M. Emperor x F. Palace Servant (Part 2)
The palace was all ablaze with chitters and squeals. After five years, another prince had been born to the emperor to Imperial Concubine Huan. She was rewarded immensely for giving him another son, and he appeared overjoyed for it. There was a party for his birth, and it was more luxurious than anyone had imagined. The emperor did adore his children, after all, and he would spare no expense for them.
As one of his maids, the (h/c) haired girl attended the party, serving rice wine to the nobles, consorts, and other high-ranking individuals. She had been eavesdropping on the conversations that happened and observing the little details in the room as she usually did. It wasn’t as if she had anything better to do. However, she was fairly surprised when Shufen took time away from admiring his new baby brother to run up to her, his ruqun slowing him down just slightly.
“I hope you don’t expect me to give you any alcohol, little highness,” the girl teased, ruffling the boy’s hair just slightly.
The ravenette chuckled and grabbed onto the maid’s hand, almost causing her to lose balance of her serving tray. She panicked and tugged away in order to ensure nothing had fallen down. The girl would have been glowered at for daring to ruin the new prince’s introduction to the palace, and she already had enough harsh looks from the rest of the consorts. If she could avoid trouble, she had decided it was best to take any precautions necessary to do so.
Shufen blushed brightly as he tugged her to the swaddled baby held by his father. His mother was right beside him, very pleased to be the first, besides the empress, to have given birth to a prince. She was still in the process of receiving gifts from the emperor, overjoyed by the amount he spent for the delivery of his second son. Gold and diamond jewelry, the best silks from the east side of the nation, countless beautifully embroidered dresses and umbrellas, etcetera. However, the emperor didn’t seem to care about her reaction. It was only a formality, after all.
That being said, when the (h/c) haired girl approached with an eager ravenette tugging her along, he smiled, looking up from his new treasure. The maid bowed to show her respect, especially because of the glares she was receiving. It would have gone past the densest of minds in the palace, but to most, it was clear she received favoritism. No other maid or attendant would have gotten the honor of looking at the newborn prince let alone approaching the emperor to do so, led by his heir.
“Your imperial majesty,” the girl bowed, waiting for the male to tell her to raise her head.
When he did - attempting to ignore the fact she couldn’t call him by his name - she gave a shy chuckle, rubbing the back of her head. Even if she had been serving the ebony-haired royal for over a month, it was still unnerving to be in his presence. She never quite knew what he was thinking, and frankly, after what he did to her father - however deserving it was - she felt as if he harbored a grudge against her. Still, he had never been harsh with her, just pushy and demanding from time to time.
“I want (Y/n) to see Shen!” the small ravenette giggled, standing on his tiptoes to look at the baby’s face.
An unreadable expression was placed on the emperor’s face. He looked to Imperial Concubine Huan and then to the baby in his arms, finally gazing at (Y/n) with a clear struggle in deciding. However, he had a strange urge to see how a newborn looked in her arms. Without consulting the child’s mother, he sat down the younger girl and gently placed the small baby in her arms.
Her expression changed to one of shock, and though she attempted to refuse the overly kind gesture, he was far too stubborn for her to get her point across. As such, she accepted when the baby was rested in her arms, cradling its head and taking note of its features. He possessed such beautiful autumn hair and golden eyes, his chuberic cheeks prompting her to light up with joy.
Jin watched as she observed his son. It felt bizarre to have the woman he loved staring at a child that was not hers. However, he could not deny he enjoyed seeing his child in her arms. She was so naturally caring towards children it made his cheeks pink. It was no wonder Shufen adored her. He could only expect the newborn Shen would feel the same. Of course, it would be no easy feat to get away with giving her more favoritism.
He noticed the shock in the room and the eyes on her. Normally, only a few select individuals would be able to hold the baby, and fewer would be able to sit when the emperor stood. Everyone else in the room was standing the moment he did, but he didn’t care to make the younger girl stand. He hummed with delight as her eyes sparkled, his imagination running away from him. No doubt if they had a child together, she would care for it more than anything else in the world. Besides him, of course.
Yes, that was the next thing on his agenda. While it would be difficult for him to move her into his consort’s rankings, it was possible. No one was going to stand against him. If he wanted it, he would have it, and it was as simple as that. That being said, he wanted to do it properly, and clearly, she still needed some time to get used to him. He understood it was intimidating to be in his presence, but he would show her how gentle he was, and she would come to adore him.
“I’ve decided,” the emperor chuckled, “You will be the caretaker for my second son. I’m certain you are the best candidate.”
There were more gasps and murmurs in the room than there were before. It was unnatural and frankly almost offensive to most of the consorts. Typically they would all assist in raising the baby, and while there were main caretakers, they were always professionals. To think that the emperor would entrust his second son to a woman stripped of her noble rank was insulting. Imperial Concubine Huan seemed to think as much, speechless in the emperor’s decision.
She almost didn’t speak up, but when it was her child, she couldn’t just stay silent. If (Y/n) had something against her, she could have harmed her child, and her favor with the emperor was so strong she could have taken him away. The thought horrified her. As such, the woman shakily moved towards the royal and bowed at his feet to show her respect. Speaking to him without permission might have angered him, but it was better than subjecting her child to an unknown and untitled woman.
“Your imperial majesty,” the consort mumbled, lowering her head, “I would feel uneasy to have my son with a maid. Could we not provide him a proper caretaker? As a prince, he should only have the best.”
“I’m aware,” the emperor huffed, raising an eyebrow, “(Y/n) has been keeping Shufen company. She is a wonderful and gentle caretaker as well as a perfect role model. I don’t see why I should choose someone else.”
The (h/c) haired girl shied away from the conversation at hand. It wasn’t her role to speak, and no doubt if she did, it would have only added fuel to the fire. However, the more the two argued - despite the fact Imperial Concubine Huan was as humble and meek as possible - the more she felt compelled to do something. After all, she was holding another woman’s child without her permission. It seemed utterly disrespectful, and if she was in her shoes, she would have been more than just upset.
Stepping forward, the younger girl attempted to hand the baby prince back to his mother only for the emperor to throw her a rage-filled look. He seemed absolutely livid about her choice to give up his son, his brows furrowed. The moment he threw her that glare, she immediately felt shivers up her spine, stepping back and directing her gaze to the floor. However, that only made the male more frustrated. He had shown an ugly side of him to her due to one of his consort’s stubbornness. She should have known her place.
“Enough of this!” he growled, silencing everyone in the area with a large gesture of his arm, “He is my son and as such, I will decide what to do with him! He will be under (Y/n)’s care, and that’s final! Does anyone else has any objections?!”
At the emperor’s tone, the air immediately became stiff, everyone in the nearby area bowing and holding their tongue. And while the (h/c) haired girl moved to do the same, she flinched at the harsh grasp on her arm the raven-haired male inflicted. He glared at her for daring to move without his permission, his eyes dilated as he huffed with rage. She shivered at the fear he inflicted her with but didn’t dare to say a thing.
“You will watch my son,” he declared through gritted teeth, all but demanding her cooperation since he wasn’t getting it from anyone else, “Do you understand me?”
“Y-Yes, your imperial - ”
The ravenette’s hand tightened around her arm, squeezing it painfully until she let out a squeak of discomfort. Attempting to place her worries on the baby in her arm rather than the pain it had, her eyebrows turned up in concern. However, it seemed the emperor wouldn’t be done until he got exactly what he wanted with no objections. That included her, apparently. Even with the favor she had, nothing was going to stop her from his rage.
With a more pleased look, the ravenette took his hand away from the girl, rubbing where he had harmed her. While it wasn’t his intention to hurt her, he needed to show he wouldn’t take no for an answer from her or anybody else. If he wanted her to take care of his sons, she would. If he wanted her to join him for dinner, she would. If he wanted to have a child with her, she would. That was how it was meant to be. When promised that, there was no way he would accept anything less.
After the intense fury that the emperor showed, the palace was oddly quiet. Even Shufen understood his father’s anger, knowing when to leave the instance be. By no means did it help the younger girl’s case with the rest of the consorts, but she was separated from most of them to the point where their comments didn’t reach her ears. The emperor ensured she had a perfect place to raise the baby prince where no jealous women could get to either of them. The only place that could be possible was his private chambers.
It was a rather large area where the (h/c) haired girl could perform her duties in place. She had numerous others that would help her in taking care of the boy, especially since the emperor wanted to ensure she had enough time for him. However, he delegated the more mother-like tasks for her. She fed him, clothed him, and bounced him up and down when he was fussy. On a day he considered rare, he was even able to hear her sing to the baby. It delighted him beyond words.
(Y/n) hummed to the small baby, wondering when the emperor would return to his bed chambers. Typically, he was back as soon as possible, helping her care for the boy, but it seemed his duties were keeping him away for a while. Shufen had fallen asleep on his father’s bed, wanting to stay with the maid he so adored and the new baby brother he had. While he was fast asleep, he did occasionally cling onto her ruqun or roll around to situation himself more comfortably.
Without warning, the door to the room was opened by servants. They bowed low as the empress and Imperial Concubine Huan entered, both possessing looks of both concern and frustration. Based of their expressions, the younger girl could piece together what they were there for. After all, both their children were with her. It wasn’t the only thing she had stolen either. The emperor took a liking to her and in doing so, took it away from them. Nonetheless, she still had to bow. She could only imagine how irritated they were with her, and it would only amplify if she failed to show them the respect they often demanded.
“Greetings to Empress Yan and Imperial Concubine Huan.”
The doors were closed without a word, servants backing out of the room while a few attendants remained. It was likely to ensure the consorts’ safety or perhaps that of the princes, but it was certain that they weren’t meant to help her of all people. She felt her heart pounding quickly out of fear, especially the more silence the room had only to be broken by the young baby’s crying. While (Y/n) attempted to soothe it, she felt the baby taken from her arms. Attempting to get him back - feeling sudden loneliness taking over her form - she felt her hand being slapped away.
“How dare you,” Imperial Concubine Huan hissed, holding her child faulty but protectively nonetheless, “You steal the emperor and then our children? Have you no shame?”
“I’m deeply sorry, but I can’t go against his wishes any more than you can.”
“If you cannot disobey him in life, surely you can in death.”
The (h/c) haired girl gave a surprised look at the suggestion - or rather, threat - she had been given. It was expected, but it didn’t hurt her any less. After everything she had been through, would she really be the type of person to end it all because something else told her to? The answer was no. She had lived through her life changing drastically, one step after the other. Words wouldn’t do anything to change her will to live. As such, the only thing she did was stare mindlessly ahead of her.
“Disrespectful wench! Empress Yan, set her straight! Surely you disapprove?”
“I care not for my son and my love for the emperor has faded as quickly as it appeared. But I value my life, and I see the way he looks at me. He wishes to replace me. Therefore, I believe you need to leave. Live or die, I do not care. Just do not be in this palace any longer.”
Shufen opened his eyes just a peek when he heard the baby prince crying. Although his mother attempted to soothe him, she hardly had any experience, leaving the baby feeling ignored. He continued to cry loudly, kicking to exhibit his concern for himself. The poor thing probably longed to be with (Y/n) again. She knew how to calm him down, and though he could hardly recognize others as easily as his older brother, he did know that he viewed the maid as his mother.
The small ravenette panicked when he saw his mother, knowing how cruel she could be even to his father. As such, he ran out of the room with tears in his eyes, hoping that the (h/c) haired girl would be alright. That being said, the moment he left, nothing was in his control any longer. Whatever may have happened went beyond him, but surely his father would have helped. He seemed to like (Y/n) just as much as he did.
“The emperor has forbidden me from leaving. I’ve been given a responsibility and I cannot turn my back on - ”
“Then one day, you shall find poison in your cup. If you value your life as I do mine, leave this palace with these taels of gold.”
The empress extended a pouch of gold to the younger girl, but she couldn’t take them. She simply shook her head, refusing to listen. It was a lose-lose situation for her, but if she stayed, surely she could have provided at least a bit of comfort to Shufen. The only other person he had that truly cared for him deeply was his father. The ravenette was like a son to her. She wouldn’t leave him in the hands of power-hungry women and men.
“Y-You’re stealing everything!” Imperial Concubine Huan shouted, frustrated with the baby in her arms bawling its eyes out, “Leave and never come back!”
The sound of loud footsteps prompted everyone to tense, the poor baby’s voice becoming strained from crying. Servants flocked to open the door only for the emperor to kick it open, a scowl on his face. His eyebrows twitched with irritation as those words rang through his head. Shufen stood behind the emperor with a nervous energy, holding onto his father with tears staining his cheeks.
“I thought I settled this!” the ebony-haired male roared, “And yet you dare to go against my wishes?!”
“Your imperial majesty, you cannot take my child from me and give him to this...this maid!”
“You are unfit to raise a prince! This is the attitude of a child, not the imperial consort of an emperor! You leave your child to cry while you focus on petty arguments with someone clearly above you!”
The ravenette stormed over to the (h/c) haired maid, picking her off the ground. He then threw her on his bed, kissing her harshly. It was likely his rage that drove the action to be somewhat forceful, but there was clearly affection in it, his touch on her cheek gentle and loving. He wouldn’t have been so infuriated if she wasn’t wronged in some shape or form. Still, he felt a bit of anger fade away when his lips connected with hers.
(Y/n) straightened her back with an almost tense reaction, her cheeks turning a bright red. Even as he separated from her, and he placed the baby prince in her arms, she was somewhat dazed and confused. Still, her attention returned to the small boy when he reached for her hair, pulling on it with babbles of fascination. She smiled gently at him, bouncing him to return him to sleep, not that it would be possible with his father’s shouting. Shufen seemed to think as much, hiding behind the girl and flinching at the anger the ebony-haired male had.
“I’m disgusted with this display of unbecoming behavior! This need to ridicule her and for what?!” the emperor roared, his eyes twitching as he pulled at his hair, “Clearly, someone needs to be made an example of!”
Directing his gaze to the wall, the male took a decorative sword from the wall and removed its sheath, plunging it into Imperial Concubine Huan’s stomach. She gave a pained look and fell to the floor, her face becoming pale at the sight of blood that spilled out of her. Begging for help, she wasn’t even given a look of pity, the emperor believing she wholeheartedly deserved it.
(Y/n)’s eyes went wide, and instinctually, she clutched onto both princes to protect them. They seemed just as horrified as her, bursting into tears and attempting to look away. Cowering from the unexpected nature of their father, both boys felt disbelief. While one didn’t understand why a woman was crying in pain, it upset him nonetheless, and the vision of red didn’t help. As for Shufen, he was simply weak to the sight of it.
As the emperor turned to his would-be empress, he gave a look of disgust. It didn’t surprise him that the same woman that hit her child would take out her frustrations on the one that made him smile. He had given her more than enough chances to redeem herself. It was time she vacated the premises and left her spot open for someone far more deserving. Gripping his sword tighter, he stalked towards her, only to find that the (h/c) haired girl rushed in front of him.
She had tears in her eyes, clearly terrified by what she had shown. However, that compassion in her for children was not lost on immature adults as well. The male cocked an eyebrow at her interference, attempting to piece together why everyone was so hell-bent on standing in his way. Growling, he tried to push her away, only to feel her hugging him tightly. Every shiver she had made its way to his skin.
“Your imperial - ”
“Why can’t you learn?!” he screamed, knocking over a glass table beside him, “Jin, Jin, Jin! Say it, (Y/n)! Say my name!”
“Jin!” the girl cowered, falling to the floor in tears, clutching onto the male’s ruqun, “Jin, please, stop! Y-You’ve made your point!”
The ravenette hardly seemed satisfied, seething with anger at everyone’s continual interference. However, as Shufen ran to hug the maid, he narrowed his eyes further, taking a step back. He watched as the small boy clung to her in an attempt to protect her, crying. It made the male’s heart beat quickly, the sight warming him not in rage, but in approval. Humming, he threw his sword to the side, letting it clank onto the ground as he hugged the two tightly, ignoring the flinch the younger girl made.
“Out of my love for you, my dear, I will spare her today,” he mumbled, still infuriated, “But do not presume to stand against me again. Everything I do is for your safety, do you understand?”
“What a good girl.”
The emperor’s mood changed quickly, a smile placed on his face. As if to reward her for using his name, he gave her a kiss on the cheek, hugging her tightly to himself with a satisfied grin. There was still anger lurking deep within his chest, the thought of returning to see (Y/n) gone searingly painful. He couldn’t believe someone tried to coerce her into leaving him. It needed to be taken out of each and every person’s mind. She would stay with him forever in that palace. If she left, he would have torn up or burned down the empire to get her back.
“You,” he growled, directing his rage to the empress, “I have not let you off the hook. Should I find you near my sons or (Y/n) again, you will be put to death. I expect your best behavior. Do you understand?”
“...Yes, imperial majesty.”
The empress left the male to carry the younger girl to his bed, placing the baby in her arms. Shufen seemed to be frightened of his father, unable to make up his mind whether to run or stay still. However, as the ravenette offered his hand, he took it, fearing something would happen if he refused.
“A-Are you going to hurt us?”
“Don’t be silly,” the emperor hummed, giving the small boy a kiss on his forehead as he placed him on the bed, “You, Shen, and (Y/n) are my happiness. I only hurt that woman because she was going to hurt you three.”
The young boy nodded his heart, firmly believing his father’s words. He seemed to have a sudden change of mood, cuddling between his father and the (h/c) haired girl with a great sense of security. However, (Y/n) could hardly say the same. She was shaking as she held onto the baby in her arms. Her strong need to protect both the boys gave her a frightened state of mind. However, she could not say she would run after his display of irritation with even the thought. After all, above all, she needed to remain loyal to him, especially after he had firmly claimed his desire for her.