Chapter 158: Keeping silent, she's self-aware
Princess Rongle has come to pay a call?
Everyone in the city knew about the engagement ceremony between Marquis Pingbei and the Duke of Qin's estate. Wasn't it a little improper for Duanmu Yao to come calling now? Still, she knew how to pick a good time. Right when everyone else left, she came knocking. Han Yunxi couldn't help by suspect that this woman had made sure Long Feiye was home before picking a good time to drop by. Did she really need to go to such lengths to see her senior brother?
"Aiya, Yao Yao's finally come by!" Grand Concubine Yi finally smiled after wearing a long face all day. A single 'Yao Yao' was proof enough of her familiarity with Duanmu Yao. Han Yunxi couldn't help but think that Duanmu Yao and Long Feiye would make a perfect couple if she married into the Duke of Qin's estate. They were both men and women of talent, well-matched in social and economic status.
What would their wedding look like? Most likely, even more grand than today's procession by Marquis Pingbei's estate. Grand Concubine Yi and Long Feiye would probably be waiting long by the gates to receive the bride. Even if she dug out her heart to think of ways to get closer to Grand Concubine Yi, Duanmu Yao could easily ruin everything when she came. Grand Concubine Yi liked daughter-in-laws that made herself look better. When Han Yunxi recalled how she'd stepped over the threshold herself on her wedding day, a sense of bitter pain rose in her heart.
Before Grand Concubine Yi spoke up, Long Feiye had already waved his hand to let Gui mama bring their guest in. Han Yunxi glanced at him before silently turning to leave. You could call her an ostrich trying to hide from reality, but she didn't like these kinds of scenes. She only wanted her own niche in the household without vying for anything more.
Unexpectedly, she'd hardly gone towards the door when Grand Concubine Yi called out, "Yunxi, where are you going?"
"Chenqie suddenly feels a little dizzy and wants to go back and rest," Han Yunxi threw out a random excuse, not even wanting to look back.
It was Long Feiye that suddenly answered her. "Since your head hurts, go back and rest. Better that than committing a breach of etiquette."
Committing a breach of etiquette?
Han Yunxi gave a slight start before inexplicably smiling. He didn't want her here to greet Duanmu Yao as the hostess of the house, right? Really, there was no need for him to worry. She had enough self-awareness to keep quiet when she came.
Grand Concubine Yi said earnestly, "Yao Yao isn't some outsider, so there's no need to worry about breaching etiquette. Moreover, we'll all be one family in the future, so it's good to get familiar."
Her words made Han Yunxi feel as if something hard had rammed into her, leaving her head all muddled. She really had difficulty recovering her wits. Were Duanmu Yao's attempts to marry into the Duke of Qin's estate not rumors after all? Had Grand Concubine Yi already agreed to it tacitly? She finally turned around to look at Long Feiye, only to catch him looking at her as well. But it was only a glance before he shifted his eyes away. He didn't seem to show any reaction to Grand Concubine Yi's words.
"Yunxi, come here," Grand Concubine Yi beckoned with her hand. Han Yunxi could only walk over to sit by her side. "Yunxi, Yao Yao is Feiye's junior sister and a famously talented girl. In the future you two will have more chances to get along, so take the chance to learn more from her," Grand Concubine Yi explained.
Han Yunxi smiled coldly in her heart. Grand Concubine Yi had been looking after Murong Wanru's affairs for one day and one night so she hadn't gotten the chance to hear about everything else that had happened at the Plum Blossom Meet. She was actually telling her to learn from Duanmu Yao?
She kept her smile in her heart and didn't explain a thing. She knew that Grand Concubine Yi liked Duanmu Yao, not necessarily for her talents, but her celebrated fame. Western Zhou's imperial princess, daughter to the first wife of the emperor, Celestial Mountain Sword Sect's talented female disciple-having a daughter-in-law like this was a source of pride. Nobody would say anything about the Duke of Qin wedding a commoner or useless trash then. After all her efforts to get rid of that white lotus Murong Wanru, who expected Duanmu Yao to follow after her footsteps?
She wouldn't vie for anything, but would the other party permit her to remain at the estate? Would she allow her to take half of the title as Qin Wangfei?
Very soon, Duanmu Yao arrived by herself. Gui mama respectfully followed behind, carrying three gifts in her hands. Those not in the know might even assume Gui mama was a servant that Duanmu Yao had brought along herself. Today, Duanmu Yao was still dressed in white, but the edges of her skirt were embellished with fragmented flowers in plum blossom pink. She was originally a girl who possessed an otherworldly beauty like a goddess, but this outfit only made her appear even more celestial.
She walked with deliberate steps forward and immediately bowed towards Grand Concubine Yi with a soft smile. "Ten thousand blessings to Grand Imperial Concubine."
"You're excused, excused. Come come come, let me have a good look at you. I haven't seen you in years," Grand Concubine Yi's heart was filled with light, her delight at seeing Duanmu Yao obvious.
Duanmu Yao walked over without sparing Han Yunxi a glance, sitting right between her and Grand Concubine Yi. The seat of honor could only fit two people at most, so Han Yunxi was about to move away when Grand Concubine Yi spoke.
"Yunxi, you go sit on the side."
Han Yunxi secretly rolled her eyes. I was planning to move anyways, all right?
A smug look passed through Duanmu Yao's eyes as she grinned and asked, "Senior Brother, last time I told you to bring me to Grand Imperial Concubine so I could say hello. Did you forget?"
"I forgot," Long Feiye replied simply.
"You've been like this ever since you were little!" Duanmu Yao looked at him askance before explaining herself. "Grand Imperial Concubine, Yao Yao wanted to pay my respects as soon as I arrived at the capital, but I was unfortunately delayed until today. Yao Yao came this time just to bring you good things!" As she spoke, Gui mama handed over the presents.
"This is Celestial Monuntain's largest tuber fleeceflower, just picked this year. You can use it to blacken your hair or soothe your nerves. If you take a bit everyday, I guarantee that your hair will still be black after ten years."
Grand Concubine Yi loved it to bits. "You lass, you know how to have heart!"
"Now you know my good points, right?" Duanmu Yao said charmingly. Those who didn't know might even assume she was Grand Concubine Yi's daughter.
"And also, this portion is for Wanru. After hearing about her..." Duanmu Yao trailed off before she continued. "Aye, she only went to that room because she was worried about her sister-in-law. It's a pity..."
Han Yunxi's head gaze rose up at these words. What a Duanmu Yao. She hadn't even married into the household yet and she was already trying to create distance between her and Grand Concubine Yi? Wouldn't things be even more dire in the future? Grand Concubine Yi furrowed her brows as she looked at Han Yunxi and sighed, but didn't speak.
"Since it's already come to this, Grand Imperial Concubine should set her worries at rest so she won't harm her body. It's fortunate that Marquis Pingbei's estate is a old and rich, influential family. Little sister Wanru won't lose any status when she marries over. With you and His Highness supporting her, she won't suffer a bit!" Duanmu Yao was certainly skilled in comforting others. Each and every one of her lines undid a knot in Grand Concubine Yi's heart.
"All right now, let's not speak of such things. You coming here has already put my heart to rest," Grand Concubine Yi smiled lightly.
"Then Yao Yao will spend the New Year's with you, how's that?" Duanmu Yao asked.
Grand Concubine Yi was delighted. "Don't just say things to make me happy."
"Then we'll have to see if senior brother agrees," Duanmu Yao said with a pout as she looked towards Long Feiye. Grand Concubine Yi looked over as well, leaving Han Yunxi the only one with her head bowed, staring at the teacup in her hands.
Long Feiye cast a glance at Han Yunxi and saw that she looked completely indifferent. For no reason at all, he suddenly felt annoyed and replied coldly, "Mufei can decide."
Grand Concubine Yi was puzzled that it'd be so easy to talk terms with her son. She'd heard of this junior sister from years ago and had wished the two could marry. But it was hard to bring up the topic when Duanmu Yao's identity was so particular. Now that Western Zhou wanted to make an alliance through marriage, Emperor Tianhui had bowed before the pressure to follow its lead in picking a marriage partner. Everything had gone smoothly so far, but the last obstacle was the hardest one of all: her son. She'd tried to sound him out on the matter long before, but he'd refused every time.
Yet, recently she heard that this son had accompanied Yao Yao for an entire day. The palace was rife with rumors about it. It looked like they had some weight! A delighted Grand Concubine Yi took Duanmu Yao's hand. "Then it's decided. This year you'll...stay here to spend the New Year's."
Duanmu Yao was overjoyed at her unexpected gain. She didn't expect things to go so smoothly with her senior brother, either. Long Feiye didn't protest, while Han Yunxi kept her head bowed. Both of them remained silent. It was then that Duanmu Yao walked down to sit by Long Feiye's side with a mysterious smile.
"Senior brother, the last present is for you! Guess what it is?"
"I don't know." Long Feiye's words were bland, but in the end he'd still replied her.
Duanmu Yao was again surprised. After all, in the past years she'd tried all sorts of excuses to give her senior brother gifts, but every time he'd tell her, 'No need.' Now that he'd answered her question, did this mean that he was willing to communicate with her? Willing to accept her? The fact was, she hadn't been able to find a trace of him after they spent that day together. If not for the engagement ceremony today, she'd probably still be trying to find him.
"Senior brother, guess. This is something from our Celestial Mountain. When Master saw it, he said you'd be sure to like it!" Duanmu Yao said happily.
"Can't guess it," Long Feiye replied, as bland as ever.
Duanmu Yao scooted closer, acting like a spoiled child. "Senior brother, just take one guess. Just one is enough!"
Han Yunxi finally lifted her head to look at them, one tactiturn, one spoiled; one handsome as an Immortal, one beautiful like a Celestial. She really felt from the bottom of her heart that these two people were a perfect match, as if Heaven had created them to be an ideal like two sides of a ceremonial jade piece.
While she stared dumbstruck, Long Feiye actually made his one guess. "Snow wine."
Duanmu Yao was so thrilled that she gave a cry and hugged him by the arm. "Senior brother, you! You actually remembered! It's been ten years, but I didn't expect you to still remember!" She let go right after she spoke to take out a flask of snow wine. "Ten years ago, I buried this just for you. I thought you'd forget."
So they'd known each other for that long!
Han Yunxi suddenly thought of a saying. There's only one chance in every lifetime. If I miss you by one second, my life will be devoid of that second that belongs to you. Even in our next life, we might not meet again.
They already knew each other from ten years ago. He was already willing to remember the events of ten years ago. That really was nice...
Han Yunxi heaved a quiet sigh as she lifted her tea for a sip. Long Feiye was only saying whatever came to mind, but never expected to guess the right answer. He accidentally caught sight of Han Yunxi, but only saw her sitting there drinking tea with her head bowed. She seemed both leisurely and comfortable.
At last, his cold and chilly face abruptly turned even chillier. He didn't understand Han Yunxi's behavior. At first she'd given her all to forcefully step in his doors and marry him. But today, she was acting completely aloof. What did that woman take him as? She'd claim ties of kinship with those in higher position if she wanted? And when she got tired of playing around, she'd completely retreat? For what? Was she just holding onto the title of Qin Wangfei as a joke?
"Senior brother, do you want to talk about things? It's been ten years!" Duanmu Yao was still lost in her own joy.
"We can talk about it in the evening. Stay here and have dinner." This was the first time that Long Feiye had ever kept a guest back.
"Okay!" Duanmu Yao nodded immediately, afraid that Long Feiye would change his mind. Her heart was surging with emotions. Grand Concubine Yi was thrilled as well, and immediately order Gui mama to prepare for the evening meal. Meanwhile, Han Yunxi watched with hooded eyes. It looks like Long Feiye won't be travelling away after all. After the New Year's we'll probably have two marriages taking place at the Duke of Qin's estate.
Duanmu Yao's eyes flickered with disdain when she realized that Han Yunxi hadn't said a word. Still, she wasn't planning to let her off.
"That's right, esteemed wangfei. I came in too much of a rush and didn't prepare a gift for you. You won't blame me, right?" she asked earnestly.
Han Yunxi raised her head, indifferent and self-possessed. "I wouldn't." She didn't value such things.
But Duanmu Yao kept up her provoking questions. "Esteemed wangfei, I forgot to ask you just then. You don't mind if I spend the New Year's here, do you?"
 tuber fleeceflower () - used in China as a tonic and anti-aging agent.