Jing He nodded, a subtle feeling permeating his heart. Obviously, Qiu Ling was speaking about the two of them. Neither of them might acknowledge it out loud at this moment but that was what they were both thinking, he had made that much obvious.
Qiu Ling kept quiet for a moment before his gaze turned inquisitive. “Have you thought about it? Your wedding day, I mean.”
Jing He requited his gaze and his heart suddenly seemed to calm down. He had always been worried about the future, about whether there would ever be a wedding day or if there could be one with the man he loved. But now, what Qiu Ling was asking him was just whether he had considered it in general. And to be honest … he had.
He lowered his head but there was a faint smile on his lips. “When I was younger, I indeed thought about it.”
Qiu Ling tilted his head. “That sounds as if you stopped.”
Jing He hesitated but finally nodded. “I assume I did. There are just some things … you can easily consider them while young because they hold no special meaning at that time. They are far off in the future, hardly even real. Of course, you can imagine whatever you want.”
Qiu Ling gave a hum. “You’re not wrong. I guess I was like that as well.” Although, frankly, he had never pondered his wedding specifically. Instead, what he had longed for was a family of his own again.
Finding a spouse, having children of his own … maybe even integrating into the family of the one he loved. He had wanted all of that even though he was well aware that it might be best not to. Whether it was for himself or for his other half, he hadn’t thought it could end well. Thus, the longer he lived and especially after he inherited the title of Longjun, the less he thought about it until he finally stopped completely one day.
But then, he had met Jing He and that wish had been reignited even more fiercely than before. He hadn’t thought too much about the downfalls this might bring. Instead, he kept reminding himself that Jing He wasn’t of the dragon race. If it was with him, this could indeed work. He could get his wish. And even if a big family was out of the question and his father-in-law hated him, he’d at least have the person he loved at his side. To him who had lost all family and didn’t dare to form any close bonds in the dragon realm, that was more than enough.
For a moment, he felt melancholic but he pulled himself out of the low mood immediately and instead smiled at Jing He. “When you thought about your wedding at that time, what was it like?”
Jing He raised his gaze to Qiu Ling’s face again. Right now, they were striking a delicate balance of what could be said and what couldn’t according to the customs of his people. This hadn’t gone too far yet and, yes, maybe he wanted to tell him. Maybe for just a moment, he wanted to allow himself to imagine that such a day would arrive for the two of them.
He smiled inevitably when the thought filled his mind. “You know that I have always been fascinated by the story of Tian and Xing, don’t you?”
“I remember well, yes.” Jing He had told him the story and he had found that book of poems in his study that had supposedly been written by Tian himself. Jing He would also reference their past every now and then with a slightly wistful expression. “Are there any details known about their wedding?” He could only imagine that this was what Jing He was thinking of.
Jing He indeed nodded, that same expression Qiu Ling just thought of on his face. “It is said that it happened on a clear day in spring when the birds were singing and a soft breeze would carry the petals of the snow blossom trees that were still native to the capital city back then, making them fall on the shoulders of the couple to be wedded, indistinguishable from their white robes.
“Xing … was not loved by his father and disliked by the Heavenly Empress while his husband had no family left. So that day, there were only Tian and Xing, as well as the latter’s birth mother. As far as weddings go, it was as simple as it could be although they followed as many of the customs as they could.
“Looking at the surface, it was not worthy of a child of the Heavenly Emperor and certainly not worthy of the supreme ruler himself. But they loved each other and on that day, that love was etched in stone and they were bound for a lifetime or maybe more than that. As far as a wedding goes … what more is necessary?”
Qiu Ling nodded slowly and reached out, finally taking Jing He’s hand. “Nothing more than that. And if it is what you want, then that is what I will give to you.”
Jing He looked up, his expression startled when Qiu Ling suddenly said this so directly. “You …”
Qiu Ling shook his head and smiled. “You know my feelings. They will not wane no matter how much time passes and while I am willing to wait, I do not doubt there will be such a day. I will just wait for it. Whether it is next year or the one after … I am willing to wait.”
He rubbed the back of Jing He’s hand with his thumb and finally gave a hum. “Is it a pity that the snow blossom trees don’t grow in the capital city any longer?”
Jing He didn’t know what he meant. “I suppose so? To be honest, I have never seen a real one, only their depictions in the books. Legend has it that the snow blossom trees withered the day after Xing fell as if they had lost their soul along with him.”
Qiu Ling nodded even though he wasn’t sure if he should believe that. Still, he quietly took note of what Jing He had said. When it came to his beloved’s wishes, he wouldn’t do things half-heartedly after all. So if snow blossom trees were a part of what he wanted for his wedding, then he would give them to him.
Qiu Ling smiled to himself and then changed the topic for the time being, not wanting to make promises he wasn’t sure he could keep yet. No, when it came to this, it was best to ensure that his plan was possible before he mentioned a single word. By then, when he told his beloved, the impact would be much better anyway. And he wanted nothing more than to make his beloved happy and feel more secure in their relationship and the future they could have.