Back at the palace all felt the same and yet somewhere in my heart all was not the same anymore. The first time I set foot on this ground, I wanted to escape, because of the marriage. After knowing that he was Xuan Chen, I thought that I could give up my freedom for this man. Then this ground turned into my home. But now I’m setting foot on this ground again and it didn’t feel like home anymore.
I stood at the entrance of the palace, looking around. My eyes swept past those long stairs; to the left there’s a long passage and to the right there’s also a long passage. On those passages were many guards. So many new faces.
I took a deep breath. I felt the hand on my hand tightening. It seemed like he’s reassuring me that all will be alright. I looked at the man beside me and smiled. He also gave me a smile. From afar we must look like two people who are in love and supporting each other.
His personal eunuch and Ming Kuang came running to us. They bowed and together we walked inside. Many palace servants stopped with what they were doing and looked at us. They didn’t dare to look openly, but they looked discretely. I can already imagine how the gossips will be. The exiled empress is back. The emperor personally came to pick her up. Should we be wary of her? Didn’t they say that she will be deposed?
I couldn’t help but smile thinking about it.
“Why are you smiling?”
“Just thinking about things.”
He looked me in the eyes.
“I know that you’ve suffered much. I promise you that in the days that I’m still breathing, you won’t have to suffer anymore.”
“Do you want to come and live in my wing?”
I looked at him, surprised. Since the beginning of history, the emperor and the empress lived in apart wings. The emperor has many wives, it’ll be inconvenient if the empress lived with him.
“Are you sure? But this isn’t right.”
“What’s not right about it? Can’t a husband live with his wife?”
“That’s not it. You’re the emperor and this is against the regulations.”
“I don’t care about those damn regulations. I’m the emperor, but I’m also your husband. These past few months, when you were gone, I nearly went crazy from missing you. I want to be with you day and night. An Ning, I really really want to be your husband only. Can you come and stay with me?”
“You’re not mine. You’re the country’s.”
“And you’re the mother of that country.”
“Xuan Chen, I need to think about it.”
“Since when did you begin to like thinking so much?”
“Tch, as if you don’t think.”
“I think only about you.”
I smiled without thinking.
“When did you become a flirt?”
“Since the day you robbed my heart.”
“Should I give it back?”
“It has always been yours, and it always will be.”
I looked at him and said with a smile: “I threw it away.”
“Doesn’t matter. This heart of mine and yours is like a dog. Once it has chosen its owner, it’ll come back to her. No matter how far it’s thrown, it’ll always come back to her.”
I laughed and looked away from those penetrating eyes.
“Then, I can do what I want with it.”
“Just don’t break it.”
“Alright, I’ll just play with it until it’s nearly broken.”
I laughed and walked away very fast.
“You wicked woman,” he chased after me.
I was still laughing and running while looking back. I didn’t see the bunch of girls coming from the other side and bumped into them. One of them pushed me and I fell onto the ground. I stood up and smiled at them coldly.
“Insolent. How dare you bump into us? Don’t you want to live anymore?”
“Meimei1, don’t get angry with a lowly maid.”
They must be thinking I’m a new maid, because of my clothing. I was still dressed in the temple’s gray clothing.
“Yes, it isn’t worth it,” said another.
I kept my smile and looked at them coldly.
“Apologize and we’ll let you off.”
At the beginning, I was planning on apologizing. It was after all my fault. But now I don’t want to.
“I don’t want to.”
“Look, look at this insolent thing.”
“Look at how she’s glaring at us. She must be looking down on us.”
“How dare you glare at us,” one of them raised her hand, probably to hit me, when Xuan Chen finally appeared.
They changed their attitude so fast and began batting their eyes. It was so amusing to see.
Xuan Chen didn’t even look at them. He stood beside me and asked: “Are you hurt?”
I shook my head.
“Huangshan, that lowly maid bumped into us and didn’t apologize.”
“Huangshang, we’re your wives. How could you take the side of that lowly servant?”
Xuan Chen looked at me with a glint of guilt in his eyes. My expression didn’t change.
“Yes, are you afraid now?”
Xuan Chen didn’t speak. I made an “humpf” sound and walked away.
“That lowly…how dare she….”
Xuan Chan didn’t bother with them and went after me, while yelling: “An Ning, let me explain.”
I kept walking really fast. I wasn’t mad. Somewhere deep in me, I expected this. It was foolish of me to think he can be mine alone. I was so foolish, so foolish.
I arrived at the Palace of Earthly Tranquility. All is still the same. Someone must’ve really taken care of my flowers. They bloomed really beautifully. I plucked one and inhaled the scent.
“An Ning, hear my explanation. I…”
I put my hand on his lips.
“There’s no need.”
“As long as your heart is mine, I don’t care about anything else.”
“Because I’ve grown up.”
The last month, I didn’t get any inspiration. Now, hopefully I’m back.
- Meimei: what they call girls younger than them.