In retrospective, Wei Ying feels that he definitely could have planned it better, or researched the spell more. However, consider this: He was jealous, and also, the result had been better than he had expected, or even than the result that had been promised. He definitely could not complain.
Still, could those rabbits not play with anyone else? Sure, he had started this whole thing when he had gifted those two rabbits to Lan Zhan all those years ago. Even if at that time he would never have guessed that he would be properly married to Lan Zhan AND actively competing with those rabbits for his beloved husband's attention one day.
So he had decided to take the matter into his own hands to see that his Lan Zhan would pay sufficient attention to him and not just to the rabbits.
So he made a plan to make Lan Zhan pay attention to him and only him. The library was full of strange and ancient scrolls, and one had promised to allow him to shape shift for a day and return to his true shape after he awoke from slumber. It seemed like a good idea, though he had definitely had worse ideas in the past.
Could he have planned better? Why, of course, but he was a man of his word either way. That and no one can think rationally with the taste of vinegar in their tongue.
He was not an inherently jealous man, but he would definitely obtain his husband's undivided attention one way or another.
Yes, the plan was complicated. Yes, he had not tried it before and when he mentioned it to Lan Sizhui he could see the smoke coming out of the young man's ears, not out of anger, but rather because he could not believe his father would be so petty.
"Are you sure this is a good idea?"
"Have I ever had a bad idea, A-Yuan?"
As soon as the young man opened his mouth, Wei Ying repented from his question.
"I don't want to know. Forget I asked."
"Ah, yes. I forgot that pointing out the flaws in your plans are usually pointed out by Jiang Cheng-jiu."
Wei Ying grimaced at the thought. "Please don't tell Jiang Cheng. He'd make fun of me the rest of our lives and in the next one."
"So you do realize that it is a dumb idea."
"A-Yuan, stop being rational and help your Father mix the last herbs while I transfer spiritual energy. This old man's arms are too tired to stir and add spiritual energy at the same time."
He sighs as he grabs the last bundle of herbs and drops them in the pot.
"I will tell Jingyi. I'm gonna need his help if you are to carry out this idea."
"Lan Jingyi? He is a nice kid. Sure. Tell him. He sure will realize the genius of my idea" He uses an index finger to mark the place of the scroll he was reading. The bamboo was old enough that Wei Ying was sure the recipe would definitely work, that or he would have the belly ache of his second life, even when taking into account the fact that he had been stabbed there once.
"Perhaps a little honey would help with the taste? But would that disturb the recipe? I'm an inventor not an apothecary. The honey will definitely help with the taste. Whoever made this recipe must have lost their sense of taste. I will ask Lan Qiren if cultivators can lose their sense of taste after not eating for a while. He will surely have an answer, won't he? Honey or no honey? Should I go down into town and buy some candy? But Lan Zhan is almost done with his lecture and I want to surprise him… Oh, devils, the congee is burning. Oh, is charred now. Oh, no. Perhaps I should add spice to it. Yes, that will make it better. Ah, the lecture just ended and A-Yuan is not back." He grabbed a bowl and laddled a spoonful of green and red and brown congee inside it, breathed deeply and said "Well, here I go."
He drank it all in a gulp. The congee was warm but absolutely disgusting. He immediately started coughing after swallowing it, his eyes red with the effort.
And then there was silence.
And then there was a white rabbit on the floor surrounded by Wei Ying's white embroidered clothes. A red ribbon was on top of its white head, covering one eye.
And then there was Lan Sizhui accompanied with a Lan Jingyi who looked like he was about to burst into laughter.
"Quick we need to hide the clothes," Lan Sizhui, the dutiful son that he was, said as he threw the clothes through a window in the opposite side from the entrance of the Jingshi so his other father would not see them and think that Wei Ying was running through Cloud Recesses naked, which for the record, had never happened so far and Lan Sizhui intended to keep it that way.
"Is this really your dad?" Lan Jingyi said as he picked up Wei Ying from the ground with an arm and grabbed the red ribbon with his other hand.
"I think so. That or he accidentally arrayed himself into a different place which would make Hanguang-jun very sad."
The rabbit wiggled its nose in response, its fluffy white ears dropping.
"Yes, that's definitely my dad."
Lan Jingyi handed the red ribbon to the other disciple who put it inside his sleeve. He stroked the rabbit's fur gently, as if afraid to upset the rabbit.
He laughed as he pet the rabbit that was Wei Ying behind its ears. "Your dad's fur is surprisingly soft." He took Lan Sizhui's hand in his and placed it on the rabbit's back.
"Oh wow, you are right. He is so soft." He stroked the rabbit's back a few times before he suddenly stopped. "Wait, that's my dad. This is weird. Hand him over." Gently, he took the rabbit from Lan Jingyi's arm and placed it on his own, cradling the rabbit like a baby.
Wei Ying nuzzled his nose against A-Yuan's robes.
That's my son. Defending his father's honor!
It was at that moment when the door slides open and Wei Ying immediately jumped into his beloved husband's (amazingly strong) arms.
Instinctively, Lan Wangji started to stroke the fur of the tiny animal that had happily nestled itself in his arms.
It's me, Lan Zhan! Your Wei Ying! I'm so tiny and cute that you surely want to spend the rest of the day with me and pet me and feed me and play with me!!!
"Father," said Lan Sizhui.
"Hanguang-jun," Lan Jingyi's voice contained the faintest trace of a laugh, but it had been enough for Lan Wangji to detect it.
"Is something amusing?"
"I just thought it was cute that the rabbit immediately jumped into your arms, as if he had been waiting this whole time to do so."
"Mn." The question in Lan Wangji's answer was clear to both disciples, and by the looks of it, the question was: What are you two doing in my room playing with one of my rabbits?
Lan Jingy was the one who rushed to answer.
"Hanguang-jun. we were feeding the rabbits this morning and noticed that this little guy escaped. We found him in your room."
"I see." However did Lan Wangji manage to look like an aloof immortal while holding a spoiled rabbit that was occupied at the moment with nibbling the ribbons of his robe.
"We, we will be leaving now," Lan Jingyi took his eldest cousin by the shoulder and dragged him to the door that was left open. His heart beat faster as he realized that Lan Wangji was standing in front of the door still and showed no signs to move.
"Sizhui, have you seen my husband?"
"N-no. I think he told me yesterday that he wanted to buy something in the town today."
"Mn." He nodded.
"Well, now that that's clear, we'll be going. Goodbye." They could have run out of the Jingshi with more dignity, or not have run at all, but they were far too scared of lying to him.
They could soon hear Lan Wangji's voice in the distance: No running in the Cloud Recesses.
"Do you think Senior Wei will be fine?" Lan Jingyi was out of breath as he asked and there was concern in his face.
"I think he will be." Lan Sizhui adjusted his forehead ribbon. "You know Dad is more competent than what he looks. He will be fine. Besides, I think Dad will see through the spell."
"That or you will be stuck with a sticky rabbit as a father for a while."
Lan Sizhui frowned in response, but a cold sweat ran through his back. That was a nightmare he did not want to see become true. Just like that nightmare when he was chased by a giant carrot, but he did not have the time or energy to think about that.
"May the gods guard us from that."
"We should pick up his clothes from behind the Jingshi."
"Don't you think it will look weird if we keep sneaking into Hanguang-jun's room?"
"Well, I'm his son and you are his nephew, so no. Besides we'll only be picking up his clothes and stuffing them in a basket where no one can find it."
"Couldn't your dad plan something else?"
"I asked him, he said 'no.' Though for a while he thought about crossdressing."
Lan Jingyi shrugged. That made sense to him.
Lan Wangji was many things, such as an admired and esteemed cultivator, what he was not was a fool.
He cuddled his husband in his arms, who had recently turned himself into a rabbit.
" You are so cute." He kissed the white fur on top of his head, "I might leave my husband for you."
Lan Zhan! You break my heart!
Lan Zhan we've been married for over five years!
Lan Wangji smiled to himself as he held the little animal close to his chest. This was a very Wei Ying like thing to do. Though Lan Wangji wasn't exactly sure what he had done wrong. Regardless of that, he intended to make it up to him and have some fun while at it.
"Little rabbit." He bopped his husband's cute, little pink nose. "Are you lost? I haven't seen you here before."
The rabbit gave no response other than nestling itself into Lan Wangji's robes.
"I see. You are a shy little thing. You know, you remind me somewhat of my husband."
The rabbit bit his finger gently, affectionately.
"Cute little rabbit."
Yes, I am very adorable. I deserve many pets.
"You deserve so much love. You are adorable. Do you have a name? I don't think you do."
Lan Zhan, you are talking so much to this rabbit. Why don't you talk so much to me? I always want to hear your voice.
Soon the rabbit was biting the free ending of his forehead ribbon.
"I think Wei Ying would like you. He definitely likes biting my forehead ribbon too."
He rubbed his fluffy, white head on Lan Zhan's hand, drunk in the attention.
Lan Wangji took the rabbit in his hands and nuzzled his nose against the rabbit's which caused it to wiggle its tail.
"Silly little thing. I love you very much."
Lan Zhan!!! Why are you giving away your love so freely? I'm just a little rabbit to you.
"When Wei Ying comes back, I'll show you to him. I'm sure he will love you. I'm so lonely without him. I missed him today during my lecture." Why is it so much easier to speak when he turned himself into a rabbit? "The disciples asked me for him this morning. They wanted to ask him about the tortoise. He would have gotten a laugh out of that." He stroked the rabbit's fur.
His husband was still as he listened to Lan Wangji. In over five years of a happy marriage, Lan Wangji had never been very talkative.
Not that that bothered Wei Ying, Lan Zhan was a shy man for the most part and he had never wasted a word, just like the rules on the Wall asked, and he loved that about him. Besides, Lan Wangji had other ways to show his affection. To the surprise of most people, Lan Zhan was a very touchy person.
He loved to comb Wei Ying's hair and to hold his hand while they walked through Cloud Recesses. Lan Zhan was not the cold statue of a man that most believed, but it was a secret that he was glad to keep for himself.
"My Wei Ying. I love him very much. He is my soulmate, my companion. And I intend to love him every day I breathe and even after then."
There was a faint blush on his ears and it extended to his neck. He knew the rabbit was Wei Ying, but Wei Ying did not show signs of knowing that Lan Zhan had found out from the beginning.
Lan Zhan, why are you punishing me today? You are a sick and twisted man.
"Do you want to go on a walk, little rabbit?"
Wei Ying shook his head. His ears dropped with sadness. The whole point of the plan was to have Lan Zhan for himself for as long as possible, without having to share him with anyone, not even his rabbits. Lan Sizhui had promised to take care of them, so they would not be lonely.
"You want to stay here and wait with me?"
"All right. We can stay here until Wei Ying returns. Sizhui and Jingyi said that Wei Ying would be here soon, so I think he will return during nightfall. He might bring us some sweets."
Yes, I want sweets. I'll go to town tomorrow and buy all his favorite sweets. Perhaps some meat buns too.
"The sun is going down fast, little rabbit, would you like me to play the guqin while we wait for him?"
The rabbit answered by jumping from Lan Zhan's arms and running to the instrument, which both he and Wei Ying agreed was far too clever for a rabbit to do.
Perhaps I am spiritual rabbit? Those exist, right?
"Ah, a spirital rabbit. I must be fortunate."
Lan Zhan sat down before his instrument and patted the ground next to him, asking the rabbit silently to sit next to him.
The rabbit was soon to run next to Lan Zhan and as a reward for his understanding, he received a scratch behind his ear.
"I've been practicing a song from the common people. I found it in the library and is from the Yunmeng region. It's possible that Wei Ying might have heard it as a child, so I wanted to give him a surprise."
Wei Ying raised an eyebrow, or rather he did the equivalent of a rabbit, which was by scrunching his nose in a quizzical look.
The strings from the guqin soon started to create a sound as Lan Wangji plucked the strings with his long and delicate, white fingers.
Wei Ying was surprised at how much he indeed remembered. The song had been played often when he was a child by his mother. He was sure that his father had sung lyrics to it, but he could only remember his grave and beautiful voice in unintelligible sounds.
I love you, Lan Zhan.
The tiny, white rabbit moved itself closer to Lan Zhan, who was now humming softly along to the song, a habit that he had picked up after a few years into their marriage. Perhaps it was the marker of a happy man, or maybe it was a habit that Lan Zhan had picked up from Wei Ying himself. He could not be sure.
The song continued as the sun fell and the moon took its place. It was a wanning moon and he wondered if Lan Zhan had known the whole time or if he was just a very sweet man, who really liked rabbits and was shy. He suspected it was both.
You are such a softie, the juniors would die if they were to see that their big and respected Hanguang-jun is such a softie with his husband.
The song continued for a long time, to the point that Wei Ying suspected that his husband was composing new parts to it as he played. It was in this way that the rabbit started to doze off, lulled to sleep earlier than he had slept since years before. It was a peaceful scene, like one of the legends from long ago. The ones that were only told at night to allow children to sleep peacefully. Those were stories about gods and golden fruits and immortality and the secrets of fire, and somehow, and they all seemed small to Wei Ying now.
Lan Zhan kept on playing as the rabbit fell asleep. His hands moved the strings as if nothing was happening. A small smile curled the corner of his lips. Wei Ying should transform into a rabbit more often. He was rather adorable when he fell asleep as one.
He kept humming as he ended the song, his white jade fingers were delicate and graceful as the last strings were struck.
"Little rabbit is late now, and I miss my husband. He is not here yet. Little rabbit, please make me company while I wait for him." He said as he left the white rabbit on their bed.
He then took his hairpiece out and ran his fingers through his black hair, wondering if his husband would be back tomorrow or he would have more playtime with the white rabbit he had made himself into. Somehow he suspected that if Wei Ying were to get stuck in his current form, Sizhui would definitely suffer from heart failure.
Yes, it would be better that Wei Ying turned back into his usual self. Even if Lan Zhan would miss how his little tail would wiggle as Lan Zhan would pet his little head.
It was both endearing and heart-melting, but he missed having Wei Ying in his arms, his head cardled in the curve of his neck.
He takes the rabbit into his arms, placing its small weight onto his chest. He would pass it spiritual energy as they slept. That way it would be easier for his Wei Ying to return.
Soon, the rabbit was replaced a by a man. His dark hair covered the fine features of his face and he felt the warmth of his husband's embrace. He wondered if he should move closer to him, or if that would imply the risk of waking his Lan Zhan up. It was rare that he would fall sleep sooner than Lan Zhan and even rarer that he would wake up before him.
Lan Zhan, are you tired tonight? I made you wait for far too long. I am a cruel husband and should cover your face with kisses to make up for it. In fact, I would start now if I wasn't afraid to wake you up.
"Wei Ying?" he heard his husband said in a rugged, half-asleep voice.
Did I think too loud?
He snuggled closer to his husband's chest. Lan Zhan was awake anyway.
"Did you miss me?"
"Yes. I did." He turned his face to look at his husband.
"For how long did you know it was me."
"Since the beginning I- Wei Ying?" He stood up, his golden eyes now wide open. "Wei Ying." His hands craddled his husband's face.
"Yes, Lan Zhan?"
"Wei Ying." There were tears running down his white cheeks.
"What's wrong Lan Zhan? I'm sorry if I upset you, I- I did not think I would hurt you."
"Wei Ying, you've come back."
"Yes, Lan Zhan. I'm back, and I will never leave you again. I'm never turning into a rabbit again."
"Wei Ying. My Wei Ying, my love, you've come back."
"Look." He stood up from their bed, his legs weak from excitment and the emotions that threatened to spill out all at once. He took a mirror from the nightstand and showed Wei Ying his reflection.
The reflection showed a face he had not seen in years. Mo Xuanyu's face had morphed into his. The eyes were now darker than what they were before, the brow sligthly more arched, the lips thinner and redder than Mo Xuanyu's. The features had become more defined too, his jawline was stronger and his eyes had a look of maturity that he had never gotten while in his first life.
"What? I don't understand."
"The rabbit was me, Lan Zhan. I thought you knew this."
"No! Wei Ying, when you returned to your true form, the spell must have returned your body to the shape of its soul. Your soul."
"What? I- Yes, that must be it."
"Wei Ying." He dropped the mirror as he brought hus husband into a tight embrace. "Wei Ying, you've returned to me. You don't know how much I longed to see your face again during those years without you, and now you've returned."
"You've come back to me."
"I have, and I always will. Lan Zhan, I'm sorry I made you wait for so long."
"Wei Ying, even if your soul had been destroyed thirteen years ago, I would have waited for you. I would wait for you for every lifetime until I could find you again."
"Lan Zhan," he took his husband's face in his hands, echoing the gesture Lan Zhan had done for him so many times. "I will never make you wait again. My soul belongs to you and will always search and return to you. I need nothing but you by my side."
"Wei Ying." He wrapped his arms around his husband's back. He was sure the joy in his heart would spill and kill him, and was content by it. He needed nothing more than Wei Ying, and Wei Ying needed nothing more than him.