In the end, Zhang Shi Lan just gave a smile. Whether Yu Huang Rong really meant it or not, it wouldn’t change anything. He loved this man anyway. “Alright, I got it. I’ll keep it in mind when I see him.”
Yu Huang Rong nodded. “Well, then I guess that’ll be the best opportunity we’ll have to make them meet. Can you think of someone you could introduce me to before that? The more people I’ll meet thanks to you, the more likely my father will be willing to come with me.”
“Well, there’s Ming Ru Shui that you already saw at the matchmaking pavilion. Our relationship when we were at the Academy was quite good so … I’m sure he’d agree. He probably has a good impression of you as well.”
Yu Huang Rong nodded. “That would be a good idea. It also shouldn’t be too obvious since I’ve seen him myself already. You’d basically be giving me an opportunity to get to know him better just like with Qian Mu Qing.”
“I also know some other people from the Academy. I just don’t know how useful it would be considering that they are all scholars.”
Yu Huang Rong squeezed his hand while raising his brows in a teasing manner. “What’s wrong with scholars? I actually like them very much.”
Zhang Shi Lan smiled in response. “You! Stay serious, ah!”
Yu Huang Rong didn’t say anything and just looked at Zhang Shi Lan’s hands in his. “Ming Ru Shui is a good idea. Let’s go with him first and see how it goes. Afterward, we can see if it would be a good idea to see some of those other scholars.”
Zhang Shi Lan nodded. “Then I’ll go and pay him a visit later this day. I’ll have to wait until my mother comes back from the pavilion though. I’m sure she’ll want to discuss with me afterward.”
Yu Huang Rong nodded. “Well, there’s no hurry. In fact, waiting a bit longer is also good. It shouldn’t be too obvious that way.”
Zhang Shi Lan lowered his head and then glanced up. “Then … will you leave now?”
“What?” Yu Huang Rong rubbed his ears and narrowed his eyes at Zhang Shi Lan. Had his lover just asked him to leave after he had barely arrived? “Shi Lan, I’m afraid I just misheard. Could you repeat that for me?”
Zhang Shi Lan took back his hands and got up, walking to the window and looking out. “You understood me. It’s not that I want you to leave, just that … You sneaked in, didn’t you? So the longer you stay here, the more likely somebody will discover you. We shouldn’t take that risk.”
Yu Huang Rong glanced around the room and finally pointed at a folding screen. “If somebody comes, I could still hide behind there. There’s really no reason for you to worry.” He also stood up and walked over, pulling Zhang Shi Lan into his arms.
“But it’s not just that, is it? What if somebody hears us talk? Or somehow you leave any traces behind and the servants see it. I just don’t want to take any risks. Not if that could possibly mean that we’d not be able to go through with this plan and marry in the end. I just don’t want to risk our future.”
Yu Huang Rong had originally wanted to dissuade his ideas and try to calm him down but hearing the last sentence, he couldn’t speak up. He tightly hugged Zhang Shi Lan to his chest, putting his chin on his shoulder and closing his eyes. He took a deep breath, before finally letting go and stepping back.
“Alright. If it makes you feel like that, then I will leave. I also won’t sneak in anymore in the future. If you really can’t wait to see you, I’ll just come and honestly knock on the front door. And even if we won’t be able to show it in public, when we go and meet Ming Ru Shui we’ll at least be able to see each other so … I guess it’s just a matter of a few days until then and maybe a few weeks or at most a few months until we will be able to spend every single day with each other. I’ll be able to take that.”
Zhang Shi Lan turned to him and his gaze softened. “Thank you. I know that this is hard for you but I really appreciate that you’re taking my opinion into consideration.”
Yu Huang Rong reached out and cupped Zhang Shi Lan’s cheek, his thumb caressing his skin. “That’s what I should do. Being a couple … I can’t just do things that are only to my benefit, can I? No, I think that if you love someone, you also have to honor their opinions and feelings. Otherwise, that’s not love.”
Zhang Shi Lan smiled and stepped closer, leaning over to kiss him on the lips. “I won’t mind as much in the future. Just that right now, it’s not the time yet. Just be patient. I also feel like these days when we can’t see each other yet are endless. But since the most important step has already been taken and we’re a couple now, we will be able to wait for a few more, won’t we?”
Yu Huang Rong nodded and embraced Zhang Shi Lan for the last time before he stepped away again. “Alright, don’t say anything more. Otherwise, I’m really not sure if I’ll be able to just leave. Which way is the shortest one out?”
Zhang Shi Lan turned back to the window and motioned at the courtyard. “I guess you can just go out there. Just through the corridor in front of the door and then you’ll be there. Let me take a look if somebody’s outside.”
Yu Huang Rong nodded and watched him open the window and look outside.
Zhang Shi Lan glanced around, even waiting for a moment and trying to see if he could hear anything. Nobody seemed to be around though. He looked at Yu Huang Rong and nodded. “Alright, you better leave now.”
Yu Huang Rong took a last look at him and then turned away, leaving the room and rushing into the courtyard. He took cover once again, making sure that nobody would be able to see him from inside either while listening for sounds at the same time. When he couldn’t hear anything, he finally rushed to the wall and once again flipped over.
He sighed when he landed back on the ground and shook his head. Even though he understood why Zhang Shi Lan thought this way and even though he would honor the promise he just made, he couldn’t help but feel despondent thinking about it.
In the future, they wouldn’t see each other very often. It would depend on chance encounters and the few plans they would be able to make. He didn’t feel that that was enough but what could he do? The situation right now wasn’t ideal. He could only wait for the day when he and Zhang Shi Lan would get officially engaged and finally marry. After that, he’d have to make up for everything they were missing out on now.
With that thought in mind, Yu Huang Rong returned to where his horse was waiting and finally rode home.
As for what was happening in the matchmaking pavilion … It wasn’t what Madam Yu and Madam Zhang had expected at all. One after the other they went in, only meeting briefly when Madam Yu went home. Unfortunately, Yu Huang Rong’s mother was preoccupied with her own thoughts and hardly took note of Madam Zhang.
She just didn’t understand. Hadn’t she come here to find out more about the girl that her son liked? Or even if she couldn’t find out who that specific girl was, shouldn’t she at least find out more about the girls that had taken part in the previous events and what kind of impression they made on Yu Huang Rong and the matchmaker? So how come she had merely been served tea and then asked about what she wanted of her son’s future spouse?
When she sat down in the carriage, she furrowed her brows. What kind of question was that even? Wasn’t it obvious what she wanted of a daughter-in-law? The girl should be a good wife and mother who was able to bear her son a few kids and raise them well. She should also be able to take a few of his worries off his shoulders and since he would be at the border for a long time each time he set out, she also had to be able to take care of the matters in the estate on her own so she had to be a little smart and know how to calculate. She definitely couldn’t make her son suffer any losses!
But all of that was so obvious that she really couldn’t understand why Madam Yan had to ask. And even if she had, shouldn’t she have asked at the very beginning? Why would she first let her son meet all those women before she took her opinion into consideration? What if none of them were suitable? Furthermore, that matchmaker still hadn’t told her who the women were!
That point was what angered her the most. Granted, she had already found out which girls had participated in the event but she still wanted to hear about them from the matchmaker! Why couldn’t she at least tell her the names! Or how her son had gotten along with them? Was that really asking too much?
Ah, this matchmaker! She really should have chosen somebody else! Who knew if her son would really find a wife like this? Right now, she wasn’t too sure. She understood nothing this woman did. What was it with these so-called events? Weren’t they just big shows? If this Madam Yan wasn’t married herself, she might even think she was using this opportunity to find herself a good husband. Hmph. As if her son could be won over that easily! He definitely wouldn’t fall for a schemer.
Well, thinking of that, at the very least, Yu Huang Rong seemed to have found somebody he liked. She really doubted that it was thanks to this Madam Yan though. It was all just because of her son’s own actions. Since he had decided to get married this year, he obviously wouldn’t hold back and look for a bride seriously.
When Madam Zhang left the matchmaking pavilion a while later, she had the very same questions floating around her head. Ah, she should hurry home and talk this through with Zhang Shi Lan! She was really worried now that things might not turn out well. How could she just leave things at this? No, she had to make sure that her son would be able to marry soon.