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This chapter makes me smile whenever I read it.
Chapter One Hundred and Five Fated
Halfway through the night, Qu Qing Ju suddenly woke up from her dreams, the cramping in her legs unbearable, as though something had twisted her foot tendon and was swinging on it.
"Qing Ju, what is it?" He Heng suddenly awoke from his slumber and saw that the forehead of the person beside him was dotted with sweat. From the light casted by a candle in the corner of the room, he saw that even the colors of her lips had changed, and paled himself, hurriedly calling for a servant.
A commotion later, Qu Qing Ju's cramps disappeared under the massage of the pregnancy mama. She rubbed her forehead tiredly. She felt that she was very drowsy but couldn't fall asleep.
"Emperor, please don't worry. When a woman is pregnant, hand and foot cramps may occur. If care is taken with the diet, it will subside in a while." The pregnancy mama saw that the Emperor didn't have a happy expression and informed cautiously, "Normally, if someone massages niangniang, it can help relieve the symptoms."
He Heng's face cleared slightly. Seeing Qu Qing Ju's tired state, he ordered: "Zhen will get the nurses from the Imperial Hospital for this matter. You can all leave." He didn't understand medicine but knew that a person had many acupuncture points. If a wrong spot was pressed, it was deleterious to the mother and the fetus.
The pregnancy mama, Mu Jin and the others carefully left. After leaving the room, they finally took a breath. The Emperor's expression had been very dark, so frightening that they didn't dare to breathe.
"Can't sleep?" He Heng kept on patting Qu Qing Ju's back and seeing that she didn't fall asleep, he asked, "Still uncomfortable?"
Qu Qing Ju shook her head and changed positions: "Can't sleep."
"What is it?" He Heng pulled the blanket up and wrapped it more securely around the two of them, "I'm not having morning court tomorrow so we can talk now." Tomorrow, it was the start of sealing the pen and the break from court. In reality, He Heng still had a pile of things to do but to comfort the person beside him, of course he wouldn't say those things.
Qu Qing Ju felt that she didn't have any desire to talk, but looking at the other's spirited state, she could only respond: "Talk about what?"
"Anything will do," He Heng forced down the urge to open his mouth in a yawn, "Like your childhood, or what things you like."
Qu Qing Ju stared for a beat before sighing: "I don't remember much from my childhood. Before, I didn't have many chances to leave the compound. When I grew older, only jiumu would take me to meet others, but I couldn't spend all my time with jiumu. The relationship between Tian Family and the Qu Family became antagonistic after that. So from birth, life was like that, there's not much to talk about."
"Liang shi was truly horrid," He Heng lovingly ran his fingers through Qu Qing Ju's hair behind her back, "Xiandi hadn't done many things for me. This entire life, the only good things he did are two matters. One is you, the other is the succession edict."
"I can't compare to the succession edict. In this world, this is only one succession edict, but there are hundreds of thousands of women," Qu Qing Ju squirmed and changed her position to put her head at He Heng's neck, "Liang shi was horrid, but my father was the true culprit. My mother died of unknown causes and father was in a rush to welcome a new wife. If it wasn't for jiujiu and his family, I'm afraid that even my dowry would have been very meager. If I really had married that shoddily, then what reputation would I have had with the Imperial House?"
"The family of the Duke of Zhong Yi is very good," He Heng said a beat after hearing her words, "In this world, there are men like your father, but there are couples who are together for their lives."
Qu Qing Ju's lips curled. Was He Heng telling her that he wasn't the same kind of person as the Duke of Chang De?
"There are women in this world who like hearing pretty words, but there are also those who only see reality," She put a hand on his chest, "Coincidentally, I am the latter. I don't like hearing what people say, only like seeing what people do."
"Doing is better than seeing?" The smile on He Heng's face grew wide, "I'm very comforted by how smart Qing Ju is."
He was afraid that she wouldn't like to hear him, and also wouldn't like to see what he did.
On the twenty ninth day of the twelfth month, the court pen was sealed. Except for those who had to be on duty in each ministry, the other people had gone home to pass the year. But even so, those officials weren't truly idle. They were proactively finding out whose family received gifts from the Emperor and which families were able to attend the Imperial Family's year-end banquet.
This was the first year since the new Emperor had ascended the throne. Those who received gifts from the Emperor meant that those people, at the very least, had caught the Emperor's eyes. It would have been strange if no one in Jing cared about them.
So from the twenty ninth to the thirtieth day, there were gifts coming out of the palace. Those who received them were ones such as Cheng Wang and the Duke of Zhong Yi. Aside from the luck character and spring couplets from the emperor, there were gifts from the two Empress Dowagers and the Empress. Some, such as the Right Minister Right, Ning Wang, Rui Wang, and Minster Luo, also received some gifts.
As for the others' families, some people received the Emperor's character, some received the Empress' gifts but they didn't have the honor to receive gifts from the four big personages. However, at this year end, all the officials in Jing City understood one thing. That was, you could only eat if you followed the Emperor.
The year banquet was on the thirtieth day. Other than the members of the Imperial House, only families who had a first-rank title were lucky enough to be able to enter the palace to enjoy the banquet, such as the Duke of Zhong Yi and the two heads of the two Empress Dowager's paternal families.
Qu Qing Ju and He Heng sat together at the very front. Due to her pregnancy, she didn't drink any wine. In front of her was a "phoenix returning to the nest" soup. Basically, it was a chicken stuffed inside a pig's stomach and then cooked using an old pot, but the taste was good and fitting to drink in the winter.
The people below knew that the Empress was pregnant and no one was foolish enough to toast her. So halfway through the banquet, she had been idle.
"The Empress' belly is so round and smooth. Chen fu thinks this child must be male." Qin Bai Lu raised a wine cup, stood and said to Qu Qing Ju, "Chen fu toasts niangniang, and wishes that niangniang will give birth to a son soon and stays young forever."
The Empress was already pregnant. Wishing for her to give birth to a son soon, wasn't it not appropriate? Luo Wen Yao furrowed her brows, and followed in standing and raising her wine cup, "Chen fu wishes Empress to stay healthy and have a good year."
Qu Qing Ju grasped the wine cup from her side. Mu Jin poured her a cup of water. She raised the cup towards the two people: "Many thanks to both dimei. Since I can't drink now, I have to use water in place of wine to thank both of you."
He Heng placed a duck's tongue into Qu Qing Ju's bowl, smiling as he declared: "Everyone here isn't an outsider so zhen isn't afraid everyone will laugh. Zhen and Empress are both young and feel the sex doesn't matter."
Everyone followed in agreeing, and along the way, praised both Emperor and Empress. The major idea was that no matter if it was an imperial son or daughter, they would certainly be the recipients of Emperor and Empress' good genes, and in the future, would become one that would stun the world.
Qin Bai Lu couldn't believe that the Emperor would so brazenly protect Qu Qing Ju to the point that he would say in front of all those people that he didn't care whether it was a boy or girl. Did the Emperor not want someone to carry down the line?
"In the future, zhen and Empress will have many children. To guess whether each one is a boy or girl, that would be zhen and Empress bringing trouble upon ourselves." He Heng roared with laughter, self-mockingly adding, "Zhen doesn't want to go to such trouble."
Everyone naturally followed in laughing, but their hearts were scared witless. What the Emperor just said, it seemed to mean that he was only going to have children with the Empress only.
It must be that they heard wrong!
Qu Qing Ju raised an eyebrow at He Heng. Seeing he was smiling as he listened to the flattery of the people below, she lowered her head to continue drinking soup.
Wei Qing E and He Qi sat together. She looked dazedly at Qu Qing Ju dressed in a purple wide sleeved dress embroidered with a hundred birds bowing to a phoenix. She couldn't believe her eyes and ears. The Emperor was really willing to favor only one woman, and was even willing to have only her have children?
She thought about the tongfang that the other officials had sent over after they returned to court. Even though she had shared in the hardships with wang ye and wang ye treated her much more closely, didn't he still take the women that others gave as tong fang?
Was it really true that this world had a man that was faithful, and this man was the Emperor as well?
Wei Qing E slowly took her gaze back. Strangely, her gaze fell on Qin Bai Lu. Qin Bai Lu's expression wasn't well. Rui Wang beside her didn't seem to pay any attention to her. The two sat at a two-person table but their atmosphere wasn't any different from strangers.
It was no wonder then that Qin Bai Lu was that jealous of Qu Qing Ju. As a woman, she could understand what the other thought, even she was slightly jealous of the Empress. She had the status, she would almost have a child, and she even had the fidelity of her husband. And this woman who had everything didn't even need to be kind or generous, didn't need a high birth but still lived better than all of them.
"What are you looking at?" He Qi pulled her sleeve under the table, warning in a small voice, "Don't copy lao san's wang fei's stupidity. I heard the Emperor doesn't like that one and already bestowed down a few beauties to Rui Wang Fu.'
Wei Qing E's heart jumped. Her brow creasing, she asked: "Wasn't it said that the Emperor didn't keep any of the female candidates?"
"He didn't keep any, but that doesn't mean that he can't bestow them to other people," He Qi swirled the wine cup in his hand, flicking a look in the direction of He Yuan, "Lao san was too arrogant in his conduct, but that one of his isn't a peaceful one. I heard that in the past, she had done many things to offend the Empress. The way the Emperor dotes on the Empress, would he spare that one of lao san's?"
"The Emperor wouldn't ……" Wei Qing E's tongue twisted. The Emperor wouldn't manage such matters.
"Don't see only his appearance, he's ruthless," He Qi pushed his voice so quiet that only the two of them could hear, "How that Qu ce fei's of lao san passed away, there's a lot that went on there."
Wei Qing E gripped her wine cup tighter. Then a woman who could keep a man like that in the palm of her hand, how scary was she?
In that instant, the look that Wei Qing E gave Qu Qing Ju was as though she was seeing a devastatingly beautiful demoness.
Qu Qing Ju didn't know that she had been levelled up to demoness. She gave a yawn and ate the fruits that had been cut up. She occasionally exchanged words with the noblewomen as the year banquet slowly came to a conclusion.
At precisely midnight, the fireworks exploded outside the hall, dying half of the hall red.
Qu Qing Ju looked outside the hall and managed to see one of the fireworks burst, impossibly beautiful.
"Like it?" He Heng reached out a hand to her, "I'll accompany you outside to see."
Qu Qing Ju gave him her hand. The two walked out of the hall holding hands and stood at the tall stage outside the hall. They watched as bud after bud of fire bloom and then wither, beautiful as though it was a dream.
Behind the two were the people who had come to attend the banquet. Everyone saw the hands of the Emperor and Empress entwined together. Under the fireworks, the figures of the two were like a painting.
Wei Qing E stood next to He Qi. Her gaze was fixed on the Emperor and Empress' hands that hadn't let go from beginning to end. She seemed to once again see the last evening of the year one year ago, as Qu Qing Ju, clad entirely in red, walked down step by step from those stairs, and the Emperor, still a wang ye then, couldn't resist going forward to support Qu Qing Ju.
It seemed that she had never forgotten that scene, and it was deeply embedded in her heart.
The fireworks then, it was still as bright and attractive as today, but what she could remember was the hand the Emperor couldn't help but reach out.
Maybe some things were fated.
Like her and He Qi, Qu Qing Ju and the Emperor, Qin Bai Lu and Rui Wang.