Qin Yining was the epitome of astonishment.
She herself harbored some suspicions of Ji Zeyu. She didn’t know what the real relationship between Pang Xiao and Ji Zeyu was. However, it was impossible for one’s hands to remain lily-white at court. Other than that, she wasn’t certain of how much true brotherhood suffused the two brother’s mutual usage and probing.
Coldly aloof to begin with, Ji Zeyu wasn’t the sort to easily express his thoughts. All had to be speculated upon. The previous attack upon the Great Yan convoy also served to prejudice Qin Yining against the prince consort, such as deeming him a violent, ruthless character.
Therefore, the fact that he was here in person, on the doorstep of her home, to ask these questions before the wedding staggered her greatly.
Does he mean this, or is this another test?
Qin Yining’s beautiful eyes met Ji Zeyu’s equally stunning, naturally flirtatious ones.
She read only trustworthiness in them, not the slightest sliver of guile.
In that instant, she was almost certain that there was no grander scheme or trick up the prince consort’s sleeve. There was just deep concern and care.
Perhaps this is what’s meant by friendship between men.
If Bingtang or those by her side were to marry, she too would carefully select their matches. She’d be deathly afraid of them meeting someone cruel and unscrupulous, or that they’d lead unhappy lives.
Ji Zeyu was probably worried that Pang Xiao wouldn’t find happiness after the wedding?
So it looks like even though the prince consort’s used Pang Xiao before, their ties of brotherhood are real.
For those who fostered goodwill toward Pang Xiao, so too did she nurture goodwill toward them.
With a smile, she withdrew her ill will and circumspection. “Men and women are different. A man can have multiple wives and concubines, but a woman is faithful to her husband unto death. No matter how many old personal scores there are between us, my life was tied to His Highness the day the emperor bestowed this marriage.
“I live if he lives. I will not cling to this world if anything happens to him. This doesn’t only have to do with the strands that previously connected our two families, but because we’re one family now, and can only be one family.
“I am good to him and genuinely support each other throughout our days because I look to our future. Not just for him, and not just for me. My future is tied to his. Only when he is steady am I also steady. His future is my future.
“Prince Consort Ji is a smart man. I trust you understand what I mean.”
Qin Yining couldn’t directly tell Ji Zeyu just how much the two of them loved each other, and that the imperial edict played right into their hands.
Even if she trusted Ji Zeyu, she didn’t know if the emperor’s spies was eavesdropping on this conversation.
But her meaning was very clear.
She and Pang Xiao shared the same future, so how would she hurt him?
Ji Zeyu stared at Qin Yining; a faint smile floated onto the surface of a face that was normally aloof to outsiders. The smile was so indistinct that it was just the tiniest upturn of the lips.
In fact, if one didn’t take a close look, the smile would’ve been entirely overlooked.
“I understand. I hope you remember your words from today.”
In Qin Yining’s ears, this was both a wish and a threat. However, she wasn’t the slightest bit irritated. She knew that the prince consort was saying this out of concern for Pang Xiao.
She nodded heavily. “I will.”
Whitecloud sidled over as the two talked, nuzzling Qin Yining’s cheek with its head.
Rather taken aback, Ji Zeyu cast a complicated glance at the horse and smoothed down its mane.
“This was his gift to you. It should be returned to you.” He made to give the reins to the girl.
And yet, Qin Yining took a step back with a smile and a shake of her head. “It’s a good horse, and horses should have a large expanse of land to run freely over. Though I like it, I can only keep it in a paddock if it stays with me. Even if I give it the best food and care, it still won’t be happy. In fact, I’ll wear away at its nature. It’s better that it stays with you.”
Ji Zeyu’s hands slowly tightened on the reins as his heart jumped violently, many complex emotions flashing through his mind.
But when he met the girl’s smiling face again, he let them all go.
“Perhaps Pang Zhixi is right, you’re a good girl.”
Having mentally prepared herself for a cold shoulder, the Qin fourth miss hadn’t anticipated at all that this would be his rejoinder. She was very satisfied to gain the approval of Pang Xiao’s good friend.
“Many thanks, you’re also a good brother.”
The prince consort blinked, then shook his head. “A good brother?” He murmured to himself, then jumped adroitly onto Whitecloud. He shook the reins. “I’ll be off now.” His words scarcely echoed in the air before he prodded the horse onwards.
Qin Yining looked at his back, smiling a moment later and turning back home.
Wedding preparations flew fast and furious. Due to the short deadline, both sides were in a bit of a frenzy. Thankfully, they were neither short on helping hands nor friends who wanted to curry favor by lending aid.
The tenth day of the fifth month arrived in a blink of an eye. Everything was in accordance.
Pang Xiao roused the Elite Tigers early this morning. The eighteen handpicked soldiers were the youngest, most handsome, and most stunning of the lot.
In actuality, the eighteen young men were quite proud of themselves that they’d been picked for their looks. Their other brothers in the Elite Tigers were heavily jealous that the group could personally accompany the prince to deliver the betrothal gifts.
“Dafu ah, don’t you be in a hurry. Be polite to your in-laws, you hear me? Put away that fearsome aura of yours. You’ve been in the battlefield and killed enemies, there’s blood on your hands. A violent air hangs about you, so don’t you let the in-laws think you’re here to carry off the bride, you hear?” Née Ma nattered about as she straightened the collar of Pang Xiao’s dusky-purple, python robe.
“I know, grandmother. Don’t worry.”
“Don’t worry? How can I not worry? Look at what you’ve rustled up outside. Who knows if you’re going to deliver betrothal gifts or pick a fight!” Irritation washed over née Ma when she flung a glance outside the open, intricately carved window and glimpsed the eighteen uniformed men standing at stern attention.
“Do this well, I tell you! You’re not allowed to mess it up! If you dare mess it up, I’ll beat you to death with my shoe when you come back!”
“Mom, enough now. Let Dafu go already. Don’t make him miss the auspicious hour. Didn’t Dafu say he invited Prince Consort Ji? He should be here by now.” Née Yao took her mother’s arm to rescue her son.
Pang Xiao heaved a silent sigh of relief and tugged on his narrow sleeves. Laughing heartily, he turned and left with large strides.
Smoking his tobacco pipe off to the side, Yao Chenggu walked over to the window and watched his grandson march off with a parade of eighteen prim and proper young gentlemen. He shook his head with a chuckle. “This kid.”
After leaving the inner residence, Pang Xiao was greeted with 210 litters of betrothal gifts in the main yard. Festooned with bright red, silk flowers, the servants transporting the litters were also ready.
Ji Zeyu himself stood solemnly at the head of his manor’s soldiers, clad in a pale-gray robe with narrow sleeves.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Awww Ji bro AGAIN. And gosh, Pang Xiao is adorable in how he's going about this.