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Lotus in Bloom

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They’ve all gathered in Lotus Pier, Wei Wuxian thinks. Him, Jiang Cheng, Madam Yu, Uncle Jiang, and… the peacock, Jin Zixuan. He frowns at the god of archery, but holds his silence - Wuxian has a feeling he knows what this gathering is about. It’s been ages since they’ve last all stood in the same place, but because shijie asked, everyone has taken time out of their schedules to be here. Because really, no one can say no to his shijie.

Although she doesn’t like to use it, Jiang Yanli is one of the most terrifying immortals around, simply because of how much backing she has.

(She is the only daughter of Yu Ziyuan, goddess of storms, and sister to both War and Death. And even if Uncle Jiang has abdicated his position as god of home and hearth in favour of his beloved daughter, he still holds sway over the element of fire.)

No one in their right minds would offend her.

And unless he’s insane, Jin Zixuan had better treat her like the treasure she is.

“We’re waiting for two more guests,” his shijie states, with a dazzling smile. “I hope everyone doesn’t mind waiting just a little bit more?”

Wuxian finds himself wondering who the two guests are- Shijie's entire family and close friends are already here, and even though Shijie is undoubtedly one of the most friendly immortals out there, Wuxian doesn't think there's anyone else she's really that close to.

Meanwhile, Jiang Cheng only grunts. He is unsubtly staring at that damn god of archery (and peacocks, no matter how much said god insisted that "they're my sacred animal, not my dominion, you idiot!" because lalala he didn’t hear anything, nope, nothing at all) Jin Zixuan, as if attempting to strike him dead with the force of a glare alone. Jiang Cheng's bad temper is only rivalled by his mastery of Zidian, and the way he's pointedly stroking the ring is… unsettling, at the very least. Said god of archery is doing quite well in keeping his cool facade, but the stiffening of his posture does not go unnoticed by any of the others in the room.

(As if he could hide anything from any one of them. Death saw all, knew all, and War was wrath and rage and travelled anywhere that mortals existed. Besides, even if Wuxian himself weren’t here, Jin Zixuan was aeons too young to be hiding anything from Madam Yu or Uncle Jiang.)

“A-Cheng!” is the admonishment that marks the start of Wei Wuxian tuning out the conversation, already turning to more dastardly thoughts. (It wasn’t his fault he was so easily distracted!) If Jiang Cheng did succeed in lethalising a glare, it would be an absolutely terrifying weapon to carry into battle. The number of dead who could be felled by a single angry person would shoot up exponentially, and- and--

He would have to collect even more souls.

“No, you can’t!” Wei Wuxian screeches, slamming both hands on the table. “I forbid it!” He already had a lot of work, thank you very much, and he most definitely did not need any more. What if the underworld was flooded with too many souls and it exploded? Jiang Cheng was a terrible, terrible brother!

“Can’t what, Young Master Wei?” Lan Xichen asks, a bemused expression on his face, and Wuxian chokes.

What was Lan Xichen, Zewu-Jun, most respected god in the universe, doing here?

Wuxian tamps down the way he almost startles at the unexpected sight, and plasters a smile onto his lips. "Ah, Zewu-Jun! I didn't expect you here, although I do suppose Shijie has been telling me about your recent meetings over tea!"

Conveniently, Wuxian avoids the question and lets customary courtesy act as his shield.

Zewu-Jun smiles one of those mellow, sincere smiles that he is so famous for, and says, "Lady Jiang saw fit to invite both myself and Wangji to this gathering, in her family's home. It truly is a beautiful home, Lady Jiang," he says then, turning to said goddess.

Shijie smiles too, a gentle uptick of her lips that has Wuxian marvelling at the similarities between her and Lan Xichen.

(Ah, how great if Shijie and Lan Xichen would be betrothed instead. The god of knowledge was, without a doubt, a far better fit for his wonderful Shijie than that golden peacock would ever be.)

Shijie inclines her head, offering Lan Xichen her thanks, and Wuxian watches as the interaction shifts into a sort of polite, yet sincere, exchange of compliments. Inwardly, he breathes a sigh of relief. He had not wanted to explain his, after some reflection, fairly absurd thoughts.

(Jiang Cheng was probably not weaponising glares… was he?)

Then there’s a shuffling noise, and a rabbit hops toward him. Wuxian scrambles to pick it up, immediately smoothing out its soft pelt and showering it in affection. The white bandages around its eyes are new, though. “Little one,” he greets excitedly, “did you bring me a letter?”

“Mn.”

What was that? The god of death blinks, lifting up the rabbit and examining it thoroughly. “Did you- hey, hey, did you just speak? I thought I heard you just say ‘mn’ the way Lan Zhan does!” There’s muted laughter from another corner of the room and he doesn’t understand, because this was a Very Serious Issue.

His precious rabbit couldn’t speak like Lan Wangji, because his poor heart wouldn’t be able to take it!

Shaking the rabbit in worry, Wuxian made several attempts to find anything - anything at all! - that would explain the sudden speech. It doesn’t seem very happy, however, choosing instead to use his head as a landing pad, bouncing away quickly. “W-Wait--”

“Wei Ying.”

Slender hands pick up the shivering furball, before Han Guang-Jun himself walks over. The rabbit seems content to stay with the god of life, however, contentedly nuzzling him. Wuxian can’t help but to find the scene oddly touching - maybe Lan Wangji really did like rabbits after all!

“Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan!” He greets excitedly. “So you did get my letter? I hope you liked it, I spent a lot of time writing it down and-” Silver eyes narrow as Wuxian pouts at Lan Wangji. “You didn’t teach my baby to speak like you, right?” It was difficult deciphering his monosyllabic speech as things were, if his rabbits all started to speak like Lan Wangji, he might actually cry!

(Well, no, he wouldn’t.)

“Did not.” Lan Wangji agrees, stroking a gentle hand down the rabbit’s head even as it begged for more pats.

It comes as a huge relief, and Wuxian offers the god of life a blinding smile in return, before-

"Wait." The god of death begins then, brow furrowing. "Then how did my rabbit say ‘mn’?"

Lan Wangji opens his mouth, probably to solve all of Wuxian's questions about life, but is summarily interrupted by Jiang Cheng, who hits Wuxian about the head and rolls his eyes.

"Are you an idiot, Wei Wuxian? Clearly Lan Wangji was the one who said that!"

Wuxian blinks, rubbing his smarting skull, and the comprehension begins to dawn. "Ohhh."

Jiang Cheng isn’t finished, however, and pokes him roughly. "And why were you even surprised to see Lan Wangji? Lan Xichen has already mentioned that both of them were here, dumbass."

What? Wait, really?

Scrunching up his nose in confusion, Wuxian thinks back to the conversation he's shared with Lan Xichen.

"...both myself and Wangji…"

Ohh. Wow, Wuxian really was dumb. Or maybe he was just deaf. It would make sense, given how many screeches he heard from the dead on a daily basis.

His brother scoffs. At least he’s stopped rubbing Zidian threateningly, though. "Figured it out, haven’t you? Are you deaf, or just stupid?"

Wuxian pouts, widening his eyes to showcase the (fake) hurt that shone in them. "Jiang Cheng, ah, Jiang Cheng! How could you say that about your own brother, this brother of yours is so hurt-"

Jiang Cheng's lips part, probably to shoot back a retort about how Wuxian wasn't his brother or something, before his mouth abruptly snaps shut again.

Huh? Wuxian had never seen Jiang Cheng interrupt himself before. Following Jiang Cheng's gaze, Wuxian sees the icy glare that Lan Wangji has aimed at the god of war.

(And, wow, forget Jiang Cheng, if anyone invented a weaponised glare, it would probably be Lan Wangji.)

"Do not speak ill of others, especially if it is untrue," Lan Wangji intones, and Wuxian watches as Jiang Cheng splutters in outrage.

Time to play the good guy, then. “Okay, okay, while I do like you both very very much, I think we’re done waiting, right, Shijie?” He sends her a pleading look, steamrolling over any possible (vehement) protests with a “We were waiting for two more earlier; Zewu-Jun and Lan Zhan make exactly two, so please, please go ahead with your announcement! We’re all dying to know what it is - or at least I am.” It’s a joke that no one else seems to catch, and Wuxian pouts.

“Really? No one got it? Death - death and dying? Hello? Where is your humour?”

His shijie laughs, thankfully, covering her mouth with her sleeve. Wuxian is so very grateful, especially since the tension between Lan Wangji and Jiang Cheng is so thick that he could basically cut it with a knife.

“Indeed, everyone is finally here,” she claps, a brilliant smile playing on her face. “Dearest family and friends - I am pleased to be able to announce to everyone today that Zixuan and I have finalised a date for our marriage,” Yanli announces, sliding her dainty hand into the god of archery’s own larger one. Cheers and clapping is audible, and even Jiang Cheng offers a tight smile at the god who is so clearly undeserving of their sister.

“Invitations will be sent out as customary,” Zixuan continues in a carefully even tone. “But I hope that everyone present will grace us with your presence for the wedding.”

"It would be an honour," Lan Xichen says, smiling.

Jiang Cheng tears his glare from Lan Wangji and nods sharply, grumbling lowly. "You better treat my sister well, you bloody peacock."

Wuxian finds himself smiling as well, even as his fingers itch to pull Chenqing from his sash. It would be wonderful to show this god just who he would be crossing dared he hurt their sister. He meets Jin Zixuan's gaze and lets his smile widen, lets his aura pull the shadows closer.

His smile goes dark, and he relishes in the way Jin Zixuan physically restrains himself from flinching away.

"Shijie deserves so much better than you," the Yiling Patriarch says, eyes glowing red. "But she's chosen you, and I can't say anything. But hurt her, and you'll see just why people don't cross Death."

Then he grins, silver eyes bright once more, and claps his hands together. “The announcement has been made, so it’s time to scoot!” Jumping up from his seat, Wei Wuxian darts over to his counterpart. “Do you want to come along, Lan Zhan? I can show you around Lotus Pier!”

Without waiting for a reply, the god of death grabs Lan Wangji’s sleeve and tugs at it, gently but insistent enough to make the god of life follow. “There’s a lot of things to do and there are a few lakes around; it’d be interesting to see whether fish like you as much as rabbits do!”

As usual, Wangji is quiet, but he does not relinquish hold over the blindfolded rabbit. “Mn.”

“Yes!! And now that you’re here, we have to test the aura thing again, okay? Theoretically, we should cancel each other out, but there isn’t any harm in trying! And oh, did my rabbit scare you? I’m sorry if she did, I know the undead aren’t really popular around-”

“He.”

“Eh?! Wait, what do you mean he--”

The voices died off as the two gods ventured out of the Lotus Pier.

“Ah, the joys of youth…” Xichen smiles, raising a hand to hide it with a sleeve. He does not necessarily have to do it in present company, but it is habit nonetheless. “Lady Jiang,” the god of knowledge bows, “On Wangji’s behalf, allow me to express my deepest gratitude for your efforts. You have my word that I shall do all I can to aid this endeavour.”

“Your brother makes A-Xian happy,” is the quiet reply, even as Yanli beams. “I have not seen him so lively in a long while. For that alone, I am more than happy to help.”

Jiang Cheng groans, dropping his head onto the table. “A-Jie, Zewu-Jun, why are you enabling them?!”

“But A-Cheng, don’t you want A-Xian to be happy?” Yanli asks, hiding a smile at the baffled faces of the other immortals present. Her father seems to have caught on, however - as expected of Jiang Fengmian. Matters of the home had never failed to escape him.

“Mother- Mother, please, tell A-Jie why enabling Wei Wuxian like this is a bad idea. We’re never going to hear him stop talking about Lan Wangji,” Jiang Cheng begs, and Yu Ziyuan hums in consideration.

"You don't see the brat often enough for him to really get on your nerves anyway," she says, and Jiang Cheng stares, almost betrayed.

"What do you mean, I don't see Wei Wuxian often enough? He comes running to Lotus Pier every time someone so much as looks at him weird!"

"Jiang Cheng."

Immediately, said god's mouth snaps shut. "Sorry, Mother."

Yu Ziyuan smiles then, and it's a rare enough sight that everyone in the room freezes a little. "Their friendship bodes well for our families; an alliance between life and death? Nothing but good can come from it."

"What friendship," the god of war mutters under his breath, though the words are audible to every immortal in the room all the same. “He just invited Han Guang-Jun out. To Lotus Pier. On a date. In front of all of us. And I’m not even sure he’s aware of it!”

Xichen only smiles, not even bothering to hide his joy. “I do believe I’ll wait for Wangji to return before I depart. Would that be possible?”

"You are more than welcome, Zewu-Jun. Would you like an escort around Yunmeng as well?" Jiang Fengmian says, smiling genially.

“Are you all just seriously ignoring me?” Jiang Cheng howls.

Lan Xichen nods serenely and clasps his hands together. "That would be most appreciated. Many thanks, Lord Jiang."

"No thanks are needed, Lord Knowledge." Jiang Fengmian nods as well, before turning to his daughter. "A-Li, if you would?"

"Of course, Father,” Yanli curtsies, before turning to face Xichen. "Shall we depart, then, Zewu-Jun?"

The god of knowledge bows. "By your leave, Lady Jiang."

"I still exist, you know!" Jiang Cheng yells.

Jiang Fengmian smiles once again, and turns to his wife. "Let us leave the children to be, San Niang."

Yu Ziyuan huffs softly, but takes his proffered hand nonetheless.

"Um." Jiang Cheng stares at the rapidly emptying room, blinking a few times in succession. "Are you all just- what the fuck."

“I… would agree with you there,” comes the faint voice of Jin Zixuan. “What in divinity just happened?”

Jiang Cheng blows out a breath and shakes his head. "Honestly? Fuck if I know."