Look, she’d actually never met him.
When Song Yuan arrived at the academy, many parents were waiting outside.
Rong Ting was the last to come out, his pace neither hurried nor slow. When he saw Song Yuan, a smile emerged on his originally expressionless face.
“Was today tiring?” Song Yuan asked as she tried to take his backpack.
Rong Ting dodged. “One should carry one’s own backpack.”
“Fine, are you tired today? You had two classes in a row. All together that’s almost three hours.”
Children’s schedules nowadays were quite packed. Song Yuan remembered that when she was five or six years old, she played like crazy. Every day was free of concerns or worry and so leisurely. Of course, this led to the fact that, until now, she had no talents to speak of…
“Not tired.” Rong Ting shook his head. “There were more things to learn in the palace.”
Song Yuan felt a bit uncomfortable hearing him mention things about the ancient times, as it reminded her of Rong Heng.
“En, it must have been lively celebrating a friend’s birthday. When it’s your birthday, why don’t we spend it here and ask other friends to accompany you?”
Rong Ting recalled how everyone had been singing the birthday song and vehemently shook his head. “Absolutely not.”
“Why? The more the merrier.”
“Not all children enjoy liveliness.”
Rong Ting had gained some meat during this period of time, and his face had grown chubby, into a bun face. He was clearly a cute child, but he always spoke seriously and solemnly, and this gave off a sharp contrast.
“Okay, then.” Song Yuan said regretfully.
“Also, Empress Mother,” Rong Ting remembered an important matter, “has the paternity test result come out?”
Song Yuan was flustered, but she quickly covered it up. “Why are you in such a hurry?”
“Last time I and Empress Mother took the paternity test, it only took three days to know the results. Three days have passed, so I think the results should have already come out.”
“…” It was so hard to fool this kid!
Song Yuan said helplessly, “The results haven’t come out yet. I called them and asked, and they said that recently there have been a lot of people taking paternity tests, and it’s almost New Year’s, so it’ll take longer than usual. It’ll probably be a few days. Also, every institution is different. The one we went to last time…” she paused, “was more expensive! More expensive tests are faster.”
Rong Ting “en”d in acknowledgement.
Seeing that he didn’t continue to press the issue, Song Yuan quietly felt relieved.
While they waited for the traffic lights to change to cross the street, Rong Ting unzipped his backpack and pulled out a lollipop and a jelly cup1. “For you.”
Song Yuan was astonished. “Who bought this for you?”
She didn’t remember buying this at the supermarket a few days earlier.
Rong Ting was a bit embarrassed, but he still chose to answer, “The parents of the birthday girl bought many snacks. The other children took some, as did I.”
“Gugu’s so nice. You remember me when you see something delicious.” Song Yuan accepted the two snacks. “You should eat less sugar for now. I’ve already made an appointment for a checkup in two days. Of course, we’ll need to see your teeth. Teeth are very important. If your teeth don’t grow well, you may have to wear braces when you’re older.”
Rong Ting hadn’t yet lost his baby teeth.
Song Yuan had consulted some dentists, who said that the majority of children begin losing their baby teeth when they were five or six.
“I almost forgot to tell you. Your grandma and grandpa are here. They’re at home right now.”
Rong Ting was astonished. “Grandfather and Grandmother have come? Aren’t they out on a business trip?”
Song Yuan thought to herself, someone say the sky was falling!
“They passed by B City during their business trip, so they came over to see you,” Song Yuan lied without a change in expression.
Rong Ting was delighted. “Empress Mother, let us hurry. Let’s not make them wait too long.”
“Okay! Let’s race!” Song Yuan pointed to the intersection up ahead. “Whoever gets there first is the winner.”
Rong Ting: “Empress Mother…”
It seemed a bit childish, but seeing her looking eager to try, he just nodded his head.
Song Yuan wouldn’t go easy on Rong Ting just because he was a child or her son. She sprinted across, and she laughed upon seeing Rong Ting using great effort but failing to pass her.
Her happiness was very simple.
She was satisfied playing childishly together with Gugu, like this.
When they returned home, Chen Linjing was sitting at the table eating takeout, while Song Haiping sat on the sofa eating Dongbei boiled dumplings2, which was also takeout.
The two were happy to see Rong Ting had returned. Song Haiping in particular hugged Rong Ting and spun around once. When he placed him back down, he pretended to be serious. “You’ve gotten heavy. It seems you’ve been eating well lately.”
“Of course.” Rong Ting hadn’t been used to it at first, but after some time, he started to enjoy the feeling of being lifted up high. “We ate Mongolian hot pot a few days ago.”
“You eat well and sleep well every day. It’s a child’s blessing. Unlike Grandpa, who’s busy every day, 365 days a year.”
The three adults tacitly covered up their inner panic and anxiety. At the very least, they would be happy and at ease in front of the child.
Even though Rong Ting was already full, Song Haiping managed to feed him dumplings.
The child had Taekwondo today, so his physical strength had been quickly depleted. Normally he would fall asleep at 9:30, but today he slept at 9. Song Haiping took on the task of reading bedtime stories, and he read Water Margin in his deep middle-aged man’s voice.
Bit by bit, Rong Ting slowly fell asleep.
He slept fairly deeply.
When he had fallen asleep, Song Haiping carefully closed the door. He looked to his daughter and ex-wife sitting on the sofa and asked, “Family meeting in the living room or bedroom?”
Chen Linjing had already stood up. “Outside. It won’t be good if Rong Ting wakes up and hears us talking.”
Song Yuan didn’t think that Rong Ting would wake up, but she did want to cover it up a little more.
“Fine. I’m sleeping here today. Did you book a hotel?” he asked her.
Ever since the two of them had divorced, they’d never again shared a home for the night.
Chen Linjing didn’t like being sticky and ambiguous with her ex-husband. If not for her daughter, she wouldn’t even be able to accept breathing under the same roof as him.
“En, it’s around here.”
Song Haiping grabbed his car keys. “Alright, Yuanyuan and I will drop you off. We’ll go out and talk. We can’t stay outside for too long, though. It’s not good to leave the child alone at home.”
The three were very careful as they left, afraid they would wake up Rong Ting.
The hotel Chen Linjing booked was not far from the community; it only took ten minutes to walk there. Driving was even faster.
The heater turned on, and the temperature in the car soon heated up. Song Haiping sat in the driver’s seat. He turned his head to look at the mother-daughter pair sitting in the back and asked, “Should we go back in a few days?”
Chen Linjing gave her daughter a glance and sighed. “I don’t think it’s that simple. Of course, we can go back anytime we want, but do you really think that Rong Ting’s dad… looks like someone who’s easy to deal with3?”
Song Yuan: “…”
Song Haiping, who had always been at odds with Chen Linjing, agreed with her this time. “I’m confident that he’s no pushover. I can tell! He definitely wants to use the identity of Rong Ting’s father to trap Yuanyuan.”
“Whatever he wants, I don’t think he’s trying to take on the responsibility of being a father, like he said.” Chen Linjing sighed. “As for saying it’s for Yuanyuan, it doesn’t seem quite right. I suspect he wants to get involved with our family. After all, he’s unfamiliar with life here and could be exposed at any time. But it’s different if he has someone to help him. He just wants us to help him.”
Song Haiping suddenly has a flash of inspiration. “I agree! This makes sense. Huh huh, he’s indeed an emperor. His intelligence is much greater than the average person.”
Song Yuan was a bit doubtful. “But isn’t it better the fewer people know something like this? I think… that’s not it.”
“Yuanyuan, you just trust people too easily. It’s true that the fewer people who know the better, but that’s for outsiders. We’re different. Rong Ting is your child and our grandson. Even if it’s Rong Ting, we have to keep our lips sealed4.” Song Haiping’s face was as black as the bottom of a pot. “It’s such a relationship where our lips are sealed tighter than the dead.”
Chen Linjing was also helpless. “We still have to discuss this matter carefully. Song Haiping, you know more people in B City than me. Go ask around and find out what’s going on in the Xie family.”
“En. Yuanyuan, what are you going to say to Rong Ting?”
Song Yuan also had a headache over this issue. She was silent for a moment. “I haven’t thought of anything yet. I’ll keep thinking.”
Chen Linjing and Song Haiping exchanged glances. They couldn’t make a decision on her behalf for this matter; they couldn’t even give suggestions. After all, they were only Rong Ting’s grandpa and grandma.
Song Yuan naturally felt conflicted.
On the one hand, she didn’t want to lie to him about such a big matter. Since she was young, her parents had never deceived her.
On the other hand, she wanted to protect Rong Ting. It would probably be safest if he didn’t know anything.
In a large apartment in B City, Rong Heng stood in front of the floor-to-window ceiling. He laughed upon recalling all the things from today.
In those few years, he could’ve been considered to have a poker face5. When they had first married, they had occasionally argued over Meng Qingrong. She thought he was like his father, unable to tolerate meritorious generals who overshadowed the master. She looked down on him too much. Do not suspect those below you, and do not use those you do not trust. When he had first met Meng Qingrong, the two of them had indeed hit it off. He appreciated Meng Qingrong’s conduct and abilities, and Meng Qingrong praised his insights on the world. The two could be considered confidants6.
He had never forgotten that day. Although he had hidden his identity, they had already exchanged their feelings. That day, he had come across a luminous wine glass7 and had wanted to leave the palace to give it to her. But when he arrived at the General’s residence, he was informed that she had followed the General’s Madam to the temple. Before he returned, he still needed to visit Meng Qingrong.
Meng Qingrong had been drunk.
This was a rare occurrence. Meng Qingring was not a good drinker and rarely indulged in alcohol.
Meng Qingrong was so drunk that he had Xiao Si go prepare a bowl of sobering soup. There was nobody else in the room.
He watched Meng Qingrong continue to chant and mutter. A bit curious, he leaned in closer to listen and heard him call out a name–
Later on, there were always people who speculated that he was afraid of Meng Qingrong, and that the General’s estate would not end well, even if the empress had come from the General’s estate.
How could that be? He had never feared Meng Qingrong in court, and he even believed in Meng Qingrong’s untainted heart8.
He cherished Meng Qingrong’s abilities, and as long as he was on the throne, he would not do foolish things. On the other hand, he felt towards Meng Qingrong the sort of jealousy an ordinary man would have for his rival in love.
In the early years, he couldn’t bear hearing her mention Meng Qingrong. In her eyes, he couldn’t tolerate the General’s estate, and he was a muddle-headed and ridiculous king like his father.
 郎果冻: a childhood staple
 东北大水饺: I’m unsure what Dongbei-style would entail (specific ingredients? The shape of the dumpling?). Regardless, they sure look appetizing…
 省油的灯: lit. oil-efficient/oil-saving lamp; someone who is easy to deal with
 This confused me on the first round of translations, but I think Song Haiping is pointing out the flaw in Song Yuan’s doubt re: Rong Heng’s motivations (see previous paragraph). The fewer people who know the better, yes, but it’s different for Song Haiping and Chen Linjing, because Rong Ting is their grandson, and they have a compelling reason to help keep Rong Heng’s secret. And that’s why Rong Heng wouldn’t have any qualms about their family knowing of his identity and his relationship with Rong Ting.
 喜怒不形于色: neither anger nor joy is shown on the face; to be expressionless, or to not show one’s emotions. I believe this phrase is explaining the reason why there’s a misunderstanding between Song Yuan and Rong Heng regarding the issue of Meng Qingrong.
 知己: lit. know the self; a close or intimate friend (who knows you like you know yourself). The emphasis seems heavy on the friendship part
 夜光杯: shapes and sizes seem to vary, but from what I’ve seen, they’re all made of the same material
 赤子之心: sincere; pure and innocent like the heart of a newborn
Cheese: im assuming based on context that mqr is sy’s adoptive brother?