Everything had begun with him feeling despondent over the lack of progress he had made in wooing his Jing He in the past year. Mind you, it had already been close to ten years and even though they were much closer than in the beginning and he was very sure that his beloved loved him back, he just couldn’t get Jing He to marry him despite his increased effort in the last months.
Qiu Ling had known that it couldn’t go on like that so he did the most sensible thing: He ran to his future mother-in-law and asked her what to do.
Naturally, he had made the right decision. There was nobody who knew Jing He better and knew more about relationships than his mother. He sometimes wondered why she was only the Heavenly Empress and not the Goddess of Love too. She had to have a knack for these things. Otherwise, how would she have been able to endure that old bastard for so many years?
Anyway, although his future mother-in-law gave him a pitying look, she had readily invited him to take a walk in her garden as well, keeping silent for a while as if she was thoroughly contemplating the matter before she shared her boundless knowledge with him.
Finally, the Heavenly Empress had halted in her steps and turned to face him, her gaze profound. He had instantly stopped muttering about his relationship problems and perked up. This had to be the moment where his mother-in-law would share her insightful thoughts with him!
“Longjun, since the day you have fallen in love with my son: What have you done?”
Qiu Ling blinked. “I did everything you told me!” And some more things but he didn’t want to confess that. If she knew, she might reconsider him as her chosen son-in-law.
The Heavenly Empress just continued to gaze at him. That was obviously not the answer she wanted.
Qiu Ling slightly frowned and pondered her question. What had he done since falling in love with Jing He? “I … tried to get his attention and make him fall in love with me as much as I’m in love with him?” There was still no reaction. “Mother-in-law, don’t be like this! I’ve done so much to chase your son! How would I know what you want to hear?”
Bai Fen smiled. “Indeed.”
Qiu Ling blinked. “Indeed? What do you mean?”
Bai Fen resumed her pace and, of course, Qiu Ling followed right after.
“What do you mean? Your son-in-law can’t understand your profound thoughts without help!”
“You’ve done a lot of things to win him over. Now, what has that son of mine done?”
“Uhm …” Qiu Ling thought of Jing He and a special glimmer appeared in his gaze. “Well …” He probably couldn’t utter his real thoughts here, right? He cautiously glanced at Bai Fen but she didn’t seem to be bothered by this kind of gaze. “Ah, don’t fault me, mother-in-law. Actually, yesterday, he let me take his hands and —”
“That’s not what I’ve asked about though.”
Qiu Ling shut up. “Huh?”
“I asked what he has done. In regards to this relationship between you, what has he done?”
“What do you mean?”
“You just said you’ve done a lot of things to chase him. So what has my son done to reciprocate?”
Qiu Ling was stumped for words. That question was unexpected. And even worse, there was nothing he could say. Because honestly, Jing He hadn’t done anything. Well, he had let his guard down around him bit by bit and he was obviously feeling much more comfortable around him but he had never done anything of his own accord. In fact, even at this point in time, there was still a thin wall separating them.
Take holding his hands: It was something Qiu Ling would bring up like this in front of Bai Fen because he felt it was a big step in their relationship even though he had already chased Jing He for almost a decade. Until then, occasions like these had been rare. They could spend their whole day together, wandering in the gardens outside or staying in Jing He’s palace and talking but that was it. Jing He still shied away when Qiu Ling tried to do anything more.
He didn’t mind any seemingly accidental touches but as soon as it went beyond that, he would evade. Holding his hands? That was barely acceptable. Kissing him? Dream on! He couldn’t even think of that.
If he was honest, he had minded that. Spending their time together was well and all but … he wanted to be with Jing He in every sense. Being able to be close to him not only in his thoughts but also physically, that was important to him. And not being allowed to do that, not even at the most basic level … It had made him question every now and then if he would ever be able to enter a true relationship with Jing He.
After ten years of relentless pursuit that had made them become closer on a spiritual level but not in any other way, it hadn’t seemed like things would change any more. He had felt as if he would forever be condemned to remain one step apart from Jing He. Hadn’t he been so much in love with him that he didn’t mind waiting some more years and trying again and again, he might have given up.
Now, faced with Bai Fen’s question, the uncertainty in Qiu Ling’s heart had reemerged. Could it be that Jing He didn’t reciprocate his feelings? Was that why he couldn’t name even one instance where Jing He had been the one to take the initiative?