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The meaning of protecting you with my life

Chapter Text

Yu Ziyuan watched how Wei Wuxian had been all but thrown away by Wen Zhuliu and how the man took Wang Lingjiao into her arms and flew off. She was still kneeling next to Jiang Cheng, making sure that he was alright after the Core Meting Hand had attacked him. It seemed like his spiritual energy was only a bit disturbed because of how distressed he was but his golden core was intact. She gave out a relieved sight. At least Wen Zhuliu had known to not hurt the children.

Although the signal flare did not go off, Wen Zhuliu and Wang Lingjiao escaping was the same as if it had. They have surely not come alone, there must have been more Qishan Wen soldiers nearby. She had to get Jiang Cheng to safety first, then she could start thinking about evacuation and fighting.

She grabbed her son under his hand and hauled him to his feet. He swayed dangerously, probably due to the shock of the last few minutes. She did not blame him, even with the best training, he would have never been prepared for something like this. She drew him into an embrace and stayed like that for a couple of seconds to show him that she cared. She knew she did not do that often but now was perhaps the last time she would have an opportunity.

When she felt Jiang Cheng relaxing in her embrace, she pulled him away from her and looked at him seriously, trying to remember every last detail of his face. It could be that she was seeing him also for the last time, if there indeed were more Wen soldiers around, she would have to fight, without Jiang Fengmian by her side. And she was not sure just for how long she would be able to stall to let her child escape.

She thanked all the gods that Jiang Yanli had left a few days prior with her father, at least it was one less thing to worry about.

She gave Jiang Cheng one last look and then turned her head all around, looking for that troublemaker of Wei Wuxian. It was all his fault for attracting unwanted attention to the Yunmeng Jiang sect. But what was done was done, they would only have to fight now, there was no other way out of it at this point.

She finally spotted the boy at the other end of the courtyard, laying down on the ground in the middle of remnants of a broken door. For a second, she actually felt pity for him. However, it only lasted a fleeting moment before she took hold of herself again. Wei Wuxian was not her son, he was the protector of her children, that was the only reason she was tolerating him anywhere near her family. Although she had to admit he did his job, saving Jiang Cheng before.

She jumped up, pulling her still shaken son with her, and landed just a step away from Wei Wuxian. The stuffy feeling in her chest was back but she showed it away for practical reasons, she could not start feeling emotional now; and she had held back during the whipping so the boy would still be able to protect Jiang Cheng if needed. It surely was needed now, she had to get them to a boat and send them away on their own while she would buy time for them to escape. 

She could already hear a commotion outside of the main gates, the Wens were here. She grabbed the boy who seemed barely conscious by his arm and she quickly headed towards the piers. She found a steady boat, big enough for several people, and showed both boys inside it.

Just to reassure herself, she once again checked Jiang Cheng’s pulse, it was fine, he was unharmed. She had almost stopped breathing when she saw how Wen Zhuliu had touched him but it looked like his golden core was intact. Thankfully.

“Mother, what should we do now?” asked Jiang Cheng as if the answer was not the most obvious thing in the world.

“Cannot you see,” reprimanded him Yu Ziyuan, “they came prepared, we have to fight. You have to go first.” She did not promise she would follow them because she was not sure she would be able to keep it.

“But what about Shijie and Uncle Jiang…” interrupted her Wei Wuxian.

She was angry now, could he not see that she had not been talking with him. How dare he interrupt perhaps the last conversation with her son?

“Shut up!” she yelled at him, anger swelling in her guts. “It is all your fault!”

Immediately, she felt horrible, she did not mean to say it aloud. She could see how Wei Wuxian’s expression fell and he grew quiet at once, looking all guilty and remorseful. She should not have said it, she knew herself that it was not in fact his fault, at least not entirely, he was probably only an accelerator of the events which would have come to pass sooner or later. The war which this attack was only a degustation of had been approaching for a long time already.

It was too late to apologize, the damage was done and she could hear the ruckus of a battle approaching. She turned back to Jiang Cheng and took Zidian from her finger, caressing her long-time companion with nostalgia. She put the ring on her son’s finger and looked at him with pride in her eyes.

“Mother, why are you giving me Zidian?” her son asked with confusion.

“It is yours now, it had accepted you as its master,” she explained.

Jiang Cheng’s face was blank for a moment and then he seemed to have realized the implications: “Are you not coming with us?” There were tears glistering in his eyes now.

Yu Ziyuan did not reply, she could not, it hurt too much to let her child go like this. But she had to be strong, she knew he would be safer this way. She would stall for time, hopefully long enough for the boys to get away, and perhaps even long enough for Jiang Fengmian to come back to her. She was now regretting starting the completely pointless argument with him, especially when it drove him away from Lotus Pier at such a crucial time.

She put her regret away for later, if there would even be any later and she looked at her son again. Although there was really no time to lose, she could not refrain from scoping him into her arms again and hugging him tightly. She was holding her tears back only for the sake of Jiang Cheng, she did not want him to see her cry and start despairing.

Suddenly, she saw how Wei Wuxian looked at her with envy in his eyes, did he perhaps also want to receive her affection? After all he had done? Be it not for him, they could have faced the war prepared, the Wens would not have come this early, they could have come later. Or they could have even targeted another sect altogether. They would never know now. All because of Wei Wuxian.

She let go of Jiang Cheng and turned towards the other boy who was still staring at her with a blank expression but his eyes spoke volumes. Yu Ziyuan had almost let her anger take over again but she managed to restrain herself. The boy had already been aware of his fault, she could see it in his eyes, and there was also something more urgent she needed to say before sending the boat off.

She grabbed the front of Wei Wuxian’s robes and shook his slightly to gain his full attention. “Listen up, Wei Ying,” she started, using the name she only ever deployed when she wanted him to remember her words really well, “protect Jiang Cheng! With your own life. Got it?”

The boy only continued staring at her, not replying to her urging. She wanted him to agree, she wanted him to be aware of his mission. She shook him again: “Do you understand?”

Only now did Wei Wuxian nod his head slowly while biting his lower lip and answered in an almost inaudible voice: “Yes, Madame Yu.”