Qiu Ling was surprised at Jing He’s thoughtful expression. He didn’t think that he had said something that surprising or thought-provoking. So seeing him like this, he finally couldn’t help but lean closer until their cheeks almost touched. “Care to tell me what you’re thinking about?”
Jing He’s face flushed scarlet, embarrassed that he had been caught in that kind of daydream. He hastily turned his face away and raised the cup with wine that was almost empty again, mumbling an excuse. “Ah, it is nothing. It must be the wine that made me space out for a moment.”
Qiu Ling gave a hum and picked up the flask that was standing on his other side, observing it curiously. “I didn’t think it was strong but since it is the first time you’re drinking, maybe it really can have that kind of effect. I sure wonder what would happen if I were to pour you another cup.”
Jing He looked at him, of half a mind to tell him that maybe it wouldn’t be a problem to drink some more. In fact, he hardly felt the effect of the liquor. He might not be a dragon and only a young god, but at the end of the day, he wasn’t that frail. He wouldn’t mind pretending to be though. Not if it pleased Qiu Ling.
For a moment, he was torn between those two options but then, he shook his head. “I presume we won’t have to return too soon. Why not keep it for a while and then have another cup later on? Right now …” He put the cup down on the small table that Qiu Ling had prepared and then leaned closer, touching his forehead. “I’m not sure, I might be feeling a little dizzy.”
Qiu Ling had originally just been teasing Jing He, feeling that he was using the wine as an excuse but seeing him touch his forehead, he felt concerned. He reached over and grabbed him around the waist, pulling them a little closer, his eyes filled with worry. “Are you alright? If you don’t feel well, I could bring you back home.”
Jing He gingerly shook his head and leaned closer toward Qiu Ling, finally putting his head against his shoulder. “No, that would be such a pity. It’s a beautiful day today and you’ve also taken so much pain to prepare everything. I wouldn’t want your effort to go to waste.”
Qiu Ling brushed Jing He’s hair back, looking deep into his eyes. “You know, wasting my effort is nothing compared to your well-being. So be honest with me: Do you need me to bring you back?”
Once again, Jing He faintly shook his head. Inwardly, he couldn’t help but feel guilty for putting on this kind of act. He wasn’t drunk. He just wanted an excuse to get closer to Qiu Ling without seeming shameless. “No, just let me rest a bit. I’m sure I will feel better in a moment.”
Qiu Ling was still worried but, to be honest, he also didn’t want to give up this day outside. He thought for a moment and then just held Jing He in his arms, ruffling through his spatial ring for a moment and then pulling out a couple of pillows and putting them down on the blanket. “You lie down for a moment.” He helped Jing He adjust his posture and then continued to sit next to him, taking his hand.
To be honest, Jing He felt a bit vexed. He had just been happily lying in Qiu Ling’s arms but now, he was on the ground, only holding his hand. He knew he shouldn’t feel this way. This much was already too much considering that they weren’t even officially engaged yet. But no matter what, he couldn’t help himself. He wanted to be close to him. The closer, the better.
He turned onto his side, his fingers curling around Qiu Ling’s in the hope of making him get closer. Unfortunately, who knew what it was but Qiu Ling really seemed to have been shocked into behaving decently for once.
Looking at Jing He, he became more and more anxious. While he didn’t want to bring him back, he also didn’t want him to suffer. Thinking for a bit, he came up with what people usually did to get rid of the aftereffects of alcohol. “Well, drinking some water might help? It isn’t good to drink on an empty stomach either so maybe you didn’t eat enough before?”
Jing He felt lost, not understanding why Qiu Ling was choosing this moment to not break any rules. But then, he couldn’t help but think of last year. He still remembered the worry in Qiu Ling’s eyes. Most likely, he had shocked him too much with how weak he had gotten. So now, when showing the slightest sign of weakness, Qiu Ling couldn’t help but be reminded of that time and became anxious.
He chastised himself, telling himself that he really had had this coming. For putting on such an act, for throwing himself at this man without any regard for his station, he deserved nothing less. It was good that this was happening. Because if not … really, where would this lead?
Not knowing how else to react, he finally gave a faint hum. “I’m not hungry but drinking some water might indeed be refreshing.”
Qiu Ling gave a hum as well and then strained his ears, figuring out that there was actually a stream not too far away. “I’ll be back in just a few moments. You wait for me!”
With that, he had already dashed away, vanishing without a trace.
Jing He’s eyes widened and a sound of surprise escaped his lips. He had no idea what to do. He didn’t know where Qiu Ling had gone, even though he could indeed fathom a guess. Anyway, he felt lost without him.
He turned onto his back and looked up at the sky, watching the clouds pass by. If only life wasn’t so complicated. If only they really were regular people, living somewhere in the countryside, being able to enjoy a day out like this without any additional worries. He’d give a lot for that.
Who cared if he was the Son of Heaven? Who cared whether he was able to live in a palace and dress nicely? No, in life, what was really important was having somebody willing to stand by your side, right?
Back in the day, when it had been Xing who fell in love with a man that had seemingly no status, he also hadn’t minded that, had he? No, he loved him for who he was, the man beneath it all. What high position, what fancy robes? In Xing’s eyes, they had been nothing. Only his heart had counted.
Of course, it was Xing’s good luck that this man had turned out to be the supreme ruler. But it hadn’t made any difference because no matter what, he would have loved him. This status gave them some security but did not change his feelings one bit.
So to him, it also should not make a difference whether Qiu Ling was the dragon king or not. No, he loved this man for who he was, his status notwithstanding. Maybe that was why right now, after hearing a story from when he had been younger, when he hadn’t been in this position yet, he felt much closer to him and wanted to get much closer to him as well.
Yes, right now, the love that he felt for this man seemed to be burning even brighter.