Even though Jing He was reluctant, it wasn’t like he could really change the current situation. Thus, he focused on the weiqi board in front of him for the duration of one game. Anyway, he had taken Huang Lan along but left Mu Kun in front of the door to his palace, and adviser Yi Zan and Qiang Wei were still in front of the door to the garden as well. When Qiu Ling came, he would be informed of where he had gone immediately.
His father used the opportunity to try and talk to him but he wasn’t sure what to say. Just as his brother-in-law had feared, he had thought about using the opportunity to staunchly warn Jing He about Qiu Ling again, exposing all his bad deeds from the duration of the trial. In the end, he didn’t go through with it though.
Naturally, this wasn’t a sign of him warming up to Qiu Ling. No, he simply pitied his poor son. His beloved child had grown up to be so wonderful but somehow attracted a scumbag. Now, even though Jing He was such a sensible person who wouldn’t just willy-nilly fall in love with a man just because the one in question was perking himself up, he couldn’t get rid of him no matter what he did.
If he knew that the person that was always lingering around him and saying sappy love confessions had treated him like this, wouldn’t he lose all hope in regard to his future love life? After all, he might think all men were like this.
No, he couldn’t allow that! When he finally found a suitable candidate for Jing He’s spouse, his son needed to be open to the possibility. So, even though he would love to tell Jing He all about the dragon king’s heinous behavior during his trial, he didn’t bring it up.
In the end, Rong Su instead started reminiscing about what seemed like the long-forgotten past for him when his son would still regularly accompany him in his palace, making the duty of being the Heavenly Emperor much more bearable just by being there whenever he had the chance to take a break from the incessant whining of the people who came to have their problems solved.
Jing He quietly listened and nodded where appropriate, sometimes injecting a sentence or two to agree with his father, promising to do better. He naturally noticed the subtle digs at Qiu Ling that his father managed to throw in every now and then but he tried to ignore them. Anyway, it wasn’t like his father had ever been different. No, since the evening he first met Qiu Ling, he had always been like this.
Over time, Jing He lowered his head, his gaze not leaving the weiqi board while his hair fell over his shoulder and shrouded his face in shadows. His father hated the man he loved. He had always known but … he had thought it would become better with time. Before his trial, he had even convinced himself that his father would accept it when he brought up that he wanted to marry Qiu Ling.
He thought back to that day, feeling complicated. He had spent that whole day with his father, wondering all the time how to bring it up. His father had been beaming, clearly happy that he was there. By the time afternoon rolled around, Jing He had finally decided that he couldn’t wait any longer. He had promised Qiu Ling the day before that he would ask his father himself and he knew Qiu Ling would return the next day to inquire how that conversation had gone. There was no way not to bring it up.
But just when he started to talk about his future, his father sighed deeply and took his hands with a look of worry. The topic of the engagement had to be dropped and he was told about his trial instead, finally having to leave without accomplishing anything.
Now, the trial was over, his father still did not know of his intentions to marry Qiu Ling and … the latter hadn’t appeared yet so he didn’t dare to bring it up. Otherwise, maybe today would have been a good day.
He tilted his head as if thinking about his next move on the weiqi board but instead, he tried to imagine the kind of conversation he would have with his father: He’d say that with the trial, he could be considered to be ready for his adult life in a way only his coming of age ceremony couldn’t have provided. That seemed like a good way to start the conversation without being too direct.
At this, his father would probably start to look teary-eyed, babbling on about how his precious child had grown up. Jing He knew he’d feel uncomfortable at that point but finally, he would still say that he had thought about it since returning from his trial and felt that he should get married.
The look on his father’s face could be well-imagined: Shock, denial, maybe a hint of anger or reproach. Of course, the latter wouldn’t be directed toward him. No, he would be hit with the worry and pity and he would get his father’s usual spiel about being led astray.
Maybe at that point, he would falter, unable to go on about his wish to marry the man he loved. Or maybe thinking of Qiu Ling would give him the strength to at least tell his father who he intended to marry. He didn’t think it would go over well but at least it would be out in the open, not like right now, where he was spending hours with his father, listening to him badmouth that man and yet couldn’t say a word against it because he had pretended for so long.
In the end, the father and son finished the game of weiqi and Jing He excused himself, saying that he was tired after the trial and wanted to go back to rest. Even though the Heavenly Emperor was worried and also a little disappointed, he still had Huang Lan send him back without much of a fuss.
When Jing He reached his palace, he went straight inside but there still wasn’t any sign of the figure he had hoped to see. He went to the garden with the excuse of watering his flowers but Yi Zan and Qiang Wei simply greeted him, not mentioning Qiu Ling at all. Finally, Jing He could only go inside and continue to wait. It was a pity … the person did not come, neither that day nor the following. In fact, for a whole week, Jing He heard no news of him.