After another fretful night, Jing He woke up with a headache. He slowly sat up, holding his forehead, and sighed to himself. This really wasn’t good. If he continued to like this, he might actually start to show signs of his lack of sleep. Not only would he worry his parents then, but what if Longjun noticed? Most likely, the fact that he was attracted to him was based on his looks to a large degree. If he lost that … would he still be worth the dragon king’s attention?
Jing He sighed again when he thought of that problem and finally pushed back the blanket, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed. His headache immediately worsened and he took a moment to sort himself.
Just when he wanted to get up, a voice sounded from the door to the garden. “Good morning, my love! I brought a gift!”
Jing He gave a yelp and then reached to the side to draw the curtain of his bed shut.
Unfortunately, this not only drew the dragon king over to make sure that he was alright but also alarmed the two guards in front of his door that immediately stormed in.
Mu Kun and Huang Lan had already drawn their weapons but seeing the scene in front of them, they were unsure of what to do: The dragon king was standing halfway into the room, awkwardly holding a box in one hand. Meanwhile, their Son of Heaven didn’t seem to have gotten out of bed yet, and the curtains were actually drawn close which was quite untypical of him and might have been done in reacted to the dragon king’s sudden appearance.
Huang Lan finally cleared his throat and then nodded towards Qiu Ling. “Longjun, it seems you are a little early. Why don’t you wait outside?” Saying so, he motioned back to the door, slowly walking over so the dragon king would have no illusions that he might be allowed to stay inside.
Seeing Huang Lan handle this matter thoroughly, Mu Kun also stepped forward, and inclined his head toward Jing He, keeping his gaze on the ground afterward. “Your Highness, may be so bold as to close the doors to your bedroom?”
Jing He had to clear his throat to find back his voice before he could answer. “Yes, please do so.”
Mu Kun nodded and then went to do as he had suggested, not raising his gaze for a single moment. He closed the door and then also turned toward Qiu Ling, joining Huang Lan in escorting him outside. The two of them followed suit, closing the door to the garden, and then stood in front of it, looking straight at the dragon king. They definitely wouldn’t let him go somewhere else to maybe take a peek at the crown prince.
Inside, Jing He was shaking. This wasn’t the first time that he had almost been surprised by Qiu Ling but it was definitely one of the times that hit him the hardest. Hadn’t he just worried about not looking presentable in front of him? And now, he hadn’t even gotten out of bed and almost would have been seen by him. Neither had he washed up, nor had he combed his hair, or put on his robes. This definitely was not a look he was willing to let the dragon king see.
Jing He did not have time to wallow in self-pity. Since the dragon king was already there, he had to hurry up. He hastily got out of bed and stumbled over to the other side of the room. He would’ve liked to take some more time to pick out his clothes but he could only grab the first robe that he saw and then go to hastily wash up. He dried his body and hair with his magic, hurriedly put the robe on, and then sat down in front of his dressing table. Taking his brush to the hand, he started to make himself look presentable.
He conjured up a water mirror, looking at it while he combed through his hair. What he saw … he wasn’t quite happy with it. He probably would’ve needed to put in quite a bit more time to make himself look decent for the dragon king but he really couldn’t do that.
He put the brush down with a sigh, waved his hand to make the mirror collapse, and then got up. He felt a little lightheaded and took a deep breath to stabilize himself. There was no need to be too worried. In any case, just one time shouldn’t be a problem. As long as he looked decent again the next time the dragon king saw him, it wouldn’t be a problem. He straightened up, took another deep breath to try and calm his nerves, and then went to open the door.
He hadn’t paid attention to what Huang Lan and Mu Kun had done after the doors to his bedchamber were closed so he was quite surprised not to immediately see the dragon king. He hesitated for a moment but then turned to the door leading outside into the garden. This day … he really didn’t know what to do about it. He shook his head at himself, and then walked over slowly, finally opening the door.
Huang Lan and Mu Kun immediately stepped to the side, lowering their heads.
Jing He nodded toward them but then gazed at the dragon king. In any case, in front of a visitor of such high status, he could hardly have a word with his guards, could he? “Longjun. I’m sorry I wasn’t yet in a presentable state.” His cheeks flushed red when he said so, the embarrassment clearly visible in his face.
Qiu Ling walked over and reached out to take his hand, not minding at all. “It’s alright. In any case, no matter what state you’re in, I’m still happy to see you.” He smiled and then motioned inside. “I brought you a gift. How about going in and opening it?”
Jing He glanced at the box in Qiu Ling’s hands and his heart fluttered. He couldn’t help but wonder just what it would be. The last gifts of the dragon king … they had been a little … unique. Now, he wondered just what it would be that he had come up with this time.
No matter what it was, the right answer would always be to thank him politely but also mention how undeserving he was of this kind of attention. “I am honored that Longjun would take such pains to for me. There really was no need.”
Qiu Ling lightly tugged at his hand, not bothering about that is all. “There’s no need to be shy. In any case, I want to marry you in the future. Naturally, I should give you a gift every now and then.” He happily pulled him inside, not in the least minding the guards or Jing He’s expression.
Huang Lan and Mu Kun felt a little uncomfortable but what could they do? Finally, the two of them exchanged a glance and then just bowed in the direction of Jing He, making their way back to the front of the building. They probably weren’t needed on this side any longer.
Qiu Ling led Jing He over to the table, helping him to sit down. Then, he put the box in front of him. “Alright, take a look?”
Jing He glanced up, feeling slightly amused when he noticed how excited the dragon king seemed to be. He was probably convinced that his present was something very good this time, wasn’t he? It was really endearing.
He smiled faintly and then reached out to lift the lid of the box. He was unsure what to expect. He tried to steel his heart against some strange surprise though, remembering how had almost felt like he would faint the next moment after seeing what the dragon king had brought him the first time and had had trouble controlling his expression the second time. To his surprise, what was inside seemed quite normal.
Qiu Ling looked at him questioningly, a little afraid of his beloved’s reaction. “What do you say? Do you like it?”
Jing He continued to look at the herbs for a moment and then glanced up at the dragon king, feeling like he had to make sure of what he saw. “What Longjun is gifting me … are herbs?”
Qiu Ling nodded. “Yes … I noticed that you weren’t that well-rested the last few days so I figured you might want some help with that. Because of that, I gathered some herbs for you.” He conveniently left out that An Bai had taken them from his garden but he was willing to push his adviser out in case Jing He wasn’t happy with this gift after all.
As it turned out, he had worried too much. After another moment of confusion, Jing He’s expression faintly lit up. “It is very thoughtful. Thank you, Longjun. I am … I am very touched.”
Qiu Ling smiled as well and then leaned back, feeling like he had really accomplished something. “Well, it wasn’t much effort on my side. I just hope that they’ll be able to help you a bit.”
Jing He nodded and then took a closer look at the herbs, realizing that he knew quite a few of them. He wasn’t that well-versed in the refinement of pills and potions but he did know some of the features of some herbs. From what he remembered … These mostly seemed to be used to calm one’s mind.
Thinking of that, he couldn’t help but worry a little. Had the dragon king noticed what kind of state his mind was in? Then … did he also know the reason? Thinking of that possibility, his stomach seemed to overturn.
He really didn’t want to imagine that. He would be happy if nobody ever realized. And the dragon king was definitely the last person he wanted to know. That would just make things even more difficult. But it seemed that everything was like that when it came to his relationship with this man.