Early spring is both warm and chilly.
Xia Hou Shang Yue is sitting in the flower hall while reading a book. She has never liked commotion and ever since she marries into the Yue Kingdom, the atmosphere got even colder.
She holds her book while listening to Xue Wu. When Xue Wu shows reluctance to speak, she finally let go of her book and glance at her as well as the brocade box in her hand.
Was the gift rejected?
“Miss Yan refused to accept?”
A complete silence. Inside the flower hall, the only thing one can hear is the sound of the two people’s breathing.
“The emperor told you to send the gift yourself.”
Another period of silence. Xia Hou Shang Yue’s fair cheeks turn even paler, Bai Yu Chen humiliates her too much. No matter what, she is still the head of the back palace, the empress of the country. He wants her to personally send a gift to a woman that hasn’t even been conferred a title?
Seeing Xia Hou Shang Yue’s paling complexion, Xue Wu also think that the emperor has gone too far. But she did not speak her thoughts out loud, firmly holding on to Xia Hou Shang Yue’s instruction to not speak about the emperor in any way.
Xue Wu expected Xia Hou Shang Yue to get upset, but she did not. She smiles instead.
“Then, let’s go.”
Xia Hou Shang Yue stands before the door, looking at the hesitant Xue Wu, frowning while silently standing there.
Xue Wu finally opens her mouth after a while. “The emperor asked mistress to bring the empress’ seal.”
Xia Hou Shang Yue clench her fists, she can feels a faint pain in her palms, one that slowly spread to her heart. Her expression remains calm as she unclench her fists.
“Then, wait for me for a while.”
After taking her seal from her room, she and Xue Wu leaves the Feng Qi Palace. On the road, neither of them says anything.
Even though they don’t know which palace Yan Ruyu will be placed at, but they can easily guess by pinpointing the most festive place.
While they are heading there, they can hear palace maids and eunuchs gossiping about how unfavored the empress is and how the emperor already appoints new concubine merely three days after the big wedding. There are also talks about how beautiful and gentle Miss Yan is and how much the emperor dotes on her as well as how the receiving ceremony for her is no less impressive than the empress’.
Xia Hou Shang Yue acts as though she hears nothing, her fists clenching as she continues with her pace calmly. Xue Wu follows from behind with a heartache. Her mistress must be having a hard time now.
Chong Yan Palace. When Xia Hou Shang Yue sees the three characters, she can’t help but to form a cold smile. Yan Ruyu indeed received the emperor’s love. Even the name of her palace signifies the emperor’s affection for her.
“The Empress arrives!”
The eunuch has his eyes bulged out after seeing Xia Hou Shang Yue’s phoenix dress before he made that announcement. Even after the announcement, no one came to receive Xia Hou Shang Yue.
Xia Hou Shang Yue’s face is composed as she calmly made her way there. Not long after, she enters Chongyan Palace’s hall. The moment she stepped foot into it, traces of luxuries can be seen everywhere. It’s magnificence is perhaps even greater than Feng Qi Palace.
“Ruyu greets the empress.” A delicate voice reaches Xia Hou Shang Yue’s hearing, as she comes face to face with a lady wearing a red cloth whose head is looking down to the ground. Her hands are on her waist while the red dress she wore becomes an eyesore to Xia Hou Shang Yue’s eyes.
In the Yue Kingdom, only the empress can wear red clothes. Who would’ve thought that Yan Ruyu will also wear red wedding dress that can only be worn by the empress. Xia Hou Shang Yue bit her lips, just as she was about to speak, Bai Yu Chen suddenly pulls Yan Ruyu to his embrace, in his eyes, traces of indescribable affection.
“I told you to stop with the formalities.”
“Greeting the emperor,” Xia Hou Shang Yue bit her lips. After the formality, she gives Bai Yu Chen a cold indifferent look before she looks at Yan Ruyu. She possessed a small delicate face, full of elegance and charm. Her flawless face has a charming smile, one that would evoke protectiveness in men.
“I know that Miss Yan will come into the palace today, so I specifically came to send a gift.”
Xue Wu heads over to hand the brocade box, but a small eunuch immediately took over. Yan Ruyu appears to be a little shy.
“Ruyu thank the empress.”
As she says that, Bai Yu Chen continues embracing her tight. Under so many eyes, she becomes even more bashful. Bai Yu Chen look at Xia Hou Shang Yue provokingly, as though saying, ‘See, this is my beloved woman. Even though you are the noble princess of Mu Kingdom, on my side, you are nothing but a discarded woman.’
“Empress, use your seal to stamp this.” Right after he said that, his confidante, Eunuch Hai comes over and bring a yellow silk. Xia Hou Shang Yue studies the silk with a faint sneer, one that can hardly be traced but was seen by Bai Yu Chen. He did not say anything about it. He scoffed before turning his eyes back to the person on his embrace.
After she finished stamping, she takes back the seal and look at the loving couple in front of her. “If there is nothing else, I’ll retreat first.”
Bai Yu Chen tighten his arms around Yan Ruyu, his eyes mocking. He did not allow her to leave, but did not forbid her as well. Yan Ruyu on the other hand, though uncomfortable in his restricting embrace, has traces of joys in her face. The emperor indeed likes her more. Even though the empress’ position is higher than hers, she is merely an unfavored empress.
Xia Hou Shang Yue and Bai Yu Chen look at each other for a while. She can’t help but noticed the secretly pleased expression on Yan Ruyu’s face. The hands inside her sleeves slowly fists and unfists. In the end, she chooses to look away.
“Is the empress unhappy with me conferring Ruyu the title ‘Yu Guifei’? There isn’t a single smile on your face.” Bai Yu Chen’s voice is cold, like knife, as though he is unsatisfied with leaving Xia Hou Shang Yue be. She raises her head and looks at him, her face revealing a smile.
“Then, I’ll wish Your Majesty and Yu Guifei to grow old happily together. If there’s nothing else, I’ll retreat first.”
Grow old happily together? How sardonic. No emperor will grow old together with a woman. But still, there was nothing wrong with what Xia Hou Shang Yue said. Wishing growing old together to newlyweds is actually a blessing.
A flash of discontent can be seen on Yan Ruyu’s delicate face, one that disappears instantly.
“Then Ruyu will thank empress’ blessing.”
Xia Hou Shang Yue gives her a simple smile before elegantly turning around and leaves Chongyan Palace. Bai Yu Chen looks at her straight back, his heart unreadable. The hand he has around Yan Ruyu loosen.
“I am tired. I would like to be alone for a while.”