Jing Yi was confused just why Bai Fen was looking at him like this and cluelessly took the painting. When he looked at it, he had trouble realizing what was so special about it. There seemed to be a lake at the back of the painting and a tree was standing next to it, its branches hanging over the surface, almost touching it. Two people were standing below the tree, just half a step apart. The painting was definitely beautiful but it also didn’t seem to be anything special. It reminded him of the painting that he had seen back in the capital city.
Meanwhile, Qiu Ling looked at that painting with a wistful expression. Jing Yi might not understand but he sure did. That below the tree were him and Jing He or maybe Tian and Xing since he had liked to pretend to paint them while he was actually thinking about their own relationship. And what they were looking at was not the lake itself but a pair of Mandarin ducks on the surface of the water that was symbolizing a harmonious union.
This was a painting confessing Jing He’s feelings, showing his deepest wish of having a future like that together. Naturally, he had painted that before the start of his trial. After all, at that time, he had been looking forward to their wedding, to finally becoming a married couple, and staying at his side forever.
Seeing this made Qiu Ling remember those times. By now, he really would’ve liked to go back to Jing He’s palace and take him into his arms. Having a conversation about this would surely be lovely. Maybe in the future, when they had indeed become a married couple, they could take a look at this painting and all the others he had done and remember the times when they hadn’t officially been a couple. They could have a good laugh at how silly they had been, with one pursuing relentlessly and the other refusing to admit his feelings. It should be another good memory for them.
Meanwhile, Jing Yi handed the painting back to Bai Fen, still not quite understanding what it was meant to say. He remembered that painting of the pavilion where Qiu Ling had added the figures and felt that it was pretty much the same as this. It didn’t really mean anything to him. But seeing Bai Fen look so fondly at it, he couldn’t help but turn to Qiu Ling.
Seeing his expression, Jing Yi couldn’t help but feel as if he had been slapped. Was it that he didn’t understand this painting? Just what was so special about it? As somebody who had never had anything to do with this kind of thing, he really didn’t know how to appreciate it and the meaning was naturally lost on him who didn’t know the full story.
He lowered his gaze, and then turned back to Bai Fen, giving a wry smile. “Well, it’s a very nice one. In any case, I don’t think I have any more questions. I know a little more about him now. So thank you for taking the time to tell me about these things. I guess it can’t compare to actually getting to know him but it’s a start.”
Bai Fen nodded and put the painting to the side. “It’s alright. I know the situation also isn’t easy for you. I just hope that it can be resolved without grievances on either side somehow.
“It’s been a much longer time since Jing He left than we anticipated. I won’t pretend that I don’t miss him. If you have any other questions, you can come back and ask. Just maybe tell me beforehand that you want to do so, then I will know to take some time for that.”
Jing Yi nodded and then got up, hastily saying his goodbye. Meanwhile, Qiu Ling stayed behind a little longer, taking his time to bid farewell to Bai Fen.
The Heavenly Empress looked at the door where Jing Yi had already vanished and sighed. “You should probably go after him. I don’t think he is too happy.”
Qiu Ling followed her gaze and sighed as well. “It’s not like I can change the situation. He will have to live with it. No matter what he does, nobody can change that he is Jing He’s reincarnation. That just won’t disappear.”
“You’re right with that. But in any case, it truly isn’t easy for him. I can understand that.”
Qiu Ling nodded but couldn’t quite get himself to follow Jing Yi. “Leaving so suddenly, he is probably angry about the painting.”
“I’m sorry about that. I figured that it wouldn’t help to get another one though. Most of Jing He’s paintings are exactly like this. He liked to express his feelings this way. His paintings, his music, that was why he did that. It allowed him to express the things he couldn’t utter with his words.”
Qiu Ling looked over at the painting that was still lying on the table, a faint smile on his lips. “I know. There were many paintings like that when we got to know each other better. I might not have realized at first but the longer it went on, the more apparent it became. It really was important to him.”
Bai Fen nodded and then patted his shoulder. “Still, you should better go now. You will have more time with Jing He in the future. Right now, you should think of Jing Yi.”
Qiu Ling gave a hum. “Thank you. For giving this a try and also being on his side right now even though you what Jing He back. It means a lot to me and it surely would mean a lot to him as well.”
“That is all that I want. For Jing He to know that we haven’t forgotten or replaced him. I think that he will need that when he wakes up.” She shook her head and then nudged Qiu Ling again, finally managing to make him leave. When he had, she walked back to the table and picked up the painting.
Looking at the two figures beneath the branches of the tree, she sighed again. “Oh, Jing He, I fear you will not be happy when you wake up again. I just hope you’re going to be able to work through this.”
Author’s Note: Quick reminder that this was the last chapter on my OMF stockpile. Thus, we are now entering hiatus. In case you missed it, you can find the announcement here.