Overhead, the silvery moon graces an otherwise cloudy, ink-black sky. All around, the lanterns and the passage of people keep the Liyue Harbor awake well into the night. Even now, its heart beats tirelessly, full of life; merchants doing business here, children playing games there, the sound of music and the accompanying steps and flourish of the dancers. For Zhongli’s ears, even the mundane sound of everyday business is the finest of music.
“Tonight, all is well,” Zhongli concludes as he watches the world around him.
All, that is, except for his companion’s latest struggle with chopsticks. He smiles, even as Childe regards the chopsticks in his hand like they’re otherworldly creatures, and he lets out a frustrated grumble while barely catching them when he slips yet again.
Those hands grasp blades and move in combat with the grace of a crane and the force of the crashing waves, and yet what are they in the face of mere chopsticks? A newborn deer moves with more ease than this.
Finally, Childe’s hand is no longer able to sustain its shaky fumbling, and the chopsticks make a clattering noise as they fall onto the ground.
Zhongli can’t help the laughter that bubbles up at the sight, instead covering his hand to muffle it somewhat. Childe’s eyebrows furrow, his face goes red, and he looks away. “You-- shut up!”
He regains his composure, eventually. “Ah, pardon me. I found that struggle of yours endearing. I do appreciate how hard you’re trying.”
Childe huffs, eyes moving back and forth between Zhongli and the view of outside just next to him.
“Here. Say ‘ahhh…’” Zhongli picks up a portion from his own plate, offering a slice of meat.
“I’m not--” A grumbling stomach interrupts the protest. “...Ahhh…”
Finally, he concedes, taking the piece of meat Zhongli’s offering to him. It becomes a process; Zhongli picking food up with his chopsticks, Childe eating what he’s fed.
Zhongli’s mind wanders.
Warmth. The soft radiance of the nearby lanterns. ”This is nice.”
Uncertainty. The clouds blurring the stars. “Has the resentment from then started healing?”
Darkness. The night sky, its endless veil of mysteries. “What, really, is the situation between them now?”
Overhead, the clouds continue their slow pilgrimage to nowhere. All around, the world passes them by; the hustle and bustle never once hesitates, even as Zhongli feeds Childe in silence and his mind tries to navigate what’s become of the two of them.
And yet, they’re still here.
It’s in the subtle easing of Childe’s shoulders, the way he begins to lean forward with each bite. It’s in the way Childe closes his eyes as he really takes the food in. Zhongli finds himself starting to smile. Even something as everyday as a meal with company can bring warmth and ease.
Tonight, all is well.