Chapter 1: An Engagement
"Lan Zhan! Your headband!" Wei Wuxian called out to Lan Zhan quickly before another wave of the Chord Assassination came at him. If he had a Gusu headband, maybe the protections of the cave would recognize him as not being a threat, like the rabbits.
He watched Lan Zhan hesitate.
He braced himself for another hit. The headband was important. Just the night before Lan Zhan had explained quite adamantly, even in his drunken state, that only members of the owner's immediate family could touch it. Wei Wuxian was not Lan Zhang's parent, brother, son, or spouse. And he was probably going to get hit again.
Lan Zhan's sword blocked the next hit and in a heartbeat Lan Zhan was at his side.
He watched Lan Zhan reach up and gracefully removed his headband and, in one move, wrapped one end around each of their wrists, tying them together.
Wuxian looked up, surprised and was met by Lan Zhan's intense gaze. Wei Wuxian was always taken aback by Lan Zhan's eyes. Objectively, they were beautiful. But what always made Wuxian's breath catch was the fire behind them. For all that Lan Zhan's face was a porcelain mask, his eyes were a painted story of emotion. Wei Wuxian loved when they were looking at him.
"Welcome, young masters," a voice spoke, causing them to both whip back around towards the back of the cave where the guqin rested. A beautiful and oddly translucent woman was sitting before it.
The two of them hurried through the water over to where she sat and both bowed.
It turned out that the woman was not only the legendary only female leader of the GusuLan sect but that she was also a contemporary of Wei Wuxian's grandmaster. She had set up there to guard the guqin, a legendary weapon of the Lan clan, and the fact that the cave had opened up to them was a sign that it had chosen a new master.
Wuxian gently nudged Lan Zhan.
"That must be you, Lan Zhan," he told him, encouraging him forward, "you're the Second Master of Gusu. It has to be you. Besides, I'm not in your sect and I can't play the guqin."
At a gentle nod from the ghostly woman, Lan Zhan stepped forward cautiously and held out his hand towards the guqin. He delicately plucked one note, and the whole guqin seemed to shiver before it began to fall apart. It fell away like sand through fingertips and vanished.
"It will answer when you call it," the woman told him with a soft smile.
"What is its name?" Lan Zhan asked, as serious sounding as always.
"That is for its master to decide. Call it when the name comes to you, it will answer. My time here is over now. I will go to my rest."
Wuxian felt sad to see her go, she was connection to his past and he would have liked to speak with her more. But he supposed she deserved the peace of rest.
The pair of them bowed once more and thanked her. She was already starting to fade.
"You are both bright and kind young men," she said, "I can tell you will do great things together." She reached out and with a fading hand touched the place where their wrists were bound together. "I offer my blessings as a Sect leader for your partnership."
With those words, she disappeared completely and an exit to the cave they had not seen before suddenly became clear to them. With nothing left to do in the cave, Wuxian tried to make sense of her parting words as they struggled their way out of the cave. Their walk was made more difficult by the water and their tied wrists. It was probably safe to untie them at that point, but Lan Zhan seemed so intent and focused that, for once, Wuxian was disinclined to interrupt him to make mention of this fact.
So, it could hardly be considered Wuxian's fault that they both stumbled their way out of the cave and Wei Wuxian accidentally landed right on top of Lan Zhan. It definitely wasn't his fault that they fell out right in front of what appeared to be the entirety of both their families.
"Wei Wuxian!" Jiang Cheng shouted, as the two of them struggled to stand and right themselves, "Where have you been? We have had everyone out looking for you all morning!"
"Shhh, Jiang Cheng," Wuxian scolded, "shouting is forbidden in the Cloud Recesses."
"Lan Wangji!" Lan Qiren snapped looking more furious than usual. Wei Wuxian flinched and subconsciously moved a step back behind Lan Zhan. He felt Lan Zhan grip his wrist in his hand over top of the headband. "What are you thinking? Your headband? You know what this means! I thought I taught you propriety. There are ways to go about these things. Untie that this instant!"
Lan Zhan tightened his grip on Wuxian's wrist briefly before reaching to untie the headband and returning it to its place on his forehead.
It rested perfectly straight, as though it had never been missing. If it wasn't for Lan Zhan's damp hair drying into gentle curls Wei Wuxian would have doubted that their adventure in the cave had even happened.
"Uncle," the ever diplomatic Lan Xichen spoke up, "there are many ears nearby, let us continue this conversation in private."
"Very well," Lan Qiren agreed, visibly forcing himself to calm, "You two will follow me, right now." His voice left no room for disagreement.
"You two may wish to come as well, there are things that must be discussed on behalf of our two sects," Lan Xichen advised Jiang Cheng and his Shijie who had been watching the interaction in silence. They nodded and followed after the irate Lan Qiren.
"Are we in trouble?" Wuxian asked Lan Zhan in a whisper, tugging at Lan Zhan's sleeve. "Is it because I touched your headband? If we explain the situation they won't be mad, right?"
"Wei Ying, be quiet," Lan Zhan spoke back calmly, walking with his head held high.
"You can blame me. Say it was my fault. I'm only in the Cloud Recesses for a few more days anyway so it doesn't matter if your uncle hates me. So I'll just say that I grabbed it without your permission."
"I knew what tying my headband to you means and the connotation it carries when I did it. I made my choice."
Wei Wuxian didn't know what he meant by that at all but it sounded serious. He didn't think that Lan Zhan would have explained more if he had gotten a chance to ask. They reached the official diplomacy rooms before he could.
"Wait here," Lan Qiren ordered him, before turning to Lan Zhan, "you come with me to explain yourself."
He turned and entered an inner room. Lan Zhan followed without a word. Lan Xichen smiled stiffly and bowed to them before entering also and closing the door behind him.
"What were you thinking!?" They heard Lan Qiren rage before the door shut and silence fell heavy.
"A-xian, what happened?" His Shijie asked, speaking for the first time.
"I don't really know how to explain or how much I am supposed to explain," he said, beginning to pace nervously. He wished he could hear what was happening inside the room. "We fell into this cold pool cave and there was this magical mythical weapon of the Gusu sect and a ghost lady and only members of the Gusu sect were allowed to be there so Lan Zhan tied his headband around my wrist to trick the Chord Assassination and now he's in trouble but its mostly my fault and the ghost lady!"
"Calm down A-xian, if it isn't Young Master Lan's fault then he won't be punished. I'm sure he is explaining what happened right now."
"Besides," Jiang Cheng, interrupted, "isn't getting Lan Wangji in trouble your favorite past time?"
"No! My favorite thing is getting him to have fun! It's different!" Wei Wuxian defended, crossing his arms and pouting.
"He never looks like he is enjoying your company."
"He never looks like he's enjoying anything. You just don't understand how to read between the lines. He loves spending time with me. I am a joy. "
"You are something. "
The door to the inner room flung open and Lan Zhan was standing there, his face a placid as a pool.
"You may enter now," he said, "thank you for your patience."
Wei Wuxian skipped up over to him and tugged on his sleeve.
"Are we in trouble? Did you explain about the cave?"
"Come inside and listen." He turned and went back inside the room. The rest of them followed quickly. Lan Zhan knelt in front of his Uncle's chair while Lan Xichen stood off to the side. Wei Wuxian knelt down next to him and Jiang Cheng and Shijie knelt on his other side.
"Sect Leader," Jiang Cheng addressed with a bow, "I must admit that I am uncertain as to the circumstances of the situation but for whatever grievances Wei Wuxian has caused I apologize on his behalf as a representative of our Sect."
"Your apology is noted but unnecessary," Lan Qiren answered, "You and your family are guests here at the Cloud Recesses and can not be expected to fully understand all of our more specific rules and traditions. The error lies with Lan Wangji, who took it upon himself to insult the elders of both his Sect and yours by running off to get engaged without so much as asking permission first!"
" Engaged?" Jiang Cheng exclaimed, his shocked tone echoing that of the voice in Wei Wuxian's own head.
"In the GusuLan sect," Lan Xichen explained, calmly, "the headband means to regulate oneself and as such is symbolic of one's own being and belonging. The binding of two people together using the headband holds with it the understanding that the two individuals are declaring their intent to become one. Additionally, since Young Master Wei is not already a member of our Sect, it implies that Wangji is inviting him to become a part of it in an official manner. This is why such a binding is traditionally used by our people as a way to recognize an intent to marry."
Wei Wuxian could feel his siblings eyes on the back of his head but he was too busy staring, bug-eyed, at Lan Zhan who was frustratingly, not looking at him at all and was giving him no clues as to how to react to this.
"However," Lan Qiren humphed, "it is usually done publicly and with appropriate approval from the families ahead of time and not in a fit of passion after falling into a cave together and taking a dip!"
"I do not have fits of passion," Lan Zhan said, speaking softly and calmly as if to prove his point.
"No? And you also knew exactly what you were doing when you bound yourself to this boy!?"
"Uncle, please," Lan Xichen soothed, "Young Master Wei is a fine gentlemen from a good position in a well respected Sect," he paused to glance at Wei Wuxian's siblings, "with a noble family. If this is Wangji's choice then a formal proposal proposition will be sent to your Sect leader as we have no reason to not approve the pairing on our side."
"Except for the lack of approval ahead of time from a respected elder!" Lan Qiren seethed.
"Ah! But the ghostly Sect leader gave us her blessing!" Wuxian exclaimed, the way that she had placed her hand on their bound wrists suddenly making sense. "That counts, right?"
"You must really want to be engaged to Young Master Lan, A-xian. I must admit I am a bit surprised, but I only wish for your happiness," Shijie murmed, mistaking Wei Wuxian's exclamation of understanding as a defense. "In that case, if my younger brother's impulsivity can be forgiven, we would like to go through the proper channels. I will send a messenger to my father to bring him for discussions."
"Shijie!" Wei Wuxian gasped, feeling his face flush hot. He didn't dare look at Lan Zhan.
"Very well, we shall write up an engagement proposal to be waiting for his arrival," Lan Qiren agreed with a sigh so deep that it felt painful to hear, "However, I would ask that we keep this between ourselves until it is formalized. Idle gossip won't do well for such an … unusual engagement."
"Wangji," Lan Xichen murmured, "Young Master Wei, you are both very young and you have hardly just met. Are you certain?"
Coming from anyone else, the blunt question would have sounded rude and inappropriate. But, Lan Xichen was so kind and patient. Wei Wuxian could tell his words came from a place of deep care, not only for Lan Zhan but for Wuxian as well. It made him smile.
"Brother," Lan Zhan addressed him and then paused.
Wei Wuxian waited with bated breath for what Lan Zhan would say. This was his chance to back out. Once the formal proposal was delivered there would be no way to back out without losing face, especially after what had apparently been a wildly rebellious engagement. Wuxian would take his cues from Lan Zhan. If Lan Zhan didn't speak up now, insist that it was an accident or a mistake, then Wei Wuxian wouldn't be the one to do so. He wouldn't, couldn't, do that to Lan Zhan, embarrass him like that with a rejection. If Lan Zhan could stand the thought of being tied to him indefinitely, then Wuxian wouldn't say no. He wasn't so stupid as to turn down the Second Jade of Gusu afterall.
"Lan Zhan?" Wuxian asked, causing Lan Zhan to look at him for the first time since they'd sat.
"I knew what tying my headband to you means and the connotation it carries when I did it. I made my choice," Lan Zhan repeated, sounding more certain than he ever had when he had told Wei Wuxian off for breaking rules. It made Wuxian's heart beat heavy in his chest. Lan Zhan turned back to his brother. "My actions were made knowingly with no room for mistake or regret. So long as Wei Ying accepts it, I will stand by my choice."
"He could sound a little more excited," Jiang Cheng grumbled under his breath. But Jiang Cheng didn't understand the nuances of Lan Zhan the way Wuxian did. Lan Zhan didn't say things he didn't mean, at least, not publicly. He must not have meant his denials of Wei Wuxian's friendship and how close they were. If he had meant it, he wouldn't be agreeing to marriage now. He wouldn't be saying things that made it hard for Wuxian to breathe.
He had never expected someone like Lan Zhan to ask for his hand. He had expected to get married off to some random fourth or fifth daughter of a lesser well-known Sect by his desperate Aunt. After all the trouble he had caused for Lan Zhan, after all that Wei Wuxian was not the perfect rule abiding match, after all that he was a male… and still Lan Zhan wanted to be tied to him for the rest of their lives anyway.
"Yes," Wuxian breathed out before he even realized he had consciously thought it. He did want to be married to Lan Zhan. He wanted to surprise and annoy him into reactions everyday… reactions that were just for him and no one else. He wanted to see the sides of Lan Zhan that no one else got to see. He wanted to be someone special to Lan Zhan, someone irreplaceable. "Yes, I want to."
The tips of Lan Zhan's ears turned pink but otherwise showed no reaction in his face. Lan Xichen smiled.
"Very well," he said, "in that case I am happy for you both despite your reckless way of going about this." He nodded to to Lan Zhan. "Wangji, let's talk."
Lan Zhan hopped up immediately. He bowed briefly to Jiang Cheng and Shijie and blinked blankly at Wei Wuxian awkwardly a few time before following after his brother.
A heavy silence reigned and Wuxian winced. He could feel Jiang Cheng's reaction boiling, ready to blow.
"You got engaged to Lan Wangji and, what, coincidently forgot to mention it when we asked what happened?" He seethed, his rage masked with calmness.
"It's not my fault!" Wuxian defended, standing. "I didn't even know that was what tying my wrist with the headband meant. I was just as surprised as you!"
"You got engaged accidentally! ?" Jiang Cheng's eyes looked like they were going to pop out of his head and both Wuxian and Shijie had to smother a giggle.
"Yep! But I can't really complain. Who wouldn't want to marry the Second Jade of Gusu? Everyone will be so jealous. Who do you think will be more surprised to hear the news, Madam Yu or Uncle Jiang?"
"A-xian," Shijie spoke, "if it was without your knowledge or consent you could have refused."
"What? No, I couldn't. Didn't you see the way Lan Zhan acted?"
"He was as passive as usual," Jiang Cheng dismissed as they all moved towards the door.
"You just don't know him like I do," Wuxian insisted. "He was nervous. How could I reject him when he was so serious and nervous about this? He really continues to surprise me!"
"I think the feeling is probably mutual."
"Now I get to surprise him every day forever!" Wuxian exclaimed as they stepped outside.
"I am not sure that is a proper basis for a marriage."
"People get married through arranged marriage all the time, like Shijie and that Peacock. At least we chose for ourselves!"
"A-cheng," Shijie said, resting a hand on Jiang Cheng's arm, "our A-xian is old enough to make his decisions for himself and if this is what he wants then let's support him and his happiness. I believe that Young Master Lan will treat our A-xian with care."
"Thanks, Shijie! You're my favorite sibling!"
"You-!" Jiang Cheng hissed and started to chase after him to give him a smack.
Chapter 2: A Conversation
Some important things must be spoken about.
There were two things that Wei Wuxian was sure of as he readied for bed that night. One: He was engaged (or about to be, once his Uncle approved it) to Lan Zhan. Two: As soon as he could, he was going to sneak out to the room were Lan Zhan slept to speak with his brand new fiancé for the first time since they'd fallen into a cave and accidentally gotten engaged.
He'd just had to wait for Jiang Cheng to fall asleep and then it had been easy to slip away.
Lan Zhan, ever faithful to the mandated sleeping hours of the Cloud Recesses, was already sleeping peacefully when Wuxian slid up the blinds, slipped over the window sill, and crept inside, but within mere seconds of his entrance Wuxian found himself with a very familiar gleaming sword at his throat.
"Hi, Lan Zhan," he greeted with a broad smile. Lan Zhan frowned but sheathed his sword to allow Wuxian farther into the room.
"It's after nine, you're supposed to be sleeping," Lan Zhan stated, watching as Wuxian invited himself to sit on Lan Zhan's bed.
"Ah, I'm not a member of the GusuLan Sect," Wuxian said waving a hand in dismissal, then he paused and smirked up at Lan Zhan as another thought crossed his mind, "... yet." He winked. Lan Zhan swallowed.
"You are keeping up one who is," he said instead of responding to Wuxian's teasing.
"Do you think that one who is can forgive me this once and let me stay? He and I have things we must discuss." Wuxian patted the bed next to him to indicate that he wanted Lan Zhan to sit with him and, to his surprise, Lan Zhan let out a soft sigh and walked over to sit exactly were Wuxian had patted.
"It is me who should be asking forgiveness," he said after a moment, "I should not have done what I did without your permission or providing explanation."
"You mean you should have probably told me that we were engaged before I found out from your insulted and irate uncle," Wuxian teased.
"Yes. It was… improper, and unfair to you."
"Lan Zhan, don't forget, I love being improper, and making your uncle mad is one of my favorite things to do. So don't feel too bad."
"You're not… upset?" Lan Zhan asked, glancing briefly at Wuxian before turning away. Wei Wuxian bit his lip to stop a grin. Lan Zhan really was quite cute when he was being shy.
"Surprised," Wuxian insisted instead, "I didn't think you liked me that much. What happened to 'we're not close'?"
"We weren't then. Now we are."
"Ah, Lan Zhan, you really are so literal. I'm trying to ask why . You knew what it meant, why do it? Or why not deny it? Or make up an excuse or say I forced you?"
"I didn't do it lightly. I don't do things rashly. I was fully prepared to take responsibility for my choice."
"Make me an honest man you mean?"
"Accept you as part of my family."
"In the cave. Only those who were a part of the GusuLan Sect would be accepted. So, I invited you into my family."
"But, you still could have backed out."
"So too could have you."
"I … I play too much. I'm too loud. I say improper things. It scares away girls or makes them mad. Men don't take me seriously. My aunt says that no one will want me and that I'm an embarrassment," Wuxian admitted, rubbing his thumb over the fabric of the bed and watching it make wrinkles. He shrugged and forced himself to cheer up. "But now the most honorable Second Master Lan wants me! How could I refuse?"
"You could. Still. If you think you will be unhappy."
"Ah, Lan Zhan, that would be shameful. It would bring you embarrassment."
"If you would be unhappy," Lan Zhan repeated. Wuxian looked at the side of his face, a view he was quickly getting used to.
Even now Lan Zhan was giving him an out. But it just further proved to Wuxian that Lan Zhan actually cared about him, maybe even liked him, maybe wanted to marry him.
"Would you be happy, Lan Zhan? Married to me?"
Wuxian watched in awe as Lan Zhan gave a slow and calculated nod. Feeling bold, Wuxian reached out and placed his hand over the nearest of Lan Zhan's wrists. Lan Zhan stiffened a bit under the touch but didn't pull away.
"Say something more," Wei Wuxian pleaded. "Two words at least?"
"Wei Ying." Wuxian's breath caught. That was two words.
"Two more." Lan Zhan turned to look at him. His eyes looked like he was smiling though his mouth didn't move to show it.
"Utterly shameless." Wuxian grinned.
Lan Zhan reached up and untied his headband from his head and, much slower and more gently than the previous time, tied their two wrists together. Wei Wuxian's stomach felt fuzzy like when he was drunk on good wine.
He was engaged. He was engaged to Lan Zhan. And he was happy about it. Even with the GusuLan's thousands of rules and stuffy nature, even though he had only known Lan Zhan a few months and most of that time had been spent in silence at the Library copying rules, even if on the surface he and Lan Zhan seemed like an impossible pair… he was recklessly happy to be engaged to Lan Zhan.
Jiang Cheng would never let him live down the fact that he had definitely whined that no one in their right mind would want to marry Lan Zhan or marry into the GusuLan Sect. But, he was big enough to admit when he was wrong. And he had been wrong. Lan Zhan was a catch! And Wei Wuxian had caught him.
"Lan Zhan, you can admit it now, right?" Wuxian asked, leaning closer to his fiancé. "You like it when I tease you."
"I like... that Wei Ying doesn't treat me like glass," Lan Zhan explained, "brother teases, uncle scolds, but they still act as though I will break if they don't tread gently. Wei Ying never watches where Wei Ying walks."
"I don't," Wuxian agreed. "But, sometimes it makes me trip and fall because I'm careless."
"I will catch you when you do." That made Wuxian smile.
"I don't think you are fragile. I have seen you when you are mad, after all. Delicate, maybe." Lan Zhan's features didn't shift, but Wuxian could see the confusion. "Delicate features," he explained, "it means that I think you are pretty to look at. But you already knew that didn't you, Second Jade?"
"Shameless!" Lan Zhan hissed, turning away and blushing at the tips of his ears like he had when Wuxian had tried to show him porn. Like last time, it made Wuxian laugh. Unlike last time, it made Wuxian want to kiss him.
So, he leaned even closer and touched the tip of his nose to Lan Zhan's pale cheekbone to nuzzle there gently. Lan Zhan's entire body seized up in shock but he didn't move away.
"Wei Ying," he said, his voice sounding affected by their proximity, "what are you doing?"
"I want to kiss my fiancé," Wuxian told him brashly. But, he should have known that being too bold would cause Lan Zhan to back off.
"Kissing before marriage is forbidden in the Cloud Recesses," he announced, pulling away and untying their wrists.
"Ah!" Wuxian exclaimed, grabbing hold of the headband and pulling it from Lan Zhan's grasp, "don't worry. I will teach you how to break many rules!"
"Ah ha ha, alright, alright," Wei Wuxian laughed at how flustered Lan Zhan was getting. "I'll be good," he promised, as he straightened out Lan Zhan's headband and carefully leaned over to tie it back in its proper place in Lan Zhan's hair. He gently smoothed it down and then ran his fingers through Lan Zhan's long hair as though clearing away tangles that weren't there. "But what about when you come to visit me at Lotus Pier? Will you let me kiss you there?"
Lan Zhan turned away once more, and his shoulders shifted uncomfortably.
"Am I embarrassing you?" Wuxian asked. Lan Zhan shook his head. "You will come to visit me at my home, won't you? And even after we are married? I don't want to be locked away in Cloud Recesses like some kind of wilting housewife, you know! So, we'll have to split time between our two Sects. But don't worry! I think you'll really like it there. The lotus ponds are really pretty and you can take a boat out to do your meditation where its quiet and-"
"Wei Ying," Lan Zhan interrupted his ramblings, "whatever you want."
"What about what you want?"
"I want Wei Ying."
Wei Wuxian's eyes widened at the blunt statement and his felt a flush settle on his cheeks. He felt like he'd been kicked in the chest. Lan Zhan was clearly bad for his health.
"Oh, ah, it's so late!" Wuxian said quickly standing, "I should let you rest! I'll see myself out!"
"Wei Ying, sleep well." Lan Zhan stood to follow after him towards the window.
"You too, Lan Zhan! I'll see you tomorrow."
"Yes. It is the lantern lighting."
"Let's light a lantern together and share a wish, okay?"
Wei Wuxian waited until Lan Zhan nodded his head in acquiescence before slipping out the window and sneak off back into the night.
Jiang Cheng was mercifully still asleep when Wei Wuxian entered their room. But it didn't stop him from having a pissy attitude when he rudely dragged Wuxian out of his bed the next morning.
"Get up! You'll be late for class and my father is already on his way and will arrive by tonight after the lantern lighting so get yourself together."
"Where is Shijie," Wuxian whined through a yawn, "she's nice to me."
"If you want someone to be nice to you, you should have picked a different fiancé."
"Lan Zhan is nice!" Wuxian defended and then paused as he realized what he'd just said and yesterday's events returned to him in a rush. "I'm engaged to Lan Zhan," he murmured stupidly.
"You aren't starting to regret it now are you? I suppose it isn't too late to back out. We could just pretend that father rejected the proposal, but mother would not be happy with you."
"No, no! No regrets. Just still trying to wrap my mind around it. I'm actually really happy, Jiang Cheng, I swear!"
"Great, then stop lazing about and go to class to see your beloved."
Wei Wuxian stood quickly and threw on his outer layer and splashed some water on his face. He tugged his hair up into a ponytail without bothering to comb it and, struggling into his boots, he bunny-hopped his way out the door.
Jiang Cheng hurried after him as though chasing a child but Wei Wuxian was undeterred by his presence; he had a certain handsome fiancé to find and hassle. It wouldn't do to have Lan Zhan forget how lovable and amazing he was and change his mind.
He spotted Lan Zhan walking towards their classroom nearby some of their classmates from the other Sects and took off at a run.
"Lan Zhan!" He called out, waving. Lan Zhan turned and frowned.
"Wei Ying, no running!" Lan Zhan scolded but he didn't fuss as much as he normally would when Wuxian reached him and immediately wrapped his arms around Lan Zhan's waist to hang off him like a limpet.
"Hi. Did you miss me?"
"Mn," Lan Zhan hummed in almost agreement, but he didn't move to embrace Wuxian back. He didn't mind. It was already such a big change from the way Lan Zhan would have removed Wuxian from his person in the past. "Let go, Wei Ying."
"I don't want to," Wuxian pouted.
"We have to go to class and I can't walk like this."
"Fine, but let's walk like this instead," Wuxian announced and pulled away to take Lan Zhan's hand in his own. He swung his arm back and forth, forcing Lan Zhan's arm to move with his in an exaggerated swing that looked completely incongruous coming from the usually inscrutable Second Master Lan Wangji.
He made sure to sit right next to Lan Zhan during class and to throw winks and waves at him whenever he could catch his eye. He never got a response but he wasn't disappointed. He also made sure to smirk at Lan Qiren as smugly as possible and received many furious glares in response. This didn't dissuade his happiness. Neither did the many confused stares and whispers from his peers (and glares from Jiang Cheng).
Wei Wuxian felt like he was floating on a cloud. With this feeling still fuzzy in his veins that afternoon he sat next to Lan Zhan on the grass and lovingly drew a rabbit on their lantern.
"Look, Lan Zhan, I made it for you. Do you like it?" The genuine smile he received was the greatest gift Wuxian had ever been given. He wondered if Lan Zhan had been thinking, as Wuxian had been, of the rabbits that had populated the cave where they'd gotten engaged. He hoped that he was and it had been that which had prompted the smile. Or maybe Lan Zhan just really liked rabbits.
His smile was beautiful. Wei Wuxian vowed at that moment to make Lan Zhan smile as often as he could manage. And he had the rest of his life to see all of Lan Zhan's smiles. He wanted to collect them for himself. He wanted to see the smiles that no one else had ever seen, given out just for him. He wanted to hear Lan Zhan laugh.
They released the lanterns as evening fell and Wei Wuxian closed his eyes to make a wish, a promise.
“May I, Wei Wuxian, eliminate evil, protect the weak, and live without regret,” he whispered. He glanced to Lan Zhan to see if he approved of the proclamation to see that Lan Zhan was watching him. His eyes shone softly in the low glow of dusk.
“May I, Lan Wangji, eliminate evil, protect the weak, and live without regret," he repeated with a kind tilt of his head and a soft lilt in his voice.
Wei Wuxian couldn't help but gravitate closer to Lan Zhan so he could speak without fear of being overheard and added, "And, may I be a good husband and may our marriage be nothing but good and happy."
This time Lan Zhan didn't repeat the words back but he didn't need to for Wuxian to know that he had repeated them in his heart.
As they all walked down together from the cliff side Wuxian took a moment to break away from Lan Zhan's side to run up to the place where Jin Zixuan was walking with his Sect members.
"Excuse me, Young Master Jin?" He called out politely, giving a small bow when the Peacock in question stopped to look at him. He also made sure to give a small and playful wave to Mian Mian who rolled her eyes at his behaviour.
"I just want to say, I know that I have given you a hard time but it is just because I don't think anyone is good enough for my Shijie. But lately my eyes have been opened to understanding that some people express the way they feel differently. So, what I am saying is, I am willing to give you a chance. And anyway, you and Shijie need to hurry up and get married because I can't until you do!"
"A-xian!" Shijie exclaimed is surprise, an embarrassed flush on her cheeks. She hurried over and bowed. "I am sorry about him." She tugged Wuxian away by his sleeve.
His uncle was waiting for them at the courtyard when they returned. All three siblings broke out into a run at the sight of his waiting smile and he wrapped them all up im a great big hug.
"No running in the Cloud Recesses," Lan Qiren tutted, but it seemed as though he knew when to pick his battles and when they were a lost cause.
"It seems as though you three are in high spirits," Uncle Jiang greeted as they all backed off to properly bow their respects. "I hear that much has happened during your time here, and I believe that, Wei Wuxian, you and I have something to discuss." His eyes twinkled as he spoke. "Shall we go inside?"
"Yes, Uncle Jiang," he agreed and they all moved inside, but only Wei Wuxian and his uncle entered into the inner room. His uncle closed the door behind them.
"Now we are alone. A-xian, I must ask, are you being forced into this?"
"Forced?" Wuxian repeated bemused. "Is it that unlikely I would wish to marry?"
"How many times have you touted your freedom and wild nature? To wish to marry and, not only marry, but to marry into the GusuLan Sect and marry a man with a temperament so different to your own? Yes, it is quite that unlikely, nearly impossible to imagine. So, I will ask again. Do you want this?"
"Is it not our own motto to aim to do the impossible? Yes, Uncle Jiang," he assured, smiling at his Uncle's care for him. "It was a bit unexpected and sudden but not forced. I chose to accept and do so happily. Lan Zhan isn't at all like he seems, except for that he exactly is. Do you understand?"
"Not at all, but your Aunt is thrilled."
"I'll bet. She must be happy to be rid of me in a way that brings credit to our clan rather than shame, as I'm sure she so feared I would," Wei Wuxian teased, speaking only the truth. His uncle shook his head fondly. "And what of you, Uncle Jiang? Are you happy to be rid of me?"
"A parent is never happy to see his children no longer need them."
Wei Wuxian's throat closed at his Uncle's words. He may never remember his true father, but his uncle had been more than enough. Startling even himself, Wuxian found himself dropping to his knees into a deep bow.
"Please, Uncle, please accept the engagement proposal. I promise, you won't lose me to the Cloud Recesses. I love my family and Lotus Pier too much to stay away. Lan Zhan has already agreed to split our time and to join our Sects in the bond of marriage rather than to take from one to another."
"You love this boy?"
Wei Wuxian did not answer right away. He had only know Lan Zhan a few months. Was love possible after so short a time? But Lan Zhan was kind and good and stubborn, quick to anger and quick to forgive. He liked that Wuxian teased him. He never showed the way he felt, except for when he showed nothing else but exactly how he felt. He was true. And he had chosen Wei Wuxian.
"I want to stay by his side. To be by his side would make me happy," Wei Wuxian answered instead.
"Then we shall accept. Now stand up and go and greet him, he must be waiting for you." He gently helped Wei Wuxian to his feet and, after one more quick hug, guided him to the door.
Lan Zhan was there waiting. Jiang Cheng and Shijie were seated on some cushions nearby, as was Lan Qiren and Lan Xichen. Lan Zhan was pacing the floor. When the door opened he stopped abruptly and turned to look. He looked nervous, his body pulled tight as a bowstring.
Deciding to tease, just a little bit , he controlled his own facial expression and walked slowly over to where he stood. He waited until they were less than a few steps from each other and he could see the tension in Lan Zhan's brow before he spoke.
"Lan Zhan, I've spoken with my Uncle," he said, as seriously as possible. Lan Zhan swallowed and waited. When Wuxian didn't say more, he frowned and his eyebrows pulled together in concern.
"Wei Ying?" Lan Zhan asked, sounding so timid that Wuxian could no longer bear to tease.
"He said yes!" With those words Wuxian grinned broadly and threw himself into Lan Zhan's arms, wrapping his arms around his shoulders and burying his face in his long dark hair.
Lan Zhan's arms came up to hold his waist and, after a moment, he squeezed, holding Wuxian so tightly to him that it almost knocked both of them off their feet. Wuxian laughed with joy. Lan Qiren sputtered.
"That is highly inappropriate."
Chapter 3: A Visitation
Lan Zhan comes to Lotus Pier.
Less than two days later the study retreat at the Cloud Recesses came to an end and the students were all forced to make their journeys home to their respective Sects.
Wei Wuxian left with fond memories and a stack full of marriage rules, wedding traditions, and Gusu regulations to study, and the order to have them thoroughly memorized by the time that the main Lan family branch came for an official visit to Lotus Pier.
Lan Zhan escorted him and his siblings and the other Sect disciples down to the edge of the GusuLan property and allowed Wei Ying to hug him goodbye in front of all the other students, even though they were meant to be keeping their engagement a secret until the wedding between the Peacock and his Shijie so as to not dishonor them by stealing the spotlight.
It was almost a full month until Lan Zhan was to visit, and Wei Wuxian had believed that it would be the slowest month of his life. But he found that he had many things to keep himself busy.
He spent the time enjoying his last vestiges of youth at Lotus Pier, training the young disciples and teasing them too, not that he planned on changing much once he was married. But he knew that he would have less time to spend with them soon.
He found himself granted more of the freedom that he usually had to steal time to achieve. His aunt was so pleased with his engagement that she actually praised him, to his face. He'd almost collapsed in shock. After that she had mostly let him be.
She had come down harder on poor Jiang Cheng who now, as the only unspoken for member of the family, needed to get his act together and begin to get serious about training to be the next Sect leader. To make it up to him, Wuxian would sneak him Lotus seeds and other snacks and go shopping for him in town. He even once tried to make his own rendition of his Shijie's Lotus Rib Soup for him, only to be told that he was lucky Lan Zhan was not marrying him for his cooking abilities.
He also studied harder than he ever had, locking himself in his room for hours on end to copy and recopy the books that Lan Qiren had provided for him. He wished that the stuffy old teacher could have seen how diligently he studied, maybe then he would reconsider his opinion of him. He could imagine that the geezer would just be more annoyed to know that Wuxian could be a good student and had, in fact, chosen not to be while in his care.
He also studied all the books that the YunmengJiang Sect had on their own marriage traditions. He spent long walks speaking with his Shijie and his Uncle on those things expected of him and the ways in which the ceremony would be modified to accommodate both Sects' traditions. There was precedent for two high level senior students marrying from different Sects and precedent for two men marrying. But there was very little for both.
It was an uncommon occurrence since usually the wish to carry on a bloodline resulted in an arranged marriage, like Shijie and the Peacock's arrangement. But Wei Wuxian was technically a free agent. He was a Wei not a Jiang and couldn't be expected to carry on the Sect leader's bloodline, and, besides which, Jiang Cheng was there to do such in his stead. Which was, coincidently, probably why Lan Zhan was being allowed to marry a man. He too had a brother who could potentially carry on the line of Lans. Though, something about seeing Lan Xichen married off to some girl at random to produce offspring settled funny in Wuxian's gut when he thought of it. But, he usually shrugged that feeling off since it wasn't really his fault and it wasn't something for him to worry about.
The summer turned to fall but the warmth lingered. When the day finally arrived that Lan Zhan and his entourage of Uncle and Brother were to come, there was barely a breeze. Wei Wuxian felt like he was dying, stifled by heat and impatience, as they stood around the main courtyard waiting to receive their guests.
"When will they get here?" He asked for the fifth or sixth time, bouncing on his heels and tugging at his sleeves. He had worn his favorite black and purple robes just for the occasion but now he felt itchy all over in them.
"Soon," his Uncle answered. "Stop fidgeting."
"Maybe I should go wait at the pier or fly out to look for them. What if they got lost?"
"A-xian, calm down," Shijie shushed, reaching out and patting the back of his hand.
"Yeah, you'll be a sweaty, ugly mess by the time they get here and then Second Master Lan won't want to marry you anymore," Jiang Cheng said snidely.
"Shut up!" Wuxian snapped back, turning to yell at him to his smug face. He planted his hands on his hips and stuck his tongue out with a " bleurgh! " sound.
"It is nice to see you are as lively as ever, Young Master Wei," a light, airy voice mused from behind him.
Wei Wuxian whirled back around to find an amused Lan Xichen and a very unamused Lan Qiren. Wuxian flushed bright red at having been caught acting so childish in front of his future in-laws but the embarrassment didn't last long. They already knew he was childish, and Wei Wuxian had more important things to worry about.
He would have run right over to him if his Uncle hadn't grabbed ahold of his waist sash and held him back.
"Bow first," he reminded, before dipping them both into a bow and greeting their guests. "Welcome, most honored guests, to Lotus Pier."
"Thank you, for allowing us to come and stay. We have been here but a few moments but I must say, your home is truly a wonder to behold," Lan Xichen returned, diplomatically. Wuxian realized that it must have been Lan Xichen's first visit to Lotus Pier as well.
"Then, Uncle and Jiang Cheng can give you a tour!" Wuxian offered, sneaking out of his Uncle's grasp and running to grab a hold of Lan Zhan's wrist. "And I'll give Lan Zhan a tour of all my favorite spots!" He tugged at Lan Zhan and broke into a run as he spoke. Lan Zhan was forced to do an awkward half jog and half walk to keep up with the way he was being dragged along. "We'll see you at dinner!"
"Wei Wuxian!" Jiang Chiang shouted after them, furious, and Lan Qiren sputtered (Wuxian was getting used to ignoring his sputtering). He was sure he would get an earful from his aunt and Lan Zhan's uncle for stealing away their precious Second Jade and making him run , but it was a sacrifice he was willing to make.
"Lan Zhan, look," he hurried to speak as they moved briskly, "here is where we train with our swords and Jiang Cheng teaches the young disciples. And here is where I first learned to fly on my sword! Oh, over there is where I threw an apple at Jiang Cheng and accidentally broke a window and got Jiang Cheng in trouble for it instead of me."
"Here is where Shijie taught me how to tie braids and weave baskets for Lotus picking. This is where I was once chased by a dog until Jiang Cheng agreed to scare them all away."
"Over there is the best place for soup, at least the kind that isn't made by Shijie. Up there is where we practice archery and shoot down kites."
"If you want, we could go up there and I can show you. Oh! Oh! Or we can go-"
Lan Zhan turned his wrist in Wuxian's grip until he freed it and was able to grab Wuxian's wrist in turn. He yanked him to an abrupt stop and forced him to look him in the eye.
Wuxian promptly forgot everything he was going to say. Lan Zhan really had quite pretty eyes. Surely, he had noticed that before. He knew that the man to which he was engaged was an objectively beautiful person. He knew this. But why had it not stuck him before this just how beautiful he truly was? He must look a fool, he thought distantly, stuck dumb by the sight of his slightly frustrated fiancé.
"Slow down," Lan Zhan commanded, his face impassive but his eyes intent, "we have time."
"Yes," Wuxian agreed, finally feeling like he could pause to take a breath. Lan Zhan was there, in Lotus Pier, and they had time; they had the time to walk, and to talk slow, and to be together just them two. "Ah, I'm sorry to annoy you first thing." Wei Wuxian scratched lightly at the side of his nose self-consciously. "You must want to rest, not be tugged at and talked at."
"I missed you." Lan Zhan's voice was fond. Wei Wuxian blushed and ducked his head, smacking at Lan Zhan's shoulder.
"Ah, Lan Zhan, oh, Lan Zhan! How can you say such things so bluntly!?" Wuxian complained, not actually very upset about it at all.
"How else should I say it?"
"Not like that."
"Then, I am glad to see you well," he offered instead.
"Mnn," Wuxian replied, borrowing Lan Zhan's favorite non-response. He gently tugged at Lan Zhan's sleeve with his free hand and moved to lace their fingers together with his other. Lan Zhan squeezed his hand.
Wei Wuxian slowed down. He walked with Lan Zhan all over the place he called home, showing him all his favorite spots, this time with care and diligence. And, for his part, Lan Zhan listened and observed. He nodded and Mmn'd at the things Wuxian said and the ridiculous tales he weaved. He greeted anyone who greeted him. He never once let go of Wuxian's hand.
Wuxian spent most of the tour looking at Lan Zhan, trying to read his face for reactions and responses. He was pleased every time he was able to catch a glimpse of the truth. He was starting to think that people who called Lan Zhan cold just didn't take the time to pay attention. Lan Zhan was incredibly expressive. At least, he was around Wei Wuxian.
Wuxian decided that he liked having Lan Zhan in his home. He stood out like a sore thumb, dressed in all white in a place known for its rich purples, deep blues, and crimson reds. But seeing him there made Wuxian happy and the way his sleeves fluttered around him as he walked seemed to embody the petals of the lotus flower itself.
Eventually he coaxed Lan Zhan out into a small paddle boat and rowed them out to the farthest patch of lotus, his favorite one. It was a secluded area which most members of his Sect knew that he and his family favored. They would be left in privacy there.
Wei Wuxian reached down and, passing over the seed pods which were perfectly ripe for eating, plucked a fully bloomed flower. He passed it Lan Zhan silently, who's lips quirked up at the gesture. Lan Zhan took it gently and brushed his fingertips over the petals.
"What do you think of Lotus Pier?" Wuxian asked, scooting closer in the boat to fiddle with the edge of Lan Zhan's robes. Lan Zhan noticed the touching but didn't scold him for it like he might have in the past.
"It is colorful, lively," Lan Zhan said after a moment of thought. "It is beautiful and … free." He smiled softly as he spoke. "Like Wei Ying. "
"Who knew that Second Master Lan Wangji is such a romantic," Wei Wuxian teased gently, bracing his arms on the boat and leaning in close. Lan Zhan stiffened and tried to back away only to discover that he was pressed against the edge of the boat with nowhere to escape but into the water.
"Kissing before marriage is forbidden in…" Lan Zhan trailed off, and swallowed thickly as if he realized what he had been about to say. This was not the Cloud Recesses.
"Kissing is highly encouraged in Lotus Pier," Wuxian said and pressed his mouth to Lan Zhan's startled lips.
They were slightly late to dinner.
Lan Qiren and Madam Yu were furious, Uncle Jiang, Shijie, and Lan Xichen looked amused, Jiang Cheng looked annoyed, and Lan Zhan couldn't look up from the ground without blushing. Wei Wuxian couldn't stop grinning.
Wei Wuxian was distracted the whole dinner. He wasn't allowed to sit next to Lan Zhan but he was allowed to sit across from him. He spent the whole dinner staring at him. Lan Zhan rarely looked up, but when he did Wuxian would wink at him and he would duck back down.
They talked a fair bit about official planning and the edits that would be needed to be made to the ceremony in order to personalize it for the pair. When called upon, Wuxian proudly stated any rule and tradition that Lan Qiren requested, from both Sects. But otherwise, he found his mind drifting. He wasn't thinking about anything specifically. He just stared at Lan Zhan's delicate lines and basked. He basked in the warm tingly feelings that were buzzing from his ears to his toes.
"You look happy, A-xian," his Shijie whispered to him, taking his hand in her own under the table and squeezing.
"I am," he whispered back.
"We'll both be married soon. Can you believe?"
"I know! Do you think Jiang Cheng will ever forgive us?" They both giggled into their sleeves and Jiang Cheng glared at them, but it was in a playful manner.
"Perhaps we'll have to find him a match too," Shijie suggested.
"Aw, we have to leave someone to keep Uncle and Aunt Yu company."
"We'll have to come visit often or he'll go mad." Jiang Cheng kicked him in the shin.
"We've set a date," Shijie whispered as Wuxian rubbed his shin.
"For your wedding to the Peacock?"
"Yes, and stop calling him that!" She scolded him with a light smack. "Two months."
"Two months!" Wuxian exclaimed, forgetting to whisper. "That's ages away! Shijie, I can't get married until you do!"
"Ah hem," Lan Qiren coughed, pointedly. "While the … enthusiasm is admirable, seeing as you two have only known each other for about the same length of time, one would think perhaps it would be prudent for your courtship to last a bit longer."
"Patience is a virtue that our senior discipline has not perfected, if he ever learned it at all," Madam Yu said disdainfully.
"Which is perhaps," Lan Xichen said, with twinkling eyes, "why he is such a fine match for our Wangji, who has gotten far too adept at denying himself the things he wants."
Lan Zhan blinked up at his brother. For once his emotions were clear to everyone in the room: embarrassed betrayal
Wow thanks for all the support on this fic. Ive never had such a high bookmark to kudos ratio. ^_^
Chapter 4: An Interruption
But what does Jiang Cheng think about all this?
"You know, Lan Zhan," Wei Wuxian said, conversationally, as they walked together after dinner, "there is still one place I haven't yet shown you."
Lan Zhan didn't answer, but his silence told Wuxian that he was waiting for him to elaborate. Wuxian glanced over his shoulder. Lan Xichen, Jiang Cheng, and Shijie were talking together nearby, and his aunt and their respective uncles had gone inside to speak in private. The coast seemed relatively clear to sneak away.
He pressed a finger to his lips in a shh motion and grabbed Lan Zhan's wrist to pull him away and towards his destination. He reached it quickly and tugged Lan Zhan inside, shutting the door behind them.
"This is…" Lan Zhan trailed off, his eyes wide as he took in the room.
"My room!" Wuxian announced with a huge grin, flouncing over and chucking himself down on the bed. He patted the space next to him but Lan Zhan didn't take the hint to come and sit. Instead, he continued to glance all over the room as if taking it all in.
"I shouldn't be here unchaperoned. This is inappropriate," Lan Zhan muttered, but he didn't move to leave.
"I've been in your room alone!"
"You crawled in the window."
"And you came in the door, so we are already infinitely more appropriate than we have been in the past. Look, we don't even have to sit on the bed," Wuxian soothed, standing from the bed and sitting on the floor instead.
He patted the floor next to him and this time, after a moment of hesitation, Lan Zhan gingerly lowered himself into the indicated spot, folding up his legs delicately below him and brushing down his outer robe to straighten it. It was as though he thought having straightened clothes and proper posture would make the situation less inappropriate. It made Wuxian smirk fondly at his frivolous fiancé. For about the hundredth time since their engagement he wondered how someone like him had managed to ensnare such a man as Lan Wangji. Since day one he'd found himself drawn to the serious look on his pretty face, and even now he liked him more and more every time he saw him. He wondered if it was the same for Lan Zhan.
"They'll announce our engagement at my Shijie's wedding event." Lan Zhan nodded slightly. "I want to prepare something special as a gift for Shijie… from both of us."
"What did you have in mind?" Lan Zhan asked, his finger twitching a bit but otherwise non-reactive. The small motion was enough to clue Wuxian in to the fact that Lan Zhan's mind was racing over the idea of presenting a couples' gift to his future sister-in-law in such a public setting.
"A song!" Wuxian exclaimed, bouncing a bit in excitement. "The Lans use music based cultivation so you must be really good at music, right? Do you know how to compose? Could we write a song together and perform it? I can play the flute!"
"A flute," Lan Zhan pondered. "Perhaps you will be able to pick up and train in our Sect's musical cultivation style quickly." It made Wuxian feel warm to hear Lan Zhan call it their Sect even though he was not yet officially a member of the Gusu Lan Sect.
"Your brother uses a flute, yes? Do you think he can teach me?" He paused to tap at his chin as though he was thinking. "Or perhaps I should learn the guqin like my husband." He watched Lan Zhan's ears tinge pink at the title. "Will you teach me, Second Master? I'll be a dedicated student!" He leaned in closer, allowing his voice to slip into a huskier register as he teased, "You can teach me how to pluck and strum in all the best ways to make music with my fingers, won't you, Lan-er-gege?"
Lan Zhan's eyes flicked to Wei Wuxian and the fire there was so fierce it burned. He could hear the admonishment without Lan Zhan even needing to speak. Shameless. But it was also clear to him that Lan Zhan liked it, and Wuxian loved that he could get this reaction; he was the only one who could.
"A duet?" Lan Zhan said instead, returning to the original topic. In a flash Lan Zhan materialized a guqin in front of his lap. It was dark wood and looked well worn. It was a beautiful instrument but it caused Wei Wuxian to frown.
"This is your old guqin," he noted. "What happened to the one that you received in the cave?"
"I have it." With a wave of Lan Zhan's hand, the other appeared beside the first.
The pair were a perfect contrast of dark and light, much like Wuxian and Lan Zhan themselves. Suddenly struck with inspiration as to another way to tease his betrothed, Wuxian plucked at the strings of the darker guqin and fluttered his eyelashes up at Lan Zhan flirtatiously in the manner of a maiden.
"Look, Lan Zhan they match us both so well. The white one is perfect for you, but this one is dark black so it's perfect for me. You don't need two guqin. Don't be selfish, Lan Zhan. You should give this one to me instead! After you teach me, we can play together. Wouldn't you like that? It will be your wedding gift to me, yes?"
"A courtship gift." Lan Zhan's face and voice barely changed as he spoke. He looked down at the two guqin and spoke so softly that Wuxian could hardly hear him.
"What?" Wuxian asked, not sure if his ears were deceiving him.
"I never properly courted you or made my intentions clear. Keep it. It is yours."
"Eh?" Wuxian blushed and waved his hands about at Lan Zhan's straightforward use of the phrase my intentions. "Don't you think it is a bit late for that, Lan Zhan? And besides, you don't really have to give it to me. I was just teasing you. It's yours!"
"When we are married, what is mine will also be yours, Wei Ying."
A heartbeat, a breath, one long gaze into liquid metal eyes, and Wuxian was pushing both guqin out of the way and crawling into Lan Zhan's lap. By instinct, Lan Zhan's strong hands flew up to grip his hips, holding him firmly in place as Wuxian cupped his face in his hands.
He squished up Lan Zhan's cheeks in his hands, making the chiselled sculpture of a man look more like a porcelain cherub and marvelled that Lan Zhan let him touch him this way. He leaned down and fluttered a kiss to Lan Zhan's strong brow bone, then to the rosy tip of his nose, and then to each eyelid which fell shut when Wuxian's intention became clear. Lastly, he shifted his hands from Lan Zhan's warm face to his long dark hair and tangled his fingers in the cool tresses reverently.
Lan Zhan's hands gripped the fabric at Wuxian's waist as tightly as one gripped a sword in battle. Tension sung through his body like electricity and made the hairs on the back of Wuxian's neck stand on end just from his proximity. But his eyes remained closed and his face was relaxed and trusting.
Wuxian tried to press his lips to Lan Zhan with more care and precision than he had the first time, but nerves and inexperience led to a messy slide and smothering of hot breath and spit.
A shudder travelled through the beautiful god beneath him and Wuxian pressed in harder, tugging his hair tighter, until Lan Zhan folded for him like the crest of a wave against the shore. Wuxian licked into Lan Zhan's mouth fearlessly as though trying to devour his life breath. Lan Zhan groaned.
And then, in almost the same instance, the sliding door to Wuxian's room flew open with a crash that almost tore it from its frame. Wuxian pulled back, gasping for breath with a spit wet mouth, in time to watch the journey that Jiang Cheng's face travelled through as he took in the scene before him: confusion, disbelief, embarrassment, disgust, and anger. The anger stayed.
"What do you think you're doing!?" Jiang Cheng yelped. Lan Zhan unclenched his fingers from Wuxian's clothes and quickly pushed him from his lap. Wuxian fell to the floor in an ungraceful heap.
"Jiang Cheng! Knock first!"
"You shouldn't be doing something so indecent in the first place! In fact, I'm going to tell!" Jiang Cheng announced, pointing a finger in a threatening stab in Wuxian's direction.
"Tell? Tell who? Tell what?"
"I'm going to tell mother and father that I caught you defiling the honorable Second Master Lan before your marriage!"
With that statement, he swung around and vanished back the way he came. Wuxian blinked at the space he stood for a moment as Jiang Cheng's words tumbled around in his brain like a jangling money pouch before sticking together violently.
"No! Madam Yu will kill me," he shouted, jumping up, "and they'll tell Lan Zhan's uncle and he'll be sent home!" He paused to look back at Lan Zhan, who looked both startled and disheveled (what a sight to see). "Don't worry, Lan Zhan," he assured, raising three fingers in a promissory salute, "I'll catch up to him and convince him not to tell. Promise!"
He took off at a run and quickly caught up with Jiang Cheng as he stalked angrily down the hallway. Wuxian threw himself at Jiang Cheng's purple cloaked back.
"Jiang Cheng! Don't tell! I'll do anything!"
"Let go of me," Jiang Cheng spat. "I'm not going to tell. But you aren't a child anymore! You can't act without thinking of the consequences!"
"Consequences?" Wuxian repeated, letting go. "From kissing? Maybe if it was someone who wasn't my fiancé…"
"And what if someone else had interrupted you? Mother, or Lan Wangji's uncle?" Wuxian shuddered at the thought. "Or someone who doesn't know about the engagement?"
"Gossip would cause our clan to lose face," Wuxian admitted, toeing the ground.
"You need to grow up. You need to think before you act, before you embarrass two clans at once!"
"Why are you being so mean!?" Wuxian exclaimed. It wasn't that Jiang Cheng hadn't yelled at him in the past, told him off, scolded him and boxed his ears, but he'd never been so mean about it. It wasn't what he said, but the way he spat and hissed it like it hurt to even speak the words. "Why are you so mad at me lately? All you do is yell and scold and glare. You glare at Lan Zhan so hard sometimes I think you might set him on fire! You're my brother! Why can't you be happy for me!?"
Wuxian heaved, having worked himself up into a frenzy. His arms shook and his hands clenched in fists. Jiang Cheng was still standing stiff with a frown etched into his face. But he spoke in a softer tone when he did speak again, "You said you'd be by my side when I became Sect leader. But now you're leaving too and I'll be left behind."
"What? I'm not leaving," he denied, realizing that Jiang Cheng's anger was, in fact, more jealousy than hatred. "Didn't you listen during all those talks today? Lan Zhan and I will be splitting time between our Sects. I'll still be here all the time. I'll be here so often annoying you that you won't be able to wait until I leave."
"It will be different. How can you say nothing will change. It already has. You spend all your time doting on him."
"Do you want me to dote on you?" Wuxian reached out and smoothed down Jiang Cheng's hair and patted over his arms.
"I want you to promise things won't change!"
"Well, I can't! When I am married by first duty will be to my husband. You know that! What, did you expect me to be single forever and stay by your side like a servant?"
"Yes! I did! I was here first! What has he done to deserve your loyalty? How many times have I protected you from dogs or from bullies or from shaming yourself? Who was it who would help you down from trees when you got stuck? Why do you cling to him and abandon me?"
"Abandon?" Wuxian gasped and gaped, "I would not abandon you!"
"Would you cancel the wedding if I asked?" For once, Jiang Cheng's voice was soft. His question was not.
Wuxian reeled as if he had been slapped. The fire in Jiang Cheng's eyes burned him, licking flames over his skin and scalding his skin. He imagined the look on Lan Zhan's face, the hurt in his eyes, if he denied their engagement now. Nevermind that it would hurt their Sect's relationships and reputation to back out after an agreement had been made, it would hurt Lan Zhan and it would hurt him to do so.
But, if Jiang Cheng requested it of him, how could he refuse?
"You are the future Sect leader. Your family is the reason I am alive today and able to be married at all. I owe this clan and this family everything. And, what is more, you are my brother who I care for dearly. If you ask this of me, I would of course agree," Wuxian paused to take a shuddering breath and look up at Jiang Cheng. He was blurry to look at, and Wei Wuxian realized that at some point he had started crying. "But, please, Jiang Cheng, I am begging, do not ask. Please do not ask that of me."
"And deny my own brother his happiness? Do you think me so cruel?" Jiang Cheng asked, his fists unclenching to grasp at Wei Wuxian's shoulders and give him a shake. "I know I am jealous and angry and envious and I am not the brightest or strongest of our siblings three, but I'd have to be both blind and a fool not to see how happy that Second Jade Lan Wangji makes my air headed elder brother seem."
"Jiang Cheng," Wuxian warbled, diving forward to grapple him into a hug.
"Shut up," Jiang Cheng grumbled, patting at his armful of sobbing sibling. "Besides, it's too late to back out without losing face. And, I'm pretty sure that for all you are a bad influence on him, Lan Wangji is a good influence on you and hopefully will teach you some sense of responsibility and grace."
"I'm graceful!" Wei Wuxian protested, pulling away to pout.
"You have the posture of a drunken chicken."
He and Jiang Cheng teased each other the whole time it took to walk to the other side of the household where Jiang Cheng's sleeping quarters were. It was the same room they had shared as young children before Wei Wuxian had been deemed too old to share the space and moved to the complete other side of the hall, the farthest possible position away. He had no doubt this had been done purposely by Madam Yu in order to minimize his influence on her actual child. Naturally it hadn't worked and had only resulted in one or the other sneaking out to sleep in the other's room each night.
They no longer slept that way, unless Wei Wuxian found himself trapped in the thralls of a particularly bad nightmare, at which point Jiang Cheng was likely still to find him sneaking into his bed. That too would change soon. Soon Wuxian would have someone else to turn to. He wouldn't have to sneak into another bed to find someone to calm his fears. He would have Lan Zhan by his side already. It was at that point he realized he had left Lan Zhan in his room and rushed to wish Jiang Cheng goodnight.
Lan Zhan was gone by the time he returned to his room. It wasn't surprising, since it had to have been nearing nine by that point. But what did surprise was the strangest sense of emptiness that lingered in his room where it seemed Lan Zhan ought to be. Left behind, instead, lay a long black guqin placed with care on Wuxian's bed. Wei Wuxian leaned down to press his lips to the darkened wood.
That's about as hot and steamy as this particular fic will get. Lol
Chapter 5: An Announcement
Two dates and wedding and a third wheel.
Lan Zhan didn't stay at Lotus Pier long each time he visited, and he also didn't visit as frequently as Wei Wuxian would have liked, but he visited when he could. The excuse they gave was so that Lan Zhan could become more comfortable with the Sect he was joining (since Wuxian had had an extended stay to become familiar with Gusu) and to practice the composition they were creating for his Shijie's wedding gift. Both these things were technically true, but Wuxian didn't think they were fooling anyone into thinking it wasn't just because they wanted to spend as much time together as possible. "You have the rest of your lives to be attached at the hip," Jiang Cheng was fond of reminding him whenever he got the chance.
Despite their (Wuxian's) best efforts, they rarely found themselves with any privacy. Lan Zhan often found himself dragged into conversations on policy and diplomacy with Wuxian's Uncle Jiang. And, when they were granted time to relax together, Jiang Cheng had taken it upon himself to appoint himself their chaperone and made sure to follow them wherever he could.
Which was how Wuxian found himself wandering about a nearby town on what was supposed to be a date with his fiancé with his younger brother watching them like a hawk and constantly inserting himself into their conversations. It was hard enough to get Lan Zhan to carry on a conversation in public at all without a third party butting in to interrupt and it made Wuxian wish that he knew the secret to the GusuLan muting spell. He made a mental note to make sure that it was the first thing he learned when he was officially a member.
He turned to tell Lan Zhan as much, when he felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned back towards the source and promptly screamed. A grotesque mask filled his vision startling him with its proximity and ugliness. He stumbled back a few steps and Lan Zhan caught him by the arm, his hand gripping Bichén in reflex despite their being no real threat.
Laughter spilled from behind the mask and it was pulled away to reveal a mirthfilled Nie Huaisang who quickly replaced the mask with a fan.
"You!" Wuxian sputtered, upset at having been caught off guard and confused at Nie Huaisang's appearance.
"He got you so good!" Jiang Cheng crowed, smacking him on the back.
"What are you doing here?" Wuxian asked Nie Huaisang, pouting a bit and thoroughly ignoring Jiang Cheng.
"I was nearby for a night hunt with Elder Brother and decided to take some time to explore the town and shop. Imagine my surprise to hear a familiar voice in the crowd! What brings you two, and …" he paused, seeming to notice Lan Zhan for the first time and stuttering over his words. He straightened his spine to bow to Lan Zhan. "... Second Master Lan...Hello. What brings you here?"
"Visiting," Lan Zhan said, answering his bow with a slight head nod and barely a glace.
"Visiting me!" Wuxian piped up, proudly pointing to his own puffed up chest. "I told you we were close. And you didn't believe me!" Wuxian pouted. To prove his point he grabbed Lan Zhan's hand in his and swung their arms back and forth vigorously just as he had done back in the Cloud Recesses the first morning after their engagement. Lan Zhan didn't roll his eyes, because that would have been undignified, but the intention was there in the way he looked at Wuxian.
"We are blocking the road, we should move on," he said instead of chiding Wuxian for trying to dislocate his shoulder joint, and used their conjoined hands to pull him forward. He didn't let go of his hand.
As they moved on they noticed the street getting thicker with people until it became so congested they could barely move.
"What's happening? What is everyone looking at?" Jiang Cheng called out.
The answer came in the form of falling petals. It seemed that there was a beautiful woman who lived in a flower garden like a fairytale queen and who would only let those who impressed her with poetry pass. She was said to be the most beautiful sight to see. Nie Huaisang and Jiang Cheng both stood on their tiptoes to try to catch a glimpse over the crowd. Lan Zhan looked up to gaze at the falling petals. Wei Wuxian looked at Lan Zhan.
"What do you think, Wei-xiong?" Nie Huaisang asked from behind his fan. "Should we try to sneak a glimpse? I fancy myself a poet, you know."
"Go if you like," Wuxian replied, not turning to look, "I am content with the beauty before my eyes."
Nie Huaisang turned to follow his line of sight and gasped a bit. Wei Wuxian could certainly empathize with that gasp, as he was finding it hard to catch his own breath. Lan Zhan was, by very definition, breathtaking. He stood still as a temple buddha with fair and noble features etched like fine pottery from polished stone. The soft afternoon light pooled around his profile like it was greedy to touch his skin. The petals that fell landed softly in his silken hair like untouched snow on frozen seas. To look at him now stirred a fire in Wuxian's breast and closed his throat with unspoken words.
"I see what you mean," Nie Huaisang agreed with an awestruck murmur. "He certainly is a beauty. It is no wonder he is considered one of the most eligible bachelors in the cultivation world.
"Not for long," Wuxian bragged.
"Huh? What do you mean by that?"
"What I mean is that…" Wuxian paused in his gloating when his eyes caught a flash of brown low to the ground and his ears picked up the distinct sound of a harsh yipping noise. He yelped, "Dog! Ah, dog! Dog!"
He quickly dashed over to where Lan Zhan stood, shattering the serene atmosphere that surrounded him, and ducked behind his back to hide. The dog, thinking that they were playing a game, happily followed after him.
"Lan Zhan, protect me!" He ducked his head down to hide against Lan Zhan's shoulder and squeezed his eyes shut. He would have covered his ears to block out the barking but his fingers were clenched too tightly in the fabric of Lan Zhan's clothes.
"Wow, you weren't joking back then when you said you were afraid of dogs," Nie Huaisang mused, coming over to them and the dog. Jiang Cheng followed.
"Why would I joke about that!?" Wuxian wailed, glad that the dog seemed reluctant to jump towards Lan Zhan's imposing figure.
"Wei Wuxian, you really have changed," Jiang Cheng teased. "You used to hide behind me when there were dogs." He turned to face Lan Zhan. "Protecting Wuxian from dogs is a trusted position. You better take this honor seriously, Second Master."
Wuxian grumbled and stuck his tongue out at Jiang Cheng. He didn't like it when someone other than him teased Lan Zhan, even if the things he said were technically true. Practically his entire life Jiang Cheng had protected him from any dogs they encountered. And yet, in this moment, he hadn't even thought to call out to him. His body had instinctively moved to Lan Zhan, trusting him implicitly to protect him.
Lan Zhan looked down at the dog by his feet and, in an absurdly grave and serious tone, vocalized one word, "Shoo."
The dog scampered off with a whine and his tail between his legs. Jiang Cheng's laughter could be heard two towns over.
Their next date was much more formal. His Shijie's wedding to the Peacock arrived in a flurry of red silk. She looked like the most beautiful shining jewel the way she glowed with happiness. Wei Wuxian made sure to tell her this several times over. She was the third most beautiful person in the universe , he told her.
"Third?" Shijie asked while Jiang Cheng sputtered.
"After me and Lan Zhan, of course!"
Jiang Cheng had chased him around the room while Shijie laughed in delight until Madam Yu had kicked them out of the bridal chambers saying that it was inappropriate for men to be present anyway and especially such rowdy, shameless, immature, embarrassing ones such as her son and her "borrowed trouble." Which, as far as insulting nicknames went, Wuxian kind of liked as a title.
Biased opinion aside, it was true though that Lan Zhan outshone the rest of the party. Since white was considered a mourning color and not appropriate for weddings, the entire GusuLan Sect were dressed in shades of silver and pale blue with white used only as an accent color in their beautiful cloud patterning. Lan Zhan was wearing blue. Wuxian was also wearing blue.
Having ditched his red accents so as to not distract from his Shijie's red, he'd decided that black or grey would be too stark for such a joyous event. He donned himself in a rich midnight blue robe with purple accents. Jiang Cheng wore dark purple from head to toe.
Wuxian joked that with himself, Lan Zhan, Jiang Cheng, and Shijie they just needed to steal one of the Lanling Jin sect members who wore mostly gold and copper tones and borrow a member of the "sun" clan and they would have a full sunset sky of colors.
Nie Huaisang pouted at having been left out, wearing silver and gray. Jiang Cheng rolled his eyes. Lan Zhan creased his eyebrows together like he was trying to picture the image Wuxian was painting. After a moment he added, "Elder Brother would be the clouds." Lan Xichen was dressed in silver with white clouds.
"Exactly right!" Wuxian clapped, happy that Lan Zhan was playing along.
"You two really are perfect for each other," Jiang Cheng grunted.
They all took their spots for the wedding ceremony and Wuxian winked at Lan Zhan from across the hall. Lan Zhan glanced at his brother briefly and, finding him facing away, winked back.
Wei Wuxian's eyes widened in complete disbelief. Lan Zhan's face was passive stone again a half breath later and Wuxian started to think that maybe he had imagined the wink completely. He looked around wildly to see if anyone else had noticed the complete miracle which had occurred. To his dismay, they were all facing the front to watch the proceedings and Jiang Cheng elbowed him to get him to pay attention too. And, after that, he couldn't take his eyes off his Shijie. He wasn't ashamed to say that he teared up, especially since Jiang Cheng cried too.
"Will you cry at my wedding?" Wuxian asked him as they sniffled together.
"Cry from joy that you'll be someone else's problem," he answered and they laughed through their tears until they choked.
After the wedding they mingled and chatted and even played nice with the Wen clan. Wei Wuxian was disappointed to see that Wen Ning hadn't attended and made a mental note to make sure he and his sister were given a direct invitation to his wedding. He was sure that Lan Zhan wouldn't mind.
He walked over to Lan Zhan to say so but didn't get a chance to. The moment he reached Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan grabbed him by the wrist and tugged him briskly through a side door into a small auxiliary room which Wuxian hadn't even known was there.
"What?" Wuxian blurted as his back hit a wall, "Lan Zhan?"
Lan Zhan silenced him by covering his mouth with his own. His strong sure hands latched on to Wuxian's hips and pressed him further into the wall, Lan Zhan's own body caging him with a wall of heat. Wuxian moaned helplessly, having to force his mouth away in order to breathe.
"Lan Zhan! First a wink in public, now this? How bold you are being today. What has gotten you to act this way?" Wei Wuxian put on his most flirty tone in order to try to regain control of the situation, least he embarrass himself by making it obvious that Lan Zhan's forcefulness had made him a bit weak-kneed.
"The next wedding will be ours," Lan Zhan answered, sounding equally out of breath. Wuxian felt that this was an incredibly good look on Lan Zhan and also an incredibly dangerous one… at least for his own sanity. He wished he could paint a picture, go back a few months to the week they had met and show it to his past self saying "one day Lan Wangji will look at you like this." He doubted he would have believed himself.
"What did I say about being more appropriate in public?" The voice of an irate Jiang Cheng burst through the warmth of their closeness and caused Wei Wuxian to snap his head around towards the door so suddenly that it almost hurt.
"Why are you always ruining my fun?" Wuxian asked, pouting. Lan Zhan stepped back and straightened his robes, then straightened Wuxian's for him.
"You have to get back out there and play nice. They are about to announce your engagement."
"Really!?" Wuxian clapped and then tugged on Lan Zhan's sleeve. "Lan Zhan let's go!"
All three of them hurried out to take their seats just as food and drink began arriving. Various people stood and spoke and presented gifts to the newlywed couple. When Uncle Jiang stood he first addressed Wuxian's Shijie, then afterwards he addressed the crowd.
"I also have some pertinent news, if you would allow me the place to say so," he said. When no one disagreed he continued, "It is not often that a man can celebrate the wedding of one child and get the honor of also announcing the engagement of another. My young Wei Wuxian, my dear A-xian, is and has for a length of time now been engaged to the GusuLan Sect's Lan Wangji." Some people didn't bother to hide their shock or, in some cases, disgust. Some even went so far as to lean towards their neighbor and whisper gossip. Wuxian raised his chin up higher.
"It is a very fortunate engagement and we could not be more pleased for the pair," Uncle zjiang continued, undaunted. "We plan to hold the celebration soon and will be sending out invitations shortly...as they are both very eager to hurry up and have the ceremony." There was scattered laughter but most of it sounded as though it was affected for the sake of being polite. "If only I could find a match for my youngest son and I could hurry up and die happily!" This time the majority of the laughter was genuine.
"Father!" Jiang Cheng hissed under his breath in outraged embarrassment.
"And, now, the two young men in question, Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji, would like to come forward to play a song they composed for the occasion as a gift to the newly wedded couple."
He gestured for them to come forward and takeover his position at the front of the room. Wuxian pulled out his flute as he stood and walked. Lan Zhan met him at the front with his guqin. His Shijie smiled at them. Nie Huaisang fainted.
We r getting near the end of this fic. But don't worry I have many more ideas for this fandom/ship and I've already statted writing a one-shot I am working on.
Chapter 6: A Marriage
Its finally time!
I dont know barely anything about traditional chinese weddings. I mostly based thisboff what I have seen other people write in their fics haha.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The wedding unofficially began in Lotus Pier. Since it was impossible to be in two places at once, they had agreed to hold the ceremony and celebration in the Cloud Recesses. But in order to uphold YunmengJiang traditions, respects needed to be given to the ancestors of their Sect for the wedding to be official. And, those ancestors resided in the ancestral hall of YunmengJiang. So, not bothering to dress up, since only their immediate family was present, Lan Zhan came to Lotus Pier and they bowed together before the Jiang ancestors.
Wuxian's parents weren't put to rest there. But, Uncle Jiang had long since set up a place to honor them. Wuxian made it a point to come and pray to them often, as though they were really there, as though they could somehow hear him better when he bowed before their images.
He watched as Lan Zhan bowed low to the floor before them. He didn't remember much about his parents, but he liked to think that they would have liked Lan Zhan. He hoped that if they were looking down on them in that moment that they would have approved of him as a cultivation partner for their son. He hoped they were proud of him and happy for him. He hoped they were listening when Lan Zhan asked for their blessing.
He also hoped that they knew him well enough to know that he would have married Lan Zhan even without their blessing.
They traveled by boat to the city nearest to the Cloud Recesses, just as they had the first time. They spent the night at the same lodging that had been denied to them the time before and then walked the rest of the way together in the morning as one long wedding procession to the Cloud Recesses.
The train of people had set off at varied times with Lan Zhan at the front and placing Wuxian at the end so that they would not see each other dressed up until they arrived at the GusuLan ancestral hall to pay their respects. After which, they would move to the outdoor pavilion where the rest of the marriage would occur.
It was killing Wuxian to have to wait to see Lan Zhan dressed up in red. He twitched his lips and bounced on his feet. He tapped his fingers on his sword and tugged at his own ornate robes. He even rocked back and forth and whined like he had been made a victim of the muting spell. Jiang Cheng looked about ready to slit his throat. At least it would be hard to see all the blood on the red fabric, Wuxian mused as he received his glares.
"Don't be so restless, A-xian," Shijie chidded gently, reaching out to fret over his ceremonial robes. "You will ruin your clothes before your Lan Wangji gets to see you in them."
"I just have all this extra energy," Wuxian complained. "I just want to hurry up! This is taking so long!"
"It's normal to be nervous. But everything will go smoothly, I'm sure of it. You look so handsome!"
"I'm always handsome. And I'm not nervous. I'm anxious."
"How are those different?" Jiang Cheng asked.
"They just are! And you should be nicer to me today of all days! Shijie just called me handsome, but you haven't even told me nice things about my wedding robes. Madam Yu spent hours tugging at my hair to get it to twist like this. It hurt a lot and you haven't even complimented me once!"
"You look better than the mess you usually do."
"Stop it now you two," Shijie interrupted. "A-xian we are almost there. How about I distract you the rest of the journey with some news?"
"What news?" Wuxian and Jiang Cheng both asked in unison.
"I am with child. You will be an uncle soon, both of you!"
"What? Are you serious?" Jiang Cheng crowed.
"Shijie! That's amazing!" Wuxian cried, rushing to sweep her into a hug. They were both laughing.
"Gentle please," Jin Zixuan spoke for the first time since they'd started walking. Wei Wuxian had completely forgotten he was there. "You are the first two people we have told so we would appreciate your discretion."
"Ah ah, sure thing. I promise!" Wuxian assured him. He turned back to Shijie. "I can't wait to tell Lan Zhan!" Behind him the Peacock grunted sharply in betrayal and disgust.
"Tell him after the ceremony, you idiot," Jiang Cheng spat. "You can't just run over there right now!"
"We are there, now, anyway," Shijie noted.
"We're here!?" Wuxian yelped, spinning towards the front and found that they had indeed reached the GusuLan ancestral hall and that none other than Lan Qiren was standing just outside the door waiting for his arrival.
"Hello, Uncle!" Wuxian greeted him cheekily.
"I am not your Uncle yet, Young Master Wei," Lan Qiren corrected, as the rest of Wei Wuxian's wedding party slipped away to give them privacy. "And you shall not address me as such in public even after I become so."
"Yes, teacher Lan." He tried to peak around the stern figure in front of him to catch a glimpse of Lan Zhan inside the hall but was unsuccessful. "Am I in trouble?"
"Not yet. I wish to speak with you. So you will stand still and listen. Understand?" Wuxian nodded. "I have known that you were trouble since the first moment I saw you. Even before I met you, your reputation preceded you. But, I also have come to know that for all your trouble you bring, you also bring much happiness to Wangji."
"Thank you-" Wuxian started to say but was talked over.
"I am not finished. Lan Wangji's father was an ideal Lan student until the day he fell in love. Wangji's mother was as wild as they came and his father fell for her completely. He refused to see her as anything but perfect. He was an idealist and a romantic. And, I tried to keep them apart. I tried to lock her away and separate their love. I also tried to keep Wangji and Xichen from her influence.
"When she died, I realized that I had made a mistake in doing this. I swore, that day, that I would never make the same mistakes again. I would allow my nephews to follow their hearts and make their own choices. My interference would only cause the hurt that I so desperately wanted to protect them from.
"It is with this in mind that I have stepped aside to allow for this marriage. But understand this: I love that boy with all my heart and soul. So you better not make me regret this decision. You hurt him, and they will be unable to find your corpse or call for your soul after I am done with you. Do we understand each other?"
"Yes," Wuxian gulped.
With a nod, Lan Qiren stepped aside and, after one last nervous look at the terrifying man who was soon to be his uncle, Wei Wuxian entered the ancestral hall. Lan Zhan was already kneeling, waiting for his arrival.
For a moment, Wuxian forgot how to breathe. He stood frozen, staring. The Second Jade was a vision in ruby red. Lan Zhan looked like a painting. He looked like a sunset, like a gemstone, like kissed red lips.
Lan Qiren shoved him from behind and Wuxian stumbled inside. Lan Zhan looked up.
After they bowed to the ancestors, after Wuxian made promises to always protect and care for Lan Zhan to the ancestors of his clan, after Wuxian remembered how to breathe, they stood and walked together to the place they were to be married.
Their Sect leaders, their family, awaited them at the center of the room. Uncle Jiang was first to step forward. He addressed Lan Zhan only. Lan Zhan made promises solemnly. Uncle Jiang handed over a silver bell to be tied at the waist. Lan Zhan took it reverently and tied it to his wedding robes. The sight made Wei Wuxian catch fire.
The marriage ceremony and Wuxian's induction into the Lan clan happened together. The two traditions were tied together, woven together as one, tied, quite literally, by a pair of headbands. In order to marry in the GusuLan Sect one needed a forehead ribbon, and in order to have a ribbon one must marry into the GusuLan Sect. So, their wrists were tied together with two headbands. The first was Lan Zhan's, the only thing he had been wearing that was not splashed in red. The second headband was new; it belonged to Wei Wuxian.
He promised himself to the Sect, he swore to uphold the rules and traditions, and then he bound himself to Lan Zhan. They made a vow to their elders, their ancestors, their fellow cultators, to the heavens above, and, then, to each other. Afterwards, when Lan Qiren untied their wrists, they tied their forehead ribbons on each other. Wuxian replaced Lan Zhan's to its rightful place. Lan Zhan gently set Wuxian's into place for the first time. And then, it was finished.
Wei Ying touched his fingertips to his forehead in awe. He had never expected to have a ribbon of his own back when he had first climbed a wall and broken several rules. But now he did. And, now he was married. He was married to Lan Zhan.
He didn't stop grinning even when he started crying, didn't stop when they turned to face the cheering crowd, didn't stop when Lan Zhan held his hands in his and pressed a shy but yet bold kiss to the knuckles of his hands right there in front of their friends and strangers. His grin only widened when he pulled Lan Zhan out to the center to dance.
For someone who was usually quite graceful, Lan Zhan was an objectively terrible dancer. He was stiff and kept frowning down at the floor to watch their feet.
"Lan Zhan!" Wuxian giggled, "You are so bad at this!"
Patiently, Lan Zhan bore the teasing with a good natured hum and continued to let Wuxian drag him across the room. But, he did seem relieved when Wuxian's Shijie tore herself away from Jin Zixuan to steal Wuxian for a dance. After that Wuxian danced with anyone he could get a hold of. He danced with Jiang Cheng, who couldn't decide if he wanted to laugh or frown, with Nei-xiong, who hid a blush behind his fan, with Wen Ning, who seemed to be having the time of his life, and even with Wen Qing, who for some reason decided she was the lead and dragged Wuxian around until had to find an excuse to escape. He foisted her off on a suddenly very shy and nervous Jiang Cheng, making sure to give him a wink and a thumbs up when she wasn't looking.
"Playing matchmaker?" Uncle Jiang asked, startling Wuxian a bit.
"They make a good match don't you think?" Wuxian inquired, stepping away from the crowd to speak with his uncle. "Wen Qing is smart and doesn't put up with things she doesn't like. I think Madam Yu will like her!"
"Ah, but does our fiery Jiang Wanyin like her?"
"Oh, don't doubt it! I have a sense for these things!"
"Well, I suppose we will have to see if your premonitions come true. Though, let us hope, not quite as rashly and rapidly as your own romance. I don't think my heart could take it. Three marriages for my children in under a year would be bad for my health, and my wallet."
Wuxian laughed into his sleeve and felt a warm glow when his uncle leaned over and squeezed his shoulder.
"And where is your husband? I am surprised you let him out of your sight."
"Then you won't be surprised to know that I know perfectly where he is," Wuxian answered, still feeling fluttery at the use of the word "husband". "He is over there talking to his elder brother. I get him to myself all night; the least I can do is share him with Zewujun for a few moments."
"A-xian, your father doesn't want to hear about the things you plan to do with your husband on your wedding night."
With that, his Uncle dramatically covered his ears and stalked off to disappear into the crowd. Wuxian stared after him, wide-eyed. People who said that he got his dramatic flare and ridiculous sense of humor solely from his mother had clearly never seen his uncle when he wasn't being formal.
Shaking his head, Wei Wuxian turned and made his way back over to his husband.
"Hello, Elder Brother!" Wuxian greeted Lan Xichen enthusiastically, causing Lan Zhan's head to snap to the side to stare at him.
"Hello, Wei Ying," Lan Xichen answered, giving back as good as he got by using Wuxian's given name, a small smirk on his lips. Wuxian laughed. Lan Zhan tugged him to his side with an arm around his waist as though he had some reason to be jealous of his brother of all people.
"I was just telling Wangji that your new living space has been set up for you when you are ready to retire for the evening. I am sure you both must be feeling tired after such a long day of high emotions."
"Mnn," Lan Zhan hummed.
"Which means, 'I'm exhausted of having to pretend to be polite to people I don't know or care about and I want to be alone with my handsome new husband'. Am I right?" Wuxian translated with a smirk.
"I think you also forgot, 'but I will stay here regardless as long as Wei Ying wants me to since I do everything Wei Ying wants'," Lan Xichen added with a twinkle in his eyes.
Lan Zhan heaved a sigh and turned to leave them behind to tease him without him present. Wuxian laughed and grabbed his arm.
"Okay, okay. I'm sorry. I won't tease," he placated. "Let's sneak away when no one is looking, hm? Zewujun won't tell."
"I saw nothing," he confirmed, turning to walk away and swiftly join another conversation.
The doors of their new home within the Cloud Recesses were open to the night.
Lan Xichen had told Wei Wuxian that Lan Zhan had picked this place because it was the same home in which his mother used to live. Wuxian didn't know the full story, but he got the impression that Lan Zhan hadn't gotten to see her much growing up. He assumed that this place held fond memories for him. He hoped that they would make new fond memories there together.
The doors were open, and it had started snowing. The chilly night time wind whipped the snow into flurries and threatened to break inside. But neither Wuxian nor Lan Zhan were inclined to move from where they lay entangled in their bed.
Wuxian was draped quite happy over a warm and pliant Lan Zhan who stroked his hair as Wuxian pressed kisses into the skin at his neck and chin.
"We're married," Wuxian marvelled into the crook of Lan Zhan's neck, speaking out loud the words which had echoed through his head and heart the entire day and night.
"Mmn," Lan Zhan agreed in a hum of content.
"You are mine," Wuxian whispered.
"You are mine," Lan Zhan echoed. It was additive, not corrective. They belonged to each other.
Wuxian leaned up to whisper directly into Lan Zhan's ear, hoping to invoke a reaction, "My husband."
And a reaction he received. Lan Zhan moved suddenly and rolled them over in the sheets, flipping their positions completely. He pinned Wuxian down firmly and kissed him hard.
"Husband," Lan Zhan whispered against his mouth, his voice deep and rasping. Wuxian felt warm to the tip of his toes.
"I like you Lan Zhan," he whispered like a secret.
"I like Wei Ying."
"You know, even though we are married, I will still tease you a lot."
"Wei Ying would not be Wei Ying if he did not tease."
"So you admit you like it when I tease you."
"I like you," Lan Zhan said evasively.
"Don't worry," Wuxian promised, "I will tease you everyday. But in turn, you have to kiss me everyday. Promise?"
Instead of answering, Lan Zhan leaned down and kissed him.
"Is that a yes?"
"Yes. Everyday. I love you."
"Lan Zhan!" Wuxian turned his head to try to hide his face in the pillow at Lan Zhan's bluntness. Lan Zhan kissed his neck.
"Marry me," Lan Zhan requested. Wuxian blinked. They were already married. That had been the whole point of today. His confusion must have been clear because Lan Zhan hurried to continue, "Marry me again."
"Ah," Wuxian exhaled understanding. His Lan Zhan really was a romantic at heart. "Alright, okay, Lan Zhan." He pulled Lan Zhan even closer to him, until they were pressed together at every corner and edge, their heartbeats tapping a rhythm in time as one. "I will marry you everyday for the rest of our lives," he promised, "and in the next life I will find you and marry you there too."
And that is the end!
Thank you for all thr love and support it has been truely heartwarming. Your comments and kudos and bookmarks have made me so happy.
I have a racy one shot coming up soon (its basically done).
And I am working on an angsty sad what if someone ELSE died mini fic.
And then I have another canon divergence fic in the pipeline. ^_^