“What, do you have something against how I look?” Pei Mianman said with an angry huff. Despite her words, she clearly still cared about what he thought about her, even in this form. She subconsciously caressed her own cheek and said, “Do you think I look ugly?”
Zu An burst out laughing. He reached out and wrapped his arms around her. Her body was rather soft, and very comfortable to hug. “Someone who doesn’t know you might think you’re just fishing for compliments. If this is what is called ugly, then there are no attractive people in this world.”
Pei Mianman bit her lip. “Then what about Chuyan?” she said with an ambiguous smile.
The two of them had already lived out an entire lifetime in the previous trial as husband and wife, and it was very difficult to distinguish between what was real and what was not.
The name ‘Chuyan’ seemed to call to him from a different life, but it helped to remind Zu An that all of this he was experiencing right now was merely a trial.
Zu An chuckled as he looked into Pei Mianman’s hopeful eyes. “I have no idea what Chuyan looked like when she was a kid. Either way, you’re the prettiest girl I know at this age.”
Pei Mianman snorted. Her eyes swirled with a charm that didn’t match her current age. “You’re always so crafty.”
Zu An’s heart stirred when he saw her beautiful smile. He could no longer hold back his decades of pent-up feelings, and slowly moved in to kiss her.
Pei Mianman bit her lip. She said guiltily, “Stop, you’re my big brother now.”
Zu An was speechless. “Are you really taking all of this seriously? We aren’t true brothers and sisters.”
Pei Mianman blushed. “Whatever the case, all of this is just too realistic! It doesn’t feel different from the outside world at all. Whoever managed to make such an incredible trial must have been a genius… It’s like something straight out of a fantasy story.”
“It truly is extremely realistic.” Zu An said, fear still lingering within him. “I was almost trapped in the previous world. If I hadn't accidentally stumbled upon your pendant, I might have truly lost touch with reality.”
He proceeded to tell her everything that had happened in the previous trial. Pei Mianman listened to it all, sighing constantly.
“Manman, do you know how much despair I was in? You died from a miscarriage, and I couldn’t find a way to complete the trial on my own. I could only numb myself to run away from the past… I had to make myself believe I was Wu Ding, treat everything else that had happened in the real world as a dream. That was the only thing that could make it more bearable.” Zu An’s tone was somber.
Pei Mianman’s hand gently caressed his cheek, and embraced him. “Ah Zu, I thought that dying before you did was painful, but from what you’ve said, it seems like the one who lives on is the one who truly suffers. If our roles were swapped, I wouldn’t have been able to take it… Thankfully, all of this is already in the past. Now that the two of us are back together, we’ll overcome this trial!”
Given how things were, it was safe to assume that they had passed the first trial. Even though they didn’t know what exactly was being tested, they at least found themselves at a new and most welcome beginning.
“Manman, I feel more motivated and at peace with you at my side.” Zu An shivered when he recalled Pei Mianman’s previous death.
Pei Mianman’s face turned red. “I feel the same way as well.”
Her pure and beautiful expression tore down the last of Zu An’s barriers, and he kissed her.
The two of them had been separated by death. Pei Mianman couldn't hold back the emotions that welled up within her at this reunion, and kissed him just as fiercely.
The two of them lost themselves in their affection, gradually growing more and more passionate. It was as if each of them were scared that the other person might vanish all of a sudden.
“That’s gross! Are you two eating each other’s spit?” A soft voice interjected.
Zu An and Pei Mianman separated at once, as if shocked by an electric current. San Cai had already woken up, and was staring at them while pointing at their mouths.
Pei Mianman pinched Zu An. “It’s all your fault!” This was just too embarrassing!
Zu An didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. How is this my fault? It’s this brat’s fault for spoiling our fun!
“San Cai, I think you’ve made a mistake. We were just hugging each other,” Zu An said hurriedly, trying to cook up an explanation. “Don’t I always hug you as well?”
“Do you think it’s easy to trick me just because I’m a child?” San Cai said, blinking. “I saw what you were doing!”
“Um…” Zu An felt a headache coming on. It was rather dangerous to have done what they did earlier. If this brat ended up telling anyone about it, it might erupt into a huge scandal.
He didn’t really care about his reputation in the world of this trial, and being shunned socially didn’t really matter to him either.
He was only afraid that it might influence the results of the trial, and cause him to fail.
That was why he squatted down beside the little girl and said, “San Cai, as your big brother and big sister, do we treat you well?”
San Cai nodded. “Big brother and big sister treat me really well.”
Zu An sighed. Thank goodness they were close. That made things easier. “Then what happened today will be our little secret. I’ll play with you every day and buy you delicious things to eat.”
“Yay!” San Cai’s eyes lit up. “But I don’t want to eat all these delicious things, I want to eat something else.”
Zu An smiled when he heard her response. “What do you want to eat? I’ll bring it to you!”
San Cai blinked. She pointed at his mouth and said, “I want to eat your saliva as well. I bet it’s delicious, that’s why big sister was secretly eating it!”
Zu An and Pei Mianman shared exasperated looks.
Zu An could feel himself sweating. He said quickly, “I don’t think that’s too good. That’s something that only a boy and a girl who are really close can do. We’re siblings, so we cannot do that.”
“Aren’t we really close?” San Cai tilted her head. She didn’t understand at all. “Also, if my big sister can, then why can’t I? I hate this! You guys are being mean…”
Her sadness grew and grew, and eventually, she began to cry.
Zu An gave Pei Mianman a pleading look. What were they supposed to do?
Pei Mianman rolled her eyes. “You created this problem. Deal with it yourself.”
Despite her words, she was clearly in no mood to let news of this spread, so she tried her best to cajole San Cai as well. Unfortunately, the little girl continued to cry and complain no matter what they said.
Zu An and Pei Mianman frowned. Even though the two of them knew the other’s real identities, and that all of this was fake, they were still siblings in this world!
If their ‘father’ in this world found out, he might just break their legs in a fit of anger.
Eventually, Pei Mianman was the one who stumbled on a solution first. A sudden flash of inspiration struck her, and she said, “San Cai, you’re still too young. It’s not good for you to get so close to a boy. When you become as old as me, big brother will let you try it, okay?”
“Really?” The little girl was instantly happy again.
“Of course! Let’s make a pinky promise.” Seeing that she had managed to convince the young girl, Pei Mianman exhaled in relief. Once this girl grew up, she would understand it on her own, and she wouldn’t be dumb enough to bring up this event from her past.
Now that they had successfully appeased San Cai, the two of them really wanted some time alone, but they just couldn’t find a way to ditch this little girl.
Finally, several maids appeared to escort her back in for dinner, and to prepare her for bed.
Other maids also escorted Zu An and Pei Mianman to their respective chambers.
Zu An still had a lot of things he wanted to say to Pei Mianman, as well as many questions for her. How could he wait until sunrise to see her again?
He snuck out in the dead of night and entered Pei Mianman’s room.
He had ruled from this palace for fifty years, and was eminently familiar with its layout. Even though the interior had been remodeled slightly, it wasn’t too difficult to navigate once he got used to it, especially since he’d asked Pei Mianman where her room was earlier on.
When a stranger suddenly entered her room, Pei Mianman jumped with fright. She was just about to fight back when she recognized Zu An. She let go of the breath she had been holding, becoming embarrassed and nervous instead. “What are you doing here in the middle of the night?”
“We’ve been apart for so long, and I have too many things I want to say to you.” Zu An took in her blushing face and chuckled. “We’re already a seasoned old couple. Why are you getting all embarrassed?”
“Things are different now!” Pei Mianman had many things to tell him as well, but she still felt embarrassed when she thought about their current appearances and identities.
“What’s different? You’ll forever be my Manman.” Zu An dove straight under her covers.
Pei Mianman’s face immediately went beet red. However, she embraced him without another word. The two of them had been apart for too long, and she didn’t want to go through that ever again. “Ah Zu, I’ve really missed you too.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter