Please refer to character guide.
The year 1938, the ancient City of Changsha is encapsulated under the grim fog of war. Families of young marriageable girls scurries to marry them off to avoid being the next casualty of war. In the Tea Courtyard Alley lives the Hu family whose 16-year old younger daughter, Xiangxiang, refuses to enter the bond of matrimony. She solicit the help of her twin brother, Hu Xiaoman, to escape from a matchmaking session. Unfortunately, her escape plan is punctuated by her brother-in-law, Xue Junshan. As Head of the Security Forces, Xue Junshan uses his political connections to set up an matchmaking appointment and forces Xiang Xiang to meet Gu Qingming, the only son of a prominent Nationalist government official. Xiang Xiang sees Gu Qingming as a princely snob spoiled by the favors of his powerful family and takes the opportunity to publicly mock his privileged upbringing. After Xiang Xiang inadvertently pricked at his greatest disappointment in life (i.e., his inability to go into real combat), they ended the first meeting on a bitter note.
The Japanese Imperial suddenly launches an air strike and the Hu family's house gets destroyed by the bombing. Entire Hu family decides to take refuge at Xue Junshan's house. Xiang Xiang's father, Hu Changling, has always been unhappy with his domineering son-in-law. The two men end up in a quarrel and Liu Minghan, Hu Changling's nephew by marriage, joins in on the sarcasm against Xue Junshan. Liu Minghan and Xue Junshan are in fact love rivals. Xue Junshan's wife, Xiangjun, was formerly Liu Minghan's childhood love. The young lovebirds separated because Xue Junshan forced his way into Xiangjun's life.
Gu Qingming could not forgive his father for his blocking his desire to fight in combat. He refuses to answer his elderly father's phone calls. When someone reports the discovery of clothing belonging to runaway soldier, Gu Qingming leads the military police track down the deserter. Xue Junshan drags Xiang Xiang to the city's fortifed walls to find Gu Qingming, hoping for Xiang Xiang to give an formal apology. To Xue Junshan's frustration, Gu Qingming and Xiang Xiang start to bicker endlessly before they could even exchange a few words. Xiang Xiang feels deeply indignant and insulted by Gu Qingming's condescending attitude toward her.
Xiang Xiang sees a group of kids stealing cement powder intended for strengthening the city fortification. Determined to make Gu Qingming pay for his belittlement, Xiang Xiang bribes the children to steal larger quantities fo cement powder and cripple Gu Qingming's job.
Gu Qingming arrives at the Hu's household with his soldiers to arrest Xiang Xiang for her deliberate sabotage of the military infrastructure. Since Gu Qingming has already executed the military deserter, the Hu family fears for Xiang Xiang's life and desperately tries to thwart the arrest. Xue Junshan also joins in on the earnest plea, but to no avail. The Hu family could only watch in horror as Gu Qingming takes Xiang Xiang away.