I stiffly look at him for a long time, then reach out to poke at the wounded spot on his shoulder without any hesitance, after seeing him slightly furrow his brows, I ask: “Eldest Cousin, does it hurt?”
Yuwen Rui’s brows very quickly loosens, he plainly smiles and says: “What do you think?”
I watch the clean, snow-white outer robe dye red, like a stunningly beautiful plum blossom, causing me to squint my eyes into a bright smile, “So pretty.”
Yuwen Rui plainly laughs, that long and slender finger lightly knocking against my forehead, “Where has this little bratty lass come from? Not caring about my injury and instead looking very happy.”
I turn my face away, smilingly saying: “It’s Cousin’s injury, of course Cousin would care about it more.”
Yuwen Rui falls silent upon hearing this, then turns my face to him and attentively looks at me, he suddenly smiles, those brown eyes dazzling like a crystal under the sunlight, “What’s this, angry?”
I pull his hand down, seriously saying, “What’s there to be angry about, what Cousin does is always correct.”
“Oh~” He stretches his word, suddenly lowering his head to knock his forehead against me, “It’s been half a month since I last sent you grapes, miss it?”
“What’s there to miss.” My voice is especially sincere, “I’ve eaten peaches, oranges and pears.”
“Of course.” I smile at him, “Specially sent by Imperial Sister and Seventh Brother.”
He lightly raises his brows, “Taste nicer than grapes?”
I shake my head, “No.”
He plainly says: “Then don’t force yourself, don’t eat it.”
I shake my head again, “Doesn’t taste nicer than grapes, but Imperial Sister had said, just keep eating and eating like that ah, and I will get used to it.”
Yuwen Rui’s eyes slightly darkens, “En?”
I jump down from his lap, looking left and right, asking: “Cousin, where’s the medicine?”
“In the cabinet, next to the bed.” His voice as calm as ever.
I dutifully take the medical cream and long pieces of fabric, then come back, gently taking off his clothing and busy myself with the wound on his shoulder.
Yuwen Rui leaves me to fiddle around with unfamiliar movements, suddenly hooking an arm around my waist as he says: “Your actions sure can be considered methodical, looks like I did a good job teaching you that time.”
I don’t raise my head, continuing to busy myself, “Hurts.”
Yuwen Rui lets out a soft chuckle, “That’s true, hurts, that’s why to this day you haven’t forgotten.”
Yuwen Rui is speaking of a painful experience in my childhood, at that time, I don’t know how a fine rope was able to slash a big cut into my hand, I didn’t even feel anything when it happened, but after it happened, I froze upon seeing the blood oozing out and flowing down, inwardly cursing that it really is true that ‘the ten fingers are connected to the heart’, not to mention it was the palm of my hand that was cut, hence the pain being even more difficult to bear.
Yuwen Rui who was still a weak teenager at the time, had already succeeded in practicing a whole body of firm and calm bearing, he helped me treat my wound with not a trace of panic in him, and had even leisurely explained to me whilst carrying out the treatment, what to do when met with a situation like this. And so, I who was still a clueless little girl at that time, did not cry nor make a fuss as I leave my hand to feel the pain, looking serious as I listen to his explanation.
I believe his actions were extremely right, regarding some matters, it is better to learn it yourself, because no one can always be there for you when you’re injured.
One can only rely on themselves, when it comes treating their wound.
I wasn’t particularly gentle nor particularly delicate as I help wrap his wounds in a not particularly well-done dressing, then pat his shoulder and say in a boorish voice: “A tough man.”
Yuwen Rui heartily laughs, “Don’t tell me it was my father again who told you this?”
I nod, “Uncle said, wounded men are tough men.”
“Then today I can be considered a tough man for once, what a great thing to celebrate.” Yuwen Rui ridicules, standing up and uses his slightly cold left hand to pull me towards the bed, “Lie here with me for a bit.”
I tug at his sleeve and strictly say: “Cousin, Royal Tutor Guan says, men and women are not to be intimate.”
Yuwen Rui’s response was a plain glance at me, then picks up my back collar with ease and throws me into bed, “I say, cousin and cousin are to be intimate.”
I nestle into the clean scented soft beddings, closing my eyes in comfort. When Yuwen Rui lies down beside me, I open my eyes and ask: “Cousin, what’s the fragrance you use?”
Yuwen Rui lazily look at me, “I thought you would never ask.”
I say nothing, only looking at him with big eyes.
He faintly hooks up the corners of his lips, gentle and warm radiance flashing in his long and fine eyes, “You like it?”
I blink my eyes twice, signalling that’s right.
He half narrows his fox eyes and leisurely smiles, “Then I shall even more so not tell you.”
I speechlessly bury my face into the pillow, muffled voice saying: “Sleeping.”
Yuwen Rui issues a few sounds of laughter, then I feel an arm on my waist, without using much strength, it hooks me into his chest, and I instantly breathe in the refreshing after-bath air.
I hear him speak up.
“Liking one thing is enough, no need to think about getting used to other things.” A plain and cold voice, seeming to hide quite a bit of possessiveness within.
I just comfortably close my eyes, sinking into sleep.
I had a dream.
In that dream, there was green grasslands, tall trees, blue skies, clear and crisp sounds of singing birds, fragrant soil and fresh water trickling down the river. I point at the slowly walk thing on the ground, saying to Yuwen Xiu: “Seventh Brother, say, what is this thing?”
Yuwen Xiu’s pale skin is rosy red after exercising, he wraps an arms around my shoulder and says in an adult-like manner: “Oh, this ah, this is a tortoise.”
“That’s right ah.” Yuwen Xiu’s pretty peach blossom eyes were filled with energy, “Look, it has a shell, as long as you touch it, its arms and legs will shrink inside, so cowardly.”
I fall silent, then blankly let out two words, “B*stard.” (The original term used here is wáng bā / 王八 – a common name for tortoises, but it is also a widely used curse word, the closest English translation would be bastard)
“Ah?” Yuwen Xiu suddenly pauses, “What did you say?”
“B*stard.” I answer.
“What bastard? This is clearly a tortoise!” Yuwen Xiu adamantly denies it.
I lazily say: “Eldest Uncle clearly said this is a b*stard.”
Yuwen Xiu was put in an awkward spot, “How could a girl say such word, you remember now, this is a tortoise, tortoise!”
“It’s a tortoise!!”
At this time, Imperial Sister comes running over from afar, crying out, “Egg!” (wáng bā / 王八 + dàn / 蛋 (egg) = wáng bā dàn / 王八蛋, a tortoise egg, the egg or child of a tortoise in this context would make it a son of a ___)
Dark clouds casts over Yuwen Xiu’s face, I am hit with fits of laughter inside, Imperial Sister, that sure was a timely input from you.
“Ke Zi, what are you saying, you?” Yuwen Xiu was starting to go mad.
“Egg ah.” Imperial Sister spreads her hand as though presenting a treasure, in her hand is an egg, “Look at this, I just picked it up from the small stream, the geese here are all laying eggs everywhere! Seventh Brother, what were you saying just now?”
I glance at Yuwen Xiu, firmly speaking, “Tortoise b*stard egg.”
Yuwen Xiu is pulled away by Imperial Sister to go picking goose eggs, I squat down and poke at the tortoise on the ground, watching it shrink its four limbs into the hard tortoise shell time and time again, preventing every possible harm it could suffer. I think of Yuwen Xiu’s words just now, tortoises are cowardly?
I raise my brows, from what I see, how is its actions not a type of perfect plan.
“Ah-Lan.” The pleasant-sounding teenager’s voice sounds beside my ear, then I had been lifted in someone’s arms, “I found a hundred-year-old tree, let me take you to have a look.”
I hold the tortoise and hold it against Yuwen Rui’s elegantly refined handsome face, “Cousin, look at this.”
“En?” He plainly smiles, “What about it?”
I use the tortoise to compare his face with, “Eldest Uncle said this looks just like you.”
Yuwen Rui’s face remains unfazed, saying disapprovingly: “Well if it isn’t right, both are birthed by him.”
I immediately bow to the ground with great respect, this guy is indeed of a different level to his father.
I follow Yuwen Rui to the tree, that huge tree has luxuriant branches, the trunk so big, it’ll probably take four people to hug it, it is a rare cool spot in the hot summer, him and I sit leaning against the tree, occasionally pulling out a few grasses to put in our mouth. The breeze hitting our faces, carries the summer heat and energy, I comfortably close my eyes, lazily yawning.
“This weather sure is suited for sleeping.” Yuwen Rui holds a grass in his mouth as he leisurely says this, “Ah-Lan, you tired?”
I mumble: “En.”
Yuwen Rui pats the grass, revealing a rare radiant smile, looking in particularly dazzling to the eyes in summer, “Then let’s sleep.”
Yuwen Rui and I cling together as we lie on the grass, smelling the fresh green grass and soil, our consciousness very quickly blurring, I faintly think, days like this, doesn’t seem bad.
I suddenly open my eyes, the beautiful scene from just now had already disappeared without a trace, here, there is no blue skies nor hot summer days, only has countless secrets and scheming. I lower my eyes rather sadly, Yuwen Xiu, are you……preparing to leave?
Days like that, will never come again.
Just as I was wallowing in dejection, I feel warm air softly hitting my face, and only then did I realise, my entire body has shrunk into Yuwen Rui’s arms, his soundly sleeping face extremely close to mine, an expression of comfort. His thick eyelashes pointing down, covering that pair of cold eyes, I abruptly give rise to a sense of justice, slowly extending my hand to him, ready to eliminate his beautiful eyelashes for my vast number of female comrades. Just that plans can never keep up with changes, especially this sudden plan that had just sprouted from me.
Yuwen Rui suddenly makes a move, his handsome face shifting down, and my guilty hand was put aside, then, I feel something warm and dry skim over my cheek. I freeze, immediately locking my eyes onto Yuwen Rui’s face, wanting to find any clues that shows he’s pretending to sleep, but what I see is just his peacefully sleeping eyes, delicate and gentle.
After a moment of consideration, I once again outstretch my wicked claw, resolutely reaching towards this man, just that, the plan is once again stopped.
Someone knocks on the door outside, quietly and respectfully saying: “Gentleman, this subordinate has important matters to report.”
Yuwen Rui’s thick lashes lightly flutters, followed by the slow opening of his eyes, revealing a pair of clear and bright pupils, “Ah-Lan.”
I glare at him.
“Your eyes are about to fall out.” He very lightly says, yet those long and fine fox eyes are flashing with wickedness.
I want nothing more than to pull his eyelashes off before I get off this bed, heng, this guy was definitely faking it just now.
Behind me, Yuwen Rui lowly laughs, then says: “Come on in.”
The one knocking on the door is Mu Yi, he smiles at me, greeting: “Princess.” Then turns around to close the doors and walks up to the table, saying to Yuwen Rui: “Gentleman, we have news.”
Yuwen Rui raises the teacup and elegantly takes a sip, “En?”
Mu Yi is not at all wary of me, slowly saying, “We’ve just received news from our spies, Yun Zhan and Yun Ze are both not very peaceful today.”
Yuwen Rui lowers his eyes, “En.”
“Yun Zhan is going through a change of hands, Yun Zhan’s former emperor has passed away in his palace yesterday, the original crown prince – Second Prince – has also been forced to step down, Eldest Prince – He Lian Chen – is set to become the new emperor.”
Yuwen Rui places the teacup down, “Father had said He Lian Chen is definitely not one with no ambition, nor one willing to be subject of another, this is indeed not false.”
“Yun Ze is currently in chaos, rumours say that Yun Ze’s Third Prince that died in our kingdom back then has already made his return, Yun Ze Emperor and Empress are vying for power in the shadows, on the surface, the Royal Uncle’s (Empress’ brother) faction and the Prime Minister faction are even more so resorting to war, one side hailing Third Prince, one side supporting the Empress’ child.”
“A day like this has finally arrived.” Yuwen Rui quietly mutters, “Tell them to continue monitoring, immediately report any news.”
Mu Yi nods, “This subordinate shall obey your command.”
I sit at the table, head lowered in disinterest, but inside, I feel uncomfortable as though knocking down a bottle of sauce.
“Gentleman, also-“ Just as Mu Yi had spoken up, he was cut off but the sudden opening of the doors, a young lass hurriedly runs in, looking at Yuwen Rui and loudly saying: “Gentleman, is your injury alright?”
“Ling Xian Er!” Behind her, Ling Zhi comes running in with furrowed brows, angrily scolding: “Where has your manners gone?! I told you Gentleman is currently discussing important matters!”
“I’m only worried about Gentleman’s condition!” Ling Xian Er rebuts in a louder voice, then stretches out her hand to point at me, crying out: “Since Gentleman is discussing important matters, then why can this maid be here?!”