Jing He couldn’t help but tense. Tian’s curse was a serious matter. Even though he had wondered about it, he had never dared to ask about it. Yes, there definitely were people among each of the races who were roughly aware of the situation the others were in but usually, everyone kept to themselves in that regard. The curse was a weakness, after all. So being too interested in it wouldn’t be right.
Even though he might not ask, this time, Qiu Ling was willing to talk about it of his own volition. Naturally, he wouldn’t reject the opportunity. After all, if he really married this man, then he should know about the limits that the curse had put on him. Who knew if it wouldn’t be important later on?
Qiu Ling saw Jing He’s solemn expression and felt that this should be the right decision. Yes, there was a certain risk but there was also the opportunity of deepening the understanding between them and putting Jing He at ease.
He continued to hold his hand and gave himself a moment to seriously consider his wording. “I am not as familiar as you are with the backstory of the curse. Thus, I can’t tell you in detail what led to this. But for us, what the curse affected were our emotions. More precisely, it is the way we love.”
Jing He’s eyes widened slightly and his heart started to race. The way they loved? Immediately, he started to doubt what this would mean for their relationship. He had never felt that there was anything different about Qiu Ling’s feelings other than maybe the way he expressed them. But then, he had always thought that to be a cultural matter that was rooted in the differences between their people. Could it be that the curse was the actual cause of this? But no, that seemed too light to be a result of the supreme ruler’s curse.
The change in Jing He’s expression was subtle but Qiu Ling still noticed how he tensed. His gaze softened, almost having expected this to happen. He naturally wouldn’t waste time if Jing He was starting to get anxious so he hurriedly continued to explain. “The curse limits us in regard to falling in love. For us, for our whole lives, there is only one person we will fall for, never to be replaced.”
He reached out his other hand as well, gently holding Jing He’s. “As a result, our partners are incredibly important to us. Maybe more so than it would be the case among the gods.” His lips twitched when he said so, thinking how Jing He had dared to mutilate his own soul to ensure that he would not stray while on his trial. Honestly, maybe he wasn’t allowed to judge whether the gods were more or less serious about their partners.
He cleared his throat, suddenly feeling awkward, and then just used the opportunity to push his chair closer to Jing He’s side, holding his hand tightly. “When I fell in love with you back then, I knew it was forever. That was why — even though you didn’t seem to requite my feelings for a long time — I never gave up. It is either you or no one.”
Jing He’s heart which had just been in a state of panic at the possibilities of what the curse could be calmed down immediately when he heard these words. The way Qiu Ling was looking at him right now did its part in making him feel that he was really worrying too much.
Yes, why had he expected any bad news? In these ten years, when had Qiu Ling disappointed him? His pursuit had always been steadfast as if nothing could change his mind. Now, it seemed that the curse was part of the reason behind that.
Qiu Ling watched Jing He’s expression return to the previous calm. With a smile, he gently dropped a kiss on the back of his hand, his eyes intent when looking up again. “Well, even if there was no curse, I doubt I could fall in love with anyone else. For me, in all these years, there was never anyone my heart could beat faster for until you appeared in front of me for the first time.”
He really would have liked to swoop Jing He into his arms at this point but with how there was little time left of the day and since he originally wanted to bring up something else, he finally held back. Instead, he sighed. “This curse, usually, it’s not a problem. Unfortunately, there are some … side effects.”
Jing He tilted his head. “Side effects?” He couldn’t say he was too surprised. Tian’s curse had never been simple. Just look at all the restrictions that had been placed on the trials: The age you had to take them by, the number of trials that should be passed, the punishments if you couldn’t … all of this was part of the curse. How could it be as simple as disallowing the dragons to fall in love for a second time?
Qiu Ling nodded. “Yes. With the choice of a partner comes the urge to … bind our souls to them.” He looked at Jing He, suddenly feeling a guilty conscience. Yes, as long as the one you loved had let down their guard enough, you could bind your soul to theirs without them knowing. Courtesy would require you to ask for their approval though.
In his case, he hadn’t done so. No, he had determined that he wanted to do it and had gone ahead without asking. He hadn’t even mentioned the matter to Jing He. This … likely wasn’t right but the urge had been there and not even for the first time. He finally hadn’t been able to hold back.
Qiu Ling lowered his gaze to Jing He’s hand that he was still holding and smiled wryly. “You probably didn’t notice but my soul was already bound to yours before you left for your trial.”