Fangirling Chinese Novels

Hua Xu Yin: Song Ning and Shen An (Where there is love, there is pain)


As if my love for Yuan Hong needed to get any deeper, mookie did this awesome translation of an interview Yuan Hong gave where he spoke about his role as Shen An in Hua Xu Yin (the interview translation is further down, but the post is so packed with Loverboy goodies anyway, it’s not a chore to scroll). Apparently, we either get him as Shen An or not get him in HXY at all – between the two, the former would be the lesser of two evils.

Of course, that kickstarted my SA x SN longing again. On mookie’s suggestion, I revisited the SA x SN story again and it didn’t hurt any less the second time I am afraid. It had come up in my earlier post on Tangqi Gongzi’s discussion on SA x SN, where I mentioned a scene where SA x SN exchanged hurtful words even though she went to find him to give him a gift. It struck me that this scene really marked the first time Shen An actually showed his feelings for SN. It also captured their fractured relationship, and the tension in each volley of pithy remarks between the two.

So here it is – dedicated to my darling Yuan Honey, a translation of that scene. Sigh – the SA x SN love story is so complicated that I didn’t even know what to title this post. In the end, I chose the Spanish proverb, “Where there is love, there is pain” because it is more poetic.

But actually, Mary-Kate Olsen said it best (with all the raw feeling of a love that didn’t work out):

“I love him and I miss him, and I don’t speak with him anymore. It’s a hurtful and painful subject.”


And yes, we do realise that this blog is turning into a Tangqi Gongzi fansite… but we are helpless in the face of her talent. 😛


Not long thereafter, Xia’s old ruler passed away and was succeeded by his son. Two months later, on the pretext that Jiang had harbored traitors from Xia, Xia’s new ruler declared war against Jiang. The Jiang ruler ordered Shen An to lead the troops into battle.

The lush fragrance of April was coming to an end, a cold and barren moon hung in the sky. Song Ning stood at the foot of her bed for half the night and watched the moon slowly descended towards the horizon. In the end, she still was not able to bear the thought of him dying on the battlefield. While he was not a good husband, he is the hero that she fell in love at first sight half a year ago. The saying that “while some people do not have much experience in love, they have a romantic soul” aptly describes Song Ning here.

She took out her suit of armor that accompanied her to Jiang as part of her dowry and removed the huxing jing[1] from the breastplate. Her skirts trailed behind her as she crossed the corridors towards Shen An’s personal apartments.

The maidservant in the garden mumbled for a minute before she said, “The General… The General is not in his chambers.”

Song Ning’s expression remained unchanged, “Is he at He Feng Yuan[2]?”

The maidservant hung her head, fearing to speak.

Song Ning passed the silk-wrapped huxing jing to the maidservant, “Since he is not here, then pass this…”

Before she could finish her sentence, the maidservant in front of her raised her head and said in surprise, “General!”

Shen An entered the courtyard. The sky had not brightened and his silhouette was framed by the faint yellow light emitted by the few lanterns that hung in the courtyard. She heard his voice come from behind her, strong and cold, “what are you doing here?”

She turned around and stood straight, her gaze sweeping his form from head to toe, and laughed shortly. She handed him the cloth-wrapped item, “Nothing much. I heard that you will be going into battle, so I came to bring you this huxing jing that is made of pine green stone. This huxing jing is much stronger than normal ones and have saved my life many times. Since I will never go into battle again, do take this along with you and try it out.”

He frowned and looked at her, “I heard that this is your treasure that is given to you by your brother.”

Song Ning looked up, “Eh – You’ve also heard of that? It can be said to be a treasure but only if it can protect its wearer’s life. If it can’t protect someone’s life, then it is nothing. By loaning it to you, I don’t mean for you to owe me any favours. You said it well, we should each keep out of each other’s way. But as I may have taken on your name, if you die in battle, then the responsibility for your entire Shen household will fall on me – that is too tiring. Each should bear his own responsibility. Don’t you agree?”

She passed him the jade green huxing jing that looked like a spread out lotus leaf. As she turned to leave, he grabbed at her, “You can remarry.”

She looked down at his hand that held her sleeve before turning her gaze upwards to him and smiled, “What?”

He let go of her sleeve, “If I die in battle, you can remarry.”

She bowed her head and thought for a moment before replying, “Yes. That is true.” She raised her her head again, her dimples deepened, “Then why don’t you just die on the battlefield and never return. Don’t ever return again.”

The maidservant at the side trembled from fear. Song Ning only laughed in reply with a cold expression in her eyes.



[1] “Huxin jing” usually describes a small circular shield that is worn at the chest area to protect the heart.

[2] This is the place where Liu Qiqi lives, which roughly translates to “The Garden of the Lotus Phoenix”.

4 thoughts on “Hua Xu Yin: Song Ning and Shen An (Where there is love, there is pain)

  1. After reading YH’s take on SA, I feel that I can somewhat better understand SA, that he “places too much emphasis on duty and loyalty”. Which makes me think that even if SN and SA had been able to sit down and have a calm, honest, heart-to-heart, they still wouldn’t have been able to be together in the end, because SA would have felt that he still has a duty to stay with LQQ, never mind that his promise to her was built on false assumptions. He would think that a promise is still a promise, and a man should never go back on his word.

    That being said, at least SN and SA could then have parted on good terms, rather than inflicting such misery on each other. So, I still can’t wholly forgive SA, because by not letting SN reveal the truth (why … ?), he became the source of all her pain. Duty might prevent him from leaving LQQ even in the face of the truth, but duty also certainly doesn’t give him the right to inflict such misery on an innocent and then driving her to her death.

    So … I think I’m right back at where I started. 😛 SA is a douchebag, and SN has too much pride. The end.

    • Sorry for the late reply!

      i would think that her lying (by omission) to him is sufficient to negate any promises that he might have made her. Shen An is loyal and responsible to a fault, but I think he would hardly have stayed with her after knowing that. He would have taken care of her for the rest of her life, but I don’t think he would ever touch her again.

      While Song Ning is the greatest victim of LQQ’s deception, I wouldn’t mistake her for a wilting flower. She can be harsh and brutal (let’s not forget that she very purposefully caused LQQ’s miscarriage), which makes her a great general but a really difficult woman to love. Really, there are no innocents in this story.

  2. Pingback: Hua Xu Yin Summary Part 1 – Song Ning & Shen An’s Story (华胥引- 浮生尽) | Fanatical

  3. it must have hurt Song Ning to hear Shen An say she could remarry if he dies in war

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