Chapter Twenty three- Resolved feelings
“Huh?!” Tae Jun asked Da Yeong. He had expected her to apologize again, but instead, this person…
“What did you say?”
“I- I want Daegun to c- continue with my training…” She repeated, the last words gradually reducing in volume.
Tae Jun slammed the book he was holding down on the table, and she flinched again.
Outside, Ju Won was about to rush in, but an arrow whizzed right in front of him, lodging in the wooden door frame where they had been listening.
He turned around angrily to see So Yeon with a bow, placing another arrow.
He was glaring at Ju Won.
“Sorry sorry. I was practicing and the arrow went the wrong way.” He said.
“Your expression does not match your words! And why would you be practicing in a place like this?!”
“Ah! Is that so…?” So Yeon stared at him in challenge.
At first he had always stopped Ju Won, because he really did not know what his young master would do to him.
Now, he was stopping Ju Won because he was seeing a new side to the Prince.
He had always been too calm, controlled and cold.
Angry, yes, but never flaring up at anything.
But since he had met Lady Kim, So Yeon had glimpsed a warmer side.
The Prince had become more ‘human’, and had even openly shown his temper recently.
Also, it did not seem like losing his mother’s ornamental scroll was an extremely big deal, which would have been the case usually.
He felt Lady Kim was good for the Prince.
Inside, Tae Jun scoffed. So Yeon was at it again. He looked at Da Yeong.
“What even gives you the courage to ask such an impossible thing?” He picked his fan, skillfully spreading it and fanning himself lightly.
Da Yeong cleared her throat again. ‘Courage!’ She thought to herself.
“A- as a student of Daegun, it was shameful getting stabbed so easily… I don’t want Daegun’s first student to be a disappointment!” She finished, with a graceful bow.
He stared at the top of her head, which was facing him, then silently laughed. He straightened his face quickly when she glanced up.
“Ahem. Shouldn’t you be worried about what people will think if I am training my own wife with the sword?” He asked.
She hastily looked back down.
She had not thought about that.
“Er- tha- that is…”
“Don’t tell me you yourself forgot that you are a woman.”
He closed the fan with a snap.
“Raise your head.” He said, and when she did, he leaned toward her.
“Forget completely about things like training.” He punctuated each word by tapping her head lightly with the tip of the fan.
Then he glanced over her.
“Also. Should you not change the way you are dressed? Jeonha’s birthday is in a few days, and your father says you are to attend.
“Are you going to show up in a yungbok?”
With everything that had been happening, Tae Jun himself had forgotten his father’s birthday approached, but he had remembered a few days ago and had received the official invitation the day before.
For years, he had made a point of avoiding the event, sending his gifts instead, but now that he was to move back into the Palace, he could not even dare!
Lord Kim had also sent a message, saying he would come for Da Yeong on that morning, since the event was at night.
“Tsk tsk tsk!” He clucked his tongue, then got up, using his fan to sweep his robes out of the way and headed past her toward the door.
Again her voice stopped him.
“Hyeo- Hyeong-nim!” Da Yeong was not sure where she got the courage to call him that, but she stuck with it.
She turned to face him.
“Hyeong-nim do- does not like me as a woman, that’s why I want to remain li- like this and continue training with Hyeong-nim…”
She allowed the words drift off, bowing her head to hide her face, which was turning a few shades of red.
What an extremely shameless thing to say…
Near the door, Tae Jun sighed. “Aigoo…”
He did not like her as a woman?
Did she not know why he had been so angry?
He spun around suddenly, and stomped back to her.
He bent down and grabbed her hand, ignoring her surprised look, and pulled her up.
His left hand went around her waist, tugging her to him, and his right hand went behind her head.
Her eyes widened as he leaned down and his lips met hers.
Da Yeong felt her heart race.
She did not know when she had shut her eyes, but she suddenly had no sense of time or place.
She felt like she was floating in unknown depths of blinding beauty.
She felt fire move through her veins, searing her senses till she was completely lightheaded…
She wanted it to go on forever, but…
Tae Jun released her suddenly, and she fell to the floor at once.
He stepped back and wobbled slightly, but he composed himself immediately.
“I never said I hated you as a woman.” He said seriously, then smirked at her dazed expression.
“I suggest you wait to go out when you are less dizzy. Ahem!”
He slid the doors open and went out, shutting them behind him.
He ignored So Yeon and Ju Won, striding past them.
Naturally, So Yeon followed him after a short pause.
Da Yeong stared at the closed doors for a full minute, the kiss playing over in her mind without pause.
“Omo!” She exclaimed finally, her hands flying to her cheeks, then to her lips.
Dazed, she got shakily to her feet.
Her reeling senses were currently casting out all her previous imaginations of what a kiss felt like…
They could not even compare!
Ju Won found Da Yeong sitting beneath a big shade tree, which overlooked the Prince’s small but efficient training grounds.
Truthfully, the grounds were far from small, but after growing up in Lord Kim’s vast training grounds, others paled in comparison.
He approached and sat quietly beside her.
Earlier, she had come out of the Prince’s chambers, seen Ju Won, turned a deep shade of red and run off.
“Are you alright?” He asked, and she nodded, not looking at him.
“Daegun did not hurt you in anyway, right?” She shook her head immediately, still not looking at him.
He suspected what had happened in the Prince’s room, but he had not been sure.
Still, after seeing her face, heartbreak had followed at once.
Her expression had been too transparent.
‘She loves the Prince.’ He had thought immediately.
It was an expression he had always wished would be directed at him.
He hadn’t followed her immediately, but had gone to be alone for a while.
He had made a few decisions, before coming to find her.
“Da Yeong-ah. Call me ‘Orabeoni’ from now on.” He said after a while.
“Ye? But Hyeong-ni-.”
“It makes sense, now that Daegun knows you are a woman.”
Da Yeong scrunched up her face in determination.
She finally turned to face him, then blurted out in a rush.
“Mianhae, Hyeong-nim! I can’t accept your heart!” She bowed her head, but he gently lifted her chin after a few seconds.
She was surprised to see he was smiling.
He looked away, facing forward.
She looked forward as well.
“Aigoo! My dongsaeng is cruel… Calling me ‘Hyeong’ on one hand and stabbing me with the other.”
“I know. I knew your answer even before I came here.” She turned to face him in surprise.
“Tsk! You are always too easy to read. That is why I have decided to just be your big brother.”
“Stop looking at me with that face.” He said, poking her forehead. “Besides, if you are going to change how you address that over-confident jerk-.”
“Hyeong-nim!” She shushed at him, hastily looking around, and he sighed.
“I understand I understand.” He said waving her away. “If you are going to change how you address Daegun, then call me ‘Orabeoni’ from now on.”
She only hesitated an instant.
“Understood, O-ra-beo-ni.” She stressed, and they both laughed in easy companionship.
Ju Won knew he might be heartbroken for a long time, but again, he would never show that to Da Yeong…
That night, Tae Jun tossed about on his bed.
He had been trying to sleep, but sleep seemed like a very distant possibility.
He turned away from the wall and faced the door, but again, the memories came flooding back.
He sat up and grabbed his fan, fanning himself.
“Aish!” He exclaimed aloud.
He did not know what had made him kiss Da Yeong, but that moment had kept repeating itself in his mind over and over again.
Everything had felt so right, and he had felt like he was drowning in her.
He was familiar with lust, but this was on another level.
If he had not stopped himself then…
He heard the sound of a bow releasing an arrow, then he heard the thud as the arrow hit something.
He was about to get up, thinking it might be an intruder, but the sounds came again and again, almost rhythmic.
It was too relaxed to be an attack. Getting up, he grabbed a black cloak and went out into the night.
Da Yeong strung yet another arrow, aimed, and missed yet again.
She had been here for a while, but for the first time in years, she had not succeeded in hitting the target.
She let the arrow fly and it missed again.
She knew why she kept missing.
Her heart was still not at rest, even though hours had passed since that… Kiss.
She sighed at the memory again, hanging her head.
Her mind seemed to be playing a ‘sighing’ game with her. She could swear it went:
‘Da Yeong-ah! A few seconds have passed. Sigh again!’ She sighed again, raising the bow and a new arrow, then nearly jumped out of her skin when she felt arms engulfing her.
She gasped in surprise as her heart sped up.
She did not have to turn to know who it was.
Warm fingers crawled over her own, leaving a tingling sensation in their wake.
He held her hand firm over the bow and arrow.
She aimed and shot the arrow.
It hit the target dead center.
He released her hands and she lowered the bow, turning around to face him.
“Couldn’t sleep?” He asked her.
“Ye.” She said bowing slightly. “Then, Daegun too…?”
“Says who? Tsk! I was sleeping soundly!” He stepped down from the raised dais she had been standing on, and sat on the bottom step. She rushed over and joined him, leaving some space between them.
“But Daegun does not seem like he has slept at all.” She quietly observed, and he scoffed.
“Now you have no fear.” He said, and they sat quietly for a while.
Da Yeong broke the silence.
“Is Daegun still angry with me?” She asked, tentatively.
He thought about it.
He had been angry because he had thought he was attracted to a man, but that had slowly become overshadowed by the relief that she was actually a woman.
Besides, after this morning… He reached out, grabbed her hand and pulled her till she was right beside him.
“No I’m not.” He replied simply, looking up at the sky.
“Kamsahabnida.” She said, then sighed again, this time in relief.
She looked up at the sky as well.
‘This sighing thing…’ She thought to herself, but for once, she did not mind it.
She did not mind it at all…