Approximately in the evening, Ling Xiang came over to say the preserved meat porridge was done.
He Xuan was marking official documents, Xiao Zuo was covered in a blanket curling on the small couch by the side, with his hands holding up some country annals. The charcoal in the room warmly made people all drowsy and wanting to sleep, his head nodded again and again, and sleepiness rose up to the point even the eyelids almost could not be propped up.
“Your Highness, Duke, the preserved meat porridge is ready, should this servant bring it over now?”
He Xuan reached his hand out and placed it by the mouth and made a shush sound. Ling Xiang turned and saw Xiao Zuo sleeping on the couch, and purposefully lightened her footsteps, then He Xuan nodded his head, and said quietly, “Place it on the table.”
Once Ling Xiang left, He Xuan lowered his head again and looked at scrolls for a while. Since the inside of the room was warm, this preserved meat porridge would not go cold for the time being, and when he predicted Xiao Zuo would wake up soon, he lifted the lid on the porcelain bowl, and immediately, the fragrance of meat spread all around and to the nose. Xiao Zuo seemed to have smelled it in his dreams as well, and he forcefully energized himself and yawned, and sleepily asked, “Is the porridge ready yet?”
“It’s ready, come have a taste.”
This time, Ling Xiang even brought a small porcelain bowl and two spoons. He Xuan scooped a bowl for him, Xiao Zuo hazily moved over, then put it in his mouth to taste. He quietly hissed from getting scalded, and He Xuan didn’t know if he should laugh or cry, “It’s hot, you need to eat slower.”
Xiao Zuo nodded his head. This time, he carefully blew, then tasted it, “Have a try too, your Highness, it’s delicious this time.”
“Certainly, this method of yours is quite ingenious.” He Xuan narrowed his eyes and savoured it, and sighed in slight lament, “This taste is just the same as the one when Mother made it.”
Xiao Zuo froze, like he faintly felt like he made contact with that place He Xuan hid safely, yet was afraid if he hastily invaded it, that originally hazy cloudy mountain covered in mist would directly disappear cleanly like a building in the seas, where even way-finding birds could not guide him into the doors. He was a bit nervous for the time being, unsure if he should pretend to be an idiot or if he should go along with his words and find that door. He thought about it for a while, then slowly and very carefully asked, “What is, your Highness’ mother like?”
Perhaps this bowl of preserved meat porridge that was like a previous acquaintance made He Xuan slightly withdraw the thorns on his body, making Xiao Zuo briefly peer into his soft abdomen. He Xuan leaned on the back of the chair, went silent for a moment, then at the time Xiao Zuo regretfully planned on diverging the topic, he then lightly said, “Mother is the daughter of a noble family in the capital. When she was very young, she had already been appointed the marriage by the former emperor, and after her coming of age, then was made the crown prince consort. She and Father had always been very much in love, and was extremely affectionate. After Father ascended the throne, she was then made Empress Yuan.”
Xiao Zuo made an en sound, He Xuan did not look at him, and continued on himself, “Mother had a gentile nature, when she spoke, she always used a soft voice, and very rarely blamed the servants, but her body was never good, not long after I……”
He Xuan paused, and did not continue on, “I would often think, if Mother was always here, I could go into the palace everyday to look at her, speak with her, and during the new year, have the courage to ask ask for rewards……”
Like he had come to, He Xuan suddenly stopped, then he pulled at the corners of his mouth in self-ridicule, and lightly said, “What am I doing speaking to you about this.”
“Act……” Xiao Zuo originally wanted to open his mouth and comfort him, but hearing these words, he dejectedly swallowed it back. He hung his eyes down and silently thought of something, and after a while, then spoke a few words, “Have some more, your Highness, I’m not eating anymore, I am a bit full.”
The room had some indescribable awkward silence, Xiao Zuo hung his eyes down and depressingly sat to one side, and stared at the book in his hands he flipped over, and was in a daze. He Xuan put down the brush, and casually asked, “Last time you said there was something you wanted to tell me, what is it?”
Xiao Zuo paused, then recalled the matter regarding white ears. He had a rough idea, but it was still not mature, he thought about talking about it with He Xuan, and ask if it was possible, then put down the book in his hands, and picked some important points to tell him.
“You can try.” Just as Xiao Zuo said a few words, He Xuan seemed to cut him off in slight annoyance. He flipped a page of the book in neither acceptance nor denial, and the slightly knitted eyebrows overlapped like a winter day’s distant mountain on a big foggy day, “I won’t intercept.”
The hand Xiao Zuo placed on the knee gripped tight, and secretly stifled in the strength.
After a few days, when Xiao Zuo went to He Xuan’s residence, he saw his mood today was not bad. He Xuan was flipping over a thick literacy book on something, and seldom revealed a slightly satisfied smile.
“Your Highness, on the fourth prince’s birthday banquet, can [you] bring me there?” Xiao Zuo absentmindedly stroked the yellowed page in his hands, and hesitated for a long time before asking. He Xuan paused, and lifted his eyes with an indifferent face, “What about it?”
“I……” Xiao Zuo pursed his lips, and was a bit nervous, “That day, what I mentioned with your Highness, the plan regarding White Ears……”
He Xuan seemed like he wanted to laugh, but when the corner of his eyes glanced at Xiao Zuo lifting his face looking at him, with his eyes still left with something between innocence and ardour, it immediately made [He Xuan] unable to say some harmful words, and in the end, he only raised the corners of his mouth. Perhaps he also wanted to see what kind of shocking thing this seemingly harmless little fellow in front of him could do, and strangely enough, he actually nodded his head, “Alright.” He Xuan heard himself say.
“I know your Highness won’t……” Xiao Zuo’s rebutting words were said halfway, and he suddenly realized what He Xuan said. He paused in astonishment, opened his mouth, and the remaining half spun a circle in the mouth, then was swallowed back, “Thank you, your Highness.”