Title: Eternity (1/?)
Genre(s): romance, fluff, drama, angst, humor
Summary: Set in the summer of 1913 when Eunsook is 18 and Gwiboon is 16. Eunsook and her mother work year round at the Kim’s summer home. Eunsook and Gwiboon have been friends since they were little girls- each summer bringing them closer. Eunsook finds herself falling deeper and deeper in love with Gwiboon, though she knows that she’s meant to fall for a man.
Eunsook rushed across the grass to heed her mother’s call. She had been down at the docks, unable to keep from daydreaming, though she knew that today was the worst day she could have chosen to disappear on her mother. Today was the day that the Kim’s came to their summer house to spend three full months. It was important that everything was absolutely impeccable for their arrival so Eunsook’s mother was understandably a bit stressed out.
It was the eighteenth summer of Eunsook’s life and the twelfth since she had lived on the island. After her father died when she was six, her mother had gotten the job of being a full-time maid at the Kim’s summer house with the help of one of her father’s colleagues. Eunsook’s mother had immediately moved herself and her daughter to the island in the year of 1901 where they had remained ever since as the only full-time maids in the estate. Even when the Kim’s were in their primary home during the other three seasons, Eunsook and her mother stayed in the guest cottage to maintain the house while three men stayed in the servant’s quarters to maintain the land.
Though the rest of the year was much more relaxed than the summer and Eunsook could almost imagine that she and her mother were the owners of the magnificent house, she counted the days until the summer began and the Kim’s returned to their summer home. And today was the day: the day that Eunsook got to see Gwiboon.
Gwiboon was the only daughter of the powerful Kim family and she was the only friend that Eunsook had ever known. But Eunsook was adamant that she wouldn’t hold such a fondness for just anyone, even if they were her only friend. Gwiboon was…special. She was absolutely gorgeous, for one thing, with alabaster skin and perfect bone structure. She was also witty and interesting, never running out of compelling stories to tell Eunsook late at night. And she had an adventurous spirit. Despite the fact that she was so careful of her appearance, she was always the one to suggest that they go and explore the woods or jump in the lake with their dresses on.
Eunsook had a great amount of admiration for the younger girl which had only grown over the years. Being close to Gwiboon’s age, Eunsook had been assigned as Gwiboon’s personal maid since the time that she was ten and Gwiboon was eight. Even then Gwiboon had been alluring, keeping Eunsook up until the wee hours of the morning with her tales of city life. And Eunsook had always been an eager audience, hanging onto every word. During the day, the two would explore the grounds, making up fantastical stories about ghosts that haunted the house and woods.
Eunsook treasured Gwiboon’s friendship more than anything else in the world, but her feelings for the younger girl evolved over the years into something more- something that Eunsook herself couldn’t explain. Though she’d never experienced the normal life of a teenage girl, she knew that she was supposed to fall in love with a man like the women in the romance novels that she and Gwiboon would steal from the library when no one was looking. But, instead, she found herself in love with Gwiboon. And she was absolutely sure that no man would ever be able capture her heart in the same way.
Eunsook stood on the creaking dock, watching with eager eyes as the ferry that brought the Kim’s over got closer and closer with each passing second. Just knowing that Gwiboon was so close after so many months made her heart pound against her chest. She clasped her trembling hands in front of her and tried to look like the professional that she was- pretending that she was only here because duty called for it just like the male servants who were waiting as well to carry luggage.
As the ferry got closer, Eunsook swept her eyes over the deck, hoping to catch a glimpse of the girl who made her life brighter, but so far she could just see Gwiboon’s father and the man driving the boat. For a brief moment, Eunsook felt panic spread through her chest. What if Gwiboon didn’t come this year? What if she had to stay in the city to take an extra class? What if she opted to stay home to spend time with her real friends? Eunsook was certain that she wouldn’t be able to hold back her tears if she was given such news.
Fortunately, the next moment, she saw a lithe woman walk up to the rail and look out over the water, figure-hugging dress giving her a beautiful silhouette against the horizon. And it was Gwiboon- her chocolate ringlets blowing out behind her in the breeze. Eunsook felt her breath catch at the sight. Even from far away, she could tell that Gwiboon was even more beautiful than she had been the previous year.
It seemed to take an eternity, but the ferry finally pulled up to the dock, one of the men who worked on the boat jumping off to tie it to the wharf. Gwiboon’s parents exited the ferry first, nodding politely at the help and proceeding to make their way up the wooden stairs that led to the lodge. Eunsook’s eyes stayed glued to Gwiboon’s form even before the younger girl had spotted her- watching as she gracefully accepted the young boatman’s hand as he helped her off the lightly rocking boat. Gwiboon shot him her winning smile before she turned and caught sight of Eunsook for the first time.
Her smile stretched even further, her eyes brightening immediately as she raced forward and encased Eunsook in an enthusiastic hug, the older girl finding her arms winding around Gwiboon before she even processed the situation- heart jumping in her chest at finally being with the other girl again.
Gwiboon pulled back, examining Eunsook’s face- eyes sparkling. Eunsook looked at her in turn, taking in the feline eyes, sculpted cheekbones, and rosebud pout. She was the most gorgeous creature that Eunsook had ever seen.
“Did you miss me?” Gwiboon asked, her lips forming a slight pout as she noticed that Eunsook’s lips weren’t stretched in her usual, warm smile.
“O-of course I did,” Eunsook stuttered, finally coming to her senses enough to beam at the younger girl. Gwiboon grinned back, reaching down to lace their fingers together as they had done ever since they were little girls.
Just then, an exclamation was heard by the boat, dragging both of their eyes away from one another. Gwiboon immediately scoffed in annoyance when she saw what the commotion was about. Her brother Jonghyun, who was one year her senior, was trying to get off the boat, but had somehow managed to stumble, almost landing face-first in the water. He scowled as he regained his footing, trying to shake off the embarrassment of having everyone watching him at such a clumsy moment.
“How do you manage to make a scene no matter where you go?” Gwiboon huffed, squinting into the setting sun at her brother.
“It’s not my fault that no one helped me
off the boat!” he pouted, looking a bit like a kicked puppy. Gwiboon sighed.
“Why don’t you just go find umma and appa,” Gwiboon suggested, gesturing lazily at the house.
“I haven’t even gotten to greet Eunsook yet,” he replied, eyes no longer on his sister as he turned on the charm- lips forming a cocky smirk that probably had most girls falling over themselves, “You are looking even more lovely than the last time I saw you.”
Eunsook blushed- not because she was wooed by the younger boy’s flattery, but from the excessive amount of attention she was receiving. Besides, she knew that Jonghyun didn’t actually have feelings for her. He was just bored now that he didn’t have droves of girls at parties to flirt with.
“Stop hitting on her!” Gwiboon ordered, pulling at Eunsook’s hand so she was partially hidden behind the younger girl, “You’re making her uncomfortable.”
“I wasn’t!” Jonghyun insisted, holding his hands up and trying to look defiant, but he somehow always looked like a puppy. At least to Eunsook.
Truthfully, she quite liked Jonghyun and fancied him a younger brother of sorts, but she was in no way interested in him like that. She just had to wait for about a week before he started to treat her the same way he treated Gwiboon.
“Anyway, Eunsook and I are going to go up to my room,” Gwiboon announced, pulling at Eunsook’s hand and dragging her up the stairs in excitement- leaving Jonghyun standing awkwardly on the dock, trying not to get in the way of the servants.
“I missed it here,” Gwiboon sighed, flopping back on her bed and causing the wrought iron frame to creak under her weight.
Gwiboon’s room was perfect- the best in the whole lodge. At least according to her. She loved it more than the rustic dining room with giant picture windows that looked out on the water. She thought it was better than the library with the big stone fireplace. And she thought it was far superior to the master bedroom with the mahogany wooden floors and vaulted ceiling. It was less spectacular, perhaps, but it was absolutely perfect.
The walls were covered in pink and blue flowered wall paper and the windows were adorned with white lace curtains held back with pink ribbons. The white, wrought iron bed stood centered against the back wall, a hand-painted bedside table next to it that matched the dresser and desk. White book shelves framed the doorway, filled with Gwiboon’s favorite tomes. Various paintings hung on the wall- all feminine and fitting to the girl who occupied the space. The attached bathroom had seafoam-colored fixtures and sheer curtains that billowed in the wind that came through the usually-open window.
The room was Gwiboon through and through. And Eunsook loved the space, though she always turned down the other girl’s offers for her to use it during the other three seasons. The older girl feared that she’d erase Gwiboon’s essence that seemed to cling to each surface all year, giving Eunsook some comfort when she missed the younger girl terribly.
“It’s not the same without you,” Eunsook commented shyly, fingering the book bindings. Gwiboon smiled softly.
“Come over here,” she patted the bed, scooting over so there was room for the older girl. Eunsook climbed next to Gwiboon, still overwhelmed by the euphoria of seeing her again after so long.
“Dinner will be served soon,” Eunsook said, allowing Gwiboon to push her back so she was resting against the fluffy pillows that were too soft for her taste, but were just right for the other girl.
“I know,” Gwiboon sighed, “but I just want to stay here like this.”
“We have all summer to do this,” Eunsook assured her.
“I know, but it’s never long enough.”
And it wasn’t.