Remarkably, Wei Wuxian doesn’t realize Lan Wangji has been cursed until the fifth stranger they’ve come across tries to propose to him.
He perhaps should have realized at the fourth occurrence, or the third, or even the second when two charming young ladies they had passed by invited Lan Wangji into their bed. But the fact remains that the majority of the world is in love with the Chief Cultivator, and marriage proposals and the like are sent and firmly rejected nearly every week. Wei Wuxian understands, who wouldn’t want Hanguang-Jun, with his pristine white robes and gentle, beautiful smile and loving gaze and care in which he holds his rabbits and long, silky hair that Wei Wuxian wants to-
Okay, Wei Wuxian can admit that he is a bit biased.
But in his defense, Wei Wuxian had spent the while coming back from their night hunt (and what a night hunt it has been, taking four days and three nights to track down a group of yaoguai, fighting side by side with Lan Wangji after such a long time pulled apart by duty and travels) either gazing lovingly at Lan Wangji, making sure to look away when he glances back, daydreaming about how it would feel to night hunt with Lan Wangji as a cultivation partner, or lovingly teasing Lan Wangji until the tips of his cute ears burnt red as he turns and walks away, leaving Wei Wuxian to catch up.
They’re older now, with ducklings and disciples and duty weighing heavy on their shoulders. Wei Wuxian keeps to his travels, wanders the land as a rouge cultivator and attempts to solve problems that arise in the towns and cities outside the reach of the sects, and Lan Wangji has to deal with nonsense politics and bureaucracy of the greater sects in his role as Chief Cultivator, weeding out the corruption and disease in the cultivation world that has been present long before Jin Guangyao. There are some months where they barely see each other, some months where Wei Wuxian feels the all too familiar ache of longing when he glimpses the white robes of a passing traveller or hears the soft stringing of a guqin. Responsibility has become a burden to them all.
When the two of them are alone all those years melt away. Age doesn’t really affect them, not with their cultivation levels, yet there’s only a few times where Lan Wangji can let go and act… not childish, but playful. Only a few times where he can be himself, let go of the title of Hanguang-Jun and be his Lan Zhan. You can’t blame Wei Wuxian for being more focused on cherishing Lan Wangji’s company than any subsidiary events that occurs, such as the unfortunately common propositions that are levelled at him.
But when the fifth suitor collapses in sorrow at Lan Wangji’s strict but not unkind decline (and there’s a tiny part of Wei Wuxian that revels in glee at that) he looks at his partner.
“Lan Zhan, if every person we come across is going to try and seduce you, I’m going to leave.” Wei Wuxian whines, because he’s tired and sweaty and concernedly sticky in a number of places, and really doesn’t want to deal with this.
Lan Wangji stares at him, though the tips of his ears begin to turn a telling red.
“This is not intentional.” He says.
“This is the fifth person who has come onto you.” Wei Wuxian points out.
“It has happened before, I can manage it.”
“I had to save you from a couple when they started taking off their clothes in front of you.”
There is a faint twitch in Lan Wangji’s expression. “They are very insistent.”
“Aiya Lan Zhan, we have met five people. All of which have tried to either marry you or sleep with you.”
Wei Wuxian registers his own words. They’ve met five people in their journey back to Zheng village. They have only met five people. Lan Wangji seems to realize this as well, and they pause to look at each other.
Perhaps they might have a problem.
“Hanguang-Jun, please consider this one’s proposal.” A stranger blocks their path.
“Hanguang-Jun, if you desire, you can share our bed.” A couple says from a side stall.
“Hanhuang-Jun! I will offer three goats and four cows as a dowry.” A gentlemen shouts from across the street.
Lan Wangji, very pointedly, ignores them all.
Wei Wuxian, standing next to him, can’t help but cackle. Despite the twinge of jealousy that appears whenever Lan Wangji is accosted by others in their endeavour for his hand or affection, it’s still a little bit funny seeing him try to withstand attention that he’s so unfamiliar with.
At Lan Wangji’s ensuing expression (which is totally a pout even if he won’t admit it) Wei Wuxian smirks.
“Lan Zhaaan,” he sings, “are you going to be so rude and ignore all these potential suitors?”.
Lan Wangji, predictably, keeps silent as he continues forward. Wei Wuxian races to catch up, joyfully sidestepping the woman crumpled to the floor in front of them as they both continue on their way. They had originally come to the Zheng village as it was on the most direct route to Cloud Recesses. Near the bottom of the mountain range characteristic of the Gusu Lan, it had a large enough market that they could restock their provisions in for the journey ahead. On their usual trips back from night hunts they would wait and arrive in the evening, in time for the night market during which Wei Wuxian would spend all of his money to buy trinkets and sweets for a-yuan and Jingyi and all the little baby Lan’s he’s grown so fond of. Lan Wangji would stand to the side disapprovingly, stating there was no need for frivolous purchases, but he’d always reply to Wei Wuxian’s questions about whether ‘this or this is better for the ducklings’ and make his own comments about items he thinks would be particularly useful for the juniors (his Lan Zhan is such a softie for their disciples ).
After realizing that Lan Wangji had been placed under a curse (not a talisman, as one would have left either a remnant or mark behind, and not a spell as it is not tied to a location) they decided on continuing to Zheng Village as a way to check whether their suspicions were correct. So far it has been, no matter who they come across, as soon as they’re within five meters of Lan Wangji they fall under the curse and either try to seduce or marry him.
They’d wanted to come to the village for the sheer number of people there to test their suspicions, but now they know the general effects of the curse Wei Wuxian’s fleeting joy at seeing Lan Wangji in this situation is quickly turning into worry. He doesn’t know what lasting effects it’ll have on those affected, so far he can’t think of anything he’s learnt that could be connected to what’s happening, and now that the day has progressed the village is getting more and more crowded, people out for a walk after lunch, traveling merchants setting up their stalls, people going from place to place as they look for things to buy.
He reaches Lan Wangji when the other man uncharacteristically comes to a sudden halt, turning back to shoot a look at Wei Wuxian that Wei Wuxian can only describe as panic. Lan Wangji only turns to him when he is truly concerned.
Immediately, Wei Wuxian steps closer to him, grabs Lan Wangji’s arm as he checks him over for injuries. “What’s wrong?”
Wei Wuxian gets his answer when he turns to look ahead. A group of people are walking towards them, teenagers by the look of them, not yet grown into their features and joking and pushing at each other. In a few moments they’ll be close enough to Lan Wangji for the curse to take effect, and it would be awkward and upsetting to Lan Wangji if they become affected as well.
Lan Wangji is still frozen in place, undecided on what to do, so Wei Wuxian quickly grabs his hand and tugs him through streets and roads until they reach a relatively empty location near the produce farms. At this time the setting sun bathes the world in shades of gold, the farms all but abandoned as most of the townsfolk head for the markets or their homes.
Wei Wuxian turns back to Lan Wangji, relaxed now that they are alone with his gaze fixed on Wei Wuxian.
“Okay?” he asks. At Lan Wangji’s nod, he strokes a hand down Lan Wangji’s arm once more, reassures himself that he is unhurt, before letting go. Lan Wangji’s hand comes up to gently squeeze his wrist in thanks, and Wei Wuxian softly smiles at him before looking around as he thinks to himself.
They have to go through the village to reach Cloud Recesses, the area surrounding the village full of plantations with the ground not steady enough to walk through. On a normal day they might have travelled by sword, but with the curse placed on Lan Wangji, Wei Wuxian is unsure on whether the use of spiritual energy is a good idea. So they have to go through the village, yet with the quickly setting sun and the start of the night market, a lot more people are going to appear with no way to avoid them unless…
Wei Wuxian turns back to Lan Wangji with a gleeful smile on his face.
“We can avoid most of the crowd if we walk on the roofs,” Wei Wuxian says. Lan Wangji looks at the market place they left behind, the empty fields they’re currently hiding in, and then the houses Wei Wuxian indicated to him.
“Wei Ying, that is trespassing,” he says.
Wei Wuxian immediately pouts. “It’s the best way to get through the village without meeting anyone, and it’ll take a much shorter time than usual.”
Lan Wangji shoots a look at him. Wei Wuxian pouts further. Lan Wangji looks away.
“It will be fun! It’s been so long since I’ve climbed on a roof-“
“You have been on the roofs of Cloud Recesses many times before,” Lan Wangji comments, “Last week you fell off the Lanshi as you tried out your new array.”
Wei Wuxian pouts again, because unfair, it’s not his fault the rains had made the roof tiles slippery, and he’d been so focused on the sun tile array to not notice and had taken an (admittedly) ungraceful fall to the ground. In front of the juniors as well. The only consolation was that Lan Wangji had fretted over him for a full two hours after.
“…it’s been a very long time since we’ve been on a roof,” he corrects himself.
Lan Wangji still doesn’t appear convinced. But there’s very little options for getting through the village with the minimum amount of interaction, and sundown lends them an advantage in coverage if they choose to navigate through the rooftops.
“Lan Zhan, it’s the fastest way out of the village, and we need to arrive at Cloud Recesses soon if we want to cure you,” Wei Wuxian says with touch more seriousness.
At the mention of the curse Lan Wangji gives in, and fixes Wei Wuxian with a disapproving look at his shout of excitement.
Wei Wuxian grabs his hand again, pulling him up and he runs and jumps onto the nearest roof. Lan Wangji lets himself get pulled along, and refuses to acknowledge the faintest curve of his smile at Wei Wuxian’s joy.
“The juniors,” Wei Wuxian says in a fit of panic.
They’re on the way to Cloud Recesses, choosing to hike up the mountain path for privacy and a lack of people to meet. The normal route would lead them to middle of the training grounds where any number of disciples could be, and both Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji don’t want to deal with the curse’s effects on any of the Gusu Lan’s disciples. If anything occurs, after they manage to break whatever curse had been placed on Lan Wangji those effected would promptly either try to die of embarrassment at propositioning the Chief Cultivator and being chased away by the Yiling Patriarch, or succeed from the sect in repentance for dishonouring themselves and their Hanguang-Jun.
They are almost at the Jingshi, taking a side route that approaches from the back when Wei Wuxian voices out his concern.
Lan Wangji stops in his path, turns to him and hums a question.
“Sizhui and the other ducklings are due to come back from their night hunt today.”
Lan Wangji nods, expression turning pleased when Lan Sizhui is brought up. On a normal day Wei Wuxian would feel the same, but he has other problems to deal with than the inevitable pride and happiness that bubbles up whenever he thinks of his little a-yuan all grown up.
Yet Wei Wuxian’s words don’t appear to register. He huffs, “Lan Zhan, our son-“ (he’s going to pretend his heart doesn’t ache at those words, how he wishes it was fully true, him and Lan Zhan together as fathers to a-yuan instead of separate) “-is going to be at the Jingshi. With his friends. All of whom are children. All of whom are most likely going to be affected by whatever curse has been placed on you.”
Wei Wuxian continues.
“And if the curse’s affects are anything like it is on others, then most likely they will either try to propose to you, or-” Wei Wuxian winces, and shuts down any sort of images that pop up. “proposition you.”
They stare at each other with horror.
“Let us change our destination.”
“Wei-gongzi,” Lan Xichen’s pleasantly surprised voice greets him.
“Zewu-Jun!” Wei Wuxian says brightly. He pulls himself fully through the Hanshi’s open window and into the room.
Lan Xichen gracefully pours him a cup of tea, gesturing towards the other side of the table. Wei Wuxian throws himself onto the seat and reaches for the offered cup.
After knocking it back, he looks at the empty cup mournfully. If only it was Emperor’s Smile.
“I do appreciate your presence, but why choose to visit me today?” Lan Xichen questions. “And through such an odd method.” He looks at the window Wei Wuxian entered from, and then at the perfectly open door across the room from it.
There is a moments silence.
“Ah, right. Well you see… Lan Zhan might have been cursed?” Wei Wuxian offers.
At his words Lan Xichen immediately straightens, jaw set as he reaches for his sword to head towards the door.
Oops. Perhaps he should have better phrased it.
“Wait!” WXX calls out. Lan Xichen pauses, glances back at him incredulous as if to ask why Wei Wuxian of all people would be calm when Lan Wangji was in danger. Which, hey!
“It’s not a dangerous curse? At least we don’t think so. And you probably shouldn’t try and go near him?”
Hearing his calm if uncertain tone, Lan Xichen untenses, sitting down again. He fixes Wei Wuxian with a look very similar to his brother’s and Wei Wuxian internally curses himself for getting close to not one but two Lan’s that can interrogate him with a glare.
“I had thought the two of you were on a night hunt after a group of yao, not any creature or spirit that could affect the two of you in such a way.” Lan Xichen says.
“We were on a night hunt! We had finished subduing the yaoguai and were on the way back towards a neighbouring village when we noticed that Lan Zhan was under the effects of something. On the way here we narrowed it down to a curse. Lan Zhan doesn’t seem hurt?” Wei Wuxian frowns, “At least I don’t think so? He mostly seems a little embarrassed and overwhelmed.” Wei Wuxian then looks to Lan Xichen, as if asking for input.
“I see.” With a lack of anything else to do, Lan Xichen picks up his teacup and takes a measured sip. “What are the effects of the curse placed on Wangji?” he asks.
Wei Wuxian winces. He’d really not like to embarrass Lan Wangji by admitting to his brother that people keep trying to sleep with him. But they’ve spent the last two hours hiding out in an abandoned classroom out of the way of the residents of Cloud Recesses, hastily thumbing through any and all texts on hand about curses, and yet had gotten nowhere on the origin or counter of whatever curse had been placed on Lan Wangji. With Lan Wangji’s Chief Cultivator responsibilities resuming tomorrow, they really needed to clear this up before then.
“It’s a… love curse.” He eventually gets out.
“…oh.” Lan Xichen says. He coughs. Wei Wuxian sees the look on his face and quickly corrects his thinking.
“Not that kind!” Wei Wuxian flushes. “The curse appears to cause anyone who sees Lan Zhan to fall in love with him. Well, love or lust.”
“…I see.” Lan Xichen says. Any attempt at further conversation is interrupted by muffled sounds of protest as footsteps approach the Hanshi.
Both Wei Wuxian and Lan Xichen turn to look at the door.
The door to the Hanshi slams open, Jin Ling stands at the entrance, stubborn fury as he stares down two servants that unsuccessfully try to pull him back. Behind him, Ouyang Zizhen merrily watches the proceedings as though it were an amusing play.
“Da jiu-jiu could be in danger and you are preventing me from contacting Zewu-Jun because of courtesy?” Jin Ling’s voice cuts through the air.
The servants pause, stuttering.
Wei Wuxian internally wants to melt, his nephew is so cute! And caring! And shouty! A mini Jiang-Cheng in all but name.
Both servants try to continue to speak, urging Jin Ling away from the Hanshi, nervously apologizing to Lan Xichen for disturbing him, barely glancing at Wei Wuxian as they stammer out frantic excuses. Jing Ling continues to glare, before turning towards Lan Xichen as he begins to bow.
“Zewu-Jun, I-“ he catches sight of Wei Wuxian and does an impressive imitation of a fish.
Wei Wuxian smiles sheepishly. “Hi?”
Jin Ling closes his mouth. “You!” he says.
“Me!” Wei Wuxian replies happily. Ouyang Zizhen waves at him from Jin Ling’s side.
Jin Ling glowers at him. “We- I mean- Where were you?” he questions crossly. “We had a meeting at the Jingshi and you never showed up!” Jin Ling doesn’t whine, because he is a proper adult and future sect leader and much too mature for that, but what comes out of his mouth closely resembles one.
“We were- Sizhui and Jingyi were worried. They went to look for you guys near the bunny hutches and classrooms. Zizhen and I were going to alert Zewu-Jun.”
There’s an undercurrent of worry in his voice that causes Wei Wuxian to soften slightly. He’s about to reply when Jin Ling’s words register.
“Sizhui and Jingyi went to find Lan Zhan?”
At Zizhen’s tentative nod, Jin Ling having been stunned silent at the level of concern in Wei Wuxian’s voice, Wei Wuxian exchanges a look with Lan Xichen.
When Wei Wuxian hesitantly approaches the classroom that Lan Wangji and he had holed themselves in, he isn’t sure what to expect. Lan Xichen is lurking behind him, a few steps back so that he doesn’t become another casualty in Lan Wangji’s condition.
Luckily, the room isn’t on fire, Lan Wangji in a mortified mess on the floor or corner somewhere, or Lan Jingyi and Lan Sizhui in any way under the influence of a curse. Instead, what Wei Wuxian walks into is a picture straight out of the normal evening lessons Lan Wangji holds for the senior disciples, all three Lan cultivators sitting upright and peering intently at various texts and scrolls placed on the centre tables.
Lan Wangji looks up at Wei Wuxian’s entrance, face softening as he makes eye contact. His expression turns into what Wei Wuxian secretly calls his look, a tiny smile pulling the corner of his mouth, warm eyes, the faintest exhale as Lan Wangji relaxes in his presence.
“Wei Ying,” he calls gently.
Wei Wuxian takes him in for a moment, and then looks at the two juniors who are thankfully (gratefully) not throwing themselves at Lan Wangji.
“The curse is lifted?” he asks hopefully.
Lan Wangji gives a single shake of his head. Wei Wuxian creeps closer toward him, edging between Lan Sizhui and Lan Jingyi in case they make any move towards Lan Wangji.
“Do not worry,” Lan Wangji’s voice comes from his back, reassuring in its sincerity. “It appears the curse is only effective on those of age.”
“Oh, good?” Wei Wuxian says, and then jerks because he’s just remembered-
“Wangji?” Lan Xichen’s voice comes from the doorway.
Lan Wangji freezes, Lan Sizhui and Lan Jingyi shoot alarmed looks at each other. Lan Xichen, to his credit, only looks calm as he gazes intently at Lan Wangji, checking him over for injuries or any signs of discomfort.
At his brother’s continues inaction, Lan Wangji questions. “Xiongzhang?”
Lan Xichen hums in answer. Wei Wuxian glances between the two, contemplating. As no new events occur, he decides it’s safe and relaxes. Lan Wangji is unlikely to be accosted right at this moment.
“So… those who aren’t of age or blood-related are unaffected? At least we don’t have to worry about any kids throwing themselves at you anymore Lan Zhan.” Wei Wuxian says. “Are you sure the curse hasn’t faded by now?” he asks just to be sure.
“It has not,” Lan Wangji says, and studiously avoids Wei Wuxian’s gaze. The tips of his ears are red. Wei Wuxian narrows his eyes; he’ll get it out of Lan Wangji eventually. Jin Ling and Ouyang Zizhen cautiously nudge their way into the room, peering around from behind Lan Xichen. Now there is a total of seven people unaffected by the curse, including some of the best cultivators in the world. Wei Wuxian feels a bit better about their prospects.
“Well… let’s figure this out then,” Wei Wuxian says into the ensuing silence, and claps his hands together.
“Wei Ying is not affected by the curse.” Lan Wangji’s voice is soft, questioning. Wei Wuxian, who had been studying yet another text in an effort to find out how long the curse would remain in effect, looks up. The juniors and Lan Xichen had gone to the Lanshi and Hanshi in search of further research, and had left the two of them alone to avoid unwanted attention.
“Wei Ying has not tried to approach me.” Lan Wangji elaborates.
At Wei Wuxian’s silence he continues.
Lan Wangji’s brow furrows. “You have not tried to propose to or seduce me, yet you are not related to me by blood nor are you a child. Therefore, the curse has no effect on you.”
Truthfully, Wei Wuxian wouldn’t know if the curse affected him. Every day he wakes up and lives his life with his love of Lan Wangji held close to his heart, hidden and protected from everyone and everything.
Wei Wuxian loves Lan Wangji with whatever remains of him, it overflows into every aspect of his being, and he could not fathom a world where he does not love Lan Wangji, where he does not wake up with a lighter heart knowing that Lan Wangji is in his life, where he is not grateful to whatever gods may exist that for all he has done in his life, for all that he has lost, he is still allowed Lan Wangji. And for all Wei Wuxian has lost, he is not willing to risk Lan Wangji’s company, his care, his allowance of Wei Wuxian’s existence in his home and life with Wei Wuxian’s undesired affections.
Wei Wuxian has had to stop himself from pressing to close to Lan Wangji whenever he sees him, elegant and untouchable, the illustrious Hanguang-Jun, yet levelling Wei Wuxian with the look Lan Wangji only gives to Wei Wuxian when they meet eyes. Stop himself from taking Lan Wangji into his arms when he sees him happy and calm, quietly reading, gently petting the bunnies he had hidden away behind their Jingshi, meticulously combing through a-yuan’s hair during the nights their son joins them for dinner. Stop himself from pressing a kiss to Lan Wangji’s temple when he sees Lan Wangji in their Jingshi after a long day of work, hair let down from its usual elaborate hairstyle, clad only in loose under robes and carefully stringing his guqin, relaxed in a way only Wei Wuxian and Lan Sizhui are allowed to witness, comfortable and content in the home they had built together.
There are of course other times, a hundred others, a thousand, more, that Wei Wuxian had stopped himself from ruining whatever relationship with Lan Wangji. And so Wei Wuxian cannot tell if what he feels now is the bitter taste of longing that has become an old friend to him, ever present in his veins, or the effect of an external force.
But Lan Wangji sounds worried, perhaps unsure on how to react if Wei Wuxian in a fit of insanity tries to throw himself onto him, how to reject Wei Wuxian without harming their relationship. He can tell he’s been silent too long when Lan Wangji looks at him in concern.
Wei Wuxian laughs awkwardly to break up the silence.
“Don’t worry Lan Zhan, I won’t try and seduce you, I’ve never wanted to before and I never will,” he reassures him.
Evidently, he says something wrong, as Lan Wangji’s lips press together, face closing. “I see.”
The rest of their time together is tense.
“Lan Zhan!” Wei Ying calls out. He’s abnormally happy for the hour, because he’s just come back from the Hanshi. He’d originally visited to hide away from Lan Wangji and the strange atmosphere that had appeared out of nowhere, and then Lan Xichen had suggested him to look at the Sect Leader’s libraries for any information about Lan Wangji’s predicament. He’d managed to find a misplaced text that seemed to concern the curse.
The original text had been documentation of a curse researched during wartime, with the intent of constructing a variation of a compulsion curse, changing already present emotions into something else. The emotions experimented at the time had been anger and bloodlust, to be converted to fear and hopelessness as a way to gain an advantage when outnumbered or out-skilled in battle. Wei Wuxian can guess it would be pretty straightforward to modify the spell for other emotions. As Lan Wangji was the one affected, Wei Wuxian had proposed that the curse would manipulate admiration and attraction into love or lust. It makes sense, since the majority of the world respects Hanguang-Jun; if someone wanted to cause the maximum amount of damage, those two emotions would be very suited in doing so.
Wei Wuxian had regaled all of this to Lan Xichen, who had then promised to relay it back to Lan Wangji as Wei Wuxian had stayed back in the Hanshi to study more about the curse. If it was researched enough to find its way into the Sect leader’s archives, then a countermeasure would certainly exist. After all, Wei Wuxian knows himself just how common it is for accidents to happen during experimentation. He thinks he has a pretty good idea on how to stop this and is just about to alert Lan Wangji to it, yet he stops at the entrance of the classroom.
Lan Wangji’s mouth is pulled into a frown, and Wei Wuxian’s tentative smile drops as he comes closer towards him. Lan Wangji is staring at the book in front of him, shoulders tight. It’s the same book he had given to Lan Xichen with the request to deliver it to Lan Wangji.
“Lan Zhan?” he asks.
“Compulsion curses do not affect children and blood relatives.” Lan Wangji says.
Odd. Wei Wuxian nods, nudging Lan Wangji to the side as he tries to peer at the text. Perhaps he had missed something. Lan Wangji does not move. That, more than anything, tells Wei Wuxian there is something wrong as Lan Wangji instead stiffly pulls back from touch.
“There are no other exceptions.”
Oh. Perhaps he should have expected Lan Wangji to reach this conclusion earlier.
He tries to avoid the conversation. “Well… you never know? I mean dying-” at Lan Wangji’s flinch he winces, “and coming back and all, who knows how any strand of energy works on me now.”
“Wei Ying, there are no exceptions.” Lan Wangji turns to look at him, and instead of the anger or discomfort or even repulsion Wei Wuxian is expecting, there is only resigned sorrow.
“Any positive emotion associated with the person cursed is turned into admiration or lust. Wei Ying-” Lan Wangji stops, voice shaken. “You do not-” he cuts himself off, instead looking down back at the text.
The slope of his shoulders is slumped, far from its usual upright elegance. Wei Wuxian cannot comprehend why Lan Wangji would look so sad, so heartbroken. The curse’s manipulation of emotions is something Lan Wangji would understand, not necessarily be upset about. The only other thing mentioned were the exceptions, yet the thing that seems to bother Lan Wangji the most is the curse converting positive emotions into other ones, which Lan Wangji shouldn’t be surprised about. After all-
Oh. His wonderful fool of a soulmate.
Wei Wuxian has to choose his words carefully, unable to use his usual method of jokes and laughter as a deflection. Teasing Lan Wangji now would only hurt him, cause him to think Wei Wuxian was making fun of him, and Lan Wangji had asked him outright about this, which means his Lan Zhan is troubled enough by the implications of the curse to bring it up to Wei Wuxian.
“Lan Zhan, do you think I am not affected because I harbour no positive feelings towards you?” he asks quietly.
Lan Wangji remains silent, gaze fixed onto the table in front of him. “Wei Ying has not acted any different than usual.”
And that is correct, because Wei Wuxian hasn’t, treating Lan Wangji with the same familiarity and care as he would on any other day. The same amount of affection, the same amount of contact, the same amount of love. There is no way to explain it except for the truth, and Wei Wuxian cannot bring himself to lie about this to Lan Wangji, not when he is so effected.
“Lan Zhan,” he starts, and hopes his words will explain enough, “I may or may not be affected by the curse. Based on the research provided, I am neither related to you nor under age, and so the curse would fully be in effect.” Wei Wuxian's voice gentles. “If I am affected, I would not know, not when my feelings towards you remain the same regardless, not when my heart is unchanged.”
Lan Wangji freezes sometime in the middle of his speech. When he is done, Wei Wuxian watches him, pleads silently for any reaction, any indication that he hasn’t fucked this up more than he usually does. When nothing comes his heart sinks.
He’d thought at least-
Wei Wuxian has thought he’d be able to deal with Lan Wangji’s rejection; at least he would be kind. But now Lan Wangji offers him nothing and Wei Wuxian can feel the tell-tale tightness in his throat as his heart aches. This won’t be pretty, and Wei Wuxian cannot let Lan Wangji see his reaction.
“I’m sorry,” Wei Wuxian says, and
runs walks out the door.
Lan Wangji stares at his retreating back.
Lan Wangji finds him on the roof some time later. Wei Wuxian is taking in the view of Gusu. Despite the few fond memories of this place that he has, he can admit the place is beautiful, the calm tranquillity of Cloud Recesses against the serene backdrop of the mountains. He will miss this when he leaves for good.
Wei Wuxian throws back his drink, taking another gulp of Emperor’s Smile, hopes when he wakes tomorrow he won’t remember this conversation.
Lan Wangji calls his name again.
He says without turning to him. “Don’t worry Lan Zhan, I’ll be gone by tomorrow.”
Wei Wuxian hears Lan Wangji’s breath catch.
He smiles, a broken thing, before continuing. “The curse should terminate with the rise of the Sun, I found it in one of the supplementary pieces of research in the Hanshi. You’ll have to push back a few meetings, considering the unreasonable time you Lan’s wake up, but you’ll be cleared for your duties tomorrow. I’ll be gone by then; all my things are still in their packs, so I can pick up Little Apple and leave soon.”
Lan Wangji starts to say something, but Wei Wuxian interrupts. He is not of Gusu Lan, and so their ridiculous rules don’t apply to him.
“I don’t think any affected will remember what they did, the curse is like a very strong compulsion charm, it makes them think it was their own actions, and so nothing will stand out as strange to them and they’ll think on it as just another day. Perhaps some with particularly good memory might remember and get embarrassed, but a few skittish townspeople are nothing to worry about.”
“Wei Ying.” Lan Wangji says.
Wei Wuxian ignores him.
“I would like to meet with Lan Sizhui before I leave, if that is permitted,” the formal words feel wrong on his tongue, he’s never spoken to Lan Wangji like this even when they had first met. “Lan Jingyi as well if it is possible. I understand they might have other matters to attend to-” Wei Wuxian stumbles for the first time. “but I would still like to see them before I depart, it will only take a few minutes, and they-”
“Wei Ying.” A hand grabs his wrist as he’s interrupted. Wei Wuxian wants to push him away to wallow in peace, wants to clutch him closer and beg him to not leave, to love him back. Instead he falls silent, turns his gaze away so he won’t have to look at the disapproval in Lan Wangji’s face.
It’s Wei Wuxian turn to stare at Lan Wangji in shock. Lan Wangji only looks back at him, resolute. Contrary to his expectations, Lan Wangji’s gaze is still soft, the one that is only Wei Wuxian’s, a tentative smile as he looks at Wei Wuxian with the beginnings of wonder in his eyes.
Unwillingly, hope bleeds into his heart.
“Stay,” Lan Wangji repeats, and Wei Wuxian’s pulse begins to fasten. Lan Wangji knows by now what his unaffectedness meant, and yet he is still here, with Wei Wuxian, asking him to remain despite knowing that the curse will be broken tomorrow and he will be back to being Chief Cultivator, Wei Wuxian having no place in his life.
“Wei Ying, stay with me.” Lan Wangji says, and it’s what Wei Wuxian had secretly always hoped to hear whenever he left for his travels, always wanted to know that Lan Wangji wanted him by his side as much as Wei Wuxian had, on those cold lonely nights and days of empty solitude on the road as he travelled from place to place.
“If you wish to leave tomorrow morning then you may, if you wish to leave ever you are free to do so, but if not.” Lan Wangji swallows, the light of the moon caught on his throat, and Wei Wuxian in that moment so desperately wants, “If you wish to stay, then please stay with me.”
Horribly, Wei Wuxian feels his eyes start to sting.
Lan Wangji adds quietly. “I would like you to stay with me.”
Wei Wuxian drops his jar of Emperor’s Smile, pulls Lan Wangji in by his robes, a flash of joy springing in his chest at the surprised look that flashes across his love’s face, and enfolds him in an embrace. Wei Wuxian feels Lan Wangji shudder and soften all at once, turning pliant in his arms, as another pair comes round to clutch back at him. Wei Wuxian buries his face in Lan Wangji’s hair, and smiles into his neck.
It feels like coming home.