Fanfiction 2: Moyuan and Bai Qian - Chapter 12, Part 3 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 12 - The Gathering of Immortals

Part 3

written by LalaLoop
consulting by MiniOrchid
edited by kakashi

On the same evening that Zheyan was checking the condition of Bai Qian’s eyes and was reminding her that the Fox Empress had not organized this Gathering so she could use the information she had discovered against someone with only good intentions in mind, Tianshu, Yehua’s trusted assistant, was said to have arrived at Eastern Forest with urgent news that needed her attention immediately

Having suspected the news would have to do with Yehua’s health, Bai Qian was rather surprised to be handed a letter when she arrived at the hall to meet Tianshu.

But as soon as she opened the letter, she at once understood why it had been said to be urgent and that this was something even more serious than if Yehua had collapsed. Inside was a piece of information written in Yehua’s elegant hand that struck her like lightning, making her head spin and her throat so dry she had to gasp for air: A-li was coming to the Eastern Forest with Lady Lexu.

According to the letter, the boy had been insisting on coming ever since Yehua had received the invitation. For understandable reasons which Bai Qian wholly agreed with, he had decided not to attend. But since then, Yehua had also made the knowledge of their current situation known to little A-li. Apparently, as much as he had tried to make it sound as though not having Bai Qian in the Nine Heavens in the future was a normal thing, his effort had done nothing to stop A-li from falling into great despair. It seemed to her sending the boy here was the last resort, but there was nothing else to be done.

When she had finished the letter, Bai Qian almost went to ask Lord Puhua for some lightning punishment when only now did she remember that in all her time since Yehua had come back from his trial, never once had she thought of little A-li, the one who was bound to get hurt the most. After Tianshu’s departure, Bai Qian had reread Yehua’s letter so many times that it now looked rather disheveled. Though she knew rereading it would not change the fact that A-li was coming and that she still had no idea what to say to the child to ease his pain when they met. But Bai Qian freely admitted to herself that the more she thought about what Yehua had written, the more she found it hard to refute that this was the best solution. Hesitation would only prolong the child’s hope aimlessly.


Early in the morning of the day A-li was supposed to arrive, Bai Qian ran to the kitchen to ask if anyone could make A-li’s favorite snacks, which an eager Changshan happily agreed to help with. On her way back to her room, she came across Moyuan and Zheyan, who seemed to be walking outside to join the other immortals.

The look on her face must have given her away for Moyuan instantly asked if she had received bad news and if there was anything they could do to help. Zheyan, who was well aware of A-li’s eventual arrival since he had accompanied her to meet Tianshu, cleared his throat and unconvincingly looked away from the conversation.

“No,” she had said flatly. “You can’t help.”

Honestly, if you’re not careful people would start to believe what they see one day even if you didn’t mean it - Yanzhi’s carefully chosen words echoed in Bai Qian’s head almost immediately. I’m confused, what has High God Moyuan done? Came Bai Zhen’s half teasing voice. They might not know the whole story but their reasoning wasn’t entirely wrong.

“I’m not trying to be difficult,” she said in a softer tone to both Moyuan and Zheyan. “But you really can’t help me this time.”

Walking away, Bai Qian wondered if the Old Phoenix would start telling Moyuan about Yehua’s letter as soon as her back was turned, considering she had never asked him to conceal anything. But then she simply given up pursuing the question - preparing herself to deal with the matter was far more pressing than running around and making sure no one found out about it.

Determined to keep herself unruffled, Bai Qian attempted several times during the day to maintain her normal activities with her Seniors, Yanzhi, and the guests. But every time she picked up a sword, opened a book, or started a conversation, the thought of A-li would intrude her mind and made her go back to sit in hopeless silence.

Like every evening during the Gathering, the hall wasn’t too packed since some guests preferred to take strolls out in the forest to the confined space, even though this was a relatively large hall. Those who were present were absorbed in conversations with each other, exchanging their views on various subjects, many of which normally would trigger Bai Qian’s interest.

Bai Qian herself was now standing with Yanzhi and Zilan. While they got into a discussion about the ancient spell Qingcang had put on his children and whether Lijing’s daughter would suffer from it as well, Bai Qian anxiously looked around, the anticipation was nearly suffocating her. Her confidence to face A-li, which wasn’t much to begin with, began to melt away with every second that passed.

Sooner than expected, the figure of Lady Lexu walked through the door of the hall. Bai Qian exchanged a brief look with Zheyan and watched as she ceremonially greeted the immortals introduced by Bai Qian’s parents. Calm and collected as she was, Lady Lexu’s determined expression and rapid footsteps gave away the fact that she only had one thing in mind. The proceeding was done quickly and soon she and Bai Qian came face-to-face.

“High Goddess,” she nodded.

“Lady Lexu,” Bai Qian returned the greeting gesture.

“May I drag you away from here for a while?” she said, on her face not the slightest sight of worry or trouble. The Celestials had always been better at maintaining their composure in public, no matter the crisis. Bai Qian nodded as she understood A-li was probably somewhere in the garden outside of the hall.

On her way out, Bai Qian was enormously thankful that the immortals present at her parents’ place were decidedly different from those in the Nine Heavens. Except for Moyuan, who was giving the situation a curious look, none of them seemed to question the fact that she was leaving the hall with a newcomer who had just walked in.

As soon as the noises from the hall began to fade into the background, Lady Lexu dived straight into the topic without any preamble, telling Bai Qian how A-li had been wanting to see her. And when they had reached where the little prince was, she ended the conversation with the sincere wish that Bai Qian would be able to stop the boy’s constant crying lately, though she did not sound too optimistic.

Below a tree in the grand garden, A-li was jumping up and down, trying to reach a tree branch, while Jiayun was standing beside him.

“I doubt any of us can undo the pain caused to A-li now,” Lady Lexu said in a low voice while A-li had yet to be aware of their presence, “But Yehua believes seeing you can at least lessen his discomfort.”

“Yehua is right. I owe them this,” Bai Qian stated firmly, not daring to reveal the fact that she found it an impossible task.

“I shall leave you to it.”

Lexu turned around and motioned for Jiayun to bring A-li closer. As the little prince came forward, Bai Qian realized his eyes were quite red, his lip pouting as if he could burst into tears anytime.

“A-li,” Bai Qian sank down and opened her arms. “Come here.”

Like a dam had broken, A-li’s tears spilled out onto his cheeks. He began to burst into speech as he threw himself into her embrace. His tiny figure was shaking and words came out between sobs and hiccups so continuous and violent that Bai Qian could not fully understand what he was trying to convey. The only thing she could do was awkwardly patting his head and nodding at Lady Lexu as if she had everything under control.

Returning Bai Qian’s nod, Yehua’s mother quietly left them.

“Father…” began A-li. “Father said he made a mistake. My mother really is… is gone. You only look like her.”

Yehua, Bai Qian bit her lips to stop herself from crying out his name, her vision darkened. So he had admitted out loud that Susu was no more. And he had decided to let A-Li come here so that she could confirm once again the truth in his declaration. Because to her, it was the absolute truth.

An embrace could not lift the unfairness being put on A-li. Nor would his favorite snacks be able to fix this mistake. Before they had been sure of the future, she and Yehua had let the child believe his ‘mother’ had been back, that he would soon have both parents in the Nine Heavens. She had been unwilling to go along, yet Bai Qian had done nothing to stop it. And it was also by their hands that A-li’s dream was crushed.

“But he said…” A-Li continued to sob, his arms wrapped around her neck tightly. “He said… it doesn't matter… nothing will change… no matter where you live…”

“And he is right,” said Bai Qian, removing A-li from her shoulders to take a close look at him. And in the most cheerful voice the situation allowed, she went on, “nothing will change for you and me, absolutely nothing. Why should we let some silly mistake make us sad, yes?” She continued as A-Li was still looking unconvinced. “You can come to Qingqiu and Kunlun whenever you like and stay as long as you want. And we can visit the mortal realm on your birthday as always if you like. Just because I don’t live in the Nine Heavens doesn’t mean you can never see me.”

“Really? We can still be friends?”

“Yes, we can,” she nodded. “Best friends.”

“Because… I really do like you,” said A-li, and as Bai Qian had predicted, large drops of tears began to drip down his chin again.

“And I like you,” replied Bai Qian instantly. “You are the smartest and kindest little prince I’ve ever met. You see,” she forced a smile. “It’s absurd to worry when things will be just like they are now.”

As she was saying so, Bai Qian wasn't too sure she deserved such affection from A-li. No matter how much she loved him and wished to protect him to the best of her ability, she had never felt like a mother to the boy, nor had she ever played a part in his life from his birth. The bond between them had gone the moment she had decided to let go of her mortal life - the decision she’d once thought would yield no consequences. So this was the consequence, she laughed bitterly, the inability to feel when she needed to, a brutally complete disconnection, just like she had asked for. What would a mother do in such a case? She forlornly wondered. Or better yet, what would Susu do?

“But can I… can I think about it for a while?” said A-Li in his prematurely considerate tone that made Bai Qian want to both laugh and cry. A-li was always like Yehua in that aspect. The boy was trying to hide away his sadness, perhaps in his own innocent way, but she saw through it.

“Of course you can,” Bai Qian made an effort to straighten his clothes and hat.

“But… promise you'll be here when I'm done thinking?” A-li held out his pinky, his lower lip quivering still. Bai Qian took his finger in her own and smiled. She understood A-li would like to go back to Lady Lexu without her.


Dejectedly, A-li stepped away from her. Jiayun rushed towards him as soon as he gestured and the two of them turned in the hall’s direction. Reaching the entrance, they were greeted by Prince Liansong and Chengyu, and later Donghua.

Bai Qian turned around and walked away from all the people and the happy noises from inside the hall after A-li had disappeared into the crowd.

When she decided she had walked enough and stopped in front of a pond, Bai Qian had very little idea how she had gotten there or which pond in the grand garden this was. She brushed her dress aside and flung herself down onto the rocky side of the pond, quietly swirling the water with her hands, aching with guilt she knew would not easily subside.

But it wasn’t long before she heard the sound of someone approaching. Bai Qian rolled her eyes in frustration - this garden was larger than the Crystal Palace itself, couldn’t whoever that was find someplace else to sulk?

Though from the corner of her eyes, the person’s figure gradually became clear. Recognizing who it was, Bai Qian sighed. She had started to see the pattern - they could never stay angry at each other for long, whoever’s fault it was. Tonight, however, it wasn’t about him. She could not bring herself to welcome his presence however much she wanted to.

Soon Moyuan was standing in front of her. He sank on one knee, looking bluntly at her unveiled despaired expression.

“A-li seems to like the treats Changshan has made,” he spoke when it was clear Bai Qian had no intention of doing so.

Bai Qian’s gaze moved from the pond to his face. Barely acknowledging his concern, she went back to resting her chin on her knees.

Sighing, Moyuan took her hand. After some habitual and rather pointless objection, she gave in - she did not care much to give a reaction to anything right now unless Qingcang had been resurrected and was causing havoc somewhere.

Slowly, he took her other hand, untangled her arms and pulled her up to her feet, ignoring her rather grudging and reluctant look. Bai Qian kept her eyes locked on his, allowing him to guide her footsteps away from the pond, as if to tell her to leave the burden there for a while. As if she could. As if she had a choice.

The silence prolonged. It seemed Moyuan was aware that any attempt to cheer her up would be futile. He was merely offering his company. But then, his expression turned from impassive to tender.

Still uninterested and detached, Bai Qian saw his hand reaching up to her face, drawing close to her temple.

“Close your eyes,” he said.

Bai Qian frowned at this strange request, eyeing his hand that was lingering about her face. She found the idea of closing her eyes while a more magically powerful high god was standing opposite of her, looking like he was about to perform some kind of spell, quite ridiculous.

“Do you not trust me?” He smiled at Bai Qian’s apprehensive look. Then it suddenly dawned on her. Laughing inwardly at herself for being so absent-minded, she did as asked after some hesitation.

With her eyes shut, Bai Qian felt a quick and strong flash of light sweep across her face. The silky white thread appeared instantly over her eyes in response to Moyuan’s spell. Her head slightly jerk back when she felt the tips of his fingers on either side of her head, removing the thread. Cautiously, she opened her eyes again.

There wasn't much of a change of expression on his part, which was quite understandable - the problem with her eyes wasn’t a visible one. But the unreadable gaze was starting to make her wonder.

“I told you,” she said. “It's nothing.”

Moyuan caught Bai Qian’s hands just when she raised them to rub her eyes. He let go of her left hand and held on to the right, gently drawing it toward him. Bai Qian weakly resisted as his fingers neared her sleeve, blushing intensely. Moyuan looked back at her, his eyes seemed to ask once again for her consent considering her reaction last time hadn’t been too encouraging.

Bai Qian relaxed her brows and remained silent. Cautiously he rolled up her sleeve. The burn from Crimson Fire appeared. The truth was, she herself had forgotten how brutal the scar looked since she hadn’t paid attention to it for awhile. For someone who saw it for the first time, however, it would certainly render some shock.

After a long collective silence, Moyuan lifted her hand up close to his face and bended his head. Knowing what he was going to do, Bai Qian retrieved her arm in a flash, rather taken aback by this forwardness. But she soon began to smile, tip-toeing with her head full of mischievous thoughts about stealing his idea and making it look like she’d thought of it first.

Before Moyuan could question her sudden distracted state, Bai Qian reached up to his chest and assaulted him with a brief but rather abrupt press on where she guessed the scar caused by the last lightning bolt was. No words came from him. Though according to the Old Phoenix, Bai Qian believed she was probably right. Clutching his sleeve, she brought her face closer and closer to his chest until her lips touched his robe.

Her mind became almost void of thoughts as the unchanged wintry fragrance began to fill her nose. Turning her head to the side, her hand moved to his right shoulder, where the other scar must be and gently brushed over it.

“Seventeenth,” she suddenly felt his hand on the nape of her neck, keeping her head where it was, while the other encircled her waist. “Come home with me.”

Bai Qian’s eyes widened. For a moment, it felt as though her small stature was being engulfed within the warmth of his arms. Safe and almost terrifying at the same time, to be held this way by the hands that wielded Xuanyuan sword. Yet strangely, his hands felt as if they belonged where they were - the notion, which partly explained why her own hands were now holding onto each other behind his back, instantly made her cheeks feel colored.

But which was the true reflection of his emotion? The fleeting tremble in his voice or the calm and untroubled heartbeat? She longed for a look at him, to see the expression on the ever tranquil face. Though the moment she tried to move, his hand slid down her shoulder to prevent it.

How gentle, she thought with her face half buried in his chest, and how arrogant. The first thing that nearly slipped out of her mouth was: why would you assume your home is mine? But she stopped herself from voicing the thought just in time. What difference would it make how arrogant or prideful he was? She’d had time to think. Plenty of time. And still, here she was.

Thus, apart from the fact that her hair was in danger of being made untidy by his refusing to let go, she didn’t have much of a reason to answer unkindly.

“Don’t say that, Shifu.” Bai Qian said nevertheless when she had finally managed to lift her head.

Moyuan’s brow line slightly lifted. He was now wearing an expression appropriate to being interrupted while making a speech over weaponry. It was apparent he had been more prepared for a blunt refusal. And it took him a long moment to finally utter a response.

“I beg your pardon.”

Bai Qian suppressed a satisfied smile, savoring the first time she had ever managed to make the God of War so puzzled that he was having to ask if he’d heard her correctly.

“Don’t say those things,” she said again. “I do hate it when you talk in riddles. I can’t stand your subtleties and heaven knows how many times I’ve wanted to take desperate measures to make you say what’s on your mind. But --” she blinked a few times, arranging her face into what she believed the most serious facade, her voice a challenging whisper.

“I would protest with all my being if you ever became predictable and obvious.”

Moyuan chuckled, looking quite helpless as he had every time he was ready to announce her detention back then since he’d always known detention had never prevented her from carrying out mischievous deeds. His eyes bore into Bai Qian’s while she stared back with no intention to revert her statement.

“I am glad,” he said, mirroring her cunning smile. “The last thing I ever want to be is ‘obvious’.”

While Moyuan continued to maintain a straight face, Bai Qian broke into laughter before she knew it. Utmost delight filled the air around her.

But more quickly than it had begun, the moment ended. Nothing had changed - Bai Qian found herself unable to remove A-li’s face from her mind. The tears, the innocent eyes, the pain they had caused him, the truth he would have to know one day...

Soon the laughter ceased like the last crackling sound of a dying fire. Sadness creased Moyuan’s forehead as she could feel sorrow returning to her own eyes. Silence dominated the space. Bai Qian dropped his sleeve and disengaged herself from the comfort of his arms.

Not today, she told herself flatly. She could not allow herself to indulge in joy until the carefree smile brightened A-li’s face again. If she could not comfort him, the least she could do was cry with him.

“I’m sorry,” she said sincerely, avoiding Moyuan’s eyes. “Would you leave me for a moment?”

Moyuan did not attempt to hold her back this time but simply watched as she retrieved the white silk from his hand and retreated to where she had been sitting earlier. That was all the time she could spare today. And he understood. In fact, contrary to what the Old Phoenix often feared, silent understanding had always been the undying bond between them.

Sinking down at the pond, Bai Qian continued to stare at the unmoved water surface.

Chapter 13, Part 1