An Bai stared at him in a daze. “Court me? As in …” He had a faint guess but he still felt that he must have misunderstood something. There was just no way this could be true.
Under his confused look, Yi Yun nodded though. “Yes, with the goal of marriage in mind.” Seeing An Bai not react much and even show a hint of puzzlement about this, he felt the need to explain more. “I know the dragons are more straightforward than us gods. Maybe Scholar An Bai believes I am too hesitant in asking this. I believe that a well-working marriage should be built on a certain basis though.
“As such, I would like to spend more time with you and figure out whether the two of us have that basis. Of course, courting you is also a way for me to show my appreciation and give you the chance to figure out whether you are interested in this. You don’t need to decide whether to marry or not straight away. Instead, after a time of courtship, that decision can still be made. I hope this would be acceptable.”
An Bai still looked at him in a daze. Of course, he understood what Yi Yun meant. Even though the dragons might be more straightforward in their dealings, it wasn’t like pursuing somebody was a foreign concept to them. After all, not everyone was like their current king and fell in love at first sight. There would naturally be cases where one part of a couple developed feelings first and then did their best to win the other over. That was pretty much what Yi Yun was asking him to do here, right?
The problem was … he really couldn’t see it. The two of them had known each other for a few weeks but they had only ever interacted during the research. Sure, they had spent quite some time together since some tasks could only be done by the two of them personally but they had never even talked about personal matters. He really couldn’t see where his personal charm was so big that he could make this stoic senior official fall in love with him just by reading a book in front of him!
The oddest thing about this was likely that he hadn’t seen any indication of this before either. Even though he wouldn’t call himself knowledgeable in this aspect, he still believed that he would be able to spot some hints if somebody was interested in him. Heaven, even when it concerned Ye Yang, he could see that that demon had somewhat changed his attitude toward him from pure calculation to something else! How come he hadn’t perceived anything when it came to Yi Yun?
An Bai’s thoughts were all over the place for a moment. He didn’t know how any of this had happened and he felt blindsided by it. He called himself to order soon enough though. Actually, what did it matter how Yi Yun had fallen in love or why he hadn’t seen it? The truth of it was … it didn’t matter at all.
Maybe a few months ago, he would have agonized over this. After all, Yi Yun was nice enough. He was a handsome man, his status in the Nine Heavens wasn’t low, and he seemed to be respectful. All in all, he could be considered a good partner. Especially with how the relationship between their two races was at the moment, it would be worth taking into consideration.
But just as he had told Xiang Yong once, he didn’t intend to get married or even enter a relationship. He had always idolized their previous king for his reputation of dedicating his life to ruling the dragon race and privately doing his research into the field of refinement without being derailed by love.
Of course, it had turned out after the fact that this was nonsense and Longjun Jinde had very much been in love and had even had a child but this couldn’t diminish his admiration for such a way of life. It was what he wanted for himself whether or not the previous king had indeed walked that path. And after his talk with Xiang Yong, he didn’t think he had to change that plan for his life either.
An Bai sighed faintly. Even though he didn’t feel that he was wrong, it was still difficult to reject a person who had very politely asked for permission to court you. But then, Yi Yun was somebody who clearly had the necessary respect to accept his answer no matter what it was.
An Bai thought for a moment about how to put his thoughts into words. “I feel even more honored that you regard me highly enough to want to pursue me. Unfortunately, I’m afraid I can’t agree. It is not that I don’t appreciate you and your sentiment but I am simply not looking to get married.”
Yi Yun inclined his head. “If this is the case, then I will naturally not put you in a difficult spot. May I ask if this is a temporary decision though?”
An Bai smiled faintly. “It’s not. I simply don’t want to get married in this life. I only want to dedicate my life to my research. I hope senior official Yi Yun can understand.”
“Of course.” Yi Yun didn’t try to argue. He had wanted to see if there was any room for maneuvering in case An Bai simply didn’t feel comfortable with the thought at such a time when his own king had trouble marrying the person he loved but if that wasn’t his reason, then there was no need to pursue this further.
An Bai raised the box in his hands, intending to give it back, but Yi Yun shook his head.
“No, please, keep that. It wasn’t contingent on you agreeing to my courtship but was indeed simply a symbol of my appreciation of your character. Scholar An Bai can rest assured that I won’t see you accepting my gift as having any other implications. I am not an obstinate person. Since you are not interested, I will give up.
“My asking for permission in the first place was so that you can refuse. Without that permission given, I wouldn’t even dream to insist. I hope that Scholar An Bai is assured enough of my character that my asking to pursue you won’t impact our relationship going forward.”
An Bai nodded, not worried at all. To be honest, seeing how lightly Yi Yun took his rejection, he had a faint guess that he hadn’t overlooked any signs before. They simply hadn’t been there. This person … he didn’t love him. He wasn’t sure why he had asked to court him but it was clearly a deliberate decision and not a passionate proposal. That kind of person naturally wouldn’t make trouble for him in the future.