With Jing He’s palace decorated, Qiu Ling was missing the next excuse for staying a while longer. Thankfully, just then steps once again sounded from the entrance. A row of servants walked in, each of them carrying a little tray with the things the kitchens had made out of the pumpkin pulp.
Once again, Jing He leaped to his feet and tried to distance himself from Qiu Ling. And once again his lover shamelessly clung to him. Jing He could only pretend that nothing was going on. He nodded at the servants and had them put everything down on the table before they took their leave and the two of them were alone again.
They looked at each other. Qiu Ling gripped his hand and gently led him back to the table. “Let’s eat.” He sat down and pulled Jing He onto his lap again. Naturally, he wouldn’t let such a good opportunity slip through his hands. “My love, what do you want to try first?” He didn’t even look at the dishes and just observed Jing He’s face.
The crown prince couldn’t help but avert his gaze. Being looked at like that by Qiu Ling made him too nervous.
Qiu Ling took a quick glance at the table and picked up a little cake. “Have a taste.” He carefully held it in front of Jing He’s lips, his heart beating wildly. Ah, he finally had the chance to feed his beloved!
Jing He hesitated but finally couldn’t resist in the face of Qiu Ling’s expectant gaze. He leaned forward and took a bite. The cake was sweet but it probably couldn’t compare even slightly to the sweetness Qiu Ling felt at this moment. He hurriedly picked up something else and fed it to his beloved.
In the end, Jing He had to stop him before his lover could stuff him with everything on the table. “Thank you.” He hurriedly grabbed Qiu Ling’s hand and smiled. “This really is an interesting custom.”
Qiu Ling nodded and smiled with satisfaction. “Then what shall we do now, my love?”
“Is there no other custom for this mortal festival?”
“Uh …” Qiu Ling’s gaze flitted about. They had already done whatever he had observed in that lower realm. In that situation, there was only one possibility: He had to use his creativity and make something up! Something that would impress his beloved!
Qiu Ling’s gaze finally found something interesting: A scroll of paper was lying on the table where Jing He was sometimes painting. Most likely his beloved had wanted to paint today, too. Mn, actually, he himself was also quite good at painting. He should display his skills for him to see!
Qiu Ling stood up and had Jing He sit down again. “There is actually another part of the custom: They’ll paint each other. Just sit here, my love.”
“Just like this?” Jing He was a little surprised. They just painted each other once a year on this day? That seemed quite strange.
Qiu Ling straightened up. He also felt that it sounded strange. “Uh, naturally, they wouldn’t just paint each other. It’s … a special kind of painting.”
“Oh? How so?”
“They …” He looked at the pumpkins and wanted to say that they did a painting with a pumpkin but he had already told him that they were immensely heavy. If he let him hold one now …
Qiu Ling gave a cough and vanished into the garden. Where had that dastardly beast gone that had dared to snuggle in his beloved’s arms? He leaped into the field of flowers …
And found himself face to face with the Heavenly Emperor.
Both of them stiffened and Qiu Ling wanted to hurry away when he noticed something: The guy was holding the black thing he was searching for.
Qiu Ling reached over, grabbed it and with an attitude of ‘I don’t see you if you don’t see me’ he took it and just left. When he stepped inside, he closed the doors though. Who would want to be observed by his future father-in-law when flirting with his beloved?
Jing He raised his brows in surprise but before he could ask he was presented with the furry cat again. “This …”
“You should hold it for the painting.” He wanted to turn around when he saw Jing He’s hands move. “Don’t pet it!” he hurriedly advised, making Jing He pause. “It … uh, it wouldn’t be good for the painting if you did.” And certainly not good for my heart.
Jing He nodded but still tickled the little thing under its chin. Such an adorable creature, how could he treat it coldly?
Qiu Ling took out a few candles and distributed them around Jing He to substitute the sunlight. The gentle shimmer made Jing He’s hair seem even more like black silk and his pale skin seemed even smoother. Ah, what a sight to behold!
With a bright smile lighting up his face, Qiu Ling started to paint.
Outside in the gardens, a certain someone bit his sleeve, unable to control his emotions. He could only see the gentle light inside. Just what was that dandy doing to his precious son?! However much he raged there was nothing he could do besides waiting for those doors to open again.
While the Heavenly Emperor was frustrated, the two people inside were in a good mood. Jing He played with the little cat in his arms while Qiu Ling … painted. Alright, half of the time was used to just stare at Jing He but slowly a painting of him indeed emerged on the scroll.
Qiu Ling was thrilled with this result. Honestly, he loved painting him! It was nearly as good as looking at him directly. Mn, he had to paint carefully so that it would look especially lifelike.
Qiu Ling discarded the black ink and picked up some of the painting colors Jing He had in his palace. He hummed a tune and started to add color to the robe. He even made sure to paint the embroidery faithfully down to the last detail. Ah, his beloved was so beautiful, so graceful, so lovely!
He gave a satisfied sigh before finally putting down the brush. Then, he hurried over, grabbed the furry thing from Jing He’s arms and threw it aside. “My love, I’ve finished. How about you take a look and tell me if you like it?”
Jing He let his lover pull him to his feet and nodded. “Mn, I’d like to do that very much.” It had looked as if Qiu Ling put a lot of effort into painting. The result should be pretty good.
Qiu Ling gently led his beloved over to the table and watched his expression with rapt attention. What would his Jing He say to his painting? Did he like it? Ah, why hadn’t he said anything yet?
Jing He examined the painting. Sure enough, it was beautiful. The light from the candles, as well as the shadows his clothes cast, were displayed as if real. Even his smile had been captured on the scroll. It was just …
“Qiu Ling, say, what about the magical beast? Didn’t I hold it the entire time? How come it’s not on the painting?”
A certain dragon king just blinked. Uh? “Magical beast? I didn’t see any.”
Jing He looked up and blinked, too. His lover looked back at him, his gaze extremely earnest. If Jing He hadn’t known him good enough yet, he might have believed what he said. In the end, Jing He didn’t call him out on it though and smiled just like in the painting.
“I probably remembered wrong. The painting really is beautiful. It’s probably the most beautiful painting ever done of me. As expected of my Longjun.”
Qiu Ling smiled, too. Mn, how right he was! “It’s not because of me. It’s because of you. Naturally, a painting portraying crown prince Jing He would be beautiful.”
Before Jing He could respond, Qiu Ling had already swooped him into an embrace and kissed him. Mn, this human ritual really was a great thing. He should look for some other customs and celebrate those, too.