Madam Zhou had a beautiful thought but reality was cruel.
She hadn’t thought about how to let Qi Zheng meet Xin’er when Pan Family’s two aunts had arrived.
The first and third aunt had come. Third uncle had other urgent matters to attend to so he had already left the capital two days ago.
Shen Ziqiao was the happiest seeing the two aunts coming. In the Pan Madam, these two aunts had treated her as her daughter. She felt really blessed that they were able to watch her get married.
“First aunt, third aunt, I’m glad you guys can come.” Shen Ziqao held onto her first and aunts’ arms, acting cute, “It’d be even better if grandmother could come too.”
“Old Madam did want to come but your uncles disapproved. She hasn’t been feeling well lately so she needs to rest.” The first aunt laughed and looked at Shen Ziqiao tenderly. “Old Madam said that you’re a lucky child. There are barely any people who can obtain the emperor’s bestowed marriage. You have to live good days.”
Shen Ziqiao’s eyes teared up a bit and nodded firmly. Grandmother always wanted her to marry and stay in Minyue. That way, the Pan Family could take care of her and not worry that she’d follow in the Pan Madam’s footsteps.
“Okay, okay. Let’s go and pay respects to the Old Madam first and then talk to Jiao Jiao.” Third aunt smiled. Although they had a lot to say to Jiao Jiao, now wasn’t the time.
Lady Meng who was leading turned and smiled. “I thought that you two would come in a few days. Who knew that you came to the capital today. I had someone notify the eldest master and Lord. They should be coming back too.”
First aunt exclaimed, “You don’t have to be so troublesome. If Kai’er and the Lord have something to attend to, then they can go ahead.”
Shen Ziqiao held onto the first aunt’s hand and exclaimed, “You and third aunt are noble guests here. No matter how busy elder brother is, he needs to come and pay respects. Father already requested to retire from his position as a general. Who knows which general he’s playing chess with?”
The group of people escorted the two aunts to De’an Courtyard. Old Madam Shen heard the news and already changed her clothes to wait in the lounge. Lately, Old Madam Shen had spent the majority of her time in bed and she was rarely awake anymore. Instead, she spent more time sleeping.
Madam Zhou stood by Old Madam’s side and helped her drink the medicine.
There was a strong sense of bitter medicine in the room.
Shen Ziqiao faintly glanced at Madam Zhou. She never had a good impression of her second aunt. They hadn’t fought before. Although Madam Zhou disliked her and liked taking advantage of her, she hadn’t done anything that Shen Ziqiao couldn’t tolerate.
But Shen Ziqiao was really unhappy today.
As Shen Family’s female head of the household, she knew that Pan Madam’s two aunts would be coming to the capital in a few days. Not only didn’t she have someone clean up guest rooms for them, she even used the excuse that she needed to take care of the Old Madam. Even if Shen Ziqiao wanted to find some things for her to do, she kept using all sorts of excuses.
Now, she didn’t even show up as if trying to give the Pan Family a cold shoulder.
Madam Zhou thought that she had stolen Qi Zheng because the emperor had bestowed marriage to her?
It was unclear whether Old Madam Shen was exhausted or not but she didn’t say anything much to Pan Family’s two aunts. She thought back to when Old Lord Pan had left the capital. Old Madam had said quite hurting and mocking words.
Madam Zhou originally thought that Old Madam would definitely give attitude to the Pan Family. Because of Pan Madam, Old Madam Shen disliked everyone in the Pan Family. Yet, she had insisted on talking to the Pan Family’s aunts for a bit before letting Shen Ziqiao take them to rest.
“Make sure to rest well. Jiao Jiao’s marriage is going to be in less than a month. There’s still a lot of things that we need you guys to arrange.” Madam Zhou couldn’t control her sour tone. Thinking of how this was supposed to be her daughter’s marriage but then how it got snatched, she felt bitter and unhappy inside.
First aunt smiled. “Naturally, Jiao Jiao’s mother had passed away early on. As her aunt, obviously treat her as our daughter. Who will consider her if not us?”
Who would think about her second aunt? She only took advantage of her niece and never made sure that her niece would live well.
Madam Zhou forced a smile on. She said to Shen Ziqiao, “Our family can’t compare to the Duke An Residence. They’re an aristocratic family that values manners and rules. You have to behave and learn the rules.”
Shen Ziqiao smiled sweetly. “Second aunt, don’t worry. I won’t lose face for the Shen Family.”
Before Madam Zhou could say any sour words, Shen Ziqiao made her salutations and left, taking her two aunts and leaving De’an Courtyard to go to her Qiao Xin Courtyard.
“What’s with your second aunt? Even if we’re here to help you arrange everything, she can’t just be a bystander. She’s still your second aunt. Her words sounded off to me too. Jiao Jiao, did something happen?” Third aunt held onto Shen Ziqiao’s hands and asked, afraid that Shen Ziqiao had been wronged and didn’t dare to say.
Shen Ziqiao told them about how Madam Zhou wanted to marry Shen Zixin to Qi Zheng and then how coincidentally the emperor had bestowed a marriage to them. “...I thought that it was certain we’d get married. But who knew that the emperor would personally bestow marriage. I thought that my father had begged the emperor to bestow marriage to me with his great meritorious service. I was going to pity whoever Qi Zheng married.”
First aunt spat. “Don’t say that you and Qi Zheng were already in love with each other. But so what if he had done a great meritorious service? If she’s jealous, have her man also get a great meritorious service and then beg the emperor to bestow marriage. Her daughter’s a treasure but other people’s daughters are worthless?”
“That’s right. Jiao Jiao, ignore them.” Third aunt exclaimed. “Once she knows how good Qi Zheng treats you in the future, she can wait to be slapped.”
Shen Ziqiao smiled. “I don’t care about what she thinks.”
Not long later, Shen Xiao and Shen Zikai had returned. They were meeting with the two aunts in Qiao Xin Courtyard.
First and third aunt hadn’t seen Shen Zikai in decades. Seeing how handsome he is now, they couldn’t help but lament with feelings. If Pan Madam was still alive who knew how gratified she’d be seeing this pair of lovable children.
Shen Xiao and the first aunt started talking about Shen Ziqiao’s marriage. Because they were tight on time, they needed to carefully manage a lot of trivial things. They already needed a few times to organize Shen Ziqiao’s dowry.
“Lord, don’t worry. Leave everything to us.” First aunt smiled. They’s make sure to organize everything.
Shen Ziqiao wasn’t displeased with Shen Xiao anymore. She was really touched. Shen Xiao did in fact love his daughter really much.
The next day, the first aunt brought Lady Meng to calculate the dowries left by Pan Madam again. The third aunt brought Nanny Lin to prepare for the return gift when the Qi Family would come the day after.
Madam Zhou had kept an eye on this. It was unclear what she was busy with the entire time.
It was also unclear whether the empress didn’t know that Shen Ziqiao had a mother or not but she also sent two female officials over to help.
They were Ning Xi and Xiao Yu.
They used to be the trusted aides by the princess consort’s side. Ever since she passed away, they went to live in the empress’ palace with the little imperial grandson.
Ning Xi was straightforward. With her assistance, the two aunts were able to relax much more.
Ning Xi was here to teach Shen Ziqiao how to dress herself up.
“...The empress said that she knew you don’t really use makeup. After all, people depended on clothes to look good. Although you’re beautiful, you can’t compete against time. Look. The empress wanted me to bring you some rouge. The concubines in the palace use these types.” Xiao Yu exclaimed and gave Shen Ziqiao a small bag.
Shen Ziqiao hurriedly said, “Thank the empress for the rewards for me.”
Xiao Yu smiled at her. “Jiao Jiao, I knew you’re a lucky person. The princess consort had said that you have a pure and kind heart. Heaven won’t treat you unfairly.”
“But heaven did to the princess consort.” Shen Ziqiao sighed. The princess consort was a really good person.
“This is all fate…” A pained glint flickered in Xiao Yu’s eyes. However, she quickly smiled. “The empress also said for us to not talk about sad things. She wants me to talk about happy things. The crown prince is going to get married soon too.”
Shen Ziqiao’s heart shivered. She hurriedly asked, “Which lady is that fortunate?”
“It hasn’t been confirmed but they’ve decided on a person.” Xiao Yu said, faint sorrow in her eyes. “I wonder what Young Miss Beitang is like.”
“Beitang Zhenjing?” Shen Ziqiao’s eyes brightened. Could it be that Beitang Zhenjing is still going to marry the crown prince? Without Sheng Peiyin fighting with her, she should be able to live a warm life with the crown prince.
She recalled that Beitang Zhenjing really liked the little imperial grandson.
“I think so.” Xiao Yu exclaimed. The imperial decree should be announced soon.
Shen Ziqiao nodded softly. She recalled the scene that she had seen in the forest back then. Hopefully Sheng Peiyin wouldn’t come out to hurt other people.
The next day, Qi Zheng had come to Shen Family with gifts on time.
Qi Family had prepared gold and silvers, jewelry, silk fabrics, and clothes. They also prepared wine and fruits, each eighty-eight in amount. They also brought ceremonial weaponry to the Shen Family, causing some neighbors to come and watch the show. Lady Meng had maids give out double happiness cakes to the neighbors.
They were going to get married in eight days. Shen Ziqiao suddenly became nervous.
She hadn’t seen Qi Zheng in a while. She didn’t know what he was doing now. Was he starting to become nervous like her?
Recalling his handsome and confident face, Shen Ziqiao sighed. How could he possibly be nervous?...
Shen Family had been busy for the past few days. Probably only Old Madam Shen and Madam Zhou were the most idle.
Madam Zhou thought that Shen Ziqiao’s marriage would become a chaos without her help. Who knew that the two aunts had done a great job. The empress even sent people over to help. This caused Madam Zhou to be driven mad.
Her daughter should’ve been the one to receive this treatment.
Contrasting Madam Zhou’s attitude, after Shen Zixin found out that the emperor had bestowed marriage, she had stayed quietly in her room. She was reading and practicing calligraphy, embroidering, and playing the zither as if she was disconnected from the world.
She wasn’t jealous of others. She thought she was the best.