A Drunken New Year’s Eve Confession (Exchange of Trusts)
On the night of New Year’s Eve, the entire capital was illuminated with the color red, and every home was filled with joy.
Even from a distance, one could sense the warmth of the people’s voices emanating from the streets and alleys.
The fireworks in the far-off distance were splendid, bursting with brilliance and illuminating the night sky.
Amidst the towering buildings, a solitary figure stood, watching in awe.
Murong Yan sat in the darkness, with the colorful lights shining on the wine glass in her hand.
The sumptuous food laid out on the table remained untouched, as she gazed out of the window, lost in thought.
The silence that surrounded her was something she had grown accustomed to.
She shook the wine glass in her hand, observing the rosy hue mixed with the harmonious crowd in the distance, feeling overwhelmed by the sight.
The festive mood of the entire capital managed to mask the winter chill, but Murong Yan’s heart remained cold and empty.
Even after the warm wine had been consumed, she still felt a void within her chest.
She scoffed at herself, as if mocking her own weakness.
Despite being aware of her own desires, Murong Yan couldn’t help feeling a sense of melancholy.
She had always been composed and in control, but it seemed that she had developed an addiction that she couldn’t shake off.
The display of fireworks had come to an end.
Murong Yan drained her wine glass and was about to shut the window when she noticed a figure dressed in all-black night clothes peering up at her.
The person’s eyes glimmered brightly.
“I’ve come to offer my greetings! Happy New Year!” Ming Qin’s voice was filled with childlike glee, as she rested her head on her arm against the window.
Before Murong Yan could respond, Ming Qin stumbled and fell on her hands and knees into the room.
Surprised, Murong Yan asked in a gentle voice, “What brings you here today, Ah Qin? Why are you suddenly free?” She covered her chest with one hand and brushed the snow off Ming Qin’s shoulders with the other.
“Senior brother, senior brother Cao Yun offered to take my place today,” Ming Qin replied, stopping Murong Ying from brushing off the snow by grasping her hand.
“Don’t touch! it’s cold.”
Murong Yan was surprised inwardly but kept her tone subdued as she said in disbelief, “He gave up his New Year’s Eve celebrations to cover for you? Your senior brother Cao is really kind.” She straightened Ming Qin’s collar.
Ming Qin, unaware of the slight change in Murong Yan’s tone, continued excitedly, “Brother Cao Yun is much better than Brother Lin Yan! Brother Lin Yan is always nagging, and even if he doesn’t play with me, he always goes to restaurants.”
Murong Yan’s hand instinctively gripped Ming Qin’s neck, then she released it, as if she wanted to stop her from continuing to speak.
Trying to change the topic, Murong Yan asked, “Are you feeling hungry?”
Ming Qin, who had a big heart, glanced at the food on the table and felt a bit embarrassed.
“I came straight from the palace after I was dismissed, and I was afraid I might miss the opportunity to celebrate the New Year with you, so I didn’t have time to eat.”
Murong Yan’s hand paused, and her face lit up with joy as she asked, “Are you going to spend the New Year with me, Ah Qin?”
“Of course,” Ming Qin replied, picking up her chopsticks without hesitation.
“Will you also dine with me? It’s New Year’s Eve dinner here!”
Although she felt a bit guilty for not eating at her master’s wife’s place, Ming Qin preferred to be with Murong Yan and enjoy the delicious meal at Hidden Moon Tower rather than being teased by the others at her master’s house.
Murong Yan picked up her chopsticks and began to eat, her appetite returning.
She even added half a bowl of rice more than she usually did, enjoying the meal with Ming Qin, who was eating with great interest.
“This is so much better than what Master’s wife usually cooks!” After finishing her meal, Ming Qin rubbed her stomach contentedly.
Seeing Ming Qin’s happy expression, Murong Yan couldn’t help but smile.
If the imperial chef in the palace knew that his dish was being compared to the head lady of the shadow guards, he would feel devastated.
Ming Qin suddenly let out a shriek.
She had been in a hurry to drink and took a large sip from the jade pot near her.
But now, when she smelled it carefully, she found a faint fragrance of wine coming from it.
“I am not allowed to drink,” she said, her nerves kicking in.
“It’s okay for off-duty shadow guards to have some wine.
The Emperor will not blame you,” Murong Yan said in a soft and reassuring tone, looking at the inexplicably nervous Ming Qin.
“But… Master has repeatedly instructed me not to drink,” Ming Qin said, fidgeting with her hands.
“Sister also always said that I must not drink with others.”
I’m the only one who knows about this, so I won’t tell anyone,” Murong Yan said, taking Ming Qin’s hand and gently reassuring her.
“Besides, I’m not someone else, am I?”
Just then, the sound of firecrackers outside interrupted Ming Qin, causing her to look out of the window.
A cheerful atmosphere filled the streets and alleys of the capital as a white light and smoke flowed through them.
After about an incense stick’s time, Ming Qin finished cleaning up the dishes, then Murong Yan lay lazily in her arms, gazing at the lights and smoke emanating from the chimneys of various houses in the capital.
Murong Yan’s lips curved into a smile as she expressed regret, “It’s a shame I didn’t know you were coming today, or I would have prepared New Year’s money for you.”
Ming Qin blushed slightly and shook her head firmly, “Shadow guards are well paid, I don’t need it.”
After a while, she added sleepily, “Besides, only children need New Year’s money.
I’m almost twenty-three, I don’t need it.”
As Ming Qin drifted off to sleep, Murong Yan looked up at her and asked softly, “If you don’t want money, what do you want, Ah Qin?”
As Ming Qin held the alluring beauty in her arms, her eyes became hazy and unfocused, her head throbbing and temples pounding.
“What does Ah Qin desire?” the woman persisted, her arms encircling Ming Qin’s neck, her enticing features drawing closer.
What would it take for you to remain with me?
Their lips were mere inches apart, and Ming Qin’s mind seemed to fog as she gazed blankly at Murong Yan’s expectant expression.
A delightful fragrance, akin to that of peonies, wafted towards her nose.
Ming Qin couldn’t help but speak the words in her mind and smiled brightly, “Yan Yan, you’re so beautiful.” She lightly caressed the woman’s cheek with the back of her hand.
The sudden display of affection and intimacy caught Murong Yan off guard, and she blushed slightly, unsure of how to respond.
She was surprised to detect the smell of wine on Ming Qin’s breath, which made her wonder if this was the reason why Ah Qin’s master and sister forbade her from drinking.
Perhaps she became drunk and confused after just one glass.
In an effort to compose herself, Murong Yan gazed at the vulnerable person before her and coaxed her gently, “Do you want to be with Yan Yan, Ah Qin?”
Ming Qin, blushing furiously, nodded absentmindedly and confessed, “I want to be with Yan Yan, I like her.”
“Ah Qin loves Yan Yan and will never leave her, right?” Murong Yan’s breath quickened, her tone growing more urgent as she longed for reassurance from Ming Qin.
“I like Yan Yan and will never leave her,” Ming Qin replied in a direct manner that left Murong Yan feeling shaken to the core.
At last, she had heard the affirmation she had been yearning for.
In this moment, Murong Yan felt a sense of possessiveness that she didn’t realize was so strong.
She reached out and tightly held Ming Qin’s hand that was on her cheek.
Ming Qin continued to speak, “…like Yan Yan.
Also like sugar, like buns, like baked cakes, like senior sister, master’s wife, master…”
After a moment, she let out a soft snore, still holding onto Murong Yan’s hand.
Listening to Ming Qin’s murmurs, Murong Yan was emotionally overwhelmed and momentarily at a loss.
At least Ming Qin had confessed her affection and promised not to leave.
Even though she was currently only compared to sugar, buns, and baked cakes, Murong Yan reminded herself to be patient and not rush things.
She believed that one day, she would become the most important person in Ah Qin’s life.
Ming Qin awoke in a panic, realizing that she had slept through the New Year’s Eve.
She was almost in a state of kowtowing until Murong Yan gently patted her face and reassured her.
“I’m sorry,” Ming Qin apologized, her expression guilty and her mouth drooping.
Murong Yan adjusted her position in Ming Qin’s arms and comforted her, “Ah Qin is here to keep me company for the New Year, so don’t blame yourself anymore.”
To divert Ming Qin’s attention, Murong Yan suggested, “Since there won’t be any New Year’s money tonight, you can take anything you want from this room.
Even a spoon or a bowl.
Everything here is special, including the landscape paintings and furniture.
Even if it meant giving her something worth ten thousand taels just for her to smash and play with, Murong Yan would do it if Ming Qin liked it.
Ming Qin frowned as she looked around the room, then turned to the woman in her arms and asked, “Is it alright?”
The garnet earring hung from Murong Yan’s earlobe, radiating a red to black glow.
Murong Yan touched her ears and suggested, “Just this pair of earrings, is that enough? Or what about those hanging pictures over there?”
Ming Qin shook her head, “I only need one.
I can’t wear any of the others, but this one will do.”
Murong Yan offered the box of precious stones in front of the dressing mirror to Ming Qin, “If you like precious stones, you can take this box.”
But Ming Qin was stubborn and replied, “I only want this one,” as she straightened up and held out her hand.
Murong Yan smiled and placed the garnet earring into Ming Qin’s palm.
Without an ear piercing, Ming Qin forcefully stabbed the earring into her right ear, wiping away the blood with her fingers as if it didn’t bother her.
Speaking softly, Ming Qin said, “The color of the pomegranate looks especially good on you.
If I wear it, I will always think of you.”
Murong Yan gently wiped Ming Qin’s fingers with a handkerchief, she stopped abruptly and gazed at the only color on Ming Qin’s body – the red and black garnet that came from herself.
It was as though Ming Qin had been marked solely by her.
“And what about mine? What is Ah Qin’s color?” Murong Yan’s voice was a little hoarse.
Ming Qin scratched her head, pondering, and then untied her hair, taking down the nearly two-foot-long rope that was knotted with three strands of black rope.
“This is all I have! I made this hair rope myself.
It’s so sturdy,” she said with pride.
Ming Qin quickly looked at Murong Yan and then at her own humble possessions, feeling that it was not appropriate to give such a plain gift.
She was about to put it back in her pocket when Murong Yan took it from her hand.
“Don’t!” Ming Qin was embarrassed and tried to take it back.
“That black rope doesn’t suit you at all.”
“But I like it.” Murong Yan tilted her head and tied the rope into her hairpin, securing her hair bun.
“This is my New Year’s gift.”
“It’s not good enough! I’ll buy you something better later!” Ming Qin was worried.
“But I want this.” Murong Yan smiled, but her tone was resolute.
This was all she wanted, and it was the best gift to her.
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