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Jongin sighed for the umpteenth time. Tonight was one of those nights when he wished he was just a regular guy, struggling to graduate college or working a 9 to 5 job at some boring office. At least if he was just any other guy he could be out there, with his friends, going to the premiere concert of his favorite singer.

The one and only Byun Baekhyun. The genius idol of his generation. The prime jewel of his country. The man who sold out three nights at the Seoul Dome in two seconds. Girls love him. Boys wanna be him (or with him). And Jongin… well, Jongin can only look at the posters he had hidden in his walk-in closet and stalk the singer’s SNS activities. It’s just so hard to be a fanboy and cheer from a distance.

“If you sigh one more time, I swear I’ll slap your pretty face.” Jongin snapped his head towards the voice and saw Sehun coming out of his closet, followed by his boyfriend.

“What are two still doing here? I thought you’d be at the gates right now.”

“And leave you here, all by yourself, crying about your miserable life?” Chanyeol asked with a grin. “No, you highness, we came to rescue you from the shackles of your castle.”

Jongin chuckled at the exaggeration of Chanyeol's words, even though they were not completely untrue. He was a prisoner indeed. A prisoner of his heritage and the fact that he was soon to be crowned King. And as a real-life prince, he could not attend a common event without having the entire place swept for bombs, body checks on the public to avoid guns and a whole team of his royal bodyguards with him. And he didn’t want to impose such a hassle on Baekhyun's fans.

“Besides, we are tired of your everlasting pining over the guy.” Sehun added, a smirk playing on his lips. “It’s time for you to meet him.”

“M-me-me-meet hi-him?” Just the simple thought of being in the same room as Baekhyun made him stutter.

Jongin took a deep breath to calm his racing heart. He fought his stuttering all his life. As a young boy he was teased endlessly by his school mates, which made him avoid speaking as much as he could. Until the day Sehun transferred to the same high school he attended and came to his rescue. Although they were the same age, his cousin was taller and broader, and he knew how to fight. He was also a good kid, who insisted with the King to allow Jongin to go out with regular kids and work on his shyness and his fear of speaking.

“Ownnn, you still stutter out of shyness… cuuuute!” Sehun teased and Jongin stared at him, regretting having shown his cousin the hidden tunnels when they were just kids. “Yes, meet him. I have arranged to go backstage, so you better change your clothes and get ready to finally meet your soulmate.”

Soulmate. Such a bitter-sweet word in a world where some people could recognize that one person who was meant to be their lifetime partner just by the sound of their voices. Some called it a blessing, others a curse. Jongin believes both sides were right.

For there were those who would find their soulmates and live a happy life, there were those who would find out their bond was one-sided and would have to watch their special person live a happy life with somebody else and there were those who would never hear the sound of their soulmate’s voice and would spend their lives chasing a ghost. Whatever entity that decided soulmating should be a lottery had a sour sense of humor.

“Does my father know about this?”

“Nooo...” Chanyeol trailed off.

“Of course not! Are you crazy?” Sehun squealed. “Uncle would never allow us to go out without following full security protocol.”

“So, you’re sneaking out?”

“You mean, WE are sneaking out.” 

“No.” Jongin shook his head to stand his ground. “It’s impossible. People will recognize me, pictures will be taken and Father will kill me.”

“It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.” Sehun handed him his favorite black denim jeans and the white hoodie from the concert. “Besides, I bought this especially for the occasion. Today’s dress code is white, so we’ll just mix up with the crowd.”

“As my head of security, do you think it’s gonna work?” Jongin asked Chanyeol.

“No. I think we’re gonna be in big trouble when we’re back.”

“But, you just can never say no to him, right?” Chanyeol blushed and Jongin grinned. His cousin's relationship with his best friend was one of those soulmate encounters that made the tales really beautiful. They met when Sehun came back home after finishing College in the US. “I can order you to stay…”

“But you won’t do it!” Sehun interfered. “If we get in trouble with Uncle, I’ll tell him it was my idea and Chanyeol couldn’t do anything but follow us up when you got along with it.”

“Yeah, yeah!” Jongin replied, but kept on changing clothes. “Somehow I know this will end up with me being scolded, Chanyeol being punished and you getting away easy.”

“Like always…” Chanyeol added with a goofy grin, earning a quick smoosh from his boyfriend.

“Yep! Like always…” Jongin smiled.

 

✣✣✤✣✣

 

Baekhyun was ecstatic. He had just finished the first concert of his new tour without issues. He was happy to see his fans loved his new songs and even happier to listen to them singing with him.

However, premier nights can be exhausting. The long hours of rehearsal, the sleepless nights that precede it, the anxiety of not knowing how the public will react and a long list of things that could go wrong always takes a toll on Baekhyun. Which is why he usually doesn’t allow visitors backstage on the first night. So, imagine his surprise when his manager came to the dressing room to let him know he would have some fans coming to see him tonight.

“Junmyeon hyung, I’m tired. I don’t feel like smiling and signing autographs. Not tonight.” He said, lowering his head to avoid looking at the door.

“I told you it was a bad idea.”

That voice… Baekhyun knew that deep voice, even if its owner was almost whispering. He sighed. It just couldn’t be the prince! It was probably his imagination playing tricks on him.

“I’m sure you can make an exception for us, hyung!”

Baekhyun raised his head at the second voice, looked at the mirror and saw his manager standing by the door accompanied by three young men.

“Sehunnie?” He got on his feet and walked towards them. “Oh my gosh! It’s you! How long has it been?”

“Three years.” They hugged each other, like old friends do.

“I didn’t know you were back!”

“And I didn’t know you knew each other.” Chanyeol said, with a little bit of jealousy in his voice.

Neither did I. Jongin thought while observing how intimate his soulmate and his favorite cousin were behaving.

“You don’t know everything about me, Yeollie!” Sehun replied, with a mischievous grin. “Remember I told you that I took singing classes as one of my electives in College? That’s when I met Baekhyun hyung.”

“Sehunnie here has the smoothest voice ever. And he can rap too…” Baekhyun praised.

“You’re too kind, hyung.”

“I’m just calling as I see it. You’re talented and my company would love to have you under its label.”

“Naaahhh! This life is not for me, hyung.” Chanyeol cleared his throat to remind Sehun there were other people in the room. “Oh! Let me introduce you to my companions. This is my boyfriend, Park Chanyeol.”

“Nice meeting you.” They greeted each other.

“And this is my cousin, Kim Jongin.”

“It’s an honor to meet you, Your Royal Highness.” Baekhyun lowered his eyes and bowed, in a perfect reverence.

“D-do you k-know who I-I am?”

“What kind of loyal subject would I be if I didn’t know my Prince?” Jongin blushed, hard, at the sassy answer. “What I didn’t know was that my old friend from College was royalty too.”

“Now that you know, will you bow to me too?”

“Not in a million years, Sehunnie.”

They all laughed and Junmyeon excused himself. He had many things to overlook before calling a night.

“I was not informed we’d have royal guests tonight, so please forgive my bad manners, Your Royal Highness.”

“J-Jo-Jongin…”

“Excuse me?”

“P-Ple-Please call me Jongin.” Jongin took a deep breath to calm his racing heart. “I’m not here on official business.”

“Is that why I didn’t see the bomb squad or the extra security on the venue?”

“Yeah, about that…” Jongin looked shepsheely. “We kinda sneaked out of the palace.”

Baekhyun bursted out laughing.

“You’re kidding, right?”

“I wish!” Chanyeol replied.

“It was Sehun’s idea.” Jongin was quick to point out.

“Somehow, I don’t find it hard to believe.” Baekhyun stated.

“Hyuuunnng.” And Sehun whined.

And just like that they fell into a comfortable conversation. Baekhyun was tired, but he felt refreshed just by listening to the boys speaking about their experience at the concert. He took pictures with them and gave them signed albums as a token of his appreciation. 

When Junmeyon came back to the dressing room, Jongin, Sehun and Chanyeol were not there anymore.

“When did they leave?”

“You just missed them.”

“Mmmmh... the prince is quite charming in person.”

“Yeah...” Baekhyun trailed off for a second. “Did you know he stutters?”

“No way!”

“Yep! It’s kinda cute.”

“I bet! Are you ready to go?” Baekhyun nodded. He grabbed his phone and put it in his back pocket. He couldn’t afford to leave it behind. Not when he just added a very important contact number.

 

✣✣✤✣✣

 

“Rise and shine, sleep beauty.” Jongin grumbled, turned over his body and hid his face under the pillow. “Come on! You have a busy day ahead of you.”

“Let me be, Sehun-ah!”

“I’d love to, but you have an official appointment with the King in an hour to discuss the coronation.”

Jongin jumped over the mattress and sat.

“Is it today?” 

“Yep!” Sehun walked into the closet to select a proper outfit for the prince, who rubbed his eyes and stretched to shake off sleep before he got out of bed.

“Sehun-ah?” Jongin called while walking to the insuite.

“Yes?”

“You never told me you knew Baekhyun… why?”

“Honestly?”

“Honestly!”

“When I came back to the country, Baekhyun had just released his first album. He had such an hectic schedule he could barely reply to our chat. Then I found out you had a crush on him…”

“It’s not just a crush…” Jongin got out of the insuite and found Sehun puting some clothes on the rack for him to choose.

“I know, I know.” Sehun sighed and turned to stare at his cousin. “I didn’t want to set you up on a blind date or trick him into coming on a double date. I didn’t want you to feel pressured all the time imagining you were about to meet Baekhyun everytime we went out. I know how important it is the first time you meet your soulmate.”

“Thank you!” Jongin gave him a big hug. “I appreciate your thoughtfulness.”

“Ohhhh, you two are so cute! Why can’t you be like that every day?”

They immediately got apart and looked sheepishly at each other before bowing before the Queen.

“Mom!”

“Auntie!”

“Good morning, boys! It’s good to see you’re getting ready for the meeting with the King.” The Queen was smiling. “Sehunnie, would you be so kind to go and check if the kitchen is sending the breakfast?”

“Of course, Auntie.” Sehun was about to go out the door when he saw the Queen pointing to her own cheek. He gave her a peck and left.

“Good boy!” She smiled and walked towards the sofas to take a seat. “Now, tell me… how was the concert last night?”

“H-Ho-How do-do y-you know?”

“You forget I have eyes and ears everywhere in the palace, my son.” the Queen was grinning. “So? How was it?”

“It was… amazing! He’s so good, Mom! He kept the crowd under his charms, like a spell. And his voice is so, so…”

“Amazing?” Jongin nodded, chuckling. “You’re really passionate about him.”

“I love him!”

“Do you?” The Queen looked a bit worried and Jongin looked puzzled. “Let me ask you something, son. I know you’re quite a fanboy and I know you recognized his voice as your soulmate, but love is such a strong word. So, my question is: are you sure you love him?”

“You weren’t there last night when I met him, Mom. My heart was racing like crazy, I was so nervous that I kept stuttering, and I felt a heat throughout my body every time he looked at me. That was not me being a fanboy.”

“What about him?”

“I don’t know.” Jongin admitted, sighing. “If he felt the same, he didn’t show.”

“Mmmh…”

“May I ask you something, Mom?”

“Sure.”

“How was it for you?”

“For me?”

“Yes, when you met Father...”

“Oh! Come here and sit with me.” Jongin finished buttoning his shirt and sat by his mother’s side. “Let me tell you something only a few chosen people know… your father and I, we’re not soulmates.”

“What?”

“We don’t share the soulmate bond. But that doesn’t mean we don’t love each other dearly.” The Queen smiled openly. “When we first met, he swept me out of my feet with his kindness, his manners and, of course, his gorgeous face. We both knew we were not soulmates, but we fell in love nonetheless.”

“Weren’t you scared? I mean, what if you met your soulmates in the future?”

“Of course I was. He was the King and he was not my soulmate. He knew that I had my doubts about our relationship, so one day he told me all about how he met his soulmate when they were teenagers and how it felt like they were meant to be. And then he told me about the car accident that took her life and how he felt like he would never be happy with someone else, ever again. Until he met me…”

“That’s sweet!”

“He’s a sweet man, your father. So, you understand now why I worry? I don’t want you to get hurt by mixed feelings. Finding your soulmate doesn’t always mean a romantic future. Sometimes all you find is a friend, do you understand?”

Jongin hummed. He understood what his mother was trying to explain, but he was so sure about his feelings. I can’t be that wrong!

“What do you think I should do, Mom?”

“Get to know him. I know you think you love him because he’s your soulmate, but you should spend time with him, really get to know him, and fall in love with him. If you do that, you will allow him to get to know you too, to fall in love as well.”

“What about the soulmate bond?”

“People give too much credit to it. If there is true love, the bond is a confirmation. Otherwise it’s a heavy burden. If you’re right for each other, you’ll know here.” The Queen placed a hand on his chest, right over his heart, and smiled. Jongin smiled back with determination.

“Get to know him... Yeah, I can do that!”

 

That night Baekhyun received a huge bouquet of his favorite flowers with a good luck card written by the Prince himself. After the concert, he took a selfie with the flowers and a huge smile on his face.

 

✣✣✤✣✣

 

When Baekhyun walked into his dressing room for the third and last night of the first leg of concerts in Seoul, he was greeted by a dozen boxes of his favorite chocolate candies and an invitation for dinner after the concert.

“Someone has a crush…” Junmyeon teased.

“He’s just being nice.” Baekhyun dismissed it like it was nothing, but inside he was jumping out of happiness. He texted Jongin, saying he would love to go out with him that night.

“Nobody spends that much just to be nice.” Junmyeon states, pointing out the fact that just one box costs more than many people would make in a month of work.

Baekhyun smiled and proceeded to open one box.

“Then I should eat it heartily.”

 

Later that night, Baekhyun left the venue to find a convoy outside. Chanyeol was the one to approach him.

“Hello!”

“Oh, hey Chanyeol! What are you doing here?”

“I’m the Prince’s chief of security. It’s my job to be here.” Baekhyun chuckled at Chanyeol’s seriousness. “He’s waiting for you in the car. Shall we?”

Baekhyun followed Chanyeol to the car where Jongin was waiting.

“Good evening, Baekhyun!”

“Good evening, Your Roy… Jongin!” Baekhyun corrected himself while taking a seat next to the prince. “So that is how you move around the city, huh?”

“Mmmh?”

“With style!” Baekhyun moved his arms around pointing the security cars outside and Jongin chuckled.

“Most of the time, yes. Sometimes I sneak out!” Jongin winked and Baekhyun laughed.

“I could get used to it.”

“I hope so!”

Baekhyun stopped laughing and looked at the prince. Was he being serious? Baekhyun couldn’t tell.

“Aren’t you curious about where we are going?”

“A little, but I trust your good taste.”

And just like that, they fell into a comfortable silence, interrupted sometimes by small talk and some teasing. It felt like they knew each other for years, which made Jongin feel at ease. Baekhyun didn’t treat him differently because he was an unreachable prince.

 

They had dinner at a very exclusive and very expensive 3 star restaurant. Jongin had booked a private room, so they could avoid prying eyes and ears.

“Do you feel like going home already?” Jongin asked when they were leaving the restaurant.

“Not really. Why do you ask?”

“Well, I usually go for a late night walk whenever I have the chance.”

“Where do you go?”

“Usually by the river.”

“Well, I’d love to go with you. I mean, if you’re asking…”

“I’m asking.”

 

✣✣✤✣✣

 

The thing about soulmates is that there is no visible mark nor a stop-the-clock moment when they meet. Jongin knew for sure Baekhyun was his soulmate, but was he Baekhyun’s? He didn’t know and he wasn’t sure if he wanted to find out.

So, even though they became closer as time went by and they started messaging each other and meeting whenever their schedules allowed, Jongin refrained from taking their friendship to the next level.

It’s not like he didn’t want to kiss Baekhyun. Sometimes it was hard to keep his hands to himself around him. Baekhyun loved skinship, so he was always touching, hugging, resting his head on Jongin’s shoulder. But he was like that with all his close friends. Jongin saw him doing the same thing many times with Junmyeon and Sehun was always complaining of Baekhyun biting him. “I’m not a snack, hyung!”, he would whine, making everybody laugh (even Chanyeol, who’s usually very protective of his boyfriend).

 

It’s been three months since they first met and Jongin was still mustering his courage to do anything that would show Baekhyun he wanted to be more than friends. He had surprised the singer by sending him gifts on various concert nights, even to those which took place out of the country. He had taken him to his favorite spots in the capital. He would make sure to send him positive messages during rehearsals and videocall him whenever they both had free time.

That afternoon Jongin decided it was time to invite Baekhyun to his house. He wanted to get his reaction to what life in a palace felt like. Obviously, Baekhyun was in awe. The palace was beautiful, with just the right balance between the royal family’s heritage, which could be seen in some of the rooms like the library with its collection of old books and papers and the ballroom which was decorated with pieces that dated 200~300 years old, and the modern ways of living, like QLed TVs and monitors, security gadgets and a state of the art kitchen.

“Wow! This place is awesome!”

“Did you like it?” Jongin was proud of his play room.

“Are you kidding me? You have your own mini library, PCs and monitors that would make any professional gamer jealous…” Baekhyun was walking around the room, pointing out stuff he liked. “Do you own a Lego store?” Jongin laughed at the question. Baekhyun was like a cute kid in a toy store. “But this… this is my favorite! I didn’t know you played…”

Baekhyun took a seat at the bench of the grand piano placed in one of the corners.

“I’m not a professional like you...” Jongin sat at Baekhyun’s side, who snorted at the prince’s humble comment. “But this piano helped me overcome my stuttering.”

“Really? How?”

“When I was a kid, I couldn’t speak a full sentence without stuttering. Especially when I was in stressful situations, like the first day at school or gala dinners with my parents. I was so ashamed that I started to not speak at all.” Jongin confessed while playing some notes. “My parents were so worried. They took me to various doctors, but it was actually Sehun’s speech therapist who came with the idea of using music to help me.”

“Sehunnie underwent speech therapy? For what?” Baekhyun looked dumbstruck.

“He didn’t tell you?” Baekhyun shook his head, denying. “He had a lisp!”

“No way!”

“Yes, way. Kids used to make fun of him too, you know? But unlike me, Sehun didn’t care. He also had a scary face and knew how to fight so most kids would just let him be.”

Baekhyun hummed in agreement.

“And how did music help you?”

“Music calms me down. Singing helped me with pronunciation and playing the piano helped me with stress. Up to this date, whenever I have to do a public speech I practice here, on this piano.”

“Would you sing something for me?”

“I-I-I…”

“Please?”

Jongin nodded and started striking some keys, trying to decide what song to play.

I thought that I've been hurt before, but no one's ever left me quite this sore. Your words cut deeper than a knife, now I need someone to breathe me back to life. Got a feeling that I'm going under, but I know that I'll make it out alive if I quit calling you my lover. Move on…”

Jongin felt when Baekhyun rested his head over his shoulder. He took a quick look at him and smiled. Baekhyun joined him singing.

“You watch me bleed until I can’t breathe. I’m shaking, falling onto my knees and now that I’m without your kisses, I’ll be needing stitches. Tripping over myself, aching, begging you to come help. And now that I’m without your kisses, I’ll be needing stitches.”

Their voices sounded so good together, so harmonized, that Jongin forgot his fear for a minute. He turned his head to look at Baekhyun and when the singer raised his eyes to him, he closed the distance between them and kissed him. In the beginning, it was just a touch of lips, but when Baekhyun sighed and closed his eyes, Jongin just went for it.

When their lips parted, Jongin raised his hand to touch Baekhyun’s cheek. He was so pretty! With his eyes closed and reddened lips. It didn’t last long, though.

Baekhyun opened his eyes and looked at him. And the loving look he had at first was soon replaced by fear.

“Oh my God!” Baekhyun jumped out of the bench. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t…”

“I-I...” Jongin stood up as well and tried to hold Baekhyun’s hand, to calm him down. “I-I am so-sorry.”

“No, no. It’s my fault. I should’ve known better…” Baekhyun was restless.

“W-Wha-What a-ar-are… what are you talking about?”

“You’re royalty, Jongin-ah! I mean, Your Royal Highness. I should’ve known my place. I should...”

“S-S-Stop!” Jongin grabbed Baekhyun by his shoulders. “We’re not living in Joseon anymore. I’m royalty, but I’m also a man. And this man likes you, Baekhyun!”

“What?” Baekhyun froze on the spot, palling hard.

“I. Like. You!” Jongin sighed. “I like you… I’ve been trying to show you ever since we met, but you never read the signs.”

“I’m… I’m not good with signs.” Baekhyun scratched his neck and smiled awkwardly. Jongin released him, his arms falling beside his body, a clear sign of defeat.

“You don’t feel the same, do you?” Baekhyun opened and closed his mouth, like he wanted to say something, but couldn’t. “It’s okay, Baekhyun! Like I said, we’re not in Joseon. I can’t force you to be with me. I won’t…”

“Jongin-ah…”

“I’d like to be alone now.'' Jongin cut him mid sentence. “The driver will take you home.”

“Jongin-ah, listen…”

“Please, I don’t want to order you to leave.”

“But…”

“It’s okay!” Jongin saw sadness in Baekhyun’s eyes. And something else, only... he couldn’t tell what it was. “I’ll be fine.”

Jongin turned his back to Baekhyun, who took that as the cue for him to leave. Although he didn’t want to leave things like that, Baekhyun needed to think. What he didn’t notice was that by the time he left the room, tears were silently rolling down Jongin’s cheeks.

 

✣✣✤✣✣

 

Two weeks had passed by since the palace fiasco and Baekhyun was feeling worse than ever. Jongin tried to keep in contact, messaging him like he used to do ever since they met, but Baekhyun never replied back. He knew he should reply, he just didn’t know what to say to him.

“Five minutes, Baekhyun-ah!” Junmyeon came to the dressing room to warn him that it was almost time to go to the stage.

“I’m ready!” He was far from ready, but he stood up and followed his manager. The show must go on...

That night, Baekhyun was not at his best. He apologized to his fans, said something about a stomach bug to be the reason why he was not as cheerful as always. He was a professional, so he did his best to not let his fans down, but deep inside all he wanted was to get home and hide under the covers. He needed to fix things with Jongin. He just didn’t know how. Tomorrow , he promised himself, tomorrow I’ll find a way.

Little did he know the answer to his prayers was sitting calmly at his dressing room when he finished that night’s concert.

“Your Majesty!” Baekhyun bowed to the Queen as soon as he spotted her.

“You can drop the formalities, son.” The Queen signed to him to get straight. “I’m not here as the Queen.”

“You’re… not?”

“No! I’m here as a concerned mother trying to figure out what happened between you and my son that broke his heart.”

“I… I…”

“Please take a seat.” Baekhyun did as he was told. “Now, the last time I saw you two love birds, my son was playing the piano and the two of you were singing beautifully.”

“You saw us?”

“Yes, I did. And you looked happy, both of you. I didn’t want to intrude, so I went to the kitchen to get you tea and cookies. And when I came back, my son was crying his heart out.”

“He was?” The Queen nodded. “What did he say?”

“That’s the problem! He didn’t say anything. He just… he dove into work… you know the coronation is next week, right?” Baekhyun knew that. “He’s not speaking at all, unless it’s related to the coronation. So, I came here to ask you: what in the heavens happened?”

“I… He…” Baekhyun sighed. “We kissed.” The Queen looked at him, a question mark all over her face. “I freaked out.” He admitted.

“You freaked out...” Baehyun lowered his head embarrassed. “Why?”

“Because he’s the fuc… freaking Prince.”

“So?”

“So, he’s going to be the King. He will have responsibilities beyond my understanding. He needs someone who knows what they’re doing and I’m just a singer. Also, everybody knows a King needs heirs and last time I checked I can’t bear a child.”

The Queen kept silent for a few seconds and Baekhyun felt like he might have said something offensive. Imagine his surprise when she bursted out laughing. He didn’t know what he might have said that was so funny, so he just waited for her to get her composure again.

“I’m sorry!” The Queen was cleaning tears from her eyes. “You really thought this through, didn’t you?”

“I don’t understand.”

“You gave me a list of excuses as to why you’re not fit to be with the soon-to-be King.” she smiled. “But you didn’t really tell me the real reason why you freaked out.”

Baekhyun sighed a deep sigh. How can he explain it?

“Jongin, I mean the Prince, he told me he likes me.”

“And?”

“And I like him too, a lot! But I don’t want to let myself dive into this feeling, only to get drowned in it when he meets his soulmate and moves on to live a full life through the bond.”

“The bond is not definite and there’s no law saying you can only live a full life if you’re in love with your soulmate.” The Queen gave him almost the same speech she had given to her son. “And your line of thinking… it cuts both ways. You could be the one who will meet your soulmate and move on.”

“That’s impossible.”

“Why?”

Baekhyun looked at the Queen and carefully chose his next words.

“Because I’ve already found him.”

Baekhyun could tell the Queen was in shock. She opened and closed her mouth a couple of times before being able to say anything.

“Are you telling me that… are you saying that Jonginnie…”

“Yes!”

The Queen bursted out laughing… again.

“You… you…” she tried to speak while laughing. “You two... idiots!”

Baekhyun didn’t know what to do. He was definitely not expecting that reaction from her.

“You two… you need to talk! You need to face each other and speak your mind.”

“I know that, but now is not the right time.”

“And why is that?”

“Because you said it yourself. He’s overwhelmed with the preparations for the coronation.”

“True!”

“I cannot just barge into the palace and demand to talk to him.”

“Also true… but you know what you can do?” the Queen asked with a mischievous grin. Baekhyun shook his head. “You can be part of the coronation.”

“What? How?”

The Queen didn’t answer. Instead, she picked her phone inside her purse and called someone.

“Hey, honey! I need to ask you a favor.”

“It’s the King…” She whispered, while pointing to her phone. Baekhyun nodded.

“Well, I need you to dismiss the singer that was hired for the coronation.”

Baekhyun made an O with his mouth, but didn’t emit any sound.

“Yes, yes. I know it’s last minute. But what if I told you Byun Baekhyun will be singing the anthem? Yes, yes. I know you’re a fan.”

Baekhyun had his eyes wide open. The King was a fan?

“Okay! I knew you’d find a way. Thanks honey! Love you, bye.”

“You’re inviting me to sing at the coronation?”

“I’m not inviting, because it’s all set. Someone will contact your manager to arrange all the details. All you need to do is get to the palace a couple of hours prior to the ceremony. I’ll take you to my son.”

“What should I tell him?”

“Well, you can start by telling him everything you just told me. The rest will follow.”

Baekhyun nodded. He could do that!

 

✣✣✤✣✣

 

The coronation day finally arrived. Jongin had dark circles, which he was hoping to mask with make-up, a direct result from the lack of sleeping. He broke protocol when he dismissed the chambermaids, but he really needed some time alone.

He was buttoning his dress shirt when his mother entered the room.

“I heard you wanted to dress by yourself.”

“Yeah, I’m not a kid who needs help getting dressed.”

“No, you’re just The King.”

“Not yet.”

The Queen helped him with the tie and smiled when she knotted a perfect Full-Windsor Knot. She kissed him on both cheeks and walked towards the door, turning her head once she opened it.

“You’re welcome!” She said with a big smile and left the room, leaving the door open.

Jongin was confused. His mother always, always closes the door behind her. But, then someone else entered the room, making Jongin rub his eyes. He must have been extremely tired from the past days, to the point he started hallucinating.

“Hi Jongin-ah!”

“Baekhyun? What are you doing here?”

“I was asked to sing at the coronation.”

“You were?” Baekhyun nodded, holding a beautiful smile on his face. “I was not informed.”

“It was kind of last minute. And it was meant to be a surprise.”

“I see.” They stood in an awkward silence for a minute or so. “Well, I’m always happy to hear you singing.”

Baekhyun could feel how much Jongin was hurt just by hearing his cold words.

“Listen, Jongin-ah. I have to tell you something.”

“You don’t have to say anything. Your silence was loud enough.”

Baekhyun lowered his head sheepishly.

“I’m sorry.” He raised his head again. “I truly am. I should’ve called you or replied to your texts. I should've tried to explain.”

“Then why didn’t you?”

“I didn’t know how to do it.”

“And you do now?” Baekhyun nodded. “Well, I’m all ears.”

Baekhyun scratched the back of his neck, a clear sign of his embarrassment.

“When you told me you liked me, I should’ve told you that I like you back.” Jongin opened his mouth, but Baekhyun silently asked him not to speak. “Please, allow me. I like you, Jongin-ah. I really do! But I’m scared… I’m scared you don’t like me back the way I do.”

“I don’t understand.”

“When you first came to my concert, I felt an immediate connection. Then you kept on asking me out and I felt that connection turning into something more. You’re smart, fun, humble… you’re a true prince, and not just because you’re royalty. I like you for you and not because…” Baekhyun trailed off, like it was hard to say the next words. Jongin waited. “And not because you’re my soulmate.”

Jongin was in shock. He kept opening and closing his mouth a couple of times, trying to say something, anything. But all that came out of his mouth was… a laugh. And Baekhyun thought that one might need to have a screw loose in order to be a part of that family.

“I-I am your soulmate?”

“Yes.”

“How? I mean, when did you find out?”

“The first time I watched you on TV. When I moved back to the country three years ago.”

Jongin was dumbstruck. Was that possible?

“I was scared to face you after the kiss. I didn’t want to allow myself to dream of being with you for a while and then being replaced by your soulm…”

Baekhyun was silenced by Jongin, who was kissing him like there was no tomorrow. He was so happy that he started laughing while kissing him back. They stayed glued to each other, kissing and laughing and kissing until Jongin pushed his head back to look at Baekhyun.

“No one could ever replace you.”

“You’re saying that now, but…”

“No ‘buts’. There’s no one else today and there will be no one else tomorrow, or ever. I love you, Baekhyun. And not just because you’re my soulmate.”

It was time for Baekhyun to stay silent for a minute before bursting out laughing, followed by Jongin. The Queen was right. They were two idiots! But they were two idiots in love and that was all that mattered.