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Happy new year to all of you. May this be great year. Not so happy time for Ning Er 😦

If he was surprised he didn’t let it show.

“Canjian, Huangshang, ” said the servants. I couldn’t say anything.
“Mian li. Let the empress come in.”

“Xuan Chen.”

He clapped.

“You’re a really good performer. Did you enjoy making a fool out of me?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Like father, like daughter. You wanted to be the empress so badly to seduce me? Now that you’ve gotten it, are you happy?”

“I wouldn’t do that. I didn’t know who you were.”

He grabbed me and began kissing me while taking my clothes off. But it was violent without a trace of love. I pushed him away. I looked at him pleadingly but he only gave me that smirk. The horrible smirk that I hated.

“Like I believe you. Chen Meng You? Haha, looks like I’ve really been fooled. Listen very well, Li An Ning, don’t ever think about getting with a child. I’ll rather sleep with the pigs than with you. You’ll be my wife only in name. I’ll let you rot in the cold palace if I can. But since you’ve got a powerful father’s backing you up, I’ll let you stay as the empress.”

He sat on his seat, looking mockingly at me. I prayed for my tears not to fall. I clenched my fist. No matter what I say, he won’t believe me. I bowed to him and returned to my room.

When I was back in my room I sent everyone out and cried silent tears. There weren’t many times in my life that I cried. The first time I cried was because of him, the second time is also because of him and now the third time is because of him again. He’s the emperor. I still can’t believe it. Is fate playing with us? How do I live from now on? I thought that I can live well if we don’t love each other. But he’s Xuan Chen. And he hates me. I cried myself to sleep.

The next day Lian Er finally arrived. I really missed her. She couldn’t believe her ears when I told her Xuan Chen is the emperor. She told me it is fate. I only laughed.
I went to pay respect to the empress dowager. All went well, except that I needed to see Consort De. We were talking when he arrived.

“儿臣参见母后( erchen canjian mu hou , your son greets you, mother)”

He sat beside me. I ignored him.

“How’s the wedding life?”

“Better than I imagined.”

“You know that 母后 (here she’s referring to herself) want a grandchild. Don’t make me wait too long.”

“I’ll do my best.”

He smiled at me. I can’t figure him out. But this smile is without a trace of affection. I sat there silently, praying for this to end soon. I want to hide in my room and never see him again. I’m becoming like the me in the past again. When we could go I waited for him to go first. He grabbed my hand.

“We need to pretend to be a loving couple, ” he whispered in my ear.

Then Consort De took his other hand. He smiled at her with affection. I looked away. He took her as consort, he must love her. Beside I anticipated this. Which emperor doesn’t have many women? I’m no fool to think that he’ll love only me.
Consort De kept chatting and chatting. They laughed. I felt like a third side wheel. Why is the way to my room so long?

“臣妾先告退.( chen qie xian gao dui, I’ll go first)”

“Did Zhen say you can go?”

What does he want now?

“Does Huang Shang still need something from Chen Qie?”

He seems to be contemplating something but then he waved his hands for me to go. I retreated in my room. Such a big and extravagant room. Fitted for the empress but not fitted for the simple An Ning. Suddenly I miss Yun Wen’s place. I’ll probably never see them again.

Months have passed since the wedding. Not once did he seek me out. We only see each other at special occasions. By now everyone must know I’m not favored. I’m still wondering why my father hasn’t sought me out to reprimand me. I spent my days in The Palace of Earthly Tranquility. I don’t dare to go to The Palace of Heavenly Purity. I’m afraid to see Xuan Chen. In fact I want to escape from all of this.

I spent my days playing the Pippa, playing the Guinn and tending flowers. I really got nothing to do. What do empresses before me do? The power of the Inner Court is still in the hands of the empress dowager. She said that she’ll teach me in time how to manage the Inner Court. I know it’s just an excuse to stay in power. Since I don’t want more problems I’ll let her be. All I need to do is pay respect to her every morning and see that annoying face of Consort De. Sometimes Xuan Chen will come. Those were the times that I got to see him. My heart beats faster every time I hear 皇上驾到 (huang shang jia dao, the emperor is coming).
Every time he ignored me it’s like a knife just pierced in my already broken heart. I tried to be nonchalant. I’ll die before I admit that I miss him.

One day I felt sick. I think it’s because I’m home sick. Suddenly my home feels like a nicer place than this cold place. While I was sick I felt a warm big hand on my forehead. When I opened my eyes I saw Xuan Chen. I must still be delirious from the medicine. Xuan Chen will be happy if I died. I closed my eyes again to keep the image of him in my head.

“Xuan Chen, I want to go home.”

I didn’t know I said it out aloud. A tear falls through my closed eye.

“Don’t go. Zhen really miss you. Stay by my side.”

I felt him kiss me tenderly on the lips before I felt asleep.

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Comment:
臣妾先告退 (chen qie xian gao tui): I’ll leave first
臣妾 (chen qie): what an emperor’s wives call themselves in front of him.
儿臣(erchen): what the royal children call themself in front of their parents.
Pipa (琵琶) – pear-shaped fretted lute with 4 or 5 strings
Guqin (古琴) – 7-stringed zither
皇上驾到 (huang shang jia dao): what the enuch announce when the empror is coming.

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