Li Xueyue and Yu Zhen left their bedroom together. After their embrace, they didn't say a word to each other, but that was fine with them. It was a comfortable silence, instead of a suffocating one.
But now, Li Xueyue was faced with another dilemma. He was blocking the doorway with his body, refusing to let her out.
"What are you doing?" she asked, bewildered by his actions.
"Since you did not see the Imperial Physician yesterday," he said with a disapproving frown. "You will see him right now."
"But I have places to be, people to ruin," Li Xueyue argued. She folded her arms across her chest. "It wasn't like I refused to see the Imperial Physician either, I just forgot to summon him."
Yu Zhen narrowed his eyes. "You will see him now."
Li Xueyue let out a sigh. "I am already late to the meeting."
Yu Zhen shrugged. "That sounds like a personal problem."
Li Xueyue scowled. "I really, really don't have the time to see him now."
"This is a matter that concerns your health," Yu Zhen pointed out. "Your health is the topmost priority."
Li Xueyue's shoulders sagged. She knew he was right. Being worried about her health wasn't a bad thing. "I'm scared," she admitted.
"I don't want bad news to ruin my day so quickly, especially when it is barely starting."
"Why would it be bad news?"
"Because every time the Imperial Physician sees me, it always feels like he's going to deliver unfortunate news," Li Xueyue said.
Yu Zhen pressed his lips together. He reached out and pinched her cheeks. "Bad news is better than death."
Li Xueyue gawked at him. "It was just one time that I fainted!"
"One time too many."
"Well, not everyone is blessed with a healthy body that never gets sick," she grumbled out before finally thinking of a solution.
"Since you have to be present in the throne room, and I have a meeting, why don't we both see the Imperial Physician later? That way, you will be present during the examination and diagnosis," she offered.
Yu Zhen raised a brow. "That was supposed to happen yesterday before you demanded me to leave, Sunshine."
Li Xueyue unwillingly nodded her head. "I panicked yesterday, I'm sorry."
Yu Zhen pulled her cheek again. "You've already apologized twice in one day. Enough."
Li Xueyue wondered if her bad habit had returned. But she decided not to think too much of it, or else it would stick inside of her head for a while.
"If you linger here any longer, then you will be late," she urged him.
Li Xueyue pushed him out of the way and stepped out right after him. She wondered if it was her strength that was able to nudge him, or his willingness to move along. For the sake of her pride, she decided it was the former.
Her lips twitched. She found it amusing that she was always so weak around him, but she was also his weakness.
"What are you smiling about?" Yu Zhen muttered. "Are you that eager to get rid of me?"
"I'm glad you're able to realize that on your own," she teased.
Yu Zhen scoffed. "Don't flatter yourself, Sunshine. You can never get enough of me."
Li Xueyue snorted. "I guess you haven't woken up yet, since you're still dreaming."
- - - - -
Li Xueyue wouldn't say she looked forward to this meeting, but she certainly felt that way. She felt a strange sense of eagerness to see the man who plagued her nightmares. It was so bewildering that she once feared him with every fiber within her body, but now, she was someone he had to bow down to.
"Xiao Hua, make sure the tea is lukewarm today," Li Xueyue said. 'Just like his performance,' she thought to herself, wondering if he truly found the desired dagger shaped like a moon.
Xiao Hua nodded her head. She stepped back, careful not to show her back to the Crown Princess, since it was considered a violation of the rules of etiquette.
But then, a bewildered voice asked, "Where are you going?"
Xiao Hua blinked in confusion. She naively tilted her head. "To fetch tea, Princess…?"
"Xiao Hua, you're one of my people now," the Crown Princess deadpanned.
Xiao Hua instantly recognized the meaning. Her cheeks flushed a bit from being placed on the spot, but she dutifully nodded her head. No wonder a new set of clothes was delivered to her today. She wore a hanfu that was of higher quality, more colorful and beautiful that set her apart from other maidservants.
Xiao Hua turned to one of her friends and hesitantly cleared her throat. This would be the first time she commanded someone, but knew it would not be the last. Soon, she would have to take the responsibility of keeping every servant in check.
"As instructed by the Crown Princess, prepare lukewarm tea."
The maidservant was stunned speechless. Nonetheless, she bowed her head, but never the upper body, for that deep of a bow was reserved for the Crown Princess. However, a bow of the head was more than enough for a handmaiden.
"And make sure it's black tea, but do not steep it for too long," Xiao Hua instructed. She already knew what the Crown Princess had in mind, but that was only because she had always observed her.
The maidservant obediently nodded her head. "Yes, Head Handmaiden."
Xiao Hua was caught off-guard by the title. She hesitantly looked at the Crown Princess, wondering if she was getting too ahead of herself. But she was met with an encouraging smile.
As the maidservant hurried off, the Crown Princess began to walk again. This time, Xiao Hua was only two steps behind, in comparison to the three steps maintained by the other servants. The first step behind was reserved for aristocracy.
"You did well," the Crown Princess complimented. "But next time, do not show hesitation. You need to be stern and firm."
Xiao Hua bowed at the Crown Princess's words. "As you wish, Princess."
- - - - -
Li Xueyue turned the corner but stopped. She wasn't surprised to see Lady Ge Beining since this place was near the Empress's Estate. But it was astonishing to see the man accompanying Lady Ge Beining. She seemed upset by his words, her brows wrung together as her lips curled into a soft scowl.
'Even when she's upset, she's beautiful,' Li Xueyue thought to herself. She could not believe that someone of Lady Ge Beining's beauty was not married off to the most eligible bachelor already. By now, there were probably enough men to form a line around the enormous Imperial Palace.
"It seems they are engaged in a thoughtful conversation," she muttered to Xiao Hua.
Xiao Hua's eyes lingered upon the silent guards that lined the hallways near Lady Ge Beining and Marquis Qin. She, too, was curious.
"I knew Lady Ge Beining had a close tie to Marquis Qin, considering the fact that I met him when they were both present," the Crown Princess said.
Xiao Hua's ears heightened at the Crown Princess's words. She moved her eyes left and right, wondering if the other servants had caught onto the hidden message. None of them did, for their heads were still lowered towards the ground.
Xiao Hua's attention returned to Lady Ge Beining and Marquis Qin. As if they had gotten into a dispute, Lady Ge Beining angrily stormed off, which was completely unlike her nature. If she recalled correctly, Lady Ge Beining never had a temper. She rarely lashed out on people, much less, strut with this much force and hatred.
'I wonder what happened…' Xiao Hua thought to herself. She cast one final look towards the quiet guards that bore the emblem of the Imperial Family. Then, without another word, she silently accompanied the Crown Princess.
There was a single intent in Xiao Hua's mind, and it was only known between two people.
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