Zhu Hong’s lips twitched when he saw the group of dragons that was loitering close by. Even though all of them seemed as if they had something to do, it was still pretty obvious that they were glancing in their direction, keeping an eye on the house to find out what was going on. It seemed that the dragon clan didn’t have anything better to do today than to pay attention to the newlywed couple. Well, he shouldn’t have expected anything else. Weddings were important matters after all.
Glancing at Zhen Zhu next to him, Zhu Hong finally sighed. While he had originally wanted to slowly let him get to know the people closest to him before he introduced him to everyone else, it seemed that he wouldn’t get around it. But in any case, it was also good if he knew a few other people. It certainly wasn’t too bad if he got along with everyone. The more people Zhen Zhu was able to win over, the better. Then, he wouldn’t have to worry about him while he wasn’t in the valley. Thinking of that, Zhu Hong motioned over at the group of dragons. “Do you want to go over and have a chat?”
Zhen Zhu also looked over and nodded. To be honest, he was quite curious about the other dragons. While his husband was definitely the most important person, that didn’t mean that he didn’t want to meet anyone else. In any case, in this world, the only people he knew so far were Zhu Hong and GrandElder Lan Jing. He had seen a few other Elders but he didn’t really know anyone else.
Come to think of it, it was a strange feeling. Especially because he knew that everyone else was different. Zhu Hong had grown up with the other dragons. He had been born in the same valley as them and they had played together as children. When they became older, they had made all those experiences together as well.
But for him … it wasn’t the same. The life of a phoenix was lonely before they were given to their spouse. The egg would be laid in the forest of the phoenix clan and then brought over to the mountain of the dragon clan. Then, they would slowly grow up inside the egg, waiting for the day when, finally, their spouse would come and find them. Only then would they be taken down and brought back to their clan. And after they completely hatched, they were immediately brought over to the dragon clan to get married to their spouse.
There was no time to get to know anyone. Sometimes — like it had happened with him — they wouldn’t even find out who their parents were before they married. There was no time to ask questions and get familiar with anything, to clarify any doubt that they had. They could only go along and then shape their life after arriving at their spouse’s place. So finally having this opportunity to get to know other people, Zhen Zhu was naturally willing.
Seeing his husband’s excited expression, Zhu Hong pushed away any thoughts of his original plan and just led him over. In any case, the most important thing was that Zhen Zhu was happy.
The dragons that had pretended to be busy immediately let go of whatever props they had chosen and circled around the newlywed couple.
“Congratulations, brother Zhu Hong! Your spouse is really beautiful. I only got a quick glance from one of the rows in the back yesterday so I didn’t get a good look. You’re really lucky.”
Zhu Hong smiled and reached out to brush through Zhen Zhu’s hair. Was he lucky? But of course he was. He really didn’t need anybody else to tell him that.
The other dragon clicked his tongue when he saw Zhu Hong’s smug expression and shook his head. “There’s really no need to rub your happiness in our faces.”
Zhu Hong just smiled even brighter. “I really don’t know what you’re talking about. I wasn’t rubbing anything anywhere. I’m just naturally very happy the day after I got married to my beautiful spouse.” He turned to Zhen Zhu and gently kissed his temple, making the phoenix smile.
The other dragons couldn’t help but feel that it was quite cute and started to ask more questions.
“So, what are you going to do now? Do you have anything exciting planned?”
“Yes, ah! I remember when I got married, I took my wife around the whole valley, and then even made a trip outside so she could see some more. Even though she saw things on the way here, she absolutely loved it.”
Zhu Hong gave a faint hum. “We’re not going to do something quite as big just yet. I wanted to show Zhen Zhu the valley and have him meet everyone first. After he gets familiar with this place and we made a visit to the forest again, there will still be more than enough time to play outside.”
While the dragon that had made that suggestion didn’t seem that much on board, another one couldn’t help but agree with Zhu Hong’s decision.
“I think it’s quite good. When we married, my husband was really scared. Everything was new. Why go out and show them even more new things? Isn’t it better to have them be familiar with their home first? In any case, it’s not like you only have one day. You have your whole life ahead of you. So why wouldn’t you go about things slowly? There is really no rush.”
Another dragon chimed in at that. “My experience was pretty much the same. My wife only calmed down after she met the other phoenixes in the valley. You should probably bring your husband over there as well. That way, he can ask them some questions.”
Zhu Hong inclined his head, grateful for the tip. “I’ll definitely do that. First, I want him to meet Elder Bi though.”
The other dragons couldn’t help but laugh. “Meeting the in-laws, ah? Well, that’s also good! If you’re not there, he can go and accompany the Elder for a bit. Only ever hanging out with the other phoenixes would also be boring in the future.”
Zhu Hong nodded and then turned to Zhen Zhu, gently brushing his cheek with his fingertips. “Alright, do you want to go see the Elder now?”
Zhen Zhu looked at the dragons he had just gotten to know and then nodded. In any case, he was really curious about this person that was so important to Zhu Hong. While it was nice getting to know everybody else, he also felt that that had time until later.
“Alright, you heard him. Then we’ll be going for now. See you later.” He nodded at the others and then led Zhen Zhu away while the dragons excitedly started to discuss what they had just seen before finally dispersing. In any case, there was nothing to see any longer in front of the house.
Meanwhile, Zhu Hong brought Zhen Zhu over to the Elder’s house. It was further inside the valley, so they needed to walk quite a distance. Zhu Hong didn’t mind though. In any case, it was good if Zhen Zhu was able to see a few more things. That way, he could already get a little familiar with this place. “If there’s something you want to know, just ask.”
Zhen Zhu nodded but he really didn’t know what to even ask about. In any case, everything was new. He could’ve asked who the people living in these houses were but if he hadn’t seen them before, that also wouldn’t tell him anything. It was better to do as that other dragon had said before and slowly get to know everything here. After he started to meet more people, remembering where they were living would be much easier as well.
Thus, the two of them walked forward in silence but neither of them felt that there was a problem with that. In any case, just being in each other’s company was already quite good. Finally, they stopped in front of a house that was quite a bit bigger than Zhu Hong’s and the dragon motioned at the door.
“This is where the Elder is living.”
Zhen Zhu looked up and counted the windows, blinking his eyes in surprise. “It looks quite big.”
Zhu Hong nodded and used the opportunity to explain. “Over here, families will often live in the same house. So a dragon with a big family will also have a bigger house. Since there’s only me in mine, it is rather simple. On the other hand, in Elder Bi’s family, there are much more people.”
Zhen Zhu nodded, feeling that it made sense. More people would need more space as well. That was a given. “So who does he live with?”
“Well, for one, there is his wife, Chengse. Then, the two of them also have two dragon children that are living with them. One of them has a spouse while the other has been left alone. Both of them have a younger child though.”
Zhen Zhu’s brows shot up. “So there are actually three generations living in there. That is really quite a lot. He must be happy to have all his family with him.”
Zhu Hong nodded his head. “To Elder Bi family is quite important. He has complained a few times that their phoenix daughter needed to be given away. If he could, he definitely would’ve wanted for her and his daughter-in-law to live in this house as well but they stayed with her family.”
“Ah, it’s a pity then.”
Zhu Hong nodded but didn’t comment further. In any case, even though he was close to Elder Bi, he also didn’t dare to comment too much on his familial situation. “Well, do you want to go in then?”
Zhen Zhu nodded but first tugged at Zhu Hong’s sleeve to make him wait a bit. “So this Elder Bi, who exactly is he to you?”
“Ah.” Zhu Hong suddenly realized that he had never really explained this to Zhen Zhu. “Well, you know, my parents aren’t alive anymore. They actually died quite early on so I was left alone with nobody to help me. Elder Bi took pity on me and helped me in the years since then.
“I guess I can be counted as half a family member. Originally, he even asked if I wanted to move in with them but I always felt it wouldn’t be too good.” To be honest, he had been tempted back then but had also felt like he would be a bother. After all, this was already a full house. And he really didn’t want to rely on Elder Bi even more. No matter how much he tried, he would never be able to even pay back what he had been given before. If he continued to add onto that … he was afraid that even his future generations would need to try and make up for this debt.
Zhen Zhu wasn’t quite sure what to make of this but, for the time being, to just continue to listen to what Zhu Hong was saying. In any case, he had just gotten married and still didn’t understand many things. He needed to rely on his husband for explanations so it really wouldn’t do to say too much. “Well, since I know now, we can go and see him if you want to.”
Zhu Hong nodded and then led Zhen Zhu over, knocking on the door.
Before he could even pull back his hand, the door was already pulled open and Elder Bi’s face appeared. “You’re finally here! I already thought you would’ve forgotten all about me after getting married.”
Zhu Hong gave an indulgent smile. Clearly, Elder Bi had been waiting directly behind the door. Considering how late they had gotten up, he probably shouldn’t be surprised about that. “Ah, it is all my fault, Elder. In the future, I will definitely not make you wait this long.”
Elder Bi clicked his tongue and waved his hand, finally turning to Zhen Zhu. His weathered face was all smiles while looking at the pretty phoenix next to Zhu Hong. He had already seen yesterday that this youth seemed pretty good. Seeing him now standing so well-behaved next to Zhu Hong, he was even more certain of that. “So, you are Zhen Zhu.”
Zhen Zhu inclined his head and gave the Elder a smile as well. “Yes, Elder. Thank you for taking care of my husband all these years so we could finally meet.”
Elder Bi laughed when Zhen Zhu greeted him so seriously and reached out to gently pat his shoulders. “No need to thank me. Hasn’t Zhu Hong told you yet that family is important to me? Our clan is like one big family. Whether it is the dragon children or phoenix spouses, we should all stick together.
“A child that is as unfortunate as your husband was, definitely needs to be taken care of especially. How could I as an Elder not do something as simple as lending a helping hand every now and then? Now, I’m happy that he has finally found a spouse of his own. I was already afraid he would end up as an old bachelor because he refused to go up the mountain at first.”
Zhu Hong gave a wry smile. “Elder Bi, do you really need to say these things? You’ll make me look bad in front of my husband.”
The Elder just laughed though and then waved for the two of them to come in. “Don’t complain. In any case, you do owe me this much for raising you this big. Now, come on in, I’ll introduce you to my family.” He smiled at Zhen Zhu and then led the way.