Luo Huai Yuan’s face had finally returned to normal. Although there was still some faint bruising, it was at least much better than before.
With his round eyes, high nose-bridge and lips that were neither thin nor thick, he was probably quite a handsome fellow if his face weren’t too round. Since he was still young, his chubby face didn’t look overweight, but was rather like the cute sort of baby fat. Especially since his eyes were lively, giving him a slightly crafty air and making his whole face come alive.
“This place is rather nice, both cool and secluded. The view is also beautiful. How did big bro Luo discover this place? I’ve never heard big bro Shen mention it before.”
Luo Huai Yuan smiled complacently, “Little second Shen, that fellow, isn’t aware of this place. This is a good place that I’ve newly discovered.”
It turns out that for the sake of attracting the two to play with him, Luo Huai Yuan had spent quite some effort. He thought up several methods of eating, drinking and playing, and didn’t neglect in looking for fun places.
Xiao An Zi had heard about this place from one of the grannies who kept watch over the courtyard. She said that it was the perfect time to view the place. A little earlier and the lotus flowers wouldn’t be in bloom, and it wouldn’t be as beautiful. A little later and the flowers would be wilted, and there wouldn’t be anything to see.
This large field of lotus flowers had to do with when the Zhenguo Duke Estate was first constructed. At that time, the first generation Zhenguo Duke Shen Hen chose the land for the estate. The ancestral emperor promised to let him have his pick of land within the capital. Shen Hen saw that this place had a lake, and that it was filled with lotus flowers. He thus chose this spot to construct the estate. The entire Zhenguo Duke Estate was built around this lake, and during the construction they added several waterways to channel the water throughout. As for the original lake, it had never been changed.
The Zhenguo Duke Estate had several ponds that were connected to this place, and also planted lotus flowers in other places. However, what those masters in the estate saw was only the tip of the iceberg. For the servants, these lotus flowers weren’t only for decoration. Every year they would have to go harvest the lotus seed heads. Having spent time doing so, they naturally knew where the best views were.
For example, the waterway they just passed through was used by servants during their harvest. This waterway was too narrow, and only the little boat could pass through it. Whenever the masters came to tour the lake, they would use their decorated leisure boats, and naturally wouldn’t be able to see this scenic location.
After Luo Huai Yuan found out about it, he first went to check it out himself. He took a tour around the lake, and even with his self-proclaimed experience, he was still stunned at the sight. Thus he wanted to pull his little consort over to come play, and finally succeeded today.
“It’s peaceful and secluded here. Sitting here calms the heart and relaxes the mind. All your troubles fade away.”
Yan Yan seemed to have understood something. She looked over at him but didn’t see any signs. She lightly expelled her gloominess through her breath as she looked at the beads of water on the nearby lotus leaves.
The surroundings were very quiet. The grannies had stopped rowing the boat. Apart from the occasional sounds of swimming fish, there was nothing else.
“How is it? Not bad, right?”
After a while of silence, Luo Huai Yuan spoke and interrupted Yan Yan who was staring at the leaves while lost in thought.
“This place is wonderful. Thank you, big bro Luo.”
Luo Huai Yuan said: “I heard little second Shen say your mood hasn’t been good lately, and called you out to drive away your worries. Being cooped up inside all the time is too depressing.”
It wasn’t her first time playing with Luo Huai Yuan, and Yan Yan knew he was someone who loved messing around. Especially when he was with Shen Qi. The two would always come up with amusing antics. Yan Yan didn’t know that it was partially because Luo Huai Yuan was never a serious person, but also because the two of them wanted to cheer her up so they naturally kept clowning around.
“Little Ah Yan is only so old but already looks miserable all the time. Be careful of turning old too quickly.”
Luo Huai Yuan’s expression and teasing tone made Yan Yan unable to resist laughing and also glaring at him. Being glared at by the little consort made him feel blissful in his heart, but he still put on a show of great misery and bitterness.
Yan Yan looked at his appearance and felt it seemed familiar. After seeing his teasing glance, she suddenly understood.
“Oh, you dare imitate me?!” She clenched her little fist and hammered Luo Huai Yuan a couple of times.
Luo Huai Yuan’s eyes glowed as he hugged his head and scurried off.
“Aiya. The female mountain king is enraged. Aiya, she’s out for blood….”
He cried out all sorts of nonsense and even pretended to be extremely frightened. Yan Yan had clearly frozen but he was still putting on his performance happily.
Seeing Yan Yan stop moving, Luo Huai Yuan froze as well. He rubbed his nose and awkwardly said: “Hehe, little sis Ah Yan. I’m just messing around with you.”
He was secretly howling in his heart. He hadn’t been beaten by the consort in so long. How nostalgic.
Yan Yan let out a breath of relief and gave him another glare.
This fellow was someone who played along, and seeing that Yan Yan wasn’t really angry, he sidled over smiling. “Little sis Ah Yan, don’t be angry. I’m just messing around with you, hehe…..”
Then he served tea and offered fruits while apologizing ingratiatingly.
Due to this round of messing about, the two of them seemed to have gotten a bit closer.
Taking advantage of the opportunity and seeing that the mood was pretty good, Luo Huai Yuan asked: “Little sis Ah Yan, can you talk about why your mood hasn’t been good? This one will help ease your worries!”
Seeing her glance at him without speaking, he laughed in embarrassment and said quietly: “I get it. There are many things that outsiders can’t know about. Each household has their own troubles….”
He let out a sigh and sat at the front of the boat staring into the empty space in the distance. His expression was extremely melancholic. Luo Huai Yuan gave others the impression he was someone carefree and without worries. This sort of melancholic expression was truly incompatible with his usual self. Yan Yan looked at him weirdly.
“Let me tell you about my own matters….” This fellow spoke with a depressed expression.
This was throwing out a brick to get a jade.
If Yan Yan was older, this sort of performance naturally wouldn’t have been easy to pull off. But since she was only ten, she had just started developing her own view of the world. She also had her own troubles and worries. Hearing someone similar in age talk about his own troubles was also a good source of guidance and release. They were both children. Didn’t boys and girls their age enjoy telling each other their feelings?
It had to be said Luo Huai Yuan had a good grasp of human nature.
He first created a relaxing atmosphere. Then, he lowered her vigilance by messing around and closed the distance between them. Finally he used the “throwing out a brick to get a jade” method, using himself as an example to help Yan Yan think through her own worries. Therefore, after Luo Huai Yuan finished telling her about his own matters, Yan Yan was silent for a long, long time.
She was a little shocked. She had long since realized that big bro Luo showing up in such a manner at her grandfather’s house meant his situation definitely wasn’t good. However, she never thought it would be this way. It seems that every household had quite a lot of strife. The royal family’s was especially bitter.
“Big bro Luo, aren’t you….”
“Aren’t I what?”
“Aren’t you upset?” Why are you still able to laugh in a carefree manner!? She didn’t dare imagine herself in his situation.
“What does being upset accomplish, and what does not being upset accomplish?”
These words were too profound. Yan Yan could only understand their surface meaning.
“Little sis Ah Yan, look over there—-” Luo Huai Yuan suddenly said.
Yan Yan’s gaze followed his finger as she saw the shining sun in the distant sky. The sun burned brightly. It was fine if she didn’t raise her heard, but looking directly at it made her eyes hurt and involuntarily water. Yan Yan didn’t look at it too long. She averted her gaze right before her tears were about to flow.
In her daze, she heard the person next to her say, “Whether you’re upset or not, the sun will still be there. It’ll be there if you cried yesterday. It’ll still be there if you laugh today.”
That’s right. What does being upset accomplish, and what does not being upset accomplish? Whether or not she was upset wouldn’t change the situation.
After a long while, Yan Yan let out a breath and gave him a look.
“Big bro Luo. Your words make a lot of sense.”
Luo Huai Yuan smiled. “I didn’t come up with these words. It was someone else who said them to me.”
“That person must’ve been really carefree.”
“That’s right. Very carefree.” Luo Huai Yuan gazed off into the distance as he mumbled, “She was straightforward, confident, and dared to be herself….”
He got to know her after they got married. The night of their wedding, she threw him out of the bridal chamber. She knew he had a bad reputation and wasn’t willing to truly become his wife. At the same time, he also didn’t want to defile a good girl like her. The two of them thus maintained a respectful distance.
At that time they didn’t get along. She was too violent. She would be fine one moment and pressing him down for a beating the next. Only after a while did he realize she hated him quite a bit. This was because she didn’t like frivolous men.
He had truly been frivolous at that time. He had dozens of concubines in his harem. Some were arranged by the palace to instruct him in such matters. Others were gifted to him by others trying to establish a relationship. A prince never lacked for women, whether he accepted them or not.
In the end, he accepted all of them.
It was easy to go with the flow. This was especially the case in his past life before he met her. He had muddled along for so long that he didn’t need to think about anything anymore…
She was the first woman who had hit him in his life. The first time it happened, he had been very resentful and the two didn’t see each other for a while. The second time he felt that the furious beauty had a sort of startling charm that dazzled his eyes. Thus he started having thoughts about her, but never dared to do anything. Only when he truly couldn’t endure did he purposefully mess around in front of her.
When her mood was good, she would ignore him. When her mood was bad, she would vent her anger and give him a beating. Perhaps for the sake of messing about, or for some other purpose, he was very willing to cry and howl under her dainty fists. It was better than being ignored by her.
As time passed, the two got to know each other. He found out some things about her, and she also understood him. The two of them somehow became friends.
One day, she hadn’t appeared in a long time. He missed her a little and went to find her. She was sitting at the table and drinking by herself, seeming a little tipsy. She brought up her past before saying those words to him.
After she awoke, she forgot about it. He, however, remembered those words for two lifetimes.
Yan Yan looked absentmindedly at the field of lotus flowers and the dragonflies on their light yellow stamens. “That, sounds very nice….”
However, Luo Huai Yuan laughed and teased: “What’s nice about it? I’ve never seen someone more dishonest with their feelings than she was. Cry if you want to cry, why act tough….”
The last line was said extremely quietly. Yan Yan didn’t hear it.
Perhaps the mood was truly quite good, or perhaps it was awkward not to speak about her own troubles after listening to his. Regardless, Yan Yan told him about her matters, about the sadness at not being understood, and about her own inner sullenness. She spoke about her determination to protect her little brother and the worries about reaching this point of no return. She spoke for a long, long time….
The world seemed to have fallen unusually silent. At some point, the two stopped speaking, both lost in thoughts, both spacing out, both thinking about each other’s matters or their own.