Fanfic: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan 2.0 - Chapter 37 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 37

written by kakashi
edited by LigayaCroft & Panda

“Are you completely out of your mind!” Shao Wan raged at him, yet kept supporting him with her shoulders underneath his uninjured arm on their slow way through town.

Maybe he was, because as accustomed as he was to pain, his body did not appreciate the new one at all, given so many other parts of him still also had some healing to do. His wounded arm throbbed with a vicious fire that sent its effects right into his skull, giving him a blinding headache.

“I was getting tired,” he replied, “of being a spectacle.”

“Bloody stupid Celestial,” she ground out between gritted teeth, “who walks into a sword deliberately?”

“Are you angry most bettors believed I would win?” he chuckled, though that hurt his head. “That just made you even richer.”

“I don’t care,” she huffed, “unfair is unfair! A stolen victory is no victory at all. You’ve ruined my day.” Despite her gruff words, she grabbed his waist a little more forcefully and moved her body a little closer, to be able to support him better.

“Where are we going?” he asked.

“A doctor of course!”

He shook his head. “No. It’s unwise. Even a mortal doctor will realize we’re immortals. It creates issues.” He would make sure they would go see a doctor later, but for her, not for him. His lack of knowledge when it came to pregnancies was disconcerting. A lifetime of reading about strategy and weapons but he was completely clueless about children growing in women’s wombs.

“Look at all the blood you’ve lost!” she replied angrily, pointing to his blood soaked sleeve, “of course I want a doctor to look at you.”

“You get some bandages and do it yourself,” he shrugged. “And then, you get me meat.”

She paused. “Excuse me?”

“Meat. I was told I need to eat meat to replenish my blood.”

“But you don’t eat meat.”

Should he be honored that she remembered that about him? “Well, that changes now,” he said stubbornly. “For a bit.”

“Ha,” she said and continued walking in silence.

In how much trouble was he that he found happiness in just walking beside her like this? Knowing she still remembered him, and more, did not hate him? Just looking at her beauty shining beside him was sufficient. Everything else… he could forget for now.

“Stop staring at me,” she said.

“Take me to an inn,” he said in return. He wanted to do more than stare at her.

“Yes, of course. An inn and two separate rooms.”

“W… what? Why?”

She squinted at him. “That’s what propriety demands, don’t you know that.”

“You are not serious,” he said breathlessly, “are you?”

“Of course I am,” she said with a frown. “Do you think I want to start a war with the Heavenly Tribe? I’m a Demon. Celestials despise us.”

“Shao Wan…”

But she shook her head and clamped her mouth shut and didn’t talk anymore until they reached one of the town’s inns. Apparently, it was where she was staying already. She told him to wait for her in the room that was assigned to him by a visibly curious though intimidated innkeeper so she could organize the bandages and utensils to do stitches.

He got nervous the second she left the room, but a sudden dizziness made it hard to stand up from the plain bed. He therefore settled down with his head in his hands, fighting the nausea and his mounting fears.

Do you mean to tie her to yourself? You cannot imprison her to keep her safe, have you not learned anything?

When he strained his senses, he could feel her nearby. She was still walking away, still brimming with immortal energies. It’s the children, he realized with a start, even if she masks her own aura, theirs are not dimmed.

How to breach the subject to her? Or did she know about her own condition? According to Bai Qian, finding out she was pregnant had scared her deeply at the hut. She seemed fairly stable at the moment, but he meant to find out exactly what the problem was with her memories and more importantly, how to get them back.

Just a little bit longer like this. Just a little bit longer like nothing between us ever went wrong. 

The moment he sensed her turning back, he breathed a little easier. He even allowed himself to lie down. He hadn’t slept in days and he couldn’t deny that he was greatly exhausted. You have this one body, he heard Zhe Yan’s word echo in his head, something he had told him more than once, take care of it a little better, you fool! If he wanted to protect his family, he had to. He had to get his powers back and more. He had to become the most powerful God that had ever existed so nobody could ever hurt anyone he cared for again.

“Are you asleep?” she asked in a whisper when she entered and by then, he was and wasn’t at the same time, drifting in and out of consciousness.

“You must sit up,” she commanded and tugged at his sleeve, “I must tend to your wound.”

He managed that in his drowsiness, content to sit there and look at her, feeling hers and his children’s soothing presence. She bared his chest, shoulder and arm, used some liquid from a small vial to clean the wound and then sewed it shut, with only his pride keeping him from letting her know how much it hurt. When done, she carefully wrapped his arm in soft white bandages.

“You left the Crown Princess unprotected?” she asked him, while pulling the robe back over his shoulder.

“No, she is safe,” he said. “She’s back with her husband, where she belongs.”

“She was nice,” Shao Wan said, “I hope she has a good life.”

She got up to leave, but he grabbed her hand. “Please stay with me.”

“I…”

“Please stay here while I rest. I won’t be able to sleep well otherwise.” If nothing else, than at least this.

She looked at him strangely but settled down at the edge of the bed, leaving her hand in his. The skin was rough, but it was warm and comforting. The deep sleep of exhaustion overcame him almost instantly. Amusing, his last thoughts were, I meant to trick her into taking care of me so that I can better protect her, but now, I’m even incapable of keeping my eyes open.

***

“And you think being all polite and formal will make me forget you walked out on me three times already?” Tian Gu huffed and turned her nose up at Yue. She was wearing her hair open, like she had just made her way out of bed. Yes, a glance in the direction of the tousled bedding confirmed it: even though the sun had risen hours ago, the Horse Princess had just woken up.

“Are you ill?” Yue said full of concern and made a few steps in her direction, but faltered upon realizing how univiting her demeanor was.

She blushed deeply. “I’ve never been ill my entire life.”

Yue smiled a little. He knew the impulse to stay in bed as long as possible all too well. But he’d been forged into a soldier from an early age, it was a luxury so rare to him he did not even dare hope for such leisure anymore. As the Supreme Commander of the Celestial Forces, the God of War himself kept an iron training regime and when people said he hardly slept, Yue believed it. No wonder Tian Gu enjoyed being without obligations for the time being.

“Not even an excuse?” she asked. His puzzled silence made her shake her head. “Don't you know people talk to each other? They don't just share a bed and then disappear!”

She was angry about that? “I had missions to go to,” he shrugged.

She threw up her hands in frustration. “Then tell me! ‘Tian Gu, I had a wonderful time but now I need to go on a secret mission and if I don't get killed, I'll be back in two days.’ Try it, it's not hard!”

A wonderful time… yes indeed. The memories triggered his body instantly. The loose gown she was wearing seemed perfect for ripping open. He wet his lips. Wanting her had become a constant urge.

“Have you come to stare at me while I get dressed?”

“N...no,” he stammered.

“Then step outside and wait until I'm ready! You can undress me with your eyes all you want, you won't get to see any real skin today. Out!”

He had a lot of learning to do, Yue thought as he waited outside for her to get ready, he did not understand most of her reactions. And of course he wanted to learn, but a part of him still didn’t believe… that this would be anything more than a “wonderful time” that lasted a few weeks at best. He had never had a problem with being the Lover and not the Husband before, since being the Purple Queen’s spy entailed getting information through every means available. But this girl was different. He wanted to protect her and cherish her. He wanted to give her presents though he had no money to buy her anything worthy of her status. There was a dull ache in his heart every time he looked at her - because he knew he would never truly have her.

“Are you troubled?” her voice said beside him and he realized he had been staring into empty space, forgetting his duties.

“Forgive me, Princess,” he murmured and bowed to her.

“Stop that,” she said, “you’re not my servant.”

Tian Gu kept saying nice things like this to him, but he did no let himself hope. Hope had been beaten out of him when he had been little and squashed under bodily pain after he had been taken in for vigorous training.

“Is there news of my Shifu?” she demanded to know as they walked.

“No,” he replied truthfully.

“Then what?”

“A decree from the Heavens.”

“By the Great Horse!” she exclaimed, “why do I have to pull every word out of your nose? A decree of the Heavens with what kind of content?”

“The Demon Overlord will inform you.”

“Fine,” she said icily, “don’t tell me yourself.”

She sped up so she was walking in front of him. “Tian Gu,” he grabbed her sleeve, “please stop.”

She did that, at least, glowering at him. So beautiful. “Princess,” he began, “T...Tian Gu,” he added at another angry stare, “I do not mean to be disrespectful. But I have not learned… I do not know how to talk to someone like you. I…”

“Someone like me?” she said, her voice softening, “what do you mean?”

“Someone so…,” he swallowed, “so… alive and beautiful. Someone so full of hope and possibilities. Someone who will… certainly have an influential position in the future. Someone who I… want… but…”

She took his face into her hands then and stood up on her toes to kiss him on the lips. “I understand,” she said afterwards, her hands lingering on his cheeks, “I will try to be patient until you finally realize that someone like you and someone like me are exactly the same. If you have questions, ask me. If you are confused, tell me. If you have important information, let me know.”

He nodded, but the ache in his chest got stronger.

“Unless you cannot tell me because you are sworn to secrecy,” she sighed, “why is this so complicated? Bring me to the Overlord now, Yue. If you have time, please visit me in my chambers afterwards.”

That elicited a smile from him and his heart felt a little lighter afterwards… until they entered the Red Room and he caught his Lady’s last sentence. “... will get in contact with her Father immediately to forge an alliance between our tribes.”

There were greetings exchanged and the Green Demon Lord jumped up to vacate his seat for Tian Gu, since all others were taken. Tian Gu’s bright smile in the direction of his rival made his anger surge, but it was pointless. He may be uneducated in many things, but one thing Yue knew well. Alliances were not forged with words. Alliances were based on promises and even more importantly, on reciprocal securities.

The Purple Queen was very rich and trade was how she expanded her influence. But she was also very cautious. If she was thinking about an alliance with the Horse Tribe, she was most certainly thinking about a more binding arrangement. And the most binding of them all… was intermarriage between Tribes.

Yue had been born with nothing and he would never be anybody. But knowing his place did not stop him from hating the Demon in the room he knew was powerful enough to be Yi Mei Niang’s bargaining chip in what was to come. And who could deny it? Princess Tian Gu and The Green Lord Yu Dian - they looked absolutely perfect together.

***

The Celestial chewed stoically, but the disgust on his face was unmistakable.

“Don’t eat it if you don’t like it,” she told him.

“It’s fine,” he lied.

Shao Wan shook his head at him. The meat wasn’t even good. It was too sinewy and the sauce was too salty, she had barely touched it herself. He always had to see things through until the end though, it was no news to her. That mixture of pride and stubbornness that defined him was rather endearing when he himself suffered because of it.

“Is there more wine?” he asked.

His face was flushed and his eyes glazed, she was pretty sure he had a fever.

“You should drink tea,” she told him.

“But I want wine.”

It was very strange, Shao Wan thought as she watched the Celestial’s face show a trace of displeasure (or maybe desperation), that she felt so safe now that he was with her. That letting him hold her hand before had felt so natural, as if her hand recognized his as a home. That her heart had beat in excitement at their closeness.

It was strange, because her head told her this was not right, they were enemies - but her heart said it was right, they were not. She had decided she would believe her heart, because her head was clearly not okay.

They were no longer young, that she could sense. But where had all the years gone? Where her memories should be, there was a black hole. The longer she stared into it, the blacker it became. It also got bigger as she stared, so she stopped looking and pretended it wasn’t there.

She had started to repeat things she knew about herself under her breath. Her name. Her status. Her purpose in life. The parts of her story she remembered. It was a way to stabilize her existence, because if she didn’t, she feared she might cease to exist entirely.

That was why she had been so shocked to find out she carried unborn lives in her belly.

Her world had tilted on its head, had thrown her into a whirlwind of instability. She did not remember anything about begetting children. She had been certain she had lost her mind. She had run, like that could bring back sanity.

But the children were there. She felt their tiny hearts’ rapid heartbeats, like birds fluttering their wings. She was going to be a mother of babies born from her womb. In order to believe it and not lose it again to the black hole, she was now adding this to her mantra. Shao Wan. Demon Ancestor. Be Overlord again. Be a Mother.

But how was one being a mother? She had had no mother. She didn’t even know many mothers. She had not known many fears in her life, but this… this was terrifying.

It had been hours before the Celestial stirred again, yet she had barely noticed the passage of time. Just being there, with him … his hand warm and solid, an anchor to reality, someone who knew her, who could help her. He would bring back the parts she’d lost. He would make sure she didn’t lose them again.

“Celestial,” she began haltingly.

“Yes, Shao Wan,” he replied. The ease and familiarity with which he called her by her name pleased her as much as it scared her.

“Something has come to my attention.”

“Yes?”

“It’s…,” why did she feel so embarrassed? “I am pr….”

“You know about it?” he eagerly said, “you remember?”

“You know it too?” she asked astounded. “And do Zhe Yan and Donghua also know?”

“Yes they do,” he said, “they even knew before me.”

“Before you!”

She had… questions. She dared not ask them. What if… what if she was wrong, what if they were…

“I am sorry I failed you,” he said very quietly.

She was beginning to panic. What did that mean? Instability threatened to tilt the word. She gripped the table hard, forcing herself to breath deeply. Shao Wan. Demon Ancestor. Be Overlord again. Be a Mother. Shao Wan. Demon Ancestor. Be Overlord again. Be a Mother. Shao Wan. Demon Ancestor. Be Overlord...

“Shao Wan,” he said and grabbed her hand, “Shao Wan look at me. Look at me.”

She did. But why was he even here? What had happened to their powers?

“Are they yours?” she pressed out, hoping, but so afraid, bracing herself for the whirlwind of destruction, the black hole’s evil deception.

“Yes of course,” he said, “ours. We’ll be a family.”

Family?

Tears shot into her eyes. Embarrassing. She wiped them away, even though they were alone in the inn’s dining area, but new ones pressed forward behind them, trickling down her cheeks. Shao Wan. Demon Ancestor. Be Overlord again. Be a Mother. Have a Family.

“What a gift,” he said, his own voice thick with emotions, “I’ve never dared to hope for such happiness and luck.”

Shao Wan. Demon Ancestor. Be Overlord again. Be a Mother. Have a Family. Be happy.

“Can I embrace you?” he asked, edging closer.

She nodded, but was he not afraid of his Father’s wrath? Fuxi’s son, the father of children growing in a Demon’s womb. He put his arms around her and pulled her close.

“Does your Father know?” she whispered.

“He is gone, Shao Wan,” he whispered back, “he scattered over 260’000 years ago.”

What? She buried her face into his neck, closing her eyes, breathing in his familiar scent, ignoring the black hole that wanted to get her attention. 260’000 years…

Somebody cleared his throat. They shot apart like children caught eating stolen peaches from a sacred tree, but it was only the innkeeper, his eyes averted. “Customers,” he coughed, “is there anything else you want?”

I want my memories back! Shao Wan wanted to scream, but she said “no, thank you,” instead just as Mo Yuan said, “some more green tea, please.”

“Bring that to his room,” Shao Wan ordered and tugged at Mo Yuan’s hand. “And you are coming to mine.”

The Celestial blinked two times before his eyes started shining in anticipation. “To talk in private,” she added, just to see them change. But he just laughed. “Of course. To talk.”

Her broken head could not quite understand when in the missing 260’000 years the Celestial had stopped being haughty, buttoned-up and much too proper. It was like there were two versions of him, but one was like a ghost, a hazy non-memory… and the other, the man before her and the man she had known when she had been young, was the opposite of haughty and buttoned-up and most obviously, not proper at all - he did not even try to hide that he hoped to do more than talking, despite his poor health.

Was it her head that insisted on caution? She did remember they had made love at the lake before she had run away after realizing she was pregnant. She had felt his Water Dragon Yang energy swirl against her Fire Phoenix Yin, thirsty for balance, yet in disarray. Being one with him was both something she wanted very much and yet feared almost more. Because if she lost herself to him, she might never again be able to assemble what she had forgotten.

Up the stairs they went and into her small room. Shao Wan closed the door behind them just in case and indicated for the Celestial to sit down at the table in the corner.

“What happened in those 260’000 years?” she asked him.

Silence descended. And with each second that went by that he did no speak, she knew she should not have asked.

“Don’t tell me yet,” she said.

“All that matters is that you are here with me now,” he said.

His hair… in Demon braids. Whatever had happened, he had let her braid his hair and he was still carrying them. Champion. Her champion. Whatever had happened to them to rob them off their power and keep them on a mortal world, he was here with her.

“You do not want to talk, do you,” she said and looked him up on down. What a fine man.

“Afterwards,” he said. “Maybe.”

That was fine. She stepped up to him and bent down to kiss him. Fine… or not. Like an echo, a memory? She thought that maybe, not talking had been a problem before between them. But - not talking was just so convenient.