Note for reading: where you see underlines/links, do click into them to see exactly what it is I'm talking about! Inspiration and thoughts came from so many sources on Kaeluc Twitter over the course of writing this, and it's only right that 1) the original authors get credited 2) you get to witness the hilarity/beauty I've seen. Also follow me on Twitter @xiaokaeluc I love attention and can't shut up about Genshin Impact xoxo
Now pure brainrot chaos let's go!!!!!!!!!!!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
People change a lot in their teens and early twenties.
Diluc left when they were both teenagers, and only returned once they were both in their twenties. This is why, even after getting together, Kaeya still struggles to understand his beloved sworn brother sometimes.
This is also how he finds himself in his current predicament—being the centre of the biggest scandal-slash-celebration of the nation in the last twenty years.
-Twenty minutes ago-
Kaeya groans, turning away and burying his head underneath his pillow. “Sunshine, it’s my day off…”
Diluc ignores the little flip his heart does at the endearment, choosing to drag the blankets off the other. Kaeya yelps at the sudden draft before whining, blindly reaching out. “Luc!”
“And you say that I’m the one who’s hard to wake,” Diluc mutters dryly, heading towards his closet to get changed. Kaeya grouses for a few more moments, but eventually he drags himself up and over to where Diluc is buttoning up his shirt, draping himself over his lover petulantly.
“You usually are, though… What’s the occasion…” Kaeya mumbles, sleepily breathing in Diluc’s scent as he nuzzles at the redhead’s neck. But to his surprise, where Diluc would usually entertain his antics, possibly even turn his head and kiss Kaeya’s forehead, Diluc steps away and pulls on a vest.
“Get dressed. I already had a full schedule today.”
Ah, the price of dating the richest person in all of Mondstadt. “Fine…”
By the time Kaeya is dressed in his casual clothing (okay, so maybe half of it was nicked out of Diluc’s closet) and descending the stairs to the dining room, Diluc is already deep in conversation with Adelinde, work diary in hand.
“…all of the staff,” Diluc says, his voice flat and undisguised, no hint of his false “Master Ragnvindr” charm or sweetness. “Main hall in five minutes.”
“Right away, Master Diluc,” Adelinde nods, bowing before she sweeps away. Diluc stays where he is, inspecting his schedule, and Kaeya takes the opportunity to watch him; Diluc’s eyes are razor-sharp, the corners of his mouth stern as he pages through the notebook. Kaeya actually likes him like this. Even if he isn’t the enthusiastic, energetic young pyromaniac of their childhood days, Kaeya will always prefer the real Diluc, however he is, whether it’s him pretending like he isn’t tearing up over a cliched romance novel, or him being overly serious and blasé from day to day, and even his slightly ridiculous dramatics as the infamous Darknight Hero.
He feels the faintest twinge in his chest as he studies the way the morning sun makes Diluc’s hair light up like a halo, eyelashes glimmering copper, and gods, he really has it bad.
Diluc catches Kaeya staring and turns his face to look at him. “What?”
“Nothing,” Kaeya says, making his way over and pulling Diluc’s back against him for a hug. This, surprisingly, he doesn’t resist; Diluc generally isn’t much for public displays of affection, even if their relationship is the worst-kept secret of the entire manor (well, that title might actually be Adelinde’s side-job). “I just thought gēge was really pretty today.”
“Be quiet,” Diluc mutters, but a flush peeks past his collar and he makes no attempt to push Kaeya away, so the captain counts that as a win. They like that for a few more moments, quietly savouring each other’s warmth, but Diluc eventually sighs and disentangles them. “Come on, main hall,” he says. Kaeya raises an eyebrow.
“Is something happening?”
“…engaged. Start wedding preparations for this winter. Adelinde, prepare a list of all the necessarily details that have to be settled. Elzer, inform Deaconess Barbara when you deliver the supplies to Angel’s Share today. That is all.”
Half the servants have their mouths hanging open. Kaeya is very close to doing the same. When no one moves, Diluc folds his arms and scowls. “Is something unclear?”
“No, Master!” the servants chorus hurriedly, bowing and scattering, too shocked to even hold off on the gossip until they’re out of earshot. Diluc watches them all go with the long-suffering air of a born-and-raised master of the house, and Kaeya is at a complete loss.
He has to go in to work tomorrow. Hell, if he shows his face in town today, he’d be swarmed within the next two hours. He has no idea how he’s going to look Jean in the eye when she tells him that the Knights have to increase patrols because of the city-wide chaos caused by the sudden news that the two most eligible bachelors of Mondstadt are now engaged, to each other.
Diluc turns to look at him. “Use your words, Sir Kaeya.”
“…I literally don’t know what to say.”
His fiancé shrugs. “That’s new.”
Kaeya gasps in mock offense at the insult, putting a hand over his heart. “Luc!”
“What?” Diluc frowns. “Were you not serious?”
I love you. I swear I ’ll treat you right. Please marry me, sweetheart.
Kaeya doesn’t even want to think about where he got the courage to say something so horrifically sincere and plaintive last night. His sense of self-preservation and ego must have still been asleep. “No! I mean, yes! Very serious,” Kaeya frantically says, catching Diluc’s hand and pressing a kiss to the soft skin over his knuckles in an attempt to reassure him. “Just. The whole announcement kind of took me by surprise.”
Diluc tilts his head. “Is there a reason to wait?”
“Um.” Kaeya thinks about it and comes up blank. “No, you’re right,” he admits. “Why a winter wedding though?”
Diluc furrows his brows at this, and Kaeya wants to kiss the frown off his soft lips. “Isn’t that what you’ve always wanted? A winter wedding?”
“…Yes, but how did you know?”
Diluc gives Kaeya a look that’s somewhere between exasperated and fond. “I’m getting married to you. I certainly hope I’d know something like that.”
“Winter is only five months away.”
Kaeya thinks he sees the barest flash of worry in amber eyes. “Is that too soon?”
“No! No, I… just don’t want you to overwork yourself? Doesn’t a lot go into planning a wedding?”
“If you don’t want me to overwork myself, then you could help,” Diluc grumbles, the I already know you will do nothing going unsaid.
Kaeya grins. “Absolutely not.”
“Of course,” Diluc says as he rolls his eyes, but his tone is fond as he slides an arm around Kaeya’s waist, pressing their sides together.
A wedding. He’s getting married. He’s getting married to Diluc. Kaeya is almost giddy at the idea.
“If my flowers are even half a shade off, I’m going to pitch a fit.”
“I will kill you.”
“Hmm, that’s kind of kinky, gē—”
He laughs, and despairing suitors and townsfolk be damned, Kaeya wouldn’t change a thing.
Diluc is good at absolutely everything he sets his mind to. From playing the violin to memorizing every line in the Ordo Favonius rulebook to demolishing entire bases of technologically-advanced spies with nothing more than a claymore and a lot of anger that he should probably go to therapy for—it’s an indisputable fact that the uncrowned king of Mondstadt deserves his title of prodigy, and then some.
So of course, Diluc is good at wedding planning, too.
If most people had to pick, Kaeya is the obvious choice for romantic between them, what with his witty, suave persona and all. Hell, his nickname is ‘Prince Charming’, for crying out loud!
But the truth is this: those blessed with a Pyro Vision are passionate and energetic, dedicated towards a singular cause; and Diluc Ragnvindr’s cause, is Kaeya Alberich.
Kaeya was joking about not helping, but in the next few months, Diluc goes through the paperwork and lists that Adelinde hands him with such a terrifying efficiency that Kaeya finds himself with nothing to do, even if he wanted to; his life goes on as usual with regards to his responsibilities.
His mental state, though.
Kaeya cannot get through a single patrol without catching some housewives whispering about him and Diluc, and he is, rather alarmingly, starting to get used to feeling either heartbroken gazes or murderous intent pinned to his back as he strolls through Mondstadt. He would really appreciate not choking to death on flowers, but Donna seems to have different ideas, so he gives the flower store a wide berth.
He manages to endure this for almost two whole months, but it’s his own men bringing up the topic that leads him to a dead end.
“Never thought you’d be the first one to settle down, Captain!” Athos hiccups, slamming his empty mug down on the table. Kaeya shoots him a placating smile, praying for the topic to go unnoticed, but Aramis, swaying in his seat, smacks Kaeya on the back and Archons give me patience, Kaeya is this close to placing them both on insubordination charges.
“How’d you even get with Master Diluc, of all people?” Aramis crows way too noisily, attracting attention from the other Angel’s Share patrons, whose ears prick up at the mention of the topic of mass speculation for the last two months.
“Perhaps you’ve had too much to drink,” Kaeya offers, smiling mask still fixed in place as he pries the man’s mug out of his hands. But Aramis seems hell-bent on risking his life like Reckless Pallad tonight, and he only gets louder in volume.
“He’s real pretty, that’s for sure! But what does he have that Ellin, or Miss Lisa doesn’t have?”
“The patience to deal with this, I suppose,” Kaeya mutters, sitting back in his chair and trying to ignore his rising headache.
“Captain,” Aramis suddenly jerks forward, but he leans a bit too much to the side the next moment. “This isn’t some political thing, is it? Are you being forced into this?”
“Aramis, I really suggest you head home for the night—”
“Captain, you can tell us!”
“Yeah! We support you, Captain!”
“…What the hell,” Kaeya groans, sliding out of his seat and escaping to the bar instead. Diluc is there, wiping down some glasses, and he barely glances over as Kaeya drops onto a bar stool.
“What would you like?” Diluc asks automatically, and Kaeya’s mood instantly improves at the unintentional opening that his fiancé’s left. Not one to let an opportunity pass, Kaeya leans forwards with a cheeky grin.
“Can I get a kiss, then?”
Diluc cocks his head. “Now?”
Kaeya stops in his tracks. “Huh?”
The ensuing… incident starts a downright astonishing amount of scandal, but it definitely puts to rest one thing—neither Master Ragnvindr nor Captain Alberich were forced into their arrangement.
“For the wedding, I was thinking…”
“…This is slander and contempt.”
“Slander, no. That implies that it’s untrue. But contempt? Yes.”
“I will hit you.”
“Wow, I’m incredibly afraid.”
“Hm. Then… what if I make it up to you?”
“Shh, the maids are still outside. Unless you want everyone to hear?”
Kaeya walks into the manor and almost immediately, his nose is hit with a heady, sweet scent that he can’t quite place. Curiosity piqued, he trails after it into the kitchen, and…
Diluc glances up from where he’s sat by the kitchen worktable, where a dizzying array of ingredients are laid across the surface, along with a stack of books, several metal pans, and a whole host of kitchen equipment that Kaeya’s not even sure he can begin to name, much less figure out the use of. Diluc adjusts his glasses, frowning, and while Kaeya has to resist the urge to coo at how adorable the sight is, he’s still confused. “What are you doing?”
“Cake,” is all Diluc offers by way of answer, though he reaches an arm out to pull Kaeya in, pressing snugly against the curve of Kaeya’s waist as his shoulders droop in clear exhaustion.
Kaeya can’t help the amusement that creeps into his voice. “Cake?”
“What flavour?” Kaeya asks, reaching out to the nearest mixing bowl to swipe some of the frosting. However, Diluc correctly predicts his fiancé’s complete inability to behave and catches his arm without even looking away from his notes.
“Do you want to be surprised, or do you actually want to know?”
“…” Not for the first time since wedding preparations began, Kaeya’s surprised by how well Diluc knows him—really, really knows him. “…You’re right, I want to be surprised.”
“Aren’t you worried that you won’t like it?”
“You picked it. You’re the master chef here.”
The praise makes the corner of Diluc’s mouth quirk up—and if that’s the reason Kaeya’s late for his next shift that day, no one else needs to know.
“I’m home!” Kaeya announces, peeling off his cloak and tossing it over a nearby chair. Diluc is already in bed, a few notebooks scattered around him and pen in hand, scarlet hair loose around his shoulders. Kaeya leans in to kiss him, but Diluc immediately blocks his attempt with a well-placed hand.
“Go shower. You smell terrible,” Diluc says flatly, not looking up from his writing. Kaeya cranes his neck to see what’s taken his fiancé’s attention, and he realizes that it’s a sketch for the wedding decor.
“Hm, why is there no white? Isn’t that what weddings should have?” Kaeya asks, but for some reason Diluc shoots him an absolutely chilling look, and Kaeya momentarily wonders if the Vision on the nightstand suddenly changed into a Cryo one while he wasn’t paying attention.
“You plan it then, if you’re so inclined.”
“Why would I do anything when I could just be an insufferable brat and let my perfect fiancé plan everything to flawless, exacting detail?” Kaeya grins, pressing his face against Diluc’s shoulder as the latter heaves a sigh, no doubt irritated at getting dirty again. However, a gentle hand cards through Kaeya’s hair and he feels the tension in his body melt away, and Kaeya allows himself to drop the smile for a moment.
In truth, he’s completely exhausted and feels like he might collapse at any second. He’s been picking up shift after extra shift, and his nightly ‘excursions’ weren’t exactly easy, what with having to root out entire camps of Fatui spies and hilichurls and Abyss Mages, all while avoiding recognition by his own colleagues. In hindsight, he has no idea how Diluc managed it all this time.
“I’d love to see you in a white dress,” Kaeya murmurs, and the words accidentally come out less teasing, and more sincere. A brief silence hangs in the air, and just Kaeya’s about to take them back with a joke, Diluc speaks.
“Your knives were in terrible condition.”
What a change of topic. “Are they?”
“I got them sharpened.”
“The Darknight Hero has the time for trivial issues like that?”
“The Darknight Hero,” Diluc returns, “has noticed a much-appreciated decrease in criminal activity around the city in the recent weeks.” He makes no mention of the oxidizing stains on Kaeya’s gloves, or the faint Electro burns on his arms, or the pouch full of confiscated Fatui blades strapped to his side. “Now go take that bath. You’re actually filthy.”
Diluc presses a kiss to the crown of Kaeya’s head, and this time, Kaeya can’t help smiling.
“Luc, can we—”
“But I haven’t even—”
Diluc fixes Kaeya with a withering stare. “Kaeya, I know you’re only doing this to raise my blood pressure, but we are not having a live peacock at our wedding.”
“Are you keeping your last name?”
Kaeya blinks at his fiancé across the breakfast table. He… hadn’t even considered that question before. “You can’t exactly drop the Ragnvindr name, Luc.”
Diluc scoffs, flipping over the documents in his hands. “Of course not. But that doesn’t mean you have to change your name, either.”
“Does it not?” Kaeya puts down his utensils and leans back, contemplating for a moment before he smirks. “Well, Mr. And Mrs. Ragnvindr doesn’t sound too bad.”
Kaeya can just hear the warning in Diluc’s growl. “Mrs?”
“Something wrong with that?”
“You’re the one marrying into the family.”
“Wait, so I won’t get to see my pretty gēge walking down the aisle?”
“I am going to deck you. Absolutely not.”
“Oh?” He stands and makes his way to the other side of the table, where Diluc is seated, leaning in close and effectively trapping his fiancé against the high back of the chair. “But if anyone is the blushing bride between us—” he murmurs, running his fingers through Diluc’s loose hair and tugging at the roots, and Diluc’s breath hitches in the most satisfying way. “Wouldn’t that be you, Luc?”
“You’re shameless,” Diluc snaps, swatting Kaeya’s hands away and standing, but the pink on his cheeks only reinforces Kaeya’s point. Adorable. “Decide and let me know. No funny business,” he huffs, as he leaves the dining hall in a whirl of red.
Kaeya watches him go, and as the door shuts, he sinks into Diluc’s abandoned chair, burying his face in his hands and laughing, helpless.
I have it bad. I have it so, so bad.
Later that evening, after he gets home from work, Kaeya can’t find Diluc inside the manor. Puzzled, he goes through all of the latter’s usual haunts—his office, the basement, the attic, the abandoned grapevines in the far east… but Diluc isn’t at any of those places. On his way back to the manor, he catches sight of Adelinde watering some flowers, and he waves her over.
“Have you seen Diluc?” he asks. Adeline gives him a look he can’t quite decipher, and he’s about to ask her why she’s looking at him like that when she responds.
“He’s at Master Crepus’s grave.”
Kaeya is tempted to continue his route back into the manor, wait for Diluc to return in his own time; but he thinks about his sworn brother, alone by a grey tombstone, and before he realizes it, he finds himself on the path to the Ragnvindr mausoleum. He passes through most of the vineyards, climbs up a small hill—briefly, he wonders if the reason the mausoleum is where it is, is so that they can continue to see the sun rise every morning.
The gates are unlocked, and they swing open easily when Kaeya pushes them. Diluc isn’t far, sitting next to the newest, lightest gravestone, his back turned to the entrance.
Despite having come all the way, Kaeya hesitates to call out; should he even be here? Should he turn around and leave? The reason they’d fallen out so bitterly, after all, was—
Diluc’s voice snaps his out of his reverie. His fiancé is looking at him, eyes drawn and pensive, but he pats the empty spot next to him and carefully, Kaeya takes it as an invitation to sit. “What are you doing here?” Diluc asks.
“I was looking for you,” Kaeya answers simply. Diluc gives a small nod in response; then, Diluc shuffles in closer and wraps his arms around him, curly hair tickling his cheek as Diluc rests his head against Kaeya’s shoulder, and they both look at Crepus’s grave.
They say nothing. There’s too much in the air, all the losses and grief and history collected over the years coming to weigh on their shoulders, crushingly heavy. They cling to one another, seeking shelter in the only safe place they know, and Kaeya’s hand comes up to stroke Diluc’s hair as time turns onward apathetically.
People often forgot that behind the bickering and posturing, more than anything else, Diluc and Kaeya were a pair of adoring partners, desperately in love.
Love me. Look for me. Pay attention to me, more than anything else, and don ’t leave me.
You have me. You ’ll always have me. Don’t worry. Wherever you are, I’ll come to you, and I’ll never leave.
“You want who to do what?”
“Relax! She can behave… sometimes?”
“This is a wedding, not an assassination attempt on half of the Ordo Favonius!”
“You would be pleased though, no?”
“Absolutely no Jumpy Dumpties will be found. I swear on Barbatos. Albedo’s already promised to keep an eye on her for the entire day.”
“Add Jean to watch duty, and then we’ll talk.”
Diluc groans. “How did this happen, again?”
“Hey, it’ll be something to remember.”
“Does Paimon even have any actual authority to officiate the ceremony?”
“I mean… if Barbara allows it, then it should be fine, right…?”
A few years ago, when the position of 8th Company Captain was up for deliberation, Kaeya was the one who’d suggested a practice duel between Lisa and Nymph to settle the matter. This was the story being told to Lumine and Paimon over lunch, with all of Kaeya’s usual dramatics, when Barbara had appeared.
“Captain Kaeya!” Barbara waved in greeting, “I’ve been looking for you! These papers are missing your signature.”
“Hm?” Kaeya took them, glancing over the contents and realizing what they were. “These are… ah, I guess even Diluc messes up when he’s too busy. Here.”
An odd sound resembling muffled struggling came from the other side of the table, and Kaeya looked back over to see a frantic Lumine trying to clap and hand over Paimon’s mouth, to no avail as the… spirit? Companion? Emergency rations? Floated up and out of reach.
“Barbara, are you the one officiating Sir Kaeya and Master Diluc’s wedding ceremony?” Paimon asked, with that sneaky, up-to-no-good look on her face. Barbara, bless her soul, was far too innocent and naive to realize that something was up, so she nodded with a wide smile.
“Yes! It’s one of my duties as Deaconess, and a great honour.”
Paimon waved one of her hands, then pointed directly at Barbara. “Paimon challenges you to a duel to officiate the wedding!
Lumine gave Kaeya a Look, as if to say look at what you’ve done, which, okay, maybe he did have a reputation for manipulating others into ridiculous situations for his own amusement, but not at the risk of his own wedding! But it was fine, because there was no way Barbara would—
And that was how they all ended up in the present situation: Lumine with her head in her hands in mortification, Lisa (who heard the commotion and came to watch) barely containing her laughter, and Barbara slumped over the table, dazed, as Paimon wriggles in the air, revelling in her victory over a dozen empty plates of what used to be Sticky Honey Roasts.
Diluc’s not even mad. “…I thought that bard could drink, but the Honorary Knight’s companion…”
“Where does all that food even go?”
“Let’s… let’s not question it.”
“Luc, what am I going to do…”
“Consider being quiet, for once in your life?”
They’re separated by a thick curtain, each with their own tailor making final adjustments to their chosen outfits. Because of their conflicting schedules, all of their previous fittings had taken place at different times, and this meant that Kaeya had absolutely no idea what Diluc was wearing. However, as the one who had coordinated the details in the first place, Diluc knew what Kaeya was wearing. This was a clear imbalance of power, and Kaeya was determined to right this egregious wrong before the end of the day.
However, if Kaeya outright stated that he wanted to look at Diluc’s wedding outfit, he knew that the latter would intentionally withhold the opportunity just to get back at all of Kaeya’s teasing over the years (Kaeya brushes away the thought that he’s only reaping what he’s sown, because Diluc has gotten almost as good at petty vengeances and pranks from extensive experience at being on the receiving end of Kaeya’s nonsense).
So. The plan.
Kaeya is a very vain man. His daily uniform is more complicated than what some (most) people wear to formal events, he spends close to an hour every morning getting ready, and heck, his constellation is the Pavo Ocellus—Kaeya was quite literally born to preen. So it comes as no surprise to anyone if he’s excruciatingly fussy about his wedding outfit, perhaps to the point where Diluc would snap and comes over to stop him.
“I told you I would pitch a fit if the colours are even half a shade off,” Kaeya whines, winking at the tailor and putting a finger up to his lips.
Diluc’s voice, muffled as it is behind the curtain, is clearly irritated. “These are not your flowers. And you picked the alterations.”
“Well, maybe you should have picked instead. I’m sure you look wonderful.”
“…Kaeya, even if it’s Ordo Favonius uniform, it can’t be that bad.”
“But it is! I simply cannot get married like this,” he calls out, louder, “it would—”
“Would what?” Diluc finally snaps, yanking the curtains aside, and Kaeya was ready with any number of quips or teases for this moment, but they all die in his throat as it sinks into his mind just how handsome Diluc looks, dressed in a suit resplendent in silken red and off-white, gold trimmings befitting his noble status sharply accenting small sections of black.
“You look fine, what on earth are you fussing about?” Diluc mutters, oblivious to his fiancé’s mental breakdown as he pulls the curtains back into place. “Felix, you have my express permission to stab him with a pin if he keeps kicking up a fuss.”
The threat turns out to be unnecessary. Kaeya is spectacularly well-behaved for the rest of the fitting, to the point where Diluc starts eyeing him with suspicion as they thank and bid farewell to the tailors at the end of it. And Diluc’s “Kaeya-is-up-to-some-nonsense-again-isn’t-he” detector proves flawless when Kaeya locks the doors, grins, and pounces on his sworn brother.
On the day of the wedding, Kaeya wakes up alone for the first time in a long time.
Still half-asleep, he automatically gropes around the empty side of the bed, trying to find his beloved, but then he remembers that they agreed to sleep separately so that they could each get ready for the ceremony (without, Diluc had stated, Kaeya attempting to make them late at every stage of the process). Which, fair, so Kaeya had spent the night at his old apartment in the city. And as if on cue, he hears the front door burst open.
“Rise and shine, Captain! It’s your special day!”
“How rare for you to be up this early, Miss Lisa,” Kaeya yawns, climbing out of bed and opening his bedroom door. Indeed, Lisa is there, and Barbara trails in after her, a basket on her arm. “Hm?” Kaeya blinks, confused. “Deaconess? Aren’t you supposed to be with Diluc?”
“Master Diluc refused to have any makeup put on, apparently,” Lisa notes dryly. “He’s a bit like a cat, isn’t he?”
A minor alarm bell chimes in the back of his head; Diluc isn’t the type to fuss about something like that. But Kaeya’s too sleepy and nervous to think too closely about it. “Diluc’s already awake?”
Barbara giggles. “For ages, apparently. I’ve seen less fussy brides!”
Kaeya laughs at that, even as he pulls out some chairs for them and gestures for them to sit. “He is the bride.”
He misses the way Lisa and Barbara exchange looks before the former digs into the basket for Kaeya’s wedding outfit. “Well then,” the librarian beams, “shall we get you ready to steal him away?”
“Stealing” Diluc away was not quite literal, but also not quite metaphorical.
See, across Teyvat, there exists a wedding tradition known as the door games. Traditionally, the groom would go to the bride’s ancestral home on the day of the wedding to “steal” her away. In response, the bride’s family and friends would set up challenges to thwart him, forcing the groom to prove himself worthy of taking the bride’s hand in marriage. The obstacles could range from something like naming all of the bride’s favorite flowers, to picking out her handwriting among a hundred sheets of paper, and even to beating someone in a game of poker.
The variety was absolutely endless, hilarious, and prime ground for both drama and nonsense to spring up.
Kaeya had simply assumed that he would be the one forced to play the games for Diluc, because he couldn’t imagine his grumpy cat of a fiancé subjecting himself to the variety of torment the events could bring. But when he brought it up offhandedly a month before the wedding, while they were cuddling in bed, Diluc had surprised him yet again.
“Gēge, please be nice to me with the door games, okay?”
“Isn’t that something I should be saying to you, you brat?”
“Huh? Are you… wait, what?”
“Wait, you’re the one coming to get me?”
“You’re the one marrying into the family.”
“But you’re the bride!”
“Hm, I see how it is. You’re afraid that with my charm and wit, I’d get past everything with no problems~”
“That isn’t—do not turn this into a competition.”
“Scared you’ll lose, sunshine?”
“ Mark your words, Kaeya Alberich. ”
And this was the reason they were here now, on opposite sides of Dawn Winery.
After arriving, Lisa and Barbara say their farewells and go off to
torment Diluc fulfil their roles as part of Kaeya’s party. As he steps through the front entrance and into the foyer, Kaeya’s greeted by Jean, Albedo, Klee, Lumine, and Paimon.
“Good morning!” he chirps, bright smile covering the slight anxiety running through his system. None of them are particularly sadistic (honestly, he feels bad for Diluc having to contend with Lisa and Adelinde), but Kaeya’s been to some Mondstadian weddings before, and the door games tended to devolve into absolute chaos, even without Vision holders; let alone three of them and two inter-dimensional travellers of dubious origin.
“Kaeya-gēge!” Klee squeals, launching herself at him. Kaeya laughs and sweeps her up into his arms, taking care to hold her puffy hat in place. “Gēge looks so handsome!”
“I do, don’t I?” Kaeya preens, turning this way and that for Klee to admire his intricate outfit. As he’s actually not just a Captain, but also the Quartermaster of the Knights, even his wedding is considered an Ordo Favonius event. This is why he’s wearing the formal officer’s uniform for the occasion, the cut and detailing of it highlighting his rank. He isn’t wearing the outermost coat or fur trim, wary of it getting damaged before the ceremony, but he already cuts a rather dashing figure in rest of the ensemble. Klee’s only too happy to go along with Kaeya’s vanity, cheering and clapping.
“You do, you do!”
A soft cough interrupts his impromptu fashion show, and Lumine claps her hands together. “Good morning, Sir Kaeya!” she says, before gesturing at a glass of wine on a table with an innocent smile. “It’s a hot day, isn’t it? Would you like a drink?”
“It’s winter,” Kaeya points out. Lumine shrugs.
There’s definitely something wrong with the beverage. Kaeya unloads Klee before picking the glass up and inspecting it; it looks and smells like a regular glass of dandelion wine, but just too obvious that something isn’t right. “Not to sound ungrateful, but could I get a new glass?” he tries, throwing a side glance back at Lumine, but she smirks and shakes her head.
“Can the Calvary Captain not handle one drink?” she teases, and with everyone’s eyes on him Kaeya knows that this is his first barrier of the day. Sighing, he shuts his eyes and raises the glass to his lips, before downing the entire concoction in one go, and Kaeya’s not sure if he regrets it or not when the acrid, overwhelming taste of salt absolutely burns its way down his throat and tongue.
“What the f—!” Kaeya splutters, nearly dropping the glass as he goes into a coughing fit.
“Language,” Albedo chides serenely, covering Klee’s ears.
“What,” Kaeya winces, clearing his throat, “was that just sea water or something?”
“No, just wine and a few tablespoons of salt,” Lumine shrugs, looking reluctantly impressed. “I didn’t think you would down it all in one go, though…”
“Kaeya, are you okay?” Jean, bless her soul, is the only one with the brain cells to be concerned, though Kaeya waves it off.
“Won’t kill me. Just… a normal glass of water might be nice.”
After Kaeya returns to a somewhat normal level of salinity, Paimon darts out of Lumine’s shadow and presents him with a heavy ring of keys.
“You have to go upstairs next!” she announces, and Kaeya can see her straining to hold up the weight of what looks easily looks like fifty near-identical keys. “You and Master Diluc will compete to reach the library first. Now, you have to pick out the key to—”
“—the drawing room—wait, what?”
Kaeya laughs easily, taking the ring of keys from her. “I know exactly what every single key to this manor looks like, Paimon. This is the only one that fits any of the doors.” He demonstrates with a swirl of Cryo, and a key of ice forms in the palm of his hands; from the ring, he holds up a single key, and it makes a perfect match.
“What a useful application,” Albedo muses, nodding in approval. Jean just sighs the long-suffering sigh of an Acting Grandmaster to such eccentric characters.
“The drawing room, you say?” Kaeya says, heading up the stairs. Klee bounces alongside him, tugging at his hand.
“It’s Klee’s challenge next! Albedo-gēge helped me plan it!”
If Albedo was involved, it shouldn’t be too dangerous, Kaeya thinks to himself, missing the immediate look of concern that comes across both Jean and Lumine’s faces. “Klee is keeping me away from my wife? Do I have to defeat a big, scary monster?” he teases, feigning hurt, and Klee shakes her head frantically.
“No! Jean said I had to use up time, Klee isn’t trying to bother gēge!”
“I’m just teasing you, Little Klee,” Kaeya laughs as they come up to the drawing room, though as he unlocks the door, he dimly wonders why Jean used such a specific phrase like ‘use up time’. “So, what would you have me do to rescue Diluc?”
The door swings open. “Oh my god,” Jean gasps. From the sound of it, she might faint. Truth be told, Kaeya isn’t too far either.
From floor to ceiling, the drawing room is absolutely covered in bombs. The couch, the tables, the ground, the bookshelves… heck, even the piano has a few red spheres peeking out of the back. Kaeya whirls around in disbelief, staring at Albedo, who has the most innocent smile on his face.
“No Jumpy Dumpties, yes,” the alchemist nods sagely. “None of these are Jumpy Dumpties.”
Jean pins Albedo with a scathing look. “We are going to have a talk when this is over,” she hisses. But the Chalk Prince just continues smiling, completely unbothered, and he nudges a few bombs aside to plop himself down on the couch with his sketchbook.
Klee, oblivious to the sheer panic coursing through the adults, beams. “Find the real bomb!”
On the other side …
Well, not actually on the other side. Diluc is standing on the roof of the Knight’s HQ, tugging his glider into place across his back. The wind is strong enough to muss his hair in its ponytail, and he wonders, staring, how Amber’s ribbon doesn’t fly off.
“It’s an honour to compete against you, Master Diluc!” Amber chimes, saluting him. A pang of embarrassment hits him and Diluc waves her off, putting on a gentle smile.
“I’ve heard a lot about your accomplishments, Outrider,” he offers as a deflection, stepping up onto the ledge of the roof. “Do go easy on me.”
Amber blushes up to her ears at that, but she hops up onto the ledge as well and clears her throat in an impressive display of professionalism. “Well, um, just to confirm the rules again: we glide from here to the gates of the city, and then take a horse back to the winery. The loser has to drink a bottle of dandelion wine!”
Diluc snorts. “Is that really a punishment for anyone but me?”
Amber shrinks a little. “Ah, it was… it was Captain Kaeya’s idea.”
Of course it was. “It’s not your fault,” Diluc sighs. “Let’s go. Time is ticking.”
Energy returns to her and Amber nods fiercely, pulling down her goggles. “Alright! On the count of three.”
They both leap off the rooftop, and the sounds of cheering from the gathered townsfolk ring out below. Diluc unfurls his wings almost immediately, but Amber practically nosedives the plunge down, slamming hers open scant meters from the ground.
Picking up speed like that… I can see why her license has been revoked twenty times, Diluc muses, angling himself to catch a wind current. The breeze sweeps them both forwards and soon, they’re streaming through the air like birds of prey.
Diluc’s not a bad glider by any means, but Amber is fast. He realizes how the Outrider division has remained operational with only one unit it in as he watches the way she zips through alleyways that he wouldn’t even think of going close to, snatching up air currents that he doesn’t even notice and leaving him measures behind. Archons, he thinks, does she have a Pyro or Anemo Vision?
He loses sight of her for a few moments near the gates as she turns the corner, but Diluc hears Noelle’s voice on the wind and the clinking of stirrups, and Amber reappears atop a chestnut horse, headed at full speed for the winery in a cloud of dust.
It takes almost half a minute more for Diluc’s feet to hit the ground, and he knows that Amber is long gone. Noelle shoots him a worried look as she unties his horse from the railings; a pure-black mare, infamous among the Ordo for her fussy temper, clearly chosen to slow him down even more.
But Diluc, for his part, has no concerns; he leaps into the saddle in a single graceful motion, snatches up the reins, and shows everyone how he made Captain at the age of fourteen.
Back on the other side …
“Albedo, which one is the bomb.”
“I—” Jean throws her hands up in frustration. “This is going nowhere.”
After learning that all the bombs were duds (save for one), the adults (and Paimon) had somehow both calmed down and panicked even more. Kaeya is sitting on the piano bench, arms folded in contemplation as his heel worries a hole into the ground.
“Albedo was involved, so at the very least it’s not going to kill anyone,” he thinks out loud. An odd look comes across Lumine’s face at this, but for the sake of his own sanity Kaeya chooses to ignore it. “Tell me at least this,” he offers, “Did you or Klee choose where the real one was placed?”
“Klee did,” Albedo says, patting his sister on the head with an adoring look. Klee giggles and hugs him, and Kaeya would find the whole scene very fluffy and charming if not for the fact that they were, at present, a pair of pyromaniac siblings who just unrepentantly planted a literal bomb in his fiancé’s house.
“Klee, you wanna give your gēge a hint?” Kaeya attempts, and judging from the way her face brightens up she nearly falls for the trap, but Albedo claps a hand over her mouth without looking away from his sketchbook. Ah, that brat… Kaeya thinks silently.
“…Maybe it’s a little too dangerous,” Paimon says, rubbing her head. “What if the bomb goes off while we’re all here?”
“As Captain Kaeya said, it’s not going to kill anyone,” Albedo points out.
“It’s a bomb! Isn’t that still dangerous?!”
“You’re emergency rations, why are you concerned?”
“How will I know when I’ve found the right one?” Kaeya asks, leaning back against the cover of the piano with feigned nonchalance.
“You’ll know,” comes the mysterious response.
It has something different about it that’s apparent immediately. It’s not appearance, especially at this scale. Is it… Texture? Weight? Kaeya nudges one of the bombs over with his foot, ignoring the way Lumine and Paimon both flinch and start edging towards the door. The bomb topples down easily, its thin bunny-shaped ears smacking against the floor, and Kaeya and his years of experience chasing down Jumpy Dumpties all over Mondstadt suddenly realizes what’s different about all the duds; that they fall over.
Contrary to popular belief, Klee didn’t throw her bombs around willy-nilly. She was taught by her mother the best way to identify fault lines and weak spots, so she placed every one of her bombs with great care. Thus, every one of them was weighted like a roly-poly and always stayed upright so that they would remain where she placed them.
“Jean,” Kaeya says, “could you please send a breeze through this room?”
She stares at him in disbelief. “Kaeya, there is a bomb in here.”
“Acting Grandmaster, trust me.”
Jean slowly raises her hand. “I’m only doing this because I can’t imagine you’d want to ruin your own wedding day.”
“Diluc would have my head if I did.”
“That’s your concern?”
Kaeya shrugs as the first flutters of Anemo start swirling through the room. “Is there anything else more important?”
The tension in the dining hall could slice though Lawachurl armour.
Electro and Pyro is sparking through the air, and poor Barbara has been hiding behind Noelle’s shield for the better part of the last thirty minutes, smoothing down her hair every now and then. Lisa has her arms folded, sitting back in her chair with her eyes closed, hat perched on her lap.
“D6 to D5.”
“E3 to E5,” Diluc returns, similarly having shut his eyes. He’s discarded his coat for the time being, the elaborate piece draped over the back of his seat. His face is tilted up towards the ceiling, as if he’s deep in thought, but it makes for a rather odd image to their spectators as neither Diluc nor Lisa are looking at the other.
“…Seriously, what are they doing?” Amber whispers near-inaudibly, also hiding behind Noelle at the other end of the dining table. The last time she spoke, at a normal volume, both Diluc and Lisa instantly snapped to glare at her with such intensity that she thought she would get vaporized on the spot. The bottle of dandelion wine she had to drink as ‘punishment’ is long empty, but she still clutches it between her hands.
“They are playing a game of chess,” Adelinde supplies, and the girls all stare at her blankly. Amber points at the duo.
“They’re just sitting there.”
“G6 to G8.”
Adelinde shrugs, not seeing a problem. “Yes.”
Diluc spends several minutes in silence, unmoving. Just as Amber starts wondering if he fell asleep, he speaks up. “…D3 to F3.”
“E8 to C6.”
“Er, Miss Adelinde,” Noelle tries politely, “I think Amber means to say that there’s literally no chessboard on the table.” And has not been, for the past half an hour.
Diluc heaves an exhausted sigh, sinking further into his chair. “B3 to B4.”
Adelinde frowns. “Oh, my.”
One of Lisa’s hands come up to massage at her temples. “C6 to E8,” she murmurs, and Diluc’s eyes fly open abruptly; he stares at Lisa, like he can’t believe what he’s just heard.
“F3 to F5,” he says quickly. “Check.”
Lisa frowns, and her finger starts tapping against her arm. “…H7 to H8.”
“F5 to F6.”
Adelinde makes a noise of shock, but the girls huddled on the couch still have no idea what’s happening. Lisa’s tapping speeds up, her eyes remaining firmly shut, and the furrow in her brow deepens. She’s silent for several long minutes, and her response comes reluctantly.
“G7 to F6.”
“F1 to F6.”
“…My, how bold,” Lisa finally says, some amusement creeping into her tone. “Would you like to draw?”
“No,” Diluc answers shortly, an edge to his voice as he starts dragging a fingernail over his sleeve. Is that a nervous tick? Amber didn’t even think that the uncrowned king of Mondstadt had a single bad habit.
“E8 to H5.”
“F6 to F8.”
The room falls silent again after Diluc’s reply. “Why do I feel like someone’s about to die or something?” Amber asks worriedly, and Barbara shoots her a look.
“Don’t say that!”
“H8 to G7.”
“I can’t stand this,” Amber whimpers. “I don’t even know what I don’t know!”
“E7 to E8. Promote to queen.”
“E4 to E2. Check.”
Diluc straightens up. “King to F1.”
“H5 to H3,” Lisa offers, and Diluc immediately fires back.
“F1 to E2.”
“H3 to… G2.”
“Why am I so nervous?”
Diluc’s voice raises near-imperceptibly. “F8 to F2.”
“G2 to E4.”
Diluc stands so abruptly that his chair skids back with an ear-splitting noise and Amber squeaks, and he slams a hand down on the table. “King to D2!”
The silence in the dining hall is deafening. No one moves for a few long moments.
“…” Eventually, Lisa opens her eyes, a clear exhaustion in them but a faint smile pulling at her lips. “Well played, Master Diluc. I resign.”
“Well played, Lisa,” Diluc groans as he reaches out to shake her hand, shoulders sagging in relief. “Truly the finest academic of Sumeru.”
“Oh, nonsense,” Lisa giggles. “We should play again sometime,” she offers, and Diluc smiles weakly.
“I would definitely enjoy a game more when my wedding isn’t at stake, yes.”
“What a stunning match, Master, Miss Lisa,” Adelinde claps, close to tears. “It was an honour to witness it.”
Lisa smirks. “I didn’t expect such aggressive moves there. It seems like someone is impatient to get to his fiancé.” Red tints the tips of Diluc’s ears, and he coughs into his fist.
“Nonsense. I had to close the game there or risk losing.”
“Whatever you say, Master Diluc,” Lisa laughs, the sound bright like windchimes. “Now, what about the next challenge?”
“I will retrieve the necessary items,” Adelinde bows, sweeping away soundlessly.
As Diluc and Lisa start discussing and complimenting their respective strategies, Noelle, Amber, and Barbara remain helplessly confused.
“Did we use enough time?” Klee asks Jean in what’s clearly an attempt to be discreet, but her voice carries through the corridor as they move to the final location.
“Why are you so concerned with using up time?” Kaeya asks, giving in to his curiosity. “What on earth are you putting Diluc through?” To his surprise, Jean blushes and casts her gaze to the ground, and it’s Noelle who answers.
“Acting Grandmaster Jean made a bet with Miss Lisa on the outcome of the door games,” she says, and Kaeya makes a gasp of mock affront.
“Jean! Gambling, and on one of your own officer’s weddings?”
“Lisa started it!” she defends herself frantically, before realizing that she essentially admitted to her crime. “…Alright, yes. Lisa and I agreed on a bet to ensure that neither side would end up helping either of you.”
“Oh, I know, I know!” Klee cheers, raising her hand enthusiastically. “I heard! If Lisa-jiĕjie loses, she has to cook for Jean! And if Jean loses, Jean has to do whatever—”
“That’s enough there, Klee!” Amber yells, red-faced as she practically hauls Klee into her arms. Jean isn’t much better, and Kaeya snickers at her expense as they come up to the library doors, but he decides to graciously offer her an out.
“The last challenge is yours, isn’t it? What is it?” he asks, and Jean’s expression is visibly relieved at the change in topic.
“We have to wait for Master Diluc’s side to arrive first,” she says, before sighing. “You really got through everything too quickly. Even the bombs…”
“Did you want me to not find it before it exploded?”
“No! Of course not! Barbatos, I’m having a word with those two,” Jean groans.
“Hasn’t stopped them before.
“One can hope.”
There’s a wooden click on the other side of the room, past the heavy curtain down the centre, and voices and footsteps filter in. “Jean? Kaeya? Are you there?” Lisa’s voice calls.
“Yep! Seems like you’ve won your little bet,” Kaeya responds, and Lisa’s tinkling laughter fills the room.
“Anyhow, it’s convenient that you’re both here. Now, for your final tasks, whoever completes it first wins. Noelle?”
“On this side, Master Diluc will retrieve items fitting the descriptions on this list. We will be the judges of whether his choices qualify.”
“Qualify?” comes Diluc’s voice, “What kind of descriptions are there?”
There’s a faint crinkling of paper, and silence. Then: “What the f—
“Language!” Albedo and Lisa snap simultaneously. Klee blinks up at everyone with wide eyes.
“Ahem… and as for you,” Jean cuts in, turning back to Kaeya, “your last task… is to sing a love song for Diluc.”
You see, Acting Grandmaster Jean was still a maiden at heart, being a huge fan of cliche, sappy romance novels like Vera’s Melancholy; so even if she couldn’t admit it out loud, she couldn’t resist taking the opportunity to see such a moment like this for herself.
However, what she forgot was that she was dealing with one Kaeya Alberich, the most shameless, over-dramatic bastard in all of Teyvat.
Kaeya lets out a wolfish grin, and Jean suddenly wonders if she’s gotten them all into something they can never take back. “Does anyone have a guitar?” Kaeya asks.
“Do not give him a guitar!” Diluc yells.
“I’m sure there’s one in the drawing room. Noelle, if you please?”
“Miss Noelle, do not—”
“Ah, ah,” Kaeya clicks his tongue. “I formally outrank you, sweetheart. Noelle, this is an order.”
Her light footsteps fade out of the room. For a moment, Kaeya thinks that he can feel the temperature rising, but then Diluc just lets out a loud, resigned sigh, and he flops into a chair.
(Author ’s note: Let me interrupt your reading here to tell you to please listen to this as you read this section because it absolutely took my f****** lungs out when SP-Kaeluc nation on Twitter popped off, this is an absolute Experience of Kaeyacore nonsense, you OWE it to yourself to do this, anyway, back to the fic)
“I’m going to die,” Diluc curses.
“It’s not that bad,” Lisa says, but her eyes are filled with tears of mirth as she muffles her cackles into her hat. Paimon is on one of the tables, too breathless to stay afloat, and even Albedo is almost doubled over in laughter.
“Si no estás conmigo se me escapa el aire, corazón vacío~”
Diluc has to resist the urge to crumple the list in his hand. “I can’t focus,” he grumbles, trying his level best to maintain a semblance of a straight face and failing miserably. “Also, there’s nothing blue and grey in here.”
“Estando en tus brazos sólo a tu lado siento que respiro…”
Lumine is wiping desperately at her eyes. “I don’t even know what he’s saying and I’m still losing my mind,” she gasps, slightly hoarse from the laughing fit that possessed her.
“Captain Kaeya actually has a really nice voice!” Barbara manages to offer through peals of giggles.
“Kaeya, please stop,” Diluc begs, even as he rifles through the bookshelves desperately. Fortune decides to (partially) smile on him as his gaze lands on an ocean-blue cover peppered with grey clouds. “Here!”
“He’s so dramatic,” Lisa gasps, taking the book from Diluc and inspecting it. “Alright, this passes.”
“The next item… half of a sunsettia? Why is this so specific?”
“Eres lo que yo más quiero, lo que yo he soñado amar…”
“Time’s ticking, Master Diluc.”
He throws his hands up in frustration and stalks towards one of towering, open windows. Before anyone can stop him, Diluc jumps out of the window from the second floor.
“Diluc?!” Lumine screeches.
“Oh, don’t worry about him,” Kaeya pauses in his condensed-syrup-sappy rendition of the foreign love song, idly picking at the guitar strings. “He’s dramatic like that.”
“Are you hearing yourself?” Paimon guffaws, turning and almost toppling off the table.
“Seriously, you stop the moment I’m gone?” Diluc huffs as he reappears, hopping back over the window ledge, looking completely unruffled despite the gleaming claymore floating behind him (and the whole climbing up two stories thing). Barbara and Lumine stare at him, but Lisa seems completely unbothered as she smiles and holds out a hand, and Diluc drops half of a perfectly sliced sunsettia into her palm.
“Eres mi rayo de luz a cada mañana…”
“Gods above,” Diluc sighs, looking pained.
“Y sin pensarlo el tiempo me robó el aliento~”
“You suggested this on purpose, didn’t you?” Jean whispers.
Adelinde smiles mysteriously.
“‘Something new’? Does Kaeya having a sense of shame qualify?”
“Sunshine!” Kaeya gasps, affronted in [guitar music stops].
“It would, but it isn’t present, so.”
“Lumine?! Et tu, Brute?”
Diluc picks up a pen off one of the tables. “This is new.”
Lumine eyes it. “Prove it.”
Diluc crosses his arms. “I live here.”
They stare at each other in tense silence.
Guitar music resumes.
“Si no estás conmigo quedo entre la nada, me muero de frío.”
Lumine goes into another fit of laughter at the way Diluc shuts his eyes in sheer mortification. “You know what, fine. Have it,” she chokes out, going to sit down next to the other girls.
“¡Ay, cuanto te amo! “corazón salvaje” pierdo los sentidos…”
“I have regrets,” Diluc mutters as he checks the final item on the list. “‘A secret’? Who made this list?”
“Where’s the fun if they’re all easy?” Lisa asks.
“So it was you?”
“So what’s the secret?”
“Kaeya has the palate of a child and hates bitter things.”
“That’s not a secret.”
[Guitar music stops again.] “Hey!”
“… I don’t know how to solve a Rubik’s cube.”
“Interesting, but not exactly something I’d call a secret.”
Guitar music resumes. “Hay tanto que inventar, no hay nada que fingir…”
“Kaeya has to use silk flower oil on his hair or it turns frizzy.”
Lisa makes a noise of surprise. “Oh, so that’s—”
“Doesn’t count, I know that,” Jean shrugs. Diluc gives her the biggest look of betrayal.
“Si no estás conmigo… Luc, the song’s almost done, I suggest you start thinking~”
“I—” Diluc puts his face in his hands for a moment, shoulders trembling, and he surprises everyone when he suddenly yells. “Kaeya Alberich, for the love of the gods, please be quiet!”
“Your singing is annoyingly romantic, and I might actually find it sweet if we weren’t in front of half of the Ordo’s officers!”
“Wait, am I getting told off or not—”
“I’ve been in love with you since the day we met, so hurry up and lose so that I can marry you!”
Kaeya’s stunned into silence for a moment, then he drops the guitar and rips the curtain open. “What?”
Diluc is looking at the ground, face crimson, and his arms are wrapped protectively around his own waist. The petulant sulk on his face brings to Kaeya memories of their little childhood spats; the way they would make fun of one another until a nerve was struck, and Diluc would storm off, only to come back to Kaeya in tears, to be fussed over and doted on for the rest of the day.
Dummy Kaeya! I ’m not scared of the dark!
Oh yeah? Prove it!
Diluc is a scaredy cat!
I' m not!
Yes, you are!
Huh? Wait, are you cr—
I hate you, Kaeya!
Wait wait wait no, I was joking! Luc, come here.
I'm sorry, don’t be mad at me… Let’s go together, okay? I’ll hold your hand.
…Promise you won’t let go.
I'll never let go. I promise.
“Does that count as enough of a secret?” Diluc mutters.
Adelinde glances between the two of them, amused. “Well, if even Master Kaeya didn’t know…”
Jean is hiding behind Lisa, her maiden heart blushing furiously. “Oh, my.”
“I think this means that Diluc wins,” Lisa announces, winking at Kaeya. “Though maybe Kaeya is the real winner here.”
“Since that’s settled,” Kaeya says perhaps a touch too loudly, “why don’t you all go to the carriages? We should head for the cathedral if we want to make it on time.”
“There’s still half an hou—mmph!” Paimon is interrupted by Lumine slapping a hand over her mouth and dragging her away. The rest of the party trail after them, until only Diluc and Kaeya are left in the library.
“Hey,” Kaeya says softly, brushing his fingers across Diluc’s cheek. “You okay there?”
“Fine,” Diluc answers, and even though he averts his gaze there’s no anger or heat to it. “Just… embarrassed.”
Kaeya pulls Diluc’s arms off himself and puts them around his waist instead, before pulling him in for a hug. His pulse is racing. “I’m not going to lie, you surprised me there.”
Diluc hums, relaxing slowly, and his fingers trace across Kaeya’s back. “I just… Adelinde’s task made me think about the past."
“Adelinde? What did she set you?”
After the chess match, before the library …
As promised, Adelinde returns, a nondescript wooden case in tow. Diluc eyes it with some degree of suspicion—he’s always trusted her because of her intelligence and wit, but those qualities were currently turned against him and he wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. “Is that the next task?"
She nods, setting it down on the table in front of him. “It’s very simple, don’t worry,” she says, and she lifts the lid to reveal six navy-blue ribbons of the same shade and design. They’re plain and thin, the kind worn by young boys, and a wave of nostalgia crashes into Diluc at the sight. “I’d like you to tell me which of these used to belong to Kaeya,” Adelinde finishes.
“You kept it?”
She nods. “I did.”
Strangely, despite conquering a battle of wits against a graduate of Sumeru, facing off with the gliding champion of Mondstadt, and somehow getting the most incorrigible flirt of Mondstadt to fall in love with him, this is where Diluc draws the line. “This is an impossible task,” he deflects, crossing his arms.
“Is it? You can’t pick out something belonging to your fiancé?”
“They all look very similar.”
“Similar is not the same.”
“And if I choose wrong?”
“Then you don’t get the key to the library.”
The air in the corridor turns heavy. Diluc’s gaze doesn’t move, and for a moment Lisa thinks that she sees a flash of dull anger in his garnet eyes, but it’s smoothed over in the next second as he gives his answer.
“The top left one.”
Judging by the way her eyes widen, even Adelinde is surprised. She looks down at the case, as if trying to confirm his choice. “How did you know?”
Diluc snorts. “If you already thought I was going to get it wrong, were you going to make me call off the wedding?”
“…To be honest, I would have simply let you through no matter which one you picked,” she admits. “How did you know?”
“You know how I know.”
“With all due respect, Master, I really don’t.”
“…I used to tie it for him,” he says quietly. “And I was bad at it, so it was always a little lopsided. That one’s the only one that’s worn out off-centre.”
“You remember?” Adelinde asks in disbelief.
Diluc thinks about these things, late in the night when he can’t sleep, and he thinks about them now. It’s the cascade of memories, crashing against the present. Long-gone days, bathed in light, tainted by the untimeliest betrayal. The hurts and aches and distance accumulated over the years, the lingering shadow of that fateful night, the small tensions that still plague them to this day—but they are washed away by vignettes of scattered sunlight, small, steady hands, eyes like stars, laughter too beautiful for words, and a love that he’s carried for as long as he can remember.
“Of course I do.”
They head for the cathedral separately; Kaeya insists on Diluc going ahead, internally sweating about the complete mess in the drawing room, and Diluc goes with surprisingly little resistance. After giving very specific instructions to the maids on how to clean up, Barbara starts leading the party out to where the carriages are waiting. However, at the door, Jean stops Kaeya.
“Kaeya, can I talk to you for a moment?”
He quirks a brow and waves off the others. When they’re out of the door, he turns and faces Jean fully. “Is this about the whole securities measures thing again? Jean, you know that Diluc is more than capable—”
“No, no,” she says cutting him off before smiling. “I just wanted to congratulate you. As a friend.”
Kaeya blinks. “Oh.”
“I’m very happy for you, Kaeya. You deserve to be happy,” she says softly, and Kaeya suddenly has to resist the urge to cry.
When Diluc vanished all those years ago, Jean was the one who’d looked out for Kaeya, held him as he cried, and listened to him as he poured his heart out. It was part of the reason she trusted him so much—besides Diluc, and possibly still in some ways, Jean knew Kaeya better than anyone else did. She had seen him at his absolute worst, missing the other half of his soul with no end in sight, and stuck with him as his closest friend and confidante anyway.
Kaeya reaches out and hugs her. Back then, when they were both teenagers, they were almost the same height; now, Kaeya stands head and shoulders above her, yet he still feels small and safe in her arms, her strength and the way she is reliable in everything.
“Thank you, Jean,” he says, smiling through damp eyes. “I’m very glad that I met you.”
She looks at him fondly, the way a mother might look at their child at the change of the years, happiness mixed with loneliness. “I’m very glad that I met you too, Kaeya.”
The journey to the cathedral is uneventful, if streets lined with cheering and waving citizens can be considered uneventful. With his boots-on-the-ground, hands-on approach to Captaincy, as well as the way he’s used to seeing Diluc as more of a grouchy kitten than a noble heir, Kaeya sometimes forgets that their union is as close to a royal wedding as their nation can get.
“What a fuss,” he remarks, and he can feel Lumine rolling her eyes next to him.
“Don’t act like you aren’t enjoying it.”
“Oh, believe me, I’m absolutely living right now,” Kaeya snickers. “Diluc must have been so tired.”
“…” Lumine hesitates, before she speaks. “How did you know?”
“That…” she toes at the floor. “That you loved him?”
Kaeya raises an eyebrow as a smirk pulls at his lips. “Oh, is there any particular reason you’d like to know?”
“No!” Lumine insists furiously, hands planted on her hips. “I’m just—I’m just making conversation.”
Sure you are, Kaeya mutters in his head as he thinks about all the pining looks that she was casting across the room the entire morning at an oblivious figure. “Is this about Albedo?”
The tell-tale shimmering of a blade appears. “Not. A. Word,” she hisses.
“You’re lucky that your floating companion isn’t here. That one can’t keep a secret for even half a second,” Kaeya laughs, and Lumine buries her head in her hands, muttering curses. “You could do worse. He’s…” Kaeya has a minor flashback to all the bombs, but decides to be gracious on account of it being his wedding day. “He’s eccentric, but he’s ultimately very kind and thoughtful… when he cares.”
“I just—” Lumine sighs. “I’ve seen a lot of things, travelled a lot. And I’ve never really wanted to linger anywhere, but…”
“…but he makes you feel like you’re home?”
“…” They exchange looks. “I’m in trouble, aren’t I?” Lumine mutters.
Kaeya laughs, and the sound is bright and clear. “I’ll make sure to aim the bouquet at you, little Knight.”
As she is wont to do, Klee flings herself at Kaeya the moment he alights from the carriage at the bottom of the cathedral stairs.
“Gēge!” she yells, and Kaeya winces as he gently pries her grip off his cravat. Gods, it was actually quite difficult to move properly in the full uniform. He gives Albedo a short nod, of the “one person has to be keeping an eye on Klee at all times” committee, before turning his attention back to the little pyromaniac in question.
“Hey there, Spark,” he says, shifting to better balance her in his arms. “How’s everything going? Is it time for us to make our grand entrance?”
“Yeah! It’s time!” she says, before turning serious. “Red-gēge looks super nice!”
Why is she bringing that up? “Yeah, he does,” Kaeya nods, watching out of the corner of his eye as Lumine gets out of the carriage behind him. Unfortunately, the heel of her shoe catches and she stumbles, but fortunately, a certain Prince is there to catch her in time and Kaeya hides a chuckle as he makes for the cathedral doors with Klee.
“Oh, you’re here!” Noelle calls, waving to them. “Please wait for ten or fifteen minutes, while everyone else gets in place.”
“Alright,” Kaeya says, even as his heart starts pounding in his chest. He’s nervous; of course he’s nervous. Even though it’s ridiculous, and he just saw Diluc less than half an hour ago…
“Gēge, look!” Klee babbles, holding up his bouquet. When did she get that? “Pretty!”
It’s a welcome distraction, and Kaeya smiles down at her. “It is, isn’t it? That’s why you have to be careful with it, okay? Remember what you promised?”
She nods furiously. “Yes! I get to hold the flowers if I don’t damage them!”
“Atta girl, Klee,” he says fondly. “Hey, you want to tell me a story? One of your adventures?”
The next ten minutes both fly and crawl by. It feels like forever, yet Kaeya swears that Klee’s only just started her stories when Noelle taps him on the shoulder.
“It’s time, Sir Kaeya,” she says. Blinking, he nods and puts Klee back down on the ground, though her hand remains in his, and she squeezes his fingers with a giggle.
Kaeya smiles. “Ready.”
The cathedral doors open to music, and Kaeya blinks to adjust his eyes to the bright lights. He casts his gaze up the long pathway, decorated with burst after burst of stunning flowers, gold and silver ornaments glimmering like stars high above them; he follows the sight lines down to the altar, where red meets blue, where Diluc is waiting, and Diluc—
Diluc isn’t wearing a suit.
Kaeya stops dead in his tracks.
Diluc’s hair has been let down, the wild curls cascading past bare shoulders in a waterfall of flames, a small arrangement of white wildflowers pinned across the back of his head. Kaeya recognizes the dress as a Ragnvindr family heirloom, the style a little dated, but Diluc is so unfairly beautiful that it hardly matters. The draping sleeves and train only serve to emphasize the elegant curves of his neck and waist, the marble-like paleness of his skin, and the peaks of his shoulders stained pink by the cool air. It takes a few moments, but faint memory in his head is jogged by the sight:
I'd love to see you in a white dress.
“Come on! Red-gēge is waiting!” Klee urges him, pulling on his coat, snapping Kaeya out of his daze.
“Sure,” he says, still not entirely sure that he isn’t dreaming.
Kaeya barely remembers the walk down the aisle. Klee’s tiny hand in his is the only thing he’ll remember of it when he looks back on this moment years later, because he spends the entire journey with his eyes glued to Diluc, who glances away with a stern expression and red-tinted ears. He has the sense left to give Klee a pat on the head when they reach the altar, and then he’s turning to face his fiancé again.
“Please stop staring,” Diluc mutters, only loud enough for the both of them (and presumably Paimon, hovering next to them) to hear. He’s even lovelier up close, every delicate detail rendered to perfection, and if someone had told ten-year-old Kaeya (heck, even Kaeya-from-last-week) that one day, he’d be getting married to Diluc, and that Diluc would be wearing a dress, he would have laughed and asked them to tell a different joke.
Archons, he’s going to go insane. “Sorry, but I can't.”
Paimon clears her throat then, and they both glance over. “Dearly beloved,” Paimon begins, “we are gathered here today to join two individuals in holy matrimony.” She sneaks a peek at her hands, and Kaeya has to stifle a snort of laughter when he realizes that she’s reading off a slip of paper. “Master Diluc, your vows, please.”
Diluc take a deep breath. “Kaeya,” he begins bluntly. “Everything I love can be summarized in two words: the moon, and the stars. That is: Mondstadt, and you.”
Oh, that is a strong start, Kaeya thinks, a little taken aback. Diluc continues though, seemingly oblivious:
“Long ago, I made a vow to protect this city, and you were next to me at the time. But you didn’t know that I made another vow that day; to cherish and protect you for the rest of my life.” Here, his voice wavers, and Diluc’s gaze falls a little to the side. “I failed to keep that promise.”
Diluc shakes his head. “I will not fail again.”
Stunned, Kaeya can only listen as Diluc continues: "I will not vow in sickness and in health, or for better or worse, because days with you cannot be reduced to mere words. There is no holy ordinance that I make these vows in accordance with, for I have no gods before you. I will cherish you to the last of my days and then beyond, until the last stars burn out, and until our constellations form once more; then, in that next life, I can only pray that I might have the fortune to meet you again." Diluc flushes beautifully then as he frowns, light freckles stained pink, and his next words are quiet, so quiet that only Kaeya could possibly hear them.
“You are the best thing that’s ever happened to me. The brightest star in the sky, the way back home, the last reason at the end of my wandering. You reminded me of what it’s like to have faith, to believe, and… I hope I can be even a little of the same for you. I love you, Kai.”
Kaeya stares at Diluc for a long moment, speechless—because Archons above, how do you follow up on that? Diluc looks so small and uncertain before him, heart out in the open for the slaughter, and Kaeya wants nothing more than to gather him into his arms and kiss him until all the fractured pieces of him turn whole again.
So he does.
Whistles and gasps and cheers fill the cathedral all the way up to its high ceilings, and Kaeya faintly registers Paimon’s bubbling laughter nearby. The silk of the dress is soft beneath his hands; Diluc’s face is burning the same shade as his hair when they part, and his decades of upbringing as a refined young gentleman is probably the only thing stopping him from smacking Kaeya right there and then.
“Shameless!” Diluc splutters, mortified. Kaeya laughs as he intertwines their fingers again, running a soothing thumb over the back of Diluc’s hand even as he continues to tease him
“Master Diluc, you’re calling me shameless after saying something like that in front of everyone?”
Diluc clicks his tongue, frowning up at Kaeya as he tries to change the topic. “And what of your vows?”
“How am I supposed to beat what you just said?”
It’s a little too cute how quickly Diluc’s expression turns smug at the indirect praise. “Try.”
“Well—I like you, I love you, I fancy you, I whatever you,” Kaeya lists off, laughing, and his hand comes up to sweep the fluffy red bangs out of Diluc’s face, revealing those glimmering eyes like quartz. “It doesn’t matter what you are or aren’t, all that matters is that it’s you. For the rest of my life, or yours, or whatever you want. I’ll stay with you forever, and follow you through to the ends of the earth. If you would have me, that’s all that I want.”
Diluc blinks; he’s misty-eyed, and Kaeya rushes to cradle his cheek. “Hey, sunshine,” he murmurs, voice soft, “If you start, I’m going to start too,” he threatens jokingly, though he can feel the tell-tale burn in the back of his throat too.
He loves this man so much that it’s almost ridiculous.
Jean steps out from the sidelines then, holding out a metal case. A pair of matching silver rings rest on top of a pillow of silk and velvet, sparkling in the light. With a tearful smile, she hands one to each of them. “Congratulations, you two,” she whispers, before returning to her previous spot.
“Do you,” Paimon says, “take Kaeya Alberich, as your lawfully wedded husband?”
“I do,” Diluc says, lifting Kaeya’s left hand in his and pulling off the glove. Strangely, Kaeya finds that the ring is a little hot; it occurs to him that Diluc must have used a small burst of Pyro to make sure that it wasn’t cold, and the sheer thought of it warms him to the core.
“And do you take Diluc Ragnvindr as your lawfully wedded wife?”
Kaeya’s extremely impressed that he’s able to resist laughing as Diluc shoots a glare at Paimon. “I do,” he answers, tugging at Diluc’s hand to pull his attention back to him as he slides the matching ring onto his hand.
“May your love be eternal and undying, and may joy be with you from this day forward,” Paimon announces, waving her hands excitedly. “By the power vested in me, I pronounce you partners in marriage; you may now kiss the bride!”
Kaeya’s all too happy to follow up on that, and the cathedral surges with applause and cheers once again. He revels in the way Diluc melts into him, the sweetness of his mouth, the shiver that thrums through his skin when Kaeya brushes a gloved hand against his bare collarbones.
“I love you, Diluc,” he whispers, and Diluc ducks his head, blushing. Kaeya laughs, sliding his fingers into the spaces between Diluc’s and they start their way back down the aisle amidst overflowing well-wishes and bursts of streamers. Kaeya has his eyes on his newly wedded husband, so he sees the moment something catches Diluc’s attention and amber eyes widen in shock.
Diluc yanks Kaeya in by the waist and spins them around, switching their places, and he almost dislodges Kaeya’s eyepatch as he covers his head protectively. Kaeya doesn’t struggle despite his confusion, the press of their bodies familiar and easy to fall into, and he only leans back a little to try to look at Diluc’s face. “What’s wrong?”
“You promised that Klee would be under control,” Diluc hisses, and Kaeya pulse stops for a terrifying moment when he realizes that behind Diluc, hanging right above the entryway, is most definitely a fizzing, sizzling Jumpy Dumpty.
“Jean!” Kaeya yells, but there’s too much noise for his voice to carry, and desperately he reaches for the Cryo Vision hanging by his hip as he tries to push past Diluc; an ice shield is far from ideal, and where they’re standing, the worst of the blast fragments would hit him. But if he sublimates the ice in time…
“Kai, no!” Diluc jerks him back into the safety of his arms and Kaeya momentarily curses how well Diluc knows him, but he tries to reach out anyway, frost gathering at his fingertips—
A firecracker bang! goes off, and the cathedral is showered in flowers
“…?” Diluc and Kaeya look up in a mixture of confusion and awe, then relief as they both register what just happened. Calla lilies and lamp grasses rain down on them alongside sparkling confetti, and the cheers and laughter double in volume.
“May you have a blessed life together!”
Diluc presses a hand to his face, loosening his tight grip on Kaeya. “I’m going to murder every single one of you Knights,” he mutters under his breath, and Kaeya sneaks a glance to where he last remembered Klee standing; sure enough, Klee is practically bursting with delight, Lisa is trying (and failing) to hide her laughter behind her hands, and Albedo has a smug smirk on his face. Kaeya has no idea if he wants to buy them a drink for a prank well-played, or take revenge. Maybe both.
But that’s for future Kaeya to think about. Right now, he has bigger priorities. Kaeya takes Diluc by the hand, pulling him along out of the cathedral and on towards their carriage home.
“So protective, Luc!” Kaeya teases, “I didn’t know you cared so much.”
“Of course I do,” Diluc murmurs, no trace of shame or embarrassment on his face. The sun hits his face and his freckles glow under the light, and the sight coupled with the honest words throw Kaeya off; belatedly, he realizes that he’s the one blushing all of the sudden. Diluc tilts his head, red curls brushing across his shoulders, and the look in his eyes is unbearably fond as he reaches out.
“Kaeya,” Diluc calls, and Kaeya’s pulled forwards into his lover’s arms by a force greater than himself.
And in a shower of calla lilies and lamp grasses, Diluc and Kaeya find one another again, red and blue intertwining together; they turn from the whispers in the depths of their minds saying that the other will be their downfall, that their souls were long damned by a windless land, that the distance between them is of heaven and earth, that when Celestia comes, this love is the thing that will ruin them both—
—and they say, clinging to one another, alight and rich with joy and celebration and adoration and love: then let us rewrite the stars.
Why are there door games for a Mondstadt wedding when that region is based off Germany? Because they're hilarious and I want to write them, next: ideas crowdsourced from here on my twt!
This one goes out to @hearthofsin on Twitter for their "imagine if Diluc said that everything he loves are the moon and stars (aka "Moon City" Monstadt and Kaeya)" idea that started my train of thought for Diluc's absolutely killer wedding vows!! I joked on Twitter @xtxiao_ that I have no idea what I'm going to say at my own wedding because I've written so many vows, and I think this one might be the best hahaha! Also, the idea of Paimon fighting Barbara to officiate the wedding was all @yugen_yume's and I honestly can't believe I wrote it in but here we are ig.
I was also going to post a different knifey fic first, but about a week ago I heard it was @MGPH__'s birthday and in thanks for all their beautiful art, decided to finish this first :)
Chapter 2: Author Ramblings
not much to say this time tbh, similar to the prequel
This was a trip to write... I tend to post shorter works (<5k) and I was really expecting to only write the wedding ceremony for around 2-3k... but I got so much brainrot and ideas from Kaeluc Twitter that... it somehow got another 10k words added on LOL and if I had the energy to expand it to exactly what I originally wanted it to be after the shift, it would have been more like 15k in the end..?
In terms of details there are my usual references and callbacks, and I also linked some of the inspirations in the fic/notes (I didn't tag in Hal's Ad Infinitum reference in the body text because I think we all Know The Agony at this point and I also didn't want to drag all of you suddenly into a Pain in the middle of a fluff fic jfksdjflsdjfj)
There's not much to say... I haven't had a wedding before so it was limiting to what I could include or build the "feeling" of attending your own wedding around, so I chose to focus more on Kaeluc's relationship to each other as well as some hints of their friendships/the world that continues moving around them. I think that's a more realistic way of seeing things, and I wanted to give the feeling that Kaeya and Diluc really did have a home and friends and loved ones in Mondstadt, so I hope I achieved that goal.
Also adding that I'm so glad so many of you caught the MDZS/TGCF references!!!! I left it out of the notes at first to check out how much the MXTX/Kaeluc fandoms intersect AND THERE'S A LOT OF YOU WWWWWW CONGRATULATIONS ON HAVING IMPECCABLE TASTE! I adore you all (it's the "I like you, I love you, I fancy you, I whatever you" and "All that matters is you are you" because I can't stop thinking about !HCKaeya hhhh)
I think I've never written crack before (I take myself too seriously LOL) so I might have taken this too seriously... I don't think I'll do it again for a while (unless I get brainrot again??), but I'm not opposed to trying it again if this was a good read for all of you. Let me know! And congratulations once again to Mr and Mrs Ragnvindr <3