Chapter 199: Half-hearted Accusation
Morning came. When the first ray of sun broke through the night, Jun Huang’s eyes fluttered open. She stared at the ceiling for a long while before turning to her side. Nan Xun was deep in sleep, holding her hand firmly. With wide eyes, she carefully pulled her hand out of his grip. She let out a sigh of relief when she saw that Nan Xun had not been woken up.
With a hand supporting her head, she looked at Nan Xun’s face. Her heart swelled and expanded as their argument yesterday faded away from her mind. She wanted to treasure this moment - this man. The rest was insignificant.
On impulse, she reached out to a hand to trace the contour of Nan Xun’s handsome face. Her cool fingertips landed on his eyebrow, the bridge of his nose, then the corner of his mouth. A small smile tugged at her lips. She lowered her eyes, a few strands of her hair ran messily down her face. If Nan Xun opened his eyes now, he would see how tenderly she was looking at him.
Nan Xun had woken up when Jun Huang pulled her hand out of his grip, but before he could open his eyes, Jun Huang’s fingers had ghosted over his skin. He didn’t want to interrupt this rare demonstration of affection. He didn’t want Jun Huang to jump away like a scared fawn once he opened his eyes. He pretended to be asleep despite how fast his heart was beating.
Jun Huang’s heart was pounding just as fast. She had reached out for Nan Xun without thinking. Her hand touched Nan Xun’s face before she realized it. She didn’t want to lose the connection. She would like this moment to stretch and never end. Her feeling for him was now her weakness. She knew that she had changed because of Nan Xun.
Thinking of their argument yesterday, Jun Huang let out a deep breath. The words had fallen out of her mouth in the heat of the moment. What was said could not be unsaid. She didn’t know how Nan Xun felt about it, but she was truly regretful.
“I didn’t mean it, Nan Xun,” Jun Huang said quietly. She could only open up when she thought that no one could hear her. “I was in a bad mood yesterday. I never wanted to hurt you...”
Under the blanket, Nan Xun’s hands twitched. He wanted to pulled Jun Huang into his arms and told her that he didn’t mind, but he managed to stop himself. Jun Huang had not accepted him yet, and he knew that there was some truth to what Jun Huang said yesterday. He could be too intrusive sometimes. That was bad for both of them.
“If you aren’t going to say anything, I’ll assume that you’ve forgiven me,” Jun Huang said with a mischievous smile. She took a deep breath and sat up, but her fingers continued to ghost over Nan Xun’s face.
A monk came to knock on their door with a jug of water in his other hand. Nan Xun pretended that he had just woken up. When he opened his eyes, Jun Huang’s hand was right before him. He caught her wrist without thinking.
Jun Huang jumped and pulled away, her face flushed. The color on her cheeks vanished as soon as a gust of wind swept into the room. Even her heated cheeks had cooled down.
She cleared her throat, sneaking glances at Nan Xun, wondering if he had heard her. She relaxed when she saw the impassive expression on his face.
“Why have you woken up so early?” Nan Xun asked worriedly. “Is your knee still hurting?”
Now that Nan Xun brought it up, she felt a dull pain spreading through her knee. She looked down and saw that her injured knee was wrapped in bandages.
She frowned and reached out for her knee, but Nan Xun caught her wrist quickly. “What are you doing?”
“I… it’s itching,” Jun Huang whispered, embarrassed.
“That’s a good sign. It means the wounds are healing.” Nan Xun looked up at her. His black eyes were as opaque as a lake in winter. “You’ve gotten injured before. You must know this already.”
Jun Huang blushed. Of course she knew. When she met Nan Xun’s eyes, however, her brain seemed to stop working.
How ridiculous! She always fancied herself someone who never lost her calm, and yet she had forgotten herself because a man was looking at her with stars in his eyes.
She jumped off the bed, forgetting that her legs had not fully recovered from the chilling cold. Pain shot through her knee and she lost balance. Nan Xun caught her before she could fall.
“I never thought of you as a clumsy person,” Nan Xun teased. He knew that Jun Huang had been acting differently since he woke up. It was the first time that he saw the mature mask fall from Jun Huang’s face. She was finally behaving like someone her age.
He found himself even more drawn to her.
Nan Xun wanted her to not act old before him. He wanted her to be how she was now. To openly blush and be clumsy. To feel safe to be the young woman she was.
Now he knew that the one he loved was not the intelligent and ambitious Feng Baiyu, who pushed through all difficulties with a tightened jaw, who considered everyone’s interest without boasting it, who comforted others with a smile even when faced with great dangers. The one he loved was Jun Huang, who had fallen into his arms like an unexpected dream.
He was in love with her soul. The rest didn’t matter.
The tenderness in Nan Xun’s eyes was overwhelming. Jun Huang jumped away like she had been scorched by hot water. Her aching knees didn’t allow her to flee. She could only sit on the bed, averting her gaze. A faint blush dusted her cheeks.
Nan Xun awkwardly touched his nose and sat up to look at Jun Huang. The silence between them was a little heavy, but he didn’t know what to say.
“Why did you leave me there alone yesterday?” Jun Huang regretted her words as soon as she said it, but she couldn’t quite stop herself from spilling her thoughts. Her half-hearted accusation quickly turned into self-deprecation. “Weren’t you worried that something would happen to me? I didn’t mean what I say, and I’m not trying to blame you now. What you did, though… Well, you’re used to staying at the border, and you’re a prince. Of course you wouldn’t pay attention to someone like me. Forget what I’ve just said.”
Nan Xun’s chest tightened. He knew he had made a mistake. No matter how angry he was, he shouldn’t have left her on her own. It was fortunate that she wasn’t seriously hurt. If something similar happened again, he wasn’t sure if he would be able to stay calm. Perhaps he would lose his sanity as soon as he realized that she was gone.
He took her hands in his and said seriously, “Trust me. I will never leave you like that again.”
“Your Highness can make promises all you want. A leopard never changes its spots. How can this gentleman believe your promise? Ah, but I am only a peasant. I don’t deserve your consideration. Your Highness should tell your promise to your wife. She’ll be happy.”
Jun Huang spoke in a deadpan tone, but her words were chilling. Nan Xun knew that Jun Huang wasn’t as angry as she sounded. She was only letting loose her pent-up frustration and worries.
“Alright, alright. It’s all my fault. I’m not gonna call you gentleman Feng just because you called me Your Highness.” Nan Xun got off the bed and knelt before Jun Huang. His tone was earnest. “I shouldn’t have left you yesterday. You’re right to be angry. But you shouldn’t talk down yourself like that. In my heart, you… are more important than anyone, including the wife that I’ve never had. I swear on the sun and the moon that I’m being honest with you. Please don’t be mad at me.”
Jun Huang stared at Nan Xun with wide eyes. She didn’t expect Nan Xun to give her such a response. Her heart fluttered.
“I… I wasn’t being serious,” she whispered.
Nan Xun smiled. He bent down to pick her up and put her on the wheelchair by the bed. “It’s a good day. Let’s have breakfast and take a walk in the temple before returning to the city. What do you think?”
He leaned in to talk to Jun Huang. The white jade cap he wore softened his intimidating aura. His handsome face looked even more attractive.
“You decide,” Jun Huang said with a smile. She threw him a glance before looking away.
At dawn the temple was shrouded in a serene tranquility. The only sound they could hear were the temple block and the young monks’ chanting. It had been windy last night. The ground was covered in fallen leaves. Every step they took was followed by a rustle.
Jun Huang closed her eyes as Nan Xun pushed the wheelchair forward. The air smelled of the earth. She felt lighter after resolving their misunderstanding. The faint smile on her face could capture anyone’s attention.
The little monk sweeping the fallen leaves stared dumbly at her. He had never seen anyone so beautiful. In his trance, the broom he was holding fell on the ground. The sound was loud enough to startle the birds perching on the tree.
Jun Huang followed the sound and looked at the monk, her eyes crinkling. The little monk ran away with a blush without a word. His innocent reaction was endearing.
Amused, Jun Huang covered up a smile, her eyes twinkling and her lips curved. The turquoise robe she wore danced in the air.
“Can’t blame him for reacting like that,” Nan Xun said with a smile.
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