With Yuwen Rui’s mentioning of returning to the palace, I count the days, indeed, it is about time I go back.
Within the one month I’ve come out, I’ve missed out on the uproarious assassination incident in the palace, and met the many people in the Meng Estate, went through some considerably interesting events, and now, I must return to that dull imperial palace, filled with huge secrets.
I look at my reflection in the mirror, reaching out to it and lightly drawing a streak across my eyes. This face I have seen for two lifetimes, one life of candidness and no worries, one life of dullness and no expression. I suddenly think of a phrase: those that blend into society, will always, ultimately return what they’ve received.
After tasting too much sweetness, when the bitterness arrives, my level of resistance, becomes so weak.
“What are you looking at?” Yuwen Rui walks up behind me, his ice-cold finger touching my face. The tone in his voice had always been on the colder side, even in the roasting hot summer days, it still carries refreshing coolness.
“Looking at myself.” I flatly reply, “Ah-Lan, isn’t good-looking.” I’ve already said that I’m special before, within the royal family that only gives birth to handsome men and beautiful women, I am an oddity.
Yuwen Rui chuckles, “Not good-looking? Then what is considered good-looking, and what isn’t considered good-looking?”
I seriously uncurl my fingers, counting along one by one, “Eldest Cousin is good-looking, Seventh Cousin is good-looking, Imperial Sister is good-looking. Ah-Lan, not good-looking.”
Yuwen Rui suddenly holds me and turns me around, eye meet eye as he looks at me and says: “Then, how do you know you’re not good-looking?”
I very disdainfully say to him: “Cousin, it’s not like I’m stupid, how could I not know?”
Yuwen Rui’s face very slightly twitches, but then his thin lips faintly hooks up, long and fine fox eyes half narrows as he says: “Eh, en, you’re right. You’re not stupid, so how could you not know? Say, isn’t that correct?”
I just look at him without saying anything, this guy, his final lines of questioning clearly holds underlying meanings.
“Ah-Lan.” He intimately rests his forehead against my forehead, with the distance between us, we can feel one another’s warm breaths, “Are you afraid of me?”
Upon hearing this, I very seriously answer: “Afraid.”
Yuwen Rui’s smile stiffens, a very faint cold light flashes past his eyes, “Very well, you are indeed Ah-Lan, my one and only Ah-Lan, the forever honest Ah-Lan.” The big hand around my waist tightens, followed by that deep and gentle voice that once again sounds, “But do you still remember the words I’ve said to you, I said, I want you to be unafraid of me.”
I lower my eyes, unafraid?
Sorry, I am a person, a very normal person, I can control my strong conscious thoughts, but cannot possibly control the avoidance coming from the depths of my heart.
Yuwen Rui, to this very day, I still cannot forget the suffocating feeling from your ice-cold hand tightly clenching my throat.
That is a type of feeling called fear and despair in face of death, you made me once again become aware that, turns out, the person closest to me, can actually smash me into even smaller pieces.
“Eldest Cousin.” I push away his chest, creating a slight distance between us, I very seriously say: “Ah-Lan is afraid of you, that’s why, you stay further away from Ah-Lan, alright?”
Yuwen Rui’s expression instantly darkens, but immediately restores its original faint smile. His prettily thin lips slowly opens, firmly spitting out two words, “No, way.”
I dejectedly look down, “Ah, it’s still useless.” I seem to can’t possibly hope for any other answer coming from his mouth.
Yuwen Rui lowly chuckles, but it does not carry any happiness within, the hand on my waist exerts a bit of strength, and I am thus buried into his chest. Breathed into my nose is still his pleasant-smelling clean and fresh scent, one that intoxicates yet also awakens the senses, Yuwen Rui, is far too dangerous.
“Ah-Lan.” Yuwen Rui runs his hand over my hair, stroke after stroke, his voice gentle yet hides domination within, “Anyone may fear me, only you cannot.”
I close my eyes and ignore him. Yuwen Rui, do you have any idea, the one I don’t wish to fear the most, is you?
Tightening his embrace, and lowly, as though vowing, he says: “There will be one day, you will no longer fear me.”
I think to myself, should there really be that day, then it would mean, you and I have become the same type of person.
Because, you – Yuwen Rui, will never change for anyone.
“Aiyo, I say, Gentleman, the sedan is already ready, why are you still holding Princess? A little later and the skies will darken, dark with no light, should anything happen, it will be hard to take care of ah.” Such nagging, such charm, such nonsense, no need to guess, other than that tomboy – Ling Zhi – who else could it be?
Yuwen Rui’s body makes a move, and then lets go, “Ah-Lan, go return to the palace now.”
I nod and stand up, leaving him to hold my hand as we head out.
En, return to the palace.
Returning to the palace —— is like flowers falling to the ground, that’s called absolutely quiet. That remote palace hall of mine is even colder than before, even though the clean chairs and table tells everyone someone had been dutifully cleaning every day, it is still ever so quiet, ever so lacking in liveliness.
I longingly stroke my bed, sighing and thinking, turns out quietness is such a comfortable thing.
“Princess, having stayed outside for so long, do you instead feel unaccustomed to this place?” Xi Xi ambiguously asks.
I bury myself into the blankets, “Mm, it’s fine.”
“Then, having stayed outside for so long, do you instead not feel close to Xi Xi anymore?” Xi Xi’s voice seems to be relaying a, bad mood, this is.
At the right moment, I reveal my face and smile at her, “Mm, Xi Xi is indeed the best.”
Upon hearing this, Xi Xi smiles in satisfaction, her movements light and nimble as she heads out the doors, “May Princess wait a moment, this servant shall go to the imperial kitchen and ask them to prepare some snacks.”
I watch her distancing back figure and lay on top of the blankets, faintly smiling, see, Xi Xi is such an adorable young woman, even if she’s a spy planted next to me by Yuwen Rui, she is still a loyal and diligent spy.
I close my eyes, thinking back to the tone in Yuwen Rui’s voice before, then, I laugh.
In my memory before the age of ten, he has always been so gentle and approachable, despite his occasional black-belly acts, occasional pranks, occasional bad doings, I have always thought, this is a handsome male that is pure at heart, that’s right, I grew attached to him, attached to his intimacy towards me, attached to that long absent pampering.
Then, then something happened that made my gradually deepening attachment to him come to an abrupt end.
I just so unintentionally came across the scene of him murdering someone, I clearly remember that beautiful day of light breeze and warm sun, I clearly remember that handsome and cultured youngster in white, I clearly remember that type of cold and brutal expression on his face as the fresh blood contaminates his beautiful brocade robes, and, before him, that pained, that distorted face of a young man.
I remember that young man being a fellow he had just taken in, his appearance very elegant and very pleasing, but right now he became so hideous, so ugly.
And then, my face, also becomes as ugly as his, or perhaps, even uglier than his.
I blankly look at that face before me, still gentle but carries a touch of evil, hearing him softly say: “Ah-Lan, you saw everything, right? Saw everything?”
I say nothing in response, nor could I possibly respond to him, my neck is seized with raw pain, my thoughts starts to run wild, I could even disturbingly see Yan You’s face, hear An Qing’s soft voice saying to me:
“An Ran, Yan You and I are together now.”
I suddenly laugh, turns out everlasting and unchanging are all f*cking bullsh*t, turns out sincere doting love are all f*cking white lies.
An Qing betrayed me, Yan You betrayed me, now, even Yuwen Rui wishes to kill me.
I find it all so laughable, turns out in both lifetimes, I will have died in what I had thought was doting love.
An Ke Lan you are just a f*cking idiot, in this life, you are also an idiot.
Yet it was in this moment that Yuwen Rui suddenly loosens his hold, caressing my face as he strangely asks: “Ah-Lan, who are you looking at, who are you thinking of, what are you laughing at? Is it you, is it me, or is it someone else?”
I look at his face feeling very powerless, I mumble to myself, “You, and them, what difference is there?”
That’s right, Yuwen Rui, you and them, what difference is there at all?
Yuwen Rui also laughs, lowly, happily, his interests aroused, “Ah-Lan, how could I bear to kill you, you’re so interesting.”
I indifferently think, I’m so interesting, that’s why, he cannot bear to. And that was how the later happenings came about, the happening of me knowing him, the happening of him continuing to be meticulously gentle, the happening of the vaguely growing feeling of alienation in my heart.
Yuwen Rui, your secret that requires me bearing it with you, I have already done so. But you wanting me to no longer fear you, I am incapable of doing.
Like that of shattered glass, wanting to recover its original state, is such a difficult task, practically impossible.
Yet you said to me: Ah-Lan, there is nothing I cannot do.
I bury myself into the blanket, sleepiness was just gradually getting to my head, but when I had almost sank into dreamland, the door is suddenly pushed open with a sound of “peng”, and Imperial Sister’s rare sound of unsteady voice is heard, “Ah-Lan, Ah-Lan, you get up now! Not allowed to sleep!”
I was immediately shaken awake, helplessly raising my head to see her beautiful face, “Imperial Sister, what’ve you come for?”
“What’ve I come for? What’ve I come for?” Imperial Sister’s face is filled with great shock and great anger, “You tell me what went on with you, how did a fine person like yourself get lost? Oh how much worry you have caused!”
I dully laugh and say: “Imperial Sister, are you concerned about me now?”
Imperial Sister pouts, “Who’s concerned about you ah, I’m concerned Seventh Brother would suffer Eldest Cousin’s wrath! Heng, as if I’d be concerned about a fool like you! Stupid fool!”
I’m thinking ah, Imperial Sister, where has your usual dainty image gone, to reveal your true nature like this, what to do if anyone else sees this ah……“Imperial Sister, has someone offered a marriage proposal to you again?”
Imperial Sister’s expression instantly turns extremely gloomy, she habitually holds my hand and says: “Ah-Lan, this time it’s the eldest prince of Yun Zhan, He Lian Chen, but, I still haven’t got that feeling.”
In fact, I really want to lecture her, child, what kind of age is this, and you’re still thinking of feelings this and feelings that? What kind of a thing is feelings? It is a thing called love. But what kind of a thing is love? There is no such thing as love!
This plaything called love is like ghosts, those that heard of it are many, those that have witnessed it are little.
Imperial Sister’s eyes appear slightly dejected, “Ah-Lan, say, why is he still so aloof and indifferent, even when others are proposing marriage to me, he does not panic, it’s like he doesn’t care about me at all.”
I of course know she is speaking of Seventh Brother, Imperial Sister, it’s not that Seventh Brother doesn’t care about you, just that the type of care he holds is not the type you want.
“Ah-Lan, Seventh Brother was so nice to me when we were younger, but why did he change? Back then he said he will marry me, wanting me to be his only wife, but, but now he has forgotten it all.” Imperial Sister’s tone is so soft, her body wrapped in a thin blanket of sorrow.
I quietly look at her, Imperial Sister, you say Seventh Brother has changed, but have you ever thought, perhaps the current Seventh Brother, has long not been Seventh Brother.
Just as Imperial Sister and I engage in our lady talk, the doors are once again pushed open, followed by a handsome man of great stature walking up to us both, those long peach blossom eyes faintly looking at me as he asks: “Little fool, you’ve finally returned, so was it fun out there?”
I am rendered speechless, Seventh Brother, I was not out on a trip, I have returned after getting lost, is this not what you’re speaking of?
We’re starting to touch upon the deeper issues here: the reason why Ah-Lan remains on alert around Yuwen Rui despite how close they are; Ah-Lan’s past life; Yuwen Xiu’s secret……
Does this change your feelings about Yuwen Rui??