"Why has Class 13 been staying so late during evening self-study recently?"

"What's going on? Evening self-study has already ended. Someone is staying behind to study in the classroom, right?."

Hearing the hushed conversation from the two people in the front row, Xia Yi's hand paused for a moment as she was organizing her notes. She turned her head to look at the Zhixing Building, and sure enough, the lights in the classroom of Class 13 were still on.

The scheduling for the Experimental Class was different from the regular classes. They had an extra hour of class before the self-study session during the evening, so their dismissal time was half an hour later than the regular classes.

At this time, the regular classes should have already been dismissed. The classroom of Class 13 was empty and dark, with only a smart part of the lights on, casting a glow over the last seats of a particular group. A boy was hunched over, lazily swaying against the back of his chair, one hand holding a book and a pen twirling in the other.

It was too far away to see the boy's appearance clearly. Amidst the darkness of the Zhixing Building, there was a sole glimmer of light, casting a warm golden hue upon him, resembling a slowly burning wick of a lamp.

When the bell signaling the end of the evening self-study class of the experimental class rang out, the commotion began in Gezhi Building, with voices rising and falling. At this moment, the boy in Class 13 also started packing his bag. His agile silhouette moved under the light as he slung his bag over the shoulder. Turning off the classroom lights, he left the classroom before locking the door, and disappeared into the darkness.

"Does Class 13 also have such diligent students?" Someone in the front row exclaimed in surprise.

His desk mate shrugged, unimpressed. "Maybe he is waiting for someone."

Xia Yi silently carried her bag and walked out of the classroom, merging into the bustling crowd of students leaving school. She maneuvered through pairs of students chatting, linked arm in arm or with arms draped over each other's shoulders. As she neared a fork in the road closer to the school gate, she veered away from the crowd and stepped onto the dimly lit path.

The parking shed at the end of the path was distant from the teaching buildings. Few students parked their vehicles here. As she walked, the cacophony of voices gradually faded, replaced by a growing tranquility. The small shed gradually came into view amidst the faint glow of the lamplight. Suddenly Xia Yi stopped in her tracks.

Under the dim lighting, a figure had already pushed his bike out, positioning it sideways by the roadside. One leg was bent while the other stretched straight, reaching the ground. Leaning against the bike, he lowered his head to read a chemistry textbook. The golden light cast upon him gave his hair a gilded appearance, as if he hadn't yet returned to his original hair color.

He raised his head and saw her approaching. A smile lit up his eyes as he closed his book and said, "You're here."

The words seemed like an enchanting spell breaking the stillness of time and space. Xia Yi resumed her stride, walking to her own bike and unlocked it, and pushed it out.

"Yeah," she replied succinctly.

She couldn't recall how this all started.

From some unknown day onwards, she started seeing Nie Qingzhou's bicycle in this secluded shed every day. After evening self-study sessions, she would invariably find Nie Qingzhou lingering in the shed, even though he should have been on his way home long ago. Leaning against his bike, he waited for her, and they would ride home together.

He didn't explain why, as if everything was taken for granted, the natural course of things. It was as though if she waited for him once, he was obligated to repay her a thousandfold, and even more.

A few days ago, he suddenly asked her when she would usually go to play the piano, questioning if she often skipped dinner for the sake of piano practice.

Then, out of the blue, he brought up to Grandma Xia that he wanted to repay his debt through physical labor and offered to pick up Xia Yan from school every afternoon after classes.

Surprisingly, Xia Yan actually agreed.

Nie Qingzhou seemed to possess a certain power that allowed him to quickly form close bonds with others if he wanted to. A single instance of Xia Yan helping him dye his hair had already led to numerous hushed conversations between them.

She asked him, "How did you convince Xia Yan?"

Leaning against the convenience store counter with his arms crossed, Nie Qingzhou glanced at Grandma Xia who was inspecting goods in the distance and smiled. "That's a secret. If you want to know, you'll have to answer my question first."

"What question?"

"What's going on between you and Xia Yan? I've always felt there's something odd between you two, some sort of conflict. He won't tell me."

She looked at him for a moment, then turned to leave. Nie Qingzhou immediately caught her by the shoulder, chuckling, "Alright, alright. I just told Xia Yan that the road home has a long uphill stretch. Your sister is so slender; it's tough for her to bike uphill with you. I'm different, I've got the strength for it."

She was about to say she could manage the ride, when she heard him say, "From now on, have a proper dinner first, then go to piano practice when you're full."

He patted her shoulder, wearing a smile on his face, humming a tune as he walked away.

She stood by the entrance of the convenience store for a while, watching him until his figure disappeared into the setting sun.

She thought the tune he was humming was off-key and the rhythm wasn't right.

The next day, after Nie Qingzhou dropped Xia Yan off, he went to the hospital's administrative department, using all sorts of tactics to secure a free dinner for her.

"From now on, you don't need to line up for the school's dinner. It's really time-consuming. Just have your meal at the hospital and then focus on your piano practice. The hospital is really making a profit by getting a performer of your caliber for a meal." He playfully snapped his fingers in front of her, exuberant and full of excitement, radiating a sparkle in his eyes.

She sat by the piano in silence for a moment, then repeated, "A performer of my caliber?"


She had just played the tune he had hummed yesterday, but with the correct rhythm and melody, which he didn't seem to recognize at all.

She couldn't fathom the reasons behind his efforts.

Xia Yi's thoughts were abruptly brought back to the present by Nie Qingzhou's voice, as they made their way home in the damp night of Changchuan.

"Wow! It's so good to be out of school! Finally, I'm alive!" Nie Qingzhou spread his arms wide, and rode leisurely and crookedly on the coastal road in the sea breeze. There weren't many cars on the city road at ten in the evening, so he arrogantly dominated the road.

He placed his hands back on the handlebars, and lamented, "But the school dismissal times vary every day, and sometimes you guys even have extra classes. It can be quite a hassle to coordinate and meet up."

A hassle.

Xia Yi raised her gaze to his back.

But she heard him continue, "When I reach sophomore year and get into the experimental class, it would be great if we could be in the same class. It would be more convenient that way."

Xia Yi remained silent for a moment, then asked, "Do you want to get into the experimental class?"

"Uh, yeah."

"I can help you catch up on your studies if you need it."

Nie Qingzhou turned around in surprise, his school uniform billowing like a flag in the wind, his hair blown into his eyes, causing him to squint slightly.

Even so, the joy in his eyes still couldn't be concealed. He slowed down to be alongside her and said with a smile, "What did you say? You said you'll help me? Did you use the word 'help'?"

"Are you Xia Yi? Did I hear it wrong? Did Xia Yi just say she'd help me?"

Xia Yi replied coldly, "Yes, you heard it wrong."

With that, she began to accelerate, aiming to surpass him. Nie Qingzhou burst into laughter, shouting for her to wait for him and started a bicycle chase with her on this long road.

"I'm just too happy, don't be mad, okay?"

As they ascended a slope, they finally cycled side by side again. Nie Qingzhou said, "The midterm exam results will be out the day after tomorrow, and the class rankings will follow suit."

When they were going uphill, they finally rode side by side again. Nie Qingzhou said, "The results of the mid-term exam the day after tomorrow should come out, and the grade ranking will follow."

He gazed at Xia Yi and smiled, "I have a big surprise for you."

The clear and standard British accent sliced through the air, dispersing into the damp night sea breeze of Changchuan.

During the days when the midterm exam papers were being graded, the faculty room of the first-year high school teachers was filled with constant commotion. Zhang Yukun, who was well-informed, headed straight to Nie Qingzhou's seat as soon as he entered the school and said mysteriously, "I passed by the office this morning and saw the teachers discussing the test papers. They were saying things like 'it's impossible' and 'what's going on?' I have a feeling that there's big news about this exam. Zhou-Ge, what do you think it could be?"

Nie Qingzhou lifted his head from his book, and his pen spun between his fingers, leaving a blur of motion. He smiled and replied, "Who knows."

The boy sitting in front of Nie Qingzhou turned around and interjected, "I heard that the top scorer of our grade this time is amazing. The total deductions for the nine subjects are less than 100 marks, and he got full marks in three of them!"

"Damn, that's insane. Did Wen Zhong do better than last time? Big Goose is going to raise his head even higher from now on." Zhang Yukun seemed to be in a sour mood.

Hearing this, Nie Qingzhou also furrowed his brow, and the pen fell from his hand onto the desk. Zhang Yukun perceptively noticed Nie Qingzhou's change in mood and asked, "What's wrong, Zhou-Ge?"

"I'm a bit worried..."

He was too stifled before this exam, could it be that he was too frustrated so accidentally... exerted too much force?

However, Zhang Yukun completely misunderstood and comforted him, "Zhou-Ge, don't worry. Your original marks didn't leave much room for decline anyway. And didn't you do really well in the math and chemistry tests before the National Day holiday? If you perform as well as that, you'll pass every subject, and that's definitely a big improvement! Your aunt won't say anything!"

"...," Nie Qingzhou was amazed at how Zhang Yukun managed to praise his just-passing math and chemistry scores, which he considered a shame of his life, as 'doing really well'. This bar for praise was ridiculously low.

"You're still more suited for teasing people. If you don't know how to comfort someone, you can just keep quiet." Nie Qingzhou said with a friendly smile as he playfully ruffled Zhang Yukun's fluffy hair.

The first class was a Chinese class. Zhang Zihua sauntered in with a leisurely gait. He was in his forties, with a dark and sturdy build, and he was dressed a bit sloppily. If a person didn't know he was a teacher, he might mistake him for a farmer tending to watermelons in the fields.

While chewing on his thoughts, Zhang Yukun mentioned that Teacher Zhang was a key faculty member. However, due to his forthright temperament, he offended the school administration, which hindered his promotions. Later, his wife divorced him, and he dejectedly took a downward trajectory and voluntarily 'demoted himself' to a regular class, opting to discontinue teaching in the experimental class.

Based on Nie Qingzhou's observations over the past few days, Teacher Zhang was indeed the most skilled among all the teachers in their class.

Zhang Zihua spread out the test papers on the desk, glanced over the students' faces, lingered a few extra seconds on Nie Qingzhou's face, then said with a smile, "This is incredible, absolutely incredible! Our class produced the top scorer in the grade for Chinese, and even the composition was a perfect score. Before I unseal it to check the name, the grading teacher confidently said that it must be from Class 1. I said, just from that handwriting, I'd recognize whose it was even if it turned to ashes."

When he first started speaking, there was a slight commotion in the class. But by now, everything had fallen silent. It was as if everyone was holding their breath, waiting for him to finish this cliffhanger.

Zhang Zihua raised the Chinese test paper in his hand and exclaimed, "Come up and get your paper, Nie Qingzhou."

The classroom was now completely quiet. It felt like everyone had lost their voice at the same time, and countless gazes converged on Nie Qingzhou. Nie Qingzhou didn't show surprise or delight. He stiffened briefly, rubbed the space between his brows, then stood up from his isolated seat and strode toward Zhang Zihua to collect his paper.

At this moment, someone's voice, it's unclear whose, first broke the silence. Suddenly, the whole classroom erupted into a commotion, and everyone's eyes were fixed on Nie Qingzhou, discussing his name in a cacophony of voices.

As Nie Qingzhou passed by Zhang Yukun's seat, the latter's head turned along with him. Zhang Yukun's wide-open mouth was finally closed, and he uttered four words.

"Holy shit, so impressive."

When Zhang Zihua discussed the test papers, he showered praise on Nie Qingzhou's problem-solving approach and his handwriting. He held up a photocopy of Nie Qingzhou's test paper and waved it in the air. "The class representative will help me post these papers at the back of the classroom later. Everyone can observe and learn from them; the presentation also matters! Just one or two points can surpass two or three thousand people!"

Nie Qingzhou looked at the papers he was waving and thought how fortunate it was that "Nie Qingzhou" hardly ever did homework and turned in blank papers during the first month of school. Otherwise, his handwriting would have given him away right off the bat.

After class, Zhang Yukun and Lai Ning immediately rushed to his side, yelling in amazement, "Zhou-Ge, how did you unlock your governor and conception vessels? First place in Chinese, and a perfect score for the composition! Last time, you almost failed Chinese!"

[Governor and Conception vessels - In acupuncture, the Conception and Governor vessels are likened to vast reservoirs or seas of energy, and using points on these vessels is essentially tapping into such huge reservoirs. They are complementary but polar axes of the body. The Governor Vessel and Conception Vessel run along the front and back of the torso. These lines also contain the front and back of each chakra.]

For a while, the area around Nie Qingzhou's desk was bustling with excitement.

However, as English class, math class, and physics class went by, Zhang Yukun and Lai Ning gradually became numb from yelling. During lunch break, they sat by Nie Qingzhou's desk, looking at the papers covered in red tick marks, and sighed, "Zhou-Ge, how many first places did you get, after all?"

Even the diligent students who had previously drawn a line from him before couldn't help but gather around his desk and ask him curiously.

Nie Qingzhou was speechless and could only play dumb.

It had been so long since he'd taken a test that he was unsure of his current level. He wanted to score well but was also afraid of falling out of the top 50 in his grade, so he simply didn't control it much. Plus, there were a few papers yet to be returned; so his score should be enough for the top fifty... He just didn't want to make it too ostentatious.

Just then, someone burst into the room from outside, and shouted out of breath, "The grade ranking has been posted!"

When Nie Qingzhou attended high school in the provincial capital, the school wasn't allowed to publicly display rankings. Each individual could only obtain their own score sheet and know their grade ranking. However, in Changchuan, it's a different story. The school had always been quite open about it, printing out the complete ranking of scores and posting them on the notice board.

Lai Ning exclaimed excitedly, "Come on, let's go take a look. I'm sure Zhou-Ge's ranking must be very high this time."

The classmate who brought the news, still catching his breath, waved his hand and said, "No need... no need to see. Nie Qingzhou is... the one I mentioned this morning... the pervert with just over a hundred points deducted."

He pointed at Nie Qingzhou and said, "He's the first in the grade, the all-time highest score, ten points higher than Wen Zhong."

All eyes turned once again to Nie Qingzhou, and he felt as if he had been suddenly thrust into the spotlight.

Nie Qingzhou smiled dryly while thinking, It's over.

[T/N: Your comments are like magical spells that fuel my soul! So, please, keep those comments coming on each and every chapter. Let's create a vibrant and interactive community where we can share our thoughts, theories, and love for this beautiful novel. Your comments will brighten my day and inspire me to make the next translation even more marvelous! If you want to support my dreamy translation adventures and help me bring more extraordinary stories into your cuddly world, please consider supporting me on Ko-fi.]


You must be logged in to give rating and add a comment.

No comments so far!

Post a comment to start discussion.