Chapter 135: A Woman's Love
Seeing Jun Huang's frown, the housekeeper assumed that Jun Huang was unwilling to stay in Pince Nan Manor. He went on to say, "The gentleman must know what's at stake here. Please keep the big picture in mind."
Jun Huang quickly recovered and gave him a proper smile. "Don't worry. I understand. I will do it"
Jun Huang was about to leave when Nan Xun visited her. There was a faint smile on his face.
"How can you be sure that Qi Chen will agree?" Jun Huang asked. She'd been wondering about this for a while.
Nan Xun gave her a smile in response. Jun Huang put aside her confusion and followed him. This time, she was able to go with Nan Xun without arousing anyone's suspicion.
Inside the palace, Wan'er sat in her garden, watching servants putting up lanterns with a bored expression.
The old matron who had been taking care of her ever since she was little gave her a fond smile. "It's windy outside, princess. You should stay indoors. You're turning sixteen in a month. It's considered bad luck if you catch a cold at time like this."
"I want to leave the palace, granny," Wan'er looked up at the grey-haired woman and said.
The old matron startled. She didn't know Wan'er had been down because she wanted to go out. The old matron looked around and only let out the breath she had been holding when she saw there was no one near them. "This is not a good time for you to do so," she said quietly. "You are a princess. You can't just leave the palace at will. If the emperor know of it, there will be severe scolding…"
"There is someone Wan'er must see," Wan'er said earnestly, her eyes brimming with tears. "The longer I stay in the palace, the more I miss him. If I don't do anything, I will fall ill before my sixteenth birthday."
The old matron had watched Wan'er grow up. She couldn't bear to see Wan'er in pain. She sighed. "If so, the princess must be careful. Remember to take some personal servants with you."
Wan'er nodded. A hint of smile broke through her gloom. She happily changed into a pink dress. The old matron curved her lips at the sight of Wan'er's obvious joy.
Wan'er claimed to be leaving the palace to visit Qi Chen. Once outside, she took a deep breath and felt her body relax instantly. The inside and the outside of the palace belonged in the same world, but inside, the air was heavy and constraining, very much unlike the liberating air around her now.
Wan'er set out for Jun Huang's place. When she arrived, however, she only saw a page boy at the door. No one else seemed to be around. She frowned.
"Please notify gentleman Feng that Wan'er is here to visit him," she said after putting on a proper smile, her voice gentle.
The page boy was a clever one. He kept a mental list of every visitor to the manor. He remembered Wan'er from her last visit. He didn't know who Wan'er was, however. He assumed she must be from an important family.
"You just missed the gentleman, my lady," the page boy said respectfully. "He's left and won't return until a few days after."
Wan'er leaned in, trying to get a look inside. She wasn't convinced. "Are you telling the truth? Or maybe… he just doesn't want to see me?"
"That's not true," said the page boy. "Gentleman Feng is away. Do you have a message for him? If so, this servant can pass down your message to gentleman Feng when he returns."
Wan'er looked away. In the end she shook her head with a rueful look in her eyes. "Perhaps this means we are not meant to be together. Forcing this relationship will never be a possibility. Perhaps this is the sign telling me to give up." She excused herself and turned around. In her rush, she stumbled and almost fell. Fortunately her personal maid was able to catch her.
"Are you alright, princess?" the maid asked worriedly.
Wan'er shook her head, her eyes unfocused. It took some time for her to regain control of her own mind. A trace of sadness crept into her heart.
She had intended to ask again if Feng Baiyu felt anything for her, if there was any chance that he would like to marry her, but she didn't even manage to talk to him in person. Maybe their fates were never meant to cross.
The maid didn't know what Wan'er was thinking about. Worried that Wan'er might be feeling ill, she helped her up into the sedan chair and left for the palace.
The page boy was shocked when he heard the maid call Wan'er princess. He realized that Wan'er's visit could have significant repercussions. He asked another servant to take his place before rushing to Prince Nan Manor himself.
Jun Huang was in Nan Xun's garden appreciating the quiet view when a servant told her someone from her house had come. She straightened up and saw that it was the page boy watching her door.
Before the page boy could say anything, Jun Huang asked, "What happened? Why are you in such a hurry?"
"The princess visited earlier," said the page boy.
Jun Huang blinked. She had been running herself to the ground lately. She almost forgot about Wan'er. The last time she saw the princess was at the temple. It had been a while.
She thought that Wan'er would have forgotten about her after this long absence. To her surprise, Wan'er sought her out again.
When Nan Xun came to the garden, Jun Huang was lost in thoughts with her eyebrows furrowed. Worried, he turned to the page boy and asked what had happened.
The page boy told Nan Xun everything. He quickly walked away once Nan Xun dismissed him.
"I didn't know Wan'er is someone who loves so deeply," said Nan Xun. "It's a rare thing in the palace."
Jun Huang glanced at him before letting out a rueful laugh. "Yes. It's often said that members of the royal family are cold-hearted. The one exception, unfortunately, fell in love with the wrong person. Her love has all been in vain. She doesn't deserve being hurt like this."
Jun Huang paused before continuing, "I only wish Princess Wan'er can find a good match and forget about me. We are never meant to be."
Nan Xun felt a pang of jealousy at her words. He didn't want Jun Huang to be this concerned for another person. He pursed his lips and said, "You're not obligated to do anything just because Wan'er likes you. There's no need to worry so much. If you are tired of her, I'll talk to her for you."
Jun Huang looked at Nan Xun, supporting her head with a hand. With a laugh, she said, "Oh? How rational Your Highness is being. If there is a woman who is so madly in love with you, how is Your Highness going to turn her down?"
Nan Xun blushed a little at her teasing words. When Jun Huang turned away to look back at the koi fish in the pond, he coughed and said, "If it's not someone I like, I'm not going to do anything no matter how much the woman has done for me. You care too deeply. That's why you are always worried."
Jun Huang sighed. "Princess Wan'er is a young woman. Your Highness has been a soldier fighting at the border. You may not understand her feelings." Her words were so faint they sounded like a quiet sigh, but Nan Xun had heard everything.
The jealousy in his heart grew stronger. He didn't want to continue with this conversation. Coincidentally, the injury on his shoulder was throbbing in pain again. It was time to change the dressing on his wound. "If you have the time and effort to think about trivial things like that, you might as well dress my wound for me. That'll be more productive."
Jun Huang stared owlishly at him. Since that first time she patched Nan Xun up, Nan Xun's personal guard had been the one to change the bandages. She was only in charge of making the ointment. Today, however, Nan Xun had ordered his guard to look into something for him.
Embarrassed, Jun Huang didn't even know where she should start. Seeing her bashful expression, Nan Xun let out a soundless laugh, which pulled at his muscles and made him gasp in pain. Jun Huang hurried to his side to support him, her eyes concerned.
"The medicine is losing its effect. If we don't treat your wound now, it may get infected. Come on." She helped Nan Xun up and led him to his bedroom.
Jun Huang tried her best to push away her shyness, but she wasn't very successful. With her head bent low, she focused on the medicine she was making. Nan Xun had taken off his top wear and was resting on his bed with his eyes closed. Jun Huang hesitantly approached Nan Xun when the medicine was done.
Last time she didn't really have the time to feel shy, and it had been in the evening, so she didn't think much of her actions. Now, under broad daylight, Jun Huang didn't even know where to put her hands facing with Nan Xun's bare torso.
Nan Xun chuckled, delighted by her shyness. When she untied the bandages, though, she accidentally brushed against his wound. Nan Xun flinched.
"What happened? Does it hurt?" Jun Huang paused to look at Nan Xun, watching his expression closely, worried that she might hurt him again.
Nan Xun tightened his jaw and shook his head. "I'm alright."
The deep frown on Jun Huang's face had not smoothed out. "The bandage seems to have gotten stuck because of the blood. It's going to hurt a little. I'll be as gentle as I can."
Nan Xun nodded and took a deep breath before closing his eyes, waiting for the pain to hit.
Jun Huang breathed in deeply. Her usually cold fingers had gone colder. She gingerly untied the knot and gently peeled away the bandages. In the end she was barely breathing.
As she had said, the last of the bandage had been stuck to the wound when the blood dried. She couldn't peel it away without applying some force. She debated what she should do.
Nan Xun noticed she had stopped what she was doing. He opened his eyes and saw Jun Huang frowning at his wound like it was her worst enemy. He ground his teeth together and stripped the bandage away on his own.
The angle was awkward, and he had used too much force. Instantly blood poured out of his open wound. He sucked in a breath. All color had drained from his face.