cinderella of sorts (pt. 4; finale)
synopsis: the crown shall sit upon your head, finally dispelling the loneliness and dread; he will be seated upon the throne, the future of the nation his and his alone ♤
modern royalty!au part 1: x part 2: x part 3: x ♤
word count: 3,061
“Go fish,” Mingyu sneered at you, sticking his tongue in your direction and nudging your foot under the table. You rolled your eyes as you drew another card from the pile. Seonghee laughed to herself as she watched the two of you from her position at the kitchen island, always amused by your intense games of Go Fish, but only intervening when Mingyu got particularly violent.
“Got any nines?” He asked, leaning forward slightly. You smirked and slid the card stack toward him. He groaned and took a card of his own.
There was a knock at the door, and before Seonghee could give her usual cheery “Come in,” Wonwoo stepped through the threshold. Mingyu’s cards flew from his hands onto the table and the sound of chopping ceased. Seonghee and Mingyu gave the king deep bows with their hands folded at their waists.
“At ease, Mr. Kim, Ms. Oh,” Wonwoo smiled, waving his hand at them gently. You grinned and waved the ridiculous number of cards in your hand at him to show you were losing.
“Don’t mind him, I’m sure he’s just come to watch me be destroyed at this stupid game again,” you joked. Mingyu and Seonghee suppressed their laughter, still not comfortable with the new king being so casual with them. You got up to hug and kiss him on his cheek.
“You’re late for your appointment with the queen, you terrible Go Fish player,” Wonwoo quipped. You gasped and yanked off the flour-dusted apron that covered your skirt. Your friends’ farewells became faint as you paced down the hallway. Wonwoo’s soft footsteps across the carpets followed you, and he nearly ran into you when you came to a sudden halt, looking at your wrist.
“Wonwoo! It’s only 3:30. I don’t meet your mother until four,” you grumbled at him, exasperated. He gave you one of his smug smiles and took your forearms in his hands.
“Oops,” he shrugged, leaning down to peck your forehead.
“You just didn’t want me to be with Mingyu anymore,” you teased, gently shoving his shoulders away from you. “Oh, you’re insufferable.”
“That’s really not something someone who’s getting married to me in a few weeks should be saying already.” Wonwoo squinted before reaching up to brush an eyelash off your cheek. “Are you excited?”
“Of course!” You exclaimed, inadvertently rising on your toes. “That’s why I was with those two. I’m afraid I won’t be seeing them as often.” While you pouted, Wonwoo took your hand and pulled you into a side meeting room as two butlers were passing through the hall.
He seemed to be considering your expression for a while. “Never be afraid to tell me if you’re unhappy, Y/N.” Tears pricked at the back of your eyes from the genuine aura of his features. “I am elated that I have the honor to be with you my entire life. But please, darling, don’t ever replace your happiness with mine.”
You ran your thumb across his cheek, where a ray of sun landed from the window. “Being the queen of this wonderful country you’ve built is all the joy I think I’ll ever need. Going from a servant to a bride, your bride, is something I’ll never regret.” You leaned toward his ear. “Also, not having Mr. Gye to boss me around all the time will be a plus.”
Wonwoo chuckled, pulling you to him. The soft fabric of the maroon cardigan over his white button-down slid across your cheeks, making your heart even lighter. The king himself was holding you to his chest. “Not to mention that Mingyu boy won’t be anywhere near you anymore.”
“You jealous devil,” you giggled, running a palm across his broad back. “Seonghee would have my head if I tried anything with ‘that Mingyu boy’.” The two of you finally broke apart and you checked your watch again. “I have to go.”
“I’m coming with you,” he retorted, opening the door to escort you out.
“Absolutely not. I’m showing her the dress for the first time today.”
“And you’re not allowed to see it until the ceremony!” You waved to him, making your way down the hall as he stood alone. “Go to your meeting with the chancellor. I know you have one today.”
He shook his head at you, the ghost of a smile on his face, and turned to walk the other direction.
“Oh, how beautiful,” the queen breathed, clapping her hands together at the sight of you. The two court ladies holding your long veil behind you hummed agreements. “Wonwoo will love it, darling. The people will love it!”
“I certainly hope so,” you smiled at her, your voice a bit higher than usual from the constriction of your torso. The queen positively lit up at the gown adorning you. Her once grief-trodden frame finally sat a bit straighter, her smile returning to its old brightness, at the prospect of her son’s marriage. In a way, you felt even more enthusiastic for her than yourself. The tragedy of losing her husband and having to guide her relatively young son to the throne was seemingly insurmountable, but she accomplished it with poise and dignity. “Perhaps, Your Majesty, I look half as lovely as you did?”
She threw her head back with mirth before standing from her seat on the cushioned stool of the dressing room. Her hands found your shoulders. “You are an absolutely stunning young woman with work ethic and generosity on top,” she said. “If I am half the queen you are going to be, well, I am greatly satisfied.” Her fingers traced the intricate outlines of lace that ran down your arms. “I always thought that His Majesty and I would have to marry Wonwoo off to some girl he loathed. The idea haunted me, really. But I am so glad he has you.”
A tear slipped down your face, and your shaking hands quickly flew up to wipe it away. The queen nodded in understanding. “What the Hans took away I hope to restore,” you whispered. “I can never bring His Majesty back, but that smile is surely enough to help us all through.”
“How was Mother?” Wonwoo asked, pulling a thick volume off one of the hundreds of shelves that lined his study. He plopped down next to you and pried it open, the reflection of its text appearing to you in his round glasses.
“Wonderful to me, per usual. She’s looking healthier too,” you added, grasping the hand that wasn’t balancing his book. “How was Chancellor Kang?”
He did not answer for several moments, instead knitting his brows at the book. He turned a page. “Still not happy with me. I’m marrying ‘some servant girl’ and am ‘too involved with the investigation.’” You instinctively drew your hand from his, but he caught it. “Don’t worry. He hasn’t changed my mind at all.”
You reached over and closed the book, earning a confused look from Wonwoo. “Promise me you won’t regret it.”
“What brought this on?” He took off his glasses and rubbed at his eyes.
“You asked me earlier. Promise, Wonwoo,” you pleaded. His confusion morphed into concern and he leaned into your side, offering his smallest finger to you.
“I promise I will not regret marrying you a day in my life, Y/N,” he mumbled, his lips just centimeters away from your ear. He kissed the supple skin below it while you hooked your finger around his, a smile creeping onto your face. “There’s that smile!”
A blinding grin of his own overtook his face. In the dim light of the room, surrounded by the faint evening rays and the smell of parchment, you took his cheeks in your hands and kissed him tenderly. His hands laid flat on the small of your back, his fingers twitching with delight. You only pulled away so you could look in his deep brown irises.
“I was thinking after your coronation last week,” you began, “how genuinely happy you looked. You haven’t been smiling as often since… well. But watching your face as you scanned all those people in the cathedral, and the parade afterward. Sitting next to you in that carriage as you waved to your people is probably one of the happiest images of my life.”
His thumb caught a stray tear that escaped your eye, and after looking back at you dumbfoundedly for several moments, Wonwoo whispered, “I love you.”
“I love you, too,” you replied. You pulled his hand from your cheek and stood up. “Goodnight, Wonwoo.”
He shot up from his seat and caught you in a crushing hug. “Stay with me tonight?”
You giggled and pried his arms off. “No! I have to finish Go Fish with Mingyu!”
The early light that broke with sunrise slipped through your curtains and warmed your cheeks, but could not avoid your eyes until they fluttered open. The fine silk of the sheets still felt foreign to your skin, as you were used to the small, cotton-covered bed in the servants’ quarters. You floated through the blissful dimension between your dreams and reality for several moments, before the realization of the day itself hit you, sending a thrill down your spine.
You sat up in the massive bed, squinting your eyes to adjust to the honestly beautiful hue coming from the window. The mahogany bed frame and furniture became even richer colors underneath this spotlight. Or was that just your imagination?
“I’m getting married today,” you mumbled, as if to reassure yourself that it was a true future of yours and not some vision. “I’m marrying King Wonwoo today,” you repeated to the window, like the citizens could hear your affirmation.
It was already obvious that it was a beautiful spring morning swirling about the palace; the feeling of blossoms and renewed life seeped into the palace itself. The elaborate carpets were a more vibrant red, the sky a more striking blue. You poked at the remote, making the television light up with a random news channel with excited voices that followed you as you paced about the room, slowly brushing your hair.
“Of course, the wedding of King Wonwoo and Ms. Y/N is taking place this afternoon at the palace, with leaders traveling from across the world to witness the truly historic event. Tourism has skyrocketed as admirers flow into the capital to watch His Majesty proclaim his dedication to the future queen! The event has captured the hearts and imaginations of us all… It is, in a way, a Cinderella story.”
You let out a huff of laughter, your lips curling upward at the childish comparison, the same one Seonghee had made after the assassination. A slipper had never been left alone on a mysterious night, nor had you seen any pumpkin carriages around, but Wonwoo was living up to every qualification of Prince Charming. How lucky you were.
The dark wood of the door received several loud taps that tore your attention from the television. “Come in,” you called nonchalantly, turning back to your dresser to put your brush down. A pair of strong arms encircled your waist, and when your gaze snapped up to the mirror, you saw a sleepy Wonwoo nuzzling his chin onto your shoulder. You gasped.
“Wonwoo!” You shouted, half angry and half overjoyed. He withstood the surprised slap you gave to his shoulder, the fabric of his casual hoodie wrinkling there. “You’re breaking tradition. Wow, if your mother saw you now.”
“I missed you and I didn’t sleep well,” he murmured, pulling you down to sit on the edge of the bed with him. “I was too excited.”
The faux angry expression of yours quickly melted into a flustered smile and a dusting of red fell over your cheeks. “Or you got Mingyu to sneak to your quarters and play League of Legends with you all night until he had to leave for the kitchens to make breakfast.”
His silence and the cocky grin on his face was all the answer you needed, so you dragged him back to the door, kissing each of his cheeks. “Go eat something. The ladies-in-waiting will be here for me at any minute.”
He rolled his eyes but kissed your forehead nonetheless. “You’re going to look incredible. Love you.”
Vibrant memories of Wonwoo’s coronation flooded your mind as you stepped out of the limousine onto the regal red carpet the fell across the steps up to the cathedral. It was the same mighty building you had been in months earlier, watching your fiancé take the life oath to protect the lives and liberty of those in his dominion. But the sweet thoughts were replaced by the flashes of a thousand lights as journalists and citizens behind police barriers snapped the public’s first view of your flowing wedding dress. The two court ladies following behind you to hold your trailing veil and skirts scurried after you.
Cheers erupted, with screams of “Look this way, Your Highness!” and “Oh, Ms. Y/N!” flying to your ears. You smiled to them all good-naturedly from behind the partial shield of your veil, gripping your bouquet with one hand and waving at a group of children with the other. Palace guards drew open the cathedral doors while you slowly ascended the stairs, lifting your skirts to match your steps. You curtsied to the guards, earning surprised looks from them but equally grateful bows in return.
The already loud chatter in the cathedral exploded with people turning to one another before frantically pointing at you in amazement. Words seem to fall away from the audience’s lips and the hall was quiet for a few moments, needing a while to absorb the magnitude of what was happening. The aisle was long and the only reason your hands weren’t blatantly shaking was their grip on your skirts.
But you saw him and everything melted away.
It was a uniform Wonwoo had never worn, certainly custom-made for the day. A smart navy-blue jacket fit over his broad shoulders perfectly, adorned with medals and cords, with pressed pants and shining black oxfords to match. Your eyes finally travelled up to his face. His gaze was following you from the door to the altar, the smile on his face only wavering when what looked to be untroubled sighs escaped him. When you reached the small steps leading up to the altar, a white-gloved hand reached out to help you. You placed your fingers in his palm and gave a soft smile to the court ladies who assimilated in the crowd away from you.
“Darling,” was all he could whisper to you. The priest looked between the two of you, as if to remind you that there was a ceremony to be done, and Wonwoo gave him a certain nod and a wink.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here today to perform the unitization of His Majesty the King, Jeon Wonwoo, and this woman, Y/N Y/L/N,” he spoked assuredly. Wonwoo took both of your bare hands in his and faced you fully.
“Jeon Wonwoo, wilt thou have this woman to thy wedded wife, to live together according to the estate of matrimony? Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto her, so long as ye both shall live?”
Wonwoo took a deep breath and said, “I will.”
“Y/N Y/L/N, wilt thou have this man to thy wedded husband, to live together according to the estate of matrimony? Wilt thou love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto him, so long as ye both shall live?”
Wonwoo’s thumbs stroked the back of your hands as you answered, “I will.”
The priest brought forth the rings and Wonwoo plucked the dazzling gem off the pillow while you took his silver wedding band.
“Bless this ring, and grant that he who gives it and she who shall wear it may remain faithful to each other, and abide in peace and favor, and live together in love until their lives’ end.”
Wonwoo slid the glittering ring onto your finger, and you adorned him in return.
“Forasmuch as Wonwoo and Y/N have consented together in wedlock, and have witnessed the same before this company, and thereto have given and pledged their troth either to other, and have declared the same by giving and receiving of a ring, and by joining of hands; I pronounce that they be man and wife together. Please join me in congratulating them, the future of this nation. Your Majesty, you may now kiss the bride.”
Your husband wasted no time in drawing your veil over your head before bringing his lips to yours as the echoes of cheers and whistles filled the cathedral to its high ceilings. You could feel Wonwoo smiling before you even broke apart. He carefully led you down the stairs and linked elbows with you, smiling and nodding to officials and world leaders as you paraded along, your hand gripping his bicep. The paparazzi outside practically fell over each other to get an image of the newlywed royalty. The door of the limousine held open by a palace guard was a warm welcome after all the noise. Wonwoo slid in next to you, surrounded by your never-ending skirts, and kissed you again behind the tinted glass.
“Sorry, I just couldn’t get enough.”
Wonwoo threw open the door to your new living quarters, in a more private wing of the castle with a separate entrance and décor chosen for you by the queen. She had been happily preoccupied for months putting it together.
“Our flight isn’t until ten tomorrow morning,” Wonwoo hummed, setting his wedding band on the dresser and removing his gloves before replacing the ring on his bare skin. He discarded his shoes and sauntered over to you while you slipped your veil off. “I have you all to myself until then.”
“Is that so?” You smirked, shuddering at the feeling of his breath on your neck while he unzipped your dress for you. His warm palms ran up and down your bare sides while you messily undid the buttons of his suit and shirt.
“Don’t get too excited, now,” he chuckled. “We have our entire lives before us.”