Chapter 574.2: Warm and Cold

“Grandpa, mom.” Qin Yining disengaged herself from née Ma’s embrace to greet Yao Chenggu and née Yao.

“Good, good.” Yao Chenggu nodded with a smile. “It’s good to see you come back safe and sound. Nothing else matters.”

“Indeed,” née Yao smiled as well. “Dafu has been a dead man walking these days. Everything is right again now that you’ve returned. As your grandparents say, nothing else matters. To live at peace is one of the greatest fortunes of life. A perfectly fine girl came to our household—how would we ever explain ourselves to the in-laws if anything happened to you?”

Qin Yining inclined her head with an amiable smile, but the scales of her heart weighed up their performance.

Née Ma truly cared about her and welcomed her to the family; there wasn’t the slightest hint of suspicion there.

Yao Chenggu liked to keep his cards close to his chest; she could tell from his words that doubts brewed. He wasn’t the sort to openly express anything, so all he said was, “nothing else matters”.

Her mother-in-law, née Yao, was highly skeptical of her purity after the trip to Tatar. The lady wasn’t really asking after her daughter-in-law’s health. Née Yao was obliquely probing her condition—there wasn’t anything wrong with the exchange, but stringing all of the words together levied surreptitious pressure and tension on her mind.

Being of good character and having learned from the palace mamas in Great Yan, no one saw through Qin Yining’s true state of mind given her flawless manners.

No one except Pang Xiao.

Displeasure grew in his heart when he heard his mother’s words. “Don’t worry, mom, my father-in-law is a reasonable and empathetic person. He didn’t say anything when I lost Yining or when I was almost caught up in disaster a while back, it was father-in-law and second uncle who gave up their positions and careers to save me. If he blamed me for Yining’s matter, why would he help me? The Qins are kindhearted people, they wouldn’t do that.”

Née Yao’s expression shifted with worry when she heard mention of “disaster”. 

“What happened a while back? Was it because you left the capital without permission?” She frowned and cast a sidelong glance at Qin Yining, her gaze full of resentment.

The princess consort was both angry, aggrieved, and resigned at the look. Her bottled up emotions grew stronger and she had to cover her mouth as she dry heaved.

“Aiya, what’s wrong?” Née Ma jumped with shock and took Qin Yining’s hand, finding it covered with cold sweat. She anxiously called out, “Little lass Bingtang, come come, take a look at your miss.”

“Understood!” Standing in the back, Bingtang, Jiyun, Xianyun, and Xiaozhou came flying over.

They’d stayed with the grand-madame and old madame during this time. During this period, Jiyun and Xianyun taught Bingtang and Xiaozhou the numerous customs and rules of living in a prince’s household. They weren’t at liberty to approach when their masters and mistresses greeted each other. Qin Yining’s line of vision had also been obstructed earlier, hence she’d missed taking notice of the small group far in the distance.

Now that she took a good look at them, she was delighted as she repressed the urge to vomit. Though Pang Xiao had said that they were alive, it wasn’t until she saw them with her own eyes that she was fully at ease.

“Your Highness, how are you?” Jiyun took Qin Yining’s hand. Née Ma stepped out of the way to make space for Bingtang.

Bingtang exclaimed with surprise when she took her mistress’ pulse and broke out in a smile. “The princess consort is three months pregnant and you’ve already started using medicines to nurture the child!”

Qin Yining nodded. Though her brows were knit together and lips tightly compressed, joy filled her eyes. Bingtang, Jiyun, Xianyun, and Xiaozhou giggled with delight. The merriment of girls was pleasing to the ear and the four quickly offered profuse congratulations, livening the atmosphere.

Née Ma’s eyes widened with astonishment and she applauded with hearty laughter, deepening the wrinkles on her face.

“Aiya, this is so good, so wonderful! Ai, why didn't you say so earlier, lass? You’re newly pregnant and your health is so poor, why aren’t you lying down in bed already?”

“I’m fine, grandma.” Qin Yining smiled, very grateful for née Ma’s care. Compared to née Yao’s suspicion and Yao Chenggu’s detachment, her genuine sincerity was even more moving.

Née Yao frowned at Qin Yining, then turned to look at her son. No happiness was forthcoming in her eyes, just a further furrowing of her brows.

Pang Xiao knew full well what his mother was thinking of. 

“It took five months to make our way back to the capital as the journey took us through desert and harsh cold. Yining was captured by the female khan of Tatar to threaten Great Zhou with, they even tortured her! She’s never been in the best of health and this is truly my fault, I shouldn’t have let her fall pregnant at this time. Ai, it’s all my fault, we should go back and rest now.” He walked over to support Qin Yining and while he didn’t hug her, he squeezed her hand with his.

The warmth traveled all the way to her heart, touching her greatly.

Née Ma didn’t mind any of this; her only concern was that her granddaughter-in-law was home safe. It was even better now that she was with child! Thus she nodded rapidly, equal parts happy and worried.

“Right right right, Dafu, hurry up and take your wife back to rest. Use everything to help her get stronger, whether it’s ginseng or cinnamon. We have a lot of silver, so don’t be miserly!”

“Don’t worry,” Pang Xiao nodded with a smile. “I will definitely not be miserly, if only for your first born grandchild.”

“Now, what kind of nonsense is that? It’s also for dear Yining to grow stronger. Let me tell you, it’s the hardest thing in a woman’s life to give birth to a child. She’s suffered so much by your side, so don’t you shortchange her on anything you should do.” Née Ma rolled her eyes at Pang Xiao and glared warningly at Yao Chenggu and née Yao again.

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