Back in the room where Qiu Ling and Jing He stayed, the atmosphere had turned subtle. The owner had been conscientious enough to close the door when he left, leaving the dragon king and the Son of Heaven alone together.
Qiu Ling was still holding onto Jing He, not saying a word. It made Jing He feel quite self-conscious. Normally, it was the dragon king who was leading the conversation between them. Suddenly not having him do so made him feel quite unaccustomed.
Jing He’s gaze flitted around and finally stopped at the door. “My father …” He didn’t quite know how to continue. It had been a close call. That much was obvious. It almost made him suggest to just forget about this and return but then again, since they had already made it through, that also wouldn’t be the right thing to do.
Qiu Ling watched his expression and slightly tilted his head. He did have the urge to speak up. The silence was unbearable to him as well. But he knew that he couldn’t. He needed to let Jing He figure it out on his own or this would become even more troublesome. So he forced himself to keep shut and didn’t say anything, just waiting silently.
Jing He glanced up at him before lowering his gaze again when he was only met with the mask, finally noticing how his hands were still resting on the dragon king’s chest. This … probably should’ve occurred to him sooner. But somehow, it felt as if it was supposed to be like this. He had had that thought way too often in the past but he had just as often brushed it off, refusing to acknowledge it or try to understand. Now, that he had realized that there were feelings involved, it was hard not to change that behavior as well.
Obviously, he was doing this because of his feelings for this person. While he would like to deny it, the truth was that he craved being close to this man. He should not delude himself. That was the whole truth. He was that kind of person.
Jing He lowered his eyelids, slightly curling the fingers of one hand, feeling the smooth fabric beneath his fingers and then tilted his head toward the curtain. “Well, he did not notice. I feel a bit guilty for that but I guess there is nothing that can be done at this point. We might as well sit down and just wait for the act to begin.”
Qiu Ling lightly exhaled the breath that he had been holding and then nodded, shifting his grip on Jing He. “If that is what you wish to do, then that is naturally what we will do.” He helped him to sit down and then took a seat as well, leaning as close as he could to his body without seeming too obtrusive.
Jing He was startled. He looked up at Qiu Ling but the dragon king just gave him a faint smile in return. As a result, Jing He’s heart jumped and he hurriedly looked away, pretending that nothing had happened.
Well, maybe this wasn’t too bad. He wouldn’t have too many more opportunities to be close to this man in the future, right? After all, it had been difficult enough for them to meet up today. If not for the robes and masks they were wearing, he wouldn’t allow himself to do this.
In the future … Who knew what would happen? They might not be able to see each other at all with how his father had been behaving recently. Should he find out that he had gone with Longjun to enjoy the festival, then there would be no way at all that he would allow him to take even one step without being tightly guarded.
So … Even though he shouldn’t do this, he still didn’t say anything and instead lightly leaned against the dragon king’s shoulder. Just for once. Just for today, he would indulge in this. After that, he would just take things in stride and accept fate. That was the only thing he could do.
Qiu Ling glanced at Jing He with some surprise and then smiled to himself when his beloved didn’t lean away again. It seemed that his plan was working quite well. Just when he considered pulling him even closer and maybe taking advantage of the situation, steps sounded outside at a place toward the stage and finally the low voice of a servant sounded, informing them that the play was about to begin and asking whether they wanted the curtain to be drawn aside.
Qiu Ling sighed and then told them to do so, just being content with what he had already. Anyway, this play should take quite a while. They would have a lot of time that they could spend cuddling each other. He didn’t necessarily need more than that.
The curtain was drawn and the stage uncovered but it was currently still empty.
Now, that they could see outside, Jing He realized just why this room had actually caused such a fight before. From here, they could look directly at the stage. They had the perfect distance to be able to see all the details clearly and even every little whisper and every rustling of the actors’ clothes would be able to be heard by them. He couldn’t help but feel intrigued. This would probably be quite nice.
Qiu Ling, on the other hand, didn’t bother about the stage at all and just looked at his beloved. They were so close. His beloved would probably be able to feel his breath if he spoke. And if he just raised his hand, he would be able to trail it through that inky-black hair, feeling the smooth strands. It was … especially tempting.
At that moment, Jing He looked up, wanting to voice his pleasant surprise. When he did so, he was once again met with the dragon king’s blazing gaze and rendered speechless.
Jing He had no idea what to say. His throat constricted under that gaze and his heart thumped madly, even making him feel faint.
Qiu Ling gave a hum and reached out, lightly touching Jing He’s chin and tilting his head up. “It’s a pity the curtain has already been opened. Now, I can’t even take off the mask.”
Jing He still had trouble finding his voice but he forced himself to clear his throat. “Does Longjun want to do so?”
Qiu Ling looked at him, his gaze seeming to become even deeper. “I want to kiss you.”
Jing He stared at him in a daze, his mind completely blank. There was nothing he could say. Nothing he could do. He didn’t even know what to think. Kiss him … Just the faint notion of that possibility made his cheeks flush and his heart thump even louder. That kind of thing … How could he do it? Even if the dragon king said so, it was completely impossible, wasn’t it?
While he did have feelings for this man and while Longjun had said more than once that he loved him and wanted to marry him, that still seemed completely impossible. Even if … Even if someday, they actually did get married by some kind of miracle, they weren’t yet. How could say arbitrarily kiss?
Qiu Ling watched the way that Jing He’s gaze switched from his face down to his hand and then somewhere completely else before returning to his face, clearly agitated. Feeling that he had somehow managed to drive him to the point where he really wasn’t able to just ignore it any longer, he pressed on. “It’s a pity, you likely wouldn’t want anybody to see.”
Jing He sucked in a cold breath, feeling as if he had just been struck by lightning. ‘Wouldn’t want anybody to see’? Didn’t that mean … The dragon king believed that if there was nobody around, he would want him to do it? He didn’t know if it was true but just the small chance that maybe it was made him feel worried beyond belief.
And the worst thing was … Longjun might be right about it. If he was honest with himself, then maybe he would wish that Longjun did as he had said just now. Realizing that, he felt deeply ashamed of himself.