The Hated Male Concubine - Chapter 41
The tip of his finger stung for a moment, so Yihan thought something was wrong with Hwawoon’s cheek. Surprised, he touched it again, and he realized that it was not his fingertip, but his chest that stung. He felt an unknown sensation coming from where he touched Hwawoon, circling his body by flowing through his vessels, and piercing him everywhere.
Hwawoon’s cheeks seemed a little dry, but also soft. His small face seemed to fit into Yihan’s hand. Amazed, Yihan got more cautious that he couldn’t even stretch his hands. He was only touching Hwawoon’s cheeks with his fingertips.
As he checked the cool temperature with his own hand, Yihan felt his heart shudder. When Hwawoon was in front of him in a submissive and calm manner, it was uncomfortable and unpleasant, but seeing him lying unconsciously was even more uncomfortable for him.
“Why are you being sick so proudly…?”
Unlike the content of the remark, the voice that flowed out at once seemed to be full of concerns. If he had pretended to be sick like before, he would have been angry and would not have been as upset as he was now, but on the other hand, he was relieved that Hwawoon did not treat himself with lies as before.
His mind was filled with contradictions. He thought Hwawoon should have told him if he wasn’t unwell when they were together yesterday, but he also wondered what would change even if Hwawoon said that.
If Hwawoon had said he was ill at Suhwawon yesterday, Yihan would not have done anything particular for him. He would surely have pretended not to know, or not to believe. No, maybe he would have been angry, asking if he was trying to get his attention with such a lie again. Repeating his thoughts, Yihan suddenly wondered.
Wondering if Hwawoon was holding back his pain because he had guessed that as well.
At that time, Hwawoon, who was lying so quietly that his breath couldn’t be heard, opened his mouth with a slight movement. Yihan, who was still deep in thought while carefully touching Hwawoon’s cheek, hurriedly withdrew his hand and sprang up from his seat.
Yihan stood up in panic, thinking that Hwawoon had woken up, but fortunately for Yihan, Hwawoon was still not awake and only opened his mouth as if he were talking in his sleep.
The moment he realized that the words that came out of Hwawoon’s mouth were not anything else but calling for himself; the moment he realized that Hwawoon was only calling himself even in this situation, Yihan felt like his heart was being torn, and he unconsciously stepped back because he was pushed by the unknown emotion.
Yihan didn’t know such greedless desperation. He had never had and never received it in his life. It was a completely different feeling from what Yeon Hwawoon had shown him in the past.
Even if one had gone through the crisis of death, was it possible for them to change like this?
Seeing Yeon Hwawoon tearfully groaning, looking for the emperor again, Yihan couldn’t guess what to do. When he turned his back on him, trying to leave the room, Ahjin was coming in with medicine, and she knelt down hurriedly as she saw the emperor.
“Your Majesty…! Are you leaving now?”
“Pardon my rudeness, Your Majesty, but… but if you’re here when His Highness Yeonbin wakes up… His Highness will be… he will be very happy…”
Ahjin said what she wanted to say, even though she was shivering under the emperor’s majesty. It was a plea for her master, nothing else. She might get punished because a mere court lady dared to act rude to the emperor, but Ahjin was desperately hoping the Emperor would stay a bit longer next to her master, who endlessly longed for him.
Although her master did not look for the Emperor as openly as before after his change, Ahjin knew that her master was still deeply longing for the Emperor.
The Emperor looked at Ahjin on her knees and remained silent for a while. When Ahjin was struggling to breathe in under the pressure of silence, the Majesty Emperor said,
“I can make you leave Jeongan Palace if you want it.”
Ahjin doubted her ears for a moment. It was so unexpected that she wasn’t sure if she heard it correctly, but she didn’t dare to ask the Emperor back, so she just kept her head down. The emperor then went on.
“I heard you’ve been by Yeonbin’s side ever since he was in his parents’ home. Therefore, I know that you suffer a lot of hardship from Yeonbin more than anyone else.”
“I can make you not serve Yeonbin anymore. I will issue an imperial order so that Yeonbin can’t harass you anymore.”
“That, that is…”
“If you serve the Empress in her palace from now on, even if it’s Yeonbin, he won’t be able to do anything to you. What do you think?”
The emperor’s voice was low and seemingly generous, but on the other hand, he seemed very nervous and stiff. Ahjin’s eyes, which were shaking in confusion, suddenly turned to Yeonbin lying on the bed.
To get out of Jeongan Palace, to be free from Yeonbin. In fact, those were what Ahjin hoped for long in her life. She often thought of running away with her life at stake because she was tired of endless malice and contempt. However, now in this place, no one else but the Emperor was asking Ahjin; if she wanted him to save her from Yeon Hwawoon.
But as soon as she saw Hwawoon, who was lying unconsciously, Ahjin remembered the words of thanks he had given her. She remembered the friendly face of her master, who had said such incredible things that she should receive more precious treatment from him.
The warm eyes that looked at herself. The swaying eyes because he was moved by every word she said came like such a huge tidal wave and wrapped around Ahjin’s heart. Ahjin, who had collected her breath, soon spoke to the emperor.
“Your Majesty… I’m not leaving His Highness.”
“… I’m sure you know best that even if Yeonbin is pretending to change for the moment, he can change back to his temperament at any time and harass you.”
“Yes, Your Majesty. How could I not know about that? But… But, Your Majesty…”
Yihan thought that anyone who was always with Yeonbin might know. No matter how great Yeonbin was in hiding his true nature in front of him, it was practically impossible to perform it perfectly all day long.
So Yihan thought that Ahjin, who always served him in the closest place, could prove it. That all of this was a lie. That this was no different from Yeonbin’s more elaborate plan.
Yet Ahjin continued on, regardless of Yihan’s expectation.
“Even if that is the case, I… I want to believe in His Highness one more time.”
“Although it’s only a short time, the eyes that His Highness showed to me, the heart and consideration he gave me—all of those—I can’t dismiss them as lies.”
Yihan then recalled the gaze, consideration, and concern Yeon Hwawoon had shown to him.
“I know it’s hard to believe. I was the same. But Your Majesty, this humble person dares to ask you.”
The appearances that Yeon Hwawoon constantly showed to him in silence despite Yihan disregarding and ridiculing him numerous times kept lingering in front of Yihan’s eyes through Ahjin’s voice.
“Please, just once… if you take a look at His Highness just once more, he will never… he will never let you down again, Your Majesty…”
Was it possible for a planned lie to make the one who deserved to not believe in Yeon Hwawoon the most beg the emperor so earnestly to believe in Hwawoon?
Turning his gaze once again, Yihan looked at Yeon Hwawoon, who was alone fighting against the pain, and said,
“Take care of your master.”
“And… When Yeonbin wakes up, send someone to Anjeong Palace.”
“… Pardon?… Ah! Yes, Your Majesty! I’ll send someone right away!”
What’s so great about that? Yihan looked down at Ahjin, who answered him numerous times with a bright face and bowed her head, then turned his body.
Young court ladies walking around the palace came into Yihan’s eyes once he reached the front yard of Jeongan Palace. Unlike in the past, when they were always walking around with frightened expressions, curled up and hiding in fear of being caught in Yeonbin’s eyes, they were just moving with a worried look on their faces.
A step by step. Yihan’s feet walked the path in Jeongan Palace that changed from before.
Wondering if this was the start. Wondering if there would be something more unbelievable in the future.
Yihan’s steps in Jeongan Palace were extremely heavy. This was a heavy story of his heart.