Having made that decision, Qiu Ling changed the subject. “Anyway, I’m happy that I was finally able to see you again. You might think I am pestering you all the time and that it’s good that you had at least a few weeks without me but it’s really a bit strange not to see you. After all this time, haven’t you grown at least a bit used to me?”
“Longjun asking like this … I really didn’t know what to say. You’re a welcome guest. You always will be.”
Qiu Ling sighed. “It’s good to be a welcome guest I guess. It’s just that you do know I’m conspiring to be more than that. So if you say that I’ll always be a welcome guest, does that mean you rule out me ever being more than that to you?” He sighed deeply. “That actually hurts my feelings a bit. I always thought that … I was quite handsome, quite charming. Who would’ve known that when I finally become interested in somebody they would be such a tough nut to crack?”
Jing He’s cheeks blushed further. This way of describing things … He had a hard time getting used to it. But he probably shouldn’t. The dragons were indeed much more straightforward. Even Scholar An Bai would sometimes not be afraid to call things by their name while he would still be hesitating over whether he could ask a question or not. Anyway … “It’s impossible to know what will be in the future. I can only talk about what’s right now. And what was in the past.”
Qiu Ling gave a hum. “The past … Your Highness isn’t very old, are you? You only recently came of age if I remember correctly.”
Jing He nodded. “That’s indeed true. It was only a year before we met.”
“I see. Well, no wonder your father is that worried about you then.”
Jing He didn’t answer that. He wasn’t quite sure if it was normal for a father to be like this. Anyway, it had been like this his whole life. So he expected nothing else from his own father at least. It made him a little curious though. Other people’s families … Were they like this as well?
He glanced at Qiu Ling and hesitated but thinking of how direct the dragons were, he couldn’t help but finally probe. “Longjun’s family …”
Qiu Ling tensed slightly when that was brought up. He really didn’t want to talk about his family. But … His beloved had finally shown some interest in his personal life. He could hardly say no now, could he? “Well, there’s not much to say. My father was a famous warrior. That’s probably not very impressive to Your Highness.”
Jing He was indeed not too interested in that but he did understand the importance that had. What he wanted to know much more was how Qiu Ling felt about that though. Well, there was nothing speaking against asking him. “Well, it is something that is important for the people of the dragon race. He was probably someone of high repute then?”
Qiu Ling raised his brows. “He was. For some time, he was even the past king’s right-hand man.”
Jing He nodded. He already knew that the throne of the dragon realm was different from that of the Nine Heavens even though it still struck him as odd. “Then your relationship with him must’ve been very good. You probably admired him very much. And you should have learned a lot from him.” He watched Qiu Ling’s expression, hoping that he would say some more.
“I definitely learned a lot, yes.” As for the relationship … He felt that it might be better not to tell that to his beloved.
Jing He didn’t need to be told either. Just the way Qiu Ling evaded answering that part already told him everything he needed to know. The relationship between the two of them should have been strained at best, irreconcilable at worst. It was a subject that shouldn’t be brought up.
That realization made him a little sad. He had really wanted to know. Even though the dragon king was much older than him, he was the only person outside of his family he had ever gotten this close to, the only one he would ever be able to ask such questions. Even if it wasn’t for knowing more about him as a future possible spouse, he just wanted to know how the families of other people were. But now, it seemed that that wasn’t such a good idea. It really was a pity.
Jing He lowered his gaze, trying to compose himself again. Even though he regretted it, there was nothing that could be done about it. Since the dragon king did not want to speak about it, it was on him to change the subject and make sure that the conversation didn’t go stale.
He looked around and then motioned in the direction of his father’s palace. This should be a subject that was close enough to shift to without making things awkward? “I do admire my father as well. He taught me a lot of things that I will need to know. It might just be that he is a little strict with me sometimes but I guess it is also because of my age. When I have grown older and have matured more, he might be willing to show more trust.”
Qiu Ling glanced at him and raised his brows. “I gather the Heavenly Empress is a little different in that regard, isn’t she?”
Jing He hesitated. He didn’t like to get too personal but he was the one who had brought it up and if he really wanted to accept Longjun as a suitor, then he needed to be more open. They wouldn’t be able to get close otherwise. “Well, maybe it is also because my mother doesn’t have as many responsibilities as my father. She probably just has another perspective on things.”
“Or maybe she’s more open-minded. Your father dislikes the fact that the one trying to woo you is a dragon. The Heavenly Empress seems to be alright with that though.” After all, she had allowed him to go after her son and had only asked that he be honest with him. Obviously, she couldn’t care less if he was a dragon or not.
Jing He turned his head in the other direction, inconspicuously brushing back his hair. He suddenly understood why Longjun might have been hesitant to talk about his family. It wasn’t a simple subject to speak of. If he wasn’t careful, it might sound as if he wasn’t grateful to them despite them always doing their utmost to let him have a good life. He didn’t want to appear that way.
On the other hand, he could hardly explain these differences away. After all, he didn’t understand them himself. Actually … It was quite curious when he thought about it. Back then, his father had been engaged to another woman but he had eventually still married his mother against the will of his own father. So why would he now expect him to do exactly as he said?
Jing He pushed the thought aside and forced himself to smile. Even if it was something he wanted, it was something that couldn’t be said aloud. He just couldn’t defy his father’s orders and couldn’t question him in public either. Ah, he would not even dare to do so aloud when he was alone. It just wasn’t for him to do.
With that thought, he turned back to Qiu Ling. “Well, I wouldn’t dare to assume anything.”
Qiu Ling gave a hum when he noticed that Jing He wasn’t really willing to talk about it any longer. It seemed both of them didn’t like to talk about their families. “It’s my fault for bringing it up. It was supposed to be a night where we could get away from these things.”
Jing He didn’t answer but his noncommittal expression made Qiu Ling ponder. Maybe … maybe it would indeed be good to do something completely different. Something that his beloved wished for, that he longed for. Even if it wasn’t that one thing that he hid in the deepest part of his heart, it might still be something worth remembering. It was just that he could not jump that on him. He had to slowly close in on what might make his beloved happy and then go from there. Well, in this case, it wouldn’t be wrong to ask.