Chapter 8: Love Oath
“What are you doing?”
The voice was neither high or low, nor fast or slow, but possessed a level of severity I’d never heard before.
My agitation surpassed the level of anxiety I would’ve held upon capturing a demon. Raising my head, I came face-to-face with him. The object slid out of my hands, and a single step had it lying beneath my feet, where my tediously oversized robes conveniently hid it from view.
Looks like even ill-fitting robes had their advantages.
Hurriedly, I clasped my hands behind my back, raising my head as I straightened up and thrust out my chest. With an affected tone, I spoke. “Yifu, so you’re back…you’re really early today.”
I gave a glance outdoors.
A round moon hung high in the sky, looking down upon his face. I laughed a little ridiculously, because actually…it wasn’t early at all. The sky was already dark. In other words, he’d been outside an entire day.
“What are you doing in my study?”
I uneasily took a step back, my robes swaying around me.
“It was messy here, so I thought I’d straighten things up.”
He kicked aside the door and walked inside, eyes looking past me to sweep over the length of paper on his desk, exactly where my hand was pointing.
Curses, I just laughed out loud.
Before I could withdraw my hand, he caught it in his grip unsteadily. Thus, I was half dragged, half pulled out of the room.
Under the moonlight, his body seemed to emanate a soft, pale glow, but his expression was neither cold nor warm.
This kind of Fang Hua was someone I wasn’t familiar with.
He always repressed and glossed over his feelings of depression, making it hard for people to read him. But I could tell from the way he was holding me today that right now he felt restless and disturbed, as well as lonely…
And then, when I raised my head to take a sniff, there was the faint scent of alcohol.
He’d stolen wine to drink again.
“You should already know…” He seemed to be conscious of my expression, his pupils clear and cold as they swept over me. “I don’t like other people touching my things.”
“Shao’er understands.” I hastily nodded my head.
A corner of his mouth raised up, as if he was smiling.
But I just lowered my head and tugged on my sleeves, revealing my hands. “Yifu doesn’t like coming in contact with people.”
So…I’m begging you, let go.
“Where are you going?” His grip on my hand was warm, as if reluctant to part with me.
Once he drank, he talked more and became clingy. My eyes spun, and with a cheeky grin I replied, “I’m going to find more wine for you.”
He stared fixedly at me with a small smile, eyes curved like crescent moons.
You can drink to death.
I squatted down to dig out the earthen jugs of wine I’d buried beneath a willow tree. Hiding my mouth behind my sleeves, I burst out in sneaky laughter.
With a memory like Fang Hua’s, he’d forget everything by tomorrow morning, so there was no way he’d blame me anymore. I neatly arranged the jugs of wine together. These were all from recipes given to me by Fang Hua. I used flowers and honey to distill the wine, so it really was precious…
Nevertheless, I decided to go all out, and picked the largest jug of wine.
Then I went into an inner room to grab a big porcelain bowl and arranged everything on the stone table in the courtyard, genially smiling as I sat on one side, chin resting on my hands, staring at him.
I’ve always thought I was the smartest person in the world. It was only later on that I discovered that intelligence could be foiled by itself, too.
I finally understand the saying, staying sober even after 1,000 cups.
Fang Hua poured himself alcohol and drank, bowl after bowl. He smelled like a mix of flowers and the faint, mellow flavor of wine, caught up in a breeze that drifted over to even make me a little tipsy.
It seemed like the more he drank, the more vigorous he became.
An indifferent, yet slightly worried expression spread from the space between his eyebrows to a quiet sorrow. Looking at him made one ache pityingly.
Perhaps the moonlight bewitched people.
Perhaps I too, was drunk.
Unexpectedly, I raised my head and got closer, asking him sadly, “Yifu, were you paying respects to the tomb today? What was that bleak patch of yellow soil doing in a mountain full of medicinal plants?”
He gave a start, and I knew I’d started a disaster. Wasn’t this outright admitting I’d followed him…?
“Shao’er, do you want to hear a story?” The cinnabar mole beneath a corner of his eye glimmered with soft light. Though he was drunk, he still seemed clear-headed. “Someone I used to know very well once fell in love with a person unable to return his feelings.”
He looked at me and smiled, gently nodding his head before drinking another cup.
“The person he loved already had a wife, but he was still attracted to that person like a moth to a flame. The second half of his life was spent in grief so heavy that he wished he was dead. His eventual death was miserable, and he was buried far from humans, surrounded by nothing but flowers as he sank into an eternal sleep.”
He reached out a hand to touch my cheeks, the look in his eyes growing more and more distant as he slowly leaned closer. “I just don’t understand…the mortals all say that the Fang Hua Beast is an animal capable of feelings, but they can never obtain their heart’s desire.”
I turned my head, heart suddenly pounding.
A Fang Hua Beast is a primarily male animal. If his friend fell in love with a person who had a wife, then wouldn’t that person have been a man?
Perhaps, it was a cut sleeve affair…?
No wonder society couldn’t accept it, it was too shocking.
I didn’t even know how to follow up with what he said…
The Fang Hua at that moment seemed even lonelier under the light of the moon. He slowly stood up, his white robes dancing in the wind as if it’d whisk him away in a moment.
“Yifu…” I gripped his sleeve tightly. After a long while, I could only speak hoarsely. “You’re different. If anyone picks on you, Shao’er will risk her life to kill them.”
He slowly raised his eyebrows but said nothing, only sighed slightly as he silently gazed up at the moon in the heavens. The splendor of that moon gleamed down in torrents upon his jade-like face, its features dimly discernible and almost unreal. “You don’t understand again…”
That face leaned closer towards me, and those lips slowly pressed upon mine.
Startled, I was even afraid to move an inch.
Now what was going on?!
His dejected body fell towards the ground, crushing me beneath him. The impact made my head hurt.
I suddenly gave a start.
I wasn’t of age yet…
— [Most up to date translations for this series can be found on volaretranslations.]
Another long while passed before I realized he’d fallen asleep.
I propped myself up into a sitting position and gathered my arms around yifu, carefully and cautiously stroking the satiny strands of long hair that had scattered across his back. My hands gradually tightened as I held him.
A teardrop-shaped mole decorated the corner of an eye in a startling shade of crimson red.
Suddenly, the words from the length of silk cloth appeared in my mind.
‘Fang Hua have an exceedingly unrivaled beauty resembling that of a woman, that is difficult to find in the world. As an animal that possesses a sentimental disposition, they will be tied down by the threads of sentiment all their lives. Those who cannot escape the bonds of sentiment are robbed of their lives and die young, leaving the numbers who manage to attain Right Fruit fewer and fewer.’
Yifu, you raised me.
Shao’er promises, even if I have to put her life on the life, I will protect you.
As long as you, are happy…
-o- [Most up to date translations for this series can be found on volaretranslations.]unable to return his feelings (??????) ?bu neng tuofu zhongshen is hard to fit in one sentence. Bu neng means unable or unwilling to, tuofu means to entrust, or commit to someone’s care, zhongshen means lifelong, all one’s life. Putting it together means that Fang Hua’s friend loved a person who couldn’t be relied on to stay by his side for a lifetime. …you can imagine how clunky that sentence would’ve been, so I used a little cheat and a footnote to bring you here instead. cut sleeve (??) ?duan xiu, euphemism for homosexuality that comes from Western Han Dynasty (206BCE – 9 CE). At that time, Emperor Ai (real name Liu Xin) took on a male lover named Dong Xian. One morning before attending his daily court sessions, the emperor discovered Dong Xian had fallen asleep on his sleeve. Not wishing to wake him up, he used a knife to cut away part of the cloth, and left. The so-called passion of the cut sleeve stems from these times.