Back in the main room, Qiu Ling was having similar thoughts as An Bai. “You should really pay attention to what you say here.”
Jing Yi slightly furrowed his brows when Qiu Ling actually dwelt on the matter but still nodded. “I know already. It’s just that I thought that in front of you and your people, I wouldn’t need to worry as much. In the future, I won’t speak my mind in that situation either.”
Qiu Ling gave him a long look, unsure of what to do. “It is not that I don’t want you to speak your mind. It is just that some things probably shouldn’t even cross your mind. We are currently in the Nine Heavens’ capital. And you shouldn’t think that just because I’m the dragon king, they won’t dare to make things difficult for you. Don’t give them any reasons.”
“I already said I wouldn’t do it.” Jing Yi moved away, clearly unhappy with Qiu Ling’s repeated insistence.
Qiu Ling just sighed and moved over to the window, staring outside in the direction of Jing He’s palace. This really hadn’t gone as it should have. He hadn’t actually thought of Jing Yi’s impending ascension but had only thought of wanting to see Jing He back when that matter with his father had happened. But it really would have worked out quite well if he actually stayed in the dragon realm for a bit longer. Unfortunately, fate was just like that: No matter what you planned, no matter what it was that you wanted, in front of whatever Heaven had destined for you, it was worth nothing.
He closed his eyes, taking a deep breath, and then slowly exhaled. It was already like this. He couldn’t change it anymore. Now, he just needed to come to terms with it and then find a way to explain to Jing He at the time he finally woke up again. Whenever that would be.
He opened his eyes again and there was a hint of longing when he looked in that direction. He might be bound to that soul and he might love Jing Yi as well but it was hard to forget about the person with whom he had originally fallen in love.
If Jing He had been a mortal and there had never been a chance for him to live forever so that he would have needed to wait between reincarnations again and again, he felt that no matter how often he lived together with the him of a later life, that first person would always have a special place in his heart.
It was just based on how it had been the first time those feelings arose. That first moment when he appeared in front of him. How could he ever forget? And the ten years spent wooing him afterward had only driven home the point. The small things he discovered, the bigger things that he slowly understood, the secrets he had yet to unravel, he loved all of it. And he wished that he would get the chance to continue where they had left off.
He glanced over his shoulder at Jing Yi who didn’t look like he was happy at all even though he had finally arrived in the Nine Heavens where he had always wanted to go. To compare these two … it was a difficult matter.
Just looking at the surface, trying to be objective, Jing He was the person that fit him better. From the reaction of An Bai and Xiang Yong, he had also been able to see that his followers would likely think the same. They preferred the Son of Heaven as his consort. But Jing Yi was here right now and even though there were many things about Jing He that he missed, there would also be things that he missed about Jing Yi after he was gone. In fact, being so frank with his words was something that he actually enjoyed.
Qiu Ling walked over and pulled Jing Yi into his arms, gently brushing through his hair with his fingers and caressing his back. “It’s not that you’re wrong. It is just it’s a delicate situation and you can’t forget that Jing He is their son. This isn’t even just about him being the crown prince of the Nine Heavens. If it was your own parents, wouldn’t they also rather have you there than some other incarnation? It is just not the same for them. They know one person but not the other. Clearly, they will want that person at their side.”
Jing Yi glanced up at him and hugged his waist, his gaze difficult. “Well, you know both of us but you won’t be able to pretend that you’d rather have me here. If you could have, you wouldn’t even have been there for my ascension. You really planned for them to kill me, didn’t you?”
Qiu Ling looked down, his heart hurting when he saw the accusation in Jing Yi’s eyes. Finally, he shook his head. “That’s not it. When I left …” He trailed off and then shook his head again. “I don’t even know what to say about this. But that day, something happened. I really wasn’t myself at the time so I just ran away.”
“And where did you run to? I would bet my life on the fact that it was Jing He’s place. But he isn’t even there, Qiu Ling. Even if you go there, he won’t be able to answer you, He won’t be able to comfort you. So why choose him over me? Clearly, you feel more at ease with him than with me.”
Jing Yi’s eyes teared up and Qiu Ling felt even worse. He hadn’t wanted this. Not any of this. Originally, he had thought it would be a sweet gesture to descend to the mortal realm as well to accompany Jing He on his trial. He had thought that his beloved would be happy about it. He had failed to understand just how harsh the consequences would be.
If only back then, he had spent the last week after Jing He told him that he needed to go on the trial to ask more about it, to understand it better. Then, nothing of this would have happened. Jing He’s trial wouldn’t have gone off course right in the beginning because he interfered. It could have followed the original path.
Even though it would’ve been hard to bear for him, at least it wouldn’t have caused something like this. Jing Yi would have had a short life. Jing He would have woken up after less than two months probably. They would have been reunited already. And there wouldn’t have been this boy in front of him that would tear up because he did not feel loved enough.
But this was clearly crying over spilled milk. Back then, he hadn’t asked. He hadn’t understood. He had just acted willfully and finally made something like this happen. It was guilt he would always carry. Especially because he did not know how Jing He would fare after he woke up again.
Who knew much time would’ve passed? Who knew how much he would’ve missed out on in all these years? Who knew how their relationship would be after everything that happened with Jing Yi? He was unable to even make a guess. He could only hope for the best. And in the meantime, do what he figured would be right, even though he might be wrong at times and might even mess things up further. There just was no other way.