“Don’t you see the similarity between the boy and Gentleman Feng?” the maid who had been taking care of Jun Huang said.
Another maid considered Jun Hao and marveled, “I didn’t notice before you pointed it out, but you’re right.”
Jun Hao looked at them owlishly and asked, “Who is Gentleman Feng?”
One of the maids covered a laugh. “He’s the prince’s favorite.”
Jun Hao stilled. Did Nan Xun have an old lover he couldn’t forget? He widened his eyes at the maids and covered his anger, putting on an innocent look. “Is Gentleman Feng a good looking man? I’d like to see him.”
“Apologies, young master. Gentleman Feng disappeared awhile ago. We don’t know why, but after that the prince hadn’t given anyone his attention… until the young lady came. She does look somewhat like Gentleman Feng.”
The maid sighed, remembering the young, graceful man.
Jun Hao boiled with rage. Nan Xun must have considered Jun Haung a substitute! In a fit of anger, he shot to his feet and excused himself, rushing to the study to argue with Nan Xun.
Nan Xun was reading a book. He looked up at Jun Hao in surprise. “Why are you here?”
“Who is Gentleman Feng? What’s your relationship with him? The servants said that he looked like my sister. Is my sister his substitute?” Jun Hao bombarded Nan Xun with a barrage of questions, staring at Nan Xun with cold, piercing eyes, very much unlike his usual amicable self.
Nan Xun chuckled, realizing what had happened. He walked up to Jun Hao, who glared at him fearlessly.
“You came without knowing the full story, but I don’t blame you. I’m glad you’re worried about Jun Haung.” He patted Jun Hao on the shoulder.
With a frown, Jun Hao took a step back. “What do you mean? What do you take my sister for?”
“She’s the woman I love, of course,” Nan Xun said with an amused smile. “Do you know who Feng Baiyu is?”
Jun Hao widened his eyes. “Feng… Feng Baiyu is my sister’s alias. That’s the Gentleman Feng they were talking about? Then why would they belittle my sister?”
Nan Xun sighed and explained gently, “There’s a reason her identity isn’t explained. It’s Jun Huang’s decision, and she doesn’t want you to know. Besides, they aren’t going to hurt Jun Huang in any way. It’s better for us to let go.”
Jun Hao scowled. He knew Nan Xun was right, but Nan Xun’s lack of concerns bothered him. He scoffed and walked away.
Nan Xun sighed in resignation, watching Jun Hao go.
Jun Hao sought out the maids and asked them to tell him about Feng Baiyu. They assumed the boy was merely interested in the strategist’s stories. They told him what they knew.
Jun Hao was fascinated. If only he could see Jun Huang as Feng Baiyu himself! The idea took root in his heart and grew. He paced around, unable to quiet his mind. He wanted to seek Jun Huang out immediately, but he managed to stop himself. Jun Huang needed her rest.
He spent his time with the servants the next few days, asking them for more stories about Feng Baiyu. He even applauded when the story was particularly gripping.
Jun Huang happened to see Jun Hao and a group of servants in the back garden today. Oleg Cragfiend had told her to get some fresh air every now and then. She frowned, but didn’t approach them. Jun Hao, on the other hand, spotted her from afar.
As soon as Jun Huang returned to her room, Jun Hao snuck in. With one hand on the door, he looked around to make sure Nan Xun wasn’t around before closing the door with a sigh of relief. “What are you doing, sister? Are you feeling better?”
“I am.” Jun Haung waved him over and wiped his forehead with a handkerchief. She pushed the plate of snacks toward him, motioning for him to have some.
“Sister, can you go out with me later?” Jun Hao asked hopefully, looking up at her with big eyes.
Jun Huang paused and met his pleading gaze. Jun Hao must have gotten bored. She chuckled. “Of course. We’ll have Yin Yun follow us.”
Jun Hao cheered. After some hesitation, he said, “I hear that sister has been disguised as a handsome man before. You’re too pretty, sister. Why don’t you dress as a man again? That may save us some trouble.”
Jun Huang raised an eyebrow. He had some point. She agreed and had someone fetch her something Feng Baiyu would wear. Once she put the robe on, Jun Hao gasped and circled around her excitedly.
She wore a sky blue robe and held a plain paper fan in her hand. Part of her hair was tied to the back. Her smile was captivating. Even Yin Yun, who had arrived later, was stunned by Jun Huang’s looks.
“I know why people like you better like this,” said Jun Hao.
“Oh?” Jun Huang turned to him questioningly.
“Feng Baiyu is handsome and graceful, but also brave and intelligent. There are more women than men in the manor. It’s only natural that some of them would fall for Feng Baiyu. Unfortunately, the gentleman is into man and was close to Brother Nan Xun. No one dared covet him. Sister, on the other hand, is stunning beyond words. Due to your health, there’s a sickly beauty to you. The women can’t compare with you, which fills them with jealousy.”
Jun Hao theorized with great confidence. He even nodded to himself, validating his own analysis.
Jun Huang covered a laugh and shook her head fondly. She had Yin Yun tell Nan Xun that they were going out. Yin Yun returned with a few shadowguards. Nan Xun had assigned his men to protect them out of concern.
They were going to stand out if they took everyone with them, but Jun Huang wasn’t going to turn Nan Xun’s offer down. She told the shadowguards to follow them discreetly, leaving Yin Yun their only personal bodyguard.
“Has Nan Xun told you something else?” asked Jun Huang. She knew Nan Xun wouldn’t have let her go out without him if he wasn’t otherwise occupied.
Yin Yun nodded. “The prince is going to the palace to talk to Prince Qi Yun about Eastern Wu. He asked you to not stay out for too long.”
Jun Huang nodded and took Jun Hao outside. As soon as she was out of the manor, she attracted many women’s attention. Some even blushed when they saw her.
The scrutiny was too much for her. It’d been a while since she was put under the spotlight. She worried that Jun Hao would be even more perturbed, but when she turned to him, he looked pleased, his chest puffing out proudly.
“What’s with you?” asked Jun Huang.
Jun Hao smiled at her. “I’m proud of you, big brother. I didn’t know you’re so popular in the imperial city.”
Jun Huang sighed in resignation at his inappropriate remark and unfolded her fan. Her aloof eyes made the onlooking women’s heart skip.
That sourface Nan Xun is going to be so jealous because of all the attention sister’s getting, thought Jun Hao. Delighted, he took Jun Huang to the most bustling area of the city.
The main street was crowded. Jun Huang frowned deeply. Yin Yun had been following them closely behind, but it got too crowded. When he finally squeezed past the wall of people, Jun Hao had already pulled Jun Huang to the side of the road.
“I want to try this, brother.” Jun Hao pointed at an old man selling candied hawthorns.
Before Jun Huang could say anything, Yin Yun rushed to the old man. “How much is it?”
“Two wen for a stick,” the old man said with a smile, his eyes crinkling.
Jun Hao held onto Yin Yun’s arm. “I want two.”
Yin Yun handed the old man four wen. Seeing the handsome little boy, the old man picked two sticks with the fullest candied hawthorns for Jun Hao. He happily took them and handed one to Jun Huang. “Try it with me, brother.”
Jun Huang chuckled. Without hesitation, she took the stick and bit into a hawthorn. The sweetness burst in her mouth, reminding her of her time in Western Que.
Jun Hao was too full to have any more after eating two hawthorns. He handed the remaining one to Yin Yun and ran to the other side. Jun Huang finished hers quickly and caught up with him. Yin Yun stayed close to them, worried that something might happen in the crowd.
Before Western Que’s destruction, Jun Hao wasn’t allowed to leave the palace freely. After the tragedy that befell them, the boy was forced to live the life of a fugitive with Yin Yun. He didn’t have the time to settle down and see the world. Now that he was allowed some peace, everything caught his fancy.
“Haven’t you been treating him well enough?” Jun Huang teased, glancing at Yin Yun.
Yin Yun cleared his throat awkwardly. Chuckling, Jun Huang turned back to Jun Hao. The boy looked at something displayed on a stand with curiosity in his eyes. Jun Huang realized that the vendor was selling sugar figures.
“If you like it, we’ll buy it,” said Jun Huang.
Jun Hao ran up to the stand and asked the vendor to make a figure for him. Jun Huang sighed softly, glancing at Yin Yun. He was carrying quite a few things Jun Hao had bought. She sighed again.