I closed the gates and walked to my room. I entered and closed the door.

Even though I am not really used to mixed wooden doors, I slowly slid down my back at it.

I hurried to go inside because I wanted to hide. Am I flustered?!

Why am I flustered? Its just a girl.

Yeah, and shes pretty. Her hair is pretty soft too.

I smiled.

”Lady Mahri, are you there? ”

Ha Ra called from the outside of the room.

I crawled and peeked at the door. I frowned.

She already left.

Wait… come to think of it… I haven asked her name yet.

I facepalmed. I don know her name.

How foolish of me.

I almost had a heart attack when Hara peeked at the hole I am peeking at.

”Hi, my lady, why are you being so sneaky? Its just me. ”

I stood up and properly opened the door.

”Sorry. Do you want to come in? Come in! Come in! ”

She went inside and waited for me to close the door and sit down before she sat down comfortably.

”If its because of my mother, Im really sorry about the way she acts. She overdoes things a bit. Id understand if you want to leave. ”

”You mean Lady San? ”

I laughed.

”Its fine. No really, its fine. I know that shes just worried about me. As a matter of fact, I am the one who owes the both of you an apology. I have been a knucklehead and kept on hurting people, Ive even hurt the two of you. ”

I stood up and bowed.

”I apologize for every inconvenience I have caused. ”

”Oh no! Stop, my lady! You shouldn stoop that low to someone like me. You may do that to my mother but please, not to me. ”

She said while shaking her hands.

”What? Someone like you? Whats wrong with somebody like you? We
e both humans and its not like I am under a rank of some sort. Its fine. Just treat me as equal and Id do the same. ”

”But it doesn feel right… ”

She said silently.

”Anyways, is there anything I can do for you, my lady? ”

”Do you know the name of the girl who was with me when I got here? ”

I said without thinking.

”Oh, yes. I asked her name since shes been staring outside for too long. ”

”What is it? ”

I asked eagerly.

”Shin Hae Cha. Thats what she told me. ”

Shin Hae Cha. What a pretty name.

”Is there anything else I can do for you, my lady? ”

She patiently asked.

I thought deeply for a second.

”Ah, do you know how to sew? ”

”Yes. I can make you something in only a few hours. ”

”Thats good. Can you make me a dress? ”

”A hanbok*? ”

”Yes but don make it too big. One to three fabrics for the petticoat of the chima* will do. ”

”That is rather unique, my lady. ”

”So, will you do it or not? ”

I said, losing a little patience.

She smiled.

”I never said I wouldn ”

I like this girl.

”But please change your clothes first, my lady. ”

Ah, right. Im soaked wet.

Sangria scandal*

”Here are the varieties of hues of violet just like youve asked. Which would you choose, my lady? ”

I pointed out the color thats slightly reddish and dark.

”Sangria. I like that too. Now for the color of the jeogri*? ”

I pointed to the bluish purple at the end of the room.

”A blue magenta? Hmmm… I can work with these. For now, you must sleep, my lady. I doubt my mother will leave you alone tomorrow. ”

”Are you sure youd be okay? Youd be restless. You should take your rest too, I can wait. ”

She dismissed what I had said.

”This won take too long, my lady. Id have enough rest tomorrow whether or not I start this now. And besides, I can risk my mother seeing what Ive been doing, she might get mad. ”

I nodded.

”Okay, but if it gets late, stop it, okay? Get some sleep. ”

”Yes. Thank you for worrying about me, my lady. ”

She smiled.

She left the room carrying all the fabrics. She hasn asked me what I was using that for, I wonder why.

I yawned. I don have time to think about that

Well, better to get some sleep while I still can.

After a few moments of shutting my eyes, I fell into a deep slumber.

”It was dark and damp… I sat down and no, I didn feel the water. I can feel the water.

I looked around and I noticed that I was alone. Alone in this dark, cold, and wet place. There is nothing around, just complete nothingness

”Mahri? ”

Someone spoke. I looked behind me and I leaned out too much out of shock.

It was Rhiame. She looked so glad to see me. I reached out to hug her but I was falling. I kept drifting away from her.

I tried to swim away from the pull but it was too strong. Tears started to form in my eyes.

No, don go away. Just let me hug you. A hug would be enough, just don go away just yet.

She kept getting further until all I could see was pitch black.

I wiped the tears off my eyes. This is all my fault. I sobbed.

My tears just kept on falling and I was slowly being held down after floating for a bit too long.

I buried my face to my knees. I cried and cried until the water surrounding me rose.

I finally stopped when I couldn breathe. I am suffocating.

I opened my eyes and the water became too deep. I feel like I am in the middle of the ocean. I swam up and as I did so, the water turned bloody red. I reached the surface of the water and almost drowned again when I saw my sister. I swam to her and poked her.

”Hey, this is not a good joke. ”

I slowly said.

I poked her again and I was terrified when her head detached from her neck and slowly floated away.

”Yes, you
e right, it is really all your fault. ”

Someone whispered to my ear from behind. The place became colder. ”

My heart was racing when I sat up from my bed. Im sweating terribly and was soaked.

I opened the doors and went outside. I was cooling off when I noticed a shimmering light in Haras room. I went to it and opened the door.

She was so shocked she almost pricked her finger with the needle.

”Oh, it was you, my lady. I thought I was caught by my mother. What brings you here? ”

She looked at me and her eyes widened.

”Why are you sweating? Has someone lit up a fire near your room? Is it hot? Should I adjust the papers thickness? Its cold here, so we can switch rooms instead. ”

”No, Im fine. I just dreamt of something. And the room is cold enough, thank you. ”

I sat down in front of her after closing the door behind me.

”Why are you so scared to be caught by your mother sewing? Isn she a seamstress too? ”

”Yes, she was. ”

”What happened? ”

”Well, my mother was the best seamstress in Joseon and most of the big people go to her for personalization of their clothing. However, she just chooses her clients, she doesn accept everyone. Its not about the rank, its about how they treat people. If you are mean, then you are not welcome here. Back then, one of the Kings concubines went to my mother for a hanbok shed wear on his sons coronation. But everyone knows how she treats people and my mother didn like that. She refused the offer no matter how big that concubine would pay and it made her very mad. On the day of her sons coronation, the queen who was a concubine before the recent queen died, ordered the ministry of defense to take my father to treason for no reason at all. Scared of their own familys safety, they obliged. After the coronation, in front of many people, my father was beaten to death. She then said that it should be a lesson to everyone for all her orders are to be obliged and not ignored. My mother has stopped sewing since then. She said it was a curse and should never be done, at least not inside her place. ”

”But you are the fastest seamstress. Its a gift seen as a curse. ”

I said in dismay. It disappoints me that her talent is wasted this way.

”Id be glad to just call it a gift. ” She beamed.

She loves sewing. I can feel it.

”So… how long will this take? ” I asked.

Hara weaved the last fabric onto the clothing. But its fun to see her making ways to do what she loves.

”Its finished, my lady ”

I held onto the flower my sister gave me as I gazed with awe. I haven even noticed the fact that I was holding unto it this whole time. I am so mesmerized by how the whole thing turned out that I haven given the ache in my palms any attention.

”Its a sangria hanbok, as you have requested. ”

”You create miracles using the fabric. You
e amazing, I wouldve been proud seeing you doing this if I were your mother. ”

”But you
e not. ”

She laughed.

”If I could ask though, where are you using this, my lady? ”

I smiled. So, she finally took her time asking that question.

”I can be seen roaming around the streets wearing a hakchangui*, Id rather be seen in a gat* with that hanbok. ”

e going out of the palace as a scholar? Isn that illegal? You are to stay in the royal premises unless you have the permission of the head scholar. ”

”I don think sneaking in pretending to be a boy is any better. ”

”But- ”

”I already broke rules just by studying and being a scholar. Why not do it to the whole extent? ”

She looked at me with amazement written all over her face. I looked at her confusedly. I thought she was totally against it?

”Why are you looking at me like that? ”

”You just look so amazing. How can you be so amazingly bad? ”

”Stop admiring me too much, I don know how to react. ”

I laughed.

She handed me the hanbok.

”You should rest, my lady. Get all the rest you can get. ”

I took it and it felt so light and soft to the touch. Complex design traveled around the fabric while using the colors as roads to make its way to the deepest depth of the cloth. The lines speak words I barely understand but remind me of love. The pain of loving someone so deeply. Each color flows on my hands like water running and getting pushed by the wind. With the feeling of a rushed breeze of excitement, I stared at it with odd contentment. How can meaning and beauty be at the same place, and clothing at that.

”You get your rest too. Thank you for everything, Hara. ”

e always welcome, my lady. ”

I smiled and stood up. She spoke before I got the chance to turn around to take my leave.

”Are you sure you don want to sleep here instead? I don mind switching rooms with you. It must be hot in your room. ”

”Don worry. Im all good. You should just relax here and get comfortable inside your own cozy room. Ill do the same in mine. ”

”Okay, but if you want to replace rooms with me, I really don mind at all. ”

”Yes, thank you. ”

I smiled and took my leave. I went to my room and watched Haras room dim before I closed the doors.

Seeing the hanbok on my hand, it feels surreal. No matter how many times I take a look at it, it still looks so unique and pretty. The colors match so much and its cold to my eyes. How can she make something as amazing as this one? Its so soft and light, Ive never seen anything like this in my whole life.

I carefully folded the delicate cloth and placed it inside my bag. I don think Lady San would look inside my bag. Hara would be safe.

After putting my bag back in place, I laid down and slid myself into my blankets. I can close my eyes, Im too scared of seeing Rhiame that way again. I can bear the sight of it, I don think I ever will be able to bear it.

So, I just laid down there. Not making any sound and not making any kind of movement.

I guess Ill just wait for the morning to start.

While staring at the ceiling, I remembered Hae Chas face and how she apologizes over the little things. Although it is a bit annoying since I don like people apologizing to me. Even my sister doesn do that to me.

I will need to get used to things that I don usually experience. It happens to me a lot lately, Id have to adjust.

I was smiling when my eyes started to slowly close and I finally drifted off to sleep.

Sangria scandal*

A very loud bang woke me up. The crows were crying so loudly outside and were probably disturbed by the same sound.

”Mah Ri Sun! Get up from your bed and get out of your room this instant! ”

Lady San yelled.

She needs to tell me the truth, is she trying to wake me up or is she trying to wake up the whole Joseon?

I stood up and wobbly walked out the room. The sunlight was so bright it blinded me.

I jumped over a very loud bang in front of me. My whole senses have been so alive I don think Id be able to sleep in the next twelve hours.

”The sun has been up for so long and yet you dared to yawn in front of me, young lady?! Fix yourself, stand up straight and chin up! ”

She hit my back to straighten it up and my chin to lift it.

Whats her problem?

”Another mistake and I won let you eat lunch later. ”

”What?! ”

And I just woke up!

”Why are you looking at me like that? Fix your posture! ”

I stood up straight.

Ah, right. I almost forgot. Her rough training starts today…

Key term: (all words in italic and ends with an asterisk* excluding the title)

Hakchangui These are the traditional uniforms of scholars in the Joseon dynasty.

Gat means hat in English. To be precise, it is what noblemen wear as their headdress.

Jeogri The top jacket like clothing that women in Joseon wear.

Chima The skirt of the hanbok.

Hanbok A type of dress. The traditional clothing of both men and women, depending on their social status, in the Joseon Dynasty.

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