Wei Wuxian is told from a young age that he isn’t allowed to fall in love.
Thrust into a world of politics and insufferable elders upon his adoption into the Yunmeng Jiang sect, there is very little he can do to argue against the future that is set in stone for him. You will marry, Yu Ziyuan says, not for love, but to strengthen our political ties.
Wei Wuxian’s elder sister, his beloved shijie, has already been offered to Lanling Jin. Jiang Cheng, his shidi, will become sect leader once it is his time. All that’s left is to finalize Wei Wuxian’s betrothal.
He’s walking the halls of Lotus Pier with his brother when he hears it.
“A letter from Gusu Lan arrived this morning,” says Jiang Fengmian.
Jiang Cheng immediately grabs Wei Wuxian’s arm to stop him from continuing on their path. Wei Wuxian furrows his eyebrows, confusion evident in his features, and watches as Jiang Cheng raises a finger to his lips and shakes his head.
“Gusu Lan?” Yu Ziyuan repeats. “What could Gusu Lan possibly want from us?”
“A marriage proposal,” says Jiang Fengmian. Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng both freeze simultaneously. “For Wei Wuxian.”
Wei Wuxian’s jaw drops in surprise. He may only be a young child, but he is extremely smart for his age! He has a very, very good idea of what that means.
“For Wei Wuxian?” Yu Ziyuan asks. Her voice is slightly muffled by the wall the two are hiding behind, but Wei Wuxian can hear her words loud and clear. “To who? Lan Xichen? Why would the future sect leader of Gusu Lan be looking for a betrothal?”
“Not Lan Xichen,” Jiang Fengmian says, “the younger twin jade. Lan Wangji.”
“I was surprised at first as well,” says Jiang Fengmian. “The letter outlined how he is their only option to create political bonds as they are not interested in arranging Lan Xichen’s wedding as of right now.” He sighs very loudly. “It is uncommon for sect heirs to be placed into betrothal at such a young age.”
“Do not forget about A-Xuan,” Yu Ziyuan says primly.
“You are well acquainted with Madam Jin,” says Jiang Fengmian. “There is a difference.”
Wei Wuxian looks over to Jiang Cheng, who is already staring back at him with a strange look in his eyes. Wordlessly, they go back to their room, and sit on opposite sides of one of the beds. Jiang Cheng’s lips are drawn into a deep frown, and Wei Wuxian very desperately wants to go and take a long nap.
“So,” Wei Wuxian starts, “what do you know about Gusu Lan?”
“They’re mean,” Jiang Cheng says. “You will die in Gusu Lan.”
Wei Wuxian’s eyes widen. “What?”
“There’re like three thousand rules!” Jiang Cheng exclaims. “You’re gonna die. There’s no way you’ll be able to follow three thousand rules.”
Wei Wuxian huffs. “You just don’t have any faith in me.”
“I don’t,” Jiang Cheng agrees with a nod. “I definitely do not.”
“Jiang Cheng,” says Wei Wuxian, lips twisting into a pout, “what do you know about Lan Wangji?”
“Nothing,” says Jiang Cheng, “but if he’s from Gusu Lan he’s probably gonna be a pain.”
Wei Wuxian groans aloud, unable to help himself. He reaches his hands up, covering his face with them and tries very hard not to scream at the top of his lungs. “What if he hates me?”
“He probably already hates you,” Jiang Cheng says, epitome of reassurance.
Jiang Cheng shrugs. “He’s being pulled into a marriage with you. He’s just gonna hate you more and more as the years go by.”
“I don’t need this,” says Wei Wuxian, abruptly standing up. “This… this negativity.”
“That’s a big word. Where’d you learn that?”
“Shijie!” Wei Wuxian exclaims proudly. “Oh! We should tell Shijie about this! Maybe she knows something about this Lan Wangji person.”
“Maybe,” Jiang Cheng says.
And off they go.
The engagement is kept quiet. Much too quiet. So quiet that Wei Wuxian himself forgets about it.
That is, of course, till Jiang Fengmian calls his children over to discuss a matter of dire importance.
“You will be studying at Cloud Recesses this year,” he says as he paces around his room. “Elder Lan is a brilliant teacher. All young cultivators of your generation will be there.”
“Cloud Recesses?” Jiang Cheng repeats, blinking. He casts a side glance over to Wei Wuxian, who looks equally as surprised. Jiang Yanli, too, presses her lips together silently. “Meaning Gusu Lan? We will be studying at Gusu Lan?”
“Correct,” Jiang Fengmian says with a short nod. He gives Wei Wuxian a once-over. “A-Xian, you are sixteen now. Your impression on Gusu Lan is important to the status of your betrothal to Lan er-gongzi.”
Wei Wuxian winces. Right. That.
From beside him, Jiang Cheng snickers. “Guess you’ll finally get to meet your beloved soon. The esteemed Second Master Lan.”
“Shut up,” Wei Wuxian mutters. He turns back to Jiang Fengmian. “Jiang-shushu, what is Lan er-gongzi like? Have you ever met him?”
“He is a fine boy,” Jiang Fengmian says. “Very well behaved. You will see for yourself.”
Very well behaved. That doesn’t sound like someone with a heart like his own.
He shakes the thought away. Oh well. “But what if I do something stupid?”
“That isn’t a what if,” Jiang Cheng says. “You’re obviously going to do something stupid. It’s just a matter of time.”
“A-Cheng,” Jiang Fengmian says sternly.
Jiang Cheng immediately sobers. “Sorry, Father.”
“You will be leaving in one week,” says Jiang Fengmian. “Remember to uphold our sect rules and bring nothing but honor to us.”
And so, exactly a week later, Wei Wuxian finds himself in front of the gates of Cloud Recesses.
“According to Gusu Lan sect’s principles,” says the guard in the most deadpan of voices Wei Wuxian has ever heard, “all those who are coming for Elder Lan’s lectures will not be permitted without proof of their invitation.”
Oh, God, Wei Wuxian thinks, so this is what they meant when they said the Lan clan is the uptight one.
“I’ve told you a thousand times,” he says, eyebrows pinched together, “we accidentally lost our invitations. We never intended to lose them! We’re here right now, right? Why would we come all this way to just try and break in?”
“Gongzi, without an invitation, I cannot identify you.”
Wei Wuxian opens his mouth to say something, then decides against it. He closes his eyes, sighing deeply.
“Okay, okay,” he says, smiling easily at the guard, “how about this? Why don’t you go and fetch your sect leader. He probably knows who we are.”
The guard seems to consider this for a moment. Then, “Well, please wait here for a moment then. We change shifts at five forty-five sharp.”
“Five forty-five?” Wei Wuxian repeats. “But the sun will already have set by then!”
“A-Xian,” says Jiang Yanli. He turns to pout at her, but she shakes her head. The betrothal. It remains unsaid, but the three of them are all thinking it. “Behave yourself.”
“A-Xian.” She offers him a comforting smile. “Just as Father instructed, we cannot forget our manners.”
Right. Right. Wei Wuxian knows that.
Before he can say anything in response, however, he hears footsteps approaching.
Wei Wuxian instinctively turns around, eyes trailing over to the source of the sound. He makes out a flash of white through the trees, before a figure comes into view. The man is clad in the same robes—just heavier, more formal-looking—as the guard by the entrance.
He’s tall. Beautiful, really. Wei Wuxian’s eyebrows raise delicately as the man, who has to be around his own age, walks up the path and over to them. He’s holding a sword tightly by his waist, expression minute and perfectly blank. There’s a thin ribbon wrapped around his forehead, the embroidery much too fancy to just be there for decoration.
Wei Wuxian, against his will, shivers at the sight.
The man ignores them all, walking straight up to the guard, who is already hunched in a low bow.
“Lan er-gongzi, welcome back.”
Wei Wuxian freezes.
Lan er-gongzi. Lan er-gongzi.
This is Lan Wangji.
“Who is looking for trouble?” asks Lan Wangji, voice low and steady.
Jiang Cheng roughly elbows Wei Wuxian’s side, and he startles up to look at him. Jiang Cheng’s eyes are wide on his face, and he’s tilting his head in the direction of the entrance where Lan Wangji is standing, back turned to the three of them.
Jiang Cheng mutters under his breath, just loud enough for Wei Wuxian to hear him, “The younger twin jade of Lan. Lan Wangji.” Then, “Your future husband.”
“Shut up,” Wei Wuxian hisses. “Shut up.”
This, however, seems to reach Lan Wangji’s ears. He turns on his heel, posture perfect, and bears his eyes straight into Wei Wuxian’s.
Wei Wuxian prickles under the sudden attention, and feels Jiang Cheng shift from beside him. His brother quickly steps up, a little in front of him, and bows lightly.
“Lan er-gongzi,” Jiang Cheng says, “I am Jiang Cheng, Jiang Wanyin from Yunmeng Jiang sect, son of Sect Leader Jiang.” Wei Wuxian instantly notices how Lan Wangji’s golden eyes flicker with recognition upon hearing the name. Jiang Cheng gestures back to Jiang Yanli, who bows as well. “This is my older sister, Jiang Yanli.” Then, he turns to his other side, where Wei Wuxian is still standing, frozen in place. “This is my senior sect brother, Wei Ying, Wei Wuxian.”
Lan Wangji’s eyes are immediately back on Wei Wuxian, this time with an underlying hardness behind them. He looks away almost immediately after, and bows low to the three of them.
“Lan Zhan, Lan Wangji,” he says. “It is an honor.”
“Lan er-gongzi,” Jiang Cheng continues, “we have accidentally misplaced our invitations. It is getting late and it is inconvenient to sleep outside. Please make an exception for us.”
Lan Wangji doesn’t move an inch as he responds, “I am sorry. No invitation, no entry.” He doesn’t sound one bit sorry about it at all, Wei Wuxian thinks.
“Lan er-gongzi,” he says before he can stop. He faintly feels the need to kick himself, but now that he’s started he might as well continue. He watches as Lan Wangji’s eyes return to him, and barely makes out the way his adam’s apple bobs upon hearing his name. With a deep breath, Wei Wuxian keeps going. “We came all the way from Yunmeng,” he says. “We’re all exhausted from the trip. You can’t just turn us down because we don’t have our invitation! Don’t you think you’re being a little rigid?”
Lan Wangji stares at him, gaze unmoving. “No invitation, no entry,” he says again.
Frankly, Wei Wuxian feels the need to be insulted. After all, this is the first time he’s meeting his future husband, and he is certain Lan Wangji knows who he is as well.
“Lan er-gongzi,” he starts again, “I promise you that it was an accident! We never intended to lose it!” Then, a little quieter, “Please?” The absolute last thing he wants is to make his siblings sleep outside for the night.
But Lan Wangji is brutal. “Find it and come back.”
Something inside Wei Wuxian finally snaps. He takes a bold step closer, ignoring the way the guard by the door immediately springs to attention, ready to defend Lan Wangji if need be. Wei Wuxian wonders if this is going to be a mistake, but before he dwells too much on the thought, his more shameless side comes out.
“Lan er-gongzi,” he says, “are you really going to deny me entry into my future home?”
Everything around them goes incredibly still.
“A-Xian,” Jiang Yanli says, voice breathy and clearly surprised by the sudden turn of events.
Wei Wuxian gulps. Well, he thinks, I might have just fucked this up.
“Wei-gongzi,” says Lan Wangji. His voice is stable, and far too calm to be considered normal. Especially given their current circumstance. Wei Wuxian wonders how he got himself into this situation. “Find your invitation and come back. You will not be permitted inside without it.”
And with that, he shakes out his robes, turns around, and starts to walk away.
“Hey!” Wei Wuxian yells after him. “Hey—hey! You can’t just leave us here! Lan er-gongzi! You—mmph!”
Wei Wuxian finds that, all of a sudden, he is unable to speak. He stares after Lan Wangji in utter shock, the latter cruising up to the Cloud Recesses with a hand behind his back. He yells his muffled cries to the very best of his ability, trying to get him to stop to no avail.
The guard then speaks up, “Lan er-gongzi has put a silencing charm on you.” Wei Wuxian’s eyes go wide in shock. “No one can relieve it except the Lans, and it dispels on its own after a certain amount of time.”
Wei Wuxian slowly turns back to look at Jiang Cheng and Jiang Yanli, his voice still being pushed down by the annoying charm. He gives them aghast looks, his brother looking at him pitifully while Jiang Yanli stares at his mouth in worry.
So, of course, Wei Wuxian ends up going back for the invitation. Jiang Cheng tries to come with him, but Wei Wuxian shakes his head. It’s better if he stays with their sister.
He arrives back a few hours later, two medium-sized clay jars full of Emperor’s Smile hanging off of his index finger and a lazy smile curling around his lips. Thankfully, the silencing spell had worn off about halfway through his trip, so he was easily able to chat up the workers in town and snag some discounts on the alcohol.
His happiness changes to confusion, however, when he doesn’t find Jiang Cheng and Jiang Yanli where he had left them. He frowns, then shrugs. Oh well.
It takes a while, but Wei Wuxian finally manages to get himself inside the Cloud Recesses. He perches on the roof of what seems to be a large building, swinging the jars of wine from his sword and giggling silently to himself.
Just as he’s about to settle himself in and pop one open, he feels eyes on his back.
Wei Wuxian blinks, slowly turning around.
Lan Wangji is staring at him from a balcony across the roof.
Wei Wuxian startles, shaking his head to quickly recompose himself. He offers him a smile, finding that it feels weird on his lips.
“Um,” he says eloquently, the single syllable ringing heavy in the air. “Lan er-gongzi! What a coincidence! What are you doing out here so late in the evening?” When Lan Wangji doesn’t respond, Wei Wuxian forces out a laugh. “Are you… coming out here to admire the moon or something? Haha.” He remembers something. “Oh! Right! I have the invitation here with me, so you can’t kick me out!” To prove his point, Wei Wuxian reaches into his robes and takes out a flimsy piece of paper, holding it out in front of him and shaking it.
“Breaking your way inside,” Lan Wangji suddenly says, “is a violation of Lan sect principles.”
Wei Wuxian’s lips part in surprise. “Huh?”
“Furthermore, those who come at night are not allowed inside after seven,” Lan Wangji continues. “Two violations.” He pauses for a moment. His eyes rake down to the jars of Emperor’s Smile, then move back up to Wei Wuxian. “Alcohol is prohibited. Three violations.”
Wei Wuxian gapes at him. “Lan er-gongzi,” he says slowly. “Look. I’m new in your Gusu Lan sect, and I’m not familiar with the rules. I just wanted to find my shijie and shidi! Promise!”
“Does not excuse the alcohol,” says Lan Wangji.
Wei Wuxian thinks rapidly. “Okay,” he says. He slips one of the jars off of his sword and holds it out to him. “Here! I’ll spare you a jar if you forget about this.”
“Attempting to bribe the law enforcer,” says Lan Wangji. “Four violations.”
Wei Wuxian stares at him for a long moment, then frowns. “Eh? Lan er-gongzi, are you seriously this inflexible? I can’t believe I’m going to have to spend the rest of my life with such a fuddy-duddy.”
Barely two seconds later, there is a sword at Wei Wuxian’s throat.
Another few seconds have Wei Wuxian’s own sword unsheathed, cleanly slicing through the air and momentarily blessing him with reprieve.
Ah, the inherent romance of dueling with your future cultivation partner on a lone rooftop in the middle of the night.
They go through the movements quickly, efficiently. It’s painfully obvious what Lan Wangji is trying to do. He’s sizing him up; he’s openly judging Wei Wuxian for his swordsmanship. Wei Wuxian can’t exactly blame him, of course. If he were an uptight Lan individual, he too would want to see just how good the person he was set to marry is at holding his own.
It goes on like that—back and forth, back and forth. Lan Wangji jabs, Wei Wuxian defends. Wei Wuxian jabs, Lan Wangji defends. They fly across the sky, the glittering stars above acting as their sole witnesses.
“Lan er-gongzi,” says Wei Wuxian as he ducks underneath a particularly harsh thrust, “I gotta say, you haven’t exactly been the most welcoming so far.”
“Quiet,” says Lan Wangji, twirling on his heel to reposition himself for another lunge. There is something so graceful and elegant about the way he fights—if Wei Wuxian didn’t know any better, he’s sure he would have swooned at the sight.
“That’s no fun!” Wei Wuxian chides as they dance their way across to another rooftop. “Lan er-gongzi, are you against our betrothal?” Lan Wangji pauses. Wei Wuxian breaks out into a wide grin. “Is that right? Did I hit the nail in the head?”
Lan Wangji’s gaze on him sharpens.
Wei Wuxian sighs. “Lan er-gongzi, we are much too old now to call it off. Not without some drama, at least.” He hums, stroking his index finger across his chin. They’ve stopped dueling, at least, but Wei Wuxian carefully keeps his guard up just in case. “Do you want to call it off? Hm? Are you secretly in love with someone already?”
“I was not under the impression that Yunmeng’s oldest sect brother is such an ardent fan of our engagement.” Lan Wangji takes a single breath. “Nor that he is such a shameless character.”
“Me?” Wei Wuxian blinks. “Shameless? What ever for, my sweet Lan Wangji? I am simply attempting to get to know my fiance.”
“You have a strange way of going about that, Wei-gongzi.”
“Well,” Wei Wuxian says, using his hands to perch his chin up as he leans closer to him, “it isn’t like you’re doing a lot better, Lan er-gongzi.” He grins. “Personally, I think you should give me a chance! I can be a total sweetheart when I want to be.” His eyes sparkle mischievously, “That’s a cute pet name, wouldn’t you agree? Perhaps instead of Lan er-gongzi you could be Sweetheart.”
Lan Wangji doesn’t bother justifying that with an answer, instead letting his thick white robes shake with a single flick of his wrist and turning around.
Wei Wuxian can’t help but smile as he watches him retreat.
Wei Wuxian gets himself into trouble, but everyone had been expecting that. He’s not even really surprised himself.
Lan Qiren assigns him copy work: the Virtue section of Righteousness (which is really just a fancy name for the Gusu Lan sect rules.) Jiang Cheng tells him it’s so that he can learn what natural law and morality is, but Wei Wuxian thinks it’s just Lan Qiren’s way of torturing him.
“You need to copy it three times,” says Jiang Cheng solemnly. Wei Wuxian doesn’t buy his act, though. Jiang Cheng is clearly seconds away from bursting into amused laughter.
“Three times?” he repeats, flabbergasted. “That’s, like, four-fifths of the entire book! There’s no way I’m doing that!”
Nie Huaisang, from besides him, pipes up immediately. “I’ll copy it for you, Wei-xiong!”
Wei Wuxian snorts. “Yeah, right. What do you want in return?”
Nie Huaisang is about to speak, but quickly coughs his words away. His fan is lifted to delicately cover his mouth as he averts his gaze. Wei Wuxian regards him curiously, following his gaze.
Lan Wangji is standing underneath an ancient tree, his sword, Bichen, strapped tightly to his back. He’s gazing back at them coolly, barely even regarding their group in the first place, honestly, but it’s enough for Wei Wuxian to latch onto with glee.
He grins, raising his hand to wave frantically. Lan Wangji doesn’t move a muscle in return, but Wei Wuxian hadn’t been expecting him to in the first place. He bounds over to him.
“Lan er-gongzi,” he says. Should he bow? Nah. “Did you hear? Elder Lan is making me copy the sect rules three times! All of Virtue!”
Lan Wangji’s gaze on him narrows.
“He’s your uncle, right? I’m your betrothed! You gotta do something about this,” Wei Wuxian says with a pout.
“Mn,” Lan Wangji nods.
Wei Wuxian’s jaw drops. “What? Really?”
“Mn,” Lan Wangji nods again. “I will let him know that you are to copy both Virtue and Conduct.”
Lan Wangji turns on his heel, and walks away.
“Hey!” Wei Wuxian yells after him, ignoring the weird looks he’s getting from everyone in the courtyard. Well, he can’t really blame them all for staring. After all, Wei Wuxian is a very handsome lad.
Lan Wangji doesn’t pay him any attention as he slowly falls into stride besides him. Wei Wuxian has absolutely no idea where they’re going, and he’s not very confident about Lan Wangji giving him a proper answer if he asks.
So, he goes back to the topic at hand.
“I don’t think you understand, Lan er-gongzi,” he says. “Conduct is the most complicated section of all the rules! Copy it one time, and one loses interest in life. Copy it ten times, and they’d rise to the heavens in an instant! You’d really do that to me? You really want me to die an early death?” He gives him his best puppy eyes, but Lan Wangji doesn’t even spare him a glance.
Wei Wuxian is beginning to think of this as some sort of challenge.
“Hey—hey, would you at least look at me?”
Lan Wangji does not.
Wei Wuxian frowns, “Lan er-gongzi?”
Lan Wangji remains looking ahead.
“Wangji-xiong? Lan er-gongzi?” Wei Wuxian asks slowly. “Wangji? Lan Wangji?”
Lan Wangji still does not show any signs of acknowledging him.
Finally, Wei Wuxian snaps. “Lan Zhan!”
This seems to extract some sort of reaction from him. Lan Wangji gives him one of his signature sharp looks, and when he speaks, his voice is cutting.
“You plan on marrying into the Lan sect. It is important for you to know the entirety of Righteousness by heart.” He purses his lips. “Assigning only Virtue and Conduct is generous.”
“Woah, woah!” Wei Wuxian says, putting his hands up into the air at each of his sides. “All this because I called you by your birth name? If it irritates you that much, then you are free to call me by mine as well!” He hums, beginning to skip lightly next to the stoic boy. “And what’s this about marrying into the Lan sect all of a sudden? I thought you told me last night that you were planning on breaking the betrothal.”
“I said no such thing,” says Lan Wangji.
Wei Wuxian quirks an eyebrow at him. “So you do want to marry me.”
Lan Wangji finally turns his head to send him a single, long look. “This betrothal was my mother’s arrangement. I will not go against her wishes.”
“Your mother’s arrangement?” Wei Wuxian asks as they embark on a more secluded path. He pays no mind to it, however. This is Lan Wangji’s home, so he obviously knows his way around. “Why don’t you just talk to her about it then?”
Lan Wangji abruptly stops walking, going very, very still.
Wei Wuxian immediately understands.
“Sorry,” he says quickly, shaking his head. “Lan Zhan, I’m sorry.”
Lan Wangji glares at him for a short moment, before directing his gaze back ahead and continuing on his way.
Wei Wuxian gulps.
“I mean,” he says cautiously, knowing he’s treading on ice right now, “me too. My parents too, that is.”
Lan Wangji doesn’t say anything, but the pinch in his eyebrows does seem to relax, if only by the smallest degree. Wei Wuxian takes this as a good sign, so he decides he won’t waste his energy later by dwelling on this disaster of a conversation.
“By the way,” he says, smoothly transitioning to the next topic, “where exactly are we going?”
“Library,” says Lan Wangji.
Wei Wuxian furrows his eyebrows in confusion. “The library?” he repeats. “Why are we going to the library?”
“It is time for you to copy Righteousness,” says Lan Wangji, and, well would you look at that, they’ve arrived at the Library Pavilion. Wei Wuxian gapes at him, but Lan Wangji just keeps walking till the entrance.
He groans. “Virtue and Conduct?”
“Would you like to copy all portions instead? You will have to eventually.”
“No!” Wei Wuxian says quickly. “No, no! I think I’m good.”
They take their respective seats. Lan Wangji goes straight for one of the desks in the middle of the room while Wei Wuxian picks one of the ones in the corner. He slouches down with a pout, scowling at the paper and calligraphy set sitting in front of him on the table. He looks over ahead of him to see Lan Wangji already working on, well, whatever it is that he’s working on, and heaves a long, long sigh.
Lan Wangji ignores him.
They sit in silence for a while, Wei Wuxian making an abundant of exasperated noises that Lan Wangji never reacts to. Wei Wuxian stares ahead at him, curling his mouth into a frown as he watches him neatly write his characters onto the page.
“Lan Zhan,” he says. Lan Wangji’s hands do not even still over his work. “I’m sorry.”
Lan Wangji stops writing.
Wei Wuxian continues, “I, um, kinda can see how much you don’t want this marriage.”
“Wei Ying,” says Lan Wangji. Wei Wuxian holds his gasp back at the usage of his birth name. “I am not against this marriage.”
Wei Wuxian stares at him openly. Lan Wangji’s eyes are trailed downward, but at least now he’s participating in some level of communication.
“What?” Wei Wuxian asks. “What are you talking about? You so totally are.”
“I am not,” Lan Wangji says. “I recognize that Yunmeng Jiang is an important political ally for our sect. I cannot be against it.”
Wei Wuxian scoffs. “Well, yeah, I know it’s a useful marriage, but I wasn’t really talking about our sects.”
Lan Wangji finally looks up at him. His lips are pinched in a tight frown, like he’d rather be anywhere else than here. Wei Wuxian doesn’t doubt it. “What were you talking about?”
“Lan Zhan,” says Wei Wuxian, “I’m beginning to think you really are already in love with someone!”
Lan Wangji’s nose flares. “There is no one in my heart.”
“Oh,” says Wei Wuxian. “Well, alright then. I guess that’s beneficial. Whatever. My point is, you’re being forced into a loveless marriage. That can’t make for a very promising future.”
“You have the same future,” says Lan Wangji.
“Yeah,” Wei Wuxian nods, “but I’m not sulking about it.”
“I am not sulking.”
Wei Wuxian snorts at this. “Sure you aren’t. It’s just the years of pent up teenage angst.”
Lan Wangji is now staring at him fully. He’s set his brush down, and his hands are folded in his lap. His golden eyes are wide and open on his face as they bear straight back into Wei Wuxian’s.
“When did you find out?”
Wei Wuxian’s lips part in surprise at the sudden question. “When did I find out what?”
“About the betrothal.”
“Oh.” Wei Wuxian racks his memories for a second. “I overheard Jiang-shushu and Yu-furen talking about it when I was younger. It was the day the proposal came, I think, actually. I wasn’t officially told that it was going to happen till a year after, though.” He blinks, leaning his chin on his palm and perching on the table. “What about you, Lan Zhan? When did you find out?”
“After my mother passed,” says Lan Wangji, and he leaves it at that.
“Hmm,” Wei Wuxian hums. “Do you know when the wedding is, then?”
“When we are twenty, of course,” says Lan Wangji.
“Right,” Wei Wuxian says.
Four years. Their marriage is four years away. It’s quite a long time, Wei Wuxian thinks, but he knows that he won’t be able to actually properly see Lan Wangji much till after they’re wedded. Not with the duties Wei Wuxian holds back in Yunmeng, and the duties Lan Wangji holds here in Gusu.
Their marriage is simply a political alliance. There’s really no need for them to get to know each other.
“Do you wanna keep in touch?” The words fall out of his mouth before he can stop them.
Lan Wangji doesn’t react for a long moment. Then, “What?”
“You know,” Wei Wuxian says, “we’re gonna be married. In four years. Four years is a long time. We could keep in touch, here and there. If you want.”
Another stretched silence. Wei Wuxian bites his lip nervously, regretting ever bringing up the proposition.
Then, Lan Wangji nods. It’s small, barely there, but undeniable.
“Mn,” he says.
Wei Wuxian grins.
He sends his first letter about three months after leaving Cloud Recesses.
How are you? How have you been? I’m sorry it took me this long to write; I’ve been so busy lately! It’s terrible. I’ve been tasked with training some of the younger disciples and Yu-furen is just constantly throwing a fit. She’s insane.
I miss Cloud Recesses! I miss Elder Lan constantly breathing down my neck. Honestly, you’d never even think I was set to be his future nephew in-law. He has no restraints! Lan Zhan, you’ll be nice to me after we wed, right?
Jiang Cheng and Shijie are great, as always. You know, minus Jiang Cheng throwing fits and being his usual self. Typical. Shijie sends her regards. Jiang Cheng not so much, but that’s just who he is so you shouldn’t take offense.
Thinking of you,
I am doing well. Cloud Recesses is quiet without the disciples from the other sects.
Shufu can breathe now. Send my regards to your siblings as well.
They write infrequently, but with short enough increments to keep Lan Wangji in Wei Wuxian’s thoughts. He sends him a letter every few months, and Lan Wangji’s response comes a few weeks later. Sometimes, Wei Wuxian will reply again, but most times he tucks the parchment away into a drawer in his room and lets it sit there, dust collecting around it.
He supposes their relationship improves with time, though there isn’t much to really go off of. They are truly strangers, in the best sense, but strangers nonetheless.
Perhaps that will change after the wedding. Perhaps Wei Wuxian will work his way into Lan Wangji’s heart.
Somehow, he doubts it.
Then, Lan Wangji sends him a letter first.
Happy birthday. Congratulations on turning nineteen.
We will meet again soon.
Thank you! It was great seeing you at Shijie’s wedding! Though I’m sad we didn’t get to talk much… oh well, I guess we’ll have the rest of our lives for that, right?
The wedding preparations are so brutal, Lan Zhan. You don’t know what I had to go through just being on the sidelines of Shijie’s! And she was exhausted more often than not. I can only imagine what it’s going to be like for ours. I will be seeing you during the conferences in good health, I hope.
You turn twenty in a few months… time has passed wonderfully, Lan Zhan. I look forward to wearing red with you.
I pray that you are well.
On the day of his wedding, Wei Wuxian finds himself back in Cloud Recesses.
“Wei-gongzi,” Lan Xichen greets when he arrives at the gates. They bow to each other, and Wei Wuxian tilts his head warmly.
“Zewu-jun,” he says, “it is good to see you again.”
“Come,” Lan Xichen says, gesturing to the path that will take them up to the main area of the residence.
The rest of the people arriving from Yunmeng go elsewhere, and Wei Wuxian is led astray by Lan Xichen, who walks a little in front of him, leading him somewhere unknown. Wei Wuxian doesn’t ask where they’re going, but assumes it’s part of whatever Gusu Lan wedding tradition he has to follow.
(He’d been given a book to read regarding proper Lan sect weddings, but had procrastinated and kept it to the side till he only had enough time to skim through it once.)
It isn’t till they’re standing in front of a large building that Lan Xichen speaks again.
“This is the Jingshi,” he says. “You will be staying here while living in the Cloud Recesses.”
“Oh,” says Wei Wuxian. He nods as they walk up to the front door and Lan Xichen knocks three times.
“Have you been in here before?” he asks mildly.
Wei Wuxian furrows his eyebrows, then shakes his head. “No.” Why would he ever have been in here?
“I see,” says Lan Xichen, and Wei Wuxian still has absolutely no idea how to read him. The older twin jade of Lan is always so poised, so warm and kind and soft, Wei Wuxian never knows if what emotion he’s displaying is actually akin to something negative.
Through the dark wood of the closed door, Wei Wuxian makes out a muffled voice. “Come in,” it says.
Lan Xichen opens the door and steps inside, Wei Wuxian following closely at his tail. Lan Wangji is sitting by his guqin, fingers paused over the thick strings. He looks up and meets Wei Wuxian’s eyes almost immediately, the latter’s chest burning with familiar surprise.
“Lan Zhan,” he breathes in lieu of proper greeting.
Lan Wangji stands up, smoothing the fronts of his white robes down and walking down from the steps.
“Wei Ying,” he says, blinking slowly. He turns to his brother, “Xiongzhang.”
“Wangji,” Lan Xichen nods. “I will leave the two of you alone. I must tend to the arriving guests.”
“Mn,” nods Lan Wangji.
And then Lan Xichen is gone, leaving Wei Wuxian awkwardly standing in the middle of the room with Lan Wangji a few meters away.
“So,” he starts, catching Lan Wangji’s attention, “this is the Jingshi, huh? My room? Zewu-jun said that I’ll be staying here.”
“Mn,” says Lan Wangji. “Ours.”
The word rings heavy in the air. Wei Wuxian glances around to the carefully set out study desk, the guqin table, the bed… the one bed.
He inhales. “Right,” he says. “Ours.”
“Did you read the book Shufu sent you?”
“Oh.” Wei Wuxian shoots him a sheepish smile. “Um. Kind of? I sort of… skimmed some parts. But I get the gist!”
Lan Wangji levels him with an unimpressed look. “The ceremony is similar to the ones you must be having in Yunmeng,” he says. “There is only one major difference.”
Wei Wuxian winces, racking his head for anything he can possibly remember from that stupid book. Seriously, who gives people a thousand pages and expects them to read and know every little thing from their contents? Gusu Lan, apparently. Wei Wuxian’s new sect, apparently.
“Of course,” he says, nodding seriously. “A very important major difference, yes yes. Yes.”
“The forehead ribbon ceremony,” says Lan Wangji.
“Right,” Wei Wuxian nods. “I know exactly what that is.”
“Our forehead ribbons are sacred,” Lan Wangji says, like he doesn’t believe him. Well, it’s plainly obvious that he doesn’t. Wei Wuxian wouldn’t believe himself either. “They stand for regulation. Only family and cultivation partners are permitted to touch them.”
Makes sense why they’re a part of the wedding ceremony, then. “I knew that,” Wei Wuxian says. He did not know that.
Lan Wangji ignores him. “You are to tie mine on.”
Oh. “I can do that,” Wei Wuxian says.
“It is supposed to be perfect.”
“I am perfect, Lan Zhan. I am the definition of perfect.”
“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji says, exasperatedly. “This is our wedding.”
“I know.” Wei Wuxian offers him a light smile. “Don’t worry, Lan Zhan.” He skips over to one of the chairs by the study table and takes a seat. “So, how have you been? We haven’t seen each other since Shijie got married.”
“Been well,” Lan Wangji murmurs. “And you?”
“Oh, I’ve been splendid!” he says. “Running on three hours of sleep per night does absolute wonders to your body. I would definitely recommend it.”
“That is not healthy,” says Lan Wangji.
“Wedding planning does that to you,” Wei Wuxian says with a shrug. He props his legs up and crosses them underneath himself, holding his arms above his head to stretch. “Anyways, enough about that. Is there anything else important that I need to know about the ceremony?”
“So you have not read the book.”
“I totally have!” Wei Wuxian argues instantly, regretting his accidental slip-up. “I mean, I told you. I had to skim some parts.” Yeah, he thinks idly to himself, if by some parts mean the entire fucking book.
Lan Wangji sighs. It’s the first time Wei Wuxian has ever heard him sigh, though he’s sure it’s not going to be the last. Not with his personality. “Nothing you should not already be aware of through your own wedding traditions,” he says.
“Okay,” Wei Wuxian says with a nod. “Okay, great! That makes this a lot easier, then.”
“The forehead ribbon ceremony,” Lan Wangji says, taking a step closer to him. “It is very important.”
Wei Wuxian looks up at him, lips parting. “Yeah?”
“Take my ribbon off right now.”
The sudden demand surprises Wei Wuxian. He blinks once, then twice, then three times. His eyes flick up to the top of Lan Wangji’s head, eyeing the white embroidered strip with a narrow gaze. He judges it silently, then looks back at Lan Wangji.
“Okay,” he says, surprising himself with how quiet he suddenly gets. He pushes himself to his feet, walking back over to the middle of the room and taking a seat on the floor. He pats the empty spot in front of him, and Lan Wangji looks hesitant for only a fraction of a second before he lowers himself down as well.
Wei Wuxian has never seen Lan Wangji’s perfect posture break, so the sight of him leaning over is absolutely marvelling.
He slowly itches his fingers up, pausing right before they touch the fabric of the ribbon. Only family and cultivation partners, Lan Wangji had said.
His eyes dart down, and his breath hitches when he sees that Lan Wangji is already looking up at him.
There must be something in his eyes—some kind of question—Wei Wuxian thinks, because all of a sudden Lan Wangji is nodding at him to continue.
“You may,” he says, just loud enough for Wei Wuxian to be able to hear him.
Wei Wuxian takes a breath, then lets his fingers graze the bit of skin right around Lan Wangji’s temples, curling around till they’re in his hair and letting his index and middle collide as they gently wrap around the knot of the ribbon. It takes a bit of fumbling on his behalf, but then the ribbon is falling into his hands and away from Lan Wangji’s head, pooling around his palms and feeling all too heavy.
Wei Wuxian stares down at it with wide eyes.
Only family and cultivation partners.
“We aren’t… we aren’t married yet,” he says, looking up. Lan Wangji is gazing back at him, expression blank as always.
“There is a silver lining.”
“Ah,” Wei Wuxian says, because of course there is.
Lan Wangji is leaning over again, now. “Tie it back on.”
Wei Wuxian wonders if the beating of his heart is loud enough to hear. He presses his lips together, nipping the flesh of the bottom portion of his gum and reaching over to splay the white ribbon across the spanse of Lan Wangji’s forehead. It must be perfect, he thinks. Perfect. Absolutely perfect.
When the ribbon looks straight enough, he runs his fingers across to smooth it out and move to the backside. Lan Wangji helpfully holds it in place for him in the front, and Wei Wuxian climbs onto his knees and over his head so he can make sure he’s tying it in place properly.
His elbows rest by Lan Wangji’s ears as he carefully ties the knot. Once he’s finished, he retreats back to his original spot and takes a look at his handy work.
“Good?” Lan Wangji asks.
Wei Wuxian nods, giving him a thumbs-up. “Very good.”
There’s a knock on the door then, and the sudden sound startles Wei Wuxian. He jumps lightly, hating the way Lan Wangji doesn’t even flinch and just rakes his eyes over to the entrance.
“Come in,” he says as the door opens.
Lan Xichen is back, and Wei Wuxian watches as he takes in the way his younger brother and his younger brother’s betrothed are sitting together on the floor. His eyebrows quirk for a moment, before his expression melts into a smile.
“Wangji, Wei-gongzi,” he greets. “I am sorry to disturb you, but it is time for me to take Wei-gongzi away to get ready.” Ah, Wei Wuxian does in fact remember this particular precept from his skimming. The betrothed are to prepare for the ceremony separately.
Oh well. He doesn’t really mind.
With an affirmative nod, Wei Wuxian hoists himself into the air. He glances down to Lan Wangji, who is staring up at him already.
“See you later, Lan Zhan!” he says, throwing a cheeky smile over his shoulder as he quickly moves to follow Lan Xichen outside.
The next time he sees Lan Wangji, the two are clad in brilliant, sparkling red robes. Wei Wuxian’s are bright ruby with a patterned black edge, small lotuses drawn into the silk. Lan Wangji’s are deep crimson, gold and white swirls flickering in the sunlight. He stares across at Lan Wangji, who returns his gaze with a gentle one of his own, and the two begin to walk.
His heartbeat speeds up as they reach the ceremonial hall. Jiang Yanli is sitting near the front, and she sends him a comforting smile when he catches her eye. Yes, Wei Wuxian thinks, if Shijie can do this, I can do this.
A plush red cushion is brought out, a familiar band of white carefully laid out. He looks over to Lan Wangji, who is sending him an expectant look. Wei Wuxian gulps, and nods. He picks up the ribbon and threads it between his fingers.
Lan Wangji leans his head down when Wei Wuxian turns to him, closing his eyes. Wei Wuxian stands frozen for a long moment, before his hands begin to work on their own, wrapping the ribbon around Lan Wangji’s head and securing it tightly. He had taken the liberty of running through the section of the book pertaining to the ribbons earlier—mostly—and so he knows exactly what needs to be done next.
He reaches down, taking Lan Wangji’s hands into his own and tugging them. Lan Wangji seems to understand, bending down further so that Wei Wuxian can comfortably press his lips to the frontside of the ribbon, sealing the first section of their marriage.
He kneels down onto his knees, Lan Wangji right next to him, and the two complete their bows, making promises of lifelong partnership and intertwining their futures into one.
Lan Wangji glances over to him, and Wei Wuxian can feel his eyes on the side of his face. He closes his eyes and reaches for his hand, finding it within seconds and giving it a reassuring squeeze.
It’s okay, is what he’s saying, wordlessly. I’ll be with you from now on.
He thinks Lan Wangji hears him pretty loud and clear.
They arrive back at the Jingshi after the reception.
Wei Wuxian’s wedding robes feel heavy on his shoulders, and his feet are aching. Lan Wangji’s hand is gently placed on the small of his back as he leads them both inside, turning around to close the door behind them.
“I will prepare a bath for you,” he says as he walks further inside to join Wei Wuxian in the middle of the room.
Wei Wuxian shoots him an alarmed look. “Now? Lan Zhan, it’s okay.”
“You are tired,” says Lan Wangji. He comes up in front of him, tentatively reaching his hands up to brush against the fabric of his robes.
“You’re tired too,” says Wei Wuxian quietly.
Lan Wangji shakes his head. “I am okay,” he says. His fingers hook around the opening of the fabric on Wei Wuxian’s shoulders, and he carefully slips it into his hands. “May I help you?”
They’re older now—the realization hits Wei Wuxian quite suddenly, in that very moment. Gone is the Lan Wangji who sent him scathing looks during Lan Qiren’s lessons. Gone is the Wei Wuxian who snuck up on him and fed into Lan Wangji’s seething dislike. They haven’t properly seen each other in almost four years, their only solid communication through letters sent back and forth whenever they had the chance to reply.
But they’re here now, in the middle of the Jingshi, married.
They’re older now, yes, they’ve seen more of the world now, yes, but they’re still completely new to whatever this is.
So, with a quick intake of breath, Wei Wuxian nods. “Yes,” he says.
Lan Wangji’s carefully straps his fingers around the top layer, a flurry of red falling to the floor as he pulls it down. Wei Wuxian instantly feels lighter—the handiwork had been most heavy on the small golden lotuses threaded into the thick material. He stands a little straighter now, eyes fluttering shut as Lan Wangji peels off the second layer as well.
When he’s standing there in only his under robes, Wei Wuxian opens his eyes again. Lan Wangji is staring at him, his light orbs dancing in the dim lighting of the room. Wei Wuxian suddenly feels incredibly bare. He doesn’t know why—this is not new to him. He’s stood in front of Jiang Cheng wearing only his innermost clothes before, so why should this be any different?
Lan Wangji’s hands move to curl around his wrist, and he gently tugs him over and across the room, all the way to where the bathroom is. There’s a tub in the center, already filled with warm, bubbling water. It must be one of the servant’s doing on the request of one of the members of the Lan family, because Wei Wuxian is smart enough to realize that no one is really allowed in Lan Wangji’s room without a specific purpose. It was probably Lan Xichen.
“Wait,” Wei Wuxian says, turning on his heel to face Lan Wangji again. He sends a pointed look downward, gesturing to the clothing still on his—his husband’s— body.
Lan Wangji hums. “You first.”
“No,” Wei Wuxian shakes his head. He reaches out to clutch the thickest layer of Lan Wangji’s robes, pulling them off of him in one, smooth motion. When he sees Lan Wangji’s shoulders relaxing, he rolls his eyes. “See? That feels better, right?”
“Mn.” His voice is so warm.
And then they’re both in their under robes, staring anywhere else but back at each other. Wei Wuxian fidgets at the awkwardness, but also knows that it can’t be helped. He glances back to the tub and frowns.
“Lan Zhan,” he says, “you should bathe first.”
Lan Wangji simply shakes his head.
Wei Wuxian sighs. “Are you sure?”
“Mn,” says Lan Wangji. “I will bring you your night robes.”
“Okay,” Wei Wuxian says. Lan Wangji seems to hesitate for a second, then snaps out of it completely and trots outside. Wei Wuxian watches his figure retreat, before he turns back to the wooden tub and slips his final layer off. He places one foot over the edge, dipping it inside the water to test it and smiling when he feels the warmth flood through his entire body.
He takes time to thread his fingers through his long hair, washing each and every inch of his body. He’s tired, and he wants nothing more than to sink into bed and fall asleep, but he supposes there are some benefits of cleaning himself up from the hectic, sweaty day.
Lan Wangji arrives about twenty minutes later, carefully making sure to face away from the inside of the bathroom. He’s placing thin white robes onto the table by the entrance, and when Wei Wuxian sees this, he laughs.
“Lan Zhan,” he calls, “what’re you doing?”
Lan Wangji’s shoulders stiffen slightly. “Your nightwear.”
“It’s okay, you know,” Wei Wuxian says, an amused smile painting his features, “I’m pretty much covered. Safe for your untainted eyes.”
Lan Wangji seems to contemplate this. Then, he slowly turns. He’s still gripping one of the articles of clothing between his fingers, Wei Wuxian notices. When they make eye contact, Lan Wangji’s eyebrows furrow.
“Do you need help?” he asks.
Wei Wuxian smiles before he can help himself. “Ah, Lan Zhan, I wasn’t expecting you to be such a loyal and kind husband!”
Lan Wangji doesn’t say anything, simply turning around and reaching for the door handle.
Lan Wangji stills.
Wei Wuxian laughs nervously. “Could you… bring me my robes here?”
Lan Wangji reaches over for the clothes, folding them in his arms and carrying them over to where Wei Wuxian is still sitting in the tub. He also picks up the towel that’s loosely hanging off to the side, putting it on the very top of the pile. Wei Wuxian takes them gratefully, holding them above the water lest they get wet.
“Thanks, Lan Zhan!” he says, smiling cheerfully. “Just give me a second and I’ll be right out, okay?”
“Mn,” Lan Wangji nods, before disappearing out into the main area of the room.
Wei Wuxian dresses himself quickly, patting himself down and draining the water. He starts running a new, clean bath, letting the warm water simmer as he slips outside, towel around his neck.
Lan Wangji is sitting cross-legged in front of his guqin again, gently plucking strings with his eyes closed. Wei Wuxian pauses, stopping in his tracks and drinking in the sight of his husband entirely in his element. He’s still only in his under robes, the bare skin of his forearm barely visible from the angle Wei Wuxian is standing at. His headpiece is taken off, long strands of hair flowing loosely against his back. The forehead ribbon is still strapped against his temples.
Lan Wangji’s hands abruptly stop playing. He opens his eyes, looking over to Wei Wuxian. The latter jumps slightly from the attention, gulping back the bundle of nerves that suddenly make their way into his throat and releasing a long breath.
“I ran a bath for you,” he says, and Lan Wangji nods. He stands up, holding his right arm elegantly in front of his stomach and walking up to him.
He leans his head down again in front of Wei Wuxian. Wei Wuxian sharply inhales when the ribbon is pointed directly up at him, the bright white fabric almost glistening against the lighting.
He tentatively reaches out for Lan Wangji’s forehead for the third time that day, fingers automatically making their way to the back of his head and gently tugging at the end of the knot he had tied just a few hours earlier.
It comes loose in his hands, and he clutches onto it dearly. Lan Wangji makes a small humming sound in the back of his throat when Wei Wuxian tries to give it to him. He shakes his head, pushing his hand back to his chest.
Wei Wuxian blinks. “Lan Zhan?”
“Put it away for me,” Lan Wangji says quietly before walking right past him and disappearing into the bathroom.
Wei Wuxian, for one, has absolutely no idea where he’s supposed to keep the ribbon, and fiddles around for a moment before setting it carefully down onto the dresser. He looks around the Jingshi for a few minutes, trying to memorize each and every corner of the room. He supposes he’ll have plenty of time to get himself acquainted with all the furniture, but it doesn’t hurt to get a head start.
About thirty minutes later. Wei Wuxian picks up the night robes Lan Wangji had laid out for himself and pauses outside the closed bathroom door. With a determined huff, he knocks once, waits to hear a hum of confirmation, and pushes himself inside.
Lan Wangji is sitting in the tub facing the opposite direction. Wei Wuxian takes in the small amount of bare shoulder he can see, as the rest of his back is conveniently covered by his long, wet hair.
“Lan Zhan,” he says, “I have your robes for you.”
“Mn,” Lan Wangji says, not turning around.
Wei Wuxian doesn’t exactly know where to go with that, but he walks up behind the tub anyways. “Should I keep them somewhere for you? Do you want them now?”
“Now is fine,” says Lan Wangji. He brings his hands out of the water and holds them up for Wei Wuxian to place his clothes in. Wei Wuxian also has half a mind to grab two towels from the cupboard and drape them off of the edge of the tub, patting them twice as he makes his retreat.
“I’ll be outside,” he says.
“Mn. Thank you, Wei Ying.”
Wei Wuxian smiles brightly as he gently shuts the door behind him again, wandering over to the bed and sitting down on the mattress. It’s surprisingly comfortable, actually. He doesn’t know why he had been expecting anything else.
Lan Wangji returns a few moments later. He’s running a comb through his damp hair, and Wei Wuxian suddenly becomes increasingly aware of the messy tangles atop his own head. Lan Wangji glances over to him, lips parting as he seems to understand something. Wordlessly, he walks over to the bed, standing about three feet away from Wei Wuxian and holding the comb out.
Wei Wuxian stares at it, then back up to Lan Wangji. He has an idea, but doesn’t know if he has it in himself to ask.
Then, he realizes that they’re married now. There’s nothing he can’t ask his husband.
“Do you want to do it for me?”
Lan Wangji looks surprised, which is a first. After a beat, he nods, walking over to the side of the bed and taking a seat next to Wei Wuxian. Wei Wuxian wordlessly turns his waist so that his back is facing Lan Wangji, and a few moments later, he feels the gentle prickle of wood on his scalp.
Lan Wangji’s left hand is bunching together portions of Wei Wuxian’s hair, while his right is threading the comb through his long locks. He pokes at the tangles gently, his dainty fingers tugging on the grip he has around them to make sure they don’t hurt as much. Wei Wuxian doesn’t mind either way, but he can’t find the words in him to tell him.
“You did not get to properly say goodbye to your family,” Lan Wangji says from behind him. Wei Wuxian exhales slowly, thinking back to the end of the ceremony. Two Lan relatives had whisked him away to ask him a few questions, and by the time they were done, his siblings were already being rushed to their chambers.
“Hm,” he hums, “it’s okay. They’re not leaving till tomorrow morning. I can wake up early to see them off.”
“Mn,” Lan Wangji says. “Shall I wake you?”
“Yeah,” Wei Wuxian says. He tries to nod, then remembers Lan Wangji’s hands are still buried in his hair. “What time do you normally wake up? I was thinking maybe around eight for tomorrow?”
“I rise at five every morning,” says Lan Wangji.
Wei Wuxian pauses. “Five?” he repeats, blinking.
“It is a rule of the sect.”
Of course it is. “Am I supposed to wake up at five every morning now too?”
Lan Wangji doesn’t say anything as he finishes combing Wei Wuxian’s hair and sets the small wooden device aside. Then, “That would be most ideal.”
Wei Wuxian turns around so that he’s facing him again. Their knees are close enough to brush against each other from their new position, but for some reason, Wei Wuxian’s heart doesn’t even flinch. Staring straight into Lan Wangji’s eyes, he frowns.
“Are you gonna tell me there’s also some rule about bedtime, too?”
“Mn, there is,” says Lan Wangji.
Wei Wuxian grimaces. “What time?” he asks, not even knowing for himself if he wants to know the answer.
“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji says. “You studied the sect rules while here for school. Do you not remember?”
Did he? “Did I?”
Lan Wangji purses his lips. “Virtue and Conduct.”
Right. Virtue and Conduct. “Lan Zhan,” he says, sticking his bottom lip out in a pout, “It’s been so many years since then! And I already told you. Copying the rules is brutal. Plus, you kept distracting me!”
“That is only because Wei Ying spoke first,” Lan Wangji says calmly.
“Still,” Wei Wuxian says. And, anyways, if he does remember correctly… “It’s nine, right?”
Lan Wangji regards him for a moment, then hums his confirmation.
Wei Wuxian can’t help but slouch and fall backwards till he hits the mattress. It’s a bit of an awkward angle, but it only takes a few movements for him to maneuver himself so that he is properly laying with his head on the pillow. Lan Wangji is still seated on the edge of the bed, but now Wei Wuxian’s legs are behind him.
Wei Wuxian tilts his head down and sends him a look. He scooches over a bit till he’s on the inside portion of the mattress, then pats the empty spot next to him.
“Come to bed, my dear husband,” he drawls teasingly. He slips underneath the covers and holds the blanket open.
Lan Wangji stares at him, then moves his gaze to his spot. He presses his lips together and nods, carefully extracting himself from the corner and moving so that he’s laying down. Their arms barely brush against each other, and Wei Wuxian releases a content sigh.
Lan Wangji gets up for a moment to blow the torch out, and seconds later, the room is bathed in darkness. Wei Wuxian feels him shift next to him, resuming his earlier position. Ha, Wei Wuxian thinks briefly, he even sleeps with perfect posture. Of course he does.
Wei Wuxian, however, definitely does not, so he rolls onto his side and curls his legs up till his thighs are pressed flat against his chest. He’s facing Lan Wangji, who in turn is staring up at the ceiling.
“Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian whispers, “it’s definitely past nine right now. I think you’re going against the Lan sect rules.”
“There are some exceptions,” Lan Wangji says quietly.
“Yeah?” Wei Wuxian asks. “What kind of exceptions?”
“On the wedding night,” Lan Wangji says, voice barely above a whisper, “sect members are allowed to break curfew.”
“Why on the wedding ni—oh.” Wei Wuxian immediately shuts his mouth, eyes darting away from Lan Wangji’s cheek to stare somewhere off into space. “That’s stupid. If that’s the case, shouldn’t they be allowed to break curfew every night after their wedding?”
This actually makes Lan Wangji turn his head to look at him. Wei Wuxian can’t exactly make out his expression, but he has a pretty good idea of what it looks like.
He laughs, but it comes out just a little too breathy. “Sorry.”
Lan Wangji doesn’t respond, just goes back to looking somewhere above him.
Wei Wuxian curls his arms around his legs, pulling them closer against him. “Eh, Lan Zhan.”
“Do I have to wear a forehead ribbon too?”
He’s been thinking about it—after all, he’s now a member of the Lan sect. Through marriage, yes, but it still counts. He already knows he will have to start wearing the traditional white Gusu robes soon, so does the uniform also extend to his choice of headband?
“You may wear it around your wrist,” comes Lan Wangji’s reply.
Wei Wuxian twists his lips in thought. “Is that allowed? It’s called a forehead ribbon.”
“You are my husband,” Lan Wangji says, and Wei Wuxian’s heart jolts in the confines of his chest. “It is allowed.” Then, after a pause, “Unless, of course, you want to wear it around your forehead.”
Wei Wuxian considers this. “I don’t think I’d really mind either way.”
“You are not a part of the direct Lan bloodline,” Lan Wangji says, “nor are you a disciple. It does not matter where you wear your ribbon.”
Wei Wuxian takes a moment to think about it. His thoughts roam to Lan Wangji, then to his siblings, and then, ultimately, to Lan Qiren.
He cringes. “I don’t think your shufu would appreciate it if I wore it around my forehead just yet.”
Lan Wangji says, “Then you will wear it around your wrist.”
“Okay,” says Wei Wuxian, and it’s settled.
The quiet of the Jingshi is haunting, but it’s a soothing type of silence. Wei Wuxian breathes slowly as he closes his eyes, densely aware of Lan Wangji laying still beside him. His eyebrow twitches uncomfortably after a long few minutes, unable to find his way into the land of dreams.
He pops an eye open to see Lan Wangji’s face through the moonlight. His eyes are closed, and Wei Wuxian tilts his head forwards to get a better look at him. He eyes the slopes of his face and the creases by his nose, hating how absolutely perfect everything about him is. He really did luck out with this betrothal, didn’t he?
He shakes the thought out of his head. There’s no point.
His fingers are absolutely aching to reach out, to touch. This is too much for him. He’s not used to sleeping on the same bed as someone without at least making skin-to-skin contact. Back when he was younger, he’d often share a bed with his siblings on nights when one of them couldn’t sleep. They would snuggle together beneath the covers and drift off in each other’s arms. It was heaven.
This is definitely not heaven. Not even close.
No matter how much Wei Wuxian wants, there are certain things he knows Lan Wangji is unable to give him. No matter how good of a husband he is, there are still some desires that need to be tucked away.
Wei Wuxian pouts to himself. He’s never been one to complain about his engagement, and he and Lan Wangji are going to spend the rest of their lives together anyways, so he wonders if it may be okay to risk it.
What’s the worst that could happen, anyways?
Gulping back his nerves, Wei Wuxian slides his arm across the mattress and into Lan Wangji’s space. His hand hovers above the latter’s bicep for a moment, before carefully curling around it.
Lan Wangji’s eyes snap open in an instant. Wei Wuxian wills himself not to pull away.
“Wei Ying?” comes Lan Wangji’s hoarse voice through the night.
Wei Wuxian hums to show that he’s awake. “Lan Zhan,” he whispers, “is this okay?”
There’s silence, followed by a quiet “Mn.”
Oh, Wei Wuxian thinks, oh.
He doesn’t waste any more time—he wiggles his body over so that he can slide closer to Lan Wangji. One hand gripping around his bicep turns to two, till Wei Wuxian is completely hugging his husband’s arm without constraint.
He leans onto Lan Wangji’s shoulder, hooking his chin into the curve of his neck and smiling lightly to himself. He momentarily forgets that with his lips brushing against bare skin, Lan Wangji can feel it.
“Wei Ying is laughing?”
“Mm, no,” says Wei Wuxian. “I’m just… I don’t know. I didn’t think you’d allow me to do this.”
“You are my husband,” comes Lan Wangji’s reply.
“Yeah,” Wei Wuxian says, “but that doesn’t give you some kind of obligation to go with whatever I want. This is… this is our first night together. Everything you do today with me sets the course for everything I think I’m allowed to do later.”
“You are allowed to touch me,” says Lan Wangji.
Wei Wuxian hums against his skin. “Is that a Lan sect rule as well?”
“The spouse is allowed to touch,” Lan Wangji confirms. “My husband is allowed to touch me if he pleases.”
“But you should be willing, too.”
Wei Wuxian stares at him, but from how close they are, the only thing he can see is the light coloring of his left cheek.
“My my,” he says, teasing voice leaking through his speech, “I never took the mighty Hanguang-jun as a cuddler.”
Lan Wangji takes a breath through his nose, and Wei Wuxian can hear it. “Sleep, now.”
Wei Wuxian smiles, and wishes Lan Wangji could see him. “Okay. Goodnight, Lan Zhan.”
“Goodnight, Wei Ying.”
True to his word, Lan Wangji wakes him up at precisely eight the next morning.
They walk over to the guest rooms of the Cloud Recesses, Wei Wuxian’s eyes drooping with sleep. Lan Wangji is besides him, back straight and gaze firmly set ahead.
Wei Wuxian taps his shoulder to get his attention.
“So!” he starts. “What’s the plan for today, husband?”
“We will see off your relatives,” Lan Wangji says, “then we will go to get your ribbon.”
“My ribbon,” Wei Wuxian repeats slowly. “Right. My ribbon.”
“I will help you,” Lan Wangji says, turning to look at him.
The corners of Wei Wuxian’s mouth quirk up, and he nods. “Yes yes, I know you will. My lovely, lovely husband.”
Lan Wangji ignores this as he leads the two of them further through the estate. Wei Wuxian glances around, memories of his time studying here flooding back all at once. He smiles as he remembers fooling around with his friends and Lan Wangji.
He catches a flash of purple, and grins.
Jiang Cheng pops his head out from around a corner, his expression settling into surprise when he sees Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji walking over to him. Wei Wuxian grins wildly at him, and Lan Wangji, in contrast, does absolutely nothing of the sort.
When Jiang Cheng walks over to them, he bows low.
“Hanguang-jun,” he greets. Then, he turns to Wei Wuxian and scowls. “You idiot! Do you know how worried A-Jie was when you left with Zewu-jun last night? We went out to try and find you again later but had no idea where you were!”
Wei Wuxian pouts. “Ah, come on, Jiang Cheng, it was my wedding night!” He shoots him a sly wink, and Jiang Cheng grimaces. “Where’s Shijie?”
“Probably still asleep in her room,” says Jiang Cheng, and just as he does, one of the doors in the long hallway opens.
Jiang Yanli walks outside dressed in her day robes, and Wei Wuxian immediately perks up. She catches sight of him, her expression melting into a warm smile. She bows to Lan Wangji, who returns the gesture, before reaching out and tucking a strand of Wei Wuxian’s hair behind his ear.
“Shijie!” Wei Wuxian exclaims, leaning into the touch. He feels Lan Wangji shift beside him, and shoots him a curious glance. Lan Wangji is staring intently at Jiang Yanli’s hand on his face, eyebrows furrowed in concentrated thought. Wei Wuxian makes a face, but lets it slide.
“A-Xian,” Jiang Yanli says, “you didn’t let me congratulate you last night.” She takes a step back and gently takes a hold of Lan Wangji’s wrist with one hand and Wei Wuxian’s with the other. She brings them together and clasps her fingers around them. “Lan er-gongzi, please take care of our A-Xian from now on.”
Lan Wangji presses his lips together and nods firmly.
Jiang Cheng snorts from somewhere off to the side. Wei Wuxian shoots him a withering look.
When Jiang Yanli lets go of her hold on them, a new figure appears behind her. Wei Wuxian tries not to pretend to gag when he sees his sister’s annoying peacock of a husband, and Jin Zixuan returns the gesture by ignoring him completely.
“A-Li,” he says, coming up and placing a hand on her shoulder, “Mother and Father are waiting for us outside.” He looks over to Jiang Cheng, “Sect Leader Jiang and Madam Yu are there for you too.”
Jiang Cheng looks reluctant for a moment, then nods. “Alright.”
The five of them quietly walk outside. Jiang Cheng and Jin Zixuan lead the pack while Wei Wuxian walks a little behind them, holding Jiang Yanli’s hands. Lan Wangji is at his other side, expression perfectly blank and revealing nothing.
Jiang Yanli looks up at Wei Wuxian, then over to Lan Wangji. “A-Xian, will you be okay living here?”
Wei Wuxian grins down at her, and nods. “Gusu is way better than Lanling, Shijie.”
Jiang Cheng looks over his shoulder and sticks his tongue out at him. “Good luck with the three thousand and something rules.”
“Shut up, Jiang Cheng!”
Jiang Yanli laughs, shaking her head lightly. “Now now, I’m sure A-Xian will be able to adjust.”
“Of course I will!” Wei Wuxian nods quickly. “And, anyways, even if I don’t, I have Lan Zhan here to help me!” He grins over to Lan Wangji, tilting his head and winking. “Isn’t that right, Lan Zhan?”
“Mn,” says Lan Wangji.
Jiang Yanli seems pleased with this, while Jiang Cheng scowls. They make their way over to where the rest of the guests who had stayed the night are, Wei Wuxian immediately locating the Jiang sect and bowing to them. The farewell ceremony goes by fairly quickly, the only major setback being Jiang Yanli’s silent tears when Wei Wuxian gave her one final hug goodbye.
“Don’t cry, Shijie,” he says, wiping her tears softly, “I’ll be visiting Lanling to make sure that peacock is taking good care of you soon, okay?”
Jin Zixuan scoffs, but Wei Wuxian ignores him. Jiang Yanli nods, giving his hands one final squeeze before departing with the rest of the Jin sect. Jiang Cheng pats him on the back, chides him for a few minutes, then does the same, and soon it’s only Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji left standing there.
Wei Wuxian releases a breath he hadn’t known he’d been holding.
Lan Wangji looks over to him. “Wei Ying, are you okay?”
“Yeah,” Wei Wuxian says, gulping. “It’s just… it feels real now, I guess. With everyone gone. With Jiang Cheng leaving and me not going back to Yunmeng with him.”
“You may go back to Yunmeng,” Lan Wangji says. “If that is what you wish.”
Wei Wuxian laughs at this. “Don’t be silly.” He walks back over to where he’s standing and smiles up at him. “Okay! So, what’s next on the agenda?”
“Your ribbon,” says Lan Wangji.
Wei Wuxian nods. “Okay. Okay, let’s go.”
They go. Lan Wangji takes him to yet another building in the Cloud Recesses, and Wei Wuxian really has to take a moment to wonder how everything can be so serene and quiet here all the time. It’s nothing like Lotus Pier, where even though there is solitude, something or the other is always going on. Then again, that might just be because of Wei Wuxian’s presence.
They retrieve the white ribbon from the Gusu Lan family tailor, and when it’s presented to them on a pale ivory cushion, Wei Wuxian stares down at it with wide eyes. It looks so pristine, sitting there, waiting for him to wear it. His breath catches in his throat.
Lan Wangji thanks the tailor, taking the cushion into his grasp and being careful not to let his skin come in contact with the fabric. Wei Wuxian quirks an eyebrow at this, and Lan Wangji just shakes his head.
“The second part of the forehead ribbon ceremony,” he says, “must take place in our quarters.”
Wei Wuxian blanches at this. “The second part?”
“You really did not read the book.”
“I did!” Wei Wuxian says. “Just how sacred are these ribbons of yours?”
“Very sacred,” Lan Wangji says seriously. “Come. We must finish before noon.”
Of course they have to finish before noon. Wei Wuxian bites back his groan. They arrive back at the Jingshi a few minutes later, and Lan Wangji takes care to close the door firmly behind them and move them to the center of the room. He sets the cushion down on a table nearby and turns Wei Wuxian so that he’s standing directly in front of him.
Wei Wuxian stares back, not daring to make a sound.
Lan Wangji leans over to gently take the ribbon between his fingers, holding it with utmost care. He uses his free hand to pull Wei Wuxian’s wrist up to rest in the middle of their bodies.
Wei Wuxian blinks, then pulls his hand back.
Lan Wangji’s eyes widen. “Wei Ying?”
“Wait,” he says. He shakes his head. “I have a better idea.”
Lan Wangji nods, epitome of patience. Wei Wuxian kneels down onto his knees and turns around so that his back is facing him, reaching up to tug the bands out of his hair.
He hears Lan Wangji carefully exhale from behind him. “In your hair?”
Wei Wuxian nods. “Tie it up with the ribbon.”
Wei Wuxian feels Lan Wangji’s fingers in his hair, still just as soft as he remembers them from the previous night, and begins to thread through his long hair. Wei Wuxian relaxes his shoulders as Lan Wangji pieces together his locks, the ribbon tightening around him as he pulls it up.
“Done,” Lan Wangji says, voice quiet but certain.
Wei Wuxian twists his neck around so that he can see him. “Does it look good?” he asks.
“Looks perfect,” says Lan Wangji.
“Is this okay?” Wei Wuxian asks as he stands up onto his feet again.
“Yes,” Lan Wangji says.
“Do I look like a proper Gusu Lan husband?” Wei Wuxian cocks his head to the side and cheekily grins up at him, and Lan Wangji just shakes his head. Wei Wuxian pouts. “Huh? Really?”
“Wei Ying looks like Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji says simply. “Being my husband is not your entire personality.”
“Oh,” says Wei Wuxian. “Yes, well, yes. I suppose.”
“The white suits you,” Lan Wangji says. Wei Wuxian pauses, and suddenly really wants to know what the ribbon looks like in his hair. He’s always worn his signature red, but he supposes a change has been due for a while now. Besides, with his soon-to-be white robes, it would definitely look much more ideal.
“I sure hope it does,” Wei Wuxian says, because really, what is he supposed to say to something like that? Who knew Lan Wangji could be such a flatterer?
“I will get your robes tailored for you by the end of the week,” Lan Wangji says, “but do not feel obliged to wear them if you are not comfortable.”
“No no,” says Wei Wuxian, “I’ll wear them for sure. You’re having them made especially for me.”
“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji says, “you are still a member of the Jiang sect. That will never change, no matter which robes you choose to wear.”
Wei Wuxian smiles, because he can’t help himself. He takes a step closer to him, reaching his right hand out and placing it on Lan Wangji’s forearm. He gives it a reassuring squeeze. “Lan Zhan,” he says, the words drawling out of his mouth, “I know that. I also know that now I belong to Gusu.”
“Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian says, “I’m your husband. I know you’re not in love with me like that, and I know our marriage was a political one, but I’m still one hundred-percent yours from this moment forward.”
Lan Wangji looks like he wants to say something, but seems to decide against it. His mouth pinches shut, his eyes darting away from Wei Wuxian in favor of looking down at the floor. The air is warm in the Jingshi. The sunlight illuminates their every move.
“As am I,” Lan Wangji finally says after moments of silence.
Wei Wuxian blinks. “What?”
“As am I,” Lan Wangji repeats. “Yours. I am yours, as you are mine.”
And that—that shouldn’t affect Wei Wuxian in the way it does. Something strange unfurls in the depths of his throat, his chest tightening unbearably as he clenches his teeth together and nods once.
“Yeah,” he manages, squeezing his breath out in what he hopes sounds normal. “Yeah, Lan Zhan, yeah. I’ll take care of you.”
“I will take care of Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji says.
Wei Wuxian wonders, briefly, if this is how all arranged betrothals are supposed to go. Are they supposed to be acting a certain way towards each other? They definitely did not get along too well when they first met, all those years ago, but perhaps reality has caught up to them where they are right now. Perhaps this is how it was always meant to be.
Wei Wuxian has his first dinner with the rest of the Lan family that night, because apparently that is another Lan sect rule. Newlyweds must eat with the reigning family the first night after their wedding.
Lan Qiren takes his position at the head of the table. Lan Xichen sits to his left, while Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian sit side by side to his right. Lower ranking disciples come with their meals, and Wei Wuxian gets excited for absolutely no reason.
The food is bland. Very, very bland.
Wei Wuxian tries hard not to choke upon his first spoonful of soup, getting a sharp look from Lan Qiren in response. He offers him a sheepish smile, clearing his throat and digging in for another bite.
It takes everything in him to down the rest of the bowl.
Lan Wangji is quietly watching him from the side, and Wei Wuxian can only awkwardly laugh. The table is filled with absolutely no noise, because that is yet another Lan sect rule. Speech is forbidden while dining.
Wei Wuxian thinks he much preferred lunch time, when his meal was brought straight to the Jingshi and he was able to chat with Lan Wangji. (Or, well, at least Wei Wuxian chatted. Lan Wangji simply listened along.)
Still, it was nice to have someone listen to whatever nonsense that came out of his mouth. Back in Yunmeng, Jiang Cheng would never put up with his bullshit.
Lan Wangji had even asked the chefs to make a dish for their lunch that actually had flavor. Thinking back to it now, it was beyond thoughtful of him if this is what traditional Gusu cuisine is like.
“Have you two consummated your marriage yet?” Lan Qiren asks after the meal.
Wei Wuxian promptly chokes on air.
“Shufu,” Lan Wangji says sternly. Wei Wuxian shoots him an incredulous look.
“Wangji,” says Lan Qiren, “you know the rule.”
“Ah, Shufu,” Lan Xichen starts, “they wedded yesterday. They still have a month.”
One month? One month?
God, he really should have read that fucking book.
“Hmph,” Lan Qiren huffs, but doesn’t say anything more on the matter. Instead, he gathers himself together and walks out of the dining hall, off to wherever it is he’s needed next.
Lan Xichen turns to the two of them, offering an apologetic smile.
“I’m sorry about that, Wei-gongzi,” he says. “Shufu is very persistent when it comes to the rules of the sect.”
“R-right,” Wei Wuxian says, unable to stop himself from stuttering. Lan Xichen bows as he leaves, leaving him to watch after his figure while still the aftermath of his initial shock.
Lan Wangji turns to him abruptly, and Wei Wuxian barely notices the way the tips of his ears are tinged pink.
“Come,” he says quietly, and Wei Wuxian nods. The two of them leave the hall, heading back in the familiar direction of the Jingshi.
When they get inside, Wei Wuxian walks over to the cabinets and shrugs off his outer robe, rolling his shoulders back and tilting his head up. He closes his eyes, releasing a long breath. Finally, he can breathe. That dinner had been absolutely suffocating.
“Lan Zhan,” he says to the ceiling. He doesn’t know where Lan Wangji is in the room, but he’s sure he heard him. “What’s this about consummation?”
“Mm. You did not read the book,” says Lan Wangji.
“Yeah,” Wei Wuxian says quietly. “I didn’t.”
There’s a pause. Then, “Newlyweds must consummate their marriage sometime between the ceremony and one month after it.”
“Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian says, moving his head down so that he’s staring straight ahead and into the wall, “I’m sorry. I’m ruining your life, aren’t I?”
“Wei Ying.” Wei Wuxian feels an arm at his waist, but doesn’t turn to look back. “You are not ruining anything. Your situation does not differ from mine in the slightest.”
“I just barged in here,” Wei Wuxian says, “I don’t know the first thing about what it means to be a Lan. There are so many rules, so many expectations. I don’t… I never thought I’d care for them, you know? But I don’t want you to be responsible for my wrongdoings.”
“Wei Ying,” says Lan Wangji, and God, he really needs to stop saying Wei Wuxian’s name like that, “you were taken away from your home. Everyone here suddenly expects you to conform by their rules and change your way of thinking. It is unfair, and for that I apologize.”
“No,” says Wei Wuxian, immediately. This time, he does turn around, finding that he naturally lands in Lan Wangji’s current grasp around his midsection. “Lan Zhan, you have nothing to apologize for. None of this is your fault.”
“None of it is yours either,” Lan Wangji murmurs.
Wei Wuxian stares up at him. Lan Wangji’s gaze is pointedly held on his eyes, and Wei Wuxian can make out the golden flecks dancing amidst his orbs. It’s frightening, how much he feels at that moment.
“I just feel bad,” he says.
“Why?” asks Lan Wangji.
“I don’t know,” says Wei Wuxian. He doesn’t know what it is about Lan Wangji that makes it so easy to be so openly honest. “You’re being forced into things you shouldn’t be forced into.”
“You are being forced into the same things as I am,” says Lan Wangji.
“Yeah,” Wei Wuxian nods, “but it’s still making me feel bad.” He laughs. It’s not a very bright laugh. “God, we’ve only been married for a day and I’m already bringing the mood down like this. How are we supposed to consummate our marriage if I’m being so depressing?” This time, he does laugh, shaking his head softly.
“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji says. His fingers are tightening at his sides. “Would you like a hug?”
Wei Wuxian blinks. “What?”
“A hug,” Lan Wangji says again. “Would you like one?”
Lan Wangji’s arms rise away from him, and then are held out widely. Wei Wuxian stares up at him for a solid three seconds, before nodding slowly and taking a step closer. Lan Wangji does the same till they’re a breath apart, and then his arms are wrapping around Wei Wuxian’s waist and Wei Wuxian is curling his hands around Lan Wangji’s shoulders. He buries his face into his neck and tightens his grip, pulling himself into the taller man’s embrace with ease.
Lan Wangji is warm around him—incredibly, unbearably so. His hold is loose but firm at the same time, and Wei Wuxian feels himself crumble at the touch. He can feel Lan Wangji’s breath spanning across the bare skin of his neck as they stand in the corner of the Jingshi, pulled into a single gesture of comfort.
Wei Wuxian is the first to pull away, his forehead bumping against Lan Wangji’s temple in the process.
“Lan Zhan,” he whispers, loud enough to make sure he’s heard, “you really are much too good to me.”
“Mn,” Lan Wangji says. “Would you like to bathe first?”
“You should go first today,” Wei Wuxian says, and before he can be met with any protest, he continues. “I insist.”
“Mm, come here,” Wei Wuxian says, his arms coming around to the frontside of Lan Wangji’s face. The latter leans forwards, dipping his head down just the correct amount so that Wei Wuxian can reach for the knot of the forehead ribbon. He pulls it apart and lets it hang loosely from his fingers.
Lan Wangji is quick to return the gesture. Still leaned over, he tangles his hands into Wei Wuxian’s hair and finds the white ribbon, gently tugging it out of its hold and allowing Wei Wuxian’s long black strands to break free and pool out over his shoulders.
After they’re both cleaned up from the remnants of the day, Wei Wuxian finds himself in the bed— their bed, really—once again. Lan Wangji is roaming around the room, blowing out all of the torches and slowly enveloping the room in darkness. It’s just a little before nine now, and Wei Wuxian knows this means it’s time to sleep.
“You may stay up if you would like,” Lan Wangji says as he climbs in beside him.
“No,” says Wei Wuxian. “I’m tired. I’ll go to bed now with you.”
“Mn,” says Lan Wangji. Wei Wuxian can’t see him, but he’s almost positive he’s nodding.
The mattress shifts as they get comfortable, and just as the previous night, Wei Wuxian latches onto Lan Wangji’s arm and presses his entire body against him. He hums, hoping Lan Wangji will be just as lenient about it as before. He doesn’t want to make anything awkward between them, but he really doesn’t know how he’s going to survive the night if he doesn’t hold onto something— someone. His husband.
It startles Wei Wuxian, the sudden call out. He bristles, then relaxes.
Lan Wangji turns a bit, facing him more fully. Wei Wuxian doesn’t expect it, but Lan Wangji’s hand comes to rest on his own. “I have something to say.”
Wei Wuxian gulps. “Hm?”
“I know…” Lan Wangji trails off for a moment. “I know that you are not happy with this arrangement.”
“Lan Zhan, what—”
“But I want to try my best,” Lan Wangji continues, cleanly cutting through his words, “and I hope that one day you will be.”
They dissolve into silence. Wei Wuxian’s lips are parted as he tries to make sense of what Lan Wangji is saying, and, well, it really is funny, isn’t it? When they were younger, it was Wei Wuxian who teased Lan Wangji about how he was against their betrothal. Now that they are married, Lan Wangji is the one telling Wei Wuxian the same thing.
But he’s wrong.
“Lan Zhan,” says Wei Wuxian, “it’s not that. Trust me, it’s not that.” His fingers tighten around Lan Wangji’s arm, and he can’t help but lean over and rest his head against his shoulder. It’s broad, and just a little uncomfortable, but it gives him the reassurance that yes, Lan Wangji is there, and he’s listening to what he has to say.
“What is it, then?”
“I’m glad that I have you,” Wei Wuxian says, “and I’m glad that out of the people I had to be betrothed to, it was you.”
“But you do not want to be married.”
“I don’t mind being married,” Wei Wuxian says, surprising himself with just how honest his words truly are. “I really don’t, I promise.”
He sighs. “I have… never been able to express my own feelings about my betrothal to anyone, especially not my family. Jiang-shushu has always expected maturity from me, and Yu-furen has never expected anything from me. I’ve never wanted to disappoint them.”
“Mn. We are similar.”
Wei Wuxian releases a breath. “We are?”
“Mn. I also… do not want to disappoint my family,” Lan Wangji says, carefully. “I have told you that this was my mother’s arrangement. She set my wedding, but not my brother’s. She… I believe she knew how I was, as a child.”
“What does that mean?”
“It is hard,” Lan Wangji says quietly, “for me to feel comfortable around people. It is hard for me to open up to them. I prefer silence to noise. Most of the time. Not everyone appreciates that.”
“Do you…” Wei Wuxian pauses, contemplating his own words. “Do you mean to say she thought you wouldn’t find happiness in another person on your own?”
“I do not know what she was thinking,” Lan Wangji admits. “She… I was not able to end up asking her.”
Wei Wuxian falls quiet. Damn.
“You loved her a lot, huh?” he asks. His index finger begins absently drawing circles against the fabric of Lan Wangji’s robes. He leans in closer to him, inhaling gently.
“I did,” Lan Wangji says.
“Enough to honor her wish till the very end,” Wei Wuxian says.
“My…” Wei Wuxian sighs. “Yu-furen. She’s always told me that she’d marry me off, or something. That I shouldn’t look for love because I don’t have any future with it. I’ve never really been, I don’t know, welcome? In her eyes, at least.” He pauses. Then, “Jiang-shushu is the complete opposite. He even… sometimes I think he prefers me to his own son. To Jiang Cheng.”
“Is Jiang Wanyin okay with his favoritism?”
“Of course not,” Wei Wuxian says with a small laugh. “That’s why I… it’s good, this marriage. I mean, of course it’s good, but it also means that Jiang Cheng is the center of Jiang-shushu’s attention back in Yunmeng. He can focus his energy into training him for the sect leader position. He doesn’t have to keep… keep comparing us, you know?”
“Not your fault,” Lan Wangji says quietly.
“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji says firmly. “It is not your fault.”
It’s a cautious back and forth. Their conversation is a gentle lull at Wei Wuxian’s tongue, deep but not overwhelmingly so. It’s strangely relieving, to talk openly with someone else about his feelings. His feelings. Even more so when they’re being validated like this.
“Well, whatever,” he says, releasing a short breath. He feels it bounce back to his lips against Lan Wangji’s skin. “Lan er-gege, it’s time for you to sleep.”
Lan Wangji doesn’t respond for several moments, possibly taken aback by the sudden term of endearment. Wei Wuxian knows, however, that he doesn’t mind. Not really. He understands that by now, no matter how short of a time they’ve spent together, they’ve moved past that point.
Wei Wuxian closes his eyes, and breathes.
“A conference?” Wei Wuxian blinks.
Lan Wangji nods. “We are required to attend alongside my brother.” Then, as if sensing Wei Wuxian’s confusion, he continues. “We do not have to say anything at the meeting. Xiongzhang will handle everything.”
“Do we have to be there then?” Wei Wuxian asks.
Lan Wangji nods, and doesn’t elaborate.
Wei Wuxian sighs. “Well, alright. When is it?”
“Sect Leader He will be arriving from Tingshan soon,” says Lan Wangji. “Xiongzhang is already outside waiting to greet him.”
Wei Wuxian nods slowly, digesting the information. “Should we… go and wait for them somewhere? Or do you all in Gusu go as an entire party to greet guests?”
“We do not,” says Lan Wangji. “We will meet them in the conference room. Come.”
So, the two of them make their way to the Cloud Recesses conference room. It’s a large portion of the estate, decked up with minimalistic furniture that goes well with the aesthetic of every other building. Lan Wangji leads Wei Wuxian to two seats side by side, a little away from the head of the table. Wei Wuxian presumes that is where Lan Xichen and Sect Leader He will be sitting.
The two arrive moments later, and Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian both bow immediately upon the sight of them.
“Lan er-gongzi, Wei-gongzi,” He Su says, smiling politely.
“Sect Leader He,” they greet.
Lan Xichen takes his seat at the very end of the table with He Su sitting across from him. There are a few other guards around, but it seems to be tamer than the bigger conferences Wei Wuxian is usually used to sitting in.
The topic of conversation is fairly minor, too. It’s regarding something about a herd of lone cows grazing between the land at the intersection of their two sects, and Wei Wuxian can’t help but tune out after a few minutes. He glances to his side to see Lan Wangji listening intently, eyes fixed directly on He Su and drinking in his every word.
Wei Wuxian expects it to go by fairly quickly, but that is hardly the case. His back aches as what should be minutes later becomes hours. He rubs his eyes discreetly, making sure none of the more important individuals in the room catch him slacking.
Lan Xichen and He Su are still talking quietly, and frankly, Wei Wuxian is getting very bored. Lan Wangji’s posture is perfect as always, and Wei Wuxian silently marvels how he can remain so calm in the face of a potential nap time.
“Lan Zhan,” he whispers, just loud enough for Lan Wangji to hear.
Lan Wangji’s eyebrows narrow, but he doesn’t look over to him. “Quiet.”
Wei Wuxian pouts. “But Lan Zhan.”
“It will be over soon,” Lan Wangji whispers. “They are just finalizing the points of the meeting.”
Wei Wuxian just manages to stop himself from openly gaping at him. Seriously? He swears he thought Lan Wangji too hadn’t really been paying attention to the discussion after the first two hours. Clearly he is mistaken.
He huffs, settling back into his seat and twisting his lips impatiently. It takes another twenty minutes for Lan Xichen to finally stand up, the two sect leaders bowing low in farewell. Wei Wuxian only wonders why he had to be present in the first place, or, for that matter, why even Lan Wangji had to be there.
At last, after He Su is gone, Lan Xichen turns to his brother and his brother-in-law and offers them a sheepish, somewhat-apologetic smile.
Wei Wuxian groans. Lans.
“Thank you for joining the conference today, you two,” Lan Xichen says with a grateful tip of his head. “It will come in good use later on, if you ever need to step in for me.”
Lan Wangji nods, and bows. “Thank you, Xiongzhang.”
“Thank you, Zewu-jun,” says Wei Wuxian with a bow of his own.
Lan Xichen smiles, then walks away with every bit of elegance Wei Wuxian would expect from him. Once he’s gone, he turns back to Lan Wangji with a sly smirk.
“Lan Zhan,” he says. “Would you like to drink with me?”
Lan Wangji gives him a sharp look of disapproval. “Alcohol is—”
“—forbidden in the Cloud Recesses,” Wei Wuxian rattles off, rolling his eyes. “Yes yes, I know. But no one has to know if you don’t tell them! Come on, it can be our little secret. Aren’t you tired from the conference too?”
“It is dinner time,” Lan Wangji says, turning on his heel and making his way to the Jingshi.
Wei Wuxian quickly runs after him. “That’s okay! We’ll just eat in our room as always. And, after, we can celebrate the end of this day with a nice jar of Emperor’s Smile.”
“Alcohol is forbidden,” mutters Lan Wangji.
“I’m pretty sure not complying with your husband’s wishes is also against the rules,” Wei Wuxian says, drawing a blank. He still hasn’t read the stupid book yet, but when he sees Lan Wangji still, he breaks out into a cackle. “Oh, seriously? Is that actually a rule?”
Lan Wangji looks incredibly pained as he nods.
Wei Wuxian beams. “Great! So I’ll head out to the marketplace and grab us some wine. You get our dinner to the Jingshi. I’ll be back in about an hour, okay?”
“Nuh uh uh!” Wei Wuxian says, shaking his head. He holds his index finger out in front of him and shakes it in Lan Wangji’s face. “Remember the rules, Lan Zhan. The rules.”
“The rules clearly state that—”
“I’ll see you soon, Lan Zhan! Bye!”
He actually makes it back within the hour, thanks to his nimble feet and quick tongue. He snags a delicious discount on the alcohol, whistling under his breath as he hops past the guards. Really, they make it too easy to sneak in with stuff that’s apparently forbidden.
Lan Wangji is sitting in front of their table on the floor when Wei Wuxian slips inside. He closes the door behind him and skips over, taking his seat across from his husband and revealing the two jars of wine.
He giggles brightly, pouring himself a cup and downing it in one go. “Ah, that hits the spot!” he compliments, rubbing his belly in satisfaction. Lan Wangji keeps his eyes down, working slowly at his meal. Wei Wuxian grins, leaning over the table and flicking his glass into his eyesight. “You want some, Lan er-gege?”
“I do not,” says Lan Wangji.
Wei Wuxian makes a face at him. “Aw, come on!”
“Wei Ying, eat your food,” Lan Wangji says as he shoves some rice into Wei Wuxian’s plate. Wei Wuxian shrugs, then picks up his utensils and shoves the food into his mouth. He’s about to comment on the blandness of it all. but just as he parts his lips to complain, Lan Wangji is pushing a small bottle of red liquid across to him.
He blinks. “What’s this?”
“Chilli oil,” says Lan Wangji. “I got it for you from the kitchen.”
Wei Wuxian inhales, eyes widening as he looks up at his husband. Lan Wangji is staring back at him, expression almost… is that— nerves?
He smiles brightly, nodding and accepting the kind gesture at once.
“You really are much too good to me, Lan Zhan!” he says, popping the bottle open and spilling about half of it onto his rice. He brings another experimental bite to his mouth, swallowing with fervor. He grins. “That just made it a million times better. Thank you.”
“I am glad,” Lan Wangji says. “You do not seem to enjoy our regular meals with Shufu.”
“Your shufu is something else,” Wei Wuxian says seriously. “Always so insistent about me.” He chortles to himself. “I don’t think he was expecting his darling nephew’s husband to be like this.”
“Shufu will take some time to adjust,” Lan Wangji says simply. “But you are… not a bother, Wei Ying. You are just different from what Cloud Recesses is used to.”
“A good different, I hope,” Wei Wuxian snickers. He already knows the answer to that, of course. There’s no way he’s a good different.
“Of course,” says Lan Wangji.
Wei Wuxian pauses. He takes a moment of silence, then slowly shakes his head with a laugh. He picks up his cup again, pouring himself another cup of wine and bringing it to his lips. Lan Wangji is still staring at him, and Wei Wuxian is only acutely aware of his eyes on him as he swallows every last drop.
“You are something else, Lan Zhan,” he says, wiping the corners of his mouth. “Are you sure you don’t want a sip?”
“I am sure,” Lan Wangji says, going back to his dinner.
Oh well, perhaps today isn’t the day he gets to see Lan Wangji drink. He still has the rest of his life for that, doesn’t he?
There’s no way Lan Wangji can resist the sweet release of alcohol for that long.
Wei Wuxian goes back to his own cup, filling it up with more wine and pouring it into his mouth. When he finishes, he looks up to see Lan Wangji’s eyes trailed on his throat.
He blinks. “Lan Zhan?”
Lan Wangji stares at him a moment longer, before reaching out and wrapping his fingers around Wei Wuxian’s cup. He holds it out in front of him, eyes trailed ahead and not daring to meet Wei Wuxian.
Wei Wuxian softly gasps when he realizes what’s going on. Then, his lips melt back into a playful smirk. “So you do want some?”
Lan Wangji doesn’t answer, but Wei Wuxian knows to take it as affirmation. Slowly, he holds the clay jar up and allows the clear liquid to land at the bottom of the cup. Lan Wangji brings it to his lips immediately, placing his other hand on the bottom and tilting it into his mouth.
Wei Wuxian watches, shocked.
Then, approximately thirty seconds later, Lan Wangji’s forehead lands on the table in front of him.
“Lan Zhan?” Wei Wuxian asks, jumping up. He leans over, tapping his head a few times. “Lan Zhan? Are you okay? Did you just fall asleep? Lan Zhan?”
Wei Wuxian is startled, to say the least, and even more so confused. He pokes Lan Wangji’s cheek, gently using his fingers to tilt his husband’s chin up. Lan Wangji is, well, passed out cold. Wei Wuxian grimaces.
Is he supposed to call someone? No, he can’t. If he does that, people will know they had been drinking. He’d rather not have that particular conversation with Lan Xichen, or, honestly, with Lan Qiren too.
He sighs, slumping down back into his seat and leaning his head in his hands. He stares over at his husband for a long while, blowing hair out of his face every time his bangs hung in the way of his eyes. Honestly, if he knew this was going to be the result of Lan Wangji drinking, he’d never have offered him his wine.
He thinks back to their school days, briefly. He remembers once when he had gotten caught sneaking alcohol into his room—Lan Wangji had taken absolutely none of it and had confisticated it immediately. Wei Wuxian can’t help but smile at the memory, warm and persistent in the back of his mind. He wonders what would have happened if he had actually managed to convince him to drink, then.
The punishment would have been very severe, he assumes. Back then they weren’t married yet either, so it couldn’t have been under the pretense of that random rule Wei Wuxian had called out earlier.
When Lan Wangji wakes, Wei Wuxian is cleaning the rest of his plate, shovelling the rest of his dinner into his mouth. He blinks, surprised. He had been fully expecting Lan Wangji to be asleep for the rest of the night, and was preparing himself to shove him over to their bed after he was finished with his meal.
But no. Lan Wangji is very much awake, and he looks just as normal as ever.
Wei Wuxian rolls his eyes, because of course Lan Wangji wouldn’t get drunk. Of course.
However, this Lan Wangji seems a little… off. There’s something about the way he’s carrying himself. His eyes are just slightly glazed over, enough so that probably no one else would notice. Wei Wuxian is in close proximity with him now, though, so he can see the way the undersides of his eyelids are drooping.
He furrows his eyebrows. Lan Wangji still hasn’t said anything—Wei Wuxian would think that would be the first thing on his mind, to immediately scold him.
Lan Wangji abruptly turns his head to look straight at Wei Wuxian, whose eyes widen under the sudden attention. Then, he gets up, feet swaying slightly.
Oh, Wei Wuxian thinks, oh, he really is drunk.
“Lan Zhan!” Wei Wuxian says quickly, springing up and hopping over to the other side of the table. He grabs onto Lan Wangji’s shoulders to steady him, frowning deeply. “Lan Zhan, are you drunk? Oh my God—you’re drunk! I got you drunk? But you just had one measly cup!”
Lan Wangji doesn’t say anything, just looks slightly dazed.
Wei Wuxian groans, then tugs on his hand to guide him over to their bed. This is not something he wants to be dealing with right now.
“Come on,” he says gently, walking over to the other side of the room. “I think it’s time for Lan Zhan and Wei Ying to get some sleep, hm?”
“Not sleepy,” says Lan Wangji.
Wei Wuxian cocks an eyebrow. “It’s almost bedtime, Lan Zhan.”
“Not nine,” says Lan Wangji.
“Okay,” Wei Wuxian says. “Then we can at least lay down, right?”
Lan Wangji shakes his head.
Wei Wuxian stares at him. “What? Why not?”
“Bath,” Lan Wangji whispers.
“Okay,” Wei Wuxian nods. He reaches down to clasp their fingers together. “Alright. Come with me. Your darling husband will help you bathe, okay?”
Lan Wangji seems pleased with this, and Wei Wuxian almost wants to snort. He drags him into the bathroom, gently shutting the door behind him. Lan Wangji complies fully as Wei Wuxian walks over to the edge of the tub, starting the bath. He turns back around to see Lan Wangji staring intently at him, his arms raised out to his sides
Wei Wuxian releases a soft laugh. “You can’t undress by yourself?”
“Wei Ying can do it,” Lan Wangji says.
“Okay,” Wei Wuxian nods. “I suppose Wei Ying can do it.”
First, he takes off the forehead ribbon, setting it aside with care. He then slowly takes off the first few layers of Lan Wangji’s robes, smiling at the way his husband does not resist. He doesn’t know if this is because of the alcohol or not, but something tells him Lan Wangji wouldn’t mind either way.
He hesitates when he reaches the final layer, and honestly, who wears these many robes in the first place? He looks up to quirk his eyebrows at Lan Wangji, who closes his eyes and nods.
So, Wei Wuxian peels away the under robes, being careful with where his gaze falls. Lan Wangji shivers as his bare skin makes contact with the cold air of the bathroom, and Wei Wuxian takes his hand and gently leads him over to the tub. He guides Lan Wangji’s legs inside till he’s fully submerged in the hot water. He takes a seat behind him, pulling up on a wooden stool.
Ah, the perks of marriage.
Wei Wuxian chuckles to himself as Lan Wangji splashes the water around. His eyebrows are pinched together in concentration as his fingers draw the water around him, swirling it out in front of his chest.
Wei Wuxian reaches for the soap, taking some into his hands and rubbing his palms together. He lulls Lan Wangji to stay still as he begins to run his fingers through his long hair, effectively washing it. He dips his hands into the water by Lan Wangji’s sides, then moves up so they can rest on his shoulders.
“Oh, man, Lan Zhan,” he says as he digs his fingers into his bare skin, “you have so many knots in your back. Heh, this must be from all that perfect straightness of your posture.”
Lan Wangji doesn’t answer, just continues to play around with the water.
Wei Wuxian begins to massage his back slowly, kneading his hands into Lan Wangji’s muscles and trying his hardest to feel for any underlying tension. From the soft noises Lan Wangji is making from in front of him, he knows he’s hitting the right spots. The thought sends a thrill down his spine.
“There,” he whispers, “does that feel good?”
“Mn,” says Lan Wangji, his head tilting upward as he leans against the edge of the tub, “Wei Ying’s hands feel good.”
“Do they?” Wei Wuxian chuckles. “I’m glad.”
Lan Wangji doesn’t seem very interested in talking more with him, and Wei Wuxian doesn’t exactly mind the silence. He’s grown to enjoy it, honestly, and his thoughts are too preoccupied with his current task at hand. Literally, at hand.
They stay like that for a while, up till Wei Wuxian can feel the water starting to cool. With a smile, he gently tugs Lan Wangji’s hair to get his attention. After a minute longer of slow back and forth, Wei Wuxian helps his husband out of the tub and goes out to fetch his night robes. He brings them back and drapes them over Lan Wangji’s shoulders after he’s finished wiping him down, tying them into place firmly.
“You okay?” Wei Wuxian asks.
Lan Wangji’s eyes are closed as Wei Wuxian brings a comb up to his hair. “Careful,” he murmurs. There are tangles in the ends of his dark locks, and Wei Wuxian handles them with care as he begins to unravel them.
“I always am,” he says, only slightly teasing.
“Mn,” Lan Wangji nods. His eyes are still closed—Wei Wuxian thinks he could kiss him right now.
The thought should be horrifying. It really, really should, but for some reason, it isn’t. It seems natural. They’re married. They’re married.
Wei Wuxian leads the two of them out of the bathroom and to their bed. Lan Wangji tries to get up, but Wei Wuxian firmly holds him down. He brings him into his chest, his fingers gently threading through his hair as he pats his back. Lan Wangji doesn’t resist the touch, and Wei Wuxian finds that fact absolutely marvelling.
They fall asleep like that, against each other as always. It’s comforting. Wei Wuxian thinks it’s a new constant for him.
He knows it is. He knows he’s right.
Exactly one week later, Wei Wuxian finds himself trailing his fingertip across the spanse of Lan Wangji’s collarbone.
The Jingshi is warm; a single light talisman illuminates the room dimly from a corner. Wei Wuxian’s hair is damp from standing out in the rain for too long, the soft pounding of thunder rapping against the rooftop.
Lan Wangji is beside him on their bed, his arm swung low and behind Wei Wuxian. His eyes are pointed directly back into his own, barely visible beneath his half-lidded eyes. It’s barely eight—they’d finished their meals a while ago and had opted against going for their respective baths. Lan Wangji was tired, and Wei Wuxian could tell.
Lan Wangji raises the hand that’s curled around Wei Wuxian’s waist, brushing at Wei Wuxian’s long hair on his back before sliding further up. His fingers find the end of the white ribbon, and he gently tugs on it.
Wei Wuxian presses himself closer, placing his ear to Lan Wangji’s chest and humming softly.
“Wei Ying,” comes Lan Wangji’s voice, croaked and rough. “May I?”
Wei Wuxian laughs. It’s soft, his face lighting up upon his own gesture of confirmation. “Lan Zhan, when have you ever asked?”
He knows, however, that this time is different. Lan Wangji pulls the ribbon undone, letting it fall onto the mattress. Wei Wuxian tilts his head upward so that he’s facing Lan Wangji fully, eyes flitting up to his own white forehead ribbon. He reaches for it, tentatively at first, then smooths his fingers across the cloth.
It’s his turn. “Lan Zhan,” he whispers, “may I?”
“Mn,” Lan Wangji says, and Wei Wuxian gently moves so that he’s in position to untie it, tossing it to the side and completely off of the bed. He looks back at him, smile tugging at the corners of his mouth, and Lan Wangji’s features soften in response.
He scooches up so that he can comfortably rest his head in the crook of Lan Wangji’s neck if he so pleases. He bends down, his face becoming all too warm as he nestles against him, lips grazing his skin.
Lan Wangji doesn’t move. Wei Wuxian doesn’t, either.
“Lan Zhan, I—”
“Wei Ying,” whispers Lan Wangji. His tone is different, this time. Different in a way Wei Wuxian has never heard it before.
Still, he knows what it means.
With peppering hesitancy, Wei Wuxian flutters his eyes shut and leans in just a tad further, his lips making contact with Lan Wangji’s neck. He hears Lan Wangji breathe deeply from his side, his fingers digging into Wei Wuxian’s middle to pull him in even closer.
Wei Wuxian’s hand finds its way across Lan Wangji’s chest, resting on his shoulder and squeezing lightly. He sucks his mouth against Lan Wangji’s neck, and Lan Wangji’s free hand comes shakily up to his forearm.
And then, all of a sudden, Lan Wangji is yanking his head away from him and hoisting himself up onto his elbow. Wei Wuxian blinks back his surprise when he sees him looming overhead, his eyes dark and sharp as they look upon his figure.
With his arms free, Wei Wuxian reaches up, wrapping them around Lan Wangji’s neck and intertwining his fingers at the back.
He smiles up at him, light dancing across his features. “Will you kiss me, husband?”
Lan Wangji’s breath hitches, yet another sound Wei Wuxian has never heard from him before. And then he’s leaning down, nose inches away from his own and mouth slotting against his lips, digging into his skin and pressing him into the mattress.
It’s soft, languid, and Wei Wuxian’s lips are pliant against his. Utterly helpless, he thinks, stupidly content to do whatever he’s led into.
Lan Wangji’s hands are on either side of Wei Wuxian’s face, but only till Wei Wuxian pulls him down all the way, their chests crashing together. Lan Wangji’s hands slink around Wei Wuxian’s head, threading into his hair and crushing into his scalp. Wei Wuxian can’t help the gasp that escapes his lips, giving him a second’s respite before his mouth is being claimed again, gentle but hard, slow but hurried.
They kiss deeply—it’s nothing like anything Wei Wuxian has ever experienced before. He melts into Lan Wangji’s touch completely, but can’t even bring himself to care. He breathes in sharply, a high whine burning at the back of his throat when Lan Wangji’s teeth sink into his bottom lip and suddenly—suddenly the warmth of the room has shifted.
Lan Wangji breaks away from him for air, and Wei Wuxian has half a mind not to make a displeased grunt. He does, anyways, and hopes his husband doesn’t think too much of it. Lan Wangji is leaning upward, pressing a kiss into his hair, and Wei Wuxian shudders.
There are hands on his biceps, running down the fabric of his robes. Lan Wangji is battering small kisses against his forehead, creating a band across his temples. His lips are wet against his skin, swollen and kiss-bitten. Wei Wuxian preens under the touch, the heated presence above his face, the hand coming to rest at the base of his throat.
“Lan Zhan,” he murmurs, voice coming out in nothing more than a breathy whisper. Lan Wangji’s grip on him tightens as he pulls away, leaning back over for his head to land back on its side, back on the pillow they’re now close enough to share.
“Wei Ying,” he says. He’s trailing his fingers across Wei Wuxian’s cheek, as if memorizing every curve of his features and ingraining them into his brain. “Wei Ying.”
Lan Wangji says quietly, “Is Wei Ying okay?”
“I’m okay.” His voice sounds almost broken. “I’m, like, more than okay right now, actually. Very okay.”
“Do not joke.”
Wei Wuxian huffs, “I’m not.”
“Mn. Are you comfortable?”
“Yeah,” says Wei Wuxian.
“Wei Ying,” says Lan Wangji, “are you sure?”
“Lan Zhan, stop saying my name,” Wei Wuxian mutters. He turns so that he’s fully on his side. “If you keep that up I’m gonna do something stupid.”
“Stupid?” Lan Wangji repeats.
“Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian whines.
Lan Wangji breathes softly, breath fanning against Wei Wuxian’s face. “We do not have to do anything you are not ready for.”
But Wei Wuxian—he’s already so far under, he doesn’t know how much more of this he can take. Lan Wangji is still looking at him, determined and focused. No one has ever looked at Wei Wuxian like this. No one has ever kept him alone in their sight for so long. It’s making Wei Wuxian’s insides crumble under the attention— brutal, he thinks, Lan Zhan, you are so brutal.
“Are you okay with this?” Wei Wuxian asks, looping his arms over Lan Wangji’s shoulders and pulling himself against his chest.
Lan Wangji raises his hands to Wei Wuxian’s back and strokes down. Wei Wuxian shivers under the touch, curling deeper into his husband’s warmth.
“I am okay with anything,” says Lan Wangji, finally.
“Okay,” Wei Wuxian says, tilting his chin up till their mouths are millimeters apart, “okay.”
They meet in the middle this time, and the rest of Wei Wuxian’s thoughts become a blur.
Wei Wuxian stares across the room to where Lan Wangji is standing, a pile of thick white cloth neatly folded in his arms. He smiles tentatively, then walks over to him.
Lan Wangji slowly sets the clothes onto the table besides them, taking the first one up and unfolding it out. Wei Wuxian’s breath hitches as he sees the first layer of his new robes, pristine and beautiful and his.
“I hope they fit,” murmurs Lan Wangji as he holds the robe out in front of Wei Wuxian’s chest.
“They will,” says Wei Wuxian. “They’re tailored specifically for me.”
“Mn,” nods Lan Wangji. He reaches over and clasps his fingers gently around Wei Wuxian’s black robes, tugging at the fabric and sending him a pointed look.
Wei Wuxian nods. “Go ahead.”
It’s a stark difference to the time he had undressed Lan Wangji. Lan Wangji’s hands are nimble over his form, breezy and soft and careful. Wei Wuxian’s robes slowly fall to the floor of the Jingshi, one layer at a time, and he shivers upon coming into contact with the cold.
When it’s only the thinnest layer left, Lan Wangji holds out the Gusu robes to cover his body. Wei Wuxian laughs, rolling his eyes.
“Lan Zhan,” he chides with a teasing lilt to his voice, “it’s nothing you haven’t seen before.”
Lan Wangji’s ears turn pink at his words, the calm, mellow shade of rose a stark contrast to the melanin of his skin. He looks away for a moment, which makes Wei Wuxian release another low laugh.
“My Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian says, “so embarrassed.”
“I am not,” Lan Wangji says firmly. Then, as if to prove his point, he yanks the final layer of Wei Wuxian’s under robe off completely, leaving him standing stark naked with wide eyes.
Wei Wuxian stares up at his husband, surprise etched into his features. Lan Wangji stares back at him, his left eyebrow raising delicately. Wei Wuxian almost bursts out laughing—he’s never seen that expression on Lan Wangji’s face before. It’s full of amusement, sarcasm.
Who knew his lovely husband had such a sense of humor?
Lan Wangji continues, walking over behind Wei Wuxian and draping the first layer of the Gusu Lan robes over his shoulders. Wei Wuxian stands there, incredibly still, and lets Lan Wangji do all the work for him.
Not that he minds, of course.
As Lan Wangji continues to tie on the thick fabric, Wei Wuxian continues to stare fondly at his face. If Lan Wangji notices, he doesn’t say anything, and Wei Wuxian is silently grateful for that. He’s shameless on the best and the worst of days, but somehow, this feels much more intimate.
Lan Wangji is so, so good. He’s so good. It absolutely blows Wei Wuxian’s mind. He never expected their betrothal to turn out this way, but no one will ever catch him complaining. Not in a million years. Not in an infinite number of years. Wei Wuxian smiles with all the softness in his poor, poor heart as he stares unabashedly at his husband.
Lan Wangji’s eyebrows are downturned, fixed in quiet concentration as he fixes every corner of the robes, making sure they’re absolutely perfect. He takes Wei Wuxian’s hand in his, walking around in a circle and leading him to do the same as he fusses over every small little detail.
“Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian says as Lan Wangji is in the middle of readjusting the third layer for the fourth time, “it’s okay. It looks fine.”
Lan Wangji frowns. “It must be perfect.”
“It already is if I’m the one wearing it,” Wei Wuxian shoots back immediately.
Lan Wangji deadpans him a look. Wei Wuxian cackles.
Then, Lan Wangji releases a breath through his lips. “It is,” he agrees, and Wei Wuxian freezes. Lan Wangji’s lips are quirking up in—is that a smile? Wei Wuxian presses his lips together to stop his own cheeks from bursting with the sudden rush of fondness that courses through him in that moment. He looks at him, and Lan Wangji looks right back.
“You’re right,” he says with a firm nod. “Good! I’m glad we agree on the fact that I’m perfect.”
“Wei Ying is perfect,” says Lan Wangji, like it’s the easiest, most obvious fact of the world.
Wei Wuxian adores him. He does. He really does.
He leans over to plant a soft kiss to his lips, jerking back immediately after approximately three seconds. He looks up and eyes Lan Wangji’s face carefully, drinking in his surprised expression, his parted mouth, his red ears.
And then, Lan Wangji is capturing his mouth again, drinking him in for a longer, firmer kiss. Wei Wuxian does nothing to resist the advance, allowing Lan Wangji to take hold of his back and dip him down. Wei Wuxian laughs against his husband’s lips as he raises his leg into the air and curls his fingers around Lan Wangji’s neck.
They stand there—Lan Wangji licks into Wei Wuxian’s mouth, biting down, fresh and hot, till Wei Wuxian is gasping underneath him and pulling himself up, closer, closer.
It’s not enough—he knows it’s not enough. He knows Lan Wangji knows it’s not enough. They press together, Lan Wangji’s hands warm and calloused on his back, and Wei Wuxian briefly considers losing all of his husband’s hard work and letting his robes come off of him again. He knows Lan Wangji won’t mind, he’s beginning to learn the true extent of his eagerness.
Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji scramble apart, staring across at each other. His husband looks incredibly worked up, Wei Wuxian thinks, and he wants nothing more than to take him in for another kiss, but Lan Wangji’s eyes are darting away from him already. He’s looking over his shoulder, most definitely at the entrance of the Jingshi, where his brother is most definitely standing.
Wei Wuxian bites back his groan as he turns around, and sure enough, Lan Xichen’s back is facing them, his arm up to cover his eyes.
He hears Lan Wangji audibly exhale from behind him.
“Xiongzhang,” he greets.
Lan Xichen awkwardly turns around again, and Wei Wuxian hates how he can see his brother-in-law’s smile just begging to escape. Wei Wuxian thinks he might as well just go for it. After all, who is he really trying to fool here?
“Wangji,” Lan Xichen says with a nod. “Wei-gongzi. I am sorry, I seemed to have… interrupted.” He shakes his head. “I should have knocked, and for that I apologize.”
“Zewu-jun,” Wei Wuxian says, offering him a bow. “Ah… don’t worry about it.”
“Xiongzhang,” Lan Wangji says, and, wow, does he sound annoyed? Wei Wuxian’s eyes flicker back to him, and he tries not to revel in how Lan Wangji’s eyebrows are downturned in a clearly displeased fashion. “Is there something you need?”
Wei Wuxian tries not to snicker. Lan Xichen seems to notice it, too.
“Mm,” Lan Xichen says, “Shufu is looking for you. Though, I do not think he’d mind if I tell him you two are… preoccupied.” He sends a meaningful look their way. “You know how he’s been lately.”
Ah, yes. Lan Qiren has been incredibly insistent about the whole… consummation thing as of late. God, stupid Lans and their stupid rules. At least Wei Wuxian doesn’t have to particularly worry about that anymore.
“No need,” Lan Wangji says simply before gathering himself together and walking straight for Wei Wuxian. Lan Xichen sharply inhales at the implication, but says nothing. Lan Wangji quickly gives Wei Wuxian a once over, fixing the outermost layer of his robes and nodding to himself.
“Do they look acceptable, Lan Zhan?” Wei Wuxian asks, eyes twinkling.
“Mn,” Lan Wangji nods. “Perfect.”
Wei Ying is perfect, he had said. The words throb in the back of Wei Wuxian’s mind. Wei Ying is perfect.
“Let us go,” Lan Wangji says, grabbing Wei Wuxian’s wrist and leading him to where Lan Xichen is still standing.
“Right,” Lan Xichen says, shaking his head. Wei Wuxian doesn’t exactly blame him. Lan Wangji really, truly is brutal. “Right, right. Let’s go.”
So they go. When it comes time for it, Lan Qiren looks upon Wei Wuxian’s new Gusu robes, and, for the first time in his life, gives Wei Wuxian a nod of approval. It’s rather disgruntled, and looks just a tad bit too forced, but it’s unmistakably, undeniably there.
Lan Wangji squeezes their fingers together, and Wei Wuxian’s heart soars.
One month into their marriage, Jiang Cheng pays a visit to Gusu.
Wei Wuxian bounds outside to the front gates to greet him, Lan Wangji calmly at his tail. Jiang Cheng is impatiently tapping his foot to the ground, arms crossed and resident scowl evident on his features.
Wei Wuxian laughs happily when he sees him, leaping into his arms and enveloping his brother in a hug.
“Get off of me,” Jiang Cheng says immediately, pushing him away. Wei Wuxian practically beams.
“Now now, Jiang Cheng,” he chides, “I haven’t seen you in a while! Is this really how you greet your gege after reuniting with him after so long?”
“It’s barely been a month, Wei Wuxian,” Jiang Cheng says. He looks over his shoulder to see Lan Wangji calmly looking over the scene, sighing and dipping into a low bow. Lan Wangji returns it, because Wei Wuxian’s husband is nothing but polite and well-mannered. “Hanguang-jun,” says Jiang Cheng.
“Jiang-gongzi,” says Lan Wangji.
Wei Wuxian grins, mocking a bow as well. “Jiang-gongzi,” he teases.
“Shut the fuck up,” says Jiang Cheng without missing a beat.
“So vulgar!” exclaims Wei Wuxian. Then, he gestures to the front gate. “Come, come! We’ve made room for our esteemed guest.”
“As you should,” Jiang Cheng mutters, but follows behind him nevertheless.
Lan Wangji is at Wei Wuxian’s side, their shoulders bumping together as they walk into the Cloud Recesses. Lan Wangji is giving him a strange look, and Wei Wuxian returns it with a large grin of his own.
They go inside to the main building, and the three of them take a seat. Lan Wangji asks one of the disciples on duty to bring them some tea, the small man nodding quickly and disappearing out of the room. Wei Wuxian turns back to his little brother, leaning over the table they’re sat at with sparkling eyes.
“So,” he says, “what brings you here so randomly? I must say, when Lan Zhan and I got the notice yesterday that you were coming, I was quite shocked.” He grins. “Don’t tell me, did you miss me, little brother?”
“You wish I missed you,” Jiang Cheng snorts. “Lotus Pier has been heaven since you left. I can finally get some peace and quiet.”
Wei Wuxian shrugs. “It’s okay. It’s been, like, barely a month. The feeling of loneliness will catch up to you eventually.”
“Sure,” Jiang Cheng says. The tea arrives, and they all take it with gist. Jiang Cheng takes a long sip, then sets his cup down and looks up to Wei Wuxian. “A-Jie is expecting.”
Wei Wuxian’s jaw drops. “What?”
“A-Jie is expecting,” Jiang Cheng repeats, rolling his eyes. “She sent a letter out yesterday to inform you, but I was on my way here to speak with Zewu-jun anyways.” He side-glances Lan Wangji. “Where is he, anyways?”
“Xiongzhang went to Lanling for business,” Lan Wangji says. “He will be returning within the hour.”
“Right. Okay,” Jiang Cheng nods.
“Shijie?” Wei Wuxian blinks, still on the first thing Jiang Cheng had said. “Shijie is having a little mini Shijie?” He claps his hands, grin widening across his face. “Mini Shijie is going to be the kindest, sweetest little baby ever!” He turns to Lan Wangji. “Lan Zhan! We should have a kid, too!”
Jiang Cheng chokes on his tea. Lan Wangji nods.
“I will look into it,” he says.
“What— okay, nevermind. I do not want to know,” Jiang Cheng says, raising his hand and shaking his head.
“Wait,” says Wei Wuxian, “why isn’t Shijie here with you, then?”
“She’s pregnant, dipshit,” Jiang Cheng says. “The second her husband found out, he wouldn’t let her leave her room.”
“What?” exclaims Wei Wuxian. “That little—how dare that stupid peacock imprison my Shijie!”
Lan Wangji places a hand on his forearm, and Wei Wuxian instantly feels all the anger leave his body. He slumps back in his seat and pouts.
Jiang Cheng eyes them warily. “Yeah, whatever. You can go to Lanling if you want to see her. It might take me a while to get her over here.”
Wei Wuxian nods. He’ll have to talk to Lan Wangji about planning a trip to the Lanling Jin sect soon. He knows Lan Wangji won’t mind—Wei Wuxian has found that his husband has quite a hard time refusing him, rules be damned.
Lan Wangji raises himself to his feet, and Wei Wuxian frowns at the sudden lack of warmth at his side. He gives him a questioning look, and Lan Wangji just shakes his head.
“I will let the two of you speak privately,” he says, bowing once before turning and leaving the room. Wei Wuxian frowns, but understands. He’s sure Lan Wangji feels the need to let him and Jiang Cheng talk alone. And, anyways, Wei Wuxian will tell Lan Wangji if anything important pops up in their conversation later.
When he’s gone, Jiang Cheng immediately lands his fist onto the table. Wei Wuxian jumps, eyebrows furrowing.
“You,” Jiang Cheng spits out. “You’re fucking in love with him, aren’t you.”
It’s not a question. Or, at least, it isn’t phrased like one. Wei Wuxian can’t help but shiver as he stares back at his brother.
“What?” he asks, blinking slowly. “What are you talking about?”
“Oh my fucking—you’re in love with him,” Jiang Cheng says again. “Aren’t you. God. I never thought I’d see the fucking day. My stupid brother is married and in love. Disgusting. You’re even obnoxiously wearing that ribbon in your hair. I can’t believe this shit.”
“Hey!” exclaims Wei Wuxian. “I’m not stupid. I’m the farthest from.” Then, “And, well, yeah. Of course I’m in love with him. He’s my husband!”
“Sure,” Jiang Cheng rolls his eyes. “You probably haven’t even consummated the marriage yet, judging by how fucking dense you are. Isn’t that a—”
“We have,” Wei Wuxian says.
Jiang Cheng freezes. “What?”
“It’s a rule,” Wei Wuxian says matter-of-factly. “Newlyweds must consummate their marriage within one month of being married.” He grins slyly. “It was about, let’s see, maybe two weeks ago? I was—”
“God— no. Shut up. No. I do not want to know,” Jiang Cheng cuts in immediately, holding up his hand. “And of course I know about the fucking rules! We studied the damn things at school, remember?”
Wei Wuxian blinks, then blinks again. “I can’t believe you about the stupid rule and I didn’t. I’m even the one who married into this sect!”
“Stop,” Jiang Cheng says. “Wait, how the hell did you not know about the rule—”
The door opens, abruptly silencing anything Jiang Cheng was about to say. Wei Wuxian looks over his shoulder to see Lan Wangji standing there, perfectly poised and expression set in stone. He grins, tilting his head and reaching out to wave at him. From behind his back, Wei Wuxian hears Jiang Cheng groan.
“Lan Zhan!” he says, leaping up to his feet.
“I am sorry for the interruption,” Lan Wangji says with a short bow. “My brother has just arrived.”
Jiang Cheng stands up with a nod. “Finally,” he mutters, “I was beginning to lose my brain cells talking to Wei Wuxian.”
“You don’t have a brain,” Wei Wuxian retorts.
Jiang Cheng glares at him, and chooses to ignore this. He walks past them, bowing to Lan Wangji once more before disappearing outside. Lan Wangji watches him go, then turns back to Wei Wuxian.
“Congratulations,” Lan Wangji says, “on becoming an uncle.”
Wei Wuxian grins, skipping over to his husband and looping his hands around his neck. “My silly Lan Zhan,” he says, flicking his nose with his index finger. Lan Wangji flinches ever so slightly, but comes around and rests his hands on Wei Wuxian’s waist. “You’re my husband. You’re going to be Mini Shijie’s uncle as well.”
“Mn,” Lan Wangji nods. “You are correct.”
“God, I really hope Mini Shijie won’t get any traits from the peacock father,” Wei Wuxian says, looking away to dramatically shudder. “That would be the absolute worst.”
Lan Wangji’s fingers are warm at his sides, and Wei Wuxian leans into the touch.
“Eh, Lan Zhan,” he starts, and Lan Wangji hums. “Jiang Cheng said I’m in love with you.”
Lan Wangji freezes.
Wei Wuxian smiles, soft and hesitant. “I told him that I am.”
Then, suddenly, Wei Wuxian is being pulled in. Lan Wangji is gazing at him, golden eyes barely showing the reflection of his own face, and Wei Wuxian wants to kiss him.
So, he does.
Lan Wangji’s lips are warm and soft and perfect against his. It’s not their first kiss, not even their second or third or fourth. It’s definitely not going to be their last, but Wei Wuxian thinks every kiss he shares with Lan Wangji feels like his first.
“Are you?” Lan Wangji says as they break away for air. He’s smiling. Really, truly smiling.
Wei Wuxian beams. “I am,” he says. “I love you, Lan Zhan.”
Lan Wangji kisses him again. “Love Wei Ying,” he whispers against his mouth. “Love Wei Ying, too. So much.”
“Yeah?” Wei Wuxian asks, hoisting himself up so he’s practically hanging off of Lan Wangji’s shoulders. “Then, dearest husband of mine, will you take the one that you love so much to bed?”
Lan Wangji lets go of his hold on him, then reaches down to pick Wei Wuxian up from under his knees and around his back. Wei Wuxian squeals in delight as he’s carried outside and through the courtyard to the familiar path that will lead them to the Jingshi.
And as Lan Wangji closes the door of their room behind them and pushes him into the mattress of their bed, Wei Wuxian laughs. And Lan Wangji laughs. And they’re both laughing against each other and it’s everything. Wei Wuxian is happy.
Wei Wuxian is so, so happy.
The Jingshi is quiet tonight.
Lan Wangji threads his wooden comb through Wei Wuxian’s hair, his legs wrapped around him from behind as Wei Wuxian absently plays with his toes. He’s humming a soft melody, one that Wei Wuxian can’t recognize.
“What’s that?” he asks, quietly. The last thing he wants is to disturb the gentle lull they’ve created in their own little world.
Lan Wangji stops humming to say, “What is what?”
“The song,” Wei Wuxian says. “The song you were just singing.”
“I was not singing,” says Lan Wangji.
“Mn. I have been composing it lately,” says Lan Wangji.
“Really?” asks Wei Wuxian. “It’s beautiful, Lan Zhan. Or, at least, I think it is. You’ll let me hear the rest of it at some point, right?”
“Of course,” says Lan Wangji.
“What’s it called?”
Wei Wuxian turns in Lan Wangji’s lap, shooting him an incredulous look. “That’s not fair!” he says before going back to his original position. He nestles into his husband’s chest, releasing a soft little sigh of contentment.
“Life is not fair, Wei Ying.”
“That’s not true,” says Wei Wuxian. “Life led me to you. Life gave you to me.”
Lan Wangji’s hands still in his hair. Then, he gently places the comb down and reaches for Wei Wuxian’s ribbon. He takes strands of his hair and bunches them together, beginning to wrap the white cloth around them.
Wei Wuxian quickly reaches back to grab Lan Wangji’s wrist, abruptly stopping him from continuing.
“Wei Ying?” Lan Wangji asks, confused.
“Wait,” says Wei Wuxian. He takes a deep breath to steady himself. “Around my forehead, this time.”
There’s a long stretch of silence as Lan Wangji seems to digest this. Then, Wei Wuxian feels a hand curl around his bicep, squeezing it tightly. He can’t help the smile that blossoms at the corners of his mouth.
“Your forehead?” Lan Wangji repeats.
“Yes,” says Wei Wuxian. “Around my forehead.”
Lan Wangji’s hands are at his temples, now, and Wei Wuxian feels the fabric of the ribbon rest gently above his eyebrows. He closes his eyes as Lan Wangji wraps it fully around, then ties the signature knot at the back and loops it carefully into position.
Wei Wuxian turns so Lan Wangji can look at the front. He watches his husband’s face as he spreads his fingers across the ribbon, as if ingraining every single embroidered detail into memory. His features are soft and his expression is light, and he looks so, so unbelievably happy. Wei Wuxian wants to make him feel that way forever—for the rest of his life and the next.
“Does it look good?” Wei Wuxian asks, mirroring Lan Wangji’s words from their wedding night.
“Very good,” says Lan Wangji.
Ah, Wei Wuxian thinks, he remembers, too.
He has been told from a young age that he isn’t allowed to fall in love. That his marriage will be a political one. That the only reason for its existence is because it’ll strengthen the Jiang sect’s ally network.
But as his husband’s arms wrap around his torso and he climbs into his lap, Wei Wuxian sees a glimmer of something extraordinary—a long life of nothing but happiness and love.
The view is breathtaking.