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128 Actions of Others During the Celebration

    The Fourth Miss went to sleep right before the first fireworks of the night were to go off. That was also the time that Hui'er had some time to herself to continue on her embroidery.

    She had been working on embroidery during all of her free time lately to improve her skills. So far, she had embroidered numerous handkerchiefs with pretty little pictures like flowers and butterflies, and she could see her skill improve as she compared the first handkerchief she embroidered with the one she was working on at the moment.

    Because the Fourth Miss went to sleep early, Hui'er finally had some more time to work on embroidery under candlelight. She doubted that she would be able to sleep under the loud noise of the festival anyways.

    Right when Hui'er threaded her embroidery needle with light blue thread, she heard a light knocking on the front doors of the Fourth Miss's room. At first, she thought that it was perhaps the sound of something else, but when she heard the distinct knock once more, she knew that someone had to be there, purposefully knocking on the doors. But, who could it be that would come visit the Fourth Miss at that hour?

    To not disturb the sleep of the Fourth Miss, Hui'er set the embroidery in her hand down and walked towards the door, slightly pushing it open. Outside of the room, standing with her eyes cast down, was Manyu.

    Unpleasant memories flashed in Hui'er's mind when she saw the face of this former friend of hers. Although the two had been more than close in the past, ever since the incident where Hui'er caught Manyu stealing the First Miss's necklace, and Manyu in return accused her of thievery to give herself a chance to slip out of the situation, Hui'er had avoided talking or running into the other girl. The two had a friendship that Hui'er was grateful to in the past, but after everything that happened, it would be impossible to say that Hui'er could treat Manyu the same.

    Why was she here tonight, then?

    "Do you need something?" Hui'er asked with a hushed voice. "My Fourth Miss is sleeping. If you need anything or have to deliver some messages, I suggest that you come tomorrow."

    "N-no," Manyu responded with her words stumbling, "I- I just came here to talk to you."

    Hui'er raised her eyebrows. "With me? What words do you have to say?"

    The next words of the other girl came out rushed. "I just wanted to say that I'm sorry. What I've done in the past isn't forgivable- I can't even understand why I did that back then. I should've never accused you. I should've admitted to my own crimes myself. But- I was scared then. I know that you may not forgive me, but I needed to get these words off my chest. I hope you can accept my apology, even if you can't forgive me." Her next words fell to a whisper. "I... miss having you as a friend too."

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    Hui'er looked at the girl in front of her, taking in the apology.

    She didn't know if she was supposed to forgive Manyu or not. It was a terrible feeling in the past to have Manyu betray her like that. If she forgave Manyu and rebuilt their friendship, what if Manyu betrayed her again? How was she supposed to take the situation then?"

    Then, her mind trailed to the words she told the Fourth Miss only a few moments earlier. She was living in the present. What point was there in keeping her attitude towards everything made up of the memories of the past? The Fourth Miss also once said that it didn't hurt to build relationships; she just shouldn't put all of her trust into these relationships. Besides, if she were in Manyu's shoes and was telling an apology to the First Miss...

    Hui'er knew what to do now.

    She sighed with a smile, then said, "Alright, let's go and talk a bit. Do you want to come to the festival with me?"

    ...

    Yu Zixu sat at a courtyard in the Bo Villa with Bo Zhiyuan, sipping on a cup of wine. Based on the location of the fireworks tonight, the best place to view them happened to be in the Bo Villa. Hence, Zixu and Zhiyuan decided to celebrate tonight with a jug of good wine, the finest ink he owned, and numerous brushes to keep them company.

    It had been a long time since Zhiyuan last had a drink with him. This friend of Zixu was always too concerned with sorting out his upcoming marriage. So, when Zixu received an invitation from Zhiyuan, he obviously headed over to the Bo Villa.

    While Zixu picked up a brush to illustrate the scene they were in now, he couldn't stop his thoughts from wandering to other topics. Memories of today's morning, a splash of water, and a drowning girl surfaced. He kept his mind occupied with these ideas as he painted.

    Zhiyuan was working on poetry. He had only finished writing a line when Zixu suddenly questioned, "Do you think I'm inhumane, Brother Bo?"

    Zhiyuan paused too, his brush hovering over the page. "You want the honest truth?"

    "Always."

    "Then, sometimes, I guess." Zhiyuan shrugged. "You just tend to think of things in your own perspective too much."

    "I don't see why that's a problem." Zixu pursed his lips. "Isn't it normal for everyone to treat themselves as the most important person in their life? Without oneself, what can one accomplish? Nothing. We need to treat ourselves as the most important person in our lives to survive."

    "But you're not in a life-or-death situation right now, are you, Brother Yu?" Zhiyuan wrote another character down on the page, then continued, "For example, if you were a government minister who only cared for himself, then the people would suffer. And when the people suffer, they revolt. The minister is then beheaded. So, do you see now, Brother Yu? Of course treating oneself well is important, but others around you must be treated equally as well."

    Zixu nodded. Zhiyuan's words did have some wisdom.

    "And, right now," Zhiyuan added after a moment of thought, "it could be that you just haven't found an individual that you hold higher than yourself right now. I used to be the same, but then I met Luowei. Now, she is the most important person to me."

    "You're just blinded by your love," Zixu remarked with a slight smile.

    Zhiyuan grinned, "No. You just haven't experienced true love to understand. One day, when you finally meet a woman you love, you'll understand."

    Zixu fell silent after that.

    He didn't think he would understand the concepts that Zhiyuan spoke so fondly of. Zhiyuan may have been blinded by love, but Zixu, on the other hand, was completely blind at all topics about love.

    What purpose was there in love, really? All marriages were for alliances, partnerships, and gains. He doubted that his love life would be any different than what his father had all planned out for him.

    But maybe Zhiyuan had a point.

    ...

    The Old Master of the Yang Family, Yang Chen, sat alone at a tavern, drinking from a jug and bowl of wine. His face was red, and his vision was blurry. The shifting image of a woman sat across from him, morphing between faces before settling on one that haunted all his thoughts when alcohol was brought into the picture.  He knew this face, one of slender features and willow brows, well. After all, she looked so much like her daughter.

    Yang Chen lifted the bowl of wine in his hand, taking another deep gulp. The eyes of the woman stared back at him, fixed permanently onto his.

    "I'm- so happy-" he murmured to the woman across from him, "that at least- I can see you here."

    She didn't respond.

    He didn't mind, only bringing another bowl filled to the brim with wine to his lips, drinking all of it down, occasionally murmuring words between gulps of wine.

    Except, as the night went on, and he drank more and more, the image of the woman he wanted to stay vanished. She disappeared with the dizzy effect of the alcohol, leaving him alone in his own drunken sorrow that not even an ocean of wine could satiate.
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