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(I’m so tired.)
It really is tiring to play with an unfamiliar opponent, Maomao reasserted.
She was in the middle of staggering back after sending that dead-drunk fox-eyed man to the nap room.
Since Jinshi and Gaoshun had other engagements, they had arranged a different official to accompany her along the way. He was the official who went with her during the recent namasu incident.
It seems his name is Basen. After meeting him several times, she finally remembered.
Though this official was unsociable, he did his job reliably, so it was comforting. If her companion didn’t want to speak, Maomao had no need to force conversations with him.
We really don’t get along. I really can’t acknowledge him at all, Maomao thought.
Maomao thought after meeting that man again.
Even if she didn’t bear anything like malice towards him as well.
As she staggered on, Maomao bore witness to a gorgeous group. In the middle of the group where court ladies were hoisting up a large parasol, dressed in a beautiful outfit, was Consort Rouran.
She heard someone click their tongue next to her. Basen was watching that group with narrowed eyes. For some reason, he looked displeased.
She looked to see what was up. There was a plump official who was standing over there. He was flanked by two men who seemed to be adjutants and followed by several people at the back. Amidst that group, there was a face she somewhat recognised.
There were two imperial court ladies among them. One of them was part of the group that had called out to Maomao last time. It was the tall court lady who didn’t interfere, standing at the back.
Maomao’s gaze rested on her for a moment, but it shouldn’t be something for her to particularly worry about. It wasn’t strange for court ladies in the imperial court to belong to some faction.
When Rouran saw the plump man, she held a fan over her lips and started to speak to him familiarly.
Even though there were maids around them, she wondered if it was fine for them to talk so familiarly but,
“Damn black-bellied father and daughter.”
Having heard that sinister mutter, I see now, Maomao got it. Is that Rouran’s father who pressured the inner palace?
According to rumours, she heard that, as the senior statesman from the time of the previous emperor, he was a pain in the neck for the current emperor who ruled by merit.
Even so, Maomao looked at Basen.
While it was true that they were in a place where only Maomao who could hear him. Stop badmouthing the high official, she thought. Hypothetically, if someone heard it, they wouldn’t help thinking that those words were inconceivable while conversing with Maomao.
(He’s still inexperienced huh.)
Maomao thought when she looked at the young man who seemed to be around the same age as her.
(At any rate.)
He really looks a bit like someone, she thought.
It was decided that she went to Jinshi’s building, not returning to the inner palace tonight.
“I was so sure you hated him.”
Jinshi who returned before her was waiting.
Maoamo was slurping on some porridge that Suiren prepared. It was bad manners to talk while eating, but recovering the nutrients she lost at the Crystal Palace took precedence. Seeing Maomao who lost weight during the brief period she didn’t see her, Suiren kept cooking more food than just porridge.
Here as well, just like the Jade Palace, maids were not limited to the jobs they do.
Jinshi, while crossing his arms, opened his mouth nervously.
“Please don’t mention him!!”
So you really do hate him, Jinshi looked sullen.
Resentment and hate look similar but it’s quite different, Maomao thought.
“I don’t resent him. I am here thanks to him knocking her up successfully.”
Can’t you say it differently? Jinshi looked at her in shock.
(Even if you put it that way.)
It’s true so there’s no helping it.
“I don’t know what you’re imagining, but prostitutes don’t fall pregnant without their consent.”
All prostitutes continuously drink contraceptives or abortion drugs. Even if they conceive, there are various ways to abort in the early stages.
This means that she had intended to give birth.
“Rather, wouldn’t it be more that she had planned for it?”
Women can predict the times they can easily conceive to a certain extent if they read their menstrual cycles.
As for prostitutes, they can change the visits to a convenient date through letters.
“With the tactician?”
Jinshi said while holding on a dim sum that Suiren brought to him.
“Women are sly beings.”
And so, when her aim went off the mark, she lost control of herself.
Not sparing herself to the extent of even hurting herself, and not just that—.
The dream she saw a couple of days ago.
That really happened.
Not satisfied with just her own, she included the baby’s pinky and sent the letter.
No one talked about the prostitute who gave birth to Maomao to her at the brothel. She understood that the madam had forbidden them to talk about it.
But it leaked because she was slightly curious from the atmosphere around that matter.
That the reason the Rokushoukan went bankrupt was due to Maomao.
That the weirdo who loved go and shogi was the father.
“Jinshi-sama, did that man talk to you in places aside from your office?”
Jinshi tilted his head.
“Now that you mention it, I don’t think so.”
Jinshi said that whenever they passed each other in the hallways, he was only acknowledged with a simple nod. That the only time he was spoken to persistently was when he was sitting in his office.
“There are occasionally people who can’t recognise people’s faces. That man is like that.”
Maomao spoke of what she heard from her dad. Maomao was honestly half-doubting about whether that kind of thing does exist, but if that man was that, she felt she could understand.
“He can’t recognise it?”
“Yes. Somehow. Because of that, he seems to recognise people from parts aside from their faces.”
Dad had said it with a sad expression. That he is also a pitiful guy.
Even so, though dad thought in his way, he didn’t stop the madam from hitting and chasing that guy away with the broom.
“For some reason, it looks like he can properly recognise my foster-father and me. So that seems to be the reason he is that oddly attached to us.”
One day, a strange man who appeared out of nowhere suddenly tried to take her away.
The madam appearing, hitting him with a broom, and seeing his appearance that was now covered in blood, had inspired fear in a child’s mind.
If someone with a bloody face extended a quivering hand at you while smiling grossly, anyone would be scared.
He appeared many times after that, doing unexpected things, leaving covered in blood. Because of that, her personality gradually became one who wasn’t surprised by most things.
He insisted that he was her father, but to Maomao, her father was Dad, not that weirdo. If you considered his role, he was just a sperm donor.
He will try to be her father; brush aside Ruomen, who was her dad.
That was impossible. That was one thing she won’t ever give up.
The woman who gave birth to Maomao and troubled everyone in the brothel was dead. It had nothing to do with Maomao.
It wasn’t just that man’s responsibility.
Above all, she didn’t have memories of the dead woman herself. Even if she did, those weren’t memories of a mother at all. They were memories of a terrifying witch.
She may hate him, but she didn’t resent him.
Those were the feelings that Maomao had towards Rakan.
Even if he was someone she didn’t like, she didn’t harbour the feeling called hate. Given that, more or less, she became disposed to interact with him in a way that went too far though.
Maomao lifted her left hand, and looked at the tip of her pinky.
“Jinshi-sama, did you know?”
“Even if you cut off the tip of your finger, you can grow it back. If it’s just the tip.”
“…, Is that something you say while eating?”
Unusually, Jinshi looked at her with narrowed eyes. The usual positions had reversed.
“Well then, one more thing.”
“If that monocle said to you, “Call me Papa”, how would you feel?”
Jinshi froze for a moment; his entire face was unusually displeased. “Oh my,” Suiren, seeing that, slapped her hand over her mouth.
“I’ll want to crush his glasses.”
Jinshi, looking like he understood what Maomao was trying to say, muttered, Fathers must have it hard.
Gaoshun who was waiting next to him was wafting sorrow for some reason.
Is something wrong?
“What’s the matter?”
When Maomao asked, Gaoshun looked up to the ceiling.
“No, please think that there are no fathers in the world who would be hated by the ones they love.”
He said seriously.
For now, Maomao, spoon in her mouth, decided to polish off the remaining porridge.
T/N: and here I was, thinking that I was going to finish the arc this week orz
Well, I have no time next week, so I’ll be holding the final chapter hostage until I’m back the week after next. :’D