Neither of them said anything. In the end, Jun Huang fell asleep in Nan Xun’s arms.
His eyes turned soft as he looked at her candle-lit face. Carefully, he moved her to the bed and tucked her in.
He spent the night sitting by the bed. Jun Huang held onto his hand and didn’t let go until the day broke. Nan Xun rose to his feet and stretched his numb limbs before leaving for his safehouse.
When he arrived, he asked his shadowguard where Oleg Cragfiend was. He was told that the old master had woken up and was taking care of the herbs he’d planted in the backyard.
Nan Xun told Oleg Cragfiend about Jun Huang’s nightmare. After a brief pause, the old man said, “It’s a normal reaction. What happened to the emperor of Eastern Wu triggered the memory hidden in her mind. That’s why she recovered the bad memories first and keeps having nightmares. What she dreams about is what she least wants to recall.”
Nan Xun understood part of the explanation. The violent scene that day must have been stressful to Jun Huang. Of all the memories she might recover, it was the tragedy that plagued her dreams.
He sighed without a word and told himself that he’d spend more time with Jun Huang.
“It’s not necessarily a bad thing,” said Oleg Cragfiend, his tone serious. “Had she had her memory, she wouldn’t have reacted that violently to what happened at the banquet. She’s kept her trauma hidden. The less she’s willing to open up to others, the more it hurts her. The fact that she can talk to you about it means she’s healing. Only after the worst pain would an injury heal. That’s what is happening to her. Once she picks herself up, she won’t be trapped by her nightmares anymore. Therefore… what you should do is to help her move on.”
Nan Xun considered Oleg Cragfiend’s words carefully. The poison master had a point. Jun Huang had been difficult to read. She kept everything, pain and suffering included, to herself. This was an opportunity for him to help her.
With his mind made up, Nan Xun walked away. Oleg Cragfiend looked at the general thoughtfully. Nan Xun had proven time and again that he had more of a heart than his reputation would suggest.
I hope the silly girl has truly met a man who loves her. Oleg Cragfiend sighed, silently praying for Jun Huang.
His relationship with Jun Huang hadn’t always been good, and he only approached her to use her as a test subject. However, they had spent quite some time together. He couldn’t not feel sympathy for the girl. He knew how deeply Jun Huang cared under her cold facade. He hoped Nan Xun would never wrong her.
For the next few days, Nan Xun never left Jun Huang’s side. At first Jun Huang hadn’t noticed, but then she realized that Nan Xun was always around whenever she checked. It made her feel safe.
“Don’t you have other things to take care of?” Jun Huang couldn’t help but ask. She put away her book and looked at Nan Xun questioningly.
Nan Xun ruffled her hair and chuckled. “Nothing is more important than you.”
Jun Huang’s heart swell, her eyelashes shuddering. There was an undeniable warmth in her chest. “I get that, but I’m alright. I must have made you worried that night. But - ”
“What are you talking about? I just want to spend time with you.” Nan Xun played ignorant and knelt down to take Jun Huang’s hands, his eyes serious.
Jun Huang smiled, her mood brightened. “If so, tell me another story about us.”
Nan Xun wasn’t going to say no to that. He nodded and sat down beside her, talking about their time in Northern Qi.
She listened with rapt attention, unwilling to miss any details. Although she didn’t remember, subconsciously she recognized that Nan Xun was describing something she’d lived through.
Nan Xun told the tale earnestly, his expression softening when he noted Jun Huang’s concentrated look. His voice grew gentle.
Telling the story was no longer only for Jun Huang’s benefit. She might not know, but he’d been too busy to look back and examine their relationship until now. As he talked, he remembered all the little details. It affected him more than he had expected.
At the time, they spend more time apart than together. His responsibilities kept him busy, and Jun Huang didn’t allow herself any break from her plot for revenge. Even when she’d fallen ill, she persisted. She refused to play the pawns in a chess game. She had to be the one pulling the strings.
She might seem like an outside observer in most conflicts, always calm and collected, but Nan Xun knew she was the one who had put in the most effort. If she’d let herself rest, her condition wouldn’t have deteriorated so much.
Nan Xun’s heart ached. He’d vowed to protect her, but he hadn’t been able to take away her worries. Despite losing her memory, she was still weighed down by her past.
His voice grew slower and gentler. The change didn’t escape Jun Huang’s notice. She’d always been observant.
She looked up at Nan Xun, her breath hitched when she noted the pain in his eyes. She opened her mouth to say something, but she didn’t know what to say. Instead, she grabbed his hand tightly, as if the contact was the only thing that could dispel the tension in the air.
“I know there must be more to our relationship than romance even though you haven’t told me,” Jun Huang finally said. “Neither of us are regular peasants. It’s impossible for us to think only of ourselves. I don’t remember anything about the weight we carry, and I don’t want to remember. For some reason, a voice in my head keeps telling me to let it go. My past is too heavy for me to take on. However… I don’t want you to shoulder the burden on your own.”
Nan Xun’s heart pounded as he listened to her every word. At that moment, he fell a little deeper in love.
He calmed himself and looked down at Jun Huang’s flushed face. “You said it yourself that the burden is too heavy for one person to bear,” he said seriously. “I don’t want you to shoulder everything on your own, either. That’s how you used to be. You kept everything to yourself. I can’t do anything but watch you suffer. In truth, no two people should ever shoulder the weight of the world.”
Their conversation took a heavy turn. Jun Huang lowered her eyes bemusedly, her thoughts unreadable.
She took a deep breath and straightened her back. “Both you and my master have done a lot for me. I can’t just sit around and do nothing. I must overcome my nightmares myself. Outside intervention isn’t enough. How about we visit Jun Hao and spend some time together? I haven’t seen him for a while.”
Nan Xun pursed his lips. Jun Hao had been living in his safehouse. As for the hideout in the alleyway where the interrogation room was, Yin Yun had been there, taking care of business. Nan Xun didn’t know exactly what the man had done, but nothing had gone wrong so far.
That wasn’t why he was hesitant, no. It was just… Everytime they went to the safehouse, Jun Hao always clung to Jun Huang.
Looking at Jun Huang’s hopeful eyes, Nan Xun nodded in resignation. He understood that she and Jun Hao were bound by blood. Despite her loss of memory, the connection between them remained strong.
That didn’t mean he liked seeing Jun Huang being that close with another man, not even her brother.
After disguising themselves, they left the manor for the safehouse. Jun Huang followed Nan Xun to Jun Hao’s room.
They boy widened his eyes after opening the door, staring at Jun Huang. Then he threw himself into her arms.
“You haven’t visited me for a few days, sister. I thought you’ve forgotten about me.” Jun Hao pouted. Jun Huang snorted fondly and sat down on the bed, keeping her arm around Jun Hao.
“Of course I haven’t forgotten about you,” Jun Huang said with a smile, wiping his tears with a handkerchief. “I’ve come, haven’t I?”
“Sister, sister! You didn’t know what happened the past few days...”
“...Yin Yun brought a little rabbit yesterday...”
“...They never let me out to play, but they’ve brought many interesting things to me. Many of them I haven’t seen before...”
“...Oh, I remember you liking uncommon trinkets, sister. I’ll go get them for you.”
Jun Hao squirmed out of Jun Huang’s arms and rushed to pull out a wooden chest. Inside were a good number of small toys.
Jun Huang listened to him with an indulgent smile. Jun Hao’s insistent babbling didn’t bother her at all. The two of them laughed without a care in the world.
Nan Xun couldn’t help feeling left out. At first Jun Huang would still exchange a few words with him, but now she’d forgotten about his existence. He crossed his arms and fumed.