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Title: Lotus Roots - Chapter 4
Rating: NC-17
Pairing: YunJae
Length: Chaptered
Summary: It's the twenty-first century and the royal family is an extension of a democratically elected government but that does not mean the Crown Prince can marry whomever he chooses. In a world with a rapidly changing social landscape Jung Yunho's marriage is used as an instrument to force social reform and Kim Jaejoong finds out that for someone like him, a rise in status comes great danger and intrigue.

Previous - Prologue - 1 - 2 - 3

-

Changmin could see why Yunho had chosen Jaejoong. The other boy was pretty, if you liked that sort of thing, which Changmin did not. But apparently Yunho did. Jaejoong didn’t quite look like a girl. Changmin would never have mistaken him for anything other than a man if he had passed him on the street as a stranger, just a very pretty sort of delicate looking man.

Yunho liked delicate things. Ara was proof enough of that. So Changmin supposed that if Yunho like boys, and apparently he did even if Yunho had never said it outright, then Kim Jaejoong would be Yunho’s type. Jaejoong was exactly Yunho’s type if he believed Jihoon but Changmin wasn’t sure he did.

He couldn’t imagine Yunho assaulting anyone, whether he was intoxicated or not. Yunho was very in control of himself. He was always polite, even in the face of people who clearly disdained him. He was always kind and generous. He would probably turn the royal palace into an orphanage and donate all the family’s assets to charity if he could. He was difficult anger, although when he did get angry it tended to be explosive.

He was never violent.

But even though Jihoon lied a lot, he rarely lied about family, and never about Yunho, and never to their grandmother. So while Changmin didn’t want to believe Jihoon, logic argued that what his cousin had told them must be true, at least in part.

There was of course a way to determine if Jihoon was being truthful but Changmin couldn’t exactly walk up to a person he had never met before and ask him to take of his shirt. Well, he could, and would probably have done it to one of his friends, but he couldn’t do it to a complete stranger and in front of said stranger’s parents. He would need to wait until his grandmother could confirm it, something she would do that night.

Then Changmin would decide whether or not to comply with Yunho’s second request, to take care of Jaejoong until Yunho could come home. He had flat out refused when Yunho had asked. What business was it of his to look after some random omega just because Yunho wasn’t there?

None.

But things would be different if Yunho had actually claimed, or sort of claimed, Jaejoong. That would make Jaejoong family, or something very close to family. Changmin wouldn’t leave the other boy to fend for himself in those circumstances, not with enemies lurking in every corner.

If Jaejoong was marked then Changmin would not only take care of Jaejoong, he would take care of Yunho too. His hyung must be in serious denial, serious enough to go out and get a girlfriend after he had already claimed someone else.

And what was Changmin supposed to do about Ara? Avoid her? He wouldn’t lie to her, she was his friend. But he couldn’t tell her the truth either.

Yunho would have to do that. Yunho had put him in a very bad place. Changmin would make sure he would pay for it.

-

Screw up. Failure. Good for nothing. Jihoon had heard it all.

He could admit that some of it was deserved but it hurt to hear such things from his own family. Shouldn’t they, more than the gossipers or tabloids, be able to understand him? Be able to accept him and his principles even though he didn’t always agree with them?

Obviously not.

His aunts and uncles couldn’t stand him. His cousins barely tolerated him. His own parents merely sighed and shook their heads at him.

All because he disagreed with them over one small matter. One little insignificant thing that should have become a non-issue decades ago. They though he was a radical and rebellious and he thought they were ignorant bigots.

But look at them all now. Jihoon would smile gleefully when they were all forced to eat their own words.

His grandmother tried, he knew she did, but even she grew tired of him at times. He could excuse the behavior in his grandmother. She was old and somewhat set in her ways. But even with that she was probably still the most ‘liberal’ member of his family. There was no excuse for the rest of them.

The only person Jihoon actually liked in his family was Yunho and he hadn’t always. His cousin had had a rather rude awakening five years ago. It had brought the two of them much closer. And while on some levels Jihoon considered Yunho’s behavior since then deplorable, he understood that Yunho was confused.

But five years was really too long to stay confused.

Jihoon had been somewhat shocked when his their grandmother had asked him about Yunho and Jaejoong but not terribly so. The woman had spies in the house of every noble in the country, even the ones who weren't important. It was obvious she had heard something about Jaejoong's situation even though almost no one else had and she didn't know all the details.

So Jihoon had filled them in for her. He could have done without Changmin being there though.

Yunho would probably hate him at first. No. Yunho didn't really hate anyone, but he would be angry. Jihoon was prepared to deal with that. He would weather Yunho's rage as long as he needed to because he truly believed his cousin would not be happy with anyone but Jaejoong.

Ara was sweet. Jihoon had nothing against her. He liked her. But she wasn't right for Yunho.

No matter that Yunho had spent the last three years trying to convince himself and Jihoon that she was. Jihoon wasn't buying it. Yunho was always very careful with her.

Too careful.

And Yunho might convince himself that he was attracted to her but he would never be as attracted to her as he was to Jaejoong.

So Jihoon had gladly told their grandmother exactly what had happened between Yunho and Jaejoong that night and what Yunho had been doing for the last five years.

She had been disappointed. Whether it was disappointment in Yunho's actions at the party that night or in his actions during the time since (his complete failure to take any real responsibility), or both, Jihoon didn't know. But he did know that their grandmother wouldn't allow Yunho to get away with it anymore. She wouldn't have allowed him to get away with it even if she hadn't been planning to marry Yunho off.

Jihoon would have have told her eventually, maybe after giving Yunho another year to straighten himself out, and Yunho would be marrying Kim Jaejoong either way.

Their grandmother had had a soul mate bond herself. She knew what it meant. She wouldn't let Yunho ignore his.

All Jihoon had done was made sure their grandmother wouldn't go through the unnecessary process of evaluating the other candidates. She could come out of tonight's meeting hating Jaejoong thoroughly and she would still accept him.

So when Jaejoong arrived at the palace with his parents for his formal meeting the Queen Dowager and the Queen Consort Jihoon had bowed to him. It was perhaps improper considering that Jihoon was a prince and Jaejoong was the son of a noble of the great importance, but Jihoon wasn't exactly known for his strict adherence to protocol. And after all, one day soon Jaejoong would be a prince himself, consort to the Royal Prince Successor, and the bow would be expected. Jihoon was just starting early.

He was sure Jaejoong would have a very rude awakening when he moved into the palace. He should know he wouldn’t be without allies.

-

“I will speak with Jaejoong alone,” the Queen Dowager said.

Jaejoong nearly smiled in relief at the words. He loved his parents but they were trying their best to ruin his life, in the most subtle way possible of course. There were only so many ways to say no to the Queen Dowager without outright refusing her.

In any other situation Jaejoong would be grateful for their protection be he neither wanted nor needed it here. He understood that they didn't want him to marry the son of a man who had all but declared his support for eradicating people like Jaejoong but they didn't need to be worried. Yunho would keep him safe. Jaejoong knew he would.

-

Queen Dowager Sookyung could admit that she quite like Kim Jaejoong. He was intelligent, graceful, determined and very beautiful. Sookyung would not find it a hardship to welcome the boy into her family.

If he had the mark.

“Remove your shirt,” she ordered.

“Yes, daebi mama.” Jaejoong complied without nervousness or hesitation. Good. Shyness of any kind would not serve him well. It would have been something he would be mocked and ridiculed for it, a weakness to be exploited.

“Come here,” she said.

Jaejoong moved closer to her seat. He turned around so his back faced her and knelt on the floor.

Sookyung stared at the mark on his back. Seeing it was a surprise even though she had been expecting it. She hadn't really believed it was there until it was in front of her.

Sookyung raised one wrinkled hand to Jaejoong's shoulder to hold him still as she leaned her face in towards his back. She inhaled deeply once. Twice. Three times.

Yes. That was her grandson's scent.

She lifted her head and gently pulled on Jaejoong's shoulder, indicating that he should turn around. When he was facing her she cupped his cheeks in her palms and pressed a light kiss to his forehead.

Yes. She could accept Kim Jaejoong into her family.

After she did something about the boy's rashness. Forwardness and pro activeness were one thing. Rashness was another. She would have no more of that in her family. The men in her life had caused quite enough trouble already.

-

A/N: This chapter was actually finished three days ago but I was distracted away from typing it in my attempt to watch all the Infinite videos on the internet (<3 Woohyun). It's shorter than usual because I cut some of it out. Maybe after the fic is done I will post the deleted scenes or have a prompt me free for all for all the stuff that happens behind the scenes.

A/N 2: You guys have asked about sidepairings. I've had inquires about JaeMin, JaeChun, MinChun, and YooSu in whatever permutation you would like. I will say this: I'm not a huge fan of love triangles (*hint*Ara*hint*) and there will be no JaeChun. They are merely bestest best friends.

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