‘Mother, what’s your plan?’ Pei Zhang asked.
‘The cold winter is over and they’ll be returning to the imperial city,’ Consort Mu said. ‘There’ll be many opportunities like Consort La won’t live past spring and your imperial father’s birthday banquet.’
At the Feng Zhao villa Pei Jin, Yan Shi Ning and everyone else were amusing themselves.
Some sat in front of the door and relaxed and others were hunting, playing, eating or sleeping.
They only needed to think about what amusements they should plan each day. Their only regret was that they couldn’t stay at Feng Zhao villa forever.
On the twelfth day of the fourth month, sad news was delivered to the Feng Zhao villa, Consort La died.
‘Pei Jin, why did Consort La die this sudden…’ Yan Shi Ning asked in a sad tone.
Pei Jin hugged Yan Shi Ning and asked everyone to pack their belongings.
That day Pei Jin, Yan Shi Ning and everyone else travelled back to the imperial city.
Inside the horse carriage Yan Shi Nin rubbed her big stomach. ‘Pei Jin, Consort La was only older than me a few years…’
‘Each person has their own fate,’ Pei Jin said.
‘What about Pei Khan?’ Yan Shi Ning asked. ‘He’s only a little boy… who will protect him?’
Pei Jin thought Pei Khan’s situation was like his own childhood, he didn’t have anyone to protect him either.
‘Pei Jin…’ Yan Shi Ning said.
‘Um?’ Pei Jin asked.
‘Can we bring Pei Khan to our home and protect him?’ Yan Shi Ning asked.
‘I want to bring Pei Khan home too but right now our home won’t be safe for Pei Khan,’ Pei Jin said.
Yan Shi Ning understood as long as the emperor was alive, Pei Khan’s life in the palace would be pitiful but Pei Khan would stay alive.
‘Pei Khan is a pitiful little boy… he’s only five years old,’ Yan Shi Ning said.
‘Shi Ning, it’s good for Pei Khan to experience pain while he’s young… it’ll help him grow stronger and adapt to life in the palace,’ Pei Jin said. ‘If we want to protect Pei Khan then we need to grow stronger until no one can threaten us.’
Yan Shi Ning held her stomach protectively.
‘Winter hibernation is over,’ Pei Jin said.
Pei Jin hugged Yan Shi Ning and their child.
Later that day a simple funeral was held for Consort La at the palace. Yan Shi Ning was pregnant and wasn’t allowed to attend the funeral. She could only watch at a far distance. Pei Khan was too little so she couldn’t see him and had to wait for Pei Jin to ask about Pei Khan.
‘Pei Khan silently cried,’ Pei Jin said. ‘I don’t know if Consort La’s death has hurt him mentally but now he can’t say even say two words.’
‘Pei Jin, go console Pei Khan,’ Yan Shi Ning said.
‘I want to but he’s surrounded by palace maids and eunuchs,’ Pei Jin said. ‘I won’t have an opportunity to talk privately with him.’
Yan Shi Ning felt helpless.
Pei Jin held Yan Shi Ning’s hand. ‘In another three days I’ll take you to visit Pei Khan.’
Yan Shi Ning worried about Pei Khan. She knew the emperor didn’t favour Consort La because the emperor was ashamed of Pei Khan since he couldn’t speak. So the people in the palace wouldn’t care about Pei Khan.
‘Wife, is the little fox inside your stomach troubling you again?’ Pei Jin asked.
‘What little fox?’ Yan Shi Ning asked.
Pei Jin was happy to see Yan Shi Ning smile. ‘Wife, after little fox is born let’s conceive a little lion… we can’t… let’s wait another two years before we conceive a little lion.’
Yan Shi Ning was speechless. She understood why Pei Jin didn’t want their child to have a sibling too soon. Suddenly she heard a noise. ‘Pei Jin, there’s someone else here.’
Pei Jin looked at a small hidden spot. ‘Thirteenth brother?’
Pei Khan looked around the room. He didn’t see anyone else and crawled out of his hiding spot.
‘Thirteen brother, why are you here?’ Yan Shi Ning asked. ‘Where are your palace maids and eunuchs?’
Pei Khan’s teary eyes stared at Yan Shi Ning’s big stomach, it made Yan Shi Ning’s heart ached.
Pei Jin knelt in front of Pei Khan. ‘Thirteenth brother, did you hide here by yourself?’
Pei Khan pointed a finger at Pei Jin.
‘Thirteenth brother, were you waiting for me?’ Pei Jin asked.
Pei Khan nodded his head.
‘Thirteenth brother, what did you wanted to tell me?’ Pei Jin asked.
Pei Khan pulled out a hairpin and gave it to Yan Shi Ning, it was the butterfly hairpin she didn’t accept from Consort La.
End of Chapter Sixty-Six