Translator’s notes: 2nd sponsored chapter of the week. Thank you Frances for the chapter, and for the consecutive coffees. Regular chapter will be out later today.
Hearing Ding Lan’s words, both Xiao Hua and Ding Xiang spaced out.
Ding Xiang’s reactions were especially fast, handing over her work to Ding Lan, wiping off her hands and swiftly putting Xiao Hua’s shoes on for her.
Xiao Hua walked out of the western room into the living room, and saw the Jing Prince walk in with Eunuch Fu. Eunuch Fu was brushing off the snow on his overcoat.
“Greetings to your highness.”
Xiao Hua performed a salute while Eunuch Fu helped the prince out of his coat. The Prince lifted a hand and Xiao Hua raised herself up to give Eunuch Fu a hand.
After the Jing Prince took off his coat, he took a look around and walked towards the western room.
While the Jing Prince sat on one side and Ding Lan brought him some tea, some low-ranked eunuchs brought over a bunch of things from the other side.
Xiao Hua took a look and saw that it was all the Jing Prince’s indoor clothing, shoes and things like that. She didn’t say anything, helping him out of his thick outerwear and change into something lighter.
The Hall of Splendor didn’t have a kiln, but Xiao Hua saw that the Jing Prince didn’t seem unfamiliar with it. He took his shoes off and sat cross-legged on the kiln.
The servants in the room all took their leave. Eunuch Fu and Ding Xiang stood some distance away by the door.
The Jing Prince drank tea from his teacup. Xiao Hua didn’t know what to do at that moment, and sat down sideways on the kiln.
The Jing Prince’s eyes signaled, and Eunuch Fu had Ding Xiang and others remove the kiln table Xiao Hua was eating her lunch on.
The Jing Prince first looked at the kiln which had two of Xiao Hua’s pillows on it. He leaned against it and gave Xiao Hua a glance.
With just one word, Xiao Hua knew that the Jing Prince’s shoulders were feeling uncomfortable.
She muttered irresolutely before saying: “Please wait your highness. This servant concubine will have them bring over two more charcoal basins.”
There were no heated vents in the house, and it wasn’t too warm. Having massaged the Jing Prince many times, Xiao Hua would always have him wear one layer to make it easier to do so.
Once the charcoal basins were brought over the western room’s temperature quickly turned warmer. Xiao Hua helped the Jing Prince take off an outer layer, leaving only the inner silk robe.
The Jing Prince lay prone on the kiln, grabbed himself one of the thinner pillows and buried his face in it. Xiao Hua also had Ding Xiang help her out of her lined jacket, leaving only a loose skirt jacket.
The work was familiar. Despite the location being different, Xiao Hua found it quite easy to adapt. She warmed her hands up by rubbing them and knelt beside the Jing Prince on the kiln, starting to slowly knead his back and shoulders.
She didn’t know if it was because she hadn’t massaged him in a several days, but Xiao Hua felt that his muscles were extremely tight. She slowly rubbed them loose. Xiao Hua then put her hands on the Jing Prince’s shoulder blades.
She thought a little and spoke: “Highness, do your shoulders feel uncomfortable? What about your neck?”
She remembered the notes mentioning that normally when the shoulders were uncomfortable, the neck would also be affected. In the past she didn’t dare ask, but now the thought of earning some favor crossed her mind. She also wanted to spark some conversation between the prince and herself. She felt that the constant silence needed to be addressed.
The prince only spoke after a long while.
Xiao Hua was pleased in her heart. The fact that he responded was good, right?
She slowly moved her hands to the Jing Prince’s neck. She felt the muscles under her hands tense up and then relax again. She gently sucked in a breath and started to slowly massage.
The Jing Prince’s neck was very hard. After she loosened it up, she started pressing along the bone, using more strength when she felt a knot.
“Highness, tell this servant concubine if it hurts.”
The Jing Prince didn’t make a sound. Xiao Hua slowly continued, massaging along the bone little by little. Once she felt everything had been loosened up, she moved her hands to the shoulders.
This was Xiao Hua’s first time giving him a full body massage. She moved from the neck to the shoulders, then to his lower back, his thighs and calves and finally his feet.
In her past life she had only massaged the 4th young master the same way she had previously massaged the prince: only shoulders and back. She never massaged anywhere else since her thoughts weren’t innocent at that time, not focusing on the massage. Furthermore, there weren’t too many problems with the 4th young master’s body.
Having massaged the prince several times after entering the Hall of Splendor, Xiao Hua felt that he had a certain amount of fatigue and damage in his muscles and bones. Therefore she wanted to help him loosen up properly.
Once she was done massaging everything, an hour had already passed. Xiao Hua was extremely tired. This was her first time being so tired after massaging the Jing Prince.
She wiped the sweat off her brows and waved at Ding Xiang to bring her a cup of water. Only after drinking it down did she feel less tired.
The Jing Prince flipped over on the kiln and lay on his back. His didn’t open his eyes and didn’t seem to be planning on getting up.
Xiao Hua signaled with her eyes and Ding Xiang ran off to grab some blankets.
Xiao Hua attentively covered the Jing Prince and signaled Ding Xiang once again to remove one of the charcoal basins. Before she could finish adjusting the blankets, she was pulled on top of them.
Xiao Hua quietly cried out, “Highness.” The Jing Prince didn’t respond. His eyes were still shut, and he didn’t remove the hand on her waist. He merely lifted the blankets and pulled her into his embrace.
Xiao Hu could only curl up in his arms and wrap themselves up with the blanket.
After cuddling for a while, it became warm and cozy inside the blankets. She also felt tired and sleepy, so she closed her eyes and fell asleep.
Seeing them quietly fall asleep, Eunuch Fu and Ding Xiang lightly stepped outside.
Ding Xiang lowered her voice and said: “Eunuch Fu, sit for a bit. There’s a charcoal basin here and it’s warm.” She signaled Ding Lan to bring Eunuch Fu some tea and snacks.
Eunuch Fu didn’t refuse and sat down in one of the chairs outside, closing his eyes for a nap.
The other palace maids in the house all moved softly and quietly at seeing his highness and the madam sleeping, but the smiles on their faces couldn’t be suppressed.
It wasn’t known how long they slept for, but when Xiao Hua woke up and opened her eyes, they happened to meet the Jing Prince’s.
Oh no! She had actually woken up later than the prince!
Xiao Hua stammered in a low voice, “Highness, umm, this servant concubine didn’t do it on purpose.” She looked around. The lamps had already been lit in the room outside, whereas their room remained dark. However, the light passed through so it wasn’t too dark.
She felt a large palm squeeze her body before the Jing Prince lifted the blankets and sat up. Xiao Hua sat up as well, and softly called Ding Xiang over to light the lamps.
The room immediately brightened, and Eunuch Fu also walked in.
“Highness, it’s already dinner time. How about we eat here tonight.”
The Jing Prince gave him a glance and nodded.
Eunuch Fu went to arrange things and Xiao Hua helped the Jing Prince put on a layer of clothes. She herself put on her lined jacket.
Having been too warm while sleeping, she felt extremely thirsty.
“Ding Xiang, bring me a cup of warm water and bring his highness some tea.”
Xiao Hua liked drinking warm water, and felt it was more thirst quenching than tea. She knew however that the Jing Prince loved tea.
The two of them drank and Xiao Hua had Ding Xiang bring over a comb. The Jing Prince had slept with his crown on and she saw that it had become extremely crooked. However, this made the Jing Prince look less like his usual apathetic self and more approachable instead.
“Let this servant concubine help your highness straighten out your hair.”
Xiao Hua didn’t tell the Jing Prince his crown was crooked. The Jing Prince used his fingers to feel around and realized what this low-ranked palace maid meant.
He gave her a glance and nodded his head.
Xiao Hua took the jade crown off and released his hair while slowly combing it. The Jing Prince’s hair was well maintained. The waist-length hair was black, thick and bright.
“Leave it down and tie it.”
Having just finished tying the Jing Prince’s hair on this side, dinner was brought over on the other side.
Eunuch Fu directly placed the food onto the kiln table along with two bowls and two sets of chopsticks. The food was also very simple. The Jing Prince normally had five dishes and a soup. With the addition of Xiao Hua, two more dishes were added.
This was Xiao Hua’s first time eating with the Jing Prince. She was a little reserved, but apart from keeping her eyes lowered and not daring to look at him, as well as occasionally serving him and then eating some herself, there wasn’t really much to it.
After they were done with the meal, the kiln table was cleared away and they both rinsed their mouths. Eunuch Fu, who was a man of many talents, conjured up a few books and placed them by the Jing Prince’s hand. The Jing Prince leaned against the pillow with one leg stretched out and the other half bent, and started flipping through a book in his hands while appearing to be very comfortable.
Xiao Hua who was sitting on the side didn’t know what to do. However, she knew the prince’s personality so she sat quietly by his side.
Eunuch Fu and Ding Xiang left for a little bit before the two of them returned. Ding Xiang approached Xiao Hua’s side and pulled on her. Xiao Hua gave the Jing Prince a glance and followed her outside.
“Madam, it appears to this servant that his highness isn’t planning on leaving tonight. Would you like to take a bath first?”
Xiao Hua’s face immediately turned red, but she still nodded her head.
Ding Xiang put some dried flower petals in the bathtub. Xiao Hua felt that her body was extremely fragrant after her bath. While she bathed, Ding Lan also helped Xiao Hua wash her hair.
After she was done, Ding Xiang used a steamer1 decorated with golden crabapple flowers to dry Xiao Hua’s hair around eighty to ninety percent, and combed it straight. Xiao Hua went back to the western room with her hair down.
Xiao Hua’s appearance was suggested by Ding Xiang. She said that madam looked extremely beautiful this way, making Xiao Hua’s face and neck blush in embarrassment, though she still took her advice.
Returning to sit in her old spot, Xiao Hua felt the Jing Prince’s eyes hovering over herself.
Not knowing if he could tell she had purposefully appeared this way, Xiao Hua’s heart started pounding.
After sitting for a little longer, the Jing Prince put down the book in his hands and got off the kiln. Xiao Hua followed behind him at a slight distance into the bedroom.
There was also a warm kiln in the bedroom, making it warm and cozy. A series of lamps burnt in the room’s corner, bathing the room in their light. A few eunuchs were already waiting inside. Xiao Hua recognized them as the few who normally served the Jing Prince closely.
With the help of these low-ranked eunuchs, the Jing Prince freshened up. Xiao Hua saw there wasn’t any room for her to help and sat down at the makeup stand. She used a brush in her hand and pretended to brush her hair while her heart was actually beating heavily.
She was inexplicably nervous in her heart. Xiao Hua comforted herself not to be so nervous. Didn’t this happen before in the Hall of Splendor? Thinking of this, she felt less panicked.
After they were done, they blew out all the lamps except one and left one after the other.
Xiao Hua snuck a glance over and saw the Jing Prince already sitting on the edge of the bed. She paused a little, put down her brush and walked over.
Xiao Hua pulled at her sleeves, “Not, I’m not,” But not wanting the Jing Prince to think her words and actions didn’t match, she quietly said: “This servant concubine is a little nervous.”
She was pulled over to him, “Don’t be scared, this prince cherishes you.”
Every time she heard those words, Xiao Hua didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. She also didn’t know where the Jing Prince learned this teasing phrase. Especially since when he said it, his face would be completely expressionless and very serious, making one feel even more like laughing.
With this interruption, Xiao Hua was no longer nervous.
She knew that she should properly serve the prince at this moment. With her new status, others were eying her covetously, and the only shelter she could find was with the Jing Prince. Therefore, the Jing Prince coming today caused her to be a little astonished but also pleasantly surprised.
Xiao Hua also knew the concept of refraining from acting against evil in fear of collateral damage. Currently she and the other women were still in the initial phases of probing each other, and having some extra protection would always be a good thing.
Thinking of this, she secretly raised her eyelids and threw a glance at the Jing Prince before smoothly sitting into his lap. Her hands gently wrapped around his neck.
She carefully moved closer, and feeling a lack of resistance, she slowly buried her face into his neck. She rubbed her face against his neck a little and softly mumbled “Highness—-“
This was something the Jing Prince hadn’t experienced before. In his two lifetimes, none of his concubines or those by his side had ever acted this way.
When he was still in the imperial palace, there were still some palace maids who used various methods to try and seduce him. But he only felt disgust and revulsion towards their actions. This is also why he didn’t like having palace maids serve him closely, and used eunuchs instead. Otherwise there would be too much restlessness.
But at this moment he actually felt his heart tremble. He already felt that this low-ranked palace maid seemed very likeable, and her current cute and lovable actions made one feel like hugging her to death.
His mouth involuntarily took a bite of her fair and slender neck, the very gentle kind. She responded with a soft cry, looked at him with eyes that were both bashful and lovable.
The Jing Prince froze a little and was unable to react. However he still followed his desires, wrapped around her waist and pressed her down…….