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212 The Following Memory Fragments of the Pas

    In the second memory, it had been two weeks later.

    Yue Ze had long put the peculiar Miss Wei to the back of his head after their conversation two weeks ago. She eventually had to go back to the Wei Household- as she explained to him, she only needed to run away to get a grip on reality- and he just simply didn't think much of this encounter. Sure, it was bizarre but at the same time, not too important.

    In this following memory, the premise was that he was at his master's villa-school, where his master sometimes conducted lessons at. As his master's disciple, he had better privileges and got access to a more private area to paint and study at.

    His master was just conducting a lesson. When his master returned, bringing along someone familiar with him, Yue Ze was painting.

    The person he brought was a girl, wearing a veil, but when she looked up at Yue Ze, he recognized those large eyes above the veil.

    It was Wei Yunjing.

    \"What is she doing here?\" Yue Ze asked, eyes narrowed.

    \"This is your new Junior Sister,\" his master replied, then went to a desk on the opposite side of the room to paint.

    There was no extra explanation. Just that.

    Yue Ze stared at this with disbelief. He recalled the day after that conversation with Wei Yunjing, he talked to his master about this student of his. His master told him that he was only teaching this girl because of her family background, and that he was paid well to do so. She didn't have any actual talent. He could care less about her artistic skills- or lack thereof.

    The relationship between his master and this girl would never extend more than teacher and student.

    How were they now suddenly master and disciple?

    Yue Ze's eyes glanced back over to Miss Wei, then right at his master again.

    His master snapped back, \"Stop staring at me like that. Stop gawking. She's plenty qualified to be your Junior Sister.\"

    \"She's- the young miss of the Wei Family- how could you-\"

    \"Relax. The public won't know about this. We're only master and disciple in private. Can you blame me, Yue Ze? She's a genius at art. If I don't take her as a disciple, I would be throwing away a sacred opportunity.\"

    \"This...\"

    'But just a few days ago, you were insulting her work like crazy! How could your opinion change so fast?' That was what Yue Ze wanted to say.

    \"Yunjing thanks Master for the praise,\" she replied sweetly. \"Would Senior Brother like to see some of my work?\"

    He nodded. He really did want to see how much of a \"genius\" she could possibly be.

    A few brush strokes, textured ink details, and layered mountains later, Yue Ze was left wordless and convinced.

    A genius, indeed...

    Seeing her work, he frankly felt ashamed of himself and wanted to buy himself in this shame. How could he be so arrogant before? This... he...

    ...

    In the third memory, at this point, the two of them- Yue Ze and Wei Yunjing- had developed a good relationship. It was a month later, and he found her in the villa-school of his master, tinkering at something involving a pot, animal fat, a fire, and other odd supplies.

    \"What are you doing?\" he asked.

    Yue Ze had long accepted the somewhat peculiar personality of his Junior Sister. He had never seen her do something like this before, though.

    \"Making soap.\"

    \"Soap? What's that?\"

    He had never heard of this term before.

    \"Oh. Right. You people have never seen this before. How to explain...\" she hummed, \"it's kind of like... detergent. What you use to clean stuff. You can take baths with it, clean clothes... the current soap that you all have is just too pathetic. I need to fix that.\"

    He watched her continue working with newfound awe. \"You can do that with just some animal fat?\"

    \"Yes. It's because of the chemical properties- the hydrophobic tendencies of lipids,\" she let out a small laugh, seeing the puzzled look on his face, \"I guess these are alien terms to you.\"

    \"How do you know how to do all of this?\" he asked.

    Yunjing smiled, shrugging half a shoulder. \"I'm mostly just playing around with things, figuring it out, but... what did I say before? I came from the future. You thought that I was crazy, though.\" Half her focus on the pot she was stirring in front of her, the other half of her focus on him, she continued, \"I've already devised a better plumbing system in the Wei villa. After making this soap, I'm going to figure out how to make more refined salt than the current overpriced and low quality salt you people have, then create other things as well.\"

    Yue Ze found himself slowly believing this idea, though it was just a little incomprehensible. What else could explain why this young miss, who had been pampered all her life, knew how to do all of this right now? Amnesia couldn't explain how she figured out how to make this 'soap'. Or the advanced plumbing system she claimed.

    \"Junior Sister,\" he said with an awkward laugh, \"I'm a bit scared of you right now.\"

    \"Scared of me?\"

    \"You're too... capable.\"

    \"Hm. I guess you could word it like that. In my past life, I tinkered with a lot of different fields.\"

    \"Do you tell everyone that?\" he blurted out. She looked up, pausing, so he felt the need to clarify, \"All of those future-soul notions.\"

    She shook her head slowly. \"No.\"

    \"Then, why are you saying all this to me?\"

    \"Just because,\" she laughed, \"you're a fun kid to mess with. And, you're my lovely senior brother. How could I not tell you these things?\"

    It would still take Yue Ze a while to come to terms that Wei Yunjing truly was some strange soul switched over from the future, but this was the start of it all. Along with this, it also marked the beginning of the trust that developed between Yue Ze and this unordinary girl.

    She trusted him, so gradually, he learned to trust her as well.

    As a younger boy, he didn't quite want to admit this, but in a way, she was the first person he grew to put all his trust in- the first person, and the only person, for the rest of his life.

    He knew that now. He knew it, finally, when it was all too late.

    ...

    In the fourth memory, two years had passed.

    Many things had happened in the past two years. For one thing, Yue Ze had grown much taller. In the past, he was eye-level with Wei Yunjing, but now, he was much taller. Plus, he was still growing.

    Second, many of Wei Yunjing's inventions launched out to the rest of the world. From her flower-scented soap, to the controversial refined salt which caused a ruckus in the government and business world, to simple things like folding fans, little gadgets, glasses, and more, the world began to appreciate this new technology more and more. Yet due to her identity, Wei Yunjing never managed to step up to admit to these inventions. She could only let them be released under a male pseudonym.

    Yue Ze witnessed the growing frustration within his junior sister Yunjing. She wanted a name for herself. She wanted the world to know that these inventions were a result of the days she spent, mulling over her equipment and supplies. The identity of Wei Yunjing limited her far too much. Her family would never allow for this truth to leak.

    He was there for her when she broke down, when she needed someone to rant to. He knew her greatest desire- to run away and throw everything behind- and her reluctance, like the love she received from her family, and the good relationship she had from their shared master, to the friends she made.

    At the same time that she ranted to him, he ranted to her as well. He ranted about the struggles of being the third son, with older brothers above him and a spoiled younger brother below him, of feeling that he was never enough, of feeling that he was a disappointment since he had no clear talent besides art. He shared his dreams too, dreams to start an art school that would win fame, an art school with a name that would spread across the globe.

    They also talked. They talked about little things, like melancholic dreams they had last night in their sleep, a new method of painting that Yunjing introduced to him, a critique on certain overrated pieces of art, strange occurrences throughout their day, how they felt about certain opinions, sides, politics. Wei Yunjing simply knew how to carry a conversation. She knew how to keep the flow going, and she knew what people liked and disliked to hear.

    She embodied charisma. She wore a brilliant, beaming smile frequently, and it was just this smile that was so charming. She treated everyone like an equal. She knew how to make people laugh. She never hesitated to help others in need. She congratulated and applauded the smallest accomplishments and achievements. She made everyone feel like they were valued. She made them feel like if the whole world turned on them, at least she would be there, listening.

    And she made Yue Ze feel like he was worth something, for the first time. She made him feel like his dreams of opening a world-famous art school weren't all that hopeless.

    She said that he was dull, but he didn't take offense. Because of her, he learned to smile more. To laugh more. To be less uptight about things, and to learn to let go of the irrelevant parts of life.

    The time that the two spent together in those two years were fleeting, but they were some of the best times in Yue Ze's life.

    In retrospect, he always wondered if it was his choice to take things further that messed things up. If he chose to keep things the way they were, to keep their friendship, to keep their junior sister and senior brother relationship, maybe things could've turned out differently.

    He was a fool back then.

    He was a fool, when his father told him that he was interested in arranging a marriage between him and the young miss of another family.

    He was a fool, when he replied to his father that he already had someone in mind.

    He was a fool, when he expected that his father would be happy for his reply, that the person he had in mind was the treasured young miss of his father's greatest rival, the Wei Family.

    He was a fool, when he stormed out, in the blurring snow, looking for Wei Yunjing.

    He was a fool, when he arranged for them to meet in the snow, under the plum tree where they first talked at, the plum tree that he planted himself.

    He was a fool, when he confessed, and she only laughed at his confession, not taking him seriously.

    He was a fool when he stubbornly continued, telling her that it wasn't a joke, that he wasn't a kid anymore, that he was a man, that he wanted to be able to take care of her in the future, that she was the only one in his heart, and that he wouldn't want to ever marry anyone else.

    He was a fool when he listened to her tell him to just give it some time. She said that it was only a passing phase of infatuation, and that years from now, he would be over these childish emotions.

    He was a fool, when he declared with determination, \"It's not a child's infatuation. If today, I fail with my proposal, I have the rest of my life. I'll keep asking. One day, you'll say yes.\"

    He was a fool when he failed to note that she still didn't seem to quite take him seriously, giving him a dismissing, \"Sure, sure.\" She then pointed at the tree behind them, eyes wide with surprise, noting, \"Look- the plum blossoms have finally bloomed. They're- they're actually white blossoms?\"

    He was a fool, when he turned, his attention being drawn away by the sheer beauty of the white plum blossoms against the pure white snow. This was the first time that this tree bloomed. He considered it a lucky symbol back then, that it was a sign that Wei Yunjing, who he had met under this tree, who he had confessed to under this tree, was fated with him.

    He was a fool, when he failed to consider that it might've been a warning.

    White: a symbol of death.

    The plum blossoms that he thought would bloom in either red or pink bloomed in white. Yet at the time, all he could think of was appreciating its beauty.

    He was a fool back then. A hopeless fool in love. A fool who should've noted that things were not the kind that he should pursue after. A fool who should've backed down and salvaged their friendship when he still could.

    An absolute fool, fool, fool.

    If he was not such a fool back then, perhaps things would not turn out the way that they did.
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