In the morning, Eun Soo did not remember much of the night before. When she woke up, she found a dressed and ready for the day General, patiently waiting by her side.
He asked her tenderly, "Did you sleep well?"
Yawning and covering her eyes from the bright sun, she groaned, "Did I drink a lot last night? I have a headache. Do you guys have hangover soup here?"
"Not that I know of. But here, drink this, it should help." He prompted her to sit up, and gently holding her, as if she was ill, held out a bowl with a hazy concoction. She made a noise of disgust and averted her nose. "Don't be a baby," and he nudged her toward the bowl.
After swallowing the mixture, which did not taste as bad as it smelled, she apologized, "You are always nursing me to health. Sorry."
"I learned from the best, you are quite a skillful doctor after all."
The day started with lighthearted jokes and they continued getting along well, as if there was no five year gap, they easily picked up right where they left off. Being next to each was a big enough reward, and they both were very careful to break the spell.
When they came downstairs, the tavern was empty. No more boisterous Woodalchi gang. Eun Soo looked disappointed. "Where are the boys? I was hoping to see them again."
"They needed to attend to something. You will see plenty of them in the future, don't worry. Is there anything you want to do? Go anywhere?"
Eun Soo paused, "When do you have to return to your duties?"
"I'm presuming in a week or so. I will let the King know my whereabouts, we had an agreement, but otherwise, we can spend some time together, just the two of us, if you don't mind."
"Not at all," she jumped in quickly. "I just don't want to make it difficult on you again."
"Imja," sounding firm and gentle at the same time, only Choi Young had the ability to convey both simultaneously, "I don't want you to EVER think like that or talk like that." He had to bend a little to level with her face, looking at her eyes, "Agreed?"
"Agreed. Then can we go to your fishing shack? Remember you took me there on a date. This was the only place where we were a normal couple. I'd like to start from there."
It was a perfect idea. Some peace and quiet in the country side.
. . .
They went for a walk, holding hands and admiring the scenery. Sitting on the grassy field, they watched the clouds, naming their shapes. They took a nap under the warm afternoon sun and snacked on some rice cakes and berries, making fun of blue and black stained lips afterwards. They returned to the little house by the river before it got dark and sat on the riverbank by the stone that still had a carving with their names on it, watching the sunset lit the sky with brilliant colors of reds and pinks till it turned into dark purple. First stars could be seen, and it soon got chilly. Choi Young brought out blankets and they both huddled underneath them, their bodies keeping warmth closely, her hugging him at the waist, him hugging her around the shoulders, fitting perfectly together.
"Imja," he broke the silence, "what are you thinking about now?"
"You. Us. How we are now, how we will be, how everything around us changes, like day turns into night, warm turns into cold, but we refuse to change. We are the same in how much we love each other," as if to seal this statement, she kissed his hand, since it was the closest to her lips, and then turning her head, buried it into his chest, kissing him through the tunic.
He softly petted her hair and returned warm kisses on the top of her head, "I was thinking about having a wedding. Would you like to have one?"
"Yes," she whispered into him. "I would like to have a wedding, a small one. I want to invite the King and the Queen, Aunty Choi, Do Chi with his wife, Deo Gi, the warrior maidens, Woodalchi… I want to be surrounded by flowers and to have music… We would say our own wows and exchange rings. Then everybody would celebrate with a sit down feast and dancing!"
Choi Young could hear each word resonating in his heart, keeping his lips now hidden in Eun Soo's hair, he was motionless, just inhaling her scent.
"And then we will go on a honeymoon, somewhere pretty, exotic, maybe the ocean, maybe a seashore, maybe some place else. We will be alone and we could make love any time we like, day or night and forget about everything in the world."
He felt his chest wet with her tear. "Why are you crying?"
"Because it is too beautiful, like a dream. Because being here with you right now, like this is the most I've had in a long time, because I wish you to experience so much happiness to make up for all the lost years, because I want to share my tears with you, because…" she continued softly sobbing into his chest, now completely soaked in her tears.
"Honey, can I call you that, too?" He pulled her into a tighter embrace, "I only waited for you for a few years, YOU had to wait for me for HUNDREDS. Cry as much as you want, I'll hold you." He added, "I'm truly happy. I do not need to go anywhere to feel that, I have it all right here", he touched her face, wiping the tears. "I think the wedding will be as beautiful as you imagine."