Jing He took a shaky breath. Qiu Ling was always like this and yet, even after six years, he hadn’t gotten used to all his compliments and still felt surprised when it happened. Not to mention that this one had even followed such an intimate touch.
He lowered his head, not sure what to think. Actually, grabbing his hair didn’t seem as outrageous as some other things if he thought about it calmly but it had felt different.
For a moment, he couldn’t make sense of it. But then, he remembered how Qiu Ling had once told him about how in the dragon realm, beauty was to a large degree measured in the combination of colors. Thus, one’s hair played a big part in how beautiful somebody was judged to be.
At that time, he had thought that Qiu Ling had to be seen as very desirable among his people with his black hair and eyes. He had failed to notice something else though: The same went for him.
Among the gods, dark hair and dark eyes were normal. At most, there would be a difference of a few shades. His own hair was black and his eyes were of a dark brown color. Unless you looked at them in direct light, they would sure seem black. He had never thought much about that because it hardly differed from the other gods but yes, for the dragons, this combination wasn’t bad. Maybe it couldn’t be considered a perfect match but it should be good enough.
Thinking about it in this way, a large part of his appeal to the dragon king should be tied to his hair. So if the other person suddenly touched it outright, it naturally meant something special. Especially with how forthright the dragon race was, maybe holding his hand or stealing those kisses actually had less meaning to the dragon king than touching his hair.
Jing He was completely distracted by this thought. Actually, come to think of it, this wasn’t the first time Qiu Ling had touched his hair. He would sometimes take the initiative to brush it back and he had asked in the past to help him style it.
Usually, he would be especially gentle when doing so. Jing He had always believed that this was due to Qiu Ling’s strength. Maybe the dragon king was afraid to hurt him if he didn’t restrain himself. But now, he wondered if those slight touches had actually been … loving caresses instead?
Qiu Ling watched his beloved’s expression which was rather odd at this moment. He didn’t think he had done anything outrageous this time even if touching his hair like that had been somewhat awkward. At the very least, the words following had been rather tame, no?
He consoled himself and then tried to pull Jing He’s thoughts back. “So … what happened after that? Surely, just putting on a nice robe wouldn’t have been it.”
Jing He was indeed pulled out of his thought. He glanced at Qiu Ling and hastily nodded. “Naturally. After wearing the robe, I went to my father’s palace. Usually, the ceremony will be held at home but in my family, the situation is a bit special. There are three palaces, after all.”
Qiu Ling gave a hum. He was aware of that. Although, in fact, he was a bit surprised at this constellation, especially now that it seemed that this had been the case even before Jing He came of age. After realizing this, he couldn’t help but clarify. “You didn’t live with either of your parents before coming of age?”
Jing He hesitated. “I … well, I did, originally. It is just that I moved into my own palace rather early. You know I don’t like having too many people around.”
Qiu Ling gave a hum but it still felt odd to him. The Heavenly Emperor and Heavenly Empress both doted on this child of theirs. If Jing He simply disliked having too many servants or guards around, they would be sure to prepare a room for him where he wouldn’t be disturbed and maybe even reduce the number of people working around them. Why allow your child to move out instead?
Qiu Ling started to have several questions about this living situation of the Heavenly family but he didn’t ask a single one. Jing He had seemed hesitant to bring up even this much. Clearly, he didn’t want to talk about it. So, this doubt was better shelved for later.
He wanted to know more about Jing He’s life before meeting him. If he forced the issue on matters Jing He was unwilling to talk about, Jing He would only become hesitant to bring up anything new. He didn’t want that to happen so he’d rather listen to what Jing He was ready to share. Later … later, he could still give asking another try.
Jing He calmed down when Qiu Ling didn’t persist on this line of questioning and hastily continued recounting the events of his coming-of-age ceremony. “Either way, because of this situation, my father’s palace was chosen as the venue for the ceremony.
“Usually, one is accompanied throughout by a family member that presides over everything. In my case, this was my uncle. So he came to my palace and then accompanied me over. When we arrived, a lot of people had gathered in the square in front. I was a bit worried at that time but I guess seeing my uncle next to me, nobody dared to make trouble.”
Qiu Ling nodded solemnly. He knew that, at the end of the day, Jing He was a trueborn god. If he was attacked, while his body might not even be half as tough as that of a dragon, his magical abilities shouldn’t be low. He’d be able to defend himself. And yet, he couldn’t help but worry.
Fighting against someone also relied on experience and the ability to spot the attacker and their nefarious intentions. He didn’t think Jing He had that. So, it was good that the God of War was part of his family and would be there on such occasions. It did make him feel once again that he had come into Jing He’s life too late though. As his future husband, he should be there to protect him at all times. Having to rely on others to do so felt odd.
Jing He had no idea that Qiu Ling’s thoughts had run crooked again. He thought back and heaved a sigh of relief. “Being escorted by my uncle, we made it into the palace without accident. For this ceremony, there will usually only be the person’s family present and mine isn’t big. So in that large throne room, there was only me, my parents, and my uncle. It seemed a bit … oversized.”
Qiu Ling smiled. “I guess being part of the Heavenly family comes with that kind of grandeur.
Jing He nodded. “It does. I …” He glanced at Qiu Ling before hastily retracting his gaze. “To be honest, I don’t like it too much.” Yes, that day, he had faintly thought that it would be better to be part of a normal family.
If he was, there would be no debate over where to hold the ceremony and there wouldn’t be so many people outside, trying to get a glimpse at him. Maybe instead, there would be many loving family members inside and the whole ceremony would have a cozy atmosphere instead of this feeling of trying to escape doom.
But all of that was only a flight of fancy. He was born to the Heavenly couple and he could not escape what that meant. Even now that the danger was over, it wasn’t like this was over. No, one day in the future …
He turned to look at Qiu Ling and his gaze dimmed. If he were to get married to this man in the future through some kind of miracle, the issues of his family would follow him. Could he really burden the man he loved with that? Maybe … it would be better to refuse. Yes, the true proof of his love for this man might be not to insist to stay at his side but to let him be with somebody else, somebody less … complicated instead.