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A Wedding For The Ages

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“This is all your fault.”

“Jiang-xiong, I didn’t know it would do that!”

“I don’t care, this is literally all your fault.” 

Honestly, Wei Wuxian agreed with Jiang Cheng wholeheartedly; and with his brother busy berating Nie Huaisang, at least that meant that his attention was far away from Wei Wuxian. After all, while it had undoubtedly been Nie Huaisang who had tried to copy down the array that he'd seen in the book, it had been Wei Wuxian who had stolen the book from the restricted section of the Lan Sect library to begin with.

Of course, that had been a result of a dare from Nie Huaisang, so maybe they really could put the sole blame on him.

“I didn’t know it would do this,” Nie Huaisang complained, pouting slightly. “It said it was supposed to give us a glimpse of the future!”

“Well it hasn’t actually done anything, except for throwing us to the other end of the Cloud Recesses, and forcing us to walk back up this whole way.” 

“Do you think it was some sort of transportation talisman?” Wei Wuxian mused out loud. “And if so, why hide it away in some dusty old library? Why not actually use it?” 

“I just wanted to see the future,” Nie Huaisang said, his shoulders slumped. “That would have been so cool, don’t you think?” 

“Actually, I’d like to go back to my room and wash all the dirt off my back from falling on my ass.” 

“Aww, Jiang Cheng, don’t blame Nie-xiong just because you have terrible balance.”

“That thing just threw us on the floor! It just dumped us in some random part of the Cloud Recesses — I don’t even know the point of that.”

They were making their way from one end of the Cloud Recesses (and wow, this was an agonisingly large place) back to their dormitories. The array, which they had all assumed would give them a quick peak into the future — Wei Wuxian didn’t know how that was supposed to work, and the book didn’t go into much detail, but he assumed it would be something like an illusion, or perhaps do something to their minds — obviously hadn’t worked. That, or Nie Huaisang had messed the design up, which…honestly, wouldn’t be surprising.

All it had done was dump them miles away from their rooms, sprawled on the ground, and wondering what the hell had just happened.

“Return that book when we get back to the room,” Jiang Cheng told him. “Seriously, if we get caught with it, they would probably expel all of us — well you for sure, which might not exactly be a bad thing…”

“Hey!”

The three of them glanced up, and saw an unfamiliar Gusu Lan disciple walking towards them. His eyes roamed over them, frowning slightly. 

“What are you doing over here?” he asked. Wei Wuxian opened his mouth to reply that they were guest disciples here, and that they had just happened to be taking a nice, leisurely stroll as far away from their rooms as possible, because there nothing strange about that. The man’s eyes flickered briefly over all three of them, and then he seemed to focus on Jiang Cheng for a moment. “Ahh, you’re here for the wedding, aren’t you?” he asked. “You’re quite early.”

“The wedding?” Jiang Cheng repeated.

“Hanguang-Jun and the Yiling Patriarch’s!”

They all stared blankly. 

The man huffed. “Anyway, it’s best you don’t scatter yourself this far away from everyone else. One wedding, and the whole place is already in complete chaos…”

Wei Wuxian glanced around at the quiet, serene surroundings of the Cloud Recesses, and decided that this man needed to make a trip to Yunmeng if he thought that this was chaos. 

“We’ll be going then,” Nie Huaisang said quickly. The three of them walked off, all exchanging glances. 

“Someone’s getting married?” Jiang Cheng murmured. “I don’t remember hearing about that. Who did he say again? Hanguang-Jun? It’s obviously a title, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone with that name. And who was the other person?” 

“Some guy from Yiling. It’s really not important,” Wei Wuxian said dismissively. “Who cares if there’s a wedding? It'll probably be as boring as the rest of this place." His eyes suddenly lit up. "Hey, do you think they’d give us the afternoon off from classes if there’s a wedding here?” 

“It is rather strange, though,” Nie Huaisang said, looking slightly contemplative. “It’s not often that they hold weddings here, and if they do, it’d probably be for a member of the main family.”

“And?”

“Well, that’s highly unlikely, since the only members of the main family eligible for marriage are Lan Xichen and Lan Wangji.”

Wei Wuxian let out a loud snort of laughter. Lan Zhan, getting married? Even the thought was ridiculous. Somehow, he simply could not imagine Lan Wangji getting dressed up in red, and bowing down to some pretty young maiden…no, he was more likely to become a monk.

“It must be his brother then,” Wei Wuxian said, remembering the First Jade of Lan. He had looked so much like Lan Wangji it was almost disorientating.

“Xichen-ge isn’t getting married,” Nie Huaisang argued. “My brother is a close friend of his, surely he would have said something! And anyway, I don’t know who Hanguang-Jun is…”

Jiang Cheng let out a groan, and picked up his pace. “Does it really matter? Let’s just go back to our rooms. We have classes soon, and Teacher Lan already hates Wei Wuxian enough.”

“Hey!”

They walked in silence for a while. The quiet was only exacerbated by the overall stillness of the Cloud Recesses, and Wei Wuxian found himself itching to say something. He opened his mouth, and then his words trailed off as a familiar voice reached his ears.

“Do you think we could try that book again?” Nie Huaisang mused aloud. “Perhaps I made a mistake and that’s why it didn’t work…”

“Don’t you dare!” Jiang Cheng snapped. “Seriously, just leave that thing alone. Or otherwise, try it again when I’m not around!”

“Oh, but Jiang-xiong, what if I do something wrong? I don’t want to try it by myself!” 

“Just take Wei Wuxian with you, he’s always doing stupid stuff anyway…”

As they bickered amongst themselves, neither Jiang Cheng nor Nie Huaisang seemed to notice that Wei Wuxian had separated from them. They continued to walk forward, while Wei Wuxian dashed quickly in the opposite direction. They were close enough to the main part of the Cloud Recesses now, and it wasn’t like he was overly worried about being late to classes. Lan Qiren already hated him. He had heard a very familiar voice though, and he wasn’t leaving until he had confirmed that he wasn’t imagining things.

Although, if he really had heard what he thought he had, then he couldn’t for the life of him figure out why his Shijie would be here. 

He rounded the corner, hiding behind a nearby bush. There was a woman standing a short distance away, something cradled in her arms. She was draped in rich gold fabrics, and it took Wei Wuxian a moment to realise that this was Jiang Yanli. He stood still, his lips parted in shock, as his sister giggled and cooed at the thing she was holding.

What was going on? Wei Wuxian opened his mouth to call out to her, but then another voice drifted over, and then there was the Peacock, marching over in all his pompous glory.

They were wearing the same colours, Wei Wuxian realised with a start. His sister was wearing the colours of the Jin Sect. 

Yes, he really didn’t like this at all.

“I can’t believe they’re actually getting married,” Jin Zixuan said. 

“You say that as if you were expecting this,” Jiang Yanli shot back, her voice light and teasing. Wei Wuxian had never heard her sound so comfortable around him before. He knew his Shijie had feelings for the Peacock, but she had always been so shy and nervous around him. It had always made Wei Wuxian so angry, because his sister should never have to watch herself around anyone. Shijie deserved the world.

Jin Zixuan snorted. “I don’t even think that they were expecting this.”

How were they suddenly so familiar with each other? And how did they know these people? He was pretty sure that Jiang Yanli had never mentioned having any friends from Yiling, and he had never even heard of a 'Hanguang-Jun' before. And he had read Jiang Yanli’s most recent letter to him, and she hadn’t mentioned anything about attending a wedding. Surely she would have asked to meet with him and Jiang Cheng if she was visiting.

He was so preoccupied with these thoughts, that it took him an almost embarrassing amount of time to realise that there was something very off about this picture, more so than just the sight of the Peacock acting overly familiar with his sister. When he finally realised what it was, it took him another moment to convince himself that he wasn’t hallucinating.

Both Jiang Yanli and Jin Zixuan looked older. They had to be in their twenties, perhaps early to mid; and that was impossible, because they were both still teenagers. His Shijie was only two years older than him, and he had seen her just a few months ago before leaving for the Cloud Recesses. There was no way she could have possibly changed this much in only a few months.

Jiang Yanli peered down at the thing bundled in her arms, and smiled gently. Beside her, Jin Zixuan eyes shone with utter adoration.

No, not a thing. A person. A baby.

His sister was holding a baby, and she was dressed like a Jin, and she looked older, and Jin Zixuan had just wrapped his arms around his Shijie, and how DARE he do that?!’ 

He was about to storm over, and — and he wasn’t quite sure what he would do yet, but it would probably end with the Peacock on the floor nursing some sort of broken bone. He would deserve it, because just who had given him permission to touch his Shijie?!

But then the full implications of the current situation hit him, and he remembered the actual function of the array that Nie Huaisang had supposedly messed up. A peak into the future…

…Well, perhaps it had given them more than just a little peak.

As he stared at these older, horrifically domestic versions of his Shijie and the Peacock, as Jin Zixuan leaned over to give her a kiss on the cheek, and Wei Wuxian felt bile building up in his throat, he realised that this was very, very bad.

It took Jiang Cheng and Nie Huaisang a while to realise that Wei Wuxian was no longer with them. The two exchanged exasperated glances, and tried looking around for him.

“That idiot,” Jiang Cheng grumbled, when it was clear that there was no one nearby. “He’s really pushing it, isn’t he? We’re going to be late to classes as it is.”

“I don’t think Wei-xiong really cares about getting in trouble,” Nie Huaisang pointed out.

“Yes, but really, he should realise that it reflects badly on our Sect! He’s our Head Disciple…” Jiang Cheng shook his head, and let out an annoyed huff. “Anyway, it doesn’t matter. Let’s just start making our way back, I’m sure he’ll catch up soon enough.” 

Or he wouldn’t, and Lan Qiren would throw a fit and make Wei Wuxian spend even more time in the Library Pavilion with Lan Wangji. Honestly, as much as much as Wei Wuxian whined and carried on, Jiang Cheng suspected that he genuinely enjoyed the time he spent with the younger Lan. And Lan Wangji looked like a blank wall on a good day, so it was hard to tell if he was suffering or not. 

The two of them continued to walk for a while longer, drifting closer to the edge of the forest that bordered the Cloud Recesses. They were closer to the main part of the Cloud Recesses now, and they recognised where they were. They had expected the place to be as quiet as usual, especially since classes would still be going on, and yet there seemed to be a considerable amount of people bustling around, and looking more frazzled than either of them had ever seen anyone from Gusu look.

“I guess it’s for the wedding,” Nie Huaisang said, though he still sounded confused. If it was for the wedding, why make such a big deal for two people that neither of them had even heard of before? 

“What did he say their names were, again?” Jiang Cheng asked, his brow furrowed. “Hanguang-Jun and…the Yiling Matriarch?”

“Patriarch,” Nie Huaisang interjected. “It’s a man, I think.”

“What, they’re cut-sleeves?” 

“I guess so…”

The two exchanged bewildered glances. Honestly, how had they not heard about a huge wedding held in the Cloud Recesses for a pair of cut-sleeves? Surely the news would have been all over Gusu if that were the case.

“Whatever,” Jiang Cheng groaned at last, running a hand through his hair. “This has nothing to do with me.”

Nie Huaisang pouted slightly. Unlike his friend, he would very much like to know more about this. Perhaps even sneak into the wedding, because who didn’t love a good celebration? Though he was hardly dressed for it, he supposed.

The two of them were mostly ignored, with everyone too busy to pay much attention to two random guest disciples. They rounded the corner, and caught sight of a young child, giggling as he sat on the grass and cuddled a small rabbit close to his chest.

Both Nie Huaisang and Jiang Cheng came to abrupt stop, and stared. It wasn’t that there weren’t any children in the Cloud Recesses — obviously the younger disciples had to come from somewhere — but they were kept in a separate area, and neither had really seen any of them roaming around. 

The child was dressed in a fancier version if the typical Gusu Lan clothing, most likely because of the wedding. He wasn’t wearing a forehead ribbon, but that was most likely because of his young age; the child couldn’t have been older than three or four.

The child placed the rabbit on the floor, and giggled loudly when the little animal hopped back over to him. He was the most liveliest thing they had ever seen in the Gusu Lan clothes, that was for sure. The child glanced up, and his eyes widened when he caught sight of them. Swiftly, he scooped the rabbit up in his arms, and toddled over.

“Grumpy Uncle!” he cried, coming to a stop beside a startled Jiang Cheng. “Grumpy Uncle, look, my bunny!”

Jiang Cheng gaped. Nie Huaisang let out a snort of laughter.

“Uh…look kid, I’m not — I think you have the wrong person here…” He shot Nie Huaisang a furious glare when it didn’t look like he was going to stop laughing.

The child lowered the bunny, and pouted. “Grumpy Uncle doesn’t want to see A-Yuan?”

“I’m not Grumpy Uncle!”

The child — A-Yuan — cocked his head to the side, frowning slightly. “Not…Grumpy Uncle?”

Jiang Cheng shot his head vehemently, his cheeks red.

The child hugged the rabbit to his chest, his lower lip sticking out in an exaggerated pout. “Okay then.” He shuffled closer. Jiang Cheng backed away. “You’re purple like Grumpy Uncle.”

Jiang Cheng’s eye twitched. God, he really didn’t know how to handle children.

Nie Huaisang crouched down, smiling. “Lots of people wear purple,” he told A-Yuan. “And you’ve got some really nice clothes yourself!”

The child puffed his chest out, looking proud. “A-Die got them for me,” he said. “For A-Die and A-Niang’s wedding!”

Nie Huaisang blinked. “You mean…the wedding today?”

The child nodded, beaming widely. “Yes! A-Niang is marrying A-Die, and A-Yuan and everyone is going to come and live here! And A-Yuan gets to be part of the Gu — gu — ” His face scrunched up slightly. “The Gusu Lan Sect!”

“That sounds very nice, A-Yuan,” Nie Huaisang said, smiling cordially. Jiang Cheng watched from behind him, eyeing A-Yuan like he was a wild animal, and wondering how the hell Nie Huaisang could talk to the child normally.

“Wait, I thought this was a cut-sleeve wedding,” Jiang Cheng said suddenly.

“What’s a cut-sleeve?” A-Yuan asked, looking confused.

“Two men, who are in a relationship,” Nie Huaisang told him. Jiang Cheng shot him an irritated glare, because he didn’t want to be standing around explaining how relationships worked to some random kid. 

“Oh,” A-Yuan said, still looking confused. “A-Die is a man, and A-Niang is a man.”

“Your A-Niang is a man,” Jiang Cheng repeated flatly.

“A-Niang is A-Niang! And you look just like Grumpy Uncle!”

Jiang Cheng’s eye twitched. He turned to Nie Huaisang, and yanked on the back of his outer robe. “Come on, let’s go,” he said. “We’ve been here long enough.”

“Should we really leave him here alone?” Nie Huaisang mused.

“He obviously lives here. If his parents let him play here alone, he’ll be fine.”

“I have lots of uncles!” A-Yuan said, beaming excitedly. “Uncle Ning, Grumpy Uncle, Goat Uncle, Peacock Uncle, Smiling Uncle — ”

“Let’s go,” Jiang Cheng urged.

“ — Uncle Four, Uncle Five, Uncle Six, Uncle Seven — Uncle Ning!” And then the child was taking off down the path, the rabbit still clutched in his arms. Jiang Cheng let out a sigh of relief, and tugged Nie Huaisang away. He dragged them closer to the forest’s edge, and ducked behind a tree.

“Are you seriously hiding from a child right now?” Nie Huaisang asked, amused.

“He was driving me insane,” Jiang Cheng snapped. “Why do children talk so much — oh god, here he comes again.”

“I thought he was cute,” Nie Huaisang murmured, his eyes moving back to the place where they had previously been standing. They could hear A-Yuan’s excited chatter, and another voice, quieter and more gentle, accompanying him.

“ — And I saw someone who looked just like Grumpy Uncle! He even looked really grumpy!”

Jiang Cheng’s eye twitched.

“A-Yuan,” the other voice said, obviously belonging to an adult, “you shouldn’t have run off like that. Look, you’ve got dirt all over your good robes.”

“But A-Niang and A-Die have to look pretty today, because everyone wants to see them,” A-Yuan argued. “No one will be looking at A-Yuan.”

“Yes, but everyone spent so much time making you look nice for today…”

They came into view, A-Yuan now happily sitting on the shoulders of his companion, the rabbit perched on the man’s head. And well, the only reason Jiang Cheng and Nie Huaisang didn’t scream in that moment was because of the utter shock they were feeling.

The child was perched on the shoulders of a fierce corpse. A talking, completely sentient fierce corpse. A fierce corpse who was carrying out a conversation right now.

“Oh my god,” Nie Huaisang said, blinking rapidly. “I…oh my god.”

Jiang Cheng shook off his shock, and his hand reached for his sword. “We need to go and do something,” he said, his voice panicked. “That stupid kid is just — ”

“I think we’ve time travelled!” 

Jiang Cheng and Nie Huaisang both whirled around, looks of alarm on their faces. Jiang Cheng came close to whipping out his sword, and shot Wei Wuxian a furious look when he saw that it was he who had come up behind them.

“Guys, you won’t believe what I just saw!” Wei Wuxian cried, his eyes wide. “Shijie and the Peacock were here, and — oh my god, what is that?!” 

Nie Huaisang slammed a hand over Wei Wuxian’s mouth. “Shh!” he hissed. “He might hear us!” He  was so relieved that Jiang Cheng had dragged them to a hiding spot before they had shown up.

“Why is there a child sitting on a fierce corpse’s shoulders?” Wei Wuxian demanded, panic in his gaze. “And — wait, is it…is it talking?” 

“A-Yuan, your rabbit is very cute,” he fierce corpse said, his voice gentle. The three of them gaped. 

“Okay, what the fuck.”

“I don’t know, okay,” Jiang Cheng hissed. His hand was still hovering over his sword, but most of this alarm had been replaced with confusion. It didn’t look like the corpse was actually going to do anything. “That child just showed up, and god it was annoying and then — and then that thing showed up. I don’t even know what to call it.”

They shot another glance back. The corpse had yet to notice them, still chatting softly to the child. They could hear the sound of another voice arriving, female this time,

“A-Yuan! There you are! A-Ning, bring him here — look at your clothes, A-Yuan! You’re a mess!”

“I wanted to play with my bunny!” A-Yuan said, cuddling it close. “Look how cute it is!”

A woman came into view, her arms perched on her hips, a stern expression on her face. “You need to go and get changed,” she told him, her voice firm. She turned to the corpse, and started talking to it as if it was the most normal thing in the world to do.

“A-Ning, have you seen that idiot anywhere? I think he’s tried to sneak out to see Hanguang-Jun again.”

The fierce corpse blinked. “Is he dressed yet?”

“How should I know?! And now his brother is running all over the place trying to find him — honestly, they’re getting married today, I don’t see why they can’t spend a few hours apart.”

“They’ve barely been able to stay apart since they got engaged,” the corpse said. “I’m just glad they’re happy.”

“Of course you are. A-Yuan, come on, let’s get you cleaned up…”

Their voices drifted off as they walked away. Jiang Cheng, Wei Wuxian and Nie Huaisang stood where they were, still gaping.

“Okay, what the hell,” Wei Wuxian said at last, his voice slightly weak. “That — why was there a talking fierce corpse? Is that supposed to be a normal thing here?”

“Here?” Nie Huaisang repeated, sounding confused. “Do you mean in Gusu? I don’t think that’s a normal thing anywhere, Wei-xiong.”

“No, not…” Wei Wuxian shook his head, and made a quick gesture with his hand for his friends to follow him. “Come on. I need to talk to you guys about something, and we really shouldn’t be standing around here in case someone sees us.”

Wei Wuxian dragged them over to a nearby building, his eyes flickering around rapidly, nervous about being seen by other people.

“You’re suddenly very concerned about being caught,” Jiang Cheng said flatly, as he walked at a hurried pace to keep up. 

“In here,” Wei Wuxian said, pointing to a set of large doors. The three of them walked inside, and closed the doors behind them. They found themselves in a large hall, very elaborately decorated for a place in the Lan Sect. Rows of chairs had been laid out, and long tables stretched across the room.

“What are we doing here?” Jiang Cheng asked, looking around.

“Here? No idea. This was the closest place that I could find.” Wei Wuxian walked over and threw himself onto one of the chairs. “We can’t let anyone see us.”

Jiang Cheng ran a hand through his hair, looking slightly frustrated. “Why? What exactly is happening here, because this has been a very strange day.”

“Well,” Wei Wuxian said, “I’m fairly certain that we’ve time traveled.”

Nie Huaisang and Jiang Cheng both stared at him.

“…Very funny, Wei-xiong,” Nie Huaisang said at last. “Really though, what do you think is happening around here? Should we maybe…tell someone about that fierce corpse we saw?” He sounded slightly nervous as he said it.

“No, really! Hear me out! So, that array you copied out — what if it actually transported us to the future?”

“What, you figured all of that out on your own?” Jiang Cheng asked, rolling his eyes. “The only thing that stupid thing did was toss us to the opposite end of the Cloud Recesses.”

“Yes,” Wei Wuxian agreed, “and suddenly all of this strange stuff is happening. Some big Lan guy who we’ve never heard of before is getting married, there’s a talking fierce corpse and everyone is acting like that’s somehow normal, and, oh, Shijie and the Peacock are just casually hanging around with a baby in their arms.”

Jiang Cheng let out a loud splutter, his eyes wide. “What did you saw about A-Jie?!”

“She was with the Peacock! And they both looked old, like they were maybe in their twenties — and Shijie was holding this baby, and they were both just cooing at it, and looking all gross and — and the Peacock was being way too familiar with her!”

“Did you punch him?!” 

“So not the point here, but no, even though I definitely thought about it.”

“Imagine if we really have traveled to the future,” Nie Huaisang murmured, sounding slightly awed. “I could go and meet my future self! Maybe I’m even married…”

“I am never getting married,” Wei Wuxian declared. “And no, we can’t let anyone see us — we could accidentally mess up the timeline. We need to make sure no one sees us…ugh, I can’t believe Shijie had a baby with the Peacock.” 

“Maybe it isn’t her baby,” Jiang Cheng said quickly. “Maybe…maybe she was just holding it for someone.”

“She was wearing Jin Sect colours, Jiang Cheng.”

“Maybe she just really likes gold!”

Nie Huaisang frowned slightly. “Isn’t your sister engaged to him?” he asked. “You knew she would marry him someday.”

“I try not to think about it too much,” Jiang Cheng muttered.

“Honestly, I’m hoping Shijie realises that she’s way too good for him,” Wei Wuxian said, his shoulders hunched. “Ugh, I can’t believe she actually marries him.”

“Well, maybe they aren’t married.”

“Nie-xiong, just what are you insinuating about our sister?!”

“Nothing, nothing!”

They all sat around for a while, lost in their own thoughts. Really, this was all a huge mess. Jiang Cheng was still sceptical, though Nie Huaisang and Wei Wuxian were fully on board with the idea of time travel. Of course, that brought up the dilemma of how they were going to get home, something no one really had an answer for. 

“We’re going to get expelled for stealing that book,” Jiang Cheng said flatly. “I knew this was a bad idea! And say that you’re right here — and I’m not saying you are, because this all sounds like some big prank that you’ve come up with — how exactly are we going to get home again?!”

“Hmm, I guess we could try and steal the book again?” Wei Wuxian mused, his chin resting on his palm, and his legs swinging back and forth. “Or maybe this would even wear off on it’s own — ”

They all jumped when they heard the sudden sound of voices from outside of the room. They exchanged wide-eyed, alarmed glances.

“Over there!” Wei Wuxian whispered, jumping to his feet. The three of them hurried to the end of the room, and ducked under a table at the back of the room. They huddled under it, mostly hidden by the long table cloth that covered it.

“Great,” Jiang Cheng muttered, glaring. “Just great.”

The door opened, and the sound of footsteps filled the empty room. Wei Wuxian, Nie Huaisang and Jiang Cheng shuffled forward, trying to get a better look while still remaining out of sight. Lan Qiren stood a short distance away from them, accompanied by another man who they soon recognised as the First Jade of Lan.

“ — and he’s gone and snuck out again. Does he have no shame!? Xichen, this man is marrying into our sect - we’ll be the embarrassments of the cultivation world!”  

“Uncle, calm down.” Lan Xichen sounded amused. “He is simply enthusiastic.”

“They’re getting married soon! Why can’t they just wait?!”

“Well — ”

“And I don’t just mean today! I — I have honestly had enough. They can’t even put up silencing charms at night!” 

“Uncle, I’d rather we don’t talk about this right now…this is supposed to be a happy day.”

“What the hell?” Jiang Cheng murmured. 

“This is not a happy day, Xichen! This is a nightmare! My nightmare! Please send him back to the Burial Mounds, the two of us simply cannot coexist in the same place!”

“Uncle, really, now you’re being overly dramatic…”

“The Burial Mounds?” Wei Wuxian repeated incredulously. “How much does he hate this person?” 

“Keep your voice down or they’ll hear us!”

“I’m being quiet, okay?!”

Lan Qiren and Lan Xichen continued to chat between themselves, oblivious to the three teenagers hiding at the back of the room. Jiang Cheng, Wei Wuxian and Nie Huaisang all settled in their places, waiting for them to leave so that they could get the hell out of there.

Except…they didn’t leave. They stayed where they were, Lan Qiren looking like he wanted to kill someone (or himself) and Lan Xichen looking like he was incredibly happy, but trying to look sympathetic for his uncle’s sake.

And then more guests started pouring in. People that they had never seen before, and then other people who they definitely knew very well. They were barely able to hide their shock when Jiang Yanli stepped into the room, a small bundle cradled in her arms.

“I told you so!” Wei Wuxian whispered to Jiang Cheng, whose horrified gaze was trained on the man who had just wrapped an arm around their sister's waist.

“Why is he touching her like that?” Jiang Cheng demanded, glaring at an oblivious Jin Zixuan.

“I’m pretty sure they’re married,” Nie Huaisang said.

“Shut up!” 

The door opened again, and in came the fierce corpse. A woman walked beside him, A-Yuan perched in her arms. As the three of them watched the scene with incredulous eyes. It was obvious that no one else seemed to find this remotely strange. The corpse received a few wary looks from the people around him, but no one seemed to object to his presence, or have any sort of normal reaction, like trying to destroy him.

Basically, it was very, very strange. 

“A-Qing! A-Ning!” Jiang Yanli said, walking over with a beaming smile on her face. She then proceeded to hug the woman, and then hugged the corpse, as if it were a perfectly normal thing to do. She did so while still holding her little baby in her arms, not even caring that it was a few inches away from a fierce corpse. The three of them gaped. 

A-Yuan pouted. “And A-Yuan!”

Jiang Yanli laughed. “Yes, and A-Yuan! You’re looking lovely today, aren’t you!”

“Mm!” A-Yuan said, nodding quickly. “Want to look pretty for A-Niang and A-Die!”

“And how is Jin Ling?” The other woman asked, her eyes focused on the baby. 

“He’s well,” Jiang Yanli said, smiling down at the child who Jiang Cheng and Wei Wuxian, much to their displeasure, had realised was almost certainly her child. “He’s still quite fussy at night, but I suppose they all go through that phase.”

“Makes sense that he’d be a bit spoiled considering who his father is.”

“Oh my fucking god,” Wei Wuxian whispered, while Jiang Cheng’s eyes bugged out.

“A-Cheng!” Jiang Yanli said, her smile growing as she turned to the man that had just walked over. Standing there, decked in the purple robes of the Jiang Sect, was an older versipon of Jiang Cheng. “There you are! I was looking for you.”

“That’s me,” Jiang Cheng said, his eyes still wide with shock. “I — oh my god, that’s me.”

“I told you we had time travelled,” Wei Wuxian said smugly. 

“Grumpy Uncle!” A-Yuan cried, reaching out excitedly. Older Jiang Cheng let out an amused huff, and reached out to take the child into his arms.

“Oh my god, you are Grumpy Uncle,” Nie Huaisang said, sounding delighted. Jiang Cheng was too busy staring in shock at the scene in front of him to even express any annoyance at that. 

They continued to look around the room, taking in everything that was happening. 

“Look over there!” Nie Huaisang cried, pointing. His friends were too preoccupied with the occupants of the rapidly filling room to tell him to be more discrete. “That’s me! And Da-ge!”

Yes, towards the other end of the room stood an older Nie Huaisang, who had obviously used this wedding as an excuse to get dressed up. He was chatting with Nie Mingjue and Lan Xichen. Nie Huaisang’s eyes widened in delight, and he leaned forward, excitedly studying every detail of his future self.

“What the hell?” Wei Wuxian said, his voice slightly indignant. “Where am I? Seriously, was I the only person not invited to this thing?!”

His eyes flickered around the room, but as time passed, it became evident that his future self was nowhere in sight. He pouted. That was so unfair. Even the Peacock was here, now standing disgustedly close to his precious Shijie again. Jiang Cheng’s future self was talking to the Peacock and actually looking comfortable while doing it.

‘Traitor,’ Wei Wuxian thought.

The guests all drifted over and started to take their seats. The three friends huddled in their hiding place, and resigned themselves to the fact that they wouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon. 

“I couldn’t find him,” older Jiang Cheng was telling to Jiang Yanli, with some annoyance in his voice. “Seriously, that idiot needs to stop sneaking out everywhere. I just hope he actually got dressed, or he’s going to be late to his own wedding.” 

Jiang Yanli giggled. “Oh A-Cheng, I’m sure it’s fine. A-Yuan, come on, your parents will be coming soon.”

The child let out an excited cry, bouncing slightly in Jiang Cheng’s arms. 

“I wonder who’s getting married?” Nie Huaisang mused, looking around the room. “It’s got to be someone from the main family of the Lan Sect…wait, I can’t see Second Master Lan anywhere here.”

“Lan Zhan? You think Lan Zhan is getting married?” Wei Wuxian let out a surprised laugh. “As if that would ever happen! No, it’s probably someone else…”

And then the doors opened, and the grooms walked in. Both were draped in red, and both looked magnificent, but Wei Wuxian found his eyes drawn to the one standing on the left. Tall, broad-shouldered and muscular, and somehow even more handsome with the years that had passed. Wei Wuxian hadn’t even thought that was possible, and yet here Lan Wangji was, looking like a god straight out of the Heavens. He barely registered that his jaw was hanging open.

“Oh…” he murmured, watching as Lan Wangji ducked his head slightly, a soft look in his eyes as he watched his companion. Wei Wuxian had never seen Lan Wangji look at anyone like that. Certainly not him. Not that he cared if Lan Wangji looked at him like that, but he did consider the other boy a friend, and Lan Zhan didn’t really seem to like him very much most of the time…

“Oh my fucking god,” Jiang Cheng said, sounding a mix of shocked and horrified.

“I know, right?” Wei Wuxian said, because obviously Jiang Cheng was acknowledging how mind-numbingly beautiful Lan Wangji looked right now.

“This is happening, right?” Jiang Cheng choked. “You’re seeing this, right?” 

“I’m seeing this,” Nie Huaisang said, sounding way too excited. 

“I’m definitely seeing this,” Wei Wuxian agreed, his eyes still glued to Lan Wangji. The gold accents on his wedding robes brought out the gold in his eyes, and oh, he looked amazing. Wei Wuxian felt something clench in his chest, and he wasn’t sure why. 

“Since when were you a cut-sleeve?!” Jiang Cheng demanded, his voice slightly hysteric.

“What?!” Wei Wuxian’s head whipped around. “I’m not a cut-sleeve!”

“Then how do you explain that?!”

Wei Wuxian frowned in confusion, and turned back to where Lan Wangji was standing. All he could see was Lan Wangji, looking utterly amazing as he made his way to the front of the room, and the guy he was marrying, who Wei Wuxian realised he still didn’t know. Who could possibly be worthy of Lan Zhan? His eyes flickered to the man, taking in the striking red of his robes, his elaborate hair and beaming smile, and felt his heart clench painfully.

He didn’t know why. He should be happy, if Lan Zhan had found someone he loved enough to marry. Someone he loved enough to look at with that look in his eyes. He didn’t know why he felt like there was a lump in his chest, or why there were tears stinging his eyes.

“He looks so beautiful,” Wei Wuxian muttered bitterly, his eyes glued to Lan Wangji’s soon-to-be-husband. 

Jiang Cheng turned to him, his expression slightly incredulous. “Just how vain are you?”

“What?” 

“You — ” Jiang Cheng’s jaw dropped open. “You do know that’s you, right?” 

“Huh?” Wei Wuxian’s eyes snapped back to where the couple were now making their way to the front of the room. Lan Wangji’s companion, what’s-his-name-from-Yiling looked handsome and elegant, his hair pulled up in an elaborate up-do, his robes making him look rich and sophisticated in a way that Wei Wuxian, with his messy locks and plain black clothes, had never been able to pull off. And maybe that was why he hadn’t recognised himself in the person standing beside Lan Wangji, gazing back at the man with a look of utter adoration in his eyes.

But here he was, walking side-by-side with a man who looked like the closest thing to a god that Wei Wuxian had ever seen. Wei Wuxian felt his heart beat wildly, felt his mouth dry, and his cheeks heat up, as he realised, ‘Oh my god, that’s me. I’m marrying Lan Zhan.’ 

He watched, unable to tear his eyes away, as the wedding proceeded; as his older self and Lan Wangji completed their bows, as they served tea to their families; as the little boy still perched on Older Jiang Cheng’s lap jumped up and down and asked his A-Niang to carry him. Older Wei Wuxian complied with a delighted laugh, holding the boy close despite the admonishing glance Lan Qiren shot him. Lan Wangji leaned closer, tucking a stray strand of hair behind the boy’s ear, his expression gentle.

“He called him A-Niang,” Wei Wuxian heard Jiang Cheng mutter, sounding horrified.

Wei Wuxian couldn’t even bring himself to look away from the scene in front of him. Him and Lan Zhan, getting married. Him and Lan Zhan, husbands, with a son, and — oh god, why did that just sound so nice? Why did he actually want that so badly? He and Lan Zhan were just friends, right? 

Right? 

“Does no one find this the slightest bit weird?!” Jiang Cheng demanded.

“No,” Nie Huaisang said, his eyes focused on the scene in front of him. He looked delighted. “No, not at all. I actually saw this coming.”

“What? How could you possibly have seen this coming?!”

“Wei-xiong is always talking about Lan Wangji.”

“And Lan Wangji hates him!”

“Well…clearly not.”

“He doesn’t hate me,” Wei Wuxian murmured, a smile tugging at his lips. “He does want to be my friend.”

Jiang Cheng shot him an incredulous glance, and Nie Huaisang let out an amused sigh.

“Wei-xiong, I think he wants to be a lot more than just friends.”

Wei Wuxian’s smile grew. “I guess he does.” He didn’t know exactly what to think about that, or how to even start to approach it, but…the thought didn’t scare him or make him uncomfortable. Strangely, it seemed almost natural.

The wedding continued, and the three of them remained in their hiding spot, waiting for everyone else to leave. Eventually, the newly married couple would walk off to do whatever it was couples did after their wedding (when Wei Wuxian mused about this out loud, Jiang Cheng shot him a withering glance), the guests would taper off, and the the three time travellers would finally be able to leave. 

Eventually, they would have to figure out how the hell to get out of this place (and luckily, it would turn out that the effects of the array were only temporary, and they would soon be taken home without much effort on their part). And Wei Wuxian would try to sort through the whirlwind of emotions rushing through him, as his thought process turned from, ‘Lan Zhan is my friend,’ to ‘Oh my god, I have feelings for Lan Zhan.’

For now though, they were still stuck under that table, still trying to process exactly what they were seeing. They would be there for a while.