Chapter 43 | Arc 3.
That whole night, Gan Qi tossed and turned relentlessly. His mind kept drawing upon that image of a frail figure – obviously weak – and yet staring with stubbornness and conviction. And inevitably, his heart would begin to throb painfully.
He recalled his completely uncontrolled behavior and panicked mood when he had seen the man fall in the rain, and felt that he was truly doing the unthinkable.
He had even taken the other man directly into his own bedroom! It was only until after the doctor had taken the other’s pulse and declared that he had only caught a cold that he could calm down, knowing that the other would heal after a few day’s rest. The heartache and worry that he had experience previously almost drowned him with its intensity.
Although he had managed to suppress the possessiveness in his heart and had sent the other back to his small courtyard, he could not deny that after that, his thoughts still revolved around the other man.
“Lil’ Shun,” Gan Qi whispered the name. It was an ordinary name, one he had been calling for many years, but this time it felt completely different from the past.
It was as if on the other end of that name was his heart, and every time he spoke that name, his heartbeat would speed up uncontrollably.
Just as he was lost in his thoughts, a familiar voice suddenly sounded from beyond his dragon bed. “Is Your Majesty awake? It is time to get up.” [T/N: Emperors were thought of to be majestic as dragons, and hence this motif shows up a lot. They usually tend to wear Dragon-embroidered robes, sleep on a Dragon Bed, and are sometimes referred to as the Dragon of the country.]
Gan Qi’s heart gave a few complicated beats. Across the thick curtain of the bed stood the very person he had been thinking about, so close and yet so far. This man had served him since childhood, and woke him up everyday, and yet today Gan Qi found that he couldn’t respond as easily as he did before.
In less than a day, everything had changed.
Not hearing a response, Su Yu carefully called out again, “Your Majesty?”
Gan Qi pressed down on his throbbing heart and feigned calmness. “Lil’ Shun?”
“Yes, it’s your servant. This servant has come to help Your Majesty dress for the day.” Su Yu mimicked how the original Han Shun would have spoken, but he had a slight smile on his face.
Gan Qi sat up, his eyes fixed on the shadow cast onto the bed curtains, and coughed twice. “Didn’t you fall sick to the cold? I don’t need you to serve me, go back and rest.”
Although he didn’t want to admit it, the reason he had sent Lil’ Shun back to his courtyard the moment he had regained his senses was because Gan Qi had no idea how to face this other man.
Even though he clearly knew he shouldn’t harbour such affections, can’t have these feelings, and that these emotions wouldn’t bear any fruit, his heart had already been moved and he was utterly powerless to stop these surging feelings.
What was even scarier was that he really didn’t want to stop these feelings either.
Gan Qi, who was always steady and mature, could only think of running away in the face of this matter.
But how could Su Yu give him a chance to escape? He stood in front of the dragon bed and said with a bit of grievance, “If Your Majesty wants this servant to leave, then at least let this servant help you get dressed? Otherwise, wouldn’t I have made this trip in vain, needlessly dragging my weak body out here?”
Gan Qi was not an indecisive man, and there was a clear answer to this question. What kind of servant could serve their master while sick? What if they infected their master and caused them to fall sick as well?
However, the person in question this time was Lil’ Shun, the very person that was causing such havoc in Gan Qi’s heart. How could he say no? Eventually, after delaying for a long while, Gan Qi reluctantly choked out, “Help this Emperor get dressed.”
“Yes.” Su Yu leisurely lifted open the thick curtains to the bed, and the two’s eyes abruptly met. After a moment, they both moved their gaze away.
Gan Qi stiffly raised his arms to let Su Yu help him get dressed. Although the two had gone through this countless times in the past, this time, Gan Qi felt very awkward, as if he didn’t know where to place his hands and feet. Thank goodness he already had his stoic face down pat, thanks to all the court sessions he’d had to conduct where he had to meet with the many court officials. Otherwise, all his turbulent emotions would have shown on his face.
Su Yu acted very natural, but his deft fingers would ever-so-casually brush against Gan Qi’s body, with the full intention of eating as much tofu as he could, causing Gan Qi to become even more stiff. [T/N: Eating tofu means taking advantage of someone, usually in a sexual way. However, it’s a lighthearted flirty harassment instead of inappropriate sexual harassment.]
At the beginning, Gan Qi was very uncomfortable, but as the motions continued, he found himself fascinated by Su Yu’s face. This pale, attractive face was clearly still weak from the recent bought of sickness, and yet the owner of it still insisted on coming here this early in the morning to fulfil his duties. Wasn’t this deliberately trying to cause him to worry?
When he realized this thought, Gan Qi scared himself half to death – when had his affections for this person soared to this extent??
Gan Qi’s heart felt that this was normal, but it also struggled against it, causing many contradictory emotions to well up. At this moment, he began to panic again.
Therefore, as soon as Su Yu placed the dragon robe on his body, Gan Qi immediately waved him off, not even letting him straighten the garment. “Alright, now go back and rest. These days, you don’t need to come here anymore.”
“This servant understands.” This time, Su Yu particularly obediently saluted and left without another word. In contrast, it was actually Gan Qi who had ordered the other away that felt a little sad, and even a little lost as he watched Su Yu leave.
“Master Host, just now was a perfect moment to keep ensnaring the Male Protagonist, why did you leave?” The little ball began to worry for its host again. Earlier, it was the little ball who was against Su Yu coming over, and now it was also it who was against Su Yu leaving.
Su Yu gave a playful smile, his eyes slightly flashing, “Who says he hasn’t been ensnared?”
“Ah? Doesn’t the Male Protagonist still like the Female Protagonist right now?” Round Ball was a little bewildered.
Su Yu coldly glanced over, and the little ball became scared for its life. It hurriedly backtracked, “I, I mean, right now, his IQ is still at 0, right?”
“Rest assured, everything is under control.” Su Yu smiled, slowly closing his eyes. He had woken up too early, and now it was time to go back to sleep.
And so that day forwards, Su Yu adopted a completely peaceful lifestyle, leisurely nursing himself back to health in his courtyard. He was so relaxed, he didn’t even step out of his house. However, someone else became rather uncomfortable with this state of affairs.
Clearly he was the one who had ordered Su Yu to stop serving him, but Gan Qi was really beginning to regret that decision. These days, he desperately wanted to keep the other man by his side so that he could stare however he wanted, every second of the day.
Gan Qi irritably put down his writing tool, his head full of thoughts of that person. He rubbed his temples and sighed – he definitely fell under some sort of spell! This infatuation was even more intense than what he had for Qin Yiran, and it came so suddenly too. At this point, he had no way of extricating himself from its clutches.
Argh, clearly the other was close at hand, but he couldn’t see him, this feeling was really torturous!
Gan Qi was just struggling with whether he should take initiative to go see Su Yu when a servant approached and announced that the governing manager of Joyful Palace – Yue Hong – was requesting an audience.
Amidst his frustrations, other people actually had the gall to come and annoy him even more? Gan Qi was just about to wave the servant away when Yue Hong suddenly pushed into the room and knelt on the floor with a thud. “This maidservant knows that it’s wrong to just charge in, but I ask the Emperor’s forgiveness, in light of how dedicated this maidservant is to her master, Qin Yiran!”
Yue Hong straightened her back but remained knelt on the ground, portraying an air of ‘even if I am sentenced to death, I have no regrets because I am doing this for the right reasons.’
Gan Qi’s extremely irritable mood suddenly became even more irritable. “Since you don’t respect the rules of the palace, then why don’t you just leave? This is considered being merciful to you.”
Yue Hong couldn’t keep her face impassive anymore – this reality seemed to be slightly different from what she had expected?? What happened to the emperor that had so doted on her master, Qin Yiran? Wasn’t he supposed to show concern for the Esteemed Consort upon hearing her words, and hence forgive her of this transgression?
“What? Are you not satisfied with Zhen’s decision?” Gan Qi looked down at Yue Hong, clearly seeing through her thoughts.
Yue Hong was howling with dissatisfaction inside, but she dared not show it on her face. She could only bow her head and reply, “This servant doesn’t dare, the Emperor has already shown great mercy by not directly executing this servant. I just ask that Your Majesty allow me to speak once more, before I leave this palace.”
The only thing she could do now was redirect the Emperor’s attention to Qin Yiran, and then wait for the Esteemed Consort to plead for mercy on her behalf.
Gan Qi leaned back on his dragon throne and looked down distastefully at Yue Hong. “Alright, go ahead. But keep in mind, if your words cause more displeasure, then Zhen might rescind the previous punishment.”
If the Emperor takes back the previous punishment, then the new one would definitely be more terrible!
Yue Hong gave a shudder and began to seriously consider her actions, but if she really doesn’t say something, then she’ll be directly sent out of the palace! She has no choice!
Yue Hong decided to bite the bullet, and choked out in a sad voice, “Your Majesty, ever since that day you left, the Esteemed Consort has been depressed. In but a few days, she has lost weight and has had difficulty sleeping. The Esteemed Consort misses Your Majesty, and waits everyday hoping for you to come visit her, but she insists on silently enduring, not saying anything even though this servant tried to persuade her several times. This servant is too useless, and can only come plead with Your Majesty to visit the Esteemed Consort, for the sake of your previous affectionate relationship.”
With these tender words, Yue Hong once again knelt on the ground, waiting for Gan Qi’s response.
However, she once again mispredicted his reaction. Not only did Gan Qi not eagerly ask after Qin Yiran’s condition, or charge directly to Joyful Palace, but he actually sneered after a moment of silence.
This sneer caused Yue Hong to feel an ominous premonition, but she didn’t even dare to move anymore, a layer of cold sweat forming on her back.
Gan Qi narrowed his eyes, and said with cold, bitter irony, “You ask for Zhen to visit her for the sake of our previously affectionate relationship, but tell Zhen right now – what is this mutually affectionate relationship you speak of? Have we ever had such a relationship?”
Yue Hong was so startled by these words that her whole body froze. Wasn’t the Emperor extremely caring and tolerant to the Esteemed Consort, even up until a few days ago? How had it suddenly become like this?? It was like he was a totally different person!
Thinking of what she’d said before, and then the Emperor’s indifferent words just now, Yue Hong felt her heart skip a beat and more cold sweat began to gather.
“You can’t answer? Then Zhen will speak.” Gan Qi casually tapped his fingers against his armrest, each tap resonating with the frantic heartbeat of Yue Hong. “Since you have such courage to plead for your master, then Zhen won’t send you out of the palace. Instead, you will go directly to the Hall of Punishment.”
Translator: Lone Wolf Translations
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