Jing He lay in bed, staring up at the ceiling. His expression was blank but his thoughts were swirling in his head, almost making him dizzy.
As for what it was that kept his mind occupied … Naturally, it was the dragon king. The things he had said today … There was no way to forget about them. He would be lying if he pretended that he hadn’t been touched.
Yes, Longjun had seen completely through him. He had understood his innermost wish and the promises he had made were exactly what he wanted to hear. In fact, he even believed them to a certain degree. Yes, the dragon king likely had feelings for him and he might not abandon them. Maybe he would indeed stay true to him if he devoted himself to him.
Jing He slowly blinked his eyes, making them seem misty. Devoting himself to the dragon king … He could imagine it. By now, he truly could.
One day, he would put on a red robe and when he stepped out of his palace and raised his gaze, he would be met with the intense gaze of Longjun. His heart would flutter as it often did when he realized that man’s gaze was resting upon him and he would lower his head again, folding his hands in front of his body, unsure of how to proceed.
Knowing that man, he would stride over to him, reaching out and taking his hands without a word of explanation, and when he looked up to him to question his intentions, the dragon king would display a faint smile. Jing He could even imagine his words: ‘My love, didn’t I tell you that one day, I would take you as my spouse?’
Jing He exhaled and turned onto his side, his cheeks flushing in shame. He pressed his eyes shut, hoping to get rid of these frivolous thoughts but it was to no avail.
The memory of that man’s face and voice was too vivid. Every little detail was etched into his mind: Those dark eyes with a hint of red that seemed so reassuring but also wild at the same time, holding a promise of security but also of unknown excitement in the future. The dark lashes framing them cast a hint of shadows on those high cheekbones, making him seem oh so mysterious and coupled with the straight nose gave him an air of regality. The arch of his brows that made him seem a little fierce when he furrowed them but otherwise looked so elegant and handsome. Those thin lips that had once pressed up against his skin, feeling so unexpectedly gentle when they touched him.
Each and every one of these features could be retrieved from his memory without trouble, driving home the fact how closely he had actually scrutinized the dragon king, despite always trying to lower his gaze in his presence. Obviously, his self-control wasn’t as good as he had thought. In regards to this man, he had let go of all inhibitions.
Jing He pressed his lips together and turned onto the other side, pulling the blanket up further. Why? Just why was he like this? It might be one thing if this man was indeed his husband but there was no official relationship between them so far. In fact, despite the change in his feelings, it was unlikely that anything would change about that. He had to be honest with himself in that regard.
Jing He sighed and turned onto his back again, staring up at the ceiling once more. By now, it was so dark that he could hardly see anything but sleep didn’t want to come either so he could only continue to ponder the issue. He knew he needed to find a solution but he didn’t know what that could be.
Longjun was interested in him. He couldn’t say for sure if it would really last even though the dragon king had promised him. Still, he would be willing to give it a try. Anyway, would he really find another man that could inspire these same feelings in him? He seriously doubted it.
In the long history of the immortal realms, which pair of lovers had ever been a second choice? Whether it was Tian and Xing or Lu Yu and Yong Xia or any of the others, they had always fallen in love with that one man and then stayed true to him for all eternity.
That … was something he would like as well. Just one man, just … just Longjun. Since he loved him, he should stay true to him. Otherwise, his own feelings would be shallow, wouldn’t they? How could he demand a partner to love him forever then?
No, since he expected this, he had to give the same in return. And he was sure that he could. He had been unsure if he could fall in love and, frankly, quite scared of doing so because of all the differences between their races but now that it had happened, he felt that his heart belonged to this man and no one else. Now, he was willing. Willing to be his and stay his until the end of his life.
But what to do about it? He should probably tell Longjun?
Jing He took a quick, startled breath at the thought and sat up, his whole face flushing red. No! How could he even think about this?!
From outside, there was the rustling of clothes to be heard and a faint knock sounded from the door. “Your Highness, are you alright?”
Jing He looked over and cleared his throat, afraid that his breathlessness would be heard otherwise. “Mu Kun, thank you for worrying about me. I am alright. I merely woke up with a start.”
Mu Kun and Huang Lan exchanged a glance but put their worries down. It had sounded as if the crown prince had indeed had a night of fitful sleep. “Very well. Please try to sleep some more, Your Highness. It’s still the middle of the night.”
“Mn. I will do so.”
Jing He lay back down, pulling the blanket up to his chin. He felt even more shameful now that his unusual behavior had been noticed by others. If people knew what it was that made him react like this …
He forced his eyes close and tried to adjust his breathing but the low voice of the dragon king seemed to echo in his ears.
‘I love you.’
‘I do believe that we are a match made in Heaven.’
Jing He felt as if his breath got stuck in his throat. His chest was tight but there was nothing he could do to get rid of the tension. He could not even move for fear of Mu Kun and Huang Lan overhearing his struggles again.
‘Longjun …’ Jing He just mouthed the title, his heart and lips quivering for a moment before he opened his eyes and stared into the darkness. ‘Qiu Ling.’
Despite better knowledge, Jing He sat up again and brushed back his hair. He leaned over and then opened the window, letting some of the cool night air into the room. Maybe this way, he would be a little distracted.
He lay back down, pulled the blanket tighter around his body but it didn’t serve its purpose. The slight breeze from outside gently brushed through his hair and caressed his cheek and temple. It … reminded him of the dragon king’s loving touch.
Jing He pressed a hand to his lips to smother the light gasp that escaped his lips. What was wrong with him? Why couldn’t he stop thinking about that man? He … he really was a hopeless case. If Longjun knew about these thoughts of his, maybe he would be much less enamored with him. If he knew … he might even detest him.
Jing He lowered his hand, the thought acting much like a bucket of cold water.
Yes … Longjun had only ever seen him at his best. Save for that one night when he had surprised him, he had only ever seen him dressed up. And while he had sometimes slipped a little in attention, he had always made it a point to be on his best behavior. Longjun did not know how he was when he let go of all pretenses. Most likely, he would think differently about him when he knew. Maybe … even this ‘love’ would not persist.
Jing He took a shaky breath, once again unable to calm down. The panic he felt at this thought … No. No, he did not want Longjun to abandon him. He did not want to lose his attention, his gentle care, his heart. He wanted for this man to stay at his side forever, he wanted him to promise him eternity.
Jing He turned onto his back, completely breathless. Why? Just why had he fallen in love? This … this could not bode well for him. He could not ever let Longjun see the truth. He could only keep pretending, each and every day, if he did not want to lose him. He had to. He just had to.
Unwittingly, Jing He’s eyes teared up. He reached up to wipe the teardrops from his lashes and turned onto the side, curling up. Just why? Just why did this have to happen? Just why could there be no guarantee that Longjun would stay with him if he showed him the truth?
He dearly wished that this man that he had lost his heart to would be able to look past the beautiful shell and see the ugly core beneath. And then … then maybe he could love him regardless. If that was true … If only that was true …