Following the almost ear-splitting, ceaseless explosions of firecrackers, Taikang Year 4 arrived.
The Fang Family was not as lively as they had been in years past. There was more of an anxiousness and unease about them. Young Master Fang and Jun Zhenzhen's wedding was set for the 10th day of the 2nd month .
No sewing could be done on the first month, so Miss Jun's wedding clothes had all been made before the new year had come. They were hanging inside her closet.
"If you aren't happy, we still have all of the 1st month to change things," said Lady Fang.
Miss Jun merely looked at her before nodding and saying that everything was well, nothing needed to be changed.
She did not have the bashfulness of a girl to be married, nor any happiness.
After all, it was fake to begin with. Lady Fang felt somewhat embarrassed.
Thought it was fake, all to disguise the treatment for Chengyu's illness, in everybody's eyes they would be married. In the future, if Chengyu was well, would it not be counted as valid?
"Of course it isn't valid. How could Chengyu mean anything to her," said Old Lady Fang. "Before she despised him. If she can cure Chengyu," She said the word cure with great emphasis, "which, as you know, so many doctors said that they had their hands tied, she, who has such ability, would look down on Chengyu even more."
That was true.
Lady Fang fell silent for a moment.
"Mother, do you really feel that Chengyu can be cured?" she said.
Unwittingly, Old Lady Fang's tone had lost the questioning edge from when she had first raised the matter. Moreover, in these past few days, Miss Jun had not been doing any good deeds. She did not just have a grudge with that young lady, but she had cursed out that young miss outside, stirring up Yangcheng. She was exactly the troublemaker she was before.
Old Lady Fang's attitude, on the contrary, had turned around.
Old Lady Fang seemed to be aware of this.
"I also don't know," she said.
Don't know why she had changed her attitude to her, or don't know whether Jun Zhenzhen can cure Fang Chengyu?
Whether she could or not would be revealed this year.
Lady Fang did not ask anything else.
Because of the New Year, the family was very busy. Lady Fang left in a rush, and Old Lady Fang sat there for a moment before going to see Fang Chengyu.
Fang Chengyu had been moved to different living quarters. His original room was being turned into a bridal chamber. Once he was married, he would be moved back there.
Fang Chengyu's rooms were very lively. The three sisters were squeezed in his room, playing mahjong with melon seeds. The servants were in the room, eating and drinking. It was disorderly, but it also had the festivity of a new year.
Old Lady Fang stopped one of the servants to report to her as she stood on the outside, looking through the window at the liveliness within.
Since he had found out that he was to marry Jun Zhenzhen, Fang Chengyu had not reacted. He had said that he would obey Grandmother and Mother in everything, as if they were just making him take medicine. Whatever they served, he would eat. He would not ask questions or complain.
He was not doing it for himself but in order to soothe them.
Old Lady Fang looked at the siblings in the room, talking and laughing, then thought about how next year, she might not be able to see this scene. She felt a stinging in her eyes and turned to leave.
The Fang Residence had been decorated anew. Because there were less male servant arounds, it was livelier. The young male and female servants were indulgent, the sounds of laughter and happiness ringing through the house. Firecrackers erupted in succession.
Old Lady Fang walked through the garden, seeing and hearing the festivities for herself. However, her heart was still miserable. When she realized that things had gone silent, she discovered that she had walked to Miss Jun's living quarters.
Why had she walked over here?
Miss Jun's courtyard was the same as it was before. There weren't many maidservants or servant girls. At the moment, even though the lanterns were bright, the place seemed very cold.
"What is Miss Jun doing?" Old Lady Fang asked the maidservants in the courtyard.
The servants shook their head, unable to answer.
Miss Jun was not fond of the servants, never allowing them to accompany her closely. Although at present, Miss Jun did not berate them and her tone was friendly, Fang Jinxiu had said that it was because she was putting on an act in order to deceive the Fang Family. She was waiting to become the young lady of the house before exposing her true colors, so everybody still did not dare take a step forward.
After stopping the servant's report, she walked in. The curtains had not been drawn shut. Through the glass, she could see the bright room within.
The young lady was wearing New Year's clothes and sitting on the stove-bed. Her cheek was propped on her hand as she fixated on what was in front of her. Old Lady Fang did not know what she was looking at. The flickering light from the lamps reflected her image on the glass. She looked so serene and at ease that it made one feel at peace.
The thought that seeing Miss Jun could actually soothe a person's heart was truly comical.
Old Lady Fang laughed at herself, her footsteps echoing as she walked in.
The only ones in the room were the master and servant pair. Liu'er was also wearing New Year's clothing, sitting by the window and playing with a shadow puppet and the lantern. She was beaming with joy.
Obviously this was lonely, but Old Lady Fang could not sense any misery. Instead, she felt that there was a kind of tranquility, just like the girl's countenance.
"Grandmother, you came," Miss Jun said as she got off the stove-bed.
Liu'er set down her shadow puppet unhappily.
"Go play," said Old Lady Fang, looking, but not really looking at her. She saw that Miss Jun had been playing with a Go board when she had been sitting on the stove-bed earlier.
The white and black tokens on the board were locked in a dazzling confrontation.
"You're playing Go?" she asked.
Miss Jun waved a hand at Liu'er. Liu'er, minding her own business, went off to play. This was something that Young Miss had bought for her and had taught her how to play with. Playing with it made her very happy.
Miss Jun made a sound of affirmation, then placed a black piece onto the board.
Old Lady Fang saw that the white, which had been in the dominating position, was immediately sent into a fierce battle.
When she was young, her family had been very well-off. Though they were a merchant family, the girls were taught the four arts of zither, Go, calligraphy, and painting like the families of officials. It's just that her foundation was a bit weak. The seniors of the house either didn't care to teach or didn't teach very well. The invited teachers were also half-hearted, so she learned only superficially. After she was married, she had no time to play, so she lost her zither, Go, calligraphy, and painting skills.
Not long after, Old Master Fang died, and she assumed the business, which left her with no time for frivolity. She heard other people say that the four arts of zither, Go, calligraphy, and drawing were great at polishing a person's temper, but there was no way for the four arts to touch her heart. So when faced with the Go board, she was dumbfounded.
Old Lady Fang looked at the board without saying anything. Miss Jun also did not say anything and simply moved a white piece.
The room had sunk into silence, interrupted occasionally by Liu'er's giggles. After a quarter of an hour, Miss Jun finally set down her black piece, deciding victory on the Go board.
"This time, the white side lost," said Miss Jun with a sigh.
Old Lady Fang could not help but laugh.
"Whether they lose or win is decided by you," she said.
Miss Jun sighed.
"If things really were like that, it would be good," she said.
Truly, a child's words. Although her words sounded like she was talking only grudgingly, it did not make people upset. Instead, they were light.
Old Lady Fang smiled.
"Yuxiu also plays Go. I'll tell her to play with you some time," she said.
A single person playing Go was as boring as a person gambling with themselves.
It was just a pity that she did not have much relations with the girls of the house. Still, she had gone out with Fang Yuxiu several times, and they had gotten along well, meaning that they did not quarrel or come to blows.
"No need. I am in the habit of playing Go by myself," Miss Jun said with a smile.
Could it be that no one played with her when she was in Funing? Perhaps because her temper was no good, people weren't fond of her. Of course, when talking about Miss Jun, it might be that it was decided by herself, who did not like others, and that's why she played on her own.
Old Lady Fang did not say anything else.
Liu'er, still playing with her shadow puppets, looked over there in suspicion.
During previous New Year's, Young Miss wasn't playing by herself. Back in Funing, she was surrounded with people: the uninfluential landowners, lowly officials, as well as the young misses of Funing who needed to save face.
However, Young Miss was saying this to deceive the Fang Family. She was obviously trying to look pitiful, so Liu'er turned around and did not pay attention.
The room returned to silence, but this silence did not make people feel cheerless or lonely.
Old Lady Fang stood there silently for a moment before bidding her farewell. Miss Jun sent her off at the door.
"What did Old Lady come here for? To watch Young Miss play Go?" Liu'er asked curiously.
"Most likely," she said.
"She seems idle," said Liu'er, her lips curling.
 Dates will be in this format to emphasize that they are using the Lunar or Farmer's Calendar