Facing Ji Feng Li’s fervent gaze, Hua Zhu Yu’s face burned as if scorched with fire. But suddenly, she recalled that night at the military camp and the unborn child she had lost, causing her heart to ache with sorrow.
The pain engulfed her, seeping deep into her bones.
Hua Zhu Yu could not help but tremble slightly, the dimples on her smiling face gradually receding. She lowered her eyes and calmly asked: “Ji Feng Li, what do you want to do?”
The glistening moonlight trickled down across the flower bushes by the window, casting faint shadows upon them.
The beautiful night ambience was instantly shattered by her stony voice.
The room submerged into silence once again. Not a single breath could be heard; it was frighteningly quiet.
The candlelight flickered across Ji Feng Li’s shoulder, illuminating his handsome face and the fire in his eyes could be seen gradually dimming. After a moment of contemplation, he smirked his lips slightly in an enchanting smile and asked in a roguish tone “What do you think I want to do Bao’er? I just want to help you change your clothes to rest.”
“I don’t want to sleep here,” Hua Zhu Yu calmly said.
“Then where does Bao’er want to sleep?” he asked as his eyes tinged with a hint of sadness.
Hua Zhu Yu suddenly grew uneasy at the unspoken meaning behind his words. That night he saw her tangled up on the bed with Huangfu Wu Shuang. Could it be that he thought she had feelings for Huangfu Wu Shuang?
She lowered her lashes and faintly said, “I don’t love Huangfu Wu Shuang. That night I was going to run away but I had lost a portion of my internal strength so I wasn’t his opponent.”
Ji Feng Li pulled her closer in his arms as his dark eyes stared at her closely. “Whatever you say, I believe you. Alright, go to sleep now.”
That night, Hua Zhu Yu slept in his bed while he slept on the couch at the other corner.
translations at peachblossomgrove . com
The next day, Hua Zhu Yu told Ji Feng Li to instruct someone to furnish a room for her. Although she had agreed to stay in the palace, she knew that there were many things between them that were yet to be resolved.
Very quickly it was nearing the end of the third month.
The women in the back palace(harem) all exchanged their heavy winter clothes with light robes. In the imperial garden, the trees grew lush and green while the flowers flourished. By the lakeside, the peach blossom trees were in full bloom, vibrant with colors.
Hua Zhu Yu stood under a tree as a breeze swept past, carrying petals of flowers along with their fragrant scent.
She stretched out her hand and a few petals fell into her palm. The delicate pink color complemented the fair complexion of her palm, a beautiful sight to behold.
These days, Ji Feng Li has been very busy. Although the retired Emperor Yan’s mental health had recovered, his body was still frail. As for Emperor Kang, his whereabouts were still unknown so state affairs all fell upon Ji Feng Li’s shoulders. He was busy everyday and would not return until late in the night. She was worried that if he continued on like this his internal injuries would never heal completely.
“My lady, Miss Wen and the third princess are coming.” The maidservant Long Yu quietly informed. Long Yu was about sixteen years old. She was someone that Ji Feng Li had sent to serve her.
Hua Zhu Yu nodded and smiled. Glancing back, she saw that it was indeed Wen Wan and Huangfu Yan who had arrived. Since Ji Feng Li became regent, Imperial Tutor Wen was released from prison and was reinstated as an official. Wen Wan also returned to the Wen Residence as the young miss of the affluent Wen family.
Spotting Hua Zhu Yu, Huangfu Yan’s smile stiffened and her eyes narrowed with animosity. She pulled Wen Wan’s sleeve to go somewhere else but Wen Wan ignored her and proceeded straight towards Hua Zhu Yu.
Seeing them arrive, Long Yu paid her respects. “Greetings to the third princess and Miss Wen.”
Wen Wan glanced at Hua Zhu Yu, then with a smile she told Huangfu Yan,” Princess, I have something to discuss with Miss Bao.”
Huangfu Yan looked at Wen Wan and hesitated for a moment before saying, “Then I’ll leave first.” She then directed a hostile glare at Hua Zhu Yu before turning to leave.
Hua Zhu Yu faintly smiled as she thought Huangfu Yan still hated her. Seeing her departing figure, Hua Zhu Yu said, “Long Yu, the peach blossoms are very beautiful, why don’t you go pick some of the flowers.”
Long Yu was concerned but she could not disobey Hua Zhu Yu so she also quietly left.
Hua Zhu Yu narrowed her eyes and asked “I wonder what Miss Wen has to discuss with Yuan Bao?”
Wen Wan stopped smiling and looked straight at Hua Zhu Yu for a long time before questioning, “When are you going to leave?”
Hua Zhu Yu did not expect Wen Wan to be so straightforward. Softly chuckling, she asked, “Why should I leave?”
“Because he won’t marry you and you’ll have to leave sooner or later. It’ll be better for you the sooner you leave, ” Wen Wan coldly stated.
“You’re not him, how do you know if he will marry me or not?” Hua Zhu Yu coldly asked.
“Because he’s the regent and will soon become the Emperor. Do you think he will marry someone with an unclear background as yourself? Besides, you are his enemy. You even married Huangfu Wu Shuang. Do you think he will actually marry you? ” Wen Wan gazed at Hua Zhu Yu with a look of disdain.
Hua Zhu Yu couldn’t help but lightly chuckle.
“You mean to say that he will marry you? If I remember correctly, Miss Wen was once the Northern Emperor’s as well as Huangfu Wu Shuang’s most favored woman.Would he really marry you?”
Wen Wan flashed a dazzling smile as she replied,” Of course! I’ve been to Northern Kingdom but that was against my will. Becoming the Northern Emperor’s favored woman was all just a plan to assist himJFL. Returning to Huangfu Wu Shuang’s side was also because of him. More importantly, I’m still pure and you…” Wen Wan eyes swept across Hua Zhu Yu’s stomach and her smile deepened meaningfully as she said, “I think he still doesn’t know you were once with child!”
These words were like an arrow piercing Hua Zhu Yu’s heart. It appears Wen Wan had already known the one pregnant was not Dan Hong but her.
“Therefore, he will marry me and I will become the person he loves most.” Seeing Hua Zhu Yu’s increasingly pale complexion, Wen Wan faintly smiled and turned around to leave.
Hua Zhu Yu did not know what else to do but laugh. She felt that she and Wen Wan must’ve been enemies in their past lives. When she was with Xiao Yin, the person in his heart was herWW. When she was by Huangfu Wu Shuang’s side, the person he loved was also her. Today, she was with Ji Feng Li but she was still entangled with Wen Wan.
Ever since she knew that Wen Wan was one of Ji Feng Li’s people, she could understand the hatred Wen Wan had for her and why she always tried to get her killed. That was because she wanted to avenge Ji Feng Li. Today, that hatred did not dissipate even though he was still alive but instead deepened simply because they were in love with the same man.
She looked up at the treetops. The afternoon sunlight pierced through the thick canopy, casting rays of light upon her face, so dazzling that she could not keep her eyes open.
Upon returning to Shun Hua Palace with Long Yu, Hua Zhu Yu saw Dou Qian Jin. He had his hands clasped behind his back as he stood silently at the door, gazing off in the far horizons with a hint of melancholy between his brows.
Hua Zhu Yu had never seen such a solemn expression on Dou Qian Jin’s face and was somewhat surprised.
Hearing their footsteps, Dou Qian Jin turned and saw Hua Zhu Yu approaching, his peach blossom eyes lighting with a hint of delight.
“If I knew that day you were entering the palace, I would have followed you. How are you these days? Getting to see you is even more difficult than ascending the skies. If I hadn’t said it was to bid you goodbye, perhaps the regent would not have agreed so easily,” Dou Qian Jin lamented as he looked down at Hua Zhu Yu, his eyes deep with affection.
Hua Zhu Yu looked at Long Yu and said, “Long Yu, you go first, I have a few words to speak with Prince Rui.”
“This servant shall withdraw.” Long Yu said and entered Shun Hua Palace.
“You’re leaving? When will you depart?” Hua Zhu Yu asked.
Dou Qian Jin laughed softly. “In any case you almost became my Princess Consort. How could you speak so heartlessly?” He asked jokingly with a faint hint of loneliness in his eyes.
Hua Zhu Yu understood his temperament. To be honest, she also hoped he would take Madam Xuan away as soon as possible. Madam Xuan was from Mo Nation, remaining here would ultimately be dangerous.
“You won’t be able to do anything if you continue to stay in Southern Kingdom anyways. It’s better for you to return sooner,” she said with a smile. She knew Dou Qian Jin wanted to take her and Madam Xuan away from here but she didn’t want to leave just yet.
Dou Qian Jin sighed and said, “The preparations have been completed, I will depart tomorrow.”
“That’s best! I will have to bother you to take care of Master Xuan,” Hua Zhu Yu calmly said. Although Madam Xuan said she was her mother, she did not truly believe her story. But no matter what, Madam Xuan was still her master.
“Don’t worry, I will take good care of her, she is my aunt after all,” Dou Qian Jin said with a smile.
“That’s good. I hope Prince Rui has a pleasant journey back.” Hua Zhu Yu was just about to leave when suddenly her wrist bursted with pain. Dou Qian Jin had grabbed her left hand and pulled her close to his chest.
Hua Zhu Yu looked up at Dou Qian Jin. Frowning she asked, “Dou Qian Jin, what do you want to do?”
“Are you determined to stay here without following me? Staying next to Ji Feng Li, won’t you …… regret it? ” Dou Qian Jin asked solemnly, the playful tone in his voice long gone as a look of pity reached his peach blossom eyes.
Hua Zhu Yu looked up at him and said resolutely, “Since I have decided to stay I will not regret it. Thank you prince ….. thank you elder cousin for your concern.”
After the words “elder cousin” were spoken, a complicated look fleeted across his eyes and he slowly let go of Hua Zhu Yu. His lips curved into a faint smile and he said, “If you have decided, I have no other choice. I can only bid you farewell here. But you must stay vigilant in this palace. If anything happens, Eastern Yan will always welcome you.” With that said, he turned around and left.
Hua Zhu Yu watched as his figure slowly disappeared from view as an indescribable feeling surged in her heart. Was he really her elder cousin?
Returning to the palace hall, she saw that the servants had already served the evening meal. The table was filled with all her favorite dishes. Smiling, Long Yu passed her the bowl of rice and said, “Prince treats Miss Bao so well. These dishes were specially made by the imperial kitchen at the request of the Prince. When Prince has the time, he would even go to the kitchen himself to make it for Miss.”
Startled, Hua Zhu Yu stared at the food on the table. Although Ji Feng Li was busy to the point that she rarely saw him, she could feel his concern for her as well as his protection. Everything she ate and used were all prepared under his orders, all of the best quality.
Later on the night as Hua Zhu Yu fell asleep she had a dream. In that dream were many interwoven scenes. But the one thing they all had in common was the poignant redness of the background. She saw the scenes of the snow capped mountains of Lian Yun dyed in red. She saw herself in the red tent as Da Qi attacked her. She saw herself holding a knife and stabbing at Ji Feng Li’s chest on the execution grounds.
There were countless voices ringing by her ear in constant succession.
In a low voice, Hua Mu said, “You must be his Empress.”
Wen Wan coldly smiled as she said, “He will never marry you!”
Ji Feng Li said in a faint voice, “I want to forget you.”
At last the skies filled with a bloody red glow, a tragic sight to one’s eyes.
She screamed out in horror, “No! No! Why?”
Instantly, she was awakened. She could feel the dampness coming from her pillow. She did not expect herself to cry in her dreams. Just as she was about to raise her hand to wipe her tears she realized that her hand was locked in the warm hold of another.
At an unknown time, Ji Feng Li had entered her room and was currently sitting next to her.