Title: Did We Agree To Be Rivals?
Original Title: 说好成为彼此的宿敌呢[穿书]
Author: 轻风白杨 (Qingfeng Baiyang)
Translated by: ~PurpleLy~
They’d succeeded in acquiring the dual cultivation technique and it was another day closer to New Year’s Eve. Gu Feidi and Su Yang were in no hurry to return.
Both of them rented a small courtyard in the village at the foot of Junyou Mountain. Due to the fast approaching twenty ninth of the twelfth lunar month*, the two of them did some simple New Year shopping on the final day the markets were open in preparation to spend New Year’s Eve together before leaving for Lesser Jade House.
(*TN : Eve of New Year’s Eve)
On New Year’s Eve, Su Yang and Gu Feidi didn’t venture out. They planned to decorate this originally uninhabited courtyard with a little New Year atmosphere.
For instance, couplets* and Fu words** must be pasted up.
(* TN : Couplets are a pair of successive lines of verse and are displayed as part of the Chinese New Year festival. These are usually purchased earlier and displayed at the door frame. The text of the couplets is often traditional and contains hopes for prosperity.)
(**TN : Fu = prosperity. This word / character is written on red paper and the paper is hung / stuck on the doors, walls, windows of the house as an auspicious decoration. This word can also be found on red packets, greeting cards, etc…)
Up to now, Su Yang couldn’t yet write his calligraphy with much vigour, but at least it wasn’t mashed together and the character could still be recognised with some difficulty. Consequently, the task of writing of the Spring Festival couplets and Fu words was given to Gu Feidi.
For Gu Feidi, it wasn’t complicated and fairly soon, he’d quickly written a pair of couplets based on his own previous New Year’s couplets and asked Su Yang to paste it up with him. He didn’t expect that Su Yang wasn’t familiar with using the brush and paste. Once he’d smeared on the paste using the brush, he lifted it to paste it up. As a result, he crinkled the edges of the pair of couplets by pressing too much. Red-dyed paste oozed out from the corners of the paper and even his hands were stained by the colour.
Gu Feidi didn’t help either. He just stood watching and laughing at the side.
After plastering on a piece of the couplet with much difficulty, Gu Feidi took it from him to paste up. Su Yang eyed his hands and was wondering where he could find water to wash them when he heard Gu Feidi call him.
“Xiao Xiao, have a look and see if this is straight or not?”
“It’ll look better a little higher.”
Su Yang walked a couple of steps closer and looked at Gu Feidi who was meticulously sticking the Spring Festival couplets. He instantly narrowed his eyes and said, “Ng, it’s straight. Perfect…… since you’re done pasting, then come over and help me.”
Gu Feidi smoothed out the crumpled couplet and turned to approach Su Yang: “What is it?”
Su Yang quickly smeared his reddened paste hand on Gu Feidi’s cheek and before you knew it, he’d painted three cat whiskers there.
“You literally didn’t help me just now!” He gave a dirty look and feigned anger, “And laughed at me!”
Gu Feidi allowed him to tease and didn’t take offense. He smiled and said, “Don’t be naughty. Since you haven’t washed your hands yet, paste up the remaining couplet and Fu words.”
Su Yang: ……
Su Yang pouted his lips, raised his hand and dabbed a little red dot between Gu Feidi’s eyebrows.
They both fooled around and it was a while before they finally pasted up all the couplet and Fu words.
Just then, two peasant women dropping in on each other were passing by. When they caught sight of the two playing boisterously outside the courtyard entrance, they couldn’t help laughing.
“Aai, it seems that the brothers living in the guesthouse have a pretty good relationship.” One of the women said in a low voice.
The other woman snuck a look at Su Yang and clicked her tongue, “Who said they’re brothers? Hey, I see that fair-complexioned little bro who’s so good-looking seems like he’s a woman disguised as a man…… They’re clearly a young married couple bantering flirtatiously!”
“Yee, since you’ve said it as such……you’re still the one with the impressive eyesight!”
Su Yang: ……
Gu Feidi: ……
All these whispers were heard by the perceptive ‘young married couple’ who proceeded to look at each other and immediately burst out laughing.
They packed up the paste and brushes before returning into the house. Gu Feidi drew some water and both of them washed their hands and faces together. Later, the two of them began to worry about what to eat for New Year’s Eve dinner.
Su Yang had lived by himself for a time and would cook some simple dishes, but he was totally unable to make use of the earthen stove in this ancient farmhouse. Moreover, the earthenware pot was embedded into the stove and wasn’t suitable for braising. It was certainly impossible to stir-fry anything. At most……it could be used to steam or boil.
“You should know how to use this kind of stove, right?” said Su Yang as he squatted at the stove, turning his head to ask Gu Feidi.
“Nope.” Gu Feidi answered swiftly.
“Doesn’t your home use this type of earthen stove? How could it not be!” Su Yang didn’t believe it.
Gu Feidi squatted beside Su Yang and examined the stove furnace with him. He said casually: “I’ve never been into my kitchen……but presumably all the stoves should look the same.”
Su Yang was silent for a moment and said: “……That’s right, I almost forgot, you used to be a young master.”
Gu Feidi laughed and got up to pick a few sticks of firewood from the pile to threw it into the furnace before adding a few more twigs and branches. He blew on the fire stick and used it to light up the furnace.
Su Yang hurriedly filled the pot with some water to prevent the clay pot from cracking due to the dry heat. At the same time, he asked: “So you know how to light a stove?”
Gu Feidi said, “I assumed that it’s used like this.”
After mulling over a couple of the dishes for some time, Su Yang ultimately decided to go with the occasion and wrap some dumplings for them to eat.
Gu Feidi was instructed by Su Yang to mince the filling and Su Yang personally undertook the heavy responsibility of kneading the dough. Fortunately, although Gu Feidi had never cooked before, he was very knowledgeable in the use of weapons. He possessed adequate arm and wrist strength to chop up the filling to just the right consistency. By the time Su Yang had seasoned the taste of the filling, the dough was almost soft enough.
Su Yang rolled out a few dumpling wrappers and taught Gu Feidi how to wrap dumplings. Gu Feidi was astute and learned to satisfactorily do it after merely watching Su Yang wrap two.
Su Yang noticed how quickly he was able to master it and before he had time to revel in the thrill of imparting his wisdom to others, his lips couldn’t help twitching and he mumbled: “……The protagonist’s halo is truly spectacular.”
Gu Feidi smiled and asked, “What? What’s that supposed to mean?”
Su Yang grinned at Gu Feidi and didn’t reply.
Both of them coordinated perfectly; one rolling out the wrappers and the other wrapping the dumplings. They managed to finish wrapping an entire pot’s worth of filling.
Su Yang turned the remaining dough into flat noodle pieces and smiled as he said: “As a matter of fact, each time I eat dumplings, I enjoy eating the noodle pieces made from the leftover dough the most…… I’ve no idea why, but the flavour tastes totally different when I only make noodles to eat. It’s truly uncanny.”
Gu Feidi said, “Later, once the dumplings are cooked, you eat the noodle pieces and I’ll eat the dumplings.”
Su Yang was amused, “You are becoming less and less courteous to me now aaa!”
Gu Feidi instantly laughed.
He observed Su Yang savvily boiling water to cook the dumplings and said: “Hearing you talk like that, you’ve at least been able to eat dumplings in the past, therefore your livelihood shouldn’t be modest?”
This was the first time that Gu Feidi took the lead to ask about the past life of Su Yang’s soul.
Su Yang conscientiously pondered and answered: “Actually, it was pretty good. At least I had my own apartment and I was financially secure. Since I was young, the people around me have treated me well. I’ve never come across any bad people or any truly difficult setbacks. I could do whatever I enjoy doing……Now that I think about it, I was really fortunate.”
“Then, how old were you……your past self?” Gu Feidi asked again.
“I was twenty one years old when I arrived here.” Su Yang said, “If you calculate on the basis of the soul’s age, I’m about to be twenty-four now.”
“Twenty-one, you’d have been crowned already……” Gu Feidi muttered for a while, then hesitated before asking, “Have you ever……been married?”
Su Yang was overjoyed when he heard this question.
“Why only ask now?” He smiled, “Don’t you think it’s a tad late?”
Gu Feidi replied, “I didn’t dare to ask before this.”
“What else is there that you don’t dare to ask?” Su Yang said, “As long as you ask, I’ll answer.”
Gu Feidi looked at Su Yang and asked again: “Then have you ever been married?”
“Nope.” Su Yang said with a smile, “Over there, we’d marry late. A lot marry when they’re in their thirties……A majority of people would’ve just graduated from school at twenty one, so they wouldn’t get married so soon. Besides……I’ve yet to meet someone I like.”
Upon hearing this answer, Gu Feidi gazed at Su Yang with a clearly joyful expression in his eyes.
In an instant, he recalled something and was puzzled: “Hearing you say that, the scenery in your hometown is somewhat different from that of the Central Plains……Where’s your hometown?”
Su Yang smiled.
“My hometown is an extremely peculiar place.”
He uncovered the lid and used a ladle to nudge the dumplings that had stuck together, pretending to be enigmatic: “Take this stove for instance. In my hometown, you only need to turn a knob and the flame will ignite. It’s convenient, even to the extent that there are stoves and pots that can cook without lighting fires. Isn’t that miraculous?”
Gu Feidi wasn’t astonished and didn’t ask further when he heard such outrageous things. Instead, he pondered a bit and laughed: “It’s not surprising that you can cook dumplings, but can’t light fires.”
He laughed again after he’d finished speaking and before Su Yang could continue to talk, he asked, “Do the lamps in your hometown not require fire sticks to light them up?”
Su Yang was stunned: “Ng? How did you know?”
Gu Feidi said, “I still recall back then when we’d just entered Lesser Jade House. You didn’t even know how to use a fire stick.”
Su Yang: ……
Su Yang sighed in exaggeration, “My dear shidi, you truly believe everything I’ve just said?”
Gu Feidi said, “As long as you answer, I’ll believe.”
For a while, Su Yang was at a loss for words.
He stared at Gu Feidi’s eyes which were twinkling like stars. There wasn’t a hint of mockery or patronisation in them.
All of a sudden, Su Yang had an urge to expound the whole sequence of events of this world to Gu Feidi, and then……
……and then what?
He didn’t know if he was still able to go back. Even if he could, he didn’t know if he was able to bring Gu Feidi over.
A sizzling sound dragged Su Yang out of his trance.
He reached out to lift up the lid, but Gu Feidi was quicker than him and he lifted it instead.
Upon being exposed to the cold air outside, the froth in the pot gradually rose up and dissipated. Su Yang picked up the bowl of cold water beside him and added half the water into the pot. The bubbling dumpling soup instantly quieted.
It was still better to wait for the crown ceremony to be successfully concluded before letting Gu Feidi know his background.
Su Yang considered it like this.
Although Su Yang didn’t often cook dumplings by himself, it was remarkably successful this time. The texture of the noodles was just right, the flavour of the filling was just right and even the quantity was just enough to fill both their stomachs.
After finishing the last one, the two divided up the noodle pieces and soup.
Su Yang asked: “How is it? Aren’t these noodle pieces more delicious than regular noodle pieces?”
Gu Feidi smiled as he replied, “I wouldn’t know.”
Su Yang: “Ng? Why don’t you know?”
Gu Feidi said: “Next time, you can cook regular noodle pieces for me to taste. I’ll only know if I can compare them.”
Su Yang was annoyed at once: “Why do I have to cook it? Haven’t you eaten noodles before?”
Gu Feidi: “Of course yours would be different from others’.”
Su Yang was slightly dumbfounded and didn’t catch on to what he meant right away.
Gu Feidi added: “The noodles cooked by you can only be compared with the dumplings noodle pieces cooked by you. No matter what others make, it won’t be as delicious as yours.”
Su Yang felt beyond thrilled when he heard him say that and believed that this sensation could last him forever. But he insisted on assuming a disdainful appearance. He curled his lip and said: “Love words always follow one after another……”
Gu Feidi smiled, drank the soup and didn’t respond.
That night, they warmed up some rice wine, then sat in the courtyard chatting and staying up to ring in the New Year.
The moon wasn’t visible on the night of New Year’s Eve and the countless stars scattered in the sky made them appear even more resplendent.
“Although we’ve known each other for several years, this is the first New Year’s Eve we’ve spent together.” Gu Feidi said, “Back then, in Lesser Jade House, I entered Veiled Pearl Pavilion too early and didn’t usher in the New Year with you. It was truly a shame, come to think of it.”
Su Yang was already a little tipsy. He held his wine cup while leaning on Gu Feidi’s shoulder and laughed in a low voice: “If there is a first New Year’s Eve, there will be a second one. In the future, there will be many more. Where’s the shame in that?”
Gu Feidi gazed at Su Yang, his eyes reflecting the starry sky, as if there were endless splendours drifting about.
“You can’t go back on what you’ve said.” He laughed.
Su Yang didn’t reply. He smiled as he wound his arms around Gu Feidi’s neck and kissed him on the lips.