5 years old Jin Ling roaming around all alone in Lotus Pier while his jiujiu works on his sect leader duty. When he was looking for his mother’s belongings, he found something out of place and immediately brings it to his jiujiu.
"Jiujiu, what is this?" innocently, Jin Ling asked.
Jiang Cheng takes a deep breath when he sees the thing on his nephew's tiny hand.
It's a red ribbon that Wei Wuxian used to tie his hair.
Not knowing what to say, Jiang Cheng answered, "A Ribbon."
Jin Ling is a curious child, so he inquires more, "Is it for hair? Is it yours, jiujiu? Why do I never see you wear it, jiujiu?"
Jiang Cheng grimaces, "Don't ask too much, Jin Ling. Put the ribbon back to its place. I am busy." Jiang Cheng turned around and left the child in the hallway where they met.
Jin Ling quivers his lips, tears threatening to spill. He stares at his jiujiu until his jiujiu is out of his sight. He thought he saw it wrong when he sees his jiujiu is wiping his tears.
When Jiang Cheng gets back, he notices Jin Ling hasn't put the red ribbon back to its initial place, along with his family ribbons and hairpins. So he looks for Jin Ling. When Jiang Cheng found him, Jin Ling is peacefully sleeping in his room, face tear-stained and hands clutching hard the ribbon.
Jin Ling is awakened with a feeling that there is a presence looming over him. When he opens his eyes, he sees his jiujiu trying to pull out the red ribbon he found in the Jiang family heirlooms box. So he clutches it tighter. What's about this ribbon that made his jiujiu cried? Is it very important to jiujiu?
"No." Jin Ling said, refuse to let go the ribbon and tugs it, hiding the ribbon in his embrace as he curls up. If his jiujiu could be stubborn, why not him? The apple never falls far from the tree.
"Jin Ling, give it to me." Jiang Cheng said with a stern voice.
Jin Ling shakes his head vigorously, "No. Not until you tell me whose ribbon is this. Why do you put it along with my mother's hairpins?"
Jiang Cheng lets out a grunt, "That is none of your business." He tries to wrestle out the ribbon out of his nephew's grip but to no avail. His nephew has started his cultivation, and he uses it to protect the ribbon from being taken. Jiang Cheng could use his strength to take it, but he doesn't want to hurt his nephew or ruin the ribbon. "Jin Ling. Give it to me or I will break your leg." Jiang Cheng threatens, but Jin Ling is still stubborn to let the ribbon go. He wonders how did Jin Ling get so stubborn like this.
“Tell me!” Jin Ling says, eyes tearing up.
"Why can't you?"
“Because-” Jiang Cheng has no words. Jin Ling tilts his head, wondering why his jiujiu stopped talking abruptly.
Jiang Cheng sighs, "Fine. It is your uncle's."
Jin Ling furrows his eyebrows, "Which one?" He has three uncles that he knows of, but he is not surprised if he has more uncles than that. He literally just found out about Mo Xuanyu's existence two weeks ago.
"The uncle that was close to me and your mother."
"Why do I feel I never hear about this particular uncle?"
Jiang Cheng chuckles dryly, "Oh you heard it but you don't know it was your uncle."
Jin Ling is getting more confused. Who is this mysterious uncle? "And why can't you tell me about him?" Jin Ling asked more.
"Somehow, it feels like an unspoken rule; to not talk about him. Talk about the past where he was just a young man with a bright future. But even if it is spoken, no one would believe it anyway."
Jin Ling huffs. He wants an explanation, not more questions.
So he asks, "Is he dead now?"
No answer from jiujiu but Jin Ling thinks the answer is yes.
"So this is his." Jin Ling takes out the ribbon from his embrace, stating it. He stares at it. Jiujiu never told him about this uncle, but if jiujiu put it along with his mother's, this uncle must be loved a lot by his mother and jiujiu. Somehow he wants to get to know this uncle more. He wants to love this uncle like jiujiu and his mother has been. He wants to meet this uncle.
"Jiujiu." Jin Ling calls Jiang Cheng out from his reverie. "Could you tie this ribbon on me?" He just found out he has another uncle and somehow he misses him, regardless of not knowing his face. Maybe wearing it would make him miss this uncle less.
"... Okay." Jiang Cheng hesitates, but he gives in. "But you cannot tell anyone that I am telling you about him."
"Promise." Jin Ling answers before he pulls out his hair ornament and the gold ribbon that has been tying up his hair all day. He hands his jiujiu the ribbon and turns his back to his jiujiu.
The ribbon is too long for a child, but Jiang Cheng rolls it around Jin Ling's hair for a few more times than necessary to shorten the ribbon.
When he is done tying up the hair, Jiang Cheng pats his nephew's shoulder, signalling that it is done. Immediately, Jin Ling hops down from the bed and runs to the mirror in his room.
Jin Ling thinks it suits him. Jiang Cheng thinks so too. Jin Ling loves how he looks perfect with the red ribbon. “Thank you, jiujiu~” Jin Ling turns around and beams at his jiujiu.
The sect leader of the Yunmeng Jiang sect hums in acknowledgement. “Now go wash your face and go to the dining hall. Dinner is almost ready.” Seeing Jin Ling nods enthusiastically, Jiang Cheng left the room.
That dinner, Jin Ling proudly sways his red ribbon, not realising the curious eyes around him. Even so, no one questions him.
The next day, Jin Ling puts the red ribbon back to its place and ever since then, Jin Ling always asks for a red ribbon to tie up his hair instead of a gold one.
No one questions him about it either. So no one knows that the night he wears the red ribbon, Jin Ling dreamt he met a stranger who is also wearing a similar red ribbon as his and also willing to tell him about his parents that everybody refuses to tell and answers any of his questions patiently.
Maybe if he keeps wearing it, that stranger would appear in his dream again, talking about his parents.
As he grows up, he is totally forgotten about it, but the red ribbon on his hair stays to this day.