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A kiss on a falling tear

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Jiang Yanli looks at her brothers (and they both are her brothers, no matter what her mother insists) and can’t help the burst of pride that flows through her. They’re both so handsome, both so wonderful, and her heart breaks a little to know she'll be so far away from them. She's excited to marry Jin Zixuan, especially after everything they've gone through to get to this point, but she's going to miss her brothers more than she ever thought was possible.

She looks at Wei Wuxian, the older of the two, but somehow still the most childish. His tuxedo is already wrinkled - something she suspects is connected to the faint blush she saw on Lan Wangji's face a few minutes earlier - and his hair has fought its way free from the red ribbon he chose. There's a beaming smile on his face, although she can see the tears welling in his eyes. In comparison, Jiang Cheng looks perfect, as though he's just stepped out of a magazine photoshoot; his purple ribbon is tied impeccably in his hair, his tuxedo fitting his slim body without a single crease. The only thing marring the image is the severe expression on his face that makes him look even older than her. He's always so serious. She wishes he would smile more.

But they're both looking at her with so much love that she almost wants to turn away. She doesn't deserve either of them, but they're here, but her side as always. The Yunmeng Siblings. The three of them together.

She doesn't even realise she's crying until both boys are beside her, one on each side, holding her hands tightly.

They move at the same time and if she didn’t know better, she’d think they had planned this – they would never actually talk to each other, but they both think so much alike that situations like this are inevitable – and each one presses a small kiss to her cheek. Their lips take away the tears, just as they have always snatched the darkness and fear from her.

Jiang Cheng is the first to speak. The look on his face has softened and he sounds on the verge of tears himself. She's overwhelmed by the desire to wrap her arms around him and hold him tight like she did then they were younger and she believed she could protect him from the world. "It's time, a-Li," he says, his hand in hers, squeezing gently. "You need to go and get married."

"That peacock still doesn't deserve you, Shijie," Wei Wuxian says, stepping closer until she can feel the heat of his body along her side. It's reassuring in a way she can't quite explain. Unashamed, he lets his own tears fall, brushing them away half-heartedly. "But you look so beautiful."

"The most beautiful," Jiang Cheng agrees, and she wonders if this is the first time they've agreed so easily on anything. She hopes they'll be okay together when she's gone. She hopes they'll look after each other. She hopes they'll be happy.

She hopes...

"I love you both," she says, far from the first time she's said the words to either of them, but no less heartfelt for it. "Thank you."