Yan Zheyun had believed that he was used to loss by now. Not a day went by where he didn't think about the family and friends that he'd left behind but as time went by, the gnawing ache of loneliness had grown numb with acceptance, grief soothed by the balm of new, meaningful relationships that didn't so much as replace the old ones as add flavour to a life that had lost a lot of meaning to it.
Today, he learnt just how wrong he'd been. Loss, even just its prospect, was still that horrible monster looming in the corner of his mind, waiting for the opportune moment to crawl out of his worst nightmares. He'd known that Liu Yao wasn't safe, that as an emperor, danger dogged his every step, but he was a rational sort of person, believed wholeheartedly in problem-solving instead of allowing his emotions to get the better of him.
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