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To Say That

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Jeong Do-In

To say that Jeong Do-In was in a state of shock was a massive understatement. He was seriously considering taking his daughter, Jeong Tae-Eul, to the hospital and insisting that she be seen by a psychiatrist. What else was he supposed to do when his daughter insisted that her mysterious boyfriend, who only showed up to their house occasionally, was from a parallel universe? A parallel universe that his daughter claimed to have visited multiple times over the past two years - there was also a bit about visiting other time periods but he hadn’t quite processed that bit yet.

He knew his daughter was in love with Lee Gon, she practically glowed with happiness and lived for the weekend when she saw him, disappearing on weekend trips with him. There was always a big smile on her face on Mondays, by Wednesday it changed into a longing look and by the time Friday rolled around she was excited for the weekend. He often wondered why they didn’t meet up during the week or call each other but his questions were just met with a sigh. Do-In liked Gon, he felt like he knew the man from the moment he saw him outside his door, holding his daughter's hand. As time went on it became clear to him that the man was clearly in love with his daughter and made her happy, the fact that he was very good looking and well-educated was an added bonus. Do-In always thought that Gon had a rather regal air about him but to claim that he was the King of Corea in an alternate universe was farfetched.

But his daughter was insistent claiming that she hadn’t believed him at first either. On a late Friday night he walked into a bamboo forest flanked by his daughter and her boyfriend. He first thought they were pulling his leg but then gasped in shock when two glowing obelisks appeared. He felt like his heart was going to explode and his mouth was going to get stuck in a permanent gasp as he followed his daughter and her boyfriend through a long beach until they exited in another bamboo forest where guards clad in black suits greeted them, referring to Gon as Pyeha (your majesty). He had promptly fainted when a guard that looked exactly like Jo Eun-Sup greeted them. As he lost consciousness he heard Gon exclaim, “Yeong-ah, I told you to stay back.”

When he woke up he was in a lavish room, laying on a large four poster bed with silk sheets over which hung an exquisite crystal chandelier. A look out the window clearly told him he was no longer in Seoul. His daughter was sitting on the couch by the bed with an older lady in a traditional hanbok who welcomed him to the kingdom exclaiming that she herself had been shocked when she was brought over from the Republic years ago.

The next few days of Do-In’s life were...eye-opening. As it turned out his daughter wasn’t going crazy and lying to him. He definitely wasn’t in the Republic of Corea, the Kingdom of Corea actually existed and Gon was the King. He lived in a lavish palace in Busan that Tae-Eul seemed to know well enough to sneak around undetected, he knew the palace didn’t exist in their world. Despite that, he found that the Kingdom was very similar to the Republic with a couple of differences – the fact that North and South Korea didn’t exist the biggest of them.

As soon as he internalized all that another bomb was dropped of him, everyone in the Kingdom had a doppelgänger in the Republic. Jo-Yeong was Eun-Sup’s, and his girlfriend, Myeong Seung-Ah, happened to look just like Na-Ri, he even had the same parents and his twin siblings looked like Eun-Bi and Kka-Bi did. His own counterpart didn’t exist having died in a car accident years ago but his daughter had one. Apparently she was being watched very carefully and would be looped in soon and sworn to secrecy. An elaborate back story was being created to explain the resemblance between the two women – twins separated at birth, it worked out well because his daughter’s doppleganger was an orphan in the Kingdom.

Do-In was an intelligent man and quickly realized what was happening after learning about all the work that was going in to creating a presence for Tae-Eul in the Kingdom. So he wasn’t surprised when Gon approached him and asked for permission to marry his daughter before sheepishly admitting that he had asked multiple times before and was always met with a not today until recently where Tae-Eul responded with how are we going to manage that. Do-In even expected the offer to live in the kingdom, along with the assurance that if he chose to go back to the Republic Tae-Eul would visit him periodically.

Tae-Eul spoke with him next telling him that she wanted him to know the truth, she couldn’t just disappear. She would still visit their world to see friends but leaving Gon at the end of the weekend was getting harder and harder. He knew his daughter loved Gon as much as he loved her, he made her happy and that was the reason he told her that he supported her decision.

Never in a million years would he have imagined that his own daughter would be the future Queen of Corea in an alternate universe. But a week later there was a large rock on her finger and the Kingdom was in an uproar while the father-daughter duo returned to the Republic of Korea to get the ball rolling on relocating to a parallel universe.

Lady Noh (Noh Ok-Nam)

To say that Lady Noh was ecstatic was an understatement. After sneaking around with Jeong Tae-Eul for over a year, Pyeha had finally asked her to bring him the ancestral engagement ring that had been passed down in the royal family for ages.

Although she had first been hesitant regarding Tae-Eul she quickly realized that the man she had raised was in love with her. It wasn’t a passing infatuation, she knew that he would kill for her and die for her – she also guessed that there was more to them than met the eye. The love Pyeha had for Tae-Eul was reflected back in her eyes, just as intense, just as permanent. She made Pyeha happy, and then it didn’t matter that she was from the universe Lady Noh had herself left behind.

After that point she had started pestering them to get married so they wouldn’t have to sneak around when Tae-Eul did visit the palace. Lady Noh didn’t want to deal with the heart palpitations she had whenever someone almost caught the two of them together. Pyeha would exclaim that he proposed to her many times but Tae-Eul always refused at which point Tae-Eul would get an angry look on her face and whack him in the arm – an action that made everyone’s eyes go wide. But Pyeha would just smile at her lovingly and find more ways to annoy her.

Lady Noh’s own conversations with Tae-Eul revealed that she was afraid to leave her world behind. But almost two years later it seemed she was ready and had brought her father with her to the Kingdom. After which Tae-Eul finally agreed and the ancestral engagement ring now had a home on her ring finger looking like it was meant to be there. She knew it made Pyeha extremely happy because his fingers were always tracing the ring and he often kissed it when he brought her hand to his face.

The engagement pictures released by the Royal Public Affairs Office went viral as the country waited with bated breath to see their King married. There were many questions about who the future Queen of Corea was but they didn’t release much information apart from the story they made up. She was a detective and worked for the Busan Police, the records had been created and police officers debriefed and told to sign confidentiality agreements. It helped that Tae-Eul was made part of the secretive Special Investigations Unit that mostly did undercover work. Her doppelganger’s presence was also explained – twins separated at birth. The two got along rather well, meeting for coffee and to catch up. The media ate up the stories without hesitation. The general public was ecstatic, they felt rather close to the King who had grown up in front of their eyes, and it seemed obvious to them that their King was happy and in love. The fact that he was marrying a commoner made them feel even closer to him.

Lady Noh was on cloud nine as they planned the biggest wedding the kingdom had ever seen. She couldn’t wait until the wedding, she had even started looking into fertility talismans...Pyeha was in need of an heir after all. She just had to wait until the wedding to place them in auspicious spots so the heir was born an appropriate time after the marriage.

She might also started stuffing different talismans into Yeong’s pockets hoping that he would follow in Pyeha’s footsteps and propose to Seung-Ah. They were rather slow, the whole palace staff giggled about how obviously smitten the two fools were yet they still thought the palace was oblivious to their relationship. She thought it would be nice for Pyeha’s children to grow up alongside Yeong’s.

Jo Yeong

To say that Jo Yeong was exasperated would be an understatement. Pyeha and Tae-Eul disappeared frequently worrying everyone – himself included even though he knew that they were in a parallel dimension somewhere. It just wasn’t safe. He was glad when they started spending more time in the Kingdom of Corea until he realized that he couldn’t walk into any room without knocking and announcing his presence.

The first time he walked in without knocking Pyeha had fallen off a sofa, his hair mussed and his lips swollen while a blushing Tae-Eul lay on the sofa with wide eyes, a red face and swollen lips pulling her wrinkled shirt down. It was clear what they had been up to and he had hastily retreated while Pyeha ran after him.

The second time he walked in without knocking Pyeha had Tae-Eul up against a bookshelf as they furiously made out, he was holding her arms up over her head, flush against the bookshelf. The sound of moans made him hastily retreat, they didn’t even notice the door open or close.

The third time he walked in without knocking he was with Myeong Seung-Ah who was taken aback by the scene in front of her, she had squealed in her throat and hit his arm repeatedly in excitement. Tae-Eul was chasing Pyeha around the room yelling at him and calling him names. Pyeha was laughing while dodging her and telling her to be careful because he could have her beheaded. When Yeong arched his eyebrow at Tae-Eul, Pyeha just shrugged and said she was his Queen and could call him whatever she wanted. Yeong had rolled his eyes and exited quickly when the two of them looked at each other with huge smiles, it was somehow worse than walking in on them making out.

Seung-Ah had squealed loudly as soon as they left the room exclaiming that Pyeha and the Queen-to-be were so cute together. She had then glared at him exclaiming that he was unromantic before marching down the hallway while he followed, trying to pacify her. He might have pressed her up against the lockers in the change room and kissed her until she was too breathless to complain.

The fourth time he had walked in without knocking was really not his fault, he left Pyeha and Tae-Eul sitting on the couch together in Pyeha’s office while he stepped out to escort Prime Minister Mo in for their Friday meeting. It was barely five minutes later that the two had walked in to find the Queen-to-be laughing trying to get away from Pyeha who had pulled her into his lap and was placing kisses all over her face.

Yeong had sighed and given his best friend a look that conveyed ‘are you for real’. Prime Minister Mo had smiled at the pair, she seemed almost giddy when she saw the two of them together. Seung-Ah suspected that President Mo wrote fanfiction about Pyeha and Tae-Eul, the account going quiet whenever she was swamped with work. Yeong’s eyes had grown wide when he skimmed through some of the fanfictions, a lot of them were very explicit in nature…although he might have saved the ones about him and Seung-Ah, for research purposes of course.

After the fourth time he had walked in on them, he made sure to knock and wait a minute for them to compose themselves before he walked in to any room. His subordinates were instructed to do the same. The whole Royal Guard  was very amused by Pyeha’s antics, he was acting so…unlike him. Now that they were engaged, they went out on public dates where they acted like smitten teenagers and the Royal Guard was privy to all their flirting. It was rather ridiculous. Yeong often caught them talking about the pair and what they had seen, it ranged from seeing them walking in the garden hand-in-hand to finding them making out in the horse stables. In between all of that were what Yeong referred to as nauseatingly sweet events – like making people pick fresh flowers for Tae-Eul, making all the Royal Guards carry around hair ties because the Queen-to-Be always lost hers and needed backups, and watching Pyeha whisper things into Tae-Eul’s ears which inevitably made her either flush or whack his arm.

But it wasn’t as ridiculous as Friday night dinners, when Pyeha walked down to the kitchen in his navy uniform and kicked all the kitchen staff out. A giggling Tae-Eul always followed after him. The Royal Guard and the rest of the palace found Pyeha’s behaviour to be rather cute, everyone commenting on how smitten he was, the conversations and laughter overheard was shared across the palace in hushed whispers. Yeong and Seung-Ah joined the pair sometimes at Tae-Eul’s insistence, those nights exasperated him just a little even though they were fun. All three of them would team up and speculate why he never laughed. Pyeha would then share stories from when he was a child and laughed a lot more which embarrassed him greatly. The only thing he didn’t mind was the look on Seung-Ah’s face when she inevitably got him to put on his own navy uniform, she loved seeing him in it and he really liked her taking it off of him.

Yeong was glad that Gon had someone to be vulnerable with, someone that he could share his deepest secrets and worries with. He was no longer Gon’s only friend – a fact that both pleased him and made him feel a tad jealous. But he was slowly learning how to have a life that didn’t revolve solely around Gon and it was nice, especially when Gon was going around acting ridiculous. The Pyeha wasn’t supposed to be chasing the Queen-to-Be around the palace like a smitten teenager for goodness’ sake.

Myeong Seung-Ah      

To say that Myeong Seung-Ah was ecstatic would be an understatement. She was on cloud nine while documenting and handling the Royal Wedding. The wedding had been long and wonderful, everything was live-streamed on television allowing the public to be a part of the wedding. The whole country was commenting on how happy the King and Queen looked together, the couple had a large fan following, thousands of blogs with their pictures and videos were going up every day. The common theme was that they made a beautiful couple, the Queen looked radiant on her wedding day, and the King looked happier than anyone had ever seen him.

It was like a fanfiction come to life, she had written one herself where Pyeha got married to a commoner and gave her the world…and it was all coming true! She tried to control her inner fangirl at work and succeeded for the most part. But Yeong was definitely privy to her excitement, she was sure she had almost broken his hand with how hard she squeezed it every time something cute happened throughout the wedding ceremony. Her own love story was something that the public definitely noticed during the live broadcast and the internet was now rampant with pictures and fanfictions of her and Yeong – some of them were very good.

The days that followed the wedding had everyone speculating where the honeymoon would be and how quickly an heir would be presented. Most people bet that the pair would honeymoon somewhere in Europe. The fact that most of the Royal Guard was given time off on a rotating basis over the two weeks wasn’t shared with the public who would wonder why the Royal Guard didn’t accompany the King and Queen. The fact that they were on their honeymoon in Europe in an alternate universe where no one knew them as the King and Queen was definitely not a speculation.

The Royal Public Affairs Office remained rather tight-lipped about the honeymoon, but the fanfiction world was running rampant with really good material that had Seung-Ah fanning herself and seeking out Yeong. She spent most of the week Yeong had off with him enjoying the fact that her boyfriend looked just as scrumptious in casual clothing as he did in his black suits. She liked the playful side of him that came out rarely, but even in his playfulness he was always so cool.

By the time the King and Queen returned from their long honeymoon, they were sun-kissed and looking happier than ever. If Yeong had thought they were bad before the wedding they were much worse now. The staff would walk past closed doors all around the palace and hear giggling and laughter. The two of them didn’t sneak around anymore but rather walked hand in hand everywhere, it was not an uncommon sight to see the King sweep down and place a kiss on the Queen’s forehead or pat her hair fondly. The Queen accompanied the King to most of his engagements, the two of them were joined at the hip. The Queen took up some of her own initiatives and engagements working closely with the Royal Public Affairs Office and Seung-Ah, the two becoming even closer as time went on.

But what made her the happiest was the random nights the King and Queen would sit in the kitchen across from her and Yeong just chatting and laughing over drinks. The Queen would mix drinks – having snuck bottles of liquor from the Republic – and get progressively louder as she got more liquor in her system. Seung-Ah definitely noticed when the King snickered as the Queen longingly looked towards the bottles of liquor as they all drank tea one evening instead of liquor. Seung-Ah hid her smile when the Queen whacked his arm and exclaimed he was the reason she could no longer have liquor. She couldn’t hold back the squeal that left her mouth while she congratulated them.

They were told to keep it quiet but speculation was running rampant within weeks, everyone noticed that the King seemed so much more protective of the Queen. The first tip off was when the security levels for the Queen increased dramatically. She could no longer go anywhere without being accompanied by at least a dozen guards who packed around her more tightly than they did in the past. The King accompanied her everywhere he could, rarely leaving her side, the media commented on this fact extensively along with the fact that the Queen had suddenly taken to wearing looser dresses.

Everyone at the palace noticed that the Queen’s hands frequently rested on her stomach as she walked around the palace. The kitchen staff knew that the Queen’s breakfast now consisted of ginger tea with crackers, all of them suspecting morning sickness. Seung-Ah definitely noticed that the King’s hand often rested on his wife’s belly, which now had a little bump.

Seung-Ah had a press release written up with the perfect picture by the time the palace could no longer hide the pregnancy, the baby bump now visible in loose dresses. The nation rejoiced, the picture where the King was standing behind the Queen both of their hands resting on her baby bump went viral worldwide as everyone speculated if a boy or girl would be born.

Jang Mi-Reuk

To say that Jang Mi-Reuk was overprotective would be an understatement. He took guarding the Queen very seriously, he quite liked her and the changes she brought in the Kingdom. Everyone seemed happier, she was warm and kind but could also kick ass. He still remembered when she challenged a Royal Guard to a duel – a vehement protest against her then fiancée about being able to protect herself. Pyeha had insisted that he knew she could protect herself but being the future Queen put her more at risk. She had managed to hold up her own against Pyeha and reduce the number of people that followed her around before her wedding from six to just Mi-Reuk.

She was different than what everyone thought their Queen would be, and he was glad. He was her Head Guard, a friend when she wanted to whine about Pyeha and his overprotectiveness now that she was pregnant. He chose to just listen and not respond in the chance that Pyeha behead him for encouraging his wife’s complaints. But he mostly stayed silent because he agreed wholeheartedly with Pyeha – the Queen shouldn’t be leaving the palace without a dozen Royal Guards, the guards should stand around her in an impenetrable circle, she shouldn’t be running around or down the stairs, and she definitely shouldn’t skip meals.

Pyeha’s overprotectiveness was rather cute to everyone, he stuck to her like glue most of the times, his hand resting on her back when walking and on her stomach when they were sitting or standing. He was lucky enough to have witnessed the moment when Pyeha  first felt the babies kick – they were having twins, a secret that only a few in the palace knew. Even Yeong who was usually stoic had a smile on his face at the scene, Mi-Reuk did wonder if his Captain’s recent less stoic nature had to do with the fact that he was now engaged to Seung-Ah.

Captain Jo had immediately asked all guards to step back to allow the couple privacy as they noticed the Pyeha’s eyes fill with unshed tears. Pyeha grew even more overprotective and only Lady Noh’s explanation that there were always attempts at a heir’s life calmed the Queen down when her husband was being especially overprotective. As the Queen got further along in her pregnancy, the palace staff was amused. Apparently pregnancy often made women very…amorous. She had a habit of tracking Pyeha down, the two of them disappearing into the closest room with a lock acting like they weren’t about to engage in…licentious activities despite the fact that everyone knew what was actually happening. Especially when Pyeha always left the room with a dopey grin and the Queen had a rather satisfied look on her face.  

Lady Noh was scandalized claiming that no one had ever behaved so audaciously in the palace but it seemed like she was just putting on a front because he often saw the fond look she gave Pyeha and the Queen when they were together. Her biggest worry was the fact that there was a leak in the palace somewhere and the general public seemed to know rather sensitive details about the pair – everything from Pyeha cooking for her to their current rendezvouses across the palace. But this seemed to endear the public to the pair even more.

As the due date got nearer both Pyeha and all the guards walked on eggshells around the Queen, constantly watching her face for any signs of discomfort. Mi-Reuk was walking by Pyeha’s study with Captain Yeong when a frantic Pyeha threw the door open yelling that the Queen was in labour. Yeong had snorted before escorting Pyeha back into the study and making him sit down by an amused Queen who teased Pyeha about almost fainting.

Mi-Reuk was sure Pyeha’s hand had a broken bone by the time the Queen was brought over to the room that was set up for the birth. The doctors and midwives worked quickly and efficiently despite the fact that Pyeha insisted her stay in the room despite Lady Noh’s protests. He sat by the bed, holding the Queen’s hand as everyone worked around him.

Hours later the room filled with two rather loud cries, Yeong and Mi-Reuk were standing right outside the door looked at each other and smiled. The twins were introduced to the two men, a little girl named Lee In-Na and a little boy named Lee Dae-Hyun. Mi-Reuk knew at that moment that he would protect the two to death much like he would their mother. As the weeks passed the two of them looked more and more like the perfect mix of their two parents who always seemed exhausted but so happy. The kingdom rejoiced for weeks after the birth was announced, the picture of the happy family – the King and Queen sitting in the palace garden each holding one child with fond smiles on their faces was currently the most shared picture in the history of the country.

A few months later, Mi-Reuk watched over the twins in their prams as the King and Queen stood at the altar beside Yeong and Seung-Ah, the two finally tying the knot. He had never seen Captain Yeong show any emotions but the man had tears in his eyes when Seung-Ah walked down the aisle towards him while Pyeha gently patted his shoulder in reassurance.

Mi-Reuk knew the Queen was ecstatic that the two were getting married claiming that they belonged together in every universe with a forlorn look on her face. She was rather excited for them to have children of their own because her own babies needed companions, even hinting at the fact that she hoped their kids paired off and got married to annoy Pyeha. When Mi-Reuk looked at Lee In-Na he wondered what man would be brave enough to take on the Pyeha and the whole Royal Guard for her hand. He smiled when Lee Dae-Hyun grabbed his sister’s hand in his sleep – better yet – who would take on Lee Dae-Hyun for his sister’s hand.