A Brush With Fate: Chapter 28, A Heartbeat in the Night

The shadows cast by her billowing tails in the late day sun looked like dark tentacles of some monstrous beast creeping up from the rear. The cluster of bright butterflies playing between them appeared as dancing spots of shade in between.

Bai Qian lay on her belly in the grass with her muzzle upon her front paws.  The gentle breeze blew along her fur, making it ripple in time with the lapping of the pond waters over the rocks on shore.

She’d ended up making the bed in the cottage after all –by hand– not by magic. She gave a little snort. Zhe Yan could be soooo old fashioned in his ways.

Despite being in her fox form, the sensation of his palm on her human neck was still there.

I think you’ll be strong enough to go to the Ball, Xiao Wu. It would seem your first ascension has held steady and strengthened you, as I’d ho…” Zhe Yan’s voice trailed off as a strong pulse of his power wrapped around her heart. “What? What is it, Zhe Yan? Is something wrong? No, no, no, please! It can’t be!” Zhe Yan ignored her. With his head tilted and brow furrowed, something had caught his attention. Bai Qian felt her eyes begin to sting, ‘No don’t, Qian! You NEVER cry!’ she shouted inside her mind.

Shh, little kit, it’s alright. Don’t be scared, you’re fine. Tell me something though…” his voice trailed off once again. Zhe Yan was distracted.

Bai Qian’s nerves were about to explode. “Tell you what?!!!”

Tell me, have you hurt yourself in the last few hours?”

She blinked, completely taken off guard by the question.

Huh? No.”

Zhe Yan closed his eyes and she felt a pulse of his power course through her entire body this time.

Your head… here.” And now he opened his eyes to place his fingertip directly on her temple.

Oh! That was a scratch I got last night. Ye Hua puffed it out for me.”


Bai Qian sighed. “Why does everyone keep saying that?”

Ye Hua has this neat trick he can do with his dragon essence. He puf– exhales his essence somehow and it can heal wounds. See? Look!” Bai Qian thrust her right forearm under Zhe Yan’s nose. “Ye Hua was the one who made the last of the bruising and pain go away.”

I thought my balm had done that,” Zhe Yan murmured, speaking more to himself than to her.

Umm, I kept forgetting to apply your balm, Zhe Yan… sorry.”  Her voice was contrite.

The dragon ‘puffed’ on your temple last night, you say?”

Bai Qian nodded.

Zhe Yan? Please?”

The Phoenix’s kind smile returned.

It’s a… neat trick Prince Ye Hua has, Xiao Wu, you’re right. You’re fine, child. I’m just being thorough.” Removing his palm from her neck, Zhe Yan gave her shoulder a reassuring squeeze.

Bai Qian knew Zhe Yan had been holding something back from her during that earlier conversation. Old as he was, Zhe Yan was sometimes forgetful. He didn’t always remember how her being connected to his life magic through the Woods made her able to sense his feelings sometimes; just as he could sometimes sense hers. Something he’d sensed while checking on her had made Zhe Yan… curious?

Hmph, he said I was fine and that’s all that matters in the end. I am going to the Moonlight Ball!

The Fox turned her head to look for the umpteenth time at the patch of grass where Ye Hua always sat. Her blue fox eyes twinkled as she turned her gaze heavenwards now and she smiled inside. I miss you, silly dragon. Talk to you soon.

The butterflies scattered to the sky when she boosted herself upright with her tails. Padding her way lightly through the grass, she finally headed to the Den.


Her brother’s message lay on her pillow.

Back in her human form, Bai Qian smirked. Are you feeling guilty about something, Si Ge? Why is your message nicely laid on my pillow and not stuffed inside my shoe or dunked upside down in my wine cup?

Her fourth brother knew a unique and amusing spell —well, to him anyway– which enabled Bai Zhen to send her messages at any time and any place. ANY place. While she was growing up, his parchment or scroll messages to her consisted mostly of funny poems or cute images of butterflies. These messages would suddenly materialize in odd places such as her pockets while her hands reached in for a pit to toss, or bob up in the water during her bath, or once in the middle of her rice porridge bowl causing it to spray everywhere  –much to her delight, but earning him a strict talking to from their mother.

There was one time a message scroll had bonked her on the muzzle, having been dropped from the sky. She’d fallen asleep by the pond and Si Ge had been annoyed she’d lost track of time, once again, and made him late for something or other. That was why he’d purposely sent a scroll to drop on her rather than a paper. Bai Qian couldn’t help but rub the side of her nose in memory.

It was a parchment that waited for her now.

Fifth Sister,

I hope this message finds you laughing and super excited to be going to the Moonlight Ball with me. I’m really looking forward to taking you. We’ll show Zhe Yan how you’ll be fine!

I’m a little delayed in my travel plans. I decided to stop by our parents’ seaside retreat to visit with them for a few days. Father is recovering and in a much better state than before. He and Mother spoke of travelling once he felt well enough again. By the way, Mother reminds you that you may borrow any of her gowns EXCEPT the green one for the Ball. Have you chosen yet what you will wear?

Because of my side trip, I will only be continuing on to the Eastern Sea now. There’s rumour of a hidden nymph cove there I really want to try and see for myself.

I will be back just in time for the Ball, so don’t worry. In the interim, why not try to find the right dress to wear? EXCEPT Mother’s green one!

With love,

Si Ge


“Ye Hua.”

“Yeee Hua.”

“Ye Huaaaa.”


Bai Qian lay on her bed. She held the copper mirror Ye Hua gave her above her face, tilting it every which angle and giving it the odd shake now and then as if that would make it work.

The tassel swinging wildly at the end tickled the tip of her nose.


“Qian Qian, did you just sneeze on your mirror?”

“Ye Hua!” she snuffled with a smile. The mirror’s light now shone in her face. “I was beginning to think you’d fallen asleep sipping your evening tea or something.” She wiggled her poised little finger in the air for no one to see.

“I only got back to my chambers. The servants have finally left for the night.”

Servants?  “Oh.”

Her mirror fell silent.

“Ye Hua? Are you still there?”

She heard him sigh. “Qian Qian, are you going to continue to keep me in suspense?”

“Huh? Suspense? What suspense?”

There was a deep intake of breath.

“The portrait of a lady I made for you? You must have looked at it by now.”

It was a good thing she was alone for her cheeks flushed with heat as they had earlier in the day.

“You painted ME as the lady!!” she blurted.


Neither spoke now. Bai Qian realized she was twisting the mirror’s tassel into a tight ball between her fingers.

‘He is telling you, Xiao Wu, that to him, you are a Lady.’

“I… I really like your portrait of a lady, Ye Hua. It made me smile.”

Was that a forceful release of held breath she heard?

“Is Blue keeping watch on the window ledge this night?” Ye Hua’s voice sounded much lighter as he switched the topic.

“I’m sleeping in my own room at the Fox Den, Ye Hua. Zhe Yan kicked me out of his cottage!”

“You sound wide awake though, Qian Qian. Aren’t you sleepy?”

She didn’t respond. Truth be told she did feel tired. Zhe Yan’s examinations usually left her feeling a little drained for a short time. But even if she hadn’t been staying awake waiting to hear from Ye Hua, she doubted she could have fallen asleep easily anyway.

“Qian Qian…?”

“It’s too quiet,” she said in a hushed voice. “I guess that I…”

“You guess that you what?” Ye Hua coaxed gently.

Bai Qian sighed, staring over the edge of her mirror into the darkness of her room. “I guess that I just got used to hearing your heartbeat beside me at night,” she confessed in a whisper.

There was absolute silence from her mirror at first, then Bai Qian heard what sounded like the rustle of cloth, followed by… a heartbeat. Ye Hua’s heartbeat. She’d recognize it anywhere.

Rolling onto her side, she slipped her mirror under her ear.


Back in his chambers in the Ninth Sky, Ye Hua lay on his back, his robes pulled open to his bare chest.

His mirror now lay face down over his heart. The chilled surface of it against his skin changed to a circle of warmth when he heard the familiar breathing sounds Bai Qian made in her sleep. It was almost as if the White Fox lay curled napping on the Black Dragon’s chest once again as she had so long ago.

Bai Qian’s soft breaths drew out even more as she fell deeper into sleep.

I guess that concludes our talk for this night, Ye Hua chuckled wryly. How does she do it?!  He found himself envying Bai Qian’s ability to fall asleep so easily again.

Ye Hua stared at the ornate ceiling above him, but didn’t see it at all. No, all he saw was Bai Qian with her tails, curled up on her side with that sweet smile on her face she probably didn’t realize she had when she lay next to  him that last night.

That sweet smile… her warm, soft lips…

The mirrors weren’t going to be enough. It wasn’t just hearing her voice that Ye Hua realized he needed. He had to see her, in person, to have that taste of her sweet smile once more.

A powerful privacy barrier sprung up about the royal bedchamber of Zishen Hall. And the blanket covering Ye Hua billowed in the air for a moment before collapsing flat onto the empty bed.


The moment Ye Hua materialized near the outskirts of the Peach Woods, his dragon vision came to the fore as he took his bearings. In the dark of the night he could once again see the Woods cast in a warm, beautiful, golden light; the trees breathing, infused with High God Zhe Yan’s magic.

It only occurred to Ye Hua once he’d materialized here that he’d never actually been to the Fox Den before. He would not have otherwise known the way from the Woods had it not been for a couple of things he could rely on to guide him. Away from the peach trees, it would have been so easy as to be almost instinct for him to detect and track Bai Qian’s scent. And had this not been the case, his mirror could have shown him the way instead; the connection still being open to hers as neither had closed it earlier.

But as Fate would have it, it turned out Ye Hua needn’t use either of those choices to guide him, for instead, a true guide ended up presenting himself. Between the golden streams of the Ancient Phoenix’s magic, Ye Hua caught sight of a fluttering movement heading his way.


The little butterfly was half floating, half beating his delicate wings on the night breeze. Ye Hua waited. Blue flew right up to him and hovered just above his nose. And once again, Ye Hua felt the oddest sensation he was being judged.

How does one properly greet a butterfly? The rules of etiquette ingrained in Ye Hua since birth had him thinking this question.

But before the Prince could utter a word, Blue swooped down to Ye Hua’s waist and took hold of a few end strands of his hair. Lifting off with them now, the butterfly tugged a stunned Ye Hua forward.

Ye Hua shook his head in wonder as he found himself trailing along after his little guide.

Only here in this most beautiful and magical of places can a dragon be led by a butterfly.


The Fox Den ended up being right on the outskirts of the Woods, only a footbridge over a stream needed to be crossed to reach it.

As soon as they were out in the open, Ye Hua no longer used his night vision. The clear starlit sky above made everything easy to see. Blue was leading Ye Hua towards a set of steps carved into a rocky outcrop just ahead. Even had he been blindfolded, Ye Hua would have still found his way to this spot. Bai Qian’s sweet blossom scent perfumed the air, if not leading his senses, leading his heart.

Ye Hua came to a halt.

Blue, who’d been tugging Ye Hua all along, lost hold of his hair when he suddenly stopped walking.

Leading his heart? Ye Hua blinked.

What exactly was he doing right now? When in his life had he ever made such a spur of the moment decision as he had this night? What was he feeling in truth? What in his right mind made him leave the Ninth Sky so clandestinely? Let alone allow himself to be led through the night by a butterfly?!

The answer to all the questions was the same, of course. His heart.

Ye Hua placed his palm on his chest. The pounding beneath made his hand vibrate.

There was a renewed tugging on his hair. Blue had swooped back and reclaimed the strands he’d lost. Ye Hua resumed walking.


The cavernous opening of the Fox Clan Den stretched before him. Ye Hua drew in a deep breath. Qian Qian’s scent. With a light sweep of his magic, he could detect no other presence therein. She’d said her parents were away but had she not mentioned her brother would be back?

“Blue,” Ye Hua realized it was the very, very first time ever he’d addressed the butterfly by name, “I cannot simply walk in.” For the butterfly was trying to fly up the steps with Ye Hua’s hair. Without releasing the strands, Blue looped backwards to flit before Ye Hua’s nose. And once more, Ye Hua had the uncanny feeling there was more to Bai Qian’s little winged friend than met the eye.

Oh, don’t mind Blue… he’s just checking you out… Qian Qian’s words from the first time he’d met the butterfly years ago.

Blue’s wings created the gentlest of breezes on Ye Hua’s face. Ye Hua pulled his glowing mirror from his sleeve. “Qian Qian?”

He could hear her sleeping breaths still. Qian Qian was fast asleep.

As the Black Dragon Prince stood looking up into the opening of the Fox Den, every rule of etiquette, every code of conduct, every protocol of hospitality clamoured through his head. And it all came down to this: One did not simply invite themselves into someone’s home.

A man did not just walk into a lady’s chamber unannounced.

I’ll have you know, strange man, that life in Qing Qiu and the Peach Woods is a carefree and happy one… now it was Qian Qian’s words after she’d hugged him that first time that came to his mind.

A carefree and happy life… where rules and regulations don’t apply to every movement, every thought, every damn breath. Ye Hua thought of his old study room, his sanctuary –where teachers and tutors of old dictated his entire life. Was it so different here, where a certain white nine-tailed fox seemed to now be dictating his every movement, his every thought, and his every breath?

It absolutely was.

Ye Hua’s nostrils flared as he inhaled Bai Qian’s scent more deeply. The rumbling sound that emerged from his chest seemed to startle Blue who now flew loops before him.

Ye Hua’s foot was on the first step.

And I know just what you need. Uh huh. You need a good lick… if you were a fox, that is.

And can a dragon be more?

His foot now fell on the third step.

Do you know what I really hate, Ye Hua? I really hate when someone tells me what’s appropriate or not.

Rules of propriety, protocols of formality, tenets of appropriate conduct…

Ye Hua now stood at the top of the steps peering into the dark recess.

Silly dragon!

“I will only ever be a silly dragon for you, Qian Qian… my beautiful nine-tailed peach,” he whispered.

Blue let go of the strands of hair and flew off into the night as Ye Hua entered the Fox Den.

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November 9, 2022 05:11

@SunInTaurus, almost the year 2022 will end soon. I’m glad I can come back here and make and post comments due to some difficulties in Wattpad and kept re-entering or log in which I hated the most not like it used to be. So here I am again rereading my favorite Bai Qian and Ye Hua’s Love Story along with Blu. I can’t thank you enough for writing this humorous, funny and loveable story. Take care and God bless.

March 19, 2021 11:28

MARCH 19, 2021 “A BRUSH WITH FATE” by far one of my favorite story along with WTC, WTW, BM, ASA, AND NEWBIE A HAVEN OF PEACH BLOSSOMS, ETC. So many to counts with both Authors. Guilty pleasure of mind to re-reading them to and fro like the hour glass, as the days of our lives. Thank you both for enlightened and entertained us with your excellent and exceptional minds with much in depth and creativity. But I want you both amazing and incredible authors to take care of yourself before us readers. I will be sad if your well being wasn’t good because of our demands for great stories especially about my favorite lovebirds, Ye Hua and Bai Qian, of course. Can’t denied the book,vwhete all started FF.

Elisabeth Long
Elisabeth Long
March 19, 2021 14:59
Reply to  Edna

Thank you for your enthusiastic support, Siksika!! Marie and I look out for each other so don’t worry about us 🥰

March 20, 2021 15:08
Reply to  Elisabeth Long

Can’t helped to be concerned caused I want you both to be healthy and less stressed as much as possible. XOXO

Marie Bisset
Marie Bisset
March 20, 2021 18:04
Reply to  Edna

Thank you for checking out our website and for all your support! Your enthusiasm for the stories is always welcome and very much appreciated.