A Marriage Proposal

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In my long silence, he sensed the worry within me. I could say I've never been this afraid before, never fear of losing someone, even with eldest brother Yuanji. The feeling I felt for prince Wang Jian was different, there was an intensity and it's something unfamiliar to me.

He gazed at me and I was lost for words. I didn't know what to say, "please, be safe." ...was all I thought of at the time. My voice sounded unusually softer, it is as if I'd forgotten how to speak at all.

"Do not worry," Prince Wang Jian said. "We'll come back as soon as we can." He lifted his finger wanting to brush my cheek, but we were interrupted. Eldest sister's hands landed on my shoulders as she reeled me away from his touch. Her hands were cold, and they were heavy as they sent shivers down my spine.

"Let's get you to change, little sister. We must hurry so you'll have time to say goodbye before they leave."

I looked at her, her deep abysmal eyes were intimidating, and yet, so fascinating as they drew me in. Ying Yue used to be so much taller than me, now we see eye to eye and I had grown to be just as tall as her. "Do not be afraid of me. I'm still your sister."

I nodded as we both stalked away from the cheerless dining room.

As I came back, we found prince Wang Jian at the stable, preparing to mount his horse for the journey to the north. Ying Yue had stayed inside the palace where she felt safe away from the rising glare of the early morning sun. I thought it was strange, her, hiding from sunlight.

While we were inside I asked her if she was still human and she answered yes.

"Things are a bit more complicated than what it seemed." She said. "Please forgive me if I can't engage with what's happening."

I didn't say much, nodding at the explanation she gave me. "How come you never told us? We had no news of you for the last couple of years."

"I had been a hard couple years. You'll find that eldest brother knew more than he's telling you."

A groan escaped my throat. "Typical, eldest brother never tell me anything."

"He's to be the future leader of the house of Yi. He has a lot of responsibility and he'll only let you know what's necessary. Father was the same way, he'll let you know something then held back most information if necessary. But enough about that." Ying Yue turned me around facing her. She leaned and focused her dark hypnotic eyes. They were so eerie that I found it hard to hold my stare. "Tell me, what do you think of Jian?"

I blushed and dropped my eyes - uncertain how to respond. "He was your husband."

"He was, and he went through a lot. I just wished I knew what he was going through when we were married so he didn't have to go through it alone."

"I heard stories. They said the prince was cruel to you."

Ying Yue smiled, and her smile had been kind. She shook her head. "Those were just stories. They don't know the reason why he acted the way he did." Her fingers pressed on my shoulders, her eyes narrowed gravely. "Jian has a world of his own, he doesn't talk much, he keeps his thoughts to himself. His feelings don't always show and it left me guessing most of the time of his intentions. But he is a good man, I never knew how good he truly was until it's too late."

I loosened a breath. "Do you love him, eldest sister?"

"I did." She answered. "But now I love someone else."

I felt relieved as soon she committed to her words. "Prince Wang Jian loved you, he told me that himself."

She breathes. "That was the past." Ying Yue wrapped me in a hug. "Now, he loves someone else."

*****

Lord Chua Chanshin was already mounted, calm as he could be. He seemed like he'd done this a million times and traveling to infiltrate the enemy's territory doesn't even concern him.

My anxiety was with the prince as I drew my attention to him. Nervous as the words eluded me once again. "My prince..."

"He Lian." He said, calling me by my first name dropping the lady in front of it. The prince held out his hand to place mine in, and I did so ever so softy. "If everything goes right, we should be back in a few days. I'll free your brother and you should be able to go home then."

"Go home?" I parroted, unable to hide the slight tremble in my voice. "Are you sending me home?" This all came as a surprise, "I thought I was your guest and this was my home?"

"Yes, you are indeed my guest, and this could be your home. But a noble lady has no business staying at an unmarried man's home."

I felt a slight pang of rejection even though I knew that's not what he meant to do. What if I told him I don't want to leave, that I wanted to stay here by him? What would he say? My palms began to sweat, and I found myself squeezing his hand. "B-but..."

He squeezed back. "I shall speak to your parents, tell them the truth about Ying Yue and I. It's time I stop hiding the truth and let them know of our divorce."

"You will do all that?"

He nodded. "I like you, He Lian." His voice sounded with heartbreaking tenderness that made my chest flutter. "Or else, I wouldn't risk my life trying to keep a promise I made to you." He kissed my hand softly. "When I get back, I want to make a proposal to your parents. I'm hoping they'll understand what happened, why I had to get a divorce and grant me another chance of proposal."

"My prince, what're you saying?"

"I'm saying, I want to marry you."

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