41 Chapter 41 Conviction
'Why? How? Am I dreaming?' The fifth prince's mind is in shambles. His heart is trembling with different and opposing emotions. He is happy to see his beloved woman but also mourning in the fact that she is already married, and to his eldest brother and emperor at that. He also regretted trying to harm her during her wedding and really happy that she turned out safe. He had complex emotions that he forgot to control his facial expressions. One moment he was pale and wide eyed, the next he would smile then look sad. It was funny, but not for Feng Jun Yi. He knitted his brows in confusion to his brother's unusual reaction.
Lin Xulian maintained her warm smile while trying to walk and act elegant. But in truth she is currently irritated with her hair. It was pushed up tightly and secured with numerous hairpins and clips that made her scalp sting. Her multiple layered red robes with embroidered peonies didn't help and burdened her even more. When the crisp sound of the shattered teacup echoed through the hall, Xulian subconsciously halted her step and look at the direction of the sound.
Seeing the stunned look on the fifth prince's face, she knew he recognized her as the woman he met a few days ago in the restaurant. A flash of mischievous light passed by Xulian's eyes. She gave him a small nod and a perfectly beautiful smile. But when she lifted her head she narrowed her eyes the same way the fifth prince did on her wedding, except she made him notice it intentionally. But instead of accepting her challenge, the fifth prince avert his gaze with an uneasy look on his face. Seeing this, Xulian got confused.
Seeing their exchange, Feng Jun Yi narrowed his eyes. When they reached the front, the crowd kneel and greet the couple. "Longlive the emperor and empress!" After the greetings, Feng Jun Yi and Lin Xulian sat on their seats and the emperor raised his arm to make them rise. Not able to contain his curiosity anymore, he whispered and finally asked Lin Xulian. "The fifth prince is looking at you in a weird way. Do you know why?"
Xulian just shrug her shoulders. "He must have been shocked seeing me."
"Why is that?"
"I bumped into him a few days ago in a restaurant in the city."
Feng Jun Yi narrowed his eyes for the nth time now. "In the city? You didn't tell Zhen that you went out of the palace. Zhen remembered you are not allowed to until after this banquet."
'Shoot! I totally forgot.' Xulian gave him a sweet smile and tried to explain. "I was too bored and nervous for this banquet. I had to go out and unwind."
Feng Jun Yi sighed and just shook his head helplessly. He knew this woman is too hard to control. He just had to accept it and clean up after her if needed. He is her husband after all.
Seeing the whispering couple in the front hall, the crowd began to believe that the empress has a significant place in the emperor's heart. Han Yimei wring her handkerchief fiercely almost tearing it apart under her sleeves. She can't believe that her big brother Yi didn't even spare her a glance. She made sure to sit on the very front relying on her identity as the Right Prime Minister's granddaughter. She woke up before sunrise to prepare for this event only to be neglected.
The fifth prince is no better. Even though the empress moved in an elegant and ladylike way, he is sure that she is the same valiant and confident woman she met in the restaurant. And seeing her so close and even whispering whatever stuff with his emperor brother, his hate and conviction to snatch the throne is fueled. He didn't care if she is already someone else's wife. As long as he has the power, he can get whatever he wants. Even the woman he loves. He also didn't care if she isn't pure anymore. As long as she couldn't bear the emperor's child it would be enough for him to buy time.
And from this day, Xulian could detect abortion medicine on some of her food and drink for the next five years. She didn't mind it though since she didn't do it with Feng Jun Yi at all. She just shrugs and thought it was a work of the concubines which she thought as a stupid move.
The banquet started and the hall was filled with the sound of zither, qugin and flute while they enjoyed their food. After eating, the guests enjoyed their wine and tea while watching dance performances. Some officials voluntarily offered their daughters to give some performances to entertain the empress and emperor. Xulian just watched in amusement as the youthful and attractive young noble ladies performed one after another.
And as expected, Han Yimei didn't miss the chance to display herself in front of Feng Jun Yi. She played the zither, a talent she has the greatest pride of. While pulling the strings of the zither she would throw a flirtatious glance and bashful smiles at Feng Jun Yi from time to time. Seeing this, Xulian just smiled in amusement and would teasingly look at Feng Jun Yi's reaction. On the other hand, Feng Jun Yi's expression turned darker by the minute. He doesn't like women who blatantly flirt at him. And Xulian's teasing look doesn't help at all.
After her performance, she approached the couple bringing along her personal servant carrying a jar of wine. But instead of toasting to the emperor, she approached Lin Xulian first instead. She poured the wine in two cups and handed one to Lin Xulian.
"Congratulations your majesty, the empress, in your marriage. Please give Yimei the honor to have a toast to convey my well wishes."
Xulian is curious about Han Yimei's trick this time so she chose to play along. Even though she is stupid, at least she is willing to give her some amusement. She received the cup and notice a powdery substance on the cup's inside surface. It looked so subtle but Xulian is adept with medicine and poison so she could notice this tiny detail. She raised her eyebrows and swirled the liquid making sure that the powder will mix thoroughly. "Thank you Lady Han. In our family, whenever we had a gathering, we would clink our cups to express our bond as a family. Would Lady Han mind to clink our cups and treat each other as a family?"
Hearing this, Han Yimei's face turn bright. 'Is she saying she will accept me in as a concubine?' Han Yimei thought. "Of course your majesty." She said while giving Xulian a sweet smile.
When Xulian clinked their cups, she made sure to transfer some wine towards Han Yimei's cup and immediately downed the drink. Seeing Xulian drink the wine, Han Yimei also drank her wine while masking her cold smile with the cup. She didn't notice the even colder smile from Lin Xulian.