In the early morning, it was buzzing with drums and gongs outside the Wang Mansion. Qiao Qiao came in to say that someone had come from the capital.
Xiao Wangye’s heart thumped for a moment, then he ran outside barefooted, only to be grabbed by Yan-daren and carried back.
“Bare feet are not allowed!” With a cold face, Yan-daren took his cotton boots and put them on him.
Xiao Wangye went out with Yan-daren to greet the guests. They were indeed people from the palace. Following behind them was a caravan of wedding gifts from the Emperor. The scene was very spectacular.
Among the gifts were fox fur cloaks, calligraphy and painting books that Xiao Wangye loved, and special pastries from the capital.
Xiao Wangye calmly expressed his thanks for the grace. When the crowd dispersed, he called to the people in the mansion and said, “Distribute all these and donate them to poor families.”
Yan-daren looked on without uttering a word, and Xiao Wangye inquired uncertainly, “Am I being a little too unsympathetic?”
Yan-daren said, “No, Xiao Jiu is doing very well. I was just thinking that among those pastries were osmanthus cakes unique to the capital, and I’m afraid it will be difficult to buy them here in the future.”
Xiao Wangye was stunned, and he hurriedly ran off to snatch some osmanthus cakes.
On a rare sunny day without snow, Xiao Wangye sat on Yan-daren’s body to bask in the sun while eating the osmanthus cakes he had snatched.
Xiao Wangye took a bite and thought it was very delicious. He quickly handed some for Yan-daren to taste.
The two of them ate for half a shichen over a small plate of pastries, one bite at a time.
Yan-daren wiped the crumbs from his mouth and asked, “Will Xiao Jiu miss the capital?”
Xiao Wangye nodded and said, “I’ll miss it. I’ll miss Father-Emperor. I’ll miss my teacher, and I’ll also miss that little calico cat who gave birth to six kittens in the palace.”
Yan-daren asked again, “Will you miss the Emperor?”
Xiao Wangye shook his head.
After a while, he looked up again and asked Yan-daren, “Does Yan-gege know why the Emperor let me go later?”
Yan-daren truly didn’t know.
“He said you would fight to the death for me. He didn’t want you to get hurt anymore because of me.” Xiao Wangye was very unhappy. “He spoke as if I was the one hurting you, though I now know that I indeed was the one who implicated you…”
Yan-daren tightened his grip on Xiao Wangye’s hand. “You didn’t implicate me. Xiao Jiu always buries things in his heart and carries them in silence. Yan-gege hopes he can always say everything in the future, for he is now no longer alone.”
Xiao Wangye coquettishly rubbed his head in Yan-daren’s arms, and said to him, “Then tell me about what happened in the palace after I left.”
When Xiao Wangye left the capital, Yan-daren entered the palace only once. He saw and heard no more than Xiao Wangye, so he chose some innocuous remarks, such as: “Pearl went into the palace and became the Emperor’s servant girl.”
The moment Xiao Wangye heard it, there was a clear flash of shock in his eyes, and it took a long time for him to calm down, muttering in a low voice, “I knew that girl didn’t have good intentions. It must be because I always said she nagged too much.”
Yan-daren said, “No, she was a servant girl in the Eastern Palace when she first entered the palace. At that time, you had just turned ten.”
Xiao Wangye said no more and carefully rubbed Yan-daren’s rough palms.
“I’m sorry,” Xiao Wangye said in a low voice.
Yan-daren didn’t understand. “Sorry for what?”
“Back then… I had always thought it was you.”
Yan-daren was stunned, but soon got over it as he hugged Xiao Wangye and asked, “So I’ve been wronged for so long for no reason. Shouldn’t Wangye make it up to me?”
As soon as Xiao Wangye heard this, he immediately hooked Yan-daren’s neck and took the initiative to offer his lips.
The kiss that should’ve been as light as a feather’s touch1浅尝辄止 – I used a different idiom to make it sound more natural. The raws actually use “to put away the cup after taking a sip.” went out of control because of Yan-daren gradually deepening it.
Xiao Wangye pushed him away with a red face. “Yan-gege, it’s daytime.”
“What’s wrong with daytime?”
“We’ll be seen,” Xiao Wangye said quietly.
“We won’t. I have all asked them to withdraw,” Yan-daren said with a straight face. Then pressing on the back of Xiao Wangye’s head, he leaned down again to kiss him. He kissed him between his lips and teeth, unwilling to separate. His large hands also unobtrusively explored inside Xiao Wangye’s robe.
“Nnnghh…” Xiao Wangye’s mouth spilled out kitten-like cries. His face was flushed, and with eyes half-lidded from lust, he said, “Yan-gege, I want to…”
Yan-daren’s lips curled up in a sly smile. “Didn’t you say it was daytime?”
Xiao Wangye puffed up his cheeks in anger.
Yan-daren kissed him on the mouth and stood up to carry the man into the house.