Mingxi had both her hands in her pockets when she entered the class. Suddenly, someone called out to her.
Zhao Yuan was walking over to Mingxi with a pile of freshly photocopied information in her arms, her red-rimmed eyes filled with worry.
Mingxi turned. When she saw that it was her, she didn’t even bother to greet her. Instead, she turned and walked straight into class.
She didn’t want the luck that she worked so hard for to disperse due to Zhao Yuan’s protective halo of being a main character!
“Wait. I want to talk to you.” Zhao Yuan jogged up to her and blocked her path.
Mingxi took a glimpse at her flower pot. When Zhao Yuan got close to her, the tiny buds in her flower pot shivered and swayed. Some even stopped growing completely.
So how could Mingxi be in a good mood? She immediately furrowed her brows. “I have nothing to say to you.”
A few people in the corridor looked over.
They watched as Zhao Yuan bit her lips in apparent fear of Mingxi. She mustered up her courage and said, “I just- just wanted to apologize on behalf of E Xiaoxia...”
A beauty with a kind heart.
Such a term appeared in the minds of all the boys in the corridor.
This incident clearly had nothing to do with Zhao Yuan. E Xiaoxia had even wanted to drag her through the mire. Nonetheless, she cared more about Zhao Mingxi’s feelings and came to apologize first.
However, Mingxi was not listening to whatever Zhao Yuan was saying.
Zhao Yuan wasn’t wearing her school uniform. Her bottom half was covered by a trendy dark blue colored sailor skirt, short white socks and a pair of coffee brown leather shoes.
Her long hair was tied up into a neat ponytail, and at the left side of the top of her head rested a blue checkered bow.
She appeared tidy, generous, frail and fragile.
All in all, she could be summed up in numerous glorifying terms.
On the other hand, Mingxi had a lean figure and she was almost half a head taller than Zhao Yuan. She lowered her gaze slightly. The blue checkered bow caught her attention.
Mingxi stared at that bow firmly. It was hard not to recall what happened previously.
When she first arrived at the Zhao family home two years ago, she brought a luggage bag with her. That luggage bag which was made out of rattan was personally woven by her grandmother. When she was brought in by Zhao Zhanhuai, aside from Zhao Mo, everyone else was rather friendly. Thus, it ignited a spark of hope in her heart as she looked forward to her new life.
Her mother pulled her by her hand and told her to take a shower and get changed first.
However, by the time she came out, she realized that the old clothes that she brought over and the luggage made by her grandmother had all been thrown out of the villa into the trash— Her mother said that she had suffered a lot and that she was going to buy her new ones.
Mingxi retorted softly that these were the items her grandmother had left for her.
Her mother wasn’t too happy with this reply. She said, “You have to get used to your new surroundings.”
The 15-year-old Mingxi back then felt conflicted. She really wanted to take back what her grandmother gave her, but she was afraid that it would make her appear unreasonable and troublesome, causing a bad atmosphere in the family.
Thus, she could only eat half-heartedly. She barely ate anything that day. Her plan was to wait until her mother had gone upstairs before she would head outside to take back her things.
However, what she didn’t expect was for when the sky had turned dark and she went out to find it, the garbage truck had already taken the items away.
Mingxi felt extremely sad for a few days after that. It was only then that she realized that her surroundings were not somewhere she could easily blend in just because she wore the same set of clothes and small leather shoes as Zhao Yuan.
At the small Northern town which she lived in for the past 15 years, the norm was for the trash to be taken out the next morning among the noise and reminders of her neighbors. They would always help each other out when it came to taking out the trash. But here, the nanny will take out the trash whenever she likes.
She would have to put in more effort in order to blend in.
Upon realizing this point, Mingxi worked even harder, just as she did for the past 15 years when it came to her studies.
She started by observing the mannerisms of the Zhao family. She would even take note of small details like how many times they would wash their mouths after dinner. Then, she would do the same. All this was done just so she won’t stand out from them. She wanted to compromise to their liking.
That day, after they went and bought a bunch of shoes and clothes, when Zhao Zhanhuai took Mingxi to deal with her transfer application to the first school, Mingxi noticed that a lot of girls were looking at her.
Mingxi realized that she was very different from them— Although they were wearing the same clothes bought from the same shop, these girls knew how to dress themselves up.
They would tie knots with their t-shirts and spend time to cut out patterns on their pleated skirts.
Their hairstyles were not like hers either as she left her long black hair flowing beyond her shoulders without any accessories. In contrast, most of them had bright colored accessories on their hair, making them vibrant and lively. With one glance, it was easy to tell that they were the pinnacle of fashion trends.
The way they stared at Mingxi made her feel so inferior that her face burned pink. She wanted nothing but to hide away from them.
Once again, she realized that this had nothing to do with the differences between their clothes or hairstyles. Instead, it was the difference between people who have been reading fashion magazines since a young age and someone who had to study in the summer without an air-conditioner and in the winter without any warmth.
If she wanted to blend in, she would have to try even harder and put in more effort.
After their return, Mingxi used her new phone and computer to learn about these things and also observed how Zhao Yuan did all these— Zhao Yuan was the best and prettiest example around her.
Mingxi took out some of her money and planned to start from buying some hair accessories.
As this was the first for her to buy such things, she was confused. She didn’t know which types to buy. Then, she recalled the butterfly knot on top of Zhao Yuan’s head and figured that she couldn’t go wrong by buying those, so she bought two.
When she got home that day, she was overjoyed. She wanted to show the items she got to her mother so that she could know if her way of perceiving beauty had improved.
However, when she passed by Zhao Mo’s room, she heard him speaking to someone.
Zhao Mo mocked her by saying, “That new kid is such a copier. She wants everything Yuanyuan has. You, go and console Yuanyuan.”
Mingxi did not know who was on the other side of the conversation, but it had to be either Zhao Zhanhuai, her mother, or Zhao Yuning.
That day, Mingxi hurriedly retreated into her room and threw the accessories into the lowest drawer.
Her tears started to roll down uncontrollably.
For the past two years, Mingxi had undergone a quick growth, but it was mainly because she was forced to change at the fastest speed.
She could finally puff out her chest and blend in to her surroundings. She looked exactly like someone who had grown up in such circumstances.
She was calm and able to handle any situation with ease.
She also knew how to display her beauty.
Whenever someone looked at her, she would show herself off generously.
The 17-year-old Mingxi now was filled with confidence. She did not care about how others perceived her. Even when it came to her school uniform or how she always carried an old bag, she was unbothered.
When she recalled her 15-year-old self, she naturally felt that the person she was at that time was far too self-abased and cared too much about what others thought of her to the point that she was honed for it.
However, Mingxi did not want to doubt herself.
After all, that careful and sensitive girl who had just arrived from a small Northern town was also her.
From a certain perspective, Mingxi felt as if her role of a villainess in the original novel was justified.
Looking from Zhao Yuan’s perspective, her arrival attracted the attention of the whole family. She copied her taste in accessories and even made dishes carefully in order to suck up to her family. She wanted to take away all the love and care of the family away from Zhao Yuan.
However, that was the past 15-year-old Zhao Mingxi who craved love and attention.
The current Zhao Mingxi cared not for love. She only wanted to get into college and live a good life.
When her attention finally returned to Zhao Yuan, she heard Zhao Yuan say, “...I think I am partly to blame for this as well. I didn’t notice in time that the misunderstanding between the both of you had gotten so bad already.”
Mingxi took a glance at the people in the corridor. She estimated that there were around 10 to 20 people there. They were all listening to Zhao Yuan’s apology to her, as if she was the unreasonable one.
“What has this got to do with you? Since this incident was her fault, why are you apologizing to me in front of so many people? Is it to show how kind of a beauty you are?”
Mingxi couldn't help but to continue, “If it is so, do you have to apologize if China and America go to war with each other? Just because you didn’t notice that their misunderstandings had gotten so bad?”
Zhao Yuan as well as the people around them were dumbfounded.
Mingxi said, “I’ve only heard of the injurer apologizing to the injured. Never have I heard of an unrelated third party apologizing to the injured. Isn’t this just an act of involving oneself in unnecessary drama? Unless you admit that you were the one who encouraged her to do it.”
Zhao Yuan burst into tears immediately. She hurriedly replied, “Mingxi, don’t misunderstand me. She triggered my allergy, so how could I team up with her to do such a thing? You are my family while she is my friend...”
“Oh.” Mingxi expressionlessly replied, “She hurt you and bullied me, yet you still apologized to me while knowing all this. You sure are magnanimous— Then next time if you someone is murdered, will you take up a loudspeaker and apologize on behalf of the murderer as well?”
The people in the corridor were also gradually figuring out the odd part of her apology.
She’s right. The fact that Zhao Yuan told everyone about how E Xiaoxia triggered her allergy would mean that their friendship is over. So why was she apologizing on behalf of E Xiaoxia? She even made herself look pitiful in front of so many people.
At first glance, they would feel that she was very kind to the point that she could be called Mother Theresa. However, after a nearer observation, for some reason they felt like she was a fake b*tch.
Zhao Yuan did not think that things would end up like this. Zhao Mingxi didn’t seem like the past Zhao Mingxi anymore. The current Zhao Mingxi would no longer puff up in anger and remain speechless. Instead, she could easily use a few words to make people lean in favor of her.
The way she spoke was interesting and charming.
Previously, as Zhao Mingxi always had a mask on, there weren’t many around who would help her. But now that she had taken off her mask, her beauty was enough to make even those who were strict about justice to slack off for her— Just like how they were with Zhao Yuan previously.
“How could you compare such a small matter to murders and wars between two countries?” Zhao Yuan hastily replied. She could feel the changes in the gazes of the people around them.
But before she could finish, she was cut off by Mingxi once more, “Oh, so now it’s a small matter? When you came to me with red-rimmed eyes in front of so many people, I thought something huge had happened, like maybe the sky had fallen or something.”
The people around them snorted in laughter.
Zhao Yuan: “...”
E Xiaoxia: “...”
She was listening from afar, but she didn’t know why she was feeling a little satisfied with this outcome.
Didn’t she hate Zhao Mingxi?!
However, after the incident this morning, E Xiaoxia felt that as compared to Zhao Mingxi, she seemed to dislike Zhao Yuan more. She didn’t like how everyone would automatically offer to protect her even without her doing or saying anything.
Zhao Yuan did not dare to continue the topic of their conversation. She was afraid that if she did, the people around them would look at her differently.
She hastily offered the information in her arms to Zhao Mingxi. “Aren’t you preparing for the Hundred School Tournament? I drew out the important areas for it. I hope it’ll be of some help to you.”
She thought that Zhao Mingxi would not refuse this. The moment she accepted it, she would still be a gracious and magnanimous person because she had helped her.
Unexpectedly, Zhao Mingxi didn’t even take her hands out of her pockets. “No thank you. I already have them.”
Yesterday when she left the library, the librarian gave her a sheet of paper with the important areas marked. She only needed to verify it for a short moment to know that it was from Shen Liyao. Mingxi couldn’t think of any reason for her not to accept it. After all, she did not bear some deep grudge against Shen Liyao, and vice versa. As Shen Liyao was from the school representative team and had always been in the Gold Medal Class, the important areas that he had pointed out were guaranteed to be far more accurate than Zhao Yuan’s.
Zhao Yuan was certain that Mingxi did not plan to take the Hundred School Tournament seriously. She probably said it casually to their eldest brother just so she could show how hardworking she was in her studies.
As Zhao Yuan did not want to stay here any longer, she asked a final question in a concerned tone, “When are you coming back home?”
“I’m not going back.”
Zhao Yuan did not want to admit that she had let out a mental sigh of relief. “Everyone at home is worried about you.”
When Mingxi heard this, she looked at her with a gaze full of mockery.
Zhao Yuan felt as if her thoughts had been exposed. She subconsciously looked away.
Then, she heard Zhao Mingxi say, “Don’t worry. Whatever you want is whatever I think of as trash. If you want them, I’ll just give them to you.”
“You—” Zhao Yuan wanted to scold her for speaking of their family like this. However, before she could say anything, she hesitated. She felt as if she was punching cotton. It was pointless no matter how much effort she put in.
Zhao Mingxi used to care a lot about their family, but now she is able to say such words. Does she really not care anymore?
When Zhao Yuan left, she was very close to losing control over her facial expression and frowning.
ray's note: not gonna lie, i had quite a tough time translating this first half of the chapter because of mingxi's flashback :( on another note, i had to separate this chapter into two parts because i don't think i can finish translating the whole chapter before the end of this week. it's a very long chapter (around 23 pages in total). hope it's okay with you guys. i'll get the next chapter out as soon as i can!