Between a Rock and a Hard Place
It was raining outside the hall, and it was cool and overcast; the summer had passed and the maple leaves had turned fiery red in September.
Xuan Long still did not look well; he looked even weaker than Ning Zhiyu, and his consciousness was always dull when the soul-devouring pain flared up.
Yan Yuan saw him shivering and thought he was cold, so he got under the covers and hugged him tightly.
“A'Po, what's wrong with you..."
"Tell me, what exactly can be done to cure you..."
Xuan Long closed his eyes and mumbled back to him vaguely, "Nothing."
The last time Ning Zhiyu came to Qiankun Palace to look for Yan Yuan was half a month ago.
During this period, Yan Yuan went to see Ning Zhiyu several times, and also asked Xuan Long for dragon scales for Ning Zhiyu.
Xuan Long was generous every time, the dragon scales over his heart were just formed and he plucked all of them off and gave them to Yan Yuan.
His health was getting worse and worse, and he would get sick every few days, so no matter how big his heart was, Yan Yuan noticed that something was wrong.
He kissed Xuan Long on the corner of his forehead and said worriedly, "You always say that.
What is it that you are hiding from me...
Don't you lie to me, I'll be scared if you do."
"There is nothing..." Xuan Long curled up in his arms, his voice faint and hoarse.
Yan Yuan refused to believe him: "Tell me what is wrong with you.
I'll go find a way to save you, okay...
No matter how hard it is, I will go."
"There is nothing..." After all was said and done, that was all Xuan Long had to say.
Other than that, there was nothing more to say.
What would be the point of telling Yan Yuan just to make him worry
Yan Yuan put his hand on Xuan Long's abdomen, and through the thin tunic, he could clearly feel the abnormal bulge there.
He had noticed it the last few times he had made love to Xuan Long, but he hadn't thought much of it at the time.
But recently, Xuan Long had become thinner and thinner.
"You obviously eat so little, yet your stomach keeps getting rounder and rounder, is it some strange disease"
Xuan Long opened his out-of-focus turquoise eyes to look at Yan Yuan and called out to him in a low voice, “A'Yuan..."
Yan Yuan tightened his arms, as if he wanted to rub him into his bones and blood: "I am here."
"In a few days, it will be your birthday." Xuan Long was actually uncomfortable being hugged, he was already in pain all over, but he did not struggle.
It was perhaps because the embrace was so warm that a smile appeared at the corners of his lips.
"Mmm." Yan Yuan replied to him in a warm voice, "Do you want to give me any birthday gifts"
Xuan Long couldn't hold himself up and closed his eyes.
Yan Yuan thought there would be no more to follow, and after a while, he only heard Xuan Long say with increasing faintness, "In a few days...
I will tell you."
Yan Yuan's heart was entangled in a strong uneasiness, and he asked the man in his arms in a mute voice: "You're going to sleep again"
you are always like this, I am always afraid that you will suddenly leave me one day."
"You said you would stay with me for a hundred years, you can't go back on your word."
“En." Xuan Long couldn't hear what he was saying and subconsciously responded.
He had nothing precious to give to Yan Yuan, and the only thing he was careful to protect at this time was the child in his womb.
Yan Yuan had recently become much more attentive to him, so he must really have some affection for him, just as he had said.
If that was the case, he would not reject their child.
He had been hesitant to say anything before, but now that he had some courage, he wanted to tell him on Yan Yuan's birthday to give him a surprise.
He probably won't last three years...
It's better to tell Yan Yuan early, lest his belly really grows and scares him.
It didn't take long for Xuan Long to fall asleep in Yan Yuan's arms.
Feeling bored to death in his heart, Yan Yuan twisted the corner of the blanket, put on his clothes, and got up to leave the room.
"Your Majesty." Chen Yan saw him come out and bowed to him.
With his hands behind his back, Yan Yuan looked at the sky that was as dark as night and asked lightly, "How is the Empress these days"
Chen Yan sighed, "The same as always, sometimes good, sometimes bad."
Yan Yuan was silent for a moment: "I will go and see him."
“Ai, okay." Chen Yan took the oil paper umbrella from the side of the hall door and followed Yan Yuan.
The atmosphere in Luanfeng Hall was not much better than Qiankun Palace, as the master had been ill for a long time and everyone was sad.
Yan Yuan arrived, and the young eunuchs guarding the hall immediately had a smile on their faces and were about to bow when they saw him, but Yan Yuan stopped them with a gesture and dismissed them.
When he entered, Ning Zhiyu was sitting on the bed in a daze.
He still looked the same, wearing a white silk tunic with a navy blue brocade quilt covering his waist, his long hair half tied and half draped in front of his body.
Hearing footsteps and thinking it was the palace staff, he did not look over.
Yan Yuan knew that he had spent too much time and energy on Xuan Long, and had left the one he should be caring for out in the cold.
It would have been better if Ning Zhiyu had made a scene with him, but it was because he was as quiet as ever and didn't make any noise that made him feel even more guilty.
Yan Yuan stopped a short distance away and called softly to him, “A'Yu."
Ning Zhiyu's body shook slightly, then he suddenly turned his head to look, his pale face appearing happy: “A'Yuan..."
Yan Yuan slowly walked to the bed.
Ning Zhiyu looked at him with unblinking eyes, "You're here..."
"Mm." Yan Yuan sat down on the edge of the bed, hesitated, and spoke.
Why do you need to apologise" Ning Zhiyu's smile froze slightly.
Yan Yuan was very slightly dejected: "I'm sorry for having left you out in the cold these days."
Ning Zhiyu paused: “It’s nothing...
I know you're busy."
Yan Yuan hung his head and whispered, "He's sick.
Very sick… and probably won't get better."
"I always thought that a demon with ten thousand years of Tao like him would not be ill."
"It is me who has caused him to suffer."
what should I do..."
Ning Zhiyu's hand hanging on the brocade quilt tightened slightly, and he smiled, "Then you should treat him well, the worst that can happen is that in the future, I won't use the medicine."
Yan Yuan gently shook his head, "It has nothing to do with you."
"I have a vague feeling that he has become like this because he saved me."
"But no matter how much I ask him, he refuses to admit it."
Ning Zhiyu held Yan Yuan's hand in silence.
The corners of Yan Yuan's eyes started to redden: "Although I coaxed him to my side, I did not want him to die..."
In the past, Yan Yuan would only show such an expression for him, but now he is sad for someone else in front of him.
Ning Zhiyu's heart was sore and he squeezed Yan Yuan's hand, bracing his spirit to comfort him, "He probably won't.
You said that he has ten thousand years of Tao, he is that powerful, surely he is only suffering from a temporary illness, he will be fine."
Yan Yuan stopped talking and sat there as if he had lost his soul.
When he did not speak, Ning Zhiyu kept him company quietly.
It was completely dark outside the window, and it was raining heavily.
A muffled thunderstorm woke Yan Yuan up from his daze.
He got up and wanted to leave, muttering that Xuan Long would wake up later and that he would be disappointed if he didn't see him when he woke up.
Ning Zhiyu's nose turned sour as he looked at Yan Yuan's tall back and called out to him, “A'Yuan."
Yan Yuan stopped sluggishly and half turned around to look at him.
"You haven't been with me properly for a long time, so stay with me longer." Ning Zhiyu smiled.
Yan Yuan pursed his lips without speaking, seemingly hesitating.
"Stay tonight," Ning Zhiyu was still smiling, “okay..."
He rarely begged him like this, in the past, Yan Yuan had always given him whatever he wanted.
Now that Ning Zhiyu had Xuan Long's scales to renew his life, and Xuan Long didn't have anyone who could even diagnose him, even though Yan Yuan didn't know exactly what was wrong with him, he could guess, based on his instincts, that he was in danger.
At times like this, it was impossible to leave someone.
It was because Yan Yuan was so frustrated that he couldn't find anyone to talk to that he couldn't resist coming over to talk to Ning Zhiyu.
In this palace, there were few people who he could confide in, and Ning Zhiyu was the closest person to him.
Strangely enough, when Yan Yuan came to see him, he did not feel much comfort, but rather felt that after only a short period of time, the two of them had become somewhat estranged.
Yan Yuan's hesitation was like a sharp blade hanging around Ning Zhiyu's neck, and the knife fell, breaking the tendons that had been taut in his heart for so long.
Ning Zhiyu laughed miserably and coughed out a large mouthful of blood.
The thunder outside the hall rumbled, the closed window was broken by the fierce wind, and the lightning instantly reflected his face in white.
He crouched on the edge of the bed, covering his mouth and coughing his heart out, and the floor was covered in splatters of blood.
Yan Yuan's pupils constricted and he rushed over on reflex: “A'Yu–"
What the hell was he thinking, this is his true love...
Ning Zhiyu coughed so hard that he almost lost his breath.
Yan Yuan shouted to the palace staff while taking out a handkerchief to wipe away the blood from the corners of his mouth,“A'Yu..."
The palace staff came in and cleaned up the blood on the floor, and when everything had quieted down, it was already half an hour later.
Ning Zhiyu was lying weakly on the bed, half-dozing and looking at Yan Yuan by the bedside: “A’Yuan.
Yan Yuan nervously held his hand: "No, how can I leave with you like this..."
"This looks as if I am forcing you to stay...
I just miss you so much that I can't help but take an inch." Ning Zhiyu had a smile on his face and breathlessly said, “Don't blame me."
Yan Yuan shook his head: "How can I blame you, I don't blame you."
"He needs you more than I do now...
I know that." Ning Zhiyu closed his eyes and tears slipped out of the corners of his eyes.
Remembering the scene in that dream, Yan Yuan's heart ached.
He tenderly raised his hand to wipe his tears: "I am not leaving, I will stay with you tonight.
Don't talk anymore, rest well."
Half an hour later, the palace staff brought over the medicine.
Yan Yuan woke Ning Zhiyu up and gave it to him.
In the dark soup was Xuan Long's scales, and while he had felt nothing before, now it was a mix of flavours.
The wound in Xuan Long's heart will take a long time to heal again...
Yan Yuan promised Ning Zhiyu that he would stay and would not leave tonight.
He told Chen Yan to go back and tell Xuan Long.
After washing up, he went to bed early and laid beside Ning Zhiyu.
The reason he and Ning Zhiyu had not yet consummated their marriage was because he had always been concerned about the other party's frailty, and strangely enough, he did not seem to have much urge to lie under the same covers with Ning Zhiyu in this way.
He just thought he was good-looking and felt that he deserved to be pitied.
On the contrary, when he was with Xuan Long, as soon as he got closer, he could not help himself...
There was a dim candle flame burning in the hall, and Yan Yuan was lying on his side, looking at Ning Zhiyu's quiet sleeping face, and falling asleep with his own chaotic thoughts on his pillow.
In the dead of night, Ning Zhiyu, who should have been sleeping, slowly opened his eyes.