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Art: @Aerinon on Twitter

"What, the tree has a significant other?" Xiwangmu scoffed lightly.

"No. You know what I'm talking about. The tree. It has a date."

"And how do you know?" She was confused. And not convinced. Maybe it was the alcohol.

"Guizhong told me, she put a tag with a date on the tree secretly when you first planted it." Zhongli explained. While sipping his cup of tea carefully after blowing the steam.

"How did I not notice?"

"You were too busy looking up, and didn't look down at the soil."

"..." She scrunched her eyebrows in a dissatisfied expression, when Zhongli pointed the obvious answer that she didn't know about.

"Do you think it is still there if I look?"

"Why don't you find out yourself?"

She did exactly that. Swiftly standing up, but in slight denial. Xiwangmu was torn between remembering a memory, and leaving the memory behind. But she knew deep within herself that if she keeps it away, then she'll never move on.

The forest was all green, and if you looked very closely on the ground, you could see a trail of the top of a footprint engraved on the ground. She followed it, for the adventure, and the fun feel of it.

She stood in front of the red tree in question. It probably was okay to leave Xiao in the hands of the geo archon.

The tree stood tall. The wind moved the leaves, and they sounded like bells, or chimes. In other words, it was soft, and enchanting.

She didn't have to dig so much. There was a tag indeed. It was all tangled in the tree roots, which she decided to just rip them off. Picking up the dirty tag.

The tag said, "To Y/N, from Gui. I hope you have a good time here in Liyue. Happy birthday. Your first gift from me. Is a tree. We talked about this tree before right? We both thought it would look mesmerizing to have red among all of the green on your mountain. This tag is very limited, and I would rather write a letter than on a small piece of parchment paper. But I hope you find your way through here on out. And enjoy the Lantern Rite festival."

Xiwangmu has only gone to the Lantern Rite once. She didn't think it was actually that pretty at first. They were indeed pretty under that dark sky, while everyone releases light. They were similar to the many stars in the sky, as they would drift into the sky and grow smaller and smaller. As much as the eye could see. She came up with a resolution, to enjoy the Lantern Rite each year, considering she should actually participate in one of the many large mortal festivities. A job as the goddess of humanity.

"Guizhong. Was it a right decision to let them go?"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Morax. I found the tag. I couldn't see the date well. All I could tell was that there was a 2 at the beginning." She scratched her cheek while joining Zhongli at the table again.

Zhongli took the tag from her hand, and observed it. Reading the small message from Guizhong briefly.

"You don't remember. But your birth date was the same as the festival that is coming up soon."

"The same as the festival coming soon?"

Zhongli only nodded.

Xiwangmu couldn't think of anything. What festival was coming up? She remembered, spots of light. Were they stars? Then it hit her. The festival that was coming up soon. It was her resolution.

"The Lantern Rite festival?!" She whipped her head at Zhongli. And he smiled into his cup, like a parent would. But in their case, it's like siblings.

"I still remember. On that Lantern Rite, you told us that, 'What's the point in writing a wish when you could make it come true yourself?'" He set his teacup down.

"I think I remember a few things. After a couple of moments, you made me an adeptus. Adding just a few 3,000 more years to my lifespan. No worries."

Zhongli chuckled. "Do you want me to take Xiao to Wangshu Inn?"

"Actually I think it's easier to just let him stay here. I have extra blankets and pillows, he'll manage."

Xiwangmu hoisted Xiao up, the other caretakers were instructed by Ming to prepare a blanket and sleeping place for the 'guest' who slept like a rock.

Zhongli left for another night.

Xiao was later down, and when Xiwangmu was about to leave. He gripped her hanfu. Restricting her from leaving. And a part of Xiao seemed lonely. He wasn't used to kindness.

"Xiao?" She asked. But he only slept. Slightly stirring in his sleep. It could be a nightmare that he is seeing.

Xiwangmu sat down next to him. Letting his hand hold onto her skirt like a child would of their mother. She grabbed her flute again, and played softly.

Her flute, is something she's had for a while. And she just remembered it was also a gift, from Guizhong. She has a knack for music, specifically the flute. It's a carving of wood, with different sized holes. But still produces beautiful sounds, that can heal the soul of ones tainted one.

Xiao's stirring stopped. And his expression relaxed, as well as his hand grip loosened. Soon slowly sliding down to the floor.

Xiwangmu gently placed her hand on his. Trying to make him relax. He's even suffering in his sleep.

She decided to take a midnight bath in the lake again. The same place she first met Xiao.

Ming found her walking to the lake, and insisted on keeping watch just in case.

The sky was clear tonight, and the moon was there too. Her favorite part was the stars.

"Maybe I should go down to Liyue Harbor tomorrow, and take a look at the Lantern Rite decorations." She leaned back into the water.

"If you are going to, would you prefer to bring the yaksha with you?" Ming kneeled down to her, placing her hanfu on the ground along with the towel.

"I could try. But I don't think he likes crowded places with happy, and peaceful people around."

Ming leaned her head to the side in confusion for a little bit.

"Don't mind what I said." She waved her hand in the air, and sinking it into the water again.

The night was silent once more.

Xiwangmu left the lake, ignoring the eerie feeling of the night inside a forest. But this was her forest. There's nothing to be afraid of.

She was excited for what the next day has in store for her. Will there be anything concerning happen during such a happy festival?

Even after the other incident where Morax faked his death, and one of the fatui decided to awaken Osial. And Osial is deadly. Xiwangmu on the other hand was far too away from where they were during the entire time.

Xiao woke up in the middle of the night, as the alcohol started to ware off. He didn't drink a lot so he was spared of the headache that comes afterwards. He nearly jumped out of his skin to see Xiwangmu sleeping next to him.

Well... it was her room. He might've gotten lost and be wary of his surroundings being somewhere he's never been to.

'Why did I drink that wine she had...' He slooowly started to regret drinking because he let his guard down. Does he always have to be on high alert? Especially around her?

He wouldn't know. How would he know?

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