The person An Bai and Xiang Yong were discussing was still at his beloved’s palace at this point in time, discussing the matter of the half-bloods to prepare his beloved for when the truth about him eventually came out.
Holding Jing He in his arms, Qiu Ling sighed deeply. “I’m afraid ‘tough’ doesn’t even begin to describe it because there are so many things coming together. Growing up as a dragon, there are a few expectations you’ll have: You will slowly discover your magical abilities, feeling drawn to the sea and the mountains. You will one day be able to take on your dragon form for the first time and slowly master it until the day you come of age. You will fall in love so deeply that your soul will urge you to completely bind yourself to that person.”
He lowered his head, his brows furrowing as he thought back to his own childhood. “Each of these moments is a proud accomplishment. Every dragon will look forward to them. But if you are a half-blood … the moments you expected might never come. Even worse, them not happening and something else occurring instead might be the reason they realized their mixed blood.”
Qiu Ling looked up at Jing He, his gaze even more solemn than before. “Suddenly, you realize that even though you can manipulate the air and water, the same is true for the earth and fire. Or maybe you never managed to master one of the elemental abilities. When you realize that you are of mixed blood, it all starts to make sense. But that seldom means happiness, especially when you find out that the other part of your blood stems from the demon realm.”
Jing He listened quietly. Hearing Qiu Ling say the latter part though and thinking of what he had said before, he felt that he understood. “There is a lot of stigma surrounding the demon race so they would inevitably have negative feelings toward this discovery. They might also not dare to speak about it with others for fear of rejection.”
Qiu Ling’s expression softened. It seemed that even though Jing He hadn’t had much to do with the half-bloods so far, he understood fast. Maybe when he found out, he truly wouldn’t mind. “You are right. I …” He paused and finally shook his head. “I can’t tell you how afraid it can make a person to suddenly discover this.
“Being born and raised that way is one thing, I’d imagine. You always know and you have time to prepare yourself for what might happen. But if you aren’t aware until the evidence is suddenly sprung on you … your whole world comes crumbling down. The despair, the fear … it will completely change your life.”
Jing He nodded. “I can only begin to imagine but either way, I believe it is good that you are working on this. They should appreciate it.”
Qiu Ling nodded. They did. He knew that they did. He also knew that he would have appreciated it very much if somebody had done these things when he was young so he would have known it was alright to be this way. In fact … “I regret not having done this earlier but … I was afraid.”
Jing He looked at him in surprise. “Afraid?” He was currently sitting on Qiu Ling’s lap, his hands resting on his shoulders. Looking at this man who had always seemed so strong and dependable to him, he couldn’t quite reconcile the notion of ‘fear’ with this image.
Qiu Ling nodded though as if there was no hesitation whatsoever. “Things have always been a certain way in the dragon realm or … maybe even in all of the immortal realms. I became king … in an unconventional way. I felt that I didn’t deserve the throne for the longest time. Even though I was the one who turned the tide of battle and restored peace to the dragon realm, I never … felt that I should be the one making the decisions.
“All those years, I did my best to reign but if somebody I deemed better had come along, I would have happily vacated the seat. At the same time, I didn’t dare to be too outgoing. I did what I had to but I didn’t dare to think further. I was … rather conservative in my approach, not trying to better the realm where I certainly could have. The situation of the half-bloods is just one of many.”
He looked up at Jing He, feeling more peaceful at heart now that he was able to tell him at least some of those inner thoughts that he had always kept hidden. In the future, they would be husbands. Even now, they were lovers. Of course, he should be able to share this. Now that he finally could … the feeling really wasn’t bad.
Qiu Ling gave a hum and leaned in, hugging Jing He more tightly. “It’s all thanks to you. Meeting you, pursuing you, following you on your trial … it opened my eyes to many things. Without you, I wouldn’t be able to do this even now.”
Jing He wasn’t sure what to do. With Qiu Ling leaning in, his thoughts were suddenly all over the place. Those strands of black hair brushed over his hands and his fingers couldn’t help but curl into the fabric of his robe. He felt his breath against his neck and his cheeks flushed bright red. He knew they were talking about something serious but he couldn’t help his reaction at Qiu Ling’s proximity.
When he didn’t get a response, Qiu Ling raised his head. Seeing Jing He’s expression, his lips parted. He had been honest just now. It hadn’t just been an attempt to coax Jing He. But apparently, the effect was still the same. Seeing this, his own thoughts also couldn’t help but scatter. He hesitated for a moment and finally leaned closer again, his lips touching Jing He’s.