Entering the courtyard, Leng Jin Yu stopped in his tracks. Xiang Yu was crouching next to the shell, half-hugging it with a distraught expression. Seeing him like this, Leng Jin Yu’s heart skipped a beat. Heaven! Please tell him that nothing had happened to their child as well!
He went over with heavy steps, crouching down next to Xiang Yu. “What’s the matter?” His voice quivered slightly but he couldn’t help it. He was afraid of what he’d hear next.
Xiang Yu raised his head and his lips pursed. “I stayed here and protected the shell as you told me. Nobody really came by though so I didn’t do much at all. Then Jinde came back and he’s not doing well. I saw him cry and he wasn’t talking. Qiu Ling’s lover is also … I … I just feel like I did something wrong.”
Leng Jin Yu closed his eyes and almost heaved a sigh of relief. It seemed Xiang Yu was feeling guilty for not having managed to keep all harm away from them, not because anything had happened to their child. That was … well, there was good news hidden somewhere in that.
He took a deep breath and then opened his eyes again, putting on a shallow smile. “It’s alright. You can’t be everywhere at the same time. You … stayed here and protected our child so we could be out there and do what we had to. I’m grateful for that.
“Unfortunately, something happened on the battlefield. We couldn’t have foreseen that. We couldn’t have changed it. Even if you had been there, you might not have been able to help at all. But if you had been there, we would have worried the whole time about what might be going on here and that might have made us slip up in an important moment, causing even more problems. So, this isn’t your fault at all. You did what you could and what we asked you to help us with. Don’t blame yourself.”
Xiang Yu nodded but he didn’t look much happier. “Then what about Jinde? He … he looked so sad.”
Leng Jin Yu nodded. “That is how life is sometimes. He will grieve and … well, he might never get completely over it but he’ll do better someday in the future. Don’t worry.” He reached out and rubbed Xiang Yu’s head before turning to look at the door. “Is he inside?”
Xiang Yu gave a hum, feeling at least a little better after being reassured by Leng Jin Yu. “When everyone returned after the battle, they brought the bodies inside and he followed. I stayed here to guard the shell.”
Leng Jin Yu nodded. “Thank you. I’ll go and see Jinde then now.” He got up again and took a deep breath. He wasn’t sure if he was ready for this. He had only just found out that Jin Ling was Jinde’s biological child and that his husband had lied to him. He understood, yes, but he wasn’t sure if he was able to put all of that aside and just be there for him in the way he should. Not to mention that he was also worried about Qiu Ling. This situation … there was simply so much going on at once.
He finally went over to the door, only hesitating for another moment before he opened it and quietly slipped inside. No matter what, Jinde was his husband. They loved each other so no matter what happened, they could go through it together. He might not do a perfect job but as long as he was there, maybe it could help Jinde a little.
He spotted him immediately. Jinde hadn’t made it far into the room. He was simply kneeling on the ground, holding onto Jin Ling’s body, not too different from how he had back on the battlefield. Seeing him like this … Leng Jin Yu’s heart squeezed in pain.
He silently went over and knelt down beside him. He didn’t know what to say so he simply reached out and wrapped his arms around him, holding him tightly.
Jinde had been sitting without moving all this time since they brought Jin Ling inside. Feeling his husband’s presence, he finally let go of his child and collapsed against his chest. “My child …” He hadn’t cried before but feeling Leng Jin Yu’s warmth, the tears suddenly spilled over and ran down his cheeks, his voice turning choked.
“I know.” Leng Jin Yu hugged him more tightly and lowered his head. He didn’t think about any of those other things any longer. Now, only Jinde’s feelings were important. There was no time for anything else. “I’m so sorry.”
Jinde closed his eyes while his fingers wandered up, curling into the fabric of Leng Jin Yu’s robe. “He shouldn’t have been there. He should have been in that guesthouse, still inside that array Xiang Yu made. He … should have been safe.”
Leng Jin Yu nodded. “He should have.”
Most likely, Jin Ling had had bad luck: The array had been temporary and must have had worn out just in time for him to arrive on the battlefield and see Xia Wei and Jinde fighting while Yong Hai was trying to sneak attack Jinde.
Not wanting him to get hurt, he did the only thing he could think of in that split second and inserted himself between the two of them, trying to take the blow in his stead. Unfortunately, it hadn’t been Yong Hai’s blow that was deadly but Xia Wei’s that he hadn’t seen coming. And thus, this tragedy occurred.
Leng Jin Yu reached up and gently combed through Jinde’s hair with his fingers. “You know how much he loved you. If anything had happened to you, he never would have forgiven himself. I think that … as sad as it is, he probably felt happy at that moment that he was able to save you.”
Jinde’s fingers grabbed even tighter onto Leng Jin Yu’s robe. “He shouldn’t have. I … I didn’t deserve his love. I … I was the one who cast him away back then, who refused to give him another chance. I didn’t deserve to be saved by him, especially not at this cost. It … it should have been me.”