Chapter 114: Affection
Author: White Pear Flower
Translated by Gumihou
Proofread by Pill Bug
The words were said in jest, but they reflected Jin Fengju’s feelings perfectly. Therefore, he hastily grinned and accepted everyone’s teasing and [1a] more or less giggled like a child who had gotten his way as he attached himself to Fu Qiuning’s group. Like a signal, everyone else also got up to leave. As they left Health & Longevity Court, Madam Jiang stared after Jin Fengju and Fu Qiuning’s disappearing figures and frowned. She whispered to Jiang Wanying, “You should have used the excuse of Fengju not being well and stopped him from going to that place. Why are you assisting him instead?”
Jiang Wanying sneered and said, “Surely Aunt has seen how anxious my cousin is? Could I reign him in? All kinds of snacks and delicacies have been offered to him, but he liked none of them. Instead, he treated all the crudely made things from Night Breeze Pavilion like treasures. If this continues, wouldn’t I be treated as the person who tries to block his favour? If I do not let him do as he wishes, even if the person remains at Clear Soft Pavilion, would I be able to serve him well? Instead of letting him be unsatisfied, it is better to let him have his fun at Night Breeze Pavilion.”
Madam Jiang said, “Child, you are confused. The more he is like this, the more you should stop him, ah. Otherwise, what if the affection between those two deepened? What will you do then?”
Jiang Wanying turned to wink at Qiu Xia, who was walking just a step beside her. The maid immediately slowed her steps, making the rest of the entourage trail further behind the two mistresses in front. Once she deemed that there was no one nearby to overhear her, she whispered, “Aunt might not know, but since Lord Husband was injured, that Fu’shi never came to personally visit him. From what this niece could see, it is only Lord Husband who is anxious to go and look after her. Does Aunt still remember? Back in spring, when I questioned Lord Husband about his visits to Fu’shi, he vowed that there had been no man and woman relationship between them.
In short, they have never shared a room. Back then, this niece was careless and did not think much of the matter. Later, Lord Husband grew more and more intimate with them and seeing how Lord Husband favours her, surely they had already become a serious couple? Otherwise, how could Lord Husband praise Fu’shi so much? However, it is clear from the past few days that Fu’shi is unwilling to show her face. Clearly, she still holds a grudge in her heart. If that is the case, and considering my Lord Husband’s gentlemanly character who disdains to force others… I fear that that Fu’shi is still…”
She stopped and looked around again. Then, she placed her lips closer to Madam Jiang’s ear and said softly, “…is still a virgin.”
Madam Jiang frowned. Then, in a heavy tone, said, “How can that be? Even if that is the case, what of it?”
Jiang Wanying smiled, “Is Aunt confused? If that Fu’shi is really a virgin, a woman who had married into the family for over six years, isn’t this a clear indication of her failure to serve her husband? If that is not grounds for divorce, what is? If this is made clear, Aunt need not go through Cousin and could use this as a reason to drive the arrogant and wilful Fu’shi out. Once Cousin returns, the block of wood would have become a boat.”
Madam Jiang gave the matter considerable thought. Finally, she nodded slowly and said, “This is a matter of great importance. We must verify this before striking with one decisive blow. Otherwise, the slightest mistake would turn this into Fu’shi’s advantage against you and me. If that happens, we will no longer have a place to stand within the marquisate.”
Jiang Wanying nodded, “Yes, this niece understands. I shall investigate the matter carefully. Aunt, do be patient for the next few days. With my Cousin’s health being so poor, we still need to endure a little longer. No matter what, we must wait until he is away at court before we can do anything. I dare say, with the emperor favouring him so much, who is to say just how busy he would be? That is when we shall have our opportunity.”
Madam Jiang said gratifyingly, “This child, how thoughtful and clever you are. This is why your reputation within the marquisate is so excellent. Looking back, auntie has not wronged you in pairing you with your cousin. Otherwise, if you had been too pure and straightforward, surely this aunt would have caused you to suffer in a firepit?”
Jiang Wanying hastily laughed and said, “What is Aunt saying? This niece is naturally grateful to Aunt for your arrangement. For a talented man like Cousin, this niece is ready to jump into a firepit regardless of my own safety.”
Madam Jiang also laughed. As for the servants, seeing that whatever private discussion was over, they eventually shuffled forward back into their places.
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Let us speak of the moment when Jin Fengju and Fu Qiuning were leaving Health & Longevity Court.
Jin Fengju was still a little weak. Jin Ming could not bear seeing his master suffer and hurried up to help, but was glared away. Immediately, this sharp servant knew what’s what and smiled wryly to himself: Goodness, it is so difficult to be a servant, ah. If outsiders saw me, wouldn’t they curse me as a wicked slave who mistreats his master? My master is already this weak, and yet here I am, not going over to assist him. If anyone saw this, wouldn’t it damage my integrity as a servant?
Naturally, Fu Qiuning saw the little scheme brewing between those two and did her best to pretend not to see anything. However, Jin Fengju’s complexion grew paler and paler. Moreover, he was shuffling on a slippery floor covered in ice. Unable to bear it any longer, she said, “Aunt Yu, Yu Jie, go and support the Young Marquis, make sure he doesn’t fall over.”
“No, no, no, I do not dare,” Jin Fengju immediately stopped them. He laughed and said, “I am an unloved one, why should I defile you with my bad luck? One is to be married and another is waiting for marriage. Though I am a master, I should still pay attention to the matters between men and women. I am fine walking alone.”
Fu Qiuning [2a] gave him a bland look. The twins could not be called to help, because they were too short [3a]. Nevertheless, there was still one person who could definitely support the Young Marquis. [1b] Fu Qiuning maintained her stare at Jin Ming for a long time until the servant’s neck turned red. Then, she said, “I am unaware that Jin Ming is actually a woman.”
[1b] There was a sudden commotion as the entire garden was filled with coughing people. Jin Fengju, in particular, was nearly doubled over, wheezing from a particularly powerful coughing fit. Fu Qiuning maintained a bland face as she continued, “Please allow me to apologise, Steward Jin. Ah, perhaps I should address you as Miss Jin…?”
[1b] Jin Ming looked mortified. Jin Fengju looked like he was dying. The twins were confused while the maids looked like they were about to burst into laughter. Suddenly, Jin Ming shouted, “I- I have to fetch the Master’s prescription!” and ran away. The servant slipped once on the slippery floor before righting himself and dashing away.
Unfortunately, this led to the original problem.
With Jin Ming having disappeared from the party, there was only Fu Qiuning to support Jin Fengju.
Therefore, she had no choice but to personally walk up to the nearly dying Jin Fengju and support him herself. She really had no choice, if he died there, it would just cause more trouble for her. Looking at the mostly composed Jin Fengju, she said, “I do not understand your self-pitying speech. If Lord Husband is unloved, can anyone in this world be loved? From the emperor to the lowest servants in the mansion, who in this world does not coddle you like a precious treasure? As one who is doted upon by tens of thousands, but still dares to utter such nonsense, are you not afraid of being struck by lightning?”
As for Jin Fengju, now that he had that tender and flexible arm in his possession, felt only elation as he laughed and said, “What do you mean doted upon by tens of thousands? Why is it that each time I see you looking at me, it is like you are looking at a snake? Do not forget, you are still my official wife.”
Fu Qiuning [3b] looked around. Yes, as expected, Aunt Yu and Yu Jie were just a little too far away to be called to take over the stupid job of supporting this inappropriate man. They were watching as the twins played in the snow. As for Jin Ming, that fellow [2a] was not yet back from his self-appointed errand. “[3c] A promise had been made, but why do I get the feeling that I am being blamed for keeping that promise?”
“Well? If I were to admit that I wish to renege on that promise, will you let go of my arm?” Normally, Jin Fengju would have backed off when the conversation reached this point. However, things were different that day. Seeing Fu Qiuning maintaining her silence, he sighed a long drawn-out sigh and said, “Back then, when those corrupt officials sent over a dozen assassins to kill me, I could still stay strong against them with the guards protecting me. I am no slouch in martial arts either, but I was still badly injured when two of their most highly skilled assassins broke through. I suffered a great injury and fell into a coma for two or three days. My life hung in a balance and…”
[1c] Here we go again, thought Fu Qiuning tiredly: Is he going to say that he saw Buddha and has regrets or something?
“…in my dreams, aside from Old Madam, the Old Marquis and Elder Madam, all I saw was your smiling face. I thought back to how you have not forgiven me and thought that I must come back alive to see you. In this way, I survived past the two most dangerous days. Qiuning, you must not blame me for my lack of tact today and how I keep pushing you. In fact, I… cough, cough, cough… after narrowly escaping death, I realised that life is not permanent. That it is better to speak about certain things sooner rather than later. Otherwise, I fear that I shall regret it for the rest of my life…”
[1c] “… …” I knew it. [3d] Bitterly, she thought: Look at those pitiful watery eyes, am I obliged to say yes just because you’re pitiful? Is my lot in life not pitiful too? Why should I be sorry for you and draw the ire of your other women on my head?
“Young Marquis… I believe this is not something that I should answer so suddenly. Moreover, you’re still injured. It is best to be focussed on recovering first,” was Fu Qiuning’s answer. [3e] If at all possible, she wanted nothing to do with this person. However, no matter how dewy-eyed and pathetic he looked then, he was still the Young Marquis of an influential family. Worse, he had the might of the emperor’s affection behind him. Who knew what would happen if she just categorically rejected him?
[1d] He could lock her up, take the twins away, restrict her movements even further, blackmail her with the safety and future of the twins, make Aunt Yu’s marriage to Third Brother Zhang impossible, hint to Aunt Yu about Third Brother Zhang’s betrayal and destroy her feelings for her future husband just to indirectly hurt Fu Qiuning. Hell, he could just break down and force her into bed, so where did that leave her only leverage?
“What if… I insisted on an answer right away?” Jin Fengju was staring at Fu Qiuning intensely, as though trying to will her into making a decision straight away.
“Young Marquis, if you wish to force me, then… very well. This humble woman shall give you an answer…” Fu Qiuning’s voice had turned cool.
Before she could continue speaking, wry laughter from Jin Fengju interrupted her. The man shook his head and with a bitter smile and said, “Never mind, I am still sick and not in my right mind. In fact… I do not mean to force anything. I just, I was afraid that… if I don’t speak out now when I am injured, while you still have a trace of pity for me. You might harden your heart against me once more when I am well again.”
Fu Qiuning’s [3f] hand tightened into a grip, but she quickly loosened her hand. She thought: [3g] In other words, you have just admitted that you are trying to influence my feelings through your injuries? Well, well, I wonder just how true your tale of woe about your injuries is. I heard talk that your chest injuries would be healed within two or three months [1f], so either the healing techniques in this ancient era are far more advanced than the modern world, or, more likely, you have seriously exaggerated your actual injuries.
However… she could not expose his performance, not if she wanted to continue living under his protection. Nevertheless, she could not bring herself to say what he was panting to hear. In the end, she could not help but say with some venom, “Are you trying to elicit this humble woman’s pity? Surely there is no need for such a farce? Don’t you still have many other gorgeous beauties and pretty concubines eager to serve you? This humble woman is nothing but a willow reed next to them. I fear that the Young Marquis may be temporarily fascinated by what is out of reach. Once you have the item in your hand, wouldn’t it be the same as a pair of discarded shoes?”
“Therefore, you are afraid of being abandoned by me? Is that why you refused my attention?” Jin Fengju’s tone suddenly became urgent as he tightly grasped Fu Qiuning’s hand. His eyes were full of expectations as he stared down at her.
[1g] Fu Qiuning looked back with cool eyes. Then, after a while, shrugged and said, “Who knows.”
The urgent fire in Jin Fengju’s eyes slowly dimmed and [3g] Fu Qiuning said blandly, “What is the matter with you today? Why is that cool and unrestrained person acting so hopelessly muddled in front of a woman? Is my answer truly important? You want me to be more than your confidante? [1h] If that’s the case, you can just take me into your chambers as you like. A beautiful woman will eventually become old and ugly, especially once you have known her too long and learned all her faults and shortcomings. Are you saying that you will continue to love her and support her even after all this?”
“Yes,” Jin Fengju nodded resolutely. “Only, it isn’t like that. Once I know her faults and shortcomings, she would still be beautiful to me. So long as she-, no, so long as you do not hide a heart of snakes or scorpions, I will continue to love you.”
[1h] Was the first word that appeared in Fu Qiuning’s mind. She thought: Do you think I am blind? That I do not see how you treat Jiang Wanying? Not developed a heart of snakes or scorpions? Do you really not know how vengeful a woman can be? You are essentially raising snakes and scorpions inside the hearts of the chickens in your backyard. Not only Jiang Wanying, those other concubines clearly have secret thoughts in their bellies already, that poor silly child Jiang Zhenyi has already been instigated by others to become cannon fodder!
The words were brewing inside Fu Qiuning, nearly exploding out of her mouth when Jin Fengju suddenly smiled again and said, “Enough about that. You say that I am hopelessly muddled, but from now on, I shall endeavour not to be muddled anymore. Just now, you said ‘who knows’ but it is still not a complete ‘no’. Otherwise, my heart shall be plunged into ice, knowing that I have no chance at all.”
[1i] This pompous coc-
[1i] It was all Fu Qiuning could do to not curse in front of this- this- she gritted her teeth and said, “This humble woman would like to change her answer.”
Gumihou: This chapter was very difficult for Gumi.
Fu Qiuning: It was difficult for me too.
Pill Bug: Quick, throw this fox back into the other henhouse!
 Added Details
[1a] Added ‘eww’ level of cringe to JFJ’s behaviour because it’s more canon than canon
[1b] Result of [2a]. Like, Jin Ming exists. Since his existence has been pointed out, it had be addressed.
[1c] Fu Qiuning privately rolled her eyes at JFJ’s long monologue. Gumi will not allow Fu Qiuning to be ‘touched by his near-death story’
[1d] Give actual, real worries for rejecting the affections of an obsessed and influential man than vague ‘kyaa~~ b-b-but~~‘
[1e] In place of [3g] add ‘disdain’, cast ‘doubt’
[1f] Added medical details about chest wounds after consulting with Pill Bug who has actual real life medical knowledge
[1g] Rearranged the paragraph to reflect more disdain and less ‘kyaa~~’
[1h] Add some terrible truths, because there is a lack of those. Also, Gumi is hinting at poor Jiang Wanying here. #SadforJiangWanying
[1i] Add details re [1h] and [3h]: Realistic reaction to JFJ’s pompous reaction
 L00p h0les
[2a] Switched out ‘looked at him helplessly’ for ‘a bland look’. AR Qiuning is helpless because her brain had erased the existence of Jin Ming, who was in cahoots with JFJ and not helping the Master. Like, what do you think would happen if you call this behaviour out?
[3a] Deleted long explanation of why the kids could not support JFJ ‘oh too short, oh only tall as his thigh’. It was immediately followed by ‘oh noes, I can only go personally~~’
Haha, no. Activate Card 2a
[3b] Switched out ‘FQN blush’ because that is obviously AR Qiuning. Also, deleted ‘fortunately, no one saw’ because who the f*ck cares if the man is making inappropriate overtures at you? It’s already expected
[3c] ‘Don’t say such meaningless things again’ like, this weak statement could only be construed as slightly whiny, and therefore AR Qiuning
[3d] Delete: ‘AR Qiuning could not help but be moved, he must be sincere, he looks so afraid of rejection, kyaa~~~’
[3e] Replace ‘aahhnn~~ I am too tender hearted~~’ with ‘I have to be careful with this bomb’
[3f] AR Qiuning’s heart trembled, kyaa~~
Fu Qiuning: … who is that idiot?
Gumihou: *sigh* who knows?
[3g] Deleted all Ass Polishing thoughts: This master is too intelligent. He saw through me thoroughly. I did feel a little bit sorry for him. In this era, isn’t it too degrading for a man to speak so gently to a woman? If it had been another man, as a woman, is there anything I could do if he treats me roughly?
Dude, no, wut?
[3g] Deleted: ‘kyaa~ could not bear it~’ and ‘ugh, I stare bitterly at you *bites lip*’ because they are disgusting. Replaced everything with ‘blandly’. Because true pain comes from lack of reaction and not hate
[3h] Deleted: Humph! Humph! If I know, I’d have said no~~ blep~
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