I waited out at the bridge where Jaxon I and I first talked. The howling wind and the silence of the birds were the only difference between the last time and at this moment. There were still faint grasshopper chirps, but the weather seemed gloomier rather than beautiful. It was autumn already, almost transitioning into cold winter. Despite the chilly weather, I was still warm and cosy under the traditional fur coat my maids fetched for me. Specifically, one maid, Guan Shu, who was my favourite maid.
She was a very compassionate woman. Her childhood stories were something that entertained me while the Emperor was busy with other things. Before I told her I was going to leave the palace for fresh air, she was hurriedly fetching for a fur coat she was going to give me. Out of all the four maids I had, Guan Shu stood out the most and was the most considerate one. When Chang Ying left my chamber, Guan Shu was hesitant to bring up any of the events that had happened.
“Do you mind if I ask, milady?” she said as she bowed hesitantly.
Which I replied with, “No, I do not. I’ll tell you from the start.”
Guan Shu had a son. His name was Rong Er. He was four who was now learning how to read and write. Surprisingly being raised as a peasant woman, Guan Shu was extremely educated. She was excellent in the arts, literature, writing, and had basic knowledge of politics and state affairs that many women are ‘incompetent’ in.
I was going to meet her son one day because I was curious. I’ve never seen a toddler in this palace, I also didn’t know they even existed in the palace. It was weird... seeing kids in the palace if they weren’t the prince or the princesses. The Emperor was still young, I guess him and the Empress are still trying.
Waiting for Jaxon to arrive was tiresome, so I began to try and skip pebbles, but they only jumped twice. I was clearly bad at it.
I peered over to the right side and rushed to greet Jaxon. “Do you know how long I waited for your slow ass?”
“Do you know how worried I was when you were locked up in that cell, with lack of sleep and a paler face?” he retorted as he slipped his hand down my waist and leaned in to give me a sensual hug.
“I’m sorry.” I wrapped my arm around his neck, pressing my chest against him. My eyes were closed while we embraced each other like a couple after they haven’t seen each other for a long time.
Although my feelings for Jaxon were nonexistent, I still felt flustered every time I had physical contact with him. I think it was the lack of contact with the Emperor or the lack of contact with any guy for that matter. I was a consort after all, and that means that I should be only for the Emperor like a sad, desperate puppy waiting for his abusive owner to come and pet him.
“I think it’s too dangerous to do anything at this point.” Jaxon disrupted the hug and pulled away.
I nodded. “I need to be ranked to ‘Imperial Noble Consort’ to get the jade bangle.”
“No, Carmen, I mean it’s too dangerous to do anything,” he demanded but in a certain manner that was protective. “Please don’t get yourself killed.”
“I won’t, I promise.” I lied through my teeth.
“How’ve you been?”
“Oh, pretty great, besides the fact that someone is trying to plot against me! How about you? How’s the cool guard work?”
For the first time in forever, I saw him smile. He had two dimples on the side, cute deep dimples. He looked so beautiful with a smile, even though the wind was running through his hair harshly. I had to accept the fact that he was beautiful. We were exchanging words, talking about the things we did in the place we were put in, the experiences... and life-threatening situations.
After we both became quiet, I licked my lips before I rested my arm on the bridge railing. “So tell me, how was your modernized life?”
“Great, I had friends and a family,” he joked. “And the internet, what about you?”
“Me too, but somehow, I think I’m getting used to this.” my eyes wandered off at the flowing river, the ripple sounds were still soothing to me at a time like this.
Jaxon started to talk about his life. About his little brother and how much he cared for him, he had parents who were filthy rich but never came home to see him, so he was more of a father figure to his brother. He kept on rambling on, but I never told him because I enjoyed hearing his voice. I started to zone out still staring at his well-structured face and moving lips. I had no idea what was running out of his mouth but I still smiled and nodded every time he took a glance at me.
After he finished talking, I had this goofy smirk on my face that I unknowingly established on my face. He cocked an eyebrow out and mischievously grinned.
“Take a picture, it lasts longer.” Jaxon paused and contemplated a little. “Wait... That wouldn’t make sense because—”
Laughter escaped from my lips, which Jaxon caught on. Soon after, both of us were laughing quietly his faulty joke.
“To be honest, I’m glad this happened.” Jaxon pressed his back against the railing while smoothly lifting his head up to stare at the bright, white planet. As he gawked at the full moon, his lips slowly began to curl into a half-hearted smile.
And I had agreed silently. I had experienced more than what I’ve experienced back in my era. But Jaxon, as a royal guard, has possibly not gone through as much as me. I was just assuming, though. I turned my neck to look up at the moon as well. I said, “Wait, why?”
”’Cause I met you,” he responded with speed.
My heart stopped. The answer was unexpected. It was already blustery in the beginning, but the untamed wind began to roar louder. Although I got the chills, I felt warmer with his presence around me. Or it was because of my heated cheeks.
Jaxon. I hardly knew him at all, but every time we spoke and every small talk we made in the palace, I felt like I knew him my whole life. It was not that I wanted to pursue anything with him, but his name just felt so safe on my tongue. I mustered up the words to pour out a drop of my feelings. “Me too, Jaxon. I’m glad I met you.”
His smile began to widen. I felt his arm gently gripping my shoulder and pulling me closer towards him. “I’ve never seen the moon up close like this.”
“Me neither,” I simply said.
Although the moon was an extreme beauty, beaming so brightly at us, I thought Jaxon was more alluring. It was right there in front of me. The moon was close, closer than all the moons I’ve seen before. But I couldn’t help but take little side glances at Jaxon.
We stood next to each other for nearly twenty minutes. A small conversation here and there, but mostly us thinking to ourselves with the company of each other. Jaxon’s fingers were raking through my hair softly and I was rubbing circles at the back of his hand with my thumb. It was us, just us, our bodies entangling each other while we stared at a circular bright light.
It was weird to think that if someone would spot us together here, we both would’ve been executed by default. Except here we are, our hearts glowing within because we are in each other’s presence.
Were there feelings involved? Technically we needed to communicate and stay with each other to return home. Jaxon is the only person in the palace who could relate to me, and I could relate to him. We had to stick up for each other.
But as I peered up at his wandering, twinkling brown eyes and the serious look on his face while he’s in his zone, I wondered if we could ever fall in love. As he slowly moved his head to tower over me, his one second smirk turned into a chuckle. When he smiled or laughed, his eyes would crinkle to the side and his dimples would enhance. It was mesmerizing, to see him smile, to see that.
“It’s getting cold, let’s go back inside.” Jaxon pushed me closer to him while he lead the way back.
We left to our separate ways since I lived with the others. We both exchanged ‘goodbyes’ and a wave. I thanked him for such a nice time.
I passed the eunuchs still standing out at the front. They bowed and shifted to the side so I could enter. Hua Er hugs me and told me how worried she was, and how she thought that I was really going to die for good. I haven’t seen her since the trial. While she was squeezing me and holding me way too tightly, Jaxon and I’s relationship still lingered on my mind.