Chapter 1.1: Recovery From Great Illness
It was the last lunar month of the year. The days were biting cold and snowstorms were frequent. In the mornings, ice and snow could be seen all over corridors and pathways. When the winter sun hit the hanging icicles just right, they would shine and glitter, making the residence look particularly dazzling.
The weather slowly cleared up as the day went by, and the rare sun peeked out from behind the clouds.
Xu Mu’s face was still quite pale, despite feeling better in the past few days. The originally white and tender face, comparable to fresh dew in the morning, was now dry and chapped. Only, his bright, grape-like eyes contrasting on a pale, sickly face appeared to be particularly stunning. Now, those eyes were fixed onto the icicles that could be seen through the window.
During the winter seasons, Lu Feng would always love to jump up and grab at the icicles hanging on the eaves. She would tease Xu Mu and laughingly say that they were sweet and quite tasty. Xu Mu would always be too hesitant and never asked Lu Feng for a taste.
However, she said it so sincerely that Xu Mu, who originally doubted her, slowly started to believe her. Like being lightly scratched at by a cat, Xu Mu became eager and longed to taste the icicles.
Lu Feng’s father would always scold her for being so unruly, especially since she was already close to marrying age. He would say not to touch such cold things and would start to scold her once again. This was also the reason as to why Xu Mu was unable to taste the icicles that Lu Feng said were so sweet.
So, when no one was around, he would secretly tug at Lu Feng’s sleeve and flash her an endearing smile. He would then stare at the icicle in her hand like a puppy wagging its tail for treats. Lu Feng almost laughed aloud.
Afraid that Xu Mu would actually grab the icicle in her hand, Lu Feng stretched out her hand just out of Xu Mu’s reach. When it seemed like Xu Mu would jump up to try and grab it, Lu Feng quickly consoled him and said, “This is too cold for you, you’ll get sick if you try it.”
Xu Mu struggled to decide between getting sick or finally satisfying his curiosity. However, before he was able to decide, Lu Feng opened her mouth and took a large bite of the icicle. Right when Xu Mu was not paying attention, Lu Feng reached out to tilt his face towards her and leaned down to feed him it with her mouth.
The cool, frosty piece of ice was stuffed into his mouth using the tip of her tongue. Xu Mu was stunned and immediately responded by trying to push the ice back out of his mouth. That, however, was done in vain as Lu Feng had already put her hand on the back of his head and held him securely in place. Xu Mu was unable to move and could only let their lips be pressed tightly against each other.
The ice melted between the tangle of their lips and tongues. Because he was unable to swallow in time, the mixture of melted ice and saliva leaked out from the corner of his lips. Xu Mu was so ashamed that his face turned bright red. In retaliation, he reached out and pinched Lu Feng’s waist.
Clearly, she was trying to kiss him, but she just had to use the icicle as an excuse! She even tricked him into thinking it was sweet!
Lu Feng, after successfully eating Xu Mu’s tofu, held his waist with one hand and used her sleeve to wipe his mouth with the other. She smiled and leaned down to rub his forehead against hers. She then satisfyingly licked her lips and whispered in his ears: “It really is very sweet~.”
Xu Mu blushed and his heart immediately started to race.
At that time, they had not yet married. He had always thought there would be many more sweet days like this to come. However, he still believed that, before marriage, one should act with mannerisms to keep others from talking and spreading rumors…
If only he had known their marriage was going to be so fleeting, Xu Mu would’ve let her kiss and hug him all she wanted… If only…
When the news of Lu Feng’s death arrived from the border, Xu Mu did not know what expression he had on his face. He only felt as if his entire body was submerged in a freezing cold lake. His mind became completely blank.
They had only just married, they didn’t have enough intimacy yet, and they didn’t have children yet. How could she be so cruel to leave by herself and leave him behind all alone?
The feeling of complete despair rushed up from the bottom of his heart, and the heat rushed straight into his eyes. Xu Mu’s pair of dull, lifeless eyes suddenly appeared to be misty, blurring the sight in front of him.
The icicles hanging from the eaves merged with the snow-covered rooftops, as Xu Mu’s eyes became entirely filled with blurry, trembling teardrops. His chest tightened and throbbed with pain. Xu Mu leaned his head back, balled his hands into fists, and thumped on his chest. Only by doing that was he able to catch his breath. His tears dripped from his cheeks onto his outer clothes, making the cloth sodden.
His sight cleared, and when he finally looked down at his hand, he was amazed. The palm of his hand was tender and soft; there were no signs of his old calluses at all. This was clearly the hands of his nine-year-old self!
When he was around twelve to thirteen years old, his hands already had developed a layer of calluses. In order to nurse his sick father back to health, he desperately made as many pastries as he could to sell and make money. Later, after his father died, he met the sweet Lu Feng.
When his life was dark and full of despair, Lu Feng was his ray of light. She led him out of the pain he had felt after losing his father and allowed him to experience a sweetness that was different than familial love. But when that brilliant ray of light was extinguished, Xu Mu lost his will to live.
Xu Mu didn’t know what exactly had happened after he died to cause him to be reborn. However, things appeared to be slightly different in this life. Currently, he and his father were at the capital, two years earlier than when they left Lingnan before.
His father, Li Shi, had married a student under a master teacher. She was sent to Lingnan to serve in an official position, and he had followed her there. In the following year, Xu Mu was born.
The two were extremely loving towards each other, and their family of three was happy. But, good things never last forever. When Xu Mu was six years old, his mother died of illness. From then on, his father could never muster up the energy to take care of him. His father had become thoroughly depressed.
At that time, Xu Mu also missed his mother very much, especially when he saw the mothers of other children hug and kiss them while he sadly held his dad’s hand. However, he was still a young child, so as time passed, he slowly began to forget the warmth of his mother’s embrace. After a while, he could only remember a blurry image. Every time somebody would mention his mother, the only person that would secretly wipe away tears was his dad.
Xu Mu didn’t know why his dad cried at that time, but after he himself married and heard the news of Lu Feng’s death in battle, he had finally understood what his dad had felt.