Once more, Jing He found himself to be in a daze. Well, Longjun was so caring toward him, it really made him feel appreciated. He lightly smiled to himself and then motioned to the cupboard at the side. “It is in there. It really wouldn’t be making any trouble. Longjun is a guest. I shouldn’t —”
Before he could finish, Qiu Ling had put a finger up against his lips, hushing him. “Don’t say anything more. You actually made me worried yesterday. Whether it is being sick or just not being rested enough, you should have spoken up. I care about you. Naturally, I would want you to be in better health. I hope that you can always be.” He took his hand back but not without the tip of his index finger brushing over Jing He’s lips, making him feel as if he was going crazy.
Jing He took a shaky breath when Qiu Ling had turned around and lightly patted his chest as if he could stop his heart from beating crazily.
On the other hand, Qiu Ling was in an excellent mood. He certainly hadn’t missed out on Jing He’s small reaction. This was what he had been waiting for for so long. Now, his beloved was finally showing him what he wanted to see. Before this, he had always needed to delude himself into thinking that there was more than there actually was. Now, there was no delusion involved. Jing He was certainly falling for him. Just a bit more, just a few more steps and they would finally become the couple he wanted them to be.
Qiu Ling opened the cupboard and took out the instrument before going back to the table and putting it down in front of Jing He. He stayed as close to him as possible without stepping on the hem of his robe and then turned to him with a smile. “Is there anything else that you need?”
Jing He looked up, feeling self-conscious when the man he loved stood so close to him. “No, there is nothing.”
Qiu Ling nodded, contemplating if he should keep to Jing He’s side for a moment longer. Every single moment that he was with him was definitely worth it. But then again, he also couldn’t draw it out for too long. Otherwise, his beloved would definitely catch onto his plan which might mean other troubles. Finally, he went to the other side of the table again and sat down, giving Jing He a faint smile. Sometimes, you just needed to forsake the small advantages you could gain immediately for the bigger picture of the future. He could live with that.
Jing He didn’t know what to say for a moment. He looked at Qiu Ling and then at the instrument in front of him and then finally reached out. If he couldn’t talk, then he could only try it that way. He lightly cleared his throat. “It has been quite some time since I have played. I hope that Longjun won’t mind if this isn’t up to your standard.”
Qiu Ling shook his head. “Of course not. But anyway, I’m sure that it will be lovely.”
Jing He smiled faintly and then started to pluck the strings. In fact, it was indeed true that he hadn’t played for quite some time. After all, with Longjun coming over every day, there wasn’t too much time left for these things. Thus he hadn’t spent as much time practicing as he had before. Still, he had always taken the time to do so when he had been younger so his skills were sold. Now, when he put his whole heart into this one song, it really was able to move one’s soul.
Originally, he hadn’t had a plan on what to play. But looking at this man opposite him and thinking of what he had thought just yesterday, he finally just went with the first melody that came to mind: a beautiful, haunting love song of two people that felt attracted to each other at first sight, wanted to be together but finally could not be. It was beautiful but also tragic, a tale of all-consuming love, precisely the kind he wanted, just that he naturally hoped for a happy ending for them.
Qiu Ling who had originally been watching Jing He with a smile slowly started to look at him more seriously. This song … he did not know the story behind it but he could feel the kind of mood it elicited. It actually made him think of his past. It was something that he really didn’t want to think about.
He hurriedly looked away and tried to get his feelings back under control but his reaction still startled Jing He.
He took back his hands and gave Qiu Ling a deep look. “I am sorry. It seems that my skills have really gone rusty.” He lowered his gaze, feeling as if he had been punched in the gut. He had hoped that maybe he would be able to impress Longjun. But instead, the dragon king seemed quite unhappy with what he had heard. Thinking about his performance just now, Jing He felt that it actually hadn’t been that bad but … maybe he was wrong.
Qiu Ling looked back up, feeling quite regretful. Why hadn’t he forced himself to continue listening? Then his beloved wouldn’t feel bad now. But alas, it was already too late. He really wanted to give some words of comfort but if he did, it would likely only sound as if it was an excuse. Knowing Jing He, he would never believe that.
Qiu Ling kept quiet for a moment, torn between saying something or not.
Jing He felt his emotions spiral out of control. He really felt bitter right now. He wanted nothing more than to just retreat and keep to himself for a moment. Or, no, if there was one thing he could wish for … he would want to be comforted in this man’s arms. But realizing that made him feel even worse. Because he knew it could never happen.
Finally, Qiu Ling cleared his throat and reached over, his fingertips lightly brushing Jing He’s hand. “The way you played it was beautiful. Maybe a little too beautiful. It made me … think something I shouldn’t have thought of.” He took a faint breath, hoping that this would be vague enough to answer Jing He’s worries on one hand but also not make him question him on the other.
Jing He glanced up but looked away just as quickly. Seeing the dragon king’s deep gaze really wasn’t good for his heart. “I’m sorry for picking this song then.”
Qiu Ling reached out further and clasped Jing He’s hand. “I would ask you to play something else for me if you wouldn’t mind but maybe that is a little too much?”
Jing He’s cheeks flushed red at the question. If the dragon king asked him to do something for him, he would naturally comply. Although … right now, the dragon king was holding his hand. It was … an especially nice feeling. If he could, he would want to stay like this for quite some time longer. In that case, how could he play a song for him? Still, he didn’t dare to deny the dragon king’s request either. “Is that is what Longjun wants, then I will certainly do so. What would you like to hear?”
Qiu Ling gave a hum as if he had to think about it while his thumb brushed the back of Jing He’s hand. In fact, he was also quite content with how things were. There was no need to make things overly complicated. Just sitting together like this, holding hands … It was already quite good, wasn’t it? Still, he couldn’t go overboard. He also knew that. So, in the end, he had to decide on something. “Is there a traditional song of the gods that you would say that you especially like?”
Jing He hesitated but then nodded. “There are quite a few.”
“Let’s take one of those then. You don’t have to hurry. Take your time to think about it.”
Jing He nodded, happy that he would have a moment longer to pretend that he did not notice how the dragon king was holding his hand. In this way, the two of them continued to sit there, each pretending that they had no idea what was going on while their hearts were actually aligned. Finally though, Jing He had to speak up again.
“I think I decided on one. Does Longjun really want to hear?”
Qiu Ling nodded and finally took back his hand even though there was some hesitation. “Yes, please. You play very well. I could listen to it for hours on end.”
Jing He’s cheeks flushed once again. “Longjun is praising me too much.” Although, if he was honest, then that man could never praise him enough. He craved his praise.
Before the dragon king could say anything else, he hastily raised his hands and then started to pluck the strings again.
This time, the melody was still beautiful but not of the haunting kind. This time, it was a light one, pleasurable to hear, like a warm day in spring, a winding stream in a meadow, the sight of white clouds in the blue sky above, the smile of a beauty that one had long admired.
Qiu Ling stared at Jing He the whole time. Sometimes focusing on how his elegant fingers were flying over the strings, sometimes watching the beautiful smile on his lips, and at other times, looking at those dark eyes that meant the world to him.
He wanted to engrave every single moment in his memory, in his heart. And he also wanted to show him that he cared. Just one glance alone should be enough to tell him that he was his whole world and that he would always be.