RSH Stratagem 45: Move Your Beloved’s Heart (2)

The faint sound of the huqin blended with the tinkling of the water passing by them. The melody was slow, almost sorrowful. It wasn’t what Jing He had expected but after listening for a few moments, he couldn’t help but feel that it was fitting.

In his long life, what hadn’t the dragon king seen? The loss of his own family, the years of wandering alone outside in the wilderness, the war with the demon race … all of that had turned him into the man he was today. What was a little sadness after living such a life? In a sense, this tune might be brighter than it should be.

Jing He’s eyelids lowered and his heart seemed to flutter. He couldn’t compare with the wealth of experience Qiu Ling had. His life was short, not just in comparison to the dragon king but even just looking at his lifespan as a trueborn god. He had barely come of age. The few things he had gone through … they seemed like nothing when putting them next to the man beside him.

He couldn’t help but reach out, his fingers lightly touching Qiu Ling’s sleeve. He wanted to say something but also didn’t want to interrupt his play.

Qiu Ling opened his eyes and turned to look at him, his movement not stopping. The melody slightly changed though. Looking at his beloved, there was simply no way to continue playing something so depressing. No, looking at him, the tune of the huqin turned sweeter bit by bit.

Jing He raised his gaze to Qiu Ling’s face, his cheeks flushing red. He shouldn’t have reached out. But then, he was also happy that he had. He did understand the change in the music, after all.

He lowered his head again, suddenly realizing more so than before what Qiu Ling had meant when he told him to give him a sign. Yes, to love somebody and not receive the smallest hints as to how they felt … it was a certain way of torture, was it not? On the other hand, if you were given some clue — and be it just as small as the change in the tune the other played when looking at you — it could fill your heart with sweetness and bring you hope for the future.

All these years, from the moment they had met, Qiu Ling had always given him that. He had told him that he loved him and that he wanted to marry him, he had addressed his father and mother as his father- and mother-in-law despite the protest, he had given him gifts and spent time with him, reassuring him again and again that he was the person he wanted to spend his life with. Compared to that, what had he done?

Jing He’s brows slightly furrowed. Sometimes, he would indulge in his flights of fancy while with the dragon king. He would allow him to hug him or kiss him but he usually did it in a way that was left ambiguous. Being unwell, being drunk, or simply giving in for a few moments before chastising him … it was a wonder Qiu Ling had been able to hold on for so long.

Jing He raised his head again, wondering what he should do in the future. He didn’t want Qiu Ling to lose hope. Even though he still doubted that they could ever be together with his father’s insistence that this man wasn’t right for him, he wanted to at least hope for such a future. If Qiu Ling were to ever give up though, that hope would be dashed. After all, he alone could never keep it up.

Then, how to encourage … the suitor he shouldn’t have?

Jing He looked into those dark eyes with the specks of red in them and found himself lost in thought. How to show one’s feelings without being too obvious? He didn’t know. He had never thought about it and, to be honest, he didn’t know much about … romance.

And how would he? He didn’t have many contacts in his day-to-day life. The few that he had … they really weren’t good role models in this regard.

For one, there was Mu Kun and Huang Lan who clearly weren’t in a relationship or they wouldn’t work as much. With the other guards that took over every now and then, he wasn’t as close. His uncle … he might have been married once on a trial but he had only talked about her once and otherwise never brought her up.

The best example he had might be his parents but their relationship was … odd to say the least. It couldn’t compare to the one he had with Qiu Ling at all. Just look at how his mother criticized his father every day! If it was him and Qiu Ling … but then, what would there be to criticize about him? He couldn’t see a single point.

Either way, none of these people could give him ideas as to how to make his feelings clear without going overboard. The best advice in terms of romance he could get was likely from a book.

His thoughts couldn’t help but travel to the collection of poems that were supposed to have been written by Tian himself. Qiu Ling had once read one of them to him out loud and then they had talked about the story behind the collection. At that time, Qiu Ling had said ‘I’m afraid I can’t compare in that regard. I have never in my life written a poem for somebody. I’m afraid I wouldn’t be good at it either. Although I should probably try to some time.’

To be honest, he doubted that Qiu Ling wouldn’t excel at that as well. In his eyes, there really wasn’t anything that the dragon king couldn’t do. But since Qiu Ling still hadn’t tried … maybe he should?

He tried to imagine the kind of poem he would write for him. Surely, it couldn’t be explicit or he’d seem cheap. Any comments on the dragon king’s handsome appearance were out of the question. He could probably reference his behavior and how it made him feel though? Maybe mention the sense of security he gave him? The longing in his heart might be something he’d have to bury though.

The longer Jing He thought about it, the more tangled his thoughts became. A love poem … still seemed too straightforward. No, he should think about this more before he made any decisions. It’d be best if he thought about it while not looking into those eyes as well.

Somehow, whenever he saw them, his thoughts seemed to become a little more daring as if the dragon king’s courage was seeping out from his gaze and wrapping him up, lending him some strength. Of course, he knew that this was nonsense. At the end of the day, wasn’t this simply him indulging his own desires?

Yes, he wanted to be with this man. He wanted to bind him to his side for the rest of eternity. He knew that as long as he showed some of his feelings, he might be able to. The stronger his display of affection, the more likely he would get to see the result he wanted to see. So of course, somebody like him would want to do such a shameless thing to keep the dragon king’s undivided attention.

Thankfully, he was aware of that so he could rein himself in and make sure he didn’t go overboard. After all, the actual consequences … he couldn’t bear them.

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