The two of them went outside and silently started to make their way over to the courtyard of the idle gods. Jing Yi couldn’t help but glance at Qiu Ling every now and then. Somehow, he had a hard time accepting that his lover would just suddenly accept that he wouldn’t stay with him. This just wasn’t what he was used to from Qiu Ling.
After a while, Qiu Ling couldn’t help but raise his brows. “What’s the matter? Am I too good-looking not to steal a few glances? If you want to, we can wait for a moment. Then you can look all you want.”
Jing Yi smiled wryly. It seemed he had been praising him too soon. Although … Qiu Ling was clearly joking just now. As for not insisting to come with him any further and just silently accompanying him … it seemed that he was serious about that. He pondered for a moment but finally still brought it up. “I just feel that you are a bit different. That’s all.”
Qiu Ling gave him a long look, figuring that Jing Yi was probably asking for an explanation even if he didn’t say it explicitly. He thought for a moment and then just went ahead with it. In any case, no matter what the situation with Jing Yi and Jing He was, they were still both his lover somehow. And there was no reason to keep anything from Jing Yi.
“I guess I feel different. Because of this matter with … well, my father, I told Xiang Yong and An Bai about my parents. And also about …” He looked around, making sure that nobody was around, and even lowered his voice. “About Jinde.
“And I guess I just feel relieved. Things are easier now. And the longer this lasts, the more I feel like I can be myself. There is no reason to hide anything anymore. I mean not in general but at least in front of a handful of people.
“Before this, it was just you. But I guess because you were born human and might not have realized quite how severe this matter is I still wasn’t at ease. And now, there are even people of my own race who are able to accept it. That is something that helped me a lot.”
Jing Yi felt slightly hurt when he had to listen to Qiu Ling saying that just telling him hadn’t been enough. But to be honest, when he rationally thought about it, he also understood why that was the case. There was just a difference between him and the people of the dragon race accepting it. And in any case, he should be happy for him. “Well, it’s good that it’s possible. I wish I would have been able to do more for you.”
Qiu Ling looked at him and smiled faintly. “You did. It is just that … it might have sounded a bit dismissive but that isn’t how I mean it. If I hadn’t told you, I never would have been ready to tell them. That was the first step for me and something I honestly wouldn’t have thought I’d ever be able to do. If not for you, nothing would have changed.”
Jing Yi looked at him, feeling that something was a bit strange. Qiu Ling was … really different. “This matter was already quite some time ago. Why do I only feel that you’re now getting strange?”
Qiu Ling stopped in his tracks and looked up at the sky, pondering by himself. Yes, why was this happening? “Maybe it’s that I needed some getting used to it. Maybe that’s not it either. Maybe … I think maybe I just needed time for myself to think it through.
“I … I had a talk with Jing He’s uncle before. I think that while we talked, I realized some things. You know, I don’t regret what has happened with his trial. It has caused a lot of pain to everyone involved but … I think that there are also good sides. And even though we haven’t been able to solve the situation, I guess realizing this makes me a bit more hopeful. Also, a lot of it has to do with my own situation. So maybe that has had some influence.”
Jing Yi nodded, feeling as if he could understand that. He was a little confused about Qiu Ling’s judgment though. “You really think that there’s something good about this trial? You wouldn’t have preferred it if you could have just stayed with Jing He all this time?”
Qiu Ling gave a wry smile. “That is such a loaded question, my love.” He reached out and pulled Jing Yi toward him, looking into his eyes. “I know I’m not always treating you well enough because of this whole matter. In this case, you’re actually not right.
“Yes, I’ve never regretted a single moment that I spent with him. But for myself, as a person and as the king of the dragon race, I think this trial was important.
“Being with you, I’ve learned things that I never could have realized with Jing He. And having this time in the mortal realm and dealing with things that I was suddenly confronted with, has also made me grow as the one who is supposed to rule my kingdom.
“Those are things that I can’t deny. And I will not pretend that this isn’t a good thing. Even if that is something that will hurt Jing He, it is the truth. As for him … it isn’t that I don’t miss him, but I do enjoy spending time with you. Nothing has changed about that situation.”
Jing Yi still wasn’t quite sure what to make of all of this but he finally nodded. “Well, I’m sorry that I’m putting you in a situation where you won’t be able to spend time with me then. But I really need this time in the courtyard of the idle gods.”
Qiu Ling merely nodded. “It’s alright. I would prefer it if we could stay together but this is also one of the things that this trial has taught me: I can’t expect you to just follow along with what I want.
“You have some needs as well and in all these years, I haven’t taken that into consideration enough. If I had, then maybe we wouldn’t be in this mess. Maybe if I had been less selfish, things would have turned out differently.”