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Peace is never lasting.
Chapter One Hundred
“Empress, this is what the Emperor ordered nubi to deliver to you.”
Qu Qing Ju looked at the objects the palace maids held and saw that it was clothing and shoes suited for a pregnant female. She smiled, commenting: “It must have been difficult for Emperor to take all this trouble.” Even though the palace maids on her side had already made many pieces for her, she would remember He Heng’s goodwill.
Mu Jin saw the palace maids out to the doorway of the hall. When she came back, she found that everything had already been sorted away. She assumed Qu xiaojie’s death a few days earlier had affected the mood of the Empress, and went forward to ask: “Niangniang, nubi heard the taiyi say that when the embryo is three or four months old, there would be movements. Have you felt anything?”
“Really? Ben gong had thought it was an upset stomach,” Qu Qing Ju had been very interested in the fetus in her belly. She rubbed her chin, pondering, “No wonder I kept feeling strange movements in my belly.”
“If it was an ailment of the digestive system, Dean Du would have already found it,” Mu Jin opened the windows in the room, looking at the appearance of the sky, “Nubi sees that the weather is well, niangniang could take a walk.”
Lu mama, who had been standing silently at one side, looked out the window and nodded: “Mu Jin guniang is right. Right now, His Highness has been in niangniang’s belly for more than three months. Appropriate walking would be beneficial for you and His Highness.”
Lu mama had been He Heng’s decreed pregnancy mama. She was extremely knowledgeable about pregnancy. For Qu Qing Ju, she was an encyclopedia of pregnancy. From movement to diet to thinking, she knew everything.
“Since Lu mama says so, then let’s walk,” Qu Qing Ju touched her face, and took Jin Zhan’s hand to stand up from the recliner.
Mu Jin placed a fox skin cape to Qu Qing Ju before allowing Qu Qing Ju to walk outside.
The weather at the beginning of winter wasn’t very cold. Qu Qing Ju uneasily pulled at the cape on her body, taking in the sun that had no heat. Giving a yawn, she asked: “Heard yesterday that Emperor punished a palace maid, do you know what happened?”
Mu Jin and Jin Zhan exchanged a glance. In the end, it was Mu Jin who spoke: “Nubi isn’t very clear but only heard that the Emperor found that the attire of the maid broke protocol. It provoked the Emperor’s temper and he flared out.” They had been afraid that this matter would affect the mood of the Empress and hadn’t told her. Even though they hadn’t said anything to niangniang, how did niangniang know?
Qu Qing Ju knew what they were thinking, lazily pointing out: “Ben gong is pregnant, many people in the hougong are having thoughts. Now, even the palace maids have other ideas.”
“Niangniang, it doesn’t matter what they think since Emperor isn’t interested in them. What you should do now is rest and take care of the fetus. Why should you waste attention on these people?” Mu Jin urged, “Futhermore, niangniang, you are Empress, can anyone overtake you?”
“Naturally, I won’t waste attention on these people,” Qu Qing Ju curled her lips in a smile, looking at a corner in front of her, “But there are those people who come to hinder ben gong’s eyes.”
Mu Jin and Jin Zhan simultaneously followed Qu Qing Ju’s gaze. Their faces both darkened. It was Han liangdi and the Emperor standing together as they talked. Looking at the smile on Han liangdi’s face, it was as though she had found a treasure.
Seeing the scene, the two looked worriedly at the Empress and found the smile on the corner of the Empress’ mouth had grown wide. Her eyes though, had grown cold. Mu Jin couldn’t resist saying, “Niangniang, maybe the Emperor just coincidentally encountered Han liangdi.”
Qu Qing Ju snorted. There weren’t that many coincidences in the world, and not that many emperors who would keep themselves pure for a woman. The previous dynasty had Yu Ming Emperor and he had been extolled for a few hundred years. It could be seen just how rare the love of an Emperor was, one in a few hundred years.
Han liangdi hadn’t thought she would coincidentally encounter the Emperor in the Imperial Gardens. She looked bashfully at the upright figure of He Heng, asking in a soft voice: “Emperor, qie has learned a new song a few days ago, does Emperor want to listen?”
“Han liangdi’s voice is like a oriole in a valley. Zhen hasn’t heard you sing for a time,” He Heng saw a pavilion nearby and pointed at it, “How about you sing for zhen today?”
Han liangdi was so happy she almost couldn’t disguise her expression. Following behind the Emperor and watching as he sat, she said: “Qie will disgracefully present.”
“Cutting by candlelight by the western window, the moonlight silver frost, asking when next month she would return, but saw that she was at another place… …”
Ming He, standing by He Heng, listened and then sniffed his nose. The song seemed as though Han liangdi was trying to invite favour from the Emperor?
“She doesn’t see the others tears, and doesn’t know of the other’s hurt … …”
When the song ended, Han liangdi’s eyes were slightly red as she pretended to be unaffected and bowed to He Heng: “Qie’s voice isn’t as good as it was once, sorry to have disappointed the Emperor.”
“En, Han liangdi’s songs are as pleasing to the ear as before, zhen……” He Heng glanced outside the pavilion and his eyelids jumped, “Zhen thinks that these matters of music, it’s fine to play with occasionally, but shouldn’t pay too much attention to these things. Right now, you are a fifth-grade liangdi. It isn’t very dignified to practice singing all day. In the future if you want zhen to listen to a song, you can let the Department of Music rehearse and then let zhen see.
She hadn’t thought she would hear such a thing. Han liangdi instantly choked. Even the tears that had almost brimmed out were choked down,
“Emperor’s words are too harsh. Qie feels that Han liangdi’s songs are very good, and the people of the Music department cannot compare.” Qu Qing Ju held Mu Jin’s hand as she walked into the pavilion. After she walked in front of He Heng, she was going to bend in a greeting but was held up by He Heng.
“If you like it, then let Han liangdi go back and practice more. In the future, you and zhen can listen together,” He Heng supported her to sit beside him, placing a stack of pastries in front of her, “Or you can let Han liangdi sing now. Zhen remembers that Han liangdi had a “Tan Lian Fu” that she sang well.”
Qu Qing Ju smiled enchantingly, her eyes flickering before resting on Han liangdi. After thinking for a short while, she shook her head, rejecting: “No, it’s alright. It’s just as Emperor has said, Han liangdi might not have a high rank but she is one of the feipin of the palace. To let her sing for qie, it is too humiliating.”
“You are the Empress who mothers the world. There’s no humiliation in her singing for you,” He Heng slightly raised his chin as he looked at Han liangdi, “Han liangdi, what do you say?”
“To be able to sing for Emperor and Empress is qie’s good fortune,” Han Qing He forced out a warm smile and bowed to Qu Qing Ju, “Please niangniang, allow pinqie to sing for you.” She felt half of her heart was freezing and the other half was boiling. The turmoil was extremely painful, but she had to make herself a singer.
“Peach blossoms are bewitching, pear blossoms white, only the lotus blossom……”
Qu Qing Ju gave a yawn and lazily leaned on He Heng’s shoulder, muttering: “Today’s weather is so good, it makes people sleepy.”
He Heng knew that after a woman became pregnant, she was easily drowsy. He reached around her back to let her lean more comfortably. The other hand slowly held a teacup that he sipped from as he frequently lowered his head to look at Qu Qing Ju leaning on his shoulder.
Han Qing He looked at the scene and for some reason, felt her throat hurt, as though singing one word was extremely difficult. By the end, even she didn’t know how she sang.
“Stop,” He Heng said in a small voice, “Empress is asleep, don’t disturb her.” He bent down to lift the person leaning on his shoulder. Then he took a deep breath, pretty heavy.
His empress looked beautiful and had a thin waist. Even three months pregnant, her belly wasn’t visible. But when he lifted her, he found that she was much heavier than in the past. It did seem that what she ate everyday was effective.
Thinking that Qu Qing Ju’s belly would get bigger in the next few months, he couldn’t help but furrow his brow. By that time, he didn’t know how much Qu Qing Ju would endure. Even sleep would be difficult then.
“Emperor, why don’t nucai get someone to bring the sedan?” Seeing the situation, Ming He came forward to ask.
“No need,” He Heng firmly held Qu Qing Ju, “This place isn’t far from Tian Qi Palace.”
“Yes,” Ming He complied and dropped to follow behind with a bent body. He prepared for the possibility of the Emperor’s hands faltering, he would use his body to cushion the Empress. From there to the rear hall of Tian Qi Palace, it was a somewhat horrifying experience for him.
“Respectfully seeing off Emperor and Empress,” Han Qing He watched as the Emperor carried the Empress down the stairs of the pavilion. When she couldn’t see their figures anymore, she finally angrily threw the cups from the table. What did the Empress mean, that she, Han Qing He, was born to be a singer?
They were all the Emperor’s women, yet she had to sing for the other to hear!
“Zhuzi,” The palace maid behind her was frightened by her actions. Scanning the surroundings, she sighed when she saw no one was around, urging, “Don’t be angry outside, be careful since the walls have ears.”
“Right now, she’s pregnant and can’t serve the Emperor but she’s still holding onto the Emperor and not letting go. Even like this, many people are praising her for being virtuous, pah!” Han Qing He’s anger couldn’t be restrained. In the recent days as she bullied Feng Zi, she forgot her bounds and also forgot her identity.
“Zhuzi!” The palace made was so frightened her legs grew weak, kneeling in front of her, “Stop talking, that will get your head chopped off!”
“Stand up, why do I only have people as stupid as you serving me,” Han Qing He breathed heavily. Seeing the person beside her pale in fright, she slowly calmed down, “Return!”
Such a good chance to get close to the Emperor had been ruined by Qu Qing Ju just like that. It was enough to make people hate!
Qu Qing Ju had her eyes closed as she leaned into He Heng’s embrace. Hearing his ever heavier breaths, she opened her eyes when they neared Tian Qi Palace. She looked confusedly at the surroundings, before raising her head to look at He Heng, “Emperor?”
“Awake?” He Heng stopped walking, lowering his head to look at the woman with a confused face in his arms, “You fell asleep. I’m taking you back to the palace.”
“I’m much heavier now, set me down,” Qu Qing Ju urged, “Emperor, how could you carry me this entire way? It’s too tiring.”
“It’s nothing,” He Heng tightened his grasp, “Don’t fuss, we’re almost there. Zhen will carry you back.”
Qu Qing Ju buried her head in his chest, muttering: “So embarrassing.”
“I’ve seen you in more embarrassing situations,” He Heng laughed out loud, “But it’s true that you are much heavier now.”
Qu Qing Ju pinched at his waist, sniffing: “Well, whose fault is that?”
“My fault, my fault,” He Heng continued to take large steps forward, not at all affected by Qu Qing Ju’s pinch, “Heavier is good, I like you heavier.”
The crowd of people following behind silently pushed their heads lowered. They expressed that they hadn’t heard anything.
……Of course, they also didn’t see the fawning act of the Emperor as he tried to win favor with the Empress.