(The Epilogue for the Reign on Me series)
Two years later; Ten years after the war.
“Well, this scene is certainly familiar, Minx.”
She glanced to the mage standing beside her in the large valley, below the tall walls that hid the back fields of the castle. His imposing figure, lean and muscled was encased in white silk embroidered with gold along the slits of his jungchimak and the sleeves of his robes. His hair was cut severely short and close to his head and he had the most peculiar shade of steeled blue irises.
“A different valley, a different kingdom and, yet, familiar indeed, Min,” she grinned up at him before taking in their surroundings.
The lush valley of deepest green was dotted with many tiny flowers, their petals cast with a silvery light from the moon high in the indigo sky. Although they were quite far from the castle itself, they could still hear the faint sounds of chaotic bliss. Indeed, the faint glow from the ballroom could be seen from beyond the castle walls.
The mage looked down at her, affection evident in his eyes. Dressed in hanbok that had skirts which puffed around her as she sat like the thick, big petals of a lily, she looked exquisite with pale gold lace at her collar and sleeve cuffs. Beneath her, face-down was the hwalot she had worn much earlier. It had been embroidered with flowers of ivory-white petals and emerald-green leaves; the night flowers which meant so much to her. To him. To them.
Sungmin had cautioned her from using such a beautiful piece of clothing like a mat to sit on, but she had reassured him that cleaning would not be an effort. Indeed, he could deny her nothing that day as her amber eyes shone so brightly, her hair held out of her eyes for that day. Her hair was short, the locks braided like a crown in the front, jeweled combs flashing diamonds and emeralds to keep her hair secured and decorated.
“I do not regret the paths we have both taken which have brought us here today,” Sungmin said as he gracefully sat down beside her, uncaring that even his paji were pristine white.
She leaned into him, her head coming to rest on his shoulder as she looked up at the night sky; “I am so completely… wholly happy, Sungmin. Please say that you are, too, because if you are not then my world is not as perfect as it appears to be… this night, anyway.”
Sungmin’s laughter was soft and warm as he leaned his head until his cheek brushed the top of her head, one of her jeweled combs slowly attempting to slice into his temple, “You may have gotten married today, but I am even happier than you must be. Indeed, I’ve probably been happy for far longer, too, especially since my love has been long acknowledged and, although yours may have been two years ago, you led your prince on a merry chase.”
“It was hardly a merry chase. I just decided to do my courting outside of the bedroom, unlike you and your prince,” Taeyeon scoffed in mock-annoyance.
“That we did,” Sungmin acknowledged easily enough. He sighed the sigh of a man much contented; “Although it was your wedding, I must say it was quite a perfect day, the ceremony a definite highlight in your life.”
“I did look spectacular,” Taeyeon laughed lightly; he knew her arrogance was forced. “Of course, you look quite handsome in your formal robes as well, Sungmin. I know my brother was touched that you wore your Mage of Light robes even though you’ve been living in the Dark Kingdom all these years.”
“The highlight I meant was when it was evident your brother was about to object to the marriage,” Sungmin grinned, his teeth flashing in the moonlight; “You should thank Kangin before you leave for your honeymoon. I’m sure it was only because of him that Eeteuk relented.”
“So, I wasn’t imagining that awkward pause,” Taeyeon shook her head slightly even as it remained resting on his shoulder, causing the jeweled comb which had been pressing precariously into Sungmin’s temple to now swipe at his skin threateningly. “You don’t suppose Teuk will become easier on Siwon now that we’re married, do you?”
Sungmin snorted inelegantly, “If anything, he’ll probably become worse because now he has officially, most certainly stolen away your brother’s precious, much loved sister. He’ll probably even make a greater fuss once you have a child.”
Taeyeon raised her head from his shoulder long enough to punch his arm, “I only got married at sunset! Don’t talk about children all of a sudden!”
“It’s the logical progression of things,” Sungmin shrugged right before she leaned her head on his shoulder once more; “But which kingdom will you choose, Taeyeon? Which kingdom will your firstborn represent?”
“As much as I love my brother, it is only right that my and Siwon’s first… first s-son,” she stammered, her face heating, “It’s only right that our… he will be Siwon’s heir.”
“Are you sure your brother won’t fight it? He might pit mage against mage,”
It was Taeyeon’s turn to snort in a most un-princess-like manner, “Just because you’re now a full mage,” her gaze fell upon his fully shorn hair, “doesn’t mean you can go against a mage of Kangin’s caliber.”
“It doesn’t help that there are a handful more training to become mages this year,” Sungmin said. Then, turned to look at her, “At least your brother would never be so foolish as to bet against you in a fight against Kangin.”
“My control isn’t so perfect,” Taeyeon warned,
“No, but you have control, which is enough. It only took you a year and yours is a magic that cannot be contained by the spells of Kangin and Eeteuk combined,” Sungmin reminded. He reached over, tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear; “If you ever do gain the same skill as Kangin, you will be the most powerful mage, Taeyeon.”
“It took me a half a year to gain all of my magic back… I’m just grateful I have control, I don’t need to learn to utilize it,” she insisted softly; “Even Siwon can wield his magic better than I can.”
“Speaking of your husband, do you think he’s noticed you’re missing yet?” Sungmin asked, amused as he took her left hand into his hands, gently massaging her hand which he knew was probably stiff again.
The princess snorted once more, “He probably knew the moment we left the ballroom. No, no, he probably knew the exact moment when you grabbed my hand almost immediately after I danced with my new father-in-law.”
“I’m sure that, had the king not known of the nature of our relationship, he would never have allowed me to steal you away,” Sungmin commented; “His son, on the other hand, is a little more possessive.”
“Siwon knows that something happening between us is even less likely than Kyuhyun taking a concubine as his wife,” Taeyeon defended, although her quiet tone denoted that she was fully aware of how selfish her husband could be when she was concerned.
“Consorts,” Sungmin corrected lightly,
“When they’re still flirting with Siwon even after our wedding ceremony, then I can start calling them concubines,” Taeyeon countered, a bite in her tone.
Sungmin laughed as he raised her hand to his lips, brushing a kiss to her knuckles, “Oh, Taeyeon, I will miss you this week you’re gone.”
“But, we’ve spent months away from each other before,”
“And I missed you each and every one of those days,” Sungmin stated, “But since you practically lived here the past month planning your wedding, I became accustomed to having you around every day, again. I’ll have to learn to live without seeing you every day, again.”
Taeyeon leaned over and brushed a kiss to his cheek, “I’m sorry, Min, but I need to learn to live with my new husband every day now. You’ve lived with Kyuhyun for years and, now, it’s my turn to live with my prince.”
“I guess,” Sungmin sighed with mock-drama, “Can’t you un-marry him?”
Taeyeon laughed as she leaned her head on his shoulder once more, “Now that I’m a princess of the Dark Kingdom, you’ll see me way more often than before.”
“Not true,” Sungmin practically pouted, “You’re moving into one of the royal estates in the Light Kingdom.”
“Well, I am my brother’s proxy… I need to be close to him – married or not,” Taeyeon grinned as she closed her eyes, relishing in having her hand massaged; “You have no idea how scared I was when I asked Siwon if he would move to the Light Kingdom instead of the reverse.” Her voice grew impossibly soft as she admitted, “I was almost scared he wouldn’t want to marry me anymore… I mean, who ever heard of the prince going to live in the princess’s home? Let alone in her kingdom…”
“Siwon would never have done that,” Sungmin stated, startled,
“I know, I know, but I can’t help it… even now I still can’t believe he married me,” Taeyeon blinked back the hot threat of tears, “I never imagined I’d ever be this happy, Sungmin.”
“Can you imagine if we had gotten married?” Sungmin laughed, “What madness did we have to come up with that scheme?”
“We would have had a lot of laughter and happiness and love,” Taeyeon defended and, then, added, “Granted, not a romantic love, but that’s still a sight more than most political marriages.”
“Hey, Taeyeon,” Sungmin murmured after a moment of silence,
“Hmm?” She hummed, acknowledging she was still listening even as her eyes were closed, her entire body relaxing against his side even though it was just her hand being massaged.
“Now that you’re married, things aren’t going to change between us, right? We’ll still be best friends?” Sungmin asked softly,
“The very best of friends,” she replied, reaching across with her other hand, squeezing his arm affectionately, “Just because I’m married doesn’t mean anything has to change with us. Siwon’s been a part of my life for two years and that hasn’t affected us so far.”
“Not true, you take his side more often than mine,” Sungmin argued,
“Okay fine, then, next time I take his side because he’s my husband, I’ll give you a sign that I’m really taking your side,” Taeyeon offered, amusement colouring her tone.
Sungmin sighed, “It’s not the same. I take your side when you argue with Kyuhyun.”
“When? Kyuhyun and I never fight. We’ve never even had a disagreement… it’s like we’re one mind sometimes,” Taeyeon countered,
“Well, if you two did disagree on something I would agree with you,” Sungmin muttered, his tone petulant.
Taeyeon laughed lightly, her laugh like soft music in the quiet night.
“You’ll still write me every other day?” Sungmin prompted,
“Since I’ll be living with Siwon now, you’re the only other person I write to, so that’ll certainly not change,” Taeyeon insisted,
“Even if you have to spend more time with Siwon? You might find you have more things to keep you away from the writing desk and in your bedroom instead.”
Taeyeon playfully hit his arm as her face heated up immediately, “Stop it.”
Sungmin sighed heavily, “I suppose it’s time we head back to the ballroom. Almost time for you to leave for your honeymoon.”
Taeyeon glanced over her shoulder, the high, stone walls protecting the castle not far from them. She could see the moving shadows of the guards doing their rounds, knew that if Siwon ever did worry, the guards could placate him with her location details. She adjusted her left hand in his so that she now held his hand, too, their palms together. Leaning her head against his shoulder, she snuggled up against his side.
“Just a few more minutes,” she insisted softly,
Sungmin, as if reading her mind, leaned his head against hers, gripping her hand just a fraction tighter. Indeed they spent more time apart than together and, even though her honeymoon was only for a week or so, he knew he would feel her absence immediately, keenly. Indeed, he already missed her. And, so, he was more than willing to spend just a few more minutes together, alone, before they both returned to the ballroom and returned to the rest of their lives. Although they both had their own lives to live, their family and friends surrounding them and the loves of their lives securely by their sides, they never forgot what they had with each other. They never forgot their promise of forever.
“I love you, Min.”
“And, I love you, Minx.”
A/N: So... this is actually the second epilogue I wrote for this series. The original epilogue is much longer, but I preferred this epilogue since it was short and sweet... However, I know some readers would like to read the longer version, so... I may post the original epilogue eventually.