Having made this plan, Qiu Ling didn’t hesitate to implement it. After thinking for a while, he realized that there was actually something coming up that could be used as an excuse: the anniversary of his coronation.
Thus, when his next visit to Jing He’s palace drew to a close, he tried to casually bring it up. “Then, I will leave for now, Your Highness. You should rest well. Speaking of resting, I’m afraid I will be a little busy in the upcoming days so I might not be able to come over as much.”
Jing He was a little surprised at that but he didn’t dare to question the dragon king. “Ah, so it is like this. Then I hope that Longjun will not be too busy.”
Qiu Ling nodded and waited for him to say something more but Jing He stayed quiet and just looked at him. Or, well, his beloved actually hardly looked him in the eye so it could probably be said that he more or less was evading his gaze. Who knew where exactly he was looking? “That … You know, the anniversary of my coronation is coming up. There are a few things to prepare. So I have to take care of that first. I’ll try to make time for you, of course, but I can’t guarantee anything so I felt the need to tell you beforehand.”
Jing He inclined his head. “Many thanks, Longjun. I’m honored that you would take the time to remind me of this.” Inwardly, he couldn’t help but slightly chastise himself for not remembering this on his own accord. In the year that they had met, Qiu Ling’s coronation anniversary had had passed already. Then for the next few years, it hadn’t really come up and their relationship had also been quite awkward because he was originally trying to evade the dragon king while the dragon king was chasing after him, and then his father’s behavior …
There had never really been a time where it would have been appropriate to really be concerned about this. Now though, it was different. He had already fallen in love with this man. And thus, shouldn’t he be very much interested in this? But he hadn’t even remembered. It made him feel that he was sorely lacking.
Qiu Ling didn’t quite know what else to say so he could only clear his throat and then bid his farewell.
Since he didn’t really intend to do anything for the coronation that he usually just ignored anyway, he went back to the cliff where he went to practice playing his instrument. By now, he felt that he had actually made quite a bit of progress. He still wasn’t sure if he would be able to amaze his beloved with this though. Thus, this was precisely the kind of time where he should put his all into practice. Then after a few days, when his beloved had had time to rest, he could go back and play a small tune for him. It could be an apology for not having enough time for him and making him wait. That would definitely make Jing He’s heart beat faster.
On the other hand, Jing He tried not to think too much about this matter with the dragon king but it really was difficult. For the past few years, hardly a day had gone by where he didn’t see Qiu Ling. Now, just as the dragon king had said before, he was suddenly too busy to visit. After a day or two, he would drop by but only for a short visit, never more than a few hours and even that was rare. Usually, he would hurry to leave again.
Jing He felt completely unaccustomed to this sudden period of hardly seeing him. Especially because it hadn’t been long since he realized his feelings, it hurt even more. He couldn’t help but feel that this was precisely what would await him if he did not agree to Longjun’s proposal soon. Maybe one day, he would even stop visiting him completely.
Really, how could he have been so blind to think that things could just go on like this forever? If he did not show the dragon king that he cared, he would stop trying one day. In any case, who knew if Longjun was really this busy? While it was expected for him not to have that much time as the king of the dragon race, he had been quite free before, hadn’t he? So, could one festival really be taking up this much of his time? Or was it rather that there was some other reason? Did he not want to see him? Could it be that there was somebody else that he had taken an interest in?
With Jing He being worried, there was not the smallest sign of actually taking the rest that Qiu Ling had encouraged him to have. Just thinking of a future that would be like these days made him sick to his stomach.
At the same time, he was not reconciled. Jing He knew that he could never go after the dragon king in the same unabashed manner as that man had come after him but he knew that he had to do something. Maybe the anniversary of his coronation would be a good chance for that?
He remembered how he had asked about it before and scholar An Bai had told him that, usually, the members of the dragon race would perform for their king, showcasing their talents in an attempt to win his favor. Surely, he couldn’t do something like this, but sending his regards might not be too much. In any case, the gods were also the dragons’ allies. To congratulate the king of their allies on something important couldn’t be too much, could it? He tried to convince himself and finally went to go and see his father. In any case, this kind of thing should be handled by him to give it a more official air.
The Heavenly Emperor was naturally ecstatic that his son came to see him. “Jing He!” He jumped to his feet, and then led his son inside, actually regretting the fact that he had been taking a break together with his wife and brother-in-law. Wouldn’t it have been nice if he could’ve been just with his son? How often did he get Jing He’s undivided attention? As his father, he really felt that it was too little.
Bai Fen threw her husband an insipid look and then turned to her son, waving for him to sit down. “Come on over. Sit down and have a cup of tea. It’s rare that we get the chance to sit down this way with the whole family.”
Jing He nodded and sat down between his parents, not saying a word. He had originally wanted to bring this matter up with his father but now that his mother and uncle were also here, he wasn’t too sure. In any case, his mother had always wanted him to get closer to Longjun. She might suspect that something was up and if she voiced those doubts, then maybe his father would also become suspicious. He somehow felt that this wouldn’t be good.
Qiang Yan gave Jing He a look but then lowered his gaze to his cup as if there really was nothing more interesting than the tea inside.
Meanwhile, the Heavenly Emperor pretended that nobody else was there, and hurriedly pushed some snacks toward Jing He, as well as personally filling his cup of tea. “Here, have some tea, have some snacks. You haven’t come over in a while.”
“I’m sorry to disappoint you, father. I will try to do better in the future.” He picked up the tea, ignoring the snacks at the side.
Bai Fen couldn’t help but glance at her husband, also picking up her cup of tea. “Well, I can’t complain. Jing He came to see me just the other day.”
Rong Su’s face fell when he heard that. Why had his son gone to see his mother but not him? It seemed I was something wrong. But in any case, he also didn’t want to make a fuss in front of Jing He so he could only huff and take one of the pastries. Maybe he could swallow down his anger with the crumbs.
Bai Fen chuckled and then turned to her son again. She knew she shouldn’t push him too much but she couldn’t help herself this time. “It seems that Longjun didn’t come over as much lately. Is something the matter?” She was truly curious about this considering that he had been been a constant guest in the capital since the day he saw Jing He for the first time. It was hard to imagine just what might have gotten him to suddenly behave like this.
Rong Su couldn’t help but pipe up at the side. “It’s better if he doesn’t. Even better if he stays away forever!”
Jing He had originally wanted to answer but hearing his father’s words, he hesitated again. Maybe it would be better not to aggravate him further. Even the gift for the coronation’s anniversary … maybe it would be better not to involve him.
Bai Fen threw her husband an angry look and then turned back to her son. “Did he mention anything?”
Being asked this directly, Jing He couldn’t not speak up. “Well, he mentioned that the anniversary of his coronation was coming up. From what I know, there will usually be a festival in the dragon realm. So he should be busy preparing that.”
At that, even Qiang Yan raised his gaze from his cup, and all three gazes came to lie on Jing He. So the dragon king had actually shared this much with him. Also, it was quite interesting to hear that there was such a thing coming up. They wouldn’t have expected it.
Jing He felt a little uncomfortable with all the gazes on him so he couldn’t help but try and divert their attention. “Since he already mentioned it to me, I was wondering if maybe we should send our regards on that day. In any case, he is the king of our allies.”
Bai Fen stared at her son, wondering exactly what his thoughts on this matter were. She didn’t quite believe that Longjun was really just the king of their allies to him anymore? There had to be some feelings at least by now. He just didn’t dare to admit it yet. Ah, sometimes, the child’s personality was really vexing. Even as his mother, she had to say so.
The Heavenly Emperor immediately erupted. “Why should we do that? I don’t remember him ever sending anything when it was the anniversary of my coronation.”
Bai Fen gave him a pointed look. “The dragons did send something over. You just never bothered looking at it.”
Rong Su immediately fell silent again, unable to argue against his wife’s words. Well, then maybe they had sent something. But it certainly hadn’t been picked by that guy! He just wouldn’t believe it. But since his wife already hadn’t been happy about what he said just now, he definitely didn’t dare to add that thought.
Qiang Yan used that opportunity to clear his throat. “Brother-in-law, I think Jing He’s idea isn’t bad. Since the dragon king specifically mentioned it, it wouldn’t do now to not even make a small gesture. How about this? You could go to the treasury with Jing He and pick something out. Jing He’s taste is excellent. He’ll definitely be able to find something that the dragon king would like. Bai Fen and I can just stay here and drink another cup of tea or maybe I’ll accompany her back to her palace. I’m sure you wouldn’t mind having a few hours with your son to yourself.”
Needless to say, the Heavenly Emperor was ecstatic and immediately got up to take his son over to the treasury as his brother-in-law had suggested. Well, who would’ve known? There would actually be a day when his brother-in-law would support him like this.
On the other hand, Bai Fen waited for the two of them to leave before she turned to her brother. “What exactly is going on?”