After Prince Wei lifted her veil, he was dragged outside to give a toast.
Feng Sheng was left alone in the large bridal chamber.
Looking around, she noticed just how huge the room was, as well as the bed underneath her. Glancing back at the quilt embroidered with mandarin ducks1 on the bed, Feng Sheng blushed for some inexplicable reason.
The thudding of footsteps rang out, and a few maids clad in blue vests2 filed in from outside.
“Princess Consort, should us servants help you change your clothes?”
“Go fetch my maids. I’m not used to being served by anyone else,” Feng Sheng replied.
Upon hearing this, the head maid bit her lower lip and reasoned, “It’s busy outside right now. Where Princess Consort’s maids are, this servant is not too sure. Princess Consort must not hesitate to order us servants. If Princess Consort refuses the service of us servants, this servant will be punished.”
Was this one of the prince manor’s rules? Feng Sheng knew nothing about the rules, so she didn’t utter a response.
The maids stepped forward to assist Feng Sheng in changing clothes. Fortunately, because the two old momo had tossed her around the past few days, Feng Sheng was no longer unaccustomed to it. She shed off her ceremonial attire and slipped on red bedclothes. Sensing some sweat on her skin, Feng Sheng ordered someone to fetch hot water to wipe her body with.
Once done tidying up, she felt much more comfortable. The maid inquired whether or not she wanted to eat something. At this time, Feng Sheng’s appetite was quite scant, so she shook her head.
The next step was to wait for Prince Wei’s return. Feng Sheng was sitting on a chaise lounge of the highest quality, drowsiness gradually taking over her whilst lolling around. Not knowing when, she dozed off.
When she awoke again, the heavy scent of wine assailed her nostrils.
She opened her eyes, and Prince Wei’s face instantly entered her view. Unsure whether it was because of the candlelight or because he looked rather inebriated, Feng Sheng noticed that his cheeks were somewhat florid.
“How come you fell asleep here? How did you all serve?!” Prince Wei’s sword-like brows frowned as he coldly rebuked the maids.
Feng Sheng was just barely awake and was still a little befuddled when she heard the sound of a few flumps. When she turned her head, she saw the maids kneeling on the ground, all quivering in terror.
She sat up and pulled his sleeve. “I was waiting for you and accidentally fell asleep. It has nothing to do with them.”
Anyone looking could easily tell that Prince Wei’s countenance had softened a lot. His eyes were extraordinarily dark, as if that ‘waiting for you’ had put him in a very pleasant mood.
He perched himself on the chaise lounge and drew her into his arms. “Have you eaten anything tonight? Are you hungry? I had the servants grab something to eat. We can settle down after eating.”
As he said this, the servants delivered the meal and placed it on a large table they had set up.
The two went to the table, refusing to be served and each eating on their own.
In truth, Feng Sheng was not at all hungry, nor did she have much of an appetite. However, Prince Wei incessantly kept depositing food into her small plate. The maids waiting on her at the side looked as though they had seen a ghost, but she failed to notice them as she was brooding over how to gobble the dishes on her plate. Her recent illness rendered her incapable of stomaching too much food, and she would always feel stuffed after eating just a little.
After a few more bites, she could no longer force it down, so she set her chopsticks aside.
Watching her do so, Prince Wei also put his chopsticks down.
“Not eating anymore? Then let’s settle down.”
Prince Wei proceeded to the bath. He dismissed the servant girls who had scurried over to attend to him and strode in the bathroom by himself.
Feng Sheng sat on the bed and listened to the sound of water drifting out from the bathroom, and nervousness overcame her for reasons unknown.
How could she not be nervous? Just then, after saying they would settle down, the maids hastened to fix the bed and spread a white cloth on it.3
What that was for, Feng Sheng naturally knew.
Unable to sit still, she first hopped on the bed, lifted the quilt, and very prudently positioned herself in it. She turned her back and covered her face.
She had heard that the first time would be painful. Exactly how painful it was, Feng Sheng still had no idea. She could only try her hardest to recollect the charming and gentle memories she once had with Prince Wei to ease this tension.
She ruminated over it for a while, but conjuring those scenes in her head unnerved her even more.
Just as she let her mind wander, she sensed a plop on the bed, the quilt being lifted, and the carress of an extremely warm body.
The light was now much dimmer, and the bed-curtain seemed to have been lowered.
A soft chuckle came from behind her. “What? Are you going to just turn your back on me tonight?”
“From behind is also fine.”
Before Feng Sheng could grasp the meaning of his words, he embraced her from behind.
The man’s upper body was unclothed, and moisture still lingered on his sturdy muscles. Feng Sheng had originally been wrapped in a quilt and was thus a little warm. Suddenly, a thin layer of sweat dampened her skin.
She struggled but to no avail. This intimate position rendered her too passive, fully reminding her of the huge disparity between a man and a woman.
Fervid breath brushed on her delicate skin. The blinder she was to his advances, the more sensitive she was. His lips grazed the nape of her neck. Feng Sheng trembled as he kissed her, like a small beast driven into a corner, and could only let out helpless pleas.
“Spared you a few times before, but not this time.”
The hot palm dug in along the gap, merely touching. The person in his embrace shook as if she was falling apart.
Prince Wei never knew that Fang Feng Sheng could be so fragile. In his heart, this woman had always been fearless. He admired her, hated her, was annoyed at her, yet loved her dearly. Perhaps he did feel some desire in the beginning, but in the end, desire came last.
Only now did he realize that he wanted her so desperately that he felt like his body would split apart.
A man’s kiss was never tender and touching. It was always unyielding, leaving one no room to refuse. Feng Sheng thought she could hide her face the whole time, but he just wouldn’t let her. He persisted in prodding her to turn around, prying her hands away from her face to confront him.
It shouldn’t be like this. Those days in the wolf cave when they relied on each other to survive, such a thing never happened. No other time threw her into as much panic as now.
Was this realizing there was no turning back?
Back then, impetuous as he was, she was still certain he wouldn’t touch her if she didn’t want him to. This time, however, her certainty had waned, because she knew he would definitely never let her go.
When Feng Sheng’s voice grew hoarse, Prince Wei finally released her from his grasp.
In a daze, she sensed someone come in, pick her up, and carry her to the bathroom to wash her. In there, they went at it again until she ultimately fainted.
When she awoke once more, her head throbbed, her eyes hurt, and she felt sore all over. She caught sight of the vague candle flames that hadn’t yet been extinguished and guessed that it wasn’t yet bright. She stirred just a little, and the arm that was originally on her body looped around her to pull her closer.
Too weak to open her eyes, she simply reached out her hand and pushed him with the feeblest of strength. He seemed to have sat up. Ensconced in his arms, she could feel something press against her mouth. The sweetness of water teased her nostrils, and she subconsciously opened her mouth to gulp a few mouthfuls.
After draining the cup of water, she finally felt more comfortable.
“You’re not allowed to move me again……”
Muttering ambiguously, she drifted back into slumber.
This sleep only lasted until the sun was three poles high. Feng Sheng was unaware that the maids serving her were already waiting outside.
From the time of the rabbit to the the time of the snake,4 not a stir could be heard from inside the room.
Based on the rules, a Prince of First Rank ought to enter the palace with the Princess Consort to pay respects to the emperor the day after the grand wedding. However, the two masters hadn’t yet risen. What should they do?
Prince Wei usually only had eunuchs serve him, but this time, he had picked a few maids to serve Feng Sheng. Those maids didn’t dare go in and call out, so they could only stand pitifully outside.
One of them approached De Wang for a query. De Wang was starkly conscious of just how many years his master had been pining for the princess consort, who had consumed his thoughts day and night. With great difficulty, he finally married her and took her in the bridal chamber. Shouldn’t he thoroughly cherish this moment? Who would even dare be foolish enough to have bad luck befall them?
Since De Wang didn’t dare go, the rest similarly didn’t dare.
Little did they know that Prince Wei had already awoken and was applying medicine all over Feng Sheng’s body. It was just that she still wasn’t awake, so he didn’t call for anyone.
It wasn’t until midday that the sound of movement arose from inside.
As though granted amnesty, De Wang abruptly took the lead, and in tow were a few maids who came in succession.
The dragon and phoenix wedding candles that were placed on the cabinet had already been snuffed out.
The curtain hung low. Prince Wei stood in the room with his arms bare. There were thin and faintly red traces on the back of his shoulders. Those in the room could only steal a brief glimpse and would dare not take another look.
On the bed, the bed-curtain was still down, but they could indistinctly make out a person with long hair draped over her shoulders sitting inside.
De Wang bid two young eunuchs to serve Prince Wei, while Dong Mei and a few others approached the front of the bed.
“Princess Consort, this servant will help you up.”
“I’ll just do it myself. No need for you to serve.”
Dong Mei and the others looked towards Prince Wei, promptly hanging their heads. Teeth clenched, they all knelt down.
“What are you all doing?”
Feng Sheng raised the bed-curtain and revealed her face, but without anyone knowing why, she let out a low cry.
Prince Wei had just donned his outerwear, and his belt was still unfastened.
Seeing her like this, he waved his big palm and ordered, “Leave the things there. You all withdraw.”
Dong Mei and the others swiftly withdrew as though granted amnesty.
He lifted the bed-curtain and sat on the outer side of the bed. Feng Sheng averted her gaze, her eyes meandering elsewhere.
“You are the master. They ought to serve you. You have to get used to it.”
“Get used to it? You made me like this!” Her angry voice hinted that she had spoken through gnashed teeth, as though close to flying into a rage out of shame.
Prince Wei’s expression relaxed. “Come, let me take a look.”
“You, go away!”
Gritting her teeth, she snatched up the bed-curtain and, except for where Prince Wei was, covered the bed tightly. Then, she very laggardly clothed herself.
Only after putting on her inner garments did she lift the bed-curtain.
“I’ll have someone fetch water for you to bathe. We have to enter the palace after the noon meal.”
“Enter the palace?”
Feng Sheng was not quite versed in the rules of entering the palace to pay respects the day after the grand wedding, so Prince Wei briefed her about it. Noticing the faint creasing of her brows, he assured, “Don’t be afraid. We’ll just go pay respects to Imperial Father, Empress Mother, and Consort Mother.”
“The Empress is the Crown Prince’s mother.”
“You are Fang Feng Fu’s sister, not himself. She dislikes you at most.”
“It’s not that I’m afraid. Alright, since you say it’s fine, then it’s fine.”
After that, the maids hauled in hot water, and Feng Sheng soaked herself in a hot bath.
During this time, the maids caught a glimpse of the blue and red on her body. How ashamed and embarrassed she felt, it need not be mentioned. After partaking the noon meal, Prince Wei entered the palace with Feng Sheng.
1 The word for mandarin ducks in Chinese is yuānyāng 鸳鸯. This can also mean an affectionate couple, or a happily married couple. On the saucier side of things, the phrase ‘Mandarin ducks playing in water’ (鸳鸯戏水 yuānyāngxìshuǐ) is a figure of speech for making love.
2 The servants’ attire look something close to this. The blue vest actually extends downward, so it’s like an apron of some sort.
3 White cloth as proof of consummating their marriage, assuming the bride is a virgin, since the hymen is ‘supposed to’ bleed when it breaks and all. However, I just wanna say that this doesn’t happen to all women. Hymens vary from person to person.
4 The time of rabbit (卯时 mao shi) is 5-7 am, while the time of snake (巳时, sì shí) is 9-11 am. The Chinese zodiac breaks the day into 12 two-hour periods instead of 24 of the one-hour variety. These 12 two-hour time periods are called 时辰 (shí chen), or ‘long hours.’ Some of you might be familiar with that term. I’ve just been translating one shichen as two hours for simplicity.