I don’t own Chor Lau Heung (Chu Liuxiang); Gu Long did. And TVB, cos this story is based on the 1984 TVB’s The New Adventures of Chor Lau Heung starring the dashing Michael Miu Kiu Wai as Chor Lau Heung and the sweet (late) Barbara Yung Mei Ling as Song Siu Ching. This fanfiction is dedicated to my childhood idol Michael Miu and my all-time-favourite actress Barbara Yung. This is my take on the scene before Chor Lau Heung greeted Siu Ching as their Princess in episode 20 that can be viewed here. Click here for the summary of all episodes.
Chor Lau Heung raised his hand to knock on the door. The girl he grew to care for – no...love, not just care for – like no other woman was in that room. She was resting, or perhaps talking to Wah Jan Jan. He wanted nothing more than to enter the room, politely asked Miss Wah to give them privacy, and then hug Siu Ching and never let her go again. But he couldn't do that. He had no rights to do that.
His hand hovered on the door for a while before he lowered it and took a few steps back. His mind flew to the first day he realised there was no future between him and Siu Ching. It was the day he realised that Mr Song was actually the Emperor himself. Prior to that, the wanderer and ladies' man Chor wouldn't have thought of settling down. But then he met the brazen girl Song Siu Ching and grew to like her more than the way he cared for Sue, Rosie and Sugar, his adopted sisters.
Later, he independently met Mr Song without realising that he was Siu Ching’s father. When he finally did, a sliver of hope started to creep in. Perchance the regal-looking businessman liked him? Perchance he wouldn't mind that his daughter dating a thief, albeit a high calibre thief at that? Then he stupidly let Fell Cut kidnap Siu Ching pretty much in front of his stuffy nose, thus he had to report the incident to Mr Song. Then he and Inspector Ying just had to bump into the imperial troops en route to see Mr Song. He remembered he had alarm ringing in the back of his mind when he saw how anxious troop leader Officer Pak was to meet Mr Song. Not in a way an officer would look if he wants to arrest a criminal, but the way a subordinate was concerned when he wanted to deliver an urgent report to his boss. He dismissed the idea, too concerned about Siu Ching’s safety. Then, followed by Au Yeung Fei, Mr Song entered the temple yard. Almost immediately the whole troops including Officer Pak and Mr Ying kneeled down.
"Honoured to meet you, Your Highness. Long live, long live, long live the Emperor!!!"
Blood stopped flowing into Chor Lau Heung's face as he heard the chants uttered by the men around him. A tiny part of him wished that it was a joke, but when he saw Mr Song's serious demeanour, Chor Lau Heung knew the truth. He kneeled down and formally said, "I, Chor Lau Heung, am honoured to meet you, Your Majesty."
The Emperor who Chor used to know as Mr Song accepted their greetings and asked them to rise. His Majesty apologised for deceiving Lingering Fragrance, to which the wanderer properly expressed his understanding. It took him a while to recover from his shell shock, such that he didn't even bother asking Mr Ying why they'd been keeping the secret from him. Oh, he knew the answer of course. Siu Ching's - nay, Princess Wing Ching's safety was of utmost importance. When he eventually conversed with Inspector Ying, it was more of the need to fill in the uncomfortable silence between them as they waited for the Emperor to call them; but even then he couldn't utter many words. Then after he offered his service to the emperor to find his only daughter, Chor Lau Heung returned to the Peace Mansion to retrieve the drunkard Wu Tit Fa for company. Tit Fa was too drunk to leave immediately (apparently Chor wasn't the only one broken hearted that day), but the drunkard still lectured him about being careful with women. Lau Heung had forlornly replied that he knew he had no future with Siu Ching, hence he didn't have to worry about the possibility of Siu Ching being fickle (not that he thought she would).
The next few weeks were torturous for the Lingering Fragrance. Not only he was worried about Siu Ching's safety, he couldn't also tell a soul, not even his best mate Wu, about his shattered heart. He hadn't received permission from His Majesty nor any counsel from Inspector Ying to disclose Siu Ching's identity. He wouldn't do that either had they given him permission, for he didn't know enough about the possible repercussions of such disclosure. Since none of his friends knew that Siu Ching actually was their noble princess, no one took Chor's silence as the sign of his broken heart. They just took it as a sign that the ladies' man Chor finally met his equal, the one girl whose disappearance tortured him. Besides, as Chor admitted later, men were good at disguising their emotions. He’d still joke around with Wu Tit Fa and others. However, whenever he was alone, his mind would wander to Siu Ching, wondering how she was.
Truth being told, for the first week of the search, Chor Lau Heung wished he had been walking in a dream. The second week he spent wishing that he never found out Siu Ching’s true identity. Only by mid third week he realised he should just grit his teeth and face reality. No matter how easy going he was, and despite the high regards the wuxia communities gave him, he'd still be a commoner, a thief, and he wouldn't fit to court the Princess. If they could find her alive, that is.
He remembered when they found out the abandoned temple where Siu Ching and Yat Dim Hung must have been hiding after the assassin was ambushed. He had found Siu Ching's yellow scarf. It had been hers; it had the faint trail of her fragrance mixed with blood, which could either be hers or Fell Cut's. He had crumpled the scarf in his palm, praying that the owner would still be alive by now. Afterwards, it took them more than two weeks of their search for them to find the house Siu Ching and Fell Cut had been hiding, masquerading as husband and wife. The Lingering Fragrance couldn't believe his ears when the old lady of the house told them how nice Siu Ching was to "her husband". Jealousy crept in uninvited, mixed with longing and confusion as the old lady added how lucky Yat was to have such a devoted wife.
Yet, Heaven was kind to him after all. Soon after, he and Miss Wah found Siu Ching. The naughty girl was hiding under the clothed table in another abandoned temple, waiting for him and Miss Wah to leave the place. He couldn't pin point why he knew she was there. He just knew she was there. When Siu Ching lifted the table cloth, he couldn't help grinning at her. He was surprised to see her blushing and greeted him with "Long time no see", as if they had just a month of separation due to a trivial reason like a mundane travel. His relaxed behaviour enabled him to gaily ask what happened between her and his old friend Fell Cut. They finally caught up with the assassin, but he could see that Yat wouldn't accept help, despite Siu Ching's request. His jealousy stirred again uninvited as he saw the girl's evident concern to the brooding killer. However, as they returned to the inn, as Siu Ching started to display affection towards himself, Chor realised he had not lost the girl to Dim Hung. Siu Ching cared for Yat Dim Hung, but it was Chor Lau Heung whom she missed. Once or twice, Lau Heung caught her looking at him longingly.
Thus his jealousy towards Yat evaporated... Only to be replaced with his own insecurities. A commoner couldn't possibly court The Princess. And he was a wandering thief. He had no qualities befitting someone who could court a princess. He was simply not good enough for her. And yet, he knew that he loved her, and that she loved him too. That much was clear from the way she looked at him before she retired to her bedroom.
But, what can a commoner like him do...?
Some commotions inside returned him to the present. Siu Ching might be sleeping soon. If he wanted to say anything to her, now it would be a good time. Tomorrow he might find it difficult to do so, for the courage he needed might have flown away that night. Chor Lau Heung took a deep breath and knocked on the door. When the voice from inside (which, as he now knew well, belonged to Siu Ching) asked for his identity, he said it was him. He could sense some excitement as the door opened. He entered the room to find a starry eyed Song Siu Ching greeting him. He nodded, also to Miss Wah. He then told Siu Ching that he had something to tell her before she went to bed. He waited until the kind Miss Wah left the place before he closed the door behind them.
He turned to see Siu Ching shyly turning her back at him. The girl's hands were busy playing with something, possibly to hide her excitement or nervousness or both. He sighed within; he was nervous too. Had Siu Ching seen him, she'd seen a flash of regret on his slanted eyes as Chor Lau Heung kneeled behind her and kowtowed properly.
"I, Chor Lau Heung, greet Your Highness. It's very nice to see you again, Princess."
He sensed excitement dying in front of him, replaced by surprise and disappointment.
The Lingering Fragrance dared not to look up.
The 40 episodes of this series can be found at Dramanice.com, and here I'd like to profusely thank the subbers and uploaders of this drama. According to Wikipedia, Liuxiang (Lau Heung) means "lingering fragrance", hence I used it for Chor Lau Heung's moniker.