Always By Your Side - Chapter 25.1
Extra 1: All My Life I Didn’t Understand Yearning
This tale begins in the first year of the Jingding period in the Southern Song Dynasty. The spring day in Lin’an hadn’t been overshadowed by the conflict between Mongolia and the Song Dynasty, and the colours of spring did not conceal any of the dark filth.
There were young children dressed with riches and honour, laughing and playing as they passed by. They would point at the women dressed in rags who were selling their children and even themselves as slaves due to poverty. The more audacious children picked up lumps of mud and threw it at them.
Some were indignant, some were dodging, some were trying to flatter, and some were apathetic. Bai Xuan knelt on the ground, only staring coldly at those people and the thick triple wall behind them. His family had suffered a reversal of fortune. They were deep in debt. He had lost both of his parents and he had no one to depend on. He had no alternative but to sell himself as a slave. Change came with the windblown dust, the ways of the world were hot and cold. His kind of experience could be found anywhere.
A lucid and elegant voice sounded not far away. Bai Xuan raised his head and glanced over. It came from a girl who looked about twelve or thirteen years old, like a white jade carving. She was looking over to their side and seemed to be saying something to the human trafficker.
Bai Xuan recognized this face. Last year, he had met her. At that time, she was playing by the lakeside. It was early summertime, when the lotus leaves bloomed again and again. She had gone to pick the flowers and accidentally fell into the water. He heroically jumped in to save her. She was drenched from head to toe but looked at him and smiled, “I’ve been swimming since I was five, however I still need to thank you. In addition I apologize, your clothes got wet too.”
After a while, the human trafficker laughed loudly, “Little girl, you want to buy everyone here? Do you know how much these people can sell for? Boys are one hundred strings of copper and girls are two hundred. Apart from the royal court, nobody can buy all of these people at once. How much New Year’s money did you get, enough to buy a servant?”
The surrounding people immediately burst into hearty laughter. The little girl’s face flushed a deep red, then became snow white. She clenched her teeth and hesitantly walked towards the row of people who were kneeling on the ground.
Everyone was instantly excited, struggling and praying for her to buy them. This situation frightened her, but she didn’t turn away and flee. She merely bit her lip, her gaze frenetic.
She looked at Bai Xuan, turned her head to the human trafficker, and said, “Then I only want him. I’ll buy him for a hundred strings of copper.” Bai Xuan creased his eyebrows and watched her attentively for a moment. He didn’t expect that now, the person being rescued was him, while the hero became her. Soon after, he suddenly leaned back, pulling the people bound together to fall into a pile. Fortunately, that dirty hand that was trying to grab the lapel of her dress reached in vain and missed.
The human trafficker rolled his eyes and laughed mischievously, “Little girl, this one has already passed the year of dancing spoons. Two hundred strings is the lowest price. If you sell him to those widows, he’ll be even more expensive, how about it?”
Her hand that was fishing out from her purse froze, and she looked at the human trafficker in disbelief. Then she looked at the people on the ground again. In the end, a servant girl that was behind her dragged her into a carriage and she left.
Amongst everyone’s jeers, Bai Xuan let out a low laugh. He held his head and folded into his body, allowing the angry people surrounding him to punch and kick him. When the human trafficker felt that he’d watched enough of the show, he instructed the guards to break up everyone.
Bai Xuan didn’t expect that the next day, she would actually come back with money to buy him. At this time he was already on the verge of death. The human trafficker disliked bad luck, so he didn’t make things difficult for him. With a wave of his hand, Bai Xuan was released. She brought him to a small inn and left some money for a servant girl to invite a physician to look at him. She told him that she was leaving, but would come back. Once she left, she would be gone for three days.
Three days later, she limped into his room. She was beaming with joy and said: “I came to see you, how is your body?”
By now, most of his health had already been restored. He looked at her with eyes as cold as silver stars on a frigid night. As before, he frowned slightly, “What’s wrong with your leg?”
Only later did he find out that her family was in charge of the official secrets of firing porcelain for the imperial palace. That time, she’d stolen porcelain from her home and sold it in exchange for money to release people. Fortunately, there was no official seal on the porcelain, otherwise she would have brought disaster upon her entire clan just from association. For this reason, she was punished to kneel for three days and three nights to copy her clan’s rules.
He absolutely had to leave Lin’an, and he didn’t want to owe her any further. He told her of his plan to leave and stated that the money for his release would be returned in the future. She grinned and said: “Your slavery deed, I have already torn it up.” She then asked, “Will you still come back?”
He was silent and didn’t promise anything—in this world, who knew what would happen in the future?
The maid behind her seemed very dissatisfied, but the girl just smiled and said, “Well, if you come back someday, remember to come find me. I’ll take you to see the fireworks and coloured lanterns, and we’ll eat delicious food.”
That year he was sixteen, she was thirteen. She was still young, innocent, and unaffected. She wasn’t interested in the affairs of the world, only full of enthusiasm and goodness.
For the next five years, he wandered everywhere and ultimately worshipped the Daoist Yuan Zun as his master. Daoist Yuan Zun wanted to go to Lin’an. He was returning to a familiar place.
The day he returned, he found out about her affairs. That day was the day she died in the kiln.
His master asked: “These past five years, have you always remembered her?”
“Always remembered.” Always missed.
She had died for love, becoming scattered ashes and dispersed smoke in the burning kiln. Her soul was doomed to be harmed.
“If you want to protect her reincarnation, don’t be stupid, don’t be foolish. You must provide her with a soul, moreover it should be a soul with seven emotions and six desires. If you give, you must cease to have lust. From now on, life after life, forever and ever, you will not understand love. In every lifetime, you will spend your last years alone. Until the lifetime that she meets that person, receives the love that she is owed, and the two fall in love with deep emotions, only then can you get that soul back. Only then can you truly understand emotions. You, why bother to come to this?”
“Just consider it as me settling a debt.”
Half a year later, a man came to look for Daoist Yuan Zun, asking whether or not there was a way to keep the memories of his beloved in this life to the next life. If there was, he was willing to pay any price.
When the man left, Bai Xuan walked out from behind a large tree. Daoist Yuan Zun asked him: “Ah Bai, you heard it all?”
He nodded lightly. “Yes. But what does it have to do with me?”
In this life, he had no memory of his previous incarnation with her. She was just waiting for that person to come find her, and he was by her side, his heart motionless.
In the end, that person finally found her. From their previous life to this life, they finally had their perfect ending.
Every cycle of reincarnation, he was alone.
All his life, he wasn’t able to yearn.
To have yearning would cause harm.
That summer, there was a lot of rain. Cheng Bai watched the unknown white flowers blooming in the back garden for two days. He remembered in the evenings of those two days, standing in front of this window in her room, watching the flowers dye red from the sunset glow. It was awfully beautiful. Later, a shower of rain beat them down. All of the petals fell to the mud, covering the ground.
Now it was raining heavily outside. Cheng Bai was sitting by the window in front of her desk. In his hand was a yellowed photograph—it was a group photo of a pair of youths in school uniforms. The two stood side-by-side under a large tree. The schoolgirl smiled brilliantly, and the male student’s facial expression was indifferent.
Cheng Bai didn’t know how long he sat. At last, he placed the photograph back on the desk and stood up. When he walked through the door, he turned around to take a quick glance. He had always said that he would convert this room into his study, but in the end, he didn’t change it. Except for some stacks and opened books on the small sofa, everything there was the same as before.
The door was slowly closed. The last white flower in the garden outside the window dropped, falling to pieces.
That night, Cheng Bai, who had very few dreams all his life, had a dream.
It was a day in late summer. At noon he went to the magazine office to take her out for a meal. After finishing lunch, the two went for a walk in the nearby park.
A warm southerly breeze carried the fragrance of poplars and willows to the edge of the lotus pond.
He asked her: “Are you going to marry me?”
She was extremely surprised and said, “Are you…proposing?”
Seeing that she didn’t agree immediately, he had to use gains to lure her. “You think about it. If you marry me, there will be many benefits, isn’t that so? You just have to say the right thing and I will reward you.”
Therefore, she thought about it and answered: “We don’t have to argue about whose surname the child has?”
Such an open question, as long as it grasped the central idea, any answer would be correct. Unfortunately, his girl answered wrong.
For answering incorrectly, she was still rewarded with a glistening diamond ring.
Just like this, the two personally decided their entire lives.
Cheng Bai woke up, tears streaming from the corners of his eyes.
“I really like you.” A very soft whisper scattered in the completely empty room.
If he had memories from his previous life, then his sentence should have been like this:
I really like you,
Therefore, I am willing to give up my seven emotions and six desires to protect you from lifetime to lifetime, clear and bright;
I really like you,
Therefore, even though I know that you will love others, I also want to keep watch over you so that you are not alone before.
I really like you,
From then to now, every minute, every moment.
Mui’s Ko-Fi: (´｡• ᵕ •｡`) ♡ Thank you for your support!
Translator’s Note: Cheng Bai really stole the show for me. I feel like his love and sacrifice are so much greater than Fu Beichen’s. He deserves someone who loves him and I hope he finds happiness T^T
There is one more extra to this story but I will not be translating it as it’s incredibly long and I have no interest in Fu Yuanzheng and Lu Wanyu after reading about Cheng Bai’s past life…sorry T^T
If anyone would like to translate the last extra, please do so! For those who are curious about it, here’s a summary. You can imagine how long the actual extra is just from how long this summary got—and I tried to paraphrase as best as I could!!!
Lu Wanyu is twelve when she meets Fu Yuanzheng. She likes to sneak out and play at the riverbank. This is where she meets fifteen-year-old Fu Yuanzheng, who goes there to play music. They become friends—Wanyu listens to him play music and they keep each other company.
Later, Fu Yuanzheng is brought into his clan family’s home. He gets particularly close to his fourth eldest brother, Fu Yuanduo, who has been very sick since childhood. Their faces have a strong resemblance. (They aren’t actual brothers, but probably cousins or distant relatives since they’re of the same clan.) Because Fu Yuanzheng has a new home, Lu Wanyu doesn’t get to see him often anymore, which makes her sad. When she comes of age (fifteen), she sneaks into his residence and tells him that the son of an official family is planning to propose marriage. Fu Yuanzheng confesses his feelings to her, and he tells her he’ll find a way for them to be together.
Days later, the official’s son that was supposed to propose marriage falls off his horse and sustains serious injuries. Fu Yuanzheng finds out that Fu Yuanduo was behind it. Fu Yuanzheng and Lu Wanyu go on a date, and an interesting detail I noticed was that Wanyu asks him if he’ll love her even if she’s round—with pinyin, she asks if he’ll love her even if she’s yuanyuan (the same characters as her modern reincarnation, Yuanyuan). Fu Yuanzheng says he’ll love her so long as it’s her. Much later, Fu Yuanzheng sees a brocade handkerchief with a camellia branch on it amongst Fu Yuanduo’s things. He’s surprised because it’s a woman’s item.
Fu Yuanzheng achieves third place in the Hanlin examination; therefore, he informs his uncle that he’s going to propose marriage with the Lu family. They begin to prepare the dowry and are supposed to get married in half a year. However, Fu Yuanzheng receives the imperial decree that he has to marry Princess Jiachun—apparently the princess has chosen him herself.
Fu Yuanzheng returns to his residence and seems suspicious of Fu Yuanduo. The next day they have the chess game that Fu Beichen dreamt about in the main story. Later it’s revealed Fu Yuanduo and his father were collaborating to get the support of Princess Jiachun’s maternal family (they were using Fu Yuanzheng for this). Fu Yuanzheng knows he can’t be selfish because it will destroy his family (there’s political stuff happening and their family is part of it). Therefore, he accepts the marriage and ironically, the Lu family is still in charge of Princess Jiachun’s dowry. Fu Yuanzheng and Lu Wanyu don’t go to find each other again.
Closer to the wedding, the Lu family is ordered to create porcelain with a bright red glaze for the dowry. This red glaze is extremely difficult to fire and the Lu family is afraid because of this (they would get into trouble for not accomplishing it). Meanwhile, Fu Yuanzheng receives a letter from Wanyu that has the poem “Autumn Breeze” in it (the poem that is frequently mentioned in the main story). He’s shaken up about it. On Lu Wanyu’s side, she bumps into a kiln worker who drops a book. The book mentions a daughter who sacrifices herself in the kiln to save her father, as he is failing to make a certain type of porcelain and somehow her sacrifice remedies that. Lu Wanyu gets obsessed with the story. She decides that if Fu Yuanzheng comes to tell her he doesn’t want to marry the princess, she’ll follow him forever, but if he doesn’t arrive before dark…yeah. At the same time, Fu Yuanzheng attacks his brother because he wants to go back on the marriage, but ends up crying and remaining with his choice. The sun sets and Fu Yuanzheng obviously doesn’t appear. Lu Wanyu believes that all of their happy moments were fake. The next morning, Lu Wanyu goes to the kilns with the bottle she made (Yuanyuan’s family heirloom). The bottle has the lines from Autumn Breeze on it. The kiln workers later find out that someone has jumped into the kiln, and what they pull out is the bottle with a bright red glaze. In the following days, Lu Wanyu’s father resigns.
On the wedding day, Fu Yuanzheng sees the bottle in the bridal chamber and the poem on it. He coughs up blood. There’s a time skip, and Princess Jiachun brings Fu Yuanzheng medicine because he’s very sick. When she wipes his mouth, he notices the handkerchief has a camellia branch on it. He confronts her, and she admits she knew Fu Yuanduo before and that’s why she chose to marry him. Fu Yuanzheng goes to Fu Yuanduo. Fu Yuanduo asks him if he remembers the official son who fell from his horse and admits that it actually was a pure accident, but he took advantage of the situation to make Fu Yuanzheng believe he owed him a favour. This is because Fu Yuanduo and his father wanted Fu Yuanzheng to marry Princess Jiachun, but Fu Yuanzheng loved Wanyu, so Fu Yuanduo wanted to make him feel like he was on his side. Fu Yuanduo also admits that he purposely let Fu Yuanzheng see the camellia handkerchief before. He explains that he had a chance encounter with Jiachun and used Fu Yuanzheng’s name fraudulently. But he unexpectedly fell in love with the princess. However, instead of being with her, he believed Fu Yuanzheng was better for the princess because Yuanzheng is directly descended from Hanlin scholars and also got third place in the exam, while Fu Yuanzheng is sickly.
After their conversation, Fu Yuanduo shows Fu Yuanzheng the book that Wanyu was obsessed with. He says that someone surnamed Cheng brought him the book and informed him that someone hired him (Cheng) to purposely let Wanyu see it. Fu Yuanzheng thinks about how everyone has plotted against him and made him lose everything.
Another year passes. Princess Jiachun and her husband run away. Three years later, they have built a private home in a remote area. It’s revealed that Fu Yuanduo is the princess’s husband; since he and Fu Yuanzheng are both sick, they now look 90% the same so I suppose Fu Yuanduo got away with it since he looks like his brother. Fu Yuanduo and Jiachun talk about how Fu Yuanzheng has been suffering all these years. That day Fu Yuanzheng visits them, and Fu Yuanduo takes care of him. Fu Yuanzheng is mute. The next day, he buries the bottle Lu Wanyu gave him and leaves an inscription that says “the foundation of my beloved wife of the Fu clan, Wanyu”. Then he plants the red bean tree. His memory fades day after day and he starts forgetting who he is and can’t even recognize Yuanduo and Jiachun.
One day Fu Yuanduo goes out and runs into the man surnamed Cheng who brought the book to him. He’s in bad condition, but Fu Yuanduo saves him and brings him back. They don’t say anything about the man surnamed Cheng after that, but I would surmise that the reason why every generation of Chengs takes care of the princess and her husband’s shrine is to pay them back for everything (indirectly killing Wanyu, being saved by Yuanduo).
Later, Fu Yuanzheng sees a picture of Wanyu and asks who it is. Fu Yuanduo tells him it’s his wife, and she loved to hear him play music the most. The next morning, Fu Yuanduo finds Fu Yuanzheng playing music outside. Fu Yuanzheng tells Yuanduo that he’s going to find his wife. Fu Yuanduo tells him that she’s already dead. Fu Yuanzheng just smiles and says “Yes, I’m going to find her” and then the last line is: Lifetime after lifetime, until the perfect end.
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