Her dress made her skin fairer and more ethereal. She frowned. Something seemed to be missing, but she didn’t know what.
She sighed and looked over at the hairband on the table. She picked it up and tied her dark hair loosely behind her head. She nodded in approval of her own reflection.
She walked out of the room with a smile when she heard voices coming from outside. Nan Xun and Qi Yun were talking about court affairs with two maids serving at their side.
They were both shocked when they saw Jun Huang. Qi Yun felt as if he had gone back in time. He felt the urge to hold her close.
It wasn’t the first time Jun Huang had dressed as a woman when he was present, but that time in the brothel, Nan Xun had shielded her from Qi Yun’s sight. He therefore hadn’t gotten a good look at her.
The woman before him hadn’t changed much from the mischievous princess from his memory. His eyes turned red as he pulled her into his arms, choking up.
The servants gaped at them, at a loss of what was happening. Where did this beautiful woman come from? Why had she come out of Gentleman Feng’s bedroom?
The dress lessened Jun Huang’s sharp coldness. She still seemed untouchable, but there was an added alluring quality to her. She looked so different from the handsome Gentleman Feng that the servants never put two and two together.
Nan Xun’s eyebrows jumped up when he saw Jun Huang, stunned.
Qi Yun had held onto her longer than Nan Xun was comfortable with. Jealousy prompted him to give the maids a pointed look, silently ordering them to leave. Afterwards, words got out that a beautiful woman had been living inside the manor, but the servants only talked among themselves. No one dared let the news leave the manor.
Once the maids had left, Nan Xun went up to Jun Huang and pulled her behind him. “Your Highness should try to reel yourself in. People will talk if they see you.”
Qi Yun knew that he’d lost control, so he didn’t attempt to defend himself. His eyes, however, stayed glued to Jun Huang, which bothered Nan Xun. Jun Huang spoke up before Nan Xun could.
“Why are we still standing around here? Let’s take a seat and talk.”
The two men weren’t going to argue with her. She went into the garden and sat down. Worried that she’d catch a cold, Nan Xun retrieved a cloak and put it around her shoulders.
Qi Yun felt a pang of jealousy when he saw the two of them acting like they’d known each other forever, but he didn’t dwell on the feeling. Instead, he asked why Jun Huang was staying in Nan Xun’s manor.
Jun Huang peered at Nan Xun and smiled slightly. “I’m Feng Baiyu.”
Qi Yun widened his eyes in disbelief. He stared at her for a long time, trying to identify the similarities. Jun Huang, however, didn’t seem like a gentleman at all in this state. No one would have seen the connection between her and Feng Baiyu.
“You’ve been here all this time!” exclaimed Qi Yun, taking her hands in his. “Why haven’t you told me? Don’t you know I’ve been looking for you?”
Jun Huang pulled back her hands and smiled. “You know the situation I’m in. The more people who know my identity, the more danger I’m in. I didn’t mean to keep it from you. It’s just better this way.”
Qi Yun lowered his head and muttered, “But I’m not just anyone.”
His voice was too low for Jun Huang to hear him. She frowned and asked what he’d said, but Qi Yun only smiled wryly in response. Jun Huang went on to explain what had happened to her.
Qi Yun had been worried about Jun Huang. It pained him to hear about the difficulties Jun Huang had been through. He sighed and promised to help with her revenge.
The conversation was a pleasant one, but there were things Qi Yun wanted to say he didn’t want Nan Xun to hear. After some discreet prompting from his side, Nan Xun left them alone.
“Jun Huang, I don’t know if I should say this, but… I don’t think you should live with Brother Nan anymore.”
Qi Yun swallowed down the impulsive words he almost blurted out and said after careful consideration, “There are too many rumors about you two lately, which will become a problem since you’re going to assume your identity as a woman again. If you stay, you may become a target. It’s better that you come to the palace with me. It’s going to be safer.”
Jun Huang considered his words for a moment. He had a point, and she did want to help Qi Yun become the emperor. His proposal made sense.
“I’ll talk to Nan Xun later,” said Jun Huang.
Qi Yun nodded. He risked exposing his true intention if he kept pushing. He wouldn’t let her know that he simply wanted to spend time with her. He didn’t want to leave her with Nan Xun.
After a while, Nan Xun came back with a platter of snacks. Qi Yun knew they were Jun Huang’s favorite. He felt a heavy weight settled on his chest, but he didn’t dare let it show. He kept it to himself.
“I’ve talked to Qi Yun. Troubles may come if I stay in the manor now. It’s better that I stay in the palace for the time being. That should also deter Prince Duan and Qi Chen.”
Nan Xun looked at her in surprise, but he didn’t say anything. After some contemplation, he concluded that it was safer for her to stay in the palace. He’d been busy lately. There was no guarantee that she’d be safe here. He might as well let her go.
“Go if you want to,” Nan Xun said. “But there are rules to follow in the palace. You’ll have to be careful about that.”
Jun Huang beamed at him and nodded. “I know. I won’t make any troubles for you.”
Her smile was bright and her eyes curved like waxing moon. Nan Xun touched her nose with fond exasperation and sighed. He’d grown used to her teasing.
Qi Yun cleared his throat and looked up at the sun. After a bemused pause, he stood up and said, “It’s getting late. I should take her to the palace now. It’s going to be difficult to arrange a residence for her if we get there to late.”
“Alright.” Nan Xun rose and followed them outside. They ran into many servants along the way, who snuck glances at Jun Huang curiously. She noticed, of course, but she smiled and didn’t pay too much attention to that.
Jun Huang felt a little reluctant to leave when she reached the door. She started to miss Nan Xun already before she even walked out of the manor. They’d stayed together day and night for some time. She’d become so used to having him at her side.
Nan Xun understood and shared her feelings, but the circumstances didn’t allow them to be emotional. They had to make the smart decision.
While Qi Yun was off arranging for a coach, Nan Xun pulled Jun Huang behind the wall and whispered, “Don’t worry. I will visit you in the palace when I’m able. The palace is often likened to a dangerous ocean, but it’s heavily guarded. I’ll feel better knowing that you’re safe. I promise that I won’t get close to any women.”
Jun Huang blinked at him and chuckled. She didn’t expect Nan Xun to make such a serious promise to her. She felt warmth spreading through her body.
“I know.” She lowered her eyes and her lips curved into a smile. Nan Xun didn’t want anyone to see her like this, but they didn’t have a choice. He sighed.
They fell silent when Qi Yun showed up. Nan Xun pulled Qi Yun to the side and told him what food Jun Huang had to avoid and about her preferences. Jun Huang paced around, waiting for them to finish.
At the corner of her eye, she spotted someone who looked very much like Qi Chen at the street corner. She frowned.
The man didn’t expect to be noticed by her. He blushed and fled, befuddling Jun Huang.
“What are you looking at?” Qi Yun asked suddenly. Jun Huang turned around and shook her head. She wasn’t sure if that had been Qi Chen, and his reaction was puzzling.
Qi Yun accepted her response as it was, while Nan Xun took note of her reaction. He wasn’t going to force her to tell him, however. He’d look into it on his own. He knew sometimes she stayed quiet for her own reasons. He’d go ahead and investigate out of worry. They worked better when neither of them tried to intervene with the other’s decisions.
“Let’s go,” Qi Yun said, looking at Jun Huang questioningly. She nodded and followed him to the coach. She let him help her get in, her attitude polite but aloof.
Nan Xun saw her off before returning to his manor. His second in command came not long after, informing him that there was business requiring Nan Xun’s attention at the training ground. Before he left, Nan Xun made sure to order the servants to keep a close eye on the woman. She wasn’t allowed to leave the front building at all.
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So... yeah. Can't really explain this plot hole away. Selective amnesia it is.
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