Thank you anonymous donor for your support! You guys should add a nickname for me to address you by in the ko-fi comments, or make an account. I need to differentiate my anons somehow.
Regardless of the court’s reaction, moving into the palace proceeded at a pace that was neither slow nor fast.
First the former emperor’s concubines had to move out. Once they were relocated to the Cian1 Palace, it was time for the new concubines to move in.
Xiao-Shi was given the Fengqi Palace. This move made those observing either let out a breath in relief or feel deeply disappointed. The Fengqi Palace was where many generations of empresses had lived. By moving in, the matter seemed to have been decided. All that remained was to see when she would be conferred.
Qiao-Shi was given the Longcui2 Palace’s main hall. Yu Jiao and Yu Rong lived in the side halls.
Xiao Hua was arranged into the Chenxi3 Palace.
The Chenxi Palace wasn’t on the center line of the imperial palace, but was located towards the back left of the Jing Emperor’s Violet Imperial Hall. Not long after the previous emperor died, the Jing Emperor kept insisting on simplifying things. Neither the Violet Imperial Hall nor the Fengqi Palace were redecorated. The Jing Emperor only ordered for the Chenxi Palace to be properly renovated.
The meaning behind this was worth everyone pondering over.
Once all the previous concubines moved out, the Chenxi Palace started undergoing renovations. By the time everyone finished moving and right before it was Xiao Hua’s turn to move in, the renovations were completed. The timing had been grasped perfectly.
At this moment, Xiao Hua was eight months pregnant.
Afterwards was the long awaited conferral of titles. First Yu Jiao and Yu Rong were officially decreed imperial concubines. Yu Jiao was given the title of Tranquil Concubine and Yu Rong was the Serene Concubine. Next, Qiao-Shi was given the title of Virtuous Concubine and appointed mistress of the Longcui Palace.
The decrees conferring Xiao-Shi as empress and Xiao Hua’s conferral were given together.
As Xiao-Shi knelt and received the edict within the Fengqi Palace, the Jing Emperor arrived at the Chenxi Palace.
When he arrived, Yi Yi and Zhuo’er were both sprawled on the couch stroking Xiao Hua’s large belly.
“Mom, when is little bro coming out? Why is he always in there?”
Xiao Hua was half reclined on the couch and she stroked her daughter’s little face, “There’s still another two months. What, does Yi Yi want to play with him already?”
“That’s right.” Yi Yi stroked her round belly once again and said quietly: “Little bro, hurry and come out. Big sis will share some rose cakes with you.”
“It could also be a little sis.” Xiao Hua said while smiling.
Yi Yi furrowed her little brows and muttered to herself for a bit, “A little sis is fine as well. Yi Yi can play with little sis while big bro plays by himself.”
Zhuo’er said on the side: “Maybe it’s better to have a little bro, not a little sis.”
Xiao Hua asked meaningfully: “What? Zhuo’er doesn’t like little sis?”
“It’s not that I don’t like her. Little sis is too dumb. If another dumb little sis gets added on, Zhuo’er will get a headache.”
These words made Xiao Hua burst out laughing. The Jing Emperor who had been listening outside the door for a while also revealed a smile.
Yi Yi’s eyes were sharper. Seeing the Jing Emperor by the door, she ran over.
Xiao Hua sat up and was about to stand when she was stopped by the Jing Emperor.
“Majesty, why not make a sound after coming?”
“Listening to you speak with the children.”
Xiao Hua smiled, “Were you secretly laughing at the children again? Children at their age are all innocent and pure.”
“No, the two children are very good and very smart.”
He played with the children for a while. Actually, it was mostly Yi Yi curiously asking about this and that. Ding Xiang brought the two children out before the Jing Emperor pulled out a decree from his sleeves and gave it to Xiao Hua.
Xiao Hua opened it and took a look. She saw a string of eloquent praise before finally getting to the main topic. The gist of it was that she would be conferred a senior concubine with a pretty good title: “prime.”
The Jing Emperor stroked Xiao Hua’s hand, “I feel like it’s not enough, but….”
Xiao Hua covered his mouth and smiled with tears in her eyes, “I feel it’s already more than enough.”
The Jing Emperor pulled her into his arms and didn’t say anything.
He wouldn’t have been able to distinguish such things in the past. However, after living in the East Yuling alley for a few days before returning to their normal life, he felt a discrepancy in his heart.
He couldn’t point out anything specific, but he would always feel he was wronging her. They were clearly supposed to be the husband and wife, but they weren’t in reality. There was still someone between them. Someone whom he clearly wanted to cast away, but couldn’t.
“I wanted to wait after you gave birth to pass down the edict. At that time I would have given you a grand conferral ceremony. But then I thought if you gave birth to our child after receiving a high ranking title….”
The Jing Emperor’s expression was still unaffected as usual, but from his words it was clear he had some knots in his heart. As for Xiao Hua, having been his partner who shared his bed for so long, she naturally understood him extremely well.
It was enough to know his heart ached for her!
He was probably afraid she would feel uncomfortable about a different woman receiving the honor that comes with being his principal wife…..
Actually Xiao Hua was able to obtain information faster than the Jing Emperor had imagined. She had known from the moment he drafted the edicts and delivered it to the Ministry of Rites. The only thing she didn’t know was that he would bring her copy over, even before the edict-declaring eunuch arrived at Xiao-Shi’s place.
She could truly understand the meaning behind his actions. Therefore, she didn’t care about anything else….
At some point, Xiao Hua’s tears had started flowing. Only when the Jing Prince busied himself with wiping them for her did she realize.
“Aiya, I told you this time’s pregnancy has made me more emotional….Sir Jing, I’m really very happy….”
Sir Jing was what Xiao Hua called the Jing Emperor when they were back at the East Yuling alley. At that time, she could call him this affectionately. After getting to the palace, Xiao Hua rarely used this form of address.
The Jing Emperor rubbed her hair and didn’t say anything. He listened to her mutter in his arms.
“……Yi Yi keeps saying it’s a little bro. I feel like it’s a girl. She’s so emotional that it has spread to her mom as well….”
“It’s fine if it’s a daughter. She’ll be our second princess.”
The conferral ceremony for a senior concubine was rather complicated. Because it wasn’t convenient for Xiao Hua to move about, everything was simplified.
Only Xiao Hua’s part was simplified. When she was supposed to kneel and listen to the edict, she was allowed to stand while supporting her stomach. Even the final kneeling three times and kowtowing nine times upon receiving the edict was not required. Since his majesty said it wasn’t necessary to kneel, no one dared say otherwise. But the various rituals by the Ministry of Rites were still performed according to the rules.
The day after being conferred senior concubine, she was supposed to kneel three times and give nine kowtows to the empress dowager. Because there was no empress dowager in the palace, this was no longer required. Then it was time to pay respects to the emperor and the empress. Because the empress’s conferral ceremony hadn’t been held yet, this part was also no longer required so people wouldn’t nitpick the fact Xiao-Shi wasn’t the empress yet.
As for paying respects to the emperor, that part was even more easily handled. The Jing Emperor didn’t leave the night before, and the morning of the next day, Xiao Hua paid her respects to him. Before she could lower herself properly, she was lifted up.
Afterwards, Xiao Hua laughed about it with the Jing Emperor. Everything had truly been simplified.
The empress conferral ceremony was much more complicated than the senior concubine’s. Just preparing for it took over a month. By the time the ceremony came, it just so happened to be Xiao Hua’s due date.
The empress received the golden phoenix marked announcement and returned to her palace. Before she could take it out and look upon it with pleasure, she received news that the prime senior concubine was going into labor. She immediately flew into a rage. She wondered whether this senior concubine purposefully waited for her conferral to give birth.
Theoretically, the empress should be making a trip for the sake of appearances, but the empress had never gotten along with that prime senior concubine. Furthermore, she felt that she was ruining her happy occasion and was even more unwilling to go.
At this time, an old nana walked over and said after saluting: “Empress, since this is the new emperor’s first child after ascending the throne, everyone is watching. For the sake of your reputation, it’s better to make a trip to the Chenxi Palace.”
The empress knew this person spoke the truth. With a face full of impatience, she called her palace maids over to help her change into regular clothing before heading towards the Chenxi Palace.
When she arrived, she saw the Jing Emperor sitting outside the delivery room in the side hall. He still wore his set of heavy imperial robes.
The emperor and empress had both participated on the conferral ceremony’s first day. The Jing Emperor had been in the front court while the empress was in the rear palace. Based on his current clothes, he had clearly hurried over straight away from the front court.
The empress sat down next to the Jing Emperor, “Majesty should go change out of those clothes. This seat will watch over the prime senior concubine.”
The Jing Emperor didn’t speak and also didn’t look at the empress.
A palace maid served up some, and placed a cup next to the empress. Eunuch Fu took the tray of tea and offered it in front of the Jing Emperor. Only then did the Jing Emperor vacantly place the tea cup in his hand on the gold plated tray and took a new cup from it. Eunuch Fu took the tray back to the palace maid on the side. The empress saw that the tea saucer from the previous cup had already shattered into several pieces, supporting the tea cup on top precariously.
His majesty was just that worried about that bitch?!
It would be best if it was a difficult birth that resulted in death. That way, she could openly accept the senior concubine’s motherless child as her own. The empress had heard midwives say that giving birth was putting one foot into the gates of hell. The slightest mishap would result in tragedy…..
The empress was lost in her own thoughts, glancing at the delivery room door with flashing eyes. The Jing Emperor seemed to have sensed her malicious intentions, his apathetic eyes shifting over onto Empress Xiao’s face. Empress Xiao was too focused and didn’t notice.
After their presences were announced, Virtuous Concubine Qiao and the Tranquil and Serene Concubines walked in. They first saluted the Jing Emperor and then the empress before standing to the side.
“Majesty, don’t worry too much. The senior concubine will definitely be fine.”
The Jing Emperor suddenly felt inexplicably irritated, and felt that these people were all eyesores.
One of them showed unconcealed malice while the other’s words made it sound like some issue had occurred. He wasn’t an impatient person, but this time he lost his patience.
Actually Virtuous Concubine Qiao was a little unjustly blamed. How could she be looking for trouble with the Prime Senior Concubine in front of the Jing Emperor? She was just giving some routine words of comfort while trying to make an impression. But due to the empress’s poor example, her opportunity turned into misfortune.
“All of you may leave. No need to wait here.”
The Jing Emperor frowned.
Eunuch Fu immediately stood up, “Why don’t you concubines return to your palaces first. His majesty is being considerate since it’s hard to say how long it’ll take.”
Xiao-Shi’s group could only stand up, salute, and leave.
After leaving the Chenxi Palace, Virtuous Concubine Qiao gave Empress Xiao a curtsey.
“Let me congratulate the empress first, and head over tomorrow to pay respects.”
Empress Xiao revealed a dignified smile, but Virtuous Concubine Qiao’s following words made her smile turn rigid.
“Unfortunately, it seems the senior concubine won’t be able to make it tomorrow. She really knows how to pick her timing. But she has always been understanding of etiquette, and will definitely come in the future to make up for it.”
On the second day of the empress conferral ceremony, the emperor would be accompanied by the nobility and officials to pay respects to the empress dowager. Afterwards they would go to the Hall of Origin. Everyone gathered would express their congratulations and the emperor would pass down an edict decreeing prosperity for everyone. At the same time, the empress would have to pay respects to the empress dowager, and kowtow to the emperor.
Afterwards, the empress sat in the Fengqi palace as all the women from the highest concubines to the princesses and other women worshipped her. This included the princes and heirs as well.
Since the prime senior concubine was giving birth today, she would definitely not show up tomorrow. Furthermore, if the delivery dragged on, would it still be possible to proceed with the ceremony?
Empress Xiao’s heart was suddenly a mess because she was uncertain.
Virtuous Concubine Qiao’s words weren’t intended to be mocking. She was just giving her a reminder. As for what Empress Xiao thought about it, that had nothing to do with her.
After the unrelated people left, the delivery room doors suddenly opened.
Xiao Hua supported her stomach and walked out under Matron Xu and Nana He’s support.
“Majesty, you shouldn’t worry. You should change out of your imperial robes. This servant concubine will still be a while.”
Xiao Hua was currently going into labor, but it wasn’t time to give birth yet. The labor contractions were still too far apart. Her going into the delivery room in advance was to make preparations such as taking a bath and eating a few things, as well as exercising to make the birth easier.
Someone had reported that the empress had arrived, and to avoid surprising people, Xiao Hua had entered the delivery room, leaving the Jing Emperor outside by himself. They couldn’t let others see that the senior concubine who had gone into labor wasn’t giving birth, but instead urging his majesty to go change and eat!
“Does it hurt a lot?”
The Jing Emperor stood up and took a couple of steps forward. He stroked her hand and wiped the sweat off her brow.
“Not too bad. Matron Xu said the time hasn’t come yet. Why don’t you go change? This servant concubine will eat a little with you. I have to eat something to replenish my stamina anyway.”
Seeing this, the Jing Emperor finally changed out of his heavy robes and ate together with Xiao Hua.
After eating, Xiao Hua entered the delivery room, leaving the Jing Emperor waiting outside once again.
Minor spoilers, maybe?
This author has found many reasons for Hua Hua’s inability to be conferred empress at this moment.
- Background too low.
- The Jing Prince has a principle wife.
There is no reason to confer a concubine over the principle wife, especially since she was his first marriage. If the Jing Prince didn’t confer her, he would be drowned in spit.
Of course, it might not be certain in the future. The rear palace isn’t a place where background is emphasized. If the emperor says you are noble, then you are noble. Heavens bless you Xiao-Shi, you definitely shouldn’t court disaster. It’s much easier to be abolished than to be conferred. In ancient times, quite a few imperial concubines ended up being conferred empress. Haha.