When Jun Hao finished introducing the toys he hid in the wooden box to Jun Huang, she turned to Nan Xun and belatedly realized that she’d forgotten about him. She smiled awkwardly and cleared her throat as she stood up. “Sorry, I was so focused I didn’t pay you any attention.”
Nan Xun darted his eyes around. It’d be unbecoming of him to make his frustration known, but he didn’t want to let it slide. “It’s alright, but I’m going to get jealous if you keep going.” He tried to find a less direct way to express his feelings. “Although Jun Hao is your brother, he is also a man. I can’t possibly feel nothing when you put all your attention on him and none on me.”
He made it sound as if he was in the right. Jun Huang blinked in surprise. She covered her mouth and laughed, her eyes and brows curved into a beautiful smile. Nan Xun stopped ranting. He pulled Jun Huang to his side and pointed at Jun Hao, who was playing with toys on the floor.
“You’re her brother, but don’t forget that she’s my wife. I’m your brother-in-law.”
Jun Hao put down the toy in his hand, his gaze shifting between Jun Huang and Nan Xun, his brows furrowed. He rose to his feet and spoke like a child trying to sound mature. “No, you aren’t. You haven’t gotten married yet.”
“Your sister and I are married,” Nan Xun retorted with a glare. “You just didn’t know.”
“That’s not true! How can I not know about it if you’ve gotten married? Your marriage doesn’t count without me as the witness. You aren’t my brother-in-law yet. You shouldn’t touch my sister. Don’t you know that men and women have to keep a polite distance from each other?”
Jun Hao shot to his feet and stepped between Jun Huang and Nan Xun, pushing Nan Xun away and stretching his arms out to guard Jun Huang.
Nan Xun rolled his eyes. Thinking of Oleg Cragfiend’s reminder and the reason they had come today, he put aside his anger and took a deep breath, looking at Jun Huang.
Jun Huang smiled, her eyes gentle. Nan Xun swallowed down what he was about to say. None of that mattered when she looked at him like that.
“What are you doing, arguing with a child?” Jun Huang said teasingly. “Fancy yourself a little boy?”
Nan Xun awkwardly cleared his throat. Jun Hao stuck his tongue out at him and pulled Jun Huang back to the bed, supporting his chin with a hand. “Yin Yun said that sister has forgotten many things and I should tell you about our childhood. I’ll share a few stories with you.”
He glanced at Nan Xun and raised an eyebrow.
Nan Xun turned a blind eye to the boy’s taunt. He did want Jun Hao to help Jun Huang relive the happy memories from their past. He wasn’t going to interrupt them - no matter how much he wanted to kick Jun Hao out.
“Do you remember, sister, that I hated reading when I was little. Royal Father forced me to take classes from a teacher...”
“You didn’t want to go to school, so you tried to make yourself ill,” Jun Huang continued without thinking. “You went to the lotus pond and splashed water at yourself so that you would catch a cold, but you accidentally fell into the pond. Your teacher happened to see that… the pond was dried. You weren’t hurt. However, you ended up covered in mud.”
Nan Xun and Jun Hao exchanged a look. The boy’s expression told Nan Xun that Jun Huagn’s story was accurate.
Jun Huang hadn’t noticed their reaction. She continued, “I remember that one time you followed your caretaker out of the palace. You got separated. You were scared but you didn’t know the way back. Finally, you recognized one of the dogs kept in the palace. You followed the dog through a hole and found your way back. Royal Father scolded you after finding out.”
When she stopped talking, she realized that both Nan Xun and Jun Hao were staring at her. She didn’t immediately realized what was wrong.
“That was because sister snuck out without me. I was looking for you...” Jun Hao’s eyes turned red. He mentioned a few more silly stories from his childhood, and Jun Huang was able to continue every one of them. Jun Hao couldn’t contain his emotions. He threw himself into her arms and bawled.
Realization dawned on Jun Huang. She’d remembered her past without realizing it. She was jerked out of her shock by Jun Hao’s wailing. She gave Nan Xun a look, silently asking for his help.
Nan Xun bit back a smile and patted Jun Hao on the back. He lowered his voice to avoid scaring the boy. “Alright, you’re a big boy now. Stop crying. Otherwise how are you going to protect your sister?”
Jun Hao cried even harder. “I know it’s my fault that I didn’t protect sister well. That’s why sister… sister ended up hurt. Wah...”
Jun Huang shot Nan Xun a glare. Nan Xun touched his nose awkwardly.
“Shh, it’s not your fault. You’re still young.” Jun Huang gently smoothed her hand over Jun Hao’s back. “You have to first grow up and come to your own before you can protect me, right? Besides, I’m doing alright.”
She continued to comfort him, but Jun Hao showed no sign of calming down. Nan Xun wasn’t a patient man. Frustrated, he reached out to grab Jun Hao, but Jun Hao refused to let go. He clung to Jun Huang and kept sobbing.
Things got a little out of control after that. Yin Yun had heard the commotion upon his return and thought that something had gone wrong. He burst through the door and saw Jun Hao burying his face into Jun Huang’s clothes while she comforted him. At the same time, Nan Xun was holding onto Jun Hao’s legs, trying to pull him away.
Yin Yun didn’t recovered from his shock until Jun Hao started wailing louder. He ran up to them.
“Stop it. He may get hurt.” Yin Yun frowned at the way Nan Xun roughly pulled at the boy’s legs. He knew Nan Xun wouldn’t use too much force, but he still worried.
Nan Xun glanced at him and let go. “You better get him to let go,” he said, pointing at the boy. “His voice will get hoarse from crying. More importantly, it’s tiring for Jun Huang to keep holding him. She’s only just recovered. I don’t want her to fall ill again.”
Yin Yun’s mouth twitched. He knew how possessive Nan Xun was. He hurriedly put his arms around Jun Hao and patted his head. “Did you hear him, Your Highness? The princess hasn’t completely recovered. She can’t hold you for too long. You don’t want her to be ill, do you?”
Jun Hao stopped bawling. He looked up at Jun Huang and noted the tired lines on her face. He pulled away timidly and tried his best to blink away his tears. It was a pitiful look.
“Don’t worry. I’m alright,” Jun Huang patiently said.
Jun Hao nodded. “I won’t cry anymore. I have to protect sister.”
He wiped his tears away and managed a smile.
Jun Huang ruffled his hair, touched. Before she could say anything, Nan Xun coughed.
Yin Yun got his unspoken message and hurriedly said, “It’s getting late, princess. You should return to the manor. It’ll be troublesome if someone realizes you’ve left.”
Jun Huang nodded in agreement. She exchanged a few words with Jun Hao before leaving with Nan Xun. They made their way back to the manor side by side. Nan Xun turned to her and noted how relaxed she looked under the moonlight. She was stunningly beautiful.
I’ll forgive her brother for fighting for her attention, he thought to himself.
The maid sighed in relief when they returned and slapped her chest. “You’re finally back, my lady. I thought you’d never return.”
Jun Huang glanced at Nan Xun before looking away from his intense gaze. She didn’t let her bashfulness show. “Did something happen?”
“Nothing serious,” said the maid. “But the mistress asked you to join them for dinner. I told her you were feeling unwell. She said to let you rest. She’d get a doctor tomorrow. I was worried that you’d be found out if you haven’t returned when the doctor comes.”
“I’m here now,” Jun Huang quietly said. “Don’t worry. You may leave to attend to your business.”
The maid nodded and walked away.
After eating something for dinner, Jun Huang went to bed. Nan Xun stayed at her side the whole night. On one hand, he was worried that she would get another nightmare. On the other hand, he simply wanted to stay with her.
At midnight, Jun Huang was still sound asleep. Nan Xun sat on the bed watching her and finally fell asleep as well.
Nan Xun woke up at the crack of dawn. He was glad that Jun Huang hadn’t had any nightmares. He opened the window to air out the room and had the maid prepare some breakfast.
When Jun Huang woke up, the doctor had arrived. Jun Huang didn’t pretend to be weak. She watched the doctor with cold eyes as he worked. The doctor said to the mistress, “Don’t worry. She’s recovered. She’s only feeling weak because of her long years of being ill. She’ll feel better after getting some sunlight.”
The mistress was relieved. She patted jun Huang on the back of her hand and said solemnly, “You’ve been prone to illness. The weather is nice today. Take a walk with the servants later and don’t stay in your room all day.”
“Don’t worry, mother,” Jun Huang said quietly. “I know what I’m doing.”
The mistress didn’t leave until after giving Jun Huang a few more reminders. Jun Huang’s smile dropped. Nan Xun knew why her mood had taken a downturn.
The mistress was too attentive to Jun Huang; it was tiring. Jun Huang hated lies and false emotions. Naturally it’d be draining for her to face the mistress every day.