RSH Stratagem 6: Boiling the Frog in … Scalding Hot Water? (2)

Jing He sat down with him again, pouring Qiu Ling another cup of tea and slowly sipping his own. For a short while, the dragon king actually managed to keep quiet and only stared at the beautiful person opposite him. With each minute, it became harder though.

Just when Qiu Ling couldn’t take it any longer, Jing He finally placed down his cup. The dragon king perked up. What would they do now? He really wanted to see how his beloved lived. Hadn’t those other guys said that he should find out as much as possible about him? This was a good chance to add something to what he knew about him!

Jing He glanced up before motioning to the door. “Normally, I would go and take care of the garden now. I don’t know if Longjun …”

“Of course, of course!” Qiu Ling leaped to his feet and hurried around the table, reaching out to pull Jing He to his feet. Just before touching him, he took his hands back. “Uh … Let’s go?”

Jing He took a deep breath to calm his heart that had involuntarily trembled at the sudden approach. He straightened his clothes and got up, leading Qiu Ling to the door. “I’m not sure if this will really be enjoyable for Longjun. I’m afraid I’ll be a bad host.”

“Mn, no. I like it.” Qiu Ling gave him a look that said ‘I’ll like everything as long as it involves you’, making Jing He turn back around.

Ah, what was he supposed to do with this person? He certainly wouldn’t have thought that the one person to make advances on him would be like this. Did he really not have any self-restraint?

They stopped in front of the garden and Jing He took another glance at Qiu Ling. “This … I would normally just see if they are alright and water them a bit.”

“Then let’s do that! Do you want me to help?”

Jing He took in the eager expression and rubbed the hem of his sleeve. This person was the king of the dragon race and a guest no less. He could hardly let him water his flowers, could he? He gave an apologetic smile and lowered his head again. “I wouldn’t expect Longjun to do that.”

“Mn, alright, then I’ll just follow you around.” Qiu Ling didn’t mind at all. In fact, following his beloved around for the whole day sounded like a very, very nice way to pass his time. Thus he happily walked behind him when Jing He went to fetch water and looked over his shoulder while he tended to the plants.

A few minutes into their time together, a certain someone grew restless though. He walked next to Jing He and looked at his profile. Mn, his beloved was so beautiful …

Jing He’s smile froze in place but he forced himself to continue watering the flowers. He had to get used to the fact that the dragons were more direct than the gods. Nothing would change about that. He had to make some concessions himself if Longjun was trying so hard to get to know his race better.

“Mn …” He searched for something he could say but Qiu Ling was faster.

When he saw Jing He look away and his lips open, he hurriedly thought whether he had done something wrong. Could it be his beloved had caught him staring at him and thought this was crossing a line? He had to do something to divert his attention!

He casually pointed at a plant. “What’s that?”

Jing He’s attention was indeed diverted. He looked in the direction where Qiu Ling was pointing. “You mean the flower with the blue-white petals?”

Qiu Ling glanced in the direction himself and nodded. “Mn. It looks … very stunning with that blue color.” Just like the robe you were wearing the day we met.

“That is the midnight-star bell.” Jing He glanced at Qiu Ling’s face to see if he had understood but was met with an expression that could have meant anything. “Ah, it’s a … flower that grows in all three immortal realms. Legend has it that Heaven himself brought it into the world in response to the prayers his future lover sent him at midnight.”

“Oh. So it’s … a flower for lovers.” Qiu Ling took another look at the plant. Well, it probably was pretty? Maybe his beloved would like to be gifted some of them? Mn, he should see if he could find some in the dragon realm.

Jing He wasn’t sure how to answer this. “Well, it … kind of is? I guess it is a symbol for their love, at least.”

“Then …” Qiu Ling stepped a little closer. He really would have liked to take Jing He’s hands now but he clenched his own into fists to make sure he wouldn’t give in to the urge. “If you liked someone … would you gift him one of them?”

Jing He’s gaze lowered even further. He could imagine where this question was coming from. Well, at least he was only asking. “I don’t think I would.”

“Why that? Is there nobody you like?” His brows furrowed. Didn’t his beloved like him back at least a little bit?

Jing He turned back to the garden and motioned at another flower, further away from them. “I guess that flower would be more appropriate.”

“Which one?” Qiu Ling tried to see it between all the other ones but he hadn’t paid attention when Jing He pointed over and could only guess the general direction. Ah, no! Why hadn’t he looked immediately? Now he couldn’t get such a flower!

Jing He didn’t mind though. “Ah, it probably can’t be seen well from here. How about going over?”

Qiu Ling nodded eagerly. “Yes, yes, let’s do that!” He happily followed behind Jing He.

They finally held in front of a flower that was as tall as a hand and had two pink blossoms. Qiu Ling examined it before looking up at Jing He. To him, it didn’t look much different to the flower from before just that it wasn’t blue with those white dots but instead pink.

Jing He gave a slight smile. “This is the lover’s heart.”

“Lover’s heart?” The flower managed to gain another glance from Qiu Ling. This sounded much more interesting!

“Mn, it always has two blossoms and they look like a heart, don’t they? If one of them is hurt, the other will wither together with it. So it’s as if the flower wants to say that those two blossoms, like the hearts of two lovers, will only beat together and never alone.”

Qiu Ling nodded sheepishly. Mn, how romantic! What a great flower!

“So often times, the gods would gift one of these flowers when they fall in love.”

“That’s … not so different from us dragons.”

Jing He looked up at that remark. Was the dragon king really telling him that going to hunt for the real heart of a beast and plucking a flower shaped like a heart was almost the same thing? That seemed … He sighed and turned away. “Maybe you’re right about that.”

Qiu Ling nodded and took another look at the flower to make sure he would recognize it later on. He definitely had to get this one for his beloved and present it to him to make sure his Jing He knew nothing had changed about his feelings!

With that in mind, Qiu Ling continued to follow him, his thoughts circling around how touched his beloved would be when he brought him such a lover’s heart. Mn, maybe he would grab his hands in gratitude or maybe even … Ah …

Jing He looked back when the steps behind him stopped and was faced with a man sporting a very silly grin. For a moment, Jing He couldn’t turn away. When had anybody ever shown such an expression in front of him? And the dragon king was obviously very, very far away with his thoughts.

Jing He waited a moment. Finally, he inched closer. “Longjun?”

He didn’t get an answer. A certain someone was obviously still caught up in imagining his beloved’s gratefulness and how he would express his own feelings after receiving such a heartfelt confession again.

Jing He hesitated before looking at that face again, this time not just glancing but indeed examining him unabashedly from close-up as he had never done before.

Not considering the silly smile, this really was a face that was good to look at. Very symmetric with narrow eyes and straight brows that were only inclined at the end, barely noticeable under his black hair. It was a very manly face, very fitting for a warrior like him.

That smile though … Jing He looked at it and the way it made those dark eyes sparkle with happiness. The usually sharp glare wasn’t noticeable anymore at all. Actually, it was nice to see him smile like this.

Jing He hummed and turned away, a small smile tugging at his own lips. Maybe it wouldn’t be too bad if his father decided on such a man for him to marry. Maybe Longjun’s feelings would wear off or maybe they wouldn’t but he would never be able to reciprocate them. He didn’t know. But at least they would make a fine couple. That was probably what people would expect.

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