"I’m not so sure about that." The queen laughed coldly, "Don’t forget that one night four years ago, it was Chen Pingping who convinced the emperor to call off the arranged wedding. Fan Jian took Sir Chen Pingping’s hometown visit as an opportunity to convince the emperor to once again give Chen’er to Fan Xian in marriage. This means that you won't be in charge of the national treasury in the future… If Chen Pingping was still in the capital, then this marriage would not be set in stone, and it might have gone the way you wanted… or, the way the prime minister wanted."
The Elder Princess laughed through pursed lips, saying, "What a way to put it, dear Queen. Surely you would be pleased if the wedding was called off, since it would mean the second prince would lose this opportunity to make some profit from it."
The queen smiled and replied, "What have I to be pleased about? Whether or not this marriage between the youngsters takes places does not concern me. The empress dowager has asked me to organize the marriages of our family, but told me that not to worry the Fan family."
The elder princess’s expression changed, but a smile remained as she spoke, "What you said was quite logical. There’s nothing for me to be worried about as a mother. Although Fan Xian was not born of a dazzling identity, I have seen from these past couple days that he’s well educated. Anyways, Chen’er has been in a good mood recently, perhaps it is thanks to the good news."
The two most powerful women of Qing Kingdom sat quietly across from each other, drinking tea and making small talk. It was as if nothing had happened. Neither wanted to show their vulnerable side or be the one to execute the crucial move. With the murder of Fan Xian, the wedding would fall to shambles, and the Fan family would lose an heir. The second prince would lose his support and the prime minister could sleep soundly. The elder princess could continue to control the palace treasury and provide an endless source of money to those who needed it. With the death of just one person, it seems as if the power around distributing power would be easily resolved.
Unfortunately, no one was willing to make that move. After all, it was not like four years ago and the capital was not like Danzhou. Here, the wall had eyes on everyone. Assassination was no longer a valid method in dealing with a reputable government official’s son, especially at such a sensitive time. Furthermore… Lady Liu would not fall for the same dirty trick a second time.
In the empress dowager’s palace, an old and virtuous lady let down her snowy white hair and felt a steady pair of hands brush through it. She spoke in a low voice, "Why did I give birth to such a foolish daughter?"
The person behind her smiled and replied, "But you love her just as much anyway, otherwise you would not have requested the emperor make all those arrangements, or secretly help the prime minister with so many things."
The empress dowager exhaled and said, "I really don’t know if Lin Ruofu owes me or if my own son sabotaged him…. You do indeed have quite a sharp eye so tell me, why did the emperor choose Chen’er to marry the boy from Fan family?"
The person’s voice was filled with hesitation as they answered: "The princess is at the age to get married, and it’s unlikely that her health will get better. Getting married to Fan family is quite fitting. However, the marriage is just a cover, and main attention is paid to the emperor’s ambiguous oral command to let an outsider take control of a grand business. Perhaps… the emperor feels that the queen and elder princess are getting too close to each other, and he is unsatisfied with the crown prince so he has taken away elder princess’ authority and plans to let second…"
She silenced herself.
Having served the empress dowager for over ten years, she knew that she was out of line to have overshared her opinions.
Empress dowager paused, the wrinkles on her face spread out like chrysanthemum petals. "The emperor takes care of government affairs and I take care of family affairs. I will not be taking care of this particular affair."
The person flattered her, "You are truly wise, Empress Dowager."
"This was a stupid thing to do." Count Sinan Fan Jian was staring coldly at his son in the study.
Fan Xian smiled wryly. He knew that this round of scolding could not be avoided, so he made no move to explain and admitted to his wrongs instead.
"You’re not a fool. Guo Baokun is not surrounded by powerful people. If you really found it necessary to beat him up, why leave behind all those clues?" Count Sinan continued coldly without waiting for his explanation, "Don’t say anything. Beating someone up and not owning up to it is absolutely ridiculous!"
Fan Xian realized that Lady Liu had repeated his words from earlier to his father, and he laughed awkwardly. Fan Jian found it impossible to be mad at him when he had such an innocent and radiant smile on his face. He sighed and asked, "Tell me; why did you stir up so much trouble?"
Fan Xian thought for a bit before he answered, "After drinking with Prince Jing, I decided that I wanted to be his friend. I used this fight as an opportunity to tie us together. If I have Prince Jing supporting me then in the future, some things could be done in a more convenient manner." Fan Xian sneaked a peek at his father and continued after he found no abnormal changes to his expressions, "Secondly, Guo Baokun was a bully and I wanted to make sure that he knew I wasn't someone to be messed with."
Fan Jian laughed coldly and said, "The second reason is what it is, but as for the most important reason... that was because you disagree with the marriage so you are trying to ruin your own reputation so you can be kicked out of the arrangement."
Fan Xian did not expect his father to see through him like that. He stalled and began to think of an explanation.
Fan Jian continued coldly, "When I said that you were stupid it was because of the fact that you dragged Prince Jing into the matter. You must be aware of the fact that Guo family is on the crown prince's side while Prince Jing is on the second prince's side. Attacking Guo Baokun and involving Prince Jing can only mean that the Fan family stands with the second prince's side in the eyes of outsiders.
Fan Xian pretended to be surprised, "Everyone knows that father and Prince Jing are close friends while sister and Princess Ruojia had been friends since childhood. The two families have a close relationship with each other that's rarely seen between government officials. Could it be... You...?"
"Don't forget that your grandmother was his wet nurse and that she brought him up. Since the emperor was busy at that time, I was the one who played with him, so naturally we are close to each other." Fan Jian tutted and continued, "Personal relations, work and government affairs are separate matters. Who are we to discuss what happens in the palace? The crown prince is still the crown prince and heir to the throne. When the emperor dies, we will serve the crown prince loyally."
Fan Xian found a loophole in his words and decided to exploit it, "What if the crown prince wasn't the crown prince? What happens then?"
Count Sinan Fan Jian was strangely unbothered by his son's outrageous and disrespectful words. Rather than scolding him, he simply said, "That's something that only the emperor can decide on; choosing sides before the decision is a foolish tactic."
"I understand now," Fan Xian finally understood the consequences of his attack on Guo Baokun.
"The Fan family stands with neither the crown prince nor the second prince. We stand with the emperor.."
"That's right." Fan Jian replied. "If you don't want to be on the wrong side then don't rush to choose. You can't go wrong by sticking with the most powerful and the emperor is the most powerful man under the sky."
"What if the emperor was to die all of a sudden?" Fan Xian asked intentionally as he knew that his father was loyal to the emperor.
"The emperor is in his prime and he is younger than me."’ Fan Jian smiled, "This is a matter for own generation to deal with."
You have no idea what was done for you to be able to walk out that courtroom so easily. Do you know how much conflict was in the shadows between us and Guo family today? Our shadows were everywhere - at the Supreme Court, at the Ministry of Justice and at the Ministry of Personnel Affairs. The Guo family even went to the Overwatch Council. If it was not for Chen Pingping’s absence, you may not have been able to return tonight,"
Fan Xian’s brows furrowed. This name was familiar to him. He knew that he was the hidden power leader of Qing Kingdom, but was also aware of the close relationship between the Fan family and the Overwatch Council, so he was confused. "Why wouldn’t I have come back if Chen Pingping was present?"
"Because he opposes your marriage with the elder princess’ daughter. Bringing you to the capital in such a rush was because Chen Pingping’s visit to his hometown presented an opportunity.. We were able to confirm the marriage because he was not here to convince the emperor not to. It had nothing to do with the girl's illness."
Fan Xian looked at his father and said, "Fie Jie is my teacher, and you and Director Chen have a close relationship. Why would he oppose?"
"No, to outsiders, my relationship with The Overwatch Council is normal." Fan Jian continued light, "The reason he opposes is simply because we had different views that led us to different judgements."
"What views?" Fan Xian stared into his father's life, unwavering.
Fan Jian furrowed his brows before deciding to tell him part of the truth. "The emperor does not like the crown prince, but the queen and elder princess are becoming close to each other. The princess controls the palace treasury and can easily access the money, and this worries the emperor greatly." Fan Xian was truly surprised as he said, "It looks like there might be some changes to the Eastern Palace. 
 Eastern Palace: where the crown prince lives