Jang geum has a lot of secrets. This, everyone who knows her comes to understand.
After the matter with the father of the Queen, she often looks melancholic, and sighs too. When asked why, she just smiles and says it's nothing. Her friends don't press her, as it's never shows in her cooking. But in her attitudine, yes.
One second she was there, looking at the sky or a tree, then the next she wasn't.
Geum yeong gathered her courage and spoke to her the first, in the middle of their break in a beautiful afternoon of a spring day. The days began to warm and the incident of last autum were almost erased from their memories. Almost.
"Hm? What it is, Geum yeong?" The almost 13 years old turned and Geum yeong and her three friends were once again left mesmerized. As the winter passed, Jang geum turned more beautiful as the days passed. Not to say, that beside Jang Suro, there were other vocally admirators too. The king almost joked once that she was more popular than he was in his army. Jang geum apologized so much that theking just laughed so hard he had to keep himself straight with the help of his guard and faithfull guard, Jeong Ho, who was almost glaring at him for what he said.
"Um... is something bothering you?" She had to snap herself out of trance. While it was true that her first true friend and rival was very beautiful, and they all knew that, now it wasn't the time to ponder on her apparence.
"Me? No. Everything is alright." She laughed as she did every time.
"But... you're almost flying with the help of your thoughts. What's on your mind?"
Jang geum blinked. The way she put it was a bit... extreme. But maybe true. She often thought of things unrelated to the kitchen.
"Hmm... i think that i'm blessed."
"Blessed?" Asked confused Changi. Why would she think that? He life was chaos everywhere she went.
"I have all i ever wanted. Friends, family, my dream of working in the kitchen..."
"Not to mention Sir Min, right?" Changi grinned knowingly, laughing when Jang geum's face redded.
"...is that bad?"
"Hm... i wouldn't say bad. But you won't ever get married as long as you're working in the kitchen." As she was the only one who wasn't in love, she was the only one who could say the true. The others girls sighed unhapply.
"And that's the reason you were so lost in thoughts these past... weeks?" Asked the curios Yeonsaeng. She couldn't really belive that.
"Well.... sorry. I have to go." Her attention turned to a palace wall and she began to run,but she was stopped by two guards.
"Jang geum! Where are you going?" Asked Jang Suro and Dongi, both curios. The girl was now looking front and back to the wall and to her friends.
"Um..sorry. I'm kind in a hurry..."
"Where? Me and Dongi could escort you!" Offered Jang Suro, ignoring his fan loving exclamations from the offside.
"No! It's alright! I just... have to go-" she was cut short when another guard came. But this time, she really prayed that this one wouldn't say something bad...
"Jang geum. I was waiting. You hadn't come so i went looking for you. Come. We have some work." Hwa Yun said in an unusual soft face. That switched when he saw Jang geum's face. She wanted him not to cause trouble. Too late for that.
"Sir Hwa yun....?" Asked slighly shocked Yeonsaeng. Why was he showing her a face just she saw in some occasion?
"Lady Lee. Glad to see you're doing well. If you excuse us, me and Jang geum have some work to do." He bowed respectfully, and turned to Jnag geum to take her by her shoulder. He was stopped when his hand was caught by an fumming guard.
"Hwa Yun! What work do you have with Jang geum? And why do you call her like that?!" Jang Suro asked angry. The girl wanted to say something, but she was stopped by Hwa Yun.
"This should apply to you too, sir. I understand about Dongi, as he is her adoptive brother, but you have no such relation to her. And thus i ask you too. Why do you call Jang geum by her name? Not even Sir Min does that."
"Wh-what does Jeong Ho Min have to do with this?!"
"Hm? I was under the impression you know." He slipped his hand around Jang geum's neck, and she didn't even moved when he took out her necklace where she kept her half of ring. "That she and Sir Min are the holders of this pair of rings. And thus he has a right to call her by her name, but he doesn't use it. I wonder why...?" He mutters under his breath and just moves his shoulders as he drops the necklace back into it's place.
The place was silent. Geum Yeong knew about her rival and her love interest, so she just became a short of observator, but it still came as a shock. The others were the same kind of shocked. Yeonsaeng was close to tears. She most likely missunderstood.
"Why! You-" jang suro was intrerupted by jang geum's stressed call.
"Hwa Yun! You said we had work, right? Let's go!" She tugged almost desperately his hand and missed the way she adressed him, but the others didn't.
"Yes. Let's go. Oh, by the way, lady Lee. Please wipe your tears. A smile is better. Jang geum won't come for the next two or three days. I already talked with the others ladies, so the next time you see each other, it will be later." He bowed once again and waited until Jang geum regained herself.
"Um... Yeonsaeng, Changi, Geumyeong... i'm going. See you later. Sorry." Jang geum didn't knew why she was apologizing for, but she hoped her friends wouldn't tell anyone else.
She left behind her friends and when she got alone with Hwa Yun, she turned angry to him.
"Brother! You hurt Yeonsaeng just now! When we arrive, you better get her something nice!"
"Yes, yes. Sister, whatever you say. For this next mission, we will work with another one under the order of the king. As you know, no one must know you are under your cape, no one beside the king."
"Yes. I know. Because i know very well how to do medicine and work against poison, and i can cook under any problems, not to mention i was given training from the holy man. But, brother.... with who will we work?"
"That i do not know. We have to go to the king now. Your clothes are inside my room. Let's go."
She nodded already thinking about who could it be. With her brother's help, she now was going to every mission he went to, to take care of his wounds and his health. The king knew about their relationship of brother and sister separated of their mothers death and reunited under the circumstances of her not having any memories of her childhood and him knowing everything. He allowed them to work together, only if she was left unarmed. If she had even an wound on her after the dangerous mission, then she won't get to work beside him anymore.
She wasn't any closer to the answer than she was when she was told the news. She just hoped it was the one person she refused to work with from the begining. It was too risque. He would find out soon, if not from the begining.
When she looked in the mirror in the hidden closet from the kings rooms, she analised her clothes. She wore rich clothes and underneath had her black clothes. On her head she had a big hat that hidded her face. Her brother wore clothes similar to a bodyguards.
This mission included inflirtation. She was playing the role of the young lady travelling the road with her bodyguards. They were supposed to eliminate a bandit group and they were the bait. Now for the other person....
The king entered the room followed by his loyal guard, Min Jeong Ho. He wore clothes similar to her brother, so that meant.... he was the other person?! But she asked the king not to put them on a mission together! She could see the king's face looking at her with an apologizing glace before she and her brother bowed.
"Your majesty. We await the order."
"Hwa Yun, Nabi ( korean for butterfly. I wanted to put lotus, but it sounded...weird.), this is as you already know Min Jeong Ho. My private guard who will assist you to this mission. Min, you already know Hwa Yun. Nabi is his sister, and she is going with him on missions to keep his health in check and treat his wounds. She will play the role of the young lady who ran away from home, and has only her bodyguards, you and Hwa Yun. You three will be the bait and get rid of the bandits. But i have a favour to ask both of you. Please keep Nabi safe. She works in the palace and she can't get hurt no matter the reason."
"Yes, your majesty. But i have to ask you, lady Nabi. How old are you?" He asked when he gave his hand to shake, her answering quietly '13'. He raised a brown and looked at her for a few seconds. Then he smiled and bowed his head to her. "I assure you that you will be safe this journey, Lady Nabi." He smiled charmingly.
Under her hat, Jang geum blushed and nodded her head slowly. She tugged her brother and bowed her head slighly, letting him know she was ready.