Only one wall separated Rui Wang Mansion and Yan-daren’s newly-bought house. In the evening, after all the people in the mansion had gone to sleep, a tall figure quietly crossed over the wall and landed steadily in the backyard.
Yan-daren patted off the dust on his body and frowned a bit. He thought that the guards in the Wang Mansion were too lax. He would have to remind Xiao Wangye someday to be on guard.
Yan-daren effortlessly entered Xiao Wangye’s wing1厢房 – A house on either side of the main house through the windowsill. In the room, an incense burner was lit with incense that could soothe the nerves and promote sleep. Qiao Qiao was afraid Xiao Wangye couldn’t sleep well at night because he felt too cold, and only after smelling the fragrance could Xiao Wangye fall asleep.
Yan-daren walked to the bedside and sat at the edge of the bed. He didn’t do anything. He simply watched Xiao Wangye’s sleeping face, and only when he saw the day soon turning bright did he leave.
Every night after that, Yan-daren would appear in Xiao Wangye’s room.
He found that Xiao Wangye did not sleep well. Sometimes he would punch and kick in the bed, and sometimes he would sob sadly.
Yan-daren leaned closer to listen, only to clearly hear three words: Yan-gege.
Yan-daren’s entire heart was tight. He carefully lifted Xiao Wangye’s quilt, lay down beside him, and hugged him tightly.
Later, when Qiao Qiao was cleaning up the house, she found that the incense in the burner had already been burned out for some time. Qiao Qiao was delighted. “It seems Xiao Wangye has finally gotten used to the climate here. He can now sleep well without the incense.”
Xiao Wangye sat at the head of the bed with a fire pot2 炉 – Can also be translated as stove or furnace. A fire pot is an earthenware container that is used to transport fire in ancient times. This is also the “heater” being mentioned in the story. in his hand. He smiled and said nothing.
In the evening, Xiao Wangye had another nightmare. In the dream, he returned to that night he was attacked by an assassin in the palace.
Yan-daren fell heavily in front of him. He was so scared, more scared than knowing that the Emperor might kill him to silence him.
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Without hesitation, he used all his strength to carry Yan-daren over his shoulder, then treaded through the muddy snow to go to the Imperial Medical Hall.
That day, the journey that could’ve been completed within an incense time was finished close to a shichen.
He had sprained his foot when Yan-daren pushed him to the ground before, so at that moment, every step he took would send a piercing pain to his ankle. Yet he dared not cry. He was afraid that if he cried, he would no longer have strength to support himself on the way to the Imperial Medical Hall.
From his back, he could hear the sound of faint breathing, and it was his whole world, despite knowing just then that this whole world didn’t belong to him.
Immersed in his dream, Xiao Wangye sobbed fitfully, tears leaking from the corners of his eyes.
Yan-daren’s heart was pricked again, and he couldn’t help but press his lips on the space between Xiao Wangye’s eyebrows, gently placating him.
The warm touch gradually made Xiao Wangye stop sobbing, but Yan-daren was not satisfied. He moved his lips down to his eyebrows, his cheeks, and then seized his lips, kissing them carefully.
Xiao Wangye was awakened by the kiss, and he stared at him with his eyes wide open.
Yan-daren still didn’t let him go, softly calling, “Xiao Jiu…”
Xiao Wangye said with a sullen face, “Call me Wangye. You are being disrespectful.”
Xiao Wangye sternly declared in front of Yan-daren that he was not allowed to come again in the future.
“But what if I come again?” asked Yan-daren.
Xiao Wangye couldn’t think of a good reply. He stammered and faltered, then assumed an air of ferocity, saying, “If you come again, then… I’ll carry the mansion away!”
Although it wasn’t threatening at all, Yan-daren still cooperated and said, “I dare not.”
The next day, Yan-daren didn’t appear again. He didn’t knock on the door during the day, nor did he come to watch over him at night3Actual term used is 陪床, which means “to look after a hospitalized loved one”.
Xiao Wangye couldn’t sleep again. The quilt was a little cold, so he called Qiao Qiao and asked her to set up the heater.
Xiao Wangye shrank into the quilt and hugged himself. He thought of how he was so fierce that day, he was afraid Yan-daren had gone back to the capital.
At noon the next day, as soon as Xiao Wangye opened the door, a pigeon flew in. The pigeon raised its leg towards Xiao Wangye, revealing a rolled-up letter.
Xiao Wangye untied it and read it. The letter said:
It will be snowing heavily today, and the weather is freezing. Please try not to go out.
On the third day, the pigeon sent another letter:
Today, someone is selling tanghulu outside the Wang Mansion. Its flavor is better than the ones in the capital. Wangye can go and have a try.
On the fourth day, the pigeon came again. This time, it was flying a little slowly. After the pigeon flew high and then drooped lowly twice, Xiao Wangye thought that the pigeon was injured, so he hurriedly checked it as soon as he received it. It turned out the pigeon had a small piece of wood tied to its leg, and there was a little rabbit carved upon it.
The carving technique was quite blunt, much worse than Xiao Wangye’s former collection of many botched stuff. Xiao Wangye reluctantly accepted it.
On the fifth day, the pigeon came a little late. Xiao Wangye had been waiting for a while, so he hurriedly took down the letter paper. There were only three words4 It actually says four characters in the raws, because in Chinese, “I like you” is written as 我喜欢你 on it: I like you.