RSH Stratagem 17: Expect Setbacks after Successes (1)

Qiu Ling watched Jing He’s expression with satisfaction. He knew that the way he had behaved just now was a little forceful but if he didn’t do that every now and then, he would never be able to make Jing He fall in love with him. Or even if his beloved fell in love with him, he at least would never admit to it. He just wasn’t the type of person to do that easily. So for their future together, he needed to be like this from time to time. And looking at how things had turned out, he felt that he had made the right call.

Jing He was so focused on the beauty of those water droplets reflecting the moonlight and shimmering in the air that he hardly noticed the way that Qiu Ling had pulled him up against his chest. In fact, he just felt very comfortable at that moment.

He was engulfed in a cocoon of warmth and carefully protected. If he was honest with himself, that was what he wished for deep down. So naturally, when he didn’t think of all the implications that normally weighed him down, it just felt comfortable. In fact, he felt so comfortable that after a while of drifting along the surface of the lake, he slowly started to feel fatigue to swap over him.

It had been a longer day than usual and they had walked together for a long time, talking all the while. Even though it had been enjoyable, it also used up a lot of energy. After all, he had to focus on the conversation and had to maintain his image at the same time. It was not that easy to do.

His eyelids started to droop and he couldn’t help but nestle up closer against Qiu Ling. He silently wondered to himself if this was how Xing had felt after he married Tian. Was this how it would be to have a husband?

Enjoying an evening together, intimately sharing their thoughts, finally giving each other warmth when it turned cold outside … It seemed like a beautiful thing to experience.

He really did not want to destroy this moment but he was of half a mind to turn around and tell Qiu Ling that they should head back. After all, it had truly gotten late and he felt like he couldn’t keep awake much longer.

Just then, Qiu Ling shifted slightly. The movement made Jing He rest differently up against his chest, the warmth emanating from his body wrapping him up even more tightly. So in the end, he didn’t say anything.

He just had to force himself to stay awake. Then, it wouldn’t be a problem to continue like this for a while longer. He could watch the beautiful scenery around them, indulge in Qiu Ling’s care, and just make a beautiful memory for himself.

Yes, he could do that. He could …

By the end of that thought, his eyes had already fallen shut and his breath evened out. He slowly drifted off into his dreams.

When Qiu Ling turned around to ask him if he wanted to go back, he was faced with Jing He’s sleeping face. He stared at him in a daze and blinked his eyes. This … He actually hadn’t planned this.

For a moment, he didn’t know what to do. He could hardly remain with him in the middle of the lake, could he? Well, he probably could since he could make sure that the temperature wouldn’t fall too far around them and could keep him in his arms to make sure he would be comfortable. But his beloved would be embarrassed if he really did so. After all, they had walked quite a distance from his palace and people might pass by in the morning and notice them here. The kind of gossip that might spread afterward … He could very well imagine.

Qiu Ling sighed and gently made the droplets fall back into the water, making sure that they hardly made a sound. When he was sure that Jing He hadn’t woken up because of that, he had the boat drift back to the shore. He used his magic to secure the bow of the boat and make sure it would not sway too much when he got off. Then, he swept Jing He up into his arms and stepped back onto land.

For a moment, he just stood there and looked at him. He didn’t know just what he should think. After trying for so long to make Jing He fall in love with him, he had actually gotten so far that his beloved was comfortable enough to fall asleep in his company. He couldn’t call that anything but a great success.

At the same time, this also left him in a bit of a daze. While it was true that Jing He had to be comfortable to do this, he also couldn’t deny that they still weren’t at the point where Jing He would agree if he asked to marry him again. It made him wonder just what he was doing wrong.

Qiu Ling sighed and shook his head and then slowly walked back to Jing He’s palace. He probably should’ve flown over as fast as possible but he couldn’t help but be a little selfish and take some more time. Just for a bit longer … He just wanted to hold him for a while longer.

When he arrived in the garden, Qiu Ling glanced around. Nothing could be seen of any of the other gods. Well, that was good. If anybody saw, this would only lead to trouble. He walked over to the door and used his magic to open it. With light steps, he went inside and carried Jing He to the bed, gently putting him down.

He observed Jing He’s expression for a moment before he leaned down and pulled the blanket over his body, finally stepping back. He really wanted to stay. Just sit at his bedside, look at him while he slept and maybe hold his hand. He just wanted to spend time with him, to have the illusion that his constant efforts at wooing him had already shown more of a result and would allow him to do so. Nothing would make him happier than that.

But in the end, he still held back. He smiled, brushed Jing He’s hair to the side once again and then left. Anyway, someday, they would get married. He still believed in that. So even if he couldn’t do it now, he would be able to do it sometime down the road. Wasn’t it better to do it then when he was really in a position to do so? He certainly felt that way.

Qiu Ling returned to the dragon realm and to his own chambers but he was unable to sleep. He jumped up onto one of the beams below the ceiling and sat down there, looking at the way the moonlight spilled through the window and painted rectangular shapes onto the ground.

At this place, the moonlight looked desolate. But when he had been with Jing He, it had actually been so beautiful. It was strange how the very same thing was so different depending on who you were with.

Yes, with Jing He, his whole life seemed so much more beautiful. He didn’t even want to imagine how it would be without him. It was just that even after so much time, the progress he had made wasn’t very big. Who knew how long it would take until they could become an actual couple?

He leaned back against the wall and sighed. There was nothing he could do other than persevering with what he was already doing. He was sure that it worked more or less but at the same time, he couldn’t help but be a little disconcerted every now and then.

He closed his eyes and thought back to Jing He’s peaceful sleeping face. Maybe he was thinking too much. Maybe they were already on the right way. After all, letting down his guard this much had to mean something, didn’t it?

Anyway, he couldn’t stop so what use was there thinking about it endlessly? He just had to once again step up his game. And hadn’t Jing He given him a hint today? He had to figure out what it was that he really wanted. If he was able to guess that heartfelt wish of his, then maybe fulfilling his own wish wouldn’t be that far off.

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