What was I Thinking when I Ditch the Second Male Protagonist Chapter 77

Chapter 77

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Han Jiao was shocked.

Prince Yan’s reaction completely exceeded his expectations.

Things shouldn’t have been this way.

Xie Guang, with such a stubborn and straightforward personality, how could he have kept such a huge grievance hidden in his heart for so many years?

From childhood to adulthood, Xie Guang never knew the reason behind his Seventh Brother’s odd behavior, but he still acted as a responsible older brother.

How hurtful must it be for Xie Guang to endure the avoidance and indifference caused by Xie Xiu’s trauma-related disorder?

Old Seventh obeyed Senior Minister Li in the struggle for the throne, which, in Xie Guang’s view, was a complete rupture and betrayal.

To be fair, Xie Xiu was vulnerable due to his congenital defect, but the real harm he endured might not compare to Xie Guang’s.

The difference was that Xie Guang was a normal person, albeit with a rough personality, and everyone thought he could tough it out on his own.

He endured it for seven years without complaining to anyone, but when he revealed his wound to Han Jiao at this moment, it was still bleeding profusely.

Nobody took his pain seriously, even Han Jiao, who, a moment ago, was only thinking about how to get Prince Yan to cooperate in treating Xie Xiu.

It turned out that even good-natured adults could bear unbearable pain. No wonder in Han Jiao’s era, many people wanted to label themselves as depressed.

Perhaps they just wanted to be treated gently and patiently, like injured patients.

Being a normal person was tiring too.

“Your Highness, I deserve a thousand deaths.” Han Jiao kowtowed, blaming himself. “I failed to understand your worries and overstepped my bounds. Please, Your Highness, punish me.”

Prince Yan regained his composure and realized his outburst. He quickly took a deep breath, got up, and went over to help Han Jiao, pulling him back to the table. He himself sat down as well.

The two of them remained silent for a moment. Prince Yan, somewhat boldly, picked up the wine jug in front of Master Han and asked again, “Would you have a couple of drinks with me today, to ease the tension?”

Han Jiao looked at Prince Yan, nodded with respect, took the wine jug, and poured a full glass for the Prince. However, he only filled his own glass halfway.

Prince Yan noticed his little trick and couldn’t help but laugh. “At least wait for me to say ‘help yourself’ before drinking less. Who pours only half a glass for themselves? If it weren’t for my admiration of your talent, you’d be facing a barrel of wine as punishment today.”

Han Jiao: “……”

Because he rarely socialized, his mind had been elsewhere earlier, and he had forgotten about this matter.

Han Jiao didn’t drink alcohol, not to maintain his health or image, but because he would control once he was drunk.

Specifically, he would cry when he was drunk!

His parents told him this. He had no memory when he sobered again.

The first time Han Jiao got drunk was at a family celebration after passing the imperial examination. His mother said that after a few drinks, he was lost in thought. Suddenly, as the banquet was ending, he burst into tears. His parents had to explain to relatives that it was tears of joy.

The second time he got drunk was in the new county where he was resettling the refugees. On the night before leaving, the townspeople urged him to drink, almost making him cry. Han Jiao couldn’t refuse and ended up drinking several glasses. Later, he didn’t remember anything.

Taking care of him in his tent for sleep were some village elders and children.

The children told him the next day that he cried heartbreakingly the previous night until he fell asleep from exhaustion, muttering in his sleep.

Han Jiao nervously asked the children what he had said in his dream, and their response was quite strange.

“Your Highness, please don’t go.”

This inexplicable drunken talk made Han Jiao ponder for a while. He wondered if the children had misheard, but several of them claimed to have heard him repeat that sentence three or five times.

So, he started to think about which “Your Highness” he meant in that sentence.

During his visit to the new county, there were a total of four “Your Highnesses” who came to see him. Considering his worries at that time, maybe he dreamt that Senior Minister Xu had sown discord, and he was being abandoned by Prince Yan. Hence, he cried out, “Your Highness, please don’t go.”

But that didn’t quite match his personality. If he were falsely accused, he would surely argue with Senior Minister Xu to the end, not easily despair to the point of tears.

Who knew? Maybe he was more vulnerable when drunk.

Anyway, Han Jiao absolutely couldn’t get drunk in front of Prince Yan. If he ended up clinging to Prince Yan’s leg, begging him not to leave, he’d basically have to pack his bags and retire, too embarrassed to show his face!

Therefore, Han Jiao’s behavior from this point on was rather audacious. For every drink Prince Yan had, Han Jiao took a sip. It seemed improper for the Emperor to treat his subject this way, so he couldn’t be too indifferent.

“Master, there’s no need for self-blame.” After two drinks, Prince Yan calmed down. Even though Han Jiao’s attitude toward drinking didn’t show any self-blame, Prince Yan sincerely comforted him, “I was just reminded of some old matters that made me uneasy. It’s not about blaming you. Let’s not talk about these troublesome matters in the future.”

Han Jiao put down his wine glass, stared seriously at Prince Yan, and said, “Your Highness, the way you treat me as a talented man, I deeply admire in my heart. I’m willing to go through fire and water for you. Therefore, I cannot sit idly by and watch you harm yourself like this!”

Prince Yan’s expression changed. He put down his wine glass and, for the first time, he showed a stern and warning look to Han Jiao. “Master, there’s no need to mention that matter again. Old Seventh and I have long severed ties. Since Old Eighth mentioned those old matters to you, he must have told you that Old Seventh doesn’t even acknowledge me. Even if he were to seek reconciliation, I would never agree. I, Xie Guang, have a strong character. I may bend to a scholar, but I will never kneel to an enemy!”

Han Jiao unconsciously clenched his fists.

It was already at the limit.

Prince Yan was genuinely angry.

This ironheaded guy, though he usually treated him with great tolerance and respect, had his limits. Han Jiao understood the male lead’s personality in this situation. Once those boundaries were crossed, he wouldn’t give another chance.

It was the same for Prince Duan. According to what the Third Prince said, when Prince Duan first showed unusual symptoms, Prince Yan had apologized and tried to make amends countless times.

Back then, Xie Guang was willing to compromise because he still saw Xie Xiu as his little brother.

All of this came to an end the moment Xie Xiu joined forces with Senior Minister Li and opposed Prince Yan.

Now, in the eyes of Prince Yan, Prince Duan was an ungrateful traitor. Asking Prince Yan to cooperate in treating Prince Duan’s condition wasn’t a matter of being a gracious older brother anymore. It was a matter of shame.

Han Jiao lowered his head in silence.

The atmosphere in the elegant room descended into an unfriendly silence.

At this point, one more word of advice could completely enrage Prince Yan.

But if he retreated now and brought it up when Prince Yan was in a better mood, it wouldn’t only make Prince Yan angry. It would also make him lose respect for Han Jiao.

Han Jiao was nervous, sweating profusely.

After a long silence, Han Jiao gathered his courage and said, “If I were Your Highness, I would feel even more wronged and resentful! A brother as ungrateful as that, pretending to be injured, seeking sympathy, and framing his elder brother—does he have no conscience?”

Prince Yan almost choked on his drink when he heard this. He looked at Han Jiao with a wry smile, shaking his head. “From the very first time we met, Master Han, you always manage to catch me off guard with your words.”

Han Jiao remained resolute. “I speak the truth, Your Highness. Prince Duan is truly out of line!”

Prince Yan sighed. “You don’t need to defend me by scolding Old Seventh. We have already severed our ties, and I no longer consider him a brother. I hold no grudge against him.”

Even though playing mind games with this ironheaded kid wasn’t quite straightforward, Han Jiao had no other way to clear up the misunderstanding between him and Prince Duan. So, he pretended to be indignant and said, “During our first meeting, I thought Prince Duan was simple-minded and had no grand ambitions. But little did I know, he purposely slandered you in front of the Emperor, faking an injury to make you unable to defend yourself!”

The still naive Prince Yan unintentionally fell into Master Han’s trap. He explained with a helpless expression, “Old Seventh didn’t really report me to Father Emperor. It’s just that he hasn’t spoken to anyone for many years, and everyone assumed that I had driven him mad.”

Han Jiao pretended to be surprised. “Not speaking to anyone for so many years? It takes real determination to fake that for such a long time. This person’s hidden depths are truly unfathomable!”

“Perhaps it wasn’t even a pretense. I can’t recall the exact circumstances back then. In my haste, I was reckless, and maybe when I pinned him, I actually hit the back of his head. Anyway, it’s all in the past, and Master Han, you don’t need to take up my cause.”

Han Jiao sighed. “Your Highness, you’re too kind and just. You still hold benevolent thoughts about Prince Duan and others of his ilk.”

Prince Yan wasn’t sure how to explain. “Old Seventh isn’t like ordinary people. He lacks the ability to scheme against others. I don’t think he intentionally framed me. What chills my heart is his ingratitude and lack of conscience.”

Han Jiao looked puzzled. “Your Highness, didn’t you grow up together since childhood? Haven’t you noticed his lack of gratitude and conscience before?”

He intentionally presented some contradictions in Xie Xiu’s character, different from ordinary people, trying to make Prince Yan realize that the situation isn’t straightforward.

“It wasn’t like this before,” Prince Yan firmly stated, “He used to be very attached to me when he was a child. I treated him well, and he liked being with me. Sometimes he would work tirelessly to create some useless crafts to make me happy, and no amount of advice could stop him.”

“How can you call that making you happy? It’s more like he was being stubborn, not caring about your feelings!”

“……” Prince Yan, unsure how to explain Old Seventh’s peculiar nature to outsiders, hesitated and finally said, “He didn’t intend to make me angry. Old Seventh hasn’t been great at understanding what others want since he was young. It’s not that he doesn’t care, but he genuinely doesn’t know. It’s quite strange. He believes that if he acts in a way he thinks you’d like, he’ll do it. That’s why I used to call him a silly fool when we were kids.”

Prince Yan’s confused demeanor warmed Han Jiao’s heart.

It turned out that from a young age, Prince Yan had noticed that Xie Xiu had difficulty understanding others’ thoughts, and he had never blamed his younger brother for it.

“Your Highness, you’ve been too forgiving. It seems that Prince Duan never really regarded you highly. I’ve heard from the Eighth Prince that Prince Duan used to enjoy following Prince Ling around. Even though Prince Ling wasn’t particularly kind to Prince Duan when they were kids, it shows that Prince Duan didn’t follow others because they treated him well. He followed whoever he liked. When he made crafts for you, it might not have been to please you, but simply because he liked you. Doing things for you made him happy.”

Prince Yan was taken aback by his words and pondered for a moment. He sighed and said, “Master, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Perhaps from a young age, Old Seventh never saw me as his brother. It was always his own choice.”

“Is that so?” Han Jiao gave one last hint, “Then why didn’t Prince Duan follow his other brothers when he was young? If he didn’t see you as a brother, why didn’t he make crafts for his other brothers day and night?”

Prince Yan looked at Han Jiao with confusion and then furrowed his brow. “Are you trying to deceive me again? Are you defending Old Seventh?”

Han Jiao mustered his courage and admitted, “Am I defending Prince Duan? It’s always been you explaining Prince Duan’s differences. Your Highness, after Prince Duan’s wetnurse passed away, no one understands Prince Duan better than you do. Please, give your wayward younger brother one more chance and think carefully. Is it really because of ingratitude and lack of conscience that he started showing unusual behavior many years ago?”

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