Li Xueyue never had more freedom than right now. Wind rushed through her hair, sending the heavy hair accessories flying in the air. It didn't take long for the night breeze to run through her silky hair. She could feel the rush of her thundering heart that pumped adrenaline into her system.
At this moment, nothing mattered anymore. No more etiquette. No more rules. No more worries. It was just her and Heiyue—nothing else. And she was deeply grateful for it.
Li Xueyue didn't care that they were running into the dark night. She didn't care that they would get lost or that the moon was high in the sky and stars were beginning to make themselves known. The moonlight guided her to wherever she wanted to go.
Heiyue ran and ran, his powerful hooves thundering upon the ground, it sounded like an earthquake. His body blended into the darkness. He dashed so quickly that no one was able to detect them.
"Let's take a break," Li Xueyue declared when he stopped in front of a stream of water. It was in the middle of nowhere.
Li Xueyue slipped off the horse and touched the flowing water. It was cold upon her sweaty palms. She let out an irritable sigh when her long sleeves got wet.
"I've always hated you." Li Xueyue angrily peeled off the multilayered hanfu.
Li Xueyue tossed it to the ground, glaring down at it. They reminded her of the insufferable palace. She didn't want to go back there. She didn't want to fight anymore. She didn't want to be under watchful eyes.
They were lies and she knew it.
Li Xueyue was just tired of being inside of that suffocating palace. She had missed her days of freedom. It had been a while since she was allowed to do as she pleased.
"No, don't eat that," Li Xueyue grumbled upon seeing Heiyue nibble at some daisies. He neighed at her words and went back to drinking the water.
Li Xueyue remained in her bent position. She was wearing nothing except for two layers of clothing. It was her undergarment and the decorative layer of her hanfu—the one with expensive embroidery that she didn't dare to lose.
It was too late for that now, wasn't it?
Her hairpins were lost, somewhere in this meadow. Nonetheless, no one would dare to complain.
If only Li Xueyue knew the art she had created. The scattered hairpins formed a path of glistening jewels. When the moonlight danced upon it, a shimmering trail formed behind them.
"You might get food poisoning," Li Xueyue warned Heiyue when he nipped at another kind of flower.
She plucked it from the ground, staring at the pale, white petals.
"The life of an idle flower is not made for me," Li Xueyue mumbled to herself.
Heiyue snorted in agreement. He nudged her with his head, almost curious about her emotions.
"I hate doing nothing but sit around and read. I hate writing poetry. It's boring. I hate taking strolls in the garden every few hours. And if I have to sit another minute in that room, I will kick the chair to the ground."
Heiyue tilted his head at her words. Why couldn't she just… up and leave? She could take him. He'd bring her anywhere she wanted to. It was as simple as climbing back onto him.
"But I love him."
Li Xueyue glanced at the ground. She plucked the weeds that surrounded a tiny bud of flowers.
Heiyue tilted his head as he patiently listened to her rant.
"I love his smile, his laughter, his soul. I love everything about him, even that horrid temper."
Li Xueyue laid upon her back and sighed. She looked towards the sky where stars twinkled like his eyes. The small pebbles of light winked back at her, much like his playfulness.
Even in the wilderness, she was reminded of him. From the dark night, the color of his eyes, to the flutter of grass blades, soft like his touch.
"I love him so, so much," she whispered.
"He's the only reason I tolerate all of this," Li Xueyue said to Heiyue.
Heiyue nudged the side of her face in encouragement, wanting to hear more of her soft voice.
Li Xueyue squeezed her eyes shut. She slung an arm upon her forehead and listened to the rustle of nature. She could feel a sudden glow emerge in the darkness.
And when Li Xueyue opened her eyes, she couldn't breathe. She was staring into beads of obsidian black. He stood over her, a lantern in hand. However, that wasn't where the light came from.
It was the fireflies that crept out of the shadows. One by one, they lit up the dark meadow. Sadly for them, their glow could never outmatch the shine of jewels. Despite that, this scene was the most beautiful thing she had witnessed.
Li Xueyue knew he'd never let her go. She knew he'd find her. He always did.
Yu Zhen said nothing. He took a seat beside her. He said nothing. Despite the tremor of his erratic heart, and the words resting upon his tongue, not a sound came from him.
He watched as she reached a hand out. She wanted to touch the fireflies but her hand touched him instead.
Yu Zhen's gaze softened. How could he not? He was still furious at her. She had ran off in the dead of the night. It was dangerous.
If it weren't for the fallen accessories, he'd never be able to find her. But he did. This simple fact was the sole reason his anger was slowly simmering away.
That, and the fact that he had overheard her confession. She loved him. Li Xueyue loved him. The words repeated in his head, over and over again.
He would never forget the sound of it. The words had rolled off of her tongue without hesitation. She truly loved him.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?" Li Xueyue quietly said, referring to the fireflies that grazed her fingertips, yet they never stayed long enough.
Li Xueyue wanted to capture their light in her palms. She knew that would be impossible.
Li Xueyue wanted to put the fireflies in a bottle and keep it with her forever but it'd meant caging their beauty. And she didn't want that.
"I should do the same to you," Yu Zhen muttered when she closed her fingers around a lone firefly. It glowed brighter than the rest of its peers.
"But you won't."
Yu Zhen revealed a slow, tired smile.
He reached a hand out and caressed her cheek. It was cold to the touch. He slipped his robe off of him and placed it across her chest like a blanket.
"But I won't," he confirmed.
They didn't say anything else after that. They continued to remain in the meadow, watching hundreds of fireflies take flight. The breeze was gentle and cold. Yet, neither of them complained.
A silence washed over them.
Li Xueyue and Yu Zhen continued to watch the fireflies. Even when the moon rose higher in the sky, revealing specks of gray, they remained seated. Words didn't have to be exchanged for them to have a mutual agreement.
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