As Ming Long said after the sad times happy times will come. I was really happy these past few days. When I’m happy there’s bound to be someone unhappy. Consort De kept playing little tricks. Even though I don’t like her I felt pity for her. Women of the emperor are bound to live a life like that. Seeing her is like seeing how my life could’ve been. I’m just lucky that I found love with the emperor. How many women can be like me in these times?

Even commoners don’t have freedom if they’re a woman. Will there be a time where we have the same rights as man?

The empress dowager doesn’t like me. I thought its was because she thinks I’m manipulating Xuan Chen. She kept asking Xuan Chen to take more consorts. Lately she’s been demanding it as the mother of the emperor. Her excuse is that she wanted to make sure that the royal line continues. Indirectly she’s mocking me for not getting pregnant yet. Since I’ve the seal to control the inner court, I’m tempted to strip her from all her power. But it’ll make Xuan Chen sad. Beside I don’t want him to choose between me and her.

I don’t know if I want to get a child or not. A child of me and Xuan Chen will be nice but this child will be a pawn for many people. I don’t have much power yet to protect my child. I don’t know till when Xuan Chen will love me, I can’t trust him fully. How many emperors have loved only one woman? He’s bound to take more consorts in the future. Will he still love me when I become an old woman and there’s a beautiful consorts in his palace?

“An Ning, look what I brought for you?”

He handed me some buns. Yun Wen’s image appeared before me when I saw the buns. I feel guilt by not saying anything to Xuan Chen.

“Don’t you like these meat buns anymore?”

He looked so disappointed. Sometimes he’s really like a child.

“No, it’s just been so long since I’ve eaten them. I’m trying to remember what they taste like.”

He looked at me mischievously.

“It’s been so long since I’ve tasted you. Maybe I should taste you again before I forget what you taste like.”

“You, pervert. It’s only been two days.”

“Long enough.”

So our days passed happily until one day Xuan Chen came to me with a serious look. I know what he will talk about but I hope that I guessed wrong. He took me in his embrace.

“An Ning, I don’t want to lie to you.”

He took a deep breath. I waited anxiously.

“I’m going to take your father down.”

Although he didn’t say it, the underlying meaning is I’m going to kill your father.
I pushed him lightly to get away from him. I poured myself some tea.

“An Ning, say something.”

“Xuan Chen, what more can I say? I’ve been waiting for this day. I know that even if I pleaded you won’t spare him. The officials won’t let you spare him either. You do what you have to do.”

He embraced me again.

“I’m sorry,” he said against my hair.

After he left I sat there playing emotionlessly with my Pipa. Am I too cold to let my father die? I know that I can’t persuade either of them. My father wanted this for so long and since the emperor is pushing his hands he’ll attack. Xuan Chen must’ve a really good plan to push my father’s hand.

In the months since he’d become the emperor, he had achieved many things. Rumors say that he’s cold and calculating. Killing without blinking an eye. I don’t know if the rumors are true or not. He’s warm and considerate with me. What I can see is that he gained much power in such a very short time. He’s really amazing. My father really is in trouble. He’s chosen a tiger instead of a dog to be the emperor.

Ming Long came. We just looked at each other. Nobody said anything. We know that our clan is at its end. Ming Long will probably be demoted to a citizen and be send away from the capital. Only my fate is unknown. Will I still be the emperor’s wife? Or will I be stripped from my title? I didn’t want this title but now I don’t want to part with it.

“This can be that the last time we’ll see each other.”

“Big brother, thank you for always being there for me, although I caused you much trouble”

“I can’t wish for a better sister. It’s me who’s thankful.”

He stood up with his back facing me he said: “I’ll take care of everyone. Ning Er just lives your life happily. Don’t think about the past. Look forward. Don’t blame the emperor or father. They have to do what they has to do. We may never see each other again but I’ll always carry you in my heart.”

I know that he didn’t want me to see him cry. It’s painful not seeing him ever again. I don’t know if I can face Xuan Chen again after he killed my father. Do I love him enough to forget he killed my father?

“Goodbye, Big brother.”