In the past, Yun Qingci always liked to say those useless things – at least, at that time everyone thought they were useless.
Everyone knew, as soon as he saw His Majesty, Lord Empress Yun’s mouth seemed to be smeared with honey. One moment he could scare others with his chilling appearance, but once he turned to Li Ying, he would immediately become like spring lake water, soft and pliant.
He used to unabashedly convey his gentleness, obedience and affection to Li Ying; as if he was afraid that Li Ying would not know how much he loved him, that he wouldn’t know that Li Ying was the only one in his heart.
But now, Yun Qinci’s actions and words seemed to be pushing Li Ying out of this position. Yun Qingci still looked docile, but there was a sense of alienation about him, as if he were a thousand miles away.
Li Ying raised his hand and slowly reached for Yun Qingci’s hand on his lap. Yun Qingci suddenly moved and pushed the warm ear mufflers off his head as if unintentionally, and as if intentionally avoiding the contact.
With his fingers curling up, Li Ying raised his eyebrow and said: “Let me see your injury.”
This pretext was supposed to let him take Yun Qingci’s hand in a fair manner, but the latter openly hid his hands behind his back, lowered his eyelashes and whispered softly: “Thanking His Majesty for his concern, everything is fine with this subject.”
“Thank you for your concern…”
Li Ying squatted in front of him, resting his palm on the stone table, and looked at him from below: “What’s up with you, why are you acting like this to me?”
Li Ying used to be the most important person in Yun Qingci’s heart, the man he regarded as a treasure, and the… husband Yun Qingci thought would accompany him for the rest of his life.
But that was before.
Yun Qingci’s eyelashes fluttered and his lips curved slightly.
Li Ying felt wronged.
As Li Ying stood up, breathing heavily, Yun Qingci remembered that he had this habit. When he was angry and resentful but couldn’t vent his anger, he would pace around, while the people serving him lay on the ground and trembled. They could only wait for His Majesty to think of a solution, fling his sleeves and tear down a screen or overturn a table to let out his anger.
This stinky habit had appeared shortly after Li Ying ascended the throne. He was thirteen then. Many old ministers looked at his young age and tried to use their authority to oppress him. It was always Li Ying’s heart knot.
The time Prime Minister Yun knelt down, for Li Ying, it was the same as oppression.
Yun Qingci sat still, thinking that he hoped he could see through Li Ying in this life, but unfortunately, he apparently still couldn’t. He behaved obediently and stopped provoking him, wasn’t that what Li Ying always wanted from him? But now Li Ying was angry with him again?
Suddenly a shadow fell on him, and Yun Qingci raised his face involuntarily. The tall figure of the man bent down and his hands propped on the stone table. Li Ying’s breath almost sprayed Yun Qingci’s face. Then he reached out and poked Yun Qingci’s hat brim, his gaze falling on the scar.
Yun Qingci shrank his shoulders as the brim of his hat was lifted.
The injury on his forehead was not serious. It was already scabbed, but it was still a bit startling on his porcelain-white skin.
Li Ying looked at him for a moment, then moved a wooden stool, sat down beside him, and took out a shallow vial from his sleeve. “This is a healing holy medicine from Southern Xinjiang. May I apply some for you?”
“This subject’s family has medicine. Although it is not as good as His Majesty’s, it is more than enough to cure this little injury.”
“What about your hand?”
“The silly thing this subject did to himself, this subject can take care of it himself.”
Li Ying squeezed the medicine vial and was silent for a while, then said: “This time, I wronged you, no wonder you’re angry.”
“How could it be,” Yun Qingci said sincerely. “This matter is entirely my fault. It is a great grace that Your Majesty did not cut me down right away.”
“…” Li Ying stared at him without saying a word, trying to figure out from his expression if the other party was just throwing a fit.
But he knew Yun Qingci too well. His calm and sincere face made it hard for Li Ying to deceive himself that he was just playing tricks.
“Your Majesty,” Yun Qingci spoke again. “Fourth brother is still waiting for me at the ice rink. If I am missing for too long, I am afraid that he will be anxious.”
Li Ying curled his lips, as if mocking: “And your Brother Lin?”
Yun Qingci was a little surprised. Just a short while ago he was feeling that someone was following him. Was it Li Ying? He said seriously: “Yes, Brother Lin is here too.”
Li Ying’s frivolous smile shattered and he suddenly felt that his fingers were numb and stiff. He opened them with restraint and slowly clenched them again. He looked at the pair of warm furry ear mufflers on the table and said: “Do you want to put on Brother Lin’s thing again?”
Yun Qingci thought for a moment, then took off Li Ying’s ear mufflers and said: “I’ll return these to His Majesty then.”
“…” Li Ying stared at him again.
Yun Qingci reached for Lin Huaijin’s pair of ear mufflers, but with a sudden gentle movement, the ear mufflers fell into the charcoal basin next to the couch and caught fire.
Yun Qingci: “…? Princess Yan Zhao has personally sewn them for Xiao Hou.”
“I will explain to him.”
Yun Qingci said: “If Your Majesty has nothing else to say, I will go back first.”
He got up and walked out, but Li Ying suddenly blocked him. He was tall, and Yun Qingci took a step back. There was this sense of oppression again, although slightly reduced. Yun Qingci felt a little angry. Li Ying burned Lin Huaijin’s ear mufflers. Even if it was Li Ying’s fault, Yun Qingci was also responsible for not taking care of them properly.
This dog emperor, he scolded secretly, but there was no slightest flaw in his expression. “What else does Your Majesty want?”
Li Ying looked at him with a trace of irritation in his frowning eyebrows. He softened his voice: “Sending you back to the Prime Minister’s mansion this time was me being inconsiderate. I have heard the rumors about you… don’t take it to heart.”
Yun Qingci’s confusion was about to overflow. He raised his face, almost putting the ‘I can’t understand you’ sign on his forehead: “Your Majesty… when did you care about these things?”
“I just want to tell you that I will sort out this matter as soon as possible. I…” Li Ying’s Adam’s apple rolled as he said: “I care about you.”
Liu Ziru stood outside the pavilion, shivering and hiding his hands in his sleeves. He couldn’t help smiling. It was rare for His Majesty to be soft and show his sincerity. The Lord Empress must feel flattered at this moment. Surely, he would return to the palace with His Majesty today.
He will finally get a good night’s sleep.
Suddenly two figures slid across the ice rink towards him. Liu Ziru leaned close to the drapery and said cautiously: “Your Majesty, Fourth Young Master Yun is here.”
Inside the pavilion, it was as warm as spring. Yun Qingci kept silent. Li Ying avoided his gaze, walked over and picked up the ear mufflers he had brought, put them on Yun Qingci’s head again and said: “If you still want to go to the ice rink, I will accompany you.”
Yun Qingci found his voice and said, “No need.”
Li Ying’s gentle face froze slightly.
“Thank you, Your Majesty, for your concern, I am very grateful,” Yun Qingci continued: “Since my fourth brother has been found, I will go back first.”
He brushed shoulders with Li Ying, picked up the skates thrown to the side, lifted the drapery and walked out. A cold wind immediately blew from the wide ice rink, and Yun Qingsu and Lin Huaijin were both there on the icy lake, looking for him.
Yun Qingci shivered, ran up to them quickly and put on the skates. “His Majesty had something to do with me just now. Were you anxious waiting?”
Lin Huaijin’s gaze fell on his ears as he said, “Not anxious.”
Yun Qingsu looked a little unhappy: “What did His Majesty say to you?”
“Nothing,” Yun Qingci said. “Let’s skate back from here, change our shoes and go to Jinyalou to eat, okay?”
Lin Huaijin said: “Coincidentally, I made a reservation before I came here, and your third brother should also be there.”
“Will he?” Yun Qingci’s eyes lit up. “He leaves early and returns late. I haven’t seen him in the past few days.”
“Let’s go.” Yun Qingsu supported him when he was on the ice, and the three of them quickly skated to the other side of the lake together.
The drapery was opened again. Even though he obviously walked out of the warm pavilion, Li Ying’s body felt colder than the ice and snow outside. Liu Ziru just stared at the pendant on the Emperor’s waist and at the embroidered boots, not daring to explore the Emperor’s expression.
Li Ying stepped over the lake, bent over to pick up the exquisite cotton boots left on the ground, then looked at the ice rink for a long time until he could no longer find Yun Qingci’s figure.
He opened his mouth, “Liu Ziru.”
Liu Ziru hurriedly stepped forward: “What is Your Majesty’s order?”
“When Lord Empress returned to his parents’ house, what was provided to him?”
“This… when the country was established and the Lord Empress was entering the palace, he was equipped with an entourage of twenty imperial carriages, a pair of red, blue and white umbrellas, eighteen auspicious paintings, a guard of honor of about eighty people, three hundred soldiers and four horses opening the way… going back to the parents’ house, it wouldn’t be so serious.”
“What about me?”
“Your Majesty… When Your Majesty usually leaves the palace, there are thirty carriages, the guard of honor is increased to a hundred people, and the escort is more than a thousand soldiers. The entourage is determined according to the size of the travel activities, but there is at least a general ranked above lieutenant general, armor soldiers, shooters, cavalry and others forming four guard phalanxes and front and rear guards…” Liu Ziru kept talking, took a breath, and said, “But the specifics have to be finalized by the Ministry of Rites and the Ministry of War.”
“With the entourage I use to travel, I will pick up the Lord Empress to return to the palace.”
Liu Ziru stood by the lake in a mess.
The Son of Heaven’s travels were divided into large, small and ceremonial ones. What Liu Ziru had just described was the most basic equipment for a small outing. It was not a big deal for an empress to visit her relatives. If it involved the Son of Heaven’s ceremonial cortege, it was unprecedented.
He hurriedly followed: “Your Majesty, this minister knows that His Majesty loves the Lord Empress, but this kind of escort demands one to find two great generals to open the way. Isn’t it a bit exaggerated just to pick up the Lord Empress to return to the palace?”
“I will go in person.”
Liu Ziru: “…this preparation may take some time.”
“You have seven days. ”
No matter what else Liu Ziru wanted to say, the emperor had already gotten into the carriage, so he could only shut up.
Then another order came from the carriage: “Hide it from the Yun family.”
Liu Yun realized that he wanted to surprise the Lord Empress.
Liu Ziru just didn’t know whether this high-profile favor of the Son of Heaven would be a surprise or a shock for Prime Minister Yun.
After leaving the lake with his brother, Yun Qingci sat on a low bench, replacing his skates with a pair of boots.
Lin Huaijin beside him whispered softly: “Have you changed your ear mufflers?”
“Yeah,” Yun Qingci said in a low voice: “I accidentally dropped them into a brazier and burned them.”
Then he said, “I’m sorry.”
Although it was Li Ying who burned them, he was indeed to blame.
Lin Huaijin sighed and comforted, “You don’t have to blame yourself, they were not that valuable.”
He handed the skates to his subordinates and helped Yun Qingci up.
Yun Qingsu walked over, noticed that Yun Qingci’s expression was somewhat wrong, and asked: “What’s the matter?”
“I accidentally burned Xiao Hou’s warm mufflers.”
“It’s not his fault,” Lin Huaijin said. Yun Qingsu raised his eyebrows, so that dog emperor Li Ying who’s good at hurting people was learning to drink fresh vinegar.
He touched his brother’s head and said with relief: “Okay, go back and ask Aunt Ding to sew another pair for him.”
Lin Huaijin smiled and said, “No need.”
When they got into the carriage, Yun Qingci’s head was still drooping. Yun Qingsu thought he was blaming himself.
Feeling that Yun Qingci actually had a conscience, he said, “Aren’t you good with needlework? If you really feel sorry, you can sew a pair for Xiao Hou yourself.”
Yun Qingci’s needlework was indeed good. In his previous life, he would personally make Li Ying a new set of clothes and a pair of shoes at least every year.
This was not difficult for him. But the ear mufflers were made by Lin Huaijin’s mother. For Yun Qingci, a mother was a special person. He naturally felt that Princess Yan Zhao’s hand-stitched things were irreplaceable. He was afraid the other party wouldn’t accept a replacement easily.
Lin Huaijin suddenly looked happy, staring at him eagerly, his eyes full of expectation: “Can you?”