After this episode, the hubbub in the teahouse died down and the women went back to eating their pastries and drinking their tea just as usual. Madam Zhong silently heaved a sigh of relief and then also got back to work, pretending as if nothing had happened.
Finally, it was time to close the teahouse for the night and she returned home. Thinking of how her son would be there when she returned, she smiled to herself, her gaze filled with melancholy.
Even though she would never tell Jing Yi, the past five years had been very hard for her. She had known Zhong Lei since she was a child. Even though she hadn’t fallen in love with him at first sight or anything, she had still come to love him gradually. And after they married, she had always thought that they would spend their whole life together. Who could have known that he would leave her when their child had barely turned ten?
Returning every evening to a home where her husband wasn’t there wasn’t easy at all. Each day, she couldn’t help but feel lonely. She would remember the previous years when he had still been at her side: They would close the teahouse together and then walk home with all three of them, talking and laughing all the way.
Sure, she would sometimes complain about her husband with how we always recklessly promised to help other people and didn’t think things through. She might even call him dumb sometimes but she still loved him. She had never stopped loving him even for a single day. Unfortunately, he would never come back to her.
And the worst of it was that she didn’t even have her son with her after what happened. Just a few days later, he had also left even though it wasn’t for good. Still, not seeing him for five years and even once through the time she was mourning her husband’s loss had made her feel even more depressed.
Still, there was no need to let him know. She didn’t want Jing Yi to think that it was somehow his fault. He had done what he should do. When he got the chance to make his life better, he had done so and he should have done so.
What would it accomplish if he stayed with her? His father wouldn’t come back. So wasn’t it better if he did something for himself? After all, without his father’s backing, they were even more vulnerable. Sure, Zhong Gang had done a lot in these years to make sure that nothing would happen to her and he would’ve done the very same for her son but that didn’t mean that it was easy. A child without its father would always be more vulnerable than one that could rely on both parents. Gaining the support of the Yun Zou Sect and the people there would help him if he ever got into trouble again. What more could she wish for as his mother?
Anyway, she was happy that he was back even if it was only for a week. She should use this time and have him tell her all about what had happened in these five years. Other than his confusion about Qiu Ling and that proposal, he had seemed quite happy. If that was true, then she wouldn’t need to worry anymore. Well, not that she would ever be able to stop worrying about her child’s well-being.
Madam Zhong reached Zhong Gang’s house and wanted to go straight to her room to say a prayer in front of her husband’s shrine and tell him about what had happened today. She had always done so for the past five years in the hope that her words might somehow reach him while his soul waited to be reincarnated. Maybe knowing that his family still cared about him as much as when he was alive would help him not become resentful over how he had died so early. Maybe that would make his next life better. she sincerely hoped for that so she had never stopped doing this.
Before she could make her way over, Zhong Gang’s wife, Mi Fan, came down the stairs and gave a smile. “Ru Chun, you’re back? Zhong Gang also came home just now. Why don’t you come in and sit down already? We’ll be eating in a moment.”
Madam Zhong nodded to greet her but then shook her head. “My son came home. Let me see if he’s come over here already.”
“Your son?” Mi Fan raised her brows. “Jing Yi? I thought he was in that deity sect.”
Madam Zhong nodded. “He is. He came to visit with a martial brother of his. I’ll be right back.”
Mi Fan nodded. “Yes, you go see if he’s already here then. I’ll tell the servants to prepare another seat. That friend of his … Will he be staying here as well?”
Madam Zhong who had already been on the way to her room, stopped in her tracks. Even though her husband was Zhong Gang’s cousin, she had never truly felt that she was a part of this family. Since she was already imposing on them, she wasn’t sure if it would be alright to let somebody else into the house like that. Her son should be alright since he was Zhong Lei’s son and thus blood-related but a martial brother of this? “That … I’m sorry, I didn’t ask about any of that. I was just so happy when they stopped at the teahouse before.”
Mi Fan waved. “Don’t worry about it. We’re not so poor that we won’t be able to put up with one other person. I’m just asking since we’ll need another seat at the table and he’ll probably need a new room prepared as well. Ah, right, your son is already much older now. Do you think he’d like to have a room to himself as well?”
Madam Zhong could only give a wry smile. “To be honest, I do not know. I guess he wouldn’t mind spending a little more time with me but then again, there’s also this person he brought. Maybe he would feel more comfortable if they stayed together?” Not that she doubted for a single moment that Qiu Ling would just leave her son alone. Even if Jing Yi believed that he was alone, that probably wasn’t the case. Well, no need to let him find out like this.
Mi Fan pondered and then nodded. “You might be right about that. How about this? I’ll let the servants prepare a room for two and then we can just ask Jing Yi later on. They can decide together then but the room will already be prepared. If Jing Yi wants to stay with you, that also won’t be a problem. Then that person can just have the room to themselves.”
Madam Zhong nodded. “That’s a good idea. Then I’ll go see if they’ve already arrived and tell them.”
Mi Fan nodded and then went to get a servant. Meanwhile, Madam Zhong went and indeed found the two people inside the room. Looking at them, she really wondered what had happened before. Her son looked slightly embarrassed while Qiu Ling was looking at him with sad eyes. If she didn’t know the two of them better, she might actually have thought that her son had bullied him. Well, that definitely wasn’t the case.