Yu Huang Rong went straight to Luan Xin’s study. When he arrived, it was empty though. He raised his brows and looked around. Shouldn’t his friend be here at this time, handling some documents or something? How come he couldn’t be seen at all?
He pursed his lips and went over to the table, sitting down with a huff. Wherever Luan Xin was, he would return here later on. He just had to wait until then. In the meantime, he might as well ponder the tasks Madam Yan had given him.
Yu Huang Rong fetched himself a scroll of paper, ground the ink and picked up a brush. Mn, finding out about these women and coming up with opportunities for their parents to meet. The women could be left to Luan Xin. That should get them the best results. As for the opportunities …
He knocked the end of the brush against the table and pondered. If he remembered correctly, the autumn hunt should be coming up in about a month or so? Maybe that would be an opportunity to have their fathers meet? He could also try to leave Mister Zhang with a good impression himself at that opportunity. Ah, he should leave some of that to Luan Xin as well. He could arrange for them to travel together or something.
Yu Huang Rong pursed his lips. Well, that was one opportunity but it was still far away and it wouldn’t be enough by far. If their fathers didn’t hit it right off and became best friends, it would hardly get them anywhere. After all, his father had returned from being stationed on the battlefield all year round a while ago and spent most of his time in the capital, taking care of the matters here. He had certainly seen Mister Zhang every now and then. Since they weren’t friends yet, they had to push things further. Just letting them meet wasn’t enough.
Eh? Maybe he should get them to go and drink together? With a few flasks of wine shared among them, their relationship should advance by leaps and bounds, shouldn’t it? He grinned to himself but couldn’t help but shake his head at himself the next moment. He didn’t remember Mister Zhang very well but if he was anything like his son, he also had to be the scholarly type. He definitely wouldn’t be able to best his father in drinking. No, if he wasn’t careful, his future father-in-law might even collapse and make his father look down on him while he would think of his father as a boorish brute. He definitely couldn’t let that happen!
So, no drinking. Then what else? Let them have a discussion about literature? His father would grow bored out of his mind! Even if he tried to make them discuss the Art of War, it wouldn’t work. He could already imagine his father grumbling how these scholars that only ever stayed in their studies and knew nothing but books believed they knew everything while they were actually blind but trying to speak of color. Simply delusional!
In other words: This wouldn’t work either. Yu Huang Rong sighed to himself and played around with the brush. Mn, two very different people … just what did they have in common?
He thought back to the day before and raised his brows. It seemed Qian Mu Qing and he were also very different people but they had managed to look past those differences when they discussed some general topics and then played a round of weiqi. Actually, strategizing was something that was needed in battle and in business as well. And thinking complicated matters through was also something that scholars like Mister Zhang would do. So maybe this could also work with his father and future father-in-law?
Well, at the very least, it was worth a try. If it didn’t work out, they wouldn’t have lost anything but they might gain a lot if it worked. Now, the only question was how to get these two to play together. He pondered the issue but couldn’t come up with anything. Well, at the very least, he had an idea of what to accomplish. Maybe Zhang Shi Lan would be able to come up with a way to make them do it. It wasn’t impossible at the very least.
Then other than that … Maybe he could —
The door to the corridor leading to Luan Xin’s chambers opened, startling him out of his thoughts. Ah, finally! It seemed Luan Xin had come back. He turned to the door, wanting to scold him for taking so long but the person didn’t appear. Instead, the footsteps turned to the room next door.
Yu Huang Rong sighed and got up. He really didn’t want to wait until Luan Xin finished whatever he thought he should do. Just when he took a single step, the sound of something dropping to the floor could be heard. The rustling of clothes followed, making Yu Huang Rong awkwardly stop in his tracks. Oh … Maybe he shouldn’t go over after all. It seemed this wasn’t a good time. Come to think of it, it was still rather early. Luan Xin had probably attended morning court and wanted to get out of his ceremonial robes right now. He should have thought of that before.
Yu Huang Rong turned back and wanted to sit down when a thump sounded from the other room. He furrowed his brows and looked back.
“They were really, really getting on my nerves.” Luan Xin’s voice sounded from the other room, his tone whiny. “How could you just watch?”
“What do you want me to do? Pretend there are assassins attacking the palace so you can get away from your duties?”
“Well, that would be one way …”
“Forget it. What kind of signal would that be to your people if there were assassins every day? And whose head would you take in response? Isn’t the one in care of the guards here your friend’s father?”
“Ah …” Luan Xin cleared his throat. “Well, I guess we can’t do that then. But shouldn’t you do something to make me feel better now at least?” The silent rustling of clothes accompanied his last words.
“Don’t play around.”
“Ah, don’t be like this! We’re alone and nobody will come over in the foreseeable future so …”
“So you’ve turned into a fortuneteller?”
“No, I’m still just the emperor. And as such I’m sure that nobody will come in if I don’t call.” The words were followed by the sound of a pair of lips meeting skin and a silent sigh of satisfaction.
Yu Huang Rong awkwardly looked in the other direction, wondering if he would be able to get out of the room without being noticed. Unfortunately, he didn’t think so. Judging from the hoarse voice, the person inside the room with Luan Xin should be the captain of his secret guards, She Ning. Since that guy had been able to spy on him and Zhang Shi Lan the other day without him noticing, he would certainly know if somebody moved in the room next door. So if he didn’t want to make this even more awkward … He should better stay where he was and pretend to be a flower vase.
Yu Huang Rong rubbed his forehead and barely held back a curse. He couldn’t believe that he was actually witnessing something like this. Although … Well, now he knew for sure that something had really been going on between these two. Not that he was surprised at that. With how the two of them had behaved the last time he saw them, it had been quite likely that this was the case.
Well, he would’ve liked it if Luan Xin just told him. He really didn’t need to be present to witness this! This was too awkward! Ah, he should better make sure that Luan Xin never found out that he had been here while this happened. He had to silently get away when the two of them were finished.
Even though he had that plan, he still had to wait until things were over and from the sounds of it, that wasn’t going to be anytime soon. Yu Huang Rong turned away and tried to think of something else. Unfortunately, the ambiguous sounds from next door made that impossible. Excuse him, but he just wasn’t able to think of any kind of meeting his father and father-in-law might have while he had to listen to his best friend in that kind of situation.
Thus the only thought that remained was of Luan Xin and that captain of his secret guards. It wasn’t a good thought. Well, it wasn’t a bad one either. He just had mixed feelings about this.
On one hand, that guy was strong so having him as his lover would give Luan Xin another layer of protection. That was great! After all, the emperor was probably the person in the whole country that suffered from assassination attempts the most. There were just too many people that had an interest in seeing him dead.
On the other hand … Why hadn’t he known about this?! How long had this even been going on? Listening to them, they seemed quite experienced at this. Why had Luan Xin never mentioned this? Ah! To think that this guy had had the gall to chew him out the other day because he hadn’t told him that he was in love with Zhang Shi Lan! What was being in love compared to being in an actual relationship?!
Alright, maybe his crush on Zhang Shi Lan had been going on longer than whatever kind of relationship these two had but … but still! If Luan Xin had told him that he was also interested in men, then he might not have felt as awkward and told him about Zhang Shi Lan long ago!
Yu Huang Rong gritted his teeth. If it wasn’t so awkward to have listened in on the two of them, he’d really like to give Luan Xin a piece of his mind for this!
In the room next door, the two of them finally came to an end. Yu Huang Rong almost heaved a sigh of relief. Finally! It was probably time to leave then. He turned to look at the door and tightened his lips. The problem was … even if he went now, wouldn’t that guy hear him? Ah, but maybe he would fall asleep? After all, he should have expended quite a bit of energy for that right now?
Yu Huang Rong hesitated but finally turned around. Even if that guy wasn’t asleep, he wouldn’t just rush out butt-naked, would he? So as long as he was fast … He rushed to the door but just then, that hoarse voice sounded from the other room and his words made him freeze with his hand on the door.
“That friend of yours went to the matchmaking pavilion today.”
Luan Xin only gave a noncommittal grunt as if he didn’t care at all.
“You don’t want to hear the rest?”
This time, a groan answered him. “You can tell me the rest later.”
“Ah Ning, are you being serious? Didn’t we just do that so I could take my mind off things? How come you’re mentioning something that’ll make my head hurt again?”
“As long as it’s only your head that hurts and not your heart …”
In the study, Yu Huang Rong’s eyes narrowed. What was this supposed to mean now?