A full moon hung over the enormous palace estate that was the size of a town. The Imperial Palace was the most formidable part of the country. Next came the Capital which was right outside of the palace gates.
"The details have been finalized, Your Highness," Lu Tianbi reported. She unraveled the heavy scroll in her hands. There were wooden cylinders on either ends of the scroll that ensured the edges of the paper wouldn't scrunch upwards.
"Your Princess will arrive very soon," Lu Tianbi proudly said. She placed the flattened scroll in front of the fussy Crown Prince.
Yu Zhen had a book over his face and it was unknown if he was awake or not.
Lu Tianbi's attention wandered to his stack of parchments that had shifted in placement. So he had finally finished all of next week's work. She didn't know why he was working himself to the bone like this. Did he want an entire week off? Was that it?
His mornings were occupied with court duties and then touring the closest towns outside of the Capital to ensure everything went smoothly. Yu Zhen was the most ideal Crown Prince that anyone could ask for. Albeit, he was too crude and harsh, but he got the work done the most efficiently.
"Zhenzhen?" Hu Dengxiao whispered whilst waving a hand over his Crown Prince's face. The man in question was leaned back in the cushioned chair.
"He's exhausted," Lu Tianbi muttered. She crossed her arms and sighed. "He wakes up the earliest out of everyone and sleeps the latest. It's so rare to see him nap like this."
"Are you sure he's actually asleep though?" Hu Dengxiao mumbled.
"Leave him be," Lu Tianbi warned when Hu Dengxiao reached for the book. "Let our Prince sleep a while longer. If not, he might drop dead in front of us."
"Nuh-uh! Our Commander is too strong for that. What's the point of training every morning if he doesn't put his well-built stamina to use?" Hu Dengxiao retorted much to Lu Tianbi's displeasure.
"He should use the time he spent training to sleep instead. All of his techniques are near perfection. He has also mastered the secret arts of sword fighting and combat. I don't know why he's pushing himself like this," Lu Tianbi nagged.
"Maybe he wants to maintain a great body for when the Princess comes," Hu Dengxiao snickered. He wondered if she caught the double meaning in his words.
Lu Tianbi rolled her eyes.
"Let's sneak out of here, Tiantian~ I found this really small waterfall in the forest and maybe we can splash around like when we were children—"
"Get back to work," a voice bit out.
Hu Dengxiao let out a terrified shriek. He jumped behind Lu Tianbi and shakily peered over her shoulders. "T-the monster, he's alive!"
"Sadly," Yu Zhen grumbled out. He sat upwards and gripped the book off of his face. He checked the title and scowled. 'The 99 Steps of Love.' No wonder he had such a sweet dream about Xueyue and their future in the palace.
Too bad he had woken up to the cruel reality that they were far from having a family of their own. He let out an aggravated sigh and tossed the book aside. He didn't need to fill his head with false hope like this. He preferred to live in reality.
"The work for today, tomorrow, and the day after that has already been finished on your part. For me and Dengxiao, we only need to finalize a few documents. You should head to bed now, Your Highness," Lu Tianbi said.
Concern marred her pretty face. Lu Tianbi was worried about his condition. She approached the Crown Prince and placed a hand over his when he picked up the brush.
"Don't do this to yourself, Your Highness," Lu Tianbi said.
"Leave him be, Tiantian. I've already tried convincing him day and night to not put a strain on himself," Hu Dengxiao said with a wave of his hand. He was just glad that his best fiend hadn't punched him for the nickname. Luckily, she was too distracted by their dear friend.
Yu Zhen lightly pushed her hand away and stood up.
Lu Tianbi's heart soared, thinking this stubborn Prince had finally listened to her. Her hopes were dashed when he got up to pick up the other stack of parchment. They weren't supposed to be addressed until the week after next.
"Your Highness!" Lu Tianbi exasperated. "I know you hate it when I nag, but why are you doing this, Your Highness?"
Yu Zhen didn't respond. He picked up the finely crafted brush and dipped it into the ink slat grounded by Lu Tianbi. He shifted all of his attention to diligently complete the documents.
"Xueyue is coming soon," Yu Zhen finally said after a long pause. He dipped the brush into the ink, his long fingers moving with ease.
Lu Tianbi was befuddled by what he meant by that. Eventually, clarity filled her. The Crown Prince was overworking himself so that he could have enough time to spend with her. He treasured her so much that his own health meant nothing if Princess Li Xueyue could smile.
She shook her head at this. Who would've thought the Grim Reaper of the battlefield had such a tender heart? She didn't even know he possessed such a thing.
"Why don't we take another break, then?" Lu Tianbi suggested. She began to pour him a cup of tea. She hoped the lavender mixed with chamomile would lull him to sleep.
Yu Zhen didn't touch the teacup and continued to pay no mind to anything but the documents in front of him.
Lu Tianbi angrily kicked Hu Dengxiao, waiting for him to say something. She was the right-hand woman, and he was the advisor. Together, they should be able to convince the Second Prince. Right?
"U-uh, I think the Princess who resembles a pretty puppy will look like a depressed one if you uhm…" Hu Dengxiao trailed off, not sure how he should word it. Truthfully, the thought of convincing Yu Zhen to sleep had never crossed his mind.
As someone who was addicted to spending his time being productive, Hu Dengxiao couldn't find a fault in Yu Zhen's ways. Of course, the Crown Prince was putting harm on his body, but hey, there was nothing the man couldn't handle. Right?
Lu Tianbi pinched the bridge of her nose. Why were the men in her life so complicated? They just loved to make her tick. And who even calls a woman a 'pretty puppy'? She was surprised Yu Zhen hadn't reacted to such a nickname, but she did see his jaw clenched at the mention of her…
"I'm sure Princess Li would be in tears to find out you've overworked yourself to such an extent," Lu Tianbi coaxed. A conniving smirk began to form when his fingers tightened around the brush. For a second, he had hesitated. It was barely noticeable, but her keen eyes had spotted it.
"Also, think about the wedding night… What if all the days of overworking catches up and you just collapse on top of her. Imagine how she'd feel—"
The brush slipped from Yu Zhen's palms.
'Ah hah! Got him!' Lu Tianbi chanted inside of her head. Her happiness was short-lived when he picked up the brush again.
"She will be the one who collapses once I'm done with her," Yu Zhen muttered.
Lu Tianbi's mouth was agape at his words. Had he no shame? With the Commander's stamina… that poor Princess!
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