting in knots as he finally makes it out fully into the open. It feels odd and just plain wrong and he wants to run back into the room, but he has to try and find an exit.

Shuffling to the right he peeks around the ledge, hands shaking as he comes to the realization that he’s deathly terrified of heights.

He feels like vomiting on top of crying as he stares down at the ground and the side of the castle where lone and behold there’s an old wooden latter leading onto a balcony of another room.

Taking a deep breath he moves to get his leg over the ledge, cursing everyone and everything in his head as he tries not to cry.

He won’t cry. He won’t.

With shaking hands and legs he manages to get over the ledge, but having to look down to get his feet on the latter is another story.

It’s not as terrifying as being beaten by your father, but it’s a close second he concludes. He doesn’t dare open his eyes as he manages his way down rather slowly.

He tries to concentrate on the fact that he’s outside, on his own. He should be happy. He’s out in the fresh cold air…just climbing down the side of the castle and fearing for his life.

Maybe once he’s got two feet planted on the ground he’ll allow himself to cry tears of joy and fear. But for now he just tries to get to that balcony.

The biggest mistake he makes is thinking that having his eyes closed would help him. The only thing it does is make him blind to the fact that from years of wear and tear there’s a missing ledge and his foot slips, his grip on the bars above him loosening enough to make him go free falling onto the balcony.

It’s not that far of a drop, he made some progress climbing down with his eyes closed. But it’s still enough to make his landing a harsh one, his wrist cracking under his weight as he attempted to not let his face get smashed.

His crash must have been loud enough that the maids heard because it takes but a couple of minutes for two guards to come rushing out and lifting him up.

He lets himself get carried off, normally not someone who likes to be touched, let alone carried. But, his wrist is probably broken. So he tells them he fell when they question him.

And then he swears to never go outside ever again before crying.

Chapter Text

A vacation is just what Jongin needed. Although, it technically wasn’t a vacation, he was away on royal affairs, but still. He was out of the castle for two whole days.

Two days where he didn’t have to practically pull out everything he could every think of to say to his fiancé just to get him talking. Of course, no matter the subject, his fiancé still hasn’t uttered more than several words to him since he’s been here.

He thinks maybe one time it wasn’t even meant for him, maybe he was talking to Joohyuk.

Either way, it’s mentally exhausting trying to converse with the seventeen year old. It’s like talking to a brick wall and expecting a smile and a reply.

Being around him is a draining process. He tries to stay optimistic in the morning, but by the time they eat dinner he doesn’t ever think Kyungsoo will talk to him on his own accord. He gets a good night’s rest and then repeats the same process the next day.

He doesn’t have the heart to tell his father any of this when he questions him during their trip. He smiles and says things are going well, complete lies because he’s sure Do Kyungsoo will despise him until he takes his last breath.

So it felt nice to get away from the negativity that surrounds Prince Kyungsoo for two days. He feels lighter, a tad bit happier that he’s been away.

But arriving back he feels his shoulders slumping ever so slightly, his mood starting to turn sour. Looking through the window of the buggy he sees them pass through the gates, a small sigh passing out of his lips as he realizes they’re finally home.

From the looks of it, the sun will be setting soon, so at least he won’t have to socialize for that long until bed time.

If anything he can go to bed early and blame it on fatigue from travel. That way he can get a good night’s rest before he repeats the mundane cycle of trying to talk to Do Kyungsoo.

Entering the castle he fakes a yawn, rubbing his eyes as he follows his father to the dining room. He can’t pass up dinner but he could fake drowsiness and retire early.

Once he makes it to the table he’s pleasantly surprised to see only Joohyuk and his brother-in-law along with Kyungsoo. Everyone else must have already eaten he concludes.

It’s not unusual for Kyungsoo to stall until the last minute to eat. He supposes the boy does it to avoid talking, which, works for the most part.

What is unusual is that it appears that his nephew is feeding his fiancé. Looking closer he’s shocked to see a sling on his fiancé’s arm, a plaster bandage around his hand and past his wrist.

“What happened?” he questions incredulously, rushing the rest of the way and stopping awkwardly at the opposite end of the table. It would be uncomfortable if he were to go all the way to where Kyungsoo is sitting.

He doubts the boy would take kindly to him being so close. From past experience, Kyungsoo wants him as far away as possible.

He looks towards Junyoung for some kind of explanation and then towards Kyungsoo who has his head down.

“Hyung falled!” Joohyuk exclaims, looking wide eyed as he sits up more in his chair.

“He fell, Joohyuk,” his brother-in-law corrects, clearing his throat awkwardly before standing to bow at his father who has returned to the table without his coat.

“Are you alright, Kyungsoo?” his father questions, looking concerned as well.

Kyungsoo merely nods his head, shifting in his seat before looking up at them both.

“I’m fine, your highness,” he mumbles, biting his lip before ducking his head once again.

“What happened?” he questions yet again, growing impatient as takes a seat. He was only gone for two days and the boy ends up hurting himself.

When Kyungsoo doesn’t say anything he looks towards Junyoung, giving him a look. If Kyungsoo won’t tell him anything, not like he was expecting anything different, then his brother-in-law will.

“A maid said she was doing laundry when she heard a crash on the balcony. Apparently Prince Kyungsoo fell from somewhere outside? But he won’t say from where…It’s all rather confusing,” Junyoung explains, giving a timid smile before going back to his food.

“His hand is broked!” Joohyuk shouts again, pointing at Kyungsoo’s arm with a pout.

Broken,” Kyungsoo corrects quietly, surprising Jongin.

Jongin eyes them as his plate gets set down in front of him, his gaze traveling down to Kyungsoo’s arm. It’s his right one, probably his dominant hand because whenever he tries to use his utensils with his left he struggles. He supposes that’s why Joohyuk is feeding him.

“A maid has been helping him since yesterday. But since you’re back I’m sure he would prefer you,” Junyoung speaks up, setting his utensils down and then beckoning a maid over.

“Come on Joohyuk, it’s time for you to get ready for bed.”

Jongin watches as his nephew pulls out a pout, his tiny shoulders deflating as he gets picked up from his seat by his father.

“But hyung!” Joohyuk whines, reaching out for Kyungsoo who only gives the boy a smile and a wave.

“Kyungsoo will be fine, say goodnight.”

Joohyuk huffs childishly before doing as he’s told, bidding them all a goodnight and waving goodbye sadly as he gets carried off.

Sighing Jongin spares his fiancé one last glance before concentrating on his food. He hasn’t eaten since lunch and it would be a lie to say he isn’t starving. He nearly forgets his manners while stuffing his face.

Hearing an aggravated huff he looks up with a mouthful of food, seeing his fiancé glaring at his plate, his left hand struggling and failing to grasp a chunk of rice with his chopsticks.

When he feels someone nudge him on the arm he looks to his right, getting a scolding look from his father. Dumbly he blinks his eyes, looking over at Kyungsoo and then back at his father. He supposes now is the moment his father finds out he’s a fraud and Kyungsoo hates his guts.

“Go help him,” his father states sternly but quietly, stirring the porridge he was served.

Jongin hesitates, shifting in his seat and rubbing the back of his neck as he watches Kyungsoo set his utensils down and glare at them, looking on the verge of tears.

“He doesn’t want my help. He doesn’t even like me,” he grumbles, reaching for his cup and taking a sip of his water.

He flinches when his father gets up and announces that he’ll be finishing his meal in his room, giving both him and Kyungsoo a farewell with a smile before disappearing.

Jongin blanches, watching him go and then slowly turning to look at his fiancé whose eyes are red on the verge of tears. It doesn’t settle well with him, even though he and Kyungsoo are far from being close to one another, it doesn’t mean that he wants to see him cry.

He’d rather him be angry and ignoring him than crying, so with a deep breath he manages to get out of his seat and take the seat next to him.

He’s sad to say the boy flinches away from him, something he’s picked up on and honestly hates. Every time someone other than Joohyuk gets near him he flinches.

Clearing his throat he takes a look at Kyungsoo’s plate, seeing he still has quite a lot of rice and chicken left. He must be hungry if he’s been having Joohyuk feed him.

Awkwardly he looks at the younger boy, getting met with a frown, his brows furrowed. Jongin feels a tad bit hurt that he’s already being glared at. He’s been gone for two days and one would think that it was enough time for, god forbid, Kyungsoo to miss him.

“I’m aware that you would rather do anything than be near me,” he states bitterly, grabbing the chopsticks from the plate and fitting them into his hand. “But apparently you can’t even eat on your own. So just let me help you and when you’re done you can go back to pretending I don’t exist.”

Sighing he picks up a chunk of rice, looking it over before bringing it towards the younger boys face.

He watches patiently as Kyungsoo eyes the food, looking like he wants to flat out reject it but a little grumble from his stomach obviously tells him the boy is desperate for some food.

“Spoon,” Kyungsoo grumbles, surprising him because it’s rare when the younger boy actually responds to him.

“I’m sorry?” he questions, confused as he looks at his fiancé.

“I want a spoon,” Kyungsoo states plainly, using his good hand to move the chopsticks away from his face and then going back to staring at his plate.

Jongin deflates, surprised at how wounded he feels he tosses the chopsticks onto the table, sitting there silently and contemplating what to do.

He stares at his fiancé, the younger boy not once sparing him a glance as he continues to stare at his plate.

Honestly, Jongin’s sick of trying to get the younger boy to open up. He knows he should be patient and that Kyungsoo has been through a lot living with his family. There’s things he won’t ever understand about how the Do’s treated him.

Although he knows more than he would like, probably more than Kyungsoo knows about his own life. It doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

He’s almost positive Kyungsoo puts actual effort into ignoring him and making him feel completely irrelevant.

“If you don’t want to marry me say something now,” he states sternly, frowning when he finally has the younger prince’s attention.

“I know you hate me. You make it quite obvious. So if you don’t want to marry me, tell me now so I can find a way out of this engagement. Otherwise you’re stuck with me for the rest of our lives.”

Waiting for a reply he looks at Kyungsoo, watching as his brows furrow and his lower lip disappears in-between his teeth. He doesn’t say anything for several minutes, but his expression softens until he looks just plain tired, not to mention hungry.

“Well?” he pesters, getting a tiny sigh from the boy followed by a frown.

Kyungsoo spares him a tiny glance before looking back at his food.

“I don’t want to go back home,” he says softly. If Jongin had been breathing too loudly he wouldn’t have heard it.

“Okay then,” he replies.

It’s not much, but at least it’s something, he notes. Sighing he nods his head, beckoning over a maid and telling her to bring Kyungsoo a spoon and to help him if he needs it.

Standing up he spares Kyungsoo one last glance before heading towards his room, exhausted as customary when being anywhere near his fiancé.

Jongin can only hope he gets a good night sleep before he has to repeat the entire process all over again tomorrow.

Chapter Text

Jongin’s first morning back in the castle goes by rather uneventfully. He wakes up after his fiancé, not seeing him in the room he gets ready for the day and then heads to breakfast. He doesn’t see Kyungsoo there either. He assumes that the seventeen year has already eaten and is wandering about the castle.

He eats his breakfast, goes about his schedule and doesn’t see Kyungsoo until night time and by then his fiancé is tucked into bed, already asleep.

The next several days end up being like this as well.

He really didn’t expect anything to change after their little talk the other night. Although, he really wishes it would. If Kyungsoo were different, then maybe Jongin could talk to him about their situation some more.

But of course, Kyungsoo doesn’t talk at all. Well, at least, not to him. He talks to Joohyuk, but even if Jongin wanted to get the three year old to try and get some kind of information or feelings out of Kyungsoo’s mouth he couldn’t. Joohyuk is far too young to comprehend spying and keeping secrets.

Even if Joohyuk could do all that, Jongin doesn’t want it. He wants Kyungsoo to be able to speak up for himself, to be able to talk to him on his own. To want to talk to him.

Jongin just knows it’s a farfetched concept. Kyungsoo talking to him on his own free will, actually wanting to talk to him of all people, he really doesn’t see it happening until he’s on his deathbed.

Kyungsoo will probably finally tell him he hates his guts as he takes his last breath and that will be that.

He snorts at his own active imagination, knowing it’s a tad bit dramatic. But at this point he feels as if he’s made no progress with Kyungsoo. He’s been here for months, since a little while after his birthday and now it’s soon to be spring.

By the time they make it to summer he might have gone insane trying to get Kyungsoo comfortable enough around him.

Sighing Jongin takes a seat in the front study, sitting at his old desk and staring out the window. It’s not cloudy outside, for once the sun is shining brightly and all the snow has completely melted.

If he had to guess he doubts it will snow anymore, maybe a couple more times. The temperatures will probably start to rise, although it never gets extremely hot there like it does in other places during the spring. The summers are another story.

With nothing else to do today he decides he should go look for his fiancé and try and make some progress with him.

The only problem is that the castle is big, so many rooms and places for him to be and Jongin will waste hours searching for him on his own. So he cheats a little and asks a maid where they last saw him and starts there which happens to be on the third floor.

There’s nothing but guest rooms on this floor as far as Jongin knows so he’s confused as to what Kyungsoo could be doing here in the first place.

Meticulously he checks every room, finding no little broken armed prince in any of them and he’s about to go ask another maid if they have seen his fiancé when he notices a door being propped open by, Jongin can’t believe it, a spoon.

A shiny silver spoon is glistening right there on the floor, stopping the door from being fully closed.

It’s by far the weirdest thing he’s ever seen in the castle, and if it’s weird and suspicious he’s pretty sure it has to do with Kyungsoo.

So he opens the door, making sure the spoon is still placed where it’s supposed to be and then he walks up the narrow stairwell, bumping his head a couple of times and jamming his elbow once or twice.

When he manages to make it out of the stairwell alive he’s met with a small hidden room and memories of his sister locking him in here when he was six or seven. The door automatically locks and Jini, his sweet loving sister thought it would be funny to trick him into going to get something and leaving him there to cry.

He had forgotten all about the place until now. It doesn’t hold the best memories for him, which is ironic because apparently it’s been where his fiancé has been hiding the past couple of days.

When Kyungsoo spots him his eyes widen dramatically before returning to their normal size. His cheeks are a little pink as well as the tip of his nose. He sniffles a little before visibly deflating and going back to stare at the book in his lap.

Jongin hesitates to say anything, seeing Kyungsoo visibly upset doesn’t make him want to exactly strike up a conversation.

Instead he looks around the room, seeing outside and remembering that this particular room can only be exited two ways. Jongin found that out the hard way and apparently so did his fiancé.

The first exit is of course, the front door. The second is climbing down the side of the castle and to the laundry room.

When Jongin asked his father about this particular room he gave him an old rumor, that their great-great-great grandfather, the original King of this castle was having an affair with a maid. So, when the castle was built he had a room made easy to hide their affair.

Of course, Jongin’s mother told him this was only a rumor and that most likely it was meant to be a study for one of his other relatives. Jongin is pretty sold on the affair rumor though, since it made so much sense.

That and it would explain why his great-great-great grandfather wasn’t very well liked among their kingdom. Affairs are against the law. To commit adultery, well, you might as well tie your own noose.

It’s a subject no one really cares to talk about, especially among royals. Because royalty have ways of sweeping things under the rug, using their power, wealth and authority to get their way out of it.

But still, once people know about it, know that you covered it up; you can kiss your crown goodbye.

Jongin finds the entire situation right now ironic. It makes him uncomfortable, to think that a room that was supposedly built to host an affair is where Kyungsoo finds his refuge.

It’s ironic because Kyungsoo is the result of an affair. The seventeen year old just has no idea.

“You fell climbing down the wall, didn’t you?” he questions lightly, careful with his tone because Kyungsoo is far too quick to misunderstand him.

The seventeen year old sniffles twice before nodding his head, keeping his gaze locked on his book.

He looks incredibly pitiful sitting there, one of his arms in a sling, his shoulders inched in towards his body and nose turning red from the cold.

“And you didn’t want to tell anyone because you went outside, you didn’t want to get in trouble,” he adds on, watching as Kyungsoo flinches, inching in on himself even more than he already is while nodding his head.

Jongin frowns, angry and frustrated at the entire ordeal. He’s angry because a seventeen year old has been given so many rules and orders that something as mundane as going outside is punishable in his eyes. And he’s frustrated because no matter how many times everyone tells him that he won’t get in trouble, he still thinks he will.

Carefully Jongin approaches him, watching as Kyungsoo inches in on himself even more than he already is and when he looks up at him his eyes are brimming with tears. It makes him feel horrible, knowing that regardless of what he does, Kyungsoo still thinks he’ll hit him.

He doesn’t know whether to be more mad at the Do’s or at himself, that he still hasn’t gotten Kyungsoo to forgive him or at least get it through his head that he would never do what his father did to him.

Once he stops in front of the younger boy he crouches so that they’re eye level, Kyungsoo of course looking anywhere but his face as a stray tear makes its way down his cheek.

Jongin would like nothing more than to wipe it away, but he knows his limits. Maybe one day in the far off distant future Kyungsoo will let him initiate physical contact, but right now they are nowhere near that kind of trust.

So he collects his bearings, fights the urge to hug the poor boy and instead gives him a soft smile.

“You’re not in trouble, I promise,” he whispers, praying that some part of Kyungsoo at least acknowledges that.

Not knowing what else to say to make the younger prince feel better he stares, trying to think of something to make the younger boy happy. He hates seeing him look so depressed just because he found him in this room.

Looking down at the book in his lap suddenly a light goes off in his head and he scolds himself for not thinking of it before.

“Can I show you something?” he questions, taken aback when Kyungsoo looks up at him and glares.

He tries not to let it get to him, knowing that quite often Kyungsoo’s way of dealing with him is to glare at him, tune him out or sometimes even go as far as to shove him away. Jongin gets frustrated a lot because of this, but right now he tries to brush it off.

“Please?” he adds on, getting no results from the younger boy.

Sighing he racks his brain for something that will guarantee Kyungsoo to come with him, but he honestly can’t think of much. When he does think of one little thing he feels his stomach drop, knowing it’s probably the only way he’ll get Kyungsoo out of this cold room and to come with him willingly.

“If you come with me I promise I won’t bother you anymore,” he states slowly, actually feeling dejected when it gains Kyungsoo’s attention, the younger boy looking up if only slightly. “I won’t spy on you anymore. I won’t try and get you to talk to me. I’ll leave you alone, I promise.”

Kyungsoo stares at him, looking skeptical but eventually he gives him a tiny nod, moving to stand up and Jongin sighs in relief.

He feels like he’s taking several steps backwards, promising to leave the boy alone for good but he hopes that in the end it will be worth it.

He lets Kyungsoo walk ahead of him to exit the room but once they make it back into the main hallway he takes the lead, making sure to walk slow enough that he doesn’t lose the younger prince.

Jongin honestly can’t believe he never thought of it before as he walks to the fourth floor, finding the door he’s looking for and then checking to make sure Kyungsoo is beside him. He’s glad to see the younger boy’s face is regaining some color, but he’s still looking at him skeptically.

Sighing he manages to give his fiancé a smile before opening and holding the door open for him. Kyungsoo eyes him for a moment before walking in and Jongin follows.

It should have been obvious from the beginning to him that all those times he made trips to the Do’s, Kyungsoo was almost always never around. He was always in the library.

The day he secured his untrustworthiness with Kyungsoo all started because he found the Do’s library where Kyungsoo was sitting, reading a book. Seungsoo told him that was where the younger prince probably was anytime he was curious enough to ask.

He also told him that as punishment, their father locked it up and that Kyungsoo hadn’t stepped foot in there ever since.

Jongin hates to acknowledge that part of that was because of him. If had acted more maturely that day, maybe he wouldn’t have to promise to leave his own fiancé alone to get him to do something.

But what’s done is done. He can’t change the fact that it happened, just like he can’t change how Kyungsoo is because of his family. At least, not any time soon.

He feels dumb for not realizing that Kyungsoo spends most of his days doing nothing but staring out the window or wandering around with a long face. It should have been obvious to tell him that they have a library where he can spend his time.

“It may not be as big as your one at home, but the upper floor is much larger than you think,” he speaks up, looking around and taking in the distinct smell that comes with a library.

He hasn’t spent much time here since he was a child, so it wasn’t even a thought in his mind to pay it a little visit let alone show it to Kyungsoo.

Looking over at the seventeen year old he doesn’t get much of a reaction. Kyungsoo’s face is just as blank as it usually is, but his eyes are wandering around, taking everything in.

Not expecting much else he takes a deep breath, forcing a smile onto his lips as he faces his fiancé.

“I’ll leave you alone then. I’ll send a maid over in a little bit in case you need help,” he speaks up, his smile faltering when Kyungsoo still doesn’t bother looking at him. “Maybe I’ll see you at lunch later,” he sighs out, swallowing thickly before turning around and heading towards the door, like he promised, ready to leave the boy alone.

He has his hand on the door knob when he pauses, eyes widening in disbelief when a very loud and distinct “thank you” reaches his ears.

He turns his head, seeing that the younger boy still has his back towards him, but Jongin couldn’t make it up even if he tried.

“You’re welcome,” he replies before opening the door and leaving the boy alone.

Sighing he makes his way towards his room, praying that in the end, leaving Kyungsoo alone will make things better and not worse.

Chapter Text

Before Kyungsoo knows it he’s able to use his arm again, the plaster bandage gets taken off at the beginning of the day and he can finally eat properly during lunch.

Winter has slowly passed and now it’s near midsummer, the heat is something Kyungsoo isn’t quite used to. It was warm back home during the summer, but here it’s actually hot enough to have him sweating when he goes into the green house with Joohyuk.

He hasn’t been there in a while though, because he doesn’t like sweating. It feels like dying and he doesn’t know why people would subject themselves to actually going outside knowing how hot it is and that you’ll sweat.

Kyungsoo never sweated back home. He was always cold; never hot.

A prince should never sweat, he remembers someone telling him. He can’t remember who, but he goes by it. He thinks maybe it was in reference to manual labor, but, again, he can’t quite recall.

Jongin, however, sweats a lot.

He goes outside, does who knows what and comes back in sweating.

Kyungsoo usually watches him while trying to hold back his disgust. When Jongin comes back from outside his hair looks wet, his crown missing and his shirt dark in spots where he’s obviously sweated.

It’s disturbing to Kyungsoo, he really doesn’t understand why the maids blush.

He’s been noticing now that Jongin isn’t bugging him that the younger maids, the ones who are probably around his age, swoon at the sight of his fiancé. They get way too eager when he asks them for something as well.

Again, Kyungsoo doesn’t understand it.

He doesn’t understand a lot of things; about Jongin, about the Kim’s, why he’s the only person in the entire castle that thinks sweating is beneath him.

He just doesn’t understand and he only has little Joohyuk to talk to since he’s still the only one he feels comfortable with.

And Joohyuk doesn’t understand things either, so they’re both left staring at the interactions that go on in the castle with confused frowns.

Today Joohyuk is busy with his etiquette lessons so Kyungsoo is by himself in one of the common rooms that sees a lot action in it.

He usually spends most of his days in the Kim’s library, but it can get uncomfortable with the heat these days and the common room he’s in is the coolest he’s discovered. After trying several different rooms he’s figured out this is the only one that doesn’t make him sweat.

He has a book with him in his lap and a glass of water in case he gets thirsty. Later he’ll probably go grab an orange from the kitchen but for now he’s still full from breakfast.

Sighing he opens up his book, removing the marker he has in place and then trying to find out where he left off.

He reads through a chapter before people start coming in and out of the room. Several older maids pass by with laundry and a servant boy soon after them.

It’s the younger maids that gossip and Kyungsoo finds it’s not about the Kim’s like he was expecting. It’s usually about townsfolk they know. Kyungsoo doesn’t mean to snoop, but they talk so loudly when they know he’s there, it’s not his fault.

Looking up from his book he sees them starting to clean the windows in the room, the youngest girl staring outside and not doing her job.

Confused Kyungsoo tilts his head, watching one of the older maids throw a rag at the girl and tell her to do her job.

Kyungsoo bites his lip to hide a laugh, hiding behind his book when he makes a choked off noise and they glance over at him.

Blushing he stares at his book, waiting for them to go back to their work before he looks up again. Peeking from behind his book he watches them clean, listening to a conversation about a festival coming up before they go silent and go back to their jobs.

Sighing Kyungsoo starts to read again before getting interrupted when he hears the maids greeting someone. Looking up he sees his fiancé, probably having just come from outside.

Jongin must not see him because he only greets the maids back before walking out of the room.

Although Jongin promised to leave him alone, he doesn’t ignore him purposefully. He’ll greet him a good morning and tell him goodnight. If he needs to he’ll tell him other important things but he doesn’t try and start a conversation anymore.

It was odd at first, not being bugged by Jongin but he grew used to it rather quickly.

Slowly he’s gotten used to being in the Kim’s castle and Jongin’s family as well. They’re never mean to him, which he appreciates and he’s never been punished. Not even when he managed to drop a plate when his arm was still broken.

He really thought they would hit him, and maybe they would have had his arm not already been hurt, but the Queen had told him it was alright before she told him to be careful of the porcelain shards.

None of the maids talk about him and the servant boys don’t tease him. The chef makes him snacks every time he goes into the kitchen, even when he doesn’t ask he’s always left with an armful of food.

Kyungsoo doesn’t think he’s ever felt happy and right now he can’t confidently say that he is, but, he does feel content with the Kim’s and he knows that by definition it may have something to do with happiness.

Maybe he’s happy, but he doesn’t really know what it truly feels like to be so.

Either way, he likes being at the Kim’s, although it’s still hard for him at times. Especially now that it’s summer and Joohyuk wants to go outside whenever he can.

Kyungsoo feels horrible every time he tells the little boy no and his eyes look glassy and on the verge of tears.

Sometimes Kyungsoo wants to go outside and see this supposed horse Joohyuk doesn’t stop talking about, but, he always ends up rooted in his spot inside instead.

Kyungsoo knows that if he were to tell anyone why he refuses to go outside they would think he’s crazy, he himself knows that it doesn’t make any sense, but he’s scared.

He’s not scared of being outside, although it is a little worrisome about not knowing what all is out there, the outdoors aren’t the problem.

It’s his father.

Because somehow, Kyungsoo has always had a bad experience being outside.

It’s like his father is somehow still managing to punish him for disobeying.

On his worse days Kyungsoo will think about his father. How if the man were to come visit right then and there he’d be punished.

His father will be mad that he’s gained weight; none of his old clothes fit him. He would get mad that he eats sweets now, when they were banned when he was a child. His father would be furious if he found out the Kim’s library isn’t locked up and he spends a lot of time in there.

He’d be angry about how he treats Jongin; probably beat him until he treated Jongin like he walked on water.

It makes him paranoid and on these days he locks himself in the library and doesn’t eat.

Usually he has nightmares at night about his father actually coming and seeing him. He always wakes up crying and if Prince Jongin notices, he doesn’t say anything.

For that Kyungsoo is thankful at least. But he would really prefer his own room.

He’s tried to ask the King on several occasions but he can never go through with it because King Kim always seems so happy and Kyungsoo doesn’t want to upset him.

His future father-in-law has taken quite a liking to him and Kyungsoo isn’t sure why. He rarely talks back to the man when he gets asked a question but on occasion the King will request for him to be in the throne room or call him to his office.

For the most part the King just talks about the town and other royal affairs. When he asks for his opinion Kyungsoo tries to reply to the best of his ability, but his knowledge on politics and economics is limited because that would never be his role back home.

He’s the second born prince his family traded like cattle. He isn’t important enough to make decisions or have an opinion worth listening to.

In fact he told the King this before and the man had just laughed at him, repeated his question and waited for a reply, which he gave him but not with a confused frown.

He hasn’t asked him anything in a while and Kyungsoo is thankful, because the entire ordeal always makes him anxious, that he’ll say the wrong thing and the King won’t like him anymore.

Kyungsoo likes King Kim and often wonders what it would be like if he ever saw his real father smile at him like he does.

The thought makes him laugh though, because that’s about as crazy as sleeping in the same bed as Prince Jongin.

Kyungsoo is startled when he hears someone clearing their throat, looking up he sees his fiancé standing in front of him with a smile on his face.

Kyungsoo’s lips twitch into a frown, hoping the elder isn’t going back on his word of not bothering him or trying to get him to talk.

“Good afternoon,” Jongin greets to which he purses his lips, waiting for the elder to tell him whatever he came to tell him and leave.

When he doesn’t reply Jongin’s smile starts to look a little strained.

“My mother wanted me to ask if you’ll be going with us to the festival in two days,” Jongin states, actually having a question to ask so Kyungsoo eases up on his frown but quickly becomes confused.

“Festival?” he questions, messing with the binding on his book and keeping his eyes downcast.

“We have one every summer in town. There’s a lot of food and games, its fun. My mother hopes you’ll want to go,” Jongin explains, shifting on his feet.

Kyungsoo knows what a festival is, because they had two every year back home.

He was never allowed to go though.

Every year he’d get his hopes up that his mother and father would say yes and every year he was disappointed when they told him no. No matter how many times he was told he couldn’t go, he’d always pray and wish that next year would be the year he’d get told yes, and every year he’d lock himself up in the library or his room and cry when it didn’t come true.

When he was younger Seungsoo would bring him back treats and tell him about all the fun he had and Kyungsoo had been excited hearing about it then. But then Seungsoo grew up and stopped bringing back anything, let alone stories.

If Seungsoo did tell him anything it was about all the pretty girls there or how maybe next year he would get to go.

Going to the town festivals was all Kyungsoo ever wanted at one point and now he’s being asked if he wants to go and his chest feels tight and his stomach feels like its caving in on himself.

“No,” he replies before he can even really stop himself, his mouth moving quicker than his brain.

“Oh,” Jongin mumbles, not leaving so Kyungsoo looks up at him and waits. “If you don’t go I can’t go either,” the elder informs him, a frown on his lips now.

“Why?” he questions exasperatedly, wanting Jongin to just leave already because now his head hurts and his stomach feels like it’s going to betray him any moment now and he’s going to throw up his breakfast.

Jongin stares at him for a while before replying, looking upset.

“Whether you remember or not we’re engaged. If I show up without you it’ll make us look like we aren’t close or that I don't care,” Jongin explains to him, his tone a little condescending and Kyungsoo doesn’t appreciate it one bit.

And since Jongin won’t let the subject drop and just let him be, he gives the elder what he wants.

“We aren’t close. If it’s that big of a deal say I’m sick and go without me, it’s not that hard your highness,” he replies plainly, feeling emotionally distraught but trying very hard to keep himself together while he’s still in the presence of others.

Because right now he thinks he feels happy and it scares him.

He’s wanted to go to a festival more than anything, but he was always told no. But now here at the Kim’s he’s being asked if he wants to go. Jongin is making it obvious that he wants to go with him and Kyungsoo wants to smile and say yes, be excited because finally, after seventeen years of wanting, he can go.

But it makes him terrified.

Feeling wanted, is foreign to him. It makes him happy, his heart feels warm and he feels like smiling. He supposes that's what feeling happy is like.

He never felt wanted back home. He never felt happy. Not once did anyone ask if he wanted to go, nor did they care about his feelings.

They care about him here though, it’s very obvious. The way they all stare at him when he’s having a bad day and the way they treat him is so completely different than his own family. Kyungsoo isn’t dumb, he can tell they care about him and that they want him here.

And he hates it.

Feeling wanted and cared for makes him want to feel happy, like right now, and Kyungsoo knows that the minute he lets himself feel happy, something horrible will happen.

Fairytales where everyone lives happily ever after are just that. Fairytales. They’re not real.

Kyungsoo knows better than to let childish fantasies cloud his judgment. He’s not nine anymore where he can wish and pray and expect things to get better. If he wants to be happy he knows something will get in the way. There’s always something.

So he can’t say yes, he can’t let himself get his hopes up because he knows like every other time in his life, he’ll just get let down.

“Why are you crying?” Jongin questions, startling him because he wasn’t aware that he was.

He flinches away when Jongin tries reaching for him, pulling himself together before the maids start looking at him funny. Sniffling he wipes at his eyes, staring at his book blankly before replying.

“I’m not going. Go with a maid or go by yourself I don’t care just leave me alone,” he manages to get out, opening his book back up and pretending that he didn’t just see his fiancé look so let down.

Jongin should learn to get used to disappointment too.

Chapter Text

The day before the festival King Kim calls Kyungsoo to his study. Kyungsoo is nervous, although the King has never even been the slightest bit mean to him, the fact that he’s the equivalent to his father rank wise is intimidating.

He walks slowly towards where he knows the King likes to go over papers and read. His nails are in his mouth as he chews on them, stomach twisting with anxiety as he appears in front of the study door.

He takes a couple of deep breaths before he gets the nerve to knock on the door, setting his hands at his side awkwardly. A couple of seconds later the doors are being open from guards inside the room and Kyungsoo is being told to come in.

He does so hesitantly, flinching when the doors close behind them. He feels his lips quiver when the King looks up at him from his desk. The smile he sends him calms his nerves some, but not much.

“Ah Kyungsoo, take a seat,” the man tells him cheerfully so Kyungsoo does as he’s told.

He takes a seat on the chair sitting in front of the King’s desk and stares at all the clutter on it. There are several papers scattered around, some in stacks and there’s a candle burning with an unmelted dark blue piece of wax and a sealer next to it.

“Have you already eaten lunch?” the King questions him, looking up from his papers expectantly.

Kyungsoo fights to find his voice, wetting his lips before slowly nodding his head.

“Yes, your highness,” he replies softly, always scared he’ll get in trouble for talking too loud.

He had just finished his lunch and sat back down to read his book when one of the servant boys said that the King was requesting to see him. Kyungsoo could feel the chicken and vegetables he ate start to betray him the entire way here.

He doesn’t voice this though.

“Good,” the King replies, smiling before grabbing a letter from his desk and moving to hand it to him.

Kyungsoo flinches, reaching out for it with shaking hands and looking at the King with a confused frown.

“Your sister-in-law gave birth last night,” the King explains and he feels his stomach plummet. “A healthy baby boy.”

Kyungsoo fights the urge to gag.

“They’ll be having a ball in a week’s time,” King Kim tells him and he goes rigid in his seat, feeling his pulse pick up at the thought that he’ll have to go.

“The Queen and I are expected to go, and normally, it’s tradition you be there too,” he explains and Kyungsoo feels the air leave his lungs.

The thought of going back home, seeing his father, has his entire body on the verge of trembling; his food unsettled in his stomach and ready to force its way out.

“But, I don’t think you’ll be feeling well enough to travel then, will you?”

Kyungsoo eyes widen and he immediately looks up at the King, being greeted with a warm knowing smile. His eyes prickle with tears when he catches on to the words real meaning. He won’t have to go back.

Instantly relief washes over him, hitting him like a splash of cool water causing him to release a shaky breath, tears pooling at the corner of his eyes. His body reacting for him and going on autopilot as a sob racks through him.

He was so genuinely scared to go back, the thought terrifies him and to be told that he isn’t, that the King is making sure that he won’t has him feeling too many things at once. Emotions he doesn’t even know how to describe. The only thing he can do is cry and then cry harder when the King hugs him, because he can’t even recall the last time someone genuinely did so.

He doesn’t know how long he cries for, but it’s enough that his nose is clogged and his eyes feel swollen when he finally stops.

King Kim acts as if nothing has happened and goes back to his seat, the same warm smile on his face the entire time.

“You have been giving my son an awfully hard time lately,” the King states after a while.

Kyungsoo blushes, putting his head down and guiltily biting on his lip because it’s true.

“He deserves a break, don’t you think?” King Kim states a little sternly, looking up from his papers to give him a look.

It isn’t at all mean, but it does hold a bit of authority to it. Kyungsoo knows the underlining message is that he should start being nice to his fiancé. He shouldn’t ignore him as much and Kyungsoo wants to argue with the King, that Jongin doesn’t have the best track record, but arguing with a King is stupid and pointless.

Kyungsoo sighs, nodding his head that he understands, although he doesn’t like it.

Now that he realizes the Kim’s won’t send him back home, it’s dawning on him that he really is going to be here for the rest of his life.

He’s going to be stuck with Jongin.

He’ll be married to him in several months.

Kyungsoo suddenly feels a headache coming on.

“You can go finish your book now,” the King tells him, dismissing him with a smile.

Kyungsoo stands up, fiddling with the letter the King gave him and not knowing what to do with it.

“You can keep it, your brother wrote it,” King Kim states, still smiling and Kyungsoo hesitantly returns it, bowing before moving to exit the room.

Sighing he looks down at the letter once he’s out in the hallway, folding it before stuffing it into his jacket. He may read it later, he hasn’t decided yet.

For now he goes back to the room he was in, picking his book back up and going to the page he left off on.

Chapter Text

The summer heat is finally starting to crank up and Jongin is left feeling overheated when he wakes up one random morning.

There’s a thin layer of sweat on his back making it stick to the sheets he’s lying on. His blanket has been abandoned sometime in the night and is on the floor.

Annoyed he rolls over onto his stomach, hating how hot it already is considering it’s still early in the day. He dreads to know what it will be like midday when the sun is at its highest peak.

Rolling onto his side he cracks his eyes open, looking around to see the room is still dark, meaning the curtains aren’t even opened and it’s still humid in the room.

On hot summer days like these Jongin usually opts to wear as little clothing as possible and if it’s too hot, nothing at all.

But, considering he shares a room with a boy who probably doesn’t even look at himself naked, he knows that’s not a possibility. Even going shirtless makes him uncomfortable around his fiancé.

Jongin knows his fiancé isn’t normal. He knows that much. So he keeps his clothes on and suffers the unbearable heat every day.

Today would probably be a good day to go towards the small pond near the forest. It’s usually his last resort if he can’t manage to cool himself during the day.

It sounds like a good idea so he manages to sit up on his makeshift bed, letting out a yawn and rubbing the sleep from his eyes. Looking towards the bed he fails to spot his fiancé, the boy probably already awake for the day.

Standing up he heads to his closet and picks out something not too thick before heading to the restroom to get ready for the day.

Once he’s done he heads towards the kitchen, hoping breakfast is something cold to hold him over until he manages to get to the pond later.

Arriving at the dining room he’s surprised to see only Kyungsoo sitting at the table, a bowl of what looks like yogurt sitting in front of him.

Jongin honestly hasn’t seen much of Kyungsoo for the past couple of days. After the summer festival incident Kyungsoo had seemed to be going extra lengths to avoid him.

He hasn’t been in the room at all with him since that day and even during meals Kyungsoo seems to be going when he’s arriving or vice versa.

Jongin doesn’t question it though, growing used to the younger boy’s cold shoulder. His father did tell him about Seungsoo’s child being born not too long ago and Jongin has been curious as to why Kyungsoo didn’t leave with his mother and father yesterday, but he doesn’t have anyone to ask. His father just smiled at him when he tried to get answers.

Sighing he sits in a chair two spaces away from the boy. His eyes are still a little droopy with sleep and the heat definitely isn’t helping matters on him being lively so he quietly waits for his breakfast without telling the boy a good morning.

It’s not like he would say anything back anyways, his mind tells him.

Sneaking a tiny glance at the younger boy he notices Kyungsoo is not dressed for the heat and is wearing a long sleeve shirt along with his regular pants. Jongin wants to comment, but he knows it will only fall on deaf ears, so he turns his attention to the bowl being placed in front of him and smiling.

He grabs his bowl of chilled fruit and then dumps its contents into the yogurt, stirring it around and then lifting his spoon for a bite.

He’s mid-chew when he hears Kyungsoo speak.

“Good morning.”

Jongin pauses what he’s doing, the food in his mouth being put on hold as he looks up in shock. Kyungsoo isn’t looking at him, rather he’s staring very intently at his bowl of yogurt, his hand gripping his spoon so tightly his knuckles are white.

Confused he finishes chewing his food, swallowing and then realizing maybe it wasn’t directed towards him so he looks around, failing to spot anyone he sets his spoon down.

“Good morning to you too?” he replies, his tone questioning because this isn’t normal for the younger boy.

He doesn’t remember if he’s ever told him good anything.

Kyungsoo fidgets in his seat, his hand still gripping his spoon tightly even though there’s barely anything left in his bowl now. Usually this is when Kyungsoo high tails it out of the room if he’s nearly done and it’s just the two of them.

But he stays in his seat, his lips moving slightly like he’s about to say something but nothing comes out.

Jongin’s about to go back to his food when he finally does manage to say something.

“Can we…” he trails off, his eyes squeezing shut as he looks completely rigid in his seat.

Jongin can’t help but gape a little, not used to his own fiancé talking to him directly and his voice sounding completely free of any sort of malice.

He waits patiently for Kyungsoo to continue, wondering if it always takes him this long to try and get his message out when he isn’t upset or mad. The few times Kyungsoo has spoken more than several words to him were all insults or sarcastic remarks.

“The wedding. O-our wedding,” he gets out after a while, his breathing a little off from the looks of it. Jongin notices how he’s taking tiny shallow breaths.

“What about it?” he questions to speed up the process, not wanting to watch the poor boy suffer just trying to talk.

Kyungsoo flinches a little, taking a deep breath and then dropping his spoon a little too loudly.

“Move it up. S-sooner,” Kyungsoo bites out, his hands going to rest underneath the table.

After a few seconds go by Kyungsoo finally looks up at him but then quickly looks away and back at the bowl in front of him.

Jongin is confused, very much so and the one glance Kyungsoo gave him offered him no insight as to what the boy is possibly thinking. Not that he ever knows what Kyungsoo is thinking.

He’s honestly shocked, hearing Kyungsoo say he wants the wedding to happen sooner on top of hearing him talk at all. He doesn’t know what to think, because Kyungsoo has been adamant on ignoring his entire existence since he arrived and now he’s saying he wants to get married sooner.

It makes absolutely no sense to him but he knows even if he asked he wouldn’t get an explanation.

He tries anyways.

“What for?”

Kyungsoo doesn’t reply, just keeps his head down before giving a very timid shrug of his shoulders. Jongin knows Kyungsoo isn’t stupid, and the boy probably has some motive behind the request, but he couldn’t figure it out even if he tried.

“You’re not of age, I would, have to ask my father,” he replies, not exactly knowing if they even could.

Jongin’s never heard of a minor getting married, but then again, he hasn’t been to many royal weddings to know if they happen. He would suppose maybe there’s something they have to get approved, maybe parental consent, but he’s not entirely sure.

He thinks it might be a common thing for the townsfolk to get married at a younger age than deemed legal, but for royals, things are always a tad bit different.

“I’ll ask when he gets back,” he decides, watching as Kyungsoo nods his head hurriedly before standing up and walking out of the room as quick as he can without so much as another word.

Jongin stares at his retreating back and then looks back at his food, suddenly the heat isn’t even bothering him in the slightest.

His mind is racing with so many questions that he doesn’t even hear Jini enter the room until she loudly tells him good morning.

He twitches out of his thoughts, looking up at his eldest sister with a frown.

“Can Kyungsoo and I get married before his eighteenth birthday?” he questions, knowing that if anyone would know it would be his sister, other than his parents of course.

She gives him an incredulously humored stare, shaking her head with a laugh.

“Jongin, that’s a little absurd to even think about don’t you think? When was the last time he even looked at you?” she questions back, taking her food with a smile and slight bow to the maid.

Jongin huffs, a little offended because even though it’s a completely valid response to his question, it doesn’t hurt any less to know that everyone can see how Kyungsoo treats him.

“I’ll have you know he asked me if we could,” he replies, grabbing his spoon and getting back to his breakfast.

“You’re serious?” she questions him, looking about as shocked as he looked initially.

Jongin nods his head, “He asked me earlier. I’m just as confused as you are,” he confides, sighing a little and wondering what on earth goes on in his fiancé’s head.

They eat in silence for a good while, Jini seems to be mulling the whole thing over and even though Jongin was taught to be crafty and resourceful, to think outside the box, he can’t come up with one good reason as to why Kyungsoo would want to marry him sooner than possible. Especially with how their nonexistent relationship is.

They’re both almost done with their meal when Jini finally speaks up again.

“Our parents signed a contract when you two were younger. You probably had no idea, but you were about ten years old. Mother and father, they knew that King Do wasn’t treating him well. That’s why they suggested the engagement, so he wouldn’t have to live there his entire life,” she explains and Jongin nods his head in understanding, already being told by his parents a little while after Kyungsoo moved in.

They knew that because Kyungsoo wasn’t born in to both a King and a Queen that his father wouldn’t treat him like he was. They just never expected him ultimately to be treated like he was nonexistent.

“But anyways, the contract stated you two would be married when you were of age. It never specified who, nor did it ever state clearly that it had to be both of you. It’s tricky. It depends on how you interpret it.”

You have read my engagement contract?” he questions incredulously, never once hearing that there was an actual document for it.

“Does future Queen mean anything to you? Of course I’ve read it,” Jini replies quickly, rolling her eyes before taking a sip of her juice.

“But there are repercussions if the contract isn’t upheld properly.”

Jongin frowns, “What kind of repercussions?” he questions, feeling his stomach start to feel uncomfortable.

“Let’s just say that if King Do were to allow you two to get married, but someone is so against the idea enough that they contest it, and prove that he violated the contract somehow he could get investigated by the Royal Court.”

Jongin nods, knowing the Royal Court is serious business. It’s what usually happens when different Kings or Queens are having a dispute over land or something similar. It’s rare when anything else other than actual politics make it to the Royal Court. When it does it usually doesn’t end on a happy note.

“If it were to go that far, they would question why King Do was so eager to marry off his youngest son, to a male no less. You know Seungsoo’s child has had complications from in the womb until now. Most likely something he’ll grow out of, but if not, it could hinder their blood line. It would raise suspicion that he’s so quick to get rid of someone who could so easily be married off to a woman and have a child in case something were to happen to Seungsoo or his family.”

“They would find out about the affair,” he realizes, growing pale as a chill goes down his spine.

Affairs do not end well when made public. If they found out, if they could prove it, Seungsoo would be King a lot sooner than planned.

“Amongst other things,” Jini adds on, nodding her head while looking rather serious. “It would be disastrous, for him that is.”

Jongin lets it all process in his head, feeling a little dizzy at the entire process. Just by simply getting married sooner could lead to King Do’s downfall. It’s an intricate and meticulous plan that would have to be executed perfectly.

For someone to even think of it in the first place has his head feeling like it could throb. As future Queen Jini has been taught to think of the big picture, what one tiny action can ultimately cause. As a King or Queen you have to know what one order can result in for the entire population.

It isn’t shocking that she could draw this conclusion with time to think, but Kyungsoo? Kyungsoo couldn’t possibly know any of this. Jongin is nearly one hundred percent positive he has no clue about his actual parental status.

“He….you don’t think he knows all of this? What could happen? He couldn’t possibly know something like that. It’s too complex, right?” he questions his sister.

Although he knows Kyungsoo isn’t dumb, he knows that his education was limited and not at all extensive like Seungsoo’s or even his own.

Jini tilts her head, pursing her lips while her brows furrow.

“There’s absolutely no way Kyungsoo could know that his father isn’t actually his real one. They made sure that our parents were the only ones who knew and even then, we have no idea who the actual father is. He couldn’t possibly know anything like this. He has to have a reason other than this,” she replies, shaking her head and looking a little troubled.

Jongin feels a little at ease, but not much.

“But, I’ve been taught to never underestimate someone just because they’re quiet. They know more than they say and think more than they speak. They observe more than we’re aware of,” Jini states seriously, surprising Jongin just a bit.

“She learned that from me,” a voice speaks up startling Jongin so bad he drops his spoon, nearly jumping out of his chair.

He turns to see his brother-in-law carrying a tired looking little Joohyuk to the table.

Just how long had he been there?

Better yet, just how much is Kyungsoo hiding from everyone?

Chapter Text

The rest of the week goes by rather eventfully for Jongin. Kyungsoo tells him good morning two days in a row and actually replies when he asks him how he slept. Kyungsoo says not well, that it was hot and Jongin is too much in awe that he even replied to suggest that maybe he should wear lighter sleeping clothes.

The day his father comes back he’s in a good mood. Kyungsoo may not strike up actual conversations but he is at least acknowledging him when he speaks.

Although it’s great, Jongin is still highly suspicious. He’s been doing his research and he’s read over his and Kyungsoo’s engagement contract and he’s shocked to know that it was made the first time he ever visited the Do’s.

He remembers vaguely of what Kyungsoo was like back then. He was tiny, still is, and unlike now and every other time he went over, Kyungsoo wasn’t one hundred percent quiet. He didn’t speak when the grownups were in the room but if he recalls correctly, he tried coming with him and Seungsoo to their stables. Seungsoo had said no.

The memory is hazy so Jongin honestly can’t tell if it’s his imagination or not, but Kyungsoo had looked crushed.

Either way, their contract has been in place for almost ten years. It is a little hazy on when exactly they should get married, mostly because of their age difference but it is clear that violation of the contract results in reprehension.

So he starts doing his research and he finds that legally, Kyungsoo still belongs to his parents, since he is a minor and would need an entirely new document signed and notarized for him to get married while still only being seventeen.

It seems like a lot of work but when Jongin thinks about it, really the only major thing they would need to do would be to discuss it with King and Queen Do. Other than that, writing up a new document and signing it wouldn’t take long at all.

The wedding itself has been planned since he was ten apparently, they would just need to send out actual invitations as soon as they settled with a date.

Jongin sighs, still clueless as to the point of moving the wedding up to begin with. Kyungsoo won’t tell him. He’s asked twice and both times he got some weird mumbling directed at him before Kyungsoo just up and left the room.

Luckily his father arrives back today so Jongin waits for him near the front study, knowing he won’t want to be bombarded with questions after he’s been traveling. He’ll wait there and when his father either requests for water to be drawn for a bath or food, he can come out and ask to speak with him or wait until he’s ready for lunch.

When he arrives in the room he’s surprised to see Kyungsoo sitting cross legged on the couch, a book in his hands. Squinting Jongin can make out the title and he smiles slightly. He’s reading a book on relationship advice.

Honestly, Jongin has no clue as to where it came from, but he supposes it’s a good sign.

Clearing his throat he watches the boy twitch a little, his eyes widening as he looks up. He immediately closes his book and places it in his lap, cheeks red as he makes it a point to keep his eyes on the carpet.

“I suppose if I asked where you got that book from, you wouldn’t tell me?” he questions, taking a seat next to the boy and getting a tiny glare being directed towards his feet. But at least its not his face.

Kyungsoo just grumbles lowly, his book being brought up to his chest while he still avoids eye contact.

“I’m just curious,” he mumbles, letting out a little huff before looking over at his fiancé. “Okay. You won’t tell me.”

“Will you at least tell me why you want to marry me so soon?” he questions instead, turning to face the boy in hopes to get some kind of reaction out of him.

Kyungsoo still keeps his gaze down, shrugging his shoulders and refusing to answer.

“Are you in love with me, your highness?” he jokes, reaching over and pinching the younger boy’s cheek quickly while his guard is down and holding back a laugh when Kyungsoo looks up, eyes wider than should be allowed.

His brows eventually furrow, a frown forming on his lips as he looks away again, grabbing a pillow and throwing it at his face.

Jongin grunts, frowning while picking the throw pillow off the floor. He’s lucky he didn’t get hit with a fist he supposes.

“What does that have to do with marriage,” Kyungsoo grumbles lowly, shifting in his seat while keeping his eyes locked on the carpet.

Jongin honestly should not be surprised about the rhetorical question, but he is.

“Most people get married because they’re in love,” he explains, watching as Kyungsoo looks at him like he’s dumb, yet again.

“No they don’t,” Kyungsoo replies, scoffing and shaking his head.

Of course Kyungsoo wouldn’t believe such a thing. Jongin supposes that he grew up thinking he had one purpose in this lifetime and that was to get married to him. He doubts that love was ever brought up.

Kyungsoo probably sees marriage as something political, which in a lot of cases it is. But most of the time, especially as time goes on, royalty are allowed to marry just like commoners, for love. But of course, neither of them are in this situation.

It almost dawns on his that he’s going to be in a completely loveless marriage but he doesn’t want to upset himself, so he pushes it to the back of his mind and decides that if Kyungsoo wants to argue, he might as well let him.

There’s no other way he’s going to get him to talk about his actual opinion on things. Kyungsoo probably doesn’t even realize that he’s doing it right now.

“Well then why do you think people get married, since you seem to know more than me,” he replies, folding his arms and looking at the younger boy expectantly.

Kyungsoo gives a light shrug, biting on his nails one by one before he replies.

“Because they want something. Usually its money,” Kyungsoo says plainly, popping another finger into his mouth to bite on.

Jongin frowns because it’s such a horrid habit as well as Kyungsoo’s answer. He sounds like one of his bitter old aunts who never married or had any children.

“What do you want from me then?” he questions some more, figuring while they’re on the topic, and Kyungsoo is willingly talking back to him, he might as well get some answers.

Except this question seems to be the tipping point and Kyungsoo is at his limit because he doesn’t get a normal reply, he gets glared at. Kyungsoo looks about ten seconds away from physically hurting him and even though Jongin knows that the boy couldn’t even hurt a fly, it’s still a little scary.

“I’m not stupid,” Kyungsoo bites out, looking directly at him and Jongin feels confused, he didn’t do anything.

“I never said that,” he denies, brows furrowing as he moves to stand up, following the younger boys movement.

“You were trying to trick me,” Kyungsoo accuses, raising his voice and if Jongin weren’t currently arguing with the boy he would have time to realize that’s the loudest he’s ever heard Kyungsoo speak.

But now Kyungsoo looks like he’s on the verge of tears so Jongin is left feeling like a horrible person, yet again, when Kyungsoo purposefully knocks shoulders with him as he’s leaving the room.

With a groan he flops back onto the couch, rubbing his hands over his face while letting out an annoyed huff.

He sits there in silence before hearing his father’s voice, so he sits up, walking lethargically over towards the door and spotting the King getting ready to head to his study.

Sighing he comes out of the room, clearing his throat and gaining his father’s attention.

“I was just about to send a maid to look for you,” his father chirps, giving him a smile that he tries hard to return. “Have you seen Prince Kyungsoo?”

Jongin flinches instinctively, knowing that he made the boy cry never settles well with him and it makes it worse when he knows that his father is aware of this fact.

“He stormed off earlier,” he replies honestly, keeping his head down because he told his father he would try but all his trying seems to be getting him nowhere.

“Did you say something to upset him?” his father asks while motioning to follow after him.

“I could breathe and it would upset him,” he replies bluntly, feeling aggravated as he walks towards his father’s office.

His father finds it hilarious, laughing loudly throughout the hallway and eventually Jongin cracks a smile, but he’s being a hundred percent serious as well. So he really shouldn’t be laughing.

“I sent a maid to fetch the boy, he should be here in a little bit,” his father tells him, taking a seat in his chair and letting out a tired sigh.

Jongin looks around, sitting in a chair off to the side and wondering how the ball went and what Seungsoo’s child looks like. Normally he would have gone, but when his father told him Kyungsoo wouldn’t be going and that he had to keep him company, he didn’t really have a choice.

He supposes he’ll have to send a letter to Seungsoo, apologizing and congratulating him. They haven’t spoken since he picked Kyungsoo up from their castle several months ago.

Hearing a knock on the door Jongin looks up, listening to his dad call in whoever is knocking and then looking towards the door.

He shifts uneasily when he sees it’s Kyungsoo, turning back around and staring at the nice statue his father has made of jade that they got from one of the King’s they know in China.

“Ah, come have a seat Kyungsoo,” his father greets happily, so Jongin looks up slightly, watching as Kyungsoo avoids looking anywhere near him as he takes a seat.

Jongin clears his throat before looking at his father, wondering why he needed to talk to them both.

“Would you prefer a summer or a fall wedding?” his father questions, pulling out a calendar scroll and putting on his spectacles.

Jongin nearly chokes on his own spit.

“I beg your pardon?” he squeaks out, looking at his father with wide eyes.

They’re supposed to get married in the winter, the day after Kyungsoo turns eighteen.

“Did Kyungsoo not talk to you while I was away?” his father questions seriously, looking over at Kyungsoo who seems to shrink in on himself as much as possible.

Jongin gapes, looking at Kyungsoo and then at his father. Were they in alliance with one another behind his back?

“He asked if we could move the wedding up, he never told me why. What’s going on?” he questions, growing irritated because apparently his fiancé can confide in his father, but not in him.

His father sighs, setting his calendar down before rubbing his forehead. Jongin shifts in his seat, stealing a glance at his fiancé who’s biting his lip harshly.

“The day I left Prince Kyungsoo requested that we move the wedding up sooner. Of course I told him I would have to discuss it with his father, and that he should discuss it with you,” his father states.

Jongin nods his head, but still it doesn’t give him the answers he wants. Like why Kyungsoo wants to move the date up.

“Kyungsoo, why don’t you go read in the garden, I think Joohyuk is there right now,” his father states quietly.

Looking over Jongin notices that Kyungsoo looks a little close to crying again, his hands are gripping the chair he’s sitting in for dear life and he shakes slightly when he gets up and leaves the room.

Jongin frowns, looking back over at his father for answers.

“So he didn’t tell you anything?”

“No. Not a thing,” he replies, slumping in his seat out of exhaustion. He just wants answers. “Does this have to do with his birth father?” he questions hesitantly, looking up when his dad laughs at him.

“Where would you get an idea like that? Don’t be absurd,” his father laughs out, shaking his head and giving him a look. “The poor boy has no idea about any of that.”

Jongin blushes, feeling his ears heat up in embarrassment.

“I merely suggested that he should write his brother, since it’s been a while. He told me he never wrote a letter before. Then talk about seals came up and it seemed to upset him,” his father explains, looking back at his calendar while talking.

“He doesn’t care for his surname much these days and if I had to live under that man I wouldn’t either. I made a comment that maybe he should change it, the poor boy, he’s so naïve, he asked how before he realized. I joked that maybe we should move the wedding up, he took me quite literally.”

Jongin is torn between laughing and wanting to go lie down in bed and never get up. He and Jini were thinking too far ahead of themselves when in reality, Kyungsoo hates his own name.

The boy hates being associated with his own name.

“Why couldn’t he just tell me that?” he questions exasperatedly, feeling like he needs a drink of wine after the day he’s had.

His father doesn’t say anything for a while, looking over his calendar while humming lightly.

“So, would you like a fall or summer wedding?” his father questions once several minutes have passed.

Jongin sighs, rubbing his hands over his face. They would be getting married regardless, he supposes moving the wedding sooner isn’t that big of a deal. He just wishes Kyungsoo would have told him why.

“Fall,” he replies, shifting in his seat. “Kyungsoo doesn’t like the heat.”

King Kim smiles before looking back at his calendar.

Chapter Text

The castle is a little cooler when Kyungsoo wakes up. For once he isn’t sweating, his clothes dry instead of being damp as he sits up in bed.

The curtains are still closed and it’s dark in the room, but once Kyungsoo is fully awake he can hear the sounds of light rainfall.

He supposes that’s why he still feels like he could go back to bed, but his mind is wide awake now and even though his eyes feel heavy he moves to get changed for the day.

He grabs the familiar light blue shirt he’s grown accustomed to wearing along with faded black pants and a clean pair of undergarments before heading towards the restroom.

Changing he looks himself over in the mirror, his lips pulled into a frown when he notices how much weight he’s put on. He pinches and pokes at his stomach, already in a foul mood as he puts his new shirt on and changes his pants.

Kyungsoo has never liked looking himself in the mirror because when he does he sees nothing he likes.

His eyes are too big, too round and wide. His nose is ugly to him, he hates the way it’s shaped and his lips are no better. His skin is pale, although it’s probably the only thing he has ever been complimented on. His dark hair does nothing to help how light he looks either.

Every time he looks in the mirror all he can see are flaws, how much different he looks in comparison to his handsome brother.

When he was younger he would often get quite envious with how much taller Seungsoo was becoming, how his brother’s baby fat disappeared on its own, how his shoulders were wide and he had enough muscle to show off but not too much that it made him look bulky.

None of that happened to him. He grew a little, some of his baby fat is gone, but Kyungsoo is still short, painfully so. His shoulders are narrow, his waist is thin (but growing slightly) and he has little to no muscles.

Kyungsoo feels like the ugly runt of a litter that is almost always killed off before it can grow. But instead he’s left to live a pitiful life, watching everyone around him grow and fit into the role of a handsome prince while he stays the same.

Sighing he exits the bathroom, sparing his fiancé a glance to see he’s still sleeping, drooling lightly his pillow.

Disgusted Kyungsoo leaves the room and heads to breakfast, not feeling like he has much of an appetite but knowing his fiancé won’t leave him alone if he decides to skip a meal.

When he arrives he’s the only one there so he takes a random seat, rubbing his hands together to try and warm them up while he waits.

A maid eventually comes out and brings him a bowl of oatmeal, some cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top. He says a quiet thank you before grabbing his spoon and stirring it around, feeling as miserable as the oats look.

Hearing footsteps he looks up, spotting Joohyuk with his hair a mess and pajamas still on. From the looks of it, he left the room on his own, neither his mother nor father trailing after him.

“Hyung!” Joohyuk chirps as soon as he spots him, his eyes opening fully as he rushes up to him, hugging his waist before sitting in his own chair.

“Good morning,” he says softly, reaching over to fix his unruly hair and getting a bright smile from the boy that he returns, not wanting to hurt the boy’s feelings.

“Mommy said you and Jongin hyung are getting married,” the boy mumbles, rubbing his eyes and then looking at him seriously.

“Yes,” he replies dully, not wanting to remember that their wedding has been moved up to the fall. The King set it up so that their fall festival could still take place on top of the wedding, but of course it doesn’t really matter to him.

“Do you love him?” Joohyuk questions in a childish tone causing him to blanch, looking over at the boy with wide eyes, not being able to form a reply.

“Because mommy loves daddy. Grandpa loves grandma, so you love Jongin hyung, right?” Joohyuk questions, ignoring his oatmeal completely to stare at him.

Kyungsoo stares back, not comprehending why the Kim’s are so vocal about things like this. Slowly he looks back at his oatmeal and returns to eating while answering Joohyuk’s question.

“No. I don’t,” he mumbles, taking another spoonful of the warm oatmeal into his mouth.

He tolerates him, is what he does. He has no positive feelings for Jongin. He doesn’t think much of the elder. He’s just his fiancé whom he’s supposed to marry.

Growing up Kyungsoo was never told he had to love who he was going to marry. He was told how to act and how to speak in front of him. Kyungsoo’s role is nothing more than Jongin’s future spouse.

Someone who won’t talk out of turn and will quietly do as he’s told. He’s an arm piece, as someone once told him and although he doesn’t like to think about it, he’s there for Prince Jongin’s relief as well.

Kyungsoo knows that he isn’t particularly useful for a lot of things. He isn’t smart enough for politics, not crafty enough to help out around the castle and he’s never even been outside long enough to do anything out there.

Prince Jongin would be better off with a maid, since they all seem so happy to see him every time he walks by. They would probably be more useful to him as well. Kyungsoo isn’t a woman, he can’t even give him a child.

He can’t give him anything. He’s pointless. Which is why his father was so quick to give him to the first gullible royals he could find he supposes.

He doesn’t tell Joohyuk any of this though, knowing it’s far too inappropriate and the boy just wouldn’t understand.

“Why not?” Joohyuk questions after a while, tilting his head curious as he stares.

Kyungsoo shrugs, not knowing what to tell the boy. “I don’t know,” is what he settles with.

Kyungsoo doesn’t think he’s ever felt truly loved to know what it feels like when you reciprocate the feeling.

Kyungsoo knows his parents never loved him. Maybe at a point his brother might have. He isn’t sure.

No one has ever told him that they did. At least, not that he can remember.

“I don’t understand,” Joohyuk grumbles at his reply, huffing a little while grabbing his cup of juice.

Kyungsoo sighs, looking down at Joohyuk and wondering how he’s supposed to explain this situation to the boy. He isn’t old enough to understand politics, how arranged marriages work or anything of the sort.

He’s still a child that believes in fairytales with knights in shining armor and love at first sight. He won’t grow out of it for a long time too.

“We’re getting married because our parents said so,” he explains, being about as blunt as can be so Joohyuk will understand.

The reasoning seems to sink into Joohyuk’s head because his lips purse and he nods his head, picking at his oatmeal silently.

“Do I have to do that too?” Joohyuk questions some more, looking a little upset.

Kyungsoo immediately shakes his head, setting his spoon down to explain.

“No. You don’t have to get married to someone you don’t want to,” he replies, watching Joohyuk give him an incredulous look.

“Why?” he pesters some more, looking up at him in awe.

Kyungsoo smiles, wishing he could be as lucky as Joohyuk is. If maybe he were born before Seungsoo, he could get the life Joohyuk is going to get but instead he’s going to marry Jongin and become a Kim for the sake of never having to go back to his old home ever again.

Marriage is for when someone wants something, and in this case, it’s safe to assume Kyungsoo is the only one that wants to get something out of it. Once he marries Jongin he won’t have to be a Do. He can just be the pointless Kim, not the disappointing youngest Do Prince.

“Your mom is going to be queen one day and one day you are going to be King. You’re important,” he tells him, recalling all the times he was told the exact opposite.

Joohyuk looks absolutely giddy at this news.

“I am?” he questions excitedly, jumping in his seat a little and looking at him with a smile.

Kyungsoo nods his head, smiling and then going back to his breakfast before it gets cold.

Joohyuk continues to eat as well before stopping again and Kyungsoo turns to see what he’ll ask next.

“Don’t you like Jongin hyung?” Joohyuk asks innocently and Kyungsoo pauses.

Kyungsoo doesn’t know how to answer the boy.

For the time that he’s been there Prince Jongin has done no harm to him. He hasn’t yelled at him or hit him in any way. He talks to him a lot, but that’s as far as their relationship goes.

They aren’t friends and they certainly aren’t in love with each other, like Joohyuk had previously asked.

They’re just engaged to one another because it’s what their parents agreed to. Jongin is doing everything out of obligation, as is he. He doubts Jongin even wants to marry him and thinking back to when he found out about their engagement, he knows for sure that the elder would much rather marry some pretty princess he can have children with.

Although Prince Jongin has been mostly cooperative and nice since he’s moved in, Kyungsoo can’t help but think back to the times he was mean towards him back before he moved in.

The first time he got beaten was because of Prince Jongin and his own brother. He has scars because of it. From that point onward Kyungsoo’s never felt the same. He’s felt worse, because ever since he was beaten by his own father he’s seen just how worthless he truly is.

He has no idea why the Kim’s are bothering with him marrying off their only son who would be better off continuing their blood line with children.

It’s a pointless marriage that will only be benefitting him in the end, not Jongin.

He supposes that’s why Jongin was so dead set against it in the first place, only putting up with him because in the end they’re stuck with each other.

King and Queen Kim seem to like him, so Jongin is stuck with him.

“No,” he eventually replies, staring at his breakfast, his appetite suddenly gone.

Kyungsoo can’t lie and say that he does. Not when he knows that all of this isn’t their choice. Just like his father didn’t ask for him as his son, Prince Jongin never asked to marry him.

When Kyungsoo asked if they could move the wedding up sooner Jongin didn’t give him an answer, he talked about asking his father instead.

Kyungsoo can’t say he likes someone who doesn’t even want him there in the first place.

After a minute or so of silence they continue eating. His juice is still nearly full and his oatmeal has gone cold as he stirs his spoon around.

Hearing someone enter the room he looks up, seeing Prince Jongin walk in silently and take a seat.

Joohyuk immediately says hello and gives a cheerful wave.

Kyungsoo however hesitates, seeing if Jongin will greet him first or not. When he doesn’t he remembers King Kim asking him to try and be nicer to his fiancé.

It’s understandable he supposes, since they are ultimately stuck together, the least he can do is say good morning and reply when he asks a question, so he’s been doing it.

Clearing his throat he says good morning to the other Prince when he doesn’t greet him first and then waits.

Except this time Jongin doesn’t greet him back, instead he continues eating his breakfast in silence leaving him with the familiar feeling on being unwanted.

Although Kyungsoo doesn’t feel all that sad anymore, he’s grown too used to it.

Chapter Text


If there’s one place Jongin likes the most in the castle grounds it’s the stables. Although they’re quite hot during the summer and the smell isn’t always the nicest, he has his horse there with him.

He’s had Kai since he was a foal, just a little runt of a horse that had the hardest time walking around and getting used to his own legs. It took even longer for Jongin to manage to tame him. Kai was not the easiest to deal with. He got bit a few too many times, one of his fingernails being ruined because of this.

Jongin was thirteen when Kai was born, he had already learned how to care for a horse and how to ride them. He’s quite good at horseback riding if he says so himself.

But learning to teach the horse all that he knew was difficult. It took two years for Kai to become tame and even then, sometimes he gives the stable boys trouble.

Kai is pure white almost all over, his snout is a greyish black that matches along with his hooves. He gets dirty a lot, liking to roll around when he takes him out for walks. Jongin is almost positive he does it on purpose just so he’ll wash him again.

Today Kai is eating when Jongin arrives at the stables after breakfast. He didn’t really have a chance to eat properly, his fiancé coming in a little while after he sat down and saying good morning to him, yet again.

Jongin wants to reply, to tell him a good morning in return but Jongin is also upset and maybe part of him is being childish, but he doesn’t return the greeting out of spite and he leaves before he can even watch Kyungsoo get his plate.

Everything is happening too fast for Jongin to cope with. It’s hitting him all at once and he just wants it to stop so he can catch up and pretend that he’s okay with everything and pretend he’s happy about it.

When Jongin was told he was engaged, in an arranged marriage he didn’t find himself being upset or angry with his parents. He knew that as the youngest child in his family he wasn’t going to have the amount of responsibilities his sisters would have.

Jini would one day become Queen and if anything were to ever happen to her, Jinhee was next in line and Jongin was dead last. When Jini had Joohyuk, Jongin’s chances for ever being King were slimmed and when Jinhee had Rahee he knew he would never have to worry about a heavier crown put upon his head.

However, he never thought that the ring on his finger would have the same weight, would be such a burden to him.

Jongin has watched as other royals find out about their arranged marriage, they get upset but in the end, they’re okay. Somehow they make it work and because of this Jongin never had any worries about marrying a complete stranger.

He knew he they would announce the engagement at the right time and then his future spouse would move in with him and Jongin just always assumed that over time they would grow to like each other at least. He wasn’t delusional and hoping to fall in love, he just wanted him and his future spouse to get along and maybe one day something would come from it.

But the moment he found out he was engaged to not only his best friend’s little brother, but to the boy he indirectly got beaten, he knew he was in for trouble.

He knew at first Kyungsoo hated him with his entire being. He had every reason to.

He just thought that being nice and trying to talk to the boy would make him eventually warm up to him. All it ended up doing was further annoying him in the end so Jongin stopped, he literally had to tell him he would stop just to get him to go to the library.

And Kyungsoo seems to quite enjoy being in the library, so then Jongin thought maybe Kyungsoo would open up just a little bit but he never did.

It took a while for Jongin to realize that he was hoping Kyungsoo would open up, it didn’t dawn on him until he recognized how disappointed he felt every day Kyungsoo blatantly ignored him.

Growing up royal Jongin isn’t used to being ignored or not getting his way and he’s tried his hardest to be understanding. He knows that despite him and Kyungsoo being of the same status, they weren’t raised like one another at all.

Jongin tries his hardest to remember this but his patience can only go so far and Kyungsoo’s minuscule amount of effort being put into everything compared to him just makes him feel hopeless about the entire ordeal.

It doesn’t help matters that no matter how much space he gives the boy or how much he tries to get to know him or talk to him, Kyungsoo still doesn’t like him.

It definitely weighs him down, his ring feels like it’s suffocating his finger nowadays and his room feels so uncomfortable to be in.

He feels used and toyed with, knowing that any effort Kyungsoo is making is only for his father’s sake, so he doesn’t have to go back home. Even if Jongin knows Kyungsoo wants to get married he also knows it’s only because he no longer wishes to be confined under the Do name.

Perhaps Kyungsoo was right, he muses, petting along Kai’s back and giving him a pat or two before removing his hand, people only get married because they want something.

Sighing he reaches into his pocket, taking out a sugar cube he managed to sneak from the kitchen before he left.

Kai takes it gratefully, and Jongin is left with a slightly wet hand he carelessly wipes on his pants, frowning when he hears carriages approaching the castle.

He looks outside of the stable, his lips scowling as he sees the gaudy yellow emblem on the side of the buggy that can only symbolize one family. The Oh’s.

Jongin detests their youngest son, he has since the day he met him and his perception of Oh Sehun has only worsened over the years.

He’s stuck up, highly so and thinks he’s better than everyone. From what Jongin has seen he treats those below him horridly and his vulgar and crude language only further irritates Jongin.

On top of all of this, Jongin knows Prince Sehun has constantly picked on Kyungsoo any chance he got.

Jongin is not the least bit clueless to the weird obsession Sehun had of Kyungsoo as they grew up. Seungsoo may have always been oblivious but Jongin has watched Sehun taunt and tease the boy until his eyes looked ready to spill tears.

Jongin always excused his not intervening as it wasn’t his place. Kyungsoo was not his brother nor was he responsible for him. If Seungsoo didn’t say anything it was rude to try and butt in.

But now, it is his place and so he gives Kai the last of his sugar cubes and then heads back into the castle.

It’s starting to warm up now, luckily he isn’t sweating all that much so he won’t look improper at least. Walking into the castle he goes towards the dining hall, when he sees no one is there he goes towards the main hallway.

There he finds his fiancé along with Prince Sehun, the taller boy saying something to his fiancé. Jongin immediately scowls, stepping up his pace.

“Prince Sehun,” he calls out loudly, watching as the boy and his fiancé twitch a little in surprise.

Jongin looks over at Kyungsoo first, noting his hands are slightly shaking as he grips onto his pants, his eyes are red around the edges as he looks down.

“I don’t believe its proper that you’re alone with my fiancé,” he bites out, plastering a smile on his face as he watches the other Prince give him his trademark blank stare.

“We were just talking, Jongin,” Sehun drawls out, giving him a tiny glare.

Jongin has always hated the fact that Sehun has never used honorifics with him. Stealthily he moves so that he’s in front of Kyungsoo, not even wanting the other Prince staring at him for too long.

“I don’t believe he’s obligated to talk to someone who’s beneath him,” he states with a little bit more menace than he means to. He smiles, watching as Sehun’s eyebrow twitches in annoyance.

“I think you have our roles mixed up,” Sehun replies, sneering at him while taking a step forward.

Jongin knows he’s riling him up and it isn’t good manners but, Joohyuk told him about the last time the Oh’s were in their castle and Jongin is only more motivated to put the younger Prince in his place once and for all.

“I think you forgot to ask your wife’s permission to speak, your highness,” he fires back, watching as the taller boy’s entire faces goes red.

Sehun moves forward slightly, fists clenched and Jongin almost feels threatened, but from experience Jongin knows who the better fighter is, with or without a sword.

“If you bother my fiancé again that scar on the right side of your face won’t be the only one you have,” he threatens, staring the boy down before Sehun scoffs, walking away and purposefully bumping into him before he stalks off.

Jongin scowls, watching him disappear around the corner before turning around to see Kyungsoo still standing where he was before.

Except now his shoulders are shaking and Jongin can only assume he’s crying.

“Did he touch you?” he interrogates, wanting to reach out and inspect the younger prince but knowing his limits. “Are you okay? He didn’t hurt you did he?” he questions some more, growing more worried the long Kyungsoo doesn’t reply.

“I’m….I’m sorry that I ignored you earlier, just please tell me if you’re okay,” he apologizes, hands itching to do something but not wanting to further frighten the boy.

Just when Jongin’s about to physically check him over himself, Kyungsoo lets out a snort and it’s then that Jongin realizes he’s not crying. He’s laughing.

“You’re scaring me,” he confesses, so very confused and worried all at the same time.

“He’s scared of you,” Kyungsoo snorts out, covering his mouth while looking up at him and its one of the first time’s Jongin has seen his normally wide eyes so small, scrunched up in a manner that leaves him flustered.

Jongin doesn’t know what to say so he just blinks his eyes dumbly, brows furrowing in confusion.

“You hit like a child compared to my father,” Kyungsoo eventually gets out and Jongin’s stomach flops unhappily at the comparison.

Not because Kyungsoo is unintentionally insulting him, but because of who he’s being compared to. Regardless at what he means, Kyungsoo is comparing him being beaten by his father to the one time he can ever recall physically shoving the boy.

He doesn’t like it. It makes him feel nauseas.

“Kyungsoo that isn’t funny,” he says quietly, watching as Kyungsoo sobers up, his hands dropping to his side as his brows furrow.

Jongin watches as the younger boy stares at him in silent confusion. He looks a little scared, but mostly just lost, like he doesn’t understand.

“What your father did isn’t right Kyungsoo. It’s not normal. It’s nothing to laugh or joke about,” he explains, watching Kyungsoo start to squirm uncomfortably in his place.

“Don’t you understand that?” he questions seriously, watching as Kyungsoo’s face goes from confused to scared in a matter of seconds.

Jongin thinks that no, he doesn’t understand it at all.

“Am I in trouble?” Kyungsoo whispers out, looking terrified and ready to spill tears once again.

Jongin hates it. He hates the boy’s father but worst of all he hates himself. Because this is all his fault. In the end, he’s the one responsible for causing the boy to be at this point. He should have just kept his mouth shut back then.

“No,” he states sternly, so very tired of having to explain and get it through the boys head. “You didn’t do anything wrong,” he sighs out, running his hands over his face before giving Kyungsoo a tiny smile that doesn’t get returned.

“You can go to our room, I’ll tell everyone you weren’t feeling well,” he decides after a while, not wanting Sehun near the boy but knowing that he will most likely have to entertain the other prince while their parents are talking.

Kyungsoo nods his head, shifting on his feet and looking up at him, his lips moving like he’s going to say something before he looks back down.

Jongin watches as the boy starts hurriedly walking towards the stairs, stumbling once or twice before disappearing around the banister.

Sighing he turns around running his hands through his hair and then letting his head fall back. He certainly does not want to go find Prince Sehun and keep him company, especially not after what just happened.

“J-Jongin,” a voice stutters so he turns around, surprised when he sees Kyungsoo standing there.

Jongin’s brows furrow, waiting for him to say something but he seems to be struggling. Confused Jongin walks over to him, so that way he won’t have to speak louder than he needs to,

Patiently he waits, wanting to pull Kyungsoo’s fingers from his mouth but resisting the urge to do so.

“I don’t want him to follow me,” Kyungsoo finally whispers, his hands wringing together and Jongin finally notices that he looks paranoid. Beyond paranoid by the way his eyes keep wandering and how he can’t keep still.

“Do you want me to come with you?” he questions, surprised when Kyungsoo nods his head.

Jongin in return follows Kyungsoo up to their shared room, watching as the boy goes and sits in his usual corner, bringing his legs up to his chest and resting his head on his knees.

Not knowing what to do, and beyond highly confused at the entire situation, Jongin moves to sit on the bed, not knowing the last time he actually go a good night’s sleep in his own bed. He’s been sleeping on the little couch in the room for months.

The room is quiet, not a peep comes out of Kyungsoo from that moment on and Jongin supposes that he can grow to like this kind of silence. Because it’s not from Kyungsoo ignoring all his questions, it’s from Kyungsoo just wanting someone near him.

Whether it’s from fear of being punished or wanting actual company, Jongin decides it’s still something. He may not like how the silence drags on and on but at least Kyungsoo is content enough to fall asleep in his spot near the window and doesn’t wake when he moves to put him in the bed.

In the end Jongin is left wanting to feel just a tad bit hopeful, but knowing emotions with Kyungsoo are unpredictable, he tells himself to be realistic. His relationship with Kyungsoo will probably always be like this, unpredictable and rocky, and he should just learn to get used to it.

Chapter Text

After the Oh’s visit things seem to go smoothly. Jongin hasn’t made Kyungsoo upset in a total of nine days. An impressive feat when you consider their history. Kyungsoo hasn’t yelled, hasn’t cried, and hasn’t looked sad in a while.

It’s nice, watching him interact, although still mostly with Joohyuk and look more at ease in the castle. Kyungsoo still doesn’t talk a lot, and when he does it’s in soft tones that are borderline whispers.

He tells him good morning and Jongin returns the greeting, giving his fiancé a smile but still never receiving one back. Even if it’s a mundane routine, at least it’s consistent. Kyungsoo seems content, although Jongin thinks it would be a stretch to say he looks happy, especially since they have been going over wedding details the past two days. Kyungsoo doesn’t seem interested in the slightest bit and every joint decision is ultimately made by him. When his father asks them something they both have to decide, Kyungsoo looks at him and just nods along with whatever he says.

He doesn’t like it if he’s being honest with himself. He wants Kyungsoo to speak up and have an opinion, but he also knows that wedding flowers and invitation parchments aren’t going to be what makes Kyungsoo break out of his shell. Even he doesn’t care whether they have roses or lilies.

Everything is calm, nothing out of the ordinary until Jongin gets called to his father’s office and gets told Seungsoo will be making a visit tomorrow.

Jongin stills in his spot, eyes widening in surprise. He hasn’t heard a word from Seungsoo in a long time. He meant to write him a letter, telling him his congratulations on his son being born, but he’s been busy and with Kyungsoo being in the back of his mind constantly, he never got around to it.

“Why?” he asks, because as far as he knows he and Kyungsoo haven’t been close since they were children and if Kyungsoo still resents him for the beating incident, who knows how he feels about his own brother.

“He wants to check on his sibling, is that so bad?” his father replies, giving him a look before reading over something in his hands. “We also have business matters to discuss,” he adds on.

Jongin shifts in his seat, wondering how he’s going to tell his fiancé about this and how he’s going to react. He sighs, knowing it can’t end well and his streak of keeping Kyungsoo relaxed and not crying is going to be ruined.

“I suppose I’ll go tell him then,” he mumbles, getting permission to leave and then walking out of his father’s study.

Sighing he runs his hands through his hair, walking towards the stairwell. He’s worried for Kyungsoo, but he’s also worried about himself.

He hasn’t spoken a word to Seungsoo in so long. They used to be close, always writing each other and visiting one another but when they both found out he would be marrying Kyungsoo that started to stop.

Jongin never once thought that he would be marrying his friend’s sibling and maybe Seungsoo never thought of it as well because he was just as surprised at their engagement party.

Once he makes it to their room he knocks on the door before entering, seeing Kyungsoo unaware of his presence by the window.

Jongin watches as he moves his hands around, making shapes of animals and other things with his shadow. He’s smiling lightly to himself and talking under his breath, but Jongin can’t make out a thing. Kyungsoo does this a lot, and Jongin honestly thinks the boy talks to himself and it’s quite worrisome.

He clears his throat, alerting Kyungsoo to his presence and watches as the younger boy twitches, his hands dropping to sit in his lap as he looks down and away from him.

“Can I sit with you?” he questions, hesitantly moving forward when Kyungsoo shrugs indifferently.

He takes a seat across from him, not sitting too close in case Kyungsoo is uncomfortable. He doesn’t particularly like sitting on the floor, being a Prince he’s used to extravagant thrones and comfortable chairs. A carpeted floor is almost an insult.

But Kyungsoo spends a lot of time in this particular spot, staring out the window or reading a book.

“We’re having a visitor tomorrow,” he informs, watching as Kyungsoo’s hands twist the hem of his shirt nervously.

Kyungsoo nods, sparing him a tiny glance before he’s looking back at his lap.

Jongin doesn’t know how to tell him next that it’s his brother. He barely knows how to talk to Kyungsoo normally, he definitely has no idea how to tell him his brother is coming to visit. So he decides to just get it over with and straight out tell him.

“It’s your brother,” he states, watching for any sign of distress but surprisingly seeing none.

It confuses him, because he half expected Kyungsoo to yell at him or misunderstand him. But the younger boy looks rather calm, still staring at his hands.

“He wanted to see how you were doing,” he says slowly, keeping an eye out for any sort of reaction.

“Okay,” Kyungsoo replies softly, messing with his shirt again but not crying, yelling or doing anything he expected him to do.

Jongin frowns, scratching the back of his head in confusion.

“Can you leave?” Kyungsoo mutters, snapping him out of his confusion and making him frown for an entirely different reason.

He should be happy Kyungsoo asked nicely he supposes, but still, Kyungsoo is always so eager for him to just go away.

“Alright,” he replies, getting off the floor and then heading out of the room.

However he leaves the door open just a crack, wanting to see if Kyungsoo is going to do something when he leaves but he just sits there.

Jongin knows spying on the boy can get him in trouble, since Kyungsoo doesn’t like to be spied on, but he’s curious and his lack of response to the news that his brother is coming is concerning to Jongin.

He only watches for a little while and then he leaves when he realizes that Kyungsoo is just talking to himself.

It’s weird, even more worrisome than his lack of any kind of response he was expecting to receive.

He heads back to the main floor, knowing this isn’t exactly a medical problem but the physician in the castle is quite smart and maybe he can give him some insight as to why his fiancé talks to himself.

Once he gets down the bottom floor he goes towards his little office. He only ever visits the family physician when he’s sick, so it’s not often. The last time he came here was when they were examining Kyungsoo’s arm and he had to be there for moral support or something.

Knocking on the door he waits until its open, seeing the little old man immediately once the door is cracked just a tiny bit.

When Physician Jun sees him he’s immediately bowing, open the door fully and inviting him in.

The physician’s room is big. There’s enough room for a small exam table along with books upon books on several shelves. There’s a desk and another equipped with medical equipment as well.

“Are you feeling alright, your highness?” Physician Jun questions, looking concerned.

Jongin shakes his head, sighing before telling him of his dilemma.

“I’m fine. It’s just my fiancé….Kyungsoo. I’ve noticed that he, well, talks to himself,” he blurts, not knowing how else to say it.

Physician Jun gives him a look that isn’t all that surprised, it only further confuses him.

“Prince Kyungsoo isn’t crazy, if that’s what you’re wondering, your highness,” Jun replies, giving him a tiny smile but looking a little uncomfortable.

Jongin eyes him suspiciously, because if he told anyone else in their right mind that his fiancé speaks to himself almost on a daily basis, they’d tell him to send him to a crazy house.

“Did you already know about this?” he presses, his eyes widening when Jun nods his head.

“It was under the request of the King that I observe Prince Kyungsoo for a week and then report to him my findings,” Jun replies, a little nervously but he stands straight, not cowering away in fear.

Not that he’s anything to fear. Jongin knows he doesn’t have an authoritative voice like his father and eldest sister do. He can only be so demanding and stern before he just sounds like a child playing pretend.

“You spied on him?” he asks, not liking that information one bit.

“I observed him, yes. I do apologize but the King, your father, was very adamant on it,” the physician replies, walking over towards his desk.

Jongin follows him with his eyes, seeing a journal sitting wide open along with stacks upon stacks of books.

“Prince Kyungsoo has formed several habits to compensate for his lack of social interaction and care as a child. He talks to himself because there was no one else to talk to when he was younger. His nail biting is most likely a nervous habit caused by anxiety. There are some other alarming things as well,” Jun states plainly, grabbing the open notebook and his spectacles from the table and putting them on.

“I have been doing research for answers. But, most of his tendencies stem from his neglect as a child. He shouldn’t even be as short as he is, considering his sibling and parents are taller than most. I suspect malnutrition among other things. It’s all here,” Jun sighs out, handing him the notebook with both hands.

Jongin looks down at the notebook, seeing the pages filled fully of writing. There are notes everywhere and the first couple of pages are solely a schedule of what Kyungsoo did that day and when.

It’s all overwhelming and Jongin wants to be mad that they did this without his permission, but then he realizes his father is only trying to help, so he can’t.

“Your father meets with him every other day and he reports anything new to me. I do my research but this isn’t very common. I may not ever really know how to fix him. Physically, I can make him better, emotionally, I’m not sure, your highness,” Jun confesses, looking at him sympathetically.

Jongin nods his head, reading over what notes he can make out and then handing the journal back to its rightful owner.

“All I can suggest is patience, your highness.”

Jongin almost laughs, but instead says thank you and smiles before sighing. He knows he has to be patient with the younger boy, he didn’t need a doctor to tell him that.

“You’ll tell me if you find anything out?” he questions, not wanting to be even more out of the loop than he already is.

“Of course, your highness!” physician Jun rushes out, bowing politely.

Jongin does the same before turning to leave, wondering how on earth anyone ever allowed things to get this bad with Kyungsoo.

There had to have been one person to realize Kyungsoo was being neglected that badly. If his parents noticed then surely someone else did.

Jongin can’t comprehend it. Kyungsoo never did anything to deserve the treatment he got. Even then, it still doesn’t make sense that he would be treated that badly just because of his birth status.

Jongin can’t help but feel like something is not adding up.

Chapter Text

Seungsoo arrives early in the morning, before most of the palace is awake. Kyungsoo just so happens to be one of the few who woke up early.

He couldn’t sleep well the night before, the summer’s heat bothering him along with an anxious feeling deep in his gut.

He wakes up just as the sun is rising and he gets ready for the day, sneaking out of the room quietly before going towards the dining room. It takes longer for his breakfast to arrive, the chefs just barely arriving in the kitchen after him.

After he eats he has nothing to do so he sits in the front study, messing with the curtains and nervously looking out the window.

His brother should be arriving soon, the King told him he was expected to arrive early in the morning.

Kyungsoo wasn’t surprised when he heard the news from his fiancé. He read the letter Seungsoo had written to King Kim not too long ago and he said he would be making a trip out there as soon as he could.

At first Kyungsoo felt scared that he was coming to take him back home, but after the reassurance from King Kim, he was put at ease.

Now he just feels anxious, not having seen his brother since he left several months ago. He barely remembers what his brother looked like that day, having been so overwhelmed by everything.

If Kyungsoo is being honest with himself, he misses his brother. Although he never spent much time with him once Seungsoo turned ten or eleven. Seungsoo was busy being poked and prodded with etiquette lessons on top of politics and other important things Kyungsoo has no clue about.

His brother was nice to him when they were little. They would play and Seungsoo would sneak him snacks and treats.

But the older he got, the less fun Seungsoo was. He turned mean one day and never turned back.

Kyungsoo knows he shouldn’t miss someone who got him beaten, among other things. He shouldn’t miss someone he barely talked to or was barely acknowledged by. But he does.

He misses the familiarity of his old home. He misses the cold and his bed. He misses his brother. He feels wrong for feeling so.

His hands are shaking when he sees the carriage with the Do crest on the side, his legs moving on autopilot as he stands up from his seat and rushes over towards the front of the castle, freezing in his spot when he sees King Kim.

He’s the only one there to greet his brother, everyone else probably still asleep.

“Good morning,” he greets quietly, surprising the King who shifts a little before turning towards him.

“Ah, good morning to you too, your highness,” King Kim greets with a friendly smile.

Kyungsoo’s cheeks heat up as he puts his head down, fighting back a smile. King Kim has started referring to him this way and it makes Kyungsoo feel funny. Because his own father never referred to him as anything; not by his name, not by royalty, not by anything. To have King Kim do it makes Kyungsoo smile.

“You must be happy to see your brother again,” King Kim states, folding his arm across his chest as he waits for the carriage to arrive.

Kyungsoo bites his lip, not knowing if he is happy. He’s something, but he doesn’t know what it is. Kyungsoo can’t really tell what he’s feeling these days. It’s not sad, so who knows what it is.

He nods his head regardless, shifting on his feet and moving to bite on his nails when he hears the horses arrive.

Kyungsoo watches anxiously at the doors, seeing them open his breath hitches, his eyes widening when Seungsoo comes into view.

He didn’t know what he was expecting his brother to look like after not seeing him for so long, but this definitely wasn’t it.

Seungsoo looks thin, thinner than he was when he left and his skin looks paler than he remembered. His hair has grown out at well, looking in need of a desperate cut. His eyes look tired; Seungsoo looks tired. Seungsoo looks sad.

Looking him over Seungsoo looks like he did when he arrived at the Kim’s and it makes Kyungsoo feel sick.

“Welcome!” King Kim greets causing Kyungsoo to twitch, letting out a little squeak that catches his brother’s attention.

Seungsoo spares him a tiny glance before looking back towards King Kim who is talking. Kyungsoo stays off to the side, waiting patiently while they greet one another properly.

“I’m sure you haven’t eaten yet, Kyungsoo would be glad to show you to the dining room,” King Kim states causing him to twitch, looking up with wide eyes at the King and then back at Seungsoo.

Kyungsoo nods his head quickly and then looks over towards King Kim for further instruction.

“We can discuss business after lunch. I’m sure you two want to catch up!” he chirps, turning and giving him a pat on the shoulder and a smile.

Kyungsoo returns it shakily, watching him go and then turning back towards Seungsoo who’s staring at him silently.

Kyungsoo looks up and just stares at his older brother for a while before looking at his feet, not knowing if he should start walking and Seungsoo will follow or if he’s supposed to say something. He’s never been in charge of anything in his entire life and being tasked with taking Seungsoo to breakfast is a little too much responsibility for his liking.

“You never wrote me back,” Seungsoo speaks up, startling him out of his inner crisis.

He looks up at his older brother, not knowing what to say. He never even read any of the letters Seungsoo wrote him. He threw the first outside, kept the second hidden underneath his pillow and the third as well.

“I didn’t know I was supposed to,” he lies, shrugging his shoulders and then staring at his feet.

Seungsoo surprises him by laughing, reaching over and ruffling his hair causing him to flinch, looking at the elder in surprise.

“Where’s the dining room?” Seungsoo questions, looking a bit livelier now but Kyungsoo can still see the dark bags under his eyes and it doesn’t settle well with him.

Kyungsoo clears his throat before pointing and then moving in the direction of the dining room. The trip is silent but Seungsoo sticks close to him the entire time.

In all honesty it feels foreign to him, not having spent actual time with his brother since they were children.

When they arrive in the eating area Kyungsoo stops, spotting his fiancé at the table by himself. Momentarily Kyungsoo forgets what he’s doing and he turns around to leave only to run straight into his brother.

He lets out a tiny shriek, squeezing his eyes shut when Seungsoo grabs his shoulders to steady him.

“You’re still so clumsy,” his brother snorts out, turning him around gently before pushing him forward.

Kyungsoo cracks his eyes open, seeing Jongin staring at him and Seungsoo in surprise.

“Good morning,” his brother greets, keeping his hands on his back and pushing him along.

Kyungsoo awkwardly avoids eye contact with his fiancé, sticking close to Seungsoo when they greet each other in a lifeless handshake.

“You’re up early,” Jongin voices and Kyungsoo realizes that it’s being directed towards him.

Looking up he sees both his brother and Jongin staring at him and he immediately looks away, biting his lip before giving a tiny shrug.

“I brought you something,” Seungsoo speaks up, reaching around in his pockets.

Kyungsoo is surprised, not expecting anything from Seungsoo, because honestly it wouldn’t make sense for him to bring back anything. He spares his fiancé a glance, confused to see him staring at his brother with a little bit of a glare.

“I wasn’t able to go, but I got a maid to bring back some,” Seungsoo says, handing him a little satchel that he takes hesitantly, confused as he looks inside only to see a handful of candy.

His eyes widen in surprise, his lips wanting to twitch into a smile because he hasn’t seen this particular candy since he was five or six. Seungsoo used to sneak them to him when he wasn’t allowed to go to the festivals. In fact, it was the only way to get him to stop crying when he was little.

One time his father found out though and Seungsoo got in trouble. Kyungsoo never saw them again.

“Th-they’re all for me?” he questions, wondering if there’s a catch. Or if Seungsoo will get in trouble again.

“Of course. Unless you want to share,” Seungsoo replies, taking a seat away from Jongin leaving him to sit in-between them.

Kyungsoo bites on his lip, looking at the candy and then at Jongin.

“Can I have them?” he asks, not wanting to get in trouble for having candy.

Jongin’s just about to reply when he hears Seungsoo scoff. Confused yet again he looks over at his brother.

“You don’t have to ask him. They’re yours. Eat them,” Seungsoo states sternly so he nods, looking over at Jongin who’s got a glare on his face.

Kyungsoo doesn’t know why the two seem to be upset with each other so he ignores it, picking up one of the jelly like candies and eating it, a smile blossoming on this lips from the sweet taste.

“Thank you, hyung,” he beams, grabbing another piece and stuffing it in his mouth.

Kyungsoo continues to stuff his face, knowing that he won’t get in trouble and since there’s plenty of pieces.

He twitches when he hears a fork clank against a plate loudly, looking up to see Prince Jongin glaring at his breakfast unhappily.

Kyungsoo frowns, looking at his candy and then looking at his brother who’s eating silently.

“C-can I leave?” he questions, not liking the thick atmosphere surrounding his brother and his fiancé. He wants to enjoy his treat in peace.

“Of course, go on,” Jongin states plainly, keeping his eyes on his food.

Kyungsoo shifts uneasily in his seat, feeling uncomfortable, “I was talking to Seungsoo,” he mumbles, keeping his gaze downwards and avoiding the look Jongin sends him.

“You can go,” Seungsoo tells him, ruffling his hair again causing him to blush, ducking his head before he gets up and goes before the two get into some kind of fight.

Kyungsoo heads towards the front study, sitting on the couch he hugs the treats to his chest, smiling happily before opening them back up and eating several more pieces.

Chapter Text

Jongin has long since lost his appetite. He’s not even close to being hungry and all he can do is noisily move his food around on his plate as his sister’s talk to Seungsoo.

It wasn’t long after Kyungsoo left when his sisters and their families came down for breakfast. Jongin couldn’t even confront Seungsoo about anything before they got there. So now he can’t even glare at the other Prince without his siblings taking notice.

“I think I’m going to go find my brother now,” Seungsoo announces, getting out of his chair and without even thinking Jongin stands up as well, getting several odd looks from the rest of the table.

“I’ll go with you,” he states plainly, getting a look from Seungsoo that only further irritates him.

“That isn’t necessary,” Seungsoo replies, his brows furrowing in the politest form of a glare.

It only makes his hands twitch in annoyance.

“I insist,” he bites out, trying to keep the tone from his voice but failing because Seungsoo does send him a glare this time around that he can only gladly return.

“Fine, lead the way,” Seungsoo huffs, so he does, leaving the dining room and heading towards the front study that Kyungsoo often likes to occupy.

Jongin doesn’t even know why he’s mad but he is. He supposes it might be over the fact that both Kyungsoo and his brother are acting like nothing ever happened. This shouldn’t bother Jongin, because they’re brothers. At one point all they ever had was each other and he should be happy that Kyungsoo isn’t glaring his brother to death.

But, he’s mad. He’s mad because Kyungsoo can be so forgiving to someone who he hasn’t seen in months and bribes him with candy while he’s been trying so hard to apologize and make up for it and all he gets is a measly good morning.

Then there’s the fact that Kyungsoo has resorted back into thinking he needs permission to do certain things. What’s even worse is that he’s ignoring the fact that they’re engaged and looking towards Seungsoo for a yes or a no, ignoring his complete existence.

Once he walks into the front study he immediately spots Kyungsoo sitting near one of the couches on the floor, a book in his hand and his satchel of candy in his lap.

When Kyungsoo takes notice of them he smiles, rather, when he notices Seungsoo he smiles. Jongin knows better than to think it’s being directed at him.

“Are you not hungry?” Seungsoo questions, walking ahead of him and taking a seat next to his brother while Jongin stands there dumbly, feeling envious that the other Prince can so easily do what he wants without asking for Kyungsoo’s permission.

“I already ate,” Kyungsoo mumbles, fidgeting in his seat and then sparing him a tiny glance, looking back down at his lap when Seungsoo ruffles his hair.

Jongin watches the exchange and feels completely out of place. Neither of the Do Princes are paying him any attention so he turns around and walks out of the room, feeling his stomach twist anxiously he moves to sit down.

He doesn’t mean to spy, although maybe subconsciously he does, but he only plans on sitting until his stomach has calmed down. However when he hears Kyungsoo start to talk excitedly about the book he’s reading he can’t force himself to move.

Because it’s the most Jongin has ever heard Kyungsoo talk and in all honestly, he can’t even tell you what Kyungsoo’s voice sounds like from memory. It’s not like Kyungsoo speaks more than a few words to him.

But with Seungsoo he can’t stop talking. He goes on and on about their library and the foods and how the maids are nice to him and don’t make fun of him like they did back home.

Jongin can’t help but smile listening to him talk, because Kyungsoo sounds happy. It never even occurred to him that maybe, despite the fact that Kyungsoo doesn’t smile as much or talk as much, that he could be happy here. Maybe Kyungsoo doesn’t even realize he’s happy here, but the way he talks about the castle, about Joohyuk and the garden, he genuinely sounds like he is.

However the smile fades from his face when he hears Seungsoo ask about him, knowing very well how Kyungsoo feels he moves to get up, not wanting to hear yet again how the younger boy doesn’t like him. Because the first time he heard him say it, it was all he could think about for days.

So he gets up from the floor about to walk away when he hears a tiny laugh. Confused he stops, turning to peek his head inside the door frame slightly to see what’s going on.

Kyungsoo is hiding a smile behind his hand, staring at the floor while trying not to laugh.

“Prince Jongin snores,” is the thing that comes out of his mouth next, followed by a tiny laugh from Seungsoo.

Jongin stares incredulously, affronted because he is a Prince and Prince’s do not snore. But, he supposes even though Kyungsoo is making fun of him at least he’s being a little normal for once.

“Is that all?” Seungsoo questions, giving Kyungsoo a questioning look.

His fiancé sobers up, his smile fading while he stares at the carpet, tracing some of the lines with his finger.

“Is he nice to you?” Seungsoo asks, trying to get the younger boys attention but Kyungsoo seems absorbed in the endless patterns weaved through the carpet they’re sitting on.

Jongin watches as Kyungsoo eventually gives a tiny nod, a slight smile twitching onto his lips.

“He showed me their library,” he whispers, putting his hand back in his lap and staring at his brother silently. “He treats me nicer than you ever did.”

Jongin unconsciously flinches from the harsh tone, feeling his stomach become uneasy once again when he notices the obvious hurt on Seungsoo’s face.

Immediately Jongin knows he’s overstepped by trying to listen to the conversation. For Kyungsoo to be so open right now must be for a reason and Jongin suddenly feels guilty for listening in.

If the younger boy knew he was there the entire time he would be upset, and as much as Jongin wants to know what exactly Seungsoo is saying to him, he knows it will only make him even madder at the elder for sitting by and doing nothing while Kyungsoo was mistreated back home.

He doesn’t want to hear stupid excuses from him; they will only make him angry so he goes and waits near the stair well, sitting down on the steps and running his hands through his hair.

He has no idea how long he’s been siting there when someone clears their throat. Looking up he spots Seungsoo, his eyes red and eyelids a bit swollen like he’s been crying.

And immediately Jongin stands up, looking at him with concern because regardless of how things turned out, for the longest time they were friends.

“He said he missed me,” Seungsoo croaks out, his voice sounding scratchy and weak.

Jongin doesn’t know what to say, not knowing what it would feel like for Kyungsoo to actually say something like that to his face. He doubts he ever will.

“I treated him horribly, he shouldn’t miss me,” Seungsoo rushes out, his voice cracking as his eyes well up with tears.

Jongin hesitates, not knowing what to do or what to say because Seungsoo is right. The way Kyungsoo was treated by everyone, is not something he should miss.

“You’re his brother,” he states, knowing that regardless of all the mean things his sisters did to him out of fun when he was younger, he still loves them.

Jongin thinks that somewhere deep down, Kyungsoo still loves the elder. That there’s a tiny part of him that subconsciously lets him still love his brother, regardless of what he’s done or how he treated him.

Even if Kyungsoo isn’t aware of it, even if he doesn’t know that he does, Jongin is positive he still cares for his older brother. It’s instinct to want to protect and care for your siblings, it’s not something that has to be learned and Jongin thinks that it’s one of the few things that’s normal about Kyungsoo.

He wasn’t taught that he should be happy or have feelings, he was told how to act and how to behave. No one cared if he was happy, no one care if he was loved or in return if he loved them. But somehow, Jongin thinks Kyungsoo learned something in those few years before he even met either Do Prince.

“I don’t think he will ever forgive me,” Seungsoo states quietly, swallowing thickly and it’s the first thing he’s said that Jongin can understand.

He doesn’t think Kyungsoo will ever forgive him either.

“He likes it here,” Seungsoo speaks up, clearing his throat and straightening himself out. “He says your bed is comfortable.”

Jongin scoffs, shaking his head and feeling his lips twitch into a smile. He knows how comfortable his bed is and he misses it dearly. He’s spent months on a couch because of the younger boy.

“Thank you for taking better care of him,” Seungsoo states before moving to walk towards his father’s study.

Jongin pauses, turning around and grabbing the other Prince’s sleeve before he has a chance to walk away.

Seungsoo stares at him in a questioning manner and there’s so much Jongin wants to say, wants to ask, but he doesn’t know how.

“Are you alright?” he questions instead, not being able to overlook the way Seungsoo has changed. How thin he is, how tired he looks, more importantly the blueish bruise on his wrist.

Seungsoo smiles, right then and there Jongin can see the tiny similarities he and Kyungsoo share, most likely tiny traits they got from their mother.

“I got in trouble when I said I wanted to check on Kyungsoo. But I’ll be fine. Things will get better after the wedding,” Seungsoo states, giving him a pat on the shoulder before sighing. “Could you keep him company while I talk to your father?” he asks and Jongin can only nod numbly, trying hard not to pay attention to the hidden bruises Seungsoo is more than likely sporting.

Jongin sighs, turning around and heading back to the front study where Kyungsoo is still sitting, his knees pulled up to his chest as he picks around his little satchel full of candies.

Clearing his throat he enters the room, watching as Kyungsoo takes notice of him before going back and picking out a candy.

“Can I sit with you?” he questions, standing off to the side and moving closer when Kyungsoo nods his head.

He takes a seat next to the younger boy and then has no idea what to do after that so he sits in silence.

He’s starting to notice all the patterns on the carpet out of boredom when he feels Kyungsoo poke his arm. Startled he looks up, seeing Kyungsoo offering him a piece of candy.

It’s probably the nicest gesture the younger boy has ever done so he takes a piece, although he doesn’t particularly like sweets.

“Thank you,” he mumbles, popping the treat in his mouth and watching as Kyungsoo puts the sack back in front of his legs and takes one piece for himself.

They end up sitting in silence until Seungsoo comes back, when he does Kyungsoo nearly runs over to him, leaving him alone on the floor.

He supposes he should be used to it by now but he’s not, he can feel himself wanting to frown and glare at Seungsoo but he tries his hardest to keep his emotions in check.

“Can I show him the library?” Kyungsoo questions quietly, fidgeting in his spot before going to chew on his nails.

Jongin sighs, nodding his head before going back to stare at the carpet, suddenly realizing how calm it actually makes him. He supposes that’s the reason Kyungsoo does it as well.

When the two take off Jongin realizes Kyungsoo left behind his candy. Biting his lip he reaches over and grabs the sack, opening it up and taking a candy out.

He nearly jumps out of his spot when Kyungsoo comes back into the room, walking over to him and snatching it out of his hands, even taking the piece in his palm before leaving.

With nothing else to do Jongin goes and visits his father, getting overwhelmed by the amount of papers that are piling up on his desk and sneezing at the smell of flowers overtaking the area. He doesn’t understand why his father is planning so much for their wedding.

“Are all these bouquets necessary?” he questions, shaking his head and taking a seat near his father’s desk.

“Your mother wanted to know which arrangements looked nicer, since neither of you care,” his father replies, looking up from his papers and giving him a pointed look.

Jongin shifts uneasily, “Why should I care when Kyungsoo doesn’t?” he grumbles, crossing his arms over his chest and sighing.

“Did you need something?” his father questions, setting his papers down and Jongin sneaks a peek, seeing the floor plan for the castle.

“What are you doing?” he asks instead, wondering why his father would even need to be looking at floor plans when he knows where everything is already.

His father sighs before looking at the parchment, rubbing his chin thoughtfully before replying.

“I’m trying to figure out where to put King and Queen Do when they arrive for the wedding.”

Jongin goes stiff in his seat, wanting to suggest the stables but keeping himself from making the remark. His father would probably scold him.

“Why would they need a room?” he questions, frowning at the thought that they will be spending more time here than necessary. He doesn’t want King Do around Kyungsoo at all, but he knows it can’t be helped at the wedding.

“They will be arriving a day before the ceremony for the rehearsal. I told Kyungsoo to tell you,” his father sighs out, shaking his head before rubbing his temples.

Jongin frowns, “I told you he hates me. I don’t know why you insist on trying to change that by making him talk to me. He obviously doesn’t want to,” he huffs, crossing his arms over his chest and staring at the stupid potted plants in the corner of the room.

His father ignores him, turning the floorplans towards him and asking his opinion on where he should put them.

“The first floor,” he grumbles out, getting a smile from his father before he’s told to go.

With nowhere else to be Jongin decides on a nap, deciding that he should allow himself to actually sleep in his own bed for once.

Laying down on the mattress he smiles, burying his face in his pillows and sighing. Feeling something hard he looks underneath one, spotting Kyungsoo’s book along with several letters sticking out of them. Not wanting to move them he turns and decides to lie on the other side, lifting the pillow just in case and this time seeing nothing. Satisfied enough he shuts his eyes.

He feels like he’s just barely fallen asleep when someone slams his door open loudly. He flinches, looking over and seeing his nephew rushing over to him with wide eyes.

“Hyung is crying!” Joohyuk shouts, tugging on his arm leaving him to groan, closing his eyes and trying to roll over.

“So go give him a hug,” he mumbles, wincing when Joohyuk grabs his hair and tugs.

“No! You!” Joohyuk shouts, tugging on his arm until he sits up and then attempting to pull him out of bed.

But Joohyuk barely even reaches his waist, even if he uses all his strength it barely feels like anything to Jongin.

“Joohyuk I’m tired. You go take care of him,” he grumbles out, yanking his arm away from his nephew and frowning.

Joohyuk would have more luck than anyone else trying to get the boy to stop crying. Jongin only makes things worse and he’s tired of it. He’s tired of trying. He’s tired in general.

“You’re mean!” Joohyuk accuses, his lips wobbling before he starts bawling and Jongin panics, picking the younger boy up and spewing out apology after apology, knowing his sister will skin him alive for hurting Joohyuk’s feelings.

“Stop crying, please, I’ll go, okay?” he whines, rubbing Joohyuk’s back and begrudgingly getting out of bed and walking downstairs with the boy.

“Where is he?” he questions once they’re on the first floor.

Joohyuk sniffles before pointing towards the front study and Jongin rolls his eyes, because of course Kyungsoo would be in there.

He supposes Seungsoo has already left because he fails to see him on his way there. Walking into the hallway he’s surprised to see his father and mother along with Jini and his brother-in-law, a maid sweeping glass shards from the floor.

“What’s going on?” he questions, rushing over and pausing when he hears the distinct sounds of Kyungsoo sobbing from inside the room.

“He’s been crying for two hours,” Jini tells him plainly, looking a little shaken up causing him to set Joohyuk down.

“Why?” he questions, feeling his stomach start to twist with anxiety the longer he hears the boy cry.

“Seungsoo left. He didn’t take it very well,” his father tells him, “Your sister came to check on him and was worried he would hurt himself. I tried to go comfort him but, well, you can see he has quite an arm,” his father sighs out, pointing to the broken glass and frowning.

Jongin gapes, “He threw it at you?” he questions incredulously, not believing Kyungsoo would try and hurt anyone, especially his father.

“In his defense he did tell me to go away,” his father replies.

Jongin stares, feeling his chest start to tighten just looking at how Kyungsoo is curled up by the window, crying so hard his entire body is shaking.

He probably feels abandoned all over again, Jongin thinks, swallowing the lump in his throat before hesitantly walking into the room.

Either Kyungsoo doesn’t notice him or maybe Kyungsoo is ignoring him but he doesn’t get a vase thrown his way and he doesn’t get yelled at to leave.

As slowly as he can he moves to sit across from the boy on the floor, noticing how he’s somehow managing to cry while chewing his nails raw to the point they’re bleeding.

Immediately Jongin forgets about respecting Kyungsoo’s boundaries and reaches over to yank his hands away from his mouth making Kyungsoo flinch harshly, letting out a loud sob as he tries to yank his hand away from his grip.

“You’re hurting yourself!” he all but shouts, feeling horrible when it makes Kyungsoo cry louder.

Jongin is surprised at how strong Kyungsoo actually is despite his small frame and built, he’s trying desperately to get out of his grip and he yells for him to let go, nearly scaring him so bad that he does but the only reason Jongin ends up letting go is because Kyungsoo actually tries to hit him.

He’s so surprised he nearly gets hit in the eye, having to grab both the boy’s arms and then pull him into a tight enough hug that he can’t move his arms but that doesn’t stop him from trying to thrash around and his crying doesn’t let up.

It hurts, Kyungsoo is so thin and boney that it actually hurts to have him squirming around but Jongin keeps his grip on him tight, trying not to freak out because he never thought Kyungsoo would actually try and hurt him.

“You can be sad and cry all you want but you will not hurt yourself,” he states sternly, talking loud enough so that Kyungsoo actually hears him over his crying.

It feels like hours before Kyungsoo tires himself out and goes still in his arms, his breathing fast and shallow.

Jongin loosens his grip slightly and eventually let’s go when Kyungsoo doesn’t move. He sits there lifeless, his eyes red and swollen, his lip bleeding slightly from where he probably bit it at some point.

He looks horrible and Jongin feels ten times worse, feeling his own eyes start to water because he’s too overwhelmed at everything.

“Why can’t you see that I care about you?” he questions, not being able to stop his voice from cracking and he feels absolutely pathetic when he starts crying, wiping his eyes angrily when all Kyungsoo does is stare at him.

“I try and I and try and you just don’t care,” he bites out, “Maybe I should just leave you alone for good!” he all but shouts.

No,” Kyungsoo sobs out, making him flinch when he throws himself at his chest and clings to him.

Jongin doesn’t know what to do, stupefied by the younger boy trying to hug him. He feels sick when he realizes Kyungsoo doesn’t even know how to hug properly.

“Don’t, please,” Kyungsoo says repeatedly, crying onto his shirt and his brain starts working again, his arms wrapping themselves around the younger prince properly.

Jongin swallows thickly, pulling Kyungsoo away from his chest and making him look up.

“You can’t keep ignoring me. You have to let me help, do you understand?” he questions, thumbing away the stray tears on the younger boy’s face.

Kyungsoo nods his head quickly, starting to cry again so he sighs, standing up and lifting him up as well with plans to go to their room so at least Kyungsoo can cry in peace.

When he looks out into the hallway he’s glad to see no one there, his family probably left them alone and he’s thankful. Kyungsoo will probably be a mess for the rest of the day and the next few to follow.

Jongin doesn’t know what exactly is going on in the boy’s head, but he never does. All he knows is that Seungsoo coming and then leaving affected him way worse than he thought it would. Jongin expected him to be angry with his brother and ignore him the entire time. He didn’t expect him to have some sort of tantrum or breakdown.

Sighing he sets Kyungsoo down on the bed, trying to move away but the boy is clinging to him so he has no choice but to sit with him until he falls asleep.

If this is how Kyungsoo reacts to someone he likes visiting, Jongin is dreading the day King Do actually shows up.

Chapter Text

The castle is always cold. Seungsoo supposes he should be used to it by now, having spent his entire life here, but he honestly isn’t. He’s never like the cold. He hates the way the castle is drafty even in the summer months.

Walking towards the library he looks over his shoulder out of habit, having been paranoid since he got back from the Kim’s.

His son is sleeping along with his wife so it’s one of the few times he doesn’t feel guilty leaving the room to tend to his own business.

Once he reaches the giant wooden doors he reaches for the handle, opening them up and then slipping inside.

His father had taken the giant rusty chain off the doors the day after Kyungsoo left and Seungsoo tries not to think about that right now as he heads to the second floor to sit at his favorite desk that looks out towards the courtyard.

Sitting in his chair he grabs a piece of parchment, taking the quill from his ink and then starting to write his letter.

It needs to be sent out soon, before the wedding.

Sighing he stops, moving to rub his wrist and wincing. Looking down he notices his bruise is starting to fade, no longer an ugly blue but still looking a bit green. Frowning he opens up the drawers on the desk, staring at all the hidden letters inside of it.

Hearing the library doors open he immediately shuts it closed, stuffing his letter in there as well before rushing to grab a book and opening it up.

When he hears whoever entered arrive at the second floor he looks over, relaxing when he sees it’s just a maid.

“Your father requested your presence in the throne room, your highness,” she speaks, keeping her head down and bowing when he waves her off.

Seungsoo looks at the book he’s holding and grows confused at the writing in the margins, not recognizing it. Flipping through the pages he notices the initials written at the back and he takes a deep breath.

He recognizes the initials immediately, so he ignores the fact that his father is waiting for him and he will more than likely get in trouble for it and he sits, skimming through the notes and realizing how smart Kyungsoo’s father was.

From the few memories Seungsoo has of him he always remembers he was in the library. He doesn’t think he ever saw him anywhere else.

Once he’s deemed it long enough to piss off his father but not long enough to get beaten because of it he gets up and heads to the throne room, keeping the book in his pocket.

He listens for over an hour to his father speak of things that won’t matter soon and he pretends to be interested. He gives his input and takes the insults and then he heads back to his room.

Upon entering he notices his wife and son are up, the boy lying down on a blanket on the floor, staring up at the curtains with wide eyes. He coughs occasionally until his wife picks him up, patting his back before taking notice of him.

“How was your nap?” he questions, moving to sit next to his wife and smiling at his son before he takes the book from earlier out of his pocket and continues reading.

“It was fine,” his wife replies cheerfully, eyeing him for a while before curiosity gets the best of her.

“Whose handwriting is that?” she questions, continuing to pat Minjoon’s back.

Seungsoo smiles slightly, flipping his page before looking up.

“My uncle’s.”

Chapter Text

Kyungsoo stares long and hard at the bedroom door. He doesn’t blink, just stares and stares.

He hasn’t left the room in over a week. He refuses to. So he just stares at the door. It’s a nice door, he decides, it’s made of cherry wood and carved patterns are on it. There’s blue paint along some of the lining.

Jongin told him he should try and at least go down the hallway today, but instead he continues to stare at the door.

He moves to bite on his nails but stops, looking down and noticing there really isn’t anything to bite on his right hand. His fingers are still healing, they’re still bright red from where he bit through the skin.

Upset he looks away, setting his hands back in his lap and then looking back at the door.

His stomach growls and he shifts in his seat on the floor, wondering if Jongin will be up with his lunch soon.

Kyungsoo would go to the kitchen and ask for food himself, but he’s scared. He doesn’t want to get in trouble and even though Jongin said King Kim wasn’t mad at him, Kyungsoo finds that hard to believe.

Hearing the door unlock he flinches, looking up and seeing his fiancé with a tray of food.

“You’re still on the floor,” Jongin states and Kyungsoo shifts, not knowing what to say in return.

Kyungsoo eyes the tray, feeling his stomach leap when he sees his favorite foods.

“You should at least sit by the window. At least then you get some sunshine,” Jongin mumbles, staring down at the younger boy who completely disregards him to start stuffing his face.

Jongin snorts in amusement. It’s good to know that the boy has an appetite now since he didn’t the two or three days after his incident, but he would much rather have him eat downstairs with everyone.

“Do you want to try and eat dinner downstairs later?” he questions, moving to sit in front of Kyungsoo who is stuffing a spoonful of potatoes in his mouth.

Kyungsoo chews his food, his cheeks puffing out a bit from the amount he just stuffed in his mouth and Jongin tries not to laugh and compare him to a chipmunk. He doubts Kyungsoo would see the humor.

When he’s done chewing he takes a sip of his water, setting his cup down before shaking his head.

“Maybe tomorrow,” he replies quietly, grabbing his fork and starting to eat his vegetables.

Jongin sighs, deflating a little bit at the reply.

“You said that yesterday,” he states, watching as Kyungsoo takes a bite of his steak. “And the day before that.”

When Kyungsoo ignores him to continue eating he sighs again, running his hands through his hair and snapping his fingers in front of the younger boy to gain his attention. It causes Kyungsoo to flinch harshly, looking up at him with wide eyes.

“Sorry,” he apologizes, realizing it’s probably better not to scare him, even if it’s accidentally. “But you aren’t paying attention to anything I’m trying to say.”

Kyungsoo eyes him before looking down at his food.

“I am,” Kyungsoo mutters before grabbing his piece of bread and taking a chunk off the roll.

Jongin of course is surprised, but Kyungsoo has been surprising him a lot lately. Although Kyungsoo pretty much cried on and off for three days straight after Seungsoo left, once he was done crying he started actually replying to him.

Of course his replies are not very long or elaborate but, he gets one every time he asks Kyungsoo a question now. It honestly is a little hard to get used to, but it’s not unwelcomed.

However, he wishes Kyungsoo would actually at least try to leave the room. He has said every day for almost a week, “maybe tomorrow,” but every time Jongin comes back to the room Kyungsoo is in the same spot, staring at the door.

“You can’t just stay in the room for the rest of your life,” he comments exasperatedly, pinching the bridge of his nose.

Kyungsoo takes a sip of his water before sparing him a tiny glance. He isn’t glaring which is a good sign but he doesn’t look happy either. Although, Kyungsoo’s version of happy and a normal persons version are completely different. Jongin still isn’t sure what Kyungsoo’s version looks like.

“We could go visit Joohyuk,” he suggests, knowing his nephew has been whining to see Kyungsoo.

This seems to gain Kyungsoo’s real attention, his lips quirking near the edges.

“He drew you a picture,” he adds on, not sure if he actually did but if it motivates him to leave the room a little white lie won’t hurt.

Jongin watches as he chews his food until he’s done, leaning forward to hear his answer.

“No.”

Jongin deflates, staring at Kyungsoo who starts picking at his food silently.

“Kyungsoo you need to leave the room! This is getting ridiculous!” he huffs, trying to keep his voice down so he doesn’t upset the boy but he doubts it’s working when Kyungsoo refuses to look up at him.

“You can’t just sit here all day you have to get up and will you at least look at me when you ignore me?” he all but snaps, instantly regretting it when Kyungsoo does look up at him and he’s teary eyed.

“Wait, no, don’t cry! I didn’t mean to yell!” he rushes out, reaching over awkwardly and patting the boy on the head.

He’s still not completely comfortable with initiation any kind of contact with Kyungsoo without asking first, but the younger boy seems to be okay with small gestures. Although, he has to make sure Kyungsoo is aware it’s happening otherwise he freaks out.

“No crying, I’m sorry,” he apologizes, removing his hand and putting it back in his lap.

Kyungsoo follows it with his eyes, frowning slightly so Jongin looks down, realizing he’s probably starting at his fingernail that has been messed up ever since Kai bit it.

“My horse bit me,” he explains, showing it off while shrugging. “He was having a bad day and I don’t know, he’s a horse, so he bit me,” he mumbles.

When Kyungsoo doesn’t say anything he frowns, tilting his head curiously as his fiancé just stares blankly.

“Have you ever ridden a horse?” he asks, knowing the answer is probably no.

He ends up being correct, Kyungsoo shaking his head while looking down at the carpet.

“Have you ever pet one?” he asks some more, frowning when Kyungsoo quickly shakes his head.

“You do know what a horse looks like, don’t you?” he questions worriedly, sighing in relief when Kyungsoo nods his head to that.

Pursing his lips he looks down at the food tray, most of Kyungsoo’s lunch has been eaten so he assumes he’s full.

“I’m going to take this down to the kitchen,” he states, picking the tray up and watching as Kyungsoo sighs before going to sit near the window.

Heading to the kitchen he lets his thoughts wander. Of course it shouldn’t be surprising to Jongin that Kyungsoo’s never been near a horse, but he doesn’t think he will ever get used to the idea that Kyungsoo was never allowed outside. He didn’t get to experience a whole lot of things that he did. Even simple ones like picking dandelions.

Sighing he walks into the kitchen, bowing to the chefs and maids before setting the tray near the kitchen sink.

Once he leaves he smiles, spotting his sister down the hallway.

“Noona!” he calls out, rushing the rest of the way when Jinhee stops, turning around and smiling towards him.

“Yes?” she questions, looking at him patiently.

“Is Rahee asleep?” he asks, walking with her to wherever she’s going. She’s been so busy taking care of his little niece that he rarely gets to see her if it’s not at the dinner table.

“She’s resting yes,” Jinhee replies, sparing him a glance. “How is Kyungsoo?”

Jongin stumbles a little, regaining his composure before rubbing the back of his neck.

“He’s….better,” is what he settles with, never knowing how to reply to these sort of questions.

“That’s good,” she tells him and he can only nod his head.

“Are there any foals?” he blurts, having an idea but knowing it isn’t the best one. But at least it’s something.

“I beg your pardon?” Jinhee laughs out, stopping to stare at him with an amused smile.

“Particularly newborns but I suppose any would do. Although, do you think we could get one in the castle?” he rushes out, bringing his finger onto his lips to think.

“Jongin, you know we can’t bring a horse inside the castle,” Jinhee laughs, shaking her head.

“But Kyungsoo’s never seen one up close and he still thinks he’s not allowed outside. He won’t even leave the bedroom,” Jongin explains, rubbing his face tiredly.

Jinhee stares at her brother, a knowing smile blossoming on her face as she watches him think.

“One of the dogs had a litter of pups not too long ago,” she states, giving him a pat on the shoulder before walking away.

Jongin’s eyes immediately light up, “Thank you noona!” he calls out before rushing towards the back exit of the castle and walking towards the small barn they have out back next to the stables.

It’s not the best place to go when it’s so hot outside but Jongin ignores the heat and the funny smell to look around.

“Can I help you, your highness?” a stable boy questions, bowing before looking at him in confusion.

The barn isn’t the first place anyone would expect to see a prince but Jongin’s never cared about this. He’s always liked to be outside despite the fact that he should technically not be in such places where the livestock live.

“My sister said there were puppies,” he states, blushing slightly when he realizes he sounds like a child.

“They’re out running, but, the runt stayed behind,” the stable boy replies, ushering him to follow him towards the back.

He looks around, seeing a lot of dairy cows and a couple of sheep. He’s never liked sheep, they were always mean to him when he was younger.

“Here he is,” the stable boy states snapping him out of his thoughts.

Looking down Jongin sees a tiny puppy lying down on a patch of hay. He’s no doubt the runt, considering how small he is. Usually they don’t even bother training the runts until they’re older, so it’s perfect.

“Can I take him?” he questions, looking over and getting an eager nod.

Smiling Jongin leans down and picks him up, waking the puppy up who looks at him and immediately starts wagging its tail and pawing at his hands.

Once he’s done he goes back into the castle, walking back up to his and Kyungsoo’s shared room. He makes sure to knock before opening the door and peeking his head in.

Kyungsoo is still by the window, folding a piece a paper into a crane. There’s a couple sitting near his feet already completed.

Hesitantly he walks over, clearing his throat gaining Kyungsoo’s attention. His eyes widen to an incredibly large size, his legs coming up to his chest.

“Have you ever seen a puppy?” he questions, sitting down slowly and making sure to keep the puppy in his hands for the time being.

Kyungsoo shakes his head frantically before backing up until he’s in the corner of the room, looking beyond terrified causing him to frown. It’s just a puppy. He’s not even that big either.

“He won’t hurt you. He’s just a baby,” he tries to reason, looking down at the puppy and wondering how Kyungsoo can even find him scary.

With a sigh he sets the puppy down, watching as he wobbles a little before exploring. Jongin notices Kyungsoo sneaking a peek at him, curling in on himself when the dog notices him and starts sniffing.

“He likes you!” he chirps when the puppy lies down next to his fiancé.

Jongin watches as Kyungsoo tries to scoot away, but the dog follows him every time he moves. Eventually Kyungsoo huffs, staring down at the dog and then hesitantly moving to touch him.

It’s not even a proper way to pet a dog, rather, Kyungsoo just pokes him before retreating his hand back into his lap quickly.

“I’m going to go downstairs,” he voices, standing up and watching as Kyungsoo looks at him incredulously, his eyes nearly bulging out of his head. “What?” he questions, knowing very well that Kyungsoo doesn’t want to be left alone with a foreign animal.

But that’s the point. Either Kyungsoo will finally leave the room or he’ll bond with the puppy. Both are pretty good outcomes.

“I’ll be back in a little while,” he states, smiling at Kyungsoo who gives him a little glare before looking back at the puppy. “Unless you want to come with me?”

No,” Kyungsoo states sternly, huffing a little before staring at the puppy who is trying to lie down comfortably.

“Well then I will be back later. Have fun. Give him a name or something,” he suggests, shrugging before walking out of the room, leaving the door open a crack to see what Kyungsoo does.

He just stares at the puppy before eventually poking its head again, making a face when the dog tries to lick his hand that lingers near him.

When he doesn't start crying or freaking out Jongin decides he can afford to take a walk around the castle.

Chapter Text

Jongin decides that the dog, was a very bad idea. It’s not like he hates dogs, in fact he loves them, it’s just this particular dog is highly overprotective of his new owner.

If Jongin even tries to get near Kyungsoo the puppy yaps at him, one time he even growled. It’s been over a month since he gave the dog to Kyungsoo and slowly but surely Kyungsoo grew to like him. Now he’s actually started leaving the room, but only if the puppy is with him. So Jongin can’t even get mad at the animal.

Kyungsoo seems to really like the dog, although Jongin is almost positive he hasn’t named him yet. But, they go everywhere together. Even at the dinner table the dog is always sitting near Kyungsoo’s chair or in his lap.

Of course his sisters and parents were a little weirded out by it, since having an animal at the dinner table is highly unusual, but Joohyuk was of course excited and Kyungsoo was actually sitting with them again so no one has said anything.

Jongin really doesn’t mind that Kyungsoo has grown severely attached to the little puppy, it’s just that he is severely attached, meaning Jongin barely gets any attention from Kyungsoo now.

Kyungsoo will give him an answer if he asks a question, but it doesn’t go beyond that. Kyungsoo is more focused on his nameless pet.

It’s honestly weird for Jongin to see Kyungsoo coddle the puppy, constantly petting and smiling while praising the pup if he does something worth getting excited about. Jongin really didn’t understand how Kyungsoo knew to train the thing, but then, he realized that there were several books sitting on their nightstand about animals, dogs in particular.

Hesitantly Jongin enters their room, looking around for the tiny puppy and failing to spot him. With a sigh of relief he walks in, heading towards his dresser when he hears little pitter patter on the floor and he immediately freezes as he turns around, seeing the dog staring him down.

“This is my room you know,” he tells the puppy, getting barked at. The dog rushes up to him and paws at his feet, growling a little before wagging his tail.

He isn’t a mean dog, but he obviously has favorites.

“Where’s Kyungsoo?” he questions, picking the dog up and walking over towards the door to peek his head out.

He looks left and then right, frowning when he still fails to see his fiancé. Usually he and the dog are attached to each other all day, so this is unusual.

When the dog whines he sets him down on the floor, following after him as he starts to strut his way down the hall.

Jongin really doubts the puppy knows where he’s going but he follows him anyways, just to see where he’ll end up.

Eventually they make it to the stairs and then the puppy stops, sniffing the floor before whining, going around in circles on the floor.

“Don’t tell me you don’t know how to go down the stairs,” he states incredulously, watching as the puppy whines and his tail gets tucked in-between his legs.

Jongin shakes his head, picking the puppy up and then walking down the stairs with him. Once he’s reached the bottom he sets him back down, chasing after him when he starts to run.

He has to pick up his pace to keep up with the pup but eventually he’s led towards a random room where Kyungsoo is sitting on the floor, staring at a piece of paper.

The dog barks before rushing over to his owner, wagging his tail excitedly leaving Jongin to awkwardly walk into the room after him.

“Hello,” he greets, hesitantly he moves to sit in front of his fiancé when the puppy doesn’t bark at him.

Kyungsoo spares him a glance before looking back at the paper in his hands, clearing his throat a little before moving to give it to him.

Jongin of course takes it, although he’s a bit surprised that Kyungsoo is handing him anything, when he looks down and reads it, it makes sense.

“Oh. It’s our wedding invitation,” he states plainly, reading over the print on the page and paling. “We’re getting married in three weeks.”

Immediately his stomach drops, an uncomfortable feeling washing over him because he didn’t even realize the wedding was that soon. Summer has gone by so fast that he had not even noticed how it’s starting to cool down outside or how the sun has been starting to set a tad bit earlier.

Jongin knew it was happening sooner than planned, but three weeks is far too soon for him. He needs more time.

“Are you mad?” Kyungsoo questions quietly causing him to snap out of it, forcing a smile on his face he shakes his head.

“No. I’m happy. We’re getting married. Of course I’m happy,” he rushes out, smiling while handing the invitation back.

Kyungsoo takes the invitation, but not without making a face.

“You aren’t,” Kyungsoo mutters, folding the invitation back up and then placing it in the envelope it probably came with. Who knows how Kyungsoo got ahold of one.

Jongin frowns, “Have you ever been to a wedding?” he questions, wanting to change the subject quickly from whether or not he’s happy.

Kyungsoo blinks before shrugging his shoulders. “Seungsoo’s,” he mutters, moving to bite on his nails.

“So you know how they work right?” he asks, watching as Kyungsoo shakes his head.

“I didn’t pay attention.”

Jongin should have expected just as much. If he recalls correctly Kyungsoo was off to the side the entire time at Seungsoo’s wedding. He was probably focusing on staying quiet rather than the ceremony.

And then suddenly it hits Jongin that if Kyungsoo has no idea how the ceremony works, he probably has no clue about the fact that it’s tradition to kiss.

Jongin immediately grows uncomfortable. How on earth is he supposed to kiss Kyungsoo when the boy won’t even let him hold his hand?

“Have you named your dog?” he questions to take his mind off all things to do with the wedding.

Kyungsoo shakes his head, looking down at the puppy with a frown.

“I don’t know how.”

Jongin frowns, rubbing his forehead. “Well, you just think of a name and then call him that,” he tries to explain.

Kyungsoo only seems more confused, shifting in his seat while anxiously pulling at his shirt.

“I don’t know any names.”

Jongin sighs, reaching over to give his fiancé a tiny pat on the shoulder.

“It’s okay. You don’t have to name him right away. You can think of one later,” he suggests, giving Kyungsoo a smile and getting a nod in return.

“Okay,” Kyungsoo mumbles, picking his puppy up and hugging onto him.

“I named my horse after a character in a book,” he replies, shrugging his shoulders while looking at the puppy lick at Kyungsoo’s hands. “Maybe you can name him after something you read.”

Kyungsoo nods his head, muttering something under his breath before getting up.

“He has to go use the restroom outside now,” Kyungsoo mumbles before awkwardly leaving the room.

Jongin sighs, rubbing his face before getting up off the floor with plans on going back upstairs to their room.

He knows Kyungsoo doesn’t actually go outside with the puppy, he just stands near the door while one of the guards helps take the dog to a place where he can do his business and then brings him back.

It works, but Jongin does wish Kyungsoo would go outside with the puppy but he knows they’re far from getting Kyungsoo outdoors.

For now he lets Kyungsoo worry about naming his puppy.

Chapter Text

Today Kyungsoo is getting fitted for his suit. The seamstress is measuring him and he doesn’t like it. In fact he hates it, but Jongin is standing right there so he can’t even leave otherwise his fiancé will just bring him back and have him finish being measured.

Sighing he lifts his arm like he’s instructed to, looking down at his puppy who is sleeping at his feet.

The seamstress almost steps on him every now and then and he glares, annoyed with the entire ordeal.

He doesn’t like being touched by some stranger and he certainly doesn’t like how she keeps forgetting his puppy is there.

Since their wedding is in nearly two weeks there is a lot of prepping going on around the castle. Everything is being cleaned and shined, the walls are getting a fresh new coat of paint and Kyungsoo has been getting poked and prodded at all week long.

First they made him cut his hair, which he hated. They keep giving him all these weird foods to eat and no one leaves him alone.

He’s tired, having been woken up too early by some of the workers washing their windows. Kyungsoo hasn’t been sleeping well, a looming feeling in his gut because as each night passes they’re one day closer to their wedding.

Kyungsoo knows it was what he asked for, but knowing that he is going to see his father again, he can’t help but wish he never opened his mouth. Talking always gets you into trouble, is what he remembers being told as a child.

He knows that it will be only for two days and then he never has to see him again, but two days is an eternity when dealing with his father and he fears for his arms, knowing they will be bruised if he messes up or stutters during the rehearsal or the ceremony.

He’s been spoiled being here because he hasn’t been hit once. That only means his father’s hits will feel ten times worse and Kyungsoo’s stomach gives an uneasy churn.

“I don’t feel well,” he mutters, putting his arm down and moving to sit.

His stomach lurches painfully, making him curl in on himself. His puppy whines from his spot near his feet, pawing at his pants.

“We can continue this tomorrow,” he hears Jongin tell the seamstress before he feels someone rub his arm.

“Kyungsoo? Are you okay?” Jongin questions so he peeks his eyes open, seeing the elder is looking at him worriedly.

It makes him feel even worse, because he doesn’t want to worry Prince Jongin. Jongin should be getting his own measurements done, not sitting on the floor with him because he’s some broken little thing.

So Kyungsoo wants to lie and tell him he’s fine and to go away but when Jongin pulls him into his lap, it reminds him of his mother. And Kyungsoo misses her so, so much.

He misses her hugs and how she would play with his hair when he was a child. She would always hug him when he got to be with her, which wasn’t that much. She smelt like flowers and was always warm despite the cold temperature throughout the entire castle.

He thinks he felt happy when he was with her, he would always find himself smiling and feeling warm and comforted.

When she stopped he thought he did something wrong, he didn’t understand at first. But now that he’s older he knows it was because of his father. He isn’t the only one that ever got hit.

Prince Jongin doesn’t smell like his mother, he isn’t as soft but the feeling is similar. It lulls him into a sleepy state and before he knows it he’s falling asleep.

When he wakes up he isn’t sure where he is. Slowly he blinks his eyes open, looking around and seeing he’s on Prince Jongin’s bed, but he’s still in the elders lap.

He instantly feels uncomfortable and dirty, getting away as quickly as he can before sitting and looking around in confusion. He remembers not feeling well and then falling asleep, but he doesn’t recall being in their bedroom.

Worried, he starts to bite on his nails, looking around for his puppy and growing anxious when he fails to spot him.

Immediately he gets off the bed, looking around the room frantically. He picks up pillows and checks under the bed, even checking the closet and the restroom and when he fails to find him he rushes out of the room.

The hallway is a little dark, so it must be close to sunset, but he checks every room and every nook and cranny before going down the stairs, feeling his hands shake once he realizes its raining outside.

Not knowing where to go or who to ask he rushes towards the front doors, knowing that where he takes his puppy to use the restroom that’s usually where he ends up giving him to a guard. The guards near the front door are nice to him, they never glare or tell him to go away.

Arriving at the front of the castle he’s surprised to see the doors wide open, the sound of thunder making him flinch harshly. Confused he inches closer to the door, seeing the stable boys rushing animals to the stables and barn.

Hearing a bark his heart stops, his eyes scanning the area and he nearly cries when he sees his puppy outside in the rain, chasing after a rabbit.

Looking around Kyungsoo fails to spot someone to go get him, and the longer he waits the further away his puppy becomes.

Hesitantly he starts to walk towards the doors, feeling a light mist from the rain start to hit his face making him flinch. He stops, seeing how close he is to the outside scares him, but his puppy is getting closer to the fencing around the castle so he walks forward quickly, arriving on the steps and then stepping forward and onto the grass.

Immediately he’s being pelted down by rain and he can’t breathe, his chest feeling tight and his whole body going rigid because he’s never felt the rain before. It immediately soaks through his clothes and it’s cold.

He can’t find himself able to move for a good while before he hears another bark and then he starts to move quickly, looking straight at his puppy and trying to ignore all the noises and sensations he’s feeling right now.

It’s all too much and he wants to just shut down, curl in on himself and cry but he needs his puppy.

So he keeps walking and when he’s close enough to the dog he yells as loud as he can, immediately gaining the animal’s attention and his puppy comes running to him.

Kyungsoo finally cries, picking him up and kneeling down on the ground, starting to shake from the cold.

“You can’t leave me,” he cries into his wet fur, letting his puppy lick at his face as he holds onto him.

Looking up Kyungsoo grows lightheaded, seeing how far away the castle is. Everything is too harsh, the rain pelting down on him and the feel of the grass on his feet. It all hurts and he can’t move.

He knows he needs to but he can’t.

So he sits there in the rain, shivering harshly and fighting to keep his eyes open. The water is blurring his vision as he waits for someone to find him.

He whimpers every time he hears thunder and all he can do is squeeze his eyes shut when he sees the sky flash with bright lights.

When he hears a howl he snaps out of it, immediately standing up and rushing towards the castle doors as fast as he can. He knows for a fact stories with wolves in them never end well.

By the time he makes it to the front steps his legs feel stiff and he nearly falls as he walks up the steps and back into the castle.

He’s dripping wet and so is his puppy, his fur dark with water and he’s quietly whining. Kyungsoo looks around, failing to spot a maid he starts to walk towards the front study where he knows there’s a fireplace.

Shivering he goes and sits in front of the fireplace, setting the puppy down near it and then looking around for something to dry him off before he gets sick. He’ll feel horrible if his puppy got sick.

When he looks down he sees him start to walk around, shaking himself causing droplets of water to land on him and hit his face.

“Are you okay?” he questions, watching as the puppy starts wagging his tail and pawing at his clothes, even going so far as to lick at his feet.

Kyungsoo smiles, scooting closer to the fire to try and get warm. He can’t go upstairs to change. Prince Jongin will see him and know he’s been outside and then he’ll get in trouble.

He doesn’t want to get in trouble, so he sits and waits, shivering every now and then as the warmth from the fire contrasts harshly with how cold he feels.

Everything feels cold. His hands, his feet, down to his bones he feels cold. Even when his clothes manage to dry he can’t shake the cold off.

By the time dinner rolls around he feels sick, wanting to shiver but trying to keep his body under control so no one notices anything. He’s already too much of a burden, he doesn’t want to be an even bigger one.

Sitting in his chair he keeps his head down, not wanting to be looked at just in case they can tell. He still doesn’t feel like he should be eating at the table, since he never got punished for throwing a vase at King Kim.

He eats his food quietly, trying to keep his hands from shaking as he uses his fork. Occasionally he will drop some food but luckily it looks like he’s doing it on purpose to feed his puppy.

Once he manages to eat enough to make it look like he’s full he excuses himself, feeling on the verge of passing out as he walks up the stairs with his puppy in his arms.

He feels sick, his stomach hurting from trying to suppress the shivering his body wants to do and his legs and arms feel heavy.

Entering his and Jongin’s room he unfortunately finds his fiancé sitting on the floor with a book in his hands, brows furrowed as he reads.

When Jongin hears him he looks up and smiles.

“Did you enjoy dinner?” Prince Jongin questions, looking at him expectantly and Kyungsoo wants to say that no, he didn’t but he nods his head instead, moving to sit on the floor before his legs fail him and he falls.

“With the wedding coming up I thought we could, um, talk about the ceremony,” Prince Jongin states, setting his book down while it’s still open and pointing to a passage.

“You have to memorize this. They’re traditional vows. Although, you can write your own if you want, but…,” Prince Jongin trails off so he looks down at the book, his vision a little blurry.

He can’t even read it.

“Anyway, have you named him yet?” Prince Jongin asks, pointing towards his puppy who is sniffing the book on the floor while wagging his tail.

Kyungsoo shrugs, still not knowing what to call him. He isn’t used to being told to do things like this. It seems like too important of a task to give him so he hasn’t thought much of it.

“Oh. Well, take your time. But about the ceremony,” his fiancé changes the subject causing him to sigh, looking down at the book and picking it up.

Everything looks blurry to him so he ends up closing it, looking at the front cover and moving his finger over the indention of the book title.

“Are you listening to me?” Prince Jongin questions loudly, making him flinch.

Looking up he sees his fiancé eyeing him, a frown on his lips and his brows furrowed.

Kyungsoo swallows thickly, clearing his throat before replying.

“No, your highness,” he mumbles, looking down at his book and inching in on himself, trying hard not to start coughing and shivering like his body wants.

“I know you don’t care but the least you could do is pay attention when I’m trying to explain things to you!” Jongin scolds making him nervous.

Sparing his fiancé a glance he finds that Prince Jongin doesn’t look mad, instead there’s this other look on his face that Kyungsoo doesn’t understand. Kyungsoo isn’t used to people looking at him without being angry or void of any emotion at all.

It’s hard trying to figure out what the Kim’s are thinking about him when he can’t always distinguish the faces they’re making.

He knows frowns and glares are bad. If someone smiles at him he knows they might be happy, or maybe they’re just being polite.

But Prince Jongin is doing neither of those things. He’s staring at him, but he isn’t frowning or glaring, but still, he doesn’t look happy.

“This isn’t just your wedding. Do you even realize that?” Jongin questions sternly.

Kyungsoo stays quiet, not knowing what to even say. He doesn’t like to think of the wedding. In fact, most of the time he pretends he’s not here to marry Jongin. He knows the minute the reality sets in he won’t know how to cope with it.

When Seungsoo left him he let himself realize that this was the reality of the situation. He’s going to be forced to marry someone. No one cares whether or not he even wants it. The point is he's going to be given away like livestock.

He’s just never let himself have an opinion on it. Back home he wasn’t even allowed to. But being here at the Kim’s, spending time with them and being around his fiancé, Kyungsoo knows that it’s real.

His father truly despise him and the Kim’s pity him to the point that they agreed to it. He’s nothing but a burden to them all, especially Jongin.

Jongin has never wanted to marry him. From the day he found out to now. Kyungsoo may not be smart but he isn’t dumb either.

Out of all the Kim’s, Jongin pities him the most. Agreeing to marry him, the defective Do Prince, instead of someone he likes or someone better than him.

Kyungsoo can’t even let himself try and be happy that one day soon he will no longer have the burden of carrying the Do name, because Prince Jongin and his family are only doing this all out of pity.

So yes, he does know this isn’t only his wedding, but Prince Jongin’s as well. So he’s kept his mouth shut, knowing it’s not something his fiancé even wants. He's let him make all the decisions because of it. He's already getting stuck with him, he doesn't want Jongin to get stuck with anything else he doesn't like.

He just tries his hardest to ignore it, because if he doesn't, he won't be able to force himself to not run away from it all.

“I’m going to go eat dinner. Goodnight,” his fiancé eventually grumbles out, walking out of the room and closing the door a little louder than necessary.

Kyungsoo then allows himself to start coughing, feeling the back of his throat start to ache he grabs the book and crawls towards the bed. He has to drag himself into it and get under the covers, setting his puppy next to him and curling in on himself and shivering harshly.

Yawning he opens the book, flipping to the page and reading the vows he needs to memorize over and over again until he’s lulled to sleep.

Chapter Text

It’s hot, is the first thing Kyungsoo thinks when he wakes up. He feels sweaty and his entire body feels sore. It’s a similar feeling to the one he had the morning after his father first beat him. Everything hurt, down to his bones he ached.

Its similar, except this time he’s hot. So incredibly hot he can feel himself drenched in sweat.

Moving to sit up he winces, his body feeling heavy and achy as he manages to it upright. Looking around his vision is a little blurry so he goes to rub his eyes, even that task taking too much effort than it normally should.

Groaning he moves to wipe his forehead, feeling his hair is wet. He feels so hot but so cold at the same time, his clothes damp and entire body aching while a chill goes down his spine.

Looking over at the couch he sees his fiancé isn’t in the room, probably already awake and eating breakfast. He doesn’t know what time it is, but the sun is shining brightly in the room hurting his eyes and making his head pound.

Using all his strength he moves his legs over to the side of the bed, taking several deep breaths to fight off the pain before moving to stand.

His body betrays him and he stumbles a little, having to balance himself on the nightstand before he pushes himself off and stumbles to the restroom.

There’s a bath already drawn but Kyungsoo knows if he gets in the tub he won’t be able to get out. So instead he grabs a cloth, wetting it and cleaning himself as best he can, getting rid of the sweat and trying hard to make his hair looks presentable before he gets out and changes.

He puts on the first clothes he can find, the shirt probably belonging to Prince Jongin because it drowns him, but his arms ache and he can’t find it in himself to change.

With a deep breath he manages to get himself out of the room, having to hold the wall for balance because the hallway is spinning at one point.

Groaning he stops, resting his head against the wall and fighting with himself to keep going.

He needs to do so much today. Jongin said he has to finish getting his suit tailored today. He also needs to go over the ceremony with the coordinator of sorts.

He can’t be sick.

So he pushes himself off the wall, straining as he slowly walks down the stairs, stumbling at one point before regaining his balance and it’s a miracle when he finally makes it to the last step.

However he stumbles as he tries to get to the ground floor, falling forward but luckily, someone catches him.

Kyungsoo flinches at the contact, looking up and immediately recoiling when he sees Princess Jinhee’s husband.

Prince Dongwan terrifies him, the uniform, the sword, his always serious expression are the farthest thing from friendly. It doesn’t help that the other Prince rarely talks and when he does it scares him.

His voice is deep and although he’s heard him talk sweetly to his wife, Kyungsoo doesn’t like it.

It reminds him of his father.

“Are you alright?” Prince Dongwan questions him, probably more out of formality than anything. The other prince has never talked to him directly.

He’s nothing like Prince Junyoung who sometimes tries talking to him when he’s with Joohyuk.

Kyungsoo inches away from him, standing up straight and trying to keep the shaking in his hands under control.

“I’m fine,” he mutters, keeping his head down and moving to walk away but the older male grabs his arm causing him to stop.

“If you’re sick you should be in bed,” Prince Dongwan states plainly, letting go of his arm when he tugs himself out of his grip.

Kyungsoo ignores him, walking towards the ballroom where he was told to meet Jongin today after breakfast. He supposes he’s late because when he walks in he fails to spot his fiancé.

Rubbing his forehead he looks around, wincing at all the loud noises of people setting up things. He sees chairs and a wooden archway near the alter, he doesn’t see Jongin.

“Prince Kyungsoo!” he hears someone chirp loudly making his head pound.

Looking around Kyungsoo sees a short man, spectacles resting on his nose and a piece of parchment in his hands. Kyungsoo assumes he’s the one helping set everything up.

“Your fiancé already left, your highness,” the man states, giving him a bow Kyungsoo ignores.

“He um, got impatient waiting and asked that I go everything with you,” he adds on causing Kyungsoo to sigh, nodding his head and following after the stout man as he starts blabbering.

Kyungsoo tries his hardest to pay attention, trying to remember where to stand and when to move but with the intense heat he feels throughout his body, it’s hard.

He does his best but he can see the impatient looks the man tries to hide every time he gets something wrong.

Kyungsoo knows he’s sick and he should probably be in bed, like Prince Dongwan said, but he knows it will only set them back further with the wedding. He only has so much time to memorize everything and learn when to speak and when to move, he can’t afford to be in bed at all this week.

“After your vows you two will exchange rings, of course, its tradition after you’re announced to kiss,” the man states causing Kyungsoo to actually stumble, falling over his own two feet and landing harshly on his butt.

“Oh goodness!” the planner squawks, moving to help him but he swats his hands away, glaring at the older man before forcing himself to stand up.

“Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” he bites out, glaring before impatiently telling the man to get on with the rest of it.

The planner does but not without sending him worried glances every now and then. It takes about an hour until he’s done talking and by then Kyungsoo feels like he might pass out so he takes a seat at one of the random chairs and puts his head down.

His shirt feels damp and his hair is dripping onto his pants. He feels cold, but his body is sweating profusely and he knows it means he probably has a fever.

He hasn’t eaten all day, let alone had anything to drink and he can feel the edges of his vision start to blur as he gets up to head to the kitchen.

He’ll drink some water and feel better afterwards, he decides, panting as he walks across the castle.

Once he makes it to the dining room he’s surprised to see Prince Jongin at the table, eating what looks like lunch while reading over something.

As quietly as possible Kyungsoo tries to sneak pass him, knowing Prince Jongin isn’t in a good mood considering he completely missed meeting him earlier.

He thinks he’s in the clear until he bumps into a maid causing her to drop the glass vase she’s carrying with a loud crash.

Kyungsoo flinches away, whimpering lowly when he hears a chair scrape across the floor, most likely Jongin getting up to see what’s going on.

“I’m sorry,” he mumbles, keeping his head down and watching as several other maids come in with a broom and a dustpan to clean up the glass.

“Are you wearing my shirt?” he hears Jongin question, getting turned around by Jongin and it’s enough to make him woozy, having to grab onto his fiancé’s arm to balance himself before he falls.

“You’re burning up!” Prince Jongin scolds, reaching over and feeling his forehead. Kyungsoo is too tired to fight him off, shivering at how warm Jongin’s hand feels.

“I’m fine,” he replies, moving when Jongin pushes him aside to make way for the maids to clean.

“You’re sick,” Jongin states sternly, giving him look. “Why are you sick? How are you sick?”

Kyungsoo stares at his feet, refusing to talk. If he talks he might just tell the truth, his senses started to merge. He feels like laughing but he also feels like crying, but mostly he just feels hot and cold at the same time.

“And is that my shirt?”

Kyungsoo shrugs, looking down at the sleeves that cover his hands. He supposes it is, and he laughs, but he doesn’t know why he’s laughing.

“You’re sweating,” Jongin tells him before grabbing his arm and leading him who knows where.

Kyungsoo follows with no complaints, feeling dizzy he ends up holding onto the elders arm, wanting to just lie down.

His legs feel heavy and his entire body aches so badly Jongin has to carry him up the stairs.

He doesn’t even remember when he falls asleep but he can feel a wet cloth sitting on his forehead every now and then.

He can hear Jongin talking and he can feel himself being lifted into a sitting position and someone feeding him something that tastes foul.

He’s like this for several days, in and out of consciousness until one morning he wakes up and he feels normal.

He stifles a yawn as he moves to sit up, seeing his puppy lying next to him on the bed. Confused he moves to pet his head, the pup still staying asleep but his tail wags.

Kyungsoo doesn’t remember him being in the room when he was sick, but he supposes someone brought him.

Looking around he squints, the room is still dark so maybe it isn’t morning. Rubbing his eyes he moves to get out of bed, careful to make sure his puppy doesn’t wake.

Once he’s managed to get his feet on the floor he tip toes over towards the window, peeking behind the curtains to see that it’s still early morning, the sun just peeking out beyond the horizon.

Turning around he looks towards the couch Prince Jongin usually sleeps on, failing to spot the elder.

Running his hands through his hair he frowns, feeling sweat and oil from having not bathed in a while. He feels disgusting in general, looking down at his clothes and not daring to try and sniff his shirt.

Quietly he walks towards the bathroom, drawing himself a bath and scrubbing his hair and washing off the sweat.

When he’s done he feels better, walking out of the bathroom and stopping when he sees a familiar toddler.

“Hyung!” Joohyuk shouts, rushing over and hugging onto his legs causing him to sit on the floor so the boy can hug him properly.

“You were sick!” Joohyuk exclaims, pulling away from his neck and looking at him with wide eyes. “I was scared,” the boy whispers, pulling his lips into a pout before going back to hugging him.

“I’m fine,” he replies, surprised at how scratchy his own voice sounds.

Joohyuk beams at him, pulling something out of his pocket and taking the liberty to sit in his lap.

“I made you a card,” he mumbles, unfolding a piece of parchment and twitching when his puppy finally wakes up and rushes over to them.

“Here,” Joohyuk states, handing him the card so he takes it and looks over the boy’s messy handwriting and stick figure drawings.

“What’s his name?” Joohyuk questions, tugging on his sleeve causing him to look down at both Joohyuk and the puppy.

Kyungsoo frowns, not knowing what to say because he really never named the dog. He’s been sick for who knows how long, so he hasn’t really had the time either.

He thinks, staring at the puppy and then remembering what Jongin had told him.

“Pan,” he settles with, shrugging and then looking back down at Joohyuk’s card. There’s a lot of hearts on it, like usual.

Joohyuk mumbles something before going back to play with the puppy, getting his face licked occasionally.

“Your daddy is coming today,” Joohyuk states making him freeze, looking down at the boy with wide eyes.

He positively twitches when the door opens, heart rate skyrocketing out of fear. But it happens to be his fiancé, the elder looking different than the last time he remembers seeing him. His hair is shorter for starters and his clothes look a whole lot nicer.

“You’re awake,” Jongin states, looking surprised as he walks into the room and stops in front of them.

Kyungsoo nods, still not being able to fully process the words Joohyuk just told him.

“You almost stepped on Pan!” Joohyuk shouts when Jongin walks forward, grabbing the puppy and carrying him away.

Jongin frowns, staring at his nephew in confusion.

“Joohyuk all the pans are in the kitchen, what are you talking about?” Jongin questions incredulously, watching as his nephew sighs dramatically.

“The puppy,” Kyungsoo speaks up, his voice sounding scratchy and small.

Jongin blinks, staring at the dog and then back at Kyungsoo. Not really understanding he decides to sit next to his fiancé.

“Are you feeling better?” he questions, reaching over and touching the boy’s forehead, sighing in relief when he doesn’t feel like he has a fever.

Jongin has been anxious ever since the first day Kyungsoo got sick. He got so sick he wasn’t even awake more than five minutes the past several days.

The worst part was that Jongin was forbidden from even being in his own room, because if he got sick then the wedding would most definitely have to be postponed.

Not that he listened to physician Jun and his father. He snuck in several times just to make sure Kyungsoo wasn’t having nightmares, because he does occasionally.

But the boy looks ten times better than he did the last time he saw him. His skin isn’t as pale and he isn’t sweating profusely. His hair is wet but Jongin assumes that’s because he took a bath. He smells like lilies.

Kyungsoo goes cross-eyed staring at his hand before slowly nodding. When he hears a giggle he puts his hand back in his lap, looking at Joohyuk who’s staring at him and suppressing a laugh.

“Anyway,” he states, clearing his throat and scratching the back of his ear. “The wedding is in two days,” he mumbles, watching as Kyungsoo looks at him with furrowed brows.

“You were sick for quite a while, but, we thought it was best to keep things on schedule. Your…family is set to arrive later tonight,” he states carefully, watching as Kyungsoo starts to bite on his nails.

“Everything will be fine,” he reassures his fiancé, but even he isn’t all that convinced.

Chapter Text

Kyungsoo is beyond paranoid. He’s constantly fidgeting as they go over the wedding ceremony. They’re omitting unnecessary parts to spare time and since it’s less for Kyungsoo to memorize, but even then, the boy’s concentration is horrible right now.

At every noise Kyungsoo jumps or flinches, occasionally letting out a whimper if the noise is too loud.

Jongin feels horrible, watching every noise and every movement freak the poor boy out. He keeps having to grab his hands so he doesn’t start gnawing away at his nails. Kyungsoo just lets him for the most part, holding onto his hand and looking like a nervous wreck.

He can’t even get him to eat anything during breakfast and during lunch he has to nearly beg him to eat something. Kyungsoo ends up eating some fruit and vegetables and Jongin has to follow him around afterwards to make sure it actually stays in his stomach.

The entire day is exhausting that by the time the sun starts to set and the Do’s are set to arrive Jongin doesn’t know if he can handle it, let alone Kyungsoo.

His fiancé is currently clinging to his puppy as they sit in the library, one of the only quiet places in the castle since everything else is being prepped and cleaned for the wedding in two days.

Jongin is reading his favorite book out loud while Kyungsoo sits next to him, his puppy in his arms. Occasionally Kyungsoo will start to cry and he has to stop, getting the younger boy calmed down before starting up again.

Once he’s finished with his book he sets it down, looking over at Kyungsoo who’s looking deathly pale.

Following Kyungsoo’s line of sight he realizes why, two carriages are slowly making their way towards the castle, the Do crest standing out on the side. They’re earlier than he thought they would be here.

He assumed after dinner but they should be arriving at the front steps of the castle within minutes. Jongin scowls when he realizes he will have to endure dinner with the King.

“We should go downstairs,” he states, watching as Kyungsoo squeezes his eyes shut and stiffly nods his head.

“You won’t be able to bring, um, Pan,” he mumbles, trying to get used to the pup having an actual name; if you can call it that.

Kyungsoo again, nods his head, setting the puppy down and watching as a maid comes and gathers him up in her arms and heads to put him back in the stables with his siblings.

Jongin sighs, gently coaxing Kyungsoo towards the exit and then they head downstairs to the main entry way. His parents are already there, Jinhee and Jini as well as their families slowly walking in as well, probably having been called by a maid the minute the Do’s were spotted.

Jini stands to his father’s right side, her husband next to her and Joohyuk attached to his side, still not quite used to royal gatherings like this.

Jinhee stands near his mother and Jongin stands next to her husband, Kyungsoo to his left. It’s a specific order that Jongin learned back when he was Joohyuk’s age.

He was always to Jinhee’s left, now he’s a pace over but still. He’s the last in line and it shows to anyone who meets them as a family.

Looking to his own left he notices Kyungsoo has moved away from him and stands a painstakingly obvious distance from him. His back is as straight as an arrow but his head is down. Jongin’s mouth twitches into a frown when he recognizes the familiar pose Kyungsoo was always in when they would visit the Do’s. There but not, seen but not heard.

Without thinking he goes and grabs his hand, pulling him over to his side and refusing to let his grip go when Kyungsoo starts tugging.

“I’m not supposed to,” Kyungsoo whispers out frantically as the doors start to open.

Jongin doesn’t even have a chance to reply, even if he wanted to. He keeps his grip firm, but not crushing on Kyungsoo’s hand, the seventeen year old left to stand stiffly at his side.

When the doors are open fully Kyungsoo goes rigid next to him, through his peripheral vision Jongin can see that his fiancé is keeping his head down still, but he can’t pay much attention because he hears King Do being announced and his attention is being taken away from his fiancé.

King Do looks like he remembers. His eyes are narrow, lips always in a tight line and his hair is greying, maybe a little lighter than the last time he saw him months ago when retrieving Kyungsoo.

Despite his age he still looks a bit youthful, and Jongin resents that fact. He looks like he is in perfect health and Jongin doesn’t doubt that he is.

Jongin doesn’t think he’s ever hated someone as much as he hates King Do. While he was well taken care of, Kyungsoo was barely a thought in his mind.

Diverting his attention from the King he looks to his right, spotting Seungsoo and his wife along with their son. He had almost forgotten all about him.

The baby is quiet as both King’s greet each other, so quiet one would probably not even realize there was an infant in the room.

Jongin doesn’t even know the name, having been preoccupied with other things these past months.

But when the baby does make a sound Kyungsoo’s head snaps up. Jongin can’t see much of his face but he can feel how tightly Kyungsoo is squeezing his hand, strength he forgets the younger boy even has.

Jongin just lets him, not even bothered by the squeezing of his hand if it makes the younger boy somewhat at ease. Although he knows Kyungsoo won’t fully be able to rest until his father is gone.

Feeling a tiny nudge from his right he looks to his brother-in-law, getting a discreet look that makes him finally look towards the Do’s who are looking at him and waiting.

He supposes he missed the greetings.

“It’s a pleasure to have you in our home,” he states plainly, giving a bow that would make his etiquette teachers from his younger age furiously embarrassed. His father is bound to scold him for it later tonight.

Jongin notices Seungsoo biting back a smile.

His fiancé however, wrenches his hand out of his grip and takes one step forward, giving his father a complete ninety degree bow. Standing up straight but never daring to look his father in the face.

“Please forgive my fiancé for his disrespect, he doesn’t feel well, your highness,” Kyungsoo states quietly, but sternly, giving another bow before taking a step back and away from him.

Jongin sets his jaw, looking at Kyungsoo and then looking at his father, his fists clenching when he sees the arrogant smile on King Do’s face.

“You’re forgiven,” King Do states before turning his attention back to his father.

Jongin doesn’t know who exactly he was talking to.

When their parents leave to presumably go over last minute wedding details Jongin is left alone with everyone else.

It takes but only a minute for someone to open their mouth and it’s Seungsoo.

“You really know how to piss off a King, don’t you?” Seungsoo questions and he’s talking to him.

Jongin opens his mouth to reply but is cut off by Seungsoo.

“Did you get my letter?”

Jongin frowns, looking to his right to see Dongwan nodding his head.

“Yes, your highness.”

Seungsoo smiles, “Good. So everything is taken care of?”

“Of course,” Dongwan replies, leaving Jongin positively confused.

“Kyungsoo, come meet your nephew,” Seungsoo calls out, so Jongin turns, noticing Kyungsoo is off to the side of the room biting on his nails.

But the seventeen year old does as his brother tells him, walking over and taking the hand Seungsoo holds out for him.

Jongin watches as Yeonjoo, Seungsoo’s wife, unwraps the baby slightly so his face is in view. He’s small is Jongin’s first thought, the second is that Kyungsoo is staring at him with wide eyes, looking more at ease than he thought he would be right now.

“What’s his name?” he calls out, walking over to take a closer look and smiling. He’s always loved children and part of him hates how he’ll never have any of his own.

“Jisoo,” Seungsoo replies, the spitting image of a proud father. Jongin can see it in his smile.

“Do you want to hold him?” Seungsoo questions his younger brother.

Kyungsoo immediately makes a face, wrenching himself away from Seungsoo and shaking his head no.

Jongin frowns, following after Kyungsoo has taken it upon himself to separate from the others and stand off to the side.

When Kyungsoo notices him he glares.

“You insulted my father,” Kyungsoo states plainly, his fists clenched at his side.

“I gave him a proper greeting,” he argues, because he did. For the most part that is. He may have forgotten the honorifics.

“I’ll make sure to think of you when he beats me for it later,” Kyungsoo says with a bitter smile.

Jongin flinches from the tone, but grabs at the younger boy’s arm when he tries to leave.

“He won’t lay a hand on you,” he promises.

Kyungsoo doesn’t look convinced.

“I told you I would take care of you and I meant it,” he says seriously, loosening his grip on his fiancé’s arm when he knows he isn’t going to walk off.

Kyungsoo stares at him, his face hard to read but it’s normal. Jongin never knows what he’s thinking. When he does he wishes he couldn’t.

“My father does not like to be disrespected,” Kyungsoo mutters eventually, his posture relaxed compared to how he was minutes earlier.

“He said I was forgiven,” Jongin replies, holding onto Kyungsoo’s hand when he looks like he’s going to start gnawing on his nails again.

Kyungsoo laughs, “My father is not known for his forgiveness.”

Jongin frowns.

“Am I interrupting?” a voice questions, startling Kyungsoo but Jongin merely turns his head to see Seungsoo in front of them.

Jongin watches as the other Prince’s eyes trail downwards to their conjoined hands and he immediately pulls away, straightening himself out and clearing his throat.

“No.”

“Prince Dongwan tells me you have been sick,” Seungsoo addresses his brother, brows furrowed slightly.

Kyungsoo blushes, nodding his head slightly while messing with the sleeve of his shirt.

Jongin however frowns, looking over at his brother-in-law silently and wondering when this information was even relayed.

Dongwan was an odd fit for his sister. Jongin honestly didn’t understand, still doesn’t, how the two ended up with one another. Dongwan is a third born son from high up north, in the mountains. His ranking in his father’s army was high, he still wears the uniform. Jongin has just never had the desire to speak more than he has to with him.

Junyoung and he get along splendidly. Dongwan though, Jongin doesn’t really know him that well. Other than the fact that his sister is in love with him. It’s surprising that Seungsoo and Dongwan are in communication with one another.

“Jongin?”

Tearing his sight away from his brother-in-law Jongin turns back to where Seungsoo is looking at him expectantly.

“I’m sorry?” he questions, fighting off a blush for being caught not paying attention.

When they were younger Seungsoo would have teased him endlessly about it, but now he gives an amused smile.

“I asked if you knew how my brother had gotten sick,” Seungsoo replies.

Jongin realizes Kyungsoo had moved when he wasn’t paying attention and is now leaning on his brother, the smallest of content smiles on the younger boy’s lips.

He said he misses me, Jongin remembers Seungsoo telling him. To have the elder worried and doting on him must make Kyungsoo happy, he realizes.

“I’m still not sure. He gets sick easily, our physician said so,” he states, shrugging and then looking down at his fiancé.

Jongin almost laughs when he realizes why Kyungsoo’s actually happy. Seungsoo gave him candy.

“You pissed my father off on purpose,” Seungsoo states and he flushes, looking at his fiancé who’s looking confused.

“Of course not. I’m not feeling well,” he lies, faking a cough that makes Seungsoo burst out laughing.

“Hyung!” Joohyuk shouts, rushing over and grabbing Kyungsoo’s hand and dragging him off, ignoring both him and Seungsoo.

Jongin sighs, running his hand through his hair and watching as his nephew pouts his way into Kyungsoo sharing his sweets.

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard Kyungsoo lie to my father like that,” Seungsoo states quietly, suddenly very serious.

Jongin shrugs, “He’s terrified of him. Of course he would lie,” he excuses, looking up at Seungsoo and frowning.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” he questions, growing uncomfortable.

“Prince Jongin, do you have feelings for my brother?” Seungsoo interrogates and Jongin flushes hard, eyes widening.

“Don’t be absurd!” he hisses, looking around to make sure no one heard the question but him. He glares when Seungsoo starts looking amused, a smirk on his lips.

“You’re quite red,” Seungsoo insists, crossing his arms arrogantly.

Seungsoo’s always liked to tease him, Jongin thought it would disappear with age and for a while it had. He’s not sure if he’s glad to have it back.

“I care about your brother, that does not mean I have…feelings for him,” he bites out, his cheeks incredibly warm at the suggestion.

He’s never even thought of Kyungsoo like that. He’s his betrothed, soon to be his husband. But Kyungsoo is far from being a romantic interest. He still sees a child when he looks at Kyungsoo, not a man.

“Caring is feeling, your highness,” Seungsoo states.

Jongin glares, “I can guarantee you it’s not what you’re thinking.”

“If you don’t love him why are you marrying him in two days?”

“It’s been arranged,” Jongin replies easily, wanting dinner to come quickly so he can quit being pestered by the elder.

“There are ways out of an arrangement. Even a written one,” Seungsoo throws back just as easily.

Jongin opens his mouth and then closes it. It had been a thought, to get out of the arrangement somehow, but it was never pursued. Jongin thought of finding a way for Kyungsoo, not for himself.

Of course there would be a way out of their contract. There’s always loopholes. If he had tried hard enough he would have found one. But when Kyungsoo said he did not want to return back home, Jongin didn’t even bother to try.

“If you want out, say so now,” Seungsoo states quietly.

Jongin stares in confusion at the other Prince. Out of all the months Kyungsoo has been here, Seungsoo never once mentioned it to him, never laid the option out on the table.

“He would be taken care of, if you’re wondering. Properly. Like he should be,” Seungsoo adds on and it only further confuses him.

Up until now Jongin never thought of not marrying Kyungsoo. From the minute he found out they would be married, he never thought they wouldn’t be. He accepted it, although slightly resented the decision at first, he knew it was in Kyungsoo’s best interest.

Kyungsoo would be away from his father and his abuse and with his family instead. Even if Kyungsoo is not perfect or as ordinary as one should be, he’s grown better since he’s been here. Jongin knows that much.

Jongin wonders what it would be like to be selfish and take Seungsoo up on his offer. To not marry Kyungsoo.

He’s frustrated with himself that he can’t even imagine it.


“So, your answer?”


Jongin hesitates.

Chapter Text

“Dinner is served.”

Jongin twitches, looking over at the maid and then back at Seungsoo.

“Finally. I’m starving,” Seungsoo mutters, looking towards his wife before looking back at him. “We can continue this discussion after dinner.”

Jongin dumbly nods his head, watching Seungsoo tend to his wife before he starts to look for Kyungsoo, spotting him standing off to the side and fidgeting like normal.

Hesitantly Jongin walks over towards him, letting his sisters and Seungsoo head to the dining room first. Jongin knows that they switched out tables for this occasion. They just won’t all fit at their old one with the four extra guests. Kyungsoo will probably be confused where to sit.

“You’ll sit next to me,” he states quietly, finally following after Jinhee and her family.

Kyungsoo nods silently, trailing after him and making sure he’s the last person in the dining room. Jongin sighs, pulling out a chair and pointing at it, watching as Kyungsoo stares at him oddly before moving to sit. Once Kyungsoo is seated he takes the place next to Kyungsoo and prepares himself for a long dinner.

Unfortunately for them they’re closest to Kyungsoo’s father. Jongin can only spare Kyungsoo by putting him more towards the middle, closer to his own father rather than King Do. Jongin however, is across from Seungsoo’s wife, just two seats from the man. To his right is Kyungsoo’s mother whom hasn’t uttered a word since she got here.

They get served an appetizer first before the main course comes out. He keeps his eyes on his food, trying to ignore the stare Kyungsoo’s father is drilling into his skull as he eats his steak and his vegetables. He supposes Kyungsoo was right, he doubts he’s the King’s favorite person right now.

Looking to his left he sees Kyungsoo poking at his food, never actually eating anything. Frowning he turns himself towards the boy, trying to block the view from King Do.

“You need to eat,” he says softly, getting a wide eyed look from Kyungsoo.

“I can’t eat this,” Kyungsoo replies just as softly, poking at his food so Jongin looks down. Kyungsoo was served the same thing as everyone else. It’s honestly one of Kyungsoo’s favorite foods he has come to notice. He’s confused as to why he hasn’t even taken a bite.

“There’s nothing wrong with it. Eat it.”

Kyungsoo makes a face before shaking his head, poking at his steak with his fork.

Jongin scowls, setting his own fork down.

“Father,” he calls out, turning to his right despite the fact that his actual father is on his left.

“Yes?” he hears his father call out in confusion, since his sister was talking and Seungsoo is eyeing him oddly.

“Oh, I meant my father-in-law. Is it alright if I call you father?” he questions, ignoring the fact that Seungsoo has just choked on his food, and staring at King Do with a smile.

“You two aren’t married yet,” King Do states plainly, his grip on his fork tightening.

“I should get used to it though, shouldn’t I?” he questions, faking his enthusiasm and shooing Kyungsoo’s hand from where he’s tugging on his arm.

“I suppose so,” King Do replies, giving him probably the most passive murderous look he can muster in public.

“So, father, is the food good?” he questions, taking a sip of his drink and waiting for a response.

“It’s fine.”

“Because my lovely fiancé here, he thinks he can’t eat it. I can’t imagine why,” he sighs out dramatically, dropping his smile and flinching when he gets kicked from underneath the table.

Looking up he sees Seungsoo is glaring at him. He isn’t sure who looks like they want to murder him more. Seungsoo or his father.

He supposes he might have gone a little too far.

“Kyungsoo can eat whatever he wants,” King Do says before giving him a smile that sends a chill down his spine.

Jongin quickly averts his eyes, looking down and watching as Kyungsoo picks up his fork and takes a bite, finally.

The rest of dinner goes on incredibly uncomfortable for him. Seungsoo is glaring at him. Kyungsoo’s father keeps calling him son, on purpose, and talking about things he has no clue about; again, on purpose. He’s making him look stupid in front of everyone, subtly of course, and he supposes he might deserve it.

Jongin can only find comfort that King Do’s attention is on him and not on Kyungsoo.

When dinner is over King Do excuses himself to retire leaving Jongin to shoot up out of his seat and actually give a real bow. He doesn’t think it does him any good though because King Do ignores his “Have a good night.”

His own parents eventually move to retire and everyone leaves the dining room one by one. Jini and Jinhee leave together, Joohyuk calling out a goodnight to Kyungsoo leaving he and his fiancé alone with Seungsoo and his family.

When Yeonjoo wishes to retire Seungsoo stands up and Jongin can only follow suit, Kyungsoo getting out of his chair and exiting the room rather quickly.

“Now you’re just stupid,” Seungsoo tells him once Yeonjoo is a good pace ahead of them.

He and Seungsoo walk side by side, Kyungsoo snatching his arm away when he tried to catch up with him. Jongin tries not to worry about it now. He can apologize properly after Kyungsoo has calmed down some.

“You think your father might try and strangle me in my sleep?” he half-jokes, sparing Seungsoo a glance.

“My father would never dirty his hands with murder. He would get someone to do it for him,” Seungsoo replies, way too easily.

It has Jongin stopping in his steps, looking at the other Prince with a wide eyes.

Please tell me you are joking,” he mutters, giving his friend a concerned look.

Seungsoo laughs, “I think I am.”

It does nothing to settle Jongin’s nerves. He’s going to have to sleep with his eyes open, he decides. Post a guard near the door.

“About earlier,” he mumbles, fidgeting with his collar. “Were you…serious?” he questions.

They eventually find themselves at the end of the hallway that leads to his and Kyungsoo’s room. Seungsoo and his wife are occupying one nearby. Jongin planned it that way. He wants his fiancé to be comfortable about their wedding and one of the only things that Kyungsoo enjoys is being near his brother it seems.

“If you don’t want to marry him you shouldn’t be forced to,” Seungsoo replies quietly, leaning against the wall and letting out a tired sigh.

“How exactly would that work,” he questions, “Not that I’m saying I don’t want to marry your brother,” he rushes out, to be clear.

“I’m sure you’re aware by now,” Seungsoo starts off, letting out a tired yawn.

Normally Jongin would just let him go retire to his room, the trip from the Do’s to their castle is long and he’s bound to be exhausted. Especially after dinner. But he’s curious.

“Aware of?”

“His father.”

Jongin freezes, looking around to make sure they’re alone before looking back at Seungsoo.

“You knew?” he hisses, beyond shocked that Seungsoo knew all along.

He knew. The entire time he knew. It infuriates him that he never told him. He never did anything about it.

Jongin would punch him but he knows Seungsoo would only retaliate and he isn’t supposed to look like a bruised piece of fruit for his wedding day.

“I didn’t always. I found out after he came here,” Seungsoo replies, taking the crown off of his head and staring at it with an odd look on his face.

“I found a diary in the library. Everything made sense after that. When I questioned my father about it, of course he chained me to a wall and beat me,” Seungsoo laughs out quietly, rubbing his wrist like he’s recalling the memory.

“Of course,” Jongin replies, feeling his dinner start to come back up. He feels nauseas the more he thinks about it.

Something so horrid is normal to them. Not just to Kyungsoo, but to his brother as well.

“The marriage contract isn’t legal. You need the father’s approval,” Seungsoo explains.

Jongin stares, because he doesn’t know what else to do other than stare at Seungsoo. The elder is right. Marriage contracts like this require approval of both parents and King Do, he’s not Kyungsoo’s real father. It’s been completely invalid since the day it was signed.

“It doesn’t matter,” he eventually replies, shifting where he stands and crossing his arms. “Even if he isn’t it’s not like his real father is around here somewhere ready to speak up,” he excuses, shifting on his feet again and looking up at Seungsoo.

“Right?” he questions when he gets no reply.

“It’s late. I should retire,” Seungsoo states, moving to leave but Jongin is quick to grab his arm.

“You’re hiding something,” he accuses, refusing to loosen his grip when Seungsoo tries to pull away.

“You’re thinking too hard.”

“I’m not stupid,” he snaps, huffing when Seungsoo shoves him on the shoulder and finally letting go of the elder.

That, is debatable.”

Jongin scowls, opening his mouth to tell the elder off when they both hear someone clear their throat probably as quietly as possible.

They both twitch, whirling around to see Kyungsoo standing awkwardly in the middle of the corridor, his eyes downcast.

Jongin feels his pulse pick up and one glance at Seungsoo and he knows he’s wondering the same thing, how long had Kyungsoo been standing there.

“Ah, Kyungsoo you should be sleeping. Your rest is important,” Seungsoo states with a smile, walking over and reaching to ruffle his younger brother’s hair but Kyungsoo ducks and moves away from him without saying anything.

“I was looking for Jongin,” Kyungsoo eventually whispers, fidgeting with his sleeve before looking up at him.

Jongin can’t help but spare Seungsoo a glance, noticing how he looks hurt but is good at masking it.

“Your puppy,” Jongin realizes, almost forgetting that he was still out in the stables.

Kyungsoo nods his head, shifting on his feet before turning around and shuffling back towards their room and closing the door behind him.

Jongin sighs, running a hand through his hair and knowing he’s going to have to go back downstairs to find a maid or servant boy to go fetch the pup. Kyungsoo can’t sleep without him.

“You gave my brother a puppy?” Seungsoo questions.

Jongin twitches, having forgotten the other Prince was still in his company.

“Yes,” he replies, shrugging his shoulder.

“I’ll assume the wedding will go as planned then?” Seungsoo asks, giving him a look that makes him flush, pursing his lips but nodding his head nonetheless.

“Good.”

When Seungsoo is in his room Jongin is left to find someone to go get Pan and once he does he has to wait a while before the puppy is brought to him. By the time he makes it back to his and Kyungsoo’s room he’s exhausted from the day.

Walking over towards the bed he sets the puppy down, looking for Kyungsoo and failing to spot him he assumes he’s in the bathroom.

Quietly he goes and grabs his night clothes, just changing in the room because he wants to sleep as soon as possible.

After he’s clothed into his sleeping attire he lays down on his makeshift bed, closing his eyes and vaguely hearing the door to the restroom open. He thinks nothing of it, trying to let his mind relax until he feels something hard and heavy hit him dead in the chest.

He immediately yells, sitting up in alarm and grabbing at the area where a sharp pain in spreading. Looking up with wide eyes he barely has time to duck before Kyungsoo is chucking something else he can’t make out at his face.

“What are you doing?!” he screeches incredulously, falling out of his bed and cowering behind a chair.

“You were doing it on purpose!” Kyungsoo yells back at him over Pan’s barks, chucking something else at him that nicks his finger causing him to hiss, removing his hand from holding the chair and putting it in his lap.

When nothing else gets thrown he hesitantly peeks from behind the chair, flinching out of instinct but Kyungsoo’s run out of objects to throw at him it seems. Now he’s just standing there breathing heavily, looking about as shocked as he feels about what just happened.

Neither one of them moves for who knows how long. Jongin is mostly just shocked that Kyungsoo actually threw things at him, but then he remembers the broken vase from a while back and supposes this must be something similar.

But Kyungsoo looks equally shocked, his eyes wide with something akin to fear. Jongin isn’t even sure if he’s so much as blinked when he finally finds it in himself to hesitantly stand up and try and move towards him.

It isn’t until he’s within arm’s reach does Kyungsoo realize what’s happening, flinching and moving away from him, eyeing his hands warily.

“I’m sorry about dinner,” he states slowly, deciding to keep his hands to himself because he’s sure Kyungsoo will flip out if he even tries to touch him at this point. “I was out of line.”

Kyungsoo watches him with wide eyes, his hands brought up to his chest. He looks like a frightened deer or something similar. He inches away from him without even realizing it.

“I’m sorry. I’ll behave properly tomorrow,” he apologizes again, giving his fiancé a hesitant smile and of course, like always, not getting one in return.

“I asked you to stop and you wouldn’t,” Kyungsoo whispers, his voice sounding tired and scratchy.

Hearing it from Kyungsoo just makes him feel worse than he already does. He should have kept his mouth shut, he realizes. Talking always ends up causing Kyungsoo some sort of pain.

Just looking at the younger boy Jongin can tell he probably still isn’t fully recovered from being sick. Exerting himself is also something he more than likely isn’t used to. Jongin notices he looks a bit pale, sweat accumulated at his hair line and near his eyebrows. He probably didn't help matters by making his father angry. Kyungsoo is probably terrified that that anger is going to be taken out on him.

“I’m sorry. I promise it won’t happen again,” he mumbles, feeling like a scolded child.

When Kyungsoo doesn’t say anything he shifts on his feet, rubbing his finger and squeezing his eyes shut when he realizes there’s a cut. He will have to wait until morning to get it looked at though as well as his chest. He’s almost positive whatever Kyungsoo threw is going to leave a bruise.

“You should get some rest,” he sighs out, feeling the weight of the day causing tension in his own neck and shoulders. “Tomorrow is going to be spent rehearsing. You should be well rested.”

Kyungsoo eventually nods his head, turning around and shuffling towards the bed and then getting underneath the covers, Pan next to him and Jongin sighs, running a hand through his hair.

He misses his bed, he thinks as he gets into the couch pulling a blanket over his face and falling asleep almost immediately.


--


When Jongin wakes he feels sore, his head throbbing and throat tickling with an itch. Clearing his throat he groggily blinks his eyes open, adjusting to the lightning before looking towards the bed and seeing no one there.

Tiredly he realizes how warm it is, he can feel himself sweating slightly and he prays he isn’t sick. Looking to his left he freezes when he realizes why it’s so warm.

His eyes nearly pop out of his head when he sees Kyungsoo sleeping peacefully across from him. There’s a small gap between them, but the couch is far from big so he’s still close enough that he could count all his eyelashes had he wanted to.

Hearing someone clear their throat he looks up with a twitch, feeling his heart start to pound erratically when he sees Seungsoo standing in his room with an unreadable expression on his face.

“This is not what it looks like,” he whispers, trying to sit up but realizing Kyungsoo is lying on his arm.

He supposes that’s why he can’t actually feel it. It’s so warm because there’s an extra source of heat underneath his blanket.

“Really? Because you told me you had no interest in my brother last night and this morning he’s in your bed,” Seungsoo replies plainly, his voice quiet as to not wake Kyungsoo.

Jongin prays Kyungsoo doesn’t wake up while he’s still in the room.

He can’t even form a coherent reply, because he doesn’t even know why Kyungsoo is in his bed. How is he supposed to tell Seungsoo what’s going on when he doesn’t even know what’s going on.

“It’s not what it looks like,” he emphasizes again, quietly trying to pull his arm out from underneath Kyungsoo as slow as possible.

“I’m finding that hard to believe,” Seungsoo states, giving him a glare when Kyungsoo shifts in his sleep.

“Can you just leave?” he all but snaps, his head throbbing dully.

It’s too early for him to be dealing with an overprotective brother on top of wondering what on earth Kyungsoo is doing lying next to him.

“Of course. I wouldn’t want to disturb whatever you were planning to do this morning.”

Jongin flushes, his entire neck up to his ears heating up as his eyes form a glare on the elder’s back. Once Seungsoo is out of the room Jongin directs his glare downwards at Kyungsoo, shoving him on the arm causing the younger boy to startle awake.

“What are you doing in my bed?” he interrogates, watching as Kyungsoo flinches away from him and ends up rolling onto the floor with a loud thud.

It wakes up Pan, the puppy rushing over to his owner and licking at his face. Jongin would find it comical if he wasn’t still angry from Seungsoo finding them like this.

“You attack me with the soap holder last night and I wake up to you in my bed? Explain to me what on earth you were thinking,” he states sternly, trying not to get mad at the younger boy but he’s irritated and he supposes it shows because Kyungsoo scoots away from him.

“Well?” he pesters, sitting up fully and frowning at the itchy feeling in his throat that won’t go away.

When Kyungsoo still doesn’t answer he sighs, ruffling his hair before getting off the couch and moving to sit in front of his fiancé and waiting.

“You’re not in trouble,” he mumbles, clearing his throat and reaching over to awkwardly pat Kyungsoo on the shoulder.

“Just…explain, please,” he sighs out, feeling his stomach start to grumble.

Kyungsoo shifts in his seat, playing with Pan’s ears and watching as the pup pants happily, his tail wagging at a rapid pace. It isn’t until his stomach lets out a really loud growl does Kyungsoo look up at him, his lips twitching like he wants to laugh.

“I was scared,” Kyungsoo admits quietly, taking a deep breath. “I won’t do it again. You snore too loud,” he adds on causing Jongin to scoff, fighting to keep a smile off his face.

“I do not snore. Princes do not snore,” he denies, crossing his arms over his chest, wincing when it feels a tad bit sore.

“You sound like a pig,” Kyungsoo snorts out, covering his mouth to hide is laughter.

Jongin sighs, reaching over to ruffle Kyungsoo’s hair which makes him shut right up, looking at him with wide eyes.

“You can…um, sleep, erm, near me. If you’re scared,” he mumbles, shifting awkwardly in his seat.

Kyungsoo nods, keeping his eyes on his puppy and petting behind his ear.

“Just warn me next time so I don’t wake up to your brother thinking I defiled your innocence,” he adds on, grumbling as he gets up to get ready for the day.

He ignores Kyungsoo’s weird choking noise he just let out and goes to change into something he doesn’t mind getting dirty. He’s almost positive Seungsoo is going to beat him up after breakfast.

Chapter Text

Kyungsoo’s first trip to the dungeons had been when he was six. He had been distracted from his teacher and wandered off without his knowledge. His attention span wasn’t great when he was little. This time he had gotten distracted by a mouse and decided to follow it.

It had grey fur and was rather quick and he was fascinated. He wasn’t allowed to go outside, which meant his contact with animals was close to none. One time he saw a pile of ants, but they bit him and left him itchy. This was a mouse, a real animal so he decided to follow it.

He went through room after room until he got to a dark corridor, a flight of stairs that descended into darkness. Of course Kyungsoo had been a bit scared, he was only six after all. His crown was crooked on his head as he managed to get to the bottom. He had fixed it, he remembers, and then he had tried to look for the mouse again.

The dungeons were cold and smelt of mothballs and something he couldn’t quite place back then. It was quiet for the most part, the occasional dripping of a water droplet or the scurrying of mice he could not see was the only thing Kyungsoo could hear.

He had continued looking for the mouse until eventually he had reached the end of the dungeons. He had pouted then, upset he had turned to leave when he heard a noise to his right.

As a six year old Kyungsoo had been startled, twitching and looking towards the cell with wide eyes. He wasn’t supposed to be here, he knew that much but when he saw someone else with him, inside the cell, he hadn’t been scared.

He had stared, confused and curious he had approached the iron bars, holding onto them and trying to poke his head through the spaces. It wouldn’t fit and he had frowned.

Kyungsoo remembers saying hello, he had just gotten his first lesson on the manners of greeting people. He was proud that he remembered them and gave the man a smile.

The man had looked like he was crying, which confused Kyungsoo but he said hello as well. Kyungsoo thought to wave at him, but seeing that his hands were cuffed he decided against it. It wouldn’t be polite.

Kyungsoo then had introduced himself, just as Kyungsoo. His teacher told him he was a Prince, but not the important one. So he felt like sharing this information wasn’t necessary. He was just Kyungsoo.

The man said he had a lovely name, and asked who gave it to him. Kyungsoo had shrugged, not knowing but he said his mother did. She always seemed to like him more than his father. He left the last part out though.

Kyungsoo asked him a question, one he can’t really remember and the man had laughed at him, a deep chuckle that sounded pleasant to his ears. Kyungsoo asked why he was chained to the wall and the man had told him it was not for a child to hear.

He had pouted then, upset because he was already six. He was a prince! Although, he wasn’t the important one he still thought he deserved to be treated like one.

The last thing he was told was that he looked like his father before someone had grabbed him by the arm and yanked him towards the exit.

Kyungsoo was terrified then, looking up at his father with wide eyes, tears welling up in the corners. His father never smiled and when he frowned it meant you were in trouble. He frowned a lot at him.

He was told to forget what he saw or he would punished. Kyungsoo didn’t know what punishment would actually happen but he wasn’t about to find out. He listened to his father and forgot all about it.





Until he was sixteen.





The memory hadn’t come back to him until he was beaten black and blue, his entire body aching and his ears ringing. He had been borderline unconscious, everything starting to blur and like a dream, he remembered when he was six, the mouse, the dungeons, and the man.

At one point during the beating he recalls hearing a yell that wasn’t his own but he didn’t let himself wonder; too busy with the pain of getting beat over and over again.

Everything had hurt. His legs, his arms, his wrist, his back, everything ached when it was over. He had been brought back to his room in a daze. He was tended to, patched up like a broken vase missing its pieces and then left alone.

Kyungsoo had passed out thinking he looked nothing like his father.

But Kyungsoo forced himself to forget. Forget everything and be quiet. He suppressed the questions of why he looked nothing like his father. He suppressed everything because it was simpler to think that his father hated him for being incompetent than to think he wasn’t his father at all. He never thought of it. He assumed sole responsibility of being a bad son. He wasn’t born to be an heir his father would be proud of.

When he was younger he fidgeted too much, he was fat and greedy. When he was a teen he wasn’t as built as Seungsoo. He was too thin and ugly.

This is why his father wanted him out of the castle. He was just a horrible son. There was no other reason, he told himself over and over until he believed it.

He forgot everything about the dungeons. He lived on like he normally did the day after.

Until last night, when he opened the door to leave and look for Jongin only to hear voices. He had paused, knowing it was bad to listen in he had intended to close the door but he couldn’t move.

He had to force himself to. He wanted his puppy. He wanted to just forget he heard it.

He tried so hard, he lied down and tried to sleep but he couldn’t. He was terrified his father knew he was remembering, terrified that he would come and beat him for it and he was scared he would get hurt for Jongin being disrespectful.

Hesitantly he had gotten up from the bed and walked over towards where Prince Jongin was asleep. He just stood there for a while before lifting the blanket and boldly moving to lie next to his fiancé.

Despite the fact that he attacked the elder with a soap dish and a cup earlier, Jongin still never hit him. The months that he had been in the Kim’s care, Prince Jongin never slapped or hit him, even when he gave him reason to.

Jongin said he wouldn’t let anything bad happen to him and Kyungsoo decided to believe him; if only just for that night.

He just wanted to sleep and it was going to be his only way of doing it. He was careful not to wake the elder and even though his snoring was loud in his ears he was able to fall asleep.

Of course he woke up in an unfortunate way but he managed to forget everything until breakfast.

Then it was a game of will. He forced himself not to think, not to think anything and he was led around all day. Everything was a blur, the rehearsal, lunch and then dinner. Kyungsoo can’t remember any of it.

He tried so hard to forget everything but it didn’t work.

All he can remember is the dungeon. His father. Seungsoo and Jongin talking about it like it was nothing in the hallway.

And so for the first time since he was six he let himself remember, piece everything together and it hits him harder than his father ever did.

Except he’s not his father. His family lied to him.

Everyone has been lying to him.

His entire life is a lie and he can’t breathe. His chest feels tight and he can’t breathe.

“He must be nervous,” he hears someone say and he blinks twice. It’s like a fog clearing and he’s suddenly seeing clearly.

He looks around confused, seeing nothing but Jongin’s sisters and mother along with his own.

“I threw up on my wedding day,” he hears Jinhee laugh out causing him to frown, looking at them in confusion.

“Wedding day?” he questions, trying to recall getting inside this room but he can’t. All his head is full of is the dungeon.

“It’s alright to be nervous,” Jongin’s mother tells him soothingly, rubbing his arm and giving him a warm smile.

“I’m not nervous,” he denies, getting off the couch he’s sitting on and walking out of the room despite the concerned looks he’s getting.

Once he makes it to the hallway he’s surprised to see people hurrying about, a lot of noise sounding from somewhere nearby. The closer to the ballroom gets the louder the noise is.

He’s surprised when he gets a peek in to see people. It’s his wedding day, he realizes. Somehow he managed to get through an entire day and a half on autopilot. He can’t remember anything from the past day.

All he remembers is how at the tender age of six he made a trip to the dungeons.

“Kyungsoo?”

Turning around Kyungsoo spots his brother. He looks nice, as always. The spitting image of someone who will become King one day. His suit is tidy and neat, not a single hair out of place on his head and his crown shines brightly.

“It’s my wedding day,” he says dumbly, not knowing what else to say at a time like this.

Knowing all he knows, knowing what today is, Kyungsoo feels numb. He feels more numb than he’s ever felt and he wonders if that’s what death feels like. Cold. Void of anything.

“You’ll be a Kim in no more than an hour,” Seungsoo says quietly, moving to stand next to him and putting an arm around his shoulder.

Kyungsoo lets him, staring blankly at the hall and twitching when a maid comes to tell him he should be in the waiting room and that the ceremony will take place soon.

Kyungsoo nods, looking at his Seungsoo and getting a smile in return.

“You should go.”

Kyungsoo moves to before stopping, feeling a tight pain in his chest as he looks back at his brother.

He wonders if Seungsoo even is his brother.

“It’s quite horrible isn’t it?” he questions, feeling a lump in his throat that he tries to swallow away.

“Kyungsoo?”

“A father hearing his son be beaten. I guess it truly is my fault for being born,” he states plainly, his voice cracking causing him to squeeze his eyes shut.

He’s not supposed to cry in public.

“Kyungsoo, what are you talking about?” Seungsoo rushes out, moving to grab him but he avoids it, stepping back and clearing his throat.

“I’m not stupid. I was never stupid,” he mutters before turning around and ignoring Seungsoo calling after him.

Once he makes it to the waiting room he lets out a shaky breath, rubbing his eyes stubbornly and biting his lip harshly as to not cry. He has to stand in front of tons of royals in several minutes and he can’t walk out there with reddened eyes.

He manages to sit before someone comes and knocks on his door. Kyungsoo looks up, composing himself before getting off his chair and moving to answer the door. When he grips the handle and starts to turn it he hears a loud shout telling him to stop.

Surprised he does as he’s told, dropping his hand back to his side and staring at the door with furrowed brows.

“It’s um, bad luck,” he hears Jongin say from the other side.

Kyungsoo scoffs, rolling his eyes while folding his arms over his chest. Kyungsoo was born with bad luck. He doubts keeping the door closed will matter.

“I just wanted to check on you. You haven’t really said anything the past day and a half,” Jongin states from behind the door.

He must be standing close because Kyungsoo can hear him perfectly. It doesn’t sound the least bit muffled. Sighing he reaches for the handle, opening the door despite the elder’s earlier protest only to get immediately knocked down by Jongin falling on top of him.

He lands on his back with a loud grunt, his head knocking against the tile of the floor making him dizzy.

“I told you not to open the door!” Jongin shouts at him, but it sounds fuzzy.

The elder is immediately getting off of him and helping him sit up, checking his head for injury and then cupping his face.

“Kyungsoo? Are you okay?” Jongin pesters, patting his cheek and moving his hand in front of his face annoyingly.

Kyungsoo shoves him away, frowning as he moves to rub the back of his head. It’ll probably cause a bump later on in the day, he thinks but luckily there isn’t any blood.

“I told you not to open the door,” Jongin mumbles, sitting across from him and looking sheepish.

Kyungsoo’s head hurts. He can’t focus on anything but his head hurting and he smacks Jongin’s hand when he tries touching him again. He doesn’t want to be touched. He doesn’t want to get married. He doesn’t want to do anything but sit here for the rest of his life but he has to get up. He has to get married. He has to pretend; like always.

“You two aren’t supposed to see each other! It’s bad luck!” Jini scolds as she walks into the room.

Kyungsoo ignores her and ignores Jongin’s hand that’s offering to help him up. He stands up on his own and then he rubs his head again, feeling his skull throb dully.

“The wedding is about to start,” he gets told and then he’s led towards the ballroom.

He focuses on the throbbing of his head and ignores everything else. Somehow throughout the ceremony he doesn’t mess up and he does everything perfectly. He doesn’t look at anyone in the face and keeps his eyes dead set on the floor.

There have been many times when Kyungsoo realized his life was horrible. He can’t even count how many times he told himself it would get better and at one point he knew that was impossible too.

He gave up. He just went with everything because happiness was something he was never going to truly experience.

And then he came to live with the Kim’s and suddenly everything was different. The castle was never cold. He could eat whatever he wanted without someone scolding him. He didn’t have to sit through hours of boring lectures on how he should sit and why he wasn’t important. They talked to him, even when he didn’t want to. When it was obvious they let him be alone. They cared about him.

At least, he thought they did until the other night.

They’ve been lying to him.

All of this has been nothing but a lie.

All he can think during the end of the ceremony is that Jongin is a good liar. Better than he thought he was. Kyungsoo feels stupid for even beginning to think Jongin cared about him.

After he gets his new ring and his new crown he knows the ceremony is almost over. Jongin is supposed to kiss him and he feels angry with this fact. He turns his head at the last minute out of spite and ignores the whispers and giggles that he’s shy and the embarrassed look Jongin is giving him.

His head hurts so much by the end of it and he would rather go sleep but weddings are never complete without a party and a long night of festivities.

The only moment of silence he gets is when they ushered to go change and even then, he can hear Jongin grumbling to himself from the other side of the partition.

Kyungsoo hasn’t even made a move to grab his clothes when Jongin opens up the divider and gives him a look.

“Why aren’t you dressed? We have to go to dinner soon,” Jongin states, fixing his collar and walking towards him.

“Should I turn around?” Jongin questions him when he realizes he isn’t dressed.

Kyungsoo looks up at him and frowns, Jongin is his husband now. He’s no longer a Do, although he’s not sure if he was ever one to begin with.

He should be happy he tells himself. He got what he wanted. But of course, being happy and being who he is do not coincide. He's not happy. He's never going to be happy. He hates himself for even beginning to hope again.

“Kyungsoo? Are you feeling okay?” Jongin questions, waving a hand in front of his face again causing him to flinch.

Kyungsoo stares up at his husband and frowns.

His husband. He’s married now.

Married.

He’s far from okay.

“Can you at least nod or something?” Jongin questions, starting to look irritated with him.

Kyungsoo wonders why Jongin hasn’t told him yet. Someone that claims he cares about him, gossips with his brother about how he's a bastard. Kyungsoo wonders why it's so easy for everyone to lie to him.

Kyungsoo’s wondering a lot of things. Too many things.

“Why did I think being married to you would be any better than being engaged?” Jongin huffs, rubbing his temples.

“Can I eat the cake later?” he questions, because his head is so full and all he can focus on is that they’re serving cake today.

From experience, he likes cake.

From experience he’s only eaten it once.

So he ignores the revelation of his father. He ignores the fact that his real father, may not even be alive anymore. He ignores the fact that Jongin, Seungsoo, all of the Kim’s are lying to him about it.

All he can think about is the cake. He wants some of the cake.

“What? Of course you can,” Jongin mumbles, staring at him oddly as he gets up off his chair and grabs his clothes.

Kyungsoo nods his head and then heads towards where Jongin came from to change.

He’ll focus on the cake, he decides. He'll focus on the cake and force himself to forget everything else.

He's good at it.

Chapter Text

Kyungsoo is on his fourth piece of cake. Jongin had a piece that he finished almost twenty minutes ago. It was good cake, chocolate with some sort of raspberry filling and vanilla icing. Jongin liked the cake, it’s really good cake, but he can’t fathom why you would want four pieces of it.

No, five pieces. Kyungsoo has just finished his fourth piece and is asking for another.

“You….really like the cake,” he mumbles, watching as Kyungsoo looks up from his plate and gives him a blank look before getting handed his fifth plate and starting on his fifth piece of cake.

Jongin frowns, letting out a little sigh as he moves to lean on his arm, half his face getting smooshed.

He’s bored. Everyone else has finished their cake and are either dancing or talking amongst each other. Jongin would love to dance, but, he has no one to dance with.

His husband is eating cake. Doing nothing but eating cake.

Jongin would ask him to dance but he knows Kyungsoo would just turn him down. Or just ignore him like he’s been doing the entire night.

He feels put out, being completely ignored by Kyungsoo when just the other day things seemed great. More than great, Kyungsoo was actually talking to him, laughing even. Now he’s just ignoring him, focusing on seeing how many pieces of cake he can eat in order to avoid him.

“You’re going to get sick,” he warns once Kyungsoo has finished his fifth piece and is waiting on a sixth.

Kyungsoo turns and glares at him, which doesn’t surprise Jongin at all. What does surprise Jongin is that when Kyungsoo gets handed his sixth plate he stands up and moves two seats over and away from him, slamming his plate down loudly.

Jongin flushes, rubbing the back of his neck and growing embarrassed when he sees a couple nearby eyeing them oddly.

Sighing Jongin stands up and moves to sit next to his husband, ignoring everyone else and turning to face him.

“Why are you so mad at me?” he questions miserably, not being able to think of one thing he’s done in the past twenty four hours that could make Kyungsoo so angry with him.

“If this is about the way I spoke to your father—“

“He isn’t my father,” Kyungsoo snaps at him, turning to glare at him causing him to flinch.

Jongin opens his mouth, then closes it, not knowing what to say. His stomach lurches uncomfortably because apparently Kyungsoo did hear him and Seungsoo the other night. He doesn’t even know what to say, or what he can say.

“Do you think I’m stupid?” Kyungsoo questions, setting his fork down and turning to look at him.

He sounds eerily calm, looking completely collected and Jongin can feel himself start to grow nervous.

“Of course not,” he denies, “I never said that,” he adds on, biting his lip and sparing the ballroom a glance.

“I figured out I was engaged to you when I was twelve. You figured it out at our engagement party. Do you think that makes me stupid?” Kyungsoo hisses at him.

Jongin has seen Kyungsoo mad before, but never this mad. Kyungsoo looks furious, his grip on his napkin intensely tight and there’s a vein in his neck that he’s never noticed before obviously bulged out.

“Kyungsoo I don’t think you’re stupid,” he says slowly, not wanting the boy to completely lose it and just snap while they’re still in public.

That would not go over well with everyone.

“Obviously you do if you think I would have never figured it out,” Kyungsoo laughs out, “How long did you think you could lie to me for? Were you even planning on telling me?”

Jongin moves to deny it, to say that he did plan on telling him, but it would be a lie. He never even thought about it. So he keeps his mouth shut.

“You must have thought I was so stupid that you could gossip about it in the hallway. Do you and your family laugh about it behind my back?”

Enough,” he snaps, standing and grabbing at the younger boys wrist to drag him out of the ballroom before he really does draw attention to them with his arguing.

Most people expect them to leave early, they probably think they’re heading to the bedroom to consummate their marriage when in reality he’s probably going to spend the night arguing with the younger boy, sleeping on the floor or in another room if Kyungsoo pushes him enough.

Once they make it to the room Jongin has a plan of what he wants to say, but knowing what he wants to say and saying it are two entirely different things. In reality he can only stare dumbly at his husband, the sound of the door closing loud in his ears.

Jongin doesn’t know where to start. The entire ordeal is complicated and honestly makes his head hurt just thinking about it. But, Kyungsoo is mad, genuinely furious so Jongin starts from the beginning.

“A little while after you came here my parents told me why I was engaged to you,” he starts off, fidgeting slightly and messing with the ring on his finger.

“Your mother had an affair,” he states bluntly, although Kyungsoo is probably already aware of this fact. When he doesn’t react Jongin assumes he was right.

“Your father,” he starts only to stop, realizing his mistake he shifts uneasily on his feet. “King Do, rather than risk being humiliated by having people find out, let you be born.”

Let me be born. I guess I should give him my thanks,” Kyungsoo states plainly causing Jongin to wince, scolding himself for his choice of words.

“My mother, she saw you weren’t being tended to properly,” he continues anyways, watching Kyungsoo’s face for any kind of reaction, “Eventually my parents and your mother thought it was best for an arrangement.”

“You must be so happy to be married to a charity case,” Kyungsoo voices causing him to glare.

“It wasn’t charity! They were just trying to help!” he nearly shouts, growing increasingly frustrated that Kyungsoo is still managing to turn everything against him.

“Yes, so for seventeen years they just sat by and watched, never saying a word while I got hit and beaten. It sounds like they tried so hard to help me. My dear husband it appears stupidity runs in your family if you think I was helped,” Kyungsoo bites out, his words cutting through the air like knives.

Jongin frowns, feeling hurt and insulted but not finding himself justified in these feelings. Kyungsoo is right, they didn’t do a thing to help him back then. Jongin only managed to make things worse by getting Kyungsoo punished.

He doesn’t know what to say. He doesn’t know what it feels like to have everything you thought you knew come crashing down in just an instant. Kyungsoo couldn’t even handle his brother leaving, Jongin doesn’t know how he’s going to cope with all this.

He’s scared one wrong word out of his mouth will break the already fragile hold Kyungsoo has over himself. When Kyungsoo can’t cope he shuts down, turns destructive on himself and anyone in the cross fire.

The past day his silence hasn’t been due to nervousness of a wedding, but revelation of his family lineage and Jongin is terrified that it’s just going to be too much this time and Kyungsoo will break to the point that he can’t be fixed.

Jongin doesn’t know what to do. If he apologizes it won’t mean anything to Kyungsoo. They’re beyond that point. He can’t even explain himself, because he doesn’t even know what his own intentions were with Kyungsoo.

He found out about his father months ago. He never once had a thought to tell Kyungsoo about it. No one ever mentioned telling Kyungsoo about it. It was always treated as a secret that would never reach the young Prince’s ears.

Except, Kyungsoo found out and somehow Kyungsoo has turned this revelation into more than just his family lineage. Before maybe Kyungsoo thought whatever he needed to in order to cope with how he was treated, but now that he knows the truth, everything is else is a lie and that includes Jongin.

Kyungsoo is right, they didn’t do anything to help him when he really needed it.

“I don’t feel well, I’m going to bed,” Kyungsoo states plainly after nearly an hour of silence.

Jongin doesn’t comment back, he just watches as Kyungsoo walks towards the bathroom and then closes the door behind him.

Sighing tiredly he moves towards his couch, grabbing the blanket and pillow and moving to leave the room.

He lets the door close softly behind him as he ventures to the end of the hall, finding it’s adequately furnished he’s relieved.

Walking over towards the bed he only manages to take off his shoes before getting under the covers, tossing his crown to the floor and his wedding ring along with it. The latter doesn’t mean that much anyways, he tells himself.

Stubbornly he pulls the blanket over his head and forces himself to fall asleep with hopes that tomorrow will be easier than today was.

--



Kyungsoo wakes before dawn, the room still dark from the night. It’s even too early for the birds to be chirping yet. He lies there and stares at the ceiling, wondering how much sleep he got last night for his eyes to feel so heavy.

He went to bed long after he heard the chariots and buggy’s leaving the castle. He awoke numerous times with a scream itching at the back of his throat, his nightmares more vivid than they normally were.

His stomach aches dully as he moves to lie on his side, the sixth piece of cake making his body betray him and he stumbles towards the restroom to throw it all up. Everything he ate from the past day or so joining it in the porcelain.

His mouth taste sour and rancid, his head hurts and his stomach still feels like it will betray him again any minute.

Kyungsoo ignores it and exits the restroom and then ultimately exits his room. He walks down the dark hallways quietly, making it to the stairs and then eventually finding himself on the bottom floor of the castle.

It’s still so early no one is awake, not even the maids or the servant boys. Kyungsoo takes comfort in the silence.

He lets himself walk around, the coolness of the tiles on the bottom of his feet making him smile. The cold always reminds him of his old home.

He supposes it shouldn’t be a reason to smile, but Kyungsoo doesn’t have any other real reasons to do so. He misses it, he realizes.

Before he came here everything was fine. He was fine before he came here only to realize how he wasn’t.

He was fine being blinded and ignorant. Being locked up and ignored was normal to him. He could have lived the rest of his life knowing it wasn’t supposed to be.

Instead he came here, and now everything is so different and he hates it. He hates how now he doesn’t fit in anywhere.

He’s not a Do, legally he isn’t even properly a Kim. He’s nobody, just Kyungsoo.

Kyungsoo wonders if he’s even really a Prince and part of him decides that no, he probably isn’t.

This makes him smile even wider, the childish thought of not wanting to be royalty if it meant being silenced and cast off resurfacing and he finds himself stopping in his tracks.

Laughing he heads for the door, opening it up and looking outside with curious eyes. He doesn’t spot any guards and for a moment he questions it, but the moment is short lived and he’s heading towards the stables.

Everything feels weird and foreign to him, but Kyungsoo ignores it. He tunes out the crickets chirping, the way the grass is wet with morning dew and soaking the bottom of his pants.

He goes to the stables, looking in curiously and staring at the horses that are sleeping peacefully. He has to stand on his tip toes to see over the stable door. Then he heads towards the back, looking around curiously and ignoring the way the wood and straw feels on his feet.

“Pan?” he calls out, biting his lip and flinching when several puppies start rushing at him, barking and waking up the horses.

Kyungsoo flinches, staring at them with wide eyes as the all try and jump on him. One is licking at his feet and another is practically hopping in front of him.

Hearing a low whine he looks towards the back of the pack, seeing Pan trying but failing to get to him, being too small to actually push his way through.

Kyungsoo smiles, reaching out and picking him up easily before turning around and leaving the stables.

The puppies follow him out of the stables and continue following him until he reaches the fencing surrounding the castle. Kyungsoo can’t climb the fence, but he knows there is bound to a weak spot somewhere he can walk out of. They let the dogs hunt sometimes, sure enough there’s an opening in the gate that he walks out of.

The forest floor is harsher on his feet and he stubs his toes several times, but he continues walking, smiling and humming to himself as he looks around. He has no clue where he’s going, or when he’ll stop, but he walks.

By the time the sun starts to rise he’s been gone for well more than an hour. His feet hurt, sharp twigs from the forest floor cutting at his skin.

He sits and stares, looking at all the blood and frowning. When Pan tries to lick at his feet he shoo’s him away, tucking his feet under his legs and reaches out to scratch behind the pups ears.

“I don’t know where we’re at,” he admits, looking around and seeing nothing but trees. It’s all very green.

“Do you know?” he questions, staring at Pan who stares back at him, panting as he sits and wags his tail.

When he gets no response he snorts, looking up at the sky as a flock of birds fly over them.

“We should keep walking. I’m not a prince anymore, so I can do what I want. I want to keep walking,” he states happily, standing up and continuing to travel deeper into the forest.

They keep walking, Kyungsoo having to stop every time Pan chases a rabbit or a squirrel up a tree. But then they keep going until Kyungsoo’s feet hurt and his stomach is growling loudly and they run into a stream.

Kyungsoo sits on a rock and lets his feet soak, watching as Pan laps at the water. He wonders if it’s safe to drink, or if he’ll end up puking again like this morning.

He’s hungry, but there isn’t anything to eat. He sighs, letting out a tiny yawn while rubbing at his eyes.

He doesn’t know what time it is, the trees blocking out most of the light in the area he’s at, so he doesn’t know how high the sun is in the sky.

But he supposes by now everyone knows he’s missing. Maybe they’ll be happy they won’t have to put up with him anymore. Or maybe they’re looking for him.

Kyungsoo sits and stares at the water, not knowing if he wants to be found.

--



“How’s your eye?”

Jongin squints as he looks up, the pack of ice blocking half his view. His right eye throbs as he stares up at Seungsoo, noticing his lip has stopped bleeding and a clot of blood is there where his lip split after Jongin managed to get a hit in.

“Did I knock your teeth out?” he questions instead, turning his attention back towards the gates when Seungsoo takes a seat next to him.

“You don’t hit that hard, don’t flatter yourself,” Seungsoo grumbles, knocking shoulders with him and then sitting in silence.

Jongin didn’t even notice Kyungsoo was gone until he got down for breakfast and everyone but his husband was there. Of course, when a maid came down to tell them he wasn’t in their room, Jongin assumed he was hiding somewhere in the castle.

It took an hour for them to realize Kyungsoo was nowhere in the castle. Pan was gone, which meant Kyungsoo was gone.

Of course, then he and Seungsoo had gotten into a fight over it before Jongin finally snapped and lunged at him.

It took Junyoung and his father to pull them off each other and by then, Jongin’s eye had taken a critical blow and his ego was only managed to be saved when he realized he managed to split the elder’s lip.

King Do and his wife had left last night, after the festivities ended and for some reason, Seungsoo and his wife and son stayed behind.

Seungsoo claimed it was because he didn’t want either of them to travel so late, but he keeps pacing, looking nervous, more than just about Kyungsoo being missing.

“I should have told him,” he mumbles, setting his pack of ice down and trying to open his eye but it feels swollen.

“There’s a lot of things that should have been done,” Seungsoo replies easily, his words a little slurred and muffled most likely from his swollen lip.

Jongin shifts slightly so he can get a better look at the other Prince. From the side he looks a lot like Kyungsoo. The way his brows are furrowed and he’s still gnawing at his lip despite the injury reminds him a lot of Kyungsoo.

“I shouldn’t have punched you,” he mumbles, his form of an apology.

“You hit like a woman compared to my father,” Seungsoo laughs out slightly, rubbing his wrist while continuing to stare out at the fence.

Jongin frowns, keeping his comments to himself. He doesn’t appreciate the comparison.

“They should be back by now,” Jongin mumbles mostly to himself, fidgeting and jumping when he hears someone sneeze from behind him.

“Oh sorry,” Junyoung apologizes, “But Joohyuk sent me out here to see if there was any news. He’s quite worried,” his brother-in-law states seriously.

Jongin frowns, shaking his head and looking back at the gates. “Still no sign of anyone.”

“He couldn’t have gotten that far, he’s not very…,” Junyoung trails off, clearing his throat awkwardly when Seungsoo turns around to give him a hard look. “I don’t mean to insult or offend. It’s just that Kyungsoo’s never even been outside, I can’t imagine he would know how to avoid being tracked.”

“If Kyungsoo doesn’t want to be found he’ll find a way. He hid for nearly two days in the castle when he was eleven,” Seungsoo states plainly, getting up and giving Junyoung a look that has him flushing.

“I didn’t mean to upset him,” his brother-in-law sighs out, sitting next to him with a grumble.

“They take offense easily, even if you don’t mean to,” Jongin replies, having enough experience with Kyungsoo to know what he’s talking about.

“I can’t imagine this is easy for you. It’s obvious that you care about Kyungsoo a lot,” Junyoung says quietly, “You shouldn’t beat yourself up about it. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

Jongin scoffs, putting the ice pack back on his eye and biting his lip harshly.

“Well I mean, you did what you thought was right. But I guess it really wasn’t. But you shouldn’t blame yourself. Kyungsoo isn’t known for making things easy.”

“You aren’t helping my mood,” Jongin states bluntly, turning so he can actually see his brother-in-law who blushes bright red.

“I didn’t mean, I’m just, nervous, I care about him too,” Junyoung admits, sighing before getting up and heading back into the castle leaving him alone on the steps.

Jongin can do nothing but wait.

Chapter Text

Kyungsoo decides after a while that no, he doesn’t want to be found. So he travels through the stream, slipping on rocks full of moss every now and then. At one point he completely falls but luckily the water barely reaches his knees and he manages to get up quickly.

Kyungsoo may not have much experience being outside, but he isn’t stupid. Years of loneliness were spent in the library reading every book he could reach and sometimes, reading the same book over and over again.

Some were military tactics, a whole section was dedicated to it and Kyungsoo knows that if he stays in the water they can’t find him as easily. The dogs will find his trail from the castle to the stream, his blood is a great disadvantage up until he got to the water but after that his tracks will fade out.

Another advantage is that people usually build homes near water, there’s bound to be at least a couple up ahead, if not a town where he can get some food and a pair of shoes.

He doesn’t have any money, but he does have a gold ring that should be worth something.

After that, Kyungsoo doesn’t know what he’ll do. He can’t hide forever but he can certainly be lost until he figures out what he wants to do.

Sighing he takes a break, sitting down on a nearby rock and rubbing his eyes tiredly. The sun is out, not quite at its highest point yet. Kyungsoo supposes it’s still early considering he left when it was still pitch black outside.

Yawning he reaches down and cups some water in his hands, taking a drink and then splashing his face to keep him lively.

He can take a nap once he finds an inn that will accept a gold ring as payment.

Hearing Pan start to lowly growl he looks up, frowning while staring in the general direction his dog is barking in.

He shrieks when another dog comes rushing into the area, grabbing Pan as quickly as he can he climbs further up on the rock he’s currently sitting on to hide.

The dog is a different breed, probably a hunting dog and Pan yaps back at him. Kyungsoo whines, pulling his feet up as far as he can and squeezing his eyes shut.

Hearing a whistle he cracks his eyes open, watching as the dog gives one last bark before running off.

Kyungsoo hesitates to move, waiting for the dog to comeback any minute. It does, but with it comes a boy. His hair is black and shaggy, his clothes looking worn out and torn in several places.

“Hey you!” he yells and Kyungsoo flinches, squeezing his eyes shut and clinging to Pan who’s lowly growling in the back of his throat.

Kyungsoo hopes if he ignores the boy he’ll go away. So he keeps his eyes shut, counting sheep in his head until he feels someone poke him and then he screams, falling backwards into the stream with a loud splash, his head nicking itself on a rock.

“Oh my god are you alright?” the boy questions, rushing up to him and pulling him into a sitting position.

Kyungsoo goes rigid when he touches him, his hands griping his pants tightly as the boy invades his personal space.

“Oh no…you’re not afraid of blood are you?” the boy questions and Kyungsoo quickly shakes his head no, staring at the boy in confusion.

“Your head is bleeding,” the boy tells him quietly.

Kyungsoo frowns, reaching behind himself and feeling the area that is stinging and wincing, pulling his hand away and feeling something sticky on his hands.

Looking down he sees his own blood for the second time that day and he sighs a little, rinsing it off in the water and then looking at the boy.

“Why don’t you have shoes on? There are snakes out here you know.”

Kyungsoo doesn’t reply, inching away from the boy and staring down at the water in hopes he goes away and leaves him alone.

“Did you run away?” the boy questions and he accidentally looks up at him, giving his reply away.

The boy looks smug about it and Kyungsoo can only frown, glaring at the water to avoid eye contact.

“Your parents will be worried you know.”

“I don’t have any,” he snaps, moving to stand up and huffing when the boy helps him.

If he won’t leave him alone Kyungsoo will just have to ignore him and keep walking up stream.

“That’s a fancy ring you got there. Bad marriage send you running for the hills?” the boy questions, grabbing at his hand and inspecting the ring.

Kyungsoo scowls, slapping the boys arm and pulling his own back to his chest.

“How are you even married, you look like you can’t be older than twelve.”

Kyungsoo flushes, glaring at the boy, “I’m seventeen,” he snaps, growing more irritated by the minute.

The boy looks shocked, staring at him before laughing in his face and shaking his head.

“No. You have to be at least fifteen. You don’t look that old. Besides, you aren’t very tall. No seventeen year old is that short.”

Kyungsoo glares, the boy is not much taller than him to be talking. He huffs, turning his head and refusing to look at the boy.

“And even then. You’re not old enough to be married.”

Kyungsoo keeps his mouth shut, not knowing what to say. He isn’t old enough to be married. No one gets married until they’re eighteen. He bites his lip and hopes the boy just drops the questions and leaves him alone.

“Well, if you’ve run away then you must be hungry. There’s food at the orphanage,” the boy tells him, giving him a smile and Kyungsoo fidgets in his spot, staring at him and feeling his stomach start to grumble.

Kyungsoo flushes when the boy actually hears it, his thin lips pulling into a knowing smile. Kyungsoo expects to get made fun of, maybe get called fat like he usually does but the boy just tugs on his arm.

“C’mon then. Wouldn’t want the snakes to get you.”

Kyungsoo looks down at the water in fear and then sighs, following after him and wincing as his feet walk over grass and twigs and dirt. They walk up a hill and then Kyungsoo sees a large home in the distance surrounded by other smaller houses. It must be a village, he supposes.

“That’s the orphanage, the food isn’t great, but it’s something at least,” the boy comments, tugging him along and then pulling him through the doors.

Kyungsoo is overwhelmed by the smell. It’s not pleasant and it has his nose wrinkling in distaste as he looks around at the place. It’s dirty and cold, and very loud.

“You get used to the smell. We take turns bathing, no one is dumb enough to bathe in the stream. Those snakes will kill you know, you’re lucky you didn’t get bit,” the boy tells him, leading him to a dining hall with several long tables.

Kyungsoo is overwhelmed by the amount of children, from toddlers to boys who look well into their teen years. There’s so many of them.

“C’mon,” the boy sighs out, tugging him into a line.

Kyungsoo keeps his grip on Pan tight, looking around and wondering how so many people live in a place this small. It’s no bigger than the library at the castle.

Kyungsoo is too busy staring around to realize the boy has grabbed two bowls and is trying to find a place to sit until he gets his arm nudged.

They sit at one of the tables in the corner with a wobbly leg, the seats are hard and unbalanced and Kyungsoo finds it impossible to sit without worrying he’s going to fall.

Looking down at the food his hunger suddenly dissipates, his lips curling up as he stares at something that looks like the cake he threw up early this morning.

“What? Expecting steak and chicken? You’re at the wrong place for that,” the boy tells him with a smile, picking up his spoon and eating whatever it is he’s staring at.

“It taste horrible, but it’s food.”

“You eat this every day?” he questions, taking a sniff of it and fighting back a gag. Even Pan doesn’t seem interested in it.

“Every meal, every day. On your birthday you get fish though,” the boy replies, shrugging and taking another spoonful.

Kyungsoo flinches when several other boys sit at the table with their own bowls and several cups.

“Who’s he?” one of them questions, staring at him for a brief moment before taking a bite of his food.

“The dog found him in the stream. I go out looking for some edible food and find a boy and a dog instead,” the boy replies easily, giving him a smile before turning to the boy on his right.

“Hear anything interesting in the village today?”

“There’s some royal guards a village or two over, apparently the prince is missing,” the taller boy says over a mouthful of food.

Kyungsoo frowns at his table manners, but it seems none of the boys at the table know how to chew with their mouths closed. Kyungsoo would have gotten smacked if he ever ate like the boys are eating now.

“Prince Jongin?”

At the name Kyungsoo goes rigid, not daring to look over at the boys that are talking.

“No, his husband or something,” the boy grumbles, food flying out of his mouth and landing on the table.

Kyungsoo stares at it in disgust.

“They only got married a day ago and he already fled? Must have been a horrible wedding night,” one of the boys blurts earning several laughs.

Kyungsoo frowns, not understanding and accidentally looking up at them in confusion.

“It means the sex must have been bad,” one of them tells him bluntly, looking at him in an amused fashion. “You brought one of those innocent church boys here?” he questions the boy who helped him who just shrugs.

Kyungsoo flushes, avoiding looking at anyone and staring at the table instead. It’s vulgar and improper, he feels his ears burning. Especially when he is the object of discussion between these orphan boys. It’s as bad as the gossip he used to hear between the maids.

“What was his name again?” someone questions, so Kyungsoo hesitantly looks up.

“I don’t remember. Do something or another.”

“Kyungsoo,” he finds himself speaking up, gaining the attention of everyone at the table.

He flushes, putting his head back down and clinging to Pan.

“His name is Kyungsoo,” he says softly, biting his lip and watching as Pan wiggles in his lap until he’s content.

“You from near the palace?” the boy who started the conversation questions, looking at him while he chews his food like a horse.

Kyungsoo doesn’t say anything, just shrugs and then looks back down at his lap.

“Either way, you know what they say about that family?” someone whispers, leaning onto the table with his elbows propping him up.

Kyungsoo looks up curiously, the only gossip he ever heard was back home. It was mostly about the villagers though, occasionally the maids talked about one another, or about him.

“King Do wasn’t even the rightful heir,” the boy states quietly, and Kyungsoo almost opens his mouth to argue but keeps it shut instead, not wanting to draw attention to himself again.

“He had a brother who died mysteriously, they say they never found the body,” the boy whispers, looking smug about his story and Kyungsoo finds himself unable to contain the laugh that escapes his mouth.

“That’s a load of shit,” one of the boys announces and everyone lets out curses of agreement that make Kyungsoo shut up immediately, eyes widening at their language.

“What, no it’s not! Kibum said he heard it from his grandfather’s friend or something!”

“You’d be wise to keep your mouth shut. Telling stories like that will get you in trouble,” someone warns the boy who is pathetically eating his food now.

Kyungsoo stares at him before looking up at the boy who brought him here in the first place who is talking to the boy to his right. Kyungsoo wants to ask his name, but he knows the question will be redirected to him and he doesn’t know what to say.

Instead he replays the story the other boy just told in his head, wondering how people come up with such blatant lies. Kyungsoo doesn’t have an uncle. He never had an uncle.

His father became King a little while after he was born. He of course doesn’t remember it. But he had seen pictures of his grandfather, one of his teachers had remarked that he inherited his wide eyes but, that can’t be right.

Kyungsoo isn’t related to them. His father isn’t even his father. Why would he look like a man that isn’t his grandfather?

“Are you not going to eat?” the boy questions him, pointing as his bowl and Kyungsoo shakes his head, too preoccupied to even attempt to eat the slop that these boys are fed every day.

His head is too full, piecing together bits of information and he just wants it to stop. He just wants to be alone right now.

“I need to leave,” he states, moving to get up the same time the door to the hall opens loudly.

Kyungsoo flinches, Pan jumping out of his arms and rushing over to where a pack of dogs are rushing in along with the royal guards.

Once he’s spotted they rush over to him, causing a scene and immediately getting on their knees to bow to him.

“Your highness are you alright?” one of them questions, looking him over for injury.

Kyungsoo shifts uncomfortably, not liking all the attention.

“I hurt my head, but I’m fine,” he replies, biting his lip and sparing the boy who helped him a glance and noting how his eyes look like they’ll pop out of his head any moment now.

“He helped me,” he states, pointing him out as politely as he can, “You’ll reward him right?” he questions, more sternly this time.

The guard look taken back, but he nods his head. “Of course, your highness.”

Kyungsoo nods, “I…want to go home now,” he mumbles, walking forward and towards the doors where Pan is fighting for attention from the older dogs.

They all follow him out of the orphanage and then Kyungsoo can only stare with wide eyes at the horses.

He remembers the white one from earlier that morning, and turns towards the guards closest to him.

“I want to ride back on that one,” he voices, nervous because he’s never even pet a horse before, let alone ridden one.

The guard looks at the horse and then back at him with a frown, “That’s Prince Jongin’s horse…he is not known for being nice to strangers,” the guard replies carefully.

Kyungsoo glares. “I wasn’t asking,” he states sternly, because apparently, he is a Prince, an important one too.

The guard flushes, immediately bowing in apology.

“Of course, your highness.”

Kyungsoo hesitantly smiles.

--


Jongin forces himself to go eat lunch, although he has no real appetite. It’s been hours since Kyungsoo has been found to be missing and with each hour passing and still no word of him, Jongin starts to grow sick.

The hounds had caught his scent up until the stream about an hour away and then they lost it. Seungsoo had given Junyoung a look when the scout reported to them before walking away.

They’re still confident they can find him in one of the nearby villages but still, Jongin can’t help but worry.

Once Jongin has stomached all he can of lunch he goes to sit back in the front room where Seungsoo is at, worriedly gnawing at his lip.

“That’s Kyungsoo’s favorite spot,” he finds himself saying, not being able to count how many times he’s spotted Kyungsoo sitting there and reading a book.

“Is it?” Seungsoo replies, turning to look at him with a brow raised.

Jongin nods, shrugging his shoulder and pointing to his left.

“His favorite room is the front study. He goes there the most,” he mumbles, not knowing why he’s even talking about it.

To distract himself he supposes.

“I was going to tell him,” Seungsoo speaks up, “When Dongwan got back I was going to tell him.”

“Dongwan?” Jongin questions, growing confused because he wasn’t even aware his brother-in-law was gone. “What?”

“King Lee, your brother-in-law’s father, never cared for mine. He found him untrustworthy after he became King.”

Jongin nods, “Well he was right.”

Seungsoo laughs a little but nods his head in agreement, clearing his throat before continuing.

“It wasn’t until I was older did I realize it. Growing up there...,” he trails off, his brows furrowed and his hands clenched at his side. “You don’t know what it’s like to live with him,” Seungsoo finishes off quietly.

Jongin remains silent, because he doesn’t. Every time he visited he ignored all the things that made him uncomfortable. It wasn’t his place to judge then.

“I had an uncle,” Seungsoo states after a while, “Do you remember?”

Jongin shakes his head, brows furrowing in confusion. He doesn’t remember an uncle. But then again he only ever met Seungsoo when he was old enough to remember these things.

“I was four when he died. He and my father went hunting. There was a snow storm. They never found the body,” Seungsoo explains.

Jongin stands there silently, stunned at this revelation. Not once had he heard of another Do Prince before. Jongin always assumed King Do was an only child. No one ever talked about a brother.

“They searched for months. They never found him. My grandfather died a month after Kyungsoo was born. My uncle should have been King,” Seungsoo states turning to give him a look.

Jongin blanches, “Are you implying your father killed his own brother?” he questions incredulously, his voice barely above a whisper at the taboo of it all.

“I thought so, until yesterday. Kyungsoo said something that led me to believe otherwise,” Seungsoo replies.

Jongin moves to ask but gets cut off by Seungsoo who’s standing and rushing over towards the castle doors.

Jongin stands there too stunned to move, his eyes trail over to the door and his heart plummets to the floor when it isn’t Kyungsoo walking in, but Dongwan. He begrudgingly walks over when Seungsoo beckons him with his hand.

“Like I said, King Byun has never cared for my father. He jumped at the opportunity to help dethrone him.”

“Dethrone?” he questions, eyes wide as he stares at Seungsoo.

“You think I’d let him beat my mother and my brother and get away with it?” Seungsoo questions, “I may have been blind as a child but I’m not anymore. He deserves to be executed pending the results of his trial.”

Jongin can’t even breathe let alone reply to Seungsoo’s harsh words.

“Do Myungjin has been taken into custody by my father’s royal guard. All members of the royal counsel have been informed and are set to arrive at the Do castle tomorrow evening where a trial will be held,” Dongwan informs them.

“My mother?” Seungsoo questions, worriedly chewing on his lip again.

“She’s complying, my mother is with her right now to help her cope,” Dongwan replies.

Jongin watches as Seungsoo lets out a shaky breath of relief, his hands going to rub at his eyes.

“It would appear that Prince Kyungsoo is needed back at the castle,” Dongwan states, looking uncomfortable with Seungsoo starting to cry.

“Why is that?” Jongin questions for him, patting his friend on the back.

“There’s no King at the moment and your people won’t do well to one of my brothers taking charge,” Dongwan replies.

“I’ll go, I was expecting to head back today,” Seungsoo replies, sniffling slightly and rubbing his eyes again.

Jongin watches as Dongwan coughs awkwardly, scratching the back of his head.

“The thing is we checked the dungeons, like you asked. Technically, your brother should be the one in charge, not you,” Dongwan explains, giving them the closest thing to a smile.

“My brother,” Seungsoo states slowly, staring at Dongwan with wide eyes.

“His father is alive, but he’s not well. It’s only proper that his son be in charge right now,” Dongwan replies, shrugging.

“My uncle is alive?” Seungsoo questions incredulously, “How?” he blurts, looking confused and ready to faint any minute.

Jongin feels the same but gets distracted when he hears a commotion outside. Looking towards the windows he spots his guards walking up towards the castle. Jongin nearly sprints towards the doors, forgetting about Seungsoo and Dongwan and rushing to go see if Kyungsoo is back.

He stops awkwardly at the end of the steps, wondering if Kyungsoo even wants to see him. He hesitates going back inside, fidgeting and moving to turn around but then he spots a head of black hair and he freezes.

Kyungsoo is still in his pajamas, although they look almost unrecognizable now. They’re loose and look dirty, his pajama bottoms torn at the bottom and covered in dirt. He looks like he’s been through the forest, his feet cut up and dirty. He’s going to need a good long bath, he notes.

When Kyungsoo finally looks up at him he flinches, stopping dead in his tracks. The guards all give him a bow and so he turns to the one closest to him, waiting for answers.

“We found him three villages over. About four hours away.”

Jongin gapes, looking at Kyungsoo who’s fidgeting and pulling at his sleeves.

“Four hours?” he questions incredulously.

“He was in an orphanage, he said he wanted to come back home.”

Jongin nods his head slowly, looking down at Kyungsoo who is staring at him quietly.

“Okay,” he says softly, dismissing them all and continuing to look at Kyungsoo.

“Your eye is bruised,” Kyungsoo speaks up, pointing it out and he flushes, forgetting it even happened.

“Your brother punched me,” he replies, clearing his throat awkwardly and moving to cover it up before realizing how stupid that is.

Kyungsoo nods, biting his lip before moving to talk. “My half-brother,” he mumbles, looking up at him with furrowed brows. “Right?” he questions, his voice sounding so scared and so small.

Jongin nods dumbly, “Yeah, I suppose he is.”

Kyungsoo nods his head, looking relieved and letting out a tiny sigh.

“I rode your horse.”

Jongin’s good eye widens, looking towards the stables where he can see a guard ushering Kai back inside.

“He let you?” he questions incredulously, knowing any guard who gets assigned to his horse is usually being punished because he doesn’t take kindly to anyone but him.

“He bit your guard on the hand,” Kyungsoo replies, shrugging before twitching when Seungsoo yells his name in a scolding manner.

Jongin turns to see Seungsoo stomping up to them, a glare on his face that apparently scares Kyungsoo enough to drop to his knees and curl up into a ball, his arms covering his head.

Jongin moves to try and go comfort him but Seungsoo is quicker than he is and for a moment Jongin is scared Seungsoo is actually going to hit him, but instead he pulls Kyungsoo into a hug, scolding him for leaving while starting to cry.

Jongin takes a deep breath, feeling his own eyes start to prickle with tears he turns to leave, giving the brother’s their privacy and walking back into the castle.

Dongwan is there to greet him, looking about as emotionless as he always does.

“Is your husband alright?” he questions, his tone sounding concerned but his face doesn’t match. But that’s just how he always is. Serious until you set his little girl in front of him, and then he smiles.

“I’m not sure,” he replies honestly, not knowing what’s going to happen now that Kyungsoo is going to know the whole truth.

“Will he be alright?”

Jongin sighs, looking out the window and seeing Kyungsoo clinging to his brother.

“I think so,” he states, looking back at his brother-in-law. “You kept all of this from me. I want to know why.”

Dongwan clears his throat, shrugging nonchalantly before running a hand over his face.

“I didn’t think any of this was legitimate until I reached the Do’s castle and the King tried to flee. It’s beyond anything I’ve ever heard of.”

Jongin nods in understanding, still trying to believe any of this is real himself. What he thought was a simple arranged marriage ended up being a covered up conspiracy. It’s going to cause a riot amongst the other royals he knows. Alliances are going to be shaky after this. People could go to war because of it.

“Kyungsoo’s father, is he really alive?” he questions, not knowing how someone could spend over seventeen years in a dungeon. He doesn’t know how anyone could spend a day and not lose their mind.

“He’s malnourished and in need of intense care over the next several days. They were keeping him alive on purpose. It appears Do Myungjin was petty with his enemies.”

Jongin doesn’t miss how his brother-in-law is refusing to call him King anymore.

“He didn’t talk until we got him to a bed. Then he asked for his son,” Dongwan says quietly.

Jongin nods, rubbing his temples and taking a sigh of relief. Kyungsoo is back home safely. Kyungsoo’s father along with his brother and mother are safe now. Everything is fine, he tells himself.

“Jongin, do you think he will stay here?” Dongwan questions causing him to look up in shock, staring at his brother-in-law with glare.

“Excuse me?” he replies, his pulse picking up at the implications.

“He’s the heir to the throne now, his father, his real father is alive. Do you think he’s going to want to stay here with you?”

Jongin keeps his mouth shut, not knowing how to form a reply without admitting that no, he doesn’t think Kyungsoo will.

“I think you care about him more than you like to admit,” Dongwan states quietly, “And that you care for him more than he cares for you.”

Jongin glares.

“But Kyungsoo is capable of feeling just as much as the rest of us. I wouldn’t assume he doesn’t care about you.”

“What makes you say that?” he scoffs, rolling his eyes and wincing when it manages to hurt his eye that’s bruised up.

“He came back didn’t he?”

Jongin nods, swallowing thickly before watching Dongwan dismiss himself and walk out of the room.

Jongin supposes it wouldn’t hurt to hope, but he’s not sure if he should.

Chapter Text

It’s been two weeks since Seungsoo has left. Kyungsoo had calculated that it’s over three hundred hours since he last saw his brother. He left and Kyungsoo had cried, begged to go with him, but Seungsoo told him no.

Kyungsoo supposes it is better that way. He doesn’t know what is going to happen now though. His father, his real father, is alive. He’s doing well, is what Seungsoo wrote him this week. Although, his brother isn’t given him complete details about him. But he still can’t visit, things aren’t completely taken care of, he says.

Kyungsoo wants to know. He’s curious. Because he never knew an uncle; he never knew a father.

Kyungsoo wonders if he really does look like his father. He wonders if his father likes steak or chicken more. Kyungsoo wonders if his father knows how to ride a horse, because he can’t. Kyungsoo wonders if he would teach him.

Kyungsoo wonders if his father will like him.

Kyungsoo doubts it.

Sighing he sits up from lying on the couch in the front study, looking down at Pan who is sleeping peacefully by his feet. He’s growing. Kyungsoo noticed he’s almost the same size as one of his female siblings.

They’re teaching him how to hunt like the rest of the dogs, but Kyungsoo doesn’t appreciate siting outside in the garden only for Pan to come back with a dead rabbit or a squirrel.

Today it’s raining, so he can’t go outside and sit in the gardens or visit Kai in the stables. He quite likes the garden, he likes the flowers. He also likes the stables. The horses are all very interesting to look at. He hasn’t ridden one, too scared to almost fall off again like he did the first time when he came back to the castle.

But he likes to pet them, feed them sugar cubes and carrots if they’re hungry. He doesn’t care for the sheep. They make too much noise and he doesn’t like it.

He can’t go outside today though, the rain will just make him sick so he doesn’t chance it. Instead he’s reading inside the front study, the fire place keeping him warm.

He’s bored, already read this book several times. He has it memorized down to every last period and comma. He doesn’t know why he grabbed it from the library.

He could get up and go find another one, but he doesn’t want to get up and he can do whatever he wants now, Seungsoo said so. He doesn’t have to stay inside if he doesn’t want, he can go outside, eat as much chocolate as he wants.

No one is going to punish him.

His father is dead.

No, his uncle. His uncle is dead. They hanged him, Seungsoo told him, in the village square in front of the royal counsel.

They found him guilty of many things and then they did to anyone who severely broke the law. He was hanged.

Kyungsoo tries not to think about it, but he can’t help it. It’s hard to not think about.

He wonders if it hurt; if it hurt as much as it did when he got beaten.

Kyungsoo hopes it hurt.

He hopes it hurt more.

So, now he won’t get in trouble anymore. There’s no one left to punish him.

Kyungsoo takes a deep breath, squeezing his eyes shut and letting out a shaky breath. Sometimes it’s too overwhelming, his chest feels tight and his hands start to shake. It’s terrifying, knowing that he’s finally able to do something as simple as go outside without someone bearing down his neck.

It’s frightening.

Sighing he moves to sit up again, looking down at his feet and seeing Pan still sleeping peacefully. Kyungsoo reaches out, petting the top of his head softly before putting his hand back in his lap.

Hearing someone clear their throat he looks up, seeing Jongin standing awkwardly by the door.

“Yes?” he questions, sitting up fully and accidentally waking up Pan when his foot hits his paw. “Sorry,” he whispers before looking back up at Jongin and waiting for him to talk.

Jongin stares at him oddly before clearing his throat again, looking pink in his face, “We have company,” he tells him, ushering him to stand and follow so he does, setting his book down on the couch and letting Pan go back to sleep.

They walk towards the main entry, a couple of maids running about. Kyungsoo supposes they weren’t expecting company and he grows curious as to who is here.

He stops when they make it to the main hallway, growing confused when he sees a handful of people, all with the same silver crown on their heads.

He notices the pins on their clothes and freezes, grabbing Jongin’s arm who turns and gives him a look.

“Why are they here?” he questions hesitantly, not wanting to go anywhere near them.

The royal counsel is only ever called somewhere if you’re in trouble. Kyungsoo can’t be in trouble anymore. He didn’t do anything.

“You’re not in trouble,” Jongin says quietly, grabbing his hand and trying to pull him along. “They just want to talk to you.”

“I don’t want to talk to them,” he states loudly, trying to pull away but Jongin keeps his grip on his hand tight, pulling him along making him glare.

“You don’t have a choice,” Jongin replies, sighing and dragging him along.

Kyungsoo makes his annoyance known, crossing his arms stubbornly and waiting for them to talk.

“Prince Kyungsoo, it’s a pleasure to meet you. We apologize for the inconvenience,” the oldest looking one announces, his voice scratchy from age.

Kyungsoo shifts uneasily in his spot, looking over at Jongin and his parents and waiting for them to say something. When they don’t he looks back over at counsel and stares, fidgeting with his sleeves.

“Perhaps we could move into a room to sit?” one of the women questions.

Jongin’s mother is immediately nodding her head and leading them all to one of the room’s nearby. Kyungsoo trails behind everyone, wanting to go back to the front study to read. He doesn’t want to deal with whatever they came here for right now.

Once they’re all settled in a room Kyungsoo begins to chew on his nails, confused as to why they’re here and what they want to talk about. Seungsoo said he shouldn’t worry anymore and this is the exact opposite of worrying.

“Well there’s no reason to prolong this anymore than we have to, so we’ll just get to the matter at hand,” one of the younger men says.

Kyungsoo thinks he might have been at the wedding, but, the day is hazy and he can’t remember much.

“While we truly are amazed that your father is alive, it leaves us with some rather difficult decisions,” the woman says.

She’s the only female among them, she looks older than Jongin’s eldest sister. Her hair is a dark hazel color, her eyes wide and her lips aren’t nearly as full as he’s used to seeing.

“Decisions about what exactly?” Jongin questions.

Kyungsoo spares him a glance, noting that he’s sitting up as straight as a board in his chair. His brows are furrowed and his lips are slightly pouted. He seems concerned about this meeting. He probably cares about it more than he does.

“The counsel has uncovered a great deal about the deceitfulness of Do Myungjin. You’re aware of his treachery to be King, but, Prince Kyungjin was able to tell us more.”

Kyungsoo frowns, “Who?” he finds himself asking quietly, shrinking into his chair at the attention he receives for it.

A member of the counsel looks at him like the Kim’s used to, that same look they gave him when he used to say he wasn’t allowed to do something. He’s getting it again.

“You are unaware of your own father’s name?” he gets questioned, an incredulous look on the man’s face who asked him to begin with.

It only has Kyungsoo immediately shutting his mouth and putting his head down, gripping onto the chair and staring at his feet.

There’s an incredibly long moment of silence before someone clears their throat.

“It’s like we told you before, he wasn’t allowed to know much,” he hears King Kim comment quietly.

“Moving on,” someone announces after a short while, “Myungjin’s plot to become King started before we initially thought. Sumin was originally meant for Kyungjin to marry.”

Kyungsoo hesitantly looks up, knowing his mother’s name despite the fact that it was never said out loud much back at the castle. Kyungsoo never got enough time to spend with her, when he was allowed he liked it. She always hugged him, made him feel wanted, but then he stopped being allowed to see her. He didn’t get hugged after that.

“Myungjin was manipulative with her until he got what he wanted. The council has decided to annul their marriage, given the circumstances as well as how Prince Seungsoo was conceived.”

Kyungsoo nearly jumps out of his seat when Jongin flinches next to him, looking up with wide eyes and noticing how he’s clenching his jaw. He’s mad. Kyungsoo doesn’t understand why he’s mad.

“We do not condone adultery, but, we’re willing to turn a blind eye to Prince Kyungjin and Sumin, as well as Kyungsoo’s status as an illegitimate child of them both.”

Kyungsoo bites his lip, gnawing at it until it feels raw and then he stops, looking up and hesitantly speaking up.

“I’m not in trouble?” he questions softly, feeling his hand wanting to tremble out of nervousness.

“You did nothing wrong, your highness,” the woman tells him in reply, giving him a smile that puts him at ease, his pulse slowing down and his stomach calming itself.

“Prince Kyungjin’s coronation will take place at the end of fall. He is making a speedy recovery, given the circumstances and should be able to take his rightful place as King earlier than we expected. Prince Seungsoo is overseeing the changes that are being implemented in their territory. The old staff at the castle have all been fired, some imprisoned for their treachery as well. Prince Kyungsoo is welcome to return home once his brother has made sure everything is taken care of for him.”

Kyungsoo freezes, looking up with wide eyes at their words.

“Go back?” he questions, confused at this new information. “But we got married,” he adds on, not being able to overlook the gold ring on his finger.

Kyungsoo spares Jongin a look, noticing how he doesn’t seem the least bit surprised about this information. He looks like he was expecting it, like he knew beforehand what this was all really about.

So Kyungsoo doesn’t understand why he looks so sad.

“While we initially approved of your wedding, it appears we gave permission under false pretenses,” the eldest one says wisely, clasping his hands together. “While we are aware that King and Queen Kim only had Kyungsoo in their best interest, Myungjin did not. This was but a mere cover up to make sure Kyungsoo never found out about his true lineage. On top of that, it is unlawful for an uncle to decide who a Prince should marry.”

“You two are officially married. But, Kyungsoo is not of age. It is his father’s right to want the marriage annulled. If he should ask, we can do nothing but obey his wishes. However, if he leaves the choice up to Kyungsoo, we would not intervene. More importantly Kyungsoo will be eighteen in no less than three months. If a decision has not been made for him by his father by then, it will be up to him.”

Kyungsoo fidgets in his seat, taking in all this new information silently. He never thought about going back home. He assumed he never would.

He had no reason to.

He supposes now he does, but, Kyungsoo doesn’t think his father will want him there. Why would he?

“Can I go finish reading my book?” he questions, not wanting to listen to them anymore.

Once he gets a nod of approval he awkwardly stands up, biting his lip before turning around and heading back to the front study.

Pan is still there, sitting in the little nook near the window so Kyungsoo joins him. The rain is making the glass fog, so Kyungsoo draws on it. Writing his name and then putting his hand back in his lap.

Sighing Kyungsoo gets up, grabbing the book from the couch and moving to sit back next to Pan who paws at the window, whining lowly.

“You can’t go outside, it’s raining,” he informs the pup, opening his book and going to the first page, because although he’s read it a thousand times, he’d rather read it one more time than deal with a stupid council.

When Pan tugs on his pants he frowns, “I told you to stop doing that. I said no, you can’t go outside.”

Pan barks at him three times before whining again, tugging on his pants again causing him to huff.

“All you’re going to do is kill something and bring it to me. I don’t want to look at a mangled squirrel today,” he voices sternly, pulling his legs away from the pup.

“You’d rather talk to a dog than talk to actual people?” someone questions making him twitch, nearly dropping his book onto the floor.

Kyungsoo looks up, seeing Jongin standing in the doorway with a frown on his face.

Kyungsoo shrugs, looking at Pan who is hopping off the pillow he was sitting on to go sniff at Jongin’s feet.

“Yes.”

Jongin makes a face, looking down at Pan before looking back up at him.

“You’d rather talk to a dog than talk to me,” he says after a while. It isn’t a question, but Kyungsoo answers anyway.

“I’m talking to you right now,” he replies, shrugging before messing with the frayed edge of the page he’s on in the book.

“You’re replying to me, you’re not talking to me,” Jongin denies, sitting on the couch with a loud sigh.

Kyungsoo rolls his eyes, looking down at his book and flipping the page. “I’m opening my mouth. Words are coming out. If this isn’t talking then you can leave,” he states plainly.

He reads over the pages he’s on and then moves to turn to the next, eyes widening when a hand snatches the book away from him and tosses it onto the floor. Pan barks, chasing after it and picking it up.

Kyungsoo looks up with wide eyes as Jongin takes a seat in front of him and gives him a look.

“You don’t read while talking to someone. It’s rude.”

“And throwing my book isn’t?” he questions angrily, holding his hand out and waiting for Pan to deliver it to him.

“I gently tossed it onto the floor,” Jongin replies, giving him a smile that only further annoys him.

Kyungsoo sighs when Pan refuses to hand him his book, instead laying on it while sitting near the fire place and panting happily.

With nothing left to occupy himself with he crosses his arms over his chest and stares out the window, watching the rain droplets slowly slide down the widow. He used to do this all the time as a child, see how long it took for one droplet to reach the window pane.

“We’ve only been married for two weeks,” Jongin says after a while.

Kyungsoo nods, staring at the raindrop that is slowly making its way down the window.

“I don’t mind it,” Jongin says so Kyungsoo spares him a glance, frowning at the amount of fidgeting he’s doing. “Being married. Just so you know.”

Kyungsoo isn’t sure what kind of response Jongin is expecting, so he settles with none, going back to stare at his chosen raindrop.

“You can stay here, if it’s what you want. But, if you want to go back, permanently, that’s okay too,” Jongin mumbles out.

Sparing him a glance Kyungsoo notices he’s staring at Pan, biting on his lip with a concentrated look on his face. When he looks back at him he gives a tentative smile, one that doesn’t quite reach his eyes. He supposes it’s supposed to make him feel better or something like that.

“My father won’t ask me to stay,” he states simply, ignoring the confused frown Jongin sends him. “He will meet me and send me back here. It’s simple. I’m not the type of son any King would want. I don’t know why this is even a discussion,” he dismisses, “I’ll go back and then return once he realizes how incompetent I am. You’re awfully dense if you don’t already know that.”

Once Jongin makes no move to reply, Kyungsoo assumes the discussion is over and he settles against the pillows that are arranged in the nook he’s sitting in. He grabs a blanket and prepares for a nap. He’s tired, more than just physically, his mind is tired too.

He’s tired of all the discussion about him. He doesn’t want to deal with any of the mess his father, uncle, left behind. He wants to take a nap.

“Your father won’t feel that way,” Jongin says quietly after a while.

Kyungsoo peeks out from beneath his blanket, watching the elder get up.

Kyungsoo decides to humor the elder if anything, “How do you know?” he questions, sitting up a little and watching the elder pause near the door, shrugging while messing with the chipping paint on the frame.

“Father’s always love their sons,” Jongin replies easily before taking off.

Kyungsoo sighs, rolling his eyes and getting barked at by Pan.

“I’m still not going outside.”

Kyungsoo ignores Pan’s whine and proceeds to continue trying to nap.

Chapter Text

A month after Seungsoo leaves, Jongin receives a letter from one of their messengers while attending a meeting with his father.

It’s only been two weeks since the council visited them. Since then Kyungsoo has been spending his time ignoring anything to do with talks of marriage and his father.

Jongin tries to mention it and Kyungsoo tells him to shut up. He actually tells him to shut up, Jongin can’t get over that. It’s baffling, a little funny to be told to shut up by Kyungsoo, but it’s just not normal.

He supposes he should be happy Kyungsoo is actually telling him what to do instead of just ignoring him.

Today it’s sunny outside, so Kyungsoo is probably in the gardens and since a letter has come for him, he has to go see if his suspicions are correct.

Walking outside he’s greeted by the cool fall air, the sun high in the sky causing him to squint as he starts to walk towards the right, past the fountains and towards the botanical section of the garden.

It’s where Kyungsoo usually sits. Just the other day Jongin found him sitting in the middle of the garden with a basket. Kyungsoo had picked one of each and every flower in the garden and was looking it up in a book.

Jongin doesn’t know why, maybe the boy is bored. Or maybe he’s simply choosing to distract himself with pointless things to ignore the fact that so much has happened within the past four weeks.

Jongin suspects it’s the latter.

“Good afternoon,” he greets, watching as Kyungsoo looks up from his book with wide eyes.

“Hello,” Kyungsoo replies, looking back at his book and turning it around with a smile on his face. “This is a water lily,” Kyungsoo states seriously before turning the pages and then pointing at another flower. “And this is a lotus. I thought they were the same but they aren’t.”

“That’s um, interesting,” he replies, not really seeing the excitement over flowers. “You know, if you liked flowers so much you could have picked the ones for our wedding out.”

Kyungsoo’s nose scrunches up at that, his head shaking in an obvious displeased manner.

“If you cared so much about the wedding you could have picked the flowers too. But you let your mother do it, right?” Kyungsoo questions, turning his book around and looking up at him with a brow raised.

Jongin flushes, “My mother likes flowers more than me. Apparently you do too,” he finishes, shrugging before moving to take a seat in front of the boy.

He has a botany book with him, his brows furrowed as he reads. Jongin takes the letter he received earlier and puts it in his line of vision, cutting off his view on the book.

“A letter came for you. From your brother,” he states, watching as Kyungsoo takes the letter from his hands and sets the book down.

“I know how to read, I can see that,” Kyungsoo mumbles, opening up the seal and staring at it for a while before taking the letter out and placing the envelope down gently before starting to read.

Jongin hesitantly reaches over and grabs the book, getting a look from Kyungsoo before he goes back to reading his letters.

Looking at the book he sees Kyungsoo has bookmarked several pages by folding the upper corner of the page. He’s mostly bookmarked pages with lilies, tulips, and the lotus. Since those are the only three he has bookmarked, Jongin supposes those are his favorite.

“My brother asked about your eye. He wants to know if you still look like you got stung by a bee.”

Jongin blushes, glaring at nothing in particular, “I do not look like I got stung by a bee. You can tell him I said that.”

“I’m not supposed to lie,” Kyungsoo replies easily, continuing to read his letter and it takes Jongin a moment to process what he’s said. But when he does he gapes.

“Are you making fun of me?” he questions incredulously, eyes wide when Kyungsoo looks up at him with the straightest face he can probably pull off right now.

“Not at all, your highness,” Kyungsoo states.

“You’re messing with me, I’m not sure if I like it,” he grumbles, crossing his arms over his chest after he sets Kyungsoo’s book down.

“Well I’m going to go back with Seungsoo when he comes back. He should be here in a week he says. So if you don’t you won’t have to put up with me for much longer,” Kyungsoo says quietly, setting the letter back into his envelope and thumbing at the remaining wax on the seal.

Jongin’s smile drops, “Oh…that soon?”

“He says my father wants to see me as soon as possible. I can’t imagine why,” Kyungsoo grumbles, picking the botany book back up and opening up to a bookmarked page.

“Well, he’s your father of course he wants to—“

“Can I have my own pond?” Kyungsoo questions, cutting him off impolitely.

Jongin sighs, about to open his mouth up again to scold him for it but Kyungsoo doesn’t let him.

“There’s plenty of space here. Since you’re my husband you’re supposed give me gifts. I want a pond. If you want to be a good husband you’ll have it ready by the time I come back from seeing my brother,” Kyungsoo announces, gathering his things and moving to stand up.

“Are you asking me or telling me?” he questions, standing up and trailing after Kyungsoo. Briefly he wonders where Pan is at.

“I’m asking for a pond. I’m telling you I want something by the time I come back,” Kyungsoo replies, stopping when he gets to the end of the garden, rubbing his nose.

“But if you don’t come back I’ll have built a pond for nothing,” he says exasperatedly.

Jongin doesn’t get why Kyungsoo is acting like he’s going to come back when it’s obvious as day he won’t. Kyungsoo’s father has been adamantly clear that he wants to see Kyungsoo. He isn’t going to want to send Kyungsoo back. You don’t spend almost two decades in a dungeon and then finally get to see your own son, only to send him away.

Once Kyungsoo realizes how much different things are, how he’ll be able to spend time with his brother and his mother without having to be afraid he’ll get beaten because of it, he won’t want to come back either.

“I already told you, he’s going to send me back here,” Kyungsoo states indifferently, shooing a bug away from his face.

Jongin lets out an irritated groan, “You’re ridiculous!” he finally shouts, making Kyungsoo flinch and drop his book.

“Can’t you get it through your thick head that your father is going to want you to stay? Do you really think he’s going to hate you? He’s your father, he’s going to love you,” he states sternly, letting out a tiny huff when he’s done.

Jongin watches Kyungsoo’s face for any kind of reaction, but he doesn’t get one. Like always, Jongin can’t understand what’s going on in the younger boy’s head. Nor does he get any visual reaction from him.

Jongin could tell Kyungsoo the sky is purple and Kyungsoo would just continue to give him the same blank look.

“Fine, I’ll humor you,” Kyungsoo says after a while, moving to pick up his book. “I’m going to go back home, I’m not going to come back. Our marriage will be annulled and you’ll go pick out some pretty princess to marry. I’ll have to endure another boring wedding so, I want something to do while I’m here. I want to be able to look at a pond with lotus flowers.”

Jongin sighs, watching as Kyungsoo tucks his letter underneath his arm and hands him the book he was reading earlier. He takes it silently, deflating when Kyungsoo turns on his heel and starts to walk back towards the castle.

Hearing a bark he looks up, seeing Pan carrying something towards him and growing nauseated when a small dead mouse is dropped near his feet. Pan sits obediently and wags his tail, panting happily.

“Your owner is the most infuriating person I’ve ever met and you are too good of a hunter for being a runt,” he says with a loud sigh, shaking his head and heading towards the stables.

A nice long ride through the forest will clear his head of dead mice and pointless ponds.

Chapter Text

Growing up in the palace, Jongin often played alone. He had no brothers to sword fight with or race in horseback riding, so more often than not, he enjoyed the company of no one other than himself.

Although there were princes his age, it was not like they stayed for weeks at a time. It was usually for a day or two and Jongin got to play with them before he went back to attending classes or playing with toy figurines all by himself.

He found a friend in Seungsoo, one of the few princes he knew not to be airheaded or stuck up. Although it was rather odd to see him dismiss his brother, or not see his brother at all. Jongin, although ten years younger than Jini, eight younger than Jinhee, was never dismissed or ignored by them. They treated him as though he was their younger brother, teased him, and coddled him when he was sick. They never ignored him.

Jongin ignored all the oddness that was the Do family, looking back on it, he knows he had reason to find them so unnatural.

Seungsoo was his closest friend. They talked about things any teenage boy would talk about. Horses, training with their swordsmen, girls. Most of Jongin’s questions about the opposite sex were directed towards Seungsoo, who was far more interested in them than Jongin was. It never mattered though, because Jongin knew he was engaged, and to a boy no less.

It never bothered him. When Seungsoo asked one day, when they were sixteen if it made him uncomfortable or if he would have preferred a girl, Jongin had shrugged nonchalantly. He wouldn’t have minded a girl, but he didn’t prefer it.

If he had a fiancé as nice as Seungsoo was, then he would be okay, he remembers telling the elder. Seungsoo had laughed and made a joke about them getting married to piss his father off, since he was the Crowned Prince after all.

His friendship with Seungsoo was like this until they both came to the realization that Jongin would end up marrying a Do. Except it wasn’t Seungsoo, but his little brother.

Their friendship waned after that. Jongin felt like he didn’t have a friend to confined in anymore.

But Jongin does have Junyoung.

Junyoung was everything Jongin could have ever asked for in a brother. He was a good fighter, he was funny and quite often spent time with him rather than with Jini. But more importantly, he treated his sister with the kindness she deserved, and never has Jongin heard of him trying to assert some kind of dominance over her. Junyoung respects his sister, doesn’t care that she will be Queen and he just her King, he seems content so long as he has her by his side.

And that is why Jongin is going to him for advice, and not his father, nor Seungsoo. Dongwan is out of the question. Jongin has serious doubts about whether the elder is even aware that he looks about emotionless as a statue to everyone but his wife and daughter.

Jongin can only go to Junyoung about the lump in his throat that won’t go away. How it only just appeared the moment Kyungsoo said he would go, he wouldn’t come back. Although his husband had said it because he was basically forced to, hearing it out loud, from Kyungsoo’s mouth had his stomach dropping pitifully.

Jongin doesn’t understand it. Because Kyungsoo is so infuriating that time away from him will certainly lower his stress and he will able to sleep in his bed again.

So Junyoung can answer his questions, he can set his mind towards where it needs to be so he can see clearly.

Knowing that Junyoung usually spends his time sparring with Dongwan at this time of day, he goes to the far left of the castle where the training rooms are.

Jongin remembers being no older than six when he got handed his first wooden sword. As his father’s only son and a third born, Jongin was expected to one day takeover his father’s army if anything should ever happen to him.

Although he is nowhere near being King, the head of his father’s army is what he will get passed down to him. Should they ever go to war, he will be a captain of the highest group of knights. Should they ever go to war without his father, he will be the one giving orders.

He was trained to be efficient with a sword, he excelled at it quickly and sometimes if he’s lucky his father will indulge him in a fight. The last time he won and his father had looked so proud, he remembers the day perfectly.

The practice rooms have nothing but good memories, despite all the hard work and injuries he got from striving to be the best and make his father proud.

It seems fitting that Junyoung tells him he’s a dense fool in a place where he is the least likely to lose his temper, ironically.

“When your sister first told me you were thick headed, I thought she meant physically. I never took you for someone so oblivious,” Junyoung laughs out, wiping his damp forehead with a handkerchief and shaking his head.

“I’m not thickheaded,” he denies stubbornly. He supposes that doesn’t make him look any better.

“You really haven’t noticed that you’ve grown attached to a boy you’ve seen almost every day for the past several months, and yet you deny it,” Junyoung tells him pointedly, his cheeks flushing in embarrassment.

“I’m…attached,” he reiterates the elders words, feeling them roll off his tongue oddly.

“It was inevitable. You spent so much time getting that stubborn boy to look at you. Of course you’re upset he’s going to leave. I would be ashamed to call you my brother if you weren’t,” Junyoung says a little bit more calmly now, more seriously.

“This isn’t how a marriage should be,” Jongin says after a while, picking at the frayed edges of his shirt, “I’m used to looking at my mother and father, at you and Jini and seeing that you’re together, always. A marriage isn’t supposed to end. I feel like I’ve failed. That I’m incompetent at having a marriage,” he admits softly.

The lump in his throat feels worse.

“I’m sorry you feel that way,” Junyoung says after a while. “But you should know that it takes an honorable man to try as hard as you are.”

Jongin scoffs lightly, fidgeting and moving to tug on the lent in the carpet they’re sitting on.

“A regular person would have given up on Kyungsoo a long time ago. If you were an ordinary boy you would have decided a long time ago, getting your marriage to work, getting Kyungsoo to at least be civil with you, was a waste of time,” Junyoung replies easily, running a hand through his sweat damp hair.

“The least I could do was make my marriage work, for my mother and father. They’re the ones that wanted this in the first place,” Jongin informs the elder. “I wouldn’t be a good son if I didn’t try.”

“No, you wouldn’t be a good person if you didn’t try. But you are. You’re one of the best people I know, and I mean that.”

Jongin flushes, not used to being praised. Even if he is royalty.

“You tried your hardest, but, Kyungsoo, no matter how hard you try, you can’t fix what’s been broken beyond repair.”

Hearing his words, Jongin feels slightly hurt, because he knows Junyoung is right. All the patience in the world couldn’t force Kyungsoo to be as normal as anyone else he might have ended up with. It’s time he lets himself admit that, and quit putting the blame on his own shoulders.

“It’s not your fault. He’s been through so much, he’s in no position to be anyone’s husband. He thinks he’s a burden no matter where he goes. Growing up, being told to keep your mouth shut, being told you aren’t important, sooner or later you start to believe it.”

“I wouldn’t know what its like,” Jongin replies softly, never once in his life being treated like he wasn’t even worthy of being able to breathe. Like it was some kindness that he was even alive at all. He was always treated like he mattered, regardless if he was a prince or not.

“It’s not fun, for starters. To have your father say you were a mistake every day of your life. To have no one even deny it, I’d imagine that’s worse.”

Jongin frowns, suddenly feeling like they aren’t just talking about Kyungsoo anymore.

“A mistake?” he questions hesitantly, afraid to hear the answer.

“You’re very naïve,” Junyoung replies softly, “I envy it. You fail to see evil in people until it’s shoved in your face. Do you think that Myungjin is the only person to ever be a horrible father?”

Jongin can’t force himself to reply.

“Being the fourth born child, it was rather unlucky on my part. My father was superstitious on top of being a drunk. My parents had already had all the children they wanted, and then I came along. If I hadn’t had my siblings, or my mother, I would suppose I’d still be better off than Kyungsoo was.”

“You never said anything,” Jongin says quietly, feeling his chest hurt realizing what Junyoung is saying.

He supposes he is a bit thickheaded, highly naïve. He didn’t realize he was beyond the luxury of being a prince. He has a loving father on top of it.

“It doesn’t make for good gossip. Even to this day though, I find it baffling that your sister chose me. On my worst days I feel probably what Kyungsoo feels like on his best,” Junyoung admits, giving him a reassuring smile, “Don’t pity me. The world isn’t a perfect place. I’m lucky, I had people to reassure me I wasn’t a mistake, or that I was worthless.”

Jongin frowns, “Kyungsoo didn’t.”

Junyoung sighs, “No. He did not. But he has his father now. Seungsoo as well. He has people that can show him how he should have been treated.”

Jongin nods his head silently, sighing lethargically and looking up at his brother-in-law who is resting on his back now.

“You aren’t going to tell me I have feelings for him?” he questions skeptically, expecting it to be the first thing the elder said to him.

Junyoung laughs, his chest moving up and down quickly, “The world is not black and white, Jongin. Caring for someone and loving someone, being in love, they aren’t all the same thing. You can have one without it meaning the other.”

“He’s like a child, I hardly find that romantic,” Jongin admits, not being able to even imagine it. “I care about him like I care about you or his brother.”

“We all care about him. We all love him, it’s nothing to get your feathers ruffled about Jongin.”

“People insinuate though,” he huffs childishly, remembering their wedding day and growing frustrated with the amount of people he had to fake a polite smile to when their suggestions and insinuations went too far for him to be comfortable.

The romantic suggestions didn’t bother him nearly as much as the inappropriate bed talk did. However, he wanted to laugh at anyone who truly thought they moved the wedding up because they were madly in love. Jongin had nearly laughed in one of his aunt’s faces at the implication.

“People talk, they gossip, I’d think you’d be used to it,” Junyoung replies nonchalantly, sighing loudly before covering his eyes with his arm.

“I don’t like people thinking I’m taking him to bed,” he huffs out irritably, feeling his ears heat up in embarrassment.

Junyoung lets out a boisterous laugh, clutching his stomach when he continues for over a minute. It does nothing to amuse Jongin, who, is still very red in the face.

“You’ll die a virgin before you get him into a bed!” Junyoung wheezes out, like it’s hilarious meanwhile Jongin is left to realize, he’s right again.

“I hardly find this funny,” he grumbles out irritably, watching as Junyoung continues to wheeze.

Jongin is just about to throw the nearest rag at him when he hears little feet pattering along the floorboards.

Looking up he sees Joohyuk rushing over with a bright smile on his face.

“Daddy!” his nephew shouts before jumping on top of his father causing Junyoung to grunt loudly.

Jongin smiles at the tiny look of pain on his face, satisfied with his nephew.

“What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be at your writing lessons,” Junyoung sighs out, watching as Joohyuk smiles and shrugs his shoulders, looking around with wide eyes.

“Can I play?” Joohyuk questions, his vocabulary starting to extend and his ability to form sentences quickly improving.

“When you’re older, c’mon now. Your teachers are probably at their wits end with you,” Junyoung sighs out, picking the child up and Jongin smiles, waving goodbye to his nephew.

“Wait!” he calls out, jumping up and rushing after them, Joohyuk giggles at him before burying his face in his father’s neck.

“Yes?” Junyoung questions, giving him an amused look.

Jongin sighs, begrudgingly forcing the words out of his mouth.

“What do you know about building a pond?”

Junyoung stares at him blankly for several seconds before finally giving him a judging confused look.

“A pond?” he questions, like he doesn’t understand, which, he doesn’t.

Jongin sighs, “Kyungsoo is convinced his father won’t like him and he’ll be sent back here. I can’t manage to convince him he’s wrong. But, if he is right, he’s going to be upset when he comes back and he said he wants a pond. So I’m going to build him his stupid pond, because he’s about as stubborn as my horse.”

“That’s romantic,” Junyoung teases making him glare, his cheeks heating up.

“I would punch you if you weren’t holding my nephew,” he snaps, crossing his arms stubbornly.

“It was a joke, you really need to learn to relax. But a pond takes a lot of work, are you sure it would be worth it?”

Jongin shrugs, reaching out to pinch Joohyuk’s cheek when the boy starts stick his tongue out at him for his own amusement.

“I’m not sure, but he was very adamant on me doing it either way.”

“I like him bossing you around,” Junyoung comments making him flush, “But we could discuss it with your father. Joohyuk would love to draw you a picture for reference, right son?”

Joohyuk instantly perks up, “For hyung?” he questions, looking very eager when his father nods his head in confirmation. “Yes, I have new crayons,” Joohyuk informs him.

Jongin nods, “Okay then. We’ll all build a pond,” he confirms, giving a wave and turning around.

Joohyuk waves back, looking up at his dad and tugging on his sleeve, “What’s a pond?” he questions.

Chapter Text

After spending several hours searching for a perfect spot to build a pond, with his father’s permission of course, Jongin is tired and sweaty. Despite the cooling temperatures, walking around for long is enough to make him sweat, so he bathes. Once he’s done and toweling his hair dry he goes back to sit on the bed, shrieking when Seungsoo is there to greet him.

“Do you just invite yourself into my room any chance you get?” he scolds, sighing as he picks up his towel and ignoring the laughing Seungsoo is doing.

“I was looking for my brother,” Seungsoo replies once he’s calmed down.

Jongin notices he’s looking towards the bathroom with suspicious eyes and he blanches, throwing his towel at the elder as hard as he can.

“He isn’t in there! Who do you think I am?” he all but shouts, starting to get annoyed with how overprotective Seungsoo has become when he could have cared less a year ago.

“I was told he would be in his room,” Seungsoo replies plainly, walking past him to check the restroom despite his earlier denial.

“I do not bathe with him,” he bites out, grinding his teeth together when Seungsoo turns around and smiles at him.

“Well then where is he?” Seungsoo questions, walking towards their window and looking outside.

“He’s probably reading in the garden,” Jongin replies, knowing Kyungsoo was outside the last he saw of him.

They had just finished lunch together in the dining room when Kyungsoo said he was going to go read a book in the garden. Jongin had then taken it upon himself to walk around the entire estate and pick the best spot for a pond.

He found a spot to the far left of the front of the castle, a place where the sun was constantly shining but was cool enough that there would be no problem during the summer.

When he came inside for a cool bath he wasn’t expecting to see his brother-in-law waiting for him like some royal guard. Besides, Seungsoo wasn’t supposed to be here for another three days.

“You’re here early,” he mumbles, picking up his boots and beginning to lace them since it’s apparent he’ll be going outside again.

“My…uncle,” Seungsoo replies, pausing at the unfamiliarity of the word, “Wants to see his son. He’s very stubborn.”

Jongin clears his throat, “Sounds familiar,” he mutters softly, letting out a sigh as he heads out of his and Kyungsoo’s room and towards the stairwell.

“I told him it would be best if he waited a while longer, but he can be quite persistent,” Seungsoo informs him, walking by his side as they go down the stairs.

“How so?” Jongin asks, crossing his arms over his chest and trying not to think about the fact that Kyungsoo will be gone by the end of the day.

“He said he’d refuse his medicine if I didn’t leave today,” Seungsoo says honestly, letting out a tired sigh. “My mother is with her sister’s. It’s just him and I most of the time. He’s nothing like…Myungjin.”

Jongin doesn’t comment on it, still not used to hearing the name but not wanting to ask about it. If Seungsoo doesn’t want to call him his father anymore, Jongin has no problems with it.

“You have aunts?” he questions instead, never seeing any sort of family at the Do castle, even during Seungsoo’s seventeenth birthday. Perhaps that was because of his father.

“It would appear so,” Seungsoo answers, following him outside and towards the garden.

Jongin hesitantly leads him to the spot Kyungsoo most frequents, between the lilies and the tulips and lone and behold he’s sitting there silently reading his book. Jongin really doesn’t want to bother him, he gets very into his books, but he has to. He wasn’t expecting him to leave today, so he can’t help but be a little sad.

“Kyungsoo?” he calls out quietly, watching as the younger boy still manages to get startled, looking up and spotting his brother.

Jongin is honestly surprised to see him not smile, instead his lips pressed together in a tight line and his brows furrow.

“It hasn’t been a week yet,” Kyungsoo says quietly, standing up and holding the book he’s carrying to his chest.

“I know I’m here early, but I figured you wouldn’t mind,” Seungsoo replies, giving him a hesitant smile that Jongin tries not to get offended by.

Jongin is a little surprised that Kyungsoo doesn’t return it, instead he glares.

“You told me a week,” Kyungsoo reemphasizes, looking like he’s about to start throwing a fit. Jongin would know, he’s usually the one that causes them. “You told me a week. It has not been a week yet.”

Seungsoo grows concerned. “Kyungsoo,” he starts only to get cut off.

“I haven’t told Joohyuk!” Kyungsoo shouts, his voice cracking and his eyes immediately welling with tears. “I haven’t, I haven’t told him yet. He’s going to hate me I haven’t told him yet,” Kyungsoo rushes out, his breathing getting borderline erratic and when he drops his book to start gnawing on his nails, Jongin knows he has to intervene.

Sighing he gently tugs Kyungsoo’s hands away from his mouth, pulling the shorter boy into a hug and rubbing his arms soothingly.

“Joohyuk won’t hate you,” he whispers, hearing Kyungsoo hiccup miserably, “He’s going to be sad but he won’t hate you,” he emphasizes, frowning when he notices Seungsoo walking back towards the castle.

Once Kyungsoo has finished crying and doesn’t look like he’ll start up again, Jongin loosens his grip on his hands.

“Why don’t you go find him and you can tell him,” he suggests, looking down and seeing Kyungsoo give a tiny nod.

“Can I take Pan with me?” Kyungsoo questions hesitantly, looking down to see the pup sniffing at their feet.

“Oh….of course,” he replies dumbly, letting go of the younger boy entirely and watching as he picks his puppy up and then starts to walk out of the garden.

Knowing that Kyungsoo has never actually had a breakdown with Joohyuk present, Jongin sets off to find Seungsoo instead, angry that at the first sign of tears he just up and walked away from the ordeal.

When he finds him he’s speaking with his father so he has to wait until they’re done. They speak for several minutes before his father says he has other business to attend to and then it’s just them two.

Jongin doesn’t feel bad when he punches the older Prince on his shoulder, getting a yelp followed by a slew of curses unfit to be coming out of a prince’s mouth.

“What did you do that for?” Seungsoo shouts, looking ready to give his other eye a punch.

“If he’s crying you don’t just get to walk away from him!” he snaps, inching away just in case Seungsoo really does retaliate.

“You looked like you had it under control,” Seungsoo replies, begrudgingly rubbing at his arm with a wince.

Jongin frowns, “I’m not going to be there. You have to take care of him now,” he replies sternly, watching as Seungsoo starts to bite on his lower lip, a habit Kyungsoo has when he isn’t gnawing away at his own nails.

“You didn’t have to punch my arm. You could have just told me,” Seungsoo mutters, giving him a passive glare before letting out a tired sigh.

“Consider it payback for my eye. The swelling just went down, so you know,” he huffs.

“You punched my mouth, in case you’ve forgotten,” Seungsoo throws back at him causing him to blush.

Jongin coughs awkwardly before turning to hide the smile he’s sporting, turning back around once he’s composed himself.

“Where is Kyungsoo going to sleep in the castle?” he questions, wanting to know exactly how much Seungsoo has planned for this.

“The room across from mine. If he wants to sleep in his old room that’s his decision.”

“Pan is allowed in the castle?” he asks, knowing that a dog inside the castle isn’t quite ordinary. Kyungsoo is probably going to be overly attached to him when he’s there.

“They’re allowed in the kitchen?” Seungsoo replies with furrowed brows, looking at him in confusion.

Jongin almost laughs. “Pan is his puppy. He takes him to every meal, is he allowed to have his puppy with him?” he explains, sighing when Seungsoo’s eyes light up.

“Oh. Of course. My uncle, I don’t think he will care.”

“You’ll take care of him?” he questions, although he knows he doesn’t need to. He just wants to hear Seungsoo say it.

“I will,” Seungsoo says softly, giving him a look before they lapse into silence.

“Okay then,” he ends up replying.

It takes over an hour for Kyungsoo to explain to Joohyuk that he’s leaving, that he won’t be there when Joohyuk wakes up tomorrow morning. The poor boy doesn’t understand, when he does he cries for over thirty minutes until Kyungsoo takes the crown off his head and places it down on Joohyuk.

“You can take care of it for me while I’m gone,” Kyungsoo had told him, only then did Joohyuk’s tears stop.

Jongin really doesn’t know what to say to Kyungsoo when it does come time to say goodbye. A hug seems too personal, not hugging him makes it seem like he doesn’t care. He ends up standing awkwardly next to his husband as Seungsoo and his father talk quietly off to the side of the carriage.

“I picked a spot for your pond,” he says, pointing to the small area he decided on, “I’ll build it over there.”

Kyungsoo looks over towards where he’s pointing and his nose twitches like he might sneeze. “You are going to build it?” he questions skeptically, eyeing him with a frown.

Jongin nearly rolls his eyes, “Well I have nothing better to do,” he mutters, shrugging and crossing his arms over his chest as the wind picks up. “I can build a pond. I’m not a child,” he adds on, as if he has to explain himself to Kyungsoo.

“Joohyuk wants me to send him pictures,” Kyungsoo sends after a moment of silence. “I don’t know how to draw.”

“Well neither does he,” he offers, knowing that Joohyuk’s drawings usually consist of stick figures and a lot of different shapes scattered all around.

“Do you want your ring back?” Kyungsoo questions suddenly, catching him off guard.

Jongin stares at him before his eyes trail down to his left hand where his ring rests on the appropriate finger.

“You keep insisting that I won’t come back. Do you want it?” Kyungsoo clarifies, taking it off easily and moving to hand it back to him.

Jongin feels insulted that it’s even being offered.

“We’re married until someone says we aren’t. Keep it,” he eventually replies, pushing Kyungsoo’s hand away and then turning to see Joohyuk rushing up to them, the crown on his head tilting and threatening to fall.

It’s too big for him, but when someone suggests he take it off he glares and says no. He begs to be picked up by Kyungsoo who does as he wishes, smiling gently when Joohyuk gives him a hug.

“You’re going to draw me pictures?” Joohyuk questions, playing with the collar of Kyungsoo’s shirt.

“Yes.”

“You pinky swear?” Joohyuk pesters causing Kyungsoo to immediately look confused. “I don’t know what that is.”

Jongin snorts, getting glared at by his husband who then turns his attention back to Joohyuk who explains it to him by grabbing his hand, moving it around until he’s able to link his own pinky finger with it. Kyungsoo still looks confused after it’s said and done.

“We should leave now Kyungsoo,” Seungsoo says once he’s finished talking with his father.

Jongin sighs, watching as Joohyuk instantly deflates, looking close to tears. Being the closest he moves to pick him out of Kyungsoo’s arms, setting him in front of his legs, the boy not even reaching his waist yet.

“You can visit Kyungsoo any time you like,” Seungsoo tells him, Joohyuk’s eyes widening in glee.

He gets so excited he rushes to give Kyungsoo’s legs a hug, his cheek smooshing into his leg.

“I love you, hyung,” Joohyuk declares, beaming up at the elder.

Jongin smiles, tugging Joohyuk back to his side and looking up only to see Kyungsoo is not having the same reaction as him. He looks shocked, if Joohyuk were still in his arms, Jongin has no doubt that he would have dropped him.

Jongin’s smile fades when he realizes Kyungsoo’s probably never heard the word before. At least, never directed to him.

“Kyungsoo promises he’ll draw you pictures, we have to go now,” Seungsoo speaks up, giving them a strained smile before leading a silent Kyungsoo inside the carriage, Pan having to be grabbed as well. The elder gives one last wave before he too is inside and the door is closed.

It isn’t until the carriage is but a tiny dot in the horizon does Jongin feel someone on his hand. Startled he looks down, seeing Joohyuk giving him a disappointed look.

“You didn’t tell him goodbye,” he huffs, fixing the oversized crown on his head while continuing to stare at him.

“I guess I didn’t,” he realizes, blinking dumbly.

“It’s okay to be sad, daddy said so,” Joohyuk mumbles, gently tugging him back towards the castle.

“I’m not sad,” he denies, although he knows it’s far from the truth. The truth is, he is sad. Just slightly.

Joohyuk stops, turning to give him a frown. “It’s bad to lie. Hyung said so.”

Jongin finds himself laughing despite himself.

The rest of the day goes by quickly. Jongin almost doesn’t notice the difference. It isn’t until dinner does he realize Kyungsoo isn’t there. He moves to call a maid only to realize that Kyungsoo is no longer in the castle.

At night it’s even more obvious. He can sleep in his own bed again. The small couch he’s occupied for most of Kyungsoo’s stay is just decorative now.

He sighs, moving to get into bed and pausing when he notices a book left behind underneath the pillow Kyungsoo used.

It’s a hardcover, the binding black with silver lining. When he opens it he’s surprised to see it’s a book of various little fairytales and fictional stories. It’s a children’s book, Jongin notes. Flipping through it he sees it worn and some of the pages look like they’ve been wet at some point.

With nothing better to do and no one to talk to, Jongin decides to read.

Chapter Text

When they arrive back at the castle it’s dark. Kyungsoo is startled awake by a hand on his shoulder. He twitches as he wakes up, momentarily forgetting where he is before he sees Seungsoo’s face.

The door to the carriage is open and Pan is sniffing the air, tail tucked between his legs as he stays in the buggy.

“C’mon, before you get cold,” Seungsoo mumbles, helping him up and out onto the pavement.

Kyungsoo tiredly reaches out and picks Pan up, looking around and barely being able to see because it’s so dark. There are torches lit up the pathway towards the front doors that help, but everything else is pitch black.

Seungsoo leads him towards the front, a hand on his lower back until they’re by the front doors. Kyungsoo stares at them as long as he’s permitted until they’re open and the view is turning into a familiar sight.

The inside looks the same. Just as clean and immaculate as it was when he left. But, the banners are different. They still hold the Do crest but are no longer the same color they once were. They’re a royal purple color now, accentuated with silver lining.

Kyungsoo releases a held breath, looking around and being struck motionless. He spent almost the entirety of his life here, he doesn’t have one pleasant memory of the place.

He wonders if the library is open or if his sheets are still on his old bed.

It feels numbing to be back.

“Are you tired?” Seungsoo questions, snapping him out of his thoughts.

Kyungsoo shrugs, knowing even if he is, sleep won’t come easily tonight. Or any night for that matter.

“I set up a room across from mine for you, but if you want to go to your old one, that’s fine as well,” Seungsoo informs him, reaching over to pet the top of Pan’s head.

Kyungsoo mentally sighs, “When am I going back?” he questions.

If he’s given an allotted time maybe this will be easier. He can have something to look forward to. He hates this place; is only here out of obligation to his father.

“What do you mean?” Seungsoo replies, pulling his hand away when Pan whines and hides his head.

Kyungsoo sighs out loud this time, “When am I going back to the Kim’s?” he clarifies, looking up at his brother with a frown.

When he doesn’t reply quickly Kyungsoo grows uncomfortable, not thinking that Jongin was serious when he said he wouldn’t be coming back.

“I’m not a Do anymore, I’m married. When am I going back home?” he questions again, growing impatient with Seungsoo’s lack of a response.

“I don’t know Kyungsoo. It’s not up to me, I’m not your father,” Seungsoo replies with a huff, looking annoyed so Kyungsoo shuts his mouth, clinging to Pan.

“I’m going to bed,” he eventually mutters, turning around and making the familiar walk towards the fifth floor. He’s always lived at the highest floor, in the farthest room to the right.

Opening the door he’s not surprised to see nothing has changed. The curtains are drawn back, the only light illuminating the room is from the moon. But even then, Kyungsoo can tell nothing has been moved.

Walking in he closes the door behind him after setting Pan down to explore. The room isn’t big, only a dresser and a bed occupying it along with his small restroom. It smells the exact same and his bed feels just like it did when he left.

Pan whines until he picks him up and sets him down on the bed.

“I want to go home too,” he says quietly when Pan lies down miserably on his pillow.

But, Kyungsoo knows he never gets what he wants.

He doesn’t sleep well that night, falling asleep only to awake with a start every couple of hours. Pan sleeps better than he does and by the time the pup is awake for the day Kyungsoo hasn’t even managed to sleep long enough to dream.

Sighing he lies in bed, the familiarity setting in too quickly for his liking. It’s almost as if the last several months haven’t happened. He’s back in his bed, the same dull feeling looming in the pit of his stomach.

When Pan hops off the bed to scratch at the door Kyungsoo lets out a tired sigh, sitting up and slipping on at least a pair of socks before leaving the room, not bothering to change.

He leads Pan back to the bottom floor, going towards the front doors. There are no guards anywhere and Kyungsoo has yet to see a maid.

He doesn’t think anything of it when he lets Pan outside to do his business, sitting at the front steps and leaning on the doorframe.

His eyes feel heavy, burning from the lack of proper sleep, so he closes them for a moment.

Hearing a loud crash behind him he flinches, nearly falling down the steps as he whorls around with widened eyes.

He gapes when he sees a servant surrounded by a large bucket and scattered pieces of coal, the floor around covered in black ash.

Kyungsoo’s eyes nearly pop out of his head when he hears the spew of curses coming out of the boy’s mouth as he moves to pick everything up. He’s never even heard some of them before.

When Pan barks the boy nearly starts flailing around, looking up with an equally surprised face. He flinches when Pan rushes up to him and starts sniffing around his feet at the coal he dropped.

“Who are you?” the boy questions once he’s composed himself, not bothering to continue picking up the coal he dropped.

Kyungsoo shifts uneasily, biting at his lip and clearing his throat. None of the old servants ever asked him anything. If they did it was just to make fun of him. So he keeps his mouth shut, pressing his lips into a tight line.

“Well since you won’t answer, why don’t you stop standing there and help me?” he questions, giving him a tiny glare making Kyungsoo frown.

Sighing he moves forward, picking up a piece of coal and dropping it into the bucket it was originally in. He does this for several more minutes, the amount of coal the boy was carrying is probably why he dropped the bucket in the first place.

“Kyungsoo what are you doing?” a voice questions suddenly making him flinch, looking up to see Seungsoo standing near the stairs with a baby bundled in his arms, his eyes trailing over to the servant who looks up with wide eyes.

Kyungsoo awkwardly stands up, shrugging and looking down to see the servant boy staring very intently at the last piece of coal on the floor.

“Pan scared him, so I was helping pick up the coal,” he lies, looking up to meet his brother’s gaze.

He’s used to lying for the servants and the maids, because more often than not somehow they would turn something they did into something he did. He would get set to his room without dinner a lot when he was younger. Not that the food was great to begin with, but Kyungsoo is used to at least eating three times a day now. He doesn’t want to skip a meal his first day back.

“Oh. What are you doing awake? It’s still early,” Seungsoo replies, bouncing the bundle in his arms when it starts to make noise.

Kyungsoo stares at him, realizing that Seungsoo is probably only awake because of his baby. They wake up really early, Kyungsoo remembers, from seeing Rahee. Sometimes Jongin would take her from the nursery and play with her before her parents were even awake. Kyungsoo would be woken up early because of it.

“I couldn’t sleep,” he replies, shrugging before looking down at the ash covered floor.

The servant is still in the exact same position, staring at the last piece of coal but not moving a single muscle.

“You should go back to bed. It’s still too early for breakfast,” Seungsoo says after a while, dismissing himself and going back up the stairs.

Once he’s gone Kyungsoo walks forward and plucks the one piece of coal off the floor and plops it into the bucket.

“Where are you carrying that to?” he questions, suddenly remembering that Seungsoo told him last night in the buggy that all the old servants and maids were fired. They had to hire new ones, so he supposes he didn’t really have to lie before.

“The kitchen, your highness,” the boy grumbles, not meeting his eye.

Kyungsoo wonders if he was even trained properly to serve in the castle. Most people spend a long time just knowing how to act around royalty before they’re even allowed to set foot into the castle.

Of course, Kyungsoo never got treated like royalty until he got to the Kim’s. The maids and servants were always mean to him regardless before he left.

“Do you know if there’s fruit? I’m hungry,” he states, getting amused when the boy quickly nods his head and starts to scurry off in the direction of the kitchen as best he can while holding onto the coal.

Kyungsoo lets Pan trail after him through the castle, watching as he stops to sniff at something or someone new. They’re all new to Kyungsoo who isn’t able to spot one familiar face among all the servants that arrive inside the castle.

“Over there,” the servant mumbles once they reach the kitchen, pointing towards a table with several bowls of fruit.

Kyungsoo smiles, walking over and looking at the apples and oranges, trying to find one he likes.

He doesn’t care for the green apples and the smaller oranges he always finds too tart as well. The large ones are always sweet though, so he grabs one of those.

Realizing that his nails are of no help to peel it he looks around, seeing no one he sighs and grabs an apple instead, biting into it and frowning at the bitter taste.

His nose scrunches up as he fights his way through it, eventually finishing it. Once he’s done he looks around for Pan, frowning when he doesn’t see him.

Getting up from the stool he’s sitting on he goes in search for his puppy, realizing he should probably at least get ready for the day and change out of his pajamas. But he doesn’t want to leave Pan to wander around.

Hearing a bark he travels towards it, peering around the corner to see several people along with Pan.

Kyungsoo frowns, walking up to them hesitantly. There’s two servants, one bent over giving Pan a belly rub and then there’s someone else leaning against a crutch. When he notices the crown on his head, it becomes obvious.

“Who let a dog into the castle?” is the first thing Kyungsoo hears from his mouth.

His voice is deep, but scratchy and when he goes into a coughing fit, Kyungsoo supposes he has a cold. The dungeons were never exactly a place anyone was concerned with heating.

“He’s mine,” he finds himself saying without even realizing. He flinches when they all end up looking up at him.

Kyungsoo instantly regrets it, not liking the attention one bit. He immediately starts fidgeting, staring at his socks and finding them much more interesting.

Hearing shuffling he hesitantly looks up, flinching when he realizes he’s moved closer. Not knowing what to do Kyungsoo just stands still, eyeing his father skeptically. He doesn’t look much like his brother.

“I believe we’ve met before, do you remember?”

Seeing him up close Kyungsoo notices the slight wrinkles around his eyes. He’s tall, taller than Kyungsoo was expecting. He was sitting last time he saw him, so he never really thought much about how he would probably be taller than him.

But height aside, one thing is very obvious.

“I look like you,” he says softly, even though he spends as little time in front of the mirror as necessary, the resemblance is there.

Even without giving it much thought, Kyungsoo knows he looks like him.

“Like me and like your grandfather,” his father corrects, giving him a smile that Kyungsoo can’t force himself to return so he nods, shifting awkwardly and looking down at his feet again where Pan is.

Wanting something to hold Kyungsoo kneels down and picks him up, although it’s starting to get harder to carry him around now. He’s slowly growing each and every day.

“What’s his name?” his father questions, reaching out to pet his head.

Kyungsoo notices the bandages on his wrists, his stomach feeling queasy at the memory of his own being bruised and sore from one day in cuffs. He can’t imagine what they look like after seventeen years.

“Pan,” he forces out, swallowing the lump in his throat and tightening his grip around his puppy.

“Peter?”

Kyungsoo immediately look up with wide eyes, surprised at the response. No one has gotten the reference except for Joohyuk. Kyungsoo can’t help but smile, quickly nodding his head.

When Kyungsoo was younger he had found a book full of fairy tales and children’s stories. He spent hours in his room reading them over and over again. When he was sad he read his favorite ones, often cried wishing fairytales and happily ever after’s were real.

But, Kyungsoo isn’t a child. He grew up. He knows they aren’t anything but stories.

“Do you like to read?” his father asks, leaning onto the crutch at his right side.

Kyungsoo shrugs one shoulder, “Sometimes.”

Half the time it was all he was allowed to do, so Kyungsoo doesn’t really know if he genuinely likes it, or it’s just what he’s used to doing.

“Am I allowed in the library now?” he finds himself questioning. All his favorite books are in there, he hasn’t gotten to read them in so long. He misses his favorite books.

“Why wouldn’t you be?” his father replies, looking at him with a frown.

Kyungsoo shifts uncomfortably, looking around and hoping for someone to pop up and take over talking for him. But no one appears. It’s just him and his father.

“I…misbehaved, so he locked it up,” Kyungsoo replies quietly, staring down at Pan’s fur instead of looking up.

“He locked it up,” his father reiterates plainly, so Kyungsoo nods, setting Pan down when he grows to be too heavy. “That hardly seems appropriate.”

Kyungsoo doesn’t tell him about how he was misbehaving. Surely if he knew then maybe he wouldn’t be saying what he is now. Kyungsoo deserved it, for being rude. Even his own father would probably think that.

But the memory only reminds him of one thing.

“When am I going home?” he questions, looking up curiously. Seungsoo said it wasn’t up to him, but his father. So Kyungsoo asks.

He grows uncomfortable, even more so, when his father starts to frown and look confused.

“Go home?”

Kyungsoo supposes he wants an answer, he certainly looks like he does, so he clears his throat, gripping the edge of his night shirt.

“With the Kim’s,” he explains, “I don’t think my husband would want me gone for too long,” he half-lies, flinching when he hears a noise of surprise.

“Husband?” is father questions incredulously causing him to slowly back away.

Not knowing what to say Kyungsoo keeps his mouth closed, already feeling like he’s spoken too much. Anymore and he’ll probably get in trouble. Kyungsoo’s pulse picks up because his father doesn’t look like it was even a thought in his head.

For the first time Kyungsoo starts to believe maybe Jongin was right. He won’t be going back.

“Uncle, you’re awake!” Seungsoo suddenly voices, making him flinch in surprise, looking over at his brother in relief.

Kyungsoo immediately rushes over to his brother, ducking his head and hiding behind his taller frame, clinging to his shirt.

“Kyungsoo, what are you doing?” Seungsoo whispers, amusement in his voice but Kyungsoo finds the situation anything but.

“I think I made him mad,” he whispers back, not daring to peek around Seungsoo to see.

“I’m not mad,” he hears his father state from where he’s at. It does nothing to settle the uneasiness in his stomach.

Kyungsoo dares to sneak a peek, seeing his father still in the same spot where Pan is sniffing at his feet. He can’t move that quickly, Kyungsoo realizes, the crutch does a lot to slow someone down. It’s probably why he didn’t get hit, he assumes.

“I’m just surprised your brother didn’t inform me that you’re married. He only mentioned an engagement.”

Kyungsoo feels Seungsoo go stiff in front of him, curiously he peers up at his brother to see him blushing.

“Are you in trouble?” he whispers, tugging on Seungsoo’s sleeve when he doesn’t reply right away.

Seungsoo twists so that they’re facing one another, the smile on his face giving him some bit of comfort, but not much. Kyungsoo won’t be able to rest until someone tells him when he’s going back home.

“No, I’m not in trouble.”

Kyungsoo nods, stealing a glance at his father who is staring at Pan with a smile.

“He won’t hit you?” he questions sternly, moving to bite his nails again.

Never. Why don’t you get changed for breakfast?” Seungsoo says softly.

Kyungsoo sighs, not feeling very hungry in the least bit. But he does need to change.

“He won’t tell me when I’m going home,” he replies quietly, not liking the look Seungsoo gives him. “I am going home, aren’t I?” he questions a bit more sternly, resisting the urge to gnaw at his nails yet again.

“Of course, we’ll talk about it after breakfast,” Seungsoo replies hurriedly, turning him around and giving him a gentle push towards the stairs. “There should be a warm bath for you. Why don’t you bathe and then come eat.”

Kyungsoo nods his head dumbly, feeling the reality start to set in, because he can’t shake the feeling that Seungsoo is lying to him and that means Jongin was right. He won’t be going back.

Chapter Text

Jongin quickly realizes that sleeping on a bed is far harder to get used to than he thought. He doesn’t have to sleep in uncomfortable angles and his blanket is a lot thicker than the one he’s used to using on the couch.

He also quickly realizes his bed smells like the soaps Kyungsoo uses. A lot like lilies and something else he can’t quite pinpoint. Maybe sandalwood. Every time he lies down for bed the smell instantly invades his nose.

When he can’t sleep, which is quite often nowadays, Jongin ends up reading the book his husband left behind.

Just from the wear and tear on certain pages Jongin can easily tell which Kyungsoo’s favorites were. He feels his stomach flop unhappily when he’s finally able to realize the little damaged parts of the book are in fact from water, but more specifically, probably from tears.

It makes him feel worse than he originally did the first day Kyungsoo wasn’t there. Jongin wasn’t able to pick up on his absence right away, in fact he forgot about it the first day only to realize at breakfast.

During the day he has the thought to go see what Kyungsoo is doing, only to realize he couldn’t find out even if he wanted to. Kyungsoo isn’t there.

Jongin didn’t realize how attached he had become over the several months Kyungsoo was there until now.

Even if they weren’t constantly together, even if Kyungsoo didn’t always acknowledge him, he was still there. Eventually he would see him.

If his family notices the difference they don’t comment on it, going about their days almost as normally as they used to. Sometimes Jongin dares to ask his father if he’s heard anything from Seungsoo or Kyungsoo’s father, but he just shakes his head.

It’s been well over a month when Jongin is finally told news of his husband, whom he forgets is even such, and it’s from Joohyuk.

He had been in the front study, sitting boredly on the couch while skimming through Kyungsoo’s book when Joohyuk had burst through the doors. It had nearly startled him into shrieking, but he only managed a twitch instead.

“Hyung drew me a puppy!” was the first thing Joohyuk shouted at him, looking so excited Jongin could probably tell him he wouldn’t be allowed dessert and he’d still smile.

He barely had time to sit up properly when Joohyuk climbed onto the couch and settled onto his lap. Joohyuk shoved the drawing in his face with a pleased giggle and then looked at him expectantly.

Jongin really didn’t know what he was expecting to see, considering Kyungsoo said he didn’t know how to draw, but the picture Joohyuk receives was anything but proof of that.

Because Kyungsoo can draw. Incredibly well at that.

“Are you sure Kyungsoo drew this?” he questions, completely in awe with the lifelike drawing of what Jongin assumes is Pan.

“He wrote me a letter,” Joohyuk boasts, handing it over with a pleased smile and then taking the picture back from him to hug it to his chest.

Jongin smiles, pinching his nephew’s cheek before looking down at the letter to read. He’s yet again surprised by Kyungsoo, his handwriting nearly perfect. It’s almost immaculate, Jongin’s own is messy at best.

His eyes skim over the words, seeing that Kyungsoo is saying he misses Joohyuk and hopes he’s doing well. He talks about Pan growing too heavy to lift, saying that maybe Joohyuk wouldn’t recognize him since he’s so big. He mentions that there were a couple of books on art that helped him draw the picture, that he hopes Joohyuk likes it.

It’s not a long letter, rather more like a note to go along with the drawing. Jongin can’t help but feel irrationally jealous.

Jongin hasn’t gotten one letter from Kyungsoo.

“Daddy said I can visit him soon,” Joohyuk informs him when he hands back the letter.

“He did?”

“His daddy is going to be King, like grandpa,” Joohyuk replies, nodding his head and moving to lie down in-between him and the couch. “Are you coming too?”

Jongin frowns, not hearing anything about a trip down to the Do’s.

“I don’t know,” he replies just in time for Junyoung to walk into the room.

“Have you seen…oh, never mind,” his brother-in-law dismisses, seeing his son and smiling. “Did you show your uncle the picture Kyungsoo drew for you?”

Joohyuk is immediately nodding his head, sitting back up and smiling brightly.

“Is Jongin hyung coming with us to visit?” Joohyuk questions, looking at his father with questioning eyes.

“I didn’t know I was invited,” Jongin states plainly, crossing his arms over his chest and frowning.

“Why wouldn’t you be invited to your father-in-law’s coronation?” Junyoung questions, sitting at the edge of the couch and taking the letter from Joohyuk and folding it back into its envelope.

“Kyungsoo hasn’t written me,” he replies, shrugging nonchalantly, trying to keep the bitterness out of his tone.

“Really? He writes to Joohyuk every week,” Junyoung comments and it only makes him even bitterer than he was before.

“I guess he must really like Joohyuk more than me,” he comments, pursing his lips.

“Maybe if you worked on his pond he would like you more,” Junyoung laughs out causing him to flush.

Jongin has been working on the pond, when it’s not too cold outside. Sometimes Joohyuk sits outside with him and just talks his little head off. It’s more work than he thought it would be and today, it’s raining, so he’s not outside.

“Anyway, his coronation is next week. We’ve been invited of course. I assume you’ll want to go see how your husband is doing,” Junyoung informs him, standing and stretching his arms over his head.

“I would know how he was doing if he bothered to write,” Jongin huffs, glaring at his brother-in-law when he laughs.

“Jongin, have you tried writing to him?” Junyoung questions smugly, looking at him like he’s a child causing Jongin to turn bright red in the cheeks.

“I, well, no, but,” he blabbers, shutting up when he has nothing to say.

“Then how on earth is Kyungsoo supposed to know you’re expecting him to? He made a promise with Joohyuk before he left. Did you ask that he write you?”

Jongin frowns, looking at the floor and shaking his head childishly.

“No.”

Junyoung smiles, “Well then what exactly are you upset about?”

Jongin, who has nothing to say, lets out an aggravated huff. Not wanting to give Junyoung the satisfaction at scolding him he manages to find something to complain about.

“He lied. He said he didn’t know how to draw,” he mumbles, watching as Junyoung rolls his eyes.

“Be that as it may, I would try to stop moping around the palace and think of a way to start courting your husband if you want him to remain as such.”

Jongin gapes, “I beg your pardon?”

“Well, if his father doesn’t like the way you treat him, I assume by the time you leave your marriage is going to be annulled. If not, Kyungsoo only has about a month left to decide if he wants to stay with you before he can chose himself,” Junyoung explains easily, toying with Joohyuk’s hair as he sits in his lap.

“Unless, you don’t want to be married anymore, then by all means, continue to mope,” Junyoung adds on, giving him a cheerful smile before saying Joohyuk needs to go back to his lessons before lunch.

When Jongin is left alone he groans, flopping back onto the couch and reopening Kyungsoo’s book. He hadn’t even thought about their actual marriage, and how it was in jeopardy this entire time. He was more focused on the pond, how his bed feels uncomfortable now, how he has no one to bug anymore.

He completely forgot that it could be permanent, even though he was telling himself so before Kyungsoo left.

Jongin supposes Junyoung is right, but ultimately, it’s not up to what he wants. If Kyungsoo doesn’t want to be married, all the courting will be for nothing. Jongin doesn’t even think Kyungsoo would know what he was even doing. It would just go over his head.

Sighing he gets up with the intent to go back to his room and begrudgingly write a letter.

Chapter Text

Kyungsoo starts his day as normally as he always does. He wakes up to Pan whining to go take care of his business. He manages to at least put on shoes before he takes Pan outside and lets him pick a spot.

By the time he’s done Kyungsoo is awake and when he returns to his room gets ready for the day. When he manages to finish and go downstairs breakfast is ready.

The breakfast is different than it once was. It taste better, probably because of the new chef they hired.

The staff are all different as well, down to the last stable boy. None of them glare or gossip about him. Although, the first one he met tries to stay as far away from his as possible. Kyungsoo doesn’t know why.

When breakfast is done Kyungsoo is made to sit in on whatever business his father has to do that day. He sits in a study, in a comfortable looking velvet chair while Kyungsoo sits wherever he pleases.

Kyungsoo doesn’t know why he’s made to sit with him at all times, but he does it. If he doesn’t he really doesn’t have much to do but sit in his room and Kyungsoo doesn’t want that. All the memories of before come back to him and he feels panicky.

He can’t afford to feel such while he’s surrounded by people who don’t know how to help calm him down.

Hearing a knock on the door Kyungsoo thinks nothing of it, focusing on his book about art. It’s full of shapes and poses and other thinks alike. Kyungsoo feels anxious knowing Joohyuk probably got his drawing by now. He didn’t feel the least bit confident about it.

“Kyungsoo,” he hears his father call out so he looks up at him, following where his hand is raised at to see the servant boy Kyungsoo is almost positive does not like him.

“It appears you have a letter,” his father explains, so he nods, holding his hand out and watching as the servant nearly runs out of the room after a quick bow once he’s done what he came to do.

Kyungsoo frowns, looking down to see that this isn’t a letter from Joohyuk like he was expecting. The handwriting is different, but it is for him.

Confused he opens up the letter, breaking the wax on the envelope to get it out. He scans it at first, squinting to try and make out who it’s from. He nearly drops it when he realizes.

“Another letter from Joohyuk?” his father questions quietly, like he often does. He asks him questions throughout the day. Kyungsoo really doesn’t understand why he bothers with it sometimes.

“No,” he replies softly, biting his lip and bringing it up closer to his face so he can see the writing clearer.

Jongin has terribly small handwriting.

Hearing his father clear his throat he looks up, blushing when he realizes he was expecting a reply further than that.

“It’s from Jongin,” he mumbles, watching his father’s face.

“It took him over a month to write you?”

Kyungsoo shrugs, biting his lip and looking down at the letter he has yet to read properly. He doesn’t know what to reply with at that statement. He can’t deny it, and he can’t defend Jongin either.

“Your brother said it was arranged, yes?” his father questions, turning to face him fully.

Kyungsoo nods his head, not understanding what that has to do with anything.

“He also said it was by your request that the wedding be moved up,” he states and Kyungsoo feels himself growing agitated.

“And?” he questions impatiently, not liking how he just won’t state what he’s trying to say.

“I just assumed that it was because you were infatuated with him.”

Kyungsoo scoffs, “That’s a naïve thing to assume,” he huffs out, directing his attention back to the letter to read in hopes he’s left alone.

He’s not rewarded with such because his father gets up, slowly makes his way to the couch he’s sitting on and places himself to his right.

“I’m just trying to understand, if you don’t love him, why you would rush your marriage, that’s all. I didn’t mean to upset you, I’m sorry.”

Kyungsoo hesitantly looks up, noting that his father is smiling, that his eyes crinkle when he does so. He doesn’t know how it’s possible to even smile after spending over seventeen years down where he was. He didn’t even talk for what felt like months after he was down there.

The first words he said were directed at Jongin, bitter and angry. Kyungsoo has yet to hear his father do the same.

It makes it very difficult to stay mad at him; especially because he’s always so patient with him. Kyungsoo doesn’t understand it.

“I don’t feel that way about him,” he states plainly, brows furrowing, “He doesn’t feel that way either. He was doing it out of pity, why else?” he questions, picking at the wax seal instead of reading it.

Kyungsoo stares at his father, watching as he keeps his eyes on him. The smile doesn’t leave his face, but it does waver at one point before he lets out a little laugh.

“He doesn’t love you?” he questions, giving him a confused look.

Kyungsoo shakes his head, “Why would he?” he replies, pursing his lips as he moves to stare at the letter again.

“So, why do you want to go back then?” his father finally questions causing him to look up with furrowed brows. “If he doesn’t love you and you don’t love him, I don’t see why you would want to still be married.”

Kyungsoo fidgets in his seat, biting harshly on his lip. He shrugs, but his father is still staring at him expecting an answer. He opens his mouth but closes it immediately, feeling his throat tighten up.

Do you want to be married?” his father questions and it does nothing to help.

Kyungsoo shrugs again, staring blankly at the unread letter.

“If you don’t want to be married, it would make things easier.”

Kyungsoo frowns, looking up in confusion. “Why?” he asks hesitantly, not liking where this conversation is going.

His father lets out a tiny sigh, moving to look at a painting on the wall opposite of them. When Kyungsoo looks down on his hands he notices how much he’s fidgeting. For a moment he wonders if his father wants to bite his nails as much as he does.

“I don’t know you. You’re my son and I don’t know you. I would like to.”

Kyungsoo is confused. Horribly, confused.

“But, I’m just me. I’m not anything worth wasting your time on. Seungsoo, he would make a better son for you, not me, never me,” he rushes out, shaking his head and scooting away from the elder.

He squeezes his eyes shut when he feels his father scoot closer to him.

“Your brother would make a lovely king, but, he isn’t my son. You are, Kyungsoo,” his father states sternly so he peeks his eyes open.

“I’m not good enough,” he whispers, because it’s what he’s been told time and time again. He spent nearly seventeen years being told he was incompetent, of course he started to believe them.

Even if people tell him the opposite, they’re doing it out of obligation or pity. If the Kim’s had it their own way, they would never have chosen him for Jongin. If Jongin had a choice, he’d never pick him.

The only person he’s ever felt that truly liked him is Joohyuk, but he’s a child. What does he know?

“I think you are.”

Kyungsoo gawks, wondering if the man’s lost his mind being locked up for so long. It sounds completely plausible. It would explain why he even thinks of Kyungsoo at all. He can’t possibly be telling him the truth.

But, a tiny part of Kyungsoo wants to believe he is. It makes him frustrated, knowing that every time he allowed himself to think someone actually cared, they proved him wrong. Every single time.

Kyungsoo nibbles on his lower lip, studying his father’s face to see if he’s lying. Honestly, Kyungsoo can’t even think of a reason for him to be. Even if he is his son, he’ll never be fit enough to pass the crown down to. It would probably end up with Seungsoo.

“You’re just going to take it back eventually,” he mutters, pursing his lips in defiance.

He feels his lips twitch when his father makes a face, scoffing as if the idea is completely insane.

“I don’t think I will,” he replies, moving to ruffle his hair causing him to twitch, blinking quickly and watching as he removes his hand.

“You want me to stay,” he states, watching as his father nods his head.

“I would like that, but, I won’t make you if you don’t want to,” he replies, sitting up and letting out a little cough.

Kyungsoo nods, looking down at the letter in his lap and fighting to keep a smile off his face.

“You won’t hate me if I decide I want to go back?” he questions hesitantly, not knowing if he could just abandon the Kim’s.

They took care of him, even if it was pity, they treated him kindly. He would hate to upset them by just leaving. He doesn’t want Joohyuk even more upset than he already is. He would hate for them to think he’s ungrateful. Their castle felt more like a home than his real one ever did.

“I could never hate you, Kyungsoo,” his dad sighs out, “You’re my son and I love you. I want you to be happy.”

Kyungsoo squirms in his seat, pulling at his sleeves and moving to bite his nails out of habit. He’s not used to people using that word and him in the same sentence. At least, positively. He cried when Joohyuk said it to him, once he was in the carriage. He doesn’t feel like crying now, but, there’s a weird feeling in his stomach.

He doesn’t tell his father how he doesn’t even know what feeling happy really feels like. He supposes it may feel a little similar to this.

Knowing his father doesn’t hate him, he likes him. He loves him.

It wasn’t what he was expecting. It almost doesn’t feel like it’s real. He almost wants to stay just to see if he’s even telling the truth. If he leaves, he won’t know if he’s lying or not.

He desperately wants to be proven wrong, that his father is telling the truth. But it’s hard to believe him, a man he still doesn’t know all that well. Kyungsoo wants to hope but he’s scared.

“Can I think about it?” he questions, looking up at his father worriedly.

Kyungsoo watches as his father nods, leaning over to kiss his forehead.

“You take your time.”

Kyungsoo ducks his head to hide his smile, looking down at his letter from Jongin and supposing he should start reading it now.

When his father takes his seat back at his desk, Kyungsoo looks up, watching as he continues reading the book he was preoccupied with before they got interrupted.

Looking back down at his letter he squints as he reads. Jongin says he’s building his pond; that it’s taking a long time because the weather is unpredictable. He complains about the blisters on his hands for an entire paragraph before he complains about Joohyuk getting letters before him.

Kyungsoo frowns at the amount of complaining, not understanding why he even bothered to write at all if it’s all he was going to do until he gets to the last paragraph. It’s about his book he left underneath his pillow.

Jongin is asking which story is his favorite.

Kyungsoo supposes he has to reply now.

Chapter Text

Jongin doesn’t know what to expect when he receives a reply from Kyungsoo. From sneaking a peek at Joohyuk’s letters, Kyungsoo is pretty blunt. Just like the way he talks, he says things as they are.

He expects something similar. He won’t mind if it’s blunt and to the point. At least, that’s what he tells himself.

He ends up being completely right, Kyungsoo’s reply is straight to the point.

It’s literally just the title of his favorite story. That’s it.

Jongin stares at the letter, although he doubts you can even call it that, for five minutes straight.

He supposes he should be happy Kyungsoo replied, but this is almost insulting.

No, it is insulting, Jongin decides rather angrily. Joohyuk gets at least actual notes. Jongin didn’t even get a sentence. He got a title.

Annoyed he goes and searches for his nephew, knowing Joohyuk got another letter today as well.

He finds him in his play room, parchment and paints out as he finger-paints. Joohyuk spots him and waves happily, only further dampening his mood.

“Did Kyungsoo draw you a new picture?” he questions plainly, sitting across from his nephew and grabbing the envelope himself.

“Hyung drew a flower,” Joohyuk mumbles in reply, dipping his finger in his red paint and then smearing it across the parchment he has on the floor.

Jongin opens the envelope and takes out two pieces of paper. One for the letter, the other for the flower Kyungsoo apparently drew instead of giving him an actual reply.

“Your face is really red!” Joohyuk comments, giggling to himself before grabbing the moist towel that’s near him to wipe his hands and pick another color.

Jongin glares, setting his letter and Joohyuk’s side by side and just glares.

He’s too busy glaring he doesn’t even hear the door open or Junyoung ask what he’s doing.

“Uncle Jongin is mad,” Joohyuk informs his father and that’s when Jongin notices he’s glaring pretty intensely at some paper.

“I can see that,” Junyoung comments, giving him an odd look.

“He wrote a title. Not even a sentence, but a title,” he states plainly, snatching his letter and showing it to his brother-in-law. “It’s insulting!” he all but shouts, wanting to ball the paper up and toss it.

“Joohyuk, uncle Jongin and I are going to go have a talk, okay?” Junyoung tells his son, pulling Jongin up by his sleeve causing him to huff.

“Yes, daddy,” Joohyuk replies, looking at them and then back at his paper.

Jongin is even more insulted that Junyoung feels the need to drag him out of the room like a child.

“I know how to walk,” he mutters, pulling his arm away from the elder and scowling.

“I do not see why you’re throwing a fit. Kyungsoo replied to your letter, you should be happy,” Junyoung says sternly, giving him a look.

Jongin gapes, “It wasn’t even a proper reply! He wrote a title! He writes more to Joohyuk than he does to me!”

“You’re being awfully harsh on someone who can barely hold a conversation in person, let alone on paper,” Junyoung comments causing him to immediately shut his mouth, cheeks heating up in embarrassment.

Jongin stares at his brother-in-law in silence, feeling his annoyance turn into straight embarrassment at how quickly Junyoung was able to make him realize he was overreacting. Yet again.

“Well, he writes more to Joohyuk,” he replies stubbornly. “We’re married, he should write me more.”

“You’re jealous of a child,” Junyoung says, no amusement in his tone that has Jongin feeling ready to die.

“I’m not jealous!” he denies, biting on his lip harshly to keep from yelling out of annoyance.

“Perhaps it’s true what they say,” Junyoung comments vaguely, a smile blossoming on his face that leaves Jongin on edge.

“What do they say?” he questions hesitantly, eyeing his brother-in-law worriedly.

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

Jongin gawks, eyes widening in horror at Junyoung’s smug smile.

“My heart is not growing fonder!” he shouts, irritated when Junyoung laughs at him.

“You miss talking to him,” Junyoung accuses leaving him to open and close his mouth.

Jongin tries very hard to keep the last of his dignity in tact as he forms a response.

“Just because I miss talking to him doesn’t mean I have romantic feelings for him,” he states plainly, grinding his teeth together irritably.

“I never said romantic feelings. Just that you miss him, maybe even like him more than before he left,” Junyoung replies easily, patting him on the shoulder, “You need to learn to relax.”

Jongin lets out an agitated groan when Junyoung starts to laugh, again.

“I’m not going to talk to you anymore,” he declares, “You say horrible things.”

“Your loss,” Junyoung replies before shrugging and walking back towards the play room Joohyuk is still in.

Jongin sighs, shaking his head and then walking back towards his room. He doesn’t have much to do today. He could go and work on Kyungsoo’s pond, but after his letter fiasco, he really doesn’t have the energy to.

Instead he finds himself walking towards his father’s study, peeking his head in to see the elder reading something so he knocks before he invites himself in.

“Can I help you with something?” his father questions, setting down the parchment in his hands and looking up at him politely.

Jongin shrugs, toying with the end of his sleeve quietly, “Well, I just wanted to know if you’ve written to Kyungsoo’s father lately.”

He coughs awkwardly as he moves to take a seat near his father, peeking at the papers on his desk.

“I have.”

Jongin perks up, staring at his father as he waits for him to continue talking. But he doesn’t.

“What has he said?” Jongin pesters, shifting in his seat and looking at his father expectantly.

“He’s said a great deal of things,” his father replies, a smile on his face similar to the one Junyoung was wearing earlier. It has him squinting his eyes in suspicion. “What is it you’re wanting to hear?”

Jongin hesitates, not wanting to feed into whatever plot his family has going on against him. He knows they’re in alliance to annoy him to no end. He can feel it.

“I assumed that Kyungsoo would be coming back with us after our visit, am I wrong to do so?” he questions, trying not to fidget while his father looks him over.

“Perhaps.”

Jongin frowns, “Is that a yes or a no?” he questions bluntly, not liking the vagueness.

“If you would like him to come back, you’ll have to ask him yourself. I won’t be of much help. His father has left that decision entirely up to Kyungsoo.”

Jongin nods his head, letting out a tiny sigh. He should have expected as much. Honestly, he keeps telling himself that Kyungsoo won’t be coming back. His father is bound to want him to stay.

Even if Jongin did want Kyungsoo to stay, it would selfish to deny his father time with his son. He can’t possibly ask Kyungsoo to choose him over his own father.

“Thank you. I think I’m going to go for a ride,” he announces, standing up and stretching a little before heading for the door.

His father waves him off and then Jongin is left to head towards the stables. Kai is the only one that won’t make him miserable today it seems.

Chapter Text

As Seungsoo walks into Kyungsoo’s room, he’s surprised to see stacks of parchment on his desk. Looking around Kyungsoo is nowhere to be seen, which makes him sigh as he walks into the room fully.

A maid had said she hadn’t seen Kyungsoo outside, so Seungsoo only assumed he would be in his room. He was wrong, perhaps his little brother is in the library.

Pursing his lips he looks at the small trash bin next to Kyungsoo’s desk, frowning at the amount of wadded up paper inside it. Upon closer inspection it looks like a letter, but as soon as he moves to pull it out he hears someone clear their throat causing him to jump, turning around with wide eyes.

“What are you doing in my room?” Kyungsoo questions, giving him a tiny glare as he sets his puppy down. If you can even call him that. Pan doesn’t quite look much like a puppy anymore.

“I was looking for you,” he replies, straightening himself out and clearing his throat.

“Well here I am,” Kyungsoo mutters, walking over towards him and snatching the paper on his desk up and crushing it into a ball and dumping it in the trash with a whole bunch of other papers.

“Did you throw away a letter?” he questions, curious as to what Kyungsoo does at night when it’s too late to be outside or the library.

He’s all alone in this wing of the castle and Seungsoo can’t manage to convince him to move.

“It was trash,” Kyungsoo replies, moving to sit on his bed and swinging his feet back and forth. “Why are you going through my things?”

Seungsoo blushes, “I wasn’t. I just happened to see it there. Did you throw away Jongin’s letter?” he questions some more, frowning at the thought. It’s not very polite.

Kyungsoo huffs, shaking his head and then making it a point not to look at him.

I wrote that.”

Seungsoo frowns, moving to sit next to his brother on his bed. “Then why throw it away?”

“Because it was trash,” Kyungsoo replies easily, getting up and moving towards his dresser.

“Why didn’t you send it? Did you even reply to the letter he wrote you?” Seungsoo interrogates, staying on the bed and trying to shoo Pan away from where he’s sniffing at his feet.

“What did you come here for? To irritate me? If so you’re doing a wonderful job,” Kyungsoo huffs out, closing his drawer and turning around to give him a glare.

Seungsoo is beyond used to it now. Kyungsoo can be quite irritable and cranky just before lunch. Even more so when he tries to question him about Jongin.

“I was just curious is all,” he replies quietly, shrugging and then looking his brother over as he fidgets with another shirt to put on. It’s still drafty in the castle and Kyungsoo is often seen wearing more than one shirt.

“They’re arriving today. The Kim’s,” he announces, watching as Kyungsoo almost drops his shirt but recovers quickly, messing with the buttons.

“Maybe you should wear a nicer shirt….for Jongin….I’m sure he’s missed you,” he pesters, watching as Kyungsoo pauses what he’s doing and moves to give him the blankest look he’s capable of.

“Maybe you should leave my room before I tell Pan to bite you.”

Seungsoo laughs, looking down at the pup who is currently chasing his own tail.

“Don’t be so mean. I’m your brother,” he jokingly scolds, standing up and moving to ruffle the boy’s hair.

“My brother who is annoying me,” Kyungsoo snaps, retaliating by poking him in the rib where he’s ticklish causing him to yelp.

“Fine, fine,” he huffs, watching the boy’s hands in case he tries something again. “Lunch should be ready soon. I guess I’ll see you there?”

“I guess you will,” Kyungsoo replies, shooing him out of the room.

--

When lunch is over Kyungsoo takes a nap, tired from a restless night’s sleep. When he wakes up it’s to a knock on his door. He barely has time to rub at this eyes when the door opens and Seungsoo is pestering him to get up, that their guests are here earlier than expected.

Kyungsoo really hates it, still drowsy from his interrupted nap he frowns as he trails after Seungsoo.

His father’s coronation isn’t until the day after tomorrow. So the Kim’s are here early, even more so considering his father said they would arrive after dinner.

Kyungsoo yawns as he manages to get down the stairs, holding onto Seungsoo’s arm tiredly as they travel to the front room.

Sometimes Kyungsoo doesn’t even recognize the castle. Everything is so different yet almost the same. It’s like a new place half the time. It always looks so bright and smells like flowers. They’re renovating in certain places to fix the drafts.

Kyungsoo overheard that the dungeons have been filled with cement, no longer accessible.

He doesn’t think much on that.

Hearing chatter he finally manages to wake up enough to be attentive, looking around his brother to see his father along with Seungsoo’s wife greeting the Kim’s.

When Joohyuk spots him the boy’s eyes nearly bug out of his head and the little four year old is rushing over to him, nearly knocking him onto his butt as he attacks him.

“Hyung!”

Kyungsoo smiles, bending over and picking up the boy with some difficulty, immediately getting his cheek kissed.

“I missed you,” Joohyuk mumbles before burying his head underneath his chin, hugging onto his neck tightly.

Kyungsoo sighs, squeezing the boy back gently before looking up and realizing everyone is staring.

“Hello,” he greets quietly, walking over towards the rest of the Kim’s awkwardly with Joohyuk still in his arms.

He quietly listens as his father talks with King Kim, getting distracted when Joohyuk plays with his collar or starts poking at his face for attention.

When his father says they should freshen up and rest before dinner is served he’s forced to finally pay attention, looking around confused as to what just took place.

“Can I stay with you?” Joohyuk pesters, tugging on his ear when he doesn’t hear the first time.

“Maybe later. I think you should stay with your mom and dad,” he whispers back, setting the boy down on the floor despite the pout he gets.

“Uncle Jongin missed you,” Joohyuk whispers before giggling and running towards his dad.

Kyungsoo frowns, standing back up and looking around before spotting Jongin next to his brother, the two talking about something.

Not wanting to be impolite he slowly makes his way over, clearing his throat to get their attention.

“Hello,” he mumbles, looking at Seungsoo and then at Jongin.

“Ah, Kyungsoo, why don’t you show Jongin to his guest room? I’m sure he’s tired from the trip.”

Kyungsoo frowns, brows furrowing in confusion, “Is he not staying with me?” he questions, looking at his brother for a reply.

He can’t fathom why Seungsoo looks surprised.

“Why would he stay with you?” Seungsoo questions incredulously, his cheeks looking red which means he’s getting mad.

Kyungsoo inches away from him and shrugs, biting his lower lip before deciding it’s probably safe to answer as quickly as possible.

“We shared a room at his home,” he replies, looking at Jongin who’s awfully quiet and then back at Seungsoo.

“I don’t that’s necessary. He’s going to be leaving in two days,” Seungsoo replies, shaking his head and pursing his lips. “Just go show him to a guest room. I need to go check on some things.”

Kyungsoo frowns but nods, watching as his brother walks off towards the kitchens. Sighing he looks up at Jongin who is red in the face.

“The guest rooms are on the third floor,” he mumbles, pointing towards the stairs and moving to walk forward when Jongin tugs him back making him stumble, eyes widening as he looks up.

He flinches when Jongin shoves a tiny velvet pouch in front of his face.

“This is for you.”

Kyungsoo stares at the blue pouch in confusion before he hesitantly grabs it, looking at Jongin for further instruction.

“You can open it, you know,” Jongin mumbles, moving to tug at his collar.

Kyungsoo ignores the fidgeting and does as he’s told, tugging at the drawstrings until they’re loose enough to stick his hand inside. When he does he grabs at what’s inside, pulling it out and staring blankly at the light pink colored stone. It’s not at all jagged and must have been smoothed down from the larger rock it was cut out of. Kyungsoo, who doesn’t know what to say, points out the obvious.

“It’s a pink pebble,” he states plainly, looking up at Jongin who’s flushing.

“It’s a rose quartz,” Jongin corrects, huffing loudly.

Kyungsoo still doesn’t understand, “What do you do with it?” he questions, looking down and inspecting it. It’s light pink. It’s smooth. It feels cold. Kyungsoo doesn’t know what it’s supposed to do.

“You don’t do anything with it. It’s a gift,” Jongin replies.

Kyungsoo looks up, “From who?” he asks, flinching when Jongin lets out a loud noise from the back of his throat.

“From me! Who else!” his husband all but shouts causing a bark from down the hallway.

Kyungsoo spots Pan rushing up to them and then goes back to look at his rock. He still does not understand how it’s a gift. It doesn’t serve any purpose. What is he supposed to do with it? Set it on his nightstand and look at it?

“He got bigger,” Jongin comments, bending down to rub behind Pan’s ears.

The more Kyungsoo stares at the pink stone the more he thinks about it. Maybe Jongin wants something in return and this is an initiation to asking for it.

“I didn’t get you anything,” he voices, watching as Jongin stands up and stares at him before shrugging.

“I wasn’t expecting anything from you.”

Kyungsoo frowns, “Then why are you giving this to me?” he pesters, not understanding for the life of him.

Jongin lets out an irritated noise before responding. “It’s just a gift. I don’t need a reason to give you something do I?”

“But it’s not my birthday,” he ends up replying, never having gotten gifts unless it was for the occasion. Even then, sometimes he didn’t get anything then either.

Jongin stares at him for several long minutes before he finally replies, some weird look on his face.

“Sometimes people give each other gifts just because they can,” his husband replies.

Kyungsoo nods to that, “So it’s because we’re married?” he asks, remembering that married people tend to give each other gifts randomly. He’s seen King Kim do it plenty of times with his wife. Junyoung gave his wife some flowers one day as well. Maybe that’s what this is.

“What? No, that’s not what I said,” Jongin replies hurriedly, looking on the verge of pulling out his hair so Kyungsoo refrains from any more questions.

Instead he brings the stone closer to his face to inspect it better. It’s nice to look at he supposes. He’s never seen a stone this color before.

A gift is a gift, he muses, and it’s not even his birthday, so he should be thankful regardless if he understands what it’s supposed to do. Or why he’s even receiving it in the first place.

Smiling he puts it back into its little bag and then looks up, “Thank you,” he voices, his smile fading when Jongin doesn’t reply, just stares at him blankly.

He shifts uncomfortably when the silence drags on too much for his liking, thinking to just start walking when Jongin finally speaks.

“Why does Joohyuk get letters and you give me a measly sentence?” Jongin finally blurts, looking a little mad.

Kyungsoo immediately regrets not just starting to walk, now he can’t even do so without looking entirely rude. He bites his lip nervously and looks down at his feet.

He did write Jongin an actual reply. He wrote so much his hand hurt before he realized how stupid he must sound. Then he trashed it. It’s not like Jongin would want to read it anyway. He was only asking to be polite.

“You asked a question and I answered it,” he replies shakily, “Joohyuk misses me. I write him so he won’t,” he explains easily.

It only seems to further sour Jongin’s mood, his cheeks turning red with anger.

“Did you not think I would miss you?” Jongin snaps, looking angrier by the minute.

Kyungsoo, being away from him for so long, almost forgot what he looks like when he’s angry. He completely forgot what it feels like to be yelled at; something that hasn’t happened in who knows how long.

He doesn’t understand Jongin’s sudden anger, all he does know is that he doesn’t like it. Especially since it was completely obvious Jongin didn’t miss him.

“I’d hardly call waiting over a month to hear from you evidence that you missed me,” he bites out, watching how the elder flinches at his tone. Good, he thinks.

When Jongin opens his mouth to argue some more or explain, whichever, Kyungsoo doesn’t let him.

“I said thank you for your gift. Now you’re getting angry with me for no reason. If you think I’m going to stand here like an idiot and let you yell at me you’re clearly mistaken. I suggest you find a maid to show you to your room,” he huffs, turning around and moving to stomp off but Jongin grabs his arm, again.

“I’m sorry, forget what I said. Can you show me to my room?” Jongin rushes out, giving him a disturbingly pleading look that makes Kyungsoo’s nose wrinkle.

“Only if you let go of my sleeve,” he mutters, immediately getting released. Kyungsoo nods, eyeing Jongin before turning and moving towards the stairs.

“So I finally dug a hole for your pond!” Jongin chirps from behind him, sounding too enthusiastic for Kyungsoo’s own still tired state.

“I was wondering if you had a preference for which stones I use. Joohyuk wants to paint them blue but of course that’s ridiculous,” Jongin mutters out.

Kyungsoo turns his head slightly, looking at Jongin who has chosen to walk next to him.

“Why is that ridiculous?” he questions, watching as Jongin stumbles a little.

“You want me to paint the rocks blue?” Jongin questions incredulously, giving him a judging look.

Kyungsoo scoffs, “Of course not. That’s unnecessary.”

This time Jongin nearly falls as he trips.

By the time they reach the third floor they’ve established that painting the stones is out of the question. Kyungsoo doesn’t care what stones he uses. He just wants the flowers. He wouldn’t object to Jongin adding koi to the pond once it’s finished.

“What floor is your room on again?” Jongin questions, lingering outside his guest room door.

Kyungsoo wants to leave and continue his nap while he can, so he sighs when Jongin doesn’t just walk into his room and leave it at that.

“The highest floor, why?” he questions, stifling a yawn.

“In case I want to talk,” Jongin replies, shrugging while messing with the handle on his door.

“You need my father’s permission to talk to me alone in my room,” he states plainly, watching as Jongin’s face contorts in confusion.

“We’re married,” the elder replies, blinking rapidly.

“It was a joke,” he answers, shifting uncomfortably when Jongin just stares at him blankly.

Jongin lets out a huff of a laugh before giving him an amused look, “Your sense of humor has been missed.”

Kyungsoo, not knowing what to say, promptly turns around and walks towards the stairs and to his room.

Chapter Text

Coronations are such a hassle, Kyungsoo thinks. The castle has been full of life the past week and a half and to top everything off, Kyungsoo hasn’t been left alone for most of the preparations. The only place he can find solitude is his room, no one wanting to make the trip up all those flights of stairs.

Kyungsoo has been hiding out for a while, reading one of his favorite books when he hears a knock on his door. Bookmarking the page he’s on he sighs, not thinking Jongin would actually come to bother him like he said he would.

Kyungsoo hasn’t even figured out yet whether he’s going to go back with the Kim’s after his father’s coronation is over. He’s been thinking it over a lot the past couple of days but he still hasn’t made up his mind.

Kyungsoo honestly wants someone to do it for him, still not used to being able to decide things on his own.

His father wants him here, but won’t hate him if he leaves and Prince Jongin expects him to stay. It sounds simple, when he thinks about it, but it’s anything but.

There are so many things to consider that Kyungsoo has just been ignoring the upcoming problem as best as he can. But, now that the coronation is in two days, he has to come up with some kind of response should anyone ask.

There’s also the royal council to consider as well. They will be there for the coronation and Kyungsoo isn’t all that confident that they won’t call attention to the fact that as soon as his father is declared King, it’s him that is next in line, not Seungsoo.

Growing up Kyungsoo always wanted to be treated like he wasn’t just some second born son, that was to be looked at but not talked to. He was always so jealous of Seungsoo being able to do whatever he wanted, when he wanted to do it.

But now, things are different and Kyungsoo can do whatever he wants, can go wherever he wants and eat whatever he pleases for dinner. If he doesn’t want to change out of his pajama set all day, then no one tells him not to. If he goes out to the gardens on the far side of the castle, no one yells at him or stops him from going outside.

It’s what he’s always wanted but, he’s not used to it. It always feels wrong when he walks outside of the castle doors and no one bothers to stop him. It feels worse when someone asks for his opinion on anything, he was raised not to have one.

His entire life was spent being silent, not being allowed to voice any kind of opinion he might have had and now he’s expected to just open his mouth like it’s so easy.

It’s frustrating and the coronation doesn’t help matters. The only way he can just get away from it all is in his room. No one bothers him, and sometimes Kyungsoo feels like nothing has changed. People have just forgotten he exists but the knocking on the door reminds him that things are different, he’s different now.

He sighs as he finally gets up from the floor, walking over and unlocking the door and opening it wide enough so that whoever is on the other side can just walk in assuming it’s Jongin.

However, he does not expect Prince Dongwan of all people. It leaves him confused.

“I have a letter addressed to you from my father the King.”

Kyungsoo is terribly confused.

Kyungsoo looks at the older prince skeptically, never having had any kind of conversation with him if you don’t count the one time he was sick and almost fell on the elder. Prince Dongwan is always blunt and to the point the times he has heard him speak. He never smiles, and although Kyungsoo can relate to that to an extent, it’s still unnerving.

“W-why?” he questions, staring at the letter in confusion and not bothering to reach over and grab it from his hands. Kyungsoo doesn’t want it if he’s being honest with himself.

“Our fathers were close when they were younger, I can only imagine it has something to do with that.”

It’s a vague reason and it doesn’t really answer his questions, but Kyungsoo wants the older prince gone as soon as possible so he snatches the letter and awkwardly returns the bow Dongwan gives him before he turns on his heel and leaves.

Kyungsoo closes his door and goes back to sit near the windows, Pan finally taking notice that he was missing and watching him sit back down and then moving to lay by his side.

Looking at the envelope Kyungsoo thumbs over the golden seal, not recognizing the crest but Dongwan is from a kingdom up north, so he supposed the wolf design hidden in it makes sense. Kyungsoo hesitates to break through it, not knowing why a King would be writing to him of all people. But he knows that if he ignores it, it won’t be like when he ignored Seungsoo. He’s bound to get reprimanded if he doesn’t read it.

Kyungsoo begrudgingly breaks the seal and unfolds the parchment, reaching for his spectacles that he hasn’t used in a very long time and begins to read.

Once he’s done he regrets opening the door at all.

Chapter Text

Jongin stares as Kyungsoo spaces out for the umpteenth time that evening. It’s after dinner and although it was a rather awkward event, nothing went terribly wrong. It was just rather odd being at a table with Kyungsoo’s real father and Pan is probably too big to be allowed to be in the room while they’re eating because he was begging everyone for scraps.

But now Jongin is in Kyungsoo’s room along with Joohyuk who is coloring on some parchment while Pan sits next to him and happily wags his tail. Kyungsoo however is sitting quietly on the floor as well, zoning out and biting his lip a lot.

Any time he asks the younger boy a question he has to repeat himself three times before Kyungsoo even realizes he’s talking. Jongin is used to being ignored intentionally by the boy, but he doesn’t quite think this is that. Kyungsoo doesn’t look like he’s ignoring him on purpose, he seems to be too caught up in whatever is going on in his head.

Of course, Jongin wouldn’t have the slightest clue as to what occupies the boy’s thoughts.

“Have you gotten a chance to ride any of the horses yet?” he questions, waving his hand in front of Kyungsoo’s face to get his attention. The younger boy flinches and frowns, eyeing him before shaking his head.

“No.”

Jongin internally sighs, hoping for a more elaborate answer. He figured Kyungsoo would be doing something fun while he was here.

“Dongwan’s family is arriving tomorrow, he has a brother your age,” Jongin shares, looking down at Joohyuk who pokes him on the leg to show him his picture. It’s still a little sloppy looking but he’s definitely starting to be able to draw people that aren’t just sticks.

“I’m aware,” Kyungsoo replies, pulling his legs up to his chest to rest his chin on his knees.

“Oh, right, he was at the wedding,” Jongin laughs out awkwardly, forgetting that almost all of Dongwan’s younger brothers were there. He has so many, Jongin can’t keep up half the time.

Looking up Jongin notices Kyungsoo is giving him a confused look, meaning he probably doesn’t remember.

“He was the one with an emerald in the middle of his golden crown?” he tries to help, watching as Kyungsoo continues to still look confused. “He’s very talkative, he loves horseback riding, never shuts up about his golden mare?”

When Kyungsoo continues to look confused Jongin gives up, sighing and shaking his head.

“There were a lot of people, it’s fine if you don’t remember. But maybe you could show him around tomorrow? He doesn’t have many people his age,” Jongin explains, knowing there aren’t many princes around Kyungsoo’s age range.

He always assumed that’s why the boy wasn’t at any events, there wouldn’t be anyone for him to socialize with. Obviously Jongin’s assumptions were wrong.

“You two could be friends?” he suggests, watching as Kyungsoo’s nose scrunches up in distaste. Jongin supposes it’s natural, considering Kyungsoo’s only friends are a toddler and his puppy. He probably doesn’t quite get the concept or find it appealing.

“Maybe…” Kyungsoo mumbles, looking down at Joohyuk who hands him a crayon.

Jongin supposes it’s a good enough answer.

Chapter Text

Kyungsoo quietly walks towards his father’s room, biting his lip nervously as he hesitates to knock. It’s late, the Kim’s are all already in their rooms for the night but Kyungsoo doesn’t think his father is asleep just yet.

From what he’s observed his father doesn’t sleep too well, the physician often having to give him special tea a little after dinner time. Kyungsoo doesn’t remember his father drinking any tonight, so he must be awake.

After several minutes, he finally musters up the courage to knock, shifting on his feet and looking down at Pan who has followed him and is sitting loyally by his feet, tail wagging slightly. When the door opens Kyungsoo involuntarily flinches, looking up to see his father standing on the other side of the door, leaning against a wooden cane.

“Um, I can come back in the morning,” he mumbles when he notices his father is already in his sleeping attire.

Instead of dismissing him his father just smiles tiredly and opens the door wider so Kyungsoo quickly shuffles in, Pan following him and moving to hop on the small couch near the dresser.

“What seems to be troubling you?” his father questions, moving to sit next to Pan, the dog resting his head on his father’s lap and closing his eyes.

Pan likes his father, which in turn makes Kyungsoo less wary of him. Although Kyungsoo has grown to like his father too, he’s always kind to him and lets his have as much dessert as he likes. He always smiles too, although Kyungsoo wonders how he’s even able to at this point after everything he’s been through.

“I got a letter,” he replies, taking the parchment from his pocket and handing it over to his father. He opts to stand rather than sit so he shifts on his feet a little and moves to stare at the windows.

“I see.”

Kyungsoo watches as he looks over the envelope, the crest, and then opens it up to reveal the letter.

“Is it true then?” he questions, his brows furrowing as his father starts to read it over.

“It was just an offhand comment he made once. It was an agreement, but never a legally binding one. He mentioned it when I wrote him a week or so ago. Apparently, his youngest son is of age, so he was just wondering. I told him you were already married. It seems he is merely asking your opinion on the matter, as I suggested he do. Since I am unsure of your plans.”

Kyungsoo frowns, but nods his head, letting out a tiny sigh and wondering why people have to make his life difficult. Rather, even more difficult than it already was.

He’s already married, whether he chooses to remain so is all up to him. Apparently Dongwan’s father is aware of this tiny fact and is seizing an opportunity, should it arise. It’s all politically very smart, but Kyungsoo wishes things would just go back to when he could stay in his room and be ignored. It’s a disturbing reoccurring thought that he wishes he didn’t have, but nonetheless it’s there.

“No one will force you to do anything you don’t want to, it’s your choice whether you stay married to Prince Jongin or not, Kyungsoo. Although, I don’t think Prince Jongin would be very enthused about annulling your marriage, your feelings are far more important to me than his. If you wish for it to happen I can only support your decision.”

Kyungsoo nibbles on his lip, finally moving to sit next to Pan and his father on the couch and fidgeting with his sleeves. Kyungsoo doesn’t know what he wants.

“I don’t think you need to make any life changing decisions anytime soon. Your birthday is in a months’ time, you’ll be eighteen.”

Kyungsoo nods, turning towards his father who is scratching behind on of Pan’s ears. His birthday has never been an important event, but regardless he still knows the date. So much has happened since his last birthday he moves to bite his nails, not wanting to think about it.

“I will need some answers by then, so I know if you’re going to have your own coronation.”

“I think I’m going to bed,” Kyungsoo announces, not wanting to talk anymore.

He leaves the room after saying a quiet goodnight, having Pan trail after him as he heads to his room. He can’t even make a simple decision for himself, let alone one for an entire country. Kyungsoo knows he won’t be taking his father up on that offer. Seungsoo is better for that, he knows that much.

As for staying with Jongin, Kyungsoo doesn’t know. He doesn’t want his father to be upset but he doesn’t want to hurt the Kim’s feelings either. He’s stuck on what to do, he doesn’t think being eighteen will magically give him all the answers he needs.

Tired, he decides he’ll think more tomorrow and hopefully avoid having to meet the Byun’s.

 

 

--

 

 

Everyone has just finished breakfast when the guards alert them that they have guests. Jongin has met the Byun’s before. King Donghyun is a rather serious man, all the times Jongin has seen him he hasn’t really looked that enthused to be there. But, he smiles when he sees Kyungsoo’s father and it appears he was just never around good company.

They hug and Jongin stands off to the side along with Kyungsoo, watching as his husband awkwardly looks at the floor rather than at their guests. It’s normal of Kyungsoo though, so he thinks nothing of it as he looks to see which sons tagged along this time.

There are so many of them Jongin doesn’t know how their poor mother managed to birth them all. She must have been a saint in a past life to put up with being pregnant that many times. There’s twelve of them he thinks, and it seems the youngest two are the ones that came this time. Baekbum, who is two years older than himself and Baekhyun, who is about a year older than Kyungsoo. He just turned eighteen this past spring.

“You remember Baekhyun now?” Jongin questions quietly, looking at Kyungsoo and watching as he looks up and eyes their guests with a frown.

“No,” he states bluntly causing Jongin to fight back a laugh. Of course, he doesn’t.

“Oh, well, he’s very nice. Not that great with a sword to be honest but he isn’t expected to be. He’s the youngest. Their family is the one that gifted us with two dogs that had the litter Pan’s parents came from.”

Kyungsoo looks surprised about that particular comment and since they aren’t being paid much attention to Jongin chooses to elaborate.

“He’s some kind of wolf hybrid they started breeding awhile back. There’s a lot of wolves up north, they’re good hunters. They were a gift for Jini’s wedding or something. They’re starting to make a lot of money trading them to other countries,” he explains, watching as his husband looks down at the puppy.

He’s worth a lot, even if he is the runt of the litter. It doesn’t make him any less of an excellent hunter. If anything his tiny stature helps him sneak up on animals easier. Jongin bets he would have been one of the best in their pack had he not gifted him to Kyungsoo.

“He’s probably worth his weight in gold I assume,” he mumbles, twitching when Kyungsoo makes a choking noise. “Are you alright?” he whispers, noting that Prince Baekhyun is looking over their way curiously.

Kyungsoo shoos his hands away, giving him a look, “Why would you give him to me if he’s worth that much?” Kyungsoo whispers harshly.

Jongin frowns, not knowing why the younger boy is getting mad at him about it. He should be flattered, really.

“You were sad, I was just trying to cheer you up. You don’t have to get so upset about it,” he grumbles, plastering a smile on his face as King Byun walks up to them with Kyungsoo’s father in tow. Jongin bows as customary and then turns to Kyungsoo, his smile threatening to fall when he notices he’s still being stared at.

“Uh, excuse my husband he seems to be tired,” he laughs out awkwardly, nudging Kyungsoo on the arm. That finally gets his attention and his husband turns towards King Byun, opting not to bow which really makes him nervous.

“I’m not interested in your offer,” Kyungsoo states bluntly, without any honorifics and Jongin pales, looking at the younger boy with wide eyes wondering what on earth is wrong with him.

Kyungsoo is known to be rather hard headed, Jongin would know, but he’s breaking basic etiquette to a King he’s never even met before. It’s absurd and Jongin seriously starts to grow worried but then King Byun laughs, which in turn finally gets Kyungsoo thinking clearly because he down right flinches when the King moves his arm to clap happily.

“He sounds exactly like you!” King Byun laughs causing Kyungsoo’s face to turn a violent shade of red.

It’s discerning and Jongin wants to gently pull his husband aside but Kyungsoo’s father beats him to it, grabbing a hold of his hand and letting the boy cling to him for dear life. Jongin frowns, feeling out of the loop as King Byun starts talking about some letter. Sighing he moves off to the side, going to say hello to Prince Baekhyun who is standing awkwardly by himself.

He bows and gives a formal greeting that the younger prince returns, giving him a timid smile.

“Do you happen to know what they’re talking about?” he questions, looking over and wanting to rescue his poor husband who looks completely out of place.

“No. They never tell me anything, last born remember?” Baekhyun reminds him, shrugging his shoulders and rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet. “Do they have a pasture around here I can take my mare?” the younger Prince questions excitedly. 

“I’m sure there’s some place. I’ll ask Kyungsoo when he’s done,” he replies, watching Baekhyun nod his head enthusiastically.

And so he waits.

Chapter Text

It takes a whole lot longer than Jongin was expecting for Kyungsoo to finally be set free from both his father and King Byun and by the end of it his husband looks a little pale. Jongin wants to immediately go question the younger male but Seungsoo seems to move before Jongin can even think of excusing himself from Prince Baekhyun’s company.

“How are you enjoying married life?” Prince Baekhyun questions curiously, looking at him and then trying to get a look at Kyungsoo, but Seungsoo towers over his brother and blocks him from view.

Jongin doesn’t know what to reply with, because majority of their marriage has been spent with Kyungsoo living at the Do castle instead of his own. But, that isn’t something everyone knows about, so he really doesn’t know what he should say. Their relationship isn’t really that good to be honest. Jongin is lucky if Kyungsoo is in a good enough mood to speak more than three sentences at a time. He has no idea if Kyungsoo is even coming back with them after the coronation, or at all for that matter.

Jongin is still thinking of a reply when Baekhyun gasps, his eyes widening when he spots Pan. Before he can even blink Baekhyun is taking off and rushing towards the dog causing Jongin to internally groan, rushing after him to make sure he doesn’t accidentally scare Kyungsoo.

Pan takes notice of the newcomer first, standing guard near Kyungsoo’s leg and growling lowly gaining the attention of Kyungsoo and Seungsoo who look over just in time to see Baekhyun squat so he’s eye level with Pan.

Jongin doesn’t laugh when Kyungsoo downright jumps spotting the Byun prince, but he’s pretty close by the time he’s managed to make it over and discreetly pull Kyungsoo away from where Pan is sniffing Baekhyun’s hand, eventually giving it a lick of approval.

“Prince Baekhyun is wanting to know if there’s somewhere he can let his horse roam,” Jongin speaks up, looking down at Kyungsoo who is just staring at his puppy and Prince Baekhyun.

Kyungsoo doesn’t say anything, just continues to stare. It isn’t until he clears his throat does Kyungsoo realize he was expecting an answer.

“I don’t know,” Kyungsoo mumbles, frowning at Prince Baekhyun who is scratching behind Pan’s ear.

“There should be an area around the stables, I can show him,” Seungsoo speaks up.

Jongin sighs in relief when Prince Baekhyun perks up and immediately starts to pester Seungsoo about it instead. Kyungsoo not so discreetly picks Pan up and moves further away from Baekhyun. Once Baekhyun and Seungsoo are out of hearing range he turns towards Kyungsoo.

“He isn’t going to steal your puppy,” Jongin comments, shaking his head when Kyungsoo only tightens his hold on Pan.

Honestly Jongin doesn’t know how Kyungsoo can hold the dog anymore. Pan may be the runt, but he still looks about half the size of the younger boy at this point. Kyungsoo looks ridiculous holding onto him right now as if he’s still a puppy.

“Anyway, what were your father and King Byun talking about?” he questions, reaching over and taking Pan out of his husband’s arms and setting him down. Kyungsoo surprisingly lets him, watching him with a frown on his lips but not objecting.

Kyungsoo doesn’t immediately reply, opting to chew on his nails a little before shrugging and moving to look around instead of at him.

“A response to my question would be polite,” he sighs out, running a hand through his crown-less hair. Kyungsoo wasn’t wearing one when he arrived and he followed suit just because he could.

Kyungsoo spares him a glance before pulling his fingers out of his mouth, shifting a little on his feet before letting out a tiny huff. “He said he wants to give me a horse, for my birthday … I don’t know how to ride one, so I told him it was unnecessary… he was very persistent,” Kyungsoo grumbles, shrugging his shoulders before going back to biting his nails.

Jongin nods his head in acknowledgement, knowing Kyungsoo only ever rode a horse once, and from what the guards told him he almost fell off several times. Although, Kai isn’t the best horse for a beginner, let alone Kyungsoo.

“I could teach you,” he offers, not knowing if he’d be the best teacher, but he knows how to ride a horse, it shouldn’t be too hard to teach someone. He would just have to find a small enough horse for Kyungsoo.

“You’re leaving in two days,” Kyungsoo replies bluntly, shifting on his feet and turning around when they hear Joohyuk calling out for the younger boy.

Jongin frowns, watching as Joohyuk rushes up to them and then jump hugs onto Kyungsoo’s legs, Pan barking and wagging his tail happily.

“I’m going to show him the library,” Kyungsoo mumbles, tugging on Joohyuk’s hand and leading him towards the stairs.

Jongin sighs once again, heading towards the doors and deciding to head to the stables. Since he has nothing better to do he might as well catch up with Seungsoo, the other Do Prince more likely to engage in a conversation that exceeds more than three sentences. Besides, maybe Seungsoo can help him figure out when Kyungsoo will be going back home. 

Chapter Text

As far as coronations go, Kyungsoo’s fathers is just about as boring as the rest, although Jongin has only ever been to two. There are plenty of guests, probably more than normal considering the circumstances and Jongin is stuck saying hello to people all day. He hasn’t seen Kyungsoo much the last two days and he’s mostly absent the day of the coronation as well.

The ceremony is short but tedious and afterwards everyone is left to mingle before the reception. Jongin is stuck listening to Seungsoo and Prince Sehun bicker over something or another, his husband nowhere to be found. Jongin sent a servant boy to look for him because if he has to listen to Oh Sehun complain about one more thing he’s going to cause a scene. Dinner won’t be served for another thirty minutes or so and he’s running out of patience by the time the servant finally returns, looking skittish and uncomfortable as he approaches them.

“Well, did you find him?” he pesters, setting his glass down on a servant’s tray as they pass by.

“Prince Kyungsoo is in the library, he um, said he would come down when he felt like it?” the boy replies sheepishly, blushing before bowing and turning right around.

Jongin frowns, letting out a tiny sigh before turning back towards Seungsoo and Sehun and seeing they’re preoccupied he decides he might as well go see what Kyungsoo is doing. He assumed the younger boy would be forced to partake in mingling with everyone while they waited, especially since it is his father’s coronation, but it seems his husband has other plans of hiding from everyone. By the time he gets to the library he’s almost positive dinner is starting to be served and his absence, along with Kyungsoo’s, will definitely be noticed so he quickly opens up the doors and starts looking.

He searches the entire first floor and then heads for the stairs, finding Kyungsoo off in a secluded section with a couch and a desk that overlooks the palace grounds. Kyungsoo is sitting with his legs pulled up to his chest, his chin resting on top of his knees. Pan is up on his hind legs staring out the window with his tail wagging happily.

“There you are,” he huffs, out of breath from searching all over the place. He ignores Kyungsoo’s flinch when he walks over and takes a seat next to the boy. “Dinner is about to be served. You kind of have to be there for that,” he comments, looking over and frowning when he notices how red Kyungsoo’s finger tips are.

His nail biting habit hasn’t seemed to have gotten any better he notes before smacking his hand when goes to bite at it some more. Jongin almost feels scared when Kyungsoo downright glares at him.

“You’re going to make your fingers bleed if you keep biting them,” he states sternly, giving the younger boy an awkward smile when he refuses to ease up on the glare. “Um, anyways, we should probably go down to the dining hall now. People are probably realizing you’re missing.”

Jongin begrudgingly gets up from his seat, stretching a little before looking down expectantly at Kyungsoo who doesn’t move an inch. Jongin mentally groans, wishing the younger boy wasn’t so difficult.

“Look I know you don’t like being around a bunch of people but this is kind of important.”

When Kyungsoo doesn’t look like he’s going to budge Jongin groans out loud, looking over at Pan who seems to be the only happy one in the room. Jongin has no idea what is wrong with Kyungsoo, not like he ever knows. Asking him is completely out of the question because he won’t get an answer. Kyungsoo has mostly been quiet and out of sight since the Byun’s got here. Jongin has had to make up several excuses when Prince Baekhyun pesters him about it. He doesn’t think he can excuse the absence this time.

“Why do you always have to be so difficult? Am I going to have to carry you down there?” he questions, feeling like he’s talking to Joohyuk when he’s cranky from lack of a nap.

Kyungsoo continues to glare at him, but shakes his head and moves his legs down do they’re dangling off the side of the couch. Jongin impatiently waits for him to get up, tapping his foot on the floor and hoping the food isn’t cold by the time they get there.

When Kyungsoo finally stands up Jongin lets out a sigh of relief, grabbing onto Kyungsoo’s sleeve and leading him out of the library. By the time they make it to the dining hall Kyungsoo is clinging to his jacket sleeve and hiding behind him.

It’s more than uncomfortable when they walk into the hall and hundreds of eyes turn towards them. Jongin forces a smile on his face and directs Kyungsoo towards the main table, pulling his seat out for him and quickly taking his own seat as well.

“Where were you two?” Seungsoo whispers harshly from his spot several chairs down.

Jongin shrugs and reaches for his fork, starving and just wanting to eat. “Kyungsoo wasn’t feeling well, so he was resting in the library,” he replies, leaning over to give Seungsoo a look. “Maybe you could have spent less time talking to your friend and actually checked on him.”

Seungsoo glares but it’s not as scary as Kyungsoo’s so he goes back to eating his meat and potatoes. It seems to be Kyungsoo’s favorite meal because he actually asks for a second plate and Jongin is left to stare incredulously as he finishes it all.

Jongin remembers when Kyungsoo would just pick at his food or hide it away in his pockets to pretend he was eating. Kyungsoo’s gained weight, his cheeks are fuller and he isn’t as thin as he used to be, although he’s still pretty thin. He at least looks like a normal teenager now, minus the fact that he’s still short. But, there’s nothing they can do about that. After dinner they're given dessert and Kyungsoo looks completely put out that instead of a cake they’re served crème brûlée.

“Do you not like it?” he questions, breaking through the caramelized sugar at the top and taking a spoonful into his mouth.

Kyungsoo frowns, copying what he did slowly and taking a tiny spoonful to eat. Jongin nearly starts choking when Kyungsoo makes a disgusted face and sets his spoon down loudly.

“It’s gross,” his husband mutters, shoving his bowl towards him and frowning. “You can have it.”

Jongin snorts, taking Kyungsoo’s serving and setting it next to his own. He likes crème brulee, he doesn’t mind having to eat two.

“Maybe you can ask the chef to make you some cake after everyone is gone,” he suggests, licking his spoon before going in for another bite.

Kyungsoo eyes completely light up at the suggestion. “I can do that?” he whispers seriously, looking beyond excited.

Jongin blinks dumbly at him, but eventually nods his head. “Well, of course, it’s not like you’re declaring war on anyone. It should be fine if you ask for whatever food you want,” he explains, shrugging before going back to his dessert.

“Can you send me back my book?” Kyungsoo questions, fiddling with one of the centerpieces curiously. 

Jongin frowns, “Your book?”

“The one I left under my pillow. I forgot it,” Kyungsoo replies, his eyes widening when he manages to make a petal fall off the flower closest to him.

Jongin remembers the book, the one with all the fairytales and stained pages. He’s kept it in their room sitting on the dresser for awhile now. He’s read over it a couple of times to Joohyuk when the boy bugs him. Jongin supposes Kyungsoo misses it, and that he won’t be coming back with them tomorrow morning.

“Oh, of course, I’ll send it when I get back,” he replies, not bothering to bring it up because he doesn’t want to ruin his dessert. He expected it would happen anyways, there’s no need to cause a scene over it.

“Th-thank you,” Kyungsoo mumbles, giving him a tiny smile before going back to picking at the flower.

Jongin sighs, stirring his spoon in his dessert that still somehow managed to be ruined. He'll just have to give it to Joohyuk he supposes. 

Chapter Text

Junyoung has known Jongin long enough that he’s grown accustomed to his oblivious nature. Majority of the time he focuses on one aspect of something that he doesn’t see the big picture. It’s not really a fault of his, it’s just how he is and it’s never really bothered him before. But, if he has to hear the younger boy let out a long sigh one more time, he might get up and tackle him to floor.

“Is there something bothering you?” he questions for the third time that evening, looking up from his book and watching as the younger Prince purses his lips and flips the page of the encyclopedia he has out.

Jongin had insisted he needed help with some sort of botanical information regarding the pond that is under construction and Junyoung agreed to help. He has a book on varies types of flowers in his lap, paying close attention to the pages that have been marked by Kyungsoo supposedly. Things were silent for a while before the sighing began and no matter how many times and ways he’s phrased the question, Jongin won’t admit what’s bothering him. It’s wearing down his patience.

“No,” Jongin mumbles, flipping through the book without reading a word on the page.

Junyoung takes a deep breath and looks back at his own book, his eyebrow twitching when Jongin lets out a tiny grumble. “If you don’t just tell me what’s wrong I’ll strangle you,” he threatens, patience thrown out the window at this point. The look Jongin would be comical if he wasn’t already annoyed at his stubbornness.

“Nothing is wrong. I’m completely fine,” Jongin insists, shaking his head before setting his book down on the desk he’s at.

Junyoung scoffs, “You’re being a child. Just act like a grown up and tell me what’s wrong instead of moping around the palace like a child,” he states sternly, getting glared at by his brother-in-law.

Nothing is wrong. I’m completely fine, and I’m not moping,” Jongin huffs out, crossing his arms stubbornly and glaring out the window.

Junyoung takes another deep breath and counts to three in his head before closing his book and moving to give the younger boy a serious look.

“If you wanted Kyungsoo to come back home with us, you should have said something,” states bluntly. No use bothering to try and pry the words out of the boy’s mouth at this point.

Jongin moves to give him another glare, his jaws working as he grinds his teeth, his temper flaring up. It’s typical, and Junyoung really doesn’t get affected by his short fuse on matters he obviously doesn’t want to deal with.

“You’re an idiot if you think I could just ask him that!” Jongin snaps causing him to roll his eyes. “Do you seriously think he’d pick me over his dad? I can’t ask him to do that.”

Junyoung sighs this time, rubbing his hands over his face in exasperation.

“You know what? Forget it,” he decides, shaking his head at the absurdity of it all. “The day you stop being a dense, hard headed child is the day Joohyuk stops sneaking out of his lessons,” he declares.

Jongin grumbles some more before begrudgingly picking his book back up. Junyoung does the same, occasionally making a mental note of how many times Jongin is going to think he doesn’t notice him glaring at his face.

Junyoung is just about to comment on it when someone clears their throat, making him flinch and Jongin yell, dropping his book right on his foot. Junyoung smiles despite himself, because he’s a firm believer in karma.

“Don’t you know how to make noise when you walk?” Jongin snaps, huffing as he picks up his book with a bright blush on his cheeks.

Junyoung snickers before looking over at Dongwan, his other brother-in-law not looking the least bit sorry or interested in anything, but he always looks like that.

“Maybe you should try and listen better,” Dongwan replies, moving closer to Jongin and dropping a white envelope on the desk without a care. “This is for you. Apparently, I have been reduced to delivering mail.”

Junyoung snorts, knowing quite well how many letters Dongwan has been sending and delivering the past month a half. Dongwan isn’t someone who strikes up a conversation with you, you have to initiate it, but he does know how to socialize. If Junyoung asks him what he’s doing delivering letters, he’ll answer honestly.

So Junyoung is well aware of the fact that King Byun tried to proposition a marriage to Kyungsoo. Although highly inappropriate in his opinion, it makes complete sense in a political perspective. The Byun’s and the old King Do weren’t exactly on friendly terms. If things hadn’t unraveled like they did, a war was bound to have broken out in the next couple of years.

“Who is writing our lovely Jongin?” he questions, sneaking a peek at the younger boy who has an unreadable look on his face.

“His husband, who else?” Dongwan questions, not reading at all into the social cues he’s trying to give him. Junyoung shakes his head, rolling his eyes in exasperation. Between Jongin and Dongwan he’s the most normal, and that’s saying something.

“What do I do?” Jongin questions, staring at the letter like it’s some foreign object.

Junyoung decides right then and there that he doesn’t get enough credit for putting up with the boy.

“You don’t know how to open a letter?” Dongwan states bluntly, causing Jongin to glare at him.

“Ignore him, he’s just emotionally constipated. Maybe you should tell him about what your father asked Kyungsoo. Might be the push he needs,” he instigates, looking back down at the book he’s been neglecting and attempting to read.

“I’m too old to be involved in his dramatics. I’m leaving. You deal with him,” Dongwan replies, turning around and leaving as soon as the words leave his mouth.

“I am not dramatic,” Jongin huffs, snatching the letter up and opening it. “But what are you talking about?”

Junyoung yawns, shaking his head as a response. “It’s nothing, what does your letter say?” he asks.

Jongin is already being enough of a headache right now. He doesn’t want to give him a bigger reason to be. When the younger boy doesn’t say anything, he looks up, watching Jongin slowly read over whatever it is Kyungsoo wrote. Junyoung can’t see how much is written from his spot, so he’s not sure what’s taking him so long.

“Well?” he pesters, eyeing the other Prince impatiently.

“Kyungsoo says that they’re going on a trip. He was just letting me know since they’ll be gone for over a week,” Jongin replies, frowning before folding the parchment back up.

“That’s nice that he’s letting you know,” he states, watching as Jongin shrugs before pouting, going back to his moping. “Where is he going?”

“He didn’t say,” Jongin mumbles.

Junyoung represses a sigh. “Are you going to admit you're moping now?” he questions tiredly, getting ready to leave because if Jongin got a letter, Joohyuk most definitely got one as well.

“Princes do not mope,” Jongin replies stubbornly.

“Let me know when you’re done lying to yourself,” Junyoung announces before getting up and leaving the library. If he has to deal with a child it might as well be his own, not his brother-in-law.

Chapter Text

Apparently, the Do’s own a large lake house near the edge of their territories. Kyungsoo never knew this, well, because he’s always been someone who isn’t told important things like this. It’s never been any of his business to know what kind of properties they owned; he would never be in control of any of them.

It’s where their impromptu trip is taking place, an army base nearby that apparently, his father needs to inspect now that he’s officially king. Kyungsoo really doesn’t understand why he had to come, more than happy to have stayed behind like he always does, but his father insisted he tag along.

Seungsoo stayed behind and is in charge of the castle while they’re gone and Kyungsoo has to admit he’s jealous the elder got to stay while he had to endure a long carriage ride with Pan constantly whining and his stomach unkindly reminding him that he doesn’t do well on these kinds of long trips.

When they arrive Kyungsoo wants nothing more than to confine himself to a room but he’s forced to endure a very awkward lunch with the general of the base. In all honesty, the general scares Kyungsoo, just like Dongwan’s always scared him.

Although he’s just as clean cut, his back as straight as a board, at least the general smiles and looks somewhat normal when conversing. Regardless, he’s still got a sword and who knows what else hidden in compartments of his uniform.

Kyungsoo is minding his own business, cutting up his boiled carrots into little bite sized portions out of boredom when he hears someone clear their throat. Looking up he’s surprised to be the center of attention, his father, the general, and the higher ranking soldiers that accompanied staring at him.

Kyungsoo fights back a blush, sitting up a little and looking towards his father who doesn’t look the least bit bothered at his lack of attention.

“I’m sorry, I wasn’t paying attention,” he excuses, clearing his throat and awkwardly setting his fork down.

The general laughs, although he looks a little uncomfortable now. “I was asking if you were going to accompany your father the King to the base.”

Kyungsoo frowns, looking towards his father who doesn’t give him a clue as to what he should say. He supposes it’s going to be up to him, his father never demanding him to really do anything he doesn’t want to, besides accompany him on this trip.

Kyungsoo bites his lip, wanting to shrug but he knows that probably wouldn’t go over well, the general will probably be insulted. He’s never seen actual soldiers in a base, but he’s read about them before.

“No thank you,” he replies, wanting to explore the house that he’s being forced to stay in for the next week.

He’s never even heard of this house before, therefore he knows where nothing is and he has a total of seven days here. He might as well map out the house so he doesn’t get bored. He only brought one book with him and he finished it on the way there.

Once his father and their guests have left he decides he’ll explore the downstairs first, thankful there are no bottom levels of the estate. He starts in the living room and then moves to the hallways, looking room to room and finding nothing but boring beds with plain white sheets.

He finishes one hallway and moves on to the next, freezing in his spot when he sees the walls lines with paintings. He looks at the one closest to him, realizing its some distant relative he’s never heard of. The one next to it is the same, and the one after that. The further down the hall he gets to, the slower he starts to recognize the portraits.

He remembers these paintings of his great-grandfather, his grandfather, whom he really does resemble. He doesn’t move, because he knows whose painting he’ll see next and he has to mentally prepare himself.

It’s just a painting. It’s not real, he tells himself, taking deep breaths before forcing his head to move in the direction of the framed portrait. It’s not real, he’s dead, he reminds himself, taking a deep breath before biting his lip harshly.

He looks exactly how he remembers him. Mean, more gray hair than black, narrow cold eyes. He doesn’t look happy, never did when he was alive either. Smiles were almost always a sign you were in trouble, and Kyungsoo flinches from the memory of it.

Kyungsoo hates how even after he’s dead he still manages to make him afraid. Hesitantly he reaches forward, grabbing onto the frame with shaking hands, forcing it off the wall and nearly dropping it on his foot.

It’s a struggle to carry the thing back towards the main living room, the maids and servant boys giving him odd looks on the way. He’s nearly out of breath by the time he makes it over to the fireplace and shoves the portrait in it as best he can.

He coughs when smoke blows in his face, fanning his hands and moving back as it starts to catch fire, the flames quickly turning the dull paints a charcoal black.

Eventually he sits down, watching the fire slowly turn the portrait into ash. The blues and greys turning into black with red flames surrounding. His eyes burn, the smell of smoke probably embedded in his clothes and in his hair by the time the frame is charred and the portrait no longer looks like anyone.

Kyungsoo wants to bite his nails, but he doesn’t. He sits and he just stares, chewing on his lip and not saying a word, no matter how many maids question him. He doesn’t look away until he feels a hand on his shoulder that when he looks up, belongs to his father.

He sits next to him and Kyungsoo goes back to staring, taking a deep breath and wiping his eyes when he starts to feel teary. It’s just a stupid portrait, he shouldn’t want to hide in his room and never come out over it.

“Are you alright?” he hears his father question and he laughs, shaking his head no.

Kyungsoo doesn’t think he’s ever been alright. Except maybe when he was at the Kim’s and for a moment he forgot he spent his childhood hidden away from everyone. How the man he thought was his father for seventeen years used to beat him. They almost helped him forget about it. Almost.

“I’m sorry.”

Kyungsoo sniffles, rubbing his nose before tucking his hands underneath his legs so he won’t bite his nails raw like he wants.

“It’s not your fault,” he replies softly, knowing that his father is just as much of a victim as he is. He can understand that much. It’s not his fault. He didn’t do anything; couldn’t do anything.

“I brought you here to tell you that the castle is going to be demolished. They’re going to rebuild it here instead.”

Kyungsoo looks over at his father who’s staring at the fireplace, a blank look on his face that is all to recognizable to him.

“I don’t think any of us have any fond memories of the place.”

Kyungsoo nods his head, rubbing his eyes before looking down at his lap. Even with all the new colors and decoration, there are just some things you can’t change. Kyungsoo will always remember every single place in there that gave him a bad memory. Different décor wasn’t going to make him forget.

“I think, that being with the Kim’s is what’s best for you.”

Kyungsoo blinks, turning towards his father worriedly. “You don’t want me to stay?” he questions, fighting back tears because he’s messed up somehow. His father said he loved him, but he doesn’t want him to stay.

“I would love nothing more for you to stay here with me, but I think that’s just me being selfish. I love you and I want you to be happy, and I think the Kim’s made you happy.”

Kyungsoo doesn’t know what to say, staring straight ahead at the fire place and trying to think. He doesn’t know if he was happy at the Kim’s, but he wasn’t always sad. They let him eat whatever he wanted, told him he could go anywhere he pleased and even put up with him when he didn’t feel like talking. He supposes his father may be right.

“I don’t know how to be happy,” he confesses, biting his lip harshly. He’s so used to being miserable that the thought of him not having to be anymore is terrifying. He has no idea how to live his life without constantly worrying about a dead man.

“I think they could help you, learn to be happy, and if you ever wanted to come back, I’ll be here,” his father states, turning towards him and pulling him into a hug. Kyungsoo lets him, burying his face in his father’s coat, taking a deep breath and trying to fight the urge to move away.

It’s his father, he can hug his father. His father loves him and wants him to be happy. Even if he’s still not used to hugging people, he wants to remember it as a good memory, not a bad one.

When he pulls away he looks up, noting that his father looks sad, but he’s still smiling at him.

“Can I write to you?” he questions, not knowing what he would even say. When his father nods his head he smiles a little, “Will you visit me sometimes?”

“If the Kim’s will have me. I’m sure your brother will want to visit as well,” his father replies, reaching over and wiping his face for him.

Kyungsoo blushes, but smiles nonetheless, feeling like he can finally breathe right again. Once he’s taken everything in he looks back at his father.

“When can I go home?” he questions, hoping the Kim’s chef still knows how to make those chocolate breakfast tarts he likes.

 

---

 

Jongin wakes up when the sun starts peeking through the curtains, hitting him right in the eye uncomfortably. He groans as he turns over, not wanting to get up. He’d rather sleep in, but knowing he won’t be able to fall back asleep he decides to slowly open his eyes. He looks around and spots someone on his couch, sitting with a blanket on their lap and book in their hands. Still too tired he thinks nothing of it and sighs, snuggling deeper into his blanket.

“Good morning,” the person greets, looking up from his book and staring at him.

“’Morning,” Jongin replies, closing his eyes, wondering why someone is in his room before realizing that person is Kyungsoo. His eyes shoot back open, his mind playing catch up as he jumps out of bed, stumbling and falling on the floor with a loud thud.

Kyungsoo stares at him oddly before snorting, covering his face with his book as he starts to laugh. Jongin can’t even comprehend what’s going on, let alone be mad that the boy is laughing at him.

“What are you doing here?” he questions, his voice cracking as he clumsily moves to get up, thanking the heavens he actually wore a shirt to bed last night, otherwise this would have been ten times more chaotic.

Kyungsoo stops laughing long enough to give him a reply, “I live here,” he states, shaking his head before going back to reading his book like he hasn’t just randomly shown up in his room over night.

Jongin gapes, blinking his eyes and trying to understand. He stares at Kyungsoo silently, realizing even Pan is here, sitting at the bottom of the couch sleeping. When Kyungsoo notices he’s still staring he looks back up, frowning slightly.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” Kyungsoo mumbles, closing his book and bringing his knees up to his chest.

Jongin opens his mouth, closes it, thinks some more before opening it back up again to form a response.

“How long have you been here?” is what he comes up with, shaking his head and rubbing his eyes, to make sure he’s not going crazy he pinches his arm for good measure.

Kyungsoo shrugs, “Since last night. You were already asleep, so I slept on the couch. Can I have the bed back?” his husband questions, tilting his head.

Jongin nods his head slowly, trying to absorb the fact that Kyungsoo has been here all night while he was sleeping. Kyungsoo is back, he came back all on his own without him having to beg. Jongin doesn’t know what to do with all this new information.

“I’m going to go eat,” Kyungsoo announces, getting up and waking Pan up in the process, the dog looking around before spotting him and rushing over to jump on his legs.

Jongin doesn’t know what compels him to do it, but his feet move on his own and before he can process the look Kyungsoo is giving him he pulls the younger boy into a hug, burying his face in his hair. Kyungsoo is back and he didn’t think he would ever be this happy to see him but he is and oh…he thinks he might have realized something. Junyoung is going to tease him now. He grunts when Kyungsoo shoves him off, giving him a glare.

“What was that for?” Kyungsoo questions, widening the distance between them and crossing his arms over his chest.

“I don’t know,” Jongin admits slowly, blinking dumbly at his husband who is giving him a hard look.

“Don’t hug me without my permission,” Kyungsoo grumbles, reaching up and smoothing his hair down with a frown.

“So you’ll let me hug you again?” he questions, smiling when Kyungsoo’s eyes widen comically before he’s back to glaring at him.

“That’s not what I said!” his husband snaps at him.

“You said I had to ask,” he replies, wanting to reach over and ruffle the younger boys hair even though he just fixed it.

Kyungsoo huffs irritably before giving him one last glare, “I’m too hungry to deal with you.”

Jongin doesn’t reply, just watches as his husband turns around and walks over towards the door, Pan on his trail. He stands there stunned for who knows how long until someone else comes to stand in the doorway.

Junyoung gives him a very odd look before speaking. “What are you smiling about?”

“I’m smiling?” he questions, not having realized he was doing such a thing. He blinks his eyes dumbly at his brother-in-law.

“Yes?”

“Oh, um, Kyungsoo is back,” he admits, feeling his lips start to twitch. He’s happy. Kyungsoo is back and he’s happy.

“Yes, your father told us last night. Kyungsoo was very…excited last night. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him talk so much,” Junyoung admits.

Jongin nods his head, realizing that he was talking more than normal. He didn’t even realize it because he was too much in shock that he was back home to begin with. But Kyungsoo is back, he doesn’t know why but he is.

“I’m glad your moping has stopped. It was getting rather annoying,” Junyoung comments.

Jongin glares, “Mind your own business,” he grumbles, walking past his brother-in-law before he starts teasing him.  

Chapter Text

Kyungsoo has been back home for a total of two days, and he’s already questioning his decision to come home so quickly. He’s content to be back at the Kim’s, he’s missed the food and the warmth of the castle, he missed Joohyuk and Jongin’s comfortable bed. He’s been spending most of his time in the library, because libraries are always a nice place to be, but even being in his favorite place doesn’t stop him from being annoyed.

Jongin won’t stop following him around, bugging him so much that he hasn’t even finished the book he started yesterday. It’s annoying, but Kyungsoo promised King Kim he would be polite to Jongin when he complained to him last night. So he can’t tell him to go away or to shut up, he has to be nice.

Currently he is in the front study, near the fire place with the book he’s working on and Pan roaming the room out of boredom. Prince Jongin is sitting across from him, staring at him annoyingly.

“What’s your favorite color?” Jongin pesters, causing his eye to twitch in annoyance. He’s barely made a dent in the third chapter of this particular novel because the elder keeps asking him useless questions like this.

Kyungsoo takes a deep breath, “I don’t have one,” he replies, trying to concentrate on the words on the page rather than Jongin who is staring at him with a frown.

“Oh…”

Kyungsoo goes back to his reading, thankful for the silence, even though he knows it won’t last long. He’s proven right when Jongin scoots closer, reaching over and pushing his book down lower so that he’s forced to have to look at him.

What?” he all but snaps, frustrated with the elder being so weird and annoying lately. He only has so much patience for being interrupted. He tries to keep the glare off his face at least.

“Um….never mind! Go back to reading!” Jongin replies quickly, scooting back to his original spot and Kyungsoo is thankful, shaking his head before going back to his book.

Kyungsoo finally manages to finish a chapter, content with the silence and his progress. He’s starting a new chapter when he notices Jongin has disappeared from the room. He sighs in relief, smiling as he gets up and moves to the couch, getting settled in perfectly. He’s finally going to be able to finish his book.

He’s just barely made a dent in the next chapter when he feels the end of the couch dip, someone sitting down near his feet. Kyungsoo internally whines, closing his eyes and counting to three before opening them up again and looking across the couch.

He isn’t the least bit surprised that Jongin is now back in the room, a black book in his hands that he practically shoves in his face, making him flinch and drop the book he’s currently holding.

“This is for you!” Jongin all but shrieks, looking skittish and a little sweaty. It’s disturbing and Kyungsoo vaguely wonders if the elder is sick. Kyungsoo stares skeptically, eyeing the book before looking up at Jongin.

“Why?” he questions slowly, not moving to take the book from Jongin just yet. He reads the title as best as he can, the font being too skinny for him to make it out without his glasses.

“It’s a, uh, gift?” Jongin replies, sounding unsure of himself and it does nothing to ease his skepticism.

“Why?” he re-questions, reaching over hesitantly and just taking the thing from Jongin quickly, not wanting to get yelled at for refusing it.

“It’s about horses. We don’t have any foals yet, won’t for a couple of months, but uh, you could have one?” Jongin explains, looking confused. The elder blinks a couple of times before shrugging, rubbing the back of his neck, “You really don’t know how to ride one so uh, I thought a book might help. I should go now because I think my father is calling for me.”

Kyungsoo doesn’t even have time to process it long enough to say thank you before Jongin is back out of the room, going who knows where because no one is calling for him.

Sighing he looks down at the book, opening it up and noting that there’s nice pictures. Pursing his lips he gets up from his spot, abandoning his blanket and the book he was trying to read in opt to go question someone about what exactly the elder’s motive is.

He doesn’t find King Kim or Queen Kim, so he gives up, going back to the front of the castle to see if he can find anyone. He ends up finding Prince Junyoung, who is nice as far as Kyungsoo is concerned so he hesitantly walks up to him, poking him on the arm and then immediately stepping so they’re far enough that he can’t retaliate in any way, just in case.

Junyoung turns towards him with a confused frown before spotting him and smiling. “Oh, Kyungsoo! Have you seen Jongin?”

Kyungsoo gives a firm nod, “He said his father was calling him,” he replies, shifting on his feet and holding his book a little tighter.

Junyoung frowns, “He’s not even here…,” he mutters, shaking his head before spotting the book in his arms and smiling, a curious glint in his eyes. Kyungsoo frowns.

“I think he’s sick,” he comments sternly, “He keeps acting weird and he won’t leave me alone. Can you make him leave me alone?” he questions, hopeful that Junyoung will do it. He grabbed a book on the top shelf of the library when he asked one time. 

“He gave you that book?” Junyoung questions, ignoring his request completely making him frown.

Kyungsoo nods, “Yes. Do you know why?” he questions, getting no response from the elder who is still staring at the book instead.

“I get a horse later,” he comments, shrugging before showing the book to Junyoung who looks at it more closely with a smile. “I can’t read in peace if he keeps annoying me. Can you make him stop annoying me? Please?” he pesters some more, already given up on finding out why he got the present to begin with. Junyoung is being of no help.

“I think I’m going to go have a chat with him, I can’t make any promises though,” Junyoung replies, giving him a smile and a pat on the shoulder before walking away.

Kyungsoo sighs, shaking his head before dragging himself back to the front study, wanting to get in as much reading as he can before Jongin bugs him...again.

Chapter Text

It’s the middle of the week when it starts to snow. Jongin can’t be bothered to pretend to be as excited as Joohyuk, knowing that the snow will only hinder finishing up Kyungsoo’s pond. But he does manage to go outside and build a snowman with his nephew when everyone else is too busy. Kyungsoo doesn’t go outside with them, just watches from inside the castle with a book and pan nearby.

Kyungsoo has seen snow, just never actually up close or touched it. Jongin can’t pressure the boy to venture outside so he just stares at him from afar, where at least he can’t make himself look like a bumbling idiot.

Right now, he’s hiding out in the front study after humiliating himself yet again in front of the younger boy. He managed to actually trip over his own two feet in the library earlier. Kyungsoo almost cried from laughing and Pan had rushed over to lick his face leaving him smelling like dog.

It was a horrible experience he never wants to relive.

“There you are!” Junyoung chirps, making him twitch in surprise as he turns around, giving the elder a glare.

“What do you want?” Jongin grumbles, not in the mood to be teased endlessly by his brother-in-law.

“Are you hiding from your dearly beloved in here?” Junyoung questions, taking a seat across from him with a smug smile on his lips.

Jongin’s glare hardens. “He is not my dearly...whatever, and I’m not hiding,” he hisses, turning his head and directing his glare at the fire place.

“You’re courting your own husband, he is your dearly whatever at this point,” Junyoung replies, “But I came here for a reason other than to tease you. The Royal Court is here to speak with Kyungsoo and I thought you would want to listen in.”

Jongin immediately perks up, “What? Why? They’re not going to make him go back home are they?” he questions, getting out of his chair and smacking Junyoung on the arm for laughing at him.

“Quit laughing at me!” he huffs.

“Fine, fine,” Junyoung relents, “Just admit you have feelings for your husband and I’ll leave you alone.”

Jongin glares, grinding his teeth together as he feels his cheeks heat up. Just because he’s admitted it to himself doesn’t mean he wants to say it out loud. He likes Kyungsoo, more than just someone he’s married to by arrangement. He doesn’t love him, at least not romantically, but he wants the boy to be happy and feels like his stomach is in his throat when he actually smiles. So sue him. He has feelings. He doesn’t have to admit that to anyone other than himself.

“You’re a liar,” Jongin huffs out, ignoring his brother-in-law and walking out of the room to go investigate what the Royal Council is doing there.

He doesn’t have to search for long, finding them all in the main hall in the front of the castle. Kyungsoo is already present, nodding his head at something his father has said. Curious Jongin rushes the rest of the way, bowing properly to the elders and then going to Kyungsoo’s side.

“What’s going on?” he questions, watching Kyungsoo’s face for any kind of negative reaction, but he seems unbothered by the council’s presence.

“I have to sign something,” Kyungsoo mumbles, biting on his lip and shrugging lightly. Jongin frowns, looking towards his father for a better explanation.

“Kyungsoo is giving up his status as the crowned prince, seeing as how he has no intentions of ever being King. Seungsoo will take his place. We just have to have the proper paperwork for it to be permanent,” his father explains, patting Kyungsoo on the shoulder before going off to speak with a member of the council.

Jongin looks down at Kyungsoo, blinking in surprise. It never even occurred to him that Kyungsoo would have to legally give up his rightful place in line for the throne. He doesn’t even look the least bit bothered by it other than the fact that he’s chewing on his nails.

“So, you’re not going back home?” he questions, just because he wants to actually hear it.

Kyungsoo looks up at him and frowns, his eyebrows furrowing, “This is my home,” he states bluntly.

Jongin blinks dumbly, nodding his head and laughing awkwardly when Kyungsoo continues to stare at him like he’s lost his mind.

“Oh, right, of course,” he laughs out, clearing his throat and rubbing the back of his neck. “It’s your home. You live here.”

“That’s what I just said,” Kyungsoo replies, shaking his head and moving away from him. “Are you sick again?” his husband questions skeptically, looking him up and down with his nose scrunched up.

“Um, not that I am aware of?” he replies, frowning and feeling his own forehead just in case. He doesn’t feel warm.

“Then quit acting so weird,” Kyungsoo mutters, shaking his head before going off to stand closer towards the council, his foot tapping impatiently.

Jongin frowns, pinching the bridge of his nose and mentally scolding himself for yet again making himself look stupid in front of Kyungsoo. The younger prince probably thinks he’s crazy now. He should have just endured Jinyoung's teasing, he thinks miserably. 

 

Chapter Text

The closer they near the winter solstice the more it snows. Kyungsoo doesn’t think he likes snow. It’s cold and he doesn’t care for cold things. The cold always reminds him of the castle, the dungeons, cold hands. He doesn’t think he would like snow. So he stays inside and says no whenever Joohyuk asks to go build a snowman or make snow angels, whatever those are. He much rather stay inside where it’s warm and read a book or take a nap.

Kyungsoo hasn’t seen much of Prince Jongin the past couple of days, the elder seeming busy with whatever it is that has his attention. Kyungsoo knows it isn’t his pond, seeing as how the snow is starting to pile up too much for any kind of work on it to be done. He overheard the elder whining about it to Prince Junyoung earlier in the week. He doesn't know what Jongin is up to, but he didn't even sleep in the room last night.

Kyungsoo currently has nothing to do, already having written letters to both his father and Seungsoo for the week and Joohyuk is busy with lessons. Even Pan is out with the trainers, hunting or something that requires being outside and Kyungsoo opted out watching.

Bored, he decides to look for his husband, searching the second floor before going to the bottom and asking a maid, but she hasn’t seen him anywhere. He doesn’t find him there either so he decides on a snack, going to the kitchens and looking through the basket of fruit for an apple.

Hearing a sneeze Kyungsoo flinches, dropping the green apple in his hands and whirling around with wide eyes, his breathing returning to normal when he sees it’s just Jongin, the elder's nose red and a white handkerchief in his hands.

“Sorry, didn’t meant to scare you,” the elder apologizes, his voice sounding weird. “I just came for some lemons.”

Kyungsoo nods his head and whispers that it’s fine, eyeing the elder as he searches near the cupboards.  He wasn’t aware Jongin was sick, but it explains why he hasn’t seen him since yesterday. Kyungsoo gives up on finding the perfect apple when the elder starts coughing, holding onto the counter like he might fall over.

“Is it just me or is the room really blurry?” Jongin mumbles, looking at him with unfocused eyes before sneezing again.

Kyungsoo’s nose scrunches up when the elder brings his handkerchief up to his nose and blows, the sound making his appetite dissipate. He doesn’t know how to react when Jongin mumbles before sliding down to sit with his back against the counter.

“If you’re sick you should be in bed,” he voices, gnawing on his lower lip worriedly when Jongin doesn’t respond. Hesitantly he moves forward, dropping to his knees and reaching out to poke the elder. When Jongin doesn’t respond, he frowns, reaching out to feel his forehead, the skin hot to the touch making his hand feel clammy.

“Cold,” the elder mumbles, cracking his eyes open causing Kyungsoo to immediately draw his hand back into his lap, scooting away from the other. “Always cold.”

Kyungsoo doesn’t know what to say, so he mumbles out an apology before standing up and moving to leave and search for someone to drag the elder back to his bed when the elder grabs his leg.

“Don’t.”

Kyungsoo looks towards the door and then back at Jongin, sighing before sitting back down, watching the elder skeptically. He must be really sick if he’s sweating and his cheeks are flushed pink. Kyungsoo will probably get sick now too, since the elder isn’t letting him leave.

Jongin doesn’t say anything else that he can make out, but he keeps mumbling to himself with his face scrunched up before he laughs at whatever he’s said to himself. He must be delirious, Kyungsoo realizes, probably won’t remember any of this once he’s better. Kyungsoo figures it can’t hurt to ask the elder something that has been bothering him for some time now. He hasn't had the nerve to ask anyone yet. But Jongin is delirious with a fever.

“C-can I ask you a question?” he stutters out, watching as Jongin looks at him with unfocused eyes, he looks a little confused before he nods his head slowly.

Kyungsoo hesitates, biting his lip harshly before taking a deep breath, staring at his hands instead. “H-how do you know you’re happy?” he questions, not wanting to look at how Jongin is reacting but when he doesn’t hear anything he raises his head.

Jongin just looks confused, but that might just be the fever. Kyungsoo waits patiently, wondering if Jongin even understood him when the silence stretches on. He thinks maybe he shouldn’t have said anything, the elder won’t understand him, when Jongin lets out a loud sigh.

“It’s a feeling, I don’t know how to explain it,” Jongin slurs, shrugging his shoulders and giving him a lopsided smile. “Do you think you’re happy?”

Kyungsoo goes rigid in his spot, immediately looking away from the elder. He wasn’t expecting Jongin to ask him anything in return, especially not about feelings Kyungsoo doesn’t quite understand just yet. But Jongin is expecting an answer, one he probably won’t remember due to his fever, so he supposes it really doesn’t matter. Jongin will forget this conversation by later tonight.

“Yes,” he admits, resisting the urge to bite his nails. Saying it out loud is probably not a good idea, because now it probably won’t last, like always, but he’s used to that now. He might as well admit it to someone who at least won’t remember him ever saying such a thing. “I’m happy,” he states softly, flinching when Jongin starts coughing again.

He nearly yells in surpise when he hears the door slam open, immediately standing up and turning around quickly.

“Kim Jongin I told you to stay in bed,” Queen Kim scolds, stepping aside for physician Jun to come into the kitchen and rush over to Jongin who is still having a coughing fit.

Kyungsoo smiles hesitantly at her when she notices him, “He, um, wanted lemons,” he explains, looking away when he hears Jongin start mumbling to himself again. “He has a fever,” he adds on, wanting to laugh when the elder tries shooing the physician’s assistant away but his limbs aren’t quite cooperating and he looks a bit ridiculous.

“Yes, he’s quite stubborn when he’s sick. It might take a while to get him back to bed, why don’t you go see Joohyuk? He just finished his lesson on writing his name. He’s quite excited,” Queen Kim tells him with a smile, so he nods, moving towards the door.

He pauses before actually walking out, turning back around and shifting on his feet.

“Um, he can sleep on his bed…. I’ll sleep somewhere else,” he mutters before turning back around and quickly hurrying to find Joohyuk.

Chapter Text

Jongin wakes up with a headache and his mouth feeling like cotton. He’s in his bed, which is odd because he hasn’t slept on it since Kyungsoo was gone. Peeking out from under his covers he confirms that he is indeed in his bed, his room completely empty. Yawning Jongin sits up, looking around in confusion and immediately reaching for the glass of water that sitting on the little table near his bed. He takes giant gulps, feeling like he hasn’t had anything to drink in days. Once he’s finished his water he gets out of bed, heading straight towards the bathroom and sighing in relief when there’s already a bath drawn for him. Luckily it must have just been filled, the water still being warm.

After he’s bathed away the dirt and sweat he’s accumulated from being in bed for who knows how many days, he leaves the room. He has no idea what day of the week it is, or how long he was sick for, so he immediately goes downstairs to look for someone who can fill him in on what he’s missed. But first he goes to the kitchen, feeling his stomach start to grumble loudly at him. Luckily the chef has leftovers from breakfast and gives him a plate when he asks. He eats it all in record time, downing a glass of milk as well before continuing his search.

Unfortunately, the first person he sees happens to be Dongwan, the elder giving him a plain look but telling him he’s glad he feels better.

“Thank you,” Jongin replies, always feeling awkward around his brother-in-law. “Have you seen my husband?” he questions, not having seen him in who knows how long.

“Last I heard he was in the front room with your mother. I believe his dog did something he didn’t quite like. I’m not sure, I didn’t ask.”

Jongin refrains from rolling his eyes, thanking Dongwan before heading towards the front study where Kyungsoo often hides out. He doesn’t think Pan can do anything that bad, other than killing a poor mouse and bringing it to someone, so he isn’t sure why Kyungsoo would be upset.

Kyungsoo’s never gotten upset with Pan, even that time he bit him on accident when it was thundering and the poor thing got scared. But when he walks into the front study and sees a book completely torn to shreds, he completely understands.

It’s Kyungsoo’s favorite book; the one with the fraying pages and yellow tint to the parchment. It looks like Pan decided to chew on it until it looked almost unrecognizable.

Kyungsoo is sitting on the couch, knees drawn up to his chest and eyes red around the edges. Jongin’s mother is sitting next to him and rubbing his arm soothingly, but Kyungsoo sniffles before burying his face and crying. Jongin is definitely not sharing his scraps with Pan at dinner later. 

“Oh, you’re awake!” his mother comments, looking surprised to see him and momentarily he wonders how sick he was for her to be giving him a look like that. “Are you feeling better?”

Jongin nods, walking over and awkwardly standing near the couch, no room to sit while his mother is next to his husband.

“Um, you can go now that I'm awake,” he mumbles, not knowing how to politely tell his mother to move so he can sit there instead. Luckily she doesn’t take offense and gives him the same motherly smile she always gives him. She pats Kyungsoo in the back before getting up, giving him a kiss on the head before saying she’s going to go speak to his father.

Once his mother is gone he takes a seat next to Kyungsoo, not knowing if he’s allowed to hug the boy he sits awkwardly with his hands in his lap.

“I’m sorry about your book,” he says softly, watching as Kyungsoo lifts his head to look at him.

His eyes are red and his nose is a light shade of pink and he sniffles twice before reaching up to wipe at his eyes before going back to hug onto his legs.

“My mother gave me that book,” Kyungsoo whispers, voice sounding scratchy and tired.

Jongin frowns, not knowing much about Kyungsoo’s mother other than how quiet and pale she was. He doubts Kyungsoo got many presents in his life at the Do castle. So, it must have been really important to him, and now it’s completely unreadable.

“I’m sure Pan didn’t mean it,” he comments, not knowing where the dog is right now but he assumes he’s in the stables.

“I know,” Kyungsoo replies, continuing to stare at the remnants of his book with a sad, depressing look in his eyes.

Jongin feels like crying just looking at him. “I’m sorry,” he apologizes, not even at fault for anything but he still feels sorry.

Kyungsoo doesn’t have many things he actually loves, but that book was one of them and now it’s ruined.

“It’s okay,” Kyungsoo mumbles, sniffling before rubbing at his nose, never taking his eyes off the book.

Jongin doesn’t really think it’s okay, but he can’t force Kyungsoo to admit that. Sighing he runs his hands through his hair, wondering what he should do with the book. He doesn’t want Kyungsoo to have to stare at it all day, but he doesn’t think the younger boy will like it if he tries to dispose of it.

“Can we have cake for dessert?” Kyungsoo questions, snapping him out of his mental dilemma.

Jongin blinks, turning towards his husband who is currently messing with a loose string on his shirt. He doesn’t look like he’s going to start crying any time soon, which is good.

“Of course,” he rushes out, trying to catch up with the request being thrown out. “You can have any cake you want! Do you want chocolate? Strawberry? I’ll tell them to make it right now!”

Kyungsoo eyes him for a while before scooting over away from him and towards the far end of the couch. “Are you sick again?”

Jongin flushes, feeling his face heat up. “Of course not. I feel fine…how long was I sick for, by the way?”

Kyungsoo shrugs, “Three days. You had a bad fever,” he tells him softly before going back to look at his torn up book.

Jongin nods, trying to think back and vaguely remembering something about lemons in the kitchen. “Right,” he mumbles, “So, what kind of cake do you want?”

“Chocolate, please,” Kyungsoo replies, letting out a sigh. “Can you leave me alone now?”

Jongin frowns, but agrees and nods his head. Kyungsoo probably wants to be alone now. He’ll just have to go to the kitchens and tell them to make their best chocolate cake for the younger boy.

Chapter Text

Jongin paces outside the library with a frown on his lips, hesitating to go inside and find Kyungsoo. The younger boy is in there, probably reading something and not wanting to be disturbed. But, Jongin has been tasked with asking him whether or not he wants to attend the winter festival in two days.

Jongin really wants to go, because they serve the best hot chocolate drinks at a particular stand. Going to the festival without Kyungsoo is out of the question though. Jongin and his family go into town plenty, but festivals are usually important enough that everyone has to go. If Kyungsoo doesn’t go, Jongin can’t go without drawing unnecessary attention to their marriage and start rumors. It’s why he couldn’t go during the summer, but the winter festival food is so much better. He wants to go, but he’s almost positive Kyungsoo will say no.

So, he paces and paces and paces some more, chewing on his lip and trying to think of some way to bribe the boy to go. He’s so busy pacing and trying to think of a good way to convince Kyungsoo to go he doesn’t hear the library doors open, only snapping out of it when he nearly runs into Kyungsoo.

“I’m sorry!” he rushes out, stepping a good distance away from the boy whose eyes are still widened in surprise. “I wasn’t paying attention.”

Kyungsoo recovers quickly, nodding his head and then standing awkwardly in silence.

“Where are you going?” he questions when he notices the little impatient look the younger boy is starting to get in his eyes.

“It’s lunch time, I was going to go eat,” Kyungsoo replies, his stomach making a grumbling noise that brings a bright blush to the younger boy’s face.

Jongin tries very hard to pretend it didn’t happen, nodding his head and then clearing his throat, “I’ll walk with you then,” he declares, offering a smile that Kyungsoo awkwardly returns before he starts walking towards the stairwell.

The walk to the kitchens is silent and Jongin uses the time to think things over some more. He could appeal to Kyungsoo with all the desserts the festival has to offer, the book stand, even the small area where they have a few animals for you to pet. Kyungsoo likes all of these things, but he doesn’t know if it’s enough to make him want to leave the castle.

Kyungsoo usually asks for his food to be brought to the front study for lunch, so Jongin requests the same and then sits across from him on the floor near the fireplace. Kyungsoo doesn’t object to him doing so, but he doesn’t strike up any sort of conversation either, eating his beef stew in silence.

Jongin has chicken and rice instead, but he opts to poke at it with his fork rather than eat. With a sigh he sets his fork down, sitting up a little straighter. He’s just going to ask the younger boy, no use in prolonging the inevitable no he’s going to hear.

“I have a question,” he states plainly, watching as Kyungsoo sets his spoon down and looks at him with wide eyes. “Would you like to go to the winter festival in two days?” he rushes out, figuring the quicker he gets it out the quicker Kyungsoo can answer.

But Kyungsoo just stares at him, with that impassive looking face and gives him no indication he’s going to talk anytime soon. So Jongin supposes this is where he tries to bribe him into saying yes.

“They have good food. There’s a lot of different snacks to try. They have books?” he tries, getting no reaction from the younger boy Jongin feels himself start to slouch.

“I mean, you don’t have to go if you don’t want to. We can just stay here and um, you can have the chef make you whatever you want to eat.”

Jongin sighs when Kyungsoo still doesn’t say anything, figuring it’s a no he decides he might as well go tell his parents he won’t be enjoying the warm beverages this year. Jongin takes a bite of food, but quickly decides he’s not hungry.

“I’m just going to go do something,” he excuses, forcing a smile on his lips and then moving to stand up.

“I’ll go,” Kyungsoo speaks up, surprising him enough that he flinches, looking down at the younger boy in shock.

Jongin gapes, staring at Kyungsoo and waiting for him to take it back. Or maybe he’s finally going crazy and hearing things. It sounds more believable than Kyungsoo agreeing.

“Did you just say you’ll go?” he questions, not being able to hide the surprise in his voice.

“Yes,” Kyungsoo replies, even nodding his head.

Jongin blinks, trying to process the fact that Kyungsoo didn’t say no like he was expecting. Jongin wasn’t prepared for a yes.

“You really don’t have to if you don’t want to,” he replies, not wanting Kyungsoo to go just because he wants to.

Kyungsoo gives him a weird look before moving to grab his spoon. “I want to go,” he states sternly before moving to eat again.

Jongin nods, smiling happily at the younger boy. “Okay, I’m going to go tell my parents then. Have a good lunch,” he mumbles out, hurriedly walking out of the room before Kyungsoo can change his mind.

 

--

 

The day of the festival is cold as usual and Jongin makes sure to dress in extra layers, because there’s no telling when Kyungsoo will want to leave. Jongin is almost positive the younger boy will want to retire early, but he can never be too sure. So he dresses warmly and makes sure that the maids give Kyungsoo warm enough clothes to wear as well.

They have been having to bring in newly tailored clothes for Kyungsoo lately, seeing as how his old ones are too small now that he’s put on weight. His older clothes were never anything other than plain white, and although Kyungsoo says he doesn’t have a favorite color, he seems keen on picking out anything that’s blue.

Jongin ends up being ready sooner than everyone else, so he sits in the front room near the entrance and waits, picking at his clothes out of nervousness that Kyungsoo is going to back out last second and say he doesn’t want to go after all.

When Kyungsoo finally makes an appearance it’s because he’s being dragged by a tiny Joohyuk who is actually old enough to understand the concept of the festival and is excited. Kyungsoo however looks nervous, chewing on his nails as he listens to the toddler babble on and on about getting candy.

Joohyuk eventually gets called away by Junyoung to go finish getting ready and then it’s just him and Kyungsoo silently waiting for everyone else. Jongin thinks to strike up a conversation with his husband, but he doesn’t even know what to say. He turns towards the younger boy and finds him staring at his shoes, mouthing something to himself.

“You still want to go, right?” he questions, surprising Kyungsoo who twitches and looks up at him with wide eyes.

Kyungsoo nods his head quickly, bringing his hand up to his mouth before making a noise and sitting on his hands instead. Jongin tries hard not to comment on it.

“If you want to leave early, you can just tell me and we can come home,” Jongin informs him, knowing that crowds are not Kyungsoo’s favorite thing in the world. He’s half expecting Kyungsoo to freak out once they get there.

“Okay,” Kyungsoo replies, shrugging his shoulders before finally bringing his hand up to his mouth to chew at his nails. Jongin supposes at least he tried not to.

 

--

 

Festivals in town are generally loud, something Jongin already knew would freak Kyungsoo out considering he likes quiet places. So the initial flinch when Kyungsoo finally manages to force himself out of the carriage is expected. Greeting people has never been Kyungsoo’s strong suit either, so when he automatically hides behind him, Jongin can only smile and wave with one hand since the younger boy is gripping onto his other.

As per tradition, his father gives a speech that Jongin usually tunes out, scanning the area to see if his favorite stands are out this year, but Kyungsoo has a death grip on his wrist which makes it hard to concentrate on anything else. As discreetly as possible Jongin tries to turn so he can actually see the younger boy’s face, but Kyungsoo is looking down at the floor, face unreadable form the angle.

“Are you alright?” he questions, trying not to frown since there’s currently hundreds of eyes on them.

Jongin’s lips threaten to twitch into a frown when Kyungsoo nods his head, even though the grip on his wrist is starting to really hurt.

“What are you two planning on doing first?” he hears Jinhee question making both him and Kyungsoo flinch.

Jongin didn’t realize his father was done speaking, already making his way with his mother to greet the towns people. Jinhee is looking at his expectantly, but Jongin really doesn’t even know what to reply with.

“I’m doing whatever Kyungsoo wants to do I guess,” he replies, letting out a sigh of relief when Kyungsoo finally releases his wrist from his grip. Jongin looks over and spots Kyungsoo peeking around him to look at everything. “How long are you planning on staying noona?” he questions, knowing she’s going to retire early since Rahee wasn’t old enough to come just yet and she never leaves her daughter for longer than necessary.

“Probably an hour or so, if you two want to retire early just make sure to let mother and father know,” she replies, giving him a smile before taking off with Dongwan.

Jongin nods, waving her off and then turning to face Kyungsoo. “What did you want to do first?” he asks. It’s Kyungsoo’s first time actually attending an event with this many people and amount of noise. He looks terrified yet curious, so Jongin hopes things go well enough.

Kyungsoo shrugs, “I don’t know,” he mumbles, bringing his fingers up to chew on his nails.

“Are you hungry?” he questions, smelling something delicious and wanting to investigate it but Kyungsoo immediately shakes his head no, nose scrunching up. Honestly he looks like he could puke any minute, so he supposes that was a bad question to ask.

“Um, are you thirsty?” he asks instead, knowing that warm chocolate drink is bound to be around here somewhere. Jongin deflates when Kyungsoo shakes his head again, quickly running out of ideas.

“Can we go over there?” Kyungsoo questions, pointing out a booth nearby that to Jongin’s horror, has marionette puppets. He’s never been a fan of them, always having nightmares of them moving on their own as a child, but Kyungsoo gets what he wants, so Jongin begrudgingly nods his head and leads the way.

He does make sure to keep some distance to the puppets, but still being close enough Kyungsoo doesn't get scared of being alone, Kyungsoo seems hesitant, but he looks around curiously and manages to not flinch when the owner greets him way too enthusiastically than she probably would a normal person.

Jongin shivers when a gust of wind blows and some of the puppets that are hanging move. Kyungsoo doesn’t seem to share his opinion on the puppets because he looks like he wants to laugh when she demonstrates how to move one before giving one to him and refusing to take it back. Kyungsoo seems dumbfounded but thanks her in his own way by bowing and awkwardly leaving and standing next to him. Jongin tries very hard not to give the thing a look.

“You like puppets?” he questions, getting chills at the eerie looking painted face.

Kyungsoo shakes his head, “Seungsoo hyung used to have one.”

Jongin nods, half expecting Kyungsoo to elaborate more, but he doesn’t. He really hopes they don’t keep the thing in their room, but he doesn’t voice it out loud to Kyungsoo who is already looking around for something else to do. He’s just about to suggest they look for that book stand he knows is around somewhere when Kyungsoo takes off towards something else.

Surprised, Jongin hurries to follow him, trying not to bump into anyone and bowing when people greet him. Kyungsoo is short, so it’s hard not to lose him but eventually Kyungsoo stops in front of a stand and is given another trinket from the owner, a rock that changes color when you touch it. Kyungsoo seems to really like it and even shows it off to him with a content smile.

Jongin doesn’t even get to make any more suggestions, instead having to trail after Kyungsoo who takes it upon himself to go wherever he pleases, getting gift after gift even though he always tries handing them back. He seems confused about the whole ordeal, still not used to being given anything but doesn’t comment on it. It gets to the point that Jongin has to tell Jinhee to send a servant to take Kyungsoo’s growing pile of souvenirs back to the castle, although he refuses to let go of the bag of tarts he got. Jongin asked for one and got told no, but Kyungsoo agreed to get something to drink so he can’t complain too much.

He’s on his second cup and watching as Kyungsoo continues to sip on his when Junyoung approaches them, looking happy which is never a good sign for him.

“What do you want?” he questions his brother-in-law, already knowing he’s up to no good.

Junyoung has the nerve to look offended, “I was just coming to say hello, don’t be so moody,” he huffs, giving him a hard pat on the back. “How are you enjoying the festival, Kyungsoo?”

Jongin glares at the elder but looks towards Kyungsoo who shies under the attention and stares intently at his half empty cup.

“It’s loud,” Kyungsoo replies, shrugging his shoulders before bringing his cup up to his lips and not elaborating more than that.

“You’re right, it is. Have you seen the fortune teller? She tells me I’ll be given good news soon.”

Jongin nearly rolls his eyes. “Don’t tell me you really believe in that nonsense.”

“The cards never lie,” Junyoung replies seriously, giving him a smile. “Now I have to go. Joohyuk is probably terrorizing the chickens with your father.”

Jongin waves him off, going back to his drink and wondering if he should get a third cup when Kyungsoo pulls on his sleeve.

“I want to go.”

Jongin frowns, “You want to leave already?” he questions,wondering how long they even spent looking around. It couldn't have been more than an hour already. He was hoping for at least several before the younger boy got overwhelmed and wanted to go home. Kyungsoo’s nose is red, so he supposes it’s been long enough, he doesn't want him to get sick.

“No. I want to go to the fortune teller. I read about it in a book once,” Kyungsoo explains, looking at him hopefully.

Jongin is surprised at the clarification, not knowing what to say before he forces his brain to function again. “If you really want to,” he replies, giving their cups back to the owner of the stand and then looking around for the tent the fortune teller usually is in.

Jongin doesn’t believe in that kind of stuff, it always seemed so fake and ridiculous to him. They always tell you what you want to hear, or make things up as they go. But if Kyungsoo is interested, no matter the reason, he supposes he will just have to endure it.

There’s a line and rather than use his status, Kyungsoo just waits patiently, looking around with curious eyes and occasionally opening his satchel of candy and eating one. When it’s finally his turn Kyungsoo hesitates, staring at the tent flap and then looking towards him.

“Can I go by myself?” Kyungsoo questions, causing him to frown, looking at the tent and then back at his husband,

“Are you sure?” he asks, not sure if he feels comfortable with Kyungsoo going in by himself. If he gets scared he won't know and will be outside with no way of actually offering any kind of help.

But Kyungsoo nods his head so he supposes it’s fine. Kyungsoo even hands him his candy before disappearing behind the tent flap. Jongin frowns, standing around and wondering if he can sneak a piece of candy while he waits before deciding against it. Kyungsoo probably knows exactly how many are in there.

Sighing, he can do nothing but wait.

Chapter Text

It’s dark inside the fortune tellers tent is the first thing Kyungsoo notices. It smells like flowers, roses and something else. He can’t quite tell, still trying to learn what all the flowers in the Kim’s garden smell like individually. It’s not overbearing, which is nice.

He takes a seat on the cushions when instructed to and sits awkwardly and waits. He’s read about fortune tellers in his favorite book. It had different stories and although Peter Pan was his favorite, he remembers the one with a fortune teller that made a little boy rich.

It definitely wasn’t his favorite, but he wondered how it all worked. The story didn’t tell him much and he’s curious but he’s nervous she is going to say something he doesn’t quite like.

He resists the urge to bite his nails, nervous about being alone with a stranger and what she will even say. He sits patiently, glad that it’s warm inside, glad to be out of the cold. He really hopes he doesn’t get sick.

He listens closely to the fortune teller, thinking the cards look interesting and almost missing what she says. It sounds rather complicated and he doesn’t quite like some of the things she tells him, but he supposes he won’t ever find out if she’s right. He doubts he will.

When she’s done talking he gives her an awkward bow, choosing not to ask anything further and slowly getting up and heading back outside. Once the cold air hits him he shivers, looking around and failing to spot Jongin his stomach gives a lurch.

His starts to feel queasy when he starts to think that maybe Jongin just left him. He looks around again and then feels his heart start to slow down when he realizes Jongin is at the stand next door eating some kind of meat on a skewer.

When Jongin spots him he starts walking over with a smile on his face that Kyungsoo can’t make himself return, his eyes still burning with the want to cry.

“That was quick, how did it go?” Jongin questions, taking a bite of his snack and looking at him expectantly.

Kyungsoo still feels a lump in his throat so he doesn’t talk, looking around instead and actually starting to realize how many people there are. He ignored it earlier, intent on trying to at least, but now it’s all he can pay attention to. He notices several people staring and immediately looks down at the floor, trying not to over think it.

“Are you alright?” Jongin questions, reaching out towards him making him flinch out of habit.

He shakes his head no, still not being able to find his voice and quickly nods his head when Jongin asks if he wants to go home.

He immediately feels bad, knowing that Jongin didn’t go to the summer festival because of him and now he’s having to leave earlier because of him again. He keeps his head down and holds onto the elder’s hand as he leads him back to the carriages, wanting nothing more than the go home and hide under his blankets for the rest of the day.

Once he’s inside the carriage he immediately sits down, pulling his knees up to his chest and hugging onto them. Jongin gets in and sits across from him, silently closing the door and then knocking on the wooden sliding window to signal them to move.

Kyungsoo jerks at the initial start of the buggy, but quickly forces himself to relax, which is hard because he hates riding around in the carriage. There’s too much movement and it makes him nauseous and the smell of the snack Jongin brought along isn’t helping him one bit.

“I’ll tell the maids to draw you a warm bath once we get home,” Jongin speaks up, handing over his satchel of candy that he grabs with shaky hands, clinging onto it tightly. 

“Okay,” he replies, resting his chin on his knees and fighting the urge to shiver.

Kyungsoo stares down at the floor, suddenly so tired and wanting nothing but to sleep. He doubts he was at the festival for more than two hours but it feels like it was longer. He’s happy he got to go, but upset with himself that he couldn’t control his own emotions long enough to stay and try the food. Maybe next year will be better.

Sighing he hugs onto his legs tighter, hoping the trip back to the castle won’t take long because he’s cold and wants that warm bath Jongin has promised him. His eyes are already feeling droopy and he briefly wonders if he’ll even be awake enough to take a bath.

He yawns tiredly, stomach lurching when the buggy shakes too much for his liking, nausea starting up again. He shuts his eyes and tries to focus on other things, but his mind is a mess and he only feels himself grow frustrated at everything.

He just wants to have pleasant thoughts, but he supposes he isn’t capable of it today. His nightmares from the night before should have been warning enough to have gone back on his word and stay home, but he said yes, and Jongin had looked happy.

Kyungsoo knows the elder really wanted to go, so despite the lingering anxiousness he got from his nightmares, he decided to go anyways. It was fun at first, going wherever he pleased and getting things handed to him, although he still doesn’t quite understand it. But all it took was one measly moment for those thoughts to come bombarding his conscious again.

Feeling the carriage stop he cracks his eyes open, the door opening and Jongin moves to get out first. Kyungsoo takes a deep breath before letting go of his own legs, putting them down and then slowly getting up and crouching to get out of the carriage, having to hold onto Jongin’s hand so he doesn’t fall.

Once his feet are back on solid ground he feels a bit better, latching onto the elder’s arm because his legs feel sore. He doesn’t do well with the cold and it seems hours outside are finally catching up to him as they walk towards the front doors of the castle.

It’s warm inside at least but he still feels a chill in his body that only reminds him of his nightmares. It was always cold at the old castle, the dungeons were eerily cold, the metal of the cuff was freezing on his wrists.

By the time they make it upstairs Kyungsoo knows he won’t be able to enjoy the warm bath so he shakes his head when Jongin asks if he still wants to bathe. He’d rather not be forced to look at the scars he has on his arms right now. So instead he gets into bed, not even having the energy to change into more suitable clothes.

He watches as Jongin goes about the room collecting things off the floor and tossing them in the laundry hamper. The elder grabs a change of clothes and then goes to the restroom, coming out a little later in something more suitable for walking around the castle.

The sun shines brightly into the room until Jongin moves to close the curtains. He supposes it’s still midday and the sun won’t be going down for several more hours, which means he was barely there at the festival. The elder could have spent the entire day out there if it weren’t for him.

“I’m going to go tell the chef to make you some warm soup,” Jongin announces so Kyungsoo nods in acknowledgement, grabbing a pillow and hugging onto it.

Sighing he rests his eyes, wondering where Pan is and if Jongin will bring him back to the room when he brings back his soup. He wishes he could have brought him with them to the festival, but Jongin said there would be too many people for a dog to be there. Either way, it wouldn’t have helped if Pan wandered off.

It takes about twenty minutes for Jongin to come back, a bowl of soup on a tray along with Pan, like he was hoping. His puppy hops onto the foot of the bed, getting comfortable before lying down and sleeping while Jongin sets the tray down on his lap.

“He didn’t have any of the chicken soup ready, so he gave you beef, is that okay?” Jongin questions, moving to fluff his pillow even though he didn’t ask.

“It’s fine,” he mumbles, not really hungry but he supposes he should eat. He barely ate his breakfast this morning because he was nervous. “Thank you.”

Jongin gives him a smile before standing awkwardly near the bed. Kyungsoo watches him, waiting for his soup to cool down and trying to figure out why his husband looks skittish. When Jongin doesn’t say anything, he picks up his spoon and begins to eat, figuring if it’s important he will eventually say what’s bothering him.

He’s about to take a sip of his warm tea when his husband clears his throat, making him look up and set his cup down.

“Your birthday is next week,” Jongin announces and he does his best not to react negatively to the news.

He knows his birthday is coming up, he’s just chosen to ignore it. It’s always the same, year after year, that he just stopped caring. He knows when his birthday is, but it’s not something important. No matter how much has changed in a year, he isn’t going to look forward to something that meant nothing the other seventeen years of his life.

“Since your pond won’t be finished until the summer, I was wondering what else you wanted,” Jongin rushes out, fidgeting with his sleeves.

Kyungsoo frowns, “Why would you get me anything?” he questions, picking his spoon up and stirring his soup just so he has something to do with his hands that doesn’t involve chewing on his nails.

“It’s your birthday, you should get a gift,” Jongin replies easily, shrugging and moving to sit next to Pan at the end of the bed. “My mother wanted to throw you a party, but I told her that might not be a good idea, since you don’t like crowds. You only turn eighteen once, it’s an important birthday, so she wants to do something nice,” he mumbles, petting Pan.

Kyungsoo bites his lip, stirring his soup, deciding there’s no use in telling Jongin he doesn’t want or need a gift, it will just hurt Jongin’s feelings. He already feels bad enough not being able to stay at the festival longer, on top of everything else.

“Anything you want to give me is fine,” he replies, shrugging and letting out a tiny sigh before eating another spoonful of soup when his stomach starts to grumble. He should probably eat and then try and sleep, since he didn’t get a proper night’s rest.

“Okay,” Jongin replies, nodding to himself before getting up from the bed. “I’ll let you eat lunch and then check on you later.”

Kyungsoo watches the elder go, frowning to himself and continuing to eat his soup. When he’s done with it he sets the tray on the night stand next to the bed and moves to lie on his side, staring at nothing in particular and then slowly closing his eyes, hoping the warm food and tea was enough to keep his nightmares at bay.

 

--

 

The day after the winter festival, Kyungsoo inevitably gets sick. It’s not as bad as it could be, so he’s thankful all he has is a sore throat and a runny nose, but he misses being able to breathe properly. He doesn’t feel like leaving the warmth of his bed, so he stays there for most of the morning. He gets up to use the restroom and to let Pan out of the room so he can go do his business, but he quickly gets back to the warmth his blankets offer.

He gets stuck eating soup again for breakfast, this time it’s more broth than anything and he secretly sulks about it, missing the vegetables and beef it usually has. A maid brings him hot tea with honey and mint and he slowly sips on it, becoming bored but having nothing to do.

He already wrote letters to his father and Seungsoo, as best as he could, never really knowing what to say but he let his brother know he went to the winter festival and saw a fortune teller that told him a bunch of nonsense. He hopes he gets a reply within the next several days.

Stifling a yawn he flinches when he hears the door open, surprised to see Jongin this soon since lunch isn’t for another hour or so. He frowns when the elder doesn’t notice him, instead he rummages through their wardrobe closet, pulling a leather bag out and shoving clothes into it.

“Are you going somewhere?” he questions, biting his lip when Jongin flinches, whirling around to look at him in surprise.

Jongin’s face heats up, but he nods his head. “I have to go with my father to the Oh’s. It should only take a day or two.”

Kyungsoo frowns, watching as the elder continues packing up his clothes. He honestly doesn’t even remember the last time he was left alone, besides during the day. Jongin hasn’t gone anywhere in a long time.

He wants to ask if he can go, but his throat gives an uncomfortable throb, reminding him he’s in no shape to be traveling. Not that he would actually want to go to the Oh’s, considering he isn’t on the best terms with their youngest prince. He hates riding around in the buggy as well, but he doesn’t want to be left alone, especially not when he doesn’t feel well.

“Do you have to go?” he questions, hugging onto his pillow and sniffling, his throat itching so he’ll probably need more tea in a little bit.

He frowns further when Jongin turns to give him a weird look. The elder has been giving him a lot of looks he doesn’t understand these days. Especially when he thinks he isn’t looking. He thought to ask about, but he isn’t even sure how to go about it.

“Um, do you not want me to go?” Jongin questions, setting a shirt down and walking over to sit on the edge of the bed.

Kyungsoo shakes his head, “No,” he replies, sniffling before moving to rub at his eyes, suddenly feeling tired. “I want you to stay here,” he adds on when Jongin doesn’t move to say anything.

He wonders if Jongin is getting sick too when his face turns bright red, a weird smile blossoming onto his lips.

“I’ll stay then,” Jongin mumbles, biting his lip before getting up and moving to put his clothes back into the wardrobe.

Kyungsoo yawns, moving to lie down when Jongin says he has to go talk to his father and that he’ll come back with some more tea.

 

--

 

Jongin sighs as he stares out the window, tapping his fingers along the glass as he contemplates what to get Kyungsoo for his birthday. It’s in five days, meaning he doesn’t have much time left and he still doesn’t have a clue as to what to give his husband. He’s recruited Junyoung to help, only because he was desperate, otherwise he would never force himself to endure all his teasing.

“You could write him a poem,” Junyoung snickers out causing him to take yet another deep breath to refrain from telling the elder to just go away.

Jongin turns around, giving his brother-in-law a glare, “You’re being ridiculous,” he hisses, moving to take a seat next to him at the table he’s sitting at in the library.

Kyungsoo is currently taking a nap, so Jongin can only afford to be gone from the room for about an hour. The younger boy has been extremely clingy the past couple of days, ever since the festival. He doesn’t know what happened to make the younger boy want to suddenly leave, but he can only assume it was something complicated that he can’t understand.

His husband has been in bed since the day after, sick with a mild cold that leaves his nose looking red and throat itchy apparently. Kyungsoo keeps asking for him to stay in the room with him, because he’s bored or lonely, Jongin really doesn’t know. But the younger boy gets teary eyed if he’s gone for too long.

“Joohyuk is drawing him a lovely picture, you could always do that as well,” Junyoung suggests, laughing to himself causing Jongin to roll his eyes.

“I’m not drawing him a picture, you’re not helping,” he huffs, shaking his head and looking over towards the stairs when they hear someone walking towards them.

He’s surprised to see Dongwan, since last time the elder practically snuck up on them both.

“Let’s ask him,” Junyoung blurts, and before Jongin can tell the elder that Dongwan is the last person to ask for advice, he’s already asking him. “What should Jongin get his dearly beloved for his birthday?”

Jongin glares and then looks towards Dongwan who looks positively confused. He honestly doesn’t even know what he gives Jinhee for her birthdays, if anything at all.

“A book,” Dongwan replies, dismissing the question easily and turning to him. “My father was serious about gifting him a horse. It’s set to arrive tomorrow.”

Jongin gapes, getting the only usable suggestion from Dongwan is enough to have him shocked, but add Kyungsoo being gifted a horse from a family he doesn’t know, he’s just about ready to pinch himself to make sure he’s not dreaming.

“I’m sorry, a horse?” he questions, looking at Junyoung who looks surprised as well.

“I guess he was really serious about trying to get Kyungsoo to divorce you and marry Baekhyun,” Junyoung comments, shocking him enough that he chokes on his own spit.

Jongin coughs, looking up at Junyoung and then at Dongwan. “What?” he wheezes out, wondering what on earth the elder is talking about.

Dongwan seems to not read too much into the situation because he says he’s leaving to go attend other business and that Junyoung should deal with him. He tries not to be offended by the comment.

“What on earth are you talking about?” he questions, trying not to let his temper get to him since he may have just figured out what to get Kyungsoo for his birthday, a book is an obvious choice.

Junyoung gives him a smile that is too bright for the situation before leaning back in his chair. “King Byun thought it was a good idea to ask Kyungsoo if he would be interested in marrying Dongwan’s youngest brother. Kyungsoo obviously rejected the offer, now he’s giving him nice gifts, maybe he thinks he has a chance, I don’t know,” the elder replies, shrugging before getting up from his chair. “I’m going to go see how Joohyuk’s lessons are going, since you seem to have an idea now and other things to worry about!”

Jongin watches him go, getting up himself and walking back to his and Kyungsoo’s room. He’s shocked, to put it lightly, that King Byun would have the nerve to ask his husband such a thing. He’s married, that’s that. When he finally makes it to their room he’s calmed down, but still annoyed about the whole ordeal, even more annoyed that Kyungsoo didn’t even tell him about the King’s offer. Opening the door he’s surprised to see Kyungsoo not in bed like he left him earlier.

Frowning he goes in search for his husband, walking all the way to the first floor and searching around. He still wasn’t feeling completely better when he left him to nap earlier, so he’s confused as to where the boy could have went. He’s even more surprised when he comes into the front hallway and sees Kyungsoo sitting across from one of the servant boys and talking. It has him pausing mid step, confused because he doesn’t think he’s ever seen Kyungsoo interact with the servants.

Kyungsoo is talking to a boy, probably around the same age as himself. Jongin purses his lips as he thinks of what he should do, but his own stubbornness on asking his husband about this supposed letter he received from King Byun wins over him leaving them alone. So he stomps his way over to them, clearing his throat loudly and then stopping several paces from them, staring down at his husband with a frown.

“What are you doing?” he questions, sparing the servant boy a glance and noting he looks completely terrified, so he eases up on his own expressions, not meaning to scare the poor boy.

Kyungsoo squints up at him before standing, dusting off his pants and shrugging his shoulders, waving the servant off who gladly takes the opportunity to rush out of the room with his head down.

“I was asking him a question,” Kyungsoo replies, his voice sounding better than it did yesterday. “I came downstairs because I wanted some more tea with honey,” he explains.

Jongin frowns, “What were you asking him?” he questions, wincing when he realizes how he sounds.

Kyungsoo doesn’t seem to like his question because he huffs, crossing his arms over his chest and looking the other direction. “It’s a personal matter I don’t feel like discussing with you,” the younger boy states bluntly, surprising him.

Jongin wants to continue to press the subject, but decides he should probably respect Kyungsoo’s privacy, letting out a sigh instead and uncrossing his arms from his chest. However, it doesn’t mean he’s going to let this King Byun business slide.

“Why did you not tell me you’ve been getting secret marriage proposals?” he questions, keeping his temper in check because from experience, if he gets mad at Kyungsoo it usually doesn’t end well. Although, he is mad.

Kyungsoo twitches, looking at him in surprise which only further irritates him. After all this time Jongin hoped that the younger boy would at least tell him stuff that was this important. Kyungsoo looks like he had no plans of ever telling him anything.

“I thought you would get mad at me,” Kyungsoo eventually replies, seeming to shrink in on himself and normally this is when Jongin would just drop it, because he doesn’t like making Kyungsoo cry, but he’s annoyed that after spending nearly a year with the younger boy, he’s still not important enough.

“Well I’m mad now,” he states, shaking his head and then rubbing at his temples, feeling himself getting a headache at how absurd this all is.

Kyungsoo doesn’t seem to react, keeping his head down and intently staring at his feet. Eventually he does lift his head and he’s surprised to see him not crying, which is new, usually when he gets upset at the younger boy, he cries.

“I told him no,” Kyungsoo says softly, letting out a tiny sigh before looking up at him. “I’m sorry.”

Jongin blinks dumbly, not expecting an apology he doesn’t know what to say. He almost feels bad, because Kyungsoo genuinely looks guilty about it and he’s never seen him actually look apologetic towards him. It has him forgetting he was mad in the first place and walking over and pulling the boy into a hug, even more surprised when Kyungsoo lets him. But eventually he does pull away, knowing that unannounced physical contact is still something his husband isn’t used to.

He awkwardly clears his throat, “You told him no?” he asks, recalling that he did hear his husband bluntly tell King Byun no to something when they first met at the coronation.

“I’m married to you,” Kyungsoo replies, brows furrowed in a confused manner. “Why would I tell him yes?”

Jongin doesn’t have a reply, so instead he shakes his head, grabbing onto Kyungsoo’s hand and leading him towards the kitchen so he can get him his tea.

“I’m going to send a very angry note to King Byun when your horse arrives so he doesn’t get the wrong idea, because we’re keeping it. They have good horses,” he tells the younger boy. The okay Kyungsoo tells him is a good enough answer that he doesn’t bring it up again for the rest of the day.

Chapter Text

Birthday’s have never been important to Kyungsoo, at least not his own. When he was younger it seemed like it was something to celebrate, but the older he got, the more he learned it was just another day. Small gifts like candy were what he got when he was younger and useless things that were mostly for studying were what he got when he was older.

He’s never really looked forward to his birthday but it’s not something he tries to purposefully forget. Even if he really wanted to he doesn’t know if he could forget the date. He was born during a snowstorm, his mother told him once, and he didn’t cry right away.

Kyungsoo obviously doesn’t remember, but he’s always had the mental picture that from the moment he was born he was just a big disappointment. He supposes that’s not entirely true, he was just not really supposed to exist in the first place.

He’s come to accept what he is, who he is, but he tries not to think about it too much. But the moment he wakes up, sometime way too early to even be awake, it’s the only thing he can think of.

He stares at the ceiling for several hours, way before the sun is up and the castle is at it’s quietest. He turns eighteen today, which would seem important if any of his other birthdays ever seemed important in the first place, so it doesn’t.

It’s just another day, he’s just a year older now. He really doesn’t feel like getting out of bed, but he knows that will just worry people. With a sigh he sits up, wondering what time it is that the sun still isn’t trying to make its way into the room.

Getting out of a bed he moves to go peek outside, nothing that the sun is just barely starting to rise, he supposes he might as well get ready for the day. Quietly he goes about collecting clothes and then heading into the restroom.

Looking in the mirror isn’t something he likes doing, but is more of a necessity to check his crown and his hair to make sure it looks presentable. He supposes he has changed in the past year. His skin isn’t as pale, but still a creamy color. His cheeks are fuller, his eyes don’t look like he hasn’t had a good night’s rest in years, there’s no gray bags underneath.

He looks healthier he supposes, normal, probably as normal as he’ll ever get. He won’t be growing anymore, but at least he looks like someone who hasn’t been beaten, although the scars will tell a different story.

With another sigh he hurries and finishes changing, coming out of the restroom to see Jongin still sleeping on the couch. It’s a comfortable couch, but Kyungsoo wonders if he’s really going to sleep there for the rest of his life. It can’t be that comfortable.

Bored and knowing the maids are probably just waking up he decides to stay in the room, grabbing a book and figuring he might as well read some more. With a yawn he settles down on the floor with a blanket, glad that his cold seems to have subsided.

He opens up his book but can’t seem to focus on the words, instead messing with his wedding band and sighing. Last year on his birthday he got his engagement ring. To him it seems so far away, but it hasn’t been that long.

If things had gone according to plan, he would be getting married tomorrow. Instead he’s been married for several months.  He supposes being married earlier is what saved him from really having to stay back with his father and brother. If he was just engaged to Jongin, surely his father would have been more likely to call the whole thing off instead of giving him a choice.

If he hadn’t married Jongin he wonders if they would have even found his real father, or if his uncle would still be alive.

He wonders if now that he’s eighteen people expect him to want his marriage annulled and to go back home.

The Royal Court said he could, if he wanted. But, he hasn’t thought about it until now. When he was younger and he realized he was engaged to Jongin, he never thought of not ending up here. When he was younger he knew he would grow up, be sent off to the Kim’s and then married to their youngest. He expected a lot of things in his life, nothing too nice. He expected to be unhappy, forced to do things he would never want to do.

He never expected himself to have a father that actually cares about him. He really never expected himself to be married before he was eighteen. Never in his life did he even expect himself to be happy, he would have never even dreamed of it a year ago.

He certainly still doesn’t believe in fairy tales, but he supposes happy endings are possible if the past year has taught him anything.

He’s interrupted with his thoughts when he hears Pan whining at the door, waking Jongin up from his sleep.

He quickly gets up from his spot on the floor, walking over to the door and opening it up to let Pan inside. He smiles when he kneels down to greet the dog, running his hands through his fur and petting behind his ear.

“Good morning,” he greets once he’s closed the door and Pan is climbing onto the couch much to his husband’s annoyance.

He’s learned that Jongin usually sleeps in late if he can, so he’s grumpy when he wakes up before he’s ready to. He bites his lip to keep from laughing when Pan pulls at Jongin’s sleeve, probably wanting a treat from him.

“Is the sun even up yet?” his husband questions, looking like a pouting child as he tries to shoo Pan away from him.

Kyungsoo looks over at the curtains and shrugs, “Barely,” he replies, moving over towards the couch and shooing Pan away from Jongin and then sitting on the couch himself next to the elder.

“Why are you up so early?” Jongin mumbles, looking like he could probably fall back asleep any minute now.

Kyungsoo shrugs, biting at his lip before replying. “I couldn’t fall back asleep,” is what he settles with.

“Why not?” his husband questions before yawning and then moving to rub at his eyes tiredly.

Kyungsoo doesn’t know what to say, not knowing why he couldn’t fall back asleep either. He didn’t have any nightmares last night, nor did he go to bed early, he really doesn’t know. So he shrugs again, looking over at the elder.

“You can go back to sleep on the bed if you want,” he mumbles, knowing he won’t be able to fall asleep even if he tried and breakfast won’t be ready for an hour or so. One of them might as well get some sleep before then and he knows it won’t be him.

He thinks nothing of it when Jongin gets up, deciding to stay on the couch and mess with his wedding band some more. He’s surprised when Jongin doesn’t go to the bed, rather towards his desk, rummaging around one of the drawers until he pulls out a parcel that he tries to hand him.

“What is that?” he questions, staring at it oddly and not being able to actually move and grab it.

“It’s your birthday, I told you I would get you a present,” Jongin replies, smiling before dropping it in his lap and moving to sit next to him again. “Happy birthday.”

Kyungsoo stares at the package, wrapped in brown parchment and tied in white string. He’s gotten gifts before, but they were never important enough to actually wrap up. Even when Jongin gave him his engagement ring he tossed it at him and that was that.

“You can open it you know,” his husband mumbles, so he supposes he should, he doesn’t want to seem ungrateful.

He pulls at the strings until they come undone and then pries the parchment off to reveal a blue leather bound book with silver lining. It’s not as worn as his old book was, the binding is a different color but it’s nearly the same size and when he opens it up all the pages are the same.

“I know it’s not the same as your old one, but it was the only one I could find at the book shop in town,” Jongin informs him, shifting on the couch.

Kyungsoo nods his head, closing the book up and bringing up to his chest to hug onto. He supposes he’ll have to keep it high up and away from Pan so he doesn’t tear into it. His mother gave him his book of fairytales when he was little, probably no older than Joohyuk when he got sick one day during the winter. She used to read them out loud to him, before he learned to read himself.

When he was sad he used to read them alone in the library, because fictional fairy tales were always a good distraction from his own horrible life. Sometimes all he had were those stories and his own imagination to help him carry on to the next day.

He supposes he doesn’t need it now like he did then, since he’s happy where he’s at and his life finally seems to be getting better. Even if reading those stories were an escape from making bad memories, he can read them now and make good memories.

“There were no adults in Neverland,” he informs the elder, messing with the binding of the book and shrugging. “That’s why it was my favorite.”

He doesn’t look up to see Jongin’s reaction, honestly not wanting to know. He’s never told anyone about his favorite story, not that anyone other than Jongin has cared to ask, and he’s certainly never explained why. But, he supposes he deserves to know.

“I like it. Thank you,” he mumbles, keeping his eyes on the book because he’s still not used to getting gifts from people, still doesn’t really understand it.

When Jongin doesn’t say anything he looks over at the elder, wondering if he’s supposed to do more than just say thank you since the elder is just staring at him. Uncomfortably he clears his throat, which seems to snap the elder out of his thoughts.

“I’m glad you like it,” the elder replies, giving him a smile.

Kyungsoo nods his head, looking back down at his book and opening it back up to read. He thinks to ask if he can spend the day in the library but someone knocks at the door causing him to twitch.

He watches curiously as Jongin gets up with a frown, moving to open the door. Joohyuk rushes in as soon as there’s a big enough gap and runs up to him with a bright smile, still in his sleeping attire and hair messy.

“Happy birthday, hyung!” the boy announces, shoving a picture in his face full of bright colors. “I made it!”

Kyungsoo smiles and takes the picture, moving it away from his face so he can get a proper look at it. Joohyuk has improved with his finger painting skills since he’s been at the Kim’s, that’s for sure.

“This is uncle Jongin and this is you,” Joohyuk explains loudly, looking up at him with a serious expression, “Boys can’t have babies, so I drew you with puppies instead. Daddy said it was okay.”

Kyungsoo flushes, forcing himself to keep the smile on his face despite the choked noise Jongin just let out.

“It’s nice, thank you,” he replies, opening his arms for a hug that Joohyuk gladly returns, squeezing him and then grabbing his book and moving to sit in his lap. Pan follows and hops up onto the couch as well, sniffing at Joohyuk’s face causing him to giggle.

“Why were you going to draw babies in the first place?” he hears Jongin question, the elder is looking though his dresser, presumably finding clothes to change into for the day. Kyungsoo looks down at Joohyuk who starts clapping his hands excitedly.

“Mommy is going to have a baby,” Joohyuk chirps, which catches him off guard, his eyes widening in surprise.

Kyungsoo looks up and sees he isn’t the only one surprised, Jongin’s eyes looking comically big at the news.

“How do you know that?” Jongin questions, setting his clothes down and focusing on Joohyuk who is wiggling around in excitement. Kyungsoo is curious as well.

“Mommy told daddy yesterday,” Joohyuk giggles out, going wide eyed when someone knocks on the door.

Kyungsoo looks up and watches as Jongin walks over and peeks his head out, opening the door wider when it appears to be Junyoung looking for his son.

“I told you not to bother Kyungsoo until he was downstairs,” Junyoung scolds, holding his hand out expectantly for Joohyuk.

The toddler lets out a sigh, getting off his lap and moving to give him a hug before walking over towards his dad.

“But I wanted to give him my picture,” Joohyuk explains, grabbing a hold of his father’s hand and then twirling around until he gets dizzy and has to hold onto his leg.

“I assume from the look on your face he’s spoiled our surprise?” Junyoung questions, looking down at Joohyuk who giggles.

Kyungsoo nods his head, not knowing what to say and looking towards Jongin for some sort of cue. The elder always knows how to react to these kind of situations better than he does.

“He might have mentioned it, congratulations, by the way,” Jongin comments, smiling and giving Junyoung a pat on the back.

Kyungsoo supposes that if Jongin is happy about this news, he should be happy too, but then again, his husband seems to like children more than he does. He plays with Rahee all the time and will succumb to Joohyuk’s whining almost daily.  Kyungsoo doesn’t have any opinions on children, the only child he’s even known is Joohyuk, so he can’t really say whether or not they’re worth getting excited over.

“See, I told you, the cards never lie!” Junyoung chirps before excusing himself after telling him a happy birthday and promising to see them at breakfast in a little while.

Kyungsoo says thank you, frowning once they’re gone and it’s just him and Jongin. The elder goes back to what he was doing before, grabbing clothes and then heading towards their restroom. When he’s busy changing Kyungsoo stands up, chewing on his lip as he mulls Junyoung’s words over in his head.

He supposes Junyoung’s fortune did come true, he received good news. Kyungsoo supposes it could be a coincidence, but the timing is weird.

“Did you want to go eat breakfast now? Or I can bring it up here to you!” Jongin voices, making him twitch in surprise.

He shrugs in response, not caring either way. He wouldn’t mind eating in bed, but he feels like that would be a little rude since Junyoung said he was expecting him at breakfast.

“We can eat in the dining room,” he replies, tugging on his sleeve restlessly, wondering what the chefs prepared for breakfast today.

“Alright,” Jongin replies, nodding to himself and then moving towards the door so Kyungsoo follows after him. Pan takes off ahead of them and then disappears, probably to go outside. Kyungsoo notes that it’s not snowing for once, although the sky is still a light grey color.

“Why is there a carriage outside?” he finds himself questioning, highly confused to see the Do crest on the side.

When he turns towards Jongin he’s surprised to see the elder looking red and sheepish.

“It’s another present?” his husband replies, clearing his throat before straightening himself out. “I got you eighteen presents because I couldn’t settle with one. So um, yes, that’s present number two and three.”

Kyungsoo stares dumbly at the elder, not understanding at all as to why Jongin would get him one gift, let alone eighteen.

“Why?” he questions, chewing on his bottom lip to keep from biting on his nails like he wants to. He can’t exactly freak out so early before he’s even had his breakfast, especially not if his brother and father are here. It will just worry everyone.

Jongin shrugs, “I figured nineteen would be too much.”

Kyungsoo shakes his head, “You already gave me the book. I love the book, I don’t need more,” he rushes out, crossing him arms over his chest, too confused to say anything else.

“Well, I figured we were engaged for seventeen years and I never once got you a present so I needed to make up for lost time. Besides, Junyoung gave me ideas and I didn’t know if I would be able to find your book so I had a lot of back up gifts, are you mad at me?” Jongin rushes out, looking genuinely concerned.

In a perfect world Kyungsoo wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed by just the thought of getting more than one gift for his birthday. But he’s far from perfect, his life has been far from perfect, and he is indeed completely overwhelmed to the point that he wants to cry, but he can’t very well start up when there are people waiting for him in the dining room.

No,” he manages to croak out, trying to take deep breaths because his heart probably shouldn’t be beating this quickly and from experience if his stomach feels like it’s in knots it usually means he’s going to be sick.

“Oh god, it’s too much isn’t? This is what happens when I take advice from Junyoung, please don’t cry!” Jongin blabbers on, pulling him into a hug that he makes no move to get out of.

It helps him stop from chewing on his nails at least and the elder is generally a warm person, so it calms him down long enough to not completely freak out when he hears someone clear their throat and ask what they’re doing. It doesn’t stop his cheeks from turning red when he realizes it’s his brother though.

He ignores the obvious tension between Seungsoo and Jongin and opts to distract at least one of them by hugging onto his brother, happy to see him after so long.

“I’m going to go check on breakfast,” Jongin announces, leaving the room quickly with a blush on his face.

Kyungsoo sighs and lets go of his brother when he deems it long enough for a standard hug and then looks up at him.

“I thought you didn’t like him,” Seungsoo questions, the tiniest of frowns on his lips.

It throws him off guard, not expecting that the first thing to hear from his brother after not seeing him in over a month. He doesn’t know what to reply with, seeing as how his brother looks oddly serious for so early in the morning.

“He’s my husband,” is what he settles with, hoping the message is clear enough for his brother to figure out.

“Yes, but, I guess I didn’t really think of why you wanted to come back here in such a hurry,” Seungsoo replies, “You like him.”

Kyungsoo frowns, staring at his brother in confusion and moving to ask what he’s talking about when he gets hugged again.

“Happy birthday, your father and I got you a gift, but I suppose you’re hungry so we should eat first,” Seungsoo comments, ruffling his hair leaving him to huff.

Kyungsoo just nods, no use in asking what the elder means and figuring there’s no use in telling everyone he really doesn’t need all these gifts, no matter if it is his birthday. When his stomach starts to growl he flushes, ducking his head and letting Seungsoo grab hold of his hand and lead him to the dining room, hoping the chefs made the chocolate pastries that he likes.

Chapter Text

Kyungsoo enjoys his breakfast, from what Jongin can tell. He looks genuinely happy when he spots his father, even moving to give the man a hug on his own before sitting in the seat next to him and flushing under his attention. Jongin is glad to have thought that his husband would want to spend his birthday with his immediate family as well as his in-laws.

When they’re finished with breakfast Kyungsoo shows off his book, quietly talking to his father in the front study. Jongin doesn’t intrude, merely checking in to make sure they’re both comfortable before finding Seungsoo talking to Dongwan.

When the two spot him they finish up their conversation. By the time Jongin is near Seungsoo’s side Dongwan is already dismissing himself and going off in the direction of his rooms. Jongin awkwardly clears his throat, not knowing how to thank Seungsoo for actually coming.

Jongin didn’t think he would refuse, but knowing how unstable things are in their country, he really didn’t expect both Seungsoo and King Do to visit today.

“I’ll be leaving after lunch. There’s a lot of things still needing to be taken care of. My uncle wishes to spend the day here,” Seungsoo informs him.

Jongin nods, figuring as much. King Do has spent the least amount of time with Kyungsoo, but he knows they write each other every week. He hasn’t read any of the letters he finds sitting on their shared desk in their room, but he knows the Do crest well enough. It’s good, that Kyungsoo is able to grow closer to his father at his own pace now that he’s back home, but he doesn’t voice this to Seungsoo.

“Kyungsoo says you took him to the winter festival. He said he liked it.”

Jongin nods, trying to remain neutral about it. He doesn’t know why he suddenly feels bad for the elder.

“He got overwhelmed after a while, so we went home early. But he seemed like he was enjoying himself,” he replies, giving the other Prince a small smile. “I didn’t know he told you about it.”

Seungsoo shrugs, “He writes about you a lot.”

Jongin flushes, not knowing how to reply. It’s the first time he’s hearing about what Kyungsoo writes to his brother. He’s never asked, always assuming it to be about books or what he did that day. The temptation to read one of the letters has always been high, but he knows that would not go over well if Kyungsoo ever found out about it. Even if Kyungsoo is impossible to figure out, he has to respect his boundaries.

“Oh,” he mumbles, clearing his throat awkwardly and feeling his face heat up when Seungsoo just stares at him without saying anything further.

Seungsoo gives him a hard look, making him even more uncomfortable than he already was. The other Prince overcompensates with his overprotectiveness, out of guilt, he doesn’t really know. Seungsoo was never overprotective of Kyungsoo when they were younger, that’s all he knows. It didn’t start until their engagement was announced.

He tries to think too hard about it, not knowing what it was truly like living in the Do castle. He only ever saw what they wanted to be seen. Either way, now that they’re older Seungsoo is beyond overprotective to the point that he feels annoyed most of the time by it.

“He likes you,” Seungsoo states seriously, making him flush uncomfortably.

He figured Kyungsoo was past hating him by now, but hearing the words come out of Seungsoo’s mouth has him feeling anxious. Kyungsoo’s version of like is completely different than someone else’s, so he doesn’t get the point of Seungsoo telling him.

“Well, he’s my husband. I would hope he likes me by now,” he replies when Seungsoo looks at him expectantly, shrugging and crossing his arms over his chest. “I wouldn’t think too hard about it. It’s not what you’re assuming.”

Seungsoo gives him another hard look before rolling his eyes and scoffing. “You’re both hopeless,” the elder mutters, shaking his head.

Jongin, offended, moves to ask him what on earth he’s talking about when he spots Kyungsoo coming into the room, a concentrated look on his face as he fiddles with something in his hands. Seungsoo turns around when he notices his staring and perks up.

“Do you like your puzzle?” he questions, Kyungsoo looking up and nodding his head immediately.

“It’s fun,” Kyungsoo mumbles, looking back down and fiddling with the wood some more. “I wanted to show Jongin.”

He’s surprised when Kyungsoo opts to walk straight over towards him, ignoring Seungsoo and then holding out his wooden puzzle and looking at him expectantly.

“That’s nice,” he replies, not knowing what Kyungsoo is really expecting of him. He gives him a smile when he doesn’t say anything. “I can never figure those out,” he adds on, watching as the younger boy turns it over in his hands.

Kyungsoo turns it over a couple of times in his hands, maneuvering some of the pieces a couple of more times and then to his surprise it’s a perfect cube. He blinks, looking at his husband who frowns and looks up at him.

“Now what?” he questions, looking at the cube and then back up at him and then Seungsoo.

Jongin gapes, reaching over and grabbing the now perfect cube from the younger boy and fiddling with it. Kyungsoo barely even messed with it and it was already fixed back to how it was supposed to be.

“You already finished?” Seungsoo questions, walking over and snatching it from his hands. He looks just as surprised as him, staring at Kyungsoo with wide eyes.

“Can I have another one?” Kyungsoo questions in response, looking hopeful.

Seungsoo nods dumbly, handing the wooden puzzle back to him. “I guess this is why your father brought more than one,” he mumbles, shaking his head before excusing himself.

Jongin watches him go before looking back down at the cube and then at Kyungsoo who’s biting his lip and rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet.

“How did you do that so quickly?” he questions curiously, turning the block over in his hands with a pout. He always gives up on these sort of puzzles, getting frustrated easily by them.

Kyungsoo shrugs, “My mother used to have one. She let me play with it,” he replies quietly, brows furrowing like he’s trying to recall something. “He broke it when he found it in my room.”

Jongin’s smile automatically drops, regretting asking about it immediately. Kyungsoo doesn’t bring up his mother often, or his uncle, and when he does he always goes into a mood where won’t talk for hours afterwards.

“When it gets a little warmer, would you like to visit her?” he questions, scolding himself for not thinking to ask him sooner.

Kyungsoo hasn’t seen his mother in a long time, not since the wedding. He probably misses her, considering she was one of the only people to ever treat him properly, from what he can remember. She gave him his favorite book, of course he misses her. Kyungsoo doesn’t say anything, but quickly nods his head, the tiniest of smiles gracing his lips.

Jongin reaches over and pulls the boy into a hug, rubbing his back soothingly and hoping he doesn’t start moping now that he’s brought it up. His mood can be a tricky thing to predict, but he generally doesn’t look happy once she’s brought up.

“Thank you,” Kyungsoo mumbles quietly, so quiet he almost doesn’t hear him. Jongin just hugs him tighter, not letting go until Joohyuk runs into the room and demands that Kyungsoo go with him to play in the other room.

The rest of the day goes better than he was expecting. Kyungsoo doesn’t mope while they have company. He gets a little teary eyed when Seungsoo has to leave but recovers quickly when his father asks him about the new book he’s apparently reading.

For dinner he gets cake and eats it happily. Five slices that has him worrying he’s going to throw it all up later, but he doesn’t. He does end up crying when his father has to leave at sundown, but he manages to stop by the time the carriage is no longer visible from the top of the steps.

Jongin sits with him, enduring the bitter cold for a while before he says they should probably go back inside. Kyungsoo doesn’t make any complaints and gets up when he holds his hand out, taking it and letting himself be led back to the front study to warm up.

Pan sits on top of the younger boy’s feet, sleeping with his tail wagging still. Kyungsoo let’s out a tiny yawn, rubbing at his eyes. He knows he’s tired, and Kyungsoo probably is too, but can’t find it in himself to get up and move just yet. The fire is too warm, he’s too comfortable.

“Last year you threw my engagement ring at my face,” Kyungsoo speaks up, his chin resting on the top of his knees. He looks tired, his eyes drooping.

Jongin nods hesitantly, shifting in his spot and sitting up a little straighter. He blushes at the memory, feeling embarrassed at how childish he acted. It’s only been a year, but looking back it seems like a whole lot longer. He’s definitely grown up, a lot. Being with Kyungsoo, having to take care of the younger male, he’s had to. Kyungsoo coming to live with them was definitely a reality check on his part.

“I’m sorry,” he apologizes, not remembering if he’s ever given the boy a proper apology for everything. Kyungsoo definitely deserves one. “I was being a child.”

Kyungsoo shrugs, not replying, his eyes continuing to droop. He thinks to ask the boy if he wants to go to bed but before he can get a word out Kyungsoo is speaking up again.

“I don’t know how to pick out presents,” Kyungsoo confesses, his eyes finally closing and staying shut, but he’s not quite asleep yet. “Your birthday is in two days.”

Jongin nearly forgot, running around trying to think of something to give to Kyungsoo. He wasn’t really thinking about his own birthday being two days after his husbands. Honestly, he stopped caring about his own birthday once he got older. He’s too old to have balls thrown for him, but his mother usually makes a big deal about it. She probably already planned something without him knowing.

“You don’t need to get me anything. I’m too old for presents,” he excuses, smiling when Kyungsoo’s head rolls to the side and he twitches back to attention. “You’re tired,” he states with a sigh, getting up from his spot and holding his hand out for the younger boy to take.

Kyungsoo mumbles something sleepily but grabs his had nonetheless, clinging to his arm all the way back to their room. Jongin tucks him in, making sure Pan is in the room before he closes the door and gets ready to sleep on the couch.

He spends a good amount of time staring at the ceiling, nibbling on his lower lip as he thinks. Kyungsoo looked happy today, so he supposes the day was a success. He lets himself smile a little before he eventually falls asleep.

 

--

 

It’s snowing when Kyungsoo wakes up. It’s Jongin’s birthday today and he hasn’t gotten him a present, still confused about it. Jongin told him not worry about it, but the elder gave him eighteen gifts. It would be rude not to at least give his husband one.

What makes matters worse is that Queen Kim decided to throw Jongin a joint party along with Jini and Junyoung’s child announcement. So now he has to be stuffed into a suit and go downstairs in several hours to make an appearance.

Jongin said he didn’t have to stay the entire time, but he knows that if he retires early people will talk and he’d rather not be the subject of rumors among royals.

He spends most of his morning lying in bed, trying to mentally prepare himself for the party. Being around so many people and all the noise makes him anxious, his stomach already feeling like it’s in knots.

Eventually he gets out of bed and goes downstairs for breakfast, still clad in his pajamas. He spots some of the maids cleaning and carrying around plates and is just reminded of the party yet again.

When he spots the servant boy his age he walks over towards him, clearing his throat to get his attention and shaking his head when the other boy moves to bow. He already told him he didn’t have to, he doesn’t like it.

“Did you need something, your highness?” the boy questions.

He initially started asking him questions when he saw that he wore a ring. He was curious, since they were the same age. Eventually he just started asking him whatever he was curious about, not feeling comfortable asking other people because he knew they would give him looks.

“How do you give someone a present?” he questions, tugging at his sleeves uncomfortably.

He still isn’t used to asking anyone questions about simple tasks like these. He knows if he asked any of the Kim’s they would be more than willing to help him, but there would be that look accompanied along with their answer.

The other boy shifts the basket in his hands, shrugging a little before giving him a reply.

“You think of something the other person wants, or something they would like.”

Kyungsoo nods his head but frowns, not knowing what Jongin likes or what he wants. It doesn’t make him feel any better.

“I don’t know what he likes,” he confesses, frowning and tugging at his sleeves again. “I asked and he said he didn’t want anything,” he adds on, wanting to chew on his nails but they’re actually starting to grow a little bit.

“What are you doing?” he hears Jongin question, making him flinch and the servant drop his basket of napkins.

The other boy recovers quickly, picking the basket up and then giving Jongin a deep bow and awkwardly standing still, probably not knowing if he is dismissed or not. Jongin looks grumpy, which used to scare him but he knows that his husband won’t do anything, even if he’s in a bad mood.

“I was asking him a question,” he mumbles, giving the boy a dismissive look before walking over towards where Jongin is standing with his arms crossed and a frown on his lips. Jongin watches the servant rush out of the room, even going as far as to glare at him.

“Why?” Jongin interrogates, huffing before looking back at him, without the glare.

Kyungsoo frowns, not understanding the question but Jongin is looking at him expectantly, so he supposes he should answer now rather than later.

“I had a question,” he replies slowly, shifting on his feet. “I don’t know why you’re mad,” he grumbles, crossing his arms and pulling at the fabric of his night shirt.

He stares at Jongin, watching him get confused before he seems to realize something, his cheeks flushing for whatever reason. He laughs, awkwardly before shaking his head.

“I’m not mad,” Jongin comments, forcing a smile on his face, “It’s nothing. We should eat breakfast.”

Kyungsoo watches him, not understanding why he’s acting strange but nodding his head. He is hungry now and breakfast will probably be the only meal he’s able to eat in peace today, so he takes the elders hand and starts walking towards the kitchen.

Breakfast is quiet, even though everyone is talking, Jongin doesn’t say anything other than thank you’s when everyone wishes him a happy birthday. He smiles and nods his head but doesn’t add anything to the conversation like he normally would. Jongin eats and then excuses himself, leaving him alone with the rest of the family.

Its odd to him, used to the elder being the more talkative one. If anyone thinks anything is out of the ordinary they don’t speak up about it, continuing breakfast like normal. But Junyoung does seem to finish his food soon after Jongin.

When he’s done with his own food he goes back to their room, looking around for his husband but failing to spot him. He frowns, going towards their wardrobe and picking out clothes that are suitable to wear until he has to change for the party later. He changes and when he comes out he’s still alone in the room with Pan.

Sighing he grabs his book and moves to sit on the couch, pulling the blanket Jongin uses to sleep over his legs and settling in to read until he has to get ready for the party. Jongin bought him several new books for his birthday, so he starts on one with a dark brown cover with gold lettering.

He doesn’t know how much time passes but before he knows it the door is opening and Jongin walks in, walking straight to the wardrobe and pulling out clothes before heading to restroom. He pauses what he’s doing, realizing he’s gotten through half his book he assumes it’s almost time for guests to start showing up.

Kyungsoo closes his book, making sure to mark the page he’s on and setting it down on the couch next to him. When Jongin walks out of the restroom he’s half dressed, missing his suit jacket. The elder practically ignores him while he finishes buttoning up his sleeves.

“I like the book,” he speaks up, watching as Jongin twitches, looking up and probably just now realizing he was in the room the entire time because he looks surprised.

He looks at him before looking at where his book is sitting but otherwise doesn’t react. It takes him a good minute before he’s nodding his head.

“I’m glad,” he replies, going back to finish up his right sleeve now that the right one is done.

Kyungsoo frowns, not expecting the elder to be so dismissive. He wonders if maybe Jongin had lied when he said he wasn’t mad, but the elder didn’t look like he was lying. He bites his lip, trying to think of what he could have possibly done in the few hours he was even around the elder to make him upset.

Not knowing what he did he sighs, watching as Jongin continues getting ready in silence.

“Are you mad at me?” he finally questions, resisting the urge to bite his nails. He nearly huffs when the elder just looks up and shakes his head at him.

“Of course not. You should probably get ready,” Jongin comments before clearing his throat and leaving the room.

Kyungsoo sighs, getting up from the couch and going to put on his suit in silence. Pan lets out a couple of barks so he opens the door and lets him out, knowing the servant on the floor will take him outside.

Once he’s done getting dressed he heads downstairs, lingering around by himself and waiting for the rest of the Kim’s. He wonders if Seungsoo will end up coming to the party, since it looks like Jongin won’t be much company.

“You look nice!” he hears Junyoung comment, starling him. He looks over and sees his brother-in-law already dressed up with a sleeping Joohyuk on his shoulder.

“Thank you,” he replies, not in the mood to return the smile, but not wanting to be rude to the elder. Junyoung is always nice to him.

“Where is Jongin?”

Kyungsoo shrugs, “I don’t know,” he mumbles, tugging at his sleeve and then forcing himself not to frown. “He’s ignoring me,” he adds on, shrugging again and then not being able to fight the urge anymore and moving to bite on his nails.

“I’m sure he’s not ignoring you,” Junyoung tries to reassure him but the elder doesn’t look too convinced.

“If you say so,” he replies, sighing and forcing a smile on his lips when the rest of the family finally arrives, Jongin the last one to walk into the room.

Kyungsoo lingers around awkwardly, not knowing if he should even go stand next to his husband who keeps fiddling with his own sleeves. When he realizes everyone else is paired up he walks over to the elder, feeling out of place for the first time in a while.

When Jongin doesn’t even glance at him he almost wants to yell at him but King Kim starts talking and before he knows it he has to greet people and force a smile on his face. Several of the guests comment on his own birthday being two days ago, making him uncomfortable, but he says thank you regardless.

The food ends up being a good distraction, since it’s his favorite. He eats two plates before he realizes Jongin has been moping, poking at his food the entire time.

Once he realizes that the elder must really not be ignoring him on purpose, but something is obviously dampening his mood he becomes confused. Kyungsoo doesn’t know how to cheer up someone, never really being cheerful himself in the first place.

Looking at the guests he notices people are starting to dance and talk amongst themselves. He received ballroom dancing lessons when he was fifteen, getting hit with a wooden crane by his teacher every time he missed a step or took an extra one.

“Do you want to dance?” he questions begrudgingly, not knowing what else to even do. He doesn’t particularly want to dance, but he recalls Jongin looking like he wanted to at their wedding.

“What?” Jongin questions dumbly, looking up at him with a surprised look on his face.

“I asked if you wanted to dance,” he reiterates, mentally trying not to back out of it. There’s so many people and if they get up they’re all going to stare at them.

When Jongin just gapes at him he lets out an aggravated huff, standing up and attracting the attention of Junyoung and Dongwan who were talking near them. He tries his hardest not to look at them, grabbing Jongin by his arm and hauling him up as best he can, the elder fumbling but getting up without knocking his chair down.

“This may not be a good idea, I don’t really know this song,” Jongin starts blabbering, but he ignores him, already made up his mind. They’ll dance and Jongin will be forced to pay attention to him.

Kyungsoo takes a deep breath before placing his hands on Jongin’s shoulders, determined to just get the dance over with. When the elder just gapes at him he frowns, waiting.

“You’re supposed to grab my waist,” he instructs plainly, wondering if the elder even knows how to dance.

Jongin turns red but nods his head, doing what he’s told but his touch is stiff and awkward. Kyungsoo chooses not to comment on it, waiting for the elder to lead but he just stands there with a look on his face. Resisting the urge to groan he decides to move first, instantly regretting it because the elder steps on his feet, more than once.

By the tenth time it happens he can’t control his face and he winces, stopping immediately and frowning, removing Jongin’s hands from his waist and sighing.

“You’re a horrible dancer,” he mumbles, his toes already feeling achy by the amount of times the elder stepped on them.

Jongin doesn’t look offended but he doesn’t look any happier than before he asked him to dance. Not knowing what else to do he sighs, crossing his arms over his chest and looking around for some sort of distraction. He’s not sure what to say when someone bumps into him from behind, making him fall forward slightly onto Jongin.

He frowns, turning around and inching closer to Jongin when he sees a couple he doesn’t recognize. A girl and a boy several heads taller than him who both immediately start apologizing.

“It’s fine,” he replies, still inching as far away from them as he can, even if it means being a little too close to Jongin to be comfortable.

“You remember Joohyun and Donghun, right?” Jongin questions, moving him so that he’s standing at his side instead.

Kyungsoo stares at the two, not recalling their faces at all but nodding his head as to not seem rude. He can’t exactly say no when they’re staring at him with polite smiles on their faces.

He supposes whoever they are, they aren’t technically royalty since there are now crowns on their heads. They look important though, the girls dress is a little too nice to just be anything less than a cousin of a prince or princess. The two of them share a small conversation with them, mainly Jongin, before bowing and taking their leave.

Kyungsoo watches the two from across the room. He guesses they’re siblings, noting that the boy has a ring on his finger and the girl doesn’t. They both have paler skin and black hair, they look similar now that he really pays attention. The boy goes towards his wife and the girl is left sitting by herself for less than a minute before someone is asking her to dance.

He presumes the girl is pretty, since she gets asked to dance again by another boy when the current song ends. She smiles a lot, a whole lot more than he ever would being asked to dance by random men.

“Do you think she’s pretty?” he finds himself questioning, looking over at his husband who gets startled, a look of confusion on his face.

“What?”

Kyungsoo gestures towards the girl, “Do you think Joohyun is pretty?” he reiterates, wondering if maybe Jongin likes girls, not boys.

It never really mattered before, whether or not Jongin liked girls, because they were engaged and had a marriage contract written out. They would get married whether they wanted to or not.

But, it was never a legally binding contract, since it wasn’t written by his father. They were engaged since before he can barely even remember. So, it never mattered whether or not either of them even liked boys, they didn’t have a choice, they would be married and that was that.

So maybe Jongin does like girls, he just never told thought he would get to marry one. Kyungsoo thinks back to Joohyuk’s drawing with the puppies, and even Rahee, and decides, maybe Jongin wants children too.

He can’t give the elder children, even if he wanted to.  

“Yes, but I don’t understand why you’re asking me that,” Jongin replies, his brows furrowed and a frown on his lips.

Joohyun is a girl, who can probably have children. Apparently, she’s pretty, Jongin said so himself.

“Do you want an annulment?” he questions, fighting the urge to bite on something as he waits for the elder’s response.

If Jongin likes girls, wants children, then he should be able to do that, he decides. Jongin has done a lot for him since he’s moved here. He’s put up with him for over a year, been nice to him even when he didn’t deserve it, it’s the least he can do. If Jongin wants to marry a pretty girl and have children, he’ll just have to accept that.

Even if that means he’ll have to go back home, wherever that is now, he can go through with it. He can learn to be happy, he thinks, living with Seungsoo and his father. If he can’t then it won’t be that bad, since it’s not like he was ever really happy before. He’s used to it, he can deal with not being happy.

When he finally manages to look up at the elder, Jongin doesn’t look happy or mad, he’s just staring at him. He doesn’t know what to make of that, shifting uncomfortably in his spot.

“It’s fine if you want one,” he tries to reassure the elder, forcing a smile on his face like he used to when he was younger. “I’ll be fine. I can move back home, you can have your bed back,” he adds on, keeping the smile on his lips.

It doesn’t sound convincing coming from his mouth and even he doesn’t really believe it. He’s gotten so used to this home, his new family, if he had to go back he doesn’t know if he would ever really be okay with that. He’s gotten too used to being wanted at the Kim’s that going back, Jongin wanting him to go back, terrifies him.

“Why would you ask me that?” Jongin finally questions him. He’s giving him a look that he can’t quite figure out.

Kyungsoo wants to explain, but his mouth refuses to move and he’s left standing there silently, unable to answer the question. He downright flinches when Jongin’s mother comes up to them and says something about saying hello to her sister.

Jongin immediately takes her hand and starts walking away, despite the look his mother has on her face, leaving him standing alone. Not knowing what else to do he goes back and takes his seat next to Junyoung, nodding his head when the elder asks if everything is okay.

He sits there for about an hour before he decides to go to bed, excusing himself and not even bothering to go find Jongin. If people talk, it won’t be anything new, he tells himself despite the anxious feeling he has in the pit of his stomach when people see him leave the ballroom alone.

It’s not like they have people convinced they’re a perfect happy couple, he thinks. If anything, everyone is just waiting for the annulment to happen anyway. By the time he makes it back to their room he’s already breathing a little heavier, but he refuses to start gnawing on his nails.

Instead he takes the crown off his head and changes into his night clothes. It’s too late to go get Pan from the stables so he gets into bed and pulls the covers over his head, squeezing his eyes shut and counting sheep until can’t count any higher and then falls asleep.

He startles awake hours later, hearing someone open the door loudly and nearly slamming it shut. He squints into the darkness, recognizing Jongin instantly and attempting to calm down.

He’s not sure what time it is, but the moon is shining through the open curtains meaning it’s probably past midnight by now. The elder is fumbling around with his suit, managing to get his jacket off and then apparently growing too frustrated with the shirt buttons and giving up.

Kyungsoo watches in confusion as he all but drags himself over towards the bed and only spotting him once he’s several feet away.

“This is my bed, go sleep on the couch,” the elder huffs, giving him a tired glare that surprises him, but he gets up nonetheless, awkwardly trying to move around the elder but Jongin grabs his wrist clumsily.

“Wait, no, that was mean, m’sorry,” Jongin mumbles, slurring his words and smelling strongly of wine.

It dawns on him that the elder is drunk, the clumsiness making much more sense now that he’s a bit more awake. The strong smell of the wine doesn’t bring back any found memories. When his uncle would drink, it never ended well for him. The elder’s grip on his wrist feels too heavy that he almost starts to panic.

“I can never tell if you hate me or not,” Jongin mumbles, letting go of his wrist and letting out a yawn, rubbing at his eyes clumsily.

Kyungsoo takes a couple of steps away from him, not liking the smell or memories that wine brings back. “I don’t hate you,” he replies, crossing his arms over his chest and wanting to go back to bed. He’s tired and just wants to forget the day even happened.

Jongin makes a grumbling noise of protest before moving past him to get into the bed, getting tangled in the sheets and making a ruckus before he just lies still. The elder stares up at the ceiling before looking over at him with a look.

“You should go to sleep,” he whispers, looking over at the couch and deciding it won’t be so bad sleeping on it for one night. It is the elder’s birthday after all and he supposes he did something to deserve it anyways. He’s a horrible husband that can’t even give someone a gift. Of course, he deserves to sleep on the couch.

He’s about to start walking over towards it when Jongin starts laughing, making him twitch and remember why he doesn’t like when people drink in the first place. They always act unpredictable. He lets out a tiny sigh, looking at his husband worriedly when he won’t stop.

“Are you okay?” he questions, not knowing how to take care of anyone, let alone someone who is inebriated as Jongin is.

The elder snorts, finally calming down enough to shake his head no and look over at him. He sobers up enough to stop laughing, but there’s still a drunk smile on his lips when he goes back to staring at the ceiling.

“I’m in love with you,” Jongin states, letting out another snort before shaking his head and starting his laughing up again.

Kyungsoo pretends he didn’t hear him, refusing to look back and walking towards the door. “You’re drunk,” he replies, making it out of the room before Jongin can say anything else he doesn’t mean.

Chapter Text

His head feels like someone took a hammer and bashed his skull in is the first thing Jongin thinks when he wakes up with a splitting headache. His mouth feels like he swallowed a bunch of sand and his stomach is grumbling unhappily. He forces himself to sit up, groaning in pain before flopping back down onto his pillow. Confused he looks around the room, realizing he’s in his bed he looks to the couch, frowning when he doesn’t spot Kyungsoo. No one else appears to be in the room, including Pan and for that he’s thankful. He doesn’t think he wants anyone hearing him throwing up like he’s about to, stumbling out of the bed and rushing towards the restroom.

He instantly regrets not listening to Junyoung about the wine last night, his stomach and head battling it out over which will cause him the most pain. He whines when he gets up and rinses his mouth out with water, looking at his reflection and grimacing. Somehow, he manages to clean himself off with a bath, still feeling like his head is going to kill him when he gets dressed, having no idea what time it is.

He begrudgingly ventures out of his room, heading downstairs and hoping physician Jun has something to make his headache go away. He all but drags himself to the dining room, scowling at Junyoung who is looking over some sort of papers while he eats.

When the elder spots him he gives him a concerned look but doesn’t say anything, sliding him his cup of water and setting his work down.

“I told you to ease up on the wine,” Junyoung comments, but doesn’t say anything further and he’s glad, still trying to function enough to drink his water without spilling it.

Once he’s downed half the glass he sets it back down on the table and moves to rub at his temples, wincing when he hears noise coming from the kitchen area.

“What time is it?” he mumbles, grimacing at how scratchy and groggy his own voice sounds.

He can barely remember how he got to bed. He remembers Junyoung telling him he should probably quit downing glasses of wine, and then after that it just gets fuzzy. He’s never even had more than one glass, never being a fan of the bitter taste but after everything that happened yesterday he didn’t care.

“Jongin, it’s past noon,” Junyoung replies quietly, shaking his head and pursing his lips in a displeased manner. “How did drinking your feelings away go?” he questions a little bit louder than necessary making his head pound.

He glares at the elder, sulking and moving to lie his head down on the table because it feels too heavy for him to keep up at the moment. “I didn’t do anything stupid, did I?” he questions, not remembering much after his third cup. He would hate to have done something embarrassing in public, especially in front of all those royals.

“Well refusing to talk about your feelings and drinking a bunch of wine is pretty stupid, but I assume you mean in regards to your inebriated state last night. You did nothing embarrassing while you were downstairs, but whatever you did when you went to bed is a mystery,” Junyoung comments, picking his papers back up and reading.

“Too many words,” he groans out, thanking the maid when she sets down a cup of tea that smells a lot like mint.

He drinks from the cup and attempts to sit up, taking deep breaths so he doesn’t throw up a second time, vowing to never drink ever again if it means headaches this bad. He should probably eat something but the thought of food makes him nauseas.

“Worst birthday ever,” he mumbles, wanting to go back upstairs and sleep away his misery, but also knowing he can’t escape Junyoung’s impending lecture about ignoring his feelings in favor of drinking wine.

“Wouldn’t it have just been easier telling your husband he hurt your feelings by suggesting an annulment? Or that servant boys makes you jealous? Or even that you’re in love with him? Now will you listen to me?” Junyoung interrogates, not looking up from the page in front of him.

If he wasn’t in so much pain he would throw something at the elder, but he can barely keep his head up as it is and moving his arms seems like it would be too much work.

“I hate you,” is what he replies with, forcing himself to take another sip of the tea that is supposed to be helping. “Kyungsoo doesn’t care about my feelings,” he adds on stubbornly, setting his cup down and then going back to sulking.

“Did you turn twenty-two or four? I can’t remember with the way you’re acting.”

Jongin looks up to glare at the elder, but even that hurts so he stops, whining before burying his head in his arms. He just wants to sleep and forget yesterday even happened. Of all the ways to realize his own feelings for his own husband, getting jealous over a servant boy is the worst. He truly is some sort of pathetic.

He loves his husband, who will probably never love him back, it’s depressing enough to have too many glasses of wine when added onto Kyungsoo suggesting an annulment. He completely stands by that judgment, but the headache and other symptoms aren’t worth consuming wine ever again, he decides.

“Where is he?” he questions tiredly, knowing he probably needs to apologize for more than likely kicking him out of the bed. The younger boy had disappeared by the time he got back from saying hello to his aunts and uncles from his mother’s side at the party last night. He can only assume he was asleep when he barged into the room, not really being able to remember how he ended up in his room to begin with. Hopefully he didn’t do anything too embarrassing.

“I believe he’s doing a jigsaw puzzle with Joohyuk in the front study,” Junyoung replies, making a shooing motion so he begrudgingly gets up, having to take a couple of deep breaths before forcing himself to walk towards the front study.

By the time he makes it to the room his head is throbbing uncomfortably, making him wince at the brightness of the sun shining through the undrawn curtains. He squints as he looks over at Joohyuk and Kyungsoo, Pan spotting him first and rushing over with a loud bark that nearly has him in tears.

“Uncle Jongin!” Joohyun shouts, adding to his migraine and making him wince when the toddler jump hugs onto his legs. “Can you help with the puzzle?” his nephew questions, not bothering to wait for an answer before he gets dragged over towards the center of the room where hundreds of little puzzle pieces are scattered around.

They seem to have a good portion of one corner already done and the outline of the whole thing. Jongin assumes Kyungsoo has done majority of it, considering Joohyuk is still a little too young for a puzzle this size. He sighs when Joohyuk hands him a piece and looks at him expectantly, his brain not being able to even begin to comprehend where it could possibly go.

“Joohyuk, can I talk to Kyungsoo alone for a little bit?” he questions instead, setting the puzzle piece down and giving his nephew a strained smile.

Joohyuk stares at him for a while before looking at Kyungsoo and then nodding his head, standing up and saying he’s going to go ask his dad for some orange slices and then he’ll be back. Jongin walks over towards Kyungsoo and then takes a seat next to him with a frown on his face at how sore he feels. He lets out a tiny sigh, slouching in his seat and suddenly being hyperaware of how close he is to the younger boy.

Kyungsoo doesn’t seem to acknowledge his presence, instead focusing on the puzzle and moving a little bit too quickly for him to really understand. Every time he picks up a new piece he just seems to automatically know where it goes or sets it to the side easily. The younger boy looks well rested, his hair looking freshly washed and he’s wearing the newer clothes that Jinhee gifted him for his birthday. It’s a little too big but Kyungsoo has never worn clothes that are his actual size, he realizes.

“I’m sorry,” he blurts, flushing and looking away when Kyungsoo finally looks up at him.

Being around his own husband was a whole lot easier when he hadn’t realized that Kyungsoo is more attractive than he initially thought. He never really paid attention to his looks, at least not at the same level as he does now. Kyungsoo was always so thin and pale he didn’t really focus too much on anything other than that. Kyungsoo is still a little pale, but now that he doesn’t look two seconds away from passing out, there’s a lot more to notice.

“For what?” Kyungsoo questions, making him remember he’s supposed to be making an apology right now. He flushes even more, shifting in his seat and clearing his throat that suddenly feels dry.

“Um, I woke up in the bed?” he replies, his voice cracking embarrassingly and making him want to just die on the spot. “I don’t remember if you were already asleep or not, so I’m sorry for disturbing your sleep. It won’t ever happen again,” he rushes out, forcing a smile on his lips and turning back to face the younger boy.

Kyungsoo just stares at him in silence, like he’s grown used to. When all he does is stare Jongin grows nervous.

“I was drunk,” he rushes out, shaking his head and moving to rub at his face. “If I said anything it was probably nonsense. I had too much wine, because you thought I wanted an annulment, which I do not want, by the way,” he throws in, feeling nauseas again and regretting not finishing up that cup of tea he was given. He should have done this tomorrow when he was more mentally prepared.

“You don’t remember,” Kyungsoo replies slowly, studying his face leaving him to shrink in on himself.

He tries to think back to the last thing he remembers and the only thing he can recall from last night was tripping on some stairs once he decided he was tired. Junyoung got a servant boy to help him, but after that it’s all black and fuzzy. He doesn’t even remember how he got into his pajamas.

“No,” he replies, searching the younger boys face for any sign that he did something incredibly stupid before passing out.

“So, you didn’t mean it.”

It doesn’t sound like a question, so Jongin doesn’t know how to reply. Whether or not he said something horrible to his husband last night, he can’t remember. He was upset majority of the night, with all the wine who knows what he told Kyungsoo.

“Whatever I said was probably just the wine talking,” he says slowly, hoping it’s a good enough excuse if he hurt Kyungsoo’s feelings in anyway.

Kyungsoo just nods his head before turning back to his puzzle, fiddling with a piece in his hands that look like they’ve seen better days. He wants to examine the boy’s poor fingers, but doesn’t want Kyungsoo to freak out and close himself off like he normally does if he brings up the nail biting. He seemed to be doing better lately though, which makes it sadder to see them all chewed up again.

“You don’t want an annulment?” Kyungsoo questions quietly, peeling at the piece of puzzle he has in his hands enough that the edge starts looking a little frayed.

Jongin cannot even begin to understand where the younger boy got the idea from but he shakes his head, “Of course not,” he says a little bit too loudly, because Kyungsoo flinches a little. “Why would you even think that?” he questions, wanting to get to the bottom of it all.

Kyungsoo shifts a little in his seat before inching in on himself and pulling his knees up to his chest, still messing with the puzzle piece. “You like girls,” Kyungsoo accuses, giving him an uncomfortable glance before staring at his lap.

Jongin gapes, wondering how Kyungsoo even came to that conclusion. It’s almost laughable, but his head is still killing him and even talking still hurts.

“I’m not sure how you came to that conclusion, but my interest in girls is very limited,” he replies slowly, shaking his head and rubbing his eyes, too tired to deal with something like this. “You have nothing to worry about, really,” he stresses.

Girls are pretty, he can decipher which one’s he finds prettier, but it’s not like he’s ever wanted to act on that attractiveness.

“I’m going to go read,” Kyungsoo announces, not leaving much room for him to say anything else because he gets up and leaves before he can even open his mouth.

Jongin frowns, sighing and wondering if he just made things better or worse. Kyungsoo didn’t even really acknowledge his apology for one. He’s too tired to deal with it though, about to get up and head back upstairs when Joohyuk walks into the room with a bowl of oranges and an expectant look on his face.

“Did you make hyung feel better?” his nephew questions, taking a spot next to him and handing him an orange slice he really doesn’t want, but taking it anyways because he should probably eat.

“I don’t know,” he replies honestly, shrugging and wanting to go bug the younger boy some more but not being in the shape to make that trip all the way to the library right now.

Joohyuk doesn’t say anything else, just hands him a piece of the puzzle and gives him an expectant smile. Jongin sighs as he tries to figure out where it goes, realizing Kyungsoo is a whole lot smarter than people give him credit for.

 

--

 

With plenty of water and rest Jongin feels better the following morning. He vows to never drink wine ever again and nearly pukes when Junyoung has a glass during lunch, wanting to throw his bread at the elder. He hadn’t seen Kyungsoo at breakfast so he arrived at lunch early, not even really that hungry but not wanting to miss the younger boy. He hasn’t gotten to talk to him since the day before. He must have come into the room pretty late last night because he wasn’t there when he went to sleep.

Jongin perks up when he hears footsteps, not being able to stop himself from grinning when it turns out to be Kyungsoo. He ignores to smug look Junyoung sends him and immediately stands up to pull the chair out for his husband. Kyungsoo makes a face but sits down quietly, putting his napkin in his lap and then waiting. “Thank you,” he eventually mumbles, squirming before going still again. He watches as the maids bring Kyungsoo his lunch, smiling when the younger male looks at the soup happily before eating. He blushes when he gets caught staring, turning around quickly and reaching for his glass of water.

“So Kyungsoo, have you named your new horse yet?” Junyoung questions, causing Kyungsoo to look up from his soup with wide eyes.

Jongin turns his attention back to his husband, curious about the response. It took him forever just to name Pan. He’s only had the horse for less than a week so he doesn’t expect him to really answer with anything other than a no. Kyungsoo surprises him by nodding his head.

“It’s a girl. I named her Lily,” he replies seriously, setting his spoon down, “She likes sugar cubes.”

Jongin gapes, taking in the new information silently. He wasn’t even aware Kyungsoo was visiting the stables. He knows the younger boy doesn’t know how to ride a horse yet, or really tame one, so he’s glad the Byun’s had the sense to send him one with a good temperament.

“Pan is scared of her,” he adds on as an afterthought, shrugging before going back to his soup.

Junyoung chuckles but doesn’t question him anymore so Jongin uses the opportunity to speak up instead.

“Why Lily?” he questions, curious since Pan was apparently named after the boy in one of his books. He doesn’t recall anyone named Lily.

“Because I like lilies,” Kyungsoo replies plainly, blowing on his food before taking another spoonful into his mouth.

Jongin huffs when Junyoung starts snickering, turning around to give the elder the stink eye before reaching for his spoon, needing to eat his own soup before it gets cold. He wonders if the snow will let up soon so he can start finishing up Kyungsoo’s pond. He knows it can’t fully be done until the spring, but he wants to make a good amount of progress on it before then.

He knows as soon as the weather permits flowers to start growing, lilies will be the first thing he asks to be planted. Kyungsoo showed him a picture of a lotus once, he’ll have to start looking into where to get them imported from since he’s never seen them grow in their kingdom.

“I’m going to go check on Joohyuk, you two enjoy your lunch!” Junyoung announces, getting up from the table and making his leave.

Kyungsoo mumbles a quiet goodbye but goes back to his soup to eat in silence. Jongin watches him for a while, turning away when Kyungsoo looks up and clearing his throat awkwardly. He downright flinches when he hears a high-pitched giggle, looking around and spotting Jinhee with Rahee on her hip.

“Can you hold her?” his sister questions, not giving him room to decline before she’s sitting his niece down in his lap. “I have to talk to the chef about Jini unnie, I won’t take long,” she rushes out, leaving as quick as she came.

Jongin sighs, looking down at his niece and moving his bowl of soup out of the reach of her tiny arms. Rahee still tries to reach for his spoon, blabbering incoherently before making grabbing hands towards Kyungsoo, who is ignoring her existence.

“She likes you,” he announces, smiling down at his niece before looking up at Kyungsoo who is looking highly uncomfortable. “Why don’t you like babies?” he questions, recalling how Kyungsoo wanted to be far away from his own nephew when he first met him and how he never wants to acknowledge Rahee.

“I never said I didn’t like them,” Kyungsoo replies quietly, opting to stir his soup now instead of eating it.

Frowning he looks down at Rahee, who hasn’t waned from trying to getting Kyungsoo’s attention. His husband’s answer honestly doesn’t make any sense. He’s never looked comfortable around children, even when he first arrived at the castle he looked awkward around Joohyuk.

Jongin decides not to press the matter, seeing as how Kyungsoo is uncomfortable around a variety of different things, not just children. There’s really no point in pursuing the conversation about it. Rahee will grow up soon enough and start pestering Kyungsoo just like Joohyuk did. He’ll warm up to her, he’s sure of it.

“I’m done eating,” Kyungsoo announces, getting up and pushing in his chair. “I’ll see you at dinner,” he comments before taking off, giving him no time to speak up, yet again.

Jongin frowns, moving to get up but remembering he still has Rahee in his lap. Cursing under his breath his sits back down, sighing and waiting impatiently for his sister to come back from the kitchen to grab her so he can chase down his husband. When Jinhee comes back he immediately stands up, rushing over and handing Rahee to her without a word before taking off. By the time he reaches the stairs he has no idea where Kyungsoo went, but the library is the most likely place he ended up. Sighing he makes the journey all the way up the stairs, out of breath by the time he reaches the library doors. When he opens them up he’s surprised to see Kyungsoo sitting on the couch of the first floor when he usually sits on the second level near the windows. When his husband spots him his eyes widen comically. He must have just sat down because his book isn’t even open yet, it’s still sitting on his lap.

“Why did you follow me?” Kyungsoo questions him, looking confused and frowning at him.

Quickly trying to control his breathing he moves into the library, walking over and taking a seat on the other end of the couch Kyungsoo is sitting on.

“I wanted to talk to you but you left too quick,” he replies, clearing his throat before turning to look at his husband who is still frowning at him. “You walk awfully fast for someone with short legs,” he comments.

Kyungsoo glares at him, obviously not liking the comment but saying nothing about it. He does end up crossing his arms over his chest and huffing, directing his glare elsewhere.

“Are you mad at me?” he questions seriously, not being able to shake off the feeling that Kyungsoo is purposefully avoiding him. “Because I really am sorry about the other night,” he apologizes, which apparently strikes a nerve with his husband.

“What exactly are you apologizing for? Ignoring me that entire day, getting drunk, waking me up, or saying stupid things you don’t even remember?” Kyungsoo fires out, catching him completely off guard, his stomach flopping unhappily.

He blinks back his surprise, not even knowing which part to address first, because apparently Kyungsoo is mad at him, and annoyed enough to tell him about it instead of ignoring him entirely.

“I wasn’t ignoring you,” he starts off but immediately shuts up when Kyungsoo redirects his glare back at him, obviously not buying it.

“Don’t lie to me,” his husband snaps, making him shrink back into the couch, immediately looking away guiltily.

He awkwardly clears his throat, starting over. “I wasn’t purposefully ignoring you, I swear, I was just…distracted,” is what he settles with, shrugging one of his shoulders and then tugging at his sleeve nervously.

He’s not really ready to tell his husband why he was distracted, mostly because it’s embarrassing to admit he was jealous of him talking to a servant boy. Apparently from what Junyoung has told him, Kyungsoo talks to that particular servant boy all the time. He couldn’t even deny the elder’s teasing about him being jealous because, well, he was right. He’s always right, he realized, which was enough to have his thoughts elsewhere all day.

Even if he loves him, it’s not like he can actually say it out loud to him, no matter how much he wants to now that he’s realized it. Kyungsoo looked completely frozen in place when Joohyuk first said it to him. He’s not even sure how he reacted after Seungsoo pulled him into the carriage.

No matter his own feelings, he has to take into account so many different things. Kyungsoo isn’t just another person he can work up the courage to just tell him how he feels. The younger boy will question it and then deny he even means it, most likely. Kyungsoo has improved a lot since he’s been with them, but he’s not sure where the younger boy’s own feelings lie. He’s sure the boy doesn’t hate him anymore, but if he asked he’s not even sure Kyungsoo would know how to reply. There’s no use in hurting his own feelings hearing something he doesn’t want to come out of the younger boy's mouth if he asked.

“About the wine, I’m never drinking it ever again, the headache I got from it is punishment enough, trust me,” he sighs out, shaking his head and nearly gagging remembering the taste. “I really wasn’t in the right state of mind when I woke you up, I’m really sorry if I was annoying or loud,” he adds on, rubbing his face.

“Okay,” Kyungsoo eventually replies, his glare gone and he looks a whole lot calmer than he did before.

Relieved he lets out a deep breath he was holding, smiling at the younger boy. “So you’re not mad at me anymore? Am I forgiven?” he pesters, wanting to be completely sure he doesn’t have to keep apologizing.

Kyungsoo gives him a half-hearted shrug, “I guess,” he comments, moving to bite on his nails, which he chooses not to comment on.

Glad that the issue is resolved he decides he might as well leave the younger boy alone, but he’s curious so he decides to ask. “What exactly did I say when I was drunk?” he questions, hoping it isn’t anything too horrible. Maybe he just blabbered incoherently or told him how he used to be afraid of cats when he was younger.

Kyungsoo lets out a laugh, shaking his head and giving him an uncomfortable smile, “It was nothing important,” he reassures him, shrugging before going back to staring at his hands.

Jongin nods his head, figuring it wasn’t anything too bad if Kyungsoo is just willing to dismiss it. “Okay then, I’ll leave you alone now, enjoy your book,” he comments, smiling before getting up and heading back downstairs. He’s curious as to whether or not Lily really does like sugar cubes.

Chapter Text

Kyungsoo really wishes winter would hurry up and be over, shivering slightly as he hands another sugar cube over to Lily. The stable boy tells him not to give her too many, so he has no more left in his hands, stuffing them back into his pockets.

In an attempt to escape the stuffiness of the castle he ventured outside and to the stables, wanting to visit Lily before it gets too cold and snows. So far, he’s avoided snow, knowing it’s cold and wet. Joohyuk has come inside from playing in the snow looking like a mess and that isn’t something he wants to go through.

Sighing he supposes he should go back inside before he gets too cold. His nose is already starting to drip and his hands are freezing, so he gives Lily one last pat on the snout before he exits the barn and heads for the castle. Pan follows after him once he’s far enough away from the horses, hopping through the grass before running ahead of him towards the castle. Kyungsoo rushes the rest of the way when the wind picks up, scurrying inside and heading straight for the front study where the fire is always lit.

He’s surprised when he walks in and sees Joohyuk sitting in the corner of the room, sniffling to himself. Frowning he walks over towards the boy being distracted by Pan, but when he spots him he bursts into tears before jumping up and hugging onto his legs. Confused he attempts to pick the boy up and nearly topples over, hurrying over to the fire and then taking a seat with Joohyuk secured in his lap.

“Mommy yelled at me,” the boy hiccups out, burying his face in his coat.

Kyungsoo’s never heard Jini yell at anyone, but then again, she’s pregnant and cried at breakfast that morning making him highly uncomfortable. He supposes her mood will be difficult to deal with now that she’s going to have another child.

Not knowing what to tell the boy he decides to just hug him, patting his back and hoping he stops crying soon because he doesn’t like seeing the boy upset. Joohyuk is usually a happy person, he's always smiling. He’s only ever seen him cry once since he’s been at the Kim’s and that’s when a bug flew on him.

“Does your mommy ever yell at you?” Joohyuk questions, sniffling and rubbing at his eyes and then his nose with the sleeve of his shirt.

Kyungsoo shakes his head, never remembering his mother ever speaking above a loud whisper. She never yelled. Just thinking of her makes his eyes sting a little, barely even getting to see her when she was at the Kim’s for the wedding.

“No. Other people did though,” he admits, recalling a handful of people that would yell at him.

His teachers, the maids, the chef, his uncle. He got yelled at a lot when he was Joohyuk’s age. He could have been sitting alone in a room and someone would have yelled at him for something, anything really. He supposes that’s one of the reasons he hates loud noises.

“That’s not nice,” Joohyuk mumbles, sniffling before leaning against his chest.

Kyungsoo agrees silently, resting his chin on the top of Joohyuk’s head, watching as Pan walks around the room and then perks up, rushing over towards the entry and barking before taking off. He’s confused for a second before he sees Junyoung walk into the room, looking a little disheveled because Joohyuk probably hid from them and he was probably searching the entire castle for the boy.

“There you are!” Junyoung huffs out, rubbing his face exasperatedly.

“You found him?” he hears a familiar voice question, his suspicions correct when Jongin pops into the room as well, Pan trying to get his attention by pawing at his feet.

“Yes, he was with Kyungsoo,” Junyoung replies, beckoning Joohyuk over with a tired smile on his face.

Joohyuk gets up from his lap and walks over to his dad, holding his hands up and getting picked up immediately. The elder gives him a tiny smile before walking out of the room, probably to have a long talk with Joohyuk for running off again.

Jongin walks over and takes a seat across from him, Pan immediately rushes into the elder’s lap, making him grimace as he starts licking at his face.

“I think I liked him better when he didn’t like me,” Jongin comments, shooing the dog away and managing to get him calmed down enough that he just sits panting in his lap instead.

Kyungsoo shrugs, not knowing what to say. Pan likes pretty much everyone, except some of the other stable animals, like the sheep and Lily. He hunts well, but is too afraid of the sheep to help with herding them, at least, that’s what the stable boys tell him. They’re all friendly enough that he can ask them about Lilly and Pan and most of the time they’re there to give him carrots to feed Lily. Sometimes they give him deer meat to give Pan. He really wishes it was warmer so he can spend more time with his new horse, but she seems friendly enough. She hasn’t tried to bite him and he’s thankful.

“Have you eaten lunch yet?” Jongin questions, surprising him into looking up.

“No,” he replies slowly, brows furrowing as he looks at the elder. “Why?” he questions, not understanding where the question came from since it’s only been about an hour since breakfast.

“I was going to ask if you wanted to eat lunch together,” Jongin mumbles, picking at a sticker in Pan’s fur and flicking it across the room.

Kyungsoo bites his lip, not understanding why Jongin is suddenly asking for them to eat lunch together when they do it all the time. Although he supposes the elder may have caught on that he’s been trying to avoid him, so he’s asking.

He doesn’t really want to ask and openly admit that he has been avoiding him. It’s not even that he’s mad at the elder, it’s just uncomfortable being aware of the elder’s feelings towards him now. He’s tried convincing himself that what Jongin told him was a lie, but apparently all the staring and blushing says otherwise. Jongin acts weird because he likes him, the stable boy told him the other day. It left him feeling uncomfortable, not knowing what to even do with that information. So he's chosen to ignore it. He didn't dare ask for the stable boy's advice, instead asking for carrots for Lily instead and hoping to never have that conversation with anyone.

He was raised to expect nothing from his marriage. It was arranged and arranged marriages didn’t involve feelings. He was supposed to be tolerated, nothing more than that. He’s still barely beginning to understand that people actually love him in a familial way. He barely understands what being something other than sad entails. He certainly doesn't hate Jongin, he hasn't given him a reason to in a very long time, but he doesn't know anything more than that.

The longer he can avoid hearing Jongin admit to anything again, the longer he can prolong dealing with whatever that confession will involve. If Jongin were to tell him again, he wouldn't know what to say. Not telling the elder what he said and trying to avoid him seemed like a good plan, but it appears Jongin has caught on he is just going to have to act like nothing is amiss.

“Okay,” he sighs out, bringing his knees up to his chest and going back to staring at the fire.

“I mean, you don’t have to eat lunch with me if you don’t want to,” Jongin adds on, so he sighs and looks over at the elder who is now moping while petting Pan.

“I wouldn’t have said okay if I didn’t want to,” he replies bluntly, shaking his head and then moving to stand up. “I’m going to go read in the library. You can bring me my lunch there,” he announces, ignoring Jongin’s bright smile in opt to escape the room.

“Okay!” Jongin chirps, followed by a bark from Pan as he walks out of the room.

Sighing he moves to go to the library, hopefully to be able to distract himself long enough with a book before lunch time comes around.

 

--

 

Unfortunately, Kyungsoo still has nightmares. They aren’t something he can predict, although he is more likely to have them when he isn’t feeling well. But even then, sometimes they come randomly and he’s left waking up in a cold sweat, heart racing as he tries to figure out where he is. It takes a while before his eyes can adjust to the darkness of the room and he can remember where he's at. He lives with the Kim's now. He shares the room with Jongin. He's married. He's not back there

It’s not real, he tells himself, trying to take deep breaths but it’s a bad one this time around and no amount of deep breaths and mantras in his head can stop his hands from shaking.

He manages to sit up, looking around the room and not knowing what time it is. Pan isn’t in the room tonight, so he can’t wake the dog up and play with him until he forgets what he dreamt of like he normally does. Shakily he gets out of bed, hesitating before walking over towards where Jongin is sleeping on the couch.

He doesn’t want to wake the elder up, but at this point he’s desperate. It’s either wake him up or go walking out in the dark to get Pan and he can only handle walking to the stables when it’s bright out. He’s too scared to do it at night when it's pitch black outside and the wolves nearby are howling.

Letting out a shaky breath he manages to reach out and shake the elder’s arm, shaking it harder when he doesn’t wake up the first time. Jongin eventually twitches awake, looking around in confusion until he spots him and then he’s sitting up.

“Am I snoring again? I swear I don’t mean to,” Jongin mumbles tiredly, rubbing at his eyes and stifling a yawn.

Kyungsoo shakes his head, although Jongin probably was snoring. The elder snores a lot but he’s learned to kind of tune it out at this point.

“I had a nightmare,” he confesses, realizing he is going to have to actually be blunt with elder since he’s obviously not fully awake. Jongin isn’t the brightest person when he’s lacking on sleep, he’s learned that much. “Can I sit with you?” he questions, letting out a sigh of relief when Jongin nods his head and doesn’t say anything else.

Immediately he moves to sit by the elder, bringing his feet up and resting his chin on the top of his knees. The couch is warmer than the bed is and he’s thankful, scooting closer to the elder and then taking deep breaths again, holding onto his legs tightly so his hands will calm down some. It’s quiet and he focuses on the elder’s breathing, trying to match it to distract himself. He shivers a little, so he tugs at the blanket, pulling it up and over his knees before going back to focusing on his breathing again.

“I used to have nightmares about Jini’s dolls when I was younger,” Jongin speaks up, ruining his focus and making him look over in confusion. “Your puppet also freaks me out, just so you know,” the elder adds on.

Kyungsoo looks over at the dresser where his marionette puppet is sitting and then back at the elder, having to bite his lip to stop himself from laughing. It doesn’t work and he ends up snorting, having to cover his mouth quickly when Jongin looks over at him.

“They’re creepy,” Jongin stresses, which only makes it funnier to him. “Dolls are creepy, okay, that’s a legitimate fear.”

“No, it’s not,” he snorts out, shaking his head and looking over at the puppet again. “It’s fake. It’s not even real,” he comments, turning to look at Jongin who is staring at him with a frown. “It’s made from wood,” he adds on.

“Well, I was seven, I thought they were coming to life at night,” Jongin mumbles, shrugging and crossing his arms over his chest before letting out a yawn.

“That doesn’t make any sense,” he replies, tugging on the blanket moving to rub at his eyes.

Jongin shrugs, “No, but it made you feel better didn’t it?”

Kyungsoo pauses, looking up at the elder and realizing he’s right. His hands aren’t shaking anymore and his lungs don’t feel tight either. He supposes it was a good distraction and he should be getting back to his own bed now.

“Thank you,” he mumbles, reaching out and hugging the elder before quickly pulling away and getting off the couch. “Sorry I woke you up,” he adds on before standing up, pausing when Jongin grabs his hand.

“It’s okay. You can wake me up if you have another nightmare,” Jongin comments sleepily, looking at him a little too intensely for his liking.

He immediately nods his head, pulling away from the elder and rushing back to the bed, getting underneath the covers and pulling them over his head.

 

--

 

Kyungsoo is a quiet person, that is well known within the Kim Castle. The first time Junyoung met Kyungsoo the boy was like a street cat, skittish, startled easily and was always trying to make himself smaller to be invisible in the room.

As someone who grew up with an abusive father, he saw a bit of himself in Kyungsoo. He never had it nearly as bad though, he wasn’t a royal but his family was higher up in class that at least they had an image to uphold. His father may have been a drunk but at least he was smart enough to never hit him too hard that it would show.

His mother is the main reason he never got to the level Kyungsoo was at when he first met him. She was everything his father wasn’t and on more than one occasion she tried to interfere with everything that was going on. But where he’s from a woman can only talk back so much before she gets hit too.

Junyoung likes to think his father is rolling around in his grave since he went on to marry not only someone higher up than him, but a woman who is going to be Queen to top it off.

The Kim’s are welcoming people and he could see the wariness and downright confusion of it all when Kyungsoo arrived. He felt the same way, only he was better able to deal with it. Kyungsoo however, usually dealt with the overwhelming family by hiding from them.

It took him by complete surprise that Joohyuk was the only one Kyungsoo felt comfortable enough around. The more he watched the two interact the fonder he grew of Kyungsoo. Although it was obvious Joohyuk would push some boundaries, being that he didn’t even know they were there, Kyungsoo never once told him not to. He just took it in stride while looking highly uncomfortable.

The first time he tried asking Kyungsoo a question the boy nearly looked ready to run out of the room, but he answered and that was that. Knowing that Kyungsoo was going to be someone that just wanted space he didn’t try and pry too much.

But as time went on Kyungsoo grew less skittish and started smiling, talking to Joohyuk in fuller sentences and interacting with him more. He was probably the first to see these little changes, he’s always been more of an observer than a doer himself.

Kyungsoo’s dislike for Jongin was obvious at the beginning. He felt bad for his brother-in-law, but hearing the story of why exactly Kyungsoo felt that way, he supposed that although he had a right to be angry, a lot of it was misplaced anger towards his own family.

He honestly doesn’t think Kyungsoo’s ever truly hated anyone other than his uncle, even though the boy didn’t realize it. He didn’t grow up learning how to deal with his own anger or frustrations and it seemed that moving away from the only place he had ever known to live with Jongin, was his breaking point.

He really felt bad every time Jongin would complain to him about something new that happened or Kyungsoo ignored him yet again. But he was able to start to see the small changes of Kyungsoo finally giving Jongin another chance and the other male practically beaming at the opportunity, whether they realized it themselves or not.

If Junyoung is being honest with himself he never expected Kyungsoo to last over a year with the Kim’s. He looked too far gone emotionally to ever be able to have a normal conversation with anyone. The first day the eighteen year old told him good morning he nearly fell over in shock.

He really didn’t think Jongin even had the capacity to be patient enough for Kyungsoo to want to come to him, but he was proven wrong again. Seeing Kyungsoo upset because Jongin was ignoring him, was something he never thought he would see.

All it took was that one moment and suddenly Kyungsoo seemed like a whole new person to him.

So, it shouldn’t be surprising to him when Kyungsoo comes up to him one morning and asks if he can talk. Kyungsoo talks to people now, it’s not something that’s rare anymore. But when he asks about his and Jinhee’s bed habits, he nearly chokes on his own saliva.

“I beg your pardon?” he questions, staring at the younger boy as if he’s grown another head. He tries to control his facial expressions though, because Kyungsoo looks embarrassed.

“You and Jinhee share a bed?” Kyungsoo clarifies, saving him from downright having a heart attack at where his mind was taking him.

Oh, yes, we share a bed,” he replies, sighing in relief and giving the younger boy a smile. “Why do you ask?”

Kyungsoo shrugs, his ears heating up and turning a bright red. The eighteen year old isn’t someone who is going to layout everything he’s thinking, since he grew up being told not to voice his thoughts or opinions. Majority of the time if you want to know what the boy is contemplating, you have to ask. It’s almost like talking to a child, only Kyungsoo is able to fully elaborate, he just won’t do it willingly.

“Do I have to do that with Jongin?” Kyungsoo questions, looking up at him with a serious frown.

Junyoung shrugs half-heartedly, not really understanding where the question is coming from but not wanting to send the boy away to have this conversation with someone else who may push Kyungsoo the wrong way. The boy is tricky to question times.

“Not if you don’t want to. If you’re not comfortable with that, then you don’t need to feel obligated to do it,” he replies slowly, choosing his words carefully.

Kyungsoo grew up isolated more than most. He honestly doubts the boy ever had the choice whether or not he wanted to sleep alone. His room was completely cut off from the rest of the Do’s and it makes his head hurt just thinking about a child being all alone up there with no one to comfort them during a nightmare or a scary thunderstorm.

“I’m comfortable,” Kyungsoo says after a while, looking conflicted with what he just said. “But he snores,” he adds on, nearly making him start to laugh.

“I can see why you’re having a dilemma,” he replies, smiling at the younger boy. “You could always ask him to sleep at the bottom of the bed if it’s too loud,” he suggests, causing Kyungsoo to perk up.

The younger male nods his head, seeming to like the idea but not getting up and leaving like he expected. He continues to sit on his chair quietly, his brows furrowed like he’s still thinking.

“Is there anything else bothering you?” he asks, not really expecting Kyungsoo to question him about anything else.

“Where can I find gardenias?” Kyungsoo blurts, confusing him and it must show on his face because the younger boy flushes and refuses to look at him when he explains he wants to give them to Jongin, for his birthday.

“I’m not sure, but I can look for you,” he replies, continuing to be surprised when Kyungsoo smiles at him and eagerly nods his head when he asks if he wants them right away.

After that Kyungsoo thanks him and quickly escapes the room, leaving him completely confused, but glad to have been of some sort of help. He’s going to have to write his cousin he supposes, confused, but willing to get Kyungsoo whatever he wants at this point.

 

--

 

Jongin yawns tiredly as he walks up the castle stairway, finally done talking to his father about trade agreements. With Jini being pregnant and Jinhee being occupied with Rahee, he’s having to take over a lot of things while they all adjust. He doesn’t mind it, but its tiring work and his eyes burn from reading over all the paperwork and his hand hurts from all the writing. He just wants to sleep, so he’s ready to crash on his couch once he gets to his and Kyungsoo’s room, only to find an empty spot where it used to be. The couch is gone from the room, nowhere to be found.

Confused he looks around, making sure he is actually in his room. When everything else seems to be in its correct place he frowns, walking further into the room and going towards the bathroom. When he tries to open the door it’s locked, meaning Kyungsoo is probably changing.

With an annoyed sigh he knocks, waiting impatiently for the younger boy to open up so he can ask what on earth happened to his couch. He’s tired, he just wants to change and go to sleep, not have to deal with missing furniture. When the door opens he takes a step back, surprised when Kyungsoo peeks out with a bandage on his nose that is a bruised a dark blue color.

“What happened?” he questions worriedly, seeing the younger boy at dinner and he didn’t have anything wrong. Of course he manages to injure himself between then and now. 

Kyungsoo opens the door to the bathroom and shrugs, his sleeping shirt falling off his shoulder making him realize that it’s his shirt Kyungsoo is wearing. Jongin can’t even begin to try and figure out anything anymore.

“Pan got excited and hit my nose. It started bleeding, physician Jun said it’s not broken,” Kyungsoo informs him, fixing his shirt but it still ends up looking lopsided when he puts his arms back down. “My shirt got dirty, so I changed into one of yours.”

Jongin nods his head, surprised at receiving an actual explanation from Kyungsoo for once. But it still leaves him with no bed. “Where’s the couch?” he questions, trying to ignore how big his shirt is on the younger boy, that's another problem entirely that he doesn't want begin to deal with.

Kyungsoo comes out of the restroom and then looks at where the couch used to be, biting on his lower lip before looking back at him. “Married people share a bed,” Kyungsoo tells him sternly, moving past him without another word, leaving him stunned.

Confused he pinches himself, making sure he’s not hallucinating or dreaming before shaking his head and walking towards the dresser. He needs to change and escape to the restroom to try and understand what’s going on. Once he's locked himself in the restroom he shakes his head, patting his face before moving to put on his night clothes. Sighing he runs his hands through his hair, staring at the bathroom door and trying to comprehend sharing a bed with his own husband. Married people share a bed, but they’re far from a normal married couple, he’s not sure why Kyungsoo is trying to change things now. He’s been sleeping on the couch for over a year. It’s not exactly more comfortable than his bed, but it’s been routine for him. Kyungsoo may not hate him anymore, but he can’t reason out why he is suddenly okay with sharing a bed.

Not wanting to stay in the bathroom too long he opens the door and looks around. Kyungsoo is already sitting in bed with one of his books, looking up when he closes the bathroom door.

Jongin stands there awkwardly, “Are you sure you want to share the bed? I don’t mind sleeping on the floor, it’s fine,” he comments, crossing his arms over his chest and clearing his throat.

Kyungsoo frowns in response, “If you don’t want to you don’t have to,” he replies plainly, leaving him to feel like he just insulted him somehow, knowing his husband, it's entirely possible.

“I don’t mind, I just want to make sure you don’t mind,” he clarifies, not really sure if he’s even telling the truth at this point. He’s never thought about sharing a bed with Kyungsoo, although waking up and the first thing he sees being his husband, does sound nice.

Kyungsoo shrugs in response, picking his book back up and not commenting further so he sighs, slowly walking over to the opposite side of the bed. He probably stares a little bit too long because Kyungsoo ends up looking over at him, his brows furrowed, so he takes a deep breath before pulling the covers back and quickly settling down.

He lies there awkwardly staring at the ceiling, afraid to move and disturb Kyungsoo who is still reading his book. But he feels fidgety, his hands twitching with the want to move.

“I thought you said I snore too loud?” he questions, turning on his side and propping himself up on his elbow.

Kyungsoo twitches a little, probably not expecting him to start a conversation. They usually don’t talk before bed, although he does make sure to say goodnight when they’re both awake at the same time.

“You do,” Kyungsoo mumbles, letting out a tiny huff before closing his book. “So, you should face the wall,” he adds on.

Jongin pouts, giving Kyungsoo a tiny glare, “Just for that I’m going to face you and let you hear my snoring all night.”

He smiles when Kyungsoo gives him a dirty look before he’s reaching for a pillow and planting it right in front of his face, separating them from each other. Not one to give up Jongin grabs onto it and props his head up so that he’s still able to see Kyungsoo who looks exasperated.

“You’re annoying,” his husband tells him, although it has no real heat behind it.

“Husbands can annoy each other sometimes,” is his response which makes the younger boy’s cheeks heat up before he’s flopping down and turning away from him.

“I’m going to sleep,” Kyungsoo mumbles, going silent after that.

Jongin smiles, telling him good night before moving to lie on his back. He stares at the ceiling for a while, trying to get used to the feel of someone else in his bed. It’s weird, since he’s never had to share a bed with anyone before. He’s used to having his own space and he briefly hopes he doesn’t move around too much and make Kyungsoo uncomfortable. Sighing he turns back around to face the younger boy, wondering if he’s still awake.

Not wanting to disturb him he turns back around and faces the wall, letting out a tiny huff before shutting his eyes and trying to focus on falling asleep. He was exhausted before but now he’s wide awake, resisting the urge to toss and turn.

He supposes there is a downside to sharing a bed, since he has to take into account Kyungsoo being on the other side. He hopes he doesn’t kick in his sleep, or that Kyungsoo doesn’t kick in his sleep. When he feels movement he peeks his eyes open and attempting to try and turn his head.

Sighing he turns around, noting that Kyungsoo is lying on his side, curled up and hugging onto one of the smaller throw pillows that used to be on his couch. His eyes are closed and he seems to be asleep. Jongin stares, feeling bad about the younger boy’s nose since it probably hurts him.

“Quit staring at me,” Kyungsoo speaks up, making him twitch. He blushes when Kyungsoo cracks an eye open, giving him a half glare before he turns back around.

“Sorry,” he replies, pouting while moving to lie on his back. “Good night,” he mumbles, closing his eyes, his long day finally catching up with him and he’s asleep within minutes.

 

--

 

With more and more responsibilities getting handed over to him, Jongin finds himself spending more time in his father’s private study room. It’s a quiet location on the second floor his father doesn’t really spend much time in anymore. It has a desk and two bookshelves and the chairs were reupholstered at some point because they’re actually comfortable.

Majority of his time is spent reading and replying to other kingdoms regarding trade. Everything still has to go through his father, so he can’t officially make any decisions on his own, but he still has to read and comprehend everything before explaining it to his father, which is a lot of work.

It’s been over a week of constant reading and he has to admit if this is what being King means he’s glad he was born dead last. It’s too much and he sighs as he opens up another roll of parchment, feeling his eyes drooping tiredly even though it’s not even noon yet.

Hearing a knock on the door he perks up, confused but glad for a distraction he gets up from his seat, walking over to the door and opening it up. He’s even more surprised to see Kyungsoo, a potted plant in his hands that he shoves towards him.

“This is for you,” Kyungsoo tells him, giving him an expectant look so he grabs the pot, confused but finding himself smiling anyways.

“Why are you giving me a plant?” he questions, sniffing one of the flowers and finding it pleasant enough. 

“It’s a birthday present,” Kyungsoo replies, fidgeting in his spot, “It’s a gardenia. You have to promise not to kill it,” he adds on seriously, which makes him flush, looking back down at the plant and not knowing the first thing about keeping it alive.

“You didn’t have to get me anything,” he mumbles, genuinely surprised since his birthday was almost three weeks ago.

He feels a little overwhelmed looking at the plant, not expecting Kyungsoo to give him anything ever if he’s being honest with himself. He doesn’t care too much about presents, especially knowing that the concept is still foreign enough to Kyungsoo that is must not have been easy to think of something to give him. But, Kyungsoo loves flowers, so he supposes the gift is appropriate.

“You didn’t have to get me anything, but you did, so I got you something too,” Kyungsoo replies diplomatically, shrugging before crossing his arms over his chest.

It’s an answer he would expect from Kyungsoo so he finds himself smiling, looking down at the plant and then moving to go set it down on his desk. He makes sure it faces the sun, knowing at least that much about plants. Turning back around he notices Kyungsoo has moved into the study and is currently looking through the book collection his father has set up. He really doesn’t even know what books are in here, but Kyungsoo must find one interesting enough because he picks it up and starts flipping through it.

“Thank you for the plant, it’s pretty,” he comments, not knowing if Kyungsoo would let him give him a hug right now or not so he settles with a smile directed at the younger boy.

“It’s a gardenia,” Kyungsoo stresses, “But you’re welcome,” he adds on, putting the book back and then standing awkwardly near the book shelf.

“Where did you get a gardenia from?” he questions, knowing they don’t have anything like it at the castle already. Although he barely visits the greenhouse he’s never seen these particular flowers before.

“Junyoung helped me find one,” Kyungsoo confesses, “He said his cousins in the south own a botanical garden and I could visit once it’s summer. I can go, right?”

“Of course,” he replies, wondering if Kyungsoo is ever going to stop asking him for permission to do things, but he has to admit he loves seeing the boy get excited when he gets told yes.

“I’m going to go visit Lily,” Kyungsoo announces, giving him a tiny wave before leaving the room.

Jongin smiles, going back to the desk and looking over the plant. It’s definitely going to be nice to look at while he’s supposed to be reading over all these documents.  It leaves him happier than he was before as he starts back up on his work, almost missing lunch but Junyoung comes to bug him and he finds he actually doesn’t mind when the elder hands him a book with a flower on the front.

“I know you’ll probably kill it, which will make Kyungsoo very upset, so I took the liberty of tracking down a book that will hopefully help you,” Junyoung comments, giving him an annoying smile that makes him roll his eyes.

“You even bookmarked the page for me, my hero,” he replies sarcastically, shaking his head and opening the book up and finding it all very informative, the book even has anatomy in it, which he doubts he’ll have any use for, but it’s interesting all the same.

“If my memory serves me right, Jini and I had gardenias at our wedding.”

“Good for you?” he comments, not really caring about the elder’s wedding, or really remembering it for that matter. It was a long time ago.  “What if I can’t keep it alive? Do you think Kyungsoo will hate me if I kill it?” he questions, already worried because it says the plant needs to have humidity but can’t be overwatered.

“Yes, he was very adamant about making sure it came completely unscathed. He was actually really bossy about it,” Junyoung mumbles, making him look up from the book with a frown.

“He’s allowed to be bossy,” he replies sternly, finding himself giving the elder a little glare.

“I wasn’t insulting your dearly beloved, I was just saying that he will be upset if you kill that plant,” Junyoung defends himself, rolling his eyes and giving him an annoyed look. “You should have seen him when it got here. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him smile that big.”

That has him perking up, looking at the plant and suddenly feeling nervous. If he does end up killing it, Kyungsoo will probably cry. He doesn’t want the younger boy to be the least bit upset, let alone upset enough to cry. He’s really going to have to put in effort to make sure it stays watered and is getting enough sunlight.

“This is a lot of pressure,” he says mostly to himself.

It’s a plant, but it’s a gift from Kyungsoo, someone who barely understands why he deserves presents. Not only that, but Kyungsoo is making the effort with a lot of things suddenly. They’ve been sharing a bed for over a week and he actually woke up with the younger boy curled up next to him this morning. Although, he got out of bed before Kyungsoo woke up so he wouldn’t get embarrassed. 

He has no idea what changed to make Kyungsoo suddenly trying new things in regard to their marriage, but he knows he can’t screw this up. He has to keep this plant alive or he’s going to be sleeping on his couch again, he just knows it.

“I guess I’ll leave you and your lovely new plant alone,” Junyoung announces, so he waves him off, opening the book back up and hoping to read enough to help him keep this plant alive, his lunch can wait.

Chapter Text

Kyungsoo sighs as he throws Pan’s favorite stick, watching as it goes through the front study and the dog chases after it with lightning speed. He’s bored, already read through all the books Jongin got him for his birthday, he already wrote replies to both Seungsoo and his father, Joohyuk is in lessons. There isn’t anything for him to do.

He smiles and pets Pan when he comes back with the stick, taking it from his mouth and then tossing it again and repeating the process three times before he gives up, setting the stick down and standing up. Pan whines but follows after him as he makes his way upstairs, walking towards the room he knows Jongin is in.

He knocks loudly before opening the door himself, peeking his head inside the room and seeing the elder looking up from his paperwork. Kyungsoo invites himself in the room, looking around and spotting the gardenia near the window, looking like it’s doing well. The flowers still look bright and the smaller buds are starting to bloom as well.

“I have nothing to do,” he announces, walking over to the gardenia and sniffing the flowers and smiling before turning around to look at Jongin who has a surprised look on his face. “I want more books,” he decides, already read through most of the ones in the library. At least all the ones worth reading in the library.

“I gave you ten new books,” Jongin replies, giving him a look like he’s crazy so he frowns, crossing his arms over his chest and shrugging.

“They weren’t very long. I finished them already,” he mumbles, shooing Pan out of the way when he starts trying to lift his paws on the desk Jongin is sitting at.

“You want more books,” Jongin reiterates, so he nods his head, fidgeting in his spot and looking at the elder hopefully.

“Please?” he adds on, still not used to asking for things but he at least remembers his manners. The servant boys say he can ask for whatever he wants, although he is pretty skeptical about it, Jongin looks like he’s actually thinking about it.

“There’s a bookstore in the village, but I can’t take you today, I have a lot I have to do,” Jongin announces, making him deflate.

He sighs, pursing his lips and not knowing if he can spend another couple of hours doing absolutely nothing. He doesn’t want to reread anything either, having already done that yesterday and the day before.

“Can I go by myself?” he questions, desperate for something to do, even if that means going alone. He thinks he may be able to manage picking out books. He likes books, he’s never picked out any for himself.

He flinches when there’s a knock on the door, turning around and spotting Junyoung popping into the room.

“Oh, if you two are busy I can come back later?” Junyoung questions, having to shoo Pan away when he tries jumping on him.

Kyungsoo shrugs, looking back at Jongin and waiting patiently for an answer. The elder seems to be thinking it over still, perking up and little. “Junyoung can take you,” his husband announces, making him blink back his surprise and look over at Junyoung who looks confused.

“I can?” Junyoung questions, frowning before giving into Pan and reaching down to scratch behind his ears.

“Kyungsoo wants new books, can you take him into town?” Jongin questions, so he looks over at Junyoung and continues to wait patiently.

Junyoung seems confused, but nods his head in approval, standing up once Pan seems content enough. “Of course. I don’t mind,” he comments, shrugging and then looking at him. “We can go now if you like.”

Kyungsoo eagerly nods his head, feeling happy he’s finally going to be able to pick out his own books. He’s never gotten to pick out things he wants, so he’s so excited he almost forgets to say goodbye to Jongin, having to turn around once he’s left the room and say his thanks before turning back around again and rushing to catch up with Junyoung.

“Can we bring Pan?” he questions the elder, not wanting to leave behind the dog if he can help it.

“If you really want to?” Junyoung replies, shrugging and calling over a servant to get a carriage ready to go into town.

Kyungsoo waits near the front steps, shivering slightly and petting Pan while he waits. He doesn’t like carriage rides, but the promise of new books has him less anxious. He stands up when the carriage gets pulled up to the front of the castle, calling Pan to follow after him and letting him get in first and following after.

Junyoung gets in after him and then tells the driver to start moving. Kyungsoo jerks a little once it takes off, letting Pan rest his head in his lap and trying not to shake his leg even though he wants to.

“The gardenia looked good,” Junyoung comments, surprising him.

He looks over at the elder and nods his head, surprised about the flowers progress. He was almost certain Jongin would kill it within a couple of days, but he was pleasantly surprised when he saw it today.

“It’s pretty,” he replies, shrugging and not knowing what else to say. “The flowers smell nice,” he adds on, peeking behind the curtain hiding the view of outside.

“He won’t get it, you know,” Junyoung says quietly before doing the same as him and taking a look outside.

Kyungsoo sighs, “I know,” he replies, biting on his lower lip and fidgeting with his wedding ring. “How many books can I get?” he questions, not wanting to discuss it any further.

“As many as you can fit in the buggy, I guess,” Junyoung replies, shrugging before resting his eyes.

Kyungsoo nods to himself, patting Pan on the side as a distraction. He’s only ever been into town once, when it was crowded for the festival but at least Jongin was there. It may not be as crowded today, but he’s still not used to a lot of people, especially the noise. Jongin isn’t going to be there either and it makes him slightly more nervous. But, hopefully the books will be a good distraction.

When the buggy stops he flinches, his hands tightening around Pan before he lets go, watching as Junyoung opens the door and exits, so he slowly gets up as well, grabbing hold of the hand the elder holds out for him to help him out. He still manages to stumble a little, looking around with wide eyes at how busy the center of the village is.

There are people everywhere and a small crowd is even peering at them curiously, which makes him immediately look away and inch closer to Junyoung, almost wanting to get back in the carriage and go back home, but the elder starts pushing him forward.

“There’s a bookstore near the bakery. If you want we can get some pastries for the ride back when you’re done picking out books,” Junyoung speaks up over the crowd, one hand on his back helping him move forward.

It’s a little uncomfortable, since it’s not Jongin, but he knows the elder is just trying to be helpful. He takes in a deep breath and holds it, looking around curiously and trying not to get overwhelmed before releasing a long breath.

“Do they have the chocolate filled ones?” he questions, frowning when Pan starts chasing after a couple of chickens roaming around. One of the younger guard’s rushes after him, and he momentarily feels bad, wondering if he should have left him at home.

“I’m sure they do, but I’ll have a guard check while you look for some new books,” Junyoung replies, patting him on the back when they reach the bookstore.

Kyungsoo can smell the bread baking from the bakery next door and it has his mouth watering, almost making him want to go there first, but he doesn’t want his hands to get sticky before looking for books.

One of the guards opens up the door to the bookstore and then holds it open, so he hesitantly goes forward, shivering at the gust of wind that blows and messes up his hair. He sighs when he realizes there’s a fire going somewhere in the store, since it’s warm. He smiles at the smell, always liking the scent that old pages leave behind.

“I’m going to see if they have books for Joohyuk, will you be okay to look on your own?” Junyoung questions.

Kyungsoo nods his head, figuring that there aren’t too many people in the bookstore and there are guards if people try to bother him. He takes a deep breath before he starts to hesitantly look around, eyes racking over the shelves and taking everything in.

Not knowing how to really go about picking anything out he grabs the first book he can reach and starts to look it over, reading the first pages and deciding it’s interesting enough he holds onto it. He goes through every book in the first shelf and picks out the ones he likes, handing them to the guard accompanying him and then moving towards the next one.

He doesn’t know how long it’s been when Junyoung comes to find him, but he knows he’s got enough books for three guards and he feels bad enough that he’s holding onto two himself.

“I see you found a couple you want,” Junyoung comments, staring at him and then the guards with a surprised look on his face.

Kyungsoo nods, deciding that he likes picking out his own books, appreciating being able to read through parts of it to see if it will actually interest him instead of going through only what’s available to him.

“I only went through this shelf,” he replies, wanting to look through the whole store if the elder will let him. “I can get them all, right?” he questions, biting his lip and looking at the elder hopefully.

Junyoung looks at him and then back at the guards, and eventually nods his head, “I’m not sure if you can get more though. There isn’t that much room in the buggy,” Junyoung trails off, shaking his head and giving him an apologetic smile. “I’m sure Jongin will be more than happy to bring you back and get you more.”

Kyungsoo slowly starts to frown, still wanting to look at the rest of the shelves they have. He’s not even sure if Jongin will bring him back, his husband being too busy these days. The only times he ever sees him is in the morning and sometimes during meals. By the time Jongin comes to bed, he doesn’t seem him because he’s already asleep.

“Can I come back by myself?” he questions, knowing if Jongin is the one that has to bring him, it won’t be for a while. He’ll probably finish all the books he’s already picked out by the time the elder finds time for him. When Junyoung gives him a look he sighs, “Jongin is busy, with more important things, he doesn’t have time. Otherwise he wouldn’t have told you to take me,” he states plainly, letting out another sigh and looking at the other shelves with frown.

“I’m sure he’ll make time to take you. I’ll tell him,” Junyoung replies cheerfully, making him want to roll his eyes, but he knows that’s rude, and the elder brought him even though he didn’t have to, so he just nods his head mutely.

With another sigh, he walks over towards the front of the store, knowing that he has to pay for the books. Junyoung said that he would take care of it, but he still wants to tell the owner thank you, so he does and then waits outside, holding onto the books he picked out last and watching as the three guards carrying the rest head back to the buggy. He opts out of getting anything from the bakery, appetite gone.

“For someone who just picked out that many books, you don’t look very excited,” Junyoung comments once they’re back in the buggy and heading back to the castle.

Kyungsoo spares him a glace before looking back at the books in his lap, messing with the covering. “I’m not a slow reader,” he replies carefully, biting his lip before letting out a huff. “If I finish them all I won’t have anything else to do,” he explains, resisting the urge to bite his nails and feeling irritated with himself for even wanting to.

“I’m sure Jongin will find time to take you before you finish them,” Junyoung says skeptically.

He can’t resist the urge to roll his eyes this time, shaking his head and biting the inside of his cheek to stop himself from saying something mean to the elder. He’s annoyed and wants to be alone, but they’re stuck in the buggy for a while until they reach the castle.

“I’ll talk to him. I’ll make sure he takes you,” Junyoung promises so he nods his head, trying not to let it sour his mood and deciding he can start reading one book today. He’ll just have to read it slower than usual, since he doubts Junyoung will actually manage to get Jongin to take him anytime soon.

 

--

 

Jongin has just left his father’s room when he spots Junyoung, the elder greeting him with a frown and beckoning him over. It leaves him confused since his brother-in-law is generally a happy person, although he can be serious, he sees him happier more than anything.

“Did the book shopping not go well?” he questions seriously, hoping things didn’t go too horribly. Who knows how Kyungsoo took picking out his own things. His husband hasn’t really had that much freedom with simple things like that, so he’s not sure how well it all went over.

“It went fine. I told him he could get as many books as he could fit in the buggy. He took me literally and got thirty something, that’s not the problem though,” Junyoung informs him.

Jongin gapes, staring at the elder like he’s insane and honestly having trouble believing him. But Kyungsoo does love to read, or at least likes books enough to read, it doesn’t sound too unbelievable the more he thinks about it.

“When are you going to make time to take Kyungsoo yourself?” the elder questions him bluntly, catching him off guard.

Jongin shrugs, knowing he has a lot to do within a day now. He usually has at least ten or so trade agreements to read over a day, then he has to spend at least a couple of hours talking them all over with this father. By the time he finishes writing a response and making sure it’s legible it’s already time for him to be heading to bed.

“I don’t know. If he bought over thirty, does it really matter?” he questions, frowning and wondering how long it’ll take Kyungsoo to get through that many books. He doesn’t really do much else during the day, from what he can tell at least.

“He thinks you won’t make time to take him,” Junyoung states plainly, running his hands through his hair making him frown. “He said you’re too busy and you won’t take him. So, you are going to figure it out and take him next week, understand?”

He frowns, staring at the elder in confusion but nodding his head regardless. “He really said that?” he questions, feeling guilty because he has been spending more time doing other things, but it’s not like he and Kyungsoo spent a lot of time together beforehand.

Although, before he at least showed up to lunch and dinner to eat with Kyungsoo and the rest of his family. He honestly can’t remember the last time he ate with his husband, and it makes him feel bad.

“He asked if he could just go alone,” Junyoung shares, shaking his head and letting out a sigh. “He has nothing to do here, so I don’t blame him if he wants to buy everything in the bookstore.”

Jongin nods, feeling even more guilty when he thinks about how Kyungsoo really doesn’t have anything to do all day other than read. He’s not even sure if Kyungsoo really likes it, or if it’s what he does just so he isn’t bored.

“I’ll talk to him,” he replies with a sigh, rubbing his forehead and not even knowing what he can do for the younger boy.

He can’t go outside because he’ll get sick if he’s out there for too long, which narrows down the list of things he can do spending him time doing. He’ll have to actually make it to bed on time today to even be able to discuss it.

“Good. I know you’re busy, but making time for your spouse is part of being married,” Junyoung comments before giving a pat on the back and saying he has to go check in on Jini and Joohyuk now that he’s home.

Jongin sighs, going back to his study to finish up all the work for the day. By the time he gets to retire for the night, he’s read countless letters and proposals regarding trade that he thinks his eyes are going to fall out of his head. He doesn’t understand how anyone can read all day and find it enjoyable, he would rather be doing something that requires him to move around and not stay in a chair all day.

He didn’t even have time to eat dinner with everyone else, a maid had to bring him his own plate because he forgot he’s supposed to eat. Once he reaches his and Kyungsoo’s room he just wants to sleep and never read another roll of parchment ever again.

When he opens the door he pauses, his eyes nearly bugging out of his head when he spots four stacks of books that reach the dresser near the bed. He almost thought thirty books was an exaggeration by Junyoung, but it appears it wasn’t.

“Did you buy the entire store?” he questions, walking into the room and surveying the pile, not even comprehending how Kyungsoo managed to pick out so many books.

“No. I bought thirty-two,” Kyungsoo replies, giving him a weird look before looking back at the book in his lap. “You father said we have to go to a wedding next week, do I have to go if I don’t want to?” Kyungsoo questions him before he can even make it to the restroom to change into his sleep clothes for the night.

Jongin frowns, not recalling any news of any upcoming weddings but he supposes his father might have gotten the letter after he saw him last and just hasn’t had a chance to tell him yet.

“If he says we do then yes,” he replies, watching as Kyungsoo starts frowning but nods his head. With that answered he goes and changes before coming back out of the restroom and heading towards the bed.

Pan is already asleep at the foot of the bed making him mentally groan, not liking when the dog sleeps on the bed because his feet end up getting squished but he doesn’t know how to tell Kyungsoo that without hurting his feelings. So, he sucks it up and lies down, pulling the covers up and lying on his side.

“Don’t you ever get tired of reading?” he questions, not knowing if it’s even something Kyungsoo enjoys doing.

“Only if the book is boring,” Kyungsoo replies quietly, turning a page and continuing to read one that must be one of his newer books, because he doesn’t recognize the binding.

“How long do you think it will take you to read all those new books?” he questions, not expecting him to even get through all the ones he got him for his birthday this soon. He supposes he should have paid a bit more attention to the younger boy’s reading habits, since looking back he doesn’t ever recall him with the same book more than twice.

“If you keep interrupting me, a long time,” Kyungsoo replies plainly making him frown, not appreciating the attitude.

Irritated he sits up, reaching over and grabbing the book from the younger boy and immediately getting glared at for it.

“I’m trying to talk to you, so you can stop reading for two minutes,” he huffs out, setting the book out of reach, not that Kyungsoo has long arms to begin with. “How long do you think it will take you to read all your new books?” he reiterates, sparing the stack a glance and shaking his head. He’s going to have to give the guards that loaded all those books a raise.

Kyungsoo lets out an annoyed sigh but shrugs, thinking it over and making a face that has him smiling stupidly before he realizes what he’s doing and looking away with blush.

“Three weeks,” Kyungsoo finally replies firmly, giving him a rather serious look. “If you keep interrupting me, then three and a half weeks,” he adds on with a shrug, giving him a pointed look.

Jongin rolls his eyes, “If I ignore you, you get upset. If I pay attention to you, you get annoyed. Honestly, I don’t understand you one bit,” he sighs out, shaking his head before lying back down with a huff.

“You took my book while I was reading, of course I’m annoyed,” Kyungsoo grumbles, crossing his arms over his chest. “I don’t steal your things to get your attention,” he adds on, giving him a little glare before turning away.

Jongin almost laughs, “I didn’t steal your book. I took it because you’re supposed to look at me when I talk to you,” he replies, rubbing his eyes and stifling a yawn.

Kyungsoo doesn’t look the least bit convinced, turning to give him a stern look, “You took it without permission. That’s stealing,” his husband emphasizes.

Jongin does laugh that time, shaking his head at the absurdness of it all. Kyungsoo is arguing with him over a book. He supposes he should count his blessings, because he’s seen people argue over more serious things.

“We’re married. What’s mine is yours, so I didn’t steal it,” he replies easily, but moving to hand the book back to his husband before he actually gets mad about it. “Besides, it was my money that bought it for you. I haven’t heard a thank you, by the way,” he adds on cheekily, giving the younger boy a smile that is bound to make Kyungsoo throw something at him.

“Thank you,” Kyungsoo replies quietly, opening his book back up with a frown.

It’s not the reaction he was expecting from the younger boy, so he frowns as well, sighing and running his hands through his hair. Not knowing how he’s going to manage to find the time to actually take Kyungsoo into the village himself.

But Junyoung has a point, as much as he doesn’t like saying it to himself, he’s right. He supposes he is going to have to start eating lunch and dinner at regular times again. Maybe even ask his father if he can do work that doesn’t involve so much reading, because unlike his husband, he hates it.

“I’ll take you to buy more books in two weeks,” he speaks up, deciding he’ll just have to figure something out between now and then. “You can buy as many books as you want then,” he adds on, looking up and over at Kyungsoo who for once is looking at him.

“Really?” Kyungsoo questions, looking genuinely surprised that he even offered.

Jongin nods his head and then holds out his hand, pinky finger sticking out, “Pinky promise,” he replies, offering the younger male a smile but just getting stared at. He clears his throat awkwardly, waiting and when it becomes a little too long for a response he sighs, “You know what a pinky promise is, right?” he questions seriously, recalling Joohyuk tell his husband about it some time ago and wondering if he forgot.

“You really promise to take me?” Kyungsoo pesters, his brows furrowing seriously making him laugh.

Promise,” he replies, shaking his hand with his pinky still out and waiting.

Kyungsoo stares at him for a bit longer before he nods his head and links his pinky finger with his, giving another nod before removing his hand and then surprising him by giving him a tight hug and saying thank you.

“You’re welcome,” he replies, his voice cracking embarrassingly, because Kyungsoo pulls away and laughs at him before going back to his book with a smile on his face.

Jongin flushes, quickly lying back down and turning around to hide his blush, not that Kyungsoo would notice since he seems to have gone back to reading his book. With a sigh, he tugs on the blanket a little, looking down and seeing Pan awake and staring at him with his head down.

“You know, we can get him his own bed so he doesn’t have to sleep on ours,” he says carefully, taking a peek at Kyungsoo and seeing that he’s still focused on his book.

“If you tell him to get down he will,” Kyungsoo replies easily, flipping a page and then putting a string bookmark in the middle and closing the book. He sets it down on the little nightstand near the side of his bed and then moves to lie down.

Jongin sighs, sitting up a little and looking down at the dog who is currently awake and staring at them both. He looks down at Kyungsoo who already has his eyes closed and lets out another sigh.

“Pan…get down,” he says tentatively, surprised when the dog actually does what he says with a little whine and hops off the bed, going towards the pile of old blankets Kyungsoo uses when he reads on the floor and lying down.

“He only sleeps up here because you let him,” Kyungsoo mumbles, so he looks back down at his husband with a frown.

“So, this entire time, I could have just told him to get down?” he questions, staring at his husband incredulously.

Kyungsoo peeks his eyes open and gives him a look, “Yes. He only gets on the bed because you never tell him to get down,” he shares, shrugging before letting out a yawn.

Jongin sighs, shaking his head and gently shoving his husband. “That would have been useful to know before I had to suffer from my feet going numb because he’s sleeping on them,” he says, watching as Kyungsoo starts biting his lip to stop from smiling.

“You never asked,” Kyungsoo replies tiredly, hugging onto one of his pillows and letting out another yawn.

Jongin watches him and feels himself smiling again, not being able to help himself because it’s taken over a year but Kyungsoo finally looks happy. His smiles aren’t rare anymore and his laughter gets louder each time he hears him. It makes his stomach tingle and he can’t help but feel his lips twitching into a grin.

“You used to ignore me when I asked you things,” he says quietly, knowing they’ve come a long way since then. Kyungsoo used to avoid him like he was a diseased animal, but now he actively seeks out his company when he wants it and when he doesn’t actually asks to be alone.

Kyungsoo’s nose twitches a little and he frowns, his brows furrowing as his eyes open up again. He lets out a tiny sigh before hugging onto his pillow tighter. “Sorry,” he mumbles, “For being mean to you.”

Jongin blinks stupidly, not knowing what to say he just stares at the younger boy. He wants to tell him that he loves him, right in that moment when Kyungsoo looks up at him with an expectant look on his face. He’s so in love with him but he’s a coward and instead he clears his throat instead and lies back down.

“It’s okay, I deserved it,” he mumbles, fiddling with the blankets and opting to stare at the canopy of their bed instead of his husband because his heart is beating too fast to be normal.

“No, you didn’t,” Kyungsoo says quietly before he goes silent, turning around so he spares him a glance, watching as his shoulders move up and down slowly until he can tell the younger boy has fallen asleep.

 

--

 

When Jongin finally gets a chance to talk to his father he learns there is a wedding coming up that they will need to attend. It’s not even a royal wedding, rather some important relatives of the Oh’s that rank high enough that they’re still expected to attend, but not high enough that they all have to go. Jini and Jinhee won’t be going, but Jongin has no real excuse other than he doesn’t care and doesn’t want to go, so of course his father says he expects them ready by the end of the week.

Kyungsoo makes his displeasure about having to travel known, frowning and crossing his arms every time he mentions packing or traveling. His husband doesn’t like riding in the buggy, if he’s learned anything from the few times he’s had to go anywhere. He especially doesn’t like crowds or Prince Sehun for that matter.

But Seungsoo is apparently going, so he stops his moping and instead starts begrudgingly packing. He’s very particular about it all and Jongin mostly watches him without butting in, because the one time he tries moving something Kyungsoo immediately smacks his hand and tells him that’s not how it’s supposed to be packed, so he lets him do as he pleases.

The night before he ends up coming back to the room and Kyungsoo has one piece of luggage sitting neatly by the door. His husband is sitting on the bed with five books laying out in front of him with a grim look on his face.

Jongin frowns, clearing his throat he watches as Kyungsoo looks up at him with a little twitch before looking back down at his book with a loud sigh.

“I don’t know which ones to bring,” Kyungsoo informs him, looking awfully serious over it.

Sighing he walks over towards the bed, looking down and not really seeing what the dilemma is. They’re each a different color but they’re all books when it comes down to it.

“Why not just bring them all?” he questions, rubbing his eyes and knowing he should probably hurry and change so he can go to bed. They’re leaving just after sunrise since it’s a somewhat long trip.

“I don’t have enough room,” Kyungsoo replies, shrugging and going back to his staring.

Jongin shakes his head, grabbing his clothes and moving to go change. He doesn’t want to even attend the wedding but he doesn’t have much of a choice. At least it will give him a break from his work regarding trading for the summer months. He’ll be able to just sit and not worry and more importantly, he won’t have to read over anything for the next two or three days.

When he comes out of the restroom Kyungsoo seems to have picked out two books, setting them on top of his luggage and is reading one of the five on the bed. Pan is on the bed as well an Jongin doesn’t have the energy to dismiss the dog, knowing they can’t bring him for the trip, which Kyungsoo isn’t happy about either.

“So, you really like to read?” he questions, knowing it may irritate Kyungsoo a little that he’s asking while he’s reading.

But Kyungsoo just nods his head, putting his book down and messing with the binding a little. “I read books when I was sad, back home, so I read all the time,” Kyungsoo confesses.

Jongin wasn’t expecting an answer more than a simple yes, so he’s surprised, also a bit worried because Kyungsoo still reads all the time. Honestly if his husband isn’t entertaining Joohyuk or playing with Pan, he’s reading.

“But you still read all the time,” he comments hesitantly, not knowing why it makes him so upset.

“I read them here because I want to,” Kyungsoo replies, biting on his lower lip before giving him a tiny glance. “I’m not sad, I’m happy,” he clarifies, making it a whole lot easier for him to breathe properly.

“You’re happy?” he questions, feeling his lips twitch up at the corners when Kyungsoo nods his head.

“I’m happy, I like reading books,” Kyungsoo replies with a firm nod, closing the one he has in his lap and showing it off to him. “There’s a mean Prince in this one. A witch turns him into a mouse, it’s good,” he comments before putting it back in his lap and reopening it.

Jongin smiles, “If you want you can put the other books in my luggage,” he comments, rubbing his eyes and moving to adjust his pillow. “I have enough room.”

“I can?” Kyungsoo questions, so he nods his head, letting out a little hum and resting his eyes.

He cracks an eye open when he feels Kyungsoo get off the bed, watching as he goes and puts two books inside his luggage that’s near the door and returning to their bed with a content little smile on his face.

“Thank you,” his husband mumbles, getting back on the bed and burrowing underneath the covers.

“You’re welcome,” he replies, staying still as he feels Kyungsoo settle down for the night. He goes rigid when he feels the younger male scoot a little too close to him, feeling a bit warmer at the suddenly body heat.

He waits a while before peeking his eyes open, feelings his face heat up to his ears when he realizes Kyungsoo is nearly under his chin.

“Um, I can move if you want me to?” he questions, wondering if his husband is so tired he doesn’t realize how close he is. Kyungsoo never curls up next to him consciously, from what he can tell at least.

“I want you to be quiet so I can sleep,” Kyungsoo mumbles quietly, sounding half awake at this point. He thinks to move over anyways, but quickly realizes the younger male is using his arm as a pillow. With a tiny sigh, he tries to get comfortable, hoping his arm survives the night.

 

--

 

Kyungsoo doesn’t like being woken up earlier than the sunrise, and he most certainly doesn’t like having to wake up at such an early hour just to get in a cramped buggy and make the half a day journey to some high-ranking nobles estate. It’s not a castle, but it’s big enough that the royalty that was invited will be given rooms for the night.

The wedding is to take place the following day, but a feast is prepared for that night. He supposes people in different kingdoms do things differently. They’re not the first people to arrive, but it appears they’re the first royal’s other than the Oh’s, so it’s announced and Kyungsoo tries very hard to hide behind Jongin while they’re being stared at.

“You’re cutting off the circulation to my fingers,” Jongin whispers harshly, making him immediately drop his hand and move away awkwardly. His husband woke up in a bad mood and he doesn’t want to make it worse.

“Sorry,” he mumbles, looking around and wondering when Seungsoo will arrive. He has a lot to tell the elder about the new book he’s reading.

Looking around he notices the lack of flair you would see in a castle, although he’s only been to a couple, Kyungsoo can still differentiate between a place meant for royalty and a home for nobles. The estate is only two floors, with a ballroom that looks smaller than what he’s used to seeing. Even the décor isn’t as grand as what he’s used to seeing, but it seems cozier than a castle would.

He likes some of the statues they have and wants to go investigate the fountain towards the center of the room when he spots Prince Sehun, making him automatically turn away and want to grab back onto Jongin’s arm, hoping to avoid gaining the other Prince’s attention.

He tries to pay attention to the conversation King Kim and King Oh are having but he’s unable to keep up, already missing too much to make sense of anything at this point. Jongin is also talking to the eldest Oh Prince, leaving him and Princess Soyeon to stand awkwardly to the side.

He actually remembers meeting Princess Soyeon, because she’s one of the only women he’s met that chooses to keep her hair just touching her shoulders, unlike most princesses who wear theirs traditionally long. Her dress is a dark violet color that makes him wonder what sort of berries or plants they used to dye it.

Princess Soyeon seems to notice someone, a disapproving frown on her face that makes him glance behind him and automatically flinch when he sees Prince Sehun finally walk over with the rest of his family.

“You’re late,” Soyeon scolds quietly so apparently only Sehun is supposed to hear it, but since he’s right in front of her, he hears it too and he flushes, looking away awkwardly.

Kyungsoo looks up at Jongin, noting that his husband is too preoccupied by Prince Donghun’s story about a trip he took recently to realize Prince Sehun has arrived. It has him frowning, hesitantly crossing his arms over his chest and trying to make himself look as small as possible.

“Where is your fiancée?” Soyeon questions Sehun, turning towards him so that way her husband doesn’t hear her scolding him, he supposes. It makes him feel even more uncomfortable when Prince Sehun turns away with a roll of his eyes and spots him.

“Hopefully flirting her way into another engagement if I’m lucky,” Sehun replies bluntly, making Princess Soyeon’s face heat up irritably. “You gained weight,” the elder says to him, making his cheeks heat up embarrassingly.

“Don’t be rude!” Soyeon whispers harshly, even going as far as to hit Sehun on the arm for the comment.

Kyungsoo awkwardly watches the exchange, not being able to look away from Prince Sehun, who has grown taller, if at all possible since the last time he saw him. He twitches when Princess Jinri finally walks up to them, giving her fiancé a glare and an irritated frown.

“You left without telling me,” she comments not so quietly, which Sehun ignores, not even bothering to look at her.

“You’re still short though,” Sehun adds on to his previous comment, which has Princess Jinri look over at him with a glare.

Kyungsoo moves to grab onto Jongin’s arm, but remembers his earlier annoyance by it and opts to just stand there, biting his lip and not knowing what to say, looking between Prince Sehun and his fiancée.

“Would you like to trade?” Princess Jinri questions him, making him flush and immediately shake his head, moving closer to Jongin and accidentally bumping into him in the process.

“No thank you,” he replies politely, trying to hide behind Jongin as best as he can.

He listens briefly as Jongin says hello to Prince Sehun plainly, not paying too much attention when finally notices Seungsoo arriving, his lips twitching in relief. He doesn’t want to be rude and interrupt Jongin’s conversation, so he quietly leaves his husbands side, sneaking off as slowly as possible before rushing over towards his brother and beaming when the elder notices him.

“Why are you alone?” Seungsoo questions before opening his arms for a hug that Kyungsoo hurriedly returns, smiling contently. His brother looks a whole lot happier since the last time he saw him and he’s glad, worried about how things are going back in the Kingdom.

“Jongin is with the Oh’s,” he replies, continuing to cling to his brother happily and frowning when Seungsoo makes to go over towards them too.

Jongin must just now be noticing his absence because he’s looking around with a frown when they make it back towards the elder. When his husband spots him his shoulders relax and the concerned look gets wiped off his face.

“You had me worried,” Jongin mumbles once he’s within hearing range.

Kyungsoo shrugs, dropping Seungsoo’s hand and moving to go stand next to Jongin instead when Seungsoo moves to greet the King and Queens along with the Oh siblings. He watches curiously as Seungsoo gives Sehun a pat on the back and awkwardly bows to his fiancée before making his back over to them when the Oh’s move to mingle with other guests.

“Is it Hyunjoo or Hyojin getting married, I didn’t read my invitation all the way through,” Seungsoo questions quietly, brows furrowed as he looks around the estate.

“Hyunjoo, she’s their first cousin,” Jongin replies, which is news to him, seeing as how he never bothered asking who exactly was getting married.

Kyungsoo tunes the two out, wondering how Pan is faring without him. He’s still upset he couldn’t bring him along for the trip, but it’s for the best. He wouldn’t behave well enough to attend a wedding in another place. He hopes the stable boys are treating him well and giving him treats at least.

“What wing are you two staying in?” Seungsoo questions, making him look up and at Jongin expectantly, not knowing himself.

“The west wing I think, what about you? Was your wife not coming?” Jongin questions. Kyungsoo honestly didn’t even notice her absence.

“No, she stayed behind with the baby. I’m in the East wing, I haven’t checked the room yet, I suppose I should,” Seungsoo comments, a little frown on his lips that has his brows furrowing.

“I’m reading a new book,” he tells the elder, “Jongin bought me more books. Can I show you?” he questions, not wanting Seungsoo to leave and go to his room just yet. “Please?” he adds, smiling when Seungsoo sighs but nods his head.

“I guess I should find a maid,” Jongin comments plainly, letting out a tiny sigh before walking off in search of someone to show them to their rooms.

When he comes back it’s with a servant boy in tow, someone around his age, or maybe younger who quietly leads them from the ballroom and towards the West Wing. Kyungsoo takes his time looking over the hallways, thinking they’re rather plain and not nearly as sophisticated looking as the few castles he’s been to.

Once they reach their room the servant opens the door before bowing and making his leave. Kyungsoo walks in first, smiling when he spots his luggage and rushing over to it and neatly opening it up. He picks the book he’s currently reading and looks at Seungsoo expectantly, frowning when he realizes he’s looking at the bed.

“Hyung?” he questions, looking at his brother with a frown.

“You two are sharing a room?” Seungsoo questions with a twitch of his lips, leaving him confused.

Kyungsoo nods his head, not understanding why his brother is asking a question with an obvious answer. He already knows Jongin and him share a room at their home.

“There’s only one bed,” Seungsoo clarifies, which makes Jongin drop the box of candies that apparently were resting on the dresser in the corner of the room. Kyungsoo gives him an odd look, wondering why he’s being so clumsy before looking back at his brother.

“Jongin and I share a bed at home,” he dismisses, getting impatient and just wanting to show Seungsoo his new books already.

He sighs watching Seungsoo look towards Jongin with a glare on his face. He doesn’t understand why he always has to be so picky and mean with Jongin. He supposes he’s not going to get to show the elder his books right away.

“Do you mind if I talk to Jongin privately?” Seungsoo questions, so he looks towards his husband and frowns seeing him with a blush on his face. His brother looks irritated and it only makes him start to grow annoyed.

“But I want to show you my books,” he replies sternly, deflating and rolling his eyes when Seungsoo insists it won’t take long. “Fine, I don’t care,” he huffs, figuring he might as well read while the two argue with one another.

He doesn’t pay them any attention when Seungsoo grabs Jongin by the arm and pulls him out of the room. He sulks as he opens the book back up, going to go sit in the bed and make the most of his time.

 

--

 

Jongin knows the minute Kyungsoo told his brother they share a bed he was going to get an earful from the elder. He almost regrets letting him even come into their room, but there was no way of getting out of Kyungsoo wanting to show his brother his books. He also knows now he’ll have to deal with a moody husband since he really wanted to show him his new books.

“How long have you been sleeping with my brother?” Seungsoo questions a little bit too calmly, when he looks about ten seconds away from hitting him. Jongin almost wishes Seungsoo would try just so he could hit him back.

He returns the glare the elder is giving him, “I’m not sleeping with him. We share a bed, not like it’s any of your business,” he huffs out, fed up with the elder and his overprotectiveness that does nothing but undermine him.

“He’s my brother, of course it’s my business,” Seungsoo snaps, letting out an irritated huff and crossing his arms over his chest.

Jongin takes a deep breath, knowing Seungsoo is only acting like he thinks he should, even if he’s wrong. He’s a step above being overprotective and he gets it, really, he does, if the roles were reversed he would be too. But it’s also completely uncalled for at this point.

“Kyungsoo basically forced me to share a bed with him. He got rid of my couch, it wasn’t the other way around,” he replies as calmly as he can, watching the elder for any signs he’s going to hit him for any reason, just in case.

But that seems to calm Seungsoo down because he just stares at him, brows furrowed like he doesn’t understand and honestly, he’s still trying to understand why Kyungsoo suddenly wants to share a bed with him.

“He got rid of the couch, and you just went along with it,” Seungsoo replies seriously, blinking a couple of times but otherwise staring him down and making his cheeks heat up in embarrassment.

“Of course, I give him whatever he wants,” he replies quietly, not having the gall to look the elder in the eyes anymore, he turns his head. “He still has nightmares, so it probably makes him feel better,” he adds on, shrugging and messing with his ring.

“You’re in love with my brother,” Seungsoo states, not even bothering to make it sound like a question.

Jongin opens his mouth, and then closes it, feeling caught with no escape. He wants to turn right back around and ignore the elder, but he can’t.

“Yes,” he replies, knowing even if he wanted to deny it, he can’t at this point.

Every time he looks at Kyungsoo he feels his pulse pick up. Kyungsoo is finally happy, he smiles and he laughs and Jongin would be an idiot not to fall in love with someone who’s smile is that bright. He never even thought Kyungsoo would ever smile willingly, or at him for that matter, and now that he does Jongin feels like his world has been completely turned upside down.

“You look awfully sad for someone who’s admitting to being in love,” Seungsoo speaks up, making him look back at him.

Jongin feels his throat starting to close up, but he lets out a tiny laugh anyways, forcing himself to smile.

“He’s never going to feel the same,” he states plainly, shrugging and crossing his arms over his chest.  

Seungsoo doesn’t say anything for a while but eventually he speaks up again. “You’re stupid. Why don’t you just tell him?” he questions, nearly making him scoff, but he takes a deep breath instead.

Jongin wants to tell Kyungsoo. Every time he looks at his husband he wants to tell him he loves him, that his smile is beautiful, how he looks cute when he’s concentrated on a task and his nose scrunches up. He’s the most stubborn person he’s ever met, but he loves him still, even though it’s exhausting trying to be patient with him, when Kyungsoo finally lets himself be happy, Jongin looks at him and he’s in love. Simple as that.

But Kyungsoo is not simple. He’s about as complicated as they come and it’s not his fault. He grew up in the worst environment, where he couldn’t even breathe properly. Jongin’s watched as Kyungsoo slowly started to get better, but it’s not like he’s normal now that he’s been away from his abusive uncle for over a year.

There are days where he notices Kyungsoo has to try a little bit harder to keep a smile on his face. There are nights where he hears his husband whimpering from the nightmares. Kyungsoo’s trying his hardest to continue being happy and to know what that even feels like, so he can’t tell him.

If he told Kyungsoo he loved him, he knows he won’t be able to say it back to him and nothing scares him more than that. He can love Kyungsoo without the younger boy knowing. He can show him he loves him without Kyungsoo realizing it. That doesn’t bother him.

But the fact that if he says it out loud and let’s Kyungsoo know how he feels, it’ll be too much too soon and he’s terrified of Kyungsoo’s reaction. If he says he loves him, he wants to hear it back. It’s selfish of him, he knows that, but he doesn’t just love Kyungsoo like he loves his family or he loves Seungsoo.

He’s in love with him. He wants to make the younger boy happy, to see him smile and be there when he has nightmares to make him feel better. Every time he does something and Kyungsoo smiles at him, it’s different. He feels different, like he can’t breathe but he doesn’t really care, because Kyungsoo is happy and that’s all that matters.

Once he says it out loud and Kyungsoo doesn’t say it back, he’s not sure if he can keep pretending that he’s okay being in love with someone who doesn’t love him back.

He just wants things to stay the same. Kyungsoo is happy and he’s getting better. He won’t do anything to make that change.

“He’s happy, at least, he’s trying to be. He doesn’t need me screwing that up,” he replies sternly, refusing to look at the other Prince.

“You don’t think he would want to hear that from you?” Seungsoo questions hotly, so he spares him a glance.

“Has he ever heard it from you?” he fires back, not wanting to talk about it anymore because he’s going to have to go back and sit next to Kyungsoo soon and pretend like everything is perfectly fine.

When Seungsoo flinches, he knows the argument is just about over and he’s glad.

“Not like you would ever know how it feels, but it literally hurts wanting to be able to tell him but knowing he’s not used to hearing it, so if I did tell him I love him, he won’t believe me. He won’t say it back and the thought of that hurts, so please, just let it go,” he finishes off, walking away from the elder and turning around, his hand reaching for the door to their room shakily, his nerves all over the place from the conversation.

When Kyungsoo looks up he doesn’t smile at him, looking towards the door expectantly for his brother, his lips turning downwards a little when Seungsoo does walk in but only to tell him that he’ll have to show him the books after dinner.

Jongin ignores him, moving to go pick up the candy box and sweets that fell onto the floor. Luckily, they’re wrapped so he grabs them all and then goes to sit on the bed, unwrapping the tarts and shoving them in his mouth to distract him from his own thoughts.

“You’re both stupid,” Kyungsoo announces, closing his book with a frown and getting up from his spot and walking towards the door.

Jongin watches him dumbly, flinching when Kyungsoo exits and the door closes a bit louder than necessary. With a groan he gets up, walking over to the door and opening it up, looking into the hallway and sighing when Kyungsoo is nowhere to be seen. Not in the mood he walks back towards the bed, taking off his shoes and deciding to sleep away his problems until dinner.

 

--

 

Kyungsoo sits silently at the dining table, looking at his roasted duck with a frown, his stomach begging him to eat but he can’t focus on keeping anything down while being at a table with Jongin, his brother, and Prince Sehun. Princess Jinri is also at their table, eating her food silently but making small talk with Sehun’s cousin female cousin, the one getting married. Her fiancé is at the table as well, talking to Seungsoo and on occasion Sehun and Jongin.

Kyungsoo remains silent, poking at his food to make it look like he’s attempting to eat but never bringing his food up to his lips. If anyone notices they don’t say anything, although he doubts Jongin is paying too much attention because he would normally be telling him to eat by now.

He sighs as he sets his fork down, hoping they at least serve cake tomorrow, so he has something to look forward to. He hopes it’s chocolate cake, because that one’s his favorite. He doesn’t have anything else to look forward to apparently.

“The flowers are nice,” he hears Princess Jinri comment, looking at the center piece and so he does as well, realizing there are peonies in it. “I want orange blossoms for my wedding,” she adds on, frowning slightly and he blushes when she notices him staring.

“I actually wanted carnations, but they only had yellow,” Hyunjoo shares, shaking her head and moving to open her mouth when Sehun opens his instead.

“What’s wrong with yellow?” he questions plainly, looking only half curious as he stares at his cousin, ignoring his fiancée completely.

“They mean rejection,” Hyunjoo shares politely, giving her cousin a smile. “Not to mention disappointment. They’re no good for wedding flowers.”

Kyungsoo silently agrees, peonies are a much better choice for a wedding. Not wanting to look like he isn’t eating he picks his fork back up and moves to poke at his food when Jongin decides to speak up.

“Flowers have meaning?” his husband questions, getting two incredulous looks from the women at the table that makes Jongin’s cheeks heat up.

Kyungsoo goes rigid in his chair, looking at his plate and trying to remain passive. He wants to sink into the floor at the question, because of course Jongin wouldn’t know. Or even bother to know.

“How are you married and didn’t know that?” Seungsoo questions him, shaking his head and letting out a snort. “Of course, they have meanings, why else would picking them out be such a big deal? The don’t call it the language of flowers for nothing,” his brother comments, earning a laugh from a couple of people at the table.  

He continues to stare at his plate, hoping his husband doesn’t continue asking questions. He doesn’t think he can stomach it at the moment. He’s already miserable enough without Jongin added to injury. He just wants to make it through this stupid feast and the stupid wedding so he can go back home and ignore his stupid oblivious husband for the rest of his miserable life.

“What’s the book you wanted to show me about?” Seungsoo questions him, making him twitch in surprise, not expecting the elder to even care at this point. He probably doesn’t care, he thinks, irritated he’s even bringing it up now.

“Why does it matter?” he snaps without meaning to, attracting unwanted attention from mostly everyone at the table. He feels his cheeks heat up at the stares, making him automatically shrink in on himself and put his head down. “Excuse me I don’t feel well,” he mumbles, pushing his plate away and getting out of his chair.

He quickly exits the dining area, wanting to get to his room as quick as possible to avoid his brother scolding him like he knows he will. He’s not in the mood to deal with his brother, or Jongin, or anyone for that matter. He just wants to be left alone, but of course someone follows him and it ends up being Seungsoo.

The elder calls after him but he chooses to continue walking, even if he knows it’s useless because his brother is faster than he is and will catch up eventually. When he does he manages to shove the hand off his arm before backing away and glaring up at him. He doesn’t want the elder touching him at the moment.

“Why are you mad at me?” Seungsoo questions, making him even more annoyed than he was before.

He is mad he realizes, so mad that he wants to hit his brother or yell at him. But instead he ends up crying, which only makes him even more upset with himself. He’s upset because he just wanted to show the elder his books but instead had to hear him argue with Jongin about him, yet again.

And he had to hear yet again how Jongin loves him, without the elder actually telling it to him and meaning to. What’s even worse is that apparently Jongin doesn’t plan on telling him, ever, even after he tried to hug the elder more or share the bed, or even give him the stupid flower. Jongin still doesn’t think it’s worth saying to him. In the end, no one thinks it’s worth saying to him, he’s not normal enough for people to say it to him.

If he were normal then Jongin would tell him. But he’s not, no matter how hard he tries to keep a smile on his face or be happy, he still has nightmares. He still gets scared if someone’s too loud or if he stares at himself too long in the mirror he starts to see all the little flaws.

It’s useless he supposes, the thought completely drying his eyes. He’s never going to be like his brother or like the Kim’s. He’s always going to be the way he is. Even when he manages to be happy, it’s not like everyone else’s version of the feeling.

“Can I just go to bed?” he questions tiredly, not wanting to talk or deal with it anymore. He just wants to lie in bed until he can go back home and then lie in bed there too. He’s tired of dealing with his own emotions on top of other peoples. It was easier when no one cared about him and he was left alone.

“Okay,” Seungsoo replies quietly, so he turns and leaves, heading back to the room by memory so he doesn’t have to talk to a maid or ask a servant boy for directions.

He finds the room all by himself and only takes off his shoes and doesn’t bother changing into anything. The bed isn’t as soft as the one back home and the sheets smell like they haven’t been used in a while. It’s not as warm and the pillows are too flat, only further dampening his mood.

He wishes he never came to this stupid wedding, things were fine before. He was happy, waiting patiently for Jongin to tell him himself how he felt, without being drunk, and actually meaning it. He was scared at first, didn’t want to hear him say it, because he didn’t know what he felt. He didn’t want to deal with it because he didn’t know how.

But that doesn’t mean he didn’t think about it, and the thought made his cheeks flush and his stomach feel queasy like when Seungsoo would give him candies when he was younger or when his mom would read to him. He’d find himself smiling, having to hide his face in embarrassment when he’d think about the elder telling him.

Now his chest hurts and he feels stupid for hoping for something he wouldn’t get. He feels his eyes sting and he stifles back a sob, hating himself for listening by the door earlier when he would have been better off reading his book. He didn’t think it was possible to feel so miserable again.

He quiets down when he hears the door knob twist, taking in a shuddering breath and blinking away his tears, not wanting Jongin to worry about him and stay in the room longer than he needs to. He’s fine, he can pretend he’s fine and that his stomach hurts and pretend like he never heard a thing.

“Seungsoo said you were upset,” Jongin comments quietly, walking over and sitting on the edge of the bed. Kyungsoo doesn’t bother turning to face him, staring intently at the wall and hoping the elder will take the hint.

“I’m fine,” he mumbles, so used to repeating the phrase it sounds normal enough. “You can go finish your dinner,” he adds on, waiting impatiently for the elder to hurry up and leave.

“I’ll leave if you tell me why you’re upset,” Jongin replies eventually, making him tense up and move to bite on his lower lip, knowing it’s only a trick so that he’ll admit he’s upset in the first place.

Tired he moves to sit up, turning to face his husband who is looking at him with a concerned frown, brows pinched together. He doesn’t know what to say to the elder, because he can’t tell him why he’s upset, even if he wanted to, he doesn’t know how to make all the right words come out. Every time he tries explaining himself he finds he doesn’t know how.

“Why does it matter?” he questions seriously, waiting for Jongin to reply but the elder only looks confused.

“I don’t like when you’re upset,” Jongin mumbles, shrugging and awkwardly looking away from him. “But you don’t exactly make it easy to figure out why. I’m tired of guessing so please just tell me,” his husband sighs out, running a hand over his face.

Kyungsoo stares at him in silence, at a loss of what to reply with anymore. His mind is a mess and Jongin has only made it worse. He was content to be angry with him for the rest of the trip but now his chest hurts thinking of doing just that. He doesn’t want Jongin to be miserable or unhappy because of him.

“You're the first person who even bothered to care if I was upset,” he starts off quietly, staring at the pattern of the comforter on the bed. “I don't know how to just tell you how I feel. But it's not fair that you're punishing me for it,” he chokes out, angrily wiping his eyes when he starts to cry all over again.

“I'm not punishing you, Kyungsoo why would you even think that?” Jongin questions, moving to try and comfort him but he shoves his hands away, not being able to control his crying and feeling angry at himself for it.

“Yes, you are,” he hiccups out, shoulders shaking from trying to fight back how he wants to just curl in on himself and cry right now. “You don’t think I’m good enough to say it to,” he finally gets out in between his sobbing, not having the nerve to look up at his husband.

“What? Kyungsoo what are you talking about?” Jongin questions, trying to pry his hands away from his face but Kyungsoo doesn’t budge, curling in on himself even more to try and avoid the elder. He can’t even get himself to form words at this point, his crying being uncontrollable by the time Jongin realizes he overheard him and Seungsoo.

“Oh god, no no no, Kyungsoo don’t think that,” Jongin rushes out, pulling him into his lap so he just lets him, not even bother to put up a fight anymore because the only person that can ever calm him down is Jongin.

“That’s not what I meant, please don’t think you aren’t good enough. You’re perfect and I love you so much, please don’t cry,” Jongin admits, and it only makes him cry harder, the weight in his chest dissipates but he can’t stop crying.

“You do?” he hiccups out, looking up only briefly, still not being able to control his crying and his shoulders are shaking when Jongin tries wiping away his tears that won’t quit.

“I love you so much,” Jongin confirms, moving his hair out of his face and still attempting to dry his face with his sleeves. “I’m sorry, I should have told you sooner, I was just scared but you deserved to hear it first, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you first. I love you, so much, I don’t care if you can’t say it back, you don’t have to say it back, I’ll love you regardless, please don’t cry.”

Kyungsoo tries to calm down, taking deep breaths and resting his head on the elder’s shoulder. Jongin smells like their bed back home and he’s warm, and it’s always comforting when the elder runs his hands through his hair, reminding him of when his mother would try and calm him down before bed when he was little.

“What if I can’t ever say it back?” he questions, terrified that maybe Jongin will take it back, he’ll get tired of waiting. Kyungsoo wants to say it, so badly, but just the thought of forcing the words out of his mouth has him wanting to bite his nails. He doesn’t think he can do it, at least not right now, not today.

“I’ll love you either way,” Jongin replies, pulling him into a hug that makes him sigh, feeling like he’s finally able to just breathe and let himself be held by the elder. He’s warm and Kyungsoo feels loved, and for the first time in his life, he doesn’t worry it won’t last.

“So, if I ask what gardenias mean, will you tell me?” Jongin questions, making him smile and duck his head underneath the elders chin.

He sighs, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath, finally feeling like he can just breathe for the first time in his life. He feels happy, genuinely happy. It doesn’t feel temporary, it feels right, perfect.

“Maybe later,” he replies, hugging onto the elder and resting, content to stay like this for the rest of the night. 

 

--

 

The wedding is nice and the ceremony goes without any fuss. Jongin tolerates the long ceremony, occasionally stealing glances at his husband and watching as he observes with a bored face and gives him a tiny glare when he finds him watching.

The food is good and the tables are decorated nicely, Jongin has to admit he wishes he paid more attention at his own wedding because he honestly can’t recall what kind of flowers they had or what food they had either. He knows he didn’t eat the cake, but Kyungsoo had enough for both of them. Looking back, he just remembers how mad Kyungsoo was at him and how he never thought his marriage would really last, let alone be a happy one.

“So, what do peonies mean?” he questions his husband once it’s just them two at the table and Kyungsoo is enjoying a ridiculously large piece of chocolate cake. Jongin already had a slice and it was pretty good, good enough that he’s going to have to bribe to chef who made it to come back with them so he can make it for Kyungsoo whenever he pleases.

“A happy marriage,” Kyungsoo replies, licking the frosting off his fork before going for another bite.

“And what are these weird little white ones?” he questions, pulling a stem out from the center piece and sniffing it. It smells nice he supposes, he thinks he might have recalled seeing them during their wedding.

“Baby’s breath,” Kyungsoo informs him patiently, taking the stem form him and putting it back in the vase of water. “It means everlasting love,” he adds on, saving him from having to ask.

Jongin’s lips twitch and he laughs at little at how difficult it apparently must have been to pick out the flowers for their wedding when neither of them cared. Or perhaps Kyungsoo did care, or wanted to care, he just didn’t know how back then.

“What about gardenias?” he questions hopefully, getting a chunk of cake thrown at his face from a smiling Kyungsoo. “Hey!”

“I’m not telling you,” Kyungsoo informs him, looking like he regrets wasting the cake so Jongin flags down a maid to tell them to bring another slice to their table. It has Kyungsoo practically beaming when they come back with another plate, one that looks like it has extra chocolate frosting.

Now will you tell me?” he asks, groaning when Kyungsoo just gives him a plain look before biting into his new slice of cake.

When Seungsoo walks up to their table Jongin looks up, noting that the elder looks like Pan when he gets scolded and has his tail tucked between his legs. He spares Kyungsoo a glance and sighs when he notices his husband is trying to ignore him.

“I’ll let you two talk,” he comments, reaching over and giving Kyungsoo a kiss at the top of his head before he can object and giving Seungsoo a challenging look before taking off and finding his mother who is talking to Queen Oh.

“Sorry to interrupt,” he comments, bowing and smiling towards the two of them. “But I had a question, about gardenias?” 

“Such a pretty flower,” Queen Oh comments, a small smile blossoming on her face. “I believe your brother-in-law’s family grows them in their botanical gardens.”

Jongin watches as his mother nods her head knowingly, “What exactly do they mean?” he questions, knowing Kyungsoo won’t tell him and he doesn’t have access to a library to go find out anytime soon.

“It means someone must be in love with you,” his mother comments with a knowing smile, making his cheeks heat up and his heart quite possibly ready to pop out of his chest.

“I beg your pardon?” he squeaks out, getting laughed at by both women.

“Secret love,” Queen Oh replies, giving him a pat on the shoulder before excusing herself.

Jongin looks over at their table and sees Kyungsoo sharing his cake with his brother, a content little smile on his face. He finds himself smiling too, thinking back to his gardenia and how Kyungsoo must have known what it meant and then gave it to him. This entire time the answer to all his worries was right in front of his face. He’s going to have to have a talk with Junyoung about it when he gets back home.

“Thank you,” he tells his mother before going back to their table and taking a seat next to Kyungsoo.

His husband takes his fork back from Seungsoo and then moves to eat another bite. Jongin feels a little uncomfortable when he makes eye contact with the elder, waiting for him to start with him about something he did or didn’t do right.

“He won’t be mean to you anymore,” Kyungsoo tells him with a mouthful of cake, looking pointedly at his brother who looks slightly irritated with it. “He’s going to be nice, right hyung?” Kyungsoo questions.

Seungsoo sighs, looking over at him with an exhausted smile on his face. “I’m going to be nice, since apparently you two are in love, or something,” the elder adds on, which makes Kyungsoo dramatically choke on his cake.

“You can go now,” Kyungsoo states sternly once he’s managed to compose himself an Jongin tries his hardest not to laugh.

“Fine, I’ll see you later before you leave,” Seungsoo replies, making a face at Kyungsoo but getting up and waving them off.

Once he’s out of hearing range Kyungsoo turns to him and frown. “You can still be mean to him,” the younger male grumbles, eating his cake with a frown on his lips.

Jongin can’t help but laugh.

 

--

 

Junyoung is enjoying his time alone in the library, finally able to escape all the noise that comes with raising a little boy and dealing with a pregnant wife who complains about nearly everything. The library is quiet and he understands why Kyungsoo spends so much time in it. Pan is with him, because he felt bad for the poor dog having to go days without his owner and figured the library would be familiar enough to calm him down.

He's reading through a book Kyungsoo recommended when he hears the library doors open. Confused he looks up, not expecting everyone back from the wedding so soon, but watching as Jongin walks over to him with a frown on his face. Pan seems to realize that if Jongin is back, so is Kyungsoo because he starts barking with his tail wagging before rushing out of the library.

“Welcome back?” he questions when Jongin takes a seat across from him in silence. He waits patiently for the younger male to say something, unable to read his face and it starts to worry him something completely horrible happened and now he’s going to have to help the boy even more. As if traveling back home for a plant to finally finish this awkward dance the two have wasn’t enough.

“Why didn’t you tell me gardenias meant secret love?” his brother-in-law questions, giving him a blank expression that has him wanting to laugh, relief flooding his thoughts.

“I did,” he replies, wanting to roll his eyes and just laugh at the confused look Jongin is sporting. “That book I gave you. I bookmarked the page, Jongin,” he comments with a snort, shaking his head.

“Oh…” Jongin mumbles, blinking a couple of times. “I suppose I should have read the whole thing.”

Junyoung nods in agreement, studying the younger males face and waiting for him to say something else. He supposes he won’t be hearing Jongin complain to him anymore, at least, he hopes he won’t have to deal with him complaining anymore.

“So, how is our lovely Kyungsoo?” he questions, wanting to snort when Jongin’s cheeks start turning bright red and he starts glaring.

My lovely Kyungsoo is fine. He’s happy to be home,” Jongin shares, shrugging and picking at imaginary lint on his sleeves. “Thank you,” he adds on, pursing his lips.

“What for?” he questions naïvely, setting his book down and staring at the younger male with a smile he hopes irritates him.

“For putting up with me,” Jongin grumbles, his nose scrunching up like it pains him to let to words leave his mouth. “I told him… so you won’t hear me complain anymore. Well, complain about that at least,” he adds on.

Junyoung smiles further, wanting to let out a content sigh but refraining from doing so. He supposes he shouldn’t tease him about it, at least for now. He’ll definitely have fun bringing it up later, but for now he can let Jongin think it’s over and done with. He’ll let the boy have his moment.

“I’m glad,” he comments, picking his book back up and moving to open it back up when he hears someone heading over their direction again. He’s not the least bit surprised when Kyungsoo walks into the room and immediately heads over to Jongin.

“Welcome back,” he tells the younger boy, getting a quiet thank you as a reply, Kyungsoo more focused on trying to pull Jongin out of his chair.

“I can’t reach the puzzle Joohyuk wants,” Kyungsoo mumbles when Jongin gives him a questioning look.

“It appears I’m needed elsewhere,” Jongin tells him, giving him an apologetic look before letting Kyungsoo all but drag him out of the room with a smile on his face.

When they’re finally gone he laughs, shaking his head and opening his book back up. “Finally,” he mutters to himself.

 

--

 

It’s finally warm, at least warm enough that Kyungsoo can venture outside and not have to worry about catching a cold. The sun is bright and shining high in the sky by noon, and Kyungsoo is enjoying his lunch at his new pond. It has koi fish and lilies and the occasional lotus. The flowers smell pretty, they look pretty, and he brought enough fish food that the smallest fish should finally get enough to eat today.

He also has bread and cheese and some grapes for himself and two books to read through since the weather is good. He munches on his bread as he watches Pan bark at the koi, tail wagging as he moves back and forth around the pond. He hasn’t attempted to actually jump in the water and Kyungsoo is thankful.

“Boo!” someone whispers near his ear, making him twitch and let out a tiny yelp, dropping his book on the ground and nearly making him choke on his food.

He glowers when his husband has the nerve to try and hug him while letting out a laugh. Kyungsoo pushes him away, throwing his bread at the elder’s face and moving to pick his book back up and watching as Pan snatches his bread up and happily eats it.

“Ow, that hurt,” Jongin mumbles, wiping some crumbs off his cheek.

Kyungsoo ignores him, picking up a cheese cube and popping it in his mouth and opening his book up. He flips open to a page and pointedly turns away from the elder, making his displeasure known.

“Don’t be like that, I got you a gift!” Jongin comments happily, moving around to sit in front of him.

Kyungsoo doesn’t look up initially, biting his lip and not planning on giving in to easily. But it’s a gift, for him, so eventually his curiosity gets the best of him and he slowly looks up at his husband. Jongin has a book, a big shiny gold book, the same book he wanted last time the elder took him into town but he didn’t have enough room for it.

“Am I forgiven?” Jongin questions, moving to hand him the book with a smile on his face. Kyungsoo sighs, reaching over and grabbing it and trying but failing to keep his lips from turning upwards.

“It’s for me?” he asks, setting his current book down and staring at the gold binding of the other one. It’s a new collection of different fairytales he’s never read before and he wanted it so badly, but he promised Jongin he would only get ten books last time, and he didn’t have the heart to put any other back.

“Of course, I know you really wanted it last time,” Jongin replies, stealing one of his cheese cubes and a grape.

Kyungsoo takes the book and looks it over, excited to read over it but he needs to finish his current book first. “Thank you, Jongin,” he tells the elder, reaching over and pulling the elder into a hug, tolerating it when his husband manages to kiss him on the cheek.

“I didn’t say you could do that,” he mumbles, lightly pushing him away and grabbing another cube of cheese and chunk of bread, going back to his snack. He’s already finished his grapes, and he’s almost done with his cheese and bread, so he’ll probably go back inside for some more soon.

“Sorry,” Jongin apologizes, looking sheepish so he throws another piece of bread at him, looking away from the elder and chewing on his food with a smile.

“I told you not to kiss me without my permission,” he announces, grabbing his plates and moving to get up, ignoring the smile Jongin has on his face.

“Well don’t kiss me without my permission either!” Jongin replies, getting up and following after him.  

It makes him snort, shaking his head as he goes back into the castle through the greenhouse, smiling at the flowers starting to bloom. He looks over at the daffodils and pauses, his brows furrowing as he recalls one of the things the fortune teller told him.

“You know I was joking right, you can kiss me any time you like, I have no objections,” Jongin comments, catching up to him and moving so that he’s standing in front of him. It doesn’t leave him with much room to look at anything but his husband.

He almost laughs, biting his lip instead as he stares at the elder. He hasn’t told him yet, because Jongin says it’s okay if he doesn’t right away. It’s only been four months since Jongin told him he loved him, he’s been practicing when he has the time alone, wanting to make sure he says it perfectly when the time does come. He definitely hasn’t kissed him yet, still learning that kisses are okay, they don’t have to move into something uncomfortable. Jongin makes sure he knows that. He won’t admit it, but doesn’t mind the kisses, even without his permission.

He looks over at the daffodils and sighs, because the fortune teller told him he'd kiss his true love when the daffodils bloom again. He’s not so sure silly things like true love even exist then. He didn’t believe her, because he was convinced things like that didn’t happen to him. He’s sure they can now, he realizes he can be happy and still be sad sometimes, and that things in story books can come true. He’s eighteen when he realizes he loves Jongin, because he’s the person that helped him be happy, truly and completely happy. When he’s with the elder he feels safe and he almost forgets why he was sad in the first place. But when he remembers, Jongin’s there to comfort him.

It’s still new and still a little scary, he isn’t ready just yet to say I love you, but he thinks he might be able to manage a kiss, since the fortune teller was right before. He never kissed Jongin during their wedding too, so he the elder deserves at least one kiss. He awkwardly looks at the elder, setting his plate down on the floor and then standing back up. His brows furrow when he realizes he may have to stand on his tip toes, so he tries it, setting his hands on Jongin’s shoulders to steady himself when he feels off balanced.

“What are you doing?” Jongin questions, an amused smile on his face that makes him blush, almost losing his nerve so he just does it, leans forward and gives him a quick peck, nothing more, nothing less before moving away from him and ducking his head because his cheeks are awfully hot. When he doesn’t hear anything he looks up, studying his husbands face for any sign that he didn’t do it right, but Jongin is just staring at him.

“You kissed me?” Jongin questions, like he doesn’t believe it, bringing his hand up to his lips and starting to smile.

Kyungsoo shrugs, picking his plate back up and trying to remain calm even though every fiber in his being is making him want to turn around and walk back to his pond. “You said any time I want,” he replies.

“I think I may need a warning next time,” Jongin whispers, patting his face before moving to grab his plate from for him. “If there’s a next time?” he questions hesitantly, giving him a worried glance.

Kyungsoo shrugs, biting his lip and thinking. The fortune teller never said he would only kiss him once, so he nods, fighting down the blush and sparing a glance at Jongin. He barely has time to breathe before the elder is pulling him into a hug and squishing him. He smiles when Jongin pulls away, looking him over. "Can I kiss you back now?" Jongin questions, making him flush and avoid eye contact, biting his lip as he thinks it over. 

“You love me, right?” he questions, feeling nervous all of a sudden. He knows the elder does, he just wants to hear him say it again.

“I love you,” Jongin confirms, smiling at him and moving his growing bangs off of his forehead. He loves him and Jongin loves him back, so he's happy.

Kyungsoo sighs, nodding his head and offering the elder a smile, “As you wish.”