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On the fourteenth of the seventh month, Li Chengjing woke up quietly before dawn. The eunuchs on duty outside immediately entered after hearing the Crown Prince’s summon, holding a full set of court attire.
Li Chengjing took a total of seven days’ leave for his wedding. Today the leave was over, and he resumed his duty as the crown prince. His daily schedule was like that of the Emperor. Windy or rainy, sunny or snowy, he attended the morning court and listened to the governmental affairs every day.
The morning court was held at dawn at Chengtian Palace. No matter how bad the weather was, it couldn’t be easily canceled. Moreover, the morning court was a solemn occasion. If a court official appeared to the morning court badly dressed or showed improper manners, he would receive heavy impeachment. This impeachment was not a joke. Ended lightly, the offending official would receive disciplinary action. Ended badly, and he would lose his official status. As for being late? Don’t even think about it.
That was the case for the courtiers, so the demands were naturally even stricter for the Crown Prince, who was the example for the whole world. The eunuchs moved swiftly but cautiously, preparing Li Chengjing for the morning court. Last night, he had given a strict order, forbidding them to make any noises that might wake up the Crown Princess.
Inside the heavy brocade curtain, Cheng Yujin slept peacefully, not noticing that Li Chengjing was gone. In her sleep, she turned over to the other side where Li Chengjing originally was. Vaguely feeling that the person who was supposed to be there was no longer here, Cheng Yujin was startled and suddenly woke up.
Only a quilt with remaining warmth was left, but the person was gone.
Cheng Yujin remembered that today was Li Chengjing’s first day attending morning court after the wedding, so she immediately sat up and put on her shoes. Hearing the sound inside, Li Chengjing immediately raised his hand to signal the eunuchs to stop. He turned back, returned to the sleeping chamber, and opened the curtain: “Why are you awake?”
“Your Highness is returning to the court today. As the Crown Princess, how can I be absent.”
“It’s okay.” Li Chengjing said, “I will attend the morning court every day, so it’s not a big deal. It’s still early. Go back and sleep a bit more.”
“No.” Cheng Yujin shook her head firmly, “Today is a very important day. I will send Your Highness personally.”
She had stood up and randomly put on a set of home clothes from the wardrobe. At this moment, her long hair was not tied up and wrapped inside her clothes. Cheng Yujin moved her hand to the back of her neck, casually wound her hair around her wrist, then gently pulled it out from the collar. Like a waterfall, the silky smooth hair made a beautiful arc and softly fell on her back. Cheng Yujin stopped caring about her hair. She lowered her head and neatly buttoned her shirt, then walked towards Li Chengjing with a smile: “Your Highness.”
Li Chengjing watched the series of actions, then watched Cheng Yujin walk towards him as if it was the most normal thing to do. His gaze softened: “Yes.”
With the Crown Princess here, all the eunuchs naturally gave way. They stood on both sides, holding Li Chengjing’s clothes and paraphernalia, ready to hand each item as needed swiftly. Cheng Yujin stood on tiptoe, putting on a red shirt for Li Chengjing and neatly shaping the collar. She then took a leather belt from one of the brocade-overlayed trays, put her hand around Li Chengjing’s waist, and tied it in the front.
When Cheng Yujin lowered her head to tie his belt, Li Chengjing also looked down at her. A crown prince’s court attire was dark red, and Li Chengjing looked very handsome and vigorous in it. His sleeves were also very wide. In order to make it easier for Cheng Yujin to clothe him, Li Chengjing slightly spread out both his hands to the side. As a result, the long sleeves were hanging down naturally, surrounding Cheng Yujin’s body.
With the dark-red court attire as the backdrop, Cheng Yujin’s exquisite face looked even more picturesque. Focusing on tying the leather belt, her expression was very serious, a total opposite to the casualness she showed when pulling out her hair from her collar just now.
The crown prince’s court attire symbolizing power and a beauty who stood right in front of him, dressing him with her own hands. At this moment, their distance was very close. As long as he closed his hands, she would be trapped in his embrace.
Cheng Yujin finished buckling the leather belt. Next, she took the knee cover, jade pendant, silk rope, and other small accessories, tying them one by one to the belt. Finished, she took two steps back and took the court cap from the last tray. She then raised her head and smiled at Li Chengjing: “Your Highness, please lower your head.”
Li Chengjing glanced at her deeply and then lowered his neck. Cheng Yujin put the cap on top of his head, wrapped the black rope behind his ears, then tied it at his chin.
With this, everything was ready. Ciqing Palace’s servants were already waiting outside, standing with their eyes down. Li Chengjing said: “I’m leaving. It’s still early. You don’t have to send me out. Go back to sleep.”
Cheng Yujin shook her head again. She took a thin cloak from a palace maid’s hand and draped it over herself, saying: “I want to send Your Highness off personally.”
Li Chengjing yielded. The couple walked until the front gate of Ciqing Palace, where Cheng Yujin stopped. Ciqing Palace was not far from the morning court site, so Li Chengjing walked instead of using a hand-drawn carriage. He took two steps and looked back. He saw Cheng Yujin, draped in a blue cloak and with a lantern in her hand, standing in front of the palace gate.
At this moment, the sun had begun to rise. The first rays of dawn fell upon Cheng Yujin, warmly and softly. She stood under the dim light, surrounded by palace maids on both sides, with the palace red walls and green tiles as a background, like a star that had mistakenly fallen into the world.
Seeing Li Chengjing turning back, Cheng Yujin nodded and smiled slightly: “Your Highness, I am waiting for your return.”
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