Chapter 574.2: Warm and Cold

“Grandpa, mom.” Qin Yining turned to greet Yao Chenggu and née Yao.

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

“Indeed,” née Yao smiled as well. “Dafu’s been a dead man walking these days and everything is fine now that you’ve come back. As your grandparents say, nothing else matters. To be at peace is one of the great 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 had already 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 and 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 and wasn’t really asking after her good health. Née Yao was obliquely probing her—there was nothing wrong with any part of the exchange, but stringing all of the words together levied pressure and tension on her mind.

Being of good character and having learned from the palace mamas in Great Yan, no one saw through to 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 and when I was almost caught up in disaster a while back, it was father-in-law and second uncle who gave up their positions 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? Was it because you left the capital without orders?” 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 happening?” Née Ma jumped with shock and took Qin Yining’s hand, finding it covered with cold sweat. She asked anxiously, “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 outside with the grand-madame and old madame during this period of time; Jiyun and Xianyun had taught Bingtang and Xiaozhou the numerous customs of living in a prince’s household. They weren’t at liberty to approach when their masters and mistresses greeted each other and Qin Yining’s line of vision had been obstructed earlier, hence she’d missed out on taking notice of the small group far in the distance.

Now that she took a clear look at them, she was delighted as she repressed the urge to vomit. Though Pang Xiao had said before 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 her lips tightly compressed, joy filled her eyes. Bingtang, Jiyun, Xianyun, and Xiaozhou laughed with delight. The merriment of girls was pleasing to the ear and they quickly offered profuse congratulations, livening the atmosphere.

Née Ma widened her eyes with astonishment and then applauded with hearty laughter, deepening the wrinkles around her eyes.

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

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

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. 

“We spent five months on the way back as it was a journey through deserts 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 truly is 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 went over to support Qin Yining and though 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 to begin with; her only thought was that it was most important 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 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 firstborn 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 for a child. She’s suffered so much by your side, so don’t you short change 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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