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.
He and his father lived in Lingnan until he was eleven years old. Only after they learned that his maternal grandfather was gravely ill, did they return to the capital. Later, they settled there.
Now, he was nine years old, but already at the capital with his father. When he was severely sick, he semi-consciously heard what his maternal grandfather said to his father: “I wanted you guys to quickly return and live with us. What if something happened to the two of you? Here, you at least have people who will take care of you guys. How could you let Xiao Mu suffer for three years?! Now look, our sweet candied fruit is so sick. If you father and son were still living in Lingnan, wouldn’t you be worried to death by now?”
Sweet candied fruit is Xu Mu’s nickname. Because his father made delicious pastries, this nickname was given to him, and his family members all call him it.
**(T/N: Btw, Xiao Mu, Mu’er, and sweet candied fruit are all nicknames/intimate names for Xu Mu. It’s kinda weird at first, especially “sweet candied fruit,” but you’ll get used to it, and it sorta makes sense later.)
His maternal grandfather was always rambling by his ear. He was quite sick at that time, so he didn’t make sense of much of it. Now, however, he could pretty much guess what happened. His maternal grandmother was probably afraid that they would be helpless by themselves, and brought both of them back.
Li Shi’s eyes were red and swollen. He reached out to touch Xu Mu’s unnaturally red face and said, “Father-in-law, I only have my sweet candied fruit left, nothing must happen to him…”
Xu Mu’s maternal grandmother and grandfather, the old couple, only had one daughter. They didn’t have a son, but they loved Li Shi like he was their own. So, of course, after Xu Mu’s mother died, they wanted to quickly bring them back to the capital.
Xu Mu, who had always been healthy, never thought he would be sick right after he and his father arrived at the capital. The illness came too suddenly. Xu Mu had a high fever and was unconscious for a long period of time.
Li Shi’s sweet little candied fruit was brought up in the palm of his hand. After his wife died of illness, he became gloomy and depressed. Now that Xu Mu was so sick as well, how could he be unafraid? Li Shi fell into Zhang Shi’s, his father-in-law’s, embrace and cried like a child.
Li Shi was only twenty-four years old this year, and Zhang Shi was only in his forties. Looking at his son-in-law weep in his arms, his own eyes started to turn red. He reached out to hold Li Shi’s trembling back. Choking back his own tears, he soothed, “Good child, don’t be scared, your mother-in-law went to find the best doctor in the capital, our sweet candied fruit will be fine.”
When Li Shi heard the pale-lipped and feverish Xu Mu mumble something, he quickly wiped away his tears and turned towards the bed. Li Shi wasn’t able to hear it clearly. He leaned closer and carefully listened for a while, but didn’t hear anything. Creasing his eyebrows, he said, “It seemed like Mu’er was calling for someone? He’s repeating the same two words. I’m not too sure, but it seems to be Lu Feng?”
Xu Mu always had an introverted personality. He never had many friends, and Li Shi didn’t remember one of them being called Lu Feng.
Zhang Shi leaned closer to listen as well. After a while, he said, “Clearly, this child is saying that there’s a cold draft, how is there any Lu Feng?” As he walked over to the bed and covered Xu Mu more securely with the quilt, he heard the sound of his wife returning with the doctor.
When Li Shi saw that his son no longer said anything, he also assumed he had heard wrongly.
Only after the doctor took his pulse and prescribed Xu Mu some medicine did his fever start to slowly go down.
Half a month had already passed, but Xu Mu sometimes still wakes up in the middle of the night, not believing that he had been reborn.
When Li Shi came back from outside, he saw Xu Mu standing by the doorway, dazed. He didn’t know what happened, but Xu Mu’s face was streaked with tears.
“Xiao Mu?” Li Shi was distressed and hurriedly walked over. Half-kneeling in front of Xu Mu, he took out a handkerchief and wiped away his tears.” He asked softly, “Why are you crying again? Do you feel uncomfortable somewhere?”
After his son woke up, his temper seemed to be much more restrained and closed off compared to before. Not only did he not like to talk, he always stared at certain objects in a daze. And after a while, his eyes would become teary again.
Xu Mu looked at Li Shi’s face before him. Li Shi’s face was warm and his eyes were full of deep concern. Because of tirelessly taking care of Xu Mu in the past month despite having just gotten better from his own illness, Li Shi looked extremely exhausted and worn out. Xu Mu’s eyes started to burn, and he nearly burst into tears once again.
He reached out and hugged Li Shi’s neck. Rubbing his nose, frozen from standing outside for too long, against Li Shi’s chest, he quietly said, “Dad, don’t worry, I’m fine.”
Li Shi’s light, sweet scent carried a feeling of comfort. Staying in Li Shi’s embrace a little while longer, Xu Mu felt considerably more peaceful.
Getting up from his arms, Xu Mu asked, “Dad, how is looking for a store going?”
Li Shi, after hearing how cute and sensible his Xiao Mu was, no longer felt so exhausted. He reached out to take the small, frozen hands into his palms and breathed to warm them up. Gently, with a slight smile, he said, “Thanks to you, I found a shop at the corner of West Street. Although it’s a little small, it suits our needs perfectly. Once business starts, it should be enough to support the both of us.”
Why did he say it was thanks to him? It’s because when Xu Mu heard Li Shi say he wanted to open a pastry shop, he mentioned that, in his dreams, they had opened a very successful shop at the corner of West Street.
The people who lived on West Street were all government officials. Because of that, Li Shi didn’t have much hope, but, since Xu Mu told him about it, he still went to look. Unexpectedly, he really did come across a shop that was being rented out.
Xu Mu heard that things were going well, and his face finally showed its first smile today. The two small dimples on his delicate, white face appeared to be particularly charming.
How is his eleven year old wife doing? Don’t know what she looks like right now…
In the Lu Residence, half-a-street away, Lu Feng was comfortably resting on a soft couch with one leg propped up. She grabbed a few candied fruits from a nearby plate and was about to throw them into her mouth when she suddenly sneezed. Helpless, she stood up and rubbed her nose a few times. She looked left and right, thinking, who was it that said bad things about her in front of her dad?
If she finds out who did it, see if she doesn’t pull out his teeth!
(This chapter is translated by Stumble Upon Translations)
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