Rong Heng’s expression froze. “Really?”
Rong Ting didn’t understand what Song Yuan meant. He was not aware of the past events between his parents, but for some reason, when he heard his Empress Mother speak in such a light tone, his heart felt uncomfortable. Pursing his lips, he hugged her arm, rubbing his little head lovingly against her shoulder, and whispered, “Empress Mother, Emperor Father may have deceived me and deceived you, but Empress Mother, I will never deceive you, never lie to you. If there is any secret, I will tell you first.”
Song Yuan returned to her senses. When she heard these childlike words, she reached out to touch his face, saying softly, “En, it’s a promise!”
In fact, when she first found out she was pregnant, she had initially been extremely repulsed. It was because she knew that the situation between her and Rong Heng was not suitable for having children. She had always felt that a child should not become the tie1 between two people. Rong Heng had been delighted at the time, perhaps because he believed that with this child, the Great Ye dynasty would become more stable, and there would be another layer of insurance in the rocky2 relationship between him and her.
Repulsion was repulsion, but she would not let him disappear from this world by her own hand. The first time she came into the role of a mother was probably when she felt the fetus move. The ancient times didn’t have prenatal checkups3. She was very afraid, and from time to time she would let her imagination run wild, especially in the third trimester, when her pubic bone would ache, her leg muscles would cramp, and she would have trouble falling asleep almost all night. On those sleepless nights, it was easy to think about certain things. She wondered, would her child have Down’s syndrome? Would there be any problems? The more she thought, the more she grew afraid.
Later, she was so fretful that she had Rong Heng give her his guarantee that he would never give up on the child, whether it was healthy or not.
She had not been a mother before, but following the birth of the child, the memory of her colleague’s words that she had thought she’d forgotten resurfaced in her mind–
No salt before one year, no honey before two years.
It’s best to incorporate rice cereal after six months…
“Gugu, there’s something that I haven’t decided whether to tell you or not,” Song Yuan paused, “because I know you will have a lot of questions to ask me, and I don’t know how to answer them yet. You said you wouldn’t deceive Empress Mother, so Empress Mother won’t deceive you. Give me some time, okay?”
She hadn’t wanted to hide the matter of her recovering her memories from Rong Ting. It was just that she still needed to sort it out, to think about what to say to him regarding the things between her and Rong Heng.
She knew that Rong Ting had always been very interested in this matter. She also knew that she couldn’t muddle through it with “this is a matter between adults, it has nothing to do with you, you don’t need to know.” How could she bear to?
Rong Ting very much wanted to ask what was going on, to immediately know, but seeing the faint apprehensiveness between Empress Mother’s brows, he could only swallow those words back and give an obedient and sensible nod. “Okay.”
After revealing the biggest secret stewing in his heart, Rong Ting immediately relaxed. Inwardly, he wanted to sleep together with Empress Mother, but as a little man, he had his own considerations. He took the initiative to climb out of bed and put on his slippers, and after bidding Song Yuan good night, he hurriedly scurried out.
Song Yuan, who had been unable to sleep the past few nights, didn’t know why she felt so relaxed tonight. After Rong Ting returned to his room, she turned off the lights. She began to feel sleepy not a moment later.
Early the next morning, Song Yuan went to the hospital as usual. She had bought a ticket for after the Lantern Festival. There weren’t many days left, and she wanted to spend more time with her grandfather before leaving.
As soon as she pulled into the hospital parking lot, her phone rang. It was a call from Rong Heng.
She pressed the speaker phone button, and a gentle male voice came across the other end. “It’s me, will you be home today? I wanted to keep Rong Ting company.”
The latter part seemed to be tacked on at the last minute. Song Yuan didn’t think too much of it. Whether it was her expression or tone, both were extremely calm. “I’m not at home, but Rong Ting is. You can go over and take him with you.”
Rong Heng: “You’re not home?”
“En, I have something to do today and probably won’t be home until the afternoon. If you want to keep Rong Ting company, you can head over directly. He’s at home. If you want to take him out to eat, remember not to eat spicy food. Last time he ate spicy food, he had too much internal heat.”
“Okay.” Rong Heng very much wanted to ask her where she was, but he remained patient.
Song Yuan picked up her bag, and she spoke into the phone as she got out of the car. “Okay, I have to go. I have some stuff to do.”
Rong Heng gave an ‘en.’
After hanging up, Song Yuan headed towards the elevators.
Rong Heng still wanted to continue acting in front of Song Yuan, so after arriving at the Song family’s home, he took the initiative to mention taking Rong Ting with him to the supermarket to buy groceries. Although his tone was insipid, it was mixed with self-confidence. “Your mom said it’s best not to eat spicy food, so I’ll cook something for us today.”
Rong Ting looked at him dumbfoundedly, thinking that he had a problem with his ears. He stared with large eyes that spun round and round, a look of disbelief on his face.
“Let’s go ba.” Rong Heng had Sun Qiming find him a recipe, and he’d given it a once-over. It wasn’t that difficult. He could master everything he had ever learned since he was young. It was just cooking–it shouldn’t be that hard for him.
Rong Ting silently put on his winter boots and hat before going out with his Emperor Father.
The father and son duo didn’t have much to talk about. Rong Heng had initially pretended in front of Rong Ting, but now that the child had likely seen through him, he didn’t bother to pretend.
All throughout the supermarket, there were many people buying gifts for New Year’s visits. It was very lively.
Rong Heng pushed a shopping cart like the others, and he asked Rong Ting with some interest, “Want to sit?”
Rong Ting hurriedly shook his head with a vigilant expression. “No need, I can walk on my own.”
Emperor Father said he was going to cook…
Rong Ting subconsciously clutched his stomach. He didn’t think there were any instant noodles at home. Should he buy some while Emperor Father wasn’t paying attention?
The father and son both had outstanding temperaments, and particularly due to Rong Heng’s white hair, the two became the focus of attention within minutes of walking through the crowd.
Fortunately, the two had excellent mental fortitude, and they could maintain easy expressions as they were stared at, intentionally or unintentionally, by others.
“I heard from your mom that you like to eat chicken wings.” Rong Heng looked around once and finally headed for the fresh foods section. “Let’s go buy some chicken wings.”
Rong Ting silently followed behind him to the fresh foods section, watching his Emperor Father look with a serious expression at the chicken wings piled on the ice. After watching Rong Heng look for a long time without any intention of making a decision, Rong Ting couldn’t help but ‘remind’ him, “Empress Mother always takes a fresh produce bag and uses those tongs to pick up the chicken wings and put them in the bag. Then she goes over there to weigh them.”
…So it was like that.
Rong Heng didn’t want to lose face in front of his son, and he said calmly, “I was just thinking what chicken wings to buy.”
Saying this, Rong Heng tore off a fresh produce bag, grabbed the tongs, and began to clumsily pick out chicken wings.
He had never bought groceries or cooked, so how the hell would he know how to choose? As he randomly picked out a few chicken wings, he frowned, finding the smell unpleasant. He hurried over to the weighing station and weighed his haul, finally letting out a sigh of relief.
Rong Ting already had zero expectations for today’s lunch.
“Your mom likes to eat bok choy4. Let’s go buy a few.”
“Emperor Father…” Seeing Rong Heng enthusiastically making his selection, Rong Ting finally couldn’t help but speak up. “Those aren’t bok choy, they’re scallions.”
Could it be that Emperor Father couldn’t even recognize scallions?
Rong Heng’s expression froze. “Really?”
In fact, Rong Ting couldn’t recognize these things at first, either, but he would often come to the supermarket, and Song Yuan liked to impart all kinds of knowledge to him. Therefore, although he was young, he knew many little tidbits about grocery shopping.
The simplest part of grocery shopping was also the most difficult for the father and son.
After buying chicken wings and a bag of bok choy, Rong Heng brought Rong Ting over to the fresh produce section again, this time to buy some fish. Buying fish was easier. Simply tell the master what fish and about how much you wanted, and the master would pick one to weigh. If the price was satisfactory, the master would begin to kill the fish.
“What kind of fish do you usually eat?” Rong Heng looked down and asked his son.
“Most often we eat sea bass, and occasionally we eat Chinese perch.”
Rong Heng thought for a moment, then told the fishmonger master, “I’d like a sea bass, enough for a family of three.”
The master was extremely enthusiastic. “Okay lei!”
Upon hearing his Emperor Father say ‘a family of three,’ the little nitpicking expert Rong Ting wanted to correct him, but when the words rose to his lips, he thought that it would seem inappropriate to refute his Emperor Father in public, so he could only endure it silently.
Taking advantage of the time the faster was killing the fish, Rong Ting secretly slipped away to the snack aisle. He found the instant noodle shelf and picked up a pack of instant noodles.
There were many people in the supermarket. Rong Heng pushed the shopping cart and brought Rong Ting over to the tail end of a long line.
Rong Ting had initially thought that going to the supermarket with Emperor Father would be a novel experience. But at this moment, he thought, he would have been happier to go to the supermarket with Empress Mother or Grandfather. Emperor Father had not said he would take him to buy some snacks or Yakult, but even Empress Mother, who strictly regulated his snacks, would buy him fruit!
It was the first time Rong Ting felt that going to the supermarket could be boring.
But even if he was dissatisfied, Rong Ting didn’t let it show. He glanced at the people in line, then at the self-checkout area. Thinking that Emperor Father had ‘forgotten,’ he reached up and tugged on Rong Heng’s clothes.
Rong Heng looked down towards his son, wondering what was the matter with him.
Rong Ting said quietly, “Emperor Father, the self-checkout area is over there. Empress Mother would always pay there. It is extremely convenient and quick, with no need to line up.”
“…” Rong Heng rarely went to the supermarket at all, and he didn’t know much about modern things. For example, this self-checkout his son mentioned–he didn’t know what it was, and he didn’t know how to do it. Just as Rong Ting had the burden of a crown prince, so too did Rong Heng have the burden of an emperor, and naturally he refused to lose face in front of strangers.
The father and son stared at each other5.
Finally, with no other choice, Rong Heng said in a serious manner, “How many characters did you practice today? How long did you practice?”
 附属品: accessory or adjunct, as in making the child an accessory to a couple’s relationship. An incompatible or unharmonious couple having a child is a strategy used in both real life and media to try to save a marriage, though it usually ends up a failure for the couple and traumatizing/emotionally damaging for the child(ren)
 摇摇欲坠: teetering on the edge of collapse
 Prenatal checkups are pretty standard nowadays for checking for fetal development and growth. It’s also possible to get genetic screening, which tests for whether the fetus possesses any congenital diseases or birth defects
 The word used here is 青菜, which seems like it’s used for both Chinese cabbage and bok choy. But later on the author uses 小白菜, which refers to bok choy. Let me know if I’m wrong though
 你看着我，我看着你: you look at me, I look at you
Cheese: an unexpected father-son bonding moment? must be embarrassing to not know as much as your own son