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They have spent their entire lives preparing for this exam. This exam that is held only once a year, accepting a limited number of applicants every round. This exam that they must pass on their first attempt or risk the reputation of their respective sects. This exam that will give them license to go on night hunts unchaperoned and therefore declare to their peers and the whole cultivation world that they are now grown men.

Naturally, they wake up on that morning hungover, late, and with magical doodles scrawled over their skin.

Jiang Cheng doesn’t even have time to scream as they cram into the van, ignoring the unimpressed look their Gusu Lan driver directs at them, and rush to the conference center.

They make it just before the hall doors close. Three hours later, the invigilator collects their papers and Wei Wuxian zips out of the hall. He nearly clears the doors when Jiang Cheng traps his wrist with a binding talisman and pulls him to the floor.

“I have always said I would kill you. Today is the day I keep my word.”

“It’s Nie Huaisang you want! He’s the one who brought the liquor!” Wei Wuxian yelps.

“But you’re the one who had to show off your new invention,” Jiang Cheng growls low in his throat.

Wei Wuxian stands by his indelible talisman ink. Using permanent ink makes the talismans more effective for longer and imbuing that ink with spiritual power increases its potency. That said, his beta version might have had too much spiritual power because one of them had drawn a cat’s nose and whiskers on Jiang Cheng’s face last night and -

“I kept craving cream throughout the test!” Jiang Cheng says in a tone that is somehow a groan and a shrill scream at the same time.

“Dairy? With a hangover? Are you mad?” Nie Huaisang asks, distractedly tapping away on his phone. Scrawled up his left forearm in Wei Wuxian’s ink are the characters for ‘Rich’.

Jin Zixuan snatches Nie Huaisang’s phone away. “You can’t bid on a Ding Guanpeng painting. Your monthly allowance doesn’t even cover a third of the deposit.” The ridiculous bandana he’s wrapped around his forehead is slightly damp. “Soap doesn’t work, by the way. Well done.”

“Hey!” Wei Wuxian protests. “I’m not the one who drew that peacock feather around your vermillion dot.”

“How would you even know? None of us remember anything from last night.”

That’s not strictly true. Wei Wuxian remembers wielding a brush and he had definitely drawn something on someone’s skin.

“What the hell was in your liquor, Huaisang?” Jiang Cheng snaps.

Nie Huaisang ducks behind Jin Zixuan. “Don’t take that tone with me. It’s not my fault we all became such lightweights after doing nothing but study all year long. It was so boring. I notice you didn’t complain when I poured you a cup yesterday either.”

“It’s going to be another long boring year of studying if we failed,” Wei Wuxian points out.

Jiang Cheng flicks Wei Wuxian’s forehead. “Do you think you are in position to scold Huaisang right now? You are the only one unmarked and it’s your bloody ink. When we get back to Cloud Recesses, we are getting that ink out and —”

Someone behind them coughs politely. They turn to see Lan Xichen and Lan Wangji waiting for them.

Wei Wuxian dies a little inside. Here he is feeling like something that had died on the road three days ago while Lan Wangji stands there, looking like the dictionary example of ‘hottie’.

Lan Xichen says, faintly bemused, “I thought to bring you out for lunch to celebrate the end of your exams but maybe a trip back to Cloud Recesses first to freshen up?”

“Thank you, Zewu-jun, but I think we just have the wait until it wears off,” Jin Zixuan says miserably.

“Ah. That’s inconvenient,” Lan Xichen comments mildly.

“It wouldn’t be Wei Wuxian’s invention if it wasn’t,” Jiang Cheng says.


Lan Xichen demands to hear more about Wei Wuxian’s ink over lunch, which is at a private room in an expensive vegetarian restaurant with food so bland, Jiang Cheng wants to cry into his dish just so it will have some flavour. He peeks to his right and sure enough, Wei Wuxian looks like he’s having a hard time swallowing. Jiang Cheng fires off a quick message to the group chat, Look at his face!

They suck in their lips to stifle their laughter when Lan Wangji deposits another dumpling on Wei Wuxian’s plate. They know Lan Wangji doesn’t like Wei Wuxian but this is downright sadistic.

Still, Wei Wuxian puts on a brave face and pats Lan Wangji’s hand in thanks.

Jin Zixuan makes a sound in the back of his throat that sounds like a honk.

“What was that?” Nie Huaisang asks.

“I said ‘wow’,” Jin Zixuan replies testily. He’s taken off his bandana. Lan Xichen is having a hard time not staring at it because doodle or no doodle, that peacock feather was wonderfully drawn. It must’ve been Nie Huaisang.

“This one too.” Lan Wangji nudges a siu mai towards Wei Wuxian.

Wei Wuxian laughs thinly. “That’s enough, Lan Zhan. Feed yourself first.”

“Yes. If you give Wei Wuxian all your favourites, what will you eat?” Lan Xichen says.

Jiang Cheng wonders if he’s still drunk. He’s craving fish so badly. He surreptitiously sends a text message to Jin Zixuan, asking him to add pan-fried cod to the takeout they will inevitably order once they’re back in Cloud Recesses.

JZX:  Who do you think I am? Nie Huaisang?
JC:  No, you actually have the money.
JZX:  Fine. Wei Wuxian just asked for a save. One more siu mai on his plate and he might do something stupid.
JC:  That’s not a threat. That’s what he does every day.
JZX:  You want that cod?
JC:  Fine. Just make sure Huaisang isn’t surfing for luxury goods on his phone again.

Jiang Cheng sighs and says loudly, “Ah, I’m so hungry. Won’t you spare your brother one piece of delicious siu mai?”

“Of course! I can give you both of them since you’re starving,” Wei Wuxian says.

“Don’t push it,” Jiang Cheng warns under his breath.

Upon seeing Lan Wangji about to give him more food, Wei Wuxian pouts. “Please, Lan Zhan, all I really want is some rice that isn’t white,” he says softly in a tone Jiang Cheng has only heard him use with their sister. It makes Jiang Cheng want to throw up. Truly, Wei Wuxian’s shamelessness has no bounds.

Lan Wangji pries Wei Wuxian’s hand off him.

Wei Wuxian watches him leave the room, looking like a kicked puppy.

Oh boy. Jiang Cheng exchanges looks with Nie Huaisang and Jin Zixuan. They are definitely going to hear about this tonight.

Lan Xichen clears his throat. “How strong would you say the compulsion from the ink is?”

Wei Wuxian recovers quickly, slapping on a smile. “It’s only a bit of spiritual power. Theoretically, it can be easily cancelled out with a talisman. But we were in a hurry this morning and if we pasted a talisman on ourselves, the invigilators would accuse us of cheating.”

Lan Xichen huffs. “I still cannot believe you boys drank the night before your exam,” he says as if he’s ten years their senior instead of three. “When I took the exam, I was so nervous I couldn’t even sleep much less have a drinking party.”

“Adventure is in our sect motto,” Wei Wuxian says.

“No, it’s not,” Jiang Cheng says.

As if they’re going to admit to Lan Xichen that their group doesn’t have the healthiest of coping mechanisms. Between Jiang Cheng and Jin Zixuan with their burdens as sect heirs, Wei Wuxian’s tangle of abandonment issues and Nie Huaisang’s inability to be honest when he’s hurt, they should not have worked. But their parents had met too often to hammer out inter-sect agreements and treaties with the civilian governments for them to avoid each other.

They’d fought plenty when they were younger. Jiang Cheng with Wei Wuxian because he thought he never worked hard for anything. Wei Wuxian with Jin Zixuan because Jin Zixuan acted like he was better than everyone. Nie Huaisang had been the most difficult to draw out of his shell. Then they realised they would only see each other more as future sect leaders and seconds-in-command and made an implicit agreement to watch out for one another.

They’ve been friends ever since. There’d been a hiccup when Jin Zixuan had become standoffish with Jiang Yanli but that was resolved when they figured out Jin Zixuan actually had a crush on her. Which, fair.

“So the compulsion is not so strong that you cannot ignore it?” Lan Xichen says.

Jiang Cheng nods absentmindedly. “It’s like an itch in the back of your head. Much easier if you scratch it but you’re not going to die if you don’t.”

“And will manifest subconsciously if you’re not paying attention.”

Jiang Cheng wonders why Lan Xichen sounds so amused when he realises he’s been twitching his nose. Jiang Cheng glares and scratches his nose with his middle finger as the group chat explodes with cat gifs.

Lan Wangji returns with a plate.

Lan Xichen says, “Wangji? What’s that you have there?”

“Jan jyu gai.” Lan Wangji takes his seat and unwraps the lotus leaf, revealing a mouth-watering parcel of glutinous rice. He turns. “Wei Ying?”

“Don’t mind if I do!” Wei Wuxian scoops the whole thing onto his plate.

NHS:  He left to get food with actual flavour? I knew they were trolling us with this lunch!
JZX:  If it’s from this restaurant, it’s vegetarian, right?
NHS:  That looks a lot like chicken though. Jiang Cheng, you’re the closest. Please get us some. Even just one small piece. My mouth is dying.
JZX:  Please.

Jiang Cheng casts a pointed look at Wei Wuxian. “Ah, I’m still hungry.”

“Then starve.” Wei Wuxian stuffs half the parcel into his mouth.

Jiang Cheng tries to steal the other half but Wei Wuxian blocks his chopsticks with his own and Jiang Cheng does not want to have a Chopsticks Duel in front of the Twin Jades of Lan.

“Why didn’t you get some for the rest of us too?” Nie Huaisang whines at Lan Wangji.

Lan Wangji blinks at him as if he’s speaking a foreign language.

“Technically, he only got one and Wei Wuxian stole the whole thing like a gremlin,” Jin Zixuan says.

Wei Wuxian makes a happy noise. “This is so good, Lan Zhan. Sorry I ate it all. I was too desperate. I’ll get you something later. Lan Zhan? I’m sorry, okay? Won’t you look at me, Lan Zhan?’

The tips of Lan Wangji’s ears are the colour of chili oil. Jiang Cheng considers extracting Wei Wuxian before he annoys Lan Wangji into hitting him when Wei Wuxian says coquettishly, “Young master, won’t you grace this humble servant with your dignified gaze?”

There is a wheeze next to them and Lan Xichen slaps the table, a piece of dumpling stuck in his throat.

Jiang Cheng curses. “Does anyone know the Heimlich? Someone look it up! There has to be a video of it, right? Wei Wuxian, stop that. Lan Xichen is dying!”


After explaining to the restaurant that Jin Zixuan had not been attacking Lan Xichen and that it was simply a poorly performed Heimlich maneuver, they leave, heads hanging. Nie Huaisang adds the restaurant to the list of establishments they can no longer visit.

With the way their luck is holding, Nie Huaisang would not be surprised if the gossip rags somehow get wind of this and print, ‘Lanling Jin heir assaults Gusu Lan sect leader’.

They bundle into Lan Xichen’s chauffeured car and head back to the Lan Estate.

The exam has most recently been held in Gusu. After the cheating scandal in Lanling, that year with the flash floods in Yunmeng and that incident in Qinghe where some wayword applicants had broken into a Nie sword hall and released a generation of malevolent spirits that had taken them a whole week to contain, the major sects agreed that Gusu should host all future exams.

Unfortunately, Lan Wangji who should have been their friend wants nothing to do with them. So while the four of them have designated quarters in Jinlintai, Lotus Pier and the Unclean Realm, they are all but strangers in Cloud Recesses. Nie Huaisang is pretty sure Lan Xichen had only agreed to host all of them because he and Nie Mingjue are close and Lan Xichen knows Nie Huaisang comes as part of a set.

“It’s not always this chaotic with us,” Wei Wuxian promises on the car ride.

“Don’t lie to him.” Nie Huaisang stops when he sees Wei Wuxian’s hand on Lan Wangji’s arm. And Wei Wuxian is petting Lan Wangji cajolingly?

Wei Wuxian must be more hungover than they’d thought.

A few years ago, Wei Wuxian had extended an offer to Lan Wangji to join their friendly circle and Lan Wangji had rejected it. Wei Wuxian had talked about nothing else for six whole months. He’d declared Lan Wangji his arch-rival. He’d spent months only referring to him as ‘that fuddy-duddy’. He so obviously had a crush but since Lan Wangji had so brutally turned him down, none of them had brought it up.

Any minute now, Wei Wuxian would realise how touchy-feely he’s being with his arch-nemesis and be mortified and the rest of them would make fun of him until the end of time.

Nie Huaisang waits. And waits.

Wei Wuxian sighs about his headache and lays his head on Lan Wangji’s shoulder.

Nie Huaisang’s mouth drops. “Oh my gods.”

“What?” Jiang Cheng looks over from the front seat and convulses. “I’m not even going to — hang on.”

“Could it be?” Jin Zixuan says.

“Did one of us…”

Write Lan Wangji’s name on Wei Wuxian’s skin?

“I wouldn’t put it past us,” Nie Huaisang admits.

Jiang Cheng groans into his hands.

“Boys? Is everything alright?” Lan Xichen enquires, still sounding winded from the rough Heimlich.

The three of them sit up straight. They wait for Lan Xichen to say something about the way Wei Wuxian is using Lan Wangji like a pillow but he simply quirks his eyebrow.

Eventually, Jin Zixuan ventures, “How long does your brother hold grudges?”

“Wangji?” Lan Xichen says, taken aback. “He’s never held a grudge that I know of. I suppose you can say he doesn’t forget easily.”

The three of them exchange looks.

“It’s okay, right? I mean, he doesn’t like us to begin with,” Nie Huaisang says.

Jiang Cheng nods. “We lose nothing.”

“None of this gets back to A-Li. She would be so disappointed,” Jin Zixuan says.

Nie Huaisang frowns. “Wait, why is Lan Wangji —”

“Did someone mention shijie? What shameful deed are we keeping from her this time?” Wei Wuxian asks from the comfort of Lan Wangji’s lap.

“Why…” Jiang Cheng begins but doesn’t know how to finish. He settles on, “Why?”

“Why what?”

None of them wants to be the one to bring attention to the way Wei Wuxian is snuggling against Fuddy Duddy Lan Wangji so they say nothing.

Wei Wuxian laughs. “You guys are being strange today.” He goes back to rambling at Lan Wangji about - Nie Huaisang pricks his ears - about music cultivation and radio waves? Lan Wangji listens attentively and puts his chin on Wei Wuxian’s shoulder.

“For the sake of my sanity, I hope this is what we think it is or I’m going to tear out my eyes,” Jiang Cheng hisses under his breath. “I might do it anyway.”

Nie Huaisang nods sympathetically and takes a few pictures with his phone.


The second they are back in their guest quarters, they corral Wei Wuxian in the sitting area and order him to strip.

“This again? I told you I already checked this morning. You guys didn’t draw anything on me.”

“I want to make sure. It’s either this or we have all lost our collective minds,” Jiang Cheng says.

“What are you talking about?”

“You and Lan Wangji. The way you keep…touching him.” Nie Huaisang makes a face.

“I…was touching him? When?” Wei Wuxian asks.

They stare at him. He stares earnestly back.

“That’s it,” Jiang Cheng snaps and pulls Wei Wuxian’s shirt off him.


Jin Zixuan pinches his nose and goes through his breathing exercises.

“Now is not the time, Zixuan! Do you see anything?” Jiang Cheng asks.

Jin Zixuan shakes his head. Wei Wuxian’s back is unmarked.

Jiang Cheng curses. “I didn’t want to have to do this.” He grabs Wei Wuxian’s wrists. “Take off his pants.”

Wei Wuxian squawks and tries to throw off Jiang Cheng. Jiang Cheng wrestles him to the floor while Nie Huaisang puts a knee to Wei Wuxian’s back. Jin Zixuan shoots them a queasy look. “Do we really have to?”

“It’s the only place we haven’t checked,” Nie Huaisang points out.

“Do you think I’d let any of you take off my pants even when we’re drunk? We’re close but not that close!” Wei Ying says, kicking.

Jin Zixuan grits his teeth and undoes Wei Wuxian’s jeans, shucking them down. He doesn’t know how he’s ever going to look Jiang Yanli in the eye ever again. Fortunately, it pays off because, finally, they find what they’re looking for. But the moment Jin Zixuan realises what he’s looking at, he pales.

There, under the elastic of Wei Wuxian’s underwear, just above the swell of his butt, in impeccable calligraphy that belongs to none of them is ‘Lan Wangji was here’.

“Oh my gods,” Nie Huaisang says.

Wei Ying stills. “What?”

Jiang Cheng leans over and freezes. He scrambles to his feet, releasing Wei Wuxian. “Are you and Lan Wangji fucking? Tell it to me straight. I can take it.” He sounds like he’s inhaling more helium the longer he speaks.

Wei Wuxian runs for the bathroom while Nie Huaisang palms his face. “You’re still asking that when Lan Wangji left such a calling card?”

Jin Zixuan peers into the bathroom at Wei Wuxian who is quickly losing colour as he arches his back for a better look in the mirror. Jin Zixuan absolutely, absolutely, does not want to know how it had been like when Lan Wangji had made that mark. “A-as your future brother-in-law, I am of course supportive. Are you using protection? A-Li will want to know.”

Wei Wuxian clips him in the shoulder when he zips back out into the sitting room, face boiling. “There must be some misunderstanding. I am not fucking Lan Zhan,” he splutters.

“You clearly don’t remember him writing that on you. There might have been other things you don’t remember,” Nie Huaisang points out.

Wei Wuxian, looking lost, chins his hand.

A knock and Lan Xichen enters.

“Am I fucking Lan Zhan?” Wei Wuxian asks ponderously.

Whatever Lan Xichen had come for quickly flees his mind because he says, “Surely that is a private matter—” His gaze falls down Wei Wuxian’s naked back, where Lan Wangji’s neat calligraphy is still there for all to see. “Wangji?” He backs away, hands scrabbling behind him for some sort of purchase on the wall.

“Watch out!” Nie Huaisang says.

Lan Xichen slips on Wei Wuxian’s shirt and tumbles down in a strangely dignified heap. And doesn’t get up.

Jiang Cheng and Nie Huaisang exchange horrified looks while Wei Wuxian cries, “Where’s the first aid kit?”

“He passed out. What do you think will help him from a first aid kit? Tweezers?” Jiang Cheng asks.

“Where’s my ink?” Wei Wuxian digs under the sheaf of papers they’d left on the floor during the study-cum-drinking session last night and crows when he unearths a small porcelain jar. He scribbles out a revival spell, slaps it on Lan Xichen’s face and jumps out of the way when Lan Xichen springs upward, drawing a sharp intake of breath.

“What’s this?” With the talisman flapping from his forehead, Lan Xichen looks like a hopping vampire*.

Wei Wuxian blanches. Nie Huaisang holds out his protective amulet.

“Nice work, Wei Wuxian. He’ll have to go through a purification ritual,” Jiang Cheng deadpans.

Jin Zixuan sighs from deep within his chest. “Just once. Just once I’d like for things like this to not happen to us.”

Nie Huaisang pats his shoulder. “The path to happiness is setting achievable goals.”


They cut their stay at Cloud Recesses short. They bid their farewells to a convalescing Lan Xichen, reiterate their apologies and keep Lan Wangji away from Wei Wuxian.

“I need to speak with him privately for a moment,” Lan Wangji insists.

The steel in his gaze would have intimidated them in any other situation but this is their friend’s chastity under threat here.

Jiang Cheng already has a migraine thinking of how he would explain this to his family. “You can send him a text message,” he says tersely.

“I do not have his contact details.”

Wei Wuxian shouts his number from the back seat of the van and twists but the binding talisman around his arms holds fast. He really shouldn’t have taught his friends how to cast it. “Come on, guys. It’s not like we see each other all the time. Let me talk to Lan Zhan.”

“No. You are compromised,” Nie Huaisang hisses. “Somehow, he joined us during our party, got access to your butt and wrote his name over it. Don’t you find it the least bit suspicious?”

“Actually, it’s really hot.”

Jin Zixuan makes a loud noise and stuffs his fingers into his ears. “I heard nothing. I didn’t hear anything!”

“Wei Ying, please. We need to speak about what happened last night,” Lan Wangji says.

“You can’t talk to him about your one night stand when he’s still affected by the ink,” Nie Huaisang reasons and joins Wei Wuxian in the backseat.

Lan Wangji frowns. “It was not a...” He sighs. “You said the ink’s compulsion is not that strong.”

“Not for us but this idiot has had a crush on you for years. We can’t take any chances. I’m sure you understand,” Jin Zixuan says, ignoring the way Wei Wuxian tries to bite his hair.

“A crush on me,” Lan Wangji says slowly. He turns to Jiang Cheng. “Jiang Wanyin, yesterday night, Wei Ying and I…”

Jiang Cheng stops him with a hand. “Please, Lan-er-gongzi. It’s great if you return his feelings. You have his number now. But I cannot stress this enough. I don’t need to know what happened between the two of you last night.”

“I disagree. You should know.”

Jiang Cheng’s gapes at him. “You’re just as shameless as he is! Come on, let’s go!” He jumps into the van and tells the driver to step on the pedal.

“Lan Zhan!” Wei Wuxian presses his face against the rear window as Lan Wangji watches them go. “You guys suck. Lan Zhan wanted to talk to me. You know how rare that is?”

“Great, we’re going to hear about this for another six months.” Jin Zixuan says.

“Consider our position, Wei Wuxian! We let Lan Wangji have his way with you while you were drunk. Jiejie will never speak to me again,” Jiang Cheng complains.

Wei Wuxian shifts his hips. “It doesn’t feel like he had his way with me.”

“Why else would his name be on your butt?” Nie Huaisang asks.

“It’s not on it. It’s above it!”

“Somehow, that’s worse.”

Jin Zixuan leans back against the headrest and closes his eyes. “We’ve been blacklisted by a restaurant. We’ve assaulted Lan Xichen. We’ve damaged our relationship with Gusu Lan. Can we please stop talking about this? I never ever want to know what happened last night.”


What Happened Last Night

Lan Wangji hasn’t been drunk before but he is rather certain he is right now because his tongue is fuzzy; he cannot feel his face.

“How can you be like this, Lan Zhan? You’ve only had one cup,” Wei Ying whines. His words are slurring. He’s had at least a whole jar of Gusu’s best liquor in him. But he’s also smiling at him so Lan Wangji cannot bring himself to regret a thing.

Wei Ying is so sweet. When Lan Wangji had told him he hadn’t felt comfortable drinking in front of the others, Wei Ying had put the finishing touches on Jin Zixuan’s feather and gathered Lan Wangji to his bedroom.

“You’re really so talented,” Wei Ying sighs after Lan Wangji finishes playing the guqin piece Wei Ying had requested. “And so smart and so handsome. Is that why you didn’t want to be friends with us? We could have had so much fun together. Why don’t you like me?”

Lan Wangji nearly trips over his guqin in his efforts to reassure Wei Ying. “I like you.”

“Then why didn’t you want to join our gang?” Wei Ying pouts.

Lan Wangji had thought it had been very kind of Wei Ying to ask. But Lan Wangji knows how he is with people. He knows they call him ‘fuddy-duddy’. His awkwardness would disrupt that hard-won camaraderie between Wei Ying, Jiang Wanyin, Nie Huaisang and Jin Zixuan. Wei Ying would be all the poorer for it. He wishes he could have explained all this so as not to hurt Wei Ying’s feelings but words are the other thing Lan Wangji is terrible at.

“It is not what you think. I do like you. Very much,” Lan Wangji adds in case Wei Ying misses the point.

Wei Ying beams and makes Lan Wangji’s stomach swoop. He doesn’t think he’s been this close to Wei Ying’s smiles before. Lan Wangji wants to trace the arc of his lips.

“That’s great. Me too,” Wei Ying says.

Lan Wangji pumps his fist in the air. He doesn’t know why. He’s seen others do it before.

Wei Ying giggles. He brandishes a brush. “Hey, do you want to play with my ink too? I brought it here.” He opens his arms. “Consider me your human talisman.” He pauses. “Note to self: don’t let anyone draw a spirit lure on someone’s body. That would be so bad. What are you doing?”

Lan Wangji tugs Wei Ying’s jeans lower. “Brother says that when leaving marks on someone’s body, you should do it where no one can see. It’s only polite.”

“That makes sense.” Wei Ying unbuttons his jeans to give Lan Wangji easier access. He admires Lan Wangji’s handiwork in the mirror later. “Your calligraphy is so nice! I should get it tattooed properly. My turn. I want to leave my mark on you too.”

Lan Wangji pulls aside his robes obligingly and holds still while Wei Ying carefully writes ‘Wei Wuxian was here’ on his chest. Over his heart. How appropriate, he thinks.

“Doesn’t this feel like we’re binding ourselves to each other?” Wei Ying asks.

It does. “We should do this too then.” Lan Wangji unties his forehead ribbon and wraps it around his and Wei Ying’s wrists. “Now we are truly bound.”

“I like it,” Wei Ying declares and falls forward onto Lan Wangji and passes out.

In the morning, Lan Wangji tamps down on his abject horror and sheer panic and gently removes his forehead ribbon from Wei Ying. Normally, he would not sneak out of the guest quarters like a thief in the night. Normally, if he had married someone in a drunken stupor, he would tell them immediately. But Wei Ying will be sitting for the most important exam in his life in a few hours. Surely, this can wait.