Cheng Yuanjing knew that Cheng Yujin detested hearing Huo Changyuan’s name, so he skipped the detail and casually said: “I heard it just now. Did the manor celebrate your birthday?”
“No.” Cheng Yujin shook her head lightly, seemingly didn’t care at all: “It’s just an ordinary day, a symbol without special meaning. There is no need to make a great fanfare of it. Moreover, I am still observing mourning. Compared to celebrating birthdays, having the reputation of filiality is more important for my future.”
Cheng Yujin didn’t like birthdays. Since she could remember things, she always shared her birthday with Cheng Yumo. Cheng Yujin’s identity was already awkward, and Cheng Yumo had both her biological parents and two younger brothers to celebrate her birthday. So whenever the two spent their birthday together, Cheng Yujin would always be the one getting compared. After a while, Cheng Yujin no longer felt any interest in her birthday. She didn’t like being stepped on, and no one liked to do something only to be compared with another person. In fact, this year’s birthday was pretty good. It was quiet and calm with no noisy banquets, and she only took her gift and walked away.
“How can it’s not important.” Cheng Yuanjing sighed. “That is the day you were born. A special day belongs only to you. Of course it’s very important. I missed your birthday, what kind of gift do you want? I will make it up for you.”
Cheng Yuanjing didn’t know that her birthday was on the 20th of the twelfth month. Otherwise, he definitely would have come back in time. Now that it was too late, he could only make it up with presents.
Cheng Yujin was a little flattered: “No need.”
“No problem. Just say.”
Cheng Yujin thought of Cheng Yuanjing’s birthday. He was born on the fifth day of the fifth month, the unlucky day and unlucky month. Because of his birthday, Empress Dowager Yang denounced him to have a short life, and even his birth mother, Empress Zhong, was also affected.
Cheng Yujin suddenly felt overwhelmed by an inexplicable emotion. Cheng Yuanjing had been living outside since he was six years old. Probably, no one had remembered or celebrated his birthday. What did he feel every year when seeing everyone drove away evil spirits on his birthday?
Cheng Yuanjing never celebrated his birthday, so he wanted to compensate her.
Thinking about this, Cheng Yujin fell silent. Cheng Yuanjing had noticed the change in her expression from the beginning, and could roughly guess what she was thinking. Cheng Yuanjing never cared about the remark made by Empress Dowager Yang. They all said that he wouldn’t live long, but unfortunately for them, he had lived to this day.
Cheng Yuanjing worried that Cheng Yujin might be thinking too much. He glanced at her and said: “You don’t have to overthink. There is no need to worry about me. Just tell me what you want. There is no way I am not going to fulfill your birthday wish.”
Cheng Yujin didn’t believe this. She looked up at Cheng Yuanjing and said mischievously: “Ninth Uncle, can you give me anything I want?”
Cheng Yuanjing chuckled. If others said this, it would be a great taboo. After all, if Cheng Yujin said that she wanted the throne, she would commit a great crime. However, with Cheng Yuanjing here, it was really possible.
He could give her anything—wealth, power, glory, even the throne.
Cheng Yuanjing indulged her willfulness: “Just say it.”
“Then I won’t hold back. My wish is that in the future, I can live happily, with my own children and grandchildren, have nothing to worry about, and no one would oppose my will.”
Cheng Yujin deliberately asked for a blank promise. There was no real form in those words; how could they be fulfilled? But one dared to ask, and the other dared to give. Cheng Yuanjing smiled and looked at her very meaningfully: “It’s easy.”
Once again, Cheng Yujin saw a strange look in Cheng Yuanjing’s eyes, but she couldn’t figure out what it was. Fortunately, they happened to arrive at Shou’an Hall. Cheng Yujin secretly sighed in relief and was about to walk into the courtyard when she heard Cheng Yuanjing suddenly said: “You are not allowed to call ‘Brother Lin’ again.”
Cheng Yujin was stunned and paused her steps. Cheng Yuanjing had already bypassed her and now was standing on the stone step ahead. The height difference between the two was already a lot, but now that Cheng Yuanjing was standing in an elevated position, the gap was even bigger. Cheng Yuanjing found that this position was particularly convenient for him to touch the top of Cheng Yujin’s head, so he didn’t hold back and reached out to rub her soft, silky hair.
Cheng Yujin reacted in time and avoided his hand in annoyance. Cheng Yuanjing felt regretful, but he knew that other Cheng family members were nearby, and Cheng Yujin needed to mind her appearance, so he didn’t persist. He withdrew his hand and said: “You call me uncle, yet you call him brother? You are not allowed to do it again in the future.”
Cheng Yujin was reluctant. After all, Cheng Yuanjing was not her real uncle. Strictly speaking, Lin Qingyuan was her peers; how could she call him ‘Uncle Lin’? It was ridiculous. If Cheng Yujin wanted to Lin Qingyuan, she must subtly change Lin Qingyuan’s perception of herself, from a friend’s niece to an unmarried girl of the same generation.
Was there better a cover than calling him ‘Brother’? Cheng Yujin first planned to call him ‘Brother Lin,’ then ‘Brother Qingyuan,’ and finally ‘Qingyuan.’ Such a great plan, why did Cheng Yuanjing have to hinder her?
Cheng Yujin struggled to refute, “But, I’m about the same age as Compiler Lin…”
Cheng Yuanjing didn’t like to hear this reasoning. He and Cheng Yujin were not much different in age, yet she regarded him as an elder. He had never been called ‘Brother’ by Cheng Yujin; how could he let Lin Qingyuan take this advantage for nothing?
“No.” Cheng Yuanjing cut off Cheng Yujin’s rebuttal with no compromise. “In the family, seniority is the most important. My generation is his generation, understand?”
Cheng Yujin lowered her head and responded weakly, “I understand.”
Cheng Yuanjing glanced down at the meek-looking girl, and knew very well that she still didn’t give up.
The head under this soft and silky hair was probably made of hardwood, very stubborn.
Having this thought, Cheng Yuanjing lightly knocked Cheng Yujin’s head. Cheng Yujin quickly covered her head and glared angrily: “What are you doing?”
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