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That day, Fang Hua told me a few other things, but my memory was too hazy to remember. My entire body felt dizzy and heavy, though I managed to hold on to one thing: Han Zichuan was a very special person. Fang Hua thought he was very special.
I couldn’t describe the feelings I felt upon hearing those words… I could only toss and turn on the bed, my eyes open the entire night.
Dawn came around five to seven in the morning, when I heard a noise.
I tidied myself up a bit, tied my sash and opened the door, only to see Fang Hua standing outside, a fresh green willow branch behind his back. Soft light spilled on his person, creating a vision so beautiful that it seemed irreverent and profane to even set eyes on his person.
“Aren’t you going to let me in?” he smiled softly.
“Yifu, look at what you’re saying.” I didn’t even have time to move out of the way or invite him myself before he brushed me aside and walked indoors. He looked around a bit, brows furrowing, before heading towards the bed. Lifting up his robes, he took a seat.
He really acted casually around me.
“Shao’er, why are you being so distant?” he raised his head and looked over, smiling as he patted the space beside him.
I did as told, sticking my butt to sit by a corner.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to get closer.
Just, whenever I smelled the fragrance of flowers wafting off his person, I would start thinking of all sorts of foolish fancies, wondering exactly what the relationship was between him and Han Zichuan. Perhaps…
Han Zichuan was Fang Hua’s real foster son.
Fang Hua sighed and turned around. I gave a start, heart pounding. Truthfully speaking, I didn’t know when I started reacting like this. I only knew my beating heart carried a feeling that was almost unbearable, yet hard to understand.
“Shao’er, look at you. You’re agitated again.”
I forced a smile. “Did yifu come looking for something from me?”
“I told Zichuan to prepare some clothes for you, see if they fit.” His hands touched a wrapped-up bundle of clothing resting on his knees.
“Yifu, the clothes you give me have all been too big. There’s still robes from last year in the wardrobe that I’ve been saving. I haven’t worn them yet.”
He smiled as he looked at me, trying to control his expression. Fingers shaking, he opened up the cloth packaging.
Inside was a unique, brightly-colored pale pink fabric. Beneath that was a dark red silk embroidered with apricots and butterflies.
I blinked a few times.
Was this for me to wear?
Why was it so girly?
His eyes were gentle and soft as a woman’s. “Zichuan picked this, the measurements are unmistakable. Next time I’ll have him get me one too. This material is really beautiful.”
I seized the package, trembling as I spread it open to thoroughly appraise it. It was the type of clothing worn by gentle and graceful females.
“You really want something like this too?” I was highly doubtful. He didn’t reply, but took my hand and spoke.
“Shao’er, I didn’t think enough of you these few years. I neglected many things.” He tilted his head slightly, giving me another smile. My heart violently shrank back. Panicked, I quickly averted my eyes, feeling my ears burning. All I could hear was that furious thumpthump pounding uncontrollably.
Yifu, you beautiful blockhead.
It’s not just females, but I bet all the men in the world who saw your face would have the same reaction.
“What are you spacing out for? Why not hurry up and change into those clothes?”
I nodded and hid behind the folding screen, dazedly lifting the two layers of fabric. I moved them around a bit and finally slipped them on.
It felt a little weird.
Though I couldn’t tell exactly how…
Before when I put on my robes, they were wide and loose, with lots of extra space left over.
This time, I could only feel that these clothes were a bit tight. I lifted my hand, using my sleeve to cover my chest, and awkwardly walked back out.
He got up involuntarily from the bed, slowly looking me up and down, his eyes especially bright.
“What is it?” I tugged and pulled at the material. “Does yifu think it’s a bit strange?”
“I wouldn’t.” He gently stroked my face, smilingly softly. “Shao’er, you’ve really grown up.”
I blanked out.
He took my hands and brought me before the mirror, pressing lightly on my shoulders so I could sit down, and started to comb my hair…
Though I’d lived with Fang Hua for so long, he’d never been so intimate with me outside of occasional bouts during his drunken periods. The way he was acting now made me feel a little restless.
As seen in the bronze mirror, his bearing was refined and elegant. Though his face was filled with a harmonious warmth, he still exuded a tranquil mildness, and the teardrop-shaped mole at the corner of his eye was a dark red that startled one to see.
Recently, he’d been acting a little differently than usual. To be closer to a person was obviously a good thing…why did I feel so disturbed and extremely uneasy?
He rolled up his sleeves and grabbed the wooden hairpin off the table, sticking it through my hair with a tilt of his head.
“Shao’er, I’d like to request one thing from you.”
I saw the careful, cautious expression on his face, leaning in so close to me. The two people in the mirror looked like they were about to touch.
His breaths brushed against my temples as a strong sense of joy rose within me. This feeling…was like a fine rain falling within my heart, carrying with it a sense of impatient anticipation.
Not just one request. Even if he asked for the hardest thing in the world, I’d still do it for him if I could.
I raised my face in excitement. “As long as yifu tells me to, I’ll do it.”
“Is that so.” he smiled.
I hurriedly nodded my head. Even if it was something like taking these clothes back off, I’d still do it…
“Let me check your pulse…”
Confused, I nevertheless gave him my hand.
His eyes brightened, “Can you describe your symptoms to me?”
“Swollen stomach, sore muscles in the legs, occasional stomachaches…”
“That’s really, really, wonderful.” I don’t know where he got ink, brush and paper from as he recorded these details, the other hand still feeling my pulse. He raised his eyes to look at me with great eagerness. “What else?”
I really want to find someone to squash him.
Even if I squashed him, my anger still wouldn’t be satisfied.
Thus, I was subjected to his repeated questioning for the time it takes three incense sticks to burn.
He still had enough stamina to ask about this and that, but refrained from a physical examination. I endured…I endured until it was unbearable…up to the point that I started thinking of ways to drug him into sleeping.
Then, he suddenly got to his feet.
In the midst of rejoicing and standing up, I smiled at him and said, “Yifu, are you hungry? Getting ready to break off some flower stems and willow branches?”
He turned to look at me, eyes curving. “I have to go to the market and see if there’s any medical manuals for sale.”
You still wanted to read medical manuals at your level?
You who could make up pills on a whim that were worth two taels of gold?
“Although I was aware that two types of humans existed in the outside world, I never knew the boys and girls Zichuan mentioned were so different. From observing your pulse during this period of time, I can tell the differences are subtle, but too intriguing for words.”
Look at this guy…
He’s so excited.
“Can’t you just find things out from my pulse?”
“I want to read some books about expectant mothers, and how much medicine I should prescribe for females.”
I can’t help you there.
I looked away wordlessly.
He slowly turned, as if readying to leave.
Suddenly, I widened my eyes, remembering something. Within these streets…there were probably people looking for a person with a teardrop-shaped mole. If yifu went out, looking so beautiful and enticing, Nongyu would definitely find him.
“I’ll go I’ll go I’ll go… …yifu, you make a list, and I’ll buy it for you.”
He smiled, as if only too anxious to do so. Seeing him deliberate for the sake of saving silver, writing and crossing out titles of books again and again with a reluctant expression…I began to feel distressed for him in my heart.
I had two taels of gold.
Two taels! Of gold!!!
I tugged the paper out of his hands, retracing the titles he’d crossed out. I blew off the spots of ink on the paper and placed it inside my robes. He just looked at me with a lenient smile.
But who knew how pained his heart was inside…at the thought of losing the household silver. I knew from early on that he was lazy when it came to concocting pills. I’m guessing that in order to acquire my new clothes, he spent most of the money in the house.
I sucked in a breath.
After a few days, I should just dig up the gold I buried in the dirt. Even if I kept it buried…it’s not like it’d grow another two taels.
So thinking, my steps grew light, and I gallantly ran to town, just thinking of how I’d secretly dig up the stash of gold leaves and paper money buried beneath the Wutong tree.
I thought it was strange.
Clearly I’d left home alone to buy the medical manuals, so why was Han Zichuan following behind me? And he kept staring so earnestly towards my back, enough for his gaze to turn me numb. Though, speaking of which, I suddenly realized…
The people in town were acting oddly too. One by one, refined-looking young men walked past me, their eyes filled with lust…it made me feel…
I couldn’t help but tremble a bit.
Han Zichuan grabbed my hand just in time, his eyes scanning my face.
“I don’t even know if dressing you like this helped you or hurt you.” Afterwards, he lightly pinched my hand. “Remember, you’re a girl. Would any lady walk as carelessly and casually as this?”
“What are you doing here?”
He smiled. “Only Fang Hua would be fine with you coming out alone in front of all these men.”
Suddenly, his eyes spotted something behind me, and he said happily, “Wait a bit, I’m going to buy something.”
“What are you buying…”
In a flash, he had disappeared, only leaving the cloth sign in front of the shop to proclaim its wares in the wind… …eee? A store for selling rouge?
Hmph, how could he have any money.
This?! He was hiding a pouch of money!!!
When we went back, I was going to tell Fang Hua. My feelings of discontent surged within my heart…I couldn’t speak anymore.
Suddenly, someone tapped me on the shoulder.
I turned around and happened to see Nongyu there with a fan, a large retinue following him as usual. The joy on his face, coupled with the stunned look in his eyes, was indescribable. “It’s really you…Younger Brother Shào?”
“Or perhaps I should call you…” he skillfully snapped his fan and drew closer with a smile. “Younger Sister Shào?”
What ‘young brother, younger sister’ are you babbling about.
I’m not that close to you.
“Who are you waiting for?” he looked around us.
“Of course I’m waiting for…” I smiled back, “My beloved.”
The smile on his face became a little forced.
“Shao’er, let’s go.” Han Zichuan was holding something in a red paper bag as he emerged from the store. His eyes happened to land on Nongyu, and his face froze.
Nongyu’s reaction was even more exaggerated. For a long time, he stared at Han Zichuan with a stricken expression, face filled with amazement. Clutching his fan, he suddenly swept aside his robes and fell to his knees.
“Your servant pays respects to His Imperial Highness, the Crown Prince!”
Thumping noises rang out all around us…
Everyone was kneeling.
 Brother Shào (??) ?Shao’er told Nongyu her name was Shào Yu back in chapter 20.Again, the Shào here is pronounced differently than the one in Shao’er.  not that close (???) ?bu tai shou, the term she’s using here means “not that familiar”, “not that intimate”, aka they’re acquaintances at most, or maybe friendly strangers.
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