Chapter 25: Liberties Given, Liberties Taken
When did this ‘crown prince’ pop up?
The person that had been with me day after day for all these years, was actually the crown prince?
In a trance, I looked at his profile, noting the handsome eyebrows drawn like a mountain and river painting, the smooth, thin lips, the aura of steadfast resolution…
It left my thoughts in disorder.
Why had I never noticed that he carried the air of monarch about him?
The more I looked, the more it seemed that way.
I could see many people kneeling around us.
The noise and bustle of the town, along with its civilians, had all vanished The deserted streets were chilly and desolate and seemed a bit bleak. Han Zichuan’s eyes swept over Nongyu without a word. He only placed the red bag of rouge into my hands, and said lightly, “I’m sorry I couldn’t buy you a nicer one. When I return to the imperial palace…”
He didn’t say any more, but took my head and gave me a long look. I bit my lip and wanted to laugh, but found myself suddenly lacking the energy.
These things had already surpassed my level of comprehension. My head was in a fog as he pulled me past the crowd of kneeling people. Like thus, I trailed after him with all the rest back to the house.
Han Zichuan shook off the large crowd to enter Fang Hua’s room alone. I was the only one left to serve these gentlemen.
“…Younger Sister Shào,” Nongyu said, holding his cup. “It’s full.”
Only then did I react and look back…
Exactly as he said, the water was overflowing from the cup.
He hastily rose to his feet, using his sleeve to wipe away the splatters on his clothing. “You devious girl, you lied to me about waiting for your beloved. As it turned out, he was our crown prince.”
Even though he spoke casually, he was anything but ambiguous when it came to shaking out the water. I hurriedly backed up a few steps, afraid to get wet as I used one hand to shield the porcelain teapot. My smile was a bit strained. “I beg your pardon.”
But he only smiled at me.
Did you want me to clean you up?
Hmph, you’re not even my yifu.
Nongyu deserved the title of a man who had walked away from death because his self-control was remarkable. He looked down and bustled about a bit before lifting his robes and retaking a seat. Then he rolled up a sleeve and pointed at one of the inner rooms.
“Your yifu has a teardrop-shaped mole.”
“I heard he’s a Fang Hua Beast?”
Old fellow, so what if he was? I’m not going to tell you anything.
He smiled, and grabbed my hand with his own.
“Younger Brother Shào.” His tone was suddenly extravagantly tender, the tone carrying an upward tilt. There was a significant look in his eyes that was rather flippant. “Did you forget? We became sworn brothers, so how could you bully your Brother Nong?”
—All reproductions of this work not on volaretranslations are stolen copies.
Can I knock him out with the teapot…?
I really want to.
My fingers itched…I felt flustered holding myself back…but I endured and didn’t look at him.
“Young Master Nong, regarding the promise to be sworn brothers–I remember Shao’er agreed to no such thing.”
He only smiled, pausing for a bit before speaking. “Fortunately, you didn’t agree back then, or else…I’d regreeeeet itttt.” He intentionally drew out the last three words, grabbing my hands again as his eyelashes fluttered twice.
I stared at him.
His curved fingers gently stroked my palms, the movements slow and sluggish. Despite this, his grip was firm, preventing me from pulling away.
“What are you doing?” I blinked.
He looked at me with those sweeping lashes as his eyes widened slightly: part angry, part resentful. And then his hands grew more furtive as he stroked mine, thoroughly delighted.
Talk about taking liberties…
This was taking liberties to a very high scale.
I looked around at the people who’d came with him. All of them had their heads bowed low in complete indifference.
— All reproductions of this work not on volaretranslations are stolen copies.
Very good. Very big and powerful.
You think you can take liberties with a woman like this?
I was raised by Fang Hua. What kind of trials and hardships haven’t I faced?
I clapped him on the shoulder, rolling my eyes. Then I pulled up my sleeves in a way that was three parts ruffian and seven parts elegant, and touched his face in front of all the spectators.
It was obvious to tell when he jerked, as if frightened.
I leaned over, thoroughly enjoying myself as I touched him again, and said extremely lewdly, “Even tofu can’t compare to your little white cheeks.”
He gave a start, and a mist rose in his pupils as he settled into a smile.
The entire room fell into silence. After a long while, he opened his mouth to speak.
“This has to count as skinship.”
What ‘ship’ nonsense, you think just touching each other is skinship? Then wouldn’t the two guys in this house count as me keeping pets? I waved my hands, wanting to extricate myself, but he stuck to my face, clinging to them. There was a joking gleam in his eyes.
Suddenly, the door to the inner room opened, and I used about a third of my internal energy to shake him off. I didn’t even have time to catch in what elegant way he managed to topple to the ground.
Unobstructed…I charged into Fang Hua’s room.
As it turned out, I came just in time to hear Han Zichuan speak. “…that’s good too, then we’ll return to the palace within the next few days.”
Go back to the palace?
I glanced downwards. Han Zichuan’s hand rested on Fang Hua’s long, slender one by his robes. The scene was particularly soft and graceful, but also extremely offensive to the eye. I took a deep breath and opened my mouth.
Wait, something’s not quite right…
Fang Hua actually agreed to go back to the palace with him?!
-o-All reproductions of this work not on volaretranslations are stolen copies.
 mountain and river painting (??) ?shanshui, literally “mountain” and “water”. However, together shanshui is shorthand for ??? (shanshuihua), a genre of landscape painting in China. These paintings are known for their sweeping vistas and elegant brushwork, so Shao’er is basically saying Han Zichuan’s eyebrows are like living art personified.
 I beg your pardon (???) ?duibuzhu, basically “I’m sorry,” but in more polite, humble speech. It has the same meaning of “I’ve been unworthy and done your a disservice,” “excuse me/pardon me.”
 walked away from death (????) ?shili chulai, “emerge from the corpse”, probably in regards to how boldly he’d faced the crown prince in the previous chapter. You definitely, certainly, must show respect to the imperial family, because they can end your life with literally one word (? [zhan], or “behead”). Nongyu escaped unscathed though, so it’s like he became a dead man walking. Or something like that.
 skinship (????) ?jifuzhiqin, “skin and muscle”, “of intimacy”, the intimacy of skin, especially between a man and a woman.