The Da He festival was held at the Da He or at the least at the place that remained of it: The River of Forgetfulness.
The gods had crowded around the water, blocking almost every bot of land on the banks. Jing He couldn’t help but worry. He had never liked being among many people. This kind of festival … he had always been happy that he didn’t have to attend before he came of age. Now, this kind of excuse couldn’t be used anymore. He would have to get used to it and maintain his image the whole time.
Qiu Ling glanced over when his beloved tensed. His first impulse was to grab his hands and ask what was wrong but he bit his tongue before the words could come out. No, he couldn’t do this! He had to remember what Fu Min had said! Those had really been wise words even though he hadn’t understood them at first. But now that he did and had even managed to implement this great advice once, he couldn’t fall back into his old behavior. He had to get a grip on himself and think clearly!
Qiu Ling glanced around to find out what could be bothering his beloved. There wasn’t much to see. Just a lot of gods around the water. Mn … He furrowed his brows and pondered. Ah! Could it actually be?! His beloved was afraid of water?!
Qiu Ling glanced at Jing He again. Mn, that had to be it. Ah, who would have thought? But then again it was only sensible for his beloved to be afraid. What if some jealous maiden pushed him in or something and he drowned? That was entirely possible! Tsk, such a daring plan! He would prevent this under any circumstances!
Qiu Ling wanted to grab Jing He’s hand to reassure him but once again he managed to hold him back at the last possible moment. Mn, what would a mature and responsible person do in this kind of situation? Mn … reassuring him should still be alright, shouldn’t it? In that case, he just couldn’t touch him.
Qiu Ling slightly turned to his beloved and moved his arm so his sleeve brushed Jing He’s to get his attention.
Jing He indeed looked up. “Longjun …”
“Don’t worry.” Qiu Ling wanted to explain but he was afraid his words might not be what Jing He expected so he could only stay vague. “I’m here.”
Jing He’s expression blanked before a gentle smile lifted the corners of his mouth. “Having Longjun with me reassures me very much.” Right, with this man at his side, there was no reason to worry. Those with weaker constitutions wouldn’t dare to approach or even look at them and those stronger would look at Longjun. Wasn’t that right? A strong person always looked at an equally strong person. And a beautiful person would look for an equally beautiful partner. Today, nobody would pay attention to him. All eyes would be on Longjun. Even if his expression slipped for a moment, nobody would notice.
Qiu Ling’s heart beat madly at the sight of that smile. His beloved … could it be he was falling for him right this moment? This … this pretending to be mature was really such a great move! Thankfully, he had taken the chance to be with him today. Otherwise, he might have never found out and they would still be in the same situation where he pursued and his beloved told him off for being inappropriate ten times a day. Now … now that wouldn’t be necessary anymore! Well … it wouldn’t be very soon. They still needed to marry if he had understood Jing He the right way.
Qiu Ling hurriedly restrained his gaze before his beloved could feel he was being inappropriate again. Seeing the person that normally stuck to him so closely behave this way Jing He couldn’t help but look at him a moment longer.
On a bridge that had been erected above the River of Forgetfulness for the festival, the Heavenly Emperor’s hands tightened around the railing. Why was his son looking at that stupid dandy with such an expression?! Don’t tell him his son had really fallen for that bastard!
Bai Fen patted her husband’s arm and shook her head. “Don’t think too much. Jing He knows what can and cannot be done. Longjun insists on spending time with him. Regardless of how he feels, Jing He wouldn’t complain about it based alone on the fact who Longjun is. You also know that so don’t you dare throw a tantrum. Look at your son! He’s so …” Pitiful. She swallowed her real thoughts and forced herself to smile. “Dependable. He wouldn’t do anything inappropriate.”
The Heavenly Emperor nodded proudly. “Naturally.” That was his precious son, after all! Why would he do anything wrong? Jing He had been brought up that well, there was no need to worry at all. Mn, he should still see to it that that bastard wouldn’t bother him too much in the future.
On the riverbanks, the gods couldn’t help but whisper among themselves.
“Isn’t that crown prince Jing He?”
“The Son of Heaven?”
“That man … isn’t it Longjun? What is the dragon king here?”
“How come the dragon king is accompanying His Highness?”
“I also thought His Highness would arrive with the Heavenly Emperor and Empress. How come he’s with him?”
“They make a beautiful couple.”
Who knew who had said the latter but it made the other people shut up. Only the rushing of the river and the breeze that made the leaves on the trees rustle accompanied Jing He and Qiu Ling while they walked toward the bridge. The gods didn’t even dare to breathe. They quietly opened up a way for what seemed like a couple, letting Jing He and Qiu Ling pass by.
Jing He was on tenterhooks but he kept the usual smile on his face. He couldn’t allow anyone to find a fault with him! Ah, but how come people were looking at him, after all? Shouldn’t they be paying more attention to the dragon king next to him? Why were they …
Qiu Ling’s sleeve brushed his, drawing his attention. When he looked up he found the dragon king’s lips curled up slightly. Looking from the side … he seemed less imposing and just … very, very handsome.
Jing He’s heart leaped and he looked away, wondering just what he was doing here. What if his face flushed? Wouldn’t everyone think …
They finally reached the bridge. Normally, he should be standing up there with his parents now that he had come of age. But Longjun was next to him and this was a festival the gods had organized. Moreover, Longjun didn’t know how it was celebrated, did he? If he asked him to accompany him, they would embarrass themselves, wouldn’t they?
Before he could decide, a hand was held in front of him.
Jing He looked up again. This time Longjun was also looking at him. His gaze … it was steady and reassured as if all of this was in his control. As if in trance, Jing He reached out and put his own slender hand into the bigger one.
Qiu Ling lightly held onto it and led him up the bridge, each step slow and regal as if he felt it was expected for everyone to wait until they were ready. None of the gods at the riverbanks felt it was a bother either.
Just look! Such a handsome couple, they wouldn’t mind watching a few more hours. Actually, would those two attend every festival together now? Then they might just start to take things more seriously. Coming first here in the morning was a must! They had to get good places so they could appreciate the beauty of this pair appropriately!
Qiu Ling and Jing He finally reached the top. They looked calm but Qiu Ling was cursing inside. He had no idea what to do! He had only walked so slow to win some more time! With his beloved … and, well, maybe so he could figure out how to react once they reached the top of the bridge. Unfortunately, they were already there. He was very satisfied with holding Jing He’s hand for so long but he still didn’t know how to proceed!
Before Qiu Ling could decide anything, Jing He took his hand back and nodded at his parents. “Father. Mother.”
“Mn.” The Heavenly Emperor murmured a greeting but he didn’t look at Jing He and instead pierced Qiu Ling with his stares.
The Heavenly Empress, on the other hand, smiled at the two of them. “Jing He. Longjun. Please.” She motioned at the other rail, solving Qiu Ling’s problem.
Ah, his mother-in-law was the best! She was definitely his second favorite person! He turned to Jing He and also motioned to the side.
Jing He nodded and stepped over to the handrail, folding his hands on top of it. Qiu Ling followed him. He took a deep breath, raised his chin and folded his hands behind his back. This way … he should look the most handsome, shouldn’t he?