vampires continue expanding their sovereignty by appointing royal families in each land they conquer. to appease the townsfolk, vampire princes all over the mainland are wedding humans. through one of these marriages, a human unveils many secrets the royal vampire family hides.
art by the sweet @adri🥛slow
• this is an attempt at a serious plot please bare with me trying to be a writer ™
• fantasy setting
• political marriage. slow burn. one-sided enemies to lovers.
• secret identity. lesbians.
• this is a commission out of my au ideas. thank you for all your insight
A crowd of angry people blocks the road leading to Dongye’s Palace. It’s further away from the city center, but every citizen must be able to hear the loud cry of the protestors. “Give us back our town!”
And also, “Dongye belongs to the humans!”
Jimin stands behind the mob.
She was excited about today’s protest. She styled her long hair on a braid that fell around her nape not to end up disheveled, but some of the decisions taken by the organizers didn’t sit right with her. She still claps and cheers, but she’s not in front of the horde as usual.
As she watches people shout, she feels a presence coming closer. She stands straight, used to men coming up to her during protests, pretending to care about the opposition only to try to coax her inside their bed.
She relaxes when she sees Taehyung, though. Her best friend.
“Strange seeing you so far behind. Why are you not yelling today?” Taehyung asks, pressing his body to Jimin’s. He looks like he escaped his market booth to join the mob.
“Have you noticed how their chants have turned against the vampires instead of focusing on the monarchy?”
“The vampires are the new monarchy.”
“I know, but I thought we were protesting against the monarchy, not against a species. Just because the new royal family is undead doesn't make the undead our problem. Our problem should be that a royal family exists instead of democracy.”
“We went from a human royal family to a vampire one. The problem is the royal family, not that vampires rule over us. All of their chants are anti-vampire.”
Taehyung sighs. “Be careful when you say that aloud. Someone might think you’re a vampire lover.”
Jimin rolls her eyes.
Jimin doesn’t hate vampires, but she doesn’t like them either. But humans like to pretend vampires are worse than them. She thinks some humans should be as feared as vampires
She gazes into the crowd and finds a man already looking at her—the leader of the protesters’ group.
They don't hold gazes for long because people are moving closer to the Palace. He must be wondering why she isn't by his side.
There are many reasons why.
“If we want to overrule the vampires, we need more support from the citizens. It’s not enough with just a group of us.”
“You’ve already told me these things a thousand times. Sangkyung is the one that needs to hear them.” Taehyung must have seen the leader too.
“He never listens to me.”
“If you stand behind the crowd and don’t yell his anti-vampire chants, then yes, he won’t listen to you.”
“You were getting closer to the leaders before. You must go higher in the group’s hierarchy if you want to advise them on the protests. He won’t listen to a simple supporter.”
“He won’t listen to me because he’s always too busy staring at my tits.”
Taehyung makes a tiny sound.
Jimin allows herself to speak like that in front of Taehyung because they’ve been best friends since they were children.
Taehyung also allows himself to answer with a blank, “well, they’re very distracting.”
And because they’re friends, she doesn't get mad. “You’re an idiot.”
After small laughter, Jimin turns to Taehyung. “You could talk to him. He’ll listen to a smart working-class man like you.”
“Yes!” But before Jimin can start to talk, they hear shrieks. Taehyung and Jimin look down the road and see royal guards approaching.
“Fuck,” Taehyung says. “The Min family must have grown bored of us blocking the entrance of their new Palace.”
“Tae, we need to get out of here. I can't get arrested again.”
Taehyung nods before grabbing Jimin’s hand and dragging her away. The other protestors yell and run too.
A guard pulls Jimin to sit at the dining table. Hair slips out of her braid, giving her that disheveled look she was trying to avoid. Her mother stares at her in silence, jaw clenched since she opened the door and found her with two guards escorting her back home.
The older guard stands by the end of the table, and he's the one that speaks to her mother. “She was with the protestors again. We didn't take her to the dungeons because, luckily, there was no damage done to any property like last time. I see she has learned her lessons.”
The guard that had pulled her down to sit lets go of her upper arm and drops his hand in the crook of her neck and shoulder, touching the exposed skin. Jimin sits straight, and her mother’s eyes flicker to the man’s movements. “She’s a fast learner. Is she still in trouble?”
Just like Jimin, her mother wants the men to leave their home as fast as possible. “All the protestors need to be disciplined.”
Jimin hopes they don’t make her pay coins again. “How?” Her mother asks.
“We won't give her the same penalty as the men,” the older guard continues.
Jimin decides not to argue about gender inequality today. She doesn't want to go to the mine.
"I think the punishment for any lady her age would be not going to tonight's festival." Jimin tries hard not to snort. "But I doubt Jimin cares about going to the festival."
The younger guard gives her neck a firm squeeze, signaling her to answer. Jimin clenches her fists over her lap. “I didn’t get an invitation. In fact, I don’t think I’m allowed to go. I’m not participating in any of the Prince’s activities.”
“We know. But you’ll go tonight."
“You won’t participate with the rest of the women or have fun. You’ll help the guards. There’s going to be many of us working, and you and your mother will make us something to eat and drink. How does that sound?”
Jimin closes her eyes. They should just make her pay coins.
When the guards leave, Jimin stands and tries to apologize to her mother. But the woman flicks her off. "It's fine; I have the food I was taking to the market tomorrow. We'll-"
"Take a bath. I don't want the Prince to see you dirty."
They stare at each other.
After a second, it's the older woman who speaks. "I don't care what you do as long as you're careful. I don't mind cooking for more hours if that will prevent you from going to the dungeons. Just be careful tonight, Jimin. I don't like those guards."
Jimin only nods.
Her mother sells meals for the people working at the market that can't leave their stands. Every day, Jimin delivers the food around the market, so by now, she's used to carrying large amounts of food and drinks carefully packed.
But going to the festival is different.
Everyone wears their sweetest perfumes and finest clothes because the Prince will make an appearance. Meanwhile, Jimin smells like food, and she puts her hair up in a ponytail. Her blouse has small ruffles on the square neckline, and that's the prettiest aspect of her appearance.
It's late at night, and most people are more interested in the Prince, so no one notices Jimin. She finds the guard that was at her house in no time, and he tells her to spot the other guards and serve them.
"Smile while you're at it!" he taunts as she enters the festival.
Musicians are showcasing their talent, and there are also games and other activities. It looks fun, but Jimin isn't here for that. She finds guards all around the place, and she gives them rice and meat wrapped in leaves.
She forces herself to laugh at their suggestive jokes.
She wants to get it over with quickly, but after having to smile gently at another comment about how prettier she looks when she's not yelling in the streets, Jimin has to take a break. She stops by the sidelines of the festival, supporting herself in a column.
The festival takes place in the city center, and she enjoys seeing the dull streets turn bright with torches and flags. The faraway laughter of women makes her smile. At least the other girls are having fun.
The Prince invited many women to the festival. Jimin enjoys the view.
Most women are sporting expensive dresses that Jimin is sure they'd never wear to an event outdoors, but the Prince's presence makes everyone want to stand out in the crowd. The dresses are tight around the waist and chest and have low necks. Jimin doesn't know where to look.
Some girls walking around the festival recognize her. They wave at her shyly or enthusiastically, but Jimin can tell they're confused to find her at one of the new Prince's events. None of them dare get close, probably to avoid being associated with Jimin by other people.
Men's voices spoil Jimin's mood.
Next to her, a pair of guards also take a break, but they don't bother her, standing a few meters away. They have the meal Jimin gave them, and they're diving in hungrily. They praise the cooking, and Jimin feels slightly better.
Their conversation shifts after a few minutes.
“Have you noticed how younger vampires are smaller than the older ones? During the Jinhan battle, vampires looked huge to me but he’s small.”
“Are you talking about the Prince?”
“Yeah, he’s right there.”
She has cursed his family but has never seen the Prince up close. Jimin follows their gaze and tries to spot him between the crowd.
Even if he’s short and slim, he’s not hard to find. Pale skin and black hair, a pretty face, and a regal posture— that’s undoubtedly Prince Yoongi.
He stands between many women, talking animatedly. When he smiles, his fangs are visible. Jimin looks away quickly, feeling a shiver down her spine. She doesn’t hate vampires, but she doesn’t like them.
“They all look sick too,” the guard continues.
“Because they’re dead.”
“I know, but since they’ve stopped drinking human blood, they look even more malnourished. The Prince looks famished.”
Jimin hugs herself, feeling uneasy at the mention of drinking blood.
“Wait, do you believe that story? That they don't drink blood anymore?”
“The vampires say that so people will stop fearing them, but that’s a hard thing to do. They won't stop being freaks just because they say they don’t drink blood anymore, and they marry their princes to humans.”
“A lot of people eat that,” the other guard says. “I eat that.”
“Do you remember that he’s not even the heir? He’s the younger brother. He might marry a human, but a human won't be king in many years more. It’s a scam.”
“He’s doing a good job though. He’s organizing all these gatherings and getting to know all the possible brides.”
“You think he’s doing a good job and doesn't drink blood. You’re a vampire lover.”
“No, it’s not that.” The guards discuss for a minute. “My sister is trying for him to choose her,” the man finally admits.
“Ah, you want to become part of the royal family. That’s it.”
The guards continue teasing each other.
Months ago, after the vampires won the Jihnan battle against the human coalition, they expanded their empire to more regions, and they assigned a royal family to each province. They left the Min family as the new ruling family in Dangye.
Soon after, just as it had happened in every other region the vampires conquered, the Min family announced a marriage. The ruling family sent messages to all women between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five telling them to prepare: Prince Yoongi was going to pick a bride.
Jimin never got a letter.
The committee -the humans working with vampires as a transition team to teach them about Dangye and their issues- did not consider Jimin to be a good candidate for a bride. She hasn't participated in any Ball or festival the Prince has organized.
Many of Jimin’s friends have met Yoongi many times, and they’re all smitten with him. So bad they don't dare to greet Jimin when he’s around.
But suddenly, a shriek startles Jimin away from her thoughts and the man’s conversation.
“Jimin! What are you doing here?”
It’s friends from her school. Seohee, the most outgoing of them, is the one that pushes the other three girls across the street to gather around Jimin. They all look beautiful: pale dresses that fit the summer heat, hair in beautiful intricate styles, natural blush on her cheeks.
Seohee wraps her arms around Jimin’s waist in a friendly hug that makes Jimin tense. They’ve kissed many times, but Jimin is sure Seohee doesn’t count it as real kisses.
“Are you sure you want to do that? Someone from the committee might see you and think you’re a protestor.”
The other girls look nervous but Seohee laughs. “They won't think that!”
“What are you doing here, Jimin?” One of the girls repeats.
“I got into trouble earlier. I had to come and bring food for all the guards.” Jimin relaxes and throws her arm around Seohee’s shoulder.
“You’re always getting in trouble, Jimin,” one of the girls adds, but she isn't judging Jimin. Her tone is fond.
“Doesn’t that make me handsome?” Jimin asks.
The girls laugh at her choice of words. “It does make you attractive,” Seohee says. “In a mysterious way.”
Jimin snorts. “What are you saying? I hope you don't find troublemakers attractive, Seohee.”
“She likes boys that are up to no good!” Her friends tease.
“Is that so? Boys are so overrated.”
Jimin continues to tease -and flirt- but soon, she feels someone watching them.
She doesn't expect to look up and find the Prince gazing their way. He’s talking to someone else, but his eyes are on Jimin and her friends. Jimin’s face must show her surprise because her friends look over their shoulders, and that's when he waves.
“Oh, Gods, he’s watching us.”
Seohee is the only one to wave back. “Your Highness!” she greets happily.
His smile is endeared, and Jimin doesn't blame him. He excuses himself and comes closer to them. The other girls start to panic, but Jimin doesn't flinch, only watches him in his black clothes.
Seohee squirms away from her embrace with Jimin, and Jimin tries for the small gesture not to sting. She has bigger worries right now, which include facing the royal she’s always bad-mouthing at riots.
He might be small for a man, but up close, he’s taller than Jimin.
He’s taller by some inches. And he’s pretty. He’s absurdly pretty.
The girls bow faster than Jimin, but she remembers her manners even if she doesn't support the monarchy.
He hasn't stopped smiling. “Are you girls having fun?” His voice is softer than Jimin expected it to be.
The girls hurry to answer an affirmative, but Prince Yoongi is looking at her. “I haven’t seen you around.”
“I’m not participating in your search, Your Highness.”
“Why? Are you already married?”
“No, I have a criminal record for damaging the Palace’s property during protests.”
His smile is so wide Jimin sees his fangs again but this time she doesn't recoil. “My palace?”
“Yes and no. I’ve been in messy protests before your family settled here.”
He laughs softly as well. “How did you damage it?”
“I don't think that’s something the Prince should know.”
“But I’m curious,” he tilts his head. His cloak covers his neck and falls delicately over his slim frame. That’s the word to describe him: delicate. Jimin bites her lower lip, unsure how to answer, but the vampire laughs again. “I apologize. I won't mortify you further.”
“Maybe some other time you’ll tell me.”
Jimin holds his gaze and tries not to shiver at the shine in his eyes. “Who said you couldn’t participate in my search?”
“The committee. The ones in charge of transitioning from the previous royal family to your family.”
“I'll remember to have a word with them.”
Jimin isn't flustered like she should probably be. She’s confused and nervous. “Your highness.”
“What do you have there?” Prince Yoongi points at the bags by Jimin’s feet. Jimin notices that his hands are pale and big.
“It’s food for the guards,” Jimin whispers.
“Did you prepare it?”
“My mom did. I just helped chop and put everything together.”
“Can I try, then?”
“It’s food for guards, Your Highness.”
“And? You think a Prince shouldn't eat the same as his guards?” Yoongi asks.
It could be a trick question, and Jimin should hold her tongue around the Prince, but she decides to be honest. “No, I think a guard should eat better than a Prince. I think a leader should eat the same as his guards.”
“I can't try, then?”
“Jimin!” her friends scold her.
She thinks she should take her words back, but the Prince only chuckles. “That’s fine. Maybe when you tell me about your damage to our Palace, it can be over something you’ve prepared.”
“Maybe, Your Highness.” Jimin doubts it but she keeps that to herself.
The Prince stays.
“What’s your name?” The Prince plays with his fingers. And the slight movement makes Jimin wonder if the Prince isn't as nonchalant as he pretends to be. It’s cute that he’s nervous.
“It was a pleasure meeting you, Jimin.”
Jimin bows. “Your highness.”
After the festival, Jimin doesn’t hear about the Prince again. She doesn’t hear about anyone from the opposition group either. When she sees him in the market, Taehyung tells her that most of them are doing work at the mines, so he doubts there will be any protest anytime soon.
It’s a few weeks later that Sangkyung approaches Jimin while she’s handing out meals to some merchants. She’s counting coins when someone knocks on her side. “Jimin.”
Sangkyung is older than Jimin by more than fifteen years, but he doesn’t look like a forty-year-old man.
Jimin thinks it's the money. Sangkyung inherited a large sum at a young age, making him one of the wealthiest citizens of Dangye. He doesn't do manual labor like the rest of the people from the opposition, and he funds most of their protests: food, bails, and banners.
His wealth is a greater reason why he's the leader of the protestors rather than his ideas. But he probably believes his appeal relies on his thoughts.
The merchants from the market bow their heads at Sangkyung, and he bends lower than them before turning to Jimin.
“Sir,” Jimin murmurs.
He grabs her arm, leading her away from the stalls to have a private conversation. Jimin can feel some eyes on them. On many occasions, people have told her that they believe she should marry Sangkyung for his wealth, status, and evident attraction for her.
But there’s a significant issue with him. Something worse than his anti-vampire beliefs.
He’s a man.
“You haven’t come to the tavern lately.”
“I’m trying to stay away from guards.”
“We’re meeting by the Palace on Sunday. There are rumors that the Prince has chosen a bride.”
"He's going to visit her that day. We don't know at what hour, but we'll be waiting for his departure or arrival at the Palace. That vampire will have to see us."
"I'll be there."
"In the front?"
"Perhaps," Jimin says cautiously. "I have to be careful with the guards."
She takes a deep breath, gathers her ideas, and tries to go for it, "and I feel like our demands lately have shifted. I can't say I feel fully identified with the chants-"
"Jimin, you don't come to the tavern, and now this? Do you want to quit?"
"I didn't say that."
She remembers Taehyung warning her, and she doesn't want Sangkyung to call her a vampire lover, but she speaks. "Lately, the protests feel more and more about the undead than the monarchy. I thought we wanted to overthrow the Crown, not eradicate vampires."
"You've seen him what- once? Is the Vampire Prince that pretty that even you lose your conviction? I thought you were different from all the ladies that are fawning over him."
Jimin looks away from the older man. She knew there was no reason to bring this up in conversation.
"I couldn't care less about that vampire," Jimin admits. "I care about losing the focus of our concerns as the opposition to the monarchy. And I don't think there's anything wrong with girls finding him attractive. He is a handsome man, after all."
Sangkyung raises an eyebrow.
"Young and charming," she adds just to spite Sangkyung. "But that's irrelevant. He's a Prince -vampire or not, pretty or not- and I think our province shouldn't be ruled by Kings and Princes. Don't you think the same?"
"I think the same. But a Vampire Prince is worse."
"A vampire royal family is worse than a royal family. It's absurd if you don't see it."
Jimin scoffs. "I think you're wrong."
Before Jimin can argue more, Sangkyung tilts his head. "Look, your friends are over there. Maybe you want to talk about the handsome Prince with them."
Jimin looks over her shoulder and sees Seohee linking arms with another girl. They wave and Jimin smiles. She much rather converse with women than speak a second more with Sangkyung.
"Yes, I should go fawn over the Prince." She stares defiantly at him. "I'll be there on Sunday."
She walks away and joins the girls. They are glancing between her and Sangkyung suggestively, and they giggle cutely. "Jimin! You're always talking to that man."
"It's not what you have in mind," Jimin links her arm with Seohee's and lets the girls drag her down the market.
Jimin enjoys the girl’s rambling about what they have to buy, and she adds comments here and there. Her mood improves until the calmer of the pair tilts forward to meet Jimin’s eyes. “Jimin, did you know the Prince asked about you?”
“Soojin! You weren't supposed to tell her!”
“He invited us for tea at one of his properties and asked for discretion,” Seohee scolds.
“You won’t tell him I told her?”
“Of course not! He’ll be sad.”
Jimin is speechless and confused by the piece of information, but she chuckles. “He’ll be sad?”
“He’s a sensitive man.”
“Sensitive?” Jimin asks
“He’s calm and sweet. He doesn't get angry or raise his voice. He sulks cutely,” Seohee says dreamily.
Jimin scoffs, but she shouldn't be surprised. Taehyung is a sensitive guy. Maybe Prince Yoongi is too, and Taehyung isn't the only sweet man to exist.
Soojin agrees with Seohee, and after hearing Jimin’s scoff, she defends the Prince. “He’s not like other men, Jimin. He listens to us, actually listens, and maybe it’s because he’s a vampire. He sees things differently.”
“Is that so?” Jimin doesn't believe it.
Both girls nod.
“What did he ask about me?”
Seohee slaps Soojin’s arm lightly. “He asked for discretion. I’m sorry, but we can't tell, Jimin.”
“You’re the worse. You tell me just the smallest bit of gossip and except me not to be curious.” Jimin squeezes Seohee’s waist, making her giggle.
Jimin doesn't want to lose her time thinking about vampires or Princes, nor she’s curious to know if certain men are good or not. Making ladies giggle is far more interesting.
On Sunday, Jimin gets ready to go to the Palace. She knows she won't stand in front, so she lets her blond hair half up and down in a simple hairstyle. She wears her most tattered long brown skirt, paired with a pale purple blouse, hoping not to be that eye-catching.
Jimin is doing the buttons of her blouse when someone knocks on their home’s door. Her mother says she’ll get it, and Jimin only worries when she hears a loud scared gasp.
Jimin hurries out of her room with the first buttons of her blouse still undone. “Mom!?” she calls out.
Jimin knew that the Prince had been asking about her, but she didn’t expect this. Not on Sunday, when he was supposedly visiting his chosen bride.
Prince Yoongi stands at her doorstep with a gentle smile directed at Jimin’s mother as he ushers her to rise from her deep bow.
Next to him, a tall, pale boy is wearing a knight’s armor. He’s different from any guard, and it doesn't take Jimin long to notice that he’s a vampire.
“Your Highness?” Jimin croaks and bows low out of habit.
“Jimin,” Yoongi smiles. Again, his fangs make Jimin flinch.
“I apologize for coming unannounced. It seems to be a bad time.”
Jimin remembers her appearance, and she fumbles with her blouse and uselessly pets her hair. Yoongi’s eyes flicker to her chest briefly, but he focuses on her mother. The vampire knight only stares at the wall.
“My lady,” he says. “Last time I saw Jimin, she was carrying meals you prepared, but I couldn't try any, and I haven't stopped thinking about it. Of course, only if you have something that you can share with me.”
Jimin’s mother nods rapidly. “Yes, Your Highness. Come in.”
Jimin’s mother enters the kitchen while gesturing around and telling the Prince to take a seat. The house is small, and the kitchen is right at the entrance. Prince Yoongi and his knight look out of place, but the Prince seems content. He walks closer to Jimin after a second.
“Can I talk to you?” he glances at the kitchen and his knight, who stands by the door. “Privately?”
“There’s not much room here, Your Highness.”
“It’s important,” he whispers against her ear.
Jimin takes a deep breath, trying not to think about what the Prince will tell her.
“Mother, the Prince wants to see the house. I’ll show him around.”
Yoongi’s lips stretch into a tight smile. Jimin and her mother lock gazes across the room. Both women are tense, but they try to play it off. “Alright, darling.”
“Jungkook, stay here,” Yoongi tells the knight.
There's nothing to show around. Jimin solely enters her room. The Prince follows and closes the door behind him.
More than being alone with a vampire, Jimin is frightened about being alone with a man. A man that seems to want her.
But the prince keeps his distance.
“I asked about you,” he starts playing with his fingers again. He’s nervous.
“I didn’t know.” Jimin protects her friends. Maybe he won't like that, they told her.
“I didn't want you to know. I wanted to be discreet in case I changed my mind.”
“Changed your mind about what?”
“What I’m about to offer you.”
Jimin grows tense. “Offer me,” she repeats.
The prince steps forward but halts. “You are aware I’m looking for a bride.”
“I’m not participating in the search. The committee doesn’t think I’m a good option-”
“Why would I care about that?”
“The festival wasn't the first time I’ve seen you. I approached you that night because I thought you were familiar. I remember seeing you at those anti-monarchy rallies before, and I think it would be important to have someone like you representing the humans in Court.”
“If you want to marry someone with different opinions from yours and that is a voice for human concerns, why would you want to marry me and not a more important figure of the opposition?”
“A leader would never agree to marry me. But a supporter like you could accept.”
The Prince seems to know more details about Jimin than she expected.
“Plus, the leaders are too old for me. They escape my age bracket. And objectively, you are the most beautiful human I’ve seen here,” he says with a blank expression. Jimin doesn’t know if he means it.
As if reading her mind, the Prince adds, “I’ve met every woman your age. That's how I’ve been able to prove that statement.”
Even though it's a compliment, it doesn't sound like one. Maybe the amount of information the Prince dropped on her has left Jimin in a turmoil.
“Your Highness, I’m flattered by your words and your offer. I’m sure every lady would love to hear such compliments coming from you and your choice regarding your bride,” Jimin rambles nervously, “but I don’t know-”
Yoongi hums, interrupting her. “Can I ask something personal?”
“What is it?”
Yoongi’s demeanor changes slightly when he closes the distance between them, getting into her space. Jimin stands straight in alert. He looks down at her, at her lips or chest, before whispering, “do you like women?” Jimin gulps at the unexpected question.
He doesn't let Jimin answer. “You see, I saw you at the Festival with the girls. I heard you talking to them, flirting with them. And I asked around, and some people told me certain gossip about you.”
“Bad gossip?” Jimin is scared.
“I would say it’s good gossip for me.”
Jimin tries to think why her affinity and attraction for women would be something appealing to a man, and she’s quick to recoil. She presses her hand to Yoongi’s flat chest and pushes him away. “I’m not interested in what you have to offer.”
“You haven’t finished listening.”
“If you want me to marry you and let me have a female mistress as long as you get to watch us fuck- I’m not interested.”
The corner of Yoongi’s eyes crinkles when he laughs. “How did you come up with something like that?”
“Men are disgusting like that.”
“Well, I agree.”
Jimin is taken aback by his answer. She squints her eyes, and Yoongi shifts even closer. Gaze flicking down to her lips again. “Jimin, I like women too.”
Jimin snorts at the absurdity. “Of course you do. You are looking-”
“No, you don’t understand. I like them the way you do.”
Jimin is offended by his audacity. “No. I’m sorry, Your Highness. I doubt you love women the way I do.”
“You have to believe me that I do. What kind of man would notice that you love women just from hearing an interaction and some gossip? A man wouldn’t take it seriously.”
“A man wouldn't call it ‘like’ or ‘love.’ He’d think it's just games, but I know it’s not games. I know firsthand, Jimin. I know you love women because I do too.”
Jimin is dizzy. “What is Your Highness trying to tell me?”
“You’re smart, aren’t you? You’ll figure it out.”
Jimin understands some of the implications behind the Prince’s words, but she doesn't see how they could be true or work.
“Are you-?” Jimin tries to ask, but the Prince doesn’t let her finish.
“Why don’t you think well about the questions you want to ask me?”
“I don't think we should be in your room for that long. Your mother is outside, and I want to court you, so I should return to her and eat her food.”
“I’ll return tomorrow if you want to keep talking about this.”
“You’re setting me up,” Jimin argues.
"Setting you up how?"
"We can keep talking about this now, but you want an excuse to see me again," Jimin explains.
"Is that bad?" The Prince smirks, and Jimin thinks she's seeing him under a different light for once. The fangs don't scare her that much this time.
Jimin keeps quiet, and the Prince continues. "I suppose you understand that this is something that we can only discuss privately."
"Your proposal?" Jimin asks innocently.
"No. If you agree to my offer, then I think everyone will have to know about my intentions with you."
"I meant my secret," the Prince decides to say. His choice of words makes Jimin even more sure of her beliefs. She wants to interrogate the Prince, but he tilts his head and brings a hand to Jimin's chin. He squeezes before asking, "you won't tell anyone, right?"
Jimin doesn't slap his hand away; he removes it at his own pace. "I won't tell anyone about your secret either," he says. "We can talk more about it tomorrow. Once you've organized your questions. And then, you'll have an answer for me?"
"After we speak more on this."
"I should join my knight and your mother outside. It's not proper of a gentleman like me to stay in a maiden's room," he says so with a light-hearted tone. As if he was joking. About the gentleman part or the maiden part, Jimin can't be sure. "Will you lead the way?"
Jimin walks past him to open the door. Outside, Her mother jumps from her seat with an urgency in her eyes, a silent question. Then, without saying a word, she wonders if Jimin is okay.
Jimin nods before guiding the Prince to a chair. "Have a seat, Your Highness."
Jimin's mother doesn't ask what happened in her room. Instead, both of them let the Prince lead the conversation as he wonders about their job and how much they cook in a day.
However, Jimin believes the vampire already knows everything there is to know about her and her family.
The knight eats everything Jimin's mother gives him, but he doesn't say a word. The Prince praises the meal enough for two people.
When he stands up and says it's time to go, Jimin and her mother accompany him to the door.
"I'll see you tomorrow?" he glances at Jimin.
When he's gone, the tension dissipates, and Jimin's mother stops straightening her back. She threads a hand through her hair before meeting Jimin's eyes. "What did he want?"
"Oh, mother. You know what he wanted."
A gasp, and suddenly, Jimin's hands are being held. "Jimin!"
"Did he ask?"
Jimin doesn't share her mother's enthusiasm but smiles a little. "He offered."
"Why didn't he say anything to me? What did you tell him?"
"That I needed time to think about it."
"Jimin!" This time, it's her scolding voice. "How can you say that to a Prince?"
Jimin shrugs. "I think he likes that about me." Her mother doesn't buy it, squinting her eyes at her. "That I'm feisty," Jimin settles for a word she has heard many people use to describe her.
Her mother lets go of her hands to pinch her cheek. "He must like this."
"What did you do in your room? I hope you behaved like a lady."
"I did! We just talked about his intentions with me." Jimin doesn't tell her about the Prince's cryptic comments. She'll keep his secret to herself.
"Wait- is your room clean?"
"It's seen better days."
Jimin takes comfort in her's mother admonishing words and her shriek when she sees Jimin's unmade bed. She'll enjoy this moment and ignore the reality that is about to hit her. The Prince wants to marry her, and her answer will change everything. Any reply will change everything.
After some hours, another loud knock makes Jimin and her mother tense. "Another marriage proposal?" Her mother teases Jimin as she walks to the door.
She giggles when she opens it, though.
"It seems not. It's just Taehyung."
Outside, Taehyung looks as pale as a vampire.
Taehyung bows and enters the small house. Before he can say a word, Jimin stops her task in the kitchen; she grabs a cloth and cleans her hands. "Let's go to my room, Taehyung."
"Two men in your room in one day, Jimin? Should I be worried?" Jimin's mother continues to tease.
Jimin offers her a bright smile, but Taehyung doesn't seem amused at all. "He was in your room?" he asks once Jimin closes the door.
He sits on the bed, spreading his legs, and Jimin supports herself on the door, hands behind her back. "Yes."
"He wants to marry you."
"How do you know he was here?"
"He's not exactly subtle! He left his fancy carriage down the road, and he's always with those huge vampire knights! Those are hard to miss."
Jimin can't argue with that.
"Everyone knows he was here," Taehyung adds. "The protestors know."
Jimin sighs at that, preparing to hear everyone's opinions regarding this. She pulls herself off the wall to sit next to Taehyung on the bed. He's waiting for her to say anything, but she doesn't.
“Are you going to marry him?” Taehyung asks.
Jimin doesn't know what to say.
She hates the monarchy, and she thinks the answer should be easy because of that. The answer would be easy if the Prince hadn't implied certain things about himself in this same room. But Jimin won't mention any of that to Taehyung.
"Isn't this an opportunity?"
"Both of us would gain something if we get married," Jimin says out loud for the first time. "Yoongi would marry someone who he believes will connect his family to the humans, and I can do more for the opposition from the inside than the outside."
"Jimin, are you listening to yourself?"
She is. And she's sure of her reasoning.
"Yes! What are we going to do if Yoongi marries a human that isn't against the monarchy? Continue yelling outside the Palace as everyone in Dangye celebrates a union between a vampire and a human?"
“If the opposition continues with their anti-vampire nonsense, the townsfolk won't join us. If I live in that Palace, if I get to know the Royal Family and find something that will turn the town against them, we’ll overthrow the Crown like we always wanted to do.”
“Those are many ‘if’s Jimin,” Taehyung says.
“I’ll find dirt on the vampires. There must be something they’re hiding that will put the town against them.” Jimin faces Taehyung. “Sangkyung won’t listen to me, and at this rate, the monarchy won't ever leave us behind.”
“You don't have to be a heroine,” Taehyung tries.
“I’ll just do what’s the best considering the opportunities that have surfaced.”
“Are you willing to go through marriage with a vampire because of that? With a royal?” Taehyung asks. “You’ll hate that life. You’ll be alone.”
“For our town? For the oposittion? For democracy? Yes! I’d marry him.”
Jimin doesn't tell Taehyung that if she were sure that the Prince was a man, she wouldn't be so certain of this. But she's not sure that he is. And if her suspicion is true, then marriage should be bearable.
Taehyung knows better than to argue with Jimin when she sets her mind on something. “Lords," he simply disapproves wordlessly. "We should tell the protestors about your idea.”
Jimin isn’t enthusiastic about it meeting the protestors, but she knows it’s what she had to do.
“I must tell them! They’ll think I’m a traitor if I don’t explain.” She clenches her fists on her things before turning to Taehyung. “Do you think I’m a traitor?” Her tone is vulnerable.
Taehyung shakes his head. “Never. I think you’re a fool and that this is a terrible plan.”
"You'll end up murdering that vampire or catching feelings for him, and I don't know what's worse."
Jimin thinks of Yoongi's words earlier. Not even Taehyung recognizes that Jimin only loves women and not men, and they're friends. "I won't. I'll make sure he leaves our town."
It’s late at night when Jimin and Taehyung enter the tavern where the opposition usually meets. Indeed, after protesting all morning, most of them are here.
Even after missing today’s protest, they greet Jimin and Taehyung happily. Someone even offers to buy a beer for them.
Tonight, it’s a group of twenty people or more huddled around a few benches in the corner of the dark and dirty tavern. People make space for them, asking where they’ve been all day, and somehow Jimin ends up sitting next to Taehyung on a bench just across from Sangkyung.
Only when she’s sitting down does she realize her innocent mistake. The protestors greeted them happily to coax them into an interrogation. Coax her.
It starts as soon as she takes a sip from the beer. “Is it true?” Sangkyung asks. “The Vampire Prince was at your house today?”
Jimin can feel people around them talking quieter, trying to overhear. She doesn’t worry too much. Everyone in this tavern is from the opposition, even the owner. “He was.”
“He wants to marry you?”
“Oh, he’s stupid,” someone standing close to them raises her voice.
“What does that mean?” Jimin bites, searching for whoever said that.
She meets the gaze of a man she finds familiar, but she can’t remember his name. “How is he asking someone that hates him to marry him? He’s letting a pretty face and body win him over.”
Jimin ignores him.
She ends up focusing on Sangkyung again, and the older man doesn’t look happy. “What did you tell him?”
Taehyung tenses next to her. “That I need time to think.”
“Think about what?”
“Think about a plan. I didn’t tell the Prince that I was going to plan something. But I will.”
“A plan for what?”
Calmly, Jimin gives a brief summary of what she and Taehyung talked about in her room. As she explains her purpose, people around her grow quieter and quieter. “Those royals must hide something in their Palace. Something that will make people hate them.”
“And if my search is useless, I’ll make up something with the information I gather inside there,” she states. “I’ll find anything to turn the town against them. All of them. Not just us.”
Silence settles in the room. She can tell that some people are happy and some are not.
“You shouldn’t marry him,” Sangkyung mutters.
“She should,” someone says. Some echo the thoughts, but Jimin doesn’t care.
“I’ll decide if I marry him or not,” Jimin leans over the table, supporting herself on her elbows. “You decide if you want to help me with this.”
“When are we getting another opportunity like this? To have one of us inside there?”
She thinks she has convinced most people around her. Even Sangkyung seems convinced, or he’s a fool that can’t find a way to argue. He stands up abruptly and circles the table to reach her.
He leaves a hand on the table and leans down, getting in Jimin’s space. He’s closer than Jimin would like when he grabs her chin between his thumb and pointer. Jimin can only think of Yoongi doing the same. “Don’t turn into a vampire lover.”
“I won't,” Jimin says with distaste.
Yoongi shows up at Jimin’s house in the morning like he had said he would. The same bodyguard from yesterday is with him, and Jimin feels uneasy about having two vampires in her home, but she bows and guides them inside, offering something to drink.
Yoongi looks around.
Again, the prince is evidently out of place in the small wooden house, but he acts like he doesn’t notice that he doesn’t belong. His short black hair looks soft, and his black pants and dark grey cloak look expensive. Jimin has always seen him wearing loose clothes.
Jimin can’t pay much attention to his looks, though; the vampire is talking again. “You look beautiful today.”
Jimin almost drops the clay cups on her hands. She doesn’t look at him when she leaves them with tea on the table. “Thank you.”
She’s wearing a simple brown dress.
It's old, and the fabric has lost color, but she chose it because it accentuates her figure. Her mother combed her hair and let half of it down while braiding the rest. She can't pretend she didn't put effort into her appearance.
Yoongi picks up a cup and sips from the tea.
His knight doesn't move, and Jimin puts her hands behind her back. Only when he lowers the cup to the table does he speak again, “Where’s your lady mother?”
“She’s working at the market.”
Yoongi grins. “It’s not very lady-like of you to let me into your home when you’re alone.”
He isn't scolding her but being playful.
“You’re a gentleman; I’m certain you won’t misbehave.”
This time, Yoongi’s smile shows his fangs. He must find her comment amusing. “That I am.” It sounds like another jest, but he changes topics quickly. “I have a gift for you.”
Unable to conceal her curiosity, Jimin steps forward. “A gift?” She stops in front of Yoongi.
“Jungkook,” Yoongi turns to his knight. The tall boy finally moves from the door. Up close, Jimin can tell he’s young, but she gets distracted by the box he pulls from inside his cloak.
Yoongi receives and opens the box. Jimin gasps to herself when she sees a silver bracelet with a red stone hanging from it. She would never be able to buy something like that. Before she can reject the gift, Yoongi speaks.
“I can’t touch it without gloves. It’ll sting a little.”
He came prepared, wearing black leather gloves that hide his pale skin.
“Why would you gift me something that could hurt you?”
His lips twitch into the ghost of a smile. “Isn’t that what marriage is about? Gifting someone the tools to hurt you?”
Jimin can't argue with that.
Yoongi picks the silver chain and waits for Jimin to lift her arm before he clasps it around her wrist. He avoids touching the bracelet. Gloves don't seem to be enough to cover the discomfort he feels when touching silver.
“And hoping the other person won't hurt us with them.
He doesn't let go of Jimin; instead, he toys with the small gemstone hanging from the bracelet. “It’s a red stone because vampires tend to wear red clothes and accessories. We still do inside the Palace, but we don't do it outside anymore to avoid associations with human blood.”
“I think red would suit you,” as he speaks, he softly strokes Jimin’s pulse point with his gloved fingers. Jimin gets goosebumps, finally realizing how close they are, foreheads almost brushing.
“I don’t have any red clothing.”
“We’ll have to fix that,” he whispers.
Jimin tries to choose her words carefully. “I'm more than honored and pleased. It’s a privilege that Your Highness thought of me, but I can't accept such expensive gifts. Not when I know so many people whose life would change If they had this bracelet’s worth in coins.”
“I should have expected an answer like that.” He doesn't seem annoyed, and Jimin is glad. “Will you keep this bracelet, though? And I promise I won't give you more gifts.”
“I’ll keep it.”
“Will you hurt me with it?”
“Only if you deserve it.”
The vampire laughs airily.
When his smile relaxes, and his expression softens, Jimin watches his face with attention. His cat-like eyes and button nose. “Your Highness, can we speak privately?
“It’s just the three of us here, isn't it?” Jimin nods. “Then, this is private.”
Jimin glances at the knight.
“Jungkook knows the answer to all the questions you might have. You could ask him, and he’d probably say the same as me.”
Jimin tries to meet the knight's eyes, but he avoids her. It’s hard to ignore his presence, but she needs an answer to her suspicion. “Yesterday...”
“You implied,” Jimin doesn't finish her sentence. Yoongi draws circles on her wrist, and he must be able to feel her heartbeat race. “You implied not being a man.” She glances up and meets his intense gaze. “Are you one?
After an excruciating silence, he answers. “No, I’m not.”
Jimin’s mouth falls open, speechless for once. “But you-”
“Look like one? Pretend to be one?”
“I’m a Prince, not a man. People refer to me as ‘him,’ but I’m not a man. I don't wear beautiful dresses like you, but I’m a woman. My chest is flat, but I’m a woman.”
“Why?” Jimin asks, confused. “Why do you hide it?”
“In a monarchy, it’s not good fortune to have a daughter. Daughters can be troublesome. My parents didn’t want a daughter. They didn’t need one either. They needed a son. From a very young age, I’ve been their son.”
“Everyone thinks I’m their son. They carefully adapted my appearance so I’d look like a man. They taught me everything they taught my older brother, like I had been born a man. I never learned how to be a woman.”
Yoongi’s tone makes Jimin think there’s a ‘but’ coming soon.
“But I didn't have to learn. I was one because my family never forgot that I was. Everyone in this town and my hometown can believe I’m a man and treat me like one, yet my parents— I’m a woman when I need to be punished and silenced and a man when the family needs me to be.”
“My family took away my hair, chest, and entire appearance, as well as so many memories I should have made as a woman, so I refuse to let go of my womanhood even if I don't look the part.”
Jimin’s instinct tells her to reach out and comfort, but her hand falters near Yoongi.
“Is Yoongi your real name?”
“Yes. My parents wanted a man, so I always had a men’s name.”
“Do you want me to refer to you as she or her?”
Yoongi scrunches their nose. “No, please don't. That feels weird. I don't let go of my womanhood, but femininity isn't for me.”
“I’ve tried femininity behind close doors; you can ask Jungkook. I requested him to call me Yoonji, and it didn't click. Once I convinced him to wear dresses with me. He looked better than I!”The vampire knight stares at the wall, but Jimin thinks he’s fighting back a smile.
“Perhaps it is due to my upbringing, but I feel more comfortable with masculinity.” Jimin nods, respecting that. “Feminity on you, on the other hand.” Yoongi glances at Jimin while tilting his head as if taking a good look and deliberating his words. “It’s quite striking.”
The reveal just now is responsible for the way Jimin’s cheeks redden so quickly. Yoongi’s praise is different from other men’s.
“I have to admit that beyond the secrets and grief, I’m grateful that Princes get to marry ladies.”
“You don't want to be a princess?” Jimin wonders.
Yoongi scrunches his nose again; it’s like he smelled something rotten. “No, not at all. Prince has a much better edge to it. It suits me best.”
Jimin doesn't argue with that. “You are quite a charming prince,” she allows herself to say.
“I’m glad you think so.”
They stare at each other for a long moment until Yoongi looks away. He glances at his knight before giving Jimin a solemn smile. “Jimin, I must warn you that Jungkook is witness of this exchange. If the Crown hears gossip about me, he’ll testify against you and will punish you.”
Now that sounds a lot like the royal family Jimin knows.
“You won't have to worry about that, Your Highness. I won't tell anyone about this.”
And she won't. This is not the piece of information that she’ll hand the opposition. She won't use Yoongi’s secret to spew hate.
She will raise the townsfolk against Yoongi and his family but without giving her back to her principles. She would be a hypocrite if she judged Yoongi for being just like her.
She’ll marry him, enter his Palace, befriend him and then watch him and his family leave.
Yoongi leans closer. “Have you made up your mind already, Jimin?”
Jimin stands straight. “Yes.”
Yoongi assesses her, and Jimin tries to look more intimidating. “I’m going to marry you,” she says with conviction.
The corners of Yoongi’s lips curls. “I’m glad to hear that.”
They lock gazes, and Jimin catches the moment Yoongi glances down at her lips. Jimin looks away before the Prince misreads the situation and does something stupid like kissing her. “What will happen now?” she asks.
“The tedious part.”
“Which is?” Jimin wonders.
“I have to inform my family and the committee of my choice. Then, I’ll have to introduce you to the Crown and to the town as my bride.” Jimin bites her lower lip. She knows there will be a lot of work to do. “But before getting to that, there’s something I wish to do.”
Jimin tilts her head, intrigued, but a scoff escapes her lips when Yoongi says, “I’d like to become your friend.”
“We’re getting married after all. I knot it’s not a marriage out of love, and I understand both of us have political aspirations with this union.”
Jimin waits for him to elaborate. “I want the Royal Family to have a connection with the citizens through you, and you care about the townsfolk’s demands.”
“But I’d hope that at least we’d get along since we’ll be going to see a lot of each other from now on.”
"Can I ask you to join me for tea? Before we start with the tedious part of marriage."
His choice of words is odd. "Are you asking for permission to invite me to a tea party?"
"Yes, that's what I'm doing."
Jimin fights the smile on her face. "You can ask me, Your Highness."
"Will you join me for tea at the Palace?"
The smile never reaches her. She didn't expect to go to the Palace so soon. "Will your family be there?"
"No. You'll have more days to prepare to meet them; otherwise, they'd eat you alive." He falters as soon as he says those words.
"Not eat- vampires don't feed from humans anymore."
Jimin chuckles dryly. "Right. If it's just tea with you, then I'd love to go."
"I'll send a carriage for you around midday. But for now, I should get going. It wouldn't be proper of us to stay together unsupervised for long."
“Will you pass my apologies to your mother? I understand I should have asked her for your hand in marriage, but the circumstances between us needed to be addressed privately. I would ask her now, but I don’t think it’d be smart of me to go into the market with just one knight.”
“It’s dangerous for the royal family to go into public places with little guards. People will gather around me and-”
“And you should listen to what they have to say. Otherwise, people wouldn’t gather around you.”
“I can’t give coins to everyone.”
“You can listen.”
"I'll take you," Jimin says. "You can greet the workers and hear their complaints instead of hiding in your Palace and pretending everything is fine."
Yoongi sighs. "Is this a glimpse into our marriage?"
"Yes. Do you want to take back your offer?"
"No. I'll go with you."
"This is one of the many reasons I find myself interested in marrying you," Yoongi says. "I'll listen to your advice regarding the townsfolk."
Jimin smiles contentedly. She needs to be a good wife so Yoongi doesn't suspect her and her real intentions behind this marriage.
People don't gather around him like Yoongi thought they would. Mostly, they watch him from afar. Too stunned by the Prince's presence in the market to do or say anything.
Jimin walks a step forward, and Yoongi tries to keep up with her while Jungkook stays behind them.
The first people to come forward are ladies that must know Yoongi from all the events he prepared during his search. He stops, smiles politely, and converses, almost as if he is interested in what they have to say.
Jimin stays by his side, craning her neck to find her mother.
Once people see Yoongi talking to others and the initial shock dissipates, they start coming closer. The mob that he warned Jimin about is here. Jimin pays attention to the complaints but she gets distracted when she feels Yoongi toying with the skirt of her dress.
He's holding the fabric between his fingers but he's concentrated comforting an elderly woman that tells him about losing her son to the mine's sickness. Jimin doesn't understand why he does it. It could be playful or an evidence of distress but she doesn't ask him to stop.
Eventually, Jungkook steps forward and whispers to Yoongi's ear. Jimin is so close that she listens. "Your Highness, we should get going."
It's the first time Jimin hears him speak.
Yoongi doesn't answer him directly. Gracefully, he excuses himself and promises to return.
It's evident that Yoongi has received training on how to behave in front of a large group of people. Jimin observes the interaction. In the following months, she'll have to learn how to speak like Yoongi does, like a Royal, but also, she'll need to be careful of Jungkook.
Just as Jungkook guides Yoongi away from the group of people, Jimin sees her mother standing further away. Her mouth is open, watching the small scene unfolding in the market.
"Look, that's who you were looking for," Jimin says before grabbing Yoongi's hand and dragging him.
Maybe she shouldn't act so familiar with him, but she needs to secure this marriage. She can flirt too.
Her mother is one of the many people staring at their hands. But once they reach her, Jimin lets go of him, and Yoongi holds his hand behind his back. He won't look at Jimin.
"My lady." Yoongi bows. "This might not be the best place to meet and converse, but your daughter insisted I'd come, and it's difficult to deny something to her."
"Your Highness," Jimin's mother stammers.
"I visited Jimin and was unhappy not to find you home."
"I had to work."
Jimin’s mother told Yoongi she disliked her job last time he visited. So Jimin doesn’t get upset when he says, “you won’t have to worry about that anymore.”
“Again, this isn’t the best place to say what I wish to say, but I presume you understand what I imply.”
The woman looks from Yoongi to Jimin. She waits until Jimin nods once to answer. “Yes, Your Highness.”
“As long as Jimin is in the Palace with me, you won’t have to work a day more.”
“Do you support my intentions with your daughter?”
“Yes, Your Highness. I do.”
“That’s what I wanted to hear. Thank you,” Yoongi smiles to himself before taking a step back. “Ladies, I should get going. But I’m planning on seeing Jimin tomorrow. Will you prepare her for tea with me at the Palace?”
“Yes, Your Highness. I will.”
“I like her hair like this.”
Yoongi finally turns to Jimin. “I’ll see you soon.”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
Yoongi lifts Jimin’s hand, and he lowers his body to leave a kiss on it. If there were gossip about them due to Yoongi’s visit yesterday, now Jimin is certain everyone understands what will happen.
Jimin doesn't get to hear people's reactions. She doesn't even get to talk with Taehyung or her friends because her mother is tugging her back to their house, muttering about Jimin's attitude and forcing the Prince to go to the market.
Jimin didn't expect to get scolded.
They only stop outside of their house. Her mother has something to say before entering. “You’re taking a bath and sleeping to get rid of those eyebags and that puffiness. “You need to look beautiful for him.”
“He’ll see me with messy hair, eye bags, and puffiness eventually.”
Her mother looks scandalized as she opens the door. “Eventually. But for now, you need to be your best self, or he’ll change his mind.”
“He won’t. He already picked me,” Jimin says when she supports herself on the now closed door. “Don’t you think he likes me a lot?”
"He was advised not to marry me, but he didn't listen. He saw me one night and was so stricken he asked around about me. I convinced him to go to the market today, and he kissed my hand in front of everyone!"
Her mother is only staring at her with an unreadable expression.
After a long moment, she asks. "But do you like the Prince?"
None of them break their eye contact. Jimin can't lie to her, but she can't say the truth either. "There are aspects about him that I believe I can grow to like. Sides of him that allow me to ignore what I dislike."
“Is that enough to marry him? You’ll be a princess from the royal family, a designation I know you hate.”
“Yes. But I think this marriage is for the best. The Prince is kind to me, and I won’t take this task lightly. I won’t forget where we’re from and what I believe in.”
Her mother doesn't argue more. She respects Jimin's choice, and deep down, Jimin knows the woman is delighted with Jimin's apparent fairytale. She can not know that eventually, Jimin plans to end this marriage by betraying her husband.
She will keep that information to herself.
As the Prince had promised, he sends a carriage for Jimin the next day. It's shiny, made with ebony, and stands out in the dirty streets of her neighborhood. Jimin feels people watching her as she enters the carriage.
Yoongi means well, but Jimin dislikes the display of power.
Jungkook is the one in charge of escorting her. He sits by her side inside the wagon but remains quiet even when Jimin greets him.
Jimin doesn't try to talk either. She's immersed in her thoughts. This is the first time she visits the Palace without the intention to protest.
She has raged outside those gates countless times, demanding the Crown to leave their town, but it's the first time they open for her. They close behind their carriage.
The Palace is intimidating: it stands grand and cold, built with rocks. It's tall too, with many high towers.
She doesn't have time to marvel at the construction. The carriage stops, and Jungkook helps her step out of it.
Many guards stand around the Palace, eyeing them. Probably vampires since their armor is like Jungkook's.
"This way," he finally speaks and guides her to a garden.
They enter through a gate on the left side of the main entrance into a series of arches that form the Palace's walkways. The gardens are the first stop. Today, Jimin won't see more of the Palace. Instead, they're staying where the royal family must receive their guests.
In the center of the garden, there's a stone fountain, but the red roses bushes are more eye-catching, and they don't exactly fit with the rigid structure of the Palace. The vampires must have planted those. Red is their color, after all.
In the corners, there are stone benches.
Yoongi is waiting for her at one of them. He stands when he sees her.
Jimin walks past a few guards to reach the Prince, but only Jungkook stays close to them. "Jimin, you look lovely today."
Jimin smiles. "You don't need to charm me, Your Highness. I already said yes."
“Well, I’m the kind of lover to praise often without an ulterior motive. Please, have a seat.”
Jimin is curious when she sits on the bench, gripping the stone edge to tilt her body close to Yoongi’s as he sits too. “Have you had many lovers?”
“Not many. And never serious.”
He glances to a side, and wordlessly a guard moves. Before Jimin can ask about that, Yoongi continues. “Yet I’ve fallen in love before, which is how I know that praises fall out of me easily when I appreciate someone’s company or appearance.” Jimin chuckles dryly.
“Have you had many lovers?” Yoongi wonders.
The guard returns. Behind him, servants bring a small table, pastries, and cups. Jimin fights the urge to offer help. She’s not used to people serving her. “Have you been in love?” Yoongi’s question brings her back to him.
“Yes. I think I have.”
Yoongi looks pensive as the servants set the table in front of them. He meets their eyes and thanks them, and Jimin mimics him. Then, he says, “I rather not know more. I believe I’m the jealous kind.”
“Vampires are possessive creatures.”
“I didn’t know that,” Jimin admits. “I don’t know much about vampires.”
“I can tell. You don’t seem afraid about being in a Vampire Palace, surrounded by vampire guards and vampire servants. Most humans would be shivering.”
“But I am scared! You’ve just distracted me.”
“I’m glad I did. My intention was to distract you,” Yoongi says as he serves tea on the cups. “But I still want you to know that you’re safe in this area. The palace is divided into three wings. The Main area is this one, and there are two separate wings to the sides.”
“The Main area is where vampires and humans co-habit. We have meetings with the committee here. The Crown Room for audiences with citizens and the main ballroom is here if we want to invite noble families. The right side is where vampires live. Mine and my family’s chambers.”
“The left side is for humans only. The nobles of this region live there, as well as the committee members, human guards, and servants.”
“But why are they apart? I thought vampires don’t feed from humans anymore.”
“We don’t. We haven’t consumed human blood in years.”
"That doesn't mean we don't get hungry. It's best to avoid dangerous situations. When we're hungry, we can turn aggressive. Violent even."
"Possessive, aggressive, and violent. You could have warned me about this before."
"You don't have to worry about me."
"Due to my disciplined upbringing and experience with painful physical procedures, I know much about self-control. I've been prepared for this. There's a reason my brother married a vampire, and I'm marrying a human."
Jimin doesn't think Yoongi is lying. "Where will we live?"
"That's yet to be discussed. There are no living quarters in the Main area, but we could try to adapt. The Royal family lives on the right side-"
"And I'll be part of the Royal family." Even if dangerous, Jimin needs to enter the right side of this Palace, close to the royals.
"Will it be dangerous to put me on the right side of this Palace?" she asks before grabbing her cup, pretending to be mindless about this conversation.
"There's a chance of dangerous occurrences happening."
"But you'll protect me, won't you? As my husband."
She feels Yoongi’s piercing gaze as she smiles coyly and drinks from her tea. Yoongi continues talking. “You and your mother will come to the Palace once we announce our union, and you’ll stay in a chamber with her on the left side of the Palace. You’ll have guards and servants.”
Jimin puts down her cup, making it rattle against the dish. The irritating sound represents her feelings. "Is that necessary? My mother and I are self-sufficient."
"Jimin, you'll be a princess. You'll have guards and servants."
"But, I don't need them."
"You'll need them."
Jimin tries to speak, but Yoongi shakes his head. "It's not negotiable. I've heard your protest; I understand you don't want to exercise power over others. Just be kind to them and allow your servants to live a dignified life, gaining coins with their work. They're not enslaved."
Jimin keeps quiet; she understands she has to lose many battles for this marriage. She feels out of place suddenly, drinking expensive tea in beautiful cups.
The Palace is grand. Jimin feels it’s absurd that they spend so much on pastries when people out there need help.
"Don't get mad at me; I didn't make the rules." Jimin doesn't reply, pursing her lips. Yoongi sighs and keeps talking. "But there's something else, and you can get mad at me for that."
"What is it?"
"You'll have to meet my family sooner than I had planned."
“Our visit to the market reached their ears, and they are curious to meet the human that makes me act like a fool. Of course, it won’t be an official audience. Just my brother, his wife, and my parents. But you have to behave accordingly.”
“I know I have to. I can behave. When?”
He smiles tightly. “Would it be fine if we do it today?”
“Yoongi-” Yoongi raises an eyebrow at the lack of title, but he doesn’t scold Jimin. “You said I wouldn’t have to do it today.”
“If you don’t want to, we won’t. But since you’re here, they didn’t want to wait any longer.”
“If I don’t meet them today, they’ll think I’m terrible.”
“They might reinforce the ideas they already have about you.”
“That you aren’t the best option for my bride.” Jimin can’t have that. She fears meeting the King and Queen, but she has to marry Yoongi.
"I'll do it," Jimin takes a deep breath. "How do I look?"
"I thought you didn't want more compliments." Jimin sighs, only for the Prince to scoot closer to her. "You look like a princess. If that means anything to you."
"This is an old dress."
"You make it look new."
She glances at him and doesn't flinch at the proximity. "I'll go."
"I'll inform then we'll meet them. But eat first; you haven't had a bite since you sat here."
"I can't eat. I'm nervous."
"Something sweet will make it better." He looks at her lips, and Jimin licks them.
She forces herself to look away before Yoongi misreads the situation. "I'll eat."
She hates to admit that the sweets do help her. They might be expensive, and a table filled with them isn't necessary, but they're so tasty. It's a few minutes later that they leave.
The garden is breathtaking, but the inside of the Palace is even more beautiful. The hallways are long and decorated with red carpets. Torches light up their path.
Jimin stops after a few seconds, pinching her cheeks for them to turn pink.
Jungkook and Yoongi stop walking too.
"Jimin, what are you doing?" Yoongi asks.
"Making sure I look good."
The Prince chuckles. "It seems like you'll have me repeat myself a lot during this marriage. One day you'll grow tired of my compliments."
"I doubt it."
The interaction makes Jimin naturally blush.
“They’ll think you’re pretty,” he says before turning around and heading down the long hallway. He lets Jungkook open a large door, and Jimin stays behind.
Just like Yoongi had said, when she enters the dining room, the first thing she hears is a loud, “ah! she’s so pretty!”
It’s a woman speaking, and when Jimin glances up, she sees the Vampire King and Queen behind a long table. They sit in the middle. Next to him, there’s a man and a woman. Yoongi’s brother and his wife. There are two empty seats next to the Queen. For Yoongi and his human bride.
It was the younger woman who spoke. She's pale and gorgeous. High cheekbones and straight black hair framing a small face. Princess Jisoo.
"She's very pretty, isn't she?" she turns to her husband. Prince Jaeho. Yoongi's brother.
"But she has good hips."
Jimin doesn’t like that they talk about her as if she wasn’t there. “Not that it matters. Yoongi can’t get her pregnant.”
Yoongi tenses in front of her, but he lets her brother and sister-in-law talk. His parents also allow them.
“That’s so sad. I’ve never met a half-vampire.”
"They're weird creatures. They get sick very easily."
The Princess makes a pained sound, and finally, the King speaks. "Are you done?"
"Yes, we are," Prince Jaeho says, studying Jimin.
The King doesn't continue the conversation; Yoongi's mother does. "Welcome, Jimin."
Jimin bows low. "Your Majesty." She bows to the Prince and Princess too. "Your Highness."
"You can raise," the Queen says. "This is an informal meeting. We were curious about you, so we couldn't wait... You dragged Yoongi into a market yesterday."
"Yes. To meet my mother."
“She works there?”
“And do you work there too? With her? What do you do for a living? I suppose protesting against the Crown is a weekend leisure activity.”
Jimin feels naked under their eyes. “I help my mother in the market. We cook meals for the merchants.”
Jimin avoids talking about the protests. It’ll be best if they don’t see her as a threat but as a silly rebellious girl. “It’s just you and your mother?”
“Yes, my father abandoned us, and my mother’s family ran her out of her house when she got pregnant out of wedlock.”
Their lack of reaction makes Jimin think they already know all this information about her. "Was she young?"
"And you are?"
"You're still pure?"
"Yes," Jimin lies. Well, she's only fooled around with women. She doesn't think they'll count that.
Yoongi looks at her over his shoulder, but he doesn't say a word. "Why do you want to marry Yoongi if you protest against him and his family?" The King speaks suddenly.
"He said I could help with the citizens' issues as his Princess. That's all I want; that's why I protest."
"I've seen the citizens suffer even before the Royal Min family arrived at Dangye. I've experienced it firsthand too. Winters are hard on the working class. I could do more for them than yell at Your Majesty's doorstep by his side. I'd be a good connection with the townsfolk."
"What about your comrades? Do they think the same as you?"
"No, Your Majesty. They aren't happy with this development. Lately, their heart has changed. They protest against your species instead of being a voice for the townsfolk. I'm against that posture, and I've expressed it."
There's another assault of questions, and Jimin tries her best to reply without shying away from the blank faces in front of her.
Finally, the Queen decides she's had enough and dismisses them. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Jimin," she says, but Jimin doesn't believe it.
Yoongi leads her outside with a hand on the small of her back. When Jungkook closes the door behind them, Jimin lets out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding.
“How did I do?” Jimin faces Yoongi.
Yoongi only offers her a tight smile, and Jimin fears what could happen.”
The next time Jimin sees Yoongi, he shows up at her house. The vampire smiles at her a bit wider this time. His fangs are on display, but Jimin doesn’t flinch.
“Your Highness,” Jimin bows at him and lets him inside. She sees people gathered outside her house, watching.
Yoongi follows her gaze just as she closes the door. "Has someone bothered you?"
"No, Your Highness. My mother told me that some people at the market have been pestering her for favors now that they know I'll become Princess. So she told me not to go there."
“I apologize for the delay in our union’s announcement. I expected you and your mother to join us at the Palace earlier this week, but there were some issues.” After Jimin met Yoongi’s parents. “Neither my family nor the committee approves of you being the princess.”
Jimin anticipated something like that. But it still makes her worry. If they can’t get married, there won’t be a plan anymore, and Jimin won’t see Yoongi again. Not that seeing him matters. “What?”
“They aren’t fond of my choice.”
“Are you going to choose a different bride?”
"No," Yoongi replies quickly. "I believe you are the best option there is. I want to marry you. I told them you know about me and that I don't trust anyone else to keep my secret. I'm going to marry you whether they want it or not."
Jimin tries not to feel weak on the knees.
"You've seen me so much that you've copied my rebelliousness."
When Yoongi laughs, Jimin focuses more on his gums than his fangs. "I must admit I enjoy making my parents miserable with my choices."
"You deserve upsetting them as much as you'd want. If there's no punishment."
"There won't be one. But you-"
"They'll be hard on you. The Crown won't let you go out to meet the citizens as easily and will probably be cautious of you because of your relationship with the protestors-"
Nothing Jimin didn't expect. "That's fine. I can deal with that."
"I didn't envision your family welcoming with open eyes. But, I'm willing to go through that if you listen to my advice about my people."
"And you know I will listen."
Yoongi nods. "Why don't you get belongings ready? There's a room waiting for you in the Palace."
"Yes. Your presence at the Palace will accelerate the situation. Plus, we should get your measurements for the dress you'll wear at the announcement. Not that your dresses aren't pretty, but-"
"Something new will be best. I understand that. What about my mother?"
"She'll stay with you. After our wedding, she'll remain on the left side of the Palace. You'll have her whenever you need her."
"Jungkook will escort you to the Palace. The tedious part starts now."
"The friends part finished already?"
Yoongi smiles. "I hope so."
After Yoongi leaves, Jimin feels like she's running out of time. She heads to the market to tell her mother the news and convinces Taehyung's parents to let Taehyung accompany her.
When they return to her home, Jungkook is waiting outside. "Jungkook! You got back so fast!"
"You shouldn't leave on your own, m'lady. Prince Yoongi would worry," he says.
"Is he a vampire?" Taehyung mutters under his breath.
"Yes," Jimin murmurs and then beams at the knight. "It'll be the last time I do it."
Jimin and her mother pack in a hurry with Taehyung's help.
Jungkook stays in a corner, looking at a wall, but Jimin knows he can hear everything. "I don't think I'll be able to leave the Palace soon," she speaks carefully to Taehyung, hoping he picks up on her innuendos.
He does. "That's fine. Take your time. I won't be going anywhere."
"Just be careful," Taehyung whispers. "And be a good wife. Be all those things you're not: quiet and obedient."
That seems to be everything Jimin will need to do for the following days.
She gets introduced to her guards and servants when she and her mother reach the Palace.
She remembers Yoongi's words and tries not to feel awkward about her new reality.
The dressmaker also visits her son, and he takes her measures. "How's the dress going to be like?" Jimin asks.
"They haven't told me yet."
"I don't get to decide what my dress will be like?"
The dressmaker finishes measuring the length of the skirt and gives her a sympathetic smile. "No, it's most likely the Queen's or the Prince's choice." As Taehyung said earlier, the dressmaker adds, "you just need to wear what they want, and be quiet and look pretty."
Their words become more real as the days pass by. The guards inform Jimin that she can't leave the left Palace unless someone from the Royal Family calls for her. Luckily, Yoongi visits her often, and they sit in the garden and talk about nothing, but it's always short visits.
"I feel like I'm being kept away from everything," she whispers to Yoongi once.
"Don't think I know more about what's happening. That's the way things work here. Someone else organizes, and we just show up. Our wedding is a priority, though. I promise it is."
She and her mother often converse in the room, but she always feels she must be careful of her words. Guards and servants alike seem to pay close attention to her behavior.
After days and days of being quiet and complacent, she gets a visit from someone that isn't Yoongi.
Jimin and her mother stand and bow low when the Queen enters their chamber. She tells them to raise as she inspects the room. "Jimin," she finally says. "There was a delay because we made both dresses for you."
"For the announcement and the wedding."
"My wedding dress is ready?" Jimin asks.
"They're still working on it. You need to try it on first." When the Queen says so, servants enter the room. The Queen sits on a chair, crossing her legs and revealing red fabric under her black velvet dress.
They carry two dresses.
There's a white pearl one and a dark red one. The intricacy of the dresses makes their purpose evident. The pearl one is simple and delicate while the red one is big and has many layers and details. She'll marry wearing red.
"Try them on," the Queen says. "I want to see you."
The servants begin to undress her once the Queen says that. Jimin's mother opens her mouth once she notices Jimin's shock but keeps quiet in the end. Jimin follows her behavior. The Queen is watching her, probably waiting for her to complain. She lets them undress and dress her.
It's the red dress first: heavy, unfinished, and snug around Jimin's middle, but The Queen smiles when she's ready. "Now, you look like a princess."
It's different from when Yoongi said it. However, when Jimin sees her reflection on the window, she thinks she looks like one.
After trying out the clothes, the announcement happens quickly.
Jimin has meetings with someone from the committee to find out what she has to do on the announcement night and the days after. Yoongi doesn't join the sessions, making them more boring and tedious for Jimin.
The woman from the commitee trains Jimin in etiquette. She frequently scolds Jimin for not knowing what she considers essential. If Yoongi was here, he'd say Jimin's ignorance is charming and look at her with warm eyes.
"You're going to see him soon," the woman once says.
"Excuse me?" Jimin asks.
"Your Prince. The announcement is close, the wedding will happen faster than you think, and then you'll see him plenty." Jimin stays quiet and the woman tilts her head. "Isn't that why you're sighing instead of paying attention?"
Jimin only apologizes.
As the woman said, the announcement day arrived in a few days.
Jimin wears the pearl dress. It's simple yet more intricate than anything Jimin has ever owned, filled with tiny crystals. Servants style her hair in a bun, and she thinks it gives her an innocent look.
Yoongi seems to like it a lot.
They meet in the dining room where Jimin first saw his parents. The committee describes the announcement again, reminding the vampires that this is a moment for the citizens: for people to be less wary of vampires and be happy over something.
They repeat that townsfolk will dream of becoming royalty like Jimin, so everyone has to play their part in the fairytale and look as dreamy as possible.
Jimin clenches her jaw, upset at how the monarchy manipulates the townsfolk to appease their demands and discomfort.
During their debriefing, Yoongi moves between the nobles and vampires in the room and reaches Jimin's side. His presence distracts Jimin from her thoughts, but Jimin tries not to glance his way. He toys with the fabric of her dress, trying to get her attention.
"What?" she mouths while staring at the committee in front of them.
"I've never seen your hair like this."
"Are you allowed to be my side?" Jimin asks. "I thought you had to stand with your family until we leave the Palace."
"I'm the Prince; they won't scold me."
Jimin shakes her head a little. She finally glances at him. He’s wearing black, as usual. The material of his cloak looks soft and it has a flower pattern. Jimin thinks it suits Yoongi.
“I like it. You have a pretty neck.”
Jimin looks away. “What kind of compliment is that?”
Only later, as they leave the Palace in carriages, Jimin thinks deeper about the vampire’s comment. It’s the first time since he proposed that he has seen her hair entirely out of the way, her neck exposed.
Of course, a vampire would comment on her neck -where vampires bite-.
Jimin can’t look at him when they leave the carriages and climb the stage the committee built outside the Palace.
Being suddenly nervous helps Jimin to keep her head down. Her duty today is to stand behind Yoongi, let him and his family talk, and look pretty for the crowd.
Pushing the announcement worked in the vampire's favor because anticipation caused a large flock of people to come to the Palace.
Jimin looks across their faces, and it is hard not to be flattered. Young girls clap for her, point at her dress, and watch her with shiny eyes.
Her expression falters when she spots familiar people by the edge of the crowd. She stares at the ground, trying not to eye contact with anyone from the opposition.
They are far away, and their yelling barely reaches her, mainly because the joyous cheers are so loud.
Guards are around them, keeping them cornered and unable to do more than scream profanities from time to time.
While Yoongi speaks about his and Jimin's marriage, Jimin thinks she hears a protestor yell vampire lover. But it could be just in her head. She ignores it.
It's for the best if the Crown sees that protestors dislike Jimin. That way, they'll think she's no longer involved with them.
Jimin is reminded of her goal with this marriage. No one is by the opposition's side; Jimin will make those girls that clap for her despise the royals.
After the announcement, she's back to silence in her chamber.
Yoongi visits her most days and tells her the wedding preparations are happening, and all they have to do is wait. Jimin doesn't complain. She knows that for her plan, there will be lots of waiting.
In the meantime, she keeps meeting with the committee. There's more training aside from etiquette. She learns the name of all the vampires living on the right side of the Palace. Yoongi's extended family and other vampires were assigned to Dangye after they conquered the region.
She learns about their family connections and about the vampire's empire. There's a lot to study, but Jimin does better with this than with etiquette. This information seems more important to her.
They inform her that she'll move with the Prince to the right side of the Palace.
"I'll be the only human sleeping there."
"Yes. You'll be able to visit your mother on the main area of the Palace. But she won't be able to visit you in your chambers."
"After I marry the Prince, will I be able to leave the Palace?"
"Only with the company of a guard."
"You'll have new guards and servants. Vampires."
"I see. Can I learn the servant's names too?" Jimin asks. She'll have to become close to her guards and servants if she wants to stand a chance in the vampire wing of the Palace. She'll need allies since they're cutting her off.
Her days go by that way: she studies etiquette and vampire history, has tea with Yoongi, and receives wedding gifts from nobles. New dresses, jewelry, shoes, and soon, everything she brought from her old house is in a chest, and she no longer wears anything from it.
Soon, they start to rehearse for the Wedding. It has two parts: a ceremony for the royal family inside the Palace and a celebration for the citizens outside.
Jimin discovers that every aspect is symbolic. Her second appearance to the townsfolk will be in the red dress.
They'll have two memories of her: pretty, innocent, and obedient in the white dress from the announcement and beautiful, mature, and powerful in her red wedding dress.
The committee will escort her to the right side of the Palace: humans handing her over to the vampires.
The red dress reinforces that.
In the past, vampires would turn their human lovers into their species if they wanted to wed. But now, since vampires don't feed on human blood, they can't convert humans. The wedding is a mere representation of what would have been her conversion.
And before Jimin knows it, it’s the wedding day.
All that waiting for a day that happens so quickly. Many ladies enter her room. She’s now unaffected by undressing and standing nude in front of others. There are hands everywhere, tugging at her hair, tightening the red dress.
Her blond hair has never looked so intricate. They braid half of her hair and make a bun, while carefully curling the rest of the hair. Finally, they place a pearl headpiece on her head. “It’s a gift from your brother and his wife.”
Yoongi’s brother. The heir to the Throne.
“She’s ready,” someone announces.
But Jimin doesn’t feel ready. “Wait.” Jimin searches between her belonging for the bracelet Yoongi gifted her long ago.
A lady makes a disapproving sound. “It’s silver. The vampires won’t like it.”
“The Prince gave it to me. I’ll wear it.”
Jimin is ready to argue, but the ladies don't scold her as they would usually do. They bow their heads and help her clasp it around her wrist. Starting today, Jimin has power over them she didn't have before. She's not sure she likes it, but it'll be convenient.
The committee and her mother escort her from the human wing of the Palace to the right side. Outside of the vampire wing, Yoongi waits for her.
They've rehearsed it, but Jimin's heart still beats fast when she holds his hand, crosses the gate and leaves every human behind.
The right side of the Palace looks precisely the same as the left wing, but Jimin feels a difference. Humans are warmer than vampires.
The first part of the ceremony will take place in the garden, where Yoongi's family and vampire nobles are already waiting for them.
But before they get there, Jimin stops walking, forcing Yoongi and his guards to halt. "Jimin?" He asks.
Jimin glances at the vampire guards. By now, she knows there's no privacy inside a Palace, so she tries not to feel embarrassed. "You haven't said anything about my looks."
The guards have blank faces, but Yoongi smiles. "I don't look like myself, don't I?" she rambles. "My hair and face are weird. I don't tend to do so much."
Yoongi's smile gets wider as he steps closer, cupping Jimin's face softly and tilting her head. "You're beautiful."
"They've made you paler," he says while stroking his thumb against her face. He must feel the white dust on her skin.
"To make me look more like a vampire."
"I know, but I miss your usual tone. I don't see your rosy cheeks."
Jimin smiles too. "That's because I'm nervous."
"But it's not a problem. I'll naturally blush if you keep this up for a second more."
"Then we'll wait a second more."
Jimin takes a deep breath and presses her forehead against Yoongi's. From the corner of her eyes, she sees the guards staring away from them at the walls.
“You’re going to kiss me out there.”
“By the end of the ceremony, I will.”
Jimin has to win over her husband if she wants to use him. Play with him, convince him she’s enamored with him, and use that to her advantage. But she doesn’t know if this moment is an act or not.
She means what she says next. “Do you think we can do it here first? In front of everyone, it’s a kiss between a woman and a man. That doesn’t feel right to me, for us.” Their eyes meet. “I’d like to kiss you when I know who you really are.”
Yoongi is speechless for a second.
Jimin barely sees him nodding before he presses their lips together. It's a chaste peck at first. But Jimin holds onto his cloak, twists the fabric, and opens her mouth to deepen the kiss. He kisses her as if he were starved, and Jimin wonders if he has thought a lot about this.
Jimin can't say she hasn't thought of kissing him a few times, and she's pleased by his intensity.
And even if guards are standing a few meters away, Jimin pushes her body against his and tries to get more. Yoongi pulls away with wet lips and a chuckle forming in his throat.
"Many people have put work on our appearances today for us to arrive at our wedding looking disheveled," he says with his gaze still set on Jimin's lips, like usual. "You know," he doesn't let Jimin say a word. "I'm still myself out there and in front of others."
“Even if I don’t look like it or if people think otherwise.”
“I know. What bothered me is that others don’t understand I like what you are, not what they want you to be.” Yoongi is speechless again. Jimin smiles. “I left paint on your lips.”
Jimin touches his lips softly.
He was the one to pull apart from the kiss before, but he leans in for another one right now. This time he holds Jimin's waist firmly. It makes her so dizzy that the wedding goes by quickly, with the memory of their kiss repeating in her head, making her cheeks red as he likes.
There are many things to do after the ceremony with the vampires. First, the nobles congratulate them: luckily, Jimin studies hard, and she remembers the names of everyone. Afterward, they head outside to greet the citizens.
Jimin thinks royal life is unnecessarily tiring.
All these ceremonies are long and complex, yet they mean nothing, and here they are, smiling through it.
She's been locked in a room for days, studying hard and rehearsing, trying to become a proper lady as fast as possible, so she tries her best not to show tiredness.
During her time on the left side of the Palace, Jimin also learned a lot about vampires, but that still doesn't prepare her to see them toast with cups filled with animal blood when the feast starts.
They serve her raw meat when she sits next to Yoongi at the Royal table.
She tries to cool her expression, but Yoongi notices her stiffness. "It's not that bad," he promises next to her ear.
It's cut into thin slices, but there's fresh red blood in the dish. Jimin drowns her wine before eating it. At least she gets wine and not animal blood.
Vampires keep coming to them at the table to talk with Yoongi's family and Yoongi. They barely glanced at Jimin as if she wasn't there, but she expected that to happen.
She recognizes Yoongi's uncles, cousins, and vampires from other families. She'll live with them from now.
The feast must be enjoyable for the vampires, but the best part for Jimin is when Yoongi excuses himself, saying it's been a long day and that they'll have lots to do tomorrow. Then, he helps Jimin get up and guides her out of the dining room after she bows at her new family.
She sighs when they enter their new chamber. She's too tired to even be anxious about sharing a bed with Yoongi or to look around and notice how beautiful and grand the room is.
She wants to complain about the long day, but servants are inside the room, so she keeps quiet.
She doesn't want the servants going to the Queen and telling her Jimin has an attitude. Yoongi coughs after an awkward second. He points at a wooden panel. "I'll change over there. The ladies can help you with your hair and dress. All your belonging are here already."
The panel has four sections and flowers carved into the wood, creating small parts where it's visible what's behind. The room is dark except for some candles, so even if Jimin can make out Yoongi's figure, she can't see more of him as he undresses on his side of the room.
She doesn't look away, though. The servants begin helping her, unbraiding her hair and untying the back of her dress, arms blocking her sight as they work, but she still tries to see through the gaps in the panel. She wonders why Yoongi doesn't have servants helping him.
He's ready before her, and Jimin looks away not to get caught peeking. "Do you want me to leave until you finish?" he asks.
She stares at the wall and feels him moving behind her. She still has more layers of clothes to remove from her body. "No, you don't need to leave."
Yoongi hums, but Jimin doesn't turn to see him. She stares at the wall and senses as he climbs the bed, sitting under the blankets with his back to the headboard, watching.
She lets the ladies remove her chemise as she's done so far, but she feels shy for a change.
She's not insecure about her naked body but wonders what he thinks. She wonders if the candlelight shadow favors her or not. Maybe the angle is odd, and he won't like it. The ladies don't waste a second slipping her nightgown on her, and her anxiousness fades a little.
"You can leave now," Jimin is the one to dismiss the servants.
She only looks at Yoongi when they're alone. He's watching her. They are silent, but Jimin comprehends there are expectations for a wedding night, even if they cannot conceive. They don't need to do anything but-
Jimin stops by the edge of the bed; she presses her knee to the mattress before crawling closer to Yoongi. She sees the Prince gulp, but he doesn't stop her. His eyes fall to the low neckline of her white nightgown.
"Do you want to kiss me again, Your Highness?" she asks.
Yoongi takes a short intake of breath before nodding. Smiling, Jimin closes the distance between them. The kiss starts tentatively, sliding their lips together, hands in safe places.
Alone and without the urgency to kiss the other, they take their time to test what they like.
The position makes her arms hurt, so Jimin shifts after a few kisses. Yoongi watches her as she tries to find better leverage until he lowers his hand to her thigh. "Come here."
With his permission, Jimin straddles his lap. As she moves, he looks up at her with an open mouth.
Even if his back is against the headboard, she's taller than him this way, and her hair falls on his face when she lowers to kiss him. This time, the kisses grow heated. Yoongi moves his hands to her waist again and scrunches the fabric of her nightgown, making it raise.
Jimin starts breathing faster as the kisses turn faster. She hasn't touched someone in so long, and she likes kissing so much. She likes kissing women so much. Yoongi is so pretty and gentle with his touches. She doesn't pull away even when Jimin feels his fangs with her tongue.
He’s the one to pull away again after a few minutes of kissing and Jimin making short movements with her hips. He presses his foreheads to Jimin’s and lowers his hands from her waist to her sides.
Jimin doesn’t think much about it before she pants, “do you want to do more?”
“I— This is fine for now,” he whispers. While frowning, he adds, “you don’t have to do this.” Jimin tilts her head, confused. “No one is expecting us to. The vampires know that I’m- I’m not a man, and I-”
“We’re not doing this because it’s expected. It’s our wedding night.”
"We've been doing a lot today for other people. Smiling and talking and waving. We can do something for us now," Jimin whispers before leaning to kiss Yoongi's neck. He grips her hips and pulls Jimin closer, his actions contradicting his words.
"But," he tries to say something.
Jimin stops kissing his neck and speaks against the pale skin. "You've never done more with a woman, have you?"
It's quiet for a long moment between them until Yoongi shakes his head.
Jimin pulls away, putting a strand of hair behind her ear. "Do you want to do more with me?"
“Yes, but- you don’t really want me to. You don’t want me that way.”
“What part of me asking for kisses before our wedding and rutting on your lap makes you think that?”
Yoongi doesn’t meet her eyes. “I don’t look like a woman.”
“You are a woman. I like how you look.”
Yoongi waits a long moment before saying what’s causing these sudden insecurities. “You have a gorgeous body. I don’t want you to see my body. Or touch it.”
Jimin feels genuinely sad when she hears that. “Why?”
“I don’t look right under my clothes. Normal.”
“No, it’s not. I thought it would be fine but seeing you and then remembering how I am-” Yoongi shakes his head. “You don’t have to lie. I like that you’re always honest, so don’t lie to me.”
“I’m not lying when I say I like your appearance. Masculinity suits you more than men.”
At least, she gets him to smile. “You told me before that you don’t need long hair or a full chest to be a woman. And I don’t need any of that to find you attractive. I think women like you are even more attractive than women like me.”
“You’re lying again.”
"There are so many women that look like me, it gets boring. And who doesn't want a Prince? When I was a child, I wanted one. I just didn't want him to be a man. Imagine how lucky I am now."
"Jimin, first of all, no one looks like you."
"I mean, feminine!" Jimin laughs softly.
Their smiles make the sadness in the room dissipate. "I have scars," Yoongi tells her while touching his chest. "They didn't heal properly."
Jimin is furious with the vampires. How can they care after a town if they can't look after their son? If they've treated him so bad?
"Women get scars all of the time," Jimin tells him. "Some get scars when they give birth, others when they simply lose weight. I have scars everywhere because I'd get into fights as a child. Scars don't make you less of a woman."
"You'd get into fights as a child?"
Jimin nods quickly. "All of the time." She moves away from Yoongi's lap, presses her body to his and lifts her nightgown to show him her legs. "Look," she says while pressing her fingers to her thighs. "Some boys pushed me into a creak,, and a rock sliced my skin."
"Why did they do that?"
"I deserved it. If I think about it, I deserved what I got most of the time."
Her answer makes him laugh loudly. For once, Jimin is happy about seeing his fangs on display. "What else happened to you?"
"You know markets are dangerous for a child?"
Jimin spends most of the night curled against Yoongi's chest with his arms around her shoulder, sharing stories about her childhood scars and fights.
He interrupts her eventually with a deep and harsh that ends with her laying on her back. They kiss until they fall asleep.
Being Yoongi’s wife is more effortless than Jimin expected. Perhaps it’s because it includes waking up in a handsome woman’s arms and getting kissed first in the morning. Softly or breathless.
They only stop when servants knock on their door to prepare them for the day.
There are specific duties to fulfill after the marriage. First, the couple must visit the region to introduce Jimin to other nobles and townsfolk. Travelling is tiring, but Jimin stays behind Yoongi, bows, is quiet, and only talks when someone addresses her. It's manageable.
When the introduction task is over, and Yoongi and Jimin return to the Palace, Jimin doesn’t have many responsibilities. She visits her mother and has tea with Princess Jisoo often. She discovers that her sister-in-law is involved in committee meetings while Jimin isn’t.
They have tea together because princesses must be friends, according to the older vampire. Jisoo never mentions politics with Jimin. Conversations with her are always meaningless.
It doesn't take Jimin too long to notice that vampires want to keep her out of their business.
Yoongi, on the other hand, keeps Jimin in his business. When he returns to their room at night, he continues to undress behind the panel but hugs Jimin in bed. He tells her some of the matters the committee and the Crown discuss. He also asks for her thoughts on most topics.
They lay on the bed, covered by expensive cherry-colored bedding, playing with their fingers in the air when Yoongi says, “you should make a public appearance soon by yourself.”
“Yes. Have some royal responsibilities that aren’t associated with me.”
"We don't want the humans to think we're keeping you hostage in our Palace."
"Isn't that what you're doing?" Jimin taunts. "I'm surrounded by vampires; you advise me not to leave my room; I don't have friends. If I want to see my mother, there are many steps to follow..."
Yoongi's expression sours as if it pains him to hear Jimin complain. "I advise you not to leave the room because I don't want other vampires approaching you when I'm not by your side and most likely disrespecting you by mentioning how you've married a woman and pitying you."
Jimin keeps quiet, aware of how tasteless royal vampires can be. "And you have to be surrounded by vampires because if word gets around that you're not staying here, people will wonder why can't Princess Jimin stay with the vampires if they don't feed from humans anymore."
"People would wonder if we're protecting you from our species, and there are so many people out there that hate vampires; we don't want rumors saying we're dangerous and that not even the Princess is safe living with vampires."
"But am I safe?"
"You are safe," Yoongi says.
"Your mother is safe too, which is why there are so many steps into meeting her." Jimin knows that; she wasn't complaining, just teasing. "And you have friends. I've heard you often have tea with Princess Jisoo."
"She's not my friend. Just a family member."
"Well," he frowns.
"You can try to be friends with the servants and the guards."
Jimin pouts, measuring her power over him. "But the ladies that help me are so much older than I."
"Because the royal family gets the most experienced servants."
"Can't you ask for someone my age to assist me?"
"I don't want to be friends with women older than my mother, but I could talk to girls my age. There must be younger servants."
Yoongi tilts his head. "You want girls our age? Do you also want me to be jealous?"
Jimin laughs brightly. "No! You don't have to be jealous."
She steals a peck, but Yoongi clutches her waist and doesn't let her step back. Naturally, Jimin kisses him again. While sliding their lips together, Jimin asks, "can I take Jungkook with me? In my public appearance?"
"If you want," Yoongi murmurs, too busy kissing Jimin.
The next day, a new set of servants introduce themselves to Jimin. They're all younger than the previous servants. Jungkook is the one to escort them, and he informs Jimin he'll stay with her from now on.
It seems obtaining what she wants from her husband is easy.
She wanted younger servants because they are easier to manipulate or convince into something and are less strict about protocol than the older servants. She also wanted Jungkook as her guard instead of guards that could inform the Queen about her. Jungkook only reports to Yoongi.
In a few days, she goes into town for her public appearance. Jungkook accompanies her while she visits certain stores and buys fabric and pastries, leaving generous tips. She greets the citizens, talks to many with a kind smile, and promises to return to check on their problems.
On their way back to the Palace, Jimin sees the market she used to work at, and she begs the carriage to stop. "This wasn't in your schedule," Jungkook reminds her.
"I want to greet someone. Come on."
Many people greet her, but she only has one person in mind to see.
She jumps into Taehyung's arms when she sees him. Her friend carries her and spins her slightly but then laments their hug. "Wait, I'll ruin your expensive dress!"
He puts her down and raises an eyebrow. "You'll just get a new one?"
Jimin is timid when she nods.
"Spending the town's coins in dresses. How much you've changed," there's no bite in Taehyung's words, but Jimin still feels scolded.
"You know it's for a noble cause." Her answer is vague enough for Jungkook not to understand, but Taehyung knows what she means. His gaze darkens.
“I was getting restless that I haven’t seen you in so long,” Taehyung mumbles. But he means the opposition, not him.
“It’s been just a few weeks. No need to get restless.”
“It’s been months. Sometimes I think I’ll never see you again, and you’ll stay in that Palace forever.”
“Forever is a long time… I’m still getting used to living there. I’ll start being more confident with leaving the Palace after I’ve settled. Don’t run out of patience; you’ll see me again soon.”
“I’ll try.” It means he’ll try to tell the opposition not to run out of patience.
Jimin holds his hands and sways them like they’d do when they were kids. “It’s so lonely there, you know. I try to see my mother often. Especially for lunchtime, vampires always drink animal blood and raw meat.” She shivers. “Yoongi tries not to do it when he’s with me.”
“He is. But he’s a vampire nonetheless, and he loves raw meat. It’s his favorite.” They’re quiet for a long moment until Jimin says, “I miss you.”
“Take me with you to the Palace. I don’t want to work here anymore.”
“I’ll ask my husband,” Jimin giggles.
"Don't be surprised if Jungkook shows up tomorrow and drags you to the Palace," Jimin looks over her shoulder. Taehyung follows her gaze and gulps, probably picturing the broad knight hauling him. "My husband can't say no to me."
"If I go, you won't have anyone here, though."
Taehyung is right. With the opposition's leader still feeling resentful of her and currently doubting her, she needs to have allies outside of the Palace as well. Jimin pulls him into a tighter hug afterward and closes her eyes when Taehyung whispers to her ear, "be careful."
Seeing Taehyung made her more miserable about being alone in the Palace. And missing her best friend aligns with her bleeding. Her cycle is always painful; luckily, her servants help her with warm cloths for her lower stomach and herbs to help her sleep.
Her husband is worried.
"You've been in pain for three days," he laments while pushing her blond hair out of her forehead.
"You don't get pain during your bleeding?"
"Just the first day," Yoongi admits. "I take herbs to stop it, so it doesn't last long. There are months I don't get it."
"Can I have some of those herbs?"
Yoongi chuckles to himself before settling his large hand on Jimin's lower stomach. "No. It causes irreversible damage here." She purses her lips, deciding she doesn't mind if there's irreversible damage, but she's unsure to say it aloud.
She stops thinking about it when she feels more blood leaving her body. She complains, and Yoongi also scrunches his nose.
"The ladies also reacted that way. Shouldn't vampires like blood?"
"Would you eat rotten food?" Yoongi questions. "Or think rotten food smell good?"
"I smell like rotten food?" Jimin feels like crying, knowing her husband thinks she stinks.
"Right now? Slightly."
Jimin hates how bleeding makes her so emotional. "You should leave if I stink that bad."
Yoongi only sighs and kisses her forehead. "I'll ask for more tea."
Jimin does cry when Yoongi leaves the chamber because it means he must hate her smell. Her three servants are fast to comfort her. They say Prince Yoongi didn't mean to make her cry, and they make her laugh by coming up with embarrassing anecdotes about their own cycles.
When Yoongi returns with a servant carrying tea behind him, he's surprised at the scene. He apologizes for the misunderstanding and coaxes Jimin into letting him comfort her. He cuddles Jimin to sleep, and she forgives him the next day, waking him up with soft pecks on his face.
The vampire ladies open the heavy curtains of their chamber on the day her bleeding ends. They bring hot water in buckets, undress Jimin, and bathe her. They put oils on the water and scrub her skin until she's pink all over.
Her bleeding somehow brings her closer to the women.
They spend hours talking in her room when Yoongi isn't around.
Kwiok is a tall girl who knows gossip about everyone. Miseon is quiet, thin, and petite. Hyeran has a contagious smile and a body type similar to Jimin's; it's her idea to play dress-up with the princess.
They take turns, choose one of the servants and dress her in Jimin's dresses. Jimin learns how to braid hair, tie a corset, and use the expensive paints she got as gifts. She's still careful around the girls, but she's calmer now that she has people on her side in the Palace.
Yoongi catches them in a middle of a giggling fit once. He enters their room and finds Miseon drowning in one of Jimin's dresses while Jimin and the other ladies try to fill her chest with a cloth.
His face is calm when he coughs. "Leave me alone with Jimin," he orders.
The servants look frightened, expecting Yoongi to scold them, but he simply walks behind the wooden panel and starts to undress. Jimin and the ladies undress Miseon too and help her back into her dress. They cover her hair with cloth, and she keeps apologizing with red cheeks.
Jimin hears Yoongi washing behind the wooden panel. Water splashes from the washbin and pitcher on his side of the room. Jimin is sure he's only making time for the ladies to leave to avoid awkwardness.
She smiles at the ladies and assures them that Yoongi won't scold them.
When they're alone, Jimin sits on the bed. She stares at the stone walls of their room and the large wooden door. "Are you mad at me, Your Highness?"
"For having your hand inside another girl's dress? No." His tone makes Jimin snort.
"We were playing. They're my friends."
Yoongi appears from behind the panel. He doesn't sit with Jimin, so she worries. She moves her body forward, hoping to seem inviting. "Are you upset? It was a game."
"I need to talk to you."
"It was just a game!" Jimin continues. Yoongi shouldn't be jealous.
"It's not that."
“I met with the committee and the Crown today and discussed your responsibilities as Princess.”
Jimin sits straight, noticing the seriousness in his voice. His cold attitude had nothing to do with what he found Jimin doing.
“Townsfolk are wondering why you’re not pregnant.”
“We’ve been married for months. They saw you some weeks ago, and you seemed healthy. They’ve seen me plenty during my search where I appeared healthy. And while vampires don’t care about producing a human heir, people want a human with royal blood.”
Jimin remains in silence.
“The Crown presented solutions. We could pretend you are pregnant, announce it and then pretend a miscarriage under the logic that I’m sick and half-vampires are weak creatures.” Revealing that lie could turn the town against the Crown, but it would also disclose Yoongi’s secret.
“Or—” Yoongi stops himself from speaking.
Jimin can imagine what he’s going to say. She stands up and closes the distance between them. “Or?”
“A vampire noble or my brother could father your child. The humans won’t ever know it’s not mine.”
Jimin goes pale. “No.”
“No, no. Yoongi, you can’t do that to me.” He looks away from her face. “You know what I’d had to do with them to conceive?” Yoongi remains stoic. Of course, he knows. “Don’t make me do that. The first option works! I’ll say I’m sick! Please, you said you would protect me!”
"I don't want this either," Yoongi finally turns to her. He grabs her upper arms and keeps her in place. "I'm informing you of what we discussed today, so my parent's decision doesn't surprise you later. Whatever they choose to do."
"Tell them not to force me to lay with a man."
"With your brother! Why would they even think of that?"
"If his firstborn passes away, the next heir would be our child. If he fathers our child, the heir would have his blood and not some other noble's."
"Lord," Jimin squirms away from Yoongi, furious with the absurd monarchy.
"I don't want this. I agreed to marry you! Not someone else. I don't want anyone else." The thought makes her recoil.
"I don't want someone else to have you!" Yoongi says, anger in his voice. "I don't want to force you into anything and force something onto you."
Their eyes meet, and Jimin's heart breaks when Yoongi says, "but as part of the royal family, we must do things we don't want to do. So we just prepare for it."
She understands why Yoongi believes that considering his harmful upbringing but it doesn't make it hurt less.
Excruciating silence conquers their chamber. Jimin refuses to argue more, walking past him to undress, and he doesn't say a word either.
Yoongi and Jimin don't face each other in bed or search for the other's warmth for the first time since their wedding night.
In the morning, servants bring breakfast to their chamber as usual, but Yoongi has already left, so Jimin eats by herself.
She doesn't have time to be sad. Jimin sends someone to ask Princess Jisoo to join her for tea. The Princess agrees and meets Jimin later in the garden.
The Princess wears her hair in a high bun, enhancing her sharp features. She dresses in black while Jimin wears dark red, but Jisoo's dress is more elaborate than Jimin's.
Servants laid out a beautiful table for them, yet Jimin has no intention of eating or having tea.
She engages in small talk about the weather and mundane comments about Jisoo's family, but it doesn't take long for the Princess to notice Jimin's turmoil. "What is it?" she asks, her thin lips turning into a smile.
"Do you think we can speak privately, Your Highness?"
The two have had many tea sessions before, so the request might be strange. However, Jisoo doesn't question Jimin. She raises and tilts her head. "Walk with me."
Jimin follows, and they move in silence inside the Palace. They greet other vampire nobles on their way up the tower.
Jimin doesn't speak a word when they walk past her and Yoongi's room and continue to climb the stairs until they stop at Jisoo and Jaeho's chamber. A guard opens the door for them, and Jisoo enters, ordering everyone to stay outside.
It's the first time Jimin sees their room.
The layout is similar to Yoongi and Jimin's chamber, except the bed has four wooden posters with red velvet fabric draped over the top and sides. There's no panel on the Prince's side of the room either. But the other furniture is the same: large wooden chests and tables.
There are many floor candle holders, two wash basins, and pitchers on opposite ends of the room. And a large mirror where Jimin sees herself before bowing her head. "Is it appropriate for me to be here?"
"Yes." Jisoo sits on a bench under a large stained glasses window.
“This is as private as it gets, and I believe I know why you seek privacy.” She taps her side, and Jimin joins her on the wooden bench, gripping the red cushions anxiously.
“The Prince told you about the Crown’s ideas.” Jimin nods. “What do you think?”
Jimin should be careful around those she doesn't consider allies, but she can't control herself. "I don't want to do it. I don't want to lay with anyone the Crown forces on me."
Jisoo gives her a sympathetic look and holds her hands. "I know this must be shocking to you, Jimin."
"You married a woman, so you must have assumed that sex and conceiving weren't expected of you. You were even fortunate; Yoongi is a woman, so you don't need to bed your husband at all." Jimin keeps quiet regarding that. Jisoo doesn't know she has been trying to bed her husband.
"But you married into royalty, and women have to carry children. There's no monarchy if we don't continue the bloodline. All royal women must do it. Except for Yoongi. She gets to avoid all that."
"He," Jimin quickly says. "He doesn't like being referred to as 'she'"
Jisoo talks about idiotic monarchy structures and admits she doesn't know about Yoongi and Jimin's attraction to women. Still, all Jimin thinks about is making Yoongi comfortable even if he's not here.
The Princess smiles gently at the correction. "You two are close friends."
Jimin presses her lips together. That's a way to put it.
"Not all of us are friends with our husbands. Men don't usually see women as friends."
With that, Jimin can agree.
"But Jaeho isn't cruel. He's not like his- brother," she complies with the correction. "But he's good."
Jimin frowns, appalled by her words. "He's your husband! Aren't you upset at this plan? Don't you see something wrong with the King and Queen wanting me to have his child?"
Jisoo shakes her head. "It's a duty! Nothing else. And it would be the best for the royal family."
Jimin feels sick. "If some other noble gives you a child, it could go sour, and the noble's family might want power, and they could reveal he's the father. The kid might not even look like Yoongi's either. If it's Jaeho's, it'll look like Yoongi. No one would doubt a thing."
"You must do your part, Jimin. This issue only exists to protect Yoongi's secret." A secret his parents forced on him.
Jimin keeps quiet. It's futile to argue: no one will help Jimin inside the Palace. They want this to happen. She needs to find a solution elsewhere.
At the lack of answer, Jisoo sighs. "Don't look sad, Jimin. I know you're scared, but we've all been there. We all do things we don't want for the Crown. Here," the Princess stands up and searches for a box on her bedside table. It's small, made of iron with flower details.
She returns with the box and opens it, revealing a few items. There are many papers, a few keys, two small vials, and a locket. "I'll share this with you." She picks one of the vials: the one with clear water. "A few drops of this under your tongue make makes you less nervous."
"Less nervous?" Jimin asks.
"You won't feel a thing. I can't give you the entire bottle now because I might use it these days. But when your day comes, you're allowed to take it."
"It'll be here?"
"I think Yoongi would find it distasteful if it happens in his chamber."
"Poor thing, he feels guilty," Jisoo pouts as she closes the box and returns it to its place. She taps on it with her long nails. "It's duty. You only need one child."
"What if I don't get pregnant easily?"
"I suppose we'll see when that happens."
Jimin nods, feeling nauseous.
Jimin and Yoongi don't talk that night or the following nights either. Finally, after a few days, Jimin curling on herself and staring at the wall, wonders, "any news on my duties, Your Highness?"
Silence fills their room. She can't see him but imagines Yoongi is looking at her.
"I'm trying to convince them to use the miscarriage ploy."
Jimin is unhappy. She can't speak to her mother about this without revealing Yoongi's identity. Pregnancy is inevitable. She should have known what she was getting into, but Yoongi made everything seem safe.
She was so foolish and innocent.
"Jimin?" He asks, squirming in bed but never touching her.
"Did you know about this?" Jimin murmurs. "Did you know they'd make me lay with a man and carry a child? Is that why you didn't want to give me the tea?"
"What are you talking about?"
"You said I couldn't have the same herbs as you, or I'd get irreversible damage."
"Irreversible damage makes your body change, and it's painful. It had nothing to do with this. I know how you feel about men; I'm like you. I'd never make you do something you don't want to do."
"You make me eat raw meat when we're at the dining hall with other vampires even though it makes me sick, and I can't see my mother whenever I want, and I can't leave the Palace either-" Jimin finally looks over her shoulder. "You always make me things I don't want to do."
Yoongi doesn't argue with her, and Jimin frowns. "Don't say you wouldn't force me."
"I won't say it again."
His answer angers her even more. "You won't deny it, then?"
"What's the use of denying it if you've made up your mind? You can hate me if that makes you feel better."
"It doesn't make me feel better. Not laying with your brother and not having his child would make me feel better."
"I'm trying to avoid that." Now, it's Jimin who doesn't say a word. Yoongi smiles tightly. "I apologize for making you do so many things you didn't want to do."
Yoongi shifts onto his side, looking in the opposite direction from Jimin. He doesn't want to say a word more, but Jimin intends to argue. She leans to shake his body but doesn't touch him in the end. She bites on her lower lip before facing away from him too, feeling terrible.
In the morning, she wakes up to Yoongi's voice. But he isn't talking to Jimin. "Ask her if she wants to explore the Palace. Maybe seeing the animals could distract her." Jimin doesn't need to see him to know he's playing with his fingers. "Pastries won't cheer her up."
"Or take her to the kitchens, and give her a task."
"We can't do that!" Miseon gasps. It's easy for Jimin to recognize her voice. Yoongi is talking to her servants.
"Yes, she'll like it if you don't treat her like a Princess," Yoongi says. Jimin closes her eyes forcefully.
"Make her slice potatoes or something that could distract her. I'm sure she'll start talking about her mother and how they'd cook together, and she'll think of things that make her happy."
"We'll do that, Your Highness," Kwiok replies solemnly.
"Just keep her away from blood."
"Don't let her see anything raw and avoid onions too. I don't want her tearing up." Unfortunately, it's too late; Jimin presses her face against her pillow to stop tears from trailing down her face. She was so spiteful yesterday, and he was upset too, but he's always a Prince.
He's so foolish it makes Jimin angry.
Before she gathers her thoughts and declares she doesn't want to leave her bed, he exits the room.
Her servants try to wake her up, only to find her already awake. "Your Highness." There's surprise in Hyeran's voice. "Good morning."
Jimin rubs her eyes and throws the bedding out of their way. "What's the plan for today? What does my husband want me to do?"
"Whatever you want to do. Prince Yoongi is worried you're unhappy."
"If you don't want to leave the room, you don't have to, Your Highness."
Jimin thinks about it, and she guesses it will make Yoongi sad to find her still in bed when he returns. And he does need a distraction. Clear her mind before seeing her problem in a new light. "Let's play dress-up," she suggests. "But we'll do something different today."
Today, Jimin picks Hyeran to stand in the middle. Jimin and the two servants dress Hyeran in Jimin's garments. They're roughly the same size, so the clothes suit her. She's twirling, showing off the dress, when Jimin grabs her servant attire.
"Now, dress me in this."
The girls blink at Jimin. "It'll be fun. We'll see how long it takes for someone to notice it's me." Her servants don't move. "We'll use the cloth to hide my hair just like you! Please, I'm so tired of guards following me around."
"If it'll make Your Highness happy."
The servant attire is a simple grey dress under a dark brown overdress with a high neckline, which is more reserved than Jimin usually wears. The garment finishes with a worn-out white apron around her hips and her hair hidden under a cloth.
"How do I look?" Jimin asks.
"Your Highness has such a pretty face that even without her hair in sight, she looks beautiful," Miseon whispers.
Jimin grabs the vampire's hand and squeezes. "You're coming with me."
Miseon shakes her head. "I can't, Your Highness. Take Kwiok with you. She's a better liar."
Jimin can't argue with that. "Fine. Miseon and Hyeran will stay here. And I'll explore the Palace with Kwiok. We'll see if the guards outside realize I'm the Princess or if they let me leave without coming after me."
"Stay with your head down and let me talk," Kwiok says.
Jimin's heart beats with excitement. This might be the most fun she's had inside the Palace.
She does as Kwiok says, looks at the floor, and stays behind her as they leave the chamber. She feels tension as she walks past the guards, but they don't stop or follow her.
She and her friend giggle when they go down the stairs, but Kwiok tells her to be quiet after a second. "It's the first time I'm seeing the Palace without a guard following me."
"We shouldn't stay too long in one spot. I'll show you the best places."
Jimin nods excitedly.
Kwiok looks over her should. "Act naturally," she murmurs before heading down the hallway. She stops in the corner and opens a tiny door that Jimin hadn't seen before.
"A secret passage?" Jimin almost yells.
She makes Kwiok laugh. "The servant's corridor, Your Highness."
"It would be odd to see servants carrying food and drinks all around the Palace. This leads to the kitchen, dining hall, our chambers, and strategic points of the Palace. How would we show up fast if we'd walk so much?" Kwiok steps down wooden stairs and Jimin goes behind her.
The corridor is dark and slim, so different from the Palace outside. "It wasn't locked. Can anyone enter?"
"Yes, but royals don't have a reason to use it."
"You are showing me the best places, Kwiok."
Both go silent and look at the floor as another servant walks past them.
Kwiok stops at all the doors, explaining to Jimin where each leads. The servant's corridor circles the Palace and has access to almost every main room on the first floor. It doesn't go upstairs, so it has no access to the private chambers.
They halt at the kitchen.
"Do you want anything from the kitchen? Pastries? Bread? I'll say it's for you."
Jimin takes a second to decide, but she gets distracted by the floor. They suddenly stand in a wooden square when the corridor's floor is stone. It's a trap door. "What's down here?" Jimin asks.
"The King's wine cellar."
It has an old rusty iron lock, and Jimin taps at it with her feet. "We should steal some wine," she smiles mischievously.
Kwiok laughs softly. "I don't have the key, Your Highness. Only the King's servants have it. Only he can authorize opening it."
"There's wine in the kitchen if Your Highness wants that. But it's not old and expensive wine like the one down there."
Jimin sighs, suddenly uninterested in wine if it's not stealing from the King. "Let's go somewhere else. The kitchen is boring."
Kwiok smiles as she walks.
They continue wandering down the corridor. Kwiok shows Jimin the servant's quarters, and unexpectedly they come across windows. "We're at the backside of the Palace already? We can see the animals as my husband suggested."
"The barn is past the training yard. This way."
They step out of the corridor into the yard, where guards and knights practice. Some are shirtless, and Jimin looks away, sickened by their loud laughter and grunting.
When they start to circle the yard, she pales. "Kwiok, Jungkook is there! He'll recognize me."
"Don't look his way, and stay close to me. We'll be out of here soon." Jimin obeys and makes herself smaller. But then, she halts. "Your Highness?" Kwiok asks.
"If Jungkook is here, Yoongi must be here too." Jimin looks past the sweaty men, but she doesn't see her Prince.
"The Prince will recognize his wife faster than anyone else."
"He'll find out about my mischief eventually. Where is he?"
"Your Highness wishes to see her husband training?" Kwiok allows herself to tease, and Jimin knows she blushes everywhere visible.
"No," she lies.
The servant giggles. "Follow me. Keep your head down." Jimin trails after Kwiok, stopping when she halts in front of a knight. "I have a private message for Your Highness Prince Yoongi from his lady, Princess Jimin."
The knight tilts his head. "In the armory."
Jimin keeps her head down and listens to Kwiok say the same to the guard standing outside of the armory. "Wait here," he says. They don't wait more than a minute. He returns and leaves the door open for them, "you may come inside."
Kwiok and Jimin enter the stone building.
The walls and floor are covered by wooden planks. Barrels filled with arrows and swords on the walls decorate the place.
“Is Jimin alright?” the exasperated question comes before Kwiok can say a word.
Jimin sees Yoongi standing behind a man. His black hair is wet with sweat.
And he pushes it off his forehead in worry; he only wears bandages around his chest and training grey plants, revealing a flat stomach and pale arms and shoulders. He's much more attractive than any big man training outside.
Especially when his gaze falls on Jimin.
He looks at her for a long moment before pinching the bridge of his nose and ordering, "leave the room."
Kwiok and the man by his side bow and head outside, but Jimin stays in her place. The couple stands further from each other, and there's heavy silence when the door closes.
Jimin puts her hands behind her body. "You never told me you trained. What are you even doing? You're not using a sword."
"All princes must train. And it's hand-to-hand combat today." Jimin repeats that under her breath. "Are you having fun? Pretending to be someone else?"
"I had fun, but it gets tiring after a moment."
He half-smiles with no shine in his eyes. "I know it does."
"But I wouldn't have been able to visit you if I hadn't become a servant."
"I don't want you to visit me here."
Jimin bites her lower lip, feeling rejected and hurt.
But then Yoongi explains, "there are too many men outside with wandering eyes. And you are a distracting woman."
"You shouldn't worry about that. No one paid attention to me with this dress," Jimin admits.
"Only because it hides some of your finest features." Jimin snorts.
"Which are?" she asks.
Yoongi finally steps closer, and Jimin takes a short intake of breath. Even his skin is sweaty and shouldn't be as attractive as it is. He stops before her and carefully removes the cloth on her head. "It hides your hair."
"My hair," Jimin laughs.
Her blond hair falls around her shoulders when the cloth drops on the floor, and Yoongi plays with strands from it. "I thought you were going to say something different."
"I thought we were fighting. I'm unsure how far can my words and actions go."
"We are fighting."
Yoongi glances at her lips when Jimin says, "I'm upset at you." But she doesn't say a word when Yoongi trails his hand down her spine, stopping at the small of her back and untying her apron with one hand. He works the knot with his fingers, and Jimin inhales.
"I know you are."
"I've been a bad lover. I haven't protected you as I said I would, but you have to believe me when I say I'm trying. It's not easy."
Jimin's chuckle is dry because he's the opposite of a bad lover. "You're not the worst. Couples argue all the time." The apron falls to the floor.
"They do, but it still pains me. I try to give you all I can, but there are royal traditions that I don't find wrong, yet they upset you, and I can't stop them from happening before they upset you." He trails his hand to Jimin's neck, toying with the buttons from her overdress.
She must admit that her husband spoils her as much as he can, but- "I know, I was angry over the child so I scolded you, ignoring the times you've given me what I want and the times you have taken care of me."
It's Jimin the one that pulls her overdress off her frame.
The grey dress she wears underneath has a round neckline, and it hugs her body tight. Yoongi doesn't let go of her neck. "Your finest features."
"You're just like a man with wandering eyes." If a man would stare at her so openly, she'd hate it, but when it's Yoongi, she blushes.
"I might be."
Jimin was upset at him yesterday, but now all she wants is his mouth on her again. It's been so long since they've kissed. "Unlike a man, you can touch."
The word makes him flinch. "But you can't touch me. Is that fair?"
"I'm content with being able to see you."
"You always hide from me behind that panel in our chamber."
"I hide from everyone, not just you. I don't train outside with the men because my body is not manly enough. I didn't let you see me before because I'm not feminine enough."
"What changed now?"
Yoongi tilts his head.
He moves his hand to Jimin's waist to pull her flush to his body and leans down to kiss her neck. He leaves desperate open-mouthed kisses. Jimin gives him space and surprisingly squeezes her legs when his fangs grace her skin. "I can tell you want me," he whispers between kisses.
"I told you before that I want you," Jimin is breathless as he moves to the other side of her neck.
"I didn't believe it, but today, you're upset and still came looking for me and obediently undressed when people are outside. Do you want me that bad?"
"Yes," Jimin whines.
Yoongi holds Jimin's chin with his free hand, and their lips meet again. They kiss hungrily, smashing their lips together with barely any rhythm or patience. It's wet and loud, and Jimin clenches her fists, stopping herself from carding her fingers through Yoongi's short hair.
But as he licks into her mouth, she holds his wrist and guides his hand to her chest. "Please, touch me," she begs, and he gets on it without further ado, moving the other hand to cup her breast over her dress and pressing. He is rough and clumsy, but it makes her moan.
"That feels good?" he whispers, pushing his thumbs where she's most sensitive.
She makes a pitchy sound. "Too many clothes."
His chuckle is hoarse, and Jimin aches between her legs. "You can't remove everything here. You're a Princess." He keeps fondling her with his hands.
"Be good," he says while kissing her. Jimin never follows orders, but this time, she will.
"Yes," she whimpers before lifting her hand to Yoongi's nape. "But- can I at least touch here?"
"Yes. You can touch me there. You can touch everywhere but my chest and between my legs."
Jimin presses their forehead together as she pants against Yoongi's swollen lips, "will you touch between my legs?"
The answer isn't verbal. Instead, Yoongi takes a step forward, pushing Jimin to take a step back until her body hits a wooden table with a few helmets and shields.
The iron armor rattles when Yoongi helps Jimin sit on the table's edge. He stands between her legs and gets his arm under her skirt, lifting her dress's heavy fabric and chemise. "Show me," he requests.
Jimin settles her hand on Yoongi's and guides him to her front.
He cups where she's warmest and both exhale soft sounds. "Here?"
She spreads her legs even wider. "Yes, you must press your fingers inside," she whispers, growing frantic.
He rubs the pad of his fingers between her folds first and groans. "You're drenched."
He keeps teasing her with his fingers, careful of her every reaction and making her even damper. He kisses her before sliding his fingers inside, drowning her loud moans. She pulls at the hair on his nape and touches her chest with her other hand. "Don't stop," she begs.
He pulls his wet fingers out to slam them back inside and doesn't stop that movement; he rolls his wrist so fast that the table jerks, hitting the wall behind them, shields and helmets clacking together, wooden legs scraping the floor.
"You're so deep," her voice breaks.
He tries to kiss her, but it's hard, so he settles for panting in her mouth. "No one else will you see you like this; no one will touch you like this." He curls his fingers. "This belongs to me."
She can't form coherent words anymore; she nods to anything her Prince says.
She lowers her fingers to touch higher than her husband, and even though she could sense it, feeling how wet she is, embarrasses her. "Should I touch there?" he breathes.
He's so aggressive against that spot, that it doesn't take long for her to lose her balance.
She repeats the vampire's name as she clenches her legs. A violent jerk runs through her body, and she's certain the guards outside hear her cry. He praises her and doesn't stop hitting that spot madly, and before she pushes him away, she feels a second wave of pleasure.
He pulls his fingers away this time, letting her catch her breath, supporting herself on the table. She's not used to such intense intimacy; she's speechless. She simply stares at Yoongi's hair sticking to his forehead, his fangs peeking under pink lips, his chest under bandages.
The vampire brings his fingers to his mouth to taste them, humming as he does and making Jimin's face burn in shame and interest. She moans when he presses the same fingers inside her mouth and notices that Yoongi isn't looking at her lips but at her neck for the first time.
The vampire doesn't move for a long moment, and Jimin feels her heartbeat racing again. But in the end, after licking his lips, he steps back. Clumsily, Jimin recovers herself. "Yoongi?" He doesn't answer. "What can I do for you? I want you to feel good too."
"You've done plenty."
"I didn't do anything," Jimin inclines forward. "I just sat here, spread my legs, and moaned."
"That's how you make me feel good," her husband says. Jimin finds that answer oddly attractive but still not satisfying. She cranes her neck, and he tenses.
"Are you certain you don't want anything else?"
He understands what she implies. "I said I would protect you, not put you in danger."
"Are you hungry?" she presses.
"I've had better days," he chooses to say.
The fuzzy feeling after an orgasm isn't letting her think clearly.
"Would it be too dangerous if you had a taste?" She asks, curious how a vampire bite would feel against her skin. Yoongi's bite.
He cages her against the table, looking into her eyes before glancing at her neck. Jimin recognizes a tint of fear behind her arousal.
"There's something else I'd rather taste," he murmurs before pressing his palm between her legs, over her skirt. Jimin is so sensitive from a moment ago that she whimpers and twitches at his touch, even with the fabric shielding her.
"You still want more?"
"I've missed you."
"We sleep on the same bed every night," Jimin taunts.
"Yet you haven't kissed me in a while."
His devotion pleases Jimin. It makes her feel warm and content. "You get more than a kiss and turned insatiable." He hums low on his throat before pressing their lips together again.
They kiss slowly, enjoying every second of it. Jimin throws her arms around his neck, and the vampire gets his hand under her skirt, hiking the fabric and gripping her thigh. "Have you ever tasted a woman?" Jimin wonders.
"No, I've just thought about it."
"If Your Highness begs for it, then I could let him taste."
Yoongi smiles too, fangs catching Jimin's attention. She's caught off guard when she feels his fingers easily sliding into her one more time, making her mewl. "But why would I beg when you're so wet for me?"
Jimin shuts her eyes, flustered. She lets out another needy sound when he curls his fingers. "I told you a moment ago. This is mine," he pulls his two fingers out and pushes them back inside. "I can do what I want it."
"Yes," she says weakly. She doesn't want Yoongi to stop.
She'd tease or deny his words if she wasn't too far gone. She'd play hard to get if the only thought in her mind wasn't feeling good again. "Whenever you want," she adds.
"Yes. Now, you're speaking like a Princess," he says, lowering to kiss her neck while moving his fingers. "
"I've been a bad Prince, though. I can't make you lay on a wooden table or the armory all day. You should be on our bed, laying on soft pillows as I make you feel good. Does that sound better?"
He has two fingers inside her while rubbing his thumb outside. She trembles, "yes."
He sets up a faster pace while she rolls her hips helplessly, and when her moans get shorter and quicker, he pulls out his fingers viciously. It hits her like a punch, making her body jerk at a loss, but she's still quivering in pleasure, body spasming.
"Lord," he groans.
Jimin is still catching her breath. "How many times do you think you can do that?" Her prince asks.
"We should find out," she pants.
"I wonder how differently you'd react depending on what I do." He's again watching her neck. Most likely, thinking of biting her.
Jimin can see how much he fights the urge, clenching his jaw before helping her stand up. "Let's try to appear proper when we leave the armory."
"You're done training for the day, Your Highness?" she asks.
He looks at her up and down. "Yes. You and I still have more to do."
Jimin leaves the armory first, wearing her servant's clothes, and ignores Kwiok's curious eyes. Jimin and her vampire servant remain silent on their way back to her chamber.
"Did you have fun?" Hyeran asks when the two girls enter the room.
"The princess did," Kwiok says.
Jimin's cheeks are burning, but she doesn't scold her friend. "Help me get ready for bed," she says instead.
"It's still afternoon, Your Highness," Miseon looks confused.
"I'll have lunch with the Prince here and wish to be comfortable with my nightgown."
Truth to his words, Yoongi returns to their bedroom earlier than usual.
In the back of her head, Jimin remembers that she'll have to face something terrible inside the Palace soon. But now, she enjoys her time with her husband instead of wallowing in despair under her bedding.
Yoongi dismisses the servants as soon as they finish eating. Jimin only had some fruit, her stomach twisting in anticipation.
Her hair is down, covering her neck, but Yoongi's gaze keeps falling to her skin. He can eat, but he remains hungry for what he genuinely desires.
Jimin notices it more as the night progresses, and they find each other tangled in their bed. He settles on her neck for a long moment when they kiss, breathing her scent. He laps at her hungrily when he lowers between her legs to taste her. He can't get enough of her.
Jimin is loud as she holds onto his short hair and twists, back arching from the bed. He uses his tongue and fingers on her until she spasms, and he grips her thighs firmly, keeping her in place to pleasure her until she's shaking from sensitivity. "Too much," she moans.
"Too much," she repeats, voice wet.
The prince pulls back and dries his chin with the back of his hand while staring at her chest, rising and falling. "You taste good."
Delirious, Jimin says, "my blood must be good too."
Yoongi chuckles dryly. "That again? I won't hurt you."
He lays between her legs, settling his face on her chest. Jimin wears a loose white nightgown, but the thin fabric doesn't protect her from the chilling sensation of Yoongi blowing a breath of air to her breasts.
"You get to play with me, but I can't do anything in return."
"It wouldn't be pleasing to me if you'd touch me," he admits before holding her breast in his hand.
She lets out another wobbly whine. "I know, but, ah," she can't finish her thought because he's licking her over the fabric. Again, needing to taste her. Not that she complaining.
"If you'd bite me and drink from me, you'd feel as good as I do without getting touched. Am I wrong?" Jimin manages to ask as he flicks his tongue. He moves to the other breast, and she doesn't get an answer. "Just a little bite. I want you to feel good."
He sucks hard.
And then, he pulls back to meet her unsteady gaze. "It wouldn't be a little bite, Jimin," Yoongi finally says. "You're seeing me now as I'm hungry, and I can't stop." He palms her over her nightgown. "If I had a drop of your blood, I wouldn't be able to stop, and I'd hurt you."
Jimin purses her lips, unhappy. Yoongi controls himself well around Jimin so she trusts his words, if he's afraid of hurting her, he must be sure he'd lose control. "You're very hungry."
"So much," he mutters with a dry smirk. "The longer I see you, the hungrier I get."
"When my mouth is on you and your body trembles under me, I can pretend I'm feeding off you. Except you're shaking from pleasure and not because you're getting your blood drained."
Jimin's face pales at his words. He catches it and smiles.
"See? We don't need biting."
"You should have had some animal blood for lunch or that raw meat with blood to ease you."
"Didn't you say you hated raw meat and blood? We were eating together."
"Silly," Jimin pouts at her husband. "You're hungry. I don't mind seeing it; just don't make me eat it."
Jimin gets an idea, but she's embarrassed to say it aloud. However, she wants to please her husband, so she goes for it, "you can put some blood on my body and drink it. Would you like that?"
Yoongi raises an eyebrow. "You'd do that?"
"Would that please you?"
Jimin hides behind her hands, but Yoongi grabs her wrists and pulls them away. "Don't hide. I noticed once you asked for my fingers in the armory."
"You're dirty too! You kept telling me to behave like a Princess but undressed me outside of our chamber!"
"I might be dirty."
Yoongi smirks before sitting up. "Stay here; I'll bring the blood."
"Don't leave! Ask someone to bring it."
"For someone who didn't want servants, you seem to find them useful now."
His teasing makes Jimin blush, but not in a good way. "Go get your blood, Your Highness."
"Do you wish to accompany me?" he asks after a second. "If you're with me, I doubt I'll be able to hold back and not touch you on the kitchen table. But today's happenings make me believe we'd both enjoy that."
Jimin bites her lower lip, warmth pooling on her stomach.
Jungkook is doing guard outside with two other men, and they stand straight when Yoongi and Jimin open the door, wearing nightgowns. "Your Highness, Princess Jimin. It's late."
"We're heading to the kitchen," Yoongi explains.
"I'll escort you," Jungkook states.
"No need to," Yoongi says. "We'd like to be alone."
"Is Your Highness certain?" Jungkook presses. He doesn't seem to like Yoongi's idea.
"Yes, I'm certain." Jimin thinks Yoongi would usually listen to Jungkook and bring him with them, but he has other plans tonight.
Plans that include getting under Jimin's skirt in a Palace room at night, which would be impossible if Jungkook was with them. Unlike Jimin, who can't order a guard to leave her alone. Yoongi can.
The three guards lower their heads and bow, letting the pair descend the stairs.
Jimin believes this is the best day she'd had at the Palace. She grabs Yoongi's hand and sways it happily. "Shall we take the shortcut?" she stops by the servant's secret door.
Even if the Palace is dark, Jimin sees Yoongi's expression falter. "You know about the hallway?"
"Kwiok showed me today!"
"Mmh, I see. While it's an effective shortcut, I and the other royals prefer to avoid it. Let's take the long route tonight."
Jimin doesn't argue with him, too excited about what's to come, so she simply lets him guide her through the Palace.
They walk past some guards, who bow at them, and many torches that light the way. In no time, they enter the kitchen. Unlike the halls, this spacious room has no torchlights or candles. Long wooden tables are filled with fresh products, but they look lifeless in the darkness.
"Wait for me here," Yoongi murmurs. "I'll get the blood."
"Alright," Jimin says before Yoongi kisses her lips and disappears into the basement storage where the cooks keep winter ice to preserve blood and raw meat fresh for many days. Jimin starts searching for a candle.
After a few minutes, she's browsing through a cabinet, giving her back to the door leading to the servant's hallway, so she doesn't notice when the door slowly creaks open. She finds the candle just when she hears the door closing behind her, and the loud sound makes her drop it.
She turns around in whiplash and sees nothing by the closed door, but she's confident she heard something. She glances towards the storage room and sees it closed too; Yoongi is still down there. When she returns her gaze to the servant's door, she sees a vampire.
It's a tall, pale man who wasn't there a second ago. It scares her, but when she's about to yell, the vampire is in front of her, covering her mouth with his hand. Jimin is confused; she has never seen someone move as fast; he was meters away from her.
"Princess," he greets.
Jimin remembers him from her wedding and study sessions. It's one of Yoongi's uncles, a cousin of Yoongi's mother, but she can't recall his name. She barely knows him. "Let's not wake the entire Palace. Will you promise not to scream?"
She nods and he removes his hand.
"What are you doing so late outside?" he asks, still getting in her space.
"I'm- Prince Yoongi was hungry."
"She was?" This time Jimin feels a finger trailing her neck. "And her wife doesn't feed her?"
Jimin is too afraid to correct the vampire. "No, he's- he came for blood."
The vampire follows Jimin's flickering gaze and stares at the storage room. "She wants animal blood when she could eat better than anyone?"
"He doesn't feed from me."
"A mouthwatering human woman wasted on the weird vampire girl. How unlucky the rest of us are."
No one has ever spoken to Jimin like this in the Palace. Even if the vampires have thought of drinking her blood when hungry, no one has outright said it. She spends a lot of time locked in her room, but her few interactions with vampires have been appropriate.
The man has forgotten Jimin has a higher rank than him in the royal family. He's not seeing her as his Princess but as some human with tasty blood. His pupils are dilatated, and Jimin thinks he could be drunk.
"You smell good," he says. "Untouched." Unbitten, he must mean.
And then Jimin hears a hiss. She turns her face to find Yoongi approaching them, baring his fangs. He looks scary even if he's cautiously walking closer. He's not as fast as the other vampire.
"Sangho," Yoongi grits. "Step back."
"Your Highness," the man smiles.
"How about we share her?"
Yoongi hisses again. "You're drunk." Jimin had already figured that out, but when Yoongi says it, she notices it doesn't smell like alcohol.
"I feel good."
Yoongi stands in front of Jimin protectively. "Your actions will be punished."
Jimin holds onto Yoongi's shirt, and he tries to cover her.
"Are you threatening me?"
"Snap out of it," Yoongi grits.
"I don't like being threatened." Jimin gets yanked when the vampire pushes Yoongi onto the floor. Her Prince gets easily dragged and pinned down.
Now, Jimin yells.
The older vampire kicks Yoongi before setting his gaze on her and baring his fangs. Jimin screams again and tries to move, but the vampire pulls her flush to his body. He wants to bite her, but Yoongi is back on his feet and slams the man's head to the table.
A long time ago, Yoongi had warned her of vampires being violent and aggressive, but it's the first time she's seeing it. She didn't imagine it'd be this way. "Get out," Yoongi shouts at her.
Jimin pulls herself together and leaves the vampires destroying the kitchen.
She runs down the hallway when she clashes against Jungkook. "Your Highness," he says.
"A man is hurting Yoongi!" She cries, not questioning how Jungkook is already here.
"Your Highness, I'll escort you to your room."
"But Yoongi!" she argues, looking over her shoulder.
She sees many guards rushing to the kitchen and asks herself how many vampires they need to stop a drunken brawl. "It's alright, Your Highness. He'll return before you know it. He'd want me to keep you company in your chamber."
Jimin nods slowly, puzzled by the sudden events.
Yoongi had told Jimin that vampires are aggressive when hungry. But when Yoongi is hungry, he's needy, not violent. And that mas wasn't just hungry, he was drunk. However, he didn't smell alcohol even if he appeared from behind the service door, where the King's wine cellar is.
Jimin stumbles behind Jungkook.
She remembers the night she met Yoongi: the human guards beside her were talking about how big and strong the vampires from the battle were and that vampires that don't drink human blood aren't as strong anymore. Strong like Jungkook.
Jungkook is also fast. More than once, he has appeared before Jimin at an inhuman speed. Sangho in the kitchen was strong enough to throw Yoongi to the ground with one push, and he was fast too when he approached Jimin. Powerful and fast like vampires that drink human blood.
There's a difference between vampires like Jungkook and the royals. Jungkook's body type is different as if he's always had human blood, unlike the royals who drink animal blood and are smaller and thinner.
And if they always drink animal blood, human blood must intoxicate them.
It briefly makes them stronger and faster, but since they're not used to it, human blood also makes them behave differently: violent and aggressive. Drunk. It makes the elegant vampire royalty misbehave.
Human blood is their alcohol, and the King keeps it in his cellar.
That would explain the man's odd behaviour, the lack of alcohol's scent in the air, the differences with Yoongi. But there's no way for Jimin to prove it.
She silently follows Jungkook and lets him tuck her in bed. Her next words and actions will be decisive for her plan.
If her suspicions are correct, then just like she expected, there's something hidden in the Palace that could make the townsfolk hate the vampires and join the opposition. But she needs to find a way to prove it to the people.
And no one should suspect her intentions.
Not even her kind husband.
Yoongi returns after many minutes when Jimin's head hurts from thinking about her options of actions inside the Palace. Jungkook is still inside the bedroom, but Jimin can't see them from where she hides under her bedding. She hears her Prince sigh.
"How is she?" he asks. Jimin hears him move, walking towards the pitcher and basin set.
As water hits the ceramic, Jungkook speaks. "She's asleep. She hasn't said a word since I brought her back." Yoongi hums and dismisses Jungkook, not saying a word about Sangho or the kitchen.
Jimin notices how careful Yoongi is with his words around his guards and servants, especially when Jimin is present. When Jimin could overhear.
After Jungkook leaves, Jimin feels the mattress dip as Yoongi joins her, laying on the right side of the bed. "Jimin," he calls.
He pushes the bedding away, uncovering her. Their eyes meet briefly before Jimin squirms closer and presses her face to his chest. Yoongi is still for less than a second. He circles his arms around her, hugging her and kissing the top of her head. "I'm sorry," he whispers.
"Why? You protected me." At this moment, Jimin can't argue with her husband. Instead, she must use the Prince to get closer to the truth. "You've warned me that the Palace could be dangerous."
"You understand why I prefer to keep you inside this room?"
"I do," Jimin murmurs.
"It was foolish to bring you with me with no guards," he regrets. "I was blinded with want."
Jimin has gotten too comfortable with Yoongi. She has been a hothead in front of him, throwing a tantrum about the pregnancy. She can't be impulsive anymore. "What was wrong with him?"
She speaks softly, trying to sound scared. More than she is.
Interrogating her husband isn't the correct route, even if angrily spatting questions at him suits her. The last time they fought, Yoongi distanced himself. She can't have that now.
"Just a hungry and drunk vampire."
"Smelling your blood and listening to your heartbeat made him act that way."
"He was so fast," Jimin attempts to have an innocent tone to her words. "I've never seen a vampire move that fast."
"Vampires can do many things while hungry."
"You didn't turn violent, though."
"When you were hungry earlier. When you're hungry around me. You didn't act like him," Jimin is careful with her words. She doesn't want Yoongi to think she doesn't believe his words.
"I've told you before that I can control myself better."
Jimin doesn't believe him.
"You'll never see me act that way, no matter how hungry I am. I promised I would protect you."
"Yes." He looks at her for a long second, and Jimin decides to hug him tighter before he notices Jimin doubts his explanation. "It was terrifying," she whines.
She thinks he's lying to her, and he's careful with the statements he makes. He can assure her that he won't act violently in front of her because he refuses to drink her blood. Jimin would have seen him behave violently and drunkenly like his uncle if he had consumed her blood.
But Jimin isn't frustrated by this realization. It's alright if Yoongi hides information about the vampires from her. It's alright if he lies to her or plays with the truth. Jimin is doing the same, after all.
She smiles before kissing his lips and falling asleep in his arms.
She has a lot to ponder.
Yoongi kisses her in the morning too. The Prince needs to think nothing changed for Jimin yesterday. He must believe it was a scary moment but nothing else, so Jimin kisses him back and makes him feel everything between them is the same as yesterday.
This might be the easiest part of everything she has to start doing from now on. Jimin doesn't mind kissing her husband, laying on her back as he hovers over her, hiking her leg around his middle, rutting on his thigh, and moaning in his ear. She enjoys it even; gets wet for him.
But then he has to go, and Jimin is left alone with her thoughts and vampire servants.
Just like with Yoongi, Jimin has to be careful with them. They might find it odd if she questions them about human blood. And if she behaves oddly, they'll report it to Yoongi.
She measures her words as they bathe her. "Did you hear what happened yesterday?"
"Lord Sangho attacked Your Highness and Prince Yoongi in the kitchen," Kwiok says. "Everyone heard."
"He tried to bite my neck, but Yoongi hurt him before he could." The girls look slightly tense.
"You've stopped drinking human blood, but going for a human's neck seems to be instinctive for your species. He knew what he wanted."
"Only when hungry," Hyeran replies. Miseon avoids Jimin's gaze. Luckily, Jimin befriended the girls and is familiar with their mannerisms by now.
Kwiok is a good liar; she created a good cover-up for the King's cellar when questioned about it. Hyeran always has something to say, and Jimin knows she'll have answers prepared. Miseon is the weak end of the vampire servants. She'll be quiet, but her expression will say enough.
"I wonder how did he get so hungry. Wasn't he getting enough animal blood? Do you sometimes crave human blood?"
"Sometimes," Hyeran is quick to answer. "But animal blood is usually enough to satisfy the craving."
"I heard he was drunk," Kwiok adds with a serene expression.
"Just like humans, who crave water and food after drinking heavily. Vampires get hungry for human blood. You want it more under the effect of alcohol. Usually, there's no human around, so a drunken vampire causes no trouble. But Your Highness appeared at the wrong moment."
Her explanation is good, but Jimin isn't convinced. Miseon keeps biting her lower lip, showing discomfort.
"The townsfolk should know not to come close to a drunk vampire, then."
"Vampires don't drink outside of the Palace. During his search, Prince Yoongi didn't drink at all."
Now, Jimin thinks she would have believed Kwiok's words if Miseon wasn't staring at the floor instead of her. If Miseon hadn't called Kwiok 'a good liar' yesterday.
It seems like there's a web of lies that the vampires have built around her, including her husband and servants.
Jimin knows the answer to her conspiracies about vampires and human blood lies in the King's wine cellar, not in what vampires will tell her. That's where Sangho came from, and maybe if she finds wine there, she'll realize she's wrong. But it's impossible to access the cellar.
She tries through her husband.
After waiting a few days, she mentions it. They're kissing in bed, Yoongi's hand on her chest and waist, his knee between her legs: a new development after the day in the armory. In this position, she gets everything she wants from him.
"I want wine," she says, nails scratching Yoongi's nape.
He kisses her jaw and down her throat, making her squeeze her legs. "I'll have someone bring one."
"But from your father's wine cellar," she tries to smile mischievously. "A good expensive one, not from the kitchen."
Yoongi pulls away, and he doesn't need to say his question aloud for Jimin to know what he's wondering. "Kwiok showed it to me when we explored the Palace."
"I have to ask permission if I want one of his wines."
"You don't have a key to the cellar?" Jimin asks.
"No, I don't."
"You're the Prince and don't have access to it?"
"You know how my father feels about me. I don't deserve good wine."
"Not even if you ask for it?"
"If he's in a good mood, he might give me access."
Jimin feels like they're talking about something entirely different from wine.
She hopes Yoongi thinks that she's simply talking about wine. "I suppose it's not worth the trouble," she pouts.
Her pout changes Yoongi's demeanor. "What do I get in exchange if I bring you wine from his private cellar?"
She toys with his shirt. "I'll do something you want."
"Most of the time, I get you to do whatever I want without bribing."
Her cheeks naturally redden. "I'll do more than one thing you want?"
He chuckles, and Jimin forces herself to look away from his fond gaze before he kisses her face. "I'll bring you what you want, Princess."
"Can I come with you?" she asks when he leaves the bed. "We can take a guard with us."
"No, you were in danger last time you were in the kitchen. I'm not repeating that."
While it's a good excuse, Jimin wonders if she's not allowed to the wine cellar at all. She pouts.
It's on purpose, and the Prince notices. "I should stop spoiling you. You think a pout can get you everything you want."
"Am I wrong?"
He returns to bed to cup her face. "You're not wrong, but I'm still not taking you with me."
"So boring! I want to pick the wine I want."
"You're no fun, Your Highness," she taunts.
He slides their lips together before whispering to her ear. "We'll see about that when I return. I think you'll enjoy yourself perched on my face."
Her eyes widen, feeling embarrassed at his words. "Is that what you want?"
Indeed, she enjoys herself when he returns. The bottle of wine is quickly forgotten in favor of pushing him down on the bed. He's laughing at her enthusiasm until Jimin straddles his face, and then his moans are muffled as he squeezes her hips and rumples her night dress.
He keeps her light-headed and entertained for the rest of the night, pushing her and providing her with sensations she had never experienced. She has learned that this is what he enjoys doing the most.
Jimin only remembers the wine hours later, when Yoongi sleeps by her side.
Their room is dark, her legs are aching, and she's sensitive. Yoongi shifted away from her in his sleep, causing Jimin to stir, and her eyes landed on the half-empty bottle on his bedside table.
The attempt was satisfying, but reaching the cellar through her husband is futile.
She can't try again, or he'll begin to question her interest in the underground room. She can expect her husband to indulge her once with her occurrences, but twice would be pushing it.
However, Kwiok said only royals have access to the cellar, and Jimin doesn't frequent royals.
That is until Princess Jisoo requests Jimin to join her for tea. That morning, as she gets dressed in a dark purple dress, Jimin remembers her inevitable nightmare inside the Palace, but she also realizes she's close to other royals who have access to the cellar.
Half of Jisoo's hair is down, and the rest is braided, giving her a sweet appearance. Her gentle smile helps in that too. "I heard what happened with Sangho days ago."
"It was a scary night," Jimin says while sipping from tea.
"I wanted to visit you the day after!"
"To see how you were doing, but Yoongi told me it was better to leave you alone." Jimin didn't know her husband had done that. He's always thoughtful. "Yet, I heard you two were having a private party yesterday."
Jimin schools her expression. "What did you hear exactly?"
Jisoo laughs before grabbing a pastry from the beautiful table in the garden. "Your face is so funny! You're wondering what gossip says. Don't worry, I just ran across my sweet brother and saw him with a bottle of wine. If you can drink wine with him, you can drink tea with me."
"He didn't tell me he had seen you. Where were you?" Jimin tries to keep up the small talk.
"On my way to a committee meeting," she smiles, but it doesn't reach her eyes. She's in charge of this conversation and will take her where she wants it, not where Jimin needs it.
"Yoongi has been difficult when it comes to your pregnancy." And that's where Jisoo wants to take the conversation. "He refuses to join the meetings, but your servants told us about your bleeding."
Kwiok stands straight at that, staring at the opposite corner of the garden.
"It's roughly on the same days of the month, isn't it? You've had regular cycles since you moved here."
"Yes, sometimes it comes later."
"It should be here soon."
"Two weeks after the bleeding stops is the best time to try for a child. That's how I got my twins."
Her children don't live in the Palace. They receive their education in another region, but Jimin thinks their isolation is most likely to protect them. "If you're lucky, you'll get it on the first try."
"It's official then? The order from the Crown."
"You were going to be informed earlier, but then the Sangho situation happened, and it would have been stressful for you. Yet you're better now, so you should know. And you should smile. Pregnancy glow will suit you," Jisoo says afterward. "I'm sure even Yoongi can agree."
Yoongi is furious.
"They had meetings without me," he scoffs while pacing around their room. Jimin dismissed her servants, and they went silently. She's not mad at them; by making them talk, Jisoo only reminded her that there are people with more power than her and Yoongi.
"They're making decisions about you without me. I'll say something; I'll think of something."
Jimin sits cross-legged on their bed. Yoongi is so charming that Jimin had forgotten why she was here for a long moment. Had forgotten the sacrifices she'd have to make for Dangye.
Being Yoongi's wife is too easy; she has to be a royal. And now that she feels like she's closer to the truth, closer to something that could harm the vampires, she needs to follow the thread on full force. Plus, she might have a plan.
"I'll do it," she says.
"I have to do it. I was repulsed by the idea and upset at everyone; I fought with you, I cried. Now I have to live with it. It's my duty, but it'll be our baby."
Yoongi takes unsure steps until he's beside her on the bed, touching her gently. "You don't want to do it."
"I don't, but I must."
Jimin holds his hands and looks for his eyes. "I'll try. But if I get scared, you'll take me out."
"It's not as simple as that. I can't barge in the room and take you with me. You'll have to do it the next day again until you're pregnant."
Jimin is careful with her words; she wants Yoongi to think this plan is also his idea. "But what if we trick them."
"Jisoo has a liquid on her bedside table. She told me that a few drops of it under my table would make me fall asleep and feel nothing."
"What if I give them to your brother instead? I'll have to kiss him," she scrunches her face. "Maybe let him touch me, but he falls asleep. And then I pretend it happened."
Yoongi shakes his head. "You rely on too many suppositions, and many points in that plan could go wrong."
"Then help me make it a perfect plan," she says.
"How long do we have?" Yoongi says. "Three weeks?"
"A little less than three weeks."
He looks away, frowning as he thinks. He doesn't look happy, but Jimin knows how much he'd do for her. He nods. "We can plan something."
He kisses her softly before pressing their foreheads together. "We don't trust in anyone but you and me," Yoongi murmurs. Jimin's chest hurts at his words, but she nods. "We don't rely on anyone else for the plan. Except maybe Jungkook."
"Except maybe Jungkook," she repeats.
"We must create a solution to any possible mishap."
"And accept that there's a chance that it could fail."
"I understand that, and if that happens, I'll carry that child. But I want to at least try to avoid it. Know I did everything in my power to stop it."
Yoongi nods before kissing her again.
She knows it could be horribly wrong, but she isn't lying when she tells Yoongi she wants to try to avoid it. She will lie to him about one big part of this absurd scheme, though. It's not just the vial she'll take from the Princess' box.
She remembers seeing two keys inside the box. She's sure one of them will open the wooden trap door in the servant's corridor- the iron lock from the King's Cellar. She has to see it with her eyes and confirm her theory.
And if none of them opens it, at least she tried.
She speaks with the King and Queen in a couple of days and she's prepared to hear their 'request'. The Crown, their two sons, and their wives meet in the dining room. In the room, it's just the six of them, and a group of servants that leave a dish of raw meat in front of Jimin.
Yoongi clears his throat and pushes the dish away slightly. "Could you cook this for her?"
Jimin tenses when she feels four pairs of eyes set on her. "It's not necessary," she whispers, searching for her Prince's eyes. "It'll be too much work."
"What about rice and vegetables?"
"That won't take them long."
Jimin nods slowly. "Yes, that's better."
Yoongi smiles at the servants until they take the dish away. The other four royal vampires are quiet. Yoongi's gesture is not only romantic but it also shows that he won't remain silent about what's to come.
There's tension in the room and mindless small talk until the servants bring a new dish of food for Jimin. Only when the King starts to eat, the rest follow. Jimin does the same, focusing on the vegetables.
She doesn't look up when she hears them discussing her 'royal duties.'
Jimin lets Yoongi speak, but she's not surprised by any of his requests. They had time to discuss their plan beforehand. They don't ask for too much, so the Crown complies with everything he requires. After forcing Jimin to carry a child, they pretend to care about her comfort.
Jimin behaves: she doesn't say a word, and only nods along to what the King says; she already knows the purpose and reasoning behind the pregnancy.
When the dinner ends, Yoongi brings his brother aside to have a private conversation. Yet, Jimin knows what Yoongi is telling him.
Yoongi had already told her what he would discuss with his brother. Jimin waits with her hands behind her back, hoping that every small request and word Yoongi and Jimin say will lead them to a successful plan.
But their plan is still risky and has both of them scared.
They're so nervous that they don't touch each other at night in their bed. Their kisses are tame, and their hugs never evolve to anything more. They spend most nights talking about their plan.
During those days, Jimin notices Yoongi is growing hungry for her blood.
He doesn't get violent. Instead, he simply stares at Jimin's neck, licking his lips, and more than once, Jimin has to snap her fingers in his face until he meets her eyes. She giggles, finding him adorable. "Do you want animal blood?"
He shakes his head. "It won't taste good."
Jimin pouts before kissing him softly. "I'd give you a taste," she whispers to his lips. He moves a hand to her waist and squeezes. "You don't need to bite me; I could cut myself a little, give you some drops-"
"No," Yoongi shakes his head. "I can't do it. I'll hurt you."
"If everything goes well that night, and we trick your brother- I'll give you a present."
"A little blood in a small bottle. You can drink it when I'm not around, but that way, you won't hurt me, but you'll get what you want."
Yoongi laughs at her absurdity.
"You'd do that? You'd give a vampire drops of human blood?"
"Yes," Jimin murmurs. It's the least she can do for Yoongi. If her theory is true, if she finds out that the vampires are lying to the townsfolk if she puts the people against them, it's the least she can do for Yoongi.
The weeks pass faster when Yoongi and Jimin stay up plotting their plan. And finally, it's the day she has to perform her royal duties.
Her servants bathe her, leave her hair down, and dress her in a long, snug pearl-colored nightgown with a low neckline. Yoongi watches her.
"You're beautiful," he says.
Jimin blushes at his compliment before dismissing the servants. She walks towards him, settling between his open legs, where he sits on the bed, and lowers to kiss him. "You're not so bad yourself."
He chuckles. "Be careful."
"I will be."
Jimin wears her silver bracelet. Jaeho won't ask her to remove it because it's a gift from Yoongi. And it will give her protection if necessary.
It's late at night when they leave their chamber. It's just Yoongi and Jimin in a long empty hall that leads to a staircase.
One of Yoongi's requests at the dinner was to leave the hall empty, with no guards or servants. He argued about Jimin's comfort, privacy, and his pride as Jimin's husband. But, of course, the real reason is that no one gets to listen to Jaeho cough or fall when Jimin drugs him.
Yoongi and Jimin stop outside of Jaeho and Jisoo's room, and Yoongi kisses her one last time, cupping her face and taking his time. "You're mine," he reminds her.
"I am," Jimin murmurs.
"And I'm yours," he says, and her heart beats fast. She feels pain when she kisses him.
She doesn't let him pull away quickly, and when she begrudgingly does, knowing they must let go, she's pleased to get lips on her neck. Yoongi kisses her and even graces the skin with his fangs, nibbling the skin with teeth, but he never bites. Jimin twists his black shirt.
He stops on her pulse, pulling away in the end, and staring at Jimin's eyes while panting. "I'm sorry, but vampires are possessive and handing you to someone else- it's not good for me. I want to bite."
"I know. You should rest," Jimin whispers, still breathless from kissing.
"I won't be able to rest; I'll be thinking of you and what happens in there." Jimin pouts, and her husband looks away. "I'll see you tomorrow."
And then Jimin's act begins. She knocks, and opens the door to Jaeho's room, leaving Yoongi alone in the hallway.
Inside the chamber, it's not as frightening as Jimin thought it would be. But she acts scared, nonetheless: hugging herself and trembling slightly before she bows. That's part of the plan.
"Jimin," Jaeho stands up from the bench under the window. It's dark outside. "Come here."
She listens to the Prince and joins him on the bench. "Yoongi told me you've been trembling in your sleep for the last days."
"I'm nervous. I've never done any-"
"I know. Try to stop shaking like a leaf," the man tries to smile at her, more gentle than Jimin expected him to be.
"There's wine; Yoongi told me it helps you with the nervousness."
She tries to smile as if she was cooperating. "After my big fright in the kitchen with Lord Sangho, Yoongi got me wine that helped me sleep."
"He told me about that. From our father's cellar."
"Yes," she says.
"You should lay in the bed, Your Highness," Jimin says suddenly. Jaeho's eyes widen at her forwardness, but then she explains. "I need a moment."
He nods sharply. And Jimin is glad Jaeho is attending to what Yoongi told him when they spoke: to be gentle and listen to Jimin.
Yoongi told his brother that Jimin was scared and advised his brother to comply with her requests if he didn't want her to sob and remain dry through everything.
Jimin must continue acting like the frightened girl to get the older Prince to treat her carefully.
"Princess Jisoo told me she had something for me," Jimin whispers. She and Yoongi decided not to keep her knowledge of the vial a secret so the Prince didn't suspect her. She has to play witless and innocent too.
"Oh, yes. She told me. It's on her bedside table."
As Yoongi's brother sits on the bed, Jimin walks to the bedside table and opens the iron box. The two keys she saw many months ago are still there, but she grabs the vial first. "Is it this one?"
"Ah! I'm so nervous," she says as she returns to the table with wine.
She stands so that the Prince doesn't see anything but her back.
Now, Jimin knows the wine was Yoongi's suggestion to his brother. And so she also knows that there's a jug of animal blood on the table. It's here because Yoongi told his brother that Jimin despises drinking alone.
She acts surprised when she looks over her shoulder and makes eye contact with the man. "There's also blood for Your Highness."
"Yes," he says.
"Does Your Highness wants a glass? It's so much better if we can drink together."
He chuckles. "Yes, Yoongi told me you liked that."
"He's so thoughtful," Jimin says, feigning calmness.
This is her first chance to pour the drug, so her hands are beginning to shake. But Jaeho says, "I started without you, though. I think I left my glass somewhere over-; it's here. I still have some blood left."
Jimin smiles tightly. Now, she has to convince him to fill his glass again. If she can't drug his glass drink, she needs to make the quick choice of drugging the entire jug or waiting. She doesn't know if the drops will be effective if mixed with so much liquid, though.
She can't overthink now, "I'll take the jug over there!" She thanks her mother in her head for making her cook so much every day. Her hand stops shaking for her to open the vial and drop a lot more than what she and Yoongi had discussed inside the red liquid.
It's over quick.
Her body is in the room but her head is somewhere else. She takes the jug to him, returns, and pours wine for her. She tilts the vial near her mouth, so the Prince thinks she's using it.
In case a drop gets slips, she washes her mouth with wine before spitting it in the glass.
This should have been the worst part: tricking the man, drugging the blood, being careful not to get caught. Her heart is racing fast, and she's about to pass out, but this wasn't the worst part for her.
The worst starts now: joining the older Prince in bed and waiting.
During waiting, there will be kissing and touching, and she'll have to endure it until he falls asleep. Adding to her fear, he doesn't refill his glass immediately, and Jimin needs him to drink the drugged blood.
"Your Highness," she says after kneeling on the bed.
"There's something you might enjoy."
That catches his attention as he lies on his elbow.
"I've done it when my husband gets hungry. He pours blood on my neck and drinks from there. I think you'll find it enjoyable, and touching in a non-sexual manner first, will help me relax."
The Prince raises an eyebrow. "I had heard about your fun days with the humans. Those stories didn't suit your shy and quiet demeanor in the Palace, but this is what I expected from you." Jimin bites her lower lip when he leans and grabs the jug of blood. "Lower your dress."
Jimin complies, undoing the strings that hold the neckline together until she can reveal her neck and shoulder. Jimin closes her eyes when she feels animal blood drop on her skin, and she shuts them forcefully when she feels the man's tongue drinking the blood from her skin.
She hates the feeling and that this isn't Yoongi. She flinches at the fangs touching her skin and cringes when animal blood trails from her neck, down her chest, and inside her dress. She ignores his words.
Finally, he's drinking the drugged blood. She'll get out of here soon.
The seconds are never-ending. Jimin and Yoongi didn't know how long it'd take for the drug to have an effect, so they were only hoping for the best. Jaeho starts touching Jimin's body while still lapping at the blood he poured on her body. She squeaks. "Please," she says.
"Please, take it slow," she pleads.
The Prince lets out a tired exhale of breath. But he nods. She knows that if she wasn't Yoongi's wife, Jaeho wouldn't comply with her request. "Lay down," he suggests.
They move in bed until her back hits the mattress. She feels caged.
He hovers over her and kisses her neck again, forcing her to open her legs with one hand on her knee. He settles between her legs, and she starts panting. "Please," she says again. "Go slower."
"I haven't done everything yet."
Jimin wrinkles his shirt. "I don't feel good."
He sighs but doesn't push further. "Yoongi told me you were finicky, but I didn't understand how much."
He ignores her words. "We have to do this, you know."
"I know," Jimin murmurs. "Maybe I need more wine."
He chuckles in disbelief before pulling off her.
She stands on wobbly legs and hurries to the table with the wine. The Prince lays on his back while she pretends to drink from the glass. She takes a deep breath and tries to win as much time as possible.
But she has to eventually return to bed. "You're ready?"
But she doesn't lay on his side. Instead, she climbs on his lap. "What's this?" he asks with a raised eyebrow.
"If Your Highness accepts it, I'd like to establish the pace."
He shrugs. "As long as we do it once, and it takes, it's fine if you take your time. We have all night."
Jimin kisses his lips this time, feeling sick when he grips her waist. She kisses him slowly, dragging it, measuring how he feels. It feels like an eternity when finally she notices he's kissing slower, and his hands aren't touching her body with the same intensity.
It's time to gauge the effects. Jimin snakes her hand down, pressing the heel of her palm to his front. He doesn't react, and before he can question anything, Jimin kisses him again, starting to roll her hips. That must be the last memory he has of Jimin before passing out
He looks at her, stranged before coughing. "Wait."
But she pulls away and whines, pretending he's already inside her. She must confuse him more and hope he vaguely remembers this tomorrow.
She feels like she could cry when he fails to touch her, and his eyes flutter close.
She doesn't leap away from him immediately. Instead, she stays on his lap to ensure the drug works. Her heartbeat races fast, and she's frightened that he'll wake up, but a long moment passes, and he doesn't stir even when Jimin shakes his body and taps the side of his head.
She can breathe again, and she covers her mouth not to let out a relieved cry.
She moves from his lap and starts to prepare the room as she and Yoongi had discussed. She rubs the blankets between her legs and pours blood on the bed to demonstrate she's no longer pure.
She undresses him carefully. And then, she had to undress too. That's what she and Yoongi had decided, but when she looks at the bed and sees that their plan has succeeded, she feels a surge of confidence that makes her move on to her plan. The one she didn't tell Yoongi about.
She moves to the iron box and grabs the two keys. She's done so much tonight already; she needs to try this too. And maybe she'll be lucky and find what she needs in the cellar.
She asked Yoongi to request for no guards, so she simply blows the candles before hurrying outside.
She pads downstairs carefully and stops outside her and Yoongi's room. The staircase is empty, but from where she stands to the servant's door, there might be guards. She needs to be careful when she moves. Her hands shake, and she tries not to think of Yoongi inside their room.
If she pulled off their plan with Jaeho, she'd be able to do this. She takes a deep breath and runs.
She reaches the servant's door and pushes it open. Heart beating ringing in her ears when she sees the long dark hallway. The awful things she had to do were getting paid off.
Luck is on her side tonight. It's what she deserves.
When Jimin reaches the cellar, she drops to her knees. Shaking, she tries to open the lock with the first key, but it fails. She curses under her breath and pushes a strand of hair behind her ear. She tries with the other key.
If she wasn't so scared, she thinks she could laugh manically when the lock opens.
She drops the keys to the floor and removes the lock from the door. She can't believe her blessings as she opens the wooden trap door and reveals a wooden staircase and a dark cave.
She's certain that down there she'll find the reason she came to this Palace. She's sure that it's not just bottle of wines but the proof she needs to make the people despise the monarchy. Without waiting a second more, she descends into the pitch darkness, sweating cold.
Her feet make the wooden stairs creak. She touches the rock to guide her way down, scared she'll fall.
She sees nothing and hears nothing until she's gone down many steps and listens to a mewl. Jimin doesn't know if it's from pain or pleasure, but it frightens her nonetheless.
She stops and waits to see if she hears anything else. Another hiss from the same person. Jimin follows the sound and founds that the stair has ended. She's finally on the cellar's ground, but it's still pitch dark. There's light far away, a torch. She goes after it.
There's a doorframe leading to another room, but no door. The other room seems to have light, but Jimin doesn't walk into it. Instead, she clings to the stone wall and reaches the column. Her fingers curl as she peeks at what's happening on the other side.
Her eyes widen.
There are dungeons around the room, at least twelve. And in the center of the room, there's a large stone bench. The woman mewling is wearing a beautiful red dress that reveals her shoulders and neck. But she isn't alone- she sits on top of someone, straddling their lap.
And she's tilting her head aside, long brown hair swaying as she trembles. The man under her has his fangs sunk into her neck. It's hard to see details with the light of only one torch, but Jimin can see the bright red blood.
Jimin is seeing a vampire feed from a human.
She expected to find human blood, not humans living under the Palace. She glances around the room, trying to find another person. But the cells seem to be empty. She's confused, and then she focuses on the two people on the stone bench, resting against the cold wall.
She's been caught; the vampire has already noticed her presence. Jimin locks eyes with them, and her heart shatters into tiny pieces.
Hungry gaze, pale skin, fangs dripping with blood, short black hair. Jimin was wrong; the vampire feeding isn't a man. He just looks like one.
Jimin’s instinct is to flee. She wants to return upstairs and pretend she never saw this. Pretend she’s not as hurt as she is.
She turns and runs, ears ringing and eyes watering, only to have someone push her against the stone wall before she reaches the stairs.
Jimin cries in pain when her back hits the wall, and strong hands grip her upper arms tightly. “What are you doing here?” his voice is so different from his gentle tone, making Jimin choke a sob.
She forgot that vampires are faster and stronger when they drink human blood.
In the room’s darkness, she meets her husband’s eyes and tries to mask her pain. It’s not difficult since she’s also so angry. “Let go of me!”
Yoongi adds force. “How did you get inside here, Jimin?”
“Let go! Let go!” She yells, shaking uncontrollably.
“Answer!” He presses.”
Jimin squirms enough to press the silver bracelet he gifted her to his arm, making him recoil in pain. He pulls away, but Jimin follows, shoving her wrist to his face. He hisses as his skin burns. “Don’t touch me!” she yells.
Yoongi covers his face, and Jimin tries to run again.
But he grabs her ankle after she stumbles on a few stairs and pulls at her, making her fall. He twists her body before she can crawl, hovering over her, the stairs digging at her back. This time he grabs her arm and pins it down. “You’re not going anywhere unless you answer.”
“Or what?” Jimin spits at his face. He has a red mark on his cheek and blisters visible from the burn. “What are you going to do? Hit me?” It would probably hurt less than what she’s feeling right now.
He takes a deep breath.
“Do it, then! Hit me! I won’t tell you a thing!”
He doesn't hit her. He stares at her before letting go of her wrist and pulling away. He grabs her chin to keep her head in place and then kisses her.
Finally, tears slip down Jimin's face. His lips taste of someone else's blood.
Jimin pushes him away with all her strength.
"I hate you!" she cries
He takes a step back. Jimin doesn't try to run away anymore, which is what he probably wanted to achieve. But she doesn't care. She follows him, fisting her hands and hitting him on the chest.
"I hate you!" He shrinks as Jimin punches his unhealed scars.
Jimin can't imagine how much the scars on his chest hurt, but it must be less than her broken heart. "I hate you! I hate you! How could you lie to me? How could you—" She stops hitting him when her voice breaks. She covers her face, not wanting Yoongi to see her cry this hard.
She hadn’t realized what Yoongi’s attention, devotion, and love did to her. She hadn’t recognized the strong feeling she had been developing.
Now, she recognizes it. And she feels betrayed and humiliated. “You toyed with me,” she sobs. And then she pushes Yoongi’s chest again.
He doesn’t say a word, and it makes Jimin feel worse. She yanks his shirt. “What’s her name?” She asks, staring into his eyes. “For how long you've been drinking her blood? Are you fucking her too? You’re mad because I interrupted?”
Finally, he speaks. “I’m not fucking anyone.”
Jimin has tried to control her reactions to everyone in the Palace, including Yoongi. She decided to be careful with her words and not be a hot-head for her purpose here, but she's furious.
Jimin strides to the room with the torches, searching for the other woman.
She’s still there, holding a damp cloth to her neck and standing in the corner of the room. It’s the best hiding spot in a room with no furniture. The woman looks older than them but shorter and skinnier.
“Do you know who I am?” Jimin asks.
“Your Highness,” the woman bows.
Jimin has never seen her before. "You're human," Jimin wants to be sure.
"Did he force this on you? The feeding."
"No, I-" The woman looks behind Jimin, where Yoongi must be. Jimin clenches her fists and blocks the woman's gaze, so everything she sees is Jimin.
"I work at the Palace, Your Highness."
Jimin wants to hurt this woman, but she stops herself because she might own what Jimin needs to shatter the royalty. "For how long?"
"I've worked with the royal family before they moved to Dangye. I was brought to them twelve years ago."
Jimin doesn’t know how to assimilate that information, and Yoongi’s presence behind her keeps reminding her of her anger. “And how long has this been going on?” She gets no answer. “With the Prince?” Jimin raises her voice.
“It’s the first time I’ve met the Prince.”
Jimin laughs dryly. “Do I look stupid? You want me to believe it’s the first time you’ve met him? I’ve never been that close to anyone on the first night I met them! Straddling them and letting them bite my neck.”
The woman flinches. “That’s the way we feed the vampires!”
“If we’re on top of them, it’s easier for us to escape if they get violent!” Jimin simply stares at her, at her wobbly lips and frightened gaze. “If we let the vampires hover over us, they could kill us. So we must do it on top of them while they are chained to the bench.”
Before asking more questions, Jimin glances at the stone bench and sees a broken iron shackle. "That's broken."
"I broke it," Yoongi speaks.
Jimin ignores him. "The Prince broke it when he went after you," the woman continues. "The feeders keep the key. I can show you."
The woman keeps shaking while she fumbles with her dress. Under the waist of her skirt, a cloth hugs her body. Hidden between the fabric, there's a key. "It's this one."
Jimin doesn't grab the key. She doesn't believe any of their words, even if there's a logic behind them.
"And the cells?"
"I can't open them. Only the vampires have those keys. Vampires have the keys to the dungeon and for our cells." Jimin gulps. That must be why Jisoo had two keys on her iron box. But Jimin can't try it out because she dropped Jisoo's keys upstairs.
She finally turns to Yoongi. "Where are your keys?"
"Where are the keys you used to enter?"
"Answer my question," Jimin snarls at him.
His expression doesn't give away anything, but Jimin sees him clench his fist. "I did tell you I don't have a key for the Wine Cellar."
"I used Jungkook's. He's in the kitchen upstairs and took the keys with him. He locked me inside because we didn't know how I'd react after drinking human blood for the first time in years."
"You could have hurt her. He should have stayed with you to protect her," Jimin argues.
"We thought it was most likely that I'd hurt him, take the keys," he says the following words quickly. "Leave the cellar and murder my brother. But yes, Jimin, you're right. He should have stayed."
They stare at each other for a long moment. "I hate you," Jimin says.
Jimin focuses on the woman. "What's your name?"
"Songyun," she says.
"Why are you so scared?"
"Your Highness." Jimin notices she's referring to her and not Yoongi and feels ashamed for yelling at a servant- an enslaved person when she wants to protect them from the monarchy.
"Please don't send me away or order my death."
Jimin's eyes widen. "I would never do that. But- wouldn't you like to be sent away from all this?"
Songyun shakes her head. "The royal family has always been good to me. I get so much more here than I did outside the Palace."
"I'd never wear dresses like this or eat as good. Or rest as much; we barely work in here! We only feed the vampires. And it's over quickly. They've never done more than feeding."
"You live in a cell."
"The cell is just the front. There are other rooms for us underground."
"But that's not-" Jimin stops herself from arguing. She doubts she'll convince this woman that she doesn't live freely. Jimin also doesn't want to further distress her and wants to avoid her own headache. "I won't send you away."
"Thank you, Your Highness."
Jimin walks past Yoongi, pushing his shoulder. She doesn't say a word even when she feels Yoongi following her. But before reaching the trapdoor, she stops. She turns around, and because of the staircase, she's inches taller than him.
She leans down, her hair brushing his face.
She digs her finger to his chest, watching him jerk again. She speaks only when their eyes meet. "You and I are over. Don't ever kiss me again, don't ever touch me again. You and all your family are terrible people. You think you're different, but you're just like them."
Yoongi doesn't argue with her. He receives the words, nods in agreement, and keeps quiet until Jimin opens the trap door. "Stay there," he whispers.
Jimin listens to him, and she stands still, hands behind her back. Yoongi picks up the keys Jimin dropped on the floor.
“Where did you get this?”
There’s no point in lying. Jimin has to return them either way. “Princess Jisoo.”
“She gave them to you, or did you steal them?”
“I stole them.”
Yoongi puts the keys in his pants pockets before closing the cellar and opening the kitchen door.
Just like Yoongi had said, Jungkook waits in the kitchen. The knight stands straight when he hears the door open, but his face falls in less than a second when he sees Jimin standing in the servant’s corridor.
“What is she doing here?”
“She stole a key. She knows a lot.”
Jungkook glances at her, and Jimin stares at the ground. “Jungkook,” Yoongi calls. “No one can know she has discovered what she shouldn’t have.”
“Go down there and make sure the feeder doesn’t tell anyone she met Jimin tonight. And- I broke the shackles from the bench.”
Jungkook's face fills with astonishment. "You did what?"
"I tore it apart."
"How did you do that? That thing is-"
Yoongi doesn't seem to want to talk more. "I wanted to get out of there fast, so I broke it."
Jungkook sighs. "I don't know if I can fix that tonight."
“I’ll see what I can do. I’ll try to form a cover story for it in case someone sees it.”
“Alright. When you’ve finished everything, come to our chamber. I’ll be awake.”
Jungkook is quiet for a long moment. Then, “What happened to your face?” Jimin can’t see Yoongi’s expression.
He doesn't reply and just turns around. "We'll say Jimin couldn't sleep in Jaeho's bed, so she left and found us in the kitchen. I took her to our room so she could rest after fulfilling her duty. Yes?"
Jungkook nods. Jimin doesn't, but Yoongi doesn't wait for her to do it.
He walks in front of her, and Jimin follows. The corridor seems never-ending. And so do the aisle and stairs outside.
Since Yoongi had requested not to have any guard -just like Jimin got to the hallway- they manage to reach their room without crossing paths with anyone.
They enter the room in silence, and Jimin feels like all the warmth shared in that bed is now rotten. “I’ll return the keys and talk to Jaeho if he’s up,” Yoongi says.
“There’s a jug of blood with the drug on his bedside table. And the keys go on the box of her bedside table.”
Yoongi nods. “Don’t leave the room.”
Jimin stays. She climbs inside the cold bed but can’t bring herself to stop shaking. She keeps thinking of everything that happened to her tonight. Jaeho’s lips on her neck. Yoongi’s fangs on someone else. She grabs a bucket and pukes.
Jungkook arrives before Yoongi. He enters the room and greets Jimin, but she doesn’t answer. Jungkook remains quiet and doesn’t move when she starts sobbing under her bedding.
Eventually, Yoongi returns, and Jimin forces herself to stop crying. He doesn’t speak to Jimin.
He gets close, and she tenses. Usually, he'd kiss her forehead, but tonight he just grabs the bucket with puke and leaves. "Get rid of this. Clean the jug, fill it with blood until it's half-full, and return it to Jaeho's room. Leave it next to the wine. He's still sleeping."
Before Jungkook leaves, Yoongi stops him. “Can you come back with something Jimin can apply to her skin? She’ll bruise tomorrow.”
“Yes. And something for that burn in your face.”
It’s like Jungkook catches Yoongi off guard. He hadn’t even thought of that. “Yes. That too.”
Jungkook closes the door, and Yoongi doesn’t sit on the bed. Jimin hears him move in the room, but she doesn’t look at him, burying her face in the pillows. She’s tired and hurt. She hears him drag a chair close to the bed. “Will you talk to me now?”
Jimin remains quiet.
Yoongi doesn't seem to mind. "Why did you steal Jisoo's keys, and why were you in the dungeons?"
"How long- for how long have you been drinking human blood behind my back?" Yoongi said he hadn't drank it in years, but Jimin doesn't trust him now.
She sits up and glares at him.
“I answer honestly, and you answer honestly, too. One question after the other. No lying.”
Jimin snorts. “How would I know you’re not lying? You’ve been lying since the first day.”
“And have you been completely honest to me?” Yoongi asks. “You’re not lying to me?”
“Because we had a plan, and you kept your actions a secret from me.” He leans forward, elbows on his knees. “Look at me. No lying. First, tell me why did you steal her keys." He clenches his jaw. "I’ll know if you’re lying.”
“I stole them to find what you hide in the cellar.”
She’ll give him short answers.
“For how long have you been drinking human blood?” Jimin asks.
“This is the third time I’ve had it in my life. The first time was when I turned eighteen. The second time was when Jungkook turned eighteen. And tonight is the third.”
“Why do you want to know what we hide in the cellar?”
“To find out about the lies you and your family keep. Why did you drink her blood and not mine?”
“I said it before. Since it’s been years, I didn’t know how I’d react if I fed from you. I had to get used to it again.”
His answer continues. "I had to feed from another human before I drank from you while you were sleeping. Before killing you or turning you into a vampire. There's more than one reason I took this decision I wouldn't have made otherwise." Yoongi doesn't let her retort.
“Once you discovered our lies, who would you tell them to?”
Jimin stares at him defiantly. She won’t say everything about the opposition right away. “To my friend Taehyung. Why did you have to feed tonight of all nights? When I was in danger in your brother’s room””
"Because it was the only night when you wouldn't find out. You were supposed to sleep in another room, and it's been the only night since you got here where we didn't sleep together. We feed at night because it makes us drunk. No one wants blood-drunk vampires in the Palace."
"You didn't seem drunk," she says before he can question her again.
"Pushing you against a wall and down a stair seemed like a decision I'd made sober?" Jimin keeps quiet. "I sobered up afterward. Would you tell our lies to your friends from the opposition?"
Jimin ignores him.
“Why couldn’t you drink for me?”
“Jimin, I asked you something.”
“You could have told me,” Jimin forgets about the question. “You could have explained your reasoning. Or tell me that we needed to chain you to somewhere, and I had to be on top so you wouldn't hurt me."
"I had to be careful with everything I said to you because you couldn't find out that I know so much about drinking from humans. You couldn't find out about the feeders or the cellar. You couldn't find out we still drink human blood or you'd tell someone. Wouldn't you?"
"How could I tell someone when you keep me hostage in the Palace?"
"I'm certain you'd find a way just like you did to reach the dungeons."
"Perhaps the people you and your family rule should know you keep humans like them in cells as food after claiming you've stopped."
"Perhaps," he says.
"Just not feeding from them isn't enough, Yoongi," Jimin tells him. "You're not better than them for stopping yourself from being a monster for years. You still know what they do, and you've ignored it. You deserve every person in this town to despise you."
"I thought you didn't hate vampires. We need human blood."
"I don't hate vampires, Yoongi. I wouldn't have cared if you drank human blood as long as it was from me; I care that you drank someone else's blood. Someone with no freedom to choose if they want to feed you."
"I wanted to do that for you because I thought you were slightly different, but now I know. And you'll never drink from me, and I'll make sure everyone knows you're horrible. I hope that what you did tonight always makes you miserable."
Yoongi stands up and leaves the room.
It takes Jimin a long time to fall asleep, and she only achieves it when she runs out of tears. In a few hours, Jimin wakes up with puffy eyes and finds someone left ointment and cloth on her bedside table.
Hours pass and her servants never come, so Jimin applies it to herself.
The room remains quiet; she doesn't leave the bed to open the curtains or light the candles. She falls asleep again.
Another day passes, and her servants never arrive. She applies the cream to her bruises and finds water, rice, and vegetables on the table. She barely eats.
She tries to stay awake to catch the person changing the cloth on her bedside table and leaving fresh food, but they seem to enter whenever she's sleeping. She tries to open the door, but it's locked from the outside.
Yoongi's clothes disappear too. Or someone takes them.
They don't take everything, just a few pieces. But before they empty the Prince's chest, Jimin grabs one of his shirts and puts it on. She's startled by the knowledge that even after finding out the truth about Yoongi and being hurt and disappointed, she still misses him.
In the days of silence, she worries about her actions. She remembers the words she spat in Yoongi’s face when she wanted to hurt him more than he had hurt her. She worried about the consequences of her impulses. He would never hurt Jimin’s mother but she worries about her too.
If Yoongi told his family what Jimin did, if he wants her out of his life, it'd be so simple to disappear her and her mother. As she brings her knees to her chest and curls on herself, she thinks of Yoongi's blank expression and void eyes when she called him a monster.
She wakes up to that face after a day more. Her eyes feel heavy; first, she thinks she’s imagining him. He’s opening the curtains -making her cringe at the light- before changing the cloth on her bedside table. He won’t look at her. “Yoongi,” she whispers.
He turns to her.
Tiredly, she sits against the headboard and notices his eyes flicker to her nightgown. She's still wearing his shirt. "You're the one that has been leaving medicine and food here?"
He looks away. "No, I'm not as discreet. I would have woken you up every time."
“It was Jungkook. But I wanted to speak to you today.”
Still sleep-deprived and studying the image before her, Jimin tilts her head. She tries to stretch her hand to him but pulls back in the end. He notices the small mistake. “Your face,” she says. He hasn’t treated the wound.
He doesn’t address it. “Have your bruises healed?”
“Yes,” Jimin murmurs.
“I told the Crown that you and I had a discussion. I said you did this to my face and that we had to punish you. I said it to have a cover story for that night in the cellar and hide your bruises.”
"If the servants had seen your bruises, they would have thought my brother did them. If one of them was smart, they would have realized a blood-drunk vampire did them, which would have gotten us in more trouble. And I assumed you would want to avoid Palace life."
While Jimin understands Yoong's reasoning, the fear and uncertainty of confinement could have been prevented. "You could have told me before locking me for days."
"I apologize, but I didn't want to see or talk to you."
Jimin didn't expect those words to hurt her as much.
“I understand. A message through Jungkook would have worked too,” she whispers.
“I did tell him, but he refused. He didn’t want to talk to you either.”
Jungkook must hate her immensely, or he wouldn’t have disobeyed Yoongi’s order. If he hates her, it’s because she hurt Yoongi.
Yoongi changes topics. “If your bruises have healed, your servants will come to bathe you and change you. We’re meeting at the Palace’s entrance at midday.”
Jimin’s eyes widen at the possibility of leaving the Palace. “Will I see my mother?”
“When we return from our trip.”
"A trip?" Jimin asks.
"It won't be long. We'll spend the day somewhere else."
Yoongi doesn't look content, and Jimin worries if something terrible will happen to her when they leave the Palace. Will the vampires lock her away from her mother? Will they murder her?
Yoongi leaves after that as if he's unable to watch Jimin for too long. Her servants come, but they don't ask her questions.
Miseon smiles at her and says she's happy to see the Princess again, adding that she hopes that today's trip can make the Prince and Princess reconcile.
Apparently, that's how Yoongi framed this trip to the Crown.
While the ladies bathe her, Jimin is grateful that she had a few days to lay in bed and recover from everything she experienced, saw, and learned that night. She would have cried if vampires had touched her before.
They dress her in a dark red dress. Jimin thinks of the human feeder while they tigthen it around her waist but focuses on the heavy fabric instead. Her dress has so shine to it; it's opaque and lacks details.
She doesn't feel pretty enough to leave her chamber.
Yoongi has seen her with messy hair and puffy eyes, but Jimin remembers when her mother would worry about her looking pretty for the Prince even when she wore old dresses. She asks the ladies to leave half her hair down and braid the other half like Yoongi once said he liked.
He doesn't compliment her when he sees her. Instead, he nods at the man driving the carriage and enters without helping Jimin. She wonders if it's to make everyone believe he's upset to fit the lie or if he genuinely doesn't enjoy seeing her face anymore.
Maybe it's both.
Her servants don't join them, and the guards that accompany them don't enter the carriage. Jungkook isn't with Yoongi either. It's just Yoongi and Jimin inside.
"I asked for privacy under the pretense that we're solving marriage disagreements."
"What are we truly doing?"
“Visiting one of our properties,” it’s all he says.
Jimin keeps quiet and watches as the scenery changes outside of the window. Jimin has never visited the royal properties. She wonders if they’ll see the one where Yoongi took Jimin’s friends when he was interested in her.
She thinks of Yoongi, who had only seen Jimin a couple of times, asking other girls to join him for tea only to ask about her. It would be lovely if it’d be the same property.
But that’s wishful thinking.
Jimin believes it’s most likely she won’t return from this trip.
The property is in the countryside, and the trip is long, monotonous, and quiet. Jimin is resting when the carriage stops. She awakens and finds Yoongi stretching his hand to help her down the carriage.
Jimin blinks before taking his hand and letting him support her.
Jimin curls her fingers against his, and he gives her a firm squeeze. It’s the first time they’ve touched since that night, and Yoongi jerks his hand away as fast as he can when Jimin’s feet touch the ground. He ignores her after that.
At least the property distracts Jimin.
It’s a beautiful house with wooden walls, golden carvings, and high ceilings. Jimin follows Yoongi silently through the hallways until they enter a garden.
The lack of guards and the sound of winds hitting trees and insects make Jimin feel like she isn’t in danger.
A large garden pavilion stands in the way of the house and the woods behind it. Plants have grown, twisting around the columns, and the red roof matches Jimin's dress.
Jimin is confused because a man sits alone inside the pavilion. She notices Jungkook stands by his side.
Jungkook seems to say something, and then the man turns. Jimin stops walking when she sees Taehyung's smile, heart dropping. Taehyung stands up and runs to her, meeting her in the middle of the garden. Jimin hugs him tightly, arms around his neck as he lifts her effortlessly.
Jimin had forgotten how her laughter sounded now that it’s all she can hear. Jimin and Taehyung’s loud voices fill the empty garden. “You’re here,” Jimin exclaims.
“The scary vampire showed up at the market and brought me here. He said you wanted to see me.”
Taehyung cups her face and squints his eyes. "Something happened?" His expression changes suddenly as he remembers a Prince standing at his side. Taehyung bows. "Your Highness."
Yoongi gives an awkward nod, and Jimin steps closer to the vampire. "Your Highness," she repeats.
"You didn't say anything again," she murmurs. "I was so distressed in the carriage; you should have told me that Taehyung was here."
He frowns. "I didn't think you'd accept me as the bearer of good news. It wouldn't have made you as happy if it had come out of my mouth."
Jimin opens her mouth but can't bring herself to argue with him. He's right. She's still wary of Yoongi's actions. "You've brought him here to make me happy?"
Yoongi shakes his head. "You said you wanted to tell Taehyung everything you saw in the Cellar."
Jimin stares at him.
“You can take a walk. There are some guards in the gardens, but as long as you stay close to Jungkook, he’ll warn you if someone is overhearing.”
Jimin is confused. “Yoongi, what are you doing?”
Taehyung flinches at the lack of formalities between Jimin and the Prince.
"Excuse me, I think Jimin and I have to talk first," he tells Taehyung before turning around and walking into the garden.
Jimin follows behind him. "What's the meaning of this? What do you expect to happen with this?" She stops when she's close to him by a few inches.
"You'll tell him, he'll tell your opposition friends, they tell the townsfolk, and the people will decide what they want. That's what will happen."
"And why would you want that to happen if that could end you and your family?" Jimin asks. "Because it's what I want?"
"I've thought a lot about our last conversation," Yoongi says. "I never believed I was a monster for needing blood to live. But I considered myself one because of my scars and how I'm somehow both yet nothing. It relieved me when I realized you didn't see me as one."
"You never caught a glimpse of how I look under the bandages, but on the night of our wedding, you seemed confident that no matter what was under it, you wouldn't find it monstrous. Yet, I still managed to prove myself wrong and make myself monstrous to your eyes."
"I've also never thought of my family as monsters for drinking blood to live, but they were monsters for what they did to me. I've constantly battled against them and myself not to be like them." He clenches his jaw. "Being masculine while no one watches is one way of rebellion."
"They imposed that on me, and I wore it proudly to spite them. My parents didn't let me drink human blood because, according to them, I don't deserve it, and I wore that proudly too. Until you arrived and had me craving for something I had spent years saying I didn't need."
Their eyes meet, and his gaze is so empty. "Your arrival wasn't coincidental either. They told me several times not to marry you because you were untrustworthy. And I pressed and insisted, and I got to marry you with the condition that you wouldn't find out about the feeders."
"I accepted that condition because I wanted to marry someone they disapproved. I desired to choose my wife since I had chosen nothing else in my life. So it was another form of rebellion against my family. And you're right, I did think I was better than them."
"In my head, I was better for not letting them destroy me, for marrying someone that thinks differently from us, for not getting drunk on blood all the time, for rebelling in my own little ways. But you're also right that those little rebellions are useless and foolish."
"In the end, I'm like them. I also lie and hurt and force, and I keep their secrets because I don't dare to genuinely stand up against them." Yoongi smiles softly. "So I wish to have a last attempt to separate myself from them, and it's through helping you with what you want."
"With it, I don't desire redemption or your affection. But, I believe rebelling against my family with something bigger than me once will make me less miserable. I know you wish for me to be miserable, so perhaps you don't want help, but I'd be grateful if you'd allow me this."
Jimin stares at him as different feelings hit her. Many words fill her head, many things she could say, but in the end, she looks at the ground as her eyes water. "I wanted to marry you to enter the Palace and find a secret that would cause the townsfolk to shift against you."
"However, I wouldn't have married you if you hadn't made me feel safe. If you hadn't shared your story with me." Jimin frowns. "Perhaps, I should have been warier of you and the warmth I felt when I was around you, but I let you in, and I started to trust you and-"
Jimin doesn't say that she fell in love with him, but it's most likely he knows. "It wasn't my intention to let my guard down around you and to enjoy your company and words. I was the one who should have hurt you by the end of everything, not the opposite way."
"I think that's why it hurt even more. I had experienced something horrible, and while that was happening, you were with someone else, doing something you refused to do with me. Something that seemed so intimate. I was the one lying and making plans behind your back, not you."
"You were supposed to be good, passive, and a fool so I could get away with everything, including betraying and harming you," Jimin laughs dryly. Their eyes meet, and Yoongi's gaze is piercing. "That night, I was so overwhelmed, broken, and repulsed, I wanted to harm you."
"I wanted to hurt you even more than you had hurt me, more than I would have hurt you if everything had gone as I planned. I said more than one phrase I regret saying, and I did more than one action I regret doing."
"I regret everything I did that caused you pain," Yoongi says.
Jimin forces herself to look away from his face. "I regret hitting your chest. You don't like people touching you there, and they maltreated your body, and I hit you there on purpose to make it hurt even more, and that wasn't-" Jimin clenches her jaw. "That wasn't fair."
"And comparing you to those who have abused you wasn't fair either. That was unnecessarily cruel. I was always going to hurt you, but I didn't intend to be cruel until that night. Little rebellions are good too, Yoongi. They're not less great than big rebellions."
"It's disheartening to hear that my words that night made you think that. You've tried to stand up to your abusers in your own way, and I shouldn't have made you doubt that or lessen how important your rebellions are. They're different from mine but not less brave."
Jimin has no idea what Yoongi is feeling, but she hopes these words impact him as much as the ones from that night. "I apologize for my harmful words, and I forgive you for keeping secrets from me. But I don't do this as your wife or your lover. But rather a friend or companion."
"As a friend, I can comprehend that you didn't reject or find anything wrong with keeping humans hostage since that's what you've always known and what your family, your abusers, considers common. As a friend, I think you'll eventually understand why that's wrong."
"Because you're smart and kind and-" Jimin tries to hold back, so it's not evident how much she admires him. "You're also rebellious, in your own way, so you'll understand my stance. You must understand if you want me to accept your help."
"Yes," Yoongi whispers.
"As your wife," Jimin murmurs before staring at the ground. "Your lover." The word makes her chest tighten before she faces Yoongi again. "I can't forgive you." Yoongi's expression doesn't falter, but Jimin knows he's putting on a brave face. "I'm not ready to forgive you yet."
She wants him to remember the 'yet.' She hopes she holds onto it as much as she.
"As I said earlier, I don't aspire for redemption, affection, or forgiveness. You've come into my life and changed everything; as long as you don't go too far away, I will simply admire from afar."
Jimin is speechless, and Yoongi smiles gently. "Our first plan together didn't have failed results on the surface." Jimin holds her stomach, knowing they managed to trick the royals for some time. "It had failed consequences when we plotted against and without the other. "
Jimin wants to believe in him; she wants to trust him again. She doesn't want her heart to break one more time, but she can't pull away from Yoongi. "You're certain you want to do this with me?" Jimin asks.
"Yes," he assures her. He can't pull away from her either.
After so many dreary days, Yoongi glances at her lips again. It's different from the way he'd do it before, but it still reminds Jimin of their first days together.
And when Yoongi glances up and meets her eyes, and it's no longer empty anymore, it makes Jimin feel hopeful.
end of part one
please don't hate me
I need to plot the following 40k words now that they're starting again with no lies between them. I loved writing this as an attempt at something more plotty and my first wlw. I'm very thankful to everyone who gave it a chance and joined me through it!