A few months had passed…
Yao Ying had been fully recovered, except his memories. He started to accept his new life, but he rarely smiled, laughed, or talked. Because it was inappropriate for them to live together, they built a small room beside their house – enough for one person. Jiu Lan and Yao Ling wasn't a rich villager nor poor. Jiu Lan's medical knowledge helped their financial a lot.
A doctor was deeply respected, that's why no villagers dare to offend them. Jiu Lan and Yao Ling also rarely blended themselves to the villagers. They only appeared when someone needed medical help. When Yao Ying appeared, it created a lot of gossips in the village, but no one dared to say anything in front of them. Although they didn't believe the cousin story, they said nothing. But, the bad rumor was spreading behind them. Only the three of them oblivious about it even if they knew, they wouldn't care.
"Mother, how can I make Yao Ying happy?" Yao Ling asked her mother, sighing in sadness. Yao Ying rarely showed any emotions and it pained her.
"He only shows emotions in front of you. I think you are the only one who can make him open up. How? I'm not sure. It depends on Yao Ying himself. Anyway, having him here isn't a bad thing. He can help us doing man's job, and make you less tired."
"What are you talking about, Mother? I never feel tired of helping you. But yes… he helps a lot!" Yao Ling laughed softly. They never took advantage of Yao Ying, but he insisted to repay their kindness. When he made his mind, he was stubborn.
"Mother, let me find Yao Ying. It's time for dinner," without waiting for Jiu Lan's answer, she hopped and ran away. She found him and asked him back to eat dinner together.
After finished eating and washed the dishes, Yao Ling pulled Yao Ying out of the house. They sat together, watching stars.
"How are you feeling these days?" Yao Ling asked him bluntly.
Yao Ling used to the way he answered in a few words, so she didn't pay him any mind. She just looked up and talked softly, "I will tell you a story. One day, a lady was walking down the river. She planned to wash her clothes, suddenly…"
Before she finished her story, she saw Yao Ying's bewildered expression. She was sure that Yao Ying thought she was making up some crazy story. She laughed at him, "Just listen to me first." Then, she continued her story, "Suddenly, that woman heard a loud crying sound. There she found a baby. The baby was almost beyond rescue, but she saved her and took her as her own daughter. At that time, she was unmarried 18 years old woman and yet she raised the baby against all odd. She never gets married."
Yao Ying looked at her in surprise, "Do you mean that baby is…"
"Yes, it's me. You see… I know nothing about myself too, in a way, we are the same." She gave him a beautiful gold hairpin with bird shape. Yao Ying received the hairpin, and with one look, one would know that it wasn't just an ordinary hairpin.
"Have you ever tried to find your family?" Yao Ying asked curiously.
Yao Ling shook her head. "No. I love my mother. I would never leave her all alone. Maybe one day, I can go and find who I am. However now, I have another responsibility. My mother is my life. She sacrifices her life for me, for her I will do the same. Besides, I'm only a girl. How can I go traveling alone? Just think positively. If one day you regain your memories, you can do what you want. You can leave us if you want, but for now, just stay here and try to live your life. Depressing won't help you at all."
After saying that, both of them lost in their own thought. Yao Ling hoped he would understand what she meant. Yao Ying was smart and he understood her perfectly. Since then, Yao Ying shifted his depression mind and decided to protect both mother-daughter pairs.
However, a few months later, their happiness was shattered. Jiu Lan was sick, very sick. She admitted herself that there was no cure. She could only live until Yao Ling was 15 years old – right the day her hairpin ceremony.
Jiu Lan admitted that she was actually sick for a long time. "Yao Ling, Mother is very weak. That day when I found you, I wasn't going to wash my clothes. I tried to kill myself by jumping to the river. If I didn't hear your crying voice and found you, I probably wouldn't find this happiness. I love you, my beautiful daughter."
Yao Ling cried softly and shook her head, "No, Mother. I'm the lucky one. Without you, there will be no me. Don't leave all alone, please. Without you, what can I do?"
Jiu Lan smiled softly. "You will be okay. You are a strong girl. Mother isn't going to die now. I have to put your hairpin on in a few days. Your hairpin ceremony is important for me. My little daughter has grown up."
After their talk, Yao Ling went out and ran out of her house. She hid behind a tree and cried. That's where Yao Ying found her. He hugged her and let her cry until she was asleep. He couldn't bear to see their pain, without knowing a few drops of tears flew down from his eyes. An emotion that he never knew - Pain.
A few days passed in a blink of time, it was her hairpin ceremony day. For a commoner, people rarely did it. However, Jiu Lan knew her daughter wasn't from a simple background, Her hairpin was enough evidence and it would be her job as a mother to put it on her.
There was no grand ceremony, only the three of them. Slowly… slowly… Jiu Lan combed Yao Ling's hair. She looked at the silky black hair and smiled softly. "Look how beautiful your hair! Your future husband would certainly happy touching it," she teased.
There was no mirror in their house, so Yao Ling couldn't see her mother's expression. Jiu Lan was crying without a sound. She felt sad… she couldn't watch her daughter grow anymore. She tried all her might for this day – she had no energy left.
"Ling-er, Mother has last wishes. Without mother, you are all alone. I can only leave in peace if you get married to Yao Ying. He can protect you and you can find your own real family with him." Jiu Lan's tears were flowing down like a river, she couldn't even contain her sob anymore.
Yao Ling wanted to turn around and hugged her mother, but she was held by Jiu Lan – preventing her from looking at her. "Don't… let me finish what I want to say first."
Yao Ling could only nod. "After Mother dies, just burn my body and throw my ashes to the ocean. I know you are filial, but I don't want you to hold yourself back and stay near my grave. Wherever both of you go, I can watch you and Yao Ying from the ocean. After that, please get married. No need to mourn for me."
"No, but! If you don't fulfill my last wishes, that's called unfilial. Do you promise me?"
Slightly choked with her tears, Yao Ling stuttered, "I… I … promise."
"After the ceremony, Mother will also talk to Yao Ying." Yao Ying was kicked out because they wanted to share mother-daughter time. Besides, most hairpin ceremony participators were women.
After combing, Jiu Lan gathered Yao Ling's hair and tied them into a knot. Jiu Lan gasped in pain, her body was trembling. She tried to bear the pain, sweating a lot because of it. 'Please… please… my body… please bear with me. I only have to do one thing for he daughter, just one thing…' Jiu Lan chanted to herself.
Just let me put on the hairpin. Please…