Part of a Memories of a Graceful Reflection translation project at fruitydeer.com.
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Source: 猶記驚鴻照影 by Feng Ning Xue Wu // Translated By: Xin (fruitydeer)
Okay, I lied. I ended up scheduling this weekend’s post in advance, so hopefully nothing goes sideways at the time of publishing 🙃
Chapter 015: The Fifteenth Time
Two more days had passed by the time Nan Cheng Yao returned to Gui Mo Pavilion.
I personally brewed a pot of the newest tribute Caihua Maojian tea.1 Though my hands did not stop moving, I continued to mull inwardly over how I should bring things up with him.
After passing the cup of tea in my hands to him, I heard him tease in that lackadaisical voice of his before I could even open my mouth: “What great matter has happened that is worthy of making Wang fei this uncomfortable?”
I hesitated for a moment, but ultimately still told him what I discussed with Mother that day in its entirety. With someone like him, even if I wanted to keep things from him, it would be still impossible.
Further, in a situation like this, all I could do was plead with him. Realistically, that was all I could do. His willingness to help was something I lacked even the slightest certainty towards.
Upon hearing what I had to say, that lazy smile continued to hang off of Nan Cheng Yao’s face, bereft of even a bit of surprise. I did not know whether it was because he had known about it since early on or if he had long since become used to concealing his real emotions, not revealing anything in front of others.
He chuckled and spoke with indifference: “What does Wang fei wish that I do?”
I looked at him wordlessly, then shook my head: “Nothing, I hope that you do nothing at all.”
If my speculations were wrong and all this was just us fussing over nothing, then the child in Yan’er’s stomach was already enough of a guarantee for her to marry into the Eastern Palace. There would be no need for Nan Cheng Yao to do anything.
But if my speculations were indeed correct and the Sacred One truly no longer trusted Murong Family, if the most favored Third Highness went to speak on behalf of Murong Family, wouldn’t this just deepen the emperor’s suspicions and produce the opposite of the desired result?
Thus, him doing nothing at all was the best method.
Nan Cheng Yao looked at me, the approval in his eyes left unconcealed. He smiled indolently: “Indeed, you haven’t let me down. You’re much better than Murong Duo and that lot.”
Hearing him speak Father’s name in such a cursory tone, I was naturally a bit unhappy. My lashes hung low as I replied faintly: “I’m unworthy of Your Majesty’s praise.”
He grinned as he reached out and lifted my jaw facetiously. His slightly narrowed eyes carried unfathomable depths: “Do you realize that the more you disapprove, the more deferential you behave?”
His strength was not gentle, leaving me with a slight sensation of pain. Upon seeing the playful hook and frivolous curve lingering on his his lips, vexation suddenly bloomed in my heart.
My diligence was worth nothing in front of him anyways, so I simply looked straight into his eyes, a soft smile suddenly igniting on my lips: “The reason Qing’er doesn’t dare to plead with Your Highness is because I know that even if I pleaded, Your Highness is not guaranteed to agree. So why bring about pain for myself?”
The playful grin hanging off the edge of his lips deepened further: “Oh? How can you be so sure?”
With a gleaming smile, I responded in kind: “While the Murong Family cannot compare to the favor and glory of the Nan Family of days past, in certain ways it must still be considered a powerful one, otherwise Your Highness would not agree to this marriage. Now that I’ve married Your Highness, the whole of Murong Family will do everything to support Your Highness no matter what. But should another Miss Murong marry into the Eastern Palace, this assistance would disintegrate. In other words, that helping hand would no longer be guaranteed.”
He laughed: “Seems like you really are upset. I didn’t know that Wang fei had such a sharp side. So you tell me, what do I want your Murong Family to help me with?”
In that moment, I came back to my senses, unwittingly laughing bitterly in my heart.
Father had always praised me for being intelligent and composed, but in front of Nan Cheng Yao, all of those diligent thoughts meant nothing. That calm, unperturbed demeanor so worthy of one’s own pride seemed to disintegrate in his hands.
This person, as if demonic by nature, could stir someone into irrational demagogy using no effort at all.
Seeing my silence, he lazily retracted the hand squeezing at my chin. He laughed with a lackadaisical air: “What a shame, backing off so quickly.”
At that, he no longer pressed on, leaving with attitude just as lackadaisical as before.
I watched as his flawless silhouette gradually disappeared out the door, quietly answering in my heart the question he just asked.
The current crown prince was the eldest di2 son and his status had been decided upon early on. As for this Third Highness, he was a wealthy idler that had never made any indications of vying for imperial power. In everyone’s eyes, all he seemed to care about was nothing more than that waterside pavilion and those rainbow skirts and feathered robes.3
Along with his fierce ruthlessness, he’s taken his ambitions and hid them beneath that eternally insouciant smile. However, with that sort of pretentious attitude, that kind of coldness and arrogance, how could he be simply content?
I slowly moved my gaze towards the window, facing the direction of the xiang fu.
If, if his ascent to the top could guarantee the peace and stability of my Murong Clan, then there was nothing wrong with that, either.
So in that case, the notion that I ought to help him obtain the world was not an unthinkable one.
Translator’s Note: A big moment between Murong Qing and Nan Cheng Yao is due to happen soon, we’re just missing the right catalyst to help set things in motion.
- 採花毛尖 // Cai Hua Mao Jian: A variety of green tea.
- 嫡 // Di: A term used to denote the first or official wife and her respective children.
- Refer to the intro in Chapter 3 and Chapter 3, footnote 1. A callback to the poem, Raiment of Rainbows and Feathers, first mentioned in Chapter 3. In this instance, it’s referring to beautiful dancers/courtesans.