Jing He woke up in the middle of the night. He still felt weak but slightly better. A few hours of sleep and some medicine could at least make a bit of a difference even if he would need weeks to get completely back on his feet.
He turned his head to the side, somehow expecting to see Qiu Ling there despite the fact that it had already gotten dark. But to his surprise, the dragon king wasn’t to be seen. Instead, he was alone.
He stared into the darkness, feeling as if his heart was breaking. Could it be that after just a few hours, this dream was already over? Not even a full day had gone by and he was already alone again.
Well, he shouldn’t have expected anything else. No matter what, the circumstances hadn’t changed. The dragon king had probably just taken pity on him for a moment and stayed with him because of that. But as soon as it was acceptable to leave, he had done so.
He clenched his hands into fists, not sure what to do with the pain and sadness in his heart. This was the problem with giving yourself hope: When it was inevitably crushed, you would only feel worse.
His movements woke up Bai Fen. She had stayed next to him the whole time since Qiu Ling had had her called over but had finally fallen asleep halfway through the night. Now, she hurriedly raised her head. “Jing He, darling, did you wake up? Are you feeling alright?”
Jing He turned to his mother in a daze. He hadn’t even noticed that she was there. Now, he didn’t know how to react. It was hard enough to school his expression, not to mention answering her question. Right now, he would really prefer to be alone. At least he wouldn’t need the energy to pretend to be alright. But then again, what did it matter?
Seeing her son like this, Bai Fen couldn’t help but sigh. “Well, Longjun said that you weren’t doing that much better. Right, the tea!” She hurriedly went to grab the teapot and then heated up the tea that was left inside, pouring a cup for him. “Let me help you!” She helped him sit up and then handed him the cup, rubbing his back while he took a few sips.
On the other hand, Jing He’s thoughts were somewhere completely else. Apparently, his mother had seen Longjun. He really wanted to ask about him but he didn’t know how to bring it up. In any case, his first thought after waking up shouldn’t be a man he had no official relationship with.
He silently drunk the tea and then handed the cup back to his mother before folding his hands in his lap. He could only stay quiet even though he really would’ve liked to ask.
Bai Fen put the cup away and then sat down at the edge of the bed again, looking at her son with worry. Right now, she really didn’t trust that he would be doing better anytime soon. He still looked incredibly pale and there was something in his expression that she wasn’t quite sure what to make of. It seemed that he wasn’t calm inside.
Usually, she would have been happy to see him show a trace of emotions at least instead of that usual tranquility whether it was real or fake. But at this moment, she would have given a lot to have him be like he originally was: not disturbed by anything. Then at least he would get well again soon.
She forced herself to keep a calm facade despite her feeling, not wanting him to worry about her while he should focus on himself. “You should try and sleep some more. The God of Medicine mentioned that that would be for the best.”
Jing He nodded even though he couldn’t imagine that he would be able to do so. Still, with his mother’s help, he lay back down and even closed his eyes. No matter how long he lay there, he couldn’t fall asleep.
Bai Fen also realized that things wouldn’t go anywhere like this. She sighed and patted his hand before she got up and opened the window a little, as well as going over to the door to the garden and opening that to let in some fresh air. Then, she went back to the bed, sitting down next to him again. “I guess it’s hard to sleep even more after you’ve already been asleep half the day.”
Jing He opened his eyes again, feeling that he was doing nothing but making trouble. “I’m sorry, mother.”
Bai Fen sighed again and furrowed her brows faintly. “Don’t apologize. In any case, you are sick. That can’t be helped. Just make sure to get back on your feet soon. You really scared me today. Although, I guess you scared Longjun even more than me. When I saw him, he was really out of sorts.”
Jing He kept especially quiet, hoping that she would say something more.
Bai Fen originally wanted to drop the topic but when she saw how her son looked at her, she realized that maybe he would like to know some more. And in any case, she shouldn’t expect him to ask.
She took a moment and then got up again, walking back to the door to the garden and turning her back to Jing He so he wouldn’t feel like he was under scrutiny. In his current situation, she really wanted him to just rest. If he could put his mind at ease even a little, that would be for the best.
“Well, I already told you before that he was the one who caught you when you collapsed. After that, he had both me and the God of Medicine called over and then stayed with you until the sun was about to go down.
“At that time, he sent one of your guards over to ask me here as if he was afraid you would mind if he stayed any longer.” She smiled faintly, her gaze resting on the garden outside that seemed gray in the darkness, its usual color completely lost. “I’m pretty sure he’ll be back as soon as the sun goes up tomorrow morning. Most likely, you’ll have him back here every day now.”
Jing He’s heart thumped at the possibility of that happening. At the same time, he felt that he should probably deny that but he didn’t have the strength to do so, and to be honest, he also didn’t want to. Just for a while, he wanted to pretend that there could really be such a reality. Although … maybe there was a chance. If Qiu Ling had really stayed with him for that long, then maybe he would really return the next morning.
Bai Fen glanced over her shoulder but then turned back again when she caught herself wanting to check his reaction and looked up at the sky instead. “Did I tell you yet? Your uncle went to the dragon realm this morning to ask about the upcoming ceremony.
“He didn’t manage to meet with Longjun since that was the time when he came to see you but he did meet with two of his advisers. Apparently, they were insanely busy the last few weeks. No wonder the dragon king didn’t have time to come here much.
“But now, most of the preparations have been taken care of. Also, they will make sure that our gift will be given to Longjun in time. Your uncle also might have mentioned that it was you who chose it. And apparently, Longjun’s advisers said that, in that case, no matter what it was, the dragon king would be satisfied with it.”
Jing He stared at his mother’s back, his heart fluttering in his chest. Qiu Ling’s adviser had said something like that? He didn’t know them all that well. To be honest, other than An Bai, he had only seen Xiang Yong on the day when he had met Qiu Ling for the first time. But the others … He didn’t know anything about them.
That probably wasn’t good. He should’ve inquired about them when he had the chance. But in any case, since they were his advisers, Qiu Ling would probably share quite a bit with them. Maybe he had told them something about him? Maybe he had given voice to his feelings in front of them? Could it be that they would say something like that because they knew something more? Judging from what the dragon king had told him before, there was indeed a chance that that was true.
Oh, if only that was the case! But still, no matter how often he was told, he couldn’t believe it. He just … Maybe it was because he loved this man but he always felt that he didn’t deserve him, that there was no chance that there could really be any future between them.
Ah, if only there was some sign that this chance indeed existed. He would give a lot to be able to hold onto that.