Yang Shaolun found his brothers waiting for him outside the door. Yang Hanlun walked up to him and asked, “A word, Imperial Elder Brother?”
Yang Shaolun responded with an impassive look on his face, “Perhaps another day. This Emperor is tired and would like to have a rest!”
“Now, please, Imperial Elder Brother,” Yang Hanlun insisted. “This brother must talk to you!”
The other princes retreated to outside the arched door to give them room. Yang Shaolun huffed out a laugh. They must be worried that he would be unwilling to let go, so they stood there waiting. Turning to Yang Hanlun, he said, “Alright, what do you have in mind?”
Yang Hanlun met his eyes with a determined look on his face. “This brother hopes Imperial Elder Brother will stay away from my princess consort. Imperial Elder Brother has a harem of beautiful women and many more, but this brother only has her and Birou. If Imperial Elder Brother refuses to let go, this brother will have to turn to Imperial Mother for her intervention!”
Yang Shaolun laughed quietly. You only have her and Birou? But I only ever have her!
“Don’t worry, Imperial Brother. This Emperor has nothing to do with her from now on!” His response seemed aloof, but his dim eyes betrayed his sadness.
“Please forgive this brother for my selfishness, Imperial Elder Brother,” Yang Hanlun said regretfully. “This brother cannot live without her!”
Yang Shaolun stayed silent, and he didn’t spare his brother a glance. He couldn’t stay here. He was having trouble breathing. As he turned away and left, he could hear himself pleading on the inside, “But I can’t live without her, either! I simply can’t!”
Still, his expression remained calm. His lips were even curled into a faint smile. The princes watched him walk away. His figure radiated loneliness, and they couldn’t help the melancholy rising in their hearts as they looked at him.
“Have I made a mistake?” Yang Hanlun asked in a lost voice.
The second prince patted him on the shoulder and said gently, “You haven’t done anything wrong, Sixth Brother. It’s Imperial Elder Brother who has made a mistake. This Second Brother knows you are a devoted man whose love will last a lifetime. Imperial Elder Brother is different. What he lacks the least is women. His affection for women is always fickle, and he doesn’t spare any glances for them once his passion dies out. There are many more women waiting for him to turn their way. Imperial Mother is going to select more consorts for him, too. He’ll soon forget everything! Trust me!”
There was still a heavy weight on Yang Hanlun’s chest. He knew Lin Haihai only had eyes for his Imperial Elder Brother. It wouldn’t be easy for her to accept him!
The second prince could read his worry. “You should go. I have things to discuss with Sister-in-law!”
Yang Hanlun’s head snapped up. “What are you going to talk to her about?”
The second prince smiled and said, “Don’t worry. This Second Brother is merely going to talk some sense into her. Fret not, I’m on your side!”
Yang Hanlun gave him a doubtful look. Then the third prince walked up to them and said, “Trust your Second Brother. He’ll take care of this matter!”
Yang Hanlun had lost his way. Seeing his brothers taking his side and supporting him, he felt the sudden urge to rely on them like he had when he was little.
The second prince opened the door and entered the room. Lin Haihai couldn’t help the resentment flashing through her heart. She had heard everything they had said. They were the ones who forced her and Brother Yang apart. But she couldn’t hate them, could she? They were his brothers. They were connected to him by blood. All they had been doing was to preserve the bond between them. They had done nothing wrong! It was the two of them who had made a mistake!
“May this Second Brother have a word with you, Sister-in-law?” asked the second prince.
Lin Haihai laughed wryly. She should be grateful that he would treat an immoral woman like her with such respect! Wiping away her tears, she straightened her back and said in response to the confusion in his eyes, “I’m well!”
She didn’t offer any more explanation. It wasn’t necessary.
“That’s good. Very good.” The second prince grabbed a chair and sat down, looking at Lin Haihai. Although he didn’t approve of her betrayal of her marriage to Yang Hanlun, he couldn’t be mad at her when faced with her innocent face. “If that’s the case, you should leave the palace and live your life with Sixth Brother!”
Lin Haihai laughed. “I have been living my life!”
Haven’t I been living the time of my life? Everything has been perfectly fine, and it would have stayed that way if Consort Zhuang hadn’t come after me, and I hadn’t pretended to drown, believing it to be a smart idea!
“His Majesty isn’t someone you should fall for,” the second prince said, staring straight at her. “You must know that!”
Lin Haihai was done with the conversation, and she had nothing to say in protest.
“Imperial Brother has always loved you. You should be satisfied with that!” the second prince said earnestly. “Imperial Elder Brother has given up on you under pressure. That means he doesn’t love you enough! Why should you fixate on him?”
Lin Haihai smiled bitterly. “He’s given up on me under your pressure; not because he doesn’t love me, but because he cares about his bond with his brothers! If I ask him to take me away, he would without hesitation! However, he cannot stop worrying about you, and he cannot abandon his nation! He thus preserves his relationship with you at the price of his love. I’m heartbroken; he must be as well! No one wins here. You aren’t the only ones with feelings, Your Highness. I have feelings, so does he. Perhaps our feelings for each other run even deeper than yours!”
The second prince looked at her in surprise. She made him feel like a cruel man. He almost ran away under Lin Haihai’s clear gaze. Had he been wrong? He remembered how Imperial Elder Brother had walked away, slowly swallowed by loneliness and sorrow. Was he lonely?
No, all emperors were fickle in matters of the heart. Imperial Elder Brother would never truly fall for any women. He remembered asking Imperial Elder Brother about his thoughts on women when he first took over the throne, and he said women were obstacles to a man’s momentum forward. There would be no love in the imperial harem. His Imperial Brother needed no love from any women, and he would never fall for anyone. There were always matters more important than love in his heart.
The second prince looked at Lin Haihai and said righteously, “You’re wrong. Imperial Elder Brother would never fall for you, and he doesn’t need your love. He does have special feelings for you. That’s undeniable. But that is because he’s always admired those with special skills. It’s only natural for him to admire you given your expertise in medicine. Moreover, he’s grateful to you for saving his life, and he thus treats you differently. And you mistake that as love.”
“However, love isn’t as simple as that. Imperial Elder Brother has always cared about his brothers. He’s always loved and protected us, and we’ve done things beyond your imagination for him. The bond that has existed between us for more than twenty years must not be destroyed at your hand. Sixth Brother is deeply in love with you. Why can’t you see that? Why must you pursue the unattainable illusion of love? Don’t you know how many abandoned women there are in this harem? Would you really want to become one of them?”
Lin Haihai had no words to counter his self-righteous claim. She burst into uncontrolled laughter with tears falling from her eyes. She wiped them away and got to her feet, turning to the second prince with her back straightened. “He does care about his brothers. I was a fool to believe that he loved me. I will give up on this relationship from now on and devote myself to your Sixth Brother!”
The second prince paused, caught off guard by her response. He swallowed all the arguments he had come up with to convince her and stared at her dumbly. He didn’t know what else to say.
Impassively, Lin Haihai said, “I’m tired, and I’d like to rest. You may take your leave, Your Highness!”
Her expression was so familiar that it made his heart sank. His Imperial Elder Brother looked exactly the same when he walked away. Now he recognized the emotions under the particular expression - They had lost all hope! The second prince staggered back, feeling chilled to the bones. He shook his head and said, “Even if you do love each other, you are still Sixth Brother’s princess consort. That’s a fact. If you insist on being together, you’ll be the laughing stock of the general public, and Sixth Brother will be mocked in similar manners. I cannot allow such a tragedy to happen!”
The door busted open, and the empress marched in with an icy expression. She had been standing outside for quite a while, and she had overheard their conversation. She knew the prince was right, but she couldn’t contain her anger.
“Please leave, Your Highness,” she said coldly. “She needs rest!”
The second prince gave her a confused look. Shouldn’t she be the one most mad at Lin Haihai? After all, all women in the harem fought for the affection of the emperor, and the empress was no exception!
“Sister-in-law, she...” The second prince wasn’t sure what to say.
“Enough! Leave your pontification to your wife. Everyone knows how much His Majesty cares about his brothers. There’s no need for you to remind her!” The empress walked up to Lin Haihai with frost in her eyes. Lin Haihai buried her face into the empress’s hair. She wanted to cry, but her heart was empty, and her dry eyes couldn’t muster any tears.
“I’m doing this for their own good...” muttered the second prince.
“They know what’s good for them. Your intervention isn’t needed or wanted. Get out! Now!” The empress raised her voice and put her arms around Lin Haihai’s trembling body. She could feel her sorrow and pain. These self-righteous men had completely ignored what Yang Shaolun and Lin Haihai were sacrificing and fixated on their mistakes. They didn’t want to hurt anyone, did they? Why must the princes resort to such cruelty and sever the only bond they shared? A sympathetic pain rose in her heart, which translated into a deep sigh.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Meddling brothers *sigh*
I kept screaming, "You're divorced!! They're divorced!!!" when translating this part lol