Liu Yinyin stiffened slightly when she saw Situ Lin approach, but her expression quickly recovered as she and Su Xi-er bowed. “Paying respects to Your Majesty and Prince Hao.”
Seeing how distant Liu Yinyin was acting, Situ Lin frowned slightly before waving a hand and saying, “No need for the formalities when it’s just us.”
Liu Yinyin backed away to the side as she watched the three of them.
The atmosphere turned awkward instantly. Paying it no mind, Pei Qianhao walked up to Su Xi-er and took her hand as he looked at the dishes. “Had lunch?”
“I ate with Yinyin. You?” Su Xi-er asked, squeezing his hand.
Liu Yinyin’s face darkened a little as she saw the two of them holding hands, but she was able to adjust her expression very quickly. Even so, Situ Lin caught the subtle change.
“Imperial Uncle, I’ll stay in the palace to stabilise matters in court. With the edict I’ve given, the Commandery Prince’s compound will fall into disarray within an hour. Imperial Uncle will need to make a trip there since it’s inconvenient for Commandery Prince Xie to do so.” Situ Lin’s voice was less childish than before, and he looked serious as he spoke.
Su Xi-er looked at Situ Lin, marvelling at how much the boy had grown while she and Pei Qianhao were away. It felt as if he had turned into a grown-up overnight.
“ This Prince is very glad that Your Majesty has learned to handle court affairs properly. Continue with the good work.” Pei Qianhao then made to head out of the palace hall with Su Xi-er.
Sensing that Situ Lin did not seem to have any intention of leaving, Su Xi-er prompted him as she passed by. “Your Majesty, let’s leave.”
Situ Lin’s eyes flickered between Su Xi-er and Liu Yinyin before following the couple out.
Shortly after, Liu Yinyin was the only one left in the main hall. She looked around at the empty repose palace as a feeling of emptiness crept up on her.
A place maid walked in and bowed as she asked, “Miss Yinyin, are you done with lunch?”
Liu Yinyin waved a hand and said, “Yes. I’m going to rest now.” She then turned and walked into the inner chamber.
Watching her leave, the palace maid couldn’t help but say, “Miss Yinyin, there are many noble daughters who clamour for His Majesty’s attention, yet he pays such close attention to you. He definitely won’t forget about you when he comes of age, so why are you treating His Majesty like that when he comes to visit?”
Liu Yinyin stopped in her tracks; her treatment of Situ Lin hadn’t been on purpose. However, like Situ Lin, her experiences in life had forced her to grow up faster than others of the same age. How could she not have understood what Situ Lin was thinking?
It wasn’t that she disliked the young emperor per say, but she felt that she would be abandoning Ning Lianchen if she chose to stay in Beimin. She had made a promise to him that she would return to Nanzhao.
Seeing Liu Yinyin stay silent, the palace maid quickly admitted her mistake, “This servant has said too much. Please don’t take it to heart, Miss Yinyin.”
Liu Yinyin remained silent as she walked into the inner chamber. There was renewed resolve in her eyes, and it was obvious that she had made her choice.
After walking for a short distance, Su Xi-er stopped on the palace path. She said, “A-Jing, you go ahead. Wait for me in the Imperial Garden.”
Pei Qianhao looked at the two of them before nodding and leaving.
“Imperial Aunt, what is it that you can’t say before Imperial Uncle?” Situ Lin asked, even though he could already guess what was coming.Previous Chapter Next Chapter