The day after Jiang Cheng makes the announcement, Lan Wangji shows up at Lotus Pier.
Wei Wuxian laughs when he sees Lan Wangji, delighted to see him. “Hanguang Jun!” he calls out from across the yard, breaking into a small jog. “Lan Zhan!”
Lan Wangji nods at Wei Wuxian when he comes to a halt before him. “Wei Ying,” he greets.
“Why are you here?” Wei Wuxian asks, slinging an arm over Lan Wangji’s shoulders, leading him away from the hall and towards his room instead.
Propriety demands for Lan Wangji to greet the sect leader first, so Wei Wuxian expects Lan Wangji to insist on an audience with Jiang Cheng before he goes anywhere with Wei Wuxian, but Lan Wangji ends up following Wei Wuxian’s lead without protest.
Huh, so he’s definitely here to see Wei Wuxian.
They make the rest of the walk to Wei Wuxian’s chambers without exchanging words. Wei Wuxian figures that Lan Wangji would probably feel more comfortable speaking to him when they are in private.
“So, are you here to deliver a proposal as well?” Wei Wuxian asks, once he’s closed the door behind them. He grins at Lan Wangji. “On whose behalf?” he asks, curious, because he cannot imagine anyone having the nerve to ask Lan Wangji for such a favour.
Lan Wangji’s eyes narrow. “Have you received proposals already?”
“Of course,” Wei Wuxian says, and grins at him. “I am the fearsome Yiling Patriarch, with boundless power, about to snap at any moment, and pick off all the sects that I dislike. Tell me which sect wouldn’t want to be in my favour.”
Lan Wangji’s lips purse. “Who?”
“None that I am actually considering so far,” Wei Wuxian says, “except Nie-xiong.”
Lan Wangji stiffens. “Nie Huaisang?”
Wei Wuxian nods. “We already know each other, and at the very least, we enjoy each other’s company. An alliance with the Qinghe Nie Sect has its potential, and if I have to marry, it might as well be with someone I at least like.”
“You don’t have to marry,” Lan Wangji says.
Wei Wuxian smiles. “Are you here to talk me out of this? Ah, Lan Zhan... Shijie has tried, but it’s the best way moving forward. I know you understand that. You, of all people, would understand where my concerns lie.” He pours Lan Wangji a cup of tea, and hands it to him. “I am too dangerous. The other sects are afraid. Jiang Cheng is still too new to command enough authority. If he insists on protecting me, I’ll only get the Jiang Sect into trouble again. But if my power, if my notoriety benefits another sect… That takes pressure off Jiang Cheng.”
“What about you?” Lan Wangji asks. “How do you benefit?”
“If it helps Jiang Cheng and shijie,” Wei Wuxian says, shrugging, “and if it benefits the Jiang Sect, then there’s really no good reason for me to say no.”
“That’s not a good enough reason to say yes,” Lan Wangji says, almost harshly, and Wei Wuxian does a double take.
“Lan Zhan…” He reaches out, tugs gently at Lan Wangji’s sleeve. “What’s wrong? Why are you upset?”
Lan Wangji is silent for a long moment.
When he next speaks, his voice is low, “If you must marry-”
Wei Wuxian smiles. “And I’ve already told you that I must.”
Lan Wangji nods. “If you must,” he says again, “don’t let it be with anyone else.”
Wei Wuxian blinks at him. “Not with anyone else?” he asks.
“Not with anyone else,” Lan Wangji echoes.
“I don’t think you understand the concept of marriage, Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian says with a smile. “I don’t think I can marry myself.” He lets out a laugh at the thought, before Lan Wangji’s words click in his head. “Unless you mean…”
Lan Wangji holds his gaze.
“Jiang Cheng?” Wei Wuxian asks incredulously. “The whole idea of a marriage to secure an alliance is so that we actually secure an alliance. I can’t marry someone in my own sect! What would that even achieve?”
Lan Wangji lets out a sigh. “Wei Ying,” he says, and he sounds inexplicably pained.
“Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian says placatingly. “I didn’t mean that your idea was bad.” He makes a face at his own words. “I mean, it is, but I know you’re just trying to look out for me.”
“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji sighs. He looks...tired. Maybe Wei Wuxian should’ve offered to let him rest first; the journey from Gusu to Yunmeng is not insignificant, and must’ve taken its toll on Lan Wangji. “Not with anyone else,” Lan Wangji says again, enunciating each word perfectly. “That includes Jiang Cheng.”
Not with anyone else.
How does Lan Wangji expect him to be able to secure an alliance if he means for Wei Wuxian to be so picky about who he can or cannot marry? And more importantly, who does Lan Wangji expect him to marry if he isn’t allowed to marry “anyone else”?
“I’ve told you, Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian says with a sigh. “The Yunmeng Jiang Sect really needs to secure an alliance with-”
“The Lan Sect,” Lan Wangji interjects.
Wei Wuxian freezes. “What?”
“The Gusu Lan Sect,” Lan Wangji says. “Are we a good enough ally?”
“Is Gusu Lan a good enough-” Wei Wuxian laughs. “Lan Zhan ah, Lan Zhan,” he says fondly. “Which of the Lan Sect disciples would dare? Which of the Lan Sect disciples would want to?”
“I would dare,” Lan Wangji whispers, taking a step towards Wei Wuxian.
Wei Wuxian’s breath catches in his throat. “Lan Zhan...”
Lan Wangji reaches out to gently cup Wei Wuxian’s face in his hand, and continues, softly, “I would want.”
Wei Wuxian leans into the touch. “Lan Zhan,” he breathes out, heart rabbiting in his chest. “Lan Zhan, what are you doing?”
“Delivering my proposal,” Lan Wangji say, and then kisses Wei Wuxian.