Jing He finally found himself in front of the Tower of Wisdom. Or, well, it was probably wrong to say that they were standing in front of it. They were actually standing behind the tower. He glanced at Qiu Ling who smiled happily.
“What do you say?”
“Longjun’s meaning is … we should enter the tower to watch the festival? Well … I guess that would be the best way. The Tower of Wisdom is the highest building in the Nine Heavens’ capital.”
Qiu Ling blinked. That … hadn’t been what he had in mind. He looked up at the tower and lightly pursed his lips. It was one of those buildings with several stories that seemed to be separated by a roof from each other. The building had the same scope on each story, giving the tower a tranquil feeling.
Qiu Ling looked around and made sure that nobody was looking, then he inched closer to Jing He.
“Longjun? What —”
Qiu Ling hugged his beloved to his chest with a smile. “Don’t worry.” He didn’t explain. He just pushed off the ground and jumped onto the first roof, bounced himself off and continued upward.
Jing He had frozen stiff. He wasn’t afraid of heights, after all, he was a trueborn god and could levitate at will, but … this was the first time since last year that Qiu Ling had taken him into his arms unasked. The sudden warmth emanating from his body, the strength of those arms around his waist, and the touch of that hand in his back made his heart beat rapidly. His cheeks flushed and his blood roared in his ears, making him feel faint. He opened his mouth to gulp in a breath of fresh air but only managed to take in Qiu Ling’s scent, clouding his senses even more.
Ah, just what was happening with him? Today, he wasn’t himself at all.
Qiu Ling reached the highest roof and pulled Jing He to the middle, finally letting him out of his arms and stepping back to make sure he didn’t cross any boundary.
When he saw Jing He’s expression … he stared at him in a daze. Don’t tell him … He grimaced and stepped closer again, carefully reaching out and cupping Jing He’s cheek. “Aiya, I’m sorry. Did I scare you?”
Jing He glanced up and his cheeks flushed even further. So close … Qiu Ling was so close … “I …” He pulled away and held onto the lotus that had been sculpted in the middle of the roof. For Qiu Ling, it looked as if he merely wanted to hold onto something to find his footing and calm himself from the fright but Jing He actually wanted to bring some distance between them.
Right now, he had the sudden thought that this man behind him was very dangerous. Not in the sense he had originally thought when he met him a year ago. No, he was certainly very strong physically but the most dangerous thing about him was the effect he had on him. With a few words, with a glance, with a touch, he could jumble his thoughts and influence his emotions in a way that nobody had been able to use before. It was as if … Heaven had sent this man to test him. And he … was about to fail this test. Just a year had made him susceptible to this man’s advances.
Qiu Ling had no idea what was going on in Jing He’s mind. He only regretted catching him this off-guard. Just look at how scared his beloved was!
He approached him from behind until his warmth once again hit Jing He’s body. He didn’t reach out those. Jing He had already stabilized himself so any further physical contact would probably be unwanted. “I’m really sorry. Next time … Next time, I’ll ask before I do something like that.”
Jing He looked back with a slightly pale face. Only his cheeks were still flushed. This man … was so sure that there would be a second time. Did he never doubt himself?
“Are you better yet? How about sitting down?” Qiu Ling reached out but didn’t dare to touch Jing He. In all honesty, he was completely unsure of himself in this regard. It was just that he was very sure of his feelings in return. Even if he didn’t know how exactly he could win Jing He over, he was sure that this person was the love of his life and had to become his life-long partner one day. So even though he didn’t know how to get to that day, he would just tumble forward and try everything he could until it arrived.
Jing He hurried to nod before Qiu Ling could touch him and took a seat next to the sculpture of the lotus. The way Qiu Ling looked at him when he did … His heart jumped and the blush that had just wanted to recede returned. He turned away from Qiu Ling and looked at the capital below.
His expression became dazed in a second. This was … the place where he had lived all those years? He had never seen it like this. How beautiful it was! There was a certain orderliness to it with the buildings and gardens forming perfect squares that were separated by the streets and alleys. The alternation of dark roofs, white paths, and colorful green captivated him. For a moment, he even forgot about his trouble over the uneasiness that overcame him when he was close to the dragon king.
Qiu Ling sat down beside him. He had broken into the capital so often that he had already seen most of it and didn’t care too much. Instead, he watched Jing He’s enraptured expression. It seemed … he liked this type of thing?
Qiu Ling looked at the capital after all but couldn’t see anything that was worth getting this enthralled. It didn’t look too different from the capital of the dragon realm, did it? He felt as if all this was rather normal. Mn, maybe he should find Fu Min and talk about this with him. He might have a good idea what this was about and how it could be used to make Jing He fall in love with him. Mn, such a good opportunity … he couldn’t let it go to waste!
Qiu Ling stored the thought for later. Even though it was important to have a good plan to woo Jing He, it was even more important to spend time with him. And this was an especially good opportunity to do so, one he had fought hard to get! He had to use this until the last possible moment. Qiu Ling slightly leaned toward Jing He and continued to watch him with a satisfied expression.
Only late in the evening when the festival was slowly coming to an end, did Jing He turn toward him. He paused when he saw Qiu Ling watch him. “Longjun … Did you … Was something the matter?”
Qiu Ling shook his head. “No. You were just … looking very beautiful when you watched the festival. I couldn’t help but notice and observe you for a while.”
Jing He lowered his gaze. “So it was like that. I apologize. I didn’t notice at all.”
“No problem. I … am very happy that I had this opportunity.” Qiu Ling reached out and offered Jing He his hand. “Do you want to leave? There aren’t as many people on the streets anymore. We could stroll around if you’d like.”
Jing He hesitated but finally put his hand into Qiu Ling’s. “Thank you for the offer, Longjun. Today … was a beautiful experience for me. For now, I’d like to return to my palace though.”
“A pity. I would have loved to spend some more time with you.”
“I’m sure there will be other … festivals … in the future.” Jing He lowered his gaze. He didn’t know why he promised him this but the words had come naturally to him. He somehow felt that … if this man was at his side, he wouldn’t mind visiting those festivals. Even though he made him feel insecure when he came close, he also gave him a very secure feeling in the face of every unknown experience.
Qiu Ling stood up and pulled Jing He to his feet. He wanted to pull him back into his arms to leap down but Jing He resisted this time.
“Longjun, thank you very much. I think I’m able to get down myself though.”
“Oh.” Qiu Ling couldn’t help but be a little disappointed. He had really looked forward to embracing Jing He again. In the end, he nodded though. “Then let me hold your hand just in case.”
Jing He looked at him and even though he knew that he shouldn’t, he inclined his head and the two of them carefully jumped down, joined at their hands, before they finally returned to Jing He’s palace and bid farewell.