Chapter 51: Mermaid Yuchan (Part Two)
She was uneasy and expectant as she walked around the palace. Fortunately, people in the palace were busy preparing for the coronation and no one paid attention to her. Luckily, she stumbled into the residential court in the rear of the Fuxing Hall. Walking along the long corridor, she finally saw the person she had been missing through a window.
Ouyang Xiaoleng had just finished bathing and was changing into his custom-made dress robe with two spirit servants’ assistance. As he requested, the dress robe was white and the design borrowed some ideas from the suit pictures that Ouyang Hongye had brought from the human world. The upper part of the robe looked like a suit popular in the human world and the lower part was a long and heavy hem looking like a fishtail. The front had a white lotus flower embroidered with gold and silver threads; the back had an embroidered crowned silver fox whose tail trailed down to the fishtail hem. The whole dress robe was extremely exquisite and luxurious; fortunately, it was white, otherwise he’d refuse to wear it.
The moment he put it on, he felt uncomfortable. He was used to the light and simple clothes in the human world and tolerated wearing simple robes once for a while. He had never worn such a formal dress robe before and found even sitting was a struggle in this robe.
Finally, he managed to sit down and let the spirit servants do his hair for him. Looking at his image in the mirror, he felt as if he was looking at a stranger. In the days before the coronation, he had been busy receiving the counts who came to congratulate him, and his face had turned stiff. Ouyang Hongye had warned him not to appear cold or arrogant even though he couldn’t force out a smile, so he tried to make his face look friendly and his voice soft when he received people he didn’t want to see. Later, he figured out a good solution to solve the problem—he’d imagine them as people he liked, and sure enough, things got easier for him.
He hadn’t received any information about Xia Qiu after he returned to the capital city, but he dreamed of her each night. Last night, he dreamed that Xia Qiu stood by his side as they waited for the coronation to begin. He was a bit nervous and she held his hand and told him she’d be with him no matter what. Hearing her words and looking at her smile, his tension vanished. He realized he was more dependent on her than he had thought.
When he woke up, he found it was only a dream and she hadn’t returned; instantly, he was overwhelmed by disappointment. Walking into the courtyard, he stood under a plum tree and plucked the strings of a zither; subconsciously, he played the tune that Xia Qiu had hummed. He always had complicated feelings when he thought of her. He had been vague and ambiguous about his feelings for her and sometimes even took it out on her for no reason. Thinking of his behavior, he was struck by great remorse and fear.
Standing outside the window, Yuchan was wondering if she should go in when someone patted her on the shoulder. Startled, she looked back and found it was Qianqi.
“Young Master,” she greeted him in embarrassment.
“I thought you were preparing for the performance with the others. What are you doing here?” Qianqi pretended that he didn’t know her intention and said the words loudly to draw Ouyang Xiaoleng’s attention.
“I…” Yuchan didn’t know what to say.
Ouyang Xiaoleng heard Qianqi’s voice outside the room. After their argument about Xia Qiu, they hadn’t spoken to each other on their way back to the capital city and during the days before the coronation, but now Qianqi was yelling something before his door. He got curious and instructed a spirit servant, ”Go and find out what they are yelling about outside. If they’re here to see me, ask them to come in.”
“Yes.” The spirit servant walked out.
“My master asked what you were yelling about. If you’re here to see him, please come in,” the spirit servant said to Qianqi and Yuchan.
“She wants to see your master.” Qianqi pushed her into the room with a sly smile.
Ouyang Xiaoleng looked back and saw a veiled woman; she looked familiar, but he couldn’t remember where he had seen her. He looked at her questioningly.
Yuchan saw his puzzlement and took down her veil. Knowing she had done something improper, she lowered her head in shame.“”
“It’s you.” Ouyang Xiaoleng remembered that this pale-haired and blue-eyed girl was one of the mermaid dancers who had performed for them in Dongyao’s Ember Dragon Palace; she had given him a bracelet. ”Do you want to see me for something?”
Yuchan didn’t know his identity and thus answered frankly, ”I just wanted to see you before the coronation.”
She glanced at his wrist and saw he wasn’t wearing the bracelet that she had given to him. She knew the bracelet was nothing for someone who lived in the palace but still felt disappointed.
“Okay. I need to get ready for the coronation. If you don’t have anything urgent to say, I must return to my work,” Ouyang Xiaoleng said coolly and turned around, gesturing for the spirit servants to continue with his hair and dress robe.
“Okay,” Yuchan answered and backed out of the room.
She felt lucky that he didn’t scold her for trespassing; after all, he was a member of the nobility and she was a low-ranking mermaid. She was discouraged by his cool manner but satisfied that she had got her wish to see him. She walked back toward the residential court in the Kaiyang Hall but saw Qianqi who was waiting for her halfway.
“How did it go?” Qianqi asked with a sly smile.
“It’s none of your business!” Yuchan stuck out her tongue at him.
She only dared to show her playful side in front of Qianqi. He was the lofty young master of Dongyao City, but they had grown up together and he treated her as his younger sister.
“I’m sure he was nasty to you. Don’t take it to heart. That ice block can’t even smile!” Qianqi comforted her.
Dispirited, Yuchan lowered her head; then she brightened up and said, ”It doesn’t matter. I’m satisfied that I saw him. You know he remembers me!”
“Is that fellow so good?” Qianqi asked in a huff.
“What? You two don’t get along?” Yuchan remembered that Qianqi hadn’t gone in with her to say hello to Ouyang Xiaoleng.
“Let’s not talk about it,” said Qianqi with a smile. ”Hurry back to the residential court. The coronation is about to begin. Do you remember the way back?”
“Yes.” She nodded and ran back to the residential court after saying goodbye to him. As she ran, she blushed with a racing heart; she was happy that she had finally seen the youth she had missed day and night.
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