Fanfiction 2: Moyuan and Bai Qian - Chapter 15 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 15 - Peach Blossoms

written byLalaLoop
edited by kakashi

“Are we going straight back?” asked Zilan as he waited for Yan Zhi to say her proper farewell to the guests who were leaving the Eastern Forest.

“You go with Yanzhi,” replied Bai Qian. “I will join Lord Donghua and Si Ming. There’s one last thing I need to do.”

Bai Qian inwardly laughed at the words that had just come out of her - one last thing to do before what? Before she could run to Moyuan with a free conscience?

For the next few minutes, they stood and watched from the open corridor as the last of the guests made their departure. They saw Yue Lao’s serene figure waving his hand to conjure the invisible stairs and up he went until he disappeared among the clouds. Lord Puhua bowed farewell to Bai Qian’s parents and as quickly as he had come, left with a twirl of his rod and some crackles of lightning around where he had last stood. Further down the yard, other guests either cloud-jumped away or got on their swords for their journey home. Above their heads, the Lord of Numinous Treasures’ Phoenix gave a cry as it took off.

“What about Yanzhi?” Bai Qian recalled. “Surely she can’t go back to the Ghost Realm yet.”

“We agreed she’ll stay at Kunlun for a while along with her niece and Qilin. At least until more of Qingcang’s assassins are captured. Then, she can decide whether she would like to return to the Ghost Realm to take over the reign or continue to be in the mortal realm.”

“Good,” Bai Qian nodded. “I’m glad she has a plan.”

“Seventeenth,” Zilan suddenly reached out and took Bai Qian’s wrist, which startled her. “Tell me, honestly. It’s fine if you don’t want to tell Shifu. But tell me, are you --” he swallowed, seemingly contemplating his words. “Are you going to come back to us, to Kunlun?”

They looked at each other for a moment.

“Where else would I be?” Bai Qian tilted her head. Where else would she want to be if he was there.

Zilan’s face was lit up by a smile that was as bright as the sunlight that day. Unbiddenly, they pulled each other into an embrace.

“I’ll wait for you at Kunlun,” said Zilan.

“Don’t say ‘wait’,” Bai Qian giggled, gripping his robe. “It’s bad luck.”

Zilan broke into laughter as they let go of one another.

“Shall I let Shifu know to expect you?”

“You can,” Bai Qian raised her brows and spoke in a teasing tone. “But I think he already knows. He’s very good at guessing after all.”

Zilan laughed and nodded in agreement. After another few moments he turned around and walked toward Yanzhi. Bai Qian watched with her arms folded and a feeling of peace as they exchanged words. But to her surprise, they did not leave right away. Instead, Yanzhi was now approaching the corridor.

When she arrived where Bai Qian stood, the Ghost Princess reached into her sleeve pocket and drew out something that looked like a piece of wood tied onto a vine string.

“Take this,” as Yanzhi brought it closer, Bai Qian recognized what it was: It was many strings of wood that had been skillfully weaved into a cylindrical shape. “I have many of these. You can keep this one.”

“A pointer,” Bai Qian exclaimed - a direction finding device made from the twig of a tree spirit, which must have been a tree spirit in the forest near the Ghost Realm in this case. And by the sophisticated look of it, Bai Qian was sure it would be much longer lasting than the kind she usually made herself from Migu’s twigs.

“So you’ll know your way home,” said Yanzhi with a twinkle in her eyes. Bai Qian could not hold back a chuckle as she accepted the little pointer.

Arriving by Zilan’s side, Yanzhi stood straight as Zilan took her hand. Two puffs of silver and charcoal smoke merged and they vanished from sight.


Nine Heavens had not exactly changed since she had last been here. The two guards at the gate greeted Bai Qian, Donghua and Siming with their usual stern faces. Once they were inside, Bai Qian did not refuse Si Ming’s offer to walk her to Xiwu palace since she did not want to look for a maid or a guard and ask for directions.

Leaving her at the gate to Xiwu Palace, Siming excused himself and headed back to Donghua’s place after having instructed the guard at the front to inform the Crown Prince.

Watching the guard stepping through the door, Bai Qian made an effort to compose herself as her heart sped up. Her eyes then averted to the peach blossom trees nearby. I planted these trees 300 years ago, Bai Qian sighed - it was perhaps right after Susu had abandoned him and jumped down Zhuxian terrace. She had never felt nor cared about the depth of Yehua’s devotion for Susu, to her at the time and even now it had been only a story.

Moments later, the guard appeared again at the doorstep and behind him was Yehua in his usual black robe - the dark and cold color that protected him from being read, hid his sorrow from the world.

Since Bai Qian had expected to be asked inside, she now felt slightly overwhelmed to see him approach.

The guard left after having bowed to them both.

“Qianqian,” Yehua smiled, the same kind and caring smile that she could always expect him to have in her presence. And strangely, her hammering heart was calm again.

“Yehua,” she smiled back. Their eyes instantly locked.

“I’m glad you are here,” said the voice that was almost identical to Moyuan’s. Yet Bai Qian had never met with any difficulty telling them apart. “I’ve been wanting to go see you myself.”

The voice was soft but contained a sort of finality that Bai Qian could not deny she was glad to hear. The air was not as agonizing as she had anticipated. Yehua seemed to have prepared what to say and so had she. All they had to do now was find the courage to speak their mind.

“Shall we take a walk?” she suggested. And Yehua nodded, gesturing for her to proceed outside of the hall.

Not knowing her way around the Nine Heavens, Bai Qian let Yehua decide which route to take and followed where he led. But she soon recognized the path they were taking - it was towards the pond with the lotuses with the unique fragrance, to the courtyard where they had announced their engagement to the Celestials. So curiously simple she had been at the time. For a brief moment, Bai Qian knew Yehua was thinking the same thing she was: what could have been between them if she had never discovered Moyuan’s secret. The empty courtyard seemed to remind her how she, Yehua, and A-li could have become a family. The glorious sunlight of the Nine Heavens could not stop the gloom that was creeping into her. Had she known then that what she’d felt for Yehua had not crossed the line of mere esteem and fondness? Perhaps she had. But she had closed her eyes to the doubts and ignorantly believed that those feelings alone would have been enough to reciprocate his deep affection.

They stopped and rested at the railings. Cool vapor was coming up from the pond below, delivering the sweet smell of lotus flowers.

“How was your stay at Kunlun?” Bai Qian spoke when it was apparent that conversation could not be stalled any longer. “Are your injuries healed?”

“I believe they are,” Yehua replied. “It will take some time for me to fully recover. But it won’t be long.”

“I’m glad to hear it. We’ve been worried, especially Shifu.”

“What have I done to deserve such care and devotion,” Yehua sighed, his smile rather bitter.

Everything, Bai Qian wanted to say. In fact, the question should have been: what had they ever done to repay him? The magical grass, the cultivation he had sacrificed to revive Moyuan. Perhaps Yehua had always thought of it as his way to return Moyuan’s long years of care towards the Golden Lotus, but Bai Qian could not help but feel uneasy everytime she imagined the suffering he had had to go through to complete the task she had originally set for herself.

“Just don’t… die again,” said Bai Qian. And Yehua responded to her ‘suggestion’ with a nervous chuckle.

“He -- that is -- High God Moyuan,” Ye Hua began again, his voice was rather excited. And Bai Qian could understand why. She always detected the same tone in Moyuan’s voice whenever he spoke of Yehua, no matter how much it had been minimized by his usual detachment. “He likes to play music into the night a lot. Did you ever notice?”

“I noticed,” replied Bai Qian. I've been at Kunlun longer than you - she added in her head and could not hold back a small grin and a roll of the eyes. It was almost as if he thought he knew Moyuan better than she did. “I used to stay up to listen all the time when I was attending Kunlun.”

His brows furrowed. “The music is -- well -- most of the time very sad.”

“But you can’t stop listening,” said Bai Qian and Yehua at once and they both broke into laughter.

The next few minutes they spent talking about A-li and his trip to the Eastern Forest. Perhaps the one thing that could bring them both joy now was that A-li was no longer in despair.

Their eyes soon met again and Bai Qian knew Yehua was wanting to ask a question, a question she had long prepared the answer to, the reason she had come here in the first place.

“Was there anything more I could have done?” he said at last, his voice breathless.

“No,” the answer escaped from her lips almost instantly. “Because it was never about you.”

And it was indeed over. Yehua’s eyes briefly closed and standing beside him, Bai Qian could see his hand roll up into a fist despite his composure. It seemed that was the ultimate assurance he needed to hear to remove, with his own hand, once and for all the doubt, the hope that had been acting like a dagger clinging on to his bleeding heart. His fingers soon uncoiled. He nodded with a feeble smile, then took a deep breath as he turned to face her.

“I’m sorry about your eyes,” he said, his voice slightly quavering. “I truly am. In truth, an apology isn’t enough.”

“You had no choice,” Bai Qian said. She might have forgotten and could recollect the incident like an outsider, but she knew to him, having to choose between the eyes and the life of the woman he had loved had no doubt been an unforgettably horrible experience - less than what Susu had endured, maybe, but torturous in its own way. “There is no telling if anyone in your position could have done differently. Well,” Bai Qian thought for a while. “I suppose you could have asked me what I wanted to do. But then one of us would still have had to make the choice. And I daresay neither of those options was more appealing than the other.”

“Were you ever angry?”

Angry? Bai Qian pressed her lips together. Perhaps she would have been if at the time Yehua had still ruled over her heart. But someone else had been there for a long time, so long she could no longer remember exactly when she had decided to hand him the power to sway her world.

“I wanted to,” she sighed. “But I simply couldn’t.”

Yehua silently nodded, looking into the distance, pain briefly crossing his face.

“You see, I wish that you could have been. Even a little.”

Bai Qian remained quiet. At the face of his honesty, she did not know how to respond except with silence to convey the fact that she too was sorry for what they both had gone through. A sharp ache rose within her - she had made the choice to take Zheyan’s oblivion potion and had let go. Met with the same pain, perhaps Moyuan too would have been able to let go entirely. But Yehua… Bai Qian could not help but wonder if his wounded heart would ever truly be free or would soon be encased again within a layer of ice like it once had been before Susu had come into his life. Would this love trial ever fully release him from its grip?

“But I must warn you,” she said after a long while, the corner of her lips lifting. “Don’t you ever put another mortal through that again. Ever. Because then you’d have to answer to me.”

“I doubt there will be anything like that again,” he replied, softly laughing. “Ever.”

Then, there was silence, silence in which they stood together for what seemed like a long time. And in silence they turned back; the way back to Xiwu Palace seemed shorter than it really was despite their slow pace. Wordlessly, Bai Qian walked by him, completing their last walk in which Susu and the marriage engagement were still a part of their lives. Her trial had ended, her guilt had dissolved, A-Li had smiled again, the last echoes of those days were disappearing with every step they took. After she would leave this place today, there would be no more to be said about the time they had shared.

Arriving once again at the Hall of Beautiful Youth, they stepped over the threshold and went no further than the little garden at the front. Yehua slowly turned to look at her. His gaze was gentle yet extensive, as if to prolong the final time they would be standing under the peach blossom trees. They would no doubt meet in the future, but never like this again.

A light breeze brushed over the trees, carrying the pleasant scent of the peach blossoms with it as it passed by them. Petals started to fall from their stems and float down. Some quickly found themselves on the still water surface of the pond, others continued their dance in midair, twirling around merrily. The flowers, just like Zheyan’s ten miles of peach blossoms - glorious, forever blooming, forever unaware of the cold sorrow their innocent beauty had brought to the two people standing below.

Bai Qian’s eyes followed a small petal that was floating near Yehua’s black robe. It twirled a few times in the air and landed on his sleeve. Without thinking, she stepped closer and took it into her hand.

Peacefully the blushing petal rested in her palm. A smile spread across her lips as she remembered the first time Yehua had brought Susu to Zheyan’s garden, and how they had met again years later at the same place. Twice the fateful peach blossoms had brought them together, twice they had shared what seemed to be everlasting only to wake up one day and find it had been but an illusion. How ruthless that a test drawn out to serve her immortal ascension, now a mere memory of a distant lifetime, had always been an eternal vow for someone else.

How mercilessly fate had twisted its knife.

Slowly, she brought the petal close to her face and slightly inhaled - the tiny petal that seemed to contain this unbidden tale she had once been a part of, one she was entirely free of now.

“Wonderful thing, the scent of these flowers,” she whispered. “Came and went as if never was, but priceless and irreplaceable.”

And that was what Yehua was to her, to Moyuan: irreplaceable. No matter their past, the utmost goodness in his heart had made Bai Qian wish for a moment she could turn back time. For she would gladly trade her ascension for a chance to meet him again as friends so that neither of them would have to hurt the other, or be ensnared in this torment.

She looked back up at Yehua, offering him the petal.

“Keep it. The peach blossoms will always be ours.”

Reaching forward, Yehua took her hand in his, enclosing the petal within their palms. Bai Qian did not pull back as his hand tightened but simply returned its affection. It was nothing like she had felt before whenever they had been together. There was no longing, no desire, but purely an act of apology, of acceptance, of deep understanding, one final gesture that Bai Qian knew was meant to erase the last of Susu between them.

Letting go, she realized the little petal had disappeared.

Chapter 16