Chapter 1232: [TangNing] Reluctance

Gu Beiyue took Qin Min south to the famous city of Ningzhou, where he bought a small estate for them to settle down. Besides some close servants, they didn’t hire any other help. Within the house, Qin Min had stopped stuffing clothes underneath her robes to fake her pregnancy like back in Yunning. Nor did she have to sit in her wheelchair all day feigning exhaustion. Everything was much easier. Besides the sole servant girl by her side, no one knew how dearly she wanted to walk after regaining use of her legs again!

There were countless cares in Yunning and she didn’t dare act out with Gu Beiyue’s conservative personality. All she could do was endure. It was both their ideas to hide the fact that she could walk again because she wanted to investigate who had poisoned her in the first place. Moreover, Gu Beiyue wanted to ferret out the traitor within the Qi Clan and seize the chance to change the blasé attitudes of the other major families in Medical City. 

Although Gu Beiyue was the medical academy’s director, it would take work to convert the academy itself into something under imperial jurisdiction. He needed a chance, as well as support from the major clans of Medical City. This support could either come willingly or via force. Back in the Gu Estate in Yunning, she had more opportunities to interact with Gu Beiyue to keep up their act. Here in Ningzhou, each of them could go their own ways.

Gu Beiyue was an extremely quiet person to anyone he met. She was different--although she loved peace, she could tolerate people as long as they didn’t annoy her in excessive crowds. She was silent before others and kept things in her heart, never exposing or vying with them, always feigning ignorance and staying lowkey. In private however, she was no gentle, serene woman, but someone who could hold her own. She loved researching acupuncture techniques and could even manufacture her own needles; she enjoyed gardening and getting covered in mud; she liked decorating her quarters so that they were neat and beautiful, sometimes changing the furniture itself; she adored making her own sweets and would spend entire afternoons in the kitchens; she liked playing the qin and painting and had recently taken up dancing lessons as well. 

She was a human full of passion for life, who treasured the quiet but filled her solitary world with plenty of things to do. She treated others very well but had a temper too, though it only flared up rarely. Her personality seemed similar to Gu Beiyue’s, but it was still markedly different. 

Gu Beiyue was quiet to the point that it made her feel stuffy; she also knew her mode of life might disturb his peace. In Yunning’s Gu Estate, she always yielded to him first and did her best to cooperate without bothering him. After all, he was her “husband,” the safest and luckiest home she found in this lifetime. He had saved her from the clutches of the Qin Clan.

Now in Ningzhou, she was far more free. First, there were no familiar faces who called on them; secondly, neither she nor Gu Beiyue entertained any officials, refusing all who called on them. Furthermore, their modest-sized estate here had two separate wings so she and Gu Beiyue didn’t need to disturb each other. They moved into separate wings on the very first day and lived their days independently. 

On New Year’s Eve, Gu Beiyue said he’d join her for a meal just when she was thinking of inviting him over. The two exchanged small smiles upon meeting.

Gu Beiyue said, “I’ll come over when it’s dark. You can just prepare something simple, no extravagance needed.”

Qin Min only asked in amusement, “Can you buy some fireworks as payment for the meal?”

Gu Beiyue grinned in agreement. 

Qin Min prepared a table full of dishes--not much, but all were her best recipes. She waited for Gu Beiyue with the mood of entertaining a good friend in the medical community. After all, she had lost all her friends after her legs became crippled. Only the little servant girl by her side remained. Unfortunately, Gu Beiyue’s retainer came to announce that the doctor was called away by urgent business that night.

Qin Min ended up waiting into the late hours of the night. When Gu Beiyue finally returned, all the dishes on the table were cold and Qin Min was sprawled on the table fast asleep. Her servant girl was also leaning against a pillar and had long dozed off. 

Seeing the untouched dishes, Gu Beiyue furrowed his brows. At this moment, the servant girl woke up and gave a shriek. “Sir!”

Qin Min immediately lifted her head and stared muddled-eyed at Gu Beiyue. 

“Eldest Miss Qin, my apologies for making you wait so long,” Gu Beiyue said gently.

Qin Min recovered her wits and patted her face before rising to her feet. “Academy Head, don’t be so formal. You haven’t eaten yet, right?” She had the servant girl go warm up the dishes while Gu Beiyue watched. By the time that was done, he finally spoke.

“I ate outside. You should eat. It’s New Year’s Eve, so you’ll starve for an entire year if you don’t eat your fill.”

Qin Min gave a start before she burst into laughter. “Academy Head, you believe that? Those are words meant to trick little children!”

Gu Beiyue personally offered her a bowl of soup and intoned, “I’ll keep you company for a while. Take your time and eat...since I’m here, you can’t miss this engagement.”

Was Gu Beiyue coaxing her because he was afraid she wouldn’t eat? Qin Min just chuckled.

“Even if you don’t eat, I still will. I really am starving. This is mushroom soup, so its flavor isn’t much different after you heat it up. Want to try a bowl?”

Gu Beiyue startled before his eyes rested on Qin Min’s face. She withdrew her smile, realizing she’d said too much. Strange. I can always keep my calm before others, but not with Gu Beiyue. She figured she was too sleepy and slightly vowed to be more careful in the future. After all, they were living side by side now, so it wouldn’t do to disturb his peace. 

Gu Beiyue only felt that Qin Min was acting a little different than usual, but he couldn’t tell what. After Qin Min gave her thanks for the soup, she bent down to drink it without daring any peep at him. 

“Eldest Miss Qin, I’ll be hurrying back to Medical City tomorrow,” Gu Beiyue said. “I went to see a patient just then with a dangerously complex ailment. I’m planning to escort the patient to Vice-Director Shen’s care.”

Qin Min looked up with a serious nod. Gu Beiyue had only asked for one and a half month of break, but it was a long way from Ningzhou to Medical City. He couldn’t travel quickly with a patient in tow, so it’d probably take him longer than that to head there and back. 

“Be careful on the way. If time is tight, no need to come back. Just go straight to Yunning,” Qin Min said earnestly. “I’ll take care of matters related to the child, don’t worry.”

They had headed south this time just for the baby’s sake. Gu Beiyue had fostered a male infant who was almost a year old now. It didn’t match the time of her pregnancy at all. Gu Beiyue’s plan was to have her nurse her pregnancy here, then catch a contagious illness that would give her the excuse to recover down south. When the child grew older--maybe three to four years old--she could bring him back to Yunning. After all, it was harder to tell a child’s true age around that time.

Gu Beiyue also vowed to find her poisoner in the Qin Clan within those years. 

Qin Min was all too happy to play along, since that meant she could have a few more years of freedom. Her return to Yunning would also mean no longer pretending to be pregnant or crippled. She could even work in the medical academy and live a life without constraints. 

“You’ll be working hard,” Gu Beiyue said.

“As I should,” Qin Min smiled.

Gu Beiyue didn’t linger for long. He was readying to leave before Qin Min even finished her soup. 

“It’s cold outside, so no need to send me off. Rest early,” Gu Beiyue remarked.

Qin Ming was quite indifferent herself, but the sight of Gu Beiyue’s lone form stirred something within her. She chased after him and said, “Let me send you off anyways, it’s New Year’s Eve after all.”

Gu Beiyue didn’t refuse. The two of them walked shoulder-by-shoulder until they reached the gates.

“Eldest Miss Qin, please stay your steps,” Gu Beiyue intoned.

“Academy Head, may you have a peaceful journey,” Qin Min said sincerely.

Gu Beiyue was already walking off when he stopped and turned back. “Eldest Miss Qin, I did bring the fireworks. They’re on the tea table in your room.”

Qin Min waved and politely replied, “Many thanks!” It wasn’t until Gu Beiyue’s figure vanished into the night that she dropped her hand and muttered, “He didn’t even eat but still paid for his meal?”

When she returned to the rooms, she spotted the fireworks as promised. After staring for a while, she suddenly began to panic. “Shaoyao[1] quick, bring some matches. Let’s go set off fireworks!”

She was so rushed she turned to run, but accidentally tripped over the doorstep and crashed into the floor. The servant girl Shaoyao quickly ran to help her up. “Young Miss, what happened? Did you trip? Does it hurt?”

Qin Min crawled to her feet and ignored the pain to grab the matches out of Shaoyao’s hands. She dashed into the courtyard with fireworks in tow and started lighting them up. As they crackled and popped, the skies were filled with dazzling lights in bloom. 

Qin Min stood beneath the spectacle with her head raised in a smile. “So beautiful…”

--

Gu Beiyue hadn’t gone far when he looked back to see the bright and luminous sights above him. He stopped to watched until they fizzled out before turning to leave again. After this parting, how long would it be before they met again? 

Long after Gu Beiyue left, Qin Min was left standing in the courtyard and staring at the ashes on the ground. Shaoyao inspected her from head to toe, tugging her here and there. “Young Miss, where were you hurt just now? Does it hurt?”

“Young Miss, you just recovered your legs, so you can’t fall down!”

“Young Miss, why were you in such a rush anyways?”

Qin Min let herself be asked this and that before she finally looked over and mumbled, “Shaoyao, I...can’t bear to see him go.”

Shaoyao gave a start. “Young Miss, this servant is reluctant to see sir off as well! It’s even the New Year’s...he really is a good person.”

Qin Min stared at Shaoyao for a long time before she laughed helplessly. Instead of saying any more, she returned to her rooms. 

Shaoyao, this foolish girl!

With a New Year’s Eve dinner and fireworks, Gu Beiyue and Qin Min could technically count as having passed the New Year’s officially. However, there was one man who had nothing but wine to keep him company.

The long missing Ning Cheng.

On the grasslands of Wintercrow Country’s northern borders, a hearty bonfire soared to the skies. The men of Wintercrow Country feared no cold as they sat by the flames in their fox fur vests, eating meat and drinking alcohol. Ning Cheng was mixed amongst them, dressed in a similar style. He seemed no different from his companions, except for the fact that he only drank, not ate. Unless one looked closely, it would be impossible to recognize him as the head of the Di Clan and an ex-great general of the north. 

While the men were celebrating over wine, female slaves streamed out of the surrounding tents. One of them moved to sit by Ning Cheng’s side…

 



1. Shaoyao (芍药) - the formal name for “peony.”

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

Ruyi's Thoughts

First off: I wrote a message to all my readers, old and new, in a post here!

Secondly: I know I have a lot of typos in PGC chapters, but my editor Meg (currently taking over for my talented ex-editor Khuja) has actually been going back and fixing all the old chapters of PGC. When I heard that some readers already reread the series 3~4 times, I decided I really need to go back and implement those changes.

So I'll be running a little update status for you all at the end of every chapter! For example, today I've updated Chapters 586-600 with newly edited versions. That should help making the reading experience more polished overall.

And I'm pretty sure I'm missing a few hundred edited chapters before c586 (including a whole story arc whose titles don't show up in the table of contents), but we gotta start somewhere, right? I'll track those down in time too~

Cheers and happy reading, all!