With Qiu Ling using every opportunity to spend time with him and making every effort to let him still be comfortable, Jing He couldn’t help but slowly form a favorable opinion of this person that had scared him so much at first. It slowly made him feel that he was the real problem in this relationship. The dragon king had done so much while he barely managed to think of inviting him to drink a cup of tea or play a game of weiqi. Even after knowing the other person for almost a year and finding out more and more about the dragon race, he still knew almost nothing about him as a person. Obviously, he hadn’t tried hard enough to bring them closer together.
“Jing He.” The Heavenly Emperor looked at his son with worry. Somehow, his precious child seemed a little absent-minded for the last few days. Could it be something was wrong? Had Jing He fallen sick? Was somebody bullying him?! “Did something happen? You can tell father. I’ll send someone to break his legs.”
Jing He glanced up at his father’s worried face before lowering his gaze again. “There’s no need, father. All is well. I was just thinking.”
“Thinking about what?” There wouldn’t be some wild man that had dared to ogle his darling son, would there? Then he’d definitely have to let people break more than just a leg!
Jing He didn’t pay any mind to his father’s strange tone and instead turned to look out the window. “Isn’t the Da He Festival coming up soon?”
Rong Su blinked. Ah? His son was just thinking about a festival? Could it be … “Ah, so you were wondering how to spend the day of the festival? Don’t you worry! Father can accompany you the whole day if you’d like! There’s no need to do anything big that day.”
Jing He smiled slightly. “There’s no need for that, father. The festival is meant to be used to remember the past and envision the future. How could I keep father from doing so? Furthermore … I’m sure mother would very much like if you invited her to spend the festival with you.”
Rong Su froze. Ah. As much as he would like to spend the day with his son, it wasn’t wrong that his wife would probably like to spend the day with him too. “Uh … We could spend the day together. All three of us. How does that sound?”
Jing He gave another noncommittal smile. “I can go and ask mother whether she’d like to spend the festival with you.”
“Mn! That would be good!” Ah, what a good son he had! He also knew that he didn’t dare to ask his mother lightly so he went out of his way to inquire for him! Mn, his son was really the best!
Jing He used the opportunity to get up and straightened his sleeves. “It isn’t far until the festival anymore. I’d better go and ask her now.”
“Ah? You want to go already?” The Heavenly Emperor also got to his feet and gently took his son’s hands. Maybe he didn’t want to spend the day of the festival with his wife, after all.
“Father can wait for my good news.” He took his hands back, nodded and left the palace, going straight to his mother’s palace instead.
Right now, the Heavenly Empress was sitting in front of the lake beside her palace with a cup of tea in hand. The wind made her hair dance but she didn’t seem to notice.
Jing He quietly approached her. “Mother.”
Bai Fen looked up and smiled, patting the seat beside her. “Jing He, did you manage to get away from your father? Come, come, sit over here. I really thought he was going to hog you to himself all day.”
Jing He sat down and also looked at the lake. Lotus flowers decorated the surface and a stone formation rose out of the water on the other side. “Father wants to know whether you’d like to spend the Da He Festival with him.”
Bai Fen chuckled. “You mean you don’t want to spend it with him? Then who are you going to spend it with? Longjun?”
Jing He’s cheeks flushed and he hurriedly lowered his head. “That … I don’t know what mother is talking about.”
“So you weren’t intending to invite him? But you spent a lot of time in the past year and considering how things have been going so far, you might spend even more time together in the future. Are you sure you don’t want to spend the festival with him?”
Jing He looked at the pond again and sighed. “Father won’t like it if I invite him. I thought … maybe I could gift him something. He’s bringing something over for me every now and then but I never did anything. Wouldn’t it be rude if I didn’t reciprocate even when there’s an occasion?”
“I don’t think Longjun thinks like that. Most likely his head is filled with thoughts like ‘Ah, he’s so beautiful. Ah, he’s so kind. Ah, there’s nobody better than him in all of the immortal realms! Ah, I couldn’t love anybody more than him!”
Jing He blushed even deeper. From how Longjun had acted up until now, that definitely was what he would think but … did his mother have to spell it out like that? That man was still the ruler of a realm! He shouldn’t be ridiculed like that.
Bai Fen chuckled when she saw her son’s reaction. “What is it? Don’t you like your mother talking like that about your future husband?”
“He’s —” Jing He stopped. He had wanted to say that he was the dragon king but then his mother’s words finally sunk in. His future husband. This … was this truly what his mother thought? So he was indeed supposed to marry Longjun?
He wanted to keep calm but his heart couldn’t help but palpitate. Marriage … It had seemed like something far off in the future. Now, he was forced to think about it. Well, the dragon king wasn’t a bad choice. He had the status and their appearances matched. He also … wasn’t the worst company. And it wasn’t like he had ever expected to have a marriage filled with love. Well, in that regard, he could probably count himself happy that Longjun indeed liked him. How long that would last though …
Jing He watched the lotus flowers drift around in the water and couldn’t help but feel that he wasn’t much different. Whatever came he would have to deal with it somehow. Whether Longjun managed to convince his father and they married indeed or if his father found another possible candidate that he had to marry, it wasn’t like he could decide. He could only wait and see and react to it. That was all. Everything else … was outside his means.
Bai Fen watched her son’s expression and suppressed a sigh. She had hoped things would change with Longjun in the picture but it seemed that man’s effect had only been of use for a short time. Jing He might have been flustered at first but by now, he was already the one he had been before. Calm and collected, a young man that could deal with anything even if deep down, he couldn’t.
Bai Fen reached out and brushed his hair back. “Jing He, be honest with me. About Longjun … do you like him or not?”
“Longjun is very sincere.”
“That’s not what I asked about.”
Jing He glanced at his mother before turning back to the pond. Did he … like him? He didn’t know. What was it like to love someone? He had always thought that he would know should he ever … But maybe that had been wrong. And what if he liked him? If he told his mother, she would try to find a way to convince his father. And maybe he would give in under her coercion. Then Longjun and he might indeed marry. And what then? They would live together and … one day, he would take over his father’s position while Longjun … maybe he would give his position to somebody else or they would raise a child that …
He closed his eyes. No. With their positions in the Nine Heavens and the dragon realm, they would need to raise two. After all, even though he himself was still young, Longjun had been the dragon king for a rather long time. He would need a successor sooner but someday, he himself would also need one. And they certainly couldn’t have one person follow onto the throne of both realms. Even though the gods and dragons were allies, that wouldn’t be possible.
Jing He tried to imagine such a life. Being with Longjun wasn’t much of a problem. He was … a little clingy but that was nothing he couldn’t deal with. But as the father of a child … Somehow, he couldn’t imagine that at all. Well, that might not be too bad either. Longjun was already governing his own realm. So maybe he would continue to do so while he stayed in the Nine Heavens and raised those children? It wouldn’t be too bad. He could … make sure they were happy.
Bai Fen furrowed her brow. “Jing He, what are you thinking about?” He wasn’t pondering if he liked Longjun or not for that long, was he?
Jing He finally turned to his mother. “Mother, do you think there is any chance for father to accept him?”
The Heavenly Empress sighed and patted her son’s shoulder. “If you want him to accept Longjun, then we will find a way.” But your question really makes me wonder if it is such a good idea. Obviously, you haven’t fallen in love yet. That man … Although he managed to upset your heart in the beginning and make you flustered, he is still a long way from obtaining it.