Qin Yining dimpled at Pang Xiao’s teasing. She responded playfully, “That won’t do. If I fail to do make your hair look nice and proper, people at best will simply laugh it off and say the prince is a rugged hero who doesn’t concern himself with trifles. But I’ll be a laughing stock if my eyebrows are squiggly drawn on, and then I’d be a source of embarrassment for you.”
“A source of embarrassment? If I had my way, I’d hide you away and keep you out of sight.” Pang Xiao reached over with his large hand, circling her tiny waist and caressing it. He murmured by her ears, “You should’ve seen the way people gawked at you yesterday. They were completely stupefied. I wanted to gouge their eyeballs out!”
Qin Yining exhorted with mock annoyance. “Look at you. One minute you want to lock me up, and the next you threaten to gouge people’s eyes out. You scare even me.” She feigned a look of fright.
Tickled by how adorable his wife was, Pang Xiao laughed heartily. “Oh my dear, how do you manage to be so cute?”
He planted a noisy smack on her cheek, then picked up a brow pencil to draw in her eyebrows. Used to wielding swords and slay enemies, his newest weapon of choice was now a skinny brow pencil. Meticulously silhouetting and shading in her eyebrows, the result was unexpectedly dainty with just the right consistency.
Qin Yining checked her face in the mirror and smiled. “Not too shabby at all. You could make a career out of painting eyebrows if you stop being a prince.”
She turned back from the mirror and stroked Pang Xiao’s chin. “Such a handsome face you’ve been blessed with. If you really took up drawing eyebrows, I bet that maidens and young brides would beat down your door!”
“Hey now, you wicked vixen! Joking at my expense now, aren’t you?” Pang Xiao chortled while reaching over to tickle his wife.
Qin Yining’s tiny waist was a taboo zone of nerves. She started giggling as soon as her husband’s large hands reached her. She tittered while trying to dodge. “Stop it! I’ve just gotten my hair done!”
Her pleas didn’t stop Pang Xiao. He swept his wife up and carried her to the formal bed, tickling her with both of his hands and blowing warm air into the nape of her neck and earlobes.
Qin Yining laughed so hard that she ran out of breath. She was no match for her adroit husband, and was unable to push him off nor escape his advances. She could only breathlessly beg for mercy.
Mi-mama, née Ma’s most capable confidante, stopped by the Park of Resplendent Radiance and saw the maids chatting in the courtyard. A woman’s laughter travelled faintly from the main house.
Mi-mama chuckled at the peals of laughter.
“You’ve arrived, mama.” Jiyun was the first to curtsy to the granny servant.
Xianyun, Bingtang, and Qiulu also followed suit.
“I’m here to see if the prince and the princess consort has risen.” Mi-mama smiled in greeting.
“In response to the mama, the prince and the princess consort rose long ago. They’ve just gotten dressed. They’re waiting to pay their respects to the grand-lord, grand-madame and old madame.” Bingtang was well-versed in the customs of aristocratic houses and naturally responded in a manner that was favorable for her mistress.
Mi-mama smiled amiably. “Very well then, I’ll wait right here.”
“This servant will inform the prince and the princess consort of your arrival.” The quick-witted Bingtang curtsied readily and turned back to the main house.
Pang Xiao heard Mi-mama’s voice as soon as she arrived. The approaching footsteps also forced him to stop the teasing. He helped Qin Yining to her feet, righting a hairpin that was just about to slip from her hair.
The fit of laughter left Qin Yining’s eyes glistening with tears, her face flushing radiantly. She glared hard at Pang Xiao after the giggles passed, then picked up a comb to put his hair up.
Bingtang stood by the door. “Your Highnesses, Mi-mama is here.”
Pang Xiao knew full-well that Mi-mama had come to retrieve the maidenhood handkerchief. “Have her come in.”
Qin Yining worked nimbly to comb Pang Xiao’s hair and style it into a topknot. She was midway when Mi-mama stepped over the door. The princess consort smiled and nodded in greeting, “Greetings to the mama.”
“Ai, Your Highness need not stand on ceremony. This servant greets the princess consort.” Mi-mama watched as Qin Yining personally combed Pang Xiao’s hair and recalled the laughter she’d just heard. Her heart swelled with joy.
Qin Yining smiled congenially. “You’ve been at grandmother’s side for a very long time. Of course a greeting is only fitting.” 
After exchanging a few pleasantries, Mi-mama strolled about the room. She spotted a delicate wooden case when circling past the bed and stuffed it into her sleeve.
Qin Yining took everything in, but it was still a beat before realization finally dawned. Her face flamed right away. She lowered her chin, feeling flustered.
Mi-mama smiled and took her leave. “This servant will now return to Pinecrane Hall.”
Pang Xiao smiled easily as well. “Be safe, Mi-mama.”
Watching Mi-mama walk off with the wooden box, Qin Yining cleared her throat with a cough. “We should hurry as well, lest we should keep mother, grandfather and grandmother waiting.”
“As you wish.” Pang Xiao rose to his feet and neatened his robe. “We can just continue where we left off after coming back.”
Qin Yining pinched his arm wordlessly, and asked the maids to bring the three pairs of shoes she’d prepared beforehand. Together with Pang Xiao, she left the Park of Resplendent Radiance and headed for Pinecrane Hall.
The couple’s gait was leisurely, giving Pang Xiao time to properly introduce the features and decorations throughout the manor. “You stayed here for a short before, but weren’t free to walk about. I made use of the wedding to conduct some renovations and removed some unsavory characters in the household. It’s relatively safer now, and you can live here with more peace of mind.”
Qin Yining nodded cheerfully. “Did His Majesty have too much to drink yesterday? When did he leave?”
“His Majesty had already taken off by the time I went out to make my toasts. My people say that the emperor hurried off after receiving a tip. There was no mistaking the grim look on his face.”
Qin Yining began to worry. “Hopefully it has nothing to do with you. I was hoping for a bit more peace and quiet.”
Pang Xiao laughed. “Relax. It doesn’t matter whether it has to do with me or not. Your man is no pushover. I’ll roll with the punches and find ways to deal with whatever comes. You just relax at home and enjoy life. The trials and tribulations of your past are no more.”
That declaration of “your man” left Qin Yining feeling both bashful and warm all over.
She’d always been the one to look after others. This was the first time in her life to have a shoulder to lean on. Her husband was now her rock.
“In that case, you can’t disapprove if I just laze around all day, hmm?”
“How could I disapprove? In fact, I’ll have rewards for you should you keep your word and laze around all day. How does that sound?”
The couple made their way to Pinecrane Hall amidst happy chatter.
Baitao rushed back into the house to notify her masters as soon as the couple entered the yard. The newlyweds and their entourage of servants entered the main house, rounded the newly installed, large divider of magpies alighting on plum blossoms to arrive at the inner room.
Yao Chenggu, née Ma, and née Yao were all present, their faces radiating joy.
Mi-mama had Tsuitao and Baitao lay out brocade cushions.
Pang Xiao and Qin Yining knelt down side by side to deliver grand gestures of greeting.
“Good, wonderful! Hurry and get up now, lass Yi, get on up.” An overjoyed Née Ma grinned from ear to ear, prodding Qin Yining to get up.
A merry Qin Yining approached Yao Chenggu and née Ma to kneel at their feet. She took two cups of tea from the tray in Jiyun’s hands and presented the tea to the elderly couple.
“This granddaughter-in-law greets my elders.”
“Aiya, very well. Hurry and rise!”
“Indeed, do get up. Be careful that you don’t hurt your knees!”
The elderly couple placed a thick red envelope in the tray.
The new princess consort rose and presented two pairs of shoes she’d embroidered. “This granddaughter-in-law is clumsy in her skills. I pray that you won’t find them too unsightly.”
“Nothing at all! It’s the thought that counts!” Née Ma picked up the embroidered shoes for a closer look. The fabric was of a high quality, the embroidery neat and solid. Eyeing the girl in front of her, née Ma grew more content by the second.
Happy 2020!!! May the new decade be everything that we all wish it to be!
I'm still behind on advance chapters, please don't hate me UwU. I am working full speed ahead!