Little Shadow was indeed good-looking, with clear brows and a handsome face. Most importantly, he loved to smile and his childish, tender grin seemed to make all troubles disappear in an instant.
Zhao mama made a noise of agreement with Princess Yan's vision. Unexpectedly, Princess Yan then added, "Zhao mama, he's the best looking boy I've ever seen."
Zhao mama didn't know whether to laugh or cry. After all, the emperor was so overprotective that the little princess had only seen one other boy in her life: His Highness Crown Prince! She thought it over and replied, "Princess, you musn't let His Highness Crown Prince know this."
Yan'er looked up and agreed. "Understood!"
Zhao mama didn't know whether Princess Yan really understood or not, but she was afraid to explain any further. Faced with Princess Yan, more explanations would only lead to more misunderstandings!
With Princess Yan in Zhao mama's arms, Long Feiye ended up being most depressed. He couldn't help glancing between the little lover in Han Yunxi's arms and the one in Zhao mama's embrace and feel like he'd been abandoned by the world. Despite this, he still remembered to get food with his chopsticks for his wife and children. Leaving aside Gu Beiyue and Qin Min, he wouldn't even feed Han Yunxi in front of Rui'er and Yan'er. This was only done in private. He wanted to feed Yan'er, but she evaded him; he fed Rui'er, who was used to it and opened his mouth to eat. But Rui'er regretted it before he even swallowed the morsel.
He was almost five and still needed his imperial father to feed him, how shameful! He glanced at Gu Nanchen, afraid of being laughed at, only to see the boy taking big mouthfuls from the mooncake his father fed him.
Rui'er stopped worrying after that.
Qin Min saw Gu Beiyue personally feeding his son and was so happy she forgot to eat herself. Gu Beiyue assumed she was nervous about eating in front of the royals and murmured, "No need to be polite."
Then he personally doled out a bowl of soup for her and got her some vegetables. Thus, Qin Min ended up with a bowl of soup, a bowl of rice, and a bowl of vegetables. She looked at the spread with mixed feelings. This was his first time showing her "care," which left her feeling bitter but also wanting to laugh.
When doling vegetables to a woman, you were supposed to do it gradually and refill after she finished. He had given her three bowls at once, which was clearly the standard for feeding children at a banquet.
Even Han Yunxi couldn't help laughing. "Beiyue, do you take Qin Min for a child? You're just short of feeding her by hand!"
Qin Min was about to pick up her chopsticks when she stopped at those words, a little embarrassed. Gu Beiyue didn't react much beyond laughing it off. And yet it was little Shadow who pushed away the food coming to his mouth to declare, "I don't eat celtuce, let mother eat it instead. Mother dearest likes it."
Gu Beiyue's hand froze. Qin Min was clearly taken aback, but she quickly took the celtuce from Gu Beiyue's chopsticks into her bowl and fed Shadow some potatoes. "What about this? Will you eat it?"
Shadow was gentle on the surface but quite shrewd inside. He knew his mother was unhappy about his actions and bit down on the potatoes. "Yummy!"
Just like that, Qin Min defused the seemingly embarrassing situation. She even chose her words with care when she spoke. She didn't pick Shadow's most favorite food, but a potato ball. And she had said, "What about this? Will you eat it?" instead of "This is your favorite, eat it."
How could a parent not know their child's preferences? But Gu Beiyue had no idea. Her actions were meant to help Gu Beiyue cover up! Unfortunately, she ignored her own bowl of vegetables, which had everything except her supposedly "favorite" celtuce.
Han Yunxi observed the discrepancy but said nothing.
Long Feiye and Gu Beiyue talked as they ate, occasionally refilling Han Yunxi and Rui'er's plate or serving soup to Yan'er. Han Yunxi started talking to Qin Min as well, from upbringing children to cooking to raising plants. If not for the fact that Qin Min was Gu Beiyue's wife, she would dearly want to keep her in the palace.
Later on, a court lady walked to Han Yunxi's side and murmured, "Esteemed Empress, the chicken rolls you ordered have been boiled. Shall we send them up now?"
Han Yunxi had been idle while Long Feiye was favoring the little princess, so she began to research a specific dish: chicken rolls. This dish didn't used to be called chicken rolls, but "sour and spicy old hen soup." It was very simple to begin with and only included chili peppers and pickled vegetables boiled with the meat of an old hen into soup. After months of improvement, it was now a completely different yet simple dish. The old hen meat was simmered in vinegar for half a day until it was sour, then rolled up in a sheet of dough with cucumber slices to make a chicken roll. No matter how it tasted, it still looked excellent.
Months of work produced countless dishes,. Whether Long Feiye tasted any of them was a secret only he and Han Yunxi knew; even the kitchen help remained clueless.
After some thought, Han Yunxi said, "No need."
The court lady truly exhaled in relief for the emperor, but Han Yunxi then said, "Put the chicken in the steamer to keep it warm and give it to the emperor as his midnight snack."
The court lady couldn't help glancing at the emperor before she left to obey.
After the meal, everyone went to the gardens to enjoy moon-viewing, though Gu Beiyue still didn't mention his birthday. After strolling around in a circle, the night was still young, so Han Yunxi had Rui'er claim sleepiness to dissolve the party. Princess Yan had long gone to sleep in Zhao mama's arms. She was a naturally sleepyhead while Rui'er was a night owl.
After sending off Gu Beiyue's family of three, Long Feiye asked, "What's wrong?"
Han Yunxi put Rui'er away before saying, "Gu Beiyue and Qin Min…are definitely having problems!"
According to Gu Beiyue, he and Qin Min were childhood sweethearts who had been in love for a long time. So how come Gu Beiyue didn't know Qin Min liked to eat celtuce? He gave her so many vegetables but not that one!
Long Feiye hadn't noticed until Han Yunxi brought it up. He arched a brow and smiled. "Since it's Gu Beiyue's private affairs, let him deal with it."
Han Yunxi mused that there shouldn't be any big problems if the pair were already married and shrugged her shoulders to drop the matter.
Yan'er had gone to bed with Zhao mama while Rui'er had ran off to who-knows-where, leaving Long Feiye and Han Yunxi to stroll deep into the gardens. They admired the moon and chatted casually, feeling as if they were back to the past again.
Yet in another corner of the palace, a red shadow swept by, prompting Zhao mama to let the court lady guard Princess Yan while she secretly gave chase all the way to its hiding place.
Who else could this be but Gu Qishao?
"Your Highness King Yu, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a time of reunion. Since you're here, why not show your face?" Zhao mama said helplessly.
It had been three years but Gu Qishao's face still showed no signs of aging. He turned back and grinned, looking as seductive and eternally happy as always. He handed over a box of mooncakes and said, "Give these to Poison lass and Yan'er, but don't say I came by."
He had dedicated two months to eating at all the old shops across Cloud Realm Continent before finding the best-tasting one. He knew that Poison lass and her daughter both liked sweets.
The first two years he spent in the Mysterious Continent, but the last year he was hidden in Cloud Realm. Occasionally he'd send over goodies for Poison lass and Yan'er, but all through Zhao mama's hands. His excuse was that they were tribute gifts. Since there were plenty of people across the continent who wanted to win the empress and Princess Yan's favor, this excuse still held water. Besides material goods, he would also ask Zhao mama to teach Yan'er the "three views", which included: the concept of money, power, and men versus women.
He always said to Zhao mama, "Long Feiye is always hiding Yan'er in the palace. If she leaves the palace one day, she'll definitely get cheated!"
Zhao mama agreed with him and became Yan'er's "substitute teacher."
Gu Qishao left a few more words before scurrying away. He was afraid that Long Feiye would discover him and dared not linger long. He had already forgotten he once joked about marrying Long Feiye's daughter, but he was certain Long Feiye would only strengthen his defenses and forbid him from seeing Yan'er if he was caught.
Gu Beiyue vanished after leaving the palace, but he saw a very familiar long brocade box at the entrance of his house! He gave a start. Qin Min was curious, while Shadow rushed over to pick it up.
"Father, this box is so pretty!" Since it was of unknown origins, Shadow was very prudent and handed it to his father.
"Did His Highness King Yu leave this?" Qin Min couldn't help asking.
"Should be." Gu Beiyue replied and opened it up. He saw a round jade pendant inside. At first it was dull, but after absorbing the moonlight it gradually grew bright and translucent, very beautiful.
"Moonlight Jade!" Qin Min exclaimed.
Gu Beiyue was surprised as well. He took out the pendant and held it up to the moon. After a while, the pendant was not only crystal clear but also seemed to glow, emitting layers of faint light as clean and gentle as the moon.
"Indeed, it's Moonlight Jade," Gu Beiyue was certain.
Moonlight Jade was the most valuable type of white jade crystal. The reason was because it was extremely rare and had a strange quirk: the stone was usually very dim but would absorb moonlight to become transparent, bright, and glowing.
"Why did he suddenly send such a huge gift?" Qin Min wondered.
Gu Beiyue seemed to recall something but Shadow suddenly exclaimed, "Father, mother, look! There are words written beneath the box!"
Gu Beiyue flipped the box over and saw large, gold-stamped characters written on the surface: Birthday Present.
Qin Min suddenly came to her senses and looked at Gu Beiyue in shock. "Today is your birthday?"
Gu Beiyue gave a start before finally admitting graciously with a smile, "Mhm."
How did Gu Qishao know my birthday? Did Gu Qishao run into my grandfather celebrating the day with me when he was young?
After some thought, Gu Beiyue determined that this was the only possibility.
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Unexpectedly, Princess Yan then added, "Zhao mama, he's the best looking boy I've ever seen."
i've heard of childhood sweethearts but usually i like those to be shown with actions, not words. ah yes, the pre-programmed Perfect Child software is running smoothly in LFY and HYX's children... *shudders* how do they manage uncanny valley so well?!
Gu Qishao left a few more words before scurrying away. He was afraid that Long Feiye would discover him and dared not linger long.
me: so...so why don't you wear black next time instead of red? you used to wear black when in disguise...
gu qishao is rising up to be my one of my favorites too. how is it that everyone's reversed themselves in PGC...i used to have troubling standing him and mu linger, but now...haha...