162 Plain and Indecipherable Pt.1

    "Is it me or is everyone staring at you?"

    Gyuri groaned and ducked her head.

    It was the day of the Emperor's wedding and exactly three weeks since Madam Zhou had delivered the news that she was being promoted. At first, Gyuri was thrilled: a promotion meant that she no longer had to do grunt work. She no longer had to serve breakfast to the servants at the crack of dawn; no longer had to be the last to use the washroom and no longer had to do laundry all day. Gyuri thought Madam Zhou had finally acknowledged her and was rewarding her based on her merits. It was all going well until Madam Zhou revealed the true nature of her promotion.

    Discomfited, Gyuri concentrated her sights on the floor.

    "I can't tell if Fortune is smiling upon you or if you're being punished," Pho mused as they turned the corner together. "Fancy that, Master Seokjin choosing you to be his personal maid."

    "Don't remind me," Gyuri grumbled when the coast was finally clear.

    Ever since Madam Zhou announced her promotion, a group of disgruntled maids had made it their mission to make Gyuri's life harder. At first, they started off small. The conspirators would hide her shoe; occasionally trip her up or spill things on her uniform. If they did nothing to physically harm her, Gyuri thought she could handle it. After all, the last thing Gyuri wanted was to draw more attention to herself- Seokjin had done enough of that already.

    "Consider it a blessing in disguise," Mayu interjected, momentarily disrupting Gyuri's gloom. "Out of all the other maids in the household, Master Seokjin chose you. That's impressive since you've only joined us recently."

    "But isn't that the problem?"

    Mayu blinked. "Well..."

    "It just doesn't make sense," Gyuri groaned. "The others have been working here for much longer and so are better qualified. Why would Master Seokjin choose a newbie like me?" Gyuri noticed Mayu and Pho exchange glances. "And no, it's definitely not because of that."

    "Oh, c'mon, Gyuri," Pho remarked with a huff, "what other explanation can there be? How else would you have been promoted if not for someone putting in a good word for you?"

    "But who would do that for me?"

    Pho gazed at her knowingly. "Well, for starters, there's Madam Zhou."

    Gyuri snorted.

    "And there's also the Young Master."

    Gyuri grounded to a halt. In the twilight rays of morn, the courtyard was enchanted with a pinkish glow that contrasted with the crisp air. Absent of birdsong, the household seemed eerily quiet. Gyuri's eyes widened when Taehyung's words suddenly resonated like echoes in a cave.

    "I want to say them to you when I am a man."

    It was only slight, but no matter how strongly she denied it, her heart stirred at the thought of him. Gyuri dared not learn why. "There's- there's no way he'd do that for me," Gyuri rushed to say, "and anyway, I don't think he and Master Seokjin even get along. How could he have put a good word in if they hardly talk?"

    "Then what about Master Namjoon?" Pho suggested.

    Gyuri noticed Mayu flinch.

    "You've been helping out a lot at the sanatorium and from what I've seen, he seems close to Master Seokjin. Maybe it was he who put a good word in for you?"

    Gyuri had to stop herself from grinning. Lately, she had been seeing too much of Namjoon. "It's possible."

    "You should thank Master Namjoon for his benevolence," Pho remarked, oblivious to Mayu's discomfort. "Since joining the household, he has shown you nothing but kindness."

    Gyuri was about to agree when she caught sight of her taciturn friend. Her smile faded as guilt weighed heavily in her chest. "But even if Master Namjoon meant well by recommending me," Gyuri said, her eyes lingering on Mayu, "I would still have preferred not to be Master Seokjin's personal maid."

    Mayu looked up in astonishment. She met eyes with Gyuri who quirked her lips into an empathetic smile.

    "Why? Is it because of the others?" Pho asked. When Gyuri didn't answer, she added, "Just ignore them. Their pettiness will eventually wane."

    "It's not just because of them. It's just... I don't know." Gyuri's brows furrowed when she suddenly remembered her recent interaction with the elusive Kim brother. "It's Master Seokjin. Sometimes I feel like he made me his personal maid just to mess with me."

    Mayu and Pho searched their surroundings in panic.

    "You can't say things like that out loud!" Pho hissed. "Do you want us to get flogged?"

    Gyuri uttered a half-hearted apology. "I'm telling you, there's something off about him," dropping her voice to a whisper, she added, "He's not who you think he is."

    Mayu and Pho exchanged doubtful looks. "Are you still insisting Master Seokjin is two-faced?" Pho's tone was weary. "Gyuri, it's been weeks. I've been observing Master Seokjin's behaviour and I haven't found the flaws that you speak of."

    "But what about yesterday?" Gyuri turned to Mayu for support. "You saw that, right? He sent me to fetch his cloak only to disappear when I returned. I searched for him everywhere! It was like we were playing hide-and-seek."

    "But that's just how it is as a personal maid," Pho countered. "And you found him in the end, didn't you?"

    "Yes, but-"

    "And what was he doing?"

    Gyuri paused. She pursed her lips as she reluctantly divulged, "He was helping repair the stables..."

    "See? Master Seokjin didn't send you on a pointless errand to spite you," Pho said triumphantly. "He was just occupied with helping the stable boy. In fact, he's known to rush to others' aid. The other servants can vouch for that."

    Gyuri recalled the cocky, lopsided grin, Seokjin aimed at her while the stable boy had his back turned. She clenched her fist. "You don't understand. That's what he wants you to see but you mustn't fall for it. It's all an act!"

    Pho shook her head in dismay. "Why would Master Seokjin pretend to be kind? I want to believe you, Gyuri, but maybe you're guilty of trying to find a fault in Master Seokjin rather than seeing him for who he is."

    "I think it's better if you stop."

    The pair turned to Mayu, surprised. She had said so little that both she and Pho had almost forgotten her presence. "Stop?" Gyuri's voice went up an octave. "What? But he's-"

    "What will you achieve by doing this?"

    Gyuri was speechless.

    "Even if you expose Master Seokjin's true nature," Mayu pointed out, "he is still one of the Kims. No one will bat an eye." She glanced at Pho who nodded in agreement. "I think you should quit this act of scrutiny while you're still ahead."

    "But what if-"

    "Gyuri," Mayu said in her usual cadence but her tone was sharp. "Being a personal maid is like wielding a double-edged sword. It can either help you or harm you." Her features grew solemn as she warned, "But you never learn which side favours you until it's too late."
Previous Index Next