“Maybe I dreamt of something,” Luo Wei told Wei Lan. “I seemed to be dreaming at the time.”
“In young master’s dream, there was a man named A-Chou?”
“Maybe, otherwise why would I shout that?” Luo Wei spread out his hands. “If I called out a girl’s name, Lan should ask me carefully. What’s there to ask about this A-Chou?”
“Young master also dreamt of a girl?”
“How could that be?” Luo Wei looked at Wei Lan’s serious expression, and felt that lying to an honest person indeed made him feel very apologetic. “Don’t I have Lan?”
Wei Lan laughed and touched Luo Wei’s hand that was outside of the quilt. Feeling that the hand was still warm, he was relieved. Wei Lan would believe most of what Luo Wei told him. After hearing Luo Wei’s explanation that this A-Chou was an irrelevant person in his dream, Wei Lan did not ask again from then on.
Qi Zi sent in the medicine, and after entering the room, he directly put the medicine bowl in Wei Lan’s hand. Then, as if he was afraid that Luo Wei would speak to him, he yelled “young master” at Luo Wei and then ran off like he was escaping.
“I’ll do it myself.” Luo Wei took the medicine bowl from Wei Lan and drank it in a few gulps.
Wei Lan only smelled the medicine and yet tasted bitterness in his mouth. He didn’t know how Luo Wei could down this bowl of bitter medicine without changing his expression.
Luo Wei saw Wei Lan place the medicine bowl on the table and then open the door to leave. He hurriedly asked, “Where are you going?”
“I’m going to get some sweet preserves,” Wei Lan answered, “there are none left in the room.”
“I’m not a child,” Luo Wei said. “I don’t like sweets.”
Wei Lan had to just pour a glass of water to let Luo Wei rinse out the taste. He asked, “Young master, isn’t the medicine bitter?”
“It’s bitter,” Luo Wei replied. “But I also want to get better soon.”
“If young master thinks like this then that’s good,” Wei Lan sat down and continued, “The lady said that if she invited masters to perform Buddhist rites, the young master’s luck would take a turn for the better. It seems she was right.”
“Why do you say that?”
“The young master woke up looking happier than he did before.”
Luo Wei patted the empty space beside him and said to Wei Lan, “Lie down with me for a while.”
“My body is cold,” Wei Lan replied quickly, “The young master can’t bear cold.”
“Let me hug for a bit,” Luo Wei whispered.
Wei Lan lay on his side next to Luo Wei, but did not allow Luo Wei to stretch his hand out from beneath the blankets.
“How do I hug like this?” Luo Wei asked.
Wei Lan held both Luo Wei and the blankets covering him in his embrace. “Young master should quickly recuperate, don’t scare Wei Lan again.”
Luo Wei gave a soft “en.” An A-Chou who was alive, an A-Chou who had not neared the end of his life, an A-Chou who had not suffered every kind of misery yet, was truly something fortunate beyond all else. Luo Wei rejoiced that, in coming back to life, he would think to go to the Qi Lin Villa. He rejoiced because Wei Lan had stretched out his hand to him then and he had not walked away. He rejoiced that he could heal Wei Lan’s wounds and break his dependency on the substance. He rejoiced that he had been good to Wei Lan all along, without any false shows of affection. “Thank you,” Luo Wei said softly to Wei Lan.
“Why is the young master thanking me?” Wei Lan asked.
“Thank you for being willing to stay with me.”
“Even if there was no Wei Lan,” Wei Lan said with amusement, “There would be many people who would accompany the young master.”
Luo Wei buried his head in Wei Lan’s chest. The scent of Wei Lan’s body was suffused with the medicinal odor of this room. The odor no longer held the sweet scent of herbal medicine, but instead comprised only the astringent, pungent bitterness of medicinal soup.
What he really wanted to thank Wei Lan for was for stretching out a hand, so that the two of them did not miss each other. Wei Lan would not suffer from poison again, nor be driven out of the Qi Lin Villa. He would not beg along his entire journey to Xuan Zhou. Luo Wei only thought that dead leaves could somehow return to their branches, so that there would never again be an A-Chou in this world, just as there would never again be that criminal slave of the past.
“Nineteen and the rest are also very grateful to the young master,” Wei Lan’s chin rubbed against Luo Wei’s hair. “The young master also scared them that day.”
“Are they still in the house?”
“Without the young master’s say-so, they dare not leave the house.”
“Am I so scary?” Luo Wei laughed a few times. “I want to keep them by my side. Does Lan thank it’s okay?”
Wei Lan said seriously, “Nineteen’s martial arts are the best, but his age is also the oldest of us. No matter how the body is nourished, old afflictions will linger.”
“Xiao Yi Apothecary said that they were all cured. Why isn’t Nineteen’s illness better?” Luo Wei wondered.
“It’s better, it’s just that big brother Nineteen’s martial arts will not be as good as before,” Wei Lan said carefully. “I’m thinking that big brother Nineteen is also afraid that young master won’t use him.”
“Are you pleading on his behalf?” Luo Wei asked. Wei Lan had blown so much wind on the pillow that there was not a bit of moisture left. (T/N: blowing wind on the pillow refers to a mistress or wife egging on the husband while they’re on the pillow. Ie. pillowtalk with the purpose of interfering with the husband’s work/affairs).
“Big brother Nineteen may have employed some tricks at Xiao Yi Apothecary so that the people there would think he was all better.”
“He didn’t get rid of his reliance on the substance?” Luo Wei asked immediately.
“No,” Wei Lan hurriedly clarified, “It’s just that his internal force has declined greatly.”
“Then it’s fine,” Luo Wei sighed with relief. He continued, “Since it’s your big brother Nineteen, just let him stay in the residence and casually help out. If it makes him happy, he can do nothing.”
“Then big brother Nineteen will not be content at heart.”
“Then I’ll ask him to copy books for me.” Luo Wei thought for a long time before saying this.
This time it was Wei Lan’s turn to stay silent for a long while.
“How is it?” Luo Wei asked.
“Then let him do nothing,” Wei Lan could not imagine Nineteen lifting a pen and writing.
“Relax,” Luo Wei said to Wei Lan, “Everything will be fine.”
Luo Wei spoke in Wei Lan’s arms, and then felt tired and slept again. Him falling asleep caused Wei Lan to feel anxious again. He yelled for Imperial Physician Wei and a few others to come in.
Imperial Physician Wei saw to Luo Wei and then said to Wei Lan, “No problems. Young master just drank medicine, and now the medicine is taking effect.”
Qi Zi said, “My family’s young master has slept for so long, and now you want him to sleep again?”
“People with weak constitutions should sleep.” Imperial Physician Wei almost lost his poise and rolled his eyes at Qi Zi, this little servant.
“Speak quietly!” Xiao Xiao made Qi Zi shut his mouth. “What would we do if you woke up the young master?”
“Let’s go out,” Imperial Physician Wei rushed everyone out. Xiao Xiao’s volume was no lower than Qi Zi’s.
After the clamor in the room passed, Wei Lan was finally alone with Luo Wei. Wei Lan sat down on the side of the bed and leaned over, his hands following along the sleep-mussed length of Luo Wei’s hair. Luo Wei even thanked him. But even if Wei Lan accompanied this person for a whole lifetime, he might not be satisfied.
Zhao Fu, the chief eunuch of the Hall of Eternal Light, ran to see Luo Wei at the behest of Emperor Xing Wu. He heard from Imperial Physician Wei that Luo Wei fell asleep again, and did not enter the inner room. He only stood in the outer room and asked Imperial Physician Wei to write a medical case record for him to take to Emperor Xing Wu.
Imperial Physician Wei received this imperial decree and bent over a desk to write the record. The other imperial physicians stood by and watched, occasionally piping out for Imperial Physician Wei to include some of their assessments. Imperial Physician Wei felt tired even writing this record, thinking that if he kept on like this, Luo Wei might get better but he himself would live a few years less.
Zhao Fu and Luo Zhi Qiu went to a side room in Luo Wei’s courtyard again. Zhao Fu took a long, small brocade case from the hands of a eunuch behind him, and said to Luo Zhi Qiu, “Prime minister, today the second prince sent a messenger to see His Majesty. The second prince already arrived at Yue Zhou. This is the hundred-year old snow mountain ginseng that the second prince found on the road; it’s for the third young master to use as a supplement. After His Majesty had the imperial physicians examine it, he ordered this humble slave to bring it here to give to the third young master to eat.”