She thought it was a dream.
After all, she’s been having these dreams for a while now.
He walked into the room, his eyes widening as he took in her pale gaunt face.
The face that used to be so full of life and energy.
She closed her eyes, hoping that she would never wake up.
“Soo,” he whispered.
Her eyes fluttered open and she smiled up at him.
“Your majesty,” she said. “You came.”
He walked over to her and slowly bent down beside her. His eyes filled with tears as he raised a shaky hand to her face.
She let out a sigh as she relished the feel of his touch.
“It feels so real,” she muttered. “Your touch. I forgot how warm it was.”
“I’m sorry,” he said, gently resting his forehead against hers. Their breaths mingled together and she placed a hand onto his cheek, wiping away the tears that had fallen. “I-I’m so sorry.”
If she were to die now, she wouldn’t mind it as much.
She would rather die while dreaming of him.
“Do you forgive me?” she asked. “I have to know, your majesty. Do you still hate me?”
He grabbed her hand and raised it to his lips. “I have never hated you, Soo. I could never-”
“Then do you still love me?”
He let out a shaky breath. “I always have.”
“Then that’s enough,” she said, her lips tugging up into a smile.
Soo felt her heart drop when she opened her eyes.
She stared up at the all too familiar ceiling of her bedroom.
She didn’t want to wake up.
She wished she could fall into an eternal sleep.
At least she could seem him then.
But then she realized the left side of her bed was unusually warm.
And when she glanced down, she gasped when she saw him fast asleep beside her.
It wasn’t a dream?
She turned to her side and observed his face.
The face she was deprived of for over a year.
She traced a finger down the lines of his face—memorizing each groove and crevice.
“Do you realize you’re touching a king’s face?”
Soo gasped as his eyes fluttered open. She began to pull her hand away but he quickly grabbed it, locking his fingers through hers.
“W-Why are you here?” she asked. “How did you…I thought it was a dream.”
“It was your letters,” he said. “And Jung. He had sent someone for me who informed me of…your condition.”
His eyes fell as he remembered that she was dying.
“You’re cruel, do you know that?” he asked, his eyes still avoiding hers. “You said you would never leave me, that you would always be by my side. And then you left.” He took in a shaky breath. “And now that we are back together, you’ll be leaving me again.”
“Do you not trust me, your majesty?” She gently tugged at his chin so that he was facing her again. “I will always be with you. No matter what happens to me here, we will meet again. That’s why I’m not worried.”
His brows scrunched in frustration and she knew that he had more to say so she mustered all the energy inside her to pull his face towards her. “I never left you, your majesty. My heart was always with you.” She smiled before gently bringing their lips together.
He stayed for three days.
Three days of untangling every misunderstanding. Every lie.
Three days of reconciling.
Three days of basking in each other’s presence.
And on the third day, Jung stood silently by her bedside, watching the last breath leave her frail body. He looked over at the man beside him, watching the tears streaming down his face as he cradled her lifeless body against his chest.
Jung finally understood that he was a fool.
A fool for ever wishing that she could ever feel towards him what he felt for her.
Because this man sitting beside him wasn’t the king of Goryeo.
He wasn’t the fourth prince.
He wasn’t his brother.
He was simply a man who lost the one person he ever loved.
And so he finally understood.