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Jun Qian Che looks at Mo Qi Qi and can sense her anger. His heart becomes somewhat happier.
Mo Qi Qi looks back at him and gives him a perfunctory smile.
As for Ya Xian, she becomes really happy after receiving his praise. She eats happily.
Mo Qi Qi is curious. Is that fish really that good? It actually makes Jun Qian Che smile. She takes a small piece of the fish, "I also want to try Ya Xian's fish."
She eats the small piece while Ya Xian looks at her nervously.
"How is it, Your Ladys.h.i.+p? Do you like it?"
Mo Qi Qi nods, "It's so good! No wonder it made His Majesty smile, it tastes really good! It tastes even better than mine! Xiao Xian, you really must teach me how to make this one day!"
When Jun Qian Che sees her smiling so happily, displeasure fills his heart. She is not jealous of even Xiao Xian anymore. She has changed.
Ya Xian smiles shyly upon receiving Mo Qi Qi's praise, "Xiao Xian is happy that Your Ladys.h.i.+p likes it. You like cooking as well, Your Ladys.h.i.+p?"
The Empress used to hate the smell of kitchens. Whenever someone from the kitchen pa.s.sed by her, she would cover her nose while frowning at the person. A good round of scolding would usually follows.
"Of course! Cooking can be very fulfilling, especially if you receive other people's nods of approval. But still, it is better to cook only for someone that you actually like. Otherwise, it can get pretty pointless," she glares at Jun Qian Che angrily upon saying that.
Jun Qian Che is suddenly reminded of the tableful of dishes that she made that night. Did she make it for the person that she likes? Unluckily for her, he came by and ruined her good will.
Inside the dining hall, some people are eating happily, while some are brooding.
After lunch, Mo Qi Qi stifles a yawn. In the end, she cannot take it anymore and stands up, "Imperial Grandmother, Imperial Mother, Qi Qi is too sleepy. Qi Qi would like to request to leave first."
The Empress Dowager frowns at her, "You have been away for so long and has just returned. You should keep the Grand Empress Dowager company even more. Even Imperial Mother has not rest, why are you unruly as to do it before her?"
Mo Qi Qi lowers her head, aggrieved. Jun Qian Che had insisted on continuing the journey even at night, so she had not had the chance to sleep. Now that she has returned to the palace, she has to keep all these people company. She truly is very sleepy.
Seeing this, Jun Qian Che quickly speaks up, "Imperial Mother, the Empress did not get to rest last night. It is better to let her rest first."
The Grand Empress Dowager laughs teasingly when she hears that, "Don't get so angry, Empress Dowager. From the way aijia looks at it, the Empress is really sleepy. It is normal for a young couple to give into indulgence when they are together. They have worked hard to continue the imperial line. They might have children soon, you should be happy instead."
Mo Qi Qi wants to choke herself to death when she hears that. The Grand Empress Dowager's imagination is too rich! And that Jun Qian Che— will speaking more words cost him gold? Will it kill him if he adds 'because we had to travel through the night'?
"Imperial Grandmother, things are not—-"
"That's enough, Imperial Grandmother knows that you are shy, we are not blaming you. Since you are sleepy, you should go and rest first. It has been hard on you," the Grand Empress Dowager smiles kindly.
Mo Qi Qi does not have the energy to correct her; let them misunderstand if they want to. After all, she is actually Jun Qian Che's wife in name.
After leaving Yong Shou Palace, Mo Qi Qi sighs in relief. The imperial family is just too tiring. They might be called family, but everything is full of rules and etiquette, even in speech. There is no sense of intimacy at all.
The moment she reaches her palace, she hits the sack and falls straight asleep.
As for Jun Qian Che, after leaving Yong Shou Palace, he heads towards the imperial study, forgoing rest. Although he is awake throughout the night just like Mo Qi Qi, he does not have the privilege to rest, owing to his ident.i.ty as the ruler of the kingdom.
Since he left the palace for a long period of time, there are a lot of things that he needs to catch up to, particularly in the court.
Duke Zhen and Chu Ling Xiao are already waiting for him inside the imperial study.
Jun Qian Che sits in front of the dragon desk as he looks at Duke Zhen and Chu Ling Xiao who are standing in front of him, "Did anything happen during zhen's absence?"
Duke Zhen speaks first without giving Chu Ling Xiao the chance to speak, "Please ease your worry, Your Majesty. With this official in charge, no one dared to create trouble."
Chu Ling Xiao helplessly shakes his head.
Jun Qian Che is very unhappy when he hears that, but he manages to keep a calm demeanor, "Duke Zhen has served the kingdom for three different courts, no one would dare to create trouble for you."
"Hahaha, Your Majesty allowed this official to be in charge, this official naturally dares not disappoint you. Don't worry, Your Majesty. The court will remain peaceful just the same even if you stay outside for a couple more months," says Duke Zhen proudly, as though the credit to keeping the kingdom safe lies only on his shoulders. He sounds as though the kingdom will perish without him.
Chu Ling Xiao simply stands on the sideline, not saying a word.
After asking about some things, Jun Qian Che says, "It has been hard on you, Duke Zhen. Now that zhen is back, you can rest a bit more."
"This official is not tired. If Your Majesty has no other things to ask, this official shall retreat first. It has been a while since this official saw the Empress. Who knew if she encountered any hards.h.i.+p during the trip this time," he turns around and walks away.
"Seems like Duke Zhen is a step too late. The Empress is tired from the journey and has gone to rest. You should not bother her resting," says Jun Qian Che.
Duke Zhen is shocked, as though he did not expect the Emperor to actually care about the Empress. After regaining his composure, he smiles while nodding, "Since it is so, this official will visit the Empress another time. This official shall take his leave first."
Duke Zhen left.
Jun Qian Che clenches his fists in anger.
Chu Ling Xiao sighs while shaking his head, "The old man Mo is getting more and more arrogant."
"One of these days, zhen will make him regret it. Did anything happen in court these past few days?" asks Jun Qian Che coldly.
"Nothing big really. Just, the old Mo has been reprimanding all the officials that used to offend him. Although he did not dare to do anything big because the Empress was with you, he did order a couple of officials to be hit. The rest of the officials are really scared of him now. Lucky you came back in time."
"Zhen will endure his arrogance for a couple more days. Go and inquire after the officials that he punished. They will be useful to us since they now hate Duke Zhen."
Chu Ling Xiao nods, "Yes, Your Majesty. General Han told this official that Your Majesty encountered a couple of a.s.sa.s.sination attempts this time. Are you alright?"
"Zhen is fine," Jun Qian Che does not want many people to know that he has gotten poisoned. It is not that he does not trust Chu Ling Xiao, he simply does not wish to worry him.
"Do you know who ordered those a.s.sa.s.sins?" asks Chu Ling Xiao.
A cold air fills Jun Qian Che eyes as he icily says, "Who else if not for them?"
"Since Your Majesty know that it is them, when will you retaliate?" whispers Chu Ling Xiao.
"Now is not the right time, they have been really careful as to not leave any trace leading back to them. If zhen suddenly attacks them, zhen will draw the court and the common people's ire for attacking someone without any basis," replies Jun Qian Che.
"You are right. But with them by your side, it is easy for them to attack you," says Chu Ling Xiao in worry.
Jun Qian Che does not share that view, "They will not. It will be too easy for zhen to link it back to them.
The night sky erases the last bit of light from the sky. Stars twinkle in the sky, like little bits of glittering sands on a dark canvas.
Mo Qi Qi has been sleeping since after lunch and is only slowly waking up now. She stretches her waist lazily as she sits up, "Feels so good."
"You are finally awake," says a cold, icy voice.
Mo Qi Qi snaps her head towards the direction of that voice in shock. She finds Jun Qian Che sitting on one of the seats nearby, casually staring at her.
She jumps down from the bed unhappily, "Why are you here, Your Majesty?" Why is this jerk here? Did he take advantage of her sleeping to sneak into her room? Why? Is he planning to do some other shady things?
Seeing her in a daze, Jun Qian Che snaps, "Stop thinking nonsense. Zhen is here to talk to you."
Hearing that, Mo Qi Qi lowers her guard a little and sits on the side of her bed, "What is so important as to make Your Majesty personally come over?"
"Duke Zhen wanted to visit you after lunch, but zhen stopped him and told him that you need to rest. He loves his daughter, so he will come back tomorrow. Zhen believes you know what you should or should not say," says Jun Qian Che calmly.
Unfortunately, the person it is intended to can only see it as threat and intimidation, "What do you mean, Your Majesty? Chenqie cannot understand you."
Jun Qian Che suddenly has the impulse to hit her in the head. She likes to act smart when she is not supposed to, but is unexpectedly dim-witted when she needs her wit the most.
When she sees the irritation on his face, she cautiously says, "Your Majesty, chenqie is not purposely angering you. Chenqie really does not know what the so-called 'things to say and things not to say' are. Maybe you should teach chenqie what to tell him, so that chenqie will not say anything wrong."
Jun Qian Che thinks for a moment before saying, "Never mind, up to you!"
Mo Qi Qi glares at him, dissatisfied, "What do you mean by 'up to you'? If I end up saying the wrong things, will you not punish me in retaliation?"
Jun Qian Che regards her icily, "You have said the wrong things enough. Zhen still remembers what you said at the bottom of the cliff."
Heart drumming heavily, Mo Qi Qi opts to play dumb, "Hehe, what did chenqie say? Chenqie does not remember."
Jun Qian Che gets up and sits next to her, looking at her.
Mo Qi Qi shuffles away from him in shock, putting some distance between them. She will never forget the way he forced her on this very bed that night. "Your Majesty, you—- Why are you looking at chenqie like that?"
"Didn't you forget what you said that day? Zhen wants to help you remember them. If zhen'smemory is right, this is what you said: Jun Qian Che, do you think you can still scare me? Do you honestly believe that I am afraid of you? You usually looked so lonely back in the palace, so I pitied you and allowed you to bully me. I, Mo Qi Qi, has never feared anyone ever since I was born! I was never truly scared of you. I only kept giving in to you to give you face, but you didn't know that and thought yourself so formidable! What a joke! Did zhen miss any word?"
Mo Qi Qi smiles flatteringly at him, "Hehe, chenqie was just joking with you, Your Majesty! Did you take them seriously?"
Might as well just kill her, G.o.d! That jerk's memory is too good. He actually remembers what she said, word by word! Wuwuwu, did she commit a huge sin in her past life?