This chapter of Lost You Forever is delicious because it’s lifted straight from a romance novel’s heart thumping goodness, i.e. there’s making out straight ahead. It’s also a Jing-centric chapter and one that is much needed ever since Xiang Liu debuted his Fang Feng Bei alter ego and waltzed into Xiao Yao’s life and sorta parked himself in her heart in a different capacity than Jing. She still has her fifteen year promise with Jing so I’m not expecting her to waver for either Xiang Liu or any other man, and honestly if she weren’t so burnt by familial betrayal I would think she would be willing to wait for Jing forever. He’s so into her and the poor guy is pretty much counting the seconds until he can get rid of that Fang Feng Yi Yang engagement for good. I don’t mind him being engaged, it’s a burden he has to bear much like his scars, and Xiao Yao’s giving him a legit chance to take care of it. If he can’t get rid of Yi Yang either by methods upstanding (a broken engagement) and dastardly (taking her out), then he can’t be with Xiao Yao no matter how long she is willing to wait. Our girl is a Princess and a concubine is not in her cards, nor is it in her nature. She’s a one-man kind of woman, which I totally respect about her, but for the fact that I want to tell her that she already loves three guys in three ways even if she doesn’t quite realize it. I also love this more chapter more upon rereading for the translation because what’s coming in upcoming chapters is pretty much all hell breaks loose action packed. It’s nice to have a bit of breather, and this one is lyrical and lovely, romantic and stirring. It elevates Xiao Yao and Jing’s romance from the more chaste sedate variety to a decidedly passionate one.
Chapter 20 – The Time is Quiet Spending it With You:
At dawn the next day, Xiao Yao moved into Little Zhu Rong’s residence.
Xiao Yao initially wanted to bring only Shan Hu as her maid but Zhuan Xu gave her another maid called Miao Pu. Xiao Yao guessed she was a trained guard so accepted her without fuss quietly.
Xing Yue knew Xiao Yao’s personality was rather odd and Zhuan Xu reminded her carefully not to restrict Xiao Yao so Xing Yue assigned her to her own side courtyard. Other than Xiao Yao’s two maids and the two cleaning ladies, there was no one else in that court.
Xiao Yao was very pleased with Xing Yue’s arrangement which relieved Xing Yue. The two maids were left to clean in the court and Xing Yue took Xiao Yao to tour the residence and familiarize her with the estate.
That night Xiao Yao finally met the world renowned Little Zhu Rong who was a tall strongly built handsome man. Likely due to his daily administrative burdens, even when he was mellowly chatting with Xiao Yao there was still exhaustion visible in his tightly furrowed brows.
Little Zhu Rong chatted with Xiao Yao for a bit and asked Xing Yue to take good care of her before leaving.
Xing Yue let out a soft sigh “Was that a bit boring? Don’t worry about my dad, he’s so busy that I see him only every few days, and when he has matters elsewhere it’s not unusual to not see him for a few months. This residence may be large but really I’m the only one home every day.”
Xing Yue grabbed Xiao Yao’s hand “My Gege is also super busy, and since your Gege arrived, he’s been so busy I can’t even catch a shadow. Sometimes I can’t even find someone to talk with me. Now we at least have each other for company.”
Xiao Yao smiled and nodded “Yes.”
Xing Yue said “Even though you’re older than me, but I sometimes feel like I’m the older sister since I fret about everything and you worry about nothing. Don’t be shy with me and treat this place like your own home. Whatever you want or need, just tell me.”
Xiao Yao smiled “What do you mean I worry about nothing, I’ve already thought everything through.” The truth is Xiao Yao wanted nothing which was why Xing Yue thought she didn’t think about anything.
Xiao Yao and Xing Yue had dinner and then chatted for awhile longer.
Xing Yue was very gregarious so told Xiao Yao all about her childhood. Little Zhu Rong controlled the Middle Plains, her Gege was in Chi Sui, and she and her mom lived in Xuan Yuan Castle. She grew up in Xuan Yuan Castle so she had close ties with it and even played in Cao Yun Court before.
Xiao Yao listened and realized that Xing Yue and her mom really were hostages back then. The Yellow Emperor didn’t really trust Little Zhu Rong so even though he was given administration of the Middle Plains, the Yellow Emperor held onto his wife and daughter. Xing Yue must know that as well but she never mentioned it and simply shared all her happy memories of Xuan Yuan Castle. She laughed and Xiao Yao joined in.
After Xing Yue left and Xiao Yao laid down on her pallet, she realized that Xing Yue was her first girlfriend. After pretending to be a man for a few hundred years she never had the chance to be so close with a girl, then when she resumed being a girl her identity was so lofty other girls didn’t dare get close, while Ah Nian was her sister but it was lucky if they weren’t fighting so it wasn’t likely they would have any girl talk like tonight.
This kind of girl talk was different than when Xiao Yao talked to others and she quite liked it.
After settling into Little Zhu Rong’s residence, Xiao Yao felt it not bad at all.
Even though Xing Yue was younger than her, but Xing Yue was a girl for much longer than her. Xiao Yao lacked a woman’s hand growing up so she followed Xing Yue around quite like Xing Yue was her older sister. Xing Yue taught Xiao Yao how to put on make up, discussed how to do her hair, helped paint her nails and told Xiao Yao that men liked to sneak a peak at a girl’s nails so she had to keep it in good condition.
Xiao Yao took out all the flower perfumes she bought in Xuan Yuan Castle and mixed it with herbs to create four unique scents for Xing Yue that she could use in each of the four seasons of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Xing Yue was beyond ecstatic.
Feng Long was very polite and stayed away from Xiao Yao when she first moved in and only until she got familiar with the residence did he sometimes come with Xing Yue to visit her. He was very well-mannered and Xiao Yao treated him as a friend so the three of them got along well and played together without any awkwardness.
After moving in, she could still practice archery since people thought she was learning just for amusement, but she couldn’t make poisons anymore and that made Xiao Yao feel listless. She could only read medicine books and make some medicinal pills which was better than doing nothing.
One day Xiao Yao was mixing medicine when Xing Yue came to find her “I have something to ask your opinion. Jing gege is coming to Zhi Yi and my brother learned with him when they were younger so they are very close. Even though Jing gege has his own residences in Zhi Yi, my brother will invite him to stay with us. I wanted to ask if you would mind?”
Xiao Yao carefully said “This residence is so big, of course the more the merrier.”
Xing Yue clapped “I knew you’d say this. I told my brother that you may seen very cold and aloof and hard to approach, but once you are comfortable with someone you are very easy to get along with.”
Xing Yue added “You keep on working, I’ll send word to my brother and start having Jing gege’s residence here cleaned up. Once he arrives I’ll come find you.”
Xiao Yao looked at the herbs in her hand and suddenly forgot what she was thinking about just now.
Xing Yue came at dusk “Jing gege is staying in the Evergreen Residence filled with evergreens that make the entire place smell fresh. We’ll be dining there tonight to catch up and enjoy the foliage.”
Xiao Yao said “Sure.”
Xing Yue led Xiao Yao there and she asked “Did Yi Yang come as well?”
“No.” Xing Yue stopped and then looked around before saying “It’s just us so I’ll tell you but don’t say this to anyone else.”
Xiao Yao still didn’t understand that when girls gossiped they had to set the stage first so she solemnly said “Understood.”
Xing Yue said in a low voice “Actually Jing gege is very pathetic because Yi Yang doesn’t like him.”
Xiao Yao was stunned “How do you know? Did she tell you?”
“How could Yi Yang say this to me? Jing gege’s mom is from the Tan family and my grandmother is also from the Tan family – my grandmother was his mom’s aunt. Jing gege’s grandmother was from the Chi Sui clan and was the cousin of my grandfather. Jing gege and I are blood relatives. Yi Yang is nothing to us.” Xing Yue’s eyes flashed her disregard “If Yi Yang wasn’t Jing gege’s fiancee, I would never be so close with her.”
“Then how do you know…..”
“When a girl likes a guy she will hide it deep down inside even making it seem like she doesn’t like him. But when she really doesn’t like a guy, no matter how hard she tries to mask it, it’ll slip. One time Jing gege was walking over and he was limping and Yi Yang looked at him coldly……her eyes were filled with disdain so much so that I was shaken to see it. The moment she realized I was looking at her, she warmly walked over to be so considerate towards him. Since then I would keep an eye on her and the more I observed the more I was convinced she didn’t like him.”
Xiao Yao thought only she noticed Yi Yang’s disgust for Jing but even Xing Yue noticed. Yi Yang wasn’t a careless person which went to show just how much she loathed Jing.
Xing Yue said “Another thing that left a deep impression with me was one time we all went to play in the mountains. The guys all went hunting but Jing gege’s leg is what it is so he didn’t go. Yi Yang went with the other girls hunting. Xiao Yao, tell me, if your sweetheart couldn’t go hunting because of his leg injury, what would you do?”
Xiao Yao murmured “I would stay with him.”
Xing Yue said “That’s right! So I think Jing gege is so sad. Later my brother brought back his kill but Yi Yang remained hunting in the mountains. My brother could see Jing gege was all alone and half joked half berated that Jing allowed his woman too much leeway. Even my brother who is pretty clueless about that stuff could see it. No matter how much a girl likes to have fun, if her heart is on a man, then her heart would want to keep him company.”
Xiao Yao asked “If she dislikes him that much, why not end the engagement?”
Xing Yue coldly scoffed “End the engagement? She would never give it up! Yi Yang is very beautiful and capable, the top at everything. But no matter how talented she is, she is still the daughter of the Fang Feng family. The top six families in the Middle Plains wouldn’t even glance at her or give her the time of day. When I was still small, she tried to cozy up to me and became my friend which is when the other powerful daughters reluctantly accepted her. Once people saw her close to us, their opinion of her rose. I don’t even know how it happened that Jing gege’s mom decided on her and engaged her to Jing gege. She immediately changed and was no longer as solicitous towards me. By that time I was grown up so I understood how things worked and accepted that. Since she was the next wife of the Tu Shan clan leader, I figured I needed to keep her in line with me.”
They were almost at the Evergreen Residence and Xing Yue reminded Xiao Yao “Don’t tell anyone!”
Xing Yue had the maids set up the dinner within the evergreen forest likely having done it before. There was an evergreen table setting placed in the center of the forest with a clear view of the forest and the moon.
Jing and Feng Long were already there and each sat on their own table facing each other. Xing Yue walked over with Xiao Yao and since she knew Jing from childhood she sweetly called out “Jing gege.”
Xiao Yao smiled at Feng Long before sitting down next to Jing’s seat. Xing Yue couldn’t ask Xiao Yao to get up so she sat down next to Feng Long.
Xing Yue dismissed all the maids so as to not disturb them.
Feng Long smiled at Xiao Yao and looked at the wine set out “You’ve got a high tolerance so don’t be shy tonight.”
Xiao Yao was already chummy with him so laughed “Stop with the nonsense lest people think I’m an alcoholic.” But then she reached out and poured herself a cup.
Xiao Yao toasted Feng Long and Xing Yue “Thank you both for the hospitality.”
The three of them gulped their wine.
Xiao Yao poured Jing a cup and said nothing other than raise her own cup and he drank with her.
Feng Long toasted Xiao Yao back and she immediately gulped another cup.
Xing Yue laughed “Xiao Yao, you might want to slow down.”
Xiao Yao waved “Don’t worry, out drinking all three of you won’t be a problem.”
Feng Long laughed “Done, I’ll wait and see if you can out drink all three of us combined.”
The maid brought out a zither and Xing Yue said “Normally I would never play my lacking talents in front of Jing gege, but it’s boring to drink without any entertainment. I recently learned a new tune so I’m sorry to showcase my meager skills here.”
Xiao Yao teased “Too bad Zhuan Xu isn’t here and no one can harmonize on the flute with you.”
Xing Yue blushed “I thought you were cold and aloof when we weren’t friends, now we’re friends and you turned out to be such a tease.”
Xiao Yao raised a cup “I’ll take a punishment for teasing little sister.”
Xing Yue sat down in front of the zither and started playing.
Xiao Yao toasted Feng Long three in a row, then toasted Jing three in a row and Feng Long joined in as well. Feng Long then toasted Xiao Yao another three cups in a row. After Xing Yue finished played, Xiao Yao smiled at Feng Long “Tonight you’ll be the first one drunk.”
Feng Long said “Drinking and making merry is no fun without getting drunk. You are a very open drinker so it’s fun to drink with you!”
Xiao Yao said to the maid “Bring the drinking bowls!”
Feng Long was so happy he tossed his cup “Good!”
The maid poured the bowls with wine and Feng Long and Xiao Yao each grabbed one and gulped it down before smiling.
Xing Yue shook her head and said to Jing “My brother was always a lunatic before but with a new one joining him, it’s sure gotten fun around here.”
Feng Long said to Xiao Yao “Another bowl?”
“Sure!” Xiao Yao toasted another bowl with Feng Long.
Feng Long walked to an open spot “I’ll make a lion dance for entertainment.” He waved his hand and a water based lion appeared crouched on the ground as if ready to pounce. Feng Long said to Xing Yue “Little sister.” Xing Yue waved her hand and conjured up a fireball and she tossed it to Feng Long. That was when Xiao Yao realized Xing Yue’s power was fire-based while Feng Long had the rare ability of both water and fire.
Feng Long started kicking the fireball up and down, left and right, and the water lion chased after it like a cat chasing a ball. The fire and water criss-crossed in the air creating a beautiful sight.
Xing Yue would cheat and try to send the fireball into the lion’s mouth but Feng Long would use his power to block it and make the lion keep working to catch it.
Xiao Yao clapped in glee and grabbed another cup of wine when Jing stopped her and asked in a low voice “Are you drinking because you’re happy or because you’re upset?”
Xiao Yao said “I’m happy and upset.” She was upset Yi Yang treated Jing that way, she was happy Yi Yang treated Jing that way.
Jing stared at Xiao Yao in confusion.
Xiao Yao grabbed Jing’s hand in secret and she smiled brilliantly at him, her smile even more luminous than the light show behind her.
Jing stared at her but Xiao Yao turned around and saw Feng Long drunkenly playing with the water lion while Xing Yue giggled and moved the fireball, neither of them looking at them. Xiaon Yao grabbed Jing’s hand hard and pulled him forward while she pushed herself up slightly and quickly kissed him on the cheek.
Xiao Yao felt so sweet and happy and nervous and she quickly looked back to see if Xing Yue noticed and released Jing to casually grab her wine cup. But she didn’t realize that she pulled him hard and released him fast, plus Jing’s mind was blank in that instant, so with a bang Jing landed backward on the pallet and all the wine tumbled down with him.
Feng Long and Xing Yue rushed over and Xing Yue asked “Jing gege, are you alright?”
Jing said up with his face beet red “No…no problem. I zone out for a moment and got tangled up.”
Feng Long laughed “I can still lion dance and you’re already drunk.” Feng Long said to Xiao Yao “Looks like Jing is the first one drunk tonight.”
Xing Yue didn’t want Jing to feel embarrassed so said to her brother “Do you think everyone is like you. It was dim and not easy to see, it’s no big deal to trip.”
Jing sat with his head lowered looking a bit cloddish. Xiao Yao drank another cup of wine and smiled before standing up and twirling in a circle “I’ll sing a mountain ballad for you guys!”
Before they could answer Xiao Yao start singing.
Xiao Yao sang a song about a woman who was missing her beloved and longing for him and wanting only to be together for all of eternity.
The final verse she sang three times: together forever, never apart.
It was a clear night with few clouds, the moon bright and the stars dim. Within the evergreen forest, the flowers and trees were glittering and the fragrance wafted over them. Xiao Yao sang and danced as lithe as the willow and as light as the spring water. She moved along with the moon and when she sang the final verse three times, she put all her heart into it and her voice was as lingering as silk in the air.
For a moment all three listening were in a daze.
Xiao Yao sat back down and felt her face was burning hot and her heart was beating fast. Xiao Yao put her head in her hand and laughed “My head is so dizzy, this whole table is wobbly.”
Xing Yue sighed “It really is like what Gege said, drinking is really more fun after getting drunk.” She raised a cup “Xiao Yao, a toast to you.”
Xiao Yao drunkenly picked up her cup and gulped down her wine.
Xiao Yao had a high tolerance and even when she was drunk physically her mind remained clear. But today even her mind was addled. Xing Yue started step dancing and called Xiao Yao to join her.
Xiao Yao stood up to go when her knees buckled and she pitched backward into Jing’s arms. Xiao Yao smiled at Jing and there was laughter in his eyes. Xiao Yao wanted to reach out to touch his brows but her eyes closed and she fell asleep.
The second day, it was almost noon by the time she got up.
Xiao Yao rubbed her throbbing head and couldn’t help but smile. No wonder men loved to drink, it was only after getting drunk that one could do whatever one wanted. Shan Hu handed honey water to Xiao Yao and she sipped it and felt better.
Xiao Yao washed up as the maids brought her lunch.
She asked Shan Hu and Miao Pu “Did Xing Yue and them dine already?”
Shan Hu laughed “Dined long ago. Master Feng Long and Master Jing left the residence early for work matters. Miss Xing Yue woke just a half hour later than her usual since she handles all the matters inside and out in this grand residence so she can’t slack off.”
Xiao Yao laughed sheepishly “Guess I’m the only one who has nothing to do.”
Xiao Yao dined and then practiced archery for an hour before sitting down with her medical texts. After a bit she took a stroll in the garden and would stand by the flowers in a daze or leaning against the corridor thinking.
That night Xing Yue called Xiao Yao to dine with her and she noticed neither Feng Long or Jing was there and casually asked “Did Feng Long and Jing dine outside?”
Xing Yue smiled “My brother is rarely home, it’s because you’re here that he sometimes comes home to have dinner lately. Jing gege has been back since this afternoon but we don’t treat him like a guest and he comes and goes as he pleases. If my brother is here then they will dine together, otherwise Jing gege dines alone in his residence.”
Xiao Yao ate and then asked “I heard your zither playing is very good, why would you say you were making a fool of yourself playing in front of Jing?”
Xing Yue sighed “You have never heard Jing gege play. Years ago the Young Master of Qing Qiu’s one tune would enchant countless listeners! My mom found me two great masters but it really was due to Jing gege’s pointers that I became an accomplished zither playing. But after his horrific ordeal, he said his fingers were injured so doesn’t play anymore.”
Xiao Yao said “Even if he can’t play, he can still teach others.”
Xing Yue asked “You want Jing gege to teach you to play?”
“I do have that thought. You know that I got lost when I was still small so I never was taught the arts properly and there is much I don’t know how to do. Sometimes it’s quite awkward.”
Xing Yue nodded her head in understanding. As the children of powerful families, it was very awkward not to have a skill or talent. People might not dare say it to Xiao Yao’s face, but there would be a lot of criticism and mockery behind her back.
Xiao Yao said “I’ve always wanted to learn music but it’s hard to find a good master. Zhuan Xu has no time for me but hearing you compliment Jing, I thought it a good idea especially since he’s here for now.”
Xing Yue said “It’s a good idea if you can convince him, but the way he is now……I guess it’s worth a shot first!” Xiao Yao’s identity was so lofty that even if Jing gege was very aloof he might still consider it.
Xiao Yao smiled “I was thinking it was worth a shot, maybe he’ll see my sincerity and agree.”
Xing Yue asked “Want us to bring it up with him?”
“No need. Since I live here now he clearly knows my relationship with you guys. I’ll go ask himself myself, it’s more sincere this way.”
Xing Yue nodded, Xiao Yao was great this way. She didn’t make a big deal about anything, but when she wanted to do something she did it very appropriately.
The next day Xiao Yao got up and asked her maids “You two pay attention, if Master Jing comes back then come tell me.”
Neither asked any questions and told her he was already back.
Xiao Yao washed up, changed, and headed for the Evergreen Residence.
It was very different in the daylight than at night, quiet and densely fragrant. Shan Hu knocked and it was Jing Ye who opened the door. Xiao Yao smiled “Is your Master home?”
Jing Ye recognized her as the drunken Princess from the other night and smiled “Master is home, Princess please come in.”
Xiao Yao was smirking inside – she was so huffy towards me years ago, yet she is all sweet and solicitous now!
Jing was working at the table but when he heard her familiar footsteps he didn’t wait for her to be announced but walked outside to greet her. He was happy and surprised to see Xiao Yao.
Jing Ye stared and thought Jing wasn’t happy to welcome the Princess in so reminded him “Master, please welcome the Princess in.”
Jing forced himself to calmly welcome Xiao Yao inside, and when she went in she told Shan Hu “Have Jing Ye make you some tea and you guys go have fun, no need to wait on me.”
Jing Ye felt this Princess spoke in a way that was very familiar but she couldn’t place it. But seeing Jing’s expression he clearly wanted her to go along with it so she said “Yes” and then led Shan Hu away.
When it was just the two of them alone in the room, Xiao Yao’s expression turned cold and she asked “Why didn’t you come see me? If I didn’t come find you, then you weren’t going to find a way to come see me?”
Jing said “I went to see you already.” Last night he hid in her courtyard trees and watched her until she was fast asleep before he left.
“You were peeping at me?”
“Not quite, I didn’t get close, I only saw your outline…..” Jing’s voice got smaller and smaller as he tried to explain.
Xiao Yao laughed “So you want to see me?”
Jing nodded, because he wanted to see her that was why he stayed in this residence.
Xiao Yao said “I told Xing Yue I was going to ask you to teach me the zither, that way you can see me every day.”
Jing broke into an excited smile and Xiao Yao crowed “Aren’t I smart?”
Jing smiled and nodded his head.
Xiao Yao looked at his happy smile but felt a twinge of sadness. All the young men went hunting but he stayed behind alone, what was his expression then? When he walked towards Yi Yang and she looked at him in revulsion, what was his expression then?
Xiao Yao embraced him and pressed her face against his shoulder.
Xiao Yao’s movement was too tender and even if no words were spoken she conveyed it all. Jing embraced her back and buried his head in her hair and felt like time could stop now and he would want for nothing.
The two of them quietly embraced for a long time, so long they forgot how much time had passed.
A slight coughing came from outside that woke Xiao Yao up and she lifted her head but Jing rubbed her head sweetly “Don’t worry, the maids are Jing Ye and Hu Ya, even if they see it there is no reason to worry.”
Xiao Yao smiled and pushed Jing to the pallet “I want to inspect your leg carefully.”
Jing sat on the pallet and Xiao Yao kneeled on the floor and inspected his leg from his ankle upward until she got to his knee, and then she worked downward again and stopped where his bone broke. Xiao Yao thought and checked and finally said “I can heal your leg, it won’t be perfect but when you walk no one can tell it’s slightly injured.”
Jing asked “Do you mind?”
Xiao Yao shook her head and curved her body to kiss Jing’s leg injury and his body shook. Xiao Yao was shocked by what she just did and felt bashful so she released Jing and sat with her head lowered.
Jing sat down beside her “If you don’t mind, then no need.”
“But….but I mind that other people mind. I don’t really mind, I just don’t want others to look down on you…..I want you happy….I want you……”
Jing put his finger on Xiao Yao’s lips to keep her from talking more “I understand. You’re worried I’m hurt by the way others look at me, but I’m not. Xiao Yao….” Jing’s hand caressed her from her forehead down “As long as you’re willing to look at me even once, I don’t care how others look at me. That can never hurt me.”
Xiao Yao bit her lip and was about to speak when Jing’s breathing became labored and he suddenly leaned forward and Xiao Yao forgot what she was going to say.
Jing lightly kissed the corner of her lips and Xiao Yao closed her eyes not daring to move. Jing kissed the other corner of her lips and Xiao Yao still didn’t move until finally he gently kissed her entirely on the lips.
Jing’s lips were soft and cool, reminding Xiao Yao of the phoenix flowers on a Summer’s morning. When she was small she would often put the flower petals in her mouth to suck out the sap and the flower honey, and the sweetness would flow through her lips and slide own her throat. But this time instead of phoenix flowers, she was sucking on Jing.
Jing softly began to nibble and his tongue licked her lips over and over until he tenderly put his tongue into her mouth. Xiao Yao’s body turn soft and she fell backward weakly. She didn’t understand, Jing was the one sucking on her but she still felt it was sweet, even sweeter than the phoenix flower honey, so sweet from her lips to her throat, from her throat to her heart. It spread everywhere until she was completely weak.
Xiao Yao fell back on the pallet and Jing raised his head to look at her. Xiao Yao’s hair was mussed and her sultry lips were softly moving and reddened while her eyelashes were batting furiously like a frightened butterfly.
Jing couldn’t resist and leaned down to kiss her eyelashes and then he leaned down to kiss her cheeks loving the way it was stained with color. He kissed Xiao Yao’s hair, loving the way it curled in his hands.
Xiao Yao shyly opened her eyes a little but not completely, a smile breaking on her face.
Jing couldn’t help but kiss her smile, as if he wanted to suck it into his heart and keep it there forever.
Xiao Yao smiled “It’s sweet.”
“Hhhmm?” Jing didn’t understand what she meant.
Xiao Yao ducked into his embrace “Your kiss is sweet.
Jing understood and happily kissed her again “Because you are sweet so I got some of your sweetness.”
Xiao Yao burrowed her face into his chest and her muffled voice said “Shameless!”
Jing’s body was throbbing with desire and he didn’t dare touch her anymore so he loosely held her in his arms.
Xiao Yao raised her head and asked “Why?”
“Why now? Last time at the beach when I asked you….you wouldn’t.”
“I don’t know. Maybe you’re too good, or maybe I’m just too selfish now and thinking only of myself. Maybe because you were just so…..” Jing looked at Xiao Yao and smiled and she could guess he meant to say “alluring.”
Xiao Yao hit him on the chest but Jing grabbed her fist and raised it to his lips to kiss her hand hard.
Xiao Yao’s heart started beating wildly. When it came to male-female matters, the two genders were so different. She appeared bold and assertive, but past a certain point she was shy, embarrassed, scared, and excited. Jing appeared cool and rational, but past a certain point he was passionate and aggressive, with a basic instinct to possess without any fear or hesitation.
A knock sounded on the door and Jing Ye called out “Master.”
Xiao Yao sat up hurriedly while Jing continued to lay on the pallet lazily and watch her. She pushed him and then he sat up and called back “What is it?”
Xiao Yao fixed her hair pin and Jing pulled it out and helped her put it back together neatly.
Jing Ye said “Miss Xing Yue’s maid asked if the Princess was here and I said she was so the maid went to get Miss Xing Yue who should be here soon.”
Xiao Yao was so nervous she immediately sat up but Jing pulled her down “There is still time, you fix yourself slowly.”
Xiao Yao fixed her hair and inspected her robe before asking “Looks good?”
Jing stared at her and nodded with a smile.
Xiao Yao stood by the window and took a few deep breaths to calm her emotions. Jing said “Xing Yue is here.”
A knock sounded and Jing Ye went to open the door and Xing Yue walked in.
“Jing gege” Xing Yue greeted him and also stared at Xiao Yao quizzically. Xiao Yao nodded and Xing Yue smiled “Congrats, congrats.”
Xiao Yao said “I have to thank Jing willing to accept a stupid student like me.”
Xing Yue said “Since Xiao Yao wants to learn the zither, we need to find one for her. I’ve collected four good ones and later I’ll take you to pick one.”
Xiao Yao quiclly said “No need, no need.” She wasn’t interested at all in learning the zither. If she had time she rather learn poisons, it could save her in danger and kill others. Xiao Yao was a very practical person.
Xing Yue thought Xiao Yao was being polite “Don’t be polite with me, I don’t need so many.”
Jing helped Xiao Yao “She just started so there is no need to use a good zither. Tomorrow I’ll take her to the zither store to pick out a beginners one.”
Xing Yue felt that made sense “Fine. But I feel bad since I have things to do tomorrow so I won’t go with you guys.”
Xiao Yao said “You said not to treat me like a guest so you do your things and I’ll do mine.”
Xing Yue said “Jing gege, let’s dine together tonight and have Xiao Yao as your student toast you.”
“Sure.” Jing nodded.
The next morning, Jing came to find Xiao Yao to go buy a zither.
It wasn’t their first time shopping together but it was their first time shopping together alone and in broad daylight without any worries. Both of them were feeling quite strange about it. Xiao Yao wanted to laugh because she was happy. Jing was also happy and his happiness was reflected in his eyes.
Jing took Xiao Yao to a zither store and when the sale clerk spotted Jing’s presence he immediately ushered them into an inside room, lit the incense and brought out the tea, arranged all the beginner zithers and left them to select without any intrustion.
Jing wanted Xiao Yao to pick the one she wanted but she said “You pick whatever one for me, it’s not like I’m really wanting to learn the zither.”
Jing remained serious and helped her pick a good one. He checked out the zithers and Xiao Yao checked him out. Jing smiled and glanced up at her and his eyes brushed past her face to land on her lips. Xiao Yao’s face reddened and she quickly averted her eyes and pretending to be interested in the zither next to her.
Jing couldn’t help it and reached out to grab her hand. Xiao Yao’s eyes darted around as she looked at him nervously.
Jing put her hands in his and said “I just wanted to tell you that I feel like I am the luckiest man in the world.”
Xiao Yao smiled “Why?”
Jing bent down and lowered his head to kiss her palms. He didn’t raise his head but remained in a position that was bowing to Xiao Yao “Because of the way you look at me, the way you talk to me, everything you do for me.”
Xiao Yao was embarrassed and pulled her hand out and said angrily “I look at you the same as I do everyone else, I don’t talk to you tenderly at all, I’m often angry at you. I did do a lot for you but you did a lot for me too.”
Jing smiled and playfully pinched her cheeks before going to look at another zither. Because he felt Xiao Yao had put him inside her heart, he had become more easygoing around her and no longer as fearful and tentative as if he could lose her at any moment.
Jing turned to Xiao Yao “Does this zither work?”
Xiao Yao plinked the strings a few times “If you think it works then it’s fine.”
Jing summoned the sales clerk “We want this zither.”
The sales clerk saw it was the best quality and the highest price one and was very happy “Of course, I’ll wrap it right up for you.”
Xiao Yao asked in a low voice “Is this your family’s store?”
“Ha! You’re not giving yourself business?”
Jing laughed “I feel like this is really buying a present for you.”
Xiao Yao smiled.
Jing handed the wrapped zither to Hu Ya and said to Xiao Yao “Let’s walk home!”
Xiao Yao nodded “Okay.”
Jing strolled with Xiao Yao the long way back, not because he wanted to buy anything, he just wanted to walk with Xiao Yao as long as possible in broad daylight.
When they passed by a street stall, Jing bought some duck necks and chicken feet which the owner wrapped up for him.
He carried it and turned to the Xiao Yao who was dying to eat it right there and said “Eat it at home.”
Xiao Yao said “I want to eat the ones you make.” Lao Mu’s cooking was exceptional but neither Xiao Yao nor Xan Tian Er learned it, but Shi Qi learned it all.
Jing smiled “Sure, I’ll make some for you later.”
“How? How to explain to Xing Yue?”
“Don’t worry about that, just get ready to eat it.”
The two of them returned to Little Zhu Rong’s residence and Jing took Xiao Yao back to her residence. Xiao Yao watched him leave and her expression was unconcealed longing, like a cat that was going to be abandoned. Jing felt terrible but happy about it “You just rest, tomorrow I’ll make you something tasty.”
Xiao Yao nodded and walked into her room.
Jing went out every morning to work so Xiao Yao practiced her archery.
After lunch Xiao Yao would take a nap and after she woke up, Jing would be waiting for her in the Evergreen Residence.
Jing was earnestly teaching Xiao Yao the zither and she was afraid Xing Yue and Feng Long would check on her progress so she was also earnestly learning, But as she learned she got impatient “How long do I have to learn to play a decent tune?”
Jing replied “Depends on your definition of a decent tune.”
Xiao Yao explained “Something that makes the listener feel good. You play me a tune!”
Jing hadn’t played in twenty years and one time he sat down at his old zither and strummed it only to quickly realize his fingers were no longer fluid. The notes were off and that was a reminder of what happened to his body. Every time his brother tortured him and the insulting words he said reverberated in his ears and he flipped the zither. He didn’t want to remember those words and remember the pain. He felt that he would never want to touch this again in his life.
But right now Xiao Yao wanted him to play for her.
Jing could not say no to her so he calmed himself down and concentrated every thought on playing. His fingers rested on the zither but he wasn’t sure what to play. In the repeated torture, his heart had long lost the ability to appreciate music.
Xiao Yao shyly smiled “Just play the song I sang for you the other night. Do you still remember?”
How could he ever forget?
As the memory of Xiao Yao’s singing the song echoed in his mind, Jing’s heart gradually calmed down and he strummed the zither and began to play. Some notes were not perfect but in Jing’s mind was Xiao Yao dancing and his zither was merely accompanying her singing. She danced under the moonlight while he played for her – together forever, never apart.
After playing once, Jing started playing again. But this time he wasn’t playing to her singing, he was playing the same song to tell her the same words – together forever, never apart.
Xiao Yao understood what he was trying to say and moved into his arms and tightly embraced him around the waist. His playing stopped and Xiao Yao murmured “I like listening.”
Jing continued to play for her and there was no pain in his heart and no insulting words in his ears. His heart once again was peaceful and happy because of the beautiful sound of music, and it was even happier than before because he now had another person who was happy with his music.
Jing Ye and Hu Ya heard the zither playing and both rushed out of their rooms, glancing at each other in shock. Their young master was playing the zither again! Not just playing, but his tune was happy and content!
Jing Ye sat down on the ground and covered her mouth with her hands as her tears fell.
All these years, despite master returning to Qing Qiu, he was no longer the famed Young Master of Qing Qiu Tu Shan Jing.
Jing Ye thought Fang Feng Yi Yang would help heal his sorrows but she realized she was wrong. On snowy days, if Jing stood for long his legs would hurt a lot and she noticed but Fang Feng Yi Yang never sensed it and would continue to play.
Fang Feng Yi Yang liked attending banquets and throwing parties and she was always the life of the party, playing the zither and shooting her arrows, the center of attention. But young master would just sit quietly in the corner.
Jing Ye brought out young master’s favorite zither and after he saw it, he couldn’t resist trying to play it. But after a few notes he upended the zither and doubled over in pain. Fang Feng Yi Yang not only didn’t comfort him, she looked at him with derision.
At banquets people would request young master to play but he would politely decline. People didn’t understand and would beg him to play but Fang Feng Yi Yang not only did not help him decline, she would stand to the side and watch with a smirk in her eyes.
Later when young master wanted to end the engagement and spoke with Fang Feng Yi Yang, Jing Ye didn’t know what they discussed but she changed after that and became considerate and tender. But Jing Ye already knew that she was just acting.
Jing lived in Little Zhu Rong’s residence for half a year from Autumn until Winter. Xiao Yao could see him everyday and he earnestly taught her the zither but she really didn’t have any interest in learning. Every day she would get annoyed when practicing and said to Jing “If I want to listen to the zither I can ask you to play for me, why bother learning myself?”
Their lessons gradually became Jing playing for her while she munched on the duck necks he made for her and drank the plum wine he brewed for her. Sometimes she would lay under the blanket reading medical books, or else she would chat about all sorts of random stuff with Jing.
Every time Feng Long ran into Xiao Yao he would ask how her zither was coming along and she would just chuckle.
Xiao Yao decided to take a shortcut and had Jing teach her the simplest tune he knew. She didn’t need to learn technique, just the beat, and she forced herself to mimic the entire tune.
Xiao Yao finished playing that tune and she excitedly howled “I can play now, too!”
She practiced for a few days until she felt she was pretty good so when Feng Long came back, she announced to him and Xing Yue “I’ll play a tune for you guys.”
Feng Long and Xing Yue sat down excitedly with a very solemn aura, just short of bathing and changing into new clothes for the occasion.
Xiao Yao started playing and Xing Yue’s expression changed. She glanced at Jing but he sat there very calmly. Feng Long’s zither skill wasn’t as good as Xing Yue but he was still a son of a powerful clan and learned all the four arts plus he had the talent to appreciate good skills so even he was staring at Xiao Yao with a dumbstruck look.
Xiao Yao finished and looked expectantly towards Feng Long and Xing Yue.
Xing Yue didn’t want to hurt her feelings so clapped overly enthusiastically while gently saying “There is still lots of room for improvement so keep working hard.”
Feng Long couldn’t figure out what to say so Xiao Yao glared at him “Are we friends or not? If we’re friends then tell me the truth!”
Feng Long uncomfortably said “I think your talents lie elsewhere. In the future if someone asks you to play the zither, you should decline! Don’t feel bad, look at Jing and me, we’re good at different things.”
Xing Yue wouldn’t contain it anymore and added “Xiao Yao, you wasted a great teacher. In the future if you play the zither, you should never reveal that your teacher was the Young Master of Qing Qiu.”
Xiao Yao nodded “I’m really smart.”
Jing explained “It’s not her fault, I didn’t teach her properly.”
Xing Yue laughed “The master is too lenient, the student is too shameless, no wonder nothing got learned!”
Xiao Yao flew over to pinch Xing Yue’s lips “Who are you calling shameless!”
Xing Yue ducked and teased “Whoever is anxious is the one who is shameless!”
Xiao Yao stopped and wondered if she ought to be anxious? Feng Long and Jing laughed out loud and Xiao Yao decided to not overthink it and deal with Xing Yue first. Xing Yue quickly ran to hide behind her brother. Between all the laughter the four of them had a great time.
By the end of Winter Jing needed to return to Qing Qiu to welcome the new Spring with his family and wish his grandmother a happy birthday. He had continued to delay leaving until he couldn’t delay anymore.
From Zhi Yi to Qing Qiu, if taking a cloud carriage it was just an hour away. A winged ride was even faster, just half an hour. But the day Jing left it was heavy snow so the cloud carriage couldn’t be taken so Jing had to take the snow beast pulled snow carriage that would take multiple hours to arrive.
Xiao Yao reminded him to be careful and handed medicine to Jing Ye to tell her that along the way if Jing’s leg hurt to apply this medicine. In the future if he went out on snowy days to remember to apply this medicine first. When they got back, if his leg hurt then he was to soak it in a medicinal bath using the herbs she already prepared and put in his luggage.
Jing Ye took everything down and packed all the items away.
When the snow carriage pulled away, Jing Ye looked back at Xiao Yao, Feng Long, and Xing Yue standing at the front door until the distance widened to where Xing Yue and Feng Long had gone inside but Xiao Yao was going in slowly and periodically turning her head to look back.
Jing Ye said and said to Hu Ya “If the Princess could be our Madam that would be so wonderful.” When Jing Ye said this, she didn’t keep her voice down.
Hu Ya glanced at Jing and then admonished Jing Ye “Don’t speak nonsense. Master is engaged already. The Princess is just very grateful for Master teaching her these past months.”
Jing Ye huffed “What’s an engagement anyway? It’s not married, nothing is finalized! Haven’t you heard of “broken engagement” in this world?”
Jing said there quietly as if he heard nothing. He looked out of the crystal windows as the entire world outside was blanketed in snow in complete whiteness.