Li Xueyue eventually managed to escape from Yu Zhen's deadly grip. It was a miracle in itself, considering how strong his grip was, but she supposed he was simply too exhausted. The dark circles under his eyes were telling enough.
She quietly approached the window and pushed it open, a chilly air drifted into the room. Her attention was the sky, bright and clear. It was morning. Did that mean she slept through the entire night? She supposed so. But then, what happened?
"I could've sworn I was in Yu Zhen's private study," she mumbled to herself.
Li Xueyue recalled the events that took place prior to her fainting. What could've caused it? She was uncertain of it. One minute she was overwhelmed with decision making, and the next, she woke up in utter darkness.
"Hah, my life is a mess again," she sighed whilst running a tired hand through her hair. The First Prince was the one who had broken into the bedroom, but why?
Li Xueyue couldn't even come up with a reason for the First Prince's action. She didn't know the brothers had such a closely-knit relationship. Then again, she didn't ask Yu Zhen about it, in fear it would trigger unhappy memories.
"The First Prince seemed quite kind, albeit very playful, much like Hu Dengxiao and the Chancellor's son, Wu Xiang," she observed.
Li Xueyue was familiar with these types of men, for Li Wenmin was one of them. She just wondered if they had ulterior motives when they behaved like that, or was it just their personality?
Li Xueyue had expected the First Prince to be a lot more stern or strict, maybe even resentful and sardonic. But it seemed he was far from that, considering his behavior in the private study.
"Was it a prank?" she wondered out loud. It was the only explanation with the highest plausibility.
Li Xueyue hadn't given Yu Zhen a response that day. Even now, he must be uncertain of who the perpetrator was. Given his temper, she wondered if someone was already punished for the crime.
Li Xueyue quietly fiddled with the ends of her sleeves and continued to contemplate whether she should tell him or keep it a secret. If she kept it a secret, then the First Prince would owe her a favor. But keeping it a secret also meant an innocent life might be taken. In the end, she was still stuck. Though, having the First Prince owe her one would be quite a powerful card to pull out in the future.
Lost in thought, she did not hear the commotion outside of the bedroom until someone knocked on the doors. Instantly, Li Xueyue's eyes snapped to Yu Zhen, wondering if he was awakened by the sound. Usually, the slightest noise could stir him awake.
"Yu Zhen?" she whispered.
He did not respond. Li Xueyue blinked at this. 'He's not dead, is he…?'
Li Xueyue chided herself for asking such a stupid question. Of course not. If he had been dead this whole time, his grip on her would not have been so tight.
"Your Highness,��� a low, shaky voice spoke from outside the door, certain that the Crown Prince was the only one awake. "The First Prince is outside and he insisted on seeing you. He claimed he has seized the medicine from the Imperial Physician and would not hand it over unless he sees your face."
Li Xueyue raised her brows. The First Prince was bold. Even if he was the eldest son, there were not many people who would threaten Yu Zhen like this. Curiosity got the best of her, as she pulled the doors open.
The servants flinched back as if they expected to be scolded. But relief quickly filled their eyes when they saw who was standing at the door. The Crown Princess, she was awake and well!
Whispers quickly erupted, as many people rushed forward to greet her.
"Keep quiet," Li Xueyue instructed whilst shutting the doors behind her. "His Highness is asleep."
The servants were instantly thrown off by her unexpected words. He was still asleep? But the knock…it should've woken him up. A few people exchanged knowing looks with each other.
The Princess had been unconscious for the past three days, burning with a fever that finally subdued the midnight prior. Everyone knew the Crown Prince did not sleep during those three days. He stayed up, from morning to dusk, watching over her with sharp, keen eyes, changing the towels on her forehead diligently.
No one was allowed to enter the bedroom except for the Imperial Physician and his apprentice.
People had expected the Crown Prince to throw a severe tantrum at the fact that his Wangfei was ill. But no. He took his position beside her bedside like a worried wife. It was almost as if he didn't have the time to get angry—which was a bewildering thought.
Everyone thought he would murder someone, or even harrass the Imperial Physician. He certainly did the latter, but he didn't blow up on them as anticipated.
"Where is the First Prince?" Li Xueyue asked. She looked around and fixed her eyes ahead, where everyone was gawking at her, including the man in question.
Li Xueyue was puzzled. Why did her maidservants seem so relieved to see her? She had only slept through the night.
"Oh thank goodness you are awake," the First Prince breathed out in pure relief.
The First Prince took a step into the room, rubbing a spot on his chest, his heart feeling at ease.. Now that the Crown Princess is awake, his younger brother could finally take his position in the private study again, tackling the important paperworks, and managing the country.
"Did you know how worried sick my brother was because you would not open your eyes for three days straight?" the First Prince informed her, shaking his head in pure disbelief.
"Three days?!" she exclaimed, her mouth agape, wondering if he was lying.
"Yes, three days!" he emphasized with a nod of his head.
The First Prince impatiently tapped his foot and placed his hands on his hips. "I thought he would die from the amount of stress he was placing on himself just to watch over you, barely getting a wink of sleep."
Suddenly, a lonely image flashed in Li Xueyue's mind. In that image, Yu Zhen was quietly seated at the foot of her bed, his spine rigid, his face stoic, almost like a human doll.
But there was intense melancholy in his eyes, his perfect brows slightly pulled together. His attention was solely on her, and only her, nothing else for the entire day and night.
Even when his spine grew stiff, he continued sitting there, only moving to feed her a bit of medicine and change the towel on her forehead. He would occasionally adjust her blankets, even if she did not move.
The moonlight would flood through the window, turning his honey gold skin a pale, depressing shade of white.
"I didn't know," was the only thing she managed to say.
Li Xueyue did not want to dwell on such a depressing image. It hurt her heart too much, aching with disbelief and love for him. She did not think he would be this dedicated to her, which was a foolish thought, considering Yu Zhen's obsession…
"But aside from that..." Li Xueyue lifted her gaze to him, her face turning serious and cold. "Let's discuss the events that happened in Yu Zhen's private study."
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