Genre: Angst, Historical, Romance
Disclaimer: It’s a work of fiction. Coincidences happen.
Summary: Joseon was slowly losing her beauty. Yet people keep on watching her, they are cases that needs more attention, yet still neglected.
CLICK HERE FOR REFERENCE TO HONORIFIC TERMS
« Previous Chapter
"Thank you for taking care of me, and for allowing me to borrow your carriage."
"Don't mention it. Now, get back to your sister. I'm sure she misses her brother already."
"I'll be on my way now. I will always be indebted to you." Yunho bowed to Junsu one last time before heading back to his home.
"No need to thank us. Be safe on your way home." Junsu smiled at him and gave Yunho a bow as well, and waved him goodbye as the coachman drove the carriage away back to his house. Having no way of looking back or seeing through the coach, Yunho did not see the other pair of eyes looking out from a window, and also brows etched in both distaste and wonder. Jaejoong chose to stay in his room and focused on the laws about to be implemented within the kingdom instead of bidding Yunho a farewell.
Throughout Yunho's stay, Jaejoong was confused on the difference of how Yunho treated him and Junsu.
Once the south gates of the palace closed, Jaejoong walked back towards his quarters with Junsu humming on his side. Junsu opened his mouth to give a comment about Yunho, but found the Prince busy with his own thoughts.
Maybe, he's thinking about Yunho? Junsu thought.
Wanting to test his theory, Junsu stopped on his tracks, thinking Jaejoong would notice that he is walking back alone. He did not. Looking out to the palace gardens, Junsu thought it would be nice to stay at the gardens and get tea rather than accompanying his cousin back to his room.
Jaejoong continued to walk back to his room alone while his cousin observes him at his back.
Putting his book aside, Jaejoong stretched his back from sitting for hours, and found himself wondering about the boy he saved. He went outside and walked towards the palace gardens to talk to Changmin and the other civill guards about the gathering at the plaza next week. He has to put the security of the people at the top of his priorities, especially when members of the royal family will be present.
Or maybe Yunho will be around there as well.
Jaejoong shook his head and made his paces bigger as he hurried to the gardens. Since when did he paid so much attention or thinking to a particular person? He tried not to think him about, yet he found himself murmuring about how reserved and jumpy the other man was whenever he is around. Now that his former disarrayed thoughts about Yunho's actions yesterday formed into a coherent statement, Jaejoong concluded that it is disrespectful – and unfair – to not be given the same – or more – attention he was showing to Junsu. Sure, his cousin did mend Yunho's bruises and guarded him while Yunho rested.
I was busy taking reports from my men before visiting him back then.
Junsu also told his guards to let the boy use his carriage to get home, because it would cause a scene if he happened lend his carriage, the royal carriages that belong to the palace are hardly unnoticeable. He tried to initiate a conversation with him, but he was silent, unless Junsu asked him questions on how Jaejoong found him. Jaejoong can't remembered doing any ill action towards him; he saved the boy for heavens' sake! But, why did he ignore him?
That ungrateful kid! Jaejoong started to feel irritated towards Junsu for no reason. Or maybe because Yunho paid attention to his cousin while he–
He stopped bickering with himself and thought that he was starting to lose his mind.
“I am losing my mind.” he caught himself whispering and he suddenly checked the hallway if there was anyone who might have heard him. Gods know that if the helpers around heard him they might think their Lord has gone crazy. Thank Heavens his sister was not around to see him talking to himself. If Sunye noonim was here, Jaejoong might not like what the result would be. And that would mean endless teasing from her.
"Thank you. You may leave." Junsu bowed towards the maids as they exited his room after placing a pot of flowerous plant he received as a gift from his friend. Whenever he visited to other kingdoms outside their country to pay homage in behalf of the his family, Yoochun observes the local flora and sends one back for the Goryeo kingdom, and another one for Junsu. He was in Japan for some lessons about their royal flower arrangements.
He may not be linked to any of the royal famly members, but the Park household is a noble family, one that has served the royal family for generations, providing the best paintings in the kingdom, and responsible for all flower arrangements in the palace, at all occasions. About to end his thank-you letter for his friend , Junsu dropped the quill in shock because of the loudness and the abrupt slide of his door.
"Ya! That was rude, hyung!" Junsu looked at his letter, which almost done, only to find ink blotches obstructing his name in the letter. Junsu sighed in defeat, and took another parchment to rewrite the whole letter. Not wanting to turn his mood sour, he took the stained letter and rewrote his words on the new one.
"Seriously, what has gotten into you?" Junsu looked up from his letter and saw Jaejoong staring into the new plant in his room.
"Why do you get more attention than I do?" Jaejoong went near to it and took a flower off and observed in his hand.
"Ah, why did you remove it?!" Junsu stared at him in horror, and felt helpless as his new plant suffered his cousin's irrational behavior.
"Because I want to smell it." Jaejoong put the flower near to his nose, and sneezed as he inhaled the scent of it. The flower must have contained a number of pollens in it. Junsu felt victory as the flower got its revenge.
Jaejoong puts the flower on the windowsill, dismayed that it did not smell as nice as he expected and returned to his room.
Jaejoong sat on a rock as he watched the sun waved goodbye and continued to give light for travelers and passersby while the moon awaits o be welcomed. He took his time to admire the beauty of nature, of simplicity, of life. Taking a duty up the mountains gave him time to wander about his dreams. The life he wanted looked like a child's dream. Children tend to see the beauty in everything. They easily appreciate, and make everything look nice in their eyes. Even the ugliest cat wandering on the streets would look cute and cuddly for them.
He hoped that life could be as simple as that.
Seeing that there's no way for it to happen, he just faced the harsh reality with knowledge that he has a responsibility, a task as a citizen and as a military official (might as well include the responsibility his uncle has been offering to him.)
But that's not all to. Problems were constantly (if not, slowly) increasing around and not everyone have had solutions about them. There were people who face poverty, hunger and other economic problems. People who can't afford shelter because of war, of debt. People who think that the only way to eat is to cheat on the vendor. People who run away from other people who chase them for debt, or maybe other reasons.
People like Yunho.
He remembered the young man and his mind went about him. Again. He recalled the time when he saw Yunho and his cousin were having a pleasant conversation. While he, the man who brought him to his home, the palace rather, after asking for his help was not even thanked for his good deed.
For instance, Jaejoong was ignored when he tried to give him a towel after Yunho spillied some soup. "Don't worry, it's fine." he said but Jaejoong knew the other man was brushing him off. It seemed that Yunho was not really comfortable having him around at all instances.
Is it because his body was so bulky that he looks like a goon? ("I don't think so, hyung. You have a nice built, but not that looks so intimidating and scary.” Junsu joked but Jaejoong was unsatisfied with his answer.) Is it because of the social status he has? Is it because of his job?
Jaejoong did not know.
But thank heavens Yunho talked to Junsu about his personal life. Now, the military leader knew that Yunho sometimes sneaked food from vendors (but for good reasons) and they were living with a family friend who was kind enough to let them stay, already for two months.
Oh, and his sister’s playmates, Jungseok and Ahrin. From the way Yunho talked about them, they sound like lovely children. But the only child Jaejoong knew personally is Jiyool. The crowned prince’s daughter who always locks herself in her bed room along with three servants, who play with the young lady whenever she feels ignored when her father has his ‘girls’ with him. Jaejoong frowned to the difference of his perspective of how different a child’s world is to normal children.
Needing some rest from watching up the mountains, Jaejoong tried to take a sleep as soon as he could, since he planned to visit Yunho at his village.
That is, if Yunho would want to see him.
Days after their encounter, Yunho thought all of the things he must do to avoid his 'savior' as much as possible. Off all officials, the police and military force are his least favorite. He loathed them ever since his father died.
Not one of them took heed and offered them help, even the drunk palace guards who saw him begging for them to attend to his father, but all they did was laughed at him. His father, who was a South faction official.
Those uncaring people who took away their means of living, his happy childhood, his entire life. And all they brought to him was but misery. He would never forget those people. He might not even remember their faces, but Yunho knew so well what type of people they are. Arrogant bastards.
Jaejoong. Kim Jaejoong is also an arrogant bastard.
“I'll be on my way now.” Jinhee waved to her two boys and their playmate and went on her way the palace.
“Be safe, and come back home, umma!” the younger son, Jungseok waved back to his mother.
“Bye-bye, curly ahjumma!” Jinhee turned around to that voice, waving a small goodbye to Jihye. When Jinhee is out of the kids’ sight, they stopped waving.
“Yah, Jihye, I told you not to call our mother ‘curly ahjumma’ again.” Ahrin scold his playmate.
“But her hair is really curly and they are beautiful curls!” Jihye explained.
“Hyung, don’t mind her,” Jungseok giggled, “maybe she just like umma’s beautiful curly hair, right?” the younger child reasoned out to his brother. Jihye nodded to avoid more scolding. She grabbed both playmates’ hands and run back to the house to play ‘warriors and ninjas’ this time. Maybe I should tell her to call umma ‘pretty ahjumma.’ Ahrin thought while Jihye told them that they’ll be acting as bandits and Jungseok will be the clumsy police officer, which the other child agreed.
As a palace cook, Jinhee helped the main cook in preparing the dishes to be served for the sick crowned princess and her daughter this lunch. The fish was already out of the steamer, the vegetables are already cooked and out of the casserole. She already placed the side dishes on the tray along with the main course, but she needs some rosemary for the chicken that Jiyool love to eat when it was summer season.
“Ahjumma, do you need my help today?” Jinhee turned around to see Yunho standing at the kitchen doorway.
“Oh, Yunho-ah, you arrived just on time. Are you sure you are not busy now?” Jinhee placed the kimchi stew on the bowls and covered with the lids. Yunho nodded to the ahjumma, and bowed his greetings to the other palace cooks in the kitchen.
“Can you please get me some rosemary at the garden at the back? You can ask Junghun where to find them.” Yunho nodded and smile to the ahjumma, while she handed out the tray for the crowned princess to the palace maids. She’ll just go wait for the rosemary from Yunho so she can hand Jiyool’s tray as well.
Whenever he is free from chores - or fights and chases at the streets - Yunho goes to the palace kitchens and helped out Jinhee to pay for her hospitality. The palace functionaries related to Jinhee’s work almost know him, and even some of the palace guards that he tried to mostly avoid. He was once offered a job as a helper or a gardener by the chief of the household (the wangdaebi-mama herself) before she died two seasons ago, (bless her kind soul, Yunho prayed) and the job offer was now forgotten. Arriving in the kitchen garden, he saw a man crouching beside the cherry tomatoes and plucked the ripe ones to be used as ingredients soon.
“Junghun-hyungnim!” When Yunho mentioned his name, the gardener looked to the owner of the voice and stand back to bow at him.
“How can I help you today, Yunho-sshi?” the gardener smiled at him and Yunho asked where to find the rosemary bush.
“They are planted after six rows of lettuces. You can cut them with some pair of scissors.” Junghun pointed the direction and handed him the tool.
“Thank you, Junghun-hyungnim.” Yunho bowed to him and Junghun bowed back, going back to his duties.
When Yunho handed the rosemary to Jinhee, he bid goodbye to the ahjumma and the other cooks as he told that he'll go buy some dinner for him and his younger sister. He almost reached the gates when someone called him.
“Yunho-sshi!” He turned around and saw the police officer bowed at him. Yunho bowed back as a sign of respect and turned to leave once more.
Jaejoong closed the door to his quarters and decided to take an afternoon walk at the palace gardens before doing his duty. Sort of calming his mind. It’s been a week since this Yunho has been bugging his conscience. He doesn’t know why the simple act of not minding him (“no, he really did ignore me” Jaejoong fought with himself) affected him so much. Shaking his head to erase his thoughts of the man once more, he saw a familiar figure walking to the palace barriers. Those tattered ends of the unusual sleeves and the short hair the other man sport, Jaejoong can guess who he is.
“Yunho-sshi!” Jaejoong didn't miss when the said man flinched when he called his name. He probably recognized my voice. Jaejoong bowed to him and was about to walk towards the man when Yunho decided that it’s good to walk away from him.
Next Chapter »
Originally posted 2014