Always By Your Side - Chapter 25
Chapter 25: It’s a Good Time of Year
On a bright, sunny afternoon, Yuanyuan was in front of the computer finishing the article “Exploration of Yuxi”. This was the final manuscript of the special column on Yuxi. She leaned into the back of the chair to rest. The sun shone behind her, comfortably warm.
A beam of light just happened to cross over the top of her head, casting light on the words on her computer screen—according to Jinghai’s Cultural Heritage Bureau, the ruins in the northernmost part of Yuxi must have been Fu Yuanzheng’s ancestral hall originally. Furthermore, the thousand-year-old red bean tree had been planted by his hands.
At this moment, Yuanyuan was thinking about the town’s plan to rebuild Fu Yuanzheng’s ancestral hall in the coming year—they finally found out that the emperor’s son-in-law in the princess and her husband’s shrine was Fu Yuanduo, and this wasn’t a mistake. Fu Yuanzheng was the emperor’s son-in-law recorded in historical data, but not the real husband of Princess Jiachun. His story was more moving and tragic. Therefore, the town wanted to rebuild the ancestral hall for him. On the other hand, they also used this as a pretext to move one step further in the development of Yuxi’s tourism industry.
Ai, why do I feel so depressed? In the future, there would be even more people going over to the red bean tree. But regarding this matter, Fu Beichen didn’t seem to care much.
She remembered that when she asked him about his opinion, what he said was this: What should return has already been found. Everything else is insignificant.
After getting off work that day, Yuanyuan went directly to Fu Beichen’s apartment. On account of Fu Beichen saying he wanted to cook for her, Expert Fu had been learning how to cook recently. The two came to an agreement, and she voluntarily went to his home while he went to purchase vegetables—primarily Yuanyuan’s suggestion. By the time Yuanyuan arrived at his neighbourhood, the sky was a little dark. Quickly walking into his building, she ran into the older sister that lived in the apartment across from Fu Beichen. The older sister was pulling along her seven or eight-year-old daughter to go downstairs for a walk. Last time, Yuanyuan had already met this elder sister, and Fu Beichen had introduced the other party to her.
Therefore Yuanyuan greeted her. The older sister responded with a smile and gently patted her little girl’s head, saying, “Xinxin, call her Auntie, she is your Uncle Beichen’s girlfriend.”
The little girl stared at Yuanyuan for a while, then suddenly said in a loud voice, “Uncle Beichen is mine!”
Yuanyuan was left speechless for a while.
“Xinxin, good evening.” This kind of slow and mild voice, she immediately knew who it was. Turning her head to look, it was exactly Fu Beichen.
Fu Beichen was carrying a shopping bag full of things. With a smile on his face, he walked towards them. First, he touched the little girl’s head. “Xinxin, have you finished your meal?”
“En!” The little girl nodded sweetly with a smile.
“En, from now on Uncle belongs to Auntie Yuanyuan.” Fu Beichen’s voice was tender and earnest, “Because if she doesn’t want Uncle, then Uncle will be very, very sad.”
The little girl considered it. She really wasn’t willing for such a good Uncle Beichen to be sad, so she reluctantly nodded her head and said to Yuanyuan, “Okay, then I’ll give Uncle to you.”
That night, when Yuanyuan commented on Fu Beichen’s culinary debut, she had two points: “First, it’s okay, but it’s a little worse than mine. Expert Fu, continue to work hard. Second, in the future please don’t make public displays of affection in front of others, I will feel shy.”
Expert Fu’s reply was this: “The first is possible, the second won’t do.” He had waited so long for the good times to arrive now.
Yuanyuan blushed, “Alright, I’ll try my best to be thick-skinned.”
On the twenty-third day of the twelfth lunar month, it happened to be a weekend. Fu Beichen and Yuanyuan agreed to go back to the Fu house together. Yuanyuan would formally meet Professor Fu as Fu Beichen’s girlfriend.
“Tell me, will your aunt like me?” She had learned that Fu Beichen’s paternal aunt was also passing by the house that day and wanted to meet such a celebrity. Still, Yuanyuan felt somewhat uncertain in her heart.
“She’s very easygoing, don’t worry,” Fu Beichen smiled comfortingly.
Sure enough, Fu Beichen’s aunt was exactly how he described her. She was incredibly affable, without the slightest degree of arrogance or the distance of a big celebrity.
After his aunt saw Yuanyuan, she said: “A few months ago I talked to Professor Fu on the phone, asking about Beichen’s major life event. Professor Fu said that he had asked Beichen, and Beichen said he already had a girlfriend and everyone shouldn’t worry over it anymore. I immediately asked who it was. Professor Fu was very pleased with himself when he told me, ‘This girl is just like your sister-in-law, she likes to listen to the opera’…Come, let me take a good look at what the girl who still likes to listen to opera in this era looks like.” Soon after looking, she turned towards Fu Beichen and said, “Beautiful.”
Fu Beichen nodded: “Exactly.”
Yuanyuan was slightly embarrassed. It turned out that Fu Beichen had already told Professor Fu earlier ah, why didn’t he also tell her? She recalled that she had previously gone to pick up manuscripts twice, even pretending to be calm…and Professor Fu also behaved calmly…
Very soon, it would be spring. Yuanyuan’s Spring Festival vacation was only seven days, so she spent four days accompanying her mother. The next day Fu Beichen came to find her, and the day after that she went to find Fu Beichen and ate at the Fu house. On the last day, she went to the Cheng family’s house to give Uncle Shenghua her New Year’s greetings and also to pay a New Year’s visit to Cheng Bai: “Older Brother Xiao Bai, Happy New Year! May you be in good health and become a great, amazing doctor in the future!”
Cheng Bai ignored her.
After that, Yuanyuan once again entered her “busy farming season”.
The reconstruction of the ruins in Yuxi finally commenced after Lichun, the beginning of spring.
On the first day of construction, a small box was excavated. The construction crew thought that it would be an artifact similar to the stone tablet they had found in Chongfu Temple, only now emerging. As before, a call was made to the National Cultural Heritage Administration, saying that there was a pile of broken porcelain pieces inside a silk bundle. When Gu Wenlin answered the phone, he instantly thought of Fu Beichen.
He felt that his old friend ought to be interested. Besides, what they had found this time was broken porcelain. He immediately phoned Fu Beichen.
Many years in the future, Gu Wenlin would still remember Fu Beichen’s behaviour at that time. He carefully touched the broken porcelain in the box as if he was facing a lover, one that all his love had gone into his bone marrow for.
The small box and silk cloth were all things of the modern era. Only the fragments of porcelain were identified as the historical remains of an official kiln of the Song Dynasty.
It could clearly be seen that it hadn’t been located here since ancient times. The explanation given by specialists was that someone had buried the pieces here. The matter was handled quickly. There was no rise of local movement like when they had discovered the stone tablet. The overwhelming majority of inhabitants, including Dai Shufen, didn’t even know about these matters. Fu Beichen took the initiative to restore the porcelain, as this Song Dynasty porcelain was very exquisite. The Provincial Museum also hoped to receive it for their collection.
By April, it was spring.
On that day the clouds were faint, the wind was soft, and Yuanyuan was taken by Fu Beichen to the Provincial Museum on a date. Monday was the day all museums were closed, and the Provincial Museum was no exception. But Fu Beichen swiped the door card and effortlessly brought her in.
On ordinary days, even if the Provincial Museum was quiet, there were still a lot of people. It was completely different from the sense of emptiness before their eyes. Yuanyuan had never seen such an absolutely empty setting before, which made her feel a little excited—it was the feeling of a reserved venue. In the centre of the Porcelain Museum, Fu Beichen halted his steps. Yuanyuan also stopped and followed his gaze. A few seconds later, she looked at Fu Beichen in amazement, “This is—”
Fu Beichen nodded, “This is your family’s ancestral jade spring bottle. A few days ago, they started digging in the ruins. This was excavated from the ground.”
Yuanyuan’s jaw dropped, not daring to believe his words. She slowly drew near, reaching out to lightly stroke the glass showcase. Running across it were the silently painted veins left behind by the repairs. This was the exact bottle that had been handed down for generations in her family. Since childhood, her grandmother had always associated her with it. Grandma had even said it disappeared…
“It was already broken when it was dug out. But it was bundled with modern things. So…” Fu Beichen said slowly.
“So, it was Grandma.” Yuanyuan understood Fu Beichen’s implication. She remembered that time in the hospital, and her grandmother’s “I’m sorry”. Maybe, this was not what Grandma was saying to the ancestors of the Cheng family, but rather to her.
Yuanyuan put away her memories and looked at him with clear eyes. “Thank you, Fu Beichen.”
“This was the dowry you prepared for yourself.” These words, Fu Beichen didn’t say. He only whispered them in his heart.
He took her hands and lightly kissed her palms, first the left, then the right.
She had said that he was no longer Fu Yuanzheng; he was Fu Beichen. But in fact, he was both Fu Yuanzheng and Fu Beichen. He was like a person who had lived for a millennium, suffering countless fleeting years merely to retrieve what he had lost—his lover who had no memories.
Even if there were no shackles from previous incarnations, this kind of person, this kind of her, it wasn’t difficult for the Fu Beichen in this life to fall in love.
“Yuanyuan, will you marry me?”
He took out a delicate silk brocade pouch from his pocket, opened it, and inside was a unique ring. It was wound with very fine gold wire, and inlaid in the middle was a ruby. Examining it carefully, it looked similar to a red bean.
The scar on the right side of Fu Beichen’s forehead was about the size of a finger. The stitches had already been removed. His loose bangs covered it slightly. When he was about to get down on one knee, Yuanyuan pulled him. With both hands, she lightly held Fu Beichen’s face, stood on her tiptoes, and kissed him on the lips. Then she quietly replied, “En.”
He was covered in wind and rain and had come from afar, but in his hands he was holding a piece of sunshine. He was willing to take the sunshine and give it to her. She would receive a lifetime’s worth of the best sunny days.
The day after the proposal, Wang Yue saw the ring on Yuanyuan’s hand. The former delivered a gift, “Here, I’m giving you a prenuptial present. Have your boyfriend sign it before you get married—because he looks very popular at first glance, I’m afraid that your charm value is not enough and others will steal him. Take it, go home and open it, and read it with your Mr. Fu.”
Yuanyuan took the red envelope and said dumbly, “Oh.”
“Really well-behaved!” Wang Yue left pleased.
That day when she finished work, Yuanyuan was picked up by Fu Beichen and brought to his residence—on the bright side, Expert Fu said it was to let her try his dishes so she could comment on if there was any progress these days.
While Fu Beichen went to his room to change into his home clothes, Yuanyuan sat in front of the solid wooden desk against the floor-to-ceiling window. She watched the landscape outside. Recalling Wang Yue’s present, she fished out the envelope from her bag. Opening it and looking inside, she was struck dumb. The prenuptial agreement: If anyone has an extramarital affair, they will be hit with a board thirty times! They will leave the marriage with no possessions or property! She had used such an exceptionally big font size!
Having changed his clothes, Fu Beichen walked behind her while rolling up the cuffs of his sleeves. He glanced at the thing in her hands, merely wanting to see what she was looking at. He didn’t expect it to be a prenuptial agreement. Yuanyuan discovered Fu Beichen and wanted to destroy the spoof of a prenuptial agreement, but in the end Fu Beichen pulled it out of her hands first.
“This was given to me by my colleague,” Yuanyuan quickly clarified. Fu Beichen stooped down to pick up a pen from his desk, signing his name with confidence and ease. He then put the paper and pen into the hands of the person who was stunned, patting her on the shoulder and voicing softly, “Sign.”
Yuanyuan had to sign her name under the pressing gaze of the person next to her. Just as she put down the pen, her chin was lightly pinched. Fu Beichen turned her face and printed a kiss on her lips. But it was no longer just a shallow kiss. The exploring tongue that came in carried a bit of tyranny and plunder. Yuanyuan’s heart was beating like a drum, and she didn’t know how long she had been tasted by Expert Fu. When he released her, Yuanyuan was a little out of breath, then she heard him say in a low, hoarse voice, “We have to get married quickly.”
The delirious person asked, “Why?”
Fu Beichen pulled her up. After she was sitting, he held her on his lap, resting his head on her neck. With a little smile, he said, “Kneel to heaven and earth, get married, then to the bridal room and ornamented candles.”
On this year’s National Day, the married person Cheng Yuanyuan returned to her hometown first. Since Fu Beichen was busy with some things, he said that he would come find her a day later.
Early the next morning, when Yuanyuan got out of bed and opened the window, she could smell the faint fragrance of sweet osmanthus outside.
She stuck her head out to look for it, and sure enough, the gold osmanthus tree in her family’s courtyard was blooming. She watched it for a while, then her mind stirred. At immense speed she washed up, ran downstairs, found a small cloth bag, and went to the back garden to pick flowers.
The “flower thief” climbed up the tree quite skillfully. Sitting down on a sturdy tree trunk, she began to use her fingertips to lightly pick the base of the osmanthus flowers. Picking them in this way would make the aroma last longer. She plucked them just like that. She didn’t know how much time passed when she heard someone under the tree calling her softly. Yuanyuan lowered her head and saw a lone figure standing under the tree. Because the branches were obstructive, Yuanyuan could only see a little bit. But with one glance, she recognized him. It was Fu Beichen.
“Yuanyuan, come down, it’s dangerous.”
“It’s fine, when I was young I used to climb frequently. Now I’m no longer afraid of heights.” Saying so, she lifted the cloth bag hanging around her neck and shook it. “Look, my profit.”
Just as she was speaking, she neatly descended from the tree, landing dexterously. When she had come down, she was grabbing onto a branch with her hand. Now that she let go, the branch quivered, shaking off some osmanthus petals. Two petals landed in his hair.
Fu Beichen’s facial features were fair and clear. Today he was dressed in light, pure colours from head-to-toe; even more jade-like. But at this moment, his expression was a little more serious. “Next time don’t mess around like this.”
Yuanyuan looked at him, smiling like a flower, “I’ve been waiting for you for a long time.”
Fu Beichen saw her smile and couldn’t get angry anymore, “I’m here.”
The garden was full of the fragrance of flowers. It was a good time of year.
The year she was born, he was seven.
When she was thirteen, he was twenty. The two met for the first time under the red bean tree.
When she was seventeen, he was twenty-four. She was in high school, and he was in graduate school at H University. The two schools were only two streets apart. She liked to eat at the restaurant “Ling Long”. He also went often. He was never far from her side. They had gone to watch the same movie and had been in the same line waiting to pay.
When she was twenty, he was twenty-seven. She went to Cijin for university, and he worked in the Cijin Porcelain Museum. He had even been to her school to give two lectures. Once when he was lecturing, she passed by the door of his classroom. He inadvertently tilted his head only to see the ends of her jet-black hair flitting by.
When she was twenty-three, he was thirty. Meeting again in Jingdezhen, with just one glance, his heart already rose up in great waves.
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