If Madam Zhou wasn’t sure that Shen Zixin was going to marry Qi Zheng and that she’d definitely become the eldest daughter-in-law of the Qi Family as well as the future duchess, Shen Zixin might not have looked forward and been eager to this day, thinking that every woman in the entire capital would be jealous of her.
But just as she looked forward to this day, the decree announcing the bestowed marriage had shattered her hopes.
Not only didn’t people become jealous of her, they even mocked her in secret. Even the servants at home looked at her in ridicule. No matter how calm Shen Zixin acted on the surface, she still felt bitter inside. Glancing at Shen Ziqiao’s shy but happy smile, she felt even more jealous.
Did Qi Zheng really ask the empress to request a decree to marry Shen Ziqiao?
Shen Ziqiao thought back to what Luo Zhaohua said that day, not wanting to believe that was the truth.
Qi Zheng was a fool in the past so how did Shen Ziqiao know him? Plus, he had been in the northwest all these years. But Shen Ziqiao was in Minyue. The two were distances away from each other so how did they get in contact? Luo Zhaohua must’ve lied to her.
She didn’t believe that Qi Zheng would like Shen Ziqiao!
“Jiao Jiao, how does your Old Madam treat you?” After Shen Ziqiao came back, her first aunt pulled Shen Ziqiao to the other side after Madam Zhou left, wanting to look at her some more.
Shen Ziqiao knew that her aunt cared most about this problem. Nothing was important except the attitudes of the elders and her husband. One didn’t need to ask about Qi Zheng’s attitude. The two aunts could tell. But what about the elders in the family?
“Old Madam treats me really well and makes me feel just like I’m at home. She even passed Qi Family’s generational treasure to me…” Shen Ziqiao explained everything. She knew that first aunt was asking this on behalf of her grandmother as well. After she returned to Minyue, she’d tell of this to grandmother.
She hoped that grandfather and grandmother would be at ease. She was living a really good life.
Her first aunt listened in satisfaction. She didn’t ask how Xiao Gu treated Shen Ziqiao. Naturally, she wouldn’t treat her well. But what did this have to do with them? Old Madam was still in the Qi Family. As long as Old Madam Qi truly protected Jiao Jiao and helped her maintain her prestige in the family as well as keeping her position steady, so what if Xiao Gu didn’t like her?
By then, Jiao Jiao would have power to go against Xiao Gu. Even then, Jiao Jiao might have power in the household. So what can Xiao Gu do by then?
“How does Duke An treat Qi Zheng?” The first aunt asked in a low voice.
Why are they asking this? Shen Ziqiao was bit confused but still answered, “Duke An values Qi Zheng.”
First aunt smiled happily then. “Then Qi Zheng must be the future heir. That Xiao Gu was just relying on the fact that her son was stronger than Qi Zheng. Yet, she didn’t expect that not only wasn’t Qi Zheng a fool, but he also made a meritorious service. No matter whether Duke An was going to give the position to his eldest or legal son, Qi Zheng was still going to be the heir.
Shen Ziqiao understood her aunt and felt embarrassed right then. Qi Zheng wasn’t interested in the position as a heir at all.
“First aunt, you said so too. Qi Zheng made a meritorious service. It doesn’t matter whether he’s a heir or not.” Shen Ziqiao didn’t say that Qi Zheng didn’t want to be an heir. She just said so in a vague tone.
“Only then can we anger those people to death.” The first aunt exclaimed meaningfully.
Shen Ziqiao laughed dryly. She recalled having to talk to her first aunt about something really important. “First aunt, have you gone to visit my grandmother?”
First aunt’s expression changed a bit. “I went to visit her yesterday. She probably can’t hang on for long. That’s what I want to talk to you about too. Kai’er and Lady Zhu’s marriage needs to be settled soon.”
“Right, that’s what I’m most worried about. If this keeps on, who knows what might happen?” Shen Ziqiao was most worried that something uncontrollable might happen with Shen Zikai’s marriage. Then her hard work would go to waste. “There’s not a single elder in the family that can speak for my elder brother. After all, father is a man. Second aunt...I don’t expect her. First aunt, you might have to step forth for my elder brother’s marriage.”
“I’ll talk to your third aunt about this and then your father. Zhu Family has been friends with our Pan Family for generations. I’ll have someone write a letter to Madam Zhu and ask.” First aunt said.
Shen Ziqiao calmed down.
However, despite the first aunt’s appearance, she needed to talk to her elder brother.
She returned inside the room with her first aunt. Shen Ziqiao made an excuse saying that she needed the bathroom so she had Hong Yu bring Shen Zikai who was talking to Qi Zheng in the study over.
Seeing Shen Ziqiao’s mysterious expression, Shen Zixin was curious and couldn’t help but follow along.
Not long later, Shen Zikai arrived. Seeing Shen Ziqiao sitting in the pavilion waiting for him, he smiled and exclaimed, “Is Qi Zheng not treating you well? Is that why you came here to secretly tell your elder brother?”
“Would I need to tattletale if he doesn’t treat me well?” Shen Ziqiao smiled. “I just have something to talk to elder brother about.”
What’s so mysterious? Shen Zikai sat down and said, “Go ahead.”
“Elder brother, I went to visit grandmother today. She probably...quickly get your marriage settled, otherwise we’d have to wait another three years.” Shen Ziqiao just told him about what she had discussed with her first aunt. “No matter what, you have to listen to me.”
Shen Zikai’s face flushed a bit, feeling embarrassed. He couldn’t help but mnutter, “When do younger sisters mind their elder brothers’ marriages?”
“Well, I am. Elder brother, Lady Zhu is a gentle and humble woman. You’d like her for sure.” Shen Ziqiao smiled.
“How do you know?” Shen Zikai stared suspiciously at her.
Naturally, she had someone make inquiries. She chuckled. “That’s what I think.”
Shen Ziqiao smiled. It’s been settled.
The siblings walked to the pavilion. Shen Ziqiao played with Shen Zikai’s arms as if she wasn’t married yet. She softly chuckled. “Elder brother, I heard that the crown prince wants to choose a princess consort. Did he pick one yet?”
“About done. They should be getting married this month.” Shen Zikai said, “The empress wanted families with ladies of age to attend the Plum Appreciation Banquet. By then… he’ll probably choose a princess consort and two concubines.”
The crown prince was in his twenties but he only had one son. It was normal for the empress to want him to marry a few more women.
Shen Ziqiao was just worried that a certain woman with a gold finger might be chosen.
“There’s no way that every woman that is of age could get a chance right?” Shen Ziqiao asked anxiously.
“Naturally not.” Shen Zikai softly laughed. “Of course not any lady can get to be the wife of a member of the royal family. The ladies going to the Plum Appreciation Banquet are ladies from influential families.”
Sheng Peiyin won’t dare to show up then. She was a wanted criminal.
Shen Ziqiao’s voice became carefree and she walked away with Shen Zikai.
The crown prince was choosing a princess consort...
Shen Zixin stood there quietly in a corner. Her heart was thumping rapidly because of what she had just heard. She felt something burning inside her heart.
Princess consort...That should be able to beat down Shen Ziqiao right?
Shen Zixin smiled and hurriedly walked towards Madam Zhou’s courtyard.
Qi Zheng had brought Shen Ziqiao back to the Qi Family before evening.
Icicles were on the rooftop and the entire streets’ rooftops were snow white. The icles were sparkling under the sunshine.
Through the curtains, Shen Ziqiao could see the scene outside. She used to be a southerner too. She had never seen snow so she liked snow for some unknown reason. She thought that standing in the pure snow was romantic.
“You said that you were going to take me to admire snow. Snow stopped already.” Shen Ziqiao pouted and complained.
Qi Zheng brought her back into his arms and knitted his brows upon seeing her flushed face. “There’s wind by the window. Don’t always lay there. This is the first snow of the year. You’ll get many opportunities to watch snow. But with your body state like this and how cold it is outside, you’re quite brazen for wanting to play in the snow.”
“I’m strong.” Shen Ziqiao glared at him unhappily. “Last year, I...I also played in the snow.”
She was in Minyue last year and in the year before too. The first year that she appeared here, though she got an opportunity to see snow, she was quite scared. She wasn’t in the mood to play at all.
Qi Zheng smiled. “I’ll get to see how strong you are tonight.”
Shen Ziqiao’s cheeks slowly turned rosy. Besides their wedding night, though Qi Zheng liked to kiss and tease her, he still stopped before the actual thing. He was afraid of hurting her again.
She suddenly quietened down. Qi Zheng was smiling wide upon seeing that even her ears turned red.
They returned to the Qi Family and then went to pay respects to Old Madam Qi.
Old Madam Qi was really happy to see them. She held Shen Ziqiao’s hands and kept asking her questions. She revealed a sorrowful expression when asking about Old Madam Shen’s body as if having sympathy for her who was about to die. “Old people have all sorts of health issues.”
Shen Ziqiao hurriedly comforted, “You’re still young.”
“You sure know how to sweet talk.” Old Madam Qi smiled.
“Of course she does, otherwise how is Zheng’er hell bent on marrying her?” A sharp voice rang outside. Then Xiao Gu’s figure appeared by the door.
Old Madam Qi’s face darkened a bit. “Didn’t you say you were really busy?”
She heard someone call and tell Xiao Gu to come over but she ended up saying that she was busy with the housekeepers. Yet, she came over now.
Shen Ziqiao’s eyes landed on the person behind Xiao Gu.
What a beautiful girl! She was almost the most beautiful girl she had ever seen.
Gu Daiqin was naturally the woman behind Xiao Gu. She was now staring at Shen Ziqiao, her beautiful face wearing a childish look.
Shen Ziqiao just noticed that there was something strange with the girl’s pure and innocent eyes.
“What? You think you don’t need to pay respects to me with the Old Madam here?” Seeing that Shen Ziqiao was standing unmoved, Xiao Gu raised her voice and mocked.
“Mother, the sister you brought over is too beautiful. I got in a daze and forgot to pay respects to you as a result.” Shen Ziqiao generously admitted her mistake. There was a beautiful woman in front of her. Xiao Gu couldn’t blame her for being in a daze.
Xiao Gu hmphed but glared at Qi Zheng.