While they were walking, Zhen Zhu immediately started to tell him about everything he had seen in the phoenixes’ building. After a while, he couldn’t help but mention how much of a shock it had been to see the other phoenixes being so big though.
Seeing his drooping head, Zhu Hong immediately felt bad. “Don’t worry about that. You’ll grow bigger in the future as well. It’s going to happen automatically. There’s no need for you to worry. Just give it a bit of time.”
Zhen Zhu looked up at his husband with sparkling eyes, feeling that there really was nothing that Zhu Hong didn’t know.
Seeing this unguarded adoration, Zhu Hong had no idea what to say. Was it really that awesome to be able to tell him? He had only found out yesterday as well, ah! To be honest, being regarded with this kind of gaze made him even a little worried. While he liked being relied on by Zhen Zhu, he clearly wasn’t good enough of a husband yet. He would have to learn a lot more about the phoenixes to make sure that he could adequately take care of Zhen Zhu in the future. For now though, it was alright as long as they went step-by-step.
Zhen Zhu had already forgotten the worry about his size and continued to tell Zhu Hong about his day. “I was really surprised about the nests. But thinking about it, I remember that in the forest, the phoenixes would also have nests up in the branches of the trees. I guess it’s more comfortable to sleep like that.”
When Zhen Zhu mentioned this, Zhu Hong turned to look at him, trying to figure out what exactly this meant. More comfortable … So most likely, it would be best for him to have a nest at home as well? Ah, but the logistics for that seemed a little difficult. After all, it wasn’t like the dragons were the same. When in their dragon form it didn’t really matter where they slept, but that form was usually a bit too big. A fully grown dragon and a fully grown phoenix in one nest … that really didn’t seem easy to make do with. On the other hand, in this form, they were also quite sturdy, it probably wouldn’t fit too well with the nest. The phoenixes on the other hand seemed to have a habit of turning back into their phoenix form at night if Zhen Zhu’s behavior these past two days was any indicator. So most likely, for them, it was really the best way to go about things.
Zhu Hong fell into deep thought, wondering just how to make it possible for the two of them to get the best of both worlds. In any case, if it was something that Zhen Zhu wanted, he would also be willing to sleep in a nest with him. It was just that while sleeping itself might not be a problem, everything before that would be. This was something that he would have to think about a little more before he said something. In any case, Zhen Zhu seemed like he was just telling him about this because it was something that he had seen not because he had any expectations of him.
Soon enough, the two of them arrived at home. Before Zhu Hong could say anything else, Zhen Zhu immediately rushed off, going to sit down on the bed.
Zhu Hong raised his brows and then slowly followed him, watching Zhen Zhu dissolve the hairstyle on his head and then take off his robe. Zhu Hong couldn’t help but feel a little hot seeing this but he had the distinct feeling that his little spouse had something completely else in mind while doing this. Thus, he just leaned against the doorway, watching him quietly.
Zhen Zhu changed his form, turning into that phoenix form that was still a bit lacking in size, and then sat on the bed for a moment in a daze. Flying was something that was an innate talent of both the dragons and the phoenixes. It shouldn’t require conscious thought.
The memories of how it was to fly and how it was done were also passed down in their clan so it wasn’t like he didn’t know. But he had never done it before and right now, he also didn’t resemble those majestic phoenixes from his memories in the least. Thus, he felt a bit worried about it. But in any case, it was difficult to make progress without trying. Thus, he flapped his wings how we remembered it had to be done and tried to lift himself up into the air. As a result, there was quite a bit of wind but he didn’t lift off for more than the width of a finger.
Zhen Zhu stopped fluttering and turned to look at his husband in horror. Don’t tell him … he was the first phoenix in history who was unable to fly?
Seeing his spouse’s tearful gaze that hadn’t changed much even in his phoenix form, Zhu Hong immediately went over to sit on the edge of the bed, and pulled the phoenix into his arm, cradling him. “You know, while you might be a mature phoenix, your phoenix form hasn’t been fully grown. It might just be that you are at an awkward size right now. Wait until tomorrow morning and try again. I’m pretty sure that the effect will be much better already.”
He hadn’t looked too much yesterday but this morning, he had spent quite a bit of time holding Zhen Zhu and making a comparison so he was rather clear on how his phoenix form had changed in just one night. He had also looked out for any potential problems. There wasn’t much to see there but he had realized that maybe the wings were slightly lacking behind in their development compared to the rest of the body. He hadn’t worried about that since Chengse had said that it would take some time but he still felt it was better to be safe than sorry and had thus taken note of everything, not neglecting even the smallest detail.
When Zhen Zhu had flapped his wings just now, there was quite a bit of wind but not enough yet to lift the rest of the body off the ground. Most likely, his wings still lacked the strength to generate enough. Or maybe the strength was enough but the size inhibited them. But in any case, since he was still growing, that might not be a problem long-term. It could indeed be that by the next day, while the body wouldn’t grow that much, the wings would. It was definitely a possibility. If he was wrong though … well, he could only go and ask for help again or hope that Zhen Zhu wouldn’t notice because he forgot to try.
Zhen Zhu changed back into his other form, not quite as tearfully anymore but still sad. He had wanted to give flying a try. Now, he couldn’t do that yet.
Zhu Hong looked at the naked youth in his arms, thinking that his little spouse was really a little too unguarded in front of him. He pulled his gaze away with a bit of difficulty and cleared his throat. “Just a few more hours. In any case, we can do something else for the time being. You surely won’t be bored.”
Zhen Zhu nodded and then looked up at his husband, seemingly still not realizing that he was naked. “Then what should we do?” Life outside was really very exciting. Inside, it was a world of just the two of them. It wasn’t that Zhen Zhu disliked it, but he felt that there wasn’t that much to do either. In any case, other than eating sleeping, embracing each other, getting dressed or Zhu Hong doing his hair, they hadn’t really done much in the last two days.
Zhu Hong also realized that so far, they hadn’t done a lot, and he was at a bit of a loss. He had always lived alone. He hardly remembered his parents and had refused to move in with Elder Bi. So even though he had seen other people getting along at home, he didn’t quite know how to do these things himself.
He cleared his throat and then looked around, trying to find something that he could suggest. “Well, I think that I haven’t really given you a tour of the whole house yet, have I? You can see what you’d like to change.”
Zhen Zhu was immediately fired up and leaped to his feet. Then, he realized that he had taken off his robe. He grabbed his inner robe and put it back on, then stood in front of Zhu Hong.
His husband looked at him, his gaze a little strange. “Just that one?”
Zhen Zhu looked down at himself, not seeing a problem at all. “What’s the matter? Isn’t it enough? Anyway, we’re at home. So what’s the fuss?”
Zhu Hong looked at the tantalizing image in front of him and finally nodded his head. Yes, what was the fuss? Since they were a married couple, it also wasn’t a problem. Thus, he got up and held Zhen Zhu’s hand, slowly leading him through the rooms.
Originally, his parents had built this house for them and their future children. Even though back then, they hadn’t even had him yet, they had planned for quite a lot. From the rooms, it was obvious to see that they had thought of having at least three children living with them. There were several rooms on the second floor that had probably been meant for those children and maybe even their spouses when that time came.
Seeing all the space, Zhen Zhu was even happier. There was a lot that he could do with these rooms. He didn’t know what yet but he was sure that he would be able to come up with something for his husband. Thus, he smiled to himself, feeling that it really had been the bright idea to not go and live with Elder Bi. Otherwise, they definitely wouldn’t have this much room to plan with.
Zhu Hong gave a satisfied smile when he saw his husband’s expression and felt that he had really made the right call when he went to show him the house. “I think that we agreed that you could do whatever you wanted with the house, right? So you can decorate it, re-purpose any of the rooms, whatever you want to.
“If there’s something that you can’t do on your own and need help for, you can always tell me as well. I’ll make it possible for you.” He leaned down and kissed Zhen Zhu’s temple, satisfied with how everything had worked out. “In the future, we will probably also have a few children running around here.” Just thinking about it, his lips curved up in another smile.
He hadn’t thought much about getting married or having children before. But now that Zhen Zhu was at his side, he slowly started to see things differently. Living together was quite comfortable. Having children probably also wouldn’t be bad. Although … it would probably take quite a bit of time until then. Right now, Zhen Zhu hadn’t even reached the full-size in his phoenix form, and there were a lot of things that he still didn’t know because it wasn’t contained in his clan’s memory. He should give him a bit of time to get used to these things, and then they could revisit the question of children.
Zhen Zhu couldn’t help but be intrigued though. Since he had realized today that neither Zhu Hong’s nor his own parents were alive, the question of having a family wasn’t that far off. “Do you want a lot of children?” The memories of his clan didn’t say much in that regard. He remembered phoenixes that had only had a single child with their spouse, as well as those who had a nest full of eggs at a single time. He couldn’t make sense of it at all.
Zhu Hong paused, not sure how to answer. “To be honest, I don’t think I have much of a preference. I think — maybe because of how I grew up without my parents — I have been somebody who doesn’t plan that far ahead. I just like to take things in stride as they come. Even getting married was something that I pushed off for quite some time.”
Zhen Zhu’s expression fell immediately and he lowered his head, the expression in his eyes hidden. “You didn’t want to get married?”
Zhu Hong jolted. That was something he shouldn’t have said out loud. But he couldn’t help but feel comfortable with Zhen Zhu so this thought of his had just slipped out. He cleared his throat and pulled the little phoenix back into his arms. “It’s not that I didn’t want to marry at all.” He hesitated for a moment, gently brushing through Zhen Zhu’s hair while he thought back. “I guess I was worried. I … I wanted to be ready when it happened.
“A lot of dragons marry young because that is what is expected of us. But I know how it is to live without family and I also know that it is especially young dragons that die outside on the missions because they lack experience. So before I got married, I wanted to make up for what I was lacking.
“There will never be a guarantee that one will survive. I know my father was strong and still died and the same could happen to me one day. But I just wanted to keep the risk as low as possible so as to make sure my spouse could trust me. That is why I waited several more years before I made my way up the mountain. Don’t think I wouldn’t have wanted you.” He brushed Zhen Zhu’s cheek and then tilted his head up. Unfortunately, despite his explanations, his little phoenix still looked hurt.
Zhu Hong sighed. That really was something he should have kept to himself. In the future, he needed to be more guarded. Otherwise, if he let slip what was supposed to stay a secret …
His gaze turned a little empty. Zhen Zhu had already been shocked to hear that he hadn’t wanted to marry early. He would never be able to take it if he knew that his husband didn’t feel for him as he should. That was something he couldn’t do to him.
Zhu Hong hugged him more tightly and leaned down to kiss his temple. “No matter what, I married you because I am ready now. As for children, I am looking forward to having them no matter how many it’ll be but I also think that the two of us are still quite young. So why not enjoy just living with the two of us for a few years? Hm?” He looked at Zhen Zhu inquisitively, hoping to finally make him cheer up again.
Zhen Zhu’s mood still seemed tangled for a moment but when he looked up into his husband’s eyes, his gaze slowly softened. “It’s alright. Anyway, what about the rest of the house?”
Zhu Hong almost heaved a sigh of relief when the little one calmed down but held back at the last moment. Then, he just continued to show him the other rooms in the house, hoping that planning what to do with every one of them would distract him from what had just happened.
When they reached the last room and Zhen Zhu stood in the same spot for a long time, as if he couldn’t come up with any ideas, Zhu Hong rubbed his head. “There’s still a lot of time to think about these things. For now, let’s go eat. Then we can think about what to do with the rest of the evening.”
Zhen Zhu was pulled out of his thoughts and turned back. Since Zhu Hong had already suggested it, he followed along, the thoughts from before seemingly all but forgotten.
The atmosphere between them was harmonious and quite familiar as if they had already been married for a long time instead of just two days. Maybe this was because of how reliant the phoenix race was on the dragon race. After a couple got married, maybe they would just be like this if they were truly compatible with each other. In the case of Zhu Hong, while he might not have felt the connection that the others did, he was still treating Zhen Zhu as his spouse and quite happy with how things had turned out. Thus, there probably wasn’t that much of a difference from the others.
Soon enough, the two of them finished eating and the question of what to do with their time was once again in front of them. Zhen Zhu looked at Zhu Hong, clearly waiting for him to come up with something.
The dragon rubbed his neck, wondering just what he should propose. He hadn’t really thought about this beforehand and he also didn’t know what kind of thing it was that the phoenixes liked to do. It would also be difficult to ask Zhen Zhu since he probably wouldn’t know. In any case, he was his own person. They’d have to slowly figure it out.