Zhe Zhi
Zhe Zhi 19.2

The town wasn’t far away, but Divine Doctor Wei worried that Duan Ling might not know the way, so he accompanied him.

The coffin shop was located in a narrow alley, its entrance dilapidated and worn. Upon entering, rows of coffins greeted them, exuding a chilling and eerie atmosphere. However, Duan Ling wasn’t afraid, he carefully examined each coffin and went through the selection very carefully. He knocked and hit them, almost wishing to lie down and sleep in to test them out.

Divine Doctor Wei stood beside him, yawning in boredom. “I think that Lu lad isn’t someone who cares about these things, why put in so much effort?”

Duan Ling’s gaze turned cold. He looked at the dark and cold coffin, his fingers tracing the rough edges. His voice grew slightly hoarse. “From now on… he’ll be sleeping in this dark place.”

Even someone as experienced as Divine Doctor Wei was moved by Duan Ling’s words. He said, “The dead can’t come back to life. However much you love him, he can’t return. It’s best to move on.”

“What did you say?” Duan Ling suddenly looked up, locking his eyes on Divine Doctor Wei. “Who are you saying… loves who?”

Divine Doctor Wei was also taken aback. He replied, “Weren’t you deeply attached to Lu Xiuwen? Your actions and behavior these past few days, I’ve observed them all. What else is there to guess? Although being a cut sleeve is against societal norms, how you treat him is enough to move anyone.”

Duan Ling’s mouth opened and closed as if he were startled and couldn’t find the words to respond.

Divine Doctor Wei was perceptive. Just by looking at his expression, he understood the situation. He let out a sigh and said, “So that’s how it is. So you didn’t even realize it yourself. Well, it’s better not to know, to spare yourself the heartache. It’s just a pity for that Lu lad… his feelings for you…”

Duan Ling’s thoughts were in a mess, it was filled with Divine Doctor Wei’s words, repeating over and over again.

He’s in love with Lu Xiuwen?

Hmph, how ridiculous.

He quickly calmed himself down. He pulled up the corners of his lips and felt that he might have laughed a little. He said, “Senior Wei, you must have misunderstood. I was just entrusted to take care of Lu Xiuwen. There is someone else in my heart.”

Yes, the one he likes is Lu Xiuyan. Even if Lu Xiuyan was married and had children, he couldn’t possibly move on so quickly.

How could he possibly like Lu Xiuwen?

That Lu Xiuwen, who is already dead and lifeless.

That Lu Xiuwen, who would soon lie in a cold coffin.

That Lu Xiuwen, who would never open his eyes again.

That…

Duan Ling ignored the faint ache in his heart and told himself—absolutely, not, possible.

Divine Doctor Wei hesitated to speak. He had a sentence on the tip of his tongue that he ultimately swallowed down. He said, “It seems I’ve made a mistake. However, being entrusted with such a task and doing it so thoroughly is already rare.”

Then he added silently in his mind, hopefully you will never find out.

Duan Ling was absorbed in his own thoughts and didn’t catch the deeper meaning of Divine Doctor Wei’s words. After selecting the coffin, he hurried back.

Since Lu Xiuwen only had one younger brother left, it was up to him to decide how to proceed with the arrangements. So, before Lu Xiuyan arrived, there wasn’t much for them to do. After busying around for a day, Divine Doctor Wei felt tired and returned to his room to rest.

Duan Ling fetched a basin of water to wipe Lu Xiuwen’s body. In the weather of the first month, the water that had just been pumped up from the well was so cold that it stung the bones. Duan Ling frowned, turned around, and went to the stove room to build a fire to boil the water, then finally returned to his room with a basin of warm water.

Lu Xiuwen lay quietly on the bed just as he did when Duan Ling left the room earlier.

Duan Ling wet the cloth with water and wrung it out before gently wiping Lu Xiuwen’s face. He moved the damp cloth across Lu Xiuwen’s smooth forehead, his closed eyelids, and his soft lips. Although Lu Xiuwen’s appearance was remarkably similar to Lu Xiuyan’s, Duan Ling felt that he could never mistake them again.

He moved gently, as if he was afraid of causing Lu Xiuwen any pain. As he wiped, he spoke quietly to him.

“Earlier, we went to pick… a coffin. Can you believe Senior Wei actually said that I liked you? Isn’t that laughable? You know how I feel about Xiuyan. Back when we were in the cult, he was the only one who truly cared for me. As for you…”

He paused for a moment, recalling events from many years ago. “You were truly despicable back then. Once, I had offended one of the Right Guardian’s subordinates, and without saying a word, you took out your whip and lashed me, causing me to roll on the ground in pain. After that, as I lay on my bed thinking I was about to die, you didn’t even spare me a glance. Fortunately, Xiuyan brought me some medicine.”

As Duan Ling talked, he rolled up his sleeve to find the scars from that time. However, over the years, the old wounds had completely healed, leaving no trace.

He felt disappointed for a moment but continued, “Then, you ordered me to catch that little golden snake. I scoured the mountains and forests for two days before finally finding that thing. But it bit me, my whole arm turned black and I almost lost my life. This time you came to see me, but only to mock me for being so clumsy that I couldn’t even catch a snake.”

“There was another time…”

Duan Ling listed out each of Lu Xiuwen’s wrongdoings, as if he were convincing himself. His once shaken heart, stirred by Divine Doctor Wei’s words, began to regain some of its determination.

He finished wiping Lu Xiuwen’s body, helped him get dressed neatly, and then sat by the bedside, lowering his head as he called out his name, “Lu Xiuwen.”

“What were you really thinking? I could never figure it out. The things you said, the things you did—if you… if you had feelings for me, why did you never mention it?” Duan Ling chuckled, feeling a bit of satisfaction from revenge. “Since you’re so unwilling to speak of it, then I’ll pretend I know nothing.”

After he said that, he waited quietly for a moment. Seeing that Lu Xiuwen remained unresponsive, he gave him a final glance and intended to stand up and leave.

It was precisely this glance that allowed him to notice something hidden beneath Lu Xiuwen’s pillow.

The item was originally hidden very well, only revealing itself when Duan Ling accidentally moved the pillow while he was wiping Lu Xiuwen’s body.

The room was quite dark, and Duan Ling couldn’t make out what it was. He reached out and felt it, finding it slightly rough and prickly. He took it out and brought it to the candlelight, only then realizing that it was a withered branch. The branch was dark in color, completely devoid of leaves, as if it had been casually broken off from some tree.

Duan Ling was surprised, not understanding why Lu Xiuwen had cherished this item.

He examined it in his hand and found it oddly familiar. Suddenly, he remembered a day several months ago when he had snapped a small branch from a peach tree in his courtyard and gifted it to Lu Xiuwen.

When he had snapped off the branch, it was full of lush green leaves. After a few days, those leaves had withered away, and the branch had also quickly withered. Despite this, someone still kept it close, treasured it, and preserved it beneath the pillow for half a year, never letting it go.

Duan Ling recalled the time he had leaped onto the peach tree and glanced back. He had seen Lu Xiuwen standing by the window, looking at something intently. In the darkness, his expression was hard to distinguish, and Duan Ling had no idea what he was looking at.

Now he knew who he had been looking at.

How had he never noticed? Lu Xiuwen’s gaze had always been fixed on him.

Back then, Lu Xiuwen said he wanted the branch with the most beautiful blossoms. In the many nights after that, had he ever, in the dead of night, gently stroked this withered branch and imagined that the branch would bloom with gorgeous and unparalleled peach blossoms?

Just like imagining hopelessly… that someone would fall in love for another.

gumgum[Translator]

if you see any typos, grammar, or translation mistakes, don't hesitate to let me know. thank you for reading!

3 Comments
  1. Lucille Waters has spoken 3 months ago

    <3

    Reply
  2. Kook has spoken 6 months ago

    My tears 😢

    Reply
  3. lannnn has spoken 6 months ago

    😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭

    Reply

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

@

error: Content is protected !!