Qiu Ling had no idea that he had barely escaped his worst nightmare. Instead, he put all of his energy into his relationship with Jing He or, well, the relationship he wanted to have with Jing He.
Unfortunately for him, since the day of the picnic, things hadn’t been going too well. It wasn’t that Jing He had a problem with spending time with him or was behaving any differently. On the contrary, his beloved seemed quite a bit more open than before as if this day had helped him make significant progress.
Unfortunately, there was still his beloved’s old man around. As soon as the Heavenly Emperor noticed that a certain someone wasn’t able to accept ‘no’ for an answer and was still pestering his precious son, he couldn’t help but get involved.
Whenever Qiu Ling would come to visit, the Heavenly Emperor would very coincidentally make his way over to his son’s palace, planting his butt on one of the chairs and trying to hog all of his attention to himself. Sometimes, he would even call his son over in the morning so that he wouldn’t be home when Qiu Ling came to visit. Then, he would basically chain him to his side all day, making sure that Qiu Ling wouldn’t be able to spend even a second with him.
For a while, Qiu Ling was willing to take things in stride. After all, the Heavenly Emperor was important to his beloved and he didn’t want to be responsible if their relationship became strained. Anyway, a mature man would certainly not lower himself to the same level as a person trying to steal his beloved but instead be generous and let them be. This way, he could even use this unfavorable situation to convince his beloved that he was the right person for him.
This plan indeed wasn’t bad and Jing He’s impression of Qiu Ling became even better, seeing that he was willing to take a step back and accommodate his father despite his unreasonable demeanor.
Unfortunately, the Heavenly Emperor noticed at the same time that precisely this unreasonable behavior enabled him to ensure that Qiu Ling and his son spent less time together. Thus, he doubled his efforts, finally making sure that Qiu Ling and Jing He weren’t able to meet for almost a month.
This time, Qiu Ling couldn’t hold back. That damned old man had gone too far! He would take it if he just tried to separate them for some time but this really was too much. How could he go more than a week without seeing his beloved? And just being able to glance at him for a few, stolen moments was definitely not enough. No, he had to find a way to spend more time with him again.
Qiu Ling pondered the issue for quite some time. Getting to the palace before the Heavenly Emperor could wouldn’t work. Even though he was able to sneak in, as soon as they left the palace, somebody would notice. As far as he knew, that old man had put somebody in charge of spying on his son to make sure that nobody would be able to visit him.
So if he didn’t want to be cooped up inside the palace every day with Jing He, he could only try to circumvent the Heavenly Emperor’s observation some other way. Mn … Most likely, there wouldn’t be somebody around for twenty-four hours a day?
No, there should only be somebody at times when the Heavenly Emperor expected him to come over. That meant that if he came very early or very late, it shouldn’t be a problem.
But then again, wouldn’t he bother his beloved then? He knew that Jing He adhered to a rather strict schedule most of the time. There were days when he stayed up late to paint or do some calligraphy but those were more of an exception. Although …
Qiu Ling narrowed his eyes and leaned back, glancing at the window where the sun was slowly going down. Today, he hadn’t been able to see his beloved either. When he came over, the Heavenly Emperor had already called him over, making him miss Jing He by more than just a bit.
There was no shame in admitting that he really missed him. He wanted to see him. If he could, he even wanted to hold his hand for a while or maybe even hug him. All right, he knew that the latter was impossible but maybe holding hands wouldn’t be asking for too much after such a long time. It would be worth a try.
Anyway, maybe it really wouldn’t be so bad to go over now. Most likely, his beloved already would’ve returned to his own palace. And since he hadn’t gone over all day, the Heavenly Emperor shouldn’t expect him to go over anymore. So whoever his spy was, that person should only return tomorrow. In that case, they would have the whole night to themselves.
Qiu Ling only hesitated for a moment longer before he leaped to his feet and then rushed to the Nine Heavens. He made extra sure that he wasn’t seen by any of the guards or the servants and then hid around his beloved’s palace.
He could hear Jing He inside, his quiet steps clearly audible in this silent place. The two guards in front of the door were still standing there but from what he had seen before, they should also leave soon. Other than them, nobody else was around.
Qiu Ling waited for a while longer, making sure that there really was nobody hiding. From inside, the rustling of clothes sounded, making Qiu Ling tense up. His beloved … Should be going to bed right now?
He clung closer to the roof, a silly grin spreading on his face. Ah, to think that he was so close while his beloved was changing, it really made him feel that Jing He trusted him a lot!
He happily ignored the fact that Jing He had no idea that he was close by.
Finally, the guards left and the light inside the palace was extinguished. Qiu Ling still continued to wait, making absolutely sure that they were alone before he slowly slid down from the roof and positioned himself next to the window. He took a deep breath and then reached out and knocked.
By this time, Jing He had already gone to bed and had half-drifted into sleep. At first, he didn’t quite realize that somebody had just knocked on his window but the sound repeated shortly after.
He opened his eyes and then propped himself up into a sitting position when it sounded once again. By now, he was sure that he hadn’t just imagined it. He furrowed his brows and then brushed through his hair and took the overcoat that was lying next to his bed, wrapping it over his shoulders to make sure that he wouldn’t be caught in an unrepresentable state. Only then did he lean over to the window and opened it.
He was immediately greeted with the smiling face of the dragon king.
Jing He stared at him, unable to speak or even comprehend what was going on. This … Was this really a time for the dragon king to come and visit him?
Qiu Ling didn’t mind this lack of reaction. Instead, he took the opportunity to lean through the window and grabbed Jing He’s hands just as he had imagined before. “Look at you. It couldn’t be that you’re too touched by my visit to even greet me, could it?” He gave a smile and then waited for Jing He to find his voice again.
Jing He looked at him and then glanced at their hands before looking up again. “Longjun … It is rather late.”
Qiu Ling nodded. “It is. And it has been a rather long time since we saw each other last. Anyway, are you cold?”
Jing He looked at him, uncomprehending. “No. Why would I …” He shook his head, still unsure of what this was about.
Qiu Ling let go of his hand and then motioned over to the door to the garden. “Perfect then. Why don’t you go and open the door for me?”
Jing He also glanced over but didn’t leave his bed. “Longjun, I don’t think this is appropriate.”
Qiu Ling clicked his tongue. “I’m not asking you to let me in.” Well, he would like to ask him to let him in but he knew that it was completely impossible to make him do that at this point in their relationship. Maybe one day he would be able to do so but now wasn’t the moment for that yet. “Instead, I’m asking you to step out with me for a while. It’s a beautiful night today. Why don’t we go out and enjoy the stars for a while? I heard that … a moonlight stroll is supposed to be something very romantic. Don’t tell me you have no interest in that?”
Jing He’s cheeks flushed red and he slammed the window shut before he even knew what he was doing. Then, he touched his forehead, shaking his head at himself. Great. Just great. Now that he had closed the window, he would need to open the door or he would seem extremely impolite. But on the other hand, if he did open the door, wouldn’t that look as if he was saying that he was indeed interested in having the romantic moonlight stroll the dragon king had just mentioned? Just what had he gotten himself into?