Actions

Work Header

Every King Must Also Die

Work Text:

"I am a king of honour
 Gold and glory
But every king must also die."


 

Jungwoo's crown is nice, but he can't help but think one that’s a little bigger would be better suited to him. Emblazoned with the seal of the Kingdom, inset with rubies as red as blood, the kind that would make a fetching contrast with his skin. The kind of crown a King deserves. This one doesn’t have the right amount of jewels, or the right colour, it’s not got the right anything.

“Do you like it?” Lucas asks, heat radiating off his body as he stands beside Jungwoo. He’s awkward around his intended, unsure when to touch him, or if he’s even permitted to. He smells of cinnamon and sweat. It’s a good thing he doesn’t try and put his arm around Jungwoo though, his hands would make imprints over the delicate satin he wears. 

“It’s a start,” Jungwoo says.

Lucas laughs like it’s a joke. It’s not a joke. Jungwoo hopes he realizes that. This is just a start. Jungwoo stares at his crown in the mirror and in his mind, he already replaces it with a bigger one, a better one. Gold, certainly. Silver is beautiful, certainly, but the noticeable lack in status is not worth the shimmer in the sun. Bedazzled with a hundred yellow diamonds would be sufficient, it’s in line with the colours of the Kingdom as well — but Jungwoo dreams of red rubies, always felt they accentuated the plushness of his lips. Lucas starts talking about wedding plans, sometime in the Spring when the sun hangs high in the sky and the azaleas are in bloom, and Jungwoo listens with one ear.

He scans the King’s private chambers, and it is said that a room makes a man. If that is the case, Lucas is clearly a man— and not a king. There’s a distinct lack of the ceremonial gifts so indicative of royalty, rather filled with his personal weapons, stacked out in glass cases. Polished to a shine, yes, but they’re all dented and Jungwoo wonders about the owners of shin bones and shoulder blades that caused such depressions in the metal.

His suit of armour poses in the center, demanding more attention that the King who wears it, and Jungwoo’s nose wrinkles at the sight of the burnished iron. He’s no stranger to war, not sensitive to blood, but there’s a reason he washes his hair with rose water. Why stain your clothes, when sharper weapons exist in a swift tongue and an inked pen?

Thoroughly preoccupied by examining the artifacts of his future husband, at first Jungwoo doesn’t notice him — he’s so still, next to the door. For a moment Jungwoo just assumes he’s the King’s personal bodyguard. But no, it’s not that at all — this man is lean and slender, more willow than oak, not the suitable build at all. Lucas himself could snap him in half.

More than the physical frame, however, it’s the clothes he wears that identify him. Robes knotted up to his neck of emerald and silver. Earrings in his ear, several studs and one hanging, the shape of a black bird with a tremendous tail feather. Garments of a nobility, or something akin to it.   

The stranger has been here the whole time, his gaze intent. He didn’t laugh when Jungwoo said “it’s a start”. He had smiled, quietly and to himself.

“Who’s that?” Jungwoo asks, carefully, whispering into his future husband’s ear, not wanting to show any visible interest.

“My Advisor,” Lucas says, waving his hand dismissively. “Oh, don’t worry about Doyoung. He doesn’t do much. He won’t bother you.”

Jungwoo gazes at him through the reflection of the mirror, at the angular curve of his jaw, at the unassuming dignity this advisor radiates. “Noted.”

 

 

The first time Jungwoo is permitted to sit at Lucas's side, he isn't seated at all. He is instructed to stand up straight, slender body in line with the back of his throne while his King fumbles his way through this meeting. From this angle, it’s evident that sweat collects at the back of his neck. Jungwoo would frown if he wasn’t such a picture of composure. 

There are two seats next to Lucas on the platform, one for his General, and one for his Advisor. Kun's face is plump with the peace of the land, his once athletic physique neglected in such prosperity. He smiles broadly, and every now and then he reaches over and rubs his hand over the span of Lucas's shoulder, a gesture of compassion.

“You're doing good,” Kun whispers into Lucas’s ear. It’s a lie. This meeting is accomplishing little of anything, and many of his councillors are distasteful that in such a transitionary time of his Kingdom, Lucas put more effort into finding himself a Consort than feeding his starving populace. Jungwoo pretends not to hear, deliberately glancing in the opposite direction. His Advisor does not whisper. Remains silent, his hands never leaving from where they’re folded on his lap.

His Advisor is young — Jungwoo heard the rumours along the vine that he was bred for the job. The child of a genius and a general, born noble, in line for the job from the moment he learned to count. He was away for a few years to the other Kingdom, to the North, and his skin still bears the sun marks from his time away, his ears still have the holes from the piercings. That’s where the bird comes from, Jungwoo surmises, such an exotic creature would never be in these plains. 

His head snaps towards Jungwoo, as if sensing eyes on him, and they lock glances, a sustained moment of contact. Doyoung’s gaze is sharp and particular, and Jungwoo cannot deny the feeling that overcomes him, as if he’s being analyzed and catalogued.

Jungwoo has had people look at him since he was eighteen, and before that too. This doesn’t fluster him. His head of apricot hair is the first to be seen, the first to be spoken about in hushed whispers — but then it’s everything else, it’s the softness of his face, his nutty brown eyes, his plush lips. Jungwoo is beautiful, and he knows this. Why else would he be the King’s Consort? This is merely a formality. Jungwoo lets him look — if he wants to add Jungwoo into his mental book, then he is worth an entire chapter.

And then, Doyoung bows his head in submission that Jungwoo does not deserve.

He has no rank, not yet. Consort is a term of little power, and Jungwoo isn’t even that — and despite it, Doyoung still performs it as an act of respect. Gratifying, truthfully. In the two weeks Jungwoo has been at court in this capacity, he’s been treated like a doll more than anything else. The ladies oil his hair, they lather lotion on his arms and measure him for a thousand different fitted shirts but no one has yet showed him an inch of the respect he will someday wield — if not at Lucas’s side, then by himself, after.

Perhaps Doyoung just looks to the future.

Lucas, in a moment of perceptiveness that Jungwoo did not know he possessed, sees Doyoung distracted and turns around, as if he forgot his Consort was standing behind him. His grin is broad. “I never introduced you two, have I?”

Doyoung’s eyebrow twitches, annoyed at the meeting having been interrupted. He lets it pass in a moment and composes his face into an expression of friendliness. This change takes less than six seconds. He rises to his feet and presents himself in front of Jungwoo, his back to the other dignitaries.

“It’s an honour to meet you, Consort,” Doyoung says, and when he bows, it’s complete and far more than the rank would ever necessitate. Jungwoo can see a flash of something black marked on the skin of his neck. Jungwoo attempts a closer look but Doyoung rises again, and grasps Jungwoo’s hand.

“May our Kingdom prosper under your union,” he says, and he runs his thumb over the knuckles of his hand before brushing a kiss upon it.

He’s daring.

Jungwoo sees the barest hint of a smirk on Doyoung’s face as he rises. “My name is Doyoung, I am the King’s Advisor.”

“I am pleased to make your acquaintance,” Jungwoo says. He may have been annoyed that Lucas forced this greeting in such a public setting — but now, Jungwoo has second thoughts. It’s useful knowledge to remember that Doyoung doesn’t just know how to think — he knows how to perform. He knows how to bow and bat his eyelids when necessary.

It’s something Jungwoo knows as well.

 

“Your skin looks so soft,” Jaemin remarks, prodding a finger in his cheek. Jungwoo slaps his hand away and Jaemin’s laugh is like bells.

“Peaches,” Jungwoo answers, picking a daisy. His careful fingers thread it into the crown of flowers, slowly beginning to take shape. “And coconut. It’s a type of scrub. The ladies say it suit me.”

“You look like a baby.” Jaemin lies against the grass, letting himself be absorbed into the soft greenery. It’s nothing like the landscape back home, all dried and dead. He could never pick daisies there, never enough to make a chain. And here, he has enough to make a thousand more.

“And you are one,” Jungwoo replies, rolling his eyes. A giggle is given in return.

It’s nice like this. Lucas is locked in the chains of leadership for the day, and Jungwoo was very politely but firmly asked to make himself scarce, lest his presence disturb their leader’s wandering mind. Jungwoo can’t help but sneer at the very implication that Lucas was so weak-willed, the mere sight of him would render his judgement ineffectual.  

 Jungwoo had found Jaemin the kitchens, and extracted him with little argument and it is just so nice to be outside, alone. He hasn’t spoken to Jaemin, not in so long, not since he had first asked about the origins of the peculiar Advisor in Lucas’s chambers.

“I wrote to our mother the other day,” Jaemin says, still looking at the sky. He must not get out often — he’s gotten so much paler. Stronger, too. He looks less and less like a child with each day. “She’s doing well. The vegetables are starting to come in. Slowly, but enough to survive.”

“Glad to hear,” Jungwoo says with the tone of politeness that’s becoming his default. “I really am.”

“Have you ever written to her?” Jaemin pries, but in the gentlest way possible, in that way Jaemin only ever could.

“I don’t have much to say. I’ll send her an invitation to the wedding.” Jungwoo’s fingers curl around a strand of grass, and he threads it through the crown. “That should be sufficient.”

“Sufficient, yes, but don’t you want to?” Jaemin asks. “Don’t you miss anything?”

Jungwoo doesn’t answer immediately, lets himself be occupied by the process of twisting the grass around the daisies, tying them tighter than necessary. What is there to miss of home? He had found more ambition in slugs dwelling at the bottom of ponds than he ever did in his village. His only regret was taking so long to leave to begin with, but perhaps it was for the best. He could have set out in the world years ago, but it was only this particular set of circumstances that could have led the cards of destiny to fall in such a way: the King’s abrupt illness, Lucas’s ascension to the throne, Jaemin’s apprenticeship to the chef of the castle. “I’m happy here,” Jungwoo answers. “Aren’t you?”

“I think we live very different lives in the same building,” Jaemin says and that’s all that needs to be said. He looks from the corner of his eye and pulls out a daisy, handing it to Jungwoo. It’s the only peace offering that needs to be given.

Jungwoo feels a shadow pass over him and he assumes it’s a cloud, preoccupied with knotting the gift from Jaemin into his crown. But the shadow does not pass, and Jungwoo gazes up at the figure that presents itself.

“Your Highness,” Doyoung says, bowing his head. “I do apologize for interrupting, especially on such a beautiful day.”

Jaemin’s eyes shift from Jungwoo to Doyoung, rapidly, and he tenses, unsure if he’s about to reprimanded — or if Jungwoo is. He gets to his feet and nods at both of them. “Greetings Advisor. I do apologize for any inconvenience.”

“None at all. But would you mind if I had a word with your brother?” Doyoung asks. He speaks gently to him, more than he ever needed to.

Jaemin casts one final glance at Jungwoo, and an imperceptible nod is his answer. Jaemin doesn’t need to worry about him. He all but runs back inside, not making a sound with his bare footsteps on the garden grass.

“I do apologize for chasing him away,” Doyoung says, mildly impressed at the speed at which he disappeared. “But I needed to speak with you privately.”

He stands, evidently waiting for Jungwoo to join him — but Jungwoo does not move at all, not without a blatant request. It’s a staring contest of sorts. That’s becoming their thing by the looks of it, and Doyoung is the one who breaks.

He shifts uncomfortably as he tries to settle on the grass. He’s shorter than Jungwoo but his limbs lack the grace that Jungwoo exhibits. Doyoung struggles to fold his legs, struggles to place his arms and Jungwoo watches in mute amusement as this grown and accomplished noble is now forced to sit on the ground.

“Nice day, isn’t it?” he says.

“Delightful,” Doyoung says. He shields his eyes from the sun and looks downwards. “I haven’t been outside in days, I think. I’m not used to this brightness.”

“And yet you spent a whole year in the North,” Jungwoo says. “I wonder how you survived.”

Jungwoo tries not to be visibly pleased at how Doyoung struggles to restrain his surprise. Jaemin’s information was accurate, after all. He shouldn’t have doubted him.

Doyoung purses his lips. “I wasn’t aware that you knew of my time in the North.”

“I wasn’t aware that you knew Jaemin was my brother,” Jungwoo says, and his smile widens.

It takes a moment before Doyoung’s shoulders deflate. It must not be often that the Advisor is unaware of the level of his opponent. “You shouldn’t be too surprised to hear that the Spymaster kept a close eye on your arrival. It’s standard procedure, of course, all his reports.”

Jungwoo had seen the Spymaster precisely once, a cat-faced man with golden hair who leaned into Lucas’s ear and whispered a few words and then disappeared out of the door like a breeze at night.

“You didn’t have to memorize it quite so intently, I’m certain.”

Doyoung shrugs, in the most dignified way. “It’s my job to know. You are no exception.”

Jungwoo blinks at him. It’s rather sweet that Doyoung still believes that. He doesn’t realize that Jungwoo has always been the exception, has always been exceptional.

“How did you know about my time in the North?” Doyoung says, rubbing the back of his neck. The sun must be starting to prickle his skin under all those thick robes. “I wasn’t aware it was a matter known to the public.”

“Chatter among the servants,” Jungwoo says simply. “You seem to be quite the topic.”

Doyoung’s eyes widen in bewilderment. “I cannot begin to imagine why. I’m not interesting in the slightest.”

Jungwoo pauses, unsure if he should go any further — but Doyoung does have the most enjoyable expression right now, all confused. It’s clear that, unlike Jungwoo, Doyoung is unaware of how attractive he is, how the angles of his jaw make it seem as if he’s been chiselled out of stone.

“There were rumours that you took a lover of a most interesting nature.” Jungwoo observes the shift in his eyes, the way his pupils shake. “They say he followed you all the way home and you turned him away with tears in your eyes.”

When Doyoung speaks, it’s restrained. Forcibly so. “Certain things are not meant to last. He did not realize that. I don’t see how that’s interesting enough to justify gossip even years after the event, but I suppose it’s not my place to judge the comments of commoners.”

It’s a sore spot for Doyoung. Jungwoo likes knowing that, will remember that, so in future he’ll avoid it, except when necessary, and then he’ll pierce right through with his nails till he draws blood.

“What does my future husband want?” Jungwoo asks, and Doyoung appears startled at his bluntness.

“He’s finding himself overwhelmed by the burden of command. It’s perhaps my fault, I think I’m overworking him — but he is the reigning monarch, there’s things that need to be done.” Doyoung pauses. Dissatisfaction is thick in his tone. “I would like you to spend time with him. I think it will do him good to be with you. He’s calmer around you.”

“Spend time doing what?” Jungwoo asks, tilting his head to the side, eyes wide in fake innocence.

“The kind of activities between individuals who are joined by marriage,” Doyoung says diplomatically and he’s trying so hard to be as polite as possible that Jungwoo cannot resist ripping down his facade.

“Your suggestion is to have him fuck his frustrations out on me?”

Doyoung possesses more poise than predicted. The only sign of discomfort is the way his Adam’s apple bobs against the smooth lines of his neck. “I would not have you do anything you do not wish to do.”

“That’s what you’d prefer though, is it not?”

Born in these very walls, Doyoung looks so ill-fitting like this. The sunlight permeates through his midnight black hair, and his face has the pale quality that comes from a life that favours writing at desks than riding at sunset. It looks rather attractive on him, Jungwoo decides.

“Far be it from me to make any sort of assumptions or insistence about what you should and should not do together, I just merely wish for our King to be in a more malleable mood.” Doyoung regards Jungwoo with a look thick with meaning. “Is that not a common goal between us?”

Jungwoo wonders what the ambition between Doyoung’s teeth must taste like.

“It is,” Jungwoo says measuredly. “But it’s not the only goal we could have together.”

Doyoung raises an eyebrow. “I’m not sure what you mean, Your Highness.”

The sun is their only witness. Jungwoo smiles as he places the crown of flowers upon Doyoung’s head. The yellow daisies do make such a wonderful contrast with his dark hair, the green stems fitting along the path of his skull. Doyoung lets his hand run over the crown, bemused, fingers caressing the petals. He doesn’t remove it.

“Thank you for your gift, Your Highness,” Doyoung says carefully. “I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve this.”

“You’ve bothered to talk to me,” Jungwoo says, rising to his feet with practised gracefulness. He stretches his arms out. “I suppose I should get back to Lucas then. That is what you wanted, after all?”

Doyoung still wears the flower crown. “Yes, that’s what I wanted.”

He doesn’t sound sure. Jungwoo remembers that.

 

 

“May your wedding be prosperous.”

“Oh, Advisor,” Jungwoo says, not looking up from the mirror. “I hadn’t noticed you come in.”

His apparent indifference is not intentional — Jungwoo just can’t turn his head at the moment, pinned down by the tremendous weight of his wedding robe. Layers and layers of silk and satin and cotton trap him. Breathing too deeply hurts.

“I thought I’d deliver my congratulations in person. I certainly imagine you’ve been very busy lately. I did not have a chance to see you.” Doyoung doesn’t sound particularly affectionate. Someone like Doyoung does not get affectionate. But there, hidden in the crevices of his word, is an undeniable hint of fondness blooming like the first flower of the season, and Jungwoo turns around to look at him.

“Thank you for visiting me, Doyoung. I appreciate seeing you here,” Jungwoo says, wincing at the effort it takes to speak. His headache has become a resident, a result of the headpiece he’s expected to wear, currently fastened on his hair. The slight movement is too much, still, and jewellery drops from his necklace onto his lap and he sighs, forlornly. If Sunmi were to see, she would certainly fume.

“Could you help me with this necklace?” Jungwoo asks, staring down.

Doyoung cocks his head to the size quizzically. Jungwoo clears his throat, pointedly gazing at his lap, and it seems to click. His arms are weighted down by the sheer volume of embroidered fabric. It hurts to raise a finger.

“Should I call one of the ladies?” Doyoung asks, his hand on the doorframe.

“It’s not difficult,” Jungwoo says, and is aware how vulnerable he sounds.  He watches Doyoung’s face, observing every trace of emotion.

Doyoung pauses. “Okay.” It’s all that needs to be said. He closes the door behind him. Moves closer to Jungwoo. Visibly inhales the scent of apricots that wafts from his skin.

He plucks the medallion from Jungwoo’s lap with all the care of picking a rose. Heavy. Smells of metal and has the Kingdom’s crest engraved. Belonged to Lucas’s grandfather, according to Sunmi. Jungwoo thinks it’s ugly. Thinks if he had his choice, he would wear something clear and crystal.

He doesn’t.

Doyoung brushes against the skin of Jungwoo’s neck as he places the necklace around him, can feel the goosebumps on his flesh, can feel the hairs at his nape. It’s such a tender touch. His fingers shake as he attempts to fasten the clip.

“How’s that?” Doyoung asks. The chain is cold, but Doyoung’s hand is warm, engulfing and encompassing.

“Thank you.”  

Doyoung doesn’t move away immediately. “Your shoulders seem tense.”

“I’m not surprised. I have been in exorbitant pain for the past week,” Jungwoo says humorlessly. “It’ll pass after the wedding, I’m certain.”

Hesitantly, Doyoung places his hands over his shoulders, the place where the fabric meets skin. “If you want, I could—”

Jungwoo catches sight of his own shock in the mirror and masks it in a moment. “Please.”

Doyoung is slow at first, just small movements over his shirt, barely touching — but Jungwoo responds by hanging his head back and exhaling, and this seems to urge him on. His touch is still gentle, he still treats Jungwoo like he’s made of glass but he digs his fingers into the tightly wound muscles of Jungwoo’s shoulders and he releases a sigh that’s been trapped inside him.

“Your muscles are so stiff.”

Such is to be expected, Jungwoo carries more weight in this garment than most men do in the training yard.

“You must be suffering so severely.” Doyoung’s voice is distant, he may as well be underwater. “You don’t deserve that”

Oh. Jungwoo likes the sound of that. He shouldn’t have to go through this ridiculous charade, shouldn’t have to dress up in the clothes of dead kings. He’s destined for so much more. Rather than being constrained by laces and buttons, he should be set free. Should be worshipped.

Like he is, right now. Jungwoo’s sigh is soft as he relaxes further into Doyoung’s hold. His massage continues. “You must let me know which report from the Spymaster told you that this is what I needed. His information is clearly highly accurate.”

Doyoung doesn’t play the game this time. His honesty is raw. “I think I just knew.”

So Jungwoo also doesn’t play the game, and just says the truth.

“That feels good,” Jungwoo whispers, eyelids fluttering closed. His clothes have become a chain around him, weighing him down. The role he plays in his own wedding is a quiet and demure one, and it’s a role Jungwoo can play well — but that doesn’t mean he has to enjoy it. It’s one his body clearly rejects, and Doyoung’s tender fingers elicit the first positive emotion out of him ever since the preparations for the ceremony began.

“I only want to please you, Your Highness,” Doyoung says. He lets his fingers trace over bare skin now. Jungwoo had his flesh oiled and bathed in lotions and it is silky smooth. Doyoung’s fingers electrify the sensitivity of his spine.

“Then go harder,” Jungwoo says and Doyoung obeys. The tension in his muscles dissipates, replaced by something else, something distinctly more languid in nature. It’s difficult to be so restrained, to be completely unable to touch the way that he is being touched. Doyoung may not have bathed in rose water and apricot milk for hours like Jungwoo has, but his skin glows, and his lips are dark and red, and Jungwoo wishes to taste them, to devour them.

“Are you sure, Your Highness?” Doyoung’s breath is heavy against the skin of his ear. “I’m aware it’s your wedding day.”

“No,” Jungwoo says. “It’s Tuesday, and if you stop touching me, you won’t have a Wednesday.”

Doyoung’s ministrations go deeper into the muscle, and go lower, the flesh of his back reacting against his warm but secure hands. He won’t deny his urge to pull Doyoung down, to have the angles of his face cut against his fingers, but there has to be something said for the way Doyoung treats him with such reverence at this distance. Jungwoo’s restrained whimper is one he cannot stop, not when every single knot of his shoulders gets released.

There’s a knock at the door and it swings open seconds later. Doyoung steps back like Jungwoo burns. Perhaps he does.

“Oh, Advisor, I didn’t expect to see you here,” Sunmi says, brustling past, ignoring both of them in favour of hanging up yet another robe. Around her neck is a set of scarves, and there’s several clips clinging to threads of hair. “Something wrong?”

“Just came to give my congratulations,” Doyoung says, and Jungwoo has to admire how fast he recovers. It’s almost a different man from the one that was pouring over him a moment earlier, whispering such sweet words into the ears of a man about to be married.

“Well, be quick about it,” Sunmi says, and shoves Doyoung out of the way as she adjusts Jungwoo’s headdress. “I’ve got to present him in an hour, and there’s so much left to do. We’re running horribly late.”

“I’ll leave you, Your Highness,” Doyoung says.

“Don’t leave me for too long,” Jungwoo says, in a tone that clearly displays itself as a joke if Sunmi cared to listen — which she does not. Doyoung’s reflection in the mirror catches his smile, even as he seems to rush out of the door. Jungwoo feels his touch linger.

          

        

The changes are subtle at first, unnoticed by eyes that lack the necessary perspective. Jungwoo, of course, notices. At dinner, he stands behind Lucas's chair as he always does, eyes unfocused while his mind plays out visions of the future he deserves. Reveries are crashed when he hears Lucas clear his throat and a servant pull out a chair.

“Have a seat,” Lucas says and Jungwoo blinks.

“I don't sit,” Jungwoo says simply. There was several hours devoted to refining this specific etiquette, of standing behind his consort with a blank face painted with pretty makeup.

“Doyoung suggested to me that it would strengthen the appearance of our union if you were next to me,” Lucas says, smiling at Doyoung across the table. Jungwoo’s wedding ring weighs on his hand.

“It's just a thought that occurred to me,” Doyoung says, his face devoid of any expression.

Jungwoo sits carefully and cutlery appear before him, bread and wine shortly following. In his peripheral vision he can see the smile upon Lucas's face, blindingly bright. He looks straight ahead at Doyoung instead — and isn't it just such a coincidence that at in this position, the only thing he sees is Doyoung’s face.

“Thank you Advisor,” Jungwoo says, and if he simpers on the words it’s only because he knows Doyoung likes it, likes when Jungwoo widens his eyes and blinks at him like he’s the only person in the room worth looking at.

“You know I only live to please you, Your Highness.”

You will, Jungwoo thinks to himself.

 

 

“Doyoung?” Jungwoo calls and he stops dead in his tracks, turning around. For everyone else, he would merely slow down his pace and have them walk beside him. Jungwoo is different — and he’s glad that he’s beginning to realize. His earrings are like chandeliers, cylindrical diamonds which hang down. Jungwoo wants to tug on them with his teeth.

“Your Highness?” Doyoung says. “Is there something I could do for you?”

“Are you busy?” Jungwoo asks. It’s politeness, more than anything else. Doyoung is always busy — and he’s also always available when it comes to Jungwoo.

“Never for you,” Doyoung says. His eyes are wide and red-rimmed. He must be so tired.

“Would you accompany me to the baths? I need some relaxation and some good company, and I’m certain you could ensure both.” And then as an afterthought, because it’s clear Doyoung seems indecisive, Jungwoo adds: “And you’d protect me, of course. I’d be so vulnerable alone in the baths. It would be too easy for someone to just come in and turn the water red with my blood.”

It’s three breaths before Doyoung answers. Jungwoo knows because he counts them, observing the motions of his Adam’s apple. “In what capacity?” he asks.

“In any position you’d like,” Jungwoo says, eyes twinkling, and he turns on his heel — and isn’t too surprised to hear footsteps following him. Jungwoo trains him well, after all.

 

 

The guards raise no interest or objection at the way Doyoung follows the King’s Consort into the baths. Thick steam douses the room with musk and tranquility. Doyoung, in his stiff formal robes, must certainly be getting hot, drenched in the atmosphere but makes no move to take off a single layer.

Jungwoo has no such reservations and he sheds the satin wrapping itself around his body in a second and lets it pool on the floor, a mess of jewels and embroidery. He’s gracious enough to give Doyoung a few seconds of uninterrupted staring as Jungwoo pretends to busy himself by removing his bangles and rings — but when he raises his glare, Doyoung is still staring.

No, not staring.

Leering.

There’s unmistakable lust in his eyes as he passes over every curve and crevice of Jungwoo’s naked form, lingering on the shape of his collarbones, of the way his thighs meet at the crest of his long legs.

Jungwoo removes his earrings, and smiles. “Care to join me inside, Advisor?”

His pupils dilate.

Doyoung remembers himself and his eyes snap back instantly. “Your Highness, sorry, I—”

Jungwoo runs a hand through his hair, the colour of ripe tangerines. “What are you apologizing for, my dear Advisor? All I want to know is if you’ll join me in the water.”

Doyoung visibly hesitates. “I should not. I should not be here at all, I’m sorry, I—” and he turns, and Jungwoo would be offended or hurt if he hadn’t predicted this exact reaction.

“The door’s locked,” Jungwoo says smoothly. “It’ll only open when I’m done bathing, and I haven’t even started. But of course, far be it from me to suggest anything of you, Advisor. You can just stand there and watch if you like.”

Jungwoo steps into the water and the sigh that rips from his chest is sincere in its pleasure. The warmth floods through him, undoing the imprints of heavy jewellery and heavy burdens that have been placed upon him since he arrived. Only a fool would think the title Consort makes his life easier. Sometimes it feels that the rest of the Kingdom consider him as the King’s fucktoy and little else. He wades to the edge of the bath, and sits down, a position that gives him the perfect view of Doyoung, standing, absolutely bewildered.

“Oh, the water’s wonderful,” Jungwoo murmurs. “This is exactly what I needed.”

“Our castle is known for its natural springs,” Doyoung says, and his voice is as toneless as if he’s reciting from a book. Jungwoo wonders if it’s got anything to do with the tent in his pants. “The water is funneled through a system of aquifers underground, and pumped straight through. These private baths were constructed several hundred years prior, and were the sight for many parties. They have been constantly upgraded, as recently as the previous King—”

“Doyoung,” Jungwoo interrupts. He’s not in the least bit interested in the history of the waters he intends to fuck his husband’s Advisor in. “Could you pass me the oils?”

He’s good at following orders, Jungwoo picked that up months ago. Doyoung finally moves to the shelf and his fingers shift over the bottles, ratting in the case. “Which one would you like?”

“What do you think suits me?” Jungwoo calls back, letting his eyes drift closed, the water unlocking the tension from his muscles. He listens for Doyoung’s shuffling and footsteps and only opens them when he feels his presence next to him.

“Frankincense,” Doyoung says softly. He holds the bottle in his hand and Jungwoo interlinks their fingers together.

“That sounds heavenly. Thank you, Doyoung.”    

Doyoung’s breath hitches. It’s such a victory, truly. Had Jungwoo not known the finer nuances of Doyoung’s body, not known that despite his words and actions, his body betrays what he would not let himself admit what clearly lingers between them:

He wants Jungwoo.

Every single sign and word he’s said up to this point leads up to that fact, hanging in the air as thick as steam, held in their interlocked hands. He wants Jungwoo — and the question just remains if he wants Jungwoo more than he wants his King’s respect.

Doyoung’s hand slips from the bottle and it almost falls if not for Jungwoo catching it before it breaks upon the tiles. It would have been waste of such a luscious oil.

“Careful,” Jungwoo chastises, and turns back, uncapping the oil and drizzling it over his hand, letting the sticky liquid pour through his fingers.

“Anything else, Your Highness?” Doyoung says, rather timidly.

“You could start calling me Jungwoo. I wouldn’t mind — on the contrary, I’d like it.”

He can’t see Doyoung’s expression but can imagine it well enough, and it’s that thought that pushes a smile on his face.

“As you wish, Jungwoo.”

Doyoung seems to like his corner and when he drifts back towards it, Jungwoo lets him go without further question. Jungwoo settles deeper in the water, and perhaps Doyoung was onto something about his rambling of aquifers and plumbing — it always just feels so good to be in these baths, though perhaps even better with Doyoung here.

“Is there anything you can tell me about the Kingdom’s current affairs?” Jungwoo asks, stretching his shoulders out.

“Do you not get the briefs? I was certain I sent them to you, should I have a word with the page—”

“No, not the briefs,” Jungwoo says, enunciating each word. “I don’t care about whatever’s written on those censored papers. I want to hear from you.”

Doyoung visibly gulps. “Surely you can ask those things of your husband.”

And Jungwoo merely bats his eyelids. “What I get from my husband is not nearly enough to satisfy me.”

Doyoung’s glance lingers — and then he exhales raising a hand, and counting off on his fingers. “The General reports to me of troops gathered at the border, claiming to be a military routine, but I don’t know of many military routines that bring their own besieging equipment. They could be moving onto our neighbours. Or they could not.”

“Oh, that’s not nice news at all,” Jungwoo comments, unperturbed.

“And Minhyuk…” Doyoung pauses. “He sends me letters that cause me many headaches.”

“What does our Spymaster say?” Jungwoo asks, pausing as he lathers the oil over his skin.

“Distress among our people. Barren harvests. Disease. The elders don’t consider Lucas to be a king at all.”

Much of what Jungwoo had already assumed, but the confirmation is good to have. “It’s not just elders,” Jungwoo replies.

Doyoung’s eyes widen. “What are you implying?”

“I know you think the same,” Jungwoo says, and he’s been a little more bolder than he should but he chases after that look on Doyoung’s face. “And I do so as well.”

“Jungwoo, you… you can’t say things like that.”

“Why not? The only person who’d hear is you.” This game is fun, but the warmth is too enticing to deny him for much longer. Jungwoo lets his hands dip below the water and he sighs in relief as he runs it over the head of his cock. In such a room, there undeniable tranquility rushes over him and he’s been restless to touch himself since he stepped inside, since he saw Doyoung’s naked lust. 

“Jungwoo, what you’re suggesting is betraying our King.”

The swell of water is resistant but that just makes the wave of muted pleasure that rushes over him all the more enjoyable. “I think you have some ideas of your own.” He exhales breathlessly. “Of how you’d run things if you were in charge. Am I wrong?” 

Doyoung’s breath catches in his throat. His eyes are fixed on the unmistakable path of Jungwoo’s hands. “Would Your Highness like some privacy, we could talk later—”

“Am I wrong?” Jungwoo repeats.

How long can he hold out? That’s the question Jungwoo has poured over back and forth in his head. How long can Doyoung, the King’s Advisor, really restrain himself? He has limits, but limits so clearly defined are far too easy to tip over.

“No,” Doyoung says. His voice is strangely empty, like he’s talking from somewhere else. “No, there’s certain things that Lucas is incapable of. He lacks understanding of the subtle nuances of diplomacy and I know if I had the opportunity, I could sort out all of his problems in half the time.”

The words sent a shiver up Jungwoo’s spine at the same moment as he strokes down. He throws his head back and moans, unabashed, aware of Doyoung’s stare, memorizing every inch of him.

“Do you want me to leave?” His voice is a husky whisper.

“I didn’t— I didn’t say that, did I?” Jungwoo’s speech is stuttered, his face reddening. The air hums and sighs around him, his moans reverberating off the empty room, as he lets himself succumb to his hand. His blood boils.

“Your husband…”

“He’s not here. You are.” Jungwoo’s cock is slick through his oily fingers. His patience wears thin. “Leave if you want to — or come closer.”

Doyoung stares, hungry. It’s the staring game again and Jungwoo lets his tongue flicker out, licking his lips.

How long can he hold out? That’s what Jungwoo has wanted to know.

“The door is locked anyway,” is all Doyoung says as he all but rips off the jewellery adorning his body. He unravels the laces on his robes as he walks and pulls them off even as he dips his feet in the water, the rest of him following. It’s a pity really, like this Jungwoo can’t even admire the toned lines of his body, can’t see what lies beneath the line of his neck.

Doyoung is so close that Jungwoo can hear his heartbeat. Rapid and erratic. It’s a beautiful melody to his ears. Doyoung doesn’t touch him, not at all, but he stares at Jungwoo, his desire more naked than he is.

Jungwoo doesn’t stop touching himself, he doesn’t want to, doesn’t see the need in depriving himself— but he takes his other hand and throws it around Doyoung’s shoulders, panting in the crook of his neck. Doyoung’s tongue is heavy in his mouth, weighed down with his own want, unable to do anything more than breathe.

“Jungwoo, you’re so…”

“What?” Jungwoo demands, voice higher and higher. Doyoung’s skin is salty from sweat and Jungwoo lets his lips move over the curve of his shoulder, mouthing out his prayers that Doyoung would just touch him.

There’s reverence in his tone. “You’re so beautiful, you have everything, why do you…”

“I don’t have everything,” Jungwoo mumbles, jerking faster into his hand. He curls his feet around Doyoung’s waist, pulling him closer and his resultant gasp pushes him further to the edge. “I don’t have you.”

Jungwoo is delighted he looks up — just in time to witness the exact moment it breaks. It is that last vestige of self-control Doyoung was holding onto, his last lifeline, the last step of the bridge. And Jungwoo watches it snap, watches it shatter, watches it sever and Doyoung grabs Jungwoo’s jaw and pushes his lips apart and kisses him.

Jungwoo comes, whispering Doyoung’s name into his open mouth.

 

 

Jungwoo is patient. It’s always been a virtue of his. He is the lone dandelion that remains after the winter wind blows. He’s the lion lurking in the grass, long after the sun dims below the mountains. At first, and as expected, Doyoung disappears, locks himself in his tower, the only person moving in and out is the servants and his Spymaster.

He forgets Jungwoo has free reign of the palace, the only one who walks in the same shoes as a noble and a servant, and he so effortlessly takes a key from one of Jaemin’s acquaintances and waits for his prize to show up.

It’s been a gradual process, plucking Doyoung for his own needs. He had potential of course, but it needed to be nurtured, needed to be pruned. Doyoung was born and bred for serving royalty — and he could serve royalty just as well on his knees in front of Jungwoo. All this ambition locked inside his head was just being laid to waste, and Jungwoo knows that Doyoung needs to be made aware of his own power, of his own desires.

Because now Jungwoo has no doubts that Doyoung wants him.

The doors to the baths were never locked to begin with. He had never even tried to leave.

The tower door swings open, and Doyoung enters, a stack of papers under his arm and dark rings under his eyes. He doesn’t try to leave when he walks into his tower either and sees Jungwoo sitting on his desk, legs spread. It all happens very slowly. He raises his eyebrow, locks the door behind him, throws the letters on the floor and fits himself in the gap between Jungwoo’s thighs. He cups Jungwoo’s face in his hand and gazes at him with utter reverence before kissing him.

Kissing Doyoung is as sharp as he is, and Jungwoo would be weary to get cut on the way his tongue bleeds into his own. He’s fiercely passionate, swallowing him whole, his hands sneaking underneath his shirt, sliding over the curve of his ribs.

Their kiss deepens without any conscious effort, everything about the way they move together is overwhelmingly natural, like becoming one is a natural progression. Doyoung’s lips move to the crook of his neck, mouthing there, so lightly, as not to leave even the slightest of marks. 

“What would your husband say?” Doyoung whispers, and there’s palpable fear underneath the huskiness. His fingers dig into the skin of Jungwoo’s back, and he holds him so tightly, as if worried he’s going to be taken away from him.

“I wasn’t exactly planning on telling him,” Jungwoo replies, laughing as he runs a hand through Doyoung’s hair. “But if you want to, please be my guest.”

“This isn’t a joke,” Doyoung says, and his voice is grave. He rests his forehead against Jungwoo’s and his skin burns where they touch.

“Of course it isn’t. Do I not seem sincere to you?” Jungwoo purrs, and drags him closer, licking a line up his neck, over the Adam’s apple he so loves to stare at. A sound coils itself out of Doyoung’s throat.

“Jungwoo… what about Lucas?” he says, despairingly.

“If it’s a problem, you can just tell me to leave,” Jungwoo says, and pulls away, blinking innocently. He makes no effort to hide his arousal pressing against the fabric of his pants. “Just tell me to go and I’ll never bother you again.”

Doyoung does not even breathe.

“Or you could stay,” Jungwoo says, “and I could let you come in my mouth.”        

    

 

Jungwoo sees the look sometimes. When Doyoung's spent, cleaned the cum dying on his legs, cleaned Jungwoo and now lies on the bed, watching him carefully, the shape of his figure. There's that look. It's regret.

Not about Jungwoo, no, Doyoung is not ashamed of the feelings he possesses — but it's clear the weight of betraying his liege is a heavy one to bear. Jungwoo sympathizes, he truly does.

“Do you wish I was someone else?” Jungwoo asks him as he redresseses himself in the robes Lucas had bought for him.

“No,” Doyoung says instantly. “I wish I was someone else.”

“I hope you don't wish you were Lucas,” Jungwoo says mildly, “because you're better than such foolish fantasies.”

He looks back and Doyoung has his hands pressed against his eyes, blocking the world out. He hurts a lot today, more than he’s seen him in a while.

“If he finds out, he'd kill us both,” Doyoung says after a pause.

“No,” Jungwoo says, pinning his hair back. “He'd kill you.”

Doyoung's hand slips. “Oh.”

“Surely you've realized that, Doyoung. Lucas would never harm me.” Jungwoo is aware that he sounds harsh, but it’s necessary Doyoung realizes this. Of course, he would not pass through such a trial unscathed, but Lucas wouldn’t execute him.

He’s too sentimental for something like that.

“I watched him his whole life, you know?” There’s a wistfulness in his tone. “I grew up in this castle, and I was only a few years older than him. I was one of his first friends. I used to practise reading with him, teaching him the words from my books. We spent less and less time together as we grew up. But I still watched him.”

Jungwoo observes his face, cataloguing every emotion bubbling underneath. 

“From the outskirts, of course, from the window of a locked tower, but I watched him. He always liked being outside, fighting.” Doyoung pauses. “All I tried to do for so long was guide him, but it’s always been so difficult.”

“You’ve done your best, Doyoung,” Jungwoo says. As delightful as Doyoung’s nostalgia is, Jungwoo has a morning brunch with Lucas and several other diplomats he must attend. He doesn’t have the necessary time to unpack the guilt which chokes him. He grabs his earrings from Doyoung’s nightstand, fastening them in his ears, the yellow diamonds glittering, but pauses when he sees Doyoung’s distress. He leans over, brushing a strand of hair from his eyes. “Doyoung?”

Doyoung catches his hand. “I thought there was nothing in this world that could take me from his side. Even when I went to the North, and I found everything I could want there, when I found love, when they treated me like the family I lost, I came back.”

The earring was a set, Jungwoo found out. The earring of the sicklebill matched the tattoo that covered the expanse of his back, the tail extending down the curve of his spine. The North bestowed the mark on him, calling him their son, telling him he could come home whenever he wanted to. Jungwoo had spent many nights tracing the tattoo with his fingers and his tongue. Doyoung had always held him tighter on those nights.

They gave him their mark and Doyoung still came home.

“And now I’m here,” Doyoung says, softly. “And I’ve taken his Consort and now all I think at night is how to take his crown. Jungwoo, I never wanted to hurt him.”

“He’s not meant for this life. We both know this. He hates being a King,” Jungwoo says, and for once, his words are raw. There’s nothing underlying them, no secrets, no implications.

Doyoung doesn’t respond, just brings Jungwoo’s hand closer to his mouth and kisses the palm. “I think it was worth coming back. I got to meet you, and that’s all that matters to me.”

“I thought there was nothing in this world that could take you from his side,” Jungwoo repeats, almost a mockery.

Doyoung presses Jungwoo’s fingers to his lips. “But you’re divine, aren’t you?”

Jungwoo laughs, unable to resist kissing him there, even if he knows he’ll mess up his hair he just spent minutes combing. “You’re quite aware that I am not.”

“To me, you are.”

 

Doyoung is too comfortable for it to be his first time on the throne. He approached the dias with steady footsteps and reclined into the cushion, a smirk crawling up his face. He’s leaned into the chair, his spine moulded to the shape of its carved and curved backrest. Yellow diamonds line the headrest, as is the custom of the Kingdom. Rubies would look better. A sign of contentment escapes his lips. The armrest makes a hollow sound as Doyoung raps his fingers against it.

“Do you like it there?” Jungwoo asks, and Doyoung’s eyes flash upwards, as if he already forgot Jungwoo was there. Silly. He was the one who let him in.

“Suits me, doesn’t it?” Doyoung says, running his hands up and down the midnight fabric.

“You look good on it,” Jungwoo says, carefully observing the effect the compliment has on Doyoung’s face.

“Do I look better on it than him?”

It’s the insecurity that Jungwoo loves more than anything else. The confidence is what attracted Jungwoo to begin with, of course, and by no means is it anything but highly desirable, but confidence waxes and wanes, confidence can only get him to the pit, it can’t start the fire. But insecurity, that worry that Doyoung carries around as his personal anchor, those innermost thoughts about his own shortcomings is what drives him perpetually forward.

“Of course you do,” Jungwoo says, simpering. “Everyone would agree with me, if they could only see how much it suits you.”

Praise shines on Doyoung’s face. He relaxes into the throne, sighing in pleasure. He keeps his eyes on Jungwoo, hesitant.

“Is there something you’d like?” Jungwoo asks, not missing the unspoken request.

“We’d be equals,” Doyoung says, clearing his throat. “When we rule, we’d be equals.”

There’s more and Jungwoo waits for Doyoung to continue. It must be one of his darkest desires that he’s unlocking for the way he pauses. This is exciting, Jungwoo had thought he got through most of them ages ago.

“I wonder what you’d look like on your knees in front of me,” he says, the words coming out in a rush. “I’ve bowed in front of you a thousand times, but I’ve never had you bow to me, and I don’t expect you to, you’re the Consort but—”

Jungwoo’s lips curve into a smile. “You only had to ask, Your Highness.”

Doyoung’s eyes widen at the honorific. Jungwoo approaches the dais, and he doesn’t bow — he kneels, lets his knees brush the floor, and rests his chin on Doyoung’s lap, smiling up at him. “Is this to your satisfaction?”

Doyoung runs his hand through Jungwoo’s hair with reverence, interlocking the strands between his fingers. There’s the way he looks at Jungwoo, like he’s the sunrise at the end of winter. “It’s all I could ever want.”

“Don’t say that,” Jungwoo laughs, pressing a kiss to his thigh, burying his face into the fabric. “We have a Kingdom in mind.”

    Doyoung’s been so good. He really has. He reads all letters the Spymaster sends aloud to Jungwoo, he outlines Lucas’s entire schedule with him, he tells Jungwoo everything and anything he wants to know. He lets Jungwoo come first, and usually twice and he perpetually tells Jungwoo how beautiful he is, how lucky he is to even be permitted to touch him, much less kiss him, much less fuck him.

And he’s ambitious. He tells Jungwoo sometimes, when he’s inside of him, of how he’d run the Kingdom, everything from who he’d have as his General to what colour he’d have the drapes of the master bedroom. He’s thought about this, he’s thought about this for years, and finally, the thoughts are taken root into actions.

He’s been so good, and all while talking to Lucas everyday with a straight face, as if he hadn’t just came on his husband’s stomach the night before. Lucas is so oblivious to everything, has not even begun to fathom that the two people closest to him dream of his downfall, and it’s due to how perfectly Doyoung plays his part.

And it’s for this reason that he deserves a reward, and Jungwoo lifts his head up, dragging his hand up his leg and palms his cock, beaming at the way Doyoung gasps.

“Jungwoo, we can’t, not here—” is all he manages to choke out before he gives himself over to the moan that pours out from him like an overflowing bath.

“Should I stop?” Jungwoo asks in innocence, eyes wide. His hand continues its path, working him through his pants, feeling his growing hardness and Doyoung’s breathing stutters. “You’re right. Someone could come in and see. Wouldn’t want anyone to witness the rightful King before they’re supposed to, after all?”

He’s used his mouth to get him off only once before, on that first day in his tower and his moans had been so sweet and he’d looked at Jungwoo with such raw gratitude that Jungwoo almost felt bad that he never did it again — but it proved too powerful a reward, something that needed to be kept for only special occasions, when he’s been properly trained.

It surely must be a very special occasion to be in the throne room he’ll one day occupy.

 Jungwoo frees Doyoung’s cock from the confines of his pants with one hand, and strokes the base with the other. Doyoung’s eyes light up just from the anticipation of what comes next, must certainly have been hoping for this very event for a long time. The sound he makes when Jungwoo slides his tongue out and licks up and down the head is the most delightful he’s heard in a while.

His hands tighten in Jungwoo’s hair, pulling him closer. It’s a clear effort being undertaken on Doyoung’s part not to fuck himself into the warm heat of Jungwoo’s mouth, and it’s such a wonderful display of self-restraint that Jungwoo decides Doyoung deserves something more. He swallows his cock, and the resulting whimper is a melody to his ears.

There’s something about this that Jungwoo likes more than anything else, more than fucking or being fucked - it’s knowing the exact effect he has on Doyoung. He’s so intimately entwined with Doyoung, he can hear each hitch of his breath, catch every physical reaction, every clenched fist.

Jungwoo looks up and sees Doyoung’s lips are bitten red, and it’s amusing to consider that he was trying to hold back his sounds at all. Oh, Jungwoo really does like him. He won’t even deny it. He likes seeing the composed and noble Advisor throw decades of loyalty away for the mere chance to touch him.  

“You look so beautiful, Jungwoo, and I get to see you like this. I don’t understand why Lucas would let you out of his sight, you’re magnificent—” Doyoung doesn’t get to finish his praise, caught off guard by the way Jungwoo puls off, only to go down deeper again. He sinks down until he can inhale Doyoung’s flesh.

Doyoung’s voice goes high, like it always does whenever he’s close. Whispers his name, and no matter how soft, it echoes in the empty throne chamber.

His release is hot in Jungwoo’s mouth and he swallows it all, knowing that the image would burn in Doyoung’s mind for the rest of his life, would be the seed for every fantasy moving forward. He deserved this. He was just so good.

Even now, Doyoung pulls Jungwoo onto his lap and kisses him as eagerly as ever, still shaking, still recovering from the aftershocks, ignoring the taste of him still on his mouth. They settle together on the throne.

“I don’t care what Lucas says. You’re mine. You’re only mine,” Doyoung growls against his lips. His kiss is fierce, his tongue mapping out the inside of his mouth, hand gripping so hard into Jungwoo’s hair it starts to hurt.

“Aren’t you scared of my husband?” Jungwoo whispers, entwining their legs together. His knees ache from where they pressed on the stone tiles, and his throat hurts, voice cracked. Necessary inconvenience. 

“The only thing that scares me is not having you,” Doyoung says.

Jungwoo loves that Doyoung thinks he’s a good liar. It’s cute, really. Doyoung is scared of lots of things — all very rational things, but obviously so, Jungwoo has had the opportunity to find these out for himself. Doyoung fears his own ambition is a double-edged sword. Doyoung fears that one day his Spymaster will come for his own hand and head. And of course, Doyoung fears Lucas finding out and the repercussions in consequence.

But Jungwoo likes that Doyoung lies about it. He lies about it because he thinks that’s what Jungwoo wants to hear. And it’s a good skill that Jungwoo knows when he’s lying, ensures there won’t be any problems in the future, that they’ll always be clear.

So Jungwoo smiles, leaning in and kissing him again. “You have me, Doyoung. You always have me.”

 

 

They honour Jungwoo that year, the farmers. They stuff straws into effigies, figurines of the gods, of their animal forms and light them high. The flames illuminate the bones of Jungwoo’s jaw, and Doyoung stares, transfixed. Jungwoo looks away. He’s with his husband, today.

“We dedicate our harvest to you, Royal Consort,” they say, kneeling down, dirt brushing their pant legs. They hold up the crown, and Jungwoo lets his finger rest upon it. His finger prickles and he gazes upon the blood that wells within the cut.

“I am honoured beyond words,” Jungwoo says. His voice is always soft, because it’s how he’s learned to survive here — when you speak, you hold back the rest of your sentence.

“But I can’t accept this. Not when it’s my husband who’s responsible for all of this.” Jungwoo smiles. He hopes the King enjoys this harvest. It might just be his last one for a while.

Jungwoo places the headpiece upon Lucas.

He does look good in a crown of thorns. 

 

“What will you give me when you're King?”

It's this game they play, when they're lying in bed, sticky and sweat-soaked, too lazy to move, but too energized to leave, Doyoung's hand idly trailing up Jungwoo's arm, savouring the sensation of the hairs underneath his fingertips. Doyoung likes to touch, likes to claim ownership.

“I'd give you whatever you wanted,” Doyoung says, laughing a little. “Just tell me and I'll have it done.”

Specifically,” Jungwoo clarifies. “What would you give me?”

“You already have so much, Jungwoo,” Doyoung says, and he's not playing the game properly, so it only makes sense that Jungwoo plays dirty.

“You’re right. Lucas takes good care of me,” Jungwoo says dismissively, pulling the sheets closer to him, under the guise of covering his modesty. He doesn't need to look at Doyoung's expression to know he must be enraged. “He gives me whatever I want.”

It works.

“I'd keep you in the finest silk and velvet, personally tailored. I'd have a thousand outfits made for you in every style, all golden and glistening,” Doyoung says after a moment’s thought, moving his arm up to run through Jungwoo's hair, twirling the apricot locks.

“Don't I already look pretty enough?” Jungwoo pouts, and this is more like it, this is the fun part, this is the entertainment Jungwoo craved.

“Of course you do, my love, but I'd have clothes made that shows your power, your standing.” Doyoung lifts up Jungwoo's fringe, and he sighs in pleasure when he tugs at the hairs.

“And a crown,” Doyoung continues. “You deserve an actual crown, not that flimsy diadem, that inferior tin coin. I'd have you in gold with a thousand precious stones.”

“Oh, I like that,” Jungwoo breathes, and thinks of how his head of orange would look underneath the purest gold. “Rubies, I like rubies.”

Doyoung's hand drifts down again, massaging the muscles of his side, mapping the spaces between his ribs, counting each bone as if he wants to remember them. “And a throne. Our King makes you stand behind him when he sits upon his throne, even now. I would never, I'd have a seat for you next to me.” And he pauses before pressing a kiss to his navel to say, “Where you belong.”

Arousal makes itself evident in the way Jungwoo arches himself off the bed, giving Doyoung's tongue the space it needs as he licks up and down the planes of his stomach. “Tell me more.” His breath is heavy.

“I'd have an entire day dedicated to you. We'd have a whole festival that venerates your beauty. Your face will be immortalized by every painter in this land and the next. The world will know of you, and your flawlessness. Foreigners from distant lands will come to our doors and speak only the language needed to describe you,” Doyoung murmurs and his mouth drifts lower and lower. He pulls away the sheets, placing himself on Jungwoo's legs, gazing at him. Hungry.

These games don't always end with Doyoung's mouth over Jungwoo's cock. Sometimes they end with his fingers inside him instead. And sometimes they end with Doyoung slamming the door behind him, guilt radiating off of him like a wave.

They're always worth playing though, and Jungwoo's hands tangle in Doyoung's hand, encouraging him downward. He never restrains his moans, not when he knows it's Doyoung's preferred method of encouragement.

“What else?” Jungwoo asks, breathless. Arousal is electric under his skin, under the mere anticipation. Doyoung licks at the head, lips wet and sticky. His movements are steady, practiced, and he knows the precise manner to elicit the loudest response from Jungwoo, to make him come the quickest, to make him beg his name. “What else would you give me if you become King?”

When,” Doyoung corrects, harshly pulling off. He ignores Jungwoo's whimpers and takes him in hand, eyes fixed on his face, something like a smile even as slick drips off his lips and onto his skin.

Jungwoo likes when Doyoung is like this, when he’s possessive, when even as he worships his body, he takes ownership of it.

“When I’m King, you’d be mine and I’d spend all day on my knees for you. The whole castle will bow to me, but I’d kneel before you, and you alone. Only I’d get to see this,” Doyoung continues, his voice hoarse. “Only I get to see you like this. Only a King.” He runs a hand down the side of his face and Jungwoo shivers.

“So say it again. When I become King,” Doyoung murmurs into his ear, never relenting his stroking.

He's close. Jungwoo's eyes screw themselves shut and he tries to steady his breathing. “When you become King,” he corrects himself.

Doyoung presses his forehead against Jungwoo's, the heat of his breath fanning across his face, the rhythm of his hand increasing.

“What else?” Jungwoo’s voice is high and airy.

“I'd name a city after you,” Doyoung whispers.

When Jungwoo comes, it's while Doyoung kisses him.

“It’s a start,” Jungwoo decides.

 

The envoy from the North is broad-shouldered and smiles bright. There’s a tattoo that branches over his spine of an astrapia, and he wears it proudly, foregoing shirts more often than not. He and Doyoung converse in a language that’s unfamiliar to him, but he doesn’t need to know the words to know they’re laughing. They’re having fun.  Jungwoo doesn’t think he’s ever hated a man more

“Jaehyun,” Doyoung says, smiling so brightly. Jungwoo suppresses a growl. “This is the King’s Consort, Jungwoo.”

“It’s an honour to meet such a good friend of the Advisor,” Jungwoo replies, shaking Jaehyun’s hand. Jaehyun doesn’t seem to realize there’s no sincerity in that statement.

Lucas gets along with him fantastically. Jungwoo would enjoy the company of his brother in a time like this, a conversation is difficult to have, when Jaemin is called upon to work. Jungwoo had forgotten his privilege. A feast is called, and it’s such a wonderful affair really, a roast is served and the decorations are put up and normally Jungwoo would lavish such an opportunity and the resulting attention that gets placed upon him in events like these but it’s hard to enjoy. Not with Doyoung and Jaehyun seated next to each other, broad grin the entire meal, lost in their own conversation.

Jungwoo almost does something impulsive.

He doesn’t, though. He’s smarter than that. He’s the dandelion. He knows how to wait. That’s exactly what he does. So he does. He sits next to Lucas and sips his wine, the perfect picture of a Consort as he always is.

“I’ll see you later,” he whispers in Doyoung’s ear before they serve the dessert, “I think the King has an important matter for us to discuss in the Throne Room.”

 

“You don’t touch me,” Jungwoo instructs Doyoung, the second he sits on the throne, barely time to settle into the harsh angles of the chair. Moonlight is the only witness to this affair. “You don’t get to touch me.”

“Jungwoo, I—”

“I don’t think I want to hear you talk either,” Jungwoo decides then, and swallows down his cock.

And this is what he prefers, this naked pleasure on Doyoung’s face as he’s unable to contain himself, lost to the feeling of how good Jungwoo’s mouth is around him, of the rush that comes with sitting on the throne. None of this exists without Jungwoo, Doyoung as he is today, does not exist without Jungwoo. The man who trailed after Lucas with begrudging support is as dead as the wheatfields.

The room is nearly entirely dark, and silence is more important than ever, lest a guard interrupt their tryst, but that’s not of Jungwoo’s concern. After all, it’s not like he’s the one that would get executed.

Jungwoo's hands are on Doyoung's knees, like he's trying to claw his way inside of him. “This is mine. All of this is mine. You are mine.”

“It’s all yours,” Doyoung breathes out.

Jungwoo swallows, and this time it’s for him as much as it is for Doyoung. Something to taste besides the acid bubbling up his throat.

“It would do you good to remember that,” Jungwoo wipes his lips. “This Kingdom? It’s mine. And you? Mine too.”

 

 

Despite his fondness for the Advisor, Jungwoo does spend time in his martial bed, and not merely out of duty. Lucas would be unbearable if deprived of sex for that long, and as far as Jungwoo knows, he rarely makes use of the castle concubines. For all his faults as a King, Lucas is certainly adept as a lover. While Doyoung is undoubtedly more considerate, it’s quite relaxing for Jungwoo to just lie there, blissed out as Lucas fucks in the way he only knows how.

Lucas comes inside. The privilege of marriage.

“Do you want to spend the night in my quarters?” he asks Jungwoo, smiling shyly, as if he hadn’t just pounded into him.

“You go ahead,” Jungwoo replied, laughing to himself. “I’ll have to clean myself up first regardless.”

In the bathroom, he heats up water, dampening a cloth. Discomfort rises at the dried cum inside of him. He hears the telltale sound of his door opening, and assumes Lucas has forgotten something. His quarters are closely guarded, after all, he’s never been in any danger.

Jungwoo sees Doyoung’s reflection before he sees him, the glass painting a portrait of a man moments from murder. He’s never looked more desirable.

“Doyoung, what are you doing here…” Jungwoo murmurs. “Lucas just—”

“Left? Yes. I saw him.” His voice is tight. Doyoung takes a step closer, his eyebrows tightly knit together. “He was with you.”

Of course. What else would he be doing here?

“Doyoung, I certainly hope you aren’t upset at me or something ridiculous like that. You know I have duties as the King’s Consort—” Jungwoo begins.    

“When I saw him walk out here, when I knew he walked out because he had finished fucking you,” Doyoung’s voice cracks. “I tasted bile on my tongue.”

His eyes widen, but says nothing. There’s words left in Doyoung’s mouth, it’s anger that makes him stutter them out.

“He was here, he was with you, I couldn’t stop thinking of how he touched you.” He nears closer, pulls Jungwoo close to him, just to push onto the side of the bathtub, body shaking in rage. “How dare he, how dare he walk out like he owns you, like he has you, like he doesn’t know you’re mine?”

This is a new edge to the Advisor, and it’s one Jungwoo wants to dance on till his feet bleed. Jungwoo settles on the bathtub, blinking. “He doesn’t, Doyoung.”

Doyoung grips Jungwoo’s thigh, stares into his eyes, his gaze a haze of lust and desperation. “I’ve never wanted to kill someone more in my life. I wanted to devour him whole.”

Jungwoo’s moan reverberates in the bathroom the exact moment Doyoung slips his fingers inside. It’s slick — as of course it would be. He pulls out the sticky traces of the King, almost hypnotically. Jungwoo revels in delight, legs entwining around Doyoung’s waist.

“You’re mine. You should be in my quarters.” Then thinks better of himself. “No. We should be in his. Ours.”

Jungwoo nods, wordlessly. He had wondered, so many months ago, how long Doyoung would hold out, how long would it be before he succumbs to his own desires, to his own ambitions. As Doyoung fingers out the remnants of Jungwoo’s marital intercourse, Jungwoo wonders how long this particular facet has been locked. Wonders what will happen now that it’s set free.

When he comes for the second time that night, in the bathroom of his private quarters, panting into Doyoung’s shoulder, hand gripping the side of the bathtub, Jungwoo thinks he sees the flowers bloomed of seeds planted so long ago.  

 

 

The Spymaster knows. The Spymaster knows and appears not to care, most likely because of his own tryst with the lower lord with hair like cherry blossoms. It’s a position of historical celibacy, but this particular Spymaster does not seem to care about that particular rule. Jungwoo can hardly judge — typically the King’s Advisor does not fuck his Consort, and Jungwoo wouldn’t want to be hypocritical. The Spymaster knows and for this reason when he walks in, he doesn’t appear remotely surprised that Doyoung is on top of Jungwoo, currently sucking on his collarbones. 

“A letter from Kun,” Minhyuk says, sighing at the display he finds himself staring at. He holds it out but Doyoung doesn’t even attempt to unravel his arms from where they’re wrapped around Jungwoo’s body.

“I’ll take that,” Jungwoo says, holding out his hand, beaming politely.

Minhyuk raises an eyebrow but relinquishes ownership of the letter. It doesn’t really surprise him, it’s not even the first time he’s walked in on the two of them this week. Doyoung’s gotten bolder, so much so, and Jungwoo cannot deny that he’s finding this renewed confidence very beneficial to his own wellbeing.

“You’ll break Lucas’s heart, you know,” Minhyuk says mildly, hand on the doorknob.

“I’ll break Lucas’s spine if he tries to take Jungwoo away from me,” is what Doyoung whispers into his skin, soft enough only for Jungwoo to hear and Jungwoo blushes, holding Doyoung closer.

Jungwoo merely waves at Minhyuk. “Send Sir Chae my regards.” 

The door slams shut, and Jungwoo strokes Doyoung’s hair, gently maneuvering him to the side. Doyoung doesn’t stop the way in which his tongue worships his skin, lapping up the flesh like it’s delicious.

“Mind if I open this?” Jungwoo asks. It’s a formality. It’s not like Doyoung would say no. It’s not like Jungwoo would listen if he does.

Doyoung doesn’t bother looking up, just coils his arms tighter around Jungwoo. “Go ahead,” he murmurs. “Read it aloud.”

Jungwoo tears open the letter with his bare hands, fingers tracing over the jagged edges of the paper. He gazes at Kun’s neat writing. His penmanship is excellent, even if the words he writes contains the doom of their land. Jungwoo can’t stop a smile spreading across his face. “They hate him. They’re burning effigies of him in the town square. Kun’s trying to smother the flames, but the smoke has reached the surrounding areas. The people are angry. The people are loud. The people are starving and they want to eat Lucas alive.”

Doyoung sits up, staring at Jungwoo. His eyes are wide with something so unabashedly tender.

“It’s almost our time,” he says. His breath is unsteady.

Jungwoo lets the letter drop from his hand so he can caress Doyoung’s cheek. “It is. I hope you don’t have any regrets.”

“None when it comes to you.”

 

Jungwoo still likes playing that game. It’s a necessary procedure, he needs to be aware of where Doyoung’s loyalties lie, he needs to know what he’s facing in the future, needs to make sure his fangs are sharp to the world and soft to him.

They have a Kingdom in mind, after all.

“Doyoung,” Jungwoo says, interlacing their hands, pulling Doyoung up from where he’s kissing the lines of his abdomen. “This is bigger than us, you know? This isn’t mere future fantasies. We want the entire Kingdom.”

“And we’ll have it together,” Doyoung says, as if it’s the most simplest thing in the world. Maybe it is.

“But if you had to choose,” Jungwoo presses on, “if you had to choose between me and the Kingdom.”

Doyoung runs his thumb over Jungwoo’s wrist, absolute tenderness radiating from the point of contact. “That’s not an option. It will always be us together.”

This is just so sweet, but not what Jungwoo is looking for. He needs to play the game. Jungwoo needs to know if his priorities are in the right direction, now more than ever, now so close to the end. “There’s more at stake than our mere feelings. We need to be able to rule together, but also alone. In the games of crowns, things can go very wrong, very fast. If something were to happen, we cannot let our land face a worse fate than it would have if our current King resumed.” Jungwoo’s gaze is direct. “If you had to choose between the Kingdom and me, what would you pick?”

Doyoung stares at Jungwoo for a long time. He stares at Jungwoo the way he watches the birds outside from his tower window. He stares at Jungwoo the way he pours over one of his well-worn tomes. He stares at Jungwoo the way he looks at the throne.

And he says: “I’d choose the Kingdom.”

And Jungwoo smiles, because he always did love when Doyoung thought he was a good liar.