A girl in a pretty pink dress stood ontop of the stairs with her hand tightly grasping onto the handrail, she was staring at the people below her with a blank expression as if she had lost her soul. The people below her stare up at her worriedly, most with concern, but the three she stared at was focused on each other more than her. A boy stood beside her "father" and mother staring down at his feet, his clothes were dirty and smeared with different stains, the complete opposite of her clean pale pink summer dress with little white flowers decorating the bottom of her dress. Her skin and feet were unstained and soft looking like she had never touched or stepped on a speck of dirt her entire life.
Her large and doe-like eyes gave her exquisite doll-like features a bonus that made her the picture of a lovely princess that had never seen the outside world. With a sharp chin and cute but haughty nose, the young Hua Fan would obviously become a beauty when she grew into her features in the future. And she knew this very well herself. Standing on the top of the staircase with that blank and pale expression, the maids who tended to her wanted to go to her in their worry but look at the master of the house hesitantly. Hua Fan finally came to and her lip quirks up into a humorless smile, her eyes were cold and chilly, she didn't resemble a child at all with such a nerve-wracking expression.
"Fan Fan, this child is called Huang Gou Heng. He is the son of an old friend of mine and your mother." This time she glances at her mother who seemed to flinch but her harmonious expression never left as she tenderly wipes the boy's face herself. Hua Fan felt like laughing even deeper down and her gaze on the duo became colder the more she spoke. Feng Ming didn't seem to notice her change in attitude and continued speaking in a happy and doting tone looking at Gou Heng lovingly like he was his real son. "-due to some family complications he lost his parents in an accident. So daddy offered to take him in, from today on, he will be living with us. Be nice to him alright?"
She looks them up and down and chuckles, truly, these two did not fit in with the dirty rag-clothed boy at all, just like before. It was exactly the same as back then. She remembered that back then, her before truly experienced shock seeing her parents bring in a random child out of nowhere. Her father kneels down to talk to the boy and spoke gently explaining his situation to him while the boy only stares at his feet in total silence. This caused her back then to throw a tantrum like the spoiled brat she was and she had screamed at the three that she despised them.
Her mother had an embarrassed expression seemingly disappointed in her lack of tact, and her father was beyond angry with her actions banishing her to her room on spot. This had stunned the young Hua Fan who had burst into tears and ran to her room while shouting she hated them once more feeling very aggravated. She remembers how she had cried and cried expecting her mother to come and comfort her like always, or one of her maids to come in to say some placating words. And yet, no one came. No one dared to, not while her father was still furious with her. It crushed her heart to see just how alone she truly was, and she didn't even realize it.
Yun Yi hesitantly calls out to her daughter, she was worried Hua Fan would throw a tantrum seeing as she looked to be stuck in place from the shock. "Fan?" Hua Fan sent her mother a chilling look and swept her gaze at the three of them once more before she turns around in her pale pink dress and walks away in silence. The couple, especially the maids, were all stunned by her actions. They had thought Hua Fan would throw a fit but she had only calmly walked away as if it had nothing to do with her. Their wide-eyed stares all follow the young girl till she was out of sight and no longer within the vision of their gazes.
Feng Ming and Yun Yi did not expect her to act like this, at most she would have thrown a fit, but she didn't. To the oldest maid Aunt Li, an older woman who was rather chubby and had a warm and loving personality, it was a warning sign. The young miss must be heartbroken..... Aunt Li shook her head and scolds the master in her heart for being shameless and bringing a mistress's son to the house. Feng Ming frowns, Yun Yi was quick to mediate, "I'm sure Hua Fan is just very busy with her school work. Don't be upset with her, there is plenty of time for her to get used to Gou Heng in the future." Aunt Li and a few others witnessing this scene all did their best to not go slack-jawed from the madam's words. This... The madam isn't going to placate the young miss?! Their hearts feel wronged for the young miss who had no one to comfort her from this earth-shattering news.
Aunt Li felt her nose sour feeling wronged for Hua Fan, she had watched the girl grow up into a little lady, she knew more than anyone just what the girl was like. And now she was forced to endure such strange and shocking news. The old woman turns away to wipe her nose subtly, the couple walk Gou Heng around and show him his new "home". The maids and butlers all watch warily from the corner of their eyes, the displeasure for the pair's actions grows and grows. Their hearts obviously leaned towards the young miss they had served for so long and seeing the master of the house wronging her like this. Although they couldn't say it, they really wanted to protest on her behalf!
The boy himself stayed silent and only answered when forced to, he kept his head down, looking and feeling out of place. Feng Ming gestures for a butler to step forward, "Take Heng to his room and give him a new pair of clothes." The butler hid his misgivings and avoids looking at the boy directly, less he feels like he betrayed the miss of the house. "Yes, Mr.Zhou." Feng Ming nods approvingly not noticing the worsening looks he was being given by his employees behind his back. He looks down at Gou Heng laying a gentle hand ontop of the boy's head, "Don't mind my daughter too much, it seems I have spoiled her for far too long. If she does something to you don't be afraid to tell me."
Yun Yi felt a pang in her chest, her daughter was slander in front of her but she couldn't speak up for her as much as she wanted to. To her husband, the life of her and her daughter could never measure up to the boy's worth. Or to be more accurate, to the boy's mother's worth. So what could she do but endure with a loving smile towards Gou Heng, who didn't react to her husband's good intentions and care? Instead of speaking up for Hua Fan like she should of, Yun Yi gently guides Gou Heng up the stairs. "Come, aunt will walk you to your new room." Aunt Li tries not to massage her forehead and wave her fist at Yun Yi and Feng Ming. She had long known that Feng Ming did not treat his daughter like a human being but to think Yun Yi would do the same! Truly heartless!!!
Feng Ming was pleased with his wife's gentle demeanor and caring actions, he approved of the way she treated Gou Heng. An hour later, a fresh-faced boy walks down the stairs and into the dining room. His hair had been cut and no longer covered his face, instead, the new cut shows off a handsome-looking young boy's face. He was surprisingly good looking under all the grime and dirt, he was scrubbed clean until not a single part of him was dirty and his skin was red and gave off a refreshing look. His dark brown eyes were still a bit off, but his chin was strong and sharp, although he was very skinny due to a bit of malnutrition. Feng Ming knew the boy would grow up good-looking and handsome. He would have a strong presence, this satisfies Feng Ming greatly who felt pride as if Gou Heng was truly his blood.
"Heng look very noble in those clothes! They seem to be made for you!" Aunt Lit mocked deep down, were they not specifically tailored for the boy in the first place? Who was he trying to fool? Gou Heng lowers his head even more, seemingly embarrassed. This made Feng Ming feel even more pride and fondness for the innocent child who seems so humble in his eyes. Little did he know, in actuality, Gou Heng was feeling ashamed. He knew very well what the gazes of the people around him meant, they were mocking him and staring at him with distaste. The only one who seemed genuinely happy to have him in this large house was the one called Feng Ming, even his wife, Gou Heng could tell, was somewhat reluctant to take him in no matter how kind-hearted she was.
And the maids and butlers indeed felt he was not fit to be here in those clothes. He was unworthy of being an adopted son of the Zhou clan, not to mention an actual Zhou member! In their eyes, he did not fit in. But, he had the master's favor, so they could only gossip and speculate in private without prying eyes. Feng Ming stood up after having Gou Heng seated, "Yun Yi stay here with Heng, Ill go get Hua Fan to join us for dinner." Being reminded of her rude behavior earlier Feng Ming frowns as he stood up. The maids and butlers all share a look, and Aunt Li worriedly tries to persuade him otherwise hurriedly. "Mr.Zhou maybe it's best not to-" But her words are cut off with a sharp look from Feng Ming who warned her not to stop him. Aunt Li panics seeing as Feng Ming was serious about trying to get Hua Fan to join them for dinner and looks to the madam for help, to which Yun Yi stiffens and hesitates on giving herself. Her eyes shifting from her husband to the stairs beyond the door.
A knocking on her door makes Hua Fan purse her lips, an annoyed expression crossed her face that she doesn't bother to hide. So, even if she says nothing, he still tries to provoke her? Brushing off the none existent dust on her clothes Hua Fan stood and opens the door not hiding her impatience. "What is it? I'm busy studying for my test in the morning unless you have forgotten your daughter after you brought in a charity case." The words were cold, unapologetic, and spoken without respect at all. It was completely unlike the sweet and spoiled voice she usually spoke to him with while staring up at him with adoring and star-filled eyes. His smile froze on his face, registering her words it fell as his expression shows confusion and not a small amount of anger.
Before he could recover from his shock and scold her, Hua Fan spoke her mind even more with a nasty sneer. His hypocrisy disgusted her!! "Perhaps "father" wanted me to welcome the charity case with open arms as if he was truly part of the Zhou family? Treat him like a brother?" Feng Ming's face grew red and he glares at his daughter darkly, making Hua Fan provoke him more to satisfy the anger still boiling in her heart. She even smirks at him daringly, "Tell me the truth "daddy", is he REALLY, just some RANDOM boy you picked up? Or is he really my "brother"." Speaking with malicious intent, Hua Fan was fully prepared to suffer a hit from him this time. And indeed the man finally had enough and raised his hand high above her delicate frame.
Her eyes grow colder if possible as the hand swung down striking her cheek, unable to withstand the hit Hua Fan fell to the floor with her handheld to her cheek stumbling over her feet. Being a young girl there was obviously no way Hua Fan could have stayed standing from such a powerful hit across her face. The sharp stinging pain and watering of her left eye was clear proof of the reality she was in, it confirmed everything, it also fueled more hatred in her heart for the man before her. She sends him a look full of animosity shocking him into taking a step back. Aunt Li and Yun Yi stumble over their steps and rush up the rest of the stairs hearing a loud smack that echoes through the hall clearly.
They had followed him halfway up the stairs, and as soon as Aunt Li heard the smack her face went pale, she held her chest in shock before she rushed up the rest of the stairs with an equally pale-faced Yun Yi. "Young Miss!!" Aunt Li cried out heartbroken and horrified to see the girl cradling her cheek on the ground, the master standing above her menacingly. She rushes forward and cradles Hua Fan in her arms sobbing as if she was the one hit, her heart bleeding for the girl as she begs Feng Ming to have mercy. Hua Fan's hate-filled glare was buried into the woman's chest making the freezing atmosphere from her glower slightly go back to normal. Feng Ming swallows harshly, while Aunt Li protects the girl in her arms pleading with him to calm down. "Master please calm yourself!! The miss is still young please calm yourself!!" Yun Yi seeing her daughter had been hit felt sick to her stomach and exclaims with horror like Aunt Li did rushing to step in-between Feng Ming and her. "Fan!!!"
Feng Ming stares at his hand and looks between his hand and the fallen Hua Fan whose cheek was quickly turning a bright red, the corner of her lip dribbling a bit of blood which made Aunt Li sob with more distress and Yun Yi growing more horrified. She.....didn't try to block herself? She didn't even try to move? He was still shocked he had actually managed to hit her when Yun Yi choking on tears pushes him from the girl's room. "Feng Ming you went too far!! No matter how stubborn she is, she is still your daughter!! How could you hit her?!" As she cries the commotion finally gathers a crowd. The maids, seeing the already swollen cheek of Hua Fan, had a clear understanding of what happened. They all cry out simultaneously and rush to Hua Fan's side, crying for Hua Fan who had been wronged twice in a single day.
Hua Fan's cheek was handled gently by Aunt Li who could not stop her crying, feeling distressed for her sake. Hua Fan's left cheek had a tear streak falling from her eye. He had actually hit her so hard the tears fell without her permission. Daughter? What daughter indeed. Hua Fan smiles sarcastically as the maids fuss over her and Yun Yi drags the stunned Feng Ming from her bedroom. Seeing the blood on Hua Fan's lip made her lose her mind momentarily and she loses her composure completely. She pounds his chest with her fist while sobbing, "Why hit her?! If she doesn't want to eat don't force her to ear! She is also your daughter! How could you be so heartless!?"
Hua Fan let Aunt Li care for her, the old woman felt as if her heart was being squeezed seeing how quiet and despondent Hua Fan was even after being hit so hard she held back more cries. "The young miss is being wronged, the master went too far! To think he would actually hit a young girl!" Aunt Li held Hua Fan in her arms to try and comfort her thinking Hua Fan was in shock and forcing herself to be strong. Hua Fan leans her head against Aunt Li's chest missing her warmth and care, back then, Hua Fan had brushed off the older woman's kind intentions. She thought that Aunt Li was mocking her since Aunt Li was the only one who still considered her above Gou Heng.
Only after experiencing the false niceties and cold treatment from others without Aunt Li's protection did she realize how stupid and foolish she was. Her voice softens as she tries to reassure the older woman who was wiping the blood on her lips away, "Aunt Li don't worry, this is nothing. It went away after a few days." She tries to smile even when her lip twitches due to the sharp ripping sensation she felt inside her mouth, she spit out another small amount of blood onto the towel given to her. Aunt Li wasn't reassured, instead, she felt more distressed and hugs Hua Fan tighter holding in tears.
"Young miss is being wronged...." She doesn't say anything more, Hua Fan touches her cheek lightly before Aunt Li places an ice pack on it after applying the medicine. It was only after Hua Fan reassured her many times she was alright before Aunt Li and the others were willing to leave her alone. Hua Fan sat at her desk with the icepack to her swollen cheek and stares at the moon rising outside her window silently. She thinks back to her life before, her eyes glow dim as she reminisces, "The beginning...they really sent me back to the beginning." Touching her cheek and feeling the dull ache, she confirms her reality again, the girl laughs bitterly to herself. "It really is real....." An hour passed, then two, then three, Hua Fan sat unmoving from her desk waiting. And as she remembers, at midnight, a knock sounds at her door. Her chest grew tight, she didn't move from her seat.
For a few minutes, the girl didn't make a move to open the door. Her doe eyes show the complicated emotions she was experiencing, anticipation, hesitation, frustration. Should she get up? The knock came again making her tense, the person must have known she didn't open the door. She lowers her head, her breathing slowed, her long hair falls from behind her ears to cover her face. The person outside hesitates to leave, they look at the obvious light coming from the room and raise their heads. Should he knock again? But hearing no sign of the person inside getting up, he silently left without doing so again.
Hua Fan only waited till she heard footsteps walking away from her door before standing up. Her hand reaches for the knob, the pale hand flinches back as if she were hesitating. Then slowly, the girl pulls the door open only a crack to peek outside. She looks around the empty hallway, then, her eyes unhurriedly trail downwards. A strange light flickers in her gaze, spotting the tray placed in front of her door. A simple sandwich and juice sat sadly dejected on the silver tray below her. Her lips purse, "Stupid boy." She mutters, slamming her door closed again Hua Fan turns off her lights and buries her head into her pillows without another peep.