Chapter 59.1: What Happened… to Us?
As expected, Xiaoqi wasn’t able to drink the medicinal soup easily. But every time Song Liangzhuo wanted to feed her personally, Xiaoqi would close her mouth and become stiff and motionless.
Song Liangzhuo sighed and went to stand by the door, watching as she drank the soup, vomited, then tried to drink it again. In the end, it was Mother Song that poured it in while pinching her nose. Immediately after she finished pouring it in, she stuffed a ginger piece in Xiaoqi’s mouth and held Xiaoqi’s chin in place, refusing to let go at any price.
As Song Liangzhuo watched Xiaoqi’s throat spasm in convulsion, his heart ached into a knot.
He’d definitely done something wrong at some time without realizing it.
Mother Song had Qiu Tong help Xiaoqi into bed. She sat next to the bed for a while until Xiaoqi drifted off to sleep before leading the Ruoshui who hadn’t said a word this entire time to the neighboring room.
Song Liangzhuo sat next to the table watching the sleeping person for a while. Soon his legs resisted control and once again moved over. Song Liangzhuo knelt next to the head of the bed, staring blankly at the back of Xiaoqi’s head. In his memories, the only methods she used to show her discontent were to pout, roll her eyes, silently criticize, or torture the other party in her heart. No matter which method it was, they were all lively and cute. This quiet her whose entire body emitted grief caused him to feel helpless and unspeakable heartache.
“Xiaoqi, what are you angry about?” Song Liangzhuo murmured. Lifting his hand, he stroked her hair, then sighed.
Mother Song was very direct. The moment she entered the neighboring room, she asked: “Liangzhuo hit Xiaoqi because of you?”
Ruoshui blinked her eyes and dallied for half the day before nodding. But then she immediately supplemented, “I’ve already apologized to Xiaoqi. Later, she said she didn’t mind and even gave me a hairpin as a present.”
Mother Song sighed, “Why did he hit her?”
Ruoshui cautiously aimed a peek at the Mother Song that was sitting at a corner of the table and stammered, “I-I went to Tongxu to find Zhou gege and c-caused disturbance at his ceremony. Then I pretended to be sick so Zhou gege couldn’t go to the bridal room.”
Ruoshui aimed another glance at Mother Song, then timidly swallowed, “The next day, I invited Xiaoqi to the well. And then, uh, just with a ‘splash’ sound… Then Zhou gege got really angry…”
“She pushed you down?” Mother Song’s voice carried a faint hint of anger.
Ruoshui’s mouth flattened as she cried, “No, Aunt Xue, at that time she was still smiling gently even though Zhou gege didn’t go to the bridal room. I felt like she was the same as that Zixiao and that both of their feelings were fake. I was afraid she’d hurt Zhou gege again. I wanted to chase her away, wuuwuu…”
Mother Song was livid and had to take a deep breath. With a heavy voice, she asked, “What are you crying for? And then you jumped down yourself? What about Liangzhuo? Why would he randomly hit someone?”
Ruoshui cried as she moved up a little and timidly tugged on Mother Song’s sleeve, then said while crying, “Aunt Xue, Aunt doesn’t know. Sh-she was really unreasonable at that time. Zhou gege only glared at her a little and then she just started crying. Zhuo gege just said one small sentence, telling her to apologize, and she started yelling at Zhou gege for lying to her. She said that as an upright and honest official, Zhou gege actually deceived a little lady like her and said that she didn’t want to marry anymore, she wanted to withdraw the marriage. She yelled a lot and even got fiercer and fiercer as she screamed. Everyone in the courtyard was watching. Zhou gege got angry to the point his hands even started trembling. And then, and then she just suddenly pounced over, wanting to hit me. H-her eyes looked like they were going to bleed… I got scared. Then, then Zhou gege just, just slapped her.”
Mother Song sighed, “Then afterwards?”
“Zhou gege didn’t use a lot of strength, really. But Xiaoqi fell. She didn’t get hurt. I saw her look at Zhou gege for a really long while with her eyes wide open, then she even smiled for a moment before closing her eyes. Zhou gege even carried her back to the room and sent for a doctor. Zhou gege even helped her rub her head and rubbed for a really long time. Only when the doctor said that she was fine did he go to the study. After she took a nap, she immediately reconciled with me, and even said she didn’t remember the past and wanted to return Zhuo gege to me.”
“She really didn’t remember?”
Ruoshui had already automatically stopped crying. Holding Mother Song’s sleeve, she sat down to the side. After thinking a moment, she said: “It seems like she didn’t remember anymore. Later when she brought me out to play, she couldn’t even find places and needed Lu Liu to lead.”
Ruoshui swayed Mother Song’s sleeve, “Aunt Xue, what happened to Xiaoqi? It’s like she’s possessed. After that, her personality became a lot better and she didn’t smile so infuriatingly like that Zixiao anymore. When she wanted to smile she would just draw back the corners of her mouth and smile, or just lift her chin smugly.”
Ruoshui wrinkled her nose, “Not like a wise and virtuous lady at all. But, Aunt Xue, Xiaoqi’s a very good person. She said she’d bring me out to play and even let me fish her little koi. It was at that time I decided I liked her.”
Mother Song sighed, then patted Ruoshui’s hand. “Just live at Aunt Xue’s place for these next couple days and play with Xiaoqi a bit more. Everything will be fine once she passes this critical time.”
Lin Zixiao left, but the atmosphere of Song fu didn’t improve and rather became even more stifling. Xiaoqi suddenly couldn’t speak anymore, so the dining hall became noticeably more quiet.
During the meal, Mother Song tried using the conversation to induce Xiaoqi into making a different expression, but sadly, Xiaoqi kept her eyes lowered the entire time. At most, she would only nod her head a little. Ruoshui stuck next to Xiaoqi and would jab her arm from time to time. She originally had a lot to say to Xiaoqi, but Xiaoqi wouldn’t give even a bit of a reaction, so in the end, Ruoshui could only dispiritedly eat.
Because both of Xiaoqi’s hands were wrapped with gauze, she could only use a ladle to eat the food. Song Liangzhuo really wanted to feed her personally, but recalling her rejection during the day, he could only let the matter drop.
Song Liangzhuo paid close attention to Xiaoqi. Concerned about the fact that her throat didn’t feel well, he only picked lightly flavored soft dishes for her. He won an inch as he saw her scoop it up and eat it, but then wanted a foot and directly picked a dish and put it into her ladle. Song Liangzhuo appeared as if he was just watching her casually, but when Xiaoqi ate the side dish in the ladle, he loosened a breath of relief in his heart.
Even though the slight hook of Song Liangzhuo’s mouth was almost unnoticeable, it didn’t escape Mother Song’s eyes. Mother Song sighed in her heart, thinking that this son of hers has always been gentle, so no matter what he shouldn’t have been driven to hit someone. The person on the spot is baffled, but the onlooker sees clearly. He definitely already had feelings for Xiaoqi at that time, that’s why his demands of her were slightly higher than those he had for others. But in the end, there still wasn’t enough love; that was why he would have slapped her. If he really didn’t like her, based on that personality of his, he wouldn’t have married her at all. No matter how pressing a need he had for silver–or if a knife was pressed against his neck–he still wouldn’t have married.
Mother Song silently sighed as she shook her head. How did this son of hers get stupid to the point of using the need for money as an excuse to propose marriage? If they start bickering about what is real, just this one factor was enough to fuel Xiaoqi’s distrust for an entire lifetime. As expected, he seriously was getting dumber and dumber, probably inherited from the old man’s side of the family!
Song Liangzhuo waited until Xiaoqi finished eating, then stretched out his hand while smiling, “Let’s go back. After walking a while, it should be about time to take medicine.”
Xiaoqi look at the hand Song Liangzhuo extended. The finger joints were distinct; it was slender and also somewhat rough. The calluses on that palm were built up during the time he was in Tongxu. When he held her hand and pulled her along, it made her feel very safe. But how much of the way he treated her was actually real?
Xiaoqi knitted her brows and slightly shook her head, then turned to look towards Mother Song.
Mother Song smiled, then said: “Liangzhuo has been worried for you for an entire day, you should head back a bit earlier.”
Xiaoqi saw that Mother Song got up and hurriedly got up as well. Mother Song’s eyes turned and she walked to the entrance of the dining hall. As expected, Xiaoqi also hurried to walk over. When Mother Song moved fast, she also moved fast. When Mother Song slowed, she slowed as well.
Mother Song turned back to look at her son who was standing inside the dining hall and sighed. Then she pulled Xiaoqi as she headed outside while grumbling: “What am I supposed to do with you sticking to me? You can’t very well squeeze into the same bed with me and your dad, right? Liangzhuo is really worried for you. Did you see that he only focused on watching you eat and practically didn’t move his chopsticks at all? Before, it was he that was wrong. Mom will think of a way to punish him, alright?”
Xiaoqi simply buried her little face in Mother Song’s sleeve and hugged her arm as she walked with her.
“Alright, alright, I’ll take you in for a night. Say, look at you! You have a husband that loves you to help you warm your bed. What’s the point of squeezing in together with an old woman like me? Later, when we sleep, know that there won’t be anyone to chat with you ah. I’m tired to death, I need to make up the sleep.”
Mother Song really had foresight; Xiaoqi really wasn’t able to fall asleep. In the past, if she wasn’t plastered over Song Liangzhuo, she was curled up like Ha Pi in his embrace. When she couldn’t fall asleep, there’d still be someone there to coax her, pat her gently and chat with her. To suddenly have to drill into a cold blanket by herself, she really didn’t feel used to it.
Xiaoqi blinked as she looked at the top of the bed curtain frame. As she listened to the light shallow breathing coming from Mother Song next to her, she thought back to all the dribs and drabs of everything that happened since she came to know Song Liangzhuo. She tried hard to think of all the ways he treated her well, but that disgusted look in his eyes kept stabbing at her heart like a determined nail. Just remembering it made her heart hurt to the point she wanted to burst into tears.
Xiaoqi flipped over and moved her bound beyond recognition hand to her mouth and sucked her thumb. It seems like a long time since she has done this. When nervous, lonely, or slightly hurt, she would always do this. Xiaoqi closed her eyes and sucked for a while with knitted brows before finally, with a ‘pop’, pulling it out. Xiaoqi went to wipe it on Song Liangzhuo’s chest out of habit, but after going through the motion for half the day, she still didn’t make contact with anything.
Xiaoqi opened her eyes and stretched out her hand to touch the cold wall. Her lips drew back as she felt sad and started sobbing. Mother Song slightly opened her eyes but didn’t say anything.
Xiaoqi sobbed for half the day, then wrapped the blanket tightly around herself and closed her eyes. Mother Song waited until Xiaoqi fell sound asleep before giving a fatigued yawn. Outside the door, there was the sound of low voices. Following that, Dong Mei walked in carefully and quietly. She took a look at the two on the bed, then tucked in the blanket edges and gently lowered the bed curtain.
Mother Song closed her eyes as she asked softly, “What is it?”
“It was Young Master. He was standing outside the courtyard this entire time, looking at the moon. Earlier, when this servant came in, this servant asked if Young Madam should be informed.”
Mother Song gave an ‘en’ in reply and said: “You should all head to bed early. Just let him look as he pleases.”
Dong Mei agreed, then quietly walked to the outer room. Mother Song truly didn’t have any more energy either. Drowsily flipping over once, she then fell asleep as well.
Credits: Translated by Chiyomira, Proofread by Ocelot