Romantic and fantastical things could often be used to please girls.
When Jun Zishu pondered Ning Qinghuan's present, she thought about the fireflies that only appeared in summer.
Thus, Jun Zishu instructed her maid to hire someone to catch fireflies and store them in the bamboo container she had prepared. She had also left holes on the container's lid, so there was no worry that the bugs would suffocate.
Jun Zishu had taken out a portion of her savings to pay two men for the task. For commoners, the payment of a few silver taels was a huge sum. So, the hired men worked diligently for a few days and delivered a large number of fireflies to Jun Zishu's maid this morning. Then, the maid handed the container to Jun Zishu, thus leading to the current surprise.
"Happy birthday, Big Sister," Jun Zishu softly said, a feeling of trepidation appearing in her heart when she saw Ning Qinghuan's stunned expression. Jun Zishu couldn't help but wonder if Ning Qinghuan disliked her present or if someone had previously used this move already. "...Do you find my present a little too sloppy and common, Big Sister? If you don't like it, I'll make up for it with another present…"
Looking past the fireflies, Ning Qinghuan stared at the worried expression on the girl before her and listened to the girl's timid voice. As far back as Ning Qinghuan could recall, her little cousin had always behaved this way, only ever worrying about her likes and dislikes.
A hug hindered Jun Zishu from speaking anymore. Even so, Jun Zishu smiled as she knew that her present had achieved its intended effect.
"Wan'er, Wan'er, Wan'er…"
Ning Qinghuan repeatedly called out to Jun Zishu, her fondness for her cousin increasing with each call.
"I'm here, Big Sister."
Ning Qinghuan couldn't help but wonder what she had done to earn herself such an obedient and sensible little sister. Right now, there was not one part of Jun Zishu's body that was not to her liking.
Ning Qinghuan took a step back and looked into Jun Zishu's eyes.
This was the first time Ning Qinghuan had called Jun Zishu by her full name. Thus, Jun Zishu firmed up and nodded.
"You won't betray me, right?"
"I won't ever betray you."
"Good. So long as I still stand, I will always protect you."
Jun Zishu nodded, a faint smile appearing on her face. However, she did not show any hints of surprise on her face.
"Do you not believe me?"
When Ning Qinghuan failed to see any changes to Jun Zishu's expression, she thought Jun Zishu doubted her words and thought she was joking.
"Of course I believe you, Big Sister. But I had never been nice towards you for this purpose, Big Sister. The kindness the Ning family has shown me is something I will remember forever. I also know that Big Sister has been kind to me and did not discriminate against me for my status. So, I have been striving to be nice to Big Sister to return the favor."
Jun Zishu retained her faint and tender smile as she spoke. However, as she swiped away the strands of loose hair getting in the way of her eyes, Ning Qinghuan noticed a hint of sadness briefly flashing across those eyes.
"It seems Big Sister has…misunderstood my intentions… Even so…I am very happy and grateful."
Jun Zishu put on a bright smile, her eyes growing a little watery.
"Little Wan'er, it's not… I didn't…"
Ning Qinghuan was at a loss. As someone who had grown up in a powerful noble family, she had learned to speculate on other people's behavioral intentions since young. Hence, when she first saw Jun Zishu trying to please her shortly after arriving at the Ning manor, she had habitually assumed that her little cousin was doing so to gain a better standing in the Ning manor and earn herself a better future.
However, Ning Qinghuan realized that she had blundered. She realized that her little cousin, who possessed a clear and clean mind, might not have such motives, to begin with.
"I'm sorry, Wan'er…"
"It's fine. Also, why are you apologizing to me, Big Sister? It's your birthday today, so cheer up," Jun Zishu said, taking the initiative to move closer to Ning Qinghuan and embrace her cousin. "Don't worry, Big Sister. I have always known about my status. You don't need to worry that I'll get greedy.
"Being able to meet you is the best thing I could ask for, Big Sister."
Jun Zishu let out a long sigh and rubbed her face against Ning Qinghuan's.
Ning Qinghuan froze in place, an inexplicable pain appearing in her heart. However, she knew that the pain wasn't a result of sadness but extreme joy instead. She was so happy that she couldn't even describe her current feelings with words.
Thus, Ning Qinghuan tightly intertwined her fingers with Jun Zishu's fingers in silence.
However, in a place where Ning Qinghuan couldn't see, the corners of Jun Zishu's mouth rose.
Jun Zishu wasn't satisfied with just earning Ning Qinghuan's trust and favor. As a stunning and unsullied white lotus, she needed to thoroughly erase any negative impressions Ning Qinghuan might have toward her.
Jun Zishu's goal was to become the most important person in Ning Qinghuan's life, so important that she could dictate the girl's decisions.
"You are the most special person I have ever met, Wan'er."
Ning Qinghuan rubbed her face against Jun Zishu's. Because they were near each other, Ning Qinghuan's hot breath also struck Jun Zishu's ear.
A layer of red immediately dyed Jun Zishu's ear, and she quickly wormed her way out of Ning Qinghuan's embrace with an embarrassed smile.
"Why must you blow air into my ear, Big Sister? It tickles," Jun Zishu complained while covering her reddened ear. She never knew that the current body she occupied had such sensitive ears. The ears were originally one of the most sensitive parts of the human body. However, the sensitivity of Jun Wan'er's ears seemed to be even greater.
"Don't run away. Does it tickle? Let me try again."
Ning Qinghuan pounced forward in an attempt to tease Jun Zishu's ears once more, while Jun Zishu put on a frightened look while dodging for cover. All of a sudden, the two girls had started fooling around inside the room. The fireflies flying around also added a hint of beauty to the scene.
"I caught you!"
Ning Qinghuan pushed down the panting Jun Zishu onto the bed and started tickling her waist.
"I give up, I give up! Stop tickling me, Big Sister! Ahahahaha, it tickles! Spare me, Big Sister!" Jun Zishu pleaded for mercy while twisting her body to avoid Ning Qinghuan's tickling claws.
Eventually, Ning Qinghuan stopped her actions and collapsed onto Jun Zishu's body. However, afraid that she would suffocate her little cousin, she quickly rolled away and laid beside Jun Zishu.
[Host, don't you think that your method is a little…]
[I don't know how to describe it. I've seen your life information in that previous world of yours, and you never acted this way when you were counseling people.]
Little Fairy had a limited vocabulary. Because of this, even though she could sense that something was strange with the interaction between Jun Zishu and the mission target, she couldn't tell what was wrong between the two girls.
When I counseled people in the past, I always held the upper position. I was the leader, so to speak. Everyone would obediently listen to whatever I said when I discussed conditions with them. However, the situation is different now. At the very least, I am in a disadvantaged position in this world. If I want to get my little cousin to listen to me, I will need to have a place in her heart.
My cousin is bold, straightforward, has a good memory, and knows how to appreciate kindness. So, I just need to be kind to her. It is only for my cousin that I am using such an approach. If my mission target is someone with a different personality, I naturally won't take such an approach.
[I see, I see.]
All you need to do is watch from the side and support me when necessary.
Jun Zishu disliked having other people tell her what to do. Hence, she didn't need Little Fairy to provide her with bright ideas. She only needed her system to obey her commands.
As the fireflies couldn't find a way out, they kept flying around in the room.
Ning Qinghuan and Jun Zishu quietly laid on the bed and admired the fireflies in the room. As time passed, both of them also started growing sleepy.
"Let's head back to my room and sleep after we take a bath, Wan'er."
When the two opened the doors to Jun Zishu's room, the fireflies finally found a way to freedom. In no time at all, most of the fireflies flew out of the room, leaving only two still stuck in the room.
When the numerous fireflies flew out of the room and into the night sky, they created a beautiful scene to behold.
"Since summer is already ending, these fireflies won't live for much longer, right?"
Ning Qinghuan leaned against the wooden railings outside the room and watched as the fireflies flew into the distance.
Jun Zishu nodded. The average lifespan of fireflies was five days to two weeks. Adding on to the fact that summer was already ending, the insects shouldn't have much time left to live.
"How wonderful it is to be human," Ning Qinghuan softly exclaimed.
Jun Zishu quietly looked at Ning Qinghuan, choosing not to follow up with her cousin's words.
After the fireflies vanished out of their sight, Ning Qinghuan and Jun Zishu went to bathe before heading to bed.
The fifth prince did not give up attempting to reconnect his friendship with Ning Qinghuan. However, Ning Qinghuan couldn't be bothered to entertain the fifth prince's approaches.
In Ning Qinghuan's mind, so long as the fifth prince maintained his relationship with Pei Xiuyun, she would adamantly refuse to reunite with him. Of course, Ning Qinghuan didn't openly state this condition to the fifth prince since she deemed it beneath her to do so.
Moreover, even if Ning Qinghuan successfully pressured the fifth prince to separate from Pei Xiuyun, it wouldn't mean that the fifth prince had done so out of sincerity. For all she knew, he might be smiling at her on the surface but complaining about her in his heart. This was not an outcome Ning Qinghuan wanted to see.
Not to mention, if the fifth prince separated from Pei Xiuyun because of what she said, Ning Qinghuan would end up looking down on the fifth prince instead. After all, it would mean that relationships were things that could be priced in the fifth prince's eyes.
Even if the fifth prince had done so for the sake of the bigger picture, Ning Qinghuan would still find the act to be discomforting.
While Ning Qinghuan would admire the fifth prince for his decisiveness and ruthlessness, she definitely wouldn't approve of or appreciate his actions.
The fifth prince had invited Ning Qinghuan out several times. However, after having all of his invitations rejected, he stopped his actions when he realized that he was only inviting ridicule to himself.
Meanwhile, Jun Zishu passed her days in leisure and eventually welcomed her fourteenth birthday.
Jun Zishu had received a present from everyone in the Ning family, and the gift she received from Ning Qinghuan was another jade pendant.
However, unlike the previous pendant, the one Jun Zishu received this time was a pair-accessory. The pendant came in the shape of a crescent, and there was the image of a mandarin duck engraved on it. When both parts of the pair were connected, they formed a small ring with a follow in the center.
One half of the pendant hung on Jun Zishu's body, while the other half hung on Ning Qinghuan's body.
Jun Zishu's body nowadays was no longer as weak as it was before. Rather, it was growing healthier and healthier instead.
This was all thanks to Ning Qinghuan. Despite Jun Zishu's status as a distant cousin of the Ning family, she enjoyed superior food and clothing on par with what an actual young lady from a noble house would enjoy.
After spring came summer again. When summer arrived, the lotuses in the pond stretched out their bodies once more.
Jun Zishu sat in the courtyard's pavilion while drinking cold and delicious sour plum soup to relieve the heat. Before she realized it, a year had already gone by since she arrived in this world.
She had made a lot of progress in her mission during this one year. She was also extremely satisfied with the progress she made.
As soon as Jun Zishu thought about Ning Qinghuan in her mind, she heard Ning Qinghuan's voice entering her ears.
"Give me a sip, Little Wan'er. I'm dying of thirst."
The girl dressed in red ran over like the wind and pleaded Jun Zishu.
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