"Call for the Imperial Physician," Li Xueyue finally said after a long silence. She pulled her head back, wiping her eyes. She didn't want to sit around and cry. Though, there would be plenty of opportunities for tears.
"He will keep everything confidential, right?" she quickly added on, not wanting this weakness of her to be discovered.
"If he values his wife and children, then yes." Yu Zhen moved the hair away from her forehead. He loved the fringes that framed her face but would be irritated by it sometimes. They fell over the jewel of her eyes too often.
Li Xueyue nodded her head. "Then, I'd like a visit."
Yu Zhen cupped her cheeks, catching her by surprise. He leaned close and kissed her upon the forehead.
"I am not going away, Sunshine. Not even if you chase me off."
Li Xueyue felt his lips linger on her head. Not a second later, he rested his forehead against hers, his thumbs stroking her cheeks.
"I didn't come this far, only to run off because of an obstacle," he softly said. "Whether you like it or not, I'm here to stay."
Li Xueyue could feel tears fill her eyes again. Her heart ached at his words. Not because it was cruel, but because it hurt her. He was willing to sacrifice this much for her and do it without hesitation. It was a selfless act of his.
"How is this possible?" she whispered. "Every time I think I'm deeply in love with you, you go ahead and say something like this, and I fall even deeper."
Yu Zhen laughed. The sound clenched at her heart. If only he knew the effect he had on her…
"I am an obsessive man, Sunshine. You should've ran for the hills upon hearing my words."
"I don't think you understand how crazy I am…" Li Xueyue mumbled.
The memories of the coronation banquet flashed in her mind. She would never forget it--the terrors of taking another person's life.
Li Xueyue would never forget the fact that she took Duke Li Taojun's life. It was either his or hers. And she chose herself. At the risk of someone else's happiness.
Her attention quickly snapped back to Yu Zhen.
"I don't need to understand. I just know, Sunshine."
Li Xueyue gaped up at him. "I thought it was kept well-hidden."
Yu Zhen gave her a pointed look. "Says who?"
Li Xueyue glared. "Me."
"Not a very credible source, is it?"
Li Xueyue didn't think it was possible for her to experience so many emotions at once. She was appreciative of his humor, even in the most bizarre of moments. Was this his way of uplifting her spirits? She couldn't tell, for Yu Zhen loved to tease and poke any chance he got.
"Just go and call the Imperial Physician," she grumbled out, unable to find a way to refute his words.
Yu Zhen smirked at her defeat. "So quick to give up?"
"I'm tired," she deadpanned.
"I wish I could say the same."
"That's because you're not human."
Yu Zhen laughed. Being called a monster never fazed him. There was too much blood that stained his hands. A river of it could flow from the Imperial Palace. It wasn't something to brag about. But he did what he had to.
"Always pleasant to hear those words from my wife."
"I'm sorry," she instantly said.
Yu Zhen shook his head. "There is no need. I won't deny the truth."
Li Xueyue looked up at him alarmingly. Was this how he viewed himself?
"Don't look so concerned, I truly do not mind. It takes more than words to hurt me." Yu Zhen was amused by her widening eyes. He had heard much worse. Her words didn't even graze him, much less wound a hole in his chest.
"You had to protect your country," Li Xueyue firmly said. "It wasn't a matter of choice. It was an obligation."
Yu Zhen could've sworn warmth spread through him. He was touched by her words but would never admit it. Instead, he responded with another kiss upon her forehead.
"Do you blame yourself?" Li Xueyue worriedly asked. "Yu Zhen, we've always discussed my problems. But rarely do we talk about yours."
"That is because nothing comes to mind."
"No one is truly emotionless," she stated.
Yu Zhen pinched both of her cheeks at once. "If I have an issue with something, you'd know it."
Li Xueyue didn't believe him. No one had a perfect life. Worrying was part of human nature. It would be incredulous to believe he didn't face any difficulties.
"There are childhood memories that leave a bad taste in my mouth but I've learned to move on from it."
Li Xueyue closed her mouth. She patiently waited for him to continue. She was willing to hear his problems out. Big or not, she would give all of her attention to him. He had done the same for her. It was only fair she did the same and beyond.
"My days are bland, except for the moments spent with you. Nothing fazes me that much anymore. Soldiers learn that from early on."
Li Xueyue continued to listen. It was rare for him to express his problems like this. She was prepared to listen, even if it took an entire day.
"Once a soldier has faced the brutality of war, every big problem seems like a small one in comparison to the days on the battlefield."
Yu Zhen would never forget the gruesome image of war. Bloodied bodies, corpses of friends, torn limbs… And the list went on.
He was not repulsed by the battlefield, for a part of him had always belonged there. He had grown up learning to fight, for fun, and for this country.
Yu Zhen never expected to be the Crown Prince. He thought he would live a life of fighting and training. Nothing more. Nothing less. But the responsibility of the crown was placed upon him at the age of sixteen when everything was slowly, but surely, tipping to his favor.
"That is why I am not fazed by many problems. Big or small, it will eventually pass. No matter how stubborn a problem is, I will force a resolution."
"Isn't it tiring though?" Li Xueyue finally asked. "To carry the burden of a country upon your shoulders?"
"That is the price we pay for a dynasty of luxury."
Li Xueyue examined his face. From up close, she could see the faint marks of dark circles. Now that she remembered…his eye bags were a lot worse. But recently, they were improving, bit by bit.
"If you ever stumble across a problem, you'll tell me, right? You won't hold it all in?" she asked. Eagerness reflected off her eyes, impacting him in ways she would never know. And he'd keep it that way.
Yu Zhen pinched her nose. "I am not foolish enough to keep my emotions bottled up, unlike a stubborn woman whom I am acquainted with."
Li Xueyue scoffed. Acquainted. Sure they were.
"Now, will you give your heart a rest and stop worrying about me?" Yu Zhen remarked.
Li Xueyue shook her head.
"You make it seem like I will lose my mind."
"At some point, everyone will lose it."
"Well, we can address that issue when we get to it," Yu Zhen reassured.
"It's a lot better to plan ahead…so that we wouldn't have to scramble for last-minute solutions," she responded.
"It's a lot better to live in the present, than worrying about the unpredictable future."
Li Xueyue revealed a tight-lipped smile. "We can avoid the unpredictable by thinking of the worst scenarios and finding ways to address it before it happens."
"Hmmm, I finally have a glimpse inside your head." Yu Zhen always knew she was the type to overthink, but who would've thought, it was to this extent?"
"If I hadn't known better, Sunshine, I'd think you're a pessimist."
"You don't have to predict it. I know I am."
Yu Zhen patted the back of her head. He ran his fingers down her hair, only to repeat it from the roots.
"A jaded overthinker… What a trait to have," Yu Zhen teased.
Li Xueyue rested her palms upon his shoulders. "Someone has to be realistic."
"And delusional," he added on.
"Better than temper issues."
Yu Zhen heartily laughed. This was a statement he could not argue with. It was within his blood to have an atrocious behavior. After all, he inherited the worst traits from his parents. By now, he wasn't sure if they even had decent ones.
Please go to https://www.qzxyzy.com/The-Rise-of-Xueyue/
to read the latest chapters for free