When Song Yuan got up in the morning, she was somewhat absent-minded. She decided that, before the auntie arrived, she would ask Rong Ting about things regarding the ancient times.
Rong Ting was sitting in the chair drinking warm milk.
Song Yuan stewed over the thoughts in her heart for a long while before probingly asking, “I remember that you seemed surprised that I was an only child. Did you think that I had siblings?”
“En.” Rong Ting normally kept the rule of not speaking while eating or sleeping, but seeing Empress Mother bring up a topic he was very interested in, he put down the cup in his hands, looked at her, and said hesitantly, “Gu did not know whether to mention it.”
In the beginning, he had wanted to ask about everything related to Empress Mother, but the palace was filled with Emperor Father’s informers. Whether it was the Grand Tutor or anyone else, no one was willing to divulge even a bit about matters regarding Empress Mother.
He was still young and unable to leave the palace, so the things he could hear and find out were rather limited.
“You can say it. There are no officials here, and neither is your Emperor Father. It’s just the two of us, and I promise I’ll keep it a secret.”
Song Yuan made a zipping motion as she spoke, expressing that she would definitely not say a word2.
Rong Ting was clearly very excited, but he restrained himself with great difficulty. “Gu once heard that gu’s uncle was a war god. He led soldiers like a deity, and he made great contributions to the Great Ye dynasty.”
War god, led soldiers…
Song Yuan couldn’t help associating it with that sadomasochistic, Mary-Sue dream.
She increasingly felt that she wasn’t having those dreams for no reason.
“Have you met him?”
Rong Ting shook his head. “Have not.”
“Why…” Song Yuan was puzzled. “You said he’s a war god, so he must be very powerful–at least a general. You also call him Uncle. Yet the nephew hasn’t met his uncle–isn’t that unreasonable?”
Rong Ting gazed at Song Yuan, wanting to speak but hesitating.
“Is there something you’re not saying?”
“Gu heard…” He paused. “Gu heard that the war god died in battle.”
Song Yuan’s eyes widened. She once again felt a dull pain in the depths of her heart.
He was called the war god because he was already dead. It was difficult for a living person to become a legend.
He knew that Empress Mother had forgotten many things, so when he came here, he did his utmost to avoid bringing up such topics, lest he make Empress Mother sad. Now, it seemed that he had done something wrong and mentioned something he shouldn’t have to Empress Mother.
Seeing Song Yuan not speaking, her face frozen, he walked over to her and hugged her waist. “Empress Mother, I am still here.”
He rarely used “I.”
Song Yuan unconsciously stroked his head and let out a soft ‘en.’ She was probably still affected by the dream. When she heard Rong Ting say this, she suddenly and briefly felt fear.
If all this was true, what had she gone through during the ancient times?
“I had a dream. In the dream there was a young general who came to say his farewells. He called me niangniang, and I called him gege.” Song Yuan suddenly spoke. “He said it was his heart’s desire to go to the battlefield to kill enemies and defend his country. I was very sad in my dream, and the man in the dragon robe was very mean to me.”
Rong Ting looked at her and tugged on her with his small hands. He comforted, “Empress Mother, gu no longer wishes for you to remember the past.”
Song Yuan smiled. “Why?”
“Gu does not wish for you to be unhappy.” Rong Ting said softly. “Forgetting gu does not matter. Empress Mother is fine as she is now.”
“But if I don’t remember the things that happened, won’t the people in my dreams be sad?” Song Yuan asked, downcast.
Would those who had been forgotten be sad?
Perhaps those memories that had caused her pain were also exceptionally precious.
Rong Ting didn’t understand, either. He tugged her again. “Empress Mother, did you not say yesterday you wanted to order a cake? Are we not going to invite the guests today?”
Song Yuan’s attention was diverted. She understood Rong Ting’s efforts.
“En, we will. After we have breakfast, we’ll go downstairs to invite them.”
The mother and son both tacitly agreed not to bring up the subject of the war god.
Rong Ting did not wish to make Song Yuan sad. Song Yuan felt that Rong Ting didn’t know much about this situation either, so she no longer asked.
Rong Ting only invited a few friends with whom he got along on the ball court. Song Yuan lamented that there was no young girl.
After confirming the date of the gathering, Song Yuan brought Rong Ting out to the supermarket to go shopping.
There was a child at home, and many things, such as fruit and Yakult, were consumed quickly. They had to visit the supermarket almost every week. Rong Ting enjoyed going to the supermarket, but he didn’t like sitting in the shopping cart anymore. Ever since he saw a one-year-old baby sitting in the shopping cart, he had been quite resistant to it.
“I hope you can make good friends in B City.” Song Yuan walked into the supermarket with the shopping cart. She looked down at Rong Ting and said, “Kids would be happier being together with kids, right? Anyways, thanks to you, I now have made a few more friends.”
The mothers of those kids were were also very easygoing. A few years older than Song Yuan, they were very sweet xiao jiejies.
After a few visits, she got to know them and also learned a few parenting tips. Of course, she also learned how to handle children at that age. It was a very valuable experience.
“Empress Mother loves making friends.”
“Of course! It’d be so boring otherwise,” Song Yuan told him. “I love talking to people. But some people naturally dislike coming into contact with strangers. They’re more comfortable by themselves.”
If they were going to invite children to their house, they definitely had to prepare snacks and fruit. Song Yuan was worried that the young boys would be bored, so she bought a puzzle game.
Song Yuan also bought the marinade for New Orleans BBQ chicken wings. She and Rong Ting had been living together for so long that she knew what the little boy liked to eat. Coincidentally, the things he liked to eat, she also liked…
She was just about to go to self-checkout when someone stopped her. “Yuanyuan!”
Both Song Yuan and Rong Ting turned their heads.
Rong Ting used to be dissatisfied with the fact that others called her by her first name. How could the name of the mother of a nation be called so casually? Later, he got used to it, because everyone here was like this.
Song Yuan was somewhat surprised to find that it was Ji Junpei. After Rong Heng’s enlightenment, she was now more at ease when facing him, and now she treated him as a normal friend. “Xuezhang, what a coincidence.”
Ji Junpei strode over, smiling. “En, I was here to look at houses. I was just wondering if I would bump into you.” He raised his hand and glanced at the time. “It’s just about time for dinner. Let’s have a meal together.”
“That’s… I’m sorry, xuezhang, the auntie at home has already cooked food.” Song Yuan gestured to Rong Ting. “The little one doesn’t like to eat out. He’s not used to it.”
Ji Junpei had already noticed the child next to Song Yuan.
Rong Ting looked at Ji Junpei. If it were before, he would have been dissatisfied with a person of the opposite sex talking to Song Yuan. Now, after living here for several months, he could treat it as normal.
Ji Junpei smiled at Rong Ting. “Hi, little kid, do you really not like eating out? How about if Uncle buys you KFC and Pizza Hut?”
…With the occasional exception, Rong Ting did not like KFC very much, nor did he like pizza.
If the auntie at home made New Orleans wings, or if Song Yuan made pizza with french fries on a whim, then he would love it. He just didn’t like eating out. He was a rather individualistic kid.
Rong Ting vigilantly shook his head.
“I rarely take him out to eat KFC,” Song Yuan said. “Xuezhang, I’m sorry, but today’s really not a good day. Another day. I’ll invite you out to dinner another day, when my boyfriend comes back from his business trip.”
When Rong Ting heard Song Yuan say this, his ears quietly perked up.
Once before, he had heard Empress Mother say these words to an unfamiliar man. At the time, they had returned home, and he had angrily questioned her. Empress Mother said that this was a sort of tactful way of declining. When others heard her say this, they would not ask for her phone number, or ask her out to dinner or a movie. It could be considered a panacea.
Empress Mother said it again. Didn’t that mean that this uncle also adored Empress Mother!
He had come here only to discover that many men admired Empress Mother!
“That’s fine.” Ji Junpei was not an absolutely shameless person. Although he knew that Song Yuan didn’t have a boyfriend, he didn’t tear down her face. “Do you have time in the afternoon? I’m not very familiar with this area, and I want to go take a look at more properties.”
Just as Song Yuan was about to decline, Rong Ting suddenly cried out, “Mom, I’m hungry! I want to go back and eat!”
When Ji Junpei heard what he had called Song Yuan, he was startled. He looked at Song Yuan with some surprise.
Song Yuan knew that Rong Ting was upset. She smiled and stroked his head. “Okay, we’ll be done soon.”
This child occasionally would cooperate tacitly with her. Sometimes, she would be approached by people while she was out shopping. For some people who were persistent despite her saying she had a boyfriend, Gugu would call her Mom, and those people would quickly retreat in shock.
Ji Junpei was not a fool. He and Song Yuan were very familiar with each other; he didn’t believe that she would have such a grown child.
He carefully appraised the child beside her and felt that his looks were very similar to hers. He immediately guessed who he was.
He should be her father’s child.
He had heard about some things regarding her family from some of their mutual friends.
He wasn’t surprised that she got along so well with her half-brother3. He knew that Song Yuan was kind, and she was very popular in school.
He wasn’t going to expose the little boy. He had been his age, after all. Some younger brothers loved their older sisters but were extremely hostile to their sister’s suitors. This kind of thing wasn’t uncommon.
“Alright, Yuanyuan, I’ll contact you next time.” Ji Junpei made a phone calling gesture, but didn’t ask Song Yuan about her relationship with Rong Ting, leaving Song Yuan a bit puzzled.
Song Yuan made a sound of agreement and took Rong Ting to the self-checkout machine.
Rong Ting turned around and saw that Ji Junpei was still looking in their direction. He shot him a glare, looking adorably fierce.
 奶凶: lit. milk(y) + fierce. Describes a person or thing that’s trying to look fierce/angry but ends up looking “fierce” instead. Common with pictures of baby animals, but apparently Jennie from Blackpink could be considered a human example?? I was THIS close to choosing angwy or angery as the translation
 守口如瓶: to guard one’s mouth like a closed bottle; fig. tight-lipped
 Specifically same father, different mothers
Cheese: brb, ugly crying at how accepting and caring rong ting is *gestures to The Cucumber* YOU DON’T DESERVE SUCH A GOOD SON AND WIFE