139 A Little Maid Pt.2

    Seokjin was stunned by the ferocity of her tone.

    Poised in a defensive stance, Gyuri glared at Seokjin as if she was ready to punch him. She stood defiantly, all semblance of her flustered state replaced by an unwavering death glare. Seokjin was surprised to find himself being intimidated by a little maid.

    "You may be one of the masters in this household," Gyuri chided, "but you have no right to touch me without my permission."

    Taken aback by her act of defiance, Seokjin blinked. Despite her small stature, Gyuri had an unexpected strong killer intent, one that Seokjin hadn't encountered since his time in the battlefields. "Is that so?" Unknowingly, he reached for the hilt of his sword which rested near his waist.

    Noticing his hand curl around his sabre, Gyuri's eyes flickered. "Y-yes." Her voice shook slightly when she suddenly remembered the same blade being held against her throat not so long ago. "That's- that's considered assault, y'know!"

    A look of confusion riddled Seokjin's features before his expression turned unreadable. Had I imagined her bloodlust? Cautiously, Seokjin released his blade, disguising his shame behind a hmph. He was embarrassed to find himself reaching for his blade because of a little girl. Had he grown so complacent that even a maid could threaten him?

    "You should be careful with who you show your claws to," Seokjin warned, once he had regained his composure. "You're fortunate I'm merciful. Had I not been, you would've received punishment for your actions." Despite the edginess of his words, Seokjin was smiling.

    Gyuri shivered.

    Under his icy stare, Seokjin's obsidian eyes glimmered knowingly as if he knew all her secrets.  Something about his gaze sent a familiar uneasiness that Gyuri couldn't quite put her finger on. It was almost as if she had been in the same situation before...

    And then she realised.

    "Lord Hyesung."

    Seokjin flinched at the mention of his father's name. "...What did you say?"

    "Lord Hyesung," Gyuri repeated with more confidence. She leaned in causing Seokjin to step back. "Master Seokjin, you're the spitting image of Lord Hyesung!"

    Seokjin was silent.

    "I thought there was something familiar about you!" Gyuri rambled excitedly. "Your eyes, your nose, your-" Gyuri paused as she sneaked a look at his mouth before hurriedly meeting his eyes again. "You look like a younger version of the late lord-"

    "No," Seokjin quickly refuted, "I don't."

    Gyuri was caught off-guard by Seokjin's denouncement. She observed as his frown deepened, evidently displeased by her innocent comparison.

    "I look nothing like my father."

    Registering the contempt in his voice, Gyuri bit her lip to avoid misspeaking again. It didn't take much for her to gather that the relationship between Seokjin and his father was complicated. Keen to avoid antagonising Seokjin further, Gyuri was about to apologise once more when she suddenly heard someone calling for her. She turned around.

    "There you are!" Gyuri heard a juvenile voice say.

    Seokjin followed her lead and turned to find Taehyung approaching them from across the yard.

    "I have been waiting for you for ages," Taehyung complained, his large dark robes swishing as he walked. "Mayu said you were doing the laundry and I wanted to help you out since you were taking so-" Taehyung abruptly halted when he noticed that Gyuri was not alone. "Second brother," he glanced from Seokjin to Gyuri with a look of puzzlement gracing his boyish features, "I did not know you were here."

    Seokjin's expression softened at the sight of his younger sibling. "Greetings, Taehyung."

    The younger awkwardly bowed back.

    Gyuri watched in painful silence as the pair stared at each other, not knowing what else to say after their introductions. Her eyes darted from Taehyung to Seokjin like a pendulum as if expecting them to continue their exchange, but none came.

    Were they unable to continue because I'm here?

    Assuming it was her cue to leave, Gyuri cleared her throat. "Excuse me, Master Seokjin, Young Master," she bowed to each brother politely," I shall leave you be now-"


    Gyuri halted immediately.

    "Do not leave," Taehyung spoke excitedly, "I have news to tell you."

    Seokjin observed as Gyuri gave Taehyung her undivided attention.

    "Brother Minseok said he will continue funding the soup kitchen," Taehyung rushed to say. "He will continue to honour Father's reward to you."

    "Really?" Sharing Taehyung's excitement, Gyuri's lips curled into a wide smile. "Is that true?"

    "Yes! I worked hard to convince him and thankfully, he relented." Taehyung had a smug, boxy grin. "It was a good thing I was there to persuade him. Who knows what would have happened had I not done that."

    "You did well, Tae," Gyuri praised, forgetting that Seokjin was nearby. "I don't know what I would've done without you."

    At Gyuri's words, Taehyung looked down as if to hide his shy smile. "I need to go and visit the orphans today. I should tell them the good news."

    Seokjin watched in silence as Taehyung looked at Gyuri endearingly.

    Even though he had already been at the household for a week, he had not yet properly spoken to Taehyung. Instead, Seokjin had observed him from afar, secretly studying everything he could about his younger brother. From his favourite food to his least favourite pastimes, Seokjin had tried to learn it all. He was pleased to discover that Taehyung had grown up somewhat happily, completely sheltered from the horrors of life outside the household. However, what surprisingly piqued his interest the most was not the details of Taehyung's childhood that he had missed, but the peculiar relationship he had with a certain maid. And seeing his brother interact with that same maid caused him to furrow his brow.

    Seokjin suspected that Gyuri was more than she let on.

    "I'm afraid that won't be wise."

    Taehyung and Gyuri turned to Seokjin, who had suddenly spoken. They had been so absorbed in their conversation that they had forgotten Seokjin was nearby.

    "Cousin Namjoon says that the plague in the village is still rife," Seokjin continued. "It would be unwise to go and risk your health."

    "Master Seokjin is right," Gyuri agreed, "I'm also under strict instruction not to let you go with me when I visit."

    Taehyung pouted. "Why? That is unfair!"

    Seokjin heard Gyuri chuckle at his younger brother's childish reaction. It may have been his imagination, but Seokjin thought Taehyung enjoyed the maid's attention. He watched the pair closely. Judging by how comfortable his brother was around her, he deduced that Gyuri must be more than just a maid to Taehyung.

    Could she be his personal maid?

    When Seokjin voiced out this question, Taehyung proudly replied, "No, brother. Gyuri is not my personal maid." He revealed enthusiastically, "She is my sister."

    At the sound of those words, unwanted images flashed before Seokjin's eyes causing him to wince.

    An infantile hand.

    A small shoe.

    An innocent smile.

    Seokjin clenched his fist as the distant memories vanished as fast as they came.

    "Master Seokjin?" Gyuri said tentatively, "Are you all right-?"

    "I'm fine." Seokjin's voice was clipped. Before Gyuri or Taehyung could ask anything more, the elusive brother had briskly turned, suddenly in a darker mood. He walked away.

    Confused by his abruptness, Gyuri asked Taehyung, "What was that all about?"

    "I am not certain." He looked at Gyuri worriedly. "Was it something I said?"

    "No, it can't be," she replied, sensing the hurt in Taehyung's voice. "It must be because of me."

    Taehyung still looked unsure.

    "Master Seokjin must just be tired," Gyuri tried to reassure him. "He was practising his swordsmanship before I came." She peered at Taehyung who appeared downcast. "How is he related to you anyway? Is he like the twin brother of Master Junmyeon? Because I can totally see the resemblance."

    "No." Taehyung shook his head. "He is my true brother."

    "Your true brother?" Gyuri was confused. You mean-?"

    Taehyung nodded. He glanced to where Seokjin was before he left, footsteps long faded away. "He is my true brother," he smiled sadly, "but it seems our bond is only limited to the blood we share."
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