Winter snows melted and the waters of spring ran warmly. Pang Xiao immediately felt the thunderclouds of negativity clear from his mind. An answering grin crept across his face, and he lightly pinched the tip of her nose.
“You little rascal!” he mouthed.
Qin Yining blinked rapidly and laughingly nuzzled his leg with her face.
The carriage slowed at this point, prompting her to fall back unconscious.
“Your Highness, we've reached the palace gates.”
Pang Xiao alighted with his wife in his arms and climbed back aboard his own carriage.
Huzi, Bingtang, and the others were shocked senseless when they saw their mistress come back in a prone position. Something must’ve happened in the palace, given that an imperial physician also came back with the married couple.
The carriage sped its way back to the manor, whereupon the prince ordered it be driven straight to the inner residence doors. He carried Qin Yining off the vehicle back to their Park of Resplendent Radiance.
Laid out on the bed, the imperial physician had full access for his diagnosis.
A thorough study revealed no major impediment other than anemia and a general weak constitution. The physician repeated his earlier conclusion and went off to write a prescription.
Taking advantage that only trusted people remaining in the house, Pang Xiao whispered to Huzi, “Go tell the grand-lord, madame, and old madame that everything’s fine. We’ll tell them everything when we see them in a bit.”
Huzi caught the ‘we’ usage and immediately understood. He ran off to deliver the message.
The grand-madame liked the princess consort so very much so! If she learned of his mistress taking ill in the palace, she’d barrel her way into the palace to demand an explanation!
Surnamed Liu, the imperial physician was dismissed after he wrote a prescription.
“Don’t worry, Physician Liu. I will need your services regularly to take my wife’s pulse. Your safety is assured.”
“Your Highness is too kind,” responded the physician gratefully. “This old man can’t express my thanks enough.”
“Not at all.” Pang Xiao had Xie Yue send Physician Liu out. Cottoning on to his master’s intentions, Xie Yue gifted the man with a large red envelope.
When the prince returned to the room, Qin Yining was already sitting up with a blanket wrapped around her. She craned her neck out the window and murmured, “Are all the outsiders gone now?”
The question bizarrely poked at a soft spot in Pang Xiao’s heart. He took a seat on the edge of the bed.
“They’re all gone. What was that just now? Do you know that I was scared out of my mind, wits, and soul when I saw you lying unconscious on the ground? If something happened to you because of my negligence, I’ll just head off into the next world with you. There’s no need for me to keep living.”
Qin Yining flung her arms around Pang Xiao’s neck and nuzzled his neck and shoulder. “Don’t worry, I was actually fine. I just couldn’t stand the Princess of Anyang’s wretched face any longer, not to mention that she kept jeering at me with sarcastic remarks.”
At this point, she wiggled out of the prince’s embrace and looked at him severely. “This is all because of you. The princess carries deep feelings for you and can no longer hold herself in after our wedding. She happened to think of this when she saw me and flew in a jealous rage. That’s why she gave me a hard time.”
She poked Pang Xiao’s cheeks and continued unrelentingly, “So tell me, isn’t this because of you?”
The man coughed. “I never encouraged her. I treated her as a younger sister when she was young, and now she’s just a younger sister who’s grown up. Even her older brother is distant with me now. What can I possibly have to do with her?”
“I know you don’t, but she said some very ugly things to me.” Qin Yining recounted what had happened earlier in the palace.
“So you pretended to faint because you wanted to take Anyang out of the picture?”
“You know me alright, Your Highness.” Qin Yining smiled. “Even if there’s nothing between you, she’s wife to Prince Consort Ji but still making eyes at my husband. Do you think I’d let her off that easily? Such a character really smears the royal family’s dignity!”
“You’re right.” Pang Xiao knew that he was in a weaker position and only dared engage his wife in conversation.
Buoyed by the positive feedback, Qin Yining propped herself up. "The only thing I hope for now is that Prince Consort Ji isn’t too saddened with what Li Helan’s done.”
Pang Xiao also felt saddened for his brother. Being close friends, he naturally knew Ji Lan’s personality.
His brother had ability in spades and looks handsome enough to eclipse the moon. He was also highly skilled in martial arts and the commander of the Dragon Riders. How was a person like this not worthy of Li Helan?
Such a wanton woman…
Every time she approached Ji Zeyu was a personal insult to the prince consort!
But what saddened Pang Xiao the most was that the emperor’s preference for Ji Zeyu was becoming ever more apparent. This further hobbled Ji Zeyu, to the point where he couldn’t say anything even when his oh-so-noble wife did something wrong.
It really was a tragedy.
Qin Yining hopped off the bed. “I’m going to make my greetings to mother and grandmother. I’m afraid the hubbub was too big just now and I might’ve scared them.”
“I’ve already sent people to pass on a message. Don’t worry.”
“But that’s just from someone else. It’s most filial if we go ourselves.”
Pang Xiao had to bow to his wife’s logic.
Huzi called in a message at this time. “Your Highness, a secret report’s arrived from the south. They say that the earth dragon turned over in the old capital of Great Yan.” 
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Happiest of New Years to everyone~~ May the Year of the Rat be all that you wish for!