Li Xueyue was conflicted about her decision. On one hand, she wanted to go to Hanjian, but on the other, she was worried about the repercussions. It was so strange for the Li Family to send her to Hanjian without a specific reason.
"Is there something I'm supposed to do in Hanjian?" Li Xueyue asked.
Li Chenyang should've known she was too smart to be fooled. "As you already know, the relationship between Hanjian and Wuyi has been straining. We've resumed talks of forming a peace treaty and are starting to open up the trade routes. We're also calling off the territory battles."
Li Xueyue knew where this conversation was going. "I will be sent off as a gesture of goodwill."
"No," Li Chenyang said. "You will be sent to Hanjian as the daughter of a Prime Minister."
Li Xueyue caught on to what he was implying. "In other words, I'm going to Hanjian to show Wuyi's sincerity regarding the proposals made by Father and other Ministers. It's the same thing, Chen-ge."
"You don't have to sugarcoat it for me," she added on. "If I can be of any use to the Li family, I don't mind accepting the opportunity."
"Xueyue," Li Chenyang addressed in a sullen voice. He didn't want her to think of it like that. "You're not forced to go to Hanjian."
"We just think this decision is killing two birds with one stone. You'll like it there in Hanjian with Yu Zhen by your side, add to that the fact that you will be helping the Li family as well. But we don't want to use you at all, thus, we're not forcing you to do anything."
Li Xueyue nodded at his words. She could see the panic in his eyes. Chenyang was worried her feelings were hurt in the process. "I don't mind being used. I wanted to give back to the Li family for so long—"
"You talk about us as if you're not part of that family, you little fool," Li Chenyang interjected with a scowl. "You're a Li too. Stop referring to us in the third person."
Li Xueyue blinked. She wasn't aware of that habit.
"Just think about it okay?" Li Chenyang said. He grasped her hands and squeezed it. "Yu Zhen is a Crown Prince now. He can't come and leave as he pleases. Everyone will be watching him and if he suddenly disappears, problems will arise."
Li Xueyue was well aware of that. It didn't stop her from dearly missing him. There were so many things she wanted to say that couldn't be conveyed in a letter.
Li Xueyue wanted to bury herself into his arms and voice all the grievances that she couldn't tell the Li Family.
"Don't look so glum," Li Chenyang muttered as he gave her cheek a gentle pat. "You'll see us again even if you go to Hanjian."
Li Xueyue realized he had misunderstood her expression. She decided it was better for him to believe that she would miss the Li Family as well. Everyone was so kind to her here, minus Minghua.
"What would be my role in Hanjian? A diplomat?" Li Xueyue asked as she raised her eyes to meet him.
Li Chenyang threw her a pointed look that questioned her intelligence. She was too dense. "No, you'll be there as a candidate for one of the generals," he sarcastically said.
"Oh," she mumbled with a blink of her eye. "I don't think Yu Zhen will like that."
"Xueyue," Li Chenyang groaned out as he slapped his forehead. "It was a joke. I obviously didn't mean that. You can't believe everything that comes out of a person's mouth!"
"I only believed it because you never lied to me before," Li Xueyue said with a slight smile. "You'd never do anything to hurt me, so I blindly trusted you."
Li Chenyang wished she wouldn't say the right things at times like this. It made him miss her more, even though she hadn't left yet.
"So," Li Xueyue exclaimed. "What exactly will I be doing in Hanjian? Will I be a spy or—"
"Are you really that dense or were you joking the entire time?" Li Chenyang retorted. He raised a brow and crossed his arms. She revealed a silly smile and brushed strands of hair behind her ears. His expression softened at her behavior.
"I'm seriously that dense…" she trailed off, averting her gaze. "I mean, what else would I be doing in Hanjian?"
"I just hope Yu Zhen isn't that dense," Li Chenyang muttered under his breath. "Think about it, Little Piglet, why would we send you to Hanjian to spy? It's such a dangerous job and would require a trained professional."
"Oh," Li Xueyue said. "Then—"
"No, don't guess anymore. I'll tell you flat out," Li Chenyang interrupted. He glanced down at her and then looked away. "You're going to Hanjian as the bride of the Crown Prince."
Li Xueyue rapidly blinked a few times. She scratched her ear. Huh? She must've heard that wrong. What a bad time to be lost in her delusions.
"Haha, I heard something weird and unbelievable. Can you say it again?" Li Xueyue asked, much to the displeasure of her brother.
Li Chenyang glowered down at her. He angrily flicked her on the forehead. "I was already reluctant to say it the first time, but now you're making me repeat it. If you want to know, go ask Father."
Li Xueyue's eyes widened when he let out a huff and began to exit the gardens. She hurriedly grabbed onto his wrist, forcing him to stop. "Wait wait, I just wanted to confirm. I'm really going to marry Yu Zhen?"
"Isn't that obvious?" Li Chenyang remarked. "If his feelings are truly sincere, then he should take no other wife than you. If the Crown Princess of Hanjian is a high-ranking woman from Wuyi, surely, everyone will know the sincerity of our actions. Additionally, you really like Yu Zhen don't you?"
"I-I do, but it's just—"
"No buts," Li Chenyang said. He turned around and revealed a tiny smile. His eyes became more gentle when he saw her hesitant features.
"Xueyue," he murmured in a voice too gentle for her to get used to. "Don't worry about us. We'll miss you, but we'll survive. When you would make decisions for the benefit of your future, don't be so fearful of dragging us down."
Li Xueyue quietly nodded at his words. How was he able to pinpoint her concerns so quickly? He knew her too well.
"I-I'm also concerned that when I leave, everyone will forget me. Your lives will be consumed with Minghua, and soon, I'll become a stranger if I ever return. I know it's so selfish of me to think that, especially when Minghua is blood-related to you and—ow!"
Li Xueyue cried out in pain when he flicked her on the forehead. She stared up at him with moistened eyes. "That really hurts!" she said whilst grabbing the burning spot.
"Stupid, stupid girl," he huffed. "Do you really think we'd forget you that easily? You've left an impact in all of our lives. You managed to worm your way into every little heart and found yourself a comfortable home within it."
Li Xueyue fiddled a layer of her hanfu with her fingers as she averted her gaze.
"Listen to me well, Xueyue, there is no one that can ever replace you in this family. You will forever and always be my sister, and to Mother and Father, their daughter. Blood may be thicker than water, but who cares? It's the memories and actions that count," Li Chenyang solemnly said.
"Do you understand?" Li Chenyang sternly asked. He grabbed her shoulders and gently shook it, forcing her to look up at him.
Li Xueyue instantly nodded. She sniffled a bit and wiped her eyes. "I do," she mumbled in a quiet voice. Her eyes widened when he abruptly pulled her into a hug.
"You're such a fool," Li Chenyang muttered.
Li Xueyue couldn't help but smile at his words. Her brother's embrace was gentle and endearing. She hugged him tight and close, knowing this would become a memory she'd forever cherish.
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