Jin Ling stumbled backward. Jinde’s child … He closed his eyes and shook his head. No! No, he wasn’t his child. He wasn’t.
Even though he told himself so, he couldn’t help but remember his childhood at Jinde’s side. Back then, he hadn’t really understood yet. He had only known that he liked this person very much. He didn’t want to be apart from Jinde, not even for a single second. In the whole world, this was the only person that loved him and cared for him. Others were nice too but nobody was like him.
Those golden eyes and that golden hair that shimmered like the sun, that sweet smile that was only reserved for him, the soothing sound of his voice … He couldn’t get enough of any of that. And the most important was that Jinde was like that only for him.
Even though he smiled at Xin Lan and some of the other people, it was never the same smile. With a lot of people, it was much more perfunctory. And even in front of Xin Lan, when it might have been an honest smile, it was still one that wasn’t as bright as the one Jinde gave him. And Jinde definitely never talked with anybody as gentle as he did with him. No, this kind of Jinde was only reserved for him.
He hadn’t had expected anything at the very beginning. He had just slowly grown up at his side, relishing in that feeling of the care he got. He didn’t care what other people said. He didn’t think about anything. Just spending one day and another day and then yet another day was enough. He just wanted to be with Jinde.
Things only started to become strange when he was able to understand just how the world worked. When he heard those people talk about him and his relationship with Jinde one day … Naturally, he had grown worried.
“It doesn’t matter if he isn’t his child. Obviously, the king loves him very much. And it’s not like his own child would necessarily inherit the throne. So why shouldn’t he raise an adopted child? The boy was all alone. Isn’t it good that our king cares so much about his people that he’s even willing to raise an orphan?”
That was the first time he ever heard somebody addressing his relationship with Jinde. The people talking had been some of his advisers. In front of him, they never would have dared to talk about that. His identity … It had never brought been brought up directly. They didn’t call him Jinde’s child, most of them just used his name. There were only a few that adopted the way that Xin Lan used to call him: Your Highness. After all, everybody had known that Xin Lan was Jinde’s most staunch follower. If he called the child the king had taken in that way, then, obviously, he was proclaiming the intentions of the king by doing so. Who were they to question it?
Jin Ling had never thought about what this way of calling him meant. He hadn’t really cared either. After all, these were other people. They weren’t his Jinde, so why should he care about what they said? No, he didn’t care about anything. He only cared about his Jinde.
But on that day when they talked about it directly, he hadn’t been able not to take note. ‘His child’ … He knew what being somebody’s child meant. He had just never thought about whether or not he was Jinde’s child. Now that he did … He felt that that might be true. After all, they were always together. They lived in the same place and Jinde cared for him. That was what he had heard that the parents of other children did. So it seemed he was Jinde’s child. But as for the rest … He didn’t understand. So after he worried about it for a few days, he couldn’t help but run up to Jinde and ask him about it.
“Jinde, am I your child? Did you adopt me? And what’s an orphan?” The questions came in quick succession while he blinked his eyes, looking at Jinde earnestly. If it had to do with them, then he wanted to know exactly.
Jinde looked back at him. Thinking back now, he probably hadn’t known how to react at first. At that moment, they had been standing in the throne room, some of his advisers not far away. Hearing him ask this, quite a few of them turned rigid. They obviously hadn’t thought that he had heard them talk and would even bring this up in front of the king.
Even though they had known Jinde for a long time and knew that he was a benevolent person and wouldn’t get angry over something like this, they should have been afraid. After all, this had resulted from something they had said and Jinde hadn’t intended to talk about that with him. Otherwise, why would he have raised him like his own son?
Jinde looked at these people but finally just crouched down in front of Jin Ling. He had smiled just as beautifully as he ever did and reached out, brushing back Jin Ling’s hair. “An orphan is a child that lost its parents. Sometimes, the child will be taken in by a nice person and raised by them as their own child. Then it’s an adopted child. But you don’t need to worry about these things. You’re my child. That’s the only thing you need to know. You’re my child and you will always be my child. There’s nothing else to worry about.” His golden eyes curved into little crescents and he leaned forward, gently kissing Jin Ling’s forehead and softly combing through his hair with his fingers.
His child … Back then, he had felt that it was great. Being his child meant that he was special to Jinde. After all, he was his only child. There could be friends and there could be family but there was only one child. Wasn’t that great? He was this special to Jinde!
Who could have known that being his child was actually that bad? The feelings he finally developed … they couldn’t be realized because he was his one and only child.