Fandom: Super Junior AU (Fairy Tale)
Pairing: Hankyung/Heechul, background Kibum/Donghae, Kangin/Eeteuk, Kyuhyun/Sungmin, Yehsung/Ryeowook
Word count: 6,905
Summary: In which Heechul is, literally, a pretty, pretty princess, and Hankyung fails at being Prince Charming (or at least by Heechul's standards).
Warnings: This is where fairy tales go to die. Also, unnecessary genderswitching. IDEKY. Also, historical inaccuracies, chocolate what.
A/N: Unforeseen events have caused me to post this tonight (i.e. a strident plea from meiface) so here we go. I like this part a lot better than the first part, and I don't even like this part that much, so you see how much I don't like the first part.
Part 1 / Part 2
Kim Heechul wasn’t aware that as she slept in a four poster bed in the castle in Sujuman that all of Okaywecan was out searching for her. She was not aware of the drama that was taking place in the Kingdom that she belonged to. All Heechul was aware of was that her nice dream which involved pushing all the men who had once showed an interest in her into the fountain in the courtyard of her castle was ruined by someone shaking her awake.
“Go away,” she said in her best Princess-y voice, swatting at the intruder, but when someone hissed ‘princess’ in a decidedly male voice, she was awake and sitting up faster than Donghae managed it when Kibum walked into the room.
It was Hankyung who was standing at the side of her bed, illuminated by the early morning sunlight – and it was early, so that the light was still tinged with orange – his hands on her shoulders, gripping tightly, and for the love of Okaywecan, thought Heechul angrily. I am going to arrange for Zhou Mi to stand guard outside my door. Apparently my virtue is in danger.
“I know I’m beautiful,” she said loudly. “But seriously, let go of me right this second.”
“Quiet,” said Hankyung softly, and covered her mouth with his hand. That annoyed Heechul further, rather than worrying her, and she bit his palm hard.
“I’ll scream,” she said. “If you don’t leave me alone right now, I will scream.”
“I’m not doing anything!” said Hankyung, exasperated, rubbing at his palm.
“Apart from attacking me while I sleep!” retorted Heechul.
“We’re leaving,” said Hankyung, taking her by the wrist. “Now.”
“Now?” asked Heechul indignantly. “Right this second? Hankyung, I’m still in a nightdress.”
“Well, get ready,” he said. “Quickly, we have to leave.”
Heechul did as he wished, because she heard something in his voice, a steel undertone that allowed for no discussion on the matter, so she contented herself with muttering insults at him under her breath while she dressed, stumbling over the buttons on her foreign dress. He handed her a cloak when she came out of the room, a thick, black thing which he pulled over her head so that she was completely covered before he took her hand and led her down the hallway.
“I look stupid,” she said when they walked out into the cold air of the early morning.
“That’s going to save your life,” said Hankyung shortly, and Heechul just rolled her eyes at his theatrics (she had no time for drama unless it was her own), pulled her hand from his and followed him into the stables, where the three who had escorted them to the castle were waiting for them, horses already saddled up.
“We don’t have enough,” said Zhou Mi quietly. “Li Xu can’t take a horse without permission, and we can only take our three horses, everyone else has theirs still on the hunt.”
“Fine,” said Hankyung, looking annoyed, as if this was another thing that had gone wrong. Heechul was now completely convinced that it was far too early to be travelling, especially when her fingers were numb with cold. “Princess, you can ride with me on my horse. Li Xu, you ride with Henry. Zhou Mi, your legs are too long for sharing with anyone.”
“Like you have room to talk,” sniped Zhou Mi, as Henry helped Ryeowook up onto the horse. Heechul just raised an eyebrow at Hankyung.
“I’m not sharing a horse with you,” she said. “I mean, you keep attacking me in my sleep, I can hardly sit in close quarters with you for an hour or two.”
“He keeps attacking you in your sleep?” asked Ryeowook, a little amused.
“What?” asked Zhou Mi. Ryeowook translated for him, and he and Henry began to laugh.
“Han Geng’s first love,” said Zhou Mi in a sing-song voice. Henry said something in Sujumandarin that made Hankyung scowl, and turn to Heechul and look at her like it was her fault.
“Get on the horse,” he said. “We don’t have time for this.”
“Oh, you’re being forceful,” said Heechul as she pulled herself up onto the horse, choosing to take a different tack at making her annoyed feelings clear to everyone around her. “Keep doing it, I like it.”
Hankyung paused with his hand on the saddle, and stared up at her, disbelief in his face. “I honestly don’t know why anyone would even want to marry you,” he said.
“Apparently I’m quite beautiful underneath this hood that a silly man made me wear,” said Heechul, aware that she was being quite bitchy and not really caring.
“There’s more to the world than beauty, Princess,” said Hankyung softly, and there was something like sadness in his voice.
“Wow,” said Heechul. “Really?”
Contrary to what was said about her, Princess Kim Heechul of Okaywecan was not arrogant – not completely. She was aware that she was pretty - stunning, in fact, - but she also prided herself on her quick wit, and her smart mind. She wanted to look her best at all times, just like every girl of seventeen, but she had her own sense of loyalty, and valued her friends as well. The narrator would like to point out that when she contested Hankyung’s evaluation of the importance of beauty, she was only half-serious, and more than a little sarcastic.
Ryeowook fell asleep when they had been travelling for an hour, and although Heechul was tired, she was determined to stay awake so that Hankyung didn’t have the chance to shake her to wake her up again, and she also wanted to be awake for her journey through Okaywecan, so that she could point out the obviously better landmarks that they had there. Unfortunately, she failed to notice when they crossed the border, because the two lands looked exactly the same, and didn’t realise until Hankyung told her.
“Damn it,” hissed Heechul under her breath, and refused to talk to him for another hour, travelling in silence, Hankyung’s chest pressed up against her back, trying to ignore his heartbeat, and getting more annoyed with him as she failed to do so. After the hour of silence was up, she said loudly, because it had been playing on her mind, “Why did we have to leave so early?”
“My stepmother,” said Hankyung, looking a little distracted as she shifted in her seat to try to bring some feeling back to her legs, and Heechul noticed that he seemed a little pink across the nose, though that could have been from the cold. “She would have killed you if she had found you there.”
“Oh,” said Heechul. She didn’t quite know what to make of this piece of information. “But how would your stepmother have known I was there? I mean, it’s not as though she would live in the castle.”
“Ah,” said Hankyung, and his eyes went quite wide. “You see, I haven’t-”
A shout from Zhou Mi startled them both out of the conversation, and they looked up to see two other figures on horses riding up to them, and Hankyung drew the sword from his side, hidden by his own cloak, something Heechul had failed to notice before that. “Keep your head down,” he murmured, and Heechul sighed heavily, but lowered her head anyway.
Heechul couldn’t see what was happening, but she could hear some pieces of the conversation that was carried towards her on the wind, and a voice that she thought sounded familiar said, “Show us the girl.”
“No,” said Zhou Mi. “Why should we?”
“Because the Princess has gone missing,” said another voice, and she certainly thought she recognised that one. “Show us the girl and we will be on our way.”
She definitely knew that calm, reasoned tone. She lifted her head up, knocking the hood down, and ignoring Hankyung cry of alarm. “Siwon!” she said. “My god, it’s about time someone came looking for me!”
“Heechul?” asked Siwon incredulously.
“That’s Siwon?” asked Hankyung.
“Is anyone else completely confused?” asked Zhou Mi.
Siwon drew himself up to the highest he could get while sitting on a horse, which was actually quite an impressive height. “I am charging you,” he said in a loud, ringing tone, “with the abduction of the Princess Kim Heechul of Okaywecan.”
“Oh,” said Heechul, waving a hand around. “They didn’t kidnap me, my house fell into the river and I ended up in Sujuman.”
“Oh,” said Siwon, slightly deflated.
Hankyung took the horse a little bit closer to the others now that he was fairly certain that it was safe, and Siwon looked at him for the first time, and jerked back in shock. “Oh my god!” he said loudly. “Han Geng?”
“Siyuan?” asked Hankyung, eyes wide with disbelief, and while Siwon laughed happily, Hankyung looked a little apprehensive. “You’re Siwon?”
“Because those two names don’t sound similar at all,” said Heechul sarcastically.
“Siyuan?” Zhou Mi looked like he was going to drop down dead from the shock. “Wow, Siyuan, when did you get that haircut? I didn’t recognise you.”
“What are you doing here?” asked Siwon, looking happily at Hankyung, whose expression was getting more and more dismayed with every second. “Why are you escorting Heechul back?”
“I. Um. I was the one who found her near the river,” said Hankyung.
“Couldn’t someone else have done it?” asked Siwon with a frown.
“I want to make sure – Sujuman is not as safe as it once was,” said Hankyung.
“Why wouldn’t he have escorted me back?” asked Heechul, who didn’t take lightly to being ignored or left out of the conversation. “I mean, he’s only a huntsman.”
“A huntsman?” repeated Siwon incredulously, and then failed to notice the way Hankyung shook his head wildly at him. “Han Geng’s the Prince of Sujuman.”
There was a minute of stunned silence from Heechul’s part, apprehensive stillness from those from Sujuman, and a confused hush from Siwon and Yehsung, broken only by Heechul suddenly shrieking at Hankyung.
“The Prince of Sujuman? You mean the one who couldn’t come see me because he was too busy? You mean the one who would like to attend the Year of Courting? That was you all along?!”
“Heechul,” said Hankyung, looking stricken, and also deafened. “Heechul, I-”
“You completely lied to me! Oh, wow, all that complaining about the Prince not being invited, that was just you being put out and sore, and not to mention completely hitting on me! And your stepmother, I suppose she’s the Queen of Sujuman.”
“Yes,” said Hankyung, looking tired, but Heechul really wanted to do nothing more than to scratch his face off. “Yes, and when I said she would kill you if she’d found you, I was telling the truth. Her mirror told her that you were prettier than her, and so she needs to get rid of you.”
“Kibum is Snow White, not me,” said Heechul angrily, though this was not directed to Hankyung, but actually to the narrator, as a reminder that she is getting her characters mixed up.
“What?” asked Hankyung, looking confused.
“Never mind,” said Heechul, and pushed his arm from her waist and got down off the horse, not caring about how ungraceful she was at that moment in time. “I want to go home. Siwon, take me home right now.”
“Um,” said Siwon, looking at them in confusion. “Okay?”
“We’re coming too,” said Hankyung firmly, and ignored the glare that Heechul gave him. “There are some things that I have to explain to your father.”
The journey was spent in stony silence from Heechul, but Siwon and Hankyung talked like the old friends that they obviously were, while Zhou Mi and Henry chattered in Sujumandarin to each other, and Yehsung tried to act like he wasn’t being ignored or left out. It wasn’t until they got to the castle (which took far too long for Heechul’s liking) that he managed to say anything.
Ryeowook was still asleep when they stopped in the stables, and Henry woke her softly, and Zhou Mi helped her down, murmuring something to her, no doubt explaining what had happened, and she stumbled and her heavy riding hood fell down onto her shoulders, revealing her face for the first time; she seemed shocked. Yehsung, who had been getting down from his own horse, jumped around for a couple of seconds, one of his feet still stuck in a stirrup, staring at her.
“Ryeowook?” he asked hoarsely, finally managing to get himself free, and Ryeowook’s head shot up and she stared at him happily.
“Yehsung!” she cried, and ran up to his and threw her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly, and after a moment of Yehsung opening and closing his mouth like a fish, he wrapped his arms around her waist and hugged her back. Heechul wasn’t too sure how many more surprises she would be able to take, and she mentioned this to Siwon, who tried to pretend that he wasn’t laughing and laughed anyway.
“What are you doing here?” asked Yehsung, after he finally managed to pull his voice from somewhere.
“I’m in the employment of Prince Han Geng now,” said Ryeowook, still with her arms around his neck. “We were bringing the Princess back. Are you still-” She looked around for Heechul, and noticed Siwon for the first time. “Oh!” she said, and blushed hotly and released Yehsung, curtsying to Siwon. “Lord Siyuan, I didn’t realise you were here,” she said, and then noticed that Heechul was sitting on his horse. “You – You mean that Lord Siyuan is your Lord Siwon?”
“You mean that no one made the connection before?” asked Heechul sarcastically.
“You’ve been talking about me,” said Siwon, amused.
“Nothing good,” Heechul reassured him, and then turned back to Ryeowook. “This is your wonderful Okaywecanian?”
“You said I was wonderful?” asked Yehsung, looking a little touched as Ryeowook seemed to blush even harder, and she shook her head and buried her face in her hands.
“The only one who will say that, I’m sure,” said Heechul. Yehsung rolled his eyes at her; another one who had known her for too long to be able to take anything she said completely seriously. She was going to have problems, she knew, keeping any respect when she became Queen. Perhaps she should have Yehsung beheaded. Just because. He was annoying enough.
Her mother burst into tears when she saw her, hugging her close, and Heechul put up with it all, rolling her eyes at Sungmin and Eeteuk who waited patiently. When her mother finally left the room, dabbing at her eyes with a handkerchief, Sungmin and Eeteuk rushed forward, both chattering nineteen to the dozen, and Donghae came into the room, and hugged her, and then pulled Kibum in by the hand, and Heechul groaned and fell on Kibum like she was unable to stand up any longer.
“Kibum” she said in a mock-tired tone of voice. “Kibum, find me something to wear that isn’t black or white and made up of a ridiculous amount of buttons, please!”
Kibum laughed softly, and disappeared into the large closet at the side of the room. Donghae gave Heechul another hug, and then sat down in a chair at the side of the bed, sword clanking against the wood.
“I’m surprised that they let you keep that,” commented Sungmin.
Donghae shrugged, crossing his legs and leaning back casually. “I brought them news about Heechul, they forgave me for barging in onto the meeting.”
“Poor Kibum,” said Eeteuk sadly. “It was lucky that we were there, it could have been awful.”
“Yeah,” said Donghae, and he looked a little pale, and Heechul looked at everyone at least once, and then at Kibum when she came out of the closet with a pale blue silk dress.
“What?” asked Heechul.
She was told the story of what had happened when it had been discovered that she was missing; she, in turn, told them of what had happened from the moment her cabin had collapsed into the river, embellishing a little on the coldness of the water and the strange cries that she had heard from the forest on either side for Sungmin’s benefit, who enjoyed a little drama in her stories. She was interrupted when she was telling them about Hankyung coming across her by Eeteuk.
“Which one was he?” she asked. “I couldn’t believe it when I saw that you were travelling with three men, anything could have happened.”
“He’s the one who looked like he was a liar and a cad,” said Heechul.
“Well, that’s just unhelpful,” said Sungmin.
“The one with the bow across his back,” said Heechul, taking pity on the others.
“Oh,” said Eeteuk, and then looked very carefully at Heechul. “He was good looking, wasn’t he?”
“I’m ignoring you,” said Heechul, and turned to look resolutely at Sungmin in the mirror as Kibum helped with her hair. Kibum was laughing, but Heechul was used to that anyway. “Anyway, he took me to meet his friends, and Ryeowook is the only decent one there, if you ask me, because Zhou Mi talks too much, and Henry doesn’t even speak our language. And then they took me back to their castle, where he accused me of being stuck up and looks obsessed, and then he woke me up absurdly early this morning in order to drag me across the border.”
“And then Siwon found you!” said Sungmin, bouncing happily on the mattress on the bed.
“Yes,” said Heechul, and scowled. “And then I found out that Hankyung is only the Prince of Sujuman.”
“What?” shrieked Sungmin, and would have fallen off the bed mid-bounce if Donghae hadn’t pushed her back.
“Sujuman has a Prince?” asked Eeteuk incredulously.
“That’s what I said,” said Heechul. “He didn’t correct me or anything, just carried on like he was nothing more than a huntsman, and kept dropping hints that the Prince would like to be invited to the Year of Courting, even though I told him exactly how I felt about it.”
“Liars are the worst,” said Sungmin loyally.
“Perhaps he had a reason,” said Donghae doubtfully. “For not telling you the truth. Why would he do it otherwise?”
“Go away, Donghae,” said Heechul. “And come back when you don’t feel like you have to stick up for him just because he’s a man.”
“That’s not it,” protested Donghae. “I just don’t think he would lie without a good reason.”
“You don’t even know him,” said Heechul scornfully. “Just like I don’t know him. In fact, I don’t want to know him. The sooner he goes back to Sujuman, the sooner I can get on with ignoring all the other Princes in the world.”
Unfortunately, Hankyung showed no intentions of going back to his country, and after a meeting with her father – which she wasn’t allowed to attend, despite her demands – he was given rooms of his own, for both himself and his companions, and Heechul had to put up with his attempts to talk to her, Donghae and Siwon’s joint attempt at making her listen to him, and Sungmin and Eeteuk, neither of whom could decide whether they hated the man for his lying, or whether he was good looking enough to forgive.
So when her mother announced that there was to be a ball the night before Heechul’s birthday, Heechul was rather shocked, because she had forgotten all about her birthday, for the very first time in her life.
Her birthday reminded her all too much of what would be expected of her after the day had passed, and the two days leading up to the ball was spent in a foul mood, until Sungmin sighed heavily and said, “Why don’t you just talk to Hankyung-shi?”
“Hankyung?” asked Heechul, nonplussed. “What’s he got to do with anything?”
“That’s why you’re so angry, isn’t it? Because you still don’t know why he lied to you?”
“No, Sungmin,” said Heechul, as patiently as she could manage, which wasn’t very much at all. “I’m angry because I’m about to be forced to be married.” There was a pause, and she added, “I have a good mind to run away again. For good.”
“Except then you’d never have any new dresses,” pointed out Eeteuk. “Plus, your cabin is gone, you don’t have anywhere to go.”
“Oh, go flirt with Kangin,” snapped Heechul.
On the evening of the ball, Heechul got dressed grudgingly, although she took care with her appearance, because although she didn’t want to particularly go, she wanted to at least look her best. Her silver dress was new, a shimmering material that clung and then flared when she span, her hair piled up onto her head to show off the pearls around her neck, and judging by the way Donghae choked and walked into the door frame when he saw her, she looked good.
“If you’re planning on making men fall in love with you or show Hankyung what he could have had, then that’s going to do it,” he said hoarsely.
“Neither, actually,” said Heechul primly, but both sounded tempting.
She found herself enjoying her ball, because she had been dreading this one so much that she was pleasantly surprised by what she found there, good music and laughter and people enjoying themselves. As she was standing with Eeteuk and Sungmin near the wall, watching the guests dance, fanning herself, Heechul noticed Donghae sweep past, holding the hand of a young woman, and it took Heechul a few minutes to work out who it was, without the long black hair scraped back into a bun, a dark red gown in place of her usual apron and cream dress. Heechul took a sip of her wine, and waited for the inevitable.
“Oh my god!” shrieked Sungmin, and almost spilt her drink over her pale pink gown, which would have been disastrous. “Was that Kibum dancing with Donghae? What is she doing here?”
“I gave her the night off,” said Heechul. “I thought she deserved to enjoy herself after almost being beheaded and all that. I gave her one of my dresses to wear, she suits that colour much better than I ever did.”
“So generous,” teased Sungmin. Heechul ignored her.
“I knew it was only a matter of time until she softened to him,” said Eeteuk, watching Kibum laugh at something a beaming Donghae was saying. She looked meaningfully at Heechul, who just looked blankly back at her.
“I know,” said Sungmin, and she too seemed to be looking at Heechul, her voice pointed. “Some people just aren’t aware of what is right in front of their faces.”
“You’d think she’d have noticed that she loved him well before now,” said Eeteuk.
“We aren’t talking about Kibum and Donghae anymore, are we?” asked Heechul.
“No,” said Sungmin. “We’re talking about you and Hankyung-shi.”
“What about me and Hankyung?” asked Heechul, scowling at the very name.
“You’re in love with him, Heechul!” said Eeteuk, exasperated. “That’s why you’re still so annoyed at him.”
“I hold grudges,” said Heechul, and then the former part of Eeteuk’s statement caught up with her. “I am not in love with Hankyung!” she shrieked.
“That’s always nice to know,” said a voice behind them, and Heechul didn’t need to turn around to know that Hankyung was standing there.
“Can you hear something?” she asked Sungmin and Eeteuk, who looked over her shoulder, exchanged glances, and then smiled slowly.
“I think I hear Kangin,” trilled Eeteuk, and disappeared into the crowd.
“Kyuhyun has just been given a break!” said Sungmin brightly, and fled.
“I will get you for this!” Heechul screamed after them, not caring who heard her. “I will get you for this, and it will be when you least expect it!”
“Heechul,” said Hankyung, and she turned around to glare at him. “Please, can I talk to you? I need to explain why I lied.”
“Do what you like,” said Heechul in a bored voice, and took a sip of her wine.
“It’s my stepmother,” said Hankyung, without looking at her, looking up and out of the windows at the clear starry sky outside. “If she had known you were there, she would have killed you.”
“So you keep saying,” muttered Heechul. “That doesn’t explain why you lied to me.”
“She is an evil woman,” said Hankyung. “She married my father when I was very young, and my father died a year later – I have no doubt in my mind that she killed him. Ever since then she has treated me as if I was less than human. She used to treat me like a servant when I was very young, which was how I came to be friends with Zhou Mi. People didn’t like that, so she stopped, but I am still very much under her thumb. We did, in fact, get an invitation for the Year of Courting – she forbade me to attend.”
“I’m Cinderella!” shrieked Heechul indignantly. “Me, not you!” Hankyung looked at her in confusion, though this statement had, again, been directed at the narrator, because she was, again, getting her characters mixed up.
“I’m worried that she has a spell on me,” said Hankyung, choosing to ignore her outburst. “When I found out who you were, I felt that I would be used to get to you. I didn’t tell you who I was for fear that she would be able to trace you through that. And that day, when we left so early, she was close to finding out you were there.”
I hate you, Donghae, thought Heechul bitterly.
“She knows that I am here,” continued Hankyung. “I can never return to Sujuman, not while she is still alive. She would kill me as soon as I stepped over the border for treachery.”
This mild statement of the truth rather shocked Heechul. “But you’re safe here,” she said, before she could stop herself, and cursed inwardly at the note of concern that ran through what she had said.
“I hope so,” said Hankyung with a smile. He seemed to think that he had been forgiven. Heechul supposed that he had been. “I am sorry, Heechul, for lying – honestly, I wanted to-”
“Please,” said Heechul, holding a hand up to stop him. “This is sickening, can we not do this?”
Hankyung laughed, and held his hand out. “Would you like to dance?” he asked, amusement in his voice.
“I suppose so,” said Heechul with a sigh, and took his hand, and allowed him to lead her onto the dance floor, where she put her hand on his shoulder and noted with some pleasure that he put his hand on the correct place, high on her waist – some men over the years had had trouble remembering this.
“Where is Ryeowook?” she asked, after a couple of minutes, when she had scanned the room and could see Henry standing, looking confused, near Zhou Mi, who was talking to Kyuhyun animatedly, Kyuhyun laughing, Sungmin making her way towards them with a curious expression. “Is she not attending tonight?”
“She said she felt more at ease in the servant quarters,” said Hankyung. “She was going to attend the party that they were having there. She has quite the singing voice.”
“Really?” asked Heechul in surprise, who had never had the chance to hear.
“Yes,” said Hankyung, and then grinned. “I think – Yehsung, was that his name? – was going to join her there.”
“She could do so much better than Yehsung,” said Heechul scornfully.
She glanced up then to see Siwon looking at them, and he smiled at her and inclined his glass towards her, as if in congratulations. She snarled at him. Hankyung glanced over his shoulder to see what she was looking at, and then his smile only grew wider. “Oh,” he said, with the air of someone imparting some great knowledge. “Something I have to tell you about your Siwon.”
“He’s not my Siwon,” said Heechul bitterly – she still hadn’t quite gotten over the fact that Siwon and Hankyung had been friends ever since Siwon had first gone to Sujuman two years earlier.
Hankyung ignored her. “Siwon already has a lover,” he said. “In Sujuman, a young woman who lives in the village near the castle. They’re married, actually. He visits her twice a year for two weeks, when he is able to leave his estate.”
“That cheat!” cried Heechul indignantly.
“I thought he wasn’t your Siwon,” said Hankyung, and he sounded like he was laughing at her, but it didn’t annoy Heechul half as much as it once had.
“He’s not!” said Heechul. “But just because I don’t love him doesn’t mean that he’s allowed to love someone else! I mean, I’m more beautiful than anyone else, it shouldn’t be allowed!”
“Hmm,” said Hankyung thoughtfully, and span her out, and when he span her back in, his hand changed its position, resting on the exposed part of her back where her dress dipped low. Heechul raised an eyebrow at him, he grinned at her, she pulled her bottom lip through her teeth, his eyes darkened, she shivered – and then they were interrupted by a voice which echoed through the hall from every direction.
I’ve found you, Princess.
Everyone stopped dancing, looking around themselves in confusion, looking for the source of the noise. “Oh, shit,” said Hankyung.
“Well, that’s not something that happens every day,” said Heechul.
“Run!” yelled Hankyung.
“Excuse me, I do not run,” said Heechul, but Hankyung had already grabbed her hand and was pulling her towards the door firmly, and then out into the cool air, storm clouds having suddenly gathered above their heads, as she tripped along in her heeled shoes, new crystal slippers that has cost no small amount of money – as they were running down the stairs into the grounds, away from the people who still stood, confused, in the ballroom, one of the slippers fell from her foot, and she was down the stairs before the coldness on the ground registered.
“My shoe!” she gasped, and turned to retrieve it. Hankyung grabbed hold of her around the arm.
“What’s more important?” he asked, looking at her hard. “Your life or your shoes?”
“My life’s not worth living without those shoes!” she said loudly. He gaped at her. “They’re crystal,” she told him. “Not just silly glass like that girl over in the Kingdom of Disney. Real crystal.” She jerked her arm out of his grasp, and ran back up the steps (she would run for something as important as crystal slippers), and had just picked it up when a lightening bolt shot down from the sky and hit the stair in front of her, the shockwave causing her to fly backwards, and she would have broken her neck if Hankyung hadn’t caught her at the bottom.
“Damn it, missed,” said the voice.
“Okay, now I’m just confused,” said Heechul, pulling away from Hankyung and dusting herself off. Her dress was most probably ruined – she glared at Hankyung like it was his fault.
“Come on,” moaned Hankyung, pulling at her arm. “Will you please move? We’re both going to be burnt to a crisp at this rate!”
“You’re being very over dramatic,” noted Heechul. “Are you feeling alright?”
“It’s the narrator,” said Hankyung, a little sadly. “She can’t seem to get my character right.”
A lightning bolt hit the ground next to them, close enough that Heechul could feel the heat on her arm. Hankyung shook his head, and then starting running again, pulling her along. Again, she thought, annoyed.
Heechul had no doubt that Hankyung didn’t know where he was going, seeing as he’d been in the castle for a matter of days, and even Heechul didn’t know where everything was in the grounds, and she’d lived there for almost eighteen years. They appeared to be nearing the gatehouse and guard tower, and after a lightning bolt hit a tree behind them, causing it to fall into the path, blocking it, trees on either side, they had no choice to keep running in the direction that they had been. As they came close to the gatehouse, a strike hit one of the stone gargoyles on top and caused it to fall down at their feet, breaking and showering them with dust. Heechul shrieked, coughed as the dust got into her lungs, and thought about maybe kicking the head, which was still intact and staring at them, but feared that doing so would break her shoes.
“If we don’t live through this,” said Hankyung, taking her hand and watching as the clouds in the sky above them swirled into a shape that was faintly humanoid, and dropped from the sky to manifest in front of them, “I just wanted you to know – I love you.”
“I feel physically sick,” said Heechul.
The cloud-shape cackled. “So many months,” it said, in a voice that sounded like it belonged to a woman, but could have been a fairly high-pitched boy. “So many months, trying to get past the protective wards around this country to get to the Princess. I couldn’t even step through while my vision was being blocked, when I couldn’t see where you were. But my stepson, my silly, foolish stepson – he did it for me!”
Heechul glanced at Hankyung, who was crouched into a fighting position, his hand on his sword. Heechul turned back to the shape with her eyebrows raised. “Hankyung hasn’t done anything,” she said, and fought back the urge to add, ever.
“He fell in love with you!” said the cloud-shape, and the triumphant note in its voice was beginning to annoy Heechul. It was giving her a headache. “The moment he did that, I was able to see where you were, and I could get through the wards and destroy you, like I’ve been wanting to for so long!” She laughed, in what was obviously supposed to be a wicked way, but sounded to Heechul like a cat trying to cough something up.
“I can’t believe you ruined my birthday celebration for this,” she said.
Hankyung had obviously had enough, as he threw his sword directly at the shape, right where the heart would have been if it had actually been human, and the weapon was swallowed up into the blackness, while the shape let out a screeching noise, and the cloud that made up it’s hair flared out around it.
“That was useful,” said Heechul. “Now we’ve got nothing to fight with.”
“I-” began Hankyung, but the cloud-shape flung out a hand, and the guard tower exploded, stone and rubble flying out in all directions, and a large piece shot towards them and hit Hankyung on the head, causing him to crumple to the ground, unconscious and bleeding from the wound that had been inflicted. Heechul looked at him with some shock.
“Now that my idiotic stepson is out of the way,” hissed the cloud-shape, apparently having recovered from the sword being thrown into it, “I can get back to killing you.”
Heechul looked at Hankyung, at the red that trickled down his cheek, his arms and legs asunder, as he lay in amongst the ruins of the guard tower, dust covering his face. “You know,” she said, voice a little hard, as she turned to glare at the shape. “Hankyung may be idiotic, and you may feel like hitting him a lot, but that wasn’t very nice. Only I’m allowed to knock Hankyung out.”
“Poor little Princess Heechul,” sneered the cloud-shape. “All alone, the one she loves dying, and about to join him herself.”
“You know what?” asked Heechul, tipping her head to the side. “Magic isn’t real. Did you know that? That girl with the glass slippers who likes everyone to believe that she has a fairy godmother? Yeah, she stole money from her stepmother and doesn’t want anyone to know. That girl who was supposedly asleep for a thousand years due to a spell? She just got an infection from the needle, and was in a coma for a short time, but she’s fine now.”
The cloud-shape flickered a little, and it began to scream at her, telling her to shut up, to stop talking, to start praying for her life. Heechul ignored it, not least because she wasn’t even religious, so that part was just silly. She took a step forward, dress billowing out around her as the wind picked up, swirling dust around her, as the cloud-shape in front of her attempted to stop her from talking.
“Magic isn’t real,” she said, her voice thick with the authority that came from being royalty. The cloud-shape fell in on itself in pain and then straightened up, and the wind fell again. “It isn’t, and if magic isn’t real, then you aren’t real.” The cloud-shape flickered again, and an arm stretched out as if to grab Heechul around the neck, but she side-stepped it easily. “Go away,” she said, bored now, and the cloud-shape screamed, clutched at it’s own neck, and then dissipated into the atmosphere.
The clouds cleared, revealing the starry night that had been there before – suddenly she could hear people moving beyond the debris, and a voice said loudly and frantically, “Oh my god, do you think they’re dead?”
“You’re such a moron, Donghae,” said Kibum’s voice, and then Donghae yelped, and Heechul rather felt that Kibum had hit him over the head. Heechul approved – Donghae needed hitting over the head regularly.
“But what if they are?” asked Eeteuk fearfully. “What if they’re lying beyond all this stone, dead and all curled up together, hands just touching?”
“It’s not true. You’ve read too many books,” said Kangin firmly.
“Oh, and they never even got married!” wailed Sungmin, and Heechul could hear her noisy sobs.
“They won’t be dead,” said Kyuhyun’s voice, comfortingly.
“Heechul didn’t want to get married,” said Siwon’s voice.
“No, she didn’t want to get married to you,” said Zhou Mi’s voice. “There’s a difference.”
“Oh,” said Siwon.
“Besides, you have-” began Yehsung, but was interrupted by Ryeowook.
“Don’t talk about that,” she said forcefully, and Yehsung let out an ‘oof’, and Heechul thought that maybe Ryeowook had elbowed him in the stomach. Heechul approved of this too – if someone needed injuring regularly, it was Yehsung.
“What?” asked Shindong, sounding confused.
“Yeah, what does Lord Siwon have?” asked Eunhyuk.
“Nothing,” said Siwon quickly.
Henry said something in Sujumandarin, sounding even more confused than Shindong had.
“You guys!” screamed Heechul. “Can we please focus on me, and the fact that I could be dead?”
There was a long pause. “Oh,” said Donghae. “Right, sorry.”
“Heechul, you’re alive!” yelled Sungmin happily.
Heechul ignored the excited and happy noises that were coming from over the top of the pile of stone that had built up behind them, and instead turned towards Hankyung, and poked at him with one of her crystal-clad feet (she was glad to see that they had managed to survive). “Come on,” she said. “Get up now.”
Hankyung didn’t move.
“I’m not going to fall down next to you, clutch at your shoulders with my hands, and implore you not to leave me in this cruel, cruel world, forever without my one true love,” said Heechul. “If that’s what you want.”
Hankyung opened his eyes. “Worth a try,” he said with a grin. Heechul hmphed at him.
Just then they heard the bells in the village strike twelve, the sound drifting towards them on the still night air, and Heechul groaned as she heard it, the noise reminding her of why this ball had taken place to begin with.
“Eighteen,” said Hankyung softly. “The Year of Courting has begun.”
“So many princes, so little time,” said Heechul mournfully.
“You’re trying to make me jealous,” said Hankyung.
“Is it working?” asked Heechul with a smirk.
“Probably,” said Hankyung, slipped an arm around her waist, and pulled her close and kissed her deeply, as Heechul wrapped her arms around his neck. “Hmm,” he said, when they pulled apart. “I don’t suppose I could monopolise your time in this Year of Courting?” he asked.
“I’ll see where I can fit you in,” mumbled Heechul. “Kiss me.”
“You’re very demanding, Princess,” teased Hankyung.
“Don’t call me that,” said Heechul. “I have a name.”
I’ll call you whatever I want to,” said Hankyung with a grin. “I’m the heir to the throne, thank you very much.”
“Oh, shut up,” said Heechul, and kissed him, as Donghae fell through the gap that had been created behind them, Kibum laughing at him, Sungmin crying from joy this time into Kyuhyun’s shoulder, Eeteuk taking her chance to hug Kangin happily, Siwon arguing with Zhou Mi, Yehsung arguing with Ryeowook, who was just laughing at him and patting him on the cheek, while Eunhyuk and Shindong patted Henry on the head, cooing about how cute he was.
And they all lived happily ever after.
(Apart from that time when Hankyung ate the last of Heechul’s chocolate, and that time when Heechul pushed him out of bed, and that other time when they disappeared for three days, and no one knew where they went, and they only came back when Sungmin put out a Royal Decree stating that she wouldn’t dress the flower girl for the wedding in magenta. But apart from that, they all lived happily ever after.)