"Yuxi is very distant...As if she was afraid of voicing her true opinion. I've never seen such a quiet and hesitant child. It feels like her heart has been greatly wounded or abused...she doesn't act the way a child should." Chunan finally spoke out.
She had seen Yuxi want to speak several times, but there was always fear in her eyes and she always settled to not voicing her thoughts. There was also times where Chunan saw a sorrowful expression on her face. She didn't act the way a child should.
Instead of laughing or smiling without a care in the world, Yuxi kept her emotions to herself. She rarely smiled over the tiny uplifts of her corners. She had never once seen a grin on the girl's lips. It was a worrisome idea.
After a long silence, the Commander finally agreed. "Yes, I see that hesitation as well. I don't know where it comes from. From my spies, Zhao Yulong and my daughter have greatly spoiled her, there wasn't an ounce of abuse in the house."
"Perhaps its the loss of her parents." Chunan stated, but immediately regretted the words as soon as it came out.
The Commander's eyes darkened, but he didn't comment on her offense.
"This room feels stuffy doesn't it?" The Commander said after noticing her sudden nervousness.
Chunan hummed in reply. Indeed, the room was a bit hot due to the heat outside, but the open windows in the room allowed a gentle breeze to enter.
"Come and stand by the window. It's a lot cooler."
Chunan wanted to deny the request, but she felt an underlying message in his words. She had seen him turn his backs to her multiple signs, as if he was watching something.
Elegantly, she got out of her seats and with her hands tucked in front of her, she walked towards the Commander. Her lips slightly parted at the sight she saw.
Weihao and Yuxi were still peacefully resting beneath the willow tree, the same tree where the Commander's late wife was buried.
No one was allowed entry near the tree, because it was a sacred ground. Yet, the Commander allowed Weihao and Yuxi to rest on it, as if it wasn't the important resting spot of his wife.
"They're very close..." Chunan hesitatingly commented, unsure if her words were right or wrong.
She takes a small glance at the Commander whose face softened the slightest bit. The ice was being frozen, and she knew Chen Yuxi had a big part in the thawing process.
Chunan saw the importance of the girl and the way she'd immediately brighten the Commander's face. Unlike any of his granddaughters, she was poise and quiet. She was respectful and despite being spoiled by her parents, she never forced things to go her way.
"Indeed, they are. Weihao has become very attached to Yuxi, as if he was her real brother instead of an older cousin."
Chunan could feel her lips tilt down the slightest bit. Though the Commander's words were very adoring, his tone wasn't. Was there something wrong?
"Weihao is fulfilling his duties extremely well, but he cannot stay by Yuxi's side for long. He belongs on the battlefield."
Chunan knew the Commander was reaching a conclusion very soon. It was why he was being so kind and patient with her. Not that he never was, but to ask about Rufen's well being and even graciously offering Chunan a deal, she knew it didn't come without a price.
"He's bound to go far in life. He will command armies, take over the Chen family politics, fiance, and business. In the future, he will shoulder many responsibilities."
A dwelling guilt formed in the deepest pit of the Commander's heart. The more he stared at his grandchildren, the more conflicted he felt.
He felt guilty for separating the two who had become extremely close.
Weihao never liked any of his female cousins and Yuxi was the first to prompt his adoration. As for little Yuxi, Weihao was her only comrade and friend.
The separation would be forceful, but it was expected. Weihao knew of this, but that didn't stop him from acting like an older brother to Yuxi who was still oblivious to this issue.
"Yuxi is still a child. For being the first born child of Zhao Yulong, she received unconditional love from her parents. Yulong was a wise, but greedy father."
Chunan raised a brow at the Commander's word. Zhao Yulong was greedy?
"Ever since her birth, Yuxi has never stepped outside the walls of her birth home. Yulong kept her away from the scums of society and always ensured her innocence was never tainted with the unhealthy politics of the Zhao household."
Everyone knew how doting Zhao Yulong and Chen Xiyue was of their only child. Instead of being enraged his first born was a girl, Yulong showered his daughter with gifts, love, and even his entire inheritance. There was nothing he wouldn't give little Yuxi.
No one knew this, but Chen Xiyue cannot conceive another child. The woman had nearly lost her life when birthing Yuxi.
Shall she give birth again, her life might be the cost of it. Zhao Yulong was not the type to force his wife to give him a heir. He loved the woman too much to give her up.
He was happy with just Yuxi. It was a bonus she was the exact replica of his lovely wife.
"Chunan, we've known each other ever since we were children. There is no one in this world that I trust more than you." The Commander turned towards Chunan who had a soft, fond look on her face.
Chunan was a stern woman, but had an extremely soft spot for children. Especially ones she had seen grow up. She had taken care of Weihao ever since he was a baby.
"In this greedy and backstabbing society, Yuxi would need a comrade. She will need a friend that remains by her side for a very long time. Weihao may temporarily fulfill this role, but his spot cannot last forever."
Chen Weihao was smart beyond his age. Effortlessly mastering sword fighting, horseback riding, and military strategist planning at the mere age of twelve, he was one of the most promising boy of his time.
In this world, there were only two little boys whose accomplishment could match his. Han Suying was his greatest rival, whereas the other boy was well beyond both of their leagues.
Weihao belonged on the battlefield, not by the side of his little cousin.
"Yang Rufen is a very promising girl. You and I both understand she doesn't deserve to forever rot away in the low ranks of a maidservant."
Chunan felt her heart prickle at the sudden memory of Rufen's pain stricken face. She saw the tears and bloods of Rufen's hard work all go to waste because of a simple decree.
"I want Rufen to serve Yuxi and by doing so, she will also heavily benefit."
Chunan felt herself get dizzy at the Commander's amazing opportunity. She was wise enough to know what Commander Moyao was implying.
Weihao was the next in line to inheriting the Chen fortune and title as Head. With his father resting in a grave, his mother wantoned, and the Commander's reluctance of handing his position to any of his sons, Weihao had the highest chance of becoming the Heir.
"Though she is young, Yuxi already has a firm grip on Weihao's heart. He will always go to her whenever he has free time." The Commander spoke, a soft smile on his face.
"Chunan, you're a smart woman. I'm sure you know what I'm implying?"
"Of course, Master Chen." She softly uttered.
Shall Rufen remain by Yuxi's side as a loyal friend, instead of servant, she would have the greatest opportunity of becoming friends with Weihao. A friend of Yuxi was a friend of Weihao.
And if Rufen was able to gain Weihao's adoration and infatuation, she would have the highest opportunity of becoming the Chen Heir's wife.
"I appreciate this offer, but I will have to ask Rufen's opinion on this matter." Chunan was never the type to decide the fate of her grandchildren. She didn't want to force her only granddaughter into a life she didn't want.
"Very well, go on and ask her. I expect a response within three days." The Commander said. He didn't turn to her, instead, he kept his eyes on the window.
Chunan takes one last glance at Sleeping Beauty and her Knight, before bowing and leaving the room.
- - - -
Within three days, the Commander had gotten his response. It came to him in the form of a light green paper in the shape of a leaf:
"Master Chen, Yang Rufen has accepted your request...She expresses the highest form of gratitude."
- Yours truly,