Qin Min thought that Gu Beiyue was mad with fury, but she noticed his gaze returned to normal after resting on her face. A bit dazed, it took her some time to react.
There was no blame or censure like she imagined, only his voice in low tones. "Running into a prodigal wastrel is really abominable. Eldest Miss Qin, you weren't frightened, were you?"
He was as gentle and calm as always as if he could still the most turbulent waves. Still, he was capable of raising waves himself. He was an outwardly warm and inwardly cold man. That chill left others at a distance, making it impossible for anyone to enter his heart and see his true self. Qin Min desperately wanted to cry beneath his care, but his formal tone chilled her heart until she felt stifled. But she realized there was something more serious at stake.
She lightly touched her flat stomach and murmured, "It's out of the bag."
"It's fine," Gu Beiyue said while placing a hand on her shoulder. "Don't talk. I'll—"
Qin Min grit her teeth in a moment of steely resolve and hugged him before bursting into tears. "Beiyue, I was wrong! Forgive me! I know I'm wrong now!"
She had no idea when the empress and emperor came to Ningzhou, but she was certain that Beiyue had only arrived today. After eavesdropping on their conversation, she found out that both him and the empress had missed her at home. If that was the case, it'd be difficult for him to find an excuse for her fake pregnancy. His best bet was to push all the blame on her and feign ignorance. Otherwise, those two intelligent masters would suspect something.
Gu Beiyue could guess her plan as soon as she opened her mouth. He wasn't surprised by her fake embrace. Actually, he had his own plan, but she beat him to it. He always thought Eldest Miss Qin was an introverted lady of discretion who followed the rules. She didn't seem like the impulsive type. But since she'd already shouted it all out, what could he do? Only act it out with her before they were exposed before the pair behind them.
Qin Min was lightly embracing Gu Beiyue, afraid to use too much strength. She glimpsed Long Feiye and Han Yunxi out of the corner of her eye and saw that they were still watching. Steeling her heart, she strengthened her hug and all but threw herself into his embrace. In that moment, Gu Beiyue's body stiffened. Never had any woman gotten this close to him or filled his empty arms so fully. He felt an indescribable sensation, his usual cool and aloof self suddenly at a loss and unused to the sensation. It had to be said that Qin Min's heart almost stopped after her actions. She just wanted to make the act seem more real with no other intentions. But the moment she entered that warm embrace, she discovered that the warm-faced doctor with a cool heart had an incomparable embrace.
She could feel the firmness of his body that belied his frail and scholarly looks. She could clearly smell the faint fragrance of medicine on his body, very lovely and light. People who commonly worked with medicine all carried such scents, but his was exceptionally clean and pure. She could lose her entire life just inhaling it.
In this moment, she felt closer to this man than any other time and even forgot to keep acting. Both of them stood blankly for a while until Shaoyao cried out quickly with tears in her voice, "Sir, madam didn't mean it! It was an accident. Don't be like this!"
"Sir, madam was afraid you'd mourn and never told you the truth. Please don't ignore madam!"
Recovering her wits, Qin Min quickly started to sob. "Beiyue, I'm sorry to you and the child both. You can curse me or beat me, but please don't ignore me."
She raised her head at the out-of-sorts Gu Beiyue and gave him a meaningful look. "Beiyue, won't you say something? Don't be like this."
She decided to walk to the end and even raised a hand to touch his cheek. But her fingers still froze upon skin contact. His face was as cold as her hands—something she discovered back in Yunning when occasions required him to take her hand. Cradling his face, she pled, "Beiyue, the child is lost...three months ago, I accidentally tripped in the courtyard and the baby...the baby was gone. Beiyue, I didn't know how to tell you, I…"
Although it was all a play, she might've gotten too into it. Or perhaps his creased brows were saddening her in that moment. As she spoke, her heart seized with misery. It was as if this was all real and the baby was really gone. But this was true too!
Academy Head Beiyue, we can't "birth" our child anymore. How are we supposed to be fake husband and wife in the future? Didn't we marry just for the sake of a child?
Real tears began to pool in Qin Min's eyes then. She couldn't help but grip him tighter as her thoughts turned chaotic, her heart in a worse mess. She didn't know what was going on, but she couldn't control her emotions.
Was she too into the playacting, or had the play turned into reality?
"Beiyue, there's no more baby. Do you still want me?"
"Beiyue, say something! You can curse me or blame me, but...don't be so calm, will you?"
Gu Beiyue had excellent adaptability and could come up with the most reasonable solution and actions despite the most unexpected situations.
But this time, he left Qin Min singing her own song for a long while before recovering himself. Fortunately, all Long Feiye and Han Yunxi saw were his back.
How could anyone just simply accept that their baby was gone without some resentment, fury, or grief? Long Feiye knitted his brows at Gu Beiyue's back before quickly turning to look out the window in silence. Han Yunxi remembered asking after Gu Beiyue why Qin Min hadn't returned after winter passed. She recalled he said that Qin Min loved the weather and scenery in Jiangnan and was too lazy to stir. Moreover, it was difficult to shift about with a large stomach. But if Qin Min had lost the baby three months ago, then she was probably using that as an excuse to stay behind for fear of exposing the truth.
How could she hide something this big from Gu Beiyue? He's such a reasonable man, he'd never blame her. Although truthfully speaking, I don't know how they get on as husband and wife.
Han Yunxi was a mother herself and more or less understood the pains of motherhood. She felt more grieved than anything and didn't think too deeply, much less question Qin Min too much.
At last, Gu Beiyue opened his mouth, his voice heavy despite its inherent gentleness. "It was I who was negligent, not being by your side. It's not your fault…"
So speaking, he pulled Qin Min aside to sit down. When she left his embrace, she felt as if she'd left a warm little world behind. Gu Beiyue lifted Qin Min's hand and carefully took her pulse, his face a mask of heavy grief. Qin Min silently exhaled. As long as Gu Beiyue could playact with her, they would resolve the issue at hand. For now, their fake marriage would still stand. Biting her lip, she gave him a pitiful look as she waited. Around them, silence settled down to wait as well.
After a long time, Gu Beiyue exhaled heavily. He didn't say a thing, but raised her fingers to his lips and looked at her. Qin Min almost lost it right there!
She could feel the cool, soft sensation of his lips beneath her fingers. Did this count as a kiss? Her heart pounded as she almost struggled to breathe. But when she looked up to meet his clear eyes, all of her restlessness settled down. There was something different about his serene, calm gaze this time, although she couldn't put her finger on it. She thought of a crescent moon hanging high in an autumn night sky, emitting warm light to soften the darkness.
Gu Beiyue, you look so real when you act. Aren't you afraid you'll treat this as reality instead?
"It's all my fault. Let's go back first," Gu Beiyue said lightly.
Qin Min lowered her head in silence. He sighed softly and walked to Han Yunxi helplessly. "Unfortunate tidings have befallen the household. I'll take her back, may you two masters chat at your leisure."
Unlike Tang Li and Ning Jing, Gu Beiyue disliked speaking about his private affairs. Qin Min had rarely interacted with the rest of the group as well. Long Feiye would never pry, while Han Yunxi knew enough of Gu Beiyue's personality to keep her questions to herself despite liking Qin Min too. After something like this, they were inclined to ask even less. After all, this had happened so suddenly. Husband and wife must have enough to talk about on their own. Even if they were curious, they had to wait until the other two calmed down before asking after them.
"Go back then. I have arrangements tonight, I'll find you tomorrow," Long Feiye replied.
Seeing Qin Min hanging her head like a naughty child, Han Yunxi felt a sense of loneliness emanating from the woman, though she couldn't understand why.
Gu Beiyue's heart finally settled in his chest after Long Feiye's words. He quickly took Qin Min and headed for home. The alleyway was near their house and Gu Beiyue escorted Qin Min back the entire way. The two of them kept silent while Shaoyao followed behind with a disbelieving look on her face. They almost looked like a real couple like this. How wonderful that would be.
While her young Miss was staying these months in Jiangnan, she had been planting away, researching desserts, practicing needlework, and even wrote verses and danced. She lived lively, full days, but Shaoyao always thought the sight heartaching. Her mistress was so young but was more like a recluse who had distanced herself from the world's common joys and sorrows.
If the master was here, young Miss's days would be more human, more warm.
Back at home behind shut doors, Gu Beiyue stopped holding Qin Min's hand while the latter exhaled in relief. She immediately apologized. "Academy Head Beiyue, I'm sorry. It's my fault!"Previous Chapter Next Chapter
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