Teahouse Chronicles (4)

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Qin Qin’s money is my money, and my money is still my money

The sun rises three poles high.

Murong Yan, Song Shu Qing, and Zi Yan sat on the first floor, chatting and eating pastries.

Meanwhile, Wang Wei, the eccentric and crazy researcher, refused the proposal to have a New Year’s Eve dinner with everyone yesterday. So as soon as Ming Qin got up the next day, the young, worried shadow guard, fearing that Wang Wei would go hungry, carried a food box to deliver a meal to him.

“Qin Qin hasn’t come back for so long. I guess she’s been kept as a guinea pig by old man Wang Wei again.” Yawning, Song Shu Qing cut fruits with a dagger and said.

Boiling water for tea, Zi Yan tilted her head and asked, “Do Doctor Wang and Qin Qin have a good relationship? Did they meet in the palace?”

“I remember they got acquainted during an assigned guard duty by our master.” Song Shu Qing reminisced while arranging the cut fruits on a plate. “After all, Qin Qin is so obedient, and Wang Wei is always restless. Whatever he asks her to do, she does without refusing. That guy finds her quite convenient to have around.”

“From what I see, Qin Qin is genuinely likable and polite. She gets along well with everyone,” Zi Yan sighed while preparing tea for everyone.

“Hey, hey, dear Zi Yan, how can you only mention Qin Qin?” Song Shuqing propped up her head and asked, “What about me? I get along well with everyone too. I’m so likable and polite! Why don’t you praise me?”

Unconsciously referring to Wang Wei as 『Old Grouch』, 『Crazy Old Man』, or 『That Guy』, Song Shu Qing protested with widened eyes.

Knowing her beloved’s mischievous and playful nature, Zi Yan pursed her lips and didn’t say anything. She quietly stood up intending to serve tea to Murong Yan, but she politely waved her hand, declining the offer.

Muran Yan only poured herself a glass of water and glanced at Song Shu Qing sitting across from her. She lowered her gaze and spoke softly, “Ah Qin is indeed very likable.”

“Hey! You all are completely ignoring me. Is there no justice left in this world?” Song Shu Qing took the tea from Zi Yan and pretended to angrily slam it down.

Zi Yan reached out and gently held the hand of the shadow guard to offer reassurance. Then she turned to the woman drinking water and curiously asked, “Princess, how did you and Qin Qin get to know each other?”

Swallowing the water in her mouth, Murong Yan tilted her head, contemplating how to answer.

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“I know.” Song Shu Qing raised her empty hand, wearing an expression of 『I have everything under control』. “It was when Qin Qin came to her room seeking help to escape for her life. After that, to repay her, she brought her delicious food every day. And then the princess was captivated by Qin Qin’s straightforwardness and fell in love with her.”


Zi Yan couldn’t bear to see her beloved shadow guard in such a light-hearted conversation and sighed, “Why does Miss Song make it sound so easy…”

“Song Shu Qing’s words are not entirely wrong,” Murong Yan nodded slowly after taking another sip of water. “The encounter between Ah Qin and I was indeed not complicated, just a series of coincidences.”

Or perhaps, the seemingly coincidental perfect fate was actually predestined.

After all, they were meant to be together.

“But if it weren’t Ah Qin who climbed the tower that day, the course of events might not have turned out this way. If it were a man, I’m afraid that the moment he approached, if I couldn’t harm him in the slightest, I might have taken my own life…”

Curiously tilting her head, Zi Yan asked, “What if it were a woman similar to Ah Qin?”

“Hmm… I’m not sure about an ordinary woman, but if it were Song Shu Qing who climbed the Hidden Moon Tower that day, I might have thrown her off the tower…” The woman’s voice sounded ethereal. “Or perhaps let the pursuing authorities take her away on the spot.”

She wore an expression of nonchalance.

“I agree.” Song Shu Qing nodded solemnly with a stern expression on her face, looking convinced.

She turned to the slightly startled Zi Yan and said, “Wife, don’t doubt the princess. She’s capable of such cold-blooded actions. She really can do it.” Memories of being threatened with a hairpin by Murong Yan flooded her mind, causing the shadow guard to feel a chill down her spine.

“Yeah, after all, you’re not as likable as Ah Qin.” Murong Yan casually remarked, poking at a sore spot.

Choking on her drink, Song Shu Qing opened her mouth, attempting to retort but unable to produce substantial evidence. She turned to the woman beside her, seeking reinforcements. “Zi Yan, look at the princess here. She’s really sharp-tongued! Quickly tell her how likable I am.”

But Zi Yan only pursed her lips, suppressing her laughter, finding her restrained beloved amusing.

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“You only need to be likable to Zi Yan, why do you need to be liked by so many people?” Murong Yan raised an eyebrow as she toyed with the tea set on the wooden table. “I thought everyone in the Shadow Guard Camp believed in lifelong devotion to one person. I didn’t know Song Shu Qing had such thoughts. Could it be… an excess of energy?”

“I…” Not knowing which part to admit and which part to deny, Song Shu Qing, who was usually quick-witted, found herself at a loss. Her face, which always seemed to invite trouble, wrinkled in frustration.

Seeing Song Shu Qing in such a state, Zi Yan finally couldn’t help but chuckle and reassured her, “Miss Song is indeed quite likable.” She refilled the shadow guard’s empty cup with some tea.

Just as she was about to change the topic to divert Song Shu Qing’s attention, Cao Yun walked out of the room.

“Lord Cao, you’re awake?” Greeting him, Zi Yan picked up a new empty cup. “Would you like some tea to sober up?”

Nodding, Cao Yun, whose appearance was unusually disheveled, sat down. He looked puzzled. “It’s strange, the back of my head feels like it has a big swollen lump. It’s hurting badly.”

Murong Yan blinked her eyes, clearly not the culprit, yet she nervously took a sip of water. Fortunately, she was adept at controlling her expression, and no one noticed her peculiar behavior.

“I’m back!” As luck would have it, just at that moment, Ming Qin, who should be held accountable, opened the door and cheerfully greeted everyone, “Ah, Senior Brother Yun, you’re awake?”

“Yeah, good morning, Qin Qin.” Rubbing his head, Cao Yun greeted his junior sister.

“What happened to your head?” Taking a piece of cut fruit, Ming Qin sat next to Murong Yan and looked at her senior brother in pain.

“I woke up this morning and found it swollen. I’m afraid I accidentally bumped into something while drunk yesterday.” Waving his hand to indicate that it wasn’t a big deal, Cao Yun took a sip of tea.

“I see.” With an understanding expression, Ming Qin nodded solemnly. “After all, Senior Brother’s tolerance for alcohol is poor, so it’s normal to stumble around. Please be more careful in the future, Senior Brother, and don’t drink too much.”

Listening to their conversation, this time it was Murong Yan who couldn’t help but cover her mouth and laugh silently.

Looking back and forth between the two shadow guards with similar alcohol tolerance and the swollen bump on Cao Yun’s head caused by Ming Qin’s rough actions, Murong Yan didn’t know whether to tell them the truth.

“Oh, by the way.” Just then, Cao Yun took out two strings of copper coins from his pocket and handed them to Ming Qin and Murong Yan respectively. “Qin Qin, Miss Murong, it’s New Year, here’s some lucky money. It’s not much, just a token of my appreciation.”

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Murong Yan also took out a small bag of silver from her sleeve and handed it to Zi Yan across the table. “I’ve known you for a long time, so please accept this for now.” She didn’t hand anything to Ming Qin because she had secretly placed a stack of silver under the shadow guard’s pillow earlier.

Unaware of the situation, Ming Qin didn’t mind at all that Murong Yan didn’t give her anything. She simply took the copper coins given by Cao Yun, her face full of smiles, and thanked him happily.

On the contrary, Zi Yan felt a bit unsure as she looked at the two people in front of her, hesitating whether she should reach out her hand.

“Oh, don’t worry, just accept it. They both have money,” Song Shu Qing lightly nudged the woman’s stiff back and urged her, “I’m so envious. I wish I had something to receive.”

Carefully, Zi Yan accepted the offering and stood up to express her gratitude to the two. She couldn’t remember the last time she received lucky money.

Was it eighteen years ago? Twenty years ago?

She didn’t know.

Even before that, as an older sister, she was always asked to make sacrifices, and even if she received money, it would be spent on snacks for her younger siblings…

Zi Yan blinked and handed the two items in her hand to Song Shu Qing.

“Hmm? Why are you giving them to me?” Song Shu Qing pushed the woman’s hand back and gently touched her cheek, tenderly advising, “This is your money, it belongs to you. You can handle it however you want, whether you want to save it or buy rouge, it’s up to you.”

She chuckled softly, “If the rouge you want to buy is too expensive, I still have some here.” Tilting her head, Song Shu Qing said playfully, “Although my wallet has always been flat, there’s no problem in preparing some pocket money for my wife.”


Upon hearing her senior sister’s words, Ming Qin tilted her head and handed the copper coins in her hand to Murong Yan, who always managed her finances. She asked, “But, when I was young in the camp, Senior Sister always said, 『Qin Qin’s money is my money, and my money is still my money』.”

Imitating Song Shu Qing’s tone from her youth, she gestured.

“Yes, even later, Foster Mother couldn’t bear it and repeatedly advised Ming Qin to take care of her own money, and Junior Sister Song didn’t succeed,” Cao Yun added calmly as he raised his cup.

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“Hey! Can you stop bringing up my past?” Rolling her eyes, Song Shu Qing waved her hand dismissively. “Those are all things of the past, and besides, it was clearly Da Linzi who started it first. Don’t blame me.”

Turning back to Zi Yan, she whispered, explaining, “Don’t listen to them. I was just mischievous and joking back then. I won’t be like that anymore. Your money is your money, so keep it safe, alright?”

Feeling the care in everyone’s eyes and the whispers of those around her, Zi Yan felt her heart burning.

Always considering others, always sacrificing for the family, in this small teahouse far away from home, she felt as though she was being cherished.

The reserved and observant Cao Yun, the calm and mature Murong Yan, the passionate and straightforward Ming Qin—being the eldest sister, she felt a warmth she had never experienced before, as if she had gained more support.

And then there was Song Shu Qing.

Her beloved, kept deep in her heart.

Her eyes welled up with warmth.

“Sob, take them.” Song Shu Qing reached into her pocket and took out a red envelope and a clean handkerchief, handing them to the woman who kept her head low. “These are what I wanted to give you. Originally, I planned to give them to you later, but it seems I should give them to you now. Otherwise, if they don’t see it later, they’ll say I’m stingy.”

She intentionally turned her head and stared at the teacup on the table. “Although compared to New Year’s money, it seems the handkerchief would be more useful for you.”

She gently patted Zi Yan’s head, wearing a face of relief. “You’re such a crybaby, but luckily I had foresight and prepared many handkerchiefs.”

The atmosphere of gratitude was shattered as the woman, who had tears in her eyes just moments ago, clenched her fist, ready to raise it and hit Song Shu Qing. Sensing this, Song Shu Qing quickly stood up and ran away.

“Hey, hey, don’t be angry! While I was shopping for New Year supplies, I took advantage of the discounts and bought dozens of them.”

Standing from a distance, though her words sounded playful, there was a hint of possessiveness in the eyes of the shadow guard. “As someone with a loving and generous wife like me, Zi Yan, you must treat me well.”

In this small teahouse, today, it remained lively.

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