The child in question had finally managed to fall asleep. His brows were slightly furrowed though, his expression seeming a little restless. He turned his head to the side, his lips slightly moving in his sleep. A moment later, he already turned onto the other side, curling up slightly.
It was obvious that Jing He’s sleep wasn’t the rest he had hoped for. Instead, even in sleep, even in his dreams, he was still tortured by the same thought that had been keeping him awake last night.
In his dreams, his subconscious traveled back to the Jiyi festival. Once again, he was wearing the white robe and the white mask, walking next to the dragon king unrecognized among the people of his race. The dragon king was holding his hand, his skin warm, almost scalding hot. Still, Jing He did not want to let go. He felt that the world around him was cold, almost freezing, and this man was the only source of warmth he had.
He would be an idiot if he didn’t cling to him.
With that thought always at the back of his head, Jing He tightly held onto the dragon king, not even protesting when the man pulled him directly into his arms. Instead, he stayed where he was, even going so far as to grab onto his robe and rest his cheek against his chest. It really was comfortable. He could have stayed like this forever.
Even in his dream, he thought back to that night on the lake as he had fallen asleep in Qiu Ling’s embrace. Yes, in this man’s arms, he always felt safe. It was as if no matter what happened in the world out there, he would be able to take away his worry and fear and making him face everything boldly. He lent him his strength, his daring nature, showed him a new way to live. He showed him how his life could be if he just relied on him.
Jing He looked up at that handsome face and his cheeks flushed a faint pink. Oh, if only this person was a god. If only his father could approve of him. How lucky that would be!
Qiu Ling bent down, his breath lightly brushing Jing He’s face. “You’re beautiful, my love. Today even more than yesterday and the day before that. I just can’t sate myself no matter how long I look at you. How great would it be if we could remain like this forever?”
Jing He’s eyelids fell down halfway, lightly obscuring the gaze in his eyes. Only he himself knew that he felt a little complacent, a little sweet. Being praised by the man he loved … Of course, he was happy about that. Of course, he would like to hear more of such sweet words from him. He hoped that he would never have to miss out on this in the future.
The dragon king reached out, lightly but still determinedly grabbing his chin and making him look up. “Look at me. Look into my eyes.”
As if spellbound, Jing He did as he was told, directly looking up into those eyes, marveling at their beauty.
There was a smile in them as Qiu Ling continued to speak. “Now, what was it that you said just now?”
Jing He didn’t know how to answer. “I … I did not say anything yet. Longjun must …”
Before he could continue, the dragon king reached up and put a finger against his lips to make him stop. “My love, we’ve known each other for several years now. Are you really still going to use my title? Isn’t it about time you started to call me by my name?”
Jing He’s cheeks face flushed once again, both from the intimate touch and the words that almost felt even more intimate. He wanted to squirm out of the dragon king’s arms but the man held him in place, the grip around his chin slightly tightening while still being gentle enough not to hurt him.
“Am I really asking for something outrageous? My love, one day, the two of us will be married. That is the promise I gave you. Your future husband … should he really be addressed this distantly? I want to hear you call my name.”
Jing He was a little terrified, his heart thumping madly. Still, this excitement was also urging him on to actually do as the dragon king asked of him. Anyway, they were alone right now. Where was the harm in doing it once? Just once. Just this one time he would do it. After that, he could still return to how things had been, couldn’t he?
His gaze slipped down and he lightly wetted his lips with his tongue before he gulped and looked up again. “Qiu Ling.” His voice sounded a little breathless. And he could not deny that there was a certain fear in him, clinging to his heart and restricting his throat. This name from his lips … was nothing but a whisper.
But even though, the dragon king was obviously satisfied. “That was what I had in mind.” He said those words and then leaned down, not caring for decorum, and just pressing his lips on Jing He’s, demanding for him to give in.
Jing He startled awake, a sound of surprise escaping his lips before he sat in his bed with his breath coming in rough pants.
Before he could find his bearing again, Huang Lan and Mu Kun stormed into the room, their weapons drawn. “Your Highness! What happened?!” The two of them looked around vigilantly but couldn’t see anyone besides the crown prince.
Their expressions turned into surprise and they finally turned back to the bed, noticing that the crown prince’s hair was slightly messy, just like his robe was wrinkled. Obviously, rather than being disturbed by somebody else, he had likely just woken up from a bad dream.
The two of them stood there awkwardly, slowly lowering their weapons. Obviously, there was no use for them right now. Still, it was also strange to just retreat. After all, he hadn’t told some that everything was alright. After just intruding like this, they didn’t know how to proceed.
Jing He took a few deep breaths until he was sure that he could trust his voice again and then gave a weak smile. “I’m sorry to worry you. It is nothing. I was merely having a bad dream.”
The two of them nodded and then put away their weapons. “We’re sorry to disturb you then. We will retreat outside.” The two of them further lowered their heads and then went outside, once again standing in their usual positions.
After a moment, Mu Kun raised his hands and covered his face. Unfortunately for him, even his ears had turned beet-red though.
Huang Lan raised his brows at him, flabbergasted at what he saw. “What’s the matter with you?”
Mu Kun separated his fingers and looked at his friend through the gaps, his expression one of helplessness. “He was only wearing his inner robe.” He only dared to mouth the words, afraid that somebody might hear.
Huang Lan gaped at him and then looked at the door behind them before turning back to his friend. “What?”
Mu Kun lowered his hands, his face still completely red. He didn’t dare to say the words out loud so he went a few steps over, put a hand next to his mouth, and then whispered them into Huang Lan’s ear.
As a result, the other guard’s face turned just as red. He hurriedly pushed Mu Kun away and shook himself, waving a few times as if he could get rid of the thought like this. “Pei! What kind of savage are you? Where were you looking?”
Mu Kun pressed his lips together and shook his head. “It’s not as if I did it on purpose. Where should I have looked if not at him? We did have to make sure he wasn’t injured after all.”
Huang Lan shook himself again and then crossed his arms in front of his chest, turning to the other side. “I’m not talking to you anymore. You better get a grip on yourself.” The fact that his face was still just as red as Mu Kun’s now that he had recalled the scene inside the palace made his words a little less convincing.
Thankfully, Jing He was absorbed in his own self-blame and didn’t notice at all what the two guards in front of his door were actually discussing. If he did … he probably would’ve felt even worse. Now, he would only blame himself for his dreams actually giving voice to his unconscious desires.
And, oh, just how vile they were! Obviously, despite that image of innocence and appropriateness that he liked to portray, his innermost heart looked completely different. He was just that kind of base person.