Qiu Ling deeply looked at Jing He, feeling slightly guilty. That sad look just now … He hadn’t imagined that, had he? No, it seemed he had unconsciously gone too far. He should probably hold back a little in the future. After all, even though he craved Jing He’s proximity, he didn’t want to achieve it in exchange for Jing He’s happiness.
Even though Qiu Ling thought that, he still didn’t let go of Jing He. Don’t kid him! He finally had the person he loved in his arms. How could he let go of him this fast? No, no, since he wouldn’t be able to hold him close again in the near future, he had to savor this precious moment for a bit longer!
Thus, he kept holding him for a few breaths before he very gently took Jing He’s arm, leading him onto the cloth and helping him to sit down. “It’s good as long as you’re alright.”
Jing He nodded and didn’t even pull back now that they were seated. Anyway, since he had decided to enjoy this day, he would do so. They were alone anyway. Why should he care? Nobody was there to judge him and the dragon king wouldn’t mind. No, Longjun had tried to win him over for so long, it was likely that he was happy that they had gotten this far.
Even though Jing He didn’t evade Qiu Ling, he still couldn’t look him in the eye. He faced to the side, his gaze brushing over the prepared tables and the dishes on top. Taking a closer look, he couldn’t help but notice that he only knew a few of them. “These should be … some dishes exclusive to the dragon realm?”
Qiu Ling glanced at the table and nodded. “Ah … They are.” Ah, this Xiang Yong had made some interesting choices. His beloved should be happy with those, shouldn’t he?
He picked up a plate with a dish that was made out of fruits and … leaves? He looked at it a little strangely. Had there always been leaves in this? Could you actually eat them? Ah, his beloved wouldn’t ask about that, would he? Anyway, they shouldn’t be poisonous …
Qiu Ling lightly furrowed his brows but still pushed it closer to Jing He. “Why don’t you have a taste?”
Jing He looked at the plate and carefully picked up one of the fruits. If he wasn’t wrong this should be an amber berry. It was only about the size of a fingernail and of the color its name suggested. They grew in the Nine Heavens as well and were sometimes used as snacks since they were sweet. One normally didn’t find them in other dishes though.
He carefully put it into his mouth. A spicy taste attacked his tongue, making his eyes water. This … Just what was this? He forced himself to swallow it and only then did he notice a faint, sweet aftertaste. Ah, it seemed the berry had been coated with something spicy but was just as sweet on its own as he remembered.
He glanced up at Qiu Ling who didn’t seem to find anything strange. Maybe the dragons had different tastes than the gods so he might not consider it as too much?
Since Longjun still held the plate, Jing He didn’t think that it was would’ve been a good idea to refuse to continue eating after just with this one bite though. He turned back to look at the dish, carefully picking up another fruit. This time, it was a slightly larger one with a deep red color. He carefully bit into it, half-expecting to receive another shock.
Sweetness and enveloped his tongue before a sour taste followed. Jing He looked at the rest of the fruit in surprised. Could it be that this dish relied on contrasting tastes? It was actually quite ingenious.
Jing He swallowed the rest of the fruit and took a bite of a third one under Qiu Ling’s watchful eyes. Sure enough, this one was sour and coated in a sweet, syrupy mass. Jing He gulped down the food and then paused, looking at Qiu Ling. “This dish is interesting. May I ask what it is called?”
“That’s rainbow dew drops.” Qiu Ling looked at Jing He’s face with interest. Did this mean that his beloved liked the dish? He should take note of that! In the future, they could always eat this together!
Jing He nodded. “So it had such a name.” Looking at the dish, he could understand it though. The berries that were used to make it were more or less formed like drops and glistened like dew thanks to their coating. Their colors shimmered through though, giving indeed the impression of looking at a rainbow.
Jing He smiled and took his chopsticks back. “Longjun should also eat some.”
Qiu Ling’s gaze burned into him, making Jing He tense. Had he said something wrong? Or … Qiu Ling’s gaze dropped from Jing He’s eyes to his lips and finally moved to the chopsticks he still held. Jing He’s lips parted. This … This wasn’t what he thought, was it?
Qiu Ling looked up again, feeling torn. He really, really, really wanted to say ‘I’m still holding the plate. You’ll have to feed me.’ but he also knew that his beloved wouldn’t like that. Ah, what a pity! He could imagine the beautiful scene of his beloved using these chopsticks to pick up one of those fruits and then slowly raise it to his lips, saying ‘here’ with a shy smile. Then he’d bite into it and whatever the fruit tasted like, it’d definitely be sweet.
Jing He looked away. For a moment, his hand twitched, almost putting away the chopsticks. He didn’t know what to do then though. Just fold his hands and wait? Pick up Longjun’s chopsticks and …
His cheeks flushed pink and he lowered his head. What was he even thinking? That would be … completely against protocol.
Qiu Ling couldn’t help but feel sad when his beloved faced down. Mn, this was an affront. An affront against the beauty of the world! Without thinking any further, he reached over and grabbed his chin, gently tilting it back upward again.
Jing He’s eyes widened and he stared at the man opposite him in astonishment. This … What was he doing? Touching him like this … It shouldn’t happen. “Long … Longjun.”
“Mn.” Qiu Ling didn’t say anything. He just looked. Ah, his beloved was really too beautiful. Those dark eyes … mn, they had to be the apex of perfection.
Jing He’s hands trembled and that pair of chopsticks finally fell to the ground. He didn’t notice though. He took a shaky breath, trying to calm down but it didn’t work at all. He just noticed how warm Longjun’s fingers were against his skin and that gaze still hadn’t moved a bit. Jing He wanted to look away but Qiu ling still didn’t let go, forcing him to requite his gaze.
On the other hand, Qiu Ling didn’t even notice that he was still holding onto him. He just … he just felt very, very happy. They were so close. His beloved was so beautiful. This day was extremely perfect! Mn … And Jing He was looking at him so intently, his cheeks flushed red and his eyes glistening in an alluring manner. Could it be …
Qiu Ling’s gaze slightly dipped down and he leaned closer, putting away the plate that he had held in his other hand so he could take Jing He’s hand.
The crown prince froze, unable to retreat or advance. He just watched as the dragon king leaned in, their skin touching, that warm breath finally brushing his skin and a faint wisp of a clear scent mingling around him.
What to do now? Say something? Do something? But he didn’t know what. The words eluded him and his body wouldn’t respond.
Seeing that his beloved didn’t push him back this time, Qiu Ling felt that he was doing the right thing. He wanted to bridge the last gap but just when he thought he had managed to achieve his goal, Jing He finally turned away. He didn’t do much, just incline his head, making Qiu Ling’s lips land on his cheek.
The two of them froze.
The one to find his bearing back first was naturally Qiu Ling. Ah, it was a pity. He’d much rather kiss his beloved’s lips but if that was still too much, then he could make do with kissing his cheek. Anyway, this was nice as well. Mn, might as well do it once more …
He cupped Jing He’s cheeks, tilted his head and once again pressed his lips against Jing He’s cheek, making the skin flush even further.
“Ah.” The second kiss woke Jing He from his stupor and he faced away in horror.
Just what … had he done just now? Not heeding his father’s words and spending an afternoon with Longjun was one thing. But this? He might never be able to look him in the eye!