Chapter 20: Celebrating the Spring Festival
Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
“Didn’t you say you were going to make dumplings?” Zhao Zheng said first and patted Wen Yu on the head. “Let’s try your cooking today.”
Wen Yu heard Zhao Zheng change the topic, so he could only take back his gaze. If he knew this was going to happen, he should have just landed a kiss first.
The dumpling skin and stuffing had been prepared on the kitchen table. There were two kinds of stuffing: shrimp with three delicacies (San Xian) and minced pork with shepherd’s purse. The butler had already prepared cold dishes and placed them on the table. When he saw his master coming, he bowed with a smile and left the space to them. He had already wrapped some beforehand, but these were the young master and master to play with.
Wen Yu took an apron and said, “Uncle, I’ll help you put it on. You can help me put mine on later.” After that, he didn’t wait for an answer. He deliberately grabbed Zhao Zheng from behind his back. Satisfied after eating his tofu1, he then happily handed his own apron to Zhao Zheng. “Help me tie it, I can’t reach it.”
Zhao Zheng had long arms and encircled Wen Yu. The apron in his hand was tied quickly, and Wen Yu didn’t get the hug he expected.
Speaking of making dumplings, actually, there was no custom of making dumplings in Yuncheng during New Year’s Eve. However, Mother Wen was a northerner who had the habit of eating dumplings. So, on the 30th of each year, she would be in the living room, watching the Spring Festival Gala while making dumplings. Wen Yu would be dragged to help make the dumplings but he liked it. It was very heartwarming.
There was news currently being aired before the Spring Festival Gala in the living room. Wen Yu was in a happy mood when he listened to the news broadcast. With a little pinch of his slender and pale fingers, a full-bodied dumpling was made.
“Uncle, look, it’s very simple.” Wen Yu showed the dumplings to Zhao Zheng, “I’ll make them for you later.”
Zhao Zheng nodded and commented seriously, “It’s pretty cute.” 2
Wen Yu listened to the praise and wrapped another one. The two dumplings were placed neatly together. Seeing Zhao Zheng looking around and not planning to start any, Wen Yu took Zhao Zheng’s hand and said, “I’ll teach you, Uncle.”
Wen Yu found that Zhao Zheng learned very quickly. His dumplings were smaller and more exquisite. Uncle Zhao’s looked more generous. One by one he made them and it looked as solemn as the person who made them.
They put the thirty dumplings into boiling water and when Wen Yu saw his dumplings mix with the dumplings made by Uncle Zhao, he was happy. After being cooked, the white dumpling skin rolled to the top of the water. Wen Yu fished them out into a big plate and handed it to Zhao Zheng, “I’ll make the sauce, Uncle. Do you want any?”
The butler dismissed the rest of the servants in the living room and retreated too. So it was just the two of them. The Spring Festival Gala had started. Wen Yu quickly brought the dumplings and the prepared cold dishes to the coffee table.
Zhao Zheng didn’t like watching TV while eating, but he dropped the matter when he saw the smile on Wen Yu’s face.
“Uncle, it’s too high for you to sit on the sofa.” Wen Yu took the cushion and placed it on the carpet. He then sat next to him, crossed his legs, picked up a dumpling with his chopsticks, and said with a smile, “Uncle, this one is made by you.”
Once it was in his mouth, it felt like he was eating something super delicious, and he felt especially enjoyable.
Zhao Zheng chuckled, and his chopsticks accurately held a small and delicate dumpling. “Wen Yu’s dumplings are also delicious.”
The atmosphere was just right. Zhao Zheng opened a bottle from his wine collection and poured half a glass for Wen Yu. “It’s fruit wine, have a try.”
Wen Yu took a sip and found it had a fruity taste. He couldn’t recognize the fruit, but it was good to drink. They had dinner, watched the Spring Festival Gala and had a sip or two occasionally. Soon, it was already time for the countdown.
Wen Yu’s cheeks were red, his eyes were bright and watery, and he looked at Zhao Zheng. He was a little dizzy, and his blood was surging up. With a cheery smile, he looked somewhat dazed, but also sincere.
“Zhao Zheng, Happy New Year.” With that, his head fell onto Zhao Zheng’s chest, and he continued to murmur vaguely, “I want to be with you forever, I love you, Zhao…”
In a daze, Wen Yu seemed to be flying on the clouds. In his dream, everything was colorful and Zhao Zheng looked at him with adoration.
What a beautiful dream.
When he woke up the next morning, Wen Yu was fresh in spirit and had no hangover at all. He was lying in his bed in his pajamas and rolled around feeling somewhat disappointment. Yesterday, the atmosphere was so good but he got drunk!
Lifting his eyes, he saw a big hongbao3on the bedside table. Wen Yu reached for it and opened it. Inside was a bank card and a card.
On it were three simple words — Happy New Year.
Written in ink, Wen Yu could tell at a glance it was from Uncle Zhao. He couldn’t help touching the card, he felt happier than winning the lottery.
He thought that they would spend their time in the villa together from the first day to the third day of the New Year. Wen Yu didn’t expect to wake up to find a packed luggage downstairs. They went skiing abroad. Wen Yu was wrapped like a bear, holding Zhao Zheng’s hand tightly and standing on the high snowy mountain.
“Uncle, don’t let go. I’m a little afraid.” Wen Yu, who couldn’t ski, said.
Zhao Zheng held Wen Yu’s waist with one hand, smiled and shook his head at the trembling Wen Yu, and said, “I thought you liked the snow very much.”
Once it snowed in Beijing this winter, Wen Yu was very happy. He would only stay in the yard to play. Now when he was on a snowy mountain, he was really excited, but also really afraid. Wen Yu said, “I really like it, but I didn’t say I could ski. I don’t care, Uncle. You have to teach me.”
“I’ll teach you.” Zhao Zheng nodded his head in all seriousness. He exerted some strength to his arm that was holding Wen Yu’s waist. Wen Yu relied on the support of his own ski pole, Zhao Zheng sent the screaming child flying across the snow slope. The inertia was too big to stop and only Wen Yu’s cries of “Uncle Zhao” could be heard around the snowy mountains.
Wen Yu plunged head first into the snow. He spat out the snow in his mouth. Looking up, he saw Uncle Zhao, who was at the top of the mountain, smiling at him.
“Angry?” Zhao Zheng came down and pulled Wen Yu out of the snowdrift with one hand, like pulling out a radish. He patted the snow off Wen Yu. Initially, he wanted to tell him it was okay to fall a few times and that boys should not be so fragile. But when he heard Wen Yu call out to his Uncle Zhao, his heart softened.
Wen Yu stood up and shook his head. “I’m not that petty.” Then he averted his gaze and threw himself into Zhao Zheng’s arms. He wrapped his arms around the man’s waist tightly. “But Uncle Zhao, don’t even think about tempting me to go for another round. I won’t leave your side.”
“Indeed childish.” Zhao Zheng, holding Wen Yu’s waist in one hand, jokingly said, “Should I buy you two more pink balloons?”
The two spent three days in the snow mountain hotel, and took an early morning direct flight back to Beijing on the fourth day of the New Year.
Meng Tian came to pick them up from the plane. When he didn’t see Meng Yi, Wen Yu was very certain that he and Gao Yang had gone out to play. In fact, Uncle Zhao did not restrict their freedom, but in a sense, they had only served one monarch for thousands of years. It was difficult to change their minds even if they lived in a modern era now.
Speaking of which, Uncle Zhao was really amazing. The difference in status from being the Emperor to the present, he learned things very quickly. In the midst of Wen Yu idolizing his Uncle Zhao, he found out the route they were on was not the usual way back home.
Zhao Zheng said, “We are visiting Lu Feng’s house.”
The front of Lu Feng’s villa was very lively. Children were playing snowball fights and running around. As if it was not cold at all. Wen Yu’s gaze froze. It seemed like he just saw something flying in the sky.
He looked again, there was nothing, but the four-year-old boy wearing a fluffy hat was so adorable.
“Brother Meng, I’ll need your help to give everyone their souvenir..” Wen Yu said as he got out of the car.
Meng Tian nodded and also thanked him before leaving.
When Wen Yu got nearer, he realized that they were all little boys who either looked cute or cool. Wen Yu recognized that the eldest amongst them was Hua Hua. The little boy in the fluffy hat’s face was pale from the cold. When he smiled, his two little ‘tiger teeth’ showed.
“Hello, aren’t you cold? Your face is all pale.” Wen Yu greeted the child, and then heard a male voice come close from afar, saying, “Xiao Jing is like that, he’s not afraid of the cold.”
Wen Yu looked up and saw that he was a pretty boy, probably of his age.
“Daddy.” The little boy called out obediently.
The pretty boy ruffled Xiao Jing’s head and said, “Take your little brother back in to eat and play only after.”
As soon as the children were coaxed, they ran in, there were only three of them outside. Wen Yu was stunned. He didn’t expect that the other person who was about the same age as he was already had a child of that age. For a moment, he didn’t know what to say.
“My name is Zhang Qiu. I am in the second year.. I was supposed to be in my third year but was delayed by some things so I stayed back for a semester.” Zhang Qiu extended his hand out with a smile.
Wen Yu shook his hand, and Zhang Qiu looked at Uncle Zhao who was behind him and said, “I heard from Lu Feng but I didn’t expect that you would really come.” Then, he whispered to Wen Yu, “The First Emperor4 never joined us in our activities before this.”
“Let’s continue inside” Zhao Zheng’s hand was around Wen Yu’s waist.
It turned out that everyone here knew Uncle Zhao’s identity. When they got to the living room, Wen Yu was shocked when he heard everyone’s introduction.
Not only there were mythical beasts such as the phoenix, xie zhi5, there were also guards of the underworld present. Wen Yu was not mistaken just now when he thought he saw someone flying in the air.
A lovely face of exquisite facial features, it was Zhang Qiu’s second son.
“There were some complications when I was pregnant with Fei, so he has been a little weak since birth.” Zhang Qiu took a small spoon in his hand and whisked some egg whites. Then Xiao Jing took the bowl and said, “Daddy, I’ll feed little brother.”
Zhang Qiu passed the bowl to Xiao Jing, and Li Shu, who was beside, handed a plate of shrimps that had been peeled to Zhang Qiu. Zhang Qiu talked to Li Shu and they seemed to be really intimate with each other.
Wen Yu didn’t need to observe carefully to understand that the men at the dinner table were in pairs, had children and a family of their own. Unspeakable envy surfaced in Wen Yu’s eyes. If he could form a family, h-he was willing to have a child too.
With that thought in mind, Wen Yu secretly took a peek at Uncle Zhao beside him.
Lu Feng’s villa was really lively. In just an afternoon, Wen Yu fell in love with the atmosphere. The adults chatted and the children ran around. The adults didn’t even bat an eyelash when the children quarrelled. The children would be friends again in a short time. They got along well with each other. Upon careful observations, one could see that the eyes of the partners were always on each other.
Wen Yu was fed dog food6 the entire afternoon. Although his heart ached, he yearned for such a life. Until he left, he was still reluctant to part.
“You like it here that much?” Zhao Zheng asked.
Wen Yu nodded his head, looked at Zhao Zheng and said, “I’m homesick.”
Zhao Zheng’s face showed no expression, but there was a hint of a smile in his eye as he patted Wen Yu’s curly hair, “We’ll be home soon.”
As if after the New Year, Wen Yu and Zhao Zheng became closer to each other. It was possible that it was because Wen Yu always clinged onto Zhao Zheng’s bed. They ate and slept together, and their tacit understanding got better.
Wen Yu had a full and happy winter break. As soon as the 15th of the month passed, classes started.
Zhao Zheng personally sent Wen Yu to register for his classes. They walked on campus side by side and from time to time, attracting students’ attention. Wen Yu was used to going out with Uncle Zhao. Wherever they went out, there would always be people secretly eyeing Uncle Zhao.
After registration, they met his classmate on their way out.
Wen Yu nodded his greetings, and found that the classmate’s gaze went towards Uncle Zhao, then back at him, before leaving in a hurry.
There seemed to be disgust in his eyes.
- Taking advantage (sexually) usually used to describe inappropriate touching.
- The word Zhao Zheng uses here is 憨态可掬 hāntàikějū which is the way one normally calls pandas, ducklings etc adorable or cute.
- Red envelopes containing money given during Chinese New Year. Usually given by elders to the younger generation, children to their parents (as a blessing of longevity and good health) and between spouses.
- Da Da (大大), usually means someone of an older generation a.k.a an Elder. Nowadays, it could also mean someone whom you respect.
- A legendary creature in East Asian myths. Described as being like a unicorn and a dragon, also with a horn and cleft like foot. It was also known as the justice/righteous beast. This beast could tell the innocent from the guilty. Read more here.
- To be fed with dog food means to be envious of couples showing off their affections for each other.