Gu Beiyue had suddenly shown up on the 30th day of the last month of the year!
“Gu Beiyue!” Han Yunxi was both surprised and pleased. She was about to head for dinner with Long Feiye when she saw his figure standing in the distance. Gu Beiyue immediately arrived before them and did his usual greeting with cupped hands.
“Princess, Your Highness.”
Han Yunxi quickly ignored that and looked behind him doubtfully. “Where’s Gu Qishao? He didn’t come with you?”
Han Yunxi had once thought of having Long Feiye call everyone here together for a New Year’s celebration. Last year, they had spend the 30th at Three-Way Black Market in a much more lively way, although not everyone was present. But in consideration of Gu Beiyue and Gu Qishao’s busy work schedules, she didn’t bring it up. She knew Gu Qishao would be the first to run over as soon as she proposed the idea.
“Where’s Gu Qishao? Is he hiding somewhere?” Han Yunxi asked thoughtlessly. She assumed the man would definitely come with Gu Beiyue and was in a great mood. “Didn’t the letter a few days ago say he was going to the deserts of Western Zhou? You guys were lying to me, weren’t you? Did he go off to buy some more snacks? Zhao mama’s already made a table full of food!”
Han Yunxi was currently standing right next to Long Feiye. If she had been directly opposit him, she would have seen his creased brows and ghastly pale complexion!
“Princess, Qishao really did head west. This subordinate just came back from a trip to the Medicine Hut and thought I’d drop by along the way. At the same time, I came to ask for a meal,” Gu Beiyue smiled.
“So it’s like that…” Han Yunxi was a little disappointed, but she quickly grinned again. Even without Gu Qishao, it was worth celebrating Gu Beiyue’s visit. “Let’s go. As it turns out, His Highness is missing a drinking companion tonight.”
Long Feiye disliked wine, but he always drank a few cups on New Year’s Eve. With Han Yunxi’s belly so swollen, she had long switched from alcohol to tea and couldn’t keep him company. The trio entered Rear Camp and Gu Beiyue shot Long Feiye a helpless look while Han Yunxi wasn’t looking. Although Long Feiye didn’t grasp all the details, his heart sank back in his chest.
At the very least, he knew that Gu Qishao was still alive!
“Is Qishao going to find the final ingredient in the west?” Han Yunxi asked as they walked. She understood his condition from all the letters, but wanted to ask Gu Beiyue in detail.
“Yes. Our recent experiments with the Blood Rattan have all been very successful. If he can find that last ingredient, there shouldn’t be any more problems!” Gu Beiyue replied.
Han Yunxi halted, then asked, “Are you sure he can find it?”
Gu Beiyue looked seriously into Han Yunxi’s eyes and said, “Since it’s Qishao on the hunt, princess needn’t worry. Last night this subordinate received news that he already found preserved specimens. He wants to stay a few more days and check if there are fresh ones around. The medicine will be more potent with fresher ingredients.”
Han Yunxi would never expect Gu Beiyue to lie to her face, or for so long. Moreover, his warm and steady gaze helped her banish any doubts. Besides Long Feiye, she trusted Gu Beiyue the most and was at ease with leaving matters to his hands!
She continued to walk while calculating to herself. “By the time he returns from the west, it should be the end of the first lunar month, right?”
“If he’s fast, he’ll make it to Medical City by then. But it’ll be harder to tell if he’s slow,” Gu Beiyue responded.
“Then I suppose I won’t be able to see him when I start my confinement period?” Han Yunxi sighed as she rubbed her stomach.
“Princess can simply leave Qishao to this subordinate without worry,” Gu Beiyue soothed. While he chatted with Han Yunxi, Long Feiye remained silent. He knew that Gu Beiyue was spewing nothing but lies.
With their meal of two expanded to three, Han Yunxi stroked her stomach with a grin and said, “Next year’s New Year’s Eve dinner will include one extra little pipsqueak.”
Besides casual chatter, Gu Beiyue asked Long Feiye about various military and political affairs. The two men soon fell into a deep discussion and didn’t stop. Han Yunxi sat on the sidelines, filled with ideas of her own that she kept in check so as to not interrupt.
The saying went that winds were cold and bitter at high altitudes, just as people in high places found it hard to mark friends. Gu Beiyue was one of the rare few that Long Feiye could befriend.
After dinner, Long Feiye continued the tradition of giving everyone red packets. All of the servants at Rare Camp received big ones. He’d also prepared one for Tang Li’s family of three, Gu Beiyue, and Gu Qishao.
Fourth Young Miss Ren and Zhao mama were eating at a separate tent, but the sound of their laughter flitted out as soon as they received their red packets. Long Feiye gave Chu Xifeng the red packets meant for Tang Li’s family so he could send it over by night messenger hawk. Gu Qishao’s share was given to Gu Beiyue.
Unexpectedly, Gu Beiyue took out two small red packets of his own after accepting his share. Although they were tiny, they were also exceptionally chic and didn’t resemble ordinary, low-quality red packets. They were small, thick purses of red silk tied with golden tassels, stuffed to the brim with silver drafts.
“Princess, Qishao knew this subordinate was passing by this way and asked me to prepare these. He says it’s a gift for the little master,” Gu Beiyue smile was tinged with sadness.
In truth, Gu Qishao was lurking right around Rear Camp. He hadn’t gone to any desert, much less Medical City. He wasn’t even passing by, but had come here for a special trip. No matter how much Gu Beiyue protested, Gu Qishao insisted on dropping by. He wanted to give the little master a red packet on the last night of the year.
He had even sewed the silk purse all by himself with needle and thread. Gu Beiyue only recently learned that Gu Qishao was a man who could sew. When he asked him how, Gu Qishao had only said he’d “learned it.”
Han Yunxi’s eyes were fixated on the little purse. She was surprised, but quickly glanced at Long Feiye with a chuckle. “You lost your chance, haha!”
This had to be the little fellow’s first ever red packet. What should be Long Feiye’s right had been stolen by Gu Qishao instead. There were many rules about gifting red packets in Cloud Realm Continent. Only those of higher standing or status had the right to give red packets. While Gu Beiyue didn’t qualify, Gu Qishao did! He wasn’t Long Feiye or Han Yunxi’s subordinate, but simply their friend.
“It doesn’t count if you don’t gift it in person,” Long Feiye said before taking out a red brocade box and handing it to Han Yunxi. It resembled a mini jewelry chest and was extremely cute. Han Yunxi glanced at her fat red packet purse, then at this embroidered chest, and suddenly felt like she was being spoiled. Long Feiye simply picked up Gu Qishao’s purse, studied it briefly, and tossed it to the edge of the table.
Han Yunxi didn’t know whether to laugh or cy. She took it back and shot him a glare, but Long Feiye didn’t react. Gu Beiyue watched it all without a word. He knew that with His Highness’s act, Han Yunxi would feel even less doubts.
After the meal was a fireworks show that illuminated the night skies. Han Yunxi’s group watched from a distance in front of Rear Camp before she noticed Fourth Young Miss Ren standing by a nearby tent. She was looking at them--or more accurately, at Gu Beiyue.
Han Yunxi made an excuse that she was tired and had Long Feiye accompany her back to their rooms, leaving Gu Beiyue alone. He prepared to depart, knowing that His Highness would find him after the princess went to bed. But he’d hardly reached the tent that Chu Xifeng prepared for him when Fourth Young Miss Ren caught up to his doorstep.
“Academy Head Beiyue, please wait!” Fourth Young Miss Ren was both excited and nervous. Zhao mama and the rest had already started gambling with their money when she came out for a breath of fresh air. To see the man she thought about day and night in the flesh was a surprise. If His Highness hadn’t been around, she would have ran over ages ago. Her heart was filled with feelings at the sight of the warm as jade, smiling gentleman, but she didn’t know what to say. No matter who it was, Gu Beiyue always treated them well.
Despite his sorrow and worries about Qishao, he could still smile and wait patiently while hiding his true feelings deep down inside.
After a while, Fourth Young Miss Ren said, “Academy Head Beiyue, Happy New Spring.”
Gu Beiyue nodded before taking out a red packet and handing it over with both hands. “Happy New Spring.”
Fourth Young Miss Ren immediately felt awkward. She hadn’t come here to ask for a red packet! But she didn’t know what else she was doing, besides to catch another a glimpse of him. Gu Beiyue had already left all matters related to Medical City in Vice Academy Head Shen’s hands. The princess was in good health as well, so there was nothing but business between him and her.
She could only accept the red packet. “Thank you, Academy Head.”
Gu Beiyue smiled before turning to enter his quarters and shut the door. Fourth Young Miss Ren was left hanging at the entrance, staring at the bundle in her hands. Her gaze darted to the closed door as she suddenly felt an urge to cry.
So this is what they mean when they say it’s better not to meet someone at all?
The husband holds no sentiments
The concubine yet still pines;
Thinking of each other brings lovesickness today
Living ‘til tomorrow only to part separate ways.
Fourth Young Miss Ren stood in front of Gu Beiyue’s door for a long time, afraid to knock on his door. In the end, she left in dejected spirits. Naturally, Gu Beiyue was fully aware of her movements and long guessed her feelings. He didn’t take it to heart.
He had already opened up the little booklet he kept on hand all the time. The contents were filled with names of various medicines and all the results from his different experiments. Although he allowed Gu Qishao to be stubborn and waste time on a trip here, he himself didn’t plan on squandering any more time.
If he guessed right, His Highness wouldn’t be dropping by until the middle of the night.
Han Yunxi was already sprawling lazily on the bed. She always wanted to sleep after meals during her late pregnancy days. There were plenty of warm heaters in the large tent and she was wearing thin, loose robes while lying down on her side on a tall pillow. Long Feiye was by her side as they chatted.
“Did you know Gu Beiyue’s going to marry the eldest young Miss of Medical City’s Qin Clan?” Han Yunxi asked.
“When did that happen?” Long Feiye replied. How could Gu Beiyue have any time to bother with romance and wives now?”
Han Yunxi told him what she learned from Fourth Young Miss Ren before Long Feiye realized Gu Beiyue had only sent someone over with a marriage proposal. He smiled and said, “Marriage is his private affair. If we can drink his wedding wine soon, we naturally have to be happy for his sake.”
Han Yunxi only felt helpless. She only recalled this matter because she saw Fourth Young Miss Ren. It wasn’t like she took it any seriously. She knew very well that Long Feiye disliked gossiping.
The two chatted some more before Han Yunxi clutched Long Feiye’s hand and tensed, unmoving.
“What is it?” Long Feiye grew alarmed.
“Shh...quick, look!” Han Yunxi pointed nervously at her stomach.
2. Pregnant women in ancient China typically went into confinement in the 42 days before their expected delivery date. Basically, they stay at home all day and avoid meeting with outsiders to ensure a clean, warm environment for their baby.
Tick, tock, the clock winds down to yet another year. Huh, the last time we had a New Year's dinner GBY and GQS were both here and Tang Li was still sane.
My, how the characters deviate from their paths...