Empress Chen stood up first, helping Lin Haihai up at the same time. They approached Yang Shaolun and stopped before him, greeting him before taking a seat beside the empress dowager.
“Yuguan, why are you wearing men’s clothes? Empress Chen, you aren’t in your phoenix robe, either,” the empress dowager asked, very much perplexed.
Only upon hearing the name from the empress dowager’s lips did everyone realize that the person in men's clothes was actually a lady. Wait, Yuguan? Isn’t that the sixth prince’s princess consort? As expected, women from non-official backgrounds know nothing about etiquette. How dare she not wear the customary princess consort’s robes for such a huge royal event? Does the sixth prince not care? For a moment, everyone’s eyes scanned the hall for Yang Hanlun, only to realize that he wasn’t even present.
“Imperial Mother, you’ll understand in a bit,” Lin Haihai said with a chuckle.
“Alright, this Empress Dowager shall see what tricks you have up your sleeves. Why isn’t Hanlun, that boy, here yet?” the empress dowager asked as she looked around.
“Your Highness, stop looking for him. He went to pick up Chen Family’s young miss.” Lin Haihai recalled what Yang Hanlun had requested. She wanted to ask the empress dowager to let him marry Chen Family’s young miss, and this moment was her chance.
“Yuguan, don’t be angry at him. He and Chen Family’s young miss are childhood sweethearts, and they have long been in love with each other. You should just let them be together.” The empress dowager ended up being the go-between.
“Let’s not discuss this matter for now. Let’s talk about it later.” Yang Shaolun interceded in the conversation, worried that he would see Lin Haihai’s pained expression.
Lin Haihai glanced at Yang Shaolun; the glimpse of worry flickering across his face was evident. Lin Haihai’s heart warmed unknowingly. She smiled at him before turning around. “Imperial Mother, I’m not against it. Just have someone choose an auspicious day for her to marry into the family.”
“Alright, alright. That’s great! This Empress Dowager will delegate someone to choose an auspicious day tomorrow and take this worry off Hanlun’s mind. I’ll be at peace then,” the empress dowager said happily.
Everyone successively offered their congratulatories to the empress dowager. Under the whim of happiness, she offered a toast to every guest present. Yang Shaolun watched Lin Haihai, only to see her head bowed and her hands crossed over her thighs. He couldn’t see through her expression. Does she really not care? Or is she feeling pained, as though her heart is dripping blood? Yang Shaolun felt annoyed for some reason, his cold face darkening in a swift instant.
The observant Empress Chen naturally felt the unusual atmosphere between Yang Shaolun and Lin Haihai. She sighed softly. Love could really leave a person covered in cuts and bruises. Despite knowing that they would be hurt, there were still many who were willing to be tortured by love. A layer of mist covered Empress Chen’s eyes. Is that warm and gentle man still alive? She would probably never get to see him again in this lifetime.
Lin Haihai could feel Empress Chen’s body trembling. On such a joyous and lively occasion, those far away from home would always miss their hometown dearly. Stupid Bear has gone back for a few days, and he still isn’t back yet. Did something happen at home? Will Grandfather, Dad and Mom be able to accept that I’m living in the ancient world? Lin Haihai had a home, but she could never return to it. The bitterness, sorrow, anxiety, and helplessness she felt were close to tearing her apart. Scanning the hall brimming with joy and laughter, she felt she didn’t belong here.
The eunuch outside the hall reported in a joyous tone, “Sixth Prince has arrived! Chen Family’s young miss has arrived!” The couple slowly walked in, accompanied by the sounds of drawn pearl-decorated curtains and the swaying of clothes. Lin Haihai was still wallowing in sorrow due to homesickness, but subconsciously looked up upon hearing the eunuch’s announcement.
Before she could conceal the sadness in her eyes, the pair had already stood before her. They first greeted the empress dowager, emperor, empress, and the other imperial concubines. Then, the graceful woman walked elegantly up to Lin Haihai and curtsied. Her voice was as pleasing and touching as those of black-naped orioles as they left their homes. “Birou greets Your Highness,” she said in greeting.
Lin Haihai lifted her head to see a devastatingly beautiful countenance. Her brows were arched like crescent moons, and her gaze was gentle like water. Her face was like a hibiscus in full bloom, and her red lips were tender and beautiful. Lin Haihai didn’t conceal her awed expression. However, Yang Shaolun had noticed her desolate expression from before. To him, her current smile was just a pretense!
“Spare the formalities, spare the formalities.” Lin Haihai retracted her sorrowful emotions. After all, beautiful women put people in a good mood. Hanlun, that boy, has great foresight. Lin Haihai unconsciously addressed Yang Hanlun as Hanlun in her mind.
Chen Birou secretly sized this princess consort up, too. Despite the fact that she wore men’s clothes, her beauty and charm were undiminished. She had bright eyes and white teeth; her smile was clear and bright. There was a faint glimpse of confidence between her brows. Chen Birou’s heart couldn’t help but feel heavy. Was the sixth prince really not moved by such a woman?
She looked at Yang Hanlun only to see him quietly staring at Lin Haihai, his gaze brimming with deep affection - the kind of gaze that she was well acquainted with. She looked at him with incredible disbelief. In the past, he had looked at her with this gaze of his, pledged his undying love to her, and claimed that his love was boundless and eternal. Yet, at this very moment, he was looking at another woman with the same gaze!
Everyone could tell that trouble was about to stir amongst the three, but Lin Haihai was the only one smiling without giving the situation much thought.
Empress Chen shook her head, feeling helpless about Lin Haihai’s lack of awareness of the situation. Chen Birou was clearly looking at her as if she were about to swallow her whole, yet she kept on smiling foolishly at Chen Birou. Meanwhile, Yang Shaolun’s expression was gloomy and dark. One couldn’t tell what was on his mind. However, his gaze had stayed on Lin Haihai, albeit intentionally or otherwise, trying hard to grasp every hint of her expression.
The evening banquet was held in the Imperial Gardens. The emperor and empress led the imperial concubines and guests over there first, while the empress dowager specially had Yang Hanlun, Lin Haihai, and Chen Birou stay behind.
Before leaving, Yang Shaolun stole a glance at Lin Haihai. Only Empress Chen saw the unspoken truths behind his gaze - worry, love, helplessness, passion, and strings of affectionate words that couldn’t be spoken. Under a state of confusion, Lin Haihai subconsciously searched for Yang Shaolun’s figure. He hooked his arm around Imperial Consort Li’s waist and exited the hall under the accompaniment of everyone. Lin Haihai turned back, the desolate feeling in her eyes as clear as day.
“Child, have a seat.” The empress dowager tugged on Lin Haihai’s hands, indicating for everyone to sit.
Chen Birou sat down by Yang Hanlun’s side, the latter remaining silent the entire time. He just quietly stared at Lin Haihai, his expression gradually darkening.
“This Empress Dowager knows you must be feeling aggrieved. However, I already made the promise prior to conferring you the title of princess consort. Don’t blame Hanlun. He and Birou are childhood sweethearts, and they love one another.” Afraid that Lin Haihai might be unhappy, the empress dowager hurriedly tried to persuade her.
Lin Haihai faintly smiled and said, “It’s all right, Imperial Mother, I’m not against it. On the contrary, I’m happy that Hanlun is able to marry such a beautiful wife.”
The empress dowager was bursting with joy on the inside when she heard Lin Haihai addressing her as ‘mother’. She didn’t know that in Lin Haihai’s heart, Yang Hanlun was actually like a younger brother to her. Sometimes he was domineering, and at other times fierce. Sometimes he was obedient, and at other times playful. Why wouldn’t she feel extremely comforted now that her younger brother was about to get married?
“That’s good. Birou, after you marry into the family, you have to properly wait on the prince and princess consort, do you understand?” the empress dowager turned around and said to Chen Birou.
Chen Birou hurriedly stood up and replied respectfully, “This official’s daughter will keep Your Highness Empress Dowager’s words in mind. Birou will properly wait on Sister Princess Consort and the Sixth Prince!”
“Hanlun ah. Treasure your wives in the future. Quickly bear me a few grandsons!” The empress dowager couldn’t contain her happiness.
Lin Haihai added, “Right, you guys have to work hard!” Hearing Lin Haihai’s words, Yang Hanlun wore a complicated expression on his visage as he stared at her, still remaining silent throughout.
“Okay, accompany me over now. This Empress Dowager has been feeling a bit dizzy for the past few days. I’ll summon an imperial physician to take a look at it tomorrow,” the empress dowager lamented as she cupped her forehead with one hand.
“Your Highness Empress Dowager, you need to take care of your body. Dizziness is probably caused by anemia, and you should take tonics to nourish your body.” Chen Birou hurriedly showed off the knowledge she had read from books in order to gain the old woman’s appreciation.
Lin Haihai wanted to say that it wasn’t best to take tonics considering the empress dowager’s age, but Xiao Yuan ran over, panting. “Your Highness, His Majesty has specially sent this servant over to petition the birthday star. He said that the banquet can’t start without you!”
The empress dowager chuckled, replying, “I’m coming now, right now. Order them to start the evening banquet.”
“Yes, Your Highness!” Xiao Yuan bowed before running off again.
“Birou, help Imperial Mother over first. I have some matters to discuss with Consort Lin.” After tossing out these words, Yang Hanlun pulled Lin Haihai along with him and exited the hall.
The empress dowager and Chen Birou were both stunned, looking at the two with confusion. Anxiety filled Chen Birou’s gaze. The empress dowager softly smiled and said, “It’s fine. Let the couple have a talk. We can head over first.”
Chen Birou responded with a soft affirmation before helping the empress dowager as they headed towards the Imperial Gardens slowly. She looked back from time to time, but she couldn’t even see a trace of Yang Hanlun’s shadow.
Yang Hanlun pulled Lin Haihai all the way toward a place where the lighting was dim. He seemed to be exuding intense anger, his entire being enveloped in a gloomy, dark, and imposing air.
“What’s the matter?” Lin Haihai asked, perplexed. She had never seen him like this. Did something happen?
Yang Hanlun suddenly stopped. Lin Haihai didn’t pay attention and suddenly bumped into his chest. Yang Hanlun extended his arms and wrapped them around Lin Haihai, making her fall into his embrace firmly. Before Lin Haihai could say anything, his passionate lips covered hers. She was stunned, the blood rushing to her head and her mind going blank. He slowly sucked on her lips, his tongue trying to break through her defense. Lin Haihai snapped out of her trance in that instant and pushed him away.
“What, what are you doing?” Lin Haihai flipped out without a care for her image.
“You really have no feelings for me!” Yang Hanlun’s voice was filled with misery and sorrow. “Do you not feel anything for me even after so long?”
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Omg...*face palm* Now the sixth prince wants her? But our female lead's heart is already with the emperor