Qiu Ling gathered from Jing He’s expression what was going on and raised his brows. “Well, I guess I won’t go and tell him. In any case, with how he is, it might be better if he doesn’t find out immediately. He probably wouldn’t let you rest at all.”
Jing He forced a smile, not quite sure what to say to that. His father … to be honest, he had to say that he also believed that he would have a hard time finding rest if his father knew about this. He would probably rush to his palace immediately and then ask about him all the time, making him worry even more. Also, he much preferred the dragon king’s company.
Thinking of that, Jing He lowered his head again. To prefer the company of a man that he had no official relationship with over that of his own father … he really was vile.
Qiu Ling’s expression changed when he saw how Jing He looked and he hastily reached out, pulling his hand toward him. “Anyway, don’t think about that for the time being. I’m happy that we have a chance to be alone for a while. Now, was there something else you would like to do? Did you think of something in the meantime?”
Jing He looked up and, for a moment, there was this absurd picture of him kissing the dragon king in his mind again. It startled him. He knew that he had fallen in love with this man and was longing for him but he hadn’t thought that it had gotten to this point. How … degenerate.
He wanted to pull back, but he only managed to scare Qiu Ling more.
“Aren’t you feeling well? Should I get the God of Medicine?”
Jing He looked up, his gaze completely lost. Right now, he didn’t know what to say. If the dragon king went to get the God of Medicine, he definitely wouldn’t find anything new. Finally, he just shook his head, and then gently pulled back his hand. “I’m probably just a little tired.”
Qiu Ling nodded and then helped him lie down, looking at him with worry in his gaze. “Then do you want to go back to sleep for a while? I’ll stay here to watch over you but you don’t have to mind me. If it makes you uncomfortable, I’ll face the other direction.”
Jing He shook his head and then hurriedly reached out when he wasn’t sure how the dragon king would take the answer. “Longjun need not do something like this. I … I trust you.” That admission brought the color back to his cheeks and he hastily looked away. “I mean … we have known each other for more than four years now, it seems silly to worry about such things with Longjun since there has never been a cause for worry. Not that I expected there to be in the first place.”
Qiu Ling looked at him and for a fleeting moment, the thought that his beloved could really lie with his eyes open crossed his mind. No reason to worry? He would beg to differ. Considering the way he had gone about pursuing Jing He before, there was a lot of reason to worry. But still, he would never expose him like that. “You can rest assured that I’ll be nothing but a gentleman while you sleep.” He leaned back and helped him pulled the blanket up higher before looking around the room again. “I … I’ll paint a bit in the meantime.”
Jing He nodded, not quite sure what to make of this. Most likely, the dragon king was trying to give him peace of mind but with this? After all, if he felt that he was occupied with something else, he wouldn’t have to worry about silly things. Seeing it this way … he was really too considerate.
Qiu Ling stopped a few steps away and then took out a table from his spatial ring, adding a scroll of paper. Some brushes and ink followed before he sat down and then looked up at Jing He who was watching him with wonder.
“You don’t have to bother about me. I’m just going to stay here so that I can rest assured that you’re alright. If I notice that you just so much as stir in your sleep, I’ll be immediately there and try to help. If you just quietly sleep though, I’ll just quietly paint. I can show you the finished painting after you wake up. Maybe it will be a nice one.”
Jing He nodded and then indeed closed his eyes but he wasn’t quite able to fall asleep. Instead, he listened for the sounds coming from the table opposite him.
At first, there was absolutely nothing. Qiu Ling didn’t seem to be moving at all. In fact, he really wasn’t. He was staring at Jing He, his gaze brushing over every inch of his face and trying to remember everything from the shade of his skin to the way there was a bit of a shadow beneath his eyes right now.
He wanted to make sure that he would be able to tell at a glance whether Jing He was doing better not only when he woke up later but also when he saw him again tomorrow and on all the days afterward. Right now, he was worried about everything. He wanted to make sure that he would have something to go off when he tried to figure out how he was doing.
Only when he had finished with this did he actually grind the ink and then started to paint. As for what he drew … needless to say, it was Jing He.
Usually, he would sketch him out of his memory. Considering how much time they spent together this wasn’t difficult for him at all. He felt like he had seen him from almost every angle before as well.
Sitting at the table in front of him, turning to look over his shoulder to the garden behind him when they had been outside in the pavilion, tilting his head a little to the side while pouring him a cup of tea, walking in front of him holding a jar to water the flowers in his garden, picking something up from a drawer inside …
All those daily gestures were etched into his mind. He had spent so much time observing Jing He that he felt like he was able to conjure up an image of his every movement, the way that his hair would fall down his back over his shoulder, how his wide sleeves would move with him, and also how the light would play on his skin. There was nothing he didn’t remember about him.
There was one thing he hadn’t seen often though: Jing He lying down. There had been moments, of course, but they had never been long and he never really had the chance to closely watch this.
Now though, there was an opportunity like that right in front of him. He would be an idiot if he didn’t make use of it.
Thus, while he definitely wouldn’t do anything to Jing He, Qiu Ling still took a bit of advantage. At first, he did a full painting of him. First sketching a bit and then adding more detail with time passing. After that, he did a second drawing of him in the same position but changed the background a little, making this a less solemn moment and one of overwhelming youth and abundant beauty.
The faint sound of the brush gliding over the paper in rhythmic movements finally made Jing He drowsy and allowed him to actually fall asleep again. Exactly at that moment, Qiu Ling looked up.
He had known that Jing He wasn’t sleeping yet. He had spent so much time outside and with being more than aware of the people around him than others probably were, he was able to tell this kind of thing. Now that Jing He was indeed sleeping, he went back to watching him some more, just slowly doing some sketches whenever he moved slightly.
His head tilting to one side or the other little, a strand of hair being moved from one place to the other thanks to his movement, and even him turning to the side while asleep and his brows faintly furrowing when there was a moment of discomfort that might have been caused by a bad dream.
Qiu Ling had no idea just how many sketches he had made by the time that Jing He’s eyelids fluttered a few hours later. Needless to say, he wouldn’t show him either.
He put the sketches into his spatial ring and took out the painting he had done at the very beginning before he started to clean the brush, making sure that this was the thing that Jing He saw when he opened his eyes. Then, he looked up, showing him a splendid smile. “You’re awake again. How do you feel? A bit better?”
For a moment, Jing He was in a daze. He couldn’t quite understand what happened. Hadn’t he just … pretended to want to sleep because he hadn’t known how to deal with the situation? How come it seemed as if he had really slept?
Instead of answering, he tried to sit up but Qiu Ling hastily came over and helped him, showering him with his gentle care.
Jing He didn’t mind. In fact, he took advantage of the situation, holding onto his arm when he had the opportunity and leaning into his embrace when Qiu Ling leaned closer to make sure that he had a good grasp on him.
He went so far as to rest his head against his shoulder for just a moment, pretending that he was much weaker than he really was right now. Well, he didn’t have that much pretending to do. He really wasn’t that strong right now and it really showed. Especially right now, he actually felt a little disoriented.
Qiu Ling also realized that Jing He wasn’t quite awake yet and hastily glanced at the teacup to the side. “Do you want another cup? It’s been quite some time since you drank something.” Also, he really didn’t know if it wasn’t about time he got some real food again. This really wasn’t a condition he should be kept in for much longer. Then again, he didn’t know anything about medicine so he had to believe the God of Medicine about it.
Jing He nodded faintly and waited for Qiu Ling to give him another cup of tea before he leaned back and gave a faint smile. “It’s alright already. I was just … a little disoriented after waking up. There is no need for Longjun to worry.”
Qiu Ling nodded and then motioned over to the table. “Well, in that case, do you want to see what I painted?”
Jing He nodded without thinking, feeling that considering the skill of the dragon king, it should be beautiful.
Then, he was handed a painting of himself, lying on a bed of flowers, his expression innocent while his posture seemed a little alluring. Seeing this, his face immediately flushed again.
Maybe … maybe it hadn’t been such a good idea to expose himself in such a situation in front of the dragon king. Although then again … if this was how the dragon king saw him, he’d gladly do it again. Because after all, a man who did not hold some kind of feelings for him would never paint him like this, right?
Thus, deep inside his heart, he had to admit that he was happy to be able to see this and to be seen by the dragon king in such a way.