Jing Yi stared at him wordlessly. He couldn’t help but wonder if Qiu Ling had some motive telling him such an absurd story. Maybe he’d tell him that it had only been a joke and then tell him the real story because he thought that he wouldn’t be as shocked by whatever had really happened? Or maybe he didn’t actually want to tell him the truth so he was going with something he just wouldn’t believe to get around it?
But how bad could the truth be that Qiu Ling would rather risk that he believed this tall tale? Also … the way Qiu Ling hugged him a little too tight and how he was unable to meet his eyes told him that he might be serious. In other words: It had really happened like that.
Silence engulfed them and Jing Yi could observe how Qiu Ling gritted his teeth and tightened his facial muscles. He didn’t say anything but obviously, he was nervous. He had to be afraid of how he’d react.
With that insight, Jing Yi put one hand onto Qiu Ling’s shoulder and cupped his cheek with the other, turning Qiu Ling’s face back toward him. “You don’t have to be afraid that I’ll run away. I said I wanted to know, so I’ll listen until the end. Don’t you want to tell me why?”
“You really want to listen? You’re … not disgusted with me?”
Jing Yi pondered for a moment but then shook his head. “I … can’t really comprehend why you would do something like that. But knowing you, even though it’s not been long, I am sure that there has to be some sort of reason. I should at least listen to that before I decide how I feel about this, shouldn’t I?”
Qiu Ling smiled slightly. “You’re too good to me.” He sighed and looked at the celebration going on around them. It seemed to be the wrong place to talk about all that but when he saw Jing He’s figure between all these people, he calmed down.
This had been the day he finally felt like he saw the light again. Being engulfed in this memory … wasn’t that a good place, after all? And one day, when this trial had ended, he would have to bring it up in the Nine Heavens again in front of Jing He. Maybe doing it here was actually quite fitting.
“Back then …” Qiu Ling stopped and shook his head, lowering his gaze to the ground. “I was old enough to realize that something was wrong between my parents. I just … never …” He laughed and shook his head again. “Never in my life would I have imagined just how wrong things were between them.
“My father never loved her. From beginning to end, there was another person in his heart. He even advised me to pay attention in the future so that I wouldn’t make a mistake when I was an adult and marry the wrong person. Like him. Well, he never compared it to himself but it was obvious if you observed for a while.”
“Then why did he marry her?” Jing Yi couldn’t understand at all. He also couldn’t see how that related to what had finally happened to them. Was this alone the reason for what Qiu Ling’s mother had done? Had she been unable to bear the lack of love in her relationship any longer and thus tried to kill her husband?
It seemed like the most logical explanation but Jing Yi couldn’t quite believe it. If she was that unhappy, why didn’t she just leave him? Or if he didn’t want to let her leave, why didn’t she grab her child and ran away? There should have been another way to make this work.
Qiu Ling raised his brows. This whole story was so ridiculous he didn’t really want to share it but how else would he explain it? “It was an accident. Me, too, actually. You don’t know this but where I come from marrying isn’t that complicated. You just … take the person you love to bed and that’s it. When you get up the next morning everyone will think of you as a married couple.”
“Oh.” Jing Yi felt his cheeks growing hot but thankfully, Qiu Ling wasn’t paying attention at that moment. He was completely immersed in his memories of that time.
“My father … Who knows what hit him that day? He got dead drunk and the next morning he woke up with a wife. He might still have left her but a few weeks later he found out that he would also have a child soon. So, they stayed together. Actually, if it wasn’t for how much I resemble him I would suspect that he wasn’t my father at all.”
“I don’t think I can follow your thoughts.”
Qiu Ling sighed and leaned back, slightly easing his grip on Jing Yi. It seemed like his beloved really didn’t want to run away. In that case, he shouldn’t showcase just how pathetic he was. Better to leave himself at least a little bit of face in this situation. “It’s pretty easy. Back then they were still living in the capital. My father was something like the right-hand man of the king. He had a lot of influence on him and together they were able to assure that the people had a good life.
“Unfortunately, their relationship soured very fast after my father got married. I don’t know the details myself but it seems the old gee—” Qiu Ling coughed. “Er … our honorable king suspected my mother to have ulterior motives for getting close to my father.”
Jing Yi’s expression fell. “You don’t believe that your mother wanted to kill your father from the beginning, do you? Don’t do that! She probably really liked him at the beginning! It’s just that sometimes, people —”
“You’re too naive.” Qiu Ling gave him a smile even though his words weren’t kind. There was a hint of regret in his eyes as well. “Unfortunately, my father was the same. He didn’t listen to the warnings of his king and, in the end, he left the capital with us. We moved to that shabby hut you’ve seen and we lived there until the day they died.
“My mother … You’re right with one thing: She probably didn’t want to kill him at the beginning. But the king was right as well. She had ulterior motives. Her first motive was to separate him from the king which … was really too easily achieved. Heavens!” He snorted and shook his head. “I can’t believe how easily those two were played! Even I did a better job.”