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Chapter 87: Pillow Talk
Fan Jian frowned, putting down the bowl of stewed fruits he was holding; it seemed that it was warm enough to have burned his hand. "I am not speaking on behalf of Lady Liu. While person she found seemed to follow her command, they were acting under the orders of the palace. Lady Liu is merely a scapegoat in this matter."

"Who in the palace wants me dead?" asked Fan Xian, frowning. "Why do they want me dead? Could it be that they know that I am the son of the Ye family?"
"Of course they don't know that!" For some reason, Count Sinan had become unusually agitated. His right hand gripped the armrest of the chair. "Of those who know about this, no one wishes to harm you. If there were someone who wanted to harm you, that would not be the reason why."
"You mean to say that there has never been anyone in the entire capital who knows about the relationship between my mother and my father? If those people know about that relationship, then why would no one suspect that a bastard son is the child of the Ye family?"
Fan Xian was filled with doubt as he pondered this question. He felt his blood run cold. After having found all this out, it seemed that there were more important questions, but he didn’t them. "So then why?" he asked quietly. "Four years ago, I was a twelve-year-old boy, living far away in Danzhou, and I had no connection to anything going on in the capital."
"Four years ago was also when His Majesty accepted Miss Lin as his adopted daughter, and when she was betrothed to be married. At the time, His Majesty decided that you would be the one to handle royal business, and it then that you were first mentioned at the court. Seeing a twelve-year-old boy being put in charge of such a direct source of wealth, what do you think the nobles and the palace might choose?"
"They'd choose to do away with me as neatly as possible."
"The Overwatch Council had already found out four years ago, but unfortunately they had no proof, so there was nothing that they could do about them."
Fan Xian laughed. "Even if they had proof, perhaps the reason they did nothing was because the Overwatch Council were bureaucrats, and those people were nobles."
Fan Jian nodded.
"Who is it who wants to kill me?"
"The empress dowager and the eldest princess," Count Sinan answered with a smile. "But since you already survived to adulthood and came to the capital, I believe it has given them courage again. They also cannot risk the Emperor's wrath by moving against you."
"You're too optimistic," Fan Xian said sorrowfully. "Even if they killed me, how could the Emperor even do anything to his wife and his little sister?"
Fan Jian did not respond, instead changing the subject. "Recently, it's been obvious that Crown Prince Jing has wanted to get closer to you, and you must also think of a way to meet with the Second Prince. Tread lightly when doing that.
Fan Xian agreed. He knew that every great house in the capital, actively or passively, had to take a clear stand on this issue. Princes fought over the right to inherit the realm. Although one seemingly had a number of cheap tricks, whether it was in this world or the previous world, the story was always the same: Once the curtains were raised, the actors would all make their appearance on the stage, and their weapons were either their blades or their words. They played their part for others to see, and for themselves - if Fan Manor wished to remain impartial, and close to the Emperor, it would have to make great efforts to do so.
Late that night, Count Sinan sat alone on the imperial tutor's chair, eating his now-cold stewed fruit and thinking on what Fan Xian had said. He thought of the painful price that he himself had once paid, and the corner of his mouth twitched. He thought of the terrifying bloody scenes that occurred in that month of violence. On that

dark and secret night, the Empress Dowager's father had trembled at the point of his blade, and he had beheaded him himself. The head had rolled across the floor. Seemingly recalling the sound that it had made, Count Sinan's mouth turned to a gentle smile.
Over the next few days, Fan Xian was at ease, enjoying his status as the eldest son in the manor. Occasionally he would slip away to Dongchuan Road to see how far the bookstore had come with its preparations. And the bookseller, also named Ye, had gradually warmed to him, doing everything that he said, and so Mr. Cui, the family advisor, had returned to Count Sinan's side. And every other evening, Fan Xian would slip away to the courtyard of the imperial palace, climbing over the wall on his familiar path. But now, the window was no longer closed, and the chicken-leg girl was always quietly waiting for him.
He did not go there because he was driven by romantic passion, but because Lin Wan'er's illness would not let her go any further. The palace men were blockheads, but thankfully, after the imperial physicians had received a number of bribes from Count Sinan's estate, they were eventually willing to admit that giving the princess a little bit of meat or fish would be beneficial to her health.
Fan Xian often went there to bring her food and the pills that he had made himself. He feared that the medicine he gave her might clash with what the imperial doctors prescribed her, so he made sure only to use the gentlest ingredients. He also bought her a lot of fine food to satisfy her day-long hunger. As the days passed, Lin Wan'er's health clearly got better. Her cheeks were much rosier, but not with the redness that her ill-health had caused her before. And her figure filled out, with her cheeks becoming much rounder.
Lin Wan'er was a bit concerned by this, but Fan Xian was happy. After they were married, he would prefer to be with a woman with fertile curves.
The guards in the courtyard were always slacking off, and with the help of the wall-climbing skills Fan Xian had learned from Wu Zhu in Danzhou, no one ever discovered his secret trips to deliver medicine. But there was no way to get rid of Lin Wan'er's illness completely, and Fan Xian felt that it was no good waiting for Fei Jie to return; after they were married, they would find a way to leave the capital and go to a mansion in the Cang Mountains owned by the Fan family, where it would be most suitable for her to recuperate.
After a number of nights of close contact, the feelings grew between the two of them. For some reason, after they had fallen in love at first sight at the Temple of Qing, each of them felt that the other was alike in a lot of ways. Perhaps it was their appearance, or the way they carried themselves, or the way that they looked at things. This rapport made both young lovers feel the wonders of their first love, and that they could grow old together hand-in-hand. It took little time for them to go from strangers to lovers who knew each other only by gazes and gentle touches of the hand.
Lin Wan'er gazed at his face, and suddenly developed a worried expression. "You always use that incense to help me sleep. It's been a long time, are you sure there’s nothing wrong with it?" Fan Xian comforted her. "The first time I came, I told you that this incense only had a positive effect on health.."
Lin Wan'er thought back to the first time that he had snuck through her window, and she couldn't help but giggle. "If I had really thought you were a rapist and killed you, then what would I have done?"
Fan Xian laughed bitterly and took her hand. "Yichen, maybe there's something you should know."
Lin Wan'er felt bashful at the sound of her pet name. "What is it?"
"Hm... if you want to kill me, I reckon it won't be easy." Fan Xian laughed. "I've trained under powerful people ever since I was a child. Deep down, I'm much more of a brute than I am a poet."
Lin Wan'er sighed. "I know. If you weren't a brute, then how could you have beaten up Minister Guo's son in the street and got into all that trouble, to the point where you still aren't allowed to leave the city?"
Fan Xian's assault case against Guo Baokun was still ongoing, with both sides matching wits. The city government had already flown the white flag and passed the case on to the Ministry of Justice on the grounds that it was a complicated and difficult-to-judge case. In fact, if one wanted to get to the bottom of the case, all one had to do was get hold of the guards who were strolling along the street following Fan Xian, and all would be clarified after a little light torture. But the problem was that the lawsuits that both sides had filed were not simple in the slightest, and so the case had become much more complicated.
This was not an honest practice, but it was the correct path through the bureaucracy - after the case was handed to the Ministry of Justice, that was when the Ministry's troubles had started. Now, they were planning to ask the palace for an official decree, putting the case in the hands of the Overwatch Council. Cases of public security were not within the purview of the Council, but both sides were comprised of officials, and the Council was tasked with overseeing the bureaucracy, so they agreed - all of the capital's bureaucrats knew that the Director of the Council did not care about the noble pedigree of any official.
So as that the Guo family waited for the day that the Council began their investigation, they were unaware that Fan Xian was also waiting for that day, when he could flash the token that Fei Jie had given him. He did not fear the Council's fearsome enforcers in the slightest.
In the calm night, Fan Xian found himself lost in thought. He continued to console Lin Wan'er. "You don't have to worry about this. It'll all be dealt with soon." He suddenly thought about her mother, who had tried to kill him four years ago, and his brow could not help but crease.
Lin Wan'er was an extremely clever young woman. "Has something been troubling you?" she asked when she saw his face.
Fan Xian looked at her picturesque face and sighed. "If in the future... if something were to happen between me and the Eldest Princess, I'm worried you'll get hurt."
Lin Wan'er smiled. "Why do you have to worry about things that still haven't happened? I have been sick since I was a child, and it always seemed like my days were numbered. I've never known if the next day might be my last, so I've never liked thinking about awful things that haven’t happened yet."
Fan Xian sighed. He drew her into an embrace, full of tenderness, smelling her hair. "I know how you feel, because I once had the same experience as you."
They kissed, their lips coming together in harmony.
"Mm... Wan'er, your body is so soft."
"You're... you're rubbing the pillow you brought the other day."
Fan Xian very much liked the feeling of sneaking off to her bedchamber. It was a secret love affair, but one with no guilt at all. If it were possible, he'd like to spend even longer like this. At least there wasn't anything to disturb them much before the wedding. Before he'd left Danzhou, he never imagined he could live so happily in the capital.
But things didn’t go the way he wanted them to; all good things had to come to an end. That evening, Crown Prince Jing's clearly visible carriage came to Fan Manor. Lady Liu hurried to greet him respectfully, and brought him into the reception pavilion for tea.

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