Shorter chapter today.
Chapter Thirty One Of Another's Family
During the noon meal, Qu Qing Ju and He Heng sat on either side of Jing guifei. The palace maids carried trays in like a school of fish and served them as they washed and dried their hands.
Jing guifei might have had the intentions to elevate Wei Ran Shuang but due to Wei Ran Shaung's status, she couldn't sit with the three of them. Qu Qing Ju looked at Wei Ran Shuang as she stood being Jing guifei. This Wei meimei that returned from outside to Jing City had a good appearance, innocent and clean. Her manner as she obediently stood behind Jing guifei was also very attractive. It was just in this kind of ancient era that it was very likely for cousins to get together. Qu Qing Ju stole a look at He Heng and guess as to whether if he had any desire.
Taking the handkerchief that a palace maid handed over, Qu Qing Ju's gaze scanned over He Heng. The other person didn't seem to have any interest in Wei Ran Shuang. She smiled and watched as dish after dish was brought in.
After the noon meal, Wei Ran Shuang accompanied Jing guifei as she returned to the inner rooms for a short rest. Qu Qing Ju and He Heng went to one of the side rooms. There was a full set of furniture and other essentials in the side room. Qu Qing Ju even managed to see that a page of awkwardly written characters hanging on the wall. It looked like the writings of a young child.
He Heng saw Qu Qing Ju was looking at the words and coughed before explaining: "This was the room I lived in when I was young and lived with mufei. Only after I was six did I move to the side hall. When I was ten, I moved to my own palace."
Qu Qing Ju looked at the date under the characters, the seventeenth year of Qing De. At that time, He Heng would have only been five years old. She took her gaze back and smiled: "Wang ye's talents are above others."
"From such a set of characters, Qing Ju can see talent above others, it's your ken that are above others," He Heng smiled and sat down on the bed, "Come rest for a while on the bed. It will be very late tonight before we can return back to our fu."
Qu Qing Ju, under the service of servants, took down the hair ornaments and the decorated outer robe. After everyone had left the room, she crisply sat down on the bed. She stared at him and said: "If my ken aren't good, I wouldn't have fallen for wang ye."
To this kind of response, he couldn't help but laugh. He Heng had to admit he liked hearing this. In the end he could only press the person onto the bed, "You married me because fuhuang decreed married, how was it you fell for me?"
Qu Qing Ju wrapped the blanket around her and muttered: "Fell later, then."
He Heng looked at the person who had buried her head into the blankets. The corners of his lips couldn't help but curl up, his eyes unconsciously becoming softer.
The nap that Jing guifei took at noon wasn't long. It wasn't a bit more than an hour when she woke. She stood from the bed and looked at Wei Ran Shuang who stood to one side, allowing the palace maids to put on the clothing and adornments needed for the evening banquet.
Seeing Wei Ran Shuang come forward to help style her hair, Jing guifei stopped her. Looking at herself in the mirror and the lingering traces of beauty, Jing guifei asked in a cool tone: "Ran Shuang, do you know why ben gong let you enter the palace?"
Wei Ran Shuang had never interacted with Jing guifei for a long length of time so when she heard Jing guifei ask this, she became nervous. She answered with a bit of embarrassment: "Niece doesn't know."
Picking out a peach blossom hairpin made from rubies out of boxes of ornaments, Jing guifei said with a calm expression: "I suppose that before you entered the palace, your mother had already said a lot to you. But some things ben gong has to say clearly to you. Duan Wang is an adult. Ben gong cannot make his decisions for him, and doesn't want to force him into accepting any decisions. Lay rest to your wishes now."
Wei Ran Shuang paled and she gripped her fingers together for a beat before whispering: "Gumu, I don't ask for much, I just want to remain at biao ge's side." Finishing, her face became red.
Hearing this, Jing guifei smiled, whether in distain or something else. She raised an eyebrow as she looked at the young girl standing at her side: "You've just seen Heng'er for just this little while and you want to spend your entire life with him?" Young girls were easily influenced by a man's status, appearance and conduct. They didn't care what his personality was like, how his family was. They thought it was true love and would rush in. As to the end result, they would never think about it.
Wei Ran Shuang's face became even more flushed and buried her head slightly, not rejecting Jing guifei's words.
"Then what do you think about Duan Wang Fei?" When Jing guifei mentioned her erxifu, she felt her temple throb.
"Duan Wang Fei is more beautiful than any other," Wei Ran Shuang bit her lips and squeezed out, "I don't want to compete with wang fei, and doesn't dare to."
"You can't compete with her," Jing guifei personally drew her eyebrows and she was merciless when she looked at Wei Ran Shuang again, "I don't want you to become a qieshi. If you are willing, I will definitely find you a good family." Her erxifu might not be what she wanted, but she had to admit that her niece couldn't even compare to Qu Qing Ju.
Appearance, family, composure, conduct and even the special traits that aroused interest and affection in men. Wei Ran Shuang was drastically weaker than Qu Qing Ju. As a qie, she had nothing that could outcompete the wife, what would she use to compete for a man's favour?
Wei Ran Shuang's face became even paler but she refused to speak.
Jing guifei looked at her state and furrowed her eyebrows. She didn't speak further. Plainly speaking, it wasn't her actual brother's daughter. Since the other wouldn't listen to her persuasions, she was lazy to speak more.
Coming out of the inner room, Jing guifei saw that no one was in the outer room and asked: "Have they not risen yet?"
Ding mama knew who niangniang was asking for and responded: "It probably was that wang ye and wang fei would have risen early today and be tired. They haven't risen. Nubi will go now to summon them."
"That's fine, let them sleep. I don't know how late this will go tonight," Jing guifei waved her hand and took a drink of tea to help her focus, "That woman, Shu guifei, is most likely going to be troubling ben gong again tonight. Make sure that everybody who is accompanying ben gong tonight to the banquet to be careful."
Ding mama confirmed. Her niangniang had been locked in struggle with Shu guifei for many years. After so long, they held a mutual hate. Thankfully, wang ye was a good child. Otherwise, based on how the emperor favoured only Shu guifei, niangniang would have been at a disadvantage.
As the two were talking, they saw He Heng and Qu Qing Ju walk in holding hands.
Jing guifei stopped the topic and saw her erxifu looked at her with amazement, she felt very satisfied and opened: "You've just woken, drink some tea to wake up. After a bit, use some refreshments."
At this type of banquet, the tendency was to go hungry. Qu Qing Ju understood and after she took a drink of tea, she complimented: "Mufei's dress is very beautiful."
Because the other's compliment was too straightforward and unskilled, Jing guifei held a teacup and explained: "This dress was specially made by the Clothing Department. It took many days. It's natural it wouldn't be bad looking." Other family's erxifu speaks in twists and turns. Their compliments were classic and literary. But why was it that when it came to her, it was such a bare sentence? Even the desire to show-off was halved. Jing guifei signalled that she wasn't happy.
Wei Rang Shuang saw the situation and came forward to exchange Jing guifei's tea for a hotter one. She smiled: "The cranes on Aunt's dress are as though they came from Heaven. I wonder how they embroidered it, at one glance, one can't tear their gaze away."
Look at her, look! Jing guifei glanced at Qu Qing Ju and held the new cup of tea. She smiled and declared: "The things that ben gong wants them to make, they naturally will make it well. Otherwise, there's no use in keeping them."
"Gumu is of high status, they wouldn't dare do you a disservice," When Wei Ran Shuang finished, she said to Qu Qing Ju, "The craftsman on saosao's dress is also very skilled. It must have also taken many days."
Qu Qing Ju squinted her eyes in a smile as she looked at Wei Ran Shuang, "Us members of the Imperial Family, we do have to take more care at these times." Her good cousin wasn't a pure harmless little white bunny.
Wei Ran Shuang's smiled dimmed slightly: "Yes, people like me, we don't get to use these things."
"That's true," Qu Qing Ju nodded," Girls like you, it doesn't matter what you wear. There's no need to take a lot of care."
Her face dimming, Wei Ran Shuang felt that the matter-of-fact tone of the other made her heart feel as though it was blocked. A beat later she forced a smile and said: "Saosao has a noble status, and naturally has to take more care."
"There's no way around it, I can't shame my wang ye now," Qu Qing Ju sighed in helplessness and turned towards He Heng, "Right, wang ye."
He Heng nodded and without looking at Wei Ran Shuang, he admitted: "You are right."
A man with ability, usually they wouldn't care how much women spent and how valuable was what she wore. There were only two types of men that criticized women for being extravagant. One type was the type that had no ability. The other type was he had a change of heart. Qu Qing Ju didn't know if He Heng had a heart but she did know that He Heng was very able.
Seeing the interactions between the two, the dimness on Wei Ran Shuang's face became more real but she had no way of saying something else. She could only force a smile and comment: Gege and saosao have such a good relationship."
He Heng slowly followed with this: "I and your saosao are husband and wife. We naturally have good feelings for each other."
Wei Ran Shuang didn't speak again.
Jing guifei looked calmly at this scene and put the teacup in her hand to one side. She motioned for Ding mama to change her cup before announcing: "The kitchen should have finished making the refreshments now. Ben gong will let them serve it. Erxifu, when we get to the banquet later, don't drink too much." If she had to leave in the middle of the banquet, it would shame her.
Qu Qing Ju nodded: "Erxifu will remember, thanks, mufei, for the reminder." Finishing, she gave a grateful look of "Mufei, you are such a good person."
Jing guifei jerked her lips and felt that she didn't want to talk to her again.
When the sky darkened, Jing guifei finally opened again: "Heng'er, you go to the front hall. Ben gong will take erxifu to the rear hall."
He Heng stood and performed a greeting. He gave Qu Qing Ju a reassuring look before he walked out the door of Zhong Jing Palace.
"Let's go, erxifu." Jing guifei touched the buyao inserted in her hair as she stood, "Later, follow ben gong and don't speak freely." She kept on feeling if she didn't give a few more warnings, she would be too worried.
Qu Qing Ju came up to hold her hand and smiled. She affirmed: "Erxi knows."