The Hated Male Concubine - Chapter 40
“Did you hear about Yeonbin’s condition?”
“Yes, Your Majesty. It’s nothing serious, but because his originally weak body was in shock after he fell into the water. On top of that, he has been feeling uneasy and uncomfortable lately, so he lost his energy. For the details, please ask the doctor.”
“It’s fine as it’s nothing serious…”
On the surface, the emperor replied as if he were not interested in Yeonbin’s condition, but there was a vivid concern on the emperor’s face as he examined Yeonbin’s face again. Seeing that, the empress pulled her lips up for a moment, then stepped away from the bed and said,
“Your Majesty, I will take my leave now because I have other work to do… Will you stay a bit longer for Yeonbin, who is still unable to regain his consciousness?”
“… I’m questioning whether there’s a need for me to stay when the court ladies will surely take care of him, but… I’ll stay for a moment because you’re so concerned like this. You can go back, Empress.”
The emperor’s feet took a step closer to the bed. He talked as if he had no choice because of the Empress’s request, but the Empress wasn’t the one who couldn’t notice the true feeling in his voice.
“Then, excuse me, Your Majesty.”
“… Yeah. You’ve worked hard, Empress.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
The empress, who bowed to the emperor and was walking out, stopped for a moment and looked back before passing the door. She saw the emperor sitting very carefully on the bed, where Hwawoon was lying down, like a person who had never done such a thing before in his life.
As always, life is bound to be directed to a place that no one can expect, and it seems that even such a noble emperor cannot avoid it.
Thinking about it, the Empress continued her paused steps. Indeed, it was an unpredictable day.
“Did you say His Majesty went there?”
When Sukbi asked, Jeongbin-Songhyun, who sat across from her, nodded eagerly.
“He hurried as soon as the morning assembly ended.”
Songhyun usually followed Biyoung like a sister, and Biyoung too, took care of Songhyun as she would to a little sister. The two people’s palaces were at a close distance, so they usually visited each other. Today too, Songhyun immediately went to Unhwa Palace even though it hadn’t been long since the morning greetings ended.
Biyoung’s expression darkened after she heard what Songhyun said. It was because she thought the emperor was often with Yeonbin recently.
It hadn’t been long since the emperor said he would visit Jeongbin’s residence, but ended only visiting Jeongan Palace, and yesterday, he walked with Yeonbin in Suhwawon. Then today, the Emperor, who used to not care about Yeonbin being sick, went to Jeongan Palace as soon as he heard the news. The Emperor had never shown this much interest in Yeonbin.
“… He’s not truly sick, right?”
Songhyun, who was moving around her eyes to examine Biyoung’s mood, murmured in a rather somber voice. Biyoung then replied, looking somewhere on the floor with eyes that were still deep in thought.
“This trick is nothing new. This time, too, he must be doing it because he wants to lure His Majesty.”
The reason why Biyoung’s expression was still complicated even though she said that lightly was that the emperor went to Jeongan Palace despite that fact. He must have known about it. His Majesty the Emperor is the one who knows best that he’s only faking a sick. However, the emperor went to Yeonbin as soon as the morning assembly ended. Biyoung suddenly felt her head dizzy as she thought about the meaning behind it.
Then, Songhyun muttered low with a still gloomy look.
“But… It’s true that Yeonbin has a weak body…”
Biyoung’s gaze immediately landed on Songhyun’s face. Finding the cute face was filled with worry, confusion then flashed in Biyoung’s eyes. Biyoung said,
“Are you worried about Yeonbin now…?”
Songhyun answered while fretting.
“Eh? No! No way! Unnie, what are you talking about…! You know best how Yeonbin ignores me. How can I worry… worried about someone like Yeonbin! Never! I will never!”
Songhyun, who flapped her hands and repeatedly said, “never,” seemed very suspicious to anyone. Biyoung squinted and quietly stared at Songhyun.
“I’m really not…”
Songhyun once again argued under Biyoung’s gaze that didn’t leave her. Jooah, the court lady close to Songhyun, sighed secretly because Songhyun’s appearance was obviously the opposite.
Yihan carefully sat at the end of the bed and looked at Hwawoon’s face, holding his breath in case he made a loud noise. All the way to Jeongan Palace, Yihan tried to imagine Yeon Hwawoon complaining to him, saying, ‘How can you come now when I’m so sick?’ but Hwawoon, which he finally saw, was laying down without knowing that the emperor was here.
Not to mention his face, his lips were so pale and made his heart seem to collapse. There was no Yeon Hwawoon in Yihan’s memory that looked as sick as he was now. Even Hwawoon, who suffered from taking medicine to deceive Yihan, was not this bad.
Yihan, who was still looking at his lifeless cheeks as if they would crumble if he touched them, suddenly recalled the scene he saw when he just arrived at Jeongan Palace. The scene when the Empress was touching Yeon Hwawoon’s cheeks.
The moment he saw it, an unknown feeling arose. That feeling was definitely similar to anger, but because he couldn’t know the reason for him to get angry, the emperor stopped Eunuch Oh from announcing his presence and watched them for a while.
Was it because of the empress? Yihan tried to think so. Even though that person was his concubine, he was also a man, so he wondered if he was not happy because the Empress touched another man.
“Yeah. That’s possible…”
Yihan’s gaze was still on Hwawoon’s cheeks as he muttered to no one knew who. His fingertips flinched unwittingly. He was curious why the Empress touched that cheek. To be exact, he rather wanted to know the sensation she felt through her fingertips. He wondered if it was as soft as it looked. Would his skin be damaged and rough because he was emaciated? The trivial questions that he had never had bubbled one after another.
There was a sound of clothes rustling. The emperor’s hand was moving very slowly toward Hwawoon’s face. As if he was facing something he had never seen in his life. Like dealing with a being he was very scared and afraid about, but couldn’t help to approach because it was very mysterious.
The emperor’s fingertips; a certain feeling he reached out for the first time in his life.
Something that was too careful yet clumsy finally reached Hwawoon’s cheek.
Yeon Hwawoon hated Jeongan Palace. Those who didn’t know his inside would say he was lucky to stay in such a beautiful place despite getting no affection from the emperor, but Hwawoon was sometimes caught up in the intense urge to burn all of this mere palace if he could.
Jeongan Palace was the fruit of an emperor’s love for a concubine. It was a token of affection for the emperor’s only lover, whom neither the empress nor any concubines dared dream of. The emperor built a huge and beautiful palace that was second to none of the buildings inside the imperial palace and dedicated it to his lover, proving the depth of his love. Therefore, Jeongan Palace was the emperor’s heart.
Thus, Yeon Hwawoon sometimes felt like this space was laughing at him. Presumptuously occupying this place without even getting a bit of the emperor’s heart. Yeon Hwawoon seemed to hear such ridicule wherever he went in Jeongan Palace.
On such a day, he couldn’t stand it without bullying anyone to tears. So they wouldn’t dare laugh at him; he wanted to make a strong example so that no one could ignore him. He hated those insignificant with the name ‘subject’ that buy the emperor’s sympathy, and he couldn’t understand the emperor who blamed himself for bullying those lowly things.
What are they? What on earth are those who deserve to die if their master wants to? Yeon Hwawoon treated those lower things even more viciously whenever the emperor raised his voice at him for them. Only then did they dare not look down on him with the emperor’s sympathy on their backs.
Thus, as time went by, the emperor gradually reduced the days he went to Jeongan Palace.
Yeon Hwawoon hated Jeongan Palace. He hated to see the wide wall, the fine garden, and also the wide and beautiful pond. Everything in Jeongan Palace reminded Yeon Hwawoon of the Emperor’s love that one day could be grasped by someone, but he never could.
That was why Yeon Hwawoon could not stay comfortably anywhere in Jeongan Palace.