Fan Xian chuckled mischievously, not refuting anything as he stroked his fiancée's hand in his own. Although he had lived two lives as a virgin, he was of a generation influenced by Japanese porn actor Taka Kato, and Lin Wan'er would no doubt find his tricks hard to resist. The young lady began to feel nervous, and shifted uneasily where she sat . Fan Xian summoned up the nerve to ask. "Or you could lay in my arms?"
"My big brother is really smart." Fan Sizhe sat in the carriage, not willing to get out. He hated how many mosquitoes there were in the grass. He sighed in admiration as he watched the couple at the side of the lake from a distance. "He has only just met my future sister-in-law, and now they're sitting down together. Maybe in a little while, they'll consummate the marriage ahead of schedule?"
Fan Ruoruo giggled. Although she knew about his brother's secret visits to Wan'er's bedchamber, she didn't know quite how often he had visited her, so as she looked upon the scene, she also felt some measure of surprise and awe.
"Go help unload things." Ruoruo cuffed Fan Sizhe around the ear and laughed. "I don't want to get the guards to do it."
Fan Sizhe stared at her. "Then what are those people here for?"
Fan Ruoruo smiled. "They're servant girls, but they're not as strong as you."
For some reason, as soon as he saw Fan Ruoruo's delicate smile, Fan Sizhe felt an inexplicable fear. He obediently climbed down from the carriage and began helping the dainty servant girls unload. It was no wonder that Fan Ruoruo wanted him to help. Fan Xian had brought quite a number of things on this vacation. It took Fan Sizhe and the servant girls quite a long time to unload them all.
Fan Sizhe wiped the sweat from his brow, and yelled across the lake. "Big brother! The things are all unloaded. Which ones are yours?"
Sitting by the lakeside, Fan Xian heard his yell and clapped his hand to his head as he realized what was going on. Embarrassed, he apologized to Wan'er, stood up, and brushed the bits of grass from his buttocks. He walked to the carriage and began to give orders to organize things.
After he had settled in the capital, his grandmother had sent along all the things he had left in Danzhou, so they had all come into use that day. There were three handmade tents, a metal barbecue rack, some large-eyed metal mesh netting, and bags and pots of pepper, cumin, salt and so on. There were some bamboo rods, eggs, fish, radishes, a big block of tofu, and a bag of charcoal; in short, everything one needed for a barbecue.
The servant girls pointed at a pile of rags with curiosity. "What's this?"
"Tents," explained Fan Xian kindly.
The servant girls were intrigued. "Is this what the military uses?"
Fan Xian smiled. "In the evening, we can watch the stars by the lakeside." Seeing his kindly and handsome smile and the gentleness in his eyes, the servant girls were no longer inquisitive; they bashfully turned their faces away and left.
After starting a fire with some of the charcoal, someone came over to take over duties. Fan Xian moved a lump of stone over by the metal mesh, carefully smeared it with soy paste and other ingredients, and speared some fish onto a bamboo skewer. A faint sweet scent arose with the charcoal fire. He sniffed and looked over at Wan'er, who sat alone on the far side of the lake. He smiled gently and made sure not to make the flavor too strong as he cooked three skewers of fish. Giving a skewer to his brother and his sister, he walked over to the lakeside and sat down by Lin Wan'er.
"Take this," he said with a warm smile.
Lin Wan'er looked at him with suspicion. Was his skill that great? Taking it, she carefully bit off a piece and chewed it slowly. Gradually, her eyes lit up, and she looked at Fan Xian and laughed, but stopped short of praising him. She began gobble it down, but the fish was too hot. She begrudgingly spat
it out, extending her scalded tongue and fanning her mouth with her hand, panting.
It was very cute. Truly adorable… Loveable.
Fan Xian looked at her plump lips, and for some reason, he remembered the chicken leg, when they had first run into each other at the Temple of Qing. "Chen'er," he teased her, "I've brought you no end of chicken legs over the past few days. How can you still be hungry?"
Lin Wan'er slapped his face, furious. "If I knew you could cook this well, I wouldn't have eaten your cold chicken legs."
Fan Xian laughed, almost tumbling backwards. His fiancée definitely had some spirit in her. Sometimes, she was timid, lowering her head and not daring to speak; at other times, she had a temper, her illness-weakened body suddenly like that of a tiger cub. In a word, she was cute; indeed, she was very kawaii.
Lin Wan'er gazed into the distance and saw that the barbecue stall had become busier than the lakeside; Fan Sizhe had already eaten his fish, and had set about ordering the servant girls to roast some corncobs. Only Ruoruo was eating gracefully, eating as she strolled around the side of the forest. It wasn't clear whether she was looking at the scenery or thinking about something.
Her gaze fell upon the pile of things that had been unloaded from the carriage. Lin Wan'er increasingly felt that there was something rather queer about her fiancé. "In the past few years, we usually ate at the villa, and I've never seen the servant girls so happy... I've never seen so many strange things as the ones you've brought today."
Fan Xian smiled as he explained. "Although they're servant girls, they are servant girls who have spent their days with you in luxury. How many of them have ever really cooked food? The food from this barbecue might not necessarily taste better, but the feeling of doing something by yourself is different, and your taste buds react in a different way too."
"Taste buds?" Lin Wan'er was a little confused, and she stared at Fan Xian with wide eyes.
"Our tongues have these little things on them that help us taste flavors." Fan Xian knew this was a difficult thing to explain clearly. After all, the naked eye wasn't as good as a microscope. "That's why the back of the tongue tastes bitterness, and the front of the tongue tastes sweetness," he explained.
Lin Wan'er laughed. "It's clear that you were Master Fei's student, seeing how you have knowledge of such things."
When he heard her mention Fei Jie, Fan Xian felt uneasy. He had a good teacher-student relationship with him, and he had been in the capital for a number of months now. Even Chen Pingping had returned to the city; why wasn't Fei Jie willing to come back? It didn't seem right. He put the matter out of his mind, and caught Wan'er's admiring gaze. Fan Xian set up a small barbecue just for the two of them, picked up a few ingredients, and they cooked and ate some food. Of course, most of the cooking was done by Fan Xian, and most of the eating was done by Lin Wan'er.
Caught in the aroma, fiancé and fiancée relished eating the charcoal-grilled food .
"Hm, I've never seen these seasonings before." Lin Wan'er extended the tip of her tender tongue and licked a sesame seed from the corner of her mouth. She sighed contentedly. "It smells wonderful."
"You're joking. We have plenty of sesame seeds, and this cumin wasn't easy to find." Fan Xian wondered if any of the things he'd brought to the holiday villa would have been available if he did not have a good relationship with the shopkeepers at Qingyu Hall. "If you like, you can eat it every day after we’re married."
Lin Wan'er's face changed quickly - of course, it hadn't changed into a hostile expression, but she had gotten into the habit of bashfully lowering her head when she heard the word "marriage". But today the situation felt inappropriate. There was some grease on her lips, and a little on her nose. How could she look at this young boy when she looked like she'd been pilfering food from her family's kitchen?
Fan Xian laughed when he looked at her face. She wasn't an especially beautiful girl, but for some reason, in his eyes, he felt like he could find nothing wrong with her, like there was nothing about her appearance that wasn't adorable. Seeing him laugh at her, Lin Wan'er seemed like she was about to angrily pounce at him. Fan Xian quickly spread his arms wide to feed this tiger.
Meanwhile, far away on the other side of the lake, a large tree that had grown out of the waters just happened to obstruct the servant girls' view. Fan Xian thought that he could take her into his arms out in the open, but to his surprise Wan'er looked embarrassed, and forcibly stopped herself from falling into Fan Xian's embrace.
Fan Xian couldn't help but shake his head. He took a handkerchief and wetted it with some lake water, and then returned to sit next to Lin Wan'er. He stared at her face, and carefully dabbed at the ash stains on her nose and her chin.
The two were very close to each other, and feeling his husbandly tenderness and his concentrated gaze, Lin Wan'er began to feel nervous, and tightly grasped the hem of her skirt. Fan Xian noticed that she was nervous and was momentarily at a loss. He paused with the moist handkerchief on her cheek, and their gazes met. It was as if their breaths were interweaved together, their chests moving up and down at the same speed, gradually quickening.
But their thoughts were not the same as their actions. Fan Xian said nothing, and lowered his head... to kiss her on the brow.
Lin Wan'er was startled and embarrassed, but faintly disappointed. But she was unable to cover up her faint disappointment, as Fan Xian's lips had stopped the mouth she was preparing to rebuke him with - wet, soft, fragrant and sweet.
"Aiya!" Fan Xian found that she had bitten his bottom lip. He quickly stood up to move his lips away from the scene of the crime.
He stared at her, but found that Wan'er had a smile on her face. Her smile was like spring sunshine, and on the lake that they sat by, the ripples flowed gently along the mirror-like surface, moving them deeply. It was adorable how she seemed to be trying not to smile, showing front teeth as white as pearls... and it was adorable how she bit her bottom lip.
Fan Xian was moved, and summoning his remaining courage, he drew his fiancée into an embrace, not allowing her to escape, his fingers softly stroking her cheek. "My little tiger," he said softly, "watch out, or I shall devour you."
Lin Wan'er's body went rigid in his embrace, her eyes like lakes in spring, still bewildered and flattered. She bit her bottom lip and looked at him. "I don't feel well," she said, "could you go?"