Thanks for all of you that sent me your opinions! And welcome to all of you that subscribed to follow me (I think it was a long time since I previously said that). Seeing the count go up is one of my motivations to keep going.
Now that we’ve met Qu Qing Ju’s father and stepmother, it’s time to start meeting He Heng’s family, starting with one of the most important women in the book and my second favorite female character, Jing fei. That’s going to take up the next few chapter. I don’t think I could overstate just how important Jing fei is.
Chapter Thirteen Jing Fei's Summons
What had occurred at Chang De Gong Fu did make its way through the aristocratic circles of the city of Jing. The type of people that Jing City never lacked for were officials and nobility. When the incident spread, the Duke of Chang De couldn't bear to go out to hear the mockery in other people's words. Every time he went to court, he rushed as fast as he could home after it ended.
Last time, he had gone to houyuan to ask Liang shi what had happened. The result was that he had saw Liang shi sobbing her heart out in her room. He knew that it was hard to be a stepmother. Now that da yatou was a wang fei, Liang shi could only respect her. She had to endure it even if she was annoyed. She was victimized.
They were all daughters of Chang De Gong Fu. Why was it that san yatou was so considerate and sensible, but da yatou was this senseless? If her paternal home was shamed, she, as a married daughter, wouldn't be well-off either.
Liang Rong was walking in the courtyards and saw his aunt's husband furiously marching past. He quickly retreated and bowed to the Duke of Chang De. The duke wasn't in the mood to pay him any attention so he nodded and strode away. This made Liang Rong to look longer at him.
"Gongzi, what's going on with gu lao ye?"The manservant that followed him said worriedly, "His face didn't look so good."
Thinking of the rumors these past days in Jing City, Liang Rong furrowed his brow. Because of the separation of the sexes, he hadn't had many interactions with his cousin-in-name, Qu Qing Ju. But in his memories, every time he saw her, she always preferred to lower her head and didn't speak. How did things get this bad? With aunt's nature and skills, how come she couldn't managed a little girl?
Now the reputation of Chang De Gong Fu wasn't good and in passing, people were saying to not marry any daughters of the Liang family. This had ruined the reputations of the sisters in his home and he felt somewhat insecure. The person they offended this time wasn't somebody ordinary, but the second imperial son Duan Wang. It wouldn't be very easy to supress the gossip.
But he had heard before that Rui Wang's mother Shu Fei and Duan Wang's mother Jin Fei did not get along. If they could get the support of Rui Wang, things would be much easier to accomplish. Furthermore, the present Emperor was old and all the imperial sons had reached adulthood. The Emperor's favourite was Rui Wang. Recently, the rumors had been saying that the Emperor was going to establish Rui Wang as taizi.  If that was true, then supporting Rui Wang would cause no harm and create many advantages.
Qu Qing Ju, after hearing the jokes that Huang Yang had heard about Chang De Gong Fu, was in a mood good enough that she ate an extra half-bowl of rice at noon. In the afternoon, she rewarded all the servants in the zhengyuan.
Wang fei's actions made everybody in zhengyuan feel confused and worried. Logically, wang fei should be angry but why did it not look like that?
There were some that asked Huang Yang, but while Huang Yang looked young, his brains were very quick and not one word could be pried from him.
Qu Qing Ju didn't care what about what the servants did and absolved the other qieshi of paying their respects in the next two days. She concentrated on combing through the memories that remained of the original in the body. These memories weren't hers and in her heart, they were like scenes of a movie. She would remember them but she wouldn't be involved in them.
After she managed to organize everything, Qu Qing Ju had nothing to do except eat, read and look at flowers until a mama from Zhong Jing Palace came.
The mistress of Zhong Jing Place was Duan Wang's mother Jing Fei and this mama had come to convey Jing Fei's words. The meaning was that she had her that her erxifu had recovered and as her mufei, she missed her so she was to, along with the two ce fei, go tomorrow to Zhong Jing Palace to visit.
Basically, it was that Jing Fei saw that her erxifu hadn't been to pay respects to her for a long time and felt uncomfortable inside. In this era, if the popo didn't make something difficult for her erxifu, it wouldn't be fair to when she had been an erxifu and the way she was treated in that time. There were more liberal popos, but she wasn't very lucky, and such a thing of good fortune hadn't occurred to her.
Since mufei wanted a meeting, she, as her erxifu, had to follow the wishes of her elders. She sent two yahuan to notify the two ce fei of the event and Qu Qing Ju put the event aside.
At night when He Heng came to zhengyuan, he picked up the topic with Qu Qing Ju.
"I heard that mufei wanted to see you tomorrow?" After the two flipped the red waves, they laid calmly in the blankets. He Heng spoke as if he just thought of it, "You've been sick for more than a month so you had no way of going to the palace to pay respects. That wasn't your fault. The gifts, I've gotten Qian Chang Xin to prepared already. Tomorrow after court, I'll also go to mufei's palace so you don't have to worry about anything else."
Qu Qing Ju reached out with her index finger and wrapped a lock of He Heng's hair around her finger, making a sound of assent. In the memories, this Jing Fei hadn't been very satisfied with her as an erxifu but because it had been a marriage bestowed by the Emperor, she had barely managed to go through the formalities. But even so, in her actions and words, there was still the hint of disdain.
The original, in the memories, had been very frightened of Jing Fei. It had seemed that every time she went into the palace, her heart had been in her throat. Now Duan Wang was saying these words, did he want to reassure her? No matter how much truthfulness was in these words, Qu Qing Ju accepted his goodwill.
"What is it, still unhappy?" He Heng heard the apathy in her voice and tightened his embrace. Looking at her fine brows, he teased, "Ben wang can protect you, are you still unhappy?"
"Mufei is wang ye's birth mother, she wouldn't be too harsh on qie," Qu Qing Ju raised her head to look at He Heng and sighed, "Qie knows that mufei isn't very happy with qie's own family. This can't be blamed on mufei, even qie is helpless against the people of that family. Before the Emperor decreed the wedding, qie hadn't even dare to think of marrying into the Imperial Family." She reached out with a hand to encircle Duan Wang's neck, "Luckily, wang ye hasn't abandoned qie because of Chang De Gong Fu, and is protecting qie in all matters. Qie is a lucky woman."
He Heng's eyes moved away from his stare with Qu Qing Ju's gaze and tightly clutched the person to him: "It is because wang fei is very good, ben wang protects you. You have no connection to that entire Qu family. The person I married is you, not the Qu family. How absurd they are I don't care. As long as they don't bully you, I will pretend to not see them."
"Wang ye… …" Qu Qing Ju buried her head into the space of He Heng's neck. When He Heng was speaking, he didn't dare look at her eyes. It seemed somebody had a guilty conscience. There wasn't anybody of note in Chang De Gong Fu, but that wasn't the same with the Tian Clan of Xiang Qing Hou Fu. Even if the Tian family didn't have the power to oppose the court, they were still a first-rate family in Jing City. And the entire Tian Clan treated her very well. Duan Wang couldn't have missed that fact.
"Alright, don't think too much, sleep early." He Heng gently patted Qu Qing Ju's back as though he was soothing a baby into sleep. He didn't have much affection for Tian shi in the beginning, so after the marriage, he had kept her on ice. He had let the servants serve her with respect because of the Tian family behind her but in the encounters of these recent days, he had found that Qu shi wasn't an insipid and tasteless woman. He wasn't the type of men to favor a qie over a wife. He wanted to interact more with his zhengfei and gradually build some positive emotion. Even if they didn't reach affection as deep as the sea, they had to get to mutual respect.
Qu Qing Ju wasn't just a beautiful woman, her words and actions were very attractive to him as a man so the more they interacted, the more satisfied he felt with her. He wanted to treat her even better. Even if the words he spoke weren't all true, but it still expressed more or less represented his desires.
The two fell asleep in an embrace. Undoubtedly, both had very different thoughts, but their position was as though they were the most intimate lovers in the world, displaying a beautiful sleeping posture.
Qu Qing Ju woke up very early on the second morning. After breakfast, she changed on to a majestic crimson trailing dress embroidered with round flowers. Using fake hair, she made a feixian knot. She picked the finest and most beautiful hair ornaments and jewellery to wear, the exact opposite of the plainness in the past. She wore whatever she found pleasing to the eye. As to whether Jing Fei would like it, she just wanted to say, if you didn't like somebody, even their breathing was wrong, if you can't please somebody else, then please yourself.
Putting on the pearl embroidered shoes, Qu Qing Ju stood, the jewel over the middle of her forehead slightly swaying: "Let's go. Are the two ce fei ready yet?"
"The two ce fei are already waiting," Yu Zan came front to support Qu Qing Ju, "The carriage is ready. Wang fei, do you want to leave now?"
"It's about time, it'll take the better half of an hour to go from here to Zhong Jing Place. Send somebody to call the two ce fei." It was just going to the palace, but Jing Fei had to call the two ce fei as well. She really was honouring this wang fei.
Feng Zi Jin and Jiang Yong Yu had been waiting early by the gate of zhengyuan. Seeing wang fei come out, the two first paused before bowing to Qu Qing Ju.
Qu Qing Ju scanned the two. Jiang Yong Yu's clothing was the most proper it could get, it wasn't eye-catching but it displayed her identity as a ce fei. What Feng Zi Jin wore was much brighter, the pink of the girdled dress made her seem young and fresh.
The two ce fei were a bit surprised. The last few times wang fei had went into the palace, what she had worn had been the most proper with no distinguishing features. She was dressed so beautifully today that the two didn't manage to react for a period of time.
Those rounded flowers were embroidered looked as though they were alive. It was Shu embroidery. It probably had taken a long time to make the dress. And that water droplet forehead jewel made from a red ruby, the dark gold string braided in the hair so that the jewel sat perfectly in the middle of the forehead. Every move had the onlooker feel it was extraordinarily beautiful.
Wang fei was wearing this to the palace, wasn't she afraid that Jing Fei niangniang would say she was too extravagant?
Not caring what the two though, Qu Qing Ju took a few yahuan and walked to the front.
After she sat on the carriage in the front, the two ce fei climbed into a carriage in the back before the second-rank yahuan that was coming along finally expressed her awe. What wang fei was wearing today was beautiful. No wonder wang ye liked going to zhengyuan recently.
When the carriages reached the palace doors, they couldn't go any further. Qu Qing Ju stepped on a taijian's back to get off the carriage. She looked at the black stone path that stretched long ahead of her and the tall red walls beside the path. She couldn't resist raising her head and look at the cloudless blue sky.
Feng Zi Jin stepped on the taijian's back to climb down and saw the taijian that was kneeling by Qu Qing Ju's carriage. She lightly snorted. A few days earlier, wang fei had slipped on a taijian's back when stepping off a carriage so she didn't favor using taijian as a footstool any more. But now they were in the palace, she acted according to the protocols of the Imperial Family. She had assumed that she would be much more courageous.
Jiang Yong Yu calmly glanced at Feng Zi Jin and sped up to stand behind Qu Qing Ju. It irritated Feng Zi Jin who snorted again before following in her footsteps.
公子: son of an official or nobility, also a title of respect for young men.
 姑老爷: husband of a daughter when referred to by a servant. The servant is from the wife's side with gu being the in-law.
 太子: Crown Prince
 钟景宫: zhong can mean clock, time or a goblet. Jing means bright, circumstance or scenery.
 儿媳妇: wife of a son, daughter-in-law
 婆婆: mother-in-law, husband's mother