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Among the Glaze Lilies

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"This is the mark of our pledge, and it is also my challenge to you."
"All my wisdom is hidden within this stone dumbbell."

He remembers meeting the young woman with the billowing sleeves, remembers the way she acted solemn, yet seemed joyful when she presented him this token. What a silly notion. There was no formal contract between them. They were merely two people walking the same path for their own reasons...

But he remembers the scene of their first meeting anyway, when the Glaze Lilies were still in abundant bloom.
He also remembers those words she spoke at the end—again, amid the Glaze Lilies.

 


 

Sometimes when he closes his eyes, he can still see her.

 

Her petite form among the lilies, with her lilting voice singing sweetly to the evening flowers, blue petals cradled gently in lithe fingertips. The memory lives on in him as something bittersweet, precious yet altogether melancholic. That was the curse, Zhongli supposed, of being an Archon—Gods had no right to forget.

 

Just as the sun begins to rise over Liyue, his lover stirs from beside him. Childe is a light sleeper as Zhongli finds, always awake at a precise time in the morning and body tense at any foreign sounds during the night. He doubts it’s normal, he’s met plenty of humans who could sleep through thunderstorms and even the loudest of beasts cries. Though, and he had to consider this the first few times they’d shared a bed together, he isn’t exactly any different himself. As an Archon he didn’t require sleep, but rest was something he could come to appreciate living as a mortal. 

 

“You’re thinking of something.” Childe murmurs, wintery blue eyes ever observant.

 

“I am.” He chuckles, “Though I’d like to believe I am always ‘thinking of something’, reflection is one a great many abilities bestowed upon the mind.”

 

His lover snorts, “And now you’re dodging the question.”

 

“I was recalling the first time we’d met.”

 

Childe laughs, and it’s an unexpectedly light sound, “That takes me back. There I was wondering how I could send a lily back to my siblings, and then some stranger walks up and starts giving me a history lesson about the flower of all things. You barely had any idea I was Snezhnayan, let alone Fatui.”

 

“I would have educated you regardless of your affiliation,” Zhongli defends, “They are a speciality in Liyue, and all deserve to know—”

 

Childe gently cuts in, “—I also doubt anyone else would have given such a lengthy description.” Muffling a laugh when Zhongli gives him a despairing look. “I’m kidding. What made you bring up the memory anyways?”

 

He remembers the first time he’d met Guizhong then, a bygone goddess, singing among the Glaze Lillies that once bloomed in abundance across the lands—

 

“An old friend.”

 


 

"This is the mark of our pledge, and it is also my challenge to you."
"All my wisdom is hidden within this stone dumbbell."
"If you can unlock it—"

Many years passed, and he was never able to unlock that dumbbell, nor would he ever learn what might have followed that sentence.

Over the years, the wild Glaze Lilies, too, dwindled till at last they were no more.