Jun Huang tilted her head up. Under the candlelight, her eyes shone with tears threatening to fall, but she blinked it away.
Nan Xun sighed and covered her eyes. He’d always loved them, so unmatched in their beauty. But at the same time, her eyes had turned cold because of all the tragedies she’d witnessed.
“You are my wife no matter what, Jun Huang. I won’t ever let go of you.” He gazed at her deeply, gently expressing his love for her. “I’m willing to be alone for three lives in exchange for a lifetime with you. I don’t care what others think. You’re the only one for me.”
Jun Huang widened her eyes. During their brief time together, Nan Xun had always been proud and dignified despite the occasional jest he made, and there was an inherent air of steeliness to him. She never thought he would be capable of such tender words.
She lowered her eyes. Is this how you used to treat the woman I was?
She didn’t voice her question. It was too hurtful, and she knew Nan Xun’s confession had been for her benefit. Her earlier self-doubt did seem uncharacteristic of her. She never considered herself a sentimental woman, and yet she was so anxious because of a man.
Nan Xun didn’t know what she was thinking about. He held her hand and warmed her fingers up with the heat of his palms.
Broken out of her trance, Jun Huang gave him a small smile, but didn’t say anything.
Nan Xun considered her room. Jun Huang wasn’t bothered by that. She walked up to the window and looked out at the scenery, pale and almost lifeless. It made her feel cold just by looking at it.
She turned and fell into a warm embrace. Chuckling, she took a step away from Nan Xun, who took a step forward to keep close to her.
“Look outside. The moon cast a silver glow and the world radiates such coldness it’s even visible,” Nan Xun said quietly, his tone pleading. “If I go now, I’m going to catch a cold. Then I won’t be able to come visit you.”
Jun Huang frowned in contemplation, her lips pursed and her unreadable eyes downcast. Nan Xun waited for her answer patiently.
If she kicked him out, he wouldn’t complain. It was good enough for him to watch Jun Huang, even from afar. He considered himself lucky.
Still, he got nervous when Jun Huang looked up at him. He held his breath like a man awaiting the verdict of his trial.
Jun Huang laughed and closed the window. “It’s pretty windy today, and Yin Yun and Jun Hao are at your place. You won’t have a place to stay. And I - ”
“Yes, your brother has Yin Yun, and you should have me to guard you,” Nan Xun said with a grin. He knew Jun Huang would be too bashful to openly ask him to stay.
With a blush, she huffed and lay down on her bed.
It had been an eventful day. Her temples started throbbing once exhaustion set in. She closed her eyes, seemingly having fallen asleep.
Nan Xun gingerly lay down next to her. Before he could put his arms around her, she opened her eyes.
They were bright and steely like the stars in the sky. Nan Xun awkwardly pulled his hands back, struggling to come up with something to say.
Jun Huang was surprised by his lack of explanation. She glanced at him and raised an eyebrow. Nan Xun was preoccupied and didn’t seem to notice.
They stayed silent for a long time before Jun Huang said, “I thought I was tired, but I couldn’t fall asleep. Would you mind telling me about our past? Maybe that’ll jog my memory.”
Nan Xun smiled wryly and patted her head with a sigh. “If so, I’ll tell you everything… Since you want to know, there’s nothing I can’t tell you about our past. You don’t have to dwell on it. Just let things happen on their own. I won’t blame you even if you don’t remember anything. Your health comes first.”
Jun Huang nodded and turned to him, waiting for him to start. Nan Xun chuckled at her hopeful expression and started talking about their story.
It was a long and captivating one. Jun Huang listened with rapt attention, but only in the way one would a thrilling tale. Slowly, her breathing grew long and slow until she fell asleep.
Nan Xun stopped talking and looked at her, his eyes filled with adoration. She looked peaceful in her sleep. It slowed his heart and made him feel as if the coming storm had nothing to do with them.
He leaned over and dropped a light kiss on her forehead before falling asleep with Jun Huang’s hand in his.
Early the next morning, Jun Huang woke up to Nan Xun sitting by the bed and looking at her. She blinked the haziness out of her eyes and cleared her throat as she sat up.
“After breakfast, come back to your room, and I’ll take you to Jun Hao,” said Nan Xun. “He must have woken up by now.”
Jun Huang nodded, excited despite herself. She had breakfast delivered to her room and dismissed the maids, claiming to want peace as she recovered. The mistress had also ordered them to not bother Jun Huang these couple of days, which made it easier for Jun Huang to leave with Nan Xun.
They snuck past the guards in the manor and made their way to Nan Xun’s safehouse. Jun Huang seemed calm and collected, but Nan Xun knew she was anything but.
Noting that Nan Xun was looking at her, Jun Huang asked with a frown, “What is it?”
“When you see him… don’t let Jun Hao know what happened to you. He’s still a naive boy. It’ll do more harm than good for him to know everything. There’s no reason to make him worry. What do you say?”
“I know.” Jun Huang nodded. Nan Xun patted her shoulder reassuringly. The warmth made her feel less like she was going to break from the seams.
Jun Hao turned to her from the bed when she opened the door. His eyes lit up when he saw her. Jun Huang’s chest tightened.
“Big sister, I know you’ll find me!” Jun Hao jumped off the bed and threw himself at Jun Huang, holding tightly to her. His whole body trembled with excitement and joy, his hands clutching her sleeves and refusing to let go.
Jun Huang was caught off guard. She looked down at her brother. His teary eyes made her feel even more helpless. As she’d done many times in the past, she reflexively turned to Nan Xun for help when she didn’t know what to do. Nan Xun snorted fondly.
He patted Jun Hao on the shoulder, who looked up at Nan Xun, his eyes red and pitiful.
Nan Xun bent down and sighed. “Don’t cling to her. Your sister has been ill. She’s finally recovered somewhat. If you keep pressuring her, she may get sick again.”
With some hesitation, he continued, “You should all speak your mind now. There’s no telling how much time we’ll have. You must have a lot of things to tell each other. We’re all on the same side here. There’s no need for you to hold back.”
Jun Hao burst into tears, bawling so hard it broke everyone’s heart.
It’s a good thing we’ve kept what happened to Jun Huang from him, Nan Xun thought. Or the boy is going to cry even harder.
Jun Huang’s heart ached for Jun Hao. The familial bond between them remained despite her loss of memory.
“Alright, stop crying. You look terrible when you cry.” She swallowed down a sob. Her eyes stung. It pained her to hear Jun Huang crying out for his big sister.
Jun Hao was still a child. It was only natural that he wouldn’t be able to let go of the sister he’d been apart from for so long. No matter what Jun Huang did, she couldn’t make him stop crying. Eventually, she held him tight and started sobbing as well, affected by his outburst.
Nan Xun sighed. He didn’t want to be a bother, so he walked out of the room, giving them their privacy.
Yin Yun rushed up to him. The faint wailing coming from the room made his heart ache, but he didn’t dare barge in.
“What’s going on?” he asked.
Nan Xun closed the door behind him after a final glance. “It’s natural for them to react that way after reuniting with their only family,” he said with a sigh. “It’s better to let them be than to have them suppress their feelings.”