(Chapter 1 of the Beyond Words series.)
Chapter One: If You Only Knew
Well if you only knew the pain that I've been through
since when did it become all about you
as you can see from the start I've said the truth
but if the truth means nothing to you
then what am I supposed to do?
“And here we are outside of the city’s royal cemetery!” The reporter announced as her cameraman stood a few feet before her, her microphone in hand. “We arrived just in time to see the royal family as they proceed out of the cemetery gates! As everyone knows, today is the 19th anniversary of the Queen’s death. This reporter is also sad at remembering the Queen before who had died just 23 years ago, leaving behind the Princess.”
As the reporter - and, in truth, many other reporters - continued to describe what was going on at the royal cemetery’s gates, three town cars were parked at the curb at the gates, three attendants waiting with the back door of each car opened. Four young adults appeared from the gates, each dressed in the Hanbok appropriate for their royal stations.
“Ah, and beside me you can see the Princess beside her cousin, Prince Kyuhyun leading the way. Of course, for such an occasion, the royal Princes and Princesses are wearing their traditional wear,” The reporter continued.
Kyuhyun, with his cousin’s hand on his arm, led the way to the middle car. He stepped aside to allow his cousin first entrance into the car, then slipped in beside her. The attendant closed the door behind them.
“And behind them are the Princesses Taeyeon and Sooyoung. All of the late Queen’s children are separated by a year, but of course, the Princess trumps them all by being Prince Kyuhyun’s senior of two years.”
The two young ladies walked up to the last car and slipped in one after another before the attendant closed the door behind them.
“It seems the King - as every year - will remain at the grave site of his wife until night fall. It is a solemn day today in Seoul as the city remembers another Queen who died too young.”
The car pulled away from the curb and Kyuhyun sighed heavily as he just barely saw his father still standing by his mother’s grave. Beside him, his cousin sat completely still, hands folded in her lap. For as long as he remembered, his cousin was never named in public. The country had always referred to her as ‘the Princess’. She had been the only child to the late King, his uncle, and all had hopes that she was to be born a boy and would succeed his father in ruling the country.
“Did you visit your parents’ graves while we were there?” Kyuhyun asked quietly.
The Princess glanced at the driver before looking at Kyuhyun and merely nodding her head.
The drive continued in complete silence. As Kyuhyun watched the cityscape through his window, from the corner of his eye, he observed his cousin. A hand would raise from her lap, move towards her hair then, before she could touch the intricately pinned hair, she would snap her hand back into her lap and clasp her hands tightly.
Eventually he had to suppress a chuckle, “I’ll help you when we get home.”
She turned to look at Kyuhyun and smiled gratefully but said nothing.
The following day, the King was seated in the family dining room, a mug of coffee in one hand, the newspaper in another. The headlines were not good news. The millennia had come and gone and the world had entered the supposed age of technology. However, the past year was bringing with it struggles in the economy all over the world.
He had seen it coming, could feel it creeping when the stock markets showed more red than green, when talk of lay-offs were becoming more often. It began in high-power countries such as America, Canada, Britain and Japan. He knew, as Korea traded with these countries so much, that it wouldn’t take long before South Korea was facing what the others did.
Now, even in Seoul, major companies were claiming bankruptcy, banks and loan offices were thrown into chaos and even the police had their hands full as crime was slowly rising. Thefts were happening more often than the previous year, but thankfully, no murders had happened that year. Yet.
He sighed heavily as he placed the newspaper on the table beside his plate so he could flip the page. The door to the dining room opened,
“Such a long face, Father,”
The King looked up as his daughters entered, taking seats to his right; his youngest towering over her older sister by a few inches. Taeyeon with her bright eyes and long dark hair, smiled at him as she sat closest to him. His youngest, Sooyoung with her round cheeks and short hair, was talking animatedly on her cellular phone.
The King said nothing to his eldest’s words but eyed his youngest. He shook his head as he put down his mug with a distinctive clack; “Sooyoung, you know the rules.”
As if expecting it the entire time, Sooyoung swiftly closed her conversation and placed her phone on the table. Before her father could reprimand her more, she gave him a brilliant smile and he all but forgot the scold that had been forming in his head.
“Where’s your brother and cousin?” The King asked gruffly as he finished the last of his coffee, “You’re all late for breakfast.”
“The last I saw of Kyuhyun, he was going to her wing to wake her up,” Sooyoung replied as an attendant came and brought her a plate of breakfast, “I still don’t understand why she gets not just her own room - but an entire wing of the house to herself.”
“It’s an easy gift considering she cannot rule,” Taeyeon replied when she realized her father wasn’t going to.
“Well, next time just make it so she can rule,” Sooyoung stated, “I want my own wing too.”
Taeyeon lightly smacked her forearm, “Stop whining,” she warned,
“But still,” Sooyoung persisted, “And why does Kyuhyun always go wake her up in the morning? I don’t know why she’s so fussy, not wanting any attendants but Kyuhyun. I know they’re cousins, but it’s still not proper.”
“Kyuhyun was her first companion, obviously they’re closer than we are to her,” Taeyeon reminded lightly as she chewed thoughtfully, “Besides, he’s the only one she’s comfortable around.”
Sooyoung sighed heavily, “I just want my own wing, too.”
Kyuhyun leaned against the bedpost as, with arms crossed loosely, he awaited his cousin to make her appearance from the adjoining bathroom. For as long as he could remember, he had always come into her bedroom in the morning to wake her up and wait on her until they went down to breakfast together. His room, his sisters’ rooms and his cousin’s room were all on the same floor, however, while he and his sisters occupied the west wing, his cousin got the entire east wing of that floor to herself.
Waiting for his cousin to finish in the bathroom, he eyed the sword lying on a dresser. He approached it and unsheathed it, gripping it tightly. At a young age, his cousin was given fencing and kendo lessons. Two years after, when he reached the same age his cousin had started at, he had asked his father to also take lessons. When his father resisted for over a month, it was the first time he realized their different treatment.
Finally, the bathroom door opened and his cousin swept into the room dressed in a Hanbok for everyday wear, different and less formal than the one she wore the previous day to the royal cemetery. Her hair like a black curtain of silk ran down her back to almost her waist. She sat at the vanity and Kyuhyun replaced the thin, straight sword into its scabbard and walked up behind her.
“Putting up your hair today?” Kyuhyun asked simply as he caught her eye in the mirror.
She shook her head, “I just want to be comfortable today.”
Kyuhyun raised a single eyebrow, “If you want to be comfortable, stop wearing a Hanbok everyday.”
She stared at Kyuhyun’s reflection before sighing, “You know I can’t do that… and besides, this is the most comfortable for me.”
“Really?” Kyuhyun looked at her, unconvinced, “Because a t-shirt and jeans can be extremely comfortable, especially now as the weather gets warmer.”
She glanced at Kyuhyun’s clothes which did consist of dark jeans and a simple polo shirt. She shook her head as she stood from the vanity and headed for the bedroom door, “I would - you KNOW I would - if I could do so comfortably.”
They entered the corridor and Kyuhyun closed the door behind him as they began the trek to the family dining room for breakfast.
“It’s not like you leave the grounds that often. Wearing jeans a t-shirt away from the public eye can hardly affect you here,” Kyuhyun commented,
She crossed her arms, “Then call it force of habit.”
“You really need to break out of your shell at some point,” Kyuhyun insisted, “Maybe then I wouldn’t have to wait on you in the mornings and evenings.”
She rolled her eyes, “You know you don’t have to. I can simply… fend for myself when I change and get ready.”
Kyuhyun snorted un-princely, “Sure. I’d like to see that. You and I both know this could be a heck of a lot easier if you just…” He caught sight of a maid who was dusting. He sighed, “You know what I mean.”
“I do, and I appreciate your concern,” She replied earnestly, “But in all honesty, I’ve grown so accustomed to life as it is, that I couldn’t possibly want to change it. My life is comfortable.”
“But are you happy?” Kyuhyun challenged,
“One can never be completely happy,” She stated before lowering her voice, “Especially when living as I do.”
The entered the dining room just as the King stood from his seat. The took their seats to the left of him. Immediately, attendants rushed to bring forth utensils and plates of food for them.
“Staying up late again?” The King inquired, his eyes on the Princess.
He sighed heavily, “You know that’s not good, especially if you intend to wake up at the same hours in the morning. You’re going to tax yourself into some kind of illness and then will your parents think then?”
“If you’re worried about them accosting you in the afterlife, Uncle, I assure you, I will defend you and confess that it was my own fault,” She grinned at him.
The dining room opened and his assistant stood at the door. He was a shorter man with a bowl cut and thick-rimmed glasses. The King sighed, “Apparently even Kings do not get a day off. Taeyeon, don’t be late for class today and Sooyoung, GO to class today.”
“Yes Father,” they chimed in.
Until the age of 18, the four of them were tutored within the royal house. However, once she turned 18, Taeyeon expressed her desire to go to university and the King approved. When Sooyoung stated the same just a year ago, he could hardly say no. He glanced at his son and the Princess. They had never asked to go to schooling outside the grounds. Instead, both were tutored in the royal house by professors that were hired to stop by once a week.
“Do you two have your lessons today?” The King asked,
“Just music,” Kyuhyun replied between bites, “But we have accounting to do before the Professor comes by tomorrow.”
The King nodded his understanding, “Good, good. If either of you need help, I’ll be home before dinner.”
With one last farewell, the King approached his assistant and together, they left.
“I don’t see why you two don’t just go to university like us,” Taeyeon replied, “You’re basically getting the same education.”
“It’s easier learning one-on-one,” Kyuhyun shrugged. He glanced at his youngest sister, “And it’s harder to skip class.”
“I’m going, I’m going,” Sooyoung shot back as she stood from the table, “Geez. Skip one day of school and I never get a break.”
“Then next time, don’t skip school,” Taeyeon joined in on the teasing of the youngest,
“It was ONE day,” Sooyoung paused as she put her hands on her hips, “Three years ago!” When they ignored her plea, she scowled at them before turning her eyes on her cousin, “And stop wearing a Hanbok everyday. We’re in the 21st century.”
They watched as she stormed from the room. As the echo of the door slamming dissipated, the three looked at each other before laughing out loud.
“That was wonderful!” The music professor clasped her hands over her chest as she beamed.
The ballroom was where their music lessons always took place since, according to the Professor, it had just the right acoustics to truly appreciate music. The walls still echoed the remnants of the piano piece the Princess had just concluded. Just as she stood up, the Professor approached her,
“It’s hard to believe that just a year ago you could barely play! Now you’re playing the classical pieces as if it were nothing,” She smiled brightly as she pulled the Princess into an embrace.
Immediately, two guards that were standing by the main doors to the ballroom called out a warning. The Professor released the Princess,
“You know the rules!” One guard warned.
“Hands off the royal merchandise,” The other added as they closed the distance, both now standing by the piano.
“I… I meant… just… encouragement,” The Professor stammered.
“Understandable,” Kyuhyun insisted as he stepped forward, “However, rules are rules. Professor, perhaps we move towards the terrace for my lesson? Surely the birds will enjoy my singing?”
She looked at the guards wearily as she allowed the Prince to lead her away from the two imposing men. When they were on the other side of the room, the Princess let out a sigh of relief. She looked at the two guards who were watching her with concern,
“It was just a hug,” The Princess stated,
“But Your Highness, you know what your uncle, the King, stated,” One guard said tentatively, not wanting to oppose the royal lady,
“I know… and I am grateful you two got her off me,” The Princess sighed, “Women like her always make me wary.”
“The hugging-kind?” One guard asked.
The Princess slanted her gaze, “The happy kind.” The two guards suppressed laughter as she added, “You’d think she didn’t have a care in the world.”
“Carefree or not, Your Highness, we’re not at liberty to allow her to hug you,” A guard stated, regaining his composure,
“The King will not be pleased about this at all,” The other added with a sigh.
The Princess regarded them silently for a moment. They were right and the two were only doing their jobs. Fortunately, she didn’t feel comfortable being handled as the Professor had. She was glad that her thoughts often coincided with her uncle’s. The only problem was that her uncle’s protectiveness of her extended beyond reason. Well, she conceded, he had his reasons, but she wish she could go outside of the grounds. Kyuhyun had been right earlier that day, she didn’t leave the grounds often. However, it wasn’t because she didn’t want to, but because she wasn’t allowed.
“That’s why you won’t tell him,” the Princess stated finally.
The guards blinked at her before saying a combination of “but he’s the King” and “we can’t do that - again”.
“I’m fully aware what Uncle is and yes, you can,” she hit them with a hard stare, daring them to challenge her, her brows slightly narrowed.
The guards returned to their place by the double doors immediately as Kyuhyun approached. He leaned a hip against the piano, arms crossed loosely as he regarded his cousin for a full minute. Finally, it was the Princess who broke the silence,
“Where’s the Professor?” The Princess asked easily as she stood up and turned to him,
“Left through the terrace,” Kyuhyun answered, “You’re older than me… and yet I find myself asking this more often than you: are you okay?”
“Of course I am,” The Princess raised a thick eyebrow, “It was just a hug.”
“The guards won’t say anything to Father? Wouldn’t want to lose another teacher,” Kyuhyun glanced at the guards before looking back at his cousin.
“I think they won’t. Should I threaten them with my sword?” The Princess smirked,
Kyuhyun’s eyes grew wide before they lit with humour, “No, I don’t think you need to go that far.” He sighed heavily as he looked back over his shoulder at the open terrace doors, “Want to go out for a bit? The snow’s melted all over the city and since we don’t have lessons anymore-”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea-”
“Why? Because Father says you can’t?” At her startled expression, Kyuhyun rolled his eyes, “After twenty-two years together, you think I don’t know?” He scoffed before replying, “Besides, we used to sneak off the grounds all the time as kids.”
The Princess glanced outside longingly, “You’re… you’re right. I’m going to change,” she turned towards the doors.
Kyuhyun followed swiftly, the guards opening the doors for them, “Really? Not going to wear the Hanbok?”
The Princess shook her head, “I’ll stand out too much. Besides, you’re right, I’m not as comfortable in the Hanbok as I always say.”
“I know what I said, but… jeans and a shirt outside the grounds?” Kyuhyun asked hesitantly as they headed up the main staircase,
“I’ll wear the pea coat Taeyeon gave me for Christmas,” the Princess replied as they reached their floor and headed to her wing, “It reaches to mid-thigh, so I should be okay.”
“Okay, okay,” Kyuhyun nodded. He stopped as the Princess held her bedroom door open for him. He slanted her a gaze after looking around the hall, “Shouldn’t I be holding the door open for you?”
“Shut up and get inside,” she rolled her eyes, practically shoving her cousin inside.
The door closed after them with a soft thud and a distinctive click.
“Donghae! You have visitors!”
A young man raised his head from where he knelt. Pushing the box of oranges to the side to not be a danger in the aisle, he slowly approached the single cash register at the front of the small grocery store. His younger brother stood there adding up the bills for the store, sitting on a stool and thus, hiding his tall height.
Donghae glanced at the two men who stood by the desk. Both were as old as he, but they were more built. He gestured for them to follow him and he returned to his oranges. As he squatted and began to pile the oranges on their display, he paid neither of them a glance,
“What the hell do you two think you’re doing here? I told you - I’ll come to you!” Donghae hissed,
“That was over a week ago,” One of them replied. He was smaller than the other, but Donghae knew how built and fit he really was.
“The city’s getting worse day after day. We need to act - at least the first step,” the other replied, his thick eyebrows narrowed,
“And does the syndicate agree with you?” Donghae replied as he placed the last orange on the display and slowly rose.
“They’re getting restless,” The smaller one replied,
“Junsu, they’re always restless,” Donghae muttered as he moved towards the back, stacking the empty box with others.
“This time, it’s worse,” the other replied as they followed him through the small store with its small aisles and even smaller amount and variety of food.
“How Shiwon?” Donghae turned on them, pulling off the thick gloves he wore whenever handling the food directly, “How is it so bad that you two had to come to my store? I told you that I didn’t want any one from the syndicate finding me here because of my brother. He’ll think something’s up and I don’t want him to know what we’re about.”
“For years, this city’s been going in a decline - all of South Korea, really,” Shiwon grounded out, “We were better off with the late King. The new one doesn’t do anything, just watches from his grand house as the rest of the country moves towards poverty. We have to get rid of him!”
Donghae glanced towards his brother at the front of the store, making sure he wasn’t paying attention, “Will you keep it down?” He hissed, “Besides, what do you expect after that? That if we get rid of the King, his son will immediately take over?”
“Prince Kyuhyun reached his majority four years ago,” Junsu reminded, arms crossed over his chest, “If his father is gone, he’ll have to take the throne.”
“This whole plan is ridiculous… I don’t know why I ever agreed-”
“The same reason we did,” Junsu interrupted, eyes narrowed slightly, “We’re all scraping by… we had to leave university… Donghae, before the three of us had to drop out, Shiwon and I weren’t the only ones saying we were waiting for Kyuhyun to succeed the throne.”
“I know. I know,” he stressed as his eyes went to his friends.
They had all grown up together in Seoul, seen the changes in the city first hand. However, it wasn’t until their second year of university when they realized how much the city truly had changed and all of them were forced to leave school because they couldn’t make tuition payments. That was over two years ago and recently they had found the syndicate that offered them money to help in their cause. It wasn’t a great deal of money, but it was enough to keep their individual families fed.
On that thought, Donghae glanced to his brother. They only had each other, their parents murdered when their house was being robbed just before Donghae entered his second year of university. His brother was smart and would do well in university. However, they couldn’t pay for tuition. So, after his brother graduated high school, they joined together and were able to buy their small grocery store from an aging couple that wanted to retire to the country. The money from the syndicate helped pay for bills, especially the hard months when the store wasn’t pulling enough income for them. Because of the syndicate, he and his brother were able to continue with their store. He had to pay them back.
Sighing heavily, he looked back to his friends, “Fine… I’ll do my mission tonight.”
The two looked relieved yet unsettled at the same time.
“Donghae… you know if either of us could take it instead of you-”
“I’m faster than either of you. Out of the three of us, if we were caught, I’d be able to get away,” Donghae replied simply with a resigned shrug, “Don’t worry, I know and I appreciate the sentiment.” He sighed heavily, “Now go, I have more work to do.”
Junsu and Shiwon nodded before hesitantly leaving their friend; their shoulders heavy.
Donghae watched them leave, then sighed heavily as he disappeared into the storeroom. He returned a moment later with a basket of apples. The apples were displayed in the same vicinity as the oranges, but closer to the register.
“Changmin, how are the bills looking for this month?” Donghae asked after his brother had finished with a customer.
“Better than last.” His brother looked at him suspiciously, “Where is this extra income coming from again?”
“You ask me that every month,” Donghae replied tightly as he stacked the apples in their display holder,
“And I forget every month, so humour me and answer the question, hyung,” Changmin replied,
Donghae sighed, “I told you, I do some odd jobs for this old couple. Especially at night I keep watch since there have been more break-ins around the city lately.”
Changmin stared at his brother for a moment. Being only two years apart, they had grown up rather close. The death of their parents had only brought them closer together. He didn’t want to doubt his brother, but…
“You know, some nights I could take your-” Changmin stopped as two more customers entered and he lost all ability to speak. Finally, he stammered, “Your… Your Highnesses!”
Prince Kyuhyun who was crouching as he looked out the store’s door, turned the lock before straightening and approaching the register, “Sorry for the inconvenience, but we need a hide out until the crowds pass.
As if on cue, a group of people ran past the store, both Kyuhyun and his companion had ducked in time. Straightening, Changmin stared at the Princess. Hair pulled to the side in a loose French-braid, she was dressed in a black pea coat and dark, blue jeans. He had never seen her up close, truly, over the past twenty-four years of the Princess’ life, she had never been seen so close to the public. Rarely leaving the royal house’s grounds, the Princess was often described as being as elusive as that needle in the proverbial haystack.
Many small thuds sounded then and a loud swear. Three pairs of eyes turned just as Donghae ducked and began grabbing apples and throwing them back into the basket. He mentally kicked himself, but he had been stunned. The moment the Princess had straightened and he had seen her, he had frozen and his grip on the basket had slackened, the apples tumbling out. He reached out for an apple, when another hand grabbed it first. Rising with the Princess, he barely gripped the apple as she handed it to him.
“I hope none of your apples are damaged,” She noted with a brow furrowed slightly in concern.
Donghae couldn’t find his voice at first. He knew how rarely the Princess went out into society and knew how even rarer it was to have her speak in public. Her voice wasn’t high and pitchy like other girls. Instead, it was smooth as warm honey and had a soft, deep tenor to it. Before he realized what was happening, he felt his arm raise as if to touch her. He stopped himself before she noticed.
“I think we can leave,” Kyuhyun said as he glanced through the door again.
The Princess stared at Donghae a moment longer before turning back to her cousin, “Can we just go back home. It’s too annoying having to run away wherever we go.” She shook her head, “People always chasing and then trying to touch and grab.”
Donghae said nothing, but placed the last of the apples on the display. What could he say? He was just about to do what others - apparently - did around the Princess. He found himself mentally kicking himself again. This time, for being just like the other insensitive jerks out there. Then, he froze. He was the worse of the lot, wasn’t he? After all, didn’t he just accept a mission just moments ago to kill her uncle, the King?
Prince Kyuhyun sighed visibly, “You’re no fun anymore.”
The Princess sent him a hard glare, “I have my reasons,” she grounded out.
Kyuhyun blinked before ducking his head slightly in apology. He unlocked the store’s door, “C’mon, before they start regrouping again. If we make a mad dash, we can reach the town car where we left it.” He turned to the cash register and pulled out his wallet, “We really appreciate you guys letting us hide here for a bit. I don’t have a lot because I don’t like carrying a lot on me, but-”
Donghae watched as the Prince began pulling out a few bills. He jumped towards the counter, “Please, don’t,” Donghae insisted. The Prince and Princess both stared at him, but it was his brother who was the most startled,
“Donghae, it could help with bills and-”
He silenced his brother with a glare before turning back to the royal pair, “Please. It was our honour. Don’t ruin it by paying us.”
“Kyuhyun,” The Princess interrupted, her eyes locked with Donghae’s, “Put it away, you heard the man.”
“A man’s got his honour. If you paid him money for it, you’d only be insulting him,” the Princess stated.
Donghae was startled once more. The Princess spoke as if she understood the male ego, which was difficult for most - if not all - women. How he wish, however, that this was a normal circumstance where he would‘ve said the same thing. Instead, he said what he did because he knew that later that evening, he was going to kill the King and the guilt would hurt him enough without them paying him too.
Kyuhyun put away his wallet and Changmin watched regretfully. Sighing heavily, Kyuhyun turned to the door and opened it, “Let’s get going then.”
The Princess reached the door then paused. She glanced back over Donghae and then without another word, both ran out of the store, the door clacking behind them.
“Why did you-”
“Let it go,” Donghae interrupted gruffly as he walked to the back of the store,
“I said let it go!” Donghae exclaimed as he practically threw the empty basket with the others. He disappeared into the back for the remainder of the day.
It was the dead of night when Donghae, clad in black with just a backpack with him, climbed over the high stone gates that surrounded the royal house. He waited a few hours in some hedges before he made his move. He watched the back of the house as the staff and those within slowly went to sleep. The guards, according to the syndicate’s findings, would make hourly rounds of the grounds, so he had to be careful. He glanced towards the balcony where he’d have to sneak into. It was the only way to not alert the rest of the household of his presence.
He remembered the information well, repeating it to himself as he waited in the hedges. The Princesses and Prince occupied the floor of one wing, leaving the rooms of the other wing of that floor to the King. As if to confirm this, around midnight, a lone figure had appeared on the balcony and then after half an hour, retreated back into the house. The syndicate had sent spies to watch the house day in and day out. They had caught glimpses of the Princesses in the one wing. The only sign of life of the other wing was the appearance of the lone figure during midnight. Knowing as the rest of the country did that the King was a widower, that meant that the lone figure had to be the King. After all, why would one of the Princesses or Prince get an entire wing’s floor to themselves?
Donghae watched as the guard disappeared from view then crept out of the bush. After three heart beats, he made a mad dash across the lawn. He reached the back wall of the house quickly and pressed up against the cool wall as his blood pounded loudly in his ears. He scanned the grounds trying to place the guard. He saw no one, hoping that meant that the guard was at the front of the house.
Reaching into his backpack and extracted a metal claw and rope. Tying them securely together, he tossed the claw to the balcony and slowly pulled on the rope, hoping it would catch one of the rails of the balcony. He heard the telling sound of metal hitting metal and tugged on the rope just to be sure. Closing his bag and slipping it back to his back, he grasped the rope with both hands and propped the first foot against the house wall.
Slowly, he ascended, his grip tightening on the rope with every inch he went higher. He prayed his boots would stay firmly planted on the wall, prayed his shaking body wouldn’t lose strength. Before he realized it, he was abreast with the balcony. Climbing over, he landed with a soft thud. He lay on the balcony for a moment, listening and watching. The grounds were extensive and even if the guard had completed the front yards, the next guard wouldn’t do his rounds again for at least another fifteen minutes.
Quickly, Donghae rolled up the rope and claw but left it out so he could use it again quickly after he was done. Pulling out the dagger he would use since guns could be traced back, he left his bag on the balcony, lying so it was hidden from view from the guards. Quietly, he approached the doors and tried the handle of one of them. It turned quietly and Donghae slowly eased the door open. The curtains had been left open, so Donghae didn’t have to worry about flooding the room suddenly with moonlight. He smiled as his boots stepped on carpeted floors, this was going to be too easy.
With the balcony filling the room with moonlight, Donghae was able to easily manoeuvre through the room quickly and quietly. He approached the four-post bed, the thick curtains hanging, shrouding the bed in shadows. Gripping the dagger tightly, he reached the bedside, a plump form beneath the blankets. raised it, then swallowed hard. He didn’t want to do this, could barely believe he had gotten as far as he did. Maybe he could leave without being detected? Maybe he could go back to the syndicate and tell them he was caught before he reached the house and had to escape? Releasing a slow breath, he lowered his arm to his side.
Donghae began to turn back to the balcony when he was suddenly shoved up against a post at the head of the bed. His back made fierce contact with it and he barely choked down a pained groan. He found he couldn’t breath and opened his eyes. A forearm was pressed tightly against his neck as something poked his stomach menacingly. He looked down as best he could and saw moonlight glint off metal. A sword?
“What do you think you’re doing?” The voice was low and threatening.
Donghae blinked as he raised his eyes and found himself staring at the Princess. He gaped at her, clad in a simple robe, hair loosely tied back and her beautiful eyes narrowed dangerously at him. Finally, he found his voice and was able to talk,
“Isn’t… this isn’t the King’s room?” Donghae managed,
The Princess blinked before scowling, “No, it’s mine.”
“But… the other Princesses and the Prince are in the other wing,” Donghae stated,
“I know. This entire wing for this floor is mine,” She replied. She pressed her forearm against his neck more, “Now tell me why you’re here.”
Donghae could barely formulate any words. For the second time that day, he found himself face to face with the Princess. This time, her arm was against his neck and even though he could only feel it, he knew it was well toned and strong.
“I… I was sent to kill the King,” Donghae admitted finally, his eyes dropping from her face. He could barely hide it when she had probably seen the whole thing, “But… but I…” He suddenly found it hard to talk as he realized where he was staring.
The Princess’ robe was loosely tied at the waist, but the top half gaped open. The moonlight trickled in and Donghae found himself staring at a span of skin, whitened and silvered by the night light. He blinked, the skin was flat but if that was her chest… As if sensing his eyes, the Princess stepped back, using her free hand to pull her robe close as her other raised the sword at Donghae.
Finally, Donghae raised his eyes and locked with the Princess’, her eyes wide and wary.
“You’re… a prince?”
(Chapter 2: What I Hope to Be)