Although Wei Lan issued a decree to bestow the marriage and also strictly ordered Wei Chongrong to return to the capital to get married as soon as possible, he couldn’t set a specific wedding date for him. Wei Chongrong was the son of Wang Qin, and the date of his wedding could only be chosen by Wei Zhao from the auspicious dates provided by the imperial astrologers, so it was not Wei Lan’s turn to interfere. Even though Wei Lan repeatedly hinted, the old guys in the imperial astrology division were one more stubborn than the other. They had only given three variants of the auspicious date: the 19th of the ninth month, the 18th of the tenth month and 11th of the eleventh month, the nearest date being three months away.
Wei Zhao glanced at the dates written on the slip of paper and said carelessly, “The 18th of the tenth month is good, that’s the day.”
The steward of Wang Qin’s residence took the order and began to organise the marriage of Wang Qin’s Shizi according to the rules. Huo Feifei blinked her big round eyes and wondered: “Father, weren’t you the one who rushed to give His Majesty a memorial requesting for an approval of Big Brother’s marriage? Why are you not in a hurry now?”
Wei Zhao reached out to pat his daughter’s cheek and explained, “Yizhou borders both Zhuxia and Nanyue, and the situation is very complicated, so even though Rong’er is getting married, he still needs to hand things over properly. Otherwise if anything happens, it would be his responsibility.”
Huo Feifei was only six years old and Wei Zhao’s words were just half-understood by her but she subconsciously nodded.
Since Wei Zhao had bought him enough time, Wei Chongrong arranged things properly in Yizhou and it wasn’t until the end of the ninth month that he hurriedly returned to Yujing. As soon as Wei Chongrong entered the city gates, he saw a messenger from the palace. It turned out that Wei Lan summoned him for an audience.
Wei Chongrong had no choice but to go straight to the palace without even going home, scolding Wei Lan half to death in his heart.
If it weren’t for Wei Lan, he and Little Monkey would have been together a long time ago, instead of not seeing each other for a year and a half. He had originally thought that it was still early, so he would go to Wang Changning’s residence after going home, but now it seemed to be out of the question.
When entering the Xuanshi Hall, Wei Chongrong bowed his head and said, “This subject bows to His Majesty, endless happiness to His Majesty.”
Wei Lan sat behind the imperial writing desk and quietly looked at Wei Chongrong for a long time before raising his hand and saying, “Fourth Brother is free of ceremony.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty.” Wei Chongrong thanked him respectfully and slowly straightened, his eyes never meeting Wei Lan’s.
The last time Wei Lan had seen Wei Chongrong was two years ago, and it seemed that he had not been so polite to him then.
Wei Lan thought about it and snorted coldly: “Fourth Uncle sent me a memorial asking me to bestow a marriage on Fourth Brother and Hou Zhaoyang’s Shizi, saying that your feelings were sincere and deep. But now it doesn’t seem like this. Fourth Brother isn’t very interested in Hou Zhaoyang’s Shizi, is he?”
Wei Chongrong had no words when he heard this. Whether he cared about Jun Hua or not, it seemed that it wasn’t Wei Lan’s turn to question it.
Seeing that he was silent, Wei Lan sneered, “The decree for the marriage has been issued for more than three months, but I see that Fourth Brother doesn’t seem to be in a hurry, which is not quite in line with what Fourth Uncle said in his memorial.”
Wei Chongrong’s face was calm as he cupped his fist and said, “The battle in Yizhou has just been settled, and there is still work to be done in the aftermath. This subject is loved by His Majesty and dares not leave his post carelessly. Besides, since I get married, my father can handle it on my behalf… Huaixi and I can’t meet before marriage anyway.”
Indeed, there was such a custom in the Great Yan: no matter whether it was a man and a woman or a man and a man, once the formal procedure of the six etiquettes of betrothal and marriage(1) started, the two parties could no longer meet in private. They had to wait until the day of marriage, otherwise it was very unlucky.
When Wei Chongrong planned to meet Jun Hua earlier, he hadn’t thought of this at all. Only when Wei Lan asked him why he was slow to return to the capital after receiving the decree, did he think of this part and found that it made sense.
Wei Lan was startled for a while before saying, “What Fourth Brother said is reasonable, I have been negligent.” The fact that Wei Chongrong stayed in Yao’an for several months disrupted all his plans, and it was only because he was angry that he spoke sarcastically. Unexpectedly, Wei Chongrong’s explanation was justified.
It was just…
The corners of Wei Lan’s lips hooked slightly and he smiled a little, “Fourth Brother has been stationed in Yizhou for two years and has worked hard. Next month is your big wedding, I will definitely have a generous gift to send.” The general in the field doesn’t hear the emperor’s order(2). Wei Lan couldn’t help it if Wei Chongrong didn’t return, but if he wanted to go out again, he would have to see if Wei Lan agreed.
Wei Chongrong thanked him and said, “Many thanks to Your Majesty for your kindness, I will definitely live up to Your Majesty’s trust.”
Talking to Wei Lan seemed to Wei Chongrong to be more tiring than fighting the enemy in the battlefield. Fortunately, Wei Lan didn’t like him very much, and after a few words of probing, Wei Chongrong was released from the palace without being asked about any useful information.
After leaving the palace, Wei Chongrong remembered what he had told Wei Lan that it wasn’t advisable to meet Jun Hua before the wedding, so he resisted the urge to rush to Wang Changning’s residence and consciously went back to Wang Qin’s residence. Huo Feifei was a bit surprised to see him and asked him why he didn’t go to see Brother Hua.
Wei Chongrong sat down on the swing in the courtyard, hugging his sister, and said helplessly, “I just said in front of His Majesty today that it’s not good to meet before the wedding, and if people see me going to Wang Changning’s residence later, wouldn’t it be a slap in the face to His Majesty? So I can’t go now.”
Huo Feifei didn’t quite understand Wei Chongrong’s words and just asked, “Then when are you going to see Brother Hua?”
During Wei Chongrong’s absence from Yujing, Jun Hua had come to Wang Qin’s residence from time to time. Huo Feifei returned from Qingjia last year. She was wild like a boy, but she was very attached to Jun Hua and even said that she would marry Brother Hua when she grew up.
However, Wei Zhao told her that Jun Hua liked Wei Chongrong and would be her “sister-in-law” in the future, so Huo Feifei said graciously that she wouldn’t steal from her big brother, but he should marry Brother Hua soon so that she could play with Brother Hua.
Wei Chongrong raised his eyebrows and said in a mysterious manner, “Of course it will be when no one sees it.” There was still half a month to go before the wedding, so there was no way he was not going to see his Little Monkey.
Huo Feifei covered her mouth and laughed. Every time Daddy came to Wang Qin’s residence, he also picked the time when no one could see him, hehe…(3)
Wei Chongrong pushed his foot against the ground to make the swing go higher and higher, and asked at the same time: “Feifei, I heard you wanted to marry Huaixi, is it true?” What Wei Chongrong heard wasn’t gossip; Jun Hua wrote to him about it on purpose, and his tone was very smug.
“En en…” Huo Feifei was always very bold. Wei Chongrong swung the swing very high but she was not only not afraid, but also very excited. “Of course it is true, I told Brother Hua to wait for me, I will grow up soon, but, but…”
“But he refused, right?” Wei Chongrong wasn’t someone who wouldn’t be jealous. When Wei Lan kept Jun Hua in the palace, he gnashed his teeth in hatred, but the fact that a little girl, his own sister, also liked Jun Hua was something he was proud of. It meant he had a really good vision.
“Right!” The little girl said dejectedly, “That is, the person that Brother Hua likes is Big Brother, otherwise…”
“Otherwise, what would you do?” Wei Chongrong asked curiously; his sister’s angry expression was so cute, oh.
Huo Feifei raised her head and proudly said, “The next time I like someone, I will not back down no matter what.”
Wei Chongrong nodded and cheered, “Feifei, go for it! No matter who you fall for in the future, Big Brother will stand firmly on your side.” As long as it wasn’t Jun Hua, he and Huo Feifei would have no conflict, so of course he was going to support his baby sister.
Huo Feifei smiled even more happily: “Big Brother must keep his word!”
Some years later, when Wei Chongrong recalled today’s joking words, he realised that he had spoken too recklessly(4).
When it was time for the nightly curfew, Wei Chongrong changed into the night disguise and sneaked out of the residence. He had just climbed over the wall when he came across a familiar figure. Wei Chongrong froze, saying, “Hou Wu’an?”
Huo Qingyang was also stunned; then he smiled in understanding and patted Wei Chongrong’s shoulder, “Go on, go on, I’ll help you hide it from Wang Qin.” He definitely empathised with Wei Chongrong at this moment.
Wei Chongrong sighed. Compared to Huo Qingyang’s dark-coloured robe, he was dressed in a night disguise that was not suitable to meet anyone, what a blunder!(5) There was also the fact that Wei Zhao definitely knew about his sneaking out but just pretended not to notice.
Wang Changning’s residence was very close to Wang Qin’s, and Wei Chongrong reached Jun Hua’s window in less than an incense stick’s time.
He knocked gently on the window, but no one answered and it was dark inside, as if no one was there.
Wei Chongrong hesitated, opened the window and jumped in. Although they hadn’t done it many times, he and Jun Hua had slept in the same bed together, and they were going to be married next month, so it wasn’t like there was something to be embarrassed about.
After entering the room, Wei Chongrong heard the sound of breathing coming from the bed. It seemed that Jun Hua was there, but he was already asleep.
Wei Chongrong slowed down and walked to the bed on tiptoe. He was about to wake up Jun Hua to surprise him, but he smelled a faint smell of medicine. Listening to Jun Hua’s breathing, he realised that it was a little heavier than usual, and he couldn’t help being startled. What happened to his Little Monkey? Could it be that he was sick?
He leaned down and pressed his cheek close to Jun Hua’s, only to find that Jun Hua’s body temperature was really higher than normal.
Wei Chongrong didn’t dare to wake Jun Hua anymore. He took off his boots, sat cross-legged on the bed and used his good night vision to take a closer look at Jun Hua’s face in the dim moonlight coming in from the window.
It had been two years since he had seen Jun Hua. His face had completely lost its childishness of the past and become more angular. The more Wei Chongrong looked at Jun Hua, the more he liked him, so he couldn’t help but lean over and kiss him. His movements were very light, just like a dragonfly touching the water, and he was sure that he wouldn’t wake Jun Hua up.
However, Jun Hua moved slightly, called vaguely “Brother Rong…” and took Wei Chongrong’s hand in his.
Wei Chongrong was overjoyed, thinking that Jun Hua was about to wake up. After all, he hadn’t seen him for two years. No matter how many letters of love he sent, there were many things he couldn’t say in them. When he went out tonight, he was going to have a long talk with Jun Hua.
Who knew that it wouldn’t work; Jun Hua didn’t wake up, he just found a more comfortable posture for himself, and then fell asleep again.
Wei Chongrong wasn’t disappointed either. He lay down in his clothes, reached out and took Jun Hua into his arms, and kissed him gently. Afterwards, Wei Chongrong simply put his arms around Jun Hua and fell asleep, still thinking about how surprised Jun Hua would be when he woke up tomorrow.
- Six etiquettes of the wedding ceremony: the proposal 纳采 (nà cǎi), find the bride’s name and birthday 问名 (wèn míng), visit the fortune teller 纳吉 (nà jí), prepare and send wedding gifts 纳征 (nà zhēng), choose a ceremony date 请期 (qǐng qī), the wedding 亲迎 (qīn yíng)
- Meaning that in the field the commander has the right to make his own decisions without waiting for the command from above
- You’ve probably noticed that the kids in the book usually refer to the father who gave birth to them as “Daddy” (Jun Feili, Jun Qing) and the other father as “Father” (they say “Father Wang”, to be exact); in case of Feifei, Wei Zhao is “Father” and Huo Qingyang is “Daddy”
- As you remember, Huo Feifei chose Jiang Che’s son 🙂
- Basically, he’s dressed like a ninja