Refusing To Serve Me? Then Off With Your Head! - Chapter 63
Although the emperor did not know why I cried, he knew it wasn't because of physical pain or out of anger towards my maids. Shi Qing told him that pregnant women had imbalance mood, so he simply took it as that and enveloped me in a bone-crushing hug.
I naturally was too embarrassed to tell the real reason;maybe I had been with him for too long and my old 'illness' came back.
I was a sick kid when I was young;I was a picky eater and also arrogant and stubborn. Father used to be really angry at me. Before his palm could even reach out to hit me, I would cry out an earth-shattering cry.
Uncle Tong would always side with me.
There was a saying amongst the common people that;one had a strict father and a benevolent mother, that was also the case for me.
Uncle Tong would unconditionally protect me, taking the role of the mother.
Unfortunately, Father saw right through me, or rather, right through my little tricks. So, he became stricter. My 'illness' then disappeared over the years.
Who would have thought that within a year of being with His Majesty, my 'illness' came back....
Father used to hit me as a way to punish me. That was not the case with His Majesty. He would lecture me and ground me instead.
As time passed, I fear him less and less. Whenever he would get angry, I knew that whatever anger he had left would disappear by noon.
After Consort De passed away, I did not ask him about what were to become of Fan Wang's family members. After all, it had nothing to do with me. I only needed to recuperate in the back palace and wait for what life was about to bring to me.
The 12th lunar month came, and I heard that the ministers were going to celebrate our victory against the rebels. I felt like the palace life was too busy and continuous. I felt impatient thinking about what I would have to endure during the banquet. I was merely frowning while leaning against the long couch, but the emperor caught on to it pretty easily. He put down the memorial in his hand before wrapping his arms around me, ’’Yi Er don't like palace banquets?’’
I snuggled against him, lazily lying under his embrace, ’’I have to socialize non-stop with irrelevant people on the new year's eve, just thinking about it makes me feel tired. Why don't we lock ourselves inside our palace and celebrate the new year quietly.’’
Just thinking about it made me feel delirious.
Ever since I got pregnant, the emperor forbade anyone from entering the palace to greet me. Those ministers must have been waiting for a chance to send their wives to ingratiates themselves against me to please the emperor.
He smiled before planting a kiss on my forehead, ’’Of course.’’
We spent this new year's eve inside Zhong Hua Palace's warm hall. Feng Zhao Wen and I sat around a warm portable stove. There were meats and fruits placed around the warm stove. He picked up a piece of meat and placed it on a pot on top of the stove. I dipped it into a sauce before putting it on my plate. As I bite into the meat, I looked at him who was sitting in front of me.
Other than the occasional sound of us conversing, the entire Zhong Hua Palace was quiet.
All of the servants were already sent away;there were only the two of us inside the hall. Everything felt so quiet and tranquil, as though our lives were simple and quaint.
After dinner, we donned our respective fur robes and strolled around the palace, with him guiding me. The emperor had decreed that I was pregnant and should not receive any shock, so fireworks were banned. The palace was exceptionally quiet, not a single sound of laughter could be heard.
I used to travel this road a lot when I participated in palace's banquets when I was younger. I spoke to the emperor as I held his arm, ’’When I was young, I really liked attending palace's banquets. Even my Father had to be gentle to me when we were in the palace....’’
Never would I have thought that I would be living here, starting a family.
The emperor smiled, looking especially happy, ’’There were rumors saying you had a thick skin when you were younger....’’
I nodded vigorously at that, ’’Running down the river to catch fish, climbing on trees to catch birds, fighting with others, being extremely violent and restless.... I could ride horses when I was only 10. I would return home with bruises and Father would be so angry at me.....’’
There was a warm smile on his face as he spoke in regret, ’’I didn't get the chance to play all that when I was younger.... At that age, I was busy studying under the Grand Tutor and learning horseback riding and archery from my martial arts teacher.’’
Tian Bing Qing once told me that Feng Zhao Wen's mother died early. He grew up under the hatred of his stepmother. His father on the other hand, only loved his stepmother. I could not even begin to imagine what he had to went through.
However, it was also due to that stepmother that the current powerful and heroic Feng Zhao Wen was born.
The emperor had become more and more physically appealing in my eyes;I had become so fond of him that it felt like he was a piece of my heart. I waved his arm around with a big smile before saying, ’’It would be great if we knew each other from our younger years. I would be able to take you fishing.’’
His phoenix eyes were full of light as he looked at me gently. He tightened his hold on my hand as he stared at me for a long time, not saying anything. And then he laughed, ’’Stupid! How terrible would it be to befriend a loud kid who only knew how to fight? It is better that we meet each other now, we still have half our lives waiting for us!’’
I knew it was only wishful thinking, but once I gave my heart to someone, I wanted to do everything I could to give the entire world to him. Remembering his thirst and his hardship, my heart really ached for that young child in him.
I used to be hot-blooded and used to ignore everything to get what I wanted, but in the end, I repaid all that with pain and suffering. After that lesson, I thought I should live my life reflecting over that mistake. Unfortunately, Feng Zhao Wen seemed pretty adamant to ruin that mindset. He picked me up from muddy water before walking next to me hand-in-hand.
It felt pretty embarrassing but also secretly sweet.
I turned around and could see our footprints on the snow. Even our footprints were perfectly aligned;one was large and the other was small. They were perfectly safe and sound deep within the walls of the Forbidden City.
After the 1st lunar month, His Majesty was busy again.
My body was healthy and I could occasionally feel our child kicking me from inside. The noble madams started to ask for permission to enter the palace again. They were finally allowed to, but only after receiving permission.
I had no idea if it was either Consort De's death or the way His Majesty treated me, but no one other than Duke Zhen proposed to send their daughters to the harem. Most of them would just surround me while discussing about the possible genders of my child.
Honestly, His Majesty never pressured me into giving birth to a son. From time to time, he would bring up his past, ’’My imperial father used to dote on Min An so much.....’’
Princess Min An was still under house arrest.
Whenever he brought that up, I would giggle before comforting him, ’’You will definitely be a good imperial father!’’
However, those noble madams did not know what His Majesty wanted. They would praise the baby I was carrying before inadvertently bringing up about their unmarried daughters at home. They wanted me to arrange their daughters' marriages for them.
Although I was in charge of the harem, I was unable to grasp things like this, so I would usually start by advising them with 'the children's feelings should count! Mutual respect matters most!' Instead of arranging mismatched mandarin ducks, everyone should be in harmony with each other.
When the emperor returned from the court, he scoffed at me, saying that the thing was already right under my hand, yet I still pointed them to the moon. I disagreed, so he kindly reminded me, ’’Isn't the Marquis of An Le still unmarried?’’
I looked at him in surprise, ’’Are you joking? An Le has no power, they would never like him. His salaries aren't high and he is only holding onto an empty position.’’
My eyes and the eyes of the entire world had such different views.
An Le grew up with me, so I was naturally really biased towards him. In a world where everything was measured through money and power, he decided to be an idle noble although his position allowed him to be a lot more.
Those madams came from noble households, they were very well-acquainted to the arts of arranged marriage. I heard that An Le didn't like ingratiating himself with those nobles in the capitals. Those people looked down on me for being the daughter of a fallen minister, just imagine what they were secretly thinking of An Le, the fallen minister's illegitimate son.
His Majesty pinched me in the nose before waving his fist like a rogue, ’’An Le has no power, but his sister does.’’
Although the court was peaceful, the emperor was battling those ministers on daily basis. He kept asking those ministers to contribute to the kingdom's treasury;to repair dams, to curb droughts etc. Helping the commoners required money. As of now, the entire world was leaning onto him.
I was happy with his sincere words. I hugged his arm fawningly, ’’The one with the position and power is Your Majesty, not An Le's sister.’’ He laughed at that.
I've always loved seeing His Majesty laughing everytime I buttered him up.
The main purpose of marriage was to make your other half happy.
As long as His Majesty was happy, he wouldn't have the thoughts to inspect his harem.
I have lived for more than 20 years. Meeting His Majesty was akin to a blind cat stumbling upon a dead mouse. Other than grabbing him tight and not letting go, I wouldn't know what else to do. I hoped I could live like this forever;so happy that I would smile in my sleep.
It was about time for An Le to enter the palace.
This was the first time he entered the palace after the assassination attempt;we had not seen each other for months. When he saw me, he was really agitated. He eyed me from head to toe. Only after he did that did he remember to bow in greeting.
I naturally understood that he avoided entering the palace to avoid suspicion regarding His Majesty's assassination attempt.
Our feelings for each other were unfathomable by other people. Being able to live in peace like this, without having to worry about food and shelter was already a blessing from up above. As for the truth, it could be cut to fit the mold that the world had created for us.
He kept telling me about how much Uncle Tong missed me. I merely smiled while listening in silence, secretly eyeing him from head to toe.
An Le used to be round and fair;he was fat, but cute. After that, he grew alarming thin under my care. Now that he was living under proper care, he grew to be a handsome and heroic young man.
I waited for him to finish speaking before asking him, ’’Brother, you are no longer young. Have you decided about your marriage?’’
He looked at me in shock, ’’Jiejie, even you are asking me that?’’
Only then did I found out about his predicament. Apparently, the capital's officials had been going in and out of An Manor, trying to seek marriage alliance. An Le had become the hottest eligible bachelor in town.
His Majesty indeed had the ability to predict the future.
After those officials' proposals were rejected, their wives were forced to enter the palace and bring up about their unmarried daughters in hopes that I would be kind-hearted enough to match them with him.
After saying all that, An Le sent me a look while laughing, ’’I heard the Duke Zhen's wife simply brought the topic of sending her daughter to the harem, and the next day, an edict came to marry the daughter off to someone else. I never knew you were that jealous.’’
That was actually the first time I ever heard of that.
The Duchess was being pretty diplomatic at that time;saying that it wasn't convenient for me to serve the emperor and that her daughter was willing to share the burden and serve the emperor for me. I naturally wasn't happy about that. Since I hadn't given her the nod, the daughter could not enter the harem without my permission. I casually brought it up during dinner with His Majesty;he sure acted fast.
I felt happy, but because I got laughed at by An Le, I got pretty embarrassed. After fixing my dress and my head gear, I loudly pondered, ’’From how bengong looks at it, a couple of the younger misses from Duke Zhen's household aren't bad as well. You are now at the right age for marriage. Why don't you marry them and bring them home to expand our An Clan?’’
An Le quickly turned around to glance at the Daoist nun that was Xiao Wu. She looked pretty murderous at the moment.
An Le shrank in fear while I laughed.
The next time those madams entered the palace, they were respectful to the tee, unlike their previous gossiping selves. Duke Zhen's wife thanked me and His Majesty for bestowing her daughter with a good marriage.
I was very pleased.
Looking at the way the Duchess of Zhen was crying, tears and snot and all, the marriage alliance must have been really good! His Majesty had good eyes.
After those madams left, E Huang gossiped with me, saying that those madams finally knew how to carry themselves.
I grew up playing within the palace's walls;I had seen it's polished exterior and it's ugly interior, so I naturally noticed their changes as well. Those madams had indeed looked down on me;an incompetent empress who was the daughter of a fallen minister. What harm would it bring them to be disrespectful a little?
What they did not know was that my biggest backing was not my maternal family, but the emperor's unconditional protection for me.
He used his arms to cover me from the rain and wind and he held his heart out to give it to me. Now that I had received his heart, I gave him mine in return. We were in each other's hearts.
Under this vast sky, we've got each other's backs.
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