Author: Jongriette [Ineedataempon]
Word Count: ~11k words
Summary: Jonghyun needs a wife, and Key may or may not be the prince of his dreams.
A/N: This is loosely based on the Princess and the Pea. [key word is loosely.] Title credit to the Broadway Musical 'Once Upon a Mattress'. Inspired by this lovely picture.
...and it's bound to seem as though
The waiting's only been a little in a little while
“That was candidate number 100.” Jonghyun says rather glumly, his hands clutching the rolled up scroll tightly. Jinki looks over at him sympathetically but doesn’t say a word, knowing that whatever he said would just go in one ear and out the other, anyway. Jonghyun tends not to listen when he was in a the-world-is-against-me sort of mood. “Number 100. The candidates have reached the triple digits.”
“You’ll find one soon.” Jinki says, except he said that last time, and the time before that as well. In fact, he had been saying it ever since candidate number one. “But maybe you’re a tad too picky, Prince.”
“Don’t call me that!” Jonghyun snarls, slapping Jinki with the end of his scroll. It was a gentle, no-hard-feelings? kind of slap, but Jinki tends to be dramatic so he falls over from his stool and clutches his arm in false agony. “Just call me Jonghyun.”
Jinki’s too enraptured in his one man gag show to realize that Jonghyun just spoke to him, since he was busy pretending he was in pain to reply. Usually, Jonghyun would join in and roll around on the floor for extra drama points, but now he was sort of half-wallowing in his own grief of not being able to find someone.
“But Jinki. Triple digits.” He repeats himself, slumping down onto his chair. Jinki stops acting stupid and gets up, brushing down his just-ironed robes and flinging his cape over his shoulder. “I mean, I know Minho took a really long time as well, but he still found a princess. A real princess.”
“Define real.” Jinki says, slipping in the seat beside him. Jonghyun laces his fingers together and stares out in an almost dreamy state, and Jinki suddenly regrets asking that question.
“Pretty hair. Preferably dyed.” Jonghyun says, ticking off the reasons on his fingers. “Delicate skin. Feline eyes. Oh, and a really graceful walk.”
“You are incredibly superficial.”
Jonghyun’s long passed the age of getting a fiancé and his parents had been asking him constantly about when he would start having kids and settling down. Jonghyun had merely waved them off, except now it was sort of a major issue, since he was going to inherit the kingdom soon. However, Jonghyun likes to wander around his castle with or without Jinki, his trusty best-friend-slash-helper-person-thing, and he tends to get lost in the labyrinth-like castle. Because of this, he usually went a few days without food and water and kind of emerges back to his room with an almost possessed look and a growling stomach.
That usually scared away the mediocre-to-good candidates.
There were a few that caught his eye, of course- a pretty smile here, an elegant neck there- but something was just… wrong. He didn’t feel anything for them; he couldn’t even muster up any sort of interest in the princesses. Which was really weird, to be honest, because he was a healthy male that still had urges he had to take care of and liked to fantasize about girls, so he was definitely into females. He just couldn’t quite get his mind to wrap around the thought that he actually had to marry one of them and stay with them for the rest of his life, possibly having Jonghyun-juniors running around and causing havoc in his clean kingdom.
“So when are you going to get married?” Jinki pesters him about it non-stop, mostly because he finds it amusing to watch Jonghyun’s sour expression and pursed lips when he mentions the ‘predicament’. “You’re what, 23? You should go get settled already.”
“But you’re older than me.” Jonghyun points out, and Jinki merely smiles sagely, like the wise man he thought he was.
“I’m no prince.” Jinki says cheerfully. “So I can get married whenever I want.” Sometimes Jonghyun envied Jinki’s carefree lifestyle- he was only in the castle because he had saved Jonghyun from getting run over by a carriage when he was 9. (Although it was completely by accident. Jinki had so happened to trip and spill his milk all over the driver, making him sputter and cough and stop the horses from moving.) “Anyway, what about candidate number 84? I thought she was pretty cute.”
“No spark.” Jonghyun says dismissively, plucking off a flower from a bush. Jinki tries again, darting to the side of Jonghyun and trying to catch his attention.
“Jonghyun.” Jinki sounds exasperated, but Jonghyun pretends not to notice. “You can’t be serious.”
“I’m pretty damn serious.” Jonghyun grins, his expression completely contrasting with his words. “Besides, I’ll know it when I see her, okay? I told you- feline eyes, dyed hair, and a graceful walk. That’s my ideal person.”
“You’re not going to find her if you’re overly picky!” Jinki warns. Jonghyun pats Jinki’s shoulder good-naturedly and walks forward, humming under his breath and not taking his words to heart.
“Oh my god.” Jonghyun slumps down onto the velvet-furnished couch, rubbing his temples in frustration. “Is it really that hard to ask for a girl that I’ll marry and divorce after she gets all old and ugly?”
“I told you- you’re too picky.” Jinki says sympathetically. “Wait, drink some tea and calm down.” He gripped the teapot handle carefully and poured out the black tea with precision, but his pinky accidentally pressed against the scalding hot porcelain, making him yelp and drop the teapot over the carpet. They both stare as a weird dark stain begins to emerge. Jinki smiles nervously.
“The weather’s really bad today.” Jinki says, hurriedly picking up the shards of the teapot. Jonghyun looks at him through half-lidded eyes, not really caring about what had just happened ten seconds ago. Jinki was the kind of person that, if left alone, could cause major damage to himself or his surroundings even if he had bubble wrap over his body and a helmet on his head. Which was probably one of the reasons why Jinki’s mother had been so eager to let Jinki into the castle to become a scholar. “It’s raining really hard, and I can hear thunder.”
“Fantastic.” Jonghyun says monotonously, flicking his bangs back. Jonghyun had never quite liked the rain. It would ruin his hair, mess up his clothes, and made him resemble a drowned rat. And he didn’t quite enjoy looking like a drowned rat. “Let’s go to bed, then. Race you to the second floor? Wait, actually-“ Jonghyun puts his hand up right when Jinki was about to speak, “you’ll trip and die or something. Forget it.”
Jinki closes his mouth. “I can’t refute that statement.”
When Jonghyun gets up, however, he hears an incessant knocking sound outside. They look at each other, and then look back at the door. He was pretty sure they weren’t expecting guests at this hour, so it was either his grandma that liked to drop in at random intervals and squeeze the living daylights out of Jonghyun, or a stranger that would possibly chop them up and maul them to the black market. Jonghyun was hoping for the latter.
“Uh, I’ll go get it.” Jinki offers, but Jonghyun grabs him before he begins to run over. “What?”
“Just sit here for a second.” Jonghyun says, shoving him down onto the couch. He wasn’t really looking forward to sewing up Jinki’s skin after he got injured, after all. “Don’t move unless I scream, okay?”
“Um. Okay.” Jinki blinks, unsure of what to do, but he sits there obediently anyway, watching as Jonghyun crept to the door carefully. Jonghyun takes in a deep breath before flinging the door open, about to tell the person to piss off before he’s faced with-
“Who the- what the- oh my god Jinki HELP ME!” Jonghyun lets out the weirdest sound from his mouth- it sounded like the love child of a scream and a deranged goat that was about to get killed. True to his word, Jinki runs over, but he accidentally steps onto his cape which makes him yelp and fall over on Jonghyun, sending them both sprawling on the floor in a rather unattractive heap. Jinki struggles to get up, and almost screams when he sees the person standing in front of the door.
In one fluid motion, Jonghyun slams the door close.
“That. Did you know that person- thing- that?” Jinki says, stuttering and pulling his legs to his chest, trying to protect himself. It wasn’t really working, since they were still sitting in front of the door, in arm’s reach for the stranger to pick them up and throw them into the back of his caravan.
“If I did, I wouldn’t have screamed, right?” Jonghyun gets up on shaky knees, patting his clothes down and trying to look presentable. “Let’s just forget what had happened.”
A loud rap on the door made them both jump.
“Hey!” The person hollers, the voice sounding hoarse. “How dare you treat a prince this way?! Open up!”
“What?” Jonghyun blinks and he almost laughs, except his laughter is sort of strangled and odd because he’s kind-of-sort-of-maybe-completely scared shitless. “No prince looks like that!”
“I’m not kidding!” He coughs, and Jonghyun feels a bit bad all of a sudden. “The rain’s messing up my eyeliner! And my hair! My god, I spent so long working on it as well…” He could hear the person grumble and kick against the pavement, which would’ve been kind of funny, except Jonghyun still had no idea who he was. “Anyway, my carriage is stuck in a ditch. So can I stay for the night?”
“You sure you’re a prince?” Jonghyun calls out. He has his hand on the doorknob, ready to turn it- he couldn’t exactly turn away a fellow noble’s plead for help, anyway. Jonghyun was a nice person.
“Yes.” Jonghyun braces himself for the scary sight and flings the door open, almost letting out another scream when he sees him.
He was completely drenched from head-to-toe, his bangs sticking onto his forehead and the water making his clothes cling onto his skin like a second layer. His arms were crossed and his eyeliner was smudged, probably because he was busy wiping the rain away from his eyes. However, he was shivering a lot and his teeth chattered from the cold, so Jonghyun swallows the scream that was lodged in his throat and smiles bravely.
“Come in, you look like you’ve been through some pretty bad times.” Jonghyun expects a thank you, or even a smile, but the boy merely snorts and brushes his bangs back, revealing a pair of dark, feline eyes.
“No shit, Sherlock.”
Jonghyun does not know what to do about the guy. Prince. Person. Because said human was currently ordering around his servants like he owned the place, flailing his mud-covered arms wildly and whining about every single little thing.
”This bed isn’t soft enough.”
“The grapes aren’t sweet enough.”
“What? I have to walk up to go to my room?”
“You’re kidding! I’m dead tired, dammit-“
“Hey, you.” Jonghyun finally butts in, and the boy turns around while flipping his water-drenched hair rather gracefully. Jonghyun blinks, surprised, because he wasn’t supposed to look that graceful with eyeliner smudging down his face and his hair sticking around in odd places, but he did. “Um. Your name?”
“Key.” It was a simple, one-syllable word, crisp and sounding kind of cool. An English name. “Prince Key.”
“Yeah, never heard of you.” Jonghyun says, grabbing him by his (admittedly narrow) shoulders and shoving him up the stairs. “Go and take a shower, you stink.”
“Take that back!” Key warns, twisting and turning to try and see Jonghyun, but Jonghyun has a firm grip on him, his palms feeling the dip and curve of his hollow bones. Jonghyun’s half-afraid that he would snap the boy in half. “I smell like the world’s best concoction of mixes!”
“Maybe in your dreams.” Jonghyun says breezily, and he thrusts him into a room, watching as the boy swiveled on the heels of his feet and turned around in one swift move, his dark feline eyes smoldering and practically glaring straight through his body. Jonghyun swallows subconsciously, and he clears his throat, peering in through the half closed door. “Don’t come out ‘till you’re all clean and shiny!”
He could practically hear Key’s whines from across the hall.
One hour, twenty-minutes and fifty-four seconds later, Key emerges out from his room like a turtle poking out from its shell, dressed in clean clothes and his hair completely sleek and smooth from the insane amount of time he had spent on blow-drying it. Jonghyun’s flipping through his copy of Twenty Ways to Ride a Horse when Key slides into the couch opposite of his, draping his body over the armrest like a model on the cover of a fashion magazine.
“Your shower is pretty nice.” Key comments, and Jonghyun couldn’t exactly speak because he suddenly notices that his hair is bleached blond. A really, really light blond, with subtle lavender streaks laced in between the bangs. “Could be better equipped, of course. But pretty decent nonetheless.”
“Thank you, your majesty.” Jonghyun says sarcastically, but his eyes are still trained on the dyed hair. It was clipped at the nape of his neck, revealing studded earrings jutting out like weapons. Jonghyun thinks that it’s kind of hot until he realizes he’s staring at some random guy that barreled into his house at 2 am in the morning, so he looks down at the floor instead. Key doesn’t miss the action and sighs, the sound rather loud in the empty manor.
“Hey, prince.” Key says, reaching for the bowl of chips that was currently nestled in between Jonghyun’s arms. Jonghyun edges away. Key leans in. “Thanks. I know I was kind of rude, but I’m really grateful that you let me stay.”
“What?” Jonghyun’s not really listening- he was too intent on nudging the bowl away from the skinny boy’s reach. Key frowns with disapproval, mutters a sentence that sounds suspiciously like ‘stupid puppy prince’, and yanks the bowl out from Jonghyun’s hands. Jonghyun lets out a noise of frustration but shuts up once he sees Key glaring at him.
“I said, fwankk chuu.” Key shoves a handful of chips in his mouth, making his words sound muffled and sprinkling crumbs all over Jonghyun. Jonghyun recoils from disgust, shaking off the crumbs off of his brand-new shirt, and Key looks absolutely pleased with himself. “I’m going to bed now. Bye, Jonghyun.”
Jonghyun’s too preoccupied with brushing off the chip crumbs to ask how the other knew his name when he didn’t even introduce himself.
Jonghyun’s been asleep for the grand total of three minutes when he hears a loud, annoying knocking at his door. He blinks blearily a few times while reaching over to check the time- three am goddammit- and he groans, flopping back onto his bed. He tries to think so hard that the person would leave, since he saw a TV show one day about telepathic powers, but the knocking seemed to just get louder, if that was even possible. Mustering all of his willpower, he shoves his feet into his slippers and stretches, postponing the moment of opening the door. Whoever it was, he was about to get a beating, that was for sure.
Without him even walking over, the door swings open, revealing the silhouette of a rather angry Key holding something round in his hands. Jonghyun barely has time to even take a breath when Key struts forward, grabs his collar and shakes him back and forth, all while yelling more than a few swear words.
“There’s,” here Key exhales, his breath smelling like mint and pizza-flavored chips, which was kind of gross but kind of nice at the same time, “a fucking bead under my mattress.”
Jonghyun doesn’t know whether to laugh or get angry. “You woke me up because there’s a bead under your mattress?”
“It’s not just any bead!” Key throttles Jonghyun’s collar, bunching up his shirt into permanent wrinkles. Jonghyun takes a mental note to get the maid to iron it for him in the morning. “It’s green, and I hate green.”
“Green’s my favorite color.”
“Whatever.” Key rolls his eyes, grabbing Jonghyun’s hands and thrusting something small into his hand. “Here. Take the bead, and tell your servants to take care of their belongings better.”
Jonghyun stares at the bead, and opens his mouth to speak. “Um, this isn’t-“
Key slams the door close.
“-a bead.” He ends weakly. He looks around, and there’s barely even a trace left that Key was in this room just a few seconds ago. All he had in his hands was the green bead that was not a bead.
It was a flat, gross pea that no normal human would ever feel under soft, thick 1000-count silk bed sheets.
“I slept rather terribly, for your information.” Key says in lieu of a good morning. “I had to get your servants to stack up mattresses because of that damn bead. And then I had to stick my hand- stick my hand!- under the mattress and voila, a stupid, ugly green bead emerged. You are a terrible host.”
“You are a terrible guest.” Jonghyun says while squeezing toothpaste onto his toothbrush. “And- wait, you stacked up mattresses?”
“I have delicate skin.” Key says defensively, adjusting his bangs accordingly. He fluffs up his hair and smiles at his reflection, making Jonghyun almost choke on his water. “Hey! What was that reaction for?!”
“Sorry. It’s just.” Jonghyun swallows the water down and refills his cup. “You smiled.”
“I smile all the time.”
“Okay, whatever.” Key huffs and leans against the bathroom counter, crossing his pyjama-clad legs in a rather sleek way. Jonghyun finds himself staring at them for a while until Key kicks him behind his shins. “Quit staring.”
“What are you doing in my bathroom?” Jonghyun changes the topic rather abruptly, because a) he was just caught checking out some whiny prince’s legs, and b) he was currently wearing only his pyjama bottoms and was completely shirtless on his torso, which was kind of awkward but he kind of likes the fact that Key was not-so-subtly looking at his biceps. “I’m trying to brush my teeth here.”
“Oh, right.” Key blinks, as though he just remembered what he was here for. Jonghyun was pretty sure Key had forgotten about what he was going to say since he tends to nitpick on every little thing. “My carriage is still broken, so I have to stay here for a short while. Or I could borrow yours.”
Jonghyun vaguely remembers his parents saying something like “We’re going on a trip so we’re taking away all of the carriages, okay?” and running off together like a giggling new couple eloping out of the country. “You can’t borrow mine- my parents took them all.”
“Well.” Key says.
“Well.” Jonghyun echoes.
They both stand in silence for a while, Jonghyun brushing his teeth, Key turning this way and that to make sure his hair was perfectly in place. Jonghyun’s unused to the silence- with Jinki, he could chatter about anything and everything, but with Key, it was usually the other boy that spoke a mile a minute, his unique voice complaining about the tiniest things and generally making Jonghyun regret his decision of inviting him into his manor.
Except Key has a really, really pretty smile.
And Jonghyun likes pretty smiles.
“Then you’re stuck with me for a few days.” Key finally finishes touching up on his hair and looks at Jonghyun through the reflection, which was kind of an eerie effect since he could only see the side profile of the boy. “Hope I don’t intrude too much.”
“You’ve already intruded.”
“Which is why I included too much.”
Key was a clingy person. And by clingy, he meant cannot-walk-down-the-fucking-hallway-wit
To be fair, his castle was pretty big, and he had gotten lost in it more than a few times. But Key could’ve called over a servant to walk him to the water fountain, or just went down to the kitchen for a late-night snack. Instead, he contented himself on shaking Jonghyun awake at ungodly hours in the morning and whispering, “Jonghyun, I need another mattress.”
“You know,” Jonghyun said one day in the garden, stirring his tea absent-mindedly, “you don’t have to keep on telling me to get stuff for you. Go to the servants or something.”
“But I don’t know them.” Key says, picking up his tea cup and sipping from it quietly. He has his slender fingers wrapped around the gold porcelain handle and a pinky in the air, looking like the epitome of grace. “And you’re nice, so.”
Jonghyun can practically feel the smirk on the other’s face. “Nice. Is that all you have to say, when I’ve been giving you free lodging, free food, free clothes, free-“
“Yeah, yeah.” Key waves him off. Jonghyun feels slightly insulted. “Thank you very much, your royal highness.”
“I’m just going to leave you.” Jonghyun announces. “I’m going to do my duties.”
“You have duties?” Key says incredulously, as though he thought Jonghyun was just a jobless bum that sat around drinking tea all day long. Which he kind of was, now that he thought about it.
Jonghyun feels his confidence slowly trickle away.
“Yes. I need to find a… a wife.” For a moment, Jonghyun had actually forgotten what he was supposed to do during the day. Ride a horse, maybe, or go and visit the villagers so that they would give him free cantaloupes. Key actually paused mid-sip, the teacup still raised in the air like a witch waving around her scepter.
“You need to find a wife?” Somehow everything Key says ends in a question mark, making Jonghyun feel really stupid and kind of like a shallow idiot. “You’re not married?”
“There’s a reason why you don’t see a female draped across my arms.” Jonghyun says, and Key cracks a smile, his high cheekbones rosy and making him look kind of cute. Jonghyun isn’t sure whether or not it was normal to call another male cute, but he kind of brushes the thought away. Clearly, he needed to go and hang around his lady friends more often.
“Well, I’m not married either.” Key places the teacup back onto its little saucer, stretching out and kicking his legs onto the empty white wooden chair. “To be honest, I’ve had so many candidates that my parents are getting sick of it. You could probably unfurl a scroll with all the crossed out names and it’d stretch from here,” Key points at the teacup, “to there.” Jonghyun looks at the direction and sees a snowy-capped mountain, peeking out from behind a thick forest of trees. It was at least a few hundred thousand kilometers away.
“That’s a lot.” Jonghyun says very intelligently.
“I’ve reached the triple digits the other day.” Jonghyun finds himself saying, and Key appraises him with new-found interest, leaning over the table. “I think I’m going to be single forever.”
“Well, then, cheers to our bachelorhood.” Key raises his teacup, as if to toast, and Jonghyun clinks his teacup against his. It suddenly occurs to him how weird the scene must’ve looked, two grown men having a tea party and talking about them being single losers, and he starts to snicker. Key catches his eye and tries to suppress his laughter, but pretty soon they’re both laughing and snorting, the sound echoing in the silent garden. Key’s a few centimeters closer than before and Jonghyun could almost feel the other’s body heat against his, and the sky’s blue and the clouds are incredibly fluffy and wow Key has such a nice voice.
It’s all fine and dandy until Jonghyun accidentally spills his hot tea over Key.
Jinki likes to think of himself as a very observant person, but when he sees Key and Jonghyun waddle down the halls with arms around each other’s shoulders and laughing like crazy lunatics, he figured that even a blind potato could tell what was going on. Which was why he had deemed himself to take on the job of letting Jonghyun know what was going on, because Jonghyun was about as vigilant as a pear. Except that would be rather insulting to pears everywhere, so he may be as attentive as a rock.
“So I guess you found your princess?” Jinki says right after Jonghyun waved good-bye to Key. Jonghyun blinks and turns around, his hands still in the air and his eyes wide open.
“What? What are you talking about?” Jonghyun asks, looking very confused. “I’m still a wife-less idiot.”
“What about Key?” At this, Jonghyun practically bursts out laughing, clapping his hands and looking as though he was having a fit. After a few seconds, he realized that Jinki was just staring at him, so he coughs and brushes his bruised hands down his pants.
“Key doesn’t have a wife either.” Jinki sighs loudly and shakes his head, and Jonghyun has the vague sense that Jinki was making fun of him, which doesn’t abide well with Jonghyun’s pride. In all of their years as friends so far, Jonghyun had been the one poking fun at Jinki, not the other way around.
“What I meant is, Key is your ideal person.” Jinki says the words out slowly, as though Jonghyun was a five-year old that was still learning his ABC’s. Jonghyun wrinkles his nose and looks rather offended, flicking his bangs back indignantly.
“No.” Jonghyun says without even batting an eye. “He’s a whiny bitch. Great fun, though. I think we should invite him to the Christmas Party this year.”
“What do you mean no?” Jinki ignores the latter part of his sentence and continues on before Jonghyun got distracted and started talking about the garlands of fake mistletoe that he did not want. Jonghyun tends to change the topic without even realizing. “He is!”
“How?” Jonghyun looks utterly amused, and Jinki resists the urge to smack his face.
“He has feline eyes.”
“Oh, yeah. He does. But-“
“He has dyed hair.”
“Whatever, anyone in the world could have it-“
“He has a graceful walk.”
“And he has really delicate skin.”
Jonghyun opens his mouth to speak.
And then he promptly closes it afterwards.
“You know,” Jonghyun says at last, “I think I am very superficial.”
Key had argued and griped to Jonghyun practically every day about how much he wanted to go and check out possible princess candidates with him, and he had finally caved in, letting him come with to the meeting. Key had looked positively delighted, which Jonghyun had no idea why, since it wasn’t exactly great fun to crush hopeful women’s dreams. (Some of them had even sent hate mail and threats, which he had promptly thrown into the fire.) When asked, Key had merely replied, “It’s entertaining to watch other people’s love lives.”
Jonghyun had contemplated on kicking Key out of his house after that, but then decided against it because Key would probably come back and climb through the window during the middle of the night or something.
“You sure you want to come?” Jonghyun had asked for what seemed like the billionth time. “It’s not going to be interesting. It’s probably the same as yours.”
“Jjong,” Key grabs his wrist and looks up from underneath his eyelashes, his lips formed into a pout, “shut up for a second, alright?”
Jonghyun nods mutely, mostly because he was too surprised at the fact that he called him Jjong and also the fact that he looked like a nymph or some other fairytale-like creature, ready to cast him under a love spell and twirl around under the rainbow and the squirrels and…
Jonghyun shakes his head, trying to get his sanity back. If this continued on, he may actually have to ask the town doctor to give him a check-up.
“Anyway, there might be a girl here that I like. Might as well go and check them out, you know?” Key swings his arms by his sides in a carefree way, skipping down the hall and generally causing a racket in the normally docile castle. It suddenly hits Jonghyun that yes, Key was looking for a wife as well, and then it’d be perfect. They could both get married and Jonghyun could shake off the fact that Jinki was right and Key was pretty much close to his ideal type.
Close. He was close to his ideal type. Besides the fact that the outside was pretty damn fucking perfe- close to perfect, his personality was far from it. Probably. Maybe. He had no idea at the moment.
Please let there be a pretty girl that I fall in love with at the interview, Jonghyun prays for the first time in months. He hasn’t prayed since he was 9 years old and he had swiped a chocolate Popsicle from the farm. Needless to say, it ended in pretty bad terms.
“Freshen up and smile!” Key orders, pinching the side of Jonghyun’s cheek. Jonghyun recoils from the contact, but Key’s nails dig in, making it kind of impossible to wrench away from his grip. “No girl wants to see a sour face.”
“No girl wants to see nail indents on the side of my face, either!” Jonghyun swats the hand away and Key grins, looking satisfied.
“Okay, let’s go in and hit on girls!” Key fist pumps in the air, and Jonghyun couldn’t help but do it as well, them both yelling and screaming and basically causing a ruckus in the halls.
“Cross out number 134.” Key says, leaning in behind Jonghyun to check out the list. He uses his nails to make a crease in the girl’s name, creating a black line. Jonghyun can hear the other munching on his lollipop, his teeth making loud cracking noises against the hard candy. “She wasn’t very nice.”
“Nope, she wasn’t.” Jonghyun agrees and uses a pen to make the line more obvious. Key slinks in to the seat beside him, gazing intently at the rolled-up paper.
“Oh, and also number 152. Who does she think she is, ordering around people to get her strawberries and crumpets, for god’s sake?” Key sounds completely agitated, and Jonghyun refrains from mentioning the fact that Key didn’t seem to find it wrong to order people around to get him lavender-scented pillows so that he could ‘sleep better’. “If she was hungry, she should’ve eaten at home. She’s a no-no.”
“Alright, alright.” Jonghyun crosses her out as well and sighs, placing the pen down. “You know, we’re not going to finish narrowing down candidates tonight.”
“You’re never going to finish, Jjong.” Key smells like the lemon lollipop he was just biting on, the white stick jutting out from his lips like a cigarette. “Did you like any of them?”
“No.” Jonghyun says immediately. Key places his head into the palm of his hand, staring at Jonghyun through the corners of his eyes.
“Exactly.” Key takes the stick out from his mouth, twirling it around his slender fingers absent-mindedly. “But we’re still forced to marry regardless of whether we like them or not. Royalty is such a fickle pain in the ass.” Key’s voice is acid-like, adopting a cynical tone and sounding as though he hated it with a passion. Jonghyun doesn’t know why- besides the fact that they had a lot of responsibilities and such, he would still prefer to be a noble than to be poor and beg for food.
“Some of them are really pretty.” Jonghyun admits, fiddling with his fingers. “But I don’t want a pretty princess. I want a real princess.”
“A real one, eh?” Key throws his lollipop stick towards the trash can. It went in one fell swoop. “What’s that supposed to be?”
“Not really real, I guess.” Jonghyun tries to rephrase his sentence, because his standards of ‘real’ had been thrown around and knocked down courtesy of Jinki. “I just want someone I like.”
“Not going to happen.” Key says. “Not unless you run off and elope with a village girl or something.”
“Wanna elope with me?” The words come out of Jonghyun’s mouth without him even realizing, and he only half-registers Key’s mixed expression of amusement and horror before he continues on speaking. “No, wait, I mean like, I like you, but not like like you but you said someone you like then you elope and-“
“Jonghyun, I have no idea what you’re saying.” Key looks kind of lost, and Jonghyun hates the fact that his mind is traitorously thinking about how cute he looked at the moment. “But I’m not going to elope with you anytime soon.”
“Why?” It comes out like a childish whine, and Jonghyun wants to take it back but he can’t, since he had already spoken it aloud.
“Why?” Key almost laughs but holds it in, his cheeks flushed pink. He looks positively giddy with happiness, and Jonghyun kind of wants to reach over and squeeze his cheeks. “Because I’m not a village girl, you’re too trusting and… ugh.”
“Ugh.” Jonghyun repeats rather humorlessly, his tone devoid of all emotion. “What does ugh mean? And how am I too trusting?”
“It means…” Key gets up and slides the chair away, making the wood scrape against the floor in a painful way. “That we need to go for dinner. Come on, Jonghyun.”
Key leaves and Jonghyun merely stares at his back, watching as the boy slips out the door like a cat and wonders half-heartedly to himself if the boy would ever come back.