The snowy day was a world of pure white.
As Cheng Chu groggily opened her eyes, a few strands of white light filtered through the window, like a piece of silk floating in the dimly lit room.
Her head was still spinning, and for a moment, she forgot where she was.
There were faint sounds outside the door, and she wearily got up, her footsteps still unsteady.
The living room and kitchen were separated by only a transparent glass window.
The misty steam filled the small square space, and the world became hazy and dreamlike in an instant.
Cheng Chu's footsteps faltered, and her heart began to race uncontrollably.
A tall and thin figure stood with their back to her.
Her fingers trembled, her nose tingled with a sourness, and she almost burst into tears in the next second.
The clock on the living room wall ticked away, its sound clear in the quiet house.
It felt to Cheng Chu like her heart was inside the clock, beating along with the trembling second hand. It raced uncontrollably, trembling with each beat, amplified by the silence of the room. Suddenly, a loud "bang" echoed as a pot fell to the ground, causing her to tremble and push open the door that felt like it was miles away.
The misty fog outside was like the snowflakes that floated in the air. As the fog cleared, the figure in front of her became clearer, but Cheng Chu's heart sank. "Are you awake?"
The figure turned around, and his handsome features seemed to be covered in a layer of mist, warm and gentle. His voice was clear and gentle, not belonging to the winter season.
But it wasn't Gu Miao.
Something was simmering in the pot, making a soft bubbling sound.
Cheng Chu lowered her gaze, and her disappointment overflowed from her drooping shoulders.
She spoke, her voice husky, "Hmm, I stayed up late yesterday, and maybe I feel better after sleeping."
Zhou Yanshi smiled, "You had a fever. I just gave you a fever-reducing patch, and it should have gone down by now."
Cheng Chu was taken aback and touched her forehead, feeling a sizable plastic patch.
The fever-reducing patch had already been warmed by her body temperature, and it came off as a warm lump.
Zhou Yanshi produced a bowl of porridge from somewhere and said in a warm voice, "Drink this bowl of porridge first, and then take your medicine."
It was a bowl of vegetable porridge, with no taste, and it seemed like they had forgotten to add salt. As she looked at the messy kitchen, Cheng Chu knew he had never cooked before.
Gratefully, she finished the porridge and placed the porcelain bowl on the table, making a crisp sound.
"Thank you," Cheng Chu said again after taking her medicine, seemingly unable to say anything else.
With a smile on his lips, Zhou Yanshi said, "Think about how many times you've said thank you today."
He handed her the fever-reducing medicine and considerately mixed the just-boiled water with cold water before serving it to her.
The snow seemed particularly quiet that day.
The young man stood in front of the French window, with the white snowflakes falling all around him. Yet, he exuded a warmth that did not belong to winter, like the gentle spring breeze in April, soothing and calming, without any hint of aggression, making even the most restless heart feel at peace.
Cheng Chu lowered her eyes and smiled, "Besides thank you, I don't know what else to say."
"We are friends, this is all expected," he replied.
Hearing his words, Cheng Chu seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. Her fingers, which had been tightly gripping the cup, also loosened slightly.
"Okay," she nodded, a smile shining through her peach blossom eyes, becoming the only bright color in the snowy day.
The cold wind outside the window mixed with snow, causing the window to creak.
The phone on the table vibrated a few times, and Cheng Chu's eyes brightened slightly.
She looked at Zhou Ran with a hint of embarrassment and said, "Um, I need to take this call."
He nodded, "Sure."
The girl's pale and haggard appearance seemed to fade a bit, as she held her phone and ran into the bedroom.
Even her back exuded excitement.
The room was quiet, and Zhou Yanshi could hear the girl's soft voice overflowing with uncontrollable joy. The tiny glimmer in his eyes gradually faded away.
The apartment had underfloor heating, and Cheng Chu walked around barefoot, even her feet were warm. Her voice was low, "Hey, Miao Ge."
It was already midnight in China, and it was quiet on the other end.
Gu Miao's voice was deep and heavy, "Why aren't you turning on the video?"
"My webcam is broken, I'll get it fixed tomorrow." Cheng Chu lied because she was afraid he would worry if he saw her sickly appearance.
Gu Miao didn't suspect anything and just responded with a disappointed "Hmm."
In the quiet room, his voice came through the phone line, low and hoarse, giving Cheng Chu an inexplicable sense of security.
Cheng Chu's nose suddenly felt sour, and tears welled up in her peach blossom eyes.
"Is class over today? Have you eaten?" Gu Miao asked on the other end.
His gentle voice slowly entered Cheng Chu's ears, but the hidden grievances, bitterness, and unwillingness were instantly awakened by a few casual words.
Suddenly, tears fell from her eyes, silently dropping onto the carpet, leaving a shallow water stain.
"What's wrong?" There was no response for a while, and he asked anxiously.
Cheng Chu sniffled and called out in a spoiled tone, "Miao Ge."
There was a sudden sound of a chair being knocked over on the other end.
The silence of the night was broken, and Gu Miao's voice mixed with the coldness of winter, trembling like a howling wind.
"You're crying? Chu Chu, what's wrong? Why are you crying?"
"It's okay, Miao Ge," she forced a smile, but her choked voice couldn't deceive anyone.
Gu Miao was going crazy with worry, his tightly clenched hands turning slightly white.
"Chuchu, what's wrong? Please tell me. If you keep this up, I won't be able to sleep at night."
Cheng Chu pursed her lips, hesitated for a few seconds, and then told him everything about how her group members had bullied her.
But she was afraid that Gu Miao would worry too much, so she never mentioned her own illness.
After several seconds of silence on the phone, Gu Miao's hoarse voice came through, suppressed with emotion.
"Chuchu, I'm sorry."
Cheng Chu asked, "Sorry for what?"
"I couldn't be there for you when you were feeling your worst, and I couldn't help you."
Cheng Chu pursed her lips. "Miao Ge, what does this have to do with you? We are separated by distance now. I couldn't be by your side when you needed me the most."
Growing up meant being independent. She couldn't always rely on others to shelter her.
Cheng Chu sat on the carpet, pulling back a corner of the curtain to watch the snowflakes dance outside. "Miao Ge, it's snowing now. The new year is coming soon."
This country didn't celebrate Chinese New Year, but she couldn't help feeling a hint of warmth in the snowy scene outside.
Her voice was ethereal, flowing through the phone line and into Gu Miao's ear. "Miao Ge, I wish you a happy new year."
There was no snow in the city, only a few lights shining in the distance.
They pierced through the quiet night and entered Gu Miao's eyes.
As soon as he thought of something, his dark pupils lit up and his voice no longer sounded anxious like before.
"Chuchu, Happy New Year," he whispered softly at last.
Although there is no Spring Festival in this country, there are many Chinese people here. Many shopping malls and stores have also put up promotional signs to attract Chinese consumers to celebrate the Spring Festival.
When Cheng Chu walked out of the piano room, it was already very late.
There was no moon tonight, and only a few lonely stars were scattered in the sky.
After practicing the piano all day, her hands were so sore that she couldn't lift them up.
The path was very quiet, and the dim yellow light slowly fell, making the pure white snow take on a warm color.
A tall and thin figure stood in front of the apartment. The vast night seemed to be infused with warmth.
Cheng Chu's heart skipped a beat. Her footsteps came to a halt as she gazed at the familiar figure in the distance, feeling a sense of unreality wash over her.
She was even afraid that it was just her own illusion, so she hesitated to take a step closer.
The dim night light cast a layer of clear shadows under his feet, hazy and dreamlike, as if he were a person in a dream.
Suddenly, he turned his head.
The cold snow became gentle.
"Chuchu." His voice pierced through the cold wind and snow, gently falling into Cheng Chu's ears.
Cheng Chu finally saw his face.
He was thinner than in the video, covered in dust.
In his eyes, which were filled with joy, there was a hint of exhaustion that he couldn't hide.
Cheng Chu's heart stopped for a moment.
Under the cover of night, the tired girl flew into his arms like a bird returning to its nest.
The surroundings were quiet, as if even the sound of falling snow could be heard clearly. On a snowy winter night, he was burning up like fire, recklessly consuming the lonely heart of Cheng Chu until it was completely consumed.
The girl buried herself deeper into his embrace, not lifting her head for a long time.
"Chuchu," he gently patted the girl's back, his tone as gentle as if he wanted to melt her.
A holly tree was planted at the entrance of the apartment, still lush and green in the harsh winter.
"Don't cry," he lowered his head and kissed her hair lightly like snowflakes, "I'm here."
Don't be afraid. I will protect you.
Gu Miao: Who dares to bully my Chu Chu!
Translations during sleepless nights. I can sleep when I'm dead! ...Please let me sleep. Happy readers keep me awake, and lots of love and a huge thank you for supporting my hobby!
Give me feedback at moc.ebircssutol@ypeels.