The two weeks went by in a flash. Yu Huang Rong reappeared in the capital, shocking everyone. The people waited for something to happen but the young General was never ambushed in broad daylight. Then, the news of his impending wedding spread as well, making everybody go crazy and the streets drown in the buzz of gossip.
Meanwhile, the two families were busy preparing for the big event. Gifts were exchanged, clothes prepared, the venue decorated. The place they had chosen for the wedding was the estate that Luan Xin had gifted them. By now, all their personal belongings had been moved in and their families had made it a point to ensure that they wouldn’t lack anything else either. By the time they arrived, they would probably be greeted by the sight of a fully-staffed estated that would look as if it had been run for several generations already.
Yu Huang Rong smiled at the thought. He had just gotten up and his heart couldn’t help but flutter. Today would be the day when he finally got married to the person he had loved for so many years. This was a dream come true.
He washed up and then opened the box that held the wedding robe. He opened the lid and looked at the bright red fabric. His lips curved into a smile and he brushed over it with his fingertips. Right now, Zhang Shi Lan should also be doing this, right? He should be preparing for their wedding as well. Maybe he was also admiring the fabric or maybe he was already …
Yu Huang Rong coughed and pushed the thought aside. There were still many hours until their wedding night. He definitely shouldn’t think of Zhang Shi Lan changing his clothes now. It would only make things awkward.
He took out the robe and sighed, his eyes radiating with happiness. He put on the robe with practiced moves. It was just wearing a robe, something he had done more than ten thousand times in his life. It didn’t require conscious thought. But today … His fingers shook a little and his heart palpitated. The fabric gliding over his skin seemed to whisper of the sweet future he would soon experience. It felt as if … he was truly beginning a new life at this moment. Just a few more hours and what he had only been able to imagine for so many years would come true.
In another house in the capital city, Zhang Shi Lan looked at the mirror and brushed the embroidered belt around his waist with his fingers. He looked … Well, he looked like a man about to marry. Even though he had sometimes tried to imagine this, he had never thought that it would one time become reality.
He let out a light breath and then smiled at himself in the mirror. What was he still thinking? Fate had given him such a nice surprise. He should hold his head high and directly go toward it.
He sat down and combed through his hair, braiding a few strands to make sure that his hair wouldn’t fall into his face before he pulled everything back to secure it behind his head. He reached out for a hairpin and then hesitated which one to take. His normal hairpins were rather simple. There were a few that were more fitting for the occasion but … He couldn’t help but feel that this wasn’t right.
He awkwardly sat there and finally opened a chest at the side, taking out the hairpin that Yu Huang Rong had jokingly gifted him the day they met with Qian Mu Qing. It looked a little too girly for his taste but this was something that came from Yu Huang Rong, after all. Wearing it on their wedding day with them being the only two people who knew what it was about … that didn’t sound too bad.
Zhang Shi Lan shook his head with a smile and finally inserted the hairpin. Taking a last look at himself in the mirror, he got up and left the room.
Madam Zhang was standing outside, tears in her eyes. "Ah, child, I can’t believe you’re actually getting married." She reached out and cupped his cheeks, taking a long look at him so she would never forget this moment. Never mind that he wasn’t bringing a beautiful girl home and would instead move in with another man. At least her son was alive and happy. Just look at how brightly he was smiling! He was basically glowing with love! This was how it should be.
Mister Zhang also looked at his son. His mood was more complicated but by now, he had managed to make his peace with the situation. Anyway, there was nothing that could be done about it. The fact that Shi Lan was in love with the General was in his favor. Otherwise, it truly would be a humiliation to have to marry him. No, over all, this was still better.
Mister Zhang waited for his wife to calm down before he pulled his son aside and took his hands. "Shi Lan, you’re going to get married. This isn’t anything I ever expected in this manner so we’ve never truly spoken about how you should behave after entering the other family. There is nothing that can be done about that now either so just do your best. Don’t make trouble for the General’s family, take care of yourself well, and if there’s a problem, you can always count on your own family. Just come and tell us if there is something wrong. I might not have the same amount of influence that the two Generals have but I will find some way to help my own son."
Zhang Shi Lan nodded but still couldn’t help and give a smile. "Father, you’re making it sound as if I was supposed to march to war with him. I’m just getting married. I’m sure there will be no problem at all."
Mister Zhang sighed and patted his son’s shoulder. "Young people, ah. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you if things don’t work out as you think they’ll do. Right now, he is still feeling guilty because of what happened before. But how do you know it will stay that way? Maybe half a year or a year from now, he will have forgotten about what you’ve done for him. What then? Do you really think he’ll still treat you as nicely?"
Zhang Shi Lan gave a faint smile. "Well, maybe half a year or a year from now, he already will have fallen in love with me. Or do you think that your son has no charm at all?"
Mister Zhang sighed and shook his head. There really was no use in talking to this child. He just didn’t understand that they were really worried about him. "Well, if you’re so sure about this, then let’s not talk about it. Anyway, you should set off now. It wouldn’t do for you to arrive late to your own wedding. For this kind of thing, you always have to observe the auspicious hour."
Zhang Shi Lan nodded and then glanced at his mother. "Well, I guess I’ll go then. Three days from now, I’ll return home. Don’t worry too much until then. The General certainly won’t bully me."
"If he does …" Madam Zhang slightly furrowed her brows. Unfortunately, there was nothing they would be able to do if the General really wanted to bully their child. She sighed and also patted his shoulder. "Just try your best. Even if he doesn’t fall in love with you, I don’t think he would find you so disagreeable that he wouldn’t be able to treat you nicely."
Mister Zhang nodded. "Yes, and if you really can’t take it, then go complain to his parents. The older General seemed to be quite fond of you when we visited the competition at the Academy. He might help you against his son."
Zhang Shi Lan nodded. "Mn, I’ll keep it in mind." He would definitely keep it in mind and then tell Yu Huang Rong about it. Who would’ve known that his lover’s image in his parents’ mind would be like this? He also wondered what Yu Huang Rong’s parents would think if they knew this. But now wasn’t the time for that. No, now, he would go and get married.
He took another look at his parents and then turned around and left the house, walking to the carriage that was already waiting in front of the door. Originally, he had been supposed to travel to their new estate in a sedan but he had refused to do so.
He wasn’t a bride that could be carried to her new family’s doorstep. He was a man marrying into another family. He refused to do things how they were supposed to be for a woman. In fact, he had even demanded to ride over just like Yu Huang Rong would do. But that, in turn, had been refused vehemently by both their families and Yu Huang Rong had gone along.
It wasn’t that his fiance would have had any problem with him riding to their new home but he was still supposed to be gravely injured. How would he be able to take the ride there? It wouldn’t be good for his body.
Thus, in the end, the two families had decided that it would be best for him to use a carriage that they would decorate in the same way that Yu Huang Rong’s horse had been prepared for the occasion. That way, he wouldn’t put a strain on his body while still not being treated like a woman.
Zhang Shi Lan had first hesitated but in the end, he had given in. Considering the circumstances, this was truly the best way to go about this. And it wasn’t like he would be less of a man just because he didn’t ride to his own wedding.
One of the servants helped Zhang Shi Lan into the carriage and then they set off. He looked back at the house where he had lived for over two decades and sighed to himself. Now, there were only a few more hours until he would get married to the love of his life.
It was strange to think that they had only gotten closer in the last few months. But even though that was the case, he still felt that they had gotten to know each other much better. That Yu Huang Rong was able to find such a compromise for him was more than enough proof of that. Yes, this wedding was being held at the right time. Not too soon but not too late either. Today was precisely the right day for it.