The capital city was located in the south central regions of Cloud Realm Continent and was cool during mid-autumn, but not enough to merit a cotton jacket. Princess Yan was dressed in both that and fox furs, so it'd be strange if she didn't get heat rash!
Long Feiye was afraid of her catching a cold precisely because she dressed too thinly when she was one and caught a severe chill. That was the first time Princess Yan had eaten medicine, which was forced down her throat. She choked several times. Moreover, Fourth Miss Ren had been very prudent in prescribing the medicine, so she recovered slowly and ate medicine for a long time.
Long Feiye had almost gone mad during the days Fourth Miss Ren and Zhao mama were feeding the princess medicine. He used to stand by the side, but couldn't bear it in the end and simply waited outside the door. However, his absence precisely helped the two women pour medicine more smoothly so the princess didn't choke again.
From then on, Long Feiye was afraid of his precious daughter catching another chill and was always preoccupied with her warmth. In other words, Princess Yan had already suffered multiple bouts of heat rash. Fourth Miss Ren, Zhao mama, and a few experienced nannies all looked after her. Logically speaking, they should be able to convince Long Feiye to relax, but none of them dared to speak up.
According to Fourth Miss Ren, it was normal for young children to catch colds. If they spoke too much and the princess caught something else, they wouldn't be able to afford the emperor's censure. Those outside the palace might not know how much the emperor doted on the little princess, but they knew best as servants. Thus, Zhao mama went to seek out the empress to convince the emperor.
Her exact words were, "Esteemed Empress, His Majesty listens to you most. Please coax His Majesty. If we keep stifling the princess, she'll definitely get heat rash."
Han Yunxi replied, "The emperor listens to the little princess the most. After she gets heat rash a few more times, she'll protest on her own."
As expected, Princess Yan protested tonight in front of Gu Beiyue! Han Yunxi knew she'd been faking sleep on purpose when Long Feiye tickled her, so she was too lazy to care.
Hearing about heat rash made Long Feiye panic. "Where did you get them?"
"My stomach!" Yan'er said as she prepared to lift her clothes.
Long Feiye's face turned black. Although he'd told her multiple times not to lift her clothes or roll up her sleeves, Yan'er was still too young to remember. She'd play and either lose a shoe or pull her sleeves up high. He quickly pressed down on Yan'er's hand and had someone summon Fourth Miss Ren.
"Qin Min's here, no need to find Fourth Miss Ren," Han Yunxi said.
She was about to take Yan'er and apply medicine when the girl refused. "Imperial mother, I have something very important to tell Doctor Gu. Even more important than heat rash."
"Then hurry and speak. We'll apply medicine after that," Han Yunxi agreed.
Long Feiye was very curious, but Yan'er simply said, "Doctor Gu, convince my imperial father now. Don't let him worry I'll catch cold all the time. I'm not that weak! My big brother is even laughing at me."
Yan'er reached out a hand. "Doctor Gu, why don't you take my pulse? Big sis Fourth Miss Ren says my health is very good. I won't get sick easily."
Just like that, Yan'er completely ignored her father while sitting in his lap to babble at Gu Beiyue nonstop. Long Feiye was just embarrassed, while Han Yunxi sat back to leisurely drink her soup. She'd occasionally shoot Long Feiye looks, but silently chortled in joy at his awkwardness. Yan'er, the little sprite, was truly shrewd to grab Gu Beiyue for her complaints. The latter wore a small smile as he listened intently.
Qin Min was particularly baffled. Long Feiye rarely spoke, nor was Han Yunxi a chatty person, so how did they give birth to such a garrulous girl? She was on par with the daughter of the Tang Clan. However, Princess Yan's tender young voice was lovely to listen to. She even spoke with a lilt, like a miniature adult. Nobody would get tired of her no matter how much she talked.
As Yan'er complained, Rui'er and Shadow had silently landed on the roof and lying head to head to peek through the cracks in the glazed tiles. Of course, Rui'er was covering his ears. Ever since his sister had started to talk, Tang Hongdou (唐红豆) had ceased to be the most frightening existence in his life. His little sister took her place!
Little Shadow listened to Princess Yan without missing a word, smiling as he did.
After eavesdropping for a while, Shadow asked, "Your Highness, the princess is someone I have to protect too, right?"
Rui'er looked up to see Shadow still sprawled on the roof and pulled his head up. "Too? Who else are you protecting?"
Shadow chuckled and replied, "You…"
Rui'er immediately released his head and stood up to loom over him. "You want to protect me?"
Shadow scrambled to his feet, voice earnest. "Yes! The mission of the Shadow Clan is to protect the imperial family."
Rui'er only snorted. "You only know how to run away. How will you protect me?"
Shadow was completely serious. "Your Highness, I can take you with me when I run."
Rui'er stumbled and almost fell off the roof at his words. When he straightened up, he poked Shadow's forehead and said, word by word, "Gu Nanchen, don't tell anyone else I know you!"
And then he went back to sprawling on the roof.
Shadow only murmured, "Your Highness, everyone already knows we know each other."
After leaving the Grand Tutor's estate, they went straight to the palace and chased each other all afternoon. If it wasn't him chasing the crown prince, it was the crown prince running after him. They had covered the entire palace grounds. All of the servants, guards, and hidden shadow guards all knew that he was Grand Tutor Gu's son here to be His Highness's training partner.
His Highness had even personally told Xu Donglin in an arrogant tone, "Guard Xu, spread word that this guy will be this crown prince's man in the future. Blocking his way is the same as blocking the crown prince."
Rui'er looked up and asked, "Gu Nanchen, what's so skillful about running away?"
Shadow lay back down and replied, "Your Highness, it can save your life without hurting others. That's true skill."
"But what's the use if you can't defeat your enemy?" Rui'er asked next.
Shadow hastily added, "You can anger them to death! Like how Your Highness chased me for an entire afternoon without being able to catch me. Weren't you very mad?"
Rui'er banged his head against the roof tiles and didn't want to talk to Shadow anymore. This guy didn't need to run at all, his words would infuriate people enough. Shadow just grinned and continued to peek below them.
Lil Thing was curled up on the side, lazily watching them both. Like Rui'er, it was afraid of the young princess ever since she had enough strength to hold it. His Highness Crown Prince had ceased being the most frightening existence. While the crown prince chased it and told it to transform, transform, transform, the little princess…kept a cat!
It wasn't even afraid of tigers, but deathly afraid of cats. When the princess held a cat in her hands and beckoned to it with her fingers, it kept feeling like it was a mouse. It had accompanied the gentleman throughout Cloud Realm Continent until the medical reforms were over. The gentleman had returned to Yunning but left suddenly a few days later, making it impossible to find him. The princess clung to Lil Thing and so it stayed in Yunning, later accompanying Mama Yunxi's group back to the capital city.
Today it had finally seen the gentleman again. It planned to quietly wait until the banquet was over before sneaking back with him.
In the pavilion, Yan'er had just finished complaining. Although Long Feiye was embarrassed, he allowed his daughter to babble. He didn't like speaking himself or noisy people, but he loved to hear his daughter talk nonstop. The awkwardness was temporary and soon replaced with a smile on his face. Long Feiye was still worried about Yan'er's heat rash in the end, so he cut her off and said, "Enough, enough, imperial father won't dress you so thickly in the future, all right? Hurry and apply medicine."
"Pinky promise!" Yan'er insisted.
Long Feiye stuck out his pinky without hesitation, but Yan'er said, "Imperial father has to pinky promise Doctor Gu."
Qin Min muffled her lips in time before spurting out a mouthful of soup. Long Feiye's expression stiffened, while Gu Beiyue's grin had froze as well. Even Han Yunxi didn't react so much. She knew better than anyone else her daughter's temper and thoughts.
"Why?" Long Feiye didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
"Grown-ups are always lying when they pinky promise little kids," Yan'er said seriously, "But a pinky promise between grown-ups is a contract. You can't break it."
Thinking it over, Long Feiye said, "How about I pinky promise with your imperial mother?"
Yan'er shook her head. "Men who pinky promise women are liars too. But a pinky promise between men is a men's pact and won't be broken easily."
Now Han Yunxi spat out her soup. She never expected her daughter to say such things. She was only two!
"Who taught you that?" Han Yunxi asked.
Yan'er's face was stern. "Imperial mother, I can't betray Master."
Han Yunxi wanted to prove, but Yan'er started pushing her father. "Imperial father, I knew you were a liar."
Long Feiye was left helpless! He looked at Gu Beiyue, who also shook his head helplessly. In the end, Gu Beiyue stuck out his pinky first and Long Feyie followed before the two touched ands and immediately let go. Yan'er was wholly satisfied. Before her mother could carry her, she had already slipped out of her father's arms and ran into the rooms.
I'm itchy to death! By the time Han Yunxi and Qin Min caught up and saw the scene, they both burst out laughing. Yan'er was leaning against a pillar and grinding hard. Han Yunxi carried her to the bed and lifted her clothes to see a cluster of red heat rash on her back.
Qin Min looked and said, "Esteemed Empress, it's not serious. Is the medicine she usually uses still here?"
Zhao mama had long returned with the salve. Everyone with experience knew this wasn't a big deal, it's just Long Feiye who was overreacting to call for a doctor. Han Yunxi called Qin Min here so Long Feiye could be at ease too.
Qin Min sniffed the medicine and said, "Esteemed Empress, this is tea oil, right?"
"Yes, it was given by Fourth Miss Ren before," Han Yunxi replied.
[MORE PGC 2 SPOILERS AHEAD]
i haven't read the sequel because it seems like a hot mess but seeing the future husband and wife here as children was interesting. they'd be cute just like this, without the whole amnesia trope and Him the Cold Iceberg vs. She the Fierce Snarker in a repeat of the LFY x HYX couple. sigh.
xuanyuan rui and gu nanchen make a good pair as well....