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160 The Artist Sketches and Ponders

    After eating a simple breakfast of porridge- Yujia was used to by now with having this for breakfast to cleanse her stomach and improve her health- she began to work on her task of plum tree studies. Her master assigned it to her yesterday, and since he asked for a week's worth of these pictures, it was a good idea to work on them starting from today.

    She decided to work on it for two or more hours every day with different types of media. She would alternate between sketches and paintings on different days to give herself an opportunity to experiment between them. By the end of the week, she would hopefully have some progress to show her master.

    Bringing a table outside, right where she had the perfect view and angle of the plum tree, she set her supplies of paper and pencil down, then began sketching.

    Sketching the tree, capturing all of the miniscule details with the movement of her pencil, brought her back to her days of art school. It felt refreshing to draw with the motive of learning and to figure out new things under the guidance of her master. It was also nice to have the kind of master that wasn't requiring her to listen to long lessons or looking over her shoulder as she worked, but rather someone who gave her a direction to go in and had progress checkpoints. She was the type of person who didn't want anything too strict but also needed general guidelines.

    As she sketched, she found it as a good time to think about everything. First, she thought about Rong Tianyu. The banister that broke which caused her to fall into the water didn't seem like it was too weak. Yujia even tested it earlier by leaning against it. It was too sturdy to break so easily, wasn't it?

    Soon enough though, by the time she worked on the second branch, she stopped thinking about the incident with Tianyu drowning. It brought along too many unpleasant things.

    Next, she thought about Yu Zixu. At just the thought of his name, her headache grew even worse.

    She really must've been crazy to drink with him last night.

    First, she didn't even think that she trusted him that much. She felt like the two of them did have a certain amount of trust after the life-and-death experience she had with him- but still. Still. She barely knew anything about him when she asked him to drink with her.

    She thought he would reject. She really did. Who knew that he would willingly drink with her without any hesitation and only a simple smile?

    At least he was a good drinking partner. She admitted that she enjoyed their conversation, and that her trust in him grew more after that conversation. She knew more about him, and slowly, just like this, Yu Zixu was losing the mystery he had when she first met him.

    Above all, he felt more

    human

    . He revealed to her his ups and downs, his conflicts and inner thoughts, just as she did to him.

    The only thing that really bothered her was at the very end. Somehow, all these memories were clear, instead of some of her other drunk actions which she forgot right away.

    So...

    Why in the world did she literally declare about how he looked like Wu Hao in front of him?

    Why? Just

    why

    ?

    Judging by the kind of person Zixu was, he was not going to be the type to just go, "

    Ah, drunk words; she must mean nothing.

    "

    He was the kind of person to carefully ponder over every word in that sentence, coming up with all sorts of theories and conclusions. If he asked, how would he explain to her who Wu Hao was? She didn't feel like it would be alright to tell him about the whole transmigration thing. Zixu once said he didn't believe in fate. How would he believe in time travel?

    A long moment of inner-debate went on inside of her before Yujia finally decided that she would play dumb if he asked her. It would be the best method, considering that it was also a good motto.

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    When in doubt, just play dumb.

    Ignorance was always a good solution to all problems in life.

    Another thing that Yujia found startling was that she actually didn't wake up sleeping in the bathtub or somewhere else awkward, like she usually did when drunk. Though she wasn't under the blankets, at least she was in a bed this time.

    This also meant...

    Did Young Master Yu carry her all the way back to her bed?

    At this thought, Yujia dropped the pencil she was holding. It fell to the floor, and she quickly bent down, scrambling to stop it from rolling away.

    When she sat back up straight again, she found that her cheeks were heating up.

    Ah! Stop thinking about these things!

    Her waking up in her bed didn't necessarily mean that he carried her. That would be too teenage-drama-like, wouldn't it? Too much of a fairytale to be realistic?

    He probably dragged her across the floor. Or maybe he just left her alone after she passed out, and she somehow managed to drag herself back to her bed. Those two things were at a greater possibility than Zixu carrying her.

    She needed to stop these ideas. What would they be categorized as? Daydreaming?

    Oh god, was she just

    daydreaming

    about Yu Zixu?

    Yu Zixu was handsome! She acknowledged that! But daydreaming? That was officially now banned in Yujia's mind. No daydreaming, no carrying, no Yu Zixu's.

    Only painting and sketching.

    Exactly.

    Internally, Yujia scolded herself and promised herself that these thoughts would never rise up again. She was not in the mood for these things, and letting her imagination run wild was definitely

    not

    what she needed right now.

    ...

    A while later, after she was doing with a few hours of plum tree studies, Yujia recalled that she needed to memorize the Six Principles. That was another one of her assignments.

    As a disciple of Master Yue, she could enter Lingxin's private library as she wished. So, Yujia headed there once she rolled all her sketches up, storing them neatly in one of her rooms.

    Yet on her way to the library, she was distracted by running into another individual: Yu Zixu.

    Fate? They couldn't tell her that fate didn't exist. What would it mean then, that she ran into him again this morning?

    It would be wrong of her to ignore him. Yujia quickly folded her hands and bowed, greeting, "Young Master Yu."

    "Good morning," Zixu replied back, a smile rising across his expression. "Did you sleep well last night?"

    "Ah. Yes." Yujia replied, her breath catching. She kept her eyes down all this time, but finally, she looked up, blurting out, "Last night- when I drink, I tend to say a lot of strange words. Did I say anything?"

    "You don't remember?" Zixu tilted his head.

    "No. Nothing."

    "Well then, if it will assure Junior Sister Yang, nothing out of the ordinary happened." He kept the smile on his face.

    A lie.

    This part was obvious. Yujia's memories seemed quite clear and sharp. They couldn't just be a figment of her imagination. Though, if he didn't want to talk about it, all the better. She wouldn't even have to play dumb.

    "Then, that's reassuring." She put on a smile as well. Her mind trailed back to his words. "What... did you call me again? Junior Sister?"

    This wasn't normal. Yu Zixu was only a student, not a disciple. It wouldn't be normal for him to call her Junior Sister, unless he became a disciple.

    He nodded curtly. "I'm becoming a disciple under Master Ye. I was just told this morning, a few moments ago. That's what I was doing here. So from now on, we'll be on the terms of Senior Brother and Junior Sister."

    Her smile turned genuine. If anything, Zixu with all his natural talent, deserved to be a disciple of Lingxin. Besides, calling him Senior Brother felt more natural now than Young Master Yu or Zixu.

    "That's wonderful. Congratulations," she said in a simple but genuine manner.

    "Thank you." He bowed, then looked off to the distance. "I'm a bit busy today, so if Junior Sister would excuse me..."

    "Of course."

    The conversation was surprisingly polite and short. Compared to their long discussion last night, it felt like Yujia was talking to two different people at those times. The Zixu she talked to now felt much too impersonal, too held back with etiquette and rules. It made sense- they were under public eye right now. All the behavioral guidelines appeared again, creating a wall between the two.

    Zixu turned to leave, but Yujia had a question that had been bothering her. She called out, "Wait, Senior Brother!"

    He turned. "Yes?"

    She took a step forward, her voice becoming a hush, her palms starting to sweat. "Last night... when we were drinking... after I passed out- sorry about that- did you... I-"

    "I carried you back. Is there anything wrong about it?" he replied simply, no extra flustered emotions appearing on his face.

    Yujia froze right there.

    It wasn't a daydream after all.
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