The atmosphere between the two of them was especially good that day and time seemed to fly by. Soon enough, the rays of the sun outside the window slanted, shrouding the room in twilight.
Qiu Ling looked up when he realized and couldn’t help but sigh. “It seems like the day is slowly coming to an end. I’m afraid I’ll have to leave. It wouldn’t look good if I stayed around too long.”
Jing He looked at him, not sure if he should be happy or sad that the dragon king took note of that. He would’ve liked to spend more time with him, especially on a day like today where the dragon king was willing to let him take a short glimpse into his life. It was a precious moment, one that he was afraid would not come back too soon.
But still, it was for the best. If he let something like this happen, it would be too late to uphold his reputation. After all, even though there wasn’t anyone around but Huang Lan and Mu Kun, you could never know if others wouldn’t notice the dragon king coming early and failing to leave before sundown.
At that time, the consequences would be bad enough even if nobody knew for sure that he had been in his palace all this time. After all, people would make up their own rumors. Not that they would be wrong if it truly happened.
He fought down his disappointment and tried to pretend that everything was alright. “Well, I guess Longjun won’t have time to come tomorrow?” His gaze was a little hopeful when he glanced up but he looked away just as fast, not wanting to seem too eager.
Qiu Ling had wanted to get up but at that moment, he couldn’t help but lean back down. “I won’t?”
Jing He rubbed his arm, not sure how to deal with the dragon king being this close again. “Well, if I’m not remembering wrong, then the anniversary of your coronation was coming up. It should be one of these days, shouldn’t it?”
Qiu Ling’s gaze traveled to the ceiling. He really wanted to curse. That kind of thing, why did he need to take part in it?
In the end, he clicked his tongue. “Well, it seems you are right about that. It should be tomorrow or the day after. To be honest, I forgot. In any case, I will only stay around there for a bit and then come here to see you. You’re more important than that.” He reached down to take his hand, wanting to reassure him. “If I remember right from the other occasions, there will be some nice things in the city at that time. It’s a pity you can’t come to take a look but I could bring some over. I’m just not sure if you could stomach the food at the moment. But maybe there will be something that can be kept for a little longer. I’ll have a look around!”
Jing He glanced up, noticing the splendid smile on the dragon king’s lips and he couldn’t help but stare for a moment. “Longjun …”
Qiu Ling smiled even more brightly at that. “No need to thank me. I like doing things for you. Now, I’ll have one of your guards get your mother to accompany you.”
“Ah, that isn’t necessary. I … I’m not doing that badly anymore.”
Qiu Ling looked at him and then leaned down, cupping his cheeks. “Even though you say that, do me the favor and let her stay for at least another few nights, yes? I’m worried about you. So please, do me the favor of having somebody else around at night after I leave, yes? I would feel a lot better if there was somebody right next to you to make sure you’re alright.”
Jing He stared at him, spellbound. That the dragon king worried about him this much … he had seen this often over the last few days but still, every time it happened again, his heart raced. “Well, if it means so much to Longjun, then how could I say no? I’m just worried that it will be tiring my mother out.”
Qiu Ling didn’t think that the Heavenly Empress was one to be tired that easily but he still nodded. “Then maybe you would prefer somebody else? A servant might do or maybe your uncle?” He definitely couldn’t go and get the Heavenly Emperor for him without making trouble but the God of War seemed to be alright.
In fact, especially after the two of them had had a talk the other day, he felt good about him. He seemed like the kind of man who cared a lot about his nephew and was also somebody who was not that hung up over the rules. So if he went to him, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Jing He couldn’t quite imagine falling asleep under the watchful gaze of his uncle but he still nodded. In any case, it would be even worse with a servant around so it should be alright. And he really didn’t want to worry his mother even more. If she wasn’t called over in the evening every time, she might feel reassured because she would think that he was better again.
“Alright, give me a moment then.” Qiu Ling rushed to the door, grabbing one of the guards to tell them to get the God of War.
Mu Kun stared at him, not quite understanding what was going on for a moment until Qiu Ling raised his brows at him.
“That … The God of War?”
“Isn’t he his uncle? In any case, somebody should stay with him and the Heavenly Empress already did last night. She should take a rest.”
Mu Kun couldn’t help but feel that this was reasonable so he nodded. “I will be back in a moment.” Then, he rushed off.
Huang Lan watched him leave and then glanced at the dragon king, wondering when exactly they had started to take orders from this guy. Usually, they should stay around to protect the Son of Heaven. But now, one of them was gone.
Somehow, over the last few days, things had changed. But then again, he didn’t have any illusions about the future. Most likely, no matter what he or anybody else thought, the Son of Heaven would end up marrying this guy. So it wasn’t wrong to do this.
Qiu Ling turned to look at him when he noticed his gaze and raised his brows again. In the end, he didn’t say anything though, and just returned back inside, sitting down next to Jing He. No matter what the guard thought, it was most important to make sure that Jing He always had company. In his situation, it was best to keep a close watch on him just in case. Maybe nothing would happen but it was still best to make sure.
Mu Kun had indeed hurried up so after just a couple of minutes, Qiang Yan already walked into the palace, raising his brows when he saw the dragon king sit this close to his nephew. Still, he pretended that he didn’t notice and instead went to take a look at the pot that was still standing to the side, raising his brows at that instead. “Oh, I see even you have something to eat. Mind if I take some?”
Qiu Ling smiled at Jing He and got up again. “I’ll leave the two of you alone then. I’ll come back again as soon as I can.”
“Thank you for your time, Longjun. You still shouldn’t feel forced to come by if you don’t have the time.”
“It’s not being forced, it’s a pleasure to me. Good night, my …” He stopped before he could say ‘my love’ and glanced at the God of War, feeling that Jing He would be too embarrassed if he did that in front of his uncle.
In the end, he just cleared his throat and gave him a bright smile, stepping out into the garden and then rushing off. No matter what, he’d leave it up to his beloved’s imagination what he thought he might have wanted to say. He was sure he would be able to figure something out.
Qiang Yan once again pretended that he hadn’t noticed anything about that exchange and just got himself a bowl and some of the soup, then picking up a second one and handing it to Jing He, making sure that he warmed it up a little. “I bet you haven’t eaten anything for dinner yet. I haven’t either so let’s eat together.”
Jing He nodded absentmindedly, his mind still on the question of what exactly the dragon king had wanted to say. He quietly ate the soup, the warmth calming the worry in his heart.
Qiang Yan watched him and then glanced at the door to the garden, feeling that this dragon king was a natural talent when it came to calming down his nephew. Even though he was clearly still overthinking things, he was at least eating again. That was quite the quick change if he might say so.
Give that man a few more weeks and he might actually manage to fatten up his nephew. Well, somehow, that made him think of what would happen when his nephew was sufficiently fattened up.
At that, he was the one who started to worry. After all, he really didn’t think that the relationship between these two would enter the next stage without a fight from Jing He’s father. Well, that was something that the dragon king might need to figure out on his own.