“All power is cursed,” I say. “The most terrible among us will do anything to get it, and those who’d wield power best don’t want it thrust upon them. But that doesn’t mean they can avoid their responsibilities forever.”
Holly Black, The Queen of Nothing
Power, such a simple word. Yet it holds immense gravity. It is dangerous and yet people lust for it until the hunger consumes them whole, driving them to insanity. An addictive drug which you once get the taste of, you desire for more.
Wei Wuxian had never been the one seeking it. All his life he had been content with he never needed it, never wanted it. But he needed it to survive, to get out of the Burial Mounds.
Power needed for survival, does that make him a bad person?
How easily the faces that blatantly hated him before, ridiculed him, then bowed to him and admire him as he had personally hung the stars and the moon in the sky.
He would have loved it, the attention if it wasn’t of how he got it. The problem lies within the reason for their sudden change. The moment he losses the power he had gained would be the moment those hungry eagles ready for a feast would tear him apart, limb from limb.
So, Wei Wuxian had remained careful. Still arrogant, the quality everybody hated him for, and doing what he liked but yet, careful. Every step he took measured precisely. He couldn’t let his weakness show, he couldn’t let anyone know why.
And then, he had saved the Wen remnants. Everyone hated him for it. For saving the Wens who had caused the cultivation world great suffering. But they were Wens only in name, their nature completely opposite of their leaders.
For Wei Wuxian, the Wen siblings had been a friend. Someone who helped him in their own small ways from time to time. How could he turn a blank eye to their suffering? When Wen Ning had sneaked in to give him that medicine? How could he forget how he had saved Jiang Cheng on the risk of his life? How could he forget Wen Qing helping him save his brother?
He saved them and found a family. They made Burial Mounds the home, the only place he could call his own.
The cultivation world loomed over him. And before they could bring his brother into the mess of Wei Wuxian’s making, he defected, saving the Jiang Clan from himself.
Power, what a funny thing it is. Like a sword ready to pierce the moment you sway. And Wei Wuxian, now the enemy of the entire cultivation world walked the road of a single plank bridge with no return.
He didn’t want it but now he bears the consequences of wielding something he wasn’t meant to have. How was he different from the ones he protected others from?
The only difference between those leeches and Wei Wuxian, Wen Qing’s words, not his, was that he got the power not because he wanted it but because he needed it to survive. And people did ridiculous and unexplainable things to survive.
But Wei Wuxian knows that’s just some fancy comforting words. For he knows what he did does not by any means justify his actions. He will always be burdened by the gravity of what kind of power he had unleashed on the Cultivation World.
But here he is, once again in his only home, the Burial Mounds.
The Burial Mound, a place filled with pure hatred, a place left to rot for so long that its core resonates with strong resentful energy. It’s suffocating, chilling as it wraps around him, never leaving him behind.
Sometimes, they liked to speak to him. Their words were deceptive yet gentle as they sing their wicked songs to him. Their fingers freezing as they wrap around his neck, constricting his airflow until only blackness is what he sees.
Long ago, Wei Wuxian had made them his. Their crooked hands leaving behind the bitter metallic smell of blood, teasing and coaxing him, wanting him to give up. Wanting him to surrender. But Wei Wuxian was not a coward. His mere existence spoke of the Jiang sect’s motive, Attempt the impossible.
That time he was weak, only a mere puppet without anything but him and his hunger. That time, they didn’t speak, they just watched silent and ready to feast.
No one had been like you, once those words had reached his ears. They hurt like someone had scratched his ears raw and left them bleeding. It was too much.
You can’t do anything to me, he had answered, his eyes closed shut, his voice raw and cracked.
They had laughed at him, all of them. But then, they had surrendered. Not because they were scared, not because Wei Wuxian had outpowered them. But because he had gained their respect.
Now that he thinks about it, it makes him laugh. How miserable he had been for even the dead, resentful ghosts to pity him.
They had respected him and made him theirs just like he had made them his.
Since the day he had gained their favor, they had refused to leave him alone, refused to let him forget them Every night they accompany me. It’s all he remembers now, a shaky presence beside him. It feels off when they are not next to him anymore. The air too empty to breathe. Like the calm before a storm. Like his blood will soon freeze within him, rendering him useless, leaving him cold and alone.
The pain comes to him one of those restless nights. The sudden pain hitting him like a raging fire. He doesn’t know when or why it happens. All he remembers is the hot burning pain blazing through his entire body, seizing him until he loses all his senses. He is alone in his cave, the Wen remnants long asleep. He tries to scream but nothing comes out. He is trapped.
What is happening? Someone help me! he screams.
A flash of blurry images, blurry memories run through his head. A needle pricking and prodding into the delicate skin of his skull.
Wei Wuxian senses another presence near him, it's familiar, Wei Wuxian, the familiar presence whispers, low and breathy.
Why are you doing this? Why now? Why? he opens his mouth once again hoping his words will be heard.
And they are. We are helping you, Wei Wuxian, they reply back.
It hurts, I can’t breathe
Shh, it will be over soon, let us help.
Tears drip down his face, as he thrashes on his makeshift bed in the cave. And then, he wishes.
He wishes at times like this, at times of pure agony that someone was here with him. Not the ghosts that accompany him but someone solid and steady, someone who could make all his pain go away, someone who could hold him close and tell him he will be okay. Someone like…. Lan Zhan.
He misses him, Wei Wuxian realizes. He misses his mourning robes; he misses his voice when he had gone all angry at him, he wishes his voice, his music, he misses him like a thirsty traveler lost in the desert.
Wei Wuxian wants him here, he wants his Lan Zhan.
That’s when the sudden scent of Sandalwood drifts in the air. So accustomed to everything Lan Zhan, Wei Wuxian’s heart clenches in his chest. A seed of hope blossoming as he whispers, “Lan Zhan?”
He is not ready for an answer, not even hoping. Lan Zhan hates him; he had all reasons to. Wei Wuxian will never judge him for that. For Lan Wangji is Hanguang Jun, the light bearer. If he shows Wei Ying any kind of leniency then how could he stand with what’s right? For him, Wei Wuxian is a defector, a demonic cultivator who is a potential threat to the Cultivation world with the enormous power he holds.
He is the fire that Lan Zhan needs to put out. If it’s Lan Zhan putting the fire out, then he will gladly extinguish it until nothing is left of him.
But then, his mind, his crooked mind plays a trick, it makes him hope as Lan Wangji’s voice echoes in his ears, steady and so very delicate as he calls his name, “Wei Ying”.
Wei Wuxian thrashes, no, don’t make me hear him, don’t make me hope.
“Wei Ying” It whispers again, “I’m here”
“No” A hand reaches for his lips leaving feather-light tingles on the skin.
Don’t hope, Wei Wuxian. It never gets you anything.
When he was five, Wei Wuxian had desperately hoped that one day his parents will return to him. They will take him in his arms and he will cry his lungs out. They will coax him with some Watermelons and get to hug him and never let them go.
Then as he grew up, he hoped that one day, Madam Yu would accept him, love him like his own. He hoped she will wipe his tears away and Wei Wuxian will once again have a mother.
He hoped, oh so desperately for Yunmeng to feel like his home. A home that no one could ever take him out of. Somewhere he belonged to. He hoped that the last words his adoptive parents would say to him would be gentle goodbyes. He hoped that it was him the Wens had caught that day instead of his dear brother. He hoped that Lan Zhan…..the person he had missed so so dearly in those horrible lonely months in the Burial Mounds, Lan Zhan’s voice the only thing that kept him anchored, kept him human, to have him by his side.
Wei Wuxian chuckles bitterly, body convulsing with the flow of sudden energy that overpowers him.
Once again when Wei Wuxian feels himself drift away from his senses, his anchor calls for him.
“I’m here,” Lan Zhan’s beautiful voice repeats, warmth settling the raging storm in Wei Wuxian’s heart. He trembles as a gentle hand caresses his cheek like he is precious and loved.
Love me, make me yours, don’t let go.
Wei Wuxian doesn’t realize he is crying until one calloused thumb wipes the tear that had slipped to his cheek, “My Wei Ying” He says again, “Shh, don’t cry”
And then, “Think of me, only me”
He does. His mind zeroing on him and him only.
Lan Zhan playing his Guqin, Lan Zhan holding a bunny close to his chest, Lan Zhan smiling like the gentle moonlight, Lan Zhan glaring at him, Lan Zhan telling him to stop, Lan Zhan shrugging him away, Lan Zhan pushing him away, Lan Zhan leaving him behind, Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan.
The darkness twirls, prodding at the walls guarding his fragile mind, fingers scrounging. Wei Wuxian writhes in pain, shuddering at the fingers assaulting him, digging deeper and deeper.
He knows he is screaming but he has lost control over his own voice. He is aware of what he is screaming, who he is calling, begging to help him.
Lan Zhan, his mind echoes.
And then, behind his closed eyes, Wei Wuxian sees the darkness’s malicious grin.
Wei Wuxian lets the panic grip him. No, no, no. please no, don’t.
He screams, tries to crawl away but is pulled back every time. He can’t let them do this. He won’t let them do this. Don’t touch it, don’t touch him.
His cries only fuel the energy within him, the utter delight of his assaulter filling his own body. The energy laughs, Poor little Wei Ying, it says, don’t worry, we will make the pain go away.
Flashes of images and memories flood through him like a waterfall unleashing itself for the first time.
You are ours, let us help, they say. Their voice is so gentle that Wei Wuxian feels his eyes filling with tears. How long has it been since anyone had called him that sweetly?
Let go, Wei Ying, Wei Wuxian lets go. All the memories and images vanishing from his eyes, only one thing, one color remains, white.
Wei Wuxian holds the white tightly in his grasp, he cherishes the white. Until all he sees is white, familiar white fading away, walking away, leaving him all alone into the darkness he is so familiar with. He wants to scream; he wants this white…. man? woman? Wei Wuxian isn’t sure anymore. All he knows is that he needs to stop them, he can’t let them leave him, not like this, not here.
The darkness surges even higher inside of him, crawling and teasing, Worthless, left behind once again, not enough, never enough.
Wei Wuxian struggles to gain any kind of control over his senses but the hollowness, the feeling of someone sorting through his head, plucking every single flower out of it until only the weeds remain, tainting the soil, tainting his mind.
Worthless, left behind once again, not enough, never enough, Worthless, left behind once again, not enough, never enough.
Wei Wuxian screams and screams and screams, hoping the person in white hears him, comes back to him and gathers him in their arms. He waits, like the fool he is.
Come back, please, I need you, La-
Wei Wuxian feels the last prick in his mind before the binds holding it tight disappears along with everything, he holds dear to him. He slumps onto the hard stone he liked to call his bed, like a puppet cut of his strings, his head harshly colliding with the stone. But that doesn’t matter, what matters is that he is alone.
Once again, Wei Wuxian is alone.
Time passes, Wei Wuxian doesn’t know where he is. He is floating in an endless abyss, waiting for…. something. That something leaves him hollow, like a boat without an anchor, like someone had plucked something very important, cherished, precious, and loved out of him.
Wei Wuxian wakes to Wen Qing furiously shaking him awake, a concerned look on her face that she quickly schools behind her usual blankness, “Wei Wuxian, are you okay?”
The sunlight creeping through the cracks in the cave is enough for Wei Wuxian to squint his eyes, an unknown headache making him groan and slump back into the bed, “Yes” He says, “I’m okay, it’s just a headache”
Help me, he thinks, I think I have lost something, help me, he wants to say but his mind and mouth betrays him once again, “What are you doing here?” He asks instead.
He looks around the cave noticing the sunlight peeking through. Wen Qing sensing his confusion answers before he can ask, “It’s afternoon”
“You should have woken me up”
“You know you needed to sleep more Wei Wuxian, it’s not a bad thing”
Wen Qing’s eyes gloom over, pity and regret swirling in them, “Lan Wangji came by” She whispers like it’s a little secret between the two. Something meant to be hushed about.
Wei Wuxian shuts his eyes, racking up anything that even mildly resembles the name, “Lan Wangji?” He asks when nothing comes up.
Wen Qing looks to her feet, “Hm. I invited him inside but he refused when I said you were sleeping. He was pretty adamant on not letting anyone disturb your sleep” She chuckles, shaking her head.
Wei Wuxian is confused. Disturb his sleep? Came here to see him? Who would willingly come here to meet him?
“Meet me? Oh, you may be meant to kill me? See if I’m really raising an army of fierce corpses here?” He fixes her mistake for her, propping his head on his elbow to look at her. She has a complicated expression on her face, her judging eyes moving across his face.
Squirming under her scrutinizing gaze, Wei Wuxian barks, “What?” He doesn’t like that look.
Wen Qing remains silent for a while, eyes never leaving him as she finally finds the words, “You really don’t believe that do you? Lan Wangji would never do that. Not to you, never”
If anything, it fuels the itch under his skin even more. There are not many people left in the world who doesn’t hate him, doesn't hate the Yiling Laozu, who will not hesitate to kill him on sight. Surely if there is someone who will never do that to him, Wei Wuxian will remember him, right?
“Okay, “He says, slowly sitting up, “Okay I get everything else. Just explain this one little thing to me”
The judging look is back.
Wei Wuxian tries his best to recollect the name as he levels Wen Qing, staring at her, “Lan Wangji? Who is he to bother with my sleep?”
“Wei Wuxian! He is worried about you, can’t you see?” Wen Qing barks out as he had personally offended her.
“Worry?” Wei Wuxian scoffs, “Why would a random stranger worry about the Yiling Laozu’s sleep?”
Something shutters in her face, a seed of realization blooming in them. She steps closer until she is within arm's length. Resting a steady hand on his shoulder, she says, slow, clear, and serious, “This is not something to joke about, Wei Wuxian” The grim tone of her voice makes Wei Wuxian uncomfortable.
“Joke?” He laughs, “Why would I joke about this? I’m serious, okay?” He doesn’t know what’s going on.
Wen Qing breathes shallow, her nails digging into his left shoulder, “You can’t, you don’t mean you—”
A heavy ache starts to form in his temples, spreading like a raging fire, “Wen Qing” He grits, clenching his teeth to stop the pain. The hand on his shoulder burns. He quickly shrugs it off, eyes frantic, breathing heavily as he whispers, lost, “Who is Lan Wangji?”
The luxury of going down the mountain to the town of Yiling had been long lost to Wei Wuxian. With his constant need to be let free, the Burial Mounds had quickly made him restless. Restless to venture and try new things.
But with all of the Burial Mound’s resentful energy now tied to him, he could not go any further. And by each passing day, he spent in the mountain making it harder and more taxing on him to even visit the town for a short period of time. His body already weak with the lack of his golden core, getting even frailer as he walks further into the town.
Wei Wuxian tightly holds a restless A-Yuan’s hand, making sure that he will not lose him in the ever-present crowd. Wen Qing had been pretty adamant to make him leave with A-Yuan. The only reason he got being, “A-Yuan needs to get off here. Constant exposure to this much resentful energy is not good for him”
Unable to refute anything she had said, Wei Wuxian had agreed. Wen Qing had been fiercer yet more gentle with him after his episode in the cave. If her eyes held sadness before, they now overflowed with guilt and sorrow. He remembers their late-night talks about……something and Wen Qing putting her medical needles to use, “To check how your body is reacting to the energy” She had had said. It all ended with Wei Wuxian blacking out mid-conversation.
By the time he came back to his senses, Wen Qing acted as nothing had happened. It was weird but Wei Wuxian had just shrugged it off. If it was something important, he would remember, right?
A sudden tug brings him back to the present, A-Yuan’s little hand pulling him towards a stall adorned with various types of toys for kids. Wei Wuxian feels a smile tug on his lips. Picking up the little bundle of joy in his arms, Wei Wuxian walks to the counter. The stall owner greets him with enthusiasm, “Welcome little Gongzi!” Wen Yuan squeals in delight. “What would you like to buy? I have a variety of toys here” The owner continues, wriggling one of the wooden birds in front of him.
Wei Wuxian smiles, “A-Yuan, you see this? This was my favorite when I was your age!” He beams, pointing to one of the brown rattles from the basket. The memories of his parents briefly flash in his head but he quickly shakes them off.
“They are so pretty” A-Yuan pouts. Oh, this is his I want to look.
“Do you want to buy one?”
A-Yuan nods excitedly, jumping in his arms, “Yes!”
Wei Wuxian chuckled, “Kids,” He says and bows to the vendor once before walking away to the one stall selling somewhat look likes sprouted potatoes.
Wen Yuan remains still in his arms for a few seconds before the tears fill his big eyes, lower lip quivering, “Xian Ge!” He sniffles, “Put me down!”
Wei Wuxian obeys not wanting to aggravate the poor boy more. He still takes the hold of his hand before he could walk away. Wen Yuan being the little angel he is barely throws any tantrums after being rejected for the toy, follows him while sniffling quietly.
Wei Wuxian knows he is doing wrong. He really wished he could buy everything the boy demanded from him. But sustaining on the little money they had didn’t let them afford any kind of luxury. They barely had enough to eat sometimes.
He finds his way to the potato seller, wincing at the already echoing lecture he will surely be getting from Wen Qing.
The vendor first welcomes him with a big smile but then it drops as Wei Wuxian keeps on pointing out the sprouts on them. He manages to get them pretty cheap.
Happy with his bargaining, Wei Wuxian looks down at Wen Yuan, “A-Yuan, we will have potatoes today!”
He turns pale when he sees no one next to him. He frantically looks around, trying to catch the familiar brown robes.
“A-Yuan” He yells, pushing through the crowd.
He can’t believe he just lost him. He was there with him, how can he be so careless, how can-
The sound of crying reaches his ears and Wei Wuxian sprints to it. He squirms his way through the circle of people and what he sees as he reaches the front, makes him relieved and……...warm?
Wrapped around the leg of a stranger is A-Yuan. What makes him stop dead is the stranger itself. The man wears pristine white robes, a majestic sword tucked by his sides.
A dull ache spread through Wei Wuxian’s chest.
His eyes linger on the stranger standing before him, Wen Yuan crying holding onto him. The sight fills him with a warmth he has never felt before. The stranger looks uncomfortable, his golden, oh so perfect, eyes darting everywhere to get some help, all the people around him whispering.
“Such a bad father! Why is he not picking his child up?”
“Aiya, he must be a new father. It gets like this sometimes”
One particularly high screech from A-Yuan makes the man awkwardly pat his head. Wei Wuxian can’t help the smile that creeps upon his face. For a moment, the weird emptiness fills up, making it easier for him to breathe.
Wei Wuxian tries to recall the angelic face before him. He had been long enough in the sect business to know almost everyone. But this man, he can’t put a name on his face. He knows he is a Lan, the well-known forehead ribbon, the symbol of their restraint, is something difficult to miss. And so are the pure white mourning robes.
A clash of swords rings in his head and Wei Wuxian stumbles on his feet.
Wei Wuxian collects himself quickly, before darting out to A-Yuan.
“A-Yuan” The boy turns to look at him and rushes to his side, crying out loudly. Wei Wuxian kneels to the ground taking the crying boy in his arms, “Shh, A-Yuan. Don’t cry” He mummers.
“Don’t leave me like that again, okay? You scared me there” Wiping one stary tear from his eyes, Wei Wuxian flicks his nose. A-Yuan laughs.
“Wei Ying” Hearing his name, Wei Wuxian turns. The golden-eyed stranger is looking at him with such a relief that Wei Wuxian fidgets under it.
“Umm, I’m sorry for this trouble. Thank you for taking care of him, Gongzi” He bows, not missing the sudden hitch from him.
When their eyes meet again, he is surprised. Wei Wuxian did not expect the pain to shadow that ethereal face, those beautiful golden eyes filling with confusion and hurt. He doesn’t miss the twitching hands that stayed glued to his sides.
He should not look sad. Who are you? Why are you so sad?
“Wei Ying?” The stranger whispers like someone had plucked his heart out. The familiar sound of his birth name coiling his insides. Who is he to call him with such familiarity? Someone Wei Wuxian allowed this privilege to call him Wei Ying?
Wei Wuxian is lost, his arms instinctively tighten his grip on Wen Yuan, holding him close. The man is still staring at him as he had
In the end, Wei Wuxian has to ask, “Um…do we” Motioning with his hand between them, he continues “Know each other?”
The hurt intensifies and Wei Wuxian feels his breathing shallow, “I don’t think we have” He feels the need to defend himself. He can’t let this man think less of him.
“I will never forget such a handsome face! Everyone says I have a bad memory but I think it will be a crime to forget you…” He trails, watching the man shrink into himself. He looks so small, no.
He is ready to shower countless apologies but the man silences him as he lifts his golden eyes to once again look right through Wei Wuxian, “Wei Ying, don’t fool around. Tell me what is wrong. Tell me what I did wrong”
If he was confused before, he is even more now.
Wei Wuxian shakes his head frantically, shifting closer to the stranger, “Wrong? I don’t think anyone like you can do anything wrong” Even he is surprised by the sheer finality he speaks the words with like they are a fact.
“Ah,” He says sheepishly, “I don’t know why I said that. I don’t even know your name!”
The strangers’ brows furrow even more and he takes one closer to him. Wei Wuxian instinctively takes one step back, hand rushing to Chenqing hidden carefully in his outer robe.
It feels wrong, he thinks, shrinking away from you.
“Don’t act like a stranger, Wei Ying” The man says in that beautiful melodic voice of his, the tinge of raw desperation and sorrow not going unnoticed by Wei Wuxian.
Not knowing whether to laugh or not, Wei Wuxian gulps. Those golden eyes observe him strangely for a while, “I’m Lan Wangji, courtesy name Lan Zhan” He says cautiously, eyes not leaving his.
It takes a moment for him to realize that this stranger is talking to him. He tries to process the name, “Lan Zhan?”
White, guqin, mine
Wei Wuxian doesn’t feel that he is swaying on his feet until the stranger rushes to him, one hand supporting A-Yuan and taking him from his arms while the other manages to slip to his waist.
The touch tingles, he likes it.
“La—" Wei Wuxian tries, but the name just runs away from him. The last thing he sees is the concerned stranger’s face hovering over his before his world blackens out once again.
Coming here to Yiling under the disguise of a night hunt, Lan Wangji had been prepared for a lot of things. Anger, Hatred, Rejection, anything. After their encounter at the Phoenix Mountain, Lan Wangji had realized that Wei Wuxian didn’t hate him, at least not enough for him to actively act on it. It had been enough, Lan Wangji had thought then. He did not want anything more, did not expect Wei Wuxian to show him any affection.
But standing here in the overly hot town of Yiling with Wei Wuxian holding a child, his smile never faltering as he asks Lan Wangji, “Do I know you?”
A few weeks ago, he had been so tempted to meet him that he couldn’t help but leave right after he woke up and make the trip to Yiling without informing anyone. He was not happy when Wen Qing had greeted him at the entrance informing him that he was asleep. Not wanting to disturb him, Lan Wangji had just left without meeting him.
Lan Wangji had steeled himself for everything but nothing could prepare him for Wei Wuxian to just pretend to not know him. The flood of emotions that had hit him was dizzying. But then, Lan Wangji sensed that something was wrong.
Wei Wuxian is an honorable person. No matter how much he might hate him, this kind of childish play is above him. His Wei Ying will never do this to me. Something is wrong and Lan Wangji will do everything he can to stay by his side and help him, no matter what the consequences.
Far away from all the sects, Lan Wangji is not Hanguang Jun, he is Lan Wangji, Wei Wuxian’s Lan Zhan.
His heart pounds against his ribcage like it wanted to break free and reach Wei Wuxian’s own. But the bare genuine confusion on his face makes Lan Wangji stop. There are plenty of questions raging inside of him, burning the tip of his tongue,
What happened Wei Ying? Who is this child? Why don’t you let me help?
Instead of asking those, he whispers his name like it might solve everything.
“I’m Lan Wangji, courtesy name Lan Zhan,” He says cautiously, eyes not leaving Wei Wuxian’s. He sees plenty of emotions scrunch upon his face. He sees the smallest hint of recognition creep into his eyes and his heart leaps but then it washes away.
He moves fast when Wei Wuxian sways. Lan Wangji doesn’t get to utter another word before he takes the confused child from Wei Ying’s arms, holding Wei Wuxian to his chest.
“Wei Ying” He whispers, pain lacing his voice.
“La—” Wei Wuxian says, those starlight silver eyes turning to him before he falls limp in his arms, his head lolling on his shoulder.
Lan Wangji did not want to return to Yiling like this. A child clinging to him for dear life and an unconscious Wei Wuxian lying unconscious in his arms, the stillness of his ever-moving body making Lan Wangji’s worry rise.
Not wanting to travel by sword, even if he wanted to get Wei Ying to safety, Lan Wangji opts to walk. Not wanting his own fears to cause another accident. His arms tighten around Wei Wuxian.
The ever-present ominous presence of the Burial Mounds is something no one can ever ignore. The prickling under his skin almost unbearable as Lan Wangji finally reaches the entrance of the Burial Mounds.
Just like the last time he was here, his core senses the various barriers and arrays put around the whole mountain. He senses them but they do nothing to stop him. It has confused him then. Is something wrong with them? Are they not working?
But knowing how talented Wei Ying was with them, he knew, no he hoped that it was because it was him.
A swirl of freezing resentful energy curls on his feet. Lan Wangji does nothing to push it away. It didn’t feel aggressive but actually concerned. He lets them be as he passes the intricate wards on the entrance easily.
He stops in his tracks.
Wei Ying, is this how you live? I’m sorry
He passes the thick trees, the dried branches scratching his arms as he shields the two in his arms. There is a sudden drop in temperature, the energy around sucked out of the air. Lan Wangji tightens his grip on Bichen.
But then, the trees part for him. Lan Wangji watches awestruck. He follows the tiny surge of energy that keeps pulling him towards itself.
He wonders how stuffing it must be for all the Wen remnants and Wei Ying to live here. He doesn’t know for how long he walks but soon the trees thin out and Lan Wangji is greeted by Wen Qing standing in front of the base, a dagger pointed right at him.
She looks angry, ready to pounce as her eyes take in the unconscious Wei Wuxian a crying A-Yuan.
“Lan Wangji” She grits out, “What is the meaning of this? What happened?”
Lan Wangji bows, “Wen guniang, Wei Ying…he…...” He trails not knowing how to put what happened into words.
But to his surprise, Wen Qing takes a step closer to him and motions for him to give A-Yuan to her.
He obeys even when she asks him to follow her.
Lying Wei Ying carefully on the stone bed Wen Qing had guided him to, he takes in a deep breath. His hands hovering over his face not daring to touch. He doesn’t think Wei Wuxian will welcome that.
Wen Qing sees it as she finishes checking his pulse, “He wouldn’t mind it, Hanguang Jun”
He wants to believe it but he won’t dare. Still, to quench the desire in his heart, Lan Wangji succumbs to it and lowers his hand, brushing his hair away from his face.
“What happened?” He asks and keeps his hand in his laps, settling next to Wei Ying.
Wen Qing sighs, “I don’t know. The day you came before, I went to inform him. I…” She looks away.
“He doesn’t remember me” Lan Wangji’s heart clenches as he gets the words out.
“He doesn’t,” Wen Qing says, keeping her voice low. And the shadows on her face tell Lan Wangji enough. Wei Wuxian doesn’t remember him.
Lan Wangji swallows the panic and asks, “What happened?”
Wen Qing sighs heavily, doing nothing to subdue his worry. She motions for him to follow her. Lan Wangji twitches, staring at Wei Wuxian’s unconscious form, reluctant to leave him.
“He will be okay. At least for now” Lan Wangji walks behind her.
Stopping at a safe distance from him, Wen Qing gulps.
“It looks like you are the only person he doesn’t remember. Since that day, I have talked to him, trying my best to look for what might be the cause. He is physically well. I couldn’t sense any curse marks or spells”
Lan Wangji stays silent, trying to process her words. He doesn’t remember me. Wei Ying doesn’t remember me.
“It might be a complicated curse” Wen Qing adds.
Lan Wangji doesn’t understand why she feels the need to comfort him, does he look that obviously miserable?
Wen Qing continues, “Even though I can’t sense anything does not mean nothing has happened. But without knowing the nature of the curse or spell, I can’t suggest any diagnosis”
Immediately, Lan Wangji adds, “He fainted when I introduced myself. Has that happened before?”
Wen Qing’s features stutters, “Wei Wuxian, didn’t faint but he did get weak. His body deteriorates Hanguang Jun” She whispers, her face twisting in worry.
“Every time I talk to him and if he remembers, he just…...goes blank. It is different every time. He goes still, his eyes hazes over and the worst, the last time I mentioned you……he…”
Lan Wangji swallows the lump in his throat, “He what?”
“He lost control”
Lost control, he thinks, a dawning realization shakes his entire body.
No, he can’t lose him. Not his Wei Ying.
“You know, if that continues to happen, then it might actually” Wen Qing pauses, but Lan Wangji hears her all the same.
If he remembers you, he will die.
Lan Wangji doesn’t reply, his entire world crashing down all at once.
Maybe it is for the best, you never did anything for him, you never protected him, his mind supplies.
“Don’t talk to him about me” He says abruptly, a flaring desire to kill the person responsible for this, tear him apart, for removing him from Wei Wuxian’s life.
Since they first met at Cloud Recesses, he has always had Wei Wuxian’s full attention. Be it in the form of some ridiculous and shameless actions, at least he was there, calling Lan Zhan’s name in his melodic voice. And now, there meeting flashes in his head again and he sighs, deep and heavy.
“But he….” Wen Qing tries but Lan Wangji shakes his head.
“I will find the person responsible. Until then,” Lan Wangji bows, “Please take care of him”
Wen Qing’s returning stare is determined as she bows back, “I will Hanguang Jun. I owe him my life”
Lan Wangji nods, walking away from her and to the person, he considers his soulmate.
Taking his utterly pale and thin wrist in his, Lan Wangji checks his pulse. Nothing seems out of the ordinary, it's too empty.
He checks again his hands shaking as keeps checking and checking, hoping to find something that he soon realizes is not there.
Stunned, horrified, and confused – Lan Wangji stares down at Wei Ying's peacefully sleeping form, and every single interaction the two have had since he had returned in the middle of the Sunshot campaign suddenly makes sense.
The horrifying guilt bubbles in his chest. Oh, Wei Ying, I’m so sorry.
He should have guessed. He should have realized early on. He should have done something. He wants to slap himself for the sword fight he had with him, wants to slash himself with his own sword for saying such harsh words to him, to his Wei Ying.
It all makes sense now. His new cultivation and all his actions. Him not carrying Suibian he once loved to show off. How sacred he must have been, so alone all the while the cultivation world belittled him.
He doesn’t sense when Wen Qing comes behind him. “Now you know Hanguang Jun. Why he did what he did”
Lan Wangji doesn’t cry, not right now, not in front of anyone. “When did this happen?” He manages to get out without his voice cracking.
“It is not my secret to tell” Is what he gets.
He doesn’t need more. He will make it right; he vows to himself right there.
This time, he allows himself the need for touch. He brings Wei Wuxian’s hand to his forehead, his forehead ribbon touching his cold knuckles, “I’m sorry, Wei Ying”
Gently keeping his hand back on his chest, Lan Wangji bows to Wen Qing again, “I will come back” he hands her one spiritual energy-fused communication note.
“If anything happens, send this to me. I will come as soon as I can. If I might need your assistance, I will reach you through his aswell”
“Thank you, Hanguang Jun. Wei Wuxian will wait for you,”
Lan Wangji doesn’t reply. He doesn’t think he is capable of, deserving of Wei Wuxian waiting for him.
With one last lingering look at Wei Wuxian’s sleeping form, Lan Wangji walks away. He will protect his Wei Ying. Even if he has to stay away from him, forgotten by his soulmate, he will do it in a heartbeat.
And Lan Wangji leaves. His heart heavy with guilt and remorse, legs heavy likes something had physically restrained him from going away. But he knows he has to. For Wei Ying’s sake. He will get him to remember him and if not, then he will protect him from the side-lines, always forgotten.
And so, Lan Wangji leaves the Burial Mounds with a trail of gleaming Pink camellias behind him.
It’s night, by the time Wei Wuxian wakes up. He has never liked the night, never appreciated the chilled silence it brought along with it. He can feel the ever-present energy beside him, it's warm today, he realizes. Gentle as a mother’s touch. Wei Wuxian closes his eyes, savoring the warmth. It’s like they are trying to apologize.
We couldn’t stop it, he thinks he hears, we are sorry.
He relishes the way the presence keeps his otherwise haywire brain at ease tonight. He snuggles closer, all the tension in his body leaving him. He starts to hum a song then, losing himself in the moonlight. It makes his heart speed up, tears prickling his eyes.
Where have you heard this from Wei Wuxian? Where did you get the privilege to hear the tune of two lovers?
He keeps humming, the presence beside him almost elated. Wei Wuxian laughs, “You like it that much? Maybe I should keep humming it huh? Or I can play it on Chenqing? Ahhh, I’m too lazy to do that right now. Maybe tomorrow, okay?” He says, a smile forming on his lips. It’s nice, this night is nice, bearable.
Who might the composer be, how much love do they have for every note has their own story?
Wei Wuxian falls asleep, humming the beautiful tune, longing for the love he can never have.
Many weeks pass just like this. With Wen Ning finally awake, the Wens rejoiced, their little family finally complete. After some hard work, they even managed to grow radishes and a small lotus pond in the Burial Mounds. Things were difficult but they were happy and safe.
It was a day spent the same way. Waking up, gardening, talisman working, babysitting and talisman working, and then a stern Wen Qing scolding him to sleep with Wen Ning trailing behind her. Wei Wuxian fell asleep with a smile on his face.
The sun is just beginning to rise by the time Wei Wuxian wakes up. It’s chilly again. Still, too early for anyone to be awake, Wei Wuxian sighs.
Left with his own thoughts has never been good for him. His mind wanders into things he should think about, things he can’t think about anymore.
Is Shi-Jie happy? Is Jin Zixuan treating her right? Is she happy?
He hadn’t known much, what had been happening in the outer world. The news o his shi Jie's wedding preparations had reached his ears, the Jins are outdoing themselves this time, the wedding is going to be the grandest the world had ever seen, Wei Wuxian had overheard.
Oh, how delighted he had been, for his shi-Jie deserved nothing but the best. It was a shame he wouldn’t be invited.
But a seed of hope had planted itself in him when his wards had alerted him about a threat.
With his heart in his throat, Wei Wuxian had instantly run out, keeping Chenqing close to him.
His steps had been cautious, pace slow, ears attentive as he had gotten closer to the wards.
Are they here for him already? Are they—
But then a sight of golden robes and a scowling face had greeted him, “Wei Wuxian” Jin Zixuan had greeted. His face pained as if even his name repulsed him. Well, Wei Wuxian was no better, “Jin Zixuan”
His soon to become brother-in-law had shifted awkwardly on his feet, “Look, I’m not here to attack or anything okay? I’m here because Yanli wanted me here. So, you can lower your weapon”
Wei Wuxian hadn’t even noticed his hands clutching Chenqing painfully tight in his grip. Gulping, he had carefully put it in his belt.
“How is she? Is she okay”?
Jin Zixuan had nodded, “Yes, she is. Look I will not play around the bush, so Yanli wanted me to tell you that her wedding” He pauses, correcting himself, “Our wedding will be held in Carp tower after four days. Even though you would not be there, she wants you to know about this”
Wei Wuxian had swallowed the forming lump in his throat. His Shi-Jie would be getting married in four days. “Tell her I send my best wishes to her, and her husband”
Jin Zixuan had scoffed, “You can directly offer your wishes to her husband”
“Jin Zixuan” He had said, serious and stern.
Jin Zixuan had gone serious as well, posture straight and eyes trained on him when Wei Wuxian had said, “Take care of her. Don’t ever let her get sad. That is all I want for her, her to happy and away from all the discomfort of life”
Jin Zixuan had nodded, “That is something we both agree on, Wei Wuxian” And with one last bow to him, he had walked away from the mountain.
If Wei Wuxian had drunk too much of Uncle four’s brewed alcohol that night, then that was his business only.
Wei Wuxian’s thoughts then drift to his brother.
How is Jiang Cheng doing? Is La—, The headache comes back.
Wei Wuxian grumbles, rubbing his temples to ease the pain. There is an unexplainable itch in his head. Body restless, he stands up, the need to go and find taking over his mind.
Find it and sing, find it and sing.
He follows them, letting them guide him out of his cave. That is when he sees something in the darkness. He walks to it like a moth to light. He wobbles through the way, finding the gleaming flower.
They form a path, he realizes.
He chuckles, “You guys, who are these for now?” Kneeling, he brushes his flowers against the petals, relishing the tingling it leaves on his fingers, “Are they for me?”
The flower gleams even more, “Okay, okay. I get it”
He feels a push against his back. He stumbles ahead, “What? You want me to follow it?”
The air whooshes around him as Wei Wuxian takes a step ahead. It feels right, as he keeps following the trail. Every flower gleaming under the half-lidden sun still rising on the horizon.
Go and find it, they encourage.
He keeps following the guiding presence until they bring him to the foot of the mountain, right where the protection wards begin. The presence stays and he feels them squeal in delight.
“Ah? Why are you all so happy? What even—” He stops, eyes taking in the bed of flowers in front of him.
Wei Wuxian chuckles, “Wow, what a sight for sore eyes. Thank you for this much work huh”
Walking to the flowers, he lays down next to them, the moonlight calming him.
“Aiya, maybe I should just sleep here today,” He says to himself, closing his eyes and letting the serenity take over him.
Sleep Well, Wei Wuxian, the breeze whispers and Wei Wuxian falls asleep.
The next evening, Wen Qing insists that Wen Ning and he collects some herbs for her from the mountain.
“I need it to make a medicine for Granny, see if you two can find it” She had said and walked away before adding, “A-Ning knows what it looks like and where it grows, he will guide you” A silent look had been exchanged between the siblings, making a pang of nostalgia shudder through him. He had that once as well.
So, here he is with Wen Ning, sauntering under the night sky, looking for the herb.
“I didn’t know there were any useful herb grew in this place”
“Jie had used it before, it is useful,” Wen Ning says, walking behind him.
The sun is edging on the horizon, dipping back into the folds, basking the entire mountain in its light hues.
“Wen Ning, are we there yet?”
Wen Ning jogs to his side, “We have a bit more to go, Wei Gongzi”
Wei Wuxian tsks. It’s not like he has anything better to do anyway. Walking like this with Wen Ning behind him is meditative. Moments like this with his newfound family make all his decisions feels worth it. It is not like he regrets them at all, but the weed of what-ifs are hard to get out.
Shaking his head, Wei Wuxian begins, “This her—" He cuts himself off, moving on pure instinct as he pushes Wen Ning behind him, sensing another foreign presence in the area, his body on high alert.
“Wei Gong—” Wei Wuxian shushes him, taking small steps towards the thickly lined trees.
He sees a shadow in the trees as he squints, taking cautious steps towards it.
The shadow shifts on his feet. Wei Wuxian flinches away, his hand grabbing Chenqing from his belt. He holds it protectively in front of him all the while walking until he reaches the figure, close enough to see him clearly.
Near the beginning of the mountain, cloaked by the night, stands another man. Someone with a golden core, he senses, without a sword by his sides. His clothes show no affiliation to any clan, just plain brown standard robes.
Wei Wuxian wants to panic. Someone is here. A cultivator is here, an unknown cultivator who is ready to kill him. But for some reason, he can’t.
Trust him, my boy, they whisper into his ear, he is no threat, trust him.
Still, Wei Wuxian halts. He is ready to put him into a trap before Wen Ning runs to the stranger.
“Wen Ning!” Wei Wuxian yells, trying to get a hold of him.
Wei Wuxian is panicking as Wen Ning stops right in front of him. He is aware of how strong Wen Ning is. He can easily fend for himself there but Wei Wuxian is too worried to just stand here. He needs to run—
“We have been so worried for you” Wen Ning’s voice is muted over his own raging panic.
Huh? Worried for you? Does Wen Ning know him?
The stranger nods at Wen Ning who is smiling as he had just gotten a perfect radish out of the ground.
The two talk in hushed voices, completely ignoring him standing a few steps away from them. It feels weird, Wei Wuxian thinks, the way Wen Ning and this stranger interact with such familiarity.
Who is this man? How does Wen Ning know him?
Wei Wuxian is too lost in his own mind, thousands of questions swirling inside of him. He doesn’t see when the two of them had turned to him, Wen Ning smiling as his voice reaches his ear, “Wei Gongzi!”
Seeing the still present hesitance in his posture, Wen Ning adds, “Wei Gongzi, I know him. He is a member of our branch of the clan! We had lost him when we were in hiding”
Only believing in Wen Ning’s words, Wei Wuxian takes a step ahead. His eyes are unable to draw back from the still hidden behind the shadow’s face.
And then, the man turns. Wei Wuxian tenses momentarily. Golden eyes meet his own and Wei Wuxian’s breath hitches in his throat. Those ethereal molten gold irises as if the heavens had poured their most precious nectar into them, carefully crafted them to precision, pulling him in.
It stirred a deeply hidden hollowness inside of him, leaving him wanting more. He takes an unconscious step towards the stranger.
One more, one more, until he is standing right in front of him. From this close, he can see the structured jawline of the man, the slope of his nose, the plump of his cheeks, his plain forehead.
Plain forehead? Why does Wei Wuxian feel a thought ready to clog at the bare forehead? Like something, he is not allowed to see? Like he should do something and cover it up? Why does he feel such a possessiveness brewing inside of him?
“Wei Wuxian,” The melodic voice says. Wei Wuxian almost melts right then and there. His name has never sounded more lovely. There is a touch of uncharacteristic hoarseness that itches him.
“Who are you?” He asks, the body still on alert but a heart filled with warmth. The emptiness he had been feeling for all these months finally subsiding a bit making him feel whole again.
The man steps to him, with the elegance that is familiar and answers, “You can call me, Wen Zhan”
I may have found some ways to identify the curse. There is nothing concrete as of yet but I can assure you that they are safe and I would like to try them.
There is some assistance I require from you and your family.
I will be under a disguise, please know that I will be fully cautious to not aggravate his condition. He will know me as Wen Zhan, a cultivator from your branch of the clan. You had lost me when your family was captured and assumed I had met my demise. I’m planning to come to burial mounds tomorrow night, as if I have just broken free from the Jins. I would like Wen Gongzi to be in Yiling, near the base of the mountain, outside the main wards along with Wei Ying.
I will need your family to assist me in my story. Please help me.
That fateful night becomes the start of something Wei Wuxian never thought he could have.
Still a bit skeptical, Wei Wuxian had checked the man thoroughly, patted his robes, checked for anything that might be a harm to them. He had come empty-handed, the man had nothing on him, save for a dagger that he had surrendered to Wei Wuxian the moment Wen Ning insisted he brought him with them to others.
The Wens had been so happy to see him, hugging him, checking him for any injuries. Wen Qing had barely bowed at him, the two silently communicating. And that had been enough to vanish all his doubts about Wen Zhan. It was not easy to be this familiar with Wen Qing, and the way they talked showed how much they trusted each other.
Once everyone had had a talk with him, Wen Qing had pulled him and Wen Zhan to a side, making them sit beside each other.
“Wei Wuxian” She had said, “I hope you will let him stay here with us”
Wei Wuxian had spluttered, “Qing Jie, how can I not let your family stay with you? I won’t do that to you. And how can you even ask this of me” Pouting, he had crossed his arms over his chest like a little child.
To his surprise, a fond smile had taken over her face as she ruffled his hair making Wei Wuxian squeak, a warmth spreading into his chest.
“This is my home as much as it is mine Wei Wuxian. I can’t make all the decisions here alone”
Wei Wuxian had shaken his head, chuckling, “Alright, fine. Wen Zhan” The man in question had raised his head at his mention. Wei Wuxian had patted his back, making Wen Zhan lose his impeccable posture, his face affronted.
“Welcome to the family Wen Zhan”
Wei Wuxian and Wen Zhan, he can’t explain how they fit. He doesn’t talk much yet Wei Wuxian feels he hears him. He hears him through all his little actions.
He tells the Wens how he had gotten separated from the family after running into Jins and gone into hiding. He had thought he had lost his family but then the news of them being in Wei Wuxian’s protection in the Burial Mounds had reached him and he had come here.
Wei Wuxian sees him talk, the way the apple of his neck bobbing as he talked. It was soothing, his voice, his presence.
He had stayed behind when the Wens had gone to sleep, helping Wei Wuxian with whatever he could.
“Aiya! Wen Zhan, let me do this. You go sleep”
Wen Zhan had merely shaken his head, “I would like to help you” And who was Wei Wuxian to refuse that offer?
Wen Zhan had become important to him, the few weeks he had stayed here. He heard him ramble for hours, providing his insights wherever he could, telling him a bit he had known about the ongoings of the cultivation world.
One lazy afternoon, Wei Wuxian had absentmindedly mentioned how much he missed seeing rabbits.
Wen Zhan had stiffened next to him momentarily before relaxing and turning to him, “Rabbits?” He had asked.
“Hm, they are so cute! I haven’t seen them in a while. Anyways, ignore me. I tend to act a bit weird when I have nothing to do”
The next day, Wen Zhan had approached him as he had been working on a talisman and presented him something, his ears tinted red, “This is for you” He had whispered, kept something on his makeshift table, and walked away.
Confused, Wei Wuxian had looked down and had almost started to cry. For a leaf greeted his eyes, carefully engraved with two small fluffy rabbits, cuddled next to each other. He had picked the leaf gently in his hands and held it to his chest, fondness taking over all his senses. It was too precious; Wen Zhan was too precious.
When Wei Wuxian had sprinted to him, stopping him with a grip on his shoulder and whispered, “Thank you”
Wen Zhan’s lips had tilted into a barely their smile, like gentle snow gleaming under the sunlight, and said ever so lightly, “No need of thank you’s between us. You deserve more, Wei Wuxian”
“Wei Ying” Wei Wuxian had blurted out. Wei Wuxian somehow sounded wrong coming from Wen Zhan.
Wen Zhan’s eyes had widened minutely before the smile became fonder. Wei Wuxian’s heart had stuttered.
“Wei Ying” He had said so softly that Wei Wuxian’s insides crumbled. This, this sounded right, like he was meant to be Wei Ying to Wen Zhan.
“Then call me A-Zhan from now” Wen Zhan had said and walked away, leaving Wei Wuxian to whisper, “A-Zhan”
That had sounded right as well, the sound A-Zhan on his lips.
Wen Zhan is different and he likes it. Wei Wuxian likes him, a lot. He doesn’t care that he is the Yiling Laozu. He had asked him once and the only reply he got was,
I stay with you because you are Wei Ying, you are good.
Even though he wanted to remain cautious, never sharing too much. But this feeling of trust he felt was unexplainable. Even they sang when he stayed with him, laughed with and even cried with him.
One of those nights was the day of his Shijie’s wedding. He had let himself cry on his shoulder, the man’s steady arms holding him close, the scent of sandalwood invading all his senses. He felt protected like nothing could touch him if he was enveloped in those arms.
He was being selfish, he knew that, asking him to come back to his cave every night. Even when he knew how visibly tired, he had been. Secretly it made him happy that even after asking him not to come, Wen Zhan still came the next time. It was heart-warming.
One night, Wen Qing had caught Wei Wuxian walking with Wen Zhan at midnight, just enjoying the starless sky. Wei Wuxian was ready for a ton of questions but all he had gotten was a small understanding smile and a gentle, “Take care”
One night, Wei Wuxian had succumbed to his desire and kissed his cheek. Wen Zhan had gone still but then he had taken his hand in his and kissed his palm. That night they had snuggled close to each other, watching the empty sky together.
Being here in the Burial Mounds with Wei Ying is a blessing Lan Wangji didn’t know he deserved. Away from all of his duties and the cultivation world, just being with Wei Ying, listening to him, helping him, doing everything with him.
It had been too nice, so nice that Lan Wangji had lost himself in the absolute bliss and let the purpose of his visit here linger on longer than necessary.
A talk with Wen Qing reminds of his purpose and that brings out more complications. After using all the subtle methods to know of the curse, he had gotten nothing. He had told Wen Qing as much.
“I have one last method I would like to try but I would need my Guqin for that”
Wen Qing had looked at him thoughtfully before a little smile had taken over her face, “You can ask Wei Wuxian to make you one since we are short on the money”
“Constructing a Guqin is……difficult to master”
“Are you doubting his talent?”
Lan Wangji’s eyes had widened, “Never”
Wen Qing had been satisfied with his answer and said, “Then ask him to make you one”
Lan Wangji had remained silent for long enough that Wen Qing had sighed, “La—”
“Wen Gongzi” She had corrected herself and continued, “Just ask him. He would never refuse anything you would ask of him”
That had made him swallow painfully, “He wouldn’t. Why would he?” He had mumbled more to himself.
Wen Qing’s face had softened and that moment it had felt like his brother was here with him, her expression just like Lan Xichen’s as she had said, “You would be surprised to see what he will do for you, A-Zhan”
Lan Wangji feels like his heart is going to flutter out of his chest, betraying all the emotions he had been keeping bundled inside of him for so long.
Wen Qing’s words had taken home in his heart, rooting itself deeply.
He will do anything for you, A-Zhan, and Lan Wangji had to say something, just to calm the storm inside of him. He had offhandedly mentioned how much he missed playing Guqin when they had been watching the sunset on the horizon.
Wei Wuxian had jolted immediately beside him, “Why didn’t you tell me before, A-Zhan? I have been wanting to do something for you for so long now. Well, we don’t have enough money to buy you one but I can definitely try to make one myself if I try. The strings though, I will have to buy them. I think you may be better at knowing what kind of wood we will need, so you will have to guide me A-Zhan!”
He had smiled at him so brightly that Lan Wangji could feel the warmth of his smile seep into his very soul.
He didn’t want to burden Wei Ying with this. But he needed his Guqin to find more about the curse. Since bringing his own here would have caused more complications.
Through the joint work of him and Wei Ying, both of them had successfully constructed one. It had been fun, Lan Wangji had to admit, working with Wei Ying like this.
A week later, Wei Wuxian had presented the final piece to him, gently placing the Guqin on the flat surface of his table.
“A-Zhan, play something for me?” He had said and Lan Wangji had smiled softly as Wei Ying had draped himself next to him, his face propped on his elbow as he had watched him pluck the strings.
Not knowing what song to play, he had shifted back to him, “What would Wei Ying like me to play?”
Wei Wuxian had looked thoughtfully at him and then gotten Chenqing out his belt.
“I don’t know the name of this song and where I have heard it, but I really like it. I will play it for you once and you can lay it back?”
Lan Wangji had nodded and Wei Wuxian had immediately brought Chenqing to his lips and begun to play.
Just as the first note had melted into the air, Lan Wangji had stiffened, his mind going blank.
Their song. He remembered.
The utter glee that had taken over him as Wei Ying had played the song, he had so carefully poured his heart into, was beyond words.
Not needing any more words, Lan Wangji had let his hands play the song that they had been so used to playing and matched Wei Wuxian’s notes with all the love he had for him. All the words he had never said to him.
I love you; one note had said.
I want to be with you forever, Wei Ying; another whispered.
They had shared a soft smile with each other, the moon gleaming over them as their notes played a love story still waiting to be written.
One of those nights, Lan Wangji had played the Song of Infiltration, a technique hidden from the eyes of all other sects. The objective of the song to infiltrate every fiber of the person the song was played for, entering the meridians where the golden core’s energy flared.
Lan Wangji knew how he was doing this without his consent, he could only hope that when Wei Ying recovers his memories, he would forgive him for this.
Wei Wuxian had his head on his shoulder, eyes closed as he hummed contentedly to the notes Lan Wangji played.
Taking a deep breath, Lan Wangji had changed the song, carefully melding it to the Song of Infiltration. The moment Lan Wangji had sensed the notes entering Wei Ying’s meridians, he had closed his eyes and let the music guide him.
In the absence of the golden energy that radiated from a core, Wei Wuxian’s meridians had been blank and dark, making Lan Zhan’s hand falter on the Guqin. He had let the notes guide him through every single meridian of his body moving upwards at every note.
That’s when Lan Wangji had found the barrier, a pink glow in his mind, a barrier of translucent pink energy clogging the thin membrane around his head.
Gulping down the instant shudder that had taken over him, he had let the music falter. Wei Wuxian had moved next to him, looking at him, searching.
“A-Zhan, are you okay?”
Lan Wangji had nodded, “Yes. Go to sleep” He had mumbled and gently guided Wei Ying’s head back to his shoulder, caressing his hair before getting them back on the Guqin strings.
He needed to go to Gusu, as soon as possible, he had thought as he had played their song for Wei Ying again.
Going back to Gusu possesses another complication. What is he supposed to tell Wei Ying? He can’t just leave without telling him anything and he didn’t want to leave without telling him but what is he supposed to say?
Wen Qing had provided him with a solution. A simple plan. Seclusion for a day, to help him heal his exhausted golden core.
Wei Ying had been concerned and asked Wen Qing repeatedly how he could help.
“He just needs to meditate, Wei Wuxian. Let him stay in Uncle four’s hut for the meditation. And no hovering nearby and disturbing him, okay?” Wen Qing had said sternly and Wei Wuxian had visibly deflated.
Lan Wangji had been unable to see his little pout and his slumped shoulders. He had always been weak for his Wei Ying. His body had moved on his own and his lips had touched Wei Ying’s cheek.
Wei Ying had gone stone still, eyes wide and hands froze. Lan Wangji had let himself smile, “I will be back, Wei Ying. I will be back to you” he had said and without waiting for any response, had turned and walked towards Uncle four’s hut.
I will be back for you Wei Ying; I will always come back to you.
Lan Wangji had left the same night after Wen Qing had made the coast clear. He had sped through his journey on Bichen, landing in Gusu by the morning. His spiritual energy reserves heavily depleted.
Entering the Cloud Recesses, Lan Wangji had wanted to go straight to the library. His brother had given him permission to go through the books in the forbidden section long back when he had proposed the idea of looking for ways to help Wei Wuxian. He had kept his findings secret, not giving more than he thought necessary. It was not that he didn’t trust his brother, but rather how he feels iffy over the company he keeps, it rubs him the wrong way.
Though the moment he had entered the Cloud Recesses, a disciple had stopped him midway to the library, informing him to visit his brother.
Lan Wangji had walked into the Hanshi, mood already sour as he seen Jin Guangyao sitting there, bowing at him over the tea. He had barely sat down before Lan Xichen had given him that I’m highly concerned look before telling him how Jin Guangshan had been ill for the past few weeks he had been away and passed away last night only.
“It had to be kept hidden to not make an uproar. Only my family and you two know about his” Jin Guangyao had said with that always irking smile of his.
Lan Wangji had already guessed what his brother’s next words to him were going to be, “They had found traces of resentful energy in his core”
Lan Wangji had clenched his fists, lips almost turning into a sneer, “Wei Ying is innocent”
Lan Xichen had merely sighed, eyes full of pity, “Wangji, I know you think highly of Wei Gongzi, but his actions in the past have not been very…trustworthy”
“Wei Ying is trustworthy. He will never do anything like this”
Lan Wangji had shaken his head, “Xiongzhang” With a tone laced with finality, Lan Wangji had said, “My trust in Wei Ying is unwavering. He will never covet to such evil ways to gain power. He does not want it”
Pausing, he had shared a long look with his brother, “As for the Wen remnants, I had been there in the Burial Mounds. They are not a threat. Wei Ying is not a threat”
Lan Xichen had remained silent for a while before saying, “I will take your words for this Wangji but the cultivation world is already putting the blame on him. There has been no one else who is talented enough to control the energy like Wei Gongzi. Unless you provide us with evidence, he is the only culprit we have”
Lan Wangji had no words to say, only a fiery determination. With a last bow to his brother and Jin Guangyao, he had left for the library again. Searching for the root of the curse had gotten even more urgent. Lan Wangji was sure that the person who had cursed Wei Wuxian and the person who had cast that illness on Jin Guangshan is the same person, the two incidents too coincidental to not be connected.
With a new set of determination, Lan Wangji walks to the forbidden section of the library then, not wanting to waste more precious time than he already had.
The day he had first checked Wei Wuxian’s curse, it had a kernel of something familiar. A spark of energy that had a touch of a feeling he had grown up with. That had been the first clue for him to start looking for curses that used music cultivation as a base.
The curse was tricky, meant to be discreet. But all curses left something behind. Yet he couldn’t find anything. No curse marks, no change in spiritual energy, not affecting anything else but what it was meant to. And in Wei Wuxian’s case, it had been his memories.
That had been the part Lan Wangji was stuck with. Why did it only make him forget Lan Wangji? What was the curse aiming for? Who was Lan Wangji to Wei Wuxian?
Wei Wuxian had said he once considered him his Zhiji. Did he still hold that place in his heart?
The pink hue barrier he had found that day had led him to the section of the library he had hesitated to check before, love curses.
The sun is already setting by the time Lan Wangji finds it. After an extensive search under the surprising number of materials on the love curses, Lan Wangji finally finds something that matched.
Under the collection of turmoil, a book that has all the songs meant to do the opposite of what the Lan Clan prided themselves in, Lan Wangji finds The Song of Oblivion.
- The Song of Oblivion -
If played for someone, it will make the memories of the people they hold the dearest to their heart disappear.
The only way to remove the curse…...a torn page meets his eyes.
The torn page rises the alarms inside of him. No one from the Gusu Clan could have done this. No one but the sect leader had access to it. Not even he could walk inside without any permission.
Lan Wangji already had some culprits in his mind, well, more like only one. But without any proof, all his assumption is just that, an assumption. No one would believe him and if Lan Wangji knew anything about his culprit, it was the way he had a strong grasp of the magic of words. He is quite sure that he would not be able to out him with mere words.
When Lan Wangji finally emerges out of the forbidden section, right before the curfew, he is conflicted. He does not want to wait. But it might be better if he plans everything before leaving.
His feet take him to Hanshi again. This time, he finds his brother alone, ready to sleep. But with a gentle smile, he lets him in.
Their movement is a mimic of their morning meeting, but this time as Lan Wangji tells him he will leave in the morning, Lan Xichen only sighs, resigned.
“I can do nothing to stop you, can I?” He shakes his head, looking at Lan Wangji with nothing but concern in his eyes as he says, “Take care, Wangji”
"Wei Wuxian has captured Hanguang Jun!"
"Wei Wuxian has really gone mad! How dare he!”
“How can he take such a mighty cultivator hostage this easily?"
"He must be getting more powerful staying there in the Burial Mounds"
"Who knows what kind of army he is building with those despicable Wen dogs. We have to stop him now"
"Did you hear about the urgent conference called by the Jins?"
“Yes! We should go. They might make a decision tomorrow, let's leave tonight!”
“I would love to see Wei Wuxian get what he deserves. Let’s go”
The cultivators rush out of the inn, stricken by the news of Yiling Laozu taking Hanguang Jun hostage.
Lan Wangji should have known better; he thinks now as the array keeps him immobile. Sealing his spiritual energy, the moment he had stepped into it. He should have known better when he had trusted his brother’s trust in Jin Guangyao and told him he would leave in the morning.
This wasn’t how things should have gone. He should have been in the Burial mounds right now, having a discussion with Wen Guniang about the curse. Not here sitting in the array, trying to set himself free but to no avail.
An arrow should not have lodged itself into his arm making Lan Wangji falter on his sword, barely managing to stay upright in the air. His instincts are barely able to catch him from crushing onto the ground.
The array he has to say is impressive. Every character, every stroke meant to seal the spiritual energy and weaken the body, rendering the captive immobile. He studies it carefully, trying to find anything that can help him destroy it.
And then again, just like always, he finds his mind filled with Wei Ying’s voice, “Aiyah Lan Zhan! This is easy, we can solve it together, Here, first, these strokes here…” His voice blooms in his mind and Lan Wangji can’t help the huff that pulls out of his chest.
But then the illusion falls and Lan Wangji finds himself alone once again, helpless. The only movement the array allows him is his face. He can blink, talk and move his head but that is it.
Does his brother know he is here? Does he know that he is stuck here in this array in a deep forest? Would he be looking for him right now? Would anyone find him? Would Wei Ying even know he is here? Oh, he must already be looking for him or at least looking for A-Zhan.
With thoughts of his Wei Ying swirling in his head and panic taking over him, Lan Wangji falls into a sudden sleep.
The sun is barely over the horizon when Lan Wangji comes back to himself, still stuck in the array, panicking beyond himself. He checks the array again but finds himself in the same condition.
The rustle of leaves behind him makes Lan Wangji whip his head in the direction, his neck barely taking the strain and he winces.
“Lan er-gongzi, take it easy, please,” The person behind him says, that irritating calm tone making Lan Wangji grit his teeth.
“I would not want anything happening to you. I don’t think your brother would like to see you returned to him with any physical damage” He says in that weirdly polite tone of his. Lan Wangji easily picks up the stress on physical damage.
Jin Guangyao smiles, stopping to stand right in front of his kneeling form. The position makes Lan Wangji angry. He wishes he could slap that smile off his face.
“Why?” Is the only word Lan Wangji asks, glaring at the man.
Jin Guangyao shakes his head as if it should have been obvious by now, “Lan er-gongzi, my intention was not to harm you in any way”
Lan Wangji scoffs, “This is not harming me?”
“Harming you? This is me protecting you, can’t you see? Your brother is worried for you and I can’t brush that aside. But you keep on meddling between things that should not concern you anymore”
Lan Wangji remains silent.
Jin Guangyao laughs, “Lan er Gongzi, I will have to say that your plan to make Wei Gongzi remember you was exciting to watch”
If Lan Wangji is surprised to hear Jin Guangyao being aware of his disguise, he does not show it.
“Hanguang-Jun, it didn’t need to come to this. I never wanted any harm to come your way. But you had been with Wei Gongzi almost every day. It was infuriating. If only you had taken a step back. Your brother will be heartbroken by the news, but at least I will be there for him” He says the last part like he is actually concerned. He really wishes he could punch him. Wei Ying would like that when he would tell him this, “Lan Zhan, I can’t believe you punched him!”
Lan Wangji gulps his anger down, “Heartbroken?” He asks.
Jin Guangyao chuckles, that evil smirk on his face blooming “Who wouldn’t be concerned if their brother is kidnapped by the Yiling Laozu?”
Lan Wangji’s eyes widen, the cruel plan finally coming to one complete piece in his head.
“Jin Guangyao!” Lan Wangji roars.
Completely ignoring his outburst, Jin Guangyao steps away from him, “Lan er-gongzi, I have promised myself to bring you to your brother and I will do that. Whether you your mind will be sound, that I can’t guarantee” He stops, looking at Lan Wangji again.
Lan Wangji holds his breath as Jin Guangyao adds, “After all, what can’t the Yiling Laozu do to his captives?”
“Wei Ying will never do anything to me. Brother knows that” He says but the words his brother had said to him the previous day resounds.
He sees this, that infuriating monster, a delighted laugh bubbling, “Stay still for a few more hours, Lan er gongzi. With the emergency conference tomorrow, I don’t think it will take me long to return to you”
Before he goes away, Jin Guangyao steps closer to the array, his hand coming to enter Lan Wangji’s carefully tucked away sleeve.
“What are you doing?” Lan Wangji tires to shift away. But Jin Guangyao’s ministrations continue until they find what they have been looking away. He brings out his qiankun pouch holding all his things. All Wen Zhan’s stuff.
Jin Guangyao admires the qiankun pouch for a while before opening it and taking a peek inside. He gets the tassel bubbling with resentful energy, holds it, and then keeps it back inside.
“I will be taking this with me” Jin Guangyao almost purrs.
Lan Wangji is seething. He tries to get up, to snatch the thing from those disgusting hands. The tassel Wei Wuxian had given, the protective charm, the mask, his Guqin, his clothes.
“A-Zhan, I’m giving this to you. If you are in danger, just activate this with a bit of your energy and the energy will come to you” Wei Ying had said when he had handed him the mask, the first time he and Wen Ning had gone outside the wards.
“Give. it. back” Lan Wangji spits out. How could he have dropped this?
Lan Wangji feels his heart stop. Tomorrow? They will go to burial mounds tomorrow, the day after tomorrow? No, Wei Ying, he wouldn’t be able to take them all. He wouldn’t even remember him, the person he had supposedly taken hostage.
“I’m going to leave now anyway, Hanguang-Jun. I have a conference to prepare for” With that Jin Guangyao turns away, disappearing into the forest, leaving Lan Wangji alone.
Lan Wangji waits. It is not like he can do anything. The array remains and so does he. Like a lifelike jade statue everybody had thought him to be.
He had failed Wei Ying. How could he have been so stupid to fall into this?
Afternoon falls, Lan Wangji feels every single second of it like a noose around his neck, getting tighter and tighter.
Evening comes and goes and once again, the night falls. It feels like even the moon is taunting him.
He had once again tried to do everything he could. But without his core sending energy through his meridians, he is unable to call out Bichen or Wangji.
Having nothing else to do, Lan Wangji lets his mind wander. Let’s him relieve the moments he had spent with Wei Ying in the burial mounds, those peaceful nights they had spent together.
That night of their first meeting, fighting under the moonlight. How with just one smile, Wei Wuxian had been able to uproot everything he had always prided himself with.
He thinks of how he had already failed him back then and how once again; he is going to fail him. How can he be called Hanguang Jun if he had been unable to protect his own light? How can he bring light to others when he is about to lose his own?
The tears come unbidden from his eyes, staining his cheeks.
Wei Ying, Wei Ying, Wei Ying, he cries out, hoping that someone hears him. Hopes and hopes.
The feeling of his throat burning with sorrow is not something that Lan Wangji is used to. There is a distant memory just like this. Kneeling in the snow for hours, waiting for his mother to open the door and call him inside.
That’s all he is capable of, isn’t he? Waiting.
“Please” Lan Wangji croaks out.
That is when it happens. His skin prickles under his robes, the energy around him surging. The array glows red under the serene moonlight, Lan Wangji feels it, the rush of spiritual energy in his meridians, his body arms coming free until all his body is in his control once again.
His hand comes to rest on his chest, just as the red glow vanishes. He looks around, trying to find what had just set him free. That is when he senses it, the familiarity of the black cloud around him.
“The burial mounds” he whispers more to himself. The resentful energy pulses around him.
Go, they say, Help him
Before he can answer, the energy vanishes like it wasn’t even there before.
Wei Ying, I’m coming, Lan Wangji promises, picking up Bichen and surges into the sky.
When the Burial Mounds comes into his sight, Lan Wangji pushes through the clouds, his spiritual energy fading quickly after just being replenished, but he keeps moving.
The wards let him inside without any reluctance. Crossing the thick set of trees, Lan Wangji descends, stepping off Bichen, and runs to the cave.
“Hanguang Jun?” Wen Ning’s voice echoes from behind him. Lan Wangji turns swiftly, not expecting to see Wen Ning standing in front of the entrance. Seeing how calm Wen Ning is, makes some part of Lan Wangji settle. Maybe he had come fast enough to reach them first. He can still convince his brother and account for Wei Ying.
“Wen Gongzi” Lan Wangji bows.
Wen Ning’s eyes darted from him to the trees, his eyes scrunching in confusion, “Weren’t you with Wei Gongzi just now?”
Lan Wangji’s heart stops beating immediately.
Lan Wangji shakes his head, a sudden fear gripping his chest “I was not. I just came here” He pauses as the air around them changes, “Is Wei Ying not here?”.
He knows the answer, the cold breeze telling him enough but he still hopes.
It all shatters when Wen Ning shakes his head, “No. He said he said you are here and the two of you are going down the mountain”
Lan Wangji’s throat tightens, “I came from the same route. I didn’t see him” He whispers more to himself.
No, no, no
“Hanguang Ju, what is happening? Who did Wei Gongzi—”, a frantic Wen Ning asks. But Lan Wangji doesn’t wait for any more words. With blood roaring in his ears, he is on Bichen immediately.
He quickly activates a detection talisman and sends it flying to the protective wards around the entrance.
Lan Wangji surges ahead, his heart beating frantically in his chest as he reaches enough height to find Wei Wuxian.
Please be okay, Wei Ying
He notices on his way, the sudden absence. The usually warm presence he had always felt around the burial mounds or Wei Wuxian gone, the same presence that had helped him get out of the array.
Did someone get it cleaned out?
Bustling with questions, Lan Wangji eyes wander on the ground trying to find the familiar black robes. He doesn’t have to go too far.
Lan Wangji carefully and silently descends down from Bichen at a safe distance, hiding behind a thick tree.
What he comes to see, makes him stop breathing.
Lan Wangji sees Wei Wuxian sitting on a stone near the lake, not too far down the mountain, one hand resting gently on a masked face. The brown robes, the loose hair, and his mask, everything resembled him. If it wasn’t of Lan Wangji knowing the disguise well enough himself, it would fool anyone. The red tassel he had given him, dangling from the side of his robes.
The person had spent time studying how A-Zhan looked. He was convincing enough to make Wei Wuxian leave the mountain unguarded and follow him this far.
Lan Wangji’s trip tightens on Bichen. For Wei Wuxian is staring at the man with so much love, so much tenderness that he wanted nothing more than running there and plucking the man away from him. He remains still. Taking a step out might not be the right call.
“A-Zhan, what is it? You disappear for a day, leaving this demonic cultivator alone, and then come and bring me here?”
“I wanted to play something for you, Wei Ying”
Even their voices are exactly the same. This person under the disguise knows him too well. Lan Wangji had used a voice-changing talisman, a creation of Wei Ying made in their days at Cloud Recesses.
Wei Wuxian’s laugh is sweet and loud, “A-Zhan ah, A-Zhan ah, I should be playing something for you, for returning to me again. But I get you to play something for me? This one is flattered”
He leans back on the stone while A-Zhan brings his Guqin out.
Lan Wangji’s breath hitches in his throat.
“Play for me A-Zhan”
The music, the moment the strings of the Guqin begins to thread the music, Lan Wangji’s mind goes blank.
The Song of Turmoil
Lan Wangji moves at the speed of lightning, unsheathing Bichen and pointing it at the fake Wen Zhan sitting on the ground not having enough time to get on his feet.
But Wei Wuxian, always the one having one eye open moves almost as fast as him, standing right in front of the fake Wen Zhan, Chenqing raised right at Lan Wangji.
At least I will die by your hand, Hanguang-Jun, stings Lan Wangji thoughts, the feeling of rain and helplessness seizing him up. Standing opposite each other with, against each other.
“Stop” He grits out, his grip on Bichen faltering. Wen Zhan’s hands put the music to a stop.
Wei Wuxian’s eyes are red again, no recognition sparking in his eyes, only intense anger as he yells, “Who are you?”
By the time Lan Wangji realizes the reason for such a hostile reaction from Wei Wuxian, it is too late. He is dressed in the robes of Gusu Lan, the person Wei Wuxian had forgotten. Not in the brown robes and ponytail he had associated with Wen Zhan.
And Wen Zhan, the fake Wen Zhan is wearing the brown robes.
He is the stranger here.
The fake Wen Zhan stands up, putting the Guqin at aside as he joins Wei Wuxian, “Ahh, Hanguang Jun” That eerily similar voice says, his voice like a knife tearing his eardrum, “You are here”
“I thought it might take you some time” He adds, moving his disgusting hand against Wei Ying’s arm. He couldn’t see his face but he knew he was smiling behind it.
“Hanguang Jun?” Wei Wuxian asks, eyes darting from Wen Zhan to Lan Wangji.
“Wei Ying, he is from the Gusu Lan sect. Their second heir” Wen Zhan provides coyly.
Lan Wangji is so intent on that arm holding Wei Ying that he doesn’t notice him taking a step forward until Wei Wuxian pulls himself in front of Wen Zhan again, Chenqing near his lips, “A-Zhan stand behind me”
Lan Wangji’s stomach drop, “Wei Ying” He whispers like a prayer like it will be enough to pour all his words to Wei Wuxian.
Wei Wuxian’s eyes haze over, his legs trembling, “Don’t call me that” he grits out. His breathing is labored Lan Wangji notices.
“Wei Ying,” he says again, taking a small step ahead.
Wei Wuxian shakes his head, his hand coming to hold his head, Chenqing falling from his grip, “Stop. Whatever you are doing, stop!” He yells, trying to steady himself.
Lan Wangji like a moth to a flame moves to holds him. But before he can even get near him, he sees it. Wen Zhan moving to stand behind him and holding him upwards, “A-Zhan, what—” He begins to say but his words are cut off by a sudden gasp.
Lan Wangji doesn’t know he could even make such a sound. His face pales. For a sharp string has come around his neck, pushing him back to Wen Zhan’s chest.
“Let. him. go” Lan Wangji grits out.
The Guqin string wraps itself around Wei Wuxian’s neck, its ends held strongly by Wen Zhan.
Lan Wangji freezes, Bichen’s hilt digging his palm.
“Wen Zhan ….y..you-” Wei Wuxian chokes out, the pressure of the string drawing blood as he tries to breathe.
“Don’t move now, Wei Wuxian” Wen Zhan says sweetly, his eyes moving to Lan Wangji, “Hanguang Jun, sheathe Bichen. We wouldn’t want anything happening to your Wei Ying now”
Without even thinking again, Lan Wangji sheathes Bichen, eyes not drifting away from the string at Wei Wuxian’s neck still drawing blood.
“Good” Su She purrs, “Now, seal your spiritual energy”
Lan Wangji does. With some quick motions, he feels the energy flowing through his meridians stop, leaving him cold and empty.
Fear like never before coils in his guts, making it harder to breathe.
Wei Wuxian still unsettled by the betrayal, chokes out “Was this all a plan?” Trying to look at Wen Zhan behind him who merely laughs at him.
It is Lan Wangji who yells, “Wei Ying, No”
But Wei Wuxian ignores his presence, trembling as he asks “A plan to make me trust you?” Tears falling down his eyes.
“No, Wei Ying” he still tries.
Wen Zhan laughs again, delighted by the scene in front of him,
“What a wonderful show you two are putting here, Hanguang Jun and Yiling Laozu. The fact that we could have gotten a better more dramatic show” He tuts. “It’s a pity that the curse never worked how it should have”
Lan Wangji clenches his fist. “Why?”
“You see Hanguang Jun, the curse was meant to destroy everything the Yiling Laozu held dear to his heart”
Lan Wangji had been right, it is a love curse.
“Curse, what curse?” Wei Wuxian writhes, wincing.
But his words go ignored in favor of Wen Zhan shrugging the mask off his face. It falls to the ground with a thud.
Lan Wangji stares at the face, slightly flinching by the ragged image of his own face staring back at him. The skin is as if it’s melting off, morphing back into the face that really is behind Wen Zhan’s.
“Who knew it would only work to make you disappear from his memory?” Su She laughs, his face leering into a smile.
The string digging deeper into Wei Wuxian’s skin as he continues, “You see, everything is moving too slow. With so many candidates available, it will take too long” He pauses, eyes coming to take in Wei Wuxian’s profile.
“That’s where your precious Wei Ying comes in. We need someone to take the blame now, don’t we? Who else is a better scapegoat than the Yiling Laozu himself? Killing two birds with one stone.
Wei Wuxian sways in his grip, his hand clutching his head to subside the pain clouding his senses, “Memory? Who did I forget?” He whispers to himself, tone almost lost and frantic.
Su She’s grip tightens on his neck and Wei Wuxian barely flinches away, his mind hazy, trying to find any sense in what is happening around him. His mind is a mess of a figure in white, a moon and a song, the warmth, and the love, golden eyes that are way too intense and….
Wei Wuxian’s mind blanks out, his body loose and his chest tight. He feels like he is floating, deep in an abyss threatening to swallow his whole. He hears a distant Wei Ying but does not have the strength to do anything but fall and fall.
“You have always thought too highly of yourself, Lan Wangji. Always thinking you are above others. I will take Wei Wuxian with me and complete the final part of the plan and nothing will stand between my master’s and the throne” Su She laughs out, gritting his teeth as he glares at Lan Wangji, “But before that, I wish to fulfill this one selfish desire”
Su She manhandles Wei Wuxian to his other side, holding his almost limp body close to his hip, the string going lax around his neck. Lan Wangji doesn’t get time to think, only notices that his body is moving, Bichen sheathed but still held towards the man.
Su She sees him a second too late, his body darting away on pure instinct, Wei Wuxian’s body slipping away from his hold and slumping to the ground with a thud.
“Lan Wangji!” The man seethes out, trying to get back to Wei Wuxian. But Lan Wangji pulls himself up in front of him, his stature radiating danger.
Lan Wangji doesn’t know how long they fight for; without his sword and spiritual energy, the fight is longer.
Both of them miss Wei Wuxian’s body wriggling on the ground, nobody sees his silver eyes trying to focus on the fight.
Only Wei Wuxian sees the moment Lan Wangji’s steps falter and he falls back, nobody but Wei Wuxian sees the moment Su She’s face breaks into a smirk, another sword flying to Lan Wangji, aiming for his heart.
Wei Wuxian is on his feet even when his mind spins, he doesn’t know where the fierce determination comes from, the sudden fear that makes him dizzy.
Lan Wangji hurt. Protect.
His body runs as fast as it can, his arms embracing the man in white, crushing him and holding him as tight as he can. Lan Wangji stumbles back from the sudden pressure against his chest.
“Wei Ying?” He whispers, his own arms shaking as they come to wrap around him and—
He all but feels the moment the sword lodges itself into Wei Wuxian’s back, sees the blood trickling down, staining his own hands crimson. His hands shake as Wei Wuxian’s head lolls to his shoulder, Lan Wangji doesn’t know he is crying. Holding his close to his chest, Lan Wangji sees red. Everything else is a blur to him.
Bichen unsheathes himself from the mere wrath that fills his meridians, his golden core flaring inside of him, thirsty for blood. He finds satisfaction in the way Su She pales, uselessly flailing his sword against the strong cut of Bichen. It vibrates from the sheer spiritual energy Lan Wangji sends into it.
All it takes is a deep stab from the sword and Su She falls limply to the ground, his own blood pooling around him.
Lan Wangji pants as the air around him thicken, that familiar energy again filling the surrounding. He falls on his knees, cradling his beloved’s limp body to his chest.
Wei Ying saved him, He should have been fast enough, he should have bee—
Goosebumps rose on the back of his neck, the resentful energy crawling over Wei Wuxian’s body, to his back where the sword had stabbed his skin.
Lan Wangji watches as the skin stitches itself together, the robes cut open, the blood around the stab wound crusted but the skin stitched like it hadn’t even been there before.
“Wei Ying” Lan Wangji whispers and lets himself hope as Wei Ying stirs in his arms.
Holding him close to his chest, Lan Wangji chants, rocking the two of them, “Wei Ying, Wei Ying, Wei Ying, Wei Ying”
Lan Wangji only breathes heavily, cradling Wei Wuxian in his arms. He is still pale, blood trickling down from the corner of his lips, his eyes still hazy as he leans his head on his shoulder, crying and crying.
And Lan Wangji breaks, his eyes blurring with tears. He doesn’t hold back the sob that wrecks him. All those times, seeing Wei Ying with him, smiling and calling his fake name with all the affection leaving Lan Wangji feeling full and yet empty
“Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian says again, his voice so soft as he reaches out to cup Lan Wangji’s face.
Lan Wangji leans desperately into the touch “Lan Zhan, don’t cry Baobei”
“Wei Ying,” Lan Wangji croaks, “You remember”
“I remember Lan Zhan” Wei Wuxian cries, “I’m sorry”
Lan Wangji shakes his head, still a sobbing mess, arms refusing to let loose around Wei Wuxian’s waist. Oh, how much he wanted this, Wei Wuxian in his arms calling his name, calling him Lan Zhan with that beautiful voice of his.
Wei Wuxian brushes away the stray tear that slips to his cheek, the touch so tender that Lan Wangji cries again, burying himself in the crook of Wei Wuxian’s neck.
“Shhh” Wei Wuxian mummers, hand caressing the back of his head.
Lan Wangji doesn’t think this is how it should be. He should be the one comforting him. Wei Wuxian almost died, he is the one in pain, he should be comforting him. But right now, his touch is just too nice, too soothing.
“I love you” The words rip out of his throat before he can stop them. His entire world crashes when Wei Wuxian stills in his arms. Maybe Wen Zhan was the only person he liked, maybe knowing it had been Lan Wangji behind that mask makes it all go—
But then Wei Wuxian is cupping his face again, and his warm lips are brushing against his cheek and his eyes are shining with all the love that Lan Wangji had always desired for and more. His voice is soft and gentle as he grins, “I love you, my Lan Zhan”
For the first time in all these years, Lan Wangji smiles. Like a flower blooming for the first time. Wei Wuxian’s eyes shine in awe and Lan Wangji unfurls once again, “Wei Ying, I love you”
Wei Wuxian is so gentle as he is once again pressing his lips to Lan Wangji’s lips, holding him like he’s precious.
Oh, this is how it feels like to be kissed and loved, kissed and loved by his Wei Ying. He forgets everything as they continue the messy tentative kiss, both taking and giving and loving.
Wei Wuxian is the one who pulls away, a perfect smile on his face, and Lan Wangji can’t help but smile back, “I love you”
And the words he gets back are something he would die to hear all his life, “I love you, Lan Zhan”
They stay there wrapped in each other’s embrace, relishing the warmth that they had been cruelly taken from them. Lan Wangji tells him everything Jin Guangyao had done and Wei Wuxian wishes he gets to stab him. He dared to harm Lan Wangji, dared to touch his mind and pluck the only thing that had always brought him comfort.
Wei Wuxian does not want to move. He wants to kiss Lan Wangji and not think about anything else. But the talismans he had put around the barriers to tell him about any incoming danger flares in his robes.
“They are here, Lan Zhan” Wei Wuxian whispers, trying to stand up on his feet but Lan Wangji’s arm around him is unmoving. Wei Wuxian can only yelp as Lan Wangji stands up all the while carrying him.
“Lan Zhan!” He wails, hiding his face in the crook of his neck. The sandalwood scent calming and relaxing, “You can’t carry me there!”
“I can and I will” Is the only response he gets as they start to walk towards the entrance of the mountain. Wei Wuxian chuckles lightly, thinking about the sheer shock everyone waiting for him outside will get after they see Hanguang Jun carrying Yiling Laozu in his arms.
At the base of the mountain, they can make out the familiar robes. Chifeng Zun, Zewu Jun, Jin Guangyao, Jin Zixuan, and Jiang Cheng watch them emerge from the shadows, their eyes going comically wide. There are mutters filling the crowd as they cross the wards, “How shameless”, “he must have bewitched Hanguang Jun!” being the most popular ones among them.
“Wangji” Zewu Jun breathes out, his relief visible on his face. Wei Wuxian can understand the fear he must have felt receiving the news of him taking Lan Zhan hostage, how he had felt when he had heard about Jiang Cheng being held by the Wens.
“Xiongzhang” Lan Wangji says, his voice steady, eyes steely as he takes in the cultivators standing in front of them. Jiang Cheng is scowling while the others hold a carefully blank expression.
“Wangji, what is the meaning of this?” His brother asks, taking a few steps forward, away from the crowd only to be stopped by a pale hand covered with a golden sleeve.
“Er-ge” That overly sweet voice says, shaking his head, “I’m afraid Hanguang Jun is under a spell. We should be careful”
Wei Wuxian wants to throttle him. This vile snake still dares to show his face up here.
“Ah, Jin Guangyao, you give me too much credit. Do you think I will be able to put a spell on Hanguang Jun? Really, how stupid do you have to be to even think that as a possibility?”
Jin Guangyao’s smile doesn’t falter, “You have crossed the line this time, Yiling Laozu. You cannot be left to your own devices anymore. Admit your wrongdoings and the sects might show you some mercy”
Wei Wuxian hears Jiang Cheng scoff, “You know, out of everything Wei Wuxian can do, he will never do anything to Hanguang Jun”
Wei Wuxian wishes he could run and hug his brother, but for now, he only whispers to Lan Zhan to put him down. Lan Zhan reluctantly obeys, gently making Wei Wuxian stand on his own but his hand remains like an anchor on the small of his back.
“And what proof do you all have of my wrongdoings, exactly?”
Jin Guangyao steps up, “Sect leader Jin had passed away and traces of resentful energy had been found in his core”
Wei Wuxian huffs, “That barely counts as anything. Anyone can use resentful energy”
“Not everyone is as skilled as you to overpower a powerful sect leader”
“Another proof please” Wei Wuxian sings, trying his best not to laugh at the way Jin Guangyao scrunches his face.
“Wei Ying” Comes Lan Wangji’s chiding voice but it is tinged with that odd fondness and Wei Wuxian can’t help but smile as he adds, “Do not stall”
“But Lan Zhan! This is funny how everyone just blames me for everything that happens in the cultivation world!”
Lan Wangji shakes his head, stepping aside, his eyes meeting his brother, “All the accusations, including Wei Ying taking me hostage are untrue”
He squeezes his back just for a second before he says, “Xiongzhang after I had left Gusu, I was captured by Jin Guangyao”
The crowd bristles, his brother looks affronted, “Wangji, that is…” He turns to look at Jin Guangyao who still does not show any reaction.
Nie Mingjue does glare at him when he mumbles to himself, loud enough that everyone hears him clearly, “I don’t doubt that”
“I see that Hanguang Jun is too deep under this illusion”
“Jin Guangyao, drop the act,” Lan Wangji says coolly but only Wei Wuxian and Lan Xichen can hear the warning behind those words.
“Better you beg for mercy now. Cursing me was a bad idea, you know” Wei Wuxian adds. Everyone goes silent around them.
Wei Wuxian pulls his shoulders back, standing straight as he glares at Jin Guangyao, “Making me forget everyone I loved just to make so you use me as a pawn in your dirty game to gain power? I don’t know how you and your minion learned to use resentful energy string enough to breach my wards and curse me but your plans fell short for it only made me forget Lan Zhan and no one else”
“A love curse?” Jiang Cheng asks, looking at him quizzically.
“I think Lan Zhan would be able to explain better than me”
Lan Wangji nods at him and turns to Lan Xichen, “The Song of Oblivion” Is the only thing he says but it makes a huge difference. Lan Xichen’s eyes had gone wide, his head whipping to the golden figure of his sworn brother.
“The forbidden section? A-Yao, did you do this?” His voice is barely a whisper, his grip tight on his sword.
Jin Guangyao’s face breaks, his voice pleading as he says to him, “Er-ge. I didn’t do anything. You won’t believe me?”
“Why would he believe you over his own brother?” Nie Mingjue yells over, taking slow steps to stand between Lan Xichen and Jin Guangyao like a wall.
“I have been wary of you since the beginning and now everyone will be able to see this side of you”
“Da-ge” Jin Guangyao cries, “I will never harm anyone”
“Wangji” Comes a feeble voice from behind Nie Mingjue, “Are you certain it was that curse? He really held you hostage?”
“Lying is forbidden,” Lan Wangji says, his voice soft, filled with concern for his brother. He knows how much this will affect him but he needs to know the truth.
“Er-ge! You can’t believe this! Of all the things I have done for you, you can’t throw me away like this”
“The only person that has ever entered that part of the library had been you A-Yao. My brother would never lie to me. With all the evidence pointing to you, you still dare to ask this of me?” Lan Xichen eyes have gone cold, that ever-present smile slipping from his face.
Wei Wuxian sees the way Lan Wangji’s face tightens over Lan Xichen condition. He raises his hand, brushing it against his hand. Lan Wangji’s hand comes to hold his tightly.
Jin Zixuan, who had been standing there silently for the whole time, finally walks in front of his step-brother, “So that is the reason you had been so adamant about sending me here for the wedding invitation. I had found your questioning after my return quite odd but now it all adds up. It was never Wei Wuxian, it was you”
Wei Wuxian clears his throat. He was not ready for Jin Zixuan to take his side. He hears Zidian’s familiar crackling, “This was planned all by you”
Wei Wuxian sees Jin Guangyao’s hand sneaking to his sleeve but before he can even make a move, Nie Mingjue twists his arm behind him, “You will be questioned and punished. I hope Sect Leader Jin will see to that”
Jin Zixuan straightens up and nods, “He will receive a punishment worthy of his crimes”
Jiang Cheng walks over to where Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji are standing. He silently observes Wei Wuxian first before stuttering out, “The curse…it is gone?”
Wei Wuxian chuckle lightly, “I’m all fit to go. Lan Zhan helped me A-Cheng!” He cheers, “Well, it did take Su She stabbing me for the curse to actually go away but I’m fine now!”
“Su She? The sect leader of Moling Su? Did he stab you? Why do you go around getting stabbed like that for absolutely no reason Wei Wuxian? A-Jie would have been sad if something had happened to you!” Jiang Cheng yells but only Wei Wuxian can hear the sheer relief and concern in his brother’s harsh words.
Wei Wuxian laughs, finally sounding genuine and feeling free, “A-Cheng, you were worried for me, weren’t you?”
Jiang Cheng huffs, muttering under his breath, “Who is worried for you” And goes over to talk with the other Sect leaders.
Lan Wangji’s presence is a warmth to his soul as Wei Wuxian leans into his firm body, his arms wrapping around his waist, “Wei Ying”
Wei Wuxian smiles, his eyes filled with love as he whispers the only name, he wants to call for the rest of his life, “Lan Zhan”
Wei Wuxian returns to Burial Mounds after everything is settled.
Jin Guangyao is found guilty of many crimes including the murder of Jin Guangshan. He is given a public execution. Moling Su is dissolved for its hidden hand in aiding Jin Guangyao’s evil plans. It takes some long discussions and letting all the sect leaders enter the Burial Mounds for them to make a decision on the Wen remnants. It had been quite a sight to see A-Yuan clutching tightly to a scowling Nie Mingjue’s leg and asking for a cuddle. To everyone’s utter pleasure, the man had picked him up gently and let him cuddle.
The Wen remnants were now under the protection of all the major clans, all of them choosing to live in Yunmeng.
Wei Wuxian is finally free. Feels weird, he thinks, having time to think about himself.
Surrendering the stygian tiger amulet in front of all the clan leaders and sealing it off had taken in a lot of effort. The task almost sucking all his life away from him. But this time he didn’t have to do it alone. He had Lan Zhan, the person he trusted and loved the most. He helped him stay strong all the while, taking care of him when he had almost fallen apart once again.
Even when he had forgotten him, his mere soul called for his Lan Zhan. Not letting him forget the love he had for the man,
And now, he couldn’t even think of doing anything without Lan Zhan by his side. It felt right.
It had to be brought to life, the absence of Wei Wuxian’s core. He had gone for the Wen Zhuliu melting his core for the sect leaders and elders to accept his use of enough demonic cultivation to sustain himself. With one last burden off his chest, he had just one thing left to do.
The two had left the serenity of the Gusu mountain, traveling on Lan Zhan’s sword to the place where it all started.
Burial Mounds greets him with splendor and love. The trees sing, the breeze warm as he stops near the entrance, Lan Wangji’s steady presence always by his side.
“I’m back,” He says and falls to his knees, “I’m back to say goodbye”
Something sprouts next from the ground. He feels the warmth it radiates. He knows what it is.
And so, Wei Wuxian bows, head touching the hand that had sprouted to caress his cheek. A choked sob retches from his throat.
“Thank you” He cries, “Thank you for everything” He leans into the bony structure, his lips brushing the bone with a feather-light kiss.
The skeletal hands glow, the light blinding until it blooms into a white daffodil. It sways to him, calling to him.
Wei Wuxian smiles, gently touching the petals one at a time. Cupping it in his palms, he plucks it with careful hands.
It gleams he realizes, the daffodil he holds close to his chest. A sound tingles his ears as he stands up.
Go, our boy. You are strong. Go and live and love, the breeze brings to him.
Steady arms wrap around his waist and Wei Wuxian grins, tears streaking cheek as one calloused thumb wipes it away. This time it is real, the touch of his beloved.
“Wei Ying” His beloved whispers, like his name is a treasure to be held lovingly. It is, he knows now. So, he grins and for the first time in all these months, he actually means it.
“Lan Zhan” He mumbles, hiding his face in the arms that will never let him go.
“Let’s go home” He murmurs.
And the smile he gets in return turns him inside out. So filled with love, those golden eyes are tender, “Mn, Wei Ying, let’s go home”
Goodbye, Wei Wuxian, the burial mounds sing to him as he walks hand in hand, basked in the love of his Lan Zhan away from the place he knows is his home.
This is home and he knows if one day he had to run away, they will always welcome him.
This is his home and he will always be welcome.