Zi Lan was the first to greet her when Bai Qian arrived at the entry of the school. He walked towards her with a broad smile on his face.
“I told everyone that you’d come before your wedding. They thought I was crazy when I told them to stock up on wine,” he chuckled. “It’s not everyday a Kunlun disciple gets married… especially the youngest.”
Zi Lan held his chin in his hand, appreciating his own cleverness. Bai Qian looked towards Mo Yuan’s platform, then with her fan, tapped Zi Lan on the chest, and asked, “Where’s Shifu?”
Zi lan dramatically folded over, as if he was in great pain, but looked up with his playful eyes, “Shifu has been in seclusion for days. Seventeen, since there is only one day before your wedding, I think tonight would be a good night for a feast.”
The last time all the disciples had gathered together for a feast was after the death of ninth disciple and Mo Yuan. The occasion was much different, but not much had changed over the thousands of years.
Senior Die Feng was the first to raise his glass. “This is for our Shifu’s safe return back to us.” He filled his cup again and said, “This is for our Seventeenth disciple’s upcoming wedding to the Crown Prince.”
Everyone emptied their cups after raising it towards Bai Qian. Senior filled and raised his glass again, “This one is for our Ninth who isn’t with us today.”
Some of the disciples became teary eyed as they raised their glasses and poured the wine to the side, as an offering to him.
It was difficult for Bai Qian to keep a straight face when their plan was so transparent. One after the other, Bai Qian’s older disciples filled her cup, trying to get her drunk. She laughed inwardly, knowing she had the highest tolerance out of everyone. Soon, their talks turned silly, and she heard one of the disciples say, “I almost took a bath with seventeen! That would have been soooooo embarrassing!”
Everyone burst out laughing. She glared at them teasingly from the corner of her eyes.
Zi Lan, who was drunk, giggled as he announced, “High Goddess Bai Qian, Queen of Qing Qiu, you grace us with your presence.” He started to bow in full ceremony in front of her, when Bai Qian a threw a loquat at fast speed, stopping him in mid bow. Once again, the older disciples lost themselves in laughter. They were having a good time at Bai Qian’s expense, but she didn’t mind. The moments spent being the youngest disciple at Kunlun Mountain were some of the best in her life. Bai Qian looked out at her extended family- her fellow disciple brothers, who were falling to the ground one by one like ripe peaches falling from a tree. Some snored and some talked in their sleep.
Bai Qian walked around the familiar places, touching everything lightly, as if to hold them in her memory. She touched Shifu’s platform and sat beside it for a moment, knowing moments like these would become far and in between after she married Ye Hua. She felt a light breeze flutter through her hair, accompanied by the faint sound of Shifu’s zither playing a sad song. It was the same one he always played for her, but tonight it sounded different to her ears.
Shifu was sitting in the middle of his room. His eyes were closed, his expression one of peace. Bai Qian knew of her rudeness, but she walked in without permission, sat down and put her head on Mo Yuan’s shoulder. He continued playing without opening his eyes.
“Seventeen, what are you doing here?”
His words were short, but his tone remained soft. Bai Qian sighed, “all those times you played this song, yet I never bothered learn it. I guess… I won’t have another chance before… my wedding,” she added quietly.
Mo Yuan finally opened his eyes and looked down at her. “Yes, you won’t be able to come and go as you please once you become Crown Princess.” Mo Yuan’s soft breathing sounded like a lullaby. Bai Qian closed her eyes as the song came to an end. Mo Yuan took another longing look at Bai Qian, wanting her to stay, but instead said, “Bai Qian, I think it’s time for you to go.”
Bai Qian didn’t move, but instead asked Mo Yuan softly, “Shifu, is there anything else you’d like to say to me before I leave?”
Mo Yuan had a hundred things he wanted to say. As much as his passion for Bai Qian scorched his insides, his brotherly love for Ye Hua outweighed everything. He wouldn’t be able to love Bai Qian freely, knowing Ye Hua was suffering from his selfish choice. Mo Yuan blamed his fate, which had already been shaped by the unfortunate timing and events that could not be undone. He inhaled the fragrance of her hair for the last time.
“Seventeen, you’re going to look lovely as a bride tomorrow. I’ll see you tomorrow. I’ll be leading the groom procession to pick you up at Qing Qiu. Now, why don’t you go to Ye Hua and surprise him with a visit?”
For a long time after Bai Qian had gone, Mo Yuan could still smell her lingering perfume in the air.
Ye Hua was delighted when Qian Qian snuck into his sleeping chamber the night before the wedding. She clearly stated she was there to ‘only sleep’, but Ye Hua had other plans in mind. It had been a week since he and Qian Qian made love and it was a week too long.
In an attempt to deflect his advances, Qian Qian turned on her side, away from Ye Hua. She felt him lovingly embrace her before feeling his hands sneaking inside her nightgown. She flipped over, laid on his chest and found the place by his neck, where she normally fell asleep and felt Ye Hua’s hand caressing her most sensitive places, over her nightgown. She opened her eyes and gave Ye Hua the most annoyed look she could conjure up, but then she started giggling when she saw the smile on his face.
With that, Ye Hua jumped on top of her, threw the blanket over his head, and moved down her body as he pulled her nightgown up. Neither of them slept much that night, but Bai Qian needed to be in Qing Qiu, when the traditional wedding procession started, so Ye Hua let her leave after round two.
The wedding procession was outworldly grand, with thousand maids and luscious dowries. At the head of procession, they had Mo Yuan lead, beside him was Dong Hua Di Jin, who rarely joined crowds. Third uncle Lian Song and Shi Ming, being the gossipers they were, wouldn’t have missed this once in a lifetime grand and beautiful marriage between the handsome Celestial Crown Prince and the most beautiful Queen of Qing Qiu. Qian Qian looked ravishing on her wedding day. She wore a dress the color of rich crimson that brought out the blush in her cheeks and accentuated her fair, beautiful skin.
The procession took 3 days. When they safely arrived in Nine Heavens, all the immortals were already standing at the gates to welcome soon-to-be Crown Princess Bai Qian. The one who accompanied her was one of her sister-in-laws to be the matchmaker. Every traditional ceremony was held with precision.
When the bride arrived in Xi Wu Palace, the bowing ceremony started to commence. Ye Hua looked so happy that his rare smile now showed easily, and his face brightly brimmed with happiness when he saw Bai Qian walking gracefully toward him. With guidance from Dong Hua Di Jun as officiator, Ye Hua and Bai Qian bowed to Heaven and Earth, then to Ancestors and their parents, then their last bow was to pay respect to one another.
The next was the tea ceremony. The first to be served were Ye Hua’s parents, who looked prim as usual, exuding their happiness for their only son. Bai Qian’s parents were second to be served. The next in line actually caused a little commotion, when the mothers discussed who would be served after both parents. Bai Qian decided her Shifu had the right to be served next, and Ye Hua followed Bai Qian’s decision. Heavenly Grandfather would be served after High God Mo Yuan.
The ceremonies ended beautifully. After the tea ceremony, Bai Qian was led to the wedding chamber, where she waited for her groom for their first night. Ye Hua, who had very low tolerance of alcohol, reached his limit after only 2 cups of wine. When Di Jun saw Lian Song drag Ye Hua to his wedding chamber, Ye Hua was still somewhat walking steadily.
Qian Qian was sitting on the bed in their newly decorated sleeping chamber, with her veil still over her face. Ye Hua sat beside her and lightly pulled at her sleeve.
Qian Qian suddenly lifted the veil from her face and said, “Ye Hua, since we are now married, having bowed to Heaven and Earth, there is something I should say.”
Ye Hua had a strange sense of déjà vu. Qian Qian continued, “I’m someone who believes in a distinct sense of wrong and right. You must never betray me for all of eternity.”
Ye Hua smiled. “What would you do if I betrayed you?” he asked.
Her response was as he expected, “Our vows will become null and void and I will never see you again.”
Ye Hua could barely hold back his grin, “So if I betray you and you leave me, wouldn’t you be giving me exactly what I want?”
Her response came out quickly. “I’m not kidding!”
Ye Hua smiled and said, “Qian Qian close your eyes.” He kissed her gently and said, “I will never betray you.” He kissed her again, removed her wedding dress and dropped it on the floor.
A couple days short of their third wedding anniversary, Qian Qian gave A-li what he had been asking for since they met at the Eastern Sea banquet, a new baby brother and another one three years after that…
Epilogue for Ye Hua’s happy ending
After being pregnant for six years consecutively, Bai Qian had given Ye Hua, who was now the Heavenly Lord, three sons and everyone in all realms knew of Ye Hua’s constant affection, for his wife Heavenly Empress Bai Qian. Nobody knew this better than Ye Hua’s wife Heavenly Empress Bai Qian.
Ye Hua and Bai Qian’s love was just as romantic as when they were newlyweds, but Bai Qian didn’t have any desire for more children. So when Bai Qian became pregnant again, she was very surprised and stunned, considering she had been eating Zhe Yan’s contraceptive peaches, religiously. She blamed Zhe Yan for giving Nai Nai the wrong peaches, but little did she know, that Ye Hua had been switching the peaches for months.
One night when Bai Qian was sleeping, Ye Hua secretly used his spiritual aura and was delighted to find a little princess would soon be joining the family. He felt as if his heart would burst from joy, as he hugged Qian Qian in her sleep. No amount of words would truly ever be enough, to describe how grateful he was to have her, in his life.
Hundreds of years later, the family, now consisting of Heavenly Lord Ye Hua, Heavenly Empress Bai Qian, Crown Prince A-Li, his little siblings princes and princess: went to Mt Junji, to see where their parent’s love story began. Ye Hua cooked dinner, while Qian Qian and the children got lost in the forest nearby.
Luckily, Ye Hua had expected this and instructed Tian Shu to follow them.
After dinner, Ye Hua and Qian Qian sat on the very steps, where she had found him, when he was injured during her mortal times.
“You’re lucky I was here that day to take care of you Ye Hua. You were very injured.”
Qian Qian said seriously. Ye Hua, slightly struggling to hide a smile upon hearing her statement, just nodded silently and looked at out his children catching fireflies in the early night sky.
“Did you know I have a hidden talent for healing? I used the special herbal mix that healed you instantly.”
Qian Qian said, as she leaned into Ye Hua’s arms, he kissed her cheek and let his lips linger on her face.
“I’m your savior, so you must be good to me forever. Especially considering all the cooking I did for you.”
Before Qian Qian could finish her sentence, Ye Hua, all the children, and Tian Shu stopped what they were doing, looked at her stunned, and all burst into hysterically, loud laughter.
One could hear their laughter for all the way up in Celestial Heaven.