Title: Catch the Wind
Day/Theme: April 14. 'you were born to be betrayed'
Character/Pairing: Gou Jian, Ya Yu
Ku Cheng dresses the king in the clothes provided for him-- soft white underclothing, thin black silk robes, stockings once again to go under proper leather shoes. Ku Cheng's eyes are wet. The grinding anxiety of the past months went far to breaking him-- day following empty day with no word or news of his king. But all that's forgotten now like a dream on waking. Now he's back where he belongs.
Gou Jian too registers a vague sense of the world put right, though nowhere near as strongly as his servant. Ku Cheng's hands tying laces and draping folds are of a piece with Ya Yu in her silk dress, gold again gleaming at her ears and in her hair. Not the jewelry of a queen, perhaps, as his clothes are not the robes of a king. But both of them were always abstemious in their dress and ornamentation; what does for a noble in Chu or even Wu is quite enough for the king and queen of Yue. It's not that which keeps him silent, mouth turning down beneath his moustache and a small crease between his eyebrows.
"So this is how Fu Chai demonstrates his sincerity?" he asks her harshly.
"Does your Majesty not think so?"
"Of course not. This is Fu Chai demonstrating his gratitude."
Her eyebrows go up. "To whom?"
She looks down. "Was it not to help us that Master Fan agreed to serve the king of Wu?"
"Yes." He turns abruptly from Ku Cheng and paces down the room- the room that's as big and more as the little cottage they dwelt in before. An obscure ill-temper scratches at his soul, like a kitten sharpening its claws on a tree. He knows it's unreasonable. A king comes to power over the bodies of his people. He's seen his soldiers, the men of his country, slaughtered in battle; he's grieved for their pain and been angered at the man who made their deaths necessary. But never has he felt this kind of irritation, and only once, at the end of the war, has he known a similar sense of personal failure. But We haven't failed at anything. Why does this cut at Us so hard?
"Fan Li would seem to have won Fu Chai's favour wholly. Good for him."
"Master Fan's abilities made that outcome an inevitability. He still works for your Majesty, and what he does is merit in him."
"And maybe Fu Chai is truly attached to him, which would be even better. Let *him* try to catch the wind and bind the waves, and see how well he manages." Gou Jian feels a feather-touch of anxiety. Fu Chai has exactly the kind of vanity and complacency that would move him to try.
But of course Fu Chai is doomed to failure. Fan Li belongs to no man. Recalling their past history, Gou Jian half-thinks that Fan Li himself regrets the willful independence of his feelings. He would be ours if he could, he consoles himself. He will never be Fu Chai's.