The palm of his hand was placed on Yun Qingci’s foot. Such close contact effectively relieved the pain in his body, and Li Ying fell asleep almost instantly.
When Yun Qingci noticed that his breathing had calmed down, he glared at Li Ying holding his foot. But as soon as he drew it back, Li Ying’s brow immediately wrinkled up and his steady breathing became chaotic.
Yun Qingci: “…”
Did this guy do it on purpose?
He completely pulled his feet back, got up and looked at his eldest brother again. The man hadn’t woken up yet. The doctor was treating the wounds all over his body. Seeing that he couldn’t help, Yun Qingci came back again.
Li Ying on the couch had already turned his back and his tall body curled up silently.
Yun Qingci stood for a moment, got back on the couch and kicked him hesitantly: “Li Ying?”
Li Ying seemed to wake up: “Huh?”
“If you are not feeling well, call the doctor to take a look.”
“Oh, then go to sleep.”
Li Ying did not answer again.
Yun Qingci couldn’t sleep, so he sat at the head of the bed and flipped through a book. A few pages later, Li Ying, seemingly unconscious, rolled over towards him and put his fingers on his leg.
Then he fell asleep again.
Yun Qingci called him a few times, but Li Ying remained motionless; this time he really fell asleep.
He wanted to move away, but when he saw the green shadows under Li Ying’s eyes, he let go of this thought.
Forget it, Yun Qingci thought blankly. This is only for bringing his eldest brother back.
Li Ying slept till the sky was bright, and when he woke up, Yun Qingci lay beside him. Their breaths merged, and his delicate, flawless face was exactly as he remembered.
Li Ying raised his hand, and his fingertips brushed over the side of Yun Qingci’s face.
With a long-awaited ease and comfort, he withdrew his hand, gently rested his chin on the Lord Empress’s head and closed his eyes.
Yun Qingci was not awakened by his movements. Even if he denied it a thousand times in his heart, his body was accustomed to Li Ying’s closeness.
Li Ying didn’t stay for long. He knew that when Yun Qingci woke up, he would definitely speak ill of him again, so he released Yun Qingci by himself and got off the bed couch.
By the time Yun Qingci woke up, Li Ying had already left.
He dressed up and went out. Under the blooming peach tree, a thin, bony man was sitting in a wooden wheelchair, his eyes closed, as if intoxicated by the soft spring breeze.
Yun Qingci walked towards him a few steps, his eyes lighting up: “Big brother.”
Yun Qingji turned his head to him, his expression slightly startled, and smiled: “Is it… Ah Ci?”
They had never met before, and they were more than ten years apart, so they were a little reserved with each other. Yun Qingci sat down opposite him and said, “Have you eaten yet?”
“I have. His Majesty arranged for a tonic soup to be brought from the imperial dining room.”
Yun Qingci nodded and said, “Should we get father to come?”
“When the time comes, His Majesty will arrange for me to meet with my father.”
Yun Qingci scratched his head and said, “Did you have a rough journey?”
“En.” Yun Qingji sighed and said, “His Majesty personally went to bring me back to Jing. I didn’t expect it. We were in a hurry because we were worried about exposing my identity. The other side must have found some clues and sent someone to assassinate me. His Majesty even took an arrow to protect me.”
“…You, you do things for him, and he protects you, as he should.”
Yun Qingji looked at him a little surprised. Yun Qingci raised his face slightly and looked serious: “You almost lost your life for him. He should have protected you thoroughly.”
“What nonsense are you saying?” Yun Qingji laughed and said, “It was not for His Majesty, but for Jing country. It’s the same for His Majesty; going to court sessions and reading memorials, even executing people, it is not for him as an individual, but for the whole country.”
He was taught by Qi Renwei to be loyal to the country and to the emperor since he was a child, and every sentence carried his patriotism and the uprightness of his family. It’s not that Yun Qingci didn’t understand him, he was just a little confused: “This country belongs to the Li family after all.”
“It belongs to the Li family in name, but in fact, it belongs to the people.” Yun Qingji said: “His Majesty took the risk to save me, probably because of you. He didn’t have to do this. This was a personal matter and a personal favor. I don’t think that he deserves to be shot for me because of how much I have done for the country… Fortunately, he was not seriously injured, otherwise I would feel guilty forever.”
Yun Qingci sat for a while, then asked hesitantly: “Then, apart from being shot with an arrow, was there anything else… such as poisoning?”
“I haven’t heard of it, but he looked ill. He hadn’t slept well on the road and had frequent headaches. I don’t know if there is any hidden illness.” Yun Qingji took a sip of tea and said, “You are the Lord Empress, didn’t you notice anything unusual about him?”
“How would I know?” Yun Qingci’s voice became very small.
Li Ying obviously didn’t tell his eldest brother about their relationship. Apart from being related by blood, he and Yun Qingji were actually no different from strangers.
It was hard to talk a lot.
Yun Qingji’s acceptance of Li Ying’s arrangements made Yun Qingci feel incomprehensible. But he knew that his eldest brother had suffered a lot and had dedicated too much to Jing, both personally and physically, and he respected Yun Qingji.
He also knew that Li Ying was not busy just for himself in his previous life, nor was he busy just for the Li family, because once the court collapsed, it might also collapse the entire country.
He understood Li Ying, but understanding him did not mean that he could accept it. He satisfied Li Ying’s righteousness in his previous life. In this life, he just hoped to change his way of living.
In the afternoon, his father and three elder brothers were welcomed in the courtyard.
Yun Qingji’s identity in Beichen was exposed. Now that he returned to Jing, Li Ying needed to rearrange his position.
Yun Qingci stood beside his father and brothers, watching them talk loudly as they acknowledged their kin, and couldn’t help but raise his eyes to look at the peach tree beside him.
In their family only his mother and eldest sister were missing.
He held up the teacup and suddenly caught a glimpse of black clothes. He didn’t know when Li Ying arrived; now he stood afar in front of the door, leaning against the corner wall and looked over quietly.
His figure appeared lonely, but his gaze collided with Yun Qingci’s, and he no longer looked away.
When Yun Qingci turned his head, there were his father and elder brothers behind him, but when Li Ying turned his head, there were only his deceased father and mother, and the black-hearted Empress Dowager Zhang.
His eyes told Yun Qingci that he had recognized him.
Yun Qingci looked away, raised his head and drank the tea.
That night, Yun Qingci dreamed again.
The timeline in his dream was moving forward, but it was not consistent with reality. As soon as Yun Qingci got there this time, he found that the lid of the coffin was opened. He immediately rushed over to look, and the corners of his mouth couldn’t help but rise.
“Li Ying, you are back.”
Li Ying was lying in the coffin, heavily asleep. He must have been tired for a long time, so he probably slept for a long time, because when he woke up, there were slight indentations on the side of his face.
He opened his eyes, looked at his dead lover beside him and held his hand.
“Don’t touch my hand,” Yun Qingci muttered. He glanced at the lamp near the coffin. It hadn’t turned red yet, and he wondered how long it would take before Li Ying would be reborn.
Li Ying didn’t talk to the man in the coffin this time, perhaps because he had already talked before Yun Qingci entered the dream.
He picked up the lamp again and left the mausoleum.
Yun Qingci suddenly thought of something and walked after him: “I will follow you out of the underground palace and see how you are doing now. Along the way, I can see what the current Jing Country is like.”
Li Ying couldn’t hear him and naturally couldn’t stop him.
The moment he finally left the mausoleum, Yun Qingci saw the sun in his dream for the first time. He narrowed his eyes, and the light passed through his body, making his fingers transparent.
At the same time, late at night in the courtyard, Li Ying came to Yun Qingci’s bed.
He sat on the side of the bed and gently held his hand. Yun Qingci fell asleep very heavily and felt nothing from it.
At dawn, Li Ying left the courtyard.
Yun Qingci still slept deeply.
When the sun was three poles high, Yinxi and Jin Huan came to his bed together and whispered in a low voice: “Lord Empress, why is he sleeping so long today?”
“Usually he should be awake.”
“It’s lunch time.” Jin Huan looked hesitant and said, “Let’s call him?”
The two attendants stepped forward together and gently opened the curtain of the bed: “Lord Empress, Lord Empress?”
Yun Qingci remained motionless.
Yinxi’s complexion suddenly changed. He and Jin Huan glanced at each other. The latter immediately stretched out his hand to shake Yun Qingci. Yun Qingci turned from lying on his side to lying flat, his arms falling softly on the bed, still motionless.
Yinxi’s face was already white and could not get any whiter.
Jin Huan made an effort to calm down and slowly probed Yun Qingci’s breathing.
“Yes, yes, he should be just asleep.”
Yinxi’s eyes turned red: “Then, then we, we’ll wait a little longer.”
A gentle voice came from outside, it was Yun Qingji: “Why isn’t Ah Ci up yet?”
Jin Huan’s face twitched, he ran out a few steps and said, “Lord Empress might have been too tired yesterday and is still asleep.”
Yun Qingji’s eyes narrowed slightly; he noticed that Jin Huan’s expression was wrong and his face suddenly paled: “What happened?”
Jin Huan knelt down.
The guard behind him lifted the wheelchair over the threshold, Yun Qingji quickly slid to the bed, reached out and touched Yun Qingci’s pulse.
Everything was normal, but he couldn’t wake up.
“Don’t tell anyone, let’s wait a little.” He instructed: “Maybe it’s just that he’s too tired. If he doesn’t wake up at night, I’ll notify the Prime Minister’s Mansion and His Majesty.”
Yun Qingci’s experience at this moment was very novel. He never thought that one day he could go back in time in his dream, see his body and see the scenery outside the imperial mausoleum.
He got into the carriage with Li Ying, changed from the left side to his right, then from his right side to his left, then squeezed next to him and breathed into his ear.
Li Ying didn’t move.
He got out of the carriage and returned to the palace normally. It was not Jiangshan Palace that he returned to, but Chaoyang Palace.
Liu Ziru, much older than Yun Qingci remembered, was still very eager to see Li Ying, following him around and reporting the affairs of the court.
Li Ying nodded faintly, carried the glazed lamp, walked in all the way, then put the lamp on the table and casually said, “Call the crown prince.”
Crown Prince Li Heng.
Yun Qingci sat on the desk and observed the child who had just come of age and Li Ying who appeared to be about thirty seven or thirty eight years old. The boy seemed to be very afraid of Li Ying and very cautious when replying.
Yun Qingci sat for a while, then turned around and looked at his former residence.
The furnishings of Chaoyang Palace were still the same as they were during his lifetime, and even the location of the antique jade had not changed at all. What surprised Yun Qingci most was that the carved lines of the jade were as clean as new. In his previous life, he didn’t like these decorations. He put them there and didn’t take care of them. The palace maid just wiped them casually on a routine basis. He remembered that there was some blue and gray hidden in the curves of these carvings.
Well, the people who served Li Ying were obviously more careful than those in his palace.
But when the night fell, he saw Li Ying personally take a cloth and begin to carefully wipe the tables, chairs and objects in Chaoyang Palace. He took care of everything very slowly and diligently. Liu Ziru stood at the door and looked at him, sighing slightly: “Your Majesty, go to rest earlier.”
Liu Ziru didn’t dare to say more and went out after bowing, then carefully closed the door.
Yun Qingci squatted on the chair and watched Li Ying tirelessly clean the small room.
Of course it didn’t take that long just to clean up, but from time to time, Li Ying would stand still in a daze, his thoughts unknown.
“All right,” Yun Qingci said, “Go to bed, the dawn drum is about to ring.”
Not long after he said it, Li Ying put down the cloth and walked behind the screen.
He didn’t sleep, but ordered someone to bring hot water. When he undressed and entered the bathtub, Yun Qingci discovered that not only his arms, but also his legs had scars from his flesh being cut off.
Obviously, he was feeding the snake more than once.
Yun Qingci came to the side of the bathtub and thought that Li Ying’s eyes seemed bigger because of his weight loss. Thinking of everything in his dreams and reality, he felt uncomfortable for no reason.
Li Ying was sitting in the bathtub and looking at the lamp, with deep despair and helplessness in his eyes.
His eyes gradually moistened, and his thin fingers suddenly splashed the water heavily on his face.
He closed his eyes, pressed the back of his neck against the side of the bathtub and leaned back.
The sound was like a sigh and like a call: “Ah Ci…”
He couldn’t see it, but Yun Qingci stood behind him, covering his eyes with his palms.