To my faithful readers, followers, and reviewers: Thank you so much for having read thus far and followed this story for so long. I could not have written such a story without your loyalty and encouragement. This chapter does signify the end of the story. Please enjoy the postscript and as always, happy reading!
Zhang Xiao looks forlornly at the flora around her in the large garden for her spot on the bridge overlooking the lake. Ever since her time travel experience to the Qing Dynasty during her accident, her view of modernity and beliefs have changed drastically. Her friends tell her she is quieter, broodier, and more mature than ever in demeanor. Zhang Xiao believes that while Ma'ertai Ruoxi lives no longer, her spirit and all that she knows of the Qing dynasty still lingers in a part of her mind.
Upon waking up in the 21st century, Zhang Xiao researched as much as she possibility could about the Qing Princes and the conclusion to their lives. She was relieved to find that at least 10th and 14th Prince were able to have some happy ending and that 8th Prince was given some mercy in death. As for 13th and 4th Prince, she wept knowing they longed for her even when she told them to forget her. She then tried to research about Ma'ertai Ruoxi but found nothing. It's as if all she encounter and experienced in that time was merely a dream. Could it be possible her romance with 4th Prince was simply a figment of her imagination? Was any of it real at all?
Shortly after leaving the hospital, Zhang Xiao visits the museum on the Qing Dynasty. There, she was able to see a painting of all the princes, including her beloved Fourth Prince. She also sees a servant in the painting who resembles Ma'ertai Ruoxi very much. Zhang Xiao will never admit it, but she cried there and then, overwhelmed by the weight of the guilt she bears for all she has done. Turns out, she really did exist after all in the course of history. When she turns around, she is surprised to see a man looking very similar to her Fourth Prince and couldn't help but cry even more at the sight. The stranger does not have any tissues to offer and leaves quickly. But he comes back minutes later, holding the entire packet out before her. He jokes that he's most afraid of seeing women cry and if there were a nearby flower shop, he would have gotten some magnolias to cheer her up. The stranger asks her to tea afterwards and since then, they have been in close contact as friends. Zhang Xiao still sees many of the stranger's similarities to her Fourth Prince but knows it is better to let it all go. After all, in this time, she's not Ma'ertai Ruoxi and he's not Fourth Prince or Yongzheng. She is Zhang Xiao and he is a just stranger. They are not in a relationship and see each other only as mere acquaintances. Whether they will move forward and become lovers is all up to destiny, all up to time. She knows this time around, no matter what happens they will not miss the opportunity or chance they are given to have the romance they wanted.
The fauna around her smells wonderful, a majestic blend of the many flowers she once used and mixed for tea and baths during her time in the Qing Dynasty. In Beijing, this is one of the famous and largest cherry blossom gardens, Yu Yuan Tan Park or Jade Lake. But Zhang Xiao knows better. This is the garden Ma'ertai Ruoxi envisioned her daughter got married in, Feng Xin Yuan. Even though there are many differences to all she sees, Zhang Xiao still recognizes much of the tranquility and peace that continues to fill the space.
Zhang Xiao turns her head to the side and sees a small stand selling hairclips nearby. She sees a young man and young lady stand in front of it, gazing at all the trinkets when they both reach for the same clip, the butterfly clip. Shocked, the young man and young lady release the clip they hold between them and turn to each other giggling. From her position on the bridge, Zhang Xiao is able to hear and see all the interaction between them.
"I'm sorry, you were here first. Here, you can have it," says the young man who grabs the clip again, offering it to the young lady.
"No, you can," says the young lady as she shakes her head kindly.
The young man continues to hold the clip and thinks before reaching into his pockets for some money. He hands the merchant the money and holds out the clip for the young lady, much to her surprise.
"Since we are so fortunate to meet as such, consider this clip a present from me."
The young lady smiles one more and gazes into the young man's eyes and nods, accepting the clip as a token. The two slowly begin to walk a short distance away, all the while talking. They pass Zhang Xiao who manages to overhear a part of their conversation.
"I've seen you around here often. Do you like this place?"
"This is my favorite place to watch the cherry blossoms. What about you?"
"I love the tranquility and beauty of this place. I also love the cherry blossoms."
After a slightly awkward pause, the young man turns curiously to the young lady. "Why were you so interested in the butterfly clip?"
"I just got the lead role in this upcoming Qing Dynasty drama where I play the daughter of an aristocratic Manchu lady. Her signature accessory is this butterfly clip which is given to her by her lover who is the son of a Qing official."
The young man chuckles. "So you're the female lead for that drama. I've been cast into that drama as the son of a Qing official. What a coincidence!" the young man exclaims enthusiastically.
"It's as if we were destined to meet," responds the young lady dreamily. The two of them briefly pause in their stroll and gaze into each other's eyes, feeling as if they have known each other from another time or space before.
Zhang Xiao's eyes widen in recognition at the sparks from the gaze between the young lady and young man. Could it really be her and him? So it seems, I really did have that vision of Muxue after all. And the romance that she would have had really did exist, at least on some plane in this universe. Turns out, they really were destined to be together. Zhang Xiao feels her eyes getting misty as she contemplates on the revelation that such a love does exist.
After a brief moment, Zhang Xiao sees a grin emerging from the young man. "Would you like to have tea with me over at the tea house pavilion by the cherry blossoms so we can talk more about this upcoming drama we're featured in. Afterwards, we can watch the butterflies and admire the cherry blossoms together," he suggests pointing at the pavilion across the bridge.
A gentle smile erupts from the young lady. "That would be wonderful. I would love to."
Zhang Xiao smiles tearfully, mesmerized at the scene unfolding before her. The young man gently lifts the butterfly pin from the young lady's hands and carefully tucks it into the young lady's hair. In the sunlight, the pin glimmers brightly, resembling a pinkish garnet gemstone. The young lady blushes deeply, almost in a shade similar to that of the pin as the young man holds out his hand for her to take. The young lady reach out and take the young man's hand. Hand in hand, the two of them slowly walk down the bridge towards the tea house pavilion by the cherry blossom trees, continuing a conversation Zhang Xiao cannot hear.
Zhang Xiao happily blinks away her tears as she watches the pair disappear into the tea house. Turns out, there exists such a love that is strong enough to penetrate and transcend the distance of time and space. Who said there are no happy endings to tragic love? She smiles one last time towards the tea house and turns, walking the other away across the bridge, finally at peace with herself. As Zhang Xiao leaves, a school of pink butterflies circles the bridge before flying and lingering around the tea house just as a gentle gust of wind blows, caressing the petals of the cherry blossoms as they dance and flutter across the sky.
Sometimes it is not love that fails, but time. Time is not always on our side. If we miss the shot, the green light, or the station on romance, we miss it. Very often, there is no second chance, no next stop, or even a path for us to catch up. But even then, this doesn't mean the love we have doesn't exist. It doesn't mean there should only be hate.
When this unfortunate matter happens, we shouldn't stop loving. We should begin forgiving time and look for ways to commemorate such a romance. This is because romance is part of life's experience and we should never stop just as time will never stop. When you do this, sometimes you will find that the romance you lost and seek may be just around the corner and come when you are least expecting it.
"Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. - Alfred Lord Tennyson