At the start of April, during the imperial court's conferral of officials, Pei Xuan was appointed as an editor for the Imperial Academy. Despite being particularly talented, people doubted he had experience, but Pei Xuan was still able to secure the position due to the influence of his father, who was the Prime Minister.
Initially, the officials at the Imperial Academy were intimidated by Pei Xuan's reputation and didn't give him much to do. However, after getting to know him, they found that he was willing to do even menial tasks, such as organizing books and running errands.
With the second place and third place examinee also working in the Imperial Academy, Pei Xuan was not alone.
At dusk, after leaving the gate of the Imperial Academy, Song Zizhen invited his friends to Fengming tower for a drink, but Pei Xuan refused, and guided them to another elegant bar.
Pei Xuan remembered the unpleasant experience from his last visit to Fengming tower and chose not to go there.
Song Zizhen patted open the wine seal with one hand and poured wine into their porcelain bowls: "There are two joys in life: the wedding night in the bridal chamber, and topping the imperial examination. You've already experienced two of them, Jinshi. Please, leave some joy for us as well.”
On the matter of making fun of Pei Xuan, Zheng Wuji was obviously on the same side as the surnamed Song: "I always thought that Jinshi would be the last out of us three to get married, but it turned out that among the three of us, he was the first to fall in love and marry.”
As he picked up the small porcelain bowl filled with wine, he took a sip and squinted his eyes, "Jinshi, Zizhen and I are very curious, what is it that you like about that girl?.”
Realizing that the night's drinking session would not be a simple affair, Pei Xuan held the wine bowl gently, lightly licked his lips, smelling the authentic pear wine, and then smiled, “I don’t know. The first time I saw her, my heart started to race.”
"Oh, oh~ oh!~~~.” Song Zizhen exclaimed, winking at Zheng Wuji in a mischievous tone.
"Be serious,” Pei Xuan scolded him.
"It's not that I'm not serious, it's that Jinshi you are not. There's no one who does not have impure intentions seeing a beautiful girl for the first time and marrying her."
"Why am I impure?.”
Song Zizhen smiled, lying on the table with his upper body, and lowered his voice: "Do you want to kiss her? Do you want to hug her? That is the reason why your heart is in a mess. By the way, Jinshi, don't be embarrassed, both Wuji and I understand!.”
Pei Xuan remained silent and simply continued drinking, avoiding Song Zizhen's questions.
"See," Song Zizhen continued, "it really affected your heart. A man, no matter how cold and reserved he may appear, is always warm when it comes to a girl."
As Pei Xuan hesitated to speak, he was conflicted about why he should engage in a conversation that would only provoke the two "older unmarried" men.
Seeing her hesitate to speak, Song Zizhen rolled his eyes: "Jinshi, it's finalized. Wuji and I will be your best groomsmen!.”
"Don't worry." Pei Xuan drank slowly, raised her eyes slightly, and said with a smile, "I can't run away from you guys.”
These two people were not only the best suitors for her, but they would also help her hold back from drinking wine. On the wedding night, she had to keep her head clear and talk to her fiance all night.
Thinking of the upcoming wedding, she missed Cui Ti so much.
She wants to hear her talk. The jovial sounds, her voice so soothing and elegant, warming the soul.
It's a pity that her fiancée moved out of the small south courtyard, and she can no longer talk to her across a wall.
But it's good for her to go back to the Chenxiang courtyard, at least the roof there won't leak when it rains, and it's a comfortable and safe place to live.
Thinking of this, she felt a bit better.
Seeing her appearance, Zheng Wuji asked: "Jinshi, what are you thinking?.”
"Do you want to see your bride?" Song Zizhen commented, "Aren't you going to meet her before marriage? Even if you talk through a screen, it's fine, otherwise, you can pass a letter."
Pei Xuan was plagued with uncertainty, as his thoughts were consumed by Song Zizhen's suggestion: "Will that really work?.”
"Why wouldn’t it work? The betrothal gift has been given, even if she doesn't pay homage, she is still yours. Besides, you are her legal husband. When a husband sees his wife, how can that be bad?.”
Although his words sounded nice, they were unreliable, so Pei Xuan looked at Zheng Wuji.
Zheng Wuji laughed at her, "It's okay, don’t worry. Besides, you are just letting her know that you miss her, so wouldn't it be okay?.”
"This is good!"
Pei Xuan slapped the table and got up, dropping the money for the wine with his palm: "I'm leaving first, you guys drink slowly."
Song Zizhen was stunned on the spot, pointing in the direction of someone's flight, incredulous: "This, is this still Jinshi? Could it be that Cui's parents used magic tricks on him?.”
"Such nonsense!" Zheng Wuji said seriously, "This is called lovesickness, do you understand, lovesickness!."
“Shopkeeper, I want a bowl of red bean soup!.”
As the wedding date approached, Pei Xuan was hard at work in the Imperial Academy, counting down the days until she could welcome her bride on May 5th, at the Xining Mansion.
Presently, in the serene surroundings of the Chenxiang courtyard, Cui Ti is hard at work with a needle and thread, meticulously embroidering a sachet for her soon-to-be husband.
Despite her visual impairments, she is determined to create something special for him.
Bai Ge assisted her by adjusting the stitches of the embroidery with her hands, and acting as her eyes in this arduous task.
"Mistress, we accidentally messed up the design again.”
Cui Ti didn't show any disappointment on her face, her years of hardships had tempered her spirit like a river flowing against the rocks. If she made a mistake, she would simply start over again without letting it bring her down. It was a good thing she didn't accidentally prick her finger and stain the sachet.
Her determination was truly admirable. If Bai Ge were in Cui Ti's shoes, being blind and all, she would not have the courage to even thread a needle, let alone embroider a sachet.
"Let’s do it again.”
"For sure, mistress!." Bai Ge didn't dare to be distracted, and hurriedly pulled back her thoughts and continued to assist her mistress.
For Cui Ti, as a blind person, her precious wedding dress could not be stained with blood, so she symbolically stitched a few threads on the half-finished gown.
She regretted not being able to sew lingerie for Pei Xuan, so she used this sachet as a way to express her love and affection.
Though the embroidery may not be flawless, it kept her from feeling idle and bored.
Meanwhile, Pei Xuan was flying a kite near the Xining Mansion, and the kite that soared into the sky was a beautiful and colorful crane.
The striking crane and the charming young man in his official robes caught the attention of many onlookers. Most people who laid their eyes on his face and uniform recognized him as the number one scholar in Xijing.
The number one scholar who was conferred by His Majesty and entered the Imperial Academy at a young age had a bright future.
Pei Xuan didn't care about the gazes of others, and tried to control the kite while observing the direction of the wind.
After playing with it, he still thought it was most suitable to fly in front of the main gate.
The doorman of the Xining mansion was replaced by an honest man, and the doorman looked at Pei Xuan strangle, unable to figure out what was going on.
Are you not busy editing and writing for the Imperial Academy?.
Why are you here flying a kite at someone's door?.
"Sir, come here."
The honest man pointed at himself, and Pei Xuan nodded, "Yes, please go to the house and talk to Cui Ti, just say that I am flying a kite outside and to see it with her heart.”
The honest man reported to Bai Ge who was at the gate of the Chenxiang courtyard, “Understood, you can go now.”
Bai Ge quickly walked back to the room and told Cui Ti exactly what Pei Xuan had said.
Cui Ti smiled and said, "Help me take a look."
Have a look?.
As a blind woman, how can you do that?
The heart is at times the eye.
"Mistress, it's such an impressive kite," exclaimed Bai Ge as she gazed upward. "It's as long as two people and the colorful crane design exudes an aura just by looking at it. The colors are so vivid and bright."
She turned to Cui Ti and asked, "What do you see with your heart's eye?.”
Cui Ti laughed at her: "He is talking through this kite."
"He is saying, ‘I miss you, I want to see you, I want you to be with me."
Bai Ge's cheeks turned a shade of red, and she grumbled, "Why is your husband flirting this way?.”
Cui Ti shared her confusion, wondering why Pei Xuan would miss and want to see her.
Did he not love her?.
Why do you miss her, want to accompany her, and want to see her?.
As the spring breeze blew through her hair, Cui Ti looked upward, her thoughts wandering as she tried to make sense of Pei Xuan's unpredictable behavior.
How long has Pei Xuan been flying the kite, and how long has she been 'watching' in the courtyard?.
Adhering to the strict etiquette before marriage, the two kept their distance and watched the kite silently and curiously.
Pei Xuan's book boy approached him: "Young Master, it's getting late, Madam is calling you to go home for dinner."
"Let her wait a little longer." Pei Xuan held the spool and suddenly said, "Knife."
The book boy was momentarily taken aback before quickly grabbing the paper-cutting knife he always carried with him.
The knife soon cut the thread, and a huge colorful kite flew into the main gate.
"This is the kite I want to give to my wife, do you understand?.”
The honest man was forced to appreciate the big colorful crane that had set for an hour, nodded and bowed: "Don't worry, young master, the kite will definitely be delivered to the mistress.”
Pei Xuan was satisfied, but also elated because of that title, "young master".
Most of her happiness is hidden in her heart, even so, the emotions she reveals are enough for the book boy to worry.
"Mistress, this is sent by Pei Xuan.”
Bai Ge was holding the unbelievably big kite, and the more she looked at it, the more she wanted to laugh: "Why didn't I think that Mr. Pei was such an interesting person before, the mistress will follow him in the future, so she has something to look forward to."
The colorful kites are exquisite in workmanship and exquisite in materials, as Cui Ti touched it with her hands.
Cui Ti recalled the memories of her past life, where Pei Xuan was just as fond of flying kites and delighting her with unexpected surprises.
Pei Xuan yearned to see her and she, in turn, longed to see him. Not just to touch him with her hands, but to bask in the radiance of his charming personality that had captivated so many women in Xijing.
She wanted to experience his gentle and loving gaze, to immerse herself in his demeanor.
Thinking day by day and dreaming night by night, this afternoon Cui Ti once again dreamed of a fairy riding a crane.
She wanted to see it.
However, this realization also brought a tinge of sadness with it.
Cui Ti's sachet was finally embroidered after stumbling over and over again.
Despite its wrinkled appearance and messy stitches, she had tried her best, even though she knew it wasn't a suitable gift to present to Pei Xuan.
As she raised her hand to discard the imperfectly embroidered sachet, Bai Ge stopped her, “Don’t throw it away, even though it is not beautiful, it is the mistress's sincerity. If your husband is really good, why would he deny you because of the quality of the stitches?.”
As the wedding day draws closer, Bai Ge notices her mistress becoming more and more self-hating.
Bai Ge placed the sachet aside and knelt down beside her, "Mistress, those who love you won't judge you for making a mistake, they will love you for your kindness and all the good in you. Smile and embrace your joy as a bride."
It was now May 4th, the day before the wedding.
Cui Ti hugged her knees tightly and felt a rush of emotions prick at her eyes, hidden behind a veil of white gauze. Despite her sadness, she bravely asked, "Bai Ge, if I were to give birth to a blind son, do you think he would hate me?.”