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Inside Yong Shou Palace, the Grand Empress Dowager is pleased to know that the Emperor and Empress have returned. She asked her servants to prepare their favourite dishes and even invites the Empress Dowager to her palace so that they can dine together in a big family.
Jun Qian Che brings Yang Shi Han with him to greet them, “Grandson greets Imperial Grandmother, son greets Imperial Mother.”
“Forego the formality, Your Majesty. Come and sit,” says the Grand Empress Dowager with a benevolent smile.
Yang Shi Han obediently curtsies in front of them, not looking arrogant for once, “Chenqie greets the Grand Empress Dowager and the Empress Dowager.”
The Grand Empress Dowager gives her the kind smile she gave Jun Qian Che, “No need for formalities, Yang Guifei. Aijia watched you grow up into the lady that you are today and has long considers you are one of our own. Now that you are the Emperor’s Guifei, you don’t have to treat aijia with so much courtesy.”
“Thank you, Your Ladyship,” says Yang Shi Han politely.
The Empress Dowager proceeds to tease her, “Imperial mother, Shi Han, this child has been too doted upon back at home. Now that she is inside the palace, she does not know any rules. You must not encourage her.”
The Grand Empress Dowager smiles, “They are all children. This is the peak of their youth, the time for them to play around without a care in the world. We ought to give them some leeway.”
“You dotes on them too much, Imperial Mother.”
“The Empress arrives!” an announcement comes from outside.
The Grand Empress Dowager smiles even more, “The Empress has become more and more considerate! If this was in the past, she wouldn’t have bothered coming since she is too tired. She has matured!”
The Empress Dowager on the other hand, appears displeased at Mo Qi Qi’s arrival.
Mo Qi Qi walks in wearing her phoenix robe. When she realizes that the Empress Dowager, Jun Qian Che and Yang Shi Han are all here, she secretly thank the gods for making her come here. Otherwise, they would have reprimanded her behind her back for being lazy.
“Qi Qi greets Imperial Grandmother, Imperial Mother and the Emperor,” greets Mo Qi Qi while curtsying.
The Grand Empress Dowager looks at her fondly, “No need for formality. Come and sit next to Imperial Grandmother!”
“Yes,” Mo Qi Qi gets up and sits next to the Grand Empress Dowager.
Jun Qian Che looks at her in surprise. The former her did not have any regard for other people. She would not do things that she did not like. She did not care for even the Grand Empress Dowager. In fact, she used to be pretty distant from their Imperial Grandmother. But now, she has become very generous with people. She tries her best to do things and have gotten really close to the Grand Empress Dowager. Perhaps, Mo Clan has made their choice.
The Grand Empress Dowager takes Mo Qi Qi’s hand affectionately, “Have you lost weight, Empress?”
Mo Qi Qi smiles sweetly at her, “Qi Qi is fine, Imperial Grandmother.”
“You have indeed lost weight. Did the Emperor not take good care of you? You must tell Imperial Grandmother if he bullies you, Imperial Grandmother will help you,” teases the Grand Empress Dowager.
Mo Qi Qi looks at Jun Qian Che, who looks back at her coldly.
She really wants to tell the Grand Empress Dowager what really happened; how the Emperor kept bullying her, scolding her, threatening her, but in the end, since she still wants to live, she keeps it back down. “His Majesty treated Qi Qi really well, Imperial Grandmother. He even made roasted pheasant for Qi Qi! In fact, Qi Qi has gained weight! You only see that Qi Qi has lost weight because you dotes on Qi Qi so much.”
The Grand Empress Dowager, “His Majesty actually bothers taking care of someone else? Are you lying to Imperial Grandmother, Qi Qi?”
Mo Qi Qi smiles brightly, “Qi Qi would never dare to lie to you, Imperial Grandmother! His Majesty took great care of Qi Qi!” The last part she says while looking at Jun Qian Che, as though gritting her teeth at him.
The Grand Empress Dowager sighs in relief, “Aijia can finally relax hearing what Qi Qi said. Both of you have finally learned to get along with each other after two years. This is good.”
Yang Shi Han looks at Jun Qian Che coquettishly, “Who knew the Emperor would be so considerate outside? If chenqie had known, chenqie would have come with you.”
Hearing that, Mo Qi Qi sighs in regret: If it had been you, he would have been kind and warm for sure, but since it was only me, it was all orders and threats. Had I known, I would have insists in you coming along!
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Jun Qian Che seems to really love Yang Shi Han; he actually abandoned so many waiting concubines and went to her Gui Ning Palace immediately after returning. He even brings her with him to greet the Grand Empress Dowager. This kind of love can only be dreamed of by the rest of his concubines!
The Empress Dowager looks at Yang Shi Han dotingly, “This child; how could you say that in front of the Grand Empress Dowager?”
The Grand Empress Dowager smiles kindly, “It’s nothing. Shi Han is straight-forward in temperament, aijia likes her.”
“You dotes on her too much, Imperial Mother,” says the Empress Dowager, visibly happy.
As they chat on, a maiden who appears to be around 16-17 years old approaches them. She is wearing a green dress, her skirt embroidered with beautiful blue butterflies, layered by thin layer of muslin. She looks gentle and light, as though a slight breeze can whisk her away. Her long dark hair flows with the breeze; she simply looks so dainty and fragile and can easily melt one’s heart.
Underneath that green dress is a skin so beautiful that no one could compare with. She is very pale, and slightly pinkish, almost giving her the dainty and sickly look. Elegance and noble bearing practically radiates from her.
The maiden walks over to them before curtsying, “Ya Xian greets the Grand Empress Dowager, the Empress Dowager, the Emperor, the Empress and the Guifei,” her voice is soft and lilting. A sweet-spoken beauty with such an aura; what an eye-catching beauty. Never mind men, even women will find her to their liking.
Mo Qi Qi wonders who she is; when did she enter the palace? Is she Jun Qian Che’s new concubine?
The Grand Empress Dowager motions her to get up, looking at her with a visibly fond expression, “Hurry and get up. Come and let Grandmother see you better.”
The girl simply smiles as she makes her way to the Grand Empress Dowager.
If the Grand Empress Dowager addresses herself as Grandmother when speaking to the girl, that means that this girl is Jun Qian Che’s cousin. This Jun Qian Che! Is he planning to make a move on every single female cousin that he has? Too trashy!
“How are you, Ya Xian? Do you feel uncomfortably anywhere?” the Grand Empress Dowager looks at Ya Xian in worry.
Ya Xian shakes her head, “Do not worry, Grandmother, I am fine.”
The Grand Empress Dowager turns to everyone, “Once Ya Xian found out that Your Majesty and the Empress are returning today, she was hell-bent on cooking something for you two. It is rare for this child to do that kind of thing.”
The Empress Dowager regards her with fondness as well, “You shouldn’t have bothered, Ya Xian. Just leave it to the servants. If anything happens to you, Imperial Mother will become worried.”
Ya Xian smiles gently, “Don’t worry, Imperial Grandmother, Ya Xian’s health has been really good lately. In fact, I am happy that I can actually cook something for Che gege.” She smiles shyly as she looks at Jun Qian Che.
Mo Qi Qi finally realizes something upon seeing that scene. From the look of it, Ya Xian seems to like Jun Qian Che. Just look at that shy smile; so pretty! Che gege, hahaha. Who knew that Jun Qian Che has his own Lin Meimei, the world is indeed a huge place.
(TN: Lin Meimei refers to gentle and dainty women.)
When Jun Qian Che reads the expression on Mo Qi Qi’s face, anger rises in his heart. He turns to Ya Xian, “When did you arrive, Xiao Xian? How is your health?”
Mo Qi Qi is even more surprised when she hears that. What an intimate way of addressing someone! Are they blatantly flirting in front of everyone here?
Ya Xian does not dare to make eye contact with Jun Qian Che. She lowers her eyes shyly, “Half a month ago. My health is just fine, thank you for your concern, Che gege.”
Yang Shi Han speaks up, “Your Majesty, Ya Xian jiejie returns looking so healthy after visiting her relative in the south. She looks a lot better nowadays.”
Jun Qian Che nods lightly.
Ya Xian turns to Mo Qi Qi with a smile, “The trip must have been hard for you, Your Ladyship. Did you encounter any interesting thing?”
Mo Qi Qi smiles at Ya Xian in a friendly manner, “It was not hard, it was not hard at all. I will tell you everything later.”
Ya Xian smiles at her back, “That will be great!” Surprise flashes in her eyes; she did not expect the Empress to actually smile at her, much less speak to her so kindly. The Empress does not hate her any longer?
“Lunch is here, everyone must be hungry. It is rare for us to gather like this. Let us taste our Ya Xian’s cooking today,” the Grand Empress Dowager gets up and leads everyone to the dining hall.
The servants have already prepared all the dishes. The Grand Empress Dowager invites everyone to sit. Mo Qi Qi who is famished to begin with has the urge to rush to the roasted duck. But since she is not the big boss amongst the lot, she can only hold herself back, pretending to be graceful.
The Grand Empress Dowager begins the pre-lunch speech, “Lunch today is prepared to welcome back the Emperor and Empress after a long arduous month that they spent to take care of the common people. Our kingdom is lucky to have them as rulers. Let us give them a toast!”
Everyone raises their cup before drinking it. That is the cue to begin eating.
Mo Qi Qi picks up a huge roasted duck’s leg, eating it with her mouth open.
Jun Qian Che who sits next to her frowns at her unhappily.
Mo Qi Qi can sense a pair of cold eyes looking at her. She turns to him, almost choking at the duck inside her mouth when she sees the way he is looking at her. She forcibly swallows the lump of meat before quietly asking, “Why are you looking at chenqie instead of eating, Your Majesty? Chenqie is not good enough to eat.”
“Be mindful of your bearing,” reminds Jun Qian Che unhappily.
Mo Qi Qi helplessly rolls her eyes at him before reluctantly saying, “Got it.”
Ya Xian looks at Jun Qian Che shyly before picking him a dish, “Che gege, Ya Xian made this fish dish for you. Why don’t you give it a taste?”
Jun Qian Che picks the piece of fish up and tastes it.
Ya Xian looks at her anxiously, “How is it?”
Defying all logic, Jun Qian Che actually smiles at her before gently saying, “Not bad.”
Mo Qi Qi is stunned when she sees that smile on Jun Qian Che’s face, her chopsticks hovering mid-air. Seems like Jun Qian Che is very satisfied with this cousin sister. Not only did he eat her cooking, he actually smiled at her! The sun must have risen from the west. Seems like Yang Shi Han has a tough competitor now.
When she remembers his expression and what he said when he ate her cooking, there is a world of difference between that and this. As long as the person that he likes make it, even a urine will smell good! As for her’s, no matter how good it is, it is still a trash to him!
She chews a little harder on her food.