Xiè Lián never thought about marriage.
Perhaps, once upon a time, he anticipated the day his mother would suggest it but the actual act failed to cross his mind. He knew that he could have anyone he pleased, that people would come to the palace from all over the moment it was said he was looking for an intended. All it would have taken was a simple whisper of the topic to reach the ears of the eager-to-gossip maids. If it was something he wanted, his mother would’ve immediately begun the process of finding him a suitable bride and helped him along the way.
He knew all this, but never truly gave it a thought.
That was, at least, the case until tonight. Until he donned the bridal attire and began his walk with the supposed ghost groom. The other’s cold hand felt surprisingly nice in his warm one, his eyes trying to catch quick glimpses of its owner. Typically, one shouldn’t feel this calm when parading in the dark with a powerful and vengeful being, right? Perhaps the many years of life have taken its toll on his mind…
The time they shared on this walk felt as if it was carved and set aside just for him; a taste of the life he never got to have. It was that feeling, that thought, alone that allowed him to go with the flow. Should his groom attack him, then so be it. He sensed no ill intentions from the other, if anything he felt almost protected if the wolves’ reactions to him were to be counted as evidence.
When the two stopped, Xiè Lián had the passing thought to use Ruòyé and attempt to capture his target but couldn’t bring himself to do it. Surely, if he were the actual ghost groom then he would have tried to kill the Crown Prince by now.
Turning to face his mysterious companion, he suppressed the nerves that threatened to shake his body. The umbrella which had been shielding them from the sudden rain was gone and the hand that once held its handle moved to take his own free hand. The intimacy of this moment wasn’t lost on him, and he longed to see the face of the other. His breath hitched when the other male leaned close.
"May I get the name of my lovely bride this evening?" He asked, thumbs caressing the back of Xiè Lián's hands.
The god hesitated, for a moment, to answer. The battle of being truthful or not was a hard one, but he supposed since the other is technically his intended, lying wouldn't do. "Xiè Lián. Might I have yours?"
"You can call me Sān Láng," his groom replied, letting go of one hand to grasp the end of the veil Xiè Lián wore. "I wonder…"
Time seemed to move slowly as the veil was lifted and exposed the face it concealed. The Crown Prince's eyes widened as they took in the sight of Sān Láng, noting the eye patch before resuming their study of his face. The two were silent as they took each other in, neither moving as if afraid of breaking the spell that fell upon them.
After a few moments, Xiè Lián snapped out of it and gave him an apologetic look. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to stare."
Sān Láng chuckled softly, “Gēge can stare all he wishes, though there isn’t much to look at.”
The god blinked, realizing the other had seen through his disguise. “Does Sān Láng not mind that his bride isn’t female?”
“My bride is Gēge, that’s all that matters to me,” he responded truthfully. The answer made Xiè Lián’s ears turn hot and he felt a sudden bashfulness. “Does Gēge not mind that he is marrying this Sān Láng?”
“I…” The question made him pause. Did he mind? Well, he supposed since he never thought about this day in the first place it wouldn’t do to be picky. After all, how many chances would he get? “This Gēge believes this was fated, so I will accept Sān Láng as long as he accepts me.”
Xiè Lián watched the smile grace the other’s lips. The space between them began to shrink even further, and he felt a tad nervous. When the other was just a few centimeters away, he swore he could feel their breaths intermingle.
“I wouldn’t accept anyone else.”
With that declaration, the tiny gap closed and the god’s eyes widened as the other’s soft lips pressed against his own. It would be a moment or two before he relaxed into the kiss, his free hand finding purchase by grasping the taller man’s robes. In exchange, Sān Láng released the veil to gently cup his bride’s cheek. The kiss itself was a quiet passionate one; as if it was something the two of them have been seeking for their entire lives.
When they parted, Xiè Lián had a faint dusting of pink across his cheeks. It only served to make His Highness even more beautiful in Sān Láng’s eyes.
“Shall I show you to your new home, my beloved husband?” The younger asked.
The older male blinked, as if the moment finally dawned on him. All he could do was nod his consent as his face turned a darker shade.
Sān Láng gave the other a playful look as he released his face in order to grab a pair of dice from within his robes. With a quick roll, a portal opened much to the surprise of Xiè Lián, who stared at it. Taking the opportunity presented before him, the ghost released his companion and carefully picked him up bridal style. The involuntary squeak that left the god made the other chuckle once more.
Before he could take a step, the two heard shouting in the distance. Xiè Lián peeked over Sān Láng’s shoulder to try and see who was making all of the noise. He noticed the forms of Nán Fēng and Fú Yáo racing towards them, not a care for any of the skulls they were crushing. Honestly, it felt like Xiè Lián was the only one to notice them!
“Release His Highness this instant!” Nán Fēng shouted angrily, sending a blast of spiritual power their way.
When they got close enough, the approaching duo froze in horror at the realization of just who was carrying the Crown Prince. To Xiè Lián, they seemed torn; should they attack directly or let their mission leader be whisked away?
Sān Láng didn’t bother giving them the chance to come to a decision and turned around, completely ignoring their increasing demands. He strolled through the portal without a care and the god had to wonder just who his new husband was to elicit such reactions from his subordinates. He’d have to find out later, perhaps. As the portal closed behind them, he wondered idly if it would be the last time he saw his juniors.
It had taken a few days to get used to life in Ghost City, butXiè Lián thought himself to be adjusting well. He’s certainly had plenty of practice trying to fit in, and as the only living person he knows, he can only do so much.
After they had arrived, the god had posed the question of who Sān Láng really was if he could intimidate his stubborn subordinates. The other admitted the truth - or well, the rest of his identity. Honestly, it was Xiè Lián’s fault for not interviewing him further before impulsively marrying the man.
Hearing that the one he wedded was a Devastation was certainly something he never considered. If one were to ask if he was unlucky, Xiè Lián would claim the opposite. Despite his title, Huā Chéng was nothing but kind and respectful to him. He had anticipated his charming nature to vanish after the portal closed, to be shown his true nature. Except, he already had. It seemed his husband took his role seriously, always there by his side and showering him with undeserved affection.
The Crown Prince snapped out of his musings when he heard familiar footsteps enter the grand bedroom and turned his head to give their owner his attention. He wasn’t surprised to see the subject of his thoughts approach with a plate of steamed buns.
“Sān Láng,” he started as a smile adorned his features. “You needn’t spoil this Gēge.”
“Nonsense.” Huā Chéng softly scolded. “Gēge deserves the world and more, this is nothing.”
Knowing the other wouldn’t back down, Xiè Lián sighed and placed his book to the side. Motioning the other to join him on the bed, he turned his body so that it would be facing his husband. The ghost gladly accepted the invitation and carefully made his way to his favorite spot - right next to Xiè Lián. The god had found this amusing, the way the other would hover around him like a moth to a flame.
“Will Sān Láng help this Gēge finish all of these buns?”
“If that is what Gēge wants,” Huā Chéng agrees, offering the plate to the older male. “Then this Sān Láng will happily enjoy this meal with him.”
A comfortable silence fell between the two as they enjoyed the food the younger provided. At some point, Xiè Lián rested his head against Huā Chéng’s shoulder, completely at ease with the one beside him. A kiss was pressed to the top of the god’s head, resulting in a shy smile from the recipient.
Yes, Xiè Lián never thought about marriage but it seemed fate didn’t need him to after all.