The Mid-Autumn Festival was really one of the only times Wei Wuxian ever saw the Cloud Recesses sporting a colour that wasn’t white or blue. It is also one of the few times a year when the juniors are given a break from their studies, which leads to what Wei Wuxian himself is doing right now.
Seated in the middle of Lan Wangji’s rabbits, Wei Wuxian is surrounded by curious juniors, rice paper and thin bamboo spread out in front of them.
“Senior Wei,” Sizhui starts, his obedient little son. “What exactly are we doing?”
Wei Wuxian grins wide, and holds up a sheet of paper in one hand and the bamboo in another. “Ah, Sizhui-er, we’re making lanterns, of course! It’s Mid-Autumn already, don’t you want to have your own lantern to carry around tonight when we say prayers and eat mooncakes?”
At his words, the juniors immediately perk up. He knows they hardly do anything with their hands other than training with their swords and writing essays, so this will at least be a little bit of fun for them. And the best part was that he wasn’t even breaking any rules by doing this, so Old Man Qiren couldn’t punish him or the juniors.
The paper in his hands is a familiar weight, and Wei Wuxian cannot help but think back to the days in Yunmeng, at Lotus Pier, when he’d used to do this with Shijie and Jiang Cheng. The give of the bamboo as he bends it lightly to fix the ends together is familiar, and the coarseness of twine against his fingertips is even more so.
He remembers when Shijie had first taught him how to make one of these. His child-sized hands had been too small to truly bend the bamboo properly and hold it in place long enough to secure it with twine, but Shijie had just smiled and held it for him, guided him gently in how to tie the most secure knots, how to make sure that the bamboo would stay in place and that the rice paper would lay flat on its bamboo frame.
He remembers Jiang Cheng scowling, trying to pretend that he wasn’t interested in such an inane activity, but requiring only the slightest coercion from Shijie to pick up bamboo sticks and rice paper of his own.
Still, those days were long past, and no matter that they are some of his best memories, the odds of Jiang Cheng ever forgiving him well enough to let them be reenacted were slim to none.
His shidi is trying his best to forgive, Wei Wuxian knows. He sees it in the way that Jiang Cheng tries to hold civil conversations with him, the way that invitations to Lotus Pier were sent to Gusu whenever there was an event held by YunmengJiang. He sees it in the way Jiang Cheng tries not to glare at Wen Ning quite so viciously any longer.
Still, it will be a long time coming before they regain even a fraction of the closeness they’d once had, and no matter that Mid-Autumn was a time for reunions and family- Wei Wuxian will not force himself on someone who was already trying their very best to accept him.
He would let Jiang Cheng have his Mid-Autumn celebrations with Jin Ling, with the rest of the YunmengJiang disciples.
...And maybe next year, there will be a place for him as well.
Besides, this year Wei Wuxian has his other family, his husband and his son and all of the adorable little juniors who still haven’t been traumatised enough by him to scatter at his face yet.
This will be a good Mid-Autumn too.
Beside him, Sizhui smiles, and reaches for his own rice paper and bamboo. “I will be glad to have Senior’s instruction.”
Wei Wuxian grins, and ruffles Sizhui’s fringe. “Such a good son.”
Sizhui flushes, but smiles nonetheless.
Lan Wangji comes by halfway through the lesson, and it really only takes a moment of pouting and pleading for Wei Wuxian to convince him to join them.
The juniors are surprisingly adept at lantern making, no matter that they have never done it before. The lanterns are of varying states of presentability, but they are all functional, which is already an accomplishment in and of itself.
Sizhui's lantern is more than passable, as expected of the junior who was raised by Han Guang-Jun. Wei Wuxian wonders vaguely if Sizhui will turn out just like Lan Zhan- perfect at anything he puts his mind to.
But while Sizhui's lantern is well-made, twine tied securely and rice paper laid on smooth and flat, his lantern is not the best out of the ones made by the juniors.
No, that honour went, surprisingly, to Lan Jingyi.
His lantern is, well, flawless. It is neat and symmetrical, the bamboo frame smooth and the rice paper perfect. Even the painting that illustrates the lantern is done near perfectly, although what it illustrates would have gotten Jingyi and probably the entire GusuLan sect razed to the ground just two decades ago.
It is a simple scene, Hou Yi shooting down nine of the ten suns that scorched the land. It is even in line with the current season.
But just two decades ago, that illustration would have brought QishanWen's judgement down on all their heads.
Still, Jingyi's generation would never have to worry about that persecution, at least. It was one good thing that all the pain had wrought.
Still, it is not really the scene from the story of Hou Yi and Chang'e that Wei Wuxian had thought he'd see this close to Mid-Autumn, but as he looks among the disciple's lanterns, he doesn't really see the scene at all.
Huh. Perhaps it was too romantic a tale for them. They were a little young, Wei Wuxian supposes.
Still, Wei Wuxian is a little disgruntled that he’s the only one who has actually painted any kind of scene that includes the moon goddess Chang’e, even though she is the immortal who is most closely related to the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Still, his painting isn’t exactly representative of the festival itself, since it is not a scene from any legend or tale. Instead, his painting is just an imaginary scene of Chang’e on the moon, surrounded by hordes of rabbits instead of the singular Jade Rabbit that is said to accompany Chang’e.
Sizhui’s lantern just has three rabbits on it, one black and one white, with a smaller baby between the two. But no matter how adorable Wei Wuxian finds it, it is still not Chang’e, and Wei Wuxian is inexplicably huffy about it.
Then, out of the corner of his eye, he catches sight of a lantern, as perfectly made as Jingyi’s, if not more, and painted on its sides are the penultimate scenes of the legend of Hou Yi and Chang’e. The lantern has been split into three panels, one showing the scene where Chang’e swallows the elixir of immortality to prevent her husband’s power-hungry apprentice from obtaining it, while another shows the next part of the tale, where Hou Yi reaches home just in time to see his wife fly to the moon as she ascends to immortality. The last panel shows the beginnings of the traditions of the Mid-Autumn Festival, where Hou Yi mourns the loss of his wife by laying out her favourite cakes and fruits.
It is a beautiful painting, and Wei Wuxian finds himself stunned. How has he never seen artwork of such quality before? It had to be painted by a Lan disciple, there was no one else here, but-
"Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan, this art is so good, your art is so good, why don't you ever paint more! You should paint more-" Wei Wuxian breaks off, grinning brightly at his husband as Lan Wangji's ears pinken. "Oh! I know, Lan Zhan, you remember that old portrait I did of you when we were studying here? You should do one of me too!"
Lan Wangji's ears flush ever redder, but then it is Wei Wuxian's turn to blush as Lan Wangji offers him the smallest smile and the slightest nod of his head. "En. Tonight."
Wei Wuxian flings himself at his husband, burying his face in Lan Wangji's shoulder and heedless of the way the juniors grab their lanterns and scatter.
"Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan, you're so good, what did I ever do to deserve you-"
"Being Wei Ying is enough."
Wei Wuxian squeaks, and buries his face further into his husband's neck.
By the time dinner ends, it is already dark, but still a few hours to curfew. The moon is high in the sky, round and bright as it always is on the fifteenth of every month.
It is a sight indeed, and Wei Wuxian doesn't hesitate to grab both Lan Wangji and Sizhui and drag them to the rabbit field.
"The moon is so bright, Lan Zhan, we should go lie down in the field and admire it! A-Yuan, come on, we should definitely-"
"Mn," Lan Wangji hums, and then he is seating himself in the grass, and Wei Wuxian watches as, one by one, the rabbits begin to crowd his husband. A few nuzzle close to his Sizhui, who pats them with a soft smile.
As usual, the rabbits do not like Wei Wuxian, but he is hardly in the mood to whine about it as he might have done on any other day.
(It is probably because he keeps threatening to eat them, but Wei Wuxian cannot bring himself to care all that much. He would never actually harm his Lan Zhan’s beloved rabbits.)
Still, he has spent too much effort dragging his little family here to waste time complaining. “Isn’t it pretty, Lan Zhan, A-Yuan? But Lan Zhan is prettier~”
“Senior Wei-!!” Sizhui exclaims, hiding his face in his hands, and Wei Wuxian just laughs. “Am I wrong?”
There is no reply, but Wei Wuxian sees the way his husband’s ears turn red, and it is adorable. The demonic cultivator coos, tugging his husband over for cuddles, and thankfully- has the presence of mind to pull his son into the hug as well.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is a time for family, after all, and Wei Wuxian would not trade his little family for anything in the world.
“Thank you,” he murmurs quietly; Sizhui curls in close, and then a kiss is pressed to his forehead. Lan Zhan is a romantic, and Wei Wuxian cannot help but tilt his head up for another quick kiss, briefly pressing his lips against his husband’s.
He is loved, Wei Wuxian knows, the bubble of affection in his chest swelling, and he wants to share it with both of them.
(Perhaps next year, he will be able to celebrate in Lotus Pier.)
It is when they are back in the Jingshi that Wei Wuxian allows himself to speak, all the words that he has kept stifled in his heart for the day spilling out.
"Ahh, Lan Zhan, don't you think you were really like Hou Yi, waiting faithfully for his wife even though he knew that she would be forever out of his reach?"
Lan Wangji ducks his head into the crook of Wei Wuxian's neck, and pulls him closer.
He is shaking, just a little, and Wei Wuxian already regrets raising the topic. He opens his mouth, ready to take back his words and try to regain some of the softness that had surrounded them before, but Lan Wangji's voice, almost inaudible, muffled by the skin of Wei Wuxian's neck, reaches his ears first.
"...Then I am simply lucky that my Chang'e came back to me."
Wei Wuxian can feel himself tearing up, and he blinks- once, twice, three times to get rid of them, but it does not work and he has to rub his eyes.
“I won’t ever leave you again, Lan Zhan. I promise.”