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When Wei Wuxian reflects, he thinks he can pinpoint the moment that having a child of his own body became a want, an echoing ache, deep in his stomach.

They’re on a brief visit to Lotus Pier having assisted in a large scale, inter-sect night hunt the previous day. Wei Wuxian finds himself transfixed in the middle of the busy market avenue. Off to the side, between two stalls, a couple is relaxing with their young child. 

The woman is heavily pregnant, and both her husband and child have an ear pressed to her belly. The father perks up and guides the child’s hand to where the baby must be kicking. The woman has one hand pressed at the top of her belly. The other is buried in her husband’s hair. 

It is an extraordinarily intimate scene to witness.

Wei Wuxian thinks about everything he missed during Jiang Yanli’s pregnancy while he was exiled in the Burial Mounds. 

He thinks about being the last of his line.

Sizhui is perfection and his son in totality. But a deeper, more instinctual and biological part of him still yearns. What wouldn’t he give to have and hold a blend of himself and Lan Zhan: a child with golden eyes and a flashing smile.

----

“Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying pants, “Lan Zhan, put a baby in me.”

Wei Ying says a lot of things during sex, with varying success. This one sticks. 

Lan Wangji finds himself gasping; he wants.

He grabs Wei Ying’s hips tightly, too tightly, and pushes until his groin is flush with Wei Ying’s. He gets as close as he physically can and grinds. He wants to crawl inside Wei Ying and lay in his heart.

In his mind’s eye. Lan Wangji sees Wei Ying ripe with their child, belly distended, glowing with happiness and satisfaction. 

He wants a child with Wei Ying. One they can raise together.

He gets other, briefer flashes. He sees himself holding a toddler. The child’s warm weight is easy and comforting. Then he’s guiding a young girl onto Bichen . Her arms wobble for a brief moment before she steadies. He presses a kiss to an adult woman’s cheek, red veil pulled to the side. Both of them are have tears in their eyes. It’s a happy occasion.

As he shudders through orgasm, he wishes for grey eyes.

----

It becomes a favorite play of theirs. Lan Wangji runs his hands over Wei Ying’s flat stomach, spanning his narrow waist with his hands, thumbs touching.

Sometimes Wei Ying won’t let Lan Wangji pull out. Instead he hitches his legs around Lan Wangji’s waist and squeezes tightly, limiting his movement. “Lan Zhan, stay,” he pleads, “stay in me.”

One time Lan Wangji pulls away to fetch a damp cloth to clean them with and when he returns he finds Wei Ying fingering Lan Wangji’s come back inside. Wei Ying catches his look of lust and responds with a cheeky grin. “I didn’t want to spill a drop.”

Lan Wangji rushes to Wei Ying’s side, pulling his fingers free and replacing them with himself, suddenly renewed and achingly hard.

----

Once, Wei Wuxian feels a curious and warm tingling in his low in his abdomen, almost a back ache. It feels like Lan Zhan has settled inside him.

He’s less desperate and clinging during their next everyday.

----

Wei Ying takes more naps. They’re longer and seem more like they satisfy a genuine need rather than an afternoon’s idle indulgence.

“Sorry, Lan Zhan. I don’t know what came over me.” He stretches, spine curling and jaw popping as he yawns, before flopping back down.

Lan Wangji comes to the edge of the bed, pushing Wei Ying’s bangs out of his face and cupping his cheek. 

Wei Ying still looks fatigued. There are purpling smudges under his eyes. It reminds Lan Wangji of a darker time, a time when Wei Ying was deeply consumed by resentful energy. Lan Wangji remembers Wei Ying’s tired and worn appearance as he sat across from him in a Yiling teahouse. Wei Ying had barely slept, barely eaten during those months.

Lan Wangji feels worried.

“Sleeping okay?” he asks.

“The usual,” Wei Ying says, meaning he was up half the night tinkering. “I’ll try to get more sleep tonight.” His mouth opens wide as he is overcome with another yawn. Lan Wangji gets a view of his back teeth and pink tongue. Wei Ying shifts, curling around Lan Wangji’s back, to nuzzle at his hip.

----

Wei Wuxian rakes his fingers through Lan Zhan’s hair, pressing his face into Wei Wuxian’s chest. 

With the pleasure comes a curious pulling sensation. Wei Wuxian finds himself mentally reaching, stomach flipping, as Lan Zhan licks and sucks at Wei Wuxian’s nipple.

Then he’s coming, coming undone.

They’re both stunned.

Lan Zhan’s whole chest is covered in ejaculate, expression shocked and open. His eyes are wide; his lips are red and wet. 

And Wei Wuxian can’t help but break into a giggling fit.

It takes a long moment for the surprise to fade and for Wei Wuxian’s laughter to catch. Soon Lan Zhan is reduced to sympathetic giggles.

Their teeth clatter together as they kiss.

----

Lan Wangji feels disparate pieces coming together to cause concern.

Wei Ying’s naps continue. Usually Wei Ying is excitable and sharp during night hunts. Lately he seems tired and a little foggy. Sometimes he loses track of the instructions he is giving the juniors. Sometimes this occurs mid sentence. Sizhui comes to Lan Wangji to confess his concerns.

It’s more worrisome when Lan Jingyi does the same the following week.

Then there’s the nipple sensitivity, which has been shockingly and delightfully reproducible. Lan Wangji thinks Wei Ying’s areola may have gotten darker, but perhaps it is just a trick of the light.

Wei Ying also seems to be more desiring. His reactions to pleasure are bigger. He comes quicker but also longer. And harder. 

Lan Wangji is at the beginning of a handjob, just starting to pick up speed and pressure, when Wei Ying orgasms. Come flies all the way up to his cheek and coats his neck and collarbone. Lan Wangji gentles his hand and strokes him through the aftershocks. He continues coming for nearly two full minutes. 

Lan Wangji’s belly flares with heat. Wei Ying looks amazing, caught in a wordless, shaking pleasure.

It is also disconcerting.

Wei Ying quivers and gasps. A couple breaths later, he regains enough of himself to speak. “Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan. Holy fuck. I’m still coming. How is this possible?” He writhes, pulling Lan Wangji’s hand off of him, apparently over-stimulated. “Fuck. Just...fuck.”

He continues twitching for another minute, weakly pulsing onto his belly and into his pubic hair. He stays hard, which is also unusual.

It is as stunning as it is hot.

There’s also Wei Ying’s new sensitivity to smell. Wei Ying's stomach has always been ironclad; Demonic Cultivation requires it. Recently, most strong scents seem to turn Wei Ying’s stomach. If he’s lost his tolerance for corpses, that seems reasonable.

But when Wei Ying rushes outside to vomit in the grass when Lan Wangji serves him his favorite fish dish - richly decorated with chili oil and aromatics - Lan Wangji gets concerned. Unease settles in his chest.

Wei Ying’s nausea is so great that he has begun willingly eating Cloud Recesses’ typical fare without complaint. This he still nibbles, but it’s better than being wildly nauseous in the presence of his favorite foods. 

Wei Ying appears to be gaining weight despite eating less.

It’s time to see a healer.

----

“I don’t need to see a healer!” Wei Ying throws his arms up and then out to the side to emphasize his point.

Lan Wangji steps closer. “You do.”

Wei Ying clutches his head, mussing his hair. “I feel fine!”

“You do not.” He takes another step closer.

Lan Wangji’s stance softens and pulls Wei Ying into a hug. It’s awkward with his elbows still up, but Lan Wangji presses his face into Wei Ying’s hair, where his fingers are tangled. 

Softly, he confesses. “I am worried.”

And Wei Ying deflates, argumentative spirit leaving him. He brings his arms down to return Lan Wangji’s hug, nodding sheepishly into Lan Wangji’s chest.

----

They return to the jingshi in a daze, still reeling from the diagnosis.

A baby.

A baby borne out of their combined desire to have a child. Lan Ping, the healer, was right. It is miraculous.

Lan Wangji breaks the rules and climbs into bed, pulling Wei Ying in beside him. They hold each other long into the afternoon.

----

Few days later they’re on a night hunt when Lan Wangji realizes there are several more factors they’ll have to consider about their life now that Wei Ying is pregnant.

He thinks about all the risks they took over the last four months and he blanches. Wei Ying could have been hurt or lost the baby at any time. 

They’ll have to have many painful conversations before Lan Wangji will feel that Wei Ying is safe enough. They’ll have to have fights about what their life will look like with a child. 

Wei Ying won’t compromise his freedom and Lan Wangji can’t lose him.

----

A few days after Lan Zhan returns to the jingshi with a perfect cradle and a beaming older brother, Lan Qiren finds out.

Wei Wuxian is relaxing under his favorite tree, just daydreaming and stroking his stomach with his thumbs, when Lan Qiren approaches.

Wei Wuxian popped about a week earlier, finally shifting from weird chub into recognizably pregnant. Wei Wuxian has taken to wearing Lan Zhan’s outer robe. It’s more billowy cut hides his new curves from the casual observer. The temperature is still cool enough that his change in attire doesn’t attract much suspicion. It’s not the first time Wei Wuxian has worn Lan Zhan’s clothes.

They haven’t sorted out how to tell people. Aside from Lan Ping, Sizhui, and Xichen, no one knows. Though, it is likely Jingyi knows. He’d been very suspicious after their night hunt right after they found out they were pregnant. Just before Wei Ying popped, they’d taken a disappointing trip to Yunmeng. Jiang Cheng’s comments about his weight gain, while true, had been hurtful.

So, it’s extra tender when Lan Qiren storms over to criticize Wei Wuxian’s eating habits.

“Eating more than three bowls is prohibited,” he recites, tone as frustrated and dismissive as it ever is when addressing Wei Wuxian.

“What?” Wei Wuxian is too shocked to formulate a more comprehensive response.

“Eating more than three bowls is prohibited,” he repeats. He’s standing over Wei Wuxian with one arm ceremonially bent behind his back. Wei Wuxian recognizes the Lan stance of Unassailable Dignity.

Wei Wuxian blinks up at him, brows coming together in confusion. He’s still having trouble keeping meals down. What’s this about three bowls? Wei Wuxian wonders.

Lan Qiren stares at him until his eyes track meaningfully downward, glaring at Wei Wuxian’s hand over his belly.

Oh, oh, of course.

“Uhhh, it’s not what it looks like.”

Lan Qiren raises his eyebrows and waits for Wei Wuxian to explain himself.

Wei Wuxian sighs. He inelegantly gets to his feet. His center of gravity has shifted, removing all grace from Wei Wuxian’s movements. “Let’s find Lan Zhan. I’ll let him explain,” he says and starts moving towards the residential quarter of Cloud Recesses. “You’ll like it better from him.”

----

He does not like it better from Lan Zhan. 

He even summons Lan Ping to come to the jingshi to confirm. Seeing three, serious faces makes Lan Qiren’s own face lose color as realization sinks in.

He must have looked close to fainting because Lan Ping rushes to his side, one hand taking his pulse, the other feeding him spiritual energy. When color returns to Lan Qiren’s cheeks, he curtly thanks the healer for his time and dismisses him.

Wei Wuxian feels hot and nauseous, but he doesn’t want to take off the over robe and allow Lan Qiren to see him better.

It’s one of the worst days Wei Wuxian has ever experienced in Cloud Recesses, including the time he was expelled.

----

Wei Wuxian is lazily riding Lan Zhan when he feels a strange fluttering in his guts.

“Ah! Lan Zhan,” he braces both hands on Lan Zhan’s chest, “stop.”

But Lan Zhan must think Wei Wuxian is egging him on and begins thrusting harder, hoping to topple Wei Wuxian over the edge. At any other time, Lan Zhan’s reaction would be the favored one. We’ll have to work out a way to request a genuine halt, Wei Wuxian thinks to himself.

And then Lan Zhan’s cock is hitting Wei Wuxian just right. He’s distracted from his internal sensations and finds himself coming spectacularly a handful of perfect thrusts later. Lan Zhan continues to lazily push into him until Wei Wuxian settles in his lap, trying to catch his breath and limit Lan Zhan’s movement. 

“Wait,” he calls, “wait, wait. I think I felt the baby move!”

Lan Zhan freezes, horror coming into his features, as though he fears that he could be hurting the baby. He tries to lift Wei Wuxian, but only succeeds in thrusting deeper. 

“Aiya, don’t worry Lan Zhan. I asked Lan Ping. Sex is safe, even if the baby is active.” Wei Wuxian laughs.

Lan Zhan does not look reassured, still panting. He shifts, trying a different strategy, when Wei Wuxian feels the strange movement again. Wei Wuxian grabs Lan Zhan’s hand and brings it low on his stomach. A smile splits Wei Wuxian faces, eyes curving and creasing at the sides.

“Here! Do you feel her?” He shifts Lan Zhan’s hand a little to the left.

Lan Zhan eyes are wide. He shakes his head no, no moment. Not yet anyway.

----

Lan Wangji is thrilled. He’s looking forward to feeling their child move. Lan Wangji has been watching Wei Ying slowly expand, but in many ways the pregnancy still doesn’t feel real to him.

Instead Lan Wangji reaches out with his other senses. He can feel their child like a kindling fire, small but steady. It’s enough to warm his spirit.

----

Wei Wuxian plops down beside Lan Zhan on the veranda. He’s borrowed Lan Zhan’s outer robe again. 

“So, do we want to tell people? Or rather, people outside of our family?” Wei Wuxian asks. He wiggles until their sides are pressed together. He lays his head on Lan Zhan’s shoulder and Lan Zhan shifts to hold Wei Wuxian.

Lan Zhan looks out, over the swaying bamboo. He gives an imperceptible shake of his head.

“No,” Wei Wuxian sighs. “Yeah, me neither.” He starts fiddling with the ends of his ponytail.

This year’s Cherry Blossom Conference is in Lanling. They’ll have to figure out a way to disguise the changes in Wei Wuxian’s appearance.

Lan Zhan must be thinking the same, for he turns to Wei Wuxian and fingers the collar of his own robes. There’s a questioning look in his eye.

----

The oversized robe works. Or seems to work. With the exception of Jin Ling, who must actually be growing up and learning something about becoming a Sect Leader. He confronts Wei Wuxian privately over tea.

Shedding a robe has never felt so liberating. Wei Wuxian had been roasting alive in Lanlintai’s warmer weather. 

But, more than that, he’s been chafing under the deception. It feels wonderful to tell his nephew and have Jin Ling’s clear - if baffled - acceptance.

----

It’s a difficult decision, but they decide to continue keeping Wei Ying’s pregnancy private. Safety takes first priority. A smaller but more pressing part of Lan Wangji wants to treasure their miracle, as though sharing it would make it less special.

Wei Ying takes a leave of absence as a lecturer and acting Senior. They hear from Sizhui and Jingyi how disappointed the rising junior disciples are. 

Much to Lan Wangji’s amusement and his Uncle’s frustration, the legend surrounding Wei Wuxian in Cloud Recesses is unbearably positive. They know he is the fearsome Yiling Patriarch, transmigrated into the delicate form of Mo Xuanyu. But none of them were alive during his dark years, and his recent actions have considerably rehabilitated his image in the wider Cultivation world. 

There’s also the matter of his political positioning. He’s been re-inducted into the YunmengJiang Sect, married the second Jade of Lan, is the uncle to the Jin Sect Leader, and is close friends with the Nie Sect Leader. He is untouchable.

And Lan Wangji would fight anyone who implies otherwise.

----

Also, a large part of Wei Wuxian’s popularity is due to the stories the senior disciples tell to the juniors. A night hunt with Wei Wuxian is sure to be fun, exciting, and, best of all, informative.

So, Wei Wuxian withdraws from general life in Gusu. He sticks to the Clan’s residential area and the back mountain. He infrequently makes it to the library and the Cold Springs, but only during unusual hours. On rare occasions, he sees a disciple in the distance, their eyes begging to know what he’s been up to, where he’s gone.

Occasionally, Wei Wuxian feels Lan Qiren’s eyes on him. Wei Wuxian can’t make out his expression.

----

Wei Ying thinks it’s a girl based on absolutely no evidence.

Lan Wangji studies texts in the library. When he questions Lan Ping, the healer only shrugs.

“There are hundreds of rumors thought to predict a baby’s sex,” he explains, “but I’ve never heard of a reliable method. It’ll be a surprise.”

When asked, Wei Ying says, “I keep imagining a girl, so call it a hunch. Or,” he winks, “maybe call it a wish!”

----

Wei Wuxian wakes with a gasp.

The jingshi is empty. Lan Wangji must be off attending to Sect business, as is typical. Breakfast waits for him at the low table under a preservation talisman.

Wei Wuxian quickly piles on his robes, grabs a bun, and rushes to the Healing Pavillion. He breezes past the reception and heads across the courtyard. When Wei Wuxian pushes Lan Ping’s office door open, he finds the healer reviewing a scroll. 

Lan Ping looks up, eyes wide. “Master Wei?”

It’s as close as Wei Wuxian has come to seeing the healer look startled. Wei Wuxian has accosted him in this manner several times over the last couple of months. Lan Ping hasn’t batted an eyelash at any of Wei Wuxian’s inane questions.

Can we still have sex?

Yes.

Spicy food?

You may not want to as you progress, but yes, it is technically allowed.

Exercise?

With moderation.

Night hunts?

That’s for you to discuss with your husband. I’d err on the side of caution and say no.

Demonic Cultivation?

A bit of a mystery at this time. I’d like to do a more comprehensive scan.

Headaches?

Normal.

Hair?

Will grow faster and more thickly and, occasionally, in new places.

Backaches?

Mostly normal. Where and when does it hurt?

“Master Wei, how may I help you today?” Lan Ping asks, setting aside his scroll and gesturing for Wei Wuxian to sit.

Wei Wuxian freezes. “Uhhhh, milk?”

Lan Ping blinks.

“I mean...how will I feed the baby?” Wei Wuxian knees remain locked. He hovers in the doorway.

A queer smile comes over Lan Ping’s lips. “I don’t know. How will you?” His gaze is heavier than Wei Wuxian expects, like it’s layered with meaning.

Images rise behind Wei Wuxian’s eyelids. He’s holding his baby to his chest, sweet faced with plump, red cheeks. She nuzzles his chest before finally latching. The image is vivid, almost surreal with detail. He can practically feel her hot mouth at his chest and her warm weight in his arms.

He feels a visceral pull as the baby sucks and he is suffused with yearning.

Abruptly, his very real chest hurts. Wei Wuxian gasps, clamping a hand over one nipple, his forearm pressing into the other.

Lan Ping rises from behind his desk and guides Wei Wuxian to sit at the bench. He kneels before Wei Wuxian, looking into his face. 

“Well, I guess you have your answer, Master Wei. May check?” Lan Ping raises a hand to help Wei Wuxian peel back his upper layers.

Later, Wei Wuxian is nicely worked up, feeling relaxed after the day’s earlier panic. The meal and the tea are making him feel warm and lethargic. Lan Zhan has guided him onto the bed and laid him back amongst the growing pile of pillows, working sucking marks down Wei Wuxian’s neck. He shifts down Wei Wuxian’s chest, one hand in a constant caress over their child.

“Careful, you’ll spoil her.” Wei Wuxian chides, tipping his head back.

Lan Zhan only hums a confirmation, mouth occupied.

Wei Wuxian has a fistful of Lan Zhan’s hair and is already panting.  Lan Zhan moves to tongue a nipple, when the sensation is WAY TOO MUCH.

Wei Wuxian whirls into motion, reacting before he can put together words, pushing his husband away with both hands on his shoulders and a knee to the chest.

Lan Zhan pulls back, startled, resting his weight on his heels. He brings up the back of his hand to wipe moisture from his mouth and chin. “Wei Ying?”

Wei Wuxian has both nipples covered. His breath comes in panicked gasps.

Lan Zhan tries again, “Wei Ying?”

And suddenly it’s all too much. Wei Wuxian covers his face as he starts crying. He slides down the pillows, turning onto his side, and curling up. He tries to hide himself and hide his overwhelmed emotions.

As Wei Wuxian cries shift into sobs, he feels Lan Zhan shift, first coming to lay in front of him, and then gently pulling Wei Wuxian into his arms. Wei Wuxian uncurls slightly, but he keeps his hands pressed into his face, now resting over Lan Zhan’s brand.

As he calms, he becomes more aware of his surroundings. Lan Zhan presses kisses into his hair and strokes one hand down Wei Wuxian’s arm, while the other glides up and down his back. It takes long moments for Wei Wuxian to collect himself. He shifts, pressing an ear to Lan Zhan’s chest. He can hear Lan Zhan’s steadily beating heart.

“Urg,” he manages, still teary with hormones and embarrassment.

He feels Lan Zhan’s silent chuckle under his cheek.

Slowly, Wei Wuxian unfurls. His face feels hot with tears and sweat. His muscles are fatigued from his clenched upset. Wei Wuxian feels a soft cloth on his face, drying his tears and snot and spit.

Wei Wuxian laughs brokenly, hiccuping. Lan Zhan probably originally grabbed the cloth to help clean up after sex. The sex they aren’t currently having. Because Wei Wuxian is a crying mess.

Wei Wuxian feels his face crumple as new tears from. But Lan Zhan is patient and kind and understanding. And, he’s thoroughly experienced with Wei Wuxian’s bullshit by this point. He only guides Wei Wuxian back down to his chest and resumes stroking his hands over Wei Wuxian’s skin. When this bout of crying calms, Wei Wuxian lifts himself onto his hands so that he can look at Lan Zhan.

Lan Zhan looks concerned. There’s a small crease between his brows, but he doesn’t push. Wei Wuxian knows him well: Lan Zhan won’t push unless he thinks he has to.

Lan Zhan raises one hand to cup his cheek and leans forward to press a series of light kisses to Wei Wuxian’s face: forehead, lips, nose, lips again.

Wei Wuxian must look a mess. He is so, so thankful for Lan Zhan’s love. He feels more tears threaten, so he turns his thoughts away.

They spend a long moment looking at each other as Wei Wuxian’s breath steadies. Wei Wuxian’s arms grow tired of that position, so he shifts until he’s kneeling beside Lan Zhan, where he lays propped up against the excessive pillows that have come to grace their bed.

Wei Wuxian clears his throat. “So, uh, wish magic continues to be powerful.”

Lan Zhan’s eyebrows lift.

Wei Wuxian runs a hand through his bangs before pulling his hair over his shoulder to distract himself. His fingers furiously braid his hair as he gathers his thoughts. “Uh, I had a moment of panic earlier and went to see Lan Ping.”

Lan Zhan sits up and shifts until their shoulders are touching.

“I suddenly remembered that babies need to eat and was like howwww and then -” Wei Wuxian takes a deep breath, remembering the vision he had in the healer’s office, “ - I thought about her. At my chest.” 

Wei Wuxian pulls one hand away from his nervous braiding and gestures at his chest. “When, bam! ” He claps and then throws both hands up. “Lan Ping thinks I’ll be able to breastfeed. Which like..what the fuck. But everything about this is what the fuck, so I don’t know why I got so upset.”

Wei Wuxian takes another deep breath, stopping his stream of words and looking into Lan Zhan’s face. “I’m sorry.”

Lan Zhan brings himself into a kneeling position so that he can more fully give Wei Wuxian his attention. Wei Wuxian’s belly has gotten large enough that Lan Zhan can’t simply lean forward and easily reach him.

He starts by bringing his hands to Wei Wuxian’s neck. He slides upwards until he holds Wei Wuxian fully, thumbs framing his face, tilting Wei Wuxian’s head back. His golden eyes gleam. He presses a slow and deeply tender kiss to Wei Wuxian’s lips. 

The kiss shifts, deepening, but still slow, patient, and kind. When Lan Zhan pulls away, he lays light kisses over each of Wei Wuxian’s eyelids, where new tears have escaped. “No sorries necessary.”

Later, Wei Wuxian will lie against their mussed bedding as Lan Zhan traverses his body, pressing kisses wherever he sees fit.

“Amazing,” he breathes, with a gentle touch to Wei Wuxian’s chest, skirting the areola.

“Beautiful,” he whispers into the curve of Wei Wuxian’s parted thighs.

“Stunning,” he murmurs, nose pressed into fading bite-shaped bruises below one ear.

“Miraculous,” he says above Wei Wuxian’s belly button, against the tight and stretched skin.

Each word and each touch sinks into Wei Wuxian.

----

There are several grasses that grow on the foothills of Gusu. Wei Ying is spectacularly allergic to one variety. It makes its way into Cloud Recesses via updrafts in the mountain air and inevitably makes him sneeze for two weeks straight in late spring. Even with the windows closed, Wei Ying is sensitive to the pollen.

One afternoon, Lan Wangji is responding to correspondence when Wei Ying lets out a loud sneeze. A moment later and he’s laughing. Then his laughter has an edge of hysteria as he scrabbles at his robes.

“Wei Ying?”

Wei Ying’s laughter shifts again, taking on a different edge, one closer to crying. As Lan Wangji approaches, he starts sobbing, shoulders shaking.

Lan Wangji helps Wei Ying stand and then embraces him. He is mysteriously damp. Wei Ying continues to howl with laughter and tears.

“I don’t know what’s happening,” he cries. “I sneezed and then I wet myself,” he laughs, “and now I can’t stop laughing, or crying,” he gasps, “or whatever this is.”

Lan Wangji takes stock of the situation and gently guides Wei Ying behind the folding screen partition. He helps strip him out of his robes and settles Wei Ying on the stool while he fills the tub. After helping Wei Ying into the warm water, he presses a kiss to Wei Ying’s crown and sets off to clean the floor and find fresh clothing. After several minutes, Wei Ying’s crying-laughter begins to quiet.

Once the jingshi is tidied, Lan Wangji seats himself on the stool. Wei Ying’s face is blotchy with tears, but he’s smiling. 

Wei Ying reaches out to Lan Wangji with a wet hand and a wan smile. “That was ridiculous. Like everything got mixed up.”

Lan Wangji nods, giving Wei Ying’s hand a brief squeeze before shifting the stool behind Wei Ying’s head and dipping the ladle into the water to begin wetting Wei Ying’s hair.

----

They have a similar experience the next week, when a bout of vomiting leads to crying and laughter. 

It’s a thing.

More bizarrely, once Wei Wuxian finishes drying his face of tears, and the laughter-sobs have subsided into occasional chuckle-sniffles, he returns to eating lunch as though nothing had happened.

----

Wei Wuxian gets injured. 

He’s walking homeward, down the footpath from the rabbit's hutch, when he steps wrongly, wrenching his ankle. Wei Wuxian would have fallen if Lan Xichen had not been walking beside him. When Wei Wuxian fumbles the next step, wincing in pain, Xichen gracefully bends and sweeps Wei Wuxian into his arms.

Wei Wuxian laughs, arms coming around Xichen’s neck. “This feels a little too familiar.” These Lans and their ridiculous arm strength, Wei Wuxian thinks to himself.

Xichen is very gracious, carrying Wei Wuxian to the jingshi, laying him down in bed, arranging the pillows, and creating a cool compress for his ankle. “Thank you, Xichen-ge,” Wei Wuxian tells him before he leaves.

Wei Wuxian must drift off because he wakes to Lan Zhan settling beside Wei Wuxian’s raised foot on the bed. His fingers are coated in the unguent they’ve been using on Wei Wuxian’s stretch marks.

It tickles and soothes as Lan Zhan rubs gently over his swollen ankle. The lotion is unusual because of its cooling effects. Sometimes Wei Wuxian can feel the fleeting warmth of Lan Zhan’s hands before the medicinal properties kick in. Warm and then cool and then tingling. It is excessively pleasant.

Wei Wuxian feels like a puddle, sinking further into the pillows and sighing. “Lan Zhan, have I told you that I love you?”

Lan Zhan hums. 

There’s something off about his tone, so Wei Wuxian lifts his head and scrutinizes Lan Zhan’s body language. He pulls himself up more fully and tugs on Lan Zhan’s sleeve. “You okay?”

Lan Zhan nods glumly.

“You don’t seem okay.”

A small smile curves Lan Zhan’s lips. “You know me well.” 

And so Lan Zhan explains that he’s sad because they discovered his pregnancy nearly halfway through. Lan Zhan hasn’t been able to pamper Wei Wuxian as much as he’s like.

“It’s going by so quickly,” Lan Zhan laments, eyebrows drawing in and grip briefly tightening around Wei Wuxian’s ankle.

Wei Wuxian pulls Lan Zhan down and into an awkward, if heartfelt, hug. “Don’t be ridiculous, Lan Zhan.” He holds Lan Zhan’s face. “You would have pampered exactly as much as you already have. You pamper me always.” He presses a quick peck to Lan Zhan’s lips. “I’m so spoiled by your love.”

“Still, I wish I’d known.” His lips are still downturned.

“Okay,” Wei Wuxian says, and then continues with a cheeky grin, “we’ll know better for the next one!”

----

Lan Wangji feels hot with the idea of putting another baby in Wei Ying, even as full up as he is with this one.

----

Some accommodations have to be made for their everydays as Wei Wuxian’s body continues to grow and change.

His belly is large enough that it either gets in the way or the position easily tires Wei Ying. They’ve mostly settled on a position in which Wei Ying braces himself forward while Lan Wangji enters him from behind.

Lan Wangji misses watching pleasure wash across his husband’s face, but he loves the look of his hands splayed over Wei Ying’s waist and stomach.

Lan Wangji has large hands. And Mo Xuanyu’s body is so slight.

It is erotic to feel Wei Ying grow and get a measure of their child’s progression. He definitely can’t touch his fingers together anymore.

The widening breadth of him makes Lan Wangji grab Wei Ying’s hips tighter. It makes him come even harder. 

----

Jin Ling visits Cloud Recesses after a successful night hunt with Sizhui and the other juniors.

As he presses a hand to Wei Wuxian’s belly, feeling the baby shift and stir, his expression flickers, somewhere between ick and wow.

Wei Wuxian sympathizes. Though, his own feelings also have a health dose of adoration.

----

Lan Wangji snaps awake from a kick to his side.

He startles, looking around the jingshi, but only finds Wei Ying tucked in beside him. When he lifts the light sheet, he can see Wei Ying’s belly distort. Their child is moving. Wei Ying’s sudden winces make more sense. A kick or a punch to the ribs would really be something startling and painful.

“Lan Zhan?” Wei Ying’s voice is thick with sleep, his eyes mere slivers.

Lan Wangji turns onto his side and strokes a hand over the tumble of Wei Ying’s belly.

Wei Ying’s hand joins his. “Oof, active isn’t she?”

Lan Wangji smiles in the darkness and presses a kiss to Wei Ying’s lax lips. “The baby woke me with a kick.”

Wei Ying chuckles, sides shaking. Their child becomes more awake as Wei Ying’s laughter grows. “I didn’t think that part could be shared.” 

Wei Ying wiggles forward until his stomach presses more firmly into Lan Wangji’s. “Your turn to be kept up half the night.”

----

Lan Wangji enters the jingshi to an unexpected sight. His husband, son, Jingyi, and Jin Ling sit in a circle massaging each other’s shoulders.

“Lan Zhan!” Wei Ying twists slightly, perking up at the sound of his entrance. “Come join us!” Sizhui dutifully scoots back and outward to allow Lan Wangji to sit behind Wei Ying. “It’s a massage circle. Apparently they’re very popular in the dormitories after training, did you know?”

Lan Wangji hums an affirmative, sliding between his husband and his son. He’s heard about them, but never participated.

As Lan Wangji settles his hands at the top of Wei Ying’s spine, pressing firmly in a way Lan Wangji knows Wei Ying likes best, Wei Ying lets out a groan - a touch too loud and a touch too intimate for company.

“Actually, on second thought, you kids should probably head out.” Wei Ying says, his voice has taken on a husky quality. He releases Jin Ling’s shoulders and leans back into Lan Wangji’s chest.

A blush burns on Jin Ling’s cheeks as he scrabbles towards the entranceway to pull on his boots. Jingyi quickly follows. Sizhui lingers slightly, giving Wei Ying’s hands a squeeze and nodding at Lan Wangji before following his peers.

As he hears the door slide shut, Jin Ling’s sputtering dissipating with distance, Lan Wangji changes his hold on Wei Ying. He pulls his husband more fully into his arms and bites him lightly on the neck. “I hope you didn’t make sounds like that with them.”

Wei Ying laughs, bright and clear. “Only with you Lan Zhan. Only you.”

----

Lan Wangji comes home to a different unusual sight the next week. Wei Ying is crying quietly in front of the mirror. Lan Wangji turns Wei Ying to pull him into a hug when Wei Ying practically climbs into his lab, awkward and hot.

When Lan Wangji begins stroking his back, he finds that the lacquered comb Lan Wangji gave him for their first anniversary has become ensnared in a tangle. Ah. Lan Wangji rocks a little to soothe Wei Ying while his hands begin the fine art of hair taming.

Wei Ying’s hair in his original body had been coarse and relatively impervious to tangles. Mo Xuanyu’s hair, by contrast, is a fine, slightly wavy, frizzy, bird’s nest. It habitually annoys Wei Ying. He must have gotten frustrated and then overwhelmed trying to comb his hair. 

Long minutes pass and eventually Lan Wangji frees the comb. He keeps up the rhythmic brushing as it continues to relax Wei Ying. Eventually his husband is tearfree and his hair is smooth.

Wei Ying pulls back from Lan Wangji’s embrace, still sitting in his lap. Lan Wangji’s legs have long gone numb. Wei Ying dries first his face and then Lan Wangji’s neck with a sleeve. 

“Thank you,” he says, smile slightly wobbly. “I think this is the stupidest thing my hormones have ever made me cry about.”

Lan Wangji merely presses a kiss to his forehead and reaches for the hair oil he hadn’t been able to reach earlier.

“It brings me joy to care for you, Wei Ying.”

----

For the third week in a row, Lan Wangji enters the jinshi to an unanticipated sight. 

Lan Wangji had shared dinner - and a quick handjob - with Wei Ying before being summoned to a rare, late meeting with Xichen. When he left everything had been normal, but now there are seemingly candles on every flat surface. The new lighting is soft and warm and intimate. 

Wei Ying greets him, wearing Lan Wangji’s thinnest, shearest shift. It leaves little to the imagination, but provides the faintest gauze of hidden intimacy. He presses a deep and slow kiss to Lan Wangji’s lips, setting the mood.

He takes Lan Wangji by the hand behind the folding screen. There, the tub is already full, and decorated with fragrant oil and flower petals - red orchid’s, Lan Wangji’s favorite. Where did Wei Ying find them? They must be out of season, Lan Wangji idly wonders.

His attention returns to Wei Ying as he starts stripping Lan Wangji layer by, slow, layer. His touches are soft and lingering. He delicately pulls away and folds each layer, stretching out the moment and creating tension. Lan Wangji is fully hard by the time Wei Ying unties his final layer. He guides Lan Wangji to the stool and kneels before him, pulling his trouser legs down and past each foot.

Wei Ying puts his hands and then his weight on Lan Wangji’s thighs as he pushes himself up to kiss Lan Wangji. Lan Wangji meets him halfway, tangling his fingers in his husband’s hair, recreating the tender kiss from his greeting.

Wei Ying pulls back briefly, flashing a smile, to grab a pillow he’d stashed against a low shelf. He quickly puts it under his knees and Lan Wangji realizes how thoroughly, and delightfully, trapped he is. 

“Let me take care of you, Er-gege.” Wei Ying says and begins nibbling at his collarbone, hand snaking downwards. The tip of Lan Wangji’s cock presses into Wei Ying’s belly.

Eventually, Wei Ying’s mouth makes its way onto his cock. It’s hot and warm and wet. Wei Ying applies the perfect amount of suction to drive Lan Wangji mad.

Wei Ying’s hair is free of it’s usual ribbon. Lan Wangji gathers it in his fist, pulling to the side so that nothing obscures his view. Wei Ying’s cheeks hollow as he takes Lan Wangji more fully into his mouth. He pulls nearly all the way off and takes a deep breath through his nose before sliding all the way back down. When he reaches his own hand, wrapped around the base of Lan Wangji, he merely moves the hand lower, and keeps on taking Lan Wangji in deeper. He only spends a couple of heartbeats with his nose against Lan Wangji’s pubic bone before pulling back. It never fails to impress Lan Wangji, given his size.

It only takes a couple more of these slow, luxurious pushes, aided by Wei Ying’s clever fingers at his taint, before Lan Wangji is shaking with pleasure and comes. Lan Wangji is still twitching when Wei Ying guides him into the bath, ideally heated.

Wei Ying prefers a tepid bath when the weather warms, but this bath is not for him; it’s for Lan Wangji. The steam smells vaguely of roses.

Wei Ying gently leads him through reclining at the tub’s edge. He shifts the stool so that he can reach Lan Wangji’s head with ease. He tenderly removes Lan Wangji’s hair ornaments and then, even more lovingly, unties his forehead ribbon. Both are added to the tidy pile of clothing before Wei Ying returns with a soft cloth.

Wei Ying sets himself to washing all of Lan Wangji: face, back, hands, abs, legs, and finally hair. He only lingers a little at Lan Wangji’s groin. Wei Ying is focused and quiet. It’s a rare mood. Lan Wangji might be the only person who has had the pleasure of witnessing it.

Then Wei Ying helps Lan Wangji out of the bath and commits to drying every inch. He brings Lan Wangji back onto the stool. He moves to kneel behind Lan Wangji and begins brushing out his hair. The whole process is relaxing and dreamlike. The candles have burned lower, some have gone out, making the light dimmer and more intimate.

Finally he guides Lan Wangji into their bed. Wei Ying strips out of his thin layer and cuddles close. They linger, warm and naked, swapping soft kisses. 

“Thank you for everything you do,” Wei Ying says with a kiss to his forehead. “Thank you for taking care of us.” Their clasped hands rest over rest over their child, surprisingly quiescent for the night. 

Lan Wangji feels his heart clench in the best way possible, suffused with tenderness.

----

Wei-xiong,

It feels like it’s been forever…

Seeing you in Lanling, you positively had a glow about you…

“Let’s face it, Lan Zhan, he knows.” Wei Ying gestures with the letter. “We might as well invite him for a visit. It’s not something we need to hide from our friends.”

Lan Wangji frowns but nods.

When Nie Huaisang arrives, it’s clear that he did know. He brings an exceptionally soft and warm blanket, made from the wool of the mountain sheep found in Qinghe. He also brings a tea known to soothe an active fetus. Wei Ying gets a little teary and clutches the tea box to his chest when Nie Huaisang explains it’s effects.

Nie Huaisang’s quick mind pieced it together quite effectively. Lan Wangji sits in mute horror as Nie Huaisang lays out the details of his deductions.

It turns out that one of the guest disciples to Cloud Recesses from Qinghe this year is a close cousin to Nie Huaisang. He had written of his disappointment that Wei Ying wasn’t teaching any lectures this year, nor leading any night hunts. His agemates had spent the last couple of years hearing from their seniors about how charismatic and exuberant, as well as creative and effective, Wei Ying was.

Nie Huaisand made some brief inquiries into their last public appearances, but both Wei Ying and Lan Wangji have been noticeably absent from cultivator life, outside of the Lanling conference in the spring. Nie Huaisang remembered Wei Ying’s oversized robe and, more startling, abstinence from alcohol.

Thus, he theorized, they were expecting.

He finishes his recitation with a snap of his fan closing. 

Wei Ying claps. “That was amazing!”  He takes a quick sip of tea. “I’m so glad you like us.”

Lan Wangji feels that if Nie Huaisang understands people so well, they can use him to their advantage. “We’d like some advice on how to tell the rest of the Cultivation world.”

Wei Ying claps again and then grabs Nie Huaisang’s wrist. “Yes! Excellent idea, Lan Zhan. Please, Huaisang, help us!”

----

Wei Ying stares at the meal, hand over his sternum, looking absolutely betrayed.

Jiang Chen had come to Cloud Recesses bearing gifts, mostly of his dubious company. He also brings a small silver bell with a purple tassel that makes Wei Ying cry when he sees it.

Lan Wangji has heard about the YunmengJiang’s clarity bell, but he doesn’t recall seeing it in action. He knows that it is an important gift, one that indicates that their child will be fully recognized and celebrated at Lotus Pier.

In an additional fit of thoughtfulness, Jiang Chend had coordinated with Lan Wangji to have some of Wei Ying’s favorite foods from Yunmeng made. A couple bites in and new tears rise in Wei Ying’s eyes. 

Lan Wangji grasps Wei Ying’s other hand under the table, giving it a gentle squeeze. When Wei Ying squeezes back, two pumps, as quick as a heartbeat, Lan Wangji knows he’s fine. Lan Wangji feels his shoulders relax.

Jiang Cheng doesn’t have the privilege of being married to Wei Ying, so he still looks panicked. He misstepped early in Wei Ying’s pregnancy and appears desperate to make it up.

“Are you okay? Is the baby okay?” Jiang Cheng’s hands flutter over the meal. “Do you not like these dishes anymore? I can see if the kitchen can make something else.”

He has already half risen out of his seat, when Wei Ying finally gathers himself to speak. “No, no, Jiang Cheng,” he leans forward and grabs Jiang Cheng’s wrist, “these are great! These are wonderful! I’m just not great with spicy food right now.” He releases Jiang Cheng and leans back again.

Jiang Cheng boggles. “Who even are you?”

And Wei Ying laughs, and then abruptly stops. “Oh, ow.” He pushes one hand over his heart and brings their joined hands to the underside of his belly. 

The movement flexes Lan Wangji’s wrist awkwardly, so he releases Wei Ying’s hand, allowing Wei Ying to better soothe himself. 

Jiang Cheng resettles himself at the table, watching his brother in pain. When he meets Lan Wangji’s gaze, Lan Wangji can easily read his concern and feeling of powerlessness. He feels an unexpected kinship with Jiang Cheng.

“Heartburn,” Lan Wangji explains.

Jiang Cheng nods, brow unfurrowing, but his shoulders remain tense.

“I wasn’t actually built to have a baby,” Wei Ying says, “and Mo Xuanyu super wasn’t built to have a baby. There’s just not enough space, so the baby pushes on my organs. Yay, stomach acid.”

“It is common for pregnant women as well,” Lan Wangji says.

Wei Ying pouts. “No, it’s especially awful for me.” He whines, leaning back on his hands. He watches as Lan Wangji stands. “I am the only human to have ever suffered this indignity.”

Lan Wangji hears Jiang Cheng snort as he retreats to their small galley kitchen at the back of the jingshi .

“Ooh, are you making tea? Can I have the ginger one?” Wei Ying raises his voice slightly.

Lan Wangji doesn’t respond. Wei Ying knows he will make it, just as he prefers.

----

Ultimately they take Nie Huaisang’s advice and announce their child’s impending birth in the usual fashion, via letter and small token.

Sizhui and Jingyi are put on gift reception duty. Most of the gifts will be donated or redistributed. There are a few significant gifts that they keep.

Most notably, Wen Ning visits one afternoon. “Hanguang-jun, Master Wei,” he salutes from the jingshi’s doorway.

Wei Ying beckons Wen Ning over energetically. “Don’t make me get up. It’s uncomfortable for everyone involved. Come over here!”

Wen Ning bows again when he’s closer. Wei Ying pulls on his sleeve until he kneels nearby and Wei Ying pulls him into a hug.

“Here, feel!” He grabs Wen Ning’s hand, pressing it to the swell of his stomach.

Wen Ning gasps, “Master Wei!”

“Yeah, crazy, right?” They grin into each other’s faces. And then Wei Ying claps a hand onto Wen Ning’s shoulder. “What brings you to our humble abode?”

Wen Ning looks chagrined, but then he reaches into his qiankun pouch and retrieves an even smaller embroidered pouch. He presents it to Wei Ying with both hands and a bowed head.

“Can I open it now?” Wei Ying asks.

Wen Ning nods, so Lan Wangji comes to kneel beside Wei Ying as he opens the pouch. Inside there are two beautiful pieces of carved jade. One is a bracelet, the other is a rabbit pendant. Lan Wangji’s lips turn up.

“I forgot it was the year of the rabbit. How did we miss that, Lan Zhan?” Wei Ying laughs then turns back to Wen Ning. “They’re beautiful. Thank you!”

Wen Ning’s face darkens slightly, his equivalent of a blush. “I carved the rabbit,” he softly admits.

Wei Ying laboriously shifts so that he can pull Wen Ning into another, fuller hug.

----

Lan Zhan and Wei Wuxian are both surprised one evening when there is a polite knock at the door to the jingshi . Lan Zhan is magnitudes more mobile than Wei Wuxian is by this point. He slides open the door to reveal Lan Qiren.

“Uncle,” Lan Zhan greets.

At the table, Wei Wuxian frowns, looking down at the mess his talisman tinkering has made. He starts gathering his papers into stacks, and collects the brushes. He’s not sure what to do with the inks.

Lan Zhan steps to the side, allowing Lan Qiren to step into their home. He is holding a large, beautifully constructed box. Lan Zhan closes the door and slips by Lan Qiren to help Wei Ying clear the table.

Once tidied, Lan Qiren settles across the table from Wei Ying, settling the box nearby. They watch each other wearily until Lan Zhan returns with a teapot and three clean cups. Wei Wuxian feels a deep curiosity, but his expertise in reading Lan Zhan has not translated into understanding Lan Qiren.

Wei Wuxian kneels up to pour for Lan Qiren, then Lan Zhan, and finally himself. The ensuing silence is awkward. As it stretches, Wei Wuxian feels like he’s about to lose his patience with Lan Zhan speaks up, “Uncle?”

Lan Qiren lifts the box and holds it out to Wei Wuxian, bowing over it.

Wei Wuxian accepts, bowing in return. “Thank you, Grandmaster Lan,” he says dutifully. He looks to Lan Zhan for guidance, shifting the weight of the box into Lan Zhan’s hands.

Lan Qiren clears his throat. “I had some robes commissioned for you, as is appropriate for your station -” The next part sounds a little strained. “- as the spouse of a main-family Lan.” He then produces a smaller box from within his robe. “Please open this now.”

Wei Wuxian’s hands only shake a little as he opens the finely polished and lacquered lid, revealing an elegant silver hair ornament. It is decorated with delicate, climbing orchids. Beside him, Lan Zhan gasps.

“This set belonged to Xichen and Wangji’s mother,” Lan Qiren explains.

He then does something completely unexpected.

Lan Qiren moves from behind the table and kowtows, forehead to the ground, before Wei Wuxian. “I apologize. I was wrong about you. I should have given you these gifts many years ago, when you first wed.” He straightens. “I can see how much joy you have brought my nephew and how much happiness and enrichment you bring to Cloud Recesses. 

“I am honored to welcome you into my family.”

Wei Wuxian nods, eyes glazed with tears.

Later, after they’ve shared a quiet pot of tea and Lan Qiren retreated, Wei Wuxian opens the long box. The blue and white robes within are the finest he’s ever seen, ever touched. The blue is a shade darker than Wei Wuxian usually sees in Cloud Recesses, closer to the color Xichen and Lan Qiren, himself, wears.

Wei Wuxian has only seen Lan Zhan wear this deep a blue once, when he announced their elopement before the Sect elders. 

Lan Zhan runs his fingers alongside Wei Wuxian’s over the embroidered lapels. 

“They’re beautiful,” Wei Wuxian says.

The next morning, Wei Wuxian wakes with Lan Zhan and presses the small lacquered box into his husband’s hands. “Will you put them in my hair?”

Lan Zhan nods, settling behind Wei Wuxian with the comb.

----

As Wei Ying continues to bloom, going from a barely noticeable roundness, to a gentle curve, to a frankly impressive bulge that extends far from his body, Lan Wangji feels a drive to play Wangji.

It reminds him of how he felt in the months after Wei Wuxian left Gusu before they were reunited in Qishan. His fingers itch to compose a song. He wants to capture everything about this time. After months of tinkering, Lan Wangji feels like the melody has finally settled.

It’s late summer and Wei Ying is miserable. He’s hated the heat and humidity of every summer he has spent in Cloud Recesses. Add two and half stone, itchy skin, and piles, and Wei Ying is a wreck.

He is grumpy and frustrated and short tempered. His mood swings wildly for, as soon as she snaps at Lan Wangji over something inconsequential, he then veers off in a crying jag. His apologies are choked with tears.

For his part, Lan Wangji has never felt more attached or more attracted. They keep up their everyday, the pleasure and relaxation orgasm brings Wei Ying is a highlight in both of their days.

Earlier, Lan Wangji had tucked behind Wei Ying, so that Wei Ying can stay relaxed on his side. Lan Wangji is long enough and thick enough that it’s not a disappointment. He can still hit all of Wei Ying’s favorite spots. It helps that Wei Ying is more sensitive than ever.

For all his tinkering, this is the first playthrough that felt complete. Lan Wangji plucks out the final chord, letting it linger in the air, and feels accomplished.

“That’s beautiful, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying says from the table, propped up by a veritable mountain of pillows. He’s using his belly to balance a cup of tea. “What do you call it?”

Lan Wangji has known the name for weeks. He’s held it in his heart. “Yongxia, read like a praise of summer.”

And Wei Ying smiles.

----

Some days Wei Wuxian’s energy level is higher and he goes on brief, well supervised adventures.

Wei Wuxian makes it up the back mountain paths to dip his swollen feet into the cool mountain river waters. The sound of the waterfall is soothing and constant. From where Wei Wuxian sits, when the breeze picks up, he gets a gentle misting of water.

Wei Wuxian is sufficiently close to Lan Ping’s predicted due date that Wei Wuxian cannot go anywhere unaccompanied. Sizhui rolls up his trouser legs and joins Wei Wuxian in the water.

As the sun reaches its peak, the heat of the day increases, and they decide to head back to the main complex. When Wei Wuxian laboriously rises - even with Sizhui’s help, it’s a struggle - his lacquered flute escapes his belt and falls, clattering amongst the stones.

They both stare at it. 

Wei Wuxian groans. There is no way he can bend down and reach it. Sizhui, thankfully, is already moving. 

“Sizhui! Such a good filial son! Thank you!” He laughs, “Otherwise Chenqing would have been as good as dead to me.”

----

Wei Wuxian has a disquieting afternoon. He has an increasing sense of unease he can’t put his finger on, but it makes him quiet at dinner and even quieter in bed. 

Lan Zhan watches him, radiating concern.

Wei Wuxian settles into a fitful sleep. In the middle of the night Wei Wuxian twists awake, unconscious mind piecing together what had created his looming fear during the day.

He hasn’t felt the baby move since the morning. He’s never gone so long without feeling her since the first time he felt her. The moon glows in the night, but dawn can’t be more than a few hours away. Wei Wuxian clutches his belly, looking for signs of life.

When suddenly he remembers that he’s a Cultivator.

He felt his child’s spark from the very moment of her conception. He should be able to feel her now. He takes several breaths, calming his panicked mind, and reaches out with his spiritual senses.

She flares alive and bright in his perception.

Wei Wuxian closes his eyes and feels the tension of the last day ease from his shoulders and back. 

In the morning, she still hasn’t moved, so Wei Wuxian sneaks off to speak with Lan Ping, who explains that she’s run out of room. Her movements overall will likely decrease, though each movement will be more powerful now that she is bigger and stronger.

He continues to explain that depending on how Wei Wuxian’s wish magic manifests, he may feel her drop and shift head-down over the next several days. Lan Ping gently guides Wei Wuxian through identifying her anatomy from the outside.

----

A few days later, Lan Wangji accompanies Wei Ying to the Cold Springs. 

The heat has dulled somewhat, but it is still insufferable. They’ve found that the healing and cooling properties of the Springs are a great balm to Wei Ying’s various pains. It soothes his tight and itchy skin as well as numbs the ache in his lower back and hips.

After a cursory paddle around the pond, Wei Ying flips over to float on his back. The sight is humorous; Wei Ying is elegant, with the exception of his protruding belly which rises above the waterline. 

He’s not as buoyant as he had been, so Lan Wangji comes over to cradle Wei Ying, sharing his weight. Still, the reprieve from gravity is much appreciated.

Wei Ying only tries to dunk Lan Wangji once. He fails, but Lan Wangji still rewards him with a series of warming kisses.

----

It’s supposed to be early autumn, but instead it’s the hottest day of the year.

Wei Wuxian is grumpy, so Lan Zhan sets about bringing him a reprieve. Wei Wuxian can’t see Lan Zhan’s head, as it bobs over his cock, but he can feel the warm perfection of his mouth.

When he comes, the skin and muscle of his entire belly tightens painfully and then tightens again nearly half an hour later. His body has been practicing for labor for months, but this time feels different. The time between contractions diminishes over the course of the evening and into the night. 

They resolutely walk over to the Healing Pavilion, with occasional pauses for Wei Wuxian to pant and grunt through another contraction.

It hadn’t been clear how the baby would get out of Wei Wuxian, until Lan Ping walked them through imagining different options. 

Wei Wuxian’s wish magic has apparently made a choice.

----

Birth is not the hardest or the most painful thing Wei Wuxian has ever done, but it is one of the most emotional.

Wei Wuxian’s memories at the end of his first life continue to be fractured and confusing. He remembers how he had despaired. He’d been overwhelmed with loss and pain, bereft of connection.

Nothing could be more dissimilar despite being similar in intensity.

Wei Wuxian has never felt more present in his body. It demands nearly his full attention. What he has to spare is occupied by Lan Zhan.

His entire vision is filled with Lan Zhan’s face. He focuses on the feel of Lan Zhan’s hands, where he holds Wei Wuxian. He is there for every pained breath, every contraction, every push.

For months Lan Zhan has been stoic, supporting Wei Wuxian through his emotional physical turbulence.

Here, they share tears as their child cries out their first breath. 

It is nothing like having his core removed. He feels like he is overflowing with energy.

There is no loss, only gain.

A child. His child with Lan Zhan. With Lan Zhan. His husband, his perfect husband.

“Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan,” he cries, as he holds their daughter for the first time.

.

.