Lin Qing Wan was a little in disbelief.
The Xiao Hua from back then had also been fresh in her memories. This was because during her hardest days, it was Xiao Hua who taught her that survival was most important. It was even thanks to Xiao Hua that she didn’t make the mistake of trying to escape back then.
She truly knew the girl called Xiao Hua, but apart from her eyes being slightly large, that girl in her memories wasn’t special at all. She was withered and skinny, a tiny little girl. How did she become this person in front of her who was the complete opposite in terms of bearing, and was even the senior concubine?
Lin Qing Wan was currently a mess.
After a long time, she finally recovered and stammered: “Then, then how did you become the senior concubine?”
Xiao Hua smiled brightly: “Didn’t you become the Dingyuan Marquis’s sister? It was all due to luck. I really didn’t think we could meet again. After so many years, I still occasionally think of you and wonder how you’re doing. Now that I see you’re doing well, I can be at ease…..”
“That’s right. Fate is a strange thing. Never expected to be able to see you again….”
The two of the smiled, their eyes filled with reminiscence and emotion, and many other things.
That’s right. Who would have thought that from the carriage of the trafficker heading out of the capital would come two women with completely different destinies.
One was married into the countryside, but used her own abilities to have a happy life and marriage. The other went from a little lass who was sold over and over to a vassal prince’s favored concubine, and finally to the emperor’s favored senior concubine. Perhaps there may be even bigger changes in the future.
Therefore, fate was truly something mysterious….
“Are you well?” Lin Qing Wan involuntarily asked before laughing in spite of herself: “The senior concubine is naturally doing well. Look at my foolish words.”
Xiao Hua nodded and replied seriously: “I’m very well.”
She knew Lin Qing Wan would understand her meaning.
Lin Qing Wan understood as expected. She smiled and said: “I’m also very well.”
The two of them chatted for a long, long time, until the sky started turning dark. Only then did Lin Qing Wan say her farewells. Xiao Hua told her to come to the palace when she was free, and that she would give instructions to the subordinates.
Lin Qing Wan agreed straightforwardly. She said her family had built a residence on the outskirts and would remain by the capital in the future. She would definitely come bother the senior concubine.
After Lin Qing Wan left, Xiao Hua sat there in a daze for a while. She would occasionally think of something and reveal a knowing smile.
Outside the hall, Yi Yi’s chattering sounded out.
She had stopped going to class with her brother, but was now too bored. Therefore, she started going to pick her brother up after class. Every day right before late afternoon, she would take her palace maids, eunuchs and Whitey in a majestic procession to the Esteemed Literary Hall to pick up Zhuo’er. The two of them returned to the Chenxi Palace together.
Xiao Hua heard her son say several times he wouldn’t let his sister go pick him up, but Zhuo’er seemed quite happy every time they came back together.
Actually Xiao Hua knew that she wasn’t going for her brother’s sake, but rather because there was no one for her to play with. Xiao Hua wouldn’t let her run around freely, so Yi Yi used Zhuo’er as an excuse for some freedom.
Once the children returned, Zhuo’er changed his clothes and Xiao Hua had the palace maids bring some water and towels to wipe him down. After changing into comfortable clothing, Xiao Hua fetched some pastries and ate with her children.
After being taught by the imperial instructors for a period of time, it was clear that Zhuo’er had matured a lot. Only in front of his mom and sister would he reveal some childishness.
Right as things were getting lively, the Jing Emperor returned. Xiao Hua went and busied herself helping the man.
After, the two of them went and sat with the children.
The Jing Emperor asked about Zhuo’er’s homework and he seriously replied to everything.
The Jing Emperor then turned to Xiao Hua.
“The Dingyuan Marquis’s sister left?”
Xiao Hua nodded, “According to Qing Wan, they are going to live by the capital. I told her to come hang out in the palace whenever she’s free.”
The Jing Emperor nodded and didn’t say anything.
Soon July arrived. The second prince Luo Yu turned one year old.
The second prince’s one year anniversary naturally needed a huge celebration. All the officials, nobility and titled women entered the palace to give their blessings.
Luo Yu’s treatment was far better than his crown prince brother. Back then, Zhuo’er’s one month anniversary and one year anniversary hadn’t been celebrated. The Jing Emperor had brooded over this for a while, so now the second prince’s naturally needed to be grand.
Luo Yu did his one-year-old catch within the Bright Sun Hall in front of his father and all the gathered people. This little one was impatient and grew tired of it quickly. He randomly grabbed a little sword before calling out for his mom.
Therefore, the second prince Luo Yu was carried personally by general manager Eunuch Fu into the Peacekeeping Hall into Xiao Hua’s arms.
Within the Peacekeeping Hall stood many titled women. Some who were more cordial had long since sidled over to Xiao Hua and were speaking with her quietly. The current prime senior concubine was at the peak of her power, and was also solely favored. Many people were willing to fawn upon her, so there were quite a few of them around her.
Xiao Hua was a little helpless, but had to force a smile and exchange pleasantries with them. Seeing a woman within the distant crowd shoot her a teasing smile, Xiao Hua surreptitiously shot back a glare.
The titled women all made way as they saw Eunuch Fu carry the second prince over.
Yu’er’s eyes brightened as he saw his mom. He reached his little arms out and mumbled “mom”.
“The second prince is really smart and cute….”
“That’s right. My little brat back home only learned to call for me when he was one and a half years old….”
Xiao Hua stood up and received Yu’er.
Eunuch Fu bowed in salute, “Concubine, the second prince made a fuss about wanting you, so his majesty had this servant bring him over.”
“Thank you general manager Fu for your trouble.”
After Eunuch Fu left, Xiao Hua was surrounded once again. They were all smiling and praising the second prince. They managed to never say the same thing twice.
Yu’er’s temper wasn’t good, and he had long since gotten tired of the surrounding people. He called out with his mouth ‘go, go’.
Xiao Hua rejoiced in her heart, and gave an embarrassed smile to the people around, “Sincere apologies, the second prince has an impatient temper. If he stays in place for too long he’ll start crying. This seat can’t accompany you all, please enjoy the banquet.”
Amongst the chorus of “respectfully seeing senior concubine off”, Xiao Hua left the Peacekeeping Hall. At the same time, an unobtrusive person left with her as well.
Xiao Hua led Lin Qing Wan back to the Chenxi Palace and into the hall.
“I really don’t like crowds. Our Yu’er is the same way. So I led you back to the palace for some peace and quiet.”
Lin Qing Wan laughed softly and said: “That’s true. I’m also not used to such a scene. So many people sitting together, comparing their clothing, their jewelry, their husband’s status. Truly boring.”
“Looks like you’ve endured some suffering these days.” Xiao Hua joked.
“It’s not that bad. It was novel at first, but now it’s just boring. Especially since I’m pregnant now, and don’t like to be out and about.” Lin Qing Wan felt her own round stomach and said.
Xiao Hua looked at her stomach and said: “I feel like you have twins. Back then when I was pregnant with Zhuo’er and Yi Yi, my stomach was also as large as yours.”
Lin Qing Wan spaced out.
Xiao Hua thought she was worrying about twins being harder to deliver and said comfortingly: “Don’t worry. I’ve got a skilled nana by my side. I’ll have her go to your estate for the delivery.”
“Then I have to thank concubine.”
As they spoke, Zhuo’er and Yi Yi came in with two other children.
The two were both boys. One was sturdy like a little bull, the other was slender and looked rather scholarly.
That’s right. He was only five years old but gave off the air of a scholar. The boy who looked like a little bull was taller and sturdier than that slender boy, but was actually the younger brother.
These were Lin Qing Wan’s two sons. The five year old called Yang Nuo was the older one, and his nickname was Nuo Nuo. The younger one was younger than Zhuo’er and Yi Yi by a month, and was called Yang Heng. His nickname was Heng Heng.
This was the second time they came to the palace. The first time was when Xiao Hua invited the three of them. It turned out that Zhuo’er and Yi Yi got along very well with them, so Xiao Hua reminded her to bring the children along for the second prince’s anniversary.
“Little bro Heng Heng, why are you so tall? Why is big bro Nuo Nuo shorter when he’s older than you?” Yi Yi kept saying. This issue had surprised her countless of times.
Heng Heng was confused and naturally couldn’t explain it clearly. He could only say this was how it was.
Nuo Nuo understood, but didn’t know how to explain it. He felt a little ashamed. Being shorter and skinnier than his younger brother was something that bothered him. That eldest princess Yi Yi repeatedly dug the knife into his wounds.
Although Yang Nuo was mature for his age, he was still a five year old child. He wasn’t able to conceal his emotions and his expression was a little angry.
Zhuo’er explained for his sister: “Yi Yi is a little dumb. Don’t take her silly words to mind.”
“Highness crown prince, Yang Nuo naturally won’t get angry with the eldest princess.” Nuo Nuo imitated a scholar and cupped his hands in salute.
The sharp-eyed Yi Yi naturally noticed and sidled over asking: “Big bro Nuo Nuo, why are you imitating those old fogeys and cupping your hands?”
The old fogeys Yi Yi referred to were the imperial instructors who taught Zhuo’er. In her mind, only old people did such things. Big bro Nuo Nuo doing this at such a young age looked truly weird.
Xiao Hua smiled and pulled her over, tapping her on the forehead: “You curious little thing, asking about everything. Your big bro Nuo Nuo is showing courtesy, unlike you who’s basically a wild thing.”
Yi Yi pouted her little mouth and grabbed her mom’s sleeve in disagreement. Xiao Hua gave Zhuo’er a glance. Zhuo’er sensibly pulled his sister along to go play.
“Such young children are supposed to be curious about everything. Our Heng Heng is the same way.” Lin Qing Wan smiled a said: “But the crown prince is so mature at his young age, truly hard to come by.”
“Enough, no need for us to flatter each other. Isn’t your Nuo Nuo the same way?”
“Mine is just a little bookworm.”
Xiao Hua smiled and looked at her older son, “Mine is about to be the same. However, men have more responsibilities on their shoulders compared to women. There’s nothing we can do about it.”
The two women chatted while the few children played.
Well, it was Yi Yi and Heng Heng who were playing. Zhuo’er and Nuo Nuo huddled together in conversation. The four were clearly similar in age, but two of them seemed like little adults and the other two were completely like children.
“Didn’t expect these four to get along so well. But it makes sense, there aren’t many children in the palace. Zhuo’er and Yi Yi don’t have many playmates.” Xiao Hua lamented, and turned to Lin Qing Wan, “How about I talk to his majesty about having Nuo Nuo and Heng Heng be fellow students with Zhuo’er?”
Lin Qing Wan froze and hesitated, “It that ok?” Being classmates of the crown prince was naturally different from normal classmates. If the crown prince succeeded the throne in the future, his original classmates naturally would have promising prospects.
“It’s naturally ok. It’s good for them to hang out together.”
As she spoke, Heng Heng pulled Yi Yi along and ran outside. A large group of palace maids and eunuchs followed behind.
“Look how happily they’re playing.”
Lin Qing Wan smiled, “Then this commoner woman will thank the concubine for her grace!”
Xiao Hua scolded, “Don’t you start that with me. This isn’t like you.”
Lin Qing Wan laughed straightforwardly, “Basic etiquette still needs to be observed, right?”
Putting together some side-story chapters…..