She’s daydreaming again.
A scribble on the document in a moment of absent mindedness, the name appears without a second thought—Beidou.
A furtive glance around her quarters, Ningguang squashes down a rather undignified squeak as she realizes what she has done. Sickeningly sweet, my thoughts of her consume me to a point where I can no longer think straight. She looks down at the scroll of parchment and the light etchings that stare back at her. Accusatory, unrelenting. Almost as stalwart as that gaze from the night of the Lantern Rite.
She brings her quill back down to the paper—Captain Beidou. Captain Beidou, accompanied by a heart. Captain Beidou, light and fluffy scribbles around the edges. Beidou—superfluous script. Ningguang covers her mouth with her hand, her quill falling to the desk with a noisy clatter.
Fuck. That was the third document she had messed up today.
Another council meeting, she wishes she could return to her bed. Her subconscious eludes her, keeping dreams from another lonely night.
Keqing is yelling—passionately, strongly worded persuasion—from her place in the room about the building permits that Ningguang had signed off on regarding a special something something Alcor something something budget something something—Beidou.
Ningguang, caught in another fit of daydreaming once more. She’s drawing Beidou’s face this time. Should she draw her smiling? Laughing? She pauses in thought as Keqing’s voice fades into the background and Ningguang’s thoughts cycle through the various expressions of a certain Caption that she has imprinted into her mind. What about… what about that sultry look—smouldering—from the sight of Ningguang in that dress on the night of the Lantern Rite?
Ningguang inhales shakily. Mmm. That look… that look that said—she needed to give Keqing her attention.
She lays in her bed at night, staring at the ceiling overhead.
Ningguang can’t sleep. The silk sheets that cover her slide and shift, creasing with her discontent. Where is her mind again—oh, Beidou.
It had been but a simple round around the docks—checking on imports, quelling the arguments over tariffs. There, Ningguang sees her in the distance. She’s minding her own business, unlike Ningguang. Talking to the more unsavory looking sailors, perhaps dabbling in affairs that are less than legal in the light of day. Yet, Ningguang turns a blind eye to these dealings. Pretends she doesn’t know about Beidou’s work within the black market.
Why are you so soft on her?
She’d rather have the softness of another body beside her instead.
Hasty scrawling on a scrap of paper from this morning—N+B—a heart, with an arrow through the center.
Ningguang watches Beidou as they sit in her office, a game of chess laid out before them.
Ningguang—lovesick, desperate, pining—pretending she isn't salivating behind her steely gaze. Beidou, shoulders slouched, hunched over and biting on her lower lip as she contemplates her next move. She looks so relaxed when the two of them are alone like this. Like she actually enjoys Ningguang’s company, rather than having everyone else believe the opposite.
It’s almost as if she’s trying to hide their relationship from the whole of Liyue. Their relationship… what is their relationship? Surely, they are nothing more than business partners? Long term associates? Acquaintances from a distant past? Ningguang depended on Beidou, trusted Beidou. And yet, the pirate captain always seemed to act as if she were above Ningguang in some way whenever the two of them were in the public eye.
As Beidou scratches the back of her head, Ningguang leans over to grab her pipe and pack it with fresh tobacco. Your move… Captain.
Her heart skips a beat.
Like a schoolgirl doodling their names in the margins of important documents. Sometimes she draws Beidou. Some pieces carry more intention than others. Beidou with her characteristic grin, Beidou indulging Ningguang’s wit and actually laughing at something that she says. She draws them holding hands, crude stick figures befitting the art skills of a child. Hearts in the deepest shades of red.
…As she stares at the mess of documents that she’s ruined today, Ningguang simply sighs to herself and massages her forehead. She should really invest in a diary or a journal at this point.
The snow that falls over Liyue only carries one secret—a name—for the desperate and clamoring merchants below—the Tianquan is in love.
Aboard the Alcor, she finds herself alone in Beidou’s quarters.
She’s here to play chess of course. What else would she be doing? Not envisioning doing anything more with Beidou, of course. Preposterous. Ningguang was above such uncouth behavior. …No, I’m not.
Ningguang twiddles her fingers, ignoring the anxious clicking of her nail guards as they clack against one another. She’s been in Beidou’s room before; there was no reason to be anxious or nervous. She was simply here to play chess. Play chess, hm?
Her eyes drift to Beidou’s bed. She’d rather be playing something else.
Should she send Beidou gifts? Surely… that would convey her interest in some way. After all, Beidou seems oblivious to everything else that Ningguang has done to convey her attraction. Her yearning. Her pining. Her longing. Her desperation. Rex Lapis, help her.
Beidou wouldn’t care for flowers, would she? Does she even like flowers? What about glaze lilies, the most sapphic flower in all of Liyue?
She draws Beidou with a glaze lily tucked behind her ear.
There’s always alcohol, Ningguang supposes. Beidou’s penchant for it and all that nonsense. Perhaps she can gift Beidou one of the finer bottles she’s been saving for a special occasion. Or, they could share it together. Ningguang would invite her to the Jade Chamber to talk business—the business of wanting them to be together.
Ningguang would pour a glass, press it to Beidou’s lips. Lean forward, catching the remnants of the liquid on her tongue.
She begins a diary.
Beidou, Beidou, Beidou. Ningguang, Ningguang, Ningguang.
Beidou and Ningguang. The Tianquan and the Captain. The Jade Chamber and the Alcor. Heaven and Earth.
N+B, B+N. Ningbei. Beiguang.
Cheeks burning with shame, she shoves it under her pillow. Cursing herself for her neediness and desperation for something that will never be.
They’re in Mondstadt and Beidou is being rough with her words again.
Ningguang crosses her arms over her chest and the poker face drops before she can control herself—which she never can when it comes to Beidou. She pouts. Ningguang actually pouts as she stares Beidou down from the other side of the table.
Shit. Beidou backtracks, laughing amicably and offers to pay. She doesn’t like that look that Ningguang’s giving her. She looks like a pissed off cat that’s ready to tear her to shreds. Her eyes lower to Ningguang’s nail guards—and with claws. Very sharp claws.
They drink. Engage in nostalgic and easy-going conversation, the previous gaff already forgotten. Ningguang waxes poetic once more, speaking of Beidou with the adulation that seems to always go over the pirate captain’s head. Beidou just stares blankly at her and asks—You’re not mocking me, are you?
For all of Beidou’s ability to read people… Ningguang, somehow, remains illegible.
A hike into the mountains in the light of the moon.
She trails three paces behind Beidou, not accustomed to such rigorous activity. Beidou patiently waits for her however, hands on her hips and a soft look in her eyes.
There’s quiet, silence as they traverse through the forests of a foreign land. Nothing save for the chirping of insects and the grumbling of hilichurls sleeping in their camps in the distance. They pass through, undisturbed. There’s no need to incite violence when they seek calm.
Ningguang finds herself faltering as they near the precipice and Beidou extends a hand to pull her along. Her hand closes over Ningguang’s own, firm and warm. Ningguang feels as if she’s forgotten how to breathe, her world descends into warm hues of pink and opaque bubbles as she stares at Beidou pulling her forward. We’re only holding hands for fucks sake.
As they stand side by side at the precipice, Beidou leaves her side for a moment and returns, a cheeky grin on her face. Ningguang looks down at the offering Beidou has in her hand—a Cecilia.
She scribbles in her diary by the light of candle on the Alcor at night. The Cecilia rests within the binding, waiting to be pressed into the blank pages it rests on. Ningguang brings the flower to her nose, sniffing gently before resisting the urge to squeal in undignified girlish glee. She presses the flower into the pages of her diary, snapping the book shut.
Beidou. Beidou. Beidou. Captain Beidou. Beidou.
Beidou, my love. No.
…Beidou, my Captain—one singular heart.