Fanfiction3: A-Li's Three Lives, Three Worlds - Chapter 62 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 62

written by LigayaCroft
edited by kakashi & Panda

It had been days since Qianling was ripped from her arms even though for Huo Zheng, it still felt like it had happened only yesterday. That day, Chen Tzu had ordered four maidservants to take Qianling while her grandmother stood quietly to the side. Using only the glare from her good eye, Nǎinai had rendered A-Li, Gun Gun and Zūzu immobile from helping her out. Huo Zheng had suffered the indignity alone as her baby was taken away from her, screaming her throat sore as her arms were emptied of her little ray of sunshine.

In the days that had followed, Huo Zheng allowed herself to stare at the ceiling of her bed and grieve. Having A-Li around helped. He ran the town while she was indisposed, he fed her healthy meals, and he was just… there. He didn't even talk unless spoken to. He would come in several times a day to bring her food, reach out to give her a gentle touch— a caress to the side of her cheek, a squeeze on her hand, a sweet smile— and then he was gone again until the next meal.

Huo Zheng didn't realize how much comfort his short visits brought her, and how much it cost him all this time until one particular afternoon, Gun Gun surprised Huo Zheng by bringing her food.

“Where’s A-Li?” She asked, immediately sitting up from her bed, for the first time that day.

“He’s in a meeting with some traders and couldn’t get away,” Gun Gun replied, laying down her food tray on the table before moving to the window to draw the curtains. “Xiăohŭ, has Li-Gē ever told you of the darkest time of his life?”

Gun Gun asked it as if he was flatly asking about the scenery outside but it was enough to pique her attention.

“You must be talking about the time when his wife died,” she answered, reaching out her hands for the bowl of millet and chopsticks.

Gun Gun shook his head. Huo Zheng sat entranced at the sight of his tied-up hair shining in the exposed afternoon sun. While their manes were so different, in so many ways A-Li and Gun Gun’s maternal lineage showed through their similar facial features, like their noses, their lashes and their flirtatious smiles. Seeing Gun Gun today made Huo Zheng miss A-Li more, despite the fact that he had stopped by during breakfast.

“There was a time much worse than that. When Li-Gē was 300 years old, about the equivalent of a mortal three-year old, his Majesty, who was then the Crown Prince, died to save the Realms.”

The chopstick-full of rice in her hand arrested halfway to her lips. “Died? But isn’t he—”

“Alive?” Gun Gun lips curved to one side. ”We, gods, are hard to kill. But rest assured, His Majesty slept the sleep of the dead for three years— and Li-Gē’s mother, my mother’s Aunt, was in so much grief, she left their child in the care of his paternal relatives.”

“That is… terrible,” was all she could say, just thinking of how scary it must have been for A-Li at the time.

“Was it?” Gun Gun pushed the bowl of steaming soup closer toward her, his features downcast. “Li-Gē was born by the mortal incarnation of Her Majesty, my Mother’s Aunt. The status of his birth, and the way his Mother cast him aside during His Majesty’s death, still reverberates among Celestials to this day. I am telling you all these as his future Wife and Mother of my future Cousin. Li-Gē’s good qualities that we all admire, his empathy, his compassion, his sensitivity, came at a heavy price.”

Ants seem to crawl all over Huo Zheng’s chest as she thought of a young A-Li as he coped with losing not one but two parents. How hard it must have been to suppress his own terror and grief while Celestial eyes turned to observe how a child dealt with being left alone not once, but twice.

While she felt empathy for his Mother, the little she knew of The Heavenly Empress made no excuse for the woman's behavior at that time. So how did that excuse her own behavior of shutting her future husband out during this time? A-Li loved Qianling too. And so had Mei Lin and Gun Gun.

“And if you ever thought his decision to take you as his main wife came as a frivolous whim or was borne out of a misguided effort to repay you,” Gun Gun continued, his dark as coal eyes fathomless as they looked into her soul, “given what you now know of his past, I will ask you to reconsider. Li-Gē will do anything for his Family, but marrying you sends a clear message of how his priorities have changed. There's more to him than what meets the eyes, which you will get to know soon, and his words always hold true. You have for yourself a good man, a loyal man, and he loves you.”

Citing that he still had to help fire the tea leaves before the afternoon rains arrived, Gun Gun left soon afterward.

For the sake of the baby in her belly, Huo Zheng forced herself to eat but her thoughts were all on A-Li. Orphaned of a father and abandoned by his mother at such a young age then widowed in his youth— no wonder he held himself in a way more dignified than Gun Gun and Mei Lin did.

She remembered his very words the day after Qianling was taken from her.

I know it hurts but I hope sooner rather than later you’ll realize life must go on, Xiăohŭ.

In her grief, she had rebuked his words and in fairness to him, he had been quick to apologize. At the time she had thought it was all the selfish musings of a spoiled and pampered man. Now she knew those words were drawn out of a rock in tears and blood.

Life must go on.

There were still other things that she could focus on. She had a town to run, a wedding to plan, a betrothed to attend to, and future offspring to look forward to. It was not enough to fill the Qianling-shaped hole in her heart, but for now, it was enough. She just had to keep moving or else she might never be able to move again at all.

So for the first time in days, she took a bath, got dressed and went out of the house. Dark clouds had already gathered overhead and the air hung damp so Huo Zheng rushed down the street as fast as she could to find A-Li. Following the directions of the locals that he was last spotted at the kilns, Huo Zheng turned and ran for the huts to the West of the town just as the first drops of rain fell hard against her skin, turning the dusty ground dark in no time at all.

It was A-Li who found her and called her attention, pulling her to the side of a hut.

“Xiăohŭ, are you alright?” he asked, his hands wiping at the water that streamed down her face. “What are you doing outside in the rain?”

There was no roof overhead but he had on a straw rain coat which he immediately took off and put over her shoulders. His straw hat followed which he snugly placed on top of her head.

Huo Zheng could only momentarily stare and allow his actions to warm her heart. Could it be that she had been sentenced to countless mortal lifetimes so she could experience what it was like to live being loved by this man that was a god?

“You're shaking,” she heard him say as he pulled her in. His arms wrapped around her back underneath the straw cape to transfer some warmth as he rubbed at her back over her robe. “Xiăohŭ, come. Let's find shelter.”

“I’m sorry,” she said against his chest, embarrassed. “I was weak-spirited but now I’m back. You're not leaving me, are you?”

A-Li’s chest rumbled against her cheek, causing her to look up. It was not fair but for a man, his lashes were just too long. The moisture in its strands gave the sparkle in his eyes a magical sheen.

“Even if the seas should run dry and the rocks crumble to dust,” he said solemnly, fixing her hat so that the rainwater that dripped from the tip of his nose to the side of her face was blocked. “There is nowhere else you will find me but by your side.”

“Oh gods—” she gasped at the trill she felt at his spoken words.

“Which god?” He asked, his wide smile matched by the unparalleled light in his eyes. A double-loaded joke, and a throwback to their first night.

“Me,” she answered, bravely meeting his gaze. Goosebumps raised on her arms and nape as a shifting feeling near her heart fluttered, causing mild pain.

It all made sense to her now.

She loved him. More than she’d ever want to admit, more than she’d ever care to tell. Maybe she eventually would, after the wedding, or maybe after their baby was born. Maybe…

Fire danced between their breaths before their lips merged and their tongues intertwined. It had been days and she missed him so much, her lips now showing just how much by marking a path across his jawline.

“Not here,” he groaned, pulling her by the hand toward one of the closed sheds where the village stored wood and hay for the kilns.

Huo Zheng removed her hat and coat while her eyes adjusted to the dark that enclosed upon them as soon as A-Li locked the door.

“Is it…” A-Li asked tentatively as he hugged her from behind, the proof of his desire hard against a buttock. “The baby, will it be safe?”

Her throat was so dry that she could only nod her answer, trying to catch her breath as A-Li nuzzled her nape while she undid the ties of her clothes. Why had they even waited this long because of the request from Nǎinai to preserve their dignity in front of the village by engaging in wholesome courtship activities prior to the wedding? When one had already tasted what heaven felt like, how could they not go back for seconds? Thirds?

Her skirt was bunched upwards until one hand met the heat of her inner thighs and the fingers of the other found and expertly thrummed a rhythm against her nub. It caused her to fall forward as her knees were turned liquid by desire - if not for his other hand that had already splayed its fingers on her stomach. This restored her balance and at the same time pressed her lower back even closer against the thick and hard ridge of his sex.

She turned and tentatively placed her hands on A-Li’s chest. With her eyes now able to see in the dark, she saw the heat in his half-slitted gaze on her lips before he swooped to seal his mouth over hers, his tongue tasting her in hungry licks that drove her wild.

She was vaguely aware of the sound of bundled up firewood landing in dull thuds on the bamboo slat floor, swept aside byA-Li so he could hoist her slightly up until her buttocks rested just on the edge of the table. Then he stepped in between her legs, untying the last tie that held her inner robes together. Her clothes parted to the sides, leaving her bared to his sight. His hand reverently cupped a breast, and she had to bite her lip to drown out a sob because his callused fingers rubbing, stroking and pinching at her nipple felt overwhelmingly good.

She had already noticed that her pregnancy had made her breasts extra sensitive but she hadn’t realized just how sensitive they were until he took a nipple into his mouth. She could only hope that the rain drowned out the shout that escaped her lips at that first lick and suck.

“Not too hard,” she begged as red mixed with white in her head at the pleasure sourced from pain that he wrought upon her. But when he changed his pace to a gentler one, she groaned in discontent and by pulling on his hair, made him look up to hear her command. “Not too gentle either.”

He was so good, moving to her other breast and paying it the right amount of homage that made her squirm at just the right amount of pain-pleasure. This was instantly compounded when two fingers sought entrance into her and began thrusting, his thumb making pleasure circles and swipes around and on her nub.

His eyes gleamed when he let go of her breast to look at her, the arrogance in his smile as he raised his right hand that still glistened with her juices then popped the middle finger inside his mouth to give it a suck, made her whimper with embarrassment and desire.

“You’re so wet for me, Xiăohŭ,” he informed her, his right index finger drawing a slippery circle around her nipple which made her stomach tighten in response. “So wet and so tight. I want to be inside you now.”

“Then what are you waiting for?” she asked at the edge of her breath, her heart racing, her eyes taking stock of the proof of his desire that now tented against his robes. Her legs wantonly opened wider, inviting him in.

Only to try to shut them closed again when she saw him get to his knees presumably to kiss her there.

“Open up for me,” he growled, his hands applying gentle force against her shaking thighs to spread them apart again. His serious eyes met hers over her belly and for the space of one breath, Huo Zheng seriously considered running away.

Nobody had kissed her there before. To Huo Zheng, the concept felt more intimate than penetration itself, and she was too risk-averse to relinquish this type of control to anyone.

“Open up, goddess,” he repeated, dropping a kiss on each of her kneecaps. “Let me in. Let me worship.”

“Oh A-Li,” she sighed, her hands reaching out for him. He let go of her thighs to hold her hands in each of his. With one last trusting look on his face, she closed her eyes and slowly laid her back down on the table while at the same time baring her thighs open to him, blood rushing to her ears.

“Beautiful,” Huo Zheng heard him murmur through the roar in her ears. His shoulders came under her thighs, angling her. Warm air was blown to her flesh before his tongue started licking and parting her already sensitive folds.

Moaning became a struggle to not be an option. Hips churning relentlessly at the edge of the table, she pulled her left hand back from his hold so she could cover her mouth to suppress the soft sounds from escaping her throat.

“Come for me.”

It was hard not to, especially after his freed hand put two fingers inside to scissor and rub at her sensitive spot while his tongue peppered her bud with licks and sucks that alternated between soft and hard to drive her wild.

The heels of her feet dug into his back as she desperately coiled and uncoiled to chase her release. When he suddenly pulled out his thrusting fingers and replaced it with his tongue, the shallow plunges alternated with dizzying licks finally sent her over the edge… and beyond.

Her core clenched with the force of her orgasm and the shout that escaped her lips became inevitable to stop. She was vaguely aware of how her nails must have broken the skin of the back of the hand in her grip and yet, she couldn't stop. Her trembling thighs kept his head captive for the several breaths that she lost as she rode the wave and crashed to shore. He goaded her with his groans delivered through his now softer kisses and gentler licks, sending vibrations to her swollen and sensitive flesh which made her climax roll on and on.

He unclasped their hold and with hands now holding each of her thighs, A-Li pulled himself to his full height in front of her, sliding his palms along her flesh so he could wrap her legs around his waist. He gathered her hands and held them over her head with his left while with his right, he lined himself against her slick entrance, slipping the thick head to part her still throbbing flesh. She exhaled through her teeth at the sting of discomfort that she still felt at that first thrust and impossible as it was, he did feel much larger this time.

With another flex of his hips, digging himself deeper and then another, A-Li finally drove himself to the hilt. Huo Zheng had to bite hard at her lower lip to prevent a prolonged moan from escaping as his considerable length slotted into place from head to root. But it was A-Li who ended up groaning his pleasure, the intensity of his gaze on her so mesmerizing that she couldn't look away.

“It feels different,” she whispered, wishing he would move.

“You're so snug. Ah, don't squeeze me like that, Xiăohŭ. You don't know how close I am.”

Maybe it was her pregnancy but she definitely felt more sensitive down there. Now she could swear she could feel the ridges formed by veins that bulged on his length along her engorged inner flesh. Wanting to feel more of him, she undulated her hips, causing them both to moan.

“I want to take it slow but I can’t,” he told her, his eyes begging her to understand.

How long had they waited? Two months?

“I’m close too,” she writhed, lifting the small of her back, relishing the mixture of pain and pleasure that it brought her. “Take me. Hard.”

He didn't need to be told twice.

His gaze suddenly turning dark, A-Li’s arms hooked under her knees, holding her open to meet his powerful thrusts. The table squeaked with the force of their movements in time with his grunts every time he bottomed out but even that was not enough. He suddenly stopped thrusting midway and while rolling his hips, A-Li lifted her upper body in his sweaty arms, changing the angle of their connection which elicited a moan from her.

“I can't get enough of you,” he whispered against the side of her lip then angled her a little back down at half an arm’s length to meet his next thrust.

Huo Zheng held on to his shoulders and as much as she wanted to still look at his beautiful face as he took her with brutal grinding force, pleasure won and made her eyes go to the back of her head in ecstasy. She chased her own climax by clenching against him, trying to keep him deep.

Then she came with such violent intensity that it wrangled a surprised shout from her before she gradually turned limp in his arms. A-Li laid her back down on the table, his forearms and hands cradling her back and head, his hips still pounding relentlessly toward his own orgasm.

He growled when he came, groaning her name again and again against her breasts, her neck. Drained of strength, all Huo Zheng could do was to cup his nape and let her fingers play with his hair as he released into her in thick and hot spurts.

She took the opportunity to enjoy the feeling of being one with him, the calming sensation of being truly his even though he didn't know it yet. Her heart burst with light from the freedom she had just permitted herself to experience. To surrender. To love. She might not be ready to say the words to him yet, but there were other ways to show him, to assure him, that she was his as much as he was hers.

“I’m too heavy. The baby—” he said as he pushed his upper body up, his eyes scanning her from her face down to where they were still joined then back again. “Did I hurt you? The baby?”

Still out of breath, all she could do was to shake her head. He was still hard inside her and if possible, he was getting even harder.

“I want you again,” He looked to the side and muttered an expletive before returning his eyes to her again, aflame with desire. “But this won’t do. People are surely looking for us by now.”

She whimpered at her loss as he withdrew from her. With great efficiency, he cleaned her up with a handkerchief before helping her stand up.

“Mine,” he uttered in awe, looking at her from head to toe before helping her to put her clothes back on.

Mine, Huo Zheng thought as she traced the outlines of his chiseled arms after she slipped her arms inside her tunic sleeves. Mine, she repeated to herself as she openly stared at his patrician features.

Mine. He’s mine.



Huo Zheng had never been one for whimsy dreams but as they walked out of the shed with his hand gently supporting her above the small of her back, she couldn't help but give in.

“Tell me again about that peach blossom grove,” she requested, squeezing A-Li’s hand. During the space of their official courtship, he had told her many great things about his family and where he came from, and now she wanted to hear some more. “I think it sounds more fascinating than the Ninth Heaven where you live.”

He chuckled, shaking his head. “It’s beautiful but there's hardly anything to do out there. Especially now that nobody’s living there.”

“You said there’s wine.”

“Which Old Man Zhe Yan will kill us for if we touch.”

“He sounds like a fascinating character. And you said he’s as old as your Uncle? Your Father’s twin? How is that so?”

A small smile danced on his lips. “I understand it might sound confusing but my Father Lord died before he was even born when his Mother tried to save Creation from annihilation. His Father tried to save him by turning his soul into a sleeping lotus and had asked my BóFù (伯父), Zūzu’s Father, to watch over it for thousands of years to come— which my BóFù dutifully did. At one point, my Mother who was his student at the time had even been tasked to care for my Lotus-Father.”

Huo Zheng frowned. Just how many times exactly does the world have to fall into ruin? She shuddered at the thought of what would have happened had A-Li’s Father not survived. She would like to believe that it was no coincidence that she and A-Li had met twice, that she had fallen in love with him twice, and couldn't imagine how alone she would have felt otherwise.

Shifting to more cheerful thoughts, she focused on the new detail that she had just learned.

“So your Mother was your Bófù’s student but she married your Father who was once a lotus?”

“Zhe Yan used to be her Shifu until he passed her on to his good friend, my BóFù, the God of War, Mo Yuan. We think it was because he needed the time to chase after my Jiùjiu (舅舅) whom he's committed to.” He chuckled. “It’s a long-standing family saga, Zhe Yan and my Jiùjiu’s love story.”

“But Zhe Yan is as old as your Wàizǔfù (姥爷)…” she started off then shook her head. “I will never understand how age works in your realms.”

The rain was gone but now the ground had gone soft and mud puddles had started to form everywhere. He assisted her down a steep incline so they can join the main road.

“It just occurred to me— what if I am much older than you?” she asked aloud.

“You know about my parents’ age gap. It doesn't matter to me. Does it matter to you?”

Together they ran using small steps for more stability down the grassy incline with A-Li going first. He caught her in his arms as soon as they got to the road. Huo Zheng allowed a couple of breaths to nestle in his arms before she pulled back with a laugh.

“I just hope we are not related.”

“I don't have missing relatives, if that's what you're worried about.” He bowed to a town elder who passed them by with a smile but then he suddenly stopped to look at her, eyes wide. “Wait, you have never shown this much interest before. Are you… are we…”

She walked ahead and couldn't help but smile as A-Li sputtered behind her. She had been adamant that she had no plans of moving to the immortal realms, partly because of her duties to Huicūn and partly because of her fears of discovery at the hands of immortals. A-Li had never pushed the subject every time she pulled back, putting the topic on hold for another day despite his utmost desire to have their child automatically born as an immortal.

“Xiăohŭ—” he said in a downward tone.

Children are an extension of their parents, she had often been often taught in school and Huo Zheng couldn't help but wonder now just what kind of parents she would be acquiring for in-laws. From the stories she had heard over the past few days she could conclude A-Li had a very caring Father, a free-spirited Mother, and a very liberal Shifu. She knew that the strength behind his decision not to formally gain his family's permission to get wed came from his own Father’s prior decision not to seek permission prior to marrying his Mother’s mortal form, and that was also because there were politics involved that would've gotten in the way of the union. As it was, sometimes it was better to apologize than to seek permission.

She faced him, still walking backwards.

“I was thinking, maybe after we have set up the town under new leadership, once Nǎinai is gone, and after you have informed your parents about us,” she stroked at her belly for emphasis. “Maybe we could live at that Peach Grove you have told me about.”

Huo Zheng stopped and watched in fascination as a tentative smile built on A-Li’s face which slowly began to sink in until with a bark of laughter, he closed the steps that separated them, and enclosed her in his arms.

“Are you sure?” he asked, tucking a strand of her hair behind her ear. “The Peach Grove, it’s…”

“We’re farmers. We will survive there,” she assured him, running her hands along his arms. Too much touching in public was frowned upon but with A-Li, her hands could never get enough. She thought about the autonomy the isolated Peach Grove could provide them with no other eyes looking about, judging, as she could touch him all she wanted and also raise their child.

Well, children. At the rate of touching they were currently at, there would definitely be children in their future.

“You’re grinning,” A-Li asked, offering a bemused smile. “And in broad daylight, too.”

Ah, how to tell this man, this god? She wanted to meet his Father and thank him for raising a wonderful son. Huo Zheng couldn't help but continue grinning as she thought of how he would be so happy when she finally said the words.


For now, she placed her palm on the side of his right cheek, sliding it down so her fingers could trace his jawline.

“I am smiling because all is well, that's why.”

Chapter 63