Zhao Jie stopped looking directly at her. He leaned over and tied the turquoise squirrel waist accessory that had been in his hands on her waist. It seemed as if he didn’t care the slightest bit about bending his waist for her in front of other people.
Wei Luo was surprised and reflexively retreated, “What is older brother Prince Jing doing?”
His voice was low and carried masculine calmness, “Don’t move. This is a gift that I selected for you in Binzhou.” After he finished hanging the accessory, he stood up and asked, “Do you like it?”
Wei Luo held it in her palm to look and discovered that it was a little squirrel eating nuts. She asked in confusion, “Why did you give me this?”
He curved up his lips in a smile, but didn’t explain.
Wei Luo looked at it left and right and felt that it was pretty cute. Since she didn’t know that he had given her this because the squirrel and her looked similar, she looked up and sweetly thanked him. She finally remembered to ask him, “I heard that older brother Prince Jing had returned to the capital yesterday. Are you here to see the Empress?”
He didn’t speak. In a short while, he slowly nodded.
He had indeed recently gone to Zhaoyang Palace to see Empress Chen. However, she wasn’t the reason that he entered the palace this time. As for who it was, there wasn’t a reason for him to let her know. He didn’t want to frighten her.
The turquoise squirrel waist accessory was pressed down on her cherry blossom pink full skirt. The wind gently raised the edges of the skirt, so that when she walked, her pair of tiny blue silk shoes lined with sheepskin inside was partly hidden and partly visible.
Zhao Jie could see the shoes as soon as he looked down. The expression shown in his eyes was a mystery. He stopped looking at her shoes and looked at the young girl’s pretty face instead. He lifted his lips to say, “Why aren’t you asking me where I’ve been or what I’ve done for the past two years?”
Wei Luo saw that he didn’t have the intention to leave. She thought that he had already finished his business, so he was conveniently accompanying her in leaving the palace. She didn’t have any further doubts.
While walking on the winding road paved with limestone, she noticed that this wasn’t the path that she usually took. This path was narrow. It was spacious enough if it there was only one person walking. But if there were two people walking, they would have to walk shoulder to shoulder.
She wasn’t tall enough, so her shoulder could only touch Zhao Jie’s arm. She wanted to take a step back, but Zhao Jie slanted his head to look at her and she felt trapped as if she couldn’t advance or retreat.
She could only continue walking with him side by side. She pulled back her shoulders and said, “Big brother, you didn’t say anything when you left. I only found out through Liuli after you were gone for two months already. I know that you had to go to Binzhou because Huang River had breached its dam there. The common people were suffering and you had to go there to manage the damages caused by the flood.”
This translation belongs to FuyuNeko. Please read from the original source, mew.
There were two paths in front of Qingxi Palace’s main entrance. One path was her usual path. The other path was this secluded small path. Empress Chen and palace servant girls only occasionally took this path. Perhaps, Zhao Jie was used to walking this path with Empress Chen… her mind was indulging in flights of fantasy.
Zhao Jie’s eyes showed a trace of a smiling expression. The young girl’s slippery dark eyes were spinning chaotically. How could a person not know what she was thinking in her mind? Zhao Jie’s facial expression didn’t change. Pretending to be honest, he continued, “I thought I would return in three or four months when I was sent there, so it didn’t seem worth mentioning. Unexpectedly, I was there for two years and could only come back to the capital yesterday.”
He walked unhurriedly to coordinate with her pace. He casually said, “Yesterday was Spring Lantern Festival. How did you celebrate it?”
Wei Low slightly raised her pink lips in a smile, “I went outside to see the colored lanterns. It was very lively outside from the numerous people.”
“Oh. Whom did you go with?”
Wei Luo didn’t have anything to hide and told him everything, “I went with Chang Hong, Wei Zheng …” She paused while speaking, “and older brother Song Hui.”
He stopped. His dark phoenix eyes were fixed on her, but he didn’t say anything. That pair of eyes could hide too many emotions. Without any reason, his gaze made Wei Luo feel afraid. She retreated half a step and said, “Big brother?”
He looked away from her and smilingly said, “I was on horseback.”
These words weren’t false. When he was left with three to five days of travel away from the capital, he would have to change four or five horses every day. He was in a rush to get back the entire way. Unfortunately, he still wasn’t able to return on time. While he was on a bumpy horseback, she was inside the capital strolling around to view colored lanterns and guessing riddles with other men. He was a bit angry as he thought this.
Wei Luo didn’t know what he was thinking in his heart, so she only thought that he was somewhat pitiful. During the past two years, he probably didn’t live very well in Binzhou. She had heard that the plague had spread there and thousands of people had died. Although he looked healthy and undamaged right now, he must have suffered a lot. He wasn’t even able to celebrate Spring Lantern Festival. Her heart softened and she stepped forward to grab his sleeve that was embroidered with golden clouds, “I recently gave Liuli a few water lanterns. I still have two left. Big brother, do you want to release them with me?
(T/N: Below are water lanterns.)
Zhao Jie froze. His eyes revealed a trace of his surprise.
She pursed her lips and thought that he didn’t know. So, she patiently explained, “When you release a water lantern, you can make a wish. Do you have anything that you want to wish for?”
He faintly smiled. He finally understood that this young girl was trying to comfort him through this method. He looked into her eyes and slowly said, “There is.”
At this time, Wei Luo anxiously wanted to go home right away to blend her fragrant rose lotion. But, she could only delay doing this.
She went to western part of the palace’s lakeside with Zhao Jie. It was the beginning of spring at this time. The ice on the lake’s surface had already melted, but the temperature was still somewhat cold. A burst of chilly wind blew through the scene. It was so cold that she covered her mouth as she sneezed.
Zhao Jie saw this and took off the sky blue silk overcoat lined with marten fur that he was wearing and draped it over her shoulders.
She quickly refused and took it off to return to him. Without even mentioning that men and women were different, so interactions between the two must be careful, the mere sight of her wearing Prince Jing’s clothes was already enough for her to be unable to explain herself… But, Zhao Jie used his hand to press down on her shoulder. His large and powerful palm had a force of oppression that wouldn’t allow any refusal. Her margin for refusal vanished in a flash.
She could obediently drape the clothing over herself. She asked with uneasiness, “Big brother, aren’t you cold? You’re not wearing much either.”
He lowered his head, smiled, and told her, “I’m a man.”
Wei Luo said, “Oh.” She didn’t continue disputing this issue with him. She looked around. There wasn’t anyone else here at this time of the year. Because the temperature was too cold, no one was willing to come to the lakeside. Only the two of them were leisurely enough to come here to elegantly release the water lanterns.