❤️Happy Valentines! ❤️Wishing everyone has found their Mo Qing already! I’m still looking for mine! ????
Once Hua Zhu Yu’s figure disappeared from view, Lan Bing spoke, “Prince’s speculation was correct. Yuan Bao is indeed the daughter of Hua Mu, the wife that Prince had once abandoned, Young Miss Hua, Hua Zhu Yu.”
Stroking his forehead, Ji Feng Li asked, “How did you find that out?”
“Before the wedding, Qing Luo gu gu1 was in charge of dressing Hua Zhu Yu up for the marriage ceremony. She said that at that time Miss Hua had a huge black birthmark on her face so she couldn’t get a clear view. However, she stated that her pair of clear eyes were very similar to Bao gong gong’s. But Yuan Bao was a eunuch so she didn’t think much of it at the time. But now she asserts that it’s the same person,” Lan Bing slowly said in a low voice.
Ji Feng Li closed his eyes and listened to Lan Bing’s report.
He was right afterall, she really was Hua Zhu Yu.
When he found out she was a woman, he began to question her real identity. At that time he thought Rong Si was Hua Zhu Yu but after determining that she wasn’t, he began to wonder who the real Miss Hua was. He thought that Yuan Bao might be Hua Zhu Yu, but he wasn’t completely certain. Today, his speculation was confirmed.
Listening to Lan Bing’s report, his thoughts began to wonder back to the events of that wedding night. The poisoned wine, the divorce letter, the shattered jade cup, everything amassed into a central point and like the sharpened tip of a blade, it stabbed at his heart with agonizing pain.
It turns out he was the one that had been so merciless towards her!
Lan Bing continued, “Prince, I know your feelings for Yuan Bao, but there are some things I must say. I heard from Prince Na Lan that you had moved ahead with the plan after hearing that she and Huangfu Wu Shuang were about to consummate their marriage. However, if we hadn’t captured Yu City, she would’ve become Huangfu Wu Shuang’s Empress. That night, she escaped with him through the secret passageway. Huangfu Wu Shuang left but she remained behind and even took the initiative to expose her whereabouts. She willingly followed Prince Na Lan back to the palace to see you. At that time, she certainly knew Prince was still alive. She’s aware of Prince’s feelings for her so she intentionally stayed behind. Prince, don’t forget, she is Hua Mu’s daughter. She’s clearly helping her father to harm you. On the execution grounds, if not for her, Prince would not….”
“Enough!” Ji Feng Li suddenly interrupted Lan Bing, his eyes gleaming with coldness. “You can withdraw. As for her identity, do not speak a word of it. Dismiss Qing Luo gugu from the palace, the farther she goes the better!”
“Yes!” Lan Bing answered in surprise as he lowered his head and withdrew.
The last rays of the setting sun slowly faded into the horizons and a blanket of darkness gradually shrouded the Imperial Palace. Ji Feng Li suddenly hunched forward and was shaken by another bout of coughing. In the darkness of the palace, his frail figure appeared all the more desolate.
In the side hall, Hua Zhu Yu sat in front of the window and peered outside towards the darkening skies. She felt as though it quite resembled her heart at the moment for she was somewhat unsettled.
That night when she thought there was a chance that the man in the mask was actually Ji Feng Li she had forsaken everything and recklessly entered the Imperial Palace. She ended up taking care of him for two days and only once he awakened did her heart finally feel at ease. However, new concerns arose that troubled her.
She heard that Hua Mu captured the former Emperor Kang, Huangfu Wu Shang and escaped from the palace. It seems he had not given up and is still set on overthrowing
Southern Kingdom. She didn’t understand why her father who had always been loyal and brave was rebelling. In her mind, he was not one who was greedy for wealth and power.
For a long time her thoughts were consumed with toppling Ji Feng Li and overthrowing Emperor Yan to wash away the grievances of the Hua Family. It was her sole purpose for living. Yet everything now had changed and the truth had been revealed. Now she didn’t know which road she must take next.
“Miss Bao, Prince sent the servant to invite you to his place for the evening meal.” Outside the door sounded the voice of a maidservant.
Hua Zhu Yu answered and was about to step outside but noticed her disheveled hair. Moments ago, she had just woken up and had rushed outside barefoot with her hair a mess. She lit the candle and sat in front of the bronze mirror to comb through her hair. Originally, she wanted to fix her hair into a gorgeous cloud bun but after a long time she was not able to. After she reverted back to her female identity, she had been confined in the Nie Residence and it was Cui Xiu who had always fixed her hair. She frowned and let out a sigh. She was just about to put her hair up in a simple bun when the faint sound of footsteps could be heard behind her. She turned around and saw Ji Feng Li slowly approaching her.
He stopped in front of her and the corner of his lips lifted in a faint smile. In the dimly lit room, he lowered his head and gazed at her attentively.
Hua Zhu Yu could feel her heartbeat quickening. She raised her hand to lift her hair and said, “Having dressed as a man for so long, I only know a few simple hairstyles. I’m very foolish aren’t I?”
Upon hearing these words, a layer of mist slowly filled his eyes. Softly he said, “In the future Bao’er no longer needs to dress as a man. How about I comb your hair?”
2Choked with emotions, her eyes glistened with tears. She smiled and asked, “Do you know how?”
“A long time ago, I had combed my mother’s hair.” He reached out and gently took the jade comb from her hand and began to comb slowly. His movements were light and slow, careful as to not hurt her. His movements were not very skilled, even clumsy at best. After half an hour, he finally finished putting her hair in a bun. He placed the jade comb down and turned Hua Zhu Yu over to face him. He raised his hand to lift her chin. His fingers brushed away the tears on her cheeks and his eyes deepened as he murmured, “Bao’er.”
In the next moment, his arms wrapped around her, his hold gradually tightening around her thin figure. He was surprised that it was this fragile figure that had once adorned the silver armor and fought on the battlefield, leading the Hu Battalion to launch an attack at the enemy’s rear. The more he thought about it, the more pain he felt. When he realized she was a woman he was ecstatic but today that joy was overwhelmed by pain. His arms tightened around her as if he wanted to fasten her against him, never to separate.
Hua Zhu Yu could feel his breath flutter against her ear. His hold was firm and warm. She wrapped her arms around him and leaned against his chest, closing her eyes slightly as tears trickled down. He’s still alive, he’s still alive….
Sensing her response, he slightly trembled and held her even tighter, so tight she could hardly breathe. In her ear, he asked in a low voice, “Bao’er, in your heart you have me right?”
Hua Zhu Yu was about to respond but before she had the chance to he leaned over and kissed her, seemingly afraid to hear her reply, as if he didn’t need her answer at all, as if this question was not directed at her but instead at himself.
His kiss was gentle as the light fall of rain.
He kissed the tears at the corner of her eyes and the worries knitted between her brows. His kiss was overbearing yet gentle at the same time. At this moment, she didn’t want to think of anything else, be it her fate or her struggles. She wanted to focus only on the person in front of her and on this feeling that was real.
“Stay by my side, okay?” His hot breath carried the faint scent of bamboo by her ear. Hua Zhu Yu rested her head on his shoulder and glanced out the window. The night outside was still save for the sound of the wind passing through, rustling the leaves melodiously. Her heart filled with sweetness as she softly replied, “Hm!”
The evening meal was set in Ji Feng Li’s palace hall. There were only the two of them inside. On the table there was rice porridge, steamed duck with lotus leaf, fish, tofu, and a small bowl of soup. It was a mixture of meat and vegetarian dishes. Though there were not many dishes, they were the dishes she liked to eat the most.
Having stayed together in the army, Ji Feng Li was well aware of her palate preferences. Hua Zhu Yu had not had a decent meal these past few days so when she saw this display of food she immediately picked up her chopsticks and delved in.
“This time I can eat meat right?” She asked with a smile as she picked up a slice of duck meat.
Ji Feng Li sat there quietly watching her eat as his eyes curved with a hint of mirth. Noticing the dishes that she enjoyed, he picked up his chopsticks to place the food into her bowl.
Very quickly, half of the food on the table had been cleared when she finally realized that Ji Feng Li had not eaten yet. Seeing her finished, Ji Feng Li picked up the bowl of porridge and ate the remaining food.
After he finished, a eunuch entered and cleared the dishes on the table. A maidservant then came in and poured tea for them before quietly leaving and shutting the door with a squeak. Hua Zhu Yu looked around and saw that there was no one else beside her and Ji Feng Li. After finishing the cup of tea, she placed it down and got up, intending to return to the side hall to rest for the night. Only after taking 2 steps, a warm spring-like voice asked, “Where are you going?”
Hua Zhu Yu replied, “I’m heading to the side hall to rest.” Where else would she go.
“The servants keeping night vigil are already resting in the side hall,” he said as he lifted his cup and took a sip.
“Then where should I rest?” Hua Zhu Yu asked with a frown. Since he was already better, she didn’t have to wait on him all night. Thus she needed a place to sleep. These past few days have quite exhausted her.
Upon hearing this, the corners of Ji Feng Li’s lips lifted in a faint smile. He set down the cup of tea and walked towards her. The next moment, her whole body felt light as he lifted her up and headed towards the inner hall in great strides. Although he was carrying her, his movements were nimble and fast. He was clearly overbearing yet still gentle. He carried her all the way to the inner hall and gently put her on the bed. Suddenly, her shoulders felt cold and she realized he had taken off her coat. His bright eyes were staring straight at her. In the endless depth of his eyes was a restrained fervor she could not fathom.
- Gugu translates into “aunt” but I think in this context it’s referring to a prominent maidservant, usually someone who’s older and has been working as a maidservant for a long time and thus is called “aunt” out of respect. I don’t think there’s actually any blood-related association
- I think she was choked with emotions here because he asked to comb her hair. Usually combing one’s hair is an intimate action reserved for husbands and wives.
- Also wanted to mention I did make some minor edits to Ch. 146 which I’ve made italics. It took a while to release this chapter because I noticed some minor inconsistencies between the vietnamese and chinese raws so I had to go back and make adjustments in Ch.146.