Shaobo cried as she tried to treat Xia Xun’s burns.
Xia Xun spread out his right hand; she used a small spoon to stir the ointment but her movements stopped for a long time, the ointment not applied.
Xia Xun asked her what happened. She said, “Young Master, I dare not smear it.”
Xia Xun glanced down. A large bubble was bulging on his palm, full of blood, glowing red and looking really scary.
“I’ll do it myself!”
Xia Xun took the ointment, picked up a large portion and dumped it into his palm, then rubbed it on the inside of his arm that was scalded by the edge of the brazier.
Shaobo was crying silently. She felt sorry for Xia Xun and was even more worried about her future.
When Xia Xun applied the medicine, she asked timidly:
“Will the second young master come again? He, he still wants me—”
Xia Xun comforted her:
“Don’t worry about it! I won’t agree! I am more worried now, what about Qi Yan’s birthday?!”
Xia Xun had promised to celebrate his birthday with him a long time ago. Now that there was only one hour left before the agreed time, he would definitely not have time to make another wooden rabbit.
Xia Xun looked in the mirror.
His chin was so swollen that he couldn’t hide such an obvious injury. He was afraid he wouldn’t be able to see Qi Yan in the next few days.
Upset, he scratched his head. After thinking about it for a long time, he didn’t have any good ideas. He could only say to Shaobo:
“Deal with it for me. Go to Qi Yan later and tell him… Just say that the teacher has given too much homework today. I really can’t spare any time and can’t meet him. There is a gift for him but I can only give it to him in a few days.”
He asked Shaobo to dry her tears:
“All your makeup is washed off, remember to renew it. Don’t let him suspect anything, his eyes are sharp.”
Shaobo nodded, and a large tear slid down her cheek again.
Xia Xun sighed:
“Oh, don’t cry! I am injured like this, and I lost the fight, but do you see me crying? Don’t be afraid, I won’t let you be his concubine. What is he? How can he be worthy of you!”
Shaobo wiped her eyes with a handkerchief and said sadly:
“Little master, don’t talk nonsense, this slave is just a servant, it’s me who is not worthy…” She choked again.
Xia Xun was deliberately strict with her:
“Alright! Don’t cry anymore! When you go to see Qi Yan later, you have to be smiling!”
Shaobo clutched the handkerchief, nodded, got up and went to renew her makeup.
Xia Xun looked at the wooden rabbit in distress.
He wanted to repair it, but his hand was covered with ointment, feeling hot and painful.
And Xia Xing had burned all his tools.
“Forget it!” He put the rabbit aside. “When I’m better, I’ll make another one, and then apologise to Qi Yan!”
At dusk, Shaobo, dressed in a new dress, became the beautiful young girl she used to be.
Xia Xun repeatedly emphasised that she must control her emotions, forget everything that happened today, and never let Qi Yan notice anything.
Shaobo was puzzled and asked him why he refused to tell Qi Yan.
Xia Xun said:
“He is depressed enough! If you look at the yard where he lives, you can tell that his situation is not as good as mine! Besides, what can he do even if he knows? There is nothing he can do, it’ll just add to his troubles, so why bother?”
Shaobo was worriled and her eyes were full of sorrow.
Xia Xun couldn’t watch it anymore:
“What is this expression about? Come on, smile!”
Shaobo reluctantly pulled up the corners of her mouth.
Xia Xun is not satisfied:
“No way! Your smile is uglier than crying! Come again!”
Shaobo tried to squeeze out a smile.
Xia Xun praised:
“Very good, very good, when you see Qi Yan, you have to be more natural than this.”
Shaobo calmed down, touched her earrings and smoothened her hair, and walked out raising the hem of her dress.
Xia Xun hugged Yuzhu and waited in his room, fearing that she would mess up her performance.
After about half a stick of incense, she came back.
Her expression calmed down a lot and she told Xia Xun that Qi Yan did not suspect anything.
Xia Xun asked anxiously:
“When he knew that I couldn’t come, what was his expression? Was he very angry with me?”
Shaobo said he wasn’t. She recalled:
“Master Qi was not angry, but… he was disappointed to see me. He said that today was a full moon, and begonias in the courtyard were in full bloom. He thought they had withered, he didn’t expect them to bloom so vividly.
“He also said… He also said that he wanted to watch the moon and the blossoms with you, little master. He knew that you don’t drink alcohol, so he specially prepared a pot of good tea and some snacks. If you can’t make it, he will have to drink alone under the moon.”
Xia Xun’s heart clenched as he heard this. “What else?” he asked.
She thought for a while, then said: “Master Qi also said that he is looking forward to your gift. After all, he has not received a birthday gift for several years.”
Xia Xun felt very guilty. He could imagine Qi Yan’s demeanour when he said these words; he was probably standing under the tree with an expression of loss on his face that he could not hide.
He must have been looking forward to it for a long time, right?
Unexpectedly, Xia Xun failed to come…
Xia Xun felt as if his heart was fried in oil.
Qi Yan was honest with him, but he didn’t dare to tell him the truth and had to make up lies to deceive him.
If Qi Yan finds out that he has been deceived, will he ignore him forever?
The more Xia Xun thought about it, the more frightened he felt; he couldn’t sit still anymore:
“No way! I have to meet him! Even if I don’t tell him the ins and outs, I will apologise to him in person!”
Qi Yan was sitting under the begonia tree, leaning against the trunk, his long legs straightened and stretched out gracefully.
One of his hands was resting on his knee and the other held the teacup.
The translucent celadon cup was filled with light golden liquid, so Xia Xun knew that he was drinking wine instead of tea.
The jade-pink petals keep falling in his cup. Qi Yan didn’t care and drank the petals with the wine.
The moonlight shrouded him, his whole body exuding a hazy halo.
Xia Xun called his name, and he looked up slowly.
Seeing him, Xia Xun forgot everything.
He ran over: “Qi Yan! I’m coming!”
Qi Yan was surprised: “Why are you here? Have you finished your homework?”
Xia Xun said, “I’m sorry, I have to apologise to you first.”
He handed the rabbit to Qi Yan.
“The gift I made for you was… it accidentally fell into the brazier and burned like this… You just watch, and I will make you a new one in a few days!”
Qi Yan picked up the burnt rabbit from his palm.
“Why make a new one? I think it looks great, I like it like this. This one is enough.”
He looked at it lovingly for a while, cradling it in his hand, and said:
“Since you are here, try the tea I specially prepared for you. It is light in colour and it tastes—”
Xia Xun didn’t want Qi Yan to see the injury on his face and was going to leave as soon as possible, hidden in the darkness.
He refused: “No, no! I need to go to class tomorrow, so I’ll go back and study!”
Xia Xun turned to leave. Qi Yan stopped him: “Wait.”
He walked up to Xia Xun, took a look at him in the moonlight, and his expression suddenly changed.
He had noticed, after all
Xia Xun sighed and rubbed his chin with the back of his hand.
“Huh? Oh! This… I just fell, otherwise how could the rabbit fall into the fire! Don’t stop me, I need to go!”
He rushed for a few steps as if fleeing when Qi Yan grabbed his shoulder and pulled him back.
Qi Yan didn’t look doubtful anymore; his eyebrows were drawn together and the anger in his eyes was about to burst out:
“Did your father hit you again?!”
Xia Xun felt so guilty that he didn’t pay attention and his mouth was out of control:
“No, no, it was my second brother— no, no! I fell…”
Qi Yan became even more angry:
“You still don’t tell the truth?! Why did your second brother beat you?!”
Xia Xun stammered:
“I… beat him too! I made his nose bleed…!”
He quickly hid his right hand behind his back.
Qi Yan noticed such a subtle movement at a glance and immediately asked:
“What’s wrong with your hand?!”
Xia Xun pretended not to understand:
“Huh? What hand? My hands are fine!”
Qi Yan fixed him with his gaze: “Then show me your hand.”
Xia Xun didn’t move, not daring to look at him:
“What’s so nice about my hand? It’s not as if I have one more finger than others— ouch… hurts!”
Qi Yan grabbed his wrist and forcibly pulled his hand forward.
When Xia Xun cried out in pain, he immediately let go, but he had already seen the injury.
He was shocked and angry. “What’s going on?!”
Xia Xun hesitated for a long time and couldn’t come up with anything to say. He just broke the jar and told him everything:
“It’s my bastard second brother! He came to me again!”
He didn’t care about choosing words, saying whatever was in his heart, telling Qi Yan everything that happened during the day.
After speaking, he grabbed Qi Yan’s teapot, poured a whole cup of tea, drank it in one breath and wiped his mouth carelessly:
“That’s it! You know now!”
Qi Yan stood quietly, holding Xia Xun’s wrist, staring at the injury on his hand and did not speak for a long time.
Xia Xun felt that the wound was too ugly and wanted to withdraw his hand, but Qi Yan did not allow him.
After a long time, Qi Yan asked:
“Are there any other injuries?”
Xia Xun originally wanted to say no, but eventually rolled up his sleeve and showed him a few blisters on his arm.
Shaobo said that burns shouldn’t be bandaged and the wounds should be exposed to the air to heal quickly.
Qi Yan raised his arm to take a look, grabbed his wrist, and pulled him back into the house.
He rummaged through the cabinets, found several bottles of ointments, placed them on the table side by side, and opened the lids to smell them in turn.
After smelling them, he picked out a few bottles and started pouring the liquids in the bottles on Xia Xun’s wounds one after another.
Xia Xun saw that there were acacia leaf cold cakes in the food box beside him, so he took out a piece unceremoniously and put it in his mouth. He tried to chew but his chin hurt so much that he had to take a few breaths to bear the pain.
Qi Yan had already dealt with the injury on his hand and was applying medicine to the bubbles on Xia Xun’s arm.
“Aren’t you good at tolerating pain? What are you screaming about now?”
Xia Xun stared at his face and laughed deliberately.
Qi Yan’s sullen expression did not change and the corners of his mouth were tightly pursed.
He asked in a low voice:
“What are you laughing at? I speak to you, and you’re laughing?”
Xia Xun had no scruples and said cheerfully: “I know you feel sorry for me!”
When Qi Yan applied the medicine to his wounds, his face looked unbearable, but his movements were extremely gentle. He poured out the medicine very carefully, afraid of hurting Xia Xun and afraid that he hadn’t poured enough.
He was so nervous that his forehead was covered in beads of sweat.
The expression on his face was indescribable.
Xia Xun could see that there was compassion and care in his eyes, but he couldn’t understand anything else.
By the time the medicine was finally applied, Xia Xun had eaten a box of cold cakes.
Qi Hui brought a basin of water; Qi Yan washed off the remaining medicine on his hands and asked him to retreat.
Even though he was injured, Xia Xun couldn’t sit still, so he ran to the antique shelf and stood there, examining the decorations on the shelf one by one.
Qi Yan looked at his back with mixed feelings, thousands of emotions lingering in his heart.
This was the second time Xia Xun had come to him injured. He was so badly injured and still thought of celebrating his birthday.
Xia Xun didn’t seem to hold a grudge. Obviously, he was miserable, but he still looked naive and ignorant of the world. He was used to bearing all the injustice that happened to him as if he had not yet learned to hate anyone.
Qi Yan’s heart suddenly felt sour, as if the softest part of it was stabbed with a thorn.
His eyes suddenly became hot; he seemed to have the urge to cry.
Qi Yan blinked, unable to believe it. He couldn’t remember the last time he wanted to cry for someone else.
He was stunned for a while, then slowly got up and walked behind Xia Xun. Hearing the sound of footsteps, Xia Xun turned his head and looked at him with bright eyes.
He held up his burned right hand, like a bullied child seeking comfort from Qi Yan.
Qi Yan shook his head secretly.
Xia Xun never relied on anyone. He always tried his best not to cause trouble to others.
He never exposed his sadness and he kept all negative emotions to himself.
Perhaps because of this, Qi Yan would… treat him……
“Xia Xun, let me ask you, when Xia Xing bullied you, weren’t you angry?” Qi Yan’s tone was full of rare seriousness. “Obviously you are both the young masters of Xia Mansion. Just because you are a son of a concubine, he can step on your head as he wishes. Don’t you feel resentful?”
Xia Xun thought for a while, then waved his hand:
“I have not been smart since I was a child, and my brain is not smart. Hate him or not, I can’t think about such complicated issues! ……and, and—”
He glanced at Qi Yan a few times and stopped talking.
Qi Yan asked him to speak up.
Xia Xun was a little shy:
“Then don’t laugh at me! I just thought, if you knew that I was hurt, you would definitely feel sorry for me! When I think that there are still people in this world who can feel sorry for me, I don’t think it’s a big deal! And Xia Xing was also beaten by me! So we’re even!”
After saying that, he smiled at Qi Yan, looking happy.
Qi Yan closed his eyes, and the urge to cry became more intense. The sourness in his heart made it difficult to breathe. The wooden rabbit in his hand seemed to weigh a thousand pounds.
After a while, he sighed deeply:
“Let’s not talk about it. There is borneol in the medicine I applied for pain relief. Does your injury still hurt now?”
Xia Xun didn’t pat his chest as usual, bravely saying that it didn’t hurt.
He opened his mouth and said nothing.
After hesitating for a while, he seemed to have made up his mind to be the boss, took a deep breath, and said to Qi Yan, blushing:
“I’m still hurting a little, if… if you could kiss me, it probably won’t hurt anymore…”
The more he said, the lower his head was, and in the end, he almost pressed his chin against his chest.
Qi Yan didn’t respond for a long time.
Xia Xun couldn’t bear the awkward silence, stood up abruptly, and walked to the door.
“I was talking nonsense just now! Hurry up and forget it! I have to go back quickly! Otherwise, I won’t be able to memorise—”
Qi Yan grabbed his sleeve. Xia Xun was fixed on the spot, not daring to look back.
Qi Yan said, “I heard it and I can’t forget it. What should I do?”
Xia Xun was as stiff as a stone, motionless, his face flushed; his eyes were closed tightly and he did not dare to open them.
He heard the sound of clothes rusting behind him.
Then, a warm kiss fell on his lips.
Xia Xun’s eyes opened wide suddenly, and all he could see was Qi Yan’s face extremely close to him.
—Qi Yan kissed him.
Xia Xun looked at him blankly, his eyes glazed.
Qi Yan stepped back a little, slowly blinked deliberately, and then asked him with a smile:
“How is it? Does it still hurt?”
Xia Xun was stunned for a while, then suddenly covered his face with his palm and rushed away in a panic like a frightened bird.