Jing He had mixed feelings about the situation but he couldn’t deny that his heart was beating faster in anticipation. Just once. Just once he would indulge in this type of behavior. After today, he would go back to doing what his father expected of him. Just a few hours, that shouldn’t be asking for too much, should it?
In the end, Jing He didn’t dare to ponder it too deeply. He nodded in answer to Qiu Ling’s question and gave a smile. “Since Longjun already prepared, I would be letting you down if I rejected.”
Qiu Ling smiled as well and happily squeezed his hand. “Then let’s go.” He didn’t wait for an answer and pulled him to the door into the garden, evading the guards at the front door once again. Anyway, these guys hadn’t noticed that he came in so they had to be pretty useless. And he didn’t want anyone to spy on them while they had their romantic outing so he definitely wouldn’t give them an opportunity to find out and alarm somebody. If that old man found out and came to bother them … It would truly be too unlucky!
Qiu Ling stopped in front of the door though and turned to Jing He. “We’ll have to walk a bit. Would you like me to carry you?”
Jing He couldn’t help but look up, staring at Qiu Ling’s face in a daze. Carry him? How could that be? Sure, Longjun had indeed carried him before but that had been because he didn’t have any time or opportunity to tell him off beforehand. He couldn’t let that happen now. Even if he was already a little daring and going with him despite his father forbidding him to do so, he couldn’t go that far.
Jing He shook his head and hastily lowered his gaze again. Looking at this man … It wasn’t too good. More often than not, he would have trouble looking away afterward. The best course of action was not to look in the first place.
Qiu Ling was a little disappointed. Even though he hadn’t held much hope that his beloved would agree, it still would have been a very good feeling to pick him up and carry him in his arms. Well, today was just one day of many. He would have opportunities to carry him in the future. Thus he tugged at Jing He’s hand and pulled him away from the palace. “Let’s go by foot then.”
Jing He nodded and kept his gaze trained on the ground, following Qiu Ling quietly.
Qiu Ling really would’ve liked if his beloved looked up at him more often but right now, it wasn’t too bad. After all … He had no idea where the site for their romantic picnic had been prepared! He still needed to find out.
Qiu Ling looked around and finally managed to spot a dragon not too far from them. He pursed his lips, wondering what he should do now. Having somebody lead the way would make it too obvious that he hadn’t personally prepared things. Then maybe his beloved would be disappointed? After all, it would definitely seem that he cared more if he did everything by himself. Mn, he shouldn’t let him find out.
Qiu Ling waved at the dragon, signaling for him to stay away.
The dragon froze for a moment but then thought of what Xiang Yong had told him: His Majesty didn’t like other people getting close to his lover. That’s … Well, they weren’t married yet, so that wasn’t a wonder. Thus the man stayed in the distance and even consciously tried to hide so the crown prince wouldn’t see him. He still led the way though, making Qiu Ling slowly follow him through the streets of the capital and finally to the outskirts.
Qiu Ling looked around and felt that Xiang Yong had done quite well with preparing this. Outside of the capital, there was undisturbed nature. There was a forest in front of them, a green meadow with vibrant flowers to their feet, a stream not too far away … This was a very scenic spot. Just perfect for his purpose!
Xiang Yong had indeed expended a lot of energy to find the spot. He hadn’t done so on short notice though. As soon as their king expressed his interest in the Son of Heaven, he had some people scout the capital city of the Nine Heavens, as well as the surrounding area and compiled some documents detailing the information that he had found.
He had also started to investigate everything he could about the relationships and positions of the people in the Nine Heavens’ capital city to make sure that they knew which person it was that their king had pissed off and what they might be able to do to smooth everyone’s ruffled feathers.
In short, after Qiu Ling’s less than stellar performance at the Heavenly Emperor birthday banquet and his following trespassing into the capital to kidnap the Son of Heaven, Xiang Yong had started to prepare for all kinds of disasters.
Who would’ve known that the information he had collected would come in this handy? Well, he hadn’t bothered to tell their king just why he had been able to work so successfully. Some things … It was better if the person involved didn’t know. Otherwise, with their king’s temper, there was no way to know how he’d react.
As long as they were able to raise their king’s chances in wooing the Son of Heaven by even a little bit, it was all worth the effort. After all, if this didn’t work out, their king would stay alone forever. That wouldn’t be too good. Having a sensible consort at his side would make the situation for his advisers much more bearable. Thus, helping him in this endeavor was also good for them.
While Qiu Ling delighted in the fact that he had another subject that wasn’t completely useless, Jing He took a look around and couldn’t help but be impressed as well. The dragon king … Surprisingly, he had very good taste.
Jing He had never left the capital city and thus hadn’t been to the outskirts either so this place was new to him. He felt that it was indeed very beautiful. Spending a few hours here, it wasn’t too bad. Furthermore, this far outside, not many people should pass by, right? In that case, nobody would be disturbing them for the time being.
He nodded to himself and then turned to what the dragon king had prepared: A cloth had been spread out on the grass, the color a deep blue with some faint embroidery. Pillows were stacked on one half, the color matching the cloth below and giving it a comfortable feeling. Two tables had been set up, a few dishes and a tea set arranged on them. All of it was very tasteful and none of it violated any of the gods’ customs. Sitting down there, there would be enough space between them and since the table wasn’t shared, they also wouldn’t be too close. Still, it would be a shared memory, wasn’t that already very good?
A light smile graced Jing He’s lips and he slightly inclined his head toward Qiu Ling. “Longjun has put a lot of thought and effort into this. I’m happy that you’ve considered me so much.”
Qiu Ling beamed. Indeed, not useless at all! That Fu Hong was quite good, this Xiang Yong also wasn’t bad. So in the end, he had at least two people he could count on for these things. He should take note of that and give them some more tasks.
Even though Qiu Ling was happy about them, he didn’t need long to push the thought aside and just focus on his beloved. He squeezed his hand, his voice lowering unwittingly. “I’m happy that Your Highness is delighted. Let’s good over then, shall we?”
Jing He nodded, not even minding that Qiu Ling held his head. Anyway, he had done this several times in the past and today was a special day. Why shouldn’t he give in a little?
They walked over but just when Jing He wanted to step on the cloth, he was suddenly pulled forward and collided with a broad chest. A small gasp escaped his lips and he looked up at Qiu Ling with widened eyes.
The dragon king requited his gaze earnestly. “Careful.”
Jing He stared at him in a daze. This … He really didn’t know what he was supposed to say. Obviously, he hadn’t stumbled. He glanced at the ground and there was nothing he could have stumbled over. So to say … The person he had just praised in his mind had suddenly engineered such a situation.
In the end, he couldn’t call him out. It was his own fault for staying so close to him and giving him this opportunity. In the future, he should probably …
Jing He’s eyes flickered and he lowered his gaze, his fingertips lightly brushing the black robe below them.
What future? There was no future for them. He might as well pretend with him and enjoy the short moment.
Jing He forced himself to smile but the sadness in his gaze was evident. “Thank you very much, Longjun. I truly was careless.” He looked up at that man’s face again and couldn’t help but think that he had truly been careless.
Two years ago, it would’ve been easy to extricate himself and return to how his life had been before. But now, he felt reluctant. Even though there was no real relationship between them, he didn’t want to let him go. He didn’t want to miss out on seeing this person again. He truly … had carelessly let this person into his life had grown used to him.