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May. 11th, 2017

branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
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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branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
So, I was thinking about Lin Shu, and what we know about him as a kid, and then as an adult, and what this means for his character and relationship with Jingyan.

As a kid/very young man, we know he was already brilliant. Favored pupil of the land’s greatest scholar, started taking command of military units at something obscene like 13, commands whole armies by 19–so, both militarily and intellectually, Lin Shu is used to being the smartest person in the room, where the room is “this country and probably all the surrounding ones also”. According to Yujin, Lin Shu ge-ge was also impatient with his younger cousins and didn’t take time to explain things, and probably made disparaging remarks (this in contrast to Prince Qi’s patience). We see Lin Shu freely ragging on his older cousin, Jingyan. So he was extremely bright, irreverent, and a little wild.

As an adult, having lost his physical strength, all his capability gets channeled into strategy, into words, into seeing the big picture and knowing what strings to pull to position him (and his people) to win. We see that he doesn’t willingly give anything away until he’s foreclosed his enemy’s ability to do anything with the information (hi, Marquise Xie!), but also that he’s more than willing to dance on the edge (strolling over to take a cup of poison), and is, let’s be honest here, made of Drama (hello, standing in a boat playing the goddamn flute to announce your presence, and that was just for starters). I think we can safely say that he’s /still/ wild, probably has zero actual reverence for anything but his dead, and is now kind of terrifyingly brilliant. Now, though, he’s willing to do anything to achieve his goals. I think that’s probably one of the things that changed most, though he may always have had a certain streak of ruthlessness, born of being smarter than everyone around him. In those circumstances, it’s easy to start seeing other people as tools or game pieces.

Thinking about Jingyan, in comparison, we have someone who has been headstrong, probably from the /cradle/, but is not wild at all. Rather, Jingyan is thorough and careful. He’s also got that absolute, unbending sense of rightness, which he will not sacrifice for /anything/. And I think that immovability is the key to why it’s Jingyan who was Lin Shu’s best friend, the one he chose to hang out with and fight beside and, yes, tease. Jingyan was probably one of the exceptionally few people Lin Shu could never move at his whim. And when the source and root of that immovability is a firm sense of ethics… well, there’s Lin Shu’s assurance that he’ll never go too far. Jingyan wouldn’t let him. I have a personal theory that the reason Jingyan calls his cousin by a diminutive when he’s only two years younger (and does it until they’re on either side of twenty, and /still/ does it when they’re over thirty for god’s sake) is that he sees that wild, careless-of-regular-people part of Lin Shu as his childish side. The fact that he expects and wants his cousin at his side, though, also suggests that Jingyan is drawn to Lin Shu’s brilliance and respects it.

And, even when he doesn’t recognize Lin Shu any more, Jingyan /still/ won’t let him go too far, will be the one who grounds him, who provides the stability that his cousin’s brilliance sometimes misses. I think the difference is that, as an adult, Lin Shu knows exactly what’s happening–and welcomes it with awareness this time.

So, on the shipping hand, I’m thinking that Lin Shu would give way to Jingyan’s stubbornness unless it’s tipped over into pig-headedness, and Jingyan would still consider him in every way an equal, as a matter of fact. Because of course he is, don’t be ridiculous xiao-Shu.

*smirks*

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