131 Past Memories Part 1
In her sleep, Yu Mei saw all the memories of the real Consort Pan.
The day he came to see her; wanting to break off the marriage. "Lady Pan, there is someone I already love. Marrying me will only bring you much despair." Pei Nan had told the woman in front of him.
But she only smiled at him. "Being married to you is my greatest wish. In the future, even if you marry your first love, I will not object."
The woman was Pan Yu Mei. The real Pan Yu Mei with her innocent smile. "I knew from the first time I saw you, I wanted to marry you. Is that selfish of me?" She asked, afraid to anger him.
"Love is not selfish. If you are truly not afraid you will regret today's decision, I have no complaints about marrying you. But know that I can only promise you a lifetime of wealth and peace."
Then the night of their wedding came. Pan Yu Mei waited in her nuptial chamber all night but he never came. Even when the sun had risen, she still sat in the same spot waiting for him.
She knew he would.
Pei Nan sat next to her on the bed and lifted the veil.
He sighed. A heavy sigh almost as if he was apologetic towards her and slightly annoyed.
"Did the maids not send you message that I could not make it last night?" He asked, displeased with his maids. Yu Mei only smiled at him. "Do not blame Chu'mei. I was the one who wanted to wait for you. I knew you would come." She reached out to touch his face but he unknowingly dodged; leaving her hand to catch air. But even so, she did not get angry.
"I'm sorry. I just don't like physical contact." He apologized.
She nodded understanding him.
When he saw how understanding she was, he felt bad and could not hide what he had done last night. "I didn't mean to miss our first night. It's Fei Ning. She attempted suicide."
Again, Yu Mei understood him. She even sympathized with the woman. After all, which woman was sane enough to want to share one man? In a sense, Yu Mei felt bad because she had the option to marry Pei Nan or not. And she chose to marry him because of her own selfishness. Because of this, she always felt sorry towards Fei Ning.
But it was Fei Ning who could not let it go. Not long after Pei Nan left Consort Pan's courtyard, Fei Ning made her appearance. She went up to Yu Mei and held her hand as if they were the closest of friends. "Consort Pan, I hope you are not mad at his highness. I only had a small cough but he insisted on staying the night."
Yu Mei sweetly smiled back at the woman. "You are his highness's beloved. I am not mad at him. I believe he had his reasons to stay."
Then the real Consort Pan's memories fast forwarded to a week after their marriage. Pei Nan started coming over to her courtyard for dinner every night. They would speak properly to one another. Not like husband and wife but more of master and servant. She was afraid to talk comfortably to him.
She would ask him about his day and he would tell her about his day in court. She was always interested in his stories, even if they were almost exactly like the day before.
It was only after the fifth night since he had been coming around did he bring Fei Ning with him. Yu Mei didn't mind that Fei Ning was there at lunch. Not until she spoke those words, "Consort Pan, I hope you don't mind me having dinner here. I miss his highness having dinner with me. It took so much convincing to get him to eat here. I truly regret it." She innocently said to Pan Yu Mei.
Pei Nan spoke up. "Ning'er, mind your words." He reprimanded her.
He didn't even deny Fei Ning's words. And that was the moment that set Pan Yu Mei off.
Her days became a constant struggle. She could only think of knowing and seeing everything that went on between his highness and Fei Ning. She realized the two of them were always together. And he even let Fei Ning hold onto his arm. When she thought back to the day he told her he did not like physical contact, her blood began to boil.
And so the days he came over for dinner, she began to speak less and less. Up to the point where she did not want to see him.
Pei Nan had found it strange that she was slowly starting to push him away. And so he decided to take her to see the blooming blossoms on the east side of the city. Pan Yu Mei came over to Fei Ning's garden and flaunted. But Fei Ning only scoffed. You have only now seen them? She laughed.
When in reality, the woman had never been there.
Out of anger, Pan Yu Mei slapped Fei Ning. She never thought that the woman would accentuate the impact, falling down the marble stairs of the hall.
As if she had planned it, his highness saw.
Pan Yu Mei tried to explain to him but he would not believe her. And it only went downhill from then on.
Then the memories flashed forward to the day of Consort Pan's birthday. She had sent his highness many subtle hints the days before.
When she had thought he forgot, he sent her a gift early that evening. A pair of jade bracelets. The same ones that were in Ju Ming's possession. She had been so excited, she ran to thank Pei Nan. But what she saw only left her disappointed once again. He was spending time with Fei Ning and her father.
She never would have guessed that Pei Nan only entertained Fei Ning's father because it involved state affairs. Something Pei Nan needed to know. And Fei Ning's father's only condition to release the information to him was if they had lunch together.
The timing…was planned by Fei Ning.
Not being able to take it no more, Pan Yu Mei went to the imperial doctor's place and requested for arsenic. This was quickly reported to Pei Nan.
Fast forward to the time and place where Ju Ming had the first dream. But this time, with full context.
Chu'mei was knocking and shouting for her lady when the door wouldn't open. Inside was Pan Yu Mei sitting at her table, staring at the small bottle on the table.
"I won't take this insult anymore. I hate you Prince Nan!" Her hand shook unsteadily as she slowly reached for the bottle.
Right when her finger tips touched the bottle, Pei Nan kicked the door open. He grabbed the bottle from her and began to scold her. "Consort Pan! What is the meaning of this?"
"Leave me alone. I don't want to live like this anymore. I would rather die than to see you treat me like this." She managed to spit out before a tear escaped.
"Treat you like what? Are you mad that I didn't celebrate your birthday with you?"
Her silence was as good as a yes.
"Consort Pan. Of all people, I thought you would be the one to understand that my work comes before anything. That includes my household. I do things not because I like it but because I have a responsibility to the whole nation. I promise I did not miss your birthday on purpose. I can swear my crown prince title on it." He began to explain himself but she would not believe. Not after seeing him so engaged in his conversation earlier.
"I don't believe your highness."
"Even if you do not believe me, why must you do this to yourself? Do you know that your death will affect so many people? Your country, your parents, everyone else that loves you and me. How can you be so selfish and end your life because of one misunderstanding?"
She once again shook her head. "No. I have not misunderstood anything. It is your highness that has forced me to this route."
"What can I say to make you believe me?"
There was nothing he could do to change her mind.
And the two of them were at the standoff that Ju Ming recalled in her dreams.
Then he tossed the bottle at her.
"You are the cruelest woman I have ever met. Whether you take the arsenic in that bottle or not, I do not care." Then he turned to leave.
Consort Pan was left there to cry by herself. He was right, she was selfish. If she died, what would happen to everyone she loved.