Cale laughed when Yuri called the story of him and Alberu getting married as ‘the love story for the century’ with disgust in his face. Alberu, on the other hand, is too busy dodging the heavy novel with suspicious title Yuri has throw to comment. Cale know very well that his husband will says something in the line of ‘crazy’ if given the chance. It is good that he didn’t.
After all, story is only a story and only them knew the truth.
It, if anything, is probably them trying to marriage trap each other.
It begins directly—no sooner—right after they defeated the White Stars and Sealed God for good.
They are too alike that when they saw the aftermath of the war they just look at each other and has epiphany—“If I don’t marry him—“ they thought, as their eyes meet. Both of them smiled gently at each other, then. Raon instantly realized something is wrong but decided only to watch.
As a six years old dragon, he is wise and mighty and decided to just watch as another war on different nature begun.
“Listen,” Cale said, finger linked together under his chin, as he looks directly at Ron. “I want to… stop someone from getting married. Sabotage, if you may. What kind of rumor I should spread so those nobles will back down and stop shoving him their daughters?”
Much to his credit Ron didn’t even blink. Instead, the old man just smiled benignly as he asked, “Is this about the Crown Prince?”
Cales also smiled—lately he able to hide his flinch better. “I am just doing a favor for my Hyung-nim.”
If Ron didn’t believe him, he didn’t say anything to embarrass his puppy young master.
On other hand, Alberu didn’t even bother to consult other person as he send a discreet secret message to spread a rumor around the town—preparation to ascend as a King be damned. Alberu can’t help but wanting to pat his past self for raising Cale’s place as his dongsaeng. No one has dared to bring Cale into the discussion of marriage.
“Aunt,” Alberu said, instead. “We don’t really need a Queen, right?”
“Huh?” Tasha said.
“I mean, politic and networking—I can do it alone? And the matter with the Palace I can just leave it to the head butler.”
“I… guess so?”
Alberu hummed happily, already thinking about repurposing the back forest used as his little brothers’ hunting ground to a back garden that will be ready for farming in a year time.
He didn’t realize how his aunt’s wipes her tears, already thinking about how lonely her little Alberu will be in the near future. Oh, poor child.
It didn’t take long before the rumors begin to be whispered around. Many ladies have cried. Many men discreetly blow their nose. Many maidens have sighs and look forlornly at either the Palace or at the direction where the Henituse’s territory is.
It was a rumor so outrageous that it is believable because the crown has not stopped it from spreading.
“Poor Young Master Silver Shield,” one of the Madam hide her face on her handkerchief as she sat outside a teahouse with her friends.
“The Crown Prince is also very pitiful,” her friend said, blowing her nose as tears flow down her eyes.
The rumor is as such—Young Master Cale of Henituse Duchy and the Crown Prince is in love with each other. The love each other so much they won’t marry other. But in the same time, they can’t marry each other. Can’t be together because the Kingdom need an heir. Because the noble who want power and glory want to place their daughters as the Queen, as Cale Henituse’s wife.
It was a sad, sad rumor that touched many people heart. The nobles didn’t even dare to scoff and called it off.
“They did so much for us. So what if there will be no heir? Isn’t the Crown Prince having brothers? Let him raise one of his nephews as the heir! If they love each other then why those stupid old nobles want to stop them? Aren’t they sacrifice themselves enough!?”
And so, with the majority of people loudly saying their support, the nobles only able to stay silent and stop themselves from becoming the target of the ire. And even if they dare, all their daughters have a look that said they will kill themselves before coming between a true love.
“I am in love,” Alberu said blandly at Rosalyn who has a look that said she will send Alberu to Wintira’s adobe naked if he said the wrong thing.
Rosalyn raised her eyebrow. “He didn’t know,” Alberu said. “I don’t know about his feeling.”
“So, instead of confessing like normal person, Your Highness just…” Rosalyn makes a vague hand gesture.
Alberu shrugged his shoulders. Rosalyn facepalmed. Somewhere, on the same time, Cale is cackling white rubbing his hands together like a villain.
“He won’t have any choice but to marry me after this,” Cale said cheerfully at Raon who looks at him with big blue eyes that said pricelessly ‘you have your scammer look’.
“Human is so stupid sometimes,” Raon muttered, flapping away to talk to his mother.
Dutch and the Duchess both wiped their eyes as they read the newspaper. “Do you think we are stronger than the current King?” ask the Dutch.
“We are richer,” the Duchess said, straightening up. “And yes. I think we are stronger.”
“Pressure him,” both the Henituse Elder said together, a determined look in their face.
The King is angry. He is very angry. He originally plans to marry his first son to a daughter of his supporter to retain some kind of control over his wayward son and appease the Queen. Now, not only he will be unable to do so, meddling on his son’s private life will make the Henituse and their faction aimed their sword at him. The nobles on the Central is nothing, they can’t protect him.
The Queen is crying bitterly as she reread the letter. A pleasant letter talking about arranging a marriage. There is even a small chest filled with jewelry that valued more than the King and Queen’s current account.
Angry. And defeated.
“You see, I think it will be better if we get rid of the in-laws,” Cale said to Mary, one day. “They are troublesome and I think it will be better to marry into an Empire rather than a Kingdom.”
“?” Mary titled her head, not understanding.
“Roan Kingdom has long history, which mean a lot of custom and tradition on the royal family,” Cale said, patting the head of the sleeping red Cat—Hong—in his lap. “But Roan Empire will be new. My Hyung-nim will easily made adjustment—he promised already, after all. I still want to live as a slacker, you see.”
Mary nodded, understanding. “What should I do?” she asked.
Cale’s smile is bright and kind. Mary feels so touched—Cale will make his beloved an Emperor… so much love and devotion on this gesture. “Now, nothing drastic, I think,” Cale said, quite cheerfully. “Scare them a little? Blackmail, I reckon. Miss Tasha will be happy to help if you ask?”
“No, actually I just think his paternal family is troublesome,” Cale said to Ron who nods solemnly as he pours Cale his lemon tea. “Really.”
Alberu blinked slowly when he saw his family leaving the Palace from the window of his office. “Am I the King now?” he asked to the air.
As if it is the cue, suddenly many letters appeared on his desk. As if a dragon teleported it. As if.
The seal show that it come from many kingdoms of western and eastern contingent. Each petitioning the Roan Kingdom to turn into an Empire—for the sake of Young Master Cale we beg you Alberu Crossman.
And Alberu laughed, laughed. “You crazy bastard,” Alberu said, throwing his head back as he laugh. “What the fuck,” he said, again, with feeling.
What the people see are as bellow:
- The Crown Prince and Young Master Silver Shield didn’t meet at all for months. Unbeliveable. Unforgiveable!
- Suddenly the one who oppose their love story the most (the King and Queen) are leaving the Palace.
- There must be many tears and solemn vow of love to make it happens!
- Suddenly their Kingdom will become Empire—Young Master Silver Shield truly the star of luck, what a lucky subject they are to live in Roan that Young Master love!
- Wedding preparation????
Alberu is not heartless, he actually feels a bit (a lot?) guilty over the rumors that been spread. After all, because of the rumors, even if Cale like someone they won’t even dares to come close to Cale. Even if Cale confess his love to them, they won’t dare to accept it even if they return the feeling.
After all, no one will dare to become the villain who dares to separate the model couple (although they never appears as couple before—somehow Alberu is very worried about his subject’s imagination) of the nation—no, sorry, of the Empire. Especially when they will steal the newly crowned Emperor’s fiancé.
(Alberu still looking at his ring finger with surprise every time his eyes catch the spark on it. One day the ring is there—the most expensive and elegant ring one can buy with gold. It is there, on his ring finger when he woke up with no explanation at all. Alberu Crossman just decided to rolls with it.)
But the selfishness in his heart is stronger than his conscience.
That was why he is now standing in front of the altar—Choi Han behind him, crying silently while holding a box holding a pair of equally if not more expensive wedding ring Alberu can find. (It is so damn hard, thought Alberu resentfully. Why is the Henituse so loaded and Cale full of connection anyway? It is harder to one-up him!)
Every thought on Alberu’s head turned into dust when the door opens and Cale walk in though.
Cale is beautiful. Alberu know it. Handsome. Alberu also know it.
But this Cale who has a smirk in his face when he catches the look on Alberu’s eyes is just so… so…
“Oh, I know he loves me,” Cale said to Tasha who come with panicked look in her face not long after the rumors appears to make sure Cale is not offended. “It is clear.”
“You… you don’t mind?” asked Tasha, back then, as sweat running down on her face for various reasons.
Cale only smirked. “Miss Tasha,” Cale said slowly, chin propped on the heels of his hand. “You see, I always get what I want.”
Tasha blinked, only to smile when realization hit her like a boulder. “Even if it is my dense nephew?” she asked with a shit-eating grin.
“Even if it is our stupid Star of Roan Kingdom.” Cale nodded, solemly.
And Cale laughed as he reached out to take Alberu’s outstretched hand. Cale still laughing, smiling, when they take their vow. Cale’s eyes—sharp and yet so, so gently—never leaves Alberu.
Alberu, helplessly, smiled back as he leans down to kiss his Imperial Consort.
“I am sorry,” Alberu mumbles, kissing the back of Cale’s neck as they cuddle on their wedding bed.
“For what?” drawls Cale, his finger tracing pattern on the dark skin of Alberu’s arm he used as pillow.
“For trapping you in this marriage.”
Alberu jerked away when Cale maneuver himself to look at Alberu. “What are you talking about?” Cale asked, frowning. “I am the one who marriage traps you.”
It is now Alberu’s turn to mutter in confussion. “Huh?”
“That rumor!” Cale said. “The bride-price!”
“What? That rumor is my doing—wait.”
Both Cale and Alberu look at each other, realization dawned on them. Not long after, uncontrollable laughter filled the bedchamber.
“Oh, you are so dumb,” Cale said, laughing as he reached out to throw his arms around Alberu.
“You are so crazy,” Alberu retorts, holding Cale back. “I love you.”
“I know. I love you too.”
Until this day, neither Cale nor Alberu know how their clumsy attempt to marriage trap (romance) each other can be turned into Love Story of the Century.
(Dodori. It must be Dodori and his mother and Clopeth Sekka. And Rosalyn. And… oh Mary. Mary and Tasha. And Hans.)
“Maybe it is how people think you are holy,” Alberu said.
“Maybe it is how people think you are just,” Cale said.
In the end both of them decided to let the misunderstanding going on. It is just too troublesome to fix it and it didn’t bother any of them. If, in later years, it become a source of embarrassment (thus their amusement) of their heir, then it is just added bonus.