Adagio - Chapter 2
Her vision blacked-out for a moment. She couldn’t think of a proper excuse for bringing a weapon into the bridal chamber.
Mu-eun gave her a strange look. Her mien and tone were oddly placid for someone determined to die. Neither was she gloomy nor doleful.
He knew why she had a hidden weapon, so he didn’t want to entertain any of her excuses. As a protected lady who had never crossed the safe threshold of her house, she must have construed an image of the Yeon family house to be a lair of demons. So she’d rather rely on such a crude blade.
“I’ll cover up today’s affair.”
Ha-young’s face lit up with joy, but the man’s eyes were frigid.
“I’ll be taking this, and will take care of it. “
Ha-young was dispirited as she watched him coldly turn away from her. It was not something that could be resolved by just clearing up the misunderstanding. Seeing how he was reluctant to enter the bridal chamber, it seemed that he had now a good reason to run away.
Mu-eun who had walked long enough to have almost crossed the room, stopped at once as if he had turned into stone.
“Do you have any idea as to how many eyes are watching this wedding?”
Ha-young, who was nervous that he would ignore her and walk out, became relieved when he slowly turned back.
“Even the slightest hitch will turn into a big rumor and in no time will be on the grapevine. If you leave the bridal chamber like this, the news will surely cross the threshold and by tomorrow, everyone in the city will know about it.”
‘A bride who was abandoned on her wedding night,’ she didn’t want to be humiliated like that.
During the ceremony earlier, she had made up her mind. If she was to anyhow live as the daughter-in-law of the Yeon family, then she would do so while having the proper treatment and respect so deserved by the daughter-in-law of the Yeon family.
Ha-young became distressed when she gazed at his expressionless face. It was as if he was asking, ‘So what? Why should I be concerned about others?’
‘Sure, for this person, my worries would mean nothing.’
After all, it was a marriage that neither the two families nor the parties involved wished to begin with.
She had heard that he had a particular aversion to this marriage. There were even rumors that he had rushed to the palace to appeal to the king. As per the rumors, he had even kowtowed and knocked his forehead on the floor, begging the king to rescind the order, but that had only gotten him locked in the storehouse instead.
When she had gotten wind of those rumors, her pride had been deeply hurt. She had snorted, “Do you think I also want to marry you? I don’t like you either.” She didn’t like how he was trying so hard to have this marriage annulled, but sadly her feelings didn’t matter.
What could she really do? Since that day, she didn’t have much faith in this marriage.
To protect her honor, Ha-young decided to appeal rather than make up another excuse.
“What if those rumors pass through the walls of the Royal Palace? The king might get furious and think that of it as us belittling him. If that happens, it will be very difficult for the two families to avoid misfortune. The fate of the two families lies on this marriage.”
The form of address he had heard, kept ringing in Mu-eun’s ears. It was natural that any wife would address her husband as such, but for some reason, it felt amazing when it came out of her mouth so easily.
He had tried to stall for time as much as possible, but he had to concede to the urging voices and had no choice but to enter the bridal chamber. He imagined that she would be weeping and wanted to give her enough time to cry.
But compared to the scene he just witnessed, it would have been better if she was crying.
It was weird. His bride’s eyes were clear and held no despair in them. Her eyes, now looking at him, were so clear that it seemed as if they were urging him, ‘Don’t be irresponsible.’
He turned around and walked back into the room. He approached Ha-young and then sat in front of her.
“Just as wife said…”
Mu-eun stopped talking and made a strange expression as if he was surprised by what he had said.
“There are indeed a lot of eyes watching us right now. Even the royal palace’s eyes are lurking outside. It would be not just for today, but will probably continue for a while.”1
Since the two families had been enemies for a long time, the previous kings constantly tried to reconcile them. The kings wanted to bring both families to their side. It was worth the effort because it was rare to find loyal and competent aides who could be completely trusted.
Mu-eun recalled the advice the Crown Prince gave him when he entered the palace a few days ago.
“The marriage, is it really happening?”
“Are the two families plotting something while pretending to go through this marriage?”
“How can you make such baseless accusations, Your Highness?”
“Well, the Governor is a very suspicious man. If you’re really pretending, better act it out well. There will be eyes watching your every move.”
“No way… I never thought it would be like this.”
Ha-young muttered with a nervous look. Now knowing that there were indeed eyes watching them, her voice became smaller, afraid that someone would eavesdrop. She furrowed her eyebrows and reproached him.
“If you knew this, then how could you leave like that?”
At her words, Mu-eun stretched out his hand to show her the Jang-do held in his palm.
“And whose fault is that?”
“I told you it was a misunderstanding.”
Mu-eun said with a smile.
“Okay, if you say so.”
Ha-young’s annoyance could be seen on her face.
Even though he put it that way, he did believe Ha-young’s words. There were no traces of any tears near her eyes.
It was totally unexpected. He had heard that she had tried to hang herself and poison herself to death. He didn’t know the exact story behind it, but several rumors were going around that the Ju family’s youngest daughter wanted to take her life. For a while, practitioners kept frequently visiting the Ju family’s house. And around that time, no-one had seen Ha-young for over half a year, so he had assumed it not to be a false rumor.
“… Is your family that precious to you that you are ready to persevere through this?”
The person, who wanted to die because she didn’t like this marriage, had changed her mind for the sake of her family.
As Ha-young didn’t know what exactly he was trying to ask her with this question, she answered carefully.
“Even though I’ve now become the daughter-in-law of the Yeon family, I won’t give up my identity, as I was born and raised in the Ju family. I will make sure that I do not bring any harm to both families.”
Of course, the family in which she was born and raised, was precious to her. However, she hadn’t accepted this marriage bearing any resentment or thoughts of sacrificing herself for her family.
She knew crying and lamenting over the situation would not change anything. If it was an irresistible fate, she decided not to succumb and give in to what others wished of her.
Aside from the fact that their families had a bad relationship, the Yeon family was actually a very good marriage prospect. The biggest advantage was that her family home was in close proximity, so she could quickly gather any news from them.
However, Ha-young was the type of person who advocated fairness. She hoped that the person who would be her husband would have a little sense of responsibility.
The words and actions of the second son of the Yeon family, who carried the family’s prestige on his back, were very fierce and rough. Having the crown prince as his childhood friend also gave him a strong backing, making it hard for one to look down upon him.
It was said that it wasn’t once or twice that his family had to settle the accidents he created in his drunken frenzy. He would also act recklessly and hang out with thugs, giving his family quite a headache.
Ha-young didn’t believe all the rumors she had heard. From the rumors she had heard from her handmaidens, he was considered a crass and thoughtless person. She knew they were mostly bluffing or exaggerating, but at the same time, she couldn’t help but think that there might be a good reason for such rumors.
Ha-young wasn’t the type of person who could say that she could grasp a person’s character with only a few exchanges of words. But she felt disconcerted. He didn’t appear as the hot-headed violent man in the rumors, but rather seemed like a decent person who knew how to control his emotions.
“… Just like Husband, I also value my family.”
Mu-eun didn’t say anything for a moment.
“What should I do to make you believe that there is no deception in this marriage?”
“Would you feel assured if we have a child?”
Ha-young, who tried to answer casually, shut her mouth and avoided his gaze. She suddenly felt suffocated when she remembered the preceding process needed to give birth to a child. She was frightened when his hand approached her.
Mu-eun said with his hands stretched forward.
“I’ll lower the Hwagwan2.”
Ha-young nodded stiffly and cast her eyes down. As the weight of the Hwangwan on her head disappeared, her hair, which had been twisted and raised in a bundle, fell on her shoulders. After a while, his hand approached her chest, making Ha-young flinch and tightly grip the front of her blouse.
The light was dim, suiting the atmosphere of the bridal chamber. Nevertheless, she was nervous because everything could be seen very well.
He answered softly and gently removed her tightly held hand. Ha-young felt helpless and vulnerable.
If it was coercive, she would have tried to defend herself. But his touch was polite. It even seemed cautious. She was confused about how to respond because if she refused, she knew he would surely step back.
Ha-young quietly entrusted her body to him. His hands gradually moved more and more without any hesitation. Her heart beat faster, as the layers of the robes wrapped around her body, were peeled off one by one. Keeping her eyes fixed on the swaying lantern, Ha-young again requested,
“Light… Please turn off the lights.”
->Mu-eun repeats Ha-young’s words but the ‘watching’ that he’s talking about is different from what Ha-young meant. Ha-young was just talking about people looking for gossip but Mu-eun here tells her that there are spies outside watching them.
->Hwagwan is a type of Korean coronet worn by women, traditionally for ceremonial occasions such as weddings.