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branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
[personal profile] branchandroot
So, drama-canon gives us one tiny snipped of Jingyan’s wife that is frankly fascinating: when she confronts her nurse about the woman’s double-agenting for Xia Jiang. And it’s only a tiny clip, but think about what it means–the conspiracy on Jingyan’s side (most likely his mother) judged that this girl, who was only just betrothed to Jingyan, was a) loyal enough to him and b) smart and steel-spined enough to confront a spy in her own household and ensure the woman’s capture.

Which led me to playing with her POV, naming her An, and deciding she must be, essentially, Lady Jing’s understudy. Which leads to today’s writing snippet:

She had not expected to be particularly noticed, that day at the monastery; he’d been seeing to his men, speaking to the priests, had spared no more than a glance to be sure she was not injured. Everyone knew Prince Jing was a man of action, so she hadn’t been surprised. But even here, in the outer rooms of the Eastern Palace, somewhere that should be a place of repose and even triumph for him… he was so stern. His eyes saw her when he looked at her, yes, but he only looked for a moment before turning distant again–courteous, but so distant. Intimidated, she spoke only formal words of pleasure, and he spoke brief, formal words of welcome, and then he was gone, striding out the doors like someone shrugging off a cloak, and An bit her lip.

Lady Jing’s arm settled warm around her shoulders, and when An looked up, the Lady wore a small, rueful smile, so she dared to ask, “Mother-in-law, is my husband-to-be displeased?”

“Not displeased, child. Simply… distracted.”

Men of the military families were taught to track the movements of armies, but women who were meant for the court were taught to track other things: the flicker of an eye, the passing word, the shift of weight that could say where thoughts marched. Liu An had learned her lessons well; she heard the delicate emphasis Lady Jing placed on her words, and her heart sank. She looked down at her clasped hands and murmured, “Is there another?”

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