Back in the palace, Jing He and Qiu Ling were alone again. They looked at each other through the curtain and Qiu Ling immediately got up to draw it aside, giving Jing He a smile.
He sat down at his bedside again and naturally reached out to take his hand into his again, his smile brightening. “How was it? Did you enjoy yourself?”
Jing He didn’t even need to think about it. “It was beautiful. Thank you very much.” Not just the music itself and getting another glimpse into how things were in the dragon realm but just Qiu Ling thinking so much on his behalf was naturally enough to make him feel sweet.
Qiu Ling nodded, glad that this idea had been the right after all. He thought for a moment and then, considering that he was supposed to tell him the truth, he figured he should start small.
Looking at his delicate hand, he caressed his skin with his thumb, and then glanced up at Jing He’s face. “I’m afraid I can’t take all the credit for this. Today, I watched the fight of Yu Gan’s wife Shou Quan and then listened to Yu Gan herself play at one of the pavilions as part of the festival. Yu Gan and I spoke for a while and later she met up with her wife. I couldn’t help but notice that they were a bit similar to us so I asked Shou Quan what she would do to make her wife happy.”
Jing He couldn’t help but stare at him. This Yu Gan and her wife were similar to them? They were a married couple, that was the only thing he knew about them for sure. Was his understanding of what Longjun wanted to say right? He didn’t dare to think too much about it but it seemed like another indirect hint that he still had the same intentions for him. Actually, that made his heart settle down. “So, what did she say?”
Qiu Ling gave a hum and continued to play this Jing He’s fingers, not quite sure how to summarize the talk they had had. “Well, she didn’t seem quite sure how to answer at first. But in the end, we arrived at the thought that maybe it would be good to let the person you love enjoy something that they like very much and might not otherwise be able to do if not for your help at that moment. I figured that that was a beautiful sentiment so I asked Yu Gan if she would play for you.”
Qiu Ling might be telling him the whole truth right now, but in Jing He’s mind, this man next to him was perfect. How could he attribute all of this to another person? In his mind, clearly, while Qiu Ling might have asked the question, just being able to pick out the right person to ask, and then leading them with questions made this into something that he had almost come up with by himself. Love really was such a beautiful thing where even if the other person did nothing, you could still feel sweet because they had intentions.
Qiu Ling finally stilled his hands, just holding onto Jing He. “Remember that day when you played for me? It was something that I enjoyed very much and I figured that it would be nice to give you an experience like that as well.” At that point, he slightly furrowed his brows and tilted his head before he looked at Jing He again. “Also, do you remember how, on that day, you asked me if I played an instrument as well and I said yes very straightforwardly?”
Jing He nodded, his mind very clear on that. That day, his father had surprised them and Longjun had pulled over the instrument as if he had been the one playing instead of him.
At that time, he had already been become weaker because of his constantly troubled mind. There had been a moment there when they got closer than they ever had before. Although, it was difficult to keep the score with Longjun. There had been so many intimate moments between them … he could hardly count them anymore.
Qiu Ling could see from his expression that Jing He was very well aware of which day he was talking about. He cleared his throat and then leaned a little closer, his lips curving up in a beautiful smile. “That was an outrageous lie. I can’t play a single instrument.”
Jing He looked at him, and for a moment, his mind was unable to keep up. He had just been reminiscing about that embrace they shared that day, and now he was suddenly pulled out of his thoughts and confronted with such a truth. He really didn’t know what to think.
Qiu Ling’s expression turned a little wry when Jing He didn’t react and he reached out, his fingertips brushing over his chin. “Please, don’t think badly of me. The day, I wanted to impress you. So I pretended that I knew and figured that I could just make up for it.
“Well, I tried but I’m not too good at it. I would’ve played for you myself if I was but as things stand, I would have embarrassed myself and you wouldn’t have gotten the enjoyment I wanted you to. So this was also one of the reasons why I asked Yu Gan instead.
“I hope you’re not angry with me. I promise that, usually, I’m honest with you. At that moment, I just felt …” He tilted his head in the other direction, not sure how to explain it. “You know, when I look at you, I can’t find anything that I dislike about you. I am madly in love. I always have been since the first time I saw you. And I can’t help but want you to see me the same way. Admitting that there is something that I can’t do or don’t know in front of you is … more difficult than I care to admit.”
While Qiu Ling had explained, Jing He had finally managed to understand what was going on. He already wanted to reassure him but Qiu Ling was speaking further and further, making him feel that it would be impolite to interrupt so he listened on, his heart feeling sweet at this renewed confession.
When they finally reached this point, Jing He gently squeezed the dragon king’s hand. “You do not need to worry.” In my eyes, you already are perfect. He would’ve loved to say that but as usual, he didn’t dare to. “I know that we are different in many ways. We aren’t of the same race and we have different interests, but that isn’t bad. I believe that … as long as two hearts are beating as one, what does the outside matter?”
Qiu Ling stared at him, realizing that what Jing He had said just now could very much be taken as a confession of his feelings. If two hearts were beating as one … Was that the case with them? When saying it at this moment, it sure seemed that way.
Once again, Qiu Ling thought of leaning in and kissing him. He wanted to assure him that he understood, to tell him that he was there, that he would always be there, and make this more official than it had been before. And yet, Jing He was still sick. He couldn’t go too far. Not right now, not yet. He still needed to take his time with these things.
In the end, Qiu Ling just took his hand and raised it up, pressing a kiss onto it. “What you said just now, keep it in mind. When you’re doing better, we’ll get back to it. I promise you.”
The look he gave him made Jing He spellbound once again and for a long while, they could do nothing but look into each other’s eyes, thinking of the future that was to come. Because surely, they both understood by now that this future could only be spent together and never apart.