Chapter 168: A Childish Wang Hong
Chen Rong languidly leaned over and rested her face on his.
She did not offer him comfort, nor could she really, as she felt the warmth of his face and listened to his rueful sigh.
“Ah Rong,” Wang Hong called, extending an arm over her waist. His kisses fell upon her face as he said, “I don’t want to let go of you.” His voice sounded both tender and capricious.
Chen Rong lay completely still in his arms. Her heart was filled with sweetness, for she was the first person he looked for after he fell ill, and for he so willfully said he couldn’t let go of her.
He made her feel that he cared, and to her this was more than enough.
While they held each other, Chen Rong felt his forehead once more.
“Qilang, you’re not feverish anymore!” Her eyes rounded in pleasure. Worrying that he might not believe her, she stressed: “It’s true! Feel it yourself.”
Wang Hong smiled. “I heard that if there is no fever or chills, then the worst is behind us.”
Chen Rong continuously nodded and replied, “Aye, I also heard that as long as your body temperature doesn’t fluctuate tonight, there will be nothing to fear. If conditions remain stable for the next three days, everything will be all right.”
After a pause, she asked, “Qilang, the sun is about to set and night will be cold. Should we return?”
Wang Hong closed his eyes with a hummed reply.
Having received his answer, Chen Rong lay down beside him, felt his forehead and stared at him.
It was a lovely feeling to perceive the difference in their body temperature and their matching breathing rhythm. “It’s like that night in the mountains outside Nan’yang,” she told him with a laughter.
She sat up and looked at him, openly smiling: “Qilang, I had thought that there would never be another day like that.”
Wang Hong opened his eyes.
He looked at her awhile, then closed his eyes and tiredly said, “Why would you even say that Ah Rong? We can clearly be together, you just don’t want to. So why bother saying something like that?”
He made a pursing expression with his lips, turned away and ignored Chen Rong.
Chen Rong wrapped an arm around his waist.
He threw her arm away.
She tried again.
He threw her arm away.
She laughed and persisted in hugging him while muttering: “You’re like a child when you’re sick, Qilang.”
Wang Hong throated a harrumph, letting her hug him after all.
She nuzzled her face against his back as she smelled the scent that belonged to him and giggled, “You just don’t know how content I am with this very moment right now.”
Although she confessed to be content, her voice was dipping lower and lower.
Catching her sigh, Wang Hong turned around and drew her into his arms. “Ah Rong,” he whispered, stroking her hair, “life is short, why must you be like this? Why do things have to be this way?”
Chen Rong merely shook her head. She laughed and said, “Loosen your arms, you’re suffocating me.”
Ever since their meeting today, her laughter had been ringing bright and clear as though her happiness radiated from within. Each passing second was another lost yet she was laughing so mirthfully.
Wang Hong stared down at her hair and at length closed his eyes.
The two of them embraced each other and continued their broken conversation until the sun began its westward descent.
Wang Hong was no longer running a fever or chills over the next hour, giving Chen Rong the reassurance she sought.
As soon as night fell, she helped him back to the temple.
No sooner had they arrived than Nurse Ping and Ying’gu hurried to them. When they saw Wang Hong walking steadily and gracefully as usual, both stopped in their tracks. Nurse Ping thought to say something before Ying’gu held her back.
They returned to Chen Rong’s bedchamber.
While night deepened, the crimson lantern was surrounded within water steam behind a room divider. Chen Rong had her back turned at the moment, her face slightly glowing.
“Darling,” Wang Hong’s raspy voice was heard amid the sloshing sound of water.
“What is it?”
“I can’t reach my back.”
Chen Rong’s blush deepened. “You’ll be all right without washing your back for one day.”
“In the past when we used to make love…” Wang Hong only managed this much by the time Chen Rong snarled: “Stop it! It only happened once, there’s no collective past.”
Wang Hong’s voice took a grievous turn: “That day when we left the Jiankang Prince’s estate, I was suffering so much the entire time… so so much, darling.”
Chen Rong exhaled and, without humor, reminded him: “Stop dawdling, the water is going to turn cold.”
“My chest feels itchy,” came Wang Hong’s mumbling.
Chen Rong drew her lips into a line. “Shall I call Ying’gu?”
“No,” Wang Hong grumbled, “I only want my darling.”
“Y-you’re unwell. You can’t do that.”
Wang Hong appeared to be taken aback. He complained that he was taken wrongly. “You misunderstood me darling. I’m just itchy, that’s all.”
At this point, he threw a hand over his mouth and blithely asked, “Or do you want to do that?”
“Stop your nonsense!” cried Chen Rong.
“The water is really getting cold,” she reminded him again.
Wang Hong dunk his face in the water and let his voice bubble out: “I want you to treat me as you did that day in the carriage.”
He was of course talking about the time he saved her from the Jiankang Prince’s estate.
Chen Rong was drugged that day.
She restrained herself and went on to say: “I have no memory of what happened.”
Wang Hong looked up from the water, accusingly crying: “Liar.”
His tone of voice made Chen Rong think of his faint ruddy face, his bewitching eyes, and the water droplets on his skin.
Blushing, Chen Rong thought to herself: Why am I being so stubborn? After today there may not be a tomorrow… I should do as he wants.
Having thought so, she stood up.
Seeing Chen Rong’s beautiful figure stand up, Wang Hong softly laughed.
His laughter embarrassed Chen Rong. As she was about to scold him, they heard footsteps outside, as well as Sun Yan’s voice from the distance: “Ah Rong, Ah Rong.”
Sun Yan is here?
Chen Rong darted a glance at Wang Hong. Behind the screen, he lazily leaned back against the tub, saying: “Darling, we can’t see other people at a time like this.”
Chen Rong glared at him with a blush: “Who’s doing anything with you?!”
Despite saying so, she knew herself that it would be too embarrassing to see Sun Yan right now.
By this time his footsteps had arrived outside the room. Chen Rong heard Ying’gu greet him: “Why, it’s the young master of the Sun House. Our priestess has gone to bed.”
“Gone to bed?” Sun Yan paused his steps. “Why does she sleep so early when there’s a lantern festival on West Lane tonight?”
Nurse Ping smiled from the side, saying: “I beg your pardon, she has really gone to bed.” Ying’gu added, “When the priestess came back, she was smiling very cheerfully and said that she was exhausted from the day’s excursion.”
After a brief silence, Sun Yan sighed, “Why is she sleeping so early when the moon is this bright? Never mind.” Having said this he turned and left.
Peace was restored outside.
Behind the wall divider came a splashing sound. When she heard it, Chen Rong called, “Nurse, Ying’gu, bring some more hot water.”
They acknowledged her request, having not gone far.
After a while Wang Hong’s sullen voice was heard: “Why aren’t you coming, darling? What are you thinking about?”
Chen Rong was thinking about Sun Yan. She couldn’t help but laugh to hear him. At this time, there was a knock at the door along with Yinggu’s voice: “Hot water is here.”
Chen Rong opened the door and brought the bucket inside. She had good strength and so carried the water with ease.
After bringing the water to the room divider, she softly said, “Retreat a little.”
The man did as told and retreated to a corner.
Chen Rong lifted the bucket and poured it into the tub, staring ahead at the wall all the while, not daring to look at the naked man.
At this time, a warmth sneaked up to her.
When his damp and warm skin touched her, Chen Rong’s hand trembled, her blush spreading to her neck.
“Don’t touch me,” she ordered.
His hand grabbed hold of her arm and pulled her to the tub.
Caught off guard, she couldn’t help falling forward. She tried to grab on for balance and, in doing so, pressed onto a slippery body.
In her panic, she quickly moved her hand but consequently lost her balance and fell into the tub.
As soon as she fell into the water, the man in the tub broke into laughter. He held her by the waist and pulled her into the tub. Chen Rong would’ve put up a fight but for two reasons: she was only coming into contact with slippery bare skin and she was afraid to use force on an ill person.
In the blink of an eye, she was squeezed into the cramp space with him. Splashing water soaked her hair and clothes, which clung to her exquisite curves.
Water dripped down from her forehead, blocking her sight. Her blushing face and the way she tried to keep her eyes open were all very adorable.
This translation belongs to hamster428.
Wang Hong looked at her and suddenly opened his bare arms to wrap around her.
He held her tightly and whispered, “Ah Rong, stay with me.” These words were spoken in seriousness from beginning to end. “Ah Rong,” he shakily pleaded, “let’s sleep in the same bed and die in the same grave.”
There had never been another moment that made Chen Rong perceive his desire and hope more acutely than this.
In his arms, she made a tremble and at last said, “After I become your concubine, I won’t be the only one to share your bed. When I die I would have to ask your family and wife for permission to be buried in the same grave… My lord, I’m not one who can compromise. I won’t bow to another woman in this life.”
These words were just as calm and unyielding as they had been.
Wang Hong slowly let go of her.
He turned away and hoarsely said, “Scrub my back for me.” In a split second his voice suddenly seemed to have belonged to a different person, as if he had retrieved his senses and sobriety.
Chen Rong hummed an acknowledgement, then carefully washed his alternately hard and delicate skin.
As she washed him, she couldn’t help but lower her head and softly place a kiss on his shoulder blade. Her kiss dissolved in the water and left no traces.
“Darling, your heart is hardened anyway, why do you bother with this trite action? Did you want to appease me with your kiss?”
Chen Rong wordlessly shook her head from where he could not see her.
Standing up, she went behind the screen and, with her back turned to the man, changed her clothes and said, “The water is getting cold, come out.”
The man stood up this time to the sound of rustling fabric.
He soon turned and walked towards the door.
Chen Rong hurried after him, pulling his sleeves. “It’s windy outside.”
The man pursed his lips, but in the end he did not protest her bringing him back.
Settling him on the bed, Chen Rong took a towel and dried his hair while smilingly saying: “This place is very humble. It doesn’t have ambergris or a jade pillow. I’m not sure if it is to your liking.”
She laughed breezily as if nothing was the matter.
The man paid no attention to her.
Chen Rong again carefully toweled his hair. Looking at the childish man who was altogether different from his usual self, she slowly bent down.
She knelt at his level and then placed her face to his. Looking at their touching faces in the bronze mirror, Chen Rong softly asked, “Qilang, let me have a lock of your hair?”
Her lips were asking for permission but her hand was already picking up a pair of scissors.
Looking at the pretty little woman behind him in the dim mirror, reverently and gently holding a lock of his hair in the palm of her hand, Wang Hong who was pursing his lips closed his eyes.
As he closed his eyes, the fragility, capriciousness and daze in the past day all vanished from his face.
He was back to being his old self.
But Chen Rong didn’t notice this.
Wang Hong moved his lips, his silky voice was heard in the room: “Even when you wash my blood stained clothes to place pillowside, even when you cut my hair to keep with you, you still won’t be my honored concubine?”
His throat undulated and finally let out a heavy sigh. “How can there be such a stubborn woman?”
Chen Rong did not speak. She only lowered her head and focused on drying his long hair, one lock at a time.
After his hair had dried, Wang Hong glanced at the woman in the bronze mirror carefully placing his hair in her sachet and quietly said, “It’s late, let’s go to sleep.”
And then he stood up. His hair cascaded down and his white robe swayed as he unhurriedly moved towards the only bed in the room.
“Come sleep, I won’t touch you.”
Not seeing Chen Rong move, he closed his eyes and lightly said, “I don’t have typhoid fever.”
These words caused Chen Rong to whip her head up.
After a while, Wang Hong’s voice drifted to her: “Come, I’ll return home tomorrow. When we meet again, we won’t know what circumstances it’ll be.”
Chen Rong’s heart clenched to hear this. She docilely walked over and lay down by his side. She quietly leaned against him, her face nuzzled against his chest.
She smelled his scent and listened to his heartbeats, lying completely still.
Wang Hong also didn’t make any movement. His eyes were closed, seemingly asleep.
The sands of time trickled slowly.
Her beating heart gradually calmed from its rush.
His continued to be steady and strong.
Chen Rong remained wide awake. She stared at the white fabric above her nose, feeling its warmth and scent…
Eventually, she closed her eyes and fell asleep.
When she next woke it was to the twittering of birds. She opened her eyes and felt around next to her.
There was only emptiness.
Surprised, she quickly looked around.
There was no one here.
Yesterday was definitely not a dream. Chen Rong slipped on her clogs to go outside. She opened the door and saw a servant sweeping the leaves in the courtyard. She went to him and asked, “Where’s His Lordship?”
The servant was Wang Hong’s. He accorded Chen Rong ceremony and respectfully answered, “He left early in the morning, ma’am.”
“On a carriage. He left several at the temple last time, ma’am.”
Is that so?
Chen Rong hummed a reply and unhurriedly went out.
She walked to the mountain terrace to the left of the temple where, holding on the stone railing, Jiankang seemed utterly deserted in the distance below… She looked around only to fail finding the familiar figure.
Chen Rong turned around.
A black carriage was driving away in the early morning. Its rolling wheels made a dreary sound on the stone pavement.
The driver was a man in his thirties. Strapping warriors formed two rows of riders on either side.
Standing out among these people was a pale and thin scholar in his forties.
He neared the carriage and whispered, “You are wise, my lord. There were indeed five people who showed up yesterday.”
Wang Hong’s mild voice replied from the carriage: “Not only them, but any other movement must be noted.”
The scholar stroked his beard, adding: “The crown prince and Lang’ya Wang Qi have both fallen ill. I wonder how many people are jumping for joy at this news haha.” He smiled at Wang Hong: “Why didn’t you stay sick for a few more days, my lord? I’m sure it’ll lure more people out.”
In the carriage, Wang Hong’s voice took a chilly turn: “There’s no need. If I continue to be sick, I’m afraid those who are close to me will also distance themselves.”
The scholar paused at these words and then nodded. Aye, money brings this world together and breaks it apart. If this dragged on, he feared those who belonged to his master would begin to have a change of heart.
After the scholar said a few more words, he looked into the carriage at his master and suddenly smiled. “Did you get your wish, my lord?” He blinked, sounding sincere yet amused: “When you went to the temple yesterday, I recall that you said you were using the common cold to feign typhoid fever, so that you may aim at more than one birds with your arrow… at the very least her heart will soften. If I may ask, has she felt life and death are unpredictable so that she stopped being stubborn and assented to entering your household?”
His smile was absolutely infuriating.
The guards stifled their laughter but remained staring ahead, afraid to anger their master.
In that moment of silence, the gentleman in the carriage wryly smiled and answered, “Feeling that life and death are unpredictable? Stop being stubborn? She was elated to hear that I had contracted typhoid fever.”
People turned their heads and looked towards the carriage.
To their surprise, Wang Hong’s voice was full of helplessness when he added: “She gladly answered that if she and I could die like that, then it would be our happy ending.”
They paused at first, and then their discreet laughter grew louder and louder.