Chapter 24.1
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On the ride back home, Madam Ning did not speak to Ning Qinghuan, creating a heavy atmosphere inside the carriage.

After returning home, Madam Ning kept a stern expression on her face as she made her way to her courtyard with General Ning, Ning Yunlang, and Ning Qinghuan. Then, she had all of the servants on duty withdraw from the courtyard.

Once all of the servants had left, Madam Ning instantly exploded into a flying rage.

"What exactly is going on here?!" Madam Ning demanded. Then, she had Ning Qinghuan kneel on the floor before turning to her husband and asking, "Did you know about it long ago?"

"How could that be possible? I only responded that way because of the urgency at the time. Alright, alright, what are you getting so angry about?" General Ning said in an attempt to appease his wife. Then, he turned to his kneeling daughter and said, "Hurry up and tell Daddy what's going on, Qinghuan. What were you thinking just now? I know you've been independent since you were a child, so I know you wouldn't take such an ignorant action without reason."

General Ning was a father who doted on his daughter very much. Moreover, he had a sufficient understanding of his daughter, so he knew that his daughter wouldn't act foolishly without reason. Thus, his words carried hints for Ning Qinghuan.

"Mom, Dad, I've been an unfilial daughter. However, I truly love Wan'er, so I hope you can support our relationship."

Ning Qinghuan kowtowed repeatedly, the banging sounds she made when her head struck the wooden floor causing Ning Yunlang's heart to ache.

Meanwhile, General Ning hurriedly stopped his daughter's actions and helped her up, saying, "I never said I disagreed, so what are you kowtowing for? You've even used such force. Have you even fully recovered from your injuries yet?"

Seeing her husband's behavior, Madam Ning couldn't find it within herself to continue being strict with her daughter.

When General Ning saw his wife's expression loosening a little, he quickly approached her and stroked her back in the hopes of helping her calm down. While doing so, he looked at his daughter and asked, "So the person you like is Wan'er. Have you two long since thought this through?"

"I have already thought it through. I was the one who fell in love with Wan'er first, so I don't wish to marry anyone. I only wish to be together with Wan'er. The reason I joined the war is also for today's sake," Ning Qinghuan answered. "Mom, Dad, I know you two love me and hope that I can marry into a good family. However, I don't want that kind of life. I know what I want. Our family has Big Brother to continue the lineage, in any case."

Upon being dragged into the conversation, Ning Yunlang quickly smiled and said, "That's right, Mom. Lil Sis will only end up suffering if she marries and gives birth. Now that the situation has already ended up in such a state, you might as well go along with Lil Sis's wishes."

"You three are just grouping up to anger me!" Madam Ning snorted angrily. Then, while massaging her aching temples, she glared at General Ning and demanded, "Why aren't you saying to her?!"

"Oh, what's there to say? I already thought it through on the way back," General Ning said, sighing. "You know as well as I do how stubborn our daughter can be. She even went to the battlefield for Wan'er's sake. What's the point in stopping her now?

"Also, she already made that kind of declaration in front of so many people. There is no use in crying over spilled milk, so just let it be. It's fine so long as she's happy. Not to mention, I'd rather let Qinghuan be with a kind and gentle girl like Wan'er than hand her over to a man I know nothing about. What if that man keeps bringing other women home? Can Qinghuan tolerate such a slight? I didn't raise my daughter just to let someone anger her every day. Wan'er, on the other hand, will definitely listen to Qinghuan's every word. Just treat it as if your daughter had become a son that can't have children."

General Ning was very open-minded about Ning Qinghuan's sexual orientation. However, that was only because she was his daughter. If Ning Yunlang told General Ning that he liked men, General Ning would definitely break his legs.

"You're the best, Dad!" Ning Qinghuan coquettishly hugged her father's arm and beamed a cheeky smile at her elder brother. She knew that her father pampered her the most.

"You really are… Hah… Haven't you considered how other people would look at us in the future?" Madam Ning said, exasperated by her husband's words.

"With their eyes, of course. Be more open-minded, Wife. Also, once we shut our doors, who cares how other people look at us, right?" General Ning nonchalantly said. He had lived through more than half of his life already and knocked on death's door multiple times. Thus, he was no longer as stubborn as he used to be.

After appeasing his wife, General Ning turned to Ning Qinghuan and said, "Even if a path seems crooked in the eyes of others, it is fine so long as you can walk on it smoothly. However, Wan'er currently belongs to the fourth prince on paper. What do you plan on doing about this?"

"I have my ways. You don't need to worry about me, Daddy."

With General Ning's persuasion, Ning Yunlang's assistance, and Ning Qinghuan's coquettish acting and promises, Madam Ning eventually assented to her daughter's wishes, albeit reluctantly. Then, she waved her hand and shooed her son and daughter away. Right now, she needed some time to herself.

Ning Qinghuan never thought her father would take such a cooperative stance in this situation, so she couldn't help but rejoice.

"Feeling better?" Ning Yunlang asked as he walked out of the courtyard together with Ning Qinghuan.

"Of course! I'm overjoyed!"

"You might be happy, but I'll probably be in trouble in the subsequent days."

"It's fine. I'll ask Wan'er and have her see which girl in the capital suits you the most, Big Brother."

"Oh? You're asking Wan'er for help?"

"Don't underestimate Wan'er. She's much smarter than you think. She more or less knows everything that happens in the imperial court. If she were born a man, she would definitely become an important official."

"So she's that amazing… Hold up… Is she working for the fourth prince right now?"

"That's right."

"Tsk, tsk. How amazing."

"I know, right?"

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Ning Qinghuan proudly lifted her chin. Her wife would naturally be amazing.

"What are you going to that side for?"

"To jump over the wall."

"You're leaving the manor?"

"Of course. I'm going to meet with Wan'er, so I won't be coming home tonight."

After saying so, Ning Qinghuan waved goodbye before agilely climbing over the wall and making her way to her destination.

Ning Qinghuan didn't know which courtyard Jun Zishu was staying at in the fourth prince's manor, so after sneaking into the manor, she made her way to the house in the largest courtyard. Then, she snuck into the bed-chamber through the eaves of the house.

As to why she did not visit the manor through the front door, that was to avoid suspicion.

The officials in the court loved to indulge in fantasy when they had nothing better to do, so it was best to avoid giving them any materials to fantasize about. Otherwise, these people might start making rumors about her and the fourth prince.

The fourth prince was given a fright when Ning Qinghuan suddenly landed inside his room. Consort Wang was similarly given a scare.

"How skillful of you, Little General," the fourth prince said with a stiff smile. Even without asking, he already knew what Ning Qinghuan was here for.

Consort Wang had also been at the victory banquet just now, so she naturally heard Ning Qinghuan's proclamation. However, she never thought Ning Qinghuan would appear before her so soon.

"Where is Wan'er?"

"I'll take you there," the fourth prince calmly said as he opened the door. The next moment, he paused and pointed at the hole in his roof, saying, "But before that… Do you mind repairing my roof for me, Little General?"

After Ning Qinghuan fixed the roof, the fourth prince led her to Jun Zishu's courtyard as promised.

When Ning Qinghuan was sneaking into the fourth prince's manor, Little Fairy had already notified Jun Zishu of Ning Qinghuan's arrival. Thus, Jun Zishu had already gotten dressed and was currently waiting for Ning Qinghuan in her room.

"We're here."


Ning Qinghuan thanked the fourth prince and entered the courtyard.

There was still a light lit inside the house, and Ning Qinghuan had the urge to meet Jun Zishu immediately. Yet, when she arrived by the door, she hesitated to open the doors.

What should she say first after meeting her Little Wan'er?

Just when Ning Qinghuan was about to open the doors, she saw the doors opening from the inside.

When the doors parted, a girl with a slender frame appeared in Ning Qinghuan's vision. The girl wore a bright smile on her petite face, and compared to three years ago, the girl looked much more beautiful now.

The flowery words Ning Qinghuan had thought up before vanished the moment she laid eyes on Jun Zishu, and the only thing she could think of saying at the moment was: "I'm back, Little Wan'er."


Jun Zishu nodded. Then, she pulled Ning Qinghuan into her bed-chamber and closed the doors behind her.

Relying on the candlelight, Jun Zishu carefully scrutinized Ning Qinghuan's visage.

Because the war had taken place in a desert, Ning Qinghuan's skin tone looked much darker than it was three years ago. The fragile aura she previously exuded was also nowhere to be seen. Instead, taking its place was a fierce and ruthless aura. Even her eyes gave off a scary look.

Yet, when Ning Qinghuan smiled at Jun Zishu, her eyes were filled with warmth.

"Why aren't you asleep yet this late at night?"

"Of course, it is because I am waiting for you. Why didn't you tell me you had returned? I only found out about it because the fourth prince told me."

"I planned to give you a surprise, but I didn't think you had known about it already." Ning Qinghuan scratched her head, looking a little embarrassed. Then, wrapping an arm around Jun Zishu's waist, Ning Qinghuan asked, "It's been three years. Have you missed me?"

"I miss you a lot. I've been thinking of you every night."

"So did I."

No matter how numbingly romantic their words felt, neither Jun Zishu nor Ning Qinghuan found anything wrong with them.

"Marry me, Little Wan'er."

As soon as Ning Qinghuan finished speaking, she naughtily leaned forward with her lips.

Jun Zishu followed suit and lifted her head slightly to welcome Ning Qinghuan's lips. Then, she cooperatively opened her lips and allowed Ning Qinghuan to steal her breath.

The dim candlelight added an ambiguous tone to the atmosphere. Even after a long time had passed, the two still couldn't seem to get enough of each other.

With her emotions aroused, Jun Zishu started wrestling with Ning Qinghuan using the tip of her tongue.

As soon as one kiss ended, another began.

When the kisses finally stopped, Jun Zishu panted as she answered, "Okay, I'll marry you."

"You won't be my cousin from now on but my wife instead."

Ning Qinghuan tapped a finger on the tip of Jun Zishu's nose and sat her down.


"Call me 'husband,' then."

Ning Qinghuan pushed Jun Zishu down onto the bed, using the opportunity to take liberties with Jun Zishu.


Jun Zishu turned her head away, refusing to let Ning Qinghuan have her way.

"Come on, come on."

"You're not my husband yet, so I refuse. You only know how to take liberties with me."

"I'll do it even more, then."

After the two messed around for a while, they began talking about proper matters.

"What's the situation with Uncle and Auntie?"

"You don't need to worry about that. I've already taken care of them."

"Hm? Have Uncle and Auntie given you their approval?"

"Let me tell you, tonight, I…"

Ning Qinghuan happily told Jun Zishu about her heroic deed in the victory banquet and confidently patted her chest. She also talked about the conversation she had with her parents.

"Anyway, everything is settled. I'll leave my dad to persuade my mom. They pamper me a lot. Although my mom still can't quite accept us now, that might not be the case anymore tomorrow."

"Aren't you a little too bold, Big Sister? What if the emperor gets mad at you? What if Uncle decided to scold you on the spot?"

"It's fine. The emperor hasn't decided which house I should marry yet. Since my decision matches his wishes, it'd be a win-win for both of us. He naturally won't get angry with me. So, just wait for me to marry you."

"But what about my identity? I can no longer use my current identity, so how about I change to another one instead?" Jun Zishu asked. Then, she told Ning Qinghuan about the solution she had previously shared with the fourth prince and Consort Wang. In her opinion, this would be the most effective solution to their problem, so she decided to share it with Ning Qinghuan.

"That works. This seems to be the best solution. Leave it to me."

Ning Qinghuan nodded. In reality, the solution she came up with was something similar to Jun Zishu's solution.

Ning Qinghuan's little stunt in today's victory banquet had already created a lot of trouble for the Ning family. If she boldly married Jun Zishu, who was not only her blood-related cousin but also the fourth prince's concubine, there was no doubt that her father would vehemently oppose her actions.

Ning Qinghuan didn't wish to secretly marry Jun Zishu, either. Instead, she wanted to proudly and officially welcome Jun Zishu as her wife. Thus, coming up with a new identity for Jun Zishu was the best solution. As for the status of the new identity, it did not matter. It was fine so long as Jun Zishu was the identity's owner.

"Mhm, mhm. I trust in your arrangements, Big Sister. However, make sure to find an identity that has a weak body. Many people in the capital already know of my appearance, so it's best if I don't meet with people often."


Ning Qinghuan extinguished the candle and undressed. Then, she laid down on the bed beside Jun Zishu.

"Honestly, it feels like I'm dreaming," Ning Qinghuan exclaimed.

"Even if it's a dream, I will always be with you," Jun Zishu said as she held Ning Qinghuan's hand and squeezed it.

"I have a lot to do starting tomorrow. I absolutely will not spare that fifth prince," Ning Qinghuan said in a chilling tone.

"He's a bad person. I hate him, Big Sister," Jun Zishu followed up, causing Ning Qinghuan to detest the fifth prince even more.

"I'll make sure to send him my regards," Ning Qinghuan said. She would settle both old and new debts with the fifth prince.

"But now isn't the time yet, Big Sister."


"I can't marry you yet."


Ning Qinghuan grew a little anxious. Ever since she returned from the battlefield, she wanted nothing more than to take Jun Zishu back to her nest and make her little cousin hers completely.

"I want to take care of things over here at the fourth prince's side first. Let's get married after the dust has settled, okay?"

"How long must I wait for that to happen?"

Ning Qinghuan was really anxious now. If they had to wait until the fourth prince had risen to the throne to get married, who knew how long they had to wait. After all, the emperor still looked to be in good shape. And although the crown prince had lost the emperor's favor now, there was no saying if he might make a comeback in the future.

"Five months. At most, everything will be a foregone conclusion in five months," Jun Zishu spoke with confidence.

"Do you know something, Little Wan'er?"

"That person will soon fall. He is merely acting tough on the surface right now."


Ning Qinghuan was surprised.

"You, Big Brother, and Uncle should start preparing soon, Big Sister," Jun Zishu said.

Ning Qinghuan pondered over Jun Zishu's words for a moment before falling asleep with Jun Zishu in her arms.