When Jing He woke up after spending a fretful night, he couldn’t help but sit at the edge of his bed in a daze. This wasn’t the first time, was it? It had only been two years since they had gotten to know each other and this was already the second time he hadn’t been able to sleep because of the things that happened surrounding this man.
It probably was a sign that he would do well to follow what his father said and broke off any contact with him. On the other hand, he also knew that even trying would be for naught. Even if his father didn’t want to see Longjun and even if he himself intended to follow his father’s advice, it still wouldn’t change anything. After all, the dragon king was unlikely to give up this easily. No, he would probably just sneak into his palace once again, disregarding any trouble he might bring. That was just the type of person he was.
Jing He got up and went to pick out the robe he should wear today. Considering that he hadn’t slept well, he felt that he should pay even more attention than usual. A dark color would make his face looked even paler. Then, he’d have to answer his father’s questions again and he could hardly say that he was unable to sleep because of that suitor his father had already rejected. That would just be digging his own grave.
Jing He’s fingers slid over the robes and he finally took out the same apricot-colored robe he had worn the day after the last restless night he spent. He didn’t know whether Longjun had indeed liked how he looked in it but it was probably suitable for making himself look a bit better today?
He pondered but finally put it back. Yesterday, he had asked a lot of questions and one of them had seemed a little offensive to the dragon king. In case he had any bad memories of the day when he had been confronted with his uncle, it wouldn’t be good if he wore the same robe right after. No, he should decide on something else.
Speaking of yesterday … Jing He took a blue robe out and looked at it thoughtfully. It was slightly darker so he couldn’t help but worry if it would really be alright to wear today but the dragon king had said that he liked this color because it was the one he had worn when they first met. This kind of detail … If Longjun truly felt a bit uncomfortable because of his questions yesterday and then came to see him, he might instead recall some fond memories and forget about the incident. Maybe he could just drape a lighter overcoat on his shoulders to make the color seem less striking.
Jing He put the robe aside and went on to look for a coat, finally deciding on a light-blue one with white embroidery. This one should suit his purpose. If he also wore a white inner robe, it should seem very matching.
Jing He nodded to himself and put on the clothes, finally sitting down at the dressing table. He looked at himself, trying to decide what to do with his hair. He should probably do something simple? He pondered for a while and then combed all of it back, securing it in place with a hairpin made of the white wood of the ice vein tree that was inlaid with a few sparkling blue gems. The colors fit his clothes so it should make for a nice picture overall.
Jing He heaved a sigh of relief when he finished dressing up. Next, he went to take out some tea leaves to prepare for the dragon king’s visit. If he really came by, he couldn’t be a bad host. Definitely not today of all days.
Jing He didn’t need to wait for long. Just when he had gone outside to tend to his flowers for a while, a familiar shadow fell over him. He wasn’t surprised any longer and just turned around, giving Qiu Ling a small smile. “Longjun came by again.”
Qiu Ling hummed, taking in Jing He’s appearance with a happy smile. Ah, his beloved looked so beautiful today again! Well, he was beautiful every day. He should’ve expected this. “How are you?”
Jing He nodded, going to put down the jar with the water. “I’m fine. How is Longjun doing?”
Qiu Ling nodded as well while following Jing He. “Great!” Naturally, he was doing great. After all, he had just come over to see his beloved. Wasn’t that reason enough to feel great?
Jing He didn’t know what he thought and instead just motioned inside. “Then would you care for a cup of tea?”
Qiu Ling smiled happily and inched a little closer, walking into the palace right next to Jing He. His gaze couldn’t help but move to the blue outer robe that Jing He was wearing today.
Had his beloved chosen this one because he had been thinking about what they talked about yesterday? Had he been very impressed that he still remembered what he had worn the day they met? Had his heart fluttered and his cheeks blushed at the thought of him paying so much attention to him?
Ah, that had to be it! His beloved must’ve been very touched so he decided to wear a special robe today in case he came by.
Jing He had no idea just how far Qiu Ling’s thoughts had traveled in this short moment and instead just motioned for him to sit down at the table while he poured both of them a cup of tea. “This tea is made from the Amber tree. I had to think of it when we ate together yesterday. It is a little more …” He searched for the right word while he sat down, looking thoughtful. “A little more tart I guess. But it has a slight hint of sweetness as well. I’m not sure if many people like it but I thought maybe Longjun would enjoy the taste.”
Qiu Ling picked up the cup of tea and nodded his head. Even if he didn’t enjoy the taste, he would definitely enjoy this cup of tea just based on the fact that his beloved was the one who had prepared it for him and was even thinking about him so much. “I’m honored.”
Jing He couldn’t help but smile. Wasn’t it just a cup of tea? Why did he make it sound as if it was a big deal? Well, to Longjun, it might be. He had always been very attentive when he talked about these kinds of things. Maybe he actually had an interest in them?
Although Jing He wondered about it, he didn’t dare to ask. After all, he had already done been too rash yesterday and it had almost gone wrong. It was much better to first have a talk with Scholar An Bai to make sure he hadn’t done anything completely inappropriate yesterday before he asked something else.
As if his thoughts had summoned him, there was a call coming from outside. “Your Highness, Scholar An Bai of the dragon race came by. Would you like to invite him in?”
Jing He raised his brows in response and got up from his seat, straightening his sleeves. “But of course. Please, show him in.”
“Yes.” Mu Kun bowed even though Jing He couldn’t see him and then motioned for An Bai to step in. He followed him and then bowed again.
Jing He nodded. “Thank you for your hard work, Mu Kun.” He waited for the guard to retreat outside before he turned to An Bai. “Scholar An Bai, I’m happy to see you. It has been a while.”
An Bai wanted to nod and also apologize that he hadn’t come over for a while despite his promise but … his gaze fell on the person that was sitting at the table with a gloomy expression. He gulped. If he had known that his king was here … he would have waited even longer before visiting.