Devil’s WarmthChapters List
Chapter 21: Beauty
In January 2005, harsh winter began to set in. The teacher in front of the podium pushed up his glasses and said solemnly, "Students, this is the last year of your three years in junior high. When you come to the school next semester, you will already be in the third grade of junior high school. During the vacations, you should review it at home. The next semester, the teacher hopes to see you with a brand-new look. Class 7 has always been an example for all classes so hopefully this year we’ll receive the news that all the students are admitted to the No.1, No.3, and No.6 middle schools."
The third-year students were so encouraged that they all responded by yelling in unison.
"Well, we're off for winter break, so be safe. Don't go to the river or pond to play and have a great New Year!"
"Happy New Year, Teacher Zeng!" As the cheers grew, Teacher Zeng shook his head with a smile. ‘A bunch of 14 or 15-year-old youngsters ah.’
While carrying her school bag, Hua Ting happily walked with Bei Yao, "Yao Yao you are really great. You got third place in our class."
Bei Yao smiled thinking that Pei Chuan was the best. If she wasn't in the same class as him, she would have never known that Pei Chuan had always been the first in the grade.
The two little girls separated at the fork in the road. Hua Ting vigorously shook her hands and put them over her mouth in the shape of a trumpet, "See you next year!"
"See you next year!"
When Bei Yao returned home, snowflakes were falling from the sky again.
"Yaoyao, come in quickly. What are you looking at?"
"Mom." Bei Yao turned back and saw Zhao Zhilan holding the child at the door of the rental house.
Xiao Bei Jun was only ten months old, and his round eyes were looking around curiously. Seeing his sister, he happily waved his little hands.
When Zhao Zhilan was hit on the cheek by his little hand, she wrapped him up in her arms and said, "You like your sister, don't you? You aren’t this excited when you see your father."
Little baby Bei Jun caught the word jiějiě in his mother's words and babbled along repeating, "Jié, jié jié."
[T/N: Zhao Zhilan used “姐姐” (pinyin - jiějiě ) word which means sister. But Bei Jun said, “结、洁洁” (pinyin - Jié, jié jié). Here, the first character “结” means knot or bind, while the second and third character (洁洁) means clean.]
Bei Yao rubbed the tip of her nose against his warm cheek and corrected with a smile, "It’s jiějiě."
In this way, the first word Xiao Bei Jun learned was not mom and dad, but ‘sister’.
Zhao Zhilan said, "Go home tonight and pack the things you want to bring. This year we'll go to (maternal) Grandma's house for New Year's Eve." After all, with this "illegal" second child, it is the best choice to go to her natal family to spend the New Year where Bei Yao's grandmother can also help look at the child.
As a minor, Bei Yao had no choice at all. She nodded and followed Bei Licai back to pack her things at night.
"Dad, I'm going downstairs."
"Good, come back early."
Bei Yao stepped on the damp pavement. In January this year, the snow hadn't yet accumulated in the C City. And at this moment, snowflakes of half the size of a fingernail were falling from the sky.
Bei Yao went downstairs and just happened to meet Pei Chuan who was heading out.
The teenager was wearing a dark blue down jacket. His zipper was pulled up to his throat, and there was no expression on his face.
As soon as they met, they both stopped in their tracks. As the snow fell on her eyelashes, Bei Yao's almond eyes dyed with a little smile, "Pei Chuan, why are you out?"
"Help my dad get the letter."
The letter had been sent to the wrong mailbox, to some family across the street. The postman had just called to apologize.
Bei Yao followed him, watching him go across the street to get the thick envelope out.
When Pei Chuan turned back, he met her dripping wet eyes. He paused in his steps, "What are you following me for?"
"I have to go to my grandmother's house for New Year's Eve this year. So goodbye. We will meet in the spring, next year. Pei Chuan, Happy New Year!"
"Well." He whispered, "Happy New Year."
"It's the first time I’m going to be away from home for so long." She kicked her toes restlessly along the edge of the flower bed, "It's also a long time that I won't be able to see you Pei Chuan. You must remember to drink plenty of water. And you must not be bored at home during the New Year. You can set off firecrackers to play with Chen Hu and the others."
Pei Chuan looked in her eyes and didn't retort, "Mhm."
She smiled and stood on her tiptoes. In the dark night and snow, her apricot eyes looked like a bright and pure moon, "Pei Chuan, when I come back you must grow taller again. I'll be much shorter to you than now."
She compared it. The little girl had finally grown taller in recent years. Now at 163, Bei Yao remembered that she will be 165 in the future, and Pei Chuan wore the prosthesis, which was adjusted according to the height and development of the teenager. Today’s Pei Chuan seemed to be 175cm. He only became crazily tall in high school. In Bei Yao's memory, Pei Chuan wearing the prosthesis in high school was about 186cm tall.
So, after these vacations, Pei Chuan was supposed to grow tall.
Pei Chuan watched snowflakes falling on Bei Yao's soft hair. He asked her in a faint voice, "When will you be back?"
"Mom said in February, maybe we’ll come back before school starts. When I get back, I'll bring you local specials!" Her tone was gentle and crisp. It was unknown when Bei Yao’s childish voice faded and turned into this tone. With the sweetness of the girl, her voice was like the gentle wind in March.
While Pei Chuan was still in the period of voice changing. The teenager's voice was rough and unpleasant, so he was responding in a low voice. Bei Yao had to turn around thrice to hear him.
Still smiling she walked up the stairs and shouted, "You wait for me to come back ah-"
Little did they know that when they met again, they both were in different situations.
Bei Yao was sitting in the doorway of the wooden door with a red scarf around her neck. Beside her, a little lamb with its head down was sniffing around.
She was holding Xiao Bei Jun, and the child was intently staring at the lamb. Bei Yao couldn't help but smile. Bei Jun was very easy to take care of when he was small. But now he had grown up to be a bit mischievous. Whenever he would see an interesting thing he would babble and make noises while watching it for a long time.
The warm sun hung high at noon but the snow on the top of the mountain had not melted yet.
A few hens were proudly pacing around the yard.
Bei Yao's Grandma’s family had a bungalow in the countryside. There were chickens and lambs in the yard and Grandma had even raised pigs in her early years. But she had stopped doing so in the past two years. Zhao Family Village was the hometown of Zhao Zhilan and Zhao Xiu.
The aftertaste of the Chinese New Year was still there, as the children were still playing with firecrackers by the mud pond. They would light the firecracker and throw it in the pond. Then mud and water would be blown up with a loud bang in less than two seconds.
Zhao Zhilan and Bei Yao's grandmother had gone to the market in the morning, and soon they returned with the women from the village.
Zhao Zhilan softened her look when she saw Bei Yao holding her younger brother from afar.
Aunt Zhang said, "That's Yaoyao from your family. I just saw her twice when she was a child. She's grown up ah. And she has become so beautiful, I can't even recognize her now."
Zhao Zhilan said with a smile, "Children do grow up fast."
A young newlywed woman named Chen Lanlan was also walking with them. Chen Lanlan thought that this was the usual compliment. After all, usually, when aunts meet someone they would say that your child has become handsome or your girl has become beautiful. So, Chen Lanlan just had a light smile on her face and didn’t take it seriously.
As a result, when Chen Lanlan looked up at the little girl standing by the door of the Zhao family, the whole person froze for almost a minute. She had never seen such a beautiful little girl!
It was the middle of February, long past the Lantern Festival. The little girl was wearing a powdery pink jacket and a red scarf around her neck. Her long hair was slightly curled at the end and softly fell on her shoulders. She had a fair complexion, dark eyebrows, apricot eyes, and delicate and round, lovely cherry lips. The young girl's small face was flawless. Her eyes were like watery black grapes, and because of her young age, she looked particularly lovable.
Not to mention the crowd of appalled women, even Zhao Zhilan, Bei Yao's own mother, was distracted for a moment at the sight of her own budding daughter.
It was only after coming to her grandmother's house that Bei Yao suddenly started to pump up.
The Creator favored this young girl. The childishness of a child gradually faded away from her cheeks and her face took on the youthfulness of a teenage girl. Her small waist could comfortably be pinched into a grip, but her chest was bulging. After a heavy snowfall this winter, a delicate, picturesque, pure, and youthful girl was carved out.
Her Bei Yao had grown up.
This day, when Zhao Zhilan suddenly saw such a Bei Yao, she couldn’t speak for a while. Looking at her daughter, who was so beautiful at such a young age, Zhao Zhilan choked for a moment. Why didn't she ever see that Bei Yao would be so beautiful when she grew up? After entering puberty, she became so exquisitely good-looking that it is beyond belief. It simply didn't look like the daughter that she, Zhao Zhilan, could give birth to.
Zhao Zhilan suddenly felt that it was ridiculous for Zhao Xiu to compare Bei Yao with Fang Minjun when she was young. If Zhao Xiu saw the present Bei Yao, she probably wouldn't dare to compare. Fang Minjun stands out with her eyebrows and eyes similar to those of Chang Xuexiao, while Bei Yao was naturally attractive and picturesque.
Bei Yao's grandmother carrying a basket on her back took her grandson from Bei Yao's arms, and said, "You go take a rest. Your Grandma and mother are here now. I bought rice cakes to eat today."
Bei Yao nodded with a smile.
Grandmother turned back to Zhao Zhilan and said, "Do you think that food here is not good? How could Yaoyao suddenly lose so much weight only after a winter?"
Zhao Zhilan wiped her hands and didn't care about her young son, letting his grandmother hold him and began to divide the vegetables, "No, after entering puberty girls grow up to be thin. Wasn't I like this when I was a kid and suddenly lost a lot of weight?"
Grandmother said, "Yeah, you did lost weight, but I didn't see you looking like a different person."
Grandma said cheerfully, "Yaoyao is so pretty. I think she's even better looking than those stars on TV."
"Mom!" Zhao Zhilan hurriedly said, "Don't be too ostentatious. Isn't what happened with Zhao Xiujia’s Minmin enough of a lesson? Don't compare your child to a celebrity. Looking good or not, it’s a blessing to the family as long as they're safe and healthy."
Grandmother thought of Fang Minjun and agreed in her heart. Even though she thought that this granddaughter was unbelievably good-looking, she would never bring that topic to the surface.
"Next month, Xiao Bei Jun was going to be one year old. Zhao Zhilan said, "Licai said it's all done over there, so I'll go back with both children tomorrow ."
Grandmother was a little reluctant, but she knew that Bei Yao had to go back to school. The girl was going to take the entrance examination this year. The whole family was very nervous about it. But what made the family proud was that Bei Yao's grades were always good.
"Bring more local products back. Fried peanuts, dried tea..."The old one was nagging on and on, and Bei Yao was also helping with the packing. She remembered her promise to bring local special products to the children in the neighborhood and to her good friends in class.
On the way home by the train, everyone was watching Bei Yao.
The appearance of the fourteen or fifteen years old little girl was bright and beautiful. She was the most eye-catching person in the crowd. Bei Yao changed her hairstyle under Zhao Zhilan's instigation. Zhao Zhilan's fashion sense was ahead of the time, so she asked the barber to cut Bei Yao's forehead hair resembling air bangs. And Bei Yao instantly became a bit more pure and lovely.
Bei Yao's eyelashes were long and curved, and as light as butterfly wings. Whenever she blinked her crystal clear eyes, she looked very charming.
Bei Yao was not accustomed to receiving such attention. She uneasily touched her hair and asked, "Have I really changed a lot? Does it look weird?"
Zhao Zhilan looked at her daughter, who was obviously like a little fairy but doubted herself. Zhao Zhilan laughed out loud and said, "Still stupid even when you grow up."
"Mom, do you think Pei Chuan, Hua Ting, and the others will still be able to recognize me?"
"You really believe your grandmother's words that you’re changed to be a new person ah. You’ve changed a little bit but are still recognizable."
Bei Yao was inevitably nervous and apprehensive.
Once, in the first year of junior high Bei Yao asked Pei Chuan whether the English teacher was pretty. She still remembered at that time Pei Chuan coldly said that the teacher was not good looking. Bei Yao was thinking, now that she was also the pure and touching type, would Pei Chuan hate this kind of look?
He has a weird temper. But does he also have weird aesthetics?
The train sped along and arrived at City C in the afternoon.
At the entrance of the community, a chubby teenager rushed out of the neighborhood. As he ran forward while laughing and playing, toy guns were exploding and crackling behind him.
When the chubby teenager was about to hit them, only then Zhao Zhilan noticed Chen Hu on the opposite side.
It was too late for Zhao Zhilan to dodge and protect Xiao Bei Jun, but Bei Yao quickly reacted by pulling on Chen Hu's clothes and hat.
Chen Hu was as tall as Bei Yao. As soon as he looked up, he saw the beautiful girl.
Chen Hu froze for a long while. He didn’t realize who the little fairy was until the little fairy smiled and took a big bag of dried tea out of her bag and greeted them with a smile, "Chen Hu, Li Da, Rong Rong, this is the dried tea I brought you from my hometown. It's delicious."
Then muddle-headedness extended from Chen Hu to everyone.
It was Li Da, who first spoke out incredulously, "Bei, Bei Yao?"
Bei Yao was embarrassed, "It's me. Is the change really big?"
Chen Hu, "...... " Damn! This..this..this......
It was a reversal of the story. Once there were two little girls in the community. One was as pretty as a star, and the other was just as cute. Later they grew up, and the beautiful girl they sought after became ordinary in appearance, and the so-so-cute girl suddenly became a little fairy only in a year. This whole thing couldn’t help but make this group of teenagers unbelievable.
Chen Hu's ears were red. He babbled something and didn’t dare to look at Bei Yao. Instead, he apologized to Zhao Zhilan, "Sorry Auntie Zhao. I ran out and didn't see you. I didn't bump into you, right?"
Where would Zhao Zhilan be bothered with these teenagers, she smiled and said it was fine.
"Yaoyao, let's put this stuff at home first before playing with your friends."
When Bei Yao followed Zhao Zhilan and left, all young teenagers looked at each other.
Li Da coughed, "Chen Hu, you're blushing."
Chen Hu stormed, "F**k you have the nerve to tell me, your face is red too!"
Soon after Bei Yao came downstairs. She carried a bag in her hand and was surprised to find that the teenagers didn’t leave and were still playing at the same place.
They all looked at her, and Bei Yao felt a little uncomfortable. She said in a clear and gentle voice, "Do you know where Pei Chuan is?"
As soon as this was said, all the teenagers looked strange.
Bei Yao's heart sank, and she had an ominous premonition.
It was obvious that spring had already come, but because the snow hadn't melted yet, the breeze carried the coldness of winter.
Chen Hu furrowed his thick eyebrows, "His parents divorced. Everyone in the community knows."
Li Da lowered his voice and added, "Uncle Pei was injured on a mission during the Chinese New Year. Pei Chuan is now taking care of him in the hospital. He... He will live with Uncle Pei in the future."
In the early spring of 2005, Pei Chuan's parents were still divorced in the end.
Pei Haobin's life was hanging by a thread. When everyone was celebrating the New Year, the teenager first experienced living with his father after his parents' divorce and then learned that his father might never wake up.
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