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Li Ying’s brain buzzed.
He had never thought that Yun Qingci would raise this matter.
Skipping all the ‘I like you’ and ‘do you like me or not’, he asked directly, I want to marry you, would you like it.
He was thrown into the sky by happiness and then suddenly slammed into the ground. Looking at Yun Qingci’s expression, he quickly regained his senses.
Yun Qingci, he likely didn’t understand what he was talking about.
“Why?” Li Ying stared at him and asked, “Who made you say that?”
“No one.“ Yun Qingci didn’t lie. Indeed, no one asked him to say that. He came to tell Li Ying about it after careful consideration, so he was sure that he was very clear-headed: “I want to be with you, always be together.”
Li Ying withdrew his hand.
Then he sat up.
Yun Qingci sat up after him.
After the words had been said, there was no room for retreat. Yun Qingci observed Li Ying’s expression, suppressed the tension in his heart and said, “Ah Ying…”
Li Ying didn’t look at him; his voice was as gentle as ever: “Do you like me?”
“I like you.“ Yun Qingci didn’t hesitate to answer. He stared at Li Ying firmly and couldn’t wait to emphasize: “I like Ah Ying, I like Ah Ying the most, and I only like Ah Ying.”
That was the first time Li Ying heard Yun Qingci tell him that he liked him. For the first time, Yun Qingci said it like that, neatly and without hesitation, emphasizing how much he liked him.
There was no probing, no hesitation, and he expressed his mind directly, calmly and bluntly.
Li Ying’s heart beat uncontrollably, frantically, like a drum.
He didn’t speak for a long time and Yun Qingci became uneasy: “You, do you dislike me?”
“No,” Li Ying retorted quickly. After that, he fell silent again, not knowing what to say for a while.
The corners of Yun Qingci’s mouth rose, he quietly approached him and said softly, “Then do you like me?”
“Yes,” Li Ying also admitted very neatly and then said, “But my liking for you is probably different from your liking for me.”
“Like is like, what’s the difference?”
Yun Qingci really couldn’t tell the difference. He liked Li Ying and wanted to stay with Li Ying forever. If getting married was the best choice, then he would marry Li Ying. As long as Li Ying wanted, they could be together forever.
Li Ying said, “My like is the getting married like.”
This was not right.
Yun Qingci’s eyes lit up: “I like you, and I want to marry you.”
“Ah Ci, you don’t understand,” Li Ying whispered: “Do you understand what it means to say that you like a man?”
“It means I want to be with you forever.” Yun Qingci came towards him. He boldly hugged his arm, put his white face on his shoulder and his clear eyes did not blink.
Li Ying’s heart thudded again, and he couldn’t bear it.
Yun Qingci’s gaze was too simple and his expression was too innocent. Did he really understand? Li Ying didn’t know, but at that moment, he suddenly couldn’t hold back and pushed Yun Qingci down.
Yun Qingci’s black hair scattered over the dragon couch and his eyes stared at Li Ying. The latter lowered his voice and said, “I will want to kiss you. Do you think it’s okay?”
Yun Qingci blushed for a moment and said, “…If we get married, I will be your person. You can do whatever you want.”
Li Ying’s chest contracted and his eyes turned red slightly: “Ah Ci, do you really know what you are talking about?”
He always knew that Yun Qingci was possessive of him. He didn’t want Yun Qingci to ruin his own life because of this possessiveness. He wanted Yun Qingci to consciously understand everything, so he deliberately leaned closer over him: “So, it doesn’t matter?”
Yun Qingci held his breath and remained motionless.
Li Ying couldn’t resist pressing his lips to his mouth.
It was a very strange, very subtle touch.
Yun Qingci widened his eyes.
Li Ying didn’t go deeper. He restrained himself and asked in a hoarse voice, “Do you hate it?”
Yun Qingci said it and, as if he didn’t want to accept defeat, as if to prove that he didn’t hate it, he also kissed him on the lips.
Li Ying rolled his Adam’s apple, leaned closer again and kissed him again.
This was a deep kiss.
It was deep and long.
Compared with the subtlety and strangeness just now, this time it felt a little weird.
Yun Qingci was so scared that he forgot to breathe. By the time Li Ying let go of him, his face was already flushed from lack of oxygen.
“…Fool, breathe.” Li Ying stroked his chest, and only then did Yun Qingci remember and took a big breath hastily. His lungs suddenly tingled.
Li Ying pressed his hand to the place of his old injury and coaxed: “Take your time.”
Yun Qingci was guided by him to adjust his breathing and quietly observed Li Ying.
It was the first time that he looked at Li Ying so seriously, from his forehead to his eyebrows, to his eyes, to the bridge of his nose, and then to the lips that had just been in close contact with him.
Every part of Li Ying’s face was examined by him for a while.
His cheeks were hot, but his breathing was very light.
His mind was full of Ah Ying; so beautiful he was, with beautiful eyes, beautiful nose and the best mouth.
He found that Li Ying’s lips were pale red before kissing, but after kissing, they turned crimson. The crimson lips made his skin look extra white and his eyebrows look extra black.
He was like a fairy walking out from a painting.
It seemed there were hundreds of birds flapping their wings in his mind, flapping and flapping. He looked at Li Ying stupidly, he didn’t speak for a long time.
Li Ying called him a few times and saw him keep staring dumbly.
His initial thought that Yun Qingci wanted to marry him because of his possessiveness was gradually replaced by excitement and disbelief: “Ah Ci?”
He called a few times, and Yun Qingci finally recovered: “Huh?”
“What are you looking at?”
“Looking at Ah Ying.”
“…what are you looking at me for?”
“Ah Ying is so good looking.”
The corners of Li Ying’s mouth rose, and he said softly, “Am I really that good-looking?”
“You look good.” Yun Qingci said, “Ah Ying is the most good looking person in the world.”
Li Ying’s heart was suddenly overwhelmed and he kissed the corner of Yun Qingci’s mouth again. For a moment, he almost felt that he was dreaming.
“Are you really going to marry me?”
“Even like this, it doesn’t matter?”
Yun Qingci was taken aback again.
Although he and Li Ying often spent time together, Li Ying had been well-read since childhood and never played the kind of overly wild games that other children played. But that day, Li Ying did something to him.
Unlike with kissing, Yun Qingci immediately felt uncomfortable. He moved uneasily and said, “What, what do you mean?”
Li Ying had been watching him, and when he saw him resist, he withdrew his hand. He looked complicated and his mood was just as complicated, and he finally sighed, “You ah… get some rest.”
He left the bed; Yun Qingci subconsciously chased after him to the side of the bed, pulled his belt and asked, “Where are you going?”
“I’ll go read a book for a while.”
“Don’t read, come here.”
“You don’t understand what it means to be married, you just want to be with me, Ah Ci…”
“I know, you have to have children when you get married, and I can’t have children. If you like children, I will leave now.”
“It has nothing to do with that.”
“Then can you make it clear?!” Yun Qingci was anxious and angry, and said fiercely: “Come here!”
Li Ying turned his head; Yun Qingci blushed and threw a pillow at him.
Li Ying caught it, and could only walk back. As soon as he sat down at the head of the bed, Yun Qingci stuck to him. He put his arms around Li Ying’s waist and asked aggrievedly, “You don’t want to marry me?”
“I’m just afraid that you… are young and will go the wrong path.”
“Will you hurt me?”
“How can I hurt you?”
“Then I want to be with you for the rest of my life. Will you always like me, protect me and treat me well?”
“What ‘en’, I want to hear you say it.”
“…If, for the rest of our lives, we are together, I will always like you, protect you and treat you well,” Li Ying said and then added, “But it’s impossible for the two of us…”
“Why is it impossible?”
“Because…I am worried that I will do something to wrong you. I am the emperor. In the future, I may have three palaces and six courts (harem). I am afraid that I…”
“Then don’t do anything to wrong me.” Yun Qingci grabbed his cuffs and said, “You don’t need your harem, you have me. You don’t like children, so what do you need so many concubines for? Ah Ying, don’t wrong me, don’t want the three palaces and six courts. I just need you, and you just need me, okay, okay…”
At that time, Yun Qingci didn’t understand what Li Ying was saying. He didn’t understand why Li Ying was afraid to wrong him. If you’re afraid, just don’t do it.
Li Ying couldn’t say it out loud. What if one day, he couldn’t help himself and did something like that?
At that moment, he suddenly felt that maybe Yun Qingci was right.
If you are afraid, just don’t do it.
Maybe he was just as naive, so he smiled and let himself be persuaded by Yun Qingci. He touched the other’s head and said, “Well, if we are together, I want only you.”
“Then shall we be together?”
Li Ying looked at him for a while.
Yun Qingci said again: “I can swear that I only need Ah Ying. I will treat Ah Ying well for the rest of my life. I will only like Ah Ying for the rest of my life. I will put Ah Ying first in my heart for the rest of my life. I will do everything for Ah Ying, Ah Ying… be with me, okay?”
“…But you, you actually can’t accept me,” Li Ying said slowly: “Marriage, bridal chamber… you…do you understand?”
No one gave Yun Qingci enlightenment about this aspect, and he naturally didn’t understand.
He glanced at Li Ying’s fingers, then moved, pulled Li Ying’s hand over and placed it where Li Ying had just touched him. “Is that right? If you want to put it in, I, I can do it.”
His eyes were too clean and too pure.
Li Ying’s heart suddenly tingled. He hugged Yun Qingci fiercely in his arms, pulled the quilt over him, lowered his long eyelashes and said, “Okay, okay, let’s get married.”
“Then Ah Ying, do you want to put it…”
“No need,” Li Ying said, “I will teach you slowly from now on.”
Yun Qingci became happy. He buried his face in the other party’s arms, sniffed his smell and said, “Will you wrong me in the future?”
“Will you like me forever?”
“Will you be kind to me for the rest of your life?”
“Then… do you want anyone else besides me?”
“No one,” Li Ying said, “I just need you alone.”
Yun Qingci smiled happily.
He didn’t expect everything to go so smoothly that he would take care of this matter with Li Ying in just one night. He was worried again that Li Ying was too impulsive, so he whispered: “You can think about it again.”
Yun Qingci was so determined; if he hesitated again, he would be doing him a disservice.
Yun Qingci had been thinking about it for several months. He came to tell Li Ying after thinking about it clearly. He felt that he had secretly cheated Li Ying when asking him to give the answer so quickly.
But he slyly didn’t tell Li Ying that he had been thinking about it for a long time. Anyways, he wanted to be with Li Ying and Li Ying wanted to be with him, why not hit it off immediately.
He thought he had gotten a big advantage, so he didn’t pursue why Li Ying agreed to his proposal all at once. As to whether he had been the first to like him, Li Ying didn’t like to say such things, so Yun Qingci in his previous life never knew that it was Li Ying who liked him first.
After the news of Li Ying’s marriage broke out, the Empress Dowager immediately welcomed him. Yun Qingci did not tell Li Ying that the Empress Dowager was the one who instructed him to find Li Ying, so Li Ying always thought that Yun Qingci went to him on his own accord.
If he had known from the beginning that it was the Empress Dowager who guided Yun Qingci, everything might have been different.
Because of this incident, both Yun Qingci’s father and brothers went to him and tried to convince him that he should never marry Li Ying. Yun Qingci hated them to begin with, and with his rebellious heart, he became even more resolute in his decision to be with Li Ying.
He also ran to Li Ying and requested fearlessly: “I want to move in with you right away.”
Naturally, Li Ying wanted to be with him as soon as possible, but he had to worry about Yun Qingci’s reputation. If it became known that he had entered the palace, both the Prime Minister’s Mansion and Yun Qingci himself would be pointed at and disgraced.
“Don’t mess around.”
“Don’t you like me?”
At that time, Yun Qingci always liked to ask him these things. Li Ying explained the pros and cons to him calmly, but Yun Qingci just shook his head: “I don’t care what they think.”
“But I care.” Li Ying rubbed his head and said patiently, “Wait a little bit, okay?”
“But I want to see you every day…” Yun Qingci threw himself into Li Ying’s arms and tightly wrapped his arms around his waist.
In fact, Yun Qingci didn’t quite understand why people always had to point fingers at others. Until he was reborn, he had never understood why such things could be anyone’s business.
Therefore, he never understood the self-restraining that Li Ying had done all those years either. He always cared too much, so he lost too much without noticing.
Only on the day when he lost the love of his life that had always filled his heart did he realize that everything burdening him all those years was in fact nothing more than the things imposed on him by outsiders.
Because he wanted to be favored by his father too much, he desperately forced himself to become excellent. Because he wanted to guard the country too much, he worked hard to make himself a diligent and wise ruler. Because he wanted the officials in the court to be in awe, he had to check and balance them.
So he ignored Yun Qingci who always liked him unconditionally, was close to him and admired him.
Even if he was reborn now, he would still feel regret holding his lost, now found lover.
Why couldn’t he just abandon everything remorselessly like Yun Qingci?
But he could only regret.
Yun Qingci’s world was either black or white. He could ignore all the attention focused on him, because the opinions of others could not affect his life. But Li Ying was sitting in that high seat, and the gazes of others were enough to ruin him.
Yun Qingci listened to Li Ying’s words and obediently went back. Because Prime Minister Yun refused to agree to the marriage, Yun Qingci rushed to the Prime Minister’s mansion to make trouble several times and said a lot of cruel words before finally getting his father’s consent.
But he had one condition. On the day of his marriage, Yun Qingci had to depart from the Prime Minister’s mansion.
Both father and son compromised with each other.
Because he was married to the Son of Heaven, the Ministry of Rites invited someone to explain him the process, where he should kneel, where he should nod and where he should stand still and watch his manners; each of them had their own version for the ritual.
Yun Qingci was smart and he memorized everything that needed to be memorized.
The night before the wedding, Prime Minister Yun came to his courtyard and brought him a comb, “This is your mother’s… the one she liked very much back then. She often called for me to comb her hair. My heart for her has never changed. I hope that this comb will also make His Majesty never change his mind.”
This reason for giving him the comb was too far-fetched.
However, because it involved the future of him and Li Ying, Yun Qingci did not quarrel and thanked him calmly.
Prime Minister Yun silently put down the comb, looked at him for a while, then turned and left.
When he turned his back to Yun Qingci and walked out, he couldn’t help but raise his sleeves and wipe the corners of his eyes.
Although Yun Qingci accepted the comb, he had never asked Li Ying to comb his hair with it. He didn’t say anything that night but, even if his father’s heart hadn’t changed, he still killed his mother unintentionally. He didn’t want to get to that point with Li Ying.
Now, Yun Qingci suddenly remembered something. He got out of Li Ying’s arms, found the comb in the cupboard and then ran back to hand it over to Li Ying, “From now on, I entrust my head to you.”
Li Ying took it, put it away solemnly and said, “Okay.”
In his previous life, Yun Qingci was afraid that bad fate would affect him and Li Ying, so he abandoned even the good blessings. Now he had no taboos and was not afraid of anything. This comb left by his mother could finally see the sun again.
Li Ying pulled him to his side, held his hand, looked at him for a while and suddenly laughed in a low voice.
Yun Qingci looked confused: “What are you laughing at?”
“I just suddenly thought about the day we got married.”
Yun Qingci: “…”
His face flushed bright red.
In order to figure out what Li Ying wanted to do to him that day, Yun Qingci deliberately did a lot of homework before getting married. After studying the thirty-six techniques many times, he finally understood what Li Ying wanted to express that day.
On the night they got married, he sat on the wedding bed and waited for Li Ying’s arrival, meanwhile quietly pulling out a few pieces of paper from his sleeve where he depicted his favourite positions of the thirty-six techniques. He deliberately tore them out of the book because he was afraid that he would forget everything when he saw Li Ying.
With those pieces of paper, Yun Qingci was very sure that he would make Li Ying go crazy for him, even in the days after the wedding. He didn’t know whether it was true or not, but that’s what the book said anyway.
He carefully memorized the information on the paper again, just like a candidate preparing for an exam, prudently and seriously.
While he was fully absorbed in it, the door of the room was pushed open.
Li Ying walked in.
Although he was the Son of Heaven and no one made him drink, he drank a few more glasses on such a big day, most likely because he was happy in his heart. His cheeks were slightly red as he entered the door.
Yun Qingci reflexively hid the paper behind him, raised his face and said, “You’re back.”
Li Ying noticed something was wrong with him but didn’t ask more and said softly, “Have you eaten the food I sent you?”
“I have.” Because of the cumbersome rules for the wedding of the imperial family, everyone was worried Yun Qingci would not be able to last. When he went out, Prime Minister Yun specially sent someone to stuff him with pastries to keep him comfortable on the road. Yun Qingci himself was not a person who followed the rules, and he ate it all up in the sedan chair.
Later, during a break in the ancestral worshipping ritual, Li Ying quietly slipped him a few pieces of green bean cake, which he also ate.
Li Ying relaxed, walked over and sat beside him. His gaze fell on the corner of the book page exposed under the quilt; he paused slightly and asked, “What is that?”
“…Oh.“ Yun Qingci hurriedly pulled out the few pieces of paper, crumpled them in a ball and said, “When I was idle, I tore up a couple pages of poems to memorize.”
Li Ying’s expression was very surprised: “When did you study so hard?”
He said that as if Yun Qingci didn’t usually work hard, so Yun Qingci’s tone was quite dissatisfied: “I didn’t want to get bored.”
Li Ying raised his eyebrows and couldn’t help laughing.
Yun Qingci didn’t like reading. It was not that he couldn’t read; he simply didn’t like it. When he was with Li Ying and Lin Huaijin in the past, they would both study seriously and he would fall asleep on the side.
He smiled at Yun Qingci, got up and walked to the table to pour two glasses of wine, then came back and handed one of them to Yun Qingci, saying, “Nupital wine.”
Yun Qingci raised his hand and took it, with a rare shy look. Li Ying was also a little self-conscious, and the two blushed slightly and drank the wine.
After drinking, Yun Qingci’s brain went a bit blank, and all the things that he had written down were suddenly forgotten.
Li Ying sat quietly for a while and said slowly: “In the future, you and I will spend our lives together and die together.”
Yun Qingci nodded; his mind was full of what to do next, how to put the things in the book into practice, and he didn’t listen to what Li Ying said at all.
On that day, Yun Qingci wore a red wedding dress, embroidered with a golden phoenix spreading its wings to fly. His white face was exquisitely attractive against the bright red, so much that he looked even too beautiful.
Li Ying stared at him for a moment, wanting to do something, but felt that he was too young and worried that he might hurt him.
He felt uneasy and finally said, “First, undress and go to bed.”
He got up and took off his robe by himself.
Upon seeing this, Yun Qingci hurriedly took off his clothes. When Li Ying hung the clothes on the screen and looked back, his Lord Empress was already holding his clothes and handed them over obediently.
He took them and hung them on the screen.
The two of them, dressed in red soft undershirts, stood together in front of the screen, looking at each other and avoiding each other.
Yun Qingci spread his arms and then lowered them, saying softly, “Go to sleep, do you want to sleep?”
“Then…” Yun Qingci raised his arms again and said sternly: “Ca, carry me.”
Li Ying’s scalp tightened, he stepped forward to pick him up and gently put him on the bed.
Yun Qingci sat down seriously, looking at him nervously and expectantly.
He already knew almost everything about the process of the wedding night, but he couldn’t help feeling uneasy when he thought of practicing it with Li Ying.
He thought Li Ying would take the initiative a little bit but, after a long time of dawdling, Li Ying told him: “Tonight, just take a good rest. In two years, when you’re older, we will have sex.”
Yun Qingci was dumbfounded.
He suspected that Li Ying was joking.
He had worked so hard to prepare for so many days, and Li Ying said that they wouldn’t do it? Who was he kidding?
He didn’t hold back. He pulled Li Ying inside and they fell on the wedding bed together. He raised his foot and kicked the bed curtain down, hiding everything under the bed canopy from the sight.
Inside the dimly lit canopy, he kissed Li Ying fiercely and said, “Coward.”
“…I’m afraid I’ll hurt you.”
Yun Qingci made a ‘hmph’ sound, bit him and added resolutely: “Do you think I need you to manage?”
“Are you a man?”
The sky turned upside down in front of his eyes, and Yun Qingci saw Li Ying’s handsome face above him.
It was straightforward bullying.
When the atmosphere gradually changed, a ball of paper suddenly appeared on the bed from nowhere. Li Ying let go of him subconsciously. Yun Qingci was in a daze, completely unaware that the person on his body still had the leisure to open a ball of paper.
When he returned to his senses, Li Ying was staring at him silently.
Yun Qingci glanced at the paper and then at Li Ying, with a guilty expression on his face.
Li Ying looked at him for a long time, then suddenly picked him up and said, “You have done your homework so well, it would be wrong not to reward you.”
That night, they got closer to each other than ever before, but because someone suddenly dropped a few tears and backed out, they didn’t really make it to the end.
Li Ying gave him medicine halfway through, then hugged him and said mockingly: “Who is the coward now?”
Yun Qingci rubbed his eyes, while his mouth hardened: “You.”
Li Ying kissed his face: “Say it again?”
“You you you.”
Li Ying kissed him several times in a row. Yun Qingci was not afraid of him at all. He continued for a long time, until Li Ying was about to make a real move, and then he finally shut up.
Although Yun Qingci backed out that night, he was a person who refused to give up, and as soon as the pain faded, he secretly got to business again.
When they first got married, Li Ying would run to his palace every night, either to bring him food and drink, or to play with him. Yun Qingci also went to Jiangshan Palace every day. Today he would give Li Ying a piece of sweets he made personally, and tomorrow he would give him a pastry made by others.
Once, Li Ying felt tired during the day, so he took a ride to Yun Qingci’s place, wanting to find his Lord Empress and give him a hug. Because of Yun Qingci’s habit of taking a nap, Li Ying didn’t let anyone inform him in particular and walked behind the screen alone.
The curtains of the phoenix couch where Yun Qingci had always slept were tightly closed, but there was faint movement inside.
Li Ying was surprised and quietly opened the curtain to take a look, only to find that Yun Qingci was working on something seriously.
Li Ying only glanced at it, and the blood all over his body rushed to his head. Before he could make a sound or move, Yun Qingci had already raised his head in confusion. That overly innocent face coupled with his movements at this moment… Li Ying was young and immature, after all. He immediately felt a hot stream of fluid gush out of his nose and hastily raised his hand to cover it.
Yun Qingci returned to his senses and instinctively pulled the quilt to cover himself. He still clenched the jade cylinder between his thin white fingers. He looked at Li Ying who was covering his nose stupidly and asked with some embarrassment, “Why did you come here all of a sudden?”
“…” Li Ying couldn’t speak.
He never dreamed that his Lord Empress would secretly hide behind the bed curtains and do this kind of thing.
Yun Qingci felt a little embarrassed, and Li Ying also felt very embarrassed, and because both of them were embarrassed, they didn’t say anything. After a few breaths of silence, Li Ying silently got under the bed canopy.
The two sat opposite each other, before Yun Qingci bit his lip and said, “You, why are you covering your mouth?”
After asking, he found that Li Ying was looking at the top of the bed with his head tilted up, and there were blood stains between his fingers. In an afterthought, he figured it out and couldn’t help but curve his lips and smile secretly.
Li Ying took out a handkerchief from his sleeve and wiped his nose clean. Confirming that he was no longer bleeding, he said, “You can still smile.”
Yun Qingci obediently suppressed his smile and looked at him softly.
Li Ying forced himself not to think about it and said with a stern face: “In broad daylight, what are you doing hiding here by yourself?”
“I want to try it myself first, and I’ll find you when it doesn’t hurt.”
Li Ying glanced at the thing in his hand that was shining moistly. He covered his nose again, tilted up his head and said slowly: “Who told you to do it in broad daylight.”
“I didn’t want to show it to you.”
Seeing his flustered appearance, Yun Qingci didn’t feel shy at all. He took out his handkerchief to wipe Li Ying’s face and laughed at him: “It’s not like you haven’t seen it before.”
“…” It wasn’t that he hadn’t seen it before, but he hadn’t seen Yun Qingci doing it himself.
The bloodstains couldn’t be cleaned with a dry handkerchief. Yun Qingci quickly ordered someone to prepare hot water, but Li Ying didn’t bother with himself and carried Yun Qingci straight over and got him cleaned up first.
Yun Qingci put his arms around his neck, looked at his serious appearance and couldn’t help but smile again: “The blood on your face is dry.”
“Don’t mess around by yourself.” Li Ying endured patiently, dressed him up and stuffed him back under the quilt, saying, “You’re so reckless, what if you injure yourself.”
“Oh.” Yun Qingci was very obedient: “Then I will wait for Ah Ying next time.”
“…” He really didn’t know how to be ashamed at all.
Li Ying pinched his cheek, and Yun Qingci smiled at him brashly.
When Li Ying also washed the blood stains on his face and returned to the bed clean, the two of them huddled together. Yun Qingci remembered something and asked, “Why did you suddenly come here?”
“I wanted to find you for a nap.”
“I haven’t slept yet, let’s sleep together now.”
Li Ying hugged him tightly, kissed him on the forehead and said, “Okay, let’s nap together.”
The young couple hugged; Yun Qingci closed his eyes and kept them closed obediently for a while. After a while, he suddenly thought about something and burst into laughter.
Li Ying opened his eyes to look at him questioningly.
Yun Qingci laid in his arms with a smile.
Li Ying was not happy: “Do you still have the face to laugh at me?”
“Who would think you’re so immature.” Yun Qingci said, his eyes curving into crescent moons. Li Ying pinched his face and couldn’t stop kissing him. Yun Qingci obediently returned his kisses while asking in a small voice, “Did you like it?”
Li Ying didn’t react and asked in a low voice, “What?”
Yun Qingci’s eyes were shining and he leaned sweetly towards his ear: “If you like it, I’ll show it to you.”
Li Ying’s lips trembled and then he used all his strength to hold Yun Qingci in his arms.
At that time, Yun Qingci was simple and naive, and just wanted to be with him wholeheartedly. At that time, Li Ying had to remind himself again and again about his concerns because he loved Yun Qingci, but in the end, he was not as brave as Yun Qingci and he was bent by external forces.
If he could start over from the moment they got married, Li Ying vowed he would definitely protect his Lord Empress with his life.
In the years after he had lost Yun Qingci, he recalled every moment of their lives more than once, turned over everything about Yun Qingci again and again in his memory. Then he discovered that Yun Qingci had filled every inch of his flesh and blood silently, penetrating deep into his bone marrow.
Each time he recalled those times was like taking a knife to the flesh, and the immense pain was accompanied by a deadly sweetness.
He cut his flesh, fed the snake, and covered himself in scars all over. He was neither human nor a ghost. Everyone around him, including Liu Ziru, thought he was crazy.
Only Li Ying knew that he was not crazy.
His mind was very clear.
Those people didn’t know how good Yun Qingci was. Of course, he later became extreme and paranoid, but he was still as good in Li Ying’s heart.
Even if he went to reincarnate, in the next life, and in the life after that, he would never meet someone who treated him as well as Yun Qingci.
But in those years when he could have lived like a human being, he felt, like everyone else, that Yun Qingci was extreme, that Yun Qingci was obsessive, that Yun Qingci was at fault because of this and that.
Those faults in the eyes of the so-called normal people, it was only when he became like Yun Qingci himself that he finally understood shame, sense of honor and prejudice were just things for outsiders to point their fingers at. What did they understand and why did they matter?
It was ridiculous but he, Li Ying, was just a fool in the end.
Yun Qingci could always easily make him emotional and make his heart swell.
He told Yun Qingci: “I like it, but you don’t need to… Ah Ci, you have to love yourself, understand?”
Of course, Yun Qingci understood.
He liked Li Ying, and marrying Li Ying was precisely the manifestation of his love for himself.
In his heart, when two people were together, they were both physically and mentally happy with each other, so there was no such thing as taking advantage of each other. He liked Li Ying, and naturally he needed to do his best to make him feel it, and naturally he needed to do his best to make him happy, because when Li Ying was happy, he was also happy.
He made Li Ying happy for his own happiness.
Yun Qingci’s love for Li Ying was too strong. He loved him almost instinctively. Even if Yun Qingci didn’t understand it, Li Ying always worried that Yun Qingci would lose himself because of him.
The position he was in was like walking on thin ice, and he needed to find a way back for Yun Qingci.
Therefore, he used Qi Renwei to help Yun Qingci found the Qing Division. It was not until he thought that all the dust was about to settle and there was insufficient manpower that he finally resorted to the strategy of taking the Qing Division from Yun Qingci.
He had loved cautiously all his life and thought he finally would be able to love without restraint after that incident was over, but he lost the beam of light he had been holding in his hand.
If he’d known it before, why would he have to pursue stability. He could’ve just gone wild like Yun Qingci, what’s wrong with that.
But no matter what his original intention was, since he’d made a mistake, it was his mistake; so he deserved everything that happened to him later.
At this moment, by the fire, Yun Qingci, who was lying on his lap, fell asleep.
The snow was still falling outside and the sky was already dark. Li Ying gently tucked away his long hair, then picked him up and put him on the bed.
This was his fifteenth year on the throne, and it was also the twelfth year since he and Yun Qingci married. Tonight in his previous life, Yun Qingci had jumped off the Qifeng Tower in the cold wind.
In this life, he took Yun Qingci to the other courtyard in advance in order not to stay in the palace. Those things would never happen again.
He would keep guarding Yun Qingci until dawn tomorrow.
Yun Qingci fell asleep when it was getting dark and because he went to sleep too early, he woke up in the middle of the night. When he woke up, Li Ying was still looking at him. His eyes were dark and his eyelashes were dark. There was a dim lamp lit in the room, illuminating his face.
Yun Qingci blinked, his expression a little confused: “What time is it?”
Yun Qingci did not get an answer but heard Li Ying’s call: “Ah Ci.”
“In a few years, when Ah Heng grows up, I will take you out of Shangyang to take a look around, okay?”
“Okay.” Yun Qingci became excited: “Where are we going?”
“Thousands of miles of rivers and mountains, sunsets on the sea, misty solitude of the desert, silver wolves in the snow, we will go and see whatever you want to see.”
Yun Qingci’s eyes shone: “Really?”
“Then I want to go to Lingzhou to see my eldest sister and eat Lingzhou’s grilled pork shoulder.” As soon as he woke up, Yun Qingci’s mind turned quickly: “I also need to go to my grandfather’s estate to eat sweet sesame cakes and jellied tofu. My father says that the grilled pork shoulders, sweet sesame cakes and jellied tofu in Shangyang City are not authentic.”
Li Ying’s lips curved, his eyes infinitely gentle, as he said, “Okay.”
As soon as he said it, Yun Qingci’s stomach began to growl; his imagination was too good and his internal organs were tempted and issued a protest.
He glanced at Li Ying secretly.
Li Ying asked him, “What do you want to eat?”
“…fresh meat pastries?” Yun Qingci said with a worried expression: “Is the shop still open now?”
Li Ying got up, walked a few steps, then turned back, reached out for the quilt, wrapped him up and said, “Let’s go to the kitchen.”
“Why should I go too?”
“Because I want to look at you.”
Tonight was very special. Even if he knew it was impossible, he still couldn’t help but worry. If Yun Qingci was gone, if all of that was just a dream he had, what should he do?
Li Ying put him on a chair in the kitchen and then brought in a soft couch. This time Yun Qingci didn’t bother him, climbed on it himself and leaned back, saying, “You are so strange today, you don’t allow me to go anywhere. We were sitting in front of the fire for a long time reminiscing the past… and now you want to go to the kitchen in the middle of the night to cook for me, what’s wrong with you?”
Li Ying had already poured the water and started to make the dough. “I miss you,” he said.
“I’m right in front of you.”
“I miss you all the same.” Li Ying glanced at him, and Yun Qingci couldn’t help but smile shyly.
He looked and secretly wondered what a good day it was. Winter, heavy snow, cold night…
He remembered something and turned his face to look at Li Ying again, only to find that the latter would glance at him from time to time.
Yun Qingci pursed his lips and said, “When did you learn cooking?”
“Before asking you to hand over the Qing Division,” Li Ying said, keeping his emotions out of his voice. “At that time, I thought that after the matter was over, you and I would wander the world. If you couldn’t buy that pastry, wouldn’t you be craving for it terribly?”
“Then you at that time…”
He had thought of everything in advance when he planned to take down the Zhang family in his previous life; but in his previous life, he hadn’t told Yun Qingci and so, he lost him.
The kitchen became quiet.
They had been together for too long, and even if they didn’t say a word, they could stay together for a whole day.
Yun Qingci didn’t ask anything else about his previous life. He already knew everything he needed to know, and he had already let go of everything that had passed. Unless Li Ying upset him one day, he wouldn’t deliberately turn over the old debts.
He soon caught a whiff of the scent.
Yun Qingci was lazy. Usually he sent people to buy the pastry. When they brought it, it would be somewhat warm. But it was the most fragrant to eat while it was hot. The dough was crispy and the meat inside was tender and smooth.
The yummy pastry was quickly placed on a plate and Li Ying said, “The circumstances were limited, so you’ll have to make do.”
When the emperor took the kitchen knife and steadily cut the pastry, the sauce and juicy meat in the middle immediately squeezed out, accompanied with a puff of heat that looked, smelled and tasted perfect.
Yun Qingci couldn’t wait to reach out and was stopped by Li Ying: “Use chopsticks to eat.”
Yun Qingci’s mouth flattened, his expression unhappy: “You dislike me.”
“I’m afraid you’ll get scalded.” Li Ying put the chopsticks into his hand and coaxed him: “Be good.”
Yun Qingci’s expression improved a bit. He took the chopsticks and put a piece in his mouth, praising Li Ying without hesitation: “It’s delicious.”
“There is still some flavour missing, is it really delicious?”
“Really, it’s better than before.”
Over the years, Li Ying had also made this pastry for him. He would definitely make it whenever Yun Qingci wanted to eat it, but Yun Qingci was not a fool. He wouldn’t pester him to make it with his own hands. Most of the time, he would still send someone to buy it.
Li Ying folded his arms on the table; his gaze fell on Yun Qingci’s happy face and he said, “Aren’t you tired of eating this pastry for two lifetimes?”
“No.” Yun Qingci said as a matter of fact: “I like you for two lifetimes and I haven’t gotten tired of it yet.”
Li Ying smiled softly.
Yun Qingci had always been persistent in his likes. If he liked to eat something, he wouldn’t get tired of it unless he suddenly found worms inside. If he liked someone, this person would always be in his heart, unless they betrayed him first.
A piece of tender meat was suddenly delivered to his mouth, and Yun Qingci said, “You can eat it too.”
…Even when eating, he would think about the other.
It didn’t sound like a big deal, but Li Ying thought that Yun Qingci was so nice, nice everywhere, so how could he, Li Ying, get such a good person? How could he be fortunate enough to be loved by him wholeheartedly and fortunate enough to love him wholeheartedly.
Yun Qingci didn’t like to eat too much at night. Although he woke up in the middle of the night, he would still be sleepy before the early hours of the morning and he was afraid he wouldn’t be comfortable lying in bed after eating too much.
The pastry was eaten by the two of them, and Li Ying cleaned up the kitchen. According to Yun Qingci, it should’ve been left to the servants tomorrow, but Li Ying said that if the two of them were going to leave the imperial family in the future, they should be learning to take care of themselves.
Yun Qingci could see that Li Ying was now just like he had been back then, wanting to give his partner the best in everything. The only difference was that Yun Qingci always liked to say what he had done and Li Ying was still used to keep silent.
After the meal, the two left the kitchen together.
The snow in the dark night shone brightly in the courtyard, and the lights hanging under the porch looked like ornaments. There were snowflakes still floating in the sky. It was not a clear night, but from afar, one could see a ‘full moon’ hanging from the eaves of the tower.
One could see the courtyard from the top of the Qifeng Tower, and similarly, the eaves of the Qifeng Tower could be distantly seen from the courtyard.
Li Ying stopped and raised his eyes to look at the lamp.
Only by seeing that lamp could he truly believe that he had been reborn into a new life.
Li Ying gently took Yun Qingci’s hand and whispered, “Thank you, Ah Ci.”
Yun Qingci glanced at him and said, “It’s your night pearl, why do you always have to take it to heart.”
That night pearl was indeed given to him by Li Ying.
Back then, Li Ying always remembered that Yun Qingci was afraid of the dark. After they got married, he ordered lights to be hung everywhere in the palace, even in the imperial garden glazed lamps were placed on the stones. They had to be lit up every night and blown out at dawn.
When there were lights, Yun Qingci liked to go out for a walk after dinner. At first, he thought that it was the palace rule. It was only when someone told him that Li Ying arranged all this after they got married that he suddenly understood.
To say he was unhappy, that is impossible.
He could never hide things in his heart, so he ran to Li Ying’s Jiangshan Palace.
The young emperor sat in front of the jade desk, only to hear the sound of footsteps, and the next moment someone pounced on him, hugging his waist tightly.
“Ah Ying, Ah Ying.”
“Hmm?” Li Ying actually wanted to hear him call him ‘gege’ more than once, but Yun Qingci only called him that a few times on the boat when they first met. Later, he would only softly call him that when he wanted something. He sat upright and let Yun Qingci cling to him and rub against him. He asked, “What happened this time?”
“They said that you lit all the lights in the palace for me, is that real?”
“Of course, it’s true.”
Yun Qingci crawled into his arms, pestered him and asked, “Is it because I was afraid of the dark before?”
“Aren’t you afraid now?”
Yun Qingci said without hesitation: “If Ah Ying is here, I am not afraid.”
At that time, he was indeed not as afraid of the dark as before. Although he still didn’t like walking at night, it had nothing to do with being afraid of the dark. It was simply because he couldn’t see anything at night, and he didn’t like the feeling of darkness in front of him.
It reminded him of that time when he woke up and the lights in the room were out, and his mother laid down in front of his bed. He thought that his mother was too tired to stay awake, so he laid quietly and didn’t move to wake her up. Even if he was very hungry, he waited until dawn honestly.
Then he knew that his mother was gone.
Sometimes Yun Qingci wondered what if he had another lamp at hand that night. Would he be able to find his mother’s condition in time? Would his mother be rescued?
On that day, Li Ying suddenly remembered something and said, “I will take you somewhere.”
At that time, Li Ying was, of course, much more mature than his peers, but still far less restrained than later. After thinking of something, he immediately took Yun Qingci’s hand and walked out.
He took Yun Qingci all the way to the imperial treasury. A magnificent looking guard opened the door. As soon as they walked in, Li Ying immediately said to Yun Qingci: “Let’s look and see if there is a night pearl here.”
Yun Qingci looked excited: “Night, night pearl?”
“It seems that I heard my father mention it when I was very young, but I have never seen it and I couldn’t just walk in here before.”
Yun Qingci hurriedly rummaged around together with him and said, “Then are you considered to be guarding against yourself and stealing from yourself now?”
“What guarding against yourself and stealing from yourself, now the world belongs to me, so what’s a night pearl?” Probably because it was finally possible to give Yun Qingci something of value, Li Ying’s tone sounded a little arrogant.
At that time, his heart and eyes were always full of Yun Qingci, and he would feel happy because Yun Qingci was kind to him and happy because he could be kind to Yun Qingci.
The two teenagers searched for a long time, and finally Yun Qingci found a glowing thing in a wooden box. He was so happy: “It’s really a night pearl!”
A touch of loss flashed in Li Ying’s eyes quickly.
He regretted bringing Yun Qingci to look for it. Originally, he wanted to hold the night pearl and give it to Yun Qingci. Now Yun Qingci had found it by himself. Although it seemed the result was the same, Li Ying still felt a little melancholy in his heart. .
Yun Qingci didn’t dare to take it. He timidly looked at Li Ying: “Is this really for me?”
“Naturally, it’s for you.“ When asked, Li Ying answered quickly: “All my things are yours.”
Li Ying almost never called himself an imperial ‘me’ (zhen) in front of Yun Qingci. From the beginning to the end, he claimed to be ‘zhen’ very few times. He walked forward and said softly, “Take it out.”
Yun Qingci didn’t dare, he whispered, “Will it be hot?”
Li Ying was taken aback and immediately stretched out his hand to help him touch it. He thought it might be hot, but he laughed when he touched it and said to Yun Qingci, “Coward.”
He got what he wanted, picked up the night pearl and then handed it to Yun Qingci personally. He curved his eyes and said, “With it, Ah Ci will no longer be afraid of the dark.”
Li Ying was rarely ceremonial when he gave things. He just handed them over as a matter of fact. There were no surprises, no tricks and everything was extremely simple.
Yun Qingci looked very serious.
“Thank you, Ah Ying.”
The brilliance of the night pearl shone on the faces of the two teenagers, and Li Ying leaned closer and said, “Give me a reward.”
Yun Qingci raised his face and kissed him without hesitation, saying, “I’ll reward you with being able to be kind to me for the rest of your life.”
“Then… I’ll thank you in advance.”
The sky of the snowy night was faintly purple.
Yun Qingci lowered his eyes and glanced at the arms that were holding him tightly.
Li Ying’s arms were much longer and his hands much larger than when he was a teenager, but when Yun Qingci was held by him, there was still the familiar sense of proportion between them.
He wordlessly interlocked their fingers.
“It’s snowing, so cold.”
A robe was draped over him and he was held in a tight embrace.
“Let’s go back to the house.”
The snow fell, rustling softly, and the night was as cold as a blade.
The round lamp was hanging high on the eaves of the tower, dispelling the darkness in the corner.
The door and the windows of the courtyard were closed tightly, and the house was warm like spring.
“Are you still cold now?”
“…Keep my feet warm too.”