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A Bag of Sour Plum Lollipops

Chapter Text

Binghe had not been able to sleep for the past week, his worries and fears keeping him awake. He would spend the night gazing at his lover and sighing at how beautiful he looked when asleep. 

His hands would play with his beloved Shizun’s dark locks or would caress his fair cheeks until the night melted into day. Other times he would scoot downwards so he could rest his head against his Shizun’s chest. Like that, he would listen to the steady beat of his lover’s heart, even managing to doze off for a couple of hours. 

When morning would come, Binghe would wake and make breakfast, though a part of him always wanted to remain entangled with his Shizun in the sheets. It was why Binghe always rushed making breakfast, just so he could be there when Shizun opened his eyes lazily.

So Binghe would be the first one he saw. 

But, this was not to happen for three nights and four days. It was because his Shizun was to go on a trip to settle some official matters and Binghe could not follow. It was the first time they will be separated since Binghe recovered from his child form. And Binghe was not ready for the separation to occur.

It felt too unbearable. 

So when he woke on the morning of the departure, he did not want to raise from the bed. He only wanted to stay there forever, his lover tucked safely within his arms. But Binghe knew it was not possible, nor did he want to restrain his Shizun. 

With a sigh, he left the sheets to make breakfast. 

When he returned with the tray of food in his hands, he was surprised to see his Shizun sitting in bed, a small parcel in his hands. Even more surprising was the faint blush and shy smile adorning his features.

Like that, bathed in the gentle light of dawn, he looked more enchanting than the dewy cup of a  mellow lotus floating on tranquil waters. 

Binghe sighed at the image, his deeply-affected heart quivering helplessly. 

He put the tray on a table and walked as if caught in a spell towards his Shizun. When he reached the bed, he simply threw his arms around his lover’s willowy waist and buried his head against the cushy tummy. His legs were still on the floor where he kneeled, so only his upper part of his body enjoyed the softness and warmth of his Shizun. 

With an exasperated sigh, his Shizun instructed him to come stay on the bed. Binghe, of course, complied obediently and pushed his Shizun down so he could lie on top of him. 

Another sigh later, his lover gave up and cradled Binghe’s head to his chest, playing with his fluffy curls while he talked.

‘This master will be absent for a few days. I am aware Binghe might have a difficult time, which is why I prepared a gift I hope will help you while I am away.’

Binghe raised his head and looked at his Shizun’s eyes with curiosity. The sudden attention made his lover blush again. 

He blushed even more when he gave Binghe the parcel he held earlier.  

Excited and touched, Binghe got up and carefully opened the wrapping until he could hold the gift. It was a little hand-made plushie toy. It looked exactly like his Shizun. 

Binghe could not believe it but his teeth hurt from the sweetness. His Shizun … made this for him … his Shizun … was actually this cute … his Shizun ...

His lover tried to tell him about the plushie, but he did not even get one word out as Binghe wolfed at his lips greedily. The kiss was first deep and overwhelming, but it soon took a sweet and tender note. 

The whole time the plushie was squeezed between the two of them.  

Slowly, a third heartbeat was sensed by Binghe. It was one that matched his Shizun … quick and fluttering like the wings of a butterfly drunk on nectar. Dazed, he interrupted the languid kiss to take a closer look at the plushie. Touching its soft and chubby body, Binghe felt a heart beating within. 

Shizun explained that the plushie, called A-Yuan (for which he offered no further information), had a small pebble inside that once warmed and close to one’s Golden Core, it would pick up the heartbeat its twin stone felt. The twin was hanging on a golden thread around Shizun’s neck. 

For when Binghe slept or felt uncertain, Shizun explained. 

They made a plan to both sleep at midnight. Binghe also gave his Shizun three letters he would have to read before he slept. His Shizun agreed bashfully, the blush he supported since waking only deepening.  At that, Binghe immediately hugged the plushy, the erratic rhythm he felt telling him all. 

Shizun frowned at him while he turned into a tomato. He briskly got up and left the sheets with an annoyed sweep of his sleeves.

Binghe, of course, chased after him to apologize. And to ask for some kissies. And maybe some more ...

*

The first letter was a cute memory from when Binghe was still a disciple. When Shizun read it at midnight, his heartbeat picked up just slightly, staying sweet and calm. A-Yuan spent the night glued to Binghe's chest. And the day hidden within his robes, resting right against Binghe's heart. 

The second letter was a chapter of a yet-to-be-written story called Bamboo Leaves Swaying Upon Luo River. The author was named Red Lotus. It was Binghe’s take on Resentment of Chunshan, a chapter he wrote only for his Shizun’s eyes. 

The heartbeat became erratic and quick, not settling for a while. Binghe laughed a lot that night and made sure to plant a couple of kissies onto A-Yuan. 

The third letter was an ardent love confession full of poetic adoration, one that made Shizun’s heart throb heavily for many hours after midnight. Binghe slept with A-Yuan pushed against his cheek. 

*

Binghe woke the morning of the final day to the sound of a quivering heartbeat. He opened his eyes gently to realise that he no longer was alone in the bamboo house. His lover looked at him from the side of the bed, a fond smile on his face. 

Binghe spared no time in dragging him in his arms, plushie squeezed between them. After a kiss, two, three, they finally settled to fall back asleep.

Chapter Text

Shen Yuan was hiding among the bamboo trees, watching Ning YingYing and Ming Fan rebuke one of the newest disciples, a little boy, who had a twin sister that was a disciple as well. The two buns were both extremely talented, but were spoiled and liked to often prank Ming Fan.

Thing was, every time the twins would play a prank, only one would get caught. So the other could always lessen the punishment by secretly sharing the workload or sneaking food. 

This time it was the boy.

Ming Fan was red in the face as he admonished the twin, voice so thin from anger, it was comical. Especially with Ning YingYing trying to both calm him and tell the little boy why what he did was wrong, all in her solemn but tender voice.  

Shen Yuan came from yet another meeting with the peak lords when he stumbled across the scene and could not unstick his eyes. He snickered from his hiding, the show too entertaining for him to pass. If only he had some melon seeds as well …

Even more so when a snowball suddenly came crashing right into Ming Fan’s face.

Shen Yuan bit his cheeks so he would not burst into laughter. It seemed that the twin sister had enough and came to defend her brother. 

Ming Fan immediately fell into the trap and chased the girl, failing to dodge another snowball that crushed against him. Afterward, the snowballs kept coming, Ming Fan trapped between the two trouble-makers. 

Worse, even Ning YingYing started laughing while she attempted to pacify them. Her voice was light and coaxing, so different from the whiney little girl who used to cling and get Binghe into trouble. And when a stray snowball hit her straight in the face, the difference could have not been more glaring. 

Both Ming Fan and the twins felt chins running down their spine seconds before dozens of snowballs flew their way, YingYing ready to go end all three of them.  

Shen Yuan laughed and laughed, his throat strained from keeping it inside. 

After he got his fill, he decided that maybe it was time he did his job as a Shizun and pacified his disciples, but he was rooted in place when he noticed the dark robes of a certain someone. 

Also hidden behind some bamboos, Binghe watched the disciples, his eyes diffused in melancholic tones. 

With an icy whisper, the wind picked up, scattering the snow off the ever-green bamboos. Silver dust drifted away in frivolous swirls, Binghe’s black locks swinging aimlessly in the wind.

Shen Yuan’s heart ached. 

Only when Binghe moved, did Shen Yuan realise that the disciples chased each other away, calmness taking over the scenery. 

In silence, Shen Yuan followed Binghe until they reached the bamboo house, wondering what kept his husband’s mind so preoccupied that he did not notice his presence. From his hidden spot, Shen Yuan could glance at Binghe’s face and see the sadness that his features betrayed. 

His lashes adorned with bitty snowflakes were cast low over his pale cheeks, his feet playing with the snow. He looked too pitiful … too lonely ...

Shen Yuan found himself wanting to rush over and give his sticky husband a hug, but his mind conjured a better idea.

A chubby snowball hit Binghe right in the middle of his shoulder blades. When the target was successfully struck, Shen Yuan hid behind the bamboo trees, biting his lips to suppress his laughter.

He tried to change his position and stay hidden but failed to do so as a certain someone pinned him against the trees, dark eyes amused and inquisitive.

‘A-Yuan is playful today. Is this Shizun following the example of his disciples?’

Ha! This Shizun is even greater than his disciples!

Shen Yuan smiled smugly as he brought his fan to tilt Binghe’s chin upwards. The hit was too critical, wolfish playfulness melting into puppy love. Ah, it was too easy! It made him feel a bit bad, but Shen Yuan still sent a jolt of spiritual energy through the trees he was pinned against.

Binghe heard the ‘look up’ only when it was too late. The pile of snow hit him too well, Shen Yuan escaping from his arms. 

Though, he did not have the chance to run for too long, Binghe right behind him. Shen Yuan managed to playfully slap Binghe’s grabby hands away only for a couple of times, before his husband lunged at him and dragged the two of them down, pinning Shen Yuan in the pile of snow underneath.

Wilful, Shen Yuan tried to sneak one last attack, but the hand where he held the snowball was caught by the wrist. 

At the heat of his palm, the snowball started melting, cold droplets slipping into Shen Yuan’s sleeve. Binghe’s eyes followed the icy trail before he lowered his lips right against the soft skin and licked the water away. The tongue was hot and disobedient, A-Yuan’s mind going into a dizzy. 

There was no puppy love left in Binghe’s eyes anymore. 

Heh! I'm in danger! 

*

In the evening, Shen Yuan rested against Binghe’s chest as they bathed. His husband tenderly massaged his hands, Shen Yuan’s eyes slowly lowering from the sleepiness he felt. 

Binghe whispered sweetly in his ear, the tender words tickling Shen Yuan. His bun then intertwined their fingers and brought Shen Yuan’s right hand to kiss it, from the knuckles to the back of the hand, trailing upwards until he reached the blushed shoulder. Then, the kisses quickly multiplied towards the crook of the neck, making Shen Yuan squirm and laugh. 

He tried to pretend he wanted to escape, but Binghe brought him in a princess cradle and snuck a kiss on the lips. Then another. And another.  

Shen Yuan sighed. His husband … always so sticky ...

He looked into Binghe’s eyes that glowed lovingly in the mellow candlelight. He was glad his cute husband accepted to spend the following week or so together. A great storm was going to settle over the peaks, covering them in a heavy blanket of snow. It was why he had the meeting that morning. All the peak lords were to oversee their disciples and ensure that they will all be kept safe. 

Shen Yuan made the majority of the preparations, though there were a few matters here and there to attend. Then, they will all become trapped at some point for 3 to 4 days in their dwellings. He had to make sure there were communication arrays settled between him and the disciples and that food and water were stocked to last. 

And so he would not be trapped alone, he called Binghe to come to accompany him.

Of course, Binghe did not hesitate for even one second at the offer of being trapped with his A-Yuan for a few days with no one to disturb them. 

Sigh … Shen Yuan knew that he himself looked forward to sharing his time with Binghe. So, accepting his fate once again, he indulged into another kiss, his hand going from cradling Binghe’s cheek to threading through his husband’s fluffy locks. 

A few water droplets fell and disturbed the surface of the bathwater. 

A brisk gale rushed over the bamboo house.

Shen Yuan shivered.

He was suddenly reminded of the way Binghe looked earlier watching from within the bamboo trees. So, so lonely …

‘What was upsetting you earlier today?’ he asked while he caressed under Binghe’s chin.

His husband looked deep into Shen Yuan’s eyes but he did not say anything. It took his A-Yuan kissing him and calling him cutely Binghe, ah Binghe for him to finally spill the beans.

It seemed that seeing the disciples being so childlike and carefree made him think of how … how he didn’t really do that as a kid. It had always been him and his mother, as all the kids bullied him. 

And then he got to be a disciple. He first endured strife at the hands of the original and of the other disciples. When A-Yuan finally came to his life, Binghe only wished to become stronger and grow faster, the last chance to be a carefree youth melting away.  

Shen Yuan listened to him, making sure to brush his skin encouragely. Binghe indeed did not have the chance to be a child … life only knew to throw heavy responsibilities his way ... 

That night when they slept, Binghe safely tucked against his chest to listen to his A-Yuan’s heartbeat, Shen Yuan came up with an idea. 

*

A few nights later, the storm finally ruled over the peaks, trapping everyone under its reign.

It was so cold, one breath and the lungs would feel like ice. So cold, even the thickest fabrics were breached by icy winds. 

Bitter and cold, the bamboo house covered in heaps of snow, the only sound being the desolated howls of the storm. 

Though, Shen Yuan and Binghe felt none of it as they kept each other cozy and toasty. They cooked, played games, read and shared memories.

Also found many … many ways to keep each other warm.

And on the second night of the storm, when the storm was the most vicious, Shen Yuan prepared a surprise for Binghe. 

He built a pillow fort exactly like he used to do with his little sister when they were young. 

He replaced the silk that hung from the pillars of the bed with thick white bed linens and filled the inside with fluffy pillows and plush blankets. In one of the corners, he also added the A-Yuan plushie, now old and worm.

Next to it, he placed a Binghe plushie.

Once everything was settled, he hung from the canopy a couple of small lampions shaped like clouds. Inside there were stones that glowed a tender blue light when charged with spiritual energy. 

Quickly, he burned some incense so the air would fill with calming fragrances and made sure to place on the bed the most comfortable and kind to the skin robes they had. 

The whole time, Binghe was forced to stay in the kitchen and cook dinner, not allowed to come in. 

After they ate together, Shen Yuan told Binghe to keep his eyes closed while they went to bathe themselves just in case he would somehow catch a glimpse. 

In the tub, Shen Yuan washed Binghe’s hair gently, keeping the pace steady despite his excitement. He massaged the scalp and played with the long curls. He then poured warm water over the locks, even whispering a couple of sweet words to Binghe. 

His husband turned to be a symbol of obedience, not trying to touch sneakily nor say some ridiculous spicy remark. He simply allowed all of his A-Yuan’s whims, eyes always full of molten adoration. 

It was maybe why Shen Yuan could not help himself and kept planting little pecks all over his cute husband. 

When they were ready, Shen Yuan told Binghe to wait a bit more. He quickly got out and brought some of the snacks that were prepared in advance together with some apricot kernel tea to place them on the bed. He then got dressed and went to bring Binghe.

Shen Yuan helped him out of the tub, then dried him with fluffy towels and helped him dress in the comforting robes, Binghe blushing silently at the attention he was receiving. 

Once ready, he told Binghe to close his eyes. Hands intertwined, Shen Yuan brought them to the bedroom, instructing his husband to look around.

Binghe’s eyes went wide when he was met with the pillow fort. Even wider when he listened to Shen Yuan’s explanation about what it was. 

A way to sweeten the past by making up for it in the present. 

Truly, his husband remained speechless … until his eyes welled with small tears, Shen Yuan immediately panicking. He soothed Binghe, bringing him into a hug. 

No reason to cry … I’m here for you … shhh shh … I love you too …

When Binghe calmed, Shen Yuan brought him by the hand to the fort, urging him to enter first. After they were both inside, Shen Yuan closed the entrance, the two of them becoming caught in their own little world.

Shen Yuan chose to first dry Binghe’s hair properly, brushing his hair and coating the strands with oils he got from a pouch prepared in advance. While he did so, he encouraged his husband to take some sips from the tea so he would warm up some more.

When finished, Shen Yuan braided Binghe’s hair and tied it with one of his green ribbons. He then wished to go to the next activity he planned, but Binghe insisted on braiding his A-Yuan’s hair as well.

While he did so, Shen Yuan enjoyed his own cup of tea and some of the dragon’s beard candy that was among the snacks. He would take a delicate bite out of each, toes curling at the sweetness, and then would feed Binghe the rest of the morsel. His husband would not hesitate to kiss his fingertips tenderly. 

Both having their hair braided, Shen Yuan presented a board with white and black pebbles. They were to enjoy a game of Go while they ate the rest of the snacks. The loser would give the winner a back massage. 

40 minutes later, and some barely concealed smug smiles, Binghe won. 

He stripped his shirt slowly, making sure to flex his muscles, Shen Yuan rolling his eyes, while a secret part of him suddenly felt scalding hot. No matter, he started massaging his husband’s back, warm hands kneading and relaxing tired muscles. 

It did not last long for Shen Yuan to sneak a hand to an extremely sensitive point of Binghe’s and tickled mercilessly. His husband jolted and laughed, but did not try to stop him. So they went and went, Shen Yuan lowering his lips against Binghe’s skin to blow raspberries as well.

They tired quickly so they settled next to each other, laughing for a long time.

Once the last of the laughter was out, Shen Yuan gazed at Binghe, his eyes glowing cheerfully. He rolled closer, close enough to indulge in a kiss, but he chose instead to whisper a request.

‘Tell me a secret.’

Binghe looked at him slightly confused, at which Shen Yuan chuckled and told him that it was time they shared secrets as it was supposed to happen inside a pillow fort. 

His husband smiled amused and thought for a short while before he finally made a confession. 

‘Have I told you how once I ran errands in secret so I could buy the necessary things to build a fishing rod and go fishing?’

It was not a secret, but it was a story Shen Yuan never heard before. So, he listened attentively to how little Binghe went fishing and caught a couple of really big grass carps. His mother was first angry when she found out he worked but was easily mollified by the tears that quickly spilled and by the sincere effort her son put in catching them such bountiful dinner. 

They ate well and continued to do so from time to time, as Binghe always had to be sneaky and not get caught by bullies or by the owner of the lake. It was one of their small pleasures in their harsh life. 

After that story, a few more followed, Binghe sharing memories of his mother he held dear. 

That simple moment, cast in the soft light of the glowing clouds, Shen Yuan promised to always deeply treasure. To always remember the bashful and excited way his husband told him all those stories. 

When it was his turn, Shen Yuan told Binghe about some times he got in big troubles with his sister, such as the time they built a boat out of the papers of a very important business contract. Their parents were less than pleased that the boat was so well made it easily floated in the bathtub. 

They laughed and teased each other, somehow learning something else about one another and falling in love a little more.

Binghe looked so mellowed and carefree, a sleepy smile adorning his handsome features, that Shen Yuan could not help himself and came closer.

He kissed his left cheek and then pecked closer and closer until he was hovering above Binghe’s lips. There, he mischievously moved away and continued kissing the other cheek. Then the brow, eyelids, and the tips of the nose. 

And then he was again just a breath away from his husband’s mouth. Smiling, Shen Yuan closed his eyes and kissed Binghe tenderly, sighing at how good it felt to indulge like this. 

When they finally finished and were too exhausted to have any more pillow talks, Shen Yuan’s redressed Binghe, snuggled them within the blankets and cradled his husband in his arms. He extinguished the glowing stones and then opened a little box made of finely crafted black ivory that had a round disk on top. He concentrated his spiritual energy and slowly, the device activated.

Myriads of stars were projected around them, looking as if their little world had its own night sky. The light was faint, perfectly for falling asleep to it. 

The wind outside was cold and vicious and the night was to be long and bitter. But it was alright. The howls or the iciness could not reach them there. 

Playing with Binghe’s braided hair and rubbing calming circles on his back, Shen Yuan told him his little sister’s favorite fairy tale. 

Once upon a time …

Chapter Text

Soft tickles upon his face woke Binghe up. He opened his eyes sleepily, expecting to see the early spring light filtering through the gauzes of the curtains. Yet, what he saw was long tendrils of hair. 

He immediately struggled and managed to only get tangled among the silky strands. He pushed and turned, trying to call upon his sword to cut the soft chains, but he realised he could feel neither his spiritual energy nor his demonic one. 

A feeling of dread coursed through him, his struggle becoming more fierce. He only stopped when a series of aggravated ouch, ouch, ouch filtered through his anxious mind. 

A-Yuan?

The strands were slowly removed from him, Binghe sitting still while he was freed. When the last one was finally removed, he realised he was staring at a bigger version of his husband’s face. 

‘Binghe?’

The voice was still husky with sleep, but the amused tone was not missed by Binghe, who immediately looked down at his body. He was the size of a doll, barely as long as the length of A-Yuan’s slender palms. 

Binghe laid naked on a fluffy pillow, not quite understanding what happened. He tried to go through the events in the past few days for a clue. He returned together with A-Yuan last night from a banquet in the Eastern Demon territory and went straight to sleep. 

He thought and thought until something came to his mind. Did not A-Yuan, a bit tipsy from the alcohol, fall into his moody state and kept asking to be fed sweets? At some point, he saw that Binghe had not been eating any so he opened a box and offered one to him? All with the manners of a master feeding a servant he favoured?

That box was full of odd-tasting candy and had on top of the lid a well-known emblem.  Were those sweets not from the Western border? Where a demoness well-known for her pranks and sweets lived? 

Binghe had been so distracted with the wanton way A-Yuan behaved, he mind must have been drunk on a very strange liquor to have not noticed.

And now he was stuck in this tiny form … again, but this time even tinier! 

Once he came to terms with the situation, he explained to A-Yuan what happened and tried to see if they could come with a solution, but Binghe noticed his husband barely paid any attention. 

The corners of A-Yuan’s lips kept twitching upwards and his eyes had sparks of excitement in them. When Binghe asked him whether he was alright, maybe the candy he ate also having been tampered with, A-Yuan lost it. He started laughing softly and immediately squished Binghe’s cheeks with his fingertips. 

Binghe slowly turned into a tiny tomato. 

If things would have been different, A-Yuan would have already been pushed down … but like this … there was not much Binghe could do than endure …

A-Yuan continued to pinch his tiny cheeks, tickle his tiny toes, and squeeze his little hands. 

Simply put, Binghe was bullied mercilessly.

When A-Yuan finally had his fill, he asked if Binghe knew how long it will take to recover. Binghe had no real idea but hoped it will be as soon as possible. Being like this put him in a really vulnerable position. 

He also could not enjoy this cute version of A-Yuan as he should be right at that moment!  

The situation being like that, they decided to keep the matter a secret. 

The first thing they decided to do afterward was to make something to eat for breakfast. Yet, there was a problem. A-Yuan was still learning the basics and could not make a proper meal at that time. The two still relied heavily on Binghe’s skills. 

No matter, Binghe proposed that he will simply guide A-Yuan. 

A-Yuan agreed but then he stopped and looked at Binghe’s little body in confusion. After a moment, his husband brought his hands and waited. Understanding, Binghe climbed in the warm palms, enjoying the tender and plush flesh. 

A-Yuan brought him up to his face level and once more smiled fondly at this cute version of Binghe. Too cute! Too cute! he must have thought, Binghe only becoming more frustrated. He spread his arms and motioned that he wanted a hug. 

At that, his husband smiled and brought him so very close to his right cheek to just move his hands backward, teasing and laughing again. Though, he really pushed too much. Binghe could not hold his annoyance back anymore, so he quickly made a plan.

With the skill of a muddy fish, he slipped inside one of A-Yuan’s robes and started to ascend upwards. It was hard, the fabrics of the sleeve pressing him down. Plus, A-Yuan’s skin was so silky, it was impossible to not slip off. Still, the grievances only made Binghe more obstinate.

He gripped a bit harder on the wrist, his grabby hand feeling like the touches of little insects, tickling his husband. It made A-Yuan chase up his sleeve, trying to fish Binghe while also not shake his arm and flush the little bun out. 

When A-Yuan finally caught the small troublemaker, the slippery fish still struggled in his hand, but it was in vain. Binghe was brought up to A-Yuan’s face again, making sure to support a pout on his handsome features.

Seeing him relied like that, his husband felt bad so he brought Binghe to his right cheek again, and squashed him against it. At the tender gesture, little Binghe’s heart was filled once more with affection, his past grievances momentarily forgotten.

Once they calmed down, A-Yuan carried Binghe towards a small cabinet that had many drawers. He put Binghe on the top of the cabinet before he opened a drawer and got some fabric, a needle, and some thread. Under Binghe’s curious eyes, he quickly stitched a small chest pocket on the robe.  

He then opened another drawer that revealed a row of delicate handkerchiefs. His husband held Binghe in one palm while he picked the only black handkerchief he had. He then dressed Binghe up in the piece of fabric, crudely tieing a few small knots. 

It looked quite bad and messy, but at least Binghe was covered. Quickly then, A-Yuan took a few more handkerchiefs and stuffed the chest pocket with them, placing Binghe inside afterward.

 

Making breakfast was half a success, half a disaster. Under Binghe’s patient instructions, him peeking from within his pocket, a swirl of curls and sparkling eyes, A-Yuan made two decent portions of congee. 

The disaster was that the kitchen was made extremely messy. 

They sat to eat, Binghe standing on the table next to the bowl of congee. A-Yuan disappeared inside their bedroom again and came back with a few more handkerchiefs, which he folded to make a small sitting pillow for Binghe. He also brought a box made out of onyx and silver. 

Inside there were a few thimbles heavily embedded with jewels, the odd luxury clearly having belonged to the original owner of the bamboo house. The thimble that A-Yuan offered Binghe had green jade dragons swirling around. 

In that fine piece of jewelry, after washing thoroughly, A-Yuan carefully poured some congee for Binghe to try and sip.  

After Binghe took a couple of sips he looked up and noticed that A-Yuan was looking at him like an auntie looking at chubby toddlers. He wondered why, but he understood when he noticed his features in the silver surface of the thimble.  Because he had to sip the congee, he did not control the portion quite right, so he ate more than he should, his cheeks puffing with the big grains of rice. Plus, dressed in a handkerchief and hair messy, he looked embarrassingly cute.

If it would have been A-Yuan in his place, Binghe would have died of cuteness. Especially if his husband would have had a small fan to cover his blushing features. But it being him, Binghe disliked it very much, blushing furiously.

It did not help that A-Yuan’s eyes just went wider and glimmered happily, using one fingertip to pat his head. 

Binghe endured, mentally sighing. Soon, A-Yuan will reap all that he sowed. 

 

As their day was free of responsibilities, A-Yuan proposed they went to buy a couple of things for Binghe in case his state persisted for longer. He put Binghe in the chest pocket and then took one of his widest fans that covered Binghe and his face well. 

They went to a few doll merchants to buy the necessary. Two silk robes in black and a pair of shoes, a little doll hairbrush, and some small utensils for eating. 

When they returned, A-Yuan helped Binghe dress in the new robes and then watched Binghe, who sat on the side of A-Yuan’s fan on a table, brush his hair. A-Yuan’s eyes continued to glimmer with love and excitement, Binghe not surprised in the least when his husband sat on his knees so his face would be on Binghe’s level.

A-Yuan brought one fingertip to poke his small cheek and Binghe allowed. But, in that moment, his heart filled with too much worry and embarrassment, so his dark eyes welled with sincere tears. 

Binghe grabbed onto the finger and leaned against it, looking with puppy eyes at his husband. 

There was an immediate change, A-Yuan’s features softening, his eyes filling up with a bit of shame. 

‘Have I been too much?’

Binghe nodded. 

A-Yuan lowered his lashes as he took Binghe in his hands and brought him close to his cheek. Binghe sighed as he hugged the tender skin. 

‘I’m sorry’ A-Yuan said in a whispered tone. 

It's alright was  Binghe’s reply. He only wished he could go back and not be in this weak form anymore. Even though he received so much attention, his heart was still a bit anxious.

What if he never returned?

A-Yuan squished him harder against his cheek. 

‘You will recover soon, okay?’

Hopefully … Binghe managed to place a small kiss.

 

Later that day, they decided to go for a walk. Binghe sat in his little pocket, close to his husband’s heart, the sound calming him. He watched the sky and realised how much bigger it seemed.  The bamboo trees seemed much taller and when leaves flew by, he saw just how small he was. It made him snuggle some more in his little shelter. 

When they made a break, A-Yuan served him some sweets. It was a box of different kinds of pastries, all looking so delicious. A-Yuan made sure to take some and break them in tiny pieces and then offered his palm as a plate to Binghe, who did not hesitate to take a few bites. 

Somehow, a little swallow noticed the crumbs and the kind gaze supported by A-Yuan, so it landed in his palm and started pecking at the crumbs. At Binghe’s crumbs crumbled by his A-Yuan!

Soured he shooed it away, the swallow looking at him surprised, but as he was small, it ignored him. Ahhhhh!!! Where was his sword when he needed one? 

One big hand spitefully shooed the bird away, nearly slapping it in the process. 

Binghe looked up to see a displeased scowl appearing on his husband's face. It made Binghe’s little heart very pleased. 

 

In the evening, they retreated to first reheat the second portion of congee. Then, they went to bathe. A-Yuan earlier bought a wide lotus leaf that he now placed on the surface of the water and then put Binghe on it. He then slowly got into the water, careful to not create waves. A-Yuan also brought another thimble with which Binghe could gather water and wash. 

Once they finally went to sleep, A-Yuan brought the old A-Yuan plushie and placed it right next to him on the bed. Binghe climbed on top of the dollie and hugged it tightly, really, really wishing it was A-Yuan he held … at least he could feel his husband’s heartbeat …

A-Yuan smiled lovingly at him as he settled right next to him. Not long after, he moved a fingertip, Binghe thinking he would have to endure another round of teasing, but instead, he was asked to kiss the finger.

Binghe did and then his cheeks flushed a totally new shade of red when his husband brought the fingertip to his own lips and laid a kiss there. 

Seeing him so flustered, A-Yuan chuckled while his eyes glimmered, bringing his finger again and allowing Binghe to hold on it. Binghe took no time in snuggling around the finger. 

Like that, they fell asleep.

 

Come morning, Binghe woke up, his husband squished against his chest.

Oh ~ He was right back to his normal size again … heh.

He immediately planned to make A-Yuan regret his past deeds but was rooted in place when his husband opened his eyes sleepily.

‘Mmmm, I’m happy’ he said in a hazy tone.

‘Why?’

‘Like this you’re better to hug.’ 

Not only did he say something cute and shameless without shying away, but he fell right back to sleep, snuggling even closer.   

The blow was too critical, Binghe softening in a puddle of warmth and love.

Maybe he should tease his husband later, the hand that had indecent thoughts ending up caressing tenderly down A-Yuan’s back.  His husband sighed and stuck closer. 

Yesmaybe let those plans for later … he decided as he drifted back to sleep as well.