Jing He looked at Qiu Ling with a complicated expression. He probably shouldn’t be surprised that this man had appeared here. When had he ever cared about what anybody else said? No, this man always did what he thought to be right. He didn’t care about other people’s opinions or any customs. If he wanted to do it, he would do it. No questions asked.
Qiu Ling furrowed his brows when he didn’t get an answer. “What is it? Are you really not feeling well? Do you want to sit down?” He carefully took Jing He’s hand and wrapped an arm around his waist. This time, he didn’t have any thoughts about it though. He just couldn’t help but feel that something wasn’t right with his beloved and that he should do something to help.
He led him over to the table and made him sit down, peering into his face. Mn … Looking at him like this, it was hard to say if he was a little paler or if that was just the way he usually looked. Anyway, he was as beautiful as ever.
Jing He looked up at Qiu Ling and gave a smile. “Many thanks to Longjun.”
Qiu Ling nodded but he didn’t feel reassured yet. Obviously, something was wrong with his beloved. He should get behind this matter and help him as good as he could. Qiu Ling stared blankly for a moment and then dragged over the chair from the other side of the table and sat down in front of him, clasping his hands again.
Jing He glanced down, his lips parting when he looked at his hands in these bigger ones, almost asking him to let go as he usually did. In the end, he kept quiet. Considering what his father had said, this might be the last time he would see this person. And right now, the warmth from his fingers felt very good. He didn’t want to have to be the person that rejected it on his own. If Longjun took his hands back because he thought it wasn’t right, then that was different from him asking Longjun to let go. He just didn’t want to fulfill these expectations right now.
Qiu Ling quietly looked at Jing He, trying to figure out what was going on in his mind. Unfortunately, he couldn’t think of anything. Looking at him, his heart thumped madly and his breath hitched. How could somebody be this beautiful? How could somebody have such a nice smile even when they obviously weren’t in a good mood?
He wanted to hold his hands forever. Well, if he could, he’d also like to hug him. Now wasn’t the moment for that though. Obviously, there was still something that bothered his beloved. He couldn’t let that happen! His beloved was supposed to be happy. He shouldn’t be made to suffer.
Qiu Ling gently rubbed Jing He’s fingers with his thumb and continued to look at his face. “Did something happen that made you unhappy?”
Jing He shook his head. “Nothing of the like.” Well, nothing of the like that he could speak about.
Qiu Ling continued to caress Jing He’s hand, making him relax bit by bit. “Today, I came by to spend some time with you but I was told you weren’t available. Was somebody bothering you?”
Jing He continued to look at those hands. They were elegant but he could feel a few rough spots from wielding a weapon for many years. Still, their touch was incredibly gentle. He couldn’t help but feel drawn in as if this only natural. “I was with my father.”
Qiu Ling nodded, still examining the changes in Jing He’s expression. He seemed a little … wistful? Qiu Ling narrowed his eyes and tried to come up with a reason for this expression. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find any. Well, he couldn’t find any if he didn’t tell himself that his beloved must’ve missed him. Unfortunately, that didn’t make much sense. After all, wasn’t he here now? So if his beloved still wasn’t happy, something else had to be the matter.
Qiu Ling cleared his throat and gripped Jing He’s hands tighter. “If Your Highness doesn’t want to talk about it, then we will not speak about it any longer.”
Jing He glanced up to Qiu Ling’s eyes, and paused, being entranced by his earnest gaze. This man truly wasn’t as foolish and irresponsible as he had thought in the beginning. “Does Longjun really not mind?”
Qiu Ling continued to look at him, taking in the way how a sliver of surprise flashed through Jing He’s eyes and how his beloved looked at him directly for once. It seemed he was on the right way.
He looked down, giving Jing He a while longer to look at his face while admiring his beautiful hands. “That is a difficult question to ask. On one hand, I would be happy if you told me and I could be of any help to you. On the other hand, if you’re uncomfortable, then you shouldn’t be made to talk. You can keep it to yourself. If you change your mind though … I’ll be there to listen to you. I don’t know if there will be any insights I can offer considering that I’m not of your race and might not understand much that is happening in the Nine Heavens but maybe just telling somebody will make you feel better.”
Jing He’s gaze softened. Yes, if there was somebody he could tell these thoughts, he might indeed feel better. Unfortunately, there was no one. His father wouldn’t want to listen. If he did, he wouldn’t be talking about Longjun this way. He would take his feelings into consideration and …
Jing He lowered his gaze, making his hair fall over his shoulders and cover his face in shadows. If not for the fact that Qiu Ling was sitting right in front of him, it would’ve made it difficult to see his expression.
Jing He looked at the hands, wondering why he was even bothering. Having these thoughts was futile. His father wouldn’t accept it and he, he wouldn’t be able to defy his father’s expectations. Although his mother wanted him to marry Longjun, she wasn’t too adamant about it. So in that case, wasn’t his path already determined? Why was he still stubbornly clinging to this idea of marrying this man? He didn’t even love him!
Jing He’s gaze traveled up but he didn’t dare to look at that face again. His gaze stopped somewhere around Qiu Ling’s collar, taking in the way the black robe clung to his body.
It could have been a beautiful love story. Even if they couldn’t compete with Tian and Xing, people would still look favorably upon them. Yes, the Son of Heaven and the dragon king, what a beautiful story that would be! Wouldn’t it be the fulfillment of all his wishes? And this man loved him so much. Certainly, he would be able to experience the same love that Xing had received. He would give a lot for that.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t like Xing. It wasn’t that his father didn’t care about him and everybody tried to forget about him or make him disappear. No, his father cared about him too much. He wanted to protect him too much. And everybody else was just a stranger he didn’t know. There was no one to talk to, no one to help him figure these things out. Ah, but there was nothing to figure out, was there?
He shook his head at himself and moved his hands, trying to extract them from Qiu Ling’s grasp. “I have embarrassed myself in front of Longjun. You must think I’m a heartless person for not telling you even though we’ve seen each other this often already.”
Qiu Ling still held onto these hands even though he understood that Jing He wanted to take them back. Ah, don’t judge him! He just wanted to hold them a moment longer. He would let go any moment now. Just a bit more … “I don’t want to pry too much. Even though we’ve seen each other very often, we don’t know each other that well. Anyway, since you have something bothering you, why don’t you follow me? I had something planned for today and it might just help to take your mind off things. How does that sound?”
Jing He glanced up, his gaze flickering. Going with him even though his father had forbidden him? That sounded … very rebellious. It didn’t sound like him at all. It sounded like something he wanted to do at all costs though.
Yes, if this was the last opportunity to see this man, then he wanted it to be a memory worthy of him.