Li Xueyue thought Yu Zhen was joking. She truly did. Until the sun began to peek through the horizon, as the black hues turned into lighter shades of blue. She was snuggled against his side, a hand upon his chest.
"Don't you have a lot of work today?" Li Xueyue mumbled.
She was tired, but was able to keep her eyes open. It was a different kind of exhaustion, one that she didn't know was possible.
Yu Zhen shook his head. He could take a three-week break right now, and everything would still be fine. Being this far ahead in his work had its advantages, but also its problems. He was slowly getting addicted to working.
"I have all day to accompany you."
Li Xueyue pressed her lips together. They had just come out of the bathhouse where he properly cleaned her up.
Seduction came easy for him. It must have been with how handsome he was. They even had fun in the water before he carried her back to the bedroom.
"Does that mean you will sleep-in with me?" Li Xueyue asked. She peered at him and propped her body up with an elbow.
Yu Zhen took a lazy glance at her. Her robes had slipped, revealing the dip of her chest. Silky locks of midnight hair cascaded down her shoulders. He took strands of hair in between his fingers and played with it.
"And just sleeping. Nothing more."
Yu Zhen chuckled at this. "Hmm… Are you able to walk?"
"Is that a trick question?"
Yu Zhen merely smiled in response. It reached his eyes, but it came off as cunning and sly.
Li Xueyue laid her head upon his hard chest. He slithered an arm around her whilst the other stroked the back of her head. With her finger, she drew circles upon his flesh, mesmerized by his smooth skin. It was sun-kissed and golden, glowing with health.
"What are you thinking about?" he murmured.
Li Xueyue was spacing out, her gaze elsewhere. But his attention had always been on her and nothing else.
"Well?" he asked when met with silence. There was a soft edge to his voice, wondering if she had fallen asleep. Her tiny actions indicated otherwise.
Yu Zhen enjoyed her mindless drawings. Her hair was sprawled upon his arm, but neither of them minded. He adored the idle mornings spent with her. Bit by bit, sunlight slowly poured through the windows.
"We've done it so many times already."
Yu Zhen laughed. He glanced down at her. "Really now? I didn't know," he sarcastically said.
Li Xueyue buried her face upon his chest. He could feel her tiny smile. She was humored by his words. Yet, he felt the pull of her eyebrows coming together in worry.
"I…fear the day that you grow bored of me."
Yu Zhen's hand paused. He was no longer affectionately caressing her hair. His fingers gently gripped her chin, forcing her to look up at him.
"How would you like me to prove myself?" Yu Zhen asked.
Yu Zhen brought her face closer, his thumb brushing the corner of her mouth. Her lips were rosy red from his kisses. Marks of his love were found on her collarbone. He had branded her as his in so many ways, yet she uttered nonsense like this.
"Don't mind me, I just like to think of the worse scenarios." Li Xueyue softly sighed.
"You still have the energy to overthink?" Yu Zhen brought her closer until his lips brushed against hers.
"I'll fix that for you." Yu Zhen captured her lips in a slow, sensual kiss. He was mindful not to hurt her, his tongue gently licking her bottom lip.
Li Xueyue pulled her head back, turning her chin to the right when he attempted to kiss her again.
His grip on her tightened. "What's wrong, Sunshine?"
"I don't know why I'm babbling so early in the morning. It's probably the lack of sleep the entire night."
Yu Zhen narrowed his eyes. It was an excuse. He could see right through her.
Without warning, Yu Zhen sat upright, forcing her to rise with him. He slid her onto his lap, a hand firmly holding her in place. She straddled him, yet he was still a bit taller than her.
"But I liked lying on your chest," she said.
"Well, aren't you spoiled?" Yu Zhen remarked.
He preferred this position, where he could see her eyes. They were bright, like the morning sun. But a fog of sorrow was beginning to shroud the light.
"What's wrong?" he demanded in a low, solemn voice. This time, he would not accept her distractions.
Fear flashed in her eyes. Abruptly, she latched onto him, desperately hugging his shoulders. She felt his hand crawl towards her upper back, patting and soothing her.
"Do you think I could be infertile?"
Yu Zhen froze.
Not a single sound could be heard. Nothing except for her shaky breaths. His lack of words terrified her. But she didn't want to be greedy. She didn't want to shackle him down like this.
Li Xueyue's hands dropped to his sides. She pulled back from the hug, but a second later, he pushed her against his body.
"Yu Zhen…?" Her voice was small and hesitant. His fingers were sprawled wide upon her back, forcing her to be much closer. He wrapped another arm around her.
"What made you think that?" There was an edge to his words.
Li Xueyue couldn't read his emotions. And perhaps he intended for it to be like that. She couldn't even see his face. Whether he was angered by this news, she did not know. It was her assumption, but who could be happy at the news of infertility?
"Did the Imperial Physician tell you that?"
Li Xueyue rested her chin upon his shoulder. She closed her eyes and told herself to cherish this moment. It might be her last.
"No. I don't think he checked for it either."
"It's difficult to check something like this." Yu Zhen realized she was shaking.
Her trembling fingers were wrapped around his shoulders again. He only held her tighter, refusing to let go. If he did, something would break.
Had someone spread false information like this, he would've ensured the cruelest of deaths. Luckily for the Imperial Physician, his life was just spared a moment ago…at least, for now, it was.
"Then what made you think of such thoughts?" he asked, though the tone was rough.
Li Xueyue's fingers dug into his body. She needed to get a grip over herself, but a wave of melancholy washed over her. What if she would never get to see a baby in Yu Zhen's arms? What if they don't get the chance to become parents? What shall happen then?
"T-the beatings… There were many occasions where the Viscount had kicked—" Li Xueyue's voice was stuck in her throat.
Yu Zhen held her closer until there wasn't a gap between them. "It's going to be alright, Sunshine. Just breathe."
Li Xueyue couldn't continue her sentence. She squeezed her eyes shut, wishing the atmosphere between them wasn't so depressing. But she blamed herself for voicing this opinion.
"There must be other signs of infertility," he reassured her. "If you'd like, I shall have the Imperial Physician summoned."
"I-I don't want to see him…"
"Then we won't."
Li Xueyue felt selfish. She immediately regretted her words. "Actually…please invite him."
Li Xueyue gulped. He rarely called her by her name. Not unless it was a serious discussion or if he was angered.
"We will get through this obstacle. Together."
Li Xueyue hid her face in the crook of his neck. If she truly was infertile as a result of the beatings…
She wanted to see him happy. She wanted him to experience the happiness of being a father. It would be too painful to see him struggle with her. To see him childless and grow old without heirs of his own.
"You're overthinking again."
Yu Zhen scoffed. "I can practically feel your stress increasing by the second."
Yu Zhen always found it odd. She was so strong in front of others, but when it came to him, she was docile. Which was the real side of her? This gentle lamb? Or the glower of a tigress?
He couldn't recall a single moment where she was weak in public. Li Xueyue had always carried herself with strength and pride. Confidence oozed off of her in waves. Yet, here she was, in his arms, cowering and afraid.
Did she only show this side of her to him?
Yu Zhen began to pat the back of her head again. He was never good with words. Comforting people wasn't his specialty. He had grown up without experiencing the comforting actions of either parent.
"Even if you are, I will not blame you." The words came out of his mouth before he could help it.
She hugged him tighter, unable to say anything.
Yu Zhen wasn't bothered. He continued caressing the back of her head, for as long as she needed him too.
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