A/N: This story has been months in the making and would not be possible without the help of my dear friend, NerwenT. I know she thinks I'm crazy to post this story so soon as it is only outlined and partially written, and she is concerned that I'll be stressed with keeping up with everything, but I just got too impatient. I'm very excited about this story, so I hope you will all enjoy. I will do my best to update it every 2-3 weeks. I will also be keeping up with my other stories, so some weeks you may get multiple updates from me if you are reading multiple stories. For those keeping track, my next update will be either GGABB or HE, whichever one I finish first. And I'll go in order from there. I am going to try to finish HE and GGABB this month, but I may just be dreaming, haha. HE is close to finished, and GGABB, well, sadly, my ideas are drying up on this one, but I do have a plan for ending it nicely in maybe about 5 chapters. Again, special thanks to NerwenT for enduring so many hours of listening to me talk about this story and reading excerpts of it. Thank you for your support and invaluable feedback! Gomawo, chingu!
Disclaimer: I do not own the BOF characters, but I have created some new, original ones to interact with them. Also, this story is pure AU, so it does not follow anything from Boys Over Flowers, aside from the names of the characters and their rough personalities. They will also seem slightly different in this story. But I will probably throw in some BOF parallels and such, and some of the other BOF characters, aside from Jan Di and Ji Hoo, are likely to appear in this, so keep a lookout for them.
I hope you enjoy, and please let me know your thoughts! Thanks to all who have been patient regarding my other stories, and I hope you'll continue to do so! Sometimes I just have to run with what I'm inspired for, and I've been very inspired for this story. I honestly believe it could be my best one yet, and I have hopes of turning it into an original novel someday.
Prologue: Unbreakable Bonds
So the saying goes that motherhood is the most rewarding experience in life, that there is no greater gift than a child, and mother and child have a special, unbreakable bond. This is exactly what I have with my Soo Yun. Just as her name suggests, Soo Yun is my perfect lotus blossom, able to clear even the muddiest of the waters of my days. Until her, I never knew such a powerful love could exist. Sure, I love my eomma, my appa, my namdongsaeng... But Soo Yun...I would move mountains, swim the entire Pacific Ocean, and go to hell and back for my little flower.
I can remember a time when I was so full of fear and doubts that I didn't feel like going on, but after experiencing the most indescribable pain of my life, I saw her little face...I touched her soft skin and held her in my arms, and then I knew...I knew that I had never—and would never—love anyone as much as her. I couldn't even imagine coming close to that kind of love again in this lifetime.
Geum Soo Yun's features are as delicate and beautiful as the blossom of her namesake; I love her dark cocoa hair and her honey eyes, which sparkle with both the sweetness and spunk inside of her. Occasionally, she will get angry with Eomma, and I will see those eyes blaze with the fire of a thousand suns and suddenly darken as if an eclipse has covered them. It is then that I know to prepare for a tantrum of catastrophic proportions—she'll explode, raising her voice and stomping her small foot. Soo Yun's voice could blow the roof off a building with ease, but afterward, she always gets eerily quiet, and her lovely eyes return to their normal shade. When that happens, she will run up to me and throw her arms around my waist; I'll get down on her level and allow her to kiss my cheeks while she cries and repeats 'mianhae' over and over for being a bad girl. To be honest, the girl is like water flowing from a faucet—able to go from scalding hot to ice cold in seconds, but there is always a pleasant warmth in between. Thankfully, her tantrums are much rarer now that she has reached the age of 7.
Soo Yun is passionate about so many things in life. She loves birds and butterflies, flowers and trees—anything to do with nature, really. She loves to dance and sing at the top of her lungs, no matter where we are or who is around. She also loves makeup. Basically, she loves everything a typical little girl loves. As for me, I was a tomboy as a child, and I thought she might inherit that from me, but she didn't. She is as girly as they come.
My daughter goes through her phases like many children do. Last year, she was obsessed with the night sky and stars. So, I saved up to buy her a fairly decent telescope for her birthday, and we went out almost every night for a month to stargaze together. But Soo Yun's interests can come and go like the seasons. She can be completely obsessed with something for a period of time and suddenly move on to a new interest. She never forgets those old ones, though. It's as if they remain locked away in a special chest in her mind that she occasionally opens up to look at.
Soo Yun continues to be fascinated by the sky and how birds fly. I sometimes wonder if she will become an astronomer or something in aeronautics because she could lie on the ground and just stare up at the sky for hours. And we have done this before...
The first time, I felt a bit foolish, lying in the cool grass in the park and looking up at the blue sky, but after a few minutes, I didn't care how silly we looked. It was peaceful, and I was with my favorite person in the world. That time, I recall taking my five-year-old daughter's small hand and smiling at her, feeling as if there was no better moment than this. Then I returned my gaze to above. A few white, puffy clouds dotted the sky, and I began pointing to them, asking what they looked like to her. Soo Yun enjoyed this game, and she came up with the most creative answers…
I'll never forget that she called one of the clouds a sheep-pig—a cross between a sheep and a pig. And she asked me that day if such a thing existed. I said that I wasn't sure, and a sad expression crossed her face. I made up for this by telling her that I probably didn't know about them because I'd never traveled to the land where the sheep-pigs live because it's so far away. She then begged for me to take her to see the sheep-pigs, and I told her that I would try to make that happen someday. I hated the idea of disappointing her and fibbing to her like that, and I hoped that she'd just forget all about the imaginary creatures, but that wasn't likely. She had the memory of an elephant, so I knew she'd probably ask to go there on our next vacation together.
As for me, I am Geum Jan Di, a mother first, but I am also a doctor. I admit that I have hopes that Soo Yun might become one, too, someday, not because I would ever push something on her that she didn't want to do but because I've seen her imitating me. Once, she had a doll that she'd placed about twenty bandages on, and she was repeating exactly what I'd said to a patient at the free clinic. I was touched. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all. That day, she'd been forced to tag along with me at work because there was no one to watch her, but she didn't mind and kept herself occupied. And fortunately, a close friend of mine from the hospital was able to help watch her. He'd often come to my aid in such a way.
Being a doctor is not always easy or cohesive with my motherly duties, and I love and hate it, probably in equal measure. I love it because it's my passion and I can help people, but I hate it because it's stressful, downright exhausting, and it often takes me away from the most precious person in my world. So, I'm not always sure I want Soo Yun to take up my mantle, even though she'd make an amazing doctor. Given her passion and tenacity, I'm sure she could be so much better than me someday.
My daughter is also very loving; she expresses her feelings easily, and she often brags about me. On the first day of daycare, I remember lingering behind a corner before leaving. I just couldn't bring myself to go yet, even though I knew my little girl was in the best possible care—in the gentle, loving hands of none other than my best friend, Chu Ga Eul, who ran the small school and daycare only a mile from our house.
That day, when Soo Yun thought I'd left, the first thing she did was waltz up to another little girl, toss her long braid back over her shoulder, and bow. The very next thing she did was to introduce herself. "I'm Geum Soo Yun. What's your name?" But she never gave the kid a chance to answer and instead started babbling, "My eomma is Dr. Geum Jan Di. She's a doctor, you know? She works in a hospital. She saves people's lives. She's really smart and beautiful. My eomma is the best! What's your eomma like?"
I had to stifle my laughter, and I placed a hand over my heart, being so touched by her words. I then watched Soo Yun put her hands on her tiny hips while the other girl stared at her in confusion. Soo Yun often evoked that kind of reaction from people when she first met them because not everyone understood her. Regardless, she would say whatever she wanted to whomever you wanted. To my relief, the girl finally bowed and introduced herself, and she started talking about her mother. The two of them have been best friends ever since, and I'm really grateful for that.
Getting down to it, as much as I love being a mother, raising my precious girl without a father was no easy task. I never regretted her conception, not really, but I do recall a much darker time when I questioned everything that was happening to me. I recall, just after finding out that I was pregnant, bawling to my mother at barely the age of 19 about how I couldn't handle it, how I couldn't possibly do it alone. Na Gong Ju responded with a swift slap to my face, and that was enough to let me know I was being childish and foolish. Her slap said it all－that whether I thought I could handle it or not, it didn't matter. I HAD to handle it. I was going to be a mother. And no matter what was going on in my life or what I wanted, it didn't matter. The only thing that mattered was that I had life growing inside me, and that came with a huge responsibility that I couldn't shirk. So, I rose to the challenge, and being a mother became my primary purpose for existence. Looking back on it now, I am ashamed of that moment of weakness, but it was also a turning point for me; it was the moment I went from being a child to an adult.
Regardless of what anyone says about it, motherhood is not easy, by any stretch of the imagination. Even to say it's difficult is the understatement of the century, and the first year was pure hell, in fact. I kept telling myself that it would get easier, and eventually, it did. I even managed to attend medical school despite having this new beautiful burden...That was how I felt at first, overburdened, punished, even, and I felt shame over that, too.
Getting through med school with a child at home seemed an impossible task, one I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy, but I made it! I definitely didn't do it alone, though. I never would've made it without the help of my family and a few friends, and I am forever thankful.
Soo Yun and I eventually got into a good routine, and I came to cherish our time together. In fact, when I was away from her I missed her so much, every second...I still do. We lived and grew together－I can't believe she is nearly 8, now－and we have been really happy. She is the great love of my life, a title I have never given to a man, even Soo Yun's father...
As for my love life, well that has been pretty much non-existent. Serious surgeons and mothers can't really afford such a luxury. Oh, I dated a few men after her father, but it never went very far, a few dates, at most, before my job or life got in the way. And only one of those men ever met Soo Yun because I wouldn't bring just anyone into my daughter's life.
Most of the time I was without a man, but I wouldn't say that I was lonely for companionship—because I had Soo Yun. She was all I needed; that's what I told myself, but I admit that there were nights when I longed to be in the strong arms of a man, to be held and protected. It wasn't like I needed protection, but it would have been nice to have someone look out for me for a change. That is the one desire in my life that my dearest Soo Yun can't fulfill, but it's okay because she remains my greatest accomplishment－and the one thing in this world I need to be truly happy.
I'd told myself for a long time that there was no need or place for anyone else in our world, but life is mysterious sometimes. It likes to catch you off-guard and trip you up when you least expect it. I certainly didn't foresee what was to come or how our whole world would flip upside down when Yoon Ji Hoo walked into our life...