Pairing/ Characters: Yunjae
Form: Chaptered ( 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 )
Genre: AU, Fairy tale, Fantasy
Summary: Prince Jaejoong has a frozen heart from a curse when he was young, and Prince Yunho itches to explore beyond his kingdom.
Also known as the one where Jaejoong has fairies or the one where Yunho has a talking horse.
There was once a king and a queen who had eight daughters.
But as much as they loved the fair princesses, the royal couple wished deeply for an heir to their throne. As the king started to age, the kingdom's fairies decided to bless them with a child, for their reign had been just, and the kingdom had never seen a better ruler.
When the crown prince was born, the sun shone brightly in the sky, as the chroniclers scrambled hurriedly for their history books.
The streets burst forth with music and a sumptuous feast was thrown for every citizen while the dukes and duchesses of the kingdom were invited to partake in a royal banquet. The country was never merrier.
"Jaejoong shall be the name of our beloved son," the queen proclaimed teary-eyed as she leaned over the golden cot, tracing the soft cheeks of her last-born.
Nodding in approval, the fairies stepped up to christen the sleeping infant with their gifts.
"Jaejoong shall possess unrivalled beauty," a wave of her wand, and lilac glitter burst forth, showering the child.
"He shall have the bravery of a lion," the indigo fairy proclaimed.
"Wits of a fox," the scarlet fairy offered with a swish.
"A voice of the clear bells," the plump turquoise fairy followed.
"And a skill of swordsmanship to take him far," the vermilion fairy finished with swirl of light that circled from the ornately carved cot as the spectators clapped loudly in assent, sure of the kingdom's prosperous future.
Mountains away, in a dark cave reeking of mildew and rotting flesh sat a bitter, exiled man of royal blood, as he seethed in anger.
For even the spring had gurgled, spilling over its banks with uncontained joy while the birds twittered noisily with plans to visit the palace to peer at the young prince.
Stories were shared of the pink blush nestled amongst the silken sheets, the news of prince Jaejoong's birth reaching every corner of the kingdom. The man's bitterness swelled tenfold as his blood boiled in spite at the happiness around him.
Concentrating his dark magic, a voice, rough from the lack of use boomed in the dark. "The filthy spawn shall have a heart of ice comparable to his beauty, and-" his eyes drew back hideously in their sockets as the foul words strangled his throat.
As the last lingering breath escaped his lungs with gasping shudder, the man then fell onto the cold floor with a heavy thump.
Back at the castle, everyone was too busy in their merrymaking, too busy toasting each other joyously to notice the flash of black light above the cherub.
- - - - -
Nineteen years passed, and the king's beard had turned a fair white.
While he loved his children equally, he couldn't help but worry especially for his last-born.
Never had the land seen a better archer or a finer swordsman, and while it pleased him greatly, the king was concerned that his son Jaejoong had never once displayed fear with his inability to express emotions.
The misery he had felt after the fairies' diagnosis years ago that his son had his heart frozen by dark magic had never quite dissipated.
With five of his daughters agreeably married to princes of foreign kingdoms and his son of marriageable age, he decided to take his son's happiness to his hand, sending a proclamation throughout his land and far beyond that every fair applicant was invited to the royal ball to put their utmost in moving the crown prince. The king, hoping to thaw his offspring's heart, promised his son's hand in marriage upon success.
Balls were thrown for commoners, nobles and foreign royals, but prince Jaejoong steadfastly kept both feet planted as he swept every hopeful applicant’s off the marbled dance floor easily, petticoats, breeches and all.
The king had never been more dismal in his entire life.
- - -
In a neighbouring country of rolling mountains where eternal fair weather reigned while lush forests thrived, there was a crown prince itching for an adventure beyond his kingdom.
While the king could not bear to part with his dear son Yunho, the ruler was unable to deny the request for the boy had never once been insolent, nor vocal about his particular wants before. Begrudgingly, the man gave in reluctantly after entrusting Yunho the duty of reinforcing its relationships with and forging new relationships with its neighbouring kingdoms.
Before the young boy left the palace gates with nothing but a dagger, a sword, a flute, a map, a set of clothes and an official letter bearing the royal coats of arms, the king beseeched the wanderer to take his horse- "For the horse is no common mare. Consult Prometheus and he will not fail you."
The prince hesitated to accept the offering, but seeing how much his father had aged since his impudence, he swung himself on easily. Bidding his father goodbye with a light kiss, he promised return safely when his wanderlust wore off.
Nodding sadly as his beloved son rode into the capital, the king watched his son turn into a fine grain in the distance.
The afternoon sun was fiery as prince Yunho continued undeterred, reading his map carefully as the unfamiliar horse trotted on easily. Prometheus was his father's prized possession, taken care of by the king himself, and as Yunho rode into the unknown, his mind was consumed by thoughts of his father's concern instead of paying attention to his surroundings.
"I don't even know where I'm going," the prince mumbled, worrying about his ability to provide fine food, warmth, or even basic security for the prized stallion.
"I apologize that father has forced you along for my wanders," he murmured guiltily as he rubbed the smooth hide of the beast.
"Oh, your father didn't think you knew where you were going either." The horse replied easily. "That's why I'm here."
Yunho startled as he nearly fell off his saddle- because heavens! The horse had just spoken!
"I have been right to tell the king that the prince was not ready for the crown." Prometheus continued airily as he trotted along while the boy sputtered at the revelation. "Your father told you to consult me when he left you in my care. You have to notice the details, my prince. For they tell a story."
The prince was stunned speechless. Whoever had heard of a talking beast, much less one that spoke so evenly in condescension of manipulation! And had he truly left under the care of a horse by his father?
"Horse got your tongue, my prince?" The horse teased as he strayed from the beaten path.
"Where are you going?" Yunho sputtered in shock as he tightened the reins immediately.
"Following the sound of the spring, my prince. You should be thirsty," the beast replied simply, as Yunho flushed, belatedly realising how parched his throat was. Well, maybe Prometheus was something good after all. Maybe.
The young prince held the map before the stallion as he pointed to the kingdom he was planning to visit. He couldn't help but feel a little nervous when Prometheus made a disapproving noise before brushing his nose to the land beyond.
"That is where we should be headed to."
Flipping the map around, Yunho stared at the mountainous ridge to the horse's destination, wanting to ask why. "How do we scale the land?" He asked instead, acutely aware of his words before the intelligent creature.
"That's for me to worry, my prince. For you, it's about looking good for our first destination." Yunho opened his mouth to protest before nodding helplessly to himself. He knew that he could never possibly win, so he simply gave up, deciding to trust the stallion.
With a last sip of water and a bag full of wild fruits, the motley crew continued on their journey.
- - -
A banquet was thrown in his honour, and prince Yunho sat beside the neighbouring king while the man proceeded to talk his ears off about the endless merits of his eldest daughter. Laughing politely at the right moments, the prince cast a side glance at the fair princess in curiosity. Cladded in fine silk, she looked that of a picture, with a modest tiara sat atop her flaxen hair.
He couldn't help but think that his sister would very much like a crown like that too.
As he appraised the dresses of the other princesses, Yunho couldn't help but shift nervously at the stark contrast of his own attire. While he had washed up properly after a two nights spent in the wilderness, the change that he had packed was ill-suited for current company.
Catching the eye of the fair maiden, he gave a small, tentative smile as he watched the princess blush a fine scarlet. Too soft, he shook his head in disapproval. He wanted an intelligent companion that would banter and advise him like an equal, rather than a subordinate like the delicate girls he oft met, reminding him of butterflies he daren't lay a finger on.
Switching topics easily, he discussed the ways of governance with the king.
- - -
It was a little after dinner when the princess led Yunho back to his room.
Concerned about his father's treasured horse, the prince queried about the location of the stables, to a gentle reply that his ride was seen to.
Dissatisfied, he insisted on checking up on his horse. After all, the horse had been under the care of his father, the king for an amount of years that he couldn't even remember.
"Do you doubt our servants, your highness? Changmin is more than competent! Well in fact-" The princess snapped when he pressed the fourth time, breaking off as she ducked her head in shame at her outburst as Yunho gaped at her.
The prince's face crept into a fine smirk. Proper ladies did not learn the names of servants, much less that of the stable boy's. "Say, the night's still young and we both have plans. Why don't we strike a deal, your highness? I could help you out tonight," he offered with a charming smile as the princess looked away with flushed cheeks.
- - -
"I snuck an apple for you," Yunho whispered conspiratorially as he smoothed Prometheus's sinewy skin, nodding in approval at the work of the stable boy.
"You're a prince, my boy. Yet you steal apples like a beggar." Prometheus rebuked softly (horses were capable of whispering?) before gobbling the polished fruit anyway. "Are we leaving tomorrow?"
Yunho smirked boyishly at his companion. "Anxious, aren't we? Has the stable boy been treating you poorly?"
The horse only flicked his tail haughtily with a condescending huff. "You'll need more time in the other kingdom, young boy."
The prince sighed at the vague reply. Prometheus had tirelessly repeated the importance of the kingdom beyond without offering any explanation, and the mystery was getting on his nerves. Nodding dismissively, he stuck his head out of the stable with the hopeful intention to catch a glimpse of the couple.
"You're particularly nosy for a prince." Prometheus interjected with the same annoyingly haughty air that Yunho had learnt to dismiss. Magical horses evidently had too much attitude.
Deciding to give the horse more fodder for complains, the prince stuck a childish, defiant tongue out. "You don't know how interesting it is," he waved the other off with a distracted hand as he moved towards the row of windows instead.
Prometheus snorted as he trotted to the water coolly.
"The stable boy has the hands of a person in love," he commented simply before bowing to drink.
The prince's ears pricked as he slammed the windows shut, jumping off the height of crates smoothly. "Why, you do know a thing or two! What about me?" He waved his hands under his companion's nose when the stallion refused to even spare him a glance.
"Your hands are rough. That of a boy itching for a fight, twined with the practicality of a warrior."
"That's very good!" The young prince decided proudly as he appraised his hands with a wide smile. He had best every knight in the kingdom when he was fourteen and was glad that Prometheus acknowledged his skill.
"Well then, in exchange for your splendid compliment, we'll leave right after breakfast!" He proclaimed with a flourish as he pat the other with his shining warrior hands.
Prometheus only flicked his tail before trotting away with what sounded suspiciously like a snort.
- - - - -
A/N: Ehm, this was written really long ago, right after 24HL, where I decided
Six chapters will be the longest that I've posted, and er, I hope it wasn't too cliche, Mistakes mine so shoot them at me.